Sixth Moon, 121 AC

Jacaerys

Baela was sweating heavily as she concentrated. On the table between them both, a tall and black obsidian candle stood, twisted with dark sharp edges and an unpleasantly bright light that glowed from the top of the candle's flame, doing strange things to the colors in the room. White was as bright as fresh fallen snow, yellow shone like gold, reds had turned to flames, and shadows were so black they were like holes in the world, devouring all.

"Focus," he called out.

"I'm trying!" Baela bit out.

"Try harder," Jace rebuked gently. "It's like commanding an unruly dragon. You need to bend it to your will. The candle answers to you, you master it not the other way around. Do not let it take you on a wild ride around the world."

Jace was not without sympathy for his wife. When he had first learned how to use glass candles all those years ago, he had struggled himself. They were deceptively simple to use but in practice, the candles seemed to have a mind of their own. They were almost too powerful, stretching their reach across the whole world and some rumored, even into the past and future.

Trying to make the candle focus on specific regions to observe or astral project to, specific candles to communicate with, or specific people and their dreams to manipulate, was almost a task in futility, especially the lattermost which was near impossible. Not just finding the needle in the haystack, but guiding the needle through the haystack to go in one end and out the other without ever seeing it. Small wonder then that many who had failed to master the candles had ended up going insane.

Not that Jace was going to let that happen though. He placed his right hand comfortingly on Baela's left arm as her wrists were raised upright from the table to help her project her will into the candle. Technically the hand gesture was unnecessary but it did make things suitably dramatic and visually impressive to an outside watcher and practically it helped the user of the candle focus their will on the candle.

Thankfully, Baela did not reject his comforting hand as he was half afraid she would, either because she was too focused to do so or she was willing to accept his affections. There had been a period of time that lasted several months after she had learned the truth that she would reject all manner of physical affection and comfort from him. Fortunately, she was willing to accept some these days but he was still afraid that the slightest mistake could break their fragile and reforming bond. Even now, ten months after the truth had come out, they still weren't sleeping in the same bed.

Jace had no intention of pressuring her before she was ready. It was painful to go from having her unconditional love and her in his arms every night to this strange and artificial distance, but he would accept it. He had feared he would lose her forever at one point. Having her distant but cautiously willing to forgive him was more than he could have hoped for.

Baela was right after all. She had admitted to him once, that rationally she understood why he had done what he did, that perhaps if she was in his place, she would have done what he did. He had done everything correctly, everything that he was supposed to do in the position that he had been, politically, strategically, even morally for the protection of his family.

But they had both agreed that none of that changed that he had let her down. He was her husband and he had failed her and lied to her. Rationally Baela knew that he had done the right thing, but humans were creatures of emotion not rationality. Even if she tried to will herself to forgive him, she just couldn't do so easily or quickly. It would poison their relationship.

So they would take it slow. Baela had given him a list of her conditions and Jace had been working to fulfill them. The first naturally had been to tell her in detail all of their contingency plans for war with the Targaryens, or the Dance as they had code named it long ago, as well as the reasons for taking the Triarchy and details on all their Conch operations in Westeros. He knew all too well that Baela meant to learn all she could so she could hold him to his promise that their plans for war with her family were strictly defensive in nature and they were not going to launch preemptive strikes but he didn't see the problem in that.

He genuinely had no plans to launch a preemptive strike, or even to expand their territories any further until after the Dance. And he knew Baela becoming involved in the planning of the war and training for it alongside them would prepare her for it, emotionally, mentally, and physically. She might not have truly accepted war was coming yet, but both of them knew whose side she would take if it did ultimately. It was in all of their interests if she was ready when the time came.

In line with that, Baela's second condition had been that he teach her himself about the magic they had learned from the secrets of Gogossos, the magic they had clearly been using to coordinate their operations, and he had been all too eager to please. Their progress was slow as both of them were busy with work consolidating the Triarchy and overseeing its transition away from slavery and into Velaryon rule, but it was still being made… sometimes.

After focusing for another five minutes in vain, Baela gave up with a frustrated scream, letting her concentration slip as the candle's glow faded before sinking back into her seat and leaning back, pulling her hand away from his. "I give up. This is too hard. Why don't we practice some fire magic instead?"

Jace smiled. Baela had taken to pyromancy like a fish to water, or perhaps a dragon to a volcano was a better term. It made sense. Just like him, Baela's soul blazed and burned. She was fire made flesh, passion made woman, and he loved her for it, even when it was turned on him. Still, she really did need to master the glass candles. Pyromancy may have its uses in dragon duels (they were still experimenting with that and it was hard to do so while keeping it secret from the Targaryens) but glass candles and their usage were absolutely essential to their overall strategy and plans to win a war against the Targaryens, who even now, still outnumbered them in the number of dragons they possessed.

"Later Baela. Come on. Focus, I'll help you this time, alright?" Jace prodded at her.

Baela groaned but conceded. Jace repositioned himself to sit right beside her and did his best not to think of how close she was to him, or how warm her skin felt on his. Baela let her hold his left hand as he turned his right to face upwards, almost as if it was reaching out to grasp the candle from afar. Jace cast his mind out and felt it connect with the candle.

Instantly the candle lit up, glowing from the tip once again with that unpleasantly bright fire. Whites became painfully bright, like the light of noon reflecting off fresh snow. Yellows shone like gold, reds burned like flames, and blacks became holes that consumed the world. Jace closed his eyes to block out the real world and let himself focus on what the candle was showing him.

In his mind's eye, he saw everything. Mountains, forests, cities, seas, and more. Dark terrors one should never witness flashed into the fiery blaze of lava and magma in the heart of a volcano. Lands both familiar and not, cities both dear and foreign, all zoomed by as the glowing light of the candle took him for a wild ride around the world in an attempt to drive him mad.

"Enough!" He shouted in his mind. This ended here. He did not ask, he demanded. The candle bent to his will and froze. The visions halted and Jace had achieved what he desired, centering the candle's gaze on his own location to view himself from outside his body, almost like looking from the eyes of another creature in the room.

Even now he could feel the candle straining against his will, desiring to fly free and cast its gaze upon the whole world and everything in it at once but Jace restrained it, imagining it being chained to his location as he used the candle's power to draw Baela into his view.

"Close your eyes Baela," he told her as he pulled her in and they both gasped.

They had done this before but it still felt fresh and unique every time they did it. A little similar to the bonds they had with their dragons but even more raw and intimate than that. To use a glass candle at the same time, their minds would be connected in order for them to see the same things. And when their minds were linked like this, there was no hiding anything from each other.

