Leaning against the railing of the ship Dany looked out across the water towards the rapidly approaching shoreline. This was not home, not Westeros. She wasn't heading towards the lands she had only seen with an infant's eyes, that she only knew about from her brother's tales and the stories told by the merchants and sailors who would speak of the land her ancestors had conquered. The Seven Kingdoms was where she longed to point her ships towards, but it was the next step in her getting there. More importantly ensuring that she was able to remain there.
Viserys had thought that she never paid attention when he spoke of his dreams and desires to return to their home and reclaim the throne their forefathers had made. But she had… she had learned much from him, both in his failures and his middling successes, few the later might be. And one thing that even he had understood was that one could not arrive in Westeros and expect the Lords to fall to their knees and welcome their return without a show of strength. Their allies would need proof that they could win, for the War of the Usurper had cost them all greatly. And their enemies had gained a taste for the power and influence they now held with the Blood of the Dragon gone and would not be quick to surrender it. While Viserys had been always quick to claim that the people would rally to him the idea of him merely showing up on a merchant's galley and being greeted with cheers if he, and he alone, disembarked was a child's dream. She had been told that the people drank secret toasts to their health and sewed dragon banners but now she saw those as the empty words they truly were. For if the people truly did long for their return why didn't they rise up, slay the Usurper and his allies, and then send word that she and her brother might return? No, her time in Qarth had proven the old statement true: words are wind. If the Targaryens wished to rule again they would have to prove they were worth, just as the Conqueror had done. Daenerys' khaalesar was a start but it was mostly made of the young and the old, lacking the Screamers and Bloodriders she would need to make any true campaigns. And her children were too small to be much of a threat.
'And even when they are grown that does not assure victory,' she thought to herself in a voice that sounded a touch like Viktor's.
She reached down and played with one of the buttons that held her vest together; after Qarth she would never wear dresses and silks again, for she saw the power in dressing as a warrior. Viktor hadn't worn fine garments… he dressed every day in his harsh armor and green cloak so that all would cower before him. A dragon wasn't a show pony that was trotted out for all the lasses to coo over, with ribbons about it and a pretty saddle. A dragon was scale and teeth and claws. And she was a dragon. Instead she wore the clothing of a khal, with her painted vest, leather pants, strong boots, and the custom gloved bracers Viktor had made for her.
'The Hellholt proved that a dragon can be brought low by a man with either courage or madness. And Aegon did not merely win with his dragons but on the field of battle.' She rested her chin upon her hand and continued to watch as they drew closer to shore. 'People remember the Field of Fire but they forget all the battles he won with swords and shields. And dragons did not break Dorne… it did not even bend it. No, I need an army. To show my allies that I have not been lax in my time here in Essos and to remind my enemies why they bent the knee in the first place.' She scowled a little as she remembered just what city she was headed towards. 'Even if it means, however briefly, dealing with the worst sorts of people.'
Ser Jorah had been concerned at first that she meant to get slaves for her army. There was no need for worry though as Daenerys shared the dislike for slavery the Lords of the Seven Kingdoms held. Perhaps even more so as she knew what it was like to have little choice in your destiny. From the moment she had been born until well into her marriage to Drogo she had been commanded in all things. What to wear, what to do, where to go, who to speak with. A princess must do this, behave in such a way, do no cry, do not whine, do as you are told Dany, do as I command Dany, you don't wish to anger the Dragon, do you? It had been a privileged life, that was true… she wouldn't claim otherwise. She hadn't been forced to toil in the fields or mine another man's wealth but still… she had held no freed of her own. So she understood what it meant to be a slave and she would not hold any of her own.
'But still, this is the only way,' she thought to herself as the city of Astapor grew closer.
Situated against the blues of the sky and sea were the red pyramids of Astapor, glorious even in their crumbling states. The structures, built layer upon layer of decreasing size, dwarfed everything else in the city so that one couldn't help but see their sun bleached crimson stones. Where once they had been a deep crimson now they had almost a pale pinkish hue from the sun and the winds constantly striking down upon there. While she knew that in reality the pyramids had gained their color thanks to the type of rock that had been used Dany couldn't help but imagine that it was the countless gallons of blood that had been split by the slaves tasked to build the monuments that dyed them red. And not just the pyramids but the walls and buildings as well. All red. All made by the hands of slaves. The city would have all been a bleed of scarlet had it not been for the many trees and vines and plants that grew upon the pyramids' terraces. These provided spots of green to break up the walls of red; Daenerys had been told by the sailors in Viktor's employ that the Good Masters of Astapor made it their mission to grow one type of plant from every city and kingdom in the world, so that they could be known as the true meeting place of all of humanity.
