authorsnote: new year, new chapter
2023 will be the year I update more often (for all my stories - or at least try to)
I hope you enjoy this little new years day gift
songrecs: Reign of the Targaryens - HOD Season 1
'The Iron Throne will go to the man who has the strength to seize it'
- Words of Maegor the Cruel of House Targaryen
They smelled Kings Landing before they saw it.
Miles away, and yet as a harsh scent filled the air, and they emerged from a dip in the Riverland valley did they finally lay eyes on the vaunted Capitol of Westeros.
Jon only wrinkled his nose.
He couldn't see into the city, not yet, and so could only see the outside, the rolling green hills and grass, the dusty broken road, the large numbers even before their procession coming in and out, it was busy, it was loud, and it was the last place Jon wanted to be.
High walls surrounded the city, each with a gate attached, the Red Keep spiralled into the air, marking the spot far more effectively than anything else. And yet, he had seen the Wall, he was not so impressed by something because it was simply tall.
He felt a tug then, in his stomach, for the Wall, for the snow, for Winterfell, for home.
You don't belong here; that was all that rung in his head, over and over, this wasn't where he was supposed to be, he felt like a fish out of water, the heat was oppressive, and yet he felt naked without his cloak, the air was dusty, the stench harsh. He wished for the clean, cold North, the crisp in the air, the smell of pine, the cold that barely touched him anymore, but felt better than this heat.
In truth, even Winterfell had seemed warm to him when he returned, compared to the Wall, or the chill of Beyond it, here? Here it felt like the sun was only metres away, he was not used to it.
He wanted to go home, and yet as the column marched on so did he, he had a duty to do here, protect Robb, learn the Southern secrets, train and learn, and then head out into the wider world, to do more of the same.
He wasn't ready yet, to take on the Others, to protect the North; but he had years until the Others even made themselves known, years to learn, to grow, to build his skills and to prepare the North. Of course, that didn't mean he would be idle, but he wasn't fool enough to march on the Lands of Always Winter.
Not yet, not until he was ready.
And there was much preparation to do.
It still didn't feel like enough time, and so he'd need to make use of it.
"What do you think of it?" Robb asked as they came to a pause, adjusting the ridiculous wheelhouse as they turned towards the main city gate, here it was.
"I think we are a long way from home" Jon replied, and his brother in all but blood nodded; they were indeed.
Nothing more could be said, but they shared a look, their Father … Lord Stark, had warned them there were too many eyes and ears in the Capitol, and so he knew from here Robb and him would need to communicate through looks, or perhaps only when deep in the woods when hunting with the direwolves.
He already hated the politics of it all, scheming and lying. He understood it was necessary sometimes, but he still hated it, and he hadn't even entered the damn city yet!
As they'd progressed through the Riverlands Jon had sent a raven to Lord Stark, urging him to recall them early, so they could spend as little time as needed in the godforsaken capitol. He had also completed several quests, not as many as he had liked, exhausted each night from the constant travel, but in the additional two weeks it had taken them to arrive at Kings Landing he had completed a further six.
Practice your skills with Hand to Hand Combat
Reward: +10 Hand to Hand Combat, +50XP.
Stay in Tip Top Shape
Spa with Robb three days in a row.
An Unfamiliar Grip
Fight three Northern men with a different weapon each time.
Reward: +5 Sword, Unlock: Daggers, +10, +5 Bastardsword
A Full Belly
Hunt down dinner
Reward: +5 Bow and Arrow, +50XP.
Preparation, preparation, preparation
Practice your High Valyrian 5 days in a row
Reward: +5 High Valyrian Talking, +5 High Valyrian Reading, +50XP.
Study your map of the South
+10 Map of the South, +100XP
Ever closer, and yet no more major quests had made themselves known on the journey to Kings Landing, he had a few to complete in the city, but he had hoped for more, still he was sure, as they continued on, closer and closer, many would arise in the city itself.
He took a deep breath (though not too deep) as he followed the column, and as they reached the walls, he shared a look with Robb; neither of them belonged here, and yet for the next few months it was their home.
