Chapter Six – A Dragon Born
Aegon sat at the table long into the night, long after he had ordered Illyrio thrown out of the camp. Long after he had ordered the arrest of Lord Varys. Long after he had personally commanded that his Kingsguard returned to their tents and leave him be for the night. The wine flask that Illyrio had brought to the table was empty, lying sideways on the table. Egg's mind was still racing from the events of the day, trying to come to terms with the events that had led to everything becoming so much more complicated.I fought the battle,
Aegon began internally. I was separated from my guard and nearly killed by archers – again – and Jon saved me, at the cost of his own life.
The irony was not lost on Aegon. A Blackfyre...
he thought. I am a Blackfyre... that explains my seeming fondness for being shot by archers,
he mused dryly, recalling that The Black Dragon and his twins Aegon and Aemon were both killed by arrows fired by their loyalist uncle Brynden. And Aegor Bittersteel fell to an archer company in the Free Cities.
Egg briefly debated killing himself, but quickly discarded that idea after recalling his pregnant wife. And Westeros does not know... Only I... It could stay that way.
Egg's thoughts were interrupted by Rolly, who peeked into the tent. The Targaryen host was to endure a forced march to the capital to board a hastily-assembled sell-sail fleet for Dragonstone, and the sun was rising. “Your grace, I hate to interrupt, but this is rather urgent. The Loyalist Lords Cave and Boggs have died in the battle with no near kin. Lord Snow is camping in Harrenhal as we speek and...”
Aegon, sitting atop Shadow, had come to a conclusion. The realm would not follow him if it knew of his true bloodline. The story concocted by his father and uncle would be sufficient to ensure his validity could not be disproven. The thought that Jon died fighting for a lie would haunt him until the day he himself he died, but as Jon had once said, the past is in the past, and the future was what he would make it, and the future need not be marred by the tragedy that had scarred the realm in the past. The gates of King's Landing came into sight from the distance. Soon Stannis Baratheon, whom all of the pardoned Varys' “little birds” had agreed had fled to Dragonstone, would learn the nature of the words of his house.
Tommen, whom Aegon had taken as a food taster (and a hostage against his mother's family) and his sister Myrcella who was serving as a lady in waiting for the restored royal court, were sitting in a corner talking. Two guards entered the tent, one on either side of a lady of golden hair. “Your grace, the traitor Cersei Lannister would like to speak to you.”
Aegon nodded. “You may leave, Sers, I can handle it from here. Aegon partially drew Blackfyre to show the guards he was capable of defending himself before sheathing the blade.
“What may I do for you, Lady Lannister?”
Myrcella and Tommen turned their heads up to watch the situation unfold. Myrcella had made Aegon promise not to harm her mother, much to his hesitance, but he couldn't bring himself to kill the mother of such a kind girl, and no matter how wicked the deeds Cersei had committed, they were against the treasonous Baratheons, not House Targaryen, and the woman could not be punished for the murders of her own father Tywin. Lady Cersei had instead been allowed to inherit the West, designate a regent, and serve as an “honored guest” in the King's court with her children.
Cersei's voice was venom. “Your grace.” She stressed the “s” to make it sound like a hiss. “By right of birth and blood, I hereby demand a trial by combat, as it is obvious I cannot count on you for justice.”
The command tent was shocked into silence. Aegon broke it. “Are you sure, Lady Lannister? If your champion fails, I will have no choice but to punish you for your crimes against the Baratheons. Given the severity, that will mean your head.”
“I am sure!” She replied. “Ser Lyonel Frey will be my champion.” A man of no more than 18 stepped forward from the group of commanders in the tent. “Aye, I will stand for her.”
“We meet at midday. The champion of the crown will by Loras Tyrell, the Knight of Flowers.”
The prideful, arrogant look on the Lioness's face disappeared and the color drained from her face.
“Mother, NO!” Myrcella shouted, unable to control herself any longer, but Cersei did not respond, and instead walked out of the tent with her champion following close behind.
