Chapter 1: The Last Lion - part 1
Jaime Lannister woke up from a nightmare in a cold sweat. For sixteen years he had the same dream. However, it was only a transformation of the real nightmare that he truly outlived long time ago. But endlessly repetition, combined with his unhampered imagination, made this memory much more ominous than the Old Nanny’s Tales. This one was a tale about bloody red, radiant green and glorious gold. In his thirty third spring Jaime Lannister thought that he saw everything. That he could not be surprised by any kind of glory or doom. That he experienced all the joy and all the suffer that life can offer to him. But he was so wrong.
He laid on a thin bunk and tried to calm his irregular heartbeat. He stopped himself from vomiting. Jaime thought that the last thing he needs is to vomit in his own tent. He tried to throw away of his mind: the memory of the bodies covered with shrouds of golden hair and blood. When he came back from King’s Landing to Casterly Rock, sixteen years ago, he dreamt about it every single night. He knew, that he will not asleep tonight. Once, he became calm only in the wolf’s hour, when he was too overwhelmed to keep his eyes open. Then, and only then, his sister came back to him. But not anymore.
Only few moments of a peace before the same day. Am I begging for too much? Jaime took of his nightshirt and washed his face with cold water. He slipped into leather pants, jacket and boots, caught a torches and got out of a tent. He was surrendered by a fogg, as delicated as spider’s web, which has been swallowed everything over the horizon: neighbouring tents, belonged to the other commanders, and countless tents of the recruits. Within months, there will be wooden houses and paved streets. They would guide to the stables, made for ten thousands horses, and kitchens, bathrooms and brothels prepared for seventy thousands knights and their squires and commanders. Aerys had never planned anything with so much precision. Jaime thought about it, when he walked through the dusty road in a direction of the rising sun.
But he turned back, because every time when he go to the east he thought about what he had lost. Every time he thought about the past, the moment when he had everything what he ever wanted: the white cloak of the King’s Guard, the body of his beloved sister and the warm sun of King’s Landing. Although, it had been just for a Year of a False Spring, but the memories were grievous they are poisoning every bitter moments of his banishment. But is this truly a banishment? I could have lost my head, like the other men of my family, like the half of the greatest lords in Westeros. As Tyrion says: death is finality, but life is full of possibilities. One of them is “to redeem the trespasses”. That is what king Aerys The Second wrote in his letter, when he called Jaime for one of the commanders in the King’s Army. So Jaime came to fields on the Red Lake a couple of weeks ago and has been started trainings with new recruits from every part of the Seven Kingdoms.
When he walked through the fields of tents, he thought about all these knights, still sweet summer children. They know nothing other than spring, because they were born during the longest spring on this era. Everyone was born after Robert Baratheon’s rebellion or they were children and do not remember anything about it. That was Aerys first and main condition. All of them belong to great families of Westeros, there are no peasants among them. Everyone had his own sigill or is related to the noble houses of the Seven Kingdoms. Even if their stories were written so quickly and roughly. But there was no banner with once great and undefeated beasts. There was no direwolf from Winterfell, no stag from Storm’s End, no falcon from Eyerie… The great houses died. All great lords died, except my father. And I saw the fall of every one of them - thought Jaime but somehow he focused on something else. Afar from him there was a lone rider.
Chapter 2: The Last Lion - part 2
For a very short moment Jaime thought that he is still dreaming, because this picture does not fit for a milky reality of a dawn. There was a lone rider on a great dark stallion. He was wearing a heavy leather jacket and his hair was blowing like a waves on the fresh breeze of a morning. When he was very close, Jaime saw the sigill on his coat. A brown boar, with white stains on a brown patch, of house Crakehall. But what the hell someone from Crakehall is doing here? We have all recruiters from the West, already.
- M’lord! - his shout was like the very first sound of a coming thunder. It was so unnatural in this world: full of sleepy tents with sleepy boys, whom will wake up with the full light of a morning.
- M’lord! - he shouted again - a raven from Casterly Rock!
Jaime felt squeeze in his stomach. I thought about the fall in a wrong hour! But I left home just two moons ago! What could possibly happened in such a short time? I am sure it is not a love letter from my longing brother! The man gave him a piece of parchment with a broken sigill with a Lannister’s golden lion.
- I’m sorry, m’lord, but our maester opened the letter. Maybe in other way, you will get this message to late.
To my beloved brother, ser Jaime Lannister
I know, that you just arrived and you do not even have time to get know all of your responsibilities, but you must come back to Casterly Rock.
Father is deadly ill. Maester affirmed my worst fears. This could be his last days. In fever, he is calling all of us: Mother, you, me and even Cersei and her bastards.
I know that she will never come, no matter what. T hat is why I am begging you.
Come back, at once.
I hope that my message will come to you, as soon as possible, and you will come just in time.
All I know, is that I could not bear this alone. I need you more than ever.
Yours, Tyrion Lannister
Jaime felt that his knees are trembling. When he left Casterly Rock everything was fine. As fine as always, for the last sixteen years. Father was slouching around the corridors, like ghost. The rhythm of his steps, was dictating by the echo of pickaxes, working in the mine. And Tyrion was looking after the gold, stolen from the Rock, and was sending it away to King’s Landing, and flirting with some peasant girl name Tysha.
What was happened? The last days? Is it possible? Tywin Lannister was meant to be more mighty than the Rock and he should live forever . Jaime was praying, in the deep of his heart, that father will bury him not other way around. Jaime saw death of the last wolves, stags and falcons, he will not bear the death of the last lion!
Jaime Lannister raised in the shadow of a lion, whom once blazed away everyone, including king Aerys The Second. Even Jaime, the youngest member of the King’s Guard, squire of ser Arthur Dayne, knighted by the Sword of the Morning, could not be compared with the mightiest lord Tywin Lannister. Once, everybody called Jaime the Young Lion. They promised to him that, when he grow up, he will be as famous and as powerful as his father. But Jaime does not want to be like Tywin Lannister - he thought about himself as a new ser Galladon of Morne. Because Jaime knew that the man like Tywin Lannister was born once for a thousand years and no one never think about him like they think about his father… especially after the fall. That is why Jaime never thought that one day he will see him on a deathbed.
- M’lord… - said rider.
- I need a horse, now! - Jaime could not recognised his own voice, full of anger and scared. What if I will come too late?
- That is why I’m here. Lord Crakehall gave you the horse and food supplies for your journey and his prays that the Seven will bless your journey…
- Please, tell to prince Oberyn Martell that I must go to Casterly Rock - said Jaime in a hurry. He jumped on a horse back and galloped to the western road from Crakehall to Casterly Rock. The lone rider should pass this distance in a three days, but I… I must be in the Rock tonight - thought Jaime and the stallion galloped faster, like he was under the spell. The morning chill breezed his hair and just for a second he regretted that he does not take his woolen coat.
Chapter 3: The Last Lion - part 3
Even if he does not look like for his thirties, Jaime Lannister felt like he is got much more. When he passed through his worst nightmare, he got older a decades just in one night. Not only got older, he also grown up. He had done everything, what his father always wanted from him - Jaime took the responsibilities for the family and the name. However, is there anything left? For whom and for what I become responsible? - thought Jaime. He did not care that he almost trampled a couple drunkers, whose were leaving an inn on the crossroads, near Crakehall.
He came back to the memory of a day, when the Lannisters lost everything. If there will be any maester, who wanted to describe the fall of the wealthiest and most powerful family in the Westeros, he should start with the sunny morning in 283 year after Aegon’s Conquer. He should write about that day, when Aerys The Second ordered to kill almost everyone with golden hair, green eyes and Lanniser’s name. And remember how all the court watched over it. He should remember that in his mercy the king left four Lannisters alive: lord Tywin, the only who was responsible for this situation, and his offspring. Jaime, the youngest member of the King’s Guard, Cersei the most beautiful maiden in Seven Kingdoms and Tyrion the dwarf. Jaime knew that his father made a lot of mistakes in his life, but Tywin faced with them no matter what, as proud as always.
Jaime remember that day. His sister’s scream was like the roar of harmed lioness. He remember how he looked around for her, frightened what Aerys designed for her future. He remember his brother’s fear, when Tyrion tried to huddle under Jaime’s white cloak. He remember how he hugged him and tried to calm him, to turn him away from the river of blood, which streamed through the Throne Room, from the cascades of golden hair which slowly became red and dark like a wine, from the empty eyes of their beloved uncle Gerion and aunt Genna. He remember the heavy silence upon them, after everything.
And he remember his father. Tywin Lannister looked at this horror with emotionless eyes. He did not cry, did not show anything. He was a true rock. The only sound was silence. After his sister’s scream this was almost calm and sweet, like nothing's happened.
- If that is all, let me go, your Grace - said Tywin, bowing to the king. But Aerys only laughed.
- No, my dear friend. According to the king’s will I, Aerys The Second of my name, deprive you Tywin, son of Tytos and your heirs, of the title of the Warden of the West and right to be the Lord of Casterly Rock. You may stay in the castle but there is a one condition, that all the incomes from the mines of the West will be demises to the Crown.
- If that is your will, your Grace…
- Your son, ser Jaime Lannister will be removed from the King’s Guard - first, Jaime looked at his father, than at the king, but he was too shocked to protest when ser Gerold Hightower stripped his white cloak and when his idol, ser Arthur Dayne ripped Jaime’s page from the white book. He saw that single teardrop is running down from the most beautiful purple eye of the legendary Sword of the Morning.
- Your daughter, lady Cersei Lannister will stay at the court as the handmaid of princess Elia Martell and under protection of the heir to the throne prince Rhaegar - Jaime knew what that does it mean. He knew, because he saw through last weeks that prince took under his protection other ladies of the court: the wild she-wolf from Winterfell lady Lyanna Stark, older but intelligent lady Allys Arryn from the Vale, sweet and still innocent Hoster Tully’s daughters: lady Catelyn and lady Lysa. And now Cersei, my sweet sister, mad lioness from Casterly Rock, with golden hairs, eyes green like wildfire and unharness ambition. The most precious jewel in this whore’s crown.
- Is that it all? - asked Tywin still focused on Aerys. Once, they were best friends. They raised together to make this country great again. Now, they were deadly enemies. What else Aerys could stole from Tywin? What was left for once mighty lion from Casterly Rock? The dragons burned everything with their fire.
- Yes, my lord. Now, you may go - said king Aerys with mocking tone. There was endless silent, when Tywin bowed before the king and came to his sons. He took them in his arms, like he had never done before, and took the last cubs away from the Throne Room, where still laid corps of their family. Jaime was confused and looked for his sweet sister to see her just one last time but she disappeared.
Guards took them to the courtyard where were three horses ready to way. Jaime felt tremble of his knees, when he put his younger brother in a saddle. He thought that he would rather die, fall on the floor, drown in a puddle of his own blood. In other way, he was the living picture of a failure and humiliation of the Lannister’s family. Any member of the King’s Guard was never as disgraced as he. And then he saw her.
She stood on the balcony of the highest tower of the Maegor’s Holdfast. Her golden hair was blowing by the fresh breeze from the Blackwater Bay. They stripped her house colours and gave her a new clothes: a silk, black dress with rubins. Upon her head they put a crown made of silver and precious gems. For the very first time in his life Jaime asked himself who is this strange, beauty creature because it is definitely not my twin . She never cried, not even after our mother’s death. She would never give up her red and gold for a morun black. She would never give up her title as lady of Casterly Rock and the Light of the West, for being future queen Elia’s Martell handmaiden. Cersei would never replaced him for prince Rhaegar...
- Let it go, my son - said Tywin, putting his hand upon Jaime’s shoulder. Today, he lost his daughter too and he does not want to build an illusion that she is still alive, all safe and sound, with the man she always wanted to be with. But for Jaime it was not so simple. He needed many years to accept this. The information about Cersei’s and Rhaegar’s bastards: Aemon, Daella and Baelor, helped him. But Jaime wanted to be better, above it. And he never married, never laid with another woman. Through all his life, he wanted only Cersei. So if he could not have her, he would not have any other.
They were in Casterly Rock after three days of insane ride. The Rock was three times higher than the Wall and shine upon the cliff of the Sunset Sea. It looked like always, but they knew that it is just a facade. On the doorstep waited an old maester.
- My lord… - he said doubtedly.
- Silence - snapped Tywin - I am sure that raven from King’s Landing came long before us.
- Yes, my lord, but I do not understand it. Three days ago came a new miners, they started working days and nights and they took everything from the castle including...
- My wife?!
- No, my lord, no one entered the maester’s tower… - but Tywin did not listen him. He jumped from his horse and ran to the stairs to the maester’s tower. Jaime took his younger brother and ran after their father upstairs.
Old maester who lived long before Jaime and Tyrion were born, was interesting in solving the riddle of the season’s changes. So lord Tytos ordered to build for him the highest tower and adopted it for the astronomical observatory, where he could find the answers and bring back the order of the nature.
This was Joanna’s Lannister favorite place. From here she could see all the stars and moon in the night. In the daylight there was always sun inhere. Once, Tywin said them a story that in this place he kissed their mother for a very first time. And in this place he asked for her hand by giving her the most beautiful ring in the whole world: a golden ring with a great sapphire in the crown of emeralds and diamonds. And only in this place she wanted to lay after her death. Tywin Lannister brought her here by himself and put her death body in a glass’ coffin and covered her body with a shroud made of pure gold. And locked the door, so he would be the only person who could visiting her. Even their children were not allowed to come here, but not anymore...
Jaime and Tyrion found their father. He laid down, beside his wife’s coffin, covered with his red cloak with golden lion. He did not cry, because he was a rock and never allowed himself to show such emotions, but he shivered like he would be in fever. Because only here and only with her, he could face with his fall. He could feel his lost, even if he could not say about it out loud.
And suddenly, they felt it. There was a hard crush and all the floor started trembling. Jaime has a feel that all the noise came from the inside of the heart of a rock and resonating in their bodies. Tyrion was frightening and he clinged to father trying to hide under the red cloak.
- Father, did the Rock will fall down?
But Tywin said nothing for a long time. He just looked in his son multihued eyes and finally said:
- The Rock will never fall. The waves will try to crush her for eternity and harder every time, but the Rock will never drown. And you are the children of the Rock. No matter how many times they will humiliate you, and no matter how many times you will fall, no one could crush you down. You are the children of the Rock and so as the Rock you will live forever - and suddenly Tywin Lannister hugged his dwarfish son as he never did before. Jaime could not hold himself any longer. He felt on his knees beside his father and brother and start crying.
- It is just a storm. It will pass. Everything will pass.
Chapter 4: The Last Lion - part 4
Jaime does not want to stop even if he needs to kill horse or himself. He was afraid that he would not come at time, that he lose something more, but what? He has no clue, but he was afraid like he was never afraid in his whole life.
Since when they came back to Casterly Rock, their life became really peaceful and full of harmony. Tywin became some sort of treasurer and he was keeping control on the gold, which start swimming down like the river, from the Rock to King’s Landing. Tyrion was spending all the days with an old maester and he was taking every opportunity to acknowledge about his future responsibilities, when he will take father’s place. And Jaime…
Well, he had a problems with find a place for himself. His only officially activities, were letters to ser Addam Maybrand, who took his place in the King’s Guard and to ser Arthur Dayne. Two ravens from the King’s Landing every moon, were his only joy. Until one day came three ravens.
The third one came from none other than the king Aerys The Second of his name, who summoned Jaime to atone his guilties and took his place as commander of the new King’s Army. The King’s Army will be quarter on the border between West and Reach and will honour the three hundredth anniversary of Targaryen dynasty on the Iron Throne. When Jaime showed his father this letter, Tywin does not believed. But then, he saw king’s handwriting and understood the seriousness of this situation.
- I know how much you miss the sword and fight - said Tywin - you deserved to be who you want to be. There is not too late.
Since Aerys “forgot” his madness, he became a king so reliable and reasonable. For sixteen year there was still spring upon the country. To King’s Landing coming the finest treasures and the most necessary supplies. From Reach: crops and wine. From West: gold. From East: gems. From North: furs and leathers. From the Vale: weapons. From Pyke and Riverlands: fishes, sea fruits and meat. And from King’s Landing to every of the Seven Kingdoms comes this supplies and treasures. To the West - corps, wine, meat and leather but never weapon. Until Aerys decided to create the greatest army in this world.
When sun crossed the south line, Jaime decided to take a little break between the mountains road. From here he had a such great view for all Western lands, covered with sunlight of the cloudless afternoon. He saw all the tents of the recruiters beside the Red Lake. In next year there will be a stunning city full of young soldiers. And he - ser Jaime Lannister, once one of the greatest swordsman in the Seven Kingdoms, will take care of them and make this summer children the best in the combat.
From the other side there were a yeasty waves of the Sunset Sea. The light of the sun brightened the peak of the cliff, where stood Casterly Rock. The mightiest castle in the Seven Kingdoms now, looks more like haunted house, full of the ghosts of the past. And only Tywin Lannister made friends with them. All the views, colours, smells, everything reminded Jaime a home that he once lost. And tried to rebuilt for sixteen year, but for whom ? He fell like the fundamental turn in his hands into ashes. The air smells like summer, water and mountains and flowers, but Jaime felt only bittersweetness. What if father...?
For so many years Tywin lived for past. Since their old maester died and Tyrion became of age, he took father’s responsibilities. He became a very small man who casts a very large shadow upon abandoned corridors of the Casterly Rock. And Tywin slowly was driving into madness. All the nights he spended in the maester’s tower beside the body of his only love. But the days were worse because he walked through the corridors with names of his death relatives on his lips, seeking the brothers, sister and their children in every corner. Jaime understatement his behaviour because he thought that is only a grief, but Tyrion knew that a simply grief could turn into something more dangerous and he was giving to father the milk of the poppy to every meal. Jaime agreed with that. It was much better than father who was watching him and asking with a smile: Cersei why did you put Jaime’s jacket? Why did you cut of your beautiful hair? I told you that if you want to be the queen someday, you must act like the queen now!
What if father is really dying ? Everything will die with him. The last lion of Casterly Rock drove into deathly madness. What an awful end! He left just two cubs without claws and teeths. Jaime never counted Cersei’s children. They are dragons and they will fight for dragon’s legacy, not a pile of stones which used to be their mother’s home. He thought about it when he stood before the doors of Casterly Rock.
Nobody welcomed him on a doorstep. He only passed a miners, whose ended their work for today. He rode between two columns and heard their whispers.
