Disclaimer: Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire are not mine.
Chapter 9: Hear Me Roar
The grand entrance and the face-off between the Dragon Quartet and Westeros' Noble Houses.
("Need more wine like Arbor Gold to process this mindfuckery," Tyrion advises sagely.)
First off, my sincerest thanks for your patience and continued support ;D
*rubs head sheepishly* I lost my muse with this fic when I nearly dive straight to depression after cannon Dany had fallen to the bender. Can't blame her really. Staying on top is a terrible lonely pedestal with her trusted friends gone. It is depressing as hell. I should know *smiles wryly*
Writing these snapshots/drabbles while at snail-paced like gloom work in progress is my therapy. With all the heartbreaks the show writers kept on dishing out making my Dany fangirl-self to scream 'NOOOO!' and how frustrating cannon Jon Snow—really isn't the sharpest tool in the shed is he? Then again, his self-loathing and thirst for family's acceptance as nurtured by the coldfish and schooled by Ned's honor, really would make cannon Jon Snow planted firmly on the other side facing Dany. Raving mad me has not finished ranting in inner world for that sheer treacherous dumbassery. And I have been in torturous wait for a very long while with George Martin books still in writing progress, hoping against hope it will be better, much, much better ending. Then again, the logic of Game of Thrones is a shit outtaluck *sighs heavily*
Please be reminded as it is included in the tags, that I'm writing this through DRABBLES a.k.a SNAPSHOTS. Unless one is asinine enough to ignore the my bold emphasis plus my notes. To be honest, I cannot commit myself fully in writing like pros did with their published novels with surviving reality check while my muse is finicky at best and is passing at worse.
This is my out-take to FIX-IT TROPE (with angst 'course), in depicting the A Song of Fire and Ice fantasy AU as I'd have liked and read to see it. Enjoy!
*hurries away from embarrassingly long babbling*
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
216. The Night King
He was known as one of them.
Then mercilessly out of calculated desperation he was ripped apart from his humanity and sacrificed to be mankind's purge. It was the purpose he was cursed for. A timeless post he was bound. Once he's awakened, summoned by the natural order he would never stop until he's accomplished his purpose.
His existence was necessary for a time.
It's just that his vengeance for the injustice done to him that later on soon asserts his purpose.
Unless it was his own army, the curse made him annihilate with no distinction between the ones who created him out of spite and his bound order of natural enemies.
It didn't take half a brain for The Children to wisen up, to conclude his cursed existence the highest order of betrayal of Magic. That's why The Children has grown weaker. That's why they are beginning to gone slowly and torturously extinct for doling out and using magic for ill intent.
(Like what would happen to the dragonlords who had fallen from their own hubris.)
There was a big snag of hope for mankind though: Valyria's Champion.
For a time, he felt fear he would soon meet his match.
However, several thousand of years has come and go.
He did not even have to play a hand directly to a Valyria's potential candidates' death. The Known World would do that themselves out of their greed and lust for supremacy, resulting a bloodbath of devastation that had collapse a portion of the ancient hierarchical social strata of power.
Has anyone tells them, a house divided is a house fallen, he muses darkly, remembering a distant past where he was once one with them.
Nevertheless, his quench for the hunt did not deterred him from this fact. After all it was his purpose. Practically, it was his duty, a guaranteed serving to reap out the undeserving. All bases covered, predetermined by a self-fulfilling choice that suffers consequences.
That was until he felt that he would soon meet his match: Valyria's Champion, someone, at present forged through fire and ice.
And time is swinging forward. The meeting between the two of them is a path for Fate's wheel where they are supposed to be matched.
Evenly, the Night King declares even as cries and screeches resonate around him.
217. Bran sees.
That mid-day, Arya Stark is tired after a trying day of learning to write the more advanced Valyrian Wards and runework with Robb, Sansa, and Bran.
The siblings walk to the dining hall in search of snacks, and find their father occupied with a letter that makes him white as ghost and run fast to his study with Mother and Robb and the Maester Luwin at his heels.
Arya shares a look at Sansa who nods back at her to take care of Rickon. While Arya will look after Bran whose favorite hobby to do at the present, is to climb their walls much to their mother's frustrated worry.
It is a moment Arya and Bran has spent to sit down on the roots of their weirwood Gods Tree. A few moments later, Arya slowly blinks her eyes open from her nap, and finds out that Bran is not with her.
"Bran?" she calls out. "Where did you go?"
There is no answer from her brother.
"Bran?" she calls out again, sitting up now to look around her. "Where are you, Bran? Bran!"
Starting to worry, Arya walks around and soon finds herself walking at the Stark crypt's direction. She peers and finds her brother's back at the entrance.
"Bran, there you are! What are you doing there?"
There is no answer from Bran.
Arya rolls her eyes. "Are you deaf or something?"
Bran did not move at all. Irritated that Bran is playing her, Arya huffs and is about to deck Bran when she notices something different about her brother.
Arya frowns. Don't tell me that he's crying like a little baby there at the dark.
"Bran, I won't ask again!" she warns.
Still no response, she worries and reaches out to pull her brother by the shoulder with a hard yank. The moment she touches him, a cold wind blows that chills her to her very bones.
Bran slowly faces her with a far too serious face for a boy. Like father would.
"You can't see him." Bran murmurs. "Can you?"
Fear and excitement grip Arya's heart. "What did you see, brother?"
(Visenya has already warned them that the magic in their blood would soon wake. More so when they find their direwolves companions. What they had seen and felt through their dreams changes them. It made their father worried and then resigned, but he won't want to change it.
Their father smiled fondly with a fierce look of pride for them.
Protection. Any protection that may serve our pack is well and good. As long as you understand it and not fear it. We are the Starks. The North remembers that when winter comes in our greatest time of need some magicks may wake up to protect what is ours.
The siblings nod in unison.
Used them well like Daenys the Dreamer who is a heroine without getting mad like Aerys, father japed.
It was that reminder that made all Stark children to do their best in channelling their magick with help from Maester Aemon's tomes before he slipped away to join Visenya in the east.
For their family.
For their pack.
For House Stark.
For the North.)
Arya purses her lips. Instincts guiding her tellingly, that for a second, she feels she could almost see someone with frozen blue eyes watching them closely before something else which is fiercely territorial veils them from its sight.
Bran is utterly quiet in front of her, but it did not last long. His eyes roll back, and all Arya sees is the whites of her brother's eyes.
"I see it," Bran murmurs blankly.
Cold fear gripping her, Arya asks, "Who? What did you see?"
Bran's eyes finally return back and focusing at hers in several slow blinks, having a look between awe and horror.
"They are coming," He said. "He woke them up."
Arya is absolutely terrified now. "Who?"
"I see…" Bran forges on albeit hesitantly as if telling her would make it real. "…the end."
They both run back to the castle with haste.
218. Eddard Stark ultimately finds his House on par with the game.
A lone missive on his breastplate is no ordinary burden. For it bears a forewarning and a threat all at once:
Our reunion is an onset for great war, Lord Stark. The War of Dawn. My brother will arrive on King's Landing with proof. Best prepare the Seven Kingdoms for a show of faith then.
Ned feels slightly aged at that same moment.
For several reasons:
One, Ned loathes his twins must step on the bloodiest game.
Two, Ned loathes and begrudgingly understand that they must help because he has intentionally drilled into his twins about duty and honor. Too afraid the twins will lost on their path.
Three, Ned loathes that the twins must step on that blasted Red Keep. The place which has taken a lot from his heart and life. He absolutely refuses to suffer the same thing, again.
Of the three things, the last he can control with the use of the white ravens which arrives after its disposal from the Citadel that winter is coming soon.
A resounding knocks brings Ned back to the present. A frowning Robb opens the door and is nearly run over by both Arya and Bran. It appears that both have forgotten their manners and any semblance of privacy.
