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Chapter 7: The great game
Tywin Lannister sat alone in his solar and brooded. An untouched cup of Dornish wine sat forgotten on his desk beside an open letter marked with the unmistakable scratches that passed for the writing of his eldest son. A few months ago, Jamie rekindled the hope that Tywin might get his heir back after all that time. Instead, both that foolish boy and the oaf he helped put on the throne at the end of the Rebellion decided to gleefully spite him.
At least this time the utter disappointment that was Jamie came with a thin silver lining – the whole realm now knew that the foolish boy had an excellent reason to gut the Mad King. If only Jamie had said something on that fateful day in King's Landing… Tywin closed his eyes, rubbed his temples and growled in frustration. Why, oh, why did his children had to compete to show who was the greatest disappointment?! Was it so hard to say a few sentences worth of explanation?! Just a few words would have seen Jamie hailed as one of the greatest knights and heroes Westeros has ever seen. After that, it would have been easy to release the foolish boy from the oath forced upon him by that cunt Aerys and Tywin would have had his heir back to mold into the proper future Warden of the West.
Instead that fool kept his mouth shut and now, that the truth finally came out, his reputation was forever tarnished. People no longer called Jamie Kingslayer with derision, now he was the Golden Fool… that at least wasn't something anyone would dare repeat twice in the Westerlands after Tywin made an example of those two bards in Lannisport last week, however the damage was already done.
Jamie the fool, oh how apt that description was... Cersei, little his princess, now Queen, who thought herself much smarter than she really was… and then the dwarf… Tywin nearly chocked in rage as he sat and seethed thinking about his children.
Kevan's children were little better – Lancel, another golden fool, his two younger sons, who were cast in Jamie's mold, thinking only about swords and combat, which while of use, didn't help Tywin's predicament.
Stafford's eldest son was a good knight, good soldier, but he lacked what was needed to run the Westerlands, at least his two sisters would make for excellent betrothals and alliances when the opportunity presented itself. While there were various more distant relatives carrying the Lannister name, there simply wasn't anyone among the younger generations that Tywin could comfortably entrust the future to. His dark gaze fell upon the last letter he received from Jamie, another flat out refusal to be the heir and do his duty…
Where did that leave the Westerlands? If Joffrey didn't have the temerity to get sick and die in the North, Tywin would have moved heaven and the seven hells to get Durran named as his heir, then the Stormlands could go either to Stannis and his get or Tommen, he really cared not. Perhaps both of them, a marriage between Tommen and Shireen might wrap up that issue nicely, but it did nothing to solve his current problem. Tommen… the boy was too nice, too soft to be Tywin's heir.
The less said about Genna's get the better. While there might be a handful of her spawn who weren't good for nothing, there was no way in the seven hells that Tywin would let a Frey of all people get his hands on the Rock.
Where did that leave him? He wasn't a young man, he might not live long enough to marry and properly raise another heir. The same was true about waiting for Durran to marry and have a hair and a spare. And while Kevan was a few years younger, he wasn't a leader, he was follower. He would be good enough to put the polishing touches on someone Tywin trained himself and help them transition to power while they grew up into their position, however after the way Lancel and his younger boys turned out… Left to his own devices, Kevan was going to raise another knight, not the Warden that the Westerlands needed.
Tywin grit his teeth and finally grabbed the so far untouched goblet with wine and downed it all, not bothering to even taste it.
There were simply no good options left… and if he had to be honest with himself, after this last tantrum, Jamie proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that even if he got released from his position in the Kingsguard, he wasn't suitable as an heir. His golden son, his pride and joy… bah…
Where did this leave them all? A grotesque dwarf content to whore his days away and drink himself in an early grave. It didn't really matter, the bannermen would never follow a dwarf. At best it would be just a few years after Tywin died before the Westerlands burned, he knew it in his bones.
And this was simply unacceptable! Tywin shook with rage for one endless moment before forcing it down until only cold, calculating clarity remained. He needed an heir, a proper heir. Barring that, he needed to ensure the security of the Lannister name and the Westerlands until one could be produced and raised. The way he saw it, he had three options, none of them particularly good or guaranteed to work, because the odds were good he would run out of time sooner rather than later.
