Daenerys woke in her son’s flames. Later she would think it fitting, she gave birth to him in a funeral pyre and he returned the gift on her own. But when her eyes opened and she gasped for breath, she felt only fear. Her eyes darted, looking for Jon, unsure if she was afraid to find him or afraid not to.
He’d killed her. That was the first fact that entered her mind as she took in the red priests and priestesses that surrounded her. They looked at her with a hungry awe that scared her and she wished she had someone to comfort her, to shield her. Her arms wrapped around so that she could hug herself.
She was alone in this world. She always had been. Her chest exploded in pain. He’d killed her. The only man she’d ever truly loved and he’d murdered her. She had thought him honest and true, and he’d kissed her as he lied to her and betrayed her.
Jon. Daenerys tried to stand, but her legs were too weak. Kinvara came forward, supporting her weight. “Careful, my queen. You have been dead for several days, you’ll need time to regain your strength.”
Daenerys heard the words but they were too large for her mind to process. The strange faces scared her. Until her eyes landed on Drogon. Her son looked so happy, so eager to see her. Daenerys wanted to reach out and comfort him. She put out a hand and the dragon stepped forward, cooing at the touch.
It warmed Daenerys’ heart to hear. The warmth of the leathery skin comforted her. Her son lived. She was not alone. Daenerys wanted to leap forward, wrap her arms around Drogon and have him fly them both away to somewhere no one would ever find them. But she was too weak. She knew she needed time before she could fly again.
She looked to the Red Priestess, the one that told her that she was the Princess who was Promised. She wanted to be angry at the woman for lying to her, but she wanted information first. “Where am I?”
“Volantis,” Kinvara answered.
Daenerys nodded, glad to be back in Essos rather than Westeros. She never wanted to step foot on that awful place she once thought of as home again.
He had murdered her. She had she really been so wrong? What had Jon said once, ages ago on that boat? “I tried to help save them, save everyone, and they murdered me for it.”
Wasn’t that what she had done? She had fought the dead with the rest of them. She had saved them. She had sacrificed so much for them without as much as a thank you in return. She had offered to rule with him, equally. She had given him everything. And he’d killed her in turn.
She had burned innocent women and children running and screaming in King’s Landing out of pure hatred. Daenerys tried to stop the memory. Tried to stop the guilt, but it was there too. Her feelings were too mixed and disoriented to sort through. She felt like she was still trapped in the world beyond, not quite returned to this one.
Jon had never talked about coming back from the dead aside from that one brief explanation of his scars; it had clearly disturbed him, so she let him be. Let him have his secrets. She knew now. She knew the first feelings of disorientation, of wrongness.
Of betrayal. He’d murdered her. She loved him. He kissed her and then he stabbed her. In the heart. Now she would have a scar to match his. Her hands flew to the angry red welt.
Daenerys wretched to the side. She expected to vomit, but nothing came. When had she eaten last? That spider Varys had been poisoning her, so she hadn’t wanted any food prepared by another. She hadn’t felt hungry anyway. Her tears came instead.
He’d murdered her, the man she loved.
She had murdered thousands, innocents. Men, women and children she was supposed to protect as queen.
Jon had kissed her as he plunged in the blade.
She had wanted to world to burn, to reforge it into something new, something better. Let those who hated her die.
Jon’s last words to her had been, “You are my queen, now and always.”
“Let it be fear then,” that’s what she had said to him the night before.
Daenerys listed to the side, catching herself before she could fall. The High Priestess was by her side in an instant. “Don’t worry, my queen.” Kinvara put her hand on Daenerys’ stomach. “Your children live with you. The dragons will rise again. Children of fire and flame. The promised bringers of light. With the Ice banished, Fire shall reign.”
Daenerys didn’t understand, but she looked to the hand over the slight bump her belly had formed. She placed her own on the bump that was definitely real. It was as if her body was no longer her own. She would carry no living child.
But she didn’t carry a child, according to the priestess. And were they really living now? They were children of a dead man and a dead woman both risen again.
The Night King had risen his White Walkers, what in the seven hells had she and Jon produced?
Shockingly, the birth wasn’t a difficult one. The girl came out first, her brother followed. Daenerys wept as she held the two perfect babes in her arms. They stopped crying the moment their heads touched her breasts.
