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A Kingdom For A Horse

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A Kingdom For A Horse

 

Chapter 1: Blood Tide

 

 

They came as the sun went down. For three whole weeks they’d been waiting for them. The streets of King’s Landing had been prepared, the ships lined with wild fire and put out to the Bay. And yet, when the enemy came it was still a shock. He was dressed head to toe in armour, not daring to move yet, waiting for the sign to come from Ser Mandon Moore or from his uncle. Tommen Baratheon stood where he was watching as the wildfire did its work. He did not approve of it, it was not chivalrous, but he was not stupid enough to bring this up with either his mother or his uncle.

His brother was out there somewhere as well. Not out near the ships, Joffrey was not so dumb as to think he could command the ships from the front. But he was on the wall, watching and barking orders. Tommen would give his brother that much credit, he might be vicious and stupid, but he had their father’s ability to inspire people. It was one of his few redeeming qualities. The ships burned, and the sky was pained green. Stannis Baratheon’s host came with the fleet, Florent ships, sell sails and other assorted menaces came. Tommen watched as they burned under intense pressure, some avoided the danger however and got to land. Tommen drew his mace then, knowing that things would get to a head.

The first sight of the enemy stepping onto land got a shout from the scouts. “Archers, prepare to fire.” When the shout. Tommen listened as the archers, Larys Waters amongst them, drew their bows and knocked their arrows. He listened as the commands were passed down, and felt his own heart begin to beat quicker. “Archers, fire!” came the roar. The arrows were loosed and they soared through the air toward an enemy that had not expected them. The arrows hit the enemy, and Tommen heard the screams and the curses. Another shout and more arrows were unleashed. However, the enemy had caught onto this, and as such was replying in kind. Tommen watched as Ser Tristifer Hardy, the chief longbowman was brought down. He refused to close his eyes though he desperately wanted to. His black hair stuck to his face, sweat dripped from his brow.

The shouts continued, but they were drowned out as a battering ram hit the gate. He was stood atop the River Gate, and he could feel everything shaking. Nothing seemed as if it would be simple. He steadied himself and hid his nerves. The men he nominally commanded did not need to see him nervous. The gate shook. He looked to Ser Willem Hill, a bastard relative, and the man nodded. “Prepare yourselves.” He said, though it came out as a croak, so he cleared his throat and said again. “Prepare yourselves.” That time it came out louder. The men took to what he said, with Ser Lucion being the one leading the shouts. The gate finally cracked open, and the enemy came pouring in.

Tommen hurriedly put down his mace, and put on his helmet, he picked up his weapon again and then moved to greet the first of the enemy as they came barrelling over the steps. Tommen had practiced for a long time to get this right. He decided this was the best way to get things tested. He swung his mace and the first man to come into contact with him fell down. The next man was a tougher nut to crack. He swung his mace and the man took the blow on his shield. Then he pushed and Tommen stumbled back, his heart in his mouth, he avoided the wall, but faced a constant barrage. There was a push this way and that, his body took a fair few blows, and for a moment he wondered if it would be better if he had stayed in the Maidenvault with his mother and Lady Sansa. He shook his head at that. He was a Prince, a Baratheon he would not hide. He knocked the enemy down, another came to take his place and he fought him as well.

More of the enemy came, Tommen took a blow to the head and as his brain took time to recover he saw Ser Lucion struck down, and another young boy, whose name escaped him torn down by a sword and a dagger. The brutality of it all got worse and worse. They were packed in like fish in a bowl. There was not enough space to breathe. Tommen barked out an order and the men moved forward. He had read about how his namesake who had destroyed a Lannister host many years ago, had been killed because he had not pushed forward and had therefore gotten trapped. Tommen heaved forward knocking those who would stand before him out of the way.

Ser Boros Blount was at his side. The man was slow, and not that bright, and not that great of a fighter, but he would do. Tommen walked or ran with him, whatever it was they were doing, they continued going. Tommen swung his mace, and allowed the fool to cover his back. The white cloak billowing behind them. After some time, the scourge slowed down, and they were no longer in danger of being so completely overwhelmed. Still, Tommen knew that more would come. He heard a shout, and saw the burning banner of his uncle, the traitor. The enemy kept coming and Tommen fought. He fought as hard as he could, whether or not that would be enough, he did not know.

He blinked, and tried to keep everything simple and easy. But as always nothing was simple and easy. He took more blows than he cared to remember during the fight, trying desperately not to give into the fear that was clawing at his every fibre. He swallowed, and then heard someone shout something. “What?!” He yelled but no one could hear him above the fray that was going on. He pushed on, determined not to lose his ability or his will to fight. So long as he remained fighting his men would also remain fighting. That was what his father had always said to him and Joffrey. He hoped Joff would remember that. Otherwise they were finished. A King could not leave the field of battle. He took a blow to the head, staggered back, and in his daze he saw Ser Boros Blount cut down trying to get to him.

Is this how I die? He wondered. If it was, it was not a bad way to go. Better than how his father had died.

As he thought that, his old worries came creeping back up again. He did not want to die a virgin. He should have told Jeyne Westerling how he felt about her, he should’ve told Mother to go and do one, there was a lot he should have done. His brain was panicking. And now his father’s words were in his head.

“You have my hair and my eyes, and my mother’s personality. You are Tommen Baratheon, you will be Lord of Storm’s End. Never doubt that. You are a stag, and yours is the fury.”

“I have failed you, father.” he whispered as the fear completely overtook him.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 2: Snow On The Wall?

 

 

Jon looked out over Winterfell, a lump in his throat. He knew that something like this would happen, and yet here he was, the King was about to leave Winterfell after a moon within the citadel. A lot had happened during the King’s visit. The King had asked Father to be Hand, Jon had walked in on something between the Queen and one of her household but had not said anything for no one had seen him. Bran had fallen whilst climbing, and Robb and the Crown Prince had gotten into a fight, which ended with Robb sporting a black eye and the Prince a bruised lip. Yet somehow they had become friends after it all.

He knew there would be no place in Winterfell, not with Father gone. Sansa and Arya were going south, Sansa as the Crown Prince’s betrothed, Arya to try and become a lady. Jon did not think that latter one would happen, but it would be amusing to see it happen. For him to go south would be a dishonour to the family, for him to remain here would be to cause Lady Catelyn to hate him and make his life a misery. He had considered going to the Wall, but after speaking with Uncle Benjen had decided against it. Now, he knew not what he wanted to do.

“You keep staring out like that, you’re going to make the Queen think you’re trying to eye up her daughter.” Robb japed.

Jon smirked. “Oh do piss off. It’s you, she’s interested in. She’s never seen me.” It was true, the Princess reminded him a lot of her mother, haughty and full of herself.

Robb laughed. “Eh, she’s no Northern lass.”  Jon laughed as well.

“How is Lady Alys doing?” Jon asked. He knew his brother and the Lady of Karhold had been getting closer before this visit.

Robb punched his shoulder. “She’s alright.” There was a brief pause, and then Robb brought the conversation to where it would inevitably go. “Are you staying then?”

Jon sighed. “You know I cannot. Your Lady Mother would not appreciate me being here. And I do not want to cause more drama. Not after what Theon did during the festivities.”

Robb grimaced, Theon Greyjoy, their father’s ward had gotten very drunk and had been caught in bed with one of the Queen’s ladies in waiting, one Lannister cousin or another. The girl was said to have been missing her time of the moon. “True, but where will you go? The Wall? Uncle Benjen said you didn’t want to go to the Wall.”

“I was thinking, I could do as our grandsire, Rodrik the Wandering Wolf did, and travel Essos. See the sights, maybe join a company or two and make a name for myself.” Jon said. He was not sure whether Father would allow him to do that.

Robb voiced his own thoughts on this. “Father might not agree. You know how he gets about these things.”

“I know, but what’s he going to do? He won’t let me join him in the south, and I can’t stay here.” Jon said.

“You know that’s not true. I will be ruling Winterfell, whilst Father is away. My word is the law. If I asked you to stay, you could not realistically say no.” Robb stated.

Jon sighed. “But would you really cause your mother that much trouble. You know she does not like me. I do not want to cause problems between you two.”

Robb’s shoulders sagged then. Jon felt a slight twinge of hurt, but he brushed it away. His brother was his brother and he would never want to be the reason for him and his mother not getting along. “And who knows, maybe I can find out more about my mother this way.” He added.

Robb put a hand on his shoulder then. “Okay, if that’s what you want. I’ll support you.”

Jon turned and smiled. “Thanks.” With that they said their farewells, and Jon made his way to his father’s solar. Lord Eddard looked as if he had aged a decade in the time since Bran had fallen. His face was filled with lines, and his hands looked harder and more resolute.

“Jon.” Lord Eddard said at once when Jon knocked and entered. “How can I help you?”

Jon took a moment and then said. “I spoke with Uncle Benjen about the Night’s Watch. I do not think joining it would be right for me. I am not one to stand and do nothing up in the cold.” He paused and added. “I know they do a great service to the realm, but I am young still and wish to see more of the world. I do not ask to join you in the south, Father, for I know that would be a shame. But I wish to do something with myself.” He saw the look of pain that crossed his father’s face and hurried on, not wanting to make this more painful than it needed to be. “I was thinking that I could go to Essos. Uncle Bennard has contacts in Braavos, I could start there and work for his friend’s business, and make some of my own coin to pay for my travels.”

He expected his father to protest this, and so was both surprised and relieved when he instead asked. “And this is what you truly want?”

“Yes. I think it would do me good, and it would ensure that there is no cause for concern for you.” Jon said truthfully.

Lord Eddard seemed to be torn over this, if his face was anything to go by, though Jon could not be sure. Eventually he replied. “Very well, you shall prepare to leave as soon as you are able. I shall give you an escort of twenty men, with Harwin serving as your captain. You shall ride out to White Harbour, I shall write to Lord Manderly to let him know of your coming.” Lord Eddard stood up then and clapped Jon on the shoulder. “I know things have not been easy for you. But before you go, we must talk. You are growing to be a fine young man, and there are things that young men must know.”

Jon felt as though his heart would leap into his throat. He wanted to ask what sort of things they would discuss, but he didn’t want to trouble it. Instead he said. “Thank you, father.”

Lord Eddard nodded. “Good, now go, spend some time with your brothers and sisters.” With that Lord Eddard went back to pouring over his notes. Jon bowed and hurried out of the solar, he walked as if in a daze, and stopped when he heard someone, he hid behind the wall.

“We cannot stay here for too long.”

“It would be much simpler if someone just did the boy in. End his unnecessary suffering.”

“And how do you propose we do that? All of the possible suspects one could find would go straight to Stark.”

“Then we choose one of our own men.”

“That would make it obvious. No, we have to use the mockingbird.”

The voices disappeared then, but Jon was left confused. He wondered what they were talking about. He was about to leave when he turned and saw another figure in the distance. This figure did not see him, but was dressed in a dark cloak, with a hood over their face. He blinked and they were gone. He looked at Ghost and his direwolf merely blinked at him.

Chapter Text

Chapter 3: Leave It All Behind

 

Sansa felt a familiar sense of butterflies in her stomach as she and the Crown Prince walked through the Godswood, the Hound walked a discreet distance behind them. Unlike his brother, Prince Tommen, the Crown Prince had a shock of golden hair, and his eyes were piercing green. He was incredibly muscular though and had a booming laugh much like his father, the King did. He was also incredibly charming and his smile always made her stomach flit with butterflies.

They walked arm in arm, and the Crown Prince asked her various questions. “So, this is something I’ve always wanted to know, and I hope you forgive me for sounding ignorant, Lady Sansa, but in Winterfell, during feast days, do you celebrate the traditional way, or the more Andal way?”

Sansa was not quite sure what the Prince meant by the traditional way, she had never really paid attention to the feast days, that was more Arya’s thing, but she did not want to appear uncultured or idiotic before him, so she said. “We tend to do them more the Andal way. Father changed it for when Mother arrived from Riverrun, after the war.” That much she knew to be true, for it was something Father took great pride in.

“I see, a shame. For the older ways are seemingly purer and put you more in touch with the gods.” Was how the Crown Prince responded.

Worrying that she might have given the wrong answer, Sansa asked. “How do you all celebrate the feast days, Your Royal Highness?”

The Crown Prince smiled. “Sometimes we celebrate them in the ways the Andals set down, and in others we follow the old ways. It depends what the King wishes.” There was a slight tinge to the Crown Prince’s smile then, but it disappeared. “Anyway, enough of that. I am sure you must have questions about King’s Landing, please, feel free to ask them.”

They continued walking, down the pathway of the Godswood, where the trees turned into something like corpses. She had never been this far into the Godswood, she had always found the place too scary to really come into it this far. She put that fear behind her, Lady was at her side, and the Crown Prince was there also. She thought about what she wanted to know and asked. “What is King’s Landing truly like? I have heard that it is both a fascinating and glorious place, as described in the songs, but I’ve also heard it can be dark and scary.” She hated how childish she sounded there, but she had to ask.

Something flashed in the Crown Prince’s eyes, but it was gone almost before she could truly ascertain if it had ever been there to begin with. He smiled at her and replied. “King’s Landing is a great big city, that much is true. And there are areas which are simply fascinating and pure. Be they the Dragon’s Area, the Streets of Gold and Silver and the Red Keep. And there are areas which are perhaps less than pure, such as the Street of Silk and Flea Bottom. It truly does depend where you go and what you are looking for.” The Crown Prince stopped then and looked toward her. “I can assure you, my lady, that you need never venture to the Street of Silk or Flea Bottom, either before our marriage or during it. There would be no reason.”

Sansa nodded. “That is of great relief to me, Your Royal Highness. I must confess to a rather childish fear.”

The Crown Prince took her hand, and she felt something flutter within her again. “Sansa, may I call you Sansa?” She nodded and the Crown Prince continued. “There is no shame in feeling scared. You are going to a new place it is only normal that you would feel scared. King’s Landing is not Winterfell, it is not White Harbour either. It is the biggest city in the entirety of Westeros and is the capital to boot. That means there are new things that you will have to look for and ensure are done properly. I can well and truly understand how that can be worrying. Do not worry though. I will be there with you, throughout your stay, to ensure nothing bad happens.” The Hound made a funny noise there, and the Crown Prince turned to look at him. “And if I cannot be there, then my dog will be.” The Hound bowed his head.

“Thank you.” Sansa replied earnestly.

The Crown Prince turned around to look at the trees of the Godswood and said. “This place is very beautiful. There is nothing like this in King’s Landing. There is a godswood, but it is small, and somewhat pathetic. Perhaps, now that you are all coming south, I can ask the King to have more trees implanted. Would that make you feel happy?”

Sansa was not sure what to say. She didn’t like Weirwoods, but she also didn’t want to insult the Crown Prince, therefore she replied with. “I think that would please my father very much, Your Royal Highness.”

“And would it please you, my lady?” The Crown Prince asked. “And please, call me by my name, I am not my father, or my uncles.”

Sansa blushed then. “It would please me very much, Joffrey.”

Joffrey smiled. “Very well then, I shall speak with my father about this.”

With that he took her arm again and continued walking through the Godswood, and Sansa felt her heart turn for joy and how happy he seemed. They walked in a companionable silence for the rest of their sojourn through the Godswood, eventually finishing and walking back to the castle, where the Crown Prince kissed her hand. “This was delightful.” She smiled he returned her smile and then they went their separate ways.

When she got back to her room, she found Jeyne Poole waiting for her. “How did it go?” the girl asked.

Sansa sighed and fell down onto the bed, where Jeyne joined her. “He’s so perfect and handsome!”

Jeyne giggled. “I think you are in love with the Crown Prince, my lady.”

Sansa giggled with her friend and replied. “I think you might be right.” That was not such a bad thing, after all.

Her happiness was interrupted slightly, when Jeyne said. “Your brother is preparing to leave for White Harbour.”

“Why is Robb going to White Harbour?” Sansa asked.

“Not Robb, Jon.” Jeyne said.

Sansa nodded, that didn’t bother her too much, better the bastard leave than ruin things for her mother. “AH, I see.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 4: Important Conversations

 

Ned took a deep breath. He did not want to leave Winterfell. His son had fallen and had not woken up, his wife was grief stricken and had not moved from their son’s side since his fall, and first and foremost he did not like the Robert he saw before him. The Robert he remembered was boisterous, loud, sometimes obnoxious, but always full of kindness and compassion. The Robert he saw before him was filled with nothing but spite and anger. Why that was, Ned suspected he knew. Queen Cersei was not a caring person, she seemed haughty and full of herself, and most profoundly she was cold. She did not smile and she did not laugh, unless it was with her brother and twin, the Kingslayer. No Wonder Robert was the way he was.

Ned sighed. He knew what he would have to do as Hand of the King. He had kept in touch with Jon Arryn after the Greyjoy rebellion and had read, if not seen his friend fall into the abyss he presently seemed content to remain in. There could be no helping him from there unless he was in King’s Landing. As much as it pained him to admit that. There was still so much he had to do. He had to tell Robb to keep an eye on Theon Greyjoy, the boy might be his son’s friend but he was still Ironborn, even after all these years. And he had impregnated one of the Queen’s lady’s in waiting.

A knock on the door distracted him from his musings. “Come.” He said. The door opened and Jon walked in. “Jon, what can I do for you?” He asked.

“You said to come and see you.” His son said.

Ned nodded, the boy looked every day more a Stark and for that Ned was thankful. “Ah yes, of course. Forgive me, take a seat.” His son did so, sitting in a manner Ned recognised as Brandon’s but also his.

“What did you want to talk to me about, Father?” Jon asked.

Ned knew the boy wanted to know who his mother was, and truth be told Ned wanted to tell him, he really did, but there were other concerns he had, that needed to be voiced. “Son, I know you are going to be travelling to Essos. That you will be leaving on the morrow, therefore, I wanted to speak to you about what happened the last time a member of our family went to Essos.”

“Rodrik the Wandering Wolf?” Jon asked. “Why?” He could see the disappointment on the boy’s face.

“When he was there, my grandsire, your great-grandsire, was a proud man, he was a fighter and he did much and more that earned himself a place in their songs and stories. He also sired a family.” Ned said. He had heard this story from cousin Bennard many moons ago and had had to confirm it himself.

“That’s not in any history I’ve ever read on our family.” Jon said.

Ned sighed. “That’s because very few know about them. He was a young man when he went to Essos. He fell in love with the daughter of the Prince of Pentos, and married her. She went with him wherever he travelled, as a sellsword. She bore him some three children that we know of. Two sons and one girl. She then died some five years before he returned to Westeros. The girl joined her grandsire in Pentos, whilst the boys carried on fighting as sellswords. They never once tried to keep in contact with their father, until the day he was dying, when the eldest boy, named Jorah came to Winterfell to speak with him. I do not know what they spoke of, and no one who was there is alive now. But one thing I can tell you is that they are dangerous. Very dangerous.”

“How did you learn of them?” His son asked.

“Cousin Bennard told me of them when I returned from the war to put the King on the throne. He said he had met one of them, the boy and that he was a fierce fighter and even more terrifying than some of the distant cousins we have.” Ned said. It was partially true, he’d also met one of them when he had found Lyanna. “I tell you this now, to warn you.”

“Warn me?” Jon asked.

“Yes, they will know the moment you enter Braavos. They will not do anything whilst you remain with Cousin Bennard, however, if you deign to leave there, you will be on their list and as such you must be prepared. Therefore, I am increasing your protection guard to forty men.” Ned said simply.

“Would that not just attract more attention toward me?” Jon asked.

“No, if anything it would send a message to them that you are not there for the taking.” Ned said. It will also prevent Jorah from doing something he would deeply regret. Ned thought to himself, though he did not say that aloud.

“Father, there was something else I wanted to ask you.” Jon said.

Ned knew what his son was going to ask, and he was preparing for that, when the door was flung open and the King walked in. Ned and Jon both rose and bowed. The King waved them to sit down. “Perfect, just who I was looking for. Sit down.” They all did, though the King remained standing, though he seemed drunk.  “Ned, what is your bastard doing, when we leave?”

“He is heading to Essos, Sire.” Ned said.

“Pah, a pox on that. He is your lad, Ned, and he looks every bit a Stark as you did at his age.” The King looks at Jon then and Ned’s heart goes into his mouth. “Indeed he looks a little like Brandon as well. Tell me, boy, would you like to see King’s Landing?”

Ned goes to speak, but a look from the King shuts him up. “I…I… do not want to embarrass you, Sire. Nor my lord father.” Jon replied, and the way he says that breaks Ned’s heart.

“Pah, embarrass. What sort of nonsense is that? You would be honoured. You are Lord Eddard Stark’s son, you are the son of the Wolf. Do you know what that means boy?” The King said. When Jon did not reply, the King continued. “You will be seen as a great help to your family, especially your sisters. There will be girls wanting to bed you.” The King turned to Ned then and said. “He will serve as my squire. I need to get rid of the Lannisters surrounding me.”

Ned wanted to protest, but could say nothing other than. “We thank you for this honour, Sire.”

Robert laughed, a great booming noise. “Pah.” Then he turned to Jon and said. “Come on then lad, let me introduce you to the rest of your fellow squires.”

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 5: Kingslayer

 

Jaime watched the King stagger about Darry’s feast hall, a cup of wine in one hand, and a woman in the other. He gritted his teeth and tried to ignore the rage bubbling up inside of him. Cersei was at his side and she seemed not to care. Though he could tell by the way she held herself that she did, and that made him even angrier. This entire marriage between the King and his sister, the Queen was a sham. Neither of them liked the other, and he did not quite understand why she hadn’t removed him from the board yet. Things would be so much easier with Joffrey as King; the boy was biddable.

“If you keep grinding your teeth together like that, I’m going to start calling you Stannis.” His sister whispered into his ear.

He could smell the wine on her breath, and he felt a stirring down below. He laughed. “I am sorry, but Robert is being an idiot again.”

Cersei’s hand moved down to his trousers. “Let him do what he wants. Darry is no friend of ours anyway. And he is a poor lord, it does not matter what Robert does, the Lord of Darry will never be his friend. However, the man is charmed by Joff.”

That much was true, Joffrey had finally shown some sense, detached himself from Lady Sansa, and spent some time talking to Darry and his heir, indeed, Jaime had heard talk of the Crown Prince taking the boy as a squire, which amused him, because the boy was not himself a knight, yet. “Well isn’t that something. You know Tyrion told me that he found several banners in the storage areas of this castle. All of them Targaryen banners, and none of them were dusty.”

Cersei laughed. “Is that truly a surprise? The Darrys have been Targaryen loyalists forever.” There was a pause and then Cersei continued. “That is why when things with Robert finally reach their head, I shall send across the sea and bring the girl back over here.”

Jaime raised an eyebrow, and took Cersei’s hand. “Are you sure that is wise?”

Cersei sighed. “Yes there will be dangers in that some of the lords might try and rise in her favour, but if we marry Joff to the girl, then the two claims are united and we remove forever the chance that she might ever try and rise. Her brother is looking for some sort of Khalasar at the moment.”

Jaime nodded, he had never told anyone about the depravities that the mad King had indulged in before he had died. Hells, Jaime had never told Cersei that he still woke up crying in the middle of the night over what he had and had failed to do on that day long ago. At that moment, though, Jon Snow walked passed them, and Cersei’s grip on his hand tightened. Jaime looked at his sister and said. “The boy seems to be getting along with Tommen. And the King seems to favour him.”

“I know.” His sister replied. “I do not like it.”

Jaime laughed. “Surely that is a good thing? For it means then that he cannot be accused of being partial to one family, as he surely was before. Besides, it would be better for the boy to be friends with Tommen. That way no one can suspect what we might want to do with him,”

His sister did not seem to agree with him. “He is a bastard; nobody knows who his mother is. That makes him dangerous. The fact that he is also Stark’s son means that there is even more danger there, as our enemies could use him to get Stark to turn against us.”

Jaime did not see where his sister was coming from. “How?”

“Arryn.” Cersei said simply.

Jaime sighed. “Cersei, Jon Arryn was an old man, nobody suspects anything, and even if they did, we did not do anything wrong. We are not responsible for his death.”

His sister shifted slightly, and Jaime felt slightly uncomfortable at that. “I know, but still, we must be careful.”

“Well yes, but we cannot view the boy as a threat. He is a boy after all, not a man, and as such he is not even heir to Winterfell, he is simply a bastard. Indeed, should he become good friends with Tommen, he can depart for Storm’s End when the lad does. We both know Renly Baratheon will never have any children.” Jaime said. The Lord of Storm’s End’s preference for his former squire and friend was well known.

His sister nodded. “This is very true.” She withdrew her hand, then and got up.

“Where are you going?” He asked her.

“To speak with my son.” She said, which son she meant he did not ask, for she soon disappeared, and Tyrion appeared to take her place at his side.

“You know, I have spoken with Jon Snow. He seems a nice lad, and will be good for Tommen.” His brother said without any preamble.

“How so?” Jaime asked.

Tyrion fixed his mismatched eyes on him, and not for the first time, Jaime felt as if his brother was analysing him and finding him wanting. “He has courage, though he does not know that it is not the sort of courage that men of his station are often expected to have. Tommen has already adopted some of that courage. He is no longer a scared child, but a young man growing with grace and charm. He will make a good lord, perhaps even a great one.”

That surprised Jaime, he had never thought his brother had spent much time with Tommen. “High praise indeed, coming from you, brother.”

“I know a good man when I see one.” Tyrion said simply. There was a moment of silence and then his brother said. “I would have gone to the Wall, but I wanted to see how the Stark bastard would do in the south.”

The confession was an odd one to make, considering Jaime had not asked his brother. Since the Stark brat’s fall, Tyrion had been looking at him and Cersei strangely, and it had made Jaime very uncomfortable. “Why?” Was what he asked instead.

“I think Jon Snow will have an interesting future, and as the Hand’s bastard, he will be wanted by a great many people. Perhaps my interest is not merely that of the curious observer but also somewhat studious.” Tyrion said. He got up then and left, leaving Jaime wondering what the hell was going on with his brother and sister. Before he could think any more on it, he saw her ghost and blinked, a figure in black, with her hair, he got up to go to her, but she was gone. He closed his eyes and sighed.

Chapter Text

Chapter 6: A Stag Princess

 

Myrcella watched as her father staggered around the hall of Darry with some wench or the other, and felt little and less. She loved her father, truly she did, but she had long ago stopped being angered or embarrassed by his displays. He was the King, and if that was how the King wished to act, then so be it. Instead she turned to her ladies in waiting, her Mother called them that, to her though, they were just friends. She looked at Lady Jeyne Westerling, one of her oldest friends and said. “Have you danced with Tommen yet, Jeyne? I have seen the way you two have been looking at one another.”

Jeyne blushed something fierce. “I have not, Your Royal Highness, His Royal Highness has not yet asked me.”

“He’s too embarrassed to. He hasn’t drunk enough ale yet.” Came the tittering response from Cerenna Lannister.

“Then perhaps you should go and ask him to dance.” Myrcella suggested, and the horrified look on Jeyne’s face, Myrcella simply said. “Do you wish to be an old maid before you dance with him?”

Blushing, Jeyne shook her head and rose, she made her way over to where Tommen was sat, with Jon Snow, the bastard of Winterfell, and a few other young lordlings or second sons. She whispered something to him, her brother blushed, but got up and took her hand. Myrcella smiled. She turned back around and saw Cerenna looking at her oddly. “What? I want my friend to be happy. I would do the same for you, Cerenna, if you weren’t already bumping noses with some knight.” Cerenna blushed and kept quiet.

Lady Margaery however, did not. “Do you wish for your brother to wed Lady Jeyne then, Princess?”

Myrcella looked at Margery, she liked the woman, she was smart and kind, but there was an edge to her. Myrcella could not forget that she was the granddaughter of the Queen of Thorns, a woman who had done everything within her power to avoid a royal marriage. The Queen of Thorns wanted her granddaughter as a Princess though, and Myrcella knew her friend, knew she would stop at nothing to get that. “I want my friend and my brother to be happy. If that means they are together then so be it.” there was a pause then, in which she knew her ladies had gotten her message clearly. She then spoke about something else. “Jon Snow, on the other hand, what do we make of him, ladies?” Jon Snow, bastard son of Eddard Stark, he looked a lot like Stark, and was growing quite handsome. His frown had been almost permanent when he had first joined their party, but after time with Tommen and his friends it had become a smile. And boy, was his smile nice.

Myrielle, Cerenna’s sister and another Lannister cousin spoke first. “He has a very nice smile.” That got Cerenna tittering.

“Myrielle, wants to kiss him.” Cerenna said.

“So do you!” Myrielle shot back at her sister.

Barbara Bracken , eldest daughter and heiress presumptive of her father, the Lord of Stone Hedge, however said something else. “He is quite smart.” There was a pause then as they all looked at her in surprise. “What? He has a good understanding of the books and texts of Glydayn and Munkun, he even knows a fair bit of Septon Eustace’s treaties. And a little bit of Barth as well. I did not think a bastard would.”

Now that was very interesting, Myrcella had to admit. If Eddard Stark had seen to it that his bastard had received a very detailed education, which in some cases was better than the education a great lord’s own heir might get, then what else had he learned? “What all have you spoken about, Barbara?” Myrcella asked.

“Whether or not Barth’s telling of the birthing of dragons is accurate when compared to the studies that were done during the reigns of King Aegon the Dragon and his sons. Or whether the older scrolls of Valyria should be believed.” Barbara said.

“Older scrolls?” Myrcella asked. She had thought all the scrolls from Valyria had been lost during the Doom.

“He mentioned some older scrolls that were present within the libraries of the Citadel, cited within Glydayn’s works. Apparently, some cousin of his is part of the Citadel and wrote out a part of the document to him.” Barbara said.

“How interesting.” Myrcella said. She would have to keep that information on her mind for when she next spoke to the boy.

The conversation then took another turn, when her friend and namesake Myrcella Cafferen spoke. “Do you think your brother actually likes Lady Sansa, or is he only being nice to her, because her father is the King’s friend?”

Now that was a difficult question to answer. Joffrey was not an easy man to read. Though he, Tommen and her were triplets they all had different personalities, and as Joffrey had gotten older, both father and mother had taken him apart from her and Tommen, thus meaning that whilst she knew Tommen as well as she knew herself, Joffrey was somewhat of a mystery. “I think it might be equal parts of both.” At the raised eyebrows that accompanied that question, Myrcella found herself elaborating. “I think Joffrey admires Lord Eddard, and because he is the King’s best and oldest of friends he wants to make a good impression. But also, I think he finds Lady Sansa very interesting. She is certainly different.” That much was definitely true. She was a stereotype of what a southern lady should be, she would be eaten alive in King’s Landing. Myrcella felt sorry for her.

There was some general humming of agreement at this, and then Jeyne returned, flushed and smiling. “How was the dance?” Margaery asked of their friend.

Jeyne sat down and took her hand. “It was perfect. Thank you so much, Cella!”

Myrcella smiled. “Of course, it was nothing.”

Jeyne smiled again, and went to speak, when there was a silence called. The King stood straight as an arrow. He no longer looked drunk. “Now, we are here in Lord Darry’s castle, and we have not always seen eye to eye, me and Darry. But I think we must raise a toast, for this is a fine feast.” The King grabbed a cup of ale, and said. “To Darry!” the roar went up. Myrcella saw a strange expression on her mother’s face then and wondered at it. The Darrys had long been Targaryen loyalists after all.

Chapter Text

Chapter 7: Young Stag

 

 

“You know, I do think that Darry might have actually improved. Maybe the man is finally happy with the wife he has.” Uncle Renly japed, over a cup of wine.

Tommen hid a smile, as a Prince it was not fitting for him to laugh. Instead he asked. “How many wives has the man had, uncle?”

Uncle Renly, who had come with Ser Barristan and Ser Illyn Payne, smirked. “Three. His first wife was some commoner, or near enough a commoner, which was fine when he had three older brothers, she gave him a daughter and a stillborn son, dying giving birth to the son. Then he married a Vance, they had another daughter and then she ran away with some hedge knight. And now there’s this one. A Piper of Pinkmaiden, who it seems he’s in love with. A good thing as well. As the Pipers are loyal to the crown.”

Tyrek, Tommen’s cousin and close friend spoke then. “That isn’t all that surprising, his wife is something of a beauty.”

Tommen laughed then. It was true, with her long brown locks and haunting green eyes, and everything else about her, Lady Darry was a beauty, half of the boys on this journey had lusted after her, Tommen was half convinced Joffrey had tried to bed her himself. “Tyrek, you know she’s out of your league.”

His friend laughed. “I know, doesn’t mean I cannot dream.”

Uncle Renly then turned his attention to him and asked. “What’s this I hear about you spending a lot of time with Lady Westerling, Tommen? Are you thinking of courting her?”

Tommen felt his face heat up then. “I…she is nice.” Is all he could say before his friends burst out laughing.

“The Prince is in love with her.” Rickard Fell said.

“He wants to make her his wife.” Martyn Lannister, another cousin said.

“I think the Prince wants to get her with child.” Japed Lyonel Dondarrion, a cousin and heir to Lord Beric.

Tommen said nothing but felt his face heat. His uncle laughed though. “There is no shame in any of those things. Lady Jeyne is a nice looking lass for sure, and her family might well be coming into some money should the King deign to give them the trading rights on the seal furs.” There was a brief pause then as they all considered that, then Uncle Renly changed the topic. “But enough of that, tell me, how was Winterfell and the journey south?”

Everyone waited for him to speak. As he was the highest ranking noble at this little gathering, he knew none of his friends would say anything until he had. Therefore, he took a breath and said. “Winterfell was good. It was nice to be out of King’s Landing for a time. To actually feel the air on my face, and to be able to ride without worrying about some plot or another. The Starks seem nice enough, and Lady Sansa seems as if she would make a good wife for Joffrey.” He paused, took a sip of wine and then continued. “The journey was uneventful, though Lady Sansa’s brat of a sister Arya disappeared for a time, before returning.”

“Where did she go off to and why?” Uncle Renly asked. There was something in the way he said that, that made Tommen feel nervous, for a reason he couldn’t quite explain.

“Nobody knows.” Tyrek said. “But she reappeared, and she seemed fine. Her direwolf was with her as well, that great beast that snaps at anyone who isn’t a Stark.”

“I don’t know why she came south.” Rickard said. “If it was to turn her into a southern lady and find her a husband willing to sleep with her, I fear Lord Stark will be greatly disappointed.”

Uncle Renly said nothing at that, indeed it appeared as though he was trying to ignore what they had all just said. He instead asked. “And what of Jon Snow? How is that young man?”

“He’s okay.” Tommen said. “A bit withdrawn at times, but he is smart and he knows how to fight, which is good.”

Uncle Renly smiled at that. “Still thinking of engaging your brother in the melee then?”

Tommen laughed. That had been an idea he had had when they were both children, and learning how to fight. He had always wanted to prove he was stronger than his brother, he knew he was smarter, but that would not win him any plaudits from father or mother. “I don’t think so. But I was simply thinking that he would need to know how to fight, especially in King’s Landing.” He paused and then asked his Uncle. “How is the capital?”

“Well enough, it still stinks of horseshit and the same amount of smells that were there when you all left. Though now without Lady Lysa and her brat crawling through the halls, it is somewhat less noisy.” Uncle Renly said.

“I had thought that Lord Robert was to become a ward of the crown?” Tommen asked. “That was what Father had said.”

“No, he was to go to Casterly Rock, to be a ward of your grandsire, Lord Tywin.” Uncle Renly said.

There was an awkward silence, Tommen could not imagine a worse fate. Robert Arryn was a pathetic weakling, who had only come off his mother’s teat some three years ago. He was not right to be Lord of the Eyrie, hells, Tommen had heard rumours that he was not actually Jon Arryn’s son. “I see.” Was all he could say.

Uncle Renly got up then. “Now if you excuse me, I must go and speak to my brother about some court business.” With that Uncle Renly walked off to where the King was. Father was surprisingly sober for once.

Tommen turned to look at his friends and said. “I think there might be more to what happened with Lady Lysa and her son than Uncle Renly is letting on.”

Olyvar Frey, another friend, who rarely spoke, but when he did he usually spoke sense, spoke now. “I agree, Your Royal Highness, however, if Lord Baelish is involved then perhaps it would be better to leave it well alone.”

Tommen shook his head. “If Baelish is involved, then that is exactly why we must get involved.” He did not trust Baelish, he had never liked the man, and did not like the way he had looked at Myrcella from time to time.

“How though?” came the response from Rickard.

“By speaking to Joffrey.” Tommen said, he knew that his brother would listen to him. He did not like Baelish either.

Chapter Text

Chapter 8: Small Council

 

Ned took a breath to ease the frustration he felt. King’s Landing was indeed a shit hole, and Robert had not made things any easier, by giving him most of the work to do, whilst it appeared the King simply worked on keeping himself in shape and drinking and whoring. Stannis Baratheon was also not in King’s Landing surprisingly. It seemed the Master of Ships had ventured back to Dragonstone. Why, Ned did not know, though he was beginning to believe Renly, and think that Stannis was jealous that he had not been named Hand of the King. Much like King Maekar had been all those years ago. Truth be told, Ned did not care. Let Stannis sulk. If he did not answer the summons he would be tried and found guilty of treason.

The rest of the Small Council was present though, and so Ned began. “The King shall not be joining us today. But that does not mean we cannot discuss those issues which are most pressing.” There was a pause, then Ned continued. “Lord Baelish, have you found a means of reducing the crown’s debt?” When he had arrived in the capital and found out the crown was so severely in debt he had nearly had a heart seizure.

“I have, my lord Hand. However, I am not sure whether the King will approve.” Baelish replied. Ned remembered how Brandon had described the boy many years ago, and found himself constantly under guard around him.

“The King agrees that the debt must needs be reduced.” Ned said, which was true, though Robert didn’t seem to much care either way.

Baelish smirked that annoying smirk of his, and continued. “Very well. I propose that we impose a duty tax on all imported wines and ales. This would generate around five hundred thousand dragons, given how much wine and ale is imported from Essos, and from Ib. I would propose that we place the duty tax at three percent, so that it is not too high. I would also propose that we cut down on the number of purses handed out to members of the court. There are some eighty members of court receiving substantial handouts from the treasury.”

Lord Renly spoke then. “And what would you suggest we do, with those who no longer receive these handouts?”

“Why charge them with treason for failure of repayment and throw them in the black cells, and confiscate their lands.” Baelish said simply.

“That will generate outrage.” Renly pointed out. “The purses have been in place since the reign of King Daeron the Good.”

“Then perhaps it is time we stop them.” Ned said simply. He looked at Baelish and said. “You have my approval to go ahead with this.”

There was some muted mumbling at this from Renly, but Grand Maester Pycelle spoke up then. “I agree with the lord Hand, this is the most sensible case for reducing the debt.”

Deciding the matter closed, Ned turned to Varys. “What word do you have on the Targaryen girl and her brother?” Ned suspected that the Queen wanted Daenerys Targaryen brought to King’s Landing to marry the Crown Prince, but Ned knew Robert would never abide by that. He remembered their argument after the Sack all too well.

“The girl and her husband, the Khal are currently in Vaes Dothrak. They are exploring the nature and merit of such things. The girl’s brother however has left them.” Varys replied. “It seems he has grown tired of waiting for the Khal to give him something he was never going to give, and has instead ventured elsewhere.”

Ned raised an eyebrow. “Where?”

“As to that, my little birds are currently still searching. But do not fear, my lord Hand, we shall find him.” Varys replied.

“Good.” Ned said. “Viserys is not a boy anymore, his death would remove all sorts of obstacles.” He still remembered the declaration that Oberyn Martell had issued after the rebellion had ended. He knew the Prince had been imprisoned for a time, but that did not change things. Dorne would hunger for revenge.

“There is another more pressing matter, however.” Varys said.

“And what is that?” Ned asked.

“My little birds tell me that Myr, Tyrosh and Lys are growing closer, that the magisters of all three cities have been meeting regularly and that there is talk of bringing the Three Daughters back together. They are doing this in response to the threat they believe Volantis possesses, and to take the Stepstones.” Varys said.

Ned took a deep breath. “Is there anything we can offer them individually, as a financial incentive say, that would prevent them from going down this route?” The union of those three cities would be bad for Westerosi trade, everyone knew that.

Varys shook his head. “Not as the Crown’s finances stand now. Though an alliance with Braavos might go someway toward preventing a war. They are all afraid of Braavos.”

Littlefinger spoke then. “Until our debts to the Iron Bank are paid off, I would advise against that, my lord Hand. The alliance would not be an equal one.”

“Then what solution do you propose?” Ned demanded. Baelish held up his hands.

Renly spoke then. “Why not simply strike first? We know they want the Stepstones. We should take them first. Use them as a base and exact a toll on their ships.”

Grand Maester Pycelle laughed. “A bold strategy for sure, but none other than an Essosi or a Targaryen has ever been able to hold the Stepstones. And when Prince Daemon did it, he had a dragon. We have no dragons.”

“But we have the greatest fleet in the known world.” Renly countered. The man then looked toward him. “My lord Hand, at least consider it. Unless you wish for them to exact ever more tolls on our ships, when they do eventually take the Stepstones.”

Ned considered it, it was a sensible move. The Stepstones was crucial for trading routes, and if the Three Daughters came into possession of them, there was no telling what they would try to do with them. But he did not want to risk a war, which they might not be able to afford. He hesitated for a moment and then said. “I shall speak with the King about this.” He knew what Robert would say though. “If there is nothing more, this meeting is at an end.”  As the other lords got up, Baelish remained. “What do you want?” Ned demanded of him.

“There is something I must show you, my lord.” Littlefinger said. He walked out of the room. Ned deciding he had nothing better to do, followed him. They walked out of the keep, mounted their horses and rode down the hill and into the streets. They kept going for some time until they stopped in front of a brothel.

“Why have you brought me here?” Ned asked, his anger growing.

Baelish did not say anything for a moment and then dismounted and said. “Your lady wife is inside.”

Ned dismounted and threw Baelish against the brothel wall, his dagger against the man’s throat. “What did you just say?!”

“Your lady wife is inside.” Baelish said calmly.

Ned was about to reply, when he heard a familiar voice call out. “Ned!”

He looked up and saw Catelyn leaning outside the window. “Cat? What are you doing here?”

“I came to see you, we ned to talk, my love.” Catelyn called down.

Ned removed his dagger from Baelish’s throat and followed the man inside. He hugged Catelyn, and then whispered. “What are you doing here? Are you safe? How are the boys?”

“I’m fine, they’re fine.” Cat replied. “But Ned, someone tried to kill Bran.” His wife said immediately.

Chapter Text

Chapter 9: King’s Squire

 

“You should smile more lad, nobody is ever going to take you seriously if you look as if you’ve shat yourself.” The King said. He was not drunk, he hadn’t been drunk since Darry it seemed. Jon liked this version of the King, less of an oaf, and more of the warrior his father had told him and Robb about when they were children.

“I will keep that in mind, Your Majesty.” Jon replied.

“Pah, just like your father with that sarcasm of yours.” The King said. “Must be a Stark trait, Lyanna had it as well.”

That got Jon’s interest, his father never spoke about Aunt Lyanna, apart from once on her nameday many years ago. “Really?” Jon asked.

The King nodded. “Aye, she had a sharp tongue did your Aunt. But not as sharp as your father’s. Oh, could he talk, Ned could. He would often be found trading barbs with Elbert after our lessons and before we went to train.”

That surprised Jon, he had never quite taken his father for a man who would trade barbs with anyone. He had always appeared so serious. His surprise clearly showed on his face, for the King then said. “I suppose you have never seen that, have you, lad?”

“No, Sire.” Jon replied.

The King sighed. “The war changed it all. Ned used to be a boy who would laugh and jape with us all. He was never as light hearted as Brandon was, but he knew how to laugh and he often made me the butt of his jokes.” A far away look came over the King then, only be dispelled within moments. “But that was then, and this is now.” A pause, then. “So, tell me, lad, how do you find the capital? How does it compare to Ned’s beloved Winterfell?”

Jon did not know how to respond to that. He was still trying to process the thought of his father cracking jokes, practical jokes of the sort he and Robb made. Eventually he realised that the longer he remained silent, the more obvious it would be as to where his thoughts were going, and that would be rude. So, he said. “It is certainly bigger than Winterfell, and a lot smellier.”

For a moment Jon thought he had offended the King, then breathed a sigh of relief when the King burst out laughing. “Oh, on that much I can agree with you. King’s Landing smells like a whore’s vagina.” As the King caught his breath, Jon wondered if the King had always been this way. “I have been meaning to clean up the gutters and remove the gutter rats from the place, but never got round to it. I might just ask your father to do it.” Another pause, then the King continued. “Now, tell me, how do you find your fellow squires. And be honest, lad.”

Jon did not wish to offend the King’s family, but he also knew to lie to the King was treason, and so he chose a middle ground. “Some of them are nice and decent swordsmen. Tywin Frey will make a great knight one day, perhaps a great Kingsguard. Willem Lannister is quiet but quick, and brilliant with a hammer.” He paused then, wondering how to go on. “As for Lancel Lannister, I fear he is a lost cause.”

The King did not respond immediately, instead, seemingly considering his words. “Very well, I thank you for your candour.” Jon wondered if he had said something wrong then, but the King rose. “I have no further need of you today, you may retire for the day.” Jon bowed and hurried away. As he walked he wondered at the King’s changing moods. They were never easy to predict, and there seemed to be some underlying thing within him that made him this way.

He decided to see where Prince Tommen was, perhaps even join him in some reading. As he walked he overheard voices, deciding he did not want to be seen, he stopped and hid behind one of the pillars and listened.

“We cannot continue waiting. Any more time and the fat man will come to know about us.”

“What do you want me to do? I cannot shout it from the palace roof. I need more time.”

“How much more? You wanted to wait until after Arryn was dead, and then after Stark said no. He didn’t say no, he is here now.”

“I know that. I just need one more day. The Tourney of the Hand is coming and with it news of the Dragon girl’s pregnancy. Then we shall have our chance.”

The two figures walked away, and Jon wondered at that. He peaked out behind the pillar and then when he was sure they were gone, he continued walking. It was only after he had turned a corner that he realised he was being followed. He wheeled around and brought his sword out. “What do you want?” He hissed.

The figure said nothing, but pressed a note to his chest and scampered away. Jon sheathed his sword, and picked up the note.

You know more than you think. Come to the godswood at the hour of the wolf, and learn more about what changed your father.

Jon pocketed the note and walked on. His mind a whir with possibilities. Who could be sending him this? Was it the same person who had tried to kill Bran? Or someone else? Who could it have been. He kept walking and eventually found Prince Tommen reading some tome, whilst his companions fooled around with sticks. Jon bowed. “Your Royal Highness.”

The Prince put his book down, and Jon suddenly thought at how startlingly similar he looked to the King, compared to his brother, the Crown Prince. “Did my father lecture you?”

Jon laughed and said. “No, he simply wanted to ask me how I was doing.”

The Prince smiled. “Good. Now take a seat, and tell me what you think of the Dying of Dragons, and whether or not there is more to it than that.”

Jon sat down and began. “Well, I think there is a dragon egg in Harrenhal…..” all the while his mind went back to the note.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 10: Kingly Anger

 

“What good is being King, if I cannot enjoy the things that come with it!” Robert thundered, deeply annoyed with first wife and now Ned telling him there was no point in fighting in the melee. “My seven damned sons will be fighting and earning their spurs, and I must now simply sit there and watch them.”

“Better to watch, than being humiliated by the people’s fear to hurt you, Sire.” Ned replied, calmly as ever. Robert looked at his friend and asked.

“I’m surprised you wouldn’t enter the melee, Ned. You entered at Harrenhal and nearly won.” He remembered those days fondly, when he could drink all night and fight all day. Now even putting on his armour tired him.

“I have no need to prove myself, Sire. I know what I can do in a fight.” Ned said softly, though Robert heard the rebuke in his words.

“You know, I think this is the only thing you and my wife have agreed on, Ned, how does that make you feel?” Robert asked.

His friend said nothing for a moment and Robert laughed. He knew well the animosity that existed between his friend and his wife and her family. He did not much care for it though. It irritated him. “The Queen was right in this instance.” Ned said. Robert roared with laughter.

His squires came then and adjusted some of his armour. “Enough with that. I will no longer need this.” Lancel Lannister looked flustered, but Jon Snow and Martyn Lannister stepped up and helped remove the armour and plate. Snow handed him his shirt. “Thanks, lad.” Robert looked at Ned then and said. “You’ve got a good lad there, Ned. He’s quick on his feet and doesn’t think with his cock.”

Snow blushed, and Ned cracked a rare smile. “Thank you.”

Robert turned back to his friend then and said. “You know, I’ve been meaning to ask you, why did you not send the lad south sooner? He could have grown up here, and earned more stripes.” It was something he wished he could have done for his own bastards, Edric, and the other one, who he could not think of.

Ned’s face changed then, turning slightly darker, and for a moment Robert wondered if he had said the wrong thing. “I…” Ned took a breath and then his face softened. “Jon’s place was with his family at Winterfell. That he is enjoying himself here is all the better to me.” There was something about the way Ned said family that raised his suspicions, but he put that to the side.

Robert looked at Jon who was standing a fair distance back. “You’re fighting in the squire’s melee are you not, lad?”

Snow nodded. “I am, Sire.”

“Good. You might well fight my own son, Tommen, he wants to win to show his brother that he too can fight in the melee.” Robert said, Joffrey had gotten it into his head to fight with the men, and so, Robert, proud that his son was at last showing some sort of warrior spirit had agreed. Promising him a knighthood if he won. Deciding to make things interesting he looked at Snow and said. “If you win the squires melee, I’ll give you a knighthood.”

Snow looked shocked at this. “I…I thank you, Sire.”

Ned looked at him then, something flitting in those grey eyes of his, Robert ignored them and instead said. “Right, well if I cannot fight, I might as well watch them fight.” He walked out of the tent, and made his way up the stand. Ser Barristan followed closely behind, Robert did not know what to make of the man. He had been loyal to Aerys for so very long and then had bent the knee. Sometimes Robert wondered if the man still felt any loyalty to the Targaryens across the sea. He even wondered whether he should’ve declared for Aegon on the Trident, it was the man’s father and grandsire he had had issues with not the babe himself.

Tywin Lannister had taken that choice from him though. The crimson covered bodies still haunted him at night. He blinked and then sat down in his chair. All eyes were on him. He took a breath, resisted the urge to drink and proclaimed. “Let it begin!” the crowd roared and the melee began. He watched as the fighters came barrelling out at one another. Joffrey was obvious from the stag helm he wore, he looked much like Robert himself had done during the Trident. No doubt Joffrey had wanted it that way. He even wielded a hammer, though Robert knew his son was a natural with a sword.

He watched the fight, saw knights of experience fall before his son and though there was a hint of jealousy within him, he mainly felt pride. His son was doing that to these people. A Baratheon was destroying these knights and others. More and more men fell until it was his son and the Mountain left. Even the Hound had fallen before his son. Robert felt something crawl inside him, he knew what the Mountain had done to Aegon and Rhaenys Targaryen. He kept his breathing steady and watched as his son advanced. The Mountain swung and Joffrey blocked, then his son pushed back. One swing hit the Mountain’s sword, another hit his chest. Robert watched and then winced as the Mountain retaliated.

Robert watched everything happen slowly and then quickly. One moment his son was on his knees, battling for dear life, the next moment he was on his feet and the Mountain was bleeding, his sword discarded. For a moment, Robert wondered if his son would rob the Dornish of their revenge, instead he merely swung his hammer and knocked the Mountain out cold. Robert stood and clapped, bellowing his approval. The commons and lords gathered all did the same. Robert walked down the steps and made his way to his son. He took his son’s hand and roared. “This is my son, this is your Prince! Joffrey Baratheon!” The crowd roared. And Robert looked at his son and smiled. “I am proud of you.” He said, and he was, truly proud. “Kneel.” He commanded.

His son did as bid, and Robert took the sword offered by Ser Barristan. “I, Robert, of the House Baratheon, King of Westeros, do hereby knight you before these people in the light of the Seven. Do you swear to defend the weak and the innocent, to fight for truth, justice and honour?”

“I, Joffrey, of the House Baratheon, do swear.” His son replied.

Robert tapped his son’s right shoulder, then his left, and said. “Then rise, Ser Joffrey.” He handed the sword back to Ser Barristan and helped his son stand, took his hand and lifted it up for the crowd to see.

Chapter Text

Chapter 11: Squire’s Melee

 

The herald called out. “Today is the final day of the Hand’s tourney. A great many feats have been done. Today we see the squires of the most noble lords of the realm compete for honour and glory. For a knighthood.” The herald looked to the King who called out.

“Begin.”

Tommen grabbed his mace and walked forward. Father, Mother, a newly knighted Joffrey, Myrcella and Lady Jeyne were all watching him. He moved toward Lancel who he knew would be the weakest opponent. He swung his mace and within  few swings had knocked Lancel down and gotten his surrender. Somewhere he knew Uncle Kevan was groaning. His heir was pathetic. Tommen moved on, hearing the chattering of the crowd. He heard someone else surrender, and turned and saw some lowly Vance surrendering to Jon Snow. He nodded, that made sense.

He kept going, came face to face with Richard Lonmouth, named after the Knight of Skulls. He swung his mace. Lonmouth swung his. They clashed and sparks flew. Tommen pushed and Lonmouth pushed back. They moved this way and that, the crowd started to get excited. Tommen sensed that Lonmouth was putting a bit too much weight on his front foot, so leaned forward and pushed with all his might. Lonmouth fell backward and Tommen swung his mace. The boy fell backward, and Tommen knocked him out cold. It was sporting but it was a melee after all.

Another figure came at him. This time it was Martyn, his cousin and friend. Tommen took it easy on him, batting away his swings and allowing him to get a blow or two on his person. But when Martyn got cocky and said. “You’re getting soft, Your Royal Highness.” Tommen decided enough was enough. He smacked his mace into Martyn’s face once, and then hit his chest once, twice, and then a third time, getting his cousin to surrender. He moved on, and faced Willem, Martyn’s brother. Another swing, Willem hit his helm. Tommen took the blow, felt a moment of shock and moved forward. Willem was all about the quick blows. Tommen knew from experience to let the other boy move this way and that, using up his speed and exhausting himself.

When Tommen heard his laboured breathing, he moved in. One swing knocked the sword out of his cousin’s hand. Another swing and his cousin was bleeding. Another swing and his cousin surrendered. Tommen winked at him and moved on. He felt exhilarated, perhaps he might actually win this and earn the knighthood. He came across Jeyne’s cousin, Alyn. He moved quickly did Alyn. Swinging this way and that. Another one who had all the skill but no idea how to use it. Tommen read him easily enough. It was about watching the feet. That was what Aron Santagar and Uncle Jaime had taught him. Always watch the feet and you would know where the opposition fighter was going. Tommen watched the feet and saw his gap, he stuck his left foot forward, forcing Alyn to move awkwardly, and then he slammed his mace in hard. Alyn sank to the floor and didn’t get up again. For a moment Tommen feared he’d killed the boy, but then Alyn struggled up and walked off.

Now it was just three of them left. Jon Snow and Harrold Hardying. Hardying went for Snow, fighting him with a hammer. Snow fought with a sword and seemed to be going well. He blocked the blows on his shield, and then pushed forward with intensity. Hardying was a big lad, but he wasn’t all that smart. He left himself open far too often. He broke himself on the shield and then was sliced and diced and left to surrender. He limped off but not before spitting at Jon. Tommen made note of that, and swore that the boy would never attend him at Storm’s End.

Now it was just the two of them. Tommen smiled and winked at Jon as his friend smiled at him. They moved to meet in the middle. Tommen swung his mace, Jon raised his shield. They clanged against one another. Jon pushed and Tommen pushed back. They danced around and then broke apart, only to come together again for more of the same. It was vicious. Tommen felt his blood sing. He swung, Jon blocked, Jon swung and he blocked. The crowd were roaring their approval. He could feel himself growing flush with pride.

He had fought Jon before in the practice yard and they had always given as good as they had gotten. It was the way they both were. Fighting with intensity and never ever letting up. This time was no different. Backwards and forwards they went. Tommen took blows, Jon took blows. But still they kept fighting. Never to cease. Onward. Tommen felt blood begin to drip down his body from the wounds, whilst Jon was covered in dents and cuts. Jon swung and Tommen slipped, he fell back and felt the sword pressing at his neck.

“Do you surrender?” Jon asked.

Tommen slowly got back up. “Never.” He swung his mace and their dance continued again. Backwards and forwards, this time they both fought as if on another level. Neither of them were really caring about what sort of wounds they dealt only that the other was weakening. It went on like this for some time before the King stood up and bellowed.

“Enough! We have seen enough to judge you both worthy.” The King walked down the steps and toward them. “You have both fought well and we judge you equal winners.” He took both their hands and raised them high as the people cheered.

“Now kneel.” The King said, taking a sword. He knighted them both, they swore their vows and then the crowd cheered once more.

Tommen looked at Jon and winked. He knew they would talk about this over a cup of ale later. But for now they could both bask in their newly won knighthoods, and the girls that would come with it.

Chapter Text

Chapter 12: From One Hand To Another

 

 

Ned looked at the candle, and then sighed. He turned back to the papers before him, reading through the letters it was like there was a ghost clawing at his back. Trying to get him to see something that he just couldn’t find. Discovering Jon Arryn’s letters in the secret caches of the Tower of the Hand was something he’d not thought would happen and yet here he was. There were about fifty of these letters dating throughout his time as Hand. Ned was reading through them to get a better understanding of Jon as Hand and to see how he had let things get to where they were now.

He took a breath and went back to reading the current document.

Seven moons have passed since we made the visit. It seems that the child is healthy and strong, which is good. The King knows little and cares even less about this child. That is sad, for the Queen continues to remain without child, despite two years of marriage. There is talk that her father, Lord Tywin has been giving her all sorts of things to help with pregnancy. Something that must be a Lannister trait, for the King’s own mother was married and with child within a few moons of one another. However, we cannot wait for too long. If Lord Tywin or the Queen finds out about the visit then we are all doomed.

Sometimes I wonder whether the right decision was made, in declaring Robert King. Since the death of his lady love, he has thrown himself into fighting and drinking. He leaves the ruling of the realm to me, and though I think myself worthy of the task, the truth is I am tired. I cannot stomach everything that must needs be done. I know Robert wants there to be war with Dorne. He thinks that he can achieve what the Targaryens did not and conquer Dorne completely. It is that that makes me wonder if perhaps we should have declared for Aegon, it was Rhaegar and Aerys we had issue with, not the babe or his mother and sister.

But for now, we must content ourselves with what has happened and move on with life. I do not know how long we can last on the throne without something happening. Robert is far too volatile for something peaceful to occur. More money shall need to be taken out to bribe people.

The letter ended there, and left Ned confused. There was a child in the capital, it seemed that was Robert’s. That was not the part that surprised him, Robert had sired a child when he was in the Vale before the war. The part that surprised him was the fear Jon had had that the child might be killed by the Queen. Surely she would not kill a babe, a bastard babe at that. They would be no threat to the children she had with Robert. He blinked and moved that letter to the side, and picked up another letter, this one from closer to the time of his death.

My stomach pains me. I know that some will think that this is just old age catching up with me, but I know what it is. I know that someone at court has poisoned me. They wish for me to die to protect their secrets whatever they might be. I do not much care anymore. I am old and tired. My line will die with me as well. I am not sure whether the boy my wife claims is mine, is actually mine. I have seen the way she looks at Baelish, and I know that my seed is not strong. If it had been I would never have married her, despoiled as she was. But that is the matter for the gods to decide. I have other things to write about.

I visited the boy again, this time with the boy’s uncle. Stannis and I both agree that the boy looks every bit like Robert did at that age. And our recent discoveries make it even more crucial that the boy is protected, for the seven knows what will happen when I am dead. Ned will be named Hand, for Robert will want someone he trusts near him. Yet I fear Ned is not someone who is ready for what must be done. But that is neither here nor there. I know what must happen, and I know what must be done. I have spoken with Varys, though I do not trust him, and I have spoken with my cousin Ronnel, they know what must be done.

Ned put aside that letter and thought through it all. Clearly Jon had been in a lot of pain, and if he knew he had been poisoned then he had been poisoned. But if he compared this letter with the one he had written many years before, then perhaps the Queen had indeed poisoned him. Though why? She could not have, or rather would not have poisoned someone simply for visiting the King’s bastard surely? Ned did not like the woman but he did not think she was that vindictive. And if Robert Arryn was not Jon’s son then he was not the rightful lord of the Vale. But how would Jon know that? There was no way to know, Robert had darkish hair, whilst Jon had always had blonde hair, but Ned’s own heir had auburn hair like Cat.

Cat, she had said she suspected something had gone amiss with the Lannisters at Winterfell, and then the dagger. What had Bran seen? What had he seen that he was not supposed to see? He would need to speak with Stannis, the man had not bothered replying to the summons nor had he arrived. He could issue a warrant for treason to get the man to come here. But such a thing would not endear him to Stannis. Seven this was difficult. He took a breath and thought through everything he knew.

Bran had been pushed whilst climbing, though he never fell normally, the Queen and the Kingslayer had been missing for some time. Jon Arryn had visited Robert’s bastard both when the boy was young and a few days before his death. He had feared the Queen would have the boy killed if she knew about him. Jon regretted seating Robert on the throne, and wished they had declared for Aegon-which was odd as it was Jon who had suggested Robert be crowned, Robert had wanted Aegon on the throne- and Jon had also suspected his own son was not his. He also knew he had been poisoned.

Ned swore. “Why did you need to make this so difficult?” He looked through the rest of the letters, not finding anything until a letter dated right at the start of Robert’s reign gave him the answer he was looking for. He read the sentence out loud. “We have placed the boy with Tobho Mott, to ensure that he is safe and that he can learn a skill that will endear him to his father.”

Ned sighed, then took the three letters, folded them and placed them within his pocket. He then got up and called out. “Jory ready the horses, we have a blacksmith we must visit.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 13: Conversations Of Dragons

 

“You see I have always thought that Glydayn was a biased and a bit of a terrible historian. The man was writing for King Aegon the Fortunate, he was hardly going to give a proper account of the ancestors of the King, even if by doing so he might have told us the true reason so many died during the Dance.” Tyrion said.

His nephew shook his head. “I disagree, Glydayn was going off of what the sources he had available to him at the time had said. He presents as impartial an account as he can, given the circumstances. Besides, I’ve read Munkun’s account and it is by far the most impartial account of the Dance you can have.”

“Ah, but that is because Pycelle has always been partial to Munkun and therefore would’ve taught you more in his style of leadership and readership than anything else.” Tyrion countered. He also knew that Munkun presented the Lannisters in a favourite light, therefore Pycelle would’ve insisted on teaching him.

Tommen shook his head again. “It’s not just Munkun I’ve read though. I’ve read Bennifer, some of Barth and Tristifer, and obviously Barth was not alive during the Dance, but his accounts on Dragons is surprisingly lacking compared to Munkun.”

“Barth never thought he would see dragons dance against one another. He was alive at a time when the Old King’s succession was strong.” Tyrion said. “If anything the Old King should’ve known something like this would come. The moment he married his granddaughter off to the Sea Snake a dance was inevitable.”

“Aye, I do not know why they didn’t just unite the two claims. What the Queen Who Never Was so wilful that she would simply ignore an order from her King and grandsire?” Tommen asked.

“She was half Baratheon, and you should know that by now, the Baratheons do nothing that they do not wholly agree with.” Tyrion said.

Tommen laughed, then grew serious. “Had the Old King actually forced the issue what would have changed though?”

Tyrion was surprised by the insistence his nephew had in focusing simply on this issue. He took a moment to think through what he knew about the Dance and the reign of the Old King and the other players involved. He also knew his nephew would not accept a simple answer. “I think that had the Old King arranged that marriage much would’ve been avoided. For sure the Dance would not have happened. But I do think that something would’ve occurred with the dragons. Keeping them in the dragonpit stunted their growth, and as such as it became more apparent that this was happening, it would require a King who did not wish to ignore the matter to handle things.”

Tommen sighed wistfully at that, and Tyrion recognised a bit of himself in his nephew. “I wonder why the Old King did not do that then.”

“I think because he was caught in grief and did not wish to gainsay his granddaughter. He wanted her happy to honour his son.” Tyrion said.

“And the realm bled because of it.” Tommen said.

Tyrion looked at his nephew and asked. “What would you do if you were in the Old King’s position? Would you tell your granddaughter that she could not marry the man of her choosing, rich and powerful as he was, and instead she had to marry her cousin? When one expected her to be named heir, what message would that send?”

“It would send a message that I care about my dynasty, and that I fully intend to secure the succession. By naming his second son as his heir apparent after Prince Aemon died, the Old King sent a message, and it was a message that could easily have led to war. He should have confirmed Rhaenys as heir and ordered her to marry Viserys, and then married another of his daughters to Corlys to give him a wife of the blood.” Tommen replied.

“The Sea Snake was a proud man, would such a thing have appeased him?” Tyrion asked.

The Baratheon in Tommen came out then. “If he knew which way his bread was buttered it would have.”

Intrigued, Tyrion asked. “And if you were to fall in love with someone who was powerful, but in order to unite the claims of the dynasty you would need to marry a cousin, would you do it?” He knew this scenario was never going to happen. Tommen was a man, with all the benefits that had, not a woman.

“I would do my duty and marry the person who would secure my dynasty.” Tommen said simply.

“Even if it meant giving up your lady love?” Tyrion asked.

“Yes. Nothing is more important than the Kingdom and its security. My own happiness is a secondary concern.” Tommen said sounding more like Tywin Lannister than anyone Tyrion had ever heard speak before.

Tyrion raised his cup to his nephew and said. “Then you are a better man than half of Westeros.”

Tommen said nothing to that, instead he asked. “Why do you think Uncle Stannis has not returned from Dragonstone? Could it truly be that he is sulking because he was not named Hand?”

