Ashara Dayne was a beautiful young woman of sixteen name-days. She had a beautiful hourglass figure, bountiful breasts, and piercing violet eyes. She had been the object of lust and desire of many men, and more than a few women, ever since she first flowered and Ashara knew it. Every Dornish girl was taught about the powerful weapon that is beauty, and Ashara was a master at wielding hers. She had managed to get many different gifts, and a treasure trove of useful information, all with nothing more than a coy look and a sultry smile. It didn't matter if she never took any of them to her bed, while she had experimented a bit she remained a maiden to this day, weak willed fools still lined up to give her whatever she asked.

She loved and hated it in equal measure. Oh, it was a useful tool to use, and she used it to her advantage whenever possible. But it made even speaking with someone as an equal difficult. Women, those that didn't wish to bed her at least, tended to be jealous and acidic towards her. It wasn't her fault that their paramours and husbands wouldn't stop drooling on her. The men were even worse, they gave her whatever she asked and whispered honeyed words, but they also looked down on her. As if she was nothing more than a pretty face to be rutted, and whatever lay between her ears was in no way important to them compared to what was between her legs.

She hoped Brandon Stark would be different. While she held some hope, due to the fact that the North was the only other Kingdom that had any traditions of Northern women fighting in battle, and they would even turn over control of a House to a woman when there was no clear male heir. She wouldn't let herself hope too much however, as setting the bar high for men to take women seriously outside of Dorne tended to be a recipe for failure.

She stood in the courtyard of the Sunspear, her foster-mother Princess Deria standing next to her. On the Princess's other side, Prince Doran also stood. On Ashara's other side was Princess Elia, Ashara's foster-sister and best friend. Finally, standing next to Elia was Jaime Lannister, Elia's betrothed. He seemed like a nice enough boy, and he had been kind to Elia so far. While he and Elia had struck up a friendship, it hadn't expanded to any real feelings yet as Jaime had seemed rather subdued.

She supposed that he had most likely fallen for some serving girl or a knight's daughter around Casterly Rock, but that was honestly pretty common amongst the nobility. She had no doubt he would forget whatever girl it was and fall for Elia soon enough, it was hard to not love Elia. She was such a kind girl, and rather beautiful. While Ashara had no real attraction to the same-sex, she had expiremented with Elia before, and could admit that she was one of the most beautiful women in Realm.

She perked up as a few Martell guards began to stream into the courtyard, leading Oberyn along with Lord Brandon and his party into the courtyard. It was easy to pick out her future husband among the group, he was the one riding on a massive and sleek black stallion, and it was one of the finest horses she had ever seen. Obviously one of the now famous Ryswell Warhorses, she could see why the beasts had become so sought after around Westeros. Ashara would admit that she wasn't an expert on horses or warfare, but Ashara had never seen a horse so massive, and it still looked as if it could run quite fast. She wouldn't want to be the one on the other end of a charge of those horses.

Walking next to the horse was a massive brown bear, which must be Lord Brandon's companion Yogi, the one that earned him the title of Beartamer. The bear certainly looked fierce, it stood at almost seven feet tall on all fours, and had to be at least thirteen feet tall if it stood on its back legs. While she was not familiar with the normal facial expressions of bears, this one obviously scowled at everything around it, as if he was standing in one of the Seven Hells and they all were its demonic denizens. She hoped this merely the bear's reaction to being in the deserts of Dorne, instead of its normal state of being.

"Lord Brandon Stark." Princess Deria said, stepping forward while nodding to the young man who had gotten down from his horse. "It is an honor to meet you. Allow me to introduce to you Lady Ashara Dayne of Starfall, your betrothed. This here is my son Prince Doran, and that is my daughter Princess Elia. Standing next to Elia is her betrothed, Lord Jaime, Heir of Casterly Rock. Please, have bread and salt, and be welcome to Sunspear."

Servants carried forward a platter of bread and a bowl of salt. Lord Brandon and his companions all took a small piece of the bread, before dipping it in the salt and eating it in a few bites. After the Guest Rites were established, Lord Brandon stood forward and sketched a quick bow, low enough to be respectful but not so low as to show submission.