Daenerys thought about all that had happened. It was worth it. For these two miracles, the world could’ve burned or been overwhelmed by the Army of the Dead and it would have been worth it. Daenerys heart filled in a way it never had before and everything else became secondary. Her anger and desire for revenge on Westeros left her. All that mattered were these two babies. Her children, which included Drogon, were all that mattered to her now.
Daenerys named the girl Rhaella, after her mother. Her thumb fingered the ring she still wore, which she would give to her daughter someday. She was no longer in a position to give her children the throne they might have deserved in another life, but she would give them what she could.
She thought of naming the boy Aegon, but Jon’s face appeared in her mind and Daenerys decided against it. There had been too many Aegons in their family anyway, most of them unimpressive. She named him Daeron instead.
Daenerys didn’t know that Jon had always admired the young dragon. That she’d inadvertently named her son after his father’s favorite Targaryen. She probably would have picked another name if she had known.
She knows that someday these children will ask about their father, and she knows she’ll never tell them more than she has to. If this God of Light truly did see her as his representation on Planetros, her children would never know their father, never meet the man.
Jon Snow would never disappoint them, as he did her.
Daenerys wanted to leave Volantis, as she didn’t trust these priestesses and priests. She didn’t want her children worshiped. She knew the the price that came from thinking yourself above others. But she didn’t know where she could go.
Westeros was in chaos, they told her. The Five Kingdoms constantly warring with each other. The North’s population had been decimated by the wars and the starvation from Winter. Dorne had declared its independence and was the only kingdom thriving because of their trade with Essos.
The great families were positioning for power, but none succeeded against their king’s powers. Daenerys had never really understood what Bran’s powers were, but they were enough to gain him a crown and keep it, so she had to respect them. She stopped listening to the gossip, not caring what happened to the land that took everything from her.
Dragon’s Bay was thriving, and slavery had not been restored, to Daenerys’ delight. She often thought of returning to Meereen, living in the Great Pyramid once more. What stopped her was the assassin blades Tyrion was sure to send after her if he ever found out she lived. She would not let Rhaella and Daeron grow up in the same state of constant fear she had. They were safe as long as no one knew about them.
Both children were proving themselves to be true Targaryens though. Daeron asked for a practice sword for his last birthday and Rhaella wanted daggers shortly after. Both were training with their weapons, and their progress was good according to their trainer. Daenerys would never stop them from gaining the ability to protect themselves, but she never watched them either. She didn’t want to see them prepare for their own conquering.
She knew that’s where it would lead. She understood the blood that called for them to seek out other lands and people. They were constantly asking questions and reading everything about Westeros and Essos they could get their hands on. Daenerys hated answering their questions about the lands she’d seen, as her travels were all painful memories now, but she did the best she could.
The worst questions were the ones they asked about their father. Daeron looked just like her, violet eyes and silver hair, but Rhaella possessed her father’s dark curls. She told them the truth, but never fully. Neither she nor they were ready for that. “He was a great warrior who fought bravely against the Army of the Dead in the Great War.”
Daeron’s brow always scrunched at this. “Did he die in the war?”
Daenerys licked her lips. “No.”
Rhaella asked, “Then where is he? Why isn’t he with us?”
Daenerys always saddened at the question, at the life that might have been if they’d never learned the truth. Her and Jon ruling together, raising their children together. She had always imagined he would be a good father. “I don’t think he’s alive, my lovelies.”
Which was true. Daenerys didn’t know for sure, but she did know that Grey Worm and Drogon weren’t likely to let her death go unavenged.
Though Jon Snow had more luck than sense. How many times had she seen him escape death? She’d kissed the scars from his own resurrection. She knew it was just as likely that he lived.
But she feared they might seek him out, if he lived. She didn’t know how the man would react to that. He probably wouldn’t kill them as he had her, but she had been sure he wouldn’t do that to her either, so she didn’t trust such feelings anymore.
Her daughter accepted her mother’s answers, believing her father died, but Daeron never fully believed her. Daenerys saw how his bright violet eyes narrowed in disbelief. He would want answers someday, Daenerys knew. Answers she still wasn’t ready to give.