Tyrion laughed. “Your uncle and father do not have that sort of relationship. Much as he would like it to be true, Stannis Baratheon is not Maekar Targaryen. He is not even Bloodraven. He is simply Stannis Baratheon. So, perhaps he is simply trying to gather his thoughts.” Though Tyrion thought that unlikely and indeed worried that the man had treason on his mind.

It seemed his nephew had had a similar thought. “Do you think he will try anything?”

Tyrion did not know what to say that. “I think that we had all better be on alert in case something does happen.”

His nephew nodded. “He has always wanted Storm’s End.”

“Aye.” Tyrion said, then he paused and ended with. “Do you not have lessons to attend?”

His nephew nodded, got up and walked away, leaving Tyrion to wonder if Tommen would get Storm’s End or Casterly Rock, surprisingly the latter did not bring jealousy.

Chapter Text

Chapter 14: Curious Maladies

 

“I do not like the fact that Eddard Stark continues to poke his nose into business that is not his. He should never have been allowed to venture toward Tobho Mott’s forge in the first place. How did he even find out about it?” Cersei demanded, fighting hard to keep her voice calm. She suspected but did not know for certain whether Pycelle reported every conversation they had back to her father. If he did, she did not want him painting her as hysterical.

“Your Majesty, it is possible someone who once worked for Arryn tipped him off about it. After all he was seen speaking with many former members of Lord Arryn’s household at the tourney held in his honour.” Pycelle replied.

Cersei waved a dismissive hand. “None of those simpering idiots knew anything about anything. No, there must have been another way in which he found out.”

Jaime said nothing but Cersei saw one of his spies enter the room and whisper something in his ear before disappearing again. Cersei looked at her brother who eventually spoke. “It appears Arryn left a stash of letters hidden within the Tower of the Hand, Stark found them and has been following them ever since.”

Cersei’s eyes widened. “You mean to tell me that the sweep of the Tower produced nothing and yet still there are letters there?” She looked at Pycelle who had been tasked with sorting the Hand’s tower out in their absence.

“I…Your Majesty, I did not find anything when I was doing my patrol of the tower. Clearly, Jon Arryn knew places within the tower that were only known to the hand. Either that or the Spider knew about them and decided to keep the letters hidden until Stark could find them. You know how much he does not like the House Lannister.” Pycelle said.

Cersei considered this, the problem was that either explanation was true. Either Pycelle was getting incompetent during his old age, or there were ulterior motives at play here. She took a moment and then asked. “Arryn’s letters would have contained what? What did that old man know?” That had been the thing that she had never been able to place. What did that old goat actually know?

“Sire, I know he knew about Tobho Mott and the boy that resides there. I know he knew or rather suspected that his own son was not his, but other than that I do not think he knew much else.” Pycelle said as confidently as he could.

Jaime however did not seem to care about that. Instead he exclaimed. “Wait, Jon Arryn’s brat of a son might not have even been his?! Whose son would he have been?”

Cersei looked at her brother wondering why this was what he decided to focus on, but knowing he would not shut up until he had gotten some sort of answer she said. “Petyr Baelish.”

Jaime guffawed. “So, the man was actually right when he said he had porked the Hand’s wife.” A pause, then Jaime said. “Well if Stark continues to poke around we can simply put all we know onto Baelish. I do not think Stark would object to seeing Baelish’s head on a spike.”

“And where would that leave us?” Cersei asked. “Baelish is a rat, but he is a rat we can control.”

“And yet he continues to cause nothing but trouble. I say we do everything we can to have him removed, then we get father to send Uncle Kevan as a replacement and go from there.” Jaime said.

“Pycelle, what do you think?” Cersei asked.

“I think Ser Jaime is right, Your Majesty. It would be better to get rid of Baelish as quickly as possible to ensure that he cannot say anything that might at all endanger you or the Crown Prince.” Pycelle said. “Baelish is a rat, and we can produce evidence to suggest as much far more quickly than we can to produce evidence that Jon Arryn was wrong.”

Cersei thought on that for a moment and then said. “Very well, have it done.”

Pycelle made a note of that, and then said. “There is another thing that I thought you might wish to know, Your Majesty.” Cersei gestured for the old man to continue. “Daenerys Targaryen is with child.”

Cersei sighed, her plans had just gotten a lot more complicated. “That means my husband is going to want to have her murdered.”

“Indeed, though I have sent word to our friend across the sea to prepare him for that.” Pycelle said. “He knows what will need to be done.”

“Good, and what of the Spider, does he suspect anything?” Cersei asked. For she knew as long as her husband was alive what she wanted to arrange for her son was treason.

“Not that I am aware of Your Majesty, though I would not be surprised if he has not already informed our mutual source of the troubles coming their way.” Pycelle said.

“I do not understand why the girl is considered more of a threat than her brother.” Jaime said, a haunted look in his eyes. “The boy would raise an army, the girl is nothing more than a brood mare who no longer even bears the family name.”

“It is exactly that fact that makes her so dangerous. If she has a child then she becomes tainted and our own plans are nothing more than that. And if the child survives then it becomes a rallying point for any Targaryen loyalists still here.” Cersei said. “They might not fight for the mother, but for the son they most certainly would.”

Jaime snorted. “I am not so sure they would fight for a horse fucker’s get.”

“Let us pray we never have to find that out.” Cersei said pointedly.

Jaime nodded. “Indeed.” Though she suspected he did not appreciate her words.

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 15: The Bull

 

Gendry kept an eye on the helm he had been making for himself. Shaped like a bull to go with the strength Tobho said he had. And the hammer he wielded. He had always had an affinity for hammers from the moment he could remember. His mother had made him a toy one before she had died he’d remembered that. He didn’t remember much else of her though. Only that and the song she used to sing him. He blinked and kept that memory aside. He looked up and saw Tobho speaking to a man with a long face, and serious eyes. Eddard Stark, Hand of the King and the King’s greatest friend.

He could tell by the way Tobho held himself that the man expected to be making some serious money from the Hand. He couldn’t blame the man, times were getting hard, with preparations for the war being mounted. They needed every single sale they could get. Gendry was surprised when Tobho wandered over to him then and whispered. “The Hand wants to speak with you.” Gendry nodded and made to move forward but was stopped by a hand on his shoulder. Tobho stared at him then. “Tell him nothing about your mother unless he asks.” Gendry nodded and walked over to the man.

“Lord Stark, lord hand.” Gendry said bowing slightly.

“What’s your name, lad?” Lord Stark asked.

Gendry didn’t say anything for a moment, he suspected he knew where this conversation was going. Lord Arryn had had a very similar conversation to this. “Gendry, m’lord.”

“And how long have you worked at this blacksmith’s, Gendry?” Lord Stark asked him.

“Since I can remember, my lord. I started young.” Gendry said.

“And is Tobho your father?” Lord Stark asked.

Gendry shook his head. “No, my lord.”

“Do you know who your father is?” Lord Stark asked.

Yes. Gendry thought, at least he thought he knew, but aloud he merely said. “No my lord, I never met him.”

“And where is your mother?” Lord Stark asked.

Gendry felt some of that old fear come creeping in, the daggers in the dark. He pushed it to the side and replied. “My mother died when I was young my lord. Tobho took me in after that.”

“What do you remember of your mother?” Lord Stark enquired.

“She had darkish brown hair, sometimes it looked golden in the sun, and she had green eyes and a loving smile.” Gendry said. He held that closely to his heart. He had a painting of her in a locket, that he wore. But he showed no one that. Not even Tobho knew that.

“Very well.” Lord Stark said, seemingly impressed with that. There was a pause and then Stark asked. “Did my predecessor, Lord Arryn come here?”

Gendry didn’t look at Tobho, but he knew the man’s eyes were boring into his face. He considered the question and then before it got too rude he said. “Yes once. He asked about a sword.”

He could tell Lord Stark didn’t believe him because of the look on his face, but the man didn’t ask anymore questions, instead he asked. “And has anyone else visited?”

“No, my lord.” Gendry lied.

Stark nodded. Left him a golden dragon and then left. Gendry turned back to find Tobho nodding appreciatively. “Good lad” The man didn’t take the dragon off of him and instead walked passed him and out somewhere, leaving Gendry to man the shop. He remained where he was, looking at the dragon and wondering why people were coming to ask him about his mother and his father. It had all started with that man with hair black as night and blue eyes, like the King who looked as if he’d seen a ghost the moment he’d come to the forge.

Gendry had never gotten his name, for the man had not gotten it, and he’d not told Tobho about him. The old blacksmith got very strange when people came asking for him. Gendry pocketed the dragon and pushed aside the thought of lords and their odd questions. He moved to the helmet and began working out the kinks. Long Jon Angus had a melee coming up, he might join him and wear the helm, perhaps win some money and move out of the shit heap in Flea Bottom.

Tobho came back in then and said. “Someone gave me this, I want you to read it for me, lad.”

Gendry took the letter, and for once didn’t wonder why he had been taught to read. The letter had some formal bearing to it. No doubt from some lord. Gendry opened it and read aloud. “We ask for another seven moments and time to see the lad, before we make a decision.” That was it that was all the letter said.

Gendry looked at Tobho and saw him white as a sheet. “What?”

“Nothing. Nothing lad.” Tobho said, but he took the letter all the same and threw it into the fire. “Do not leave the shop today.” With that Tobho was gone.

“Where are you going?” Gendry called after the man, but it was too late, he was already gone. Gendry sighed. Perhaps this was something to do with who his father was.

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 16: Ser Jon

 

Jon took a moment to look at himself in the mirror. His beard was coming on well, his hair was growing longer, and he looked broader, almost as broad as Robb had been at their last meeting. Ghost was growing bigger as well, bigger than some of the biggest hounds in the royal stables. He smiled, rubbed his direwolf’s head and then turned and walked out of the room. He nodded to the guards, and then entered the Hand’s dining room, where his father and sisters were.

“Ah, the knight deigns to join us.” Father said though his eyes were bright.

“Sorry.” Jon said as he took a seat, Ghost coming to rest next to Lady and Nymeria.

Father smiled. He seemed a lot happier as of late, why that was, Jon did not know but he was happy to see it. He did not like it when father was sad or angry. “Now, how are things going for you all? I know I said we would make these a daily thing, but the King has kept me busy.”

Sansa spoke first. “The Crown Prince continues to show me more of the Red Keep, and my lessons are going well.”

Arya snorted, Jon saw that she had a slight bruise on her arm and guessed it was from the lessons that Father had gotten for her from that Braavosi. “The Crown Prince wants to kiss you Sansa, do not deny it.”

Sansa replied with indignation. “Arya!”

Father laughed. “But has he kissed you yet, sweetling?”

Sansa blushed red. “No. I have listened to Mother and Septa Mordane.”

Something passed through father’s eyes then, it seemed like it was a mixture of sadness and relief, but it was gone as quickly as it came. Father then turned to Jon and asked. “And what about you, Ser? How have things gone with you?”

Jon grinned. “Well enough, Prince Tommen spars with me regularly, as do some of his friends. The King has attended our sparring sessions once or twice also.” Those had been interesting, Prince Tommen had beaten him three of those times, seemingly finding some new strength.

“And how are you all finding King’s Landing?” Father asked.

“Good.” They replied in unison.

Father smiled, and then an attendant came and whispered something in his ear. “I am sorry children, but I must go.” With that he got up and left, leaving them all to eat their food together.

There was a moment silence, and then Sansa looked at Arya and hissed. “Why did you mention that Joffrey tried to kiss me?”

“I did no such thing!” Arya protested.

“Wait, did he try and kiss you?” Jon asked.

“It’s none of your business.” Sansa snapped back at him. She turned to Arya again and said. “You know what father thinks about this sort of thing.”

Arya didn’t seem happy about that. “You should apologise to Jon.”

Sansa pretended that she hadn’t heard Arya and instead said. “You know what, never mind. Forget this.” She got up and left.

Jon looked at Sansa and then back at Arya. “What’s wrong with her?” He asked his sister

“She’s just upset because I walked in on Joffrey trying to kiss her. She would have kissed him too had I not been there.” Arya replied.

Jon laughed. “What a brat.” He murmured, Arya laughed as well. Jon then picked up his sister’s arm and looked at it. “How is that dance master going?”

“Good!” Arya said happily. “He’s been teaching me some new moves. And has had me chasing cats as well.”

“Cats?” Jon asked. “Why Cats?”

“It teaches balance and patience.” Arya replied. “Cats are easily startled.”

Jon laughed. “Do you want me to teach you some moves as well?”

Arya smiled. “That would be amazing!”

Jon smiled. “Very well, first thing tomorrow. Now come, you need to get dressed for whatever thing you have this evening.”

Arya groaned. “It’s some stupid ball.”

Jon laughed. They finished their food, then Jon walked Arya back to her rooms, he bid her farewell then walked to the library in the Tower of the Hand. Whilst there he perused the shelves, finding a book written by Archmaester Glydayn he picked it up and began reading.

Some sixty years before the start of King Aegon’s reign, there was a general sense of unease. King Baelor reigned on the throne, and the realm was fraying. It seemed that the lords who had supported his brother wished for war with Dorne and they chafed at his peaceful nature. Prince Viserys, who also served as Hand had to do much to ensure the realm did not fragment, but all under his nephew’s nose, for King Baelor did not like politics. His sister…..

The writing stopped there and Jon flicked through the pages, but could find no other finishing sentence for that last line. He looked up when someone coughed. “There’s… there’s no more there.” The speaker was fat, almost as fat as a pig with the beginnings of a beard.

“Who are you?” Jon demanded.

The man blushed and stammered. “Sorry, I should’ve said who I was before. I’m Samwell Tarly.”

Jon extended a hand, the other man took it and shook it gingerly. “I’m Ser Jon Snow.” He needed to think of another name. “So, there’s no completion for this?” He said gesturing to the passage.

“No, I’ve looked everywhere. Seems it was never finished.” Samwell said.

“How odd.” Jon said. He put the book back and then looked at Tarly. “Your father? Is he Lord Randyll Tarly?”

Samwell nodded. “The one and the same.”

“Is he here?” Jon asked, he’d always wanted to meet the man who had defeated Robert Baratheon.

Tarly shook his head. “Though he said he would be coming.” Jon nodded.

Then asked. “Why are you in the Hand’s library?”

“Lord Stark said I could tend to it, alongside his maesters.” Samwell said.

Jon found that interesting. He had not thought father would want to associate with the Reachmen. Still he nodded. “Very well. Well what else would you recommend?”

“Caraxes, the Blood Wyrm, by Prince Daemon is a good read.” Samwell said. Jon followed him to the shelf and took out the book and began to read.

Chapter Text

Chapter 17: The Beggar Prince

 

Viserys knew what the Essosi called him. The Beggar Prince. He knew it was a name he deserved, going cap in hand from one town to the next. Asking for help to reclaim a throne that was rightfully his family’s. He’d been spurned from one to the next, even the Golden Company had rejected him. And for a time he’d thought he might have to sell himself into bondage, something that had made him almost kill himself. Only the thought of Dany had kept him going. He could not abandon her, she was his sister. And though being married to that savage had changed her, she was still his little sister and he loved her still. He would win her back and kill the savage if he had to. One day.

For a time he had wandered, and his loyal followers had come with him, Ser Richard Lonmouth, the Knight of Skulls, a fierce fighter and someone he had always trusted. Ser Gerold Dayne someone whose intelligence, Viserys relied on and finally Lady Morrigen, his mother’s most loyal companion. They had come with him from Vaes Dothrak, to the southern portions of Essos and now they were making their way to Volantis. He needed time to think and recuperate. But mostly he needed to make sure whether these rumours he had heard were true.

His thoughts were interrupted by Ser Richard entering their hut. “Sire.” The man said bowing. He had dark brown hair and green eyes, a piercing stare and was a fighter with a sword. He would make a good knight of the Kingsguard.

“What news do you have?” Viserys demanded.

Ser Richard said nothing for a moment and then. “Your sister, Princess Daenerys and her husband and his Khalasar have moved from Vaes Dothrak. It seems they are heading to Slaver’s Bay. Rumour has it they mean to get an army.”

Viserys raised an eyebrow. “What happened to convince the savage to finally commit?” that had been one of the things that had led to him leaving his sister, she seemed more than happy to dawdle with her husband and get fucked in front of his Khalasar, he should never have listened to Mopatis.

“Someone tried to kill the Princess and her babe.” Ser Richard said.

“The usurper.” Viserys said instantly. Ser Richard nodded. Viserys then said. “I wonder why he continued to send assassins after her, but never me.” He remembered all too well fighting off brutes and whores who had tried to kill Daenerys when they were children, even one time a nurse.

There was a silence then, and then Lady Morrigen said. “He thinks that the savage and your sister, the Princess would be a greater threat. Men would do anything for a beautiful lady, and less and little for a man.”

Viserys said nothing though it did make him bridle slightly. “It is always the way, men become fools for a beautiful face.” Ser Gerold added.

“And what of the other thing?” Viserys asked.

“Sire, there were sightings near Volantis but nothing concrete. I do not know if pursuing this would be wise.” Ser Richard said.

“I must know.” Viserys said simply. Ever since the rumour had reached him he had been desperate to know whether it was possible.

“Why, might I ask, Sire has this become consuming for you?” Ser Gerold asked.

Viserys looked at Dayne and said. “If the rumour is true, then that means there is more of my family alive, and I must know that. We cannot just be two. If the rumour is true, then I can do more to help my family than by just being myself. My sister has already abandoned the cause, she does not have all the eggs, but she does not care for the throne. If the rumour is true, then the cause still lives.”

“And what happens if the rumour proves false, or they reject you?” Gerold asked.

“Then that happens and I shall have to accept it. I have accepted a great deal during the course of my life. However, I must first know whether it is genuine or not before I take any action.” Viserys said, he turned to Ser Richard and asked. “Do you know how long they will remain in Volantis?”

“I think for some time, Sire.” Ser Richard replied. “It was by chance that I saw them.”

“Very well, then we must make our way to Volantis. Ser Richard, I want you to plan through everything. Ser Gerold make contact with your contacts.” Viserys said dismissing both men, leaving just him and Lady Morrigen. He did not look at her but knew she was looking at him and so he said. “Whatever it is you might as well say it now.”

“How will you know if the boy is who he claims to be? He was a babe when he died, how will you know him? Or her?” Lady Morrigen asked.

“My gut.” Viserys said, he knew that was not the right answer, but it was the one he felt was appropriate.

“And will you give the throne over to him, when your father named you his heir?” Lady Morrigen said.

“I will think of that when we come to it.” Viserys said.

“And why do you think they’ve been kept hidden for so long? If they were genuine they should have been revealed to you before now.” Lady Morrigen said.

“It was not safe. The usurper has eyes everywhere.” Viserys said.

“But so does the Spider.” Lady Morrigen pointed out.

“The Spider works for the usurper.” Viserys replied.

Lady Morrigen stood up and put a hand on his cheek. “I just want you to be safe and happy and whole.”

Viserys sighed. “I know.” He took a deep breath and then asked. “Do you think Daenerys will come home?”

He and his sister had parted on harsh words, but he still loved her and wanted her to be safe. “I think she will, in her own time.”

Viserys nodded. “I just hope she knows that I love her still.”

Lady Morrigen took his face in her hands and kissed his forehead. “I know she does.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 18: King and Hand

 

Robert took a breath. His stomach was causing him ever more problems, he knew that he might not have enough time to see his son become a man. Jon had already died, and Stannis was being Stannis. His only hope now was that Ned would guide his son away from the vultures of court. Away from the path that he himself had walked. His friend was sat opposite him, no doubt wondering why he had called him here. Robert took another breath and then said.

“Do you remember before the Rebellion, in the year of the False Spring, when we learned that Lord Whent had called for a great tourney. We were all so surprised because though the Whents were rich, they couldn’t afford what was being offered as rewards for the winners of the competitions. Do you remember the look on Jon’s face when we said that?”

Ned laughed. “I do, he looked as if we’d just said the world was made of cheese. Do you think he knew then?”

Robert nodded. “Knew? Ned I think he was part of it from the beginning. Why do you think he sent Elbert? It certainly wasn’t to keep an eye on us.”

“You, you mean. He knew I’d be there with Brandon and Benjen and Lya.” Ned said.

Robert sighed. Remembering better days. “Aye.” There was a pause and then Robert continued. He needed Ned to get the point. “You know, I think had Rhaegar not done as he did on the day he won the joust, things would’ve gone so much more differently.”

Ned’s face became an unreadable mask then. “How do you mean?”

“I mean that Rhaegar crowning Lyanna was a dishonour to Dorne. The moment he did that, the Princess of Dorne, or Prince Doran or whoever it was who ruled Dorne then, instantly suspected something.” Robert said. He paused, then taking a moment to consider his options and then decided on the truth. “Elbert fed into that.”

Ned raised an eyebrow. “What?”

“Jon had tasked Elbert with doing what he could to get the Dornish on side. He wanted Rhaegar to stage a rebellion against Aerys. And he wanted the Dornish to fully commit. However, when Rhaegar did what he did, Elbert decided to change things. He decided to whisper to Prince Oberyn that Rhaegar meant to set aside Elia and take Lyanna as his spouse.” Robert said.

“How do you know this? Did Elbert tell you?” Ned asked, something flashing in his eyes, was it recognition?

“Oh heavens no, Jon told me much later. He heard it from one of his men who survived Aerys’ purges.” Robert said.

“But why? Why would Elbert do that?” Ned asked.

“Because Elbert wanted to sow some discord, he wanted to test just how committed the Dornish were to Rhaegar, I do not know why, but there you have it.” Robert said.

Ned looked confused. “Why are you telling me this now? What does this have to do with anything?”

Robert sighed, sometimes Ned could be terribly slow. “I am telling you this because of what you said the day I ordered the assassination on Daenerys Targaryen.”

Ned swallowed. “Sire…”

Robert spoke before his friend could continue. “Had we arrived before the sack of King’s Landing, Aegon Targaryen would have been King and none of this would have been happening. I never had a problem with him or his sister, or his mother. Just Rhaegar and Aerys. But we did not get there in time. Daenerys Targaryen represents a great threat. Her womb is the greatest danger to my dynasty that there is.”

“Why? She is a girl, no one will rise for her.” Ned said.

“She is the future of the dynasty.” Robert said. “When he was in the throes of his madness, Aerys had his son neutered as if he were a dog. Pycelle told me this. Aerys was convinced that we would use Viserys against him and therefore did not wish for that to happen.”

Ned looked horrified. “How….why?”

“Aerys was mad, that is that needs to be said about that. Daenerys is therefore the only hope the Targaryens have of continuing and I cannot allow that. Much as it pains me to kill a child. It must happen.” Robert said.

“Could you not just capture her and send her to the Silent Sisters?” Ned asked.

Robert laughed. “She would never make it there. The moment the Targaryen loyalists learn that she is coming to Westeros, her ship would be hijacked and brought to some stronghold and there they would raise rebellion.”

“So, her death is the only answer you have?” Ned asked.

“I will not have my son marry her as my wife wishes.” Robert said. “No child of mine will ever marry the spawn of the mad King.” Robert said.

Ned did something Robert had long expected him to do, he took the badge of hand and placed it on the table. “Then I can no longer serve as your hand, my King.”

Robert looked at the badge and said. “I forbid you from leaving.”

Ned raised his eyebrows. “You cannot do that.”

“I am the King.” Robert said simply.

“And yet you allowed Stannis to flee to Dragonstone and refuse to answer any of the summons I have sent him.” Ned replied.

Robert picked up another piece of paper and threw it across the table to Ned. His friend picked it up and read it then said. “You are charging him with treason?”

“He refused a direct order from the Hand of the King, you speak with my voice. He ignored me. Therefore he is committing treason. Let him come here and answer for it.” Robert said.

“And if he does not?” Ned asked.

“Then I shall take him myself.” Robert said simply.

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 19: Laughing Storm

 

Renly took a sip of wine and then re-read the letter from that day’s council meeting. Loras came over and wrapped his arms around him. “What does it say?” Loras asked. Renly had ensured his squire had learned to read, but his lover did not always bother.

“Stark continues to try and undo the destruction my brother has done by ordering Daenerys Targaryen murdered alongside her yet to be born child. There are complaints coming in from Dorne and the Marches over the higher taxation rates, and Lord Stark insists that they must remain in place until the debt is cleared. And finally the three daughters grow closer to uniting.” Renly replied.

“So all in all not great?” Loras asked.

“Oh I wouldn’t say that. I think Lord Stark is learning that Targaryen is not good and should be offed. The taxes need to be kept as they are now and the debt must be paid, Dorne will not dare rebel now. As for the three daughters, that is the only serious concern.” Rely replied.

Loras kissed his cheek. “Then why do you look so tense?”

Renly took a deep breath. “Because with each day that passes Robert grows weaker and we grow closer to seeing Joffrey on the throne.”

“Why has the King stopped drinking?” Loras asked.

“He wants to be better, he’s actually started including Joffrey at council meetings though the boy takes more after his mother than Robert. He’s very much about harsh justice.” Renly said.

“Him and Stannis would get on then.” Loras quipped.

Renly snorted. “Joffrey is very much in favour of sailing to Dragonstone and coming back with my brother Stannis’s head. I’m beginning to think Robert is actually in favour of it as well.”

“Good, the sooner Stannis is gone the better.” Loras said.

Renly pulled away from Loras and said. “He might be a bitter cunt and a gnat, but he is still my brother, and a lord of the realm.” Loras looked slightly surprised, then Renly broke out into laughter. Loras laughed along as well, though Renly did not forget that. “Regardless, I think that we shall soon be going off to war.”

“Where?” Loras asked, clearly excited by the prospect of proving himself in war.

“The Stepstones. Robert has ordered Stark to draw up plans for a full scale invasion of the place. It seems the prospect of finally getting to fight and kill some foreigners has gotten my brother excited.” Renly said.

“How do you feel about the prospect of war?” Loras asked. Knowing full well what Renly thought.

“I think it will be good to get Robert out of King’s Landing for a time, alongside Joffrey. Perhaps some sort of accident can occur to Joffrey.” Renly said simply.

“Do you truly think Joffrey will be that bad?” Loras asked.

Renly raised an eyebrow. “He’s built like Maegor the Cruel, has some of the same beliefs as the man, and fights like him. He also fully agrees with his mother on somethings. What do you think?”

Loras conceded with a nod. “True enough. But would Tommen be better? He is still close to his mother and her side of the family.”

Renly looked at his lover, and wondered not for the first time what he saw in him. “Tommen has been my nephew from the time he was old enough to understand what such a thing meant. He listens to me, he is not as friendly with the Lannisters as Joffrey is. Furthermore, he has a brain.”

Loras conceded again and added. “I suppose him being friends with Stark’s bastard son doesn’t hurt either.”

“Indeed not. He also has some sort of friendship with Stark’s heir which will come good in time.” Renly added.

“If Joffrey dies, would Stark wish for his daughter to marry Tommen?” Loras asked.

“No, that is something that was entirely of Robert’s design. Stark wishes for his daughters to make good marriages but of their own choosing. And Tommen is half in love with Jeyne Westerling.” Renly said.

“My father will not be pleased with that.” Loras said. “He wants Margaery to be a Queen.”

“And he will have that with time. Jeyne Westerling is but a passing fancy of that you can be assured.” Renly said. He knew how to remove Jeyne Westerling, but he would not bring that up now. For he suspected the spider’s little mice were roaming around. Instead he changed the topic of conversation. “Has your grandmother done as was asked?”

“Yes, she sent word to the bear and ensured he kept things forewarned. Soon enough Tywin Lannister will have to make a move.” Loras replied.

“And what of the boy?” Renly asked, the boy was a threat to their plans.

“The boy will be dead before the year’s end.” Loras said.

“Good.” Renly replied. There was a knock at the door. “Enter.” Renly said, Loras moved to sit down at the other side. Ser Gawen Storm, a bastard cousin entered.

“My lord you are being summoned by the King.”

“Where to?”

“The council chamber.”

“Very well.” Renly said, he rose, and walked out, signalling to Loras to remain where he was. He walked through the hallways, noting how empty it was. then he entered the council chamber and found the entire council there. Baelish and Varys looked wide awake, whilst Stark looked half asleep, as did Pycelle. Robert was wide awake.

“Ah, Renly good, you are here.” Robert said. “Pycelle read the letter.”

Pycelle was old and failing, and a Lannister stooge, but he knew his job. “To King Robert Baratheon, we of the Three Daughters of Myr, Tyrosh and Lys do formally announce that we shall see any movement toward the Stepstones as an act of aggression.”

There was a pause then grinning, Robert said. “We have our war.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 20: Lady of Rivers

 

“The war will come and then we can be wed if that is your wish, my lady.” The Crown Prince said.

Sansa didn’t know what to say, she liked the Crown Prince-Joffrey he said to call him by his name- and she wanted to marry him but for some reason the thought of marriage right now made her uneasy. “Is it something you wish, Joffrey?” She asked in return knowing that the Crown Prince would give her an honest answer.

“Truthfully, I would like to wait some time. Before we rush into things. We’ve known each other for hardly a year, a betrothal can last as long as we both want.” The Crown Prince replied.

“Then that is my wish as well.” Sansa said truthfully.

The Crown Prince sighed, and Sansa was  confused by this. “Sansa, be truthful with me. I do not want you to feel as if you are duty bound to answer everything I say with what you think I want to hear. If we are to be a couple, I need to know if I can trust you to give me proper and honest advice.” The Crown Prince looked at her again and said. “Now, truthfully, do you wish to wait for a time before we marry?”

Sansa put aside her confusion, Septa Mordane had not told her how to handle this. She had always been told be obedient and dutiful. “I…” she hesitated and then saw that the Crown Prince was looking at her with a strange look in his eyes. She swallowed and then said. “I think that would be best, truthfully, I do wish to marry you, Joffrey, but not right now. I still feel as if we are somewhat strangers.”

Joffrey smiled and replied. “Good, then it is settled.”

They continued walking in an easy silence for a time and then Sansa asked. “How do you feel about going off to war?” She knew father would not be going, instead remaining to rule as Hand in the King’s stead, but both the King’s sons would be going as would the King’s brother, Lord Renly.

Joffrey had been practicing in the yard with many of his friends and the King’s squires as had Prince Tommen and even Jon had. Sansa had watched the Crown Prince fight, and had at times imagined his hands on her body doing things that she had read about in the books she and Jeyne had snuck in with them from Winterfell. She blushed at the thought and pushed it away. “I am both anticipating it and somewhat concerned.” The Crown Prince replied.

“Concerned?” Sansa asked surprised, but also somewhat honoured that the Crown Prince had chosen to share this with her.

“I think that the fight will be a good way to show that I am truly my father’s heir but at the same time, I am concerned about what this will do for my father. He has stopped drinking but he is also ailing.” Joffrey said.

 Sansa said nothing for a moment thinking over her own observations of the King. He had been a drunk at Winterfell that much was true, but then on the journey back something had changed, and he’d stopped drinking all together, eating less and exercising more. That had come with a steep decline in his health. “Do you think the fighting will exhaust him?” Sansa asked.

Joffrey said nothing for a moment and then replied. “I think that the King is not as young as he once was, and that his time to fight has stopped.”

Knowing that what she was about to say was bold, perhaps even brash she asked. “Have you told him that?”

The Crown Prince laughed. “I think if I told him that I’d end up on the ground bleeding. The King does not like being told he is too old for certain things. And I think that he has been preparing for this for most of the time since we left Winterfell.”

“So, what will you do?” Sansa asked. She suspected that Joffrey would pick up the slack and lead the armies of Westeros should his father not be able to, and the thought did fill her with some fear.

“I will keep an eye on the King and do my duty to the realm as Crown Prince.” Joffrey replied, he turned then and looked at her. “And then when I return we can continue our courtship.” He bent down and kissed her hands, she blushed and they continued walking.

Soon they stopped, and turned around, the Hound following behind as did a member of the Kingsguard. They made it back to the Red Keep proper, where the Crown Prince bid her goodbye. She then walked with her own escort, two knights from Winterfell, and arrived back at her rooms in the Tower of the Hand, where Jeyne was waiting for her. “How did it go?” Jeyne asked the moment Sansa had sat down.

“Good,” Sansa replied smiling. “We talked.”

“Did you tell him?” Jeyne asked.

“I did.” Sansa replied.

“What did he say?” Jeyne asked.

“He agreed.” Sansa said simply.

Jeyne squealed. “Sansa, you’ve got a Prince from the Songs!”

Sansa blushed. “How did it go for you?” Jeyne had begun a courtship with one of Joffrey’s attendants, his name escaped her now. But he was from the Westerlands.

“We kissed.” Jeyne admitted bashfully.

Sansa raised an eyebrow. “And how was it?”

Jeyne smiled and giggled a little. “Very nice, his breath smelled like mint.”

Sansa giggled and then they both moved to the bed and fell down onto it. “Ah, isn’t King’s Landing better than Winterfell.”

Jeyne sighed next to her. “Isn’t it just.”

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 21: Lady of The North

 

Catelyn looked at the men gathered before her. On her right was her son Robb, as Ned’s heir and the Stark in Winterfell it was essential that he attend these meetings and he had shown some good sense, much like his father. Then there was Maester Luwin, ever trusted. Ser Rodrik made up the final portion of things. Theon had once tried to come to the meetings and Robb had told him he could not come, as it was for the Starks and their advisors, until said otherwise Theon was still just a ward. The boy had not taken that well.

“Maester Luwin, how go the preparations for Bran’s new device?” Catelyn asked. The Imp had been surprisingly helpful sending a letter with all the instructions for some device that would help Bran move around a lot easier than being carried around by Hodor. She was beginning to think Petyr had lied about him.

“They progress well, my lady. They should be ready before the moon’s end.” Luwin replied.

“Good and the halls and floors have been adequately prepared as well?” Catelyn asked. She had deigned to look at the plans herself and she had known that they would need to protect the halls and floors for the tool might be unstable initially.

“They have, my lady, though Hullen voiced some concerns regarding the movement between the old and new castle.” Luwin said.

Catelyn raised an eyebrow at that, the old castle was a virtual ruin. “Why would he have concerns about that? Does he assume Bran will be venturing there?” Before his fall Bran had often ended up there on his climbs, but without that ability, she did not know whether he would want to venture there.

“He merely thought it wise to bring about some precaution, my lady.” Luwin replied.

“How much would it cost?” Catelyn asked.

“An extra two hundred dragons.” Luwin replied.

Catelyn thought about it, then brought up the accounts in her mind, they had enough to cover this. “Very well, see to it.” Luwin nodded, Catelyn then turned attention to the harvest. “Do we know when exactly winter will start?”

“My lady, the citadel has not yet had confirmation, though they do believe the autumn is approaching.” Luwin said.

“Very well,” Catelyn replied. “Send out the ravens telling the lords of the north to bring in the harvest if they have not already.” Luwin nodded and made a note of that. She then turned to Ser Rodrik and asked. “And what of the garrison, how strong are our defences?” With Ned having sent word of the King’s declaration of war she wanted to be prepared for anything.

Ser Rodrik was an old bear of a man, loyal to a fault, and an experienced fighter and commander. “My lady, we’ve stationed three hundred archers in Moat Cailin, the Cranogmen have been alerted, we’ve got patrols on the Stony Shore and Sea Dragon Point. We are guarded from threats from the south. But the north is where our concern should be.”

“The wildlings?” Robb asked, speaking for the first time.

“Yes, my lord.” Ser Rodrik replied. “Reports are coming from Last Hearth that more are coming over the wall every day. There was a party of fifty that Mors Umber crushed three days ago.”

“Fifty?” Robb exclaimed, Catelyn shared his surprise she’d never heard of such a great number getting that far.

“Was the Watch unable to handle them?” Catelyn asked.

At this Ser Rodrik sighed. “My lady, my lord, the Night’s Watch is undermanned, Lord Commander Mormont is having to handle their finances as well, which are also in a dire strait. I would not be surprised if the Wildlings come over in greater number.”

The thought terrified her. “What do you recommend?” She asked.

Ser Rodrik said nothing for a moment and then said. “I would arrange for patrols of the north, send men, no more than one hundred north to aid Lord Umber. Have them report back as often as they can. And then I would prepare for war.”

“You think the Wildlings will try to invade?” Robb asked.

“Yes, without a doubt.” Ser Rodrik replied.

“What  could be causing this?” Catelyn asked. “The wildlings were never united, and have not tried something like this since Raymun Redbeard.”

“I think it is due to the changing weather, my lady.” Luwin said. “Increasingly we are seeing colder weather, indeed the citadel’s last expedition beyond the wall reported seeing ice caps and giants moving further and further south. As those beasts move south, so too will the wildlings.”

“And if they come and are not stopped, we shall have a great issue.” Ser Rodrik said.

“We cannot let that happen.” Robb said. “They are far too different to us.”

“Indeed.” Catelyn said. “Keep an eye on that and choose the best one hundred men you think are suited to this.” She told Ser Rodrik the man nodded.

There was a moment of silence and then Catelyn brought up something that had been bothering her for some time. “I still do not know what happened the day Bran fell.” Bran had woken up by the time she had returned and though he was happy and smiling, he did not have the same energy as he did before the fall. “But I do know that Bran did not fall by accident, he was pushed.”

“But why? The knife and the hair found suggest he saw something he wasn’t supposed to. But who?” Robb asked.

“I do not know. My friend at court would have me believe it was Tyrion Lannister, but the imp would not try to kill Bran and then help him.” Catelyn replied.

“Unless he was trying to cover it up.” Robb replied.

“The imp was not at the tower; he was in the library though.” Luwin said. “I saw him there.”

“Then who could it be?” Robb asked.

Catelyn took a moment to think about this and then cautiously she said. “I think perhaps the Queen and her brother, the Kingslayer. Neither of them were at the hunt or the event I held that day. Both came at the same time, and looked quite dishevelled.”

Robb’s eyes widened. “But why would they push Bran?”

“Perhaps he saw or heard something?” Catelyn asked, thinking on something she had observed. “Who knows. But we must keep an eye.”

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 22: Meeting of Brothers

 

Robert watched as his brother entered the ship, they had stopped at Dragonstone, not to feast, but to see if his brother would join them. Stannis had brought the remainder of the royal fleet with him. That meant that with the Redwyne fleet they had more ships than the three daughters and more than enough to destroy any pirate or sellsails that they might hire. His brother looked gaunt and haunted.

“So you finally decided to answer a summons.” Robert boomed.

Stannis bowed. “Sire?”

“You answering a summons from the crown is quite unusual.” Robert japed.

“Sire?” Stannis asked again.

“Have you become stupid? Ned sent you four letters demanding your presence at King’s Landing and you did not respond, you did not even respond to the letter accusing you of treason.” Robert said.

Stannis’s eyes widened then. “Sire, I received no such letters. Had I, I would most certainly have come.”

For a moment Robert considered the prospect that Stannis was lying to him to save face, then he thought about it once more. Stannis never lied. It was one of the few good things about his brother, you always knew where you stood with Stannis. “So, you received no letter then?”

“The only letter I have received from King’s Landing since I left was the letter summoning me to arms.” Stannis replied, he then turned to gesture at the remainder of the fleet. “I have answered that summons.”

“So then someone clearly didn’t want you receiving any letter.” Robert mused aloud. Deciding he didn’t want to focus on that, instead he asked. “Why did you leave King’s Landing after Jon died?”

Here his brother clenched his teeth and then spoke. “I had some things I needed to attend to on Dragonstone.”

Robert looked at his brother, though they were only a year in difference, they had never gotten along. Robert knew he was to blame for that partially, he had always found his time at the Vale easier than being at Storm’s End where being heir had weighed heavily on him. And when father and mother had died, he had fled back to comfort at the Eyrie, never quite wanting to return. He knew Stannis resented him that. And Dragonstone instead of Storm’s End. He pushed that thought aside and instead asked. “How are Selyse and Shireen?”

Another reason his brother detested him no doubt, the deflowering of Delena Florent on his wedding bed. Robert had done much he was not proud of and that was one of those things. He wished he had been a better man then, after the war, but he had no one but himself to blame. He was trying to make amends for that now, he only hoped it wasn’t too late. Stannis spoke. “They are well enough, thank you, Sire, Selyse has recovered from her illness.”

Robert nodded and then said. “Well come then, we can not dawdle for too long, I have called a meeting of my commanders.” With that he stomped off back into the cabin, where Renly, Ser Barristan, Lord Velaryon, Lord Rykker and half a dozen other lords who had answered the call. They all rose and bowed before sitting down. “Now that my brother is here, let us begin.” Robert said without preamble.

Renly spoke, looking surprisingly serious. “The Redwynes will be joining us in three to four weeks depending on when we arrive at the Stepstones. Early scouting reports that the Tyroshi have already sent a fleet out to take the Stepstones and that they are preparing to send more ships.”

“What of the others?” Robert demanded.

“They are preparing their fleets and hiring sellsails.” Renly said.

“That will take them time, we are better served striking now, destroying Tyroshi capability and then holding the Stepstones.” Stannis said instantly.

Lord Velaryon-a prickly and proud man with a claim to the throne himself- nodded in assent. “Lord Stannis is right. We move now we take the Stepstones and we destroy Tyrosh’s fleet we win this war before it has begun.”

“And if they get there before us?” Lord Rykker asked. “Do not forget they have a shorter distance to get to than us.”

“They will not be able to hold.” Stannis replied. “Braavos does not want them holding the Stepstones.”

“That does not mean they will want us holding them.” Lord Rykker replied.

Renly spoke then. “Actually, Braavos are going through their own issues right now. They are indifferent to the Stepstones.” Robert knew that o be a lie but he did not gainsay his brother.

Eventually all eyes turned to him. “Sire, what do you wish for us to do?”

Robert thought about this for a time, he knew sense dictated that they take the Stepstones, but he couldn’t help but remember that Tyrosh had sheltered Daenerys Targaryen and her brother for a time. And they were always upjumped cunts anyway. “Stannis will command half the fleet and take the Stepstones. I shall command the other half, and we shall destroy Tyrosh.”

There was a brief pause before the lords bowed and sensing that their time with him was over they left. Only Stannis remained. “Are you sure that is wise?” His brother asked with characteristic bluntness.

“It is the only viable solution.” He replied. “Destroy Tyrosh, and leave the three daughters broken.”

“And what happens if Braavos gets involved then?” Stannis demanded.

Robert smirked. “They won’t. They need us more than they need Tyrosh.”

Stannis said nothing then, but rose bowed and left. Robert remained where he was and took a deep breath. He looked at the wine before him and refused it. A constant test, to determine whether he was strong enough. He looked at the hammer on the other side of the cabin. “Soon we shall see whether or not I am good enough to fight with you.” He said to the hammer that had been his uncle’s long ago. He hoped he was.

Chapter Text

Chapter 23: Imp

 

Tyrion kept his face neutral, trying desperately not to show his disgust at the state in which he found Pycelle. The Grand Maester was almost butt naked, apart from the shawl he had draped around his body. A whore or two were in his bed. The Grand Maester looked at him expectantly. Tyrion cleared his throat and then said. “I’ve come to speak to you about a matter concerning House Lannister.” At once Pycelle straightened, dismissed the whores and put on some proper clothes.

“My lord?” Pycelle asked. “How might I be of service?”

He couldn’t quite resist making a quip and so he said. “How long have you been shagging whores from Baelish’s brothels?” Where else would the whores have come from, Baelish owned most of the brothels in the city.

“I…” Pycelle said before realising Tyrion was pulling his leg. He laughed and then asked. “What is it you wished to speak about?”

Tyrion thought for a moment about asking if his father had mentioned the succession, but dismissed that. Tywin Lannister might be an old man, but he was healthy and any such questions would do nothing but raise eyebrows. Instead he said. “I am sure you have heard the rumours. Baelish met with Catelyn Stark and her husband when she was here, and it seems he was telling them that the dagger he bartered belonged to me. No doubt he is trying to start something, my question to you is why?” Tyrion said not where he had heard this rumour, one of his own whores had told him it, no doubt because she was in love with him. he pushed the thought down.

Pycelle said nothing for a moment and then replied. “He has long harboured feelings for Catelyn Stark. He has often boasted that he took both Tully girls maidenheads, though never anywhere where the King or Lord Arryn could hear. Indeed, I have often thought that Robert Arryn is not Lord Arryn’s son but in fact is Baelish’s. It would not surprise me if Baelish were hoping to start trouble between Stark and Lannister. Lord Eddard might not be his brother, but he is still prickly and honourable. A confrontation between Lannister and Stark over you, would put the King in a tricky position.”

“So he wants a war in the hopes that the winner would give him Catelyn Stark?” Tyrion asked. The thought made him want to laugh, instead he simply said. “He is insane.”

“Indeed he is, my lord, and yet he controls some of the most powerful financial establishments in the realm. And all of the financial assistants to the crown are his.” Pycelle said.

Tyrion thought on that and then asked. “And yet you, who have been my father’s lickspittle for thirty years have never seen fit to try and tell my sister, the Queen this? Why?”

Pycelle squirmed. “I have tried, my lord, but Her Majesty has been more concerned about her husband and their children. She does not care much for finances.”

Tyrion sighed at that, of course Cersei didn’t care. She’d never had to work for anything in her life. “Well, I am going to be in King’s Landing for the foreseeable future, so we are going to work together, you and I.”

“My lord?” Pycelle asked sounding surprised.

“Yes, together we shall work to undermine Baelish, remove his stranglehold over the finances of the crown and their officers. We shall install men loyal to the House Lannister, I have the finance and you know the people on the pay roll, either they will be bought or they will die.” Tyrion said simply.

“Do you not think that the Lord Hand should be made aware of this?” Pycelle asked.

“No, he has enough on his mind.” Tyrion said, though the real reason was that he didn’t trust Ned Stark. With that he rose and walked out of the room. He spent a few moments staring at a painting. It showed someone who Tyrion imagined was supposed to be the King fighting a dragon, it was quite funny. “If that were real, the King would be dead.” Tyrion murmured to himself before he walked on.

The hallways were busy, filled with people coming and going from the throne room and elsewhere. Tyrion wondered what the members of court made of there being a northerner ruling as Hand. Usually prejudices went both ways, he knew that was one of the reasons for why Cregan Stark had resigned after the Hour of the Wolf. His musings were interrupted by a whisper at his side. He turned and found a girl walking at his side. He nearly jumped out of his skin, but then saw that another figure was standing there. A figure in a hood and a cloth. “Varys?” He whispered.

“Follow me.” The eunuch said his voice deeper than usual.

Tyrion followed the eunuch down the hallway, a darkened hallway at that, for a moment he wondered what the hell he was doing, he could die at any moment. But soon they were passed the dark and into the light, a room with a bed and little else. “What?” Tyrion demanded immediately.

“You cannot trust Pycelle.” The eunuch said.

“Why?” Tyrion demanded.

“He works for your father not for the crown.” Varys said. “But you already knew that.” There was a pause then the eunuch said simply. “He wants the crown weakened, under your father’s instructions. When the time is right he will strike.”

“What do you mean?” Tyrion demanded.

The eunuch handed him something then. “Read it.” he said.

Tyrion opened it and read:

Darkness comes for the lions and stags, on the back of a dragon, and a bull, with the false dawn, the wolf will howl and the falcon shall soar. The mockingbird and spider shall fight before the realm burns.

Tyrion finished reading and asked. “What does this mean?” But the eunuch was gone.

Chapter Text

Chapter 24: Wolf and Lion

 

Ned read the letter again, writ as it was in the hand of the King.

Stannis has taken the Stepstones, I continue to lay siege to Tyrosh. We shall have it before year’s end.

Why the King had seen fit to divide the naval fleet and send one portion off to Stepstones and another to Tyrosh he did not know. That Stannis had answered the summons to war was another surprise, clearly the threat of treason had been enough to spur him into action. He would need to talk to Robert about that when the King returned.

There was a knock on the door and he folded the paper away. “Enter.” He said.

Jory opened the door and announced. “Master Tyrion Lannister, my lord.”

Ned stood and greeted the dwarf with a nod. “Lord Tyrion, please, be seated.”

The imp took the offered seat, Ned tried to avoid seeing how his legs dangled off the chair. “Would you like some wine?” Ned asked.

“Please.” The Imp replied.

Ned poured a glass for the imp, but none for himself. “So, what did you wish to speak about?” Ned asked. When he’d heard the Imp wanted to speak with him, he’d been most curious and alarmed. He remembered Baelish’s warnings.

Tyrion Lannister said nothing, simply drank his wine and then held the cup. Eventually he asked. “How much do you know about Petyr Baelish, my lord hand?”

Ned felt something tighten in his chest. “I know enough, why?”

“How much is enough?” Tyrion replied.

“I know he once loved my wife, and challenged my brother for her hand. I know he lost, and I know he then became a master of coin through hard work at Gulltown.” Ned said cautiously.

Tyrion Lannister sighed then. “My lord, do you think that Petyr Baelish still loves your wife?”

Ned hesitated for a moment unsure of what to say. Eventually he replied. “I do not know. Why?”

“You have not heard any rumours or anything untoward?” Tyrion asked.

“No.” Ned said simply, though his mind was whirring with activity.

“My lord hand, Petyr Baelish has spent the entirety of his time as Master of Coin boasting of how he took both Lady Arryn and your own lady wife’s maidenheads.” Tyrion Lannister said. “He says it when sober and drunk.”

Ned’s fist clenched and he felt the anger soar. “He is lying.” He knew Cat had been a virgin when they had married, he’d known instantly. His own experience was the same.

Tyrion Lannister held up a hand. “I only thought that you should know what the man has been saying.”

“Why are you telling me this?” Ned demanded.

Something shifted in Lannister’s face then, what it was, Ned did not know, but he did not like it. “I have heard rumours, my lord hand. Rumours that your lady wife came to King’s Landing and that the two of you met with Baelish to discuss something of great importance. Something relating to the attempted attack on your son, Brandon. And that Baelish tried to link me to that attack.” Ned considered lying but before he could, the imp spoke. “Please do not lie to me, Lord Hand. I am trying to help.”

Ned hesitated for a moment and then said. “Yes. He claimed the dagger used on Bran was one you had won from him in a wager.”

“Let me guess, he said that I wagered against my brother during the Tourney at Joffrey’s Nameday.” The imp said.

“How…what makes you say that?” Ned asked surprised.

“Because if I was trying to convince you to trust me, I would say something similar. Given how well known your dislike of my family is.” The imp said. “However, I never bet against Jaime.” The imp looked very sincere, and Ned nearly fully believed him but then he remembered that this was a Lannister he was speaking to.

“Why should I believe you now?” He asked cautiously.

“Because I do not want war between our two families. I want to work with you, to bring about a golden age in Westerosi history. And finally, because Baelish wants your wife.” Tyrion Lannister said.

Ned thought for a moment and then asked. “Let us say I believe you, what do you want? A Lannister always wants something.”

Tyrion Lannister said nothing for a moment , his face became a mask, and then he replied. “I simply wish to bring down Petyr Baelish.”

“And do you wish to take his place?” Ned asked.

“No, heavens no. I do not want on the small council.” Tyrion Lannister replied, Ned did not believe him, but he went along with it.

“Very well.” Ned said extending his arm. “Where should we start?”

The imp did nothing for a moment and then replied. “I believe that we should start with looking into how he manages his finances, and why the crown has gone from being so flush with cash to being in debt so heavily.”

“We should speak with the counters.” Ned said instantly.

“No, that would be a terrible idea. The counters are all his men. No, we must needs speak with his workers. Then we shall know.” The imp said.

“You want us to go to brothels and ask questions?” Ned asked horrified.

“Yes, a whore will always tell the truth, for the right price.” The imp said.

“Well then you may go there.” Ned said. “I will keep to honourable work.”

The imp laughed. “As you wish, my lord hand. Now if you might forgive me, I have other things to attend to.” The imp rose, bowed, straightened and then left.

Ned watched the imp leave, then sighed. Putting a hand to his forehead he whispered. “Why couldn’t you have let Brandon kill the boy, Cat, why?” He had a feeling things were going to get even more complicated before they got better, and that, that was going to be a serious problem.

Chapter Text

Chapter 25: Tyrosh

 

Jon fought back against the urge to throw up. He really did not like being near the sea. He’d been sick some four times on the journey over, each time the King had roared with laughter and said that was exactly what Father had done whenever they’d travelled by ship. The thought had made him feel only slightly better. Ghost had done the rest, the direwolf had remained quiet throughout the journey. And now remained so. Though his teeth were bared. Perhaps he knew what they were about to do.

The walls broke, and a roar went up. They had been laying siege to Tyrosh for a moon now, destroying their fleet and preventing stores coming in. King Robert had decided he’d had enough of waiting around and decided he wanted to get involved right away. And so early in the morning things had been set up and off they had gone. Jon held his sword in his hand, and said a quick prayer. Ser Mandon Moore of the Kingsguard was commanding this side of the army. Jon looked as the man raised his sword and then went through the breach.

Jon followed. Ghost at his side. They found a boy no older than him, they fought briefly, but the boy was a stick not a real man. Jon cut him down and watched his eyes go blank. He ignored the sinking feeling in his stomach and pushed on. Another figure came, this one was a man. They duelled for a time, pushing this way and that. The smell of burning reached Jon then and he had to fight back the sickness that threatened to come up. The man disappeared when Ghost ripped his throat out. Jon moved on, Ghost following his mouth covered in blood.

Another boy, this time younger than him appeared. The boy stood with his stick and swung. Jon blocked, and then headbutted the boy and moved on. He would not kill a child. All around him was chaos. It seemed as though the world was going mad. There were men fighting men, and women and children. Ser Mandon Moore led the charge, leading them to the Archon’s palace. The King was somewhere in the fray, no doubt loving every moment of this. Jon did not know how he felt. He had just seen a woman pushed down and her skirts lifted.

Jon blinked trying desperately get that image out of his head. Ghost was at his side, the enemy was being pushed back. The palace was somewhere in the distance. He could feel the bile growing inside him. He wanted to hurl, but he pushed it down. He could not show weakness now. He heard a bellow, turned and there was the King. Five men were fighting him, and he killed every single one of them with his hammer. Jon watched and saw the fight and marvelled. This was the King his father must have followed into the seven hells and back.

This was the King that Jon would follow. Jon turned back and fought his own way through. He heard someone shout something. “The palace, there it is!” He looked up and saw the palace, glittering like a diamond. Jon roared, the men roared and they pushed through. The streets were packed with men and boys fighting the Westerosi army. Jon killed the men he could, the children he left injured. He tried not to think too much, just tried to let his body take over. If he thought too much he would not survive that needed to be done.

They moved through the city, slowly but surely, they moved. Jon was covered in dirt, grime and blood. Whether the blood was his own or someone else’s he did not know. He was not sure if there would be a difference now. They moved and fought and those who were in their way died. Jon saw a little boy get crushed by armour and men, and he blinked and held back tears. They came to the road up to the palace. There was no one there. The guards had gone. Jon ran up there, he did not know why, but he ran.

He got there before anyone else, pushed open the doors, and walked in. A few guards were there but they threw down their weapons. He walked on. “Where is the Archon?” He demanded in a voice he did not recognise. One of the men pointed to another door. Jon nodded his thanks and walked on. Ghost at his heels. He pushed open the door and found the Archon stood there.

“So, you have come have you?” the Archon asked.

“Bend.” Jon commanded.

The Archon did as bid. “You know this is what they wanted. The dragons and their supporters.”

“Silence.” Jon demanded.

“They wanted your King here. He will not live to return home.” The Archon said.

“I told you to be quiet.” Jon said.

At that moment the King appeared, decked in his armour, his hammer in his hand. The King looked at him and then the Archon and smiled approvingly.

“The Archon of Tyrosh for you, Sire.” Jon said, bowing.

Chapter Text

Chapter 26: Stepstones

 

They had taken the Stepstones relatively easily. The fleet that had been guarding it for the Three Daughters had been nothing when compared to the might of the Royal Fleet even when it was halved and the Redwyne Fleet at full strength. The commander of the Three Daughters’ fleet had been slain during the fight. Tommen could still remember the noise and the chaos of that battle. The smell of sulphur permeating his every waking moment since then. On occasion he would wake up in a cold sweat, not sure whether he was still alive or not. And then he would calm down.

Now though, things were getting interesting. The main body had been sent from Lys and Myr to retake the Stepstones. They’d spotted them some days ago. Uncle Stannis had barely said two words to him throughout the entire time they had been here. But now he was barking out orders. He’d given Tommen command of the southern command, to ensure the Stepstones did not fall from the rear. Davos Seaworth, the onion knight was his advisors, as was Lord Redwyne’s second son.  Tommen put the eye scope to his eye. “They are coming in even greater number than before.” He murmured.

“No doubt the fleet we fought was a trap, Your Royal Highness. Meant to lure us into complacency.” Ser Davos said.

“The ships of the Royal Fleet are stationed at anchor.” Tommen said. “Why is the Redwyne fleet not engaging?”

“Your Royal Highness, my father has been instructed to defend the northern command.” Redwyne replied.

Tommen grunted in response, the ships were getting a lot closer now. “Man the scorpions and the ballistae.” He commanded. They would take the ships out through sheer force if they had to. His orders were passed down through the chain and the soldiers did as bid. He waited and then when the ships got into the right line he barked. “Fire!” And so the weapons were launched. They came with a fierceness that he had not quite expected.

He removed the eye scope, he would not need it to see what was about to happen. The projectiles hit the first ships and they sank without much effort. The remaining ships were more difficult. They fought back, launching their own weapons, which fell short by quite the distance. “Launch again.” Tommen commanded. And so they did, this went on for some time, back and forth. More ships of the enemy fell to their ultimate downfall. He watched as ships sank and men cried out in pain. He kept quiet throughout, merely watching proceedings. When the ships were sinking away he turned to Ser Davos and said. “There will be more, won’t there?”

Before Ser Davos could reply a shout came. A messenger stopped before him, looking harried. “Your Royal Highness, more!” the messenger said.

Tommen pressed the eye scope to his eye and cursed. “Turn the weapons.” He barked. “They’re coming from the east.”

With quick precision that would’ve made Stannis proud the weapons were turned and were soon firing off bolts and projectiles at the enemy ships. They didn’t get as many as they had before, but that had been expected. Slowly but surely, Tommen knew that they would have to fight this battle. He barked an order and got his mace at the ready. A moment passed, then another, and then the first ships landed. “Prepare to attack!” He barked.

Another moment and then the men were pouring out of the ship. Another ship landed somewhere. Tommen pushed that thought from his mind, and moved to greet them. His mace did the talking for him. It clubbed down one man, black as night, and then another man and another. On it went, the enemy didn’t stop and he wasn’t going to give them any reason to think him weak. He kept pushing. He took a few blows, felt blood come from somewhere deep within. Still he did not stop. His mind kept going.

The enemy were good, he knew that, but they weren’t better than him. They were rich boys and sellswords, who fought and then drank. He was a knight who’d been training for something like this his entire life. His mace did the talking and he let his mind just focus on that. The smell of the sea, and the smell of all this death washed over him and he ignored it. There were boys there as well, sent to the slaughter for something that he didn’t understand and he was not sure they understood it either.

Eventually, the fighting died down. Tommen was covered in dirt and grime and he was sweating, by gods was he sweating. He took a moment and then pushed on. There were no more foes to fight. “Why are they not fighting?” He roared.

“They’ve surrendered, Your Royal Highness.” That was Ser Davos at his side, bloodied and drenched in sweat.

“Why?” Tommen demanded.

“It seems that the King has taken the Archon of Tyrosh.” Ser Davos replied.

Tommen thought for a moment and then said. “Send a rider to my uncle, I want confirmation.”

“Yes Your Royal Highness.” Ser Davos, the words were passed down, and a rider was dispatched. A few moments later, the rider appeared with his uncle.

Stannis bowed his head and then said. “We have the Stepstones, and Tyrosh.”

Tommen nodded. “Now what?”

“Now, we wait.” Stannis replied simply.

Chapter Text

Chapter 27: A Kingly Discourse

 

Robert knew he was ailing. The wounds he had taken during the fight were pressing against him. The treatment of the maesters would only hold off the inevitable for so long. He pushed that to the back of his mind and looked at the man before him. The Archon of Tyrosh, dyed blue hair, violet eyes and a Targaryen mouth. Robert wondered if the man was some Targaryen get, from years gone by, or if he were the result of Queen Shaera’s wanderings. He’d heard those rumours once many years ago. He pushed them to the side now. He looked at the man and then at his own son. Joffrey had done well during the fighting, his build and his hammer proving him an excellent fighter and commander. Robert was proud of his son.

It was the Archon who spoke first and broke the silence. “What will you do with me?”

Robert laughed. “First, you must tell me, why did you decide to join with Myr and Lys? I know that they are not your natural allies, and that consequently, there must have been a lot of infighting going on. You remained Archon, and yet Myr and Lys pushed you to declare war first. Why?”

The Archon sighed. “Tyrosh is declining in stature and power. We needed some way to get things done and sorted. I did not know where else to turn to. Furthermore, they said they knew a way to get revenge.”

“Revenge? For what?” Robert asked.

The Archon laughed. “You do not remember? Of course, why would you remember? It was so long ago, and he was only one of many.” The Archon took a breath and then said. “During the war you fought to remove Aerys Targaryen from the throne, you fought my brother at the Trident. He was young and foolish, wanted to prove himself, and he was killed at your hand. I wanted revenge.”

Robert sighed. “He died fighting in war. What else did you think would happen?”

The Archon shrugged. “He was my brother, I wanted revenge.” There was a pause and then the Archon continued. “You know you played right into the hands of the people who want you gone.”

Robert raised an eyebrow and asked. “What do you mean?”

The Archon laughed. “The people you hate the most, they were conspiring all this time to get you to come here. Right from the moment you stopped drinking and started training.” Robert raised an eyebrow and the Archon laughed again. “You are a famous man, my King, when you drink or not drink it is known throughout the known world. When you stopped drinking, well everyone who has stock in wine and ale knew it.” Robert laughed.

“And you think the Targaryens wanted me to stop?” Robert asked. “Viserys Targaryen is not powerful enough to do that.” The boy was just that a boy, who was by all accounts mad.

“Not him but his supporters. Those who want him restored to the throne.” The Archon said.

“So, some pisspot merchant and his family?” Robert replied.

The Archon shook his head. “There are those in Westeros who want him restored, but they are not the ones I speak of. I speak of those who the Targaryens counted as friends here. The Pentoshi, and others.”

Robert looked at the man and asked. “So, you joined this alliance, or rather you think that this alliance came about because some fools in Pentos wanted me to come here and fight. They wanted me to die?”

“Yes.” The Archon replied. “It is essential to their plans that you die.” The Archon looked at Joffrey then. “They want your son on the throne to test an inexperienced King and restore their claimant to the throne.”

Robert raised an eyebrow. “How do you know this?”

The Archon laughed. “Do you not know who I am?” Robert’s eyebrow remained raised. “Yes, I am an Archon, but before that, long before that, we were family, you and I.”

“I would remember if we were.” Robert said.

“We met once or twice when we were both children, before your parents died. It was my sister who your father came looking for.” The Archon said.

Robert gasped then. “No, you can’t be?! He died.”

“I only made it seem as if I had died.” The Archon said. “I had someone hunting me, and he is now hunting you.”

Joffrey spoke then. “Father, who is this?”

The Archon smiled sadly. “My name is Maegor, I am a cousin to you both. My father was named Maegor, and before him his father was named Aerion Brightflame.”

Robert closed his eyes briefly then, memories and pain coming over him. “I planned on having you executed and then installing one of my own lords as Archon, but I cannot do that now.”

The revelation that this man before him is the cousin he had once played with in Storm’s End, that the mad King had not killed him as he had long feared, was a relief, but also a great burden. He had so many questions, but in that moment he could not be a boy, he had to be a King. He looked at the Archon and said. “You shall recognise me as your overlord, as your liege, and look to me before making any such decisions as pertaining to your policy and trade. Do you understand?”

The Archon, no, Maegor, inclined his head. “I will, Your Majesty.” The Archon asked. “Do you wish for me to do it here and now?”

“No.” Robert replied, shaking his head “It must be done in public.”  He took a deep breath and then said. “For now, you may rest.” He waved a hand, the Archon rose, bowed and then walked out, accompanied by three guards. He took a moment to think and then asked his son. “What did you think of what he said, then, lad?”

His son said nothing for a time and then replied. “I think, that generally, there might be some merit in what he says, but I am not sure whether we can trust what he says. He says he is a cousin, perhaps he is using that to keep you off balance.”

Robert nodded. “You are right, lad. Of course, if he is right then we have the upper hand.” He waved a hand and his son rose, bowed and left. Robert then unbuttoned his shirt, and saw the blood spreading from the wound. His time was almost upon him.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 28: Lannister Twins

 

Cersei took a moment to think, she re-read the letter and smiled. Then she saw that Jaime was looking at her and so she pushed the smile away, he didn’t like it when she smiled. He was a jealous sort, her brother. She understood, she felt the same way about him, as she did about Robert also. She looked at him and then said. “They’ve got the Archon’s submission, they are coming home.”

“And the King?” Jaime asked softly, trying to disguise his loathing.

“The King is well. Though he writes he was injured.” Cersei said, frowning slightly at the delight she saw in her brother’s eyes.

“And Joffrey?” Jaime asked.

“Made his father proud. He fought bravely and with honour.” Cersei said, bristling slightly that Jaime hadn’t asked about Tommen.

“Good.” Jaime said. “So, what will you do once Robert returns?”

Cersei frowned at the question, sometimes she forgot that her brother’s innocence had died with the Sack of King’s Landing. “We shall move forward as we planned. There can be no stopping the plan now. Robert must have his due, and then we must move forward.”

“And you think Joffrey will let you rule as regent in his name?” Jaime asked, a wry grin on his face.

“No, I do not think so. But I think I can work with Eddard Stark for a time.” Cersei said.

“You think Joffrey will even let there be a will?” Jaime asked. “Robert will listen to him if he speaks.”

