Daenerys stood on the balcony atop the Great Pyramid of Meerreen a look of satisfied content on her face. 'My ancestor had conquered Westeros with three dragons. I took a city with sewer rats in a single night." She smiled to herself. They may not be calling her a conqueror yet but she was getting there.
The plan hatched by the old man had worked beautifully. As promised the city had fallen by the time dawn arrived. In the dead of night the slaves armed with the weapons she had provided them slit the throats of their guards before making their way to the main gate. To prevent the alarm from being sounded. They first eliminated the four guard posts
Storm Crows under the Widower and Jokin take the Southern Post
Second Sons under Kasporio and Therrond capture the Northern Post
Slaves under Strong Belwas and Beksha seize the Eastern Post
Freed Men under Cendrick and Vagel overran the Western Post
After securing the guard posts, they stormed the main gate killing the guards and securing entrance, Asher took a torch and waved it in the air giving Daenerys the signal that they could move in. At her command Daenerys' host moved in. By the time guards on the wall realized what was happening the gates had been breeched.
The defiant shouts of the defenders warped into fearful cries as they were overwhelmed by the horde of freedmen. Those that tried to fight back were slaughtered, the slavers were dragged from their homes. An orgy of looting and burning commenced. Only the Unsullied and the Freed Men kept their composure and discipline.
By the time the sun began to rise Daenerys, mounted on her Silver rode along the streets of the sacked city. She stood before a plaza where the defeated awaited her judgement. 'Great Masters,' she thought, 'Not so great anymore. The men were either shriveled or oiled while the women were soft or dry. "Pitiful excuses for humans" her blood riders remarked.
Daenerys initially intended to crucify 163 of the masters at random in the same manner as they had the slave children on the mile markers. Arstan implored her to show mercy, while Derrick suggested they they find the masters who championed the act in the first place.
After talking amongst the newly liberated slaves, the Freed Men were able to find all those who has supported the crucifixion of the children. However this left a gap since there weren't 163 families in the city. So they settled for the next eldest men in their families they ranged from sons to brothers, to uncles and cousins. It made no difference they were sentenced all the same.
One hundred and sixty men nailed to posts along the plaza each man pointing to the next. She felt satisfied when she gave the order for it to be done. The memory of the children still fresh in her mind kindled the rage within her. Yet seeing the dying men bleeding to death and smelling the air as many had voided their bowels and bladders it brought rebuke to the satisfaction it initially gave her.
'What I did was just,' she told herself, 'I did it for the children.'
"It was just," a voice said behind her, "those bastards got they deserved."
She turned to see Marcus coming behind her, there was still blood on his armour from the sacking."
"How did-" she began to ask and Marcus smiled.
"The fact that you are questioning your own ruthlessness is good," he replied, "it means you're not a sadist."
"But is it too much," She wondered, "maybe, perhaps-"
Marcus shrugged, "Honestly, considering what we could have done to them I say they're coming out with a bargain. An eye for an eye, it's only fair."
Daenerys said no more and turned back towards the city, "Is their something you needed Ser Marcus?"
Derrick wished me to inform you that our ships are now anchored in city's harbour your grace, the Meereenese fleet is now yours."
Daenerys nodded, "very well, tell Lord Derrick to come to the Great Pyramid after his men have settled."
Marcus bowed, "as you wish, your grace, With that he turned on his heel and marched out. As he left Daenerys turned back to where he had been standing.
Her scribe Missandei was chatting with the older man in her native language
Later while the Freed Men led the soldiers were restoring order to the city she met with her closest advisors. Arstan, Ser Jorah, Missandei and Grey Worm in the council chambers. "What do you think of them?"
Misssandei was the first to speak, "they are former slaves, two of them bear the mark of the Demon's head, a symbol to recognize a disobedient slave and the old man was a translator like this one. He knows more languages than this one but he is older after all. He even offered to teach me a few."
Daenerys smiled, even after all this time her young scribe was still having difficulty referring to herself in the first person. All the same she was glad that her scribe had someone to talk to.
Strangely he isn't well liked by his companions," Jorah noted, "Evidently he's a coward."
"A coward with a good mind for tactics," Arstan noted.
"Did you find out anything," Daenerys asked.
"I spoke with some of their men," Arstan reported, "many of whom were recently liberated from slave ships that the Freed Men had happened upon. So it does seem that their intentions are legitimate.
"Even so," Ser Jorah replied with a frown, "I would be cautious around them some are from kingdoms that fought your family and may hold ill will towards you."
