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.”
A heavy blanket of white covered the moors surrounding Winterfell. The wind blew harshly against his face, watering his eyes. He stood on top of the inner curtain walls, gazing at the lands. It was the day of the coronation and how he despised the grandeurs and protocol expected of him. He didn’t crave to be king, but he would accept the role to defend his home, his people and the Kingdom. He would’ve been happy if they’d left the ceremonies at the great hall when the lords declared him King in the North. But there was a whole list of things demanded of him.
They would hold the ceremony in the Godswood. Traditionally in Westeros, the coronation would take place in a sept with the High Septon. But he was of the North, he would honour northern customs and values. Either way, if he had to do this at least it would be near the heart tree. No other location has brought him so much peace and quiet. He recalled his time beyond the wall; there was a constant tranquillity present. But it always came allied with a chilly sense of danger. As often as he tried to blend in, even when he spent his days with Ygritte, he never felt safe knowing what was lurking in the shadows.
Jon walked along the battlements. He reached the stairs and went down to the courtyard close to the kennels. Strolling, he arrived at the kitchens. He spotted Hopkin the master cook preparing some meat. The servant noticed him and immediately greeted.
“Good afternoon, your Grace. What can I do for you?”
“Hopkin are we capable of affording this feast?” he inquired concerned he was wasting too many reserves.
“Well, I believe so, yeah. Our stores are almost full. I don’t see why we shouldn’t be able to.” he answered. “I’ve heard Lady Sansa talking to Lord Royce and maester Wolken of shipments of foodstuffs from every northern keep.”
“When did you hear this?” he demanded intrigued and confused why his sister hadn’t told him yet.
“I noticed them speak yesterday, your Grace. She was organizing resources and other household tasks such as making sure the armies’ armour was adapted to the cold climates,” the cook replied.
He nodded and peered around the room to every servant loyal to House Stark. “I’m worried about the future now that winter is finally here, and the dead come with it.”
He continued chopping vegetables as he glanced away. “Is it true?”
“What is?” Jon asked.
He hesitantly looked up at the King “The White Walkers… and the monsters up North.” He paused for a second. “Are they real?”
Not being capable of giving reassurances to Hopkin made him sad. He eyed him with a pitiful look. “Aye, all of it is true,” he stared at his feet, brooding about the countless dangers.
“At least, we have someone like you as King.” He replied honestly with a slight smile on his face. “If it wasn’t for you the North and the Seven Kingdoms would be doomed.”
Jon stared at the servant taken aback by the praise he gave him. “Thank you, Hopkin.”
The master cook nodded and returned to his task. He strode away and entered the yard once again. Hundreds of people arrived at Winter Town and at Winterfell. Most of the northern lords were already here to be present during the coronation. Dozens of servants went in and out of buildings carrying food, buckets of water, wood and all kinds of materials and objects that made running the castle possible.
He walked towards his study climbing several flights of stairs and passing many rooms until arriving. He found maester Wolken, Lord Royce, his sister and Davos sitting already on the stools in front of his desk.
They all muttered, “Your Grace,” greeting him. “Greetings my Lords and Lady,” he said, looking at Sansa specifically.
He bounded towards his seat. “When were you going to tell me you requested all houses to send their food stores?” he asked slightly annoyed she didn’t warn of this earlier.
“I’m sorry, Jon. I should have told you sooner. But I arranged that when you were with the Lords to discuss the economy and demographics of the land. The meeting took so long I later forgot to tell you.” she answered guiltily.
“It’s fine, but from now on, please inform me as soon as you can. If you need, ask a servant to drop a letter if I’m not available,” he asked of her. She nodded at his demand.
The maester coughed, making everyone pay attention. “Your Grace, the farmers that are taking care of the glass gardens suggest extending them. They say they reformed some methods they were using and the yields are substantially greater. Expanding them could provide us with a more reliable food source for the Winter.” He clarified.
Feeding the people was obviously something he should prioritize with winter here. “Wouldn’t that cost too much?” He turned to his adviser. “And if not, are we able to afford it, Ser Davos?”
“The North’s treasury is currently low but increasing rapidly. The Boltons weren’t exactly the most knowledgeable regarding money and spent most with restorin’ the castle. But, since you Starks won over, the logging camps of the northern forests resumed a steady influx of logs and wood planks. This attracted a lot of Bravoosi traders eager for new places to import lumber from.”
“Surely that wasn’t enough to boost the income?” Sansa doubted wood exports would make a huge difference in the North’s profit.
“No. But these merchants gave us more contacts with other Free Cities and territories. When in the past they would import goods from other regions with a higher cost, now they turn to the northern market for silver, wood, glass, and other stuff that are cheaper than most places.” He also added. “I too may have asked a friend of mine to help spread the news of the North.” He concluded. “So yes, we will probably be capable to afford it.”
Jon smiled at his advisor. “That’s excellent work Davos. Maester Wolken make the preparations and estimate the costs of the extra glass houses. All the food produced that won’t be able to be stored in the warehouses will be given to the town’s folk in Winter Town.”
The maester stood from his chair. “I’ll get right on to it, your Grace.” he bowed and left.
“When will the northern armies march to Winterfell?” Sansa asked.
“It’s better to have our army spread as wide as possible. The resources can deplete quickly if they are all in the same place. So I suggest ordering them to march in a fortnight; the journey can take about two weeks for most Houses.” Lord Royce explained.
“All right, get the maester’s apprentice to write to all the keeps informing them of the plan,” she ordered.
Lord Royce lowered his head in respect. “At once, my Lady.” He turned to the King and bowed, “Your Grace.” He nodded.
Sansa sighed and leaned on her chair. Jon brushed his hand over his face and stood over to the hearth, adding more logs. He returned and slouched on the seat.
“No one said restorin' a kingdom would be easy.” Davos chuckled seeing these kids tired. “It’s a shit job. But worth it in the end. Especially when you have ice monsters coming to kill ya,” he joked.
“That’s true. Whenever I’m distressed, I remember death will come for us all and I forget everything but the duty entrusted in me.” She confessed. The door suddenly opened and in came the maester with a hesitant look.
Jon stood confused on how he was so quick. “Maester Wolken, have you managed the glass gardens already?”
He went further into the room. “No, not yet. But a raven appeared as I was doing the estimations for the costs. It’s for you, your Grace.”
Jon was handed a scroll with blood-red wax. Looking at the sigil he widened his eyes in shock. A Targaryen… the three-headed dragon was staring up at him on the lacquer. He wondered why the hell had he received a message from a Targaryen. Jon imagined it must be Daenerys Maester Aemon’s great, great niece? He wasn’t sure if there was another great to add.
His sister stood up and moved near him. “Whose it from Jon?” she asked with curiosity.