Ser Lyonel Frey lay in a bloody heap, dead on the dirt of the ring, the cold air causing the blood flowing from his neck to begin coagulating. Ser Loras Tyrell bowed to the king, before leaving the makeshift ring. The entire camp was watching, gathered around, pressing to see the ring and the king when he reached his verdict.
Myrcella stood behind him, crying, being comforted by her brother Tommen. She turned to Aegon. “Please spare her. Make her a silent sister or something, but please don't kill her.” Egg felt bitter inside. On the one had, the woman was a whore even by Dornish standards (according to Arianne) and she had already attempted to seduce the king, Ser Rolly, and Ser Rory in order to escape her pre-trial imprisonment. On the other, the king had grown rather fond of Myrcella's company as a person, because she was a very witty little girl and had a compassion that few raised royally could possess.
“I, Aegon, Sixth of My Name, King of the Andals, the Rhoynar, and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm do hereby sentence you to die.” He looked towards the twins behind him, before continuing. “You have a week to say your goodbyes and make peace with your children and the gods. May the Seven have mercy on you, for I surely cannot. In that time you will have free leave to wander the camp and Red Keep wherever you please so long as you keep a knight of the Kingsguard by you at all times.”
“Your brother Tyrion, for his good advice to me in Volantis, will be given the Westerlands, and your two daughters by Daven Lannister will be passed over in the line of succession.”
Jaime Lannister, the Kingslayer, the Dishonorable, the Demon of Riverrun, was kneeling in front of the Iron Throne. Beside him stood Ser Rolly Duckfield and Ser Jonos, the newest addition to the royal Kingsguard. Seated on the Iron Throne, Aegon was resplendent in his royal garment.
“Ser Jaime Lannister, you stand accused of high treason and heinous dishonor, the breaking of your oaths time and again, the murder of a sworn brother of the Kingsguard, Ser Terrence, and the attempted murder of your king. Have you anything to say before I pass judgment?”
Jaime was quiet, not responding. Rolly slammed the hilt of his blade into Jaime's back, causing the latter to fall to the floor. Another moment passed before he brought himself back up. Eyeing King Aegon with contempt, he spoke up. “Does it matter?” He pushed himself to his feet, earning himself the ireful look of Ser Rolly, but Aegon waved his leal knight off from the abuse he was going to subject Jaime to. He is already missing one of his hands, and the other is broken. He is of no danger to me, and his pride is all he has left.
“Then I stand ready to pass judgment. Before I do, you must know that I have learned of the Wildfire plot you saved the city from, but the murder of the king was not necessary, only his incapacitation. Furthermore, any crimes you have committed in your campaign in Riverrun are pardoned due to the fact that it was war. That leaves your disregard of your vow to defend I and my deceased sister, as well as your murder of Ser Terrence.” Aegon paused for a breath. “While I could sentence you to death for any single one of these acts, and indeed it will be viewed as weakness if I do not, I have received requests from those on my Kingsguard as well as your bastard children to spare your life. I therefore, with no other viable option, do give you the choice to take the Black or lose your head.”
The court was silent. They had expected Aegon to simply declare the Kingslayer a traitor and lop off his head. Always fun to defy expectations,
“I choose to take the Black. When do I leave.”
“A week. You will have time to say your goodbyes to your children.”
The Castle had fallen quickly and without much of a fight. The men of Westeros, even those most loyal and honorable, knew a lost cause when they saw one. And Stannis Baratheon was just that. It would be a Rhllor king with common features and the support of only one (the least populous) kingdom, against the rest of the war-torn realm. The lords of Dragonstone had delivered Baratheon chained and gagged after a bloody coup within the walls of the ancient Targaryen fortress-island. And with that the war was finally over.
Aegon had returned to the capital after his campaign to find a massive Northern host besieging his impoverished city. After his showing Stannis Baratheon to it's leader, Lord Jon Stark, it had laid down arms and allowed traffic into the city. Jon Snow and the other leaders of Stannis' rebellion as well as Baratheon himself now sat in the council chamber, awaiting judgment.
