Chapter 1: The Spider's Plan
Varys stared in silence as the honorable and stubborn Lord Stark began to crumble under the weight of the implied threats he had given to him. While Varys himself would never harm the Stark girls, he knew that Cersei and Joffrey would not hesitate to do whatever they wished. They had already had Robert killed and arrested Stark for his supposed treason. It had taken him hours of convincing, but Cersei had allowed him this one opportunity to sway Lord Eddard towards convincing his son to stop waging war. However much as peace for now benefited the plans of the Spider, that was not the true reason he spoke with the Lord of Winterfell. He waited till right before Stark began to open his mouth before he spoke up, his voice light but serious,
"It's not as if you have never lied before, my Lord. You did successfully manage to lie to everyone about your sister's trueborn son."
Varys almost wished he could paint, just so he could capture the look of shock and fear that crossed Ned Stark's face. He held up his hand to stop him from speaking.
"I am the Master of Whispers, did you really think you could hide something like this, from someone like me? I learned long ago, at great personal cost, to never take a man or woman at their word, even if they are reputed to be honor personified. The moment you brought your sister's body and the babe home, I realized exactly what had happened between the Dragon Prince and your sister. It took only a short trip to the Citadel to find proof of their marriage. Before you ask why I have not told anyone this, and I haven't, it is because I believed that you would honor your sister's request and protect the boy. Which you did, until whatever madness overtook you when you all but threw him out of your home towards the Watch. I mean, honestly my Lord, did you even care about the boy? The capitol has more honor than the rapists and murderers who make up your nephew's new brothers."
Stark feebly tried to whisper out,
"The vows will protect him from Robert and the Lannisters. They can't touch him on the Wall."
It was Varys turn to stare in silence at the fool before him. His mouth opened and closed a few times before he began to speak in a low and dangerous voice,
"Do you really think words will stop a man like Tywin Lannister from doing what he wants? The second he learns of your nephew, he will send a hundred men to the Wall just to ensure they kill young Jaehaerys, or Jon if you'd like. The Wall won't protect him, it will simply keep him in one place, so that anyone that wishes to gain a King's reward can go and do whatever they wish to him. If this was your plan all along, it would have been kinder to just let the boy die in Dorne with his mother. However, I suppose it doesn't really matter, seeing as your nephew is already dead."
"The letter you gave to Lord Commander Mormont, the one Jon was supposed to receive after he had sworn his vows, so he could learn the truth of his mother and be unable to do anything about it, well he found it the night before. According to the little birds I have in Castle Black, he apparently threw himself off the top of the Wall after reading it. When I read the letter a few weeks ago, I could understand why. That letter was as cold as a Banker's report, not at all what one would suspect an Uncle would give to his beloved nephew."
Tears began to flow freely down Stark's face, and he sputtered out,
"But Benjen should have been there!"
"Your little brother was occupied that evening, though he was the one to find the body, at least what remained of it. It was a long fall. Now, I will leave you to your grief, my Lord, but a word of advice before I depart. When Joffrey asks you to confess, please choose your words carefully, else more innocent children might die because of them."
With that, the Spider left the Lord of Winterfell alone in the cells save for his sobs. As soon as the doors closed, he allowed himself a smile. Fooling Eddard Stark was almost as easy as breathing. The young Prince was of course alive and well, having been smuggled away from the Wall not even days after he had arrived to Castle Black, with his direwolf alongside him. All it had taken was a few letters to his Uncle Benjen, as well as one to his Targaryen uncle that served as a Maester there, and they had managed to break the news to him a gentle as possible. He then had his little birds escort the hidden Prince to Eastwatch, where a boat waited for its cargo. Before Ned Stark and Robert had even made it back to King's Landing, Jaehaerys Targaryen was safely hiding in Pentos. Soon enough he would be joined by the now former Baratheon Kingsguard, who was almost all too glad to serve House Targaryen once more. He hoped the two of them were enough to find the Prince's Aunt, and warn her of the traitor within her circle, as well as keep her safe from Robert's assassins. He hoped the proof of her elder brother's marriage he had given to Ser Barristan would help convince her. Either way, the remaining Targaryens were now safe and accounted for, with plans to reunite them already under way. Varys' patience had finally paid off, and his plans were working perfectly.
At least they were, but then before he was executed, Ned Stark decided to confess the truth of his supposed bastard to the people of King's Landing, thinking him dead and the secret no longer worth keeping. Now the whole world would soon know the truth.
Chapter 2: Revelation's Aftermath
The reactions to the truth behind Jon Snow around the world, and emotions run high.
Thank you all for the comments. Please enjoy.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
"Will you tell me more of my brother's son, Ser Jorah?"
"Khaleesi, I am sorry but there isn't much I can tell you. I only saw the boy once when he was but a child when Lynesse and I visited Winterfell."
Everyone was sitting together on the ship heading to Astapor. Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion were resting next to their mother and she was staring expectantly at the knight in front of her.
"Please, Ser Jorah."
"Why waste time on a dead man? He is dead, Khaleesi, either by his hand or someone else's."
Daenerys narrowed her eyes.
"What do you mean by someone else's hand? The rumors we heard at the docks in Qarth said he fell from the Wall. Do you mean to say he was pushed?"
"The rumors say that he jumped off the Wall, not fell. But I doubt those too. Men and women of the North are stronger than that. I just find it odd that right as Stark reveals the truth, the Lannisters announce the boy is already dead."
"It would seem that the Lannisters have killed another innocent member of my family."
"He would have been a year older than you, and well within his rights to claim your throne as his own."
Daenerys cut him off before he could continue,
"He would have been the only family I had left, but now I have none. Anything else matters little to me."
Everyone was silent as she looked away towards the window. After a few moments, Ser Jorah cleared his throat.
"The boy looked like a Stark, something that kept him alive no doubt, with dark hair and grey eyes. He was a quiet lad, always brooding in a corner, save for the training yard."
Daenerys looked back and leaned forward, her voice eager.
"Was he a good fighter? Viserys always said Rhaegar was the best fighter anyone had ever met."
Jorah frowned a bit, but continued on,
"He was still but a boy when I saw him and his brother learning to spar, both still wielding wood. It was obvious to any that knew how to wield a sword that he was understanding the lessons Ser Rodrik gave them faster than Lord Robb, but he always let his older brother beat him."
It was her turn to frown in confusion.
"But if he was better, why did he lose on purpose?"
The knight shrugged,
"Bastards are not supposed to be better than trueborn children, I suppose. With a southerner like Lady Stark, I reckon she made sure he knew that fairly quickly."
Dany leaned back, the frown on her face growing deeper.
"I still do not understand this concept of bastards, and the people's hatred of them. Surely they are not to blame, for after all, it was their parents that conceived them."
"Such is the way of Westeros, Khaleesi."
"Not when I am Queen. That will change."
With that, Daenerys walked away with her dragons following her to her cabin. As she prepared for bed, the three dragons curled around her. Before she fell asleep she whispered her nephew's name, trying to imagine his face.
She did not notice Rhaegal perk up at the sound of the name, and soon fell asleep. This time her shadowy lover found her again, but there were moments when she could see his grey eyes peering at her with love, and how his dark hair contrasted with her silver. For a brief moment she could also see a wolf with white fur and red eyes looking at them both.
After his brother destroyed yet another perfectly fine bottle of wine, Doran decided that he had had enough. It had been three days since the news of Stark's revelations, and the Lannister's response, had arrived at Sunspear, and it was chaos everywhere. The Prince of Dorne supposed it was chaos everywhere though. He waved his hand and Areo Hotah stepped forward, locking gazes with his younger fiery brother. In a low voice, Doran said,
"Enough Oberyn, I have already told you that I was aware of Rhaegar and Lyanna, and that our sister was part of their plans."
"How! How could she have agreed to such a thing! How could you!"
Doran pointed to a set of stone tiles in front of him.
"Because I had Rhaegar Targaryen on his knees, right there, in front of me, begging for my approval in this, with Elia standing beside him in support."
"And you still allowed this?"
"He was the Crown Prince of Westeros, all of Westeros. Besides, I could see it in his eyes, and Elia's, that he was going to court the Stark girl regardless. At least this way, we could get something out of it."
"What could he possibly give to you that would make it all worth it?"
Oberyn had stopped pacing by that time, and Doran relaxed a small bit. He was still a viper though, so he continued to speak softly.
"I had his word, and signature, that Aegon and Rhaenys would be well before any children of him and Lyanna in terms of succession. No matter what, Dornish blood would have reigned upon the Iron Throne."
"But the shame, the dishonor."
"To some, perhaps there would be. But look me in the eyes and tell me our sister would have been one of those people, shaming the boy. Tell me she would have hated him, would have scorned him for who he was. Go on, tell me that is what our sister would have done with the boy."
Oberyn glared at him, his hands in his hair, before he let out a long sigh and slapped them against the table. His voice was low and defeated, and Doran finally relaxed.
"She would have loved him like she would one of her own. Our sister always loved more with her heart than she ever thought with her mind."
"I agree. Now we must speak of our plans regarding the boy."
"What plans? He is dead, do you not remember?"
"Yes I remember what the Lannisters said. But isn't it a bit convenient that mere weeks after Ned Stark reveals the truth of his sister's son, that the Lannisters announce that he is already dead at the Wall? How exactly did they learn of this in such a fast amount of time?"
Oberyn's eyes narrowed, his mind beginning to work.
"You think the boy still lives? That someone faked his death?"
"My spies on the Wall said the body was unrecognizable, and there are plenty of former Loyalists serving in Castle Black. I also do not trust anything that comes from a Lannister, so I am not yet convinced the boy is dead."
"Where would he be then?"
"Perhaps hiding with his cousin, the King in the North? Robb Stark seems to believe that the Lannisters killed him as well as killing his father, and is using those claims to push for the North's succession. If he is with them, then he would be a powerful symbol to rally for, should they reveal he is alive. If he is not, then we still have more in common with the Starks than we thought."
"You think we should ally with this new King, and not wait out the war?"
"Who else? Stannis may have been a safer bet, but with all the Valyrian Houses around Dragonstone mourning for their Prince's son, he no longer controls as large of an army as he could. They will not fight for the brother of the man who killed Rhaegar simply because he was jealous. Renly is a child, and has allied himself with the Tyrells, but is one defeat away from crumpling. Robb Stark has purpose and a cause to fight for."
"How would we reach out to them?"
"I would ask you to do so, but carefully. We cannot let King's Landing know of our plans, at least not yet. Officially, I will have to banish you from Dorne, due to your outburst these past few days. To the rest of Westeros, you will be going without my blessing to take a chance at vengeance for Elia with the Stark forces. You will secretly go with my blessing, and should Jaehaerys live, or if Robb is a good ally to have in the wars to come, then you will let me know."
Oberyn smiled, the Red Viper coming to life.
"Where is Robb Stark and his forces?"
Doran smiled in return,
"Currently on their way to Riverrun, if my reports are correct."
"How ironic. Ellaria and my daughters were just speaking of wishing to see the Riverlands."
The new King in the North sat in numb silence as his bannermen around him continued to argue. His brother, his best friend, was dead, murdered no doubt by the same family that killed their father. A booming voice from his left brought him out of his misery.
"How could Ned have been so stupid? Any one of us would have helped him protect Lyanna's son."
Near all the men and woman nodded or raised their mugs in agreement. The only one who didn't was his mother, who still wore that frown on her face whenever Jon was mentioned.
"If he had told you, you would have been committing treason against the Iron Throne. Robert would have sent an army to the North."
"His southern army would have broken to pieces at the Neck, no matter how much gold Tywin Lannister threw at it. Hell, barely any of us believed Robert's claims of what Rhaegar was doing. We all knew the she-wolf, there was no way she would have let herself be taken. Hell, if that silver haired dragon made her happy, I would have been glad to support them."
"My good sister was betrothed to Robert, it was her duty to marry him. She forsook that, got her father and Brandon killed, and now her bastard has gotten my husband killed."
The room grew silent as Robb watched as most of the Northerners stared at his mother. It was Roose Bolton who spoke up, his voice showing the barest hint of emotion, something that shocked him.
"It is interesting you still call him a bastard, seeing as it is your septons and your faith that have proclaimed the wedding and child between the Lady Lyanna and Rhaegar to be legitimate, even with the Lannisters breathing down their necks."
His mother looked like she was about to reply, so Robb held up a hand.
"My Lords, I would speak with my mother alone for a moment."
One by one they all filed out of the tent, and Robb did not miss the looks they shot towards the Lady of Winterfell. When they all left she turned to Robb and said urgently,
"You must not let them keep saying these dangerous words, Robb. It is treason!"
Robb laughed bitterly,
"You think their words are treason? I intend to march on King's Landing and kill every Lannister that takes up arms against us. Then I intend to take those that have surrendered with me and I will make them watch from a distance as I burn Casterly Rock to the ground! That is what I will do to them for killing my father and brother."
"He is not your ..."
"Jon is my brother! I grew up with him, played with him, learned with him, and was raised with him! In every way that matters he is my brother, no matter what you say or think! By the Old Gods, you still hate him don't you?"
"I have never ..."
"Do you think I am blind mother? That I couldn't see or hear about the way you treated him? Jon was a terrible liar, and I could tell every time he defended you, no matter what you did. It is no wonder Father could never trust you with the truth, I certainly wouldn't."
His mother stared in shocked silence, and Robb leaned forward, his voice low.
"Answer me this question honestly mother. If you had known, if Father had told you, what would you have done? Would you have protected him, your nephew? Or would you have blamed him and sold him out to Tywin Lannister?"