“House Targaryen,” he said simply.
Davos and Sansa glanced at the scroll shocked. Sansa leaned in and saw the seal.
“Well, open it, lad,” Davos insisted.
He broke the wax, opened the letter, and read it out loud.
To Jon Snow,
Queen Daenerys of House Targaryen, First of Her Name, Rightful Heir to the Iron Throne,
invites you to Dragonstone. The Seven Kingdoms haven’t seen peace and prosperity for a
long time. Join our forces of the Reach, Dorne, the Iron Islands, the Crownlands, Dothraki,
Unsullied and three dragons. Together, we can end Cersei’s reign of tyranny and start a
new era. For all dwarfs are bastards in their father’s eyes.
Tyrion Lannister, Hand of the Queen
“Not sure if that’s a threat or an invitation,” his advisor admitted.
Jon paced around the room as he revised all options in his head.
“She’s the daughter of the man that burned our uncle alive and strangled our grandfather. We must keep that in mind,” she said.
“I’m more worried about the dangers of this request rather than if her ancestor was evil or not. I won’t judge her for the sins of her father,” he stated. “But would Tyrion ally himself to a mad Targaryen? I’ve only been with him for a short period. What do you make of it?” he asked Sansa.
She pondered looking through the window. “I’m uncertain. He’s different from the other Lannisters. He was always kind to me. I’d like to think he wouldn’t work for an undeserving person, but I’m not sure.”
“Your Grace, you once said that fire kills whites,” Davos pointed out. Jon looked at him and knew what he would say. “What breathes fire?”
“I would advise sending an emissary, but if you still choose to go, at least wait two days after the coronation. It would offend the Lords if the day after you receive your crown you went south.”
“You’re right,” he confessed.
“So you’ve decided? You’re going south?” she asked, reluctantly.
“I have to Sansa. I was trying to avoid thinking of how fucked we are, but we really are!” he exclaimed. “Her armies and her dragons just might give us a chance of surviving this war.”
“Then, as I suggested, send someone else. What happens to the North if our King dies?” she insisted.
“Sansa she’s a Queen. It has to be me. Only another monarch can convince her of the northern threat.” he pleaded.
She still wasn’t convinced. She darted towards him and embraced him tightly.
“I don’t want you to die,” she admitted.
“I won’t, I promise.”
“How can you say that when you already have?” She tightened the embrace. He had no words to answer that, so he just kept quiet and returned the hug.
“Don’t you worry, Lady Sansa. I’ll be right there with him making sure he does nothing stupid,” Davos reassured her.
“Davos, I need you to write to White Harbor to warn them of our journey, and we’ll be leaving in four days,” Jon requested.
“At once, your Grace. My Lady,” he bowed and exited the room.
“So, are you ready?” she asked.
“Ready for what?”
“The coronation,” she clarified. His sister strolled towards a chest in a corner of the study and picked up some fabrics from it. “Since this is a very important day for you, I commissioned some new clothing pieces. I would make them myself but had no time. I figured you are a King now so I could improve your wardrobe.” He grinned at her and took the items in his hands.
“You didn’t need to do that. But thank you either way.”
“I wanted to. And really you shouldn’t be wearing the same outfit over and over.” she quipped. He chuckled at that. She moved to the door. “I’ll leave for you to get ready.” Before she exited, she added. “And please don’t be late.”
His sister’s care made him smile once more while he looked over the clothes. She gifted him a faded greyish ochre tunic similar in colour to the Stark sigil green. The fabric was soft with precise stitching. A dark ashy sleeveless surcoat came second. A lighter material than he’s usually padded surcoats, and it hit just below the knee. Last, a similarly coloured grey mantle identical in length to his cloak but much less heavy and the leather straps were replaced with iron pieces that locked onto his breastplate.
He changed into the clothes for the ceremony, starting with thick woollen breeches and shirt. He put on his tunic and surcoat and then went over to the other side of the room where his new armour rested. When the coronation was announced, the master armourer began making this set for him. The pieces weren’t overly complicated. Only the breastplate had lines hammered onto it as a decoration and a Stark direwolf sculpted in the middle. At last, he fastened Longclaw at his left.
As he looked in the mirror, he was slightly taken back with the change. It wasn’t exponentially more rich-looking. It still had a worn, northern, battle ready air to it. He admired the strong stern aura it gave him. He never was one to appreciate extravagance, silks, expensive fabrics and detailed armour pieces. So this was a perfect balance between his usual boring, simple self and the King like appearance he had to portray.
He exited the room and found Davos already waiting for him. “Your Grace, don’t take this as an insult, but I think it’s the first time I see you looking as though you’re someone of importance.” He laughed, adding. “You look great, by the way.”
“I was never the one to worry about appearances or clothes and I won’t be. But yes, I admit it’s good to have something new. A breath of fresh air.”
“Fresh air, indeed. I’ve ordered the servants to cleanse your old garments. Was starting to think there was something dead in there.” He quipped. Jon laughed outright at that. They proceeded until they arrived at the gates. From there, he could hear the assembled crowd. The common folk were first clustered together trying to get a better view of the soon to be monarch. Then appeared the nobles and finally the individuals closest to him. He strode through the path cleared for him, and he saw Sansa smiling. Lyanna Mormont was in the cluster with a proud look on her face. He arrived at the spot facing the heart tree and the small lake.
“Who comes before the Old Gods tonight?” The maester asks.
“Jon Snow comes here to ask the Gods’ blessing for his new reign as King in the North.” Davos declares.
He kneels in front of the weirwood.
“The Gods shall grant a long and prosperous dynasty. Let Jon Snow, the White wolf, guide our Kingdom with wisdom, compassion, courage and honour.” The maester picks up the crown that rested on a deep green velvet pillow. He hadn’t seen it till then. They created it from a pair of thick rings of iron that twisted and turned with 7 spikes. One of them was taller and had two direwolves at the sides with a sapphire in the middle. It looked strong like the winter kings.
“I now proclaim Jon Snow son of House Stark, King in the North and the Gift and Protector of the Northern Kingdom.” The maester placed the heavy object on his head and he could feel the weight of it and the border lined with a velvet-covered leather strip. He was thankful that was the case; He already had plenty of headaches he needed nothing helping on that. “Arise King Jon.” He stood.
“Long may he reign.”
“Long may he reign,” the crowd followed repeating. And suddenly a wave of cheers and applause erupted filling the Godswood with life and people rejoicing. Many lords congratulated him and patted his back. The gathering moved to the great hall where the feast would take place. He could see Ghost at the end of the Godswood nipping on a bone and he smiled at the sight.