“Which is why I will speak with Joffrey when he returns. Let him know that he might be fourteen, but he still needs a regent for two years. We do not want another Daeron the Young Dragon. He will understand that.” Cersei said with a confidence she did not feel.

Jaime laughed. “You really do think he’s still a child, don’t you?” Cersei went to protest, but her brother spoke first. “He beat Gregor Clegane in a melee, he’s knighted and been bloodied in battle. He is not a little boy anymore, Cersei, he’s a man. And he will want to act as such. Hells I even heard he spoke with Sansa Stark about their marriage.”

“He did what?” Cersei exclaimed.

“He spoke with the girl; they’re going ahead with their marriage soon.” Jaime said. “That’s what our little birds said.”

“That girl is not good enough for Joffrey.” Cersei said.

“And you think Daenerys Targaryen is?” Jaime replied. “If she’s anything like her father, she will be dead before the year is out.”

Cersei said nothing, she knew her brother, and knew he rarely liked speaking of the Mad King, so for him to mention him now, something must have truly triggered a nerve. She thought for a moment and then asked. “Who would you have him marry then, if not Daenerys?”

“I would suggest Margaery Tyrell. It would bring the Tyrells directly under our purview, and would then ensure that Mace gets what he want. The girl herself would be won over by Joffrey being well, Joffrey.” Jaime replied, and then he added. “Stark could go to Tommen.”

Cersei did not know what to make of that. She disliked the Tyrell girl, she found her grasping and with ideas above her station. Still if the Targaryens did invade, it would be good to have the Tyrells onside. She filed that away for later, and then spoke on another matter. “Do you know why our brother went to meet with Pycelle?”

“Yes, to talk about Petyr Baelish. Baelish has been spreading rumours about him apparently. Something to do with a dagger and how it was used to try to kill the Stark boy.” Jaime said casually.

Cersei’s heart nearly stopped. “What?!”

“Rest easy, Tyrion knows nothing about our role in the boy’s fall.” Jaime said.

“But why is Baelish trying to frame Tyrion?” Cersei demanded, she did not like the imp, but he was kin.

“It’s Baelish, he probably wants to fuck Catelyn Stark, and thinks the best way to do that is to get Stark and Lannister fighting.” Jaime said. “Luckily, Tyrion had the sense to speak with Stark.”

“So, they are working together?” Cersei asked, unsure if she should be relieved or worried.

“Something of the sort.” Jaime said. “Truth be told, I don’t see why we don’t just have Baelish arrested now and executed. It would save us all a problem.”

Cersei shook her head. “We can’t. We have no concrete proof of anything, other than rumours. We cannot arrest someone based on a rumour.”

Jaime raised an eyebrow. “Robert has just take Tyrosh and her trade and the Stepstones, he could do whatever he wanted to at this point.”

“I do not think he would want to. Baelish amuses him.” Cersei said.

Jaime snorted. “Then what do we do?”

“We wait, and we watch, and when we catch him in a lie, we pounce.” Cersei said.

Jaime grinned at her, and she felt herself flush. “I do love it when you plot.” He leaned forward and kissed her then, and for once she did not fight him off.

Chapter Text

Chapter 29: Long Dead Secrets

 

Ned rubbed his eyes, the hour was late, but he had a lot to read through. He’d found another batch of letters that Jon Arryn had written, stashed away in a cupboard. And he had meant to read them before, but so much other stuff had happened. With the King soon to return from Tyrosh, Ned wanted to get ahead on this reading, in case there was some sort of stunning news he would need to give to the King. He took a breath, took a sip of wine, and then started with the first letter.

The Tourney of Harrenhal was where things really started to go wrong. Of course, one had thought that Lord Steffon should have found a bride for Rhaegar, and yet he did not. I believe that Varys had a hand in that. The eunuch has never been the most trustworthy of people. Despite his protestations of loyalty. Regardless, at Harrenhal, we were all to meet and discuss removing Aerys, for the King had become madder with the passing of the seasons. I was to attend, and then I learned that Aerys himself was to attend.

I decided against attending then. Aerys still remembered the role I had played in the minor uprising his cousin Maegor had attempted some years ago, during the reign of King Aegon. I call it an uprising, but it was more like a legal challenge. Of course the judiciary is controlled by the crown and therefore Maegor lost. He was exiled and I was barely kept alive, thanks to the role my father played in giving Aegon the throne. Aerys had not trusted me since then. Indeed, I was quite surprised that he had even consented to allowing Robert and Eddard to come and foster with me.

Regardless, when I learned he was to attend Harrenhal, I decided against going. I did not want my boys to put into danger because of something they knew nothing about. Elbert was to be my representative. But Elbert being Elbert he just had to flex his political muscle. What he said to the Dornish was not sensible. It risked inflaming war, and it made the possibilities of removing Aerys ever harder. Then Rhaegar had to do what he did. Taking Lyanna Stark was not smart, whether she wanted to leave or not, did not matter, he was older and wiser, he should have known better.

Ned exhaled deeply, had Jon suspected? He had worked so very hard to keep that from ever coming out. Perhaps he should have tried harder? He did not know. Though the thought that Jon had been a rebel in his youth made Ned laugh, it seemed almost insane. Then he remembered the events that had brought him to Jon Arryn and he pushed that thought down. There was more in the letter and so he kept reading.

When the war began, I did not know what to expect. Robert and Eddard were both grieving, though I suspect Robert grieved more for his friend than for fear of what might be. Eddard though was not thinking rightly. And I cannot blame him, to lose his father and older brother, to not know where his sister was, and to be Lord of the North when he had never expected to be, must have been a great burden. The war was fought and we won, but I do not know whether we made the right choice.

Robert was never meant to be King. Hells, sometimes I got the feeling he did not even want to be Lord of Storm’s End. But here we are, Robert sits the throne, he has three heirs from his wife. The Lannister woman did her duty, despite the looks she shares with her brother. And as such the succession is secure. At least that is what I thought until I learned about something terrible that Robert had done long before the rebellion, when still betrothed to Lyanna Stark.

Ned took a breath, what he’d just read didn’t seem that positive about Robert. That surprised Ned. For when they had been younger, Jon had been Robert’s greatest supporter. The one who would always find some way to get the best out of Robert. Ned sighed. Perhaps in his grief and his own anger and regret at the end of the rebellion he had missed a lot. Perhaps he should have been more involved. It was no good thinking of possibilities now, the past was the past. He went back to reading the letter, curious as to what this thing Robert had done.

Robert does not know I know, for I am sure that if he did he would break down and do something rash. Once, when he was a young man, after his father died, he, I do not know whether I should commit this to paper, but I know none shall find this document. Once when he was a young man, after his parents had died, Robert fell in love with a woman, a woman who I know well, for she is my own niece. She would not sleep with him unless he married her, and Robert, being a man with honour did as was demanded. And there was a product of this union.

When I learned of this, I did what I could to ensure Tywin Lannister did not know, or that anyone else knew. I paid the girl a good amount of money, and sent her on. The child, the child I brought with me and kept somewhere where no one would think to see him if they ever found out. I have kept the child under my watch since then. I hear that he has kept the Bull at his side ever since then. He is strong and he looks much like Robert did at that age. I hope that no one ever finds him, for then there will be war, and we cannot survive that.

I am old now, and I know that I will not live to see what comes of everything. I simply hope that I have done my best to prevent any more chaos. Westeros must have peace.

The letter ended there. Ned sat back and sighed, then it fully hit him and he swore. “Shit.” He took the paper, and kept it within a secret box he had found and locked the box. Then he muttered. “Robert you damned fool.”

A knock on the door made him panic. “Enter.” He said.

Jory entered. “My lord Hand, the King has returned, he had called for you.”

Ned nodded, he got up and walked out of the room, making sure the box was secure and hidden. As he walked to meet the King he thought to himself, there is another heir out there, with a bull at his side. It took him a moment and then he swore again. Gendry.

Chapter Text

Chapter 30: Peace In Death

 

Despite the best efforts of the maesters, the wounds he had taken at Tyrosh had festered and gotten worse. He had gotten one good thing out of that trip, and that was ensuring that his cousin was actually his cousin. With that in mind he had returned. Stannis and Tommen remained on the Stepstones to guard it against any potential retaliation and to prepare for a counter war by Myr and Lys. He blinked it was harder to think properly now. The door opened, and someone walked in.

“Cersei.” He whispered.

“I am here, my love.” His wife replied, taking his hand.

“I hope I have been a good husband to you. And a good father to our children. I know that I was not always present in the moment, but I know that I did care for you.” Robert said.

“I know my love, and I you.” His wife replied.

“When I am gone, you must make sure to work with Ned, be prepared to guide our son through the times ahead.” Robert said.

“I will.” Cersei said.

“And try not to put too much stock in getting the Targaryen girl back.” Robert said, laughing. His wife said nothing.

“Joffrey!” Robert called out.

His firstborn son came. “Father.”

Robert looked at his son, saw flecks of gold and black, obsidian shining through. He smiled. “You are my firstborn son and I have always been proud of you. I know that in time there will be things that you wished I had shared with you. I fear I do not have that time, so now I must ensure that you know the most important lesson. You are to be King. You must remember who your friends are, and keep them close. Listen to their counsel, but always, always ensure that you know more about what it is you are discussing than they do. Always.”

“I will father.” Joffrey replied.

Robert nodded. Then his second son appeared. Robert blinked and then remembered that he had called for Tommen to come back from the Stepstones sometime, his memory was failing him apparently. “Ah Tommen. My lad, you will make a fine warrior and commander. I have heard about your exploits on the Stepstones. Make sure you listen to your brother and protect him as best you are able.”

“I will father.” Tommen replied.

Robert smiled, then coughed. He then turned and said. “Renly, where are you?”

“Here, Your Majesty.” His youngest brother said.

“Take care of the family, Renly. I do not trust Stannis. You must act as a bulwark against his ambitions.” Robert said.

“I will.” Renly said simply.

Robert nodded. Cersei came and whispered. “Lord Eddard is here, my love.”

Robert nodded and coughed. “Ah, Ned.”

“Your Majesty.” His friend said.

“I am afraid I will have to depart this world earlier than I intended. I never meant for things to end this way, but alas here we are. Get a pen and paper.” Robert commanded, they were produced. “Write what I say.” Robert took a moment and then continued. “I, Robert of the House Baratheon, King of Westeros, do hereby confirm that in my final moments, that my firstborn son is my heir and successor, that my son shall inherit my wealth and titles and the throne. I confirm that in this moment that being as my son is under age, that my hand, Lord Eddard Stark shall serve as Lord Protect and Regent for the two years before my heir comes of age.” Robert coughed. “Have you gotten all of that?”

“I did.” Ned replied.

“Good. Be careful of Stannis, my brother is not the honourable man he presents himself as. There is a lot he wants. And I do not think he was being honest about the letters not coming to him. I think they did come to him but he did his best to ignore them.” Robert said. “Cersei.” His wife came to his side, she took his hand, a comfort. “The two of you will need to guide Joffrey through the times to come. There will be those who wish to bring the chaos into the realm. You cannot allow them to succeed, for if they succeed then the realm will perish and with it everything we have worked for.” Robert looked at Ned then and said. “Give me my seal.” Ned handed him his seal, and he affixed it to the document. He then said. “By edict, I proclaim my brother Stannis Baratheon under suspension of rights and titles, pending inquiry by the crown.” There was a gasp. Robert laughed. “Now, I need to rest.”

He closed his eyes, and dreamed, he saw his mother and father, and the sister who had never been more than a dream. He saw Lyanna and then he saw the Father waiting for him, gesturing for him to come home. He smiled, boomed a great laugh and took the step forward, into paradise and relief.

Chapter Text

Chapter 31: Reunion

 

Viserys watched as the young man, young woman and their companions approached. He stamped down on the nervousness he felt. After months of planning the meeting he had dreamed of for years was finally happening. As the other group came closer, he noticed the silver in the boy’s hair, though it was dyed blue, the purple in his eyes shone through. The girl, he felt a pang when he saw the girl, he would recognise her anywhere. Dark black hair, and haunting violet eyes. They stopped before him and looked at him. Viserys bowed his head, and the boy and girl did the same.

Viserys looked at them, swallowed and then said. “Come, let us sit inside.” The tent he had was nothing special, but it had enough for this meeting. Five chairs, a table, and some food and wine he had gotten from a family within the walls of Volantis. He sat down and gestured for the others to sit, Ser Richard sat to his right, the boy and girl sat opposite him and the man stood behind them. Viserys looked at the man, his auburn hair was flecked with grey. “You will not sit, Lord Connington?” Viserys had heard that the man had died, clearly not.

Connington shook his head. “I prefer to stand, Your Royal Highness.” Immediately by that utterance, Viserys knew where this conversation was going to go.

He looked at the boy and girl and said. “I have dreamed of this moment for years. I am delighted that it is finally happening.” The pair exchanged looks.

The boy spoke, his voice deep like Rhaegar’s. “How did you find us?”

“I saw you both in the market in Volon Therys. I suspected who you were and I made efforts to find out.” Viserys said, it was true.

The boy shared a look with Lord Connington and then said. “It is good to finally meet you, Uncle.” There was a pause, and then. “We had been told you were different.”

Viserys laughed, containing the bitterness he felt. “You had been told I was mad?” A look passed between brother and sister, and then Viserys continued. “You need not lie to me. I know the rumours that had been put across.”

“What happened with Daenerys?” Connington demanded. “We were supposed to meet the both of you with a Dothraki Khalasar at your backs.”

“We had our disagreements, my sister and I. I decided to go my own way. I know not where she is.” Viserys said.

Connington harrumphed, but Aegon, for surely this boy was Aegon spoke then. “No matter. I do not need my aunt. I do however, need my uncle.” The boy smiled at him then and in his smile Viserys saw Elia and his heart ached for the sister he had lost. “I am sure you have questions, uncle.”

“Your Majesty!” Lord Connington cautioned.

Aegon turned and stared at Connington and said. “He has a right to know.” Aegon turned back and looked at him then. “Whatever your questions, ask, and we shall try our best to answer them.”

Viserys looked between the two of them and then asked. “How did you survive? I was always told that you were both murdered alongside your mother. And why did you not come and find me sooner?” That bit was what kept him from opening embracing them, despite what he wanted to do.

Aegon spoke. “I was exchanged with some baby from the bends in King’s Landing a week before the sack happened.  My mother and Varys had suspected that something like this might happen. Therefore they made the appropriate arrangements.”

Viserys looked at Rhaenys. “I did not know about this until much later. But when the time came, I was changed with another girl of Dornish heritage, Great Aunt Daella’s granddaughter.”

“Daenaera.” Viserys said, he remembered her, she had been a bright and curious girl, a member of House Velaryon as well.

“We were taken to Pentos, by Varys’ agents, and we were raised there for the first six years of my life.” Aegon said continuing the tale. “Then Jon came.” Jon Connington nodded.

“From there we ventured out travelling here and there. Septa Lemore came with us as did Rolly and the others we found along the way. They are Varys’ people.” Rhaenys said.

“We eventually came to the Shy Maid, a small boat which we lived on for the last two years. From there we found out about your request.” Aegon said.

A pause hung in the air, then Connington spoke. “As to why we could not come to you earlier, Your Royal Highness, well it was deemed unsafe. You and your sister were being targeted and we could not risk word of the King and the Princess Royal’s survival getting out.”

Viserys looked at the man, and then at his niece and nephew. He so desperately wanted to hug Rhaenys, to reassure himself that she was there. Not only that she was there, but that she was real and fully formed, but that he could forgive himself finally, that she might forgive him. He resisted the urge and instead said. “Well you are here now. We have time. We can meet with the Triarchs and ensure that their support is guaranteed. We must now start preparing alliances back home also.”

Aegon spoke then. “We are going to be meeting the Golden Company in a few days’ time. I would appreciate having you at my side.”

Viserys replied. “Of course.” Though his mind was a whir with why that might be, he knew the history of the company.

Rhaenys took his hand then. “Enough of the politicking, let us embrace the fact we are reunited again.”

Viserys smiled at her. “Yes, let’s.”

Connington spoke. “Perhaps we should set up camp first?”

“A good idea.” Aegon replied standing, Rhaenys stood up as well though she did not stop looking at him. eventually they left, leaving Viserys alone with Ser Richard.

“Well?” Viserys asked.

Ser Richard sighed. “I think that the girl calling herself Princess Rhaenys is indeed Princess Rhaenys, she looks the same and holds herself like her mother did. I am not sure about the man though. And Connington is far too cagey for my liking.”

“Agreed. Keep an eye.” Viserys said simply.

“Of course, Your Majesty.” Ser Richard replied.

Chapter Text

Chapter 32: Coronation

 

The High Septon droned on and on, Myrcella, wearing a tiara studded with gems and rubies did her best to keep her boredom at bay. Beside her Tommen shifted slightly, but he too did not speak. It was a solemn occasion this, the coronation of their beloved older brother to the throne. Joffrey wore crimson and gold, a stag on one end, a lion on the other. The new royal sigil hung above him. The Kingsguard stood in a row before him, all seven of them, they did look awfully splendid, she had to admit. Their father had been buried in a crypt inside the Red Keep, a crypt he had built for himself and his heirs long ago. That grief still hung like a cloak around them, but they tried not to think about it.

The High Septon started chanting, the Most Devout along with him, Myrcella snuck a look at Mother, and saw that she was looking at Lord Eddard most strangely. Things between the two of them had been quite strange as of late, and Myrcella was not sure why that was. Joffrey had gotten closer to Lord Stark since father’s passing but that made sense, after all the man was to serve as his Lord Protector until he came of age. Perhaps jealousy was the reason? A tug on her sleeve and Myrcella turned slightly to listen.

“Look at the lords on the other side.” Margaery whispered to her. As a member of her household, Margaery was allowed to stand with Myrcella and members of the Royal Family during the coronation.

Myrcella turned her head, and saw Lord Rosby whispering something to Lord Rykker, whilst Lord Florent stared not at Joffrey but at Tommen. “Florent’s gaze is somewhat unsettling.” Myrcella whispered.

Margaery giggled slightly, and then said. “You know I think he wants to get Tommen to take one of his sons into his household.” There was a pause as Margaery let that sink in. “He also wants to see a marriage between Tommen and one of his cousins.”

Myrcella turned around and looked at Margaery. “So, is this something your father has told you, or your grandmother?” It is was a deliberately phrased question, Mace Tyrell was an idiot somewhat, but not completely, but the Queen of Thorns really ruled the Reach and she knew almost everything.

“Grandmother told me, when we met earlier today. Said that Florent wanted recompense for the insult of seeing Selyse married to Lord Stannis.”

“Insult, he should be honoured.” Myrcella said. Her uncle had not been invited to attend the coronation, clearly the last edict that Father had issued remained with Joffrey to this very day. Stannis remained on the Stepstones, no doubt brooding. “Besides, Tommen already has a full household what with the Seaworth boy attending him, and Snow.”

Tommen had returned from the Stepstones with Maric Seaworth at his side, the lad was tall and lanky and not too bad to look at. Tommen had not said why the boy had come back with him, only that he was part of his household. Snow stood with the rest of his family, his direwolf looked intimidating, though he himself looked quite fine in his new knight’s garb. “There was something else.” Margaery whispered. “People have started whispering. They saw Lady Arya walking around with the blacksmith’s boy.”

“Gendry?” Myrcella asked. The boy had been brought into Lord Stark’s household after father had died, and though nobody had said it out loud, Myrcella knew everyone was thinking it. The boy looked almost exactly like Edric Storm did, except older and bigger. “What of it?”

“They think there’s some sort of romance blooming there.” Margaery supplied. “I don’t think so. But I do think it is worth being careful. Lady Arya is not so accommodating as her sister.”

Myrcella hummed. “Agreed, and her dancing lessons are most peculiar.” Myrcella knew about the Braavosi sword master had known for some time, but said nothing. She knew the scandal it would cause.

Before either of them could say anything else, Tommen spoke, though he whispered. “Whilst I appreciate getting a front row view to your gossiping, I must point out that we are required now, Cella.”

With that her brother took her hand and led her out passed the crowd and before the throne. The Kingsguard parted to let them through. Together they bowed and said. “We as members of the Royal House Baratheon do hereby swear our fealty to you, Our Most Gracious and Humble Sovereign. Joffrey, first King to bear that name since the Conquest.”

Joffrey smiled at them both and said. “Rise, my beloved siblings.” They did so, then he raised a hand, and together they walked up the steps to kiss the ring before stepping down and taking their places back in the throng. More lords came and bowed and did fealty, then, the oils were placed and the crown of their father put atop Joffrey’s head and they all shouted. “Long Live the King! Seven Save the King!”

Tommen turned to both her and Margaery then and said. “You know I think we might need to keep an eye on that Blacksmith.”

“Why?” Myrcella asked, though she already knew what he was going to say.

“I have a feeling something might be going on with him, and we must protect Joffrey, and the Starks.” Tommen said.

“Agreed.” Myrcella said.

“Well then perhaps we had best find out where Baelish has been.” Margaery said.

The master of coin had been absent for some time, only returning for the coronation. He always had a guarded look about him now, as though something was about to happen. It made them all feel distinctly uneasy. “Agreed.” Myrcella said. Then they were walking out of the throne room and to her room to get ready for the feast to come.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 33: A Family Business

 

Renly looked around the room, they were in the King’s private apartments within the Red Keep, and the banners of the hunt that Robert had so loved had been taken down and replaced by images of stags and dragons, and lions. Scenes from plays and stories of old. Joffrey even had a portrait of Maegor the Cruel hanging behind his bed, something that concerned Renly, given that King’s reputation. The King had called a meeting that included Renly, Cersei, Tommen, Myrcella, Jaime and Tyrion. Stannis remained somewhere in the Stepstones, banished for a time, it seemed, and that also concerned Renly. But he kept those concerns to himself for now.

The King spoke first, dressed in red and gold. “It has been a moon since my coronation, a great many lords have come and done obeisance, and many more have sent someone to swear fealty on their behalf. And yet I remain worried. The implementation of taxes to clear of the debt from our predecessor’s reign have drawn murmurings. Lord Florent made sure to mention that during our audience. Renly, Uncle, you are the master of laws, what word have you received of such murmurings?”

So, we get right down to it then? Renly thought to himself, that was a nice change to Robert at least. “Sire, my own investigations show that concern is strongest in the Riverlands and the Vale. Not the Westerlands, North, Stormlands or Reach. Indeed, I think it is safe to say that those regions not showing concern are those contributing the greatest amount.”

“And what of Dorne?” Cersei asked, she looked slightly tired, and the way the Kingslayer sat next to her made Renly raise an eyebrow internally.

“Dorne does as they are bid, but there is nothing I can get from them. Varys might do better.” Renly said. Truth be told, he had a feeling Varys was why Dorne had been so quiet.

“And what reasons do the Vale and the Riverlands give for their opposition to these taxes?” Joffrey asked.

“The Vale’s reasoning is simple, they are very much a agrarian economy but in recent times during the summer they have found it difficult to produce enough to generate much in means of getting the funds for these taxes. Add this to Lady Arryn’s own paranoia and her reticence to actually contribute a full amount and I think that is reason enough.” Renly said simply. “If I were you, Sire, I would invite Lord Robert to remain here in King’s Landing that might well tempt Lady Lysa to pay the full amount.”

“You would use a child as leverage, uncle?” Myrcella asked sounding horrified.

“I would do what is necessary to ensure the crown does not owe anything to anyone, Princess.” Renly replied simply.

“I will consider that for now.” Joffrey replied. “As to the Riverlands, their concerns are also justified, but we cannot simply cut down their tax levy.”

“Ah, in the Riverlands it is not all the lords, Sire, it is Bracken and Blackwood.” Renly supplied.

“Those two again?” Tyrion said. “Why am I not surprised?”

“What is their gripe?” Joffrey demanded. Some of Robert’s frustration coming through in his words.

Renly sighed. “Blackwood claims that Bracken is withholding proper yields from their production, whilst Bracken accuses Blackwood of sending men to steal the yield to prevent them from committing properly.”

“And who has the right of it?” Joffrey demanded.

“I am not sure, Sire. There is no clear line here.” Renly replied truthfully.

“Then I will summon them both here, lock them in a room until they have settled their differences and paid off everything.” Joffrey said.

“Bracken’s daughter is Princess Myrcella’s lady in waiting, perhaps she could be used to convince Bracken to stop this petty feuding?” Tyrion suggested.

“How? Bracken does not see her as his heir.” Myrcella said.

Joffrey spoke then. “He seriously still wants his bastard legitimised?”

“Yes.” Myrcella answered simply.

“Out of the question.” Joffrey said. “Instead, we shall offer him a marriage. Ser Jon to his daughter, and his daughter as heir. Jon will take his daughter’s name.”

Renly paused at that and looked at Tommen. “Would the boy like that?”

Before Tommen could speak, the King spoke. “He will do as his King commands.”

Renly bowed his head. The King then spoke once more. “Now there is another matter I wanted to speak to you all about.” Renly braced himself for this. “I wanted to know what your thoughts are on the matter of Stannis.” A pause then the King continued. “Father’s edict was that he be attainted, but the proof for this attainder is limited. Is it valid or not?”

All eyes turned to Renly, and he sighed. “I have read through every book and law code I could find going back to before the conquest. Everything suggests that what one King has done, another can undo. Therefore, Sire, the decision is entirely yours, with or without evidence.”

The King pursed his lips, and Tyrion spoke. “Stannis Baratheon would be a valuable ally to have, Sire. Especially with his control over the fleet, and his knowledge of the Essosi sellsails.”

“Do you truly think that Daenerys Targaryen and her band of horse fuckers will dare crossing the seas?” Ser Jaime asked. “They are scared of the sea.”

“But they have reason to come now.” Tyrion pointed out. “With the girl being with child and close to bringing that child into the world.”

The King considered this and then said. “Very well, I shall summon my uncle back, and I shall ask him about those letters he did not get from our father and Lord Stark.” There was a pause, and for a moment Renly thought that the King would mention Stark’s strange choice, instead he simply said. “Very well, that is all. Dismissed.” With that they all rose and bowed before walking out.

As they did, Tyrion waddled over to Renly and whispered. “I would be careful, Renly. The King is not fond of the bastard in Stark’s household. Edric Storm might be next.”

“Duly noted.” Renly said and then he walked off, his mind stirring.

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 34: Snowfall

 

The more time he spent in King’s Landing, the more he felt at home here. In a way that he never had in Winterfell. Jon felt as though people did not care much for his parentage, but more about what he could bring to the table. He supposed that it did help that he had been knighted alongside Prince Tommen and had helped deliver the Archon of Tyrosh to the King at the time. That had given him a stellar reputation and as such ensured his credibility. And now there was this, the King proposing a marriage for him. Something that Prince Tommen had decided to hold a little meeting about, involving just Jon, the Prince, Tyrion Lannister and Princess Myrcella, why the Princess was here, Jon did not know.

“So, Jon, do you want this marriage?” the Prince asked, directly to the point. The Prince remained thin, almost alarmingly so, despite the exercises and training they both did.

Jon could feel his own body changing and shaping into a lean shape, but with more muscle than the Prince had. “I…I am honoured that His Majesty would consider me worthy of such a marriage.” Jon replied honestly.

The Prince sighed. “That is not what I asked, I want to know if you want this marriage?”

Jon took one look at his friend’s face and knew the usual platitudes would not work. “I do not know, Your Royal Highness. I barely know Lady Bracken and I am still a bastard, it would not be an appropriate match.”

Princess Myrcella spoke then. “Nonsense, you are a knight with battle experience, the son of the Hand of the King, and friends with a Prince of the Blood. Barbara knows that she would be lucky to have you, and she wants to get to know you a little bit more.”

Jon looked at the Princess, surprised that she had said anything. They’d barely spoken two words to one another during the time he’d been here so far. “I…I will make sure to speak with her then, Princess.”

“So, are you going to wait and see whether the two of you get along, before making your mind up?” The Prince asked. Before Jon could respond, the Prince continued. “I would advise that you do this quickly, I know Joffrey, he will not wait for very long.”

The Princess shot her brother a disapproving look then, looking very much like the Queen Dowager then. “Tommen, Joffrey has already said he will give Jon and Barbara as much time as they need. Lord Bracken has already agreed to fork up the gold he owes.”

Jon looked between the two siblings and was about to say something when Prince Tommen spoke. “Do you really think Joffrey will remain that patient? He wants this matter over and done with before the year is over, and before Uncle Stannis comes back to court.”

“And there are what? Two moons before the year is over. There is time enough.” Princess Myrcella said.

Tyrion Lannister spoke then. “I would caution you, Jon. The Brackens are known to be ambitious, and whilst I am sure Lady Barbara is a nice girl, she is still her father’s daughter.”

“What does that mean?” Princess Myrcella asked.

Tyrion Lannister said nothing for a moment and then simply said. “Simply that they are an ambitious family.”

Princess Myrcella snorted. “Very well.”

Jon felt it appropriate to speak then. “I would like to get to know Lady Barbara, truly I would. However, if I am to go through with this, then I will need to be completely honest with her.”

“What do you mean, Jon?” Tommen asked. “Is there some girl who has caught your fancy?” The Prince raised his eyebrows.

Jon swallowed then, and shuffled. “I…I must do the honourable thing.”

“Well?” Tommen demanded. “What does that mean?”

“Tommen, let him sort it out himself.” Princess Myrcella said.

Tommen sighed. “Fine.” Then the Prince looked at the sky outside and swore. “Shit, Cella we had better get going, otherwise Mother is going to be on our case.” The two of them got up and left then, leaving Jon alone with Tyrion Lannister.

There was a silence for a time and then Tyrion Lannister spoke. “Be careful, Jon. My nephew and niece mean well, but the family is less forgiving. Whoever this girl that you are involved with is, make sure to treat her kindly. Or bring her case before the King. Otherwise, things will go badly for you.”

Jon raised an eyebrow. “Is that a threat or a promise?”

Tyrion Lannister said nothing, he merely laughed. “Neither, it is a statement of fact.”

The imp got up, and Jon then asked. “How did you know?”

Tyrion stopped at the door and winked at him. “It’s what I do. I drink and I know things.”

The Imp left then, and Jon was left of face his concerns and worries alone, apart from Ghost. He sighed and wondered how he had gotten himself into this state.

Chapter Text

Chapter 35: Bastard Stag

 

Gendry did not know why Lord Stark had taken him from Tobho Mott’s forge and brought him to court. He did not know why Lord Stark had made him his squire, and he did not know why he was in Lord Stark’s household. The only thing he did know was that his life had been turned upside down. He had gone from being a little known blacksmith’s apprentice to the squire of the Hand of the King. It had all been very sudden and, truth be told he was somewhat nervous about it all.

Lord Stark was a nice man, if somewhat severe, he hardly ever smiled unless it was around his daughters and his bastard son. His daughters were as different as night and day, Lady Sansa was all prim and proper, and beautiful, whilst Lady Arya-though she hated being called that- was all wild and out of touch with what it meant to be a lady. Ser Jon was solemn and Gendry rarely saw him, he spent more time with Prince Tommen than with his father and family nowadays.

Gendry blinked at hearing his name. He looked up and saw Lord Stark looking at him. “Sorry, my lord, what were you saying?”

“I was asking how you were finding things. I know it must have been quite the adjustment.” Lord Stark said kindly.

Gendry thought for a moment. He remembered something Tobho Mott had said to him before he had left. These lords are all the same they will ask you a question that you would think to answer honestly, don’t. If you do, your head will be on a spike. With that in mind Gendry said. “I am liking it, my lord. It is different, but a good sort of different. Refreshing and I am learning a lot.” Someone snorted then, and he imagined it would be Lady Arya who had snorted.

“And what have you learned?” Lord Stark asked. His eyes suggested he was quite interested. That was the thing about him, though he was a great lord and powerful, he actually seemed to care.

“I have learned much about how a household is run, from the accounts to the management of people, and I have learned about how to interact with members of the court from watching you, my lord.” Gendry answered. It was true, he had paid attention though he had not understood everything.

“And what of your lessons with the maester? Is he teaching you everything you need to know?” Lord Stark asked.

Gendry hid his embarrassment by taking a drink of ale. He then nodded. “He is my lord. I have got a decent grasp of my numbers and my words now.”

“Good, you will need that.” Lord Stark, though whether it was to Gendry or to himself he did not know. Lord Stark then put his cutlery to the side and said. “If you excuse me, I must attend to some business. Sansa, if you would come with me.” Sansa got up and walked with her father, leaving Gendry with Lady Arya.

There was a brief silence and then Lady Arya said. “You don’t have to lie to father, you know, he’s not like other lords. He’d actually respect you more if you told him the truth.”

“My lady?” Gendry asked unsure of what she was talking about.

Lady Arya bristled. “I’ve told you before, don’t call me that.”

“Sorry, Arya. I don’t understand what you mean.” Gendry said simply then.

“You don’t have to pretend to be grateful to father. You must hate it, having been ripped from everything you’ve ever known. To be taken from the life you had into this snake pit.” Arya said.

“I don’t.” Gendry said. “I actually appreciate this opportunity I’ve been given.” He found he sincerely meant that also.

“Why? Why would see this as an opportunity? The people here only want to take and take. They don’t care a fig for anything else but power. How could that be an opportunity for you?” Arya demanded.

“I have a chance to improve myself as a person. I have a chance to be something more than just a blacksmith’s apprentice. I can see how things are going. I could maybe try and improve the lot of the smallfolk. This is not something that just comes and goes. I have to take advantage of it.” Gendry said simply.

Arya looked as if he’d just hit her. “You’re no different to them then. I thought you’d be different.”

Gendry snorted. “You don’t get it. How could you? You’ve had everything you’ve ever wanted given to you on a silver plate. Golden even. You do not know what it is to struggle, to not know where your next meal will come from.”

“That’s not true!” Arya yelled back at him. “I cannot fight with a sword because I am expected to be a lady, to sit and sow and play house.”

Gendry found his own anger coming to the surface then. “Well forgive me, my lady! That sounds like such a pain! You get to live in a castle, you get to do whatever else you want with all the money you want. You don’t have to sit there and watch your family die, or not know where your next meal is going to come from. You don’t have to work! So, forgive me for wanting to seize an opportunity!”

Arya got up then and slapped him. “I hate you!” She yelled before storming off.

Gendry remained where he was, he put a hand to his cheek, and felt the sting of the slap. He regretted the words he had said, he remembered who he was then. He sighed, he should go apologise. As he went to get up, someone, one of the servants put a letter in his hand. He opened it and read.

Want to know your mother? Come to the Great Sept in three days time.

Gendry looked around for the servant who had given him the letter, but they were gone. His heart hammered in his chest.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 36: Brightly Burning

 

First his brother had slighted him by giving him Dragonstone and entrusting Storm’s End to Renly and their uncle Harbert. Then Robert had deflowered Delena Florent on his marriage bed, producing a bastard, and had left him with that harridan Selyse Florent. Then his brother had the temerity to accuse him of treason for not replying to letters that he had never received. Needless to say Stannis had never liked Robert. Loved him? Yes, but that was something that he would never be able to control. Family was family, you loved them whether you wanted to or not. And now Robert’s boy had demanded that he return to answer for some edict that Robert had issued before he had died.

Stannis held the letter up. “My nephew asked me to hold the Stepstones with half the Royal Fleet and I have done that. I have defeated the pirate fleet and the pirate King and the fleets of Myr and Lys. I have done it without complaint. And now he asks me to come to King’s Landing to answer for something that I have no idea of. I tell you this is a plot against me.” He paused then, seeing some of the lords with him shifting uneasily. “Cersei Lannister and her family have never liked me. She was the one who told Robert to give me Dragonstone, that dry and deserted hell hole, and not that which was rightfully mine. She is no doubt controlling what her son says. She and Stark.”

Lord Velaryon spoke then, the man was proud, and had worked hard to redeem his family after what his father had done during Aerys reign. “Why would Lord Stark want you removed though my lord? He seems as though he would want you on the council as a member of the King’s family.”

Stannis snorted. “Stark has no love for me, nor me him. Note how he did nothing to convince the King of my innocence whilst the King was alive. No Stark is just as much a danger as Cersei Lannister and her entire family, more so.”

Lord Florent spoke then. “How so, my lord? What does Stark have that Cersei Lannister does not have?”

Florent was an old man, but not a stupid one, Stannis knew he was simply trying to get Stannis to say what he already knew. “He is Robert’s oldest friend and foster brother. He could well set the kingdom backwards, or toward a more northern outlook that would harm the Kingdom far more. Furthermore, for all the words of his so called protest he has not yet broken the betrothal between his daughter and Joffrey, suggesting he is no different to the system already there. He will not reform Westeros.”

Lord Chester spoke then. “And why should this concern us? They have banished us to the edges of civilised world. Why should we care about Stark or Lannister, when they have never cared about us?”

Stannis remembered the words the red woman had whispered to him as he had taken her the night before he had left Dragonstone. He remembered the words his own wife had said to him after she had finished sucking his cock. And he said. “Because they are ruling for a false King.”

Lord Chester snorted. “What do you mean?”

“You know your history I assume, my lord?” Stannis asked, knowing that this would bait Chester, the man was a learned one.

“Of course I do. I know all about the bastards that were passed off as Velaryons, and I know all about other such things that Kings of old have done.” Chester replied.

“Who was the King who entered into a marriage alliance with a house, when he was already plight trothed?” Stannis asked.

Chester hesitated then, Stannis looked around the room and knew the others were beginning to put the pieces into place. “King Robert Arryn, the first one. He entered into an alliance with House Justman, but was already married to a lady from the tribes. He had married her to fuck her and because he was in love with her. It started a war after his death.”

“What does this have to do with anything?” Velaryon demanded.

“Are you suggesting that King Robert was in no place to marry Queen Cersei?” Lord Grimm asked, the man was sharp and ambitious.

“Yes.” Stannis answered simply.

Lord Chester looked at him and asked. “You have some proof of this, my lord?”

“Are you calling me a liar?” Stannis asked softly.

“No, my lord, but I do think it is somewhat convenient. You did not raise this point when the King married Queen Cersei, and now that he is dead, and his son has come to ask you to answer something, you bring this up.” Lord Chester replied simply.

“I did not know about it then, I only found out about it through Lord Arryn.” Stannis said. He procured a paper he had found long ago it seemed, and placed it down on the table. “Have a read of it.” he commanded.

The lords gathered read it, and even Davos read it. Lord Velaryon who had often attended court spoke then. “That is most interesting and most definitely Lord Arryn’s hand then.” There was a pause, Velaryon got up and drew his sword, placing it at Stannis’s feet. “I pledge my allegiance to you, my King.”

Chester and Grimm did the same, as did Florent, and the three other lords gathered at this meeting, Stannis took this in and smiled, then looked to the Maester. “Send my response back to King’s Landing, tell my nephew I reject his demand and expect him to vacate the throne, that he holds now. The bastard shall be removed. By order of King Stannis.”

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 37: Truth

 

The streets were busy, people were preparing for the New Year’s feast to be held on the morrow and the celebrations that would be held tonight. Gendry walked quickly, making his way down to the Great Sept of Baelor, his heart hammering. He wondered if he would find out more about his mother, or if this was some sort of elaborate plot or some such. He hoped not, he was not sure if he could take that. He kept walking, up, then down, and then up again. He got to the Great Sept, said a quick prayer and then entered.

The hallway was largely empty, there were a few people saying prayers, but they soon left. He kept walking, wondering where to find the person who would tell him what he had wanted to know his entire life. He saw a figure then, standing before him, hooded and tall. The figure gestured and started walking toward a closed off section. Gendry followed wordlessly, some part of him screaming that this was a trap. He ignored that part of his mind and kept going. The figure continued walking before disappearing behind a door. Gendry followed.

The room he entered was dimly lit, there were images and paintings and figures. A half man half serpent was before him and something else, images of Targaryens and Stags, and the Black dread, and something else. A book and a scroll and other things. He ignored them, and stopped before the figure of the Conqueror. “Who are you? Why did you call me here?” He called out. He was greeted by silence. “Do you have anything to actually tell me or not?” he went to walk away but then a voice replied, it was raspy.

“I have everything to tell you and more. The truth as it has been for generations.” The voice said.

“What do you mean?” Gendry demanded, he had no time for riddles or anything else, and he was already getting a bad feeling for this.

“What do you know about your mother?” the voice asked.

“I know she smiled and laughed a lot, and I know she sang to me. I know she died.” Gendry said.

The figure laughed. “Do you remember what she looked like, or what she sounded like?”

Gendry’s eyes narrowed. “Why?”

“Because the time has come for you to know the truth.” The figure said, its voice taking on a different tone then. “Your mother was not some common whore or woman. She was a lady of a very old and prominent house. The Hand of the King saw her as his niece and she was. Your mother was a Lady of House Waynwood, someone who had been meant to marry his nephew Ser Elbert, before Elbert died. But, this is not why I have asked you to come here. I have asked you to come here because, your mother grew up with your father. Indeed they were as close as two people could be. They laughed and loved. And your father wished to make their relationship official, but your mother would not unless he married her. And so, in order to make this so, he did. He wed her before a Septon in the Vale, before the Tourney of Harrenhal and before he was even betrothed to Lyanna Stark. He married her and they loved one another and then he was betrothed to Stark and went to war. He remained married. Even as he was wed to another. Jon Arryn found out about the marriage and had to hide the baby, and his niece, lest your father’s new wife’s family found out. And so he did. He hid your mother in a convent, though she took no vows, and he hid you in plain sight. In King’s Landing.”

Gendry looked at the figure his heart racing. “Who is my father?” He demanded

The figure laughed. “Look at yourself, lad. Look at your hair and your eyes. Look at how the royal family have reacted every time you pass them by, who do you think you father is?”

Gendry thought about it and then gasped. “No! That cannot be true. You are lying. King Robert would never do something so dishonourable. He loved Lady Lyanna.”

The figure snorted. “Of course he would say that, or rather that’s what his allies wanted the people to believe. Otherwise what else would he do to rebel? No. Robert Baratheon never loved Lyanna Stark. He never did and never would. He loved her brother, as a brother, and he loved your mother as a man loves his wife.”

“How do I know you are not lying?” Gendry demanded. “Where is your proof?”

The figure stepped forward, and removed their hood. Gendry gasped. “Why would I lie to you lad?” Tobho Mott said.

“How? How could you know? You’re just a blacksmith!” Gendry replied.

Mott laughed. “Oh, aye that’s what I told you and everyone else who asked. But really, I was the witness to the marriage between your mother and father. I was their witness and I held you in my arms, when you were born.”

“Who are you?” Gendry demanded.

“That does not matter.” Tobho Mott said. “My name is irrelevant. All that matters now is that you know.”

“But that means, that means I am the rightful King?” Gendry asked.

“Aye, lad.” Mott produced a stack of papers and said. “Right here is the certificate of record, that acknowledges the marriage. But we must leave and quickly, before your brother decides to do something stupid.” Mott grabbed his arm and they walked out of the room, and went through another door and down some steps, and through a tunnel, and before Gendry knew it they were on a ship.

“Where are we going?” He asked.

“To your home, to meet your mother.” Mott said.

Chapter Text

Chapter 38: New Year’s Eve Betrayal

 

Ned took a deep sigh of relief, he had had word from his sources on the docks that Gendry had found Jasper Waynwood and that they had boarded a ship meant for the Vale. That was good, it meant that there was one less thing he had to worry about. Now whatever became of the boy was down to him and Lysa. Ned knew he should feel bad for handing off the boy to someone who was perhaps not the most stable, but in truth he found he could not muster enough will to care. He had a lot going on, and had to prioritise. The boy was gone for now and that was good enough.

He took a sip of ale, and looked around the throne room. The entire court was here, celebrating, dancing and drinking. The King had called a feast to see in the New Year, and had looked resplendent, somewhat of a mix between Robert and Maegor the Cruel, all muscle but with Baratheon charm. It was something to behold. Sansa had sat at his side, a Queen in all but name. A speech had been made and from there the festivities had begun. The King had left after a time to attend to something, but had not asked for Ned, and so Ned was content to let that lie.

Instead he listened in, on the conversation his son was having with Prince Tommen. “I’m telling you, there’s nothing better than Vermithor and Silverwing, they were better than the Conqueror’s dragons. They were agile, nimble and they were always used for peace until the Two Betrayers got to them.” Prince Tommen said, a passionate glint in his eye.

“I disagree, Vhagar and Meraxes as well as Balerion did the whole founding of the kingdom thing. Without them, there would be no Vermithor and Silverwing.” Jon retorted.

Ned smiled to hear their discussions, he remembered the conversations he and Robert had had at their age. It was something to see, it filled him with hope. “Pah, there’s nothing to even say that Vermithor and Silverwing came from the clutch that Vhagar laid. They could’ve been from a clutch that the other dragons had brought.”

“If that were so, why would their names not have been mentioned?” Jon demanded.

Prince Tommen turned to him then, and Ned felt his breath catch, for in that moment, the Prince looked awfully like Robert, with his hair thrown carelessly about, and his smile glinting. “Lord Stark, what do you think? Were Vermithor and Silverwing from the eggs laid by Vhagar or another dragon?”

Ned wasn’t sure what to say he had never found the dragonlore that interesting as a boy or as a man. Thankfully, Tyrion Lannister came to save him then. “Your Royal Highness, forgive my interruption, but I was hoping to speak with Lord Stark.”

“By all means.” The Prince said smiling.

Tyrion Lannister indicated they should leave, and so Ned stood up and followed the imp as he waddled along to a corner. “I have got the information we need.”

It took a moment for Ned to remember what the imp was talking about and then it clicked. “You have the evidence of Baelish’s financial misdemeanours?”

“Yes, with great difficulty. I had to bribe a fair few people, but I’ve got a clear paper and spoken trail, we can present this to the King on the morrow, and then we can get the bastard done.” Tyrion said.

Ned smiled. “Perfect, you have done some excellent work, Tyrion.” The imp smiled. He went to say something but then a knight of the Kingsguard, Ser Boros Blount came and said.

“His Majesty wishes to see you in the Chamber of Deputies, my lord hand.”

Ned looked at Tyrion and then nodded. “Very well, lead the way.” Ned followed Ser Boros Blount he could hear the music and the talking of the court and smiled he was enjoying things, though he did dearly miss his Cat and Winterfell. He remembered how much fun they had had at their own New Year’s celebration last year. He remembered kissing Cat under the leaves and holly. He blinked then and cleared his mind as Ser Boros announced him. he entered and saw that the King was sat leaning over something, the Queen Dowager was to his right looking worried, Lord Varys was to his left, Pycelle next to Cersei, and Lord Commander Ser Barristan Selmy stood behind the King as did two other knights of the Kingsguard, including the Kingslayer.

“Your Majesty.” Ned said bowing.

“Rise, my lord.” the king said. Ned did as he was bid, and straightened sensing that something was not right. “A letter came from the Stepstones, from our uncle.” The King said. “Read it.” the King handed him the letter, and Ned read it. he gasped, his heart hammering. “What do you make of this?”

“It is treason, plain and simple.” Ned said.

“Why do you think my uncle would do something like this?” the King asked.

“He has always been ambitious, my King. Perhaps his ambition finally got the better of him.” Ned supplied, trying to keep his voice even.

The King looked at him then and Ned suspected he knew what would come next. “You see, I too had thought this. My uncle never hid how much he wanted Storm’s End. And now this claim is most convenient. However, something else came to my attention and as such, we now believe we know why Stannis Baratheon thought to make these claims. Varys.”

The eunuch stepped forward. “There were letters found on a person of your household, my lord hand. They claim to be in the hand of Lord Jon Arryn, the former Hand of the King, speaking of treason and whisperings. Of a marriage between His Majesty King Robert Baratheon and a Waynwood girl, which happened before the King’s marriage to Her Majesty Queen Dowager Cersei Baratheon. Furthermore, when questioned, the member of your household confessed that he was carrying these letters on your order. To instigate rebellion against King Joffrey, another man questioned said that it was to support the legitimisation of a child resulting from the union of the aforementioned union.”

Ned stood where he was, looking at the King knowing he could not deny this. He had not wanted to usurp Joffrey, but by keeping that letter he had condemned himself. “Well, my lord, what do you have to say?” the King demanded, something like hurt and anger in his voice.

Ned sighed. “I confess that I had learned about King Robert’s marriage whilst reading through some letters that my predecessor had written. I was not sure what to make of it and dismissed it as a fancy. But then I looked through the records of marriages, and there I found a brief entry recording this marriage of one Orys Storm and Elyssa Waynwood.” Ned took another breath. “I then put two and two together, and realised that the bastard Gendry was the product of that union.”

“And you did not think to inform me?” The King demanded.

“I….I did not know how to. To do so would be turn everything on its head.” Ned said simply.

“By simply withholding this information from me, you have committed treason.” The King said. “Where is Gendry Waters?”

Ned sighed, knowing he had dug his own grave. “He has left King’s Landing on a boat to the Vale.”

“Why?” The King all but roared. “What did you think I would do to him?”

“Not you, Sire, never you, but what others might do. If I could find out about him, others would as well. I sent him away to protect him, and you.” Ned said.

“Sire, have mercy on him, he did what he thought best.” Cersei said then, surprising Ned.

The King looked at him, anger and hurt battling one another. “I should have you executed right now for concealing this from me and committing treason. But for the love you bore my father, I shall spare you, and instead order you arrested.” The King clapped his hands and the gold cloaks appeared. “Take him discreetly down to the cells.” The men nodded, and they took Ned by the arms, he did not resist, as he was led away, Ned looked at the King and said.

“Please be kind to my children, that is all I ask.”

The King looked at him and said. “I will be. Now be gone.” Ned could’ve sworn he saw the King shed a tear.

Chapter Text

Chapter 39: Ominous

 

Though she missed Ned and their daughters terribly, life moved on. The world kept going and their remaining children were growing up so quickly. Robb had shown himself to be capable lord, and administrator, handling the difficulties of the harvest feast with ease, and the oddities that were the Reed children also. He managed to keep all factions happy without losing power for Winterfell, and of that, Catelyn was proud of him. Bran had gotten used to not being able to climb and had slowly but surely gotten back into being a bright and cheerful boy. Rickon was wild as anything, but more restrained as he got older, the direwolves were all growing at alarming rates also. All of this had done much to make the lack of Ned and the girls not be so hurtful, but now a letter had come from King’s Landing and the missing had turned into fear.

Robb had his own lord’s face on, and much like his father’s for those who did not know him it would be hard to tell what he was thinking, but Catelyn could, and she knew he was nervous. “This letter, this letter speaks of a great many things. It makes  great many accusations and I do not believe a single one of them.”  There was a pause, then Robb continued. “My father would never side against the throne, he and King Robert were like brothers. They fought a war together and they helped one another. My father swore an oath of fealty to Joffrey and he would not break that. Never. My father’s honour cannot be questioned.” Catelyn felt a slight pang at that, remembering the bastard, but she pushed that down. “This letter seems most unlike the King as well, as though it were written and dictated by someone else. Joffrey does not seem the type to make statements without evidence. And the evidence he has provided is flimsy.” Catelyn knew that meant there was none, but the King’s word was law. Robb then held up the letter Sansa had written and sent. “And then there’s this. This is nothing more than a work of fiction.” He threw that letter onto the table.

“Yet, the King’s word is law, my lord.” Maester Luwin said. “If he has said Lord Stark has committed treason then despite what we might think, it is perhaps best to think he has.”

Catelyn could not keep quiet then she looked at the Maester and asked. “Do you truly believe that? You have served this family for sixteen years. Do you truly believe that Lord Eddard is capable of breaking his oath?”

Something shifted in the maester’s eyes then, what it was, she did not know but she made a note of it. His voice was subdued when he replied. “No, my lady, I do not.”

Catelyn looked at Robb then, he would soon be a man grown, with the weight of this resting on his shoulders. “What do you intend to do?” She asked, her heart hammering.

Robb looked uncertain, though to anyone else he would be the very picture of certainty, what was it with Starks and their lord’s faces? Eventually he spoke. “There is more to this than meets the eye I think. Joffrey seemed to be a reasonable fellow when he was here, but the crown can change even the best of men, and he is younger than me. Perhaps he has been corrupted by it. He has charged father with treason without giving him the benefit of a trial, something that King Jaehaerys made illegal a long time ago. The last time a King did that, there was a rebellion.”

Catelyn felt something knot within her. “You cannot be considering that surely?”

Robb looked at her, and though he was nearly a man grown, all she saw was the babe who would come running to her to kiss his bruises as a child. “I might not have a choice. He has accused father of wanting to crown Stannis Baratheon, has proven no evidence, and has declared father a traitor without a trial. He had gone against every known precedent within Westeros. Furthermore, his grandsire has attacked Uncle Edmure and Grandfather Hoster in Riverrun without cause. He has sided with his grandsire. I cannot let that stand.”

Maester Luwin spoke then. “Perhaps sending a raven asking for justice would be better than going in person?” there was a pause as they all looked at him to explain his position. He did so. “After all, letters can see more detailed things written down without emotion. Face to face encounters in situations such as these can lead to heated exchanges.”

Catelyn agreed with the Maester, she did not want Robb anywhere near King’s Landing. Memories of what had happened to the last Starks to venture there flitted through her mind. Her son however, it seemed was of a different opinion. “I am of the north, maester. I will not hide here whilst a boy younger than me denies my father the right to a trial and the right to a fair hearing. I will not sit here whilst he allows his grandsire to play the mad tyrant and terrify the Riverlands. No. I will not sit here and wait. I will act.”

“So, you will go alone?” Catelyn asked, her fear growing.

Her son shook his head. “No. I will not make the mistake that my grandsire made. I will go to King’s Landing, but I will go at the head of an army. I will make the King right this wrong, with the only thing that matters, the sword.”

Catelyn said nothing then, her fear grew. Maester Luwin spoke then. “I shall send the necessary ravens, my lord.”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 40: Snow Wind

 

Everything had been chaotic since Father’s surprise arrest on the New Year’s celebration. Jon had come back from the feast to find guards taking Sansa into the King’s custody and other guards rummaging through their things. Nothing had been found, and the accusations had come and then there had been all sorts of things going on. Jon did not know what to think. He did not think it possible for father to commit treason, not against King Robert’s son and heir, not when father had sworn an oath. But then father had taken Gendry Waters into his household and treated him not as a bastard but something else. Jon knew not what to think or do. He had acted as head of the household and therefore had ordered Jory and Harwin to keep things quiet. He had not seen Sansa since that day, but Arya remained at his side throughout everything. He was with her now.

Jon saw Arya fidgeting and said. “Arya, you have to stop that. You’re not doing anything to help yourself.”

His sister glowered at him. “I can’t just sit still, Jon. I thought you would understand. They’ve got Father in prison and Sansa is as good as a prisoner. To that man.”

Jon looked around nervously, he knew that the King had his ears everywhere. “Careful. Be glad that that is all they have done.”

Arya’s eyes narrowed. “What do you mean? You don’t believe the accusations do you? Father would never commit treason!”

Jon goes to speak, but then the door opens, and Ser Mandon Moore of the Kingsguard enters, his white cloak billowing behind him. he is followed shortly by Prince Tommen. The Prince looks tired, and thinner than even a few days ago. What is going on? Jon rises and nudges Arya to do the same. He bows, Arya curtseys. “Your Royal Highness. How may we help you?” Jon asked.

The Prince gestured for them to sit before nodding to Ser Mandon, the man takes a position behind him. Jon sat down as did Arya, Ghost went to Tommen and nuzzled next to him. “I have come to see how you are both doing.” Tommen said.

Jon looked at Arya and said. “We are well, Your Royal Highness, but the lack of information is not good. We don’t know what is happening.”

“You know my name, Jon, we are friends I ask that you use it.” the Prince said. He must have seen Jon look at Ser Mandon standing behind him for he then said. “Don’t worry about him, Mandon is loyal to me. He will say nothing of what we talk about here.”

Jon nodded, and Arya reluctantly nodded. Jon continued. “Tommen, what is happening? All I know is that our father is being accused of treason, that he has been imprisoned and that Sansa is now under the King’s guardianship. I don’t know what else has happened since then. Is it true? Did our father commit treason?”

Tommen sighed then. The lines around his face growing more pronounced. “He withheld information from the King. That is in of itself treason. He concealed the fact that the bastard Gendry Waters is our brother. That he is in fact the product of a marriage between our father King Robert and one Arryn girl. He did it to protect both the King and Gendry Waters, but it is still treason.”

“Gendry is the King’s son?” Arya exclaimed. “Does he know?”

“I do not know.” Tommen said. “Your father will be put on trial in four days time to answer for this. And other things. He refuses to admit to any wrong doing and my brother, the King has cracked under pressure from the council to go through with this trial. Originally he was going to send Stark back north. But events have conspired to force his hand.”

“What events?” Jon found himself asking, what else could have happened that could have forced the King to go ahead with a trial.

“Your brother Robb has raised his banners and advanced southwards. It seems there has been some sort of miscommunication. The King has sent letters to Robb trying to get him to stand down, but nothing has come of it. Therefore, there will be a trial.” Tommen said.

“Miscommunication? What do you mean?” Jon demanded.

“Simply that we do not know why Robb has called his banners when things are simple. There will be a trial.” Tommen said simply.

“But originally, there wasn’t going to be. You said that!” Arya exclaimed.

Tommen looked at her and then said. “I know.” There was a pause and then the Prince added. “Your marriage to Barbara Bracken is off.” Jon nodded he had expected nothing less. “She will instead marry some cousin of ours, Martyn Lannister I am told.”

“What of Sansa’s betrothal, does that stand?” Jon asked. He knew it would kill Sansa if that marriage ended.

“For now yes. The King hopes to resolve everything peacefully without need of violence.” Tommen said.

“What is to become of us?” Jon asked then.

Tommen sighed. “It depends entirely on what your father does and what happens with your brother.” The Prince rose, then but before he left he said. “I would ensure you keep a bag ready, with the things you need the most.”

“Why?” Jon asked.

“In case you need to leave suddenly. I do not know what is to happen. I would not allow anything to happen to you.” Tommen said before he turned and walked out.

Chapter Text

Chapter 41: Equators

 

They’d been together for some two moons now, and throughout that time Viserys had been both relieved that his niece and nephew were alive, but also worried and suspicious. There were conversations had been Aegon and Jon Connington that he was not privy to, and as the King’s uncle, and his chief advisor, Viserys felt he should’ve been privy to them. Yet, largely he could not complain. He had reconnected with Rhaenys and felt their old bond reignite. Sometimes he had a pang in his chest, that this was happening in exile and not in King’s Landing, but other times he simply enjoyed being in her presence. The King was more withdrawn, not as Rhaegar had been, but he spent a lot of time reading and debating things with Connington and that worried Viserys. Connington had loved Rhaegar, Viserys knew that, it would cloud his judgement.

He pushed those thoughts away though, for now they were meeting with the commanders of the Golden Company, the same organisation that had laughed him away eight years ago, welcomed his nephew with open arms. He bit down resentment, and listened as Harry Strickland the Captain spoke. “Welcome, one and all. Your Majesty, Your Royal Highnesses. Things have been in the works for a great many years.” There was a pause, Strickland looked at him then. “Since the fall of the Targaryen dynasty we have been working to secure their restoration and today we shall see that come true.” Strickland looked at Viserys and said. “Your Royal Highness, I apologise for the bluntness and rudeness of our last meeting. It was necessary to ensure spies did not report anything that could damage the plan.” Viserys merely nodded, he was still suspicious, Bittersteel’s skull was right in front of him. “Now, we discuss the news from the east.”

Jon Connington spoke then. “Daenerys Targaryen’s husband has died. He was killed in a fight with a rival Khalasar. It seems that Daenerys has since taken over that Khalasar and has taken Yunkai and Astapor and is moving onto Meeren. She has also now gotten control of the Unsullied and various other sellsword bands.”

“How has she managed that? Astapor would make sense, the Unsullied likely rebelled, but Yunkai?” Viserys said.

“She has dragons. Two of them. A great black beast, and a silver dragon.” Connington said. “Our spy has written of the help they have played in ensuring that she has won people over to her cause.”

Viserys bit down a sigh of frustration. He should’ve taken the remaining two eggs. Instead, he asked. “How did they hatch?”

“It appears she placed them on her husband’s funeral pyre, and then entered the pyre. She emerged with the dragons.” Connington said.

“And her babe?” Viserys asked.

“Dead in the womb.” Connington said simply. Viserys held back a sigh, he knew he should hate his sister, but she was still his sister.

Connington continued. “This news makes me think that perhaps we should stick with the original plan and go to her. She would need the assistance, furthermore, she does need to marry His Majesty.”

Strickland nodded. “I agree, we need to unite the two claims and continue from there.”

Viserys went to speak, he wondered why they were so content to ignore him and Rhaenys, but then he remembered. He was the son of the Mad King. Aegon was Rhaegar’s son. He bit down the anger and kept quiet. The King spoke then. “We cannot just go to her cap in hand. I will not go a beggar.”

Connington spoke then. “Sire, I appreciate that, but we must ensure you have her recognition.”

“I have Viserys’ recognition, what more recognition do I need?” The King replied.

Connington went to speak, but Viserys spoke then. “Sire, you must see this from the lords of Westeros view. To them I am the Mad King’s son, but to them Daenerys is Queen Rhaella’s daughter. Our mother was loved throughout the realm. If you get her recognition and her dragons with you, the realm will support you more easily.”

“How do we know this?” Aegon demanded. “Has Robert Baratheon truly died?”

Strickland nodded. “He has, Sire. He has died as has Eddard Stark. It appears the Lord of Winterfell committed treason and tried to put another child of Baratheon’s on the throne. The north is in open rebellion against the throne alongside the Riverlands.”

Viserys laughed at that. “The alliance that put the usurper on the throne is fracturing.”

“Indeed, Your Royal Highness.” Strickland said. “Right now it seems that the entire realm is in revolt. Dorne remains neutral, but the north and Riverlands have broken from the throne, the Vale is harbouring the other Baratheon child, and the Stormlands are at war with themselves.”

Aegon looked at him and said. “Now is the right time to strike west. We can come and challenge the Baratheons right now.”

“Sire, we are only ten thousand.” Connington said.

Viserys spoke then. “And if we travel east, the situation could rapidly change. Better to strike now when Westeros is in chaos and we can present an alternative to the Baratheons. I agree with the King. We must move west.”

The King smiled at him and said. “I want us prepared to move as soon as possible. We shall land in the Stormlands and move from there.”

Strickland nodded. And the meeting broke up, Viserys went back to his tent, and found a note there.

Everything is not okay.

Meet me before we leave.

R.

He looked around, and picked up the note, burned it and then went back to his readings. He had a lot to think about.

Chapter Text

Chapter 42: Trials

 

Renly had donned the cap of justice, for the event today. The trial of Lord Eddard Stark, Lord of Winterfell, Warden of the North and Hand of the King. The King had recused himself from proceedings and given Renly the power to make the final decision as Chief Justiciar of the realm, hence the cap. The thing was old, greying and frayed, something that had existed since the reign of the Old King and in desperate need of replacement. The last time the cap had been donned that he could remember was during the reign of King Aegon the Fortunate, to judge some rebellious lord or the other. Renly cleared his throat, shifted slightly on the Iron Throne, liking how he felt sitting in it and spoke.

“My lords and ladies, we are gathered here today to pass judgement on Eddard Stark, Lord of Winterfell, Warden of the North and Hand of the King. Lord Eddard stands accused of treason.” Renly said clearly as he could. He took another breath then nodded to Janos Slynt the Commander of the City Watch. “Bring him in.”

There was movement as orders were passed down. The great doors to the throne room were thrown open and Eddard Stark was brought, not in chains but escorted by two members of the gold cloaks. He looked haggard and withdrawn. He was brought before the throne and bowed his head. “Chief Justiciar.”

“Lord Eddard, you are accused of learning of a marriage between King Robert Baratheon and Elyssa Waynwood before the King’s marriage to Queen Cersei, upon learning this you also learned that they had a child, the boy named Gendry. Instead of coming to King Joffrey and informing him of this, you kept it a secret. You then had the boy removed from King’s Landing and sent to the Vale, all without consulting the King. When confronted with this you admitted to it, but stated that you had not malicious intentions. Does this remain true?” Renly said.

“It does.” Lord Eddard said. He took a breath and then added. “I did what I did to protect both the King and Gendry. I knew that there were forces within the capital that would seek to use the boy against the King. And I saw no reason for the King to get involved and cause himself undue harm. Gendry was innocent of any crime as well. I thought I was protecting them both.”

Renly looked at the man and tried to fight the emotions he was feeling. Respect to the man for protecting both of his nephews, despite what it obviously cost him, but also anger for putting them all in this position. “You accept that what you did was treason? By all the laws of the realm the moment you learned of this boy and his parentage you should have come to the King and the council, to ensure that suitable measures could be taken.”

Lord Eddard looked at him then and in that gaze, Renly saw something of the man who had relieved the siege of Storm’s End all those years ago. Determined and fierce. More wolf than man. “And tell me, what decisions would have been taken? Gendry would have been seen as a threat to the King’s reign and life. His Arryn blood would’ve made that threat ever more apparent. I would not have the blood of an innocent child on my hands. Or on the King’s.” that got approving murmurs from some at court.

Renly sighed. “The King is not someone who would resort to violence on his own kin. You should know that by how he has treated Edric Storm. Furthermore, as Hand of the King and Lord Protector you could have shaped the response. You did not use your power properly.”

Lord Eddard said nothing for a moment, and briefly, Renly hoped that some sense had gotten into the man’s head. That hope was dashed when the man said. “Tywin Lannister would never have allowed the boy to live. The Queen Dowager would need to have known as would Pycelle and from there it would have gone to Lannister. I could not let him kill another innocent.”

Murmurs at that, Renly sees Cersei bristle, and sees Ser Jaime’s hand go to his sword. Renly ignores them and focuses back on Lord Eddard. “You and I and this court shall never know what might have happened for that choice has been taken from us by your actions. The normal punishment for treason is a trial and then execution, however, the King has seen fit in light of your son’s successes on the battlefield to offer you a second option.”