Volantis was a prison as much as a sanctuary. Daenerys rode on Drogon every day, sometimes taking her children with her, though the Lord of the Light followers always tried to prevent all three from riding Drogon at once. Frightened that their living gods might leave them. It wasn’t an unfounded fear.
Daenerys often thought of taking her children and running away. If she’d known where Grey Worm and the Unsullied were, she might have done it. But such information was never passed to her. And she had no way of knowing who she could trust to find such a thing out. So she remained a prisoner here, for the safety of her children.
She could not trust these people. Could not trust anyone. No one ever helped her for nothing, even as a girl under Viserys’ thumb, Daenerys understood that. She knew these people meant to worship her children. She wanted to flee, find some cottage nowhere. She wouldn’t let the same hubris that destroyed her take down her children as well. But where could she hide with Drogon?
So she refused the ceremonies of worship they wanted, though her children were instructed in the faith. Her son took to it more than her daughter. He told her about what he heard in the flames and saw in his dreams. “Like Daenys the dreamer,” Daenerys said, one day as she prepared lunch for her children.
“No, mother,” Daeron corrected with a pout. “I dream of wolves, not dragons. I climb into their skins.”
Rhaella perked up. “I do that too. I become a big wolf in some winter climate somewhere, hunting and running.”
Daenerys didn’t notice the plates slipping from her hands and smashing on the tiled floor.
The day came when he was on the cusp of manhood, but still too soon for Daenerys’ tastes. Daeron asked about his father. “I know there’s something you’re not telling me. I know it’s bad. You never talk about him but to say he was a warrior and a king. That he fought against the dead.” Daeron, always serious, his eyes violet but Jon’s just the same. “How did you die mother? I know you were resurrected with us. I’ve seen the scar on your chest.” A flash of anger crossed his features. “Who dared to kill dragons?”
Daenerys took her boy’s hands into her own. “It was in Westeros, I had lost so much, everyone who meant something to me. Most of my advisors were plotting behind my back, calling me mad. I had just watched two dear friends die. I had worked to regain everything my family had lost my entire life, just to see it slip from my hands at what should have been my moment of triumph.” Daenerys caught herself, ashamed of the memory of what she’d done, but she pressed on. “I burned King’s Landing to the ground with Drogon, destroying enemies, friends and innocents alike.”
Daeron’s eyes widened at this confession, but he didn’t remove his hands from hers. He didn’t recoil back in horror at what she had done. Daenerys continued, “I wanted to build a new world. I wanted to make it better for everyone. Let them be free, but I needed power to do it. The power that comes from fear. I wanted to reforge the world for my children.” Daenerys remembered that day with such sorrow. She had just learned from the maester who’d looked her over after the battle that she was carrying a child. She had been so excited to tell Jon, she hadn’t noticed his sorrow.
She hadn’t picked up on the need to protect herself from him.
Lost in memory, Daeron asked, “Mother, who held the blade? Who killed you?”
In that moment Daenerys realized her son already knew the answer. She wondered if he’d figured it out for himself or heard it in the flames. Still, she closed her eyes, took a deep breath and confirmed it for him, “Jon Snow.”
Daeron’s jaw was hard as he nodded. “He’s alive, you know.” Daenerys felt her heart stop at her son’s words. “They banished him to the Wall for killing you. That was his punishment.”
She wanted to ask how he knew that, but her son was clever and always seeking new information. It didn’t matter which trader he spoke to. Daenerys pushed back a lock of her son’s hair, much the way she used to with Jon. “Daeron, your father was a good man, even if he did an awful thing.”
Finally, he stepped away from her. “I know. I won’t kill him. I’m no kinslayer.” He scowled and Daenerys knew despite her son’s words, he was furious with the father he’d never known. That if he ever met him, he might forget what he’d said, as she had forgotten things before.
He moved to walk away, but before he left, he threw over his shoulder, “Rhaella might though. She’d kill him for what he did to you, and I won’t stop her.”
Arya Stark had spent decades on her ship, had known so many adventures. She felt home calling for her, but she didn’t answer that, not wanting to see what waited in Westeros. She didn’t want to see Gendry married to some other woman and their children. Didn’t want to impose on Sansa and the family she had surely built. Didn’t want to look for her brother at the Wall or the one on the throne.
