A/N: Here we are, the project that was promised.

I may well upgrade this to M in the future, but for now its rated T so everyone can see it.

This particular story was written at the behest/request of Adventreader221.

Working title is Dance of the Dread.

Gee, now which dragon was called the DREAD again? Three guesses as to who its about. First two don't count. Yup. HIM. Its going to blow your socks off in time.

Speaking of time...

As my fifteen year anniversary on this site draws ever nearer, I find myself reflecting on the little things in life. What was once a lazy pastime meant for me and a few friends really grew and evolved over time. There are days when I look back on the last fifteen years here and I wonder if anyone will remember me; if I made an impact, despite never making a single cent on any of these stories. Some days were happier than others, and some stories I enjoyed writing WAY too much; to the point where I'd stay up all night working on them.

And of course, there are times when I look to the future and wonder what will become of things when I'm gone.

Of course, I try not to dwell on the latter overmuch; I'm still alive and still writing. In an ideal world, I'd like to keep doing so for as long as I can. But old age is catching up to me and these days, the world is filled with so much madness and death. The recent earthquake in Turkey/Syria serves as a terrible example. Even before that, so many friends and fellow writers I once knew are gone, now. Will I still be here in twenty years? Ten? Five? Its a chilling thought. But for now, I'm still here, still writing.

Once more, we're sticking with the "Embers" rule for this story, and others. Meaning folks don't like this, it won't be continued. If the story itself ain't popular/well-received...well, I won't be able to continue it. I'm working two jobs, holidays are here too, meaning I barely have time to write; as such, I cannot afford to write something folks don't enjoy.

So by all means, speak up! Your voice matters! Make yourself heard! As ever, reviews are the fuel that sustain me. Without them I cannot write a single word. Simple as that. Working nearly all hours of the day keep me absurdly busy, and I can't bring myself to write something folks don't like.

No questions yet again. Gotta keep it interesting~! Alright, I've kept you long enough!

So here we go. The fate of this story depends on you, the reader. Your feedback determines the fate of this tale, and many others.

Once more, I own no quotes, references, or memes. Not a wit or a one. NOT! A! THING!

They're all tributes to legends far greater than little 'ol me. Now then..

"The crown cannot stand strong if the house of the dragon remains divided.

Which side will you choose? Green? Black? Neither?

Or will you rise?


Dance of the Dread

He was dying.

Balerion could feel in his old bones.

After hundreds of years death had come for him at long last.

He could cling on awhile longer he knew. Persist perhaps a few years more before his body finally failed him. But what point was there? Many of his kith and kin were long dead. Only a fading legacy remained. Aegon, his first rider, long passed. Maegor, his second, had followed soon thereafter. His third, the prince, Viserys, was a weak man who had only ridden him once and never dared again. Vhagar, his only living sibling from the Day of Hatching, was far from here. She at least might mourn his death, but she'd never reach him in time no matter how hard she flew.

It was time.

A small part of him mourned this ignoable end; if he was to die, he wished to die hard, going out in a blaze of glory. Not to simply wither and waste away into old age. There was no glory in this death. He was the Dread, a lord of dragons, last to see old Valyria before the Doom. And yet now, he could scarcely lift his wings, let alone his head. His fire had faded. Only embers remained.

"You too, huh?"

Balerion creaked an ancient eye open.

A man stood before him, at least the old wyrm assumed it was such. He was so bright. Almost blindingly so. He burned like the sun itself. Balerion could not see his face. His own weakened vision coupled with the man's radiance made it impossible. Back in his prime he would have snapped him up in a single bite. Now it was all he could do to growl.

"Easy, now." the man drawled. "I'm not here to fight. I was wondering what I sensed, all the way out here...

He laid a golden palm on his snout. Strange man. Who was he? What did he want?

Balerion rumbled a question.

"I've lived a long time too, ya know." the man's forehead touched his scales. "Too long. Everyone I ever knew is dead and gone. But you, you'll remember me, won't you? I think...

His palm pulsed. There could be no other word for it.

...that you need this more than I do. Here. Take it. Take it all."

Strength flowed into Balerion, bright and heady to shimmer beneath his bones. His fading fire blazed anew, his eyes shimmering with molten flame. He felt young again. Powerful.

"There we go. A life for a life." The golden man sagged against him, dimmer than before. "Make good use of it." Here at last, Balerion glimpsed blue eyes framed by whiskered cheeks and blond hair, streaked through with grey. "Live on a little longer, will you? Live." the old man grinned up at him, fingers weaving together, forming a strange series of symbols he couldn't comprehend. "And someday, we'll see each other again.

The Light flared one last time, so bright that Balerion was forced to closed his eyes against it.

When he opened them again, the man of light was gone.