"Arya! Bran!" Catelyn reprimands which is ignored by both speaking at the same time in unison.
"Winter is coming!"
Ned freezes and reinforces calm to himself. "We know already, the Citadel sends their regards of the coming long winter."
Bran shakes his head. "No, father."
Afterwards, his son's eyes bleed red causing a shocked standstill among them.
He speaks in a gravelly voice with steel, "The Night King is invoked to serve his purpose. Beware of the Long Night. Pray hard that Valyria's Champion would find it in her heart to save the undeserving."
And Bran promptly passes out after that declaration, echoing a silence that follows after that bleak statement.
They are all wide-eyed gaping at Bran.
Greenseers' bloodline runs deep in the North, and it seems my own son is a conduit of the Olden Gods, Ned apprehends belatedly.
"Father?" his son, Robb's voice brings Ned back to the present after a few moments of taking deep breaths in fortifying himself.
He's relieved to find he's not the only one.
"You must all understand that Greenseers' bloodline runs thick in the North, and it seems my own son is a conduit of the Olden Gods," Ned relays in repeat of his inner thoughts.
A long pause follows after his statement. Shock is barely a good description for what everyone feels in his study right now. Hysteria is building.
Feeling a rising turmoil in him, Ned's forehead is creasing as he speaks, "The twins' hand will be forced."
That is an understatement of larger-than-life proportions. For their reality to be sweep on their ground is less physical and more emotional whirlwind, but knowing that did not make the process easier.
"Serves them right," Rob smiles wryly when he recovers. "With justice."
"I'm afraid to say Aemon is not one for plotting," Arya adds. "What he did best is…systematic execution."
Watching his children adapting at the situation makes him proud of them, but at the same time he grieves at the lost of their innocence. Innocence that is dwindling by as something sinister looms on their lives.
"Systematic execution?" Ned repeats carefully, minding himself to be strong for his pack. It's all about mind games manoeuvre. Luckily, it is a reference to the eldest twin who have the patience of the best players in such mind-numbing games.
As it is, Arya looks all keenly fascinated in contrast to Robb's exasperated patience.
"I doubt the twins will kill us after all they have done to preserve our lives," Maester Luwin reflects, and making Ned to be reminded (and his children to be watchful) of the Maester's presence.
"Or at least the North will remain strong and standing," Catelyn disagrees, looking worried for the Riverrun's fate.
(Their dynamic has been strained for some long while, but they manage to stay together for the sake of their children.)
Ned chuckles lowly. "Don't bet on that, wife. The twins possess a generous heart if they so inclined to."
Catelyn gives him a sharp look. "Do you really believe that, husband?"
The blatant confrontation between them amongst their children has Ned's jaw tightening. "I do trust the twins to do what is right. If nothing else, both have no desire or need of the Iron Throne."
"What about the other members of House Targaryen? The exiled ones?" Catelyn counters evenly. "With these circumstances at play, they will at the very least try."
"If they would, they will after they survive against the same harsh winter that would test everyone," Ned answers just as fiercely.
Their audience seems to simply watch on riveted as Catelyn studies him. Whatever she founds from his conviction, she delays any further questioning on the subject and moves on to another.
"Making a stand on the twins' side would make the North an enemy of the current dynasty, Ned. Your vows. Your honor. Both will be held on question. Are you prepared for that?"
Now, darkly amused how Catelyn appears to advocate the worries that Ned dare not say out loud at anyone not even himself. The thought of it, curves a facsimile of a smile on Ned's face which he absently observes has the rest taking in with…fascination.
Ned is holding their gaze steadily as he replies immovably in a way he feels down to his very self, "I am a Stark first, my Lady. A Stark of the North. It is our House words that I do bind myself first. The North has bend to the dragons out of necessity. It did not bend to the stags for the same purpose."
After his words said, there is a momentary respite before Catelyn concurs with something like dread in her voice, "So do I, husband. So did my house."
Understanding what she is alluding to, Ned just smiles grimly. "Then I hope that the twins would make Westeros see sense."
"Only because it must be done," Maester Luwin finally puts in, speaking rather out of turn. There is unveiled apprehension in his eyes. "And history will repeat itself."
His children seem to take those words as a warning. Robb (and his children) is already moving for a kill at the corner of Ned's eye.
(Sometimes, just sometimes, Ned does not find it easy to see his own heir and son so devoted to the twins' cause. There is nothing else that could incite the current generation of Starks than the twins' safety being put under any threat.
At the same time, fierce pride glows in Ned's heart. This is what pack means to the Starks.)
Ned hardens his heart. "Maester Luwin, you have served House Stark well through these years. I'll see to it that you will be taken care of."
"You don't need to threaten me, Lord Stark," Maester Luwin says bluntly, surprising Ned in secret when he raises his hands like surrender. "You should find it interesting that no news about the twins' activities have reached the Crown or the Citadel. It's a truly a wonder you have let me stayed in your castle even after the twins had slipped away. You could have done me in during those years after all."
Pairs of eyes sharpen at that straightforward…examination.
"You have done nothing wrong that would make me take your life," Ned says just as bluntly. "It just makes me wonder why that is so? Is it out of the goodness of your heart, Maester Luwin?"
"The Starks give me hope," Maester Luwins begins placidly as if calming down the wild predatory instincts which has now in years been restrained for the sake of civility by the Starks, "that your family will at least, stay their hands out of the games most of Westeros is playing."
Ned has stayed his hand. However, his pack remains ever watchful. "That is it? To simply watch over us?"
"The Citadel likes the Stark's way of taking care of your vast territory," says Maester inclining his head with respect at them.
"With magic at play in the present, I find that hard to believe," Ned counters evenly, remembering the journals he found from the crypt of his ancestors which his pack translated and studies readily. "The Citadel has shown no favour with those in league with magic."
Something in Maester Luwin's expression wavers with something like grief shadowing his face. "You will never know how much I regret seeing in person the atrocity, the crimes the Citadel commits in eradicating the practice of magic, Lord Stark."
"What do you mean by that?"
With a heavy burdened expression, Maester Luwin speaks out a…damning revelation for the lack of better words that would match accumulating consequences the current Westeros would soon face lacking proper and intensive groundwork.
After the Maester Luwin's disclosure which has him straightening on his seat as he waits on for his orders—orders that Ned realizes comes straight from the twins—who the Luwin looks up to as the silver lining of hope for the Known World.
Expectations that have Ned to do anything that would alleviate the burden on his twins' shoulders. Even at the expense of his so-called honour.
At that, the Tully has it right. Family comes first, after that anything else is postscript, Ned begrudgingly comprehends. Needs must be to make a move.
With a heavy inward sigh, Ned clenches his jaw and lifts his chin slightly. An expression copied by his wife and his children. His eyes gaze settling on to Maester Luwin.
"Send the letters through the white ravens," his voice comes out clear, unwavering, resolute. "First, request the Houses that make the Seven Kingdoms to convene regarding the incoming winter. Tell them that the North Remembers of The Gift that Queen Alysanne deems for the Night's Watch that has been unattended by the Crown with the lack of the Noble Houses' accumulating taxes for ages.
Second, write the Noble Houses of the North an edict commanding all the Northern Houses Seal, in support of the official approval of House Stark for the none-kneelers, the Free Folk to be proper citizens of the North in service of labouring the Northern Glass Gardens as means of survival for the incoming long winter. Add a postscript saying: the Twins has deemed it absolutely necessary for our continued survival's sake."
Third, copies of the edict to be send in all of Westeros."
If nothing else, the first statement would set Robert's ass on fire to be up in arms and with him comes the rest of the powerful houses. The second and third statement, might question Ned's sanity and at the same time make the Westeros see some sense in his wisdom.
That same night, another white raven flies out guided by Bran's sight due to Castle Black where his youngest male twin has been residing. It writes:
Not the Red Keep. I do not want any of my own blood walking on that accursed place. By three moons, Harrenhal is fully prepared for you. Fitting enough for a good show if I say so myself.
