IMPORTANT AUTHOR'S NOTE:

Let's talk. It's been some time since you've seen an update for this fic.

Season 8 came and went, just about pissed everyone off. House of the Dragon— I am liking it so far. Anyway…

Many of you are aware that I've been focusing all of my efforts on In Pursuit Of Magic, a fic that had started out as a plot bunny but quickly evolved to be, in my opinion, superior to all my previous works.

But I've always kept this story in mind with a plan to come back and finish it. But as I looked over the story, I noticed so many opportunities I've missed; so many points of view I could have covered. I realize that my writing style also missed certain elements that would leave the reader blindsided when the reveals came alone. There have also been strange decisions like Harry finding books in Torrhen's Square— I was a much less experienced writer, then.

Another problem is that, when I did gain experience, my new writing style clashed horribly with my old. So people would jump from a chapter written a certain way, into another chapter that feels like it's written by someone else.

The following question arises: should I rewrite this story?

To that end, there is a poll on the place where you patronize (you don't need to be a supporter to access it). I'll also hold a poll on my profile for those who prefer to vote on her. Go and vote, or review this chapter and let me know your thoughts on the matter.

As always, thank you to everyone who supported me on the website-which-must-not-be-named. Link to my Discord server and other ways of supporting me will be at the bottom of the page.

oooo
Broken Realms
oooo

Daenerys Targaryen - Valyrian Fog

High above, she watched Harry swerve, somehow avoiding the massive, broken mast lobbed at him.

This is madness! Daenerys thought as Harry righted himself and flew straight up, well above the kraken, its disgusting eyes struggling to keep up with his small form. These monsters are not the mindless beasts I thought they were, either.

The mast plunged into the water nearby, sending a tall wave of acidic water their way. The hideous creature continued to glare at him from its position between two large, Volantene shipwrecks.

"Brace! Hold the boats together!" Daenerys ordered just as Ser Barristan let out a wordless cry, bracing himself behind his shield.

The wave broke against the powerful knight's shimmering, golden dome, leaving everyone unharmed, if a little rattled by the impact. Daenerys sighed in relief and turned her attention back to Harry and his foe.

The kraken's tentacles groped and prodded the bowels of the ships it floated between, snapping off more large bits and pieces of wood to throw at Harry.

She raised her hand to summon up her power, before grimacing. She wasn't out of energy— far from it— but she doubted she could launch a stream of flame far enough to reach them.

"Your Grace." Ser Barristan said in a low tone as he lowered his shield; he looked tired. "We must save our strength."

She opened her mouth to berate the Kingsguard, biting her lip as she realized how petulant she would have sounded. Besides, even if she had been able to assist, there was no guarantee she wouldn't hit Harry by mistake.

No. There was nothing she could do to help.

Daenerys could only watch in muted horror and awe as Harry bobbed and weaved through the storm of wood and shrapnel, all without breaking off his determined attack.

Just what has he faced in the past, that such a sight barely even fazes him? Daenerys thought, swallowing as Harry closed the distance between himself and the kraken, driving his sword into its left eye.

"Dark Stream!" Harry roared over its pained groan.

The Dornishmen near her shuddered as they watched the kraken's limbs spasm for a few moments before going still.

"It's dead." She said, watching the subject of her affection and worry glide his way back to them.

If only I could fly like he can. Daenerys thought, her mind soaring over the clouds for a split second before Harry's thud brought her back down to reality.

"Well done, Lord Harry." Ser Barristan said.

Harry nodded as the scales parted from his body, converging around his right arm, once more. He looked out of breath. "...Thank you."

He sat down beside her without another word. She pulled her waterskin and held it in front of his face.

Harry's eyes laid on the offered item before they found hers. He took the water, nodding with gratitude. "Thank you."

Daenerys stifled the snort that had threatened to appear. He keeps us alive and then thanks us.

Harry truly was strange; Daenerys had learned he was from another world, but the knowledge still didn't prepare her for the man's often erratic behavior.

It was like he didn't have a single iota of guile in his body.

No. She thought as Harry sighed and leaned back onto the boat's frame. It's not that he doesn't have guile— quite the opposite, actually— it's that he rarely uses it to try to further his own ends. He simply states his intention and makes it happen.

