Chapter 3:

TYRION
MEEREEN

The bells were ringing. Loud and clear!

"Instead of abolishing slavery overnight, we will give you seven years to end the practice."
"Let us sail on the tide of freedom instead of being drowned by it."
"Give freedom a chance and see if it doesn't taste every bit as good as what came before."

How Tyrion Lannister regretted his own words as he scowled, from the lowest balcony of the great pyramid, upon the hundreds of slaver's ships reaching the shores of Meereen.
After all, finding a way to align his interests with his enemies', convincing them that working with him will eventually result in their own personal glory, had generously been successful for him in the past.

When Tyrion was prisoner in the highest cell in the Eyrie, he convinced Mord, the prison guard, to pass on a message to the Lady Arryn having suspected that the bold fat man was thirsty for gold and promised him plenty if he helped.

When the hill tribesmen surrounded Tyrion and Bronn in the woods of The Vale, Tyrion quickly determined that Shagga, son of Dolf — the tribe chief — was yearning to own the mountain lands he had raided his entire life. If the half-man's life was spared, he would be given all of it and more…

When Tyrion was on trial for murdering the King, his only two options were death or exile and he was begged by his brother to plead for the wall. Instead, he cleverly staged a confession shaming his captors into giving him the third legal option they had forgotten to present him with: trial by combat. It bought him some time and eventually, led him to freedom.

He underestimated the Good Masters of Astapor, the Wise Masters of Yunkai, and the Benevolent enslavers of Volantis. How? He questioned, already knowing the answer; he was far from home and the politics of Essos were more foreign to him than he cared to admit.
"Grey Worm was right… these people only answer to blood…"

The bells are ringing, loud and clear!
A large stone, coated with wild vines on fire, materializes with high speed as it is heading straight into him. He instinctively leaps to his left, falling head first on the masonry, dodging the projectile by a few inches.

BOOM! A large portion of the stoned wall tumbles and destroys the right facade of the balcony, the whole of it crashing down on Meereenese men, women and children running from certain death.
Smoke and dust rain down on Tyrion before a rock hits his head. Laying on the stone, dazed and confused, he slowly opens his eyes.
The Sons of the Harpy, with their golden masks of horned faces, hundreds and hundreds of them battling the thousands of Unsullied on the widest paved street in the city.
Long daggers clashing spears! The dark-armored eunuchs seem to be having the upper hand despite former Meereenese slavers joining the ranks of the Harpies. Dead bodies of gold and ornate iron cover the limestone blocks while blood pours out like rivers into sewers.
Tyrion looks ahead and sees the armies of Astapor, Yunkai and Volantis running through the numerous alleyways of the city in the direction of the melee, murdering all in their path.
The cavalry of Second Sons came galloping from the sides and trampled over the vanguard of the Slavers' army, hooves crushing heads on paved ground, steel piercing through neighing horses collapsing on fresh corpses.
Many of the slavers' soldiers manage to sneak past the mounted troops and into the large square delivering much needed aid to their fellow Harpies.

Tyrion glances to the right and the voice of Grey Worm can be heard from afar, barking a command in Valyrian.
Swiftly, some of the Unsullied encircled their enemies that stayed closer together, trapping them in a web of spears. Immediately, the same amount of Unsullied created a second layer, encircling their allies, their back against theirs.
The inner-circle was closing in, one step at a time, one jab at a time, round shields forming protection. The outer circle moved as seamlessly while protecting their allied rear.
The rebels trapped inside the shrinking circle swung their daggers and swords as far as they could; at best, they would reach the pointy end of the Unsullied lances. Ultimately, they succumbed to the military prowess of Grey Worm.

Tyrion glances to the left and witnesses many Unsullied being stabbed in the back by numerous amount of Harpies that came flocking from the northern part of the city.
From the corner of his right eye, he sees an unsullied soldier being escorted by four of his brothers in the direction of the Great Pyramid. He appears to be bleeding from his lower torso. Five more Unsullied come to protect the convoy. The wounded soldier withdraws his helmet. Tyrion murmurs his name.

