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Oberyn Martell

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1 Oberyn Martell on Sat Jan 31, 2015 10:38 pm



Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken

Oberyn Nymeros Martell

My Sand God (by Ellaria Sand)
The Red Viper (by all Westerosi)



Shape Shifter (Horned Sand Viper)

Allegiance to House:
House Nymeros Martell of Sunspear

Role to House:
Prince of Dorne

Family Members:
Living Family Members
Lady Mellario of Norvos: sister in law (NPC)
Prince Trystane Martell: youngest nephew (NPC)
Princess Arianne Martell: oldest niece (AngelJade)
Prince Quentyn Martell: oldest nephew (Aragneer)
Prince Doran Nymeros Martell: older brother (NPC)

Deceased Family Members
Prince Mors Martell: brother, died as an infant
Prince Olyvar Martell: brother, died as an infant
Princess Elia Martell: beloved sister, murdered by Gregor Clegane
Rhaenys Targaryen: young daughter of Elia, murdered by Amory Lorch
Aegon Targaryen: baby son of Elia, believed to be murdered by Gregor Clegane

Paramour and the Sand Snakes
Lady Ellaria Sand: beloved paramour (NPC)
Tyene Sand: third daughter with a septa.  (NPC)
Dorea Sand: third daughter with Ellaria Sand (NPC)
Loreza Sand: fourth daughter with Ellaria Sand (NPC)
Obella Sand: second daughter with Ellaria Sand (NPC)
Elia Sand: The oldest daughter with Ellaria Sand (NPC)
Obara Sand: oldest daughter with an Oldtown whore (NPC)
Nymeria Sand: second daughter with a noblewoman from Old Volantis (NPC)
Sarella Sand: fourth daughter with a trader from the Summer Isles.  (Lipsofsweetdeceit)

The Red Viper of Dorne is known for many things, being cunning and venomous are but a few of the examples by which they identify to Prince Oberyn Martell. Still it’s not without reasons that he carries that grim reputation with him like a personal banner for Oberyn Martell is truly and willingly the Red Viper of Dorne. Growing up for only a couple of years in his hometown of Sunspear, little of their gallantry and chivalry settled in his person for quickly the young Prince found himself in the custody of House Qorgyle of Sandstone. There his personality began to take shape,  adding that hard and sharp edge to him for which he’s nowadays known. He became forceful, taught early on that all in life needed to be earned through victories, be them physical or psychological victories. He learnt through bitter struggles and harsh fights that nothing tasted sweeter than a victory stole from another. The challenge became an addiction to him, continuously seeking new trials to face and better his skills against foes stronger, faster and more experienced than him. The bigger the opponent, the harder they fall and Prince Oberyn Martell understands this better than anyone. With the curious choice to face his enemies with a spear, he’s been able to take down challengers twice his size and ten times his talent; perhaps not always abiding the rules one would expect of a Prince of Dorne, but Oberyn learnt early on that the end always justifies the means. Victory at all cost, no matter what the price for it may be, that’s what growing up in Sandstone taught him.

With one incident after the next in his path, Oberyn’s journey took a curious detour when his path led him towards the doorstep of the Maester’s Citadel in Oldtown. Here they molded his mind and educated him in the many facets of life. They taught him and he learnt, for Oberyn proved to be a most eager student absorbing vast amounts of information with the greatest ease. His growing understanding of Westeros’ history offered him insight in the affairs of noble Houses, uncovering ancient alliances to exploit and secrets that when revealed could stir up a wasp’s nest of troubles for many nobles in the Seven Kingdoms. He grew hungry for intellect, though not all they offered was taken to heart. They preached about ravenry and he couldn’t care less about those glorified pigeons carrying messages back and forth. They talked about stars and constellations and all Oberyn would find in their light was the opportunity to get between a woman’s warm thighs. They guided him to the forge and the Red Viper only found his hands weren’t intended for the hard labor of a blacksmith. Curiously enough the Prince of Dorne did enjoy the classes regarding medicine and healing yet not in the light as the Maesters had intended. By knowing and understanding the cures, he began to grasp the complexity of the illnesses, especially poisons. A deathly fondness began to develop for those substances that brought illness, madness and suffering to a person while extending the inevitable arrival of death. A fondness that eventually turned him away from the Citadel though most would blame boredom.

Curiosity first led the Red Viper across the Narrow Sea but once in the Free Cities he discovered the importance of the friends a man has and the enemies he makes along his rise to power. Loyalty may have bound any other man to the Targaryen family, that was not the case for Oberyn who only sought out the rightful heirs of the Iron Throne in order to accomplish his own goals: the revenge against the man responsible for the murder and rape of his sister and the butchery of her children. He began to deploy political and diplomatic means to gain allies, making several powerful friends across the Narrow Sea who’d gathered behind his banner in times of need. His talent as a warrior earned him the respect of the Second Sons’ sellsword company who per his request remained in Essos until the right moment would present itself. A sellsword company of his own came back with him to Dorne, making for a significant increase in the numbers of Martell’s bannermen. Then he’d extend a courtesy hand towards the many nobles in Dorne, gaining their trust through the sheer determination of his will. His promise to bring Princess Elia’s murderer to justice made sure that most Houses in south joined his cause, making them more likely to follow his commands rather than his ruling brother Prince Doran Martell. House Uller and Manwoody along with his host from House Qorgyle instantly gathered at his beckon call for each of their lords shared a fondness for the late princess that forged a bond stronger than blood. Gargalen, Dalt, Blackmont, Allyrion all had members high in their court who agreed with the Red Viper’s plans and even the heir of Dorne had shown a greater liking to her uncle than to her own father. The Viper began to understand the way Dorne was suffering, perhaps better than their ruling lord…

