A.N: Jon will consider himself as Daeron from this chapter forward, but some people will still be getting used to the change, so he'll be called or thought of as both for now at least.
King's Landing 298 AC.
It had taken him far longer than he'd ever imagined it would, to be restored to his rightful place. Almost twenty years of plots, plans, moves, and counter-moves had all now finally been realized. So when he had arrived at the city, he'd entered it like a conquering hero. Atop his white stallion, wearing his best clothing, Tywin knew he had cut an imposing figure. He knew too that there was no one in any doubt why he was here and what role he was to take.
After a brief greeting with the king and with Cersei, Tywin immediately went about his work. He ordered the rooms in the Tower of the Hand to be redecorated immediately so there was no trace of Falcons or Wolves and it was once again a place where Lions made their den. Then he called for the books to be brought to him so he could see just how perilous the Crown's financial state was. While he'd left instructions in Casterly Rock that all messages and missives were now to be sent to him in King's Landing.
With how well set up his information gathering and spy network was, there wasn't even a small gap between how quickly the missives had arrived on his desk in Casterly Rock to how they now did so in King's Landing. Not that Tywin would have ever stood for such a thing. Within two days of arriving, the Tower of the Hand was finally redone far more to his liking, his flow of missives arrived interrupted, and Tywin had finished going over the books. On the latter, he liked not what he saw and if his sums were right, which they always were, then the crown owed close to six million gold dragons. Only three of them to him. It could not stand for much longer and he'd not been aware the rot had sunk in so deeply.
"We needs must find more coin," Tywin said, his voice going unheard by anyone but himself.
His own coin and gold reserves could barely cover that amount and certainly not in one payment. Though as Tywin looked through the list of creditors, House Lannister was far and away the Crown's largest one. In truth, other than the Iron Bank, the rest of the debts could be somewhat forgotten about. Or at least they had been up to now. Tywin himself would never allow a debt to go unpaid, for no Lannister could. Looking down through the list of who they could afford to pay and who would need to wait on their due for some while longer, Tywin found two names that stood above any and one that could prove most useful.
The Iron Bank, Tywin knew, would be happy with interest payments and some reduction of the debt. While the Faith too would accept some coin paid back each year. As for the Tyrells, though it irked him to even consider giving them what they most desired, the simple truth was that it in one stroke fixed much of their problems. It reinforced Joffrey's position too and other than Margaery Tyrell, there truly wasn't any other bride that was suitable and none that brought as much to the table. Hesitating over when and how to make the offer, Tywin heard the commotion at his door and looked up from his desk as Pycelle almost burst into his room.
"Forgive me, Lord Hand. A raven from the Citadel, a most important one." Pycelle said, for once not acting the mummer and instead being his true self while holding out a shaky hand that contained a raven's scroll.
Annoyed and irritated as he was by the interruption, Tywin was curious too and so he took the raven and began to read it. His green eyes widened as the words and their meaning became clear to him. 'A dragon, a dragon had hatched and a babe had been born.' For a few brief moments, the second of those things became lesser in Tywin's mind as he concentrated far more keenly on the first of them.
They were dead.
They were long since dead.
Was this a lie, a falsehood, a mummer of sorts?
In the end, it mattered not and it wasn't the hatching of a dragon that truly mattered anyway, it was who that dragon had hatched for. Tywin sat at his desk, his mind making the leaps that it needed to as things that had never truly added up, now finally did so. Jon Snow was not Ned Stark's bastard son. Though he was still a bastard son of a Stark. Arthur Dayne was not the boy's uncle and guardian, even if he was and had always been a guardian of sorts. The dragons weren't dead or exiled, they were here and unless they were put down once and for all, then everything that Tywin had worked for would be for naught.
"Find my brother." Tywin called out to one of his guards "You sit." he ordered Pycelle.
"At once, Lord Hand."
"Ravens, to Casterly Rock and the Houses of the West, they are fed and ready to fly?"
"Then be prepared to send them and many more. For the words contained here can lead but to one thing."
"War, Pycelle, these words mean war."
Dismissing the Grand Maester for now, Tywin drummed his fingers on his desk as he played the war out in his mind. Robert would demand they march, but first, he'd seek the Vale to give up Jon Snow, Eleana Arryn, and their babe. The Dragonspawn along with the Dragon, both would need to die in Robert's mind. Both would need to die in Tywin's own, though for much different reasons. While Robert wished for vengeance, Tywin wished for survival, for his line to reign for generations and Jon Snow, his babe, and his dragon all now posed a threat to those plans.
By the time Kevan had arrived, Tywin had worked out the makeup of their forces and those who may well be allied against them. If they were lucky, then not all of the Vale would rise for Jon Snow. Though given his exploits there and his closeness with Robin Arryn, they may find themselves facing far more if not all of the Knights of the Vale. It would only be the fact that Robert himself was close to many of them that may stop it from being all. Tywin believed. The North would certainly rise for Jon Snow. Especially given that Eddard Stark was there and not here.
Could he hope that some may feel the sting of betrayal and withhold their men?
Was there any point reaching out to any of the Northern Lords?
Was there a betrayer among their ranks he could exploit and make use of?
Questions for another day and today still had far too many to answer. The Lords of the Narrow Sea would rise for Jon Snow, of that Tywin was certain. While there would be those in the Reach who'd wish to do so as well. As for the Riverlands, they had split during the rebellion and Eddard Stark was married to Hoster Tully's daughter. So they may seek to join with the North, Vale, and the Targaryen loyalists. Against them would be the full might of the West and Stormlands. Yet Tywin wasn't certain it would be enough. They needed the Reach, which meant they needed House Tyrell, and his earlier thoughts about making Margaery Tyrell a princess and then a queen had now taken on added importance.
"Jon Snow is a dragon, Kevan," Tywin stated, Kevan, having arrived as Tywin was in mid contemplation and so his brother had simply taken his seat in silence.
"For true?" Kevan asked, questioning the message if not the messenger.
"Read," Tywin said handing Kevan the raven's scroll.
"We must call the banners," Kevan stated.
"We must, but first the king needs to be informed. Then ravens need to be sent out. The Reach, Kevan. We needs must bring the Reach on board."
"You know what price the old cunt will demand."
"And loathed am I to give it to her. Yet her granddaughter was in truth the only truly viable match from the moment that Stark betrothed his daughter to the Boltons."
"It may not bring the entire Reach, not with a dragon calling for them," Kevan said worriedly.
"It must," Tywin demanded, though he agreed with his brother. There were some like Tarly and Rowan that still bristled over what Mace Tyrell had and had not done during the rebellion.
They could not be allowed to throw their support behind a bastard dragon. Not now and not ever. As he discarded some plans, Tywin settled on others, and all the while he wrote out his messages for the Lords of the West. Plans he'd long since abandoned were now given a second look, while some new ones came to mind. By mid-afternoon, his ravens had been sent and Pycelle was given leave to tell Robert of the raven and the dark words it carried. Within an hour of the Grand Maester doing so, Tywin, Renly, Stannis, Varys Pyrcelle, Littlefinger, and Robert himself, all sat in the Small Council chambers and planned for war. Or they tried to do so as Robert raged about betrayals, Wolves, and Dragons.
"I'll pull his fucking head from his shoulders!"