TYRION: Grey Worm…

Tyrion's eyes widen, his senses slowly coming back to him. He keeps hearing the loud smashes of stoned ammunitions resonating against the city walls. The deafening sound came from all around, all at once. All of the strength in his body is used to lift himself back up when he feels hands grabbing him by his tunic. He quickly turns to see that they belong to a bald man with a worried frown.
Lord Varys pulls him inside the Pyramid when a projectile explodes on what remains of the balcony.
Flying fragments of glass and tiles, debris, smoke and dust flow in the room as Tyrion gets back on his feet, coughing out his last lung.

VARYS: I sent my birds to escort the people of Meereen through the underground tunnel. We must leave the city at once.

TYRION: Leave? Where would we go? The Great Pyramid is the safest place there is right now.

VARYS: They're catapulting this city to the ground. The Loraq Pyramid is in flames. The streets overwhelmed with Harpies —

TYRION: — And Unsullied. And Second Sons. Can we get to our fleet?

VARYS: Drowning as we speak at the bottom of the Summer Sea.

TYRION: This pyramid has never fallen and it's known worse. I don't even think wildfire could take it down. When The Ghiscari built this city, they made sure of that. Even the Dragon Lords of Valyria could not take this Pyramid down —

VARYS: — I am not here to argue history with you and I'm not planning on finding out if what you've read holds truth.

TYRION: And where do you plan on going? No. We need to reassemble. Our armies outnumber theirs. The Unsullied are the most disciplined warriors known to man.

VARYS: On the ground perhaps, but I've never known discipline to conquer ships when their fleet outnumber us a hundred to none!

"The fault is mine. I can turn this around." Tyrion kept repeating, refusing to admit defeat.

TYRION: there has to be another way. We just have to think.

VARYS: The underground has a secret tunnel leading East. At the end of it, we'll be far away from the city gates and on our way to —

TYRION: — We cannot abandon the city. Our queen has —

VARYS: — Is to the East. in Bayasabhad, across the Bone Mountains. That is where our path leads. If the slavers, or the harpies find us alive… You're a dwarf. I'm a Eunuch. Serving their enemy. How far do you think they'll go until we wish we were dead?!

Both Varys and Tyrion squat down spontaneously under the rugged, long, command table as they overhear military footsteps entering the room with great haste.
They lift themselves back to their feet when they realize it is ten Unsullied soldiers including Grey Worm, blood dripping from his breastplate to the floor, his bare right arm hanging around Missandei's shoulder and his left around the waist of an armored brother. The rest of them, creating a wall of shields around them.

MISSANDEI: Grey Worm, please, we have to leave —

Grey Worm sights Tyrion and immediately pulls his arms away from Missandei and the Unsullied soldier.

GREY WORM: You!

He points directly at the dwarf, his other hand pressing on his wound. Slightly limping with threatening eyes, he advances towards Tyrion as Varys puts himself in between the two men.

GREY WORM: I tell you! I warn you! You do not know them. You do not know any of us. You don't speak for us. You have betray my queen. You betray her work.

Grey Worm takes out a dagger from the scabbard attached to his belt.

GREY WORM: Varys. Move!

Varys straightens his arms, hands flat against the weapon. Missandei rapidly runs to her lover, grabbing his arm.

MISSANDEI: You're bleeding… Please sit.

She caresses him on the cheek, comforting his anger as drops of blood trickle down his hand pressed on the open wound. Grey Worm stays focused on the dwarf.

VARYS (in High Valyrian): Torgo Nudho, sir iksis daor se jēda naejot sagon divided amongst jemēla. Istiti mirre hēnkirī naejot jiōragon hen hen bisa situation alive. Kostilus, dīnagon ilagon se egros.

TYRION: Varys is right, Grey Worm.

Tyrion comes out of Varys' shadow and takes small steps towards Grey Worm.

TYRION: If you want to strike me down because you believe I have intentionally betrayed our queen then do it now and do it quick before the city falls.
But if you believe that I've made a terrible mistake by ignoring your advice and underestimating the enemy then I ask you to reconsider and accept my sincere apology but with all due respect Grey Worm, they were going to attack anyway.
They had already taken back Astapor and Yunkai. How long do you think it would've taken them to realize that our ruler was gone with her strongest dragon, and the other two, absent of defense.
I was buying time hoping that queen Daenerys Targaryen would come back in time.

