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Why must father make me attend this blasted university.
The class was full and boasted nearly a hundred other students besides myself. Nearly all of them were wealthy children from around my fathers kingdom. The current class I was sitting in was a course on Macroeconomics, written by my father of course. Luckily the semester was in full swing and the others in the class had gotten used to my presence.
And the presence of the guards as well.
I glanced to my left and right while I took notes on the boring lecture in front of me. My personal guards heads were on a swivel, and constantly looking around the room for threats. They would find none. There were even more guards at the door to the classroom. Whoever made an attempt on my life would only succeed on dragonback. Even then they would have to get past Tyr.
The thought of my golden-scaled dragon caused me to stop my note taking. I could feel the wind flowing through my hair, and how the saddle would rub against the inside of my thigh. There was no better place than in the sky.
Or maybe the training field…
And just like that my mind wandered and I forgot all about the lecture taking place in front of me. Through our bond, I could feel Tyr roar and begin to fly back to the university. He would land in a couple of minutes, just about when the lecture would stop.
"Pay attention, little dragon…" Nakan, my guard and sword teacher, whispered in my ear. He was my closest friend, and also a harsh mentor. I looked over to him and found the scar he still bore from when he was a child. It was there on his neck, a brand that marked him as a former slave.
From slave to royal guard. What a story it must be. I thought as I imagined him fighting alongside my fathers legion in the streets of Tyrosh.
"As I can see glazed eyes, it must be enough for the day. Two feet on the effects of imposing tariffs on the spice trade due by the next lecture." The professor, another former slave by the name of Lazeo Ormoris called out. He had worked directly under Aunt Lena at the bank for years before getting the position at the university. He was brilliant when it came to numbers, and their effects on the world. He was also next in line for Dean of the University when it next became available.
Thank the gods, old and new.
I shoved my leatherbound notebook into the satchel laying on the floor next to the desk and stood up. Nakan was already walking with his hand on his sword clearing a way for me.
Just then, the ground shook and I felt Tyr purr through our bond. He was eager to fly as well. It would be the first time since he had snuck out and been punished by mother last month. Punished from flying for going flying. A truly cruel punishment.
I barely paid attention as the guards around me led me through the crowds of people older than myself. It was only when my feet touched the pasture that I broke off from them in a run. Tyr's massive form was already laying there, scaring off the other members of the college. Even after months of being around him, they were still scared.
"Careful…" I ignored Nakan's warning.
My feet planted on the bone of his wing and I laughed as I ran along it, carefully balancing and avoiding sharp spikes as I went. When I hit the saddle, he barely let me strap my legs in before he flapped his wings and we were off.
I suppose it's time to join them.
Tyr immediately dove, causing me to laugh hysterically as the wind increased and my heart leapt into my throat. Just above the ground, he pulled up playfully.
There were three more dragons in the fields below us, along with their owners. Weirña, and the two young dragons of my brothers. They had received them when they were 10, just as I had received Tyr. They were so young that I hadn't quite remembered their names. It didn't help that my brothers were always off doing something other than studying. They were still allowed to enjoy their childhood, although it was coming to an end.
Both of the twins' dragons were black, and it was hard for me to tell them apart. They were currently flying around Weirña's massive form and pestering the old dragon. Although, they hadn't been too annoying for her to react just yet.
Weirña's head looked up to the sky and stared at Tyr's golden form as we reached the ground and he flapped his wings a couple of more times for a soft landing. I was slow to take off the straps that held me in place. I even considered just sitting there for a moment.
"Don't even think about it! Get down here, your father and I have something to tell you." Mother said with a pointed finger and a deadly tone of voice. I obeyed, and quickly untied the straps on my legs.
When I finally dismounted and my feet hit the ground, my legs buckled slightly. It had been a while since we rode, and we might have taken a few detours along the way. Nothing that could be proven of course.
Mother held Rena's hand as her and father both moved forward to embrace me. Arthur and Alexander held wooden swords in their hands and were currently holding a duel off to the side. They were too big to hug their older brother.