220. Dreaming a nightmare, Aemon finds himself on a crossroad.
Someone is gently caressing his hair. It is warm and nice. This heat reminds him of someone. Someone who—
Without meaning to, Aemon opens his eyes. Pitch black darkness greets him. He did not fear it. It is fine. Better than white walls which mock him with its immaculate clean state.
A hand settles through his hair. He peers curiously to see why it stops.
"Valyria?" Aemon squints, now unsettled that She manifests and entered into his dream.
A forlorn smile traces her lips. "Not quite, Aemon."
Wary, Aemon make to move but is interrupted when the hand resumes its caressing. Something a lot like self-loathing and regrets crosses on the beautiful woman's face, sending chills down to his spine.
"Be calm, Aemon. No one could harm you here. Rest, for you will need your strength for later." Her words are like melodies to his ears. Like a lullaby...
His eyes closes willingly, the haunting words lulling him back to sleep.
"I-I'm so sorry..." the woman whispers brokenly to him.
Aemon falls asleep and falls into a dream…
It's staggering to see Dany's face full of sheer hate and raging grief, and to know that in all of the Known World, the thing that could ruin her and incite her to tear apart the kingdom, is the madness invoked as she lost herself.
"Why did you betray me?"
"What are you talking about, my Queen? I have nothing to do with it!"
"You denied the honour of toppling me from my throne, you bastard? These evidences came out because of you from what I gathered."
"You don't believe me... And there is nothing I can do to change your mind. But I swear to you that I did not do whatever you are accusing me of."
"Just admit your betrayal. Or do you want me to fuck you raw and hard to have your admission?"
"As if I'll do that! I won't apologize for something I did not do!"
The voices echo on and on until the voice strains higher with each word until it surges on into a shout, screams. The raging anger which once overpowers over his love for her is smothered by the indisputable truth of her flaws.
Aemon blinks. His eyes fell upon his target. They are cold and empty.
Overcome with disgust of himself, he pulls himself away from the body.
It is a necessary kill, and yet his heart aches with numbed grief.
But this particular death is necessary, if she lives, what horrors and atrocities will continue to go on,he comforts and justifies what he had done. And another will take her place, this cycle won't end.
His eyes close. Jaw clenches hard. Hands ball into tight fists. His knees give out underneath him. He falls down like a rag doll without any signs of formidable strength. It is as if his entire life-force is sucked out from his entire body.
Only the haunting sound of silence resonates between them.
"It's horrifying to find out in the end how you led her to her death with your own hands. The burden of that guilt is more than punishment to you, bastard."
There is hush silence as he moves through the crowd, who begrudgingly parts for him. He ignores the condemning, silent accusations and the hate-filled eyes of those who question his presence.
His heart pounds. He couldn't breathe.
The thought that she died confuse, hurt, and alone by his own doing. It is the end of his everything.
And he shatters into million pieces.
The initial lull in the area is broken as he gives out a gut wrenching sound of a wounded animal howling in pain. His desperate screams resonate dying only after a few minutes when he draws his breath like a dying person trying with all his might to cling to life.
The sounds pour out in devastating waves. No small amount of guilt and remorse amplifies his misery. A kind of pain that makes him wished to be dead several times over.
And it's all my fault.
I killed her…
…with my own hands.
"And now I have to thank you."
"You forced me to see the truth of my foolishness, you forced me to accept that I cared too much, that I offered too much –that I had cared too much for everyone, but cared nothing for myself." She smiles warmly. "Because it's all thanks to you that I saved myself this time around. Instead of saving you."
She looks at him with pity."But you, Lord Snow, you'll be fighting their battles forever."
Aemon wakes up with a violent start.
Eyes immediately search where he is. The familiar sight of his surroundings settled a portion of his nerves. He closes his eyes in relief. Wrong move. Unbidden visions of his dream attacks him with full force.
No, not a dream. It had happened. His hands start to tremble, feeling suddenly ill as sweat perspires on his forehead. Bidding his time, he tries to calm down forcefully willing away the vision from his mind.
Feeling a hand on his shoulder, Aemon starts and stares.
It's Visenya who looks…like she is prepared for his hand to strike her face bloody. Aemon gives himself a harsh mental shake to dispel memories away, waiting her on to speak. She did after their momentary stare off.
"That's my memories of various lifetimes. They overlapped. Horrifying, isn't it?" Visenya did not shy away from his gaze "Now, you understand why I worry."
It is a conundrum. It's deep under their skin, bone deep and soul deep. They are the kind of people bred to fight and can't find themselves to walk away from it fully as prophesized, Fate's toy warriors. The scars of war is there, hurting them, made them jaded, and may change who they are. And it has them to look out for their own fellow kindred spirit.
At worse, to separate themselves arm's length or more to those who they know might poison themselves if they stick in together with their kind.
"And you're not doing at all what you're supposed to," Jon concludes, understanding the Children's disapproval at Visenya's. "They are not happy with you and the choices you made."
"Good," Visenya says, face darkening like a thundercloud. "I'm not particularly happy with them either.
"To hell what they think," Aemon agrees with severe vehemence, throwing himself to Visenya who flinch expecting a punch only to freeze when he hugs her hard against himself.
"To think that your past would make me think less of you!" Aemon says fiercely. "I don't know what possessed them. Maybe they all went mad with the circumstances beyond their control– I'm not sure–but that was then. Our present is entirely different."
"Thank you, brother" Visenya says, a little breathless. "Thank you for staying. For not giving up on me."
"Beloved sister," Aemon begins and chucks in a thought with sudden recklessness, "why don't we let Westeros suffer on their fate? I don't want any of theirs to corrupt and destroy what we have built so far. I fear that—"
"—the consequences of letting any enemy to get past us are incalculable. In Westeros, we will be eaten alive if we hesitate, I know, Aemon, I know." Visenya hiccups and shudders in his arms.
Aemon counters it back with a lesson drilled into him until none of his hesitations could break past to his mind. "You taught me that when you are fighting, don't think about honour. Think about surviving. It's either you or them. To be an utter heartless bastard not to give an inch. Hesitate, and most likely results if you're out of luck your defence is down, you are down, and heavily wounded—"
And Visenya continues smoothly, "Do you think the enemy would hesitate to spare the slightest chance of not finishing you just because you once naively let him? No. It would not end until one of you is down. Dead. Better choose who will survive. You or him. That is all there is to it. Unluckily, if he's still alive after that, better prepare yourself for sleepless nights filled with paranoia. You will never know when and where he's coming back to get you or those you cared about."
"Finish it," they conclude in unison.
"We are so messed up."
"We must be to flip the board off its place."
They smile and hold onto each other.
Silently, Aemon vows with everything he is, I won't let you walk alone, beloved sister.
After some time, Aemon pulls back and shows a letter from their Nuncle Ned to Visenya. It writes:
Not the Red Keep. I do not want any of my own blood walking on that accursed place. By three moons, Harrenhal is fully prepared for you. Fitting enough for a good show if I say so myself.
225. The White Raven's Letter
To All the Lords, Ladies and Citizens of Westeros
I, Eddard of House Stark, Warden of the North, announces this Fourth Day of the Seventh Moon of the Year Two Hundred and Ninety-Nine after Aegon's Conquering request a convention of the Noble Houses of Westeros with regards to the following matter:
The North Remembers of The Gift that Queen Alysanne deems for the Night's Watch that has been left unattended by the Crown lacking of the Noble Houses' accumulating taxes for many ages which must be suitably compensated back with due commission per year according to the laws of our lands on the subject of paying due debts.
