Mya loved Dorne, it was absolutely beautiful here, with all the unique buildings and roaming deserts. Even the water here felt wilder, and untamed. For as long as she could remember, she had never gone farther then the Black Lake and being here allowed her to see the ocean for the first time in her life. Even the little things, like the bazaars that dotted the city, felt so amazing and exotic to her. But despite all of these wonderful moments that filled her days, she still missed her home fiercely. Her brother was busy trying to put out fires all over the Vale, and she was here, on what was little more than a vacation. On top of that, she still wasn't sure how to feel about her father's death. He may have been a difficult man, and one she never truly understood, but she couldn't help but feel sad that he was gone. She didn't doubt the necessity of what her brother did, but her heart still felt heavy with guilt and shame over allowing it to happen.
Lysa had tried to help her, but she was still weak from delivering the baby and Mya knew that she was still struggling herself, even if she didn't show it. Besides, most of Lysa's time was taken up with caring for little Robert, and she was even watching over Daenerys when Mya was stuck in her daily lessons. She was tired and exhausted, and as much as Lysa wanted to help her, there was very little she could really do.
The Daynes had visited several times these past few weeks. They were always kind and they doted on them like family, bringing sweets and toys and spending hours telling stories. They were a pleasant distraction for the girls, and thankfully, no one made any mention of trying to take Dany from them. It seemed that Allyria was in the middle of a pregnancy herself, and while she still cared for her niece, she wasn't as frantic about the thought of losing the heir for House Dayne to some foreign fostership. Family was important to her; it's why Allyria came in the first place. But she had never met her niece before their arrival, and the Martells had repeatedly backed the Arryn's claim to the girl.
Daenerys herself was having a wonderful time though, crawling around the watergardens and exploring the castle endlessly. At only a little past a year old, she wasn't walking or even talking yet. But she still did her share of babbling and pointing to make sure she got her feelings across. Oberyn's long-time paramour, Ellaria Sand, had helped regularly with watching over both of the little ones. Something Mya was truly grateful for, as she couldn't help but feel completely lost when she was alone, trying to care for Daenerys herself.
Few of her original minders had survived the attack on the castle, and Jasper was too afraid to risk finding any replacements while they were still staying in Dorne. Thankfully, Ellaria had spent a considerable amount of time raising Oberyn's children, and she had a daughter of her own that was about Dany's age as well. She often brought the little girl while she helped care for the children, much to Dany's delight.
But Mya still felt exhausted though. Depression, nerves, and grief had all been taking their toll. And she had only managed to see her brother twice, throughout the entire time she'd been there. Once, briefly, while he was delivering various contracts and important documents for both Lysa and Doran to sign. And once, for a day, when he was able to sneak away from the castle and spend an afternoon with her.
It seemed like being away from him hurt just as much as the guilt and anxiety she struggled with. He had been her closest friend since she was a child and she missed him and couldn't help but worry about him constantly. Ever since the attack she had been haunted by dreams of blood and pain, and all she could do when she woke up was cry. Sometimes, even when she was awake, she would still see them. All it would take was a sound or a smell and she would suddenly find herself trapped, locked in her memories of the attack. Please, she thought desperately, let me go home soon.
Nymeria, the wonderful friend that she was, had been trying her best to help Mya cope and heal from all the trauma. Getting her to talk about her fears and her nightmares, pulling her back when she started slipping into a panic attack. She was always offering comforting words when she could. But Mya knew she wouldn't feel whole until she was home, and she knew her brother was safe again. Doran had been very understanding about the whole thing, and just told her that grief and fear had a way of effecting everyone, and that each person has their own way of coping. He urged her to use her time there to focus on healing, and to always be mindful of her emotions, lest they overwhelm her. He also made a point to caution her against making any decisions until she had a clear mind, as actions centered around feelings, typically were the ones we regretted doing the most.
