Chapter 1: CHAPTER I
The morning was crisp and clear and cold, the fresh-tasting wind slightly chilling the Lord of Driftmark. Corlys and his party had sailed from his island due to the call of King Jaehaerys. A bitter taste formed in his mouth, and anger rose in his throat.
Rhaenys rode next to him, her long silver hair hung in a loose braid, her violet eyes dark and low with anger. Laenor and Laena rode on silver palfreys next to his wife, a sweet sense of pride washed over him as he looked at his wife and children.
His wife... his sweet, fiery tempered wife. Rhaenys was the embodiment of Valyrian beauty, and was the only bride worthy of him. Velaryon and Targaryen had wed for centuries, Aegon the Conqueror's own lady mother was a Velaryon.
Laenor was similar to her in disposition, though his temper could put his lady wife to shame sometimes. His anger and rage when he found out that he was the rightful Prince of Dragonstone frightened him, and it took hours to persuade him not to mount Seasmoke and reduce King's Landing to ash.
Laena was sweet and kind, more akin to his own mother than to her immediate family. She did inherit his sense of adventure and wonder and lust for travel, but her Vhagar was fearsome, and his Laena spent far more time on her dragon than on his ships.
Harrenhal soon came into view, the five monstrous towers jutted into the sky. The curtain wall was thick and enormous in size. The melted castle was black as the night, the five towers were twisted and deformed, and looked kin to a melting candle.
His silver slashed plum velvet doublet kept him warm in the chilly Riverland weather. Another chill rushed through him, so he pulled his night-black sable cloak closer to him, holding the silver seahorse brooch of his house. His neatly combed silver-gold hair fell softly past his shoulders.
Another party entered the main gate of Harrenhal bearing the red three headed dragon of House Targaryen. Corlys grimaced. They stole Rhaenys' throne, but they won't steal Laenor's.
His frown was notice by his good brother, Lord Michael Bar Emmon. His sandy brown hair was cut short, falling just above his ears. Michael's eyes were a beautiful deep blue, like the swordfish sewn onto his breast.
He eyed the retinue of knights, squires and men-at-arms his good-brother brought, and scowled. Lord Bar Emmon was one of Corlys greatest supporters, but was not without his own ambitions. He wed his sister Valaena after he brought in immense wealth from his voyages around the world, he allied himself with Corlys who was now the richest man in all the Seven Kingdoms. And if his Rhaenys was crowned Queen, Corlys would become King Consort, and Lord Michael would be married to the King's sister, bringing him power, wealth and status.
Unfortunately his ambitions were stomped on and burned by King Jaehaerys. The name of the Old King brought bitterness into him, the Valyrians of old had gender neutral inheritance, but Jaehaerys decided to bend to the will of the shriveled High Septons and the pinch-faced Andals rather than sticking with his god given traditions and customs.
Rhaenys' crown was stolen, Laenor and Laena's crowns were stolen, his crown was stolen. Corlys wouldn't let that happen again.
His party soon arrived in front of the main gate of Harrenhal. The iron gate was wrapped around itself and welded dozens of times, thick and brittle. A thunderous roar came from the sky, Corlys looked up to see Meleys, Rhaenys' red dragon wrapping itself around the Kingspyre Tower.
A dozen murder holes were driven into the iron gate where his horse stopped. The captain of his guards, his brother Ser Aenys Velaryon announced him from a top his black courser.
''Lord Corlys and his lady wife, Princess Rhaenys!'' His brother boomed, the iron gate slowly opened to them and Corlys and his party soon rode into the monstrous castle of Harrenhal.
Pavilions, tents, and camp sites were strewn about the grounds of Harrenhal, banners of all the lords of Westeros were embroidered and sewn onto tents and caparisoned horses. The golden lion on the crimson field of Lannister, black stag on golden field of Baratheon, golden rose on green field of Tyrell, and finally the grey dire wolf running across a field of white-House Stark.
Lords big and small, knights and free riders practiced in the training yard, others drank wine, diced and lounged around with whores in their laps. Comely camp followers smirked at him when he trotted past, much to Rhaenys' displeasure.
''Filthy wantons...'' His wife grumbled, Laenor eyed the scene with interest, smiling as he watched the swords clang against each other in the yard. Corlys dismounted, handed the reigns of his horse to a stable boy who came rushing up to meet him. Rhaenys also dismounted, and the children after her. A servingman came rushing up to meet him, bowing deeply as he approached.
''Lord Corlys, Princess Rhaenys. Rooms have been opened in the Kingspyre Tower for you and your children.'' He nods, allowing Aenys and ten other guardsmen to lead them to their chambers, while servants take their belongings into their rooms.
''Father, may I practice in the yard?'' Laenor asks eagerly, Corlys hesitates. The realm would be choosing their new King at the council, and other claimants might try to advance themselves by getting rid of others ahead of them in the succession...
''Ser Aenys, take twenty men and escort Laenor to the yard. See that he's brought back to his chambers at a decent hour.'' He commands, his knightly brother bows and walks off, Laenor giddy with joy as he begins talking his uncle's head off.
Laenor was a boy of seven, yet he had longed served as a squire for his lord father. His skill at arms far surpassed any of squires in the yard, be it mace, axe, morningstar or sword, his son was shaping up to be an astute warrior. Aside from riding Seasmoke, his pride and joy, his son enjoyed going for continuous bouts in the training yard.
Rhaenys looked at her son with pride, she was not allowed to put forth her own claim to the throne, instead having to rely on their seven year old son to win the crown for her. I will not fail again.
Laena had walked off with her young ladies in waiting, young daughters of his various siblings. A petty rabble, the Master of Driftmark thought, yet it was the only way to curb his families ambitions.
His brothers coveted Driftmark and all it's incomes, and with his heirs being only seven and eight years old, it would be terribly easy for his brave Laenor or sweet Laena to befall an ''accident'' while visiting her kin.
Thus their sons had been made companions of Laenor, and daughters companions of Laena. He didn't like the arrangement, for they were children and of his own blood, but it sent a message to those who deemed it fit to cut their way to Driftmark.
His wife attended to him in his chambers, which were well furnished. A large teal Myrish carpet laid at the foot of the large canopy bed. Blood red furs sprawled over the bed with pillows of black silk trimmed with white.
Darkwood tables stood next to the door the led to the balcony, silver plates inlaid with golden scrollwork sat on the tables. Jeweled goblets inlaid with jade and pearls glittered and gleamed as he watched them.
He entered the room, Rhaenys right after him. His next eldest brother Daemon stood guard outside the door.
''See that we are not disturbed,'' He commanded, his brother nodded at once. He was the brother he had to keep watch on the hardest, his eldest son Vaemond was notorious in trying to do anything to earn his favor, perhaps thinking he will be named heir should Laenor take the Iron Throne.
He grabbed the flagon of wine and filled to goblets, he handed one to Rhaenys before taking a sip. As he sat down on the goose feather bed, his wife began to speak.
''We need to discover which lords will take up Laenor's claim and which will take up Viserys'.'' She sat at once, he nodded in agreement. His good brother Michael would back him to the very end, Lord Boremund of Storm's End would back his son as well, for his wife's own mother was half Baratheon.
Lord Manderly and his young brother often traded with Volantis, who were good friends of Corlys' and an enemy of the Triarchy. Lord Manderly's trade of exotic and tasty fish only found in the distant and cruel North made them both very rich, as they both used Saltpans as an export for their goods.
The aged Lord Celtigar also would take up their claim, for his sister was the wife of the current Lord Celtigar, and birthed him several sons. But this alliance may be shaky, as those sons grew to be men, and Ser Aerys Celtigar was now married to Princess Gael Targaryen, who would have a claim of her own.
The Princess was a dragon rider as well, hatching a new dragon she named Frostfyre, a play on her name The Winter Child. But Princess Gael was the youngest child of His Grace, and on part of her womanhood and supposed simpleness would see her past over.
The honorable Lord Stark would support them as they did before, for they held the belief that any child of there eldest son is the rightful ruler, woman or not. They had no more love for Jaehaerys as well, for some of their lands were forcibly given to the Night's Watch, if they were promise to return to lands...
The banner men of Stark would follow their liege lords to the end. Manderly, Dustin, Glover, Umber, all would follow the direwolf. Bolton might give some trouble, they had rebelled against the Starks countless times, and had bragged on flaying and hanging their skins in the Dreadfort. A black and cruel family, to be sure.
The river lords were not as loyal as the Northerners however, has there ever been a more quarrelsome lot? Blackwood could be turned against Grover Tully of Riverrun for the right price, Bracken was said to be supporting Viserys... a wide smile broke across his face.
''We can count Storm's End and Sharp Point on our side. Celtigar can be shifty, Alyssa is married to Lord Celtigar but his son is married to Gael Targaryen, he may wish to put forth his wife's own claim.'' Rhaenys let out a bitter laugh at that.
''They would laugh her out the room, as they did me. It does not help that she is simple minded either.''
''Frostfyre could quell those laughters.'' He argued, Rhaenys shook her head.
''Gael is a sweet child, but no warrior. The best Aerys could hope is to support Laenor, perhaps he will take one of his daughters to wife.'' Corlys nodded.
''Stark supported us against Baelon, if we give the Gift back, we will have the Northmen at our back.'' Rhaenys said, he nodded.
''Starks banner men would follow them, the trade deal we have with Manderly which would only benefit us. Bolton could prove a problem if he decided to support Viserys' however.'' Rhaenys rolled her eyes.
''Bolton shan't trouble us, they may have beaten against the Starks but I am a dragon, and I would like to see them try and flay Meleys.'' Corlys let out a bark of laughter, her Red Queen would turn any man to ash.
''Tully is supporting Viserys, rumors say, but not all his banner men will follow. Bracken is following Tully, mayhaps we can flip Blackwood.'' She nodded.
''We shall speak with all these lords, it's time we place a crown on Laenor's head, once and for all.''
The Godswood of the great castle of Harren the Black were as silent as a crypt. The tall trees of pine and old oak stood hard and rigid and proud, deep leaves of green cast great shadows in the in the day, but left a man in total darkness in the night.
In front of him was the weirwood, ancient as the ground he stood on. The tree is an image of hatred, a large, twisted mouth and small flaring eyes that wept blood red sap. Corlys stood there, waiting for them to come.
Rhaenys had decided to wait in their chambers, entertaining Laenor as he told off about his day in the yard. As usual, his valiant son put every boy in the yard on their arse, with sword and axe alike he tells it. Laena talked about her frequent flights on Vhagar, and spoke in hushed tones with her brother about the castle gossip.
Corlys didn't have that pleasure though, he was here, in the Godswood, securing alliances for his son. Waiting...waiting.
Finally, he heard the softy sound of crushed leaves coming from behind him. The Lord of Driftmark turned his body, and smiled. His good brother and his son.
Lord Edwin Celtigar was an aged man, he had been nigh on thirty when he wed his young sister, Alyssa was four and ten when they wed he remembered. He had just come from a voyage from Yi-Ti, his ships filled with gold, gems, elephants and silks from his travels, all were used as a wedding gift for his favorite sister.
Though he was old, Celtigar was not weak. He was still strong and strapping, with broad shoulders and well muscled arms and a beard that was trimmed to the lines of his jaw. Celtigar was not his equal when it came to riches, but they were wealthier than the other lords who vied for his sisters hand. Much wealthier.
His nephew Aerys grew up and married the sweet and simple Gael Targaryen only few years ago. She already bore him two sons, Bartimos and Baelon. The boys were also dragon riders, being the first in Celtigar's history. Redclaw and Scarlet their names were, he knew them by memory, for seeing them take the sky along with Seasmoke and Vhagar was not uncommon.
''Corlys,'' He greeted, ''it has been to long.'' He laughed, and clasped his hand in his. Aerys smiled and gave him a hug.
''Uncle,'' he spoke, his voice cheery and upbeat. After that both Celtigar's looked around, making sure no one was listening.
''I assume you know why I've called you here?'' He questioned, the letter he slipped them did not say why, but Corlys thought it quite obvious. They nodded.
''You wish for us to cast our votes in favor of Laenor.'' Edwin said calmly, he nodded. Aerys however, furrowed his brows.
''And why should we?'' Corlys eyed his nephew with suspicion, while his father huffed.
''Why? What do you mean why? Your mother is Corlys' sister, should Laenor take the throne-'' Aerys cut his father off before he could finish.
''I'll be royal cousins with the king. Why should I settle for that? Why be cousins with the king when I can be the king.'' Corlys frowned, I knew this would happen. Rhaenys had laughed the thought of Aerys putting forth Gael's claim, I'll be damned if I take her advice again.
''You mean to put forth Gael's claim to the council.'' He stated, Edwin looked shocked.
''Surely you cannot hope to-'' Once again, Aerys cut his father off.
''Of course I can. Gael is a daughter of the King's own body, and she is Queen Alysanne's favorite. I mean to be king.'' Corlys had heard enough.
''Gael is a born princess, aye, but she is a woman. Jaehaerys already passed over my wife, so what makes you think he'll pick yours?'' Aerys had snorted.
''Woman or not, Gael is a dragon rider. Her Frostfyre is getting of size with Dreamfyre, and is only getting larger. Scarlet and Redclaw are big enough to get my boys in the sky now. The Old King want a dragon rider to succeed him, Gael is that rider.'' Corlys could not believe the words that came out of his foolish nephews mouth.
