Chapter 1: The Debt
Aegon the Conqueror never conquered the seven kingdoms, instead he only took a piece of Westeros for himself to rule over. The Crownlands are now the Dragonlands and is ruled by the Targaryen family. The rest of the kingdoms are ruled separately by their respective families.
It was dark as he cautiously walked through the woods, the only source of light was the moon peaking through the trees above him. His father, the King of the Dragonlands, sent him to negotiate peace terms with the King of Winter. Their families have been feuding with one another for years, causing their people to hate one another and creating war between their kingdoms. The Northerners would attack the Dragonlands' boarders, burning crops and ransacking their towns. They would always retaliate by invading the northern lands and burning their own villages to the ground. Back and forth it continued, year after year, blood answered with blood. Hopefully it will all come to an end tonight, Rhaegar thought as he carefully navigated through the woods. Ser Arthur Dayne, his guard and most trusted friend, followed silently behind him as they descended into the darkness, the soft crunch of leaves under their boots was the only sound to be heard. The two soon came upon a clearing and stopped to survey their surroundings.
"Rhaegar," Arthur spoke quietly and gestured across the misty field with a nod of his head. Two shadowed figures emerged from the tree line on the other side of the clearing. One of them must be the man who murdered my mother, Rhaegar thought quietly to himself. He knew the man wouldn't come alone, he would have a small army of men waiting somewhere in the trees. Rhaegar had one himself, waiting a few hundred yards behind him in case this meeting didn't go as planned. Rhaegar motioned them both forward as the two figures began their approach, and they all met in the middle.
"King Rickard," Rhaegar said devoid of emotion. He recognized the man standing beside the king as his eldest son, Prince Brandon Stark.
"Prince Rhaegar," the king replied just as flatly.
"I'm glad you agreed to meet me here."
"I don't quite understand why you have chosen to meet here, in the Riverlands of all places, and at such a late hour" King Rickard huffed out.
"I felt it best to meet on neutral ground, were neither of us has the advantage over the other."
"Why isn't your father here as well?" he studied the prince with a weary eye.
"My father sends his apologies, he has been ill as of late and could not make it." In truth King Aerys' mind hasn't been the same since the death of his wife, Queen Rhaella.
"I admit I was surprised when I received your father's message requesting to form a truce. I was expecting King Aerys to retaliate, for this meeting of his to be some form of a trap."
"Enough blood has been spilled on both sides" sorrowful memories began to flood to the surface of Rhaegar's mind, but he quickly pushed them aside and focused on the task at hand. "My father wishes to put an end to this feud between our families; to end this war and move forward in peace."
"And what terms does your father propose?" the king asked him intrigued.
"You owe us a life in exchange for the one you took. A debt that is ours to collect whenever we choose," Rhaegar said looking directly at King Rickard. "Agree to give us this one life and my father will consider the debt between us paid and will no longer take up the sword against your family."
"Absolutely not!" Brandon said furiously beside his father. "King Aerys is the one responsible for starting this war, why should he be the one to dictate how it ends?"
"Brandon" the tone in King Rickard's voice was hard as steel as he tried to silence his son.
"Father, this is outrageous an----" his son tried to argue, but he was cut off by his father's thunderous voice.
"Enough!" That seemed to silence the prince for now as he kept his position beside his father. Brandon turned his gaze to Rhaegar and the two princes stared at one another with enmity, neither of them having much regard for the other. King Rickard stood there in silent contemplation, staring off into the distance, thinking over his options. It was true, King Aerys started this war between them, but his own actions did nothing to help end it, perhaps it was time to remedy that. "If I agree to this, you swear you will end this war between us? You will leave my family and my people alone and end all the bloodshed?"
"How can I guarantee your father will keep his word? That he will honor this truce once he has gotten what he seeks?" King Rickard demanded to know.
Rhaegar placed a hand over his heart and looked King Rickard in the eye, "On my life, on my honor, I swear to you peace will reign between our kingdoms once more. I will make sure of it."
"He's lying Father," Brandon spat out angrily, "don't agree to this ludicrous proposal. King Aerys is a vengeful soul, he will never keep his word."
"If there is a chance I can spare the lives of my people and bring peace to my kingdom I must take it," the king acknowledged to his son. "As King in the North I am responsible for the lives of thousands. It is my duty to put their needs, and their lives, before my own. As my heir, that is a lesson you must learn some day." Brandon sent Rhaegar a menacing look, but said no more.
King Rickard stood there silently once more, deep in thought, he swore he would never trust a Targaryen again, not after everything that has happened. But looking at Prince Rhaegar, the son of his worst enemy, he couldn't find any traces of his cruel father in him. He sighed heavily before speaking, "I never wanted this war. I have only ever wanted peace for my people. Tell your father I agree to his terms."
"Father---" Brandon tried to speak, but his father fixed him with a hard stare to silence him. His grey eyes were cold and deadly, a true king of winter.
"My life is yours," the king said to Rhaegar, "and there will be no retaliation on our part," he turned to stare at his son once more. Brandon held his father's gaze for a moment before he lowered his head, yielding his agreement.
"You are making the right decision King Rickard," Rhaegar extended his hand to him and they shook on their agreement. "From this moment forward, may peace reign between our kingdoms." He turned to Arthur, "let us take our leave."
"You're not going to kill me now?" the king asked cautiously, expecting him to extract his revenge as soon possible.
"No, I shall collect the debt when the time is ready." Rhaegar wanted to bring an end to all of this as much as King Rickard did, but he also wanted to make the man suffer for what he's done. He wanted him to fret over this arrangement, to constantly wonder if today will be the day he will show up to collect. "Goodnight Your Grace, and farewell." The prince turned and headed back into the trees and disappeared into the night.
Her breath misted in the air as she peaked around the corner to observe the courtyard. The entire castle was in a bustle that morning preparing for the night's festival. Men were setting up tables and benches, while the women decorated with ribbons, banners, and lanterns. The kitchens where in an uproar preparing a feast large enough to feed an entire army, but Lyanna's father was nowhere to be seen. Tonight was the Aurora, a special holiday for the northerners, when the spirits came to dance across the stars, illuminating the sky with lights of every possible color. It was a magical event that happened but once a year and the entire North celebrated with food, music, and dancing.
Lyanna's boots crunched under her feet as she hurried to the stables, a light dusting of snow covered the ground from the night before. She wanted to escape to the wolfswood before her father could find her and roped her into helping with today's preparations. She truly loved the festival, but she hated having to help prepare for it. Her father's expectations were a little to demanding for her to handle, so she found it was best to avoid the matter all together.
"Saddle my horse" she said to one of the stable boys "and be quick about it." The boy mumbled a 'yes princess' before he scurried off, and soon returned with a beautiful white mare named Icelyn. She leapt up into the saddle, slung her bow across her back, and galloped out of the gates as quickly as she could. She found nothing more freeing than riding across an open field on horseback. With the cold wind blowing in her face, whipping her hair back wildly, Lyanna never felt more alive than when she was on the back of a horse racing across the hills.
Once she put enough distance between herself and Winterfell, she slowed her pace and enjoyed her time away from the castle. Lyanna rode these lands with her brothers on daily basis, there wasn't an inch she hadn't yet explored. Today her destination was the ruins of an old tower, abandoned and forgotten centuries ago, within the wolfswood. Not many people ventured out there, stories of ghosts and grumpkins no doubt kept them away, making it the perfect place for her to disappear.
She eventually came upon the spot in the woods where the tower stood and dismounted, she tethered Icelyn to a low hanging branch and walked toward the crumbled ruins. She came out here quite often with her brothers, as children, to play amongst the old tower. They would run through the old ruins pretending to be knights protecting their fair maidens and kings defending their mighty castles. She couldn't help but smile fondly at the memories of her childhood when her life seemed so much simpler. They were are all older now and weighed down by their responsibilities. Her family has been at war with the Targaryen's ever since King Aerys killed her mother nearly eight years ago. Since this war began, her father has become rather ambitious and has formed alliances with several of the other kingdoms of Westeros. He has arranged for his eldest son, the Crown Prince Brandon, to wed Catelyn Tully, the princess of the Riverlands. His second son, Eddard, whom everyone called Ned, was sent to foster with King Arryn to build an alliance with the Vale. There has even been talk of possibly marrying Lyanna off to some southern prince. If only the gods had blessed me as a boy at birth, Lyanna thought to herself. Life would have been simpler for her if she was the third son of a king instead of his only daughter. She wouldn't be weighed down by so many burdens and expectations that came with being a princess.
As a child, Lyanna was fascinated with stories about brave knights fighting outlaws and overcoming great obstacles in battle. She wanted to be just like the great knights of lore who fought with honor and sought out justice. She would have mock sword fights with her brothers using sticks and refuse to wear anything but breeches. Her father even humored her dreams and allowed her to train with sword and bow alongside her brothers. But as Lyanna grew older, her father became more determined to form her into a proper woman. You are a princess, he would say, it is time you started behaving as such. Despite all of his efforts, he failed to mold his daughter into the proper princess he was hoping for. She continued to sneak off to the godswood with her brother, Benjen, to practice with swords. Whenever her father would successfully force her into a dress, she wouldn't hesitate to ride off into the wolfswood to hunt with her bow, then return to the castle with her dress filthy and ruined.
