“Tyrion, how fucking drunk were you last night?”
“Your hair… what the actual oh wait fuck no NOT ON THE CARPET YOU FUCK”
Tyrion woke up from another dream of his trial, winding up on hands and knees. He spent what felt like hours heaving his guts out on one of the Cheesemonger’s antique Myrish carpets, much to Ser Duck and Haldon Halfmaester’s distress.
“Tyrion-Yollo-Tyrion! This was meant for the dragon queen! For Daenerys!”
Tyrion grinned under his stub of a nose. “I loved a maid as fair as winter, with moonglow in her hair,” he sang lustily. “Fear not, my brave adventurers and sailors upon the great Mother Rhoyne! Myrish carpets are to our dear Cheesemonger as straw and rushes are to a common man. One scratchy old rug shall not be enough to diminish the charms of our dear young Egg-“
“You will cease that infernal racket.” Griff stood in the doorway, a tall pale effigy of disapproval. At the sound of his voice, the Halfmaester elbowed Duck, who promptly stopped cursing and turned to face the door.
“I have warned you, Imp, since you set foot on this ship. As long as you are under my sufferance you are done with drink. And… by the Seven, what is that on your head?”
Beautiful blue curls cascade down Tyrion’s shoulders and back, a far lovelier sight than his usual coarse patchy mane of black and gold, enough to put Aegon’s own Targaryen silver-dyed-blue locks to shame.
“A coat of gold, a coat of red, a lion still has claws! Why my lord Griff, gold and red or blue and noseless, I am a proud lion of Lannis-”
Another round of heaving.
Tyrion woke to a heavy weight on his chest and a loud bark. The front of his shirt was soaked- he couldn’t tell if it was from his own vomit or the dog vigorously licking his face. He yelped, pushed the dog off, and scrambled to the other end of his cabin. The dog turned around; chasing its tail, before it saw Tyrion crouched near his bed. It started its incessant barking again, bounding towards Tyrion, tail wagging enthusiasm. “No, boy, down, boy heel, heel! Wait… Clegane?”
Clegane, pleased to have been recognised, sat down on the floor of the cabin next to Tyrion, tail thumping louder than the pounding in Tyrion’s head.
The door opened. Halfmaester walked in, a knife in one hand and a bowl of vinegar in the other. “Since you fell in and inhaled water from the fountains in the ruins along the Palace of Sorrow, other than your new head of hair you may find other, less pleasant changes to your body. Greyscale, to be exact. The fog around those ruins chokes thick with black ills. Should your skin start to scale over with grey and harden like rock, do not hesitate.” He flipped the razor-sharp knife in his hand and tossed it onto the table, where it landed, quivering, point first. “Better to lose a finger, than a hand, better a hand than an arm… but in the meantime-” he paused to set the bowl down next to the knife, “-wash yourself with vinegar. That should stop the spread of the disease, although who knows? You inhaled half the water from the fountain, the corruption could be within you right now, creeping towards your heart.” The Halfmaester realised that the dark shape under the blanket wasn’t Tyrion, but a lumpy, misshapen pillow. “Tyrion? Where-“
A dog jumped out at him from behind the bed. Haldon leapt back in shock, arms flailing, painfully falling on his arse. Hoots of laughter ring in his ears, and he heard Tyrion say “Well, Halfmaester, I see you’ve met my dear loyal dog Clegane.”
“Where the bloody hell did it come from? You didn’t bring a dog onto this ship!”
“Neither did I have a lovely head of blue hair. This shade of blue is rather extraordinary. The winter roses Rhaegar crowned Lyanna Stark with must have been close to this colour. But yes, today does seem to be a day for all sorts of curious happenings. Perhaps it will rain gold next, all the gold in Casterly Rock!” Tyrion Lannister laughed. “What a fine way to claim mine birthright. Cersei would spit blood.”
The Halfmaester grumbled as he climbs to his feet awkwardly. “You haven’t sobered up yet, by the sound of it. The day your word makes it rain gold will be the day turtles start crawling out my arse. But the dog… I mislike it. What kind of apparition is it? We are still floating along the ruins of Chroyane, and the air is full of foul humours.”
All of a sudden, the sky rumbled, churning grey clouds thickening the soupy mist in the air. It started to rain, fat, heavy droplets of soft wrought gold tumbling from the sky in a grand shower, pelting the deck of their boat, the Shy Maid . They scramble on deck, where the others are already assembled. Septa Lemore claps a hand to her mouth in shock, Yandry and Ysilla stop poling the boat and throw their hands over their heads, and Aegon bends to pick up an ingot. “Real gold,” he says, staring at it in awe and wonder.
“Gold indeed, Prince Aegon. The purest gold in Casterly Rock!” Tyrion scoops up another ingot and hands it to Griff, who looks to be about two seconds away from fainting. “There. This should be enough to pay for that carpet I soiled. A Lannister always pays his debts.” He grins and spins away, ignoring the stars swimming around his head, tilting his head back to face the sky. “Now all we need is a dragon! And I could live and die a happy man, riding for Westeros towards my sweet sister and my lying brother, mounted on a dragon, ready to pay this old, blood debt.” Tysha. He thinks. My love. I am sorry I let them hurt you. My father paid for it. Soon my white-cloaked brother will too.
