Chapter 5:


"There has to be a different way."

Daenerys was pacing back and forth. The grey stone walls were married to the unmaintained tapestry. The amber brightness came from the only lit torch in the corner of the room. On the side, next to the large wooden door, a long table chipped at its corners and feet, which made it wobbly. Three chairs were stored under, their back post, damaged to its core; only the seat, apron, and legs survived.

Lady Zenad was sitting on one of them and although she couldn't see, she could hear the footsteps and it made her lightheaded.

ZENAD: You will not find better answers by stomping quicker.

Dany stops to look at her.

ZENAD: Or louder.

DANY: I will not have you murdered.

ZENAD: You are saving us.

DANY: There has to be another way. A better way.

ZENAD: The Joghosi are not known for their skills in negotiation or their talents in diplomacy. You did more than any would. Thanks to you, the gods will not hear our pain when we join them.

DANY: I could speak to the Jhet again—

ZENAD (correcting her): —Jhat.

DANY: Yes, the one with the scar, and this time, warn him I will not go with them unless all of you—

ZENAD: —A war chief only answers to war. If you do not do as they say, they will torture us and take you anyway. You are to wed their chief of chiefs because you have respect of the moon. When the moon gives them sign, they answer the sign but they will die a thousand deaths before they lose their pride to a woman's will. You've given us a clean end. It is more than we could hope.

Dany noticed the same defeated look on Zenad the night before. When she was translating for Dany in the center of the torture chamber, her monotonous tone suggested defeat. The Joghosi are fearsome, to be sure. Nonetheless, in large numbers. The scarred Jhat, most of all. But Zenad did not look intimidated. She looked lost, desperately searching for answers to questions freshly blossomed. Moddabha had just left her, yet she truly believed her daughter to be in a better place. Perhaps she wanted to join her and why wouldn't she? What future was there to fight for? And for whom?

Seated on the chair tonight, her tone was the same, her stature too. Zenad did not look the leader of her tribe, just old age waiting to waste away.

DANY: What do you think actually happened?

Dany was pondering as she was looking up, out from a small squared crack in the wall.

The sky dusked, and before the sun had set, the moon was up, bright and full. Why did it leave and come back? All she knew is what they all saw.

ZENAD: The gods always listen to prayers; only sometimes do they decide to answer.

DANY: But I didn't pray.

ZENAD: I did.

Dany turned to Zenad for but a moment to find the blind lady staring down at the tapestry, motionless. Dany wondered if anything she said could balance Zenad's state of mind. She looked back up at the white orb.

DANY: No. I've seen this before. In Pentos, once. My brother was attempting to gather support in Myr. I was a girl of ten and saw the moon disappear in the sky in front of my eyes.

Dany's fixed focus on the bright globe made her see double. There were two moons as far as she could see; one for each eye. And when her eyes were satisfied, and her focus rested, the two white circles blended back into one.

DANY: I was afraid, and Magister Illyrio brought me comfort. He told me that when the moon is round and full, at times, if she stays too long in the open sky, she'd catch a cold, so the sun invites her in his shadow to give her the warmth she needs.

Dany looks back at Zenad before eyeing the empty chair in front of her. She walks across the room and takes a seat.

DANY: That did the trick when I was 10.

ZENAD: I, too, have seen it before. I believe it was always meant the moon was sick of being worshiped by human beasts, so once in a while she covered herself from evil eyes.

DANY: In Qarth, tales state that once was a second moon in the sky, it was scaled by the sun and cracked like an egg, and a million dragons poured forth… One gave us our children, the other saved me from an endless torture. If the tales tell true, my family owes quite a lot to these shiny orbs. Perhaps if my father had prayed to the moon, his kingdom would still remain.

ZENAD: Whatever may be, you're alive because of it. The gods have blessed you another chance.

DANY: Another chance to be sold like a slave.

Dany gets up from her chair; her eyes, still on Zenad.

DANY: Why am I summoned tonight?

ZENAD: It is custom for the Jhat and his Joghosi to look upon their lands' future bride before the Jhattar sets eyes on her. With only the moon and the fire-lit torches as witnesses.