However, despite her moods, she still managed to enjoy herself. Somehow. between her time with Nymeria, Doran, and Ellaria she had managed to meet the entire Martell family. From Doran's two children, Arianne and Quentyn to Nymeria's three other sisters- Tyene, Sarella, and Elia. If nothing else, she was grateful for the time she spent with each of them and was seriously considering trying to convince Ellaria and her children to come with her to Ironoaks when this was all over.
Jasper hadn't been idle while his sister was in Dorne. It seemed that every member of the smallfolk was either scared, angry, or in mourning. Many had felt close to their nobles, and a betrayal by them was a shock to the very foundation of their way of life. He ended up going through as many regions as he could, to personally reassure everyone that they were safe now and that he would never allow such a thing to happen again. While this was going on, he also took the time to survey all the territory that had been confiscated after the attack, and personally check the land, supplies, and anything else that might have been left out of the official documents. Something that proved to be extremely worthwhile, as he was able to uncover a considerable amount of gold that had been "missed," during the each of the earlier assessments.
In between that, and preparing Ironoaks for his sister, he also made sure to personally go over his past with Doran and draft numerous contracts for Lysa to sign. Thankfully, she didn't give him any trouble over them, and she agreed to all of his "requests" without complaint. Whether this was out of fear or simply a lack of political ambition, he wasn't sure, but he was grateful regardless. Essentially, she would not be able to interfere with his ruling of the Vale, get married, or bare any children until he came of age next year. He felt awful having to use the contracts on her, but he didn't want to leave anything up to chance, especially when she was officially his acting regent.
His weeks weren't without issue though, and already his ruling had been hit with scandal and criticism. Apparently, the few members of the Faith that had chosen to remain in the Vale had been killed, shortly after the initial riots. And while the murderers had been hanged, the damage was done, and many of the lords from neighboring kingdoms were enraged with such a light response on his part. They felt like this was proof that followers of the Old Gods were just a bunch of backwards barbarians and Jasper was unfit to rule. Thankfully, it hadn't stopped any trade or travelers, but diplomatically, things were strained with many of the other kingdoms.
Ned Stark had been sympathetic, however, and started writing letters to Jasper immediately following the attack on the Capital. Initially, when he had learned of Jon's death, Ned rallied his bannermen and made it all the way to the Neck before Jasper could get a raven to him. Despite learning that the castle had been retaken and steps were already underway to secure the rest of the Kingdom, Ned continued on to the Eyrie anyway. Ultimately, he stayed with Jasper until Jon's body was returned to them and laid to rest beneath the castle.
He was kind, and while they were never close during Ned's fostering, Jasper was happy to pursue the connection now. With the death of his father, the Vale had very few allies it could truly rely upon, and he wasn't about to turn away an opportunity when it was presented to him. Besides, from an economic perspective, The North was like a wellspring of untapped potential, and the Vale was in the perfect position to supply them with whatever goods they desired. Bigotry and politics had largely cut off the North from trade with the other Kingdoms. With only the Riverlands making any kind of regular exports to them.
On top of that, their customs and beliefs were the closest to his own out of all the kingdoms, aside from Dorne and its fairly modern views on gender equality. Thankfully, Ned was quick to agree to open his southern ports and start a line of trade between the North and the Vale. While the North didn't have a variety of sought after goods, they did have furs and wood and plenty of coin. Unfortunately, the Vale had very few ships to call upon, so Jasper was forced to hire a significant number of sailors through Gulltown and White Harbor so he could begin ferrying supplies between the two kingdoms.
One of the main imports Jasper was focusing on was timber, a valuable commodity in the Vale, where much of the wood that was available wasn't suited for specialized or delicate building projects. Ultimately, Jasper hoped to use it to build his own merchant fleet as a well as a decent Navy, one that could patrol the coast and protect his goods and sailors as they travelled throughout the Vale.
With his kingdom quickly becoming a major hub for trading across all of Westeros, he hoped to build upon that and expand across the Narrow Sea. Establishing more regular and open trade routes into the Free Cities, and possibly even the Stepstones, at least if they could ever be rid of the pirates that frequented them. More ships would also help increase his potential shipments into the North, and possibly even open up trade with Dorne in the future.
