Ned Stark Lives! Part 2 Chapter 50 Daenerys
"How many?" Dany asked as Ser Jorah stood in the doorway of her cabin on the Summer Wind while she sat on her bed, barely awake, with Missandei standing nearby after just helping Dany on with her silk dressing gown.
"No more ships have come in the night, khalessi," her strong bear told her.
"No more," she repeated quietly. "We will wait…one more day. And then we must go. Tomorrow."
"Aye, khalessi," Ser Jorah said and then he left her. He was happy, she knew. Waiting was not for him. Dany stood and stretched and Missandei pulled back a chair for Dany to sit at her table. Already a platter of dates, cheese, grapes, flat bread, and fried fish was on her table.
"Join me," she told her interpreter and the young girl sat with Dany and ate with her, but only ate a little and only drank some water, no wine even though Dany had offered some. Missandei was sad, she knew, for there had been no word of the ship her three Unsullied brothers' sailed on since the great storm. Only thirty-three ships were still together when it was over and in the days that followed five more came to join the group. Among those that were still with her were the great cog the Stormcrows were on, as was Euron Crow's Eye's Silence and most of his longships from the Iron Islands. Of her Unsullied only twelve ships full of them were still with her, about two thousand five hundred of her brave warriors. Grey Worm her commander was among them but he had been injured in the storm and now lay in a sick bed with a broken arm and also a few broken ribs. The other two thousand five hundred were out there still, lost, or worse. Two galleys with Brown Ben Plumm and his Second Sons on board were also with Dany's reduced fleet but there was no sign of the large cog the Windblown had boarded.
One small piece of good fortune was her dragons were still with her. For two days the storm had pushed her ships farther and farther east and her dragons were no where in sight and Dany feared the worst. Then on the third day as the storm began to abate they passed a long, low lying island and as if they knew she was near her three dragons rose from the island and flew over her ship in a circle, roaring as tears filled Dany's eyes. Each landed on different ships and were quickly fed before they decided to feast on human flesh.
That was the only good news though. Many men had been lost from the ships that were still afloat, more had been injured in the storm, and almost all ships had some damage, even the ironmen ships. They needed to make repairs and have time to rest, as the Crow's Eye had shouted to her across the water, and then he ordered her and the others to follow him. She bristled at his presumption but at sea he was the undisputed leader of them and she commanded Captain Groleo to follow. The winds were still blowing from the west and Euron Crow's Eye's steered them east with the wind toward a small island he knew where they could make repairs and take on fresh water and fruit and maybe even some fish and game.
That the people of the island knew the Crow's Eye when they saw his distinctive ship coming with many more was obvious to Dany. They fled from their seaside villages to the interior of their island in haste, abandoning everything. Dany had no doubt what had gone here the last time the Silence had dropped anchor. Violence. Rape. Murder.
"They fear him," Ser Barristan said as the Summer Wind glided to a stop as its anchor grabbed purchase in the shallow bottom of what passed for a small harbor on the island's east side, in the lee of the island where the westerly winds could not push them on shore. Dany could see a large village of wooden and thatched huts and many small boats pulled up on a sandy beach. She also saw people running into the jungle behind the village.
"Aye," Ser Jorah agreed. "His reputation goes before him. That may be a good or bad thing."
"How can it be both?" Dany asked.
"Good in a place like this, where they fear him and are few in number with no great armies or navies," Ser Jorah told her. "But if they don't fear him and are capable of seeking revenge, then it will be bad for all of us."
"You think someone wants his head?"
"More than a few someones," Ser Barristan added. "If his boasts about the things he claims he has done in the Jade Sea are true, maybe that is why he fears to go there again."
That had been ten days past. The repairs had been made, the injured men cared for, though several had died of their injuries, and fresh fruit, fish and some goat meat had been obtained and brought on board, along with fresh water. Dany had taken Drogon up in the sky and saw the island from above in one glorious panorama. The central part of the island was hilly and she could see a large wooden structure with many people there on the highest hill. It looked like a small wooden fortress. Maybe they built it after the last visit from the Silence. She thought to make contact with the villagers but knew they would fear Drogon more than any ship full of raiders. She then thought to go on foot to make contact to tell them they meant no harm but when she told her advisors the Crows' Eye had laughed at her.
"Leave them be," he told her. "They will not understand you anyway, for they know no words you speak. But they do know me, so they would not believe a word you say even if they could understand."
The second day on the island Dany called a meeting of all present commanders and captains. In a pavilion set up on shore they sat around a long table and talked about their next move. The Crow's Eye came with all his captains, while behind Dany stood her two knights, Daario, Lord Varys, Brown Ben Plumm, and Captain Groleo.
"We have blown far east," said Captain Groleo when Dany asked where they were. "The stars and moon tell me so."
"Aye, it is so," said the Crow's Eye. "Past New Ghis and closer to Qarth than Ghiscar we are now. We might have to wait here longer for the winds to blow from the east again."
"What if we keep going east?" Dany suggested and all look worried at that prospect and she thought she even saw a hint of fear in Euron's one good eye.
"We should wait here for a bit and see if anymore of our ships turn up," Ser Jorah suggested.
"We can send out fast galleys to the horizons and see if they can spot any of our lost ones," Captain Groleo said and Dany agreed and so they had waited.
That was eight days ago. Only five ships had been found, some with Unsullied, but Missandei's brothers were not on them. Almost two thousand Unsullied and a thousand men of the Windblown including their commander the Tattered Prince were not heard from. In addition, a few hundred sailors and other men on these ships were also lost, drown, or maybe taken captive by the Volantene fleet.
"It's a disaster," she said to Ser Barristan later that morning as she stood on deck looking out to sea hoping for more ships to come. "Almost half my army is gone in a heartbeat."
The old warrior nodded. "A great misfortune, Your Grace. Perhaps they still are out there, but know not where we are or where to go."
"Perhaps. But we cannot wait forever for them. And we cannot roam the seas in hopes they appear. Maybe our quest is done before it even hardly began," she said forlornly.
"No, Your Grace, this is not the end of our quest," the old knight told her. "We still have a strong force and three dragons. Many and more will join us. When we reach Westeros men will flock to your banners."
"Will they? Which men?" Dany asked, her tone full of doubt. "The Baratheons are our enemies. The Lannisters as well. The Starks, Tullys and Arryns all helped unseat my family from the Iron Throne."
"The Reach stayed staunch for your family throughout the rebellion."
"Yes, but who do they side with now?"
"The last report from Varys said they supported Stannis Baratheon but only because he held Mace Tyrell's children. Such an alliance will not last long. And remember, there is always Dorne."
"Dorne…whose prince is now dead, through my own fault."
"Through his own stupidity, Your Grace. An eager boy who overstepped himself. Prince Doran will understand when we explain how his son died. You must also remember that your brother's wife was Dornish, Your Grace. She was murdered by the Lannisters. Prince Doran and his brother Oberyn have waited a long time to seek their revenge for their dead sister and her children. Once they know Aegon lives, they will raise Dorne and march to join him."