In each other's minds, they felt the full breath of their feelings for each other, for everything. Ironically enough, despite the strain in their relationship, they understood each other now more than ever before. Jace felt for himself Baela's pain and hurt from his lies and lack of trust in her, he felt and saw her mistrust and dislike for his parents, her fears and misgivings about the war to come, her love for her family, her parents, siblings, their children, and him, even now, even still.

On her part, Jace knew what she must feel from him. His genuine regrets that he had lied to her, that there had been no other way, his sincere assurances that there were no more secrets between them, that he would love her until the day he died. He knew that she could see and feel his own love for his family and their children, for her, his own fears and worries for the Dance.

But they did not speak on those feelings. Instead Jace let Baela feel what he did, the measure and direction of the willpower he used as he forced the candle's view to move as he desired. He knew from experience that it would be nigh impossible to guide the candle out from their room into the rest of Zaldilaros Palace, it was too detailed, too specific to keep control of for long and his will was not that indomitable to keep it leashed there. However, the candle would obey him gladly if he relented a little and he did so, letting it zoom out so to speak from the room where it viewed both of them to high above in the sky where they surveyed all of Tyrosh from a bird's eye view.

From there Jace guided the candle's view to survey over the world, on occasion zooming in at great cost to his mental strength and willpower. Baela thankfully, with his guidance was able to provide him with some aid in that, lending her strength to his. They surveyed over the whole world, seeing even into lands unknown briefly, though the lands beyond the confines of the Known World were unclear and vague to them due their lack of knowledge of them.

They watched Volantis for a time and then moved to Lys and Myr which were being rebuilt under their rule, even taking note of the progress on some of their projects before even their combined will could not keep the candle's view zoomed in for long. Eventually they moved to Westeros, watching Summerhall, High Tide, King's Landing, and Dragonstone. Baela tried to hide it but Jace knew that she was thinking of how their Conches were doing this very thing right now, keeping a watchful eye on these locations at all times if possible in preparation for the Dance.

Jace took care to avoid certain locations, locations that his father had warned him against and that he knew from experience trying to look upon was a bad idea. Yeen and basically all of the Green Hell was out of the question, as were the Lands of Always Winter, the Doom of Valyria, and Asshai and Stygai and the whole Shadowlands. Dark and twisted things lurked in those places and drawing their notice with a glass candle was a terrible idea, some of their Conches had had their minds ravaged and broken even attempting to look into those forbidden places.

Some other locations were also hard to see even if there was no danger in attempting, as the magic imbued in their walls and foundations seemed to interfere with the glass candles. This included castles such as Dragonstone, Storm's End, Winterfell, and the Hightower in Oldtown in Westeros alone, but Essos had many such fortresses and regions.

They also had to be careful to ensure they were not detected by other glass candle users across the world. While Westeros' Maesters may be unable to use the candles to their full potential and the Targaryens ignorant of their power, the same could not be said of a wide array of warlocks, witches, and others across Essos.

Eventually they grew tired and could force their will on the candle no more. Unlike the Conches, some of whom actually had the sole duty to use these candles and monitor the world constantly, they used them far less often and thus their stamina and willpower was weaker, something they would have to train to correct before the Dance came.

For now however, they could not stop the inevitable. As the candle strained against their will and threatened to fly freely across the world and send them into a turbulent and chaotic mix of images and visions once more, they separated their minds from it… and from each other. As their souls cried out in protest at their separation from each other's minds and loves, the candle continued to glow unpleasantly and warp the colors of the room. Jace shut it off with a wave of his hand and the glow instantly faded.

Looking at the clock, Jace was not surprised to find that only half an hour had passed. The glass candles did strange things to one's perception of time once they were fully immersed in the visions and views they provided. He could feel the sweat all over his body now, it must have come from his intense concentration. He leaned back in his chair and rested a little, his mind tired from using the glass candle.

It was not long before he noticed Baela shifting in her seat to look at him however. He resisted a small smile at the sight as he turned to look at her as well. Part of why he had accepted Baela's second condition so easily, even eagerly, was this. The chance to link his mind with hers through the glass candle and make sure both of them truly understood each other. He had learned a lot about her and she him. He was confident enough to say that only her pride and lingering hurt and distrust kept her from fully forgiving him, not anything rational or truly controllable.

Of course, since she saw into his mind as much he saw into hers, she knew exactly what he had been hoping for. It gave her mixed feelings; he knew that for certain, made her hesitate to forgive him if it was all according to his plan. It disappointed Jace but there was nothing he could do about that either. All he could do was share everything with her and hoped that that would be enough.

There were no more uncertainties or question marks between them anymore, no more secrets and lies, to use a glass candle together was one of the greatest acts of intimacy and trust that there could be, it was to make yourself fully open to another, to let them see every part of you, every secret you had, every private thought you had always wanted to keep to yourself.

Small wonder then that even lovers rarely were willing to use glass candles together. It was his gift to her, his recompense for his lack of trust for all those years. And she would not admit it, but he knew that she was glad for it. It was one thing to hear words of love from your beloved, another entirely to feel the love they felt for you in their very mind and being.

The after effects they were feeling from that rush of love and affection were stronger than usual. Both of them had progressed in their mastery of the candles, no matter how slowly, and that had allowed them to exert their will on it longer than they normally did, keep their minds connected longer than they had ever been before.

As he and Baela continued to stare at each other, Jace felt himself consumed with a desire to recreate that connection, that intimacy, in the only way he knew how. He felt a lust and hunger burning in his soul and knew that it was mirrored in Baela's eyes as their lips met.

It was their first proper kiss in months. Not a forced and chaste peck on the lips to maintain the pretense of unity and domestic bliss to their children and the courtiers, not a hesitant but genuine kiss on the cheek as they both stumbled to try and rebuild the shattered connection they had had. No this was raw, hungry, and lustful as they both sought to devour each other, their tongues battling as they deepened the kiss and tasted of each other.

Their passions were burning hot and both of them were quickly becoming aroused when Baela broke the kiss forcibly. For a moment Jace felt the sting of rejection and he pulled away. He had overstepped he knew, Baela was not ready to be intimate with him yet.

Yet he felt hope stir in his heart seeing a look of mischief instead of reprimand in her mesmerizing purple eyes. "Fire magic," she said simply.

Jace only laughed though the laugh was bitter at least in part. Perhaps she was still punishing him, both for his initial hurt of her and then his crafty plan afterward to try and lure her back to his side, perhaps she was simply being mischievous and teasing him as she once did, a sign that their relationship was slowly but surely being repaired. Perhaps she was doing both. Whatever the case, he loved her, he always would, and he could not bring himself to begrudge her this.

"Alright. Let's go," Jace said, grabbing the candle.

Baela almost bounced happily and quite adorably as they walked to the neighboring training hall, which was sealed with stone and mortar that had been fireproofed as much as possible.