“The only dragons in all the world belong to Daenerys Targaryen. One is meant for Rhaegar’s son, Aegon. If you have need of a mount to battle, perhaps the mongrel mutt in your cabin would do. It does seem rather attached to you.” Griff’s voice cut the air, cold and collected. He seemed to have recovered from his shock.
Tyrion would have replied, perhaps, had the wingbeats in the air not drowned them out.
A roaring great, winged serpent, large enough to drown out the light of the sun, soars over their head. It’s massive wings beat and cut at the air, clearing the air of fog. Heat radiated off its verdant green scales, and the murky waters of the river hissed into steam near the beast. Gold rained down, pelting the dragon, the gold could have been soft as wool for all the heed the dragon paid to it.
Griff fainted in shock. The others screamed. Septa Lemore clasped her hands together and began praying.
Tyrion himself was a trifle disconcerted. No, more than that. He was absolutely terrified. The dragon was something out of his wildest dreams, larger and fiercer by far than anything he could ever have imagined. Fear sharpened his senses and cleared his head.
Is that the roaring of blood in my ears? Or is it the dragon? Tyrion did not know. He did know that he could not afford to show any fear, or the dragon would devour him whole. In some sort of daze he reached out, against all his instincts, every nerve and muscle on fire screaming have you lost your bloody wits, his head pounding, pounding pounding. The dragon hissed, snapping its long undulating neck this way and that, and Tyrion recovered his senses and shot his hand back.
“The Prince! Aegon! Protect him!” Tyrion heard Ser Rolly Duck’s frantic command as though he were underwater, his voice muffled and indistinct. The scorching heat from the dragon’s nostrils- how the bloody hell did I get here- made him sweat, stinging his eyes. Rows of sharp black needles, each as long as the sword in Ser Duck’s hand, filled his vision. The dragon’s teeth. The heat was searing, a thousand furnaces together could not burn a fire that hot. The dragon growls, a cinder caught onto, and singed, an eyebrow. Tyrion wondered if his eyebrow hairs were blue and curly as well. Not that he’d be like to find out in the last few seconds of his life.
I must not show any fear.
He stares into the dragon’s eyes, each larger than his head, both smouldering orange fire, and wonders if the dragon will burn him alive or snap him in half in those jaws. I’ve drowned myself in wine, drowned myself in women, drowned myself in gold. Why should I fear drowning in fire? He held onto that thought, clutched onto it desperately, lying to himself, and to the dragon. I have nothing left to live for, but vengeance. I am not afraid to die. And dragonflame burns hot but kills fast.
He stares at the dragon, unflinching. The dragon rears up on its hind legs, throwing its head back in a scream. Then it folds its wings and coils onto the boat at Tyrion’s feet. Tyrion was amazed. He reached out, again, and placed one hand on the dragon’s head.
Rhaegal, a voice in his head whispers. His name is Rhaegal.
“Rhaegal.” The heat from the dragon’s back is more bearable now, less scorching, more like the warmth of summer.
The shower of gold hadn’t stopped. Belatedly, Tyrion realised that the gold had started to wear holes in the deck. Before long the Shy Maid would sink to the bottom of the river. He climbed onto the dragon’s back, calling out to his companions on deck, all now gaping at him incredulously.
“Halfmaester! Do me a favour and help me get Clegane, he should still be down in my cabin. Oh, and I suppose someone should wake Griff, or help him onto this dragon. The rest of you climb on board, quickly now, before this boat breaks to pieces.”
Aegon Targaryen stares at the dragon with less fear and more disappointment. “The dragon should be mine. I am one of Targaryen blood, I should be the one riding on a dragon to Daenerys.” Tyrion had to think a moment before giving his reply. “The dragon has three heads, and of dragons Daenerys has three. The third awaits you at Meereen, where Daenerys reigns.”
Aegon seemed to accept this, and climbed on board behind Tyrion. Soon enough everyone had climbed onto Rhaegal’s back, and though he growled and his claws dug into the soft wood of the boat, he did not try to throw them off, for which Tyrion was duly grateful.
The dragon seemed to be waiting for a command. Tyrion tried to recall what he had learnt of dragons and how the Valyrian people had managed to control them, and remembered the Valyrian command for “fly”.
“ Sōves!” He cried out, and Rhaegal unfurled his great green wings, larger than the sails of any ship he had ever seen. “To Meereen! To Daenerys!” The dragon climbed into the sky, lifting them out of the damp chill of the river, higher, higher, until they were close enough to reach out and grasp the stars.
Tyrion felt a wild sense of ecstasy rushing through his veins, accompanied with a strong sense of catharsis as his fears melted away. With the wind in his hair (still curling blue waves) and the stars lighting their path through the night sky, Tyrion thought:
Three dragons. Do you hear that Cersei? And you, Jamie? The Targaryens may keep their iron chair, but Casterly Rock is mine by rights. And I will have it.
He thought of Tysha. He thought of his father, Lord Tywin, with the crossbow bolt in his gut. He saw Cersei’s haughty smirk and Jamie’s mocking smile. Behind them loomed Casterly Rock, formidable and eternal.
I am Tyrion of House Lannister.
And I am coming.