In many ways, Doran ran his household like he ran all of Dorne, like he had run the courts as Master of Laws. Deliberate, slow, infuriatingly slow. He'd learned long before that it was a far more effective tactic to make others wait upon him. To give them time alone with their thoughts, their anxieties, to allow them the berth to conjure scenarios and demons.
He'd found that it led to much more pliable subjects.
But there was an art to it. Too short a wait, and they were simply annoyed at his tardiness, assuming it due to laziness, or, north of the Red Mountains, 'Dornish time'. Too long a wait, and they simply lost interest. No, there was a sweet spot there, a deliberate point at which they were most vulnerable, somewhere between annoyance and disinterest, a point where their anxieties were strongest. When called out regarding this habit of making others wait, Doran had ready excuses; his ill health, his busy schedule. But it was a deliberate thing, like every action Doran took (or failed to take), it was a planned to the minute detail. Beyond softening his subjects, rendering the most stubborn of men pliable, the waiting gave Doran time to gather his own thoughts upon the matter at hand. To organize his thinking into thin rows of spidery handwriting; painstakingly noted down in a graceful hand that, somehow, few others were capable of reading. It wasn't that his handwriting was illegible; it was merely written in such a manner as to render the overall form more pleasing than intelligible.
This too was deliberate.
All of these habits converged to throw a wrench into his way of thinking, way of life, when Mellario of Norvos marched through his doors, silks swishing, her chin held high. Lips a careful line. Had Doran's spies done their jobs, had his children been honest, had he known she was to cross his threshold, she'd have waited for her audience. He would have set her in a suite on the other side of Sunspear, and allowed her time to stew in her thoughts. Stew in all the reasons she deemed it necessary to return, why, now. But Arianne and Quentyn had deliberately kept it from him. More importantly, they had somehow kept it from his many informants scattered across Dorne and across Essos. Doran's knuckles whitened as he considered the words he had carefully constructed for his own Master of Whispers, an unofficial title, here, away from King's Landing. But now was not that time. That man was still waiting, mulling over his own fate. A deep breath. Inhale, exhale. He'd declined to call upon his daughter the evening of Mellario's return; in fact, he had declined to call upon anyone, instead remaining within his chambers, surrounded by his books, hiding his thoughts behind a mountain of accounting. As Prince of Dorne, he was, of course, free to place such responsibilities upon his underlings. However, he had found long before that burying himself in work; dry, dull, tedious work, allowed him to organize his thoughts far more effectively than any meditation exercise.
Another day passed; pale morning light intensifying to a golden haze, burning the tile and gilded roofs of Sunspear, and faded into a copper pool upon the Western dunes. Another day, and still, Doran declined to call upon his children. He'd instructed his personal guard and staff to allow none through; claiming ill health. In truth, he was biding his time. Day two dawned cold and bright; the sky a pale blue rarely seen this far south, and frost rimed the windows as dawn's tendrils brushed the night from the horizon. It was then that Doran sent for Quentyn. The young Martell arrived mid-morning, to find his father picking at a spread of Dornish fruits; blood oranges, pomegranate, figs. It was a long while before he spoke, breaking the silence that stretched between the two quiet Martells. "Why did you lie to me?" Doran asked, voice deceptively calm, demeanor more curious than interrogating. He declined to make eye contact, instead remaining focused upon freeing the pips of the pomegranate from the white pulp. 'Lie, father?' Quentyn hedged, avoiding the question directly. 'You never asked if I was in contact with my mother.' Doran eyed him now, dark eyes unreadable. Doran too avoided the implicit question in Quentyn's words. "You are more than aware that I do not appreciate surprises." It was a statement, the words calm, dropping into the air like stones upon a still pool. "Tell me this; whose idea was it? Yours? Or Arianne's?" Quentyn shifted in his seat; now he was the one failing to make eye contact. "Arianne," he replied at last. Doran nodded. "You are dismissed. We will continue this conversation later." The middle boy nodded, bowed, and turned upon a heel to leave Doran's solar. Day two grew progressively hotter; the frost on the windows long gone before Quentyn had even arrived. With dusk returned the cold; a wind blew from the water just as the sun dipped over the horizon.
Day three brought an unusual mist climbing up from the sea, trying to smother Sunspear and the Shadow City below. By midmorning, the sun burned it away, leaving but a few wisps of clouds in the sky. Midday passed by, the time languid, the air warm and wet, each mote of dust appearing gilded as they floated by. As the sun crawled towards the western dunes, Doran called for Arianne. They would sup together in his private dining room; perhaps among the most lavish rooms in Sunspear, if only for the sheer amount of glass that encased it; allowing views from every direction, collecting what remained of the day's light. The spread was a simple one; spiced fowl, grape leaves stuffed with rice and steamed with lemons and spices, chickpea paste served with soft, warm flatbread, and a bowl of pickled vegetables; olives, carrots, dragon peppers. Sipping delicately at a chalice of sour Dornish red, Doran awaited his daughter's arrival, expression pensive.