"Will they believe in him? Will they not call him a pretender?"
Ser Barristan grunted. "Yes, this is a worry. If the boy is called pretender, then all the more reason for us to make haste. You are no pretender, and everyone in Westeros knows you live and have dragons by now. When they see you riding Drogon, they will tremble and bend the knee as they did to Aegon the Conqueror three hundred years ago."
Dany knew her history and knew that much was not exactly true. "Not everyone bent the knee."
"No, not at first. But they all did eventually."
"But how many will I have to kill before that comes to pass?"
"Some must die. The leaders of our enemies for one. Stannis, he will never bend the knee and if he lives will be a constant threat. Then there are the Lannister pretenders."
Dany sighed. "They are children. I cannot murder children."
"If you don't others will use them against you, Your Grace."
She felt the dragon rising inside her and fought to clamp it down. "I cannot do as they did. I will not build my family's new regime on the bones of children!"
"As you say, Your Grace."
Dany stared out at the peaceful waters near the island but she found no peace there. Inside she roiled, wondering if she would indeed have to give the command to kill the two children who stood in her way.
"They are bastards, are they not?" she asked as she remembered the tales of Tommen and Mrycella's parentage. "Then if this is true then they have no claim."
"So Stannis would have everyone believe. But even bastards can start rebellions as your ancestors learned from the Blackfyres. At one time I fought some of them at the end of their long rebellions."
Sometimes she forgot how old he was, and how long he had served the kings of Westeros. He spoke the truth but still she balked at the idea. "I cannot murder children," she said again.
"That decision is a long way off, my Queen, and much and more can happen between then and now."
"Yes….yes, it is something to decide later."
"There is something else to decide, Your Grace. Before we left Meereen you said you would step aside for Aegon. But if none will accept Aegon as their king…you must take the Iron Throne."
"I will. Then if this boy is truly my brother's son I will name him my heir. That will ensure our family's legacy, will it not?"
"It will, Your Grace."
"But let us agree, Ser Barristan, that if any of my enemies bend the knee we will spare them."
"That is wise and just, my Queen."
"Good," she said and then she turned back to the shore where many men were still gathering supplies and loading the ships. She also saw some ironmen around a fire and they looked drunk and were playing a game of throwing fighting axes at each other and trying to catch them. "An unruly bunch they are."
Ser Barristan followed her gaze. "Yes, Your Grace. But fierce warriors as well."
"We shall see," she replied and then turned back to the sea and stared out there willing more ships to come over the horizon but none did and finally she stopped looking. "We leave tomorrow."
"Yes, Your Grace. And what direction shall we sail?"
"East!" shouted the Crow's Eye as he slammed a fist on the table in the pavilion on shore. "We cannot reach Westeros by sailing east."
"We will die if we try to sail west," Dany replied. "The Volantenes are still out there, the fleet from New Ghis by now as well."
"The Storm God scattered and sank them all," the Crow's Eye replied.
"Why do you fear the east?" Dany asked and all those around the table now looked to the ironman captain.
He snorted. "Euron Crow's Eye fears to go nowhere the Drowned God's waters reach. But they do not reach Westeros from the east."
Varys spoke up. He looked thinner, the sea journey and storm making him less plump, a result of his inability to keep food down while at sea. "You claimed that you knew not where the Saffron Straits led."
Euron growled at him. "Hold your tongue, eunuch, or lose it. None of you have been east. I have."
Dany sighed. "Very well, we will sail west."
The Crow's Eye looked at her in suspicion. "I will not chase you if you turn east when we are at sea. No one of my ships will."
"Then you will lose your bride and all the riches that await you in Westeros."
The look in his eye was terrible to behold. "Woman, you try me dearly."
"She is your Queen," Ser Jorah snarled at the ironman. "You will follow her commands."
"To sail east is to waste time…or court our deaths," the Crow's Eye shot back and his captains shouted out their agreements.
"Who has put a price on your head?" Ser Barristan asked him when it was more quiet. "The emperor of Yi Ti? The wizards of Asshai?"
Euron Crow's Eye laughed. "Both. Plus many more."
"I am sure a sailor of your renown can get past Asshai and into the Saffron Straits," Dany said.
"Aye, I can. But what awaits us inside the straits?"
"We shall see," Dany replied.
"It's a folly," one ironman captain said.
"Mayhaps," the Crow's Eye said. "But Westeros will still be there when we sail west again. Ready your ships…Your Grace…we sail on the morning tide."
"And which way will we sail?"
The growl came deep from his throat and then he finally spoke. "East."
Later on the Summer Wind in her cabin Dany sat with Ser Barristan, Ser Jorah, and Varys eating a late supper. Varys only nibbled at his food while the two knights ate with gusto.
"Your stomach still troubling you, Lord Varys?" she asked.
"Yes, my Queen. But not because of the sea."
She put down her fork and looked across the table at him intently. "You think it is folly to go east as well?"
Varys sighed. "Asshai does not have its reputation as a sinister place for no reason, Your Grace. Euron Crow's Eye is no craven, we can all agree on that I am sure, yet we all saw him balk at sailing east. He fears what may happen to him."
"Good," said Ser Jorah. "Let the wizards of Asshai have his head. It will save us the trouble later."
"I fear the wizards may want all our heads," Varys answered. "And they may take what we need most."
"Speak plainly," Ser Barristan said to Varys in an impatient tone.
"The dragons," Varys replied. "There are only three in the whole world…and Asshai is so very close to the entrance to the Saffron Straits. The Shadow Lands are there as well, and the straits pass by them."
Dany felt a sudden shock. The words of the woman Quaithe from Asshai came back to her. "To touch the light you must pass beneath the shadow."
"You think the wizards will try to take the dragons?" Ser Barristan was asking Varys.
"They will never have my dragons," Dany said with strength. "I am their mother, they obey only me."
"Of course, Your Grace," Varys said in his most obsequious manner. But then his tone changed. "You do realize that dragons originally came from the Shadow Lands near Asshai?"
Dany had not known that. "I thought they came from Valyria."
"Most people do," Varys replied. "But if one looks back far enough in the histories, the stories say the dragons originally came from the far east, from Asshai. That I learned from one of our enemies, Tyrion Lannister."
Ser Jorah grunted. "What does the Imp know of dragons?"
"Much and more," Ser Barristan said. "He was always going on about them while he was at court in King's Landing. Drove the maesters mad with his demands for books on the subject. Spent a small fortune on getting such books from wherever he could."
Dany was slowing realizing why Varys was worried. "You fear they know some way to control my dragons?"
"Yes, Your Grace," the eunuch replied. "If they know how to control dragons we might lose control of yours."