Grey Worm, unconvinced, puts his dagger back into its scabbard while pressing harder on his wound and emitting a sigh of slight pain. Missandei sits him on the nearest chair.

GREY WORM: I could have cut their throats.

TYRION: Yes, you could have and maybe, you should have and I apologize for trying the diplomatic approach. We're doing it your way now.
Lord Varys advises that we leave the city at once and join our queen in the East.
I believe we're safe in the Pyramid, it's been built to withstand the worst and projectiles on fire is not the worst. I believe that with the full force of the Unsullied, the Second Sons, the former slaves… and the two dragons…

Tyrion had their curiosity. He now has their attention.

GREY WORM: Dragons are in chain. In cave. Enemies all around.

TYRION: I could get them out. I'll sneak past the enemy and free the dragons from the catacombs. They could outmaneuver their catapults and set their fleet ablaze! They can also give much needed aid on the ground.

VARYS: Whatever the amount of sleepless nights you spend in their company, dragons remain untamed beasts during which time their mother is far from home.
I'm certain they can feel the turmoil outside their walls. They could easily mistake you for one who would wish them harm. The last I heard, you were not the unburnt.
Let's assume that you do manage to set them free. How do they know what to kill or what not to kill?

MISSANDEI: Dragons don't make the difference between the good ones and the bad ones. They could burn us all.

VARYS: They've been in captivity for quite some time. They may just fly away, never to return. Or worse, it could turn out to be their demise.
Remember what a pitiful, handful of Harpies managed to do to Drogon in the great pit of Daznak? And he was the biggest, and the strongest —

TYRION: — Drogon was on land. They'll be in the air, far enough from their reach —

VARYS: Even so, dragons are far from invulnerable. It's a thousand against two. It may take plenty of arrows or spears, flying daggers or stones on fire… but now and again, it may only take one…

TYRION: I understand the consequences and I appreciate the concern. But if we ride East as you want us to, we'll need them with us anyway. We're not abandoning them here.

Concerned, Varys nods in agreement.

VARYS: Ultimately, you seem to understand them better than we…

TYRION: And they're the only chance we got at destroying that fleet and I'm ready to take that risk if Grey Worm agrees. All of our forces combined, we can take this city back!

Tyrion turns to Grey Worm.

TYRION: What do you command?

All pair of eyes in the room were fixed on Grey Worm and all could see his discomfort. Until now, the extent of his decisions solely staked the lives of his soldiers; he never had to worry about the common men, women, children. That was the job of his leaders, the politicians, the masters, the rulers.

BANG! The focus switched upwards to where the bang echoed. The room slightly trembled as countless small specks of dust floated down from the high ceiling and made their way unto the ground, their hair, their skin and clothes.
Tyrion was right, their artillery cannot penetrate the thick stoned fortification. After all, these structures were built for the gods; the foundations of the pyramid were massive and dense, supporting the weight of the structure overhead. The interior walls were three times thicker than any castle's curtain walls.

GREY WORM: Unsullied do not run… I… do not run…

Grey Worm was struggling to stand but managed by pushing his weight on the table with his right hand while Missandei was gently pulling his left arm up.

GREY WORM: Tyrion, save dragons… This is city of our Queen. We must defend it… Die for it.

Tyrion believed in his strategy. He did want to right his wrong as well as prove to Grey Worm and the others he had a place in this world. Still, a part of him wished Grey Worm had sided with Varys.

MISSANDEI: You are wounded. We must retreat! Find our queen, and then take the city back when we are ready.

Grey Worm barks orders in Valyrian to the Unsullied soldiers in the room who stand in formation, ready to follow him.

GREY WORM (to Missandei): You don't understand, if the city falls, I have failed. We have failed. These are consequence of failure.