"I'll grind his bones to dust!"
"He, his wife, his babe, all of them will die!"
"I'll not rest until every last damn Dragonspawn and every single Wolf is dead!"
"Ned Fucking Stark is mine, no one elses. He and Jon Snow are mine!"
"Your grace, we must make our plans," Renly interrupted Robert's ranting as Stannis sat stone-faced and Varys spoke little.
"YOU! Robert shouted looking at Varys "How the fuck did you not know of this? How does it take a fucking dragon being born for this to come to light?"
"I knew of it not, your grace. How could I? As like every man in this room, I too believed the tale that Lord Stark told regarding the babe." Varys said, sounding for the first time scared to Tywin's ears. Something he actually quite enjoyed he found.
"No more, Varys. No more mistakes will be tolerated." Robert warned.
"No, your grace. There will be none, I swear it"
"Now, tell me how we're going to make them all pay for their treachery?" Tywin asked when silence had descended over the Small Council chambers.
Littlefinger was not the man that Tywin would send out to make a marriage alliance and yet in some ways, he was the only man for the task. Kevan could not be spared, Stannis would never treat with the Roses, and while Renly was closer to them than anyone else, he was more needed in the Stormlands. Tywin had suggested that Loras Tyrell be kept close, only for Renly to get affronted at any suggestion of the Knight of Flowers being made a hostage. Something that Tywin would not hesitate to see came to pass, though was not what he was suggesting, not yet at least. Renly's reaction did prove, however, if it needed proving, that all the rumors about Renly and Loras being pillow biters were true.
So it would fall to Littlefinger to bring them the Roses and the Reach and while Robert liked it not that Margaery Tyrell was to be wed to Joffrey, he cared more for the deaths of Jon Snow and Eddard Stark to put up too much of a fight. Despite Tywin naming the Vale and Riverlords as untrustworthy, Robert believed that they would answer his call, and so ravens were to be sent to them demanding they did just that. It made no real difference to Tywin's plans as he'd soon set out to join up with his army and he'd see the Riverlands in flames before he saw it allied to the dragons.
With the Reach they had the numbers, without it, it was far more even. For now, the difference between winning and losing would be who brought their numbers to bear first. So once the meeting was done, Tywin made his way to his chambers and called for his son, daughter, and brother to come to join him. After giving them their orders, while decrying the fact that it would be up to Robert to command Jaime what to do and not Tywin himself, Tywin readied himself for the most important battle and war of his life. The war that would see him leave behind a dynasty the likes of which none had ever known. Or one that would see him and his House dead at the hands of a House he'd thought long since dealt with.
"I will end them for true this time. The Lion rules here, no one else." Tywin said as he left his rooms in the Tower of the Hand and then he left the city he'd arrived at only a few days earlier.
In his mind, he heard the laughter of a mad king and words that sent a chill down his spine. Words that he'd not heard in more than twenty years. The last words that had been spoken to him by Aerys Targaryen now took on a much truer warning than they had when they were uttered.
"One day you'll burn, Lion, one day you'll know my wrath."
Runestone 298 AC.
The Maester mumbled some words that Sandor cared not to hear. Some tale about how he'd not betrayed Jon and Elaena and had only sought guidance over the appearance of the dragon. As Sandor pushed him down the corridor and toward the room where Jon, Elaena, Arthur, and Lord Yohn awaited, he listened to him not. His actions had led to them now needing to hurry and prepare for war. A war that had always been coming but would now not be fought on their terms. Helliweg had given their enemies time to prepare and that could be the difference between winning and losing. So if Sandor was asked for his suggestion on the man's fate, it would be a dark answer that he'd give.
Things had been so much more relaxed just a few days earlier. Joyful even. The babe was as healthy as any babe could be, though his Targaryen features could not be so easily explained, and if it was not for Helligweg's actions then that alone would have led to war. Jon had told them all so while in King's Landing. Sandor hadn't believed him then, but upon seeing the babe he'd known it to be true. As he had upon seeing a dragon in the flesh too. Reaching the room, Sandor looked to the two guards and bid them open the door, before then pushing Helliweg in to face a sentence from a king.
"He gave you no trouble?" Jon asked, 'or was he Daeron now' Sandor wondered.
"Spouted some nonsense about it not being his fault, and wailed louder than the young prince over there," Sandor said. Though in truth Duncan was a quiet babe, especially when held in his mother's arms as he was now.
"Why, Maester? Why would you betray us so truly?" Eleana asked and as he had during the walk from his chambers to Jon and Elaena's, Helliweg bawled, cried, and pleaded his innocence.
"I did not, my lady. I would not, not intentionally."
"Not intentionally?" Elaena asked while Jon seemed to care not given his own words.
"Intentional or not, you've forced a truth to be revealed that leads only in one direction, Maester. War," Jon said angrily, his voice composed even as he spoke, however. "Tell me all you did and leave nothing out, Maester. I'm of a mind to see you lose your head. So should you lie, I'll have no other choice but to see you don't make it to the morrow."
"Please, my lord, my lady….I beg of you…..I…." Helliweg blubbered.
"Answers, Maester. I want the truth of things from your own lips and I want that truth now." Jon demanded.
For the next few moments, Helliweg told a tale of how upon seeing the silver dragon, he'd been left shocked and stunned. How he'd then sent a raven to the Citadel asking for answers and for help in the raising of a dragon. Answers that thus far had not been forthcoming. When Jon asked him if he had sent word to the Grand Maester, Helliweg had denied it. He'd gone so far as to say that all the ravens for King's Landing were still in their cages and that no message had even been sent to announce the birth of Duncan as of yet.
Sandor believed him not, yet both Arthur and Jon seemed more likely to do so. Lord Yohn certainly was as was Elaena. It was the silver dragon flying and landing on Jon's shoulder, its purple eyes staring intently at the Maester and then the chirps it made next to Jon's ear, that in the end, Sandor wagered won the day and saved Helliweg's life. They needed not to check the ravens as that had already been done and one of Varys's Little Birds had said that the news about the dragon's hatching had come from the Citadel, not Runestone. Sandor still felt the man to be untrustworthy, however, and if it was left to him, then Helliweg would die before the night was done. It was not his decision to make and whatever that decision was, Sandor would accept it.
"I believe you speak the truth, Maester. Yet I know not why the Citadel would inform the Grand Maester about a dragon's hatching. Why would they seek answers from Pycelle when all the books, tomes, and writings that they need were at hand?" Jon said as he stroked the silver dragon beneath its chin. Or whatever served as a chin for dragons.
"They would not, my lord. I understand this not." Helliweg shook his head in confusion.
"You expected them to do what, Maester?" Lord Yohn asked.
"Advise me, my lord. Tell me what I needed to do so the dragon could grow strong. So I could be of help in its raising."
"And why would you wish that, Maester?" Eleana asked.
"It's a dragon, my lady. The first one seen in over a hundred and fifty years. I am a man of learning, a man who wishes to learn all I can. That is why I became a Maester, after all. No Maester living has ever had the chance to watch a dragon grow, to be there from its hatching until it was large enough to fly….I had thought….."
"Maester?" Jon asked as Helliweg shook his head again before he composed himself and spoke some more.