Unfortunately, pirate activity had been becoming increasingly more prevalent ever since the canal had been completed. With both Eastern and Western sides of the continent being affected, he knew it wouldn't be long before it spread into Vale waters directly.
He immediately started construction of two shipwrights, one in Heart's Home and one in Wickenden. But building them would take time, and the first ships might not be ready for a year, or possibly even longer. In the meantime, he began talks with House Manderly to buy some of their military and cargo ships, and he had already purchased several swan ships from the Summer Isles. The pirates were a problem it seemed Robert was either ignoring or waiting to deal with, and Jasper knew he needed to come up with a solution soon. Before they wreaked havoc on his shipping lanes or began harassing his smallfolk.
Pirates aside, however, things in the Vale were finally beginning to calm down. But Jasper still didn't dare try to bring back the girls. The Tyrells and Lannisters and even the Greyjoys were all just itching to make a move on the Vale. With Jon's death, it seemed like every kingdom in Westeros believed he was either vulnerable or in a position to be easily exploited. Even the Tully's were putting increasing pressure on Lysa to try and take control of the Eyrie and either remove Jasper or wed him to a loyal House in the Riverlands. Thankfully, no one had done anything more than write a few letters, and with things being so tense in King's Landing, he hadn't been summoned to swear fealty to Robert either.
He knew this was only a temporary reprieve however, and it wouldn't be long before someone decided to do something stupid. As far as the rest of Westeros knew, he was distraught over his father's death, and much of the local nobility was still reeling from a massive restructuring of power and territory. The more he thought about it, the more he realized the need to create some kind of an early warning system, even if it meant showing off a little bit of magic to do it. There was far too much of a risk of an attack or even for a resurgence in the riots.
He had quietly sent out knights and men at arms to various cities around the Vale, and he had the patrols doubled along the border. But when it came to sending messages, he didn't feel comfortable relying on ravens anymore. They were far too slow . Not to mention they held the risk of being shot down or intercepted. He needed something that was a lot more secure and immediate, especially where they could be coming from any part of the Vale.
Thankfully, ever since he had been a child in this world, he had been trying to use runes to recreate things he had encountered in his old life. And while he never could get a broom to fly, he was able to recreate the talking mirrors. He had originally planned to use them with Mya or even knights in the field, but he was never able to work out a small enough cluster to make it work with a handheld mirror, which was why he never implemented them in the past.
But now that subtlety and maneuverability weren't his main focus, he had no problem adapting the design to full-sized mirrors. He had them installed in all major locations in the Vale, from ports to watchtowers. It wasn't full coverage of Kingdom, but enough where he would get word of an invasion before it ever reached the Vale proper. Thankfully, after all the years of contracts, everyone believed him when he said that he had them sent from his contacts in Essos. Although, worryingly enough, he had heard rumors that both the Lannisters and the Tyrells had sent ships across the narrow sea, presumably to find their own little cult of shadow-binders.
It was not even two weeks later, that he got the first call on the mirror system. He was sleeping, and a frantic guard had to wake him because of the "talking spirit" in the great hall. It had taken him a moment, but Jasper quickly realized what he meant and ran out of his bedroom in nothing but his trousers.
It was Lysa's uncle, Ser Brynden Tully, the commander of the knights stationed at the Bloody Gate. Jasper felt a chill run up his spine, Lord Tully must have given up on waiting for Jasper's response. The loyalty contracts ensured Brynden would defend the castle, but how hard would he truly fight against his own brother? And if the castle fell, he knew it was only a two day ride to reach the Eyrie. If he wasn't able to break their forces before they arrived, he knew he was looking at a lengthy siege ahead of him. Of course he could harass their forces even amidst a siege, but he would be hard-pressed to take out an entire army single-handedly.
"I'm sorry for waking you, Lord Arryn. But I didn't think this should wait. I caught two people trying to sneak across the border, and they both claim to be members of House Lannister. What would you like me to do with them? I think they could be spies." Bryden asked, his voice gruff but calm.
