304AC

Cersei could hear the whispers, little snippets of conversation among the courtiers when they think she was out of the hearing range. They whispered about dragons, of war and defeat. All understandable, because her idiot uncle and the fat flower were weak men.

They were weak and hence they were losing to her enemies. They were floundering in their duty to protect their King and Queen. And most of all, they were unreceptive to her advice on how to pursue the war. Instead, her bumbling uncle was busy begging aid from Tyrells to send more troops to the capital.

'How foolish is my uncle?' she scoffed at the thought of more Tyrell men in the capital.

As if they need more traitors in the capital. The Tyrells were opportunistic backstabbers and the prophecy once again rang in her ears. The Tyrell harlot would try to replace her which made Cersei fear for her son's life. She can see everything clearly now. The Tyrells were playing their part in this slow-moving coup.

It is obvious to her now that the Tyrells were secretly supporting the Targaryens. Maybe that's why Randyll Tarly supposedly lost the battle in the Stormlands allowing the Targaryen pretender the upper hand. The Redwyne fleet abandoned their post in Dragonstone just in time for Daenerys Targaryen to sweep in and take control of the Narrow Sea. All the while another Targaryen pretender sweeps down from the North.

'Enemies to the south, enemies to the east, enemies to the north.'

She was being surrounded all the while the Tyrells positioned themselves as allies to her son while in truth secretly joining with the Dornish army to strike from the west. She can finally see the plan her enemies were spinning. Surely, her father must have seen the same thing and for that, he was murdered by that vile dwarf – the valonqar.

'When your tears have drowned you, the valonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you.'

That cursed prophecy will not come true, she reiterated over and over in her mind.

She was going to save her precious Tommen one way or another. But first, she would meet her uncle and see what this latest summons was all about. In the far corner of her mind, she feared her uncle may have gleaned her plans. Cersei shook those doubts away. Surely, she could trust Qyburn above everyone else. She found the man well to her liking as he is the only one who obeyed her orders without question. He gave her all the information she needed and waited patiently for the wisdom of her mind. Qyburn is a man who knew her value and she, in turn, recognized his value as well.

When she inevitably stood victorious over her enemies she'd reward him by elevating the man to the position of Hand to the King. Tommen would need loyal men like Qyburn by his side if her son is to rule the Seven Kingdoms. Of course, her little lion shall always have her by his side but Qyburn's knowledge and spies would inevitably secure her son's rule.

Ser Robert remained by her side closely following as if he is her shadow. It was his presence that gave her confidence. With Ser Robert by her side, her safety was assured. She also took another entourage of guards following her, men whom she knew to be loyal to her. After all, a smouldering look from her would have these men defend her to their last. Out of the ten or so guards she took with her she was fond of a few of them like the Kettleblack brothers.

The Kettleblacks were little more than sellswords a few years back. The War of the Five Kings changed their lives forever. The war had seen too many a high lord fall but also seen those at the bottom rise. The Kettleblacks were a good example of this inclination. The three sellsword brothers were assigned positions of power for their ardent service.

Ser Osmond Kettleblack, eldest of the three brothers, was given the white cloak for his leal service during the Battle of Blackwater Bay. Now, the kingsguard knight stood by Tommen as Sandor Clegane had stood behind her Joff. Ser Osfryd Kettleblack served her as the Commander of the City Watch. Lastly, there was Osney Kettleblack, the youngest of the three brothers, not just a sworn sword but also her frequent bed warmer and the captain of her personal guards. At first, she'd have preferred to take Ser Osmund to her bed but the man is a lackwit compared to his younger brother. Ser Osney on the other hand was funny, loyal and kept her warm beneath the sheets.

The Kettleblack brothers were quite useful in having Tyrion sentenced to death. The three brothers helped her intimidate all the witnesses. Ser Osmond played a larger role in her accursed brother's trial and for his help, she had promised him a reward. Till now she was forced to put that behind her owing to her father's death and her own subsequent imprisonment. But now, an opportunity would surely arise for her to bed the eldest of Kettleblack brothers.

Of course, this would only happen after the High Sparrow and the rabble that follow the zealot are dealt with. While she was sure Ser Osmond would protect Tommen it was better to entice the man with a night in her bed. Besides, Jaime was now a cripple which made her twin incapable of defending himself much less her or Tommen.

Jaime's recent failure to take Riverrun has only proved her fears true. Losing his hand has changed her twin and turned him into a weak man.

Truth be told she was not so surprised. Her twin was always weak. She was the one that inherited her father's mental fortitude.

'If only I was born with a cock between my legs I'd have ruled the Rock.' she thought.

Then again, she is currently the Lady of Casterly Rock thanks to Jaime refusing to step down from the Kingsguard. It's strange how life changes over many years. There was a time when it'd have made her happy to rule the Westerlands.