First, he could marry, again, even if he loathed the idea. Then if he fathered another son, if said son lived long enough and was whole, if he didn't prove to be a disappointment and if Tywin himself lived long enough to shape him as the heir House Lannister needed…
Too many ifs.
Second, if he finally managed to get Tyrion married, if that hell-spawn who murdered his Joanna managed to produce a whole heir, a boy who wouldn't be a disappointment, and again, if Tywin lasted long enough…
Third, by all accounts Durran was shaping to not be a disappointment. Everything Tywin had heard about his second grandson over the last few months filled him with pride. Perhaps a second son of Durran, of the future King, could fill the bill. In that case, perhaps Durran himself might do his duty to House Lannister even if technically he was a Baratheon…
Tywin nodded to himself. Too many ifs, too many uncertainties. He had to marry, soon. The dwarf had to marry, and in any case, he had to go to King's Landing, evaluate Durran himself, and perhaps entrust the future of House Lannister to him in case he ran out of time… or fathered another disappointment.
Decision made, Tywin pulled out a clean sheet of parchment and began writing a new will. Once he was done, he would have Kevan and Genna act as witnesses before sealing it.
The Green Sea
For weeks now she rode in a daze, paying little to no attention to the world around her. Her whole body hurt, and not just because she still wasn't accustomed to riding this long and hard. Even the physical pain of doing her duty as a wife paled in comparison to the anguish she felt ever since the morning after her marriage to Khal Drogo… when not only it became clear that someone stole one of her precious dragon eggs that Magister Illyrio gifted her, but news from King's Landing reached Pentos just in time for her to hear them before the Khalazar left.
A lifetime of lies and broken dreams hurt worse than every sore and bruise she now carried.
All the stories Viserys told her about their father, they were lies, Daenerys knew that now. It took a long time but eventually Jorah Mormont, the gruff Northman who swore to protect her, confirmed it. The smallfolk, the nobles, the traders and craftsmen in the Seven Kingdoms, they didn't wait with baited breath for the Targaryens to return so they could raise up in their support against the Usurper. Certainly not! If anything, everyone but madmen in Westeros cursed the Targaryen name, and with a good reason…
Her father, the Mad King, her brother, the Mad Prince, and finally, Dany herself, sold to barbarians and sullied by her husband. There was nothing left for any of them in Westeros. If Drogo actually gave an army to Viserys, the whole continent would raise up against them, they wouldn't suffer insane Targaryens to rule them again.
That revelation all but broke her. Her only comfort were her dragon eggs, which in reality were very expensive and pretty stones.
What was her father thinking when he decided to burn a city of half a million souls to ashes? What did her brother think when he went out and kidnapped the daughter of a Lord Paramount? What did her father think when he burned Rikard Stark and murdered his heir, thus sealing the doom of their dynasty?
Madness, sheer, stupid madness… The same madness Dany now saw in the eyes of her older brother, the same madness that clawed at her as her mind fell into a bottomless pit of despair.
Doreah rode beside her and kept saying soothing, meaningless words, her Northman rode to her left, offering empty words as well. It didn't matter. She had no future and her past, it was a lie. Perhaps this hell Viserys sold her into was all she deserved for their father's sins...
No good deed goes unpunished, especially in Westeros. I got a live Dragon egg, wanting to hatch. That was great, fucking exilarating. The possibilities, the things I could do with a live, flying armored flamethrower… The legitimacy that it would offer in certain corners… The heap of trouble that I would be until the bloody fire-breathing lizard grows up, not to mention whatever I would need to do in order to hatch it… My mind spun with ideas, all the while I was keenly aware that the Red Keep was even less safe than I believed it to be, and that wasn't much in the first place.
Hells, a Dragon would be great in order to legitimize the dynasty, at the same time it would be a touchy subject after Aerys and his madness. Let's not forget Robert and his unreasonable hatred for all things Targaryen even if their blood flowed in the Baratheons' veins as well. On the bright side, with a Dragon on my side, it wouldn't matter for my legitimacy if Mother's indiscretions came to live, I would be a proper Baratheon, obviously, which would be useful if it came to gaining allies in case of a civil war, which should be avoided at all reasonable cost in the first place. The drawbacks were obvious as well, a lot of people would want me and my Dragon very dead on general principle so every silver lining came with a lot of daggers in the night I would have to look for.