A single second of hesitation on Catelyn Stark's face was all it took. Robb knocked his chair over as he stood up and stormed out of the tent, ignoring his mother's words. He walked until he found Ser Rodrik in the middle of some tents. He called out to him, letting the small crowd around him hear his words,
"Ser Rodrik. I am ordering you to escort my mother back to Winterfell, where she is to remain until the end of this war. When my brother's remains arrive from the Wall, I am commanding you to find a stone mason to fashion his likeness. He is to be buried next to his mother, and as King in the North I decree that upon his plaque shall be written Jon Stark and Jaehaerys Targaryen, Prince of Westeros. If anyone, of any rank, should try to interfere with this, you are hereby ordered to immediately throw them into the dungeons, where they will remain until I return to Winterfell. Am I clear?"
Nobody said a word as the Master of Arms led his mother away towards her tent. Not even when Greywind trotted over to him, and he knelt in the mud to scratch behind the direwolf's ears. As he stared into the beast's eyes, Robb whispered in a quiet voice,
"You howled when Bran fell, and when he woke up. You howled when Lady died, as well as when Father died. Why did you not howl for Jon? You seem to know when the pack is hurt, why did you not howl for Jon then?"
As he crouched there, Robb's mind began to wander, and he began to wonder if when he made it back home, Greywind would be able to smell Ghost on his brother's body, or if he would smell a stranger.
Up next is Jon, and we get to see what he's been up to since his whole world was turned upside down.
"You'll not find much of your Prince in me, Ser. All he seems to have given me was a name and legacy I want no part of."
Chapter 3: Chaos and Purpose
A Kingsguard struggles with his new purpose and duty, a Spider sets a trap, and a Prince and Princess finally meet.
Just to let you all know, there are going to be some time skips and jumps throughout this story. Not every POV is going to be happening at the exact same time in the timeline.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
"He looks just like him."
Barristan raised an eye at the remark of the woman next to him. Both were standing on the top deck of the ship, watching as the young Prince helped the sailors with their daily routine.
"I can see Rhaegar in his build, and some of his facial features, but he is more similar to his sire in his character and attitude than his looks, my lady."
The lady glanced over and softly said,
"I meant Ned. He looks like Ned. When I told him that, he didn't seem to like it though."
"The Prince seems to be in a mood of not liking nearly anything that has to do with his uncle, or his father really. You should have seen him when I arrived in Pentos. He had spent the last month alone in his room, barely eating or sleeping. The Magister said that there were Unsullied that had more emotion than him. The only time I saw him act with any emotion was in the training yard, and even then it was only blind rage that came forth. I do not know what I would have done had you not arrived, Lady Ashara."
"Septa Lenore, Ser Barristan. While you and the Prince know my name, it is not wise to let others know that my death was faked."
Barristan nodded once, his mind going back to the day Ashara found them in Volantis. He and Jae had traveled there on horse and by boat, training along the way, but seemed to have no true purpose. Then as they rested in Volantis, a Septa of all people showed up in the tavern they were staying in and revealed herself to be sent by Illyrio. It only took a few seconds for Ser Barristan to recognize her as the Lady Ashara Dayne, and Jaehaerys also recognized her. Her story had been full of intrigue and hope and heartbreak. To think that Rhaegar's other son Aegon had survived the Sack, and was being raised by her and Jon Connington, only to die from greyscale when they docked in Valyria for too long. According to Ashara, Aegon had heard rumors of Blackfyre being buried somewhere along the coast of the peninsula, and had demanded that the ship go to find it. Connington could never say no to him, and off they went. The last thing they saw of Aegon Targaryen and Jon Connington was when a large group of stonemen had rushed them from the trees by the beach. The sailors on the Shy Maid had been too craven to stay and let the two back on board, and they pushed off, sailing away to the sound of their last screams.
"It is true that reading his half-brother's journal seems to have reignited a flame in the young man," Ashara said, "Though I also suspect that he simply needed a shoulder to cry on. I do believe that having a purpose once more would truly bring the Prince back to life, so to speak."
"He has been studying with Haldyn, training with myself, and learning courtly intrigue and of the Seven from you as well. His day is near full of purpose."
It was true, for the past few months the Prince's life had been full of training. In the morning he would wake up early and spar with Ser Barristan, than go to lessons with Haldyn till the afternoon. He had a small amount of free time, which he usually used to read or spar, and then would go into lessons with Ashara. His eyes seemed to hold that spark of curiosity that Rhaegar always had, and Barristan believed him to be whole once more. As Ashara frowned and shook her head, he began to doubt himself.
"He is simply busy, not better. It's not like he can do anything else while we are all stuck on this ship. Have you asked him what he wants, or why he is doing what he is doing?"
It was Barristan's turn to frown.
"He is Rhaegar's heir, and we are preparing him to take the Throne. Once we we find Princess Daenerys and Illyrio secures the Golden Company, we are to return to Westeros so he can take his rightful place."
Ashara put her hand on his, waiting until he looked her in the eyes.
"His true name is Jaehaerys, but he still thinks of himself as Jon Snow. He has told me you have never once called him that, not even in your months of travel together. Do you even know if he wants the Iron Throne or anything to do with it?"
"But it is his duty, and ours to see House Targaryen ..."
"What would Rhaegar and Rhaella want of their children? Do you think they would truly want them to be bound by that chair of melted swords, to be buried alive under the weight of the game? Or do you think they would want their son and daughter to be free of that weight, to live happy and normal lives. I do not know the answer for either Jon or Daenerys, but I think we owe it to them to ask it. Even if the answer is not what we want to hear. It is their choice."
With that Ashara walked away, leaving Ser Barristan alone with his thoughts. He turned back to look once more at his charge, at Rhaegar's last living son. Standing amongst the sailors, one could almost see him as simply one of them, just another commoner. But there were moments when he would stand tall above them, if only for a brief second, before Barristan could see the weight of it push him back down. Did he have any right to put even more weight upon the young boy's shoulders? Was the burden of trying to pick up the shattered remains of his entire existence more than enough?
It was one of the most difficult trials in Varys' life to not roll his eyes everytime Petyr Baelish opened his mouth. The young Lord seemed to believe himself to be the master of chaos, but he barely even knew the meaning of the word. Littlefinger only knew the chaos that came from the neglect of apathetic rulers, while Varys learned his craft from the chaos only a madman could create. Still, the entertainment he found in finding and foiling Baelish's plans was a pleasant distraction from having to serve a drunken whoremonging kinslayer and child murderer, but he had decided the games had to end. Baelish had to die, and he knew just the way.
He had planned on letting him live, to see if he could use his abilities to help the Prince, but then Ned Stark happened. Varys had been shocked when Stark had continued to reveal his deception against the Baratheon regime, and had worked tirelessly to prove that the boy was dead. Of course, he was nothing if not adaptable, and soon managed to spin that chaos to his advantage. He had made sure that it was implied that the Lannisters had murdered the boy, thus gaining them even more enemies throughout the Seven Kingdoms. A little blackmail to the High Septons had convinced the man to hold true to the truth, and like a flock of sheep, the rest of the septons followed him. Varys' timeline however had changed rapidly, and now he needed to remove certain key players from the board before bringing his King home, and Baelish was first.
As he watched him ride away in his carriage with its destination being the Stark encampment in Riverrun, Varys allowed himself a small smile from the ramparts. Lying to Baelish and making him believe that Catelyn Stark was still with her firstborn had been easy, and just as he predicted, Baelish had volunteered to deliver the bones of Ned Stark to the grieving widow. Of course, she was well past Moat Cailin now, but Baelish wouldn't learn of that until it was too late. Varys had already sent one of his little birds to the new King in the North, and the song they would sing to him would spell Petyr Baelish's death in the Northern Camp. It had taken some time, but he had finally found proof. Everyone on the Small Council, Joffrey included, had agreed to send Ned Stark to the Wall. Yet, the same night Varys had visited the Lord of Winterfell before the trial, Petyr Baelish had visited Joffrey, and that was what killed the man. Varys had also mentioned, all anonymously of course, other suspicions that he had always had of Littlefinger, such as the true ownership of the dagger that almost took Brandon Stark's life, and the possibility that young Petyr had had a hand in the other Brandon's demise. Only some held absolute proof, but all together it was enough to damn the man in any court. The second Baelish arrived he would be pulled from his horse and executed.
As the Spider walked away, he began to think of other plans he had begun to weave throughout Westeros. With Baelish soon to be out of the picture, he could move on the Vale, and hopefully bring them into the fold. A few letters to some of the other Lords and Ladies, apart from Lady Arryn, about the matter of Jon Arryn's death and the health of his son would be enough hopefully. Stannis and Renly were another problem, though minor. Stannis had lost nearly three quarters of the men sworn to him, all denying their fealty to the brother of the man that killed their Prince. Varys had worried that the Loyalist Houses would take convincing to aid House Targaryen once more, but their loyalties ran deeper than he suspected. They couldn't do much, but what little they did do had doomed the unbreakable Stannis Baratheon. He sailed now for Storm's End with only a few thousand men, intent on laying siege and attacking his brother. They would no doubt tear each other apart, but even if that didn't happen, Varys had men inside both camps with orders to ensure the two brothers did not survive the battlefield.
His next set of problems were based in Essos, and they required his full attention. When Varys had found out what his old friend had done, trying to pass of his own son as the Crown Prince Aegon, he had been furious. When the Sack occured, Varys had tried to save the children of Elia Martell, but was unable to do so. How Illyrio had planned to fool him with Sera's son, he had no idea, but it was something he would not abide. All it had taken was a few well placed rumors, and the young boy had rushed off to his doom in Valyria, with loyal Connington close behind. Now he hoped that the Magister would make good on his promise to bring the Golden Company to Prince Jaehaerys' side, else he would have to kill his old friend. His most pressing problem, larger than that of Ned Stark's reveal, was that of the dragons that Princess Daenerys had hatched.
Varys had never been for selling the young girl to the Dothraki, but Illyrio and Viserys had made their moves before he could. A part of him had wanted to seperate the two and bring the Princess to Westeros, where he could cultivate an alliance that would help the true heir. When he had sent young Jaehaerys off to bring his Aunt home, he had planned on setting up seperate betrothals for the two of them. The spears of Dorne and the food from the Reach had been his main goals. But now with the dragons, everything had changed. The two Targaryens had to marry to continue the purity of their bloodline in order to keep control over the magical beasts. Any other benefit to any other alliance was now rendered second in comparison. He supposed it would also serve as a way to put even more weight behind the Prince's legitimacy. Now he hoped that the two would find each other in time. Varys knew that with the majority of the public believing that the Prince was dead, focus would turn to the rumors of the remaining Targaryen in the East. Many eager and greedy suitors would travel across the Narrow Sea to seek her hand, and Varys had to be ready to stop all of them.
The sword in his hands had not seen battle in years, and was even buried for even longer, and yet still it looked as sharp and new as ever. So many brave and noble warriors had wielded Dark Sister, and now it was his. When his new found Uncle had shuffled into his room the night before Jon was to leave for Eastwatch, carrying the long wrapped bundle, Jon wasn't sure what to expect. The weight of everything that Uncle Benjen and Aemon had told him had yet to truly sink in, so he had simply and numbly accepted the Valyrian Steel sword from the Maester. He had taken to regularly cleaning and sharpening it every night, though it needed no such attention. Still, it was a calming pastime, and it let him think over how everything in his life had been destroyed and torn apart.
Before he could settle in to another episode of brooding at the wall of the ship he was on, there was a short knock at his door. After admitting entrance, Jon looked up to see Ser Barristan Selmy there standing awkwardly in front of him. The Kingsguard seemed to be content to stare at him for a moment, so Jon looked away and muttered,
"You will not find your Prince in me, no matter how hard you look. It would seem he left nothing behind for me save for a name and legacy I want no part of."
"You look far more like your mother, but there are traces of your sire as well. They are easier to see with your clean shaven face, and shorter hair."
"Then I should probably stay away from a razor from now on."
As Jon and Ghost realized to their great discomfort, Essos was of a much different climate than that of the North. Jon was not going to part with his direwolf companion, the only thing he had left of the North, so it was with a heavy heart that he had to help trim the fur off of Ghost's coat, giving him a much more lean look. When the servant had picked up a new set of razors meant for him, he had wanted to fight back and not change his hair or the beard he had managed to grow while being smuggled away. It had taken but one look from Ghost, who had sat still during his terrible torture of a bath and shave, that changed his mind. His hair would grow back. Ghost's had begun to do so, and he was currently resting on his furs next to Jon's bed.
Ser Barristan frowned for a moment, but shook his head and continued to speak,
"It has come to my attention that I have not been addressing you properly. I have been made aware that you would prefer to be called Jon, and I will endeavor to call you as such, until you chose differently, if that day ever comes."
Jon raised his eyebrows at the knight's remark. For the past few months, the old knight would not stop calling him Jaehaerys, even when they were in private. Everytime he said that name it was like a reminder of how many lies that had made up his life.
"Will you stop calling me Prince as well?"
"My apologies, but I will not. You are a Prince, but you are also Jon."
Jon nodded in agreement, grateful for the small victories. He turned to continue tending to Dark Sister when he noticed Ser Barristan was still standing there, looking at him.
"Was there anything else you needed Ser Barristan?"
At that the knight turned and shut the door, before taking a seat at Jon's desk. He appeared to struggle with saying something for a brief moment, before he sighed and began to speak.
"It is fairly obvious to me and the others on this ship that you are still hurting from everything that has happened. As your Kingsguard, I am duty bound to protect you and keep your confidences, whatever they may be. Should you wish it, I can provide my council to the best of my abilities, or simply lend my ear to whatever you need to speak of."