Egg entered the room, nodding the guards off, claiming a seat at the front. “Lords gathered here today, you stand accused of high treason against the crown. It has been repeatedly raised by my council that I should lop off your heads and call it a day...” Aegon paused, looking around at the facial reactions of the lords. Some were terrified, some angry, but among them all, only one was indifferent – Lord Stark.
“However, in the interest of binding the realm back together, I pardon you all, save for one. Lords Chyttering, Farring, Meadows, Massey, Follard, and...” He eyed Jon. “Stark. You will be allowed to renew your oaths of fealty, give the throne a hostage, and return home.”
He turned to Stannis. “You will be kept imprisoned under the Red Keep. You and your future get, if you have any, are hereby attained and disinherited, and all your titles shall return to the crown to be handed out to leal lords. The Stormlands will be handed to Lord Paramount Raymund Connington, and your daughter Shireen wed to him to secure his claim.”
Aegon knelt in the Great Sept praying to the Seven with the High Septon.
“I hear your grace plans to give the West to the kinslayer, Tyrion the Imp.”
“You hear right, your holiness. He has done me a great good.”
The two raised up from the altar to the Mother and proceeded to that of the Father.
“If I may ask, what great good is it that pardons him from the heinous act of kinslaying?”
“I wouldn't say it pardons him, Your Holiness, but I do advocate in rewarding acts of good and punishing the vile separately, treating each as though the other has no bearing. At least that is what I was taught across the Narrow Sea.”
The High Septon turned to look at His Grace, kneeling in front of the altar. Aegon followed suit. “And what is the punishment for kinslaying?” His Holiness asked.
“Death. But with your agreement, I would like to commute that down to his handing over his niece as a hostage.” Aegon replied. “Loyal lords are hard to come by, and it is my intention to end the bloodshed in the realm, and to do that, I cannot have long regencies over vast portions of it.”
“And you would have me...”
“Allow him back into the Faith on the condition that he makes a walk of repentance.”
Lords Swift and Ashermark knelt before the Iron Throne, giving fealty to the king. “Rise,” Aegon began. “I get ever so tired of looking down upon my subjects. Why have you come here? Not for the wine, I suppose,” Aegon said, pointing out the lack of alcoholic beverages the city had been experiencing of late.
Lord Harys Swift spoke up. “We have been leal to our lieges for decades, your grace, but the man you named our liege troubles us. He murdered his own father in cold blood. We cannot...” He gulped. “We will not bow before him. Name any Lannister as his replacement, or any man in general. We would rather follow a commoner over a kinslayer.”
“You will not
? As in, you are refusing a command of your king?”
“No your grace, it's just...”
“Then you will?”
Aegon laughed. “Make up your mind, Ser, should I lop off your head or send you home to your family.” If looks could kill, my dear “aunt” would inherit the throne.
“Your armies will return home, Lord Swift, or you will feel the full might of the Iron Throne descend upon you. Lord Lannister will take no action against you, and neither will you against him. This matter is settled, your king has made his decision.”
Lancel Lannister sat on his lion-adorned chair in Darry. Before him were two knights of the Kingsguard, the lowborn Ser Jonos the Red and Ser Rory Valkyn, as well as the bastard Ser Willamen Rivers, last of the Darry bloodline.
“We bring a message from his grace,” Rivers said, handing a scroll to Lannister, who quickly devoured the piece of text.
“He can't do this!” Lancel shouted.
“Oh, he can and he has,” one of the Ser Jonos the Red of the Kingsguard said.
“This is Tyranny!” Lancel shouted. His knights bowed to Rivers, now Darry.
“You can keep the High Lordship, but you must find a new seat. Darry is mine.” Rivers said. The knights formerly sworn to Lord Lannister and the Darrys before him escorted Lancel out of the castle as well as his small Western retinue.
The small council room was empty, save for Aegon, the recently released Spymaster Varys, Gorys Edoryen, Master at Arms Rolly Duckfield, the Master of Laws and Hand of the King Prince Doran, and the pregnant Queen Arianne.