With Varys' words in her mind Dany went to bed that night, staying awake a long time worrying on the eunuch's prophecy. Finally she fell asleep but soon she began to dream. It was the same dream as many times before, starting with the red door in the house in Braavos. She could hardly remember anything else about the city except the red door. And her brother's anger. Always he was angry. And then the dragon would arise in him and he would strike out at her. The old knight protected her when she was young, but when he died no one could protect her. Then Khal Drogo killed Viserys and she felt safe again. But then her moon and stars died as well, killed by a witch woman who might have had powers from Asshai. Then there was Quaithe, the woman who…
"Awake, Daenerys Stormborn," said a voice and with a start Dany opened her eyes.
"What? Who? Who's there?" she said with fear. "My guards will kill you!"
"Do not shout, for they would not see me anyway," said the woman who sat in the chair at the table by her bed. A candle that was nearly melted was in a pewter holder on the table and in its light Dany could see the woman.
It was Quaithe, still wearing her lacquered mask that hid her features.
"I…I dreamed of you just now," Dany told her.
"Did you? How interesting."
"Why are you here?"
"To tell you what you must do. Sail to Asshai. I await you there."
"Why should I sail there?" Dany asked, not wanting to tell her the decision had already been made.
"To go west you must go east, Daenerys."
Dany sat up in her bed. "Then there is a passage through the Saffron Straits."
"There is…but no sailor can see it. The Shadow Lands loom large in this region. Old is the magic and old are the spells woven into the land. The exit from the Saffron Straits into the Sunset Sea is hidden. You will need to take on a pilot at Asshai."
"A pilot?" Dany did not know this word.
"A guide, if you will. To show you the way through the straits. Only someone who knows the truth can pass under the shadow."
Dany was suspicious. "Why are you helping me?"
"I told you once the truth you shall know if you come to Asshai. This truth I will tell you, but you must come to the Temple of the Mask. Only there can you know the truth."
"Remember. The Temple of the Mask. And hurry. Time is running out. Soon the whole world will be in peril."
But then there was no one there.
Long Dany brooded on the mysterious woman's words and she still had not fallen to sleep when the sun came up. It was going to be another hot day, with only a light breeze from the west. By midmorning they were ready to sail and soon all ships were moving from the small island, at last heading east, slowly but surely.
The journey was long and perilous at times, but mostly it was boring. Storms they encountered yet no more ships they lost, but for some days they were becalmed and only by the efforts of the strong backs of their rowers did they move east. Some days they saw pods of dolphins and once a large group of humpbacked whales. Fish they caught and most were edible but others were so bizarre looking no man would dare eat them so they were tossed back into the ocean.
Ships they encountered as well, mainly merchant ships plying the trade routes of the Summer and Jade Sea. If they were close enough Dany allowed the ironmen to run them down and capture them, but ordered them to spare the crews if possible. In this way she gathered wealth from the ships cargos, and her men had a taste of fighting. They also picked up some news, but it was all of the Jade Sea region and little of it mattered to Dany's plans. She craved news of Westeros but no ships they took had any such news. The crews were mainly of the east, a motley collection of fair and dark skinned peoples, many who had no language Dany could understand. The Crow's Eye could understand some and speak some, enough to learn where they had come from and where they were going. Most were heading to Volantis or New Ghis, a few to Yunkai, and the odd ship was planning the long voyage to Pentos, Braavos, and even Westeros.
One ship had a Pentoshi crew and this one she let go when she learned Illyrio was the owner. The captain and Captain Groleo knew each other and long they talked on what was happening east and west. But the ship had been away from Pentos for more than a year and knew less than they did of tidings in Westeros. The Pentoshi captain promised to tell Illyrio where she was and where she was going. Dany wrote a hasty letter as well for Illyrio, explaining what had happened in Meereen, especially to Prince Quentyn. Perhaps he could mollify the Dornish before she arrived in Westeros. Lord Varys added his own letter, though Dany did not know its contents.
"You should not have let them go," Euron Crow's Eye said after the Pentoshi cog set sail again. "The winds may blow them to Westeros and sailors talk worse than fishwives when in their cups."
For once Ser Jorah agreed with the ironman. "He is right. It would be better if no ship that sees us escaped."
"They were Illyrio's people. I will not harm those who have helped me," Dany said firmly and that was an end to the discussion.
Ten days after leaving the small island a massive island loomed to the northeast. "Great Moraq," Captain Groleo told her as they stood on the deck in sunshine. "To the north is Qarth and the Jade Gates. We will sail south through the Cinnamon Straits."
For a week they sailed along the coast of the greatest island in the east. Other islands they passed and Dany also learned there were ports nearby but these they avoided. Small towns and villages was where they stopped and the sight of her fleet and three dragons sent many to their knees to beg for terms. She was not a conqueror she explained, just a traveler. The people of these small places eagerly offered up food and drink and even their sons and daughters for the trade goods Dany had in the holds of captured merchant men. Dany traded for the food and drink but refused the second, for that was the same as slavery. She did this to the disgust of many of her men, who had seen few women in many weeks now.
Finally they exited the Cinnamon Straits and came upon the Island of Elephants, a long crescent shaped island at the entrance to the Jade Sea. Zabhad was its principle city and for once Dany agreed they should set ashore at a large port, for the men to entertain themselves, and for them to gather what news they could.
The port had two large forts on headlands by its harbor entrance but the sight of Dany flying Drogon and with two other dragons on her tail caused the merchant leaders of the city to open their gates. Dany promised no harm would come to any. Once again she traded to get her food and drink and her ships were soon laden with such. The merchants of the city also offered to trade her for some war elephants which they bred on the island but Dany refused as she had no place on her ships for them and thought perhaps her dragons might eat them as well. At Zabhad Dany decided sell all of the merchant ships she had captured. Most of the cargos were sold off as well and she collected much gold coin, though in the local currency. Later it could be melted down, Varys suggested, and stamped into gold dragons of Westeros. The negotiations to sell everything took two days, the talks done in High Valyrian which some merchant princes knew well, and when done she was surprised at how easy it was, with few troubles, as she told Varys.
Varys shrugged at her comment. "We stole the ships, they know it, and were eager to buy these stolen goods. It is the way of the world. Now we have some coin for our armies when we reach Westeros."
Trouble did come, however, from her own men, and there was more than one tavern brawl and whorehouse dispute in the two days they stayed. The sellswords and ironmen did have coin as well, coin from Westeros and Meereen and Yunkai that they had been paid in and had no place to spend until now, and more than one argument came over how much the exchange rate was for these foreign coins for the local currency. But when the dust settled only two were dead, one ironman and one sellsword, both killed in the same whorehouse when they had tried to rape instead of paying. The Crow's Eye cared not for their crimes and wanted to send a hundred ironmen into the city to kill all the whores and burn the place to the ground. When Dany heard his plan she promised not to interfere, even if the city's own guard came and attacked the Crow's Eye and his men. Euron merely grunted, knowing what she meant, and there was no attack on the whorehouse. Or maybe there was a price on his head here as well and that's what stayed his hand. For the two days they were in port he did not set foot on shore and kept his crew on Silence as well, all of them at their posts as if expecting an attack at any moment.