"Watch my back?" Robb quipped as they ascended on the city, though his gaze was dead serious, through looks indeed
"As long as you watch mine" He japed, though he too was not joking. They shared a nod then and clicked their horses forward, Ghost and Grey Wind now the size of large dogs, trotting alongside them, into the belly of the beast.
Jon wasn't sure how, but it was worse once inside.
Though they were hurried in an orderly formation towards the Red Keep, Jon caught a glimpse of the shanty districts on the outskirts, saw beggars muddy and dirty in the streets, hungry and starved. Many called out for food, for love, though the Northerners were given a wide berth, which suited him just fine.
It was odd, the North had its problems with poverty of course, especially when winter would come, but it was different here, more desperate somehow. In the North a person had a community they could turn to, here it was every man for himself, there was no sense of sacrifice from the nobles.
He distinctly remembered when he was younger, Sansa and Lady Stark sewing blankets for the poor, he and Robb shovelling snow out of Winter Town and Coldstream, Theon going out into the woods twice a week to shoot deer at Lord Starks instruction to give to the poor. There was a sense of helping one another, and yet there was none of that here.
The shimmer of writing in front of him pulled him away from his observations, just as the turned a corner and the crowds swelled, pressing in on either side, held back by a column of gold cloaks, as they all marched forward, into the keep.
The banners of Baratheon, Lannister and then Stark flew high, and though the Northerners received no cheers there was much interest, which Jon tried to ignore. He had no interest in Southern adoration, not that he was likely to get any as a bastard.
You have entered a significant place that will have differing effects if you designate it your base.
Whenever you enter a significant place now you will be alerted to any 'passive' effects, if designated your base, these will be highlighted separately.
In Kings Landing as a passive effect, you will only receive informational updates about significant people, no need to get lots of information about irrelevant people!
Cryptic as always, and he rankled at the way the book spoke of the common people; so only Lords and Ladies were significant? In another life Jon would have been a commoner, was only a step or two away in a lot of people's eyes, there was more important things than title and riches.
Champion of the People
You have unlocked a further Perk to Man of the People!
You don't just understand the importance of treating everyone equally, but do so yourself, unfailingly. Again this will be popular with the commonfolk who will treat you with love, but the high born won't like it!
+1 CHA, Higher relationship with all commonfolk, lowered relationship with all nobleborn.
He near rolled his eyes at that; Champion for simply thinking that everyone deserved to be equal? He was happy for the perk of course, but just as the initial description had, it still rankled him.
Once more he panged for the Wall, where everyone was more equal, once you became a brother everything else was washed away, it was simpler there, easier.
And yet, he didn't belong there, no matter how he felt he did, not yet anyway.
Soon enough they were being led into the Red Keep and he had more to be thinking about, as horses were led away, the courtyard was full. The royal family quickly disappeared inside, and servants came out to lead the Northmen to their rooms, as guests they would be given good lodgings, though Jon didn't intend to spend much time in his quarters.
There was exploring to do after all.
Just minutes later, he and Robb had a room next to one another in the guest wing of the Keep, surrounded by other Northmen, a guard schedule was soon established among the men (sure, they may be guests in a Keep with guards, but none trusted the Southerners, they would guard themselves), and they were all left be to settle in. It was only mid-afternoon, they had a few hours before the feast welcoming everyone, returning and new.
But Jon did not plan to sit idle until then.
Though first he would need to spend a little time in his quarters, to orient himself. He smiled as Ghost had already made himself at home near the balcony, it was hot for the direwolfs, and so they seemed sleepier than usual. Jon would have to make sure he and Robb took them out hunting at least twice a week, to keep them sharp and entertained, that would also be a good place to talk, though he didn't trust anywhere in this damn city.
And so, as Ghost settled, Jon took in his new room.
It was comfortable, a bit opulent for his tastes, though he imagined it was plain in comparison to the permanent stayed guests. Still, it was large, a large bedroom, including a balcony with a table and chairs, a desk and chair, an attached privy too. There was a large bookshelf in the corner, and a large cabinet for weapons, a wardrobe too. The bed was a good size with fine sheets and pillows, one of many which he picked up and threw gently next to Ghost, who happily stood and resettled on it. Everything was in yellow and black colouring, Baratheon colours, apparently the Lannister's hadn't invaded the guest wing … yet.
