Disclaimer: I do NOT own Game of Thrones or its contents. All characters and notions of story belong the George Martin. This is an alternate storytelling and is not meant to infringe on copyright.
Chapter 23: Token to the Horde
"Please your Grace, this was done only as a service to you." The fat man tried convince Aegon as he watched the Targaryen Dragonlord pace briskly back and forth. Sitting on the bannister of the balcony, just outside the grand suite loaned to Aegon and his company within the manse, were the three dragons. They quietly hissed and chirped as they watched their Father.
The first was Balerion, named for the Black Dread since the dragonling had scales as dark and polished as onyx with gold and red flecks around his eyes and along his back to the tip of his tail. The second, named Rhaegal for the Bard King, was a dirty-white color with specks of sky blue doting around his face and feet, his belly was a truer white that contrasted to the rest of his body. And the last was Viserion, for his fickle nature that so resembled the dead Viserys and to remember that although Viserys meant to do harm, he was a Targaryen. His named-dragon was scarlet all over, dark on his lower areas and lighter as it went up until the head which was a swirl of orange and rose.
"A service? I do not appreciate the ladies of my family being sold off like whores. They are royal princesses!" He hissed back at the man. "I would expect better of a Magister of Pentos."
"A thousand pardons your Grace!" Illyrio tried to be as sincere as he could be, but he was becoming frustrated with the runaway king. "I thought it would be best to secure your release. The opportunity seemed perfect, I so swear it..."
"So because a Dothraki horde stabled itself at the edge of the city, you thought it would be best to hand over my sister and my aunt to them in exchange for their sacking of Tyrosh instead of Pentos?" Aegon shouted and Illyrio bowed his head.
"Only to free you. Ser Oberyn and Ser Barristan told me how you were thrown overboard, and when news came that you were in Tyrosh... We did not know that you were not being held as a royal hostage. I would have purchased your freedom had I known it be so simple!"
"And miss the chance to make a profit with the Dothraki? I doubt it." Aegon spat and the magister backed away, knowing the stories of the king's temper. And his fire magic.
"Please see this as your own chance to profit, my king... The Dothraki will give you an army, and you could return to Westeros with more strength than you could ask for to crush your enemies."
"I have strength!" Aegon shouted, louder this time causing his voice to echo as his children chippered. "I have dragons you fool!"
"They are still young, my king." Illyrio reminded him which won him a deathly glare from the king.
"Speak to me like that again magister, I dare you..." Aegon hissed.
"Forgive me if I gave offense your Grace... kings are not like lesser men, you see the big picture, I see the details. I merely-"
"And treat me like a fool and I will gut you like a beastbefore I feed you to my children while you still draw breath." The king snapped, Viserion roaring in a low squeaky-tone as it reacted to his Father's voice which made the other two join in with excitement. Balerion stood up on his feet and stumbled around, bumping into Viserion and laying down once more.
"Your... Well your Grace... please just consider the idea of having an army forty-thousand strong at your back. As well as your dragons." Illyrio smiled, Aegon scoffed, unable to be convinced. The king walked back and forth again, though not as anxiously as before.
"I can't believe they agreed to this."
"It was their idea. The princesses love you deeply, my king."
"I also cannot believe that Ser Barristan and Ser Jaime allowed this! Or my uncle! I would have the bastard's head were he not my mother's brother." Aegon hissed.
"It was not their decision to make. And Ser Oberyn put up quite the argument against the princesses, they are strong-minded women, especially your royal sister." Illyrio reminded him, receiving another glare. Ser Barristan had stuttered a lengthy apology whilst Oberyn Martell said the same as Illyrio, that the princesses had made a choice to save their brother. And Ser Jaime, he had been praying for all the days and nights Aegon had been absent. The king wished that Ser Jorah had stayed, his company had been well-enough considering the situation. Yet the Bear Knight insisted he had to return to his friends who were biding their time until they could fully back Aegon's reconquest. In the meantime, his survival was kept as best a secret as it could be. Though that would not last long with word of the dragons spreading like wildfire in the wood.
"Is there no way to reverse this?"