Physical Description:
“Oberyn has a lined face with thin eyebrows, black "viper" eyes and a sharp nose. His hair is lustrous and black with only a few silver streaks and recedes from his brow into a widow's peak,” or so they’d say when one asks for the description of the Red Viper beyond the borders of Dorne. That’s what people to this day still remember about the brother of the ruler of Dorne in Sunspear but truth be told such summary doesn’t do the man justice. Oberyn is a salty Dornishman with a deep olive skin complexion and ebony black hair that only features the subtlest hint of gray to betray his true age. Most of the time he’ll present himself in noble circles wearing a three day stubble on his cheek and a heavy brow that adds a permanent severity to his expression. In his neck the reminder of his first trial by combat still draws a thin and narrow line of white across the darkness of his throat, though Oberyn bears the scar with pride. His lips are ever pressed tightly together, a stern grimace that shows the Red Viper means business though behind closed doors and usually reserved to those he has carnal interests in, this Prince can offer a coy smirk that gets their hearts’ to skip a beat.

Body wise Prince Oberyn is a sculpted god like portrait in the temples of the ancient gods; a frame broad and athletic, seemingly carved out of the purest of dark marbles. Arms strong and long bear the evidence of years-worth of intensive training as sinew and tendons stand obviously beneath that olive skin. Legs slender but sturdy give him an unyielding grip in battle along with a deathly reach needed for his phenomenal acrobatics in combat. His entire torso is like one of the old hero statues found in the Tower of the Sun with muscle definitions so recognizable they seem to be cut out of solid rock. Abs pop out like a series of granite blocks embedded in the lower part of his abdomen, proof of what rare strength and endurance resides beneath the sand shaded skin. And along his right flank stands the most prominent of features for upon his flesh stands a lifelike portrait of a Red Viper about to strike. The permanent markings etched in his skin were made by the hand of a warlock from Qarth who said the symbol would keep him from harm and infect any he attacks with a deathly poison that leaves them screaming in agony in the days prior to their certain death.

Fashion wise the Red Viper has taken immense pride in representing the vicious creature he was named after by the common rabble. Lengthy robes out of snake skin leather rest atop his shoulders reaching down to the edge of his knees. His personal signature, the Red Viper amidst the thorns of briar vines is featured  upon each of his formal attires to symbolize his fondness towards his grim reputation. Toxic colored details in venomous greens and crimson reds sit embroidered upon his leathers, while most of his vestments are otherwise kept in neutral shades reminiscent to the Dornish deserts in its various shades of red, tan and browns. It’s true however that he’ll wear the red sun on a field of orange of House Dorne whenever such ceremonial representation is required though never is his heart into it. Prince Oberyn Martell has begun to despise his own House colors for they in his eyes represented the weakness his older brother had shown after the sacking of King’s Landing. For that Oberyn intentionally rejects the wearing of that House sigil upon his person, a statement defying his brother’s rule over Sunspear and all the lands under the Dornish dominion.

For information about his choice of cloths, see the weapons/armor of choice section!

Powers and Abilities:
In Dorne and beyond the talent with sword and spear of the Red Viper are legendary for all have heard of the infamous Dance of Sands. Some say not a man alive in Westeros could match the skill of the Prince of Dorne with a spear but then again all in Seven Kingdoms might just not have found that person able to face Oberyn with a spear and live to tell the tale of that victory. Quick like a serpent slithering through the desert sands, deathly as a viper’s bite and treacherous as a rattlesnake’s warning, Oberyn Martell lives up to his reputation for both spear and sword at his disposal are bathed in a draught of his own making, making all touched by the poison to scream in agony in the days it takes before death finally sets them free. That’s the true fatality of the Red Viper’s martial talent, not just the grim acrobatics but the poisons above all have been known to claim its victims. For more info on the Dance of Sands, see the designated section below.

His skill in battle is well known in the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros but only a scarce few are aware of the trueness to the statement that Prince Oberyn Martell is the Red Viper of Dorne. Having first discovered this talent of his during the trail by combat against Lord Edgar Yronwood. When the anger of his heart grabs hold of him, the poison in his blood grows too strong to resist. It sinks deeply into his being, the world becoming seen through a stranger’s eyes as the man becomes the very creature he was named after: a Red Viper. Significantly larger than your common desert viper, Oberyn’s true form is a deathly horned viper with poisonous fangs the size of your average dagger filled with a venom that seeks only to kill. Scales immune to the scorch of the desert guard his vitals within with the same efficacy as any castle forged steel suit of armor, while the limber body enables him to strike fast and hard, delivering with each bite a toxic load that burns a victim from within. Eyes that can see anything with a heartbeat scan just above the dunes, a tongue that tastes an enemy approaching before they’re even within a ten league range are but a few examples why the Red Viper is such a potential threat.

• Fathering daughters
• Bedding women
• Cavalry fighting
• Sword fighting
• Spear fighting
• Riding horses
• Bedding men

• Remaining monogamous
• Archery fighting
• Fathering sons
• Friendly chats
• Abiding rules
• Playing fair

Weapons of Choice:
Of all the warriors in Westeros, none is as fabled as the Red Viper himself for his skill with the spear is legendary. None however have actually seen him wield his deathly arm in more than fifteen years for Oberyn has not partaking in a tournament since the fall of the Targaryens. Most in the Seven Kingdoms can no longer remember how he fights and those who still do all are loyal to their secret cause. And because of it his legend had grown to legendary proportions while his talent with the spear continued to grow even stronger. Today the Dornish would say the legend would be outshone by the reality for in the years past Prince Oberyn devoted his life to avenging the murder of his beloved sister Princess Elia Martell. Every day he’ll take to the yard of the Tower of the Sun, spear in hand and begin the strenuous Dance of the Sands that transforms spear and sand into a deathly storm from which there is no escape at least not while still breathing…