DANY: To look upon the spoil they have acquired for their despot?

ZENAD: Die with us then, if they will let you. They'll probably torture you first. And longer than us, I'd imagine.

DANY: And at some point, it ends. I'm not afraid.

ZENAD: No one is afraid when they've gone.

Dany slaps the wooden table. A slight tremble is felt.

DANY: Let me try and save us all.

ZENAD: Look at me. What do you see?

Dany pauses to look at her.

ZENAD: A woman, grey in all things but heart and soul. I have lost my daughter. I have lost my home. I have lost my life's work. In this life at least, there is nothing more for me. I do not regret for it to end this way. I have done my duty and now it is time to join the gods, with the rest of my family.

DANY: You could rebuild. I could help you. You want Bayasabhad to belong to them?

ZENAD: Even if you managed to negotiate mercy, do you think the savages would let us rebuild? We would be their slaves. We, daughters of the Great Fathers, slaves to the nomads of the Joghos Nai.

Zenad was sickened at the thought. She ceased to look at the floor and lifted her head until her blind eyes found Dany's.

ZENAD: We are not a prideful people.

Zenad paused for a moment.

ZENAD: But we would endure an endless torture before we let that happen.

DANY: Lady Zenad, with all due respect, I am to be their slave.

ZENAD: You are to be their queen!

Dany straightened herself. "I am already Queen. Queen of the seven— Queen of Meer—"

ZENAD: Seduce their chief of chiefs. Rule over them. Over time, you may change some of their ways. Make them see what they've never seen. Press advantage of the chance you were given and let myself and my people leave this world with the bit of dignity that remains.

"There's got to be a better way." Two hard knocks came from the wooden door. A signal their time together was over. Zenad gently pushed herself on the table while Dany quickly rose up to aid her. She grabbed her by the armpit and lifted her up.

ZENAD: It is not over for Daenerys Targaryen. When it is your time, you'll know. I know now it is mine and it is with a smile that I have known you at the end of it.

Zenad mustered a slight smile as she bowed faintly. The wooden door opened and slammed on the stone. Behind it, a tall, giant of a man. The same who grabbed Daenerys by the arm and lead her into the torture chamber the night before. Although, it was hard to look upon his face as the amber sunlight setting behind him made him look a shadow of his self.

Zenad was leaving the hut slow but determined.

DANY: Will I see you tonight?

ZENAD: Did you master the tongue of the Joghosi in the night?

Daenerys smiled as Zenad left with the sunlight and the strong Joghosi closed the large wooden door, leaving her with the only light coming from the cracked square in the wall. The room was cold again. The last rays of sunlight were melting over the horizon and soon, she'd be in the dark again, alone with her thoughts.

"I am to be their queen, yet I stand their captive in a cell… This one had a bed, at least. Or something of the sort." Dany started to pace again from one corner to the next.

"I do not know their tongue, nor do I wish to learn it. No. There has got to be a better way. There is always a better way."

Dany stopped in front of the squared hole in the wall and looked at the moon again. If she looked close enough, she could maybe see Drogon? No, It was just an ordinary black bird, like the hundreds that flew by since the morning.

She looked away from the window and walked towards the bed; a broken wooden frame, one of the feet damaged from the bottom. Hay and straw substituting a mattress, with a rusty cushion and a thin blanket made of cotton placed on top of it.

She sat on it and lost her balance for it. She put her hand on the hay to straighten herself up. She wanted to cry, loudly. But there was no way she would let them hear. Dany found solace in memories instead; they, for better or worse, had always brought her comfort.

Since Daenerys could remember, she'd always been a joyous child, innocent of the way the world worked, perhaps naive to a point, with plenty of ambition. Dany wanted to go back to that place and remember what it was like to be happy, to remember when everything was all right with the world.

It seemed like a lifetime ago, but she had only been gone from Meereen a week. She closed her eyes to fly back to the last happy memory and followed the road, already paved towards her destiny.