In addition, attaché in this is a formal written publication of The Northern Edict 878: That I, Eddard of House Stark, Warden of the North, announces this Fourth Day of the Eighth Moon of the Year Two Hundred and Ninety-Nine after Aegon's Conquering has understood an extreme necessity and has taken good measure to act as wisdom dictates with all the Northern Houses Seal, in support of the official approval of House Stark for the none-kneelers, the Free Folk to be proper citizens of the North in service of labouring the Northern Glass Gardens as means of continued survival for the incoming long winter
May the Old and New Gods bless the North when in service of what is good for the family, the people and the lands, honourably righteous, just duty, and responsibly accountable and forsaken if the act straying on the path is for ill intent.
226. Ripples Across Westeros in Reply to the Quiet Wolf's Howl
Across the lands, various reactions ranging from disbelieving shock, spontaneous indignation, dark glee, grim awareness, and most notably, begrudging respect occurs from the Noble Houses.
Somewhere simultaneously in The Eyrie and in Storm's End…
"This… is recklessly dumb for Lord Stark to incite the King's fury."
"While doing it as honourable as he could for the good of his rather vast territory."
"Then again, the King favors him. The North will be spared from his wrath."
"This is a gamble."
"…How about a wager?"
"I confessed myself conflicted."
"You're not the only one, my Lord."
Somewhere in Riverrun…
Loss for words, Lord Tully has fainted in shock.
Somewhere in the Pyke …
"What kind of hellish playbook is this?!"
"A cunning one, brother."
"One we must adapt, if we're smarter than the wolf."
"We're not landgrubbers!"
Somewhere in Casterly Rock…
The Lions are all rendered speechless, then as fast as they surreptitiously eyes the Lord of their House to look for dignified composure which they emulated.
Blanked face, Lord Tywin pauses in his cyvasse game, shrewd and analytical mind is filled with profound thoughts.
Much, much later in the safety and privacy of his room, Tyrion lost it.
In King's Landing…
"Has Ned happened to lost his marbles?!"
"Robert, please be reminded that pragmatic ideals is drilled into the North since they could start thinking for themselves."
"I'll-I'll drill something into those uptight arses all right!"
A heavy sigh is heaved in the throne.
In her room, Cersei cackles with as much as grace as she could.
In High Garden…
Mind at speed, Lady Olenna looks darkly impressed even as her lips purse.
While her son and heir, Mace nearly falls off from his chair.
On the other hand, her grandchildren takes cue from her.
Shell-Shocked. Disbelief. Denial. Mounting Anticipation.
These are the general state of the myriad of emotions in Dorne even as calmed waters prevailed.
However, the glaring evidences speak for themselves.
Are you playing a long con, Stark? I thought that you're such an uptight bore for that? One particular thinks.
On the Shy Maid…
A trickery of someone else's doing.
"What a cruel play this is," is another words coming out in a venomous sarcastic tone.
There is nowhere to hide. Yet within the deepest level of his cold and unforgiving heart, a voice screams that these are all lies of if not of the greatest pretender.
A deliberate move to force their hands. Then, savage anger came in flooding waves of menacing cold air washes over his heart.
You will eat and suffer my wrath. Violet eyes gave off a sub-glacial glare all ready for uncontrollable ruthless carnage of anger.
227. At Stepstones
Gerion Lannister startles himself awake. He runs with haste to the Captain's Quarter.
…Gerion stares for a gloomy moment, and he groans with regret of the envy he has felt when he has no part of Visenya's entourage.
Now, he's practically shoving himself face first.
"How bad is it going to be?" a dreamy voice says from behind him, making Gerion swears in surprise to freeze promptly.
Sweating now, Gerion just say everything by stepping aside the empty room and avoiding the violet eyes of Daenerys who appears to be in a trance.
Daenerys stares then she blinks becoming herself again.
"Oh, dear…secrets keep people apart," she finally remarks. "Frankly, it's ridiculous to be an adviser to two overgrown jerks, and one oblivious idiot."
Silently, Gerion agrees.
Viserys is gone, and with no doubt on the skies with Balerion with him.
228. Above Harrenhal's Skies
From the aerial view, they look down with faces devoid of any emotions.
"Are you ready, sister?" A male voice asks.
Violet meets silver-gray orbs.
"I always am, brother."
Their locked box up package rattles with otherworldly hisses and snarls.
299. Jon Arryn thinks his most behaved ward now a grownass man and a Lord and Warden of the North is too old to act it out.
I'm getting too old for this shit, complains the Hand of the King, Jon Arryn in the safety of his thoughts while maintaining the dignity of his House without the slightest sign of weakness brought by his old age in front of the convening Noble Houses of Westeros.
Convening for winter produce and taxes my old ass, Jon is darkly amused as he surveys the respective Lords and Ladies with gimlet eyes on his seat. Although it is not a bold faced lie from Ned, it feels more like a War Council is held.
He maybe is too old for this, but Jon is not senile enough (not to comprehend Ned's white lies which Jon tolerated since his Ward would rather besmirch his honor than to plunge another reckless war for the Crown. For that, Jon has the deepest respects and protective instincts for the second son of Rickard Stark, and later on many years, he bemoans and continues to regret why Robert is borne to be as asinine like some imprudent Targaryen blood through his Grandmother, Raelle Targaryen. With his power as Hand of the King, Jon could summon Ned for the two of them working together in mitigating Robert's reckless but petty spending of the Targaryens' coffers. However, unknown to Ned, Jon has set out a task for him. That is to raise and protect the twins well.
And to Jon's immense relief, that is his most indirect crowning glory for himself. The Arryns may not be as fanatic like the Hightowers in maintaining the precarious balance in Westeros bloodlines. However, Jon has the wisdom (with the Mountain Valeman beating at his gates for the rest of his lifetime with some preaching—ranting of the Old Gods' messages) to understand that some Prophecy no matter how cryptic it is—a shield and a sword and power to be passed down is inherently needed for Kingly blood to survive.
Contingencies, so to speak.
With that Song of the Dragonborn? And with the talk from the Citadel of a generation Long Winter? And Ned's unusual play at the game? It's no coincidence, that Jon would choose the better decision of valour for his House, for his people, for his lands, and etc. So the twins' existence and continued well-being? Jon did not touch that with any measured pole with all plausible deniability, he could afford.
…Jon blinks startling to find himself maudlin and getting sentimental like a man on his deathbed, and with big effort try to stay focus. Now where is he?)
Right. He's not that too senile not to recognize the brewing tension and as warriors hailing in all of Westeros are in attendance and arm with their respective banners and weapons.
Point is, when the North makes a marching procession to reach Harrenhal. They did it with noticeable article of strapped attire—armours, chain mails, shields and various weaponries. At first, when the hearsay reach the other houses, most presumed it is to lend a hand in helping out the Tully's for the usual attacks of the Iron Born's raids.
But then all of a sudden, Dorne has arrived with haste that does not make any sense, much to the aghast surprised of the Knights of the Vale Lord who arrived first at Harrenhal.
Jon's Knights has watch over with tensed equanimity as two opposite sides should be camping out far from each other has somehow work together to camp side-by-side. That is enough for Robert to spontaneously combust in rage, the King literally riding the other Houses' asses to get in gear post-haste before Ned would find himself at spear point by treacherous snakes' hands.
It has taken a moonturn for the rest of the Noble Houses to complete the assembly. The weather upon their arrival is cloudy like a looming thunderstorm befitting of House Baratheon's words, and its King is the personified man form seating on a hastily made kingly pavilion. Luckily, rain is still held at bay and there is windy breeze every now and then.
At present time, the King has his eyes trail over the mass of people in a wide circle before him as each House representatives are announced by the herald. Robert's eyes occasionally sweeps furtively at Ned's direction.
The Quite Wolf hasn't given much notice of the King's attention at their direction, and has instead, gearing up in a hissing verbal spar with Oberyn Martell who before he makes his way past the Northern Lords is stripped first with any weapons he has. The Red Viper is smiling with smug condescension, turns his weapon over to his daughters, and then lunges with a spiel with the use of an Old Tongue, a dialect of those born in the First Man's bloodline to Ned, who in turn give as best as he could.