News Dany also needed and news she got, from Ser Jorah and Varys, both of whom spent time in the city seeking answers.
"There is some news from Westeros," Varys told her and her two knights in the cabin on Summer Wind. "A merchant ship from Duskendale put in here two weeks past on the way to Asshai. They told of how the Others have breached the Wall and were heading south."
"Gods," Mormont said when he heard this. "The Wall has fallen?" Dany could see he was worried. His people lived on Bear Island, so perilously close to the Wall and the Others.
"Apparently so," Varys told them. "There is more news. The sailors said Stannis Baratheon and the Lannisters were locked in a siege around Riverrun."
"Aye, I heard the same," said Ser Jorah. "I also heard the Tyrells no longer support Stannis. But if the Others are coming…what does it matter?"
"It matters," Ser Barristan said. "If those fools are still fighting each other when the Others come…Westeros may be lost before we get there."
"This news must be many weeks old by now," Varys said and they all knew the implications of that.
"Aye," said Ser Jorah, more worry in his eyes. "Let us pray there is truly a way home past Asshai."
"There is," Dany said with confidence.
"I hope you are right, my Queen," Ser Jorah replied.
"I am right," Dany told them and when all three looked at her she finally sighed and told them of her late night visitor.
"A dream," Varys said right away when Dany was done explaining.
"Not a dream," Dany told him. "She has visited me in the past."
"Dream or no dream, this sounds dangerous, Your Grace," Ser Barristan said. "Why could she not tell you this truth when in your cabin?"
"Because she wants the dragons," Ser Jorah said with suspicion in his tone. "No, we cannot stop in Asshai."
"But if we need this pilot," Varys said. "Then we may have no choice."
"I must go to this temple," Dany told them in a tone that brooked no arguments.
"Then we will come as well," Ser Barristan said and Dany smiled slightly.
"Of course," she said. "Now what news from Asshai?"
Varys shrugged. "Nothing special. Life goes on as normal there, as normal as can be for a place filled with wizards and witches. There is some rumor of a struggle for leadership there, but only among the high sorcerers, whose mysterious dealings few know about or dare to know. But despite its sinister reputation merchant ships are always welcome in Asshai. They are people like us and need food and drink and crave things from other lands."
"And dragons, no doubt," Ser Jorah said.
"The dragons will stay on ship," Dany decided. "Far out at sea. We will take Summer Wind in alone. We are a merchant ship, after all. Once in port Ser Jorah, Ser Barristan, and I will find our way to this Temple of the Mask."
"What shall we tell Euron Greyjoy?" Varys asked.
She sighed. "I best tell him our plans now so he can be angry and then say he will not do it and then finally agree with me."
Varys tittered. "You do seem to have a hold on him, Your Grace."
Ser Jorah glared at the eunuch. "She will never marry him."
"I will not," Dany agreed. "But we still need him and his ships. We know not what awaits in Asshai. Or Westeros."
She called for the Crow's Eye and a short time later he appeared on Summer Wind with twenty of his collection of sailors from many lands. As they remained on deck Euron came below and entered Dany's cabin. Ser Barristan was there as was Missandei. Dany offered him wine but he refused.
"I had hoped we would be alone," Euron Greyjoy said, his mood dark.
"I am not your wife yet."
"That will change the moment we land in Westeros."
"We may have to fight our way ashore," she told him.
He shrugged. "This is the way it always is for us."
"We may face a new enemy," Ser Barristan told him. "There is news from Westeros. The Others have broken through the Wall."
Euron laughed. "Old fishwives tales you are listening to, ser. Tales to make children shiver in their beds."
"Not tales," Dany told him. "The evidence for their existence has been building. I am inclined to believe it is true."
"So what if it is?" Euron said without a care. "The legends say these are demons made of ice and snow, yes? They will not stand dragon fire."
"Mayhaps not," Dany answered. "But only if I get my dragons to Westeros."
"It was you who chose to sail east. If we cannot find a way home then we must turn west again. Already much time we have lost and more if we must go west."
"We will not have to sail west. We have news of our route. A man Varys met said there is a way through the Saffron Straits but we must have a guide, a pilot, from Asshai."
Euron's one good eye stared at her for a long few moments and then he spoke. "If this is so they will demand a price for this pilot."
"Mayhaps," Dany replied. "But you need not concern yourself. You will stay by the Saffron Straits with the main fleet while I enter Asshai and pick up the pilot we need."
Euron Crow's Eye's face grew dark. "This is folly. They will bind you and steal your dragons."
"They will not. The dragons will remain with you."
Now she thought she saw him grin slightly but it was quickly gone. "As you say…Your Grace. Now send these two away so we can speak alone."
She smiled at his brashness. "Not today."
His smile came easily to his blue-hued lips but there was anger in his eye. "Someday you will scream my name, Daenerys Stormborn, as I take what is mine."
"Someday is not today," she told him, though her body felt flushed at his bold way of speaking.
"Leave. Now," Ser Barristan commanded and the Crow's Eye smiled at him.
"Someday your blood will be on my sword, old man," he said and with that he left them.
Missandei poured Dany some wine and she gulped it down. "He is a dreadful man," the little interpreter said.
"We need his ships and men," Dany said. "So we shall suffer him a little longer."
"As you say, Your Grace," she said. Sad she still was, for her lost brothers, but there was nothing Dany could do for her.
They raised anchor the next morning, and more than one man sailed with a heavy head and an empty purse. But most were satisfied, including the city, a bit richer but glad to see them go. Dany did not doubt that they had set word on to Asshai that she was coming but she felt that no such word was needed. Quaithe knew she was coming and Dany had a feeling she was already in Asshai.
Euron Crow's Eye led them straight across the Jade Sea, the shortest route to Asshai. Most ships sailed the coastlines so they saw fewer merchant ships and had no time to waste running down those they did see. Each day it did not rain or was overcast Dany rode Drogon up into the sky to scout the route ahead. She noticed after a while that her ships seem to move in a steady straight line, for the sun was on the horizon in the same place each day. She mentioned this to Captain Groleo and he nodded.
"Yes, it is a way to navigate. Follow the same line the sun is above the horizon each day and you will sail true east or west. The problem is to know how far you have sailed. That is only done by hard reckoning, a study of the stars and moon, but even so it is not perfect. Once I came upon an island I thought a hundred leagues away and almost ran my ship upon its rocks."
Days went by with little to excite anyone, which was good in a way. Each day Dany looked around to make sure her ships were still there. Often she saw Daario across the water on his cog, him staring at her and waving. She had not lain with him since Meereen and now ached for him but there had been no chance for them to be alone, not even in Zabhad.