"Where do I even start? A few months ago, I had brothers and sisters, and a father who loved me. Only now, my father is my Uncle, and he lied to me all my life, even if it was to keep me safe. Bran may never walk again, Rickon is alone in Winterfell, Sansa is held captive in King's Landing, Arya is missing somewhere, and Robb is fighting a war in my name. And what am I doing? Sitting on this boat, learning lessons about a faith I don't follow, and hearing about Houses and customs of places in Westeros I have never been to and will probably never see because I can't go home ever again. All because my Uncle had to open his mouth to unburden himself of the truth to a bunch of strangers, while all I got was a fucking letter that was cold and impersonal. The sailors from Westeros said he had tears in his eyes as he told the people of what he had done for his sister, but did I get any of those tears?"
By the time he was finished Jon had begun to pace around the room, and he had ended his rant with a hard punch to the wall. He stared at his bloody knuckles for a moment before sinking back to the side of his bed. Ghost padded over and began to lick his hand.
"Regardless of how I feel about all of this, there are more pressing matters at hand, namely the safety of my Aunt. I had many people who did care about me, my Uncle included, but she had none. Now she is alone, with only a cowardly slaver for company."
"What are you plans regarding Ser Jorah?"
"The man is guilty of the crimes of slavery, and that is punishable by death. He should have been executed by my Uncle, but he fled instead of facing justice. He has also been spying on my Aunt, comprising her safety, and is responsible for at least one assassination attempt on her, while she was with child. I will give him no leniency or mercy, for he deserves none."
Ser Barristan gave a short but approving nod at that. They had both gone over the letters Varys had given them, shocked to find the proof of the traitor in his Aunt's midst. The older knight looked over at him and asked,
"What are your plans in regards to the Princess?"
"Our uncle gave me a set of letters that he had written for her. I intend to give those to Daenerys. That is my plan."
"I understand if you are feeling uneasy at the blood you may share but there have been ..."
"She being my Aunt is not the reason I am refusing to marry or court her for now. My mother was never given a choice in who she had to marry, and neither was Daenerys. I will not take away her choice. She will marry who she wishes to marry, regardless of the politics."
Ser Barristan had a look of respect and approval. He stood from the desk and made his way to the door. Before he left he turned and said,
"If that is your decision, than I shall respect it, and do my best to protect the both of you."
The rest of the journey passed by uneventfully. Jon continued to train with Ser Barristan, while learning his studies from the half maester and the Lady Ashara. His hair had begun to reach the length it was before, but he kept it pulled back. Finally they docked in Astapor, and began to search for his Aunt. One of the mornings found him and Ser Barristan walking up the docks when they saw in the distance a flash of silver hair. He could see a man of northern descent standing far too close to her, but could not make out the features of either of their faces. Suddenly Barristan motioned for him.
"Someone else is watching the Princess. Stay behind me, my Prince."
Jon began to creep closer, using the crowd to blend in, as well as the added security of his hood. Ghost began to weave in and around the legs of those who didn't seem to notice the dog looking creature, living up to his namesake. He saw Daenerys kneel down to accept a toy from a child, and began to run towards her when the sphere unleashed some sort of creature. Ser Barristan moved towards the thing, and Jon launched himself towards his Aunt. He collided with her and knocked her to the ground away from the creature, but she was quick to push away and scramble onto all fours. At once the two looked up and locked gazes with each other, and Jon was struck breathless. He barely saw Ghost and Ser Barristan throwing Ser Jorah to the ground, blade and teeth at his neck. All of his attention was on the young woman with silver hair and violet eyes in front of him, the most beautiful person he had ever seen. For some reason she seemed to be equally star struck, breathing out,
"I suppose the best way to prove this would be to introduce me to your dragons. They would be able to sense our shared blood, and unlike honorable men, they can't lie."
Chapter 4: Zaldrizes Buzdari Iksos Daor
The Dragons finally meet in Astapor, and they discuss families, loyalties, and lies. A traitor to House Targaryen is revealed, and justice is dealt. Jon and Daenerys fight over the next step towards going home.
Here is the next chapter! I hope you all enjoy!"
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
She knew it had to be awkward, but Daenerys could not stop staring at her nephew. They were all back on board a ship in the harbor, for security, though Jorah grumbled the whole way. She supposed he was a bit sore when the legendary Ser Barristan and an actual direwolf had landed on him. They were able to kill the would be assassin from Qarth, so she hoped her old bear would let it be. She continued to look at her nephew, seeing his dark hair and grey eyes in the flesh, instead of in the dreams she had been having ever since leaving Qarth. He was seemingly enraptured by the dragons sitting around her, and it would appear her emerald dragon, Rhaegal, was equally focused upon her kin as well. The direwolf, a beautiful albino named Ghost, was keeping a healthy distance away from Drogon, but Viserion was trying to make his way over to the furry companion every now and then. The direwolf seemed to like her, and absolutely liked how many pets and belly rubs she gave him when they were first introduced. It was Jorah's voice, which for some reason held a unfamiliar tone to it, that brought her from her musings upon Ghost.
"How exactly are you here? I thought you swore the vows of the Night's Watch and then killed yourself, or were killed by the Lannisters?"
"I was approached by my Uncle Benjen and Aemon only a few days after I arrived at Castle Black. After they told me the truth, I made my way to Eastwatch with Uncle Benjen as he was going on ranging beyond the Wall, and then was picked up by a boat in the harbor. I never swore my vows and obviously I was never killed."
"Then where have you been?"
It was jealousy, and an undertone of fear that Daenerys recognized. Why Jorah was acting like this, Daenerys didn't know for sure, but did not like it.
"After recovering in Pentos for a few weeks, Ser Barristan arrived and we have been making our way here to you, Daenerys, ever since then."
She held up her hand to stop Jorah from speaking out again, this time her curiosity was peaked.
"And how exactly did you know where to find us nephew?"
"There is a man named Varys inside King Robert's inner circle. He serves as his spymaster, but in truth he has always been a loyal ally of House Targaryen. He is the one who knew who I was and took me away to Pentos and brought Ser Barristan to me."
"I know who the Spider is. He was the one in charge of sending assassins to kill my brother and I. How can you trust him?"
Instead of her nephew Jon responding, it was the woman in the background.
"It is true that Lord Varys was ordered by Robert to find and kill you, but he has done his best to stop those assassins. What attempts he could not stop outright, he has managed to hinder so that you had time to escape. He also made sure that you were reunited with your only remaining family, Princess."
"You cannot trust them, Khaleesi, nor can you trust the spymaster. These are Lannister agents sent to kill you!" Jorah exclaimed suddenly.
Her nephew scoffed before turning his gaze upon the northern knight. The look in his eyes was dark as he growled out,
"That is rich coming from you, Mormont. I personally would trust the word of a spymaster any day before I would even think of trusting anything you say."
"How dare you speak to me in such a way!"
Jorah stepped forward in anger to find the blade of Ser Barristan at his throat.
"If you take one more step, I will open your throat in this very room. Lord Varys has informed us of your treachery against the Princess."
A short burst of panic clouded over Jorah's face for a moment, one that Daenerys saw. A feeling of dread and unease spread throughout her body as she looked at her nephew in confusion. He had a sad look to his eyes as he handed her an old scroll while saying,
"He has been spying on you and your brother since your wedding for Robert and the Lannisters."
Numbly, Daenerys unfurled the scroll and began to read it, the whole room disappearing apart from the words on the parchment.
I write to you to inform you of grave news in Essos. Viserys Targaryen is dead, slain by Khal Drogo due to his attempt on his sister's life. She is with child, and the Dothraki believe it to be a boy, and have been near worshiping her and the child in her womb. She appears to be gathering a large amount of sway over her husband due to this child, and I fear the results. It would appear that my earlier letters saying that Viserys was never a threat were true, but now I truly believe that she will be able to convince her husband to look towards Westeros for the sake of their child. A potential invasion is now much more likely to happen.
Your ever loyal servant,
Ser Jorah Mormont
Rightful Lord of Bear Island
It felt like her ears were ringing and the ship they were on was caught in a maelstrom. Bile rose in her throat as she pushed away from the desk, away from everyone. Jorah, had betrayed her? He had been the one to give her books from her homeland, the only one who had comforted her in the early days of her marriage, the only one who had been with her since the beginning. How could he have done such a thing? A sudden realization hit her like Robert's hammer had hit her brother. She looked over at him and hissed out,
"The wine merchant in Vaes Dothrak. You knew about it because you sent that letter. You knew the Usurper would send someone to kill Rhaego and I."
Jorah began to shake his head, begging and pleading for her to listen to him, but she didn't hear any of it. All she saw was the look on his face, the same look the wine merchant had when he was confronted. Pure guilt. She looked over to her nephew and Ser Barristan. Her voice caught in her throat, but she continued on.
"Take the traitor outside and remove his lying head from his shoulders and dump the corpse in the harbor."
She attempted to block out Jorah's cries for mercy, but failed. Instead she began to run through the ship, looking for a place to just hide. She found a larger cabin with a bed and desk and collapsed into it, sobbing tears of grief. A short while later she could hear the clattering of paws coming near, and then a warm tongue began to lick her tear streaked face. She opened her eyes to see Ghost sitting there in front of her, a low whine coming from his throat. Without hesitation she wrapped her arms around the direwolf, and continued to cry. Finally there was a soft knock on the door, and Daenerys looked up to see the woman from before waiting there. Her hair was dark, and her eyes purple.
"Are you my nephew's mother come back from the dead as well?"
The woman smiled and sat next to her, giving her a deep hug.
"No my dear, though many people believed me to be. My name is Ashara Dayne, though most people here call me Septa Lenore."
"Dayne? As in the Sword of the Morning?"
Ashara chuckled at that,
"That would have been my brother Arthur. I was a handmaiden to Princess Elia, and I knew your mother. You look so much like her."
"I never knew her. She died giving birth to me."
"She would have been very proud of you, as am I. Did you know for a time there was a plan for me to raise you as my daughter?"
Daenerys looked up in shock. Ashara nodded once.
"It was near the end of the war. Lord Stark had already taken Jon up North with him, though I offered to raise him as well. I had sent letters to Dragonstone with offers to raise you in secret at Starfall, but then the storm happened and you were whisked away with Viserys. You would have loved Starfall and the Torrentine. Perhaps when we go home I will show you."
"I would like to see your home, or any part of Westeros for that matter. I take it there is a plan to go home then?"
Ashara stood up and nodded,
"Yes there is. In fact, how about we let Jon into his room and he can tell you all about it."
With that Ashara opened the cabin door to reveal Jon standing outside, about to knock. Lady Ashara smiled and nodded at her nephew, before ushering him in and leaving the cabin, though she left the door open. For a moment there was an awkward silence between the two, and Daenerys realized she was sitting on his bed. He simply sat at his desk instead. After a few moments, Jon spoke up,
"Your green dragon seems to be very interested in me."
"Rhaegal, I named him for my brother, your father. He must have sensed your Targaryen blood."
Jon nodded at that and ran his fingers through his hair.
"I suppose the dragons would be able to do that, and confirm all this."
"You don't believe you are my nephew?"
"I don't really know what to believe in anymore. My whole life I believed I was the bastard of Ned Stark, and that all I would ever amount to was a ranger on the Wall. I never really was able to think of anything else, apart from finding out who my mother was. But when I finally gain the knowledge of my mother, I lose the rest of my family, because my Uncle lied to me. It's a little hard to trust people right now, but I guess the dragons can't lie, right?"
"I doubt they would have reason to lie. I know you may not be glad about this, but I am glad that another member of my family is alive, and that we have met."
Jon looked up and reached out to grab her hand, and he squeezed it reassuringly.
"I would have still come for you even if we weren't related and this was all some misunderstanding."
Daenerys blinked for a few moments, feeling a few tears coming up. She pushed them to the side and looked back at her nephew.
"Thank you, Jon. Or do you prefer Jaehaerys?"
She noticed him grimace for a brief second before he answered.
"I'd like it if you called me Jon, it's going to take some time for me to get used to Jaehaerys."
She nodded at that. After a few moments, Daenerys asked in a quiet voice,
"Did he suffer?"
Jon looked at her in confusion for a moment before understanding dawned on his face and he shook his head.
"I took his head myself on the top deck. It was a clean cut, far better than he deserved."
"I would have given him Bear Island if he had just stayed loyal, or let him go wherever he wanted in Westeros."
"He lost any rights to any land in Westeros the moment he sold those people into slavery, and any Lord would be duty bound to take him up North where he would have been executed by my Uncle, or my brother. Now, if everything is done here in Astapor, we can leave in a few days."
It was Daenerys' turn to frown and shake her head.
"I have business here that will take longer than a few days, and I will not leave until it is concluded."
Almost a week later Jon found himself outside his Aunt's cabin door, hesitating to knock. He gathered the courage to do so and almost immediately the door opened and he found himself at a loss for words. Daenerys was in a similar situation, and before he could speak up, she quickly pushed the door open a bit more and let him inside, shutting it behind her and leaving Ser Barristan outside. Jon took a seat at her desk, wringing his hands together and running them through his hair, not exactly knowing how to start. After a minute the two said almost at the same time,
"I'm sorry for ..."
They stopped and Jon took the opportunity to continue speaking,
"I'm sorry for assuming that you knew the truth about the Rebellion, and that you learned of it in such a manner from me."
"And I am sorry for not speaking to you for this past week. I should not have kept believing what Viserys said when I learned I could no longer trust him. Ser Barristan and Lady Ashara were quick to assure me that your story was the truth, and I should have believed you from the beginning."
"I don't expect you to just up and trust me right away, Daenerys, even if we are family. We have both had trusted family members lie to us recently."
He felt her hands grab his, and was drawn to her violet eyes.
"Then let us swear to each other to tell no lies to the other. No matter how painful, or how much it may complicate things, we always tell the truth, no matter what."
"I wouldn't have it any other way."
He watched for a few minutes as Daenerys broke away to bend down and start petting Drogon through his cage. It still amazed him that she had practically given birth to three dragons, and was currently treating them like he treated Ghost. The exchange reminded him of what he had also come to her cabin to speak about.