YOUR CURRENTLY BASE: KINGS LANDING.
This gives you the following bonuses (remember, bonuses change wherever you are living in the world, you will only receive these bonuses as long as you remain where you are. Similar places have similar bonuses, but foreign places will have extremely different bonuses).
Place to store items (Guest bedroom).
Bed to sleep in – due to the quality of the bed, each night you sleep in it will fully restore your health (though will not cure poisoning, or heal injuries, for this you must see a Maester or as a follower of the Old Gods go to a Weirwood tree).
Ability to look into the history of the Andals, Targaryens and people of the South, and the ability to gain further attributes/skills related to: The South, the Andals, the Targaryens.
Ability to view the dragonskulls and any secrets they may keep.
Ability to see and traverse the tunnels of the Red Keep, can you discover them all and Maegors secrets along the way?
Closer relationships with the Southerners (just).
Access to merchants, seamstresses and dressmakers (for a price).
Access to the sea (Blackwater Bay).
Interesting, a lot of the bonuses were similar to Winterfell and the North, but there were additional perks it seemed, though he wasn't sure why he'd need dressmakers, or access to the sea, it was good to know.
He had much to learn about Kings Landing after all.
He was interested in the dragonskulls and tunnels – secrets to be learned, he itched to make a move, and yet forced himself to be patient, they had plenty of time in this godforsaken place after all.
He unpacked quickly, knowing dithering would do no good. His clothes (several tunics, his armour, breeches, smallclothes) all went in the wardrobe, including his spare cloak and pair of boots. His weapons remained strapped at his side, he had no intention of being without his sword or a good dagger at any point. One or two books he'd brought with him went on the bookshelf (which was empty), and then he was unpacked.
They had travelled light, perhaps they would need to visit the market, he thought wryly.
But first, he had more important things to do. He had enough clothes of good quality to last a week or so, and he needn't replace his amour, jerkin or any of his leather goods, he would just need tunics, shirts and breeches, his boots were in good condition, and he carried good castle forged steel, a dagger at his hip too. Incidentals could wait.
First, he wanted to see his new home, though the very idea of Kings Landing being home made him scowl.
Still, much to explore, and so he dipped out of his room.
"Robb?" He asked the guards at his cousin's door, and they both smiled.
"Sleeping" Jon nodded at that, he was half tempted himself, and yet felt a wiry kind of energy he needed to walk off. After all, he didn't want to be here but he could acknowledge how much the Capitol would likely offer him with quests and learning, he wasn't prejudiced enough to turn those down.
As he made his way down the corridor he thought fleetingly of his quest to see the Princess, and felt heat rise to his cheeks, he ignored that, and the niggle of the quest, he had plenty of time to complete that, tomorrow perhaps, for now he needed to get his bearings.
And so, he left the safety of the guest wing, and went into the belly of the beast.
It wasn't long until he came across something, though not what he was expecting.
His intention had been to explore the Red Keep, see the Throne Room, the grounds, try to trigger a quest or two, maybe even start exploring to look for any hidden Heart Trees, he knew planning was important, and yet he had no idea of the map of the Red Keep, and so felt rambling was a good place to begin.
It then dawned on him as he made his way out of the guest wing, that tracking down a map might be the first step towards having a plan.
He knew Winterfell like the back of his hand, which had helped him time and time again, he knew, distasteful as it was, that he needed to do the same with any place he was in, Kings Landing included, he needed to know them like the back of his hand.
Only then could he discover their secrets.
And so, he turned to make his way down the main corridor to make his way to the library, intent on digging out an up-to-date map, when instead he found himself turning onto a more isolated corridor, another guest wing by the looks, but this one empty.
Jon knew the Red Keep was massive, dwarfing Winterfell easily, and yet as he looked at the guest wing, empty but clean, he realised just how massive, it would take a while to even scratch the surface of the place, better get started.
A sigh left his lips as he made his way down the empty corridor, and with that thought he opened his book, privacy would be difficult outside his room here, and so he'd need to take it when he could get it.
He flipped through the book, could see the existing quests, but went to the Maps section.