First things first, stash the egg somewhere safe-ish. Second, find Marrek for a planning session, third, figure out how to hatch the egg and get away with it. Fourth, deal with the gaggle of potential wives and their relatives who are currently besieging King's Landing. On that note, with all the women who would be trying to win me as their husband, I would find it even harder than usual to go do something constructive without a gaggle of courtiers and spies following my every step. Joy.
I took the egg from its basket to put it on my bed and at the touch a surge of familiar power ran through me. Rally, the drawbacks were irrelevant. The power of a fully grown Dragon I might have at my fingertips in the future would be neat but decidedly secondary. A stronger connection with the Force and thus a large increase of the odds I might live past being teenager? That was priceless.
Holding my palm against the egg's rough surface, I could feel the creature within. It was impatient, wanting out, yet I instinctively knew it needed something in order to properly hatch, to really live. The Dragon was fire, it was power, and while it might be magic, it wast touched by the Force as well, changed by it. It was more than a mere beast.
Fire and blood, if it was that simple, the Targaryens wouldn't have lost their last dragon more than a century ago. To hatch a Dragon you needed power, I though. Energy, magic, or perhaps life-force would do as well… I looked speculatively at the egg, which offered no answers. Yet, it's mere presence and touch strengthened my bond with the Force, making me feel complete for the first time since I awoke in this world. I raised my left hand while holding my right palm on top of the egg and concentrated on the power racing through me.
I had to force the energy through, shaping it into something useful hadn't been this hard since my first days at the Academy on Korriban, yet shape it I did. It surged through my arm, concentrated in my hand and finally, erupted, familiar purple lighting dancing between my fingers. Of course, it bloody hurt, because the power surging around and through my cracked bones did me no favors. I hissed in pain and let go of the lighting show, before looking speculatively at my bandaged arm. I drew on the Force again, and this time I directed it gently through my arm. Surprisingly, drawing on the Light Side was easier than ever, which made mending up my injuries nothing like the struggle I expected. A wave of soothing energy enveloped my arm and began doing it's job – stimulating natural healing at rates that were anything but natural.
Once I had the process well underway and was reasonably sure I won't get away from me, I let my mind drift into properly plotting what to do next. Marrek's temporarily job as the Commander of the City Watch would come in handily. He would have no trouble producing a trouble-maker no one would miss to act as a power source and potential sacrifice if that was what it took to hatch the egg. Now, finding a quiet place to do it, and figuring out how to play things when my Dragon hatched, that would be even more complicated. At any rate, stashing the egg in my room was out of the question, especially when tonight proved it less than secure in such a dramatic fashion. Perhaps one of the establishment I owed across the city? With the right guards and no questions asked the egg might be safer there. At any rate, I didn't intent to waste any more time than absolutely necessary in hatching it in the first place, so this was merely a short-term solution I needed anyway.
First things first, find Marrek for a heart to heart talk. I looked around the room speculatively. A Faceless Man got in, with the egg acting as an energy source I might be able to get out with no one the wiser. Getting back would be an issue, though after meeting Marrek, I might use some of my people as escort back to the keep. Then there were the tunnels bellow, which I knew only a fraction of and was wary of exploring because there were spiders prowling around… which reminded me, said chief Spider had to goo sooner rather than later. I glanced speculatively at the egg. Perhaps killing two birds with one stone in this regard? If it worked, great. If it didn't the drawbacks might be catastrophic. Varys was better where I could see and reach him up until I could get rid of him permanently. The last thing I needed was to have him go into hiding and act openly against me. Hell, the best outcome would be to get him alive for interrogation so I could subvert his network before removing him permanently from the board. However, to do so I would need either iron-clad evidence of treason or to be the King, something that might happen sooner rather than later depending on Robert's reaction to me hatching a Dragon…
In a less than an hour, all I could feel from my arm was dull ache. While it wasn't fully healed, the cracks had mended as if couple of weeks had passed, which was good enough for now. It was time to see if I could get out of the keep unseen, with a Dragon egg in tow...
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