"Princess Deria, the honor is all mine. You have a lovely family, and Prince Oberyn has regaled me with many tales on our short ride through the city. I did not expect to meet you here, Lord Jaime but it is a distinct pleasure, of that there is no doubt. Last, but most certainly not the least, I am incredibly pleased to meet you Lady Ashara. The tales of your beauty have been greatly understated." Said Lord Brandon, greeting each of them in turn with either an arm clasp or a kiss to the back of the hand. Lord Brandon lingered longer of her hand, before giving her a wink and a roguish grin.

Ashara smiled back warmly, but did not blush as she was sure many a maiden had for that grin. Ashara had been courted by nearly every man in Dorne of marriageable age, and the majority of those who weren't. It would take much more than a charming smile to charm her, though to Lord Brandon's credit while his eyes held desire and appreciation, they held none of the disturbing hunger so common in the eyes of other men.

"Lord Brandon, it is my pleasure to meet you." Ashara responded sultrily, and was pleased to see a small blush form on Brandon's face.

"The pleasure is all mine." Brandon responded, hiding his blush with another grin.

"Now that introductions have been had, let us retire to the castle. I am sure that you and your companions would appreciate the chance to bathe and rest from the road, Lord Brandon. A small room that is normally a solar attached to yours has been set aside for your bear, though I do have to ask what kind of food the beast prefers?" Princess Deria asked, leading the way into the Tower of the Sun.

"Thank you, Princess Deria, we would most certainly appreciate a chance to bathe. My good friend Yogi here prefers fresh fish when it can be procured for him, particularly salmon and cod, though I do wonder if I could request a few fruit pies be brought for him as well? The desert has not been kind to my companion, and fruit pies are his favorite treat." Lord Brandon responded, speaking in a very fond tone of his furred companion. Ashara also noted that the bear perked right up at the mention of pies, and made a mental note to remember that. Pie would be a good bribe for the bear if she ever had a need.

"Of course, Lord Brandon, that would be no trouble at all." Princess Deria said, nodding to some servants who scurried off to carry out the request.

The walk to the guest quarters in the Tower of the Sun was a short one. The rooms were spacious and open, with great large windows to let in the breeze coming from the sea. The room attached to Lord Brandon's, usually a solar for the use of visiting Lords to use when negotiating on deals with the Prince or Princess of Dorne, had been cleared of all the furniture. The floor was covered with what looked like a great many soft cotton blankets, and there was a large bathtub filled with water for the bear to drink from. Yogi ambled right in, before curling up to sleep by the window, most likely deciding to nap in the breeze until his supper was brought to him.

"Servants should be by soon with the meal for your companion and to draw you all baths, the rest of you are invited to dine with myself and my family, along with Lord Jaime this evening in our private dining room. A servant will be sent to tell you when it is time." Princess Deria informed them with a small nod and smile, before striding down the hallway and out of the guest wing.

"I look forward to seeing you again tonight at dinner, Lord Brandon." Ashara said, making her own exit. "I hope we can get to know each other better in preparation for our coming wedding."

"I look forward to it as well, my Lady. But please, call me Bran or at least Brandon, as all my friends do. I too hope that we will be able to build a true relationship in the coming days." Lord Brandon told her sincerely, giving her a small bow and a warm smile.

Ashara left the guest wing, lost in thought. While Lord Brandon had impressed her so far, that didn't mean anything. A single conversation was not enough to get the measure of a man, and hoped that his laid-back and pleasant disposition was not just another mask like so many others wore.

The Shadow City was unlike any other city I had traveled through. So different from the wide and orderly streets of a Northern city, where they had profited from either slow growth or orderly planning, the Shadow City was the exact opposite. The streets were narrow, with barely enough room for two horses to pass side by side. Carts took up the entire of the streets they traveled, with only enough room for people to walk around it single file. Because of this, carts were restricted to using the streets as One-Ways, with signs at every corner with arrows, depicting the ways in which carts were permitted to travel.

While the penalties for breaking these rules were not overly harsh, the merchants all followed them readily enough. Time was money, and nothing took more time than having to walk a wagon backwards down a narrow alley. This gave the chaotic layout of the city some semblance of order.