It was refreshing to see, as someone who had dealt with people who had always wanted to manipulate her for some unknown purpose.

Ser Jorah had wanted to return to the Seven Kingdoms. Viserys had wanted to be King; a title she now knew he never would have been able to hold, let alone earn in the first place.

Mopatis, the Qartheen nobles— they, too, had their own plans and designs on her.

And, as much as it pained Daenerys to admit, even Drogo, her Sun and Stars, had initially used her, even if they fell in love in the end.

But Harry was different; when she had first met him as an adversary, she'd only seen a man full of arrogance and stupidity. What sort of fool would walk into enemy territory with nothing but a sword?

And then he defeated everyone in the throne room without looking particularly tired— followed by that… thing the Red Priests had created. She thought. The Keeper, he'd called it.

"You know, if you're going to stare at me like that..." Harry said, pulling her out of her thoughts. He gave her a crooked smile. "I'm going to start thinking you're angry with me."

Daenerys smirked, though her expression quickly softened.

"I'm not angry, Harry." She said, staring into his green eyes. "I just wish that there was more we could do— more that I could do."

Harry tilted his head, as if he had just heard the silliest thing in existence. "You've already done plenty. Without you, I would've never confirmed where Hestia was, and would have had a lot more trouble navigating these waters."

Daenerys forced herself not to grimace. Navigation and divination was not what she wanted to help him with.

I want to show him that he can rely on me in battle. She thought and opened her mouth.

Harry raised his hand, forestalling whatever she was about to say. "Besides, once we're on land, you'll be able to fight properly. For now, make sure to rest and keep your reserves up, yeah?"

Daenerys pursed her lips and nodded. If it were anyone else, she would never accept being spoken to this way.

You're lucky you're cute, Harry Potter.

By the way his eyes glittered at her, he was picking up on her ire. He thinks this is funny!?

Oh, she would make him regret that later.

"They're coming." Princess Arianne said, and just like that, Daenerys' annoyance was washed away by worry and fear.

"So soon?" Harry said, before realizing exactly what the Princess had said. "Wait: they?"

Everyone watched in shock as the waters ballooned in three different spots, from which three more krakens burst out, groaning with both menace and a hunger for flesh.

No one said a word for a long moment.

"Oh, I see." Harry broke the silence, giving everyone a rather strange smile as he shot to his feet, once more. "Yeah. Yep. Okay. Listen up, men! I'm a little tired, so I think it's time for you to row like you've never rowed before. Grab the extra oars, and get to it!"

The men shared looks of bewilderment.

"We're…"

"Running away?"

"I don't see any of you rowing!" Harry called out, glaring. "You waiting for an invitation? Let's go!"

Everyone began to scramble.

"Row like your life depends on it!" Harry ordered, his smile fading into a grimace. "Daenerys."

She stood by him without a word.

"Looks like I'll be needing your help sooner than I thought." He said, placing a hand on her shoulder.

Daenerys smiled and raised her hand, igniting it with a thought. "Together."

They shared one last look in the firelight, before Harry returned it with a nod. "Together."

"You might want to focus on the things trying to kill us, rather than your little moment there, chief."

"Fuck off, Balthazar." Harry shot back and pointed towards the Volantene wrecks between the krakens. "Here's what I want you to do..."

oooo

Lancel Lannister - Castle Black, Minutes Before The Break

Lancel stepped back from his enemy's swing, eyes narrowing as he detected the trap the man had laid for him.

A feint. This one… He's better than the others.

"You've got a good eye, crow." The wildling snarled, barely able to speak over the absolute chaos of the fighting taking place as he hefted the long, bronze axe on his shoulder. "Should make a good few meals when I'm done with you."

The Lord Commander glared, shifting his stance and checking his surroundings for any hidden foes. "You'll never get the chance."

"Big words, crow." The wildling said with a laugh, raising his long axe in a high guard. "Big words."

Lancel narrowed his eyes. He was at a clear disadvantage in terms of attack range. He gripped Longclaw harder, wracking his mind for any way of beating his foe.

With a wordless cry, the wildling stepped forward, bringing the axe straight down, meaning to chop Lancel's head in two. Lancel raised his sword just in time to block the blow, but his foe was relentless, pressing the attack and forcing Lancel to keep his sword up.

