Mountain - Part 10 - Objections

Of all the people she didn't want to see, Ser Arys Dayne topped the list. Tall, handsome, charming, most people would find Lady Melicent's aversion to Ser Arys difficult to understand. The Dornishman had come to Karhold at the age of fourteen as squire to Melly's uncle Ser Robert Karstark. He was a third son to Ser Edric Dayne, and was prone to long speeches about the valor and glory of his uncle, Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning.  He also enjoyed boasting about Dayne's greatsword, Dawn, which was said to be forged from the heart of a falling star. He also told endless tales of Prince Oberyn Martell, the infamous Red Viper of Dorne. With his poisoned blades and bastards scattered all over Dorne, Melicent thought the Red Viper's lascivious exploits to be unimpressive and his questionable tactics made him seem dishounourable. Arys, however, seemed to idolize the Dornish Prince.

Arys was five years older than Melicent, and developed a fascination with her from their first meeting. Melicent had been a pretty child. Her uncle Robert used to call her his little doll, as she was always able to stay neat and keep her hair tidy, unlike her sister Nella, who was always ripping her frocks and losing her ribbons. Even at the age of nine, with her pale skin, big green eyes and chestnut curls, Melicent had a kind of innocent grace that drew the interest of the castle boys. Arys Dayne was no exception. She often caught him looking at her across the hall or watching her as she walked through the yard. He was a handsome boy, dark hair and eyes, olive complected and already tall for his age. He charmed nearly everyone with his quick wit and his mischievous grin.

She could never find herself drawn to him though. She could not quite say why, but he seemed to her to be somehow too charming, too sure of himself. He boasted about the Red Viper and his Uncle and their legendary deeds to the point that he almost led you to believe that he had done these deeds himself. According to Arys, there was no Knight who ever lived who was as clever as the Red Viper, as true as Ser Arthur Dayne, and no place in Westeros that could compare with Dorne. Dornish food was better than anything he could find to eat in the North. The hot weather in Dorne was the ideal climate. The palace of the Prince of Dorne the most beautiful place in the Seven Kingdoms. Sometimes Melicent had a most unladylike thought. She thought that if she heard another word about Dorne, she would be sick all over Arys Dayne's boots. She never said so however, to anyone but Nella, as it would be improper for a Lady to be so rude. Nella understood though. She had no use for Arys and was not too ladylike to tell him so. She found Arys's fondness for her sister greatly amusing and enjoyed it immensely when he would corner Melicent and tell her his tales of Dorne.
A year ago, when Arys turned seventeen, Robert Karstark saw fit to make him a Knight. Melicent found Ser Arys to be even more objectionable that Arys the Squire. He rode well, he fought well, and he was good with a bow and a lance. He had a new swagger in his step and from what she heard, was living up to the reputation that was held of the Dornish as lustful and promiscuous. According to Mynne, her ladies maid, the word amongst the servants was that Arys Dayne often frequented the local brothel and was cutting a swath through the pretty young female servants of Karhold. This didn't stop him from pursuing Melicent though. He seemed to be around every corner with a smile or a flower or one of his tiresome Dornish tales. She didn't know why he persisted, as even if she'd been receptive, he was a third son and she was an eldest daughter of an Old House. She was born to marry a Lord, a third son would be out of the question. Even though he was a Knight, such a match would never be allowed.

Before he could reach her, two soldiers stopped Ser Arys to ask him a question. He stopped to confer with them for a moment. As she stood there waiting, Melicent remembered her last real encounter with Ser Arys Dayne.

A few months before her fourteenth birthday, Melicent had gone out to take the air. It was evening, she was alone and for once there were no dogs around to follow her. She set out into the gardens and was enjoying the cool clear night when she heard a step behind her. She turned to see Arys Dayne coming along the path behind her. She stopped and allowed him to catch up, as it would have been impolite not to. A lady must remember her courtesies. 

"Ser Arys, its a lovely evening, is it not?" she asked politely. Arys smiled as he caught up with her near a stone statue of a woman holding a fawn in her arms. 

"Yes, my Lady. And you... you are too lovely for words." he bowed and took her hand.

Melicent groaned inwardly, but said, "Thank you Ser, you are too kind to me."  