Their private magic training session were almost always held in the basement of Zaldilaros Palace, secure from any prying eyes or spies. The Tide Guard watched the entrances and all the materials were kept safely locked when they were done using them. Many of the artifacts and tomes they had retrieved from Gogossos years ago had been stored in various vaults inside the Black Fortress, including here, beneath the palace.

Unfortunately, they did not understand the vast majority of the magic they taught and much of it they had deemed too dangerous to even risk testing right now, not while they were trying to keep this secret. The same went for almost all of the artifacts and magical tools, weapons, rings, and the like. The blood magic spells and rituals were especially dangerous and powerful. They just could not comprehend it and had determined that it would be too difficult to control many of the more esoteric magic and artifacts at this stage given that all of them were, for all intents and purposes, self-taught quacks in the field of magic.

The glass candles were ironically enough, one of the easiest and simplest inventions to use. By the standards of Valyrian magic, perhaps all magic in general, glass candles were simple. That did not bode well for the speed or safety of their studies in the other fields of magic given how difficult to learn and master the candles were already. There was one field at least though, that they had found simple enough to learn, at least in its basic fundamentals. A field that would likely have many uses in war once they mastered it. Pyromancy, fire magic.

Any bloodmage or major sorcerer worth their salt, if any still were left in the world, was unlikely to join their ranks nor would they really be able to trust in their loyalty anyway if they possessed that kind of power. These types of men and women usually had their own agendas and ambitions, and they did not yet have homegrown and trained mages of their own to challenge them if they schemed against House Velaryon. And while some in their ranks, in their universities, had possessed knowledge of some forms of magic, most had been limited in knowledge and power, with the exception being the Alchemist's Guild.

While there were some differences in the principles and spells used, the magic the Alchemists practiced to make their wildfire and practice other forms of pyromancy was rooted in the same Valyrian origins as the spells they had found in Gogossos. With their training and aid, Jace and his siblings and parents had each picked up a great deal of proficiency in the use of fire magic in the past few years, even if they did not flaunt it to try and preserve secrecy. Now that they had revealed the secret to them, Baela and Rhaena too were learning fire magic.

They entered into the training hall. Jace noted the targets of wood and other substances that had been left in the room. He set the glass candle on the steel table and opened the locked chest in the corner with his key. Inside the chest were other glass candles and blocks of obsidian, along with some amulets and other artifacts they had determined to have use in strengthening pyromancy. There was also a set of unique Valyrian steel rings and a Valyrian steel dagger.

Jace took the rings and the amulets and one of the obsidian blocks and set them on the table with the glass candle. The rings were designed to have a small hidden thorn hidden in their rim which could be pulled out and used to slash the wearer's fingers and draw blood, the reasons for which would soon become apparent. The amulets and other artifacts such as bracelets, were made from a mixture of Valyrian steel, gold, dragonbone, and rubies that seemed to glow with fiery power.

Baela put on the amulet and bracelets, and the ring, and prepared herself, hovering her hand over the glass candle and the obsidian block. Jace put on his own set of equipment though he was going to let Baela go first.

Perhaps one day, when the Dance was won, the secrets of Gogossos might be distilled out in part to create an academy of mages to serve House Velaryon and its empire. The Alchemists would certainly swell in strength with Gogossos' knowledge added to their own and if they could be trusted with that knowledge and power, the Empire would benefit enormously from their service. And of course, House Zaldilaros Velaryon would stand above them all, masters of sorcery, of fire and blood magic like the dragonlords of old.

But Jace was getting ahead of himself. For now, they were like hatchlings in the field of magic, understanding and using only a tiny fraction of their potential. Yet even that tiny fraction was awe-inspiring to see.

Baela used her thumb to pull open the thorn tucked into the rim of her ring and draw it along the block of obsidian, scratching the black glass and make Jace wince slightly from the screech as the scratch was drawn. As Baela ran her thorn over the obsidian, sparks were not far behind and soon a great stream of fire had ignited that bent to Baela's will and could be controlled by her as easily as breathing. Soon Baela thrust forth her hand and the flames obeyed, obliterating the target directly in front of her in a fiery display of heat and power.

Zīrtys perzys the Valyrians had called it; frozen fire. Forged deep in the earth from the volcanic heat and fires of the earth and gods below. Those with the blood and talent, could wake that frozen fire and draw it out from dragonglass, as the smallfolk of Westeros called it. A near infinite source of flame though there was a limit to how much could be drawn forth from obsidian at any one time.

Some of the Gogossi fire mages had theorized in their journals that the dragonglass needed to reabsorb the heat of the world once they had been emptied of their frozen fire. Perhaps their theory was true, as the larger the amount of obsidian, the more fire could be woken from it in one go.

The amulets and bracelets Baela wore were made of dragonbone primarily, with Valyrian steel to set them and hold them together, gold as decoration, and rubies embedded as inlay. Apart perhaps from the gold, none of those substances were merely for show. Valyrian steel was a magical and fiery metal and one key for use in catalysts and artifacts, helping not just to provide a setting and support for the artifact on a mundane level, but an arcane as well.

The dragonbones were parts of dragons, fire made flesh, and they helped resonate the magic in Baela's blood and body with the most magical and fiery creature the world had ever known. And the rubies were blood-red and had been infused with Baela and her dragon Moondancer's blood, keying the artifacts solely to them and strengthening the bond between them, allowing her to draw more on her dragon's vast reservoir of magical power and dominion over fire to produce, shape, and control her own fire.

Of course, Baela did not need these artifacts to draw on Moondancer's strength and fire, nor did she need the artifacts to control and produce flames at all, but the Gogossi mages had created them in the pursuit of greater power and control with fire magic and they had taken them as their spoils from that city. It was obvious they would use all the advantages at their disposal even if they were not strictly necessary.

Baela sent wave after wave of fire at the remaining targets, launching jets of fire, whips, and fireballs. All the while the stream of fire continued to pour out from the obsidian and wreathe Baela in a cloak of flame, allowing her to manipulate and send forth the flames as she pleased using not just her right hand but her left and her legs as well.

She was a vision to watch. All fiery, passionate, and beautiful. Jace watched as the sweat began to cling to her clothes and make her figure more pronounced and curved. It made a baser part of him wish that she would hurry up and forgive him so they could make love, no, fuck, like they used to. Seeming to notice his gaze, Baela looked back at him and smirked.

Damn her. She was teasing him wasn't she? She was burning off the passions they had worked up with their kiss earlier while leaving him wanton and unsatisfied. Well two could play at that game Jace thought as he put on his own equipment and prepared to also draw fire from the obsidian block.