The tool of his deathly art comes in the extraordinary form of Ellexdrow, better known in the common tongue as the Sun Spear. A gift once from his brother in law prince Rhaegar Targaryen entrusted this rare Valyrian artefact in the hands of Prince Oberyn so that he might never forget about their alliance. The 18 1/2 inch master blade of the spear features the iconic curve that reminds its enemies of a viper fang about to strike while all along its Damascus steel like blade a venomous pattern stands etched in the steel. Beware of these lines for there’s certain death waiting on the edge of his spear as Ellexdrow has claimed countless lives with only minor injuries inflicted. In addition to the main blade there is a slender and smaller blade fixed right beneath the main spear head which gets used for unhorsing his enemies. The blackened steel shaft with leather wrapped grips and finely detailed solid metal fittings reaches nearly six feet tall only to end in a grim spiked pommel at the opposite end. Beware of Ellexdrow though, for not only is this Valyrian steel sharper than any other metal in the Seven Kingdoms, its edges are coated with a venomous formula that will result in certain death to any who find it coursing through their veins.

When the fatality of the spear no longer suffices and victory must truly become an intimate affair, one can rest assured that Oberyn will unleash the fury of Valermos, in the common tongue known as the Viper Fang. Unlike Ellexdrow, Valermos is not such a rare artefact as one would expect from Prince Oberyn Martell. No Valyrian steel this time, but only the finest Damascus steel from Dorne was used to make this sinister weapon, which was an enterprise that took the Sunspear blacksmiths nearly two years to complete to the Red Viper’s liking. Time and time again the sword was dismissed, forcing the masters to withdraw to the drawing table to perfect their prince’s request. First to change was the alloy, from castle forged steel to bronze and then towards Damascus steel which ended up being the most suited for the task. Then came the shape, the way the sword needed to curve in order to cut through armor while remaining light enough for Oberyn’s unique fighting style proved to be a task not so easily completed even by the finest of blacksmiths of Dorne. The grip proved to be the most challenging feature of this sword for it needed to permit the swift change of hands of the Viper.

Curved as is tradition in Dorne the blade was tailored to the precise hand of Oberyn who’d demanded for a rather unorthodox design. Single edged and fitted with a blade guard the sword reaches a total length of 43 3/4 inches with 24 1/2 of those being solid Damascus steel. Runes in the old Valyrian tongue stand etched in the polished blade, the grip tightly embraced with an intricate weave of red velvet so that it offers a comfortable grip for his master. Add to this a hooked pommel that hosts a deathly secret and Valermos is truly a sword of legends suited for the Red Viper. Beware of its sting for this steel can kill in more ways than one would guess on first impressions.  Concealed in the dragon glass hilt one will find the fatal secret to the Red Viper’s reputation as a vial of his own toxic concoction resides in that grip. One twist to the handle and Oberyn Martell can unleash the deathly touch that inspired his legend for its venomous content will slip all along the sword’s edge. Coated with that potent stuff, even a scrape of the sword will have fatal consequences as the poison will set in the body and start to rot a man from within. Flesh will corrupt, blood will burn red hot and fever will roll in waves over its victim until madness shatters their mind. The muscles will cramp and spasm, skin will fester leaving behind the stench of decay that haunts its victims until the salvation of death.

Armor of Choice:
One thing is for certain, the Dornish blacksmiths are masters in a class of their own with the perfect example of their skill coming together in the suit crafted for their prince. Forged with 16 gauge stainless Damascus steel etched patterns of Briar Thorns and Vipers entrusted on the plating, this cuirass features a unique brass trimming with brass and casting clasp, the upper straps decorated and protected with tiny stainless steel plates. Pauldrons from a similar alloy, slightly heavier at 18 gauge rest atop his shoulders with the same iconic etchings on all the brass and solid steel rivets and casting clasps. Due to his personal combat style Oberyn had to opt for 3-pieces greaves to shield his legs. This design is relatively complicated with anatomically dished side plates and long side bone plate. It gives great flexibility of movements while looking both beautiful and aesthetically pleasing. matching cops can be laced to greaves but also have upper holes to lace whole set to the armoring pants which protects them from sliding down. Bazubands are his recognized choice for vambraces as they’re functionally reasonable in weight with a perfect ergonomic anatomical shape that provides great flexibility along with supreme hand protection.

Only in the desert lands of the Dornish princes will one find a piece of armor as exotic looking as the ceremonial turban helmet Prince Oberyn Martell will wear when riding into battle. The weight was reduced compared to the full visor helmets from the Seven Kingdoms by using the lighter 14 gauge mild cold-rolled Damascus steel. Decorated with Oberyn’s personal style etchings and brass accents that feature the Briar Thorns and Vipers, it’s obvious this strange helmet was tailored to a cavalry man who honed his skill beneath the scorching sun above Dorne. The soft padding inside is lighter than useful when absorbing blows to the head but also thinner allowing for sweat and heat to be casually averted from the wearer’s face. From the eyes down a mail of brass and Damascus steel rivets shields his face from the treacherous desert sands though offering only minor defenses against enemy attacks. Arrows might get caught between the chainmail meshwork though a crossbow bolt or well-aimed lance could easily break through the light metal curtain.

