Chapter 18: And Full Of Terrors
They were screaming as the city burned. The wildfire tore through Flea Bottom first, weaving its way up the street of steel towards the market district. It burned the Sept of Baelor and the Red Keep, forcing its way to Aerys on the Iron Throne. He laughed as his skin blackened and melted off his bones and rose again as a golden dragon and flew towards the sun.
Aerys woke. He was sitting on the Iron Throne as Edric Stark entered the throne room, empty but for the ghosts, Viserion wrapped around the throne and the two kingsguard who stood vigil.
"Lord Hand," said Aerys, "Have my instructions been carried out?" Edric stared at Aerys. The king was a state. In the six months since Rowena's funeral he hadn't shaved, cut his hair or really washed at all. He spent all his time giving increasingly erratic orders. Erratic orders that were immediately countermanded by Edric.
"They have not your grace," said Edric, "I've instructed the pyromancers to stop making wildfire."Kill him,
said Barristan, He defies us.
"Why have you defied me Hand?" said Aerys.
"Because we don't need wildfire your grace," said Edric, "We're not at war. There's no need."Listen to him,
said Daenerys, He makes excuse after excuse for his treason. Set your dragon on him.
"Silence mother!" said Aerys, "You don't reign here anymore."
"Your grace?" said Edric, "There's no one there."
"Don't pretend you can't see her," said Aerys, "I am tired of people saying they can't see them!" Aerys' voice echoed through the hall. "I'm just so tired Edric."
"I know Aerys," said Edric, "Aemond!" At Edric's call Maester Aemond entered the hall. "Look Aerys, look who I brought from Summerhall."
"Hello brother," said Aemond.
"Aemond," said Aerys, "Can you see them?" Aemond and Edric exchanged looks.
"I was thinking of taking a trip to Dragonstone," said Aemond, "I was hoping you'd join me."
"No I'm sorry," said Aerys, "I'm far too busy here, holding court." He gestured to the near empty hall.
"I'm afraid we must insist," said Aemond, "You need a holiday."He wants the throne for himself,
"Yes, I see," said Aerys, "Edric take my brother into custody."
"Come along Aerys," said Edric, "It doesn't have to come to that."
"Defying me again?" said Aerys, "So be it. Viserion!" The dragon remained sleeping. "Viserion!" Aerys screeched hoarsely. Aemond took a few steps forward.
"It takes a lot of sweet-sleep to knock out a dragon," he said, "But your dragon will be fine."You understand now,
said Barristan, They're turning on you. It's a conspiracy.
Aerys pulled himself to his feet, cutting him self on the throne as he did so.
"Sir Horpe, Sir Royce!" shouted Aerys, "Kill these traitors!" Sir Harrold Royce turned to face Aerys.
"I'm sorry your grace," he said as he and Sir Horpe made their way up the steps of the throne.
"No! What are you doing?" Aerys cried as they each grabbed one of his arms, "Release me! I am your king!" He lashed out with his right leg, hitting Ser Horpe square in the crotch. The knight doubled up and fell backwards crashing to the floor bellow in a heap. Edric ran forward, taking the throne's steps two at a time.
"Damn it Aerys!" he said, "Don't make this harder than it has to be." He twisted Aerys' free arm behind his back and frog marched him down the steps. Gods that man was strong.
"Unhand me!" screamed Aerys as they dragged him away, "Your treacherous dogs! I'll kill you all!"
The Small Council sat in session that evening.
"So his grace did not go quietly?" said Morgan Karstark.
"Unfortunately not," said Edric, "But he will be better able to recover on Dragonstone."
"Will he ever fully recover?" said Lord Creighton.
"It is not unheard of," said Grand Maester Kennet, "He will receive the best care the citadel can provide. Perhaps, with time."
"But if he doesn't," said Eglatine, "Do you intend to rule as Lord Regent until he dies?"
"No," said Edric, "Just until Rhaegar comes of age."
"Until then," Edric continued, "I will continue to uphold the king's laws, the last six months excluded, and I propose we put all changes in law to a vote of the Small Council." Several members nodded in agreement. "Also, I believe young Prince Rhaegar should begin attending these meetings."
"Very good Lord Hand," said Grand Maester Kennet.
"To business then," said Edric, "Do we have any word on Haera Targaryen?"
"No new news," said Lord Andar, "Her bannermen continue to rebel against her and they continue to be crushed by her Dothraki screamers."
"The Dragon's Daughter is unlikely to trouble us any time soon," Lord Creighton.
"Good, good," said Edric, "And Lady Eglatine how are preparations coming for the harvest?"
The bells rang on Dragonstone from the keep. God only knew why. These Westerosi seem to ring the bells any chance they get,
thought Mero, Although they better have a damn good reason for ringing them this late.
Mero rolled back the voluminous sleeves of his red robes, the night service was about to begin.
It was a good turnout, nearly fifty people, all gathered in a circle around the unlit bonfire. Many from Dragonstone had kept to Rh'llor after Stannis was defeated, the majority in fact. And although they were not allowed to practice their faith within the keep's walls a blind eye was turned to their gatherings on the beach by the cliffs. One of Mero's acolytes brought a torch forward. Mero held his arms up and closed his eyes, waiting for the fire to fully catch. When he felt the heat full on his face he began.
"Lord! Cast your light upon us!" he chanted.
"Lord of Light protect us!" chanted back the congregation.
"For the Night is..." a splash and a cry interrupted Mero. He looked round.
"Someone fell from the cliff!" shouted a woman in the congregation. Yes, Mero could see them. Thrashing around out there. Mero pulled his robe over his head, ran towards the sea and dived in. Saving a life is a really easy way to earn a convert,
he thought. He swam out as quickly as he could, finding an old man floating face down. Mero pulled his face out of the water.
"No!" shouted the man, "Let me die." A suicidal?
thought Mero, An even easier conversion.
"Come with me old man," Mero said, dragging the man along as he struggled to be free. He hauled the old man up onto the beach.
"Gods, why won't you let me die?" the old man cried.
"There is only one god," said Mero, "And clearly he has plans for you yet." The old man met Mero's eye. Purple eyes?
thought Mero. And now that he was in the light of the bonfire Mero could see, this wasn't an old man with hair white from age. This was a middle aged Valaryian.
"Your grace!" Mero fell to one knee, "I had no idea." Aerys rose to his feet.
"I doubt your god cares any more about me than any of the others," he said, "I am accursed by my actions."
"You're wrong your grace," said Mero, rising, "The Lord of Light can cleanse his faithful of all sins." He paused. "And of all ghosts." Aerys grabbed Mero.
"What do you know of my ghosts?" he said. His foul breath smothering Mero's face.
"Just what the Lord has shown me," said Mero. Aerys released him.
"And this Red God of yours can make them leave?" said Aerys. A desperate look playing across his face. Got him,
"Yes your grace," said Mero taking Aerys' hand, "come join us."Next chapter: http://citadel.prophpbb.com/post83298.html#p83298