"Forgive me, my lord. I had thought to write a tome or a book to chart each of the stages of a dragon's growth."
"Such a thing cannot be allowed, Maester," Jon said and Helliweg nodded.
Sandor looked on as Jon turned to Arthur, Yohn, and then Elaena who all nodded. Finally, Jon turned to look at Sandor himself, and Sandor shook his head.
"You know who I truly am, Maester?" Jon asked as he again stroked the dragon's chin and it made sounds that could only be happy ones.
"I believe I've figured it out. You are the son of Prince Rhaegar and Lyanna Stark, my lord."
"Which makes my husband the true heir to the Iron Throne, Maester. War is upon us and we must be surrounded by men we trust. Until a few days ago, you were one of those men. Now, your loyalty to Lord Yohn, to my husband and me, is very much in question. And yet we need you too, Maester. There are things that we need from you. So what would you have us do?"
There was silence for some time as Helliweg faced some inner debate about what to say or suggest. Eventually, the Maester moved forward and took a knee in front of the desk that Jon sat at. The silver dragon now looking his way as the white wolf moved from Elaena's side and walked towards the kneeling man.
"Whatever you require of me to prove myself, whatever actions you deem necessary to protect you, Lady Elaena, Duncan, and those you care about. Ask of me whatever you would, your grace. I am yours to command."
Ghost moved to Jon and licked his hand before walking back to join Elaena and Duncan. Then Jon rose to his feet and the silver dragon flew to land next to Duncan's crib.
"One chance, Maester. I'm willing to give you but one chance and that only because others have spoken for you. I will place guards of my choosing to watch over you. Every raven that is sent out will be checked and none will leave that are not directed by myself, my wife, or Lord Yohn, is that understood."
"It is, your grace."
"We are at war, Maester. You have managed to avoid being the first casualty of it. Prove yourself false and I promise you that before the war is done, you'll not avoid joining those who are not so fortunate." Jon said and the look he gave the Maester was enough to make both Helliweg and Sandor know the truth of those words.
"I give you my oath, your grace. I am your man, from here on in."
"We shall see, Maester," Jon said before Helliweg was then escorted outside and back to his chambers by some guards that Lord Yohn had sent for.
Sandor made his argument just after the Maester had left. His words were the only ones that called for the Maester's head there and then. Arthur deferred to Jon. While both Elaena and Lord Yohn seemed more than willing to give the Maester the benefit of the doubt. Listening when Jon spoke, he was happy at least to hear that the Maester was on his final chance and that at the first hint of disloyalty, there would be no hesitation to end him. As he was with some of Jon's reasoning for why he'd not just end the man and be done with it.
"Varys confirmed that Pycelle got the news from the Citadel, Sandor. That it was not Helliweg informing the crown that led to the truth being outed. Had he sent the raven himself, then we'd be left with no other choice, but I find I believe the words he said. Or I want to at least. Besides, seeing a dragon hatched is a shocking event." Jon said as the silver dragon flew from Duncan's crib to retake its place on Jon's shoulder.
"So now what?" he asked.
"Now we send the ravens out that name me for who I am and we meet with the Lords Declarant. Tywin and Robert will have called their banners and no doubt for our heads by now." Jon said looking at Elaena and Duncan. "It's not how I wished things to begin, but it is the beginning."
"Should the Lords Declarant decide not to back you?" Lord Yohn asked.
"Then Elaena, Duncan, Tyraxes, and I will make our way to Essos before joining the Company of the Sea Snake and then heading to the North."
"Why the North?" Sandor asked.
"Other than mine own head, it'll be my uncle's that Robert seeks just as much. Should we not have the backing of the Vale, then we'll need to add our forces to those in the North and make sure that they can withstand any attack."
"Only a fool would dare attack the North, Jon." Lord Yohn said and Jon shook his head before answering.
"A fool or a man who feels betrayed, Lord Yohn."
They spoke a little more and as Sandor left the room with Ser Arthur it was to see Robert Arryn walk towards it. The young lord had been told the truth on the day of Duncan's birth and the silver dragon's hatching. From all that Sandor had seen and heard, it had been a truth he'd welcomed hearing. Young Robert had immediately offered the Knights of the Vale to his sister and Goodbrother's cause and had promised them that he would fight by their sides.
Now, it only remained to be seen if the rest of the Vale would do likewise.
Highgarden 298 AC.
Margaery had charmed the young prince and yet no offer of betrothal was forthcoming. Not even a hint of one and it vexed Olenna greatly. So much so that rather than stay in King's Landing as she'd originally planned, they'd left once the tourney was finished. Olenna hadn't even had the comfort of seeing Loras crown Margaery the Queen of Love and Beauty nor to see how that symbolism may have been received. The honor of wearing the crown of roses had fallen to Princess Myrcella instead. Seeing how loudly the crowd had cheered the young girl had not been something that Olenna had welcomed. Nor had the fact it was Ser Jon Arryn who'd crowned her.
It wasn't as if she held any ill feelings toward either the princess or even Jon Arryn. More they'd unknowingly ruined her plans and thereby turned what had been a fruitless journey to King's Landing, into an ever more annoying one. So, they'd packed their things, Mace had blubbered and blabbed before going off to sulk. They were even boarded on the ship and had set sail for Oldtown before most of the merchants and mummers had moved on to the next tourney in search of easy pickings. In hindsight, it had been a foolish thing to do. So on the journey to Highgarden, Olenna for once had berated only herself.
Upon arriving in Oldtown, Olenna found out the news that changed the game completely. She had wished so very much that she could just turn back around and set sail for King's Landing once more. Yet she knew she could not. Instead, she had to simply continue on to Highgarden and not allow the fact that Eddard Stark had resigned as Hand of the King, to affect her as much as it truly did. The tale that was being told was that after a bitter argument, the subject of which she knew not, Stark had thrown down his pin and had returned back to the North.
To no one's surprise, certainly not Olenna's, Tywin Lannister had since been named as the new Hand of the King. Olenna now firmly believed that had she but waited in King's Landing and not left, then Margaery would by now be betrothed to the prince and all she'd wished for would have come true. Instead, they rode, she was grumpy and irritable, or more than usual, and not even the sight of Highgarden when it came into view had been enough to change her mood.
'No, that had taken an arrival from an odious man to do so' Olenna thought wryly.
Three days ago.
Sitting across from a man she had no respect or liking for, Olenna was more curious than annoyed for some reason. Littlefinger was all false charm and modesty. While his ever-present smile never quite reached his gray-green eyes. The smell of mint was overpowering and other than pleasantries, neither Olenna nor Littlefinger had spoken much of anything of import. The irritating little man was drawing it out, daring for her to ask him why he'd come to Highgarden and Olenna was in no humor to give him the satisfaction of doing so. So it had become a game of wills. A fight that wasn't truly a fight and when Littlfinger finally gave in, Olenna wished so much to relish the moment. Given the words he'd just spoken, she found she could not. Or not for the reasons she'd wanted to.
"Repeat what you just said."
"I've been tasked with arranging a betrothal, Lady Olenna. On behalf of his grace and under strict orders from the Hand. I'm here to offer a betrothal between Crown Prince Joffrey and your granddaughter Lady Margaery."
"Why now? Why you?" She asked, far more composedly than she actually felt.