Before he could however, the stream of fire waking from the obsidian grew thin and then ceased entirely. Jace tested the obsidian and found it cold to the touch, indicating that all its inner heat had been drawn out and it would need to spend hours in a preferably warm and heated environment to reabsorb that heat and fire. He shook his head in slight exasperation. Baela had burned through all the obsidian they had and if he wanted to get some practice of his own, he either had to get another obsidian block or use another means to produce or summon fire.

There was the glass candle that they had been using on the table already but it would be a bad idea to draw fire from it out of anything more than desperation. While you could use some, drawing out the inner frozen fire of a glass candle entirely would likely ruin the artifact's scrying enchantments and render it unusable as anything more than just a long and twisted piece of obsidian from which to draw fire from.

Pyromancers could not draw their flames out of thin air. There had to be a source for any fire. Magically produced fire such as dragonfire and wildfire was difficult to control at best and impossible at worst and in the case of the latter, the production of wildfire was no simple method and could not be done in the heat of battle. As a result, most pyromancers had no choice but to summon their flames from fires created with mundane means, friction, powders, and the like, or wake it from dragonglass.

There was one more alternative however, and it was perhaps the easiest to produce and control; its strength and heat was second only to dragonfire and wildfire, but there was a price to be paid. Fire was life, fire was power, and it could not be created from nothing.

Baela, unsatisfied with the limited amount of fire the obsidian could provide her, growled in frustration, her passions burning hot in her new favorite pastime. She used her thumb to once again pull open the thorn on the Valyrian steel ring and this time slashed it across her whole thumb, drawing blood. Instantly, a new source of fire ignited, burning a dark crimson as it materialized right in Baela's palm. The more she bled, the more the fire burned. Baela's very blood ignited into red flames. Bloodfire.

They were dragonlords, the Blood of the Dragon itself. Their blood was the most suited of all races of men in the whole word for pyromancy and only a few drops were required to produce and sustain a tremendous flame and Baela was bleeding quite a little more than just a few drops. On top of that, the artifacts from earlier were still relevant, perhaps more than ever, strengthening and stabilizing the connection between Baela and Moondancer and increasing the resonance between Baela and the art of pyromancy, allowing Baela's fire to burn hotter and stronger than ever.

All of this was why the words of House Targaryen were Fire and Blood. It was the foundation on which Valyria had been built. All the sorcery their ancestors had practiced had been based on these two concepts. Ironically enough the Targaryens had forgotten it, but Jace's family, House Velaryon, the masters of the sea, they had relearned it, and one day that would be the doom of House Targaryen.

The room became noticeably hotter as Baela's fire continued to burn until finally she stopped. She turned to him, her right hand red and sticky with her own blood and a fiery, almost crazed glow in her purple eyes that aroused Jace as much as it terrified him.

"Care for a spar?" she challenged.

Jace was as much a dragon as Baela and he growled in response. "It would be my pleasure," he said before slashing the thumb on his right hand with the thorn of his own ring before he took things a step further than even Baela had, cutting open the palm on his left as well to let him summon fire from both of his hands, the crimson flames shaped in two blood-red fireballs in his hands as he stared challengingly at Baela.

In response Baela's own bloodfire ignited back to life. As the blood had dripped down from her thumb, her whole right arm down to her elbow was now wreathed in red flames. Of course, the flames did not hurt her, nor did Jace's fireballs harm him either, but rather they soothed them with a calming warmth that could make them forget they were literally bleeding out to produce them. They were made from their blood, they were part of them, and would no sooner harm them than their own limbs would. All bloodfire was harmless to the one whose blood it was made from, and that was important to remember if you were advanced enough to use another's blood to fuel your flames.

In general, practitioners of fire magic became resistant to all forms of fire, they had to be in order to control and shape it so close to their bodies. At a certain point, they would even become immune entirely to any form of mundane fire and could only be harmed by magical flames such as that produced by dragons, wildfire, or the blood of another life. And that was on top of the normal heat resistance and tolerance they already had as Blood of the Dragon and dragonriders. It was easy to see why his Valyrians ancestors had thought they were superior to all other men in the world. Jace believed it himself, even if he did not take his beliefs to the extremes they did. That fire resistance would come in handy soon.

With the fire still wrapped around her arms, Baela sent a fearsome jet of flames that twisted into a spiral as it barreled through the air at him. Despite having practiced fire magic for a number of years now, Baela was already his equal after just a few months and Jace knew better than to take the fire head on or attempt to deflect and control it unnecessarily. Sometimes it was much easier to just dodge.

Sidestepping the blast, Jace threw his fire balls at Baela, careful to moderate their heat so they would not harm her permanently but they'd still leave nasty welts if they landed. Baela twisted and contorted her body to evade them in a damnably seductive way that had him hardening painfully in his breeches. She smirked devilishly at him before firing another jet of flames.

Jace blocked the blast with a wall of his own bloodfire before taking advantage of the distraction of the clashing flames to close in on Baela in close quarters. He had an advantage here, having been martially trained. He and his brothers had found out years ago that certain techniques and movements from hand to hand combat and the eastern martial arts their father had brought back from his voyages would help focus, shape, and direct their flames. It even applied to weapons, if he had Seafang with him, he could light the blade up in his own blood and fire and since it was Valyrian steel, it would endure completely unscathed.

Baela was no slouch however, and though she had never truly taken to martial training and arts as her father Daemon had expected her too, it was mostly out of lack of commitment and serious interest than a lack of talent. Kicks, punches, throws, all with a helpful of burning red fire were matched and deflected, but eventually Jace would overcome Baela and they both knew it.

She tried to flee, producing a large jet of flames to keep him at bay as she ran but Jace charged right through it, trusting in his fire resistance and his own bloodfire to shield him before grabbing Baela in his arms and holding her tight in a hug.

"I guess it's my win," Jace said to his stunned wife.

"I guess it is," Baela said before she sighed. "I'm still angry with you."

"I know. But do you want to be?" Jace asked her, willing to accept any answer she gave.

To his shock and joy however, Baela shook her head. "No. Not anymore."

"Then let it go if you can. In your own time. As long as it takes. I'll wait forever for you if I have to Baela," he told her honestly.

There was no lie in his words. He would never lie to Baela ever again, that he swore. He didn't truly believe that any gods existed but if they did, let them smite him and strike him down if he broke that vow. Let the Father judge him for his lies if he truly existed, or the Fourteen of Old Valyria if they did. Either way was acceptable to Jace.

Eventually Jace released Baela from his embrace so they could clean up. Thankfully they had not damaged the fireproofed walls as bloodfire was capable of burning through it at its hottest. They had done so before. It had been challenging to keep their magic secret when they had needed repairs done after their last spar.