After nearly two weeks sail from the Island of Elephants, the Crow's Eye announced that soon they would be in the waters of Asshai. Food and drink was still plentiful but it would not be enough to cross the Sunset Sea. They would have to find more and the Crow's Eye said he could find food on the south coast below the Saffron Straits while she was in Asshai. She worried on what he would do when left to his own to do as he pleased but she had no time to do everything herself.
"He will reave," Ser Jorah warned her.
"I fear so. But we have pressing business in Asshai."
The day came when she had to part from her dragons. Drogon she rode to settle on Daario's great cog, which had deck space enough for her dragon. The Tyrosh sellsword captain was fearful for her when she confided her plans.
"They will try to keep you there and will seek your dragons," he warned.
"Then you must sail away," she said. "And leave me to my fate."
"We are nothing without you, my Queen."
"And I am nothing without you," she whispered to him and in moments he led her below to his cabin. Their lovemaking was fast but still sweet and satisfying. She wanted to stay in his arms all day, maybe forever, but it was soon time to go. He kissed her long and passionately and then she bade him goodbye.
Rhaegal and Viserion she visited and spoke soothingly to them and gave more advice to the ships' captains on how to handle them. "Let them fly free over land if they wish," she said. "They will always come back."
As Captain Groleo sail the Summer Wind to the northeast Euron Crow's Eye led the rest of the fleet southeast to search for food for the long journey to come. In a few hours the fleet was out of sight over the horizon.
"Five days time we meet at the entrance of the Saffron Straits," she had told the Crow's Eye at their last meeting.
"And if you are not there?" he asked.
He smiled, his lips still blue from the shade of the evening. "We will wait…but not forever."
Dany did not trust him but had no choice. She needed to get a pilot, and to know the truth that would be revealed at the Temple of the Mask.
The day after departing from the fleet more ships they began to see and pass, all manner of ships from many different lands. Soon on the horizon they saw the smudge of land, growing larger and darker as they approached. Dany climbed to the mast head and saw at last the city of Asshai and the Shadow Lands beyond.
The city lay at the end of a long range of low mountains, at the mouth of a great river which came down from the mountains. Like Volantis, so she had read, the city was divided into two sides, separated by the river. No bridge gapped the river near the port area but farther upstream they could see some bridges.
Captain Groleo shouted orders and sails were taken down and oars shipped out. Soon a small vessel with a red light on its mast head approached them and Groleo shouted words across the water with the men on the small ship. Dany had barely heard what they said, speaking in some strange tongue that Ser Jorah called the Trade Talk, a bastardization of many languages used by sailors all over the world. Dany's mind was on the light on the mast of the other ship. It was red, yet it seemed to not be a lantern and she saw no flame at all.
"Sorcery," Ser Barristan said from her side. He was in his full armor, despite the heat. "We must be cautious here my Queen. I have a shirt of mail for you to wear under your clothes. Daggers you should carry as well."
"I will," she said and he led her below and helped her prepare. Missandei looked on in fear as Dany pulled the mail shirt over her head.
"Not to worry. I will come back," she told the girl.
"Yes, my Queen."
Her last two Dothraki blood riders were there as well and insisted on going with her but she commanded them to guard the ship and they reluctantly agreed.
Varys also insisted on going ashore, to learn as much as he could of the place, and Dany agreed.
"A few hours, no more," she told him and he promised to be back sooner if possible. Dany watched as the eunuch put on a disguise, making himself into a sailor, in sailor's garb and with a brown wig and even a scar on one cheek. He even smelled of brine and fish.
Varys smiled. "Better to blend in with the people," he said and even his voice was changed, into a rough seaman's rasp. Dany laughed and wished him luck.
When Dany came back on deck a strange looking man was shouting commands in the strange Trade Talk language. He was short and with dark features and thick black hair on a large head, dressed in blue and red silks "He is a pilot," Ser Jorah said to her.
"For the port. He will guide the ship into a dock. No one can dock here without a pilot."
"Do you think he knows…?"
"No," Ser Jorah quickly said. "He is not that pilot, I think, khalessi."
"We best not address her by her titles," Ser Barristan said in a low voice filled with caution. "We are merchants. She is our interpreter."
Ser Jorah scoffed. "They will know who she is."
"Perhaps," the old knight said. "But we must maintain the fiction as long as we can."
"Yes," Dany said. "Captain Groleo will sell what cargo we have left while we take in the city. And find what we are looking for."
As she spoke the city loomed on both sides of the river. A jumble of wharves and warehouses, large houses and rows of three and four-story stone blocks of buildings. Color was in evidence everywhere, and red was a favorite. Temples they could see higher up on low hills around the city. Great temples and the greatest of all was no doubt for the Lord of Light, with massive braziers on tall columns lit even during the daytime. She would have to ask which was the Temple of the Mask.
"What language do they speak?" Dany asked
"I know not," Ser Jorah said. "This is my first time here." They were truly going into the unknown.
After a short time the ship was pulled into a dock on the right side of the river by smaller rowboats and it was tied up. As her captain talked to the customs people, Dany and her two knights and Varys were allowed on shore with no trouble. At first their steps were unsteady after so long at sea. Varys bid them goodbye and soon disappeared down a dark alley.
They moved on into the hustle and bustle of the city. People walked and rode horses, with many carts and even a few elephants in sight. The people were darker skinned than those of Westeros, though not as dark as her Dothraki, and they had a slight cast to their eyes, not rounded so much and more alike to a cat's eyes. Their clothing was a riot of colors, and looked mostly like silk, light and comfortable in the heat of the region.
For a place with a sinister reputation Dany felt oddly safe. The streets were narrow in some places and wide in others, but they were clean and orderly and there seemed to be no beggars or street urchins in evidence. No watchmen were to be seen either.
"Strange," Ser Barristan said. "It is quiet…and orderly."
"Aye," Ser Jorah said and then he growled in a lower voice. "People are staring at us."
"It's your armor and swords," Dany said, realizing something. "No one else is armed or armored."
It was true. Not a soul was carrying a weapon of any type, not even a dagger was in evidence. Suddenly three men approached them, all three of them dressed in red and with thick black beards and black hair.
"You are from the west?" one asked in the Common Tongue of Westeros.
"We are," Ser Jorah said. It was too obvious a fact to lie.
"Come. She awaits you…Daenerys Stormborn," said the one who spoke, their leader, and then he turned and walked away with his two companions, not waiting for Dany to answer.
"I suppose we must follow," Dany said and so they did. Far into the city they walked, and more and more they saw of Asshai the more they realized that it was a city of peace. They saw no walls, no weapons, no soldiers, nothing of the sort. The people seemed happy, and went about their business in an orderly way. For a city with a reputation for sorcery there was little evidence of it.
"Strange," Ser Barristan said quietly. "Where are the walls and soldiers?"
"Mayhaps they do not need them," Mormont ventured.
"What protects them from their enemies?" Dany asked.
"Sorcery?" her bear suggested.