It was another cold day, despite how brightly the sun shone across the pale, blue sky. Even though the maesters of the Citadel proclaimed it to be summer, winter still lingered in the North and Lyanna had to pull her cloak tighter across her shoulders to help fight off the chill. She stopped suddenly as she heard a faint snap of a branch among the ruins. She quickly notched an arrow to her bow and turned towards the sound, expecting to find a doe or possibly a fox. However, she was surprised to find a man dressed all in black.
"Don't shoot!" he called out and raised is hands up in the air slightly, "I mean you no harm." He stood in the shadows of the crumbled tower, the hood of his cloak blocking half his face from view.
"Who are you?" she demanded, keeping the arrow pulled taught across the bow.
"Just a traveler my lady." He spoke in a silvery voice, his accent clearly southern. "You don't need to be alarmed, I'm not going to hurt you."
"If you truly mean me no harm, then why do you hide yourself in the shadows? Come out and show yourself."
"I am leery of strangers, same as you my lady," he said as he gestured to the arrow aimed at him. "I would prefer to remain where I am if you don't mind." His cloak was made of fine materials, as well as his clothing, indicating that he was of noble birth. Why would he be traveling alone?
"Here," he slowly removed his sword belt and tossed it aside and away from his reach. "Now I am unarmed."
"Are you a wanted man?" she asked him wearily.
"No my lady, I'm merely a traveler passing through. I'm not looking for any trouble. Now, do you mind lowering that bow of yours?" Lyanna adjusted her aim and released the arrow she was holding. A broad smile broke out across her face when the man jumped and turned around to find the arrow lodged in the tree behind him, pinning a squirrel in the eye.
"I have good aim, you would do best to keep that in mind." She warned him as she lowered her bow, but she did not lower her guard and kept a distance from him incase he tried something.
"I won't soon forget my lady."
"Stop calling me that, I'm no lady." Lyanna was dressed in a simple gray jerkin with black breeches, clothes her little brother had outgrown. She looked more like a commoner than a proper lady. Its best he thinks of me as such, she thought. The last thing she needed was this stranger to take her hostage and ransom her back to her father. She would have a guard follow her around everyday for the rest of her life if that ever happened.
"Would beautiful be more to your liking?" he asked her with a small smirk upon his perfect lips, it was the only part of his face she could see clearly. He was mocking her, beautiful was a word Lyanna would hardly use to describe herself, boyish and wild suited her better.
She chose to ignore his comment and glanced around the ruins, "I don't see your horse anywhere?"
The man hesitated and looked behind him before answering, "It appears I don't have one."
Lyanna eyed the man carefully, "You're a southroner, I can hear it in your voice. Are you expecting me to believe you walked the whole way here?" That wasn't possible, his clothes were too clean and immaculate, with no traces of mud or dirt. His boots were the same, and showed no signs of wear upon them either.
"Of course not, that would be quite ridiculous," he smiled softy and glanced behind him once more. "I am embarrassed to admit that I lost my horse. I stumbled upon these ruins and felt it was a good place to rest for the night and when I woke this morning he was gone. I must not have secured his reins to the branch tight enough for he wandered off during the night. You haven't happened to see a horse wandering around, have you?"
"I have not," she admitted. His story explained why he didn't have a horse, but his clothes were still too clean for a man who spent the night sleeping in the woods. "Not many people venture out this way, how ever did you manage to find this tower?"
"Luck," he said with a grin.
"How convenient for you," she replied. "To bad your luck didn't help you keep your horse." She was surprised when the man suddenly burst out in laughter. He had a nice laugh, she mused, and couldn't help but smile herself.
"True." he said with a smile. "Is it always this cold here?" he asked, wrapping is cloak tighter around himself and casually glanced behind him. What does he keep looking at? she wondered. "Its much warmer in the Reach."
"Is that where you're from?" she asked him intrigued. Lyanna had always wanted to visit the other kingdoms of Westeros, but has never left the North and has barely left Winterfell.
"Have you ever been there?"
"No, but I hear that it is quite beautiful there." She could picture rolling hills covered in an array of different colored flowers, filling the air with their sweet sent. The North was harsh and often barren, any flowers that did grow there died quickly due to frost and frequent snow falls. "What brings you so far north, if you don't mind my asking?"
"Business mostly, but I have heard stories of the Aurora and its beauty and have always wanted to witness it for myself. It is tonight, is it not?" She nodded her head, affirming her answer. "I thought so, I won't linger here long, I must return home as soon as its over. You should probably do the same, the sun will be setting soon and the woods are not a safe place for a beauty such as yourself." He flashed her a small smile. He had a lovely smile, she wished she could see the rest of the face it belonged to.
"I can take care of myself," Lyanna insisted stubbornly and walked back over to her horse, but he was right, the sun would begin to set soon and she needed to return to Winterfell before it did.
"I have no doubt that you can," he replied as he glanced at the arrow behind him.
"You can keep the squirrel," she announced as she mounted her horse and rode for Winterfell. Lyanna debated on whether or not she should mention the stranger in the woods when she returned, but that would require that she seek out her father and doing so would guarantee that she would be put to work. She knew the man was hiding something from her, but she supposed he had the right to keep secrets. The gods knew she wasn't very forthcoming about her own identity. It was possible the man was in some kind of trouble, it would explain why he wanted to remain anonymous to strangers. Lyanna wasn't the best when it came to solving riddles, she also didn't have the time to stick around and try to figure it out. She had enjoyed her ride with Icelyn a little to much earlier and had lost track of the time. If she was late for dinner, she would receive another dull lecture about responsibility from her father.
In the end she decided not to mention him, there may have been something odd about the man but he seemed nice enough, and she didn't feel as though he were a threat to anyone. Besides, the man said he would be gone soon, and she didn't see any reason to raise alarm over someone who would be gone by morning. When she finally returned to Winterfell, she found the castle to be just as busy as she had left it.
"Lyanna, where have you been? Father as been looking for you" her youngest brother, Benjen, ran up to her as she left the stables.
"I went for a ride to get away from all the chaos."
"Father is rather irritated at your disappearance."
"I don't doubt he is," this wasn't the first time she had forsaken her duties and disappeared, chances are it wouldn't be the last. "Where is Father now?"
"He was in the Great Hall last I saw him."
Good, she thought. That will make it much easier to slip off to her room unnoticed. "Don't let Father know I've returned." She left Benjen in the courtyard and quickly scurried off towards her chambers, but before she could reach the entrance of the Great Keep, a firm hand caught her arm, halting her in her tracks.
"And where do you think you're going sweet sister?" she turned to find the grey eyes of her eldest brother, Brandon, staring back at her. "Father has been searching all over for you."
"So I have heard," she replied slightly annoyed, yanking her arm from his grasp.
"Did you think you could escape all the work?"
"I was hoping to. Your not going to tell Father about me, are you?" she pleaded, desperately wanting to avoid any work their father had in store for her.
"Of course I am, if I have to help with these damn preparations then it is only fair that you suffer along with me" he stated with a smug grin as he turned and walked away.
"Please don't----" she started to follow him in protest, but stopped as a loud voice bellowed across the yard.
She mumbled a curse under her breath as she turned to see her father stalking towards her with Ned following dutifully at his heels. King Arryn allowed Ned to return to Winterfell to celebrate the Aurora, but he was only staying a few weeks. Lyanna made it a priority to spend as much time with her brother as she could before he returned to the Vale.
"Where have you been?" her father asked with a sternness in his voice. His grey eyes, dark as storm clouds, looked upon her unhappily. "I have had the whole castle searching for you."
"Well it seems you found me" she said with a phony smile. "What is it I can do for you Father?"
"You know what" his words did not mask his irritation. "You are the Princess of the North, and as such you have responsibilities around here. It is your duty to help oversee the preparations for the Aurora. Now I want you to report to Lynda in the kitchens before you start getting ready for tonight" he stated firmly, "and I better not hear that you have run off again."
"Of course Father." She tried hard not to roll her eyes as he walked away.
Ned gave her a sympathetic smile before following their father, while Brandon continued to smile at her smugly. Lyanna reluctantly made her way to the kitchens and set about her duties. Afterwards she requested that a hot bath be prepared for her and made her way to her chambers to clean up before the feast. Once she bathed, her nursemaid, Old Nan, arrived to help her dress and fix her hair. For the festival, everyone always dressed in their finest attire, so Lyanna wore a deep blue gown with white snowflakes closely stitched together across the bodice and down the long sleeves, and trickled down the rest of the gown like falling snow. The upper part of her dark hair was braided in the northern fashion, while the rest fell loose down her back in large ringlets and curls.
"There," Old Nan said as she finished the final details, "you look beautiful dear. Your mother would be proud."
Lyanna never considered herself to be a great beauty. She thought her face was too long, her grey eyes she found dull, and her hair was usually a tangled mess. She felt more comfortable wearing trousers, covered in dirt and mud, than she did wearing a dress. As she studied her appearance in the mirror, she couldn't help but notice she had somehow developed a woman's body. Her arms and legs no longer seemed too long and gangly, and her thin frame was filling out. She spent so much time riding and practicing her sword play that she didn't pay any attention to what was happening with her own body. The stranger's nickname 'beautiful' sprang to her mind and Lyanna began to wonder if he wasn't mocking her after all.
"I miss her," she stated sadly to her reflection. She was young when her mother was killed and was never told the specifics of her death. When she was a girl, she asked her father once about what had happened, but all he would tell her was that someone had taken her away from them. The sadness she saw in his eyes that day nearly broke her heart, and she never brought the matter up with him again. It was her brother, Brandon, who told her the truth, that Aerys Targaryen was the one responsible for their mother's death. She has held a grudge against the family ever since, along with the rest of the North.
