Dragonstone is inevitably going to be taken by Stannis’ navy, whatever storms come and go, so I would say that Rhaella should take her kids, those loyal to her, and every valuable on that island, and flee across the Narrow Sea.
The timer pretty much starts there. Robert is at the height of his popularity in the aftermath of the rebellion and with every passing year, the enthusiasm for reestablishing Targaryen rule will dwindle and interest in putting Viserys on the throne will wane. Rhaella needs to immediately get into contact with Doran, and go from there. Possibly set up shop in Norvos, since at that point Doran’s marriage has not totally broken down, and he must have connections there via Mellario.
I’m not sure if Illyrio would be more trouble than he is worth; I can’t see him agreeing to aid the surviving Targs out of the kindness of his rotten heart, and he cannot launch his Aegon plot with Rhaella alive to verify that this kid is definitely not her grandson.
Assuming Rhaella and her kids are in a stable situation at some point, the question remains whether to spend the next decade trying to gather as much strength as possible behind their cause, wait for some crisis to pop up in Robert’s reign, and for Viserys to age more towards adulthood to be seen as a more credible ruler, or to push to return to Westeros with Dornish aid ASAP and launch a counter claim.
Honestly neither choice is great and both have a high risk of failure. Robert is not a buffoon on the throne, he has powerful allies and is no slouch militarily speaking. Aerys left a terrible taste in everyone’s mouth and Viserys is not well known among the people and romanticized the way Rhaegar was.
Greyjoy’s Rebellion in 289 AC is a possible entry point. Viserys would be around 13 or so then, not a little boy anymore, even if he’s not quite old enough to actually go to war himself. Robert and company are going to quickly put down the Ironborn regardless, but it might be an opening that they would not expect, for Dorne to rise up while their backs are turned and they’re dealing with the Iron Isles.
A betrothal between Viserys and Arianne will bind House Martell and House Targaryen’s fortunes together again, and if some of the powerful houses who fought for the royals the first time around can be rallied again 6 years later, there might be a fighting chance.
But to be honest, dragons would help a lot here, and I’d love any AU where Rhaella survives childbirth and wakes some fire breathing babies from stone; one for herself and each of her two surviving kids.
No, I meant that Doran did not have a bastard child that Mellario would or would not have problems with.
I think there is an interesting sort of comparison to be drawn with the marriage of Catelyn and Ned versus the marriage of Doran and Mellario.
While obviously Mellario didn’t have an issue with a bastard child of Doran’s, she was very opposed to how he wanted to raise their children in the Westerosi fashion of fostering, and unlike Ned and Catelyn, they were unable to move past this fundamental problem.
Mellario had no rights to her children; if she wanted to leave the marriage, she would have to accept she would not be able to see her kids again unless Doran approved it, something he was unlikely to do for fear of her hiding them away in Norvos from him.
In general, in Westeros (and this includes Dorne) there are very limited options for women if a marriage becomes unhappy.
I don’t know that there is any easy solution here. Doran’s not in an enviable position and it will be an uphill battle whatever path he chooses and whichever Targ claimant he aligns Dorne with. But if he wants any of these grand schemes to pay off, I would suggest keeping Arianne, who is no dunce, in the loop about all these constantly shifting plans from the beginning, and sending Oberyn to treat with Dany instead of Quentyn.
The issue with that is that Viserys has almost nothing, so anyone that marries into Viserys’s cause is pretty much going to be waging a solo campaign against Westeros, which is incredibly difficult. Essos has a technological edge over Westeros, but foreign invasions are difficult and Westeros can levy a truly impressive amount of manpower to resist a foreign invasion.
Then again, Doran’s plans already suffer from a severe lack of prospects anyway. Dorne can’t wage an aggressive war against the rest of Westeros to install their preferred claimant (we saw that with Arianne’s abortive attempt to crown Myrcella); they simply lack the capacity. In that sense, Doran’s plan is already dead in the water without some more plotting or a few lucky breaks to go his way. So Doran’s plans aren’t really messed up in the sense of changing the chances of success too much because they’re already flights of fancy, although they are impeded since the goal is a marriage of Viserys to Arianne and the installation of Arianne as queen-consort of Westeros which can’t be done if Viserys is already married.
Varys’s entire plan is to distract Robert so that he can build up Aegon VI, and to cause severe damage to Westeros so that Aegon VI can swoop in to save the day like any good storybook hero. In that sense, Varys would improvise, trying to encourage a foreign invasion to produce the same effect as the Dothraki invasion, anything to destabilize the country.
Thanks for the question, Anon.
SomethingLikeALawyer, Hand of the King
GRRM certainly thought people would like him.
I also do not think Doran somehow ordered him to attack Myrcella, that was just Gerold being a dumbass.
Doran said a swear word one time when he was about eleven because he heard some older kids saying those words and thought it would be cool.
Unfortunately, he happened to do it in the hearing of his baby brother.
Guess what Oberyn’s first word was?
As a result, Doran does not swear anymore.
When she was just a little girl, her father had promised her that she would marry Rhaegar. She could not have been more than six or seven. “Never speak of it, child,” he had told her, smiling his secret smile that only Cersei ever saw. “Not until His Grace agrees to the betrothal. It must remain our secret for now.”
-A Feast for Crows, Cersei V
“That last part, about the message. Have you had tidings?”
Prince Doran shared his secret smile with her. “From Lys. A great fleet has put in there to take on water. Volantene ships chiefly, carrying an army. No word as to who they are, or where they might be bound. There was talk of elephants.”
“Elephants. Easy enough to hide a young dragon in a big cog’s hold, though.”
