281 - King’s Landing…
After a long and strenuous war, first on the Stepstones and then riven to the lands of Essos, staining it with Blackfire blood, prince Rhaegar returns victorious to his beloved city, under the cheers of his lords, his men and especially the people of Kings Landing
"How does it feels to finally savor, the sweet home, cousin?" Came the strong voice of Robert, son of the late Lord Steffon Baratheon, his father's best friend, who sadly died.
"I thank the Seven for keeping me alive this long, protecting me from the enemy’s blades and giving me the possibility to see my beloved mother again," replied Rhaegar, as he was waving to the crowd in thankfulness.
"Pha. It's not the Seven that you should thank, dear Cousin, but my bloody hammer. It's him the one that saves your ass from the Twin's blades," said Robert starting to laugh from his horse, and the laugh was more of a roar than a normal laugh.
“And you, Robert? Who are you looking forward to seeing again?” asked Rhaegar looking towards his stag cousin.
“The warm thighs and prosperous breasts of a woman," he replied, starting to laugh, and out of the corner of his eye, Rhaegar saw that this reply also made Lord Stark's second son, Eddard, smile. A very quiet and honourable young man. But it was a normal thing considering that he was raised by Lord Arryn. “But above all, I can’t wait to meet my betrothed.”
“You have a betrothed?” asked Rhaegar with a raised eyebrow, remembering that during this war, his cousin has fucked so many women, that Rhaegar lost count.
“Yes. Lyanna stark. A beauty from another world. Wild, smart, and beautiful. A proper lady that will birth my sons,” replied Robert, releasing a roaring laugh, throwing his head behind, before adding in the same laughing way, “You may be King of the Seven Kingdoms one day, but no queen of yours will be like my sweet Lyanna.”
Rhaegar didn’t reply, just keep waving his hand to the crowd, but his mind was now wondering who his future will choose him as a wife. He glanced fro a moment at the young stark, before returning his gaze forward.
When they reached the courtyard of the Red Keep, Rhaegar saw the newly restored order of the Dragonkeepers in line and waiting for him. They usually were the protectors of the Dragonpit, but now they are the protector of the Red Keep it seems. Beside these warriors, some of the Gold Clocks were present too. They all bend the knee when he got down from the horse.
“Well, these ones are ready to please all your needs, it seems,” came Robert’s voice, as he gives him a pat on the shoulder, and Rhaegar nodded.
“Arthur. Give tell some men to show where the unsullied are going to stay. And make sure that they are treated kindly.”
After that, Rhaegar taking a breath headed towards the inside of the place, followed by Robert, the Commander of the Unsullied, Sure Spear, and the Lords that have fought with him in this blooded war.
When he reached the Throne room, the great doors opened, revealing it full of people, lords, and ladies of the Crownlands, starting to cheer him and clamp their hands.
Raising his chin in pried, Rhaegar started to move towards the Iron throne, a monstrous chair made of the swords from the fallen enemies of Aegon Targaryen and forged by Balerion the black dread. A chair that emanates power, glory, and fear. And on which now sits his father, Aerys, Second of his Name, King of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm.
Next to the throne, on the right side was sitting his beautiful mother, Queen Rhaella with her adorned crown in the head, and a beautiful red dress, with glitter on the black part of the dress., holding his little brother, Viserys who was instead standing.
On the left side of the Iron Throne instead, stands the Small Council Members: The new hand of the King, Lord Owen Merryweather; the Old Gran Maester Pycelle, a man Rhaegar despised and would make sure that he was removed from the Council and maybe from King’s Landing as soon as possible; Master of coin Lord Qarlton Chelsted; Master of laws Lord Symond Staunton; Master of whisperers Lord Varys, a man he didn’t know if he could be trusted; and in the end there was the head of the Alchemy’s guild that was serving his father, Wisdom Rossart, as the king would call him. Then on both sides of the iron throne stood guarding the six remaining Kingsguard since Arthur was with him.
As he was approaching the Iron Throne more and more, his gaze was settled only on his mother, who he had missed so dearly in this long years of war, and that he can’t wait to finally be alone and hug her, and she, on the other hand, was smiling at him.
