She looks onward beyond the clouds that engulf most of the landscape. It filled the scenery with an aura of heaviness and seriousness which weighed her. The steep cliffs and the beaches were a shade darker than usual. She had arrived with cloudless, sunny skies. But it now felt like a mask the island put on to deceive her to believe everything would be easy. It must have been the thousandth day of dark cloudy skies and the occasional roaring storm. She always found pride in her titles but she started to resent her “Stormborn” one.
Cersei was terrorising into submission most of the Crownlands and northern reach houses. She had the Stormlands and the Westerlands. And if her master of whispers is to be trusted she has reached out to the leftover of the slave masters in Essos.
Just that made her blood boil with anger. All the years she stayed to right by all the slaves who suffered, just to reach this continent and have as her enemy someone that engages whom she fought against for many moons.
Not to mention, she had to entertain the many lords who arrived to swear fealty to her. She thanked them for their allegiance, and, most of the time, she enjoyed the conversations about the houses’ History and Culture. But the constant decorum, the gossiping and the exhaustion of trying to keep this recent “Court” stable wore her down.
They were mostly smaller houses from the Crownlands. Some houses from the Reach already warned that their lords would travel to Dragonstone to swear fealty to her. But she already had Houses Greyjoy, Tyrell and Martell on her side, which is a blessing.
She picked the book that filled most of her spare time nowadays. Daenerys had taken as a hobby reading about the seven kingdoms and its history. It would be disgraceful if she knew nothing about the land her birthright committed her to rule. And the great houses were more fascinating than she had presumed. House Martell, descendants of the Rhoynar, the only kingdom not conquered by Aegon Targaryen, it surely is a feat no other house can boast. The Tyrells successors of the Gardeners, stewards made wardens and one of the most powerful ones. House Lannister and their famous Rains of Castamere song and story. The Baratheons made lords by her ancestor just to betray them. House Arryn and their impregnable fortress. The Tullys, hmm a great House but if she were honest the least interesting. House Greyjoy and the ironborn, the ones who rebelled a few years after the Usurper took the throne, how amusing.
Finally, the wardens of the North. She exhaled. Dany was unsure whether to hate or forgive them. On one hand, they allied themselves with the Usurper and his dogs, and betrayed her house and murdered Rhaegar, Elia, Rhaenys and Aegon. But what her father did... It was unforgivable, and the incident that took place at the Tourney of Harrenhall with Lyanna Stark, she hardly believed in that story. Her brother wasn’t a rapist or a kidnapper. Even if the Starks abandoned their oath to her family, she still found their history the most interesting of the great Houses. From Brandon the Builder to the Winter Kings, the myths of giants, direwolves, wargs and countless amounts of legends. Daenerys thought the mystery of their culture so endearing.
She woke up from her trance with the sound of Missandei’s delicate steps in the room.
“Good morning, your Grace. How was your sleep?” she inquired while arranging the utensils needed to braid the Queen’s hair.
“Nothing special, just plain boring slumber. Akin to everything as of late.” She sighed sitting on the stool in front of the cupboard.
“Why won’t your Grace entertain yourself during dull times?” Missandei suggested “I heard the town here on the island is having an increase in people. You could visit them much the same your Grace and I used to do in Mereen.”
Dany rather liked that proposition and included that to her daily list. She might and earn her people’s trust and love.
“That’s an excellent idea. And I still want you to come with me, my friend.” She beamed at Missandei through the mirror, and she smiled back at her. They resumed in a comfortable silence as the Nathi woman braided Daenerys’ pale golden tresses and helped her dress herself. She put on a longer gown than her usual below the knee dresses enough to show the tips of her boots. It was a dark grey garment with light silvery stitching and fabric texture with deep red silk flowing skirts appearing in the middle cutout. The bodice felt rigid and hugged her figure tightly with a centre iron linked embroidery of dragon motives and wavy abstract elements that extended into the collar. She carried a single necklace of shiny silver links on her neck. She wove an accessory chain into her braids with small simple sculpted glistening flowers that provided a shining look to the top of her head. It offered the effect of a crown without being one.