"It was felt I was best suited to make the journey, Lady Olenna." Littlefinger smiled that annoying smile of his as he answered.
"Was it indeed?" she asked. Though it was not really a question she wished for an answer to. Or felt she'd get a true answer if one was provided.
"Now, shall we get down to the haggling?" Littlefinger said, his smirk this time truer given the glint in his eyes.
The price had turned out to be a very steep one. A large dowry and yet it was one that Olenna was willing to pay. Along with the offer of the support of House Tyrell and their men, along with the Reach's bannermen whenever the Crown called for them. Something which Olenna had since found out was to be sooner than she'd expected. As too was the marriage ceremony itself.
A dragon lived and they were being asked to go to war against him and those who'd rise to support him. The prize for doing so was her granddaughter as a future queen. While the danger of not doing so was the wrath and rage of Robert Baratheon and Tywin Lannister. It was a most difficult choice to make and one that Olenna wasn't as certain of as she needed to be. Jon Arryn, Jon Targaryen, Jon Blackfyre, whatever name he was now to be known as truly, brought much to the table. The Vale, the North, the Lords of the Narrow Sea, and most likely the Riverlords or most of them too.
Tywin and Robert had the Stormlands and the West, as well as some of the Crownlands, which meant that the Reach would decide this war. If Jon Arryn was unwed, then it would be a much simpler choice. He and Margaery tied together and Olenna would give him the Reach in its entirety. He was wed though and father to a babe too, which in turn made things far from simple. Something that Willas, Garlan, and Margaery herself understood while Mace, unsurprisingly did not.
"There will be those in the Reach who'll seek to join him, grandmother. We may bring most but would we bring all against a dragon?" Willas had said as they discussed their plans.
"Tarly and Rowan, at least. Mayhap Ashford too." Garlan said.
"Surely you cannot be suggesting we support this false dragon?" Mace said and thankfully it was Margaery who answered her father. Saving Olenna from the need of scolding her son.
"He is true, father. Ser Arthur's presence makes far more sense now than it ever did and it was always most strange that Lord Stark had claimed a bastard son." her Golden Rose said, proving just how true a queen she would make if given the chance.
"You're saying Stark lied?" Mace said and Olenna rolled her eyes." What's to say he's not lying again?"
"He's not," Willas said and Olenna knew they'd get nowhere with Mace now arguing the points that they'd already resolved.
"We'll take the night," she said, bringing one meeting to an end. Though later she held another with Willas and Margaery alone and still found no good answers to her dilemma.
Olenna truly wanted Margaery to be queen and joining with Robert and Tywin allowed for that. While joining Jon Arryn very much did not. In the end, that alone would decide her course. Or so she'd thought until the second visitor had arrived at Highgarden bearing a betrothal offer. This visitor was a face from the distant past and one long thought dead by Olenna and many others. Yet, Jon Connington now stood in front of her and looked almost the same man that she'd once seen stand by Prince Rhaegar's side and look lustfully toward the Silver Prince.
'Not that he was alone in doing that' Olenna thought as she remembered how ladies swooned in Prince Rhaegar's presence.
"I had thought you dead, Lord Jon," Olenna said directly.
"I am very much alive, Lady Olenna. Alive and in service of my king. Now am I to be offered guest right or do you expect me to take your word on my safety?"
"Fetch the bread and salt," she said to Garlan.
After Jon Connington had been offered and accepted guest right, they made their way to Olenna's solar. Other than Willas, no one else was given leave to join them. Mace huffed, Garlan went back to his swordplay, and Margaery just nodded. Her granddaughter knew full well that she'd be informed of the content of their discussion later. Once inside the solar, food and wine were offered and Jon Connington gratefully accepted both while telling some tale of what he'd been up to since the Battle of the Bells. It was not a complete tale and much had been left out, which Olenna commented on.
"There's more you're not telling us," she stated definitively.
"You're not yet an ally, Lady Olenna. Until you are and I know so for true, there are things I'll not speak of."
"What things?" Willas asked.
"Our true strength for one." Jon Connigton said with intrigue.
Olenna looked to the man who'd been known to one and all as the Griffin. Older yes, no less formidable, and though he had never been a warrior of note, he was always named as a commander of some skill. Having him on the side of the dragon was a huge boon. Even were he not to bring men to the table. There would be those in the Reach who'd welcome serving alongside him, that much Olenna knew, which made Jon Connington a man to be wary of.
"And what can you tell us?" she asked.
"That should you ally yourself with the Lion and the Stag then you'll suffer the same fate as they do, Fire and Blood, Lady Olenna. That's what comes to those who deny my king and whether or not you know it yet, Fire and Blood beats the Rains every single time."
His words sent a chill down her spine as they showed the truth of the situation that she now found herself in. Join with the Dragon and should you lose, then Highgarden would be turned into Castamere come again. Stand against him and it would be flames and bloodshed that would bring about your end. The problem was that unlike Tywin Lannister or Robert Baratheon, Jon Arryn didn't have a marriage to offer them, or so Olenna believed. She was about to find out that she was very, very, wrong in that belief.
"Numbers-wise, we're relatively evenly matched. The North, Vale, Lords of the Narrow Sea, and the Riverlands against the West, Stormlands, and whatever other forces that the Stag and the Lion can muster." Jon Conningtong began to speak again. Or had been doing so and Olenna had only just noticed, she could not be sure that she'd not missed something as she contemplated her choices.
"Leaving the Reach as the deciding factor," Willas said.
"Mayhap." Jon Connington replied cryptically. "To that end, I would wager that you've been offered a betrothal. Lady Margaery to wed Prince Joffrey, no doubt."
Olenna barely nodded her head and Jon simply smirked before continuing.
"You know of the boy's predilections?"
"We are aware, yes," Olenna answered. She knew full well and had already begun to make plans in her mind to ensure that Joffrey and Margaery would not be wed for long.
"The boy is not a suitable match for a beloved granddaughter. Even with a crown to offer."
"Better than no match at all." Willas snarked.
"Indeed, but who says I don't offer a match?" Jon replied and Olenna moved forward in her chair. She was curious to see what the offer would be while knowing who it may involve.
"The prince and princess are with Jon Arryn?"
"Daeron Targaryen, Lady Olenna."
"They are as one?" she asked, eagerly.
"I am here to offer you the hand of a princess, Lady Olenna. A princess of House Targaryen rather than a prince of House Baratheon. A princess who is true of blood and not the union of Lions cuckolding Stags."
"What's that you say?" Willas asked, shocked by the words that Jon Connington had spoken, though Olenna was less so.
"Oh, you were unaware." Jon laughed." None of the children born to Cersei Lannister are Robert Baratheon's. All of them take their looks from their true father, Jaime Lannister."
Olenna had heard rumors and tales of the closeness of the Kingslayer and his sister. Yet she'd seen none of it on the few occasions she'd seen them together. Even during the tourney, they'd looked almost as if they couldn't stand to be in the same place as one another.
Could it be true?
Was this a mummery that Jon Connington was trying to get them to believe in?
Did it matter if it was or was not?
It mattered not. Should the words be spoken aloud, which they would no doubt be, then some would believe them. Bannermen that may already wish to serve the Dragons would use it as an excuse to do so. While tying Margaery to Joffrey once the news had spread would cause them even more issues than simply doing so already did. Yet it was none of this that Olenna led with when she spoke next. Instead, it was a different question that now begged for an answer.