The Dance of Sands:

All in Dorne, in Sunspear in particular people are most familiar with the Dance of the Sands that Prince Oberyn Martell performs on a daily basis in the courtyard of the Tower of the Sun against any who deem themselves worthy to face the challenge. It’s a deathly display of absolute skill and unyielding dedication towards the martial arts, performed continuously and repetitively until its true target would be faced: the murderer of his beloved sister Elia and her children. In Westeros there aren’t many who’d stand a chance against this bizarre way of fighting combining the different styles and techniques he picked up during his journeys between the Free Cities of Essos. Acrobatics, agility and dexterity are the key elements of this Dance while the accuracy transforms sword and spear in harrowing shadows amidst the gales of wind and sands swept up in his rhythm. Every day it commences in the same fashion, a solitary performance to warm up the muscles and flex the limbs, each routine carefully choreographed to accelerate at each repetition. Faster and faster the Prince starts to go with the deathly rhythm of that dance, the spear and sword extensions of his own body becoming one with the air and sands around him until only their sinister song remains in the wind. Steel cuts through air, the blades of spear and sword  swift enough to cleave a single grain of sand in half and accurate enough to do this to all intended obstacles coming across his path.

Then after the first hours after dawn invested in the prologue to the Dance of Sands, he summons forth a dozen elites from his brother’s personal guard to join him into the spectacle that defies death, gravity and morality. Even when all twelve of their spears are aimed at him, their swords edging grimly close to ending his ballad, Prince Oberyn seems to be held captive by an all-consuming madness that quickens his step and hones his hand in battle. There’s another reason why he’d earned himself the reputation of Red Viper, a reason that only shows in the midst of the Dance for showered in the blood willingly given by those guards to train their prince, Oberyn moves like a true viper slithering across the sand.  Twisting, turning like the wind itself cannot hold him captive, the Red Viper swirls and slides through the ranks with a series of acrobats he picked up during his years of exile in the Disputed Lands. Leaps, rolls and flips keep him in constant movement, dodging and bending through the attacks of his opponents before delivering those deathly blows with the swiftness of a viper’s bite. Pin point accuracy guides his spear towards the weak spots in an enemy’s defenses, slipping in between the gaps of their armor where they release their deathly gift. Oberyn doesn’t need to watch a man fall to know they will, doesn’t need to see their hearts stop or breath cease to know the sands have claimed their undying spirits for each cut, each breaking of the skin is another insurance of his victory.

His Horses:

To ride a destrier warhorse into battle, flanks covered beneath layers of armor is a terrifying sight to any soldier for in Westeros nothing is more frightening than an outfit of cavalry riding towards you in a full gallop. The panic is what breaks most ranks as the thunder of hooves echoes like mad drummers growing stronger and stronger with each yard they close and then they hit. The impact of those mighty steeds alone enough to throw the vanguard to the ground before swords and lances are even drawn. Ridden knights can drive their steeds ten lines into the enemy ranks before coming to a stop and even then the kicking and staggering of those mighty destriers can wreak havoc on foe’s moral. That’s what ‘s to be expected from the cavalry of the Lannisters, the Tyrells, the Baratheons and all other Houses in Westeros engaged in the everlasting battle for the Iron Throne. Dorne however plays by an entirely different set of rules when it comes to their cavalry for even the landscape of their homes demand for an entirely different approach. In the red hot dunes of Dorne one can’t hope to ride the armor-clad destriers to battle, the heat alone would kill those regal beasts in mere hours and that’s if they don’t encounter one of the dozens of deathly creatures lurking beneath those sands. Vipers, rattlesnakes, scorpions and poisonous lizards make those dunes their home and the thundering approach of cavalry might be like the ringing of the dinner bells for these hungry creatures. The Dornish know about this and have adapted to those circumstances having bred an entirely different race of horses: Sand Steeds.

Prince Oberyn Martell is in the possession of one of the finest Sand Steeds ever to be bred in the Sunspear stables: Hidalgo. Only seldom seen by the world, Oberyn is very protective of his stallion Hidalgo for the grandeur and prestige of this beast is almost divine. Marked by its long neck, narrow yet oh-so beautiful head, its slimness and swiftness are traits of legendary proportions that one could expect of Hidalgo. While it’s smaller and lighter than the average Westeros warhorse and as the result of it unable to bear the weight of armor, the finest of Sand Steeds however can outrun any opponent. The finer selection of this breed is deemed capable of riding for a day, a night and the next-day though Hidalgo’s stamina is truly legendary. For nearly three days it can cross through the scalding desert sands unhindered and unaffected by the Dornish heat. It’s believed never to tire, an exaggeration of course still no warhorse in Westeros could hope to pursue Hidalgo when Prince Oberyn sits comfortably in its saddle. All could tell which horse in the stable belongs to the Red Viper for there’s only one such specimen in the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros and the Free Cities across the Narrow Sea. His stallion black as sin with a mane and tail the color of fire are iconic through it’s the beast’s temper that makes it the Red Viper’s. Each and every day the stable boys of Sunspear have to struggle and fight to contain this furious beast that tramples, staggers and kicks at every given opportunity, only permitting one set of hands to take control of the reins: Oberyn’s.

But Oberyn would not be respected as a Prince of Dorne if he only kept one Dornish Sand Steed at his stables. A second Sand Steed by the name Marengo stands half a foot lower than the mighty stallion Hidalgo in the other stable box. “Mangalarga Marchador” is what the Dornish call a mare of this coloring for its coat isn’t black nor white but a curious blend of grays that comes to be due to the black skin seen underneath a bright silver hair coat. Eyes dark as the night look towards the world with a glint of beauty and intelligence hidden beneath that dubious coloring, Marengo is the counterpart to Hidalgo’s untamable nature.  It’s good disposition would make this mare considerable as easily trained for almost any discipline though Oberyn prefers this mare for its adamant endurance and the easy ride it offers. Marengo has a smooth stable walk, canter and gallop, as well as two natural ambling gaits: the diagonal batida and the lateral picada which makes this mare a surprisingly elegant dressage horse suited for long journeys and formal occasions. The manes and tail don’t feature the same gray shading as her coat for the sands from which it was born have left their iconic tan color to linger in those long curtains of flaxen hair. Marengo however is more docile, more predictable and for that purpose more unsuited to the Red Viper’s battle techniques, making this mare his riding horse in times of peace versus Hidalgo his stallion for war. A female for elegance and prestige, a male for fury and speed.

