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Of Gods and Dragons

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They’re a little more than a day from King’s Landing and have set up for the night when a lone horse and cart is seen approaching the camp by the sentries.

Their small council is in the large tent they’ve been holding council meetings when Black Flea lifts the flap and says in Valyrian, “ This one brings you the Spider, Queen Daenerys. ” As soon as the words are out of his mouth, a hooded figure enters the tent.

“Your Grace,” he says with a bow of his head once he’s removed his hood. “I’m sorry it took me until now to return to you.”

“Lord Varys. Come, tell us what news you bring. What does the city look like?” she inquires as she gestures for him to come stand next to her.

“Grim, Your Grace. Very grim,” Varys says solemnly. “The gates are closed at all times and they’re doing very thorough checks for anyone seeking refuge inside the walls. It’s becoming overcrowded.”

“Any riots yet?” Tyrion asks.

“Surprisingly not. Qyburn seems to have gained more birds of his own and has taken to using them to root out any who voice their discontent too loudly. Those who have end up vanishing in the night.”

Tyrion frowns. “There’s no way she can continue to control over a million people with that method. There aren't enough soldiers to contain the small folk.”

“Oh, you’re quite right,” Varys agrees lightly. “They’ve simply hidden their resentment and taken to expressing it in more secure places and in a more proactive manner. Several factions have cropped up and have been readying for the coming storm.”

While that piques her interest, it’s not the time to ask for details. It’s not as important right now. “What has been decided? Where will the Golden Company meet with us?”

“Your Grace, the eyes in the city are too many for the Golden Company to come to us. We must go to them. I’ve come to escort you the rest of the way to King’s Landing.”

“Then we go,” Grey Worm says plainly.

“No. We can’t all go. It’ll draw too much attention,” Dany says with a shake of her head.

“Aye,” Jon agrees. “Only a few of us will go. The rest should wait a day to give a head start and then we’ll meet outside the city.” His decision leads to a debate as to how many should go. In the end, Varys suggests that Arya and Jorah should be the ones to accompany them to the city. Once it’s settled amongst everyone, she turns back to the Spider.

“How are we meant to meet them if they’re unable to leave the city?”

“Ah, well I believe I have a solution to that, Your Grace,” Varys replies, rummaging through his sack before pulling out his prize and holding it out to her.

Dany’s eyes go from Lord Varys’ face to the black wig and back. She arches a pale brow, her tone dry as she asks, “You want me to wear that? Why?”

Varys tilts his head ever so slightly in supplication but doesn’t back down. “We’re going to have to put on a bit of a mummer’s farce in order to get through the gates. While unconventional, it will allow you the anonymity we need. Unfortunately, there aren’t many women with silver hair and purple eyes in King’s Landing.”

Before she can reply, Jon speaks up. “How are we meant to get out?”

“By means of a distraction, a bit of mummery and stealth, and the aid of some Targaryen loyalists that I managed to uncover.”

“And if the Golden Company decides not to break their contract with Cersei? What would stop them from simply taking the queen hostage and giving her to Cersei?” Tyrion asks.

“The knowledge that should they do such a thing, they won’t make it out of the city alive,” Varys tells him calmly.

Her lips purse but while her spymaster’s ways can be questionable, she knows he would never suggest such a thing if it wasn’t absolutely necessary. She turns to Jon. He gives her a look of resignation, clearly not able to think of another way. Letting out a sharp breath through her nose, she holds out her hand for the wig before she can change her mind. Varys passes it to her then pulls out a thick brown dress and cloak and hands those to her as well. He then hands some clothes over to the others.

“When do we leave?” Jon asks.

“Before first light.”

After going through the details of what everyone will need to do, they all retire for the night. She and Jon are quiet as they change and slip under their furs, content with simply holding each other as they fall asleep.

It feels like it’s only minutes later that she’s woken by Missandei. Turning her head, she sees the space next to her is empty and realizes Jon must already be out making sure everything is set for them. She sees Gilly is there as well, helping to gather some items from around the tent. Leaving the warmth of the furs to dress in the frigid cold that predawn always holds is not something Dany wants to do, but has no choice in the matter.

Once she gets the ill fitted dress on, she sits down. She’s lost in her own thoughts as Missandei pin her hair back in a way that will allow the wig to sit comfortably. After a moment, Gilly comes over to help. With so much hair to work with, they decide on pinning half of it around the top of her head and the other half around the nape of her neck. It takes a few adjustments to get it to where it’s not too tight and doesn’t give her a headache, but they eventually manage.

The two step back and look at her contemplatively before Gilly quietly says, “Not to be offensive, Ya Grace but you still look too… clean.” Bending down, the woman rubs her hands in the dirt of the tent then holds them out towards Dany’s face. “May I?”

Closing her eyes, Dany lets out a sigh. “Do it before I can refuse.”

She feels the soft touches of fingers rubbing the dirt along her cheeks and brow. Then they’re gone. She opens them to look expectantly at the women before her.

“Well?”