"Well... Princess Daenerys was wed to Khal Drogo two days ago. The next wedding of Princess Rhaenys to Cohollo, the oldest of the khal's bloodriders will be likely on the morrow if not the day after. Dothraki go by the omens that they see in visions and the like."
"Bloodriders?" Aegon asked as he finally took a seat. The magister did not waste this chance to join him, gesturing for a servant to bring them wine.
"Yes. They serve the khal like brothers but only more loyally. They avenge him if he falls in battle and then follow him to the grave, to ride with him in their afterlife."
"A Kingsguard of sorts then."
"Oh no." Illyrio corrected. "A Kingsguard, as we know can betray. Generally bloodriders are true to their oaths and would forsake all other things before their khal."
"I would have to see that to believe it." Aegon said as he took the silver goblet from the tray as a servant presented it to him, sipping the wine slowly. "So then cancel the wedding. At least we can stop these savages from raping my sister."
"It's... not so simple, your Grace. Rhaenys gave herself to the Dothraki so they will give an army in return, they will not return what is given. If you wish to retrieve her, you must claim her."
"Claim her?" Aegon asked and the magister nodded. "So... kill the bloodrider?"
"I doubt Khal Drogo would allow that... but besting him in combat might have the same effect. Dothraki submit if they are beaten, they cut of their braids and present them to their victors. Well... if said-victors do not scalp them."
"And that's why the horselords have long braided hair then." Aegon sighed and rubbed his eyes. "I am not very skilled with a sword I'm afraid."
"Then... we will have to appeal to Drogo."
"The Dragon does not appeal to anyone." Aegon glanced at Illyrio. "When can I see him?"
The nine towered manse echoed with several sorts of music, heavy perfumes and Dothraki were scattered about on fine cushions, drinking wines and mare milk. Servants with bronze collars carried large platters of food to the warriors, young Pentoshi children danced and played instruments for the amusement of the horde elite. Khal Drogo sat with his new wife on great stone bench raised on a dias with his bloodriders just below. Rhaenys sat even lower with other women, Dothraki wives no doubt. The horselords were dressed in silks and linen instead of their usual leather and wool attires.
This was both a celebration of the khal's wedding still ongoing and for Cohollo's wedding to come on the morrow. Khal Drogo was watching two of his warriors wrestle, laughing all the meanwhile, occasionally looking down at Daenerys who smiled timidly back at him. He had never given her such glances before their wedding night, now Drogo seemed intent on Daenerys being content. At least bearably so.
Illyrio entered first and bowed in the direction of Drogo who did not see him or if he did, then ignored him, but when Aegon entered with his dragons riding on him, the music slowed down and stopped which caused everyone to notice now. Daenerys and Rhaenys both lighted up when they saw him, surprised and completely ecstatic though they remained silent for the moment.
"Khal Drogo!" Aegon shouted over the Dothraki, many of the warriors getting to their feet. Drogo watched him, unphased as Balerion and Rhaegal let out tiny roars.
"Khal Zhavorsa" Drogo chuckled as he rose up. He was clearly not frightened by the sight of the three creatures, though many warriors and servants whispered as they stared, some even dared to point. Of course the stories of Aegon had spread through the khalisar but to see the winged beasts even as small as they were, frightened even some of the hardened horselords.
"He calls you the Dragon King, your Grace." Illyrio whispered after one of his servants translated for him.
"You have my sister." Aegon said as he glanced to Rhaenys and then up to Daenerys. "Both of them."
"Both?" Illyrio asked quietly but Aegon dismissed his question. It would be easier to name both of them his sisters, to simplify it. It was not as if Drogo would know magister's servant translated as Drogo stepped down the dias, his bloodriders standing with him.
"Daeneryo anni esa." Drogo replied, grinning slightly.
"He claims that the Princess Daenerys is his, your Grace." Illyrio whispered.
"Aegon!" Daenerys said as she stood up and stepped down to take Drogo's arm reluctantly but it was not fear that was in her eyes, at least not for herself. "It's alright. It was... my choice to make. I'm glad you're alright."
"Dany. Rhae. You can't be serious." Aegon frowned.