Jasper's thoughts ground to a halt as soon as he realized he wasn't being invaded, at least not yet. He let out a sigh of relief and he couldn't help but feel some of the tension bleed off his shoulders. A few spies were certainly better than an army on his doorstep, even if they could be the prelude to one. He didn't waste another moment and just apparated straight into the Bloody Gate.
It took him barely a second to take in the room he appeared in. Ser Tully was standing in front of the mirror, a desk and some chairs sitting beside him. But it was what he saw behind the knight that really caught his attention. Two figures huddled there, a very short man and a young woman, both were wrapped tightly in a set of cloaks and they were dripping wet. He struggled to make out their features in the candle light, but he could tell that they were both fairly young. Neither of them were saying anything though, and they didn't seem very nervous of the situation they found themselves in either. They just stood there, resolute and maybe even a little curious of the magic that was unfolding around them.
His brief observation didn't last however, as a loud crack sounded the moment he appeared. As soon as they caught sight of him, the room exploded into motion, with all three of them jumping backwards and shouting at him. Ser Tully even started to draw his sword before he realized who he was, and caught himself.
"I apologize for the suddenness, but this seemed rather serious. Where did you find these two, and how do you know they're Lannisters?"
"Because I told him," The short man said softly, flashing a golden signet ring that rested on his finger. The Lion crest of House Lannister was clear as day, and Jasper eyed it carefully before nodding in agreement.
"My name is Tyrion Lannister, and this is my wife. We've come here seeking asylum from my family… I had heard that your kingdom was an ideal place for someone to start a new life, and that is something we are desperately in need of right now. By all accounts you're an honorable man, even if you've bound yourself to foreign warlocks. Will you help us, Lord Arryn?"
Jasper merely quirked an eyebrow, "And why would a Lannister be seeking asylum?"
Tyrion scowled and Jasper could see the rage and hatred simmering just below his calm. Already, both of his hands were in tight fists, and he could see the slight twitch in his arms. Whatever happened between them, it must have been serious for him to be this angry about it. "Because" Tyrion whispered. "My father is the most vile, evil man in the Westeros. He has no morals, no honor, and no real sense of what is truly right or wrong. He is nothing but a tyrant who will do anything for the sake of achieving his goals."
Jasper needed more than fiery speeches if was going to even consider granting them asylum, or even safe passage somewhere else. Gently, he peaked into Tyrion's mind and began sifting through his latest memories. He felt a tremendous fear and desperation from Tyrion as his favorite uncle, Gerion, pushed a bag full of coins into his hands and shoved him onto a horse with his beloved. Apparently, Tywin had found out about their marriage and was going to have it annulled immediately. But worse than that, he was adamant about teaching them both a lesson about marrying outside of their station. He was going to force Tyrion to watch as his beloved was raped by the entirety of the castle guard, and maybe even by Tywin himself, and then Tywin was going to either kill her or cut out her tongue. Before he could even begin to panic, Gerion smacked his horse and told him to run as fast and as far as he could. No place in the Westerlands was safe now, and Tywin had already sent out riders searching for them. Tyrion's first thought was to make it to the nearest harbor and sail for Braavos, or perhaps even the North. House Stark had no love for his family, but they were honorable, and it was easy to disappear in the far reaches of their Kingdom. But he knew Tywin probably had someone already watching the ports, and even if he didn't, they'd still never make it out of Lannisport without being recognized… No, the one place his father would hesitate to follow them was the Vale. Tywin had spoken to him several times about the rumors of magic there, and Lord Arryn's various dealings with the warlocks in Qarth and possibly even Yi Ti… Yes, they would head for the Vale.– Jasper backed out of his mind, and merely blinked a few times.
"I suppose you would know his true self better than anyone, you are his son after all. The Vale is always welcome to strangers, but I'm afraid I wouldn't be able to let you wander about my kingdom without an escort. You can return with me to my castle, and you're welcome to stay there for as long as you like, as my guests of course. Just mind yourself and your manners, and we'll get along fine… Ser Tully, please forgive my earlier interruption, but I'll be taking these two with me now. If you wouldn't mind, please have a courier bring their belongings up to the castle."