But still, she longed for her family. So as a compromise, she returned to Essos to resupply. She thought of going back to Braavos, but instead sailed for Volantis, the home to her dead brother’s wife. She had never met Talisa and recently had been wondering what she had been like. If Robb was anything like Jon, he probably had terrible taste in women.
She was still curious as to what the woman Robb gave up his kingdom for. She landed and went exploring as her crew began the resupply. She gave them a week of rest as well.
Volantis was not Braavos, as she assumed it would be. Slaves filled the streets here and the people were far more religious. She found her way to Red Temple; it made the Great Sept look like a shack. She explored the temple, curious about this strange fire religion.
She found something in a courtyard where a young girl had a man with flames tattooed across his cheeks. “Some Fiery Hand guard you are, can’t even beat a small girl who knows nothing of fighting.” The girl was twirling her knife in a way that proved her an instant liar.
Arya smirked. She liked this child; she reminded her of herself as a girl.
The man snorted as he stood. “Right, you practice with your knives more than your brother with his sword.”
“Daeron prefers books. Besides, he can beat most of you with that sword of his, so I wouldn’t dismiss him just yet.”
Daeron, a Targaryen name, it made Arya stiffen. But she supposed the Targaryens favored Valyrian names, a common thing she found in this city. Volantis had worshiped Valyria and considered themselves the lost city’s closest successor.
She watched as the girl continued to practice, wearing out one guard after another. She noticed that the girl was good, but there was still room for improvement. The girl could use more fluidity, perhaps a water dancer would help her. It would help her move quicker.
Arya waited until the girl was alone, then she stepped out from the shadows. “You’re good,” she complimented.
The girl immediately had her knives out, ready to attack. Arya supposed she shouldn’t be surprised by the distrust. Only fools blindly trusted strangers. “I don’t know you. Who are you? What are you doing here?”
Arya smiled, trying to put the girl at ease. “I’m Arya Stark. What’s your name?”
Rather than putting the girl at ease, she seemed to tense more. “Stark. From Westeros?”
“Yes,” she stayed calm. “You know Westeros?”
The girl nodded. “It’s a rotten pit full of barbarians who would rather see their country destroyed then open their minds to anything different.”
Arya was taken aback by the harsh words. She knew it wasn’t an uncommon thought in Volantis. They had no love for her home here. But this girl spoke the hatred with such venom, as though she herself had been done wrong by the country. Arya felt defensive and refused to let this stranger insult the home she loved. “Westeros isn’t so bad. You’ve lived in Volantis all your life?”
Reluctantly the girl nodded. Arya continued, “I’ve traveled the world, seen so many different lands. It’s natural to revere your home and take its views as your own, but not always correct.”
The girl seemed to relax a bit at those words though she didn’t put her knives away. “What do you want from me?”
Arya smiled. “A name would be nice to start.”
“You don’t know who I am?” The girl seemed surprised, but Arya couldn’t guess why she would be.
After a moment of silence passed, the girl relented. “Rhaella, my name is Rhaella.”
Another Valyrian name, like the old queen. “Last name?”
The girl considered her answer for a moment before she said, “I believe in your homeland it would be Snow.”
A bastard. Just like Jon. Arya had even more questions as to why a bastard would be in the Red Temple training with the Fiery Hand. But she kept them to herself for now. This girl didn’t seem foolish enough to answer them anyway. “Those men taught you how to fight, didn’t they? The guards.”
Reluctantly, Rhaella nodded. Arya continued, “They are trying to teach you how to overpower your enemy, but you are too little, you must learn differently. You’re good, but you need to perfect your fluidity and speed.”
Rhaella seemed taken aback. Ayra smiled, “I can show you.”
The girl considered it before assenting. As Ayra took out Needle, Rhaella warned, “If you kill me, they’ll burn you alive.”
Arya smirked. “They’d have to catch me first.”
“They'll catch you.” She said it with the surety only a child knew.
“Don’t be so sure.” Arya looked around and then whispered, “I can steal faces.”
For the first time, Rhaella’s guard dropped and her violet eyes sparkled. “Can you show me how to do that too?”