Soon they came to an open gate built into a low wall. Beyond the gate was a high hill and on top a massive ornate building made of a pink stone, with many domes, small ones surrounding a large dome in the center. The central dome seemed made of glass and sparkled and shone in the sunlight. Against the backdrop of dark mountains the dome seemed like the sun itself.
"The Temple of the Mask," the leader said. "Please go up. She awaits you."
The escort left them at the gate. On they walked through the gate and they came to a long set of stairs. Up they went and finally arrived at the top, a sheen of sweat on their brows from the climb in the heat.
A large door was before them, made of the same lacquered material that Quaithe's mask was made of. Ser Jorah had met her and knew of the mask she wore.
"I like this not," he said, his hand going to his sword hilt.
"Patience, my bear," Dany told him. "Let us see what she has to say."
They approached the doors and to no surprise they opened on their own. They stepped inside and the doors closed behind them.
Suddenly Dany felt as if the wind was sucked out of her and she felt herself spinning. When the sensation stopped she was in a small, dark, room. Alone.
But not alone for long. A light formed in front of her, and as her eyes adjusted she realized it was a candle on a stone pedestal. A tall candle, which seemed to be black and made of glass.
"Come. Approach," came a voice and she knew it was Quaithe.
"Show yourself first."
She heard a step and turned to her right. Then the candle flame grew tall and bright and lit the room up. As Dany saw her she gasped.
In the light of the candle she saw the reason why she worn the mask. She was so beautiful that it hurt to look at her. Flawless skin, large eyes that were so blue they were oceans you could swim in, lips so sensuous she wanted to kiss her and never stop. Dany felt her heart skip a beat and she found herself breathing deeply.
"Even you are not immune," Quaithe said and Dany felt the bitterness in her tone. Quaithe waved a hand in front of her face and the lacquered mask appeared. "Now you know my true face and why I hide it from the world."
Dany caught her breath. "You are so…"
"Beautiful? Exquisite? Enthralling? Yes, I have heard these words most of my life, at the least the life I led before I came here. Even my father and older brothers were not immune. They took my maidenhead together in one mad night of lust and pain when I was twelve. And when Jared killed Stephan for the right to marry me, my mother finally had the sense to send me away. She cried when she did so, but knew I would bring more trouble on the family. Already many men were asking for my hand, powerful men who if my family refused would be very displeased. I could not marry them all, so I married none. It was two years before my footsteps took me here. I quickly learned that all men and even many women wanted me for only one thing, so I learned to beg with rags covering my face, my hair cut short and muddied, as if I was a hideous thing. In time I heard of this temple, and came here one day and cried my eyes out at the door that would not open. Most of those who serve here are the opposite of me, with faces so ravaged by disease or maiming that none can stand to look on them. Masks they wear to protect them from scorn and loathing. Many days I came and showed my face but they would not let me in. Finally they opened their doors to me. The temple master asked me why I came here. I said I wanted to hide my face from the world. He took my hand and led me inside. That was almost thirty years ago."
"Thirty…but you still look so young."
"A curse, not a blessing, Daenerys Stormborn."
"Dany…please call me Dany."
"No. You are a Queen. Dany is a small girl's name, not a Queen's."
She knew she was right. "Of course. How silly. I am a Queen."
"Good. Never forget."
"Why did you show me your face? Why did you tell me your story?"
"To gain your trust. You are still full of suspicion."
"For good reason. Where are my men?"
"Safe, in another room, a room without a door. The door will appear when we are done here."
"Why do I need trust you?"
"So you will believe, so you will do what must be done to save our world."
"Me? Save the world? I…I only want to go home."
"And where is home? Dragonstone where you were born? The house with the red door in Braavos?"
She gasped again. "How do you know that?"
"This is Asshai, Queen Daenerys, and I have been trained in the ways of the power that dwells here. There are no secrets. I know you have a lover but do not love him. I know Ser Jorah loves you and you care for him but you still do not totally trust him. Varys you should trust, though you do not as well. Of all your people Varys tells you no lies. He wants to see your family on the Iron Throne and wants nothing in return."
"Chaos is what he fears, for it followed him all his early days. And he has a soft spot for the smallfolk, as people in Westeros call the common ones, for he was once one so long ago. Varys serves the realm because someone must. He has no personal ambition."
"That is hard to believe."
"Believe or not, it is true."
"And why do you help me?" Dany asked
"To save the world."
"The Others, as you call them."
"But…they are only in Westeros."
"All the world is one, Queen Daenerys. I told you to reach the west you must go east, to pass under the shadow. The world is round, and connected in many ways. If the Others overrun Westeros, what is to stop them from turning the rest of the world into their domain?"
"But they never left Westeros before…have they?"
"No, but only because men did what they needed to do. Eight thousand years ago two heroes with a magic sword pushed back the Great Other and shut it in a tomb. This time two heroes there will be again. One is already in Westeros we hope. You are the second."
Dany gulped. "Me? Because I have dragons?"
"Yes. And because it is what is meant to be. The original prophecy speaks of two heroes."
"Who is this other hero?"
"Your kin. The Prince that Was Promised as he is called in Westeros."
The old prophecy, a story she knew some of but not all. Once Viserys spoke on it like it was some joke. He told her their older brother Rhaegar believed he was this prince. 'A prince? Yes, he was a prince, Viserys had said, but not the prince of the prophecy. How could he be? He died at the Trident. The real prince would have defeated Robert Baratheon' His voice was full of bitterness when he spoke on this failing of their brother.
"My brother Rhaegar believed he was this prince."
"Not Rhaegar. His son."
"Aegon?" Dany said in surprise. "He died."
She found herself telling the truth. "Varys believes he still lives."
"It matters not, he is not the Prince," said Quaithe. "Rhaegar's other son is."
Dany shook her head. "No, he has no other son."
"He has. The true prophecy says 'When the ice demons arise again the second son of the dragon prince shall be the prince reborn.'"
"I have never heard of this."
"We of Asshai know many things you in Westeros do not. We have the original text of the prophecy made over a thousand years ago. After many translations it was changed to read 'the seed of the dragon princes' which could mean any child of any Targaryen, even you. But no, the true prophecy states it is the second son of the dragon prince when the demons rise again. This can only mean your brother's second son. This is part of the truth I must tell you."
"But Rhaegar only had one son."
"Your brother had a second son. Somewhere in Westeros he is. Most likely a natural born child your brother never claimed as his own."
"Who is he?"
"We know not his name, no matter how hard we searched. One of our priestesses of the Lord of Light believed the Prince was one of the Baratheon brothers and she set sail for Westeros years ago to seek him out. But she was wrong, and had never consulted the true prophecy, believing only what she saw in her flames. You must find the true Prince and join him to defeat the Others. This is the rest of the truth I must tell you. For the true prophecy speaks of a second hero, born of fire and death. You."
"Me?" she said and then she realized maybe it was true. She had been reborn in the fires that burned Khal Drogo's body and killed the witch. And her dragons had been born with her. But still she had doubts.