The island’s population began to inflate due to the waves of migrants coming from every region of Westeros. Large numbers of lords from smaller houses were showing up at Dragonstone to swear fealty to her. The war councils, with the extra nobles of houses Celtigar, Valeryon, Brune and Bar Emmon, were starting today. Dany displayed her more royal side to garner the respect of everyone, including the many governors. She didn’t present herself to impress them with colourful embroidered silks, jewellery, crowns, and gold. She opted for a cool, ethereal, stern, Queen-like appearance.
She wandered through the pointed arched vaulted corridors of Dragonstone heading to the chamber of the painted table. She passed soldiers, servants and lesser nobles alike and they greeted her with looks of uncertainty, respect, and awe. The doors to the room open and she could see that her council sat on their seats before she had arrived. As she strolled to the edge of the table to Aegon’s seat, everyone stood, even the famed Olenna Tyrell. As she sat, everybody did.
“Thank you for your presence, my lords and ladies. What should we start with?”
“If I may your grace?” Her hand started. Daenerys acknowledged for him to continue.
“As of now, we have the aid of the Greyjoys, Dorne, houses Valeryon, Celtigar, Brune and Bar Emmon, most of the Reach except the lords my sister terrorized into submission.” He declared to everybody present.
Lady Tyrell quickly replied, “Smaller houses. As much as I know their fighting men united won’t measure above six thousand.” Tyrion nodded thanking the report.
“That’s less concerning, then. Every region and house loyal to us, the fifty thousand Dothraki fighters, the eight thousand strong Unsullied and, at last, the three full-grown dragons.” He wound up the thought. “Sets us, at the moment, leverage over our adversary. Which gives our front the flexibility to handle this conquest smoothly and maybe work a better strategic approach.”
The proposal wasn’t satisfying for Ellaria and intervened “This is war. You don’t win wars with politics. We need to strike King’s Landing now and get it over with.”
The dwarf urged, “If we can win the Iron Throne with fewer casualties and the people of Westeros loving our Queen, we should opt for that alternative. If we storm King’s Landing immediately, thousands will perish.”
It divided Dany, getting rid of Cersei would put an end to the people’s misery and oppression as soon as possible. But Tyrion was correct. Thousands would die if she used everything she had on King’s Landing, and she would become no better than what she always fought to not be, a mad Targaryen.
“Protecting the common folk should be our biggest priority. If another more peaceful way exists than that shall be our course of action.”
Olenna regarded her for a second, and asked, “Then how do you plan to win the seven kingdoms? By asking nicely?”
Although it was a jest against her, she couldn’t stifle a small smirk. The queen of Thorns lived up to her name.
The council went on for a moment until they established a solid strategy. A section of the Targaryen fleet will blockade the blackwater bay. While the lords Celtigar, Valeryon, Brune and Bar Emmon were called to unite the Crownlands’ houses to free other Targaryen loyalists in the region.
Daenerys and her dragons were to defend these lands if her hand’s sister attacked one house while their invading armies battled elsewhere. A modest part of the Tyrell host will take care of the Reach houses under Lannister command. The rest will guard the Westerlands border near Goldengrove, and the Stormlands border around the lands of House Peake to secure the harvests and resources the Reach can provide.
In the meantime, the Greyjoy fleet was competent for transporting the forty thousand Dornish to conquer Lannisport, and 500 unsullied to infiltrate Casterly Rock cutting the gold supply of the Lannisters.
As for the Riverlands, the previous wars depleted their fighting men and reserves, with part of it being allied to the Lannisters through the Frey’s and the other to the Starks.
Most members of the council had left the room. There only remained Varys, Tyrion and Daenerys. They went through the rest of the topics that needed addressing. They revised their plans about feeding the armies. The Reach would be responsible for most of the food. Her hand stated that they had approximately seventy to eighty strongholds. Not to mention the added hundreds of holdfasts in the regions. They would garrison them according to plan. She wanted her vast army to remain organised and fed.
But she started to see the implications of a big fighting force. Planning such a task was hard. She chose to pay as much attention and care to all the different men and woman that composed her infantry. Dany wanted nobody to feel forgotten or not important enough for consideration. It was the least she could do for their fealty. Later, she asked about the two northernmost regions.
“I couldn’t find sufficient information about the North and the Vale, my Queen. My little birds are few and hard to maintain contact, especially in the northern territories.” The spider said, “The only thing I can recall from my contacts in the Vale is that the Arryns remain in a neutral status.”