"We all do, Princess." said Old Nan. "But it doesn't do good to dwell on the past, we must look forward. Your mother will be with us tonight, dancing with the rest of our ancestors." She gave Old Nan a hug and thanked her for her help then quickly pulled on her ridding boots and swept out of the room, making her way to the Great Hall.
The hall was alive with music and merriment as she arrived. All the townsfolk from Winter Town were invited to the castle to join the celebration, as well as several of the king's bannermen and their families. They feasted and drank while they talked and laughed amongst each other. Three huge chandeliers lined with candles brought light to the large room and white banners with a grey direwolf were draped along every wall. Long wood tables stretched out on both sides of the room, divided by a walkway that ended at a long table where the royal family feasted. Lyanna took her seat between Benjen and Ned, overlooking the crowded hall. Tonight was the only night their father allowed them to drink their fill of wine, and Brandon, seated on the other side of Ned next to their father, was taking full advantage of it.
"You look beautiful Lya" Ned smiled at her as she sat down.
"Thank you" she smiled back at him.
"You look like a girl" Benjen chortled, already tipsy. Trying to keep up with Brandon no doubt.
"That's because I am a girl" she replied slightly offended at his remark. For once in her life Lyanna felt beautiful, she didn't need her little brother ruining this moment for her.
"Aye, but now you actually look it" he had the nerve to laugh. Benjen's blue eyes sparkled with amusement, so much like their mother's. Lyanna sent her brother a hard look and was about ready to pour her cup of wine over his head when Ned jumped in.
"I think you may have had enough wine Benjen, perhaps you should switch to water."
"I think not, I am allowed to drink as I please tonight. Father says so" he replied childishly, not acting as old as his thirteen years.
"Just because you can drink all you want, does not mean that you should" said Ned with a sternness on his face that looked so much like their father's.
"Relax Ned, you can be too uptight sometimes" Brandon cut in, slapping Ned on the back, "allow the boy his fun, it is only for one night."
"Perhaps you should switch to water too Brandon" Ned said disapprovingly.
Brandon laughed, "the night has just started, besides you should probably be focusing on your own cup there," he gestured to Ned's half-full cup of wine.
Lyanna ate and drank in relative peace amongst her brothers, watching all the guests mingle around the hall. Brandon had disappeared somewhere amongst the crowd for awhile, most likely chasing after one of the town girls, but reappeared shortly before the final course was served. Brandon was a handsome man, perhaps the most handsome of the three brothers; he was tall and muscular, with dark, shaggy hair and grey eyes. The ladies often swooned when their prince flashed them his roguishly attractive smile. Brandon longed for adventure, much like his sister, and resisted any restraints that tried to tie him down.
Soon the celebrations were moved outside in anticipation of the lights that were to come. More tables and benches where placed around the courtyard for people to continue feasting. A large wooden platform was built in the middle for dancing, with musicians setting up beside it. Torches and lanterns casted a soft glow around the courtyard and large fire pits were erected to fill the space with warmth. The starry sky twinkled above all, clear and beautiful, as the music began to play joyous and lively, beckoning dancers to join in the merriment. Lyanna danced with each of her brothers, several times over, as well as her father and a few of his bannermen. Brandon was a good dancer, even after several cups of wine. Ned wasn't bad either, although he was very unsure of himself. Benjen, having had too much wine, stumbled all over the place, but Lyanna didn't mind. Tonight was a time to have fun and let go, and she found herself feeling light and giddy, having drunk a little too much wine herself.
Glowing streaks of light began dancing across the stars as she spun and twirled around the dance floor. The lights were a wondrous thing to witness, and the colors were breathtaking. Strips of yellows, greens, and purples twisted and twirled across the sky like ribbons blowing in the wind. It was said that the lights were the spirits of their ancestors come to visit their realm once again, joining in the celebration. Its why tonight was a special, sacred holiday amongst the northerners. As Lyanna left the dance floor in search of some refreshments, she smiled as she found Benjen nodding off at one of the tables with a drink still clasped in his hand. Brandon had snuck off with some girl awhile ago and had yet to return. Her father was engaged in conversation with some of his bannermen, while Ned stood alone on the sidelines watching everyone dance. Ned was the shy one of the family, the quiet wolf some called him, while Lyanna was the opposite. Their father liked to say that her and Brandon had wolfs-blood running through their veins, causing their wild and rebellious nature.
Lyanna snatched another cup of wine and joined Ned, "Are you not enjoying yourself brother?" she asked breathless, her heavy breathing creating white puffs of smoke.
"Aye, of course I am," he gave her a light smile.
"Then why do you stand here by your lonesome?" she asked and took a sip while looking across the courtyard. "She is very beautiful," Lyanna announced as she watched Ned out of the corner of her eye.
"Who?" Ned asked innocently, pretending to not know what she was talking about.
"The young lady in the green dress," she pointed to a lovely lady standing by the bonfire chatting with a couple of ladies from town. "I noticed you have been watching her all night. Why don't you ask her to dance?"
A blush crept up his neck, "She has had several suitors tonight already, besides I'm afraid I'm not much of a dancer."
"You are a fine dancer Ned," she told him firmly. "Besides, I think the lady is interested, she has been casting glances at you for a while now."
"She has?" he asked doubtful, looking across the courtyard at the girl with chestnut hair, who gave Ned a small smile before turning away.
"Of course, what girl doesn't dream of dancing with a prince? Now march over there and ask the lady to dance," she gave her brother a firm shove in the right direction. Lyanna stood by smiling as Ned hesitantly approached the girl and asked for a dance. His bright smile at her acceptance was enough to rival the lights in the sky.
"Dance with me Lya," Brandon had suddenly reappeared, sneaking up behind his sister and grabbing her from behind, his breath smelling of wine. Lyanna couldn't help but laugh as he dragged them to the dance floor and the two stumbled into a dance, the wine having affected her more than she realized. No one seemed to notice, or even care as they continued to dance and drink well into the night, and the spirits continued to glow above them.
Suddenly a loud screech exploded out of nowhere, filling her ears.
Thanks for all the positive feedback, sorry it took so long to update. I hope you enjoy this chapter as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Suddenly a loud screech exploded out of nowhere, filling her ears as a great gust of cold wind blew through the courtyard. Shouts and screams erupted all around as people ran and scrambled for cover. Lyanna turned around amongst all the chaos, her heart beating rapidly, to see a huge beast perch itself atop the outer walls of the castle, with its great wings stretching wide. A dragon, it dawned on her instantly; she had never seen one in all her sixteen years. The site of it was enough to sober her instantly. The creature was massive, its scales shimmered a deep red in the firelight and its yellow eyes gleamed as it lowered its head and a man climbed down from atop its back.
He was beautiful, perhaps the most handsome man she had ever seen. He was tall and lean, with silver hair that hung down past his shoulders, shinning in the firelight. He had a strong jaw, high cheek bones, and a perfectly straight nose. His clothes, all black, were finely made and fit him perfectly, outlining his toned frame. He stood before everyone with an air of confidence, and as he spoke, she instantly knew they had met before.
"My apologies," he announced over the courtyard in fake sincerity. "I had no idea that you were hosting a party tonight King Rickard, my invitation must have gotten lost." He sauntered closer, a pompous smirk placed across his beautiful face. The same smirk Lyanna had seen earlier that day in the wolfswood. All the pieces fit into place for her now; why he didn't have a horse, why his clothes were so clean, and why he chose to remain in the shadows and not reveal himself. He was a Targaryen, an enemy of the North. He must of rode there on his dragon and waited in the wolfswood for the right moment to strike.
"You were not invited," venom laced King Rickard's voice as he strode across the courtyard to confront the man.
He ignored the king and stared up at the sky to admire the view, "the Aurora is truly a beautiful sight to behold."
"You have no right to be here, not tonight," the king spat at him angrily.
"I have every right to be here," the man said confidently, standing casually with his hands behind his back. "You owe my house a debt, a life debt to be exact. I have come to collect."
What was he talking about? Lyanna couldn't help but wonder. Her father couldn't possibly owe the Targaryen's anything. She studied her father's face, but he seemed composed at the man's statement, almost as if he had been expecting this. Brandon was not as calm as their father appeared to be. He had gone as tense as a snake beside Lyanna, and seemed ready to strike out at any moment. She instantly regretted not telling anyone about her encounter in the woods, but she never thought for a second that the man would turn out to be a Targaryen.
"Now is not the time for this, Prince Rhaegar," her father said softly, trying to reason with the man. "Tonight is a sacred holiday for my people, no blood shall be spilled under the lights. We can deal with this matter tomorrow."
"The debt is mine to collect whenever I choose, that is the arrangement we agreed upon. I choose now."
"And I have told you," her father was starting to get irritated. "You can not kill me tonight, not while the lights cast their glow upon us."
Lyanna's heart nearly leapt out of her chest at her father's words. Kill him? He couldn't possibly mean it. The castle was full of her father's allies, loyal men who would fight to the death to defend their king, this man wouldn't dare try anything while surrounded by so many enemies. Although most of the men were unarmed, as it was forbidden to shed blood during the Aurora, and the prince did have a dragon. Brandon began to stir and moved to approach them, but their father took notice and sent him a look that warned him to stay out of it. Lyanna glanced over at Ned, his face was stoic and void of emotion, but she could clearly see fear reflecting from his grey eyes. Beside him stood Benjen, now fully alert, looking just as shocked and frightened as she was.