"At least we'll have an army." Rhaenys smirked, but it didn't help with Aegon's worry. Drogo watched them speak before he glanced down at his bride, then to Aegon. He whispered some words to a Pentoshi servant.
"The khal says that you cannot have the bride. Omen speaks that she must have a husband." The servant girl said as she bowed her head to Aegon.
"I will be her husband." Aegon answered and the girl translated causing Drogo to give him a strange look before he spoke to the servant.
"The khal thinks that she is your sister and that you cannot marry her."
"I am of Old Valyria, it is common for us to wed our family." Aegon answered and the girl spoke to Drogo who laughed quite loud before he nodded, speaking to the girl again.
"The khal says you may have the unwed sister for yourself." The servant girl said as she bowed her head to Aegon. "If you can best the man to be her husband in a man's game, in combat."
"I accept." Aegon said without a thought, Rhaenys stood up.
"Aegon! Don't be an idiot!" She hissed at him. "We did this for your sake, don't throw your life away now!"
"I know what I'm doing Rhae." Aegon said as he glanced behind him to Ser Barristan and Ser Jaime. "Your arms, hold them out."
"Uh... yes your Grace." Ser Barristan muttered unsure, but they both did as they asked. Jaime's arm was still unwell but it functioned again at the least. When they extended their arms out, Aegon held his out and the dragons skipped over to the knights. Two scurried up to Jaime's shoulders while Balerion went and sat on Selmy's shoulder. Jaime stood still and glanced between the two dragons as he smirked slightly, Ser Barristan was quite a bit more jumpy however. The king then turned to Drogo who laughed a bit, Aegon smiled as Cohollo stepped forward with his arakh in hand. Aegon turned again and drew Ser Barristan's sword and walked towards the bloodrider.
The center of the room slowly cleared as the children musicians hurried away along with the other entertainers, servants moving even as some warriors chose to stay as they were to get a close view of the fight. Cohollo was indeed quite old, perhaps the oldest warrior in the room yet he was clearly very strong and very confident. Aegon though taller than he had been a year ago was puny in comparison, and certainly not confident with a blade.
"Lajat." Drogo growled as he stepped back with Daenerys, sitting down on a bench as Cohollo charged forward. Aegon needed no translation to know he needed to fight. As he moved forward, the Targaryen couldn't help but wonder how he would face a curved sword. Soon enough, he found out. As he swung, Cohollo caught his blade with his and turned his arm to disarm Aegon as he tried to punch him. Aegon pulled back and freed his sword as he watched the bloodrider who had far more experience than he did, and a great deal more strength.
Women and servants scurried away and the warriors were cheering Cohollo on. Drogo laughed each time Aegon was pushed back and Cohollo pursued. Daenerys didn't look away as she held her hands clenched in her lap while she sat beside her lord husband. Rhaenys however couldn't bear to watch, often glancing away each time the two blades came into contact and sung loud. The two were starting to sweat, it was already hot within Drogo's manse but the battle was making everyone feel the heat as tensions rose.
"Khal yalli." Cohollo spat. Boy-king. Aegon didn't understand but he knew it was insulting.
"Lobir hauser." Aegon hissed back. Horse fucker he called him, though of course the bloodrider only smirked even if he didn't understand Valyrian. The two charged again and blades met, this time Cohollo had Aegon's sword wedged just at the right angle, the blade pointing up with the arakh holding it in place as he pushed the king's arms downward to prevent him from pulling away. The Dothraki tried to punch Aegon again but he leaned back and could only be grazed in the face, though the Targaryen was visibly becoming worn down. Soon enough, Aegon lost his footing.
Cohollo laid dead, the Dragonlord's sword speared through his head from under his chin right into the depths of his skull.
When Aegon fell, the arakh gave the sword its angle and the blade pushed up as Aegon's arm extended in reaction, digging into the Dothraki's neck and sliced up into his brain. Blood flowed freely onto Aegon's arm as he sat on the stone floor while Cohollo choked out his last few breaths. And then he was gone as his body fell over to the side with the sword still in him. Overconfidence and a lot of luck on Aegon's side had the Dothraki meet his doom.