Background History:
It was a hot day with the sun standing high on the horizon, its light scalding all beneath it. The air seemed to tremble in the distance, the last days of summer have turned even the skies into a furnace that left skin reddened and burnt. The putrid stench of sweat could not be masked, no matter how richly the people in the streets bathed in perfumed waters. Now the bazaars had become a sickening mixture of human sweat and one hundred fragrances all mixed together in a toxic atmosphere so dense it made it hard to breathe. Eyes watered and cloths clung to dampened bodies all continuing along their path, just getting more frustrated as the temperature continued rising. The sands beyond these white marble halls had turned to blistering grounds that burnt through the soles of a man’s boots and leaves a man’s feet raw. Several hooded figures however remained hidden within the heavy of their cloaks, the subtle ringing of chainmail heard underneath those robes. Three of these figures stuck to the shadows, hiding someone standing behind them who seemed hindered as they made haste through the morning crowd of the gathered market. They were practically invisible, well not really though in the chaos of vendors announcing the quality of their wares and peddlers arguing about prices they seemed to disappear rather easily in the chaos of the city. Here it had seemed cooler at first, the sun barely reaching inside the covered markets filled with hundreds of stalls but that sentiment quickly disappeared when the group moved further inward into the heart of the bazaar. The one taking the lead was a slender figure, a waist thin enough even hidden beneath his hooded cloak to be carried off in the wind. The other two were heavier, robust even with a warrior’s march visible in the haste of their steps. The person clinging to the shadows however was a peculiar sight, only half the size of a grown man yet with a body disproportionate to the posture of a child. He walked with a slight unease, short legs trying desperately to keep up with his escort that guided him further and further into the deafening masses of the morning market. Then the sun greeted them again like a displeased woman raining fire upon her husband for having remained from her side for too long. The light was blinding at first but then a coolness set in the open piazza. A fountain stood there, pink marble and polished sand stone carved into a series of brilliantly detailed dancers playing amongst the many water sprouts that rose from the earth. Children were running around it, the occasional traveler pausing to sip its waters but this odd company seemed to only have eye for the other hooded character seated in the shade of a potted olive tree. A heavy individual, though not like the two men escorting the shorter figure, for this one was heavy from fat rather than muscle with flesh unhealthy pale especially with weather such as this. Still the company of the four cloaked figures navigated their way through the crowd and reached the mysterious stranger who offered them a courtesy nod and a vacant seat beneath the olive tree. Curious how one would discuss such subjects beneath the symbol once associated with the signing of peace treaties but then most men cared little for the irony.

“I’ve been expecting you, Lord Tyrion. How fares the journey from our beloved capital to the white city of Sunspear? I do admit it takes time to get used to the Dornish heat.” And the plump stranger pushed back the shadows of his hood only to reveal a familiar face for those known to the members of higher court. Lord Varys sat there on the marble bench beneath the olive tree with that eunuch smile of his plastered on his expression. A cloud of perfume, lavender and jasmine hung around his person and beneath the disguising robes one could find delicate garments of Myrish silk detailed with golden embroidered spiders. The Imp followed the Spider’s example and let his cowl slide down, revealing those two different colored eyes staring at the spider. The slender figure was a man his little birds had sung about, Bronn or something similar. A common sellsword perhaps but deathly and most talented regardless than many knights in the seven kingdoms. The others were Lannister guards, the gold and red of their armor  glimpsed from beneath their cloaks. The Spider however had only eye for the half man who’d traveled far and wide to reach the capital of Dorne. By ship from King’s Landing the Imp had come in disguise for the affairs about to be concluded here were not for the spies of the capital to have knowledge of. His sister alone posed a threat to this enterprise, after all it was her blood he came bargaining with. Dorne was the only House still undecided in the War of Five kings and their alliance would shift the balance in favor of whomever could give the Martell princes redemption and revenge for the events of the past. House Baratheon had sent emissaries to broker alliance but before even entering the gates their heads found a place upon spikes along the ramparts. House Tyrell didn’t bother with their neighbors, the Starks too far north to reach out to this southern corner of the realm. And Lannister, well that name came with a death certificate already for it had been the Lion’s bannermen responsible for the death of the Dornish princess Elia Martell. Today however Tyrion came to do just that, to strike a bond between two sworn enemies but for that he needed a Spider’s help. Lord Varys sat there confident in his finest garments savoring a cup of tea served in lovely delicate porcelain. He’d arranged everything, his little birds as he liked to call them having whispered in the right ears and sung their tale to those within position to do something about it. A deal to be made that would set aside family feuds for a temporary alliance all for the greater good of the realm.