It amused her how every city in Essos tried to claim they were different from their brethren by thundering that they were the true meeting place of the world. Qarth, Astapor, Pentos, Braavos, Myr, Lys, and so many others. And yet they also looked down on others and claimed that they were better than foreigners.
Around the pyramids was a great fortification wall in the same dull crimson bricks. An imposing structure to be sure but one Dany wasn't worried about. Why did she need to fear a wall when she was invited in? And besides while the walls were impressive from far away one only needed to get close to them to see that their better days were far behind. They were crumbling and cracking, much like the rest of the city, and the watchtowers that Dany could see she knew were completely empty. The Good Masters had no need for guards for they were untouchable within their walls and any army or force that came before them would suffer. After all, it was their soldiers that had broken the Dothraki like none had ever before or since. Let an army come… they would face the same fate. So men were not wasted on the walls and the watchtowers and resources that should have gone towards repairs were instead spent in the many fighting pits and wine cellars that Daenerys knew lay within the city, all made of the same red bricks.
As the ship grew closer to the docks she could make out the great archway that led into the city, the Harpy that the people of Astapor worshiped as their god looking down upon all those that entered the city. A blend of a woman and a winged beast she was a mixture of horror and beauty, much like the city itself in Daenery's opinion. The high pretending they were something grand and beautiful when they were really hideous monsters that looked down on the people they preyed upon.
"You alright?" Logan asked, moving to stand next to her. He was wearing the leathers he'd worn to the House of the Undying, the brown and deep yellow gear though the cowl he left off for now. "Looked deep in thought."
"Apparently I get philosophical just before a campaign," she stated with a small smile.
"No second thoughts?" Logan asked.
"A lot of people are going to die because of you."
"Bad people," Daenerys said.
But Logan shook his head. "Not all bad. And some that are bad are so not by choice."
"There is always a choice," Daenerys argued, shooting him a look. "We choose to do good or do evil. To be cruel or kind. Those that claim otherwise are lying to themselves." She gestured towards the city. "Those that live there right now and don't like what the Good Masters are doing? They can stand up for themselves, they can fight back, they can say no more! But they don't, Logan. They allow evil men to do evil things."
"Like you did with your brother?" Logan asked.
Daenerys spun, body tensing but Logan merely stared her down.
"How many times did you allow him to hit you? To strike you because you were an easy target for him?" Logan folded his arms over his chest and locked eyes with her, refusing to be cowed into submission by her glare. "Your brother would become frustrated and he'd lash out at you, or a serving girl, or who knows how many others. Heh. I saw him do it, Khaalesi. I became your sword in part because of him."
"I stood up to my brother-"
"When you had power," Logan said, cutting her off. "When you had Khal Drogo behind you. When you had Jorah and me. But when you were weak? You let him do whatever he wished. Same as the people in that city." He scoffed. "Not everyone has dragons."
"He's right," Ser Jorah said, joining them. He was dressed in lighter armor, as was apparently his want when he traveled by ship. He'd told her of how he'd seen foolish men during the Greyjoy Rebellion don full plate to protect them from the short swords and arrows of the pirates and raiders… only to die in a few feet of surf when they tripped on the shoreline. His armor was light enough that he wouldn't sink like a stone and easy enough to remove that he would be able to shrug it away should the ship begin sinking and he needed to swim to shore. It resembled the training armor Daenerys had seen men wear in Pentos when working in the yard, with heavy leather chestpiece with bits of metal sewn into it, shoulder pads, thick gloves, and pouches that held all sorts of weapons and medicines should they be needed. "And you must not forget that for some of them this is how they've always lived. They have no understanding of why we might feel what they are doing is wrong."
"They are capturing people… children… and turning them into slaves. How could they-"
"Because their fathers did that, and their fathers, and their father's fathers." Jorah sighed, looking out over the water as he gathered his thoughts and Daenerys let him, curious as to what he might say to justify such actions. "We are a product of the lands we live in. The North will never be the Southern kingdoms. A man born in Pentos will be different from a person raised in Yi Ti. The Dothraki are not Braavosi. There are people in Astapor who are kind, gentle, and understanding … and they keep slaves. They see nothing wrong with this and you telling them that they are monsters will not change that. Before you came to the Dothraki did you ever eat horse? Put grease in your hair? Of course not… that wasn't how you were raised. Same with them."
Daenerys glowered at the two of them. "You have chosen a poor time to attempt to talk me out of this course of actions, as we are only moments away from landing on their shores."