- Look boys, the heir is back - I am not the heir. My brother was once the heir. But Jaime was not intended to explain to them such complicated matters. They will not understand. No one would ever understand it. Jaime ran through the empty corridors of Casterly Rock, covered with purple and red colours of the sunset. His steps were followed by the memory of his childhood, when he and Cersei ran to their father every evening to share with him what does they learn today. But with what did he ran today? Mostly with fear in his heart that if he will not be at time, maybe he will not share with father the most important lesson of his life.
Tywin laid in his bed and blood ran from his eyes, nose and mouth and only Tyrion kept to clean their father’s face. Tywin was looking in the ceiling with an empty eyes and whispering only one name.
- Father, Jaime came - said Tyrion touching Tywin’s plain and shaking hand. Jaime felt the boiling of his blood but he was too afraid to come closer and touch his father. He still stood on a doorstep of lord’s bedchamber.
- My cubs… Where is your sweet sister? Where is my beloved Cersei? - Jaime felt tears in his eyes but he does not say a word. He could not and would not answer for this question out loud. You left her in King’s Landing sixteen years ago, do not you remember? You left her for a dragons.
- Oh yes. I remember. Tell, Jaime, please, Tyrion… asked Rhaegar to give Aemon, Daella and Baelor my name. To make them lions, whom will rebuild the Rock. They are the Rock. Just like you. My sons. I am so sorry that you must see the death of a lion. But there are a wolf, stag and rose. Nothing is lost, yet. The things what you need are really close. Joanna? Oh my sweet wife - Tywin spoke very quickly. Just like he want to say everything in his one last breath. But his last words were addressed to his beloved wife, Joanna Lannister. The only person whom he loved for his entire life. And his hand felt down on a soft linens. So that is how lions die - thought Jaime when Tyrion closed their father’s eyes with shaking palm. Tywin Lannister smiled to his children only once, in the moment when he died - that is how maesters would describe the end of the last lion of Casterly Rock, once mightiest Tywin Lannister. If they would ever care for him.
Chapter 5: The Last Lion - part 5
In the evening, Tysha founded that brothers were cleaning their father’s body and were searching for the best cloak of gold and red.
- Won't you wait for Cersei? - she asked surprisingly, watching them with lifted eyebrows.
- Why should we? She does not want to inform us about anything, and she does not want to see us for sixteen years. We will send the raven - said Jaime.
Once, I was called the Young Lion. The Golden Son of mightiest Tywin Lannister. The heir of the Casterly Rock. I gave it for a white cloak and a body of my sweet sister. But when they took it from me what did they gave in exchange? A castle three times higher than the Wall and hundred times more empty than Harrenhal. Father, who was slowly driving into madness - made from bittersweet dreams of a power and memories. And brother who used to live a simple life. But I did not, I would never… Sometimes, he dreamt that everything is just like years ago. He got up in the arms of his sweet sister. He spent all day in the training yard with Addam Maybrand. He slept beside his little brother, who read him a story of ser Galladon of Morne and ser Arthur Dayne.
Sometimes he dreamt that if he will pray so hard, to the Seven, they will listen to him. But one day, when he thought that he was alone in the sept, he heard a voice… but it was not a Crone nor a Maiden. Not Mother, nor Smith. Not Warrior, nor a Stranger. I was his own father.
- When your mother died, I came here everyday, looking for an answer. But I could never figured it out. Why the gods took from me the only woman I have ever loved? For eight years, I came here every day and I did not look for my children. How they growing, how they behaving when they think that no one is looking at them. I lost the most important time in their lives. I figured it out, when my heir became a member of the King’s Guard and my youngest came to me to say, that he argued with septon about the Baelor the Blessed. I was scared that I will never have another chance, but in that moment Robert Baratheon lost our cause and dragons fed themselves with lions, stags, wolves, roses, falcons, trouts... but we survived. Just like the gods would give us a second chance, which we did not deserve. I realised that this time I could not fail you. You and your brother, you are my only happiness, only we left alive… - said Tywin hugging Jaime so hard - Joanna told me. About you and Cersei. I did not believe her but, somehow, in the deepest part of my heart, I knew… I know how hard it is for you, how hard is to bury this love. But I believe, my son that one day, you will find a good woman. A woman so gentle and so pure, to make you the happiest man in the world. And I believe that you could do anything for her, live and die… not kill. That woman will believe in your best part and show it to yourself...
From that day Jaime was not in the sept. But today, he helped Tyrion to put their father’s body on a bier between the sculptures of the Seven gods. Tysha was wearing their mother’s best black dress and lights the candles to shine the darkness walls of the sept. The last Lannisters guarded their father’s body for a seven days and seven nights. No one came to say goodbye to Tywin Lannister. He was born as a first son and heir of Tytos Lannister. In the day when he was born, all the bells in the West sung the sweetest song. From the day when he was born, he was surrendered by the gold and glory. He raised in the shadow of Casterly Rock and the Red Keep. For most part of his life, he was the best friend and then the Hand of the king Aerys The Second. But he lost everything, because of his one foolish decision.
And that is why Tywin’s body was carried only by his sons. Once, Tywin thought that the mourning after his death will wear the whole country. They will put his body, along with his wife’s body, under the great sept of Baelor. All the wardens and lords of the Seven Kingdoms will come to King’s Landing for his funeral. The capital will be drawn with gold and red roses. And everybody in the country will wear black for seven years. But nothing of this ever happened. His sons put Tywin’s body beside their mother and covered them with golden shroud. Jaime was glad that they choose tower over the crypts under the Casterly Rock. The last time when they were there, was when a wooden coffin with the ashes of their relatives came from the King’s Landing. It was box with the golden lions and letters painted with blood:
Kevan and Dorna and their offspring Lancel, Willem, Martyn and Janei
Genna and Emmon and their offspring Cleos, Lyonell, Tion and Walder
Tygett and Darlessa and their son Tyrek
Gerion and his daughter Joy
Stafford and Myranda and their offspring Daven, Cerenna and Myrielle
Demon and Ella and their son Damion
They died in 283th year after the Aegon’s Conquered, under rule of the Aerys The second Of His Name. They turned against the will of gods and king. Their death is a lesson for future generations of the Seven Kingdoms
- For a moment, I wanted to write: here lay the last lions - said Tyrion, when Jaime cleaned the golden letters on their parents coffin:
Tywin, son of Tyton, born in 242th after the Aegon’s conquered
Joanna, daughter of Jason, born in 250th after the Aegon’s conquered
The great rulers and beloved parents
For all the lacks of the world, the worst is a lack of you
- But here we are… and Cersei - added Tyrion.
- We are just a cubs. He was the last lion. If they remember any of the lion, they will remember him. No one would came here to bury us - said Jaime.
Younger brother just took his beloved older brother’s hand and took him from the tower to father’s bedchamber. Jaime felt like in trance. His thoughts were somewhere else. No one would ever called us lions. We are here to die as lords without rights and titles. Even Cersei’s children would never became a lions - they will always be just a bastards no matter what. Father said that nothing is lost, yes, but how should we take it back? I do not want to fight for something so uncertain! I am sick of tired! I just want to live my own life.
- Father left it for you - said Tyrion. They were in Tywin’s, no not anymore, now this is Jaime’s chamber and younger brother gave him a very long letter. - I will leave you with this alone. - added Tyrion and closes door. Jaime sat in a chair beside the fireplace. The wood was giving so tiny and cold light, that Jaime decided to make greater fire. He put their family portrait into the fire. That does not matter anymore. Most of them are dead: father, mother, even Cersei. It was made short before Tyrion was born, so he was not exactly on a portrait. Only small curves of lady Joanna’s belly was a sign of future son. When I will have enough money I will order to paint mine and Tyrion’s portrait and we will haunted those who would live in Casterly Rock after our death! He start reading father’s letter.
To ser Jaime Lannister, my beloved son,
I perfectly remember the day when you were born. I ordered that every bell on the West sung the most beautiful song. They sung from dawn till dusk. Just like every time of a hundreds years, when the heir was born. When your children will born you will understand my happiness. That sort of happy you can not save for yourself.
From that day you became my golden child, the young lion of Casterly Rock. I and your mother wanted to raise you for a good human and wise lord. But, with time, we accepted that you want to be a knight. And you deserve to be, who you want to be and who gods made you.
We were so happy when maester said about the blessing of another child. I prayed so much for a boy, who could spare you from your lord’s responsibilities, even if it was against the law and tradition. But the gods mocked me. They took away from me the only woman I have ever loved and replaced her with a dwarf. I could not accepted it for years. I asked, seeked, threatened, denied… and then came a time when I must faced with something more tragicall. When I asked myself: did I done everything in my power, I know that I have done what I want and what I should. I know that in any other way, I will do the same. Again. I hope you are not angry with me and my choices.
I know that in different life we could be someone else, but do we really want it?
I never wanted to wake up in a different reality, even if in the different life, all my dreams came true. But for you, my son, I left a choice.
You could be ser Jaime Lannister, the commander of the King’s Army or you could read next pages.
No matter what you choose, remember that I will always be your father and I will always love you. Your mother and I always love you and we will protect you. We will meet. Sooner or later. In this or in other life.
For the first time in many years Jaime cried and he was not ashamed of it. This letter, all the events of last week. He felt like the Rock falling from his feet directly into the Sunset Sea. Father never told him that he loves him or he is proud of him. He always felt it but never heard it. And now… this short letter, full of love but no word of regrettes.
Between his shaking fingers felt pages full of stranger handwriting and green ink. He does not know if he want to uncover another secrets, so he put this letter in his pocket and ran from the chamber. He needs a fight. A knight's dance and a song of a steel. The fight for the first or maybe the last drop of blood. He ran out of the castle and found a horse. He did not say goodbye to his younger brother. I am going to a place where I truly belong!
Chapter 6: The Lone Wolf - part 1
8 years ago
- Please, Gwilbert, do not stay with them for too long. Tomorrow, an important day awaits them - said Lady Arlen, kissing everyone for goodnight: first, dense and as orange as carrot’s, hair of her daughter Dolores. Then as black as the crow's feathers, curls of son Viggo. And finally mouth of her beloved husband.
She could not believe that the time was running so fast. It seemed to her, that only yesterday she was presented as a future wife to lord Gwilbert, and tomorrow their only children will go to undergo the northern ritual of the cutters. At the beginning, she did not want to agree to all of this - she wanted to raise their children in the faith of the Seven. But Gwilbert convinced her that Dolores and Viggo really did not belong to them - they belong to the North and to the Old Gods. She gave up, though she could not stop tears at the thought, that tomorrow they will cut off those magnificent, raven-black heirs. That tomorrow, her only son stop to cease her little Viggo and he start to be train in fencing with swords and words, and one day he will became the Warden of the North.
- I love you, mother - Dolores said tenderly, kissing her mother's cheeks and her ring as a sign of respect. Viggo followed her.
- I love you too, Mother - said the boy. Lady Arlena smiled and moved out of the twin’s room of, closing gently the door. The children were left alone with their father and what was later happened was to remain their sweet secret.
- I should have to give you presents tomorrow, but there are some of them that mom should not know about - said lord with a mysterious smile, pulling two gold rings with a huge ambers binding in a crown. They looked identical to the ones that father and mother have as their wedding rings. Dolores immediately saw that the crown had mechanism that opens the ring and there was something hidden inside.
- These are signet rings. You can read and write, but one day, your words and your will became the law. To give them power, you will need this. These are smaller - it is the same as mom’s hidden in her
wedding ring and the same I have in mine. They are mainly to seal private correspondence and smaller letters, that need to be sent by using a crow. When you grow up, you will also get bigger to sign decrees - Dolores and Viggo could not get over with admiration. They never get anything more beautiful and more important. Inside there were contours of the North from the Neck up to the Wall and the sigil of house Peakholt and the royal, three-headed dragon.
On the rim of the girl’s ring was her future title: lady Dolores of house Peakholt - the Wardeness of the North. On the rim of the boy’s ring was his future title: lord Viggo of house Peakholt - the Warden of the North. Dolores looked at her father with blank eyes:
- And I really became the Wardeness of the North? - she asked quietly, and father embraced twins and said:
- Of course! You will be the wardeness and Viggo will be the warden. This is my will and the will of gods.
- You swear it, father? What if mother would not agree? She says all the time, that you should start to find a husband for me.
- King Aegon the Fifth married his beloved Beth Blackwood. Prince of the Dragonflies married his Jenny of the Oldstones. And I married you mother. You will marry only the one who will love you Dolores. Same to you Viggo.
- What if it does not happened? - the twins asked quietly.
- There is one thing in this world that you will love with all your heart, that is for sure. And it will return this love a thousandfold. It's this land. It's the North.Your heritage. If you love it with all your heart and soul, you may find out that you would not need nothing more. And believe me, that I and your mother, we want nothing more in the world than your happiness. And tomorrow I will prove it to you. Tomorrow in front of the weirwood and before our vassals, I will make a sacred oath, that when the time comes you will take my place and duties as the Wardeness and Warden of the North.
- What about the king? - Viggo asked uncertainly, but his father smiled and pulled out, from a purse, the of parchment with the royal sigil of Aerys the Second.
- Maybe you would like to read aloud? It's a letter to you and your sister. While I presented my plans to the king, here is his answer:
To my future Wardens of the North
Beloved Lord Viggo Peakholt and Lady Dolores Peakholt
Eight years ago, the Old Gods and the New, blessed your House: yours Father, Lord Gwilbert of House Peakholt was honored to serve as the Warden of the greatest of the Seven Kingdoms and a year later your Lady Mother, Lady Arlen, gave birth to the twins. For a Mother and a Father, there is no greater joy than the fruits of their love. It may be equal only to relief of their subjects who know that their liege lord will educated a future worthy and justice rulers.
In the day of your name, dear Viggo and Dolores, I am sending you a royal blessing. From this day, you will stop being a children - train art of fencing with swords and words, for when the time comes, you will be called for the most perfect service in which you will need every kind of weapons.
The stars of the North have already been born. I am looking forward to see their shine in the capital.
The most gracious ruler, King Aerys Second of His Name, King of Andalas, Rhoynars and First Man, Lord and Protector of the Seven Kingdoms
It was so hard to fall asleep for Dolores and Vigg after an eventful night, but against their expectations father did not make the oath, though twins were waiting for that moment for all day: from dawn, when they stood in the courtyard, where twenty the most important lords of the North cut off their long hairs, through the sumptuous tournament, up to the feast that took place at the castle till dusk.
Dolores was silent, but she could not hide her sadness - she was afraid that mother had finally convinced dad that only Viggo should inherit the title and for her they have already found a husband, but they do not want to spoil her joy and they will announce it tomorrow. She wanted to cry so badly that she could not even show of the joy of presents that she got on the occasion of her seventh the name day.
Even an envoy came from King's Landing and gave a gifts from the king: two as black as the night foals from the royal stable and a few of the unique volumes of the History of the Seven Kingdoms by Maester Wylland. However, father saw her sadness and when most of the guests went to their own
chambers, he took his children to the stable.
-When I presented my plan to your mother, she was furious. Not even the king's words mean to her. She thinks it is against nature, but I just think that's it exactly according to nature, that since you came together to this world together, it means that you must rule together. I promised you an oath and I will keep my word - said lord Gwilbert - hurry up. Septon is already waiting - he added and along with the most important lords of the North, they galloped towards the leading route to the White Orchard.
Eight years ago, when Lord Gwilbert and Lady Arlen were returning from King's Landing, the birth began. For the sake of mother and child, Maester Ynggling ordered to stop near the godswood, near the White Orchard. In the light of the first, spring stars, Dolores and Viggo came to the world. There, under the cover of the night, their father took them now. Dolores and Viggo were stunned: on a lit glade of hundreds of candles and torches a septon was waiting for them and the lords of the North surrounded the weirwood. Lord Gwilbert knelt down in a frotn of them:
- Let it be known, that I, lord Gwilbert of house Peakholt family, lord of Peakhold and Warden of the North take as the witnesses the Old and New Gods and You, good lords of the North that when the time comes, I will pass my power and duties to my rightful heirs, Lady Dolores and Lord Viggo Peakholt. They will rule as the Wardeness and Warden of the North. I swear it on my blood - he said, taking the dagger in his hand and cutting the inside of the left hand. Lord Gwilbert grabbed his childrens left hands and cut in more delicately way than his own but deep enough. Blood flowed and merged into one and he put his hands on his children joined hands. Septon bounded them with a ribbon and Lord Bolton drew a huge sword made of the Valyrian steel and put on a spot, where the twins’ arms were touching.
- Say the words.
- I, Viggo Peakholt ...
- I, Dolores Peakholt ...
- Son of Lord Gwilbert ...
- Daughter of Lord Gwilbert ...
- I solemnly vow, that when the time comes, I will take over my father's inheritance, along with my sister Dolores ...
- … along with my brother Viggo...
- … and we will rule together wisely and equitably and undivided the North as the Warden...
- … as the Wardeness ...
- … by the will of the Old and New Gods, by the will of the king, by the wishes of our subjects and we will never do anything, that could bring dishonor to our land and our people. We take as a witnesses the Old and New Gods and the lords: Roose Bolton, Jeor Mormont, Howland Reed, Galbart Glover, Jon Umber, Harrion Karstark, Jonelle Cerwyn, ...
Viggo leaned closer to his sister and whispered in her ear:
- My blood, your blood, our blood.
Between never and always, I will be only yours and you will be mine until the end.
This world or ours.
And Dolores repeated like a spell:
- My blood, your blood, our blood.
Between never and always, I will be only yours and you will be mine until the end.
This world or ours.
Chapter 7: The Lone Wolf - part 2
And so it is the day… before the bad day, there are always the most beautiful dreams of power - thought Dolores Peakholt opening her eyes. Everything was just as usual. There was a little bit dark in her bedchamber, almost dawn. She heard a snoring of her beloved foxes: Baldur, Loki and Thor. She heard that her hedgehogs are eating worms in their small den, beside the fireplace. She looked that her cat, Hela is still sleeping on the windowsill, lying her paws on a dead mouse. But Dolores knew that it is not an usual day.
Since last few days, the most important knights and lords of Westeros were walking through the fields away from the castle, preparing themselves for the most extravaganza tournament in the whole North’s history. Today, they will fighting in the melee and brim, to gain the endless glory, forty thousands golden dragons and... her hand. Lady Arlena Peakholt, Dolores’ mother, secretly dreams that her only daughter will marry prince Viserys Targaryen and the child will be the fourth in a queue to sit on the Iron Throne. But she will also accept the proposal from any other great family of Westeros. Maybe Dolores would marry prince Theon Greyjoy, the only living son of prince of the Iron Islands and Warden of the West, Balon Greyjoy? Or maybe she will marry lord Samwell Tarly, the eldest son and heir of lord Randyll Tarly, the Warden of the South? But Dolores would not marry none of them. She would not marry at all.
