8th Month of 283 A.C. King's Landing
Princess Elia Targaryen nee Martell
The news she had so dreaded had come two days ago, her husband Prince Rhaegar had died on the Trident alongside her uncle Prince Lewyn Martell of the Kingsguard. Her husband's attempt to soothe things over with the rebels had ended very badly, that much was clear, he always was a bit more of a dreamer than someone who knew the realities, and his taking of the Stark girl whilst necessary had not been done in the right way. She worried for her children and for her goodmother and goodbrother, the King had reacted with wroth when told of his son's death and had burnt the man who had delivered the message. It seemed Aerys would look to her and her children next and that worried her. It truly worried her she could not allow that to continue.
The Queen was not someone Elia could talk to about her fears, the Queen was a broken husk of a woman, she was not the strong person she had been even a year ago this war had damaged her beyond repair. She was going to be sent to Dragonstone with Viserys, away from the wrath of the rebels and away from Elia and as the king called them, the filthy Dornishmen. That was something that Elia was grateful for but also worried about. Gods alone knew what would happen to the Queen and her son when the rebels came. She was determined that whatever happened to her personally, it would not happen to her children.
That was why she had decided to meet with the master of Whispers, her husband's closest ally other than Arthur. Lord Varys was a strange man of stranger origins, Rhaegar had told her that the man was distant kin to him, though how he had never specified, regardless the man was trusted and knew some things that even Elia did not. And so it was to him she asked. "What do you know of the rebels and their movements Varys?" they were in some secluded corner of the Red Keep where none would dare look for them, Arthur was stood somewhere close by.
The eunuch looked at her a moment and then in a deep voice said. "Robert Baratheon is high off of the victory he has won. And yet your children provide too serious a threat to ensure their safety. He will want them killed one way or another. He will not do the deed, but either Jon Arryn or Tywin Lannister will."
"So the old lion has finally decided which side he is on." Elia says.
"Indeed he has my princess. He is nothing if not a practical man, and Aerys and Rhaegar slighted him one too many times for him to try and do anything else other than side with the rebels. For one thing, there is always the chance he could get his daughter as queen. Baratheon might be betrothed to Lyanna Stark but the girl will be soiled now, and Baratheon might well not want her when he realises the truth. There is chance for Cersei there." the eunuch responds.
"The man has fought the war for her, I doubt he will give up on her that easily my lord." Elia responds."
"He will if he thinks her dead. Tywin Lannister will stop at nothing to see his daughter on the throne. The man will come for you and your children, when the time comes. After all my sources tell me that he has marched from Casterly Rock and is force marching his host to beat the northmen here." The eunuch says.
Elia swallows, she knows Tywin's reputation and she has often wondered why Rhaegar felt happy working with the man. "And that does of course mean we will be removed from this world by force. I cannot allow my children to suffer that fate Vars. They will not become martyrs for a cause."
"It is good then that I have found replacements for them. A child of a cousin of mine is coming this way and will be here shortly. And of course there is your uncle's daughter. Both look like the children they are replacing, and so it should not be hard to fool anyone, so long as you play your role convincingly my princess." Varys says.
"Of course, I will not give the plan away. The question is what will stop Pycelle and others from telling Aerys? They do not trust me or care for me." Elia asks.
"Pycelle will do whatever he thinks is in Tywin's best interests, if he thinks that it will suit his master for the children to be dead they will be dead. As for the others, Velaryon is dead, Staunton is dying, there is no one else here who could counter act you or me in saying the replacements are who we say they are." Varys says reassuringly.
Elia nods and then asks. "And what of the ship, is there enough space and time for us to get enough of their belongings on it before people begin asking questions?"
"There will be my princess. The man who captains the ship is a good friend of mine and he will do as I ask. Rest assured there will be more than enough time for you to get their things ready and on board before anyone begins asking questions." The master of whispers replies.
"And the man knows to go to Sunspear. My brothers will be expecting the ship." Elia says.
"Of course my princess. He knows to go to Sunspear and nowhere else. The man knows to sail straight to Sunspear without delay. He will be there by the time word comes of what happens here. Are you certain you do not wish to join your children?" Varys asks.
Elia shakes her head. "No, for this to work properly, I must be here. Otherwise the rebels will never let my children live. They must grow and I must stay here."
"A brave sacrifice my princess." Varys says softly.
"A sacrifice any mother would make." Elia replies.
The eunuch looks at her for a moment and then says. "Your sacrifice will not go in vain my princess. I promise your son and daughter shall be safe and well looked after during their journey."
"I know you will Varys, otherwise I will kill you myself before I die." Elia responds.
The eunuch titters nervously before walking out with her, he bows once when they get to Arthur and says. "Be ready for the full moon reaches its peak. That is when the ship will set sail."