Everyone was already gathered in the hall, the great wooden doors opened, and everyone stood in respect. He strode through the centre aisle. He could see all the representatives from every house in the North. He glanced and saw the Mormonts, Hornwoods and Karstarks. Also the Cerwyns, Manderlys, Glovers and Umbers with little Ned on his toes trying to get a better view. After some moments he reached the table in the dais and stood in front of his throne. Everyone knelt in unison.
"Arise." He ordered, "And please enjoy the festivities."
They sat at the high table overlooking the hundreds of families gathered in the large room. The servants brought to them all kinds of courses. First, beef and barley stews then came lamprey pies and cod cakes. The servings of mutton cooked in a thick broth of ale and onions arrived next with a refill on honeyed wine and for the Lords Summerwine. The supper was an eccentric thing. People laughed, stumbled, sang, and chatted throughout the hall. He occasionally enjoyed conversations with his sister, Davos or the many nobles that sought after details of his extensive resume as a leader and a hero. But one subject kept digging in his mind.
His journey south. He had to admit he was curious about meeting this Dragon Queen. Dragons! I mean who wouldn’t wish to see that. He remembered hearing about her when he belonged to the night’s watch. Master Aemon had spoken fondly of her deeds. Freed slaves throughout all Essos. Conquered city after place after city. Amassing the biggest army in decades with three dragons. That surely is a remarkable life story. Of course, he had heard of the songs about the Queen’s beauty. But he knew already how exaggerated the singers were. And, besides, it didn’t matter at all to him. He has met beautiful, powerful women less than all the unfortunate girls in Fleabottom combined. One of those being Cersei Lannister.
But what would she be like, would she trust him? Would she behead him at first sight? Maybe she would burn him… He wanted to paint an idea of her, but he simply couldn’t. He didn’t learn about her enough to expect something in specific. Guess time will tell and, until then, he had to plan every outcome possible, so he reacts accordingly.
He felt someone shaking his arm. “Jon! Are you here?” He recognised the voice of his sister. He blinked his eyes twice and replied, “Aye, what is it?”
“The servants wish to ask if they can start serving dessert,” she explained.
“Aye.” He nodded towards them. They brought baked apples with yellow cheese, sweet cakes, buns with raisins bits of dried apple and pine nuts, and other sweets.
“What were you brooding about?” he glanced at her, and she was watching him intrigued before continuing munching on lemon cakes.
“Nothing of importance.” he dismissed.
She hummed. “Well, one thing I’ve discovered from Littlefinger is that everyone says that the Dragon Queen is very beautiful.”
He furrowed his brows. “What are you implying?” he asked defensively. Did she figure out what he was thinking all along?
“Calm down, Jon. I’m just stating a fact. It’s good for us to learn every detail about this Queen before you go parley with her.” She reasoned, “Maybe she’d try to seduce you into submission.”
He scowled at that, “I would never betray the North’s faith like that. You know me, Sansa, even when I was a boy I didn’t surrender myself to superficial urges,” he affirmed.
She pleaded, “I know Jon. Please, before you lash out at me, you would let me finish.”
He relented. “Go on.”
“I wasn’t suggesting you would fall prey to that scheme. I was just saying she would pull off that move. We need to be prepared for everything.”
“You keep mentioning we but it is me who’s going south to meet her.”
She clarified, “I know, but I need to be in the same standing as you if something were to happen.”
Even after all the political savvy moves she would play, Jon still managed to be impressed by how much his sister had grown. She had been a young, naive and occasionally mean girl. And now an intelligent, kind, perceptive, beautiful young woman.
“You’re good at this,” he recognized. The sudden compliment surprised her. “You’ve constantly known how to play politics and pleasantries. The perfect lady.”
“You realize that’s not accurate at all.” She turned to him and clasped his hand. “I was such an idiot when I was young. When I lived with the Lannisters, even after all I had gone through, I nevertheless was naïve and hopeful of a pink, bright future. When I got out of there, I still made too many stupid mistakes, and I paid the price for it. And now I’m struggling on running the household and continue to mess things up. I’m a slow learner. But, eventually, I learn.”
She took his other hand. “And you! I’ve never seen such an apt leader ever. You are the true definition of what a King should be. You protect people, you are kind and generous and your priority is never yourself it’s always your duty. Do you make mistakes? Yes. Are you an honourable fool sometimes? Yes, but the qualities you have surpassed all of that.” She smiled at him encouragingly.
He smirked. “You realise you just called you’re King a fool, right?” She chuckled at that and gave him a light slap on the shoulder. “Oh, you…!”
Jon offered a genuine smile. “Thank you, Sansa. For everything.” She nodded in response.
“I’ve enjoyed the day, but it’s time for me to retire for the night,” he said to everyone sat at the high table. As he stood up, the hall gradually quieted down.
He stared at all of them awkwardly before saying, “Everybody, please, remain enjoying the feast as much as you like.”
And with that, he spun around and headed to his chambers.
He was racing with the wolves. At least he thought he was. Trees were going by him in an instant. Lakes, birds, deer, grass, worms, hares, bushes, dirt. He smelled everything around him and the pine scent. And the blood. He felt anxious. A warm feeling in his belly that nagged at him. He needed to find something that could satisfy this need burning hot inside of him. He ran mindlessly for hours and hours but he didn’t notice an ounce of sweat, fatigue our hungriness.
Suddenly, everything was a daze around him, trees and rocks blended together, and the skies turned an aggressive shade of red. Is this hell? No, Hell wouldn’t feel like this. The now distinguishable flames surrounding him kissed and warmed him with loving care that no one had ever shown him before, soothing his burning ache. But it wasn’t enough to satisfy.
Clouds. He was flying. It felt wrong and right at the same time. The snow, trees and rocks called him. But he kept on going. He didn’t understand what was happening to him, it was all so confusing. All these emotions and feelings began to consume him. Resentment, betrayal, hope, sadness, desire, happiness, anger, forgiveness, revenge.
Then all went black. Everything that had been fighting before suddenly belonged in a symbiotic amalgamation. A calm crept through his spine and nerves all over his body. But it stopped at the missing piece, like a necklace without its precious stone. However small it is, it could give life a whole new meaning.
Steps. He was climbing steps. He glanced ahead trying to see beyond the fog, but for no veil. He kept on going up, struggling to reach the top, but for every stride he took, one step was added. The frustration came in a wave, making him pant and climb faster. Then hit the desperation. It was suffocating. The panic was too much. He needed to look at what was beyond the mist if it could be the missing piece that was left. The air got thicker. The steps were steeper. The temperature, colder. And the place darker. His eyelids felt heavy. And his lungs smaller. Trying to inhale for one last time…
“Jon!” someone called. He tried looking behind him but his body was locked in chains.
“You need to fly, Jon!” he heard. “Who -re… you?” he gasped.
“I’m your mother.”