The verbal sparring (hisses, clicks, grunts, growls and sometimes outright snarls) has no small numbers of foreheads to crease in incomprehensible confusion with the exemption of the North and Dorne who are simply watching with riveted fascination.
Perplexed, Jon looks on and simply observes the two's body language.
Oberyn smarmily leers at Ned. "Your niece is one wild heart of a pleasurable company, that's for sure."
Ned's eyebrow rises. "What are you implying, Red Viper?"
Oberyn's leer has become more darkly gleeful. "I just had the lived experience of understanding why the sharpest wits dull when in her delightful presence?"
"And how did you happen to find her?"
Ned's tone is raising Jon's fine hairs on the back of his head.
The bemused eavesdroppers find it odd that it is a hair-raising phenomenon much to more confusion.
Oberyn is all coy. "The usual. With my undeniable charm and—" Here the Prince clicks his tongue lasciviously. "—talented tongue."
Ned's expression looks forbidding like he is restraining to punch the Martell Prince a bloody face. "You better not did what you are explicitly saying, Oberyn Martell."
"If I did?" Oberyn is all smiles with a magnanimous wave of his two hands. "What will you do in front of these people?"
Ned's smile is all teeth. "Then I pray, that you would have the misfortune of being eaten alive by her vicious' associates."
Oberyn's quirks an eyebrow. "You have no intention to use Ice at me?"
Ned sneers. "Don't confuse your usefulness for the incoming wars as mercy, Prince Martell."
Oberyn bows slightly condescension pouring from him. "I am flattered you think so highly of me, Lord Stark."
And just like that, the verbal sparring between Ned and the Oberyn Martell is over.
Jon observes how the North and Dorne contingents react from it. To Jon's analysis, both contingents simply choose to emulate their respective Lords even as there are narrowed looks glaring like the act of it could kill Oberyn Martell alone by itself. It is noticeable though, that Ned's heir young Robb has to be restrained by Ned himself.
Robert's grunt from his left, shakes Jon from his observation to look how the King has taken the confrontation. Robert looks sullen like Ned has found another blood-brother with a secret language to boot their bond.
Jon pinches his nose. No matter how my wards aged, they still act like children. I have enough. He makes this known with a throat clearing pointedly.
"If we may begin before a gauntlet will be thrown, Lord Stark, as it is your request and sponsorship that makes this assembly possible," Jon says with a pointed look.
Ned nods his thanks to him and to Robert who pierce the rest with a quelling glare.
"To our Graces, my Lords, my Ladies, thank you for your attendance," Ned opens the proceedings. "As I said through my letters, the North Remembers of The Gift that Queen Alysanne deems for the Night's Watch that has been left unattended by the Crown and lacking the Noble Houses' accumulating taxes for many ages which must be suitably compensated back with due commission per year according to the laws of our lands on the subject of paying due debt." Ned repeats word for word and gives a significant pause before forging on smoothly. "It is only the North's right to demand the debts to be paid like House Lannister would."
And goes straight blunt at it without flowery words, Jon despairs on his seat while a deafening silence echoes after that opening.
Jon is paying attention how Lord Tywin looks like a second away from outrightly roaring his cold rage when Ned throws back his very own House words at him.
"How much would this cost from the Crown?" Clear, frustrated irritation underscores the Queen Cersei's voice as she asks.
"No worries, Your Grace," Ned says generously, "with the long winter nearing in our lands my Northern Lords has come to an agreement of staggered payment to be witnessed by Tycho Nestoris, an agent of the Iron Bank of Braavos—"
Here Ned waves a hand at the said man who bows at them with a pleasant smile. "—as the journals of my dearly departed ancestors has accounted for, each Noble Houses owes one Gold Dragons per moonturn with the present due commission per year of unpaid debt as our founding law dictates. It is a tax set aside by the Crown as Tycho Nestoris has copies to give as proof of the old arrangement between the Old Regime and my ancestors."
The Council, Jon observes suddenly feels like they just gotten a verbal lashing for their past misdeeds.
Another piece of a puzzle had fallen into its place of Jon's suspicions.
Old and New Gods above and below, Jon thinks in dejected resignation. How convenient it is it that Ned has grown a pair of balls now of all times? Apparently and evidently, the Crown would never be free of the North with the Iron Bank's backing to top it off. This colossally complicates my whole lot.
And that is without stirring a dragon's nest with the formal written publication of The Northern Edict 878. Licking his dry lips, Jon states his bait just to see how far Ned will take this play. "And if the Crown refuses to take accountability of an old regime's arrangement, what will the North do, Lord Stark?"
Flabbergasted expressions could not begin what everyone would express when Jon with his House words: As High as Honor begins to inverse his word, his honor.
"Then the North will declare itself independent from the current Crown," Lord Stark proclaims with all clear-cut solemn expression.
Jon understands it just as quick as the assembled Lords and Ladies of the House have been quiet.
That means Queen Alysanne even from the afterlife really did screwed Robert's reign for good. Leading the present Council to face things they would a thrice think over first before pushing through. Lastly and ultimately, the North would in zero doubt throw a cold war which they should not have to if the current Crown did not left had taken appropriate responsibility even for unwanted arrangements made by the old regime.
Just as Lord Stark proclaims the North wants its independence back.
And with a long winter, for self-preservation's sake the Lords and Ladies of Westeros would begrudgingly agree with it.
(For they have seemed to forget that one-third of the allied forces, it is House Stark that enabled Robert Baratheon to have the crown. A cold barren land most Noble Houses looks past underneath their shoes.)
Queen Cersei seems to be speechless, even as she gives furtive looks at Lord Tywin like a child asking for a right cue of this unprecedented act. But Lord Tywin's face is blank as still waters.
Proud as he is to Ned no Lord Stark, Jon worries. Even the cunning lion knows the North has already won the war before it begins.
Everyone waits on with baited breath for Robert to say something, anything, even to roar his fury out. But Robert looks profoundly thoughtful, and with a far-reaching gaze squarely asks:
"Are my Lords and Ladies in agreement of nullifying the taxes arrangement by the old regime and the North's Night's Watch?" Displeasure could not begin to describe the Robert's voice, letting for once, Westeros Noble Houses to decide.
With dark, frowning expressions and nods of begrudging acceptance from the Lords and Ladies, the Council shares a look all in agreement as it appears to be.
"As fully agreed by the Lords and Ladies of Westeros, the Crown would bend with the consequences of losing the North," is the flat input from the King sending a wave of alarming trepidation to flood into the assembled people to what will happen next.
The Martells tellingly narrow their eyes at Roberts emphasizing wording.
"Is that all, Lord Stark?" Roberts used of formal address is not lost to Jon. "Or is it King now?"
His wards are in equal foothold now, Jon is torn between pride and apprehension.
Pointedly ignoring the onlookers, Eddard Stark's purses in a grave voice he drops the news. "I bring dire news from the Free Folk.'
Robert ticks an eyebrow. "As expected. The North as a whole brought those stubborn headstrong asses into the fold. Suffer the consequence as I told you so now."
Ned shakes his head at that. "The North would find no rebellion from them anymore. They are none-kneelers but they have their own honour it seems. Being ungrateful ingrates to the hand that helps them in their greatest time of need is unthinkable as they points out to my Northern Lords and Ladies."
Said Northern Lords and Ladies concur quietly at Eddard Stark's words.
Jon is confused. "What seems to be the problem, then?"
"It is not something to be told. It is something that must be seen with our own eyes," Eddard Stark relays cryptically with a facsimile smile wide and teeth-baring.
Jon feels as if he is missing a jape that no one here but the North is aware of. Judging by the perplexed expressions as glances are traded, he's not the only one missing the jape.