“We will need Daenerys' dragons. But I cannot marry her,” Aegon started, his voice tired. Ruling was hard, ruling well even harder. Egg had recently returned from the Blackwood Vale where he had personally put down a rebellion by Lord Bracken, who was attempting to end House Blackwood and seize their titles. He had also had to deal with the Tullys, who had seized Riverrun from the Freys and were hell-bent on reclaiming the Trident from Lord Baelish. Only a threat of royal intervention stayed Blackfish and Edmure's hand. Along the way, the Targaryen host had hung thousands of robber knights and slavers from the trees to clear the roads for traffic, and during the entire march peasants and minor lords petitioned Aegon for audiences and addressed him with their grievances. Though he found the stories interesting at first, and enjoyed passing judgments, it quickly grew tiring.
“Well, you could, but you would have to put the Dornish wench aside,” Gorys said, pointing at Arianne. The insult made Doran grip the armrests of his seat in anger.
“I hear that tongues have a tendency towards removal,” Arianne said, drawing a dagger. Aegon placed a hand on her shoulder, stopping her from carrying out her threats. “He is not worth it,” Aegon whispered into her ear.
Rolly broke the awkward silence. “My opinion on the matter is that Daenerys is no threat. She is caught up in her wars in the Free Cities, and her crusade against slavery will be her downfall.”
“My little birds report that the dragon Queen was wroth upon hearing of your taking the throne... Some say she fed the messenger to her dragons.” Varys spoke up, sipping at a cup of wine.
“We could try and win her trust,” Jonos said. “Send a knight of the kingsguard to protect her.”
“And if she still invades? She will have one more knight by her side and Aegon will have one less.” Edoryen shouted.
Harry Strickland entered the room, his clothing half on. Turning to Aegon he began to apologize for his lateness, but the monarch waved it off and gestured for him to join them when he got his shirt on. I wonder what he did last night?
“I could go ask for a dragon,” Aegon joked, but Varys stopped him.
“That is a great idea...”
“It is?” Gorys interrupted.
“It is.” Varys confirmed, retrieving a piece of parchment to sketch out something.
When he was finished, he pushed the paper to the center of the table, showing the council. “This is a map of Essos,” he started. “Daenerys is here, besieging Astapor” Varys pointed to an area south from Meereen on the map. “Daenerys is hiring mercenaries, or so my birds say...” He looked at his king. “I suggest you form a small army of maybe eight hundred knights and go to Meereen claiming to be sellswords.” Storm the Great Pyramid, secure it, and in the chaos that follows mount one of her dragons and...”
“Fly out.” Doran interrupted. “What of the knights who accompany him?”
“He can provide them cover from the air. Give them a way to escape.”
Aegon thought about it for a moment. “You are crazy. Many Targaryens were unable to tame dragons at all. What if I am like them and I face a dragon?”
“That is a risk I think you will have to take, your grace.” Harry replied. “I will have my most trusted commanders draw out the plans. Also, we need to get an official coronation for you. The makeshift coronation we gave you shortly after you took the capital will not do for the long term. I will arrange one for when you return. The High Septon seems to like you, which is a good sign.”
“In that case, it might be a good idea to send a knight to Daenerys, to throw her off about any plans against her,” Doran said.
“Aye, I nominate Ser Jonos the Red,” Rolly said.
“As do I,” Doran agreed.
“And I,” Gorys voiced.
“Then it is settled. I'll give the order as soon as this session of the council ends,” Aegon said.
Aegon stood beside his wife as she passed the child to him. It was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen, and he was overcome with emotion. “What should we name him?” Aegon asked. Varys was standing away from the two, to the side.
“If I may make a suggestion, your grace, whatever it is should be a traditional Targaryen name. May I suggest Rhaegar?”
“You may make that suggestion, Varys, but I need not follow it.” Aegon took a minute to think about it, as he rocked the child in his arms. “Jon,” he said. “For my fallen friend and mentor. Little Jon.” And it was decided.
Aegon Targaryen now had more at stake than just his life. That of his son was at stake as well. He left the docks for Meereen with renewed determination to get what he was leaving for and to return alive. Beside him Rolly stood, as loyally as ever, as he prepared to go on what very well could be the biggest and most important adventure of his life.