Arya Stark was here and Daenerys couldn’t feel safe. She stayed hidden in her room. Daeron also took measures to avoid the woman, but Rhaella sought her out. It made Daenerys nervous, but she knew it was Rhaella’s father’s blood calling to its kin. Rhaella had her father’s hair and his heart as well. Daenerys often thought of her as Visenya reborn, as she loved her daggers and thrilled in fighting.
It was small wonder she found much in common with the assassin Stark.
That might have been where it stayed, with Rhaella delighting in her new friend, if not for Arya talking of her brother and of the mad Dragon Queen he heroically killed. Rhaella barely kept her temper, Daenerys learned later, but rushed straight to her mother’s door. She pounded on it until Daenerys opened it.
She was shocked to find her strong daughter in tears, “Is it true?”
Daenery didn’t know what Rhaella was talking about, but she ushered her baby girl inside to let her cry without any eyes on her. Rhaella despised weakness as much as any Targaryen, and Daenerys wouldn’t let her daughter’s emotions be public knowledge. They sat on Daenerys’ bed. Rhaella repeated, “Is it true?”
Daenerys comforted her child as she hadn’t in years, bringing her to her breast. “Is what true, my lovely?”
“Did he kill you? Our father, Jon Snow. Was he the one that murdered you?”
Daenerys had always thought Daeron had told his sister what he learned, but clearly she hadn’t known. “Yes,” she answered.
Rhaella began to cry as Daenerys told her the full story of what happened in Westeros. She told her everything: how they met, how they fell in love, the war against the Army of the Dead, the loss that drove her to despair and madness, what evil she did that drove Jon to what evil he did. Rhaella took it all in, her tears eventually drying. When it ended, she mumbled, “I always wondered why you avoided men. Why you flinched when one tried to touch you.”
Daenerys hadn’t realized that her daughter noticed such things. While Daenerys doubted she could still be called the most beautiful woman in the world, as she had in her youth, she was still pretty. She didn’t lack for admirers, but she turned them all away. No matter how lonely her bed got sometimes.
Jon had ruined her for love. She had loved him with everything she had, and it hadn’t been enough. She refused to make that mistake again.
Rhaella wiped away the last traces of her tears, her sorrow turning to anger. “We should kill them all.” Her glare burned. “And we should start with her.”
Daenerys didn’t need to ask who “her” was. “Kinslaying is a grievous sin, my girl.”
“She’s no kin of mine,” Rhaella replied.
Daenerys took her daughter’s cheeks, her thumbs wiping away the last traces of tears. “She is, my girl. She is your cousin. And she’s done nothing to deserve your wrath.”
“She praised your death, mother. That’s enough.”
Daenerys didn’t want her children to make her mistakes. “No, Rhae. It’s not. I had become a monster. My death was deserved.” It took a long time for Daenerys to accept that, but she saw it as the truth now. Jon hadn’t been wrong to stop her.
“It was my death too, mother. She celebrates that I died. Killed by my own father.”
Daenerys found she had no answer to that, but just hugged her child again, grateful to have been granted this gift.
Arya was sad to leave. In Rhaella, she found the family she’d missed. Though the girl had turned icy in their final days together, Arya assumed it was so that it would hurt less when she left. She appreciated it, but didn’t want their time together to end. She sent a runner with a message for the girl to meet her on the docks as Arya helped her men load the ship. In the message Arya indicated it was to say good-bye, but she hoped it might be more.
Rhaella came, riding on a silver steed. A cloaked man followed her on his own black horse, Arya assumed he was a guard though Rhaella could protect herself fine. The man stayed back with the horses as Rhaella walked to the docks. Arya smiled at the sight of the girl she’d grown fond of, leaping from the boat to hug her.
Rhaella didn’t return the hug and seemed to flinch away at the contact. Arya didn’t understand and was hurt by her friend’s actions. But she pulled away.
Her guard was up again, Arya noticed. As bad as it had been when they first met. Rhaella seemed ready for the hidden blade to come out and kill her. Arya didn’t like this change, but still she acted as though nothing was wrong. “We’re setting sail for the east of Ib. It should be quite an adventure.”
“I hope the seas are kind,” Rhaella said in response.
It was polite but showed none of the enthusiasm Arya had hoped for. She asked, “I wanted you to join us. You’re too limited here. Join me. Come adventuring. It’s what you built for.”
