A Dragon's Flight
An unexpected hatching forces Lyarra Snow to flee Winterfell before her bonded dragon can be put to the sword. Guided by uncanny dreams, her own wits, and letters that could plunge the realm into war, Lyarra must reignite the flames of her House for a Targaryen alone in the world is a terrible thing. Dragonrider elements heavily borrowed from Eragon. fem!Jon, intelligent!dragons, Lyarra x Aegon
The moonlight coated the blade in silver as the thirteen-year-old slashed it through the crisp night air. Lyarra Snow was clumsily replicating the stances she had Ser Rodrick, Winterfell's Master-at-Arms, teach her half-brother this morning. She was forced to do this under the cover of darkness for despite her natural inclinations towards swordsmanship and desire to emulate her possible uncle, Ser Arthur Dayne, Lyarra bore the dual disadvantages of being a bastard and a woman.
'The servants will begin work soon,' she remarked, observing the hints of pale cobalt lightening the sky. The rooster would crow when the Hour of the Wolf ended. 'I can try one more set.'
The cautious Snow child typically moved slowly when attempting a new technique but her limited time made her reckless. Lyarra had been impressed by this simple drill: a simple sweep upward, followed by drawing it back sharply and a horizontal slash to the chest, extending the shield arm to recover the lapsed defense. The first part of the move went correctly enough.
'Take that Ironborn raiders! Wildings and pirates- Oh!' Her blade was angled too low, the weight of the blunted steel digging her tired arm down, and moving too quickly to pull back. The girl's left hand was still extended to pantomime a shield but it meant nothing when the steel cut through the woven wool.
A pained gasp escaped bow-shaped lips. Lyarra inadvertently dropped her sword as she cradled the injured arm to her chest, tears welling at the edges. It hurt! It hurt more than anything she had ever experienced before- even the time she had fought with her brother and been pushed to the ground.
'Oh Gods, I'm bleeding!' Eyes, of a shade of violet so pale that it was truly lavender and easily mistaken grey, widened in shock. The blunted sword had slid through her clothing and left a long, shallow cut on her arm, where rubies of blood were trickling down now. It had likely not helped that she had worn such thin furs but Lyarra's body ran strangely hot, even in the winter.
'The Trident shined as red as the rubies on his breastplate…' Lyarra watched the rivulets form with silent and morbid fascination. The pain receded in her mind, fastened as it was to the tendrils of blood and of accounts of war present in the Winterfell library. She was abruptly pulled out by a shrill crow.
'They are woken! I need to hide the evidence! I must wash the blood first.' Still cradling the injured arm to her chest, she snatched the blade from the ground and tossed it into the bushes. Lyarra trained by the weirwoods, undaunted by beasts within its ancient trees, and this would helpfully shadow her from early risers. 'Where can I find clean water? The pools?'
Raised to honor the Old Gods, she instinctively cringed from the thought of polluting such waters.
'The well should have a ladle… No, the servants must fetch water for breakfast!' Lyarra bit her lip and darted towards the weaker, crumbling walls of the ancient castle. Pulling down her sleeves and wrapping her arm in excess fabric, the dark-haired girl crawled through a hole where stone had crumbled to time and been unrepaired since. She was careful to keep the dirt from touching her wounds. 'The old well is near the First Keep, is it not?'
It was harder to use then the current one and thus, hopefully vacant at the moment. Sticking closely to the shadows of the wall, Lyarra all but ran to the location. She could have cried when she saw it, rotted planks and frayed rope and all. A few stubborn turns of the ancient wheel drew the bucket up, a sorry amount of clear, blessed water in its depths.
It ran pink over her bloodied arm but the coolness added another blunting force to the sting and allowed her to wrap it up more tightly. Her clothing was still stained red but there would be little risk of infection should she nick a poultice and wrap from the Maester's workshop.
'He'd be less than pleased if I asked for rose petal cream rather than bruise ointment.' Lyarra knew the wily Maester suspected her activities for even Jeyne Poole was not so clumsy as to trip on as many stairs as she did. 'Hopefully I do not scar. My marriage prospects are poor enough as a bastard.'