His father, on the other hand, was sitting inexpressively on the Iron throne, with the crown of Aegon the fourth on his head. It was a large and heavy crown of red-gold, each of its points a dragon’s head with gemstone eyes.
Raising his hand to shoot the crowd, the king slowly clapping, said, “Here came the victorious prince of the Great War who put an end to the born rebellion of the Bloody Blackfyre."
The lords and ladies started to clap again, and Rhaegar, bending the knee, offered the banners of the Golden Company and House Blackfyre, before showing the treasure that he found. “Her is the lost sword of Aegon the Conquer, your grace. Blackfyre. The sword of Kings.”
The king smiled, clapping his hand in approval, and with him, so did the ones who were there. His little brother had an amazing look on his face and on his mother the proudness on her face.
King Aerys rose his hand again to quite the present, saying, “To celebrate this victory and the end of House Blackfire, we are going to make a tourney in the place where House Targaryen rose to power: Harrhenall. Every lord, lady, and commoner will have to be present, to witness the glory and greatness of House Targaryen, and of course to admire the young dragon handling his lance.” Adding the last part in an evil laugh.
And Rhaegar really wondered what his father was plotting now. He dreaded the outcome of whatever it was.
“I missed you mother,” he said hugging her tightly once he was back to his chambers, before heading to the table filling two goblets of sweat Arbor wine, loving the taste that he was feeling in his mouth.
Offering the other to his mother, who was sitting on one of the chairs, Rhaegar asked, “What is the true reason behind this extended of this invitation and the tourney, mother?”
“I can't tell you. Not before your father arrives here. You know his temper, but trust me, he has a plan,” his mother said.
“He? A plan?” laughed Rhaegar, taking a sip.
“Rhaegar, please. In these four years a lot of things happened. Revelations came out and enemies will soon start to plot. House Targaryen needs to be United, now more than ever.”
Before he could reply, Rhaegar saw his father enter with the usual smirk on his face and without the crown.
“Ah, my beloved wife,” he said, giving her a quick kiss on the forehead, which confused Rhaegar, “and my heir. I want to speak with you, regarding important matters,” he added, patting his shoulder, which left Rhaegar stunned, and heading to the table to fill himself a goblet of wine.
“Why this tourney, father? I’m sure it's not only because of the victory.”
“Straight to the point just like your mother,” said the king, laughing and sipping from the goblet before sitting in one of the chairs. “But yes. There is more to it. But above all, it is to find you a bride because it’s time for you to marry.”
“And who is the lucky lady that will be forced to spend her life next to me?” asked Rhaegar looking at his mother, in hoping for a new, but it was his father who speaks first.
“You will find very soon who she is, and I’m sure you won't be disappointed,” he replied laughing before getting serious again. “Now. Let's get to the important matter. Pycelle is a traitor working for the Citadel who is planning our downfall since the moment Aegon the dragon conquered Westeros,” his father started but stopping to take some breath and a sip of wine before continuing. “They are behind your mother's miscarriages, and also behind the death of my father and especially the tragedy of Summerhall.”
“And what do you-"
“Don't interrupt me,” his father cut him off with a glare, and Rhaegar shoots immediately his mouth, glancing at his mother for a moment, before refocusing all his attention on his father who keeps speaking. “But the one that has plotted against us the most was someone else.”
“Tywin Lannister,” blurted his father against the edge of the goblet, and that left him stunned. Rhaegar couldn’t believe that Lord Tywin would do something like this, considering the fact, that four years ago he was Hand of the King. “Why would Lord Tywin do this?”
“Fear and power. He wants that whore of his daughter to be Queen of the Seven Kingdoms next to you, and he killed Steffon,” his father replied taking a long mug of wine.
“What are you talking about, father. Lord Steffon died in a storm.”
“Tywin bloody Lannister feared that he would have been replaced by Steffon as Hand of the king, and above all, he feared that Steffon would have succeeded in the mission that I assigned him.” A bride, Rhaegar wanted to say but didn't open his mouth.