This was the first living man he killed with his own hand. The Dothraki made no cry of pain and even as he died there had been no fear in his eyes. Unlike Viserys when the flames took him, Aegon would never forget his uncle's eyes even if he lived eternally. A haunted madman who wanted to scream for help through his agony, dropping the dragon egg which shattered. The stone egg proved to be as false as Viersys was, but Aegon could no longer hate him for it. Dragons were fire made flesh, and fire was power that was lusted for as both Targaryens had. It may have been different if the fires had taken Aegon and spared Viserys, yet it would never be so. Fire cannot harm the Dragon.
"Maian krazaaji..." Mother of Mountains. Drogo muttered as he descended the dais, leaving his wife behind as he approached the dead Cohollo and the shaken Aegon. Kneeling down, he did the unspeakable and pulled the sword from his rider's head and tossed it aside along with the arakh, lifting the man up to cradle. Dothraki never touched a dead man they did not kill. For Drogo though, he was saying a goodbye to an old friend and ally who had served him well since he had been a boy.
"Ko-Cohollo adothrae kimi mae ajjalan she Rhaeshi Ajjalani." Cohollo will ride with his ancestors tonight in the Nightlands. Drogo closed the warriors eyes before he reached for his dagger, causing Aegon to move back as the khal sliced off the long braid, tossing it at the king. "Qorasokh ha Khal Zhavorsa." Spoils for the Dragon King.
The bells of Cohollo's braid jingled as they hit the ground, the silk hair still warm from resting on the warrior's sweaty back. Drogo stood and gestured for Pentoshi servants to take the body away from there as he watched Aegon. A part of his heart full of regret, a part full of admiration, but no anger. Cohollo fought like a true warrior, for Drogo and for his soon-to-be bride, the Stallion had granted this Zhavorsa victory for a reason. And so he nodded in approval before he reached down to help his brother-by-law up.
"A fiasco." Illyrion threw his arms up as he walked out into the sunlight on the marble staircase entering into his central courtyard. The Dornish lord turned his head to glance at the fat man.
"Fiasco?" Oberyn asked.
"A mess, a chaotic mess." Illyrio said with a slight hiss.
"Rhaenys..." Illyrio dismissed the Red Viper's worry.
"Safe. As safe can be." Illyrio sighed as he stepped beside the Dornish, looking out at his great pond with the small yellow flowers swaying with the gentle ripples. "King Aegon has secured at least his sister's freedom. One of them anyways..."
"It seems he would name Daenerys his own blood, to say they shared a womb. To what end he hopes to reach, I cannot say, I do not think like a king." Illyrio hummed.
"Perhaps to protect her from Khal Drogo." Oberyn offered.
"Mm." Illyrio ignored him, not wanting to point out the king held no power that could possibly make Drogo fear the foreigner. Perhaps in time when the dragons were grown. "His Grace makes it a point still to blame you for the incident, as well as the Kingsguard."
"The princesses are of their own will." He shrugged, having no desire to explain himself to the magister.
"They are mere girls. One like a summer bloom, the other like dragonglass."
"Will the king return soon?" Oberyn asked, glazing over the minor insult about his sister-by-law and niece.
"Arrangements are being made for a funeral and a wedding, though I'm certain the king will return shortly."
"Then I shall go wait for him." Oberyn turned without another word and brushed by Illyrio. The fat man raised a brow as he watched the Dornish man leave.
'What have I gotten myself into...' The magister shook his head and sighed.
Rhaegal let out a small roar, the others joining in. It was a song of dragons as they rode on their Father's up from where he was waiting against a large pillar, Oberyn's expression was mostly unchanged. Staying behind had been difficult, knowing that his nephew might not have returned. He was glad to see him alive and well, yet still unsure how to deal with the king's displeasure.
Though he did take the blame, he couldn't help but compare the two siblings. Rhaenys' determination to bring back her brother was met equally by Aegon's stubborn to not believe that his family would willingly endanger themselves for his sake. And there they were, as strong as ever and still standing proud regardless of being so far from home with such a long road ahead. Unbowed. Unbent. Unbroken. The princess and the king both had just as much of Dorne in them as they did of Valyria.
