Shireen had five namedays when she first wandered below, into the Dragonmont. The heat of liquid fire pressing into her little face was one of her oldest memories.
The Dragonmont had been one of her favorite places to go ever since. True, it was hot, but Shireen had found she didn't mind the heat so much, particularly once she stopped thinking about it. Most of Dragonstone was chilly, with ocean breezes, mist, and fog constantly blowing about the island with few trees to bear the brunt of the cold. So yes, the Dragonmont was almost friendly by comparison in its warmth.
The tunnels of the Dragonmont twisted and turned, diving backwards and forwards with abandon. Shireen hadn't seen all of the passage ways, but she had thoughts of one day making a map of the tunnels. There were whole caverns littered with different colored gem-like glass, in shades of green, red, black, yellow, violet, blue. When Shireen was eight she brought some of the blue glass to a tradesman near the ports and asked him to make it into a flower. She gave the flower to her mother as a gift, a blue forget-me-not brooch, a symbol of Selyse Florent's house. Selyse had accepted the gift stiffly, but the awkwardness of her acceptance told Shireen that if her mother was stiff, it was out of surprise, not discomfort.
When Shireen was seven, she had the thought of bringing some of the glass to Maester Cressen.
"What is this, Shireen?" the old man asked her.
"Glass, I think."
Maester Cressen peered more closely at the glass. "Ah, yes. You are largely correct. It is glass- but not ordinary glass. This is obsidian, sometimes called "dragonglass". I imagine if you asked a servant what it was, that's what they would call it."
"Oh. Is it very different from ordinary glass?"
"Well, it gets its color by natural means rather than dyes and such, I think. I'm sorry, child. I don't know terribly much about glass making. If I did, I could tell you more."
"That's alright, Maester."
"Where did you find this?"
"Here on the island. Merely lying around." It was technically true. Shireen didn't tell people about the Dragonmont. It was her secret special place. She hadn't even told Devan about it.
The maester nodded sagely. "That does not surprise me. This castle sits atop a smoking mountain. Their fires can produce obsidian. I'm sure that if one were to explore the ruins of Valyria- not that you should ever do that, young lady, as they are exceedingly dangerous- you could likely find massive quantities of obsidian. The Valyrians built their empire upon the Fourteen Flames, mountains just like this one. When those flames died, the Valyrian Empire died with them. When one thinks about it, twas only fitting that the remaining Valyrians should choose a different smoking mountain upon which to rebuild." The remainder of that particular afternoon was devoted to studying the Valyrians, the empire, and their fall.
So the glass was dragonglass, different from ordinary glass.
The liquid fire of the Dragonmont gave off an orangey glow, bright enough to see by. Sometimes, when Shireen's mother was being particularly overbearing, Shireen would take a book and wander down into the caves and read for hours by the light of that thick ooze. Time would pass by without Shireen noticing because the light never faded as the sun did. No one ever came looking for her beneath the Dragonmont.
One day when Shireen was ten, she went down a new path. She had a candle with her because she knew she was going exploring and not all the tunnels were so well lit as those coves she read in. Shireen took a right turn and then a left, then went straight for what felt like a very long time.
Finally, Shireen stopped at the opening of a cavern and stepped in. The cavern was warm and bright, but very large- large enough to feast all of Stannis Baratheon's vassals, and likely a goodly number of his men and his smallfolk, too. A wide river of fire snaked its way across the floor. Shireen did not dare attempt to cross it, but she approached the breach without fear.
There were little outcroppings in places- from the walls or over the fire- where Shireen could see large stones, each smaller than her head but larger than her fist, sitting in groups. When Shireen touched one, it was warm. This didn't strike Shireen as odd. After all, the whole room was warm. Why shouldn't these stones be as well?
The stones varied somewhat in size and coloring, even within groups. Shireen saw red, bronze, gold, cream, silver, black, green, blue, white colored stones. Some had swirling designs on them, some were plain, some seemed smooth, some rough. Shireen chose a stone that was medium in size, silver with white streaks. It was quite smooth and pretty and when she turned it, it shimmered like the sun on the sea. So Shireen picked it up from its group and tucked it into a bag she had brought with her.
Shireen brought the stone to her chamber, not to Maester Cressen, though for what reason she couldn't quite say. It simply felt right. She looked through trunks and drawers, pulling out old dresses that were too small for her and made a bundle of them and put them near the fire and set the stone there, where it could gleam and glimmer in the fire's light. Because it felt right.
And if Shireen scraped herself on a brick and if blood welled up from that scrape and if that blood was dripped onto the stone and if the stone drank that blood lustily, then Shireen never noticed and never thought to wonder.