She already rejected three contenders to her hand: ser Ronnet Connington, the future Warden of the Stormlands, lord Edmure Tully, the Warden of the Riverlands and the Vale and ser Galladon of Tarth, the only living son of the wealthiest lord in the Seven Kingdoms. First and second of them were so boring and bland, just like lemon cakes, and they were worst archers than Dolores. But the third one was another story. He was fine, gentle and brave and told Dolores ,that he want to make her his wife. But if she will agree, she must accept the marriage with larger bedchamber for her, Galladon and ser Renly Baratheon. And so she declined.
She was different than most girls of her age - she does not dream of a knight for a song, who became her husband. She already had everything what she could ever dream of.
- Which dress you want, m’lady? - asked Lollys Stonewall, bringing to Dolores’ bedchamber a dozen of different but all beautiful gowns - lady Arlena thinks that the best will be the colours of your house.
- Is there someone such important, that mother want me to dress up like a peacock? - Dolores looked at her handmaiden with a drift eyebrow.
- Well… - Lollys was laughing like a stupid, peasant girl - at dawn came a ship with Targaryen’s banner. Josetin, your father’s squier said that lord Gwilbert and ser Viggo welcomed prince Rhaegar and prince Viserys. And of course the princes came with the best swords in Westeros: ser Barristan Selmy and ser Arthur Dayne.
- What about this purple with a Myrish lace?
- As you wish, m’lady - said Lollys, showing her the most beautiful purple gown with deep neckline which shows Dolores’ thin, pale and full of freckles shoulders. On a long sleeves there were applications of delicated Myrish lace, in a shape of stars and moons. Dolores turn around before the mirror. She never thought about herself as a beauty but today, in this dress she looks special. As special as fifteen years old girl with freckles and without breasts could look like - thought Dolores when she touched up the lace around the neckline. She does not like this kind of dress, because they are so impractical. She prefers simple, woolen or linen dresses and tunics, where she could hide her hedgehogs.
- May I come in? - her brother, ser Viggo Peakholt stood on a doorstep to her bedchamber. He was in his best tournament armour and looks like a true knight from a fairytale. A sliver weirwood on his breastplate shine in a daylight. Arrows and leaves made of rubins look like a clotted blood of his enemies. His long, raven-hair, fell on his shoulders and his face was brightened with a cocky smile.
- You do not need my permission. Leave us alone, Lollys - said Dolores and her handmaiden left the chamber and closed the door.
- If they will not fall to yours feet, they are truly fools - said Viggo turning his sister like she was a puppet he wanted to see from all sides.
- Oh they will fall. But your sword will make tchem do it - she laughed and brushed away hair from his face.
- I must spare only one of them… your future husband.
- What?! - she asked furiously.
- You know, that mother would never stop in searching a husband for you. I have heard that she want to promise your hand as one of the awards - said Viggo - but, do not worry, no one could ever torn us apart. And if he does, we will kill him. You will put in his flesh some arrows and I will finish him with a sword - and they laugh out loud - remember: my blood, your blood, our blood.
- I have a better idea. If you would win, mother could not separate us, and we will stay in Peakold just like father promised us - she said with a joy. Dolores pull out a ribbon from her hair and bound it on Viggo’s wrist.
- Smart girl. Mother wants to announce all prizes before the tournament. And then, her only son and heir win: thousands of golden dragons, endless glory and his twin sister as a wife - he laugh, kissing her lovely pink cheeks - but there is one condition. Put that blue dress. I have got something special for you - he said, helping her change the dress. He put her before the mirror and help her with a corset.
- Do not do it like last time, I almost could not breath!
- Do not overdo. Would you like to yearn to all this lords without character and knights without talent? - he smiled when he helped her with white ribbons - Happy name day - he said when he clasped a beautiful necklace made of a pearls as white as a snowflakes and a sapphires in a shape of icicle.
- Thank you. I thought that we will exchange the gifts in the evening. In the same place, as always. I have not preper yours, yes.
- It is just a part of my gift to you. I hope that I could give you the other, later. Should I ask Lollys to come and help you with hairdo? - he asked when he was leaving her chamber.
- No, when you have done it last time, the bees sat on my head, because they thought it was hive. Now, go prepare yourself. We will meet in the brim - she said with a shiny smile when he got out of her bedchamber.
- You really want him to win? - from a shadow corner, stepped Braavosi servart. She was called Soul and she was Dolores’ shadow from the day when they first met in Braavos, almost eight years ago. Soul was Dolores’ ears in places when she could not be, and the keeper of her secrets. Soul knows everything. Almost everything.
- Sure! I just want to see mother’s face in that very moment. Soul, just try to imagine this! - said Dolores taking her beloved friend by a hand and dancing with her around the chamber - no one could ever tear us apart and we will stay in Peakhold forever, just like father promised us and he must finally said to mother about the oath!
- I would rather not to… - mumbled Soul but she could not finish her thoughts. There was soft and quite knocking on the door and on a doorstep stood none other but the Warden of the North, lord Gwilbert Peakholt, himself.
Chapter 8: The Lone Wolf - part 3
- Dolores, it is time - said father when he gave his daughter a hand. He looked very nobly in his dark doublet with a family sigil: a silver weirwood and leaves and arrows made of red rubins. It does not matter that he was quite old, he still looks handsome even with white strands in his raven hair and with few wrinkles in the mouth and eyes’ corner.
- My sweet and beautiful daughter - he said, kissing Dolores in a forehead - today, you will surprise all men in the kingdom. For a lady like you, everyone could do everything.
- And you want to make mother’s wish and sold me to anyone? - she asked squeezing her father’s hand, when they are walking through the murmur’s stairs. Her foxes ran after them, barking loudly.
- What if you like someone? - lord Gwilbert smiled - today, the best knights in the whole Seven Kingdoms will fighting in the brim. There will be prince Viserys Targaryen. They said that he should marry his sister, but when Daenerys heard about those plans she tried to kill herself - madness and greatness are two sides of the same coin. Every time a new Targaryen is born, the gods toss the coin in the air and the world holds its breath to see how it will land... - there will be ser Ronnet Connington. I know that you once declined his proposal but it was long, long time ago, no one remember it. You will see, he looks more handsome than ever, years and scars suit him - for a man like him sutis only rat’s poison - there will be lord Samwell Tarly, the heir of Horn Hill. They say that he is as clever as Grand Maester Pycelle. You like boys whose have the same interests and sense of humor as you - I have heard from you, father, not so long ago, that no man, nor woman could be such well-educated and clever as I am - and of course there will be the youngest son of prince Balon Greyjoy, Theon. Of course, I would like a decent man for you, not some lustful pirate, but I know that you, my sweet daughter, could change anyman - that it is a lie father, because such a power I have only over my brother.
- What I have heard that there will be also ser Arthur Dayne - she interrupted this endless list when they left the castle.
- Of course he will. I said that there will be the greatest…
- And my brother.
- Yes, Viggo told me that he also want to take part in the tournament. I could not forbid my only son to stand in the brim in the tournament organised also for him - said lord Gwilbert when they walk ahead of the procession of musicians and other ladies and lords.
- And if he or the member of the King’s Guard win, you will keep your words and make me his wife? You will forsake an oath that you make years ago and you will stand against the holly...
- Dolores - lord Gwilber laugh but after a moment of silence he said with a serious tone - my darling daughter, remember one thing. You are my heir. I could never break the oath. You will be the Wardeness and your brother will be the Warden - he does not know what mother plans or he just pretend? Dolores does not know the answer.
- Then I shall marry the one who will win this tournament, father. No matter who it will be - she said with the same tone, but she laugh inside. She kissed her father’s cheeks and sit on her honourable place, on the father’s right hand, between him and her mother.
- My lords, my ladies - said lord Gwilbert Peakholt when there was a moment of silence - we gathered here to celebrate the happiest moment in my life. Sixteen years ago, in a Great Sept of Baelor I married my beloved spouse, lady Arlena of House Connington. Year after that, this fine, beautiful and courageous woman gave me the most precious gift. The gift I could never imagine. My dearest twins - Dolores and Viggo. Today, in their name day, I challenge you, the knights of the Seven Kingdoms, to fight for the title the best sword in Westeros and endless glory and to fight for enormous prizes: twenty thousands golden dragons - the tribune cheered his words, but after long and lour bravo, lady Arlena stand and all became silent.
- Our noble guests - her voice, warm and gentle, spread across the meadows like a song - on behalf of myself and my children, thank you so much, my dearest and beloved husband. However, you forgot about a very important thing. The one of you, brave knights, who wins tournament, will receive another prize. Prize sweeter than all the honeys we drink today and worth more than all the world's gold. The winner will get our beloved daughter, lady Dolores Peakholt, as his wife - at first, the murmur of disbelief went through the stands, but with each passing moment he changed into unbridled joy and excitement. Despite all the unattractive exterior, Dolores was the warden’s daughter, one of the keys to the greatest of the Seven Kingdoms - such an opportunity could not be missed. Let them play, let them think that they rule. The last word belongs to me and I will definitely come up with something ... I still have time - thought Dolores, trying to calm her breath, but the foxes sensed her nervousness and began to restlessly bark.
- Shhh, everything will be fine - she whispered, stroking Baldur's softly, amber-colored head, but she did not know if she wanted to calm him and his brothers or herself. In the corner of her eyes, Dolores spotted the knights preparing for the fight. There was her brother, with his cocky smile and sparks is his as blue as forget-me-not eyes. Beside him stood no other than ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning. When Dolores looked at this handsome Dornishman in his white cloak and with those purple eyes, burning with unknown desire, she felt the shiver in her back. But on the other side of the tent a strange man was looking at her. He wore an old armour and had a grim, grey eyes. He could be older than her father, because of white threads in his black hair, but he had a frame of young and strong knight. On his grey cloak was a white direwolf … could it be him?
- Shall we begin? - asked lord Gwilbert Peakholt.
Chapter 9: The Lone Wolf - part 4
The official draw shows the sparring partners: ser Barristan Selmy will fight with ser Ronnet Connington, ser Viggo Peakholt will fight with lord Samwell Tarly, ser Arthur Dayne will fight with prince Viserys Targaryen and Brandon Stark will fight with prince Theon Greyjoy. Dolores looked at her mother and saw a shade of disappointment on her face. I hope thats he was not so naive to believe that Ronnet, Sam or young Greyjoy will won. But if she does there will be better to start start praying now, both to the Old and New Gods - thought Dolores laughing inside, because she new that this turn, will pass her brother - the Young Raven and, of course, the Sword of the Morning. The rest was a riddle, which quickly began to solve.
After the long and effective fight between the Young Griffin and ser Barristan the Bold the second one put on Dolores’ lap a victorious white rose - such a shame that there is not Ashara Dayne, she deserved this, she is waiting for this rose for more than seventeen years .
The son of the Warden of the South - Samwell Tarly fought bravely, but he had no chance with the young Peakholt. Ser Viggo steals the hearts of public, not only with his smile but also with his fights’ style. Within minutes all tribunes cheering for the Young Raven. Dolores tried to keep calm, but she could not stop of her shaking hands, when her brother triumphed over lord Tarly. He rode on his large white stallion and bow to the father, mother and prince Rhaegar but he did not look at Dolores, only put on her lap a branch of lilac.
The next duel took a breath away, before even begin. Ser Arthur Dayne, the legendary Sword of the Morning and the bravest knight in King’s Guard, took of his white armour and white cloak and replaced it with a silver breastplate and purple cloak with his house’s sigil: white star and a sword. No one look at young and gallant prince Viserys Targaryen, when they have scandal to talk about. But none of them wanted to give up so quickly. When they climbed of their horses they took their swords. There was a fight, which will be remember forever: Valyrian steel of Dark Sister crossed with a heart of fallen star of the Dawn.
- I yield! - shouted prince Viserys wiggling between ser Arthur’s legs, when the knight put his great sword to his throat. All tribuns drove crazy, when the member of King’s Guard took of his helmet and rise his magic sword. Ser Arthur Dayne turned to Dolores and she felt the trembling of her knees under his gaze. No man ever looked at her the way how looking at her the Sword of the Morning. And no man gave her as red as blood rose and his own sword. He smiled when she touched this very special milky white blade.
But now she had to focus on the last duel between the lustful pirate prince Theon Greyjoy of the Iron Islands and … Brandon Stark. Dolores saw the Stark for a very first time in her life. Since the fail of Robert’s Baratheon Rebellion, no Stark left Winterfell. Frankly, there were not many Starks: Brandon, so-called the Lone Wolf, his youngest brother Benjen and his offspring: twelve years old, a wild she-wolf Arya, six years old Eddard and two years old Robert. None of them left Winterfell for last sixteen years.
Then why are you here now, my sweet wolf. In the house of man who took you everything? - thought Dolores, but the answer was so obvious: gold and vengeance. Despite his thirty seven years, Brandon Stark still looks quite handsome and powerful. He had nothing to lose - thought Dolores watching how he beating the twice younger Theon Greyjoy. For the lack of experience, prince of the Iron Islands felt from his horse and yielded. But this time, the tribunes were silence. The silence was so dreadful when Brandon Stark took of his helmet and put on Dolores’ lap a winter rose, as blue as her dress. There was something unsettling in his sad indifference.
Dolores looked at her father with hope, but lord Gwilbert was pale and he was shaking. And then she realised that this is a trap. By his countless naive, lord Gwilbert stand in a place where he cannot hide and run. He must play by the rules which he choos. Because those what fears him, turn other people into curiosity and arousal. They were the witnesses of the most scandalous tournament since the events in Harrenhall. In the brim four men were fighting for the glory and enormous money and for the hand of one of the most noble maiden in the Seven Kingdoms: her twin brother, the future Warden of the North, ser Viggo Peakholt so-called the Young Raven; the bravest and most honorable member of the King’s Guard, ser Barristan “the Bold” Selmy; the most handsome knight with a sharp purple eyes, ser Arthur Dayne, the legendary Sword of the Morning; and the degraded heir of once mighty house Stark, Brandon the Lone Wolf. No matter who will win, if lord Gwilbert would like to keep his words and would give his daughter to the winner, he will face with the king’s anger and objection of other lords and ladies in the kingdom.
Sooner or later all the Seven Kingdoms will hear that the noble Warden of the North wanted to give his only daughter into incest marriage or marriage which broken the secret vows or, what is the worst, into scandalous misalliance! The four winners stood before pale and terrified lord Gwilbert, his wife lady Arlena and lady Dolores. She could not choose to look directly on one of them. Now I know why father choose that name for me - she thought. She knew that her father would rather die then broke his words so she decided to speak in her own name.
- My brave knights. Today, you fought bravely but we do not have brim wider enough for all of you - she smiled and all the tribunes laugh with her. Good. Let them think that it is my father decision. Let them laugh, let them have fun and leave me the decision of my future husband - she thought destroying the flowers in her hands.
- We should divided this twenty thousands golden dragons between ser Arthur Dayne, ser Barristan Selmy, ser Viggo Peakholt and ser Brandon Stark. But my hand could not be divided, so tomorrow’s fight in the melee will decide about this matter. May the odds be with you tomorrow, my knights. Now, in the name of my father, the Warden of the North and lord of Peakhold, I would like to invite all of you to the great feast in a castle - she added, taking her father’s hand and walking ahead of the crowd to the castle where there will be feast and dance for all night.
She was sitting in the most honorable part of the table, between her brother and her father. On the other hand of lord Gwilbert sat princes Viserys and Rhaegar and the King’s Guardians. On the mother side sat lord Samwell Tarly and lord Theon Greyjoy. From her place she could discretely, observed the other pretenders. Prince Viserys talked with her father and her brother. Samwell Tarly did not care about her, he knew that he does not had a chance with others, not only because his lack of fighting skills. He talked with maester Yngling. There were rumors that if he will not find suitable wife as soon as possible, he will go to the Citadel to make his own chain. I would not be surprised if he is already prepare to journey to the Old Town - thought Dolores looking at young lord Tarly.
At the end of the table sit the Lone Wolf. He did not take eyes of his plate and ale. In his grey eyes there was something interesting. Dolores had not met men like him. Once, all men in the North wanted to be like Brandon Stark. Even uncle Tancred and he paid for this with his own life… But then came the rebel and Brandon Stark said that he will not go anywhere - he will stay in home, with a sick father, lord Rickard and prepare himself for his new responsibilities. He want the same for the younger Eddard. He knew that Lyanna willingly ran away with prince Rhaegar to Dorne. But Ned and Robert Baratheon did not believe him. They gathered the lords of the North and Storm Lands and Vale and go south. The final battle took place by the Trident. Half of the country were consumed by the flame of love. The other half, just like Brandon, were punished by the Lyanna’s decision. There were rumors that after all what was happened, Brandon Stark found the peace only in wine and the beds of nobly women from the North. There were rumors that in every castle, north from the Neck, some unaware lord rises a wolf. But of course, Dolores does not want to be the part of that rumors!
Chapter 10: The Lone Wolf - part 5
When the first part ended and musicians starting prepare their instruments and voices, lady Arlena whispered into hers daughter ear:
- Come darling, we will change your dress and speak privately.
There was quite crowded in Dolores’ bedchamber. The handmaidens brought a tub full of hot water and roses oil and herbs and clean dresses in every colour. They looked very distracted, they thought that Dolores will tell them about what happened because all they have heard were rumors that ser Viggo wanted to kill ser Arthur Dayne and Brandon Stark to defend his sister’s honor.
- Leave us alone - ordered lady Arlena - not you, Soul. She will tell you everything otherwise - she added looking at Braavosi servant who unbutton Dolores’ dress. Mother fill three glasses with wine and sat in a chair full of furs beside the fire. She looked at the Soul who was cleaning Dolores’ body and uniting Dolores’ ginger hair. Lady Arlena knew that her daughter is not and never be such a beauty as herself. But lady Arlena had always pray for a good and noble husband for her sweet daughter.
- This what your father done today were, probably the stupidest thing in his entire life. He could pay for it but you save his honor. And now you must protect yourself. If Ronnet ask for your hand tonight, please, do not decline…
- Father?! It was your idea and you said the word! But you have to know that father made an oath. A secretly and solemnly vow that you can not change...
- Dolores, stop! This is not a joke! - shouted hysterically lady Arlena, trying to convince her daughter - think about it! You want to end up like Lyanna Stark?!
- But you are the only one who want to put me in some golden cage and send me far away from my home an everything what is dear to me! - Dolores interrupted her.