There were more murmurs at that and Renly saw the Queen Dowager perk up, clearly the King had not told her of this. Lord Eddard looked at him and said. “I am willing to listen to what the King has to offer.”

Renly hid a snort. Instead he straightened up and said. “In return for your recognising your wrong doing and admitting that Gendry Waters is little more than a bastard, King Joffrey will allow you to venture north to the wall and to take the Black. Your son shall be pardoned for his uprising and your other children shall remain here as honoured guests.”

There are even more murmurs at this. Lord Eddard looked shocked. He seemed to hesitate in his response and then he eventually said. “I accept these terms.”

Renly nodded, he rose, then sat down, deciding to extend this little bit of power for a time longer. “I shall need you to say it now.”

Lord Eddard looked surprised but then nodded. “I, Eddard, of House Stark, Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North, do accept and acknowledge my folly in concealing the truth of Gendry Waters parentage, and do hereby renounce him as nothing more than a bastard born of lust. I too acknowledge the King’s generous offer and shall head to the wall.”

Renly nodded. “By order of the King you are to take a ship to Eastwatch by Sea.” He gestured to Ser Arys Oakheart who banged his sword against the ground. “Court is adjourned.” With that Renly got up and left the throne room.

Chapter Text

Chapter 43: Curious Cat

 

Father had boarded the ship for Eastwatch three days ago, Sansa had been there to see him leave, alongside Arya and Jon. She had fought back tears, but Father had told her to be strong and to remain true. She had promised him that she would be, and she intended to stick to that promise. Deep down she knew father had done wrong, but she wished terribly that someone else had taken the fall for what had happened. That bastard blacksmith most especially. She wanted her father here. And yet, she pushed down those thoughts now, as she walked with the King. She was surprised the King had asked her to walk with him, considering everything. But he still seemed like a true King, like something from a song.

“How are you finding everything, Sansa?” The King asked her.

“Well enough, thank you, Joffrey.” Sansa said, knowing that the King preferred her to use his given name. she saw Ser Barristan the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard frown at that, but she paid him no mind. “Though I had something I wanted to ask.” She felt her nerves grow then knowing that this could shape things.

“Go on.” The King replied kindly.

“I was hoping that my brother Jon might be moved to my household. I know that he is a knight now, and has his own minor household, but he is still family and I wish for him to be with myself and Arya.” Sansa said. She knew that she had been unkind to Jon in the past, and with father gone she knew that she needed to be better.

The King looked thoughtful then, they were walking to his private chambers, and Sansa was thankful that nobody else was around, she liked the King and wanted to marry him. but she was also worried about what people would say if they knew where they were going. “I shall speak with Ser Jon and see what he has to say about this. He was the one who requested that he have his own household within the Red Keep.”

That surprised Sansa, she had thought Jon would want to be with them, well not them, but definitely Arya. That he had not was surprising. “Oh, of course.” Sansa said simply.

The King looked at her. “That surprises you?” The King was a warrior but he was also very thoughtful and observant.

“I…Jon and I have never had the best relationship, I had always resented what his presence did to my mother. However, he is family and I want to get to know him better and apologise for how I treated him. He has always been close to Arya though and I would have thought he would want to be with her.” Sansa answered truthfully.

Joffrey hummed at that. “Perhaps he simply thought it was time for him to separate and go his own way. He is a man grown now.”

Sansa nodded, and they continued walking for a time, they stopped before a painting that Sansa had seen before but never quite looked at. She looked at it now. She saw that it was a painting of a woman with black hair, and blue eyes, she wore red and black and she was smiling. Sansa looked at the woman and asked. “Who is she?”

“That is my ancestor, Jocelyn Baratheon, daughter of Lord Rogar Baratheon of Storm’s End and Alyssa Velaryon. Alyssa was of course first marriage to King Aenys the weak, before marrying Lord Rogar. A marriage of love that produced two children. Lady Jocelyn was the youngest child. She was married to Prince Aemon Targaryen, her nephew, and also the heir to King Jaehaerys the Wise. She was a fierce lady, strong minded and stubborn, she also helped her husband over come his nervousness and provided him with wise council. She was one of the finest Princesses the realm has ever had.”

Sansa nodded. “We were never taught about her.” Sansa thought back over her lessons, they’d barely covered the Targaryens beyond the necessary ones.

“Aye, my father decreed that all Targaryens could not be discussed other than the Conqueror and those he liked. Hence why we know so much about the Blackfyres, Daeron the Young Dragon and others like them. He wanted the martial spirit replicated, as well as that of Aegon the Fortunate’s good lessons. I intend to change that.” The King said.

“You intend to open up the lessons for more Targaryens?” Sansa asked surprised. “Why?”

“Because we must know about the history of the Kingdom. I intend to be a different ruler to my father, I will travel the realm, I will get to know the people. I intend to show the people that I know my history and that they know theirs.” Joffrey answered. There was a brief pause, and then he added. “I intend to start with your brother.”

Sansa felt herself tense then. She had been completely surprised when Robb had rebelled, thinking he would not be so foolish, then Princess Myrcella had explained that perhaps he had received wrong information. Cautiously she asked. “What will you speak about?”

The King smiled. “We will talk about the letter he received, alongside how best to repair relations and also how the north can best serve the Kingdom. We will also discuss Gendry.” An air hung over them then as it always did whenever someone mentioned that boy. “I think we will manage to sort things out.”

Sansa smiled as well. “I hope so, too. This fighting does no good to anyone.”

Joffrey laughed. “I had thought you would say something like that.” There was another pause and then the King asked. “Sansa, do you still wish to wed me? I understand if you do not.”

Sansa thought for a moment and then said. “I would like nothing more than to wed you, Joffrey.”

The King smiled then and stopped and turned to look at her. “Then once this is all settled we can start properly planning our wedding.”

Sansa smiled in response. “I would like that.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 44:  Mr Imp

 

Now that Lord Stark was gone off to the Wall, Tyrion knew that he would have to work especially hard to ensure that Baelish was brought to justice. He had his suspicions about how things had gone down with Stark, he did not think that Stark had actively tried to conspire against the King and he knew his nephew had not had any desire to actually send Stark to the wall. Then there was the rebellion by Stark’s son that had not actually ended. Stark’s boy had done well, defeating Uncle Kevan at Whispering Wood and taking him prisoner, and then defeating Lord Marbrand and freeing Riverrun from Siege. Nobody quite knew where Stark was going next, though the King was going to meet him at Harrenhal, so perhaps things would end and they could deal with Stannis. Right now, Tyrion had other things on his mind. Mainly the handling of Baelish and his investigation.

He looked at the doddering old fool before him, he did not think for a moment that Pycelle was really a doddering fool, but he was going to keep the act going for that sake. “Tell me, Grand Maester, where did Baelish come from? I know nothing of him other than that he fostered with the Tullys at Riverrun and that he got into a fight with Brandon Stark. I also know he spread salacious rumours about his relationships with the Tully sisters. But other than that his rise to this post is most silent. You have served five Kings, tell me what you know.”

Pycelle scratched at his beard, Tyrion wondered not for the first time whether that was a beard or not. “Well, my lord, I know Baelish’s grandfather served under Lord Hoster at the Stepstones and that he saved the man’s life. I know that because of that Lord Hoster agreed to foster the man’s grandson. Baelish’s family are originally from Braavos, hence his contacts there. But his rise has been largely on his own merits. He knows how to handle money, how save in the good times and how to spend in the bad times. He quadrupled the intake from revenues in Gulltown four years after Lady Lysa married Lord Arryn. He came to King’s Landing after the previous Master of Coin, Lord Morrigen died. In that time he found ways for the King’s lavious parties and balls to be held without straining the coffers, but of course as time went on he needed to find ways to borrow and so he staked against his own interests.”

“Wait, he staked against himself?” Tyrion asked surprised, either Baelish had gotten over confident or this was something else.

“Not himself, but his interests.” Pycelle said. When Tyrion didn’t get it, the man elaborated. “He has investments in the Iron Bank so he staked against them and then got the capital needed for the loans the King needed.”

Tyrion thought about that and then asked. “Do you think that is why he was so insistent on loaning from the bank instead of from lords who would not dare question the King?”

“Without a doubt, my lord.” Pycelle. “That way he could control the flow of information both to the council and the bank. He is playing a dangerous game.”

“And what of his own businesses? The brothels, how did he come to get those?” Tyrion asked. He had resisted the urge to visit them, for he had Shae now, and he did not want to make that anymore complicated.

“He bought out the previous owners with his salary and made sure that they could say nothing against him.” Pycelle said and then the man added. “He also ensured none of the lords of the court could say anything against him.”

“Blackmail then.” Tyrion said, unsurprised. King’s Landing was a nest of vipers. He decided he would continue pursuing this line of investigation once he had gotten a clearer handle on Baelish’s papers. “What about this whole situation with Lord Stark? You handle the rookery, did someone tamper with the ravens?”

Here Pycelle shifted. “My lord, I did not send that letter. I was requested elsewhere by the Queen Dowager. I gave the duty to the newly arrived maester, Yandel. He handled things.”

That surprised Tyrion, he had thought Pycelle would want to handle something of this grave importance. “And where is this Yandel from?”

Pycelle looked around and then said. “The Vale, my lord. From Gulltown. His father was some merchant, his mother a Gulltown Arryn.”

Tyrion thought on that and what Pycelle was implying. “Very well, I shall keep that in mind, thank you.” With that Tyrion rose and walked out of the room, as he was making his way back to the Tower of the Hand-where he had temporary lodgings until his father appeared- he spotted Varys simply stood there waiting for him. He walked over to the eunuch and said. “Lord Varys.”

The eunuch seemed in no mind for chit chat, instead he simply said. “Yandel is not the man you are looking for.”

Tyrion raised an eyebrow. “Then who is?”

“Someone named Glyadyn.” Varys said.

Tyrion laughed. “You mean the man who served as King Aegon the Fortunate’s maester at Summerhall? I am afraid that wouldn’t be possible.”

“No, not him.” Lord Varys said, his voice deeper than normal. “His son. He is within the rookery, he tends the ravens. Go and speak with him. Ask him about Elyssa Waynwood, and see what he says. Or doesn’t say.”

The eunuch went to leave, and Tyrion called out. “Why are you helping me?”

The eunuch smiled sadly. “For the good of the realm.” With that he disappeared.

Tyrion continued walking and just as he was about to enter his rooms, a guard came and found him. “My lord hand, your presence is requested.”

“By who?” Tyrion asked.

“the Queen Dowager.” The guard said.

Tyrion hurried over to his sister’s rooms and found her there with Jaime, holding a letter in her hand. She looked as if she had been crying. “What is it?” He demanded.

“Eddard Stark’s ship was sunk by pirates.” Cersei said.

“Shit.” Tyrion swore.

“It gets worse.” Jaime said then.

“How?” Tyrion asked.

“The pirates flew Lannister colours.” Jaime said.

“Fuck.” Tyrion replied knowing that war was going to heat up.

Chapter Text

Chapter 45: Too Old To Die Young

 

Ned stood out on the deck, watching as the waves moved and bobbed around him. The ship he was on, the Windproud, was one of the bigger ships in King’s Landing, he had often seen her when he had visited the docks during his time as Hand. Her captain was a man named Ser Steffon Storm. He claimed to be a bastard Baratheon, from where Ned did not know, though Ser Steffon insisted his father was Ser Harbert Baratheon, the uncle of Lord Steffon Baratheon. Ned was not sure he believed him. Either way, the man had black hair and blue eyes, was broad of shoulder and had a booming laugh. He was like an older version of Robert. It made Ned’s heart ache to think of his friend then.

They occasionally spoke and joked about things. Ser Steffon did not like the Lannisters, but supported the King on the throne, as he called King Joffrey. He had a lot of thoughts did Ser Steffon and he was not afraid to say them. “We should attack Dragonstone and remove the pretender’s wife and daughter’s heads. That would teach him.” was something he said frequently, especially after they learned of the raids Stannis had enacted on the Stormlands and the Reach.  Another one of his favourite things to say was. “Targaryens would be bad for business, as would Stannis. I know him, met him a few times. He was a fucking idiot.”

Ned rarely said anything during those conversations, content to simply let the man talk and then he would disappear to see to his ship. Ned was standing now, thinking of his wife and their children. He wondered how Catelyn had reacted to the news that he would take the black. He missed her terribly, and he missed Winterfell. He hoped she knew how much he loved her. he regretted doing what he had done. He should have simply gone and told the King what he had found and not judged him for being half Lannister. That was something he would have to ponder for the rest of his life. He hoped Robb had put aside his sword and taken the path of peace. They need not fight for his mistakes.

“Still mulling over what you had done?” a voice said, pulling him out of his thoughts.

Ned turned and saw that Ser Wylis Snow, a man from the north, the bastard of Lord Wyman Manderly was stood at his side. Ser Wylis had joined Ser Steffon’s ship after some argument with his lord father. “Aye.” Ned said simply, he liked Ser Wylis he was brown of hair, long of face, some might even take him for a Stark.

“No point thinking about it now, my lord. What is done is done. All one can hope for is that those you have left behind have some sense.” Ser Wylis said.

“I hope they do. I do not want to think on what will happen to realm if they do not.” Ned said, though he knew well enough what would happen. War and bloodshed.

“Aye.” Ser Wylis replied. There was a brief pause then the man asked. “Tell me something, my lord. What were you thinking when you kept the truth about Gendry Waters from the King?” there was a pause then Ser Wylis spoke again. “I do not mean to chastise you, my lord. I simply think that you were not thinking properly.”

Ned nodded. “You are right. I was not. I saw the King, and I saw Tywin Lannister where I should have seen the King and the boy he was. That was my fault, I let my bias against his grandfather colour my judgement of him. I did not judge things properly.”

“If you could do it again, what would you do?” Ser Wylis asked.

Briefly, Ned wondered what the point of this was, but then he sighed and said. “I would tell the King the truth before some idiot leaked it out to him.” He still didn’t know who had told the King. For he had not entrusted this knowledge to anyone but himself. He wondered if it had been a set up.

“What if I told you there was a chance to do just that?” Ser Wylis said.

Ned was about to ask him what he meant when the lookout called out. “Ship ahead. More than one, flying disparate colours!”

There was a rush then, and soon enough Ned found a sword in his hand, it was not Ice, for that had been left in King’s Landing on orders of the King. Ser Wylis was gone looking for something else, and Ser Steffon had emerged. He had a looking glass to his eye. “Pirates.” He said.

“This close to Westeros?” Ned exclaimed.

“They’ve gotten bolder.” The man replied. He removed the eye glass and then said. “Man the decks, prepare for war.”

The ships got closer, it became apparent that they were only going to stand their ground and fight. They clearly wanted something, what it was Ned did not know. The first barrages of arrows being loosed meant he moved back from the far end of the ship and moved to the centre. He watched as the ship’s crew barked out orders to one another and fired back at the enemy. The pirates were four ships strong. They surrounded their ship and then two ships docked on. Ned moved to meet the challenge.

The first man was cut down easily enough, the second put up more of a fight, but he too was cut down easily enough. Ned then moved onto the third man. This one fought harder. Ned took blows to his chest, blood came forth then, for he did not wear armour. He danced around, took a blow to his knee and winced. But then the man was cut down by Ser Steffon. They danced around one another, taking down enemies as they could. Ned felt rusty, he had not fought properly in some time. But still it was memory from his muscle that did much of the work.

Ned saw more of them coming, he saw Ser Wylis disappear under the waves, his body soon floating up only to disappear. Another man who Ned knew to be Jon Storm was cut down and left to bleed out crying for a mother who would never know he had died. More and more of the crew were killed. Soon it was just Ned and Ser Steffon left. They both fought hard and Ser Steffon took down some five men before he too was taken down. Ned was left alone to fight the enemy. He stared at them and demanded. “What do you want?!”

None replied instead they advanced. Ned took down one of the men, wounded another, before he felt them overwhelm him. He took their blows, was hit hard and he struggled. Fighting as hard as he could to prevent himself being overwhelmed, but it did no good, he was simply stuck there struggling through the blinding pain. His leg was killing him. Everything pained. He groaned, then felt the blow come.

He awoke some time later, he saw the Windproud burning, he saw another ship in the distance turn its sails and return to King’s Landing. He looked up and winced at the pain in his leg. Before his eyes shut from pain he saw the sails on the ship, they were red with a black three headed dragon on them crossed with a three headed red dragon.

Chapter Text

Chapter 46: Something In The Air

 

Cersei looked around the council chamber, she saw the tired of faces of the men before and knew that they were in for a fiery session. The King had hurried back from a planned meeting with Robb Stark after a rider had been dispatched to tell him of Ned Stark’s death. He looked as if he had not slept whatsoever. Her brother Tyrion looked as though he had slept well, but that he had a hangover, he was serving as hand until father could come to the capital and that looked a very distant prospect. Lord Renly looked tired and withdrawn, clearly having to hold onto the positions of both Master of Laws and Master of Ships was draining him. Varys and Baelish looked positively perky. That raised her suspicions. Pycelle looked dead.

“I have spoken to the members of the Dreadnought about exactly what they saw.” Cersei began. The Dreadnought  was the ship that had been tailing the Windproud to ensure Lord Eddard made it to Eastwatch securely. “They confirm what they said in their letter. That things were fine until five ships surrounded the Windproud, all of them were flying Lannister banners. The lion on crimson. They were not sure what to do for they had not been told that such a thing would happen. Therefore, when the ships began attacking the Windproud they were torn over what to do. They did not have the capability to fight and therefore they stayed and watched. They confirm that the ship was burned down and that nobody left that ship alive.” She paused and saw the King shift slightly. She knew he cared for Stark’s daughter and wanted to marry her but whether he would be able to now was in the air.

“Why would there be Lannister ships patrolling that far stretch of sea near the Vale?” the King asked. “Lord Tywin would not send ships so far away from Lannisport with Balon Greyjoy stirring.”

Cersei hummed in agreement, knowing that their father was paranoid about Balon Greyjoy after the last rebellion. “I think that perhaps they were a rogue operation, Sire. Either that or someone paid sellsails some good money to take Lannister sails.” She looked at Tyrion who looked back at her and she knew they were both thinking the same thing.

“But why?” the King demanded. “And how? It is not as if it is easy to make these sort of sails. I know the cloth that is used for Lannister sails, it costs a lot of money to make them and to buy them. Not something anyone could just afford.”

“Because they wish to sow discord and enmity between us and the Starks, Sire.” Tyrion said. “They wish to keep us at one another’s throats to ensure that they benefit.”

“Who is this they?” the King demanded.

“The Targaryens, Sire.” Cersei said. “We have received reports that they are marshalling an army.” She looked at Varys then and the eunuch nodded and spoke.

“Yes, they are. It is my understanding that Daenerys Targaryen has gotten ships and has also gotten an army numbering some forty thousand strong. She is preparing to leave Meeren it seems.” Varys said.

“How would she know about Stark being transported to the Wall though?” The King demanded.

“She no doubt still has adherents here, Sire.” Varys said. “I have done my best to locate them and I think I have found them.”

“Then torture them and have their heads chopped off.” The King said simply.

Cersei spoke then. “You could try to meet with Robb Stark still, the end is not in sight, Sire. After all, once we get the information from these people, I am sure that he will be amenable to listening.”

Pycelle spoke then. “I am not sure that is true, Your Majesty.” The man opened a letter. “This came this morning. Shortly after he received word of his father’s death, he was proclaimed King of the North and the Trident by the Northern lords and the Riverlords. It seems he has had enough of being lied to by the throne.”

Cersei closed her eyes then knowing more war and bloodshed was coming. “Lied to?!” The King all but roared. “I have been nothing but honest with him.” there was another pause and then the King continued. “If it is war he wants then it is war he will get. Send word to my grandsire, tell him to raise the banner of the red lion. Robb Stark shall get no peace from me.”

“What of the Stark girls and their brother?” Cersei asked then. “They remain our guests here. Do you intend to wed Lady Sansa?”

Here the King’s face softened, and Cersei breathed a sigh of relief, content to know her son had not completely lost his heart. “I do not think I can marry her now. Her brother is a traitor. However, she still has three other brothers. One of whom is within my control right now.”

Cersei looked at him and then asked. “What are you proposing, Sire?”

“That I legitimise Jon Snow, and give him Winterfell and then send him northward to win the support of those who are opposed to this idiotic plan of Robb Stark’s.” the King said.

Renly spoke then. “Sire, that would be unwise.”

“Why?” the King demanded, and then he answered his own question. “Because he is a bastard and cannot hope to be trusted so long as his two other brothers are alive.” There was a pause and then he continued. “Very well, send out the attainder for Robb Stark, but emphasise that his brothers are not attainted.” Pycelle nodded.

Renly then spoke. “I can also look into legal ways to undermine his legitimacy, Sire?”

“Do it.” the King said.

Renly added something else to his words. “Sire, there is something else. There have been reports from the Marcher lords of a man calling himself the Vulture King. It is said he is raiding border villages and taking prisoners and loot. I have written to Prince Doran about this and he claims that he is not supporting the man, but he has also not sent men to deal with him.”

“Why is this the first I am hearing about him?” The King demanded.

“My apologies Sire, but this is the first time I have had an opportunity to mention it.” Renly said contritely. “Do you wish for me to handle it?”

The King shook his head. “No, I shall. Pycelle summon the lords of the Crownlands, we shall hunt this vulture and execute him.”

Cersei spoke then before she could stop herself. “Are you sure that is wise? With everything that is happening now?”

“I must go, and defend my Kingdom. Lord Tywin is in the Riverlands, he can handle things there. I shall bring this Vulture King’s head back. And then remind Doran Martell about the oath he swore.” The King said. Cersei bowed her head but internally she screamed in fear.

Chapter Text

Chapter 47: Scanning The Crowd

 

Myrcella took a breath. Things had gotten ever so complicated since Lord Eddard had decided to be a noble fool and protect Joffrey from the sins that their father had committed. Now Lord Eddard was dead and his firstborn son had declared himself a King. Joffrey was fuming, Myrcella knew that she wondered how he had stopped himself from hurting Lady Sansa, perhaps he did actually love her? Myrcella remembered once as a child when Joffrey had gutted a cat in anger because of something or the other. She and Tommen had helped cover it up for him and then he had changed. Now she worried for them all, for Joffrey was King and he would soon not need a regent.

Lady Sansa was there before her now and so she found herself calling out. “My lady, I am very sorry for your loss.”

Lady Sansa looked at her and nodded. She looked like a ghost, wandering around lost and unsure of herself. “Thank you, Princess.”

“Lord Eddard was a good man.” Myrcella said trying to find the words to say something different to what half the court must have said to her already. “If you want to spend some time with us, you are more than welcome to!”

Lady Sansa looked at her and then at her ladies and something dark passed over her face. “I thank you for the offer, Princess, but I have something I must see to in my household.” The lady curtseyed and then hurried away.

When she was out of earshot, Myrielle whispered. “I feel so very sorry for her. It cannot be easy, being here, with her brother committing treason so blatantly.”

“Has the King said whether he intends to marry her or not?” Cerenna asked.

“Oh don’t be daft, the King cannot marry the sister of a traitor!” Jeyne Westerling said, speaking with a clarity that Myrcella had rarely heard from her.

“He can if he makes her bastard brother legitimate and Lord of Winterfell.” Barbara said then.

They kept walking, Myrcella however noticed that the temperature seemed to have dropped several degrees. Cerenna whispered. “You’d like that wouldn’t you Barbara.” Myrcella closed her eyes briefly, she had forgotten all about Cerenna’s crush on Jon Snow, and how he reciprocated her feelings. “To be Lady of Winterfell again. Do you think the King will allow that to happen, now that your father has sided with Stark?”

Barbara was not one to be cowed. “My father is doing his duty, he has learned all he can and will soon give that all to the King.” Myrcella did not know whether that was true or not, perhaps Joffrey had offered him the land he had long desired.

“You keep telling yourself that.” Cerenna said.

“You’re just jealous because you won’t ever get to marry him.” Barbara snapped back. That much was true, Cerenna was a Lannister and her fate rested with what Lord Tywin decided, he would not waste her on Jon Snow, no matter how much the King favoured him.

There was a long pause then as tension ran through their little group, then Margaery broke it by asking. “So, Jeyne, has Prince Tommen asked you out on any more walks?” Almost immediately the tension was diffused then as they all listened in intently.

“He has!” Jeyne replied smiling. Myrcella had come to distrust that smile, she did not think Jeyne actually liked her brother, but was rather using him to gain power. “We walked around the Red Keep yesterday and talked about the history of the Westerlands, it was really interesting.”

Barbara snorted. “Truly? Did you find it interesting?”

Something shifted then, Myrcella saw it as some sort of mask descending and then it was gone. “I think it was good to see the Prince so enthused. He has seemed so down recently.”

“So, do you think he will propose to you?” Margaery asked, if Myrcella didn’t know her friend she would wonder what in the seven hells she was doing.

“I…I do not know.” Jeyne replied.

“Oh he must do, it’s clear for everyone to see that he loves you.” Myrielle said, a wistful note in her voice.

“You think so?” Jeyne asked, sounding unsure, though Myrcella knew that was a lie.

Before any of them could say anything, Ser Barristan Selmy of the Kingsguard appeared and said. “Lady Jeyne, the King requires your presence.” Lady Jeyne looked at them all in surprise and then followed the Lord Commander.

Once she was gone, Barbara asked. “What do you think the King wants her for?”

“I do not know.” Myrcella replied. “But whatever it is, I hope it sends her far away from Tommen.”

“You do not think she has his best interests?” Cerenna asked sounding surprised.

“No. I think she is a power hungry girl, and the sooner she is gone the better.” Myrcella said.

“I agree.” Margaery said with an unusual fierceness.

Chapter Text

Chapter 48: Burning

 

His entire life, Stannis had been the second son, the second at everything. Robert had outshone him and Stannis had for a time been content to allow that to happen, it was only fair after all, for Robert was the firstborn son and the heir. If he didn’t shine their future was doomed. But then Robert had become King and had denied Stannis his rightful place as Lord of Storm’s End. He had then given Stannis Dragonstone, and fucked Delena Florent on his bed, he had also squandered the gifts that the gods had given him. Becoming a fat oaf, though he had tried to change before the end. Stannis had watched all of that and reached his decision.

Now here he was, on the Stepstones, waiting and planning. Their raids had gone well, they had taken enough from the fools of the Stormlands and the Reach to be able sustain themselves for some time, alongside the toll as well. The red woman had come from Dragonstone, sneaking out as if she were some sort of vagabond. Davos had done the trick, going through the blockade and into the castle. The smuggle had not liked it but he had done it all the same.

Stannis had dismissed his lords, leaving just the red woman and he alone. He looked at her and said. “I have done as you suggested. I have made the Stepstones my base, I have raided along the Reach and the Stormlands. And now I see nothing but a blockade ahead of me. Joffrey is not such a fool to allow Dragonstone to remain unchallenged, and yet none of the lords have come as you said they would.”

The red woman was calm when she replied. “Patience, my King. They will come in due time. The flames have already been proven true already.”

“You mean the Vulture King?” Stannis asked. “You truly think Joffrey returning with some forty skulls is going to make men balk at serving him?” Stannis snorted then, he had heard the tales from those they had captured. The boy was being seen as the Conqueror come again.

“Do you not think he will subside into more aggression and destruction?” The red woman asked. “Now he has tasted the scent of blood, who knows what he will want.”

Stannis thought on that. He remembered Joffrey when he was a boy, there was a lot of grit and anger in the man then, when he had been a child and had gutted that cat. Oh Myrcella and Tommen had tried to cover for him and Stannis did not think Robert had ever found out. But Stannis had. He had made it his duty to find out as much information as possible to undermine Joffrey and his siblings. “Let us say that he does go down the riverside and become another Maegor, that does not mean that he will be seen as weak. There are some at that court who would probably value him more for that.” Tywin Lannister for certain.

“Then perhaps the time has come for you to show them all why you are the better bet for the throne?” Melisandre said, coming to wrap her arms around him.

“With the Targaryens coming and more things stirring in the north? Yes.” Stannis said. “If I can convince Robb Stark to bend the knee we shall bring the alliance back together that won Robert his throne.”

“You will need to make the case a strong one, Sire. Robb Stark is a stubborn boy.” Melisandre said kissing his neck.

Stannis sighed in pleasure then. “I will need to take Storm’s End. I shall need the armies that are rightfully mine to fight for me. And for that I shall need to remove Renly from the board. He will not bend the knee and no offer of the heirship will satisfy him.”

“Then you know what you must do, Sire.” Melisandre whispered against his ear sending chills down his spine.

Stannis thought about protesting that, then decided against it. “I will give my consent to this, one on condition.”

“Name it, Sire.” The red woman said.

Stannis turned round, and threw the woman against the table. “You will give me a son.”

“I will, Sire.” The red woman replied.

Stannis moved to her and began kissing her, soon he lost himself to his passions and his desire for an heir.

Chapter Text

Chapter 49: Council Of Something

 

Renly took a breath, and fought down the urge to sigh. He seemed to be doing that a lot nowadays. Sighing and fighting the urge to sigh. The war was taking a toll on him, he looked at his nephew and saw just how thin he was and knew that the war was taking a toll on all of them. He drank, and then he decided to speak.

“Well, the King has returned, the Vulture King is dead, and his bandits now rest as skulls in the throne room. So, the realm knows the King means business.” He tried to make it a jape but it came out strangled. He’d been horrified by how the King had handled the fight.

Myrcella was the one who spoke. “You know I heard the rumours. That when word reached Riverrun, or wherever Robb Stark is now, that he simply remarked that he was justified in his rebellion because of how the King had treated those who surrendered.”

“They were traitors.” Tommen said. His eyes haunted, he too had been there during the hunt. “They deserved to die.”

“To die as they did though?” Myrcella asked. “Some of them were no younger than you, brother.”

Tommen looked at Myrcella and Renly saw the haunted look in his eyes, and Renly knew, he just knew his nephew was relieving the scene over and over again. Before Tommen could reply, Renly spoke. “It is what it is now. We need to concentrate on other things.” He looked at Tommen and asked. “How is Jon Snow doing?”

Ned Stark’s bastard being close friends with Tommen was a saving grace, for it meant that the King had not targeted him. not that he had targeted the Stark girls either, but still. Tommen sighed. “He is well enough. As well as can be expected. I think he thinks the King will change his mind one day and try and have him killed, or offer him Winterfell. I am not sure which would be worse for him.”

“Legitimising him might actually get Stark to the table though.” Myrcella said. “It would make things complicated for Stark, as then the whole thing of which one of Eddard Stark’s sons do they support will be raised by the northern lords, the one leading them through a death campaign, or the one who has the support of the throne.”

“I do not think he would accept it.” Tommen said. “He is loyal, but he knows what becoming a trueborn Stark would do. I do not think he wants that. Hells, he barely accepted my offer of joining my household.”

Renly thought on that and then said. “I think perhaps we had best consider whether or not Snow would be better served elsewhere. The more his brother does well on the battlefield, the tenser things are going to get. The King won’t harm Lady Sansa or Lady Arya because he is love with Lady Sansa, but that says nothing of Jon Snow. That Snow looks like Eddard Stark will only make things worse.”

“I agree.” Myrcella said. “But where do we send him?”

Renly expected Tommen to protest, but instead he said. “Tyrosh. The Archon is a vassal of the throne but has done nothing to actually help. Send Jon to Tyrosh. The King will accept that. He still respects Jon for being the one to deliver the Archon to father.”

Renly nodded agreeing. “You should mention it to the King then.” Tommen nodded.

The conversation changed then as Myrcella mentioned something that Renly had suspected would be approaching. “Stannis has moved away from the Stepstones and toward the Stormlands, do you think he will go for Storm’s End?”

It was phrased as a question, but Renly knew it was not. They all did. “Yes. He has wanted Storm’s End from the moment Robert placed the crown on his head. That I was given it, is the reason why he has never liked me, or any of us. With that red witch of his whispering in his ear alongside the Florents he will go.”

“Then what will you do?” Myrcella asked.

“I will go and defend my home.” Renly answered simply. “Loras will come with me as will the Stormlords.” They’d come with him to court at the invitation of the King, ten thousand Stormlanders in the capital, he was surprised they’d not destroyed half the city by now.

“I will come with you.” Tommen said then unexpectedly.

“No.” Renly replied.

“I am your Prince, and I am your heir, I will go.” Tommen replied stubbornly.

“It is exactly because you are my heir and my prince that you will not accompany me. If something happens to me, you will still be alive there to continue the fight. If you come, Stannis will kill us both.” Renly said simply.

“Why? Why should I let you go and put yourself in harms way, whilst I just sit here, doing nothing?” Tommen demanded, sounding angry.

“Because you are my Prince, and you must remain alive. You are more use alive than dead.” Renly said.

His nephew glared at him, but then his shoulders slumped. “Fine.”

“Once Stannis is done with, then you can visit Storm’s End, I promise you.” Renly said, knowing deep down he might never get to keep that promise.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 50: Lady of Winterfell, No More

 

Catelyn had done her best to keep Winterfell and the north secure, first when Ned had gone south, and then after his arrest and death, when their son Robb had done. And for a time she had done a reasonable job, she had ordered Ramsay Snow executed for his maltreatment of Lady Hornwood, and had issued an edict in Robb’s name to confiscate the land which Roose Bolton had granted his bastard son, many years ago. She had strengthened the defences of Winterfell and the central north when word had come of the Ironborn raids. She had asked Wyman Manderly to develop the northern fleet in preparation, though she knew they were on the wrong side of the north.

What she couldn’t have prepared for, though she should’ve known was that Theon Greyjoy, her son’s closest friend and her ward for so long would betray her son. Theon had arrived in Winterfell in the dead of the night, with twenty men, using his knowledge of the castle to take it. Some had resisted and they had been killed, but the killing had stopped when Catelyn had surrendered. Now she slept in her chambers, whilst Theon slept in Ned’s. The insult rankled her, but she remained quiet to keep her sons safe. She knew the boy could not hold Winterfell for long, she just needed to buy some time.

Theon had summoned her to his chambers, to Ned’s chambers, he stood there wearing green and some other garish colour. She curtseyed before him. “Lord Greyjoy.”

Theon’s mouth turned up then. “Sit.” He commanded, and so she did.

“What did you wish of me?” She asked.

“I wanted you to know that Torrhen’s Square has fallen back into the hands of my people. Rodrik Cassel now has Ironborn to his flank as well as to his forward.” Greyjoy said a hint of a smile crossing his face.

Catelyn kept her face blank. “I see.” There was a pause then, as she waited to see if the boy would say anything else, and then she asked. “Why have you done this, Theon? You were raised by Lord Eddard and I, we treated you as family, our son Robb was your closest friend, he treated you as a brother. Why have you decided to abandon that? For someone who never wrote to you once?”

She could tell that she had struck a nerve, for Theon’s face shifted into one of anger. “I was not a son to you or Lord Stark, I was a hostage. I knew the moment my father did anything to cause displeasure to the throne I would be dead. Do you honestly think I could feel like I belonged with that knowledge hanging over my head?” Greyjoy laughed. “Come now, Lady Catelyn, you are not an idiot. As for Robb?” here something crossed his face, a mix of regret and sadness. “I did what I needed to do to survive.”

“And do you think that your father will thank you for this?” She asked, gesturing around the room. “Taking Winterfell when it is so far from the sea.”

“He will.” Theon said insistently. “Hold Winterfell and you hold the north. Maester Luwin was the one who taught me that.”

“And yet your father has not sent anymore men to help you protect it.” Catelyn said. She saw the boy shift before her, knew he was uncomfortable. “You must know that the men here who are not yours, do not like you nor trust you. That with Ser Rodrik approaching you cannot hope to hold Winterfell for much longer.”

“I have you and your two sons. I have Robb’s heirs. Should Ser Rodrik threaten anything I will kill them.” Greyjoy said, though not with much conviction.

“I do not think you mean that.” Catelyn said. Something shifted and then she asked. “And what do you intend to do with my sons? Will you keep them here or flea?”

“I will not flee.” Theon barked.

Catelyn sighed. “Then you will die here, along and scared. That is not something I want for you, Theon. And I am sure that is not something that Robb would want for you either. You can still surrender. Put down your weapon, and you can join the Night’s Watch.”

“No.” Theon replied, his teeth bared. “I will not surrender.”

“Then you would rather die? For a man who cares nothing for you?” Catelyn asked.

She felt the slap, and hid her smile, she knew she was getting through to him. Theon looked horrified at what he’d done. “I am his heir, his only surviving son. Of course he cares for me!”

“Then why has he left you here alone?” Catelyn asked.

Theon looked as if he wanted to scream, and it seemed he was going to, but then a horn sounded in the distance. He looked at her then, a grin on his face. “That sound my lady is the sound of my faith.”

Catelyn felt dread settle in her stomach, she had heard that horn before. “Oh, Theon what have you done?” She whispered.

Chapter Text

Chapter 51: An Unknown King

 

 

It was a strange thing. Knowing that he was the trueborn son of Robert Baratheon and that that made him the rightful King of Westeros. He had no idea how to really feel. If he were to admit to himself, Gendry would admit to being both relieved, confused and angry. Relieved that he was not just some nobody, confused because he was not just some nobody and angry because well, he was not just some nobody. His entire life had been snatched from him. Here he was in the Vale, learning things he had never thought he would have to learn. He took a breath and looked at Tobho Mott.

The man had changed from his shabby clothing into a lord’s attire. “So, tell me, Your Majesty, what is it that you have learned during your lessons?”

Maester Rodrik, the maester of Runestone was the one teaching him his letters and histories, the Lord of Runestone, Lord Yohn Royce had sworn his sword to Gendry as had half the lords of the Vale as well. “I have learned the truth behind what some call the Dying of Dragons, that it was the hubris of the Targaryens that led to their downfall. I have learned that the Vale of Arryn does not have enough food to last through a winter without something drastic happening. And I have learned that Robert Arryn’s mother is a coward.” That was true, though not what he had learned in his lessons.

“And what would you do to change the situation of food within the Vale?” Tobho asked him.

“I would open up negotiations with the Riverlands, and end the isolation we have put on ourselves. I would agree to a three percent tariff rate with King Robb Stark, and I would also approach Braavos for a loan to buy food from other regions within Westeros. I would also invest in the newer technologies coming from the Reach that would increase food production.” Gendry said.

Tobho Mott nodded. “And with Lady Lysa ruling the Vale in the name of her son, how would you get her to do this, considering she has not budged from the Eyrie, despite her nephew and brother being at war with the Lannisters? That she has isolated the Vale completely despite this not being in our interests?”

Gendry noticed the use of the word our and wondered at it.  He thought a moment and then said. “I would remind her that just because she has isolated the Vale now does not mean that she and we will be ignored. Tywin Lannister will not forget that the Vale did not ride to aid the boy sitting on the throne now. I will remind her that Tywin Lannister has the fleet of the Seven Kingdoms at his beck and call and that Gulltown will burn. I will tell her that her son will not be safe.”

“And if instead of listening to you, she shuts herself up and does nothing, what then?” Tobho pushed.

“I will have to act with the Lords Declarant.” Gendry said.

Tobho Mott looked at him for a moment and said nothing, then he replied. “Good. Now, tell me, do you think that Lady Lysa has the potential to actually bring about some sense to her ramblings?”

Gendry thought about that. He had met Lady Lysa twice, once at a ball to celebrate her son’s nameday and once at a formal tourney where he had been knighted, after defeating Harry the Heir in a melee. “She seems as though she is terrified. I do not quite know what to make of her. I do not think she was always like that, but I do think that with her husband dead, and with her son so frail she does not want anything to do with the troubles coming from the south. But I do think some part of her knows she has to act. Otherwise she would not have entrusted three hundred men to her uncle.” The Blackfish had greatly impressed Gendry, he was a knight out of legend.

“And how would you get her to see your point of view?” Tobho asked.

Gendry was about to respond that he had already answered this question, but then he thought about it and said. “I would bring her to Gulltown to meet the people there.”

Tobho Mott nodded. “And what would you do when you are there?”

“Make her meet the people. Let her see those who are affected by her irrational choices. The men and women struggling to make ends meet, the girls and boys dying from colds and fevers. They are all her son’s people. If she does not care for them then she does not deserve to be in power.” Gendry said strongly, he had long felt this way, and would continue to feel this way.

Tobho said nothing, he merely looked at Gendry then eventually he said. “You are a lot like your mother.”

“I am?” Gendry asked.

“You are.” Tobho replied. “She too would not want the people to go suffering, she too would have made Lady Lysa see the things that she would not want to see. She always had a good heart.”

Something in the man’s face made Gendry ask. “How did you know her so well?”

Tobho sighed. “I am your mother’s brother. I am Jasper Waynwood.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 52: Suspicious Minds

 

Viserys walked out of his tent and made his way through the campsite. He knew he had spent a lot of time travelling through such things growing up, usually with Daenerys as his companion, but now his sister was gone, off making herself some sort of conquering queen with dragons. He thought back to the eggs he had taken and wondered how he might get them to hatch. Ideally, he would want to ally with Daenerys, but he agreed with Aegon they could not simply go hat in hand to her. Aegon was to be King. He found Rhaenys tent, waited for the guards to announce him and then entered.

He felt his breath leave him slightly as he looked at her. She looked beautiful, her hair down, earrings in, and a slight tiredness about her, that truly made her look beautiful. “Princess.” He said bowing.

“Oh come off it.” Rhaenys replied. He smiled and straightened. “How did the meeting go?”

Viserys sighed, he grabbed a cup of wine and took a sip. “Arguments as usual. Connington and Strickland want to meet with Daenerys and ally together, and marry Aegon to her. Aegon wants to go straight off into Westeros to make a play for the throne. He thinks, and I agree with him, that if he has some conquests behind him when Daenerys does eventually come to Westeros it will make his suite more impressive.”

“Do you think she will come to Westeros though?” Rhaenys asked. “I have heard tell that she prefers Essos.”

Viserys thought on that. “I think she will come to Westeros. Eventually. She will feel it in her bones. It is all I used to speak about to her. And, Daenerys never did have a mind of her own.”

Rhaenys raised an eyebrow. “Was that by your design?”

He heard the accusation in her tone and shook his head. “No, I always did my best to encourage her to think for herself. But she was always biddable. I did not know how to change that. So, I did not bother.”

“So, Jon Connington will get his biddable little wife for Aegon.” Rhaenys said sounding bitter.

“Biddable?” Viserys replied. “No. Daenerys won’t be biddable, but she will come.” He blinked a moment and then asked. “What was it you meant in your note? You said all is not what it seems.”

Rhaenys sighed. “Sit.” And so he sat. as did she. Then she took his hand and spoke. “I think that Aegon is not Aegon.”

“What do you mean?” Viserys asked.

“Do you ever remember seeing him?” Rhaenys asked. “I was too young to remember much of that time, but do you remember anything?”

“I remember that he had a little mark above his right eye, where something had happened during his presentation to Father.” Viserys whispered. He remembered Father in his madness barking about Dornish smells.

“That mark was written down in the book by Yandel.” Rhaenys said.

“Yandel?” Viserys asked.

Rhaenys handed him the book. “It’s a book about the history of Westeros and Essos. Read the page about Father and Mother.”

Viserys did as he was bid and read aloud. “On the seventh day of the third month of the 281st year after Aegon’s Conquest, Princess Elia was delivered of a baby boy, who bore a slight dragon shaped scar above his right eye. The Prince of Dragonstone named this boy Aegon after the conqueror.” Viserys looked up and asked. “What of it?”

“Have you seen such a scar on our Aegon?” Rhaenys asked.

At first, Viserys wanted to affirm that he had, but then he thought about it and realised. “No, I have not.” He paused and then continued. “Do you think that is enough to say that Aegon is not Aegon?”

“I do not know.” Rhaenys said. “I just find it hard to believe that Mother would willingly part herself from her children and not want to come.”

Viserys put down his cup of wine and took Rhaenys’ other hand. “Your mother loved you, Rhaenys. She loved you more than anything. She would have come if she had thought it possible, but your protection was of the greatest importance.”

“Then why was Aegon switched?” Rhaenys asked. “Why were we not allowed to meet you before?” Viserys went to respond and then his niece continued. “I do not buy Connington’s story. If he was able to keep us hidden for that long, he could’ve hidden you and Daenerys as well.”

Viserys didn’t have an answer to that. Instead, he asked. “So, what do we do now?”

“We can’t do anything now. But we have to keep our eyes open.” Rhaenys said. She also added. “Hells, I might not even be who I think I am.”

He saw the tears come into her eyes then and kissed her hands. “No, you are Rhaenys. I know.”

“How?” She asked.

“Because I just do.” Viserys said, he would know if she were not Rhaenys. He was sure of it.

“That’s not the only problem.” Rhaenys said.

“What more is there?” Viserys asked.

“Father had a son by Lyanna Stark.” Rhaenys responded.

“How do you know?” Viserys replied.

“I overheard Connington speaking about it with Strickland. They want to bring him to the fold.” Rhaenys said.

Viserys thought for a moment and then it clicked. “Stark’s bastard?”

“I think so.” Rhaenys said.

“We need to get him before they do.” Viserys said.

“How?” Rhaenys asked.

“I have a friend in Tyrosh.” Viserys said.

“Do you think it would work?” Rhaenys asked.

“We can only hope.” Viserys said in response.

Chapter Text

Chapter 53: The Best Laid Plans

 

It was definitely getting colder. As the Starks said, Winter was Coming. Winter certainly had come for them though, losing Winterfell to the Ironborn that would be a blow that Robb Stark could never recover from. Tyrion cleared that thought from his mind and instead spoke. “I have been receiving letters from Sunspear, I believe that Prince Doran is ready to agree to at least a betrothal between Princess Myrcella and his son Prince Trystane.” There was a brief pause as he allowed that to settle in with the council, then he continued. “Prince Doran has agreed to allow Prince Trystane to come to court, but he will be bringing his uncle Prince Oberyn and a large Dornish contingent to court with him.”

Cersei spoke then. “That is likely to exaggerate tensions then.”

“Indeed, though Prince Doran has promised me that his brother will be on his best behaviour.” Tyrion said.

Cersei laughed. “Do you really believe that? Prince Oberyn issued a declaration after the rebellion stating he would not rest until Ser Gregor and Ser Armory were both dead. And you know Father would never give them up.”

“Yet Father is not here, he is in the Riverlands playing cat and mouse with Robb Stark.” Tyrion said. “It will be fine.” He hoped it would anyway.

The King cleared his throat and they all looked at him. King Joffrey had grown bigger and wider in the past few months, looking more like a bull than anything else. “Why is Myrcella marrying a Dornish Prince?” The King asked. “Did you propose a marriage between myself and Princess Arianne?”

“I did, Your Majesty.” Tyrion replied. “Indeed it was one of the first proposals I put forward. However, Prince Doran was not willing to agree to it if his daughter had to let go of her rights to Dorne.”

“I would not have cared about that.” The King said. “Having a child inherit Dorne would have been a great blessing.”

“The child would have had take the Martell name and be raised in Sunspear.” Tyrion replied.

The King sighed. “And I suppose Doran Martell did not want his heiress being here.”

“Indeed not.” Tyrion said.

“Very well, when will the Dornish come here?” The King asked.

“By the end of moon, assuming of course that Stannis does not move from Storm’s End or is defeated.” Tyrion said, which given those who were going with Renly, he thought might well be likely.

“And where is Lord Tywin?” the King asked.

“He is still in Harrenhal, Sire.” Tyrion said.

The King’s impatience showed then, he banged a fist on the table. “Why? Why does he continue on insisting on this stupid game? Stark is in the Westerlands burning through villages and crops. He should either march and defeat the boy now, or he should come to King’s Landing. The north has fallen to the Ironborn, Stark will have to return there to hold onto his petty little crown.”

Tyrion had no answer to that, and so was relieved when Ser Barristan Selmy spoke. “Sire, Lord Tywin is waiting to see what Robb Stark is doing. In my view at least.”

“How so?” The King asked.

“Stark is raiding through the Westerlands, he has taken Ashemark, he defeated a Lannister host at Golden Tooth, he defeated a host at the Crag and took that castle. His men have burned and raised around Crakehall. He is likely trying to tempt Lord Tywin into thinking he is going for Casterly Rock. Lord Tywin will no doubt be waiting to see if such a thing is actually going to happen. This is especially relevant given that the Ironborn are not allied with Stark, for I am sure that had they actually allied with him, the Rock would be under severe threat right now.”

“So, he’s simply waiting?” The King asked.

“Yes, that would be my answer and the strategy I would use also.” Ser Barristan replied.

The King looked a cross between angry and tired. “Very well.” There was a brief pause then the King asked. “And what of this Gendry Waters, where is he?”

“Sire,” that was the eunuch speaking. “He is in the Vale, being treated as a King by the Lords of the Vale, or at least the Lords Declarant as they have taken to calling themselves.”

“Lords Declarant?” Tyrion asked.

“Oh yes, the Vale is split, between those who want to declare for Gendry Waters and sit him on the Iron Throne and those who want nothing to do with the war.” The eunuch said. “Lady Lysa leads that latter group.”

“Oh, how very juicy.” Tyrion said looking at Baelish. That man had kept a low profile since Ned Stark’s death and Tyrion suspected he knew why.

The King looked at Baelish then. “You are friends with Lady Lysa are you not?”

“I am, Sire.” Baelish said.

“Then we want you to go to the Eyrie. Remind the woman of where she owes her allegiance, and if you can bring me Gendry Waters head.” The King commanded.

“Of course, Sire. When do you wish for me to leave?” Baelish asked.

 “As soon as you are able.” The King replied. “We do not want any delays on this matter. We must bring the Vale in before they ever have the chance to ally with the north.”

“As you command, Sire.” Baelish said bowing his head.

There was a pause for a moment, and then the door opened. Jaime came hurtling in, bearing a letter in his hand, but instead of passing the letter as was protocol he instead said. “Word from Storm’s End. Renly is dead, murdered by Stannis. Stannis is marching for the capital.”

Tyrion stood up then and asked. “How do you know?”

“A letter from Ser Loras. There was a confrontation and then at night before battle, Renly was slain.” Jaime said.

“Shit.” Tyrion said to himself.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 54: Voyager

 

Jon watched as his things were put onto the Desert Voyager, one of the quickest ships in the Royal Fleet, a trading vessel, captained by one Ser Gormond Brune. A man who was built as though he were a giant not a man. Jon watched as his clothes and his weapons were put onto the ship. He was being sent to Tyrosh to serve as trade envoy there. It was an honour, but for some reason, Jon thought it was more a punishment than anything else. Regardless, he put that thought to one side, and ruffled Ghost’s fur. He looked at his two sisters who had come to see him off, Prince Tommen was there also, but the King and others were not. He was relieved in that instance.

“Sansa.” He said looking at his eldest sister. “I know things have not always been easy between us, but I have enjoyed the past few moons of our discussions and interactions. Stay well.”

He hugged her and Sansa whispered back. “You as well, I am sorry I did not come to my senses earlier.”

Jon sighed. “No point thinking about what could have been. There is only the present and the future. And I hope you will continue to be kind and caring.”

“I will try.” Sansa promised. Lady was nudging his leg, so he stroked her head. “Look after yourself there, and please be careful.”

Jon nodded. He knew what she referred to. Winterfell had fallen to Theon Greyjoy, Bran and Rickon and Lady Stark were prisoners. He wanted to help them, he wanted to kill Theon, but knew he could not do that without the King’s permission. “I will try.” Was all he said.

He looked at Arya then. “Little wolf.” He said to her. She jumped and hugged him then.

“Don’t go!” She pleaded. “Ask Prince Tommen to send someone else.”

Jon sighed, Arya had been saying this for some time now. “I cannot do that.”

“WHY?” Arya all but yelled. “You don’t want to go to Tyrosh!”

“I know, but the King has asked it of me, and I must obey.” Jon said in response. He looked around and was thankful to see Sansa talking to Lady Jeyne.

“I don’t like the King. He ordered father’s execution.” Arya snarled. Nymeria started growling as well.

Jon sighed. “Arya, we’ve talked about this. We both know he didn’t do that.” He didn’t know whether he was sure on that anymore, not after the King’s display with those skulls from the Vulture Hunt.

Arya simply glared at him. “Fine. Go, I do not care.” She did not let go though, and held on for some time, before eventually letting go. “Just be safe.” She whispered.

“I will be.” Jon whispered back. “Please be kind to Sansa and look out for one another.” He said.

“I will try.” Arya said. Things between the sisters had somewhat approved, but there was still a lot of tension.

Jon did not like the way Lord Baelish looked at Sansa, but he did not have the power to do anything about that. Arya stepped back, and there before him was Prince Tommen, his friend. “Your Royal Highness.” He said bowing.

“Jon.” Prince Tommen said. There was a moment of silence and then the Prince said. “I won’t tell you to be safe, you are smart enough to know that now. I will however, remind you of what we expect of you there.”

“Of course.” Jon said knowing this was mere ceremony.

“You are to ensure the Archon sticks to agreements that were signed with King Robert. You are to ensure the Archon does nothing to disrupt the trade routes for the throne. And you are to prevent another election in Tyrosh.” The Prince said. Jon nodded, the past attempt at an election had been destroyed some years ago.

Once that was out of the way, Jon felt comfortable enough to whisper. “Please protect my sisters, Tommen, whilst I am away. I know that the King loves Sansa, but there are others who might seek to use them to get against my brother.”

Tommen nodded. “I will do my best.” The Prince looked even more gaunt than he had done some days ago. He seemed tired and withdrawn, perhaps he was grieving? Lord Renly was dead after all.

“And please, make sure to keep yourself well. I know that things are difficult now, but the realm will need you.” Jon said. He hoped his friend remembered that. He might be a second son, but he was the hope that many at court had. The King seemed to be veering one way or another, and nobody could quite tell where that might go.

Tommen smiled. “I will try my best.”

Jon nodded, then aware of a recent piece of news which was sure to have stung his friend, he whispered. “I am sorry about what my brother has done. I did not think he would be so foolish given what he knew about you and Lady Jeyne at Winterfell.”

Something changed in the Prince then, a hard line, he had only once before seen in the King appeared, then it disappeared. “Not to worry. Jeyne Westerling is nothing to me.” The hurt in the Prince’s eyes betrayed the lie.

“I am sure.” Jon replied, the two of them embraced then the Prince stepped back.

“Well, off with you. To Tyrosh. Enjoy.” The Prince said smiling.

Jon smiled and waved to his friend and his sisters as he got onto the ship. He stood on the deck and watched as the ship moved away from the port and on toward pastures new. He waved. Ghost howled and then they were away properly. He turned and steeled himself.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 55: Prince of Dorne

 

Doran felt the aches and pains within him growing worse by the day. He knew he did not have long left and he knew in that time he had much to teach his daughter. He sighed. He had failed Arianne, failed her in a way his own father had failed him. He had not meant to, but then the passage of time had made him forget the promises he had made. Revenge had replaced common sense. He only hoped that it was not too late. His daughter had Mellario’s eyes, and they were looking at him now, filled with hurt and accusation.

He sighed. “I never meant for it to come to this.”

His daughter laughed. “You mean preparing to send Trystane off to fulfil something in the same den of snakes where Aunt Elia was murdered? Is that what you meant? Or did you mean leaving your only daughter out in the cold so that she knew nothing of anything? Tell me, father, why do you hate me? What did I ever do to earn your hate?”

The words were expected, but they still stung. “I do not hate you. I have never hated you, Arianne, I love you. You are my daughter, I could never hate you.”

His daughter snorted, sounding more like Oberyn than either of him or Mellario then. “Then why did you send a letter to Quentyn telling him that he would be your heir? Why would you disinherit your own daughter?”

Doran bit back a sigh. He had known this day would come. Ever since Areo had told him that Arianne had read the letter. “I have wronged you, Arianne. I know that. I should have taken the time to explain things to you. I had thought that I would when you were an adult, and here you are now, and my own fear has prevented me from doing this. I confess, for a time revenge was more important than anything else. It took your mother leaving to remind me of my actual duty.”

“What do you mean?” Arianne demanded.

“The letter you read, I had known you had read it some days after you had read it. Areo Hotah told me about it. I meant to tell you then, but I did not for your mother had just left and things were too tense. Instead, I resolved to tell you later and never did. I am telling you now. I do not expect your forgiveness, I merely want your understanding.” Doran said. He took a breath and then said. “In the months and years after Elia and her son died, Dorne was alive with anger. We were all wanting something. I met with Jon Arryn to bring peace, for we could not hold another war and expect to win. We made peace and their bones were returned. However, I did not forget. Oberyn was sent to Tyrosh where Prince Viserys was staying, with his little sister Daenerys. A betrothal was made between you and Prince Viserys. You were to marry in return for our support in winning the throne back. However, Viserys has broken with his sister and disappeared to God’s alone know where. That was why the letter you read stated that Quentyn was my heir, for you would be Queen. And yet now that Viserys has gone, and disappeared, Daenerys is out there and so your brother has gone to find her, he will court her and perhaps become her husband.”

Arianne looked shocked. “You mean to say that I was to become a Queen to a dragon? And that is why you prevented me from marrying Willas, or any of the others? Did mother know?”

“No.” Doran replied. “I could not tell her, I did not want her to get into danger. The fewer people who knew the better. Oberyn knew. I have trusted him with much and more for most of our lives. The Archon is a cousin to both us, the Baratheons and the Targaryens and therefore could be trusted. His son, I am not sure about.”

Arianne said nothing for a moment, and Doran feared he had made a mistake in telling her this now. Then she spoke. “Why are you telling me this now, father? When you did not think, it fit to tell me before?”

Doran sighed. “I am old, and you deserve to know. I do not want you to make the mistakes I have made. I want you to be better than me. You have the chance to be so much better than me, Arianne.”

“How do I know you are not just saying that?” Arianne demanded. It was a fair question.

“Ask me anything you want, and if it is within my power to, I will answer you.” Doran said simply. Remembering this exact conversation which he had with his own mother, years ago.

“Who has gone with Quentyn?” Arianne asked.

“His friends from Yronwood.” Doran said simply. “I have had an arrangement with Lord Yronwood for quite some time now.”

“Is that why you did not punish Uncle Oberyn so severely?” Arianne asked.

“Yes.” Doran said simply.

“You said that Aunt Elia and her son died in King’s Landing. That’s not right, Rhaenys died as well. That’s what all the histories say.” Arianne said.

Doran closed his eyes then. “They lie.”

“What do you mean?” Arianne asked shocked.

“Rhaenys did not die in King’s Landing. Rhaenys was smuggled out and taken somewhere safe. At least from what I was made aware of by our friends at court. I am told that she was taken to a safe place, perhaps Pentos perhaps somewhere else. And that a babe that they are claiming is Aegon is with her.” Doran said. The look on his daughter’s face was one that he himself had shared when he had been told by Oberyn.

“And do you not think this boy is Aegon?” Arianne asked.

“I do not know. I do not think so. It would be too easy and obvious. I think that whoever took the babe and claimed it as Aegon wants the realm to believe so. They all still revere Rhaegar. Rhaenys is a problem for them.” Doran said fighting to keep the bitterness from his voice.

“Have you tried to find her?” Arianne asked. “Rhaenys, I mean.”

“Yes.” Doran said. “Mors is looking for her now.”

Arianne nodded, and then said. “Balancing this must be hard.”

“It is.” He took her hand then and said. “But I fully believe that you will be able to manage it.”

His daughter said nothing then, but merely held his hand. He knew they had a lot more work to do. He was of half a mind to recall Quentyn from Essos. But the boy was stubborn.

Chapter Text

Chapter 56: It Begins

 

“I do not see why Tommen has to be there present on the walls when Stannis comes. He is not the King. He is merely a boy.” Cersei said to her brother who was lounging on a sofa before her. “He is a boy who looks as though he has not eaten properly in months. Nothing I do changes how he appears. He is not fit enough to fight.”

Jaime looked at her and said. “He is a Prince of the Blood, therefore he must fight. He will hold nominal command over some four thousand men, do you think they would want to know that their Prince’s mother deemed him unfit to command?”

“No, but…” Cersei began.

“There can be no buts when it comes to war, Cersei.” Jaime said. “Tommen must fight and he must do well, otherwise half the city will whisper. They are already whispering. They know Tommen was close to the Starks before the war began, they claim we are poisoning him because of it.”

Cersei wanted to snort, to deride the people of King’s Landing, but she knew deep down that they were true. They had not been poisoning Tommen, that was a lie, but they had been punishing him. Or at least she had. “So, Tommen will go and fight, and what then? Joffrey has already embraced his blood lust, what happens if Tommen does so as well?”

Jaime raised an eyebrow. “I am surprised. Before all you cared about the King and how he was handling things. Where has this sudden concern for Tommen come from?”

Cersei felt as though she had been slapped, Jaime spoke truly, but that didn’t make it any easier to hear. “Tommen is my son, of course I care for him.” she said though the answer sounded weak to her own ears.

Jaime laughed. “Tommen won’t embrace any bloodlust. He doesn’t even like fighting, for all that he is good at it. So, no I do not think that he will be returning with skulls from this battle.”

Cersei shuddered slightly. After the Vulture Hunt she had been horrified to learn tht her son had brought back forty skulls of the people that had joined with the Vulture. She did not think that they were actually his followers, but perhaps innocent people. She had pushed that thought down and did so now as well. Joffrey was King, and soon he would be ruling in his own right. Deciding that she needed to focus on the fight to come, she instead asked. “So, what role exactly are you going to be playing in this battle?”

“I have been entrusted with the right flank. I shall be holding command of the Lion Gate, for we know that Stannis has got men marching from Storm’s End. Sooner or later they will try to do something, and it will be my duty to prevent them from doing so.” Jaime said.

She took his hand and kissed it. “Be safe.”

“Of course.” Jaime said simply. He then said. “Ser Barristan, Ser Meryn and Ser Preston will be guarding the King. Ser Arys will be with you and Myrcella in the Maiden Vault. Ser Mandon will be with Tommen as will Ser Boros. The Hound will be with the King. And of course there will be eighty Gold Cloaks and 100 red cloaks with you in the Maidenvault.”

“And our brother?” Cersei asked. She had heard a rumour that Tyrion was going to be fighting in this battle, she had not believed it.

“He is overall commander, and is currently down at the docks.” Jaime said.

“He’s been down there a lot, why?” Cersei asked.

“He’s preparing the ships. Stacking them with wildfire.” Jaime said. Something flickering across his face as he said that.

“Wildfire?” Cersei mused. “A bold strategy. Do we know how many men Stannis has?”

“Somewhere approaching twenty thousand. That’s slightly more than we have now.” Jaime said.

“But he has fewer commanders does he not?” Cersei asked.

“Poorer commanders. Stannis himself is a naval tactician not a ground commander. Lord Florent is the buffoon who lost Hacksaw Ridge to Mace Tyrell during the rebellion. And the Stormlords aren’t going to offer their services.” Jaime said.

“Why?” Cersei asked.

Jaime looked at her oddly. “Because they see Tommen as their rightful Prince, now that Renly is dead.”

A knock on the door, Jaime straightened up. It was Ser Vylarr of the Red Cloaks. “Your Majesty, it is time.” The man said.

Cersei got up and sorted out her dress, Jaime bowed before her. “Be safe.” She whispered. He nodded, then she was out walking, Ser Vylarr accompanying her. As they walked she asked. “What is the mood of the people?” She had not been outside the Red Keep since Robert’s death, she did not know what was going outside these walls.

“The people are afraid, Your Majesty. They have heard of what Stannis’s red woman did to the Septs on Dragonstone and Storm’s End. They have heard about the sacrifices. They are very much in favour of the throne winning this battle.” Ser Vylarr said.

“Good, as they should be.” Cersei said simply. They continued the rest of the journey in silence. Upon arriving, the knight bowed. Cersei entered, found most of the women of court already there. Lady Sansa and her sister were in a corner, with Lady Jeyne, they all looked as though they’d seen a ghost. She said nothing to them, barely acknowledging them. She found Myrcella with her gaggle of ladies and nodded to her daughter.

Eventually, she sat down and said to her ladies. “It begins.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 57: Tyroshi Conversations

 

 

Tyrosh certainly was different. The last time he had come had been with King Robert for a war. And now he was here in a time of peace, the city looked wonderful. The trees were growing in shapes he had never seen before, it was damnably hot, and women were wearing very little, and nobody seemed to mind. Indeed, the biggest attraction was strangely enough him. Or rather, Ghost. Which he understood. There weren’t a lot of wolves, let alone direwolves in Tyrosh. Because of Ghost he’d been getting a lot of attention, both male and female. And he had to admit, he didn’t find it all that bad.

Of course, he was here to meet the Archon, but the man had been busy doing other things, and so Jon had explored the city. Now however, the Archon had asked to meet, and so here he was. The Archon was sat before him, looking a little thinner than before, but his silver hair was still fine and his eyes held a hint of mischief. “Ser Jon.” The man said. “I apologise for being unable to meet you before now. However, I hope that you have been enjoying the hospitality of my fine city.”

“I have, thank you.” Jon said simply.

“Good. Tell me, what do you make of Tyrosh? I imagine it is quite different to King’s Landing, let alone Winterfell.” The Archon said.

“It is…” Jon began struggling to find the right words to use. Eventually he settled on. “It is very colourful. I do not think I have ever seen so many people wearing so many colours, and I do not think I have seen so much life in one place before. Even King’s Landing is not like that. The people here seem so free.”

The Archon smiled. “Good, I am glad that you are enjoying yourself here. Of course, I know you have come because the King on the Iron Throne wishes to make sure that I am sticking to the agreement I reached with his father. So, whatever questions you have, ask them now.”

Jon took a moment and then asked. “In the treaty, you had agreed to provide some forty percent of the income from the sails of the Tyroshi spice, but so far we have only received some twenty-five percent, why is that?” He had known that was not what the King cared about, but he seen that in the accounts and wished to start with that. He knew how to haggle.