"We aren't trying to talk you out of it," Logan rumbled. "But we want you to understand that when you do this… you will be killing innocent people."
Dany opened her mouth to protest but quickly snapped it shut before either of them could say a word. She grew quiet, pensive, staring out at the blood red stones that made the city of Slaver's Bay, considering just what her advisors were telling her. 'It is one thing to say you wish to save the world, to make it a better place. But to know that doing so will cost people their lives… and you won't be able to determine who truly does and doesn't deserve to die…' She shut her eyes. 'It makes the coming taste of victory much more bitter.' She remembered something Master Illyrio had told her, of how her ancestor Aegon the Conqueror had crafted the Iron Throne. Many looked upon it and thought it was such a twisted, hulking thing because he wished to intimidate his enemies. But that wasn't the case according to Master Illryio.
"He wanted it to be uncomfortable. That he had to be forever careful how he sat, where he placed his arms, how he positioned himself. That he never lean back or shift to one side or the other. That if he ever attempted to recline he would cut himself. Odd barbs throughout it, blades left sharp. The worst chair one could sit in. For a king should never be comfortable. Should never grow lax with power. For the moment they do they are no longer a king, they are a tyrant."
'And that is what Logan and Ser Jorah are doing; they are my Iron Throne. Reminding me that while I have this power I can not forget the cost of it, the pain it will bring others and myself. That my actions, even though they are for the good of the many, will harm some that don't deserve it. And that must be my burden.'
She looked at the city that had taken so many innocents and destroyed them.
"You spoke of my brother," she finally said as the sailors began to bark orders to get the ship ready to dock. "You said that I did not stand up to him till I had power to do so. You were right. But you were wrong in saying that the innocent do not have dragons." Her gaze narrowed and a smile formed on her lips. "I am their dragon."
Logan and Ser Jorah bowed as she moved towards her cabin, it clear that the conversation was over.
Inside she found her handmaidens finalizing the packing of her belongings but she sent them on their way, needing to focus instead on the three other occupants in the room. Her dragons had grown bigger since she'd left Qarth, as if the events of the House of the Undying had motivated them to become stronger so they might never be captured again. When the Warlocks had chained them they had been the size of cats but now they were as large as hunting dogs. She kept them in her cabin when they needed to rest but otherwise she allowed them to fly on their own, calling out encouragement as they dove towards the waves and nabbed fish from the churning waters, tossing them up and burning them with their flames before swallowing them whole. Their smooth scales had become coarser with spines forming and armor thickening but no matter what they were her darling children.
"Come here," she said with a smile, sitting down on the floor and motioning for her babies to gather around her. The three dragons slinked over to her, Rhaegal placing his head on lap, Viserion sliding to her left, and Drogan curling up on her right side. "We are going to be playing a trick on the Good Masters and if it is going to work you must do as I ask." Ever since the Tower of the Undying Daenerys had been trying to talk to them more like human children rather than how one would treat a beast. She had always realized that her children were smart, that she and they held a connection far greater than any Targaryen had held with their dragons before, and it was only proper to talk with them as she would a little boy or girl. "You won't like it at first but that's why I want to explain what we are doing… and why."
The three looked at her and she began to stroke Drogan's head; in Dany's mind she could practically hear all three wanting to know what it was and if it would be fun.
"We are about to reach Astapor, the city I was telling you about. There are people there, the Good Masters, who take other people and enslave them. That's like what the Warlocks did to you three. Put chains on them, force them to do as they wish." All three dragons rumbled and hissed at that, remembering well the fear and rage they'd felt from their capture. "We are going to free them but to do so we have to play a little trick. Drogan," she looked towards the largest of her children, "I am going to put a collar around you and give you to the Good Masters. They are foolish and believe that one can own a dragon. But we know that's wrong, don't we?" She scratched him under his chin, smiling at how he leaned into her touch. "When I give the command you'll break free and fly up into the sky. That's when you two," Rhaegal and Viseron perked up, "will fly in and join him.
"Now," she said sternly, "you are ONLY to hurt the Good Masters. And only hurt them when I say. We hurt our enemies… we do not kill anyone we wish. Those that help us, that are our subjects? We protect them. Because they will in turn protect us. They are like our handmaidens… you wouldn't hurt them because then who would provide you with water when you wish to drink or a place to rest when you are sleepy? Logan and Ser Jorah came to the House of the Undying to save you… our subjects will do the same, should you ever be in trouble. That is why we only hurt our enemies." She swept her eyes over the three, making sure to enforce this command. "Do you understand?"