“That’s good to hear. We can deal with the Vale at another time. And we need not worry about the North, the war of the five kings and the death of Robb Stark depleted their fighting men. Not to mention they are leagues away from us so they shouldn’t…” Daenerys cut Tyrion off.
“Which is exactly the reason it’s imperative me knowing the circumstances up North. The easiest enemies are the ones closest to you. The more distant are seldom a problem, an enigma, and mystery is a vale we put in our eyes. We might think them insignificant because we can’t see the full spectrum. And I won’t fall prey to it.” She declared.
“That is true. But I still doubt the Starks will do anything which requires them to go beyond honour. And honour compels the opponent to be as clear as glass. It doesn’t allow for deceiving or ambushing.” Tyron reasoned, knowing the Stark family wouldn’t pull such a strategic tactic with their values.
“I can’t afford to have a blindside. As soon as I turn my back against the North is the moment where all possibilities can unfold. And I shall not risk surprises with them. So I advise you two on informing yourselves about the region.” Dany demanded, starting to become tired of her hand insisting on this matter.
“As you wish my Queen. We’ll do our best.” Tyrion relented, turning away
The Iron Islands’ fleet led by Euron Greyjoy arrived today. The ships submerged the docks in black and gold sails. The ports overflew with people and goods. She increased security and supervision throughout every gate in King’s Landing. She would know every individual person who either made in or desired to get out which she was certain that wouldn’t take place often. If the Dragon Bitch wanted to seize the capital, then she needed to go through the overcrowded people inside it.
“Qyburn did the masters respond to our offer?” she called for.
“Yes, your Grace, they are looking forward to conducting business with you,” he states, proud of the result of his negotiations.
“It sounds as though the Night’s Watch are alone now. Our prisoners and criminals will make us some coin this way.” Everything had moved according to plan. These Essosi masters were eager to buy new slaves.
“Also, update me on the state of our arrangement about the dragons,” the Queen demanded as she gazed at the docking ships.
“The groundwork is running smoothly my queen. We have produced 10 smaller scorpions, and we are finishing the third larger scorpion at this moment,” he explained.
“Good.” She beamed, wondering out loud “Let’s see if Euron Greyjoy is any worth to us,” she reared away from the balcony of her chambers.
Cersei was sitting on the Iron Throne looking ahead as they waited for the captain.
The doors opened and in entered a scruffy-looking fellow.
“You stand in the presence of Cersei of the House Lannister, First of Her Name, Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Protector of the Seven Kingdoms.” Qyburn declared, curious about how this meeting would proceed.
She could sense his eyes gazing her up and down. “It’s a pleasure to finally meet you, your Grace, although I’d suggest it would be more entertaining for me if it were in slightly different circumstances.” He taunted, provoking other not so formal encounters. He was a typical Ironborn, ragged clothes, a sloppy look, a golden tooth and a shrewd grin plastered in his face.
“You’ll insinuate that another time and I’ll have your tongue.” She scoffed at him putting him in his place. “I’m certain you’re used to that on your fleet either way.”
“You would find silence an exceptional punishment to use,” he retaliated.
“Let’s not waste any more time than necessary. I suppose you want something?” she suggested, straightforward starting to become irritated.
“I want to be king,” he set forth plainly.
She replied amused “How bold of you to consider you could ever.”
“I have the biggest fleet the seven kingdoms has ever seen, and thousands of soldiers. I travelled most of the world and endured countless dangers more serious than you.” he chuckled “So tell me now, who are you to defy me?”
She found him amusing, crazy and foolish but a particular charm and recklessness. But she revealed no interest glancing at him.
“Seize him,” she ordered.
The Queensguard grabbed him.
“Cut his throat.”
The Mountain held a dagger to his neck while he writhed to break free.
“Nevermind, I changed my mind. Let him go.”
They release him and he heaves.
“Step back three passes. Turn around.”
They oblige. Cersei and Euron are alone in the throne steps; he’s a bit shocked while she remains stoic.
“I am the Queen.” She stood firm as she moved closer, intimidating him.
