A Feast for Crows-Chapter 13
|The Soiled Knight
|A Feast for Crows chapter
|185 UK HC (Other versions)
|Chapter chronology (All)
Slipping through the shadow city of Sunspear during the night for a rendezvous with Princess Arianne, Ser Arys Oakheart considers how unlikely it is for an Oakheart to even be in Dorne. Hailing from the Reach, the Oakhearts have long been enemies of the Dornish. The kingsguard knight left Myrcella playing cyvasse with Prince Trystane, and under the protection of the prince's sworn shield Ser Gascoyne. Arys recalls his recent first meeting with Prince Doran, who advised him that Myrcella would be safer at the Water Gardens. All her guards and Ser Arys would accompany them there, but Doran asked him not to write King's Landing about the move. When he arrives at Arianne's secret location, he swears he will do no more than tell her it has to end, but her nakedness overwhelms him.
After their passion is sated, Arys is once again consumed by guilt, but Arianne has a response for every one of his doubts. The knight feels he has dishonored himself enough already, and he doesn't want to dishonor her. But Arianne's seductive words and gestures are difficult for him to disregard. When Arianne reminds him that he told her he loved her, Arys responds that he has sworn a vow. However, Arianne brings up several Kingsguard who broke their vows, most famously Lucamore the Lusty and Terrence Toyne, and even Prince Aemon the Dragonknight (though Ser Arys doesn't believe the latter story). She finishes with, "It is not our love that dishonored you, it is the monsters you have served and the brutes you've called your brothers." When Arys tells her that King Robert was no monster, he can't help but think that she is right about Joffrey. Although he considers Tommen to be Joffrey's opposite, he can't disagree with Arianne's persuasive words that Myrcella would be a better ruler.
Their conversation moves to Criston Cole, Lord Commander of Viserys I's Kingsguard. At the time of Viserys' death, Ser Cole convinced Viserys' son Aegon II to claim the rule of the Seven Kingdoms. This led to the war between Aegon and his elder sister Rhaenyra, whom Viserys had long groomed as his successor.
Arianne reminds Arys that in Dorne, the eldest child rules, and had it not been for Criston the Kingmaker, even the Targaryen inheritance might have been rewritten. She then explains to him the real reason that Myrcella is being moved to the Water Gardens: "To keep her away from those who'd seek to crown her." Arys tells her that the Water Gardens are not a prison, but she warns him that Hotah will see that Myrcella does not leave, claiming he is terrible when aroused.
Still unable to convince Arys that her suggestions are correct, Arianne hugs him and begins to tremble. Once again, she manipulates him by asserting that if the Sand Snakes can be imprisoned by her father for wanting to crown Myrcella, she could too. She mentions that there are no secrets between Tyene and herself, and then tells him her father has never considered her worthy. Prince Doran tried several times to marry her off to old men of high birth, and when she was 14 she discovered a letter her father had written to her brother Quentyn, a ward of Lord Anders Yronwood for years. In the letter, Doran wrote, "one day you will sit where I sit and rule all of Dorne, and a ruler must be strong of mind and body."
Ser Arys argues that this couldn't be true, but when she asks him where Prince Quentyn is now and his response is with Lord Anders Yronwood in the Boneway, Arianne tells him that is what her father wants everyone to believe. She has gotten word from some of her friends that Quentyn is across the Narrow Sea, and she is sure that he is hiring the Golden Company, who recently broke their contract with Myr. The Golden Company has never broken their word since Bittersteel reformed them nearly a hundred years ago, and since most of their members are exiles, the only reason they would change allegiance would be to return home to Westeros. And Anders' ancestors fought in three of the Blackfyre Rebellions, a fact that convinces Arianne that he seeks to crown Quentyn as the next Prince of Dorne.
Arianne's final persuasive words are, "So your two princesses share a common cause, ser... and they share as well a knight who claims to love them both, but will not fight for them." Ser Arys then swears to defend Myrcella's right to rule, and to protect Arianne from anyone seeking to steal her birthright. When he asks her what she would have of him, Arianne purrs, "All. All my love, my sweet love, and forever. But first...Myrcella."