- That is women’s destiny.
- Not mine. I am the only daughter of lord Gwilbert Peakholt, the Warden of the North. And world will be exactly as I want, not in a different way. My place in hear, beside my brother, ruling the North. We are the North’s children and we will rule together. That is the will of father, will of the king and our people! Soul, please help me with this white dress - said Dolores leaving the tub and spreading the water and herbs around her.
- All I want is your happiness.
- Then leave me alone! I will not spend my entire life with some dumb knight or lord form a far far away land - said Dolores when she was looking in the mirror. She looks better than in the morning, now in white dress made of Myrish lace in a shape of weirwood with leaves made of rubins. Soul helped her with tiding the white ribbons on a front of a dress and putting on her neck a choker with large rubin as red as blood which suits to her ginger hair. On her feet she put red velvet shoes on a short heel.
- I am ready, let is go - said Dolores, taking Soul’s hand and walking away from her bedchamber, not looking at her mother’s sad face.
The Great Hall in Peakhold was never such crowded and full of songs and joy. Men sat on the chairs beside the walls, wearing their best doublets, drinking the best ale, eating the finest bread and fruits. In the center of the Hall women dance, from the balconies came sweet music. But when Dolores Peakholt enter the Great Hall everything went silent. She smiled and thought that there is exactly as her septa said: if there is enough wine and lack of light even you could be a hundreds time more beautiful than all prince Rhaegar’s mistress .
She knew that, she saw it in theirs eyes when she walked through the Hall, when the singers sang “The Donishman’s Wife”. Even Brandon Stark looked at her. When Viggo saw her he walked to her but she refuse. Even you know it, brother, that to this song I must dance with a true Dornishman . She felt the delicate touch of ser Arthur’s hand and she danced with him. The Hall once again was full with laugh and joy.
- You fought bravely today, ser - she said when her hand met the strong hand of the Sword of the Morning. He wore his best purple doublet with his family sigil made of silver thread. That does not matter that he was more than twice older than Dolores. He was still strong and have a looks and charm, like he was anointed just yesterday.
- If the prize is worth, I will fight as long as it is needed. Of course if it makes you happy, my lady - said ser Arthur with his deep voice and cocky smile.
- I thought that you swore a secret vow that you will have no wife and father no children?
- For the woman like you I could break every neck and every vow - he whispered into her ear - if your lord father, the Warden of the North, could visited the King’s Landing he will knew that king Aerys the Second would like to change the world in his last years of reign.
- If my father could not hear it, maybe you should tell about it to me, ser? - Dolores asked with innocent smile.
- That knowledge cost.
- Then come to my chamber, ser. We could speak in privately. And who knows? Maybe it will help me to make my decision who will become my husband?
- I thought that the winner…
- Only I will decide about it. Men think that they could decide about the bodies of their wives and daughters and sisters but it is not a true. Just how they could not decide for women’s hearts - whispered Dolores.
- So tell me, lady Dolores of house Peakholt, for whom your heart beated faster? For the Lone Wolf or the Young Raven? - asked ser Arthur Dayne looking at her with passion and lust. Dolores know exactly what he wanted to hear.
- Why should I choose the starless, cold winter twilight when I could have the shine of the spring’s dawn? - she said when she tied a white ribbon on ser Arthur’s wrist. The song ended and she sat beside Soul to take a breath and drink wine.
- I thought I deserve first dance - said Viggo, sitting beside Dolores. He was already drunk but he still keeping his goblet.
- I thought you want the last.
- But I have one condition, that next you will give me a name day’s gift. About what did you spoke with the old guardian? You know why he change colour to purple? To not see his white hair. He has more than our father!
- Are you jealous?
Dolores knew her brother. He could be deadly jealous of her. He could kill anyone who even try to hurt her. But this time it was not only jealous but also too much of wine. And it is far worse because he could be unpredictable after few cups of wine. He is the Young Raven not without the reason. He sat closer and took a ringlet of her ginger hair.
- I am.None of them deserve for you. No old wolf, nor old guardian. And of course none of these young and stupid lords! - he said - They are not worthy of the hand of the future Wardeness of the North.
- I know. I just have tried to use them. They can be useful - she smiled - come, we will dance.
In dance, she hugged him and whispered into his ear:
- What is our words: my blood, your blood, our blood. Between never and always, I will be only yours and you will be mine until the end. This world or ours.
- No one could ever tear us apart, and if he or she does… we have a plan, remember? - he smiled and his her cheeks.
Despite the loud music, Dolores heard whispers behind her back. A brother should not touch his sister like that. The sister should not look at her brother this way. Who do they think they are - the Targaryens?! But she did not care. Their strength flowed from this love, the unique and only bond that only twins could have connected. They will never understand it. No one will ever understand it like we do. It has always been like this and will remain so forever - Dolores’ and Viggo’s eyes seemed to express the same thoughts. No wonder that others could not understand it and treated their usual smiles as a sign of something indecent.
Dolores wanted to sit for a longer moment, to drink and talk with Soul but she must dance with all pretenders. Ser Barristan Selmy was in ser Arthur’s age but he did not looked at her with lust - in dance and in talk he was a true knight of the King’s Guard and he could not break his vows. As like Samwell Tarly, lovely heir of the Horn Hill. He stepped on her foot during dance and could not stop saying sorry about that with a blush. But he was much better in talk than in a dance. He was very clever and well-educated and after a couple glasses of wine he told her about the chronicle of the greatest invention of the Seven Kingdoms. If she would not feel that he truly want to be a maester, she thought that she could l accept his proposal.
- My lady, I know that I am not as brave as the Sword of the Morning, nor as interesting as the Lone Wolf but if you give me a sign, I will make you the happiest lady in the Seven Kingdoms - he said blushing but Dolores was not sure it was made by the wine or his own words.
- My lord Tarly, you are very kind but I know that I could not make you happy. Our marriage could not be even in half as interesting as you think. And the fruits of it could not bring you as many joy as another circles in maester’s chain - said Dolores kissing his cheek. She saw the shine in his eyes when she said words “chain” and “maester”. - I wish you good fortune but if you want I will be glad if you want to send me letters from time to time.
- Of course my lady. I have already know how to send a raven - he started but he could not finished. Beside them stood ser Ronnet Connington. He wanted to dance with Dolores and gave them a clear sign. She did not like her cousin for several reasons. When they were younger, they spent time together in Griffin’s Root. Ronnet started preparing to take his rightful position as the Warden of the Storm Lands and stubborn to make Dolores his wife. Why? Dolores had no idea. She was not beautiful, but far more clever and smarter than her six years older cousin. But he did not stop: he gave her a flowers and letters full of mistakes and dirty things. Until Viggo founded one of them and challenged him to duel for his twin’s honor. And he won, despite that he was eleventh, he was quicker and faster: - Remember one thing, fucker. You must kill me before you will ever touch her! - said Viggo left on Ronnet’s left cheek a scar. Ronnet did not had a lucky with girls. He always picked those with a knight in a shining armour on their back. Within a year he gain the symmetrical scar from Renly Baratheon who fight for honor of lady Brienne of Tarth.
- Where did you get the freshest scars, my lord? - asked with irony Dolores. The thing she hated the most in Ronnet was the thing that he remained her her own reflection in the mirror. She was much similar to her mother, to Conningtons.
- Only a few bruises. Maybe ser Barristan is still the bold, but not so lethal as he used to be. Today, he was just luckier than me - he said hugging her - but we will see tomorrow. Tomorrow they will fight only for a fucking golden dragons.
- You should not take my mother’s words too serious. I will decline your proposal. I do it once, I will do it again if I need - said Dolores freeing herself from his embarrassing. Maybe if he will not be so stubborn, maybe if he will not… But after a moment she knew that it does not matter - she did not had any feelings towards him.
- I am collector of the scars after failing proposals. But the day when I win will come. Open your chambers for me and I will show you in which way the griff is better than hurt wolf, young raven and old guardian - he whispered touching her neck.
- You should do it better, my lord - laugh Dolores, thanking that “The six maidens at the pool” ended. She knew that Ronnet had experiences with women but only with those whose could overpower. In Griffin’s Root, not here.
She had enough of it: the parade of misfortune pretenders to her hand. After Ronnet, she must dance with Ellen Frey, who just came to Peakhold, next with prince Viserys, who was far away with his mind and prince Rhaegar who told her about his bastards and whores. She was looking for her brother, who was drinking another ale with his companions. She wanted to cry because this was their name’s day and they should celebrate it together, as always. She dreamt that father allowed them to spend this night as they want. They will run away outside the castle and spend the night in the forest, looking into the stars, like always.
But she was still in the Great Hall and her heart was filled with sadness. And in that sad moment the last sober singer started “The Bear and the Maiden Fair”. And the Lone Wolf asked her for a dance.
- Maybe this is the last dance and the only dance I deserved - he said taking her hand. She felt the cold shiver in her body but she did not stepped back.
- You are as good dancer as a fighter, ser - she said looking at him with curiosity. He was much sober than any other men despite the fact that he drinking all night.
- Spare me your stupid compliments. We all heard them - he murmured - and tell me something different than you said to these fools.
- No matter who will win tomorrow, he will not become my husband - she laugh.
- It is not a secret. We all knew that lord Gwilbert and lady Arlena made a fool of us and themselves. I want to know the secret that no one know. And then I will tell you something - what secret can hide the Lone Wolf that he does not want to sell overpricing?
- Do you know where is the Ice, ser? - Dolores felt that his hand squeezed hers. So he does not - the ancestral sword, made of the finest Valerian steel, once belonged to your family. After the events in the Tower of Joy, ser Arthur Dayne wanted to give it back to Lyanna but she refused her legacy and ordered to destroy it. King Aerys can not allow it. During the secret ceremony, he gave it to my father. But my father is a weak man and he never swing it. So he locked it, in our treasury. Until last year when I brought the smith from Volantis to reforge the Ice into two smaller swords. One for me and one for my brother as his name day's gift. For the future Wardens of the North.
- That is not true - said Brandon Stark with cocky smile - the Ice belongs to my brother, lord Eddard Stark, the Warden of the North and the Hand of the King Robert of House Baratheon First of His Name. And my body is rotting in the Winterfell’s crypts for last seventeen years - he took white ribbon from her dress - you gave me this last dance, let me give you something in exchange. See what is the truth - he added and kissed her and his lips were cold like the Long Night.
Chapter 11: The Young Stag - part 1
The night, was gathering upon the Evanfall Hall. A servants, were going from one chamber to another, to light the candles in the windows. The castle looked like a huge, colourful lighthouse, guiding all the travellers through the Shipbreakers Bay. The merchants, whose need to keep their goods safe: the priceless spices, silks in every colour and gemstones for Westerosi ladies. Since lord Selwyn Tarth became the Evenstar, Tarth became the richest place in Westeros. Every inhabitant had enough gold and life stock that must not worry about the Winter. Even, if the next Winter will last for generation. But there was one thing, what made everybody worry about the future. The fact that lord Selwyn Tarth could not give his legacy to someone good enough.
Of course he had offspring. Two children: twenty two years old ser Galladon and younger, nineteen years old lady Brienne. But it does not matter, because ser Galladon prefers the company of ser Renly Baratheon rather than any girl. And Brienne always choose swords and shields over any ladies-like duties. Children like them, could only bring shame to their family - that is what lord Selwyn’s envoys and inhabitants of isle always said. But lord Tarth was proud of his children, against all whispers, that he should take new wife and make true heir, the true Evenstar. He knew that he made right decision, by saying to his children, that there is nothing more important in this world than honour and vows. And love. Love is the only thing in this world, which is worth to live and die . He was proud that his children became strong and smart people, even if they are not suit to live in this filthy world.
But his greatest pride was his only living daughter. Sweet Brienne, who was not as any other girls. She was a dreamer, of course, but she never dreamt about to wed a young and gallant knight, whom she will love and carry his children. She will never found a husband, and she knew it. And it was not just about that situation with ser Ronnet Connington years ago. It was because she had crooked teeth, broken nose, freckles which covered all her milky skin and hair like straw. Brienne knew about it and she never fake that she will act like a high born lady, whom she was. When she was little, septa Ronelle disillusioned her about her looks and characters, and told her that if there will be any man brave enough to marry her, she should be thankful and obey, because she is rich and she should know that man will marry her only because her father will give him half of the Tarth’s enormous fortune. Brienne listened, but she made her own choice: if nobody will marry me for love then I must not fake and I must not wear dresses, I could cut my hair, I could be stubborn and spend all day in the training yard rather than with stupid girls, and knitting and singing and pretending that I am Jenny of the Oldstones.
Lord Selwyn loves his only daughter, more than anything in this world, but he knew that because of her stubbornness and honesty she will be lonely, because there was no man in this world who could love her for whom she is and accept her and worship her. The previous contenders were more interested about her dowry than her. Even ser Ronnet Connington, the future Warden of the Storm Lands. For a long time, lord Selwyn believed that his children could fall in love and marry to the lord Gwilbert’s Peakhold children. But it was just a friendship - strong enough to keep the contact despite the distance, but never love…
So he was waiting and dreaming, that maybe one day will come nobly knight and good lady to make his children happy. But only raven from King’s Landing came.
- My lords, my lady, ser Renly, my apologies but I think this is important. It is from the king… - said maester Thorgell, when he gave to lord Selwyn a parchment with a broken sigil with three-headed dragon - the king had a wish that every man, from every house, between fifteen and twenty five join to the King’s Army, the camp is near the Red Lake.
- I hope, that our beloved king does not think, that I will give him the future Evenstar for a common soldier? - asked lord Selwyn with rising eyebrow.
- The king’s command is clear and he does not want to make any excuse. He had a plan, that other kingdoms will share an old custom from Dorne. That the line of succession will pass to the daughter, if the only living son die during the service…- every men in the room look at Brienne. Her strong palms clenched around the fork and the knife and tears danced on her long eyelashes. They can not make me to do that… they know, of course they know, that I can not be a wife, no one could ever love such an ugly creature like me… I can not be marry. Tarth belongs to my brother, he will, he must be the Evenstar after father - she thought trying to avoid men’s look - they know me and they know that I would rather drown in the ocean, than say a vow to man who will beat me and humiliate me because I am who I am. After Ronnet, father promised me that he would not force me into a marriage with some filthy lord who will care only about my name and my sapphires. He made a promise!
- If I will make Renly my son… - thought out loud lord Selwyn, but his true son interrupted him. He stood up quickly and furiously, from his chair and through his goblet, spilling the wine on the table. Galladon looks like a wild animal but his voice was low and calm:
- If you think, that you could tears us apart, that you are wrong, father. You can not make Renly your son and send him on a battlefield instead of me. If he want to go, fine. But only under the yellow flag with black stag. And I will go with him, with my own sigil - his dire voice was worse than scream that lord Selwyn expected. Everybody fell chill in their boones, despise the warm of summer evening. Galladon had never make an idle threats. But lord Selwyn knew, that he could not - he will never put Renly above his heir. The young stag is worth thousand less than the future Evenstar. And lord Selwyn could not allow to fade the Star before the Star will shine. First to shine, but last to fade - that is our words.
- My beloved son, you are my heir. Maybe it is a good time for you to take the responsibilities…
- No fucking way! You will not force me to marriage with some stupid, broodmare! I will never be like you - his fury start like a storm on the sea. First, it was just the waves, calm and sweet but then it become wild and unstoppable how different from the quiet of Renly and Brienne. They sit between the father and his firstborn. And then Brienne saw it.
In Renly’s bright blue eyes shone the fire. She knew that he always dream about his place in the world. In his wildest dreams he was still live in the Storm’s End with his beloved brothers. Renly loves the Evenfall Hall, he loves lord Selwyn like his father, and he loves Brienne and Galladon,but no matter how hard they try he never feel like in home. For him our home is just a house .
- Lord Selwyn, Galladon, Brienne - said Renly standing up. In his voice there was something unknown, some sort of confidential- I will go. You must not officially make me your son, my lord. You have done this, many years ago, when you put your clock on my shoulders. I am your son, I have always been and I always will. And I will do my duty as your son. I will go at dawn.
- You cannot - Brienne interrupted. Her big, beautiful eyes were full of tears and start falling on her cheeks.
- Brienne - said Renly with sweet tone, putting his delicated hand on her strong shoulder - we all knew that the reality will never be as beautiful as our dreams - added kissing her cheek.
- You must choose, father. We all go. Or none of us. And you will write to king Aerys why his reign will not be defended by the shield with crescent moon and stars - said Galladon. He could be a great lord, only if he would choose the right way - thought Brienne - only if he would not be so selfish to choose his desires above the family and honour . After the long moment of silence, lord Selwyn said:
- Maester, bring me parchment and ink. I must write to the king Aerys. Bring me the books, I need to know that we have at least 160 pounds of sapphires. I think that king will not accept any other currency for the freedom of Evenstar’s children. I will meet with you in my solar after the supper - said lord Selwyn with shaking voice. If he would done something like this, seventeen years ago, he should also send a 160 pounds of sapphires and his own head. It was the treason, disobey the king’s orders. But now, there was a different time and, in some way, a different king. Year after year, king Aerys the Second of His Name became calm and sense, but does it mean that he is not getting angry? Especially when someone would not agree with his order and refuse to give his only living son to fight and die on the king’s command?
- If this is my children’s will - added, standing from the table. But only Galladon smiled after his words. Renly finished his supper with grim face and Brienne stormed out the dining room, trying to wipe out her tears. Lord Selwyn never thought that making both his daughter and son happy, could be so hard at the same time.
Chapter 12: The Young Stag - part 2
Brienne went to her bedchamber in the west part of the castle. She asked the servant to light up more candles and put them in a high window, made of ingrain glass. Her chamber shine with green and golden colours.
- You may leave me, thank you - said Brienne and young girl bowed and closed the door behind herself.
Brienne of Tarth raised among men and she always feel uncomfortable with other women. Once, when she was very young, her septa told her that other girls feel only two feelings toward Brienne. The envy, because she is the richest girl the Seven Kingdoms and she could wear whatever she wants and now matter what she will do, her father will forgive her and give her the finest husband in the world. And the pity, because she is manish and ugly and stubborn, and no one would ever love a girl like Brienne. There was only one girl in this world, who truly loves Brienne…
Brienne met lady Dolores Peakholt three years ago in the Griffin’s Roots, where they spent one year. Will she understand? - Brienne asked herself. She was different than the other girls, she loves horse riding, shooting a bow, she was better in this than most men, she always treat Brienne with love and respect, she never thought that Brienne is stupid and ugly but… she was still young and her head was full of weird dreams about ruling as the Wardenss of the North.