It did not help with navigating it however, and I had no doubt that if it were not for my companions I would be hopelessly lost. We had dined with Princess Meria that evening, and afterwards we had all decided to go out into the city, and find a tavern for a nightcap. As most Noble heirs discovered, one could talk much more freely in a tavern, then under the strict rules of conduct that came with dining in a castle with nobility. Alcohol also had a way of loosening tongues and restrictions on people, and it could be a good way of seeing the true nature of a person as long as both parties didn't over-indulge. Even then, it was always good to know if someone was a drunkard.

While I drank quite regularly, most people who enjoy alcoholic beverages can tell you there are many different levels of drinking. I had wine and beer on a daily basis, as water was not safe to drink at most places in Westeros, and boiling water took time. Even then, I had noticed that some servants would bring me unboiled water when I requested it boiled, likely not seeing any difference and believing I wouldn't either. While I was quick to point it out in the North, where I could prevent anyone from punishing them too harshly, I was hesitant to do so anywhere else. I did not like the idea of someone losing a hand over something that was rather small in the grand scheme of things. As it was, I only really got drunk on occasion, most certainly not every day.

My companions and I ended up in a tavern known as The Salty Lass, and a sultry painting of a woman's silhouette on the front sign. I was here with Stannis and Howland as par for the course, along with Ser Jaime and the Dornish contingent. Only Prince Doran and Princess Deria had decided to stay back in the castle, as Doran had never enjoyed going to taverns, and Princess Deria had stayed to allow us younger people to let our hair down a bit more. Likely, she saw this as a good chance for Ashara to get the measure of me, and didn't wish to interfere.

We sang, drank, and danced for hours. While I danced with Elia a few times, who was quite nimble on her feet despite tiring quickly, I spent the majority of my time dancing with Ashara. She was the most skilled dancer I had ever met, and more than matched me step for step. The Salsa dance was quite common and popular in Dorne, and she put my own performance with Yogi at Howland's wedding to shame. Jaime and Elia danced a beautiful tango, and the two of them actually made a rather striking couple. Oberyn danced with every lady present, from Ashara and Elia down to the last serving girl, and danced with quite a few of the men as well. I declined when he asked me however, as while I was confident enough in my sexuality to enjoy a dance with a friend in good humor, I knew of Oberyn's proclivities and had no wish to give him a false impression. I had no problem with his sexuality, but it wasn't one I shared. There would be no future threesomes between him, Ashara, and myself.

None of us drank so much as to be truly pissed, but we all had flushed faces and tipsy smiles. It was as we were sitting around, all of us quiet and catching our breath, that we overheard a nearby conversation from a couple of merchants that recently arrived in the city from near Shandystone.

"It was crazy, I tell ya!" One man said loudly, waving his arms about him as he spoke. "We was camping out one night, 'bout three or four days after we left Shandystone. As we was all getting snug in our tents, suddenly the ground started shaking something fierce! It was like a group of giants were all stomping around, or like the gods themselves had jumped to the ground from the seven heavens! It only lasted for a few moments, but we could barely even keep our feet as it did! Then, a few days later we was passing through the hills, and we saw it! Right on the side of one of the hills, there was a great big doorway! I musta travelled that road a thousand times before, and I ain't ever seen nothing like it!"

"You're daft, old boy. Musta been cooked out in the sun, you was just seeing things." A second man waved him off dismissively.

"Nah, Karym, he be telling the gods' honest truth. I came down from Shandystone and musta got here a day or two after him. I be seeing that doorway there, for true, and it was a great big thing alright! More fancy than the gates to any Lord's castle I've seen, it was. Thought about going in and finding me some treasure, but when I be getting close to it, it was like me whole body be shivering in the cold. I ain't so stupid as to ignore what my body and the gods be saying, so I left that treasure to some other fools, and be on my way right quick." A third man confirmed, waving his drink around in his hand.

"My my, now doesn't this sound interesting." Oberyn commented to us with a playful smirk on his face.

"Very interesting." I return his smirk. Turning to Ashara, I ask her, "It's like what, a six day trip to Shandystone? That'd mean this doorway would only be three days' travel from here, probably only two if we took horses."

"That's true." Ashara said with some interest. "Are you both thinking of going to explore this? It could turn out to be nothing more than tall tales after all."

"Who cares? It may not lead anywhere, but it will be an adventure none-the-less." Oberyn countered.