"Like Bear Island," Arstan said with a smirk causing Jorah to go silent. "All the same he is right. We need to find out more about them. Though the one that has my attention is the Dornishman."
"Marcus?" Daenerys asked, and Arstan nodded. "It's not that I don't trust him, but there's something about him that I can't put my finger on.
"I as well," Jorah agreed, "his face seems familiar somehow."
"Those eyes though," Arstan said softly.
Jorah nodded, "aye, there's no mistaking it."
Daenerys frowned, true his eyes were similar to her own but the way Arstan was speaking about them had a longing tone to them. "What of them?"
"He has his mother's eyes," Arstan said, "purple eyes are common in House Dayne."
"So he's not Targaryen," Daenerys confirmed slightly disappointed. He had the eyes just not the hair.
Arstan shrugged, "difficult to say, he could be distant or his father could simply be of Valyrian decent."
Daenerys nodded and turned to the side. In the past she had stolen glances at Daario and he had not been shy about returning the favour. Now she found herself doing the same to the young Dornishman. Daario was by no means ugly but compared to Marcus he was too old and too flamboyant. His blue beard had nothing on Marcus Sand's eyes.
Moments later, Lord Derrick arrived along with his captains, "you summoned me your grace?"
Daenerys nodded, "I would like to thank you for all the efforts you and your men have made on my behalf. it is only fitting that I reward you for your services."
"The fact that we have freed these slaves from Meereen's yolk is reward enough." Derrick said humbly.
Daenerys nodded, "regardless, since you are responsible for securing Meereen's fleet I would like to make you the admiral of my fleet."
"I am honoured," Derrick said with a bow, "but such a position would be unfit for someone who knows little about a ship. Cendrick would be better fit for the task. His people are natural sailors, commands his own ship and knows how to take others. I would be grateful to be one of your captains if it please you."
Daenerys took a long look at Derrick's second in command and realized he raised an interesting point before nodding, "very well then and if you don't mind I would like you to take Captain Groleo as your second Lord Cendrick."
"As you wish your grace," Cendrick said with a bow.
"Good," Daenerys said delighted before turning to Derrick, "Since I can't make you an admiral I would like to have you as one of my military advisors."
"Now that I can do," Derrick said with a smile.
"As well as Illyllo," Daenerys added with a smirk
Derrick's smile curled into a frown, "very well then, he is a capable tactician. I suppose it would be foolish to disregard his talent."
Daenerys smiled "I'm glad we were able to come to an understanding on that part. So how are your men settling in?"
"We have seized control of one of the fighting pits closest to the harbour and we are now using it as our barracks."
"The others companies are doing the same," Darrio added. "Because of the way they are designed it seemed to be the logical choice."
Daenerys nodded, "good, with the masters subdued I will need your support in restoring order Lord Derrick.
A knock came at the door and Missandei answered. After a moment, Missandei turned to her. "Your Grace, Marcus Sand is here to see you, he says it's important."
Daenerys nodded, "send him in then."
The Dornishman entered the room and the first thing he did was unstrap his sword and set it on the table before putting his hands behind his back. "Thank you for taking the time to have me your grace," Marcus replied.
"What can I do for you Marcus," the dragon queen asked.
"I came to tell you the reason for why I'm here in Meereen," Marcus replied gravely.
Daenerys cocked her eyebrow, "and what would that me Ser Marcus?"
Marcus took a deep breath knowing there would be no turning back after this. "I was sent here as an envoy," he began, "by Roland Baratheon."
A deafening silence spread across the room Arstan and Jorah looked at him in shock, the Freed men narrowed their eyes. Daenerys was dumbfounded, 'is this man utterly daft,' she wondered, 'why would he just reveal such a thing to my face so casually.' Part of her wanted to throw him in a cell yet another part was curious, so against her better judgment he allowed Marcus to continue.
Arstan gripped his staff while Jorah drew his sword the blade pointed at Marcus' neck. "I KNEW IT," Jorah sneered, "YOU'RE A SPY FOR THE ENEMY."
"Enemy?" Marcus wondered disregarding the sword on his neck. "I didn't know you considered a boy born long after your family's exile were the enemy."
"He is a Baratheon," Jorah replied. "All Baratheons are the enemy of House Targaryen."
Marcus smirked, "would that logic apply to all northerners as well." This caused Jorah to back off slightly and Marcus continued, "Though I would like to note that my allegiance is to the Martells first and foremost. The Martells remain staunch supporters of the Dragon your grace so here I am."
Daenerys' eyes narrowed, "if the Martells are Loyal as you claim then why haven't they pledged their allegiance already?"