“Ah, you see, the Tyroshi spice is something that my family developed here when we first moved to Tyrosh and therefore, I did not wish to part with such a great quantity of it. I merely agreed to that amount when King Robert demanded it, because I knew he would never push for it, nor would his son.” The Archon said.

“You should not have agreed to such a high amount if you had no intention of paying it back in full.” Jon said.

“You sound much like your grandfather.” The Archon said.

Jon looked at the man surprised. “You knew my grandfather?”

The Archon sighed. “I knew both of them, Jon.”

Jon wanted to ask  how, but instead he pushed that thought aside and instead said. “Very well, still, there are other things. You have not yet provided the arms that the King has asked of you. The attempted usurper Stannis Baratheon has been negotiating with Myr and Lys for arms and aid, and yet you are a subject to the throne and have provided nothing that has been asked of you. Why?”

The Archon looked at him and said. “No one asked it of me. Yes, there is a treaty, but that is not how things work here. I need to be asked before I can do anything.”

“Well, I am asking now.” Jon said.

“And you have the permission of the King to do that?” The Archon asked.

“Yes.” Jon said, handing the man a letter.

The Archon read it and said. “Very well. I shall make the required preparations. Now what else?”

Jon shook his head. “That is all.”

The Archon nodded. “I had thought as much.” The man went to get up, but then stopped when Jon asked.

“How did you know both my grandfathers if you are Archon of Tyrosh?”

The Archon sighed. “My name is Maegor Targaryen, I am the son of Maegor son of Aerion Targaryen. I am a cousin both to King Aerys and King Robert. My sister was the girl that Lord Steffon was sent to bring back for Prince Rhaegar. If he had been successful much bloodshed would have been avoided and your grandfather would still be alive now.”

“That does not answer my question.” Jon said. “How do you know my grandfathers?”

“I met Lord Rickard when he came to court during the reign of King Aerys, we spoke and he was a good man. As for your other grandfather, well, he was a King, and that makes us family.” The Archon said.

“What?” Jon asked, then the implications of what the man had said hit him. “No, you are lying!”

The Archon sighed and clapped his hands. A door opened and a man walked in, or rather limped in. “If you do not believe me, ask your father. Or should I say uncle?”

Jon felt his mouth open, there before him was Lord Eddard Stark, his father. A man he had thought long dead. “Father?”

“Jon,” Father said. “I can explain.”

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 58: The Truth

 

Ned looked at Jon, the boy he had raised since birth, the boy who was his son in all ways that mattered, and he saw the hurt on the boy’s face, though the words had not been revealed yet. He had dreaded this moment for a long time, but now he knew there was no other choice. The Archon had made that clear to him when he had arrived from Pentos, broken and wounded. He looked at Jon and cleared his throat. “I can explain.” He said.

Jon looked at him and started off with. “I thought you were dead? The entire realm believes you dead. Robb declared himself a King believing he was getting revenge for your murder. How did you survive? The King’s shipmen saw your ship go down with you on it. How?”

Ned sighed. “It is true we were attacked as we sailed for the Wall. But instead of sinking with the ship, I woke up on a ship flying Targaryen and Blackfyre banners.”

“That’s not right, it was Lannister banners flying on the ship that attacked you.” Jon said.

“A ruse, to make it seem as though the Lannisters had broken their word.” Ned said. He looked at Maegor and said. “I have learned that someone or some people wanted this war to happen.”

“How did you come here? Where did you go?” Jon demanded.

“I was taken to Pentos at first. Where I stayed in a manse that smelled of cheese. I did not know how long I was there for, but I escaped and made my way here, knowing that Tyrosh was loyal to the throne.” Ned said.

“Why did you not send word?” Jon demanded. “So much could have been avoided if you had written.”

Ned bristled. “I did write, but clearly someone did not want my letters coming through.” He saw disbelief on Jon’s face and felt hurt.

“Why are you here, why did you not try and come home?” Jon demanded.

“There were no ships free.” Ned answered.

Jon looked at the Archon and said. “You wanted my father here. Why?”

“He is your uncle.” The Archon replied simply.

“He is my father!” Jon snapped, sounding a lot like his mother then. “Father, tell him!”

Ned sighed. “I am your father in all the ways that matter. I raised you from the time you were a babe in swaddling.”

“What does that mean?” Jon demanded.

“It means…” Ned swallowed nervously here. “It means that I may have raised you and I love you as my son, but I am not your father.”

Jon looked as though he’d just been slapped, his mouth hung open. “What? This makes no sense. What are you talking about?”

Ned closed his eyes, he did not know if he would be able to look at Jon as he said this. “The rebellion that put Robert on the throne started because Prince Rhaegar absconded with my sister, Lyanna. They were gone for an entire year, and after the sack of King’s Landing, I rode with seven of my very good friends to find her. We had been told where she was by a little bird. I found her guarded by three knights of the Kingsguard. The best three of King Aerys seven. They should have been with Prince Viserys who was by all rights their rightful King, and yet there they were in the middle of Dorne. I realised then who they were guarding. We fought, and only myself and Howland Reed survived. I made it up to the tower, where Lyanna was, she was cradling a babe, and bleeding. With her last breath, she made me promise to look after her son, look after her child and protect him.” Ned opened his eyes and saw Jon staring at him. “I have done my best to fulfil that vow for the last sixteen years.”

Jon stared at him. “You are lying.”

“Jon, son, I, I have tried many times to tell you the truth, to let you know that you are not a bastard. But I could never think of the right way to tell you, without endangering you and our family. I am sorry lad.” Ned said.

“You…you mean to tell me that I am the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark?” Jon asked. Ned could tell that the thought was making his head spin. “I am still a bastard, but a Targaryen one?”

“Three Kingsguard including the Lord Commander were outside guarding you and your mother.” Ned said.

“The Lord Commander must guard the King at all times.” Jon whispered. He looked at Ned then and asked. “They were married?”

“Yes. I found out about that properly afterwards. When Lady Ashara gave me the documents. They were married in front of a heart tree and in a Sept outside Summerhall.” Ned said. He remembered being amazed at how audacious Rhaegar had been, and angry at Lyanna.

“So….I….I….I am a King?” Jon asked.

“Yes.” Ned said simply.

Jon looked at him and then asked. “Why are you telling me this, why now?”

“Because you deserve to know.” Ned said.

“Is it because he made you tell me?” Jon asked pointing at the Archon.

“No.” Ned said. “I would have told you either way.”

“Then why did you not tell me in Winterfell?” Jon demanded. “Why did you not tell Lady Catelyn? Why did you let me go through life thinking I was a bastard, a dishonour? Is that what you think I am?” Jon demanded.

“No…Jon…” Ned said, seeing his son crying he felt as though he were breaking in half. “Son,”

“I AM NOT YOUR SON!” Jon all but roared.

“Jon, I…I admit I did wrong by you and Catelyn, but I knew no other way of protecting you all. This was my burden to bear. I did not know how to tell you without hurting you.” Ned said truthfully.

“Well fuck you.” Jon swore. With that he looked at the Archon and said. “I’m leaving.”

“Jon…lad, don’t.” Ned begged.

“Leave me alone, traitor.” Jon said. With that Ned saw his son stalk out of the room.

The Archon smiled. “You can leave to go home now, Stark. You have served your purpose to me.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 59: Theon The Thief

 

Theon felt the pain in his bones, and yet he said his thanks to the Drowned God. For it was with the Drowned God’s grace that he had escaped Winterfell. When the horns had sounded he had thought it was a sign that the aid he had requested had come. And yet it had not been aid, but the northmen come to free Winterfell from his grasp. Lord Rodrik Ryswell had come with one thousand men and had added them Ser Rodrik’s host, before cutting down Rodrik and taking Winterfell. Theon had snuck out from the back. His men had died, but he had escaped. Dagmar had come and found him and they had retreated to Deepwood Motte and Asha.

His sister was before him now. They had not spoken to one another since then. He looked at her and she looked at him. “What?” he demanded angry. She had not brought aid, despite his request. His father had abandoned him as well.

“Why did you take Winterfell?” His sister demanded. “That was not what father asked of you.”

“You cannot be King of the North without Winterfell. I took it to make sure Father’s title was not a joke.” Theon said. Surely his sister understood that?

“You overextended your resources.” Asha said instead. “And now the northmen hold Winterfell.”

“The northmen are fighting one another. We still have a chance to extend our hold over the north. We can ensure that father’s title is not meaningless.” Theon said.

“You would take us away from the coast. Away from any source of water. That would be our undoing.” Asha replied stubbornly.

“Then we will be nothing more than a footnote. You think that the Iron Throne will care about us? When they are done with Robb Stark and Stannis Baratheon they will turn their attention to us, and as happened with Dalton Greyjoy, we will be destroyed. We must advance.” Theon replied. “We cannot simply hope to rely on the old ways.”

“No one will follow father if he abandons the old ways.” Asha said. “It is not in our nature.”

“And that is why we are nothing more than a poor resource for the kingdom. We are nothing. We are a joke.” Theon said, Asha slapped him. He looked at her and spat on the floor. “You can hit me all you like. This is the truth. And deep down you know it as well.”

His sister said nothing for a time. She merely stared at him. Theon got the sense that there was some sort of internal war raging within her. Then she said. “Say you are right, what do you propose? How are we to address the issues that are standing in our way?”

Theon smiled. “We use the resources available to us now, we build more ships, we fell the woods and build greater number of ships. Then we begin planning our excursions out into Sea Dragon Point, there is untapped minerals there. We can sell those for profit. We use that money to build more ships. And then we try and take Winterfell again. Hold the seat of the Starks, hold Robb’s brothers and we control the north.”

“Winterfell is too far from the sea, and what you propose with the minerals will take time.” Asha countered.

“I have already had the tools built.” Theon retorted.

“When?” Asha asked shocked.

“When I was in Winterfell, what do you think I was doing for so long there?” Theon asked. “I wasn’t whoring myself out to a lesser ironborn, that’s for sure.” His sister slapped him again.

Theon sighed. “Keep slapping me and I will cut off your hand and make your lover eat it.”

His sister laughed. “You don’t have the gall to do that.”

Theon drew his dagger. “Try it. Go on, try it.” his sister said nothing then. “I thought not.” he said.

His sister looked at him, something shifting within her. Eventually she said. “You have changed.”

Theon snorted. “I am what I am.”

His sister said something under her breath and then said. “Then perhaps you will be ready for this news.”

“What news?” Theon asked.

“Word came from Pyke, father has died. He fell from a bridge whilst trying to cross onto one of the other buildings.” Asha said.

“Who was there when he died?” Theon asked, his suspicions instantly raised.

“No one, he was walking across by himself.” Asha said.

“Then I do not think that he died by accident.” Theon replied.

“He was alone, who else could have done the deed?” Asha asked.

“Well, where is Euron?” Theon questioned.

“I do not know.” Asha said.

“Exactly.” Theon said.

“You do not truly think our uncle had father killed?” Asha asked.

“I do.” Theon said. “We must return at once to Pyke. I must claim the Seastone chair and from there we can continue this discussion.”

Asha smiled. “I had hoped you would say that.”

“Are the ships ready?” Theon asked.

“They have been for two weeks now.” Asha said.

“Good, then let us go.” Theon replied.

Soon, they were boarding a longship, having left the Glovers to their own devices, and off they went, to Pyke so he might get his destiny started.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 60: Kingslayer

 

Jaime stood atop the city walls and watched as the enemy approached. The bay had been set alight with wildfire. But there were enemies coming from the Kingswood. Jaime had suggested that they send men out to greet those under the command of Lord Florent, but both the King and Tyrion had been against that decision, stating that it would do more harm than good. They wanted Stannis to think that they were completely blind, and though he did not agree with them, he had relented. He had marshalled his troops as best as he could and was now preparing to ensure that things remained strong and sturdy.

The enemy brought no catapults or siege engines, but they did bring battering rams. “Archers prepare.” Jaime bellowed. Ser Addam manned the archer command, and waited for Jaime’s word. Jaime took a moment and then roared. “Fire!” The first arrows were unleashed, Jaime watched as they hit the men bearing Stannis’s flaming Stag. He watched as they fell down and others took their place. “Again.” He bellowed. If he could take more of the men down before they reached the gate then perhaps the others would break.

More men fell, they were crying out in pain, some were crushed underneath their fellow soldiers. Briefly, Jaime wondered if the red woman who he had heard had ensnared Stannis was here, or if she had been left on Dragonstone. The sound of the first battering ram being brought forward took his mind from such musings. “Prepare to unleash the vats.” He commanded. He had gotten this much from the King. Vats of oil and fire, to burn the enemy. Let Stannis’s red soldiers face the fire they loved so much. The rams came forward. “Unleash.” He bellowed. The oil was dumped and then fire was thrown. The screams echoed throughout, reminding him briefly of a day at the Mad King’s court.

Addam came to him then. “There are others coming.” His friend said. Jaime followed him, his white cloak billowing behind him. He watched as the rams hit the smaller gates. “Should we attack them?”

“No, let them through. Let them think they are gaining traction.” Jaime said. Ser Addam nodded, and so they allowed some of the enemy through. Jaime took some men with him and they waited at the gates for the foe to come. When they did come, Jaime took his sword and cut them down. They died screaming, for the pain was such and the intensity ever more present.

More came through, it seemed the plan had worked. He shouted for men to come and aid him. More of the Baratheon men, bearing Robert’s sigil, and Lannister men came. They stood and they fought. The enemy were Florents, Costaynes and others, ambitious men and sellswords who wanted something that they knew perhaps deep down that Stannis could never give them, and so they fought with a deep intensity, it was almost frightening how tough they were. Jaime felt his arms grow tired after a time, but still he kept fighting. Knowing that they could not let up.

Soon enough the screams stopped, and Jaime knew they had finished the oil. He braced himself, and soon the bigger gates flew open. He braced himself, and on they fought. Jaime felt himself being pushed back. Slowly, and reluctantly, he allowed himself to be pushed back. His men fell back with him. He could have sworn he saw Lord Florent fall, though he was not completely sure. He certainly killed two or three Florents himself. They were distinguishable by their ears, which resembled fox’s ears on their helms. Jaime laughed at that, and continued onward.

Soon enough, Ser Addam appeared at his side. His friend was covered in blood and sweat and dirt. Jaime was sure he looked no better. They nodded to one another and continued to try and push back. But more men were spilling into the gates, and so they were forced to retreat. During an interlude in the fighting, Addam whispered. “I think they might have gotten the port.”

“How?” Jaime asked.

Ser Addam said nothing for a moment and then he replied. “Look behind you.”

Jaime risked glance behind and found himself near to the port, though he had no idea how that had happened. They had been pushed back almost completely. “We can’t let them get to the Red Keep.” He roared.

Addam nodded and they doubled up their efforts. Jaime took a great number of blows, but he killed more than tried to hurt him. He knew that time was of the essence, and therefore tried to not to give too much credence to those who might break through the stalemate. He fought hard and gave as good as he got. Some times he felt as though his strengthe might fade, but othertimes he stood the test of time and ensured that nothing could break through him. He stood and fought as hard as he could.

His reward came when he saw someone carrying Stannis’s flaming stag banner, and there before him was a man who could only be Stannis. The man was big, and broad shouldered, but walked awkwardly. The same way Stannis did. Jaime thanked the Seven for delivering him this chance. He roared a challenge and advanced. Stannis swung his sword, but Jaime parried it easily. He swung and hit Stannis in three different places, Stannis staggered back. His squire advanced forward, Jaime killed the lad easily enough, a simple slit forward.

Stannis came back for more. Jaime, stood and fought. Stannis was slow, but careful with his plans, Jaime took a few blows, but then he spotted an opening and took it. He feigned left and then slashed right, and ripped open a hole in Stannis’s neck protector, he then plunged his sword in once, twice and then a third time to make sure, in the hole he had made. He stepped back, and watched Stannis bleed before him. Still the enemy fought on.

Chapter Text

Chapter 61: Now Blooms The Rose

 

Margaery watched as the court settled down in the throne room. She was sat next to Princess Myrcella and her ladies, and they were all humming with nervous energy. Not the Princess, oh no, Princess Myrcella was the very show of modesty and decorum. She had been a great rock during the battle, more so than her mother, Queen Dowager Cersei who had looked panicked and fearful throughout. Lady Sansa was sat with them, something the Queen Dowager had insisted upon, though something that made Margaery feel quite awkward given what was to come during the court session.

The King was sat on the Iron Throne still wearing the armour he had worn at the battle three days ago. It was stained red with blood and brown with dirt. He had not taken it off it seemed, or perhaps he had, Margaery did not know. She had been busy attending to Loras and to Prince Tommen. Below the Iron Throne stood the Kingsguard, five of them, for Ser Boros Blount and Ser Mandon Moore had both died during the fighting. The King’s herald spoke. “His Majesty notes that there has been a great many who have fought and bled for him, some have even made the ultimate sacrifice and died for him. He wishes to honour them today. First and foremost amongst them, the saviour of the city Lord Tywin Lannister, Hand of the King and Lord of Casterly Rock.”

There were murmurs there, and Margaery whispered to the Princess. “Lord Tyrion did more to save the city than Lord Tywin.”

Myrcella hummed in agreement. “That was mother’s doing.”

Lord Tywin rode forward on a black warhorse, he bowed before the throne and said. “Your Majesty.” The King gestured and two servants stepped forward to pin the badge of the Hand of the King on his doublet, alongside a golden chain, denoting his role as Saviour of the City. The new Hand of the King bowed his head once more, before turning his horse around and departing.

The Herald continued. “His Majesty wishes to honour Lord Mace Tyrell, whose forces came together with those of Lord Tywin’s to destroy that which was of Stannis Baratheon’s traitorous host.”

Father came forward, not on a horse, but wearing the green and gold of their house. He bowed low before the throne, and the King spoke. “Lord Mace, you shall be my Master of Ships, to replace our traitorous uncle. Furthermore, your cousin and goodbrother, Lord Paxter Redwyne shall serve as an advisor on my small council, alongside Lord Matthis Rowan and Lord Randyll Tarly.” The aforementioned lords came forward to stand just behind father, they all bowed.

“Thank you, for this honour, Your Majesty.” They all said. Margaery noted how only one of them had gotten an actual position on the small council and she was pleased it was father.

Myrcella whispered to her. “You must be well pleased. Four reachmen on the council, it will balance things out.”

Margaery said nothing, but she agreed with the Princess’s thought. She instead listened as the King continued. “And now, we turn to another matter.” There was a pause, and Margaery felt herself tense with anticipation, perhaps this was the thing that was coming, the announcement. She looked briefly at Lady Sansa, but the lady’s face was expressionless.

The King surprised her though, and the herald announced. “Step forward Ser Jaime Lannister.”

 The Kingslayer stepped forward, adorned in his golden armour, his white cloak billowing behind him. “You have been a trusted and loyal advisor, uncle, and you were the one who delivered us the head of Stannis Baratheon that now sits on the spikes of traitor’s gate. We wish to name you the Second In Command of the Kingsguard, and make you the first member of the Order of the Stag.” There was a clap and two servants stepped forward to present a chain which had a stag and lion on it to Ser Jaime. “The highest order of chivalry in the realm.” The King declared. “We present this to Ser Barristan also.” And two more men came with a chain for Ser Barristan, the old and wizened Lord Commander.

Both men bowed. “Thank you, Sire.” They said together, before standing back at the foot of the throne.

The King then continued. “We lost two brave knights of the Kingsguard during the Battle of the Blackwater, and we wish to ensure their sacrifice is honoured. Therefore, we have decided upon two knights of valour and honour to distinguished themselves during the fighting. We name Ser Balon Swann and Ser Loras Tyrell to the Kingsguard.” There was applause then, as the two knights, including her beloved brother stepped forward, bowed before the throne and then were draped in the white of the Kingsguard by Ser Jaime and Ser Barristan.

They then took their place at the foot of the throne with their five brothers. The herald then stepped forward and once more spoke. “And now, there is a more important announcement to make. Previously, His Majesty had been betrothed to Lady Sansa Stark. However, her father and brother were and are both traitors, and it does not fit for a King to marry the daughter and sister of traitors. Therefore, it is with great reluctance, and having spoken with the High Septon, that His Majesty announces the breaking of his betrothal to Lady Sansa.” Margaery heard Lady Sansa gasp, and she felt sorry for the girl. Then the Herald continued. “And as a  reward for his leal service during the Battle of the Blackwater, His Majesty wishes to reward Lord Mace Tyrell. He shall marry his lordship’s daughter Lady Margaery, a friend to Her Royal Highness Princess Myrcella.”

That was her cue, Margaery stood up and walked before the throne. She curtseyed and said. “Your Majesty, it is my great honour to be betrothed to Your Majesty, and I hope we have a fine and happy marriage with many sons and daughters.” Margaery said, practicing the words she had said many times since grandmother had told her about this plan of her father’s.

The King smiled down at her. “And I too, hope for a happy and fruitful marriage, my lady.”

Margaery curtseyed once more and then stepped back. The Herald announced. “And with that my lords and ladies, court is adjourned. Thank you.”

There was a  lot of whispering and murmuring and Margaery made her way back to the Princess. The Princess smiled at her and said. “Soon you will outrank me.” Margaery looked at her and then at the Stark girl who remained seated. “Rather you than her.” Myrcella said.

“Indeed.” Margaery said, knowing full well that she wished the Stark girl was in her place.

Chapter Text

Chapter 62: Wounded Warrior

 

The healers tended to his wounds, he held onto something to bite back the pain. He had taken a great many blows during the Battle of the Blackwater, as the fight was being called. Tommen did not remember a lot after the breach. He remembered seeing Ser Boros Blount being slain in front of him, the one act of bravery that idiot had ever made. He remembered falling down and thinking about how he should have told Jeyne how he felt, and how perhaps if he had she would never have gone to Stark. And then there was nothing. The next thing he had known he had woken up in the rooms in Maegor’s Holdfast. A knight of the Kingsguard outside his room, and three red cloaks inside.

Mother had come once, apparently, Myrcella had told him. She had not come since then. Joffrey had come more than that, a handful of times, and as such they had spoken, his brother had told him he would be Master of Laws when he was recovered to replace Uncle Renly. Tommen had meekly accepted. His only constant visitors were Myrcella, and Margaery. Lady Margaery his brother’s betrothed. That felt odd saying and he always felt odd afterward. He blinked then as Myrcella entered. “Cella.” He said smiling. It hurt to smile. “What news do you bring me today?” Myrcella was his link with the outside world, constantly bringing him news about everything.

“Well, your manners certainly have gone to shit since you’ve been here.” Cella japed as she sat down next to him.

Tommen grinned. “You know me, I prefer to get right to the heart of things.”

Cella smiled. “That’s why you’re my favourite person.”

Tommen laughed and then winced at the pain he felt. “Anyway. What has been happening?”

“The King and Lady Margaery are betrothed.” Myrcella said.

Tommen felt something odd settle in his stomach though he had already known that. “I know, the King told me when he last came.”

“Ah.” Myrcella said looking at him oddly. “Lady Sansa is now left to her own devices, though I think the King still loves her. Furthermore, I have been hearing rumours that Grandfather wishes to marry Uncle Tyrion to her.”

“Uncle Tyrion?” Tommen asked. “Why?”

“I think he wants to make them Lord and Lady of Winterfell.” Myrcella said.

“What? He can’t do that. Robb Stark is still alive, and his brothers are still out there.” Tommen said. He hoped that grandfather was not stupid enough to do that, a woman could never rule the north.

“I know. I think that’s just some nonsense that someone has spread, most likely Varys. I think it more likely that because of his actions during the battle, Grandfather is finally being forced to acknowledge Uncle Tyrion as his heir.” Myrcella said.

Tommen smiled. “Good. Though I am sure that pains both grandfather and Mother.” He had known for some time that Mother had harboured ambitions of seeing him as heir to the Rock. He had never wanted it. He hated the Rock, he preferred Storm’s End.  “Any word on what’s being done with Dragonstone and Storm’s End?”

“The King is already making plans to sail and take Dragonstone before the moon is over, certainly before his marriage. As for Storm’s End, the King insists that the castle is yours, therefore he is waiting for you to get better before he plans anything there.” Myrcella said watching him closely.

Tommen nodded, digesting this information down. “I should have gone with Uncle Renly.” He murmured.

“Don’t be silly. If you had gone then there would be two people dead, not just one.” Myrcella said.

“Do you really think Stannis would’ve killed me?” Tommen asked.

“Yes.” Myrcella replied. “Without hesitation, he wanted the throne.”

Tommen nodded and then asked. “Has the King said what will be done with Shireen and her mother once Dragonstone has fallen?”

“They will both be placed in the care of the Faith.” Myrcella said. “As for Stannis’s red woman, she will be captured and executed for heresy.”

“Good.” Tommen said simply. He hated that red woman and he had never met her.

“There is another thing, Tom.” Cella said.

Tommen raised an eyebrow. “What?”

“The Archon of Tyrosh wrote to the King to inform him that Jon Snow has left Tyrosh.” Myrcella said.

“Has he completed everything he set out to achieve?” Tommen asked, wondering why this would be a problem.

“Yes, but he has not left for King’s Landing. He’s left for somewhere unknown.” Myrcella said.

“What? Why?” Tommen asked, this did not make sense to him.

“Nobody knows, but the King has decided to issue an edict for his arrest.” Myrcella said.

Tommen thought on that for a moment and then resignedly sighed. “Very well.” He had no desire to fight with his brother on this issue right now. Deciding to change the topic he asked. “And what about you? When is your betrothed coming here?”

Myrcella smiled. “By the end of the moon according to letters that Prince Doran has sent to the Small Council.”

Tommen smiled. “Good, that will be a nice refreshing change.”

“Agreed.” Cella replied, she got up then. “I’ll see you again soon.”

Tommen nodded and watched her go. He then opened up the book at his bedside and began to read.

During the years leading up to the rebellion it is whispered that both the King and Prince of Dragonstone grew obsessed with a desire to meet someone they believed would birth the Prince that Was Promised. Whose song was the song of Ice and Fire.

Chapter Text

Chapter 63: Burying the Boy

 

Gendry was still getting used to how things were going. The revelation that Tobho Mott was his uncle, and technically second in line to the Vale was something that he was having difficulty getting his head around. And then there was the fact that he had met some of his heroes, men who had had songs written about them. Yohn Royce, Symond Templeton and Brynden Tully amongst them. They were all there before him, having bent the knee to him. Now he was to meet with Lady Lysa and her lords. Her son had come with her to the Gates of the Moon.

Gendry rose as the lady entered. “My lady.” He said courteously. Lady Lysa was quite fat, how he did not know, he had heard tell that she barely ate.

“Ser Gendry.” Lady Lysa said simply. He had been knighted three moons ago, by Ser Brynden, as part of his training, though he preferred fighting with a hammer than with a sword.

Gendry sat back down, and Ser Brynden spoke. “We are gathered here today to settle differences and to discuss something of great importance. It is our honour that we have both the trueborn son of Robert Baratheon with us, as well as the Lady Regent of the Vale.”

Ser Lyn Corbray, a man who apparently fiddled little boys spoke then. “How do you know he is who he says he is?”

Lord Yohn spoke then. “Use your eyes. Look at him. Tell me who he looks like.”

Ser Lyn glared at him and then reluctantly said. “King Robert.”

“Exactly.” Yohn Royce said.

“Just because he looks like him doesn’t mean he is his.” Lord Corbray said.

Tobho-no Ser Jasper- spoke then. “It might not but these documents do.” The knight produced the papers he had shown to Gendry long ago, and handed them over for inspection.

Maester Coleman looked at the document and then said. “It contains the seal of both King Robert and Lady Elyssa, with Ser Jasper’s own seal. And the seal of the Septon who saw them wed. The document is authentic.”

Lord Grafton spoke then. “So, what is it you want? You want us to march to war for you, to sit you on that damned chair? What is in it for us? Your brother has defeated and slain your Uncle. He has the Lannisters and the Tyrells behind him as well as their armies. We are only one of the Kingdoms. How do we stand against that?”

Ser Jasper went to speak, but Gendry decided that if he were to be a King he would need to take the lead and so he said. “I will send Ser Brynden to meet with Robb Stark and Ser Edmure in Riverrun. He will present them this document and also an offer of alliance.”

“You would let Stark keep his crown?” Ser Harry asked. Harrold Hardying was a grasping youth who had not taken well to being removed from his position as heir to the Vale by Ser Jasper.

Gendry thought for a moment and then said. “I would rather first let Stark know that I am here and that I exist. His actions suggest he had no idea that I was present. Once he knows that his father was trying to help me, I am sure he will be won over. Besides, we are fighting the same enemy.”

“And his army is experienced and knows how to run their way over the Westerlands. With them and the Riverlords, we’d have a fighting chance against the Iron Throne.” Lord Uppcliffe said. The man had one eye, and a hooked hand.

Lord Belmore who had supported Gendry from the off spoke then. “We are going to have to think of another way to tempt others into your side, Sire. A marriage must needs be arranged, for both you and for Lord Robert.”

At this Lady Lysa who had remained silent for most of the discussion spoke. “Robert is but a child.”

“He is Lord of the Vale, one of the most powerful lords in the realm. He is a valuable tool in this war.” Ser Brynden said bluntly.

“He is a child.” Lady Lysa said.

Seeing that they might not get anywhere with this impasse, Gendry quickly said. “Let us simply stick to offering my hand, my lords.” He looked at Lady Lysa then to see how she would receive that, she seemed happier, for she smiled at him.

“I will give you the full support of the Vale, my King.” She said. “So, long as you promise to protect my Sweetrobin.”

“I promise.” Gendry said. Though he thought that the boy might do well away from his mother.

“You will need to be crowned as well.” Ser Brynden said. “A proper coronation, before winter sets in.”

“There is a crown from one of the old Arryn Kings in the vault here, you could use that.” Lady Lysa suggested.

Gendry looked at Ser Jasper who nodded. “That would be most kind of you, my lady.” Gendry said simply.

“Very well, it is sorted then.” Lady Lysa said, she rose and curtseyed before him and said. “In honour of my liege lord, and son Lord Robert Arryn I hereby recognise you, Gendry Baratheon as the rightful King of Westeros, and Lord of the Seven Kingdoms. I pledge my fealty to you and only you.”

Others got up and did the same, Corbray, Redfort, Grafton, Uppcliffe, and countless others. Eventually, they were done and Gendry smiled. “I promise to be a good and just King. Now let us go and right the wrongs of the regime on the throne now.” There was a cheer at that.

Chapter Text

Chapter 64: Voyager

 

Jon still felt angry at his father, his uncle, or whatever Eddard Stark was to him. His mother’s identity had been kept from him for so long, and he had thought during his time at King’s Landing that he could handle that. But then he had learned that not only had his mother’s identity been kept from him, but so had his father’s identity. Jon did not know what else to feel but anger. He had spoken with the Archon some time later, after Lord Stark’s revelation and had asked for a way to get to Meeren to meet his aunt. The Archon had obliged. They were family after all.

Lord Stark was before him now. Jon looked at him and said. “You won’t be able to change my mind. I have decided to go to Meeren and that’s that.”

“I am not trying to change your mind, Jon, I am simply trying to understand why you want to go there. It is a dangerous place, and Daenerys Targaryen is the Mad King’s daughter, she might not be the most stable of people.” Lord Stark said.

Jon snorted. “I am the Mad King’s grandson, by your logic I might not be the most stable of people either. And yet I have never felt more clarity in my life.”

“Jon, I didn’t mean to say you were mad.” Lord Stark.

“I did not say you had.” Jon snapped back. “Stable does not mean sane. You are not exactly stable, but you are not insane.”

Lord Stark looked surprised by that. He looked at him and asked. “Why are you going there?”

“Because Daenerys Targaryen is my aunt, the last of my father’s family and I want to know her. And I want her to know me.” Jon said simply. He had no idea whether she would believe him.

“And what if she rejects you?” Lord Stark asked.

Jon did not want to admit how much he was worried that his aunt would reject him. He hoped that she would not, but either way he had to try. “Then she rejects me. It does not bother me; I have had an entire lifetime of being rejected. One more person rejecting me does not matter.” With that he turned away from Lord Stark and finished packing up his things.

Lord Stark however, it seemed was not done. “Jon, look at me.”

Jon thought about not looking at him but then decided against such childish things, and turned around. “Yes?” He asked.

“Jon, I know that you are angry and that you are hurting. I know you want to know more about your father’s family, and I know that I am the last person you want to see right now, but just take some time to think things through okay. Do not do anything rash, or anything that would hurt you.” Lord Stark said.

“I will keep that in mind.” Jon said. He turned back around and heard Lord Stark sigh. He heard him leave the room, and Jon nodded to himself, Lord Stark was not so imposing a man as Father had been. And that was a relief, but also a sadness to Jon. He fought back the sadness with anger. Father had lied to him and Lord Stark was the resemblance of that lie.

He continued packing and then when he was done he called for the servants. Three men had been assigned to him by the Archon, their names were Mollo, Ser Tristan Rivers a former knight of the Golden Company, and Willem Snow, a bastard sellsword who looked like Uncle Benjen. Mollo took his things, and Jon walked to the entrance of the manse. The Archon was there waiting for him. “Thank you.” Jon said.

“You are more than welcome, Jon.” The Archon said.

“How will I know who to look for in Meeren?” Jon asked, for the Archon had told him that one of his contacts would be waiting for him when he docked in.

“The man will have a blue beard, and blue in his hair. He has a three-pronged beard. He will be the swaggering man at the front with two daggers.” The Archon said.

“Does he have a name?” Jon asked.

“Daario Naharis.” The Archon said.

Jon nodded, and got into the carriage that had come. Ghost got in as well, the Archon stood at the entrance, Lord Stark appeared at his side. Jon nodded to them both and then the carriage moved off. As the Archon’s manse disappeared into the distance, Jon wondered at what he would find when he got to Meeren. He wondered whether the rumours were true and his aunt had dragons, or if they were simply stories. His aunt certainly had achieved a lot, taking Yunkai, Astapor and Meeren, she had carved out an empire for herself.

Soon enough the carriage stopped. Jon got out, and he watched as Mollo put the bags on the ship. Ser Tristifer came to stand at his side as did Willem Snow. Jon eventually moved to get on the ship, as he did so, he felt something, a shake or a shiver, whatever it was, it passed very quickly. He got onto the ship, nodded to the captain and then asked Ser Tristifer. “How long till Meeren?”

“Perhaps a week, with good winds. A month with bad ones. We shall soon be there though.”

“Good. I have waited long enough.” Jon said simply.

Chapter Text

Chapter 65: Fair Isle

 

The sun was just about rising as Fair Isle came into view. It had been his plan from the moment he had left Winterfell And the North. To strike at the Westerlands and keep everyone guessing. Fair Isle contained gems and diamonds, and wood, precious wood that they needed for their ships. He had won the Driftwood Crown and the Seastone chair by promising to bring the riches of the Westerlands and the north to the Iron Islands and he intended to keep that promise. His Uncle Euron had returned briefly, before departing once it had been confirmed that Theon was the uncontested claimant. Theon would’ve killed him, had kinslaying not been a sin. He did not trust Euron.

He had commanded his other uncles Victarion and Aeron to make arrangements. Victarion was commanding one squadron of the fleet, whilst Aeron commanded another. The Damphair had not wanted to command, but had fallen under the orders his King had given him. Asha commanded the reserve, Theon did not trust her and those around her, including that fucking bugger taker. He ignored that and looked out as the alarm was sounded on Fair Isle. Dagmar Cleftjaw came to stand at his side.

“They are stirring.” The old man said.

“Aye. And we will meet them.” Theon replied. “Prepare the oars.” He roared, and the order was passed down the line. Soon enough the ships came. Theon looked for the Fair Gem, the flagship of the Fair Isle fleet but it did not appear. It seemed Lord Farman had not deigned to join his men in this fight.

Theon drew his bow and knocked an arrow, his squire Pate lit the fire. He held his range and then fired. The first ship’s sail caught fire. He repeated the trick thrice more and watched as others followed his example. Some like his uncle Victarion had grumbled at that, calling it cowardice. Whilst others had said it was brilliant. Theon knew it would be the quickest way to resolve this fight without losing too many lives.

The flames continued to be lit, and Theon watched in appreciation. He then turned at the sound of horns. He saw the banner of Farman and knew then that the lord had finally stirred himself. “Prepare the scorpions.” He commanded. The heavy weapons were dragged forth, and they awaited his command. Theon waited, watching as the ships came closer into site. He heard screams coming from the other ships, and then just as it seemed as though Farman would crash into his own ship he barked out. “Fire.” The bolts were loosed, he watched as the ships around Farman were dragged down by the weights of the scorpion bolts, or as they were dragged to smash into one another.

Farman’s ship came close, then Theon moved forward, he knocked an arrow, got Farman in his site and loosed an arrow. It narrowly missed Farman, so he knocked another arrow, aimed and loosed. This one hit Farman in the eye. He heard the man scream in pain. Theon knocked another arrow, gestured for Pate to light the fire, when the arrow was searing hot, he loosed. It hit Farman and engulfed him in fire. Theon stepped back and gave the signal, his ship moved back.

He waited a few moments and then as expected, the rest of the Fair Isle fleet removed the Farman sail, and raised the white banner of peace. One ship came close by, on it was a knight, big, with greying hair and a brown beard. “Who are you?” Theon demanded.

“I am Ser Garth Clifton, husband to Lady Jeyne Farman.” The man replied.

“Have you come to surrender?” Theon demanded.

“I have. I have no wish to send more men to their deaths.” Ser Garth said, though Theon could tell he said the words reluctantly.

Theon nodded. “Very well, all I require is that you bend the knee. Both now and in your castle.” Theon said.

He thought for a moment that Ser Garth would object, but then he sighed. “Very well.”

Theon gestured for the plank to be brought forward, it was attached to Ser Garth’s ship, the man walked on. He drew his sword and placed it at Theon’s feet and then kneeled. “I, Ser Garth Clifton, husband to Lady Jeyne Farman, Lady of Fair Isle, do hereby recognise you, Theon Greyjoy, King of the Iron Isles and the North, as my sovereign.” Theon nodded.

He then placed his hands on the man’s shoulders and helped him stand. “I recognise your oath of fealty, Ser Garth.” With that the man remained on his ship and together they sailed to Fair Isle, where Ser Garth called out the news, eventually the port was opened to them, and their ships docked.

Theon stepped off the ship accompanied by Ser Garth and Dagmar and his guards. They walked up the street, avoiding the citizens who watched with pure hatred in their eyes. One man spat at Theon, but he was then knocked down by his friend. They walked in silence until they came to the castle. The castle gates were opened to them, Theon walked in first, followed by Ser Garth.  They made their way through the courtyard into the Lord’s Solar, where Lady Jeyne was waiting. Some look passed between lady and her husband, for soon she was curtseying. “Your Majesty.” She said.

Theon nodded to her. “I have recognised you and your husband as the rulers of Fair Isle. You shall rule in my name, and pay taxes directly to me now, not the Rock and not to King’s Landing. I intend to be a fair and just King.”

“Of course Your Majesty, thank you, Your Majesty. How might we be of service to you?” Lady Jeyne asked.

Theon looked at her, assessing whether she could be trusted, deciding to take that risk he asked. “Tell me, what do you know of Cersei Lannister.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 66: Dominoes

 

Viserys knew that the men of the Golden Company were getting frustrated, he was getting frustrated as well. But storms and other things had delayed their departure for Westeros, and instead they had remained in Volon Therys for a time, doing little more than sparring and plotting. They had been given dragon eggs by the Triarchy as well, three eggs, which had supposedly been in Volantis since the Doom. They were silver, blood red and brown. Viserys wondered how they were going to get them to hatch, but he knew that simply having them was an advantage.

Of course, right now he simply wanted to depart and hit something. Being in a room with Connington was driving him mad, the man had little patience for him or his ideas, and it was aggravating. “You know my lord; you do not always have to sit there and look as if someone’s cock has just been pulled out of your mouth.” Viserys said, referencing the rumours he had since heard about Connington and his brother.

Connington looked deeply angered by that but instead said. “I am simply trying to think of how to reduce the ridiculousness of what you have suggested, my Prince.”

“What is so ridiculous about what I have suggested? We cannot stay here for much longer, the men of the company will start demanding payment, and right now we don’t have that kind of access. We must leave now.” Viserys said.

“And I think if we leave now before Strickland has decided he is ready to move we shall lead everyone to a watery grave. You have seen the weather outside.” Connington replied.

Viserys looked at the man and said. “The weather is clearing up, my lord, and we know  that the Volanteenes are more than happy to provide us with the necessary ships and equipment to get the company across. Aegon is the King, the company have sworn themselves to him, if they do not move they are breaking their word and committing treason. I do not think they will want to do that, regardless of Strickland’s own personal feelings.”

Connington went to say something but was silenced when the King spoke. “I agree with Viserys. We must move and we must move now. We have delayed enough. The time has come to decide where exactly we are to go.”

Rhaenys spoke then. “I think we have to talk about Strickland first.”

“What about him?” Aegon asked. Viserys remembered what Rhaenys had said to him and since then he had been keeping a very careful eye on the man who claimed to be his nephew.

“Well, he was never keen to leave until you had married Daenerys, and now we know she is facing trouble, and yet he has not proposed that we head to Meereen, it is somewhat odd do you not think?” Rhaenys replied.

Aegon looked torn over that. Connington was the one who spoke. “Princess, Strickland is many things, a coward is most certainly one of them, but he also has brains. And he knows he is more likely to get what he wants if he moves to Westeros than to Meereen. Daenerys Targaryen is not someone we need to be dealing with right now.”

Viserys snorted. “So, now you are a convert to that line of thinking are you?” He looked at Connington and said. “Took you long enough.”

He wanted Connington to rise to the bait, but the man simply said. “I have had enough time to think, and I have come to the conclusion that it is the right course of action.”

Viserys said nothing, but he did think that Connington was talking out of his arse. The King spoke then. “We must decide where we are going to land. Some have suggested Dorne to immediately win the support of the Prince, but I think that would be a mistake. We must ensure that we are not going cap in hand to anyone. Therefore, I think the Stormlands or the Crownlands would be the best solution.”

Viserys thought over that for a moment and then said. “I think the Stormlands. It would strike right at the heart of the matter; it would ensure that the Stormlords and the members of the usurper’s court would have to pay attention.” He looked at Connington and said. “Hells, we could even likely look to take Griffin’s Roost to ensure Lord Connington has his seat back.”

Surprisingly, Connington agreed with him. “I agree, my Prince. We build a solid base of support if we move from the Stormlands. And that way we are also showing to the Dornish and others that we mean business.”

Aegon looked as if he deeply approved of this for he said. “Good, I agree, Storm’s End it is then.”

Rhaenys then said. “And what are we going to do about the dragon eggs? We cannot simply leave them here, and dragging them with us would simply leave things open for them to be stolen.”

“Well we simply need to find out a way to try and hatch them.” the King said.

“And how are we going to do that?” Rhaenys asked. “I do not want to have to get into a fire, and I suspect that you do not want to either.”

Viserys looked Rhaenys and then said. “Well, let’s try something.” With that he stood up, and moved to the chest and opened the chest, took out the eggs, and placed them on the table before them. He took out his knife and said. “Let’s see how this goes.” He cut his right hand, and allowed the blood drop onto the eggs, he then took a torch  and held it over the eggs. He then watched as something began to shift and change over the eggs, suddenly the eggs began to crack. Three dragons appeared then. Viserys looked at them all and said. “Well now, that was something.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 67: Family Discussions

 

Tywin Lannister was a man who dominated whatever room he was in. Things had always been that way for as long as Cersei could remember. Father had a simple aura about him that both impressed her and terrified her. And as she had gotten older, it had deeply annoyed her. Her father was a brilliant man, but he had his faults. And as such, this family meeting was displaying one of them right now. He wanted everything to be done his way, or no way at all.

“The wedding must take place before the year ends, that way we can ensure that the Tyrells are tied to the throne at the earliest opportunity.” Father said.

“Yet it is more realistic that we would have everything sorted out by the first day of the new year.” Cersei countered. “I have spoken with Lady Alerie and we are both agreed on that. What with needing to get all the guests in, get them housed and get the presents and security sorted. We will need the extra two weeks.” She had actually come to find Lady Alerie to be quite a charming woman, completely different to her buffoon of a husband, and her harridan of a goodmother.

“The longer you leave it, the much better the chances are that something will go wrong. Do not forget that the Dornish are coming to this wedding as well.” Father said. “That will make things even tenser.”

“Prince Oberyn is not coming alone. He is coming with his nephew and half a dozen Dornish lords and ladies, he will not dare do something that would bring them into disrepute.” Cersei said. She was not sure how true that was but she hoped it was very true.

Lord Tywin did not look convinced, but he nodded all the same, clearly he had other things on his mind. “Now, on this matter of Dragonstone, Sire, I would recommend sending Ser Barristan and Ser Loras with the host to take the castle. Let the Lord Commander do something worthwhile and let the newest member of the Kingsguard prove himself.”

Cersei saw her son shift then. “I will command the host to take Dragonstone. It is only fitting that I take it from my aunt and cousin. And there is a red whore there. It will be good to deliver her head to the High Septon.”

There was a new fierceness to her son that she had not seen before, it had emerged in the days following the Blackwater, it was somewhat terrifying. Her father did not seem impressed. “I would not advise that you follow that process, Sire. Dragonstone is difficult to take, and we do not want you getting injured trying to take it.”

The King seemed as if he were not willing to have his honour insulted. “I will take Dragonstone.” He said firmly.

Lord Tywin looked as if he wanted to hit the King, Cersei closed her eyes, her father did not like being told his idea was being rejected, and as such her son did not like being bossed around. “Sire, that would be most unwise.”

“I am the King, I will decide what is and isn’t wise. It would make far more sense for me to take Dragonstone than to allow it to fall to a member of my Kingsguard. Dragonstone is mine by rights.” The King said simply.

“And the death count that would come from you going there would only increase.” Lord Tywin said.

The King laughed. “Are you scared, old man?”

Cersei exhaled, she saw the King glare at her father, and saw something strange pass over her father. “Only a fool would not be scared, Sire.” Her father said calmly.

“Then allow me to take Dragonstone, there are other things we need to discuss.” The King said, in a tone that brooked no argument.

A heavy silence fell on proceedings, Cersei shifted, she looked at Jaime, but her brother was simply staring into space. Tyrion wore a mask to cover his facial scars, but she knew he was thinking quickly. Cersei decided to speak. “Robb Stark is still a danger, and now he has allied with Gendry Waters. No doubt they will be marching southwards soon.”

“Robb Stark is arrogant, but he is good in the field.” Tyrion said. “I think we must look to politically isolate him.”

“How?” Cersei asked. “The more he keeps winning, the more people will gravitate toward him.”

“Perhaps we must find a way to encourage Theon Greyjoy to turn away from the Westerlands and head back north.” Tyrion suggested.

Father spoke then. “He will not listen to us. The boy wants to take as much as he can to humiliate us. He knows that he cannot go back to Robb Stark now, therefore, he will continue down this path. Soon enough he will try and take the Rock.” Surprisingly, father did not look absolutely terrified by that prospect.

“And, that does not worry you?” Cersei asked.

“He will fail.” Father said simply.

“How do you know?” Cersei asked.

“Because I have people within his camp who are going to advise him to go one way, when he should be going another way.” Father said simply.

“That is all well and good, but there is something else I wanted to ask.” Tyrion said.

“And what is that?” Father asked, looking at Tyrion with barely disguised contempt.

“Are the rumours that you mean to see me wed to Sansa Stark true?” Tyrion asked.

“No.” the King said then. “Lady Sansa will marry Tommen.” Something passed over her son’s face then and Cersei wondered if he had thought of that idea himself to keep Lady Sansa close by or if father had suggested it.

“Ah, I see.” Tyrion said.

“You will be married to a Tyrell cousin in good time.” Father said. There was a brief pause as if father was thinking of something repugnant. “And at that time you will return to the Rock to prepare for the lordship.”

Cersei gasped, and Tyrion looked stunned. “I thank you.”

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 68: Meereen

 

The journey to Meereen had been long and tiring. At points he had thought he might never make it due to the inordinate amount of pressure on the ship and the dangers they faced. Once or twice they had come across battering waves and pirates. And he had feared for his life. Yet somehow, they had made it through. He had arrived in Meereen some three days ago, greeted by a man with blue hair and a blue beard, named Daario Naharis, the man was the Archon’s man in Queen Daenerys camp. Naharis was bold and brash, and he very rarely said anything without it having a meaning that became quite clear.

Meereen itself was hot and stuffy, the Unsullied roamed the streets as guards, Dothraki roamed the streets, sellswords roamed the streets and there was whispers around of some sort of plague coming from Yunkai, and of other things happening. Some sort of Harpy was wreaking havoc and damage across Meereen as well. That was the reason Jon had not been able to meet the Queen, his aunt, until now. Daario had come to him that morning and told him to prepare. He had dressed in his finest tunic, black and blue, and Ghost had come with him.

Now, he stood waiting to be introduced. He cleared his thoughts as he heard his name. “Your Majesty, may I present Jon Snow from Westeros.” Jon stepped through the open doors, he walked straight ahead, passing a great many men and women. He stopped before the throne, and bowed before the woman sat on it.

“Your Majesty.” He said. He kept his eyes lowered.

“Rise.” The woman said.

He did as he was bid and looked at her, she was small, his aunt, she had silver hair and violet eyes, and a confidence about her that was intriguing. “Snow?” the woman said. “You are from the north then?”

Before Jon could answer, the man who stood slightly below the throne spoke. “He is Lord Eddard Stark’s son, Your Majesty.”

Jon looked at the man and blinked. “Jorah Mormont.” He said. The man bore an eyepatch over his right eye, and he had a great many scars over his face. Jon remembered hearing about Mormont, about the disgrace he had brought to House Mormont and the North through his dealings with slavery.

The Queen looked at him. “You are Eddard Stark’s son?”

Jon hesitated, he did not know how to respond to that, was it too soon to say he was not and reveal his true parentage. The Queen looked as if she might throw him in a cell, or feed him to one of the dragons he had seen flying about. He took a breath. “I was raised that way, Your Majesty.”

“What do you mean, raised that way?” the Queen asked.

Jon hesitated, then decided that he had already said the words now, he had to commit to them. “When Robert Baratheon rebelled against the throne, and Lord Stark did as well, they did it under the impression that Prince Rhaegar had kidnapped Lady Lyanna, and that because of this King Aerys had burned both Lord Rickard and Brandon Stark. His son and heir. As such, they fought the war, they removed King Aerys from the throne and then Lord Eddard went looking for his sister. He found her in a tower, in Dorne. Guarded by three men of the Kingsguard, the finest three knights to ever wear the white cloak. By rights they should have gone to Dragonstone to protect Prince Viserys who was their King now, and yet there they were. Lord Stark guessed what they were guarding, and after he had fought and killed them, he found Lady Lyanna, his sister holding a babe. That babe was me, Your Majesty.” Jon said. He saw the Queen looking at him with confusion and then looking at Ser Jorah, who shrugged.

“A convenient story.” The Queen said. “If true, it would mean you are the rightful King.”

“I do not know whether that is the case, Prince Rhaegar was disinherited by King Aerys during the rebellion.” Jon lied. Knowing he could work his way into her good graces this way, he thought she needed some flattery.

“So, why did Lord Stark raise you as his bastard?” The Queen asked. “His brother had sired a bastard on Ashara Dayne, why not claim you as that?”

Jon had wondered at that sometimes, during his anger and his brooding, but had decided on this answer. “Because he was too honourable to shame his dead brother. Therefore, he shamed himself and his wife.” He wondered if the man had told Lady Catelyn that or not.

“And why should I believe you?” the Queen asked. “What proof do you have?”

Jon pulled out a document he had had Lord Stark write and sign, he handed it to a guard, who handed it to the Queen. “A written testimony by Lord Eddard confirming everything I have just said. Ser Jorah will know if I am lying or not, he has seen Lord Eddard’s seal and script before.”

The Queen read the letter and then handed it off to Ser Jorah, who read it and said simply. “It is Lord Eddard’s writing and his seal.”

Jon breathed a sigh of relief at that. The Queen looked at him and asked. “Well, what do you want? If you do not want the throne, what is it you want?”

Jon bent the knee before her. “To serve you, Your Majesty. To help you reclaim what is rightfully yours.” The lie came easily to him and as he looked up he saw that it had worked.

The Queen got down off her throne and stood before him, she helped him rise. “You are my nephew, come, let us meet our children and see whether you can ride one.”

Surprised, Jon said. “Yes, Your Majesty.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 69: Meeting of Kings

 

Gendry had heard a lot about Harrenhal. Growing up in the slums of King’s Landing he had heard the pride with which the people there spoke about how King Aegon had reduced mighty Harren’s castle to nothingness. About how Prince Rhaegar had out classed Lord Whent during the Tourney of Harrenhal, and how King Jaehaerys had delivered it to his own sister for her personal use. It was clear to him that King’s Landing was a city for the Targaryens, and yet they would soon be ruled by him. Harrenhal, was a towering mass of burned wreckage and blackened towers. Everything was big, clearly Harren the Black had been trying to compensate for something.

The man he had come to meet was his ally. Robb Stark, Lord of Winterfell, and claimant to the thrones of the north and trident. He was sat opposite him now, his direwolf resting at his feet. Gendry found the man to be an intriguing prospect. He was confident, the veteran of dozens of battles, and a King for nearly two years. He had a beard, and the markings of a warrior. Gendry knew he was green, but he had his own experience, and he knew the ways of the street the way in which Stark could never hope to. With them in the room were the Blackfish as Robb’s great uncle, and Ser Jasper, as his own uncle.

Gendry spoke first. “Thank you for coming here, my lord.” Gendry said simply, he noticed how the man n front of him bristled slightly. “I know that Ser Brynden negotiated a deal for our alliance, and I wished to go over that now before we move into the details of our plan for attack.”

He saw a look pass between Stark and his great uncle and briefly wondered what might they be communicating. Eventually Stark said. “Okay, let us start then.”

Gendry unfurled the document and read through it, before stopping. “You are to bend the knee should we succeed in taking King’s Landing. In return for this the north will receive a thirty percent tax cut and a forty percent increase in aid during winter. Should we take the northern Crownlands or the Stormlands, you will give the Trident over to me and the Riverlords are now mine to do as I please. You shall remain King of the North, but recognise me as your overlord. As of right now, you maintain the styling of King of the North and Trident, but I hold over all command of our alliance. Are these terms acceptable to you.”

He expected Stark to push back, but the man simply said. “As long as there is an understanding that I am free to return north to kick the Ironborn out of my home, then yes, these terms are acceptable to me.”

Gendry shared a brief look with Ser Jasper and then said. “That is acceptable to me.” He extended his hand and Stark took it and they shook.

Once they were done with that, Stark said. “I think now, that we must consider the scenario we are facing. The Tyrells and Lannisters are allied together, they are going to marry Margaery Tyrell to Joffrey Baratheon and as such they will then be unstoppable. We must therefore get involved before that marriage happens. We cannot go through the marriage option, unless you would rather marry Margaery Tyrell?”

Gendry shook his head, he had heard rumours about the Tyrell girl, that she was wanton and that she did not keep to the Seven but to something worse. He did not want to marry such a girl. “No, I am happy to marry your sister, the Lady Sansa.” Gendry said. He knew that Lady Sansa was a pure girl, and one who knew more about the Faith than anyone else.

“Very well, then we must consider where to attack. We can either venture into the Stormlands and go for Storm’s End. You are King Robert’s oldest son, they are more likely to rally to you than they are anyone else. And of course the Stormlords are likely to think that Joffrey is beholden to the Lannisters, what with all the new Lannisters sitting in court.” Robb Stark said.

“The issue with the Stormlands is that it leaves our rear open. They could then attack from the Crownlands or the Reach. We both know the entire might of the Reach did not go with Mace Tyrell to King’s Landing.” Gendry pointed out, though according to reports they had heard there were some sixty thousand Reachmen near King’s Landing or in the city itself.

“We could perhaps use that to our advantage. Attack the Reach and therefore the bread basket of that alliance. Draw them away from the capital and strike when the moment is right.” Stark said.

“We would be trapped though, the deeper we move into the Reach, the further away we are from the Riverlands and a proper route of retreat.” Gendry countered. “We must venture to a place where we have the chance to attack but also to retreat. Anything else would be suicide.”

He could tell that Stark disagreed with him, and that the man wanted to attack the Reach, still, the man eventually said. “How about we go right for the throat then? Not King’s Landing, but Duskendale. It is the second port in the crownlands, and it will make them think that we are going to venture toward the capital. They will get over confident, they will send strength to challenge us. We attack Duskendale, take what we need and then retreat back into the Riverlands. And form up on a position that is beneficial to us.” Stark then pointed to a position on the map. “Here. Between Harrenhal and King’s Landing. Ivy Inn, where the dragons once danced. We shall make our stand here and fight.”

Gendry looked at the position, then at his uncle who had also come to look. His uncle gave a little nod. Gendry looked back at Stark and said. “That is acceptable to me.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 70: Fire

 

Melony, Lot Seven. That had been her lot before they had come. Before Benerro had come and plucked her from the slave pits. He had not bought her. He had killed the men trying to sell her. Telling them that they had failed the Red God, his god, and hers. Benerro had been a great man, he still was. He had taught her a lot during the centuries when they had been friends and then lovers. And he had sent her off to Westeros to finish what his fool apprentice and son Thoros had failed to do. Bring Westeros into the light and away from the dark, in preparation for the coming ice and cold. She had failed, Stannis was dead. Though she had carried his child. She had transferred that to his wife, Selyse, the woman was unbearable but she would do. The child would bring great things for the red faith.

“Your Majesty, we must move from here.” That was the Lady’s uncle whose name she had forgotten, Axel she thought.

“We cannot move from here; Lady Melisandre has said we must stay.” Selyse said. Her faith had been surprising, but then the desperate always clung to something, anything that offered them relief from their own mundane lives.

“My lady, is this true?” Ser Axel asked. Without the King, around, he had been cut free from his subservience to her.

Melisandre looked at him, and saw him quail, he was a coward. “It is. We must stay here; it is what our King would want.”

Ser Axel looked as if he wanted to spit at her, but instead he merely said. “Very well, then we shall stay here. But I will not meekly hand myself over to the Baratheon boy.”

“Oh of course not, Ser. I expect you to fight.” Melisandre said. She already knew that Ser Axel would die, the man had been fated to die from the beginning.

There was a brief silence, and then Lady Selyse spoke. “Do you know what has become of my uncle and my cousin?”

“Your uncle, Lord Alester died in the fighting. He died a hero, protecting our King with all he had. Your cousin Lord Alekyne Florent is currently a prisoner in King’s Landing, he has refused to bend the knee.” Melisandre said, she had seen this all through her eyes in the capital.

“And my brother?” Selyse asked.

Here Melisandre feigned a sigh, though she knew that the Lady would not see through it, she really was foolish. “He has bent the knee to the false King.” Indeed, Melisandre had seen that as well. And had prepared for it, encouraged it even.

Lady Selyse sighed. “I am ashamed at him. He should have done as Imry did and died fighting for his King, rather than bend the knee to a bastard.”

Melisandre said nothing. She said nothing about how Ser Imry had nearly given the fleet over to the boy on the Iron Throne, until Ser Davos had slit his throat and continued the fight. Ser Davos was missing, where she did not know, for her flames could not reach that far, and her eyes were blind to him. It made no matter though. “Ser Imry was a brave man, but perhaps Ser Erren will see the light eventually. After all, Princess Shireen is still alive and has those who will fight for her.” the red knights, men who were brave, bold and gullible.

“And who will fight for a woman?” Ser Axel asked. “And not just a woman, but a little girl?”

“All those who recognised my husband and King’s claim, uncle!” Selyse fired back.

As expected, Ser Axel retorted. “All those who would support your daughter are here on this island rock. That’s two thousand men, including the red knights! Everyone else bent the knee to the boy on the Iron Throne. Accept it, Selyse, we have lost, it is done.”

“You are wrong, and you speak treason.” Selyse fired back.

“I am not wrong. Even your old faithful knight, Ser Benedor has gone and left you.” Ser Axel fired back. That would sting the Lady, for Ser Benedor was her bastard cousin, and Melisandre suspected the only person who had ever actually loved Selyse.

The Lady looked as if she had been slapped. Her jaw was gaping open like a fish. Eventually, she found the words. “If you think our cause is so lost, why are you still here?”

“Because you are my niece, and I promised your father that I would protect you.” Ser Axel said.

There was a long silence then. Melisandre looked at the two Florents before her, and saw a man who was tired and wanting nothing more than to rest, and a woman who was just getting ready to fight. Melisandre had long thought that Lady Selyse had more fire in her than her husband did. Her husband did things for duty and ambition, but Lady Selyse truly believed in the righteousness of her cause, and it was those who believed as she did, who were the most dangerous. That was what Melisandre had come to learn during her long years on this world.

She too had once been like Selyse, fiercely believing in the right and wrong and the morals of the world. And then she had seen her mother cut down, and her father turned into a demon, all because she had questioned Benerro. Now, she believed in nothing but her mission. Perhaps that was what he had wanted all along. She blinked slightly then. The door opened and Maester Pylos entered, he bowed and said. “Ships have been sighted. They fly the Golden Stag and Lion of Joffrey Baratheon.”

“So, it begins.” Lady Selyse said.

No, now it ends.  Melisandre thought to herself.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 71: A Princess and Prince

 

The Dornish had come two weeks ago, some thirty or forty of them, following Prince Oberyn and his nephew and her betrothed, Prince Trystane. They had come and brought some new flavours with them. The capital had been awash with discussions about them and most importantly Prince Oberyn, the man who had very publicly sworn vengeance for the deaths of his sister and her children. Prince Oberyn seemed quite dangerous, he smiled and said things very glibly, but she sensed that underneath all that, there was a viper waiting to pounce. His nephew and her betrothed, was a different sort of person. He was very handsome, that much Myrcella had been able to figure out from the beginning. But other than that, he seemed very kind and he got along with Tommen, which was important to her.

They were walking around the gardens of the Red Keep now, to get to know one another better, Ser Arys of the Kingsguard followed behind them. “So, tell me, how are you finding King’s Landing, Trystane?” She asked.  He had asked her to call him that from the first meeting.

“It is an interesting place, Myrcella.” She had asked him to call her by her name as well, it was only fair. “It certainly is a lot different to Sunspear, which sounds like a very daft thing to say, but it is true. A lot is different here. For instance, the people have more access to water here than they do there. Which is not surprising given the desert nature of Sunspear.”

“I see.” Myrcella replied. She did not know if she would ever be allowed to head to Sunspear, neither Mother nor Grandfather wanted her gone from King’s Landing before Joffrey’s wedding at least, but after that and her own wedding? She did not know. “And have you been able to explore the library in the Red Keep? I remember you told me you were a great fan of literature.”

Trystane smiled at her and she found her heart quickening at the sight. He looked so very handsome when he smiled. “I have, Princess. I met someone there who I had not thought to see.” She raised an eyebrow at that and he elaborated. “Samwell Tarly, heir to Horn Hill, I had thought it odd he was here and not at the Citadel.”

“Oh?” Myrcella asked. She had not really interacted that much with Samwell Tarly apart from the odd function here and there. Tommen had interacted with him more, and Jon Snow had as well before he had betrayed them. “You have met him before?”

Trystane nodded. “A few times, yes. Usually when he came with his father to discuss some business or the other at Starfall, where my father thought it prudent to meet him. He always seemed to have a head for numbers and books. Therefore, I had thought he would be in Oldtown learning to forge his chain. It was a pleasant surprise to find him here.”

Myrcella filed away that information for later, it could be of use, especially as she suspected that Randyll Tarly was more dangerous than he appeared. “I think his father wanted him to get something from King’s Landing or from his interest in books, and did not want to send him to the Citadel, therefore he came here. Lord Eddard arranged it.”

Something crossed Trystane’s face then, she noticed it, a quirk of his eyes, but then it was gone. “I see, that’s quite interesting. I do think the Citadel is lacking in good recruits.”

Myrcella raised an eyebrow. “What makes you say that?” She had not bothered to pay much attention to discussions about that far away place during her daily meetings with Mother and Father before, and Joffrey did not care about the Citadel. Perhaps that had been a mistake?

“My uncle has contacts in the citadel still, as I am sure you are aware he spent some time forging a link there before he got bored. His sources say that the citadel is being filled with men who are questioning the philosophies of education and the divine principle, which in of itself is not a bad thing, however, some of those same people come from less than reputable backgrounds. Consequently, they are using the power that being novices gives them to corrupt those they are meant to help. As such, the citadel is becoming a corrupt institution, liable to be broken and changed with the whims of whoever controls not the Archmaesters, but the novices.” Trystane said.

“But surely the Archmaesters would be the more important position, given that they control the education of the novices and sit on the conclave?” Myrcella wondered.

“You would think so, wouldn’t you?” Trystane replied. “But the Archmaesters are old and many are forgetful, the novices have taken advantage of that to make something of themselves.”

Myrcella wondered at that and then she asked. “How reliable is the information your uncle has received?” It would not surprise her in the least if Oberyn Martell was saying things to shit against the institution which had more than likely rejected him for his eccentricities.

“Reliable, as far as I know.” Trystane conceded.

“Well, perhaps we should write a letter to Lord Hightower, and get him involved. The Citadel is within his city after all.” Myrcella said.

“Indeed, hopefully this thing will get sorted out.” Trystane agreed.

Deciding that she wanted to speak about another issue, Myrcella asked. “Have you managed to read the book on Mariah Martell that I pointed out to you, then?” One of their first conversations had been about Daeron the Good and Mariah Martell and how their marriage had changed the history of Westeros, the Prince had expressed deep interest in that. So, she’d recommended him Kaeth’s book.