“Let’s walk together, Lord Tyrion. There’s something you first must see before. Leave the guards and your sellsword here by the fountain. They’ll draw unwanted attention.” Varys rose to his feet, remarkably light for a man his build. He strode ahead, shuffling paces one foot before the other only pausing to see if the son of Lord Tywin was still keeping up. The Imp was less gracious in the walk, the crowd like an obstacle hindering his process as the man barely reached at most Dornish’ waist. Folks bumped into him, having failed to notice a fellow standing that close to the ground, other times it were the steps, too high and too many for a man born with legs bowed and stubby but in the end Tyrion caught up with the Spider who stood on a balcony overlooking the courtyard of the Tower of the Sun. Below pearly white sands awaited, several hundred men gathered around to see the spectacle. Hungry cheers and excited howls swept through those marble galleries as within those sands a single individual stood his ground against two dozen guardsmen bearing the Martell sigil. “You’ve made me travel all this way to watch a knight’s practice. Admitted a phenomenal knight but…” The dwarf out of breathe couldn’t hide his displeasure for the Spider’s surprises. The Master of Whisperers however seemed most intrigued by the spectacle below, observing the sun kissed man below performing a most impressive routine, a dance almost for steel and wielder were in perfect synchrony against their opponents. One guard went down, another was flung into a nearby pillar while the fighter in the center of the sands seemed to slither and coil between enemy attacks. “Not a knight, m’lord but a prince. A true Dornish Prince for that m’lord is Prince Oberyn Nymeros Martell better known around these parts as the Red Viper.” His figure signed the man of whom the Spider spoke but trying to keep his aim steady of the prince fighting his own guard proved most difficult. The Imp moved up closer towards the bannister, perched on the tips of his toes to get a better look and then it hit him. This was Prince Oberyn Martell of Sunspear. If the whispers on the streets had been true, this man fighting in the sands was more the active ruler than the older brother seated in the Dornish throne. Every noble House in these desert lands seemed to favor the Red Viper, some even dared say he could dethrone his own brother simply through a majority vote in the council for only House Yronwood failed to set aside their grudge with the younger Martell prince. That wound remained festered…

For quite some time both Spider and Imp remained silent as the battle below continued. Swords were broken, armors pierced but despite the brutality in the Prince’s agile fighting no severe injuries were discovered amongst the retreating guard. Curious though how each man displayed that look of absolute terror when seeing only the faintest of scratches having broken skin. The Imp however grew bored with the display of martial talent, having been the spectator for too long with his own brother practicing his talent with the sword. This time however Tyrion feared his brother might have found his match in this sun kissed prince. That spear in his hand sung with each dangerous stroke and swipe. “How come they call their Prince the Red Viper? Seems to me such a title is beneath the man all around these parts seem to favor.” The Imp questioned and the Spider answered in his own dramatic way. His fingers caressed the marble when he begun the story, all the while keeping his eyes on the price. “Princes and princesses of Dorne at an early age are handed into the care of one of the higher noble families in their lands. A sign of trust, a tradition unbroken and for the young prince Oberyn it meant childhood years being spent in the care of House Qorgyle. Loyal to their liege lords beyond measure they raised the boy as their own and with such came a training most rigorous in the art of warfare and combat. You see, House Qorgyle bred the bravest of warriors in Dorne through gruesome training. Only one out of three boys survives and most that fell had their end determined by the young prince. As Oberyn grew older, he grew more forceful, more lustful and with adolescence around the corner. Women loved him though, be them virgin daughters or married ladies, the latter being the origins of his nickname. You see Prince Oberyn Martell had seduced the paramour of Lord Edgar Yronwood whom discovered the affair in their moment of passion. To redeem his honor, he challenged the sixteen year old prince to a trial by combat to the first blood. A boy versus a man of fabled skill in battle and a heart full of vengeance, his faith seemed almost decided. However the battle took a different turn when it ended in a draw. Oberyn took a cut on his neck, what might have been a killing blow if his spear had not buried five inches deep in Lord Edgar’s flank. But in the end however the Prince proved victor. Edgar’s wound never healed, instead it festered. The flesh corrupted and fever burned until in the end the man died a most agonizing death. The Maester described the wounds as the following. “I’ve seen these injuries before but never from the sting of a spear. The symptoms resemble those of a viper’s bite but how come I cannot say. Poison perhaps?” And so the Dornish Prince became known as the Red Viper, m’lord.” Varys paused with a grin for one of the wounded below was already screaming in torment from the cut received…

Tyrion gave a mocking chuckle at the legend told, a story embellished like the tale of his own brother cutting down the Mad King. Stories like those tend to alter with each telling, facts becoming exaggerated, details added and sometimes even names were mistaken. Dorne most likely had dozens of tales about men blessed with the poisonous talents like those grim creatures hidden in the desert sands; scorpions, serpents, vipers and spiders were vicious foes that inspired many myths in Dorne, the Imp merely considered the Red Viper’s just another such fables. “So tell me how the prince was spared from the wrath of House Yronwood. I take it the fallen Lord’s children of House Yronwood would yearn for vengeance even if it meant defying their liege lord?” The Imp asked and once more the Spider answered. “Surely they thirsted for revenge but none in Dorne would ever raise arms against the Martells, especially not after their beloved daughter was wedded to Prince Rhaegar Targaryen. Who’d brave to strike down the brother of the Queen? No Oberyn’s older brother settled the affair quietly by exiling his own brother and handing his own son as a war to House Yronwood. First the Red Viper traveled to Old Town, the Maester Citadel holding knowledge he sought. Magic was believed to be hidden in their libraries, magic and alchemy having always been subjects that fascinate the Dornish prince. And between his studies, the prince found comfort in the beds of women, some beautiful others powerful and the Viper’s seed was strong. At sixteen and some months Oberyn fathered his first bastard who unlike most to bear the insulting name was recognized by her father. The first Sand Snake was born, not the prettiest of girls but the lack of appeal was replaced with her father’s talent for battle.” Lord Varys smiled when mentioning that as the spectacle below had approached the curtain fall when no more fighters stepped up to Oberyn’s challenge. The Imp however had now been intrigued for looking at the Prince bathed in sweat and sand in search for a Maester’s chain. “How come the path of the Maesters was abandoned by the good prince? Shouldn’t exile have kept him within the confines of Oldtown’s citadel?” Varys nodded his head briefly at that question before finding himself a more fitting seat with view on the courtyard beneath the balcony. “That is an entirely different story I’m afraid. A story no longer taking place within the borders of this realm yet in the lands of magic and mystery that await across the Narrow Sea…” And so the Spider extended an invitation to the dwarf to take a seat and hear parts of the story none in Westeros before had heard; stories his little birds back home however had been most curious for as the Master of Whisperers had his own reasons to look towards the continent to the East…