Rhaella sighed and took a step back. “I was built for family and love, like most humans. I won’t leave them behind.”
Family. Arya had never heard Rhaella mention a family. She’d certainly never met them. She was hurt. Did she trust her so little? “Why didn’t you introduce me to them?”
“You didn’t want to meet them. You wouldn’t have any love for them, and they wouldn’t have any love for you. Why bother?”
Arya sensed the lie in the girl’s words. “What’s the real reason?”
Rhaella didn’t hide her surprise at being found out. But she recovered quickly and sighed. “The man I intend to marry is here. I won’t leave him.”
“A man,” Arya scoffed. “That’s your excuse? There are plenty of men to be found all over.”
“Perhaps, but I’ve found a good man who loves me. It’s not an excuse, it’s a purpose. Only northern fools throw away love so carelessly as your family.”
A shadow passed over Arya’s face as she thought of the man she threw away. Not that Rhaella could possibly know about Gendry Baratheon. “What do you mean?”
Rhaella didn’t answer her, but she went to her brother’s waiting arms. It was the first time Arya Stark had ever seen Daeron Targaryen. His appearance unsettled her, but she didn’t question it. She merely climbed aboard her ship to return to her journeys and adventures. But the face haunted her, it was so familiar, even though she reassured herself it meant nothing.
The Targaryens were gone.
When she saw Drogon flew over Volantis as she left, she told herself that was coincidence too. After all, it was where the dragon was last spotted. Dragons made nests and stayed near them. She knew he was around here.
The Targaryens were gone.
Daenerys found Daeron with his eyes rolled back, the whites exposed. Rhaella was next to him playing with her daggers. The former queen bit her lip. It was a common sight now, to have one child warg as the other protects their body. She wasn’t thrilled with this change, but knew that she can do nothing to stop them. She didn’t want to stop them, not really. She wanted her children to have every advantage against their enemies.
Daenerys sat on a bench nearby. Rhaella smiled at her mother, but immediately returned her attention back to her knives, letting them dip and twirl around her fingers. Occasionally she’ll bring one to flames before extinguishing them again. Daenerys was quite proud of her warrior daughter, wishing she’d learned to fight.
Time passed before Daeron returned to his body. Rhaella immediately brought her attention to full focus as her brother shuddered as he returned. “Did you find him?” she asked.
Daenerys wondered who him was. Her heart went cold at the thought of them looking for their father, for Jon.
“Yes,” Daeron answered. “We can’t outrun him, Rhae. He’s too powerful.”
Daenerys asked, “Who?”
Her children exchanged looks. They had changed since Arya Stark had visited Volantis’ shores. They seemed to know about the danger Daenerys always tried to protect them from. They turned secretive and suspicious. Even from her.
Daeron answered, “The King of Westeros knows we exist, knows we’re here.”
Daenerys lept to her feet, calling for Drogon. “Arya Stark.”
“No,” Rhaella took her mother’s arms, calming her. “She didn’t know who we were, if she had, she might have killed us.”
“She certainly would have killed you if she knew you were here,” Daeron added.
Daenerys still didn’t like it. “We’ll run. Drogon can take us…”
Daeron interrupted her. “We can’t run. He’ll always find us. He’ll send assassins for us. We are dragons. We don’t run.” Her son stood, looking out to the city he’d always known as home. “I hate Volantis and it’s slaver’s marks. I hate it.” He took a deep breath and turned to his sister and mother. “It’s time to announce ourselves to the world and gather power.” He looked to his mother. “It’s time to live up to your example, mother. We will set the slaves of Volantis free.”
Rhaella jumped up. “We should marry first.” This surprised Daeron as much as Daenerys. “I’m the elder and you the male, I don’t want anyone trying to claim one of us over the other. We will do this together.”
Daeron nodded and moved to kiss his sister. “Together,” he agreed. He took a step back when he saw Daenerys. “It may be best to wait on children until after we finish this.”
Rhaella laughed. “Nonsense. I will ride my dragon as often I can. If the Lord of Light blesses us, then it is his will.”
Daeron blushed. “Rhae, not in front of our mother.”