"I still do not understand why you are still so determined to purchase the Unsullied, and especially at the price of Drogon. We have the Golden Company waiting for us in Volantis, and I have sent a letter to Robb. He will soon learn the truth and will be waiting for the both of us. We will already have two great armies, what need do we have of eight thousand more soldiers?"
Daenerys was quiet for a long time, before she said in a soft, but strong voice.
"Because of eight thousand dead babies, and eight thousand dead dogs."
"The day we met, last week, Ser Jorah and I had just left a meeting with one of the Masters of the Unsullied. He told us that as part of their training, they are to raise a puppy, and then kill it with their hands. And as their final test, they are to go into the city and take a babe from its mother and kill the child in front of her. After which they are to pay the mother a coin for her master and the property they just killed. That is what the Good Masters of Astapor do with their Unsullied. I cannot let them continue this practice."
"But how does giving them a dragon stop them? They'll just enslave it and make it into a monster, or worse."
It was at that moment that Daenerys sighed and turned to look at him before speaking in a clear voice,
"Zaldrizes buzdari iksos daor. A dragon is not a slave."
"You speak High Valyrian? But you said you couldn't, and you needed a translator."
"I only said that to let the Good Masters speak freely amongst us. I knew exactly what they were saying, and exactly what I needed to do what I intend to do."
The fire in her eyes near burned through his, but he kept staring, his smile growing as she answered.
"I fully intend to leave Astapor with eight thousand Unsullied, all three of my dragons, and with the knowledge that the Good Masters of this city will never be able to practice the vile practice of slavery ever again. That is what I intend to do, dear nephew. Are you with me?"
"Always, Daenerys. We do this together."
If you liked it, please let me know. Also, I am approaching a fork in the road in the next couple of chapters, and would like your opinion on the matter. Do the two Dragons follow (for the most part) Daenerys' canon Essos storyline OR do we go completely off the map and venture into extreme canon divergence? Let me know in the comments below!
"If you speak to her like that one more time, Mero, I promise you that my face will be the last thing you see."
Chapter 5: As Good as Gold
Decisions are made, lies are revealed, and alliegances change.
As usual, the knight of the Kingsguard rose a little after dawn to begin the day. He made his way towards the Prince's, Jon's, tent and nodded at the Unsullied standing there before stepping inside. The insides of the tent was simple in design, with Jon lying unnaturally still on top of the bed. His direwolf however, immediately perked up and looked at Ser Barristan, who paused as he stared back at the large creature. It was an interesting experience, to be in the presence of two mythical types of creatures thought to be long extinct. He began to nudge Jon's shoulder, before looking up to see his eyes were of a milky white color. When this had happened on the road to Volantis, Barristan had nearly fainted from shock. Now however, all he did was look back at Ghost and quietly say,
"Your Grace, it is time for our morning spar."
With a start, Jon's eyes returned to the dark grey, and he sat up with a gasp. He nodded once before quickly getting dressed and walking out of the tent, with Ser Barristan close behind. Ghost began to trot along next to them, until Jon nudged at his shoulder and the direwolf made his way through the tents, to his second bed with the Princess. The Prince and the Kingsguard did not speak as they traveled through the uniform tents of the Unsullied until they reached the edge and made their way to where they trained. In front of them was the city of Yunkai, and to their left was the still waters of Slaver's Bay. The Prince looked westward for a few moments, before turning to face Ser Barristan, and drawing his tourney sword. He did the same, and they began the day as they had since leaving Pentos. He could understand why many people would consider the young Prince to be the son of Ashara Dayne, especially if they saw him with a blade. He had the same knack with the sword as Arthur and even Jaime had, but had done little to develop it. Rhaegar had to learn the sword, but his son could almost be considered a natural, and would have been wasted upon the Wall. No one there, or even anywhere in the North, would have been a challenge for the young Prince, and his talents would have been wasted. A short while after they began their spar, the two were joined by Asher Forrester, who they had found on the road escorting an Archmaester by the name of Marwyn who was actually looking for Daenerys. Being from the North, Asher and the Prince had struck up a friendship in the past few weeks.
Soon enough, their sparring session ended, and the three sat down upon the rocks to grab a drink from their water skins. After a few moments, Asher asked,
"So Jon, is the Princess still mad at you?"
"No, we're talking again. We both were able to make the other understand where the other was coming from, and I agree with her. While I do want to make it back to Westeros as soon as possible, I do not want to travel on boats given to us by slavers, and therefore benefit them. She also agrees that now is the best time to make our way home, and we are trying to figure out a way to do so, before we get stuck here in Essos."
"Do you have any plans to do that?"
"A few. In the meantime, could you do a sweep through the camp? We are meeting with the Second Sons this afternoon, and I want to make sure they aren't going to try and ambush us or our men during the negotiations."
Asher nodded and walked off, leaving Ser Barristan alone with the Prince, who appeared to be deep in thought. A few minutes passed before he opened his mouth,
"Are we risking too much, taking this moral high ground? Razdal mo Eraz has offered us plenty of ships to return home, where my brother is fighting a battle in our name. I do not truly wish to accept any gift from a slaver, but if we don't make it back to Westeros in time to help Robb, I would never forgive myself either."
"May I speak honestly, your Grace?"
"Always." Jon replied without hesitation.
"Could you forgive yourself if your actions caused slavers to benefit and slaves to suffer? I admire the Unsullied's bravery in battle, but returning to the Seven Kingdoms with the Golden Company alone will be the cause of many issues, let alone along with a newly freed slave army. Joining forces with your cousin's armies would probably be the best option, in terms of the opinions of the public, but."
"If we show up empty handed to Westeros, and rely only on the armies of others, who will take us seriously? Either way, we will be leaving Essos soon. We have to."
"A wedding between you and the Princess before you reach the shores would also be a wise move, your Grace. You must ensure that your bloodline will remain to control the dragons after you have gone, and regardless of what your Uncle said, there will be many who doubt at your legitimacy."
Jon frowned and sighed before looking at the knight.
"I do agree with what you are saying, but I am standing by my decision to let Daenerys chose. This whole mess started because my mother could not chose who she wished to marry, I will not force her hand, even if it makes things difficult for us to return. Though I do know who I wish she would chose."
The last bit the Prince only muttered, but Barristan heard it nonetheless. He kept his reaction to the words private, relieved that the Prince felt the same as the Princess did, according to Ashara at least. They had spent a great deal of time together on the road to Yunkai, learning about one another's lives and stories. They both attended the same lessons given to them by Haldon and Marwyn with a youthful eagerness, and many times Ser Barristan had walked into the main tent to find them asleep next to each other with a few books piled around them. As much as he would wish them to marry now, in whatever fashion the culture here would do so, Barristan knew that Westeros would not accept such a union. They had to marry under the Light of the Seven, and no doubt under a weirwood tree as well. The Old Gods had no presence in Essos, but Ser Barristan was aware of a Sept in Braavos they could stop by. Instead of voicing those thoughts, the old knight simply said,
"You seem to be more accepting of certain things, your Grace."
A short laugh, one that reminded Barristan painfully of Rhaegar, burst from his son's mouth before he responded,
"You mean I've finally gotten my head out of my ass. I admit, having everything thrust upon me at once was jarring, and I am still coming to terms with it all, but two things are very clear to me. Daenerys and I will never be safe in Westeros unless the Lannisters are defeated, and the Iron Throne cannot remain empty. So if taking back the Seven Kingdoms and sitting on that thrice blasted chair means our family is safe, then so be it. Now, let us be on our way to prepare for this so called Titan's Bastard, and his retinue."
Once again, the same dream woke the Princess up from her slumber. Her nephew handed her a bundle of cloth wrapped around a baby girl with dark hair just like his, with tears in his eyes and a smile on his face. As Daenerys looked upon the babe, she began to open her eyes, but Daenerys would wake before she could see the color. She couldn't see anything else in the dream, and as always, the same question invaded her thoughts,
'Is that our child he is handing me, or is it his by his wife, some other woman?'
She could easily tell the babe's father was Jon, but the identity of the mother was concealed to her. She knew the child would be born safe and healthy though, after all, she did dream of it, and her dreams came true. Jon would have a daughter. She wished the girl was hers as well, but as usual, the words of the witch flowed through her mind. She was cursed and barren, and would never be able to hold a child of her own. As much as it would hurt her, she had to push him away, before their growing attraction towards one another turned to hope, and then to ashes. But he would not listen to her words about the witch, and had only scoffed at the mention of the curse. He did not believe in such magic, nor did he think the witch was a reliable source of information as to whether she could have a child. Suddenly a thought shot through her mind, and she cursed herself for not thinking of it sooner. Jon may not believe in the magic of Mirri Maz Duur, but he would believe in the reason and logic from their two Maesters. She quickly asked Missandei to ask for Marwyn and Haldon to meet with her in her tent, and after a second, she asked also for Ashara. When the terrible news was confirmed, she wanted to have someone with her that she could show her tears to.
However, near half an hour later, the Maesters and Ashara did not hold the faces of pity and sympathy as she had expected, but rather doubt like Jon. Marwyn began to speak,
"I must admit, your Grace, I am a believer in the higher mysteries, especially with seeing your dragons, but even I am quite doubtful of this curse. I did teach this woman for a time, but she never showed any interest or talent in such arts. Her focus in skills was more towards theatricality and deception, which this tale sounds far more like than magic."
"What do you mean, Archmaester?"
"This prophecy she gave you. To me it sounds like she wished you to think that having a child is impossible, because she listed a group of impossible things must happen before then. Some may argue that her prophecy was meant to be symbolic, but I am not of that opinion. It is far more likely that this woman meant only to hurt you, and said her lies with only malice, and not truth, in her heart."
Dany began to blink rapidly, and breath heavily. She sat down and managed to gasp out,
"But, my moonblood has not happened since then, and she said that Rhaego was deformed."
It was Haldon that answered,
"The mind is a powerful thing, Princess, perhaps even more powerful than your dragons. It would make far greater sense that your moonblood has not happened because you believe your body is barren than for some witch to have cast a spell. Though my guess is that something far more simpler, though no less terrible, is the cause of this."
"What?" asked Ashara, her hands holding Dany's.
Haldon and Marwyn also sat down, before the half maester began to speak,
"You suffered from the loss of your firstborn at a rather late stage in your pregnancy, something that no doubt caused a large amount of trauma to your body. If you had been in the Seven Kingdoms when this happened, we would confine you to bed rest for many weeks, if not a few months. Instead, you almost immediately began to travel the Red Wastes, and had little to no medical attention since then. I am of the opinion, and I am sure that Archmaester Marwyn would agree with me, that you are still healing from that incident."
"But Rhaego, he was scaled and ..."
"She would have been the only one to see your child, and probably wished to spin whatever tale she wished of it, in order to hurt you as much as possible. She might have even intentionally caused you to lose the babe through some manner of poison. It is far more likely that young Rhaego was simply not fully formed, and the body began to deteriorate before leaving the womb."
The room was still spinning as Daenerys tried to process everything she was being told. She had always believed that if she looked back she would be lost in the possibilities of what could have been, but now? She had dreamed of a babe with curly dark hair, and above all else she wished the child to have her eyes. She could name her Rhaella, after her mother. Taking a deep breath, she looked the two Maesters in the eye, and asked firmly,
"Is there a way that can confirm if I am barren, or if I can have a child again?"
Haldon frowned, but both Ashara and Marwyn nodded.
"There is a way we can check to see which is the case, though it can be a bit uncomfortable."
Marwyn had lied. It was very uncomfortable, and very awkward as the Maester began to push and prod in areas she would rather not have on display. After what seemed like a very long time, with Ashara holding her hand, the Maester pushed himself back from his crouch and stood up. He began to quickly look through a small book he had on his person, and after a minute or two of skimming the pages, he closed it and nodded to himself. He then turned to Daenerys and said,
"It is my rather learned opinion that you are not barren, and that you are able to conceive and birth children. The process would be more difficult than normal though, however I am in the possession of many different herbs and poultices that would help things when you and the Prince marry and attempt to try for children."
Daenerys's mouth opened in shock, and she could do nothing but stare at the Maester. The frail feeling of hope began to blossom in her chest, but before she could open her mouth, Grey Worm stepped into the tent and quickly said in High Valyrian,
"My Queen, the Second Sons have arrived, and King Jon and Ser Barristan are waiting for you."
The young had just about had enough of listening to the three leaders of the Second Sons, and wanted nothing more than to take their heads from their shoulders. Mero seemed to be trying to find the worst things to say to Daenerys and Missandei, while the blue haired fool of a Tyroshi, Daario, was apparently content to just leer at her. Daenerys, for her credit, ignored all of it and continued to try to persuade them to join their side, to little effect though. Mero laughed and said,
"Tell you what Princess, why don't you and me go into that tent of yours, and we can work out some arrangement."
Ghost began to growl as both Ser Barristan and Jon grabbed their swords and took a step forward. The entire meeting tensed for a second before Daenerys laughed as well,
"Have you ever heard of the phrase, our word is as good as gold, Mero?"
It wasn't the Titan's Bastard who responded, but rather the Tyroshi,
"The motto of the Golden Company, an impressive force that is nowhere near Yunkai."
Jon took over from there,
"No, but they are on their way here, having signed on to fight for the Mother of Dragons. Can your Second Sons face off against twenty thousand, and elephants? Can Yunkai?"
"Why don't we kill you first? Then Strickland will just have to give up and turn around."
It was Jon's turn to laugh.
"That may be the case in usual situations, but this isn't one of those. You see, as part of the contract that we already signed, one of the clauses is that the Golden Company stays on long enough to avenge us if we fall. So if you kill us, you bring the full wrath of the Golden Company down upon you and yours. Or you can join us."