"Why a princess and not a prince?" Olenna asked, looking carefully at Jon Connington when he replied.
"We'd prefer your grandson rather than your grandaughter, Lady Olenna. Lord Willas is to rule the Reach one day, a far worthier match for a princess of House Targaryen than a granddaughter, who other than her name offers little to a prince. We seek not a queen, so for us, the alliance is more suited to be one between your grandson and Princess Daenerys. As for your own benefits from such. With a princess of the blood as the Lady of Highgarden, who can ever look to you and think themselves more suited to rule the Reach?"
It annoyed her that he'd read her mind so well. Though it did make her wonder if it was Jon himself or someone else who'd done so. Regardless, it left her with little choice and in the end, while Olenna believed whichever side the Reach joined would win, she couldn't be certain that was the case with Tywin and Robert. She prayed she was making the right choice as she looked to Willas who nodded his agreement and who needed not to speak his words or listen to her own.
"We accept your offer, Lord Jon. The Reach is yours." Olenna said as firmly as she could.
"No, my lady. It belongs to King Daeron, the Third of his Name." Jon said, and in truth, Olenna knew he was right.
Runestone 298 AC.
Though not quite official, in her mind and her heart, Elaena was a Targaryen now. She'd even taken to calling Jon, Daeron, as much as she could anyway. Though it was still much harder to think of him that way. The cat was firmly out of the bag and the need for pretense had long since passed. Helliweg had seen to that with his raven to the Citadel. Jon had been wrought and had wished to take the man's life there and then. He'd been supported by Arthur, Sandor, and even later by her brother. With only Elaena, Yohn, Waymar, and young Gyles Grafton speaking up for the Maester.
In the end, it had been words and not actions that Helliweg had faced. A final chance that he'd been given and should he prove himself false, then not even the Seven would be able to stay Jon's hand. Should he prove himself true, however, then they would have at least one Maester they could trust. Something which would be much needed in the days, weeks, and moons to come.
'Two if what Robert says about Colemon is proved true' Elaena thought as she walked over to the crib where Duncan lay sleeping.
Her son was perfect. His purple eyes were mirror images of his fathers and his silver hair marked him out as a true dragon. Duncan was healthy. and happy. Though a quiet babe, he was one with a true appetite. Elaena smiled as she looked down at him and remembered the feeling of his first feeding and how relieved she'd been that he'd drank from her so hungrily. Moving away from her son's crib, Elaena looked to where the silver dragon lay resting. Tyraxes, the she-dragon had been named by Jon. Her husband had named her after the Goddess of Reason, Wisdom, Intelligence, Skill, Peace, Warfare, and Battle Strategy.
"All things I'll need much of in the war to come." Jon had said when he'd told her why he'd named the dragon so.
Shivering slightly as she remembered the words, Eleana moved from the dragon back to her bed and to where her husband still lay sleeping. Jon looked so peaceful and so without worry that for the briefest moment, Elaena could forget that they were already at war. True no battles had taken place and yet war was upon them nonetheless. Robert Baratheon had called for their heads. He'd demanded that the Vale hand over Jon, Elaena, Duncan, and the dragon, or it would face his fury.
They'd been told that Tywin Lannister had called his banners while Renly Baratheon had traveled back to the Stormlands to do the same. Stannis had removed his household from Dragonstone, though he'd left a sizeable garrison there to hold the island. While Littlefinger had been sent to bring the Reach to the fold. An offer of a crown for the Golden Rose the prize he was to dangle in front of the Queen of Thorns. They had their own offer to counter it, a princess or a prince rather than a rabid dog like Joffrey truly was. Yet, Elaena was far from certain that their offer would be enough or would be accepted.
"You should have woken me," Jon said sleepily as Elaena stood at the end of their bed. "Is he sleeping?"
"They both are."
"Come to bed, Laeny." Jon held out his hand and she took it happily.
The feel of his arms as they wrapped around her, his fingers stroking her hair as he spoke softly to her, would normally leave her calm and content and yet for some reason, today they did not. To his immense credit, Jon felt her tenseness and continued to speak softly to her about little of import. Before he then changed tack and spoke of things which very much were.
"After I meet with the Lords Declarant, we'll know where our path lays. Should all go well then you and Duncan will need to go to the Eyrie."
"I know. I've no wish to be parted from you either, Laeny. From either of you." Jon said, raising his head to look toward the crib.
"But needs must."
"Do you believe they'll support you? Are you concerned they'll not?" she asked, turning to face her husband so that she could look him in the eye.
"I believe they will. Most of them know the truth about Robert Baratheon and some know the same about Joffrey. All of them though are well aware that having Tywin Lannister running the realm would be a terrible thing."
"Did he not do well as Hand…" she began, before placing her hand on her mouth to stop herself from speaking the rest of her sentence and naming Jon's grandfather. "Forgive me."
"There's naught to forgive," Jon said as he placed a soft kiss on her lips. "Some may say he did well, yet others will name him as a different man now that he's got his blood so close to the throne. There is only so much a Hand can do if the King trusts him not or isn't controlled by him. Tywin is far freer to be who he truly is now under Robert and will be even more so once Joffrey sat the throne"
"You don't just believe it'll be fear or dislike of Robert, Joffrey, or Tywin though do you? You hope they'll support you."
"Us," Jon said firmly. "Me, you, and Duncan. They may hate that they were lied to or kept in the dark. Some may even say that it was not what your father would have wished for."
"I wish he was here, Daeron. I wish it was he who called the Knights of the Vale to your side." Elaena said, somehow able to use her husband's true name even though she was fearful and worried.
"As do I." Jon sighed. "Not just for how much easier things would be…I wish he'd seen our son, Laeny. Seen Duncan and held him in his arms."
Her tears came unbidden and Jon wiped them away. The conversation seemed to both go on for much longer and almost come to an end at the same time. Hearing Duncan stir in his crib, Elaena rose from the bed and hurried over to lift up her son. Be it the sound of her moving across the floor or Duncan's own movements, Tyraxes was awakened too and as was the silver dragon's wont, she flew to join Jon on the bed. Elaena soon laughed to herself as she heard how her husband spoke to the dragon while she did likewise to their son.
A few short hours later, they broke their fast and then they said their goodbyes. More than a hundred men would ride to the Gates of the Moon and hold a meeting with the Lords Declarant. None of them held any worry that they'd be taken prisoner or not at least heard out before they were rejected or accepted, but they'd take no chances just in case. Lord Yohn, Andar, and Robar who'd been called back from his travels in the Stormlands. Sandor, Arthur, and Ghost, along with Gyles and Robert, as well as the two members of the Brotherhood that were in the Vale, Mychel, and Waymar. Almost every single person that Elaena cared for other than Duncan, Ysilla, Mya, and Lady Yara would be traveling to a meeting to decide the course of the war to come.
"We'll return in less than a moon, Laeny. Once we do, we'll know where it is we go from here."
"You'll send a raven first of all?" she asked and Jon nodded.
"I love you, both of you. With all that I am and all of my heart."
"I love you too, Daeron," she said as he kissed first her and then placed an even softer kiss on Duncan's forehead.
