Rain fell heavily all over the land washing away the blood and sweat shed by the men in battle. But, no amount of rain was going to wash away the bodies strewn across the landscape.
Nobles and peasants alike lay broken across the battlefield. Some were cut down by swords some got smashed by the cavalry charges, some were crushed by the rampaging elephants and some had arrows sticking out of their bodies. Whatever the cause men lay broken across the field, their eyes unseeing to the happenings of the material world. The stench of death filled the nostrils of the survivors.
Aegon took in the devastation of the battle before him with horror. He was no stranger to death but the scene of this battlefield didn't sit well with him. To think he would have to fight many such battles to reclaim the Iron Throne made his skin crawl.
Looking across the battlefield he wondered how many sons lost their fathers as he lost his in the Battle of the Trident? How many mothers must have lost their sons? How many children were now orphaned because of him?
He had contemplated these issues when he first took Storm's End. At that time, he thought justice was on his side. But, the battle that was fought here felt not one of justice.
At least, those who died have passed away into the cold night. The dead doesn't feel anything but that was not the case for the living.
Aegon listened to the screams of foes and friends alike in the distance. They were being treated in the camp they have set up and Aegon held no hope the screams are going to die down anytime soon. Many of them will be crippled for life and most of those men had nothing to do with the injustices heaped upon his mother and sister.
If it was Tywin Lannister, Aegon would have gladly gutted the man like a fish. But, this butchery…!
"Seven save my soul." he muttered as he took in the dismembered bodies strewn across the battlefield.
Crows were greedily feasting on the flesh of men. A feast he helped serve to the crows and termites of the land.
Try as he might but Aegon could not take his eyes away from the death and destruction he brought.
"Do not be discouraged your grace." said Jon Connington, pulling his horse to a stop near Aegon's right side.
"How many men died on their side?" asked Aegon.
"Thousands." answered Jon.
"How many men died on our side?"
"This battle could have been avoided if you had sought a parlay with Lord Tarly." Aegon accused as he rounded on his Hand with eyes blazing in fury.
"And nothing would have come off from such a meeting except losing our advantage. It would have only increased the number of casualties on our side." said Jon.
Aegon knew Jon speaks true but he could not help thinking of an alternate ending instead of this devastation.
"I was once like you, young and considerate of the lives of the innocents. I chased Robert Baratheon after the Battle of Ashford to Stoney Sept in the Riverlands. I wanted no innocent blood spilt so I ordered the loyalist soldiers to search for the Usurper door to door. Because of my mercy, Robert Baratheon survived the day to kill your father at the Trident. A mistake that I shall not make ever again."
"But…but you did the right thing. You waged war at those who took arms, not against the unarmed populace near the Stony Sept." argued Aegon.
"Aye, I did. If only I had burned the whole villages down your father would have ruled as King as he should have and all the battles that followed the Battle of Bells would have never happened." said Jon, a faraway look on his face before turning on Aegon. "Tell me, what would have been better? Me killing thousands of innocents to spare hundreds of thousands or sparing thousands to only doom hundreds of thousands?"
Aegon remained silent and went back to stare at the desolate battlefield. It was a question he had no answer to.
"Mercy is good in times of peace. In times of war, military might is all that matters. I learned that lesson by paying a great price. I swore myself when I took you into my arms that I'd see you coronated as the King of the Seven Kingdoms. Then only can I face Rhaegar with my head held high in the afterlife." said Jon
For a moment, the two remained silent with only the sound of rain and howling winds between them.
"Any word from Lord Tarly?" Aegon eventually asked.
"Nothing so far. The prisoners we took saw the Tarly banners fleeing west. They were mostly horses so they must have covered quite some ground. I have sent men to track down Tarly. Most likely the man's destination is Summerhall."
"Why? Isn't it likely that he will retreat to King's Landing?" asked Aegon
"Something tells me Lord Tarly would prefer to regroup with his reserves and pull back to the Reach." said Jon
"Why?" he asked with a raised eyebrow.
Jon fished out a piece of parchment and offered it to Aegon.