Taking a sip, Rhaegar asked, “What are you going to do, now that you know these things?”
“Make a trap and lure the lion in there. After that, I will burn him alive. And with him the wrecks that live in that damn citadel and calls themselves the wisest men alive.”
With that, he stormed out the room, leaving a stunned Rhaegar by the revelation. He didn’t know what he should do now. Warn the Lannister and prevent this madness, hoping that he won’t destroy them, or help his father in this?
But remembering that they were behind his sister’s death, behind his mother’s miscarriage, that made her suffer, his blood was boiling and the anger rise.
Taking long breaths to calm himself, Rhaegar remember another important mater, and he needs to ask advice from the wisest woman he knows. So, heading again to the table, to feel his goblet again, but leaning on it, sighing he said. “Mother? I need to tell you something,”
“What is it?” she asked, approaching him and placing a hand on the shoulder.
"I have done something terrible, and that could endanger the throne and our family," said Rhaegar, closing his eyes and feeling his heart beating fast. "If Father finds out-" he stopped without continuing.
"Rhae? You can tell me anything, you know you can trust me," said his mother, stroking his back as a reassurance.
Turning, and heading toward the bed, Rhaegar began. "When we defeated the Blackfyre twins, I headed for the place where the Golden Company used to hide, and found there a woman, dying."
He stopped to take a sip to wet his dry throat, feeling as if he had no breath. "The woman was the wife of one of the Blackfyre and had just given birth to a baby girl."
Leaning forward with his elbows resting on the knees, and stroking his forehead, Rhaegar continued, "I knew the danger that that child was posing to our line and that leaving her alive would endanger our house, but I couldn't do it. I stood there, standing with a dagger in hand, ready to take her life. But I couldn't do it, Mother. Seeing her so small and innocent, with her silver blond hair and her sky-blue eyes, I didn't have the strength to take her life." Looking upwards, he asked, "Do you think I made a mistake in leaving her alive, mother?"
His mother didn’t reply, just was standing there, in silence, and that was the response to his question.
But his mother lowering herself, said, “No, you didn’t.” pulling some strands of hairs behind his ear, and placing the hand on his cheek, she continued, “You didn’t, no mater what your father will say when he finds out. She is innocent, and you are a good man and one day a good King. May I ask where she is?”
“Hidden in King’s Landing and only I know where she is, but of her fate, Eddard Stark is aware too,” he said, though he was sure that the young man will not reveal it. He was honourable. “However, besides the fight with the Golden Company and the Blackfire, during this war a red Priest from Asshai came to visit my camp.”
“And what those fire worshiper wants from my son?” she asked, and he could feel the angriness in her voice.
“She told me that the long night is coming and that the Prince that was promised will be born soon,” he said looking down, not daring to look in her eyes.
Silence dropped over them, as his mother sat next to him for a moment, before sighing, she said, “All the same these witches and priestesses. They want to play with the minds of young people with prophecies and stories.” Getting up again, she started to move away, towards the table to fill her goblet again, saying, “You know, the reason why me and your father married it was because a witch told him the prince that was promised will come from our line.”
“And it is true, mother,” he said, getting up too. “The Red Priest said that besides the snow, she saw a little girl in fire. I think that-“
“She is my daughter?” she asked, turning towards him, with a great hope in her voice, but they were interrupted by a knock at the door. “Yes.”
And turning to the door, he saw Arthur come, and two Unsullieds bring in the chest. “Thank you, Arthur. I hope no one is aware of this.”
“No, my prince.”
The Unsullied put the chest on the floor next to the bed, leaving him alone with his mother, and Arthur too left the room.
“What is in the chest, Rhaegar?” his mother asked, approaching it, and Rhaegar followed her too.
“I didn’t want for father to find out about this, considering how much he loves fire, but when the Golden Company has been defeated, I found one of the most precious treasures on this world.”
Opening it, he saw the mesmerized look on his mother's face, as she was struggling to find the words.
“They are beautiful, aren’t they?”