The three dragons growled their agreements and she rose, selecting the leather collar she'd had made for Drogan, which he had been wearing at night to grow used to it, and slipped it on before motioning for him to follow. The two of them emerged from the deck and two of her handmaidens, knowing that they were to release her other children once they were out of sight, moved once more into the room. Looking out into the bay she could see the other ships that Viktor had given to her remaining a safe distance for the shore; close enough that the Good Masters wouldn't question why they hadn't docked but far enough away to get her khaalasar away should things go wrong. Going with her to meet the slavers were Ser Jorah, Logan, and two of her remaining bloodriders. One of whom took a leather leash attached to Drogan's collar and held it firmly. The black dragon was amused and allowed the rider to 'guide' him along, much to Dany's relief. It would sell the deception that Drogan could be 'tamed'.
"I can't decide if I am pleased that we haven't been met by soldiers with bared swords… or disappointed that they don't fear me after what happened with Qarth," she commented as they disembarked.
"Any fight that can be avoided is preferable, khaalesi," Ser Jorah muttered, scanning the docks carefully for tricks or traps.
"Of course," Daenerys stated, "but it also means they do not respect me or my strength."
"It's probably because they think ol' Doomie is the one that did everything in Qarth," Logan stated.
Daenerys glowered at that, remembering her trip through the House of the Undying and her fear that she would never be seen as her own woman, instead being compared to the men in her life. 'I am not Viktor's student. I am the one that slayed the Warlocks and burned their tower to the ground.' She watched as the slaves that manned the docks barely glanced at her and their masters merely regarded her with curiosity. 'This is not how a queen should be greeted. Cheers from my subjects and fearful respect from my enemies. These Good Masters… they see me as a child, naive and unable to lead, merely a source of coin for them.' She could feel the fire she now kept forever burning in her belly swell at the thought. 'They will pay for that mistake.'
Arriving at the archway that led into the city proper Daenerys found one of the Good Masters standing with a dark skinned slave girl. The man was dressed in breezy thin clothes of cream and green, with multiple layers that seemed designed only to get caught in the wind and create a more dramatic silhouette. His bald head was oiled so that it shone in the afternoon light and his neatly trimmed beard was oiled as well so that it gleamed. Pointed shoes were upon his feet and in his hands he held an ornate short staff that Daenerys knew represented the 'whip'; the slavers of Astapor were so mighty that they didn't even need to whip their own slaves, instead elevating others to do it for them from the imprisoned ranks; even then it was so rare to need to whip a slave, other than the freshly arrived ones. Already he was calculating her, considering her, weighing how much she was worth and if she could be broken. That was part of the reason she'd decided to not just merely use Viktor's gold but also Drogan in this exchange, for if the slavers decided that she was better suited to be a pillow girl sold to Lys her child would be able to defend her.
The slave girl was a stark contrast to her master. Of average height but she gained several inches thanks to her curly, frizzy hair that poofed out all about her head. Her skin was darker than most Dany had ever seen save for a stark patch of pure white around her left eye. She wore a top that was made of tan ribbons that dug into her skin and did more to showcase her breasts than to hide them. Her lower half was covered with a thin dress that Dany could nearly see through and from the way the Good Master would occasionally reach out and stroke her backside Dany imagined it must have felt like being naked. And around her neck was a thick collar that forced her to keep her head pointed forward, never letting her drop her chin lest she cut into the soft flesh of her jaw.
"Look at this stupid silver-haired whore," the Good Master stated with a pleasant smile to the slave, speaking in High Valyrian. Daenerys forced herself not to smirk, more amused than insulted by his insults. Clearly he was the fool if he didn't think one with the blood of Old Valyria wouldn't know her mother tongue. "She dresses like a boy. I was told I was meeting with a woman, not some child whose balls hadn't even dropped. Perhaps she is one… a boy with no cock who prefers to claim to be a woman to hide his shame. Greet her now."
"Good tidings and good greetings to you, Daenerys Targaryen, from the most kind and humble Kraznys mo Nakloz. He asks if your trip went well."
Daenerys, with a pleasant smile on her own face, stated, "It was very pleasant until I landed in this place and had to watch a woman be brutalized by a greedy man. But tell him it was fine." Ser Jorah raised an eyebrow at that but thankfully did little else to clue Kraznys that she hadn't said anything other than pleasant things. Logan and the bloodriders tensed in case the slave girl repeated the threat but Daenerys wasn't concerned.
"She says that she had a pleasant journey and is thankful to see our beautiful city after such a journey."