Even when faced with the mutiny, Rhaenys did not hesitate as she killed many sailors all on her own and secured the dragons before the traitors could even think to snatch them. She was quick that one, quicker than any of them. Daenerys could do little during the fight, but she did rally Barristan Selmy and Jaime Lannister immediately. Though it was perhaps too little too late for Aegon. Oberyn cringed as he called back the memory.
He had just speared the former captain Seawood through the belly and took down two other sailors, leaving more than half the crew now dead, and desperate. From atop the upper-deck, Oberyn only got a glimpse of the sailors pulling Aegon to the side and throwing him overboard. The Red Viper had been so sure that he lost his nephew that day between the mutiny and the coming storm. When news came that Aegon was in Tyrosh, supposedly as a royal hostage, he went and alone he wept profoundly. He could never face Elia ever again, knowing that he had allowed his family to die on his watch. Nor would he ever forgive himself.
Yet still, he managed to fail his family. Aegon said it was so and Oberyn knew it to be true, he didn't deny it. Danerys and Rhaenys had jumped at the idea when Illyrio told them of Khal Drogo's khalisar, and that Aegon could be rescued. The fat man had played the Viper and the Targaryen princesses, and he let it happen. Oberyn held no trust thereafter for the man who wore so many rings and eyed the three dragons.
"Welcome back." Oberyn said as he walked to meet them. Aegon looked up at his uncle, dressed in fine linen and silk, far more prim and well-placed than he had been on the Gallant Dragon in his rags. From atop one of the long balconies of the manse, the golden-robed Illyrio watched them.
Aegon looked half-drained from the experience, Oberyn could only fathom what happened. Though the king's bloody arm and chest, along with the clenched Dothraki braid in his hand was a pretty good indication. The small bells jingling ever so faintly, hymning the bitter-sweet tune of the king's victory.
"Daenerys is beyond our grasp. Unless we want to kill everyone in the horde." Aegon said with a sting.
"At least sweet Rhae is with us." Oberyn smiled faintly as he looked to his niece before he began to walk with the group alongside Ser Barristan and just behind Aegon.
"At a cost however." Ser Barristan reported as he walked with the Red Viper.
"It's not a huge cost." Jaime said matter-of-factly. "Targaryens have wed each other for centuries."
"Wed?" Oberyn frowned as he looked ahead to Aegon who didn't bother glancing back at his uncle, though Rhaenys did, and he finally noticed she seemed melancholic. The silence weighed heavy on them, and all of them felt Oberyn's anxiety to hear of the news that Aegon was withholding. Finally the king stopped and turned so he would not face Oberyn, and looked to his Kingsguard.
"Ser Barristan, Ser Jaime. Go in without us." Aegon extended his arm to them, the dragons scurrying along it as their Father gave a slight whistle.
"As you command, my king." Jaime bowed his head as he held out an arm, Balerion running across it to perch on the Kingsguard's shoulder.
"Your Grace." Ser Barristan as well bowed his head as Viserion and Rhaegal stood on his left shoulder, the knight visibly uncomfortable but yet remained diligent. The pair walked around and headed towards the manse's front doors, with all three dragons looking behind at Aegon. Balerion let out a low growling sort-of whine.
"Aegon, what is... Your Grace, what cost is it you paid to have your sister freed?" Oberyn asked, looking to Rhaenys and then to Aegon.
"Rhaenys and I are to marry on the morrow. She is to be my bride." The king spoke flatly, reaching over to take his sister by the hand. He squeezed it gently, trying to reassure her, but it was no use. For either of them.
Author's Note: So Daenerys and Drogo were married after all. A Targaryen princess sold away in exchange for an army, sounds familiar. I know many might be unhappy with the Dany/Drogy pairing, but I have an incredibly special place in my heart for those two. No reading of a couple's wedding had ever touched me in such a bizarre way. Though was there someone else that Daenerys should have ended up with do you think?