“It’s not the first time I saw them, but I know the Danger that surrenders them, and especially why you kept them hidden from your father,” she said, taking one in hand, but then placing it back. “My grandfather was obsessed with them and paid the Highest Price. His life. Promise me that you aren’t going to do something stupid, Rhaegar.”
“I won’t,” he replied, though still had every intention to find answers in the books about how to hatch them and maybe make a visit to the Wall, were Aemon was serving since his father has no intention of doing.
“I’m sure you are tired, my son, so I will leave you to rest,” she said, giving a kiss to his forehead, but before she could leave, Rhaegar asked, “Who does he want me to marry, mother?”
“I don’t know, but I’m sure we will find out soon.” With that she left him alone in the room, as he went back to the bed, lying on it.
It was already night when they reached the Lands of the Rivers and more precisely Harrhenal, and now Brandon was in his father's room that was assigned by Lor Whent, with a mug of wine, a fur coat over his shoulders, and fire warming his limbs, while the flames danced, lighting his face.
Taking a sip of wine, Brandon said, "Since we left Winterfell, I've done nothing but wonder, Father, why you agreed to take Lyanna down South. We all know the real reason why the Mad King arranged it despite Lord Whent being the host."
"Maester Wallys advised me not to refuse otherwise it would have aroused suspicion. However, everyone knows that the Prince will marry Cersei Lannister, even if it wasn't official."
"And how do the Maesters intend to break that bond? All of Westeros knows that the King and the Lannisters together will break any rebellion in the build."
His father did not answer immediately, but taking a sip and glancing towards the entrance of the tentacle, he leaned towards him, whispering, "Poison". Before leaning back.
"So, poison is the key?" asked Brandon. Poison was for cravens, women, and Dornishmen.
"Yes. When Cersei Lannister is dead, the blame will fall on the king, and Tywin will declare war. Master Walys assured me that Hightower will side with us, and one of his daughters will marry the young Jaime Lannister," said his father, while taking another mug of wine and wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, he continues. "This way, that cursed House will fall and Robert will become King, Lyanna Queen, and Lord Arryn, Hand of the King."
Brandon did not answer, but he had this strange feeling that all this will have a bad ending. Not to mention the fact that his sister was still in the dark about all this. Ned himself was unaware of the conspiracy, but another doubt was coming to him, and taking a sip, he asked his father, hoping to clear it off, "Is Lord Baratheon willing to fight against the prince? If I am not mistaken, they are cousins, and above all brothers in arms. They fought against Blackfyre in Essos."
"Yes, he is. But for Lyanna, he is willing to choose our side."
"But he doesn't even know her, Father. How can he say he'll choose a girl instead of his family?"
"Ned told him enough things about Lyanna that the young lord has already fallen in love with her," his father replied, chuckling, finishing his cup and then getting up and filling it again. "However, beyond that, Robert wants to make the brotherhood connection between them even more powerful. And of course, there were enough whispers in his ear for him to blame Aerys for his parents' death."
Brandon laughed when he heard those words, and said against the edge of the cup, "I doubt that his feeling will be returned by Lyanna. You know her," before he drank.
"Yes, and in fact, it is up to you to tell her some laudable words about the young Lord, so that she can fall for him," his father said as he stood up to throw another log into the fire. "But keep out the fact that he already has a daughter and is fond of women and wine."
Like her old brother, Brando wanted to say thinking back to all the virgins he had deflowered, but he refrained from making such a comment, knowing how much his father was against that behavior.
"Now go, my son. Tomorrow we must get up very early to welcome the coming of the King and his retinue."
Brandon nodded, finishing his cup all in one breath, and as he got up, he started to head towards the door, but before leaving, he asked, "What will happen if the King offers you a royal wedding between Lyanna and the prince?"
"Don't worry about that. As I told you, it won't happen. The King trusts Pycelle blindly, and the old Master, according to Walys, advised him to marry him off to Lord Tywin's daughter."