"I have no intention of killing you King Rickard, so calm yourself. The life I have come to collect is that of your daughter." Rhaegar looked over at Lyanna for the first time, a spark of recognition lit up his eyes and his lips formed into a smile. She couldn't help but notice how beautiful his smile truly was, adding to his already perfect features. Oddly enough, it only made her hate him more.
Fear and rage began to build up within her father, like a storm ready to be unleashed, and her brothers all stared at her in shock at the prince's statement. Brandon looked like an enraged wolf ready to attack, he suddenly turned on his heals and stormed out of the courtyard. Where was he going? Prince Rhaegar didn't look worried about any of this, he continued to stand there with his hands behind his back and a smile on his face, looking completely unfazed.
"The arrangement we made was for me, leave my children out of this," King Rickard spoke, trying his best to remain calm.
"You only assumed it was for you; however, I never said it was your life we wanted."
"I will not allow you to kill my daughter!" the king ground out angrily, struggling to resist the urge to attack the man before him.
"Enough blood has been spilled Your Grace, I have no wish to add to it," the prince stated calmly. "Your daughter will come live with me as my guest," he started to walk towards Lyanna, but King Rickard reached out and grabbed him tightly by the arm before he could pass.
"Are you refusing our peace offering King Rickard?" Prince Rhaegar asked as he looked the king in the eye, challenging him. "A life for a life, that was the deal we made, to end the feud between us. If you refuse, our treaty will be retracted and our houses can declare war on each other once more." He leaned in closer, and with a threatening tone he spoke, "And I promise you, I will collect the life debt either way." King Rickard continued to stare the prince down until he reluctantly let him go, defeat written across his face.
"Good decision, Your Grace," the prince said as he straightened out his sleeve. "The peace we have developed over these past few moons has been refreshing. This debt will ensure it continues." He continued to advance toward her, "Your daughter will be under my protection King Rickard, I assure you no harm shall befall her."
Brandon chose that moment to return and stepped in front of Lyanna, like a shield to guard her, and stared down the prince. He held a sword in his hand and raised up in a challenge then spoke in a menacing voice, "You are not taking my sister anywhere!"
The dragon lingering in the shadows began to stir as its master was threatened. Its serpentine body was curled around itself with its wings tucked in close to its body. Its fierce, golden eyes glowed in the darkness, fixing its gaze in their direction. White puffs of smoke rose from its nostrils with every breath it took, making it appear even more menacing. Lyanna couldn't help but wonder if the master was just as deadly as the beast. It was terrifying to think that she may get the chance to find out.
"Stand down Brandon." Her father demanded, fearful of what might happen if the dragon decided to defend its master. Brandon didn't seem to notice, or maybe he just didn't care, he was not a man that backed down from a challenge.
"No! He is not taking----"
"I said stand down!" the king shouted with authority. Brandon gripped his sword tightly, staring daggers at the prince who stood bravely before him, his hand was on his own sword, ready to draw it if need be.
"Please Brandon." Lyanna softly pleaded with her brother. Brandon was one of the best swordsmen she knew, but it wasn't his skill that worried her. She fully believed her brother could hold his own against the prince, but she wasn't sure of how well he would fare against his dragon. After what seemed like an eternity, Brandon reluctantly obeyed and lowered his sword.
"Take me in her place," Brandon demanded. "The heir to the North would be of more value to you."
"No, I think not." The prince flashed a cocky smile, "You are not nearly as pretty as your sister." He slapped Brandon playfully on the arm as he walked passed him, only angering her brother further.
"The Princess will be leaving with me," Rhaegar declared as he reached for her, but Lyanna violently pulled out of his grasp. "I'm not going anywhere with you!"
"You don't have to, Princess," the prince regarded her calmly. "But if you chose not to, then I will be forced to chose one of your brothers to fulfill the dept." His hand caressed the hilt of his sword as he spoke and fear squeezed Lyanna's heart as she realized what that gesture meant.
"Living or dead," the prince continued, "I will get the life that is owed to me." His voice was low and cold as he spoke to her, chilling her to the bone. As much as she loathed the thought of going anywhere with this man, she couldn't allow him to harm her family. She would never forgive herself if something happened to one of them that she could have prevented.
"You won't harm them if I go with you willingly?"
"They will remain safe, those were the terms of our deal."
"Can I at least say goodbye?" she asked in a small voice.
"Make it quick," the prince said rashly before he walked over to his dragon, allowing her some privacy to say her goodbyes.
"Lya," Brandon was suddenly embracing her tightly, shielding her from the world. "You are not going anywhere," his voice was firm and strong, giving her the strength to do what needed to be done. Ned and Benjen quickly rushed to her side as well, followed by their father.
"I have too," she said softly into Brandon's chest, "for all of you." Tears were stinging her eyes and threatened to fall at any moment.
"No, you don't," he grabbed her by the shoulders, "We can find another way to deal with this."
"Death is the other way Brandon."
"He can try to kill me if he dares," he answered, his voice full of anger.
"What if its not you he chooses? What if its Benjen? Could you live with that Brandon?" He didn't respond, but his silence was answer enough. "It's not worth the risk." Lyanna stated sadly and hugged her brother one last time before letting go.
Benjen tackled her next with tears rolling down his cheeks. He embraced her in a hug so tight she almost couldn't breath. Her little brother was growing up quickly, he had already begun to surpass her in height. Benjen was her partner in crime, willing to follow her through any adventure, she would miss him most of all.
"You are strong Lya, I know you will be alright," Ned whispered to her as he replaced Benjen in her arms. Lyanna could only nod her response, not trusting her voice to speak. Ned was her rock that kept her grounded, she didn't know how she was going to survive without him to guide her. He gave her a kiss on the cheek before handing her over to their father.
"I wouldn't have made this pact if I had known their true intentions," King Rickard said as held his daughter close like he wouldn't let go. "I should have known King Aerys had other intentions, but---"
"Its alright Father," her voice was small and quivering as she held in her tears. She took a deep breath to get her emotions under control before continuing, "Everything will be fine, I can take care of myself" she stated with a bit more confidence than she felt.
"I know you can" he whispered back, hugging her tighter and planting a kiss on the top of her head "I love you, my little wolf."
Lyanna finally broke at the use of her old nickname, he hasn't called her that since she was a little girl. Tears burst from her eyes like a broken dam and she sobbed silently into her father's chest while clutching on to him tightly. She took several deep, ragged breaths to calm herself before she reluctantly let go of her father. If she remained in his embrace much longer she would never be able to let go. She had never felt such pain rip through her heart as she gazed upon her family one last time. Lyanna scanned their faces, one by one, memorizing every imperfect detail; Benjen's dark rumpled hair, the wildness in Brandon's grey eyes compared to the softness in Ned's, her father's slightly crooked nose and grey speckled beard. She didn't know when she would see any of them again, if she ever would.
"Remember our words," her father said to her, "Winter is coming."
Lyanna nodded before turning away, unable to bear the fear and sadness lurking upon their faces. She inhaled deeply to calm herself and build the strength she needed to walk away. Her legs and feet felt as if they were made of iron as she forced herself to take that first step towards the prince. Each step that followed was a struggle as she slowly got closer and closer to the waiting dragon. It was terrifying to be near such a towering beast, she was so close she could feel the heat of its breath. The prince stood tall and graceful as he held out his hand for her. Lyanna's body betrayed her as she reached out a trembling hand and unwillingly grasped his own. Stay strong, she told herself, don't show him your afraid. Don't give him that pleasure. She held back a wave of panic as the prince helped her climb onto the dragon and get settled upon its back.
"Prince Rhaegar," King Rickard suddenly yelled across the courtyard. "Please, spare my daughter from this. It was I who made the deal, it is I you should be taking." He tried pleading with Rhaegar one last time, but the desperation in his voice did nothing to sway the prince. He silently climbed onto the dragon behind Lyanna, ignoring the king's plea.
Lyanna closed her eyes, keeping her tears locked in as she felt the beast lift off the ground, its wings creating gusts of cold wind that swirled around her. Her hands gripped tightly to the talons on its back, holding on for her life. A strong arm snaked around her middle, pressing her against a warm, solid chest. She would have pushed him away if not for her complete fear of falling off the beast and plummeting to her death. She forced her eyes open and took a peak, Winterfell stretched out below her, the castle that housed hundreds of generations of her family. Lyanna watched helplessly as her home and her life faded into the night.
Sorry for the wait, please enjoy this next chapter.
The sun began to peek out over the horizon as they soared above the Dragonlands. Where the North was often cold and desolate; the Dragonlands were warm and lush. Lyanna could see green fields and farmlands below her, speckled by small towns and villages. Streched out in front of her, along the coast, was a grand city.
"Welcome to King's Landing, the largest city in all of Westeros" the prince announced suddenly.
It was the biggest city Lyanna have ever seen, and the foulest smelling. She scrunched up her nose at the stench as they began their decent over the city. King's Landing was the most prosperous city in all the seven kingdoms. People from all across Westeros migrate to the city seeking better opportunities for themselves or their families, it is said that half a million people were housed within its walls. Sitting on the edge of a cliff, atop a hill, loomed a large red castle. The Red Keep, the prince called it, the castle of King Aerys Targaryen. It towered over the city, casting an ominous shadow, as if an evil presence lurked behind its walls. And they were headed straight for it.