"When I was in Meereen last. That was when I was truly happy, that's when everything was all—"

The last time she was in Meereen, she was surrounded by masked terrorists shortly after witnessing men butcher each other for sport and her oldest child, suffering the consequences.

"Before that then, right before that. When I brought Tyrion into my service and we exchanged stories of family, planning the future of my kingdom—"

That very day, she exiled her most trusted advisor for the second time, without whose presence thereafter, she would have been killed in the Great Pit of Daznak.

"Before then. When I was ruling from the Great Pyramid and aiding the former slaves—"

And decapitated a former slave named Mossador, in front of his folk and foe, for the crime of executing a Son of the Harpy responsible for the murder of Unsullied.

Or was it before that, when Drogon burned an innocent child and two innocent dragons were chained because of it?

"Before Meereen! Before I conquered the city, I was happy. The people called me Mhysa. I broke the chains of thousands, burned the slavers, amassed the greatest army this side of the world had seen since the Dragonlords ruled the skies. My purpose was clear!"

Yes, a nice chapter for the history books. Yet, somehow, something was missing… The smell of fresh armies and victory did not quite smell like home. Where was home? Was it in Braavos, in the house with the red door and the lemon tree, where her first memory had germinated? Or was it in Dragonstone where she was storm-born. Or better yet, in the country of her father and forefathers where she never set a foot?

"Was I happy in Qarth then? In the first days, at least, during the walks in the Garden of Bones…"

Or the House of the Undying? No, she was taken a fool from the start.

"When I was in the arms of my sun-and-stars?"

Perhaps, for a fleeting moment that is. Before he left her to starve in the desert. Or was it when he crowned her brother, or raped her maidenhood on the night they were wed.

Or before that, when she was a slave in the clutch of her brother's claim?

It had never been all right… and why would it be? The just world wasn't made of hope or cruelty, it was made of both. There was no use to dwell in the past to find comfort, as there had been better and graver moments than the one she's living now.

A different path was something to look forward to… Yet a larger question had always found a way to trouble her mind and here, alone with her thoughts, was as good a time as any to ask again.

"Would I have all that I have, had I never risen from the flame, and hatched the three eggs everyone thought rotten and forgotten? Would anyone even care to know my name? And if the answer is no, do I truly deserve any of it?"

And then she remembered what Zenad told her the night before: "We don't deserve, we grab what we can, whenever it lays a hand."

"I am the unburnt, the breaker of chains and the mother of dragons. I do not know the reason why but it is what I am. But before any of that, I am Daenerys Targaryen."

And the true power of Daenerys Targaryen didn't lie with birthrights or dragons…but with the unique ability to cement the stones on the unfinished path leading her to the unknown.

Daenerys bursted with confidence when she leapt from the bed at the exact same time the wooden door opened and slammed the stoned wall. And there, she was reminded back to reality.

Dany could see her escort more clearly as she walked out of the hut, and onto the paved ground. The moonlight gently touched one side of his face, leaving the rest of it to darkness.

As they were walking, she looked up high for her eyes to reach the top of him. That one was taller than the rest of them, at least two feet her size in long and in large. He had a simple face with a crooked nose.

He didn't speak much since they left the hut, a grunt here and there. Perhaps because she wouldn't understand a word. Nonetheless, he didn't strike her as the talking type. He was strong; stronger probably than the rest of them.

Yet his gaze was gentle, like a giant, uncertain of the world he was brought in. Dany smiled at him, and when he looked down at her, he stared into her smile for a moment, as if it was the first time he's seen lips move this way. He then pushed out a slight grunt before looking back in front of him.

Their pace was slow as the pebbled way was rough beneath their feet. When Dany looked around, she noticed a similar facade to the one in Bayasabhad, only the city itself was smaller, it was more of a village town than a city.

The huts were broken in and the stone walls bordering the town had holes and dents big enough for battering rams to station through.

She reflected that it would take an enormous amount of dragon fire to melt stone like that, if it was even possible at Drogon's age. The damage on that stone could only have been the work of Yi-Tish powder.

The giant Joghosi made another grunt and Dany peered at what he was grunting at.