"I'll bring them to our side, Laeny. I give you my oath on that." Robert said as Jon moved to speak to the guards that he'd be leaving behind and made it clear what it was he expected from them. Before then kneeling down in front of the two large wolves and speaking to them so softly that no one other than they could hear him.
He'd wished to leave Sandor, Arthur even, and then Ghost. Elaena had, however, allowed none of them to remain with her, as she wished them beside her husband more than herself. Eventually, Winter and Frost had made it clear that they would not be leaving her or Duncan's sides and Elaena knew just how much that had meant to her husband. How relieved he'd been to know that she and their son would have such loyal and fierce protectors to guard them while he could not.
"I know you will, Robert. Promise me that you'll look after yourself and Daeron. That you'll listen to what he says and follow his orders." she asked and Robert nodded "You too, Gyles." she said to the other young lad who meant so much to both her husband and to herself.
"I will, my queen," Gyles replied, the lad refusing to name her or Jon by any other title since the truth had been outed.
Ysilla and Mya moved to join her and Duncan as Jon mounted his horse. In the sky above him, Tyraxes and Eyas both flew, though the eagle was far higher than the dragon was. Ghost moved beside Caraxes and Jon then looked her way. He bore a sad smile on his face as he nodded to her and then turned his horse and began to ride away. In her arms, their son's eyes were wide open. His attention fixed firmly on his father and those that rode with him.
"They will return soon, Sweetling, and they will be successful in bringing the Vale to their side, I know they will."
Later that night, Elaena lay alone in her bed, Winter and Frost slept on either side of Duncan's crib and while she felt safe and secure, it helped her not with her night's sleep.
Gates of the Moon 298 AC.
A king without a crown. Without a kingdom. That's what he was and would remain until he defeated Robert Baratheon and Tywin Lannister. He'd be a hunted man, a wanted man, a man whose family was in danger simply because they were his family. Daeron feared for his wife and son, for those who followed him, and for his uncle, aunt, his brothers, and his sisters in the North. He feared for his aunt and uncle in Essos too. Yet for himself, he felt no fear or doubt. There was no hesitation or questioning of his path.
"I'm a king without a crown, but I am a king," he said to himself as they rode through the Vale.
The ravens had been sent out and answered. Though what the true answer was, he was yet to find out. His words would be listened to and his Goodbrother had already said that as Lord of the Vale and Warden of the East, he would fight beside him in the wars to come. It had made Daeron incredibly proud of young Robert. Had proved to him that no matter what Varys may suggest or some may say, the boy was someone he was happy to name as kin.
Lord Yohn, Andar, and Robar, along with Lady Yara, had all declared from him though they needed not to. His uncle had sent him a raven saying that he'd called the banners and would speak to the Lords of the North. While one of Varys' Little Birds had passed him a message saying that Jon Connington had arrived in Oldtown and was making his way to Highgarden before then heading to Dorne. Still, he was behind in his preparations and had been caught almost with his pants down due to Helliweg's actions. Daeron now prayed that he'd not lost it all before it began because of it.
"You look miserable, Daeron," Waymar said as he rode alongside him.
"Shouldn't that be, my king?" Mychel japed on the other side of him.
"You heard him, he's got no crown, Mychel. Until the Vale declares for him. then our friend here is a king without a kingdom." Wayma said, his smirk a full one now.
"Why that's just ridiculous, Waymar." Mychel sighed. "He's a king because we name him a king. Because we kneel and say it's so."
"Enough, both of you." Daeron shook his head. "I take your point," he added, showing them that he was not annoyed at their antics. More fed up with them if truth be told.
They acted how they did to make him lighten up and he knew they were right too. As much as he may claim not yet to be a king, he was a king. He knew it, those who rode with him knew it and even Robert Baratheon and Tywin Lannister knew it. Not that they would admit it or ever accept it.
So far along the ride to the Gates of the Moon, Daeron had spent as much of his time thinking about Elaena and Duncan as he had on what he was going to say to the Lords Declarant. Other than when he was being made fun of by Waymar and Mychel, speaking to Gyles and Robert and helping with their training, or spending time with Tyraxes and Ghost, he was lost in his head in thoughts of his family. As they began to see the landmarks that he recognized from his many trips to the Gates of the Moon, Daeron began to concentrate on what it was he'd come here to do.
The night before they reached the keep, he sat alone with Ghost and Tyraxes by his side. Arthur, Sandor, and even Lord Yohn had all given him advice and yet he knew it would be him that needed to bring the Lords Declarant and the Vale to his side. His words and his alone, as much as Robert wished to help, would be what decided whether or not the Vale rode with him, or he, Elaena, and Duncan would need to leave in search of safer lands. Eyes closed, he both spoke a speech in his mind and discarded it at the same time. It couldn't be practiced or seem rehearsed, it needed to be from the heart and so, other than some small points that he took note of, he ignored the words that he'd spoken to himself.
Waking the next morning and trying not to laugh aloud at the sight of Ghost and Tyraxes both sleeping next to him and each other, Daeron spent the early morning practicing his swordplay. He now finally wore Dark Sister for true and would soon wield it in battle, while he still wore the same armor that his Goodfather had gifted for him, even if he'd since had the Three-Headed Dragon of his house added to it and to his shield. Daeron broke his fast with his Goodbrother and Gyles and put both through their paces before they set out to cover the final few miles to the Gates of the Moon. Upon reaching the keep, it was Arthur who rode up beside him and spoke the words in his ear. Words that named him as who he was and which strengthened his resolve.
"You are my king, your grace. As you've been from the day you were born. Show them the king I serve is good and true and they will follow you." Arthur said, Daeron nodding to him as they rode into the open courtyard that led to the keep.
They waited for him there. Each and every one of the Lords Declarant were all lined up to see him and judge him now that they knew the truth of him. None of them knelt, nor did any show any deference to him. All eyes looking first to him and then to Tyraxes who as was her wont, had taken up her place on Daeron's right shoulder. It was Lord Nestor Royce who welcomed them to the keep, going first to Lord Yohn, then to Robert, and finally to him. Lord Redfort looked to his son, while Lady Anya finally drew her eyes away from the silver dragon and looked into Daeron's own purple eyes. Her expression was one that Jon could not name and her greeting was for Robert first of all.
No time was spent allowing them to make themselves presentable. Bread and salt, however, were offered and guest right was extended. Once it had been accepted, it was then to the large hall that Daeron and the others were escorted to. Unsurprisingly, it was not only the Lords Declarant who'd come to take his measure. Almost the entirety of the Vale, including Gyles' father, Gerold, who offered both his son and Daeron a warm smile, had come out in force too. All eyes were on him and Robert as they made their way to the High Table and on Tyraxes as she flew to land on the seat in the center. The silver dragon clearly marking it as both hers and Daeron's own.
"You truly have a dragon." Ser Symond said. The first true words that had been spoken to Daeron since he'd arrived.
"I do, my lord. Tyraxes hatched on the day my son was born. Had she not…" Daeron trailed off, there was no need to speak on what may have been had the dragon not hatched, all here were here because of it after all.
"Lady Elaena and the babe are well, Ser Jon?" Lady Anya asked.