Tyr growled menacingly, and my eyes widened as I knew what was about to happen. Weirña sat up lightning fast and her head snaked out towards Tyr. She didn't attack him, but she did get close and her own growl caused the ground beneath us to rumble.
"Enough!" Father commanded. Both dragons looked to him, before bowing their heads and laying them on the ground. They were both eyeing each other out of the side of their heads.
You're too confident. I warned my dragon as I eyed the white-scaled beauty that my father called his own. Tyr ignored me and continued to sulk.
I embraced mother first, and I could feel her shaky breathing. She was always so terrified of the dragons, and a decade of having them around hadn't changed that. I couldn't understand that part of her. Tyr would never hurt me, and Weirña was perhaps even more protective of our family.
Father playfully ripped me off of mother and brought me into his chest. They shared a glare that held no fire to hit. Father always took every opportunity to get a rise out of mother. Flirting, as I have come to know it.
"How was the lecture?" He asked.
My mood soured. "Awful, and I have two feet due by next week, along with my mathematics assignment." I told him as I disengaged from him. Immediately I was barrelled into by my little sister. She wrapped herself around my leg but didn't say anything. She was a lot like mother around the dragons. They scared her.
She's actually a clone of mothers. I thought as I pondered it for a moment. Her dark hair and matching laughing eyes were proof of that. I would have to beat the suitors off of her when she was older.
"Most in the university are taking 5 classes a week. You only take 2." Father said, uncaring of my assignment.
"They're adults!" I protested quickly. We had the argument all the time, and it always ended the same way.
"Not all!" My father said. And just before I went to protest some more, he held a hand up and silenced me. "Now I have an announcement to make. Arthur, Alexander, get over here for a moment."
The twins obeyed, as they always did father, and sprinted over to where we stood.
"I am traveling to Pentos tonight and will most likely be there for a moon or so." He said as he picked up Rena and held her close. Her lower lip quivered for a moment, before he shoved her face into the crook of his neck. She may look like mother, but she was attached to father at the hip whenever he wasn't ruling the kingdom.
I was probably the only one besides my mother that realized what he was going there for. I had been in the war rooms, and I had heard the discussions between the generals. I couldn't help but worry for him.
"I know, I know, baby. But I'll be back soon and you're brothers will play with you, won't they?" Father looked at us with dangerous eyes, and the three of us immediately nodded along.
"Yes, sir!" We called out.
We didn't talk much about him leaving after that, but I still worried. Mother would force us to play a game of cards together that night as a family before he left. I could tell she was worried about it as well.
Pentos was a grand city.
Its walls were high, perhaps even higher than Myr's. There were more guards lining the walls than Myr did, and it even had ballista bolted into them every 50 feet. Now that dragons have graced the world again with their presence, nearly every city has invested in the technology. However, despite all of its defenses and men, the streets were packed full of protesters.
The cloak on my head was not of very fine make. It was black, plain, and unbefitting of a person of my caliber. Had the people not been busy protesting, they might have caught a glimpse of the legendary weapon on my hip, or the eyes that were barely hidden beneath the cloak.
Unfortunately, the cloak did very little to protect me from the rain that fell down from the heavens.
Ten men surrounded me. They too wore black cloaks that covered their features and the fine swords on their waists. Every single one of them had opted against the very thing we were doing. But this was years in the making, and I would see the job completed.
Plus there is a sort of irony to this meeting.
Eventually, after much pushing through the crowds of the city, we reached our destination. It was a simple building of red brick and a tile roof. I could tell that it wasn't built very well, along with the rest of the buildings that surrounded it. We were not anywhere near the mances of this city, and the buildings proved that.
There were two men that lined the door, an odd thing for an establishment of this section of the city. Eight more flanked the walls of the building. The person I was meeting hadn't deceived me, it seemed. He would be foolish to even try. They were big and wore black cloaks just as my party did. To my well trained eye, I knew them for what they were.