They never spoke seriously about something like honour and duties to their houses. For Dolores it was supporting her brother, obviously. But for Brienne it was something completely different… and if the king summons the lord, the lord should answer and obey. And if Galladon would not go… - she thought and felt lightness in her heart. She opened the box and took in the hand her only keepsake after her mother.
Lady Gwinerwa Estermont, Brienne’s mother, died when the girl was very small. She died with her newborn son. They named him Dextran when he came in deathly silence from lady Gwinerwa’s womb. Frankly, Brienne should not remember anything, she was just three years old but it was in the year of Fales Spring, the most remarkable year in the Westerosi history. And Brienne remember this very well.
She remember the funeral of her mother and little brother. There was a storm when they put their bodies in the boat, to make the waves of the ocean consumed their bodies. Lord Selwyn wanted to come back to the castle in hurry, they must bury their hearts beneath the crypts of the Evenfall Hall. Lord Selwyn took his daughter hand when the waves crushed with the cold sand on the beach and covered with white foam Brienne’s shoes. But little girl does not want to come back to home, until she missed her mother’s and brother’s bodies underneath the dark water. A few days later, a raven came from King’s Landing. King Aerys the Second of his Name wanted to see lord Selwyn and his children during the ceremony of the anointed of the new Warden of the Storm Lands.
Lord Selwyn decided that maybe it is a good moment to take his children to the court? Him, the lord of the Sapphire Isle would give the clear message: now, when he is a widower, he started to find a suitable marriage for his children. Galladon was so excited that his joyful stampin could make another storm. But Brienne was not happy, she still missed for a mother even, despise the words of her septa, about the concept of the finality of the death.
King’s Landing welcomed them with cold, morning sun. It was the last winter’s morning before the spring, which last until this day. Brienne was running through the gardens of the Red Keep and collected the last winter’s roses and was looking for the first summer roses - red and golden. Together, with little princess Rhaenys, they made a wreath for lady Lyanna Stark, whom looking after them and feeding her firstborn son, Jaeherys. Brienne remember this time with a warm feel in her heart, when she and Rhaenys running after three black cats: Balerion, Vhaegar and Maraxes. Their laugh filled the castle with joy, so different than serious conversations behind the king’s and his Hand’s chambers.
Lord Selwyn pledged his service to the new Warden of the Storm Lands - lord Roland Connington. Everybody was waiting only for childish lord Renly Baratheon but when he came, surrounded by the nurses, king Aerys unleashed a horror, worst than any of Brienne’s nightmare.
The boy - small and confused - stood in the middle of the Throne Room, surrounded by lords and ladies of Westeros. He cried, he does not understand what was going on, he asked about his death brothers, but king Aerys does not care about it. He does not look in this big blue eyes, he just said that lord Renly Baratheon is not lord anymore, that he will not inherited the title of the Warden of the Storm Lands after his brother, that the Storm’s End is not his home anymore. The King found some perverse pleasure in humiliating little boy and stripping him from the titles, which he did not understand and from the home, which would not be his safe haven anymore.
Brienne could not stand quiet any longer, she let her father’s hand and ran through the coward to safe Renly, to conceal him with her own body. To save this stranger boy, who stole her heart with one look of his bright and pure blue eyes.
- Leave him alone! - she shouted so hysterical that silence came upon the Throne Room. She felt her brother’s hand on her shoulder and heard her father’s heavy steps.
- Your Grace, please forgive my children. It is their first days in the court.
- But, papa!
- Enough Brienne - lord Selwyn said - Your Grace, in this circumstances let me take this young boy under my protection. As you know, Your Grace, my beloved wife and mother of my children died a few weeks ago. I think that my son Galladon and my daughter Brienne will feel more comfortable when they will have a boy around their age and the quickly forget about their loss.
- Very well, lord Selwyn - said the king after a moment of silence - but I have one condition. You will pay for his life in the sapphires. As much as he weighs - lord Selwyn took of his house clock from his shoulders and put heavy, dark-blue velvet with silver stars on Renly’s thin back. Galladon took Renly’s and father’s hand and lord Selwyn took in his arms his little daughter. They left the Throne Room in silence and the crowd drawn back.
Before the doors closed after them, Brienne looked at the king for last time, but her eyes lied on a young man who stood beside the throne. His armor and cloak were as white as snow, his hair was like a melted gold and his eyes were like a fresh grass on Tarth. He looked like the incarnation of the Warrior.
It was a horrible day for Renly, but Brienne was dreaming about it from time to time and never want to wake up before she looked at her Warrior. She knew that know matter what terrible this dreams are there is always beautiful at the end. The true and pure beauty worth of waiting - the smile of her sweet Warrior in his shining armor. From that day, when she prays at the sept, she closes her eyes and imagines that this marble sculpture had a golden hair and green eyes.
And I will do this again, I will pray for strength which I need so much. And maybe… just maybe… I will meet him again - she smiled to her thoughts. She knew that she must do this in the night and she must not take many things. Not just because the journey will be long and hard for a lone woman in the man’s clothes. She must not bring with herself things that could bind her with thoughts of home. And which force her to come back in the time of doubt.
The mother’s armor and the Moon, the ancestral Valerian steel sword, are in the treasure room. The ship is in the port and will leave Tarth at dawn, sailing to the capital. Everything looked so simple except saying goodbye to those who she loves. I could not break their hearts, I could not say them that woman will defeat the family honour.
Brienne set to the desk and start writing but she could not focus. So the first letter was for Dolores - I could tell her about everything, she never betray me and maybe she could even help me?
I am starting a journey, but you are the only person I could tell about it. I must to defend my family honour. I think, I know that you will understand. Remember about our conversations about plans and dreams? My dreams would come true. I wish for you the same. I will write to you, whenever I could. Wait for another message.
Forever yours, Brienne
The next one, was for her father. She wrote it with a heavy heart.
My beloved Father,
I think you know that I could not bring my family dishonour. If Galladon will go, and I will become the Evenstar, I will bring you dishonour, and our family name will die with me. For all this years I was your joy, I know it and I love you for all the good words and support despise that I am not the daughter as you imagined. I am so sorry Father, you deserve more. I hope you will remember me. I love you Father and I always will.
You daughter, Brienne
Big tears ran through her cheeks and felt on a parchment competed with the ink. She does not had enough courage to write to Galladon, this was too hard to say goodbye to her beloved brother. But the worst was thinking about saying goodbye to Renly, the only man she ever truly loves. With her shaking hand she wrote only three words that she could never ever say out loud.
Chapter 13: The Young Stag - part 3
- Brienne, it is me - Renly’s voice was so tender. She put all the parchments under the bed and said:
- Come in - on a doorstep to her bedchamber stood a man in his warm cloak with a dark stag on a yellow wool. On his shoulder there was a small backpack and he had a banner in his hand.
- What are you doing? - she asked with frightened.
- As you see. I am going to the west. I have already say goodbye to Galladon.
- I do not believe you. He could not let you go.
- And he did not. I gave him wine with milk of the poppy. We spent our usual evening. I left him with the best memories. I have got something for you, too - he said and came close to Brienne. He was shorter than her, but it was not a problem when he kissed her. How does he know that I have always dream about it? - she thought, but she close her eyes and let herself to feel this warm - I have always dream that he would give me this, what my brother has every day.
- Remember me - said Renly smiling to her and leaving, but Brienne stopped him.
- You will not leave me, as easy as you left my brother. I will go, too.
- You do not have to. I will represent both our houses Tarth and Baratheon.
- You deserve to be who you are. You are ser Renly Baratheon. The young stag, the last of your house.
- And you will go as…? - asked with curiosity, looking at her with his beautiful blue eyes.
- As ser Galladon of Tarth, the firstborn son of lord Selwyn Tarth, the Evenstar.
- But who will stay as lady Brienne of Tarth? - he asked.
- The new and more beautiful Brienne - she added with a smile.
- I see. Well, maybe ser Ronnet Connington will asked for her hand once again. Such a lovely girl, still unmarried and still the richest maiden in the Seven Kingdoms… Brienne, you really do not have to go.
- I know, but I want - she said kissing Renly’s cheeks. His words helped her to say those three, important words: - I love you.
- I know… - said Renly cupping her cheeks in his warm and sweaty hands - all right let’s go together. Are you ready?
- I need to send this letters and take some things.
- So, meet me in the dock at dawn. I need to say goodbye to your father and ask him for his blessing - said Renly going out from her chamber.
For a short moment she was afraid, that Renly lied to her and he will go alone, but she knows that if she loves him she must trust him. With heavy heart and light backpack, Brienne put her cloak with crested moon and stars and started blowing up candles in her chamber. One by one, each of them as one symbolic goodbye, to those whom she probably never meet again: ser Goodwin, the castellan of the Evenfall Hall, who taught her how to fight; septa Ronelle, who taught her about all the sorrows and bitterness of this world; Joy, the good young kitchen wench, with a smile as warm as sunshine; maester Thorgell, father, brother… there was none for Renly - she thought smiling to herself and quiet walking out the chamber.
The castle was enlightening with the candles, but still very quiet and peaceful, slowly falling asleep. Brienne stopped before father’s bedchamber, but only for a moment to put her letter under the door and then she get to the raventry to sent the letter to Dolores. But there was the maester…
- What is happening, my lady? - he asked with curiosity.
- Absolutely nothing - she said with innocent, but still blushing. I will never be the master of lies - she cursed in her thoughts.
- I just want to send a letter to lady Dolores Peakholt.
- I see. Is it very important?
- Quite - Brienne murmured.
- Please, just wait the second, my lady. You know, that the letter to the king is much more important - he said turning out of her. Think Brienne, you must do something! - she thought nervously, looking around the reventry to find the solution for her problems. And, surprising herself, she hit the maester. The old man fell on the floor and dropped the letter with her father’s sigil. Brienne took the letter and ran out the reventry. She was running as fast as she could to the cellar where was the treasure room of house Tarth. She sight with relief, when she saw the empty corridor to the chamber full of sapphires, gold and family heritage. I should not do this, this is the last thing left after mother’s death - she thought, touching mother’s sapphire armour and father’s valyrian steel sword, Moon. But she took it and her house banner and a lot of golden dragons and she closed the door behind. Father will not see the difference with lack of gold - she tried to persuade herself that what she does is for the good of the house.
Before she left the castle, she went to the sept, to pray one last time in front of her Warrior. The sept was built from the most delicated and priceless marble and sandstone. It lights in the morning sunshine, but now it was dark and terrified, so she light the single candle. She kneeled in the front of the Warrior and enlighten his statue. She closed her eyes and try to imagine that his hairs are gold and his eyes are green like emeralds.
Please, give me strength and courage, which I need so much to fulfill my oaths.
Please, guide my sword to protect my king and destroy his enemies.
Please, make me a shield to defend my kingdom...
- I knew that I will find you here - whispered Renly behind her back - there are chaos in the castle, someone attacked maester Thorgell in the raventry - he added with a smirk, which makes Brienne blush.
- What a tragedy. But we must be at the dock in the morning - she said taking Renly by the hand.
- What about the guards?
- Are you joking? I was born in this castle, there are no hidden passage for me - she provide him through the corridors under the sept but in the moment, she realised that Renly had something in his hand.
- What is it? - she asked going between the crypts with her ancestors ashes.
- Your father was reading it, when I came to his chamber. But, he does not want to tell me about it. So I thought that maybe it will be useful - he said with a big smile.
- You are impossible! I should have told you that we must take only important and indispensable things and what are you doing? Taking some useless piece of paper! - she growl.
- We see. We can throw it into the sea. But I know, it is different than useless piece of paper or your father’s loan notes. I feel that it may be important. I have never seen the green ink… - Renly was so exciting that it almost annoyed Brienne, but when they left the dark and damp corridor, and felt the fresh air and soft sand under their foot, she felt much better. She looked upon the Evenfall Hall but it was too painful to think, that maybe this is the last time when she sees her home.
- Wait - she whispered - the ship of to King’s Landing will sail at dawn. We must not hurry. But… maybe… what if the maester told them… I hope he will not send the letter to the king!
- Do not panic - Renly laugh - we can handle with it - he added showing her his bow and a few arrows which he hidden under his cloak - no raven will leave Tarth. Unless this night.
They started nervously waiting and looking at the windows of the tower where was the raventry.
Brienne was looking at the Young Stag with an enchantment. Despise his hard life at the beginning he always been optimistic. Everything was simple for him. Long journey to the west? No problem, I can organise it within an hour. Someone hurts those, whom I love? Someone is already dead! Brienne loves Renly, because he was the only man in this world, except father and brother, who understand her and accept her. She knew that he does not love her the way she love him, but it does not matter. No one could take away her dreams.
- What is it? - Renly asked putting his slender hand on Brienne’s shoulder - do you have any doubts? I hope you will not left me alone with this.
- I will never leave you alone - she said, trying to hide her tears - I just… I really do not want to let somebody down.
- So hard that you do not know what you want? - ended Renly - I understand you. Like no one. How is to feel, that you do not know who you are, and who you want to be, and where you want to be. I know this feelings for sixteen years. But I hope you do not regret, that you are not in the Griffin’s Roots as Ronnet’s wife? - he asked with a big smile.
- I would rather die, than be with Ronnet!
- Maybe in Peakhold?
- And stand between Dolores and Viggo? It would be as sweet and deadly as poison.
- Then where would you want to be?
- It does not matter where. It does matter with whom - said Brienne, blushing - please, do not speak about it.
- You want to talk about pleasant things? What about the ball at the Griffin’s Roots three years ago?
- You said pleasant things.
- But it was! Do not you remember? It was very pleasant night! - he laughs out loud.
Actually, he was right. The ball was the opening of the most exactiment year in her life. Brienne, Renly and Galladon were forced to spend a year in Griffin’s Roots, while lord Selwyn and lord Roland Connington were on their mercantile expedition to the Free Cities. Lord Tarth and lord Connington were hoping that in this year their children - Brienne and Ronnet will fall in love and they could join their houses in one, the most powerful house in the Storm Lands. In this year to the castle came lord Roland’s nephew and niece - Dolores and Viggo Peakholt, children of the Warden of the North. Brienne does not feel comfortable with other girls but when she met Dolores everything is changed. She was different, she was fighting in the training yard with a tiny sword, she could riding a horse faster and better than Renly and Galladon combined. One day, she took Brienne on a horse race and they were riding, until they saw the walls of abandoned Storm’s End.
The ball, took place after a week, when lord Selwyn and lord Roland shipped off to Braavos. From King’s Landing came princess Daenerys and prince Viserys. When boys have a choice between beautiful Targaryen princess with silver hair and purple eyes and ugly Brienne and mean Dolores, the choice was obvious. Dolores was angry when she saw how her beloved brother danced with Daenerys, so she took away Brienne from the ball hall to the sept in the front of the Maiden.
- In the face of the Maiden, I, Dolores of house Peakholt, made a solemn vows that I will never marry any of the man who showed me offence - she said with enlightening single candle - now is your turn.
- For what? - asked Brienne half smiling, half surprising. She does not want to make any vows, because it was against her dreams of a marriage Renly.
- It is the solemn vow of the Iron Maiden of the Seven. Do not look at me like that. I could not be a wife of any of this man for what they done today. They show no respect for me and for you! - Dolores said looking with curiosity at Brienne and added: - you want to marry one of them? My brother?
- No, of course not!
- Good. Then make a vow! - it is just a game. Funny game of twelve years old, innocent but fickle girl. If she change her mind she will find a way out of this, because she has no idea what is vow, what is honours.
- In other way, you always can have a wedding under the weirwood - Dolores laught, giving Brienne the candle. So she did not had a choice and made a vow, and they became the Iron Maidens of the Seven. When they came back to the ball hall, Viggo grabbed his twin in his arms.
- Where have you been?! I was so worried about you!
- I thought you have a great time with your lovely princess - said Dolores.
- Do not be silly, sweet sister, she cannot dance as good as you do, and she is sooo boring, when she is talking about the old, dead dragons - he said, laughing and kissing Dolores’ forehead. He tried to dance with her but she stopped and said:
- No, Viggo. Tonight I will dance with my Iron Maiden - Dolores said and taking Brienne’s hand. They danced and laught for all night long, and do not care about Renly, Viggo and Galladon. Before the sunrise the girls felt pity for the boys, they were sitting all night sad and drinking wine, so Brienne and Dolores took them on a beach to see the sunrise together. The Peakholt twins swam in the first light of the sun in the clear water of the ocean. Brienne remember it very well, they were like angels, so light, so pure, so innocent. Brienne remember how Renly embraced Galladon, how happy and calm they were together. In that moment she closed her eyes and thought about her warrior. Where is he? Is he thinking about me sometimes. The water was like his eyes, the sunlight was like his hair…
Chapter 14: The Young Stag - part 4
There was a Spring - the fresh smell of blooming lilacs, Brienne’s favourite flowers, the fresh air from the ocean, the water in the colour of his eyes. Years after years and nothing has changed. Not my feelings, nor the season.
- I remember how you and Dolores danced in those white dresses.
- They were blue. Galladon was in white.
- I am so sorry that I could not love you the way I love him - said Renly after a moment of silence.
- It would be harder. I love you and it is too hard to… - said Brienne, blushing.
- Oh Brienne - sighed Renly - I really hope that one day you will find the man who could make you happy. For whom you want to live and die if it is need to - I could not tell him that I have already find that man and it is him . In the hour of a wolf, they went to the dock. No one asked any question when they gave to the capitan a couple of golden dragons. He gave them his own cabin and delicious breakfast with fresh oranges, grapes, cheese and dark bread.
- We will be in the King’s Landing within three days. There will be a feast in the castle, it is princess Rhaenys’ name day - Brienne felt strange knot in her throat. She does not see Rhaenys since the Year of the False Spring, but she remember her very well. How they play in the gardens with her cats, how they made the wreaths of roses. She remember princesses lilac eyes, her joyful laugh and how prince Viserys fell to the fountain, because he ran after the hedgehog to give it to princess Rhaenys.
- I wish you pleasant journey, my lord Tarth. And to you ser Renly - said captain before he left them alone. So here I became my brother, lord Galladon of Tarth, the heir who go to fulfill his duty as a king’s soldier. And he became, me - lady Brienne of Tarth, probably the future Evenstar, who need to fight with new contenders who will come to Evenfall Hall as soon as they will recognised that lady Brienne will inherit the enormous fortune and good family name. How pathetic - she laughs to herself.
- What is so funny, Galladon? - asked Renly when he saw a smile on her swollen lips.