"Well the Martell brothers had a plan to marry Princess Arianne to your brother Viserys but recent events ended those plans."
This took her off guard as she never heard of any sort of plan, "Viserys never told me about such an arrangement." Daenerys said suspiciously.
Marcus shook his head, "Viserys would not have known about it, he was only a small child at the time. Ser Willem Darry signed the marriage pact on his behalf, though he died before he could tell him." He then scratched his chin, "as for being a spy I suppose I am in a sense."
"Why are you telling me all of this now?"
Marcus shrugged, "I wish to be plain with you from the beginning. I figure it's only a matter of time before you discover my intentions eventually. so I might as well come forward with them personally." He smirked, "at least this way you can never say I was dishonest with you."
"You didn't tell me about this when we first met though." Daenerys pointed out.
Marcus nodded, "at the time you were focused on taking Meereen, I didn't wish to distract you."
"And I suppose he wants my help to take down his brother?" Daenerys concluded.
Marcus shook his head, "Roland insists that the war with Joffrey is his alone to fight. Rather he sent me here to find answers." Marcus frowned and ran his hand through his hair, "so I suppose I am a spy in a sense."
"What answers?" Daenerys demanded, 'what is this Roland Baratheon playing at.'
"Answers to the only question everyone in Westeros is wondering," Marcus replied. "Are you your Mother's daughter, or your father's? King Roland wishes to avoid a conflict with you once his war against his brother ends. With summer ending he wishes to use the time he has to prepare for winter not war. He simply wants to know if he can come to an agreement with you."
"Or maybe he wants to lure me into a false sense of security then strike men while my guard is down." Daenerys concluded.
"Aye," Jorah nodded in agreement, "He is the son of not only the man who overthrew her father and tried to kill her but the grandson of the man who had my niece and nephew brutally killed. "We have no reason to trust him."
It was then that Arstan stepped forward, "your grace, I cannot speak for King Robert but his second son is not like that."
"Oh?" Daenerys questioned doubtfully
Arstan nodded, "when Robert Baratheon learned of your pregnancy, he wanted to send assassins after you. But Roland spoke on your behalf and convinced him against it."
"And pray tell how would a mere squire know what goes on in King Robert's court?' Jorah now glared at the old man, his suspicious gaze switching from Marcus to Arstan.
Arstan sighed and bowed his head, then drew himself up to his full height, "Marcus is not the only one holding truths from you, your grace." His eyes crestfallen as he knelt, "I too am keeping a secret. I know what happens in King Robert's court because I once served under him. As the Lord Commander of his Kingsguard.
Jorah now focused his attention as well as his sword at Arstan, "I knew you looked familiar Ser, yet your beard threw me off."
"Ser Jorah," Daenerys said as calmly as she could though she was fighting to remain so, "who is this man."
Her knight spoke slowly and clearly, only one of the greatest fighters of his time, but every knight in Westeros knew of Ser Barristan Selmy."
Daenerys felt overwhelmed, "is everyone who joins me deceiving me?" She should be angry at Marcus but then again she had only known him for a couple of days and he revealed himself much sooner that Arstan.
"Your Grace," Arstan spoke up, "I am sorry I had to mislead you, but I had to keep the Lannisters from finding out that I had joined you."
"Though the only reason you did so is because Joffrey dismissed you from his service," Marcus pointed out.
"It is true," Ser Barristan admitted, "had I not been dismissed I would still be in Kings Landing to my eternal shame. Though a part of me regrets I didn't stay for I was unable to protect Prince Roland."
"You seem quite fond of him," The queen observed the way he spoke.
"I served Robert Baratheon from the day of his coronation until his death, which means I was present to observe his first four children. So it is only natural for some sort of bond to form with them.
"You say Roland spoke in my defense," Daenerys remembered what had been said earlier, "why would Robert listen to a child."
"King Robert adored his second son and he often lamented on the fact he wasn't the eldest. Claiming that the gods played a cruel joke on him by making the least able of his sons his heir." When he wanted to have you killed, Lord Stark and myself tried reason to him but alas our pleas fell on deaf ears. Most of the small council agreed with Robert but he never fully trusted their judgement so he summoned Roland. Roland had his father see it from a different standpoint, He predicted that killing you would only involk the Drogo's wrath and mounting such an invasion would put a strain on his khalasar."
"So Roland didn't want me dead out of practicality not out of honor," Daenerys concluded venomously.
"It was the only way to convince him. We tried to appeal to Robert's honor and integrity, and it failed. Roland took a different approach and Robert listened and eventually conceded."
"Apparently not," Jorah scoffed, "because an assassin did indeed tried to kill her with poisoned wine."