The world fell apart at that word and the air suddenly filled his lungs. His eyes glowed. His legs felt strong and ready and the steps returned to their original form. He relaxed, looking around finding no one.
“Where are you?” he asked, eager to finally meet her.
“I’m here, with you, son.” She had such a soothing voice that could temper his still burning gap inside him.
“I can’t see you.” Not being able to look at his mother filled him with sadness.
“Don’t you worry my sweet. I’ll always be here by your side. But you have to fly now.”
“But mother I don’t understand. I can’t fly, I have no wings,” he answered, puzzled.
“Throughout your life, you’ve always run. It is time for you to fly.”
“But how do I do that?” he asked.
“Just feel it, my son. Feel inside you and you know you will.” The voice became more distant. “I need to go now, my dear. I’m so proud of you, my son.”
Tears blurred his vision, and his heart ached.
“Please don’t go! I’ve only met you now,… please!” he begged. He never in his life wanted something more than for his mother to be with him.
The voice became even more distant. “You’ll do great things, Jon. Know that I’ve always loved you and always will.”
She left him there alone and weeping. The tears came freely, and he didn’t even bother trying to contain them. The emotions were overwhelming and exploding in his heart.
But that quickly ended when an unbearable pain stabbed at his back. He felt his bones cracking and twitching, his muscles spasming and his blood rushing. Nothing had ever hurt so bad, not even when he died at the hands of his brothers. He couldn’t stand the pain. Cold shivers ran through his body until he passed out.
Opening his eyes, he recognised his chamber’s ceiling. He was drenched in sweat and huffing. He got out of bed and went to open the window. The chilly wind and the forest scent helped him calm down. He never had such a dream before; it was bizarre. Nothing made sense for him now. A forest, then flames, a staircase, even his mother? He didn’t know how to process what he had just experienced. But still kept it locked in his mind.
“My lords. As you already know, the North and all seven kingdoms are facing an unusual deadly threat,” he told to the assembled people in the Great Hall. “And the maesters in Oldtown have previously announced that winter has finally come. And it’s predicted to be the coldest, longest one in generations.” He rose from his throne and made it to the middle of the room.
“The North is already troublesome to provide for itself during summer. During this winter it’s paramount to establish allies that can trade with us for food.” He eyed all of them and continued, “I received a message from a friend concerning the northern threat. Right now, the only ways to kill a white is with fire or dragonglass. Samwell Tarly an apprentice at the Citadel and a brother of mine has informed me that Dragonstone sits on a mountain full of caves of obsidian.”
The nobles mumbled their understanding, but most of them noticed there was more to say, “I have also received another message. This one came from Dragonstone two days ago by Tyrion Lannister.” As he finished the word a wave of insults, grumbling and plain discontent towards this news erupted in the hall. After a few seconds, Sansa demanded sternly “My lords please calm yourselves.” This made everybody quiet down and look ashamed.
“Tyrion Lannister has invited me to Dragonstone to meet with Daenerys Targaryen. And I’m going to accept.” Everyone gasped and gaped at that.
“You mustn’t my King she’s the offspring of the mad King! Dragonspawn!”
“It’s a trap. They’ll kill you, your Grace!”
“Her father killed you’re uncle and grandfather!”
All the lords were yelling their reasons on why he shouldn’t go. He was tired of all of this. Why couldn’t they understand that the North wouldn’t stand a chance? Hells! He wasn’t even sure if the Targaryen army would be enough to win this battle.
“We need allies, my lords!” his voice echoed throughout the hall, silencing everyone.
“Fight is all I’ve done since I left home. Fighting for the Night’s Watch, for the Freefolk, for the North. And all of that time I was battling the same foe. This enemy won’t care if you’re a crow, a Freefolk, a Northman or a Targaryen. And mark my words when I say that not even the whole northern people together would stand a chance against the Others.”
He halted for a second looking at everyone in the eye. “You’d rather me letting your husbands and wives, sons and daughters die at the hands of them? Then I’m sorry but I’ll have to accept the invitation, the North would suffer even before the Great War arrived because of our lack of food. And the Reach has already allied themselves with Queen Daenerys.” He saw some people accepting his mission.
“And if it is to be believed. The Targaryen army is comprised of a hundred thousand Dothraki, eight thousand Unsullied, the Reach, Dorne, the Iron Fleet, some Crownlands houses and three grown dragons.” Everyone widened their eyes at this information and started murmuring.
“Tell me if we stay here boasting about our independence and the Dragon Queen wins the Iron Throne, what stops her from conquering us next? And do you expect we can win against her?” No one responded.
“I must go. It is our strongest chance of survival. It’s in the best interest of the North and our people.”
The men were already saddling the horses and gathering resources for the journey. White Habour already were aware of their impending arrival and would offer them a ship for the travels.
"It's always hard saying goodbye." He turned seeing his sister walking towards him.
"Aye, ever since we left Winterfell all those years ago, goodbyes have felt bitter," he admitted. She frowned at that and looked pensive at her feet.
"I'm sorry, I'm not the best at comforting others." he smiled weakly.
"It's fine. We have to keep ourselves grounded," she said.
He looked at her for a second before embracing her in a tight hug. They stood there for a moment before breaking off.
"Take care of it while I'm away," he said looking around the courtyard.
"Don't worry. I'll make sure everything is right," she answered.
"I know you will."
He gave one last smile then headed towards his horse. A black stallion strong and lean, with a long straight mane and big black eyes. His colouring matched his features. He mounted it and saw Ghost bounding up to the group that was preparing to leave.
"Are you sure you want to take Ghost with you?" she asked.
"Positive. I get restless when I spend too much time away from him. We have a connection." He explained, adding, "and besides, the Dragon Queen isn't the only one to have their house's sigil as a companion." he jested.
She smiled at him and nodded her head.
"Are you ready, your Grace?" Davos asked.
"Aye. As ready as I'll ever be," he responded.
They opened the gates and their group galloped away, heading for White Harbour.
Hey guys, just checking in to say that I'll probably start working on some illustrations for certain scenes in this fic so stay tuned for that xoxo
Thank you for reading!
P.S.: fuck season eight
She was trying hard to not be expectant and to not disclose any eagerness, but after that conversation with Missandei, she dared to have an insignificant little speck of hope. Was she being silly? Naive? Maybe she was. But if she thought about it, she was just a young woman. Is it really a sin for me to desire and dream?
As she pondered to herself more, the ridiculousness of it washed over her. She had made peace with the role she had to play in life; she wasn’t allowed to crave superficial wishes. She was born to be the Mother of Dragons, the Breaker of Chains, she couldn’t afford to have weaknesses and foolish wants. She mustn’t cry or fail. She has too many people depending on her. I need to be their strength when they need it.