Only a battered headband remained.

(...Many Years Later...)

She was dying.

Rhea Royce could feel it, feel her body tearing open on the birthing bed.

Every instant was pain. Every second, agony, torment upon torment, piquing as she screamed.

Damn that Daemon. A pox upon that Targaryen bastard. She'd only laid with him once. Once! And he'd brought this upon her. She'd gotten him drunk out of spite on their wedding day; if only to teach him a lesson. Even the Vale's sheep are prettier he'd said Ha! She'd wanted to make him eat those words. Uglier than a sheep was she? Ha! She'd shown him...



...or so she'd thought at the time. More fool she. She hadn't been able to rid herself of this child. His child. Oh, she had tried at first. She'd tried and tried and TRIED but day by day, week by week, month by month the life within her only grew stronger. Eventually she'd given up. Now she would bring this child into the world, if only to spite him.

"Push, my lady!" the midwife urged her. "You must push!"

Rhea did so with a howling scream; one she was certain all of Runestone heard.

By the old gods and new, the pain! It went on and on and on without end! Her hands fisted in the sheets as she prayed for release.

At long last an angry wail answered her, almost as angry as she was. She slumped against her pillows, spent.

Dimly, she heard the Maester's voice. "Its a boy, my lady!"

A son? Pity. She'd hoped for a girl. "Let me see him...

Soon enough the cord was cut and he was pressed into her arms, wrapped in clean blue linen. She touched his face with trembling fingers. His complexion was healthy while his hair pale, almost silvery blond, his eyes a deep, striking violet-on-blue. Odd. Where those whiskers on his cheeks? Rhea tried to speak his name, the one she'd thought of for him...but she couldn't. Something compelled her to say another.

"Naruto." her tongue betrayed her as surely as the realm had. "His name is Naruto."

Rhea held him in her arms, rocking him too and fro. He stared up at her and grew quiet, almost eerily so.

Gods above, she felt so faint. So tired. So very tired. Her eyes began to droop, despite her best attempts to keep them open.

A dragon's roar shook the keep and hauled her back from the brink. Her heart leaped into her throat and not at all in a good way. She clutched her son close to her breast, ignorant of the delighted noise he made. No. It couldn't be. She'd not said a word to anyone. Kept herself in seclusion the moment her belly began to swell. The Hand of the King couldn't have spies here, surely. So how...?


She heard raised voices. Heavy footfalls. Coming closer now.

The door flung itself open. A knight fell through and he walked over their stunned form.

"Don't get up on my account." There it was. That voice. That damn indefatigable voice, so smug, so arrogant.

Clad in full armor and smelling of dragon, Daemon Targaryen marched into the room, helmet tucked under one. He took one look at her, then at the babe in her arms, and her bloody bed, and his smile faded. He looked as horrified as she felt right now. Rhea took some bitter pleasure in that. For once in his life, the Prince was utterly speechless. Good. Served him right.

"What do you want?" she rasped at him. "Come to humiliate me again?"

He took a single silent step forward, heedless of her glare. The maester stepped aside for him. Coward. No one dared defy a Targaryen, least of all the heir to the Iron Throne. She tried to turn away but he was too quick. He tugged the cloth back from the babe and saw his face, his eyes, his hair. She heard the sharp intake of breath that followed. It was a mercy he didn't rip the boy from her arms then and there. He would soon, she knew. She'd lost too much blood. It had been a difficult birth. Too difficult. She could see her word going dark at the edges, feel herself slipping away.

"I hope your happy." Spite flashed in his eyes as she sneered at him. "You've killed me. This boy, your boy, killed me."

Daemon looked to the Maester. The man shook his head. His silence infuriated Rhea.

"Nothing to say?" she snarled.

He looked to her at last.

...for what its worth, I may not have loved you, but I never wished this upon you." his words rattled her more than she cared to admit. "I didn't want you to die. Not like this."

Lies! Deceit and trickery! "A fine job you've done, then!"

Silence was his answer. No. She wouldn't let these be her last words.

"The boy's name...is Naruto." Rhea could feel herself growing faint, now, bloodloss at last taking its toll. "You take care of him, you hear?" She grabbed at his arm, clasping it with trembling fingers and shoved her son at him. "Don't you dare cast him aside. Promise me, Daemon. For once in your miserable, spoiled life, do the right thing. Promise me. Tell me you'll protect him. Say you'll keep him safe."



His gaze flitted to the babe. His grip shifted to hold him, cradling him.

Rhea could hold on no longer. She fell into the darkness.

Her final thoughts lay with her boy. He had to live.

He must live!


A son.

He had a son.

Daemon hadn't expected a son.