“I have, yes. I found it most interesting.” Kaeth writes more about their time in King’s Landing which is something I had expected, though it would have been interesting to see how they managed on Dragonstone as well. I think it fascinating that Daeron the Good gave so much leeway for some of his wife’s eccentricities.” Trystane said.

Myrcella quirked an eyebrow. “How so?”

“Well, King’s Landing is not Dorne, it is not as forward thinking, even now. Women it seems are expected to not wield power at all, and as such, the fact that King Daeron allowed his wife to sit in on council meetings, took her advice publicly and allowed her to implement policy? That is fascinating. It changed my view of things here.” Trystane said.

Myrcella smiled. “Good.”

Trystane laughed. “Was that your intention then, Myrcella?”

“I intend for us to work together as a partnership, Trystane. What better way to show you the benefits of such a thing than through the eyes of the greatest partnership that existed.” Myrcella replied.

“Well played.” Trystane said. She turned, smiled at him and then popped a kiss to his cheek.

Chapter Text

Chapter 72: Snake In The Citadel

 

Alleras, Sarella, her name was her name regardless of what guise she wore. She had always thought it ridiculous that the citadel, this great place of learning did not allow women to attend its hallowed halls. Her father had thought it ridiculous as well, and so when she had gone to him asking for a favour, he had agreed. And so here she was. Smarter than all of the other novices, and one step away from earning the first link in her chain, Sarella Sand, or Alleras as she was known here, opened up a book on the Dance of Dragons by Archmaester Gormon a man she had come to know as quite unreliable, but nonetheless interesting.

When the stag picks up the hammer, he will slay the dragon and peace will reign for a thousand years. That was the prophecy that was supposedly heard by Hugh the Hammer during the Dance of Dragons, when he was resting at Tumbleton. It was that that supposedly inspired him to pick up arms and try to claim the throne. However, we can dismiss this as little more than hearsay for there was little evidence to suggest that Hugh ever heard that prophecy, or anything of its sort. It seems more likely that simple ambition led him to wish to claim the throne. All accounts agree that Hugh of the Hammer was an aggressive and ambitious man, who dreamed above his station.

Who his ancestors were, none can say, it is possible that his sire might well have been Prince Baelon the Brave, or perhaps even King Viserys, for both men were known to have sown their seeds quite freely during the late years of the Old King’s reign. And yet we shall never know, for as many other dragonseeds and bastards in general, Ser Hugh never knew his father. His boldness, however, is not the focus of this particular chapter. Instead, we focus on the actions of another stag.

Lady Elenda Caron, was a Baratheon by marriage, and she had ambition in spades. She wished to see her daughter Cassandra as Queen. Records surviving show that she planned and plotted, but would never directly get involved in what was needed to remove Queen Jaehaera from power, instead she simply waited and watched, and when the young girl died, she made to move. It was a most interesting time at least…

She shut the book quickly, as she heard footsteps approaching. “Ah, Alleras, there you are. Good, I have been looking for you.”

She turned around and saw herself looking at Archmaester Marwyn. “Archmaester, how can I help you?” She asked. The man was kind, and intelligent, and the only person here she didn’t consider an idiot.

“I wanted your thoughts on something. An urgent matter, before I present it before the conclave.” Marwyn answered.

Sarella felt stunned. The Archmaester wanted to ask her, her thoughts on something? She was a mere novice, and he was one of the most senior Archmaesters in this whole place. “Of course, how can I help?”

Marwyn pulled up a chair and then said. “You have read Maester Sand’s account of the Great Ghiscari War of course, I know you have. But there is one passage in it that truly confuses me. And that is that even those not of the blood royal, as the Valyrians saw themselves were seen riding dragons. However, we know that when the Targaryens came to Westeros, there was only those with clear dragon blood in them who could ride dragons. Therefore, my question to you is this. Do you think it is good that the dragons are back in this world or bad?”

Sarella was confused by the question, such was the way with Marwyn, he was a smart man, a brilliant man, but by Gods was he confusing. She took a moment to think over things and then she replied. “I think the dragons are back, and that their return suggests interesting things are about to happen.”

“That does not answer my question. You are not in class now, Alleras, you do not need to be coy.” Marwyn snapped.

Sarella thought about it. Daenerys Targaryen supposedly had dragons, three of them, black, silver and green, the three were. Two of them had riders, one of which was allegedly a bastard from the north. Though she was not sure if she bought that. Dragons would mean a great many things, but what she did not know. “I do not know. It depends on their riders.”

Marwyn seemed pleased by this. “Good. The old men in the conclave will not believe me when I say this, but I believe there is more to dragon riding than meets the eye. I think we should be looking for a way to counter the Targaryen monopoly over the thing and bringing others into it.”

“How?” Sarella asked intrigued. “Only three dragons exist in the known world.”

Marwyn winked at her then. “I know that is not true. As do you.”

“What do you mean?” Sarella asked uncertainly.

“Your cousin has rides a dragon, as does her uncle and her brother.” Marwyn said.

Sarella did not know what to say in response to that. Then Marwyn started laughing. “Oh you fell for it. You really need to get used to the jests, Alleras.”

Sarella laughed then but she did not know what to think. Marwyn laughed again and then said. “We are approaching a dangerous time. You shall need to go to King’s Landing with me.”

Sarella nearly coughed then, if she went to King’s Landing she would be found out. “Me?”

“Yes, you. You will need to take these.” Marwyn replied, producing two eggs, one silver and gold and another with white and green swirls. “And give them to King Joffrey and Prince Tommen.”

Sarella looked at the man and asked. “Why?”

“To balance the scales of course.” Marwyn replied with a wink.

Chapter Text

Chapter 73:  Laws Upon Laws

 

Tommen felt the itch around his face, where the wounds had come and festered and then been cleaned. It had been a moon or more since the Battle of the Blackwater, and a moon or more since they had captured Dragonstone. Some three weeks since he had finally taken up his position as Master of Laws, to replace uncle Renly. And here he was. His face bore the scars of war, and sometimes he wondered if he should wear a hood, for he felt ugly and scarred and he did not want anyone to look at his face. Alla Tyrell, one of the ladies in waiting to Lady Margaery had burst into tears when she had seen his face. He had fled the feast then and not left his room for two days after that. But now here he was, in the Tower of the Hand, sat opposite his grandfather, who was no doubt going to test his knowledge of the Kingdom’s laws. Thankfully, he had been studying them since he was old enough to understand them.

He looked at his grandsire, and listened as Lord Tywin spoke. “We are still in a notion of war. So tell me, Your Royal Highness, what is your view on the Barth Compact?”

The Barth Compact a series of thoughts written by Septon Barth during the long and largely peaceful reign of Jaehaerys the Old King, about how to conduct oneself when one was at war. It had been followed since it was declared law. Including during the Dance. “I think that the Bath Compact was relevant when it was written during such a time as it was, when dragons roamed the Earth. However, since then the dragons have died and we have not adapted to it. That is why wars are so damned expensive. Because we are acting as if we are fighting with dragons on our side, therefore needing four times as much food and storage as we would need otherwise. Every lord who exercises that compact is putting debt onto themselves and their people. Therefore, I would suggest abolishing it. And replacing it with a more streamlined version.”

His grandsire looked interested by what he had said, at least that was the impression that Tommen had been given. “What would you include in this more streamlined compact then, Your Royal Highness?”

Tommen thought for a moment and then said. “I would include the right to forage, and depending on the size of the army, the need to pay back the smallfolk what is taken from them. I would include the right for the Immunable levy to remain in place, for that is the only way to keep an army like what the Tyrells have in the field for as long as needs be. I would also include the Desolate Pact, to ensure that the soldiers know what will happen should the stray.”

“And how would you ensure that the lords of the realm, particularly the great lords would accept this measure? As it is them that will be the ones to face the consequences of the repeal of the Barth Compact.” His grandsire asked.

Tommen thought for a moment and then said. “I would point out that there is a lowering of costs for them, therefore meaning that they do not need to raise taxes before and after the fighting to pay off such a thing. Furthermore, I would point out to the Riverlords that this would also mean that fewer armies will be rampaging through their lands to try and pay for their armies. Consequently, making life better for all.”

“And if that does not soothe them?” Lord Tywin asked.

“Then I will remind them that the writ of the throne reaches into their very homes.” Tommen said simply.

His grandsire quirked an eyebrow. “And speaking of the writ of the throne, what is your view on the direct monarchical privilege?”

Tommen took a moment to think on that, he had read extensively on this theory which had been developed by Grand Maester Munkun during the regency of Aegon III and as such applied by King Aegon and King Viserys during the reigns. “I believe that it is the right theory, but that it requires the right circumstances to be applied. For instance, in the aftermath of this current war, then will be the right time to exercise it, for there will be much that needs to be done. A great many lords have died and will die during this war, and so there will be time to ensure that the crown’s power is secured.”

“And how would you go about securing it?” Lord Tywin asked.

“Through placing maesters who are willing to expound the benefits of monarchical power within the households of those who have lost their lords. Ensuring that the education of the upcoming lords and their heirs is one that leans toward the throne and not toward decentralisation.” Tommen said.

“And what of those lords who are alive and old enough to remember the last time that the throne tried something such as this?” Lord Tywin asked him. “How would you handle them?”

Tommen thought about this, really thought, considering all possible answers and solutions and then said. “I would be sure to remind them that they derive their power from the throne and that what is good for the throne is good for them.”

“How?” Lord Tywin asked.

“Lord Tyrell likes plays, I would portray this through a play and display the lord as a smart and sensible man, who benefits from the increased power of the crown, through subtle manners, such as increased favour.” Tommen answered.

His grandsire said nothing for a moment and then placed a series of papers on the table before him. “I want you to read this, Your Royal Highness, and come to the next council meeting with a solution.”

Tommen picked up the papers and read through them. “This will be an interesting thing to talk about, especially with Uncle Tyrion on the council.”

“You let me worry about your uncle, Your Royal Highness.” Lord Tywin said. “Do your research and come up with a viable solution.”

Tommen nodded. “Yes, my lord hand.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 74: Kraken On The Bend

 

Fair Isle had fallen relatively easily, and whilst there, Theon had gotten some very useful information from Lady Jeyne Farman about Cersei Lannister, which he was now using. One thing he had learned from Lady Catelyn Stark was the usefulness of singers. And now they were moving up and down the Westerlands spreading his message in verse, verse which the Westerlords and the common folk believed was coming from Casterly Rock, from one Damon Lannister, castellan of the Lannister’s seat. Oh, that was brilliant, simply brilliant. And now of course, he was in Kayce, with the gold that Kayce provided for his plans. Of course, his lords were impatient and so he had summoned a meeting of those present with him, and not elsewhere to discuss strategy.

“We are doing well.” Theon began. “Fair Isle remains ours and continues to supply minerals and metals thus enriching our coffers. Feastfires has fallen to us and is providing us with rubies and other rare gems, to sell to others as well as wood needed for our ships. And Kayce, why with Kayce we have righted a great wrong. Lord Kenning has bent the knee and recognised what we all knew was true from many years ago.” Lord Terrence Kenning was a proud man, who had fought long and hard to protect his home. He had only bent the knee after three of his four sons had been slain before him. His only surviving son named Tywin, was now Theon’s cupbearer.

“That is all well and good, Sire, but where are we going to be heading to next?” Ser Harras Harlaw asked. “We cannot simply remain where we are. We must keep moving.”

Lord Goodbrother replied then. “Harlaw, one would think you are growing impatient with our King. A most unusual line of thinking considering how he is enriching us.”

Harlaw snorted. “I am simply speaking my mind. The King has asked that we do that, and so I am.” The man then looked at him. “Would you rather I lie to you, Sire?”

“No.” Theon said simply. “I would rather you speak the truth to me.”

“You see.” Ser Harras said.

Theon ignored the man and said. “Now, we are growing richer, that is true. Our trade with Lys and Myr is growing exponentially, as is our trade with Dorne. However, we cannot simply rely on them, perhaps the time is coming for an outside alliance.”

“With how?” Lord Codd asked, the man was big, fat and a terror on the battlefield. “The Iron Throne will clearly not want to ally with you, niot when you are trying to take what is the hand of the King’s seat of power from him.”

“Clearly not him.” Theon said. “But this King Gendry, he is someone we can ally with.”

“Really? Do you think he will allow you to keep your crown?” Lord Blacktyde asked. Theon liked Blacktyde he had sense. “After all, he has decided that Robb Stark will give up his crown when the time is right, and has promised revenge against you.”

At this, Theon smiled. “He will have no choice. He cannot take the Westerlands without a fleet there to keep things interesting. We have the only fleet available to him and therefore he will need me. Stark will also want something of revenge against Joffrey Baratheon. I can give him that.”

“How?” Lord Codd asked sounding suspicious.

“I will give him his family back.” Theon said. He raised a hand before his lords could voice some sort of question. “Lord Rodrik Ryswell holds Winterfell now, but Robb Stark does not know that, he still thinks that the men of the Iron Islands hold it, because of the plans I put in place before I left. Consequently, I can change those plans and make him think Winterfell is free. With his seat of power free, he will be more likely to consider an alliance. And if he advises Gendry Baratheon of an alliance then such a thing will happen.”

“How can you be so sure?” Lord Codd asked.

Theon gestured to his uncle Aeron. “Stark was the one advised that boy King to raid Duskendale and Rosby, they have done so and as such succeeded as Stark no doubt told the boy King they would. As such Stark is now the trusted confidant of the boy King.”

“Therefore, he will do as he is asked, no doubt. If Stark tells him to ally with me, he will.” Theon replied.

“I see.” Lord Codd replied.

Lord Goodbrother spoke then. “And what of the Westerlands as a whole then? Will you take it all, or just those areas on the coast?”

Theon looked at the man, and said. “I shall take Lannisport thereby choking the trade for House Lannister. I will also take Casterly Rock and have access to the entirety of the gold in the Westerlands that way.”

“How?” Lord Goodbrother asked. “You think they won’t strengthen the Rock and Lannisport?”

“Aye, they will, and I am counting on that.” Theon said.

“Then how do you expect to take the Rock?” Goodbrother asked again.

“I have something they do not know about. A man who was kept prisoner in Rock for five months whilst they changed everything else, a man of the sea, and a man of God.” Theon said.

Aeron spoke then. “I know the way into the Rock, through the prisons, and we shall have them.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 75: Lost Lady

 

The Ironborn had been removed. Winterfell had been freed, and yet her son remained in the north. Robb had not returned, instead he had marched further south. His wife remained at Riverrun. She had not known what to think when she had read his letter. She had only thanked the Seven that Lord Walder Frey had died and that his son Stevron was a smarter and kinder man than him. Theon was gone now and did not seem likely to return. Rodrik Ryswell held Winterfell, and treated her and her sons with the greatest courtesy, but she did not know what to make of him. She had not spoken to him in the months he had resided in Winterfell, beyond normal courtesies. And she was tired of it.

Catelyn had summoned him to her solar, so that they might talk. He was sat opposite her. Wearing thick furs, and his beard was greying, his hair was white as snow. Catelyn took a moment and then said. “My lord, I thank you for aiding us in freeing Winterfell from the clutches of the Ironborn. However, it has been five moons since that event. I am not sure what it is you are seeking by remaining here. I wish to know that.”

Lord Rodrik said nothing for a moment. He merely shifted in his seat, and then he said. “I am here to ensure that Winterfell does not fall under enemy hands again. Ser Rodrik is dead, my lady and as such there is none suitable amongst the remaining castle guard to serve as the protector for the King’s mother and his brothers. As such, I remain here with my men.”

Catelyn looked at him and asked. “Is that the only reason you remain here, my lord? I know that you are a proud man, and acting as the maid for a woman and two boys can not be resting easy for you.”

Lord Rodrik shifted again and Catelyn knew he was going to lie before he spoke. “It is enough to know that I am doing my duty, my lady.”

Catelyn smiled. “My lord, we are both too old to be pretending to be children here. Tell me the truth. What is it that makes you stay?”

Lord Rodrik looked as if he were going to say another lie and then he sighed. “You are right my lady; we are both too old to play that game. Very well. I remain here, because I do not know whether or not the Ironborn will come or if some other foe will emerge from the north.” Catelyn’s eyebrow raised and so Lord Rodrik continued. “The Boltons and their bannermen have been causing disturbances for some time. I had word from Lord Manderly that Lady Donella’s corpse was found buried outside the city three days ago, bearing the mark of the bastard. Furthermore, Harys Bolton has laid claim to Hornwood through his grandmother. However, the closest claimant is Tallhart’s boy, and therefore we risk bringing about a war there. You know this of course.”

“I do.” Catelyn replied. “But there is something more, isn’t there. Something you’re not telling me.”

Lord Rodrik sighed. “My daughter Barbrey has long hated you, my lady. She hated that you were betrothed to Brandon Stark, and then she hated that you married Lord Eddard. And now she has allied with Roose Bolton and they intend to cause trouble for you. They want your son, and my King to die. They want to cause trouble. Bolton will try and get his in with Tywin Lannister and be named Lord Protector and he will then serve as regent for your son Prince Brandon and likely marry him to his niece Lady Barbra. He will then give Barbrey the chance to remove you.”

Catelyn felt as if she’d just been hit a wall. She did not know what to think, whether to believe Lord Rodrik and order his arrest by association or to laugh for the sheer absurdity of it all. She took one look at the man and sighed. “How did you find out?”

“I found the letters in Barbrey’s rooms when I visited Barrowton, two weeks ago. I have been waiting for more evidence before I came to you.” Lord Rodrik said.

“And I see that you have found it then?” Catelyn asked.

“I have, my lady. In a about three minutes’ time there will be a fire in the Wintertown, she will expect you to go there to observe it’s putting out. In that time, she will have her men within my own army come and take command of your sons. She will then expect me to be there waiting for her in the audience chamber.” Lord Rodrik said.

Catelyn looked at the man, her heart pounding, wondering how she had never considered Lady Barbrey a threat, when she quite clearly was. She looked at Lord Rodrik, saw the way he held himself and she knew the answer to her question before she even asked it. “And yet you are not going to do that, why?”

Lord Rodrik straightened. “When I was a boy, my father introduced me to Lord Edwyle Stark, he was a fierce man, some might say demented even. But he was a Stark. My father taught me one important lesson. The north can survive without the south, without food and without water, but it cannot survive without the Starks. What my daughter wants to do is to change that. I cannot allow that.” There was a brief pause and then the man continued. “Furthermore, your husband, Lord Eddard was my friend once, and that means something to me.”

A man entered the room then, covered in soot and blood. “My lady, there is a fire in Wintertown.”

Catelyn looked at Lord Rodrik and said. “You know what to do, my lord.”

The man stood, bowed and then straightened. “I shall take my men with me.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 76: The King Who Is

 

Joffrey sat the Iron Throne of his father, and his ancestors, and he took a moment to just think. The crown atop his head was a solid band of gold, with seven rubies inserted into it. Stag horns came from the top to curl around his head. It was a heavy crown, to symbolise the weight of being King. There were a great many benefits to being King, but there was a great weight to it as well. He could not marry the woman he loved, even though she would make a far better Queen than Margaery. The lady was interesting and smart, but she was not Sansa, she did not light a fire in him. And yet he would marry her, to keep her father and his mighty army onside. Sansa was to marry Tommen and that broke his heart, for his brother and for Sansa. He wished he could do as the dragonspawn had often done, and take two wives, but that would not be proper. Though he might spare Tommen the guilt, and ask him to look into it.

He cleared his throat then and decided to get on with the business of council. “Bring the man in.” he commanded. Ser Janos Slynt nodded and walked to the doors of the throne room, he commanded that they be opened and so they were. The man was brought in, accompanied by three red cloaks and three gold cloaks. He was brought before the foot of the throne, where five members of the Kingsguard stood. Joffrey looked at the man and said. “Petyr Baelish, Lord of the Fingers. You had one duty, to prevent Lady Lysa Arryn from allowing her lords and knights to join in rebellion against the throne. The presence of the Vale knights and their army at the Battle of Duskendale shows that you have failed. What do you have to say for yourself?” If he had his way he’d execute the man now, but there was need for a trial and a suitable replacement for him.

“Sire, I admit that my overtures to Lady Lysa were successful whilst I was there, but she is weak and easily manipulated. Her uncle, the Blackfish whispered some words into her ear and got her to forget her sense and duty. However, all is not lost.” Baelish said, he looked as if he might shit himself. Joffrey was tempted to let him.

“How so?” Joffrey asked.

“Sire, I have spies in the camp of the Valemen and the northmen. There are lords there who owe me a debt and so I have called in that debt. They are providing information and as such it was this information that helped the throne in Duskendale.” Baelish replied.

Joffrey knew that he should perhaps look at his grandsire who was stood at the foot of the throne on the right, but Joffrey was growing tired of Lord Tywin’s continued insistence on meddling. Instead he simply said. “Indeed, your information proved useful, and yet they still came with their banners. They still declared for the bastard Gendry Waters. So, please tell us, Lord Baelish, why should we not have you thrown into a black cell to await trial? Or better yet, tell us why we shouldn’t have you executed now?” he heard the murmurs of the court, and knew some would think him a tyrant for those words. So, he decided to tackle them head on. “You have claimed throughout our life, that you know the Tully sisters intimately, that you even took Lady Arryn’s maidenhead. You told our mother that you could make Lady Arryn bend to your will. That has proven to be false. It is a crime to lie to your sovereign.”

Lord Baelish looked deeply scared. He was shaking, though his eyes were blank of expression. His voice did not shake, and for that Joffrey would give him credit. “Sire, I know that my words might be my downfall, but I have done all I could to ensure that the throne was secure. That the Vale did not betray its oath. If Your Majesty wishes to send me to my death, then I will go willingly. I would simply ask that you consider the following.” The man paused, as the silence extended, Joffrey got the impression the man was waiting for him. Impatiently he waved his hand and Baelish continued. “I am a simple man, I do not have an army to follow me into war, I have achieved what I have through hard work and singular determination. I have done all I can for the throne. I have more to give.”

Joffrey looked at the man and then asked. “Who are your sources in the Valemen’s army?”

“Ser Lyn Corbray, Lord Melcolm, Lord Redfort, and Ser Harrold Hardying.” Baelish replied.

Joffrey raised an eyebrow at that. “The best knight in the Vale, the lord of the shipping containers in the Vale, the oldest man in the Vale and the heir apparent to the Vale?” He laughed. “What proof is there of this?”

Lord Baelish looked terrified though he remained dignified as he said. “There are letters and other such proofs in my chambers, and in my containers. Your Majesty may find them there.”

Joffrey looked at Ser Janos Slynt and then at his uncle Ser Jaime. “Ser Jaime, take ten Red Cloaks and search this man’s things.”

“Yes Your Majesty.” The Kingslayer said.

Joffrey looked back at Lord Baelish. “We still think that you have committed treason. However, we are willing to wait for more information to come. Therefore, you shall reside in a cell until the time of your trial.” With that he clapped his hands. “Take this man away.” Baelish bowed and then walked out of the throne room. Joffrey sighed, and looked into the balcony where Lady Sansa sat, she smiled at him and he smiled back, feeling a light easier.

Chapter Text

Chapter 77: Griffin’s Roost

 

It had been surprisingly easy to take Griffin’s Roost, the seat of House Connington. Their lord was away in King’s Landing, the castle was held lightly, and the men in the surrounding lands were all loyal to Ser Jon. His memory and that of his father still sealed deep within them. They hadn’t needed the dragons. All they’d done was sneak in through a back door and within moments the garrison had surrendered. Connington had dealt with his cousin’s children and sister, and Viserys had prowled the castle, looking through it to see what it was that Rhaegar had found so fascinating about it. He’d found some things, but nothing of great note.

Now, they were in a council meeting, Rhaenys was there as well. Viserys looked at her, and smiled, then looked at the King-or the man who they were still thinking of as the King- he spoke. “We hold Griffin’s Roost, what is the status of our troop number?”

Viserys spoke then, for he’d been tasked with arranging the transport. “We have six thousand men of the Golden Company here, Sire. We have one hundred war elephants, and enough food to last for six moons. Ser Franklyn Flowers has taken Rain House, Ser Tristifer Rivers has taken Crow’s Nest, and the Estermonts opened their gates for us on Greenstone.”

“Good. I am surprised that the Estermonts bent so easily, given their ties to the Baratheons.” The King said.

“It appears that there has been another son of Robert Baratheon found and he is apparently legitimate, whilst the boy who sits the throne is not. As such, the castellan opened the gates on the promise he could meet with you to discuss the boy.” Viserys said.

“Who is the castellan, and where is Lord Estermont?” the King asked.

“Ser Lomas Estermont, Sire. Lord Estermont is dying. His son and heir Ser Aemon is currently in King’s Landing, though it appears he is willing to change sides, should he be commanded to do so.” Viserys said.

“Aemon? A Targaryen name, interesting.” The King said.

Connington spoke then. “I would recommend waiting for a period of time. You must consolidate your gains here, Sire. The people of Griffin’s Roost must meet with you, as must the people of Rain House and Crow’s Nest. And then from there, meeting with the lords sworn to Summerhall would do wonders.”

The King nodded. “How long would that take?”

“A moon at least.” Viserys said, having done the counting in his head. “By that time the boy on the throne might well have mustered a response. We must act quickly to keep momentum going.”

Connington spoke then. “With respect, Your Royal Highness, such a thing is dangerous. There is a time for quick action, and there is a time to be patient and act smoothly. We must meet with the lords of this area, to show them that we are here and that the King means to rule over them. They are used to distant rule from King’s Landing, they will need to be reminded of what it means to have a King.”

“And in the time it takes to do that, you would leave the King open to being attacked from behind or in quiet. These are the Stormlords, Lord Connington. They respect strength, and what is better than continuing down this pathway and acting to take more castles.” Viserys said.

Rhaenys spoke then. “I think there might be a middle ground.”

Connington looked as though he might protest, but the King nodded. “Go on, sister.”

Rhaenys continued. “I think we might allow for a brief summons to men like Cafferen, Grandison and Fell, men who we know are still loyal to our family, and as such invite them to Griffin’s Roost. Allow them to meet with the King and see him, then ask that they summon their banners. Then we march. We do not fly Targaryen banners until such a time as we know right where we are going. We do as Lord Connington suggested this time around, in that we are simply lords returning to reclaim ancestral seats. Joffrey Baratheon will know that if he goes against those lords, he will undermine himself.”

It was a decent plan, but there was one issue with it. “Many of the lords who we are going to be fighting were placed there by Robert Baratheon, would Joffrey Baratheon really look to undermine what his father had done?”

“He might not, but his grandsire would.” Connington said. “Especially if we write letters displaying fawning to House Lannister.” A disgusted look came over Connington’s face.

Viserys looked at the King who nodded. “Very well, let us proceed with that.”

There was a brief pause, and then Viserys said. “Letters should be sent to Dorne as well, Prince Doran will want to know that his nephew and niece have returned.”

“I have already had letters dispatched, Your Royal Highness.” Connington said.

Viserys nodded, the King then said. “Good. Let us take some time to prepare and have rest. And then we shall discuss a proper plan of action on the morrow.” With that the King rose and so they all did.

Chapter Text

Chapter 78: Windward Sails

 

Her wedding was to occur on the morrow, and Margaery had to admit she felt quite nervous. From tomorrow, at midday she would be Queen of Westeros, the wife of the King, and they would consummate the marriage and from there who knew what would happen. Margaery was happy that her family was with her, that Father, Mother, Grandmother, Garlan, Leonette and Loras were all here with her. Otherwise she might have felt very lonely. For though she was friends with Princess Myrcella, and with Prince Tommen-though she felt something more for the Prince, she was sure of it- she had not really had much time with the King. The King seemed more comfortable with Lady Sansa, for they often went on walks and talked for hours, if the gossip was to be believed, and from what she had seen from her own eyes as well. And so, here they were.

The King had invited her to his chambers, where the Kingsguard, or rather Ser Barristan Selmy, Lord Commander, Ser Balon Swann, and Loras would stand guard inside the room, with the Hound standing guard outside. The King looked at her and said. “I know we have not spoken much, Margaery, however, I have been quite busy, and I understand you have been as well. However, we are to be wed tomorrow and therefore, I thought we might at least speak with one another before that event.”

“I agree, Your Majesty.” Margaery said. She had heard how the King had told Lady Sansa to call him by his name in one of their first meetings, he did not do the same here. She kept her mouth shut on that though, and filed it away.

There was an awkward silence and then the King said. “There has been talk that Lord Rosby is going to die quite soon. There are a few claimants to the lordship. One of whom is a Frey, the rest are all scattered across the Crownlands. Who do you think would make the best Lord of Rosby?”

Margaery was surprised, she had not thought the King would seek her opinion on this matter, and then she remembered that he had sought her view on the issue of the Hayford inheritance after Lady Hayford had died and had followed her advice as well. She thought for a moment and then said. “Well, Your Majesty, there are three claimants who I think would make the best Lord of Rosby in the Crown’s interest. There is Ser Gyles Stokeworth, a cousin to the mainline, he has served honourably throughout the war, and is loyal to Your Majesty. Then there is Lady Lollys herself. She is a lackwit, but you could marry her to someone you think is loyal and rule through them. And finally, there is Prince Tommen.”

The King raised an eyebrow. “I had forgotten about our claim through our great-grandfather.” There was a pause and then he said. “I suppose it could help to keep Tommen close, and the people of Rosby did love him on his visit there. He doesn’t seem to want to visit Storm’s End either. Though he might well need to.”

“And he is someone you can definitely count on to be loyal.” Margaery added.

“Indeed.” The King said. “Tommen it is then. I shall make the announcement at the next council meeting.” The King smiled at her and Margaery smiled back, his smiles did not make her heart flip, like his brother’s did. She smothered that thought.

They sat and drank and ate for a time, and then King spoke once more. “What do you know of Lady Merryweather, my lady?”

The question caught her slightly off guard, Lady Merryweather was someone she had met a few times, but always in formal occasions, she was someone who spoke with a slight accent, who wanted the best for her son. Margaery had heard rumours that she had made her husband a cuckhold but did not know what to think. “I…I know she came from Myr and that she and her husband married when he was in exile in Myr. I know their son is a young boy, who has been placed as a squire for my own brother, Ser Willas. However, beyond that, I do not know much more. Why do you ask, Sire?”

“She has become close to my mother, and therefore, I wished to know more.” The King said. There was a brief pause, and Margaery wondered if the King wanted her to ask him something about his mother. She knew that the two of them had fallen out over something to do with Prince Tommen, but what it was, she was not sure. Eventually, the King changed the topic. “And what of the Dornish? Does their presence here aggravate you?”

The question was asked kindly, and Margaery could not fault the King for trying, but it seemed forced and stilted. It did not feel at all natural, not like how it was when she and Prince Tommen talked. Margaery wondered briefly, if the King was more natural a speaker with Lady Sansa, or not. She pushed that thought down and replied. “It does not. Prince Oberyn is a good friend to my brother, Willas, and therefore a good friend to me as well. Furthermore, Prince Trystane is a friendly young man.” she thought the Dornish Prince handsome, but not as handsome as another Prince she knew.

“How did that happen?” the King asked. “The friendship between your brother and the man who crippled him?”

Margaery sighed, it was a tale she had told to Lady Sansa, and to Princess Myrcella and countless others, but never to Prince Tommen, it seemed he had simply taken her at her word. “Prince Oberyn felt quite guilty for what happened, though as Willas tells it, it was not his fault, but Willas’s own fault. He says he was too green to tilt. Anyway, after the event Prince Oberyn came to visit him and they talked, discovered they shared a lot of interests and they kept in touch. Writing whenever they could. And from there, their friendship developed.”

A brief moment of sadness passed over the King’s face, before it was gone. “How interesting.” Then the King rose. “If you might excuse me, I have a meeting I have to attend to. Ser Loras can see you returned to your chambers.”

Margaery rose, and curtseyed. “Of course, Your Majesty.”

“See you on the morrow.” The King said.

“On the morrow.” Margaery said, as she took her brother’s arm and walked out.

Chapter Text

Chapter 79: Dragons Entwined

 

How things had changed. Initially, Jon had not known what to make of his aunt. She was closed off and arrogant. And he had responded in kind. And then he had bonded with one of the dragons. Rhaegel. The beast had bent its neck to him and so he had mounted it and flown it around Meereen, delighting in the feeling. His aunt had acknowledged what he had said as true then. And she had bent the knee to him, acknowledging him as the King of Westeros. Shortly after that, they’d become lovers. Something between them had shifted. He had not meant to bed her, but the pull had been irresistible, and now not a day went by where he didn’t find himself fucking her. She whimpered under his touch, and he had to admit, he liked that.

Of course she remained Queen of Meereen, and so he deferred to her on that matter. But she always took his advice and that was something. Right now they were sat in a council meeting, in the sweltering heat, and he knew from the way that she looked at him that his aunt wanted to fuck him as much as he wanted to fuck her. “Your Majesties,” the eunuch said. “The Sons of the Harpy have taken more and more land from within the city. They are killing members of the court with impunity. Only two days ago they killed and slaughtered the entire Loroth family. A dynasty that has lived in Meereen since Valyria.”

“They are doing this simply because these families know the truth of the matter.” Daenerys said.

“Indeed, Your Majesty.” The eunuch replied.

Jon looked at the eunuch and asked. “How often do these killings take place, and where?”

“Every three or so days, Sire.” The eunuch said. “They happen across the city, but usually in the districts where the golden families live.”

“SO, the Sons are sending a message to the elite.” Jon surmised. “They will keep killing members of the elite families until they abandon us.” Jon looked at Daenerys.

“What do you suggest?” Daenerys asked.

“We must look into this Green Grace lady.” Jon said. “I do not trust her. She comes and goes far too easily. There must be action taken to reduce her to nothingness.” He then looked at his aunt’s chief master. “Shavepate, what do you know about the Sons?”

Shavepate was a gruff man, Daenerys did not like him, but Jon repsected the man and therefore he remained. “They formed after Her Majesty came to power, Sire. And they spread the same nonsense lies that all who are jealous of peace and prosperity do. That we are living in sin and that the Queen means to bring death and destruction to all. The common people hate them just as much as the elite families do.”

“And yet they remain elusive of the Unsullied, and all the Dothraki soldiers. Therefore, they must have support somewhere.” Jon surmised.

“I shall look into the families most likely to be supporting them, Sire.” Shavepate replied.

“Good.” Jon answered.

The eunuch spoke then. “Sires, there is another matter that is of importance.”

“What is it?” Jon asked.

“The dragons are growing more and more restless and consequently, they are plucking food from various places. The farmers are getting unhappy. And with Yunkai and Volantis mustering armies to attack us, I am not sure if it is right to have them loose.” The eunuch answered.

“They are free beasts. To chain them would be a crime.” Daenerys replied.

“The Queen is right. They must remain free to do as they wish.” Jon said. He did not mention that he knew that the Shavepate was lying or that the eunuch was working with their enemies, simply because he could see through Rhaegel’s eyes.

“Yes, Sire.” The eunuch said. There was a pause and then the man said. “There is the issue of marriage as well.” A pause and then. “Hizadhar Loraq has agreed to a betrothal between Her Majesty and himself in order to bring about peace within Meereen for a time being. He has also suggested a betrothal between his niece Saera Monterys and yourself, Your Majesty.”

Jon felt Daenerys take his hand then. He didn’t look at her as he said. “We shall need some time to think over this. Thank you. Dismissed.” The councillors nodded, bowed and then left. Jon looked at Daenerys and said. “You know it makes sense.”

“Loraq is old, and his family isn’t powerful. He just wants to rule Meeren. He’d kill you the moment the wedding is done.” Daenerys said.

“If he got to the wedding.” Jon replied, kissing her hand.

“What do you mean?” Daenerys asked. “He’d have to be there at the wedding, otherwise there’d be no point in it.”

Jon looked at her and said. “Well he can’t marry you, if we are already married, now can he?”

“You…you would do that?” Daenerys asked.

Jon kissed her hand and smiled. “Yes.”

“Then let’s do it.” Daenerys said.

Jon smiled. He knew he had her, and now the throne would be his as it should always have been.

Chapter Text

Chapter 80: A King With No Throne

 

Harrenhal was a towering ruin. Darkened and terrifying. Gendry did not think about it too much, and he fought to keep his emotions in check. As a King he could not allow anything to destroy his balance. Or the loyalty of his men. He knew things were resting on an edge. The fight in Duskendale had not gone their way but they had learned things which is what they had wanted in the first place. He also had his Kingsguard now. Ser Brynden Tully served as the Lord Commander, Ser Robar Royce was another member. He sat in the tower of bats and read through the papers before putting them down. He looked up at the council.

“Duskendale’s defences have been strengthened. It seems they consider us going on a raid there as ample proof that we are dangerous.” Gendry surmised.

“Tywin Lannister is a cautious man, Sire.” Lord Yohn Royce said. “He will not want to risk a valuable port falling into enemy hands.”

“Perhaps we should have pushed harder?” Gendry mused. “If we had taken Duskendale then we would have been in a proper position to threaten the boy on the throne.”

“I disagree, King Gendry.” Robb Stark said. “Take Duskendale, then we are exposed to Mace Tyrell and his giant army. Now we are making them guess where we will go.”

“We must find a way to draw them out into the field. I do not think Tywin Lannister will come, but Mace Tyrell will. He is desperate to make a name for himself.” Lord Belmore said. “I think therefore, we must send a host toward the Reach to draw him toward there.”

“I agree.” Robb Stark said. “Send men toward the Reach and watch Mace Tyrell come scampering back like a dog with its tail between its legs.”

“Tywin Lannister did not come scampering back.” Gendry pointed out. “Indeed, he saw through that ruse. What makes you think that he will not see through it again?”

Stark looked as if Gendry had slapped him with his cock. His mouth hung open, and then he replied. “Mace Tyrell will ride out to defend the Reach, you can be sure of that King Gendry. And the boy on the Iron Throne will let him go. Joffrey Baratheon is a month away from becoming of age, soon enough his regent and his hand will have no control over him.”

“So, where would we send the men?” Gendry asked. He had some idea of where to send the men, but he was cautious. He did not want to spread the army out too thin. He was also aware that the men could well change their minds and riot if they did not get action soon. They were already struggling to feed the army as it was.

“I would say toward Goldengrove. That is a bread basket for the Reach, Sire.” Lord Yohn said. “Lord Rowan will have to attend and should we capture him then we shall have an advantage over the Tyrells. Tarly might get the renown but it is Rowan who has the brains to plan the strategies.”

“I agree with Lord Yohn.” Ser Brynden said. “March toward Goldengrove in strength and Rowan will be obliged to come. Capture him and you dent the strength of the Reach.”

“What then stops Mace Tyrell from remaining in King’s Landing? If we let Rowan be the one to come, if his seat is in danger?” Gendry asked.

“Tyrell will have to come. Everything we know about him suggests that he has more pride than sense in that head of his.” Robb Stark said. “He will want the honour and glory of defeating you for himself. We still hold Kevan Lannister, and we know that Joffrey will not send the Kingslayer out to command the army. Therefore, that leaves just Mace Tyrell. And he will demand the honour.”

Gendry mused on that. “Very well. But what of the other issue that has been presented?” He picked up the letter that had arrived that morning. “Theon Greyjoy has extended an offer of alliance. He wants recognition of his claims to the Rock and the Islands, in exchange for aiding us in a war against the Lannisters.”

Lord Umber spoke then. “I say fuck Greyjoy and let him be killed by the lions.”

Stark spoke. “Lord Umber has some well meaning behind his words. However, one cannot trust Greyjoy. He was a friend and he betrayed me. I do not think you should take him up on this offer.”

“Then we will need a fleet. Somewhere and somehow. We shall need to protect the coasts, for there is nothing stopping the Ironborn from raiding the Riverlands.” Gendry replied.

Lord Jason Mallister a brave and bold man, who Gendry idolised spoke. “I can get right on that, my King. Just give the order and I will send word to my shipwrights at Seagard.”

Something passed over Stark’s face, a look of anger or accusation, Gendry was not sure, but it was gone as quickly as it came. “I want one hundred war ships built.” Gendry commanded.

“It shall be done, Sire.” Mallister said.

Gendry nodded. “Good.” There was a pause and then. “Now, onto another matter.” He looked at Stark and said. “Do you have any word on your friends in the capital?” Stark had sent three people, one woman and two men, into King’s Landing to try and help get his sisters out. Gendry had allowed it simply because the thought of a woman fighting made him chuckle.

“They witnessed the wedding between Joffrey and Lady Margaery.” Stark said. “And they also got close to my sister, Sansa. So far, there has not been a good opportunity. But the wedding of Prince Trystane and Myrcella is coming, and that will be lively.”

“Good. I want them done and dusted before we strike for King’s Landing.” Gendry commanded.

Stark nodded, then a page boy entered. The boy bowed low and then handed him a letter. Gendry opened it and read it. “Storm’s End appears to have fallen to someone calling himself Aegon Targaryen.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 81: Trial of A Horse

 

Catelyn could feel the tiredness in her bones. She had wanted to write to Robb to ask him to return back north, but had not done so. She knew that such a letter would be seen as defeatist, and she suspected that Lord Rodrik for all his candour was waiting for her to show such a thing. He had surprisingly stuck to his word and aided her in destroying his own daughter’s chance at rebellion. Barbrey and her aids had been arrested. The men had all been tried, and then hung, drawn and quartered, but given her status Barbrey Dustin had had to wait for a time, and now the trial was upon them. Catelyn sat in the Winter Throne, as her son’s regent whilst he was away. The court was filled with people watching and observing. She nodded and the doors opened.

“Lady Barbrey Dustin, Lady of Barrowton.” The herald proclaimed. The woman was brought in chains before the foot of the throne and dropped there.

Catelyn looked at the woman. “Lady Barbrey, you are accused of plotting treason against the King of the North and Trident, King Robb Stark. You are accused of attempting to stage a coup and threatening the lives of the people of Winterfell. How do you plead?”

Barbrey Dustin looked at her and smirked. “Not guilty.” A murmur rippled across the throne room.

“You deny trying to stage a coup using men taken from your father’s holdings for the purpose of defending your lands, and instead using them to cause chaos within the north. You deny trying to use these men to take power of Winterfell?” Catelyn demanded.

“Oh? That I do not deny. I deny that I committed treason.” Lady Barbrey said.

“Foolish girl.” Lord Rodrik snapped.

Lady Barbrey looked at her father and snapped. “You are the fool, father. Siding with this Riverlander Whore.”

“You would be one to talk.” Torrhen Umber, brother to the Greatjon said. “Considering how often you spread your legs.”

Dustin said nothing, the court was alight with talk. Catelyn spoke. “Why did you do this? Why try and stage a coup, and why deny that what you have done is treason?”

Lady Barbrey said nothing for a moment, and Catelyn wondered if she would actually speak again. Then when she was about to speak again, the lady spoke. “Your son has been in the south for almost two years now. In that time thousands of northmen have died. And for what? We have not advanced on King’s Landing, Joffrey Baratheon still sits the throne. Your husband is still dead. He continues to fight, we continue to send men to the south to fight and die, we send money and for what? The Ironborn took Winterfell, thanks to your son sending Theon Greyjoy back. Your son acted like the little boy he is. You have done nothing to counter him either. You act as a southerner, not a northerner. It is right that you be removed.”

“And you are an old harridan who continued to fuck Brandon Stark after you married Willam.” Torrhen Umber snarked. “You are not right for anything, let alone leadership.”

“I have kept Barrowton a prosperous town in the north. We are alongside the Manderlys as one of the richest houses in the north. I am more capable than any man here.” Barbrey snarked back.

“Actually, you have relied a lot on aid from Winterfell, and from your lord father.” Catelyn said. “I looked at the accounts recently. You are in debt.”

“Because of your son’s stupid war.” Barbrey snarled. “You Starks always wage war and demand we pay the cost of it. What benefit will there be from this war? Nothing. There will be countless bodies piled up and for no good. Much like when your husband went and fought in Robert’s Rebellion. He was the King’s best friend and we got nothing. My husband died for nothing.”

It hit Catelyn then, the realisation of what this was all about. “You hate me.” She said. “You have hated me before you ever met me. You wanted to be Brandon’s wife.”

Barbrey laughed. “Of course. I loved Brandon from the time I was a girl, and he was a boy, who would come riding through the Rills. I wanted to marry him, and I would have too had Maester Walys not convinced Lord Rickard to marry his heir to a southerner.” There was muttering there. “I was to be his wife. He told me it himself. We would get married before his marriage to you. But then Harrenhal happened, and then he died. I thought then I would marry his lesser brother, but the damned fool married you instead.”

Catelyn looked at Barbrey and then at her father. Lord Rodrik looked horrified. His words reflected that. “You would endanger the entirety of the north, for some pathetic romance you had as a child?”

“Oh please, you encouraged these feelings, father. I remember what you said to me when I flowered.” Barbrey said.

“That was twenty years ago!” Lord Rodrik thundered.

“And then there was when Brandon died and his brother became Lord of Winterfell. Again, you returned to demand the same thing.” Barbrey said. “You whored me out to fulfil your ambition. And when it didn’t work you dropped me and focused on Bethany.”

Before Lord Rodrik could go on a rage on that, Catelyn spoke. “So, all of this time you waited and planned. You never wanted to support my husband or my son, who became your King. You simply wanted revenge.”

“Yes.” Barbrey said.

“Then you are hereby sentenced to death for committing treason.” Catelyn said. “Mullen.” The great big brute of a man who her son had named King’s executioner in his absence stepped forward.

Lady Barbrey was forced to kneel, her head and neck exposed. It took three swings before her head was dislodged. Catelyn looked at it and said. “Place it on a spike. Burn the body.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 82: A Lady In Blue

 

Sansa sat and looked at herself and then at Arya. Her sister looked as if she’d been chasing cats again. Gods alone knew why she continued doing that when her dance instructor had disappeared with Father’s fall. Nearly a moon had passed since the King’s marriage and in that time Sansa had seen far less of him, and more of Prince Tommen. And more of Lord Tyrion also. She did not know what to make of that. She suspected a marriage was coming but, she found she did not care much for marriage now. The King was wed, and she just wanted to go home. But because Robb was still fighting against the King, she could not return home.

Arya broke through her thoughts. “I wonder what Mother is doing now.”

Sansa smiled. Arya always spoke about Mother when she was homesick. Mother. Gods, Sansa could not believe she had ever thought Mother less than Cersei Lannister. Mother glowed and was kind. Cersei Lannister looked cruel and disparate. “Probably reading a story to little Rickon. Or singing with Bran. You know she liked to sing.” She wondered how Bran was. he couldn’t walk, but perhaps he could move around now.

“This is true. Rickon won’t be so little now though. He will be five.” Arya said counting the numbers in her head. “He will be a lot bigger than before.”

“Indeed he will.” Sansa said sadly. She so desperately wanted to go home. She looked at Arya, and her sister looked at her.

“I want to go home, but I do not think the King would grant it, would he?” Arya asked.

“I do not think so. We cannot go home until Robb bends the knee.” Sansa said. She knew there was another way they could go home, but she didn’t want to think of that.

“And Robb won’t bend the knee.” Arya said. “Not to Joffrey.”

Sansa raised an eyebrow. “What do you mean?”

Arya snorted. “Come now, Sansa. You’ve spent a great deal with both the King and Prince Tommen. Tell me, do you really not see what I am thinking about here.”

Sansa was about to answer that no, she did not, but then it hit her and she gasped. “Arya, no!”

“Why not?” Arya replied. “It would solve all of our problems.”

“It would also create new ones. Who do you think they would look at if you did what I think you’re thinking of.” Sansa retorted.

“The Dornish are here. We both know they hate the Lannisters. The Tyrells could want Joffrey gone if Margaery is pregnant. Hells, Prince Tommen could even want his brother gone. Think about it, Sansa. It would be so easy.” Arya said.

Sansa looked at her sister horrified. “I will not allow this.”

“Sansa, do you want to go home or not?” Arya demanded.

“Of course I want to go home. But I do not want to do it over the body of the King.” Sansa said.

“Why not?!” Arya demanded. “He killed father.”

Sansa sighed. “Father committed treason.”

“He would never.” Arya roared, Nymeria advanced forward, her teeth bared. “Father loved King Robert like a brother, he would never commit treason. The Lannister woman lied about it.”

Sansa sighed. “Arya, we’ve been over this before. I am not sure that this is such a good idea.”

“You’re just scared to admit the facts.” Arya retorted. “You’re just scared to admit that you might be horribly wrong and that this whole war is based on a lie.”

Sansa closed her eyes, Lady whimpered. “I do not know what is true and what is a lie.” She thought about how the King had promised that they would get married and how that had been broken time and time again. She thought about how he had promised her he would break his betrothal to Lady Margaery and how that had been a lie. It was all a lie.

“Then do what I ask.” Arya pleaded. Sansa opened her eyes, and took her sister’s hand. “Let me do this one thing. One little thing and then our suffering can end. Please, Sansa. I need to do this.”

Sansa hesitated, she knew that this was madness. That if she let Arya do what she was asking to do, that they would never know peace. They would have to flee somehow, in the chaos. They might not even be welcomed back into the north. “I do not know if I can.”

Arya huffed. “Then I will just have to do it myself then.”

Arya made to go somewhere, Sansa got up and walked in front of her. “I cannot allow that, Arya.”

“How are you going to stop me?” Arya demanded.

“Jory.” Sansa called out. The commander of the household guard appeared.

“My lady?” He asked.

“Keep an eye on Lady Arya, please. And make sure she does nothing silly.” Sansa commanded.

“Yes, my lady.” Jory said. He came and stood in front of Arya with three men. Sansa remained where she was, watching this. There was a knock on the door.

“Enter.” Sansa said.

“My lady.” A voice said. Sansa jumped up.

“Your Royal Highness.” She said curtseying before Prince Tommen, who wore a hood to cover his injuries.

“I have come to walk with you for a time, I hope you do not mind.” The Prince said.

“No, of course not.” Sansa said. “Do you mind if I bring my sister?” She asked as she did not trust Arya not to do something foolish whilst she was away.

“Of course.” The Prince said, his expression not giving anything away.

Sansa smiled, Arya got up, and they walked with the Prince outside of the room and down the hallway. Her men, and the knight of the Kingsguard following behind.

Chapter Text

Chapter 83: Winds That Scab

 

Tommen bit back a curse. His face hurt. It continued to hurt. It always hurt. The wounds he had taken at the Blackwater made it hard for him to focus most days. But he refused the milk of the poppy, he would not drug himself. He was a man, and men did not whimper at mere wounds. He was alive, and several men had died to give him this chance. He would honour their sacrifice. He wore a hood though, so that people would not recoil from him. Lady Sansa had recoiled from him twice before, and Lady Alla’s own horrified reaction still played in his mind. He cleared his throat and spoke.

“I have been looking through the maps of the Stormlands and the Crownlands and I have assessed the records of Storm’s End.” Ever since the shock that someone calling themselves Aegon Targaryen had taken Storm’s End, the whole city had been alive with panic. As the castle was nominally his, the King had tasked him with planning its recapture. “It is my view that our best bet in retaking the castle is to force them to come out of the gates.”

“You would not trust the garrison or the people around the castle? Who have been loyal to House Baratheon for generations?” Mother asked. Tommen was honestly surprised she was speaking to him, given how she had avoided him since the war had begun.

Tommen looked at her, under his hood he winced. “The people opened the gates to this pretender, whoever he maybe. Therefore, I do not think they can be trusted to keep things level. Therefore, I shall need to draw the enemy out.”

“And how will you do that?” Lord Tywin asked. Grandfather looked tired and haggard, Tommen wondered at that.

“Whoever this figure is, he is being advised by members of the Golden Company and Jon Connington. Connington will want to prove himself. It is him who I will focus on. I will command the vanguard of the army, and challenge him myself. If Connington is the man I think he is, he will accept and therefore they will lead their men outside of the walls. Subsequently, we shall overwhelm them. Varys has said that the enemy has only twelve thousand men. With the men from the Reach, the Stormlords here, and the men from Rosby, I shall have twenty thousand men. That is more than enough to overwhelm them.”

“And if Connington refuses you?” Lord Tywin asked. “He is not a young man anymore, he will be cautious.”

“Then I will go about burning the lands near Storm’s End. He has elephants, they will need to eat. If I take away the source of food, his men will get uppity. Then he will have to move.” Tommen answered.

“And if he does not move, even then?” Lord Tywin asked.

The King spoke then. “Lord Connington is not you, grandfather. He is a man who is desperate to prove himself. If this boy is Aegon Targaryen, then Connington will want to make up for failing his father.”

Mother spoke. “How has Prince Oberyn handled the news that his nephew is supposedly holding Storm’s End?”

“He has not been told.” Lord Tywin answered simply.

“How long do you think you can keep this from him and the other Dornishmen?” Mother asked.

Grandfather said nothing for a moment, he merely shuffled some papers and then he said. “As long as need be.”

“How many bodies are appearing in the streets?” Tommen mused aloud, which prompted a laugh from the King.

Lord Tywin frowned in disapproval. “Now, how are you getting on with the reforming of the law code, Your Royal Highness?”

The King had tasked him with centralising the authority of the crown to make it much harder for lords to rebel, especially if they were Lord Paramounts, and he’d spent the better part of the month focusing on that. “I have looked through all the old codes and books, and I have come across a few things that could ensure we get what we want.”

“Go on.” Grandfather said.

“Well, firstly, we can use the commoner’s tenth to ensure that the common man is given more of a say over basic governance, so long as they pay their third directly to the crown’s collectors. This will give us a base with which to draw on to keep the Lords in line.” Tommen said.

“King Aegon tried that, he nearly died fighting a rebellion in the Reach against it.” Lord Tywin said.

“He implemented it during a time of peace.” Tommen countered. “We are still at war. If we implement this now, we can get some basic tenements out of it. And we can play on the frustrations in the north.”

His grandfather looked at him and he looked back, though the scars started aching. The King broke the impasse. “What else do you have?”

“The Seventh and Third.” Tommen answered. “It will give us the chance to take what land we think is owed to the throne.”

“And it is legal?” the King asked.

“It was declared so by King Aenys, and was rarely used, but it still stands.” Tommen answered.

The King looked at grandfather and said. “This is the one I shall use.”

“Very well, Sire.” Grandfather said.

Tommen got up to leave, but before he could, the King spoke. “Before you leave for Storm’s End, you shall marry Lady Sansa.”

Tommen stopped. He knew Lady Sansa did not like him, that she preferred someone else, still he kept his mouth shut on that and instead said. “Yes, Your Majesty.”

“Sire, Myrcella needs to be married first.” Mother said.

“Ah, yes. Of course,” The King said, an odd look passing between him and Mother. Tommen buried the hurt and anger at Mother’s continued ignoring of him. “Then you shall stay for her marriage.”

“Yes Your Majesty.” Tommen replied. He rose, bowed and walked out of the room.

Chapter Text

Chapter 84: Wedding Bells

 

 

The wedding ceremony had taken place in the Great Sept of Baelor. It had not been as grand as the King’s but, then she had not wanted it to be, nor had she expected it to be. Just to be there and to experience everything as it was, was enough for her. They had exchanged their vows, and kissed. Now they were in the throne room, and Myrcella could not be happier. Truly. Trystane was sat to her right handside, the King to her left, and to his left the Queen. And everyone seemed to be relaxed, more relaxed than they had been since news had come of the fall of Storm’s End.

The hall fell silent as the King rose. He was dressed in gold and black. “Lords and ladies, Myrcella and Trystane, I must say that this is something that I am most happy about. That I am most pleased to be witnessing. It is clear to me and all who are here today, that you both love one another. And that is a gift. Always treasure it.” He raised his cup. “To Myrcella and Trystane.” The hall echoed his words and they drank.

The King sat down and Prince Oberyn rose. “Many years ago, my lady mother came to Casterly Rock to propose a marriage between myself and Queen Dowager Cersei, unfortunately it did not come to pass, now however, our two houses are joined in union. I am happy to see how happy you both make one another. To Trystane and Myrcella.” The Prince raised his cup and they drank.

The Prince sat down, and then the King clapped his hands and said. “Let us eat.” The servants came and served the food, and Trystane cut the food and served a bit from his plate, and she hummed in delight. They ate in silence for a time and then Myrcella whispered to her husband,

“I can’t wait for tonight.”

Trystane smiled that smile that took her breath away and whispered back. “Neither can I. We won’t have to stop at kissing.”

Myrcella felt heat pool around her legs and she said. “Indeed not. Are you ready?”

He leaned in and whispered. “Are you?”

Myrcella shivered with delight. “Most definitely.”

Her husband-gods that word was something else entirely! - smiled. “Then, so am I!”

He kissed her cheek, and she returned the favour. Then she remembered something. Tommen was marching off with an army tomorrow, to deal with the threat at Storm’s End and she had heard a rumour that Trystane meant to go with him. She did not want to talk about this now, but she knew that later she would not be thinking about it whatsoever, and so she asked. “Do you truly mean to ride off with Tommen, tomorrow?”

The sag of his shoulders gave her the answer she needed. She did not say anything, only waited for him to speak. “I feel that it is my duty. I am a servant of the crown, and a brother by marriage to the King. I must do my part.”

On some level, she understood that, but on another she did not want her husband to ride off to war. “Do you have to go though? Why not take up the role that the King has offered you on the small council?”

“I am not a politician, my love, you know this. I am a fighter, and I must do my bit.” Trystane replied.

Myrcella sighed, she sensed that she would not be able to change her husband’s mind and she did not want to ruin their special day arguing, and so instead, she let the matter drop. She looked around and saw that the King was speaking with Mace Tyrell, whilst his wife, Margaery was playing with her food. Tommen was talking to cousin Lancel, whilst Lady Sansa was speaking with Ser Gerold Dayne. She wondered at that and said to her husband. “Don’t you find it odd, how my brothers are both committed to beautiful and smart women, but they want the one that the other has?”

To her surprise, Trystane laughed. “I do not find it surprising at all, my love. In fact, I think it is the natural conclusion to all of this.”

Myrcella raised an eyebrow. “How do you figure?”

Her husband took a sip of wine and then said. “Well, you see, King Joffrey is in love with Lady Sansa, and wants to spend as much time as he can with her. And Prince Tommen loves the Queen. The reasons for this are simple, the two ladies make the men feel whole, feel as if they are finally seen, not for their titles, but for who they truly are. Margaery Tyrell is married to the King and is Queen, but she would rather be married to someone who understands her and wants to be with her. Whilst Lady Sansa is to marry someone who is scarred and broken, and would rather be with the beautiful King.”

Myrcella mused over that and said. “So, in short, Margaery has sense and Sansa is still a stupid little girl?”

Trystane laughed. “I wouldn’t say stupid no; we cannot control who we love.”

Myrcella thought on that and thought about her Uncle Renly and the love he had had for Ser Loras, and she nodded. “I understand that. And I am glad I am married to the person I love.”

Trystane took her hand and said. “As am I, my love.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 85: The Battle Begins

 

Storm’s End towered over them all. It was quite the depressing fortress, and truth be told, Viserys could not wait to be out of here. Still, they had found something of use within the castle. A Baratheon who had not been removed by Stannis Baratheon and his rampant urge to commit fratricide. They would use that tool when the time came, the King had declared, over the objections of his Hand of the King. Viserys found it quite amusing that Connington was beginning to become even more of a mother hen as the time came closer for them to leave. This new challenge had made it worse.

“Sire, I insist that you think carefully about what is being proposed here. You might not have decided to take him up on the challenge of single combat, but he is still battle experienced. He has two knights of his brother’s Kingsguard with him, alongside Gregor Clegane the Mountain Who Rides. This is going to be dangerous.”

“You forget, Lord Connington that we have something that they do not.” Viserys said. “We have the weapons of our ancestors.” The dragons had grown massively in the time since they had landed, going from being the sizes of stallions to being the size of the mammoths that were rumoured to live beyond the wall.

“Your Royal Highness is right, though I would recommend caution there. We do not want to ruin the element of surprise.” Connington said. Viserys raised an eyebrow and the man elaborated. “We need to ensure that no word gets back of the dragons until the right moment.”

“I do not see why that has to be the case.” Viserys retorted. “These dragons are the symbol of our house we would be foolish not to use them in battle.”

“Sire, I think we must consider our options here.” Jon Connington said. “We have thirty thousand men, the Dornish are coming up with ten thousand spears under the command of Prince Quentyn Martell, if we wait for them we shall have more men. Furthermore, the letters sent to Robb Stark and Gendry Waters have received favourable responses. We must wait and then we shall have the right chance.”

“You would have us wait for those who have not immediately come to the banner?” Viserys asked. “One might think you were scared.”

Connington bristled. “I am not scared; I am merely being cautious.”

“What is the difference?” Viserys asked. Knowing the words were going to goad the man before him into saying something rash and finding that he did not much care.

Before he could get the response, he wanted though, the King spoke. “We understand what you are saying my lord, and we also understand what our Uncle is saying. Ser Harry, what would you advise?”

Harry Strickland would not be commanding forces in the front, his gout was too bad, however, he had a sharp brain. “Sire, I would follow the Prince’s advise. The dragons must be used sooner rather than later, for you all to get a feel of using them in battle. Furthermore, they send a strong signal, that House Targaryen is well and truly back.” The man took a breath. “We cannot wait for the Dornish or for others to come. We must strike now.”

The King nodded. “We agree with you there.” Connington went to protest, but the King held up a hand. “Lord Connington we understand your hesitation and we know that there are risks to what we are thinking. However, the time for waiting has come and gone. Now we must act, and we must show that we are truly heirs to the Conqueror.”

“Yes, Sire.” Lord Connington said.

The King looked at him then. “Uncle, we wish for you to get the dragons ready. We shall leave at once. Lord Connington shall ready the army.”

Viserys bowed his head. “Yes, Sire.” He got up and walked out of the room. He made his way down the stairs and towards the stables, where the dragons were. He opened the doors, and got his equipment, the saddle, and the whip. He saddled his dragon, a fine creature he had named Tessarion for his favourite dragon as a child. He led her out of the stable, his squire helped him put on his armour. The King and Rhaenys emerged some time later dressed in their armour. They led their dragons out of the stable.

The King mounted his dragon, and so Viserys and Rhaenys did the same. The King looked at them and smiled. “We are going home.”

“Indeed, Sire.” Viserys replied.

“To victory!” The King said drawing Blackfyre out briefly to wave around. The members of the court around them cheered. The King put Blackfyre back in its scabbard and then whispered the words, and his dragon went into the air. Viserys did the same as did Rhaenys. Soon they were in the air, the gates opened and the army filled out.

They flew in the air for some time and then the enemy came into view. “Dracarys.” The three of them whispered to their mounts as the great burning began.

Chapter Text

Chapter 86: Fiery Scourge

 

Tommen had issued the challenge not really expecting it be answered. He would not have answered it himself had he been in Storm’s End, he would have wanted the enemy to get frustrated and try smashing themselves against the walls of the fortress before him. He remembered visiting Storm’s End as a child, and how Uncle Renly would throw him up into the air making him laugh, and how Father would tell him stories about the Storm Kings of old. Mother had smiled at him then, as she no longer did now. Now that he was no longer handsome, and was a scarred mess. The hood stayed on during the course of their waiting, but he would remove it during the battle, for he would not hide his face from the dragons. It itched something terrible, but he had gotten good at ignoring the itch now.

The gates opened, and from this distance he saw they bore the Targaryen banners. Tommen took a breath. “Prepare.” He commanded. The order was passed down the line. Ser Gregor Clegane, the Mountain that Rides was to his right, Grandfather had insisted on sending the brute, and so Tommen had changed his plans, the fifty Dornishmen who had come with Prince Trystane were placed in the left, under the command of Lord Beric Dondarrion, instead of with him as had originally been planned. Tommen had ordered Ser Balon Swann to protect his brother by marriage, knowing that Myrcella would never forgive him if something happened to her husband. He stood and watched as the army approached from Storm’s End. He did not know who was commanding them and so asked for a looking glass.

He pressed it to his eye and nearly swore. There at the front of the army, dressed in bright green armour was Uncle Renly. He didn’t hand the looking glass to Loras, knowing the man would not be able to fight should it come to it. His mind raced with the possibilities, how had Uncle Renly survived? Why had he not written to let them know he was alive? Why was he fighting for the Targaryens? Was he doing it of his own free will or was he being forced? How had he survived Stannis? Was the red woman right when she said her magic had survived despite her own execution? He did not know. He shook his head, and prepared as the enemy came closer. “Archers to positions.” He barked. The order passed down the line, and the archers led by Ser Guy of Monmouth came forward. “Fire.” He roared.

The archers let loose their arrows. Tommen watched as they soared into the air and then landed on the enemy. He waited and then nodded. The archers repeated the process a few times. He kept the looking glass fixed to his eye and saw the men around Uncle Renly fall, but somehow Uncle Renly remained unscathed. He swore under his breath. “What is it, Your Royal Highness?” Ser Loras asked, his white cloak billowing in the background.

Tommen shook his head. “Nothing.” He raised his lance and the archers stepped back. He said a quick prayer and then moved his horse forward. They would engage and hopefully end this quickly. His heart thundered as they advanced further and further toward the enemy. When the crash came, his lance dropped and smashed within moments. His mace was in his hand and he smacked the face of one man, and then another. He saw his squire, a boy named Loren from the Lannisters of Lannisport get gutted within moments. He swore and smashed his weapon into the enemy again and again.

The battle was as all battles were, filled with blood and gore. Tommen kept his anger at bay. He hated fighting, but it was the only thing giving him any sort of release right now. He continued his push, and ignored the pain in his side. His face itched like a dockside whore’s pussy, but still he kept going. His mace did the work, it fought through and took the banner bearer out. He looked for Uncle Renly but could not find him. A quick turn revealed that neither had Ser Loras for that man was still at his side. He dreaded the moment the man realised that his lover was still alive.

Tommen took a moment to gather his thoughts. He looked around the battlefield, the host they were fighting was not as big as he had thought it would be, he was beginning to suspect that something more was coming. Something unexpected. Uncle Renly had been the first hint of that, and now there was this. It seemed as though the enemy were fighting with every intention of dying, as if they knew something big was about to happen. And that worried him. A foe who fought as if he had nothing to lose, was the most dangerous of foes.