“You definitely do not look like a Targaryen, Your Grace,” Missandei tells her with Gilly nodding in agreement. She then holds out a small looking glass.

Dany blinks in shock at the reflection staring back at her and has to agree with her advisor. She barely recognizes herself. They’ve arranged the wig to hide as much of her pale brows as possible and what’s still visible has been covered with just enough dirt. Coming back to herself, she nods. “This will certainly work.”

When they leave the tent and she finds Jon talking with Ser Davos and Tyrion, she’s again struck speechless at the sight of him. Though his appearance isn’t as drastic as her own, it’s still different to her. He too is in drab clothing suitable for a common man instead of the warrior she’s known, his hip empty of where Longclaw should be. His dark curls hang freely around his face. He had the same idea as Gilly and dirtied his face up.

Upon seeing her, he appears just as shocked at the way she looks. He seems only capable of blinking rapidly as he stares at her. Lifting her chin, she approaches the group of now silent men. When none of them say anything, she arches a brow.

Clearing his throat, Davos is the first to speak. “Apologies, Ya Grace. You look like a whole other person. Bit startling.”

“Yes,” Tyrion agrees slowly. “The black hair is...different.”

Jon however remains silent as he continues to take her in, a small frown on his face. He reaches up to hold a small lock of the wig and rubs it between his thumb and finger. Realizing they’re all staring at him, Jon lets go of the piece he’d been toying with and his grey eyes lock with hers. “The cart is almost ready. Ghost and Nymeria are going to come with us.”

“Is that safe?”

“They’ll know to stay hidden amongst the trees,” he assures her.

Unable to argue with that, Dany nods then walks to the edge of the camp and calls down her children. Placing a hand on both of them, she murmurs softly in Valyrian. “ Stay here with Tyrion and Missandei, my darlings .”

They grumble and whine, but Dany doesn’t relent, no matter how much she wants to. Even though she’ll only be separated from them for two days, it’s still hard for her and they know it.

You must stay with Tyrion and Missandei. I’ll see you soon .” She presses a kiss to their snouts before stepping back so they can take to the air again.

Returning to the others, she lets Jon handle the Westerosi while she makes sure her closest bloodriders will keep the Dothraki in line with the rest of the army without trouble, emphasizing how much she depends on them to lead in her stead. Then she double checks with Grey Worm.

When they’ve finally all said their temporary farewells and she and Jon have given the last instructions, the five of them load up into the cart. Once they’re all seated and on their way, Jon looks at Arya. “I thought you said you weren’t going as yourself.”

“I’m not. I figured it’d waste less time to wait until we were on our way,” she tells him with a shrug before pulling out several items from the small satchel next to her.

While Dany has known Arya is one of the Faceless, seeing her become one is an entirely other matter. It’s slightly fascinating, slightly intriguing, but mostly disturbing to watch as the young Stark drinks from a small vial. She then pulls out her dagger and makes several cuts in her face. Jon makes a small noise of distress and reaches for her, but his sister bats his hand away. She waits until her whole face seems to be covered in blood then puts the leathered face on her head then pulls it down over her own.

Within seconds, Arya’s entire person changes. The shape of her face becomes rounder while her skin wrinkles and sags. Her lips thin and her nose becomes more pronounced. Grey eyes turn to a dark blue and brown hair turns white. She shrinks several inches as her back gains a small hump in it. Her fingers thin and lengthen and age spots appear on her hands. When she smiles mischievously at them, several of her teeth are missing.

To have this kind of knowledge and access to such magical abilities makes Dany feel a bit apprehensive if she’s being honest with herself.

Jon seems to share her feelings as he looks over his sister. “How did you… acquire this?” he asks. “Did you…?”

Blue eyes roll in exasperation. “Don’t be stupid. She asked for the gift in the House of Black and White and her passing was peaceful. I just…borrowed her as I was leaving.”

“Borrowed? For how long?” Dany asks, though she already knows the answer.

Arya shrugs. “Indefinitely.”

“And it’s an acceptable practice? To use these people’s faces?” Jon queries.

His sister’s expression turns serious then and an indecipherable look enters her eyes as she says, “Yes, Jon. All those who enter the House of Black and White understand what they must give back in order to receive the gift of death.”

Jon flinches slightly and Arya softens, realizing her mistake. “It’s peaceful for them. They drink from the pools and they can go lie on the dreaming couches if they want. The candles there allow them to see their favorite moments from their past to make it gentle.”

He continues to eye her warily, his jaw working side to side, before coming back to himself. Clearing his throat, he gives her a curt nod then makes his way up to the front and begins conversing with Jorah and Varys.

They both stare at him in silence before Arya whispers, “I sometimes forget he understands death in a different way than I do. That it’s always violent for him.” With a sigh, she turns those unfamiliar eyes to Dany.

Deciding not to journey down the path of the siblings’ differing views on death, Dany asks, “how did you manage to escape the guild, Arya? From what little I know of the Faceless Men, they don’t take their practice lightly and once you become one, you don’t leave.”