Daenerys smiled, a rare thing these days. Rhaella reached out to her mother. “Volantis is ruled by three, we need our third.”
Daenerys immediately felt the panic take hold. She was so afraid of what she had done, at the moment of her triumph. “No, the power…” She cut herself off and restarted. “Power is corrupting, my children. I could not handle it, and I will be sure that you stay far from the madness that plagues our family.”
Rhaella stepped closer, lightly touching her mother. “You cannot live in the past. You are the Breaker of Chains, and we will need Drogon.”
Daeron confirmed his sister’s words. “We need to destroy the Three-Eyed Raven. He manufactured your downfall. Perhaps not intentionally, but he did it.” Her son’s violet eyes met hers. “He watches us now. We must stop him, and we will start with Volantis.”
A raven crowed in the distance and Rhaella took it out with an arrow. Daeron said, “He will fail against us, and he’s just beginning to realize that. He didn’t fall to Ice, but he will be destroyed by Fire.”
Daenerys was still afraid. She could not protect her children if the world knew them. She wanted them to stay safe. Rhaella reassured her, “If we look back, we are lost. It’s time for the dragons to rise again. Time to light the last fire.”
“It’s important for the slaves to take their own freedom for themselves. You can’t force any of them. Preach to them as they worship. In Volantis, out of every 5 men, 4 are slaves. Use those numbers.” That was the advice Daenerys gave her children. She thought they might follow it, as she was the Breaker of Chains, she had done this before.
But Daeron had his clever plans and his sister-wife trusted his judgement. He wanted glory. He wanted to announce the return of the Targaryens with all the fanfare he could muster. Daenerys watched her children make mistakes, knowing that failure was a better teacher than a mother’s words. When they first offered an end to slavery peacefully, the masters laughed at her children. “Why would we listen to Westerosi? Everyone knows that backwards country is populated with nothing but barbarians and savages. They sew animals on banners and think that elevates their mud huts to palaces.”
“We are not Westerosi. We are Targaryens. Blood of the Old Valyria, more pure than your own.”
The masters continued to bluster, but they must have feared her children as the assassins came that night. Rhaella slit the faceless man’s throat before he could kill her or her husband-brother. Then came her children’s attack. They selected 10 trusted Fiery Hand guards as they warged into wild elephants, who caused chaos in the rich sections of Volantis.
The back and forth attacks didn’t take long to escalate into all out war.
Daenerys attempted to stay clear of all of it, having enough of war for one lifetime, but when the masters captured Daeron, threatening him to force Rhaella’s surrender, Daenerys climbed aboard Drogon and flew to palace where he was being held. With her dragon at her back, she challenged the masters; the Breaker of Chains born again.
They attempted to kill her son before her eyes, but Drogon was just as protective of his brother as Daenerys was of her son. Dragonfire consumed the masters and the slaves worshiped the Targaryens as the Lightbringers. The followers of the Lord of the Light had always been the most prominent religion in Volantis, but by the time the city became truly free, it was almost the only religion.
Slavers fled and Targaryens followed. Daenerys had conquered Slavers’ Bay and made it Dragons’ Bay. Her children began to conquer the Free Cities and make them truly free. Daenerys revisits the places of her youth, staying in the Great Pyramid of Meereen and seeing that the men and women there still loved her. She wondered if they ever knew what she did in Westeros, or if they did, didn’t care.
Braavos funded her children, hating slavery as well and eager to see dragonfire force the end of the practice. Daenerys supported her children on dragonback, but Rhaella and Daeron had talents of their own. Rhaella was known as the “Little Dragon” as deadly as her brother Drogon, just smaller. Her daggers cut down anyone before and she learned to light them aflame, making her look like she danced with fire as she fought.
Daeron found a Valyrian sword in Pentos, picking up from among the ashes of dragonfire. It suited a Targaryen, as it had a black hilt with an encrusted ruby. He named it “Slavers’ Bane.” It became famous as her children’s reputations grew. Daenerys had seen this climb before, and though she was proud of her children, she worried they would follow her path too closely.
In the moments of quiet between battles, Rhaella and Daeron spoke about Westeros.
It was during a trip to Braavos that Daenerys learned the fate of her precious Unsullied. She immediately set off for Naath. Her children followed on their navy, but Daenerys got their within a day upon Drogon’s back.