“You are not the King. And I’m not sure you will be. But we can establish an alliance, make sure to do as I tell you and your ambitions can turn reality, or not.” she shrugs. “Depends if I feel like it.”
She takes one more step forward with eyes of steel, “Just know your place, and whom you are engaging with.” She emphasized while holding the stare-down, he smirks relenting “I’ll do that.”.
Asha and Theon Greyjoy head the Ironborn with the unsullied to Dorne, a fortnight after the council meeting. While the troops inland were mobilizing to their respective positions. They used a dozen ships to blockade the entrance of the Blackwater Bay. If there were any approaching enemies, they would warn them.
Varys spotted Daenerys talking to some lords and approached her with some scrolls. “Your Grace, may I speak with you for a moment?”
“What is it you wish to discuss Lord Varys?” she pours two cups of wine and offers him one.
He declines. “Oh thank you, your Grace, but I can’t accept. Nowadays, my alcohol consumption has tremendously dropped. I discovered as master of whispers its essential to keep a clear head constantly.“She smiles at him.
“What I needed to inform you is that I have news from the North and the Vale.”
She widens her eyes at this information and requests him to carry on.
“I’m not sure if your Grace will be pleased to learn. But after the Boltons took Winterfell the Ned Stark’s bastard Jon Snow and his half-sister Sansa Stark went around gathering help from other northern houses. They intended to reclaim their ancestral home.”.
She nodded, recognising the feeling of desiring to take back what is theirs. “Along the way, they even gained support from the Arryns. His sister and Petyr Baelish gathered the Knights of the Vale.”.
She recognised the name. “That name sounds familiar.”
He clarified. “He was the former master of coin. A treacherous man.” she nodded for him to continue.
“These knights of the Vale later were the turning point at the battle of the bastards making them victorious against Ramsay Bolton. After that, the Starks took back Winterfell and the northern lords with support from the Vale named Jon Snow King in the North.”
She knew something like this would arise. Half the continent was under another monarch; just the Stark territory itself is virtually as massive as the southern part of Westeros; it would be especially troublesome to conquer.
“Thank you, Lord Varys for this information. Make sure you keep updated about the incidents in the North. And have Tyrion write to Jon Snow that his queen invites him to Dragonstone to bend the knee.” stressing that last part.
“I’ll get onto it, your Grace,” he stated as he left the chamber.
As her plans started going in her favour, another king had to emerge out of nowhere.
She went searching for Missandei to go with her to the town. They were headed there accompanied by two unsullied guards that maintained a certain distance to not give away the Queen’s location. She tried not to gather too much attention as she strolled through the streets with her hood on, but the eyes were noticeable once she started talking to people.
She chatted with a cobbler and her daughter of one year, blessing the baby and offering some coins, making the mother pleasantly surprised and grateful for the Queen’s generosity. She continued on engaging with the town's folk. They would approach her with a fearful uncertain look. However, as they talked with her and gotten to know her better they would relax more.
“Maybe I should order the building of some infrastructure.” Dany mused, “As of now, this town is awfully unorganized.” she acknowledged.
There was a central square with a small fountain in the middle. But the rest was a mix of houses, shops, inns and brothels randomly built around winding streets with no previous planning. The buildings had either a dark greyish granite or an obsidian stone first floor, where you find most stores. Brown, brick or white plastered daub and wattle were used to build the higher stories.
Most roads were narrow, besides the occasional main road that led towards the square. There was a central inn on the plaza called Dragon’s Sea Rest. The construction was a weird thing, looked like it was built randomly throughout the years with different roofs and sections all over it.
In the same area situated the town’s Sept. It’s a somewhat big building, with tall narrow stained glass pointed windows. The exterior is decorated heavily with arches, pinnacles, spires, statues and dragon sculptures. The statues inside had been burned by Stannis' priestess. She would make sure to have them built again. The common folk didn’t seem bothered by the unorganized state of the town as they go on with their working lives. She still felt it had room for improvements.
“I think that’s wise your Grace. And the people will love you for it.” she granted. But after a moment of pondering about the idea, she adds, “But if I may advise you, be smart where your Grace spends her coin. In times of war, you never know when you’ll need supplies or other resources.” The Naathi woman pointed out shyly not wanting to overstep
“You are right, my friend,” Daenerys admitted. She sincerely replies as she turned towards her companion. “You are wiser than you give yourself credit for.” Missandei sensed a surge of pride for herself, and for this Queen that she chose. Whom behind her strong, determined, fearless facade lay a gentle, kind, and generous woman.