The dark-haired girl regarded her arm with satisfaction and then looked around herself curiously. This wasn't an area of Winterfell that she ventured to often, preferring the library to all else. The crypts lied here and Lyarra tended to avoid them. Mostly to prevent a harsh rebuke from Lady Catelyn for venturing into areas for 'true' Starks.
'That would be Arya then.' The others looked Andal in appearance and while Lyarra had the Stark colouring, her own features were more delicate and refined. Valyrian, people whispered. Beauty befitting the daughter of Ashara Dayne, more lovely than Arya, the sister she most resembled.
The smallfolk whispered for the only person the words enraged more than Lady Catelyn was her husband. Lord Ned Stark refused any connection between his bastard daughter and Old Valyria, perhaps due to the fate of her late Aunt Lyanna.
'Still if I am to be rebellious today, then I should be in all manner of ways.' A mischievous smirk that vastly increased her resemblance to one Arya Underfoot crossed her face and Lyarra walked over to the ironwood door. There were lit braziers on the top levels and unused torches nearby to her convenience, and she took two to be on the safe side. Then she ventured down.
Round and round the spiralling staircase went, the narrow walls and confining stone more discomforting than she had expected it to be. Lyarra loved open skies and empty fields, adored pushing her steeds to such speed that it felt like she was flying and this unnerved her.
'The scent of death is musty and still,' Lyarra thought. The halls of the corpses were silent with unspoken expectations, unheard of burdens, and each setting where the staircase levelled repelled her. She continued her tread downwards, peeking occasionally to faces that were long and stern, much like her father but lacking Ned Stark's life warmth and good humor. 'How many stories had these crumbled bones taken to their graves?'
If Lyarra and Arya shared their love of mischief and adventure, than Lyarra and Bran shared a love of stories. Sansa too adored them but hers were tales of Southron knights and courtly valor whereas they desired to know the truth, however grisly it may have been.
Eventually even these stairs had to end and Lyarra's feet touched the ocher soil of the hidden caverns. The upper levels had been turned into the crypts but they said a man could venture these tunnels for days on end without crossing the same chamber twice. The flames of her torch cast eerie shadows on the wall as she contemplated moving ahead.
'Five corridors. One for each sibling and marked by a burn on the wall.' Lyarra named the first 'Sansa' for it would be the closest towards daylight. She walked north, one hand to rough stone to guide her and came to a fork on the road. 'Right for which Rickon insists that he will always be.'
She branched right again when reached another break and mentally attributed this to Robb, for it was the wider corridor and he was broad of shoulders. The fourth decision laid three paths before her and she picked the middle road: Bran, the peacemaker and diplomat of the Starks.
This corridor was long and winding but it eventually came to a sharp split in two. The one to the right matched each of the other paths in size whereas the left was the width of three men's chests and seemed to grow ever narrower. Despite her fear of enclosed spaces and sudden concerns of being entombed inside, an instinct compelled her to choose the left.
'In the name of Arya Underfoot, the Ever Fearless and Valiant, I venture forward for glory and honor.'
Her lips quirked upwards and she stifled a laugh- the brief expulsion of sound absorbed by the walls- as she took the final path. It grew narrow and narrow and narrow, and then suddenly she was in a near circular dead end. Even her lithe body had to squeeze past the rock to slip through, holding the torch aloft to protect herself.
Lyarra looked around it quickly. There wasn't much to see. The area was the size of her own room, half again the size of her trueborn siblings and empty. Then something glittered in the light.
'Have I found hidden treasure after all?' It may have been the mystery of it all that led Lyarra to step closer. She held the torch over the object and found it to be three oval-shaped stones, near a third the length of her own arm, and of a hand's width (Robb's hand not her own relatively tiny one). They glimmered dusky violet, pale gold, and ruby red under torchlight.
'How pretty…' The first torch was dwindling down at this point, so she quickly swapped it for the other one brought along. Stuck in the deepest levels of the crypt without light did not appeal to her.