Now, ruling the Westerlands alone is not enough. She wanted all of Westeros under her feet.

'Ambition…' Cersei realized. '…is something my twin lacked but I hold in abundance.'

Climbing the flight of stairs towards the guest quarters she wondered what her insufferable uncle wanted now. Of all the places to call for her presence, why would her uncle choose the guest wing of the Red Keep? It also bothered her that Qyburn has not given her any reports on what her uncle wanted. Perhaps, her trusted Master of Whispers is busy overseeing the plans she has for the Sparrows and the Tyrell harlot.

Once she reached her destination she was surprised to note Ser Osmond Kettleblack and Ser Balon Swan standing guard outside the guest quarters reserved for the Lords of Casterly Rock. This could only mean Tommen is in the room.

Now, what would her little cub be doing in these chambers with her uncle?

Her query was answered when she entered the chambers leaving her guards behind. Servants and maesters were running around with bandages and bowls of salves. All of them were crowding around a single room so she rushed forward only to find Jaime lying in a large bed full of silken sheets.

"Jaime!" she screamed, shocked to see her twin covered with burn marks all over his torso.

Cersei rushed over to her twin's side fearing the worst. To her relief, her twin was still breathing but unconscious.

"What happened to him?" she screeched at her uncle and Pycelle.

"The Targaryen prince rode out on his dragon and burned the Westerland army to cinders leaving only a handful of survivors."

An old man with the seven-pointed star blazon on his cloak was the one to answer.

"You lie. Everyone knows dragons are dead." Cersei thundered, refusing to believe the old knight.

"It's true. I was there and I foolishly charged into the jaws of that dragon." Jaime spoke up prompting Cersei to round on her brother. "Good men paid the price for my foolishness."

"You should not speak Jaime. Rest for now while I shall make sure this pretender pay for what he did. If he thinks he can take the Iron Throne from me then he is sorely mistaken." Cersei snarled, thinking of ways to arrange for the death of this Targaryen pretender who harmed her twin.

"Take the Iron Throne from you? I believe King Tommen is the reigning monarch of the Iron Throne." said Pycelle.

'You are nothing here.' That's what Pycelle meant and Cersei could read that from the old Maester's eyes.

"I am the Queen." she hissed at Pycelle.

"You were. Now, you are not. The King's wife is the Queen and you are not the King's wife."

It was her uncle who snapped at her making Cersei glower at the disrespect shown by her uncle towards her. She could see the Tyrell harlot enjoying what her uncle was doing. She held herself back if only because Tommen was present. Looking into the confused green eyes of her son she settled down.

But, in her mind, she came to a crucial conclusion. She could not afford to wait any longer. Her plans need to be expedited because she made a misjudgment. All this time she was thinking her uncle was a dimwit led on by the Tyrells. When in fact, her uncle is an active participant in trying to overthrow her reign.

Everything became much more clear now.

Yes, her uncle always coveted the lordship of Casterly Rock. He was always in her father's shadow and now he is playing to get the Westerlands. This is why her uncle has refused to attack Dorne even as they murdered her sweet Myrcella. All of it made so much sense now. Even this Targaryen threat must be a plot by her uncle. Jaime must have been attacked by men hired by her uncle. Jaime must be under the influence of some concoction by Pycelle, another traitor.

This could not be allowed to go on any further.

After she gracefully exited the chambers she was quick to return to her chambers. There she found Qyburn waiting patiently by the door.

"Qyburn, just the man I was looking for."

"I'm at your service your grace."

XXXXXXXX

Pycelle relaxed as two feminine hands massaged his shoulders with warm oil. He was in his bathtub naked as the day he was born while his servants prepared him for his morning bath. While one of his servants massaged him the other was sent away to bring warm water.

Many would call these women servants but he knew them to be whores. Whores with a striking resemblance to Cersei Lannister. He chose these two whores for their blonde hair. With Lord Tywin dead he was left to deal with the dimwitted daughter of the Old Lion who spewed out disaster in whatever she gets involved. The Faith Militant uprising is recent evidence of the stupidity of Cersei Lannister. Not to mention, she had the audacity to bring that rebellious man into her service.

The sheer arrogance displayed by Qyburn rattled him and he was not ignorant of just who Ser Robert is. He sent a raven to the Citadel about the dark magic performed by their former colleague once he unearthed the true identity of Ser Robert Strong. It is imperative that the influence of Cersei Lannister be purged from the Iron Throne especially in the wake of the resurgence of dragons. After all, the Citadel was experienced in dealing with dragons and it required a certain finesse. They could not afford egotistical fools like Cersei Lannister near power when Westeros was being besieged by insidious powers.

