Aegon felt the cold spray of the river as Rhagal flew within a hairs breadth from the water's surface. She pulled up just short of the bridge veering right towards one of the towers. Rhaegal perched herself roughly upon one of the towers and Aegon slid off her back. He landed on the roof with unsure footing and stumbled, he was sure that he would fall over the edge when a he felt a hand clasp him by the wrist. Another hand grasped him by the shirt and Aegon looked up two pairs of grey eyes.
"What in the Seven Hells were you thinking?" Arya snapped as she helped Jon pull
"She told us not to remove the chain until we were sure we could dismount safely." Jon chided once Aegon was safely on the roof.
"There was a loose tile."Aegon said weakly. Arya rolled her eyes and audibly scoffed while Jon laughed.
"What are you two doing up here?" Aegon asked.
"I just came to keep my sister company." Jon said looking towards Arya with a raised brow, but she refused to state her purpose. Arya walked towards the roofs edge and dropped down to a window sill below her. Jon motioned for Aegon to follow down, the three sat on the window sill and looked out over the water.
Aegon looked behind him into the bedroom. The room was dark and Aegon saw the outline of three wolves sleeping atop a man. He peered closer and recognized the mop of thick black hair as Ser Gendry's.
"Why are we outside his room?" He asked trying to contain his dislike for the man.
"My sister is afraid that he'll slip across to the other side. I keep telling her that she is being ridiculous. I died years ago and I feel fine." Jon opened his coat a bit and showed Aegon several scars along his chest.
"You sleep differently, you used to move around like me. You're too still. Gendry is more outspoken. He used to keep his anger buried but now it's closer to the surface." Arya said fixing her gaze on the moon. Aegon looked back at the dark room and then towards Arya, her brows were drawn together and she bit on her lip in worry. Aegon felt a twinge of jealousy that he immediately buried.
"That could easily be him growing up. You have not seen him since you were ten. People change Arya."
"Not much." she grumbled Jon leaned over and kissed her on the forehead before ruffling her hair and getting up.
"Don't stay up too late, we march tomorrow." He squeezed Aegon's shoulder and left.
Aegon watched the sky together with Arya and wondered when he could break the silence. She had a secret, one Jon, Daenerys and even Gendry knew, but he didn't. He was the odd man out.
"What was Braavos like?" He asked tentatively, Arya merely shrugged. Aegon would not take a shrug for an answer, he leaned into her line of sight and gave her a stern look that earned him nothing but an eye roll. Aegon did not relent, Arya leaned against the window pane and closed her eyes.
"The people don't kneel and scrape and cringe whenever the nobles pass, everyone was once a slave so those titles mean less. Whores and bastards aren't seen as less than or an eyesore. When Westerosi see courtesans they don't understand and call them a whores, then they die at the hands of a bravos or a blade in a dark alley. I doesn't matter if you worship The Seven, The Red God, my father's trees or nothing at all. You can walk into that city and become someone else. Braavos is freedom for anyone in need."
"Who did you become?"
"No one,...and everyone. I was a beggar, an actress, a handmaiden, fisherman's daughter, courtesan, whore, merchant, and shadow." Arya turned to look at him with cold grey eyes and Aegon felt a chill.
"I learned to change my face as easily as some women change their hair. I worshiped only death and I killed many men and women. Do I need to say more?"
"I would not think they would let you go." Aegon said looking away from her to gather himself.
"I swore to take their secrets to my grave. If I speak of my training in any great detail my life is forfeit. I won't talk about it anymore." Aegon nodded in agreement. The silence became uncomfortably long and Aegon was struck with an idea.
"What was Jon like? At Winterfell."
The cold look in Arya's eyes disappeared and she smiled with obvious warmth. It was a beautiful smile and one that Aegon thoroughly enjoyed for the night as she regaled him with tales of Winterfell.
"Aegon! You're Veering too far!" Aegon woke up with a quick inhale an looked about. He was strapped into his saddle and Daenerys was beside him atop of Drogon with a concerned look.
"Your veering too far East." Daenerys repeated.
Aegon looked about and noticed that he could not even see their troops or the river. Daenerys let out a sigh. "We should head back to the men, we've scouted far enough ahead for the day. Drogon and Rhaegal are feeling peckish."
Aegon nodded groggily, he could sleep on the barge.
Rhaegal hovered over the center barge while Aegon unbuckled the clasps keeping him in his saddle. He slid of and landed with a thud at the center of the roof of the home built atop the barge. Daenerys insisted that she did not need to sleep on the barge and that she was comfortable atop Drogon, but Aegon still could not sleep on Rhaegal.
Willas was inside playing cyvasse with Tyrion, both men greeted Aegon with a quick bow of the head and a friendly smile before returning to their game. Aegon smiled to himself grateful that he left Connington behind, he would have insisted they rise and bow properly. Aegon loved Connington like a father but he could not relax when necessary. He glanced at the cyvasse board and noticed Tyrion had cornered Willas but Aegon was certain that Willas was drawing Tyrion in for a finishing blow. Both men seemed to be at a standstill.
"How was your ride?" Willas asked while Tyrion glared at the board with obvious hatred.
"I fell asleep and flew too far off course before I noticed." Aegon said before throwing himself on one of the cushion piles he liked having around.
Tyrion smiled at that, "Up a little late were we? Arya seems to be having the same problem, she just woke an hour ago and made her way to shore."