The three were silent for a few minutes, but Jon looked past them to see that his words had affected many of the minor lieutenants that were standing outside. It was the third mercenary captain, Prendahl, who began to speak,
"We have already signed a contract with Yunkai. How would we ever find work, if we break our word?"
"We would find work for you, in different places, where you could build up a new reputation." answered Daenerys.
They began to pull back and talk amongst themselves. At first it seemed like they were going to agree to their terms, but then Jon and Dany both saw Mero begin to speak, and they knew the answer. The Titan's Bastard walked up to them and spat at Dany's feet.
"I'll not serve some silvered hair whore, or her bastard lover. You lie about the Golden Company, and even if you aren't, they won't attack when we have you as our hostage!"
With that he lunged forward to grab Daenerys, and all Jon saw was red as he sprung up as well, reaching for his sword. Dark Sister swung through the air, slicing through both of Mero's hands at the wrists. He parried Daario's flimsy attempt to attack him with his arakh, and barely felt the dagger cut across his torso, but returned the favor by removing the Tyroshi's head from his shoulders. Prendahl tried to back up, but Ghost jumped from where he was sitting and latched his teeth into the man's calf, giving Jon the opportunity to open him up from hip to shoulder bone, showering him with blood. By that time, Mero had managed to crawl away towards the rest of his silent men. Jon kept his eyes on them as he walked over to the Titan's Bastard, and drove the Valyrian Steel sword through Mero's armor and into his heart, killing him instantly.
Nobody moved, save for the Unsullied surrounding the remaining officers of the Second Sons. Jon looked at them again, and he spoke in a low and quiet voice.
"Fight for us, or join your leaders in death. Chose now."
All of them lowered themselves to their knees, almost immediately, looking in fear at the young man covered in blood with a direwolf at his side. Jon nodded, and motioned towards Ser Barristan,
"See him for your orders. We attack Yunkai tonight."
With that, Jon strode off towards his personal tent, wanting nothing more than to wipe the blood off of his body. He barely managed to pull his tunic off of his body when the tent door flapped open and his Aunt strode in with a strange fiery look on her face. She hissed out,
"What in the Seven Hells were you thinking!"
"He was trying to grab for you, Daenerys. What was I supposed to do?"
"Let our Kingsguard protect us, like he is supposed to do! Let anyone else risk themselves before you!"
Jon scowled at that,
"I will not stand aside and let other people fight our battles for us. How can we expect others to fight for us if we don't fight alongside them?"
It was Daenerys' turn to growl in frustration, but then she surprised them both by lunging forward, grasping Jon by the hair and pulling him down into a scorching kiss. For a moment she was all he could feel, Dark Sister clattering to the ground, his hands around her waist, pulling her in even closer, tongues battling for dominance. They found themselves on Jon's bed, Daenerys sitting on top of him, when they pulled back for air, keeping their foreheads connected. In between the gasps for air, Dany breathed out,
"I can't lose you, not after just finding you, especially not after what I've learned."
"What do you mean?"
Daenerys looked at him, eyes watering with emotion,
"You were right from the beginning. Marwyn and Haldon both confirmed it. The witch lied, Jon, she lied."
With that she began to kiss him again, her mouth trailing down to his neck. Jon pulled her away to look her in the eyes,
"Wait, you're saying you can, what are you saying Dany?"
Dany grasped him around the head, staring him in the eyes as well, her voice clear and strong,
"The Maesters told me I can have a child, and I want yours. I want you, Jon, just you. Marry me."
"I'm supposed to ask that, but yes, Dany, I'll marry you. But we need to do this right, my Queen. We need to take Yunkai tonight, so we can take their ships."
"Then tomorrow, my King, we sail for Westeros."
We are heading for Westeros!
Hey all, I know I mentioned a POV with Robb reacting to the letter from Jon, but when I was going over my notes, I realized that it would be better suited for the next chapter. So stay tuned for that one.
In the meantime, please let me know what you all think of the story so far.
Sneak Peaks (That's right, you get three of them!)
"You were at the Fist, Ser Alliser. You know who the real enemy is."
"Your nephew saw a chance to take a mill, Ser Brynden, but I saw a chance to take the Mountain."
"If Robb Stark realizes what you have done, Grandmother, he will either thank us, or kill us."
Chapter 6: The Calm before the Storm
Everything changes and nothing lasts forever, although some things never die.
So this is the chapter where I completely abandon the canon storyline of almost all of the main characters, in order to forge a new story. Fasten your seatbelts everyone, because we are in Uncharted Territory!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
It was a cloudy and gloomy morning, but still Oberyn felt like singing as he walked the ramparts of Riverrun. The Mountain was dead, and had been gone for months, but he could still picture his last moments with the brute that had killed his sister and her children. How he had howled in pain when Oberyn's spear found its mark, and how the fear had shone through his eyes when the poison took hold of him. The naive Edmure Tully had taken it upon himself to win some sort of glory by taking a nearby mill that the Mountain was holding, and the Red Viper was the first to volunteer. The poison he and his daughters, and Ellaria, had been working on was ready to be used, and he would not lose this chance. Tyene said that a normal sized man would die from one cut of this poison, so she told her father to at least strike Gregor Clegane three times. Oberyn drew blood from the Mountain six times, and when the battle was over, he had the head sent to King's Landing. Suddenly a gruff voice called out from behind him,
"Prince Oberyn, I've been looking for you."
He turned to see a rather new friend of his, Ser Brynden Tully, waiting for him. The two had bonded during the course of the Young Wolf's campaign, and often spent time discussing many things when they weren't fighting side by side. The Blackfish was altogether all too serious for Oberyn's tastes, but he loved poking at the man's cold exterior. Oberyn spun around and threw and arm over his shoulder, before walking in step with him.
"My dear friend, to what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?"
As usual, the Blackfish first pushed Oberyn's hand off of his shoulder before he replied in a rather quiet tone of voice,
"I just spoke with the others, and I wanted to thank you for what you did for King Robb in regards to the Westerlings."
"Think nothing of it. The boy wasn't thinking clearly, but he did when I of all people counseled him against going through with his honorable plan. The girl may have had legitimate feelings for him, but I am certain that Sybil Westerling is still very much Tywin's loyal pet. I cannot blame him for seeking comfort though, especially with the news he learned while at the Crag."
Brynden nodded and they both began to think on the past few weeks, and the reason why Robb was turning his army back North. With Jaime still a closely guarded captive, the Mountain dead, and the Westerlands under attack, Tywin Lannister had done the unthinkable, and made an alliance with the Ironborn. No one knew exactly what the terms of that alliance were, but whatever they were, Ironborn ships had begun to raid the coasts of the North and the Riverlands. Thankfully Winterfell, and the Starks there, was still safe, as no Ironborn raid had gotten that far inland, but tension was high in the camp of the King in the North.
"Has Balon sent a response yet?"
Brynden grimaced and shook his head.
"Robb is giving him two more weeks to answer his third raven he has sent, but I doubt he will. Balon knew Robb would be honor bound to execute Theon for his father breaking the treaty when he attacked, and he did it anyway."
"It will be a difficult thing, executing a friend, but if he doesn't, than people will begin to lose faith in him. I do wonder if they will keep that faith when they learn the real reason why Robb is heading North."
Everyone had been surprised when an Essosi merchant of all people had found them with a message for the King in the North, and Robb had almost fainted when he had opened it. Doran's suspicions had been partially correct, Rhaegar's son by Lyanna was alive, and was in Essos. He told his cousin an interesting tale of a Spider's plot, and how he was trying to find his Aunt before returning home. To the rest of Westeros, Robb Stark was heading North to defend his lands from the Ironborn attacks, and then to perhaps launch an assault on the Iron Islands in retaliation. In reality though, he was heading home to welcome his long lost cousin and apparently the Golden Company and perhaps even dragons, if all of the letter could be believed. Robb believed it, stating that only Jon would have known the things that were written in the letter, that they were events only he and him were privy to. Oberyn had decided to take that at face value, and also decided to continue traveling with the Stark forces to meet this Jaehaerys. His brother was still playing the long game, allowing Trystane to be betrothed to Myrcella, and even sending Quentyn to King's Landing for a spot on the Small Council, but he knew the truth. All Doran was really waiting for was word from Oberyn, and Dorne would strike hard and fast against the Lannisters. All Oberyn was waiting for was to see the character of this potential king, and a few other more private concerns. Elia may have loved the boy if she had lived, but that didn't mean Oberyn had to, nor did it mean he was any more at peace with what the boy's parents had done.
"I suppose the Northern Lords will still decide to fight for their King, and especially when they can put a Stark one on the Southern throne as well. It is a smart move to fall back to the North and prepare. Tywin may have caught us unawares with the Greyjoy alliance, but he still has his hands full with Renly Baratheon of all people."
"That is true. I do wonder if Renly has finally decided to march on King's Landing, or if he is still marshalling his forces at Storm's End. After defeating and killing Stannis in that rather pitiful battle at Bitterbridge, I would have assumed he would have continued on with the momentum." Oberyn replied.
"From what we have heard, Mace Tyrell apparently got some cold feet and is very hesitant to back his new son in law. Most of his time has been spent trying to regain the Reach's loyalty, with minimum success."
Before Oberyn could respond, a runner rushed over to the two of them, out of breath. After a moment he gasped out,
"King Robb wishes to see you both, immediately!"
The Blackfish began to run towards Robb's solar, but Oberyn merely followed at a brisk walk. Robb Stark may be a King, but Oberyn was still a Prince of Dorne. He got there a few moments after Brynden did, and was surprised to see most of Robb's war council not standing and shouting as they usually did, but rather sitting in shocked silence. Robb was standing, peering over two unfurled scrolls. He glanced up as Oberyn walked in and closed the door.
"Thank you for joining us, Prince Oberyn. As I was just saying, I have just received two ravens from King's Landing and from Highgarden."
Oberyn found his seat and sat down. A part of him wanted to kick back and lay his feet on the table, but the room seemed too tense for that.
"Was it another threat from the Old Lion?"
"It was from Varys, who apparently was the one who gave us the information about Baelish last year. He says Tywin had made another alliance with Walder Frey, and that he intends to betray us to the Lannisters during my upcoming wedding to Lady Roslin. He also says that Sansa is no longer in King's Landing."
"Where is your sister, your Grace?"
Robb held up the second scroll, and Oberyn could see the rose seal.
"Safe in Highgarden, having been smuggled out by the Tyrells. Our reports on Renly's campaign have been wrong. He died in Storm's End soon after defeating Stannis, and someone else was wearing his armor at an attack on King's Landing, but they were defeated and killed. The Tyrells have apparently allied themselves with the Lannisters, but are still sending an emissary to White Harbor to meet with me to discuss the future."
Everyone was silent as they began to process the information. Varys had to be involved with the Tyrells, and whatever his plans were with them, they had to somehow benefit the Targaryens, but Oberyn couldn't tell how just yet. Doran was much better at the scheming. Robb began to speak up again, but frantic knocking at the door made him pause. He admitted the same messenger, now absolutely drenched in sweat from running all across Riverrun. The young boy leaned on the table and took a few deep breaths, before sending the entire room into absolute chaos with his next words.
"The Hound is at the gates, your Grace! He says he has your sister Arya with him."
"As I was unable to get a man inside his army, I was not able to confirm the numbers of Mance's army. Although, from what we saw and from what we learned from the questioning of those we captured, I would say the rumors of one hundred thousand wildlings might not actually be rumors."
"That's impossible Qhorin, you can't get ten wildlings together without them trying to kill each other."
Before the Halfhand could respond, Lord Commander Mormont spoke up in his raspy voice,
"With the threat of the Walkers, I'm sure Mance has gotten them to listen to whatever he wants to say."
Everyone in Mormont's chambers quieted after that, especially Benjen. He had been the one to find the corpse of Othor trying to strangle Jeor Mormont in his sleep. He had survived, but was still recovering from the wounds, and could barely speak above a whisper, even a year or so later. That had forced him to stay behind when he sent the ranging party to find the truth of the matter behind the wildlings and walking dead men. Benjen and Ser Alliser had led it instead, and had almost gotten killed many times over. It was at their rout at the Fist that had convinced them to turn around and head back to the Wall immediately, bypassing Craster's Keep. It was Yarwick who quietly said,
"Even if they do number that many, it's just wildlings with bronze and stone weapons. They won't be able to get past the Wall."
Qhorin scoffed at that,
"We saw their giants and mammoths. He has everything he needs to break past the Wall."
Mormont nodded and looked at Benjen,
"Will your nephew help us?"
For a second, Benjen thought he meant Jon, but quickly realized that Jeor was talking about Robb.
"Robb has a good majority of his army removing the Ironborn from the coasts, but I have no doubt he would send men if we asked. Maester Aemon can draft a letter after this meeting and I'll send the fastest raven to Moat Cailin and Winterfell."
"Good, then let us hope he receives it in time. For now, let us move on to the next topic, the White Walkers. I've been told that you and Tarly found something at the Nightfort, First Ranger?"
"Aye, we did. It would seem that the Night's Watch used dragonglass, or obsidian, to kill the White Walkers, like Sam said he did. We are unsure of why it seems to affect them, but Samwell has some theories. There is a small mention of dragon steel, which may mean Valyrian Steel, being equally effective, but we are unsure. They do say with absolute certainty that normal steel weapons fail to do any damage to the wights, and even shatter when attacking the Walkers."
"Do we know where any dragonglass can be found?"
"Dragonstone," said Thorne, "There's a series of caves there that is full of the stuff, near mountains of it."
"So we need to figure out a way to trade with Dragonstone, somehow. It will be difficult, seeing as the Velaryons are apparently holding it instead of the Baratheons, if those rumors are true."
Benjen let the others talk amongst themselves for a minute as he began to search through the pile of papers in front of him. If he was really about to tell them what Sam had found, he knew he would need proof. Mormont narrowed his eyes at him.