This took Ser Barristan by surprise, and he looked to Daenerys who nodded, "It's true, and if it wasn't for my knight, he might have succeeded."
"I knew nothing of this your grace," Ser Barristan regained his posture, "but Robert swore to Roland that he would stay his hand. So if an assassin was sent after you then it was done without Robert's consent."
"Robert could have lied to Roland just to appease him," Daenerys was unconvinced of the usurper's innocence."
Ser Barristan shook his head, "Robert was always blunt in his methods, lying to his son was not in his nature."
"So if he didn't sent the assassin then who else would?" Jorah demanded.
"I cannot say but one thing is for sure, if the events unfolding in Westeros are anything to go by. Someone was trying to start a war, to throw the Seven Kingdoms into chaos and it seems that they succeeded."
Daenerys regarded the two men before her, Ser Barristan had deceived her yet had saved her from the warlock assassins in Astapor. Both men were guilty of the same crime, but she wasn't as angry with Marcus as she was with Ser Barristan given the length of time they had been with her. and they had helped her to take Meereen.
"Am I under arrest your grace?" Marcus asked.
Daenerys regarded him for a moment, One one hand he was not the friend she initially believed him to be. On the other he willingly surrendered himself to her judgment, confessing his true purpose knowing full well she could execute him for it. He was an envoy for the son of the man who destroyed her family yet he also served the Martells, a House she knew was her family's allies. If she ever wanted to return to Westeros the Martells could proved to be a powerful ally. After a moment she turned to Ser Jorah. "Give him back his sword."
Jorah stared at her in disbelief, "Khaleesi."
"Just do it!" She snapped.
The Bear Knight sighed and picked up Marcus' sword and handed it to him."
"I won't arrest you yet, Ser Marcus," Daenerys told him, "but you will not be given free reign either, every step you take will be watched and if I seen you make one that I feel is out of line I will not hesitate to feed you to my dragons."
Marcus took his sword, strapped it to his waist and nodded, "I would not expect anything less from the mother of Dragons." He then turned to the old man, "what of Ser Barristan?"
"I will judge him as I see fit," She replied coldly. "For now you are both refrained from my council, for you have both proven that I cannot trust you."
The two men bowed, "as you wish your grace." Daenerys gestured to Grey Worm who escorted them out of the room. Daenerys also dismissed the rest of her council save for Ser Jorah and Missandei. Once they were gone Daenerys collapsed into a chair, 'is everyone from Westeros trying to deceive me?' She wondered, 'are they all as false as those two.'
Daenerys turned to Ser Jorah, "it seems you were right about the old man, he was hiding something."
Jorah nodded, "I'm only sorry for not seeing through his deception sooner Khaleesi."
She rubbed her hands together still unsure about what to do with them, "Do you think he's telling the truth? About "King Roland seeking an alliance?"
"Probably just a ruse to make you drop your guard so his assassins can kill you."
Daenerys nodded, then a thought came to her, "Though except for the Warlock and that poisoner in Vaes Dothrak we have encountered no such assassins."
"They're too busy fighting each other to spend such effort on you."
"Yet Roland was able to sent an envoy."
"An envoy who deceived you from the start."
Daenerys shook her head trying to clear her thoughts. 'too much to think about,' Finally she turned to the rest of her council, "We will adjourn for today, I need time to think on this."
The after getting some well deserved rest Daenerys decided to receive those seeking an audience and sat herself upon her throne. The original throne had been carved out of gilded wood in the shape of a harpy, She immediately broke it down for firewood and replaced it with a wooden bench. But even this was temporary as Derrick had a gift for her the following morning. The Freed Men had melted down the Bronze Harpy Statue that once sat at the Pyramid's apex and re-forged it into a throne for her. The new throne was in the shape of a dragon standing on a trampled harpy. "The Ghiscari in their rightful place," Derrick declared. A message to the people of the city.
"Does anyone seek an audience today?" She asked.
Missandei nodded, "only one, an envoy from Astapor your grace."
Daenerys nodded, "send him in then."
The envoy was a pale thin man adorned in heavy jewelry. He approached the foot of the stairs leading to the throne and bowed deeply. "Your Worship," He began. I am Ghael emissary of Astapor, I come on behalf of his imperial majesty King Cleon the Great."
Daenerys tensed at this but remained regal, "I believe I had left a council to rule Astapor Noble Ghael. A Healer, A Scholar and a Priest."