"This came from Blackhaven. Lord Anders Yornwood has taken Blackhaven and is marching into Stormlands with a portion of the Dornish army through Boneway. Your cousin Obara Sand has taken to the Prince's Pass with another host that has put Nightsong under siege."
"So, Lord Yornwood might be able to cut off Lord Randyll from retreating to the Reach?" asked Aegon.
"Possibly, if Lord Tarly is delayed from reaching Summerhall. That will be the best-case scenario but we are not in a position to move our troops. We have prisoners and wounded to take care of. I'm hoping Nightsong will fall and if that happens the entire westerns plains of the Reach will be threatened by the Dornish army. Lord Tarly will seek us out for terms."
"Who rules Nightsong?" asked Aegon
"The castle was held by House Caron which has gone extinct. Now, it is ruled by Philip Foote, a Lannister dog. He will be tasting Dornish spears soon enough." said Jon with a wicked smile.
"So, where shall we strike next?" asked Aegon
"We retreat to Storm's End. We have captured quite a few knights and lords of the Reach. Now is the time to bargain and force the Reach to buy back their kin with gold and oaths of loyalty. Not to mention, you need to reward Stormlords and the Golden Company who fought with you in the field."
"I didn't do much fighting."
"You bloodied your sword in this battle and that's more than enough." said Jon
Aegon let out a sigh before he took his leave from the battlefield. Maybe, some sleep under the roof of Storm's End would help him clear his mind.
Nyestros Maegyr remembered a time when his life was simpler. There was nothing much to worry about and he only had to watch for plots and intrigue in the Volantine court.
Never had he imagined his life would be overhauled in a single instant. Looking back he realized all of it started the moment he was saved by a slave from drowning in the Rhoyne River. That event caused a shift in his sister's mind that led her all the way to Westeros.
It was unthinkable for a noble lady of House Maegyr to live out her life in Westeros where Andals thrived. As a Maegyr, Talisa was supposed to uphold the ideals of the Valyrian motherland. Yet, her sister dyed her hair black and turned her back against the traditions of mother Vlayria.
Nyestros remembered his sister as a gentle soul. It was not in her nature to harm others and yet the barbarian Andals butchered her and her babe in cold blood. The sheer arrogance of some mongrel Andal to do such a heinous act upon a noble lady of Volantis burned him day and night.
With all the wealth his family have garnered over the centuries it would have been easy to have these Freys and Lannisters killed. The House of Black and White would kill for them so long as he threw gold in their face. But, Nyestros was not satisfied with merely killing off those responsible for his sister's murder.
He decided to kill those who harmed his sister with his own hands. And that's how he found himself on the shores of Dragonstone.
Nyestros ducked and slashed across the Andal's throat with a swift strike. Whitestar opened the Andal's throat, the Valyrian steel sword of his ancestors proving its worth despite long years of inaction.
The Queen's Unsullied were steadily making their way into the castle while he and the sellswords he hired made short work of any leftover stragglers at the shores.
He had thought the Targaryen island fortress would have been defended more strenuously. But, no! The Andals charged with defending the island of Dragonstone were incompetent morons. One major push from the Queen's armies was all it took for the defenders to buckle and falter.
"No! I surrender!" an Andal cried stumbling through the sandy shores being chased by some sellswords.
"My lord! My lord, please! I have children. Please spare me!"
Nyestros glared coldly into the man's eyes before driving Whitestar into the man's throat. He watched as the Andal choked in his own blood to death.
"Spare no one." Nyestros ordered before he sought out his next victim.
There was a blood lust in him that would not settle down until he drowned Westeros in Lannister and Frey blood. But, they were miles away so he'd settle for their Andal brethren.
Two large dragons flew over the battlefield roaring out a challenge to the defenders of the castle. It was a challenge the defenders could not meet. It took quite a while but the fighting was slowly dying down.
Even so, Nyestros continued his hunt until all the Andals gave up their weapon and knelt.
When the Targaryen banner was raised atop the castle of Dragonstone it was nearly sunset but the shores of the island were filled with Andal blood.
