Stannis VI

Fumbling with the large medieval keys I clicked my tongue in annoyance, the lack of modern conveniences I used to take for granted were nothing to scoff at in this world and the large bronze keys that weighed more than what I usually carried on my person back in the US, not to mention the hefty and clunky-as-hell iron locks that took me at least five minutes to unlock each time I tried exemplified this perfectly. And I swear, the Unsullied standing guard by the door were internally laughing their asses off at the sight of their commander cursing under his breath like a sailor and being thwarted by a lock of all things.

Finally, I managed to dig in the key deep enough and the thick iron door opened with an audible 'clack', and I swiftly made my way inside Qyburn's Lab as I affectionately called it, though the man himself referred to it as his workshop. Still, no matter what one calls it, the small manse I had purchased for the old necromancer in Lys was nothing if not a place where wonders were born, the guy had already puzzled out how to make a Chinese Repeating Crossbow from my drunken chicken-scrawl diagrams on parchment, I was not an engineering student in any sense of the word, but to my delight the man was very, very good at thinking outside the box and wasn't deterred whenever something didn't work, well usually at least.

The inside of the Manse itself wouldn't have looked out of place in Renaissance Florence, in fact the small dingy rooms it was made up of were almost universally filled to the brim with books, diagrams, tools and yes to my perpetual discomfort autopsied corpses. It was basically what I imagined Leonardo Da Vinci's workshop would've looked like (corpses and all, yes, look it up).

I strode in with all the confidence of a man who owned the place, which technically I did I suppose, but the hodge-podge collection of expelled acolytes, hedge-wizards, apothecaries and engineers we had picked up were only nominally loyal to me and very much more loyal to Qyburn, but the man would remain on my side for as long as I gave him more of my money and chemistry knowledge, so I was pretty sure the psychopath wouldn't double-cross me since I basically had an unlimited supply of both.

A few of the employees, at least those that weren't distracted doing something more important, awkwardly bowed and mumbled a greeting as I passed them by on the way to Qyburn's solar and much like Emperor Palpatine on the escalator my politeness was quickly strained by the sheer amount of people I had to greet back, so eventually I just settled for a quick mumbled 'hello' without pausing my walk to the solar.

Once I reached it I rapped on the door a couple of times, but the chainless Maester didn't answer, I knew for a fact he was inside, so I just shrugged and let myself in, as a fellow researcher I could relate to being focused on a project to the exclusion of everything else going on in one's vicinity, still didn't mean I was going to respect the old cunt's privacy though.

The sight that greeted me as I walked in was quite frankly so bizarre that I had to do a quadruple-take to make sure I saw what I thought I was seeing. Qyburn, the quite possibly necrophilic love-child of Leonardo da Vinci and Lavrenty Beria had his brows furrowed in concentration trying to solve what looked like a wooden Rubik's Cube.

It was all I could do not to laugh, so instead I calmly walked towards his desk and pulled up a chair, the sound of the wooden chair being awkwardly dragged across the marble floor finally startled the man out of his reverie. He dropped the Rubik's Cube though thankfully the fragile looking toy didn't break, but the man himself nearly flipped back in his chair in surprise, the old codger's face was a brilliant crimson for a moment, but to his credit he quickly regained his composure and said: "Apologies my lord, I was quite focused and I'm afraid you startled me."

"Not at all", I said, a genial smile plastered on my face, "I should be the one apologizing since I barged in here, but I was quite curious to see what you were working on that had you so absorbed."

"Ah yes, of course", he said with an enthusiastic smile handing me the small cube, "brilliant little thing I picked up from a merchant back when we were in Yi-Ti, I'd forgotten all about it and I'm only just now starting to figure out how to solve that blasted thing!"

My smile was razor thin, though I was pretty sure my eyes twinkled as in a few fluid motions I rapidly solved the cube that was giving him so much trouble right before his eyes, a little party trick I picked up in college, but never in my wildest dreams did I think it would come in handy here.

"How?!", he breathed more curious and awestruck than anything else.

"Start with the middle squares first, then work your way out from there and you should get it with a little more practice"; I replied breezily.

He almost took the cube back from me then and there to begin trying with my advice, but he remembered himself in time and said, "As eager as I am to take your advice to heart, I hardly think you visited me to help with this particular quandary my lord."

"That I did not", I said with a small smile, "I actually came for a progress report on how all the projects were going."

He smiled with a twinkle in his eye, "Well your hunches with the copper nails proved fruitful and we're already having the bulk of our fleet refitted with them."

I nodded at him to continue, not having our fleet constantly scraped due to barnacles would pay dividends in the future but it wasn't immediately useful.