"Daeron, my lady. My true name is Daeron." Daeron said to a small grimace from Lady Anya. "And yes, both my wife and son are as well as can be expected."
"Shall we get down to the matter at hand?" Lord Yohn asked.
Taking their seats at the High Table, were the Lords Declarant, which now included Lord Yohn who Daeron knew was on his side. Lady Anya Waynwood, Ser Symond Templeton, Lord Gilwood Hunter, Lord Benedar Belmore, and Lord Horton Redfort, who he was yet to find out about. Along with Daeron and his Goodbrother, Robert. Spread out among those sitting at the tables in the hall were Lord Nestor Royce, Lord Robert Hersy, Lord Davan Melcolm, Lord Lyonel Corbray, and Gyles' father Lord Gerold. As well as the heirs, knights, men at arms, and most Leal and True men that the Vale's Lords and Knights would call upon. Almost a hundred men in all, with only a scattering of ladies, such as Myranda Royce, present. All eyes were now on him and Daeron did his best not to wither under their stares.
"We were lied to, Ser Jon…Daeron." Lady Anya said correcting herself in mid-sentence. "Told a tale of you that wasn't true and now you are here to ask us to go against a king we all swore oaths to. One that some of us in this very room fought beside or know from his days fostering in the Vale."
"You were and I am," Daeron replied.
"You would have us break our oaths to a king?" Ser Symond challenged.
"Have most of you not done so once before." Lord Gerold called out from his seat.
"A different king, Gerold." Lord Horton said, before looking to Daeron.
"A false king, Lord Redfort," Daeron said firmly. "For it was not by right of conquest alone that Robert Baratheon claimed my throne. He did so by right of blood too, did he not?"
"He did." Lord Yohn stated.
"I was born my father's heir, my lords, my lady. From the day I came into this world, I was the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. Until I'm taken from this world, then Robert Baratheon has no right to name his blood right as stronger than mine own. Though all of us in this hall know full well that blood right matters not."
"You still ask us to go against a man we swore an oath to, Ser Jon." Lord Benedar said firmly.
"My name is Daeron Targaryen, my lords, and ladies. I am the trueborn son of Prince Rhaegar Targaryen and his wife Lyanna Stark. For five and ten years I've been forced to live under the lie of first Jon Snow and then Ser Jon. That lie is needed no more and so I've cast away the name that was never truly mine and embraced the name given to me by my mother and father." Daeron said firmly, "From here on, I'll answer to only the one, and while I'll allow time for those to get used to the change. I wish you all to know that it is a change that is permanent and irrevocable."
Around the hall, hushed whispers, louder words that couldn't truly be discerned, and looks were exchanged but none spoke directly to him and Lord Benedar bid him continue.
"I ask you to stand with me against a man who wishes me dead. A man who wishes my wife and child dead. A man who stood over the bodies of my brother and sister, of their mother, and loudly declared that he saw no babes, only Dragonspawn." Daeron said. His voice even, as his hands balled into fists at the thought of what Robert had said and Tywin had done. "A man whose Hand ordered those deaths and loosed his monsters upon a mother, a girl of but three Namedays, and a babe still in the cradle. How many of you here know the truth of what was done to Elia Martell? To Rhaenys and Aegon Targaryen? To my brother and sister?"
Around the hall, some voices spoke in whispers to those closest to them, but it was almost a hush as Daeron continued to speak.
"The Mountain took my brother from his mother's arms and threw him so hard against the wall that it crushed his head. With my brother's blood on his hands, he then raped Princess Elia before he cut her almost in two with his Greatsword. Amory Lorch found my sister hiding under our father's bed and drove his knife into her more than half a hundred times." Daeron said, the tears falling from his eyes as he spoke and revealed things he'd dreamt about and yet knew were true.
Arthur stood behind him and though Daeron could not see it, the knight's hands opened and closed as he thanked the gods for giving him the Mountain and swore he'd see Lorch pay just as dearly. Tyraxes screeched loudly from the top of the chair where she rested and would have loosed her small flames had Daeron just bid her to. Not bothering to wipe his eyes, Daeron looked out on those in the hall and saw some that look shocked, shamed, or even seeming to be showing him sympathy which he wished for not.
"That's the fate that awaits my wife and babe should Robert Baratheon and Tywin Lannister have their way. As for mine own, well, I doubt my death will be quick and easy. Yet I have no fear of dying and no intent to do so. With you or without you, I will see both Robert Baratheon and Tywin Lannister in the ground. For I've no other choice but to do so."
"Yet you seek our men, do you not? You seek the Knights of the Vale to join you in your war and fight by your side." Lady Anya said as Daeron looked her way.
"I do, my lady," Daeron said to raised voices and loud questions. "I could tell you all that I do so because Lord Jon Arryn wished to support my cause. That he too saw that Robert was not the man who should wear the crown and so I became a contingency at first. A cause to rally around should his fears prove true."
"Lord Jon would not."
"Robert Baratheon was his foster son."
Robert rose to his feet and Jon looked to his Goodbrother, bidding him with his eyes to sit back down only to be ignored as Robert spoke far more loudly and assuredly than a boy his age had a right to.
"My father wed my sister to King Daeron." Robert declared, stopping most if not all of the cross-talk. "He welcomed him into our family and were he here today, he'd call for the Knights of the Vale to ride out in support of the true king of Westeros. I now do so in his stead." Robert said, earning him a smile and a nod from Daeron before Robert sat back down.
"My Goodbrother speaks true. Though it's not only mine own word that proves it so." Daeron said looking to Lord Yohn and nodding.
"King Daeron speaks the truth. Some years back I was taken into Lord Jon's confidence and the truth of things was revealed to me. At the time I refused to commit to joining Lord Jon in his plans, for I too had sworn an oath to a man I believed to be the rightful king. Though in truth that was not mine only reason."
A hush came over the hall as Lord Yohn spoke, every ear now attuned only to the words spoken by the Lord of Runestone.
"I well remember Aerys and his madness. As I still mourn for Kyle and all those who lost their lives when Brandon Stark rode to the Red Keep. So I looked to the young lad that Jon Arryn wished to name as king and I looked with a keener eye than most." Lord Yohn said as Daeron remained standing and waited for him to finish. As did everyone else in the hall. "Would you like to know what I saw?"
"What did you see?"
"I saw a lad that any of us here would be proud to name as one of our own. A good lad and true and one who has done much to see the Vale prosper. Look to Daeron and the Brotherhood of the Winged Knights and tell me I speak a lie?" Lord Yohn said, to no reply. "It was Daeron who rode out when Lord Robert was in danger. He who took it upon himself to face down Lady Lysa and call her out for what she was and what she wished to do. Even after being named to act as Warden and as Lord Protector, it was Daeron who sought not to use that power to compel each and every one of us here to follow him as was his right to do. Rather he named Lords Declarant so we could deny him should we so wish it."
More hushed whispers and some looks between those sitting at the High Table occurred before Lord Yohn finished his words and then made his oath public.
"All of us here know the words he speaks to be true. Robert Baratheon and Tywin Lannister will not rest until Daeron, Elaena, and Duncan are in the ground. I for one will not stand idly by as the Lions and Stags attempt to do so. Never did I think I'd find myself declaring for the Dragons once again. Yet, I do so gladly and without reservation. House Royce stands side by side with the One True King, with King Daeron and Queen Elaena of the House Targaryen." Lord Yohn said before Andar, Robar, and Waymar all repeated their father's oath.