A temple, not too far from them, rather taller than the other huts around, only for the fact that this one hadn't been destroyed. Large stone pillars encircling the platform, keeping the wooden pointy open roof afloat. In between the pillars, sturdy branches and twigs, thousands of them, intertwined between each other, forming its walls.

In the center, a door made of roughened, used wood. Hinges made of rusty metal.

As they got closer, she sensed the heat; she could see the yellow warmth attempting to escape the room.

When she looked to her left, she saw a band of Joghosi lining up outside of the temple, bending both of their knees, in silence. More followed. Until hundreds and hundreds of them were bending their knees, facing the temple but really, facing the moon above and behind it.

In the back of the crowd, she saw the Warrior Maids of Bayasabhad, aligned, chained from neck to ankle, overlooking the spectacle.

She heard three knocks and Dany turned to see the gentle giant bang on the wooden door. When it opened, she saw the flames, making the Joghosi opening the door, hard to see.

The tall escort stood to the side, and tried to straighten himself as much as he could, but the small bump on his back refrained him from doing so.

The Joghosi who opened the door was smaller in Dany's eyes. Smaller than an average Dothraki at least, although, he still had to crouch his head to fit through the door. His outfit was the same as his brothers, an orange cloth tunic with bright red on the borders of each sleeve.

The shorter Joghosi lead her in as she looked up at her giant escort once more before leaving him, and gave him a smile. This time, he responded with a smile of his own; shy and slight, like a new born who had just learned a new trick.

The wooden door shuts behind Dany who has entered the temple, she walks until she stands in the center, right under the moon, counting nine well lit braziers around her and twenty nomads of the Jogos Nhai in front of her, seated with their legs crossed on different leveled wooden benches. Of those twenty, ten warriors, all wearing orange; and ten moonsingers, the priests of the Jogos Nhai, all wearing white with shades of grey and light blue. The only hair that was visible on any of them was a skinny black strip coming out the middle of their pointy skull.

When she looked closely in the crowd, she could decipher some women as well, although they looked identical to the men; shaved entirely, including the eyebrows for most.

To the left, Zenad was on her feet, no shackles on her ankles or wrists or neck. Behind her, three Warrior Maids, shackled from head to toe. Dany wondered why Zenad was given this luxury. Maybe they acknowledged her old age and realized fairly quickly she would be of no physical threat. The same couldn't be said about the rest of the Maids; all young and vengeful.

Zenad gave Dany a slight nod which she acknowledged but didn't retort.

Right in front of Dany, on the only high chair in the temple, sat the Jhat. His height was just as tall as his brothers but his stare was fiercer than any man's she had encountered. The scar on his left cheek was deep and long, like a crevasse dented from his white eyebrow dripping down the bottom of his mismatched chin.

When he spoke, the melody of his tongue did not match his look, but married well with the crepitation of the braziers. Besides, the room was silent and only the warm wind tickled their thin single braid of hair.

When he was done, Zenad translated.

ZENAD: The Jhat bids you welcome, queen. It is no wonder the moon has chosen you. It would have been a nature crime to sacrifice such beauty. The Jhattar will be most pleased with you, I can assure you.

DANY: Jhattar?

Zenad proceeded to explain, interrupting the translation.

ZENAD: The Jhat of Jhats, the chief of chiefs. The one you are to marry.

Dany looked at the scarred Jhat, slightly relieved she wasn't betrothed to him. Although she didn't know what that Jhat of Jhats would look like. Zenad carried with the translation.

ZENAD: The Jhattar always respect his lamb-wives but you, you have respect of the moon.

Zenad paused and the scarred Jhat spoke again. Then, Zenad translated.

ZENAD: No one breathing has ever had respect of his moon. He will love you and care for you and offer you all of that your heart desires.

"All of it?" Dany contemplated, ironically.

ZENAD: If it is in his power… We have never had a queen, priestess of the moon

The Jhat looked behind him at the Moon Priests, all nodding their oval heads, turning to each other, then turning to Daenerys. Some, with utmost admiration in their eyes.

The Jhat resumed his speech.