Using the limited fleshshaping that they had been able to learn, Jace closed the wounds in both his hands and on Baela's thumb, leaving no trace that there had ever been any injury at all. No scar, no wound, nothing. It would not heal the blood loss but thankfully the Gogossi blood mages had thought to address that too, creating potions and rituals that would strengthen the bone marrow and dramatically increase and speed up the production and replenishment of blood in the body. Both Jace and Baela had already gone through that process so they would not need to fear exsanguination.

With their wounds healed and the flow of blood stopped, the two of them burned off the excess blood on their bodies in a final, fiery display. While the blood may have been burnt away, their skin still felt sticky from it and the sweat that was all but dripping from them. They may not die of exsanguination, but dehydration was a potential cause of concern. Jace greedily gulped down all the water in his canteen after he handed Baela her's.

When they had drunk their fill, Baela spoke up. "I'm so bloody and sweaty. I'll be taking a bath now."

Jace nodded. "I expected as much. Go right ahead."

Baela stared at him, seeming to hesitate just a little before she continued. "Do you want to join me?"

Jace's mind went into overdrive as he tried to process what that meant, though it seemed obvious. Baela and he had had done it in the bath or shower more than enough times to know where it led them.

"Are you sure?" he asked her.

She nodded. "I'm sure. I love you Jace, even when you infuriate me."

He couldn't help but smile. "I love you too Baela. I'll gladly take you up on that offer, and I promise… I won't let this second chance go to waste."

It made him happy to see that there was trust and belief in her eyes again, even if wary. He had feared he would never see it again.


Second Moon, 122 AC

Daeron

The point of a harbor was to mitigate the power of the sea so that the ships could be safely sequestered within. Tyrosh Harbor did an admirable job of it, but nonetheless the waves still crashed against his ship relentlessly, even if gently.

Out there, they'd be so much stronger. Some even hundreds of feet tall. It was frightening to think of, intimidating, yet so very exciting in some ways, even if an actual storm would be a nightmare to go through. The sea just called to Daeron. Even if he had a dragon and could technically just soar over it all, that almost felt like the cheap and easy way out. Not worth doing. The whole point of the experience was to sail.

He would always love Terrax, but he alone of his siblings had inherited their father's love for seafaring and they had always known that. His brother Jacaerys would one day be the Lord of the Tides, but Daeron would be the one that knew those tides, knew how to sail upon them and not just fly over them.

He knew Laena didn't intend to sail very much and would spend most of her time on Shrykos and he didn't begrudge her that. He was just glad that she was willing to come with him. Their children and their dragons would be accompanying them as well. Jaenara was five and Rhaella not even two but they'd be safe on the Dawn Treader.

The ship was perhaps the finest in the Velaryon fleet. Cutting edge technology, with no expenses spared. A galleon of the latest and most advanced design and made with the finest materials. It even had an expensive copper-sheathed hull reducing maintenance costs and times, though the escort fleet that would be following them did not so it didn't really improve their travel time ultimately all that much but whatever. If they had wanted fast travel times, they've have just flown on their dragons.

They would have to be careful about where they visited. Jacaerys had told him that he was not to go into the Shivering Sea unless to the North and Braavos and he was to go no further east than Viserria in the east. Still even if his brother hadn't give him that command, he very much doubted that he would have wanted to anyway.

Essos was a complete and utter mess. The chaos and anarchy still had not died down. There were ongoing slave revolts in Volantis, Pentos, Norvos, Qohor, and Essaria. It seemed that whether they followed the Seven or not, the slaves had really been inspired by what he and his family had been doing to fight slavery in the past few decades and after their latest move against it, annexing Lys and Myr into the newly reborn Triarchy and abolishing it there, all of Essos had gone insane.

Qohor and Norvos with their strong, centralized, and homogenous religious theocracies, well trained and loyal soldiers both slave and free, and their much lower slave populations, had been doing best with the rebellions but still, due to the absolute savagery and brutality with which both cities treated their slaves, the rebellion was brutal and desperate nonetheless and still had not been fully suppressed even though all knew where the tides had turned.

Essaria was facing a similar, drastic uprising but similarly to Qohor and Norvos, they were able to keep it under control. Unfortunately for Essaria, the rebellion could not have come at a less opportune time as word had broken of a massive revolt in Sarnor against the Dothraki.

The Sarnori had ostensibly been inspired by Daeron and his family as well, even though none of them followed the Zaldilaros Creed. Nonetheless, the whole idea of slaves rebelling against their oppressors had taken hold of Essos and word was coming that even Lhazar had rebelled and the Ibbenese and Qartheen were sending troops to aid the rebels against the Dothraki.

The Dothraki had not been truly united since the death of the last great khal, Khal Horro, near the end of the Century of Blood. Since then their khalasars would bicker with each other as much as they would with their tributaries, each of them free roaming over the vast Dothraki Sea and taking tribute wherever they went as they pleased. Now it seemed the people of Essos were fed up with their cruelty and tyranny. Only time would tell if they would succeed in bringing down the Dothraki khalasars.

It was a conflict Essaria would have been surely interested in joining due to their economic and territorial investments and interests in Sarnori territory and now because of their own domestic problems they could not take part and may even have to fear a refugee crisis or a spillover of the conflict while they were distracted with their own issues and that could be the end of Essaria.

The rebellion in Pentos on the other hand, might very well succeed. Though the Valyrians had done their best to stamp the Faith of the Seven out of its original homeland, many had still held to their faith in secret and with the spread of the Zaldilaros Creed throughout Essos, they had been greatly emboldened. Apart from the cities of the Triarchy, Pentos had been where the Zaldilaros Creed had been strongest and it showed in the strength and ferocity of their rebellion.

He knew there was already calls from the clergy and faithful within the Triarchy to take the revolution to Pentos next and reclaim the holy hills of Andalos from Braavos but his brother had shut those sentiments down. They would take Pentos and Braavos one day, but it would not be anytime soon. Not when they were still digesting the Triarchy and had the Targaryens to deal with in the Dance. Still it wouldn't surprise Daeron if Pentos and Braavos were Jace's next targets if they won the Dance, he seemed to have an insatiable appetite for conquest and empire.

Daeron was quite curious to see if the Valyrian nobility of Pentos survived this rebellion, including the Tyroshi exiles they had taken in. While he had no sympathy for slavers, it would be a massive shame if families of Valyrian blood went extinct, the world would be lesser for it. He knew his father had already promised at least two Pentoshi families refuge and peerage in the Triarchy if they would recant slavery and both were ready to take the offer at a moment's notice if the situation in Pentos worsened.