Grey Worm alters his pain into strength. He grabs spear and helmet and marches out of the great room, descending the steep steps of the Pyramid that lead to the courtyard. His posse following him in double file. Tyrion and Varys at the rear, following their trail. Missandei, walking by her lover's side, attempting to make him see reason.

MISSANDEI: I understand what this means Grey Worm. But you have to listen to me. If Varys is right, if the dragons just fly away. Even if you manage to kill them all, our fleet is still gone. You can't swim to their ships. They'll trap us inside here until we starve. Are you in such a hurry to become a slave again?!

The Unsullied around Grey Worm open the Great Pyramid's main doors where the chime of battle resonated like thunder.
Shields up! The nine Unsullied, in a row, protecting their leaders. Grey Worm throws on his helmet. Tyrion, Varys and Missandei crouch under the shields.

GREY WORM: Missandei. I cannot leave my men behind. No one will touch you. I promise you. I love yo —

— SMASH! The explosion reverberated like a thousand shatters.
When Tyrion opened his eyes, his back was on the floor, a few feet away from where he was standing a second ago. He got up on his feet, his ears ringing with a thousand drums, and went to help Varys get back on his.
Hundreds of broken pieces of stone drinking the blood of dead Unsullied, giant flames had relocated from their corpses to the bottom of the entrance archway, making their way to the head of it.
Grey Worm was clearing out the smoke when he saw Missandei, covered in dust, lying next to the doorway.
He ran to her like his life depended on it, threw his helmet to the ground, got down on his knees, held her head with one hand and shook her with the other.

GREY WORM: MISSANDEI! MISSANDEI!

Tears are about to burst out of his eyes when Missandei coughed out black grit followed by particles of stone. She catches her breath. A fleeting moment of relief passes before he realizes how close she came to death.

GREY WORM: Sorry, sorry, sorry. Missandei! Please… Please. Forgive…

Missandei is unresponsive but breathing. He turns to his left to yell a command when he discovers his guards, laying on the pavement of black and red. He looks a little further and witnesses the battlefield. His brothers… falling one after the other.
He lifts himself up with Missandei in his arms. He shouts at the nearest Unsullied soldier in Valyrian. The soldier bows and executes his order before Grey Worm turns his disoriented gaze to Tyrion and Varys.

GREY WORM: I have ordered retreat. We go to tunnel!

Varys leading the way inside the pyramid, Tyrion at his side; Greyworm, Missandei in his arms, following their trail.

Hundreds and hundreds of Meereenese men, women and children hurrying into the tunnel; the entrance being guarded by Varys' birds and now, Unsullied soldiers.
An old man trips in the distance. What seems to be his daughter, picks him back to his feet, refusing to miss the pace.
Shouts of panic and pain vibrates through the hall as Grey Worm speaks to one of his soldiers before entering the tunnel himself. Varys hurries to help his fellow men, waving them inside the tunnel, protecting the children that may have been separated from their families.

VARYS: Get in my Lord, I'll be right behind you.

TYRION: I'm afraid you're gonna have to do the honors.

VARYS: This is no time for formalities.

TYRION: I have to save them Varys. Make sure everyone gets to safety.

VARYS: Tyrion, we'll have to seal the tunnel shut when —

TYRION: — Whatever happens, do NOT wait for me.

Varys understood but still, he was fearing for his friend and before he had time to respond, Tyrion was already a miniature of his self running out of the Pyramid.

Tyrion is running through the smoke; he can barely see the shadow of fire crashing on buildings and houses conjuring memories of the great fireworks at Summerhall.
He steps on dead unsullied, dead second sons, dead slavers, dead harpies. He keeps away from the main roads and shortcuts his way through the narrow alleys; screams of agony harrowing through the dusty air.

Before Tyrion reaches the catacombs, he gets spotted from afar by a Son of the Harpy that seems to have recognized him. The dwarf does not linger to find out, he pushes the stoned wheel blocking the entrance with all his strength until he can fit through the crack.