The map of Westeros was split over several pages, one for each region, and though some, like Dorne only had the names of Cities and Towns he knew, others like Winterfell were incredibly detailed, the map filling in what he had witnessed and seen, what he had experienced and where he had visited, and apparently from his old life too, as Castle Black on the next page over was detailed, with some Beyond the Wall information too.
Further, the map of the Riverlands was more developed, but only along the places they had visited, or the Towns and Cities he had known prior. The stretch they had travelled too was as rich as the map of the North, but the rest was blank.
There was some detail in the Crownlands, but the same as the Riverlands, mostly empty bar names here and there. The maps of the rest of Westeros were near blank bar some named settlements, and he didn't flip through to the maps across the East, they would likely be the same and he needed to prioritise his time.
What he wanted was a way to mark down the Red Keep map, perhaps tuck it in? He hadn't tried to write on the book yet and he didn't want to deface it, so perhaps he needed to tuck some extra parchment in it to keep a track of things. He had left the sigils and list of goals at Winterfell, not wanting to be caught with stuff like that on the road, but maybe he needed his own tucked away spot in Kings Landing … not that there was anywhere he'd trust to hide any secrets.
But, as usual the book came through.
As he went to close it, the words appeared infront of him and he smiled.
You have unlocked detailed Maps!
Key areas usually have a grand Keep, such as the Red Keep or Casterly Rock itself, here you can map out those Keeps as you have the world.
But be warned, many hold secrets you might not want to uncover!
To access the Keeps just click on the image of the Keep on the normal map, when you're done close the book and the maps will reset.
And so, he did so.
As expected, the Keep in Winterfell had detailed corridors, named rooms, he could see his own on there! It was easy to zoom in and out by tapping on the pages, giving him a great idea of the layout of the Keep, and though of course he knew Winterfells Keep, he didn't the Red Keep.
He turned to the page of the Crownlands, went to Kings Landing and then the Red Keep, he could see it only currently held the rooms of their guest wing, the wing he was in now; 'guest wing two', and the Throne Room, everything else was a mystery.
A mystery he'd be exploring.
Budding Cartographer! (Perk!)
You are well on your way to learning mapping and directing – keep at it to explore the world!
+10 Tracking, Unlock Skill 'Cartography' +20.
Good, it would be useful to craft his own maps, and he resolved upon returning to his room to dig out some parchment, useful as the book was at highlighting most things for him, he still felt it would be useful to have a piece of parchment tucked inside he could add to and annotate.
But first, it was time to explore.
He spent an hour rambling around the West section of the Keep (where guests were housed), and though the Map in the book (which he kept in hand) filled in details as he went along, and yet it didn't feel like he had discovered much of anything.
First, he cleared the second guest wing, which other than bedrooms, a privy and a small empty study held little to pick through. Then he doubled back to the guest wing they were staying in, walked the corridor and again found nothing but their rooms (more of them, the first guest wing was larger), privies, and a study and armoury, both of the latter mostly empty.
He had stopped to speak to Robb who had emerged looking better rested, though still tired, the road had been hard on them both.
And they both dearly missed home.
Perhaps it would be easier when they went on their tour, the feeling of homesickness would still linger, but when they were somewhere they actually wanted to be it might lessen. After all, they had no desire to be in the dreaded Capitol, and so the longing for home felt worse.
"Off somewhere?" Robb asked with a smile.
"Training yard" He slipped in easily, being a better liar was an advantage to him now, not that he liked it.
'We all like what we're good at'
An echo of the words chased over his head before fading, forgotten within minutes.
"I wish I could join you" Robb said with a groan, "Though you leave me black and blue nowadays, I swear you've been training more!"
"What can I say?" Jon said with a smile, better that be the explanation for his improved fighting prowess, "I have more time on my hands"
"Sure" Robb said with a snort, as though not believing him, which was true, Lord Stark had insisted Jon attend every lesson Robb did, even at Lady Stark's fury he hadn't wilted.
"How come you can't join me?" Jon asked as they fell into step beside one another, heading into the main area of the Keep, no guards followed them, though they each kept a sword strapped at their hip, they would be fools not to.