Her stomach lurched as the dragon came to a landing and Lyanna scampered down from its back as fast as she could. Her legs were wobbly as she landed and she silently thanked the old gods for the solid ground beneath her feet. A strong arm tried to encircle her waist to help stabilize her, but she violently pushed it away. "I don't need your help" she spat out angrily, stumbling away from him. The prince raised is hands innocently and backed off, leaving her to stumble around on her own. The dragon then began shrieking at its master while fidgeting in place and ruffling its wings.
"Alright, go on" the prince waved the dragon off with a light chuckle.
Lyanna stood and watched as the dragon took flight. With the sun rising, casting its light upon the world, she could see the dragon more clearly. Its scales were a deep, dark red with highlights of gold that glimmered in the sunlight. The upper half of its broad wings were red and faded into orange. The beast looked like living flame streaking across the sky, it was astonishingly beautiful.
"His name is Sunfyre," she turned to look at the prince as he spoke. His eyes shone a beautiful shade of indigo, and his skin was lightly sun-kissed. "Come," he gestured for her to follow, "I must take you to the king."
The throne room was large and dimly lit, giving it a sinister feeling. Black banners with a red sigil of a three headed dragon hung over all the windows, blocking out the sun. Torches lit with strange green fire lined the walls, providing what little light was present. Dragon skulls of various sizes hung along the walls; their dark, eyeless sockets watching as she passed, intimidating her with their stare. The prince led her to a raised dais at the end of the room, flanked by armored guards in white cloaks. King Aerys sat upon a throne wielded entirely out swords, which stuck out in every direction at sharp angles, some of the blades around the armrest where coated in dried blood. If the throne itself wasn't menacing enough, the man who sat upon it was far more terrifying. He had the same silver hair as his son, only it was longer and a tangled mess, drawing attention away from the beautiful golden crown that rested atop his head. His black clothes hung loosely upon his frail body, the color contrasting strongly with his pale skin making him resemble a corpse. His hands were covered in thin scabs and scars, while his fingernails were long and curved over the throne like claws. There was no doubt that he was the malicious presents that lurked within the castle.
The prince bowed as they approached the King. "Father, I have brought you the daughter of King Rickard Stark, the King in the North."
The king's mouth curved into a creepy smile, revealing his yellowed teeth. "You have done excellent my son. The wolves will know what it is like to anger the dragon," he said in a gruff voice.
"I have waited a long time for this moment," the king continued, "How did Stark react? Did he seem distraught to you?"
"He was devastated to lose his daughter, Your Grace, and begged for her release," the prince said in a neutral tone, making the king smile once more.
Then his smile slowly faded, "He will detest the day he took them from me." The king fixed his dull eyes on Lyanna for the first time, "now I have taken something precious from him, his own daughter. Perhaps I shall send her back to him, piece by piece," he chuckled softly, madness glistening in his purple eyes. An uneasy feeling settled over her as she began to realize her life lied in the hands of a mad man. She couldn't stop the images that soon flooded her mind, of her father opening a crate to find her in pieces, bile crept up her throat at the thought of it.
"We agreed to end the war between our families," Prince Rhaegar responded, sounding concerned. "Harming her would be a violation----"
"We may have agreed to end the bloodshed," the king interrupted, his booming voice was cold and vicious, "I said nothing about not making Stark suffer." He gripped the arms of his throne tightly, cutting his wrist on one of the sharp blades.
"Then might I make a suggestion?" voiced Prince Rhaegar.
"Go on," the king said flatly.
"If you want King Rickard to suffer, then perhaps we should make him suffer slowly." The prince suggested, fixing the king with a small smile. "Keeping the princess alive will prolong his pain."
"Slowly," the king spoke softly as if he was speaking to himself, "yes, he shall suffer slowly."
Prince Rhaegar continued, "Having the princess here is punishment enough for King Rickard, I should think. The longer we hold his daughter, the more he will worry for her. His mind will fill with every possible horror that could befall her while in our possession. It will drive him mad. It will break him."
Lyanna wanted to believe her father was stronger than that, but she couldn't help but feel there was some truth to his words. Her father would worry profusely over her while she was gone. Every minute of every day he will wonder if she was alright, if she was safe, if she was even alive. It may in fact break him.
The madness in the kings eyes was suddenly replaced by a moment of clarity, "I want all to bear witness to the Stark princess' humiliation at the hands of the Targaryen's. We shall knock the honorable King Rickard Stark down from that ivory tower he as built for himself before we break him completely."
Her stomach was turning over on itself with apprehension. I thought the whole purpose of my presents here was to bring peace. She should have known it was all a lie. 'Never trust a Targaryen', her brother Brandon used to say to her. She should have stayed home were she was safe with her family.
"A solid plan, Your Grace" the prince flashed the king another small smile, although it did not reach his eyes.
"Yes, until then, I have a cell in the dungeons prepared for her," the king said dismissively.
"Actually, Your Grace" Prince Rhaegar smiled wickedly, "I was hoping to keep her with me." His hand caressed her shoulder softly before slowly running down the curve of her body, devouring her with his eyes as he did so. "I have developed a bit of a fascination for her beauty." His hand rested on her hip, giving it a soft squeeze as he returned his gaze to the king. Lyanna wanted to cringe away from his touch, but she didn't dare react so rashly in front of the king. Mad men could be dangerous and unpredictable and Aerys seemed to fit that mold well.
The king laughed huskily at his son, "she is yours, have your way with her," he dismissed them with a wave of his hand. The prince bowed once more before the king, Lyanna, however, kept her posture straight. He is not my king. Prince Rhaegar turned around on his heels and led them out of the hall. As soon as the doors closed behind them, she felt as though she could breath again. The prince attempted to grip her elbow but she shoved his hand away.
"This way, beautiful" he motioned them forward, amusement reflected in his indigo eyes. Lyanna reluctantly followed him through the gloomy castle, the prince spoke as she walked beside him. "When King Aegon I first came to Westeros, he could have conquered the whole continent if he wanted, he had dragons after all, but he didn't. He didn't believe he had the right to conquer families whom had ruled these lands for centuries. He carved a kingdom for himself, he had to take lands belonging to the surrounding kingdoms in order to do it, but the kings quickly conceded their lands when they discovered how powerful a dragon could be. Aegon wanted a throne that would intimidate his subjects and those of the other kingdoms, so he used dragon fire to build the Iron Throne from the swords of those who were foolish enough to try to resist him. The throne is a warning to everyone of just how powerful our family can be."
As he finished his tale, they came to a stop before a large wooden door. The prince opened it and stepped aside, motioning her to enter and Lyanna hesitated before doing so. It was a small room with two large, lush chairs in the center that faced one another, separated by a small table. The windows were open, allowing a warm light and a small breeze to enter the room. Two doors stood on either side of the small room, only one was slightly ajar. Lyanna was always a curious child so she moved to push the door farther open. Her stomach reeled as she took in the large black bed centered against the far wall. 'Have your way with her', the kings words echoed through her mind. If this man thought he could force himself upon me, she thought, then he better think again. Or maybe he is arrogant enough to think that I would willingly open my legs for him. Her heart began to beat strongly in her chest as she heard the soft thud of the door closing behind her. She whirled around to face him as he started to walk toward her.
"Don't come any closer," she warned him, but he ignored her and continued to approach. "I mean it," she held her hand out, ready to defend herself if he dared to touch her, but he didn't. Instead, to Lyanna's surprise, he walked right by her to open his armoire and pulled out a black shirt and handed it to her. He smiled at the confusion written across her face.
"I, for one, am quite exhausted, and I imagine you must be too. I thought you may want something a little more comfortable than your gown to sleep in."
"No thank you," she shoved the shirt back at him "I don't want your clothes."
He quirked an eyebrow and a broad smile slowly broke across his face. "Your right, it would be much better to sleep in your under clothes. Or perhaps you prefer the nude?" This time Lyanna didn't hesitate as she reached out to slap him, but he saw it coming and caught her wrist before her hand could make contact with his cheek.
Tisk, tisk, tisk, he clicked with his tongue. "That is no way to properly treat your host."
"You are no proper host," she hissed back at him as she yanked her arm from his grasp.
"No?" he asked with feigned innocence, "And here I thought I was, since I kept you out of the dungeons and offered you sanctum in my own chambers," he shook his head, feigning his disappointment.
"Sanctum?" she chuckled bitterly at his absurd choice in words. "Your offer comes with a price. I know what it is you want," she said heatedly as a small blush crept up her neck, "I'm not sharing your bed."
"As wonderful as that thought is to entertain, beautiful" he plastered an arrogant smile on his face, "I have no intention of sleeping with you either. Now, since I am a gentleman, you may have the bed while I will sleep on the sofa." He gestured to a large sofa that stood on the opposite side of the room.
"I am a princess of the North, I demand a room of my own" Lyanna said defiantly. She couldn't be expected to share a room him, it wasn't proper, especially for a princess.
"I'm afraid that is not possible." Prince Rhaegar responded casually while shaking his head, "My father believes you are of use to me. As long as he continues to think so, he will allow you to remain in my chambers. Otherwise it is the dungeons for you, beautiful. Unless of course, you would prefer to stay in the dark, filthy dungeons, sleeping amongst the rats and the vermin," the corner of his mouth lifted into a pompous smirk as he spoke.
Lyanna sent him a wrathful look of her own, "I will take the sofa" she said dejected, crossing her arms. She refused to go anywhere near his bed.
"Alright, suit yourself," he walked toward the bed and started to untie the laces of his jerkin. A blush crept up her neck as she realized he planned on undressing in front of her. The nerve of this man! He deposited his jerkin on a chair and began to tug on his tunic.