''You say Jaehaerys wants a dragon rider to succeed him? Yet Viserys rides Balerion, Daemon with Caraxes and Aemma with Darkfyre. That's at least four, not to mention who will ride Baelon's old Qorax.'' He began.
''Frostfyre will not manage against any dragon. Gael is not a warrior, your boys are only six and five years old, do really want to throw them into battle? Gael is the youngest child of the king, Rhaenys is the only child of his oldest child. Laenor is of the elder branch, Baelon and Bartimos are of the younger. The best you could hope to do is throw your dragons behind ours. Meleys, Vhagar, Frostfyre, Seasmoke, Scarlet and Redclaw, would all make more formidable foes on the same team. Six dragons together rather than three alone, then you have my fleet-'' This time Edwin cut him off.
''All right, all right we get it.'' A wide smile was on Edwin's face, Aerys blushed at his arrogance. Though he couldn't blame him, everyman with a drop of Targaryen blood would put their claims forth, and though he could understand the young lad for wanting to be king, he was ashamed that he didn't support Laenor immediately.
Aerys straightened himself.
''Do I have your support?'' He asked them, Edwin gave a smile and a nod, Aerys gave a nod as well.
''Thank you Edwin. This is much appreciated.'' His good brother smiled once again.
''No need, anything for family.''
One down, four to go.
The hour was growing late when Lord Blackwood came upon him. Clad in a dark blue wool doublet with the white weirwood sigil of his house sewn over his right breast. He smiled as he approached.
''I see you've chosen the Godswood for this meeting, though I must say, I had no idea you had such respect for the Old Gods.'' Corlys frowned, he picked the location the Blackwood in mind, and didn't want to have a different location for a different lord.
''You wound me my lord. I have great admiration not just for the Old Gods but for all the gods of the world.'' His eyebrows raised slightly at that, nonetheless he walked towards the weir wood tree and placed a gentle hand upon it.
''I hear you have a feud with Lord Bracken.'' Instantly the man's eyes turned dark and angry.
''What about it?'' His tone was harsh and clipped, but inside Corlys was beaming, this was exactly what he wanted.
''I hear he's supporting Viserys.'' His eyes shot up and met his, a small frown played at his lips.
''And you wish for me to support your son. Why should I?'' He questioned.
''If Viserys doesn't accept the decision, he'll surely call his banners. Bracken among them.'' This time it was Blackwood who smiled.
''A change to spill Bracken blood,'' He declared, but Corlys had to drive home the point.
''Only if you support Laenor, and if you manage to take Stone Hedge...'' He paused for the affect.
''My son would be glad to give it's lands and titles to any kinsman of your choosing.'' Lord Blackwood eye were mad with lust.
''Kill them and take their castle for my own!'' He said gleefully, suddenly he kissed the top of his fingers and placed them on the white bark of the tree.
''You have a deal, Lord Corlys. I will gladly support King Laenor.'' They both smiled.
Two down, three to go.
Lord Ellard Stark came to him alone as the letter bid. When he noticed the heart tree he wasn't giddy with joy like Blackwood, but he did see a gleam of respect in his eyes when he noticed the white bark.
''My lord of Stark,'' He acknowledged, the man nodded towards him.
''My lord of Velaryon.'' His voice was thick and gruff, though that was not unexpected for a Northman.
''I assume you know why I brought you here.'' He answer, the man nodded.
''You wish for me to support your son Laenor, though I don't understand why we must meet in secret. I have vowed my support for Princess Rhaenys, it is only right that I support her son. Did you think me fickle enough to switch sides?'' The accusation left him stunned, Corlys blinked twice before answering.
''Of course not my lord, many of the men who supported my dear wife are now supporting Viserys. My own nephew thought to but forth their own claims instead of supporting my son, you can see the dilemma I pray?'' Lord Stark regarded him for a moment before giving a curt nod.
''I understand. My lords bannermen will follow my lead in this council. Manderly, Umber,Dustin, Ryswell...'' Corlys spoke.
''Bolton?'' Ellard's steel grey eyes darkened.
''They hardly trouble themselves with anything outside of their useless lands. Even if they do support Prince Viserys, they aren't the type of support you want.'' Corlys nodded at this.
''Very well, I thank you for your support Lord Stark.'' He nodded at the compliment.
Three down, two to go.
Ser Torrhen Manderly came in the place of his elder brother. The knight was handsome, tall, and broad, with chestnut brown hair and sea green eyes, albeit lighter than his own. His brother Medrick was heir to White Harbor, but was not half as clever as his younger brother.
As he walked towards the enormous weirwood he smiled, Corlys greeted the knight with a gracious bow.
''Ser Torrhen, it's a pleasure to meet your acquaintance.'' Manderly and Velaryon had been trading with each other as of recent. The fish that lived aplenty in the Northern rivers were a tasty and rare delicacy, the town of Saltpans had been used secretly under Velaryon control for the better part of two years.
The partnership had started under Lord Manderly and had grown under his son Torrhen. Both houses had grown immensely wealthy, so it was only natural for him to support Laenor in this fight. But men were fickle and greedy and it wouldn't be outrageous for him to switch to Viserys if he offered him more than what he would receive with Corlys.
''Lord Corlys, it is a pleasure as well. Though I am confused on the nature of this meeting?'' He looked at the man, looking for any clues in his face.
''I have called you to discuss the nature of our partnership.'' Torrhen's eyes gleamed, lovely as the sea.
''Well, in that case we can have this discussion inside rather than the Godswood?'' Corlys rolled his eyes.
''Don't play the fool ser, you know good and well that if anyone saw us together it would make our affiliation to the public. You wouldn't want Lord Ellard finding about out relationship would you?'' The knight of Manderly straightened himself up.
''There is nothing to hide about our relationship my lord, we merely trade, isn't that right?'' He laughed.
''Of course Ser Torrhen, but how would Lord Stark react when he finds out White Harbor is paying less in taxes than what they should be? Or when he finds out the amount silver and gold you're hoarding in the Wolf's Den? Or what happens to the poachers and wildings you catch in your lands-''
''Okay, okay! I get it alright?'' Corlys smirked.
''Good. I expect House Manderly's full support in the ballots.'' Torrhen nodded submissively.
''If that is all, I shall take my leave my lord.'' Corlys nodded to give him permission, then the knight walked off, his footsteps angry.
Four down, one to go.
Lord Matthos Tyrell was known for his arrogance and pompous attitude, along with his unwarranted hatred for the westerlands. The Lord of Highgarden outshined the Lord of Casterly Rock by arriving with an enormous amount of five hundred bannermen, knight, men at arms and servants, dwarfing Tymond Lannisters mere three hundred.
The Reach could field around around a hundred thousand soldiers, if it came to war it would help to have the Tyrells on their sides. Would the Hightowers follow them? Ser Otto was the current Hand of the King, and was currently supporting Prince Viserys.
Corlys frowned, he had seen the likes of Otto all throughout his life. Starting with his own uncle, who had poisoned his father in hopes of stealing Driftmark away from his young and adventurous nephew. He paid for his crime with his life, and Corlys never felt happier than when he watched Meleys devour the wretched kinslayer.
From Yi-Ti to Leng, to Braavos to the shores of the Basilik Isles, there are always men who attempt to excel beyond their station, to grasp power they have no right to.
Otto Hightower was one of those men, the man was the brother of one of the most powerful lords of the Reach. Oldtown itself was a rich port with trade, even though Driftmark and Claw Isle dominated trade, the Hightowers were still fairly rich.
He wouldn't trust the man as far as he could throw him, and he definitely wouldn't want him anywhere near his children. But he could not act without proof, he will not taint Laenor's reign by accusing a noble man an Hand of the King of treason and executing him without evidence, it will do nothing but turn the realm against them.
I need the Tyrells, only they can convince the Hightowers to abandon the pretender.
The moon was high in the sky, it's beautiful silver light shining down on the snow white weirwood. He yawned, he had been out for near two hours, waiting for Lord Matthos to arrive, he clenched his fist in anger.
How dare he? Matthos was to damnably arrogant to be such a shameless lickspittle, who sent his brother to kiss Daemon Targaryen's arse just to get ridiculed and humiliated all the way back to Highgarden.
He would be Laenor's regent naturally, and he would take great pleasure in reminding the high lords of their slights against his family. The Targaryens most of all. The Velaryons had always been a faithful friends to the dragon's, his house had long provided brides for the dragonlords when no Targaryen women were to be found.
And yet, in return for all this loyal service, him and his wife were passed over. Rhaenys was the rightful Queen of Westeros, and she wasn't even allowed to present her own claim to the council. Corlys ground his teeth.
It's past time someone taught them humility, they may be dragons, but it is my fleet they depend on. Viserys would be wise not to make me a foe.
Corlys frowned, he did not have time to wait on Lord Tyrell, I was a fool to think they would go against the Hightowers.
When he came upon his chambers he smiled, Laenor was jumping up and down on the bed, while Rhaenys combed through Laena's silky smooth silver-gold ringlets of hair with her fingers.
Rhaenys looked up, her purple eyes twinkling.
''All right, all right, that's enough Laenor.'' His son pouted, but stopped jumping all the same. He moved to sit next to his wife, and planted a soft kiss to her cheeks. She blushed.
''I have met with the lords,'' He began.
''All support our son, Tyrell didn't show up of course but that was expected.'' Rhaenys nodded.
''Is Otto still supporting Viserys?'' She asked him, Corlys nodded. The Hightowers also had a claim to the Iron Throne, as small as it was, so did the Farman's of Faircastle. After Maegor's death Rhaena later remarried to Andros, the second son of Lord Farman. Andros' elder brother died without issue, so he and Rhaena's children inherited Faircastle.
Rhaella Targaryen, one of the twins born to Prince Aegon and Princess Rhaena, grew up and married Lord Velaryon, while Aerea married into House Hightower. These houses claims were very small, and it was unlikely that Otto would press his own claim, still, it would be interesting to watch.
''The vote is tomorrow, are you nervous?'' He asked her, she shook her head.
''Not at all, we have been waiting for this moment forever. Laenor will receive his crown, through diplomacy...'' She then hesitated, then looked him dead in the eye, her purple ones dark and angry.
''Or through fire and blood.''
Chapter 2: CHAPTER II
I decided to age Rhaenyra up for this fic! Instead of being four at the time of the council, she will be seven.
''-And I expect you to conduct yourself with the propriety that befits your station.'' She nodded, trying not to pout at her mother's words. Princess Aemma's eyes grew soft then, as she leaned in and placed a warm kiss on her daughters brow.
''I love you my sweet, but I must attend to your father now.'' Rhaenyra pouted, but nodded all the same. Her mother gave her one last smile before heading out the door, her three guardsmen trailing behind her.
She sat up in her featherbed, the sweet sun was high in the sky, yet there was still a chill about, and it seemed more grey than blue. What to do? The daughter of Prince Viserys didn't even wish to come to the cursed castle of Harrenhal, the stories of snow white ghouls who stalked the battlements and demons that feasted on the flesh of children were enough to deter her, yet her lady mother insisted.
''She is only seven!'' Father had protested on her behalf, ''and besides, I will not be in attendance anyhow. I hear there's to be a tourney at Maidenpool.'' Aemma glared at her cousin-husband.
''She won't be seven forever, and she is your only heir for now. Until I have a son. Nonetheless, Rhaenys is bringing her two children, so Rhaenyra must come as well. And a tourney? No one will be attending that blasted thing in the wake of a Great Council!'' Father's face turned beet red, he feebly protested some more before meekly ordering that she come as well.
Rhaenyra knew what was happening, even though they all danced around the issue when she brought it up. Only her uncle Daemon trusted her with the truth, you are a smart cookie, little princess he had told her one night, you are mature enough to hear the truth, aren't you?
She had squealed in eagerness, being the only child, she was spoiled and doted on by her parents, so much so that anything that was ''mature'' or might help her grow or stop her from being their innocent precious daughter was immediately out of the question.
Her Grandfather was dead. That was the reason they were here, a plague upon your soul, Grandfather she silently prayed. Baelon Targaryen was not a nice or pleasant man. At first, her treated her warmly, called her ''granddaughter'' and took her for rides sometimes on Qorax. But after three of her brothers were born asleep, his once friendly behavior grew cold and distant. He didn't even bother to address her by her name, instead calling her ''girl.''
She remembered having a terrible nightmare one night, so bad that she wouldn't dare sleep by herself. So she gathered her skirts and quietly moved to her father's chambers, hoping that sleeping with her parents might ease her fears.
She heard voices, at first they were whispers, but then grew loud and angry.
''Ten years you have been married,'' Her grandfather's deep and gruff voice said.
''And you've done absolutely nothing with it. Ten years, and all you have to show for it is a girl.'' Baelon spoke ''girl'' as if were the most vile and disgusting thing on the planet.
''Careful my lord, that is my daughter you speak of.'' Her mother had said, with a cold courtesy that cold freeze the seven hells over. She heard someone snort.
''Aye, she is your daughter. Your only daughter. Wait, your only child! You have failed to give me a grandson, to give Viserys an heir, so what use are you!''