"I'm in." I said with a smile and a nod. "What about all of you?"

Oberyn immediately smiled and nodded, and Howland and Stannis both agreed as well. Jaime also agreed with a cocky grin, and Ashara and Elie decided to come along as well.

"Now Elia, mayhaps it would be good for you to stay here?" Oberyn asked with concern.

"Absolutely not, little brother. If you all are going to go harrying off on some ill-advised attempt to find a treasure that may not be there, I will most certainly be accompanying you. I will not allow you, or my new betrothed, to get yourselves into danger without me there. You solve every problem by stabbing it, little brother, and Jaime would stab it as well just to show that he can stab it better." Elia said firmly, smirking at both of them. Oberyn and Jaime both looked mildly affronted, but neither one argued with her any further.

"Then it is decided." Ashara cut in. "We can go searching after rumors and tales on the morrow. For now, perhaps it is time we go back to Sunspear."

"Of course, my Lady. Allow me to escort you," I said, holding out my arm as I stood up.

"Thank you, my Lord, I would love to have you escort me home." Ashara answered with a warm smile that I returned.

We had been traveling up the road to Shandystone for about three days now. Princess Deria had rolled her eyes at us as we told her our plans, but had put up no real argument against it. We had departed Sunspear the next day, leaving Yogi behind. The bear didn't want to travel the desert anymore than necessary, and Princess Deria was gracious enough to host the bear during our adventure. The eight of us, Bennard having refused to allow Stannis to go without him, had been taking a leisurely pace. Also along with us were about a dozen different armsmen, of a mix of both Stark and Martell men. We were in no real hurry, and didn't wish to miss anything because we had rushed by it. All of us were beginning to have our doubts about the validity of the tale, however.

"I don't know, Oberyn. I think this is a wild goose hunt." Jaime remarked sarcastically.

"Bah! We have only just reached the general area where the doorway was supposed to be, it is not surprising we haven't seen anything yet." Oberyn responded.

"Now Jaime, don't tell me you haven't been enjoying my company?" Elia asked with a teasing grin.

"Never Princess," Jaime answered with his trademark cocky smile. "I do not think anyone could not enjoy the company of a beauty such as you."

"Flatterer," Elia smiled. "But I hope it is not just my beauty that has you enjoying my presence."

"Of course not!" Jaime exclaimed, jokingly aghast. "Your beauty is matched only by your wit and intelligence."

"Hmph," Elia harrumphed, still smiling. "As it should be."

"I hope you have found my company equally as enjoyable, Brandon." Ashara said to me, a playful smirk on her face.

"Beyond enjoyable, my Lady." I told her grandly, returning her smirk. "Why, I am honored that a lady as beautiful and charming as you would even deign to speak with me."

"Oh, I don't know my Lord." Ashara teased. "You are not without charm yourself."

"Why thank you. I do try." I said.

I had been about to continue our light flirting, when we rounded a bend in the road. Just up ahead, and about a quarter mile off the road, was a large and imposing gateway set into the side of the hill. It was more than that, however, as looking more closely it seemed that it wasn't a hill at all. The earthquake the merchants had mentioned must have dropped all the sand off of a massive sandstone building. The doorway was shaped like the open mouth of a massive turtle, and what the merchants mistook for a hill was actually a stone building shaped like the turtle's shell.

"This must be a temple of The Old Man of the Sea." Elia remarked. "He was said to be the son of Mother Rhoyne, the chief goddess of the religion of the ancient Rhoynar. We learned about them in our lessons, and the Orphans of the Greenblood still worship them."

"This building is old. Quite old, at least a few thousand years." Howland commented, examining the stone work.

"This must have been built just after Nymeria's conquest." Oberyn deduced. "Most likely by the original Rhoynar. But why build a temple to a god of the sea this far from the ocean, or where anyone resides?"

"Most likely because they did not want anyone to come here. Shandystone was built centuries after Nymeria's Conquest. No one would have been traveling through here in those times." Ashara answered him.

"Which means that this is most likely not a temple of worship, but one built to house something that Nymeria did not want found." I concluded.

"Well this is what we came for! Let's go investigate!" Jaime said, climbing off his horse.