“It took me one moon to get here, but I finally arrived. We had some ups and downs along the way but nothing too bad.” She heard from a group of westerosi gathered around a shop front. “How are things up North? And why the hell did you leave in the first place?” the mentioning of the region caught her attention by surprise. She stopped in her tracks and listened carefully to the conversation.
“They are quite a mess. The Starks won back the North, which is a blessing from the Gods! Those Bolton fuckers were up to no good.” She had learned from Tyrion the incident of the Red Wedding and their torture practices. She despised them only for those stories and was glad they were gone from this world.
“But the North is tired, it lost so much for that shit war of the five kings just for them to be all dead now...” he sighed “But now it’s winter and the North is preparing, and I know what I’m about to say sounds far-fetched but the King is preparing the North to fight an enemy that’s comin' from the far North.” the surrounding people seemed amused by this.
“You northerners and your myths and legends. Don’t tell me you’ll be fighting the white walkers and giants.” The men, women, and children laughed at the absurd idea.
“I know what you think. I’m not here to convince you of this I’m not even sure if I fully believe that shit either way. But I’ve seen the King, he may be a bastard, but he’s honourable and a good man, he did everything he was able to do for the North, he was elected by the North to be king and he didn’t even want it. I trust him, and...” he uttered while waving his hands to the sky where occasionally a small shadow passed high above them.
“Look around you people, dragons! A Targaryen brought dragons back into the world!” he proceeded. “Nowadays it’s easier to accept the stories we were told when children. If it’s true or not I don’t care, I and my family had to get out of there, anyhow. Not that we were of much use to them, I and my wife are old and incapable of anything, and our daughter is missing a leg, I couldn’t afford to lose them to the true cold that’s settling up there.” he explained earning pitiful looks from some woman and children.
“Tell me something Old man why in the hell would you, a northerner, go to a Targaryen for? I figured everyone up there hated anything related to the dragons.” a mother in her forties asked.
He answered sincerely, “We had no other place to go. At White Harbour, the prices of a voyage to Dorne or the Reach were too high and we don’t have that much coin, not to mention the time it would take getting there, and let’s say I’m not the biggest fan of sailing. And after hearing that many people were heading to Dragonstone and weren’t getting burned alive, I figured why not?”
Daenerys flinched at the mention of the possibility she could burn everyone alive but continued on listening “It was the cheapest, hotter option it was worth the risk.”
Daenerys left the town with a heightened curiosity over this King in the North that people talked so fondly.
“Jon Snow sounds like an impressive man. From what they described of him, I could see certain similarities between him and your Grace.” She hinted smirking, “Is it true he has the support of two of the kingdoms you intend on ruling?”
“Yes, that’s correct. Another problem I’m not sure I know how to solve.” It frustrated Dany, as much as she admired her ancestor Aegon the Conqueror, she didn’t need to use violence and war mindlessly. Enough people have already died in recent wars; she didn’t want to be responsible for further unnecessary deaths. Still, she was unaware of how she could win the North, the region where surely they’ll hate and loathe her.
“If I may your Grace, you mentioned before we left from Mereen that the strongest way to create an alliance is through marriage. If conquering the North doesn’t seem a workable course of action than you could consider.” Missandei pointed out.
“I’m hesitant on that, my dear. I’ve already had two marriages that, honestly, weren’t the best.” She confessed, exhaling. “Yes, I came to love Drogo after a while, but as I look back on it, I think it was partially my survival instinct. It was rather traumatic in the end, even if because of it I was able to birth my children.”
“I totally understand, my Queen. But I would recommend keeping the possibility in your head. After all, an honourable, just and kind man doesn’t seem too unpleasant.” She suggested, trying to elevate her companion’s hopes.
“I’m looking forward to meeting Jon Snow. But I won’t make judgments before I meet him, for all I know that fellow could have had an utterly false idea of what the king is.” She insisted on trying to sound casual about him.
“That is true, my Queen. But you never know.”
“Yes, you never know.”