"Are you even real or is this another dream?"
Quaithe stepped forward and placed a hand on Dany's right cheek. Dany did not flinch and the hand was soft and warm and the touch even a little sensual.
"You are real. But how did you enter my ship's cabin and at Meereen that time? Did I dream all that?"
Quaithe turned to the tall candle. "You never dreamed when we spoke. Old magic it is. This candle and others like it can reach across vast distances to allow people to talk when not in the same room. I left Qarth after you did and came here, planning to guide you as I could. But you did not go home. You smashed the slave trade."
"I…I needed an army. Then…I could not stand to see so many in pain."
"The whole world will be in pain if you do not hurry. Westeros awaits. Your kin awaits. You must bring your dragons safely home so you can defeat these demons."
"Yes. I must go. But I still need the pilot."
"You are the pilot."
"What? I know not the way through the straits."
"When you come to the end of the Saffron Straits ride your dragon high in the sky. Then you will see what no other men can see. You will see the way home."
"I will do so."
"Good. Now you must go and sail. We await news of your victory…my Queen."
Dany smiled slightly at that. "Will you call on me again?"
"No, I think not. The distance is great to Westeros and my powers and the candle have limits. But you are ready I believe. Just remember that all of the world needs you and your dragons now."
"I will," Dany said and then suddenly it was dark again and she felt dizzy and then she was outside the temple, on the top steps and Ser Jorah and Ser Barristan were there.
"Khaleesi!" Ser Jorah said in worry as she almost fell. He helped her steady herself and she looked into his eyes. He does love me…but I cannot love him back. Can I?
"Come, we must go," she said. "I will explain all as we walk."
The riverside port they found after some twists and turns in the streets and in a short time they were back at the ship. Varys was waiting on deck, still in his sailor's garb, his face lined with worry. "Ah, there you are," he said in relief. "We must leave, quickly."
"What is the hurry?" Ser Jorah asked.
"There is a factional war going on among the high wizards and witches, between those of different temples. If they know you are here and your dragons are near, they may try to seize us."
Missandei and her blood riders were overcome with joy at seeing her again, as was Captain Groleo. The crew quickly pushed them off from the dock and soon they were in mid stream and letting the flow of the river carry them out to the sea again. As the rowers bent their backs Asshai began to recede in the distance.
"How is it possible these other wizards did not know we were in the city?" Ser Barristan asked when they met in Dany's cabin.
"Sorcery," Varys said with disgust. "I hate it more than anything. But I am sure this Quaithe used her powers to blind her enemies so they knew you were not here."
"Let us hope," Dany said. "Now we just have to hope the Crow's Eye has re-supplied and waits for us."
"He will," Ser Jorah said as he looked at her. "He lusts for you and will not be satisfied until he has had you."
Dany flushed at that and Ser Barristan gave Mormont a cold look. "Hold your tongue, ser."
Mormont said nothing, only dipped his head to Dany and left them to go up on deck.
Dany calmed herself and looked to Varys. "What else have you learned?"
"Only that Asshai's reputation is ill deserved. I chatted pleasantly with many people, and all were nice and friendly and even bought me a drink or two. But when I ran into people from other lands they had nothing good to say about Asshai. Queer, odd, strange, sinister, all these words came easy to their tongues. They wanted to leave here as quick as they could. I did hear one story, about a drunken sailor who accosted a lady on the street. They say he was looking for a whorehouse and found none so he attacked a woman passing by. No sooner had he been dragged off the terrified woman, a priest all in red came and he was taken to the temple of the Lord of Light. His screams filled the city that night. And the next. And the one after that. His charred and limbless body was found by the docks the fourth morning. I think the message was received. No outsider has committed a crime since. That was many years past. I am sure the local population is equally as cowed."
Ser Barristan grunted. "Not a fate any man would want."
Now Dany asked Varys the question most on her mind. "Did my brother Rhaegar have any more children?"
Varys shrugged. "It is always possible. Your brother was handsome and made many a woman swoon."
"None I know of that he actually took to bed," Varys replied. "But one woman made him swoon."
"Lyanna Stark," Ser Barristan said gravely. "And brought ruin to us all."
"Did she have his child?" Dany asked.
"Not that I ever learned," Varys replied. "She died in the Mountains of Dorne of an illness. Her brother took her bones home."
"I never learned. All who were there disappeared or died."
Ser Barristan spoke. "Except her brother Eddard."
"True," Varys said. "But if his sister had had a child, surely the honorable Eddard would have taken any child she had in and raised...him." Varys' eyes suddenly went wide and then he closed them and let out a deep sigh. "Of course that's who he is. How stupid I was."
"What is it?" Dany asked, wondering why Lord Varys would chide himself so.
"There was a child, Your Grace" Selmy told her, seeming to understand what Varys was saying. "A boy, who Lord Stark took home to Winterfell after the war. He told everyone the boy was his son. He never told anyone who the mother was."
"We all believed him," Varys added. "What man would lie about such a thing? Men will deny children are theirs, not claim them when they are not. And Ned Stark has a reputation for telling the truth."
Dany now understood as well. "He did lie...for his dead sister. The boy...what's his name?"
"Jon Snow," Varys told her. "He is with the Night's Watch at... the Wall."
"The perfect place if what is happening is true," Ser Barristan said.
"If it is true," Varys echoed him. "It makes sense. He could be this Prince that Quaithe spoke on, if he is Rhaegar's second son."
"He must be the second son, he must be the Prince," Dany said with conviction and they could not help but agree.
It rained that night and Dany stood on deck letting the cool rain cool her body and mind. As she stood there thinking on all she learned that day and about what Jon Snow meant to her plans, and if he was truly her brother's second son, Ser Jorah came on deck and approached her.
"Forgive my words, khalessi, but I spoke the truth about Euron Greyjoy."
"I know. Not to worry. He will die when we reach Westeros."
"I agree. But his men will take ill of that."
"Three dragons I have to cow them."
"Then the Iron Islands will be your enemy."
"Perhaps. The future I do not know. Even Quaithe could not see it."
"But Quaithe knew much. What else did she tell you?"
She blanched. "I told you all she said," Dany lied. She had not mentioned Quaithe's opinions of Ser Jorah or Varys.
"As you wish," he answered. "Can we really find a way through the straits? Are you really the pilot we seek?"
"That is yet to be seen."
She turned to go but he laid his hand on her right shoulder, a strong hand and she felt some small comfort from it. "Daenerys…" he started but could say no more.
She sighed. "I know you love me."
He was silent for a moment and then the word came out and she felt his pain. "Aye."
She had to say it. "It can never be."
He took his hand off her shoulder and stiffened. "I understand. You love another."
"I did…but he is dead."
"Yes. I love no one else. Not Daario if that is who you mean."
"It is a lonely life to love no one. I would make a good husband."
"You are an exiled lord and you have a wife."
"A wife I haven't seen in many years. The High Septon can grant me an annulment. As for the other thing, one piece of parchment with your signature can change that once you sit the throne."