''Father! Aemma is my lady wife and I won't have you speak to her in such a way!'' Her grandfather would have paid more heed to a fly buzzing in the corner.
''I shall have a grandson out of you, wench, or I'll have this marriage undone.''
Scared, hurt, and afraid, she had ran back to her chambers, tears running down her cheeks, trying to ignore the shouts that came from the door. Rhaenyra didn't cry at his funeral, to the shock of others. She remembered the day he died, sweat glistening down his face, the smell of corruption as his inside slowly broke through the fortified bandages, the glazed over look in his eyes.
Rhaenyra shed not one tear.
At his burning lords expected her to weep, she knew. To tear out her hair and cry out for her grandsire, to curse the gods for being so damnably cruel. She could laugh at the suggestion, with luck, he's burning in the seven hells for his cruelty! She thought angrily, if she had a gold coin for every time she saw bruises on Alyssa's back and legs, or her mother wept at his constant berating over her failure to produce a son, she'd be richer than the Lannisters.
Her face was stiff as stone, and as cold as ice. Many men gave her queer looks that night, she inwardly frowned at them. But there was no one she was embarrassed of more than her father. Baelon had insulted his wife, and by proxy his daughter, and yet he was weeping at his funeral like some love struck widow. She could see the thinly veiled anger in her mother's eyes.
After the fact, she sought out her uncle Daemon, hoping for clarification on her feelings.
''Am I a bad person for not crying for grandfather?'' She asked her ever galliant uncle. He smiled at her, his pearly whites glistening and gleaming, as bright as the Dornish sun, as beautiful as a singers voice, her uncles smile was. Straight from a song.
''Of course not, little princess.'' He told her.
''Then why did Father cry? Grandfather said bad things about mother, bad things about me too.'' She had said, trying to keep the tears from falling. Her uncle's eyes grew dark and angry, the prince made a fist.
''Your father always liked to see the best in people, Rhae. Even when they do not deserve it.'' Her beloved uncle's words stuck with her till this day, it made her wary and fearful. Mother still hasn't given Father a son, and while the Old King might dote on her, and take her for rides on Vermithor when he feels healthy enough, he still wouldn't find her to be a suitable heir.
Rhaenyra had always imagined what her brother would be like, wild and willful like her uncle Daemon? Kindhearted and wise like Jaehaerys? Sweet and well-intentioned like Father? She would never know, the babes in Mother's belly would almost always be born asleep, or die after taking their first breaths, or not live to be born at all.
It hurt, seeing the pain in Father's eyes, the way Mother would break down, and shut herself away for moons at a time. Baelon's constant nagging didn't make things better, and it made Rhaenyra feel like an intruder in her own home. He would see me burn if it would grant Mother a son, she thought angrily. Why wasn't she enough for them? The pressure she felt made her head like to burst.
She shoved all those thoughts away, you think too much, sweet niece her uncle always told her, but it wasn't like she could help it. Her only companions were her ladies and her uncle Aegon, but he scared her, always ranting about dragons. Jaehaerys had him sent away after he tortured a serving girl to death, why no one would tell her, except her uncle.
''My mad fool of a brother thought himself a dragon, and told his cronies such after a night of revelry in on the Street of Silk. When the dumb little wench laughed at him, he burned her eyes out with hot pincers. Her tongue and womanly parts as well.'' Some nights when she went to sleep she could hear him, feel him, as he taunted her, no one loves you, he would say, everyone wishes you were dead! She would dream of him watching, grabbing, and pulling her down into a pit of gargoyles snarks and monsters. Scratching, biting, hurting her. I am the dragon! He would roar, and the dragon is not mocked!
Aegon is gone, to Lys or Tyrosh I hope.
''My lady?'' The sudden voice of concern made her jolt upright. She turned to see Alicent Hightower, the daughter of the Hand of the King and the eldest of her ladies. Rhaenyra smiled.
''Lady Alicent, forgive me, I must not have heard you.'' Lady Alicent wore a gown of silvery satin, with the Hightower of Oldtown embroidered in gold silk. She gave her a knowing smile, causing her to turn pink in the face. Rhaenyra turned and looked outside the window, the sun was high and shining, mayhaps uncle Daemon is practicing in the yard?
''We should go to the training yard.'' She said suddenly, Alicent's smile vanished.
''Why would you want to go there?''
''To see my uncle train of course.'' Before she could mouth a word of protest, Rhaenyra hiked up her skirt and made a dash for the door. Flinging it open, she raced the monstrous halls of Harren the Black, giggling at Alicent's cries of despair.
''My lady, my lady! Not so fast!'' She qualied.
''Keep up Ally!'' She called back, her footsteps echoing down the stairs leading to the Great Hall. Two guards stood at the foot of the stairs, she accidently barrel into them, causing one to curse.
''Seven Hells-'' He stopped when he realized who she was.
''Apologies my lady,'' Rhaenyra stopped him by raising her hand.
''My apologies my lord-'' She stopped when she heard Alicent's pounding footsteps, she let out another giggle before throwing herself at the oaken door and spilling out into the courtyard, laughing as the sun soaked into her skin.
''You gave me a fright, Princess. You could've slipped and broken your neck.'' Rhaenyra chuckled at this, Alicent was the oldest and therefore most responsible of her ladies. She acted as a big sister to her when Mother wasn't around. Daemon didn't like her though.
The Hightowers are too ambitious, their vanity is the only thing that matches their pride, she didn't understand what he meant, but she knew it wasn't nice. Why couldn't her friends just get along?
''Seven blessings on you, your grace!'' A man called, juggling three different types of oranges in his hands. She reached in her purse and pulled out a few coppers.
''Two blood oranges for me and my lady.'' She said sweetly, the man stopped juggling before gracefully handing over the oranges. She placed the coppers in her hand before going on her way. When she looked up, she noticed Alicent was frowning.
''What is it?'' She asked as she peeled the skin off the orange.
''We shouldn't be out here, Prince Viserys will have my head for letting you out of the castle without guards.''
''Don't be ridiculous, my father couldn't kill anybody, even if he wanted to. And I hate my guards, they never let me near the training yard, and they are mean to Uncle Daemon!'' Alicent's frown grew at the mention of her uncle, she's just jealous because he won't wear her favor! Angry, she huffed and stormed off, ignoring Alicent calls.
The warm, sweet juices of the orange stuck to the roof of her mouth and coated her tongue. Savoring the sweetness, she walked quickly the yard where the knights would be training at arms. The voting would be taking place today, so the high lords were supping with each other but the knights had nothing else better to do.
The sounds of blunted swords, maces, axes and hammers banging against oak-and-iron shields were ringing in her ears. Men were hunched over, slick wetness covering their broad shoulder and chests. None of them are as good as my uncle, she told herself. Daemon Targaryen is the most experienced warrior of his time, everyone says, he wouldn't have been given Dark Sister if he wasn't.
''Make way for his lordship!'' A herald called, and soon after a tall lean youth about her age came striding through, his walk full of confidence. A head full of silver-white hair slicked back shined like molten silver in the sunlight. He was shirtless, but wore brown leather breeches and weared boots fit for sparring. A wooden longsword was held tightly in his right hand, an oak-and-iron shield strapped to the left.
Two handsome young squires trailed behind him, clad in crimson silk with beads of sweat trickling down their stomachs. Both were fair and silver-haired, but looked shallow in comparison to their counterpart.
The shirtless boy pointed his wooden sword at a cupbearer serving some knight. A blue swordfish etched in thread was on his doublet, Rhaenyra noticed.
''Cousin, share a bout with me.'' The smile he flashed him cut like a knife, his purple eyes dancing around, fierce and beautiful at the same time. It reminded her of her uncle.
''As you command my lord.'' The boy answered thickly, the knight he was serving scowled, but nonetheless allowed him to go. Rhaenyra watched wide-eyed as the two took up their stances and begun their dance. The silver-haired boy was quick and graceful and moved like a panther, his wooden blade seeming a part of his arm compared the hulky hacking and slashing of his opponent.
The brown haired squire was stocky and clumsy, blow after blow missing or meeting his opponents shield. Finally, he aimed to make a blow to his head, but the other boy effortlessly put his shield up while giving a blow of his own. The sheer strength and weight behind the slash was shocking for a boy his age, the sword cracked across his head with a blood curdling thwack! To drive home the point, he put his entire weight behind his shield and thrusted himself towards his opponent, sending the boy sprawling over the ground, blood trickling out of his mouth, nose, and ears.
The boy gave a curt jerk of his head, sending his pale hair that dangled in his eyes back behind his head. She found herself blushing at how handsome he was. His jaw was sharp and trim, his nose smooth and aquiline, she could see muscle lines along his flat stomach. He looked like a hero out of the songs she loved so much. Father always sang songs, the one about Florian and his lady Jonquil was her favorite, Serwyn of the Mirror Shield was a close second, she remembered forcing her uncle to be Serwyn while she played Daeryssa as he saved her from giants...
A smile broke across her face, where is my knight? She wondered, she always watched her uncle everytime he was in the yard, sometime he even wore her favor! It was strange for him not to be here, there was scarce a time Daemon Targaryen neglected showing off his expert swordsmanship. A small flair of disappointment swam in her heart.
Her eyes snapped up, and low and behold there he was, tall and splendid, a small wineskin in his hand as another raked through his hair.
''My lord?'' She asked, confused. Oh gods, who know how long he was calling me? The boy didn't seem to be angry at her however.
''I was merely asking for the honor to wear your favor, my lady. When I saw you in the stands I knew there was no way I could defeat the rest of my foes without it.'' Her head swam, it was just like the stories she heard at her mother's knee. Daemon is your knight, a voice echoed in her head. This new boy was handsome yes, chivalrous yes, but he was not her uncle, she only gave her favors to him, it would be unseemly to change for someone she didn't even know.
And yet... she felt this pull towards him, this need to want to watch him defeat the other challengers, with her favor on his sword arm. Oh how fantastic it will be! Just like the songs... Rhaenyra slowly removed the pale blue silk that ordained her wrist... Then she stopped, what am I doing? Uncle Daemon will be upset if I-
''Rhaenyra.'' A sharp voice called out to her, she whirled around, skirts fluttering and silk clutched tightly in her hand. Her uncle stood before her, tall and broad and handsome, his collar-length silver hair hanging over his eyes as he looked down on her.
''Uncle,'' She said, a flush covering her face, fear and uncertainty bred in her heart, stupid,stupid,stupid! She thought angrily, a tightness formed around her mouth as she tried not to cry. Her uncle was always there for her, when Father feasted away their problems and Mother shut herself inside her chambers, leaving her to be raised by servants. When Baelon said cruel words and Aegon tormented her or courtiers frowned upon Mother everytime she birthed a stillborn boy, her uncle was there.
Being kind to her, reading to her, telling her stories of brave knights and honorable lords,fair maidens and sweet singers...
Yet there was no anger is in his eyes when he spoke to her, in fact, there was a ghost of a smirk on his lips. His eyes left hers for a moment and drifted behind her, then went back to her.
''Will you honor me with your favor, sweet niece?'' He said, flashing one of his sweet smiles he had. His night black armor was chased with gold, it gleamed as he bowed toward her, large calloused hands outstretched. Rhaenyra smiled.
''Of course, nuncle.'' She said merely, and placed the silk in his hand before closing it. Her uncle held her small soft hands in his for a moment before moving it and tying the silk around his wrist.
''May the Warrior grant strength to your sword arm,'' She said politely, it was pointless she knew, her uncle would beat the lot of the knight into the dirt with no effort. The only one who seemed half as useful was the silver haired boy, and he was much too young to be an actual challenge to her uncle. Speaking of him...
''I thank you, sweet niece. I may have need of my sword arm yet.'' He said, his voice turning hard and determined. Rhaenyra frowned, confused as to what he was talking about, the Great Council was voting, yet the king still chose his successor, if the opponents weren't chosen they'd just have to accept that. No one would dare break the king's peace... would they?
Her uncle sauntered past her into the ring, his walk full of confidence. With a single movement he unsheathed Dark Sister from its leather holding, steel whispering against it captor. The dark rivers of the molded steel stood out against the black blade, the sword of Visenya the Conqueror and the dragonlords before her, she thought as her uncle took up her stance against Ser Morrigen Cargyll, one of her father's many companions and ironically, his friend. There was scarce a man who could claim to be of friendship with both sons of Baelon Targaryen.
The ripples were the product of the blade being folded amongst itself thousands of times as it was being forged in the fires of Old Valyria. Blood-magic and fiery spells were said to be used in the making of the steel, but all knowledge of making it was lost in the Doom. Dark as smoke, the blade looked a shadow in her uncle hand, she could see the edge even from here. Valyrian always kept it edge. Like no other steel could.
Out of the corner of her eye she saw the silver-haired boy standing next to a knight in a black silk tunic with a sigil she couldn't see sewn onto his breast in teal thread. He was scowling at her uncle.
Her uncle began his dance with Ser Cargyll, hacking, slashing and dodging various blows from his opponent. Her uncle scarce fought with his Valyrian blade, for it was dishonorable to have such an advantage when not in battle, but Ser Cargyll always had more boldness than sense (according to Mother anyway). So he took Daemon head on, plate and Valyrian steel alike. It wasn't even close to being fair.