Arya shrugs again. “I realized that I couldn’t let go of Arya Stark to become No One. So I left. They tried to kill me but I killed the one they sent after me and gave them her face instead.”

The uneasiness Dany felt about the whole thing doesn’t abate with her explanation. It seems like too much power for someone to have when left to their own devices, something a deep part of her feels that Arya proved when she killed the Freys. Then again, perhaps that’s how people feel about her with her dragons and her armies. Still, she knows that the price of having such power means there will always be those who will hunt her for it. And the enemies that Arya may possibly be up against for learning their secrets only to use them for her own gain are so much more deadly than any enemy that Dany will ever fight.

Voicing her concerns, she asks, “Won’t they come after you?”

Arya seems wholly unconcerned. “They can try. But once Cersei is killed, my list will be complete and I don’t plan on being faceless ever again.”

“What do you plan on doing?”

“I don’t know. Travel to Dorne, see what remains of the Wall, explore the world.”

“If Gendry decides to become Lord of Storm’s End and hypothetically decides to ask you to marry him, what would you say?” Dany asks.

Arya’s brow twitches but her face remains still.“As I’ve said, I’m not a lady. I’m never going to be a lady of some castle. That’s not me.”

Dany nods, already having expected this answer but she’d wanted to ask nonetheless. She then tilts her head thoughtfully.

“What about being an emissary?”

Arya blinks in surprise, her brow furrowing. “An emissary?” she repeats skeptically.

“Yes,” Dany replies, lifting her chin, “you would travel all over Essos on my behalf. Make sure things are running smoothly in The Dragon’s Bay and slavery has not slipped back into place during my absence, negotiate trade agreements with the Free Cities, check on the Summer Isles to make sure they’re not being poached by slavers or corsairs, things like that.”

“I’m not much known for correct diplomatic behavior.”

“No, but I’d rather have someone inconspicuous who can traverse through the city they’re in without drawing attention. Someone who can see what the true state of that area is and isn’t afraid of telling me what that truth is.”

“Trying to conquer the whole world?” Arya asks with a teasing tilt of her lips.

“No,” she replies with a small shake of her head. “I’m not looking to conquer the world. But I am going to change it for the better. It’s as I told my council whilst in Meereen; people can live in my new world or they can die in their old one. I will not let those I freed slide back into chains. But the road to a better world is long and difficult, so if I’m needed to support those who strive to make it possible, wherever they are, I will do so gladly.”

The young Stark looks at her silently for a long time. Her face seems to soften ever so slightly and Dany knows Arya approves of her answer.

“I’ve never really asked you, but what kind of world are you making?” she asks quietly, her voice sounding so young and earnest.

“I’m going to break the wheel that crushes those underneath it. Where one person’s gain isn’t built on the oppression of another. Where one’s name or status of birth doesn’t hold them back from their dreams.”

Dany swears she sees a flash of something like respect in those grey eyes that are usually so hard to read. There’s a wistfulness in her expression when she smiles softly. “That does seem like a hard road to travel.”

“It will be but it won’t be impossible. And thankfully I won’t be alone.” Reaching over, she sets her hand on Arya’s. “Would you help me make it?”

The corner of Arya’s lip lifts even more. She flips her hand and gives Dany’s a gentle squeeze.

“Aye. I will.”

———————————————————

 

They’re halfway to the city when Arya notices Daenerys grimace slightly and try to adjust her position in their places in the back of the cart. Jon’s currently speaking quietly to Jorah and Varys from where they sit on the bench, most likely going over the plan for the hundredth time.

“You alright?”

Violet eyes turn to her and her grimace turns to a soft smile. “I’m fine,” the queen reassures, “someone’s just feeling very lively at the moment.”

Before Arya can reply, Daenerys takes her hand and rests it on the side of her stomach and pushes down. That’s when she feels the small jab of a foot or arm pressing back against her hand.

“That feels strange,” Arya says, removing her hand with a wrinkle of her nose as if disgusted. Though the effect is ruined by the small smile on her face.

“It’ll only get worse as my time gets nearer,” Daenerys says. But the joy that’s written across her lovely features shows that she doesn’t mind one bit.

“Have you thought of names?” Arya asks after a moment.

She looks down at her stomach and nods. “Only for a girl though. I want Jon to choose if it’s a boy.”

“And?” she asks, gesturing for her to continue.

“I was leaning towards Elaena but then I decided to try search for alternatives. Which lead me to go through the tomes in Winterfell for inspiration,” she admits.

That perks Arya’s curiosity. “Really? You’re going to name it after a Stark?”

Nodding, Daenerys runs the tips of her fingers along her stomach and says, “I’m very partial to Serena.”

Arya has to think back through all her ancestors before she remembers. She arches a brow and smirks. “You mean Serena Stark who married her half uncle?” she asks wryly.

Daenerys smirks as well. “I may have found a bit of humor in it.”

Arya snorts before musing, “Serena Targaryen… I like it.”

She glances over to find her brother silently listening to them and looking at his wife with such tenderness that she almost feels like she’s intruding on a private moment. Daenerys turns as well and gives Jon a soft, hesitant smile.