"You would not want me for a wife."
She had to tell him. "Jorah…I can give you no children."
"I've known that since your baby died. I will still marry you, and sit by your side as you rule."
That shocked her, that he knew she was barren. Then maybe it was not so surprising as he had been with her a long time, almost from the beginning to now, and he knew much. Yet she might not be the Queen and he had to know this as well. "I will not sit the Iron Throne. My nephew will. His claim comes before mine."
"This Varys and I warned you about already, when first we gave you the news of your nephew. Besides, I am sure I would make a terrible royal consort."
She laughed a bit at that. "You seem to have all the answers to my objections." Then her laughter died on her lips and she grew sad and quiet. "Except one. I do not love you."
He took a deep breath, turned and left without another word. She sighed deeply and wondered if it was not time she put on a lacquered mask as well.
For two days they sailed back and forth across the Saffron Straits entrance until Euron Crow's Eye showed up with the rest of her ships. Her three dragons appeared first in the sky and they wheeled and dipped and came down close to her. Drogon landed and she leaped onto his back and soared up into the sky. It felt good to be in the air again and for some reason she felt more in control, more as one with Drogon and she felt he sensed it as well. His responses to her pressure on his sides were instantaneous.
Coming from the south was her fleet and she soared over them and her crews and Unsullied and even the sellswords cheered her and shouted her name. She landed on Daario's cog and got all the news, not all good. As she had feared the Crow's Eye had let his men run amok and they had razed ten villages, raped many and stole all the supplies they wanted. Daario wanted to unleash his men and Grey Worm the Unsullied as well on the ironmen but they knew that would result in a civil war within the army.
"He must die," Daario said through gritted teeth.
A day later as they sailed into the Saffron Straits she summoned him to her ship. He rowed across in a small boat with six of his men. As he climbed up to the Summer Wind's deck she confronted him.
"I did not send you there to murder and rape! You had plenty of coin to buy food!"
He laughed. "Those savages do not take coin. It was the only way to get enough to eat for the trip home."
"You could have bartered!"
"It would have taken too much time. It is done, so leave it be." He turned to leave but then turned back once more. "And the next time you want to speak to me…Your Grace…come to my ship. I will not be summoned like a thrall anymore."
She simmered with anger but let him go. A day of reckoning would come between them but it would not be today.
On they sailed, into the straits, and passed several large islands that looked empty of people. Looming to their left was the mountain range that came down to Asshai, the so-called Shadow Lands. For all their sinister repute, they were just a range of mountains, and not very high ones at that.
By dawn on the seventh day they came to what appeared to be the end of the Saffron Straits. A large mountain with a bay at its foot appeared before them and there was no apparent exit. The shadow of the mountain fell across the bay. The sun was rising behind the mountain but had not yet climbed over it.
The Silence came close alongside Summer Wind. "I think it is time to sail west!" Euron Greyjoy shouted across the water just as Dany was about to mount Drogon.
"Not today," she shouted back, and she hoped to soon wipe the leering grin off of his face. Soon she was in the air, climbing higher and higher, willing Drogon to climb higher than the mountain. On they climbed and then suddenly the sun's rays shot across the mountainside and as they did so Dany saw a strange sight. The sun's rays appeared to be passing through the mountain.
"That cannot be," she said to herself. On they climbed and now she flew over the mountain. And as she reached the top the mountain suddenly disappeared. Down below was a long, narrow strait of water, and then she looked up…and then she saw it. Past the straits and past some more mountains on either side was a large expanse of water, gleaming in the morning sunrise.
"The sea!" she shouted on the wind. "The sea!" she screamed and it was truly a glorious sight and tears fell from her eyes like rain. "The Sunset Sea…no…the Sunrise Sea!" she yelled and she felt delirious.
Down she swooped back to the ships and as she passed by she screamed "FOLLOW ME!" and then she flew Drogon right for the mountain and on they went and she thought her dragon would shy away from the mountain but his course held true and when she thought she was wrong, when she thought they would now die, his wings beat faster and then…they were through! The mountain disappeared and all the water below was clear to see. She did a quick turn and saw her sailors and warriors all jumping and shouting across her fleet. Rhaegal and Viserion now joined her and as they flew on the ships came below, the rowers bending to their tasks, the cog's sails filled with wind, and one by one they formed a line and on they came as Dany flew ahead of them.
At last she was over the ocean, and her dragons screeched in delight as they flew over open water. Dany turned them back over her fleet as the ships came out into the sea, one by one, and then began to form two columns in an orderly fashion, with all bows pointing east. Wide and blue was the water and it stretched from north to south as far as she could see.
"FLY!" she shouted to Drogon in High Valyarian. "Fly!" she gasped as the tears came again. "Fly, my child…take me home."
Part 3 of Ned Stark Lives! is up and running now so please continue if you want to know who finally takes the Iron Throne.
Thank you to all who read Part 2 and especially those who left comments, good or bad. Criticism is what writers need or they will never improve.
The plan for this story was very intricate from beginning to end and took me much longer than I thought and more chapters to say what I wanted to say. But as much as things changed and grew out of the organic writing process, I had several things I wanted to do and planned from the beginning.
1. The Starks. Jon learns his heritage from Ned, and later Catelyn finds out as well. Ned and Robb reach the Wall, negotiate with the wildlings. The Wall falls, there is a great battle at Winterfell but it is not overrun. Bran goes north. Jon finds Lightbringer and joins Bran.
2. The Lannisters. Tyrion and Cersei clash over Shae, Jaime and Cersei reconcile. Casterly Rock falls to the ironmen. The Hound kills the Mountain. The Lannister army pursues Stannis to the Twins but they reach a deal somehow to face the Others. Tyrion is the one who must try to bring everyone together.
3. Stannis. His army is ensnared but he reaches a deal to join forces with his enemies to fight the Others.
4. Dany. She leaves Meereen and finds a way east and manages to reach the Sunset Sea.
5. Varys. He moves east, he runs into Mormont, they find a way to reach Dany.
6. Theon. He becomes king and plans to attack Casterly Rock. Euron sails east to help Dany.
From those six basic outlines came the rest. I think I might have left Dany's chapters a little too late to start but I knew I only wanted three or four chapters with her and near the end so it worked out that way. Arya and Gendry's wedding was not planned even as I started that chapter but then it seemed like the right thing to do. Again, many people are divided over their romance but I still like it and now we are set up for some great stuff for Arya and Gendry in Part 3. The Iron Islands parts were fun to write as was the attack on Casterly Rock and Shae and the Hound's parts in all that. I had not planned on Theon getting captured but it was too good a thing to pass up as it opened up many more story lines. Hot Pie was never planned but I wanted something to show the smallfolk's side of war and also on the danger Stannis' red woman poised for Gendry.
And that's about it for now. Again thanks to all those who read my story.
Steve, still in Seoul, Korea.