"Behind the three hundred miles wide and seven hundred feet high wall of ice Bran Stark did not just put up on a whim," Eddard Stark begins with bold emphasis at the descriptive number. "the Free Folks have survived behind the walls in the most hostile and inhospitable territory of the North for thousands of years and would continue to do so. But for the past year and this coming winter, they have been knocking on our doors with a desperation us North, could not begin to comprehend. Why would they risk the North's wrath to be summarily executed with prejudice of the bad blood between us and them?"
"Who are they fleeing from?" is the quick uptake from Prince Oberyn Martell, the man who could not keep it on his pants would know. Many have tried to kill him. Especially the fathers and brothers offended with the lost of their ladies' honor, as rumours did exaggerate.
"That's why we need proof." Eddard says logically. "Even if it comes from someone that will make put the fear of the Old Gods on our heads."
Jon is mystified, taking note of such cautious undertaking by Ned who seems to…soften the blow on them.
230. Many years later, all in Harrenhal will be empathetic to what Harren the Black had went through when Aegon Targaryen paid him a visit.
In his hiding place behind the Daynes and Martell, Arthur Dayne is well-practiced to the old adage, 'seen but not heard' he has long since been an expert at Aerys' court. Still the same, politics is a bore to him even if he is well-versed to understand the nuance and the effect of the North's independence.
It is why when most of the people assembled in Harrenhal is watching on with riveted fascination of the drama between the King and the North contingent, and whatever big revelation Ned Stark is cryptic about as if to take things slowly…
It is Robb Stark, the Heir Apparent and his siblings, Arthur is observing. The four children seem raring to go and have been constantly eyeing the skies as if to summon a bad weather to ruin the day.
Arthur snorts to himself. Maybe they want to re-enact Harren the Black's ill-fate as most innocent children would while on Harrenhal. He and his siblings used to so the same role-play until he finds out when he got older while at Aerys's service that being alive is not funny at all.
At the corner of his eyes, Arthur notices younger Starks still forms as one even as they look up at the sky that seems to part enough for the sun to peek through Harrenhal.
This observation makes Arthur curious to look up as well. High in the eastern sky, he sees something odd on the clouds. Something that is winking in various colors. That odd thing travels through the clouds, and a particular one is approaching at a rapid pace that grows larger in glimmering sparkling red. The true shape of it soon becomes invisible, and Arthur realizes with a sudden jolt of apprehension that the shape is a dra—
"Fu—" Arthur stops as the air above the immense garden seems to vibrate, as if from a shockwave of pounding air. Like something bars the dragon from reaching Harrenhal with deliberate aggression. Whatever it is, seems to be more terrifying than the dragon itself.
Arthur grits in pain from the air pressure, his mind whirring that the dragon lore did not say anything about it.
Then the pounding pressure is gone.
Arthur blinks in confusion – his view is tilted on its side.
But. . .no. . . he is lying on the ground. There is an overturned goblet lying directly in front of him, and a boot only inches from his head.
What the hell. . . Arthur shifts, trying to push himself upright with success.
And he stares around the assemble people of Harrenhal in dazed shock. Every single person in the yard has fallen over. Even the gigantor like Lord Umber and his ilk is on the ground, sitting up and shaking his head in a drunken daze.
Then Rhaegar with heavily inked black hair is there, pulling Arthur through the throng of moaning, bewildered crowd. His attention is not on any of the crowd but somewhere above…
...Arthur followed his friend's line of sight.
Then a gust of wind blows fiercely onto them that screeches shrilly.
231. Above Harrenhal's Skies
"When it is a grand entrance, do it with style," Daenerys recommends sagely and with disapproving air to her elder brother.
"Is that why you winged slapped me away?" Viserys complains, righting himself on his Balerion who growls at a smug Viserion.
Daenerys sniffs primly. "Ladies first, gentlemen."
For the sake of peace, Aemon wisely keeps his mouth shut as he leaves the two on it.
232. On Harrenhal's Grounds
Jaws dropped open from adulterated instinctive fear and awe at the electrifying sight.
It is unreal.
Flaring its translucent wings, a gigantic three-headed snowy scaled dragon hangs on the air before them. The entire view of it has an otherworldliness of magnificence in it.
This is impossible. All the dragons were dead.
However, the evidence to that thought shows the contrary as the three-headed dragon veers off and lands right in the roomy courtyard that has a fallen watchtower, roaring as it did so. Cold draconic eyes of yellow, green, and red sweeps an inspection of intelligence at them as the middle head coils and unveils the said dragon's rider who dismounts in one sinuous grace of a dangerous warrior.
And that warrior removes her helmet, revealing a young woman having long, curly, raven hair flying with the wind like her crimson cloak billowing dramatically behind her back.
It makes an impressive sight that has even one Baratheon and a Tyrell who both do not find it easily to admire a woman's beauty so blatantly to suck their breath in awe.
Seeing the ghost of the She-Wolf Lyanna Stark being brought back to life, men and women alike could not reined in their gasps.
Of course. The first to regain his bearings is Robert Baratheon, who calls over with such heartfelt relief like a lover would.
At that, those historically famous Valyrian violet eyes settles over their King, completely indifferent at the rest observing her approach as she glides forward like a female predator she is of her blood to the Stark's direction in the midst of the spellbounded silence.
"Not quite, my Lords and Ladies of Westeros," Robb Stark interjects as he all but leaps in glee and clears his throat to speak up again. "Your Graces, it is my utmost pleasure to introduce my cousin, Lady Visenya Second of Her Name, Eldest twin daughter of Princess Lyanna Stark." Then he pauses in effect as if on relish. "…and the exiled Silver Prince Rhaegar Targaryen."
233. Olenna Tyrell smiles knowingly. "There is no dramatic play like the game of thrones, Willas."
"Not quite, my Lords and Ladies of Westeros," Robb Stark interjects as he all but leaps in glee and clears his throat to speak up again. "Your Graces, it is my utmost pleasure to introduce my cousin, Lady Visenya Second of Her Name, Eldest twin daughter of Princess Lyanna Stark." Then he pauses in effect as if on relish. "…and the exiled Silver Prince Rhaegar Targaryen."
As if the whole realm could forget the scandal of her birthparents and the bloodshed that came after,Willas dryly thinks as a not-so hushed conversations trickles from Stark Heir's announcement.
Objectively, Willas takes in slowly the unexpected arrival's physical features—a Lyanna's come again if what the King just shout is true. Valyrian blood has refined her Winter King's blood to the highest degree beauty that is admittedly, breathtaking to behold.
Lady Visenya stops halfway to the Starks and curtseys particularly to Eddard Stark, who has a truly frightening grin and fierce pride upon his face.
Willas hides the shiver from the effect of her sensuous voice.
"Finish flying around the Known World and conquering those lands your eyes fell in, niece?" the Stark asks with an eyebrow raised.
"For now, Nuncle." Visenya answers and tilts her head at the other assembled Lords and Ladies.
Willas could not help but winces as those unsettling eyes lands an undeniable tension to settle into their direction, before sweeping past them to look back at the skies.
As another dark draconic shadow falls upon them, Lady Visenya serious face curves to a fond smile that has undeniably enchanted the court, and its people judging their intakes of sharp breath. Willas keenly observes her kind of dangerous charms.
And all are utterly loss for words, again.
A one-headed red-scaled dragon sweeps in near them. Its rider making a show of leaping on the air to land right besides in a swerve to join the other three-headed snowy white scaled dragon. While other riders and their dragons just simply wait on them at the air.
Willas is shaking his head as he feels a headache coming in from seeing another dragon all the while he studies the young man who is nearly identical to Prince Rhaegar with only a younger age to distinguish them. The unknown man's right armcurls possessively around Lady Visenya's waist.
Visenya is still smiling and greets the man beside her with a kiss on the cheek.
Then she turns to the Starks specifically and introduces him. "This is Viserys of HouseTargaryen, my fellow Dragon Quartet."