Within minutes he was on the on the ground, blood leaking from a dozen different wounds. A deep gash cut a hollow hole in his cheek, and she felt her blood orange rising from her stomach. She wanted to look away, but she found her eyes glued to the blood that soaked the tan dirt below him, drinking up the red liquid.
She could hold it no more, sudden as a summer storm, her body jerked as she hunched over, vomiting on the ground. She heard the loud clamor of armor and curses and shouts of a Maester. She spat. Standing upright, she searched for her uncle, only to find him standing over Cargyll, a sinister smile on his face. It wasn't until the Maester shoved him out of the way did he notice her.
Her face must have shown her shock, as her uncles smile vanished. Why was he smiling? She thought, confused and strangely afraid at the same time. She saw hurts before, it was not uncommon for knights to leave melees with broken bones and deep scars. But this was something different, the knight still thrashed about, weeping as the Maester attended to the gashes that lined his stomach, thighs and face. Why was he smiling?
''Princess,'' A breathless voice called out to her, she turned her head to only see Lady Alicent Hightower, her face full of concern. Why was he smiling? She remembered her uncle Aegon, the way he smiled at her before he was sent off... true knights don't take pleasure in hurting others, why did he look happy? She thought, don't be stupid! Uncle Daemon is a true knight, he would never take pleasure in something as foul as that.
Then why was he smiling?
''Ally.'' said Rhaenyra, her voice squeaky and afraid, Alicent gave a look of reproach to her uncle before extending a hand towards her. She looked at her uncle, searching, begging for any reason to stay with him. He just hurt his friend, she thought hopefully, he could have killed him, it will be hard on him, she told herself. Yet when she searched his face, there was no remorse.
She took Alicent's hand and made her way to the castle.
Chapter 3: CHAPTER III
''Did you hear? The council chose Viserys as the Princo o' Dragonstone instead of Laenor. Baelon's boy, that is. Nice lad, powerfully built and likes a mace more than sword I'm told, so that makes him alright in my book. Corlys is furious though, and I'm told that the young Velaryon lad already put Harrentown to the torch in his rage.''
Criston said nothing as the old innkeep babbled on and on about the latest gossip of the realm. He was up to date as anyone could be. Ser Criston Cole, third born son of Ser Jason Cole and Mynerva Ball was one of the thousands of swords that came to the call of Prince Daemon Targaryen, the younger brother of the current Prince of Dragonstone.
The Old King was dying rumors said, Queen Alysanne barely hanging on after her dance with a harsh coughing sickness some five years ago. Princess Viserra's death and Princess Gael's near drowning crippled the power couple of westeros, sending their once strong and resolved minds to bits. Criston found that somewhat amusing, the greatest monarchs to ever grace the seven kingdoms, brought down by a singer and a horse.
Princess Viserra cracked her neck after being thrown from one, and Gael attempted to kill herself after being deflowered by a comely Lyseni singer known as Symon Silver Hair. His silver hair is now black as pitch, after Alysanne fed the man to her dragon in a bold attempt at vengeance for her daughters broken heart (and more importantly, her lost maidenhood).
The young Laenor Velaryon had taken his loss worse than anyone could have expected it, Criston was born in Blackhaven, right on the border of Dorne so he wasn't exactly close to the happenings at court, but this innkeep was telling him all about how the lad was fearsome and arrogant and better with a sword than he had any right to be. So was I and Cristopher, at that age.
The sudden violence from the young Velaryon had woke up the sleeping Corlys, who immediately sailed for his island fortress and was gathering sword and sail alike on Driftmark. Likewise, Viserys commanded Otto to rouse the Shield Islands and Lord Redwyne, and Ser Jason Lannister, heir to Casterly Rock to bring forth Lord Farman and the sails of Lannisport. This act was futile, as Driftmark dominated the seagame and could crush them no matter what. Manderly could put up defiance but he was in bed with Driftmark.
Jaehaerys was too weak and feeble to do anything from what he saw at Harrenhal, he served as one of the many knights that were set to train the peasant levies, but once in a while the king would leave his chambers and wander aimlessly about the castle until someone escorted him back.
Once he came out armored in boiled leather and mail, shouting commands as if he were in the battle field. When Daemon came to aid him, he unsheathed his sword, cursed him for a kinslayer and a usurper and to top it off called him Maegor, then proceeded to challenge him to single combat for the throne. Criston would have laughed at the absurdity if he wouldn't lose his head for it.
Fifty other men were in the inn, eating, drinking and betting on games and duels and other such things. Some gossiped about the recent happenings, of the realm, and what would happen once the king recovered. Criston had his own theory. The old king will be most wroth, but he is too old to make any change, the'll apologize and swear oaths of love and loyalty, but as soon as he's dead it will be hell on earth. Many men thought to receive grand rewards for their service to Prince Viserys, once such man, Ser Bryndon of House Hightower, boasted of how he would slay Corlys in single combat, marry his daughter, and take Driftmark for himself.
''And in that order?'' He had asked, only half joking. The whole inn laughed. Except his kinsman, a strappling youth of thirteen years who was curt and blunt in his opposition.
''And why should our good king let the likes of you have such a fair and noble seat? You're what, my fifth cousin? How many times removed? The only reason you aren't cleaning out chamber pots with the rest of the maids is because of your last name, Gods know you don't deserve it. The only choice is grant to it to my lord father, he has served these dragons too long to not get a suitable reward.''
The knight, red faced from the embarrassment, had unsheathed his sword after that, ''defend your slander with steel pup, or shove them back in the pox-riddled hole your mother whelped you out of,'' Bryndon said, the lad drew his sword, and they would have came to blows of Viserys Targaryen himself hadn't come between them, a frown on his face. ''Save it for the battlefield.'' His Grace said. Criston was somewhat grateful for the intervention, he had grown somewhat fond of the knight with his japes, and wasn't half bad with a sword, and made a decent drinking companion.
''Everyone up, we march today!'' Said a man who bursted into the inn, Criston frowned. It was chilly outside and he was enjoying a horn of hot spiced wine, and didn't want to leave it.
''By whose authority?'' He asked, the Hightower lad spoke up then.
''And where to?'' The man bristled.
''His Grace didn't deem it fit to tell me, and he isn't in the habit of being questioned, now will you sorry sots come, or shall I fetch Daemon?'' Criston inwardly growled, the Prince was not a kind and generous as his brother, who even when mad always tried to keep a smile on his face. The only time Daemon smiled was while sparring or in battle from what he saw. He used ''battle'' loosely, mostly foraging or raiding on Velaryon's knights and men-at-arms, but the slaughter was no less cleaner.
Criston swallowed the last of the wine, feeling the fiery alcohol burn in his throat. Hand on the hilt of his sword, he gathered his iron half helm under his right arm. Bryndon grumbled, while the young squire, who identified himself as Gwayne Hightower openly objected until the Prince made himself visible.
''Hold your tongue, Hightower. We march on Spiderwood and Blackbuckle today. Laenor's gathered about twenty knights and have been putting castles to the sword.'' Daemon said, a grizzled old greybeard chortled.
''The lad was wearing his swaddling clothes five years past! What does he know of taking castles?'' Other men around spoke their approval. I was half a boy myself when I killed my first man, he thought sadly. Wonder what mother would think of me, her elder twin son, murdering at twelve.
''His uncle Ser Aenys has been raiding in his name,'' Bryndon added. The progeny of Driftmark was vast, and each brother of the Sea Snake and all their sons were scrambling to prove themselves useful, or find themselves homeless. Ser Daemon was said to be leading raiding sorties, with Laenor at his side. The boy has no lack of bravery, Criston thought, bravery does not equal sense. The scar on his chest burned, and wave of grief crashed over him. No, not here, not in public. For a second he saw him, his hair black as coal with pale green eyes, so much like his own...
''I hear his wife has taken Meleys to Lord Harroway's town and burn it to ash and traveled with her good cousin Vaemond to Seagard.'' He said, eager to remove those thoughts from his mind.
''Laena has taken to burning with her brother on Vhagar, the little wretched slut,'' Prince Daemon said sourly.
''Pinkmaiden's village, Acorn Hall, and the Stoney Sept are all gone! Set aflame by Corlys daughter! '' Someone in the crowd shouted, that was news to Criston, the young daughter of Corlys seemed shy when he spoke to her, but maybe she was just wary of strangers.
''The Celtigar brats are with him as well, with their dragons. Redclaw and Scarlet I think are their names,'' Gwayne Hightower reported. Daemon laughed bitterly.
''They are naught but children, Laena may have Vhagar, but she doesn't know how to use him. Caraxes shall make quick work of them, it's Rhaenys that concerns me. Only she has a chance against me on dragon-back.'' Criston could only agree, he's good and he knows it, no wonder he's such an ass.
Daemon’s mouth twisted into a scowl as he pondered their next course of events.
”We shall delay the marches on the villages, we need to intercept them directly, and cannot hope for that raiding backwater villages.” That much he didn't agree with, Spiderwood and Blackbuckle were near the Blue Fork and were fertile with crops aplenty.
Laenor could scarely feed his men if they set the land to to torch first. If Laenor and company were burning and raiding east of the God's Eye, and their mother was off at Seagard, the could swing around the Red Fork and trap them on the Goldroad. Or closer,the straits of the Blackwater Rush.
''Your Grace,'' Criston said suddenly, causing everyone to turn their heads towards him.
''The lands of Blackbuckle and Spiderwood lie close by... just off the Blue Fork. If we call upon Riverrun, we can down the the Red and trap the Velaryons on the Goldroad, Princess Rhaenys will be to far away to assist her son-'' His objection was cut off by the Prince's curt voice.
''Who are you?'' He asked, his face screaming, who are you to question the decisions of the dragon?
''Ser Criston Cole, Your Grace.'' He acknowledged, Bryndon Hightower came to his defense.
''He's a good man Your Grace, knows his stuff. Got a bit of a stick up his ass but-'' Daemon cut him off.
''Hold your tongue before I remove it, Hightower. As to you, Cole, the day I need war counsel from a steward's whelp is the day I set aside my crimson and take the black.'' Criston felt face flush, and anger bubbling up in his throat, hot and violent. His fist clenched. Criston was no mere steward's whelp, he was a knight, anointed by the Seven. He'd survived odds tat would have made this perfumed ponce wet himself! The tongs, the racks, so bright, the pain white hot...
Forgive me Cristopher,
He'd rode a Sand Steed into Dorne a thousand times with his brother, until the final time... while Daemon's ancestors were afraid of the Martells shadow. He defeated a champion of Dorne,tearing out his throat before twisting his neck until it snapped... while Daemon delighted in beating men senseless, knowing they couldn't damage him to badly because he was a Prince.
Ser Criston Cole knew war, he'd fought with sellswords in Essos, seen the savage horde of the Dothraki, the famed archers of the Summer Isles their skin black as soot, stood guard with the baby faced eunuch Unsullied. What has this spoiled, indulgent, crass cunt ever done that warranted him to dismiss his council?!
Someone needs to teach him a lesson.
His knuckles turned white, he took a step forward.
''Ser Criston!'' A voice called out to him, he turned around to see a man striding towards him. Clad in boiled leather in mail, with a sword and dagger sheathed in a jeweled leather scabbard hung around his waist, a small pin of Hightower on his breast. Gwayne immediately smiled. Daemon however scowled immediately and stormed off.
''Father,'' He said, the man gave a smile and clasped the lad on the shoulder.
''I shall speak to you in a moment, son. Give me a moments with our good knight of Cole.'' Criston's eyes narrowed, is he mocking me?
''What can I do for you my lord?'' asked Criston, the man chuckled, his mail slightly clinking.
''I'm no lord, just a knight. Though my days of sword, mace and lance are long gone. I command from the rear now, the lust of battle left me after my first was born.''
Criston could never imagine that. He lived for the battle, ever since he could walk he always wanted be the center of attention, the tough guy, the one on top. Criston enjoyed being in the thick of things, when a man is battle, nothing seems real anymore. Time blurs, slows, and sometimes stands still like a calm pool. Nothing was there except the battle, except the man with the axe or morningstar or spear in front of you.
No fear, no pain or exhaustion. Only laughter. Laughter as other men fall to slashes and cuts and blows to their skulls, but you keep on going. Swimming through their attempts of killing you, smooth as the wind.
The man continued, ''I beg your pardons for the behavior of Prince Daemon. His father taught him arms but fell short on the manners is seems like. Viserys is more polite, of that you can be assured. I'm Ser Otto Hightower,'' The man extended a hand, and Criston took it.
''You seem a loyal fellow, despite the Prince's behavior.Though I must ask you, what do they say of our new Prince of Dragonstone in the inns and taverns? It will be a deal lot harder to fight Corlys if he has the smallfolk supporting his son.''
Criston thought on that for a moment, Viserys was kind amiable and open-handed, his love for showering his favorites with gold and offices was already known throughout the camp, and many would gladly follow him into battle, based of his personality alone.
Daemon however was crass and had a fondness for making men feel worthless and beneath him, diminishing their accomplishments and made some of the most highborn feel like servants, the prince inspired no loyalty from his men.
Prince Daemon had slept with several knights wives in a span of a fortnight, Criston observed, and didn't seem to plan to stop. If Daemon ascended the Iron Throne, many a lord will find themselves with silver-haired bastards of an heir. He could hardly bad mouth a Prince though, not unless he wanted to be Caraxes' supper.