"Sadly, our experiments in safely transporting wildfire have proved less that satisfactory, but we have managed to load it in wagons that can be rolled downhill with a fair degree of accuracy, anything more and it tends to be more dangerous to the people using it than the intended target.", I nodded with a frown that indicated my displeasure, but also the fact that I expected the outcome.

"Though everything else has thus far born fruit my lord, your 'Printing Presses' are currently being leased to the Rogare Scribe Company and are turning a healthy profit, most of the ships are now mounted with scorpions and the 'Dragon Lances' that can shoot out 'Baratheon Fire' work quite well."

I smiled and thanked him for his hard work to which he just said it was his genuine pleasure.

"There is one last thing my lord.", he said hesitantly but he could hardly contain his now bubbling excitement which was weird when seen on such a frail-looking old man, nevertheless I nodded along for him to continue.

He pulled out a small pouch from one of the drawers on his desk, and from the pouch he grasped a dark looking powder and quickly threw it in the brazier, a small 'boom' could be heard echoing throughout the room.

Both of our grins after this could charitably be described as shit-eating, I roped a large arm over the man's shoulders and said, "Qyburn, you, you are my number one guy!"

"What?!", he looked palpably nervous, probably because of my maniacal grin and the fact that I sounded less like the Joker and more like 'All work and no play make Stannis a dull boy'.

Robert I

"Robert, get up!", the harshly barked words jolted the King of the Seven Kingdoms from his blissful wine-induced slumber. He forced his exhaustion down in order to thump the head of the cunt who had the bright idea to disturb him the day after his father in all except name had suddenly kicked the bucket.

He rubbed at his eyes to help him with his endeavor, and when his eyesight returned to him, they nearly leapt out of their sockets.

"Stannis!?", he breathed more disbelieving than anything else and sure enough his dour cheerless brother stood leaning against a marble pillar before his comfortable feather bed looking mildly disapproving at him, 'as he always did', noted Robert.

He was clad in a very tight dark doublet with a rearing silver stag as the clasp that held it together and managed to accentuate his lithe physique, grey cotton breeches and tall dark leather boots complemented his utilitarian look. His short hair was slicked back in a way that looked unnatural to Robert and he had an almost elegant close-cropped beard, the thing that stood out the most about him however were his dark blue lips, Robert was suddenly very on guard.

The apparition that Robert was now not entirely convinced was his younger brother nodded curtly and said, "In the flesh."

"How are you here?", Robert asked cautiously rising from his bed.

"I'm not", Not-Stannis said with a small smile that would've been completely uncharacteristic of his younger brother.

"I must be going as mad as Aerys", he muttered to himself, though the apparition had clearly heard him.

"If it's any consolation-", he began, "you're not quite that bad, nevertheless I wouldn't say you're doing well."

"Clearly", Robert said drily, "Otherwise I wouldn't be speaking with a ghost from my past."

The figure laughed a small laugh and Robert was now convinced it wasn't his younger brother as he fumbled for a chair or another blunt object, he could use to bash the figure's head in.

"Why are you here?", he asked to stall for time.

"To deliver a warning.", Not-Stannis said with a shrug.

"A warning", Robert repeated incredulously, "What would my brother want to warn be about, hells, why would he want to warn me about anything?"

"About the fact that everything shall fall apart if the Quiet Wolf should be summoned to King's Landing, as for the why, well let's call it a sense of duty I've inherited from a better man than me.", the last words were spoken grudgingly as if the figure had a hard time believing what he'd said.

By the time Robert had found a silver fruit plate that would be suitable for his purposes, Not-Stannis had completely vanished from where he was standing just a few moments before.

"As mad as Aerys", Robert repeated as he shook his head a few times and drank as much wine as he could straight from the pitcher, before lying on his bead and falling asleep again, thoughts of madness, little-brothers, Ned and cryptic warnings consigned to oblivion, being replaced by those of Jon Arryn, Lyanna and the rapist's death.

Salladhor I

Salladhor Saan, renowned Lyseni Pirate plopped down on his lavishly furnished captain's chair with an audible sigh. He usually relished the rare moments he had to himself in his cabin, since they usually involved a few whores or the counting of loot, but right now the lavishly dressed man had much to consider, to ruminate on and to plan for and no matter the outcome of his decisions it was unlikely that they boded well for his future.

This was all due to one simple overheard rumor that had made its way to the Stepstones a moon ago, a rumor who's veracity was questionable at best to the other pirates that prowled the waters, but a rumor which Salla had confirmed to be quite true due to his friendship with one of the people involved, the thing that was causing him and indeed most of his colleagues undo stress could be summed up in a simple sentence, 'Stannis' fleet makes for the Stepstones'.