“The Red Viper remained in Oldtown for several moons but in the end his interests led elsewhere. My birds told me the Prince got into an argument with the Grand Maester on the subject of magic for one sought to explore while the other tried to prevent. So the Maesters and Viper went different ways and the Prince’s story continued in Volantis where the second Sand Snake was born from the womb of a noblewoman. I believe the girl was called Nymeria though I cannot be certain.” That last part however was an obvious life for nothing this world held any true secrets for the Eunuch. “Oberyn started to travel between the Free Cities, bedding women and riding in sellsword companies to hone his two strongest talents: love making and fighting. The prince quickly gained a reputation in the Disputed Lands for all my birds all sing of the Dance of Sand. With spear or sword the Red Viper managed to carve a path through armies and mercenary companies and in the process expand on the legend of the Red Viper. The legend however continued where it first started for Oberyn once more became marked by a series of deaths resulted from only the faintest of injuries. Each cut received seemed to transform into a mortal would, festering and rotting with their owners’ still alive to scream in agony. Poison or Magic is a question I’ve yet to find an answer though as curious as that may sound.” Varys shrugged his shoulders in disbelieve of that one fact still left unconfirmed and not due to lack of trying. He struggled for years trying to uncovered Oberyn’s secret but the Red Viper was most protective of the source of his power. “Years went by and soon the name of Oberyn Martell was forgotten by those in the Seven Kingdoms. And Oberyn had forgotten all about the affairs of Westeros, I dare say.” The Half-Man had been most interested in the story being told but so far he’d been given more questions than answers. Why the Free Cities, why living the bachelor life with eight daughters to show for yet no wife to strengthen his family’s position in Dorne and the Seven Kingdoms? It didn’t make sense how the prince once promised to wed his sister would choose the freerider life in the vast nothing that is Essos. Tyrion had never been included in that arrangement, well not to his knowledge but once House Lannister and House Martell would have been united under a single banner as the Imp’s brother were to wed Princess Elia Martell while his sister ought have been Oberyn’s bride if Tyrion had not claimed the life of their mother when entering this world. And then like magic the Spider had read his thoughts. “Oh yes I forgot all about the promise your father made to the Martell family. I believe you were even to wed the late princess Elia. Oh what a beautiful lady she was, fragile but witty much like yourself m’lord.”

Shock hit Tyrion like a wave crashing into jagged cliffs when the Spider revealed part of his own father’s grand plan for him. Was he once the consolation price offered to the finest maiden in the seven Kingdoms for Tyrion had seen the portraits of Princess Elia Martell. More beautiful than any woman he’d seen before, more beautiful even as his own sister whom by modern standards was described at the fairest of them all. “Do you mean my father denied the Martell my brother and sister and their stead offered me to strengthen old alliances?” This time a bitter note echoed from the Imp’s voice and the Spider had spotted it. Nothing indeed happened in the Seven Kingdoms he had no knowledge off. “Oh yes, Princess Elia was indeed bartered with like a price and your father’s arrogance cost him dearly. You see unbowed, unbent and unbroken are the ancestral words of House Martell and your father’s insult inspired them to act against their better judgment with Oberyn, the black sheep of the family in exile their mother petitioned the Mad King for the hand of Prince Rhaegar Targaryen for Princess Elia Martell. A prince first promised to your sister in exchange for your brother’s sword to be pledged to the Kingsguard if I recall. House Martell however was the closer ally and the Last Dragon from the start seemed to favor a princess for his bride than a lion’s half. Then came Lyanna Stark and the rest is history. Rhaegar was infatuated with Lord Stark’s daughter and abducted her at which began Robert’s Rebellion. Your father saw an opportunity and he took it taking his vengeance against the throne denied to his daughter by having her replacement raped and murdered. An event that may come to cost your family dearly now that it’s a Lannister seated in the Iron Throne. House Martell didn’t forget that heinous act, especially not Prince Oberyn who still seeks for the man responsible for his beloved sister’s death. My little birds told me about the change in Oberyn when the raven arrived bearing the dark tidings of Princess Elia’s demise and that of her children. He grew more ambitious, more determined and with a reputations such as the Red Viper’s that is a dangerous thing to have. Sellswords companies were united beneath his personal banner and soon the Red Viper had an army of his own to command. Do you see those men with the strange serpent marking tattooed on their shoulders. All sellswords, vicious mercenaries in numbers close to ten thousand strong and all of them loyal to Prince Oberyn Martell. Some are Dothraki, other Unsullied but what these men all have in common is an undisputed loyalty for the Red Viper. When Oberyn rides out, those men will follow along with the thousands of soldiers sworn to the different noble families of Dorne. Even Yronwood will ride at his side for the insult of your father has put ancient grievances aside…