"Was there something else in your report Benjen?"
"Yes, Lord Commander, but none of us are going to like it."
"Between the upcoming Wildling invasion, and the Army of the Dead, I don't see how anything else can be that bad, so out with it."
Benjen wordlessly passed the journal of one of the first Lord Commanders to the current one, and let him read over it for a moment. He could tell when Jeor arrived at the section, for his eyes widened and he looked up in shock to Benjen's nodding face.
"According to these journals we found at the Nightfort, it would appear that the Wildlings used to be part of the Night's Watch, and acted as a scouting force against the White Walkers for us."
It was a few hours later that found Benjen standing alone atop the Wall, enjoying the silence. When he was watching the world from up above, it was almost as if he could leave his troubles down on the ground, and they couldn't reach him. That was what he appreciated most about the Wall. He could forget how he helped his big sister run away to meet with her Prince, or how he had failed to gather the courage to tell his father the truth when Brandon was arrested. He had tried to forget his fights with Ned when he brought Lyanna's son home, and how Ned refused to speak the truth they both knew. Benjen had wanted to claim his nephew as his own, and go somewhere far away from the ghosts, but Ned wouldn't let him. So instead of fighting, he ran straight to the Wall. But when he saw Jon about to make the same mistakes he had made for all the wrong reasons, he knew he had to act.
"I reckon I would find you up here Stark."
Alliser Thorne stepped next to him, both not looking at each other for a long time. Benjen had been shocked when he learned that Thorne of all people was still working with the Spider down in the South, but he had been a loyalist well before he became a black brother. If it hadn't have been for him, Jon would be stuck here, freezing to death and alone, all to ensure that his big brother never had to make the uncomfortable choice of friend or family. But that didn't mean he had to like the bitter man, and it didn't erase the decade long feud between the two of them. Helping Jon get away was the only common ground they shared, as far as Benjen was concerned. Still after a moment, Thorne spoke up,
"This idea that you and Jeor thought of, are you sure that it is the right thing to do?"
"To be honest, I hate it as much as everyone else, but you saw the real enemy at the Fist, Ser Alliser. Just like I did. We can't just push the Wildling army back into the waiting jaws of the White Walkers, they will just turn them, and then we will be facing their army again. Some sort of alliance has to be made to ensure we stop the Army of the Dead from growing any bigger."
"You have the right of it. Seven damn the White Walkers for making me think of making peace with the enemy, but you're right. I'll not make peace with Mance though, nor should we welcome his army through our tunnel."
"Aye, first we need to stop the wildling attack, then we can talk to the survivors afterwards."
The two were silent for a little bit longer until Thorne spoke up once more,
"I heard a rumor from Eastwatch that the King's Aunt hatched three dragons in Essos. I wonder if they have found each other yet."
"It's been a few years, so my guess is probably. We might be hearing of them arriving home soon enough."
"That would be good. It sure would be useful to have three fire breathing dragons on our side when the Walkers come."
As the future lord of Highgarden made his way slowly to his grandmother's solar, he began to hear loud voices arguing from behind the door. Willas sped up as much as he could with his cane, and barely managed to hear the last bit of the conversation.
"When I tell you to do something, Lord Randyll, I expect you to do it, not sit on your behind and wait for my son to say the same exact thing. If you refuse to obey your liege lady's order one more time, I will have you sent off to join your firstborn on the Wall, and that is a promise. Now, be a good dear, and do what I told you to do, now."
Willas barely had enough time to get out of the way as Randyll Tarly nearly kicked the door open and began to stride forward, before being stopped by Olenna Tyrell's sharp voice,
"Oh, and Lord Tarly? Please inform your son Dickon that he will be remaining in Highgarden to continue his education for the time being, at least until you complete your task. I have already taken the liberty of having his things moved here, so all you have to do say your temporary goodbye."
Willas could have sworn he saw a vein in the proud lord's temple pop, but he merely nodded and briskly walked away. He made his way into the solar and sat down before saying,
"Are you sure that aggravating Lord Tarly was the smartest thing to do?"
"That man needed to be taken down a notch or two, and besides, once he learns of how I intend to reward his loyalty, I'm sure he will be crawling to kiss my perfumed slippers. Either way, he is actually competent in following instructions, unlike your buffoon of a father."
A cold feeling brushed down Willas' spine as he straightened his back and asked,
"What did father do?"
"It's more of what he didn't do. I told him that after we dealt with Joffrey, he was to send Margaery back home to Highgarden for her safety. But no, instead all he did was the exact opposite of what I told him to do, and arranged a marriage between your sister and that boy Tommen. He has once again, forced us on a path with no way out, especially with the news I have just learned."
"Is it news about the Targaryen Prince?"
Willas was still unsure of how his grandmother was unsurprised about Ned Stark's revelation. It was only after Renly had fallen that she had told him, and only him, that she had received word of a boy with dark hair and grey eyes arriving in Pentos in the company of a large white wolf. Since then, the two of them had worked quietly behind the scenes of the Reach to slowly shift loyalties to House Targaryen once more. The Hightowers and Redwynes had been quick to join their cause, and others were slowly changing their minds. A sudden thought crossed Willas's mind, and he cursed himself for not thinking of it sooner,
"You wanted Margaery to marry Jaehaerys, didn't you."
"Of course I did, and I was even promised that they would marry, at least until those blasted dragons showed up. That's right, the Prince's Aunt hatched three dragons, and they are growing at a very fast rate. Now, Varys tells me that the two Targaryens must marry each other in order to preserve the bloodlines, and that they have already married in Volantis, and she might already be with child."
"The Targaryens have taken multiple wives before, Grandmother."
"And the last time they did it, the boy's father almost destroyed his entire family's dynasty. No, no, I will not have your sister, my granddaughter, playing second fiddle. We must find another way to gain the forgiveness of House Targaryen for our actions, or lack of, during the Rebellion."
For a long moment the two sat in silence, quietly contemplating the issues on the table, before Willas' Grandmother looked up with a gleam in her eye, one that made him very nervous.
"Tell me, grandson, how is our newest guest doing in Highgarden? Have the two of you been getting along?"
"Lady Sansa is doing well, I believe, and we are getting along just fine. We just finished walking the gardens. Why do you ask?"
"I am simply wondering about the happiness of my grandson, and the future of our House. I know only a soft betrothal between the two of you has been discussed for a later point in time, but I wonder if you or Lady Sansa would be opposed to moving the date up a bit. Perhaps even this week?"
"Grandmother, how would we justify this to the Lannisters breathing down our necks, or even to Robb Stark? The last raven we secretly sent to him, we only said that his sister was safe in Highgarden, not married."
Olenna Tyrell waved her hand and scoffed,
"We can make something up about how we overheard of a Lannister plot to bring her back to King's Landing, and that this was the only way to keep her out of their plots and hands. Willas I need you to listen to me. The Targaryens are coming to Westeros, with their dragons and a sizable army. Robb Stark is pulling his armies back to the North, and if I were to guess, it's probably to welcome his cousin or brother back home. When they begin their second march South, we need to make sure that they can count on House Tyrell, or at least not wipe us off the face of the world. Uniting our families in marriage and blood is the only way to do that."
Willas frowned, but nodded. It was true that he did care for the Lady Sansa, and he promised to himself that he would try to make her as happy as possible, regardless of the political machinations they were now both trapped in. As he began to walk away, like Randyll Tarly, his grandmother had one final word to say.
"Could you please send for Lord Paxter, dear grandson? I have a request for him and the Redwyne Fleet. I do hope they are ready for a voyage to Volantis."
I do hope you enjoyed that look into Westeros. As you could tell, Jon and Dany have been busy in Essos, but they are making their way back home. There will be many people, friends, family, and potential allies alike waiting to recieve them. Where should they land first?
"We have been called the firstborn daughter of Valyria, your Graces, and as such we have been in possession of many different artifacts from the Freehold, things that we would be happy to share with the new Dragonlords of Valyria."
Chapter 7: Firstborn Daughter
The Targaryen's last days in Essos.
As much as it was important for him to pay attention to what the Triarch of Volantis was saying, Jon was having trouble paying attention to anyone but his wife, who also seemed to be stealing glances at him as well. His wife. For as long as he could remember, he had never thought of, had never even hoped, of being able to say those words. But now he could, and now Daenerys Targaryen was his and he was hers. Truth be told, he had been hers since the moment she freed all of the Unsullied in Astapor. Being able to witness her in that moment was awe inspiring, and he had never seen anything or anyone like it. Ashara and Ser Barristan were elated when the two had announced their betrothal, but were swift to caution them to wait until they could marry in a Sept or Godswood. But with the closest Sept in Braavos, and no Godswood in Essos, Jon and Dany grew sick of waiting.
After that perfect night they spent together on the way from Yunkai to Volantis, the two were met with a bit of criticism and disappointment, but quickly they reminded their advisors who they were. Regardless, all of them worked hand in hand, and upon arriving in Volantis, Jaehaerys and Daenerys Targaryen married each other under the fire of the Lord of Light. A more Westerosi wedding under the light of the Seven, and beneath a Heart Tree would have to wait. Jon would marry her again wherever and whenever, for as many times as she would like. It was her voice that drew him from his thoughts.
"Lord Maegyr, truly your city has a rich history, and you have accomplished many things. You mentioned that our House and Volantis have a history together as well."
"We have been called the Firstborn daughter of Valyria, your Graces, and as such we have been in possession of many different artifacts from the Freehold, things that we would be happy to share with the new Dragonlords of Valyria."
Most of the man's words was false praise and bootlicking, but when one shows up with Dragons, you do not try to offend them. Jon also supposed that the Triarch was attempting to gain the favor of the Targaryens, knowing what all three of them knew, but were not addressing yet. Volantis was a slave city, and as such Jon and Dany intended to change that, once they gained the Iron Throne. It was tempting to stay and fight the wrongs that surrounded them, but they both knew that there was a chance that they would never be able to leave if they did that. But they would return. After taking the docks from Yunkai, as well as the rest of the city, Jon and Dany made sure that all of the Wise Masters knew that their reign of slavery was over, and one day the same would come for Volantis. That day was not today, and the Targaryens were forced to smile and count down the days as the rest of the Golden Company finished preparing their ships for the voyage home.
They continued to walk through the man's impressive manse, deep within the mighty black walls of Volantis, until they reached a large room. Before they entered, Triarch Maegyr turned and said in an almost reverent tone,
"As soon as we heard of your arrival, I convinced my brethren to gather all of these treasures in order to present them to you. Here, as our gift to you, is all that Volantis has of the old Freehold."
With a far too dramatic flair, the man swung upon the door and allowed Jon and Dany into the vault. It was a decent sized room, with a few chests filled with valuables in one corner, and a large quantity of books and scrolls in the other. In the center of the room were two beautiful sets of armor, a combination of chain mail, leather, and plate barding.
"The armor was made for dragon riders specifically, with its ample protection against the elements that you would face up in the skies. Tell me, how are the dragons progressing?"
"Our dragons are growing just fine, and we thank you for the livestock you have given them." Daenerys replied curtly.
It was true, the dragons had all been growing at a faster rate than they had expected. Jon supposed it was due to the constant flying they had done while the ships sailed from Yunkai to Volantis, as well as the constant fishing. They were now the size of small ponies, only a bit larger than Ghost, but that didn't stop Rhaegal trying to cuddle with him. Sometimes, as he had said to Dany, he wasn't sure if Rhaegal was not some sort of puppy instead of a mighty dragon. Suddenly, Jon looked behind the armor to see a large pile of leather propped up on a table. He walked towards it, realizing what it was just as Triarch Maegyr began to speak,
"That is the only living dragon saddle in existence. According to the rumors, it belonged to Balerion the Black Dread, and your ancestor Aegon sat upon it when he and his sisters conquered Westeros. That may or may not be true, but what is true is the fact that we have also found the schematics for the continual design of more saddles. Once your dragons are able to carry your weight, you should use these saddles."
Jon turned back towards Dany, and was struck speechless. Already she was sitting on the ground, pouring over the books with a fiery focus, and he had never seen a more beautiful sight. He had seen the Wall, direwolves, dragons, the outskirts of Valyria, and a dozen other amazing things, but nothing really compared to his wife. She glanced up to see him staring and smiled softly, right before the Volantene noble broke the moment once more,
"We also have another gift for you as well, one from Westeros. It is our understanding that you plan to wage a war against the Lannisters and Baratheons, correct?"
Jon and Dany warily nodded, and Maegyr smiled and motioned for them to follow him. They began to make their way down many stairs, Ser Barristan and Ghost close behind. Jon soon realized they were reaching a prison of sorts, and they stopped in front of a dark cell. In it was an old man and a young girl. The man raised his right hand to block the torch light, and Jon saw he was missing the tips of his fingers. He also saw that the girl's left side of her face was covered in scars.
"We found these two trying to hide away in Lys, but as you can tell they are quite noticeable. May I present to you, your Graces, the Lady Shireen Baratheon, only daughter of Stannis Baratheon, and Ser Davos Seaworth, the Hand of the late Stannis Baratheon."
As far as jail cells that the Onion Knight had been, this one wasn't so bad. It was somewhat warm, and the food they sometimes remembered to give them wasn't rotten or thrown in the dirt. If it had been just him, he would have been content to rest and relax until he eventually figured a way out. But it wasn't just him in the cell. Princess Shireen was with him, and he had to find a way to get her out, to fulfil Stannis' dying wish. He still could remember finding him on the battlefield, lying in that pool of blood, the fatal blow in his back of all places. It was a man inside his own army that had betrayed him, and the only person he could trust was Davos. He instructed him to flee back to Dragonstone and take his daughter to Essos, and only her. When he had done that, he was to negotiate contracts with sellsword armies and return to ensure Shireen took the Iron Throne. Only now, Davos wasn't sure if that was even possible as he stared at the two Targaryens before him.