Lyarra decided to bring the stones along with her. Their beauty would be wasted under cold stone and her own room lacked much decoration with her pittance of an allowance. She took off her cloak and used it to bundle up the rocks, attributing their heat to her own body's unusual warmth.
'This was a fun adventure after all!' Arya, Bran, Robb, Rickon, Sansa, and then she was walking up the stairs. It was a faster trip upwards then down, curiosity smothered by recent pangs of her stomach demanding sustenance. She managed to sneak back to her room unnoticed- more or less, the maid looked at her scratched and dirty form oddly- dress herself, and come down to breakfast. The stones she hid underneath her bed, not yet sure where in the room to place them.
Lyarra had meant to share her discovery with her siblings during breakfast but the impulse escaped her for a meal. Any further compulsion over the days to reveal the stones was redirected by sudden distractions and inescapable wandering nothings. Lyarra could not place the reason why but she had no desire to show the pretty stones or place them in a public area. She would occasionally caress them with a finger though, feeling strangely comforted by their proximity, especially the violet one.
Her days continued as they always had. She would jape with Robb, explore with Arya, read with Bran, play with Rickon, and sneak out at night to practice her swings. Theon would mock her, Sansa would avoid her, Lady Catelyn would look at her like she was a gutter beggar come to her home. Her Father would be loving but distant and she wouldn't feel insulted for he was that way with her siblings too.
The main difference was that she slept with the dusky violet stone cradled in her arms.
Lyarra's simple life came to a crashing halt one morning when she snuck back from her training to find the stone moved from her pillow. Inexplicably, panic rose in her breast until she swiped her blanket off the bed to discover it at the center. She reached out to grab it and then her hand wavered when it rolled again. And again.
'My stone!' Lyarra lunged forward and grabbed it before it fell straight off the bed. She nearly dropped it for how hot it had become, through from shock rather than pain. It seemed to vibrate in her hand and her startlement and fear rose accordingly. 'It seeks the flames.'
The words were whispered near-silent to her mind and Lyarra followed them accordingly. She rushed to the hearth within her room, unlit for how little her body needs external warmth, and feverishly sparks a flame there. She blows on it gently and feeds it dried saplings to grow it further. Her last action is to roll the stone in, despite her own perturbation for the loss.
The stone cracks and she nearly snatches it back out. The sound is sharp in the morning quiet and followed by another one, smaller and across the center. It continues to break apart until a terrified realization comes to the bastard girl.
'It's not breaking… it's hatching.'
One shard is pushed out further than the rest and she glimpses a snout. Then a tiny foreleg and the curl of another? There is a tail now, pushing out and cracking the stone even further. No, this isn't a stone, it's an egg and some manner of wondrous beast is now being born.
The newborn eventually crawls out of the hearth and looks up at her. The size of a small puppy, ungainly on its slick limbs, two protruding wings of thin, wet membranes and a line of ridges marching down its back. The color of the body is a dark blue, almost indigo around the ridges and membranes, and a pale lavender to the silken wingflesh. There's a blaze of gold within the eyes, amber set within dark eyelids and they are fastened on her.
Lyarra is smitten. And horrified.
'I've hatched a dragon.'
I blame the plot bunnies, cruel, relentless, adorably cuddly creatures that they are. Also Arianna Le Fay for encouraging me to post this. To be clear, Lyarra is not staying up late to practice, she's waking up early. She sleeps less than the others do.
As to why Ned forbids Lyarra from swordsmanship: Rhaegar got the Visenya that he wanted and Ned decided to raise his niece to be as different from her famous ancestor as possible. It leads to some friction with Sansa, who's jealous that her already stunning bastard sister gets praised by their father for ladylike pursuits while Sansa, far more demure, is often overlooked. Unfortunately for Ned, Lyarra strongly resembles Rhaegar: talented harpist, lover of books, heated blood, ridiculously pretty, etc.
I haven't picked a name or a gender for the dragon yet but I'm welcoming any suggestions. I'll dedicate a chapter to whomever can offer the best name. If you want to use languages, like Old Valyrian, to decide on a name than that's fine too, as long as it's from the ASOIAF world.