The ships docked in Meereen, flying the banners of a make-believe sellsword company. Aegon did not wear the royal regalia of his ancestors, but something more reminiscent of the tattered shirts and torn pants of his youth. His hair dyed blue, he was the first to leave the ship for land, followed by Rolly and a column of similarly-dressed soldiers. He was greeted by a dark-skinned man who spoke in the bastard Valyrian of the Ghiscari. Recognizing a few words, Aegon continued in the Pentosi dialect that he knew best, though the man was having a hard time understanding him.
A translator arrived after a moment who spoke decent Pentosi Valyrian. “We are the Fellowship of the Five,” Aegon said, answering the man's question as to who they are. The translator relayed this to the man, who was apparently the dock manager. “We are here to offer our swords to your Queen.”
“Right, this way, the translator said, following the dock manager. The column of knights, eight hundred strong, followed close behind, getting stares from nearby merchants and whores.
Aegon stood at the entrance to the dragon pit, Ser Rolly beside him. Meereen was not well-defended, given the position of Daenerys' armies in the south, and the army had easily-enough captured the main gate and the streets all the way to the Great Pyramid. Now, Aegon was preparing to enter the pits. “Wish me luck,” he joked as he descended into the darkness with a torch in hand.
****Why in the seven hells did I agree to this plan?
Aegon asked himself as he looked for one of the beasts. She has two untamed, where are they?
He heard a growl behind him, but when he looked, there was nothing. He stepped on something. Looking down, the color drained from his face as he realized what it was. A skull...
He turned around, and this time he saw it. The beast was nearly triple his size, and its dark green scales made it look almost black in the darkness. It's great eyes almost glowed in the dark, and flames licked its lips. It took a step towards him.
Aegon was unable to move, frozen in terror at what he was seeing. “Oh fuck,” he said, stepping backwards until his spine was pressing against the wall. It approached, getting closer and closer to the terror-struck king. The monster roared, knocking Egg back to his senses. Oh shit.
he thought, stepping to the side right before a wave of dragon-flame incinerated the wall he had just been standing against.
Without thinking, he ran under the beast, dancing between it's legs as it roared and attempted to move out of its own way to burn him. Grabbing its tail, Aegon held on for dear life as it swung the appendage around, trying to throw him off. Aegon, despite this, began climbing up, onto its back. Then, after he was seemingly securely positioned, the beast took flight, trying to slam him into the ceiling. Egg ducked and pressed himself against it's warm body, nearly falling off, but somehow managing to cling to a green scale.
The beast continued struggling for another minute, before it landed. “Stop fucking moving,” Aegon ordered in High Valyrian and it... stopped. He began directing it towards the entrance.
“Rolly, if I were you I would get the fuck out and start the men back towards the boats!” Aegon shouted to the men on the surface. “This thing is pissed!”
It cleared the rubble of the pyramid's base, breathing flame into the air, roaring, and following the king's directions. Meerenese soldiers were beginning to rally against the invaders, as evidenced by the skirmish breaking out along the entire length of the main road. “Fly,” Aegon commanded, as the beast used its tail to knock the surrounding Ghiscari to the ground. “Either fly, or we both die,” Aegon continued in Valyrian. And it lifted off.
The green beast, still not sure of its new rider, tried to knock him off, doing a three-sixty in the air, and diving towards the ground seven times before flying straight up. The air became colder, and Aegon held onto the beast for dear life. The ground below became small, and the battle raging in the city looked like a skirmish between ant colonies...
Aegon began having trouble breathing. With all the air he could muster, he shouted: “Dracarys!” and the beast plummeted towards the Earth, shooting jets of red and blue flames into the air it was descending through, forcing Aegon to hug the beast's scales tightly or risk being burned. “Level off, level off,” he ordered right before it slammed into the ground, and the beast obeyed, somehow understanding his Valyrian dialect. The beast flew about a hundred feet above the skirmish now, and Aegon began commanding it and guiding the beast as it shot flame at the Ghiscari allies of its “mother”, paving the way for the Westerosi retreat.Did I...
Aegon thought. Did I... just tame a dragon?