Kraznys, still with the most humble of looks, stated, "Of course she is. She is used to smelling horse shit when she isn't deep throating her mount's cock. Tell her to come along now… if she doesn't keep up I will sell her to goat fuckers who dwell near Old Ghys in order to buy a new pair of slippers."
"Master Kraznys asks that you follow him, so he might give you a tour of the city."
Dany nodded and set out, the rest of her group following. "He does not speak any of the common tongue?"
"She asked about the history of the statue above the arch," the slave said.
"Tell her whatever she wants. I am not her fucking guide and she won't be staying long enough to even develop a taste for our arts. The sooner she is gone the sooner we can sell her out to her enemies. Get her to tell you where she will go next so we might sell the information to them."
As they passed by another statue of the harpie goddess the slave gestured towards it. "No, he does not."
"As I thought."
"The Good Masters think it below them to learn any tongue other than the highest. Once the son of Kraznys used the word 'water' rather than 'Iēdar'. The boy was beaten and sold to Myr to serve as billows runner."
Kraznys looked to them. "Why did the cum sucker ask about water? If she needs something to drink she can partake of my cock. Tell her how delicious it is… you know well yourself, do you not?"
"I do, Master," the slave girl said, dropping her eyes. "She wondered about the fountains… she heard we had beautiful ones."
It was rather amusing to hear him curse and mock her while keeping his tone so kind and gentle. "Of course we do, though the only fountain she is used to seeing is when that hairy beast behind her pisses on her so she might wash her hair."
To Dany she said, as she acted like she was passing on more information about the city, "That is why I am kept around. I am trained to be their voice in these matters." She gestured towards her eye. "That is what my slave mark means, that I am the eyes and mouth between the Good Masters and the common man."
"Not that they call us that," Daenerys stated. "You hate him, don't you?" The girl didn't even need to answer, the flash of her eyes told the tale. "Has everything been arranged as I requested?"
"It has. They were surprised that you agreed to the sale without seeing the soldiers and as such you have been cheated. They have charged you three times as much as what the soldiers are worth. Though they would have charged you double anyway because you are a woman and not from Essos. They also plan to betray you."
"I'd be disappointed if they hadn't; it is much like with factions in Qarth and their messengers, isn't it?" Dany said with a smirk, catching Ser Jorah's eye. He nodded ever so slightly, making it clear he understood what was going on and fell back to warn the bloodriders while Logan continued on near her, it taking all his willpower not to gut the Good Master that had insulted her so. "Tell me, what is your name?"
"A moment," the slave girl stated before focusing on Kraznys. "She asks what she may call me, Good Master. What name have you given me today? Or shall I tell her my true name?"
"You have not earned the right to be called your true name!" Kraznys said, a touch of fire in his words even as he remained a picture of serenity. They were moving through a market square, passing by fountains carved from massive blocks of stone depicting bowing slaves worshiping a Good Master who stood high above them. The slaves had looks of utter devotion and adulation on their faces while the Good Master stared skyward, not needing to look at his stone slaves. "Today you are Tymptir Tegītsos again. Tell the whore that." Turning his back to them he muttered, "Never have I seen a whore use her tongue so much when it wasn't cleaning my shaft."
"You may call me Tymptir Tegītsos, khaalesi."
"Tymptir Tegītsos?" Dany asked. "Game Rock?"
There was a slight stutter in the slave's step but thankfully the Good Master wasn't looking at them. "You speak-"
"I do. I have heard every word." She looked about as if she were taking in the sights, the slave now hiding her own shock that Daenerys had understood all. "Why did you ask about your name 'today'?"
"Slaves are given a new name each day, khaalesi," the slave girl stated. "When we are brought to Astapor our true names are taken from us. Some may earn them back, if they do well and achieve high honor for their masters. Most though only get to keep the name they were given that day. They are given to remind us how low we truly are… and taken away each night so that we understand we have nothing without the grace of the Good Masters. Not even a name."
They began to head up a small hill and Daenerys could see the tall walls of a great coliseum in the distance. "But why Game Rock?"
"Each kind of slave received a type of name befitting their position. Bed slaves are named after parts of the body… Nipple, Lips, Vagina, Cock, so forth. Fieldhands and miners for tools… Hammer, Sickle, Spade. The Unsullied are named after vermin… Mouse, Rat, Ant… with colors to help separate them further. For the tutors, scribes, and translators we are named after items found in games, to remind us that no matter how smart we are we are merely pieces with no control of ourselves. Dice. Card. Rabble."
"So Game Rock…?" Daenerys asked.
"They lack a word in their tongue for the game played with tiles and dots, though they do enjoy it. Game Rock is a favorite name of theirs for me… due to my mark." She gestured at the white tattoo around her eye. "In the Common Tongue my name is Domino."