Once inside, he thought he would find the two reptiles panicking in the lightless cave. "It's okay, I'm here, no need to be afraid." he would just have to push out the wheel and they would fly out to freedom. But Rhaegal and Viserion did not wait for Tyrion's rescue; they were blasting fire in direction of the block of stones at the far end of the room, melting the cement in between them. They had been at it for hours. White rays of sunlight shun through the dark room illuminating the rustic bronze and shiny gold of their scales. The opening in the wall they created was size-able. Large enough to fit one dragon at a time.
Rhaegal was the first to fly away from the only home they had known for months. Tyrion turned to look at the crack and counted at least ten harpies and ten slavers, spears and daggers in hand, advancing his way.
As his whole body trembled, he turned back around to witness Viserion, still stationed in the same spot. "What is he waiting for? He isn't larger than his brother. The hole is big enough."
Tyrion could hear the footsteps of the enemy getting closer. Viserion turned his head to the right and gave Tyrion a glance

"This is madness." After a moment of hesitation, Tyrion dashes down the steps of the catacombs, making sure not to slip. He lands on the ground and runs towards the dragon. He could hear the stoned wheel creaking behind him, welcoming sunlight, enlightening the path in front of him but when he glanced to his right, a lance had pierced the ground. He looked back and another lance was coming straight for him, he dodged it and started to zigzag left and right while still advancing forward.
The dragon screeched. "I'm running as fast as I can" Tyrion wanted to yell out.
A lance came flying, a couple of inches higher than him and landed straight in front of him.
Tyrion didn't look back but he could hear the harpies trailing him. Tyrion was so close to the dragon.
SCREECH! This time, it was a cry of pain. The wing of the dragon swung in the air as Tyrion realized Viserion had been speared in the tail. The dragon gesticulated in the space of the room, and then, his senses came back to him. He gazed down at his assailants as he inhaled, opened his chest and made himself taller than the room itself.
The slavers and the harpies looked up in fear as smoke was fuming out of his nostrils. Some of the men ran back from whence they came, but most of the harpies drew their lances back aiming at the reptile's chest and before anyone had time to blink… Tyrion could feel the heat melting the fabric off his clothes.
When the dragon was done, all flesh had turned to ash, even some of the weakest pillars had been carbonized.
Still, slavers and harpies were waiting outside to strike again. When the path was clear, they bursted into the catacombs with more weapons and more men.
Viserion gave his tail to them and faced the stoned entrance he and his brother had ignited. He lowered his wing, the tip of it reaching Tyrion's feet.

"This is madness!" but there was no time to think. Tyrion jumped unto the giant wing and hiked his way up. He was a child again, climbing the cliffs of Casterly Rock, one rock at a time… just like he was climbing the dragon, one scale at a time…
Tyrion was on Viserion's back before he knew it, he grabbed on one spike the size of his two hands. He held unto it and glued himself to the beast like a barnacle on a sea turtle's shell. He swallowed his fear, closed his eyes as tightly as one can and felt the flying reptile traveling into the sunlight.
He could feel the wings flapping up and down and the cold breeze floating through his hair. Tyrion's eyes were still shut with fright and his only thought at that moment was the lance that grazed the top of his head; If he had been the size of a normal man, he wouldn't be flying a dragon…

Tyrion opened his eyes and he was swimming in the clouds. Viserion seemed to have taken his size into consideration. He was flying relatively low and didn't move too much as to not have him fall.
When he looked down, he realized they were outside the city, he saw the Unsullied along with Varys, Grey Worm, Missandei and the other Meereenese running on a dirt road, escaping the clutch of the Slavers and the Harpies catching up to them. The Unsullied put themselves in formation, protecting the retreat, when they discovered Rhaegal dropping down from the sky, landing in front of the row of Unsullied. The majestic beast took a deep breath and everyone of their enemy was engulfed in a fire that added itself to the innumerable flames decorating the city of Meereen.

The survivors were on their way to the East, to Bayasabhad, to their queen. He could see Varys looking up. Was he waving at him? Nonetheless, he felt Varys' pride. Rhaegal was protecting the rear; Viserion, hovering just above him.
Tyrion was the height of Harrenhal and when he looked down at the men, they were the size of ants. Was he dreaming? He was flying. He was alive. And for the first time in a long time, an honest smile had eradicated his constant frown.