''Prince Viserys is beloved by the commons, I expect his reign to be long and fruitful.'' Something flickered in Ser Otto's eyes. Hopefully he has the sense to understand my meaning.
The knight pursed his lips, but said nothing. ''I thank you Ser Criston.'' Otto Hightower said calmly. As he walked away, he heard the knight call out to him.
''Keep working on that morningstar, we have need of men of your skill in the capital.''
A small smile bloomed on his face.
''Let's go!'' He heard Prince Daemon call, as he turned around he saw the prince staring directly at him, purple eyes narrowed and angry.
''We march to Riverrun!''
An even brighter smile bloomed on his face.
Chapter 4: CHAPTER IV
The clash of steel on steel of battles long past still rang in his ears. Leather jerkins were ripped by freshly-sharpened swords, morningstar's knocked dents into sturdy iron helms, daggers pierced mail in their weak points, leaving waterfalls of thick red blood pooling from their wounds.
He woke up with a startle, an aching cramp in his arms and neck. The world around him was dark and damp, he could see the faint moonlight through the cloth of his tent. Laenor slept next to him, silver hair tied back with a dragon bone brooch, chest rising and falling softly as he snored.
I need to piss, Joffrey thought suddenly. His mouth was dry as well. His hand felt wet grass, dew still lingering on the green blades as he stumbled out of the tent. Looking around him, he saw the ghost of the camp.
No one was awake, and no one could see him. Joff made his way to a nearby bush to make his water, unlacing his breeches, his began to release himself when he heard to soft crunching of leaves.
Startled, he quickly finished, lacing his breeches before turning around. There was no one there. Joff narrowed his eyes in suspicion, looking amongst the tree line.
Joffrey Lonmouth was but twelve years old, yet he long served as squire alongside his best friend Laenor on Driftmark to the current Lord of the Tides, Corlys Velaryon. His sister, Jenna, served Lady Laena as well. The Lonmouth's have a rich and bountiful history, thriced have they served on the Kingsguard, and thriced have they wed into a royal house. Before Aegon's Conquest, several Lonmouth maids wed to Durrandon Princes.
Tall, broad shouldered and strapping, Joffrey was as handsome as he was charming. Valiant and brave as well, he never backed down from a fight, even against great odds. I'm like Laenor in that sense. He ran a hand though his mass of curly raven hair, suddenly feeling nervous, he managed to crawl back into the tent, only to find Laenor wide awake, staring at him.
''By the Seven you scared me,'' said a startled Joff.
''Where did you go?'' He asked, purple eyes filled with curiosity.
''I went to take a piss. I heard something in the woods and came back tough,'' A gleam went through Laenor's eyes. Oh no.
''Is it a wolf?'' Laenor asked lazily, as if it were no big deal. His victories make him bold.
''Don't even think about it.'' He warned him, Laenor didn't pay attention as he shoved past him to get outside.
''I've always wanted a wolfskin cloak,'' He announced as he fumbled through his belongings before pulling out a sword. Good steel, castle forged. A blue tint shimmered through the sword as he turned it, shining brighter in the moonlight.
''That wolf will tear you limb from limb,'' Joff told his friend, Laenor snorted.
''Does the wolf have steel teeth, to tear through plate and mail?'' Laenor said haughtily.
''You aren't even wearing plate or mail.'' pointed out Joffrey.
Laenor didn't bother to reply, instead, he began slowing walking towards the woods. Cursing, Joff gathered his own sword belt and placed both sword and dagger alike in their leather sheaths.
''We should wait for your uncle!'' He protested, his friend laughed.
''Which one? I have so many I've lost count. Me and Laena are the only ones who matter anyway.'' Joffrey did not know what to say to that, so he opted silence instead. The Velaryons were as fertile as they were rich, and the Lord Corlys had countless brothers and sisters besides himself, all with their own wives and children who might seek to claim Driftmark.
His own family was similar in a way, being the fourth born son, Joffrey didn't have much prospects in life, for marriage or otherwise. He had to make his own way. Luckily, one of Lord Corlys aunts had married his grandsire, so he was a cousin of sorts to the current line, which led him to be take as fosterling, cupbearer, and later squire for the proud Velaryons.
''On Driftmark, you only trust full blooded siblings, and them not even as much,'' Laenor told him as he got off the Pride of Driftmark, he remembered the fear he felt after hearing such a thing.
''They are still your kin. Your mother would have my hide if she knew-''
''My mother isn't here. Besides, I'm no suckling babe needing to be watched every second. I'm almost a man grown, father says.'' Joff sighed and accepted his defeat. If he goes off chasing wolves in the woods, the least I can do is go with him. He strapped his sword belt around his waist, and followed his friend into the bush.
The soft sounds of the hooting owl made him feel uneasy, sometimes a bird or some other thing would ruffle up some noise, putting him edge. The chilliness of the Riverlands were not lost upon him, but he was only clad in lambswool breeches and a leather jerkin over thin wool tunic. After a couple of minutes he could take no more, the silence was oddly terrifying, and the occasional sound would make flinch. Something is wrong here...
Joffrey was not one to toot his own horn, but he considered himself fairly brave. Countless times Daemon's savages raided their men-at-arms and sworn swords. After Laena and her brother put the Acorn Hall to the torch, everyman knew that the rogue prince would exact revenge. Joff did not run, he did not cry, he did not beg. When men twice his age were on their knees, he spat in their face with as much defiance as he could muster, bending only to his true king.
So why did he feel so much dread?
''Are you done?'' He asked after they’d spent nigh a couple of hours outside, trying to put humor in his voice. Laenor snorted.
''The beast ran deep into the woods most like. We shall go back.'' Relief washed over him, he disliked these woods, and would have no part of them.
''Do you think mother will come back today?'' Laenor asked him. Princes- Queen Rhaenys had set Lord Harroway's town to flame less than a day after the council ruled out of Laenor's favor. Laenor's cousin had traveled to Seagard to rally the ships of Lord Mallister, as Lannisport were supporting the pretender, and the Sea Snakes ships were across the country.
Rhaenys saw him as far as Fairmarket, but then traveled back around to the Red Fork and the Kingsroad, to torch Quiet Isle and other meager villages. She was due back as her sons side today, and hopefully when they reached Riverrun to chastise the traitor Tully, she would add her red queen to Vhagar, Seasmoke and the Celtigar dragons as well.
''I'm sure she will Your Grace, it's only a matter of time before you march on Riverrun.'' The Riverlords betrayal had came as a shock to his cousin. Lord Tully had just recently offered his heirs hand in marriage for the lady Laena, his friend told him.
''That auburned haired weasel is upset because his frog-faced heir can't have my sister. So he backed the traitor. He will pay for his treason, I'll slay the bastard myself in single combat, if he isn't to craven to fight.''
Laenor had wished to make Riverrun a smoky ruin, and put every man with Tully blood to the sword. Joff agreed with this punishment. He is the lawfull lord of Westeros, the men who deny it are traitors. How would Aegon the dragon deal with his lords backing his enemies?
Laenor eyes gleamed. ''Did I tell you I mean to challenge him to single combat?'' He asked, Joffrey nodded.
''I was thinking of beheading him. I should feed him to Seasmoke instead though, but I fear my beast doesn't like the taste of traitors.'' Joff said nothing as his friend prattled on. Laenor was king, but Lord Corlys would be acting as regent, and it would be him who would carry out punishment for the rebels most like.
Laenor was talking when screams came rising from the direction of the camp. A thundering roar came from the lips of a dragon, so loud it seemed to crack open the sky above. Joffrey ran towards the sound, Laenor already ahead of him.
The dawn had begun to break, and the sky was a mixture oranges and yellows and purples and blues, all swirled around like paint in a bucket. When they came out of the thick of the trees, he saw Ser Aenys Velaryon, Laenor's cousin and one of the men who were with Princess- no, Queen Rhaenys. Laenor took notice.
''Where is my mother?'' He demanded of his uncle, the knight pointed to the far east. Another roar came, this time, he could see Vhagar flapping it's leathery wings as it came flying down, teal membranes stood out against deep green scales. A silver haired girl rode on her back. Joff looked up and up and up, until he saw Laenor's mother. He had scene the dragon a thousand times, yet he was still in awe as if it had been the first.
Rhaenys Targaryen was the blood of old Valyria, and was fearsome as the dragonlords that ruled it. It was only natural that she had a dragon that matched her repute. The Red Queen was lean and fierce as her rider, with a body of deep scarlet, horns of polished copper, and pale pink membranes for her wings.
She was a beauty to behold, the dragon and the woman alike. Though only twenty and seven, Princess Rhaenys could pass for six-and-ten. Laenor smiled.
''She's finally back, I hope she brought father with her-''
''That is unlikely, Laenor, your father is still on Driftmark.'' A sullen stare was brought about his friends face, he quickly thought of something to say to cheer him up.
''I'm sure he will come soon, Laenor. It's only a matter of time.'' His friend nodded before saying,
''I agree. Well, we should walk to greet her before she lands.'' Joff agreed, so they made their way towards the open lush greenery that was farthest away from the camp. Vhagar came down with a thud, a roar come down from her throat as she looked down on them. Laenor rolled his eyes.
''Stop showing off!'' He demanded, his sister laughed.
''I think not, their faces when they hear her roars are too priceless.'' Joff chuckled with them. His friends seemed to take a pleasure in scaring men with their roars. It had almost became a contest of sorts between them.
The Red Queen came flying down, settling herself beside the small stream so she could lap up the sweetwater from the river. Sliding down her back was Rhaenys Targaryen, beloved daughter of Prince Aemon and Jocelyn Baratheon.
She didn't even bother to speak to the other men who greeted her, her eyes were only for her children. A grabbed Laena and swung her around until she was breathless from giggling, and ruffled Laenor's hair before harassing him with chaste kisses. His friend could only blush.
''Mother...'' He feebly protested as he squirmed, Rhaenys smiled her son.
''All right, all right. Note taken.'' Rhaenys finally set her gaze upon him, her eyes purple and clear. She smiled.
''Joffrey, I just came from your brothers company. He sends his regards.'' Joff couldn't help but smile, Jason was his hero, who was the reason he aspired for knighthood, so he could be just like him. He is strong and fearsome, men respect him just as much as they fear him. But he is no savage, and knows how to treat a foe with respect. Uncle Haldon said he has charm, ''coming out of his ass'' but he doubted that euphemism was charming at all.
''I Thank you, Your Grace. When might I be able to send a raven? It's been so long since my mother has heard from me.''
''Soon, Joff, Riverrun shall have no lack of ravens,'' Laenor hooted, and some of them jeered. Morale was high in their camp, as they had gone undefeated in the field. Velaryon men crushed Daemon's savages with ease. When the Maesters write their histories, they will speak of this day, they will speak of bravery during it all most.
He would carve out a piece for himself in the legends and songs of Westeros. He could think of it now, Brave Joffrey they'd say. Lords would name their firstborns after him, and knights would aspire to be as fearless as him on the battlefield, maidens would soon at the sight of him... Laenor interrupted his musing with his boast to one of his uncles.
The men raised a large pavillion when word of the Queen arrival had reached them. It was larger than most common rooms in an alehouse or inn, with comforts included but were not limited to: a feather mattress with sable sleeping furs, a smooth wood-and-copper tub large enough for two, three braziers and a fireplace to keep out the chill, several chairs, a writing table with parchment, quills and ink, bowls of peaches, oranges and pears, a flagon of sweet Arbor Gold and two silver cubs inlaid with jade and emerald, a pair of red-tailed hunting hawk, a longbow wrought from the golden wood of the Summer Isles, and a quiver of arrows with silver fletching.
They and five guardsmen walked into the pavilion when Laenor began to speak, the Queen was filling her wine cup, listening intently to her sons every word.
''We should march on Riverrun today, I grow weary of sitting here doing nothing. Besides, I've been practicing more with the long axe for the duel,'' Joff cleared his throat loudly, a signal for him to stop talking. His mother while brave, was still fairly overprotecting, as all mothers were. He doubted Rhaenys would dare let Laenor challenge a man grown to a duel, hell, he doubted she knew that Laenor rode in the forefront when they faced battle, cutting through men like spoons through butter.
His friend was too caught up in his chatter to notice him, but unfortunately, his mother did.
''There will be no duel,'' She said shortly, Laenor looked confused for a moment, before flushing red. A shock to him, Laenor drew himself up defiantly and said.
''Yes there will. I mean to challenge Lord Tully and his son to single combat.'' Everyone stopped, Laenor had raised his voice, projecting it so every man and woman within range could hear. Rhaenys regarded her son cooly before speaking.
''Everyone out.'' Laena stayed, eager to see her brother get in trouble, but Joff knew that her mother would have little patience for such a thing. He sauntered over to the silver haired girl.
''We should go,'' said Joff, Laena frowned.
''I hear there's a wolf in the woods,'' He said, a smile curling his lips. ''Laenor said he always wanted a wolf cloak, I'd think you want the same,'' He paused, ''Unless you're a craven, that is.'' Fury and excitement were on his Princess's face.
''I'm no craven!'' She hissed at him, but he merely smirked and walked away.