“Your Grace, our watchtowers reported a Stark ship five leagues away from here. They expect it will arrive tomorrow at noon.” Varys said.
She turned from the balcony to the painted table where her master of whispers, her hand and Missandei sat.
“Have the servants prepare rooms for them. I don’t foresee they’ll be more than a dozen,” she replied.
Tyrion was drinking the wine as he asked, “Your Grace do you know much about the Starks?”
“I’ve read about Brandon the Builder, the Winter Kings, and Torrhen Stark. But after the rebellion I’ve read small amounts about them, so no,” she answered. She went to her chair, sat down and grabbed a glass.
“Well, let’s say that if for every wrongdoing done to you, you’d get a coin. The Starks would be quite rich right now. My family has toyed with them. My sister’s son killed Ned Stark on false accusations and tormented Sansa for years. Robb, the Stark heir, began a war against us. He was winning plenty of battles until he broke an oath by marrying another woman besides Walder Frey’s daughter. They butchered him and his whole army in a wedding at the twins.” she scowled at that.
Tyrion had mentioned of the betrayal from the Boltons but he hadn’t explained the circumstances.
“The Greyjoys had been pillaging for decades the western shores of the North and they took Winterfell. Even their own bannermen as I have told you already.” She nodded sipping from the wine cup that rested on the table.
“If everything goes well, Westeros won’t see deceit, betrayal and backstabbing if I can prevent it,” she stated.
“It’s easier said than done,” Tyrion noted.
“My lord, you’d agree that I have faced greater odds. Peace and prosperity shouldn’t be an impossible feat.”
“Your Grace, of all the people here, you know best how different is taking a throne from ruling it. And if our history is of any sign, our council needs to improve on certain aspects to make the dream of peace and prosperity a reality. Mereen was a test. This is the real deal. And believe me when I say that it won’t be easier.” her hand declared.
Tyrion’s undermining of her capabilities slightly irritated her. But she decided not to comment. I mean, Mereen had been different. I was a foreigner. I had to rule and learn a city and its culture and abolish the slave trade. But was she really a westerosi? Would she know her people and understand them? Honestly, she didn’t realise exactly who she was. There was a time she considered herself a bravoosi. Then she became a Khaleesi. Then the Queen of Mereen. And now... the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. But she was certain on one part. She had remained a Targaryen through all of it.
“So tell me my lord Hand. Have you come up with solutions for our lack of skill in ruling?” she said half sarcastic.
He sighed. “Right now, the only thing we can do is to entertain the court. Perhaps some festivities. Speaking of it, I had a brilliant idea,” he grinned as he poured more wine for the people present.
“Dragonstone, as of now, is home to an enormous amount of nobles. As important as they may be, they are boring, self-righteous and quite frankly lacking in the intelligence and culture department. So let us organise evenings of knowledge and intellect, where we invite everyone that has anything exceptional to show or teach. There can be literature, new inventions, philosophy...” the Spider cut him off.
“My lord I won’t deny that intelligence and learning are important, but I must remind you, we are at war. We mustn’t distract ourselves from the main focus.”
Varys was right. she couldn’t entertain other matters besides the war. But she admitted that Tyrion’s idea intrigued her. She always had a love for books since she was a child. The wonders she saw in the free cities and throughout Essos had sparked her interest in science, magic and arts.
“But that is where you are wrong, Lord Varys. You and I both understand that knowledge is power. Imagine what we could discover if we invite anyone from the lowest peasant to the richest king from around the world to spread their beliefs and findings. And, besides, our war isn’t just soldiers, lands and gold; it’s most importantly the people. Our greatest disadvantage is that we are too diverse. On one hand, that’s something positive, on the other, the Lords of Westeros won’t relate to your Essosi folk. These gatherings not only would develop relations and make them more receptive towards these cultures but also will help us know what these nobles are made of.”
Everyone stared at him. Varys first apprehensive now accepting the proposal.
“I see the merit in this endeavour, my Queen. Most people judge our kind mostly because they don’t understand or know about us.” Missandei admitted.
“Very well. I’ve always had an interest in higher studies and arts. At least it will make the court less dull. Organise these every week. And Varys would you spread the word through Westeros and Essos?”
“Your Grace,” he nodded.
“Also, your Grace, I have some military propositions,” Tyrion said. Dany acknowledged for him to continue.
“Dragonstone sits nearly 400 miles from King’s Landing. Not a short distance but still not a long one. I’d say the possibilities of an attack are high. I advise arming the turrets on the surrounding walls with trebuchets, catapults and scorpions and reinforce the postern gates.”
“That is sound advice my Lord, but we don’t have the wealth to spend in such a task. And I definitely want to keep a big amount safe for emergencies,” she responded.
“I understand my Queen. Maybe start slowly on this project and as the money comes in from the trade and taxes, we continue on.” her hand suggested.
“Fine. Search for carpenters, smiths and stonemasons,” Tyrion nodded and noted it on his parchment. “Now that’s settled, is there any news that I must know?” she asked.
“Not that I know of, your Grace,” Varys replied. Her hand acknowledged that there had been no new ravens.
“Then the council is dismissed until further notice,” Everyone besides Missandei left.
She stared at the table frowning at it. Conquering seemed much more one-dimensional, ruling had so many underlinings to it.
“Your Grace is stressed. Shall I have the servants draw a bath for you?” she asked.
“Yes, please. Thank you Missandei.” She was left alone then.
She exited the chamber and headed towards the throne room. There were a dozen people strolling throughout. She spotted a plump little fellow garbed in dark blue clothes.
“Your Grace... it’s... a pleasure... to meet you,” he stuttered and quickly adding “I’m Duram Bar Emmon, Lord of Sharp Point,” he declared while kissing her hand. She smirked at the nervousness of the boy. He must be some years younger than her.
“The pleasure is all mine, my Lord. I thank you for your presence and loyalty to House Targaryen,” she replied with a sweet grin.
“Well, your Grace lauds me... It was the least we could do. Queen Cersei wouldn’t stop raising taxes and demanding our troops and resources.” he confessed with a nervous half-smile.
“I intend to end that. Until then, we have a war to win, and I’m sure you understand the risks you take by siding with me being so close to the enemy.” she cautioned.
“Of course, your Grace. My house is ready to deal with whatever comes,” he said with increased confidence.
She smiled at him marvelling at the young spirit behind this boy. “I’m sure you will.” With that, she continued on the hall stopping to nod at a few lords and ladies that bowed before her.
She observed three fellows, two of them blatantly gawking at her. She found it amusing but revealed nothing while strolling forward with a calm queenly posture. She lifted her eyebrow as she didn’t get any response from the men in front of her. That had roused them from their state, shaking their heads a bit and taking a hold of themselves. They muttered in unison as they bowed.