Those families were House Narratys, whom his father's grandmother, the wife of Lord Daemon had hailed from, and House Iranhor, the family of his father's aunt, Lady Rhaella of House Celtigar, wife of Lord Bartimos. Both families were kin of House Velaryon, even if from afar and had made sure to keep strong relations to them in case something like this happened. Their prudence would pay off it seemed. Daeron was glad for it. Not only were they kin, but it was always good to have more families of Valyrian blood in the peerage.

While Daeron had nothing against those that were not of Valyrian blood, Seven knew men like Jaremy Gottwell more than deserved their position, he was also being pragmatic here. A pure Valyrian peerage would be a great source of spouses that would maintain or at least mitigate the loss of blood purity if House Velaryon ever found its numbers thinned for whatever reason.

It was just a shame that most of the Valyrian families in Essos were unrepentant slavers. All those pure and ancient bloodlines, all those prestigious and storied families and names, so many of them might go extinct and all because they could not adapt to the vision House Velaryon had for an Essos free of slavery. Such a waste.

Well he supposed he could only hope that the Pentoshi nobility survived this war in some shape and form, even if they were no longer in power. If any of them could be turned to their side when they eventually took Pentos like families in Lys and Myr had been, they would make fine additions to their peerage.

Hope might be all the Volantene Old Blood had left. Volantis was in a particularly dire situation with this revolt. Volantis, where lords of ancient blood had slept poorly behind the Black Wall for many years as Daeron and his family continued to liberate slaves, listening as their kitchen slaves sharpened their long knives. Volantis where the slaves grew their food, cleaned their streets, taught their young, guarded their walls, rowed their galleys, and fought their battles. Volantis, where the slaves outnumbered the free five to one.

Already they had heard stories of many Old Blood butchered in their decadent manses by their slaves. Many in the Old Blood had had over thirty years to prepare so the casualties were not as high as they could have been but they were still immense. The Black Wall was currently besieged and the surviving Old Blood's only hope was that their subject towns, Valysar, Volon Therys, Selhorys, Sarhoy, and the others with much lower slave populations to contend with, sent their armies to relieve them in time, and there were precious few soldiers left in Volantis as it was after the war.

Daeron knew his father had offered some of his old associates like the Paenymions refuge in the Triarchy as well but they were not even capable of taking the deal since they were besieged and locked out of the harbor. Well they simply had to wait and see for when the dust settled. Either way, House Velaryon would not intervene directly, they could not anyway.

The Targaryens had finally drawn the line. They had been expressly forbidden from waging any kind of war without permission from now on unless their own territories were outright invaded. While it was a matter of debate if the Targaryens even had the right to issue that command, it said a lot that Uncle Aemon had done it. Even the friendliest members of House Targaryen had been infuriated by the Conquest of the Triarchy and that order was backed by the power of House Targaryen's dragons.

They dared not test the Targaryens at this point. They were not ready for war. It was fine. They could not be too greedy. They had already accomplished what they wanted. The conquest and formation of Triarchy to increase their conventional wealth and power and provide a buffer zone against their Essosi enemies during the Dance.

Furthermore, with their control over Velos, Viserria, Corlantis, and now Lys and Myr, the Velaryon Navy controlled major chokepoints and bases with which to interdict and basically destroy the seaborne slave trade for good. Slaver's Bay had never recovered from what his parents had done to it and with the Dothraki facing a rebellion and invasion inspired by the abolitionist sentiments that had brought House Velaryon to power in Lys and Myr as well, even the continental slave trade might soon be collapsing.

In Pentos, Norvos, Qohor, Essaria, and Volantis, the slavers would either be deposed and slavery ended or they would kill a vast number of their slaves to win and have no way to replace the losses with the collapse of the slave trade. And with his mother predicting the Dance to happen in less than fifteen years, they, House Velaryon, might just win the Dance in Westeros and finish the job in Essos through Jace's imperial ambitions. Daeron might very will live to see the end of slavery in his lifetime.

It was quite an exciting and uplifting thought. As was all the good news on how the Triarchy's consolidation and development had come along. Their parents had trained Jace well, he was an excellent ruler. In his role as Chancellor of the Triarchy and de facto regent and ruler in their parent's absence, he had already gotten to work.

He had formed their own Small Council, though he called it the Triarchy Council. Luke was the Lieutenant-Chancellor and Jace's deputy, the de facto Hand of the King. Baela, Rhaena, and Laena sat on the council as advisors as did Daeron, in an official role even, as deputy to Admiral Ryndoon who Jace had chosen as their Secretary of the Navy and as head of the Admiralty that led the Velaryon Navy.

There was also a Secretary of the Army to handle the Velaryon Army's administration, General Maratis, who had served with his brother in Gogossos. A very vital position. The Velaryon Army was in the process of being massively expanded with more regiments and divisions being raised and trained. The Triarchy was much larger than Tyrosh had been, with far more land to patrol and defend but fortunately it also had a much larger population base to draw recruits from.

The Navy was also being expanded under Daeron and Ryndoon's purview, absorbing the fleets and infrastructure of the conquered territories and also forming a specialized division within the Navy dedicated to patrolling the rivers and lakes the Triarchy now controlled or had access to. A long list which now included the mighty Rhoyne herself. Chroyane, Sar Rhoy, and Ny Sar would make fine home ports for their riverine squadrons.

The council was more than just the military of course. Unlike the Targaryens and their rigid Master positions, there was a flexible number of positions on the Triarchy Council depending on need, and a variety of titles used for those positions.

One of those was a High Justiciar for the head of their law and court systems, overseeing a system of sheriffs, intendants, justiciars, and judges that handled legal matters in the Triarchy. There were plans to expand the Tyroshi law code to account for Lyseni and Myrish laws and unify it into one code and system, including a number of basic rights and laws that were inviolable such as the ban of slavery.

There was also a Lord Treasurer overseeing the Treasury, a Commerce Secretary, a Chief Diplomat, and a number of other important positions overseeing various roles in the government and court of the Triarchy, seneschals, stewards, chamberlains, and the like. They even had a representative from the Faith and one of their university-trained professors and Maesters as an adviser on matters requiring academic expertise, a Grand Maester if you would.

Underneath each Councilor were ministries that formed the bureaucracy of each department of government. Most of those bureaucrats were those that had directly served House Velaryon in the previous Tyroshi bureaucracy and civil service and this was done intentionally to ensure that the bureaucracy was loyal primarily to House Velaryon and obeyed the Councilors only because they had been appointed their leaders by House Velaryon.