We tethered the horses to some nearby cacti, leaving the guards outside the temple to watch them. The last thing we needed was some bandits coming along and stealing our mounts and supplies. We walked up to the gateway, and all of us stepped forward to heave open the gates. They were hard to open, and they groaned and squealed as they did. It opened up to a long and empty hallway, the darkness making it impossible to see the end. We all grabbed a lit torch in our left hands, keeping our weapons handy in our right. Oberyn went to step forward, but Howland roughly grabbed him and pulled him back.

"We must be wary of traps." Howland said, using the handle of his trident to push down on the brick Oberyn almost stepped on. Immediately, a great many crossbow bolts flew through the space Oberyn would have been standing in, coming out from a hidden alcove in the wall. Oberyn gulped, before giving Howland a thankful nod.

With Howland in the lead, his skilled crannogman eyes on the lookout for traps, we made our way into the temple. Everything was old, and partially crumbled, with vines and cobwebs covering the different surfaces. Light was let in through some cleverly placed small windows, and with the torches it was easy enough to see where we were going. The hallways themselves were circular in shape, almost like a long stone pipe, and it took us on a long circular route through the temple, different traps every dozen feet or so.

There were more of the crossbow traps from the entrance, and many other kinds as well. There were stones that when stepped on, caused the floor to collapse underneath you and drop you into a deep pit filled with sharpened stakes. There were spears that shot out of the ground and impaled the unwary, and there were even ones that would collapse part of the ceiling on your head. I had no doubt that if it wasn't for Howland, we would have all been dead within the first twenty yards.

Finally we made it to the center of the temple, and a grand open room. While time and age had most likely taken away most of the grandeur of the room, it was still impressive. Gold gilded pillars, intricately carved ceilings, and beautiful mosaics whose color had faded were spread all throughout. Sitting in the center of the room, on a circular stone altar, sat what appeared to be a gold tablet. It was covered in foreign writing that I couldn't place, and shone brightly in the room.

I stepped carefully around the sides of the walls, making sure not to step onto anything that could spring a trap. I was examining one of the mosaics, trying to place the scene it was showing, but the artwork was heavily faded and hard to make out. I turned around to ask one of the Dornish if they recognized it, when I noticed that Jaime had stepped up to the altar and was reaching for the tablet.

"Stop!" I yelled, as I sprinted across the room, but it was too late. Jaime picked up the tablet, and looked at me with a small grin.

"You worry too much, Stark." He said sardonically.

At that moment, the altar let out a loud grinding noise as it sunk into the floor. Immediately, the temple started shaking and parts of the ceiling were coming down onto our heads. I ran forward, grabbing Ashara's hand as I went by, and pulled her towards the doorway.

"You don't worry enough, Lannister!" I yelled, as we all sprinted back into the hallway. We let out a sigh of relief as we noticed that the hallway wasn't collapsing like the room, but the relief was short lived. We heard a loud scraping noise that was getting closer, and turned back to get a better look. A massive and perfectly round boulder had come loose from the roof of the chamber we had just left, and was now rolling down towards the hallway with alarming speed.

Those circular hallways made a lot of sense now.

"Run!" Howland yelled.

I threw Ashara forward, making sure to keep her in front of me, and booked it down the corridor. Seeing Elia falter, Jaime shoved the tablet into her arms and picked her up in a princess carry, as we all ran as fast as we could. The hallway was long though, and the boulder was nipping at our heels by the time we got close to the exit. Bolting out into the sunshine, we all dove for different sides of the temple, and the boulder came careening out the doorway. It got air off the steps, before it slammed into the sand, and rolled a few dozen more feet before it finally stopped.

We got to our feet, all of us breathing heavily, and began to brush the sand off ourselves. We heard a sudden rumbling noise, and we all jumped back as the entire temple began to collapse. The great stone turtle fell into itself with a resounding crash, sending a great plume of dust into the air. The stones all settled, the sand rushed into the empty space, and by the time we could see clearly all traces of the temple were gone. Where it once stood was now just empty desert, with a bunch of rocks sticking out of the sand, but impossible to identify.

I turned to Jaime with a raised eyebrow and a teasing smile. The young Golden Lion didn't say anything, just giving me an embarrassed grin while he rubbed the back of his neck. That was when Elia came up, and slapped him.