Making his way back to them, he sits down next to Daenerys and rests his hand on her stomach. “I like it too,” he murmurs.

“What name will you choose if it’s a boy?” Arya asks her brother.

Blinking, Jon pulls his attention away from his wife. His brow furrows and his lips purse as he thinks. Neither of the women say anything as they wait. After a moment, his expression clears, his decision made.

“Aemon. After Maester Aemon.”

The smile he receives from his wife is filled with so much love and joy that Arya can feel it from where she sits. And she can’t help but think how nice it is to talk of something other than death and war; of something good; something better.  

——————————————————————-

 

Seeing King’s Landing from the ground is much different than from the back of Drogon. Scorpions and soldiers line practically every inch of the tops of the city walls. Lannister banners hang heavily down and smaller ones flap against the light breeze that blows through the air. Mormont’s raven lets out a car before taking off into the air.

“Now, don’t forget that we’re just small folk,” Varys reminds them. “We must be as meek as mice and it would be better if Your Graces simply kept your eyes down. One look in your eyes and they’ll know you aren’t who you say you are.”

As they get closer and closer to the gates, Dany’s heart picks up speed. Even though she’s faced literal death, the reality that it’s only the five of them walking into the lion’s den and one wrong step could lead them to their downfall is terrifying in its own way. Seeming to sense her nervousness, Jon takes her hand and gives it a gentle squeeze. It reminds her that he’s done this before, relaxing her ever so slightly just as they come to a stop.

“State your purpose,” a guard barks at them as he approaches.

“Just seekin’ safety of the city from the dragon queen,” Varys says in a gravelly voice.

With her eyes on her lap, she doesn’t see the way the guard looks over them. After a tense moment, he says, “you’ll have to leave the horse in the pens we’ve made out here. There’s no room in the city.”

They silently get out of the cart, Jon and Jorah helping her and Arya. Jon pulls her to him and settles an arm around her waist and Arya comes to stand on her other side. Jorah makes to grab their “belongings”, but the guard holds his arm out. “By order of Queen Cersei, your possessions must be searched.”

Several other guards step forward and begin rifling through their things before patting down the men. The sight makes Dany’s jaw clench but she keeps quiet. Satisfied, the guards give them their two bags then herd them into the gates, leaving them once inside. The resounding bang of them closing makes Dany feel momentarily trapped. Thankfully, it doesn’t last long as Varys sets their bags on the ground and starts to move through the dense crowd, sticking close to the city walls. As they walk, Arya quickly reaches under her cloak and hands daggers to Jon and Jorah.

The path they take is so winding with how many turns they make, that Dany doesn’t even try to remember it. Instead, she decides to take in as much of the city as she can. While she’s known that the small folk are always the ones who suffer the most during times of war, seeing it before her and not being able to do a single thing to help makes her chest tighten.

Everywhere she turns, she sees only expressions of either of despairing resignation or completely blank. People are crowded together in doorways and along the streets. The smell of waste and food and smoke and fear permeates the air until she feels like she's choking on it. She hears the same thing be whispered through the streets.

The dragon queen is coming.

She’s coming for us all.

She’s come to save us.

Destroy us.

The dragon queen is coming.

They follow her until Varys leads them into a darkly lit tavern. “I need to make sure there aren’t any birds that don’t belong to me before we meet them,” he tells them before opening the door. The smell of cheap ale replaces the acrid scent of outside. It’s much warmer in here with so many people inside. With Jon and Arya on either side of her and Jorah behind, they follow Varys into the farthest corner near the back. Then he disappears into crowd.

As they wait, they listen to conversations around them.

“I heard she’s just burning her way down the realm, letting her dragons eat everyone,” one man says.

“That’s the biggest pile of horse shit, Gerold. She don’t need ta burn anythin’. Apparently, she’s the most beautiful woman in the world and all she’s got ta do ta make men fall ta their knees is smile,” another quips.

Several laugh at that.

“She’s nothin’ new. Just another noble fightin’ ta get that throne,” a portly man sighs with a shake of his head.

“No, no, no,” an elderly woman disagrees. “This one’s diff’rnt. I can feel it in me bones. She come to do what she done ‘cross da Narrow Sea.”

“Aye. Someone who frees slaves can’t be bad.”

Just as the talk turns to the tales they’ve heard about her time in Essos, Varys returns and leads them farther into the tavern.

In the narrow hallway outside where Dany assumes they’re to meet the Golden Company, Arya pulls the face off and becomes herself once more. Surprisingly, the cuts she gave herself are gone along with the blood. She stows it in the same satchel under her cloak then holds her hand out to Dany. When she just looks from the hand to her face, Arya rolls her eyes. “Do you really want to go in there with a wig on?”

No, she really doesn’t. Keeping her hood up and making sure she’s blocked from any drunken passerby seeing her, she pulls the wig off and gives it to Arya who folds it and adds it to her satchel.

Once they’re ready, Varys raps his knuckles on the door four times. After a moment, it opens. Dany squares her shoulders and one by one they step inside.