Brandon nodded, leaving the room, but still with a stormy mind. Fuck, it was in these moments that he needed the welcome warm thighs of a woman, but he promised his father not to do anything foolish that could compromise the future of the House and maybe the chances of an alliance with a Southern House.
Lyanna was lying on her belly in the bed of the room that Lord Whent assigned her when they arrived. It was a beautiful room, but it was waxed with a gloomy air, and the fire itself seemed to be struggling to stay alive. Perhaps it was because of this place being cursed.
The hour was late, but she was still immersed in the book she brought with her from Winterfell, and at this moment she was finishing reading one of them. ‘Lives of Four Kings.’
In it appears the four Kings that had followed the Dace of Dragon, and that have marked the History of Westeros.
Every time she read this book, Lyanna made a portrait of the young Targaryens in her mind. Handsome young men with their silver-blonde hair waving in the air, some long and others short, wearing shiny armour.
One of them was The Young Dragon. Daeron the first of his name. A boy of her same age, who achieved greatness, conquering what Aegon the Dragon failed.
Suddenly, Lyanna heard a knock at the door and immediately got up to put on a robe and take a dagger, before approaching the door asking, "Who is it?"
"It's me. Ben," she heard her younger brother's thin voice, and so she opened it.
"What are you doing up so late and especially wandering through this castle?" she asked, stepping aside and letting him in.
"I couldn't sleep. This castle is so dark and gloomy that I cannot sleep. It's as if-"
"The ghosts were still here," she finished, approaching the bed. "Don't worry, little brother. I will protect you."
"Protected by the She-Wolf of Winterfell?" he asked with a smile and raising his eyebrow. "I'd say those ghosts will shit themselves." And that made her giggle.
"What are you doing?" he asked, sitting on the bed, and taking the book in his lap, to look at it. "Lives of Four Kings? Are you dreaming about the Young Dragon again?" he asked teasingly.
She blushed at hearing that, knowing perfectly well what her little brother meant, but approaching, and trying to hide the blushing, she said, "Why not? He was young, handsome, charming, a warrior. Any girl would be fascinated, even if he is just a name on a book," she sat on the bed, too, taking the book from his hands.
"Any girl? Even the She-wolf of Winterfell?" he asked teasingly, making her roll her eyes, and snapping, "Yes, even the She-wolf of Winterfell! Why shouldn't I be interested in that?"
"Well, my dear little sister, I haven't seen you very much fascinated by the young sons of the Northern Lords, and-"
"The young sons of the Lords are arrogant pompous, like all those in the South," Lyanna answered, getting up to put the book back in her chest. "It is so easy to fall in love with the heroes from the Books. Or the young Targaryen, like Prince Aemon the Dragonknight."
He was the perfect knight, the perfect prince who defended his sister's honour when it was stained in secret by Aegon the Unlike, a man that Lyanna despised, even though she never meets but only heard and read stories about him. He treated women as if they were things, throwing them away when he was getting bored, and made bastards all over Westeros and beyond. Lyanna hoped that when her time will come and her father will force her to marry, she will not have Queen Naerys, unlike fate, finding herself a whoremonger husband. She hopes that he will be like Prince Aemon, good and honourable.
"Perhaps very soon you will see a real Prince Targaryen in the flesh and blood," said Benjen, bringing her back from those raw thoughts, and she looked at him confused for a moment.
"Prince Rhaegar? Have you forgotten that he will be present at the tourney?" he said, with a grin. Of course, she didn't. But the prince was promised to Lady Cersei Lannister.
"So what?" she asked, trying to sound indifferent. "The Prince is from the south. I doubt he will stop to admire a wild young lady from the north."
"Oh, so the She-wolf of the North wants to be admired by the Dragon Prince?" asked Ben, grinning and teasingly.
"Shut your mouth and go to sleep, little brother," she said, trying to hide the smile that was on her lips and feeling something strange in her stomach a feeling that she had never felt before.
Blowing out the candles, Lyanna lay down next to her brother under the furry blanket, and that night she dreamt of her Dragon Prince. Tall, strong, and charming. And he won the tourney crowning her Queen of love and beauty, with a crown of Winter Rosses.