ZENAD: Our order from the Jhattar is to sacrifice every Lamb Lady to the moon. Every Lamb Lady must scream in order for the moon to hear. In honor of your beauty and your holy, we will respect your wishes, we will sacrifice them in silence.

As Zenad says the words, she slightly nods in the direction of Dany who barely acknowledges her.

ZENAD: Once their souls are with our moon, you will be given a Zorse and you will ride with us until day breaks.

Dany is focused on the Jhat and without breaking eye contact,

DANY: Tell them to look at the moon.

Zenad frowns curiously.

DANY: Tell them it is full again… And every full moon demands a miracle.

ZENAD: Little La— Lady Dany—

DANY: Tell them.

Zenad proceeds to translate in Joghosi. Their eyes open wide with intrigue and wonder with every word she speaks.

DANY: Tell them that whatever happens tonight, if the moon is truly theirs, it will protect them.

Zenad transitions from the Joghosi to the Common Tongue abruptly.

ZENAD: Lady Dany, please, we are grateful of your intentions. Do not sacrifice this agree—

Dany switches focus on Zenad, with serious eyes.

DANY: Leave us.

Zenad pauses, confused.

DANY: A miracle of this stature cannot come into full effect with the presence of a lesser race.

Zenad is at a loss for words and before she has time to retort.

DANY: Translate.

The blind lady does as she's told. The scarred Jhat hides his smile as he looks at Dany and nods.

DANY: No one enters or exits during the prayer. Translate.

Zenad translates.

DANY: And you won't forget to tell the same to the giant one out there. No matter what, no one comes in.

Zenad looks in the direction of Dany one last time before the same Joghosi who opened the door, snaps his fingers, signaling the Warrior Maids to follow him.

One after the other, they cross over the room as the Jhat is not letting Dany out of his sight. Dany looks straight into his eyes as well; serious eyes, smiling lips.

Dany can hear the wooden door shut behind them as the joghosi escorting them, walks back to his seat.

The warm wind, the soft breathing, the crackling of the flames, intertwined with the silence as Dany stares, smiling at everyone of them, sitting on their benches and the high chair.

When a few of the moon priests whispered to each other, Dany turned, looked up at the moon and the whispers ceased.

Her eyes are wide opened as she sings a prayer in her native valyrian. A tongue almost as melodic as the Joghosi.

DANY: Nyke don't pāsagon pāsan isse ao. gaomagon daor gūrogon ziry personally, nyke don't pāsagon pāsan isse anyone iā mirros, besides nykēla.

tonight, nyke epagon ao naejot prove nyke naive se pirta. Jaelan ao naejot urnēptre nyke bona ñuha ābrar doesn't sytilībagon naejot nyke. bona issa isse fact guided ondoso iā jēdar driven force. aōha force kostilus. mazverdagon nyke qringaomagon isse skoros iksan nūmāzma naejot gaomagon tonight se ondoso doing sīr, mazilībagon nyke va se path emā va moriot jeldan nyke naejot gūrogon.

The prayer ended and she turned to them immediately. Some eye bulbs filled with more apprehension than wonder; the scarred Jhat, with a little more fret than others in his. But some of the Moon Priests had watery eyes.

She walks closer and closer to them until she is stopped by one of the braziers. She was a few inches taller than the brazier itself, if not for the flames that added to her a couple of inches.

She closes her eyes as she lifts her arms to the side, almost like she was summoning the spirits of the dead. When her arms reach the level of her head, she slowly brings them closer and closer to the flame. As her eyes are shut, her lips are not; she's whispering the same prayer. Her eyes tightens as her hands touch the fire.

The Joghosi, one by one, push themselves back on their benches. If their legs were crossed, they are now straight, their feet touching the ground.

Even the Jhat is aghast, yet impressed. He frowns as he arches his head back but his sight does not leave her.

Daenerys' hands have disappeared in the flames. Only her blonde head can be seen through the fire. The Jhat notices her hands not burning, her mouth not screaming, he stands in a sudden jump, making the high wooden chair fall on the bench behind him. Some of the Warrior Joghosi stand in terror but most of the Moon Priests are captivated by the miracle. Most of them, exclaiming aloud. Some of them, whispering, afraid to be heard, and the rest of them, in complete silence, respecting the miracle.