"Domino… it is a better name than Game Rock," Daenerys said as they grew closer to the coliseum.
"It is a lucky name," the newly christened Domino answered. "I wasn't supposed to translate today but the slave who would have walked with you, a broken thing that is loyal to the Good Masters and would have revealed your insults without hesitation, fell ill. Food poisoning. Thus I am here. Though I do not know why just yet. Luck has always guided my life, though I never know where it is leading me to."
Daenerys was startled by that. There was no trace of sarcasm of cynicism in her comment. "But you are a slave."
"I almost died before I was brought here. My home was attacked repeatedly by bandits and marauders and while they killed everyone else I knew I was spared because a warlord's horse went lame and he needed the money to buy a new one. I was selected to be a translator rather than something far worse purely because I read a sign. Luck guides me in odd ways and takes me where I am needed… and today it has allowed me to meet you. And I believe you might be very lucky yourself."
Dany smiled at that as they passed under an arch where Unsullied guards, dressing in their black leather armor and holding their spears and rounded shields, stood unmoving like statues. "I believe you will find out soon enough, Domino."
"What are you two talking about? She works her mouth like a cow chewing on grass." Kraznys turned his head and smiled back at Daenerys, waving his hand towards the Unsullied that stood watch over them. "Tell the talkative cunt about how well we train our soldiers. Perhaps we can trick her into giving us more money."
Domino nodded. "Of course, Master." She looked to Dany. "Please tell me you have a plan to feed this bastard his own balls. The gods above and below know I'm sick of seeing them."
"I do," Dany said, looking at the Unsullied and making it appear that she was discussing how impressive they were. That part wasn't hard to fake; while the warriors were far more lithe and lean than her bloodriders there was a hidden grace in them that she could see even when they were standing completely still. They reminded her of Drogo, how he could be sitting on a bench with a relaxed air only to spring into deadly action in the blink of an eye. She knew that these soldiers had been trained, brutally so, to work together in devastation proficiency in order to follow their master's commands to the letter. "Are they truly as impressive as he claims? If they are ask him about their training."
"The Westerosi woman is pleased with them, but says nothing specifically so to keep the price down. She asks of their training."
Dany turned her head, so not to risk allowing her smile at that confirmation to show, as Kraznys spoke. "Tell her only what she needs to know. The day is hot and I do not wish to waste it speaking with pale-skinned whores who use their mouths for all the wrong purposes. Her tongue should be tickling my asshole and not wagging on about things dumb cunts can't understand."
"I assume you do not care about the actual training so I will save you the drivel that the Good Masters have us tell buyers. Instead I wish to inform you that when I was first captured from my homelands the slaver who first began my training before I was brought here thought I would make a grand assassin and trained me how to fight. But he died before we arrived in Astapor when he tripped on a fish and fell overboard and thus I was able to become a translator before they butchered my womb, having no knowledge of my skills. I can fight for you khaalesi, if you will have me."
"The riders have been informed to wait for your signal, khaalesi," Ser Jorah stated. "But they are not happy that this man clearly insults you. They wonder why we have not killed him now and been done with it."
"What did the old man who smells like piss say?"
Domino meekly looked at her master but Dany was coming to see that the submissive attitude was all a front, an act to keep herself safe. The translator had iron in her that the Good Masters hadn't been able to shatter. No, they had turned it to steel. "I stated that the Unsullied fear nothing and he stated that all men fear death."
"I am not surprised. He is a warrior from Westeros. Those bastards piss themselves when fighting savages with sticks. Tell the coward that the Unsullied are not men."
She did just that as they walked through the coliseum, passing by other Good Masters and their tamed slaves going about their business. Daenerys sadly realized that she would have to kill some of those slaves because they were so broken that they would fight for their masters even if it meant continued enslavement, for that was the only life they knew and they had no will to seek out the unknown… even if it meant a better life.
They finally emerged into the great open field of the arena, the sands pounded hard by the many boots of men and boys that had been trained there. Standing before her were 8,000 Unsullied, lined up in perform formation, unmoving even in the heat of the sun and their black armor, their staffs held firm and their shields, despite their weight, never waivering. The few that had been waiting for her above the arch marched in and joined the rest, completing the great army that laid before her. A few of the Good Masters, lower in status than Master Kraznys, moved about the soldiers to ensure that they did not falter for even a moment, to ensure that not a single one disrespected Astapor by becoming lax in their training. It was a powerful sight that made her stomach rise up to her throat and then plummet down to her toes. It was one thing to discuss it through messengers in the safety of Viktor's solar… it was another to be here and see it.