The color had left from Tyrion’s face, his expression bleak at best with a slight tremble stirring his dwarfed body like a leaf in the wind. That last fact was something the Imp hadn’t taken in consideration but then again this son of Tywin knew all too well the sting of father’s rejection. “How many swords do House Martell have?” He asked but deep down he didn’t wish to have knowledge of the answer about to be given. Fortunately the Spider did have a reason to keep that truth to himself, a personal interest in not revealing the true strength of Martell’s numbers. “Prince Doran Martell, his older brother commands ten thousand men at arms. Oberyn Martell has nearly three times that number at his disposal. Every noble house of Dorne will join in his quest for revenge for Princess Elia’s death. She was perhaps the most loved princess in history and her untimely end by Lannister hands will not easily be forgotten, lord Tyrion. Only a royal daughter can replace a royal princess I’m afraid.” Again the Spider had twisted his words, bend the truth for his own purposes for his loyalties had always lied in different places than what one were to expect of the King’s Master of Whisperers. Tyrion however remained unaware of that fact and handed the sealed document to the Eunuch’s hand. A treaty penned out without the Queen’s knowledge, without his sister or his father’s knowledge but the sole solution the man had seen for their dire circumstances. Baratheons wanted the Lannisters dead, so did the Arryns, the Starks, the Tyrells and the Tullys for that matter so the only undecided corner to seek salvation remained sheltered in the deserts of Dorne. Varys took the letter, pretending ignorance of its contents though being perfectly aware of each word entrusted to this not allowed Princess Myrcella Baratheon was to become the bride to Prince Doran Martell’s youngest when she came off age and a seat in the Small Council was promised to Prince Oberyn Martel. Also hidden within the lines the Imp had promised to reveal the identity of Princess Elia’s killer and those of her two children. The suggestion however had come subtle instructions by the Spider, subtle hints and suggestions made in between the lines of each conversation had between Imp and Spider. In truth Tyrion would  be handing House Martell a hostage, a royal heir to put on the Iron Throne when Daenarys Targaryen brought her armies across the Narrow Sea. The Martell Army would count not ten thousands but hundreds of thousand swords. Mercenaries sword to Oberyn through his old contacts in the Disputed Lands, Noble Dornish bannermen pledged to House Martell and hordes of savage Dothrakis, Unsullied and Free Cities’ armies would flood the Seven Kingdoms and reestablish the Targaryen reign. That had been Lord Varys’ true intention of bringing the Imp here. Not to broker alliance with House Martell but handing them the winning piece in the Game of Thrones…

The Imp had taken his leave with the sealed document entrusted to Lord Varys’ hand; the deal to be brokered couldn’t be concluded when Lion met Viper in person. Bronn had given him a skeptical look but what more could a lowly cutthroat do in the noble’s endless game. Lord Varys however remained behind still seated on the balcony overlooking the courtyard to the Tower of the Sun. A boy from the crowd had fetched him a fresh porcelain cup of sweet mint tea that the Eunuch so enjoyed to savor on a warm Dornish afternoon. A gentle breeze picked up, not cooling anyone but comfortably enough the plump master of spies enjoyed the delicate touch of air tickling through the fines of his robes. He’d been waiting however for the second meeting arranged for the day and that guest arrived with a strong stride. His chest still gleaming in the sweat from the morning’s practice, Prince Oberyn greeted the Eunuch with strange familiarity. These two obviously had met before, that much was obvious for both seemed to share in a secret smile. The kind of smile a man shows when all went according to plan. “Has the Lion taken the bait, asks the Viper to the Spider? Has our short friend done what was expected of him or should different arrangements be made?” Oberyn spoke with a confident southern voice laced with a foreign accent one could only find in that corner of Dorne where House Qorgyle dwelled. The Eunuch returned the smile and offered the sealed letter to the Prince, who broke the lion’s sigil with immense pleasure. Call it petty but seeing the lion broken so easily did bring some satisfaction to a man dedicated to undoing the injustice made towards his sister. “Our short friend has indeed provided you with a princess but might I ask why we’d need a young girl. It seems to me you have the numbers, the means and the motivation to take the Iron Throne from Lannister control.” Oberyn shook his head and offered his friend a curious grin; odd to be the one with the answers for a change. “Are you not familiar with Dornish law of inheritance, Master of Whisperers? Here the oldest child regardless of their gender has claim to the inheritance of the father. Should Joffrey fall, the rightful heir to the Iron Throne would be Myrcella and not Tommen and a princess could be wedded to Viserys Targaryen to restore the line. And if the dragon does not do, the princess might face a viper in the sands after her coronation placing my brother’s son on the throne. Daerarys will take Myrcella’s place and once more the line shall be restored just as we promised. Should any false king deny our claim, their lands will run red with blood as I lead every sword, spear and bow at my disposal into battle. Our latest numbers exceed one hundred thousand men, not yet including the troops the Mother of Dragons has gathered in Essos. Did you know there are no more sellsword companies in the Disputed Lands that don’t answer to me? I’ve permitted them to keep their banners, their generals but in the shadows all answer to me. An army unlike Westeros has ever seen all to restore the Targaryen line on the throne.” Lord Varys offered a curtsy to Prince Oberyn, something the Eunuch had never done before though he couldn’t help wondering. “Tell me Prince Oberyn, what do you get out of all this?” And this time it was Oberyn doing the laughing. A frightening laugh however for behind the gesture carried a lot of weight. “All I care for is revenge; the blood of my sister’s killer on my spear, the heads of her rapists upon pikes and the skin of every lion to decorate my halls. I loved my sister, loved her children and despite our rivalry I loved Prince Rhaegar like a brother.” With that knowledge the Spider got to his feet, the tea cup emptied and the sealed document in Martell’s care. One last warning was given though, a cautious mention from a cautious man. “Do not put faith in a Lion’s promise but rely on that spear of yours. Even in death can one be victorious…” And so the hood was flipped up again and the Spider disappeared into the crowd with the ease of a phantom fading into shadows…

…And Unforgiving to our Enemies

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