Aegon leaned his head back instead of answering the smaller mans insinuations and dozed off.
He woke a few hours later to Jon shaking him."Daenerys and Drogon left us an auroch to roast, come and eat."
Aegon rose and stretched his limbs allowing some parts to crack. His arse was saddle sore and back ached like an old mans. Aegon made his way towards the front of the barge where several men were eating around an auroch that was still roasting. Three of the Stark dire-wolves were tearing into hunk of flesh while Arya sat cross-legged between them and Gendry, eating with the same gusto as her pets. Daenerys took a few dainty bites and occasionally offered a kerchief to Arya who had meat juices all over the lower half of her face. Tyrion, and Jon were speaking animatedly to each other while Willas furiously sketched the wolves.
Aegon took a seat in between Jon and Daenerys and grabbed a large rib. Arya handed him a Dornish pepper with a wicked grin, Gendry shot him a warning look before quickly returning to his own rib. Aegon smiled and cracked the pepper before placing it over the hot coals. He turned and asked for some salt for his pepper and took the occasional bite from his pepper with his meat. Arya looked disappointed while Gendry snickered.
"Shut up Stupid!"
"Did you forget his mother was Dornish?" Daenerys interjected with smile while her friend pouted.
"I had to wipe my nose about a dozen times after she conned me into eating one of those." Gendry said nudging Arya conspiratorially, "How do you manage?"
"Ate them everyday growing up." Aegon said as congenially as he could, he would give Gendry a chance, just the one. "You develop a taste for them, given enough time they become essential to every meal."
"I liked how they burned when I was a child but Viserys insisted that I looked ridiculous every time I ate them. I'd become red in the face, tears would spring to my eyes, my nose would run and I would still ask for more with a smile." Daenerys looked longingly at one of the peppers but politely refused when Aegon offered her one. "It would not be a very regal image." she insisted till Arya, Aegon and Jon all tossed peppers at her. She finally relented nibbling as delicately as possible.
"The other children in Braavos would challenge each other to see how many we could eat in one sitting, I was sick for two days from them and I still love them. " Arya said placing her pepper on the coals as well before taking a napkin Daenerys offered and wiping her face off.
"I want to try lizard lions when we arrive at Greywater Watch" Arya said as she leaned against Jon to relax while she finished her meal with the roasted pepper.
"We should not overstay our welcome, The Reeds can not support such a massive force for long. The rest of our army will meet us at White Harbor before sailing for Eastwatch by the Sea." Jon said tossing his bone to the wolves and wiping his hands.
"How useful would the Crannogmen be against the Others?" Aegon asked, he had heard of their fighting techniques and did not think they would provide much help.
"The Crannogmen will defend the Neck as they always have." Jon said with a degree of finality. Should any Lannister forces march or we fail, they will do what is necessary."
"Though a few will come with me to oust Stannis while you lot march on the Wall." Arya said with a yawn.
"You're not coming with us?" Aegon asked with some disappointment.
"No, she won't." Jon said with a hint of steel in his voice. "She will hold Winterfell with Rickon and stay safe." Arya rolled her eyes but did not seem to argue against her brother instead she closed her eyes and dozed off.
Aegon enjoyed the rest of his meal in relatively good company. Jon and Gendry seemed to be of a similar mindset, they tended to be sparse with their words unless prompted to speak. He was sure that Tyrion and Willas were the cleverest people he would ever encounter. Arya and Daenerys seemed to keep their secrets and Aegon felt a little left out. He had grown up surrounded by scholars, nights, anyone who could advance his training. He did not have many opportunities to spend time with children his own age and often didn't know how to enter a new group, the people in front of him had grown up with siblings.
Gendry and Daenerys got on the topic of dragon armor, he insisted that Drogon would need to be fitted again within the year since he was growing so fast. "His old armor could be passed to Viserion or Rhaegal, but they should all be fitted for adjustable plates, something scaled that can grow with them instead of discarded once it starts to pinch." Gendry snatched a few plates up to demonstrate. "Layer them so that they don't impair movement and can be added to at anytime. Scaled armor is always better than chainmail and I prefer it to plate or studded leather, it is the easiest to mend."
Aegon listened closely to Gendry's argument and was impressed, if nothing else the man knew his tradecraft. Nymeria collapsed on Gendry's lap with a yawn and dozed off while he scratched her ears and continued his conversation. "The Dragon glass can be worked easily enough into daggers and arrows, but that will do little good in a battle. You could work the obsidian into clubs to give you more range."
This perked Jon's interest and he leaned in. "It breaks easily enough but if the club were flipped we could always use the other side."
"What about traps?" Aegon asked in an attempt to join.
"What do you mean?" Jon asked turning towards him.
"Like bear traps but with Dragon glass at the bottom of the pit instead of pikes, or the teeth of a trap traded out for dragon glass."
"Excellent!" Jon said with a rare smile.
"Trebuchets should be added to the Wall and Winterfell," Tyrion added while Willas searched desperately through his sketches.
"Here, a new design of mine." Everyone leaned over to spy the war machine "a repeating crossbow, but I can't figure out the firing mechanism."
Tyrion grasped a piece of charcoal and added to the paper shooing Willas away. Gendry added his opinions sporadically prompting Tyrion to alter the design a bit more until it was complete.
"Repeating crossbow." Tyrion said with a sigh and everyone stared at the new design.
"There is hope yet." Jon murmured.