———————-—————————————


The men in the room watch as four cloaked figures come through the door. The first to reveal themselves is Jorah Mormont. He’s older, more worn down than last they saw him last. But he still stands tall and remains in fighting shape. He looks around the room and acknowledges his old companions. He nods to some while flashing a small, quick smile to others.

The second is a lithe, young woman with dark brown hair falling around her shoulders. Lady Arya of House Stark. She has a wild beauty about her. In that, while she is beautiful, it is a deadly sort if the violence in her grey eyes is any indication. It's obvious with the way she carries herself, how they skirt over the men then dart around the room that she knows what to look for to indicate a trap when entering a room full of potential enemies. The bulges against her cloak show that not only is she armed with at least two visible weapons, but she apparently knows how to use what she carries at her disposal.

The third is a man who shares a similar appearance to the young woman. The White Wolf, Jon Snow. Warden of the North. The bastard of House Stark. The only true difference between the two is that his hair is black compared to his half sister's dark brown. Eyes like storm clouds assess them carefully while full lips remain pressed together in a solemn expression. The man could be considered almost pretty if his face wasn't so hardened, showing the sharp edges that contrast with the softness that can be seen when looking straight on. When he turns his head, there are visible scars that run down over his left eye. He too carries himself like a warrior. But where his true born sister walks as lightly as a dancer, he moves as if he is grounded with the earth, a predator who knows just where to step.

The last cloaked figure can only be the Targaryen queen, Daenerys Stormborn. She is currently whispering to Lord Varys and puts a hand on the eunuch's arm before letting go. Snow stands aside to let her pass then steps right behind her, keeping as close as a shadow.

When the small woman lifts her hood back from her head, the entire room is deathly quiet.

Her features could strike the heart of any man. The songs sung of this woman's beauty will never be able to compare to the real image. Big violet eyes scan the men imperiously, as though a goddess has come down to judge them all of their worth and finds them woefully lacking.

Varys shuts the door behind them and gestures for the four to sit.

"I believe Lord Varys has informed you of who we are, good sers," Daenerys Targaryen says to them with a voice like bells.

She looks to Jorah and he begins the introductions.

"Harry Strickland, company commander," gesturing to a portly man with grey hair and eyes. He stands to bow to Daenerys then nods respectfully to the others before sitting down.

"Black Baraq, archer commander." A white haired Summer Islander with skin dark as soot tips his head.

"Gorys Edoryen, company paymaster," he says, indicating a man who could pass for a cadaver. He wears his hair and beard in the Essosi style Dany is used to- dyed. His hair is a blood red color that falls around shoulders and his black beard is perfectly pointed.

"Lysono Maar, spymaster," Jorah says. The man is, without a doubt, of Valyrian descent as she takes in his lilac eyes and long white gold hair. With the aristocratic features of his face, he could easily pass to be a Targaryen himself. Although with how full and pouty his lips are, along with the pearls and amethysts that drip from his earlobes, he could just as easily pass as a woman if she's being honest with herself. What a useful man to have as spymaster...

She can't help but glance over at Jon and she has to fight everything in her to not break out laughing at his face. It's a comical mix of shock and wariness with a small amount of disgust at experiencing the first true Essosi style of dress.

When he looks down, he obviously sees the man's painted purple nails because his eyes widen and his eyebrows come up in the middle slightly while the corners of his mouth drop down before he can catch himself. But he quickly returns to his neutral expression and his eyes drop to the table.

She has to move her hands out of view so she can pinch herself in order not to completely lose her composure when she catches Arya's eye on the other side of Jon, who appears to be enjoying Jon's extreme discomfort as much as she is.

Focus, she reprimands herself as she turns back to the Valyrian.

"It would appear that what they say of the women of House Targaryen is true. You are without peer in all the world," Lysono Maar says as his pale lilac eyes travel over her.

Jon's eyes cut to the sellsword but he doesn't see any hints of flirtation. The man's face remains calm and unreadable.

Dany hums to that with a raised brow as she gives him a beatific smile.

" You too have the blood of Old Valyria in your veins ," she tells him.

He gives her a light smile and dips his head.

"Volantis?”

"Lys," he replies.

She hums again and then listens as the sergeants are introduced as well.

Once all have been formally introduced, the four of them are given bread and salt. Arya inspects it closely before biting into hers first while the other three wait. Once she nods, they too eat the offered food. The sellswords all watch in interest as they realize the she wolf must have learned how to recognize poisons.

After the guest rights are through, Daenerys looks at the men in the room.

"Before we begin, I would like to make one thing very clear," she says. Her eyes harden slightly as she takes in the sellswords before her. "If I remember correctly, the last time I was in the presence of your company's captains, my brother had tried to persuade you to fight for him. You listened, you ate his food... then laughed in his face." Some of the men look down while others remain unbothered.

"Now, with all you have heard, I don't think it wise to do the same to me, do you?" she asks in a deadly purr. A thrill runs down Jon's spine as he watches this terrifying woman who could make the gods quake. Heat fills him and he has to breathe through the desire to take her now. Arya shoots him an exasperated look and rolls her eyes.