Before he could fully walk out of the pavilion, Laena was on him, seizing him roughly by the shoulders and swinging him around. Her purples eyes were filled with wonder and curiosity, smiling, she said.
''Lets go before mother comes, I've never seen a wolf before!'' Joff chuckled, she would have my hide if she knew I lied. Technically, it wasn't a lie, he did hear something in the woods, though Laenor just assumed it was a wolf.
''Very well then, my lady,'' he said dramatically, Laena snorted and playfully slapped his shoulder.
He placed a hand on the base of a tree, feeling the thick brown mass that lay there. The roots sprawled grotesquely into the ground, gnawing into the dirt with it's point talons.
The trees were large and ominous, but Laena didn't seem interested nor afraid.
''This is stupid,'' She said pointedly. ''There is no wolf here, if you tricked me I'll have your hide!'' Joff snorted.
''You have you brother to thank, he was the one who ran in here in the middle of the night, sword in hand, vowing to slay the beast.'' Laenor had more bravery than sense, according to his mother. Knights are supposed to be brave, not clever, that is for the Maesters and women to concern themselves with.
''Ugh, I swear, soon as I get my hands on him I'll-'' Her voice was cut off by the sound of music. Full of grief and sorrow, the song played and played and played. Joff straightened up, looking around him. The forest was thick with old sentinel and old oak, old as the earth itself, the roots deep and ancient. Dark and gloomy, the trees looked to be snarling at him in anger when he stared.
One such tree, a spotted Redwood, looked to be spitting red blood as its sap trickled down the bark. Laena frowned.
''How can we hear the music from this far away?'' Something is wrong here. His curiosity flying through the roof, he placed a hand on the hilt of his longsword, and took a step towards the music. Laena grabbed him by the arm.
''Are you mad? Where are you going?''
''To the music,'' he said. Laena looked at him with anger, and a hint of something else. Fear, he realized, she is afraid. Why? It's just music.
''No you won't. You come back with me, I command it,'' Joff frowned.
''You aren't Queen yet, and besides, its nothing to be afraid of.'' said Joff with ease, raising an eyebrow. As he expected, she began to sputter and shout.
''I'm not afraid!'' Joff laughed this time, loud and cheerful, and ignored Laena's calls as he walked inside the woods.
Further and further he went, chasing after the sweet sadness that filled the air around him. The bitter, angry faces of the trees soon turned to sorrow. I am an outsider here, he thought. These are the dwellings of the children of the forest and the first men.
Fool! A sharp thought reminded him, there are no such things as children of the forest, or wargs or greenseers! How would Jason react to see you mewling about wet nurses stories?
Further and further he went, until he could walk no more and was ready to turn back. Then she was there.
The woman sat on an old rotted tree log, filled with red ants and green mold and yellow algae. She was a tiny thing, no older than Jenna, he thought to himself, at least until he looked upon her face.
Her face was weathered and wrinkled, with skin loose and hanging off of her bones. A hand trembled as she held onto a snarling cane of black wood. It was then he realized the music had stopped.
''Were you playing the music?'' He asked, the woman slowly lifted her head to look at him, what was left of her hair was white as snow, but her eyes... they were red, red as blood.
''Child of the storm,'' she spoke softly, ''I had waited for you to come to me,'' Joff was confused.
''I am no child,'' he told her, drawing himself up ad deepening his voice.
''All men are children in my eyes,'' the woman spoke again.
''Why was your music so sad?'' He questioned again, the red eyes switched from calm to grief.
''I have had more grief in my life than happiness, it comforts me, strangely.'' She is an old woman, lost and afraid and alone in the woods, she will die out here.
''I am Joffrey Lonmouth, I ride with the true king, Laenor Velaryon. You shouldn't be here alone, my lady. Daemon's men will fall on you at any moment, you can accompany us to Riverrun if you like.'' The woman looked at him, her eyes seeming to look through him.
''You are a kind and chivalrous boy, special too, more than you know.''
''My lady-'' she cut him off before he could finish.
''Have you ever thought about your future, boy?'' All the time, he thought to himself. Where would he go, where would he live, what would he do? Knighthood was a sure thing, he could still live in the family keep when Jason came into his lordship he supposed... but he wanted to be his own man, to have songs sung about him and to live and die in a blaze of glory and honor. He could scarcely do that serving as master-at-arms under his brother.
He would divulge that to her though, she was a stranger. He had tried to help her, but she seemed intent on staying out here to freeze and starve. Unless Daemon's horde get her first, she'll be in for a raping, ever mind the fact she old enough to be their grandmother.
''Come to me child, I may be an old woman but my eyes still see...'' Once again, his curiosity fired up.
''What an you see?'' He prodded.
''Lots of things, the old gods bless those who worship the weirwood,'' Stunned, he said nothing. He was anointed and raised in the Faith, though he rarely prayed to any other than the Warrior. Perhaps the Mother once in a while, when someone at Driftmark was in labor.
''I worship the Seven, my lady.'' The woman smiled.
''Do you?'' His limbs acted without his permission, moving him towards the woman. When he reached her, he could feel the warmth of the flames as he kneeled before her. She held out her hand. He took it.
''Blood child,'' she spoke in a whispery voice, he recoiled back.
''Blood?'' He asked angrily, the woman made a sound resembling a snort.
''Yes blood. Not a lot, only a drop.'' Joff agreed, from her robe, a blade of glossy black material, with a dragon bone hilt. She murmured words in a foreign, ancient tongue, before making the small incision.
She put his hand to her mouth and sucked the blood. It took all his will power not to cringe. When she was done, she smiled at him, her teeth stained red as her eyes.
''Oh yes, I see you, storm child. Knight of Kisses, Knight of Skulls. Many men will fall before your blade, oh wait- I see... white, white plate, white armor no-! gold, gold armour. No, silver! With black diamonds and teal sapphires! I see you now, with a seahorse and dragon behind you, as you destroy their enemies! Oh the deaths, oh the horror!''
Suddenly, she shoved him away from her, tears weeping from her red eyes, with fear and anger filling them. She pointed at him, her voice high and shrill.
So he left, and soon enough, he heard the sweet and sad music filling the air once more.
When he got back to the camp, it was pure darkness, with milk white moons and stars lighting up the sky. He was shocked to find it in disarray. Men were grabbing their belongings and rushing to horses, a tall knight shouting orders. The chaos and noise was too much to bear, so he ran towards the Queens pavilion and threw the silk curtain open.
Inside were Laenor, Laena and Queen Rhaenys. His best friend was on his feet before he could speak, pulling him into a tight bear hug. When he let go, his purple eyes became low and angry.
''Don't you ever scare me like that again!'' he warned, Laena hugged him as well, tears brimming on her lovely purple eyes.
''You really scared us, Joff promise not do it again?'' he nodded and apologized. The Queen looked frantic as well.
''Seven Hells, Joffrey, you scared the hell out of us! I sent a hundred men looking for you, I nearly took to flight myself!'' It was then he realized.
''All that chaos is for me?'' He asked. All of them nodded. Stupid stupid stupid! Everyone is now trodding through the woods for nothing because you wanted to follow some music! He berated himself.
Before anyone could utter a word, loud, clanking sounds of armor were heard rushing inside the pavilion. The Queen stood up.
''Aenys, is something the matter?'' Joff turned around to see the knight, red-faced and breathless he was, Aenys looked as if he'd seen a ghost.
''Yes Your Grace, it's Daemon. he's reached Riverrun!''
Chapter 5: CHAPTER V
This chapter takes place a couple of days before chapter 3
Alicent stood, tall and strong as the men of the castle left the great fortress of Harren the Black. Her long silver-gold hair was done in a simple braid that snaked around her left shoulder, and fell to her waist. The grey velvet vest was tight around her yellow silk brocade gown. Golden motif of serpents, snakes and dragons were elegantly embroidered on the dagged sleeves that pooled to the floor and the skirt below it. Lined with cloth-of-silver and gilded carved tower buttons on the vest, Alicent looked her best to see them off.
They were all leaving, Lord Strong, her brother, even the Princes. I have little and less time. The Prince was hers, well, one of them was at least. But Daemon was reckless and foolish and vain, he could not be relied upon. But he was still Viserys' heir until he had a trueborn son, so she was stuck with his womanizing behavior, petty japes and sick, twisted fondness for bloodshed.
For the family. For Oldtown. We light the way.
It made her sick, but her father would have no less of her. She was a Hightower, it was her duty to serve her family, and to advance their position. Why be a men-at-arms when you can be a knight? Why be a knight when you can be a lord? While be a vassal lord when you can be a lord paramount? Why be a lord paramount when you can be a king?
It was easy enough with Viserys, soon as he's far from his wife he gets wrapped around her finger, Daemon though, sees women as playthings. The Prince had been married for nigh on four years now, and the relation still remained childless. For his lack of trying, or her lack of fertility?
Though no one wished to speak of it,her father most of all, Daemon was Viserys' unofficial heir until his wife gave him a son, and that seemed highly unlikely. If Viserys were to die without fathering a son, she would have to marry Daemon to become queen. Without a doubt he'd turn her gray with his lecherous behavior, and would father thousands of bastards to compete with her trueborn sons. It must be Viserys. Aemma was frail and weak, why Baelon would wed his firstborn to her was a mystery to Alicent, she had no doubt that the woman would die trying to give Viserys the son he always wanted. That's for the best, she would be a weak queen as she is a mother.
The pretender king had not taken his loss well, father said. Corlys had called the banners, and Rhaenys had set the nearest town to flame in her rage after hearing the councils decision. Ser Vaemond had taken to Seagard, to apparently rally House Mallister to the banners of the pretender. Her father had been commanded to get the Shield Islands, Arbor and the fleet of Oldtown under his control.
Good, that way he'll be out of the fighting. Her father may be a knight, but lance and sword had lost whatever appeal it had to him. The fighting should be left to the young men. The little Velaryon lord was said to be marching to Riverrun, to chastise Lord Tully for voting against him. Blackwood was said to join them, and Lord Manderly's sons were attending Corlys on Driftmark while their father sallied ships.
The Starks remained defiant as well, Lord Stark declared for Velaryon before fortifying himself behind Moat Cailin to call his banners. War felt imminent, but no one had the good sense to tell the king of all this. While men marched and banners were called, the old king sat in his chambers, smiling softly at her as she read to him. She had grown fond of the old king, he reminded her of her grandfather, always laughing and talking and singing.
The little Princess stood next to her, holding herself with so much grace for a little girl. I taught her well, her mother didn't have the decency to raise her own daughter in the womanly arts, instead taking to sulking in her chambers of her failure to produce a son. Completely useless. Viserys deserves better.
Aemma was always frail and sickly, even her mother was said to be small and short of frame, and died shortly after giving birth to her only child. The Princess was different, at just seven she was headstrong, willful, and beautiful. She had all the making of a Queen, but it would go to waste if Alicent hadn't stepped in to tutor the girl.
Her silver-gold hair was done in a similar braid to hers, falling softly around her shoulder, black velvet vest was tight around her small waist, but it only exemplified the crimson silk brocade gown she wore. Instead of serpents and snakes, Rhaenyra's gold motif was dragons. In her hands a pale pink silk ribbon was clutched tightly. She could only guess who she meant to give it to. Alicent's lips pursed slightly, the girls fondness for her uncle was concerning. Her father tasked her to seduce the heir to the throne, but her innocent little princess was seducing her uncle better than her without even trying. While Alicent was older, Rhaenyra remained the only child of Viserys, if Daemon were to wed her instead, any sons they had would have would have a stronger blood claim to the Iron Throne.
Her mother stood to her left, garbed in black silk gown, her silver-gold ringlets falling to her waist. When their eyes met, Aemma's grew hard.Purple eyes, she mused, slightly lighter than her own. Alicent herself was of dragon blood, enough to be able to present a claim to the Great Council, but not enough to win it. With Aerea Targaryen for a grandmother and Rhaenys Velaryon with a mother, she had more than enough dragon blood to go around.
In fact, her mother was a daughter of Rhaella Targaryen, her grandmother's twin sister who herself was Velaryon on her mother's side. She found it odd that her and the famous lord Corlys were cousins, especially since he was so much older than her. Of age with her father in fact. Perhaps older.
Her brother had played around with the idea of her marrying Laenor, but father deaded that immediately. Viserys was a man grown, while Laenor was a little boy, he wished for her to begin birthing princes and princess as soon as she was able.
After Rhaenys' torching of Harrentown, Corlys' gathering of ships on Driftmark, and Laenor and Laena's burning of the the areas around the Red Fork, Prince Daemon Targaryen had came back to Harrenhal with vengeance on his mind. Countless times she had seen him ride out with his knights, only to come back angry of how the boy evaded him, or boasting of the men he killed.
Viserys never rode out, claiming that raiding the ''boy's toys'' as he'd taken to calling them, was no true feat. Daemon flushed a shade of red at that, but made no reply as he stomped away from his brother. Viserys was no slouch however, everyday at dawn he'd walk down to the armory and garb himself in plate in mail for his morning practice.
Alicent took to watching him, it was the only time he wasn't with his daughter or wife or the various lords who flocked around him. While she claimed to be watching her brothers spar, her eyes would only be for the Prince, and his for her.