Daenerys grabs the charred rounded metal with both her hands, her grip is so tight you would think she'd break it. She whispers the prayer faster and faster. The Jhat puts a few steps towards her before coming to a halt, a feet away from the brazier.

The whispered prayer comes to its end. Daenerys Targaryen opens her eyes. Her hands, practically bleeding. She looks straight into the Jhat's fierce eyes, he does the same, and with all of her strength, she pushes the brazier in front of her.

The high flames landed on his legs before the metal had time to touch the ground.

The temple ignited quicker than Dany had expected. As soon as one flame kissed the ground, it spread like wildfire. In under five seconds, it reached the top wooden arch.

The Jhat rapidly skips numerous steps, shakes his legs attempting to extinguish the flames. When he looks back up, rage emulating from his eyes. Daenerys arrives at the brazier a couple of feet away. He yells out a cry as some of the unscathed Joghosi dodge the flames to reach their future queen when Daenerys brings the second brazier to their feet, igniting a whole new part of the temple, blocking the way of the Joghosi Warriors coming from the other side.

Given that the Warriors see no path to reach her, they retrace their steps and start running the semi circle.

Daenerys runs towards a third brazier, situated right in front of the wooden door. In the rush of her steps, she puts all of her weight on the charred iron body; it is lifted from the ground and the tip of the flame lands head first on the sill of the wooden door.

Seven warriors are stopped in their tracks. Three of them decide to run through the fire and open the door anyway, yelling, leaving the temple, running as fast as the flames consuming them.

The other four retrace their steps as they try to find another way out.

The Jhat is the first to succumb while the Warriors are hitting their own bodies everywhere they see a flame ignite.

Half of the Moon Priests are praying, sitting legs still crossed on the bench, their eyes, piercing the moon. The other five were doing the same but quickly followed their dead Jhat.

The three last braziers fell and the temple entirely was covered until the moon was swallowed by the flames. The wall of twigs and branches was the first to fall, which made the wooden open roof collapse on itself. Daenerys was standing in the center, avoiding the debris, listening to the coughs, the gasps for air, the cries of agony without seeing a single face.

The night was still alive when the full moon reappeared. Debris of wood and twigs and dust piled on where the temple once stood. The smoke was tall and black, and for a moment that was all Dany could see. She walked on the broken wood, bare feet, bare from head to toe. She appeared out of the smoke, her body, black with soot.

The fire was still burning on some corners, enough for the Warrior Maids of Bayasabhad and the Nomads of the Joghos Nai to witness what was in front of them.

There was silence at first, awestricken silence. Everyone had stood and backed away while the temple was burning, but now, they came closer to see if any of their leaders had survived.

Dany recognized the three Joghosi that got out. Their blackened body laying on the paved ground, a few feet away from one another.

She counted twice as many Joghosi bending their knees before she entered the temple. Most of them probably zorsed out as soon as they realized their Jhat was not coming out alive. At least half stayed where they sat. Out of loyalty? Curiosity? Fear? Only they knew. And the Warrior Maids behind them, stood where they stood. Chained as they were.

As the Joghosi gazed upon a naked Daenerys Targaryen, they proceeded to howl in their native tongue. Howl amongst each other, howl directly at her. The howling wasn't aggressive though; it was just as the rest of their words, but she didn't know what they meant. Then, the howling ceased. They looked down at the ground and bent towards it with both of their knees.

The Warrior Maids behind them did the same. And on the front left, stood Zenad, companied by her three Warrior Maids. The three got on their knees quickly while the blind Lady took a moment to smile, before she too, used the shoulders of the two maids next to her, to get herself down on her fragile knees.

Right behind them, the gentle giant was frozen where he stood. Dany looked straight into his eyes and he did the same.

He pushed out a soft grunt followed by a shy smile. Dany gave him the smile back.

DANY: Lady Zenad. Please stand.

The two Warrior Maids next to Zenad, grabbing her forearms, helped her get back on her feet.