"What are you doing?" she asked alarmed.
"Getting ready for bed," he turned to look at her, amusement lighting up his face. "Do you need some assistance with your dress, Princess?"
"No!" Lyanna's voice came out quick and sharp in an attempt to hide how flustered he was making her feel. He smiled, seeing through her disguise and continued to pull at his shirt. She quickly turned away before he had the chance to pull it off completely and could hear his soft laughter from behind her. What a gentleman, she thought to herself. Of course a true gentleman would never place a lady in such a precarious position. She shouldn't have been so surprised, he was a Targaryen after all, she knew they had no morals or sense of honor. This is just a game to him. A ploy to distract me so he can catch me off my guard. Well its not going to work. She sat down and pulled off her boots and laid out on the sofa, intentionally keeping her gaze from drifting to the other side of the room.
Lyanna wasn't sure she would be able to sleep in this heat, it was far hotter here than what she was used to. The long sleeves and thick layers of her gown were stifling. Perhaps I should have accepted his tunic when he offered it to me. Although there was no way she would have undressed in front of him, or parade around in only a shirt for that matter. After an hour of tossing around, exhaustion finally over came her and she fell into a fitful sleep.
Sorry for the long wait, here is the next chapter. Please enjoy!
The air felt even hotter when Lyanna awoke. Her gown was damp with sweat, her hair was as well, and it clung to her neck and face. She desperately needed a drink, something to moisten the dryness overwhelming her mouth. She cautiously took a small peek across the room and was relieved to find the bed empty. The cool stone felt good against her bare feet as she stood up and walked over to one of the windows and opened the shutters. The light breeze that wafted through felt marvelous against her damp skin, although she could have lived without the faint stench it brought with it. The sun was set in the western half of the sky making it late-afternoon, she had only been asleep a few hours. She was rather surprized she was able to sleep at all in this heat.
Unsure what to do with herself, Lyanna wandered around the room taking everything in. It was a spacious room and nicely decorated with beautiful myrish rugs and tapestries of dragons along the walls. A glint of light caught her eye and she turned to find a small golden harp laying on a table next to a window. She walked over to it and gently ran her fingers over the strings, plucking each one as she did, filling the quiet space with a soft, silvery tune. It must of belonged to the prince, but she was having a difficult time picturing such an arrogant man playing such a beautiful instrument.
A knock sounded at the door pulling her out of her thoughts, followed by a soft groan as it opened, she turned around to find a couple of maids enter carrying a copper tub. A few more followed behind them lugging buckets of water.
"Prince Rhaegar sent us to arrange a bath for you Princess" said one of the maids with a curtsy.
"'Tis a cold bath, Princess" another answered, "the water was drawn straight from the well."
A cold bath did sound very appealing, "Thank you."
One of the maids remained behind to help Lyanna out of her dress before she was dismissed, her skin instantly found some relief after being released from the confines of that dress. The water was cool, as promised, but not nearly as cold as her body craved it to be. Still, it felt good to escape the hot air for a moment, and even more wonderful to wash away the sticky sweat that coated every inch of her skin. She was beyond pruned when she finally got out of the tub and rummaged through the armoire for something she could possibly wear. The prince's clothes turned out to be far to large, so she donned a black robe she had found instead. While plaiting her hair into a thick braid, she was startled by another knock at the door.
"You may enter," Lyanna called out across the room, expecting another maid. Instead the prince walked in with something draped across his arm. He stopped suddenly as he entered, his indigo eyes taking in her appearance. She was suddenly very aware that she was wearing his robe and had to fight to keep herself from blushing.
"What's that?" she asked, clutching the lapels of the robe together tightly as she stood.
"A dress," he held the dress out for her to inspect, "For you." She approached warily and ran a hand over the fabric. The sky blue material was soft and smooth and made of the finest silks.
"I have my own dress," Lyanna said stubbornly taking a step away from him. She thought it was best not to accept to much from this man, she didn't want him to think she owed him anything in return.
"As beautiful as your gown is, I thought you could use a dress more appropriate for the climate." He held the dress out farther for her, "Go on, I insist." When she made no move to accept the dress, he persisted. "'Tis a gift Princess, I want you to be comfortable while you stay here." When that didn't work, he tried a different tactic, his irritation starting to bubble to the surface. "Your own dress would make you completely miserable, 'tis far to heavy for this heat. Besides, you can not expect to wear the same dress day after day."
He had a point, she could barely make it through the morning in her own dress, how did she expect to last a full day? She would have to endure the sweat soaked clothes and sticky skin everyday she was there, for however long that would be. Her gown was like an oven and she was not looking forward to roasting in it once again. Lyanna reluctantly snatched the dress out of his hands, her own irritation starting to build as he flashed her that smirk of his.
"I knew you would see the light," he winked and turned to leave the room, "I will be waiting for you in the other room as you change."
The prince's dress was far different from anything Lyanna had ever worn before. Thick straps formed the sleeves, leaving her shoulders and arms bare. The v-shaped bodice revealed much more of her chest than she preferred, but the skirt was light and flowy. The fashions of this kingdom proved to be much more revealing than that of the North. Although she had to admit, despite its immodesty, the dress was very light and much more comfortable to endure the heat in. Once finished, she crossed the room and opened the door to the antechamber to find him standing there waiting. His eyes looked up at her as the door opened.
"There" he smiled while taking in her appearance, "that's much better, isn't it? 'Tis a good color on you, Princess." Lyanna didn't respond, she wanted to cross her arms over her chest or find something to cover herself, but refused to let him see just how uncomfortable and exposed she felt in this dress.
"I thought we should get to know each other a little better since you will be staying here. I'm afraid I don't even know your name," he stood before her with his hands behind his back. "I'm Prince Rhaegar, as I'm sure you already know, and your name would be?"
"Lyanna" she spat out angrily.
"Lyanna" he smiled brightly, ignoring her attitude toward him, "a beautiful name for a beautiful lady. Or are you still not a lady?"
"Did you know who I was? Back in the wolfswood?"
"I did not, I must admit it was quite a surprise to find the huntress and the princess to be one in the same."
"If I had known who you were, my arrow would have found a different target."
"I suppose we are both lucky you didn't," he smiled. She didn't feel lucky, if she had put an arrow through his black heart she would still be home in Winterfell, safe and surrounded by her family.
Lyanna was never the kind of person that beat around the bush, so she cut right to the chase. "What are you going to do with me?" she asked him with a little hostility.
"Nothing. You are my guest here." She found that rather hard to believe. Why would he abduct her from her home just to have nothing done to her?
"The King spoke differently." She recalled that very morning King Aerys admitted he had plans to use her against her father. She would never let that happen of course, she would die fighting before she would allow them to use her in such a way.
"My father and I don't see eye to eye on many things. I apologize for his behavior earlier, he has not been himself since my mother's death." His words sounded sincere, she knew what it was like to lose a mother. But she also knew better than to trust him. The Targaryen's were murderous monsters, she must keep her guard up at all times for as long as she was there. "I thought I would give you a tour of the castle before dinner, since you will be staying here for awhile."
"And how long will that be?" she couldn't keep the bitterness out of her voice.
"However long it takes," he responded with the same bitterness, "to bring peace to our kingdoms. Follow me." He walked out of the room and down the corridor, she had to quicken her steps in order to keep up.
They toured the castle in an unpleasant silence. The prince only spoke to relate the different parts of the castle and Lyanna had no desire to try to start an unwanted conversation. He showed her the armory, the library, the maiden vault, and the small sept. He pointed out the barracks of the gold cloaks, the white sword tower, and the tower of the hand. He showed her where to find the kitchens as well as the stables, although he informed her that she wasn't allowed to leave the castle grounds. He reminded her where she could find throne room, even though she had no desire to ever return there again. The godswood was the only place that truly held any interest for Lyanna, but it appeared to be more of a garden than an actual godswood. As the sun began to set, they ended the tour where they had begun, in front of the prince's chambers.
"This is our last stop."
"I have already seen your room," she said confused, "are you really going to show me again?"
"Actually," he walked to the door across the hall, "I was referring to this room." He opened the door and walked inside with Lyanna following curiously behind him.
It was a large, bright room that was lavishly furnished and decorated. A small sitting area stood to one side of the room next to a large fireplace. On the opposite side was a beautiful canopy bed with white and gold sheets. At the back of the room was a balcony, the double doors opened to a lovely view of the sea.
"What is this?"
"Your room," he stated simply with his hands behind his back.
"I don't understand, I thought I couldn't have a room of my own?"
"The king has decided to allow you to stay here instead of the dungeons. Besides, its inappropriate for you to stay in my chambers." He smiled mischievously, "although, I wouldn't object if you wanted to remain---"
"No!" she wheeled around sharply to face him, then quickly composed herself and continued in a calmer manner, "no, this will do fine. I suppose I'm just finding it hard to believe the king simply changed his mind."
"I may have influenced him a little."
"Just a little?" she inquired with a raise of her brow. It was obvious King Aerys didn't hold her in very high regards, he wanted to keep her locked in the dungeons after all. The prince must have bent over backwards, while juggling, in order to get the king to allow her to stay in such lavish accommodations.
"It might have taken some serious persuasion on my part, but he seemed content to allow it after I claimed that I didn't want you lingering in my room after I've 'had my way with you'," he gave her a cheeky grin. "I expressed that the dungeons where much to far away, that I wished to keep you close so you could satisfy my desires at whim."