If I attack, he'll have ample opportunity to kill me in at least three different ways. Lancel thought, giving ground. But if I keep defending, he'll eventually break through! What should I do?

Judging from the man's laugh, he knew this, as well. "What's the matter, crow? Can't fight back?"

Lancel gritted his teeth, before his eyes widened in realization. He smirked. "Find me someone with skill, and I may decide to actually try. There's no glory in killing a defenseless pup."

The man glared, losing his smile, but he did not fall for the bait. "Good try, crow. I'll make you pay for that."

Damn it. Lancel thought. Jaime always made it look so easy. I guess I really was never like him.

Lancel was not as skilled as his cousin. This, he knew.

Jaime had been the— dare he say it— golden child of House Lannister: gifted with the sword, blessed with looks fit for a princeling, and dedicated to his craft. The man had been a knight at five-and-ten.

Lancel, on the other hand… What few skills he had paled in comparison to Jaime's. His cousin, Cersei, had been the only reason he'd been named as a Royal squire. Even then, squiring to a King who demeaned him at every turn was a miserable existence.

In a way, his exile to the Night's Watch was the best thing that had ever happened to him.

Even if I'm about to die. Lancel thought, spitting to the side as he prepared to engage his foe again. Better this, than to waste away serving those who despise me.

The wildling struck again, and again; before he knew it, Lancel found his back to the railing. To his right, he witnessed two of his fellow Watchmen get slaughtered like pigs by four wildlings. The murderous raiders laughed and turned their gaze to him.

"It looks like this is the end for you, crow." The wildling laughed, also seeing this.

Fear and adrenaline raced through his heart. He could feel that the end was coming.

Not without a fight. Lancel pressed the flat of Longclaw's blade against his forehead. I may not have ever become a knight, but I still believe in everything they represent!

"Warrior..." Lancel beseeched. "Give me strength. Let me be the shield to guard the realm of men."

"Are you so afraid that you've resorted to prayer?" The wildling laughed as he approached again; his axe was held high, ready to strike the Lord Commander down. The other wildlings were content to stand there and watch, jeering and laughing at the man.

"Don't worry." The wildling raised his axe. "You'll see your Gods soon, Southerner."

Lancel stared death in the face, just as he had at the Fist of the First Men, not so long ago.

And, just like then, he was embraced by a cloak of warmth, soothing his soul and giving him courage. It was an embrace he had only felt once in his life, evoking feelings of surety, inner strength and hope.

"Thank you." He murmured, before his eyes hardened. "I will be your sword in this dark time."

Longclaw gleamed with a shimmering gold as Lancel charged his foe, abandoning all forms of defense and giving himself up to the power coursing through his veins. He felt himself sidestep the downward blow and swung his sword in a horizontal arc, cleaving his foe's head clean off of his shoulders.

The enemy that had taken him all of his strength and skill to simply stave off, he now had defeated with a few steps and a swing.

Blood sprayed into the air as Lancel turned to the remaining four wildlings. His previous foe's head rolled by his feet, a small, red puddle growing at its base. The body crashed behind him with a thud, a puppet with its strings cut. "There is no need for any more bloodshed. Surrender, and you will be shown mercy."

"You should be asking us for mercy, crow." They laughed and charged up the stairs towards him with cries, hungering for his blood. "Not that we'd give it!"

They wish for blood to be spilled? Lancel thought, glaring at the evil men before him. So be it.

He crouched for an instant, feeling the power coiling in his legs before he dashed forward with the speed of a snake, parrying the clumsy sword swing of his first enemy and lopping his arm off at the shoulder with one downward stroke.

Lancel shoved the bleeding man down the steps, taking two others down with him. The remaining fourth gained a sudden, fearful look in his eyes.

"Wait, I—"

Lancel tore his throat open and passed him by, ignoring the warm blood spatter on his face and armor as he walked down the stairs at a slow, steady pace.

Covered in the blood of their dying ally, the two remaining wildlings extricated themselves from the tangle they'd gotten trapped in. The smile was long gone from their faces. Now, only fear remained.

Lancel felt no enjoyment from this, even as he continued his slow advance.

The wildling on the right turned and fled, knowing he had no chance.

"You traitor!" His friend turned to cry out; that was all the invitation Lancel needed.