"I've been summoned to meet the King properly" Robb said with a roll of his eyes, "The joy"
"Aye, I don't envy you" Jon said with a smirk and laughed as Robb gave him a good-natured shove.
Once they reached the end of the corridor, one to the main apartments of the Keep, the other two ways led elsewhere, and that was where Jon preferred, he'd have to of course explore the main areas of the Keep but he preferred the quieter less travelled paths, giving him more time to note everything down.
His fighting prowess and lying skills may have been better than when he was a greenboy, but his penchant for brooding remained.
"I'll see you at supper?" Robb asked, and Jon confirmed with a nod before they parted ways.
And as Robb turned to the main area of the Keep, to meet with royals, sit down with the King, see the court who would watch a Northman wide eyed, Jon turned away, picking the left-most corridor, into the shadows, where a bastard belonged.
Though of course, he was no bastard, but the world thought he was. Which mattered more?
Resentment stirred in him, not harshly but it was present. He understood why his Uncle, Lord Stark had kept the secret, why he had protected him so, but it was a bitter tonic to swallow, knowing he might not have had to carry the stain of being a bastard, knowing his parents had actually loved one another.
His mind flashed back to the image he'd seen of his Father on the Trident, chest sunken in, rubies flown from him, blood dripping across his silver hair, his mouthed final word…
They had loved each other, Jon had been the product of that, and yet everyone thought differently.
It filled him with anger then, rising to his chest as he hurried down the bare left corridor, passing servants quarters, the kitchens, and more, each ignored, anger that the world believed the tale so many had parroted, that his Father had raped his Mother, that she had been a captive, his Father a monster, when none of it had been true.
For the first time in weeks his mind was as far from the book as it could be, lingering on family, and yet it still made itself known.
The Truth of it All
Reveal the true story of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark to the world.
LOCKED until the Quest: 'Claiming Your Right' is completed.
Interesting, though this one was easy to guess.
He would only be able to reveal the truth about Rhaegar and Lyanna, have it believed and disseminated to everyone if he was King. He didn't need to flick open the book to read the quest that was burned onto his brain.
Claiming your right (ACTIVE)
Claim your ancestor's throne, the Iron Throne for yourself.
Reward: +5000XP, +5 CHA, +5 INT, +5 LUC, Special Status fully unlocked, the crown of Aegon Targaryen will be yours.
Failure: -10 LUC, You will be branded a bastard forever and your claim on the Throne will be lost.
He didn't want to be King, and yet he hadn't wanted to be Lord Commander and had thrived under it, he'd died and yet he knew he'd been right in what he'd been trying to do, had played at the politics and diplomacy and though he had been unpractised and rough around the edges he had taken to it.
Could he take to being King?
Did he want to?
But then … what if it wasn't about want? He thought of the Long Night, of the Others waiting for now but ready to march in just a handful of years, wouldn't Westeros need a united King?
Should it be him?
He only managed to drag his mind away from the endless quarrel of what he should do vs what he wanted to do, what was right vs what was right for him. He was often ruled by duty, and yet the thought of the Iron Throne, of being King, it stirred something in him true, but was accompanied by an uneasiness that it wasn't his to take.
Only then did he finally snap out of his brooding, to find himself at the end of a very long corridor that then curved into somewhere poorly lit.
He quickly pulled out his book, and noted he'd taken the left down the servants' corridors, which was now mapped out, kitchens, rooms, laundry, areas for furniture, one long winding corridor was mapped out, with offshoots sketched in but not detailed. He was at the end, having brooded all the way down, and had now moved beyond the initial rooms, into darkness.
Thankfully he was used to the darkness, but he noted a torch on the wall and pulled it from the bracket, as the torches had only been lit so far as his place, and then the rest of the corridor was in darkness.
He didn't hesitate to walk down it, torch in hand, book tucked at his chest, sword at his hip.
Into the darkness.
For the first few minutes there was nothing, nothing at all.
It was quiet, but that didn't scare Jon, he was used to long stretches of watching on the Wall, where your lips were too cold to talk to your shift-mate, and so you stood in silence, the only sounds of shuffling feet and the crackle of the fire.