There's also Rhae... after Rhaegar made an effort to not have his children marry each other, in the end they must, if Rhaenys is to be granted her freedom from the Dothraki. Though perhaps Rhaenys might have been more suited to be Drogo's wife, feisty and strong... at least on the surface. Of course, Aegon will now follow the horde to safeguard Daenerys, so will his reaction to their culture be like Viserys' or Daenerys'? And when will Aegon decide to either take Daenerys back or leave her with her husband to return to Westeros? Time will tell!
Review Response: To ardleighstreet, thanks for the review! I actually would LOVE a whiteboard, though for the moment I don't have the space for one. For larger projects I use sticky notes on the bare wall in my office with different colors for different purposes (blue for main plot, yellow for character interaction, etc), but for this fic I actually just use a notepad to jot down ideas and story-planning. It's hardly superior, though thank you, but I'm one of the lesser authors on this site ;)
Review Response #2: To Guest, thanks for the review! Sadly I don't see Daenerys and Stannis having an interaction, but certainly I think Cersei and her could have a scene which might really add some flavor that you're looking for. Also Viserys got a much quicker death than I would have liked, but I can't see Aegon having it in him to kill his own family directly. Sadly. I hope you like what's to come :)
Review Response #3: To Misery Loves Sarah, thanks for the comments! I really wish I wasn't so ambitious, but Aegon has no character to him as it were. So he needs some developing in order to reach the level which I think will be suiting for him to be able to sit on the Iron Throne safely and have the ending I have in mind. Glad you'll be reading anyways :) Arya and Aegon have a lot to do.
Review Response #4: To KnightOfHolyLight, thanks for the review! Very good question, though really no character in GoT is purely good though some are purely evil. Aegon has only the stories of his father and perhaps some Stark influence to help determine his morality. Though apparently he's still okay with torching an entire city just for the wrong-doings of one slaver group. It seems the angrier he gets, the madder he gets. Perhaps he will eventually be like Aerys or perhaps he'll be like Rhaegar in the end, it's a long road for him I think. His newfound perspective on slavery may or may not lead him to be like Dany in-canon, Daenerys was constantly around slaves and saw their mistreatment while being like one to her brother. So we'll see, but very good point! And I hope you enjoyed Aegon's recollection of Viserys' painful death.
Review Response #5 To Zireael07, thanks for the comment! Glad you liked it!
Review Response #6: To chronos the cookie thief, thanks for the comments! Dragons are hatched and with their daddy, and apparently uncle Jaime. Who would've thought dragons and the kingslayer would get along. The Kingsguard situation is left empty for now, and that will be amended when Jaime gets to speak with Aegon after things have settled down. I'm trying to slowly unravel what's happening, since Aegon too is in the dark about a lot. Much will be revealed! Though much we already know, just from a different source.
Review Response #7: To A Fan, thanks for the review! I'm glad you like the flashbacks, I try to work hard on them for your enjoyment :) Luckily for Aegon, Rhaenys and Daenerys were around so the dragons were ultimately safe in Pentos. Though if Ser Jorah hadn't gotten Aegon there when he did... would they have continued to be safe with Illyrio?
Review Response #8: To carlita290591, thanks for the review! 60-70 chapters will be long and tedious, but it'll be worth it if you enjoy it :) I hope to continue working hard so you get a good read!
Review Response #9: To Master of the RedSand, thanks for the review! I'm glad that you're liking how the world building is going, I'm trying to add more meat on the bone while not distracting too much from the story. There is going to be more Tyrion chapters and Ned Stark does have a few chapters but it's up in the air how many exactly. Non-Game chapters will hopefully come, though many of them will focus on Aegon and Arya with some of Renly and company as well as Tyrion of course.
Please Note: If there is a mistake somehow in this alternate GoT universe, please try to ignore it as I can't possibly get every single detail correct since I'm not brilliant Mr. Martin. If it is something major such as calling Hoster Tully the Lord of the Vale instead of Jon Arryn, please message me so I may correct it. And PLEASE, do not review with spoilers, many have not finished the books and/or TV series. Thank you! Please do review, and feel free to offer suggestions for writing or plot.