He came back to his senses, when he heard something. It sounded like a bird, but then no bird could darken the sun like that. Tommen looked up and nearly dropped his mace. “What the fuck is that?!” He cried. Ser Loras looked up and then swore. A beast from a nightmare had emerged, its wings blocked the sun and the clouds. A roar and then another beast appeared. Tommen felt as though time was stopping. For a heartbeat, he didn’t process what he was seeing and then it happened so quickly. The beasts opened their mouths and fire came out. He heard the screams. He looked into the distance and saw the Mountain burning alive in his suit of armour. Then he was turning his horse around and riding as fast as he could always from the burning fire. Ser Loras hot on his heels.

He rode as fast as he could, the screams coming into his ears with everything they had. Somewhere deep down he was roaring at himself for fleeing like a coward. He turned and he stopped, the smell of cooked meat infected his nose and everything. He looked around and saw the army he had brought disintegrating as more men fled the battlefield. He hung his head in shame then. And roared a mournful note. This was not going to be good, not good at all.

Chapter Text

Chapter 87: A Mother’s Love

 

Cersei steeled herself before entering her son’s room. She remembered how Tommen had looked when he had stood before the throne and told the King how he had in his own words ‘failed.’ He had worn that ridiculous hood of his and his voice had shook. He had recounted seeing Gregor Clegane burn alive-something which had produced a rare smile from Prince Oberyn and father both- and how others had burned to crisps. The Targaryens had dragons, and now they were going to bring them to bear on the capital. Time was on their side, they had about three weeks before the dragons came. Enough time to prepare.

But that was not why Cersei was here. She was here because her son was quite clearly hurting and she needed to help him. She nodded to Ser Balon Swann who stood guard outside her son’s room and then entered. Her son was sat in front of the fire place, his hood down. He turned around at the sound of her footsteps and almost went to put the hood on, but then stopped. “Mother.” He said. His voice weak.

“Tommen.” She said. She knew she had been a bad mother to him, focusing all her energy on Joffrey and the war. His friendship with the Stark bastard had made her think worse of him. it was a failing she was trying to rectify.

“Please take a seat.” He said standing up and pulling out a seat for her. She sat down.

“How are you doing?” She asked. Knowing deep down it was a stupid question but not sure how else to ask.

Tommen touched the scars on his face, and she didn’t know why he wore that hood. There were lines and wounds across his cheeks, but not enough to justify a hood. She blamed that silly girl Alla Tyrell for screaming. Nobody else had said a word. Indeed, many of the courtiers felt he was brave because of those wounds. “I do not feel well. I feel like a fool.” Her son said simply.

“Why?” Cersei asked.

Her son looked at her as if she’d just grown a second head. “Because I am a live whilst so many others are dead.” Before she could protest he continued. “I am alive whilst Ser Gregor is dead. I am alive whilst Lords Cafferen, Grandison and Fell are dead. I am alive because I fled the battlefield, like a coward.” She wanted to say something but her son continued. “You know what my first thought was when I saw the shadows of the dragons?” Cersei shook her head. “I was relieved, because it meant I might die.”

Her son’s voice was shaking now, as was he. She took his hand and said. “Tommen you are not a coward. You survived because you are a survivor, you did what any sane person would do when confronted by dragons.”

Tommen looked at her and his eyes were filled with such pain that she just wanted to take him into her arms and never let him go. “I am a Prince of the Blood; I am supposed to stand firm and fight. Father would never flee from dragons; he would throw his hammer and kill one or both of them. Joffrey would never flee. I am a broken mess of a man. I am not worthy of the name.”

Cersei looked at her son and said firmly. “Tommen, enough. You are more than worthy of the name. You are a fine Prince. You are kind, courteous, sweet, handsome and smart. You are brave. You stood your ground for as long as you could and you were smart enough to realise that the day was lost. You came home and informed the King of the danger. Now we have a chance to prepare.”

Her son snorted. “I am not handsome, Mother. I am hideous.” Cersei went to protest, but then her son said. “I know how people look at me when I do not wear my hood. I am not blind.”

Cersei traced the scars on her son’s face and saw him flinch. “Tommen, nobody thinks you are ugly or hideous. That is inside your head, sweetling. You cannot let Alla Tyrell’s foolish actions decide your every move and decision from now on.”

Tommen cleared his throat and then whispered. “Are you sure?”

“I am, sweetling.” Cersei said. “I am your mother; I would never lie to you.”

Her son looked at her, and there were tears in his eyes. “I am sorry.”

“Whatever for?” Cersei asked surprised.

“For being friends with Jon Snow. I never thought he would turn into a traitor. I should have known better.” Her son replied.

Cersei got up and pulled her son into her arms and whispered. “Tommen, sweetling, never apologise for that. You are a kind and caring person. You became friends with Jon Snow and he betrayed you, he betrayed us all. He is a bastard, what else do you expect from them? Never apologise for that.” She looked at him then and kissed his forehead. “I love you sweetling, I always will.”

“I love you to, Mama.” Tommen whispered.

Chapter Text

Chapter 88: Green Grace

 

They had ventured through the pyramid of the sun, Dany holding his hand. He could hear her heart thumping, and he knew his own heart was doing the same. They had discovered a great deal over the past few days. Betrayal had beget betrayal and more and more people were being fed to the dragons. Jon knew they were still hungry, and with the way things were progressing soon enough they would have another war to contend with. Jon cleared his throat and they stopped. The woman was stood in a green veil and dress.

“You came.” The woman said.

“You asked, and my wife said we had to come.” Jon answered.

The woman nodded. “I have known this moment would come for a long time.”

“How?” Jon demanded.

“I have known you would come here for a long time.” The woman replied.

“How?” Jon demanded again.

“I was given the gift of the sight, many years ago. Therefore, I can see things that nobody else can. It is both a blessing and a curse.” The woman answered.

“Why did you want to meet us?” Jon asked.

“To tell you that you were right to feed Hizadhar to the dragons. He was never going to stand by you, once you agreed to marry one another. He has a claim on the Pyramid of the Sun himself, you know.” The woman said.

“What is the significance of this place?” Jon asked. “Why does everything pass through here?” He thought about the first time he’d met his wife, then their marriage and consummation. All of it had passed through here.

The woman smiled. “You see, back before time began, as the Valyrians would have you believe, there were the slaver cities. The Pyramid of the Sun was where the duelling twins of the sun and moon fought their first battle. They rose the pyramid out of the ground and set it about here. Meereen emerged from their fight. And the sun ruled, and with it, she brought slavery and all those things forward. Nobody can rule Meereen without being anointed by the sun.”

Jon thought on that for a moment and then said. “SO, when we were married that roaring? That was the sun?” The thought both amused him and terrified him in equal measure.

“Yes. The sun has not stirred from its slumber for hundreds of years before you were here. Before your wife was here even.” The woman replied. “However, now things are changing.”

“What is changing?” Dany asked.

“Everything.” The woman answered. “You have abolished slavery, you have destroyed many of the main families, but there are still those who linger to the old ways.”

“The Sons of the Harpy.” Jon answered.

“Why do they continue to be such a pain?” His wife demanded. “All we are doing is trying to make things better for the people of Meereen.”

The woman sighed. “They do not see it that way. They believe you are undermining the way of life for Meereen. It has been this way for thousands of years. They are not used to change. And they find it hard to take orders from either of you. It was worse when it was just a woman telling them what to do.” There was a bitterness in the woman’s voice that surprised Jon.

“And now?” Jon asked. His wife had been quite happy to hand over the reins of control to him. Not that he blamed her. She was most definitely ill-suited to ruling.

“Now they continue to fight because they sense that your resolve is weakening.” The woman answered. Jon felt his suspicions grow.

“What do you mean by that?” Dany asked.

“They sense that you will soon be leaving and they wish to ensure that everything they can achieve is achieved before then.” The woman said, a strange note coming to her voice.

“You mean to say they will try and undo all the hard work we have done here?” Jon asked. He was beginning to put the pieces together.

“Yes.” The woman answered.

“How?” Dany asked.

Jon answered then. “By using someone close to our circle to undo everything. By using them to give us bad advice and some meandering prophecy that makes no sense. Isn’t that, right?”

The woman nodded. “Indeed, it is.”

Dany looked at him then and asked. “How do you know that, my love?”

Jon nodded to the woman before them. “Think about it. She has been there with you for how long now? Coming and going, never revealing her face, always giving advice, but never saying why. And look what has happened whenever you have followed her advice.”

Things fell into place, and Dany gasped. “Why?”

Jon moved forward. “What else would the founder of Meereen do other than sabotage those who tried to make it better. You are the Harpy, are you not, Green Grace?”

The woman smiled. “Very well done. But now if you want to save what you have done, you shall have to handle me.”

Jon drew his sword then and moved in one fluid motion, removing the woman’s head from her shoulders. As the woman fell, he said. “You are done for. We are the new beginning.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 89: Somersaults

 

The babe would come at the end of the year. Myrcella had missed two times in the past two months and she was both happy and terrified. Happy because she was to be a mother, terrified because there was a war raging and she did not know what was going to happen. King’s Landing had been busy with preparations for the past three weeks, ever since Tommen had returned from Storm’s End. Her brothers had spent most of that time discussing things with grandfather and uncle Tyrion, Tommen seemed to have found some of his confidence from before, and that was good. They were still concerned that the Queen didn’t seem to be showing signs of pregnancy. Still, she thought things could get better or worse.

She looked at Trystane and asked him. “What will your uncle do should the Targaryen forces come to King’s Landing?” She knew the truth behind Prince Oberyn being here, and she suspected her husband knew as well.

He looked at her and he said. “He will wait and see. I do not think Uncle Oberyn would willingly kill men who are fighting for someone he believes is his nephew.”

“Do you believe Aegon Targaryen is Aegon Targaryen?” She asked.

“I think he thinks he is. He also rides a dragon. That has been enough to convince half the Stormlands and the Golden Company and the northmen and rivermen and Valemen.” Trystane replied. They’d received word a few days ago that Robb Stark and Gendry Waters had met with Aegon Targaryen and bent the knee to him adding their considerable forces to his.

Myrcella thought on that and then asked. “Why did your uncle come here? I know you said he came to escort you here. But why else did he come? Considering his views on my grandfather and all that?”

“Revenge.” Trystane answered honestly. “He wanted to be able to look into the eyes of Tywin Lannister and show him that things would not continue as that man wanted.”

“You mean he wanted to murder him?” Myrcella asked, not as surprised as she perhaps should have been.

“No.” Trystane replied shaking his head. “Not murder him, but to destroy everything that he had worked for. Your grandfather is a very egotistical man. He killed my aunt because she was a threat to that legacy he wanted. And now, your brothers are completely different to him. King Joffrey is what King Robert should have been and Prince Tommen is the definition of a Prince. Completely different to what Tywin Lannister wants.”

“And what do you think Tywin Lannister wants?” Myrcella asked intrigued.

“He wants a dynasty that will last for thousands of years, a dynasty of people just like him. Cold and calculating, willing to do whatever it takes to keep House Lannister going no matter the consequences. You are all not like that. And I think that is something my uncle wanted to see.” Trystane said.

Myrcella thought on that for a moment and she realised the truth in what her husband said. Joffrey was very much what their father should have been, though he still pined after Lady Sansa. Tommen was very much a noble Prince, minus his scars, and she was, well she was someone who tried to keep her brothers sane. But there was one point she disagreed with her husband on. “I think just because we are not exactly like what our grandfather is, does not mean that our dynasty will not continue for thousands of years. Yes, the Targaryens are coming, but we will do whatever it takes to remain. Furthermore, I think your uncle also came to ensure that he could watch Tywin Lannister die.”

“What do you mean?” Her husband asked.

“I think he always knew about the Targaryens and he always knew something like this would come. Therefore, he wanted to be there when Tywin Lannister died. Did you see how he reacted when Tommen told the court how Gregor Clegane died?” Myrcella asked.

“He laughed.” Trystane said thinking it through. “So, you think he was sent to pave the way for it?”

“Yes.” Myrcella said. “Your father is not some old fool; he has sense in his head.” Myrcella replied.

“Do you think your brother can hold the city?” Trystane asked.

Myrcella sighed. “Not against three dragons and the might of four armies. I think then that we might need to reach a decision.”

“What decision?” Trystane asked.

“Whether we flee with my family or whether we remain here.” Myrcella said.

“You think your brothers would flee?” Trystane asked.

“I think my mother would and my brothers will go with her.” Myrcella said.

“So, what do you want to do?” Trystane asked.

“I want to ensure that my family does not get destroyed by the Targaryens.” Myrcella answered.

“Therefore, you want to stay?” Trystane asked.

“Yes.” Myrcella said. “For the family.”

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 90: Domesday

 

Joffrey stood and took a deep breath. The war was coming to King’s Landing for the second time. The mistakes his father had made and that he had made were coming home to roost. The Targaryens were back with an army, no match for the one they had here, but they also had three dragons, which if Tommen was to be believed had taken out half the army he had ridden south with. Some of the lords had turned their cloaks, Cafferen, Grandison, Fell, Bolling and countless others had gone over to the Targaryens. And some minor Reacherlords had as well, the main ones remained for reasons he didn’t quite understand. Still he knew there would be time to think on that latter.

He looked at the two women before him and said. “I know I have not been fair to either of you. And that is my fault. I promise that once this battle is done, I shall try and be fairer.” He kissed his wife on the cheek, and then kissed Sansa on the lips. “Go now.” Sandor Clegane, the Hound walked with the two to the Maidenvault. He watched them disappear and then grabbed his hammer and walked  out of the room. He found his grandfather, his brother, and uncle waiting for him alongside Mace Tyrell and Randyll Tarly, waiting for him near the bridge. He nodded to them and they began walking. “So, what is the situation?” He asked.

“Sire, Lord Rowan has not yet returned from the initial fighting in the Kingswood. I believe that means he has either succeeded in holding them off and is now cutting off the stragglers, or the battle continues.” Lord Tyrell said.

“And how many men did Lord Rowan take with him?” Joffrey asked.

“Twenty thousand, Sire.” Lord Tyrell said.

“Very well. What else?” Joffrey asked.

“We have placed command of the trebuchets and the scorpions’ mainstay under Ser Daven Lannister. He has the most experience with these sorts of weapons.” Grandfather said.

“Where are they stationed?” He asked.

“On the western and eastern gates.” Grandfather replied. “They are the areas where the dragons are most likely to come if they follow the same strategy that Rhaenyra Targaryen did during the Dance.”

Joffrey heard some of his brother’s reasoning there and nodded. “Very well. And who commands where?”

“I shall take the Lion Gate with ten thousand men. Lord Tyrell is taking the Gate of the Gods with twenty thousand men. Prince Tommen shall take the Dragon Gate with fifteen thousand men.” Grandfather said.

“Very good.” Joffrey said. He looked at the men and said. “Well there is no point in waiting for this anymore, you all have your orders, begin them.” With that he walked off to the King’s Gate, Ser Barristan and Ser Jaime at his side. He walked along his heart beating somewhat rapidly. Ser Jaime had insisted he come with him, Joffrey had been tempted to ask him to remain guarding Mother. But well, he could use the extra fighters.

As he walked he had a thought. “Prince Oberyn is where?”

“With the Dornish contingent in the Maidenvault, Sire, as you asked.” Ser Jaime replied.

“And who is watching them?” Joffrey asked, he did not trust the Dornish whatsoever.

“The Halladon Whores.” Jaime said, using the name that had been given to the little experiments of that oddball Qyburn who had come from Harrenhal with information and other such things.

“Very well.” Joffrey said, they continued walking and then they got on their horses and rode to the King’s Gate. When they got there, Joffrey found fifteen thousand men there waiting for him. Ser Loras Tyrell was there waiting. “Ser Loras.” Joffrey said as he dismounted.

“Sire.” Ser Loras replied.

“How goes things here?” Joffrey asked.

“Well enough. The men will be happy to see you.” Ser Loras said.

Joffrey nodded, he walked to stand before the men who were there, they fell silent when they saw him. He cleared his throat and said. “We face a test. Something that none of us have experienced before. Some of you were here when Stannis came and tried to take this city. This will be different. Now there will be more men coming to fight us and dragons. Know this, I shall not look down on any man who feels he cannot stand and fight. But for those of you who stand and fight, I will give my all, so that you might live to see the sun rise again, so that you might experience the love of your family again. I am your King, and I swear this to you.”

It was perhaps not the most inspiring speech, but it was the best he could do. The men cheered all the same and one of them even said. “We shall gladly fight and die for you, Sire. Fuck the dragonspawn.” That got a hearty roar.

There was a horn blast in the distance. Joffrey turned and called out to the man on the wall. “What do you see?”

There was a pause and then. “They are coming, Sire.”

Joffrey nodded. “Prepare yourselves.” He roared and then he said a prayer waiting for the moment to come.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 91: Battle Commences For The Imp

 

Tyrion watched as his father barked out orders and generally looked as a King should. Dressed head to toe in armour, with the lion of their house emblazoned on it. Tywin Lannister was a political animal, and as with anything he was using this as a chance to display his political skill. Marbrand was next to Kayce, Banefort next to Brax, and so on. Houses who had suffered at the hands of the Greyjoys were being given a chance to get their revenge in a way. The Lion Gate held firm for now, but the enemy had not yet come. Tyrion took a breath. Looked at Pod, and sighed.

“You know before the day is over, we might well be dead.” He said. It was a morose thought but one he had all the same. He wondered what Shae was doing at this very minute.

“Don’t think like that, my lord. You led the defence of the Blackwater.” Pod replied, ever loyal.

Tyrion laughed. “Indeed I did.” He thought on that the Blackwater had been nothing compared to this. They were always going to defeat Stannis Baratheon, but this, this was different. The Targaryens had made King’s Landing and he knew from his own wanderings that there was still some residual loyalty to that house in the city. Who knew what might happen.

A knight whose name escaped him came to him then. “My lord, Lord Tywin wishes to speak with you.”

Tyrion nodded and hobbled off to where his father sat, astride a warhorse. “You wished to see me, father?”

“You will command seven hundred men on the eastern side of this gate. You will hold the side and not let anyone through.” His father barked out.

Ever since they had received news that Uncle Kevan was ailing in the Stark camp, father had been more crabby than usual. Tyrion knew he merely needed to nod and so he did so. “Yes, my lord.”

“Good. Now begone.” His father commanded. With that Lord Tywin spurred his horse on elsewhere.

Tyrion looked around and wanted to ask where he was to get the seven hundred men from, but then Ser Addam Marbrand appeared with seven hundred men, all bearing his house’s colours. “Lord Tyrion, we are at your service.” The knight said.

Tyrion nodded. “Well, let’s get going.” A horse was brought forward, he got on and they rode to the eastern side. There they found thirty men, archers the lot of them stood waiting around. “What’s the situation?” He asked, as he dismounted.

“Nothing has been sighted yet, my lord.” An old grizzled man said.

“Very well, return to your posts, and the moment you see something, say something.” Tyrion commanded. The man nodded and barked out his orders.

Tyrion turned to Ser Addam and said. “What do you think? An hour at most before they come?”

“I think less, my lord. The sky is clear; the wind is right. This is the time they will be coming to fight.” Ser Addam answered.

Ser Addam had fought in the Westerlands against Robb Stark and again in the Riverlands, he had fought against the Greyjoys. He knew far more about battle than Tyrion did, and therefore, Tyrion was inclined to listen to him. “Very well.” He replied, he kept silent then, allowing the wind to make the noise for him.

There was movement above and the grizzled old man from before called down. “Banners, my lord. A direwolf and a three-headed dragon.”

Tyrion turned to Ser Addam and said. “Well, Ser, it seems you were right.” He then turned back and barked out. “Prepare to fire arrows.” He looked around he had been given infantry, no archers, apart from the thirty men on the walls. He decided to hobble his way up to the top, Ser Addam at his side.

They watched the enemy progress, he pulled out a looking glass and saw that as had been said before, there were Stark banners, Umber banners, Karstark banners, Bolton banners, and countless other northern houses. He spied a direwolf running forward as well, its owner at the head of the army. “Aim for the direwolf.” He commanded. Hit the direwolf and maybe Stark would be broken. “Well don’t wait, fire.” He barked. The arrows were unleashed.

The arrows were unleashed, but none hit Stark and many others instead fell. Tyrion cursed. “Fire.” He barked again. More arrows were fired, and still they didn’t hit Stark just the men around him. He sighed. Gave the gesture for more, and still the arrows came, and yet little changed. “Throw spears.” He barked, the spears were thrown and little changed. Soon enough the enemy came and the gate shook. “Shit.” He kept barking out and yet, nothing changed. Stark had disappeared or he was not there or something, but then the gate was bursting open and Tyrion drew his axe and moved down to fight.

Somewhere in the distance, Tyrion knew that this should not have happened. And yet, here they were. He almost fell down the steps, and as such he continued to push himself down the steps and forced himself to fight. He hacked at shins, and barked orders, before taking a kick to the face, and flying into the distance. He got back up and moved back into the fighting. Still, there was something about this that didn’t make sense. The push turned and changed, and then there he was, he saw his father fighting and being pulled down, and then disappeared. Tyrion sighed and his brain could not process what was happening. For instance, why was there a Dornish sun and spear amongst him.

Chapter Text

Chapter 92: The Great Retreat

 

The gate shook with the might of the enemy barrage. The arrows were flying around them, but still the enemy came. Tommen looked down and saw only death. He blinked and tried hard not to let the sounds of screams filter into his mind. The images of the last battle could not be allowed to come into being. Somewhere deep down though, he knew that it was futile. The enemy kept smashing against the gate, and along the wall, there were shouts and screams as the archers fired back.

He looked at Ser Balon Swann, his white cloak billowing in the back and asked. “How long could we hold them off for?”

“I’d say another twenty minutes, Your Royal Highness. The gate is not strong enough to withstand a continuous assault.” Ser Balon answered.

Tommen cursed. “Get the oil ready then.” He had not wanted to use it, but the burning vats were perhaps their best bet.

“Yes Your Royal Highness.” Ser Balon replied. He soon started shouting for the vats to be brought forward.

“Ser Preston.” Tommen called, and the other knight came forward. “You shall command the vats.” The knight nodded and moved to stand next to them.

Tommen looked down and counted some five hundred men coming toward the gate, and its smaller gates. “Prepare.” He bellowed. The order went out across the line. “Unleash.” He commanded. And the vats were heated and then poured down the wall. The screams filled his ears and he closed his eyes for a moment before opening them again.

“Again.” He said. And again, it happened. “Again.” Again, and again it went, the vats were poured down and men would scream, desperate to make something of themselves, before the burning oil landed down to take them down for good.

Tommen desperately tried to block out the screams but found he could not. Eventually he said. “Enough. Let us see the extent of our work.” He looked down and found there were bodies, charred and burned, like the bodies had been outside Storm’s End, but there was little more to do. More men were coming and he would not burn them alive. “Unleash the arrows.” He commanded, he then turned and walked away from the battlements. Ser Balon followed him.

As they walked down the steps, Tommen heard the shouts and the cries and he closed his eyes, fighting against the memories. He didn’t want anymore memories. He heard a gargled cry, looked up and saw that Tymond Crakehall, his friend had been slain, an arrow to the eye. He said a prayer and kept walking. Eventually he stopped. He stood in front of the gate, watched it moving and shaking. “Are you sure that is wise, Your Royal Highness?” Ser Balon asked.

“They are going to come through one way or another. I intend to be the first thing they see when they do.” Tommen replied.

Ser Balon came to stand at his side, calling other men to do the same. Tygett and Tywin joined him. Tommen nodded to them, and then stood waiting, his mace in his hand. The gate shook and shimmered, something else shifted and changed as well, and then the gate flew open and the men came pouring in.  The archers hit some of the men as they came pouring in, but they stopped after a word from Ser Preston. Tommen moved forward and allowed the warrior inside him to take over.

He stopped worrying about everything else and just gave himself over to the fight. He swung his mace and just grunted with the effort. Some of the men got back up and were cut down again. Others stayed down. It got much hotter as the fighting progressed. He cleared his throat and just continued to push. Demanding his body not to falter now, not when the whole world was looking at him. He shrugged off blows and just pushed.

One boy about his own age fell on him and he hurriedly pushed him off trying to ignore the smell that came with the boy. Another came charging, slipped and impaled himself on his sword. Tommen laughed and then focused on his own mentality. He put one foot forward and pushed. The enemy came out of the gate, and then the wall started falling as more of them came. He was not entirely sure whether or not they could hold. They had fifteen thousand men, but it seemed as if some thirty thousand men were pouring through the gate now. They only flew the Targaryen banner, nothing else.

His focus was pulled sharply into focus when someone came charging at him, the figure stopped and then whispered. “Run.” Before disappearing into the crowd. Tommen wondered what the hell that meant, when suddenly a runner appeared and came to him.

“Sire, the King is dead.”

“What do you mean?” Tommen asked, not believing the words.

“He fought one of the dragonspawn and was slain. He’s dead, you are the King.”

At that moment, the gate and wall completely fell and the enemy came charging in. Ser Balon and Ser Preston came forward and said. “You must leave.” In a daze, he retreated.

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 93: Revenge

 

Viserys watched with his niece and nephew as their army assailed the city of his birth. He watched and heard the screams of the dying, their desperate pleas for relief. He watched as slowly but surely the enemy began to cave in. Lord Rowan had joined them in the Kingswood, sworn his sword to Aegon and then told them of the weaknesses within the city. They had changed their plans and moved accordingly. Stark and Waters had come with some sixty thousand men as well, to aid them in their fight. Viserys did not know what to make of Stark, he had thought to hate the man for the actions of his father, but the man was kind hearted and actually a lot of fun. Waters was a bastard, who did as he was told. That he had claim to both Storm’s End and the Eyrie would come in useful in the days to come.

“How much longer will it take?” the King demanded. The King was not a patient man by any means, and this was just further proof of it.

“We must wait until one of the gates has been completely breached.” Viserys said. Feeling the tension in his own person.

“Indeed, we cannot strike until one of the gates has fallen.” Rhaenys answered. “Otherwise everything we have planned for will go awry.”

“Very well.” Aegon said, he fell silent and the silence descended on them all then.

Viserys took a deep breath and allowed his mind to go blank. There was no point worrying about the battle to come. What would come would come, all he could do was put his best foot forward. No, he was more concerned about the here and now. The King was young and had so far proven to be quite smart and capable, but his reliance on Jon Connington, a man who was known to think with his heart and not his head remained a concern. There was also the fact that from what Viserys could tell the King saw Connington as a father figure, something that would be dangerous moving forward. After all, Connington had been completely in favour of killing Renly Baratheon and the King had nearly gone through with it, until Viserys had stepped in and pointed out the favours they could get from the man.

They could not just eradicate the Baratheons, they were an old and proud house, and were once their closest allies. Perhaps with time they could heal the wounds of the rebellion and ensure that there was peace throughout the realm. He was not sure, but he hoped something such as this could happen. He would also need to be careful of the Dornish influence over the King. Elia had been different, she had been kind and sweet, but her nephew, Prince Quentyn reminded Viserys of some sort of scheming little snake, or a piece of dirt. He did not seem to have good intentions. Add in the fact that his brother was married to Myrcella Baratheon and Viserys felt his suspicions were well founded.

Ser Rolly Duckfield, his white cloak billowing behind him rode up and stopped. His horse was still nervous of the dragons after all this time. “The King’s Gate and Dragon’s Gate have fallen.”

“Excellent.” The King said. “Viserys take the King’s Gate, I shall take the Dragon’s Gate.”

Viserys found that choice odd but nodded all the same. “As you command, Sire.” He spurred his dragon on and took flight.

You could tell when people saw the dragons or realised that they were about to witness something for they would stop what they were doing and point up into the air. It was still quite amusing to Viserys, because of how often it happened. It had been 150 years since the last dragon had been seen before this he had to remind himself, of course people would be intimidated and awed by the sight. Hopefully this time the dragons would not disappear as they had before.

He got to the King’s Gate, landed and then when the enemy came forward, he allowed his dragon to unleash fire, burning the enemy in great numbers. A man with a white cloak stepped forward to attack the dragon and his mount grabbed the old man in its teeth and ripped him to shreds. Viserys said a prayer and then moved forward. Eventually he ordered his mount to stop and he dismounted in one smooth motion. He stood for a moment, his sword on his belt. “I am Prince Viserys Targaryen, son of King Aerys and Queen Rhaella. I have come to reclaim Westeros in the name of my nephew, and the rightful King, King Aegon, son of Prince Rhaegar and Princess Elia. Those who bend the knee now shall live to benefit from our rule. Those who fight shall die and their families shall suffer for their foolishness.”

There was a brief silence and then a man stepped forward, dressed in bronze armour, wearing a stag helm. “We shall never bend to the Targaryen yoke again. You are monsters, the lot of you.”

The man wielded a war hammer as well. “And who are you?”

“King Joffrey Baratheon, son of King Robert Baratheon and Demon of the Trident.” The man replied.

“Well then Joffrey, prepare to die.” Viserys replied, he drew his sword and advanced.

The other man was good, he landed some very serious blows onto Viserys body, enough that he felt his dragon growl in anger. Viserys ordered his beast to remain where he was though, for he knew that should the dragon get involved this win would not be his. They moved around in the elaborate dance of war, slinking this way and that. Slowly but surely the other man got tired.

Viserys got the impression that Joffrey Baratheon fought in quick bursts and used his brute strength, he was not used to dancing around like this. Viserys had fought on the street, he knew how to do this. He had learned how to wear down an opponent. When Baratheon slowed down, Viserys pounced. He swung his blade pushed the man backwards, ever further, noticing that there was a chance to impale him, Viserys feinted, hit the man’s leg, forcing Baratheon back, the spear hit him in the back, forcing him down, Viserys launched himself up and slashed once, twice, and then a third time. The third time the man dropped his hammer and began to slump down. Before he could fall down completely, Viserys removed the helm of the man and held him by the hair.

“You should have surrendered.” He whispered before he cleaved the man’s head off.

Chapter Text

Chapter 94: Mother’s Lament

 

The ground shook. It shook worse than it had done during the Blackwater, when Wildfire had been used. Here, it was just the merciless assault of thousands of men fighting that made it shake. Cersei kept an eye on the Queen, and on Sansa Stark, watching their every moves. She did not trust Margaery Tyrell, and she thought Sansa was too much of a traitor’s daughter to take delight in the victory she was sure was being won below. She looked at them and thought about how different things would have been had Ned Stark just managed to keep his mouth shut and not said anything about Gendry Waters. If only he had not had that thrice damned honour complex of his, something might have been managed.

And yet, here they were. There was no point thinking about what might have been. The door opened and Sandor Clegane entered, with his scarred face. Then there was Ser Vylarr of the Red Cloaks. He was covered in dirt and blood. “What news?” Cersei asked wondering why the man was here, though deep down she suspected she knew the truth.

Ser Vylarr walked up to her and bent down to whisper. “The city is lost.”

“Lost? What do you mean lost?” Cersei demanded in an equal whisper.

“The King is dead.” Ser Vylarr responded.

Cersei slapped him and said. “How do you know?”

“I…I saw it happen. He was slain by a Targaryen. I was sent by Ser Jaime to tell you.” Ser Vylarr replied.

Cersei slapped the man again, but deep down she knew he was right, she could feel it. had felt something the moment Ser Vylarr had entered. Like a weight had dropped. She would not have felt this way if her son was still alive. “Myrcella, come here.” She commanded.

Her daughter got up, heavily pregnant and asked. “What is it, Mother?”

Cersei looked at her daughter, and then at Ser Arys who stood behind her, her white shadow, and then at Myrcella’s husband who she had demanded remain with her daughter, so that she could keep an eye on him. “Joffrey is dead.” Cersei said.

Myrcella looked as though she had just been hit with a hammer. “You…you are sure of this?”

Ser Vylarr answered. “I am, Your Royal Highness. I saw it myself.”

“And Prince Tommen?” Myrcella asked. Cersei cursed herself for not thinking of her second son.

“He….he is alive as far as I know. He is leading the counter attack.” Ser Vylarr said.

There was a brief pause, and then Cersei asked. “Where is Prince Oberyn?” the man had gotten up some time ago and not returned.

The hound spoke. “He was fighting in the streets.”

“What!” Cersei exclaimed.

“Aye. Think he might have killed the old lion.” The hound said.

Cersei felt as though she’d just been slapped twice in the face. She looked at her daughter and her daughter said. “You need to get out and leave, Mother. Right now.”

“You are not going to come?” Cersei asked, feeling as though she were drowning.

“I cannot go. I am in no fit condition to go and even if I did I would only slow you down. Besides I do not think Prince Oberyn would allow us to continue unmolested. He would seek his nephew wherever we went. Better for us to remain here and serve as the eyes and ears.” Myrcella answered.

That was exactly the sort of thing that Cersei herself would have said, and so she knew her daughter was not going to be budged on this issue. She kissed her daughter on the cheek and whispered. “Be safe. And trust Pycelle, he will know what to do.”

“Yes, Mother.” Myrcella said.

Cersei looked at Taena Merryweather and the woman did as they had agreed, she dropped the powder which brought a gas to the fore. As the gas enveloped the room, she slipped out with three ladies in waiting and with Ser Vylarr, the Hound would remain with Myrcella. She walked down the steps and out into the courtyard, she then hurried to grab and then thought better of it. She made her way toward the Barn Entrance, Ser Vylarr knocked the door open, opened the tunnel door and they made their way down in the darkness.

Her heart was hammering. Her grief was boiling under the surface. She fought hard to keep from crying out. Joffrey was dead, the mere thought of that was something she had difficulty understanding. How could her golden boy have died? How? He had beaten the Mountain, he had beaten Stannis, he had beaten the Vulture King and yet he had been slain by a dragon? It was not possible. And yet everyone said he was dead. Where was her father? Was he dead also? What was happening? The fighting had dimmed outside, and when they emerged she found herself looking at her twin. Jaime’s white cloak was dampened with mud and blood and gore.

She did not care she threw herself at him. “Jaime” she smelt him and sighed. She looked up. “Is it true? Is Joffrey dead?”

Jaime’s cheeks were damp; he had been crying. “Yes. I saw it. he was cut down by the Targaryen boy.”

Cersei wanted to ask why he had not tried to stop her son from fighting like that, but she saw that doing so would not do anything, instead she asked. “What about Tommen?”

Jaime looked uncertain and then he said. “I saw him, he was leading a counter attack. He told me to take you to safety.”

“Where?” Cersei demanded. The entire city looked as if it were on fire.

“Come with me.” Jaime helped her onto a horse and then they were off, down through side alleys, and through the gutted streets and fire. In the distance she could hear the sounds of fire and burning, and she wondered what that meant. As they reached the end of King’s Landing she wondered if she should have taken Margaery Tyrell with her or not.

Chapter Text

Chapter 95: Southside

 

Viserys landed his dragon in the courtyard, and dismounted. The King and Rhaenys did the same thing. He took a deep breath. The Red Keep beckoned to him and he wanted to drink in every moment of this. He had dreamed of this for seventeen years. He walked and the King and Rhaenys came, he allowed the King to walk in front, with his knights of the Kingsguard spreading out to protect them. They’d lost one of the knights during the fighting, another had been badly wounded. Viserys could still feel the sting where the Baratheon boy had hit him. He would need to get that wound checked before he fainted. But first he would bask in the joys of being home.

They entered the Holdfast, and there waiting for them were members of the previous King’s small council. Varys, the bald eunuch who Viserys recognised immediately. Pycelle, who he also recognised. Mace Tyrell, dressed in his armour, but who had come up first to the keep to tell them of their King’s death was there as well, as were others he did not recognise. They all bowed before the King. “Welcome to the Red Keep, Your Majesty, Your Royal Highnesses. Welcome home.” Varys simpered.

The King continued walking, he made his way down the hallway and the doors to the throne room were throne open. The King walked and then stopped at the foot of the throne. He turned to look at Viserys and Rhaenys. “Is this real? Are we truly here?”

“It is very real, Your Majesty.” Viserys said. “We are home.”

“Home.” The King said, he smiled, and then turned around. “It has been a long time coming, we have much to do and sort out.” There was a pause and then Connington stepped forward and said.

“By order of His Majesty King Aegon Targaryen, sixth of that name since the Conquest, we do hereby pardon Lord Varys, and confirm him as Master of Whispers. We do hereby pardon Mace Tyrell and name him Master of Laws. We do hereby pardon Lord Paxter Redwyne and name him Master of Ships. We do hereby pardon Prince Oberyn Martell and name him Master of Coin.”

There was a brief pause and Pycelle murmured. “What of me, Sire?”

Here, the King looked at Pycelle and walked toward him, with his sword he said. “You are the man who convinced my grandfather to open the gates of King’s Landing to Tywin Lannister. With that one action, you committed treason. Therefore, you are imprisoned for treason.” He nodded to two knights of the Golden Company and said. “Take him to the black cells.” The men grabbed Pycelle and walked away.

There was a brief pause, and then the King looked at him. “Uncle, go to the Maidenvault and bring our cousin and his wife here.”

Viserys bowed and then walked off. Ser Richard followed behind him. As they walked, Viserys asked. “Is it true, what the King said, Ser Richard? Did Pycelle tell my father to open the gates to Tywin Lannister?”

Ser Richard said nothing for a time and then. “I heard that this is what happened, Your Royal Highness.”

“But you do not know for sure?” Viserys demanded.

“I do not, Your Royal Highness.” Lonmouth said.

Viserys thought on that, but then soon enough found himself at the doors to the Maidenvault. The man stood outside guarding it had burns all over his face. “Who the fuck are you?” The man snarled.

“I am Viserys of House Targaryen, I have come to take Myrcella Baratheon and her husband to see the King.” Viserys said simply.

Something shifted in the man’s face then. “Which fucking King?”

“There is only one King. Aegon Targaryen, King of Westeros, and sixth of his name.” Viserys responded.

There was a moment where Viserys thought he might need to draw his sword, but then the man moved to the side and the door opened. There stood before him was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. She had blonde hair and green eyes, and behind her was a man with dark bronze skin. “Lady Myrcella?” Viserys asked.

The woman didn’t even bristle as he had thought she might. “Yes, Your Royal Highness.”

“Come with me.” Viserys said, he turned and walked back to the throne room, a few moments later, he heard their footsteps and knew they had come. They walked in silence for a time and then arrived back in the throne room. “Lady Myrcella and Prince Trystane, Your Majesty.” Viserys said. He bowed and then saw that the King was on the throne.

“Thank you, Viserys, I know you are tired, you may retire for now.” The King said.

Viserys bowed and then straightened, turned and walked out. Ser Richard followed him and they made their way to his old room. He stood in the doorway when they got there and he simply stared at the room. It was bare now, clearly the Baratheons had removed everything from it and not seen fit to use it again, but when he was a child there had been paintings and banners and all sorts of things. He walked into the room and he could hear his mother’s laughter and her singing to him. He closed his eyes and then he sighed. “I’m home, Mama.” He whispered to himself. “I will bring Daenerys home as well.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 96: Reunion

 

Sansa was done with crying. She had wept bitterly when they had told her that the King was dead, that his head had been mounted on a spike on Traitor’s Gate. She had not gone to see it, she had not even left her room for a time. But now she was done. She was done with King’s Landing and wanted just to return home. Arya shared her views, and now they were waiting for Robb to come and tell them that it was okay to go home, to dream of home. Their brother had been very busy sorting out things with the new King, Aegon Targaryen, he was handsome, Sansa had to admit that, but he lacked something, something that King Joffrey had had. Regardless, she did not care now, she just wanted to go home.

The door to her chambers opened, Arya looked up, and Robb walked in. Sansa rose, and Arya flung herself into their brother’s arms. Sansa waited and then when Arya moved back she hugged Robb as well and whispered. “It is good to see you.”

Robb looked different, he was broader, filled out and with a beard as well. “It is good to see you both as well. I am sorry I could not come sooner, the King is a demanding person.”

“What has he demanded of you?” Sansa asked. She knew her brother had bent the knee before coming to King’s Landing, but she was not sure what else the King had demanded.

“Well, Ser Wylis Manderly will be on the small council, and five hundred of our men will be remaining behind as part of his guard.” Robb answered.

“Those weren’t things demanded by the King were they?” Sansa asked as she thought it through. “You wanted this to happen.”

“Yes. If we are going to bend the knee to the descendant of the man who murdered our uncle and grandfather, and whose father raped our aunt, I was definitely going to get concessions.” Robb replied. “We shall be returning to the north after the coronation.”

“When will that be?” Arya asked and Sansa could sympathise with her sister, the desire to go home and hug Mother, Bran and Rickon was strong.

“In a week’s time. Once the King is satisfied there are no Lannister loyalists left in the city.” Robb responded.

Sansa thought on something she had heard when Joffrey had still been alive. “Didn’t you hold Ser Kevan Lannister as a prisoner?”

“I did yes.” Robb replied he shifted slightly. “the King demanded that he be executed.”

“So, you handed him over?” Sansa asked, not sure whether to be relieved or horrified.

“Yes. The King commanded it.” Robb replied.

“Do you know what happened to the others?” Arya asked.

“What others?” Robb replied.

“Tommen, Tyrion, Lord Tywin, those lot.” Arya said.

“Lord Tywin was killed by Prince Oberyn. Tyrion Lannister currently being held for questioning and Tommen…” something shifted in Robb’s face then and Sansa remembered that before this all had started Tommen, Robb and Joffrey had all been very close. “Tommen is missing.”

“Missing?” Sansa asked. “What do you mean missing?”

“Meaning that he led a counter charge against the enemy and then was never seen again. Nobody knows where he is.” Robb replied.

“Oh.” Sansa said.

“Enough of that though. How are you both doing?” Robb asked.

“Good, so much happier now that you are here.” Arya replied honestly.

“Sansa?” Robb asked.

“I’m…” Sansa paused as she struggled to find the right words. “I’m good, I think.”

Robb nodded and took her hands. “No matter that he was my enemy, I am sorry for Joffrey’s death. I know how much you loved him.”

Sansa nodded. “Thank you.”

There was a brief pause and then Arya spoke. “So, how is your wife?”

Robb smiled and that brightened Sansa’s mood. “She is well. I think you both will like her. she has spirit and fight.”

“How did you meet?” Arya asked.

Before their brother could respond, there was a knock on the door. Jory entered and bowed his head. “My lord, the King is summoning you.”

Robb nodded, kissed both of them on the cheek then left. Once he was gone, Sansa looked at Arya and said. “Don’t ask him how he met his wife.”

“Why? Who is she?” Arya asked. Sansa wondered how Arya could not remember.

“Jeyne Westerling.” Sansa said simply.

“Oh.” Arya said. “Okay.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 97: Ned

 

Every day he woke up with that feeling of dread and anguish in his stomach. He had done a great wrong to Jon and that feeling had eaten him alive for years and now it made it hard for him to think with worry and concern. His son had gone and disappeared and had said nothing. Ned knew he was to blame, he knew Lya would’ve taken his head had she still been alive. There was so much happening within and without and he knew not where to look and where to shout. And still the Archon refused to let him go.

The man had brought him to his chambers now and Ned looked at him. Maegor Targaryen had the hair and build of his ancestors and he smiled the same way. Ned despised that smile. “I know what you are thinking, Lord Stark. You are wanting to know why I have not let you go, and you are wanting to know why I keep you here. The answer is simple really. Your continued death creates more chaos.”

“What do you mean?” Ned asked though he was beginning to think he knew the answer.

“Joffrey Baratheon is dead.” Maegor answered. Ned sighed, Robert’s boy had been a good lad, and would’ve made a good King. “He was slain fighting an invasion by Aegon Targaryen and Viserys Targaryen.”

Ned raised an eyebrow. “Aegon Targaryen is dead. He was killed by Ser Gregor Clegane.” He had seen the body himself, wrapped up in the scarlet of House Lannister.

The Archon laughed. “Ah yes, that old chestnut. I told Varys it would work.”

“You mean to tell me you played a hand in this?” Ned asked. “Why should I believe you?”

The Archon extended his arms. “Varys is family, he wanted to protect Rhaegar’s children, and so he came to me with a request and I happily provided it. I wanted Aerys gone not his son or his children. Besides, Elia Martell was my cousin as well.”

“How many people are related to you?” Ned enquired.

Maegor laughed. “A great many. Elia’s father was my father’s nephew.” The Archon laughed at his expression and then continued. “But that is neither here nor there. I have kept you here because your son has bent the knee to Aegon Targaryen and has given up his independence. He continues to believe that you were wronged.”

“I sent the letter confirming what the King had said. And I know the King would have done the same.” Ned replied.

“Indeed, but this was not something that you could control.” The Archon replied.

“Did you have something to do with this?” Ned demanded.

The Archon shook his head. “No, your wife’s friend Baelish did however.”

“Baelish?!” Ned exclaimed. “Why?”

“That is for you to think about.” The Archon responded. “Instead, I shall tell you why I have kept you here properly.” Ned looked at the man and he expanded on his point. “By keeping you here, I have ensured your son has bent to Aegon, he has shown his bannermen that he is willing to bend the knee to a dragon. When you are returned, and have told him the truth about Jon, then he will be forced to bend the knee to his brother/cousin, and there the north will add its strength to the forces your nephew brings with him.”

“Jon is Aegon’s brother, if the boy is real.” Ned replied. “Jon would never fight against his brother.”

The Archon laughed. “You are not sure of that. We both know that the Jon who swore an oath to King Joffrey is not the same Jon who went away from here. You saw to that. What makes you think that he has not gotten any ambitions of his own?”

Ned looked at the Archon and sighed. “I do not know.”

“Exactly.” The Archon replied simply. “When you return home, your son will want to know where you have been, you shall tell him the truth, but only the parts which we know are the truth, which he shall believe.”

Ned raised an eyebrow, this made no sense. “What are you talking about?”

“You will figure it out, you shall have enough time to do so on the ship home.” The Archon said.

Ned snapped then. “You keep saying I am going home, but I have not seen anything to suggest that I will be. I am still here.”

The Archon clapped his hands. “Well now you are not.” Ned turned around and found servants with a trunk. “You shall be departing for the Islander. It will take you to White Harbour.”

“Why White Harbour?” Ned asked.

“Because that is where your son will be when you eventually get there.” The Archon said. With that he turned around.

Ned stood where he was for a moment and then began following the servant out of the room, down the steps and out of the manse. He walked and got onto a horse and rode to the docks, where the ship was waiting. He got off the horse and boarded the ship, as his trunk was loaded onto the thing.

As the ship left the dock, he said a prayer and then said. “I’m coming home, Cat, I will be home soon, and then I will make this right, I promise.”

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 98: Greyjoy Iron

 

Theon sat atop the throne, with a woman on either leg. It was paradise really. They had taken the Rock and slaughtered half the garrison, he’d even taken some of the gold right off the boat and shipped it back to Pyke. Living here, keeping the Westerlanders in complete submission was something he liked a lot. It was a complete change to what normally happened, and he had achieved something not even Dalton Greyjoy had achieved. That made him feel very proud. Of course, there were some things that needed changing. He had to have a wife, and he needed to achieve some other things as well, but on the whole it was quite well done.

His uncle stood before him as did the maester for the Rock. “Tywin Lannister is dead, Sire.” The Maester said, showing just how much of a rat he was by the way he fawned over Theon, when previously he had spat at him.

“How did he die?” Theon asked. The thought of that mighty lion dead, without even knowing that the Rock had fallen to him? Well that just wasn’t fair.

“He was slain fighting the Targaryens, Sire. It seems that Oberyn Martell killed him, himself.” The Maester replied.

“So, the Red Viper finally got revenge for his sister then.” Theon mused. He kissed the two girls necks and whispered. “Did you hear that girls, Tywin Lannister is gone.”

“A relief. He was a monster.” One of the girls said, Theon thought her name was something like Tyanna, he could not be sure.

“You are a much better Lord of the Rock.” The other girl said.

“King of the Rock, darling, I am King of the Rock.” Theon said.

The maester remained standing at the foot of the throne. “Sire, there is something else.”

“What?” Theon asked impatiently.

“Joffrey Baratheon is also dead. Slain by Viserys Targaryen.” The maester responded.

“And what became of Tommen Baratheon?” Theon asked.

“Nobody knows.” The maester replied. “However, Aegon Targaryen has been crowned King and has declared Myrcella Baratheon and her husband as Lady and Lord of the Rock.”

“Will they be coming with an army?” Theon wondered.

“Not right now no, Sire. I believe Aegon Targaryen has decided he needs to completely destroy any remnants of loyalists toward the Baratheons.” The Maester replied.

“Very good, that means we shall maintain the advantage over him when he does eventually come to fight us.” Theon said.

“There is something else though, Sire.” The Maester said.

“What? And why didn’t you just say what this thing was from the beginning?” Theon said. He was beginning to think this man was holding back things purposefully.

“Apologies, Sire.” The Maester said, he then rattled off what he had to say. “My sources in the capital report that the Targaryens have dragons. Three of them and they are as big as mammoths or perhaps even bigger. When the Targaryens do turn their attention toward us, they will be bringing their fire power with them.”

Theon looked at the man and asked. “You are absolutely sure of this?” He hadn’t always paid attention during the lessons Maester Luwin had given him, but he was not an idiot, he knew that dragons were fucking difficult to kill.

“I am, Sire. My sources have never failed me before now.” The Maester said.

Theon rose, and the girls got off him. He walked down the steps of the throne and said. “Very well. Dismissed.” The court filed out, leaving behind only Dagmar Cleftjaw and Uncle Aeron. Theon looked at his uncle and asked. “Well?”

His uncle looked at him and simply said. “I think that things are going to progress no matter how you act, Sire.”

“What the hell does that even mean?” Theon demanded, he was getting increasingly frustrated with the references his uncle made.

“It means keep doing what you are doing and do not stray the course.” His uncle said simply.

“Fine.” Theon replied. With that he walked out of the throne room.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 99: Imp’s Plight

 

The cell was dark and damp. The one next to him stank of shit and piss. The man in the other cell frequently groaned and screamed, as memories of his previous torture came back to haunt him. Tyrion spent most of his time curled up in a ball trying to sleep and hide the memories of the pain. He’d lost his nose during the fighting. It had been completely cut off, and he’d lain there bleeding, fully expecting to die, when he’d been found. They’d dragged him back here, made him better and then thrown him in a cell.

Occasionally he got visitors, but not anyone he liked or wanted to see. He knew Joffrey was dead, that a Targaryen Prince had killed him, and that his head sat on Traitor’s Gate, he knew his father was dead as well, he’d seen that happen right before him. He was Lord of the Rock then and should’ve been treated as such, but clearly not. He muttered something to himself, the words he didn’t even know. The light came in then as the cell door opened.

“What do you want?” Tyrion demanded shielding his eyes.

“To talk.” The voice said.

“Who are you?” Tyrion asked.

The figure shut the door and then stepped into the torch light. “Lord Varys the eunuch.” The eunuch said.

“What do you want from me?” Tyrion demanded. He looked at the eunuch and felt the need to swear, but nothing good came to mind.

“I have come to talk.” Varys said.

“You already said that, so talk.” Tyrion growled.

“It has been some time since you saw the light and I know you are desperate to see it again. Therefore, we will discuss two things. First of all, do you know why you are here?” Varys asked.

“No. My father is dead as is Joffrey, Jaime is in the Kingsguard, therefore by rights I am the rightful Lord of Casterly Rock and Warden of the West. Why is your Targaryen King keeping me in a black cell? Is he a fool? Are you?” Tyrion demanded.

The eunuch laughed. “I have kept an eye on you from the moment you were born, Lord Tyrion. I know what you are capable of. However, I also know, as do you, that the Westerlands would never accept a dwarf as their ruler. Therefore, the King has seen fit to name your niece as Lady of the Rock and Warden of the West with her husband serving in a military capacity.”

Tyrion howled with laughter. “A woman is more acceptable than a dwarf, and a woman married to a Dornishman at that?” He looked at the eunuch. “You really are a Targaryen stooge.”

It was the eunuch’s turn to laugh. “Come now Lord Tyrion, we both know that out of all of your sister’s children and Lord Tywin’s family, Lady Myrcella is the most capable. She has the brains and the smarts to ensure that the Westerlords remain on her side, and her husband is firmly within her grasp. Doran Martell will not be getting the revenge he wants from that marriage.”

“And what army will aid my niece in taking the Westerlands back from the Ironborn? Will they follow a Dornishman in the campaign, when my brother and sister are still alive?” Tyrion asked.

“Ser Addam Marbrand has sworn his sword to your niece, as have the majority of the Westerlords who survived the battle. That is an army of twenty-five thousand right there. More than a match for the Ironborn who are pathetic in open battle.” Varys said.

“And what then?” Tyrion asked. “Myrcella takes the Rock, my sister and brother are still alive. You really think that she will turn against them?”

The eunuch said nothing for a time and then he said. “They will be brought into line or they will die. It is as simple as that.”

Tyrion laughed and then asked. “What made you change? Or have you always been a Targaryen supporter lurking in the background?”

The eunuch said nothing to him, merely stared and so Tyrion had to draw his own conclusions which he said out loud. “I think you had some ulterior motive for coming to King’s Landing after Duskendale, your past is too clean for you to be a simple innocent bystander. From there you got yourself into the Mad King’s good graces and then you plotted with his heir when you realised how mad the Mad King was. But then Rhaegar showed himself to be as stupid and mad as his father when he kidnapped the Stark girl, so you worked hard to ensure his children were safe. Then you faked their deaths and spent time working in the shadows to ensure that they could return, using Robert’s faults to bolster support internally.” Tyrion stopped and looked at the eunuch and asked. “How close am I?”

The eunuch did not answer his question which made Tyrion think he was completely right. Instead, the eunuch said. “Your nephew is missing; do you know where he might have gone?”

Internally, Tyrion breathed a sigh of relief, if they did not know where Tommen was, that meant that he was alive and well. Tyrion said nothing, he knew where his nephew might go, and who with, and he would not rat him out. “I do not.”

The eunuch smiled. “I had thought you might say that.” Varys turned and a door was opened and a woman was thrown in.

Tyrion gasped. “Shae…”

“Do it.” Varys said. A big man walked in and pulled Shae to him and Tyrion screamed as he watched what happened next.

Chapter Text

Chapter 100: A Mother’s Joy

 

Catelyn stood still, holding Rickon, whilst Bran was sat in his chair. The gates were opened, and a horn sounded. Her heart flipped as she saw Robb galloping into the courtyard, followed by three women, two of whom were her daughters and who she was delighted to see. The third of whom she did not know, but guessed from Robb’s letters was his wife Jeyne Westerling. Robb stopped his horse before her, dismounted and got to one knee.

“Mother.” He said.

“My lord.” Catelyn replied, feeling something break a little inside her at those words, knowing she would never get a chance to say them to Ned.

Robb rose and helped Sansa dismount whilst Arya jumped down from her horse. Catelyn noticed that her son only spared a passing glance for his wife, she wondered at that, but pushed it away as Robb came to her with her daughters. “May I present to you, your daughters, the Ladies Sansa and Arya.”

Catelyn ignored all propriety then and brought her daughters into a hug and whispered. “I have missed you both terribly.”

“We have missed you too, Mother.” Sansa said formally.

Robb then cleared his throat, Catelyn looked up and saw that he had his wife with him. She was a skinny thing, with mousy brown hair and looked terrified. “Mother, may I present to you, my lady wife, Jeyne Westerling of the Crag.”

Catelyn stepped forward, curtseyed and said. “Welcome to Winterfell, my lady.”

“Thank you, Lady Catelyn.” Lady Jeyne replied.

Catelyn heard something odd in the woman’s voice but decided to ignore it for now. She instead looked at her children and said. “A feast has been prepared, you will want to have a bath and get changed. Come.” With that she turned and walked back into the castle. Robb walked at her side, whilst Sansa and Arya trailed behind, Rickon helped push Bran’s chair.

As they walked into the castle, Robb spoke. “I am sorry I did not come back sooner, Mother. When I heard that Theon had taken Winterfell, I wanted to come back. But the war was still raging in the south.”

“It is fine, sweetling. What is done is done.” Catelyn responded. “Lord Ryswell helped take care of the problem.”

“Good, I shall need to speak with him eventually.” Robb answered.

“I heard that Theon Greyjoy is now in the Rock.” Catelyn said.

“He is welcome to it.” Robb said. “I never want to have to march south ever again. It’s a cesspit.”

Catelyn laughed then. “Your father used to say the same thing as well.” She saw something strange cross over her son’s face then, but it was gone as quickly as it came.

They stopped at his old rooms. “I will see you at the feast, Mother.” Robb said, he bowed to her and then entered his old rooms. It was then that Catelyn realised she would need to move. Jeyne was the Lady of Winterfell now, not her.

She turned and walked with her daughters then. They didn’t speak for a time, just walked, Catelyn knew that perhaps she should go and help her gooddaughter, but she found that she could not be bothered. Instead she said. “Lady Jeyne, you can come with us.” The girl nodded and followed them.

They entered the girls room, and started getting ready, Sansa and Arya had their baths, as did Jeyne. They didn’t talk much, but simply being in her daughters’ presence after so long away from them was a relief. Soon enough they were ready and making their way over to the great hall for the feast. Robb walked in with Jeyne on his arm, and she could truly feel something off with the two of them, but what it was she could not quite tell. She pushed that thought to the side when her son stood up and said. “My lords and ladies, after two years of fighting, the war is done. A King worthy of the throne sits in King’s Landing. I know that you have all made sacrifices, and I wish to say thank you for everything. It has not been forgotten. My sisters are back home, and though we will always mourn my father, let it be known that Winter has come and peace with it.” He raised his cup and drank then he said. “And to my lady mother, who throughout all of this has held Winterfell together most superbly and ensured that nothing has gone awry.” He raised his cup again and they drank. Robb sat down and they began to feast, and though there was still a hole in her heart where Ned had been, she looked around the room, at her children and she thought perhaps now she could heal.

Chapter Text

Chapter 101: Destruction

 

Jon felt the armour creak a little. Custom made by one of the smiths in the city. It had dragons emblazoned all over it, with rubies as well, a nod to his father. His helm had a snarling dragon on the front as well. He had considered having a direwolf but had dismissed that. He was a Targaryen and had never been a Stark. Eddard Stark had seen to that. His wife was next to him in her own armour, which was silver with dragons dancing on it. He smiled at her, she was pregnant, but would not be due until they were back in Westeros.

A servant came and said. “It is time, Your Majesties.” Jon nodded and took his wife by the hand and walked through the open doors to stand before their soldiers.

“We are facing a foe that wishes to wipe us out completely. They wish to take your freedom and throw it into the fire. They wish to see everything that we have built and destroy it. will you let them?” Jon said.

“NO!” came the answering roar.

“They are the savages knocking at our door, demanding something that is not theirs. They claim it is their birthright, but they are nothing but charlatans waiting to make themselves the new masters of this city. We cannot and will not allow that.” Jon said.

“Today we shall fight for everything that we hold dear. Know that We are both fighting with you.” Jon said, he held up his wife’s hand and heard the answering roar and smiled. With that he turned away.

“You are well enough to fight?” He asked of his wife.

“Yes, my love.” Daenerys responded.

“Good.” Jon answered, he turned as Ser Jorah called his name.

“Sire, the men are ready, the bombardment is about to start.”

“And the ships?” Jon asked.

“Ready to retaliate.” Ser Jorah responded.

“Then begin.” Jon said. Ser Jorah nodded and rushed out barking orders. Jon looked at his wife and said. “I am surprised he has adapted so well to this. I had thought there would be more resistance given his love for you.”

His wife laughed and he felt a stir down below at the sound. “It is because of his love for me that he adapted so well.”

“Oh, very clever.” Jon replied, leaning in to kiss his wife. He leaned back and then said. “Come let us watch the battle begin.”

They walked forward to the balcony, and Jon held his wife’s hand as they saw their soldiers pushing forward. The gates were being battered. Jon knew the plan was to let the gates fall open and for the enemy troops to pile in thinking they had won. Still he did not like this feeling, knowing that it would seem like defeat. And defeat to these savages felt demeaning. Still he looked at his wife then back at the action unfolding before him, and he knew that it was the right course to take.

As the waves of action began, Jon noticed something that had come up time and time again observing the Unsullied fight and defend. They were shit at defending, they were an aggressive unit of fighting men, who would rather die than live. That was why they seemed so stiff, and why he had placed them at the front. The more of those fuckers who died, perhaps the more the message would get through to Ser Jorah that they could not just rely on the Unsullied when it came to Westeros. They would need knights and the Dothraki as well.

When the doors broke, Jon heard his wife gasp. He looked at her then and she smiled sheepishly. “I know we agreed that this would happen, but it is still surprising.”

“I know.” Was all he said. He turned back to watching the fighting. It pushed and pulled, twisted and turned. When he felt that the moment was right he said. “We must move now.”

With his wife he walked to where the dragons were resting deep within the pyramid, they moved up and then down and then up again before finally coming to their lair. Jon got on his beast, and Daenerys hers. They said a quick prayer and then they took flight. Jon could tell when the realisation hit the men below that something was about to happen. The air became choked with the sound of bitterness and piss. Jon eased his dragon down and then whispered. “Dracarys.” The burning started.

The screams reached him on his dragon’s back. He did not laugh, he didn’t really feel anything toward them. They just were. The sounds of a dying breed, of animals being brought for slaughter. It was justice in a sense, for all the trouble they had tried to bring him and his wife down and therefore they needed to pay for it. He watched as the flames spread, the third dragon that was without a rider joined in. They did this countless times, going in and out and back and forth, before, the enemy retreated. A passing glance over the walls showed the enemy fleet burning.

When he saw the enemy gasping for breath and desperately trying to flee, he flew his dragon to the other side to wait for them. He counted, once, twice, and then thrice then unleashed hell. The dragons came to life truly then and the screams made him want to cover his ears but also laugh. The enemy was done for, and when the dust settled, he dismounted from his dragon and found the captain of the fleet that had helped them.

The man bowed and he said. “You have done your duty. Now come, let us take what is ours.” With that he helped Euron Greyjoy to his feet.

Chapter Text

Chapter 102: Family Council

 

Being back in King’s Landing was both right and odd. He had not been here for some seventeen years since the rebellion had happened and now he was back and dominating things. The King ruled, and he helped. And he was determined that they would never flee into exile ever again. He would not allow that. Viserys knew what might happen should they be forced from the throne again, which was why he did everything he could to moderate the influence that Jon Connington had on the King. It had been he who had suggested that Connington be sent to the Stormlands to sort things out there with Lord Renly, and he had suggested that Prince Oberyn go with Lady Myrcella and Prince Trystane and the Westerlords to sort out things in the Westerlands.

With those two slightly toxic influences gone, Viserys felt more reassured now at family meetings which was where real policy was decided. As always though the eunuch attended the meetings which made Viserys curious. Still he cleared his thoughts as the King cleared his throat and spoke. “Word has come from the Westerlands, Prince Trystane and Lady Myrcella’s host arrived at the Golden Tooth. They will be marching on Casterly Rock soon enough. Though Lady Myrcella writes that there are Ironborn spread out along the coast, so they might very well go on a sweeping motion throughout the coastal areas first.”

“A smart plan and it would prevent the Ironborn from gaining reinforcements.” Viserys said simply.

“Indeed, and it will show the Westerlords that Trystane means business.” The King said. “Showing that he is not completely in thrall to his wife.”

Rhaenys snorted. “I do not think it would be a bad thing if he was.”

Viserys looked at his niece and sighed. “Aye, they might approve more but Myrcella is a woman not a man, she cannot command in battle. She is not you, Rhaenys. She does not have a dragon.”

“Though that’s not for lack of trying.” The King quipped looking at Varys.

The eunuch spoke then. “My sources found some mad man named Marwyn trying to bring dragons here. It seems he wanted to bring three dragon eggs to King’s Landing to give to the Baratheons to try and get them to hatch for them.”

Viserys snorted. “As if they would have hatched.”

“I would not be so sure Your Royal Highness. The Baratheons have dragon blood through the female line, and nobody is quite sure what is required to hatch dragon eggs.” The eunuch responded.

Viserys did not answer that as he did not want to think about what it would mean if the Baratheons had hatched dragons. Instead he turned his attention to another important matter. “Have you considered the suggestion I put before you, Sire?”

“I have.” The King responded. “I can see what you mean, but I must also point out that the Martells were the only ones who continued supporting us long after everyone else had given up and thrown in with the usurper. It would be a slap in the face if I did not at least honour them.”

Viserys sighed. “Your Majesty you are Princess Elia’s son, you are the honour that they need. They need nothing else. If anything I will marry Princess Arianne and sort that out. But you would be wasted on them.”

“His Royal Highness is right Sire; you must marry Lady Margaery to secure the Tyrells.” Varys said. “We all know that they might switch at the drop of a hat should a better offer come along.”

The King said nothing for a moment and then said. “The problem with the Tyrells is that they were so closely aligned with the Baratheons and then the moment they learned Joffrey Baratheon was dead, they switched sides. Though the girl is not with child which is surprising given how long she was married to the Baratheon boy. How do I know that they won’t just murder me if I get the girl with child?”

“The fact that myself and Rhaenys would be the regents for the child in that instance.” Viserys responded. “House law and the law of the kingdom states a member of the family must be regent in that instant. It came in after Aegon III’s regency.”

“And what about Rhaenys and yourself? I do not feel comfortable marrying either of you to a Tyrell either.” The King responded.

“Well, I can marry Arianne Martell, if needs must.” Viserys said.

“And I can marry Gendry Baratheon or Renly Baratheon, or perhaps even Robert Arryn.” Rhaenys said.

“None of those options seem appropriate.” The King responded. “Perhaps Jon Connington.”

Viserys nearly choked when he heard that, he was about to respond when Rhaenys said. “I won’t marry him unless you make him Lord Paramount of the Stormlands and give him Storm’s End. I won’t be sitting in Griffin’s Roost.”