- Nothing. You think that when they found out that I am a woman… they will kill me?
- They could try, but I know that they do not have even the part of your strength and courage. You will become a part of the history. Like Visenya Targaryen and the great queen Nymeria. Brienne, the Iron Maiden of Tarth, the most loyal soldier of the king Aerys the Second of His Name. That is your destiny - said Renly putting his hand on her shoulder.
- And what is yours?
- Mine? I will be you modest squire. However, I should be the great lord, the Warden of the Storm Lands like my brother and like my father before him.
- And if you could… would you change something in you life?
- You know me. I have always want everything from life. If I could I will have my home back, my brothers and in the same time I will have you, and Evenfall Hall, and Galladon and all this good years which we shared… only if I could- said Renly.
Brienne stood from the table and looked through the window. She saw the first bright light of the morning upon the Evenfall Hall. Her home looks like illuminating lighthouse. Home… home, which I left, probably for ever. Home, which I did not say goodbye in a proper way. Father, whom I disappointed. Brother, whom I did not kissed goodbye. Suddenly, she felt tiredness. She put her head instinctively on a pillows of captain's bed and fell asleep.
She dreamt of a beautiful Warrior with a golden hairs. She fought with him on a training yard in the Red Keep. He was smiling, but in a different way than she remember. This time his smile was mocking, like he tried to challenge her, to ask that could woman like her can fight with a man like him? All my life man like him sneered up me. And all my life I have been knocking men like him into a dust - she thought swinging her sword.
- Can you hear the music? May I ask for this dance, my lady? - he asked with a lustful light in emerald’s eyes. - My lady Brienne - he added with such a tender and sweet voice, but it was not his voice, it was Renly’s.
- Brienne, wake up you need to read this! - he shouted. He was concerned. He was walking through the cabin with a piece of parchment filled with green ink, in his hand.
- What is it? - Brienne asked with curiosity voice.
- Read! You must read!
- I have heard you for a first time, you do not need to shout at me - she scowled and looked at the parchment. 283th year after the conquered.
- What the…?
- The truth. This is the truth - he said with strange smile and light in his eyes. She started reading slowly, but after a few lines she understand. But she must read it again, because it was beyond her imagination. Those who wrote this was absolutely mad or… was the most completely sane person in the whole Seven Kingdoms.
But why my father has it?
And who the fuck is the “Woman in the Highgarden”?!
Chapter 15: A Dance of Dragons - part 1
The King’s Landing drowned into ocean of red and black roses - princess Rhaenys’ favourite flowers. The princess’ name day was the last day of 299th year after the conquer. In next six months, there will be a huge anniversary of the 300 years of Targaryen’s ruling over Westeros, so this was the last chance for a small, family celebrating. Tonight, there will be a feast and a ball for the closest member of the family: king Aerys and queen Rhaella, their heir prince Rhaegar and hi wife princess Elia Martell and their son Ageon, prince Viserys and princess Daenerys, prince Doran Martell and his children Arienne, Quentyn and Tristane and all wardens of the Seven Kingdoms, their wives and children.
King Aerys and prince Rhaegar believed that maybe one of these fine bachelor will steal princess’ Rhaenys heart and wed her. All of them were training on the countrydard of the Red Keep, with ser Arthur Dayne, when evening came upon the city. She does not want to be her brother’s wife, so let her cry with a bloody tears in other bed - Rheanys heard that whispers everyday, just like the walls of Red Keep know better, how the reality looks like and what faith will be for her. That was the truth, onec she does not have a choice, but when they gave it to her, she was not happy either and thought about drowning into the waters of Blackwater Bay. Because there was only one man, whom she want for her entire life.
It was not Dickon Tarly, youngest son of the Warden of the South. He was too young for her, he looked and behave like the eleventh years old boy whom he was - still too immature. Prince Theon Greyjoy, son of the Warden of the West and Prince of the Iro Islands, was three years younger than her, but he was interesting only in fighting and whoring. Quite similar to ser Viggo Peakholt, son of the Warden of the North, but he was not “whoring type”, he was full devoted with his body, his heart and his soul to his twin sister Dolores. Lord Ronnet Connington was six years older than Rhaenys and he was looking for a wife who will not left him only with a scars for failed engagement. Lord Edmure Tully was a young and fool and controlled by her grandfather Warden of the Vale and Riverlands but also he was calm and treat Rhaenys with respect, but it was not enough. Of course there were also her cousins, prince Quentyn and prince Tristane but the family members were out of it. I declined my brother, against tradition, so why should I choose one of my cousin instead?
Her ideal was only one man with a purple eyes which could burn her soul, with a legendary sword made of the heart of the fall star, with a cloak as white as a Maiden. And he trained all these men in the country yard, include the one who, probably, one day became her husband and prince. This thought breaks her heart. She knew why is all of this. Her father wanted to show her, what she had lost when she rejected Aegon’s proposal. Her decision complicated everything. She was born to marry her brother Aegon and give him daughter and son with silver hair and purple eyes whom will continue the dynasty for a next three hundred years. Moreover, her uncle prince Viserys also does not hurry with a finding a wife. On the one hand, they prepare for a huge anniversary, but on the other hand the dynasty was in huge trouble.
Almost everybody understatement prince Rhaegar’s bastard’s sons and daughters. Except their mothers: lady Cersei Lannister, lady Lyanna Stark, lady Alys Arryn and Tully’s sisters: lady Catelyn and lady Lysa - only them could do everything for their children to ignore the fact, that they have other name than Rhaenys and Aegon, even if they are from the same man’s seed. There was a rumor that prince Rhaegar had a plan for all of his children but he waits to make them real until he put the crown on his head. But this day will come, sooner or later and he will do whatever pleases him. Some said that he will annulment his marriage to Elia and send her to Dorne to wed his beloved Lyanna, as the first order of his reagin. But this must wait. Just a few months - as the wall of the Red Keep whispers. But not today. Today is a celebration of princess’ name day.
All Rhaegar’s daughters were in Rhaenys’ chamber. The girls talked and laughed about what dresses they will wear on the ball and whom they will give their first dance. Rhaenys sat near the window looking at her sisters and sometimes looking at the courtyard where men trained. She was the eldest, but not the most beloved daughter. This title belongs to Daella, daughter of Cersei Lannister. She was the youngest and sweetest of them all, with delicated face, hair as bright as the sun and purple eyes with emerald’s spots. She already flowered, in opposite to Rhaenys, so the wall spoked that maybe she will wed her half-brother, prince Aegon. But king Aerys must die, he will never allow to put a bastard’s blood on the Iron Throne - added the wall. And Aegon does not love her. In fact he does not love any of his sister, despite their beauty and good character. And true, they are all beauty and intelligent: Daenys, daughter of Catelyn Tully with auburn hair and calm, blue eyes or Naerys, daughter of Alys Arryn with hair as silver as a snow and bright green eyes. Around them, Rhaenys was feeling like an ugly duck but she had something what keeps her dignity. Her name. She was a true born Targaryen’s princess and they are the bastards with Water’s name. But on the court no one said that - all of them are ladies and that is how all speak to them: lady Daella, lady Daenys, lady Naerys, lady Viserya, daughter of lady Lysa Tully, lady Alysanne, daughter of lady Catelyn Tully.
Rhaenys loves her sisters, that was the truth - she could not harm them, they were good to her and kind, but on the other hand they were the evidence of her father’s, prince Rhaegar, infidelity to her mother, princess Elia Martell. And every time when they came to the world, her mother drowned into endless sad and became more and more unhappy, that she is not his beloved wife anymore but she must stay in King’s Landing. Rhaenys had had no idea how she could make her mother’s comfort. Maybe if I will marry Quentyn, father allows me to take mother to Sunspear or Water Gardens and she could be happy and safe in her true home? But there is only one man I am truly love and if I must be a wife I want to be his … Ser Arthur Dayne. The Sword of the Morning. He is her knight in a shining armour, he always protect her and was beside her in every hard moment of her life, and his strong arms were her safe haven. But she whipped when he danced with other ladies at the balls. And when he asked other ladies for a ribbons at the tournaments. But the hardest moment came weeks ago when he came back from the North and the walls whisper that he gave his heart and his soul, and probably his body, to the only daughter of the Warden of the North - lady Dolores Peakholt. But what was worst, she also came to the capital with her repulsive twin brother, ser Viggo, her silent servant from Braavos, Soul, her beautiful mother lady Arlena, her dimmed father lord Gwilbert and her fox pack, cat and hedgehogs.
Rhaenys cried in her chamber for a week, declined food until, on her doorstep, in the middle of the night stand Dolores. She does not asked for a permission, but she came in and binned the door behind her. She put a flask of wine and sweet cakes with sugar and cinnamon on the desk.
- I know what are you thinking about me, but you do not know me - said calmly and gave princess the glass of wine - but trust me, I am not a cruel bitch who wants to ruin your life.
- And what do you know about me?! - shouted Rhaenys looking at Dolores through her full of tears eyes.
- I know one thing, that you are the only one person in this sneaks pit whom I can trust. Because you do not look at my brother as he is the sweetest plum. And you must trust me, because there was nothing between me and your guardian. Nothing that I should explain.
- Did you kiss him? - asked openly Rhaenys.
- Maybe in my mind, but I think that you do with him many other things. In your mind - said Dolores with smile that could melt the ice in princess heart - we must stand together if we want to win - added and gave Rhaenys piece of sweet cake. It tasted so good after the forced starving. Rhaenys expected that everyone will come to her chamber to beg her to eat and obey and do her duties as usual. But no one came - not her father, nor mother and what was saddest, not her beloved guardian. Only this stranger girl from the North, younger but far better than all court.
- I heard that you love only your brother - said Rhaenys when they finished all cakes and wine.
- More than anything in this world, but not in a way everybody think - Dolores blushed. She is not pretty with her carrot-hair and freckles and she knows it but she is charming and had something in her voice… she will feel good in this, how does she call it? Sneaks pit. Maybe she is the friend which I need?
- I could not love my brother. Any of my brothers.
- And that will be the end of you, beautiful princess - said Dolores.
- I do not know. And I am not sure that someday we will know all the answers for the questions. What if all of this is just one of many possibilities? - asked Dolores looking at Rhaenys. She had something in her as blue as the North’s sky eyes, something disturbing. Just like she knows all the truth about the world that the Targaryen’s princess will never know. Just like she wants to share it, but she is too afraid to spoke it out loud.
- That I am sure that is not the best, for gods sake!
- I will let you discover it by yourself, after tomorrow’s ball. Sweet dreams my princess, maybe this is the last peace night in your life - said Dolores kissing her cheeks and go outside the Rhaenys’ chamber. From the window she saw the first shine of the morning the end of the wolf’s hour.
- Rhaenys, look! He brought it for you! - shouted Rhaella running through the chamber with a wreath of winter’s roses. But princess needs a moment to realised that this is not a true flowers. The last winter roses bloomed sixteen years ago, at the last winter. This wreath was made from a bright crystal so shiny and so fragile that could break in her hands.
- Who sent it? - asked her sisters, trying to touch beautiful thing.
- He does not said his name, my lady. It was a beautiful, young man. He said that you should remember with whom you made a wreaths from a winter roses, my lady.
The last winter roses faded sixteen years ago, shortly after the end of Robert’s Rebellion and all the Seven Kingdoms came to the capital to bend the knee before the dragons. I was three and surrounded by my father’s whores, who wanted to buy into my favour. Except Lyanna Stark who feeded her first bastard. And the wreath was for her. I made it with my only peer at the court in that time - the only daughter of the wealthiest man in the Kingdom, lord Selwyn’s Tarth daughter.
- Brienne? - she whispered with doubt and felt that her heart beats faster with a sentiment. Her sister’s laughed at loud.
- Is that a new guardian? - asked Daella.
- Oh, be quiet, it is not our issues- said Viserya trying another red velvet gown before the mirror - Rhaenys, can I borrow your rubin’s necklaces?
- Take what you want - said princess, when she put her shoes and ran out her chamber, taking only the crystal wreath. She knew exactly where she should find Brienne.
Chapter 16: A Dance of Dragons - part 2
She ran through the corridors of the Maegor’s holdfast, and through the gardens. Rhaenys felt that she is observed by lord Varys’ little birds. For a second she was scared that it is a trap, but she knew that she must find it out by herself. It does not matter, that I do not see her since that time. I remember her smile, her warm and faithful smile. I need this smile. I need her calm eyes to make me feel better, just like sixteen years ago. She was my only friend before Dolores.
- This way, my princess - she felt that someone jerked the long sleeve of her dress and she almost fell on a roses’ bush where stood young and beautiful man in a cloak with a hood. He had a sigil with black stang on a yellow cloak. She remember this sigil, but she does not see the Baratheon’s mark since the fell of Robert’s Rebellion and she felt really scared.
- Do not worry, Renly could not harm you - she would recognised this calm voice even at the end of the world, but she could not match this voice to the tall figure in a sapphire cloak. It was Brienne, of course, she knew by the eyes but the rest: broad, homely face and shoulders did not match to the girl whom she knew and whom she missed so much. She must trust her instinct that this manish figure is Brienne of Tarth.
- Shhh! Do not call me by my name. I am here as my brother, ser Galladon - she interrupted. In fact it was not so hard: Brienne growed up but nothing in her looks match to her gender. Except the eyes, as blue as the sapphires.
- Why? - asked Rhaenys.
- It is a long story. In fact, a few long stories - Brienne sounded like she could not find a words to explain to princess, what happened and what secrets she carry with herself - but I need your help. I need to send a message to Peakhold - for a moment Rhaenys was silent, but when she realised she laughed out loud.
- What is so funny? - asked Renly.
- If you want to say something to Peakholt’s you could do it personally - said princess.
- What Dolores is doing in King’s Landing? - Brienne was shocked.
- Not only Dolores. There are also her brother and their parents. My grandfather invited them to my name day ball. Then they will go to the Red Lake and Viggo will join to the king’s army.
- And Dolores agreed?!
- I heard that was her idea, but it is a long story - said Rhaenys and both girls laughed. We have so many stories to tell!
- It complicated everything! - sighed Brienne - I think I should not meet with her… we also travel to the Red Lake.
- But why? To the army? The king said that only the men… if they will find out… your brother should be here and you should stay and inherited Tarth!
- My brother fits to army just like I am fitting to be the future Evenstar. My duty is to bring the honour to the house Tarth and I could not do my duty if I will stay and became some lord’s wife - said Brienne with a serious voice. Rhaenys believed that this is the same girl, so good with taming her kittens, when they were young. Only Brienne could touch Balerion, the angry and wild cat which lived in the dungeons of the Maegor’s holdfast. And now she goes to do duties instead of her brother.
- Oh Brienne - sighed Rhaenys, hugging her friend. It does not matter that she was a two foots higher than her - I hope you know what are you doing. It is very dangerous...
- I do.
- Will you stay at the ball? - asked Rhaenys looking with hopeful at Brienne and Renly - please. I need friendly faces in this snake’s pit - they looked at each other with doubt but they nodded. Despise, Brienne could not declined the pleasure to see with. She also needs a friendly face to make sure, that she is doing what she must.
- Then should I present you as ser Galladon of Tarth and ser Renly Baratheon?
- That would be good - said Brienne, taking the princess hand.
- I will show you your chambers and tell you everything about this little scandal - from this moment, the day became a little brighter for Rhaenys.
- Which one? - asked Renly, hungry for new gossips.
- There was a tournament at Peakhold. Lord Gwilbert decided that he will gave his daughter as a wife to the winner.
- Let me guess. The winner was Viggo? - asked Brienne, but it was not a question indeed.
- Better. In first day won ser Barristan Selmy, ser Arthur Dayne, Viggo and ser Brandon Stark. They won their fights in the brim. But Dolores said that next day and fight in a melee will decide who become her husband. So the next day won Viggo and Brandon Stark. They fought until she stopped them, with a Valerian steel sword in a hand! Even singers and lord Gwilbert were speechless!
- I wish I could see his face.
- Oh you will. In one moment he became paled and his raven hair is more pigeon now, because Dolores said that she will not marry not Viggo, nor Brandon.
- I cannot believe - yelled Renly - everybody know how much Dolores loves her brother. More than anyone in this world.
- That is true. She loves him and he loves her. But she declined it, unless they will show their courage and strength on the battlefield. She gave them a year. I have heard that Brandon Stark go straight to the Red Lake at the same day, with his young squire Arry.
- Brandon Stark, the Lone Wolf fighting against Viggo Peakholt, the Young Raven and future Warden of the North, for a hand of the Bright Star of the North, lady Dolores Peakholt. I think that it is more than gossip and something much bigger than little scandal - said Renly when they go through the staircase of the Red Keep.
- I have heard that Stark kissed her a the ball. Twice!
- What? And Viggo does not kill him with his bare hands? - asked Brienne.
- I have heard that he tried, but he ran after Dolores to her chamber. They spent the night together.
- I have heard that the Lone Wolf likes already tasted apples - laughed Renly but Brienne hit him in a head.
- That hurts!
- It should. I know Dolores and I know how much she loves Viggo but she could never allow it - said Brienne with angry and her cheeks became as red as Rhaenys’ dress.
- You are so naive. As if you do not know how much people could do for those whom they love above all.
But she does not answer. And Rhaenys does not too. Both of them done the stupidest thing for love. Brienne ran after her beloved Renly. And Rhaenys… she could done everything to make Arthur happy. One night she drank to much wine and came to his bedchamber and wanted to give him her maidenhead, but he refused.
- Exactly - said Renly, thinking about that his love to Galladon made him leave him on a safe and sound Sapphire Isle.
- Anyway, that is just a rumor that Viserys told me. And words are like winds, you could asked Dolores yourselves tonight.
And night became very quickly. Rhaenys sent to Brienne’s and Renly’s bedchamber her most trustful handmaiden and gave them elegant clothes for tonight’s ball. Brienne used to wear armour but she never wear doublet. Unless, she felt with it more comfortable than in dress.
- It is so good that they does not see us for so long. They will recognised that you are not Galladon - said Renly with a cocky smile.
- You are still more womanly than him.
- Really? I will take it as a compliment - growled Brienne when princess Rhaenys came to their chamber. She looks astonishing in her black, satin dress. In her dark hair she braided a wreath of crystal winter roses. She looks like the true princess.
- Shell we begin? - asked with a sweet smile on her full lips. She was not so happy for a long time, but with Brienne and Renly, and Dolores, by her side she knew that she will pass this night with a true smile on her face.
- All right, but you must tell us who will be at the ball, except the Warden of the North and his family.