None of them say a word.

"Good," she said after a moment with a bright, heart stopping smile. Jon can't help but notice how the sellswords blanch at the sight and has to bite the inside of his cheek to hide the smirk threatening to appear. Arya, however, makes no move to hide her own amusement as she eyes them all.

"May I ask why we are being given this opportunity instead of simply meeting you on the battlefield?" Lysono asks in a voice smooth as silk.

"Our word is as good as gold," she says thoughtfully before her eyes cut to the men in the room.

"But beneath the gold, the bitter steel," she says with a knowing smirk as she lays her hands on the table.

"You see good sers, I know that while some contracts are writ in ink, others are writ in blood," she says looking at them all. She sees the immediate interest in some of the men and continues. "I also know what you want most and it is not just gold. No, beneath the gold, you want what Bittersteel promised. To go home ," she says. Now all the men are looking intently at her.

She turns back to Lysono. "So, to answer your question, I've found that if I have the means to give those what they truly desire in exchange for helping me achieve what I want, it turns out much nicer. And as I'm sure Lord Varys has told you, I will give you what Bittersteel and the Blackfyres could not," she responds fervently.

Jon looks to Arya and he sees in her eyes the same exhilaration he feels at Dany's words. And they're not even members of the company.

He looks at Jorah and Varys to her other side. The pride the men have of their queen is clear in their postures as they both read the reactions of the sellswords.

Oh, how easily his silver queen could capture the hearts of all with just a few words he muses before snapping back into focus.

"And if we don't help you, but keep our current contract? Cersei Lannister has also agreed to our stipulations," Harry Strickland asks after a moment, his eyes sizing up the silver woman before him.  

"Are you familiar with the words of House Stark? Winter is Coming . As you can see," she says gesturing to the falling snow outside, "Winter has indeed come. And with the winds of Winter, return the wolves of the North, eager to feast upon all those who cannot thrive in the harsh cold as they do.”

The Northern girl gives the men predatory grin as if to solidify the queen's point while the Warden simply attains a certain gleam in his eyes. 

"And above the wolves, fly the dragons to conquer the land with fire and blood. For I did not face death itself to be defeated by the likes of you ," she tells them as her purple eyes flash dangerously.

Daenerys looks at the cowardly commander and asks, "Now, do you really want to take your chances in siding with the woman who destroyed the Sept of Baelor with wildfire simply so that she could get rid of the High Sparrow and the Tyrell line? And speaking of the Tyrells, the gold she paid you with was taken from House Tyrell. Who were allied to me," she tells him as she leans forward.

"You see, Ser , I understand the ways of war and conquest and the spoils gained from such. But I tell you this because it appears the gold that flows in Casterly Rock is finally beginning to run dry after Robert Baratheon's needless spending during his reign. Now, if she actually pardons you and gives your lands back, how do you think the crown will replenish its coffers under her rule?" She lets that question sit with him as she looks to Gorys. His lips are slightly pinched at this knowledge when he looks at her.

"I, on the other hand," she says as she holds eye contact with the pay master, "have quite a bit of treasures saved up from my time in Essos."

Gorys raises an eyebrow and seems to contemplate this as his eyes quickly cut to Harry before returning to her. She arches her own pale brow at him before turning to Strickland again.

"So if you don't, you not only lose the chance of being pardoned and restoring your houses, but you will face my own armies. Along with those of the North, the Vale, I have houses from every kingdom marching beside me. Even some of the Westerland houses have come to my side. You already know I have the Second Sons waiting for my call," she says confidently as she studies them.

"That's quite the noose," Arya says casually as she inspects her fingernails. Dany hums in agreement as she entwines her fingers.

"Oh, and the dragons of course," she adds as though they're simply a small detail she overlooked.

"Yes, we've heard about those," a bastard knight named Tristan Rivers muses. "We've also heard that while there were three, there are now only two."

Her eyes turn to purple fire and her jaw clenches at the jab. Jorah and Varys's shoulders stiffen while Arya sits straighter in her seat and looks at him as though deciding where best to deal a killing blow. Seeing the reactions, the sellswords are perfectly still as the anger comes off of her in waves. Jon shifts his lower leg so that it rests against hers, offering what little comfort he can. She pushes hers back, taking a moment before she answers.

“It would be wise not to casually discuss matters that you have no idea about, Ser ,” she tells him, her voice like the crack of a whip. “My dragon died fighting an enemy you can’t even begin to imagine. Besides, I was able to destroy an entire Lannister caravan with only one dragon and my Dothraki.”

The red haired man simply raises his eyebrow in response. 

“And I assure you that the second dragon will be under enough control that he won't be easy to remove from the sky," she tells them, resting back in her chair.

The men exchange glances before Tristan looks back at her with a smirk.

"Is that right? Do we get to know how or will it be a surprise should we decide to keep our current contract?," he asks in a flirtatious tone that makes Jon's fist curl.