Two swift steps forward, and Longclaw pierced the wildling's heart, through his furs. The man tried to swing his sword, but it wouldn't have hurt Lancel even if he hadn't stepped away.

He turned his gaze to the final assailant, but stopped as he realized that he didn't have to do anything. The last wildling was down in the dirt, two arrows sticking out of his chest. Lancel raised his gaze up to the battlements, where he spotted two of his Watchmen—Tarly and Pypar— reloading their crossbows.

"Well done, Sam, Pyp." Lancel called out to the two as his energy all but disappeared, dropping him to one knee.

I forgot about that. He thought. Whatever this power was, it always left him on the brink of exhaustion. I must not be as worthy to bear the Seven's divinity as I think I am.

It was a sobering thought.

"Lord Commander!" Sam called out in concern, the two hurrying down the steps towards him. "Are you hurt?"

"Damn it." Lancel shook his head and forced himself to his feet as reinforcements from the top of the Wall exited the winch elevator.

Now was not the time to look weak.

"Lord Commander." His fellow Watchmen greeted him with smiles on their faces. "The enemy's forces are retreating! They could not withstand our defenses."

Lancel blinked and thought he hadn't heard things right. What?

"What?" He gave voice to his thoughts. "Is it true?"

"Yes, Lord Commander." Edd, the dourest man he ever knew, said with a nod. "Think they had enough for now."

Lancel didn't answer for the longest moment, trying to piece everything together. "Very well. We must… We must reinforce the tunnel defenses as well as our own, and…"

That's when he heard it; a booming rumble— no, a monstrous roar reaching into the earth with an innumerable amount of claws, tearing it asunder with vicious glee.

"What in the Seven Hells was that?" Said one of the Watchmen, looking to the others for support. "Did you hear that?"

"Yes." Edd said, turning to Lancel.

Lancel swallowed and opened his mouth, only to stop and gape at what he was seeing. "..."

Facing the Others, battling the wildlings... neither of those came close to matching the dread seeing this made him feel.

"Lord Commander?" Edd tried again, shaking his shoulder before he turned to look at whatever had caught Lancel's attention. "...Fuck me."

"The Wall…" Another man turned and said, the fear dripping from his voice as the sound of thunderous cracks began to fill the air around them. "It's breaking!"

"Lord Commander!" Edd nearly shouted in Lancel's ear, taking his attention off of the Wall as larger and larger pieces of it continued to flake off and fall. "What do we do!?"

"The men are up there!" One said. "We need to get them down."

Lancel shook his head, gesturing towards the cracks. "No. It won't be of any use here."

As if to confirm his words, the ground beneath their feet shook harder as the elevator's rigging began to snap and break, unable to bear the stress of the shakes.

Lancel watched the destruction and narrowed his eyes, swallowing his fear. "Sam."

The man nodded, the solemn look on his face filling Lancel with pride.

"As quickly as you can." Lancel said. "Have the Maester send as many letters as he can to..."

He stopped, spying the ravens already flying out of the rookery, and smiled. "He already understands— good man. Help Maester in the writing of the letters. As soon as it is over, I want you to take Maester Aemon to Mole's Town. That goes for everyone; we are leaving Castle Black behind."

A low murmur passed in the group.

"...What are you saying, Lord Commander?" One of the men said. "We cannot abandon our posts!"

A massive chunk of ice chipped off of the Wall and fell onto the base of the elevator, crashing into it with another thunderous boom.

"There's no time to argue!" Lancel got in the man's face, pointing at the destruction. "There won't be any posts to abandon, at this rate! Have you ever experienced an earthquake before? I have!"

That shut them up.

"This is what we'll do." Lancel said and began to relay his plan. He knew it wouldn't be enough, but, at this point, it was all he could do.

The Lord Commander who lost the Wall— No! I refuse. Lancel thought as the men went into action, salvaging every single useful thing and horse they could find in preparation to flee. We'll bleed them as much as we can before help comes. It is the least I could do.

He sent a quick glance towards the now-broken tunnel, where he knew Lord Stark and many of his men had gone to help in the defense of the inner gates.

May the Seven rest your soul, Jon Stark. You were a good man. Lancel thought as he was soon handed the reins to a horse.

