I make Drogon land on top of a building to survey the city. All scorpions have been destroyed and with it, any danger to my remaining child’s life. I look down towards the streets and I see my forces facing Cersei’s soldiers – waiting.
I feel Drogon vibrating with anger. I feel him become more agitated. I feel his muscles twitch with the anticipation of setting flight again. It isn’t until I hear the bells ring that I realize he is mirroring what I’m feeling.
This is it? Was it truly this easy?
I have lost so much on my quest to reclaim what’s rightfully mine and it’s all over in mere minutes?
All of my allies, half my forces, two of my children, Ser Jorah and Missandei. All gone.
I wanted fire and blood.
The bells continue to ring and I become aware of another sound. I turn my gaze from the bell tower toward the streets below me. I see multitudes of people running and screaming, searching for cover. All running away from me.
They’re afraid of me.
I feel an emptiness I wasn’t expecting to feel.
I have it. It’s mine. The iron throne is mine and yet, there’s a hole.
What was the point of it all? I have lost almost everything I once held dear for the people of Westeros. I fought and I survived for what? The people I came to safe are afraid of me. I will never have their love or respect. Only their fear.
I lost Viserion and Rhaegal to protect them and they don’t even know. Can I truly expect them to be grateful? The people of the North know what I did for them and I never even received their gratitude.
I was ignored and treated with mistrust even after the battle. If I didn’t at least earn their respect after that, then why would I expect differently from the people of King’s Landing?
I know what I must do. If it is not love I’ll receive from them, then let it be fear.
I adjust my position and hold on to Drogon’s spikes.
He expands his wings at my silent command and soars quickly into the air.
For a moment, the screams intensify but a second later, I can hear nothing but the beating of my own heart in my ears. I feel nothing but pain and a desire to make everyone else feel my grieve.
I make Drogon fly towards the entrance of the city, the blasted wall still smoking from my attack. I start feeling my chest rise up and down with the anticipation of what I’m about to do, but I’m stopped by a memory of long ago.
“Show all the people of Mereen you are better than those who would depose you. Teach them a better way.”
“The Mad King gave his enemies the justice he thought they deserved, and each time, it made him feel powerful and right until the very end.”
I feel tears run down my cheeks as the words of Ser Barristan Selmy play at the back of my mind.
What did I almost do?
I am not my father.
A sob escapes before I can suppress it.
This is not me. I am not a tyrant.
I cover my mouth and try to control my emotions. This war is not quite over yet.
I shake myself and make Drogon fly over the place I last saw my forces. I become more aware of the screams and the terrified look on everyone’s faces.
I will show them I am not my father. In time, they’ll know.
I land behind the Lannister soldiers. They turn around fast and start backing away. I hear more than see the swords on the floor being stepped over as they backup.
They’re officially done fighting for Cersei.
“Cersei Lannister’s reign is over. You have my word, you will not be harmed.”
I try to look at each and every one of them.
It’s still there: fear.
I let go of Drogon’s spikes and start climbing down. Once I have both feet on the ground I turn to Drogon and whisper to him to go rest for a bit. He bumps me gently with his snout and spreads his wings wide and mighty and flies off.
If I want the people of King’s Landing to trust me, I have to work for it, like Tyrion said. I will never succeed if there’s a dragon between us.
I walk closer to the Lannister soldiers and I see them bring their guard down a bit. I look around and see the masses of people staring at me.
“My name is Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen. I don’t know what lies Cersei Lannister has said about me, but I’ve come to Westeros to give you the same thing I gave the people of Mereen, Astapor and Yunkai: freedom.”
I start walking closer to the men, women and children who have gathered in the streets to look at the woman who wants to be their next queen.
I hear the coordinated steps of the Unsullied behind me. I look over my shoulder and motion to Grey Worm to stop. I need to do this alone. No guards and no dragon. Just them and me.
“I realize you don’t know me yet, but you will in time. I came here to break the wheel that has crushed you and benefited the rich. I recognize your pain and I promise you, I will end it and create a better world for you and your children.”
I try to not hide my emotions from them. I want them to see me.
“You recognize our pain? Do y’know what is like to sleep with an empty belly ev’ry night?”
I search the crowd for the voice of the young man who said that. People are visibly nervous to how I may react.
“Please, step forward.” I say gently but commanding.
A boy no older than 15 steps forward. He is not very tall and thinner than he should be. His eyes are hollow but filled with anger.
“What is your name?”
He raises his chin. “Roy.”
I nod. “I do know what it’s like to sleep with an empty belly at night, Roy. I know what it’s like to sleep on the streets hoping the night won’t be too cold. I know what it’s like to lose all hope and wonder if you’ll ever have a home. I grew up in exile with my brother Viserys. We had nothing after our family was pushed out of power. Not even our mother. We relied on the kindness of others hoping we would always stay at least one step ahead of the assassins King Robert would send to kill us. I am here today because I fought against every single thing that was sent my way to stop me, and I will fight for you too. Now and always. If that’s what you want.”
I see Roy examining my face looking for the lie, but he won’t find it because I am telling the truth.
He says nothing. Only nods.
Roy steps back and joins the crowd again.
“Cersei Lannister will pay for the crimes she’s committed. I will make sure justice is served the way it was supposed to be served. She will be captured and put to trial as will every single one of her accomplices. No exception.”
I see people nodding and I see their body language changing.
“How will you break the wheel?”
An elderly woman asks me.
I look at her and know my answer will determine how she sees me. I look up slightly and the first thing I see is the Red Keep; menacing and imposing. A symbol of the tyranny and superiority that has infected Westeros. A building built by my ancestors over 300 years ago.
I turn towards Grey Worm and tell him in High Valyrian,
“Go capture Cersei Lannister and anyone associated with her and lock her up in a brig in one of our ships. Take one or two of the Lannister soldiers so they can guide you. Kill them if they try anything.”
Grey Worm nods and gives a command to a group of the Unsullied and points to two Lannister soldiers at the front and he follows them to the Red Keep.
I turn back to the elderly woman.
“Symbols can be dangerous. The Red Keep has been a symbol of tyranny. I will burn it down before sunset today. Let us build a new and better world on the ashes of the old one.”
“I’ll believe it when I see it,” the woman says.
As Grey Worm informs me Cersei Lannister has been captured alongside Jaimie Lannister, Qyburn and several other accomplices, I climb atop Drogon to keep my first promise to the people – burn the Red Keep.
The walls of the Red Keep explode as I make Drogon fly in circles around the castle, decimating every single tower. I start seeing how the whole structure starts to collapse, dragon fire having done its job as always. The ceiling of a particular area crumbles and I see the iron throne.
I make Drogon land inside what I realize is the throne room. I climb down and walk towards it. Ashes fall from above covering everything. I climb the stairs slowly, as if afraid this might all be a dream.
The thing I’ve longed for so long sits right in front of me and now I have come to realize, it’s not what I want. Throughout this journey, I always said I wanted the iron throne because it was rightfully mine. But now, as I stand in front of it, I realize it was never the throne I wanted. It was home. I never had a home and I thought the throne meant I got to have one.
To keep this would be a mistake.
It seems right to destroy the iron throne with the very thing that created it.
I climb back on Drogon and fly above the Red Keep and watch as the building collapses into nothing. I hear the cheers of people as their suffering ends with not fire and blood, but with fire and hope.