Daenerys smiles as the trap she intricately weaved has caught the prey she desires. "Why, Rhaegal will be controlled by his rider of course," she says in a deceivingly innocent voice as she cants her head.

The shared look of confusion on the men is so satisfying that Arya can't hold back a small, wicked grin. Jon's lips twitch upwards a fraction but aside from that, he gives nothing else away.

"But, that would mean..." Harry says, his sentence drifting off in uncertainty.

"That there is another with the blood of the dragon, yes," Dany confirms slowly, as though she was speaking to a young child.

"But the Martells and Baratheons are gone," Tristan says, thinking of all the known houses that were still recently in existence with Targaryen blood. Maybe the Velaryons?

The statement alerts her that their spymaster has not yet had word of Gendry. Her eyes flick to Varys and her Master of Whispers gives her a blank look although she can see the smugness in his eyes. She’ll have to congratulate Lady Sansa as well.

Dany returns her eyes to the man and cocks her head again. "Who said he is from those houses?"

"It's a male ?" Harry almost shouts in surprise. The others have matching expressions of shock.

"Yes. I've only just recently found out myself. The last male scion of House Targaryen," she tells them with a proud smile. "Hidden away by his uncle on his mother's side and raised alongside his cousins."

"Did Viserys have a bastard?" asks a knight by the name of Flowers.

"Not Viserys… or Aerys," she replies. “And not a bastard."

"Impossible," Strickland says, "Elia's son was butchered by the Mountain that Rides."

Dany nods her slowly in agreement. "Yes, that's true. But again, who said he's the son of Elia? This son was from Rhaegar and Lady Lyanna Stark."

The men before her gape like fish.

"Is there any proof?" Tristan asks once he collects himself, a calculating look in his eyes.

"Lord Howland Reed was a member of the group Lord Eddard Stark led to rescue Lady Lyanna from the Tower of Joy in Dorne. He can attest that a babe was brought out. And there is documented proof that Rhaegar married Lady Lyanna," she tells them.

"And you're certain that this man is the son of Rhaegar?" he asks.

"Yes. My children took to him immediately. Ser Jorah can testify to that as he has known them since they first came into this world," she says confidently.

All eyes look to the older knight, who confirms it with a nod. "Even her most aggressive dragon, the one you know as 'The Winged Shadow', allowed the man to touch him upon their first meeting. Something the dragon has never permitted of anyone except its mother."

"If he did not have dragon blood in him, Drogon would have bitten off his arm or turned him to ash," she says as she lays her hands neatly on the table.

"And before you wonder if he simply gained the dragons' trust in order to accomplish this feat, I can assure he did not. Although Nettles was able to become a dragon rider, she had to feed Sheepstealer every day for an entire moon before she was allowed to ride it," Dany informs them.

The sellswords think on that for a moment as they exchange glances before Lysono asks, "And where is this secret Targaryen then?"

Dany raises an eyebrow and simply turns towards Jon. He locks eyes with her and can clearly see the pride in her gaze.

"Would you be Aegon VI or Aegon VII? I still can't decide," she asks, the mirth her tone evident. The look in her eyes calls to the beast lurking under his skin in a way that he must respond.

"Whichever you wish, my queen," he says wryly.

"The sixth, Your Grace. Once the coronation is done," Varys says.

She hums happily at that. "Pity your lady mother did not name you Jaeherys. I think that suits you more," she says casually, ignoring Arya's snort of amusement.

Jon's eyes dance as he continues to stare at Dany. "Aye, it would have been easier," he agrees after a moment before turning back to the shocked men.

"I take after my mother," he says, a small, wolfish grin spreading across his face.

The men stare with their mouths agape as their eyes flick between the two Targaryens who share no resemblance apart from the more subtle features. And of course the aura they are both currently projecting. One of absolute power that demands submission from all.

"Wait," Harry says looking at Jon, "does this mean that you are the one who will sit the throne now?"

Now, all eyes are solely on Jon.

"No," he replies firmly, "I don't want the throne. Queen Daenerys is the ruler this realm needs. I fully support her claim."  

"But Varys mentioned a coronation," one of the Coles pipes up.

"He will rule by my side as King of the Seven Kingdoms," she tells the room.

The men lean back in their chairs as they take in the information. Although, none show any opposition to the marriage.

"Oh," Dany says with a confused look on her face. "Did I forget to mention that my warden here has his own direwolf as well?"

She looks at Jorah for confirmation. The knight smirks at his queen and nods, "Aye. I believe you did forget, Your Grace. Fully grown as well, along with his litter mate, who belongs to Lady Arya," he says as he tilts his head towards Arya.

Arya gives a sly smile as she reclines in her seat with a smug look. "Yes," she says, drawing the word out as her smile turns slightly vicious. "Nymeria has been quite busy with her pack."

As if in answer, a long howl suddenly echoes through the night, shortly joined by another that's much closer. The men look at each other before cautiously turning back towards the small group. Dany hums and looks to the men with a triumphant smirk. But before she can say anything more, Jon leans in towards the men.