What in the nine hells was he going to do with a son? What could he?! That blasted bitch had left him with one final insult. This was all her fault. He hadn't thought much of one night of drunken passion; why would he, when he hadn't heard from her since? He'd wanted nothing to do with her at the time, nor she him. He'd only found out about the birth purely through chance. Damn that slithering snake of a Hightower. He remembered the smirk on his face, the smile when he'd told him.

"I understand congratulations are in order."

He'd cuffed him on the jaw and flown straight here on Caraxes...just in time to watch her die.

Damnit. Damnitall to the seven hells. If he had known the damn Royce woman was with child before this, he...

...would have done nothing.' a nasty little voice -his voice!- whispered to him. 'You hated her. She hated you, and you...ha! You don't want to be a father. Let us kill the boy and be done with it.'

Daemon recoiled. He'd done many things, many dark deeds, but to kill a baby, a boy with his blood...?

"What am I to do with you?"

At a loss, he gazed down at the infant. He was no father. In truth he'd never wanted to be. Yet for him to have a son while Viserys, his own brother struggled to produce one...it felt like destiny. He was still the heir. Which would make this boy his heir.

So silent. The boy wasn't making a sound. He was just...looking at him.

"My lord...?"

Blast, he'd forgotten all about the Maester.

Steeling himself, he tucked the boy against is chest and marched up to the old man. The maester stood his ground. Balked a little, as he pressed the babe into his arms.

"Find a nurse for him." he commanded. "As soon as he's fit to travel, he'll be brought to King's Landing."

High above, he heard Caraxes roar in triumph.


Balerion woke slowly.

Age had left his old bones sore, slumber moreso, but here at last, he was awake. He'd felt something just now, an old tremor in his ancient bones. Curious. There had been a shift in the world. An awakening. He felt it. So far, so distant, yet he knew it all the same. He had clung to his life in the hopes of feeling that presence once more. Slept to marshal his new found strength.

So many years of sleep, waking only to eat, stretch his wings, and rest again. He hadn't flown in years. Yet he had lived.

And now. He felt it. His return. The man who had given his life for his, born again into the world.

He wasn't the only one to notice.

He could hear the Dragons down in Kings Landing, their cries echoing from the dragon pit across the Seven Kingdoms. Caraxes in Vale, roaring at the mountains. Vhagar from her distant perch, even that damnable rogue down in Dragonstone, he who feasted upon their own kind.

All the dragons cried out to celebrate his birth.

Balerion laid his mighty head down upon the coast and contented himself to wait.

Perhaps he had reason to live awhile yet.

They would soon meet again.

May they meet again.

A/N: And there we go.

Well? Did you enjoy it? Yay or nay! Really need to hear back from you all, here.

As ever, the Embers rule Remains; sad as that may sound, its the truth. If folks don't like this story...well, it won't be continued. Most likely, I'll leave the first chapter up and consign the rest to the void it comes to that. I haven't the time to write something folks don't like. Two jobs keep me terribly busy as such that I have barely any time to write.

So...in the Immortal Words of Atlas...

...Review...Would You Kindly!

And as ever, Le warning!




Granted, some are pretty far in the future, but still.


The heavens shook.

"I don't fear fire. Its quite comfortable, really. No, what I fear is the dirt. Being lowered into a box, my body left to rot. That won't be my fate."

"Why not bond yourself to a dragon? Many of them seem quite fond of you.

His son smirked, idly stroking Carxes's chin. "The one I want still has a rider."

Daemon quirked a brow. "Oh?"

"You know the one."

He watched the boy fling up a fish, watched now, as the blood wyrm snapped it up. Which one indeed? Not Caraxes certainly, and not Syrax. Seasmoke wasn't a factor either at that. Only the gods knew where Vhagar was these days and he'd already refused Vermithor. Which left...




Realization dawned. He barked a laugh. "You certainly don't lack for ambition, do you?"

"What's the point in giving peasants money? Its fucking Fleabottom. A bit of coin won't change that."

"Then I will make it better!"

Naruto looked left. Naruto looked right. Made certain no one was near, no guards in the dead of the night.

Then he raced up the wall, running full tilt.

"Stay away from my daughter."

"Alicent can spend her free time however she wishes." Daemons bastard of a boy grinned at him. "She isn't your slave...whatever you might think."

It was time.

For the first time in decades.

Here and now, Balerion spread his wings and took flight.

"Kill him, you fools! He's just a boy! You have swords! Use them!

"A boy doesn't move like that! Oh gods, here he comes again-


Blood spattered the wall.

"I greet you, He Who is Loved by Dragons."

"Power resides where men believe it resides. Its a trick. A shadow on the wall. Anyone can cast a large shadow. Especially that child.

Rhaenyra tugged on his arm. "This way."

Naruto sighed. "Such an impatient little cousin I have...