-A Dance with Dragons, The Watcher
Arianne and Cersei have more in common than they think (aside from seducing Kingsguard as part of sexual manipulation). The eldest child with two younger brothers whose fathers’ plans to marry them to Targaryen princes fall through only for them to marry kings that fought House Targaryen to take their crowns, Robert for Cersei and likely Aegon for Arianne. I don’t think Arianne’s marriage to Aegon will end happily anymore than Cersei’s did.
No. We see Doran travel from the Water Gardens to Sunspear in “The Captain of Guards”, AFFC. An afternoon’s easy travel for Areo Hotah is murderously hard on Doran, to the point where he has to take milk of the poppy afterwards. No matter what Doran might like to see, I think his disability is going to prevent him going places physically.
More Sunspear coffeeshop au stuff (this time on relationships!):
Before joining Elia, Oberyn was in medical school. Thanks to a combination of terrible teachers and general disagreement about some stuff, about the only reason he stayed at it as long as he did was because he has four siblings to support and he’s not willing to trust their family fortune will always be there. It was pretty easy for Elia to convince him that working with her would be a good idea.
Oberyn has full custody of Obara, Nym, and Tyene. He has primary custody over Sarella as her mother travels far too much and doesn’t feel like she’d give her a good childhood, but when her mom is in Sunspear she tries to spend as much time with Sarella as she can. The best way to describe Oberyn and Sarella’s mom’s relationship is “friends with occasional benefits.”
Doran works as a judge. There is speculation that he might eventually become the youngest person ever elected to Dorne’s highest court.
Mellario works as a professional musician, but also has a business making veils and headscarves on the side. Arianne tries to help, and has even made a few patterns of her own, all proceeds from which go into an account for her to use when she gets older.
Doran, Elia, and Oberyn’s parents, Loreza and Maron, are still alive and will be staying away because again, nothing bad happens in these aus. However, thanks to a health scare a few years back, they are both pretty much fully retired.
Rhaella, going by her maiden name of Penrose, immediately offers to be a morning baker for Elia’s coffeeshop. She moved to Sunspear on Loreza’s recommendation after getting literally everything from Aerys in the divorce even before he was jailed for attempted murder (unrelated to Rhaella), and now happily lives there with her son Viserys and fiancee Bonifer. (Rhaegar doesn’t like visiting her because he is always reminded that he ruined his relationship with Elia two months in by looking up girls on instagram.)
Elia and Ashara are together in a very serious relationship. They have a daughter, Myriah, and are discussing having another kid. The second person Obara kicked out was an asshole that kept insulting her aunts for their life decisions.
Elia hooks Oberyn and Ellaria up partially because she thinks they’ll do well together, partially because the little snakes already love her, and partially because she’s sick of her brother asking when she and Ashara will get married and now she can turn it back on him.
||A SONG OF SIBLINGS||
For the prompt: Doran Martell & Elia Martell, empathy
Doran did not speak, until Elia had spoken first. His silence was not always bewildering, nor was it always vexing. Not to her, at least. Often she welcomed it, welcomed his comforting silence and valued his restraint and his discretion.
“Oberyn wants to challenge Rhaegar to single combat.”
Doran received the news calmly, more calmly than Elia had expected. “You have dissuaded him, I trust.”
It was a statement, not a question. A testament to his faith in her.
Elia laughed a mirthless laugh. “Oh, yes, I have dissuaded him, to be sure. I was merciless with our brother. Do not make this about you, as you are so often wont to do, I reproached him. My humiliation should not serve the cause of the greater glory of Oberyn Nymeros Martell, I warned him.”
Her brother had looked so wounded, hearing those words from her. For once, he had nothing to say. He made neither sharp nor witty rejoinders. She had not wanted to wound him, but it had to be done, for his own sake, if nothing else. Only with those words could she have dissuaded him, completely and thoroughly.
Doran said, “That must have been hard for you. I know how close you and Oberyn have always been. I know how much you care for one another.”
Elia’s eyes narrowed. “Are you going to tell me that you understand how I feel? That you know what it is like for me?”
Doran had the grace to blush. “I would never presume, sister.” He winced, before adding, “I should not have presumed, Elia.” He hesitated, for a moment, then a fraction of another, before reaching out for her hand. His touch was the lightest of touch. She held on to his hand, when he was about to let go.
No, her older brother could not truly understand what it had been like for Elia, to be publicly humiliated by her husband, in front of so many eyes, in front of the good-father who had insulted her beloved daughter for her Dornish blood. Try as he might, he could never place himself in her position, not even at the most soaring height of his imagination.
And yet, Elia would wager that Doran understood well enough why she had reacted (and acted, in more than one sense of the word) the way she had, in that bitter moment of humiliation. Oberyn did not understand. He did not understand her apparent composure, an act of will that required every ounce of self-control she possessed.
“Where is your wrath, Elia? Rhaegar should be humiliated, as you were humiliated. You are a princess of Dorne. You should be raging!”
“I am raging!” she had raged at her brother, in the privacy of his tent, as she had not publicly and openly raged at her husband. Her rage burned as bright as Nymeria’s star, befitting a descendant of the sun.
And yet, and yet, and yet …
“Words are like arrows, my sweetlings. Once loosed, you cannot call them back,” said their lady mother, who herself had waged a lifelong battle against her more natural disposition, which argued against silence.
Silence was a princess’s friend, especially a Dornish princess waging a battle for survival amongst the dragons. Silence was a princess’s weapon, as sharp as any sword, if honed and polished properly, and wielded judiciously.
Doran just slamming Nell with those questions and Nell like ‘uhhhh sorry wrong number!’.
I have a question: is there any indication of when Doran’s gout started showing up? All I know is that he retired to the Water Gardens in 298, and at that point he could still walk. I don’t think it’s been mentioned otherwise. I’ve been operating under the assumption that he was fine about five years before that. Is that a somewhat realistic timeline?