DANY: Please tell the surviving Nomads of the Joghos Nai to let their Jhattar know that he must count himself amongst the most fortunate. I was to be his wife and if he had been here this night, he would've shared the fate of his Jhat, his leading Warriors and his Moon Priests…

The moon decided to spare him tonight, but her mood changes every night.

In a proud tone Dany almost didn't recognize, Zenad translated. The Joghosi were switching their looks from Zenad to Dany to Zenad.

DANY: None of you may have planned for this but today, unless you wish otherwise, you are free. Free to build your own paths. Stay together, start anew on your own, whichever you choose, the choice is yours…

Your freedom is yours, yes, as long as a small price is payed: There is to be no more wars between the Nomads of the Joghos Nai and the Warrior Maids of Bayasabhad.

If there is so much as a scuffle between the two tribes, the moon will quickly send me back here and this time, death will spare none. Am I making myself clear?

Zenad translated as Dany could see that the words "no more wars" was hard to let out. The Joghosi all nodded, up and down, up and down, so fast it seemed their necks might break.

DANY: Release the prisoners and be on your way.

Zenad translated one last time before the Joghosi in the back unchained the Warrior Maids.

Some of them got on their zorses and rode out in packs of ten and twenty. Some left by foot, into the woodlands. But none stayed idle for long, except for the gentle giant, who still stood where he froze. Dany didn't move either. She looked upon the Joghosi as they left, and upon Zenad and the Warrior Maids as they hugged, and helped each other out of their chains.

Dany then turned to the giant Joghosi with endearing eyes, she nodded, letting him know it was okay for him to go.

The Joghosi looked her up and down, down and up, then he looked into her eyes and smiled. A whole smile this time.

He then pushed out a grunt, loud and satisfied, possibly for the first time in his life. He turned around, and ran towards the forest, like a child being chased by a sibling.

Dany did not look away until the giant became smaller and smaller and disappeared into the woods.

By then, Zenad and the rest of her Maids had assembled in front of her; at least a hundred of them.

One Maid came out of the hut Dany had been staying the night. She was running in her direction, with something in her hands she couldn't quite construe. When she got closer, she saw the rug in her hands, the one she scarcely touched, positioned above her bed.

The maid was out of breath when she arrived a couple of inches from Dany, she unfolded the opaque rug, with her two hands on each side.

Dany smiled, reached out her hand to grab the rug and proceeded to enrobe herself until she was covered in it.

She thanked her. The Maid slightly bowed before regaining her position with the rest of her sisters.

They all stood there, the Maids in the front, and the Men, covered in white, in the back. Every single one, a couple of inches from each other, in wall formation. Zenad had taken two steps forward and as they wanted to bow again—


The Maids stopped in their track and stood back up.

ZENAD: You are our—

DANY: I am not.

The last of the flames were dying behind Dany.

DANY: I am not your ruler. I am not your queen. You owe me nothing.

Dany tried to look at everyone of them, each fiercer than the next.

DANY: Lady Zenad, your daughter most likely met the gods by now. One day, you may rejoice with them. But this night and every night henceforth, your life is in front of you. I only ask that you return to Bayasabhad and rebuild. For you, for your people and their children after them. They're gonna need you, more than you know.

Zenad's eyes were moved as she could feel the hundred stare. She managed to emit a smile as she nodded in agreement with Daenerys.

ZENAD: Will you be coming back with us?

DANY: My place is in Meereen. I have to confront whatever remains.

"And my dragons will find me…" she hoped as Zenad stared with proud eyes.

ZENAD: The fastest way is by ship. The closest port is on the Yi-Tish border in Asabhad, it is a seven moon ride. I will send a falcon informing the Emperor of our arrival. I and the Warrior Maids will shield you on the way.

Yi-Ti? The powder? Bayasabhad could wait, it was certain that Zenad wanted to unravel the paradox: The powder more protected than gold ending up in the hands of the Nomadic Joghosi.

After all, the Warrior Maids and the Yi-Tish had been allies since the Betrayal of the Three Cities; and the Joghosi, their common sworn enemies ever since. It only made sense that the Lady Zenad wanted to make sure that betrayal hadn't banged out her door.