"Greetings, Lords and Ladies of Westeros," Viserys Targaryen says, baring a smile in all teeth in utter smug satisfaction at the Royal Pavilion. "Usurper and his ilk."
A smug look that deserves a punch or two, Willas could not help but think in his inner thoughts as particular men and women as a whole are not looking entirely pleased.
Ever attentive to his instincts, Willas could not tell this which war is worst. The one Eddard Stark is alluding to or bloody war as he remembered that brewed before House Targaryen and House Stark because of Lady Lyanna Stark.
And now another one is to ignite in the name of Lyanna's daughter, the Lady Visenya of the Dragon Quartet.
234. Tywin Lannister finds his match in wits.
Knowing Robert would spontaneously combust sooner, Tywins cuts off the chase as he finally speaks out in front of the assembly:
"You're a dragon," he says flatly, ignoring the burning eyes aiming at him. "Conquering those lands your eyes fell in as said by your uncle is your playbook."
There, he's not above to use that man's words against his own niece as trumped card against the North's independence. "What proof would you offer that you do not have the same intention as your forefathers had done in Westeros?"
"I have no interest in claiming the Iron Throne, Lord Lannister." This Visenya looks perplexed like she has no clear understanding why she would have the ambition for her birthright.
Right. The girl is half-wolf. But still of Rickard Stark' loins.
Honest as that admission is though, it did not soothe Tywin's paranoia. "Should Westeros trust your word alone?"
"Your dear uncle has proven that even his honour will bend, child," Tywin informs her flatly, and forges on since he might as well go on, "The Dragon Quartet would have you speak for them in such important acquisition matters?" There is no smile from his grim visage as he eyes her and her entourage.
There, all locked in with silence, oppressive, and deafening silence.
Visenya glances towards her Northern contingencies as if blaming them without telling her she would be headfirst thrown at the game without sword and shield on. None of which could meet her eyes and prefer to eye the dragons around them.
Tywin eyes her. His lips are set in a grim line as he waits her out. He's not the only one as most people around them are still shell-shocked.
Then, Tywin forgets to care. Because there is something behind him that snarls with malevolence that has not been there the moment before.
For a moment, Tywin thinks it's her three-headed dragons. For Tywin, did not believe in myths and legends. At least, he did not believe until there is solid proof as seen by everyone screaming at the same sight of a walking Wight aiming at his throat.
(A Wight is hideously dead-looking and garbed with smelly dog-wet furs. With cold blue eyes, he says to his twins that night to keep them out of his quarters many years ago.)
Shock disbelief is barely a good description for what he feels right now. Denial and then hysteria is building up.
And then the Wight stops, some physical force prevents it and yanking it back strongly—by a chain on its feet—with its hand a foot near him, Tywin realizes with numbed relief.
Exhaling sharply, he struggles hard to maintain his dignity, years of unwilling to give an inch to show any vulnerability even as he stares incredulously into the cold blue eyes of the Wight.
"You ask for proof why I don't have interest of claiming the Iron Throne, Lord Lannister," Visenya begins softly as if not to spook Tywin back into hysteria, but her voice carries on to the bleak silence. The world seems to stand still. "Your games are nothing on what is out there."
The Wight hisses as if to agree with her, making the assembled people to shudder as one.
"Winter is coming, Westeros," Visenya says softly like pity condemnation at once.
That brutal honesty against his better judgment, knowing that did not make the process easier but her words strangely has Tywin to move on with rational haste. He looks at her just as intently, searching her face, and is surprised to come up with a semblance of understanding her.
"So you roam around. Conquering for the Known Word to be united for this reason," Tywin says with some perplexity. Absently, he wonders why no one has manage to interrupt them—and realizing just as fast. The first Visenya has history claimed to be a practitioner of magic. He will not make it past this same named one to be without it as well.
"No one else was. Too busy with their limiting…vision," Visenya says as if lamenting how little ordinary people plans.
They have a certain understanding even if she does not seem to realize it.
"Then I'll be blunt," Tywin continues his interrogation. "Why are you helping us? When you could let Westeros suffer? Your House enemies in one fell swoop?"
"My Nuncle cares about this kingdom. That is enough reason for me."
Around them, eyebrows shoot up in a nonverbal 'how generously naïve as it is dutiful'.
How nauseatingly heartfelt, Tywin muses to himself, and out loud he clarifies, "So you're helping Westeros for Eddard Stark?" For the whole Starks as well.
Visenya only nods, like bearing her heart with verbalized words is a vulnerability.
Tywin understands. His mind whirring with plans to preserve the Starks continued well-being. If only for the sake that Visenya would stay her hand to Tywin and any of his by reason of debt. A bone of contention he could use if any dragons has it on their head to grasp at straws in their need for justice.
"All right. So what will you do now? And yours?" Tywin eyes the silent allies of Visenya who are contented to let her speak for them.
Hmmm…the emissary of the Dragon Quartet. Isn't she?
Visenya shakes her head, and then glances at someone who looks like young Eddard Stark only with dark purple eyes. "Aemon."
She sounds as if to reprimand him but at the same time, darkly amused as well.
The one holding and who yanked the chain of the still snarling Wight, Tywin realizes belatedly.
The young man, Aemon's lips are in a tight grim line as he glowers right back at Tywin.
Overprotective of your twin aren't you?
"I have other things to do."
Words that have Tywin to focus his attention back to her once more. "What things, if I may ask?"
Visenya's expression grows positively stormy.
…It seems he oversteps, and he curses himself for it mildly alarm to find his hairs actually standing up in fright that has him to take a step back before he realizes it. Absentmindedly, Tywin observes everyone doing the same thing as he did.
"And you have to thank the Hightowers and the Citadel for disabling the protections of the Old Gods on your lands by systematically killing off any potential magical conduits," Visenya rumbles and the Harrenhal practically shakes with it. "The North Remembers and practices the rituals of the Old Gods. So did Dorne, the Ironborn, the Vale Man and some. Doing it so renews the runes of protections that have only saved them by far. But a lot more has been ignored, misused, and soon forgotten how to do them right and as it should be under the watchful eyes of the Old Gods."
Mind coming up with some theories has put lead weight on his chest and feeling ill himself from the implications, Tywin did not need to see the slow and gradual comprehension dawning on the assembly's faces as most cast glares at the Hightowers (which has a major influence in the Citadel) combining with the Houses' Maesters who all look suitably in parts alarmed, chastised, guilty, and few completely unrepentant. On the other hand, they appear to be at a standstill. Motionless. Like something is holding them back.
"What would you have us do?" Doran Martell finally interrupts them, his expression just as appalled by Visenya's words but vigilantly focused intently. The rest of Dorne casting glares at the Hightowers and the Maesters in his stead.
"The…Prophecy," here, the Martell Prince says the word like it cost his everything to do so,
"is void without the help of the Fated One."
Tywin shudders a little when a cold wind blows chilling Harrenhal while Visenya stares at the Eldest Martell Prince.
…The rumoured Rhaegar's obsession with a specific prophecy has never sounded so inevitable. Until now.
"You're Rhaenys' Uncle," she says at long last, led by a nod from her own uncle, Stark when she glances at him tellingly.
Afterwards, she exchanges looks with her twin brother, Aemon, Viserys, and a brief look above that has Tywin to look up as well.
Daenerys Targaryen, he assumes with forced calm as more dragons evidently comes out of the woodwork.
Their faces becoming blanked of any emotion like of deep deliberation. The four of them, the Dragon Quartet, apparently is having a nonverbal communication. That has the entire if not most of the smartest from the assembly becoming apprehensive how it must be taken on par with judging the four dragon's rather long silence.
Then with blanked expressions, the three nod back to Visenya.
The main speaker of the House is Visenya, Tywin assesses and aligns that fact to his analysis.