Also unlike House Targaryen which had a Master of Whisperers publicly on the Small Council who was appointed for political reasons and led to the creation of inefficient temporary spy networks of dubious loyalty, the Triarchy had no such thing. Officially they had no spymasters and no spies, but in secret the Conches reported directly to House Velaryon and their leader was chosen only from their exclusive and fanatic ranks. Lady Mysaria as the Mistress of the Conches was an honorary member of the Council but seeing as most of the council was not even aware of her or her organization's existence, she remained a secret one. Their Councilors just knew better than to ask overly much where House Velaryon got its intelligence from.

The Triarchy's territory had already been reorganized into twenty-four provinces or magistrates, each one governed by a governor known as a Magister, a title used in the Free Cities that Jace had repurposed for continuity and propaganda purposes. It had also been retroactively applied to their governors in Velos, Viserria, and Corlantis who were thus now all magisters and their provinces fell under the Triarchy as its twenty-second, twenty-third, and twenty-fourth provinces.

Tyrosh as the current capital province, had no magister but it was likely that Vaemond would become the Magister if and when they moved the capital. He was already Lord Mayor of Tyrosh and Steward of the Black Fortress so it made sense.

Most of the new magisters had been appointed from House Velaryon Minor but some of the peers and other bureaucrats had proven competent and loyal and so had gotten the positions. Feudalism was nonexistent in the Triarchy and magistrate positions were explicitly appointed by the Archon or rather Jace as Chancellor and de facto regent. Some peers may be magisters but they got those positions through no right of birth or noble status but purely merit and loyalty. Whoever they were, the magisters would serve for five-year terms before being rotated to another magistrate so they didn't form an entrenched powerbase, unless they were renewed by the Archon and granted another term in that province.

The new Triarchy was also becoming a haven for slaves fleeing the chaos in wartorn Essos. Many refugees simply walked across the border into the Triarchy and they were welcomed and integrated. In fact, they and Braavos were in a competition of sorts, exploiting the chaos to see who could poach more skilled workers and craftsman from the other cities and entice them to defect and migrate with bribes and comfortable, safe lives.

Work was hard underway in dividing and redistributing land from the deposed noble families to the lucky chosen slaves and also finding jobs for the freed slaves and the incoming refugees. Their parents' experience in Tyrosh had taught them how to oversee the transition away from slavery smoothly but it was still hard work.

They were also building up the Triarchy and knitting it together with plans for vast infrastructure projects and roadworks that would improve the quality of life for the citizens and link the settlements together, and of course the promotion of the Zaldilaros Creed, whose adherents made up a slim but rapidly growing majority of the Triarchy's population. The objective of course was to raise the whole Triarchy to Tyroshi standards of living but that would undoubtedly take many years.

Daeron knew that eventually Jace intended to move the capital and residence of their family from Tyrosh to Myr but until Myr was stabilized and its palaces secured, renovated, and had the amenities they were accustomed to installed, that move was not going to happen. Work had already begun constructing the Dragonpit in Myr near their chosen palace there however, so that was some progress being made.

Still it wasn't all good new. A large part of the work also involved moving and integrating the last remnants of Driftmark's population and all its remaining industries and trades. Much of this shift had already occurred but his parents had attempted to revive the island upon their return to Westeros. Now even that was impossible because they knew what Driftmark's fate would be.

Even if they won the Dance, Driftmark would be destroyed by it according to their mother's dragon dreams and likely not worth keeping anyway due to its dangerous proximity to Westeros. Jace had even hypothesized trading Driftmark and their holdings in the Hook for the Stepstones if they were able to force the Targaryens to come to terms instead of destroying them all (assuming they even won).

To save all the Driftmarkers and all their investments on the island, they had to move to the Triarchy. It was disappointing in many ways, Daeron had grown up on Driftmark as much as he had in Tyrosh and it saddened him to know Driftmark's fate and to know what they had to do but he supposed that Driftmark was not just a place but also a people and a culture, and both of those would endure in the Triarchy.

His parents were even more upset than he was but begrudgingly accepting of it. Still they stubbornly continued to reside in High Tide and were overseeing the gutting of their beloved home island, watching it slowly die as all its people and industries moved to the Triarchy.

Another matter that had to be considered was the reorganization and expansion of the Faith now that they had expanded their territory and jurisdiction to include the faithful of Lys and Myr. It had been decided that the Archsepton of Tyrosh would remain the first among equals on the Synod in the absence of the Heads of the Faith, House Zaldilaros Velaryon. However, Lys and Myr would both receive Archsepton seats and each of the remaining twenty-one provinces would have a leading Senior Septon (or Septa) who would have a seat in the Synod, replacing the members who had previously served in the Tyroshi Synod, though many of those had been promoted and sent to the provinces to serve as the Seniors there anyway so functionally the composition of the Synod had not much changed. Daeron didn't remember who the Archsepton of Myr was but he did recall that the Archsepton of Lys was Jace's friend, the now Archsepton Maekar.

Unfortunately, the further expansion of the Tyroshi sect of the Faith into the Triarchy sect and their continued doubling down on the Zaldilaros Creed had seen them labelled once again as a heretical cult by the High Septon and Most Devout in the Great Sept of Jaehaerys back in King's Landing, Westeros.

It seemed even the Targaryens could not restrain their clergy any longer or perhaps they were simply unwilling to anymore as they had excommunicated all of the clergy of the Triarchy sect and basically decreed excommunication of everyone that adhered to the Zaldilaros Creed, effectively putting the two sects of the Faith in schism. As a result of this, many in the Triarchy were increasingly embracing the short form name of Zaldilaros Faith (of the Seven) or even Zaldilaros Cult to differentiate their religion and organization in Essos much more clearly from the Westerosi sect.

The only exceptions to the excommunication by the High Septon and Most Devout, were ironically enough Daeron and his immediate family. Not even their cadets, the lines of Velaryon Minor had been spared excommunication but they the House of Zaldilaros Velaryon themselves whom the heretics revered and worshipped, were still considered to be members of the Westerosi sect and in communion with the Great Sept of Jaehaerys.

It was likely the High Septon and Most Devout had wanted to excommunicate them as well but only Uncle Aemon's order had restrained them, likely fearing that it would irreconcilably widen the rift between their two families. What Uncle Aemon didn't understand was that that was already happening and could no longer be reversed.

Daeron sighed. His thoughts on the now inescapable decline of Driftmark and the schism in the Faith had inevitably brought him to the usual dreary and depressing thoughts that came to mind when he was reminded that there would be a Dance to begin with. He still found himself reluctant to think of that, to accept and acknowledge it even as he trained relentlessly for it alongside the rest of the family.

One day he would fight his cousins and his Aunt Gael. One day he would fight his former best friend and brother Aegon. Despite their broken friendship, he didn't wish him ill even though he knew he did not reciprocate that respect and goodwill. It just hurt to remember what once was. Yet for the sake of his family, he would have to be prepared to kill Aegon and any other Targaryen who stood in his way.