Royal guards, not unlike my own.
My men marched straight up to the two guarding the door and stopped. They didn't say anything, and neither did the two guards. I pulled the collar of my cloak down slightly to show a weirwood brooch resting there.
The two guarding the door nodded, and I stepped forward. They held a hand up, and my men reacted to their quick movement. All of them gripped the hilt of their swords on their waist.
I held a hand up to stop them, and waited for the men to demand something.
The one to my right pointed beside him, where a sword belt sat, with sword and dagger gracing it. It was an obvious demand and one I had no problem with. I quickly unbelted my own sword belt and held it out behind me. My men would be the ones to hold it, and not the opposite guards.
There are tens of millions of people that would jump at the opportunity to steal Heartsbane, the legendary weapon of King Petyr. It was spoken of with the same reverence that Blackfyre was.
Once the sword belt and its contents were taken from my hand, the man on the right reached over to the door and opened it. I didn't waste any time walking forward. My men pulled their swords three inches out of their sheaths as a warning for the guards I was passing not to do anything rash.
I passed through the doorway unharmed and was immediately met with the warmth and smell of a fireplace. I even heard the crackling of the logs to the side of the room and glanced to see a fireplace with a chimney rising through the tavern.
There was a single table in the entire room. There were two cups, already poured full of what looked to be ale. I would not be participating, as I did not trust the man that sat at the table waiting on me.
I peeled the soaked cloak off of my frame, and hung it on the rack beside the front door. There was only one other that was hooked there dripping onto the floor. I ran a hand through my short black hair and did my best to slick it back. Strands fell out of place, on either side of my head, because of the water still in it.
"Ferrego Antaryon, Sealord of Braavos and future king to the Kingdom of Braavos." I called out in High Valyrian as I began walking over to the table he was still seated at.
"Petyr Baelish. King of the United Lands." Ferrego retorted quickly. His High Valyrian was impressive, as I expected it to be.
His health, however, was not. He was overweight, and although the clothes he wore were tailored to his frame, his belly still hung over his belt by a significant amount. His hair and beard was salt and peppered, showing he was not as young as he wanted to be. There was no doubt as to why he would fall into bad health in a few years. Perhaps he already was in bad health. Perhaps that's why he made so many moves, so quickly in the last few years.
"First we drink." Ferrego said as he grabbed the mug in front of him and held it high.
"I don't think I will." I denied him with a small smile. I was no fool, nor was I trusting. Braavos and Myr were not in the best of standings as of recently, despite the heavy trade between the two cities. And it all stemmed from the actions of us two.
Ferrego's eyebrows rose in surprise. "Fine, more for me." He said as he tilted the mug up and took four massive gulps of the liquid inside. It was soon gone, and he slammed the mug back down onto the table.
I didn't react to the slam, nor to the debris of ale that flew into the air because of it. I sat back in my chair and crossed my fingers waiting for the meeting to begin.
"Now, I assume you chose this location and date intentionally. I will tell you however, that it will not matter. Pentos will never join your kingdom. Braavos has long held dominion over the city, and we will not allow it to slip from our grasp." Ferrego declared with a broad grin before he reached over and grabbed the mug he had set out for me and brought it to his lips.
Before he drank, though, he spoke again.
"Especially not when I have lit the flames of war underneath the city. Before the next winter, Braavos' borders will expand to the Forest of Qohor and as far south as Ar Noy." The Sealord claimed with a broad smile and began to drink.
I nodded along the entire time, as I had heard the man's proclamation many times. He was fond of yelling it everywhere he went.
A new Sealord, looking to make his name in history.
"Hmm, I see." I told him calmly before continuing. "However, if my knowledge of geography serves me correctly, then Braavos has just declared for the Flatlands. As you may know, I claimed the Flatlands, and have ruled over it for 7 years now."