"Have you ever heard of skinchangers during your time in Essos?" he asks casually.

"The Ifequevron ," Lysono murmurs, his eyes bouncing back and forth between the two Targaryens.

"Well, we in the North call them wargs. House Stark is known to have wargs in our blood since the First Men. And it just so happens that my brother, Bran Stark, is one. The most powerful one in Westeros. Mayhaps, the world. He can warg into any animal, including the dragons. He can even warg with people, which is nigh impossible. Elephants will be very simple for him. And it'd be a shame to not know which elephants are under your command.... and which are under ours," he says, a glint in his eye that shows the men just how dangerous this Northern dragon can be.

"So," Dany says, looking back at the dumbfounded men. "You have a choice. You either drop your contract with Cersei Lannister and join us or refuse and face us. As I said before, if you join, not only do you get to keep the money she's already given you, but I will also pardon all exiled lords and knights and arrange for them to regain their lands and holdings. Or the closest holdfast to it."

She lets them think before she continues. "If you don't, then we will meet you on the battlefield where you can witness the return of the dragons to Westeros as well as the forces of both the Unsullied and the Dothraki, another phenomenon I don't believe has been done before."

"You'd truly give us back the lands of our forebears?" one of the Peakes asks.

She regards him for a moment before answering. "I would. There are three of you, yes? I'm told there are three castles that used to belong to House Peake. Starpike is currently under the hold of House Lannister. How nicely that works, wouldn't you agree?," she says with a sweet smile.

She then looks around the room and says, "As I'm sure you've been told, there are quite a few castles and strongholds that are currently unoccupied all over Westeros with the way these wars have been going. Many great and noble houses are gone. Martell, Tyrell, Frey... these are only the more well known families that have been wiped off the map. The other, smaller houses desperately cling to their last remaining members as they teeter on the cusp of annihilation. It would do well to have the formerly extinct houses come back to life. For there are too few of us lords and ladies left to continue our lines as it is."

"Now, if there are already lords who occupy your family's keeps and the people wish for them to remain, I will find you lands just as suitable. I cannot remove others on the grounds that your family was there first over three generations ago. And I will not tolerate such greed when what I offer is more than acceptable."

"Perhaps House Peake and House Mandrake can become titans of the Reach once again," she says letting the sentence drift off as she watches the man. His lips twitch at her insinuation and he exchanges glances with his brothers before giving her a nod.

She sees Marq Mandrake nod absently then she looks at them all again.

"Even if you are a bastard, those class standings are no longer as constricting as they were before. Take Lord Jon for example. Though he was believed a bastard, he was raised to be the King in the North by his people. Because he fought for them. And soon, he will be King of the Seven Kingdoms. Not because he is Targaryen, but because he is the only one fit to stand by my side. I didn't care who his mother was before, when he was Jon Snow and I do not care now that he is Jon Targaryen. I care that he continues to fight for what's right for the people, just as I have. That is what I need in the world I wish to create. Where it is the actions that are judged, not the name. If you prove yourselves to me, I will legitimize any who wish it," she tells them.

With that she stands up, the others following suit.

"It is up to you, Sers. Will you rise above the height of all your forefathers since the days of the dance between the red and black dragons? Or will you perish into the dust and join the rest of your kin to be forgotten?" she asks as she grabs the hood of her cloak and adjusts it to cover her silver locks.

The men begin to speak over each other until Tristan Rivers stands up suddenly and reaches for his sword. But before he can do anything, Arya pins his arm down and holds her dagger against his throat.

"I wouldn't try that," she says.

The others around the room stare in shock at how quickly the small woman moved.

"I wasn't doing anything untoward to your queen," he tells her.

Her eyes flick to Jon and he raises his eyebrow at her. She lets the man go and steps back.

Tristan rubs his wrist as he looks at Arya slightly impressed.

"Who taught you to move so quickly?" he asks, intrigued.

"Those who serve Him of Many Faces," she replies slyly.

Lysono takes a sharp breath through his nose and his eyes widen as he stares at Arya.

" Laehurloqitta ," he murmurs. The other Essosi men immediately tense up and the whole room becomes more alert as they stare at the young woman who leans back against the wall and spins her dagger in her hand without a care in the world.

"Ah," Daenerys says casually as her eyes bounce between Arya and the Lyseni man, "I didn't know you were familiar with their order."

Lysono continues to stare at Arya as he dips his chin slightly in concurrence.

"Well, you may add that to our list as well," she says before turning to Tristan Rivers, her brow raised in silent invitation.

He gives her a proud smile, pulls out his sword and kneels before her.

"My queen, we are your men and our swords are yours," he says as he lays his own sword at her feet.

A slow smile spreads across her face as she regards the man before her.

"Rise, Ser Tristan," she says.

He stands and in his eyes she sees only one emotion in them.

Hope.

The other men follow him and soon, all have placed their swords at her feet.

She looks at the men and gives them a regal smile.

"My good men, I believe it is time we show the world exactly what exiles are made of. Don't you?"