Mychel Redfort then did likewise as did Robert. While Sandor and Arthur both followed, as did Lord Gerold Grafton and Lord Robert Hersy. None others did for some time, the other five Lords Declarant looking to each other before then rising as one.
"I like not the lies nor the subterfuge. Yet I understand the need for them. House Waynwood stands with the Mountain Wolf. Or mayhap the Mountain Dragon is more suited now." Lady Anya said, half smiling as she did so.
"As does House Templeton."
"House Redfort does so too."
"House Belmore rises for the Mountain Dragon.
"House Hunter declares for King Daeron."
"House Corbray rises for the Mountain Dragon."
"House Melcolm rises for King Daeron and Queen Elaena."
As one, every man and woman in the hall called out and named Daeron as their king. Behind him, Arthur looked on proudly and Ghost finally rose from where he'd been watching proceedings, though in truth the white wolf had been paying them little mind. Tyraxes let out as much of a roar as she was able, while Daeron, welcomed that he now had the support of the Knights of the Vale, yet he knew full well it was only the beginning. War was far easier fought in words than deeds and the time for words was now passed. Banners would be called, a march organized and battles would soon be fought, but he'd not need to run and Elaena would have the safety of the Vale and the Eyrie to protect her and Duncan. Daeron prayed that it would be enough.
A/N: Thanks to all who've read and reviewed. Up Next: As ravens fly carrying news naming Jon as who he truly is, Ned meets with the Lords of the North and reveals a long-held secret to some of them before they march south. Tywin marches on the Riverlands and Renly, Stannis, and Robert lead a Stormlands army. The Company of the Sea Snake sets sail from Essos as Jon Connington negotiates with Prince Doran. In King's Landing, two white-cloaked knights and a eunuch make a dangerous plan and Daeron says his goodbyes to his wife and son as he leads the Knights of the Vale to war. While Dany looks on in wonder as a miracle takes place and the gods gift her and Viserys.
For those following my other fics, My Name is Daemon is up next, probably Sunday followed by Winter King and Aemon the Dragonknight next week. I'm also aiming to have new chapters of Purple Deception and Dragonwolf Danced done for the week after.
Thyrokio: Ch.5.: I was trying to come up with a way that would make sense given they use the blunted blades, I'm so glad you like it and felt it was epic.
Chapter 27 reviews.
Celexys: What Helliweg has revealed to them is that there are those at the Citadel against them, something they weren't fully aware of and we'll see play out as we move forward.
Kamori: In Helliweg's defense, he's not really a traitor, not on purpose. But yes, the war has now begun and the first skirmishes start next chapter.
Vfsnake: He did, but he didn't mean to. So he's given a second chance, though under a far more watchful eye.
Alberto: I would never do that, if I don't finish them it's because I'm dead lol.
Dunk: With Helliweg it wasn't so much overlooked, more that he'd grown to truth him given the sheer amount of time he'd spent with the man. It would be somewhat like having Luwin do the same thing, and Helliweg wasn't actually betraying, more he was seeking answers. Glad you liked the bit with Ned, I think we don't have enough stories where Ned actually leads the North against Robert, so I wanted this to be one of them. So with Olenna, the deciding factor for me would be the knowledge that she could splinter the Reach which in turn is probably her biggest fear. Without the offer or a marriage, she'd still have chosen Tywin/Robert, but once she's offered a prince/princess, then I think she takes the deal. I had hoped you like the name, we needed some Dunk Lol.
Foxy-Floof: It's suggested that most eggs hatched during a child's birth or in the cribs of children rather than by some convoluted Fire and Blood ceremony. But basically what I was going for was that this egg was always to be Jon's egg, had Lyanna gotten it with her when Jon was born, it would have hatched then, instead, it hatched when Duncan was born. As for the Maester, Jon has known Helliweg for nine years, studied under him, and taken his lessons from him. He has no reason to think him anything but loyal and Helliweg is loyal, he just wished for guidance about the dragon and so sought answers from the wrong people. Not to mention that Jon like everyone else was somewhat concentrated on Duncan and Tyraxes's births.
Rhatch: One more move to the war chapter, then battles begin.
Hank: No worries and you're perfectly entitled to your opinion. I didn't go with the birth of the babe being the catalyst or not exactly the catalyst for a couple of reasons. 1. I'd had Jon hint at it, so having the dragon hatch be the thing was sort of a curveball, with them all focused on the babe so to speak. 2. It needed to be immediate and sudden. Which Duncan's birth wouldn't be. Yes questions would be asked and things would move that way given Duncan's appearance, but would it be enough to lead to the direct calling of the banners and a rush to war, no, I don't think it would have been.
In regard to Helliweg. Firstly, everyone in the room was focused on two things, the first of those was the birth of a new and healthy prince and making sure that he and Elaena were well. The second was the shock that the Dragon had hatched, none of them expected it to do so. Also, all of them know Helliweg, and they trust him. They had no reason to suspect that he'd do what he did. His leaving the room could simply have been to get more supplies and for something to look after Elaena and the Babe, had they even a single reason to suspect him, or had all been thinking clearly, then he'd not have been given the chance.
Sometimes, people mess up, which is basically what I was going for. You cover so many bases that the one you ignore is the one that nails you.
You may think it author manipulation, or bad writing, but as I said, that's your opinion and far be it from me to tell you that you're wrong or that I'm so perfect in my writing that it worked exactly how I wished it to. I do hope the above at least explains my thought process.
Irish Hermit: That's exactly what I was going for, that Jon and others were so concentrated on Elaena that they forgot about the Egg, and then when the dragon hatched, that threw them all even more. Helliweg didn't betray them on purpose, as he didn't know the Citadel is so against the Dragons, he simply sought answers to help and in doing so, set the seeds of war. You're right, Ned would have lost his head first of all, which is partly why Jon wished him far from King's Landing, in this respect he's been very fortunate.
Duncan is pure Targaryen, with Silver hair and purple eyes as for Cat, yes she knows and the rest of Westeros is about to find out.
J: Tyraxes is Jon's dragon, she was supposed to hatch when he was born but he'd not had the egg with him and so she hatched at Duncan's birth instead. As for Dany's third dragon, well, hmm, let's see, we now have 3 Targaryens with no dragons, so who could it possibly be for I wonder. I wanted the start of the war or the reason for it to be swift and sudden, which is why I went for the dragon. In regard to Helliweg, he betrayed with the best intentions.
As for the name, Jon's words on it here should explain the reason, it's what Tyraxes the God stands for which is why he chose the name.
SventheDecoy: They had no reason to suspect the Maester would do what he did. Helliweg was trusted, in the same way that Luwin would have been.
OneDocToHealThemAll: So glad you've been enjoying it, hope you like the new chapter too. As you see here, Helliweg sought answers on how to care for a dragon from his colleagues at the Citadel who informed Pycelle because they want a world without dragons. His betrayal was done with the best intentions.
Quadehays: So glad you liked it.
10868letsgo: Really glad you're enjoying it.
Qwertyuiop123214685: Your wish is my command.
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Anarra: Really glad you liked it.