She couldn't keep her face from reddening at his words. "You shouldn't imply such things about me, I am a princess not some harlot you can slander."
"Apologies Princess," he continued to smile, not at all looking regretful, "but it got you your own room, did it not? Besides, I couldn't stand to share my room with you another day, you snore."
"I do no such thing!"
"I'm afraid you do, beautiful," his cocky smile was starting to irritate her, "and quite loudly I might add. I was shocked to discover that a princess could produce such thunderous sounds."
"You must be mistaken," she demanded as her cheeks started to burn, "princesses simply do not snore." No one else had ever told her that she snored before, but it could be possible that nobody else knew. Finding out about such things from someone so beautiful and perfect was rather embarrassing.
"If you say so, Princess," his grin was so wide she was surprised it didn't split his face in two. "I must take my leave, dinner with my father will begin shortly. I will have the kitchens bring your dinner up to you, goodnight Princess Lyanna."
She was relieved when he finally left, and even more relieved to know she wasn't expected to join the king for dinner. She wasn't sure if she could sit through a meal with her mother's murderer sharing the same table. She knew the prince was toying with her, trying to get under her skin. If she was being honest with herself, he was succeeding a little. She needed to show him that nothing he could do or say will have any affect on her. She was a Stark after all, and a northern princess at that, she was made of stronger stuff.
I know my chapters have mostly focused on Lyanna and her perspective, I found she is easier for me to write, but I will try harder to add other perspectives to my story. This chapter follows Rhaegar for a change, I hope you enjoy it.
"I don't know how I'm going to handle this princess." Rhaegar unloaded his troubles onto his two friends, Jon Cunnington and Oswell Whent. "She is stubborn, rude, and annoyingly defiant." Teasing her was about the only pleasure he could get from being in her presents.
"I saved her from living in the dungeons, convinced my father to give her a room in Meagor's Holdfast, which was no easy task by the way, and did I get a thank you for my efforts? No, of course not!" Rhaegar frustratingly adjusted the hood of his cloak to make sure it blocked his face from view. He chose a corner table to help conceal him from the other patrons occupying the nearly empty tavern. He had spent most of the day in council meetings performing duties that should have been handled by the king, however his father refused to attend them. All Rhaegar wanted was to enjoy a night away from the castle with a couple friends as company.
"I don't know why you even brought her here," grumbled Jon as he took a large swig of ale. "You should have killed King Stark and be done with this whole mess." The two had met as children when Jon traveled to the Dragonlands with his father. The Lords of Griffin's Roost have been Emissaries of the Stormlands for generations, sent to the Dragonlands to orchestrate trade between the two kingdoms. Jon was now the current Lord and Emissary, stationed in King's Landing to oversee trading within the city.
"I need her so I can bring lasting peace to my kingdom and end the war between our families for good. Killing the northern king would not accomplish that."
"You want to end the war between your families? Ride Sunfyre north and show the Stark's the true power of the dragon," said Jon as he finished his ale. A few years ago Rhaegar would have taken his friends advice and wiped the Starks from existence. He hated Rickard Stark for what he had done to his family, but if this war has shown him anything its that he can't not fight fire with more fire.
"I want to deal with this matter diplomatically Jon, to show my people that I am not blood thirsty like my father." Rhaegar took a drink then studied the ale swirling around in his tankard.
"No body believes such things about you. You are loved by your people." Jon was a loyal friend, but his opinions in regards to the prince were always biased. Rhaegar was not oblivious to how Jon truly felt about him. He knew Jon's feelings ran deeper than mere friendship, however Rhaegar's love for him was strictly brotherly and nothing more.
"If it is diplomacy you are after, then perhaps you should not have kidnaped the northern princess." Oswell finally spoke up after taking a drink of his own ale. Oswell Whent was a member of his father's Kingsguard, but his true loyalties lied with Prince Rhaegar.
"I did not kidnap her," Rhaegar persuaded. "I took her under the sanctioned rules of our agreement."
"The Stark's may not see it that way, not after you tricked them with the terms your deal." Oswell continued.
"Who cares what the northerners think, everyone knows they are nothing but brute savages," Jon rambled. It was evident that Jon held no love for the northerners as he continued to rant about them, but Rhaegar was no longer listening. He was too focused on what Oswell had said. What if he was right? What if I had only made things worse between our kingdoms?
"King Rickard promised there would be no retaliation. The Stark's are known for their honor, I'm sure he will stay true to his word." Although Rhaegar wasn't sure if he was trying to convince them or himself.
"The Stark's are so full of honor I'm surprised they don't choke on it. I still say you should have killed their king." Jon finished ranting and signaled for another tankard of ale.
"I don't think the northerners would take the killing of their king very lightly." Oswell regarded Jon with a hostile look.
Rhaegar jumped in and tried to defuse some of the tension building between the two, "King Rickard gave me his word, I am inclined to believe he will keep it." Rhaegar may have nothing but hatred for the man, but he could tell he was a man of honor.
"Would he? I'm not so sure, not if he happened to find out that his daughter was staying in your chambers with you.....alone." Oswell sent him a knowing look of disapproval. Jon sent him a hurtful look of his own while shaking his head.
"Nothing happened between us," Rhaegar tried to clarify the situation. "And I don't want either of you to talk about it. I may not be fond of the girl or her family, but I will not have her reputation ruined."
"If you are so worried about her reputation, then why have her stay with you in your chambers?" Oswell continued to pry.
"My father wanted to throw her in the dungeons, was I supposed to just let him?" Rhaegar said with frustration. "She deserved better accommodations than that. Besides, I only wanted to keep her safe, I don't trust my father with her."
"And the safest place you could think of was your bedroom?" Oswell asked him with a raise of his brow.
"Do I truly have to defend myself to you?" Rhaegar asked with annoyance. "She has her own room now does she not? You two should know I would never dishonor a lady in such a way."
"Of course not," Jon spoke up, "you are a handsome prince, the ladies practically fall at your feet, you could have anyone your heart desired. Besides, from what I've heard about that brother of hers, it wouldn't surprise me none if the princess wasn't even a maiden."
"You will not say such things about the princess," Rhaegar scolded Jon firmly. "I may not have any fondness for the girl, but I will not allow her virtue to be questioned due to mindless gossip." Jon took a sip of his ale and said no more on the subject.
Rhaegar heaved a sigh and ran a hand over his face, "I realize I should not have made Princess Lyanna stay in my rooms, it was bad judgment on my part. I just wanted her close so I could keep an eye on her, but by doing so, I placed her in a precarious position. She has her own room now and she is still close enough that I can monitor her. A little support from the two of you would be very helpful." Rhaegar looked to them both, focusing more of his attention toward Jon until they both nodded in agreement.
"Thank you," Rhaegar sighed and leaned back in his chair. "Now, can we please drop this subject and focus on drinking our weight in ale?"
Oswell smiled and raised his tankard, "I will drink to that."
"Whatever my prince commands," replied Jon as he lifted his ale as well.
Rhaegar lifted his own drink, ale sloshed across the table as they clanked their glasses together, and he spent the rest of the night forgetting his troubles.
Rhaegar woke the next morning to the sound of rain beating against his window. The rythme seemed to match the pounding in his head. He laid there for a few moments trying to recall the night before. The images were hazy at first but became more clearer as he focused on them. A small smile graced his lips as he remembered Oswell challenging them to a drinking contest, but they both discovered that neither of them could out drink Jon. Then he recalled Oswell suporting him as they stumbled through the streets on the way back to the Red Keep, with Jon singing a rendition of Bear and the Maiden Fair somewhere along the way.
Rhaegar reluctantly crawled out of bed, downed a large glass of wine, and readied himself for the day. He had a meeting with the small council that afternoon and he was sure that his father wouldn't attend. Aerys may have been the king, but Rhaegar was the one who ran the kingdom most days. As he made his way to the council room, he ran into Ser Arthur.
"What is it?" he asked wearily. From the look on his friends face, he instantly knew something was wrong.
"Its the king," Arthur replied, "he is.....not having one of his good days."
Rhaegar knew too well what that meant. His father was prone to fits madness, causing him to become paranoid and skittish about everything and everyone. Too often now his mind would drift into that darkness, and each time it became harder and harder to pull him out of it. Rhaegar had hoped that his father would get better with time, that if he came to terms with Rhaella's death, his mind would begin to heal. But he knew now that his hopes were futile.
"Where is he?"
"In his chambers, he wont let anyone enter. He only wants you."
Rhaegar nodded and hurriedly made his way to the kings chambers, with Ser Arthur following at his heals. Ser Gerold Hightower, the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, and Ser Barristan Selmy stood guard at his father's door. Rhaegar gave them each a nod before entering the dragon's lair.
It was dark inside when he entered, the curtains were drawn over all the windows blocking out any light. It took a moment for Rhaegar's eyes to adjust to the darkness, the occasional flashes of lighting helped guide him through his father's rooms. He found him sitting in his study, behind his desk, staring at a single candle with green flame and mumbling to himself. Wildfire, Rhaegar thought quietly to himself, my father's latest obsession. He made sure his footsteps could be heard as he entered the room.
Aerys looked up at his approach and said in a husky voice, "Rhaegar, I have been waiting for you."
"I am here now Father, what troubles you?" he asked softly.
"He's coming for me, I know it." Aerys returned his gaze to the candle, the green flame danced within his father's eyes, enhancing the madness that shone from them.