"That was for almost killing all of us!" She yelled at him. Then, she grabbed the back of his neck and yanked him down, before kissing the daylights out of him.

"And that was for saving my life." She finished, before curling into his side. Jaime just stood there with a poleaxed expression, seemingly stunned on just what to do. We all laughed only slightly hysterically at the look on his face, all of us relieved to still be alive.

"You recognize any of the writing on that?" I eventually asked, once we had all caught our breath and I noticed Oberyn studying the golden tablet.

"Not really," Oberyn said non committedly. "I mean, I have seen some of these letters before, but I can't read it. I know it is definitely in the language of the ancient Rhoynar, but besides a few Maesters and the Orphans of the Greenblood there aren't many who can still speak it, much less write it."

"That's a shame. I doubt the Orphans would translate it for us, they would most likely keep whatever it says to themselves." Ashara commented, going up to look at the tablet herself.

"I did say there were a few Maesters who would be able to read it." Oberyn responded with a grin. "I happen to have a rather good friend who is one such Maester, and he just so happens to be staying in Planky Town right now."

"To Planky Town then!" I exclaimed, all of us heading over to our guards to break camp and head on out.

Planky Town, as most Westerosi places, looked exactly as the name implied. A massive shanty town, with every building made up of rather impressively milled boards. Without a water powered sawmill, it must have taken thousands upon thousands of man hours to make all of the boards for the buildings in this city. There was a reason most smallfolk made their homes out of mud bricks instead of wood, and it wasn't just because the Lord who ruled over them wouldn't let them cut down any trees.

We met up with Oberyn's friend in a small but well appointed inn. There was a small crowd inside making a good deal of noise, which was rather fortuitous as it would help keep our presence unnoticed. We all sat around a table in the corner, keeping quiet to prevent eavesdroppers. Oberyn, Elia, Ashara, and Bennard sat on one side facing the wall, and Stannis, Howland, Jaime, and I all sat on the other side. Sitting at the head of the table, was Oberyn's friend, Maester Marwyn.

The future Archmaester of Magic had a barrel shaped chest, with long and beefy arms, and had a well-trimmed yet still scraggly beard. It was obvious he had Ibbenese heritage. He wore light clothing common to Dorne, and his impressively long Maester's chain hung from his neck.

"So, what does it say?" Oberyn finally cut in, interrupting Marwyn's muttering to himself.

"You are sure the temple you found this in was destroyed?" The maester asked instead.

"No, it's perfectly fine. It only fell down on our heads as we tried to escape it." I responded sarcastically.

"No need to be touchy," Marwyn said, grinning in good humor. "I just wanted to make sure. This is an amazing find! I have never seen anything like it! I've seen gold statues, and gold gilded silverware, but never have I seen a golden tablet made to preserve the writing."

"Yes, yes, it's all very exciting." Jaime said snarkily. "Now, could you please get with the translation?"

"Ah! Of course!" Marwyn said, obviously pretending to have not heard the request before. "This tablet here apparently contains a set of clues to find something called the Cradle of Genesis."

"You're joking!" Oberyn exclaimed, before quickly looking around. He grabbed Marwyn's shoulder and pulled his face close before continuing much more quietly. "The legendary Cradle!?"

"The very same." Marwyn said smugly.

"What is the Cradle of Genesis?" Stannis asked.

"The people of the Rhoynar were split up into many different city-states," Ashara explained. "And each of these city-states was ruled by their own Prince or Princess. While the city-states were interconnected, and recognized each other as one people, each one still retained their independence. The First Among Equals however, was the Prince or Princess of Chroyane. Not only was Chroyane the largest, richest, and most grand of them all, but the rulers of Chroyane were entirely unmatched in their power over water, and it was said to be because of the Cradle.

"Before the ruler would be crowned as Prince or Princess, they were said to spend the night lying within the Cradle. When morning came, and they awoke, they would be able to command the waters almost akin to a god itself. They were said to be able to conjure water from the air, and make it dance to their bidding. It was said they could create massive creatures from water itself, and command them to strike down their enemies.

"In the legends, when the wars with Valyria began, it was always the ruler of Chroyane who would turn the tide in any battle. They would throw out streams of water from their hands to put out the fires of the dragons, and would create birds made of water and command them to hary the Valyrians. It was said that not one of them ever fell in battle to one of the dragonlords, at least, not until the final Prince of Chroyane.