He would blush whenever their eyes met, yet when they saw each other elsewhere, he remained courteous and clear-headed, as if he was meeting her for the first time. Alicent was diligent in her duty, and used every resource to find out more about the prince she would soon marry.
Father wished for her to use everything at her disposal, but she had a code. Her relationship with the princess was innocent and pure, she would not soil it by using the girl to find better ways to sneak into her father's bed. She deserves that much of me, Rhae is a sweet girl, she shall have no grief on my part.
Speaking of her father, Ser Otto Hightower had left a fortnight ago, riding with all due haste south go rouse Oldtown and the Shield Islands. Lord Tymond Lannister himself was cut off from his own lands, as Laenor and his band owned everything west of Harrenhal. Areas north of the Goldroad and near the Red Fork were also occupied by Velaryon men.
Rhaenys had escorted her good cousin to Seagard on the back of her dragon men said, and House Mallister could field enough ships to challenge Fair Isle and Lannisport, but the Ironborn stood in the way of them and the westerlands.
Her brothers would represent her father on the battlefield today, her uncle Lord Jeremy Hightower was gathering forces at Oldtown, while her cousin Ormund rode with all haste to liberate the Riverlands with a thousand knights, pledging to take the battle to Laenor and the ''boy's toys.''
The sound of hooves made her head turn, and it was then she was him: Viserys Targaryen, Prince of Dragonstone and future King of the Seven Kingdoms, with me as his Queen.
Even as he drew near, she could faintly see the blood-red rubies glistening against his black steel plate. His great helm was crowned with the three headed dragon of his house, wrought in smooth black iron, red gemstones set in for their eyes. His pauldrons were red dragons as well, with red and orange flames spewing from their mouths.
Gauntlets and greaves boasted ornate golden scrollwork, while his heavy padded skirt was black velvet striped with cloth-of-silver. His brother used Dark Sister, the ancestral sword of Visenya and the dragonlords of House Targaryen before her, but Viserys had taken to the war hammer instead.
Where Daemon was lean and long of limb, Viserys was massive and powerfully built, thick arms and thighs, with rough calloused hands: proof of his work with is hammer. Some men even claimed he was similar to Maegor the Cruel in his physical shape, but it was his brother who inherited this supposed ''cruelty.''
Daemon is a man infested with the disease of power and slaughter, anyone who's been to battle will catch it.
War hammer hanging from his saddle, the Prince dismounted at once when he saw his family, taking off his helmet as he walked. Daemon frowned.
''Brother, we need to march if we can make it in time to liberate Riverrun,'' he said, his voice borderline insolent. Viserys didn't even look back.
''In a minute.'' His voice was strong and commanding, he is a natural leader, she thought, men will follow him in battle.
Viserys gave her a courteous bow, his armor clinking as he walked, Alicent drew herself into a deep curtsey. Then he went to his wife, the Prince gave her a strong hug, and while Aemma smiled, she look as if she were struggling to breathe. Viserys then gave her a warm kiss in the lips before whispering in her ear, she nodded.
Next he went to his daughter, without warning he picked the little princess up and spun her around, his booming bellows putting her childish laughter to shame. When she came down from her flight, Rhaenyra was red-faced and smiling. She brought up her hand slowly to reveal her favor, Viserys knelt down to her.
''Now who is this for?'' He asked, clearly amused, the Princess' face changed, and she suddenly looked near to tears.
''Do you have to go? I know you don't, grandfather isn't even going, and he's the king! Can't we just go back home? You let Lord Otto go...'' The girl had refused to acknowledge Baelon as her grandfather, instead calling the old king by that name.
''Ser Otto,'' Viserys corrected.
''And you now I must Rhae. There are bad people in these lands, sweetling, who wish to harm my people, but I must protect them. It is my duty. If I could stay here with you and your mother I would, but I would be doing Westeros a disservice. Grandfather is too old to keep the king's peace, so he depends on me to defend his realm, you understand don't you?'' She's seven, and her father is going to battle, and men scarce come back alive from such things. She kept silent however, her opinion would not be appreciated. The prince's devotion to duty was endearing however. More and more she was starting the enjoy hearing the wisdom of the prince.
Rhaenyra's eyes were glistening with tears, but she quickly wiped them away, hand shaking, he brought up her favor and said, ''I usually give it to Uncle Daemon. He said it always made him lucky when he competed, if I give it to you, will you promise to be lucky too?'' The girl had never spoken her uncle's name after he brutalized a knight in the training yard. The Maester stitched him up as best he could, but Ser Cargyll now bore hideous scars on his once comely face. Daemon didn't even have the sense to apologize for his actions. If we marry, I'll be cleaning up his messess forever.
Viserys looked grief stricken, he took the silk and clutched it in his hands, and gave his daughter a hug, ''I promise Rhae.''
Then the prince slimbed stiffly on to his war horse, and rode away. Daemon after him, cloth-of-gold cape flying behind him. Her brothers came next, clad in silvered steel plate and gilded mail, Gwayne and Grayson looked splendid in their armor. She gave them both kisses on the cheek before turning to Grayson, older than her by two years.
''Make sure you keep an eye on Gwayne, I don't want him getting killed, or worse, captured.'' Grayson nodded at once, smiling his infamous smile he wore.
''Of course sister,'' Gwayne was to busy showing off his sword to some squire to hear what she said. Her younger brother was bold and quick to take offense, he would probably throw himself in danger to prove he could take care of himself in battle, fool as he was. Pale green silk was tied to his arm, and thus after that her brother wore her favor.
Alicent smiled and cheered and waved with the rest of the women that were waiting, most of them won't come back, she thought sadly. Prince Viserys spared one last look to his wife and daughter, before digging his feet into his spurs and flying off. His great helm glistened and gleamed in the sunlight, and the dragons that crowned it made him look like a horned god.
She sighed sadly, if the Prince didn't come back, not only were her chances of being a (happy) Queen demolished, the Princess would also have to grow up without a father. She silently sent a prayer, I must go to the Sept later. Instantly the Princess turned to her.
''Can we play dolly's today?'' She asked sweetly, before she could reply her mother stepped in.
''I'm sure Alicent has many things she needs to attend to, right Alicent?'' In truth most of her time was spent with her father, the king, the princess and on occasion, the prince. She had no real duties here, unlike Aemma.
''Well, I'm sure his grace would wish for me to read to him. Barth's Unnatural histories I think, if the princess would like to accompany me. . .'' She looked as if she were about to refuse, but Rhaenyra beat her to it.
''I want to go! I wanna read to grandfather!'' She claimed excitedly. Her mother's lips pursed with anger, but she said nothing.
''Very well sweetling, afterwards we must head to the Sept, yes?'' Rhaenyra nodded but Alicent could tell she was only half listening. She'll make a good wife for my son one day. The girl was always a problem to her father, though Alicent didn't understand why it needed it to be so. She had no intention of completely stripping the Iron Throne from the princess.
''Shall we head on, little princess?'' Rhaenyra nodded and took her hand. By the time they climbed up the Wailing Tower her feet ached, Rhaenyra however had no sign of being tired as she waited for her on the stone bridge that connected to the Kingspyre Tower.
The kings chambers were in there, he usually shared them with Queen Alysanne, but she oft slept by herself recently. The deaths of her sons and daughter made her dreary and saddened, grief aged her grace by nearly ten years in the face, and made her skinnier and prone to sickness as well.
Thus it was that she became the king's constant companion, and for what it was worth, Alicent found it somewhat relaxing. The king was gentle and courteous, though he never called by her given name, always mistaking her for one of his own daughters. Ser Clement Crabb was posted at the entrance of the hall where the king kept his chambers.
He wore steel plate enameled with scales to resemble the ones seen on dragons. On his arms, the scaled continued. His longsword and dagger were concealed in white leather sheaths with silver fastenings. The three headed dragon of Targaryen was proudly etched in silver on his breastplate, as well as hints of gold. The Lord Commander had rode with Viserys and Daemon to deal with the Velaryons, so it was up to Ser Clement and the rest of his brothers to protect the king.
He bowed low when he saw them, the princess waved her hands with excitement. ''Ser Clement! You should have seen my father when he left, he looked splendid in his armor!'' The knight gave a fond smile to her.
''I'm sure he did, the Prince is very brave, my lady.'' Alicent smiled.
''Forgive me ser, I know should have been here earlier but the princess wished to see her father off. He is doing well I hope?'' The knight nodded.
''No need my lady, the king awaits you in his chambers. My brother will escort you.'' Ser Clement and Ser Rupert were both the sons of Lord Ossifer Crab of Crackclaw Point. A poor but proud house, their seat on the Whispers had been left to ruins until Ser Clement and his brother were raised to the order. The king himself funded the rebuilding of the castle, so that his knights will look at their home with pride.
Ser Rupert was there fast then she expected, dressed in a suit of white plate, the man was not as comely as his brother, but still valiant in his own right. My son shall make a fine squire for him, she mused delightedly. My sons will be famed for their prowess throughout the kingdoms, the dragon knights, men shall call them. His white helm reflected brightly in the sun, making her squint her eyes.
''My lady, Your Grace.'' Rupert said respectfully. He then led them down the hall, his brother remaining guard at the center. The clink of his armor were the only sound, besides Rhaenyra's chatter. He eventually led them to the king's door, red dragon steel nailed into the door. Another knight in white plate stood sentry, guarding the door from intruders, Ser Rupert and his brother gave each other nods of acknowledgement.
''His Grace awaits you, my lady.'' the knight spoke, giving him a gentle smile and a nod, Alicent was led into the king's chamber, accompanied by his great-granddaughter.
Jaehaerys I was sitting in a chair, eyes glued to a cyvasse board game when she reached him. Fingers curled around an onyx elephant, the king studied the board as if it were the only thing on earth that mattered. Alicent seated herself in front of him, and gently took his hand in hers.
''Your Grace?'' She asked sweetly, ''I have a someone you might want to see,'' Jaehaerys purple eyes lifted, hazy and clouded, she could tell he had been drinking milk of the poppy. His joint aches caused him great pain, especially when he had to mount the throne, so he was given a drop to ease his pain. But sometimes it would grow so great that he couldn't rise from his bed, instead leaving father to rule for him.
''Saera?'' A kind smile twisted upon his face, and it broke her heart. He then turned to the little princess, who was looking confused.
''Viserra? Oh, gods!'' Suddenly the kin rose from his seat and wrapped the princess in a iron grip. Rhaenyra's face turned into on of shock, before giggling and hugging her sire back. She is too young to understand, Alicent realized, she thinks it's a game. Jaehaerys eventually put the princess down, and the girl pulled up a chair to sit in.
''Shall we play a game of Cyvasse, Saera? It was always your favourite. Oh, your mother will be delighted to see you!'' Rhaenyra opened her mouth to say something, but a look from Alicent stopped her. She smiled and grabbed a trebuchet.
''I'm sure she will.''
Chapter 6: CHAPTER VI
"Laena. . . it's time to go.''
She sighed and sat up, Vhagar gave an impolite snort at the interruption of her massage, but a look from her master shut her up. Now is the time. She and her mother had been flying to scout out the usurper's army, five thousand strong her uncle Daemon told them. He had came back from battle at the Stoney Sept, and was as wroth as mother when he found out Viserys and his brother stole the march on them.
Laenor had meant to leave Riverrun a smoking ruin, but craven Lord Tully hid behind his walls and sent ravens to Harrenhal, begging for help. What kind a man begs another to defend his own people?
Craven lords and traitor knights aside, Laena was feeling quite triumphant. When she slept at night, she could see the men run and flee and beg for mercy when her uncles rode them down. She heard their screams as Vhagar let her flames loose on their villages. No mercy for traitors, they plot to steal my crown, now they are paying for it.
Though it hadn't been decided yet, Laenor told her they would marry when they reached adulthood. She didn't know how to feel about that. Her brother was not uncomely. In fact, she was the comeliest boy her age, except for Baelon Celtigar, and perhaps Joffrey. But he was also immature, and prone to stealing, she never forgotten how he snitched her lemon cakes at her name day feast.
Meleys laid sprawled out not even a foot away from Vhagar. Her red tail laid softly on her dragon's neck, while Vhagar cradled herself in Meleys' neck. Laena found that somewhat sweet. She could see the walls of RIverrun in the distance, but no dragons. Where is Balerion? Caraxes? Or Darkfyre? Ice-Eater? Oh wait, that Aegon was sent away. . .
The three sided pale sandstone castle stood tall in the light of the orange dawn. In time of danger, the Lord of Riverrun would open its sluice gates in order to fill their dry moat with water from the Red Fork, her maester taught her. This action would turn the castle to an island, making it impenetrable.
When Laena squinted her eyes, she could see towers filled with men guarding the opposite shores. Tiny arrow slits were carved through the stone, and she could see several scorpions filled with steel tipped iron bolts. Sudden doubt seized her by the throat.
''Mother,'' she spoke warily. Rhaenys Targaryen turned her head, humming as she fastened the last strap of the saddle that would hold her as she took to the sky.
''Yes Laena?'' She said softly, Laena pointed.
''Are they going to use those bolts on us? On our dragons?'' Her mother looked to where she was pointing at, frowned, then cursed.
''I will be fine. Dive in long enough to set a few towers to the flame before disappearing in the clouds.'' Laena bit her lip sullenly.