So, it frustrated Pycelle to see the daughter of Lord Tywin try to break the vital alliance with the Tyrells. At this point, the only way to ensure all their heads remained on their shoulders is by strengthening the alliance with the Reach. The Citadel remained well informed of two Targaryen claimants. The one in the Stormlands and the North were under their observation. Sadly, the Citadel was unwilling to divulge more information to him other than letting him know this Daeron Targaryen posed a greater threat than this Aegon Targaryen whom even the Citadel doubted to be a Blackfyre pretender.

Westeros has a history of beating down up jumped fools in the Golden Company. Yet, Westeros also has a history with dragons and that told Pycelle to be wary of Daeron Targaryen. If that's not enough, there is Daenerys Targaryen to worry about. The proximity of King's Landing to the Targaryen seat of power in Dragonstone made the Silver Queen of the East a far greater enemy. She was also rumoured to have three dragons under her control. The frustrating piece of news is that the Citadel remained blind to her movements.

Surely, the Citadel must have some inkling of what the Targaryen Queen was up to. If they do, they have not decided to share the information with him. It was understandable in some way. The Citadel always liked to keep their hands clean. Besides, his tremulous position in the court also must be bothering the Archmaesters.

Closing his eyes he sank into the bathtub enjoying the ministration delivered by the whore. The name escaped him but a whore's name was irreverent to someone of his station. After all, he has better things to remember.

The delicate hands of the whore slowly slipped down from his shoulders to his neck and then his chest. The whore expertly applied the warm oil all across his torso which made him relax further. He leaned back further so that his head would sink into the whore's welcoming soft bosom. Taking a deep breath he let go of his worries and for a moment enjoyed the superfluity afforded to him.

Somewhere along the way, he slipped into sleep but his awareness returned when hot water was poured into his bathtub.

Shaken by the warmth he sat up but relaxed once he realized where he was. In his old age, he was getting a bit confused from time to time.

"Give me a nice bath you whores." He growled, not because he was dissatisfied or anything, simply because the whores reminded him of Cersei Lannister.

Pycelle found that he was developing a whole new level of hatred towards Cersei Lannister. If only the foolish daughter of Lord Tywin just spawned out a few children of Robert then this whole mess could have been resolved easily. The Targaryens would have found a united Westeros ready to repel their armies and dragons. Instead, years of work he and like-minded Maesters put forth before him were wasted by one blond idiot with delusions.

As it is, it took a lot of his influence and Lord Kevan's gold to extend the trial of Cersei Lannister. They had to reach out to the Starry Sept and plead on their knees with the High Sparrow to get the trial date extended. The recent defeat suffered in the Stormlands, Riverlands and the fall of Dragonstone to Daenerys Targaryen was the only reason the High Sparrow conceded to their request.

He wondered what was going on in Cersei Lannister's head. Is she so blind to think that she can just rule the seven kingdoms without anyone opposing her? Wars have been fought because of women inheriting a seat of power. The Andal tradition of not allowing women any say in governing has a solid reason. Women were creatures of passion. They were not built for war and making hard decisions when the land is in throes of Winter. It was not even his prejudice that was speaking this. The Citadel has conducted extensive studies regarding men and women and how they behave in certain conditions. Thousands of years of knowledge do not lie.

Keeping all this aside, what right did that madwomen have to rule the Seven Kingdoms. Even her incest born children held no right to govern Westeros. He feared what was in store for the kingdoms. The dragons returning to the Sunset Kingdoms is a bad omen. This means magic is once more rising in the world and it remained his sworn duty as a Sentinel to not let this happen.

All these thoughts fled him as the servant cleaning his foot tugged him hard causing Pycelle to slide into the water in a blink. Then two arms wrapped around his neck and held him down under water choking the life out of him. He thrashed around and tried to scream but he was quickly losing the energy to fight. The fear he felt only quadrupled as it became impossible to breathe. His chest flared up in pain and he felt as if his heart was about to explode. He gurgled one last time making air bubbles before everything went black.

XXXXXXX

Kevan stood by the open window overlooking the sleeping city. From his vantage point, the city looked calm. The bright moon in the sky showered the city with its silver light. The scene would have brought peace and tranquillity to anyone. But, his mind was anything but peaceful.

The coming days held nothing but trouble for him and his family. This he knew to be true. As true as the sun rising in the east. A truth that he was struggling to come to terms with simply because he was not prepared to face this reality. His dear sister has already paid the ultimate price and by continuing this war he was sentencing the rest of his family to a similar fate.

He has been trying desperately to negotiate a settlement. He offered gold, hostages and even the whole of Riverlands and North to this Daeron Targaryen. He even tried to reach out through Brynden Tully but despite exhausting every tangible offer an accord was not reached. His recent talk with Jaime let him learn that military action would only bring more death and destruction.

'Is this how Loren Lannister felt after the Field of Fire?' Kevan wondered.