"Is this all of them or has he hidden any from me?" Dany asked. This was the final piece, the part that would determine the ease of her plan. If they had kept a battalion for themselves then it would mean the loss of soldiers on her part, weakening her before she even left Astapor. 'But I am gambling on them being greedy and shortsighted, all of these Good Masters seeing me as this Kraznys does and believing me no threat.' "If this is all of them, Domino, then ask him if he is has prepared men to care for the dragon he believes he will receive. If it is not then ask him about their armor." She waved her hand in the direction of the Unsullied.
"She is thankful that you and she have been able to arrange this agreement." Domino paused and Daenerys held her breath. "She has brought the dragon with her, to show that she is not false in her part of the agreement, of the gold and gems are being unloaded from the docks." In reality they were not, at least not all of them. The chests had the tops of them covered in gems but below that layer were rocks that the Dothraki children had gathered before they set sale. It would be enough to fool the Astapor slavers… for a little while. And that was all she needed. "Do you have the men that will accept the dragon now?"
For the first time Kraznys' words and features matched each other. "I will take the dragon now, myself. I do not trust another to claim this prize."
"He will take the dragon now," Domino stated. "Are you pleased?"
"I will be when you step away from him by about 5 feet," Daenerys stated, motioning for her bloodrider to bring Drogan forward. She could tell her child was getting impatient, seemingly sensing that the bald man had insulted her. Kraznys wouldn't notice it, for to him the dragon was a stupid creature that could be cowed and beaten into performing tricks on command. But her children were smart, far smarter than the Good Masters, and Drogan knew the time was near at hand.
Domino did as she asked, making her movements look utterly submissive and keep her eyes down and her hands spread out as she gave a bow. Dany saw out of the corner of her eye Logan flick a finger out towards a standard guard, a slave most likely but not an Unsullied, and the way Domino looked at his weapon it was clear what he was signaling her about.
Kraznys was blathering on about her selling him slaves of the boys and girls that she captured in Westeros, about how they might make a deal to have the Good Masters train them to be Unsullied themselves or other roles and that Daenerys might either receive them back at a lower rate or gain back the wealth she gave for her 8000 Unsullied before her. She took the leash from the bloodrider and slowly passed it to Kraznys, her other hand taking the ceremonial whip from him. Only when each held the other's item did they let go, Drogan making a great show of screeching and flapping his wings. Had she not her understanding of him she might have thought him scared and that would have broken her heart. Instead she had to turn to hide her smile as he called out in her mind, "Now? May I do it now?"
"Is it done then? Are they mine to command?"
"is it done?"
"It is done. She holds the whip." Kraznys grinned even as he fought against Drogan's struggles. "This bitch has her army."
Daenerys stepped forward, holding out the whip, hating that she needed to use it but understanding it was a minor evil. "Unsullied! I hold the whip! I command you! March forward!"
As one they did as commanded.
It showed how utterly clueless the Good Masters were that they didn't notice she gave the commands in High Valyrian.
Kraznys growled as he tugged on the leash. "Tell the whore the dragon won't come!"
Danenerys turned though and smiled maliciously at the slaver. "A dragon is not a slave. Drogan… now."
The Good Master didn't even realize that the young dragon had snapped the leash and was now flying into the sky, his attention only on Dany as his face flushed with realization and shock. "You speak Valyrian?"
"I am Daenerys Firestar of House Targaryen, of the blood of Old Valyria, Mother of Dragons, Vanquisher of the House of the Undying. Valyrian is my mother tongue." She watched him, refusing to break away her gaze, as she called out, "Unsullied! Slay the Good Masters! Slay the soldiers who defend them! Slay any man who holds a whip! But spare the children! Strike of the chains of any slave you see!" Ser Jorah drew his sword and high above her Dany heard Drogan screech and shoot off a ball of flames. Logan barked at the bloodriders to attack and the Dothraki let out their war screams.
"I am your master!" Kraznys cried out as an Unsullied leapt from the ranks, drove his spear through the back of a Good Master that had been walking among the ranks, and then returned to formation. Others soon followed, hearing not a single command the desperate man gave as other Unsullied marched forward towards them. "Kill her! Kill her! Kill her!"
Daenerys spun around, held out her right hand, and smirked as she heard the flint in her bracer scratch and spark .