The King looked shocked by this and eventually sighed. “I suppose we will have to consider this another time.”

Viserys turned to the eunuch. “Have you found Tommen Baratheon yet?”

“I have not, Your Royal Highness. He evades my men and our spies. I believe the people might be helping him.” the eunuch said.

“Why?” Viserys asked.

“He is young, handsome and popular. He will win people over.” The eunuch said.

“Then perhaps we need a more active searching method?” Viserys mused out loud.

“Perhaps.” The eunuch said.

Chapter Text

Chapter 103: Lion and Snake

 

“It has been relatively easy retaking the forts along the coast from the Ironborn, because they are not natural fighters. They are simply raiders and reavers who balk the moment it comes to using tactics.” Myrcella said, looking at the lords present before her. Trystane was sat at her side, and though he commanded this army, it was she who did most of the tactical thinking. “However, when it comes to Casterly Rock, we cannot rely on the same tactics as we had done before. There is a big fat wall preventing us from doing so, and the city of Lannisport in between. You can be assured that should we try something as we did in retaking Banefort, the people of Lannisport would be put to the sword. I have no desire to do that to my people.”

“Then what would you suggest, my lady?” Ser Harys Swyft asked. The man had a weak chin and was more of a follower than a man, but he was useful.

“I would recommend that we stand our ground and begin making proper preparations. I know of two ways with which to get into the Rock, and one of them was used by Theon Greyjoy, therefore he will likely be guarding it.” Myrcella said. Thankful now that she and her brothers had been wild and explored things when they were children.

“And what makes you think he would not have found this other entrance? Given how easily he turned the garrison?” Prince Oberyn asked.

“The fact that unlike the entrance he used, this entrance was something that only members of the family knew about. And even then that was reduced to members who Lord Tywin knew very well and were immediate family.” Myrcella answered. “Think what you want about my grandfather, Prince Oberyn, but he was a smart man who knew how to plan for all eventualities.” She knew the man had murdered her grandfather and she planned on having him killed, not for her grandfather, but for the dishonour he had brought through his treachery.

“Very well, let us say that we pursue the plan using this secret entrance, what is there to say we are not found before we can enter the Rock and disarm the Ironborn? I do not think Theon Greyjoy will be so willing to give up on everything he has brought and worked hard for.” Prince Oberyn said.

“He has been willing to let Banefort and other coastal areas fall to our control, there is nothing suggesting he won’t do the same here.” Lord Westerling said. The man looked constantly worried, and often asked about his wife and youngest daughter, though Myrcella did not know why.

“The Rock is not those other places. It is the pinnacle of power in the Westerlands. For his title to mean anything, he would need to hold it.” Prince Oberyn said simply.

Myrcella looked at the man, she disliked Prince Oberyn immensely, and only tolerated him for Trystane’s sake, but she knew he was right. On this at least. “Indeed, so what would you suggest then?”

“We need a distraction. Something that will play on Theon Greyjoy’s pride. He is someone who left the north and the Iron Islands to hit the Westerlands. He has pride and hubris in abundance. We need something that will come and provoke him out of the Rock. Once he is on the field of battle, then we can send men into retake the Rock.” Prince Oberyn said.

“Whatever is used to draw him out, it cannot be just anything. The man did not even leave when we tortured his uncle.” Lord Brax said, sounding somewhat fearful.

Myrcella thought on this and then remembered something Sansa had said to her long ago. “He is desperate for approval, from his family. So far he has gotten it from his uncles and his sister, but not form his mother or father. His father is dead, and his mother is on Pyke, but we can play on that insecurity. We need someone or something to call him out for never winning a battle on land. His brothers did, I remember that.” Myrcella said, remembering the stories her uncles had told her about Rodrik and Maron Greyjoy and their experience during the Greyjoy Rebellion.

“Then it must be you.” Trystane said then.

“Yes, my nephew is right.” Prince Oberyn said.

Myrcella looked at her husband with a raised eyebrow and he simply said. “He will not like being taunted by a woman. Especially one as beautiful as you.”

Myrcella felt a kick then, as if her babe was agreeing with her husband. She sighed. “Very well, I will do it.”

Her husband kissed her and whispered. “Do not worry, we will kill him if he tries anything.”

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 104: Return Of The Ned

 

It felt good to be back in Winterfell. The warmth of the castle made him feel better, and having his wife pressed against him made him feel all the better as well, with his children there looking at him, he felt whole. He had arrived at White Harbour two weeks ago, and had been greeted by a surprised and confused Wyman Manderly. The man had treated with him and then  sent him on his way. And then he had arrived in Winterfell. He could still remember the shriek from the girls when they’d seen him. Lady and Nymeria had all but bounded up and down, nearly frightening his horse.

And now here he was, back in Winterfell. Ned looked at his family, and then focused on Robb whose expression he couldn’t quite read. “I know you are all wondering where I have been and how I got out alive, when I was supposed to be dead.”

“Yes.” Robb said simply.

“Well, I might as well begin from the start.” Ned said. He cleared his throat and then began. “When I was in King’s Landing, I had heard rumours about Robert and things he had done before his marriage to Cersei Lannister. I was not sure what to make of them. Then I learned that Jon Arryn and had gone and visited a bastard in the Street of Steel, who was said to look like Robert. I had to go and see for myself. And I did. I found Gendry. I asked him questions and then I found letters, written in Jon Arryn’s hand which proved the rumours true. Gendry was a Baratheon by blood and he was Robert’s legitimate son. Which made him the King.” Here Ned sighed, and shook his head. “I was terrified that should Cersei or even Tywin Lannister find out about this, they would do as they had done…” he paused then corrected himself. “As I had believed they had done to Princess Elia and her children, and I did not want that for the boy. So, I made preparations for him to leave the city. However, somehow what I was preparing to do got to the King. As I had not told him about his brother’s existence and I had begun making plans about someone who could have been considered a threat to his throne, I had committed treason.” Ned paused there and Robb sighed.

“So, the letters were true then.”

“Yes, I know the King wrote several letters, and I wrote one to you as well. Did you not get it?” Ned asked.

“No, I never got anything from you, the only thing I got from King’s Landing were letters saying you had been arrested and then one saying you had been executed.” Robb said.

That confirmed one suspicion Ned had. He continued. “I was not executed as you can see, instead I was placed on a ship meant to take me to the Wall and to the Night’s Watch. However, when we were on the way to the Wall we were attacked by men who flew Lannister banners, but really they flew Targaryen banners.”

“The Targaryens captured you?” Robb asked.

“Let your father continue, Robb.” Catelyn said, chiding their eldest.

“Sorry, father.” Robb replied.

Ned smiled and continued. “Yes, the Targaryens captured me. I woke up in the Archon of Tyrosh’s manse. I learned there and then that the Archon was a distant cousin of King Aerys and had taken me for his own purposes.”

“Jon went to Tyrosh for a mission for the King, did he not?” Robb asked.

“Yes.” Ned said, feeling something in his gut tighten at those words, knowing he had to tell them and fearing their reaction.

“What did the Archon want from you?” Sansa asked.

“He wanted to me to stay with him, or rather he kept me with him and prevented me from leaving because he wanted Joffrey Baratheon dead and for Aegon Targaryen to return to the throne. I think he and Varys had been working together for a great many years. He knew that if I returned before Aegon had gotten you in an alliance, Robb, that things would get complicated.” Ned said. Knowing that was only half true.

His son merely looked at him and whispered. “So, the rebellion I fought, the crowning, all of that was based on a lie?” Ned could see something shifting in his son and he wanted to help him but he did not know how. “I…I…hated Joffrey for the longest time, because of what he had done to you. I didn’t believe Sansa when she said that he was nice and had treated her fairly. I thought him a monster. And it was all a lie.” Robb lowered his head and in a voice that sounded as if he was about to break whispered. “He was my friend.”

Ned’s heart broke then for his son and for his daughter and for his entire family, if he had just kept his thoughts to himself, none of this would have happened and they would not now be staring at some sort of abyss. “I am sorry.” Ned said looking at his family then. “I failed you as a father and a husband, I know I did. I will try for the rest of my days to make it up to you.” He knew he had to tell them about Jon but he didn’t know how.

It was Arya who provided him with the way he needed to talk about Jon. “What about Jon? He was in Tyrosh when you were there, where did he go?”

“He went to Meereen.” Ned said.

“Why Meereen? What’s there?” Arya asked.

Ned sighed, and looked at Catelyn and said. “His aunt. I have to tell you about Jon completely now, for the good of the family.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 105: Women’s Bait

 

“She thinks she can bait me into coming out and fighting her army. Or rather the army her husband has convinced to fight for her.” Theon said, trying hard not to suppress a laugh. “Do they truly think I am that stupid that I would give up the advantage of being in Casterly Rock and waiting for them to storm it and burn themselves trying?”

Asha responded to that. “No, but they do think that you will give into the pressure of your lords who will not take kindly to some woman mocking their King.”

“My lords are idiots.” Theon said. “Surely even you realise that we are secure here, uncle?” Directing that last point to his uncle Victarion.

“We are, but you cannot let that get in the way of defending the family pride.” Victarion retorted.

Theon looked at his uncle and sighed. “You want me to leave the Rock to fight an army that is bigger than mine and knows this land better than mine, to simply sate the family pride?”

“Yes.” His uncle said. “Otherwise you are not fit to wear the crown.”

Theon bristled. “I have taken the Rock, I have taken Fair Isle, and I have instilled the seeds of rebellion in the common man of the Westerlands. Something my father never achieved. I have more than earned that right.”

“You lost Banefort, the Crag, Aeron’s head sits on a spike outside these walls. You are nothing.” Victarion snarled.

Theon laughed then. “Uncle, you are mad. Quite clearly, stupidity runs in the family. I leave the Rock, our army will be slaughtered. The reforms I want will not happen if half my army is dead. No.”

“Then you will remain here in the Rock, like a coward, allowing a woman to taunt you?” Victarion demanded.

“If it means that I remain alive, and that my people remain alive? Then yes, yes I will.” Theon said. His uncle snorted, and so Theon said. “By all means you are welcome to leave and fight the Lannister army if you want. I will not mourn you.”

His uncle looked at him and said. “You are a disgrace to the family.” He spat and then turned and left.

Once he was gone, Asha spoke. “You know you’ve just alienated one of the biggest supporters of your reign.”

Theon shrugged. “And? What of it? If he goes out there, he will die and there will be one less bastion of the old order alive.”

“Why are you doing this?” Asha asked. “I can understand not moving when Uncle Aeron was killed, but Victarion? He is one of your greatest fighters. If he dies, then others will lose heart.”

“I am doing this because he has no respect. He thinks the only way for us to function is to constantly keep raiding. We cannot do that forever. We need the gold here, and the other resources for my reforms.” Theon said.

“What reforms? You keep banging on about reforms, brother, but all you’ve done since you’ve been here is drink and fuck half the Lannister women.” Asha said.

“I’ve done more than just that.” Theon said. He pulled out various papers and put them on the table before them.

“What’s this?” His sister asked.

“These, dearest sister are my reforms.” Theon said pointing to each document in turn. “With the gold and the supplies we’ve taken from here and the North, we shall build the fastest ships this world has ever seen. These ships will enable us to both trade and raid and fight. We shall dominate the waves with these ships. All I need now is to be able to return to the Islands to enable our shipwrights to build them.”

“You would leave the Rock?” Asha asked.

“Yes, I’ve had my fun. It is time I did some ruling.” Theon said.

“Where will you go?” Asha asked.

“To Fair Isle first, where I shall leave you, and then onto the Arbor and the Shield Islands. They have more of the material I need.” Theon said.

“You will need me for that.” Asha said.

“No. You must oversee the construction of the initial ships. Better to do that at Fair Isle than elsewhere.” Theon replied.

“And Uncle Victarion?” Asha asked.

Just as Theon was about to respond, the door opened and a maester entered. “Sire, Lord Victarion has left with fifty men. He said he would not be part of treachery.”

“Has he gone to fight the Lannister army?” Theon asked.

“Yes, Sire.” The maester responded.

Theon turned to his sister and said. “Uncle Victarion has made his choice and I have made mine. Prepare the ships.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 106: Council Man

 

“The Iron Bank has agreed to write off the debt that the usurper and his get had ignored. Furthermore, the Archon of Tyrosh has agreed that he shall continue paying ten percent of his annual yields to the crown.” Master of Coin Ser Harry Strickland said. The man was a good negotiator, Viserys would give him that, even if he did not completely trust him.

“So, where does this leave us in terms of funds?” The King asked.

“We are twenty percent richer than we were when Your Majesty ascended the throne. Of course we must be careful now with the taxation, otherwise we might find ourselves facing another rebellion.” Strickland said.

“Indeed. The question is how do we manage the costs, when so much needs to be fixed?” The King asked.

Viserys spoke then. “Winter is already here, snows settled in the Riverlands and in the Crownlands. We do not need to think about the repairs that need to be done now. All we must think about is survival. The lords of the realm will appreciate that.”

The King sighed. “You are right of course, Viserys, but a part of me does not think that it is right. The Baratheons and their egos brought so much destruction to Westeros, we must fix something.” The King looked at Connington then and said. “Lord Hand, what word from the Stormlands?”

The Hand of the King had ventured to the Stormlands not only to secure his own estates but also to confirm that Renly Baratheon was behaving appropriately and not hiding Cersei Lannister or her son. “Things are well, my King. The people are simply happy to be at rest now. Renly Baratheon has said that he will keep an eye out for Cersei Lannister, and he also says that he has not seen his nephew at all. I am inclined to believe him. I had our spies look through the castle from top to bottom, they found nothing.”

“And you are sure Renly Baratheon is not lying?” The King asked.

“As sure as I can be, Sire.” The hand replied.

The King seemed satisfied with this, for he then turned to the eunuch and asked. “And what of you, master of whispers? What have your whispers brought up?”

“Well as Your Majesty knows, Eddard Stark returned to Winterfell, and is on his way to King’s Landing, but he is coming with a letter written by his son as well. It seems that they wish to seek justice for the lies that brought Stark’s son to war.” Varys said.

“What lies?” the King asked.

“Something to do with letters that were never sent.” The eunuch said. There was a pause and then the thing said. “If I might Sire, I think the man in the black cells going by the name of Petyr Baelish might be useful to question.”

“Why?” The King asked.

“He was a close associate of Joffrey Baratheon and was also a close associate with Eddard Stark. He also had reason to see Stark and Baratheon and Lannister at war, given his love for Lord Eddard’s wife.” Varys said.

“Is Lord Eddard, a lord then?” Viserys asked, something didn’t sit right with him about that.

“Well, his son wrote to me saying that his father had not committed wrong deliberately, and it is true. King Aerys was the one who started the war that toppled our family.” The King said.

Viserys went to protest, but a look from Ser Richard who was there as an advisor stopped him. He instead said. “Very well.”

“I shall question the man himself, when the time comes.” The King said.

Connington decided to change the topic then. “Has Your Majesty thought on the betrothals that had been suggested?”

“I have, yes.” The King said. There was a brief pause and then. “I shall marry Margaery Tyrell, to ensure that her family remain loyal, and to ensure that she remains in our sights. That girl is far too clever. Viserys, you shall marry Valena Toland as a reward to her mother for her loyalty through all of this struggle.”

“What of Rhaenys?” Viserys asked.

“I am not sure where she should marry. If she had no dragon then I would feel comfortable suggesting her as a marriage to someone who had bent the knee after we landed. But she has a dragon, therefore, suggesting that she must be married to someone who can be brought to court and is loyal.” The King said.

Viserys knew Rhaenys would not be happy with him, but he decided to say this. “Why not propose a marriage with Lucas Blackwood? The two of them got on well when the lad was here, and he is a second son. Therefore, he can be brought to court and kept here. Furthermore, Blackwood has a good head on his shoulders. And of course you can always issue a proclamation stating that their children will bear the Targaryen name.”

“His Royal Highness is right, Sire. Blackwood is the best option.” Strickland said.

“My lord hand, what do you think?” the King asked.

There was a brief pause and then Connington said. “I think with the Martells in the Rock, and with peace coming generally to the realm, that His Royal Highness is right. Blackwood makes the most sense.”

“Then it is decided. She shall marry Lucas Blackwood.” The King decided.

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 107: Lady Rose

 

The King was handsome and he seemed kind, but Margaery was wary. She knew what her role was to be in all of this, her father had told her as much. Still she resented it a little, being treated like little more than chattel. She pushed that thought to one side as they walked through the gardens, as she had done once before with her previous husband. Loras was walking behind them in his Kingsguard white.

“So, my lady, I know that this is something that you perhaps did not want to do or have to go through again, so I appreciate this.” The King said. “I wanted to talk to you about what you can expect from me as a husband.”  Margaery said nothing, she knew her lessons. “I know that we do not know one another, we do not even like one another perhaps, but I do hope that we can get to know one another over time. I do promise to be a good husband to you and to listen to you. So, if I might ask, why are you doing this?”

The question surprised her. “I am not sure I understand what you mean, Your Majesty.”

“I mean why are you agreeing to marry me? You were a Queen once before, to a man who by all accounts you seemed very fond of. So, why are you agreeing to marry the man who replaced him?” the King asked.

It was not the King I was fond of. She thought to herself, but she did not say that out loud. Tommen was gone, most likely dead somewhere. Instead she said. “Truthfully, I was not given a choice.” It was true, her father had simply told her what was to happen and expected her to agree.

“Lord Tyrell did not give you, his favourite daughter a chance to decide whether you wished to marry me or not?” The King asked sounding surprised.

Margaery snorted. “I might be his favourite daughter, but I am still his daughter. TO do with as he pleases.”

She heard Loras cough slightly behind her, but she ignored him. She was going to be truthful with her future husband. “Do you wish to marry me?” The King asked. And in that moment, he sounded very much like a little boy.

Margaery hesitated, she could feel Loras looking at her with intensity behind her. She took a moment and then said. “I do.”

“Why?” the King asked.

She looked at the King and thought about what sort of man he was, the way he held himself, and his certain level of arrogance and she said. “Because what lady would not want to be married to a King like you?”

The King grinned. “Ah, I see that famous Tyrell flattery at work. Very well.” They continued walking in silence after that brief exchange.

Margaery thought to herself about everything that had happened since she had come to King’s Landing. She had never fallen pregnant with Joffrey’s child because she suspected he was infertile, something about his extreme levels of manliness making it harder for him to have fertile seed, she’d heard from Maester Eradys. She was not sure, maybe he had been rendered infertile by some of his other excursions. And now here she was, about to marry another King, and this one who seemed to have no problem siring children, if the women about court whose bellies were swelling were any indication.

As if he had read her mind, the King said. “I want you to know that none of those women with child you see about the court are a result of any dalliances on my part.”

“Really?” Margaery found herself asking before she could help herself.

The King smiled. “Yes, really. I know how to be discreet.” There was some sort of subtle indication or hint there and Margaery did not know what to make of it.

All she said was. “It is your right as a man to take a mistress, Your Majesty.”

“Pah, I am not a degenerate. Whatever fun I might have had before stopped the moment I agreed to marry you, my lady. I intend to remain truthful to our vows.” The King said.

She heard some remnant of a truth from the past in his words and so she said. “I am grateful, Your Majesty.”

They continued walking for a time and then another member of the Kingsguard, this time Ser Rolly Duckfield appeared and the King said. “Ser Loras shall see you back to your chambers.”

Margaery dipped into a curtsy as the King walked away. She then turned and walked with her brother. Loras sighed. “This is going to be difficult, isn’t it?”

“What do you mean?” Margaery asked.

“I don’t know, but I know it’s going to be difficult.” Her brother said. They got to her chambers and Loras said. “He’s not Tommen, but he is a good man.” With that he nodded and left, Margaery opened the door and stopped turned, and for a brief moment she could’ve sworn she saw a hooded figure standing in the shadows. She blinked and the figure was gone.

Chapter Text

Chapter 108: Kneeling Wolf

 

Back in King’s Landing, this time for one thing and one thing only. Hopefully after this he would never need to set foot in this damned city ever again. He knelt before the throne and waited for the King to speak. Ned didn’t look up but he knew that the entirety of the court was looking at him. A lesser man would most definitely have been intimidated, but Ned was not other men. Instead he waited and then the King spoke.

“Why are you here, Eddard Stark?”

“I have come to pledge my allegiance, Sire.” Ned said. It felt strange saying that to a Targaryen given his history with the family.

“You have?” the King asked.

“I have, Sire.” Ned said. He took a moment and then continued. “I swear before the gods both old and new, and before Ice and Fire that I and my family shall serve you and yours loyally from this day till our last.”

There was a moment of silence then the King said. “Very well, we confirm you as Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North.” There was silence again, then the sound of footsteps, before Ned dared look up and saw the King standing before him. “Walk with me.” The King commanded. Ned slowly got up, and the King began walking, Ned walked slightly behind him, the Kingsguard behind them. They walked out of the throne room, through the passageways Ned had walked once before when he had been Hand. “This must seem very odd to you.” The King said.

“Sire?” Ned asked.

“Being back here again, once you were here as Hand of the King, now you are just another lord. And the last Targaryen King who was here was my grandsire. A mad man.” the King said.

“Sire…” Ned began unsure what he was going to say to that.

“You do not need to try and deny it, Stark. I know that this must be very difficult for you. I have no memory of my grandsire, so I do not much care. But Prince Viserys does, and he wanted you slain.” The King said.

“I do not blame him. To lose a father is a terrible thing.” Ned said. He had seen Prince Viserys briefly whilst he had been shown to the throne room, the man looked exactly how Prince Rhaegar had looked that fateful day on the Trident.

“Indeed.” The King said. “There has been far too much bad blood between our two families, those responsible for it are dead now. The time has come for us to put all of that behind us and restore the partnership that existed between the throne and House Stark in the days gone by.”

“I agree, Sire.” Ned said.

“There is just one thing I wish to talk to you before we can proceed with that though.” The King said.

“Sire?” Ned asked.

“Do you think my brother will try and claim the throne?” The King asked.

Ned felt something in his gut sink. How did the King know about Jon? The eunuch, it must be the eunuch. He remembered how his own family had reacted to the truth about Jon’s parentage. The scars were still healing. “Well?” the King pressed.

“I….I do not think so, Sire.” Ned said as truthfully as he could. He did not know what Jon would be like when he returned, if he returned.

“Very well.” The King said. The man looked at him. “Oh, do not worry the eunuch does not know about Jon Snow, or rather Jon Targaryen, he never really paid much attention to that side of my father’s attentions.” For some reason Ned thought that was a lie. “However, I made sure to do some research when I came back to King’s Landing. I found old letters between the two of them. My father and your sister, that is. And I did some reading. They were quite in love it would seem. At least as in love as an idiot as my father was, could be.”

Ned did not know what to say so he kept quiet. Instead the King kept talking. “You see there’s a lot of other business that I need to sort through. But I wish to have my brother back in King’s Landing and my aunt as well. They have three dragons, and so it is only right that they return and sit at our side.”

“Indeed.” Ned replied not entirely sure what to say.

“However, I must ask, should Jon decide not to bend the knee, who will you side with?” the King asked.

Ned found himself stuck. He knew an honest answer would be needed here, but he did not know. “I swore an oath of allegiance to you, Sire.” He said instead.

Chapter Text

Chapter 109: Young Stag

 

“The more Connington raises the tax on us, the harder it gets to see how we will last through this winter. I’m telling you now Renly, I don’t think I can stand here and keep demanding my tenants pay their rent when I know it will kill them.” Lord Guy Morrigen said.

“And what do you propose we do instead Guy?” Lord Estermont asked. “We stop paying our taxes, the King will come on his dragon and reduce all to ash. Or he’ll demand that Renly here ride out and put us to the sword as a means of testing his loyalty.”

“Then I say we petition for a reduction in rates.” Guy said. “I’ve got friends at court, you know we’re one of the only regions paying thirty-five percent tax? The others are all paying thirty. Apart from the north, and they’re getting food shipments from the Reach.”

Estermont snorted. “You know we would’ve got those shipments as well had you not insulted Connington.”

Renly sighed. “Gentlemen, there is no point arguing over what could have and should have been. The past is the past.” He felt the wound on his back twitch at those words. His treatment at the hands of Stannis’ men was a reminder of that. “I agree, we are paying far too much tax, and it is unsustainable. I have tried to convince Lord Connington to lower the amount, but he insists this the amount that needs paying. He has forgotten that he has gotten food and wealth from those lords who died or were wiped out during the last war.” Morrigen looked as if he were about to say something so Renly continued. “However, we cannot justify some petulant display of rebellion. We must find a way to pay the tax now.”

“Even if it means our people die? Winter has already lasted for eight months. The Citadel do not know how long it is going to last. How else are we to get this money?” Morrigen asked.

Renly sighed. “I have a few ideas.” He had spent most of the past three weeks staying up late planning and thinking this through.

“I am more than happy to hear them.” Morrigen said.

“First of all, we do not need to keep demanding that our tenants pay the rent they owe us. Such a thing is counter productive. Instead, we have stores of coal and wood here, that the King will need. We use that as our payment for the taxation.” Renly said. He saw that Morrigen was about to protest and so he continued. “I know that that might require digging deep, but I already have about sixty tonnes worth of coal in the stores here. It was one of the few good things my brother did before he died. Therefore, I shall give thirty tonnes to the throne, and I shall ask that the rest of you give five tonnes each.”

“I can do that.” Morrigen said.

“As can I.” Beric Dondarrion said. The man’s expression did not show the pain Renly knew he was in.

“What About me? I have no coal to give.” Estermont said.

Renly smiled at his cousin. “I am glad you asked. Now, you do not have coal, this is true. But you have gems. And those gems alongside the sapphires on Tarth can be used to pay your share of the taxation. I know the members of the King’s council. Some are former sellswords, they will be desperate for the riches we can provide them.”

Morrigen looked at him and asked. “Are you sure that will be enough?”

“I am confident that it will be. The crown does not want nor does it need one of its realms falling into debt.” Renly said.

“And what if Connington says that it is not enough?” Morrigen asked. “We both know he is perfectly capable of saying that.”

Renly sighed. He knew Morrigen was not being deliberately difficult and that this was a very real possibility. “Then we go over his head, to the King.”

“And do you think the King will listen?” Morrigen asked.

“He will if he has any sense in his brain.” Renly said.

“Very well.” Morrigen said.

Renly knew that things had to change soon, otherwise the realm would be at war again. Connington’s stubbornness would bring it about rather than anything that the King had himself done.

Chapter Text

Chapter 110: What Am I?

 

“Why am I here?” Gendry demanded, barely able to keep his eyes open, due to the late hour. He’d been dragged out of bed and a comfortable sleep for something he didn’t quite understand. It was bloody cold as well.

“Because we need to talk with you.” Lord Yohn Royce said. His voice commanding, enough to force Gendry to look at him.

“What about? And could it not wait until morning?” He demanded.

“Taxation and the stability of the realm cannot wait.” Yohn responded.

“What?” Gendry asked unsure of what this had to do with him.

Jasper spoke then. “Gendry, you’re the one person amongst us all who has a good relationship with the King and his heir Prince Viserys.” There was a pause and then he continued. “The taxation rate for us right now is currently too high and with winter here we are suffering and struggling to manage this balance. The mountain clans have simply gotten more violent as well.”

“And you want me to do what?” Gendry asked.

“We want you to listen to our concerns and then head south and present them to the King.” Yohn Royce said.

Gendry laughed. “And how am I supposed to do that? Given that it is winter as you have noted, and the fact that Gulltown’s port is not so solid as to bring a proper ship through.”

Lord Templeton spoke then. “There is one ship ready and waiting for you to get to King’s Landing, Ser Gendry. And it is chartered by my cousin, I can assure you it will get you there.”

Gendry looked at the man and then at his uncle, and saw that his uncle looked intently at him. Gendry sighed. “Very well, what do you want me to present to him?” He knew the King vaguely, they had been drinking friends during the campaign and for a brief period after the coronation.

“Well, firstly that the taxation rate we face right now is far too much given the winter season.” Lord Yohn said immediately. “We understand that money is needed to repair the land, but in the middle of winter? It is insane to consider this a practical method of funding the land. We know that when spring comes the snow will clear, but we also know that right now the people are dying.”

“He will simply reply that this is a burden that must be paid.” Gendry said. “You are still able to pass the payment to the crown’s collectors.”

“And yet the last collector who tried to come here died from frostbite the minute he landed in Gulltown. This is not a sustainable method.” Yohn Royce replied.

“So, what are you suggesting then?” Gendry asked. “That you be allowed not to stall the payment of taxation?” Such a thing sounded horrific to him.

“Not a complete suspension no. But rather than risk sending that money all the way to King’s Landing in the dangerous winter months, we would keep it here in the Gates of the Moon where it can be protected. Then when spring comes it will be sent.” Yohn Royce said.

“The King will ask why I didn’t just bring all the payments with me.” Gendry said simply.

Royce seemed to ignore this and instead said. “Secondly, we wish to present a demand for the trial and execution of Petyr Baelish who we know resides in the black cells of King’s Landing.”

“Why?” Gendry asked. He had heard of this Petyr Baelish only once, a long time ago during the campaign and nothing since.

Yohn Royce pulled out a series of documents and placed them on the table before him. “There are documents right before you proving that he has taken bribes, paid bribes, and swindled money from the treasury of the crown and from the people of the Vale. All of which are crimes punishable by death.”

“Why are you presenting this information now? Why not present it when you first bent the knee?” Gendry asked.

“Because this is the information that we have just about managed to gather, now.” Yohn said.

Gendry looked at it and said. “Say I take this with me, say I do all of this, what is the King going to get out of it?” What he really wanted to ask was, what am I going to get out of it, but he still remembered that he was a bastard, and so shouldn’t ask something so above my station.

“He will get a kingdom that is loyal until the end.” Yohn Royce said.

“And you will get the Vale.” Lord Corbray said.

“What?” Gendry asked.

“Robert Arryn is dying; you are his heir. Do this, and we will make sure you get the Vale.” Lady Waynwood said.

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 111: A Mother’s Worry

 

To be in exile, to be away from King’s Landing, to be away from her daughter and to have one son dead, was something Cersei had never thought she would have to bear when she had married Robert Baratheon. And yet that was her fate. Joffrey was dead, his head apparently stood on a spike on traitor’s gate, Myrcella was safely in the Rock with her snake of a husband, she had given birth as well it seemed without her mother there. Tommen was the only child she had with her, and she sensed he was more broken and damaged than any of them. Jaime was his Lord Commander, and Ser Balon was there with him, but Ser Arys was with Myrcella, and Ser Loras had betrayed them to fight for the dragon King.

Her son interrupted her thoughts. “Margaery married the Dragon King.” Her son said, he sounded torn between anger and betrayal.

“It was something that was always going to happen. Her father is far too ambitious for his own good.” Cersei said. Personally, she thought the Tyrell girl was also too ambitious but she knew saying that would not help her with her son. Things between them were just starting to heal.

“I know.” Tommen said. “But it is something else to know it would happen and to see it happen.”

Cersei raised an eyebrow. “You were there at the wedding? What if you had been seen?” This was something that terrified her about her son. He had increasingly become more reckless over time and she wondered if he even wanted to remain alive.

Her son snorted. “All those people think I’m dead. They wouldn’t notice some person with a hood on their head during the winter. I witness the wedding. Gendry Waters and Eddard Stark were both there. And Edmure Tully as well.” There was something in Tommen’s voice when he said their names that made Cersei ask.

“Who else was there?” She knew her son had seen Stark as an uncle, somewhat, that he would’ve liked to have been friends with the Stark children had war not broken out. She would never forgive Eddard Stark for what he had done.

“Uncle Renly.” Tommen said. “He was there and he looked happy, mooning over Ser Loras.”

There was bitterness in her son’s voice and she knew she had to speak quickly. She could not afford having her son bitter at his only remaining Baratheon uncle. “You know that he had to be there. The dragon King commanded it of him. Had he not gone he would be dead.”

She looked at Jaime then who simply said. “And he’s always been in love with Ser Loras.”

She glowered at her brother, but before she could say anything Tommen spoke. “I know that. And I know it’s stupid to feel like this when everything has been obvious for some time now. But still, I cannot help it. I feel as if everything I knew to be true has been turned out to be a lie. And that those who were supposed to be our closest allies are nothing more than traitors and wallflowers who have turned their eye away when it suits them.”

Cersei sighed. “I know, sweetling, but you have to think about this. Myrcella is safe in the Rock now, and she has made quite clear she does not respect the dragons whatsoever. You must also remember that the dragons have dragons and that therefore things are going to be difficult for some time. We cannot move directly into being without something going wrong.” She took his hand in hers then. “And I would rather you were alive then you ended up dead.”

“So, are you saying that you would rather we bent the knee to the people responsible for Joffrey’s death than trying to get justice for it?” Tommen demanded.

“How are we to get justice for it when they have something we do not?” Cersei asked of her son.

Her son looked at her and said. “Well one way is to finally find that dragon that is supposed to be lurking around here.”

“What dragon?” Cersei asked she did not like where this was going.

“A dragon the colour of mud, named Sheepstealer. Was sighted once or twice flying over the Stormlands.” Tommen said.

“Tommen…” she began.

Chapter Text

Chapter 112: Another Day

 

“I still don’t quite understand how or why we were let go.” Alleras said. She had spent so long as Alleras that thinking of herself as anything other than that was too much for her to handle. Even though she now no longer thought of herself as he.

“Because the King is your cousin and he knew that keeping you imprisoned is tantamount to slapping Dorne in the face.” Archmaester Marwyn said.

“How long have you known?” She asked.

“Long enough.” Marwyn replied.

“Why did you not say anything before?” Sarella asked. She had to get used to saying her own name again.

“Because there was no need to. And frankly I was quite impressed with your bravery in coming to the Citadel. Most of those old fools there don’t realise what a girl looks like despite being in Oldtown their entire lives.” Marwyn said.

“But why did you want to bring eggs to the Baratheons?” Sarella asked. “And why did you let yourself be captured with those eggs?” She had thought the Archmaester would’ve had a seizure when they were captured, until he was told Joffrey Baratheon was dead.

Marwyn sighed. “To tell you why I need to tell you the whole story.”

Sarella gestured at the open plains around them. “We have time. More than enough time.”

Marwyn laughed. “True enough.” There was a pause then the man continued. “When he was a little child, Jaehaerys the old King decided to send his youngest surviving son to the Citadel. The boy’s name was Vaegon and he was sent there because his father and mother did not think he would survive married to either of his sisters. He was sent there and he disappeared from view for many years, until he was called back by his father for advice on what to do after Baelon Targaryen, the Spring Prince had died. You know what Vaegon advised his father to do so I won’t repeat that. But what is not known is how in the years in between, the citadel had been secretly observing him and making notes.”

There was something in the Archmaester’s voice that made Sarella ask. “What sort of notes?”

“They were monitoring how often he woke with a start, for he had dragon dreams. They were observing how often he bled, and whether he reacted badly to certain tonics.” Marwyn responded. “Indeed there are some who believe they were responsible for the injuries he suffered.”

“Why? Why were they so interested in him?” Sarella asked.

“Because he was the first Targaryen they could see in detail. You see the Targaryens were different to others and they wanted to know how they were different.” Marwyn said. “Vaegon provided them with many clues and some answers but they needed more. When King Daeron had to figure out what to do with his many grandchildren, Grand Maester Mellendore who was a great-great-great grandchild of the man who had tutored Vaegon, suggested that Aemon Targaryen be sent to the Citadel. He then wrote to his friends at the citadel to say that their next test subject was coming.”

“They tested him as well?!” Sarella asked horrified.

“Yes.” Marwyn said. “They found more results. I was trying to find out what those were before we left, but I could not. It seems the Citadel were clever in one aspect they kept those things hidden and then before the boy could become a man and tell his father or brother what had been done to him, they sent him to the wall.”

“But I thought he only joined the wall when his brother became King?” Sarella asked.

“He did. But before that they changed things around in his head.” Marwyn said.

“How?” Sarella asked. “Surely they could not make him forget about what they had done to him?”

“They took away his egg.” Marwyn said.

“I don’t understand.” She answered truthfully.

“The eggs are one of the ways of keeping the Targaryen uniqueness, Orys Baratheon’s children were given eggs, but none of them hatched. The Targaryens were all given eggs, and most of them did not hatch after the dance because of something or the other. But they were essential in ensuring the Targaryens did not lose their footing. They were also essential in ensuring stability.” Marwyn said.

“Stability?” Sarella asked.

“As long as the Targaryens had their eggs, they had a reason to keep fighting and going on. Maester Aemon lost his egg when he joined the citadel and lost that memory as a result. Aerys Targaryen lost his egg during the reign of his grandfather, after a fall and lost that memory as a result.” Marwyn said.

“Are you saying Aerys became mad because of that?” Sarella asked. “And what does this have to do with why you wanted to give eggs to the Baratheons?”

Marwyn sighed. “Aerys became mad for many reasons, losing his egg was just one of them. But the Baratheons needed their eggs, as I thought they would be one of the few who could stand against what is coming.”

“What do you mean?” Sarella asked.

“The merging of ice and fire. The end of the world is coming.” Marwyn said. He looked at her then and said. “You must go to where Tommen Baratheon is and give him this.” The man pulled out a small dagger.

“What is that?” Sarella asked.

“The key.” Marwyn said.

“The key to what?”

“The end of the world.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 113: Conspiracy

 

“The longer Connington remains in the position of Hand of the King the harder it is going to be for us to convince the lords that we want what is best for them and the realm.” Viserys said. Rhaenys looked at him and sighed.

“I know, but unless we can convince the King that this is going to be true, he will not change it.” Viserys raised an eyebrow. He had been married two weeks ago, and the King had been married for a moon, but Rhaenys remained unwed and uncommitted though it seemed that she was growing warmer to the Blackwood marriage proposal, something that made him feel slightly uncomfortable.

“Why? Connington’s incompetence has been shown time and time again. The Stormlands and the Vale both are asking for tax relief, because of his financial policies.” Viserys said.

“The King sees Connington as a father it is hard for him to remove the father from the man.” Rhaenys said.

Viserys sighed. “Then we must ensure that Connington’s weakness is exposed before the court. That way the King will have no choice but to remove him.”

As he said that he thought to himself that the Hand’s weakness had been exposed before the court twice now, and still he remained. Rhaenys as if sensing he had come to the same thought said. “I do not think that will work. There needs to be something more concrete and permanent, otherwise we are going to be left wondering what is happening.”

“Then what? If the King will not remove that fool when lords from two of the kingdoms come to him and tell him that they are struggling with finding a balance in paying off their taxes and that they would consider rebellion otherwise, what is it going to take to remove him?” Viserys demanded feeling the frustration within him grow.

“We need something that visibly demonstrates it on a level that the King will understand.” Rhaenys responded.

Viserys thought on it for a moment and then sighed. “I do not know what it could be. I can think of nothing that would enable us to remove Connington.”

“Neither can I. Other than the obvious behaviour, he has been an able hand.” Rhaenys said with frustration.

“We will need to find something an quickly otherwise the realm will be at war, and with winter here that is not a war we could win even with dragons.” Viserys said.

“And then of course my brother and your sister are coming from Meereen.” Rhaenys said. They’d finally been told about Jon Targaryen, Rhaegar’s other son by his whore, and Daenerys and how the two of them had married and how they were now approaching. Aegon remained convinced he could get Jon to bend the knee, but from what the eunuch had said, it did not seem likely whatsoever.

Viserys sighed. “Another problem that will likely cause untold chaos for us.”

“Indeed. There will be war.” Rhaenys said.

“And the King cannot see that either. Sometimes I wonder if he is just wilfully blind to problems that everyone should see.” Viserys mused aloud.

“I think he simply wants us to be a family, and that that is what is guiding his policy here.” Rhaenys said.

Viserys snorted. “Jon Snow has made clear that he does not wish to be family. Indeed, I would not be surprised if he tries to claim the throne the moment he lands in Westeros. And with his ties to the north, we will have another civil war.”

“And what about Daenerys?” Rhaenys asked. “She is married to him.”

Viserys sighed. “She must also die.”

“Even though she is your own sister?” Rhaenys asked.

“Because she is my sister. I do not think I want her to live to see what will happen should Jon Snow land on Westerosi soil.” Viserys said.

Chapter Text

Chapter 114: Dragonstone

 

It was good to be in Dragonstone. With its long winding towers, with snarling beasts looking at you everywhere you turned. Jon could appreciate it. The warmth of the place also resonated with him and made him feel something. Alive perhaps. More alive than he had been at any other time, apart from when he was fucking his wife. But with Dany now due to give birth at any moment, he had not touched her for two weeks. They had been the longest two weeks of his life. On the journey over he had resorted to burning ships for fun. Just to work out some of the energy.

He cleared his mind and looked at the men of his council. “For the first time in eighteen years a Targaryen sits in Dragonstone. And we intend to never let this seat go from our hands ever again.” There were murmurs of agreement. He looked at Euron the man who had seen him brought to the place of his family’s birth. “Lord Greyjoy report.”

“Sire, we have one hundred and eighty ships including those that were captured on this journey. They are all staffed and ready to go at a moment’s notice. We have more quick fitted ships than the royal fleet does in King’s Landing.” Greyjoy said.

“Good.” Jon replied. “And what is the status of those who would oppose us?”

“Sire, the Redwyne fleet is too busy trying to deal with the Ironborn who taunt them at every gasp.” Ser Willem Fell said. Fell had been a knight in the Windblown a long time ago and had slowly become a top advisor for Jon.

“Your nephew will be dealt with in due course.” Jon said to Greyjoy who merely nodded.

“And what of our men and positions and supplies?” He asked then.

“Sire, we have enough to feed our men for around two months. After that we will need to start raiding.” Ser Jorah Mormont said.

“Very well. We shall need to start making plans for where we intend to land next.” Jon said.

“Why not simply strike forth for King’s Landing directly, Sire?” Euron Greyjoy said.

“That would be foolish.” Ser Jorah said. “Whoever sits in King’s Landing will expect it.”

“They will expect you to land somewhere where you can then start building a base of support. However, Sire, you have the three biggest dragons known to exist on the planet, and you have more men then they can hope to muster in the middle of winter. Why delay? Why not strike now and take the throne?” Euron said.

“Greyjoy speaks sense.” Jon said. “I have waited long enough to take the throne. The time has come for direct action. I will not land elsewhere and then march through the snow. I will take what is mine.”

“Sire, Her Majesty is due to give birth at any moment, surely it would be better to wait for the child to be born before making any decisions. Furthermore, King’s Landing will be heavily defended, with three dragons. It would be better to land somewhere nearer, such as Crackclaw Point and build support from there.” Ser Jorah said.

“No.” Jon said firmly. “We shall not force our army to march through the snow and the wind. We shall sail forth and take what is ours. Let the Redwynes deal with Theon Greyjoy. We shall handle the Royal Fleet and should our uncle and sister and that fool pretending to be our brother come and fight us, we shall defeat them as well.”

“You would become a kinslayer?” Ser Jorah asked.

“We would not harm our sister or uncle. But we do not believe this Aegon Targaryen is who he says he is.” Jon replied.

There was a brief pause and then Ser Jorah said. “Very well, Sire, I shall prepare the men.”

“Good.” Jon said. He then looked at the maester of the castle and send. “Send word to all castles within the realm. Tell them the true son of Rhaegar Targaryen has returned, and the heir to the dragon will bring peace and prosperity to all who bend the knee. Those who refuse will die.”

“Yes, Sire.” The old man said.

Jon rose as did his advisors he nodded to them and said. “By the end of the week, we shall be King.” With that he strode from the room whistling a song he had heard sung at him once when he was a child.

Chapter Text

Chapter 115: Mother Wolf

 

Winter was finally here and with it, Catelyn hoped there would be peace. A chance for them all to put aside the wounds of the past and move forward. She knew things had been terribly difficult for them all, especially since Ned had returned and told them the truth about everything. There were some days when she still felt deeply angry about the lie he had told them all about Jon Snow, and other days when she was happy he had. She did not know how she would’ve handled knowing from the beginning. But she would have liked a choice. Robb seemed torn between anger and acceptance over his part in the war that had engulfed Westeros for two years, and Sansa, well Catelyn was worried about her daughter. Sansa remained quiet and rarely ever talked now.

She looked up as Ned cleared his throat. “Are you well, my love?” He asked. She still felt a tingle in her loins when he spoke to her and she was glad for it.

“I am as well as can be, my love. Are you?” She asked.

“I am. I am worried though.” Ned replied.

“Worried? About what, Ned?” Catelyn asked.

“I’m worried about how things are going to progress this winter and when winter is done what we will have left.” Ned said.

“What do you mean?” She asked.

“The north was at war for two years, there was an Ironborn invasion before that. Our harvests were limited as a result. We might well not last a full long winter, not like we did last time. I should have known to strengthen the north when I was away.” Ned said.

“You did, Ned.” Catelyn replied. “You told me to ensure Moat Cailin was protected and that there were archers at the ready. I did that. But neither of us could have known that Theon would choose to betray our son. Or that that would ever be a consideration that our son would have to lead the north into a war.”

“I should have known.” Ned said then. “Theon was never someone who could resist the temptation to prove himself. And I should never have done what I did with Gendry.”

Catelyn took her husband’s hands in hers then and said. “Ned, there’s no point beating yourself up over it. What is done is done. We can only move forward now and learn from the mistakes of the past.”

“You’re right.” Ned replied.

“Speaking of which, I am worried myself.” Catelyn said. Ned raised an eyebrow in question. “Sansa remains quiet and she barely engages in anything anymore. I’m worried that knowing that Joffrey is dead has damaged her.”

“Has she said anything?” Ned asked.

“No, but I can see it in the way she holds herself now and the way she acts around Robb and his wife. She needs something but I don’t think she knows what she needs.” Catelyn said.

Ned sighed. “I don’t know how to help her, Cat. I can’t help her if I don’t know what she needs.”

“Perhaps we just need to be there for her, and show her that she can always come to us if she has a problem.” Catelyn replied.

“Aye.” Ned said. There was a pause and then her husband said. “And what about Robb’s wife?”

“What about her?” Catelyn asked. She wasn’t sure what to make of Jeyne Westerling, she seemed sweet, but she also seemed to have something dark lurking beneath her.

“Well they’ve been married for almost two years now and there hasn’t been a pregnancy or a child.” Ned said.

“Perhaps the girl is infertile then?” Catelyn asked bluntly.

“That is what I have thought as well, but Robb insists that isn’t the case.” Ned replied. “I’ve spoken with Luwin and the man says that everything seems to be in working order for the both of them.”

“Then perhaps something strange is going on there.” Catelyn said. “I did always think they got married so suddenly.”

“How did it happen?” Ned asked.

“I believe Robb slept with her after being wounded and learning that Winterfell had fallen. He felt honour bound to marry her after that.” Catelyn said.

She saw her husband’s head fall and she knew he was blaming himself for their son’s poor choice. “Perhaps we should speak with them both and offer them the chance of a annulment.” Ned said.

“I think that would be a wise choice.” Catelyn replied. “A chance to allow Robb some happiness.” She had seen how sad and unhappy her son had become as the months had worn on and it worried her as well.

“Yes.” Ned said simply. “Though I fear we might have something else to handle as well.”

“What’s that?” She asked.

Ned pulled out a letter and placed it on the table before her. He said. “Jon has landed on Dragonstone and has declared himself King. He calls for all loyal lords to declare for him and to help him take his throne.”

“What are you going to do? You can’t leave now, winter is here.” Catelyn said.

“I swore an oath to the King, and I promised Lyanna I would protect her son. I have to try and make him see reason.” Ned said.

“How?” Catelyn asked.

“I have to go to King’s Landing again.” Ned surmised.

Chapter Text

Chapter 116: War For The City

 

Gendry saw the ships coming a mile off. “Ships approaching!” He roared. They did not have the capabilities to hold off that many ships. The Redwyne fleet had been delayed crossing over due to the winter and the hunt for Theon Greyjoy, and the remaining ships of the Royal Fleet had been damaged by a storm. Thankfully they had the men, ten thousand men from the crownlands, ten thousand men from the Vale and five thousand men from the Riverlands. All had come to defend the city and all were within the walls.

Reports had come that the Dothraki were with the enemy host, and as such they knew they needed to stay within the walls to bleed them dry. Gendry hurried back to the city gates, and gestured for them to be shut once he was inside. He was greeted by Ser Rolly Duckfield of the Kingsguard who asked him. “How many did you see?”

“Twenty at first look. I think there will be more.” Gendry said.

“We know there will be more.” Duckfield said. They both looked to the air and waited to see a dragon in the air. The King had told a meeting of his war council that his brother had replied saying he would not bend the knee. War was coming and as such they would need to fight as hard as they could.

The whole issue of taxation for the Vale had been shelved for the time being. Gendry knew it would be brought up again at a later point, but right now they had other things they needed to think about. As the enemy would begin dismounting from the ships they would need to think about the best way to defeat them. Gendry had heard the rumours about Jon Targaryen, and about the savagery he had inflicted on the people of Meereen and the damage he had done to merchant ships on their way to Dragonstone. Such a man was not fit to sit the throne.

Something echoed on the floor and Gendry turned to look at Ser Rolly who said. “They have come.” Gendry hurried back to the makeshift tent he had made near the gate and picked up his hammer from it. he stood ready in armour and prepared for something that would come and would likely question everything he had previously believed. He took another breath and then the roars came into being. Howling like the wind the enemy came. The gate before him shook, arrows were unleashed and he knew something would happen.

The plan was to choke the enemy, to bring the Dothraki away from their natural open plain fighting preference and to kill them in the streets. Their horses would struggle in snow lined streets. Their riders would not know how to balance things out. He took a moment and then gave the sign. The gate fell open and the enemy rode in. Gendry swung his hammer and took down one horse, then another. A third’s rider fell down and was crushed by his hammer. A fourth came and the blood rushed to his head then.

The enemy was approaching and more and more of them were streaming through the gate. He fought as long and as hard as he could. Whether he could truly keep going though was another question. He was not sure about that, but he could not allow himself to give up. He pushed on through the darkness of his mind. The Dothraki were very clumsy, that much he could think on right now. They slipped and slided on the snow and their horses were brought down low. A part of Gendry could not help but think that this might have been done deliberately though to bring some false sense of security.

As that thought took root in his mind another thought grew within him. Something about the way the Dothraki fought was bothering him. they were supposed to be berserkers who would come and fight and then leave behind a battered and bloodied mess. Here they were fighting as though they had never seen snow before, and whilst Essos might not be anything like Westeros, it still had snow. Surely they had fought in snow before. So why were they fighting like they were foals struggling to adapt?

Something about this did not sit right with him. He held his fort down, his hammer was red with blood. His body was aching, but still he kept going. He knew that to surrender now would be to allow the enemy to gain an advantage, something they would never be able to regroup from. He saw Yohn Royce in his runed armour fight and fall, never to rise again. He would need to make sure that that man did not disappear in the snow. Ser Rolly was there fighting with everything he had as well, but he also was cut down and brought down to a reduced size.

At that moment, Gendry could not help but feel some resentment toward Jon Connington for the way he had treated some of the lords. Connington had displayed arrogance and contempt for almost everyone but a small group of lords who he considered to have remained loyal to the Targaryens throughout everything. That had meant that the might of the Stormlands had decided not to join them in defending the capital. Instead, only some 2000 men had come and now here they were fighting and dying for something that could have been avoided.

At least that was what he thought before he heard the roar of a dragon and saw the King fly into the air.

Chapter Text

Chapter 117: A Dance of Dragons

 

Viserys watched as the King took to the air. He looked at Rhaenys nodded to her and then took flight himself. They had all agreed that Rhaenys would remain in the city to protect the Red Keep should something go wrong. As he took to the air he looked down below and saw the city engaged in battle. The Dothraki were fighting their men, and he suspected the Dothraki would soon die out in great numbers, though at great cost to their own men. As his dragon straightened out he saw the beast before. A green and bronze dragon, the size of three giants. Viserys swallowed and then heard the King call out.

“We do not need to fight, brother. We can rule the Kingdom together. We are both sons of Rhaegar Targaryen.”

The other man brought his dragon closer and yelled out. “You are no brother of mine. Aegon Targaryen died in King’s Landing.”

“I am here before you, as you live and breathe.” The King responded. “I am real.”

“Then why did you not come and find me?” the other man shouted back. “Why did you leave me to my fate?”

“We did not know about you until recently.” Viserys said then. The green and bronze dragon turned to look at him. “If we had known we would have come looking for you.”

The other man snorted. “DO not lie to me, Viserys Targaryen. You knew the story of the rebellion. You knew that my father took my mother and yet you never stopped to think that there might have been a child.”

“I…I had other problems!” Viserys yelled back.

“And my wife was one of them.” the other man said.

“Wife?” Viserys asked.

“She has given birth to a son. We will name him after my father.” the man said. “You are an uncle.”

Viserys didn’t know what to say to that. But before he could formulate a response, Jon Snow said. “I have tired of talking now bend the knee or fight.”

“I will not bend the knee to my younger brother.” The King said.

“And you?” Jon Snow said looking at him.

“I cannot bend the knee to the younger brother.” Viserys said.

“Very well.” Jon Snow replied.

The green and bronze dragon gave a mighty roar, which was answered by Viserys’ dragon and the King’s dragon, they then launched into an attack. Snow’s dragon twisted and turned dodging the bites that his dragon tried to get, and turned to fight the King’s dragon. With one fluid movement they were engaged in action. Viserys watched as the King and Snow tumbled to the ground, before their dragons pulled out of their locked combat. Viserys took a moment to think and then urged his dragon on. They moved as one and soon became locked in combat with Snow’s dragon.

Snow’s dragon was bigger, but Viserys dragon was quicker. It was able to dodge blasts of flame and other such profanities that Snow’s dragon launched at it. Occasionally though they would fail and Viserys would swear as a bit of fire passed over him. He heard the claws engaged in fighting, backwards and forwards, taking their time to snarl and bite. When his dragon pulled away, the King came in, slamming in with precision and rage. Viserys wondered whether or not they could win this.

Snow had two other dragons, they knew this from reports. Dany’s dragon a big black monstrosity, and another silver dragon. Neither of the other two dragons were there now. Perhaps this could be a good thing. Viserys decided to urge his dragon on and they slammed into the Snow’s dragon. The beast howled. Soon they were all tumbling down toward the ground before pulling out and blowing fire at one another. Viserys looked at the King and the man nodded. They both pulled away and waited.

Snow moved toward the King and they began their dance again. Viserys tailed them, waiting for a moment to strike. He had to give it to Snow, the man knew how to move his beast. But he left spots open here and there, and it was that spot that Viserys sought to exploit now. He urged his dragon on and the beast went soaring forwards. Only to stop as a shadow descended over them. Viserys looked up and a brown beast was before them looking at them hungrily.

“There’s another dragon?” Viserys whispered to himself.

The beast was mud brown and had clearly been drawn by the sounds of dragons fighting, but where had it come from? And why had they never heard of it before? Viserys did not know. All he could do was watch as the beast looked at his own dragon and then give a dismissive snort before it flew away. Viserys watched transfixed as the dragon flew away with grace and power. He swallowed and then turned his attention back to the King.

He saw the King struggled with the snapping of the green and bronze beast. And hurried towards him. He bellowed out a command, but before he could reach the King, a silver dragon appeared. Snapping and snarling at him. They engaged in a brief dance moving this way and that, before the silver beast disappeared. Viserys wondered at that and then saw why. The King was not moving, and his dragon was limply fighting off Snow’s dragon.

Viserys watched with horror as the dragon let go of the King’s dragon and watched as the beast plummeted down all the way down. Viserys closed his eyes and sighed. This could have been avoided. He opened his eyes again and found Snow before him, flushed with victory. The man looked at him and said. “Will you bend or die?”

Chapter Text

Chapter 118: King Returns

 

Dany sat on his lap, their child in her arms, Jon sat on the throne, and he looked at everyone before him. The battle had ended when his uncle had bent the knee and the two of them had flown down to declare an end to the fighting. The Dothraki had been butchered but he did not much care. He had never liked those savages to begin with. He cleared his throat and began speaking.

“It has been a long three years for the realm. We understand that there has been much fighting and the realm has bled. We intend to end that right here and now. Winter is here and we know that war will only continue to destroy the realm. We do not wish that. That is why we are issuing a pardon for those who fought for the man naming himself Aegon Targaryen. Specifically the men of the Vale and the men of the Riverlands and the Crownlands.”

There was some muted whispering at that and Jon continued. “However, we refuse to acknowledge that those of the Stormlands who swore an oath to protect their King and did not come when he called them to arms had legitimate concerns. And so we pronounce that Renly Baratheon, Guy Morrigen and Aemon Estermont are traitors and their lands and riches are attained. We shall deal with them on the morrow.” That got more murmuring.

Jon Connington who the man who claimed to be his brother had named as Hand stepped forward. “Sire, surely that is a mistake. They would revolt even further.”

“Nonsense.” Jon said. “It is the middle of winter. They revolt they are fools and are not deserving of their titles.”

“And who will you name to replace Renly Baratheon in Storm’s End?” Connington asked.

“Gendry Baratheon. The only trueborn son of Robert Baratheon left alive.” Jon said.

There was a moment of silence, and then Jon continued. “Now enough of that. There is one more thing I wished to discuss before moving onto the council decisions.”  A silence descended on the throne room as they all waited to see what he would say. This was something he could get used to. It was an intoxicating feeling, all this power and having all these people listening to his every beck and call. Something that he had never had as a boy.

“Margaery Tyrell, step forward.” He said.  The girl stepped forward, she curtseyed. “You were married to the man known as Aegon Targaryen, correct?”

“I was, Sire.” Tyrell said.

Jon found the family fascinating they had been able to switch from one side to another without anyone ever questioning them. That was going to come to an end. “Are you with his child?”

The girl looked surprised, and for a moment Jon swore her eyes widened. “No, Sire.” The woman said.

“Very well.” Jon replied. “You shall serve as one of my wife’s ladies.” With that he waved a hand dismissing her.

He then cleared his throat and said. “The last few reigns have seen corruption and undue handling of affairs. This comes to an end now.” A pause and then. “We name Viserys Targaryen as our Hand. Lord Monford Velaryon as Master of Ships. Lord Mace Tyrell as Master of Coin. Ser Jorah Mormont as Master of Laws. Lord Varys as Master of Whispers. And Ser Willis Fell as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard.” With that Dany dismounted from his lap, and he said. “We shall bring peace to last a thousand years.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 119: A Bitter Family Reunion

 

Jon was sat on the throne, dressed in red and black, the crown of the conqueror atop his head. Ned had to admit the boy looked quite impressive, and the throne seemed to be dwarfed by his charisma and presence. Still, it was somewhat worrying that the boy had adapted so well to being King. Ned had arrived too late to talk to him and King Aegon and to get them to stop fighting, but he was here now.

Jon spoke. “So, what have you come here for, Lord Eddard?”

“I have come, Sire, to talk to you and to pledge my allegiance.” Ned responded. There had been so many Kings recently, he was not sure that the pledge of allegiance actually meant anything anymore.

Jon laughed. “You already did that when you arrived. We had thought you would bring Sansa with you, as we asked.”

Ned swallowed, he knew why Jon had asked for Sansa, but he had only gotten that missive when he had been about to depart on the ship for King’s Landing. “I could not spare the time to summon her from Winterfell, Sire. I apologise.”

Jon snorted. “Very well.” There was a pause and then. “She shall be sent southwards the moment you leave, otherwise we shall fly there ourselves and take her.”

Something about the way his nephew said those words set Ned on edge, but he had no other choice but to say. “Of course, Sire.”

“Now, there was likely something else you wished to speak with us about. You are not someone who would simply traverse down from Winterfell for no reason.” Jon said. “So, spit it out.”

The harshness of his nephew’s tone made him wince, but he acknowledged the truth in the words by saying. “Originally, I had planned to come south to ask that you and your brother, King Aegon try and talk things out instead of waging war.”

Jon did something then that Ned had never expected, he laughed. “You honestly believe that we would degenerate ourselves enough to sit down and talk with a fraud? Someone who’s only proof that he was the son of my father was through the fact he bonded with a dragon and that his sister was alive?” Jon laughed again. “Please, we thought you respected us.” That last was said with something serious, a bite that Ned had only heard in one other person before.

“Your Majesty, I had thought that it would be better that you both talk than there be another war, or more deaths. Aegon Targaryen was your older brother, and the rightful King. He existed and he took the throne.” Ned said slowly. “By killing him, you have become a kinslayer.”

Jon snarled then, and his direwolf, who was at the foot of the throne snarled. “We are no kinslayer, because we do not recognise him as the rightful King.” His nephew continued. “You sought to bring about a peace that would have destroyed the realm. Aegon Targaryen, the man who called himself that anyway was desperately trying to cling onto something that does not exist anymore.” There was a pause and then Jon continued. “There is no doubt something else that you wanted to speak to us about.”

“There is.” Ned answered softly.

“Then spit it out.” Jon snarled. “We do not have time for your nonsense.”

“I learned that you have pardoned Petyr Baelish and appointed him to a position on your council. I wished to know why.” Ned said. He’d learned a fair bit about the dangerous things Baelish had done as Master of Coin and he did not trust him.

“You wish to demand information from us? Your sovereign.” Jon snarled, in a manner that Ned was beginning to recognise all to well from Harrenhal. “You have no right to demand such a thing.” There was a pause and then Jon continued. “But if you must know we have pardoned him simply because he has provided good service to the crown in the past and he has provided us with information about those who are corrupt.”

So that explains the heads on the walls. Ned thought to himself. “And what of the crimes he has committed himself?”

“What crimes?” Jon demanded.

“Forgery, embezzlement and multitude of other crimes which saw him thrown into the black cells to begin with. If you were to speak with Tyrion Lannister he would confirm that.” Ned said.

“You want us to trust the words of a Lannister?” Jon snorted. “We would rather give up our wife and son for dead.” There was a pause then Jon said. “Give it up old man, you will not convince us that your intentions are pure. Leave here and send your daughter to King’s Landing.”

Ned knew that perhaps he should stop and yet he could not. “This is not the way to go about running things, Jon. Baelish will not help you.”

“We do not need his help. We only need him to be as he is now.” Jon said.

“Then I fear you are not going to do well.” Ned said honestly.

Jon snorted. “Leave old man, the time of your kind is over.”

All Ned could do was bow. “As you wish, Your Majesty.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 120: Unexpected and Unwanted

 

“I still don’t understand why the King insists on keeping Baelish around. We all know the things that man has done. He’s a snake.” Father said. Margaery could only nod.

“The King has his reasons. I believe he is looking to feed the man to his beast.” Grandmother said. Again all Margaery could do was nod.

“Still, he takes control of almost everything, it is quite frustrating.” Father replied.

“Just be grateful he has not done to you what he did to Ser Strickland.” Grandmother said and Margaery winced, Ser Harry Strickland had protested the new barracks his troops had been placed in and the King had fed him to his dragon.

“I am the head of the most powerful family in the realm, he would not dare do that to me.” Father blustered.

“I am not so sure.” Margaery said speaking for the first time. “He spoke so dismissively of Lord Stark, and he is soon to fly to Storm’s End to handle Renly personally. I do not think this King is like other Kings.”

“Well you need not worry about that, for we will not be looking to marry you to him.” Father said. “Even if we wanted to, I do not think we could. He is besotted by that Daenerys girl. She is so thin.”

“She has birthed him an heir.” Grandmother said sharply. “Something that will no doubt stand her in good stead. Especially with the vipers at court here.”

Margaery shifted and then asked. “Do you think the King would allow me to go home?”

“Why would he not?” Father asked and then he said. “Though you are the Queen’s chief lady in waiting you would need a valid reason to return home.”

“A marriage is the only thing that would work.” Grandmother said. “With this King anyway, and he would want to bear witness to it as well.”

Margaery shifted then, a marriage was likely the last thing she wanted right now. Father however, went full ahead. “I’ve received an offer from Lord Florent, that would be a good way of burying bridges, if not him then perhaps Lord Rowan’s son, he’s a handsome lad.”

There was only one person Margaery wanted to marry but she did not know where he was right now. She kept her mouth shut. “The King will wonder why you are marrying Margaery to a local lord. No, someone else.”

“Hmm, perhaps Lord Edmure Tully? His wife recently died giving birth to a stillborn son.” Father said.

“No, that would raise too many eyebrows.” Grandmother said.

“Ser Gendry then? He has all but been confirmed as the next Lord of Storm’s End and the King likes him.” Father said.

“Yes that could be the perfect marriage candidate.” Grandmother said. “And it will give Margaery the chance to be well off and ensure she has peace of mind.”

Margaery felt a slight annoyance then that even though she knew she could not marry anyone now, they still treated her as if she was nothing more than cattle to be sold off as they pleased. “Excellent. I shall speak with Ser Gendry on the morrow.”

Deciding that she could not keep this silent anymore, she said. “I do not think that would be a wise idea, Father.”

Father looked shocked and blustered. “Why ever not?”

“Because I am with child.” Margaery said. “I was not sure before, but I have missed my bleeding twice in a row now.” She paused saw the look on her father’s face and hurriedly added. “It is King Aegon’s.”

“I thought I told you to take moon tea?” Father thundered.

“I did as often as I could, but it was becoming obvious and before he left for war, well.” Margaery said. She did not mourn her husband. She had barely known him but she was terrified now.

Before Father could respond, there was a banging on the door. A servant opened the doors and Ser Willis Fell of the Kingsguard alongside another sworn brother stood in the doorway. “Lady Margaery, come with us, the King would like to speak with you.”

“What for?” Margaery asked.

“For committing treason.” Ser Willis responded.

“What treason have I committed?” Margaery asked though she knew the answer before the man responded.

“Lying about a pregnancy.” Ser Willis said, he walked into the room, and so she stood up and nodded to Father and grandfather before accompanying the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard out of the room.