- Only other Wardens. Lord Tarly with his sons Samwell and Dickon. Prince Greyjoy with his son Theon and daughter Asha. Lord Tully, of course. My uncle prince Doran with his children Arienne, Quentyn and Trystane. And lord Connington, but you must not worry. He could not nail you, he does not left his cup since early morning.
- I hope so - said quietly Brienne, tried not to think about her failed engagement with the red griff. Their steps echoed in the hall, but when they came closer to the great hall, they heard nothing but music and laugh.
- Are they started without you?
- Everything is without me - sighed Rhaenys - it is all right, I did not complain, until they do not force me to marry some stupid lord or knight. Until that, they can decide about everything.
- Romantic love is the last illusion of this world - said Renly but no one listened him, when they came to the great hall.
- My beloved granddaughter! - said king Aerys the second, hugging Rhaenys - let us make a toast!
- All hail the princess! - the cherished echoed in the hall.
- And who is your lovely guests? - asked the king looking with his beautiful purple eyes on Renly and Brienne.
- My king, this is ser Galladon of Tarth and this is ser Renly Baratheon. They came to King’s Landing because they are going to do their duties and join to your great army at the Red Lake.
- Welcome sers and please, sit as my honoured guests. You are prepared for the most honourable quest in you whole life. Eat, drink and celebrate. Tonight all the lights of the King’s Landing shine for you too - said and all the hall applauded.
Brienne was looking for a familiar face and saw her. Dolores does not change at all, she was still the same girl with a carrot-hair in a blue dress dancing and laughing in her brother’s arms. She caught her gaze and smiled to her.
- Renly! - yelled Dolores and ran with her brother through the crowd to welcome with friends.
- It is so good to see you tonight. As always by Galladon’s side - added and hugged Brienne and whispered into her ear.
- You thought that I would not recognised my dearest friend. I know it is you Brienne, I know your eyes.
- You cannot hide from her keen eye - laughed Viggo, welcoming with Brienne and Renly - come, let us drink for the princess! - and guide them to the tables, heavy from meat and mead.
- What is happened? - whispered Dolores - because I could not believe that this is a coincidence, that we are meeting tonight in this place.
- You know that I could asked you the same? And something more.
- But I was first, so speak.
- Not here, not with everyone around.
- Fair enough, lord Tarth, but this means that you must give me your first dance - Dolores laughed so loud that everyone could heard her - and then you will tell me about your sweet sister. You know how much missed of lady Brienne.
Prince Rhaegar’s bastards were dancing in the middle of the hall. Rhaenys was looking at them with unhiding jealous. For them, everything was so simple: they raised in one of the most powerful family in the world but they will never have any responsibilities. Besides her father were sitting his whores and they whispered. Once, there were a words of love and respect, but Rhaenys knew that this words change within the time. Now, there was a poison of the court's schemes. They made it for purpose and Rhaenys knew this purpose. The best in this game was Cersei Lannister, who gave Rhaegar two sons: Aemon and Baelor and daughter Daella. And thought that one of them will sit on the Iron Throne. After years spending in King’s Landing she became more like her father during his “reign”, Tywin Lannister.
The most beautiful couple was Aemon and Rhaella. They were dancing and laughing and looking at each other like there was no one else in the room. Of course, they are bastards, they cannot marry into one of the greatest house - they must marry with each other. So Aenys, son of Alys Arryn will marry Daella. Jaeherys, son of Lyanna, will marry Daenys. The “mad” Aerys, the second son of Lyanna, will marry Viserya. Baelor, the son of Cersei, will marry Naerys. And Maegor, the son of Catelyn, will marry Alysanne. Even in love my bastard’s siblings have more lucky than me - thought Rhaenys. But she had a good souls around her - Brienne and Dolores, on the other hand, her true brother Aegon was alone. He sat at the table, by their grandfather’s site, surrounded by his advisors who’s wanted to give him a lessons even during the fest.
Chapter 17: A Dance of Dragons - part 3
- May I have the honour, my princess? - asked ser Arthur Dayne. He was wearing his best purple doublet with a silver stars. She does not need time to think, just took his hand. Only for a second she looked at Brienne and Dolores, but they smiled to her.
- You look astonishing tonight, my princess - he whispered into her ear, when they were dancing in the rhythm of a slow music.
- Not as much as lady Dolores, would not you agree, ser? - she does not want to say it, but when he touched her, she remember every filthy rumors about her beloved knight and lady from the North. It was their first conversation, since he came back from Peakhold and she was waiting for far too long for the explanation.
- You should not trust in every word of prince Viserys. I have done nothing what could harm you…
- You fought for her hand.
- And I was beaten. As two years ago when I fought for yours - it was true. For Rhaenys’ seventeenth name day her father organised the tournament and the winner should became her husband. But the winner was some mysterious knight with a dark crow and red eye upon the crown on a shield and he refused the prize. He ran after the final fight and prince Rhaegar gave up the idea to find a husband for Rhaenys for a long time.
- Why did not just ask my father? If he…
- If he will know about my feelings to you, he will kill me. We must wait, until your brother sits on the Iron Throne.
- But when?! - she wanted to cry out. It was not the first time, when she heard that she must wait until Aegon become the king, but no one wants to say to her when it will be! Even if grandpa will give up, the throne will be in my father’s hands and then no one could stop him before marrying me to some stupid and old lord! No one will stand against the will of the dragon.
- Soon. Trust me, Rhaenys - he said quiet, kissing her cold hands - soon, our dreams came true.
- My dear guests - when music got down, king Aerys stand and raised his glass - I know that today is my granddaughter’s name day and we raised our glasses for her, but this time I want to raise a glass for good health and long live her younger brother, prince Aegon.
- Long live the prince Aegon!
- My lords, my faithful Wardens - king ignores their voices. He planned a long and sophisticated speech, but the final applause should make the earthquake. But he knew that he must speak quickly and loudly that no one could interrupted him again.
- I gathered you tonight to celebrate my granddaughter’s name day but also to announce you my first decision for the new year. It will by my first decisions for the three hundredth years of the Targaryen’s ruling upon the Westeros, but also it will be my last decisions as the king. I want to make this year very special and I want to write history. That is why, in this year, my grandson Aegon, soon, king Aegon the sixth of his name will take my sit - the silence was overwhelming. Everybody looked at the young prince but Aegon was still looking into his cup of water. Everybody knew he is wonderful, mature above his age, very bold and smart - just like his grandfather in his young age. He was preparing, since he was a child. He was helping his grandfather during the meetings of a Small Council and was traveling with him around the Seven Kingdoms. He was the most trustful advisor and he was taking the king’s will in the places where the Great Maester’s ravens cannot go and he was listening the words which lord Varys’ birds cannot hear. Everybody knows that there was no prince in the history so well prepared for being the king, but no one thought that for him, king Aerys will broke the holy right and ignore his beloved son Rhaegar.
- The second question is the wedding of our future monarch. I want a happiness for my grandson. That is why, against tradition, I did not force him to marry his sister or his aunt. But I want a good wife for him, beautiful and obedient woman from a noble house. That is why I wish that your daughters will stay at the court for next year and the king will find among them his beloved and dearest spouse, our future queen.
- The third thing is the reformation of the King’s Guard. When princess Visenya Targaryen founded this sacred guard she was inspired by the holy vows of the brothers of the Night’s Watch. She dreamt that the King’s Guardian will keep safe the king and his family as good as the brothers keeping safe the Wall. But it means that they must sacrifice their family and house for the good of the realm. I think it is time to stop it. When I give my crown to prince Aegon we will start the new age of the King’s Guard. The member of the King’s Guard will be choose from the noble houses of each of the Seven Kingdoms and he must be married. From that moment the place in the King’s Guard will be pass from father to firstborn son.
- My beloved Wardens. I have a very personal request for you. I would like to ask you to take my son’s children to your kingdoms. They will help you and take part of your responsibilities, when they come of age. Lord Gwilbert, please take to the North lord Jaeherys and lady Daenys. Lord Randyll, please take to the South lord Baelor and lady Naerys. Lord Edmure, please take to the Riverlands and to the Vale lord Aerys and lady Viserya and lord Maegor and lady Alysanne. Prince Baelon, please take to the West lord Aemon and lady Rhaella. Lord Ronnet, please take to the Storm Lands lord Aenys and lady Daella. Let is make a toast. This time for a life in peace and prosper. For the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. For our home.
- For the Seven Kingdoms - the walls echoed but there was not as cheerful as king Aerys expected. In the air there was something disturbing. Like everyone were terrified by the words of the king and wanted to escape the great hall. Rhaenys looked through the face of the guests and saw that all of them was unpleased like they were drinking some horse piss not the most delicious wine from Dorne. She felt that Dolores jerking the sleeve of her dress.
- Let is go, before they will kill each other. Take Brienne - Dolores whispered and the three women quietly escaped the great hall and ran to the gardens outside the Maegor’s holdfast. The path was lighted by the red and black paper’s lanterns.
Chapter 18: A Dance of Dragons - part 4
- I think, that your grandfather is mad - Dolores broke the silence, when the girls sat on a bench hidden in the roses. Only the youngest had enough courage to say out loud the one think that all of them have in their minds.
- If the king thinks that everyone will agree, that makes him also a fool. Have you seen the face of prince Rhaegar and prince Viserys?! They became as white as their hair! No one expected this! Maybe besides ser Arthur, he knew exactly, that is what he tried to tell me…
- Dolores, please, be quiet just for a second - growled Brienne.
- Why? We all know that it is a terrible mistake. It could bring us into a war! My father is the Warden of the North only because the good will of the king and he will never disobey him but lord Tarly… Ronnet… they were making their positions for years. They will never give up the power, especially for some no name bastards!
- Dolores, would you please shut up! Do not you know that even flower have an ears?! - said Rhaenys.
- No, because in the North there are not so beautiful flowers with a spider's between the thorns. It does not matter at all, what shall we do now?
- We? What can we do? We are just a women. We are just a paws in their hands, as you heard. Even you could be the future queen, no matter if you want it or not. They will never ask you…
- I do not want to be your brother’s wife. And I will never be just a pawn. Not me, nor Brienne and I hope that you also do not want to be, my princess. We were not born to make men happy.
- You are as mad as the king - said bitterly Brienne.
- You think I am mad? This is madness - Dolores almost cried when she gave them a piece of parchment from her corset - I was reading this for at least four weeks and I am still thinking that this is greater madness than anything what has been spoken tonight - she gave it to Rhaenys.
- Where did you get this? - asked Brienne with frightened in her voice.
- Do not ask. You will never believe me.
- Speak! - yelled Brienne giving them another parchment so similar with the same green ink and beautiful handwriting.
- What is going on?! - asked Rhaenys looking from one girl to another.
- I do not know - sighed Dolores - Brandon Stark gave me this at the ball. He said that if I want to know the truth, this is my choice. And he kissed me, but it was not normal kiss. He was as cold as an ice. And I… I woke up in a different place. It was the Peakhold but it was not my home, not anymore. There was my uncle Tancred, but he died sixteen years ago. There was his only son, my cousin Odo, but he left to the Citadel almost five years ago. They accused my brother for murder our maester. It was like some nightmare. But when I opened my eyes everything was just like it was - the great hall, the ball, but he was not so cold, not anymore, and kissed me again and gave me his. I am reading this on and on but still… I do not understand this - Rhaenys hugged Dolores and felt her hot and salty tears on her shoulder.
- Shhh, I think it was just a bad dream - said princess.
- But which one? Which one is a dream? Which one is a reality?! - Rhaenys looked at Brienne but in her sapphires eyes there was the same doubt that in Dolores’.
- Read this. You will understand our… - said Dolores between deep breaths.
When Rhaenys started reading she felt the shiver deep in her bones. She felt that her body became smaller and more fragile than ever. She put the shaking hand on her stomach and felt the hot and dense blood, running through many wounds made by a sword. From her beautiful braid hair fell down the crown of crystal winter roses and crushed into thousands pieces under her feet. She cried but no sound came from her mouths, there was the sound only in her head. She fell onto the soft grass but she land on her child’s bed in her previous chamber in the Maegor’s holdfast. Her mother, princess Elia Martell was sitting on her bed with a small child near her breast.
- Do not worry my darling, you are safe here - she whispered into her ear. In other hand mother had a cup of water but there was something more than water in here and it makes Rhaenys scared. In the crystal glass there was a purple flaw, running on the top of the water like a serpent.
- You must drink this, sweetheart, you will sleep - Rhaenys heard the scream and fire in a far. She recognised that there must be the day of sack the King’s Landing.
- Mother I do not want to sleep! I am scared! - it was the voice of a mature Rhaenys in a body of a child.
- Shhh, my love, you must be as quiet as a mouse - mother tried to calm her and drink the water from a poison cup. Rhaenys does not want to do this, but she does. She knew this bitter taste. When she was older and she could not sleep, Grand Maester Pycelle gave her the shade of the night, but just one drop in a whole flask of water. This time there was a whole flacon of the poison in a small cup of water. Rhaenys, caged in a body of a small girl, knew what does it mean. An eternal dream… but she woke up when she felt the thousands swords in her small body, but when she closed her eyes she felt nothing. Only darkness around her like a soft flakes of dark roses. And then she woke up. She was in the gardens in the Red Keep. Her hands and feet were cutted by the crystal wreath. Dolores and Brienne were scared to death but tried to plug the blood stream from her body by her soft stocks.
- Gods… - sighed Dolores.
- What was that? - asked Rhaenys with a shaking voice.
Chapter 19: A Dance of Dragons - part 5
- A blink. A vision. That is what Brandon Stark called it. I have the same. Something like that but not so… bloody.
- I did not have a vision - said Brienne.
- Really? Maybe… I have a vision when Brandon kissed me, not when I was reading this. Maybe you have a vision when you are part of this chronic… - said doubtedly Dolores.
- Or maybe you have a vision if you are dead - interrupted Rhaenys.
- Oh do not be a silly. Everything is fine. We are alive! - shouted Dolores.
- After this? How could you say that everything is fine after this?!
- You have just fainted. I am sure this was because the events of the evening, nothing more - said Brienne tried to calm them, but a moment earlier she was as insecure as Rhaenys and Dolores.
- Where is the next part? - asked Rhaenys, looking at Dolores and Brienne with a sharp, purple eyes - it was not ended after the Robert’s Rebellion.
- I think you are right, but we do not even know who is the Woman in the Highgarden. Renly took this from my father, maybe he knows something but he will never tell me. If there is a secret that could destroy the peace of the realm…
- What about Brandon Stark? What the Lone Wolf told you? - asked Rhaenys looking at Dolores.
- He said nothing more. Just that he does not want to scare me but he want to set me free.
- It is madness!
- Maybe, but if you Brienne, could not ask your father and you Dolores, could not ask Brandon Stark we must go to the South and find out ourselves - said Rhaenys, calm and quiet for a first time.
- Why? - asked Brienne and Dolores at the same time.
- Because the truth must lie in the Highgarden.
- Wait a second. What if it is just some kind of stupid joke? - asked Brienne - I do not have a vision, maybe Brandon Stark gave a poison to this parchment to make Dolores mad and we are going the same way? The words of the Woman in the Highgarden are mad and stupid. What if someone just wrote this and send it to every part of the Seven Kingdoms for a joke? We all know how the Rebellion ended. It is just impossible that there could be a different reality, am I right?
Oh my sweet naive Brienne. You are a child of a Summer. How do you know that the vision is a lie if you do not feel it? If you could feel what I felt, the world a thousand time more scared and more vivid. If you feel the agony and the ecstasy, both so sweet and so overwhelming…
- We will ride to the South at first dawn. Let the Woman in the Highgarden explain this to us.
- Alone? - asked Dolores.
- Of course not. We will take one hundred golden cloaks and all the member of the King’s Guard.
- It is not funny - said Brienne.
- All right. Then only ser Arthur Dayne - said Rhaenys blushing.
- Dragon Princess and her knight. The Young Stag and the Maiden of Tarth. The Twins of the North. All in a journey for one purpose. The truth… The singers will never find a proper words and proper tune for this song. Why should we wait until the dawn? - asked Dolores with smile and ran to the castle.
Chapter 20: The Vision - part 1
When Dolores opened her eyes, she had no idea what really happened. The guests, the music, everything disappeared and the Great Hall turned into small dining room. A strange man sat at the table. She never met him, because he died before she was born, but she recognised him immediately. He had a beautiful blue eyes, in the same shape and with the same glint like her father’s eyes. But he was so big that Dolores and her brother could wear his clothes in the same time and there still be the room left. His face was darker that her father’s and very gloomy. On his right side, sat his only living son, Dolores’ cousin, Odo. He wrote something on a parchments and does not look up. Through a small and dirty windows shone a glints of cold, Northern sun and all the other people stood in the shadow of her uncle - ser Tancred Peakholt.
- Please sit down, Dolores. They will bring Viggo within minutes - said uncle Tancred with his loud voice such different from the voice of her beloved father, which was calm and low. Dolores felt like she was in trance and she on a high armchair by her uncle’s left side. The doors opened vide and her brother Viggo came with two guardians by his side. He was proud but… he is not my brother! This Viggo looked so different, than the brother whom she knows - he had shorter hair and a neglectful beard. Only his eyes, as blue as forget-me-not, shone with so familiar glint.
- Ser Viggo of house Peakholt, son of lord Gwilbert Peakholt, the heir to the house Peakholt. You stand accused of murder our maester Arlan. Do you deny it? - the voice of ser Tancred was serious but the things he said were madness! What the hell is going on? Viggo could never do such a thing! And our maester is maester Yngling since I remember, he helped our mother when her time came and she gave a birth - she could not keep her thoughts and before Viggo said anything, Dolores shouted:
- It is impossible! - everyone looked at her with a mix of a surprise and … irritation. Even Viggo rolled his eyes with anger and impatient. It is not possible. You always have a look like this for those who told you how you supposed to live, for those who drive you crazy for their orders… but you never ever looked at me that way before. Who are you, because I know that you are not my brother!
- I should know that you will defend him know matter what, but let him speak - said uncle Tancred with such outright voice. What the hell is going on? And where is a father? Where is my mother?
- Ser Viggo Peakholt, let me repeat it, do you… - but Viggo interrupted him:
- You must not, uncle. Yes, I killed maester. Is that what you want to hear? I am guilty.
- But why?! - asked Dolores feeling hot tears running down her cheeks.