The beaches were as beautiful as Missandei had described. Daenerys climbed off of her dragon and bent down to touch the white sand.
“Mysa,” Daenerys look up and saw her old commander. The most loyal man ever to serve her and tears filled her eyes.
“Grey Worm.” She stood and held out her arms for an embrace. He kneels before her instead, the warriors behind him, Unsullied and people of Naath alike, followed him.
She walked over and gently taking his arm and forcing him back to his feet. She hugged him as she said, “I am no longer a queen, and you don’t bow to me, old friend.”
Grey Worm nodded, but Daenerys could tell he didn’t believe her. She looked to beaches again, so pure and untouched, nearly perfect. She thought of Missandei, a woman too good for this horrible world. “I still miss her, sometimes.”
“Me too,” Grey Worm agreed, there was no emotion in his voice, but Daenerys noticed the twitch in his lip. It was near tears for her former commander.
“Missandei told me of the butterflies, can you take me to them?”
He nodded and escorted her to the gardens. They remembered Missandei and caught up on where they had been and what they had been doing.
Grey Worm looked to her chest when she mentioned the scar she now carried and he growled, “I should have killed him for you. Him and that dwarf.”
Daenerys heard the anger, the anger she had since let go of, but lived on in her children. She touched her friend’s arm. “You were the only loyal man I ever really knew, Grey Worm. I could never ask more from you.”
“He swore to never take a wife or father children.” He said, as if reassuring himself that Jon Snow had been punished.
Daenerys looked to sea, where her children with the former king were coming. “Another broken oath from Jon Snow. If my own children weren’t bastards, I might believe all that nonsense about their wicked blood.” And she supposed, if the Bastard of Winterfell had actually been a bastard.
Grey Worm looked to her, waiting for her explanation.
“I was pregnant when I was brought back, my children were brought back with me. They’ll be here in a few weeks.”
“I never should have let him near you, no one. You should have told me of the children. No one would have dared hurt you.”
Daenerys watched the butterflies and their delicate wings for the moment. So beautiful, but so easy to destroy. “I didn’t know. The past is in the past, Grey Worm.” A blue-winged bug landed on her finger. “None of that matters now.”
“I don’t want to rule Westeros, I want to destroy it,” Rhaella said, her eyes glaring at the map before them. The Unsullied and Fiery Hand around her, tapped on the floor in agreement.
Daenerys said, “Westeros is full of innocent people. They don’t deserve your wrath. You must temper yourselves.” Daenerys was struck by how much she sounded like Tyrion once did. If the Lord of Light was true, he had a warped sense of humor.
Daeron, who’d kept mostly silent, sitting with his fingers templed, said, “Westeros is not our enemy. The Raven is.” He stood and pointed to a spot on the map. “The Raven is in King’s Landing. It must burn. He must be destroyed, no matter the cost.” His eyes connected with his mother’s and she understood what he was asking.
“No, I will not do that again.” Daenerys took a step back.
“Mother, it will save more in the long run. You keep talking about your mistakes and not repeating them. Your biggest mistake in the Westeros war was that you didn’t eliminate the threat of Cersei Lannister immediately.”
Daenerys said nothing, but she turned away. She had never wanted to return to Westeros. She just wanted to live in peace with her children. She hadn’t asked for any of this. Daeron touched her arm, making her jump in surprise, “We will never be safe while that king lives. We must do this.”
Daenerys looked to both her children. She clutched at her son’s upper arm. “I know. But you’ll do it without me. They hate and fear me in Westeros. If I come with you, you’ll only ever be the Mad Queen’s children. I won’t pass on such a stain. I know what it is to live under such a cloud.”
Daeron took a step back and Rhaella frowned. “Neither of us can ride Drogon, only you can.”
“Your brother will protect you and listen to your commands.” Daenerys wrapped her arms around herself.
She saw her children grow angry at her for denying them, as she had mostly indulged them before. Daenerys could live with their hate. She knew it was only temporary. The war council ended, but the planning would continue. Rhaella and Daeron Targaryen were the children of Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow, they were determined and stubborn. They would not back down from a fight.
Daenerys wondered if Westeros knew what was coming for them.