"And you, Lady Melicent, are not at all kind to me. I've told you of my admiration for you, yet you do not give me anything in return. What have I done to deserve your displeasure?" he asked, moving closer to her. "You are so beautiful, and I yearn for you, don't you see?"

"Ser Arys," she took a step back, but the statue was behind her, "You mustn't say such things. Its not right for you to act this way. I'm a Lady and..."

"And I'm not good enough? Is that what it is? Lady Melicent's too good for the likes of me? Don't you want to see what you're missing out on?" he moved in closer, pressing her up against the statue. He grabbed her hand and placed on his crotch. She could feel his manhood, rock hard and ready. She could smell wine on his breath, see anger in his eyes. This was no jest.

"Arys, you've had too much to drink. Let me go and let’s forget about this." she prayed to the Old Gods and the New that he would come to his senses. 

"Forget about this? Is that what you'd like? What about what I'd like?" he said in a low voice and dropped his gaze to her chest. "Would you like to know what I'd like Melicent, you little cock tease? You've been asking me for this since we first met." He ran his finger along her collarbone, trailed it down her cleavage and slipped his hand inside the low neckline of her gown.  He cupped her breast and his hand was cold. She pushed at him with her free hand, but he twisted her arm and pushed back. He was more than 6 feet tall, at least a foot taller than her and much stronger.  "You'll like it my Lady, I promise you that." he said and squeezed her breast, hard. There was no one around. She struggled and he laughed. "You're more feisty than I expected, my little maiden. If you are still a maiden, which I doubt. Who've you let under your skirts, you suck up little bitch? No little Lordlings round here... perhaps you prefer something rougher... is it the stable boys you've been fucking? I see how they look at you..." 

He moved his hand to her thigh and lower, down her leg. He started to push her skirts up. She was screaming at herself to DO SOMETHING, but what? If only Nella were here. But she's not. I'm all alone and there's no one to protect me. But then it dawned on her. As she thought of Nella she thought of her sister playing at fighting with the boys. And she thought of something she'd seen Nella do. She brought her knee up into Ser Arys's groin with all the strength she had. He staggered back and dropped to his knees, his face was a mask of pain and fury. "You little BITCH!" he gasped. 

"You are NO true Knight, Ser!" she said coldly. And Melicent ran.

She'd never told anyone about the incident in the garden. Especially not Nella, as she could imagine her sister stabbing him through the heart with her practice sword in her fury. She was too afraid to speak to her father or her uncle, so she said nothing. She tried to avoid Ser Arys when she could. When she could not she was cool, but polite. He leered at her when no one was looking. He was angry, she could tell, but he kept up appearances when they met in company. She was careful never to meet him alone, however. She did not know for sure what he might do, but she had feeling that he thought they had unfinished business.

She thought of all this as Ser Arys approached her in the Outer Ward at Harrenhal. He did not kiss me, not on the mouth. And I did not kiss him. That was not my first kiss. My first kiss was in the Godswood. They call Lord Gregor Clegane a monster, but that kiss was wonderful, and he was kind to me. I wish he were here now. He makes Arys look small and weak.

He turned back to her and closed the distance between them. To her surprise, the dog stepped forward at her side and growled menacingly. She had almost forgotten he was there. Arys backed up a few steps and froze. Melicent smiled and placed her hand on the dogs back. He quieted, but did not back down. "My Lady, your dog objects to me, it seems." he said, with a wry smile.

"It seems so Ser Arys. Perhaps he is a good judge of character." She replied, knowing she was not being courteous. "Ser, we did not expect you. Is my brother well? And my Uncle?" she asked, concerned. His arrival was most unexpected.

"My Lady, I'm pleased to see you. You are even more beautiful than I remembered." he said, bowing. The dog grumbled beside her. "Hugh is well. Your Uncle Robert was injured in an ambush, but he's recovering, it was not serious. I'm sent to bring a message to Lord Karstark. Hugh ordered ravens sent without messages, or with meaningless messages. Few returned. He feared they were being shot down and he was probably right. He sent me with one hundred men, to make sure his news reached Lord Karstark and did not fall into enemy hands. I must speak with your father at once."

As he spoke, Ser Arys became serious and, for once, did not leer at her or try to intimidate her. "Of course, you must come with me. I'll take you to my Father, he'll be anxious to hear your news." She turned and began to walk quickly toward the castle, the dog beside her and Ser Arys Dayne following at a cautious distance.

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