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a solution of ink

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“Aegon,” he said to a woman nursing a newborn babe in a great wooden bed. “What better name for a king?”

“Will you make a song for him?” the woman asked.

“He has a song,” the man replied. “He is the prince that was promised, and his is the song of ice and fire.” He looked up when he said it and his eyes met Dany’s, and it seemed as if he saw her standing there beyond the door. “There must be one more,” he said, though whether he was speaking to her or the woman in the bed she could not say. “The dragon has three heads.”

He went to the window seat, picked up a harp, and ran his fingers lightly over its silvery strings. Sweet sadness filled the room as man and wife and babe faded like the morning mist, only the music lingering behind to speed her on her way.

:48, A Clash of Kings – Daenerys


Daenerys wishes to move onwards – to go on past the great bronze doors that showed her such an illusion – but the music does not end, turning into a stronger sound. Another vision manifests in front of her eyes of that same man, but laid upon a bed with his arm around a different woman’s shoulder.

She is young, Daenerys thinks, as young as me. The girl has dark brown hair and bright eyes as she gazes upon the lute player, a new man with an almighty greatsword by his side. He sings a song in a tongue Daenerys recognises as Rhoynish but cannot decipher.

“The babe likes it,” the woman states with a curling grin that bares her teeth, hand resting upon her swollen belly. “He kicks.”

The lute-player finishes his song swiftly, reaching forwards to press his hand to her stomach. “My son knows how to appreciate good music.”

The woman laughs and entwines their hands. For the first time, Daenerys sees their soulmarks – wolves swallowing suns, identical and as heart-stopping as the first time Daenerys saw matching marks. Bonded, she thinks in sorrow, thinking of the dragon that flies across her back, greyed and dulled from Drogo’s death. Bonded with child.

It is too much to bear, but the first man – Rhaegar – bats their hands apart. “Come, Arthur, I’m paying you to protect your wife, not to smother her, though even I’ll admit the music was entertaining while it lasted,” he clearly jests and laughter echoes among the three as the vision fades.

Tears run cold down Daenerys’ face and she wipes them away, stumbling down the corridor – but it seems her reluctance to leave has triggered something and more and more bronze doors appear, opening before she can do much more than look in their direction.

Images of the past, Daenerys thinks as she sees her brother present her with that dress and of holding her dead son in her arms. The door shuts only when she looks away from her pain, another opening to reveal a wedding of two Westerosi Houses.

“Father, Smith, Warrior, Mother, Maiden, Crone, Stranger...” the bride and groom say as one and Daenerys cannot think in the moments after, as she recognises the Stark direwolf upon the bride’s wedding cloak. Her eyes search the room they are in, pausing on a golden kraken, a young man standing at the back of the Stark groom, before she finds a banner of twin blue towers on grey that is unfamiliar to her.

Is this the present? Dany wonders, before the image dissolves into a land of ice and snow. A girl with hair like fire dressed in grey furs whacks a boy in black on the arm with a long, heavy greatsword – the same sword that the man, Arthur, had laid beside him when he played the lute.

“If you know what to say you might just make it through the night.” She hits him with the sword again, “Not talking’s not the way to go!”

“Careful with that,” the boy says, “you might cut yourself.”

Daenerys sees it before it happens – the girl swinging again and the boy ducking with a grin.

“Never swung a sword before, have you? You look like a baby with a rattle?”

The girl goes to face him once more, but a shout from a newly-appearing figure in the mist – among many others, all dressed in the same grey furs except one, a man dressed in black like the boy. Prisoners, Daenerys thinks before it all devolves from there, the second man in black stealing a sword and pouncing for the boy, seemingly eager to end his life.

“Stop!”

“Why, traitor?” the man screams at the boy. “So you can give Mance Rayder an invitation to Castle Black?”

The boy is thrown his sword by the girl and Daenerys watches him wield it expertly, disarming the man within half a minute. Forced to the ground, the older man spits.

“Your traitor uncle teach you that? Did Ned Stark spar Ice against Dawn? You’re as much a traitor as Ser Arthur Dayne – of course an Oathbreaker would sire another.”

“I am no Oathbreaker,” the boy says, greatsword not falling an inch in his firm grip. “My parents were soulmates.”

“He was Kingsguard,” the man bares his teeth, “and they don’t take no wives, no matter the marks they bear. Your mother was little more than a whore-”

The boy reacts quickly in defence of his mother’s name and no sooner does the old man’s head leave his shoulders, does the vision vanish.

“…and now you see,” a new voice says and Daenerys turns abruptly, almost screaming at the sight of the old man in front of her. He stands there with red eyes and a grey Weirwood tree upon his brow, a sign of a lost soulmate. “The ink bled and so the future and the past were rewritten, to set the worlds to right. Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Mother of Dragons and Breaker of Chains.”

“Who are you?” Daenerys questions.

“I am the Three-Eyed Raven and I shall be for many years, yet,” the old man says, looking down at her with haunted eyes. “My days were to end. Now, they will not. Tell me – what did you see through the bronze doors?”

Daenerys hesitates, before saying, “My brother. Rhaegar. I saw him and his son, Aegon, my nephew.”

“Aye, that you did.” The Three-Eyed Raven asks, “What else?”

“…Ser Arthur Dayne, my brother and…” Daenerys thinks who the woman might have been and in truth, only one answer could be the truth. “And Lyanna Stark.”

“Aye,” the Three-Eyed Raven smiles sadly. “Then after, you saw the King in the North wed Frey, an alliance created and held, Theon Greyjoy at his back and his brothers safe ruling Winterfell. The Riverlands remain that of the North. Arya Stark will be found and kissed by her mother, as she was by the Many-Faced God – but they are bound to another fate, one the Old Gods have limited sway over.”

“Who are bound? Arya Stark? The Stark family?” Daenerys questions.

The old man smiles, before it fades. “No-one. No-one at all. The Undying cannot see me, here, but they will see you, soon. We have little time. The future is uncertain, but eventually, the ink will once again dry. You must do as you will to prevent the end. The Long Night approaches and yes, it is full of terrors – but R’hllor leaves Westeros to combat those awakening in the Grey Wastes, where shadows lie. The Red Woman is dead at Stannis Baratheon’s hand as he is at hers and now does Princess Shireen, rightful heir to the Iron Throne rule Dragonstone.”

Daenerys’ blood runs hot like dragonfire. “This princess is the niece of the Usurper. How is she the rightful heir? His son sits the throne.”

“Joffrey Hill is the bastard of the Lannister Dowager-Queen, as are his siblings.” The Three-Eyed Raven looks down the long passageway where the Undying Ones stay. “Shireen is good and gracious. Ally with her and with the King of Winter and they shall see you sat on the Southern Throne. My blessings upon you, Daenerys. Gods have it that I will have the strength to reach your brother and niece this same way.”

And then, the Three-Eyed Raven disappears in front of her eyes and the only thought left in Daenerys’ mind is thus: what brother and niece do I have left in the world? Surely Rhaegar and Rhaenys are dead.

“Surely,” Daenerys utters to herself, before walking the long corridor to the Undying. Surely?