The sun was just rising when Daenerys walked out of her hut in Bayasabhad.

She was wearing the clothes she came in with, with Warrior Maid armor custom built for her. The damage on the gates and walls was significant and some of the Maids and Men were already starting to rebuild, one stone at a time.

When Dany arrived outside the city, she saw an escort of fifty. Mules and horses, food and water in ceramic pitches, being attached on their saddles.

Lady Zenad was at the front, with at least fifteen of the Maids, speaking quietly to each of them.

When Dany approached them, the speaking ceased mid sentence, almost like they didn't want her to hear what they were talking about, even though she wouldn't understand anyways.

Dany was proud to wear the leather embroiled straps on top of the silk gown which had been cleaned and knitted where it had been scratched, yet she was confused by the assembled group that had been formed around Zenad.

ZENAD: The Warrior Maids and I came to a common understanding. If you will not rule over us, we demand that you accept a gift from us.

Dany was looking at Zenad's hands, covered with a drape of sort, which only made her wonder what was beneath it.

DANY: A gift?

Two of the Warrior Maids unfolded the drape from Zenad's hands to reveal…a sword hilt. A black blade-less hilt. A rusty one at that. It looked a thousand years old looking at it from where she stood. And it had dark shards on the top of it which made it look like a blade was once forged unto it.

Dany was perplexed.

DANY: It is…beautiful Lady Zenad, but, I'm afraid sword fighting was never my strength. If it is an ancestral blade of yours, it will have no use in my hands. If it has some special meaning, I wouldn't want—

ZENAD: —Ancestral blade, yes. But not just any.

Dany is listening.

ZENAD: Our ancestors called it "Ashamayek", in your tongue, Light Seeker, I believe.

Zenad passes the hilt to Dany.

ZENAD: When the white star shines and the darkness gathers, Hyrkoon the hero shall be born again amidst smoke and salt.

DANY: Hyrkoon?

ZENAD: Our father to us all. It is said he molded the gods when he struck the darkness out of the earth.

DANY: What are you saying?

ZENAD: If I am not mistaken, it is the second time you are reborn in the flames. Once could be a miracle, not twice. Never twice.

Daenerys tightens her grip on the hilt, trying to feel the weight of the importance it once held, but all she felt was a piece of metal, freshly cleaned, slightly covered with scratched and fissured shagreen.

Dany had plenty of questions but she realized if she asked them all, they would lose another day of riding and the way to Yi-Ti promised long and strenuous.

DANY: This sword belongs to your people. It has value to you, I wouldn't know—

ZENAD: It belongs to you now. We still breathe because of you.

Dany looked at all of them looking at her, with admiration in their eyes. The same admiration she saw in the freed slaves of Yunkai who called her "Mhysa".

DANY: I thank you all. I promise to take great care of it.

The smiles on their faces were worth the burden of carrying a broken hilt she wouldn't know where to put.

Around fifty Warrior Maids and their horses were well on their way as the sun had risen. They had left the rest in Bayasabhad to start rebuilding.

They galloped for a while before resting, letting the horses regain their strength, then they cantered, and then walked as the sun was coming down.

Daenerys was on her horse, Zenad was on hers, side by side.

In front of them, to the side of them, to the back of them, armed Warrior Maids protecting them.

When Dany looked forward, she saw the never ending gravel road. In her right hand, she tightened her grip on the hilt of Hyrkoon. For some odd reason, she felt protected and strong and brave, like the warriors around her. Like the battled heroes her brother had taught her. Like Aegon the Dragon's sister-wife, Visenya Targaryen wielding her valyrian steel Dark Sister. Her grip was tightening even more as she realized she was cementing the stones on her own newfound path.

Then, a darkened thought came back to her as the night came down. She turned to Zenad.

DANY: You said Hyrkoon the hero struck the darkness out of the earth with this sword. What exact darkness were you speaking of?

Zenad turned to Dany. She could feel the fear in her blind eyes.

ZENAD: Demons made of ice.