The man laughed into his cup and nodded his head along. "Yes indeed. I care not for your petty kingdom or rule Petyr. Braavos has ruled Essos in all but name for hundreds of years. I will see an empire built that will dwarf the Seven Kingdoms. Your 10 year reign will be forgotten in less than a year. Your people…"
I expected to become a more patient man as I grew older. After all, I had conquered three cities and united millions of people under my name all before I had turned 17 years old. Some could blame that on my youthful ambition. I was even younger when I helped Robert conquer the Seven Kingdoms.
After ten years of prosperity in my kingdom. Ten years of perfecting a bureaucratic masterpiece that practically ran itself. Ten years of innovation. After all of that, I couldn't help but think my kingdom was too small on the map. Even with the Flatlands, it didn't compare to Robert's seven Kingdoms.
It was unacceptable.
"To be honest, this was all a trap." I interrupted the man as I reached down underneath the table and retrieved a dagger of the finest make from my inventory. It was well known in my last life as Lightbringer and the Catspaw Dagger. It was Valyrian Steel with a dragonbone handle and I just loved it.
I brought it out for him to see.
As soon as I did that, the sounds of metal on metal could be heard outside of the tavern we were in. Our guards were fighting, and although I knew that I would lose a couple of them, my men would win. Their training was the harshest in the world and it would take more than waterdancing to kill them.
The reaction was delayed, probably because of all the alcohol the Sealord consumed on a daily basis. He reminded me of what Robert was becoming. Weak, drunk, and a fucking idiot. Ferrego stood up and backed away from the table with a surprised look on his face.
"You wouldn't dare…" He snarled at me as he finally planted his feet and stood his ground.
"Oh I would. You see you were correct in your deduction that I was behind the unrest in Pentos. It is unlike the other cities I have conquered. Tyrosh and Lys were slave colonies, and most of it's people begged to be freed. It required no effort at all truthfully. I just had to kill the right people…" I began my story as the fighting continued outside.
"But this city, I knew would take time and a lot of effort. So when I claimed the Flatlands, I knew Pentos would levy tariffs on our goods. That was when my people infiltrated the city. The speeches you have heard were placed into the pockets of the most unhappy and vocal smallfolk of this city. For years, I have been seeding this city with doubt of the rulers. 'Why can't the taxes be like Myr?' 'Why haven't we prospered like Myr?' 'Why do we live in shit, when my cousin is able to send his children to school everyday?' and more recently: 'Why doesn't Pentos join Petyr's Kingdom? Then we can prosper too.'" I laid out my actions over the last few years to him.
"I admit, it didn't act as fast as I would have wanted. Your agents were effective for the first 3 years. It wasn't until I retaliated with my own tariffs on the city that the smallfolk began to really feel despair. And when my ships began sinking random trade vessels from Pentos… who could have known that it wasn't pirates? That added pressure was just enough for the word to begin spreading. And spread it did!" I stood up after that and drew the dagger from its sheath.
The door banged open behind me, and I turned to see a body running towards me. It was one of the Sealord's men and he had a sword in his hand. He tried a slash that was quick and well thrown. But I had been fighting at the peak of human standards for a decade. I was a master at all known weapons. Give me a dagger and five men would die before they could react.
I turned my body, and watched the sword pass two inches from my face. My hand was shoving Lightbringer into the man's throat before he could finish the attack. He fell through the table we were previously sitting at and sent wooden debris flying as the table splintered apart. I looked to the door to see one of my men running inside, in pursuit of my would be assassin. He stopped when he saw the man on the floor and turned around before leaving the tavern again, silently closing the door as he did so.
When I turned to the Sealord, he was staring at the body on the ground. He hadn't even tried to retrieve the sword from the man's hand and attack me. I was disappointed in the old warrior. He was supposedly a very deadly man in his earlier years. It was the main reason he was appointed Sealord.
"You wouldn't know it because you were in this city instead of Braavos. But last night Lord Ben Redscale and his dragon Anogar the Bloody tore down what was left of the Titan of Braavos. This morning my delegate delivered the reasoning of such a dastardly deed. You see, you tried and failed to kill me last night. You died in the attempt of course but my wrath has been known far and wide for years now. I will be forgiven of my retaliation from the new Sealord as long as I agree to a formal alliance. In three weeks' time, your rival Tormo Fregar will be sworn in as Sealord of Braavos and with my support, he will conquer Lorath, Norvos, and Qohor."