"Who Your Grace?"
"Stark!" Aerys bellowed as he stood abruptly from his seat. "He is coming for me, for all of us!"
"He wouldn't dare try anything so bold, not while we hold his daughter. He wants peace just as badly as we do." Rhaegar continued to speak softly, trying to sooth his father's fears.
Aerys chuckled darkly in response while slowly shaking his head, "You are truly naïve boy. King Stark has always wanted me dead."
That may have been true, but Rhaegar wanted to believe that King Rickard was willing to put old grudges aside in order to find peace. He didn't know the man very well, but from what little time he spent around him, he could tell he was a good man. Rickard Stark loved his family and wanted what was best for his people. Rhaegar wished he could say the same about his father.
Aerys started to pace around the dimly lit room mumbling to himself, "He thinks I haven't noticed. That I don't know what he's up to. Well I noticed! I know!"
The thunder rumbling outside caused Aerys to jump, making his father's paranoia worsen, but it didn't stop him from ranting. "He is trying to ally himself with the other kingdoms, to strengthen his army for an attack against me! Well I have his daughter. I will---" The rest was mumbled so low that Rhaegar couldn't make it out, but it left him feeling uneasy.
Lately his father was able to find enemies where there was nothing but shadows. Rhaegar didn't like the direction his father's thinking was headed in. When dealing with a mad man, sometimes the best thing to do was to placate him.
"Perhaps you are right Father, I will send scouts to find out what King Stark is up to. He will not hide from the dragon. Until we find out what he is planning, its best to focus on our own defenses and be prepared for anything." Rhaegar wasn't going to do this of course, sending forces to the North might send King Stark the wrong message and begin the war all over again.
That seemed to be enough to sooth Aerys as he sat back down and resumed staring at the candle. "Good my son, we will find out what he is up to." Rhaegar heaved a huge sigh as he left his father's chambers, knowing he was able to defuse his father's madness for now.
"How's the King?" Ser Gerold asked in concern.
"Better, for now," Rhaegar answered. "The next time he has an episode like this, I want to be informed immediately." They all nodded their heads in return.
"Walk with me Arthur." He motioned his friend to follow as he walked down the corridor.
"How is he really?" Arthur dared to ask once they were out of earshot of the others.
"I don't know," Rhaegar answered truthfully.
"He's getting worse. These....episodes, they happen more frequently." Arthur stated with concern.
"I know. It worries me." He worried for the future of his kingdom and its people. They were suffering under his father's reign, he wished there was something he could do about it.
"We must do something!" Brandon demanded for the dozenth time. He was worried about his sister, it was easy to see, but he was thinking with his heart and not his head. Rickard sat in his study, his fingers steepled upon his desk, as he watch his wild son pace back and forth across the room like an agitated shadowcat. His second son, Ned, sat quietly in front of him watching his brother move about the room.
"I can not march an army south unless I know that your sister is in Imminent danger." Rickard replied calmly to his son. As much as it pained him, he had to handle this situation as a king would, not as a father.
"Then I will ride south and bring her home." Brandon stated as he stopped his pacing.
"You will do no such thing!" Rickard bellowed as he stood up and leaned upon his desk. The last thing he needed was his son acting impulsively and getting himself and his sister killed.
"I can not sit around here any longer and do nothing!" Brandon strode quickly across the room to face his father. "If you refuse to do anything to bring Lyanna home, then I will do it myself!"
"If you ride south you will be plunging your kingdom back into war!" Rickard was near shouting as he addressed his stubborn son. "Have you already forgotten?" He lowered his tone, "Have you forgotten the sight of the villages burning? Or the smell of burnt flesh as people were burned alive in their homes? Do you remember the grief on the faces of those that survived?" Brandon didn't answer, he shifted his gaze away from his father, but he appeared to digest what he was saying.
"That is what you will bring upon your people if you defy my orders and go south." Rickard continued in a calmer manner, placing a hand on his son's shoulder. "You have no idea how much it pains me to think of Lyanna, alone and vulnerable, surrounded by our enemies. But we must be patient my son, we can not run into things blindly." Brandon's shoulders sagged as he lowered his head and gave a small nod, yielding his agreement.
"Then what do we do?" Brandon asked as he took a seat next to his brother. Ned remained seated throughout their conversation, watching them silently. There were times Rickard wished Brandon could be more like his brother. Ned was responsible, dutiful, and level headed, everything the crown prince was not. Rickard often worried about the future of his kingdom under Brandon's rule, his son was too impulsive and reckless, qualities not fit for a king. He had hoped the boy would out grow his wild behavior with age, but it appeared he was wrong.
Rickard faced his two sons, "I'm afraid there isn't much we can do at the moment but pray for Lyanna's safety. Prince Rhaegar promised she would not be harmed while under his care."
"And you believed him," Brandon spat bitterly.
Rickard ignored his son's comment and continued, "I pray he will keep his word. Perhaps we can orchestrate a trade for Lyanna's release, come up with some type of deal to bring her home."
"Are you truly considering making another deal with those people?" Brandon asked in disapproval. "Because the last deal you made went so well!" he commented sarcastically as he crossed his arms over his chest.
"What would you have us do Brandon?" Ned finally broke is silence and addressed his brother. "Invading the Dragonlands is an act of war, threatening the Targaryen's for Lyanna's release is an act of war. Our people have finally experienced some peace for the first time in years, we can not do anything that could ruin that. We must proceed with caution."
"So we do nothing then, lovely!" Brandon shook his head in disbelief at the two of them.
Rickard interrupted and changed the subject, "I have recently received a raven from King Tully of the Riverlands, your marriage to his daughter will proceed as scheduled."
Brandon paled slightly at his remark, "I thought, after everything that's happened, we would at least postpone the wedding." Rickard was aware that his son wasn't excited over the idea of marriage. He believed his son's resistance was do to the fact that he was to wed a stranger, but Rickard knew Brandon would grow fond of his wife once he got to know his new bride. He had been in a similar situation once himself with an arranged marriage to a woman he had never met. In time, they grew to love and care for one another and lived a happy life together, until the day she was taken from him.
"I think it would offer a good distraction for everyone, help cheer people up" offered Ned.
"I think it is an insult to our sister to go around pretending that everything is ok!" Brandon shot Ned a hateful look before he got up and stormed out of the room. Ned rose to go after him, but was stopped by his father.
"Let him go, he just needs a little time to himself." Rickard sank heavily in to his chair and ran a hand through his hair. "I have made arrangements with Rodrik Cassel to escort you back to the Eyrie."
"Actually Father, I was hoping to stay in Winterfell, given the circumstances."
"There's no need for that my boy, I'm sure King Arryn could use you by his side once more."
"No offence Father, but I think you could use me more, at least when it comes to dealing with Brandon."
Rickard smiled at that, "No doubt you are right, but I need you in the Vale. King Arryn has taken a liking to you, he respects you. I need you by his side to help strengthen our alliance. If the Targaryen's fail to hold up their end of the deal, I may need the Vale's help to end the war once and for all."
"Yes Father," was Ned's only reply. He was disappointed that he couldn't remain at home, but he knew he had a duty to perform.
"How's Benjen been holding up?" Rickard asked his solemn son.
"About the same as the rest of us, he and Lyanna were always quite close."
Rickard nodded, "thick as thieves they were." Whenever Lyanna was up to no good, Benjen was never far behind her.
"I should talk to the boy, do you happen to know where he is?"
"He has been spending a lot of time in the godswood lately, I would start there."
Rickard should have guessed that's where he would be. The godswood was more than a place of prayer for his children, it was their playground.
He found his son in the godswood, as suggested, sitting under the weirwood tree and throwing pebbles into the pond.
"I remember," Rickard said as he walked closer, "when you were eight, you fell out of that tree and broke your arm. You were lucky you didn't break your neck. Lyanna felt so guilty, since climbing it was her idea, that she stayed by your side, day after day, tending to your every want and need."
Benjen glanced up at him once as he spoke, before returning his gaze to the pond, watching the water ripple with every stone he tossed.
"If these trees could talk, I'm sure they would have some interesting stories to tell." Rickard tried a second attempt at getting his son to talk, but it too failed to yield a response from the boy. He sighed and sat down upon the crumpled red leaves next to Benjen.
"Lyanna is a strong young woman, she can take care of herself. She would be offended if she knew that we thought otherwise." Rickard placed a strong hand upon his son's shoulder as he spoke.
"I know." Was Benjen's only reply as he threw another rock into the pond, still not looking at his father.
"But that doesn't stop you from worrying about her." Rickard noted, causing Benjen to nod his head in reply. "I worry for her too."
"Then why did you let him take her?" Benjen didn't shout the words or get angry like his brother, he just simply didn't understand.
Rickard inhaled deeply, filling his lungs with the cool evening air, as he contemplated how best to answer his son. "I made a deal with King Aerys in exchange for peace for our people."
"Is that why the kingdom has been so quiet lately?" Benjen interrupted quietly and turned to face his father.
"It is," Rickard nodded, "but the Targaryen's tricked me. It was supposed to be me they took that night, not your sister."
Benjen nodded his head as if in understanding. "So you traded Lyanna for peace?"
Rickard heaved another sigh and tossed a pebble into the pond, "I suppose I did." He didn't know if that made him a good king or a terrible father. If his wife were still alive, he was certain she would claim the latter.
"Was it worth it?" Benjen asked after a long moment of silence.
"I don't know," he responded quietly. "I suppose we will have to wait and see."