A stream of flames shot out, the head of it taking on the form of a bestial mouth and Kraznys had time to scream before the inferno creature snapped its jaws around him, lifting him off his feet and sending his screeching burning body crashing into the archway. Behind her men cried out as the Unsullied thrust their spears into their bellies and throats and Dany whipped her right hand, releasing Kraznys and sending his charred body to the ground, his form twitching in death throes. Her flames continued onto the wall of the coliseum, transforming into a horse made of orange flames that galloped along the walkway, incinerating all in its path. Ser Jorah swung and attacked a soldier that was rushing towards them, beheading him before moving onto the next while Logan delivered an uppercut to one panicked Good Master, his claws bursting from his skin the moment his knuckles struck the man's jaw, driving his unbreakable claws into the man's skull and brain. One Good Master upon the wall had grabbed a crossbow to try and strike her before her flame horse could get to him but then Rhaegal dove down, Viserion joining him in burning the threat to their mother. His shot went wild, piercing a soldier in the throat and causing him, in turn, to fling his sword out, Domino catching it and slicing the throat of a Astapor slaver that had come at her with hands grasping for her throat. She kicked him away and his body struck a bronze pole that held a banner upon it, the thing toppling and striking a lever near one of the entryways to their left, causing gate to slam down just as a few soldiers were racing in to try and gain control of the madness. Dany watch, rather surprised and impressed, as the gate's sharp spikes impaled two of the soldiers, their bodies causing those behind them to begin to trip and fall, their weapons somehow flipping out of their hands and hacking off pieces of themselves.
"Luck," Domino teased before returning to slaying her former masters.
Good Masters fell to the ground, begging for their lives, buy Daenerys only had to remember all the threats Kraznys had made along with his bold claims of what he would do to innocent children to harden her heart. She raised her hand and the flaming horse turned into a giant representation of her own palm and fingers, and when she thrust her arm down the giant flaming appendage drove down like a wrathful god, consuming the Good Masters who whimpered and screamed. Others tried to fight but their decadent lives had caused their bodies to become weak and their skills to be utterly limited and they fell to the Unsullied. Logan roared as he lashed out, shrugging off feeble blows as he cut through the more heavily armored soldiers, ensuring they didn't get near the Unsullied. Ser Jorah and the bloodriders hacked their way towards slave women that were cowering in fright, moving to protect them in case a Good Master sought a final revenge for their deaths. Domino moved about the killing field with ease, and whenever Daenerys saw her it seemed that a single action from her caused a chain of death and pain for her enemies and salvation and miracles for her allies. Drogan dove down, his brothers just behind, and torched any that tried to seek highground away from them.
As for herself Daenerys called upon the flames, bringing them too her and swirling them about her palm. She tucked the whip into her belt before she gathered the fire in both her hands and then thrust her arms downward, using the flames to rise into the air and propel her over the great wall of the coliseum and into the street below, at the head of her army as they marched out.
"Take this city from the slavers! Wipe it clean of them!" she roared, summoning the flames around her before firing it out in two great waves. It was the last thing the slavers saw before she turned their red stone houses into ovens, cooking them alive. She knew that it would cost her greatly to do this, that she would need much rest and food to regain her strength after such a display, but she didn't mind the payment for she needed the slaves to see just who fought for them.
When the sun finally set Astapor was a smoking ruin. The outer walls had cracked and broken all the more under the intense heat of her flames, the streets were filled with corpses that would soon begin to bloat in the sun, and the wealth of the slavers had been taken and loaded into her ships, ready to be taken out and protected to fuel the rest of her campaign. Everything of value had been stripped from the city so that thieves and bandits who stumbled upon it would only find it an empty mausoleum for the dead. Daenerys rode on a liberated horse, Ser Jorah to her left with a new shield she had given him from the spoils, Domino close by with her collar struck off and her clothing replaced with black leather riding pants and a matching vest, and Logan to her right in his torn leathers and a wineskin in his hands. Daenerys spared one final look at Astapor, the smoking ruin left completely empty, its wealth divided amongst her ships for some to go to Viktor as repayment and the rest to go to the Iron Bank to begin building her fortune, before looking upon the Unsullied that stood before her.
"Unsullied! You have been slaves all your lives! I have not asked you to trade one master for another! I free you now! If you wish to leave, to make lives for your own, you may do so. But if you will have me I will command you and lead you into battle, to destroy the rest of Slaver's Bay and ensure no other will suffer as you have! Will you join me?"
There was silence… until one Unsullied began to beat his spear upon the dusty ground, and soon all 8000 strong were doing the same, the message clear. Daenerys nodded, already feeling the weariness soaking into her bones as she longed for food and rest, but before that there was a final thing to do. She took the ceremonial whip from her belt, looked upon it… before tossing it into the air and burning it with her flames, turning it to ash.