“My lords.” she acknowledged.
“I’m Leo Blackbar, Lord of Bandallon, your Grace,” a quiet, dainty man. With dark brown hair, pale skin and blue eyes. Doesn’t appear weak, but would rather pick a book than a sword.
“And I’m Mathis Rowan, Lord of Goldengrove and Marshall of the Northmarch, your Grace,” a confident one, borderline arrogant she could sense. With ashy blond locks, olive eyes and an immaculate physique. Though she had to concede, he wasn’t a dreadful sight.
“Baelor Hightower, heir to Leyton, Lord of the Hightower and Beacon of the South at your service, my Queen.” a charming fellow, of similar age to her. With Brown honey locks, blueish-green eyes and a lean figure. The one that seemed the least boot-licker of the three. Not as comely as Lord Rowan, but a beautiful radiant smile adorned his face.
“It is a pleasure to meet you all, and House Targaryen is immensely grateful for the loyalty of your Houses, my lords. It won’t be forgotten,” she said.
“The thrill is ours, your Grace.” Lord Rowan stared at her intensely while reaching for her hand, “ever since I first learned of the exiled Targaryen’s stories of her conquest and beauty I’ve hoped to one day meet and swear fealty. And the time has finally come.” he said while laying a kiss on her fingers.
She wasn’t wooed and wouldn’t be. The same old game she had experienced from multiple men. The expressions of disgust from Lord Blackbar and disinterest from Lord Hightower amused her.
“You flatter me, my Lord, but I’d argue my beauty is as formidable as you say. There are countless beautiful women around the world. I’ve heard even pleasure houses, particularly in Lys, have more extraordinarily lovely women,” she said knowingly.
He flared his nostrils slightly looking a bit ashamed and angered. “It is indeed quite a popular business that sometimes ensnares men leaving them addicted.” She wondered why had Varys shared so many uninteresting gossips of the Westerosi Lords, but now she understood how useful they could be. Lord Blackbar was containing his laughter while Baelor Hightower was smirking.
“My Queen, I wanted to inform you on behalf of my father that Houses Peake and Tarly have both allied themselves with the Lannister usurper,” said Baelor.
This news surprised her; she had to talk to Olenna about it; she thought only some northern houses had turned to Cersei’s side.
“Thank you for the information, my lord, I’ll speak with Lady Tyrell as soon as I can,” he nodded respectfully.
“Something must be done to these treacherous Houses. When the Reach army is deployed, I can lead the front against them in your name, my Queen.” Lord Rowan proposed.
“I praise your bravery, my lord, but your house is in the northern part of the Reach. And, besides, this campaign should present itself to be quite complicated I wouldn’t want to burden you with such a task. You’ll be able to defend the northern Marches as your title mentions,” she responded. He relented and didn’t insist more on it.
“My lords,” she bent her head.
“Your Grace,” they bowed.
She dismissed them and continued on toward her room. As she opened the tall iron cladded doors, she noticed the mist floating up from the wide copper tub in the centre of her chambers. Missandei had already laid out the oils and brushes.
“You are a gem, my dear,” she said, smiling sweetly at her friend.
She stripped away from her clothes and submerged herself in the scalding water. Her handmaiden started running her hands on her scalp. She almost fell asleep at the sensation as she began on relaxing and daydreaming about the future.
But unfortunately still not in the sky. They were approaching the island where Dragonstone sat. The sculpted dragons embellished every aspect of the coastal fortress, in the castle, in rock formations, on cliffs. Something like this today would cost large amounts of money, not even the Lannisters were able to afford. The spires reached out into the clouds, circled with stone dragons.
From where he was, the curtain walls looked similar to a star arranged in triangles around the main fortress. It was quite spectacular and intimidating. But Jon has seen enough to be afraid of blocks of rock.
The skiffs were nearing the shore and he could see already a retinue of people. As they got closer, he could spot Tyrion Lannister. His long-ago companion in the journey to the wall. He had to admit, back then he admired the dwarf very much, and learned a valuable lesson from him.
Never forget who you are, the rest of the world will not. Wear it like armour so it can never be used to hurt you.
He was curious about how a Lannister had come to advise the last Targaryen. They jumped off the skiffs and made it to shore. They walked further inland and stopped in front of Tyrion, a woman with a halo-like hair and some men with olive-skin whom he presumed to be the Dothraki.
“Bastard of Winterfell,” the little man greeted.
“Dwarf of Casterly Rock,” Jon answered. Tyrion smirked at that, and Jon smiled while shaking hands.
“We last saw each other on top of the wall while I pissed off the edge,” the imp said.
“How times have changed,” Jon said, somewhat sombrely.
“Indeed, they have. My sister was still a spoiled child and your face was pristine. Now she’s a spoiled queen and your face a ragged training dummy,” he chuckled at that.
“You’re one to talk.”
He pointed at his scar that travelled across his forehead, nose and cheek, “Blackwater Bay. Speaking of it. Greetings, Ser Davos. I hope we are on neutral grounds despite previous disputes.”
“I know ye were merely doing your duty. But I lost my son in that war. I might forgive, but I’ll never forget it rest assured,” he explained.
“I understand.” He looked at the tips of his shoes with guilt. He then turned to the woman beside him and announced, “Now let me introduce you to Missandei of Naath, the Queen’s most trusted advisor and friend.” She was graced with a humble smile and brown big eyes.
“Our Queen is grateful for your presence my Lords,” she said.
“Pardon me, my Lady. I don’t know if you are aware but you are speaking to a king, not a lord.” Davos pointed out.
The woman looked confused by this; she turned to Tyrion, and he after a second relented and nodded to her.
“Please accept my apologies, your Grace,” she added, worried she might have offended him.
“It is fine my Lady, titles and pleasantries are the least of my concerns.” he smiled making her at ease.
“I must ask for you to turn in your weapons,” she requested.
Jon looked apprehensive about it. They were the ones at a disadvantage; they wouldn’t be able to do anything even if they were armed with their swords.
“Your Grace can keep his sword, it would be untasteful of us to demand it from you,” the Dwarf reasoned.
He was still sceptical of this but relented, anyway.
Tyrion widened his eyes and Jon looked back watching Ghost hop from one skiff and starting to run around the beach.
“By the Gods is that you’re direwolf?” the dwarf asked. He smiled proudly as he continued on gazing at his companion.
“Aye, it is. I couldn’t leave him at Winterfell,” he explained.
“My god he has grown, he’s almost as tall as a horse. Don’t tell me you ride him into battle?” Tyrion joked. He laughed at him turning back to Ghost to see him running away to some woods.