Then she speaks, her violet eyes glowing with cold amethyst colored fire. "One, don't you dare divide yourselves by reason of difference of opinions. Two, pertaining to the Citadel and the Hightowers, the Dragon Quartet suggests to answer injustice with justice when it concerned the vile accumulated culling of innocent children, men and women…"
At the horrified gasps from the Hightowers by the second instruction, Visenya is all smiles with teeth and no humor in it.
"The Dragon Quartet owes your lot nothing but enmity between us," she says with damning viciousness curling in her words.
Something tells Tywin, that Westeros will be short of one Noble House by the time the assembly will end if only to gain her favour.
"Third, shield your lands with knowledge—" she nods at the Tycho Nestoris. "—the Iron Bank would offer assistance. For a price. Fourth, if any of you wish to speak with the Dragon Quartet…" she stops, a pause cuing someone to speak up.
It is Lord Stannis' heiress, Shireen Baratheon stepping in forward whose unscarred face has them taken aback.
The young girl nods politely without curtsying. "Shireen Baratheon, I am Dragonstone's Emissary."
Not Baratheon, but Dragonstone.
Her declared announcement stirs the assembly uneasily of what it means for Westeros.
It is Robert Baratheon though snapping back like he's just thought of something helpful for once that has Tywin mildly startled.
"Have Ser Barristan Selmy and Ser Jaime Lannister—" The Big Oaf negotiates in a spur-of-the-moment stately gall like Mad Aerys which makes Tywin to grit his teeth. "—as the respective Emissaries of the Crown and Casterly Rock."
His order has Tywin conflicted. Particularly, for his son and heir, Jaime.
"On one condition," Visenya counters.
Tywin observes as Robert looks on like a besotted fool. "Yes, my Lady?"
"While on service as Emissaries to the Dragon Quartet, I won't have your recommended knights to stay celibate."
Robert looks startled. He's not the only one.
"Why?" it is Jon Arryn who recovers first asking in a respectful tone.
"I won't curtail a potential future generation with skills like them to be passed on for the future's sake," Visenya deadpans as if talking to unintelligent sort while blatantly ignoring Stark's reproving look.
Unrepentantly dragging people to her pace, her logic is sound even as she sounds so insolent, Tywin finds himself…predisposed to Visenya's tactics.
A befuddled nod from both Robert and Jon Arryn is her answer.
"And fifth, try to keep up with us," Visenya continues sassily that on anyone else would get a slap for the sheer condescension from her tone alone.
Even Tywin shoots a look at her dragons with speed unparalleled with any other breed of steed.
Visenya heaves a sigh. Her twin having the expression as her, walks towards her with his right hand raised. She did the same, and when their hands made contact. There is a breeze like a window or door opening.
And something did open… a gateway.
…Reality seems to bend the same as Visenya and hers shape it to their own making, Tywin comments forcing calm which he did successfully through burying his hysteria. He could only sympathize those who can't do the same who are gawking with indignity.
"Announce the name of your respective houses and this gateway will take you back once you pass through it. The gateway will close when the sun is down. By first light its strength is fully renewed for safe travels, on the third day it will closed permamently. Use it well," Visenya explains smoothly like she and Aemon did not do the impossible. "We understand that all of you need time to process.
Reserving his thoughts, Tywin just nods stiffly in understanding.
And then, with a nod at the North contingents, Visenya, Aemon and Viserys are approached by her three-headed dragon like sizes don't matter on their speed and agility as both ascend to the air.
Tywin notes, hers could carry three people at once with ease.
Visenya inclines her head respectfully at Stark's direction, "We'll take the scenic route. Two moonturns from now we'll see you back in the North, Nuncle, Lords and Ladies of the North." She also inclines her head with a fond smile at Shireen Baratheon which the girl returns with a beaming smile, and a nod to Doran Martell, lastly.
And as if an afterthought, Visenya waves a hand out. One silver-scaled dragon responds and descends, aiming for the Starks.
There is a scream of glee, a feminine squeak, and two splutters of surprised voices. With a wingbeat, they too, ascend on the air with merry delight.
It is Tyrion who speaks up first after they leave. "That black dragon lady is pretty much terrifying as hell."
"…L-Lord Tyrion, Lady Visenya's dragons is white as snow," His squire points out.
"Irrelevant. Her hair is as black as raven who bears dark words. Vicious as well," Tyrion counters flatly. Then he looks pointedly at his sister who is opening and closing her mouth without a voice. "Spellbound to speechless, aren't you? I wouldn't mind learning that particular spell myself."
All the more reason to stand beside this young woman, and not against her. For now.
235. Tyrion's solution for world view flipped? Is drunken fest.
On the first day of the gateway time-bounded existence, the North is the first to leave, and later on followed by the Riverlanders and Dorne.
At Harrenhal, the Reach, The Vale, and the Stormlanders remain to discuss the Hightower's and Citadel's fate. The only Hightowers spared are those who are exiled in the North, who all washed their hands off and is petitioning to change the name of their House.
Later that night, those who remain at camp on Harrenhal are drinking.
"It's a lot to take in," Tyrion offers with an unhelpful manic glee to his fellow drunkards. There is a lot at camp. Provided enough alcohol, they could process with everything that much.
What happened is an understatement of unreasonable proportions.
His brother, Jaime is thunking his head on the table, grounding himself in the solid sensation of smooth and hard and cold and willing this whole-what-the-fuck day to be simply that.
Naturally, that did not work. Tyrion pities him and the rest. It is always painful to have one's world view being flip, torn apart and smashed brutally into one's own face.
Even their father, the Great Lion himself takes himself into a hastily made personal quarter on Harrenhal's grounds to panic in private. With Arbor Gold he hoards with a snarl.
"Because Westeros stood a better chance of getting out alive if we didn't antagonize the Dragon Quartet, especially the black dragon lady," Tyrion deadpans even as he fortifies himself with his own bottle of liquid curage.
Jaime looks pitiful like a drowned cat.
"You all right, Jaime?"
"Why are you so happy?!" Jaime snaps.
"This is a stuff of legends, dearest brother," Tyrion admits. "It's rather exciting to face something magical for a man of my stature."
"For us maybe. Cersei is—" Jaime takes a swig from his bottle.
"Oi! That's mine."
"Cersei hates her, Tyrion," Jaime continues. "And with the King volunteering me with father's noted nonverbal compliance…"
Tyrion eyes his brother's apprehension with dark amusement. "Cersei will be eaten for breakfast if she tries anything, Jaime."
"Burn alive is more like it," Jaime corrects with a haunted look on his face.
Tyrion winces. Right. The fire and madness. The observation is fairly correct when it comes to Targaryen.
There is not enough alcohol in the world to erase that shit from Jaime.
I tried to explain the Jon Arryn's stance, but I didn't go too in-depth on what happened. And yes, the draconic entrance from Visenya Blackfyre fic, is originally written, for Ice Princess Visenya. Then I think I could use it with some minor alterations. Both Visenya and Aemon will be the main spokespersons of The Dragon Quartet. Why? The thought of both Dany and Viserys interacting with any Westerosi puts icy fear in their hearts. They would do anything. Not to allow these two to be tainted by Westeros. But there are still few chapter to go on. As for the Noble Houses' unpaid taxes, I reflect that is why the Night's Watch is just getting by when I researched about it. A reason good enough for the North to declare their independence. And with good timing, with the Night King's army, winter, and the Dragon Quartet, the North is confident the Crown will bend. So this is what I would like to happen that deviate the cannon verse. There were claimants for the Iron Throne will be postponed. For now.
By the way, check out my Supernatural fics when there is time. I've been too hung up on Supernatural and other fantasy series, that I channelled it through this major cannon divergence AU. I hope it works well.
Please follow me on another fic account-ChaChing8MzMyloh8 in Archive of Our Own (ao3)
And my thanks for your patience and continued support ;D