He wondered, how far would his family go to secure their own safety? Would his parents and Jace order that they try and exterminate House Targaryen and eradicate their rival dragonlord house and kin? All the way down to the children? What about little Gaemon who had been born to Jaehaerys and Rhaenyra only last year or the babe in Helaena's belly now? Would Baela and Rhaena even allow that order to be given? Would he obey it? Daeron didn't know, he wasn't sure he wanted to know.

He forcibly turned his mind to other things, no longer wishing to dwell on such dark and heavy topics. Most of Essos was untenable for the reasons he had considered earlier. Voyaging to Westeros would also be pointless he decided. Unless he wished to voyage all the way to the north, he had already seen everything relevant on the continent in their allies' lands and the rest was enemy territory. The Sunset Sea and the Western coasts were not their domains and far from their waters, it would be inadvisable to go there. Dorne was also definitely out, he highly doubted Aunt Gael and his cousins would welcome him, he was not Baela or Rhaena, and Dorne still wasn't fully pacified anyway.

With all those regions locked out as destinations, Daeron had decided, as his family suggested, to visit Velos, Viserria, Corlantis, and the Summer Islands. He also had to make a stopover in Lys on Jace's request, the Conches had given them information about some Summer Islander exiles drowning away their sorrows in the brothels and taverns that could be recruited as colonists for the Basilisk Isles. He also had to see to some business with the governors or rather magisters of each of those provinces when he visited.

Nonetheless, despite the restrictions on his voyaging destinations and the family business he had to attend to, Daeron still thought that it would be quite the fun trip, visiting distant relatives and seeing the progress in the colonies' development. He also found himself inordinately curious about Corlantis, formerly Gogossos, given the stories he had heard from his brothers and goodsisters on what had gone down in that city all those years. He would finally see it for himself. Wasn't that exciting?

Alas if only his daughters were as excited to go as he and even Laena were. Their farewell to their cousins, whom they considered more siblings than cousins to be honest, had been so full of despair and sadness it had brought a tear to his eye and almost made him cancel the voyage but in the end he had decided against it. It would be good for Jaenara and Rhaelle if they got out and saw some of the world before certain things happened, and anyway they should only be away for a year and when they returned, he doubted anything would stop his daughters and their cousins from being as thick as thieves again.

They'd like have another cousin by then too. They had just learned recently that Baela was pregnant with her and Jace's third child, and she was due later this year. It had surprised Daeron honestly as he had thought Baela might never forgive Jace or the rest of them for their deception but she had been rather shockingly rational and understanding and she and Jace were apparently fucking like rabbits again after just ten months, so that did explain where the third child came he supposed.

If only Rhaena could be so understanding and forgiving. Contrary to all their thoughts and predictions, Rhaena had taken it much worse than Baela had and she and Luke were still barely on speaking terms. Baela had to mediate between them most of the time and Rhaena was the most behind in her training for the Dance, both because Luke was her primary trainer and also because she just hated the idea of the Dance that much.

Still Baela was confident that she'd come around eventually and had sworn she wouldn't rat them out to the Targaryens, she just needed time to process things and get over herself. For his brother's sake and all of theirs, Daeron hoped she was right. Luke and Rhaena had been an almost perfect couple once and it was definitely in the interests of the house and their survival in the Dance if they returned to that state sooner rather than later, if that was even still possible.

"What are you thinking so much about?" Laena asked him suddenly, breaking him out of his thoughts as she walked up to where he stood on the prow.

"Rhaena. And how long it will take her to forgive Luke. And why Baela forgave Jace faster than she forgave Luke, which none of us expected," Daeron answered truthfully. He saw little need to tell Laena what his earlier thoughts had been.

Laena seemed to quirk an eyebrow at his interesting thoughts but she joined his pondering anyway. "Well Rhaena's children are our niece and nephew and she tries to pretend otherwise but I can see she still loves Luke deep down. We don't have to worry that she'll betray us to the Targaryens. Still from what Baela tells me, unlike herself, Rhaena never allowed herself to truly consider conflict between her marital and birth houses and that has caused her severe reaction to all of this. It will take her a lot of time to get over it, but I trust that she will eventually, if only for the sake of her twin and her children."

Laena sighed. "In some ways I can't help but sympathize with her. She's in the exact same position I could have been, the position I escaped. Had I married Aegon, I can easily imagine him using my children to bind me to his side and lying to me about his plans to wage war on our family and that is exactly what we, what Luke did to Rhaena.

"We can't all be as rational and understanding as Baela is. I can honestly say I wouldn't be so calm myself if someone had lied to me on something so important for so long the way Luke lied to Rhaena, no matter the reason. I would have been screaming bloody murder when I found out, even Rhaena is more rational than I would have been I think. All we can do is give her time and wait. It's only been a little over a year and a half and Luke lied to her for five."

"So you think it will take her five years to forgive Luke?" Daeron said with some alarm and pity for his brother.

"Perhaps, perhaps not. Even Baela is uncertain how long it will take. But it will happen, that we can say for certain, and given Jace and Luke once feared Baela and Rhaena would never forgive them at all, that is very good news," Laena answered.

"How's Luke taking all this? Does he still resent Jace for forcing the matter? I remember he was quite bitter when we got the news of Baela's pregnancy last week. He was shouting at Jace for forcing him to tell Rhaena and being undeservingly lucky that Baela forgave him so easily. It was horrible. The twins fighting like that is just wrong," Daeron said.

"Thankfully not. They didn't say as much to us but it seems they worked it out between themselves and are now close as ever. It's not Jace's fault Baela proved to be more rational than any of us thought. We had all thought Rhaena the rational one and Baela the hothead after all. The way Jace and now Luke see it, Jace should have had more to lose and a harder time dealing with the aftermath when they told them so it really isn't his fault, it's just his luck and how things played out is all."

Daeron sighed. "I hope you and Baela are right then. For all of our sakes, and for Luke's," he said before his eyes turned back to the waves once again, full of water and life. So very much like the fire that burned in his own heart and that of all his kin, and yet so very different as well. Perhaps they had to try being more like water rather than fire in some aspects.


Author's Note: Hope you guys liked this chapter! I'm especially curious to hear your thoughts on the magic sections and the kingdom-building details for the Triarchy. FYI the rings Baela and Jace use are basically Annie's ring from Attack on Titan. I'm also eager to hear if there are any suggestions for improvements or refinements of those details.

As usual check out the author's note at the bottom of this chapter on Spacebattles if you are impatient for the next three chapters. threads/high-tide-a-corlys-velaryon-si.860581/post-100581994

Also do check out my public Discord server, link here: /invite/NSEwuzpcWm