''What about me?'' she protested, mother gave her a smile.
''There will be plenty of time for you to ride your dragon, but this is not one of them. You are too young yet, and Laenor younger still.''
''Laenor won't like that. Neither do I.'' Laena insisted, mother only smiled.
''Well, there's no reason for him to find out, right. Leave your brother to me.''
It wasn't fair. How come mother could fight in battle, and win all the glory, and not her. At least she didn't refuse me because I'm a girl, that would have been even worse .
Mother would never do that to her. Her uncle Daemon did often, but he never mattered anyway. Uncle Aenys was much nicer (and comelier as well). He would play dollys with her and even let him braid his hair, unlike Laenor who complain like baby all the time. Suddenly, a shadow appeared over the sky, when she looked up, she saw none other than Seasmoke. On a black warhorse came Joffrey, taller than a twelve year old should be and more muscled as well, his sable ringlets falling softly to his collar, framing his face.
His brother came with him. Jason Lonmouth was the eldest son of Sylvester Lonmouth, Lord of Skull's Nest. The brothers had the purple eyes of her aunt, but the curly black hair that bespoke their Stormlander heritage.
Jason's mount was silvery grey, with a snow white mane that was combed and curled to such a high sheen the horse could have passed for a Targaryen. Jason wore ringmail and heavy padded gambeson under leather jerkin. Joffrey, who would serve as his squire, was clad in similar garment. The water moat of Riverrun were said to be deep and treacherous, and would drag a man under their waves if they dressed in steel plate.
Laenor came twirling down, his teal-silver beast shrieking all the while. Laenor leapt off the back of Seasmoke as he landed, sword violently snapping against his shin, though he never even looked at it. Her eldest uncle came riding too, both on tall warhorses and dresses in mail. Aenys smiled and ruffled her hair, calling her ''sweet niece'' while Daemon only managed a stiff nod.
''We will march now.'' Mother commanded in a tone that broke no argument. Squealing, Laena ran to Vhagar and hopped onto her back, as she fastened her chains that bound dragon to rider, her mother shouted, ''remember, you are a scout, no more. When the battle is joined, you will stay away from the Usurper's dragons.'' Laena and her brother acknowledged her, and agreed.
As one, Vhagar and Seamoke leapt into the sky to disappear between the clouds. Laenor ascended quickly, so fast she was sure his ears had popped. Her beast was older, and climbed the sky gradually, to her pleasure. As Vhagar rose and rose, Laena looked backward to see the men and horses and woods get smaller and smaller. Soon she rose so high that Meleys seemed a small blot of red on the great ocean of green. With a crack of her whip Vhagar roared, and Laena screamed in delight. Finally satisfied, she stopped climbing, and straightened the dragon out.
The wind was cold on her tongue and even colder in her eyes, drying them out as quickly as she moistened them again. High above her, she saw Seasmoke. Laughing, she called out her brother's name, only for his dragon to respond with a roar, Vhagar answered back, twice as loud. Suddenly Laenor dove down on top her, starling her so much that she let out a shocked gasp.
Her brother however, amazed her even more twisting his dragon in a circle, and flipping him over backwards. Laena's own mount was too old and stubborn to do such tricks, but she delighted in watching her brother show her some on Driftmark.
''Do it again!'' she demanded. Laenor laughed, and did it again.
Only then did Meleys show herself. Clad in steel and copper armor, her mother looked a warrior princess, straight from the songs. She narrowed her eyes at her children, before smiling and shouting a command. Meleys then turned upright, before spinning round and round and round, red wings spread so a small tornado was made from the wind. Laena was breathless from laughter while her brother hooted.
Then her mother came crashing down again, spinning and spinning and spinning. Laena's silver ringlets flew back at the force of the wind. After they looked down at the earth below them, trying to scout what they could. Suddenly there were shouts, and as she looked down, she saw an opposite force standing leagues in front of the walls of Riverrun, the moat behind them. She could make out Ser Jason and Joffrey, and saw a knight that perhaps be one of her uncles, but the others were too far for her to see. Then mother screamed.
''Get back!'' She shouted. Laena looked up, and felt her throat drop to her stomach.
Balerion the Black Dread was upon them.
With a curse and yank of her chains, Vhagar drew back flying higher and higher and higher. She saw Meleys and Balerion engage in a fist fight of claw and tooth and nail, neither far enough to blast flame. ''When the battle is joined, stay away from the usurpers dragons.'' Ignoring her mother Laena dove down, intent on slamming her dragon into Viserys'. Seasmoke was already ahead of her, the young dragon being swiffer.
Vhagar's jaws opened, and Laena leant forward in her saddle, anticipating the force of the collison. Seasmoke had his jaw locked tight on Balerion's tail, thrashing and biting so hard that red blood trickled down. A broad, muscled man atop the Dread's back cursed and shook his dragon with such force that Seasmoke flew back.
Another second she would have been there, slamming with all her might into her mother's attacker. Not that mother needed her help, Meleys was holding her own against the Dread, to her shock.
As Vhagar's teeth scraped Balerion's scales, something knocked into her so hard that all the breath left her lungs. A burning sensation began to bloom in her stomach, and she screamed as she realized she was plummeting from the sky. The force snatched her from the saddle, but the chains still bound her to her dragon. Fear made her cry out as she clenched for her Vhagar's scales, legs hanging out in the air. She was trying to right herself when she saw Caraxes, Prince Daemon's lean red beast. The dragon's jaws were wrapped around Vhagar's belly.
With a grunt, Laena slid her self on her dragon's back, and only then did she notice the red sap that was leaking from her clothes. Rage fueling her, she cracked her whip hard, forcing Vhagar to skink its teeth deep into Caraxes wing. With a pull of her chains, Vhagar yanked back, ad she heard a soft whisper. Caraxes screeched.
Daemon reeled back, but Vhagar unwilling let go. He tried to flee, but Laena was far from sated. An ached still flamed where Caraxes' claw had scratched her. Vhagar rose up quicker than before, slamming into Caraxes unbelly.
The dragon flew back, and then Laena screamed.
''Dracarys!'' Vhagar opened her mouth, and teal flames came spurting out.
''No!'' She heard someone scream, only to turn and see the usurper himself. Balerion kicked its legs to Meleys, freeing himself before flying at her. Meleys was already after him, chomping down on her rivals tail in a attempt to hold him back. Caraxes shrieked at the flames, but flew up higher and higher. When she looked, she could see several black marks on his belly. It reminded her of grilled steak.
Vhagar went after him, but she barely flew a second before a collision knocked the wind out of her. Her wound began to bleed more. Meleys wrapped her jaws around Balerion's neck, and Balerion clawed at Vhagar's belly. Laena twisted her chains, forcing Vhagar to latch her teeth on the Dread's black wings.
Same as before, she yanked the chains back, but Balerion was older and tougher, his wings would not rip so easily. Locked as one, there was little she could do, so in a fit of madness, she aimed her dragon's head down, and drove her to the earth.
The plush lands of Riverrun rushed up to meet her when suddenly Balerion broke free. Meleys and Vhagar gained their control again, and took to the sky. By this time, arrows were being loosed at them, but they did not hurt her dragon.
Only then did she see Seasmoke and Caraxes locked in battle, clawing and spitting flame at each other. Laena cracked her whip, sending Vhagar to her brother, only for Balerion to knock into them, sending both dragons flying through the air.
Meleys came just behind him, digging her teeth into his back. Vhagar did the same, latching onto his neck, wiggling about so she could wrench his head off. She saw the Prince then, clad in heavy steel plate.
''Son of a bitch!'' He roared, then Caraxes came again.
''Dracarys!'' Daemon screamed, Laena raised her dragon and began to fly, but she could steel feel the flesh searing flame that bathed her dragons belly.
Once she was high enough, Laena examined her wound. The pain was to great, and her studded leather jerkin was wet and sticky and black. Oh gods, she thought, legs shaking in her saddle, I'm going to die.
She tried to look down, but the clouds were blocking her vision, she moved across the sky until she got a better view. Meleys and and Balerion were going head to head, while Caraxes flew straight for Seasmoke. No!
She dove down once again, but when she got there they were already locked. Then something unforeseeable happened. Daemon had untied the chains that bound him to his dragon, and leapt off of Caraxes to the back of Seasmoke. Then he saw Dark Sister. Caraxes had his teeth wrapped tightly around Seasmoke's neck, and was digging in with every second.
Laenor undid his straps too she saw, and then they began to dance. Laenor was good, especially for his age, but Daemon was older, larger, and more experienced. He was given the sword of Visenya the Conqueror for his prowess in tourney by the old king himself.
Her brother parried the side slash that Daemon gave, only for him to come back with a thrust to the belly, Laenor stepped back, nearly losing his balance. Seasmoke slashed across Caraxes' belly, and she could see blood oozing out of his body.
They continued to dance. With perry and slash and thrust and block, Laenor held his own, but no more. He is toying with him, she realized, he could kill him now if he wanted.
Perhaps that arrogance was what led to what happened next. With his right hand, daemon swung Dark Sister at her brother's throat, the steel barely missing his skin. Laenor reeled back, before planting his boot to Daemon's chest.
The force of the kick sent him sprawling backwards, and falling out of the sky. It was then she joined them, smashing her weight onto the dragons body, but Carxes wrenched free of her.
As she looked up, she saw Caraxes fly right under her master, Daemon plopping right onto her red wing. He then turned his body to the left, rolling Daemon back onto his back.
Meleys was flying at Balerion again, and Laenor rose to meet her. Her wound was deafening now, and almost couldn't feel it. Laena looked to the west, and saw Riverrun standing there, undisturbed,
I will finish what we came to do.
She flew faster than she ever flew before, straight for the castle. Arrows were loosed at her, but she didn't get hit. When she came to the strong hold, she cracked her whip and said, ''DRACARYS! ''
Green flames erupted from Vhagar's mouth. The men on the battlements looked to her in horror as she bathed them in flame. Then the screams began. The stone began to melt and blacken, and the whole castle turned into a melting candle. She burned every tower she could find, every man, woman, or child.
''Mercy!'' They cried, she almost gave it to them, until her wound began to pain again.
Vhagar kept burning and burning and burning.
An arrow found itself into her shoulder, and that was when she knew her time was up. Arm crying in pain, she rose high until she was out of reach. When she looked down, Riverrun seemed as ugly as Harrenhal.
She kept rising and rising and rising. Her vision had gone cloudy, and she felt queerly sleepy as well. When she touched her wound, her hand came back red.
Below her wa Balerion. Laena bit her lip. If I'm going to die, I will take that fat bastard with me!
That was when she drove down.
Balerion was hovering over the wide water moat, staring at the burnt castle in astonishment. When they met, Viserys gasped in shock. With tooth and claw and nail, dragon fought against dragon. Vhagar scratched at Balerion's eye while he bit a chunk of her neck.
Laena looked at the water below her, before smiling.
Vhagar flew downwards at the crack of her whip, still biting Balerion.
Then they crashed, and the water that flew up after them was higher than Riverrun's tallest tower. She heard some cry out her name.
Vhagar still laid on top of Balerion, blood from the dragons turning the water red. He will die, the plate will drag him to the bottom. It was then she realized she was still strapped to her saddle.
Desperately, she tried to undo them. Her vision was getting cloudier and cloudier, and her fingers were clumsy. He arm ached, so it was hard to move it, but her stomach sent her hunching over.
Water filled her nose, she tried to raise Vhagar, but she didn't have the strength to pull her chains.
She let the water take her.
When she came to, she was laid out on a soft wool blanket outside the walls of the castle. Immediately she doubled over, hacking up water and bile and other filth. She was shivering until someone laid a warm coverlet over her.
Hand shaking, she wiped her eyes, only to see her mother before her, tears streaming down her porcelain face.
Her mother held her to her chest so tight that it hurt, but she dare not complain. Laena couldn't understand what she was saying since she was talking so fast, but it was part scolding and part thanking the gods she still lived.
When she let go, she saw Laenor and Joffrey next to her. Both had been crying. Her brother wrapped his arms around her.
''Don't ever scare me like that again.'' He muttered into her ear. Said the raven to the crow.
''You really gave us a fright there, Laena.'' Joff said, voice trembling. Ser Jason stood behind him, a fresh scar on his shoulder that wasn't there before.
''Uncle. . .'' she then began to cough.
''Where is uncle Aenys?'' Before they marched, he promised he would ride her dragon with her after the battle was won. Everyone shared uneasy looks.
''Tell me,'' she begged, her voice strained and weak. No, he can't be dead, I won't let him. She bit her lip.
It was Ser Jason who had the courage. ''Ser Aenys is wounded, my lady. Took a cut to the face. He. . . he will live, my lady. But. . . but,'' Mother cut him off.
''He will lose his right eye.'' Her voice was filled with sadness. Uncle Aenys, with one eye? She wanted to scream and cry. It wasn't fair.
''Who did it?'' She asked, Laenor's face twisted in a angry snarl.
''Some knight named Criston Cole. He fled like a craven when the battle was won however. Right into the woods like a rat.'' That brought something else to her mind.
''What happened to-''
''Fled. Balerion managed to rise out of the moat and flew away, Caraxes after him.'' Laena scowled, I should have killed him.
''You need rest, Laena.'' Of that she agreed.
And so she slept.