Ghael bowed his head, "Your worship I fear I bring grave news about that. The Council you installed betrayed the trust you bestowed upon them, It was learned that they were scheming to restore the good masters to power and return us to chains. Thankfully Great Cleon exposed this plot and executed them. In gratitude the people have named him their king.
Daenerys was silent for a moment unsure about what to say, she couldn't believe for a moment that the councilors would betray her, and yet the people were so willing to cast them aside in favour of this Cleon. Both thoughts troubled her.
Missandei broke the silence, "Noble Ghael, would this be the same Cleon who served Grazdan mo Ullor."
Ghael winced before nodding, "the very same," he admitted reluctantly. "A strong leader and a great man."
Missandei frowned and turned to Daenerys, "Cleon was a renowned butcher in Astapor," she explained, "He could cut up a pig faster than anyone known."
Daenerys felt ill, "my councilors have been replaced by a butcher." Still she knew that she needed to remain diplomatic, "I trust that King Cleon's rule will be wise and just," she said. "What does his majesty wish?"
"His imperial majesty wishes to form an alliance with against the Wise Masters of Yunkai. He deems that your enemies are his enemies and declares his devotion to you and your cause."
"I have promised the Wise Masters of Yunkai that no harm shall befall them if they released their slaves." The Queen pointed out.
"I am sorry to tell you that those Yunkish dogs cannot be trusted and are plotting revenge against you. They have already enslaves those that chose to stay. As we speak they are raising and drilling levies and Building warships. Sellswords are being hired and envoys have been sent across Essos to gain allies. New Ghis, Volantis, Qarth and even the Dothraki.
Daenerys slumped back on her throne trying to take all of this in. 'I showed them mercy and they have spat on it.' She looked back at Ghael and what does King Cleon want in exchange for this devotion?"
Ghael smiled with his rotten teeth, "As a show of faith Great Cleon offers you his hand in marriage to seal this alliance, He promises to give you many strong sons."
The proposal left Daenerys speechless for a moment before she regained her composure. "Does King Cleon have sons already?"
Ghael looked uncomfortable before shaking his head, "only three daughters by his first wife an his second and third wives are currently with child. But he is willing to set them aside if you consent to wed him?"
"How noble of him," Daenerys could barely contain her sarcasm, " I will consider what you have said My Lord, She turned to Missasndei, Give Lord Ghael chambers for the night in the lower Pyramid." I must now speak with my council."
Once the envoy was taken care of, Daenerys gathered her advisors and commanders to the council chamber and told them of what was transpiring in Astapor and Yunkai. Her Commanders immediately began spewing out suggestions
"If Yunkai is building a fleet then they must be stopped," Cendrick declared, "Give me your blessing and I shall sail to Yunkai and burn this fleet as well as the docks to the ground."
"This 'King Cleon' seem like nothing more than an up-jumped sewer rat," Daario spat when he heard of the Butcher's Proposal. "Your grace let me go to Astapor I will put this Butcher King in his rightful place and restore order to the city."
Ben Plumm rubbed his chin, "the slavers with the power of Volantis, Qarth and Dothraki behind them? The odds are grim, perhaps we should leave before they get a chance to trap us."
"Coward," Rakharo spat, "slavers defy Khaleesi, they should burn like those in Astapor."
"If the Slavers are seeking allies then we should do the same," Derrick offered. "Sent emissary's of our own to cities they haven't reached out to yet."
Daenerys held up her hand and everyone silenced themselves
"It appears my liberation of Slaver's Bay isn't going quite as planned," She said almost to herself. "Aegon the Conqueror brought Fire and Blood to Westeros but afterwards, he gave them peace and prosperity. Yet I have brought none of that here. I have been more Khal than Queen looting and burning then moving on."
"We can always sail for Westeros," Jorah offered, "we have the ships and we have the men."
Illyllo spoke up, "both Baratheon Brothers can field four times as many men as us from what I've heard and twice the ships. Best to wait until they've exhausted themselves, then we can swoop in and mop up the survivors."
Daenerys shook her head, "how can I rule Westeros If I can't rule Slaver's Bay?" She asked, and even Jorah could not answer. How can I bring peace and prosperity to Seven Kingdoms If I can't do the same for a single city?" Why should any of the lords trust me" Why should any of their people follow me?"
"You are the breaker of chains," Missandei declared, "the Mother of Dragons."
"You are khaleesi," Rakharo added.
Daenerys smiled at their encouragement before her hands balled up into fists, "I will not let those I fought to free slide back into chains."
What will you do Khaleesi?" Jorah asked
Daenerys raised her head high, "I will stay and do what Queens are meant to do," she declared resolutely as she turned and looked over the balcony, "I will rule."