He shared a look with all of his men as he mounted his horse. "Let's move. We have a lot to do and not enough time to do it."

The men, grim faced, nodded.

oooo

Sandor Clegane - Other Side of the Wall

Of all the shit decisions I've made in my life. Sandor thought as he rushed to the treeline, watching the Wall continue to break apart like it was made of rotting wood. This is the worst.

"Clegane." Jon said, bringing his attention to what was in front of him— namely, the small group of wildlings waiting for them, grins wide.

"Looks like we have a few crows stranded on the wrong side of the Wall, boys!" One cried with glee. He opened his mouth to say more, but scampered back as Ghost dashed towards him, crushing his body and tearing out his throat in one move.

Stark pulled the weapon from his back, ready to fight, but Sandor placed his hand on the man's shoulder, stopping him.

"Don't ruin their clothes." Clegane said.

Jon searched his face for a moment before nodding, eyes wide with understanding. "All right."

Ghost had already killed another wildling by the time they reached the group. They were immediately beset by three men each, all wielding spears.

Twigs, more like. Clegane thought and, with a savage yell, swung his sword down at the stupid fucker to the left, breaking through the wood and tearing deep into his shoulder.

He let go of the sword and snatched the clumsily thrusted spear of the middle man. With a sharp tug and a grunt, he introduced the hapless wit to the broadside of his fist, sending him into the snow with a satisfying crunch.

The third screamed in both fright and challenge as he made a desperate attempt to skewer him. Were it any other day, Sandor would have stood there and let the stupid wildling watch his flimsy spear break against his armor— just for the hell of it.

Instead, He moved to the side, avoiding the spear, and tackled the fool to the ground. With a series of guttural cries, Sandor beat down on the wildling's head until it turned to mush under his plated fists.

He stayed there for a moment, struggling to regain his breath as he turned to the one he'd knocked down earlier. The wolf stood beside the corpse, the fur around his mouth a deep red.

Sandor let out a weary sigh. He was strong, this he knew, but even he couldn't keep fighting for much longer. He needed to rest.

"Clegane." Stark said, his voice urgent. Sandor turned his head, watching as Jon undressed his foe. "Quickly. We were lucky enough that the Wall's... destruction concealed us, but we must hurry. Ghost will alert us if anyone else is near."

Sandor stared down at his kill. He took a breath, and then another.

Then, he began to take the furs off of his foe, draping them over himself. He glanced at Jon, realizing the fool was taking his armor off.

"Keep that armor on, Stark." Clegane said. "Those plates will keep you alive."

"There's no way they won't see how we look under the furs." Jon argued, shaking his head. "And it'll help us travel faster."

"Aye; up close, they'll know." Sandor allowed. "But from a distance, they won't."

He continued as Jon absorbed his logic. "Besides, two men heading away from the army, one who has Valyrian steel and a white direwolf— they're going to find us, eventually. And they have horses."

Jon sighed and redid the strap. "Aye, you have the right of it. We'll never outrun them."

Minutes later, the two were ready to go.

"You know this land better than me, Stark." Sandor said, fiddling with his furs as he looked around. "Which way is best?"

"This is my first time North of the Wall." Jon said, shaking his head. "But I take your meaning, Clegane."

"We're…" He continued, staring up at the Wall. Already, it was missing a massive chunk and didn't seem to be slowing down in the least. "West of Mance's army. We've no choice but to keep going— all the way to the Shadow Tower, if we must."

Clegane nodded. "Let's go, then. The sooner, the better."

They had a long trek ahead of them, but they'd somehow managed to escape the Stranger's cold, bony grip.

oooo

Harry Potter - Valyrian Fog

"I can't believe that actually worked."

"I know." I said, resting by Daenerys' side. "It was a great plan."

"Harry… buddy." Balthazar said, exasperated. "It was a monumentally stupid idea."

"But, is it stupid if it works?" I said, smirking.

"He's got you there." Erebus interjected.

"...Point taken."

"Still… they could've seen us." Daenerys said, shaking her head in confusion. "There's no way it should have worked."

I nodded and spoke. "No. I understood as soon as I saw that the last kraken I fought had missed almost every throw it made. Meaning that, above the water line, their eyesight must be very poor."