His mind wandered to the past of where it all began to go awry. If only Aerys had the presence of mind to allow for the betrothal between Cersei and Rhaegar to fall through. So many wars could have been avoided. Aerys could have tied the might of the Westerlands to the Iron Throne and none would dare to challenge the might of the Iron Throne. Rhaegar would have never even looked at Lyanna Stark for his niece was a beauty beyond compare. Eddard Stark's sister had a wild beauty to her, but compared to Cersei the Stark girl was nothing.

Instead, Aerys spurned Tywin's offer and doomed Rhaegar to sickly Elia Martell. He remembered the Dornish Princess to be a kind woman, too kind and weak. She was not built for Aerys' court and as time has proven not at all suited for a Dragon's bed. It was a marriage that made many enemies for House Targaryen.

But, this was all in the past. There is no point in thinking of what could have been. Perhaps, it's a sign of his old age that he was remembering the past far vividly rather than looking forward to the future.

A shiver passed through him all of a sudden. It was as if every instinct he owned was telling him something bad was about to happen. Something that threatened his very being.

He'd be lying if he claimed he did not fear death. He feared dying knowing that he had doomed his family. Cause even with his death Kevan was not confident that Daeron Targaryen may show mercy to his wife and children. Nowadays, there was ample reason for people to hate the Lannsiters. He feared he'd not be leaving his family in a safer world at the time of his passing.

Say anything about his lord father but the man did leave something to his children. Despite all the vices that plagued Tytos Lannister he gave the tools and resources for his trueborn heirs to take House Lannister to great heights. Something that Tywin performed exceedingly well. In the time of Tytos Lannister, House Lannister was laughed at from Dorne to the Wall. Tywin took the reins and solidified the rule of House Lannister by wiping out their rivals in a year.

It'd seem the wheel of destiny has come full circle. The Lion has been the hunter for a long time and is now becoming the hunted.

'We lions can deal with wolves, stags, snakes, flacons, roses and fish. But dragons, now they are another breed.'

A green glow lit up the city making Kevan shield his eyes. It was as if a second sun appeared right on top of Visenya's Hill. With a roar, flames touched the dark clouds high in the skies bathing the whole city under the glow of green flames.

"Wildfire!" Kevan breathed, with wide eyes staring at the long tongues of green flames stretched out into the night sky.

The Sept of Baelor was consumed in throes of hot flames and screams pierced the veil of silence surrounding the city. The giant bells of the sept and stones flew across the night sky with wildfire clinging to them. It looked like green blazing comets and they struck across the city down below the hill.

Small fires began to spread all across the city and soon green explosion after explosion began to rock the city. Even inside the safety of the Red Keep, he could feel the ground shake. The windows rattled under the force of explosions and the darkness was washed away by the burning alchemical fire that was spreading all over the city.

He turned to rush out and help but was faced by dozens of children. Suddenly pain flared up as knives pierced his abdomen repeatedly. He tried to scream, maybe he did scream but he could not hear himself. He could hear only the roar of the hungry flames and screams of the innocents down below. His legs felt numb and his hands felt like they weighed a dozen stones. He could hardly feel but he could still see and that let Kevan know he was on the floor with blood rushing out like a stream.

Kevan could feel his lungs getting filled with blood that made it difficult to breathe. With half lid eyes, he watched as a man step out from the shadows.

"You...traitor!" Kevan rasped.

"I've great respect for you, my lord. Know that I hold no ill will upon you or your family. But orders are orders, my lord. The Queen wish for her son to be safe and she could no longer trust you to make this happen. My deepest condolences." said Qyburn before nodding to the children.

As the children rushed him with blades and began to stab him over and over, Kevan thought of his family one last time. He thought of his sweet wife Dorna, his sons Lancel, Willem and Martyn and his only daughter Jaeni.

In the end, Kevan breathed his last knowing that House Lannister's end would not come at the hands of Daeron Targaryen. To him, Cersei destroyed House Lannister. He could at least say to his brother that he shielded their House from all the enemies from the outside but forgot the dangerous enemy hiding on the inside.

But down below, the streets of King's Landing where the smallfolk dwelled, it was as if the seven hells spilt out into the open. They had no great legacies to defend but their lives and meagre possession. They had no stone castles to call their homes and so they burned. They had no banners to their name. No songs would be written of the brave few who tried to save others in the chaos. No Maester will record the events of their meagre lives for they were irreverent in the grand and bloody history of Westeros. They were just a canvas upon which the artist would paint the story. The canvas itself would remain unimportant for the attention was always on the story that's painted on the canvas.

When the high lords play the Game, the smallfolk suffers. And so, the wheel spun crushing many beneath it as it always has and always will.

AN:

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To read in advance; pat(r) eon. C (O) M/Dragonspectre