Prologue

Sundas, the 17th of Last Seed, Year 201 of the 4th Era

Once again Ralof studied the girl across from him. It wasn't like there was much else to do tied up in the back of this cart. Listen to the clip-clop of hoofbeats on cobblestone. Stare at the passing trees and wildlife. Exchange knowing glances with the true High King. Listen to the horsethief whine and complain. Study the girl.

She didn't belong with them. The braiding in her hair alone made that clear. Not that Nord girls didn't braid their hair, but her braids were far too fancy and intricate. She was the daughter of wealth. Perhaps a minor noble or a rich merchant's daughter fleeing an arranged marriage? Yet she was dressed in prisoner's sackcloth and covered from crown to feet in ashes. The soles of her feet were raw and bloody bad enough that her wounds would fester although it was doubtful she'd live long enough for that to happen.

The cart hit a washout and dropped at least a hand.

The girl startled awake. "Skoriot issi Ä«lon?"

"I'm sorry lass. I don't speak that tongue"

"What language is that even?" asked the horsethief.

Ralof glanced at his king. Ulfric shrugged. "Nothing from around here." Ulfric was a learned man. If he didn't know, then what hope did they have?

"Tat yer tiholat Dothraki?" Doth thou wot Westerosi?" babbled the girl.

That sounded like two different languages from the lilt of them. One harsh and angry, one softer.

"What is that jibber gab?" asked the thief.

"How would I know? I'm just a soldier." He had no more idea where she was from than she had of what she'd been swept up in. She looked like a Nord with her pale blonde hair, but no daughter of Skyrim would shiver so much on a warm summer's morning. Plus, her violet eyes and delicate features spoke of mer blood. Maybe a Breton?

She sighed deeply, brought up her bound hands, and tapped her chest. "Daenerys."

He tapped his own chest. "Ralof." It wouldn't change anything, but it was better than thinking about what would happen at the end of the ride.