A lot of pirates and slavers had already abandoned these waters in favor of a more 'accommodating' pastures in the form of the Basilisk Isles. Salladhor snorted in contempt at the thought of these idiots, the prince had after all decimated the previous unlawful occupants of those islands and utterly destroyed whatever infrastructure was in place for them and even if he hadn't, the thought of the diseases one could get over there sent literal shivers up his spine. Davos had recounted that a lot of the Unsullied Stannis had brought to the Isles had fallen prey to diseases that could quite possibly be considered as the most painful ways to die in existence, something Salla categorically wished to avoid.

'All that trouble for slim pickings, madness, pure madness.', thought Salla with an audible chuckle as he lazily rolled a gold dragon along his knuckles a habit which annoyed others when he gambled with them, but it helped him concentrate.

Still, that got him no closer to the answer to the ultimate question, 'What the fuck should I do?', the answer to that hinged entirely upon a completely different question, namely why Stannis and by extension 'The Forebears' suddenly decided to drop everything in the Disputed Lands, where one had to admit they were doing quite well for themselves, and drop everything for a comparatively unprofitable campaign in the Stepstones.

"Could a Free City be paying them?', Salla thought and while the stray thought had merit it was quite unlikely seeing as all the cities aggressive enough for such an action profited from the slave trade, the only candidate for such an adventurous investment would be Braavos, they certainly had the gold to burn, but then again pirates here knew better than to raid braavosi Cogs and if they had wanted to clear the Stepstones they would've hired the Golden Company to do it a long time ago.

Salla also knew for a fact it wasn't Stannis' dislike for the slave trade that was to blame, he had after all spoken at length about it with the man during his brief sojourn in the Jade Sea and he had said that while he absolutely detested it, he knew there was very little he could actually do about it so he wouldn't even bother. He also knew that Stannis disliked pirates, but unlike his colleagues he knew that wasn't the reason he attacked the Basilisk Isles, the reason was Euron Greyjoy because of something the man did that Salla hadn't managed to wring out of the Baratheon, but everything else was just collateral in a way.

All of these thoughts left him with more unanswered question than he had before, he continued to roll the coin across his knuckles and even occasionally palmed it in a way that to an outside observer would make it seem like it disappeared when a stray unbidden thought made its way through his head until it reached his mouth.

"Stannis seeks revenge against his brother.", Salla had to laugh out loud, not because of the absurdity of the thought, no, the enmity between the two Baratheons was legendary and most everyone who knew Stannis personally had to if albeit grudgingly admit that he'd make a better king than his brother. He laughed because no one else but him had figured it out yet.

'Some of my sources in the secret city had apparently witnessed Stannis visiting the House of Black and White when he was younger, according to gossip Robert's heirs are arrogant weaklings that hide behind their mother's skirts, the Iron Islands and Dorne simmer in anger, the Stepstones are the perfect place to mount an invasion of the Stormlands and Kings tend to be very generous to those who help them get their crowns', these thoughts rapidly coalesced and formed into a picture, a very pretty picture if Salla was being honest with himself.

All he'd need provide was a few men and ships and he'd likely be very well rewarded for his efforts. A loud boisterous chuckle escaped his lips at the thought as he had the Cabin boy summon a red-headed whore from the only brothel in Salt Town to attend to him.

He took a large sip of one of his finer Dornish Reds and thought, 'Having working balls as well as brains sure does pay off in my line of work'.


Hey guys hope you enjoyed this chapter, as you can see things are heating up now, what with Jon Arryn finally having kicked the bucket, SI!tannis having introduced Gunpowder to Planetos and deciding to use the Stepstones as a base of operations to take the Iron Throne. I decided to forgo the confrontation between 'The Forebears' and the Dothraki because I tried writing it a few times and honestly they're so unrealistic they'd just get shafted by superior infantry, archers, fortifications and artillery instantly, not to mention the only credible threat to Stannis would've been Khal Drogo and I wanted to leave his reputation intact for Canon. Some of you are probably wondering why Stannis decided to warn Robert and truth be told it was because I didn't want to have the character seem like to much of an asshole, he doesn't particularly want any of the characters who are generally good people to suffer if he can help it and he did grow closer to his brother in his childhood. Anyways, see you guys next time, same bat-time, same bat-channel and as always please drop a review if you're feeling generous.

Some of your concerns addressed in the order I found them in:

No, Stannis will not go to Valyria

He does want Daenerys to hatch Dragons, he has Euron's Horn and his magic will get a lot stronger once they do hatch.

The first one didn't kill him, but more assassins will be sent after him, in the meantime Bloodraven is training Stannis because he convinced him that he's essentially numbered, and that the Mannis is the best chance at stopping the Long Night.

Ned Stark did bring his army, but he didn't have to break a siege, I'll probably write a flashback where all the northerners had to do was feed the occupants of Storm's End and help bury the bodies of the Tyrell host, whilst being terrified of Stannis.

I took the Star Wars story down.

He has Gunpowder now; the Mannis don't need no Dragon.