• Gave more of what Artemis thought throughout the vignette
  • Changed some word choice and clarified some things mentioned in the comments
  • Tried to hint at how important it was to Artemis personally, shows a little more emotional connection
  • Clarified why the shield may be a suitable gift
  • At some points I had something that Artemis might think as plain text (my narration), but found it should be italicized because it fit better coming from the mind of Artemis

The yellow stone buildings of the Sand Borough had whittled round edges defaced by chunks that had crumbled away over the years. Artemis learned from Darius that about half of the inhabitants moved back to Dorne in protest of the Rebellion. The area was quieter and less crowded than the streets they took to get here. Artemis couldn’t help but feel that this area belonged more in Dorne than King’s Landing. Each tan face he passed by looked bitter. Once upon a time war seemed inevitable with the Dornish, yet somehow the crown had smoothed the relationship over. Artemis could remember readying the troops at Tempest Hold in case the Southerners tried to come up through the Dornish Marches into the Stormlands. If they had, then House Rhyferth could have surely made gold in the war, but they didn’t so now alliances were the route being travelled. It was probably smarter to do that anyway.

As a cart began to creak towards them down the narrow dirt walkway Artemis signaled for the three guards to shuffle onto the left of Darius. Darius is too quick to trust people. For all I know, this could be a trap. We need to get this fixed, we absolutely need to more than anything else. Artemis always led from the front, and the trustworthy Tareth Merrick protected the hind. Artemis’s newfound vigor had a cause. Darius carried an artifact of immense importance, a shield once worn by Barristan Selmy and given to House Rhyferth as a gift. Once repaired it would serve as a fine gift to Barristan. Artemis wanted nothing more than to meet the Kingsguard, and hopefully be given the honor to talk to the living legend.

“Why give him an old shield, my lord?” Tareth questioned respectfully.

“He would want this shield because it was his back in the day. He works for the King, opulent gifts mean nothing to him, but a sentimental gift holds all the more value.” Darius responded.

It seemed sound enough to Artemis, but did Darius really know it for a fact? I’m putting my faith in you Darius, show me you have what it takes. Make me proud to be part of House Rhyferth. This is important, don't make me feel disgraced, especially by Barristan Selmy the greatest fighter in all the kingdoms.

When Darius had told Artemis that House Sekhmet offered the assistance of their blacksmith for the task, Artemis was wary. Darius showed faith in the friendship between houses by accepting. He also put himself in the very vulnerable state of being indebted to another House. If there was one thing Artemis knew about Nobles it was that they had the oddest way of interacting with each other. A gift could be a stab in the back, and a stab in the back could lead to marriages. Honor was a virtue of the past.

As they approached The White Dunes the smell of spiced meat, dance, and laughter broke the stern trance of protection that Artemis was in during the short ten minute walk there. It was a collection of splendid two story buildings that showed no sign of decline. Unlike the yellow stone of the other buildings, these were fresh and white with flowers sitting in the windows. Their lodging was much nicer than what House Rhyferth had in King’s Landing. Some of their people had to sleep on the floor. Boy I’d like to live in a place like this. Artemis quickly filtered the awe from his mind, he had a task. It wasn’t only important to the House, it held some personal significance to himself.

Jaxson will be this way.” Darius pointed so that his guard could keep him safely enclosed. He was pointing at the smallest lodging, which still seemed more elegant than Raist’s Respite. Artemis knew that Darius bringing this many guardsmen wasn’t solely for protection, it was to mask the wet stench of House Rhyferth, a show of power. Artemis enjoyed feeling important again.

The porch of the dwelling had a small station for forging and repairing. Artemis recognized many of the battered tools and metals from his father’s forge. He didn’t know details. He never cared much for smithing, but he respected those who did it. Without the blacksmiths the warriors couldn’t fight, and the guards couldn’t protect. In Artemis’s grey eyes blacksmithing was one of the most honorable professions. Sitting on the porch was Jaxson, and the guards parted so that Darius could hand him the Selmy shield.

Kearen offered your assistance in restoring this item.” Darius said while uncovering the rusty and dented shield. “I assume it is no major task.” In one swoop Jaxson caressed his beard then landed his hand onto the shield. His rough paws felt the dent, then he held where the wooden board and metal lining to his face. He was transfixed on the task.Gruff, driven, and straight to the point. Artemis liked the man.

“It can be done, but the board has rotted and some of the nails have fallen out, but that just makes replacing the board easier.” Jaxson huffed. “Ehh, this isn’t going to be usable” he said as his hand felt where the metal and wood connected “unless you’re going to be eating off it.”

“That’s fine, do it still.” Artemis blurted partially due to his nerves. The other guards straightened like planks as soon as Artemis spoke. He quickly glanced at Darius who seemed unoffended by his comment. The guards knew what it was like to be in the service of Lord Channer, and luckily Darius was not Lord Channer.

“Well if my Personal Guard thinks it’s worth it.” Darius replied after thinking over the situation carefully. Artemis straightened his posture in an attempt to be more professional. His dull face blazed red with embarrassment that he made no attempt to hide. He had just set a bad example for all his guards with him. Maybe he would have the freedom from service he had thought about daily, except he hadn’t thought about it today until now.

Thankthe Seven Artemis thought. In all my years I have never been so rude to my lord. But then his mind shifted from fright to questioning. Did Channer beat Darius into being idle and incompetent? Why would he let me say that without reprimand? Could this heir be strong enough to lead, or would he just follow the counsel of buffoons?

Artemis abandoned the disloyal thoughts as sinful. What he should be thinking about was whether the gift would be worthy to Barristan Selmy. Would the greatest warrior in the Seven Kingdoms be insulted by being gifted an unusable shield? More importantly, would Darius blame Artemis if Barristan was insulted?