The man was in shock. His face was pale, and his mouth moved to respond to me but he couldn't. What I was telling him wasn't possible.. Was it? The Titan of Braavos was a symbol for the city's power. He was wondering if I was lying.
I had witnessed the bronze structure crumble under pressure of dragonfire from the comfort of my ship. I was not lying.
"Alright, enough of the monologue. Pick up his sword." I commanded as I pointed to the dead man laying on the wood.
The Sealord looked at me with hope in his eyes. Then his gaze flickered between myself and the sword in the dead guard's hand.
The door to the tavern opened and at the same time thunder shook the entire city. It was a proper storm outside, and yet I still had work to do. I turned to the door as soon as the Sealord shuffled to the man beneath me.
One of my guards entered with my sword belt in hand. I took it from him and swiftly threaded the belt through the sheath of the Catspaw dagger. When I turned back to the Sealord, he was twirling the weight of the sword in his hand. I walked to my right, around the dead guard and the table.
He mimicked me and walked to his left, keeping the table and dead body between us.
I stopped and drew my sword before deciding that I would get one last word in before I attacked.
"You should consider it an honor."
I walked out of the tavern as I used a piece of cloth to wipe the blood from my hands.
Instead of plain clothes, I wore my normal attire. Black breeches and a black doublet with my house standard stitched into the front of it. My crown rested on my brow, showing off my status. I even wore my sword belt still. The people of Pentos would know that I was here soon.
I looked up to see lines upon lines of the Myrish Legion waiting in the streets patiently. Not a single one of the men had blood on their armor. There would be very little fighting today. All the work that went into conquering this city was completed. Now I just had to make a spectacle of it.
The crowd that we had pushed our way through to get to this tavern were gone.
"The gates were open as you asked, My King. The small folk have flooded into the upper city." One of my sword guards, and one of the most talented swordsmen I had come across, said.
"Thank you Irro. Let's begin our march." I told him as I walked in front of my legion. As soon as I got to the front of them, I picked up my walking pace slightly. My royal guard, the equivalent to the Kingsguard of Westeros, surrounded me quickly. We had lost two members in the fight with the Sealord, but that was a very good outcome in my opinion.
It took us 30 minutes to catch up to the crowd. All the houses and businesses we passed were mostly vacant, but you could see a small head or two poking out of a window watching us with wide eyes.
It was a beautiful thing to watch the crowd notice me and my legion of only 500 men. It started with one single person who looked back curious at the sounds of my men marching. After that, it was like a wave spread through the crowd. They all turned to us and all of them had looks of shock across their faces.
Once I had instigated an uprising inside the city, and opened the gates to the high city where the magisters and the rich lived, nobody took notice of my ships taking over the Port of Pentos. No guard went unpaid, and no guard ran to send word to the city watch. All of them were smallfolk as well, and had been suffering alongside their fellows. They were eager to embrace my ships and allow them into the city. Why would they fight for the magisters that abandoned them?
Especially against an army of Myrish standard.
I walked forward, towards the crowd of stunned Pentoshi. I didn't get 50 feet from them, and they immediately began to shove themselves out of the way. Slowly, the people parted for my legion, and allowed us to pass.
Weirña dove out of the raining clouds and roared above me.
I warned you of a time skip. This is the start of a new act and I'll use this A/N to explain the timeline a bit.
This is 10 years after Petyr conquered Lys. He is in his mid-twenties at this point and Vorian is closer to 12 years old while Arthur and Alexander are around 10. I won't spoil some of the innovations he's made over the past decade. That much I'll try to weave into the story like a proper author would do.
And it will kick off a chain of events that Petyr wasn't quite expecting, that's for sure.
Let's talk about it in the reviews!