A good start as any, in Nyestros' opinion.
That night he stayed with the Red Priests basking in the warmth provided by the flames of the Red God.
Come morning when the first rays of dawn fell on the shores the Red Priests performed the ritualistic sacrifice thanking the Red God for their first victory. It was a good sacrifice in his opinion. Two Septons were burned in the magical fire created by High Priest Benerro. The Septon had at first threatened with his fake gods. When those threats fell on deaf ears the Septon had pleaded and cried his way to the purifying flames of R'hllor.
He held no sympathy for the Andal Septon and watched dispassionately as the old man consumed by the flames of R'hllor.
More and more ships were disembarking on the shores carrying troops of the Targaryen Queen. And with those troops came the faithful of R'hllor to fight the great Battle for Dawn.
Nyestros listened to the sermon of the High Priest Benerro. His status as a noble from Volantis and a major contributor to this campaign gave him a front-row seat.
"Look to the east faithful children of R'hllor. The army of Dawn is assembling but keep in mind the Great Other has been at work for a long time. These fake gods the Andals prey to is the Great Other's trickery. We must cleanse this great continent and unite Lightbringer with Azor Ahai. The War for Dawn has begun. So, step up oh great warriors of Dawn. Step up and spill the blood of the heretics to strengthen the divine flame."
She had dreamed of this very moment so many times ever since she learned of her inheritance. In Braavos, her brother would tell her stories of their distant homeland. The famed castle of Dragonstone where the Targaryens survived the Doom that befell the Valyrian Freehold. It was from Dragonstone Aegon and his sisters launched their great Conquest.
At the height of Targaryen power, Dragonstone was filled with gold and ships. It was an island of dreams for a girl who grew up running from assassins and was forced to beg on the streets for food.
When many a night she'd struggle with hunger, her brother had whispered sweet stories of the greatness of their ancestors. The great throne room of Dragonstone where the Dragonglass throne sat towering over the hall. It was the seat of the Prince of Dragonstone.
Daenerys stared mesmerizingly at the fabled seat of heirs of the Iron Throne. She was oh so tempted to sit on the throne but she restricted those thoughts. Instead, she roamed her fingers over the surface of the throne.
Letting out a sigh Daenerys left the throne room and found the fabled painted table commissioned by Aegon.
The painted table lay in one of the highest towers of the castle. Sculptures of dragons and Valyrian glyphs adorned the chamber. Even from this height, she could hear the hymn of crashing waves and the cry of seagulls.
Each step she made echoed in the chamber as she walked around the painted table. Her fingers slid over the painted kingdoms on the table. From the North to Dorne she let her fingers trail until finally, she stopped at Dorne.
Turning around her eyes raked over the table staring at each of the Seven Kingdoms.
Daenerys pulled her eyes away from the painted table to her advisor. So far, the youngest son of Tywin Lannister has been immensely useful in achieving her goals. She had no reason to believe that won't continue.
"Now that we have Dragonstone where do I strike?" she asked, staring intently into Tyrion's mismatched eyes.
"First, we establish control of the Narrow Sea. The Narrow Sea lords will have to swear their fealty before we can strike at the Lannisters." said Tyrion.
"I understand. I believe ravens are already on their way calling for the Narrow Sea lords to swear their fealty. While they arrive we need to plan our next strike. Where do you suggest we strike?"
"Does your grace intend to hold a meeting with your nephew regarding the succession of the Iron Throne?" asked Tyrion.
"Then our target is clear." said Tyrion, walking around the painted table before placing a gold dragon on the city of King's Landing. "Control of the capital means upper hand in any negotiations with your nephew."
Daenerys nodded at the point Lord Tyrion made before eyeing the city of King's Landing.
"You once defended the city. How do you suggest we take it?" she asked
Daenerys watched a wicked smile came across the face of her advisor.
"As it happens your grace I have a plan."
She listened patiently as Tyrion explained the beginnings of a plan. When Tyrion finished his explanation she nodded but decided to ask for Ser Barristan's opinion as well. It would not do if she made her battle plans solely based on Lord Tyrion.