When Rhaenys Targaryen was three years old, the Seven Kingdoms bled out. Her family bled as well. Aegon died as soon as his skull was dashed upon a stone wall, but he was lucky; he didn’t have to wait for death. Elia was raped bloody before her own head was crushed. Rhaeger lay dying in the Trident, the water running red as the rubies that encrusted his armor. Aerys’ throat was slit, right after a sword was driven through his back. Murdered by his own Kingsguard, a man swore to protect the Targaryens.
Yet, the king slayer Jaime Lannister kept his oath that night.
Amory Lorch was more pig than man. Rhaenys could recall the mirth in his pasty flat face as he pulled her out from under her father’s bed. She could also remember the look in his tiny rat eyes as Jaime drove his sword through him.
Jaime took her into his arms and went to the throne room. The room was cold and reeked of blood and death. The stone walls muffled the sacking of King’s Landing. The skulls of the dragons of old watched over them as they waited.
On the Iron Throne, Jaime sat; Rhaenys on one knee and bloodied longsword in his other hand. The child asked many questions; where were Mama and Aegon? Why was Grandfather dead? Could she go to Dragonstone with Grandmother and Viserys?
The only answer she ever got was the sound of Ned Stark bursting into the throne room with dozens of his bannermen.
Jaime gave up the throne (happily even, saying he was keeping it warm for Robert) but not Rhaenys. He insisted that Robert would not be satisfied with the death of Rhaegar and that he would call for Rhaenys’ head as well as those of the remaining Targaryens. Ned Stark was outraged and claimed Robert would never condone the murder of a child.
But Ned Stark was wrong.
Jaime became Stark’s prisoner only if Rhaenys was out of sight before Robert arrived to the Red Keep. The northerner complied, eager to see the oathbreaker pay for his crime.
While Rhaenys was safe in the White Sword Tower, Robert Baratheon demanded her blood. He was supported by Tywin Lannister, the reason for the sacking and the murder of Rhaegar’s family. He had presented Robert with a “gift”; Elia and Aegon (or rather, what was left of them) wrapped in crimson banners. When Tywin mentioned that the princess was nowhere to be found. Ned foolishly told Stag and Lion the truth; Rhaenys was alive; but he had enough sense to keep her whereabouts secret from the Lannister. When Robert drew his sword out screaming his intentions, Ned felt a chill colder than any northern wind.
“She is a child Robert!” Ned said.
“She is dragonspawn Ned, born from the seed of monsters!” Robert screeched. “Her, and Aerys’ bitch and brat on Dragonstone. I want them dead!”
Ned said his peace. Not even Jon Arryn could heal this wound. Robert had his throne; all Ned wanted was to find Lyanna. If Robert wanted to slaughter children, then Ned wanted no further involvement.
But first, he went up to the White Sword Tower. As he promised Jaime, Rhaenys was guarded by two northernmen, one of them being Howland Reed.
“I could have heard him even from here…” Howland said softly. “No doubt the girl did as well...”
“Howland, I need you to ride to Storm’s End this evening. With Robert victorious, Lord Tyrell will be quick to lower his banners. ” Ned said. “I have to take Rhaenys to Sunspear.”
Before Howland could argue, Ned swung the door open. Rhaenys had crawled under the white weirwood table, curled up and hugging her knees.
“Robert would have your head for treason.” Howland muttered.
“Robert be damned.” Ned sighed, as he knelt down to peer under the table. She wasn’t asleep, only staring at nothing with a glassy look in her bloodshot eyes. Ned suspected she didn’t have a tear left in her to shed.
“Hello Princess.” Ned said tenderly.
“Are you going to kill me?” Rhaenys asked, her voice tiny and hoarse. There was no fear in her tone; only weariness. No child should ever ask such a question.
“No Rhaenys.” Ned said. “I’m Ned Stark. I’m here to take you home to Dorne.”
The Red Keep was huge and had no lack of egress. As Howland searched for Ned’s destrier, Ned took off his own cloak, grey and frayed, and wrapped it around the child.
“Where’s Ser Jaime?” Rhaenys asked. Jaime was an oathbreaker, yet he was still the little girl’s savior; Ned recognized that. But he had insisted that Jaime be striped of his white cloak and forced into the Night’s Watch. It was yet another thing that Robert disagreed upon. Ned would not be surprised if Jaime remained in the Kingsguard.
“He’s safe Princess.” Ned said, masking ill will. “But he has to stay here in King’s Landing.”
He carried her outside, into the safety of his bannnermen. They had their questions, but Ned answered to none. Howland had found the horse and was waiting.
“The Dornishmen will want vengeance for Elia and her son.” Howland said as he took Rhaenys from Ned. “Be wary of Doran and Oberyn. The return their niece should spare you of some of their rage.”
"Their deaths were Tywin Lannister’s doing.” Ned said bitterly as he mounted his destrier. “Fealty for the new king and I fear Robert will protect him.”
Howland sighed. “War has poisoned Robert’s heart. I pray his Lady Lyanna will restore him.” He lifted Rhaenys into Ned’s outstretched arms. Riding double with a small child was dangerous, but Ned made sure she was carefully sat upon the saddle.
“We shall meet again in the Red Mountains.” Ned said, bidding his farewell to Howland. He wish to share Howland’s prayers but Lyanna was stolen and hidden away for moons; would Robert be able to mead her heart as well? Would he still even want her after being disgraced by Rhaegar?
Ned spurred his horse, leaving the Red Keep and Robert in the distance. By the time Robert realized what Ned had done, Rhaenys would be nearing the protection of her uncles, their bannermen, and their sand steeds, and double-curved bows. Robert would be an utterly mad fool if he wished to wage a war for a child’s head.