They began their climb towards the keep. Three hundred steps winding up a narrow cliff. The scenery was beautiful, clear water clashed with the grey stone from the cliffs that turned to green grass and trees, and the blue sky above filled with white clouds.
“It’s weird hearing you say it,” he confessed.
Tyrion turns to him, “Say what? Your Grace?” he asked. Jon nodded.
“Well, It’s weird for me also, you’ll always be the bastard of Winterfell I found slashing his troubles away at a dummy,” he smiled nostalgically at the memory. He remembered those times how everything was so simple, and his darkest fears were so small in comparison.
“And you’ll always be a drunken whore mongering intelligent dwarf.” he joked.
Tyrion laughed at that “I’m afraid the whore part I left in the past.”
“I’m sure you did.” he quipped.
“Well well, if it isn’t the sombre Jon Snow making jokes. I took you for a brooding fellow.” Tyrion admitted.
“Don’t worry a big portion of the time I still am. I guess must be the good weather,” he said looking out at the landscape, smiling.
“Indeed, you and your ships have brought clear skies. Until today it had been raining for weeks on end.”
“I’m glad I could be of any use then,” Jon answered.
Tyrion laughed at that as he patted his arm. They continued on the long climb talking about their lives and Sansa. The man had made sure to clarify everything that needed explaining. Jon didn’t want to hear anything about it, but he insisted on the fact that their marriage was unconsummated.
They were nearing the main gate to the courtyard. Tyrion turned to him furrowing his forehead. “It was very brave of you to come south to meet with us, I must admit.”
“I have urgent matters that were worth the risk,” he explained.
Tyrion looked intrigued by that and added, “Well whatever it is you have still doesn’t erase the bad history the Starks are known for when going south.”
“That’s true. But I’m not a Stark.”
The second he said that a huge beast landed on a cliff next to the gate. A DRAGON. Oh shit... fear crossed his face, but then he was in awe as the creature peered at them perched on the outcrop. He watched amazed as the dragon roared and took to the skies once again. Jon looked at Davos, and he stared at him with an astonished look. They were actually real. He glanced at the skies again and there were three of them circling the island.
“I’d say you get used to them. But you never really do,” said Tyrion.
They entered the fortress and he could point out all types of people running around the courtyard, dark- and light-skinned, foreign and westerosi, servant, soldier and noble. It was astonishing really to see such great diversity in one place. Jon had never seen someone that didn’t look remotely northern or plain westerosi. He thought then how much he was missing out of the world. A strange mood of fear and regret washed over him. He didn’t know if it was the fact he would be meeting the last Targaryen or how misplaced he felt. Would she have an upper hand on him? Would he make a fool of himself? What if she took him for a child scared of nighttime stories?
He reminded himself not to start doubting. He was already here he would make the best of it.
“I won’t say much to you, because I want you to judge her by yourself. But I’ll just warn you she has never had a peaceful life. Since she was born she has been on the run, living in horrible conditions and sometimes starving. You and I know how honourable Ned Stark was. But she dealt with the consequences of the rebellion first hand. Don’t forget that.” Tyrion advised as they reached the tall iron doors to what he presumed was the great hall.
He nodded, understanding the circumstances, but still, it did not make the uprising any less valid against her father. It’s true, her family didn’t deserve what happened to them. If he was in Robert Baratheon’s place, he would have never allowed such acts of terror.
Tyrion went in and two men, garbed in strange-looking armour, closed the doors behind him. He looked at Davos and he smiled reassuringly. Jon just wanted to be done with this if he was honest. He didn’t want Ghost causing any trouble; He sensed him not that far away from him, hopefully, he will stay far from people. Another soldier exited the room, announcing their time to enter.
He strolled ahead with his advisor following him. His mantle waved around him as he took strides down the long chamber. It was big. Tall and narrow with huge slim windows. Looking up, he was amazed at what he saw. The arches that supported the ceiling were all connected with a sculpted dragon’s spine. The skull was at the back of the hall right above the throne with windows all around it. As he looked down where the dragon head pointed, he noticed her. He still couldn’t see many details, but he immediately spotted the platinum blond locks.
She was sat in the throne clothed in dark red and ashy fabrics that flared in front of her. There were plenty of lords along the galleries, but he was most intrigued by the figure in the centre. As he neared the dais, he was dumbfounded. Shit, she was truly breathtaking... With striking violet eyes and delicate features, her hair in waves cascading around her face. She stared at him grey eyes meeting violet ones. He could notice neither arrogance nor meekness on her face. She looked like a Dragon Queen, that was the only description he could give.
The woman that had greeted them at the beach stood now to the right side of the dais and announced.
“You stand in the presence of Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen. Rightful heir to the Iron Throne, rightful Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Protector of the Seven Kingdoms, the Mother of Dragons, the Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, the Unburnt, the Breaker of Chains.” she finished finally.
It dawned on him that he hadn’t planned this part. He betrayed a look of slight embarrassment and looked to Davos for help.
He caught on and announced, “I present to you, Jon Snow,” he said simply.
It didn’t matter to him his titles and whatnot but he wouldn’t be undermined, so he glimpsed over his shoulder indicating to add a little more. “Son of House Stark, King in the North and the Gift and Protector of the Northern Kingdom.” Davos stared at Jon for approval and he nodded his thanks.
He glanced back at the woman sitting on the throne. She looked slightly amused; If he didn’t look with more care, he would have been angered by her smugness. But it was a gaze of nostalgic resemblance, he could sense. Like she saw in them what she once was. A new leader trying to establish a name for herself.
A silence fell in the hall only quiet little whispers from lords were heard. She raised her eyebrows slightly starting a conversation between them. He creased his forehead challenging her. She squinted, wanting to see where this would go. He tilted his head lightly asking silently if she wanted to continue this. She sized him up then, and with a forced smile, she relented.
“Your Grace,” she nodded.
“Your Grace,” he returned the favour.
“Forgive my assumptions, King Jon, but I presumed the long journey you took to be here was to pledge allegiance to my cause, or have I presumed wrongly?” she asked intrigued.
“No, your Grace, I have not come here with that intent,” he stated matter-of-factly.
She sneered and clenched her jaw. “Then may I ask why you’ve burdened yourself with such a venture?”
“I wanted to discuss an alliance with you, your Grace,” he said.
“I appreciate your intentions, but you see I’m currently on a campaign to regain my family’s throne that was stolen from us. That throne encompasses the northernmost Kingdom.” She said, lifting her head slightly.
“It’s not in my best interest to oppose you, Your Grace, but...” he was cut off by a lord to the far left.
“Then why don’t you show the deserved respect and bend the knee to her highness?” he half-shouted. Some lords gasped at the display. He was readying himself to respond when the Queen cut him to it.