"I see. How did they find us, in the first place, then?" Daenerys said, wrapping her arms around me as she considered her own question. "Is it the sound we make?"

"Exactly." I said, caressing the back of her head, not at all caring how the others were looking at us. "The plan was to make so much noise elsewhere that our escape would be silent in comparison."

I had to admit that it was galling to run away like that, but there was only so much time I could waste playing around with squids. I needed to get to Hestia, and I needed to expend as little energy as possible before getting to her.

Who knew what I'd be facing on land?

"A distraction." Princess Arianne said, for the benefit of the rest of the people there.

"Precisely." I said, nodding. "The krakens can't kill what they can't find, after all."

"Then, the best we can do now is eat and rest." Ser Barristan said. "While we have the time to do so."

"Yes." Daenerys said. "Get some rest, everyone."

And so, for the next few hours, I resumed my previous game of telling the crew that, no, there really was no fiery bat trying to kill them; nor was there a black goat trying to feed on their blood, or—

"What…" Perros said from the other boat, cutting my thoughts off as he stared off into the distance. He stood, getting a better look. "Is that… Land?"

Someone kill me, please. I rolled my eyes and shook my head; it was the fourth time in the last hour that someone had proclaimed to have found land.

"Oh, shut your mouth." Someone else shoved him back down in his seat. "I'm getting tired of hearing your voice."

"There's land, I swear!"

"If you don't do as I say, I'm going to grab you and throw you off the—"

"Just look!" Perros got in the guy's face. "Does it hurt to look?"

"Fine, fine." The man sighed and did as Perros demanded.

His eyes widened, a fact which Perros capitalized on. "You see!?"

"Seven Hells." The man rubbed his eyes and looked again, joined by us all. "You're right."

I sighed and decided to have a look. "Well, I'll be."

I had to scrunch my eyes to see it through the thick fog, but there it was— the barest hints of a sandy shore.

Land ho.

"He's right!" Princess Arianne cried in elation.

"The Gods smile upon us."

"Land!" Everyone celebrated for a moment.

"Navigators." Daenerys said, but they were already turning the boats in that direction. She smiled. "Very good."

As the seconds passed and we edged closer to the shore, I could feel the excited energy rising in the air.

"Old Valyria." Ser Barristan breathed, smiling as the wood of the boat grinded against the sandy shore. "Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought to come here."

Daenerys nodded. "Neither have I. We land on the home of my ancestors."

I smiled, drawing my wand and ending the spell on the oars. "All right, everyone. Let's go."

Joqo was the first to hop off of the boat, frowning as his boots struck the sand. "Warm."

I nodded and followed, helping tug the boats completely out of the water and onto the sand. "Makes sense, since there are volcanoes here."

"Yes. We'll sleep warm." He said in agreement and shared a smile with me.

Daenerys passed me by, walking up the empty beach in a daze. She stopped just as she crested the beach-top, staring ahead.

"Start by getting our gear set up. Food, supplies..." I said.

I shared a nod with Joqo, before turning and walking up to Daenerys. "Hey."

She didn't answer. Whatever lay ahead of her took up all of her attention. I soon saw why, I thought as I stood by her side.

The fog had completely cleared, but the sight was unwelcome.

To call the large city that lay far in the distance before us a ruin would have been an understatement. In another age, it may have been called a great city, a hub of trade and culture, but now it could only be described as desolate.

The city had been cracked like an egg, I thought as I saw some streets completely flooded over with the same acid water we had just been traversing. There were mounds of black stone rubble littered across the ruins where there was no flooding— the old structures of the Valyrian dynasty, I gathered.

Large, scattered fires burned with fierce fervor, painting the ruins in reds, yellows and oranges and sending massive tendrils of smoke billowing up into a sky already thick with black clouds. Looking closer, I could see that several parts of the city seemed to have sunken into the very earth, giving way to deep pits glowing with an ominous, dark red.

"So, this is what remains." Daenerys said, staring up at the dark sky. "A Hell of my ancestors' making."

"Maybe." I said, pointing to the only tower which looked to be still standing at the very center. "But maybe not."

"That is…?" Daenerys said, eyes widening. "Just as I saw in my vision!"

I nodded, heart racing. "Valyria's Final Bastion."

We had arrived.

And yet… This feels like the very first step.

oooo

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