Without even stopping to take a breath, he grabbed Tyrion and his wife, he still didn't even know her name, and apparated back to the great hall. Obara was just running into the room when they arrived, totally naked and carrying nothing but a spear. "The guard told me you had bloody disappeared again. What did I tell you about running off on your own, Jasper?!" Her cheeks were red, from running, he was sure. Dorne didn't have a nudity taboo, or maybe that was just her, he mused.
She smacked the back of his head, bringing his thoughts back to the present, before she added, "Did you even look at yourself? You're in your trousers! What would you have done if you were attacked, hmm?"
He never had a chance to answer though, as both Lannisters started throwing up behind him. He sighed, "I'll wake you next time. In the meantime, my Lady, they need a room to sleep in and we both should probably get on some clothes."
Tyrion's wife, Tysha, or so he later learned, was a member of the smallfolk. She wasn't sure what to do when they woke in the morning, so she had gone straight to kitchens to start working. Obara had simply grabbed her by her skirts and hauled her back to a table, muttering about guests not having to cook for themselves. Jasper ignored her father's muttered comments about collecting strays and just ate his breakfast with a smile. He had no idea what he would do with the pair of them, but for the moment they were his guests, so he let them be.
He imagined this is how it would have gone if he had rescued Elia and her children, cordial, if a little distant. Already he itched for the comfort of, at the very least, a secrecy contract. But he stayed his hand, they both had been through a lot, and he would let them enjoy some peace for a bit first. They were surrounded by guards, and he would go over all the contracts after they ate.
By the time he got around to actually doing it though, it was late afternoon. The couple had spent hours exploring the library and the godswood, and even the stables. Thankfully, they both agreed to secrecy contracts, and although it didn't make any mention of magic, it did cover the secrets of House Arryn, the Eyrie, and the Kingdom of Vale. They also agreed to Loyalty contracts, after a very careful review of the wording. Once they were sure that it only meant they wouldn't betray his House or act against it, they grudgingly signed it. Both were his only requirements to staying in the Vale, and in turn, the Eyrie. He wasn't sure if he'd send them to Ironoaks, as his sister's castle would have far less magical things around, but he never got the chance. The mirror went off once more, and with it, the news that Jasper had been fearing finally arrived, although not in the way he expected. The Greyjoys had launched attacks on Seaguard and Lannisport, and they were spotted making their way up the Blue Fork, towards Saltpans and likely Gulltown.
Whatever they were after, it didn't look like it was just the Vale, but all the Seven Kingdoms with it.
i /) ')
AN: I did a quick edit, to just to fix a few things. I had a moment in IRL right before posting where I couldn't focus on writing or even editing anymore and just posted it. This should be a little better now, sorry about that!
Here is a list of ages for people as of this chapter.
Tyrion- 14, Tysha- 15, Jasper- 15, Lysa-17, Eddard- 22, Catelyn- 20, Jasper- 15, Mya- 11
Arianne (Princess and heir to Dorne)- 10
*I know these are children he had with other women, in my version of events, he was more willing to take them in immediately after their birth. Also, he started his relationship with Ellaria fairly early on. She was likely to join in with him on these "adventures," so I don't find that unlikely to have occurred, even if he was with others at the time. She thinks of them all as her children even if she didn't give birth to them, and she raised them all herself, with Oberyn. However, by birth, only Elia is hers.
Also, I know I mentioned this before in chapter 8, but I will add it here for those of you that inevitably missed it. Ashara Dayne, Daenerys' official mother, had surviving family in Dorne. With both Ashara and her brother Arthur dead, that only leaves Allyria as the head of House Dayne. As such, Daenerys was the current heir of House Dayne, until Allyria bears a child. Please note this is not due to gender, but rather because Ashara was the youngest of the siblings, as such Allyria's children have a higher claim then Ashara's. As noted previously, I'm retconning Allyria's unnamed brother.