"Not much is known about the fall of Chroyane. It was the last bastion of the Rhoynar people in Essos, and there were very few survivors who managed to escape. It was always believed that the Valyrians had either destroyed the Cradle, or taken it to Valyria, where it would later be lost forever to the Doom."

"Indeed, that is the tale." Marwyn continued. "However, this tablet says a very different tale. According to this, the final Prince of Chroyane had the Cradle smuggled out on a ship before the Valyrians arrived. That ship would later meet up with Nymeria's Fleet, and make its way to Dorne."

"Now that is quite interesting." Said a man who turned around from the table next to us, his voice making all of the Dornish freeze in their seats.

"Who are you?" Jaime barked rudely.

"Of course, where are my manners? My name is Gerold Dayne, though some call me the Darkstar." The now named Gerold answered cockily.

My eyes widened, quickly darting around the inn. The crowd had cleared out while we were busy talking, and even the innkeeper had made himself scarce. The only people left in the inn were ourselves, our guards, and Gerold and the men he had with him. They outnumbered us, having about four men for our every three.

"To think you would find a clue to the location of the Cradle of Genesis." Darkstar said, signalling to his men who all pulled out small Myrish crossbows, and trained them on us. "I'll be taking that."

Gerold stepped forward, plucking the tablet right out of Marwyn's hands. We all stayed still, fully realizing the precarious situation we were in. While the crossbows were unlikely to kill us all before we could escape, it would be a close thing.

"Yes, I think I will be finding the Cradle for myself. With it, I'll be able to not only take Starfall, but Sunspear itself." Darkstar near whispered reverently. He started walking towards the door, all of his men not moving an inch. As he got to the doorway, he paused for a moment.

"Kill them." He said, not even turning around.

I quickly dove across the table, tackling Ashara and rolling under the table next to us. I saw all of our companions ducking as well, and our guards all sought whatever cover they could. I still saw most of them fall, however.

The thing about crossbows though, is that they weren't exactly fast to reload. While Myrrish ones were much faster than the standard crossbow, it still wasn't fast enough. We all pulled our weapons, leaping into the fray before they could switch to their sidearms.

Swinging Frostbite, I slashed the throat of the first man on my right side, and cut off the hand of the second on the same swing. Thrusting to my left, I stabbed a third through the heart. I kicked the fourth on the side of the knee with my left foot, tearing ligaments and breaking bones. I punched the fifth in the throat with the pommel of my sword, held in my right hand, and backhanded a sixth with my left fist. Swinging my sword, I then took his head.

Looking around I saw that the inn was empty of living people, except for my companions and myself. All of the Stark and Martell guards had fallen, and while most of Darkstar's men had fled the inn, about twenty of them were dead. I looked over and saw Oberyn pull his spear out of the corpse of one man, while Jaime cleaned his sword with the shirt of another. They had lived up to their reputations, claiming the lives of around dozen men between them. I looked over, and saw that Stannis was still hacking away at an already dead man with his sword, straddling him on his knees.

"Stan, woah there. Chill buddy, what's wrong?" I asked him, going over and grabbing the wrist of his sword hand before he could continue to make hamburger out of the man.

Stannis pushed me away. Not saying anything, he ran back over to where our table had been, and fell to his knees. He didn't cry, he didn't yell, and his face was carved from pure granite. He grit his teeth, grinding them harshly, and his fists clenched with rage. I went over, and put my hand on his shoulder, looking down grimly myself.

Because lying dead on the ground, having taken four crossbow bolts to the back while shielding Stannis with his own body, was Ser Bennard of Storm's End.

AN: Please don't kill me, but welcome to the first cliffhanger in this story. Bennard is dead, and I am only kind of sorry. Next week we will see the end of this arc, that I have affectionately named the Raiders of the Lost Cradle.

I must admit, that I am disappointed by how many readers didn't catch the Road Runner reference in the last chapter. The sand-chicken wasn't a magical bird, or being controlled by someone, but was in fact the famous Road Runner of Looney Tunes.

I published the first chapter of my new story, go check it out if you're interested. There is a good chance I will end writing my other two ideas, but I will probably wait until I finish this story.