“Lord Rowan, if you have no significant input to add, don’t intervene at all. This conversation is between me and his Grace, so I’d advise to not disturb it unless called for,” she lectured the man.
“My Queen I was only trying to defend your Grace’s honour...” he started but was interrupted by the Queen saying, “My lord I have an army a hundred thousand strong and three dragons. If I needed defending I’d have it already,” that had shut him up. He couldn’t stop his mouth twitching from amusement.
“But, my liege is right,” that had put him in a more sombre mood. “Why would you travel all this way just to break faith with House Targaryen?”
“Break faith?” he asked incredulously. “Your father murdered my grandfather, he burned my uncle alive. He would have burned the seven...”
“My father was an evil man,” she cut him off. That surprised him. He had his mouth opened slightly, not knowing what to say or respond to that. Thankfully, she continued on.
“On behalf of House Targaryen, I ask your forgiveness for the crimes committed against your family. And I ask you to not judge a daughter by the sins of her father.” The same words he had said in favour of Alys Karstark and Ned Umber felt like a slap in his face.
“Our Houses were allies for centuries, and those were the best centuries the seven kingdoms have ever known, with a Targaryen on the Iron Throne and a Stark serving as Warden of the North,” she would continue but Davos spoke up.
“Your Grace, apologies, I have a thick fleabottom accent I know, but you mention the Targaryen reign to be an era of prosperity and peace. I won’t say the times before that were better because, aye, they sure weren’t. But during the dynasty, the seven kingdoms experienced two civil wars, dozens of uprisings, and suffered from a handful of mad kings.” She flared her nostrils at that and bore her eyes on him. “I’m confident you are a competent ruler, and your House’s history doesn’t represent you, but if so, using that argument is of no relevance.”
“Ser Davos Seaworth, your Grace,” Tyrion pointed out.
“Forgive me Ser Davos, but I, unfortunately, have never received a formal education. But despite what you just mention, I could’ve sworn that the last King in the North was Torrhen Stark who bent the knee to my ancestor Aegon Targaryen in perpetuity. Or do I have my facts wrong?” The tone in her voice irritated him slightly. He sensed their patience dropping with the time passing.
“I wasn’t there, your Grace,” Davos responded.
“No,” she smiled, “Of course not, but still, an oath is an oath. And perpetuity means, what does perpetuity mean Lord Tyrion?” she asked smugly.
“Forever,” he answered.
“Forever,” she repeated satisfied.
He looked downwards anger starting to boil inside him, “You are wrong.” he said as he glanced up at her, “The last King in the North was my half-brother Robb Stark who, after our people had been toyed by your southern houses,” he added as he gazed at all the nobles gathered, “Declared the North independent from the Iron Throne. His death hasn’t changed that.”
The frustration was plain on her face, and the cool diplomatic mask was gone. She was staring daggers at him as she fidgeted with her fingers.
“Then why are you here?” she asked finally.
He sighed and looked around the room. “This doesn’t matter. The Iron Throne doesn’t matter. Petty disputes don’t matter. Westeros will encounter an enemy like it hasn’t seen in thousands of years. There’s a threat to the North, and if we don’t bound together despite our differences, or who is King or Queen, we’ll all die.”
The hall was quiet for a second before he could hear giggling. Then some lords started outright laughing at him. And the room was filled with murmuring and snickering. A sadness came over him. Of course, they wouldn’t believe me, I must sound like a fool. He looked at the Queen she was staring at him, she... she was looking for something? She glanced at both of his eyes back and forth trying to find what she was searching for but she didn’t as she widened her eyes slightly for a millisecond only he noticed. Rage consumed her face, was it because of him? He didn’t think so. He felt like it was because of the situation, but she had to lash that anger out at someone.
“Silence all of you!” her voice boomed around the chamber, sending a chill up his spine.
“Qelbar Genes, see that our court is brought to their respective chambers,” she said still looking at him. He could hear protests from some lords, but eventually, the hall was quiet, with only him, Davos, Tyrion, the Queen and her friend, and a couple of soldiers. She stood. Oh, shit... She started strolling slowly towards him.
“I was born at Dragonstone. Not that I can remember. Only a couple of days later, I was shipped off to Bravvos. I spent some time there, the happiest I’ve been, with a home, a bed and people who loved me. Am I correct to assume you were raised in Winterfell?” she inquired with an eerie calm to her voice.
“Aye,” he responded.
“Did you have a bed while you grew up? Food at your table? A roof to call home?” she asked again, now starting to climb down the stairs of the dais.
“I wasn’t allowed to eat with the Stark family but, aye, I had all that,” he confessed.
“Yes, it’s sad that our world shames a babe for the circumstances of their birth. Dwarves, bastards, dragonspawn... it is not right for a child or adult to be ashamed of that,” this slightly surprised him. He guessed in Essos the customs were less strict than in Westeros.
Fire replaced the calm.
Her demeanour was fire materialised.
“The thing you just described as meaningless made me and my brother flee from assassins all our lives. For us to live in the streets and sewers of the free cities and villages we stopped by. For us to spend days hungry for a piece of bread. For me to be sold like a broodmare, be chained, betrayed, raped and defiled throughout my life. The Iron Throne was the reason for that!” she was two feet from him. He could see her violet eyes full of rage.
“Not only that, but it is the reason for all the lives that become crushed by the wheel of power that rules the realm. I was born to rule the Seven Kingdoms. And I will. To get revenge for what they did to me, and to all the ones that get oppressed.” she stopped at arms-length from him. He tried not showing any nervousness or fear but seeing the Dragon Queen in rage made that difficult. He looked at her with wide eyes both of them breathed heavily.
“There is no time for any of this. An army of dead men is marching on the wall. I need to protect my Kingdom. And I mean no offence, your Grace, but I don’t know you. As far as I can tell, your claim rests entirely on your father’s name and my own father fought to overthrow the Mad King. The people of the North placed their trust in me to lead them. And I will continue to do so as well as I can,” he said.
A noise came from far behind him. He heard steps coming towards them. A bald man arrived at the Queen’s side and whispered in her ear. She looked concerned and turned back to them.
“You must forgive my manners. You should be tired after your journey. We’ll have baths drawn for you and suppers sent to your rooms.” She started giving commands in a foreign language. He didn’t know how that left them. And needed to have reassurances.
“Am I your prisoner?” he asked uncertainly.
She turned around and responded, “No.”
With that, he turned on his heel and left with a fire burning in his belly. He just prayed he could get something out of this.
Hey guys, sorry for the time I took writing this chapter, but between writer's block, the illustrations and just life in general I was only able to post it today. Btw, check out chapters 1 and 2 for the illustrations. Also I brought a more realistic late medieval/early renaissance feel to the story. I know it still is very similair to canon but from here things we'll become more different.