It was the impossibly large direwolf that broke the tension between the two groups. As soon as Shireen saw the great beast she exclaimed in delight,
"Is that a direwolf? Here in Essos? I thought they were all extinct, where did you find him? Aren't they supposed to be in the North?"
It was during these rapid fire questions that Davos was able to take a closer look at the man standing next to Daenerys Targaryen. He took in his dark hair, long face, and grey eyes as it suddenly clicked into place.
"You're Jon Snow, or you were at least."
At the man's nod, silence filled the room for only a brief second, before he turned to the Volantene next to them and growled out,
"Release them at once."
It was only an hour or so later that Davos was sure he was looking at Ned Stark's bastard, or at least his supposed bastard. He and Shireen were quickly taken out of their jail cell, given a bath and new clothes, and were now dining with the two Targaryens. Shireen and Daenerys were locked in an animated conversation, while the King only poked at his food. Sensing the need to speak, but not wishing to talk yet of more important things, Davos opted for a more safer conversation topic.
"I'm sorry about the loss of your father. Ned Stark was a good man who didn't deserve to die that way."
It was as if a snowstorm had covered the room as the young man clenched the fork in his hand and looked up at Davos with a cold gaze.
"My uncle lied to me my whole life, Ser Davos, and made me live the life of a bastard without telling me a single thing about my mother. If those are your qualities of a good man, than I don't want to know what you consider a bad one."
It was his wife that reached over and grasped his hand, cooling down the man's gaze as he looked away. As she did that, Daenerys looked over at the Onion Knight.
"Tell me, Ser Davos, why are you here with Lady Shireen in Essos of all places."
Davos cleared his throat,
"After making my way back to Dragonstone, I found that Lady Selyse had died, by her own hand, and the castle was in chaos. I kept my word to my King, and took her away to Lys. We were intending on finding sellswords to help bring Shireen back home so she could take her rightful place."
"Were intending?" asked Daenerys.
Davos shrugged and looked over across the room, where the three dragons and direwolf were lying down.
"Don't see how that is all possible if you already have three dragons and the Golden Company, along with however many supporters you'll have when you return. Now all that really matters is that little girl's safety. So you have my word, if you leave us in peace here, we won't try and rise against you, we both promise."
The King and Queen looked at each other for a long moment before they nodded and turned to face Shireen and Davos again. It was Jon who spoke up,
"What if we wished to help you regain your rightful place as Lady of Storm's End, Lady Baratheon.”
"You would do that, for me? Even after what Uncle Robert did to your family? Why?"
"Children should not be held accountable for the sins of their fathers. Besides, we are cousins, did you know that? Either way, so long as you bend the knee and serve House Targaryen once more, then House Baratheon will remain as Lord Paramounts of the Stormlands."
To say Davos was speechless was an understatement. He finally found his voice as a thought crossed his mind.
"What of the other Houses of the Stormlands that rebelled against your family? Do you intend to punish them for their actions?"
"If we took vengeance upon every House that joined with the Usurper, than we would be left with an empty Westeros. There will be steps taken to ensure the loyalty of the Lords that kneel, and if they do not then they will face the consequences of their actions in this war."
That was all it took for Shireen apparently, as she promptly got out of her chair and kneeled before the two Targaryens, with Davos following soon after. If she had decided to follow the Targaryens, than Davos would as well. He didn't know what he could offer them, but all that really mattered to him was making sure that Shireen was safe, and where else could she be safer than in the company of three dragons.
"I must admit, your Grace, while I know you wish to leave for your home as soon as possible, I am glad that you are staying in Volantis for a little while longer."
Daenerys smiled at the daughter of Triarch Maegyr as her hand made its way to her stomach. It was not noticeable yet, but she could feel the child there, hers and Jons. They had realized she was pregnant only a few days after meeting with the Baratheons, mainly thanks to the keen nose of Ghost. Since then, the direwolf had not left her side for one second, even leaving Jon in favor of her, though she was sure he could still see and be connected with them. Jon had also nearly doubled her guard, and she wore light armor underneath her dress. Neither of them could forget that while they were guests of Volantis, they were not welcome ones. The city was built on slavery, and the Targaryens were going to return. All she said to Talisa was,
"It is a beautiful city, Lady Talisa. We will only be here for another month or so, and I hope there will be time to see all of the great sites. Now back to what you were saying before, did you say you knew the King's brother Robb?"
She, Talisa, Missandei, and Ashara were all walking atop the Black Walls of Volantis, enjoying the sun and view of the Rhoyne. The Volantene woman looked away for a second,
"I spoke with him only a few times, but he seemed like a good man. He was very worried about his family. I stayed to continue healing in the Riverlands when he began to attack the Westerlands, and a short while after I returned home."
"Is it true that Prince Oberyn was with him, Lady Talisa?" asked Ashara.
"The Prince was one of his close advisors last I saw of them. I suspect he still is."
"That reminds me, Ashara, of something I wanted to ask of you. What will Dorne's response be to Jon and I?"
Ashara was quiet for a long time as they continued walking, eventually making it to a shaded pavilion where tables and chairs were set. They sat down upon them, and still Ashara had a contemplative look upon her face. Eventually she began to speak slowly,
"Doran was aware of Rhaegar and Lyanna, and while he did not approve, he was not against the marriage to a degree. I doubt he was too surprised when the truth about Jon came out. And while Elia would undoubtedly cared for your husband as a child, I doubt Doran will extend that type of love towards him. Do not expect the spears of Dorne to just up and join your cause, my Queen, not without giving them something in return."
Dany looked towards the manse where her dragons were sleeping, her hand rubbing Ghost's head.
"And what do you think they will be asking for?"
"They will not ask, they will demand," said Ashara to Daenerys' scoff, "And now that revenge against the Mountain and marriage to you or Jon is out of the question, there will be only one thing that Doran may wish for, and that will be Martell blood upon the throne."
"I would like to see them try to demand something of us, especially that. It would be an amusing thing to see."
She refused to even entertain the idea of selling her child into a match before they were even born. Once her son or daughter was born, then perhaps negotiations could begin, but the choice would be theirs and theirs alone, just as she knew Jon would agree. If that meant that Dorne would stay neutral or even side against them, so be it. Daenerys was content to let Dorne sit and do nothing, and therefore earn none of their favor. As their meal came to an end, with Dany somehow able to hold the food down, a throat was cleared behind her, and warm hands enveloped her. It was Jon, leaning down to kiss at her neck in greeting.
"Hello love, how was your meal?"
"Good, though I missed you. How was your meeting with Ser Davos?"
"Insightful. The Stormlands will be a challenge, but we both believe our original plan will still work, with some adjustments. By the way, Commander Strickland wishes to speak with us, when we are available."
"Our meal is done, and I do not see why we cannot meet with him right now."
With that the two monarchs, along with Ghost and Ser Barristan, made their way to the docks, where most of the Golden Company was situated. It was still a long process getting the ships outfitted to hold twenty thousand men and elephants, but Daenerys knew it would be well worth it. She hoped to be there when Cersei and the other Lannisters saw the elephants coming towards them. As they continued walking, Jon calmly asked Ser Barristan,
"Have you found any likely candidates for the Crownsguard, Ser Barristan?"
"While I do find some of their skills with a blade acceptable, it is their character that worries me. They are exiles and sellswords, and barely show qualities of a knight. We should wait to officially fill the ranks of this new Crownsguard with men of noble birth and character from Westeros. Though if I had to chose today, then either Tristan Rivers or Rolly Duckfield show the most promise of potential."
Jon nodded and they continued their walk in silence, until they reached the temporary offices of the Golden Company. As usual, Homeless Harry Strickland was quick to rise and give a respectful bow. He waited until they were seated before pouring refreshments and offering them to the two. There was a few minutes of silence as Commander Strickland glanced back and forth between her and Jon with a nervous expression. Daenerys broke the silence first,
"Commander Strickland, what is the status of the Golden Company, and how are things progressing with the preparations."
"We are currently still working on getting everything ready for the voyage, and are very thankful for the extra month you have given us, for whatever reason you have decided on. It is a matter of after our arrival that I asked you to come here. Am I to understand that you plan on giving House Baratheon back their lands, as well as many of the other Stormlanders that supported the Usurper?"
"We are currently in the process of forging an alliance with the Lady Shireen Baratheon, but the specifics are not yet finalized. Why do you ask?"
Strickland swallowed loudly, and sighed heavily.
"While it is true that you have paid us, and the ink is dry upon our contract, there are many members of the Company, exiles like yourselves, who were hoping to regain and or gain new lands and perhaps even titles."
"Like yourself, Commander? House Strickland was from the Stormlands, was it not?"
Strickland gave a short nod, and Dany struggled to not let a frown show. The commander of the Golden Company seemed to be both equal parts cowardly and greedy, near perfect traits for a sellsword, but not for a man of trusting nature. It was going to be difficult working with him, especially as Daenerys could still remember him laughing in Viserys' face. She had not let him know she remembered the day her brother had hosted the Golden Company, but she knew he remembered her. It was Jon who pulled her from her thoughts,
"The plan is still the same, Commander. We will be laying siege to Storm's End and will take it from whoever holds it, before giving it back to House Baratheon as a show of good faith, and of our new allegiance. Any of the Houses that join us will keep their lands, but those that continue to rise against us will be punished. Once that is done, then afterwards we can discuss the divvying up of lands to those who have earned them, but not a moment before. If that is all, then my wife and I do have other meetings we need to attend to."
All Strickland could do was nod, and Jon quickly strode away. They walked in silence for a while before stopping at a small hill, looking out over the bay towards the small armada that held the Targaryen sigil. Jon grasped her hand and squeezed it once before asking in a quiet voice,
"Where do you think we should land? Dragonstone or White Harbor?"
"I fear that if we land in White Harbor, then we may be forced to winter in the North, giving the Lannisters ample time to prepare for our armies and dragons. Landing on Dragonstone puts us right up next to King's Landing practically, and would send a powerful message. Imagine it, Jon, dragons flying over Dragonstone once more."
"Aye. A part of me just wants to see my family in Winterfell again, but I can't keep thinking how Jon Snow would think. I reckon if we are going home and really doing this, then it's probably time to start thinking of myself as Jaehaerys Targaryen. After all, that's who our child is going to be calling me."
Daenerys leaned over and kissed him softly, whispering into his ear,
"You know I'll love you no matter what your name is."
"And I you, Dany."
The two kissed for a moment longer, before resting their foreheads upon each other. Jon broke the silence with an infectious grin as he quietly said,
"We're going home in a month or so Dany. We're finally going home.”
However it was almost a year later that the now much larger armada set sail from what remained of the smouldering ruins of Volantis. On board the largest ship, a young baby girl with her father's hair and mother's eyes gazed up at the sky, watching the three large dragons fly over the ships, the black and green outfitted with both saddles and riders. For a small time, a bald man and a dwarf also gazed up at the skies from their position on the flagship before as one, everyone stared towards the West. The Dragons were coming home.
So what did you guys think? As you could see at the end, something happened that made them stay in Volantis a little longer, and that will be discussed in the later chapters, but they are in Westeros next chapter!
"Last time we played this game, I was Aegon and you were Torrhen."
"Things certainly have changed."
"At least black is still your color."
Chapter 8: Dragonstone
House Targaryen meets with loyal allies and potential allies on Dragonstone. Jon and Dany discuss their conflicting duties and desires as parents and as King and Queen.
As the Spider stared unflinchingly into the eyes of his King and Queen, even he had to pause and admit that they bore quite the regal air between the two of them. The King seemed to be embracing his dual heritage with his Targaryen colors and wolf furs to ward off the storm coming in from behind them, while the Queen sat at the edge of Aegon's Painted Table, her body practically glowing from her current pregnancy, which was believed to be twins. Their daughter, Rhaella was sitting on the floor, with the direwolf Ghost curled around the five month old. All in all, they looked like the perfect picture of a royal family, one that any person would immediately gravitate towards. Hopefully he would be able to live long enough to see them sit on the Iron Throne. After a few moments of silence from the two monarchs as they absorbed the news their Master of Whispers had just given them. It was the King who spoke up first,
"Joffrey, Twyin are both dead, and both the Reach and the Vale have bent the knee to us?"
"In the simplest sense, that is the basics of it. Joffrey died at his wedding, and Lord Tyrion killed his father. Since your journey to find your Aunt, I had been in contact with certain Houses in the Vale, and together we learned that Robert Arryn was in fact the child of Petyr Baelish and Lysa Arryn, thus invalidating his claim to the Vale. Harrold Hardyng was quick to assume leadership, and I was quicker to ensure his loyalties remain with you."
"And his marriage to Margaery Tyrell? How did you manage that?"
"I was able to aid Lady Margaery and her captive brother in escaping from King's Landing with Lord Tyrion and I after the death of Tywin. When we stopped by the Reach, Lady Olenna and I came to an agreement, and the two were wed. They should be sending representatives very soon, although they will come with certain requests I informed them that you would be amendable to."
Daenerys' eyes narrowed just like her husband's did, and her hand trailed down to her growing belly almost instinctually.
"What requests did you agree to in our name?"
Varys held up his hands and was quick to respond,
"I have made no agreements on your behalf, without consulting you, which is what I am doing now. Both the Vale and the Reach wish to offer up knights for the Kingsguard, my apologies, Crownsguard, Loras Tyrell being one of them, and Mychel Redfort being the other. Lord Yohn Royce wishes to be named to the Small Council, as does Paxter Redwyne. Those are the smaller requests, the next one is a wish that they are quite adamant upon."
"And that is what, Lord Varys?"
"The betrothal between Lord Harrold and Lady Margaery's daughter, Alys, and your firstborn son."