Elia nods and watches him go, once he has gone, she turns to Arthur and asks. "Did you hear all of that?"
"I heard most of it my princess. And he is speaking true, there was not a lie in what he said. I checked with our own sources, and it all seems true. The man who is commanding the ship is Monford Velaryon, the man who was loyal to Prince Rhaegar during the troubles." Arthur responds.
"Good at least one of our own men shall be there ensuring that Aegon and Rhaenys are safe." Elia responds, she looks at him a moment and says. "I know you will be with them, but you are just one man, Monford knows how to play the game on a more base level than you Arthur."
Her friend laughs softly. "That he does, I suppose it makes sense. Having all of us Dornishmen on one ship for the duration of the journey to Sunspear, we would all kill each other."
Elia laughs at that. "Very true Arthur, very true. Then again, I would rather have Dornishmen and women with my children than any of these snakes from the capital. Mors was right, these people know nothing but treachery and deceit. It ate away at Rhaegar you know, knowing what his father was becoming, only to have to do something as drastic as he did."
Arthur looks at her and says. "I know. Rhaegar was a man who was determined to see the world set to rights, but he did not know how to do it without going alone. He paid the price for that."
Elia nods. "He did, and I am sorry for that. But my children should not pay the price for it."
"Indeed they should not. Come my princess let us walk away from here." Arthur says extending an arm.
She takes it willingly and they walk from the secluded corner and back to her rooms. She spends the rest of the day avoiding the rest of court, packing her children's things. Arthur stands guard, keeping everyone else at bay, she spends time with her children once their things are packed. Knowing that deep down inside that this will be the last time she will get a chance to see them, or even hold them. she will not get to see them grow, will not be there when Rhaenys has her first flowering or when Aegon first fights with a wooden sword, the thought is more than enough to make her want to cry, but instead she remains firm and plays and hugs her children tightly. She listens intently as her daughter and son babble at her about this, that and the other, she smiles and laughs with them, showing them in the way she knows how that she loves them, she loves them with all her heart and nothing will ever change that.
Eventually it nightfall comes, and it is time to see her children off. She carries Aegon, and holds Rhaenys hand, as they walk hooded and cloaked, Ser Arthur walking with them, an ordinary couple and their children walking to the docks. When they get there, Mors is waiting for them. "Everything is on the ship sister." Her brother says. "Nothing went missing and all is in order."
Elia looks at her brother and softly replies. "Thank you Mors. If you could give me a moment."
Her brother nods. "Of course, Arthur do you want to come with me so we can go over the specifications?" Arthur nods, and looks one last time at her and nods his head and walks onto the ship.
The members of the household guard who had followed at a discreet distance during their journey, now stand there making sure none else come looking. Elia kisses her son's hair and whispers to him. "My sweet, sweet boy. I love you so much Aegon, so very much. I will miss you, but I know you will become a great man and a great king. Mama loves you my sweet boy." She kisses his hair and then his cheeks before giving him to Errol Wyl, a cousin, her son looks at her sleepily he yawns and then his eyes close. Her heart feels as if it is going to break when she bends down and looks at her daughter who looks confused.
"What happening mama?" her three nameday old daughter asks, her eyes wide.
"You're going on a journey Rhaenys my little dragon." Elia says fighting to keep her voice calm.
"A journey? Like in story?" Her daughter asks.
"Yes my sweet like in a story. A nice journey to a land far away, of sun and sand. Where there are no spiders or mice to hurt you." Elia says.
"Balerion will like it there." Rhaenys replies speaking of the cat who is somewhere in her daughter's person.
"Yes, he will. And you will like it there as well my little dragon, there will be many children there for you to play with. Your cousins. You remember them no?" Elia asks, her voice beginning to shake.
"Yes mama. Cousin Arianne, and her laugh. And Uncle Dowan." Her little dragon replies.
Elia can feel the tears beginning to threaten to break free. She takes a deep breath and says. "Exactly my sweetling. You must follow uncle Errol and get onto the ship. I will see you soon I promise."
Her daughter is looking at her with so much trust it breaks her heart. "You pwomise mama?"
"I promise my little dragon. Be brave now for your brother. You are his older sister, you must protect him do you understand?" Elia asks.
"Yes mama." Rhaenys says nodding her head.
Elia kisses her daughter and hugs her. "I love you my little dragon, never forget that mama loves you."
"I love you too mama." Rhaenys says.
Elia lets go then and allows Errol to take her daughter's hand, and she watches as her daughter gets on the ship. She stands there until her daughter has disappeared and the ship has set off. Her children might be dragons, but they are also Martells, and they will remain unbent, unbowed and unbroken.