Here he could hear his own steps, the gentle pop or two of his torch light crackling and nothing else.
And yet, he was not afraid.
He walked for a while, clearly this area of the Castle was disused as it just seemed to be a corridor that went on forever. He walked and walked, the walls bare, torch brackets not filled, but continued, he glanced at the book once or twice, and only paused as he reached 'the end' of the corridor, it curved right into the wall, and stopped.
He did stop, for surely it wasn't just a dead-end? Why would anyone build a long corridor for it to end in nothing?
With a sigh he spent a few minutes checking the book, and yet it showed nothing, just the curve of the corridor.
Biting down on his lip in agitation he spent a few minutes debating heading back, before he placed the torch in one of the wall brackets, freeing up his hands, prepared to check each section of the wall, perhaps for a hidden door? Winterfell had a couple, surely the Red Keep had more.
He tapped and knocked on the furthest wall and nothing, just solid stone, and yet as he turned to the curved wall that disappeared into itself, three knocks, then four, and then the fifth revealed a hidden secret.
Jon quickly picked up the torch again, and held it to the hollow bit of wall, and there it was, easy to spot under the light.
A hidden door.
He expected to have to push and shove at it, to have to use all of his strength to force it open, and yet, though it did take a good shove or two it opened far easier than a door so disused in this barren corridor should.
Why was it here?
Why wasn't it in use?
Clearly someone had used it, but it was hidden down this corridor, unlit, clearly it wasn't a well-known passageway, and as he shoved it forward and passed the torch forward, he could see it led to another corridor, with dust, and cobwebs, the scurry of a rat or two, he went to step forward himself.
The writing of the book interrupted him.
You have discovered a hidden section of the Red Keep – Maegor the Cruels Tunnels!
Your ancestor Maegor mapped hidden tunnels throughout the Red Keep to use, and then slew the builders so they could never reveal the secret passageways! Some know of them now, some more than others, and now you can discover them too!
Step into Maegors Tunnel System.
Reward: Unlock the new Map Page 'Maegors Tunnels' where like other maps you can track and discover and explore the tunnels. +10 Stealth, +5 Tracking, +200XP.
Failure: The secrets of your ancestors Tunnels are lost to you.
Well, that seemed easy enough and more of a reward for his discovery rather than a quest.
Still, he took the step forward.
Step into Maegors Tunnel System.
Reward: Unlock the new Map Page 'Maegors Tunnels' where like other maps you can track and discover and explore the tunnels. +10 Stealth, +5 Tracking, +200XP.
Stealth: +10 = 35, Tracking: +5 = 25, XP: 2000/2500XP.
No sooner had he read the update to his stats did another pop up.
Map all of Maegors Tunnel systems and use them to your advantage!
Reward: +20 Cartography, +2 PER, +300XP.
Failure: -10 Cartography, -1 INT, Hidden secrets remain hidden.
This is an active quest; active quests are ongoing and do not have to be selected, thus they are hard to fail. Failure will only be determined if the quest becomes impossible to achieve.
Though he hungered to take a step forward and just charge into the secrets he knew lay in those tunnels, he exercised some degree of caution.
But only some, as half on the hour later he was back with a fresh torch in hand, a bag with some food, two bottles of water (for he could get lost), his book tucked at his chest, and Ghost at his feet, his direwolf a far better tracker than he. His sword remained at his hip, and his cloak continued to brush the ground.
And for the first time since arriving at Kings Landing he allowed himself a proper smile, to be uncovering the secrets of his ancestors didn't just feel useful, it felt right, and so he stepped into the darkness, Ghost happily at his side.
It was time to explore the products of his heritage, and maybe learn a Targaryen secret or two along the way.
And he did so with a smile.
I enjoyed writing this ... kings landing has some interesting secrets, and we will explore more of it next chapter!
I enjoy writing kings landing through jons eyes
again, I hope you are enjoying this story, I have every intention of finishing it, and have the plot fully mapped out, I will endeavour to update more in 2023, but rushing me won't help.
I hope you all had an awesome 2022 filled with great fanfiction, and I hope 2023 has you reading and enjoying fanfic even more!