Everyone in the room tensed as they watched the two dragons hear the news. Fortunately, and quite oddly, the two seemed to take the idea somewhat well. Jon reached over to put a hand on his wife's shoulder and asked,
"How adamant are they in regards to these terms?"
"Quite adamant, your Grace, although I will say that this term was made before they were aware of your dragons, and as such you could probably rewrite the terms to whatever you pleased. However, as one of your advisers, I would strongly suggest you consider this. This alliance could gain the loyalties of not one, but two great houses."
"Four technically," said Jaehaerys, "With the marriage between Lord Willas and my sister Sansa, both House Tully and House Stark would be connected to the Royal Family in another way."
Monford Velaryon, the man responsible for the Targaryen's return to Dragonstone, stepped forward in confusion.
"My pardons, my King, but wouldn't your mother be all the reason House Stark needs to support you?"
"We had believed that to be the case, Lord Velaryon, but Lord Robb has not answered any of our ravens since we have arrived in Westeros." answered Daenerys.
"We don't know if he has even received them Dany."
Before the Queen could respond, Varys spoke up,
"According to my little birds, the King in the North has received those letters and is still in fierce debate with the Lords of the North as to their response. It would seem that with your cousin's marriage to Wynafryd Manderly and their son Eddard being born, there are some that wish to keep their independence from the Iron Throne. There is also the fact that the North only knows the exaggerated rumors of what happened in Volantis and later Pentos, and for that I cannot truly blame them.
"You know exactly what happened in Volantis, and why we did what we did."
Varys nodded and bowed slightly, seeing the dark expression upon the King and Queen's face. He had only been a witness to the aftermath of their wrath, and it had terrified him even more than the sorcerer that took his parts.
"You were well in your rights to exact your vengeance upon those that betrayed your trust, but the North is not aware of the truth. Convincing them will take time and effort."
"Time and effort that could be used to get you both on the Iron Throne instead," grumbled Harry Strickland, "Part of the Golden Company is already laying siege to the Stormlands, but with the remaining forces we still have, the Knights of the Vale, and the dragons, we could take King's Landing in a fortnight. Why are we waiting?"
"If I do not reach out to the family that I grew up with, and Robb continues this refusal to reply, it could raise questions. Reforming the relationship between House Stark and House Targaryen is paramount to proving to Westeros that we are different from King Aerys. Tommen needs to be surrounded completely, with no options of escape. Now if that is all, this meeting is adjourned. We will meet tomorrow at the same time. Lord Varys, please stay."
Everyone left the room except for the King and Queen, and of course Ser Barristan. For a few moments there was nothing but silence as the King stared at him, his expression almost unreadable. Varys presumed he learned to not let anything show while living the life of a bastard. It was Daenerys who spoke up,
"Our apologies, Lord Varys, for not speaking with you or Lord Tyrion sooner."
"It is alright, your Grace. You had a child to look after. I must presume now that we have a moment, that you have questions, no?"
They nodded, and the King spoke up first, his voice carefully controlled,
"When did you find out about me?"
"The day I saw you in King's Landing. Lord Stark brought you back with him on his way home to Winterfell. He kept you hidden from most of the court, but I managed to sneak in. As a babe, your resemblance to your brother Aegon and sister Rhaenys was uncanny, even with the dark hair and grey eyes. Anyone who had ever spent time in their presence, or your Father's, would have instantly recognized you. It took only a quick checking in at the Citadel to determine your legitimacy, and I quickly sent my own little birds to the North to keep an eye on you."
"Why just keep an eye on me? Why not play your games right then and there, and try to put me on that throne like you are doing now?"
Varys sat down across from the two Targaryens.
"Because at the time, the Siege of Dragonstone was still taking place and your wife was not even born yet. I had to spend all of my resources trying to figure out a way to get the rest of your family safely away from the Baratheon fleet. And truthfully, the Realm needed time to heal and recover from the scars of the rebellion, and that wouldn't have happened if we had a child monarch."
"I assume your plan didn't involve waiting until I was about to swear my vows upon the Wall?"
"No that was obviously not the plan. I had intended to use my influence in court to get you to foster somewhere in the South, perhaps the Reach or the Vale, or even as a squire to the Kingsguard. That way you would have grown up in closer to the capitol, and alliances would have been easier to make. Unfortunately, your Uncle refused each and every offer that was made, even those that came from Lord Arryn or other trusted friends. I truly believe his intentions for you were to bind yourself to the Wall in perpetuity."
The King looked away for a moment, a frown clouding his features. It was Daenerys who spoke up then,
"And what of Viserys and I, Lord Varys? How did we fit into your plans?"
"Plans were made to betroth Viserys to Arianne, and to sneak you back into Westeros as Ashara Dayne's daughter. You both would have grown up safe and protected in Westeros, able to cultivate new alliances for your House and Jaehaerys. Unfortunately, once Viserys' temperament became known, the plans to reunite Dorne and House Targaryen were moved to you and Prince Quentyn. However, that was when Illyrio made his move and betrothed you to the Dothraki, and I was unable to stop it."
"Why do such a thing. If Aegon was his son, why not betroth me to him in order to boost his claim?"
"Perhaps he wished Westeros to be broken by the Dothraki horde before Aegon could show up as a hero. Is there anything else you wished to speak of?"
He could see the two put aside their desires for more personal questions, and applauded them for that. Now wasn't the time to think on such matters. They needed to be focused and prepared for the war to come. It was Jaehaerys who leaned forward and asked,
"The plan concerning gaining the allegiance of House Martell, do you think it will work?"
"I am certain that even if it doesn't result in an alliance between the your two Houses, it will certainly shatter any reason for Doran to continue supporting House Lannister."
Pride was not an emotion Ser Barristan liked to indulge in, but as he watched his King hold off against both Loras Tyrell and Mychel Redfort, he allowed himself an indulgence for a moment. Everyone else in the training grounds were also watching in awe as the three sparred against each other, members of the Vale and the Reach alike. It was Yohn Royce who walked up to Ser Barristan and began to speak quietly,
"I must say, Ser Barristan, the King's skill is most impressive indeed."
"He is an exceptional student, and just needed the right environment to grow in."
Royce nodded, though his expression turned to a contemplative look,
"Aye, I can see that. It's a pity he wasn't able to receive that in the North or the Vale. Lord Arryn and I both sent offers to foster the boy, but Ned refused every time. I supposed he wished to keep his sister's son close, but obviously that didn't work out too well. A part of me still can't believe he lied to Robert."
A slightly slurred voice called out from behind them,
"Wouldn't you lie if the alternative meant your family was killed, Lord Royce?"
Both Royce and Ser Barristan stiffened, and their hands dropped to the handles of the swords they wore at their hips. The knight turned to see the slightly swaying form of Tyrion Lannister walking up to them, two guards close behind. Tyrion leaned against the fence, peering at the King for a moment,
"You know, I traveled with Snow for a time as we went to the Wall. Never would have guessed he was a Targaryen though, he seemed all Stark to me. My father didn't want to take any risks, and the second he heard of him, he sent over thirty men to take the black, and to find and kill him on the Wall. I'm glad they failed to do so, the boy I knew was a good person. I wonder if the King is."
"Shouldn't you be in your cell, like the hostage you are?" sneered Lord Royce.
Tyrion gave a bitter laugh,
"Hostage? There is a better chance for Cersei to bend the knee in order to get an opportunity to kill me than for me being a hostage to benefit the Targaryen campaign. In fact, I'm almost certain that if you gave me to her, she might consider giving up the Throne. No, no, Lord Royce, I am of no use as a hostage. As an ally however, I could be very useful."
"How Tyrion?" asked the King, walking over from the training yard.
The dwarf smiled, a gruesome sight with his scarred face and missing nose.
"Casterly Rock. I can get your army in."
Jon peered at the Lannister for a few moments, before motioning for him to follow, with Ser Barristan close behind. They made it to a small study, where the King quickly sent someone to get the Queen. After a few minutes of somewhat awkward silence, she arrived and sat down, her pregnant belly very visible. She and Jon whispered together for a moment before the Queen looked over and said,
"You said you could give us Casterly Rock. Tell us more."
"I said I could get your army inside, but not without a few things in return."
"Why should we spend time and effort and soldiers into laying siege to an empty castle? It does nothing to help our cause."
"First of all, with the Golden Company, Unsullied, and the Reach and Vale, you have plenty of soldiers to go around and lay siege to many empty castles. Secondly, while it may not benefit your cause, it will for sure hurt my sisters. If she cannot protect her ancestral home, the Westerlands will lose faith in her. She will also have to expend her limited army and resources into taking it back."
Barristan had to agree with Tyrion's logic, but he could see the King and Queen were still hesitant to trust the man. Tyrion seemed to sense this, and he threw up his hands.
"Look, you don't trust me, I understand that. I sometimes don't trust me. And if I am going to continue down this path of retched honesty, I don't even really care if you win the Iron Throne. I care about making my sister pay, and taking Casterly Rock and giving it to me will hurt her," he paused for a moment to gather his thoughts, "There is also the fact that Tommen is of a marriageable age. All Cersei has to do is find a noble bride for him, and your enemy will have a future to fight for. You need to strike hard and fast. Taking Storm's End from her will take away the Baratheon support. Taking Casterly Rock will take away the support of the Westerlands. Your alliance with the Crownlands means she is surrounded by enemies on her doorstep. All she has are the Ironborn, and your cousin is laying siege to Pyke. She has already lost the war, all you have to do is commit to the final steps, and perhaps even the people of King's Landing will raid the Red Keep and deliver her to you all tied up with a pretty bow."
The room was silent for a long time as the King and Queen stared at the unflinching eyes of Tyrion Lannister. Finally, the King looked first at his wife, and at her nod, leaned forward and began to speak,
"We can spare a small force to take Casterly Rock, and should your plan prove successful, then we will name you its rightful Lord. As to House Lannister's continued position as Lord Paramount of the Westerlands, that is something that will be discussed at a later point in time. That would be all for now, unless you have any other requests?"
Tyrion shook his head and began to walk away from the room, the two guards close behind. After the door closed, the King slumped against his seat.
"He used to be much more cheerful and less cynical."
"That was before five years of betrayal. It would change almost anyone Jon."
A sudden knock at the door caused the two to look up as a messenger entered the room.
"Your graces, Ser Davos Seaworth has arrived and is outside."
"Thank you, send him in."
Barristan watched as the two monarchs quickly composed themselves as the Onion Knight walked into the room. Barristan had spent some time with him, finding the man to be of good character and judgement.
"Your Graces, you sent for me?"
"Aye, we did, please sit. Tell me, before you became a knight, were you not once a smuggler, and an accomplished one at that?"
"I wouldn't consider myself an accomplished smuggler, but I had some skill. Why do you ask?"
"We were wondering if you could help us in smuggling someone specific out of King's Landing. Cersei has been holding him prisoner, and we believe that freeing him would be paramount towards gaining the loyalty of his family."
Seaworth was quiet for a moment, clearly taking the time to think through his response.
"I wouldn't be too helpful in looking through the black cells, seeing as I have never been there before, thank the Seven. If you can get this man to Flea Bottom, then I could get him back here to Dragonstone. Who is he?"
The King rolled over onto his back and caught his breath, listening to to his wife's breathing become more normal as well as time passed. He quickly pulled the covers back over their bodies and pulled Dany closer to him. They laid there in silence before Dany softly whispered,
"What did Lord Velaryon want to talk about with you?"
"He offered his son Monterys as a potential husband for Rhaella, citing the need to keep the Valyrian bloodline as pure as possible to continue our hold on the dragons, as well as the political benefits."
"Do you agree with him?"
Jon sighed in frustration.
"Our daughter is not even a year old, so I would rather not think of her as already married. I would rather not think of any of our children as married or betrothed right now."
"We agreed to the betrothal between Aemon and Alys once he and Visenya were born last month."
"We agreed to a tentative betrothal, and even then I'll not stand in the way of our children's happiness, regardless of the political benefits. We both grew up as a bastard and an exile because of our families sticking to these betrothals."
Dany sat up a bit, before resting her hand on Jon's shoulder.
"I agree with you as a mother, but as a Queen we must look to our duty to Westeros. The people still remember my father's reign of terror, and we need a secure realm. That means gaining alliances, and the best way to do that is through marriages."
"But what of their happiness, Dany? How can we deny them that?"
"I wish this world was different, that happiness could come before duty, but such a thing does not happen overnight. We can take steps to ensure their happiness, and to make sure that the people they have been promised to are of good character. Perhaps we can request that Alys and Monterys foster in King's Landing with us once we take the capitol, so we can keep an eye on them, and so that our children can grow up with and become friends with their intended."
The two were quiet for a long time as dawn's rays of sun began to shine through their window. Eventually Jon sighed and nodded as he got out of bed.
"As long as they are happy, I will be happy for them, that is all I can promise about this for now, Dany. In the meantime we need to get dressed and ready for our journey."
Dany nodded and the two were quick to dress in their furs for the cold. As she helped him buckle his armor together and strap Dark Sister to his side, she whispered softly,
"Are you sure you wish to do this?"
Jon frowned but nodded, looking out the windows towards the dragons.
"We have to. It has been far too long for us to ignore Robb as he has been doing to us. Even Dorne has allied themselves with us thanks to our rescuing of Prince Quentyn from King's Landing."
"What do you think we should do? It has been almost a year, and the North has been completely silent."
"I intend for us to fly to Winterfell and demand an explanation from Robb for why he has refused our offer of an alliance."
To stop anyone from jumping to conclusions, Jon is not going up North to attack it. He just wants to talk to Robb, who is aware he is on Dragonstone, and has been ignoring him. You will see why next chapter. Things up North are complicated, and are about to get even more so with many potentially awkward reunions coming up.
"I was but a child and you still hated me."
"What happened to the Kingslayer?"
"For the Watch."