- I have already told you Dolores, this son of a bitch has been poisoned our father for the order of this fucker Geldax - said Viggo but he does not look at her. It must be a nightmare! Just a bad dream and when I wake up I will be in my home, in my bed, with my brother by my side and everything will perfectly normal - thought Dolores and she closed her eyes and clenched her fists just like if this small spell could help her to back into reality. But where is the reality if here I can feel everything a hundred times more: my tears are like fire on my cheeks, the sounds are so intensified, the colours are so saturated, but he is not my brother, he is not real Viggo, he could never…
- Do you have any proof?
- Beside the main proof that he found guilty himself? - said Viggo with confidence. Then came long and awkward silence.
- Odo, could you affirm this? I have heard that you have some trace? - asked uncle looking at his son.
- As I told you, father, I and Dolores founded in maester’s chamber the portion of the tears of Lys. It is a rare and deadly poison which could be used against our beloved lord Gwilbert. However, since the maester had been imprisoned, lord Gwilbert’s condition does not become worse nor better. Also, we does not found any letter from lord Geldax.
- This is madness - whispered Dolores when she creasing the sleeve of her woolen, grey dress.
- For such a crime could be only one punishment. But you are my brother’s son and the heir of house Peakholt so I want to give you a choice: sword or the Wall? - Dolores could not believed her own ears. Is the uncle want to…
- No! - she said with hard voice, but her body was shaking of fear. Everyone looked at her - I disagree. My brother killed maester but he done it to protect our family. And I think that those who committed crime is not my brother but the maester who broke his vow to our father and betray him. My brother made a good choice and stay loyalty to our family, our house and he is the best heir…
- Uncle, you have burned my sellswords and my companions. And it will be delightful to see your head on a spike for a crime which you committed against me, your landlord, but I am not despiteful. Let is just say that you have burned my sellswords for killed the maester and we are done - said Viggo. Tancred looked at his nephew, than at his son and finally at Dolores.
- Her red which brought one of them back - said Odo - but I must agree with Dolores. No one knows what really happened between maester and our beloved lord Gwilbert and no one knows what really happened between Viggo and the maester. Let is just keep it quiet until the end of the tournament.
- Ser Viggo Peakholt, son of lord Gwilbert Peakholt, the heir to the hous Peakholt. We found you guilty for your crime. However we take the special extenuating circumstances and we judge that from now you are a free man - said uncle Tancred and Viggo smiled cocky, bowed before his judgement and walk out the door. He does not look at Dolores, even for a second. She ran after him immediately.
- Viggo, please wait! - she shouted but he does not stop until he reached the cinders of the buildings in the south part of the courtyard.
- And for what? - he asked when she reached him - I thought that you said everything and finally left me in peace.
- What the hell happened with you?! Do not you remeber? My blood, your blood, our blood.. - she asked, almost crying. This is not my brother. He never behave like that. Not for me. He was never silently and cold and grim and heartless. This is not my Vigoo.
- Oh sweet sister... - he drawled through his teeths, putting his strong hands on her thin shoulders - what do you want?
- If they will kill you or send you to the Wall… you know that I will go whatever you will go, you know that?
- And you never thought that I do not want you to go whatever I will go? And now, be my good sister and obey your lord’s command and go to you chamber, stay there with your silent wench and red bitch and do everything to stay out of my way. Is that clear?
Dolores stood with a fear and disbelief on her face. One heart, one soul, one blood, two bodies. That is what we ever… what he ever said about us, and now...
- What are you waiting for? A kiss? - he asked and took her slender face in his hands and kissed her. But when they mouths have met, her world turned around and she does not look in her brother’s blue eyes but in the grey eyes of the Lone Wolf. She shouted when she felt the cold and hard floor of the Great Hall of Peakhold. But no one notice her fell, because Brandon Stark took her in his arms like she was as light as a feather.
She was in the Great Hall once again in the arms of the Lone Wolf of Winterfell and he looked at her with his most cocky and cynical smile. But his touch was not as cold as before. Something changed but what? - she asked herself.
- What are you afraid ? - asked Brandon Stark when his warm breath run dry her tears on a cheeks - do you afraid of the truth, however, only the truth can save you from your demons which burn you every single day on the inside?
- I fear of you lord Stark - she said with a shaking voice.
- I am not a lord anymore. And you must not be afraid of me. Can you imagine that no choice you have ever made was your own. That you have always been a prison. What if I told you, that I am here to set you free? - asked the Lone Wolf putting in her dress the piece of parchment. He kissed her once again, but this time his lips were as hot as a Dornish sun. When I wake up I will be in my bed and there will be another normal day. No tournament, no contenders. Only I and Viggo - thought Dolores looking in Brandon’s grey eyes. She tried to persuade herself that it is possible.
- But it is only your choice - shouted Brandon when Dolores ran out from the Great Hall.
Chapter 21: The Vision - part 2
She could not see that her brother was keeping by four men because he wanted to kill Brandon Stark with his bare hands.
- Let me go, I have to run after her! - he screamed, but she could not hear him. She ran to her bedchamber - the only place where she could feel safe. She need the proof that Brandon Stark is lying and trying to manipulate her. Her chamber was empty and only fire from chimney gave a comfort warm and light. She took from under bed two swords in fine, leather bearers. The valyrian steel shone in her specific red-black glint. No one could imitate this steel. It is Ice, reforged into Bright Star and Ravensclaw. One was for Viggo - this with a pommel in a shape of a raven’s head made from black onyx and black diamonds and with a hilt in a shape of weirwood made from pure white diamond with rubin’s leaths. The other was for Dolores - with the same hilt and pommel in a shape of seven pointed, diamond star and sapphires. They were the most beautiful and the most lethal weapons in the Seven Kingdoms. They are belong to me and to my brother. No one but us. And not in any other life. They are like we - one soul in two bodies.
- What is going on, Dolores? - Viggo stood on a doorstep to her bedchamber - for whole night you are dancing, drinking and talking with those jerks and at the end you kissed Brandon Stark and ran out. I am afraid of you, sweet sister - he sat in the armchair near fire. His words were as sweet as poison. He looked at her with an anger in his eyes but she knew that it was because of wine, not what she had done.
- If I told you, you would never believe me - she said, but finally she felt safe. She sat beside him on the other chair and took his cold hand in her hand - do you come here to take your name day’s gift? Let me show you - she took him to her bed and showed him two swords. Viggo opened his mouth with astonishment. After few seconds he took a deep breath and asked her:
- Where did you get this?
- You know that father could never swing such a huge sword. Steel was enough for two swords. For the future Wardens of the North - she said with a big smile on a face when she look when her brother barely touched his sword with enchantment on his face.
- Is it not the most beautiful gift for the bravest knight in the Seven Kingdoms, ser? I want to hear the song of this steel tomorrow, when you will fight with Brandon Stark.
- As you wish, my lady - Viggo said and bowed before her, waiting for the ribbon That night, they slept in Dolores bedchamber. At dawn, Soul came to Dolores’ bedchamber to pull out the fire in a chimney and wake up the girl and prepare her to the next day of the tournament. She was not surprised when she saw twins in one bed. Soul poked up Dolores softly to wake up her.
- I am not sleeping - she murmured and opened her eyes. She was dreaming of a beautiful things and did not want to wake up. Especially, when she realised that she must face with another, maybe the most important, day of the tournament.
- Wake up brother - she said and kissed his closed eyelids.
- Just a minute, let me kill Brandon Stark - he said through his dream.
- You can do it for real - she said with a smile and put in his open hand the hilt of his sword.
- So it was not a dream? - he asked and opened his eyes - I think I should give you one more gift.
- If you win the tournament there will be enough - said Dolores when she was changing her dress. For today, she chose green, velvet dress with a very long sleeves. Soul gave her also heavy, dark coat with a wide hood.
- I hope there will be no rain - said Dolores looking at Soul and then through the window. There was a sunny morning but on the horizon was gathering the dark clouds.
- If there will be rainy there will be like in a song - he smiled, still lying on his sister’s bed - do you want to know what I was dreaming about? There was a tournament. And there was a warm, summer rain. I fought with ser Arthur Dayne and I defeated him. I fought with Theon Greyjoy and I defeated him. Only because of this sword. And I fought with Brandon Stark, but I do not want to just won with him. I wanted to kill him. He said terrible lies about you and me. He said that you never loved me, that you manipulated me, that you killed our father… Unfortunately, you woke me up before I put my sword into his filthy mouth - so I have not tell him about the Stark’s lies, about the vision. I cannot do this, I need to protect him - thought Dolores nervously but she smiled sweetly and said:
- If he try to say this again, I will put his head on a spike - I will not allow this Lone Wolf to destroy my happiness, and if he tries I am going to kill him even if this will be my last thing in this world. I hope this is a prophetic dream and the last fight will be between my brother and Brandon. And if Viggo won, no one could ever separate us and we will stay in Peakhold for ever and we will rule the North together.
- I knew that I will found you here - lady Arlena Peakholt came to her daughter bedchamber with her servants and two Viggo’s squiers - my son, I thought that you will want to prepare for today’s melee- she asked with irony, looking at her son whom still lying on Dolores’ bed.
- Good morning, mother - he smiled and stand from a bed and started lengthening like a lazy cat - see you soon, my sweet sister - he added and kissed Dolores’ hands and bowed before their mother. Before he go out from the chamber he took his new sword.
- I have always knew that you two will be cause of my precocious death - lady Arlena sighted - you are the main theme of all gossips. First - the ribbon for the King’s Guardian. Second - the kiss with a Brandon Stark and at last, but not least - the night with your brother in your own bedchamber.
- We have always sleep together. We hunt together. We bath together. We learn together. We live together. We are the twins of house Peakholt and there was never a problem that we are together everywhere. Why now? - asked Dolores when the servants started brushing her hair.
- We are not alone. We need to be more careful with our future king. I thought that you are smart enough to know that our fate depends on Aerys’ and Rhaegar’s caprice. One false step and we all fall down - she treats me like a child. She explains to me such an obvious things. I know that we are the Wardens because our father’s betray to Starks and obey to the King. And I know that we can lost everything in one second. And I know that things which suits to the king, did not suits to their servants.
- Yes, mother - said Dolores but she wanted to say something completely different, but she did not had enough energy for another fight with mother.
- Good girl - said lady Arlena and kissed her only daughter in a forehead - I wish that your father were not such a pigheaded man. He could marry you of to ser Galladon of Tarth and we all be much happier and calm…
You are so wrong mother, because even if you and father will be happy, I, Galladon and Viggo, Renly would never be happy… Oh Brienne, I wish you were here. You are the only person in the world who could understand me and my doubts. When she was in her thoughts she does not realised that she, her mother, Soul and other ladies already came away from the castle to watch the second day of the tournament. Before she took her place, she met Brandon Stark.
- My lady, I want to beg you for your forgiveness - he said it quit loud that everyone could hear him. And even if someone could not hear him, he could see him on a knees before lady Dolores. He took her hands in his and warmed them with his breath.
- You have my forgiveness, ser - Dolores said with a weak voice. Even his presets make her scared. What kind of trick you try to seduce me, Lone Wolf?
- My lady, it will be my honour to fight for you - he said pointed at the pommel of his sword. You do not deserve to fight for me, but do I have a choice? - she tough but she put her ribbon on a hilt of the Stark’s sword.
- I hope that my brother will kill, just like he did in his dream - she whispered into Brandon’s ear.
- Have you read what I gave you? I am already dead for a long time - he said with a cocky smile on his round lips. For nearly a blink Dolores understand why so many women spread their legs before the Lone Wolf, but she did not show that this smile seduced her just a little bit. She was not as naive and dumb like other ladies.
- You must read this - he said but he turn around and go his tent to prepare for a fight.
- Soul, bring me the parchment - Dolores said. The servant bowed and ran to the castle. Dolores took her honour place between her father and her mother. On lord Gwilbert’s right side sat prince Rhaegar and ser Barristan Selmy. Who else disclaim the fight after yesterday’s scandal? - thought Dolores.
Chapter 22: The Vision - part 3
But the rest of them: prince Viserys, ser Arthur, prince Theon, ser Ronnet, even lord Samwell Tarly do not give up so easily. Not mention the Lone Wolf or the Young Raven.
Her brother was looking upon Brandon Stark with a hateful, but when he saw the white ribbon on the hilt of the Stark’s sword, he looked at Dolores with disbelieve in his blue eyes: after all of this, all what he had done, you still allow him to fight for you? But she looked at her brother wit love in her eyes: I gave you the most beautiful and the most lethal weapon in all Seven Kingdoms, so ask yourself again: who is fighting for me?
Today, no one spoke before the fight. Lord Gwilbert was pale and with shaking hand, gave an order to start. In his black hair were new white stripes and he looks much older than yesterday. All the lords and ladies were dying with excitement, because there were more than one favorite. Dolores heard that the lords shouted the name of their favorite and the bid growing higher with every strike. No one wants to lose the chance to win some money on the tournament.
- One more fight and they will thrust yours, my lord - laugh prince Rhaegar, drinking wine - it would be my honour to parlay on my dear brother, but I know my friend and no one had a chance with him. Five hundred golden dragons on the Sword of the Morning - the prince shouted when the legendary swords crushed and the steel sang more beautiful than the bards on yesterday’s feast. Dolores’ father smiled gently and said:
- You have a wonderful intuition, your highness.
- I choose only steady, I have a natural instinct for this, my lord - said prince Rhaegar. Viserys gave up as the second, after the brave lord Samwell Tarly. Those arse-licking lords, whom wanted to be in a favour of dragons, throw the sacks of gold to those, whom bet on ser Arthur Dayne, who once again won over prince Viserys.
In the cloud of dust, swords and shield, Dolores spotted her brother, who easily bet Ronnet and Theon. The lords and ladies from the North yell with joy his nickname: The Young Raven! Dolores felt that her heart skipped a beat: this is just like in his dream. There are only three of them. Viggo’s dream is a father’s and mother’s nightmare!
In his pride and impudence, Viggos turned his sword against the king’s guardian, leaving the Lone Wolf for the end. The love of the people were with the Young Raven, but the mind were with the Sword of the Morning. And in that very moment, someone from the crowd shouted:
- A thousand golden dragons for the Lone Wolf! - and Brandon Stark, who wanted to put his sword in the Young Raven, charged on ser Arthur Dayne. Viggo, and all the people with him, was disorientated and just stood and watched the brutal fight between men. They throw their swords and just punching with their fists until stronger and bigger Brandon Stark pin down Arthur Dayne and the Dornishman cought up:
- Yield! I yield! - this was his last words before the great silence. It was like the world stops for a very long moment. Dolores could not believe that her brother’s dream could be real. That the last fight will be between Viggo and Brandon. She looked on them and a few moment later on the silent crowd. Only a small boy was walking between the lords and took form them a gold - he was the one whom bet on the Lone Wolf. Beside her, just like a ghost, came Soul.
- Tell me your truth, lord Stark - whispered Dolores when she broke the sigil with golden rose and started to read.
282 year after the Aegon’s conquer
I thought that the Spring was coming. The snow was fading on the South. There were a first flowers in the Highgarden. But this was just a delusions and false hope. They all perished soon enough. I have already got the invitation from lord Whent on a tournament in Harrenall. It will be the most glorious and extravaganza tournament in the whole history, even bigger and more fabulous than the last tournament in Casterly Rock. Not because there will be all lords from North and Dorne, East and West, Crownlands, Riverlands, Stormlands, Reach and Iron Islands. And not because there will be king Aerys The Second of His Name, who was avoiding fresh air and his subjects, since last nine years.
All Seven Kingdoms live only for this tournament: the ladies are preparing their silks, the knights are preparing their swords and the lords are preparing for the bloody negotiations. There is no mystery, that lord Whent does not have enough dragons for such a costly airs, but who will openly admitted that this is lord Tywin Lannister’s and prince Rhagar’s plot. No one. But everybody know, that they are plotting against the king since Duskendale. The country is one step to the war, but no one want to turn back even for the good of the realm. The fools pay their life for a mistake, but the royal fools pay life of the subjects for their royal mistakes.
The Lords, whose do not know, how bad was the king’s condition, quickly change their site. Because they saw an old man, with a yellow than white skin, with eyes cast by the shadow of melancholy and madness, with a long, thick nails, crushing whenever king Arys took the cup of wine. Within fortnight. Even his truest allies were against him.
At the beginning of the tournament there was a celebration of anointing ser Jaime Lannister as the new member of the King’s Guard. He was the most beautiful and bravest foul in the history. His golden armor blinded with its bright, his white cloak blew proudly on the wind. Who could imagine that his happiness and pride, soon became his burden and curse? Only I and his father - lord Tywin Lannister, whose absence was noticed as soon as the tournament begin, spreading the gossips about his involved in the conspiracy.
For seven days, the bravest knights and lords were fighting in the melee and brim. And for seven nights, they were sneaking to the ladies’ chambers to get their rewards. Why the measters are silent about this events, for the nights are more fascinating than the events in the daylight? It is known that everybody want to hear about how the bravest and the most honourable ser Barristan Selmy break the secret vows for lady Ashara Dayne’s smile. How the handsome and strong heir of Winterfell spent every night in the arms of beautiful ladies to forget about his future dull wife, the daughter of the lord Trout. The song of steel is not such fascinating as the song of ice and fire, where prince Rhaegar Targaryen crowned lady Lyanna Stark as the queen of love and beauty.
It was lie, that he wanted to gain the favour of the North. Because, if he wanted to persuade them on his site, he will send them one of his father’s pyromanc to warm their cold, northern bones. He does not want to make a fair judge, as Robert Baratheon said. Lady Lyanna was not the fairest lady in the kingdom, as her fiance said - she was a she-wolf of Winterfell, not as bright as the light of the West or as beautiful as the princess of Dorne. Lady Lyanna had a short, black hair, bind in the northern style and she preferred the boiled leather than the silk gowns.
But she was and the Ice and the Ice was Rhaegar’s obsessed, as he thought about himself as a Fire. And for this obsess he decided to burn the Seven Kingdoms. After the False Spring, Winter came back with double forces and covered King’s Landing with ice. But not Rhaegar, nor Lyanna knew about it - they ran out the south, to the quiet Tower of Joy in Dorne, to conceive the Prince that Was Promised. And the whole country ran after them.
The news about “the kidnap” of lady Lyanna, caught lord Rickard and his son Branson in the way to Riverrun for the wedding of the Winterfell’s heir with lord Hoster Tully’s daughter, lady Catelyn. They changed their way. King Aerys welcomed them warmly in the capital. When the Starks demand to release lady Lyanna by trial by combat, the king agreed and make a fire his champion. Let the screams of the lords and knights boiling in their armour, will be a nightmare forever, to those whom done nothing to stop the king’s madness. In that moment, the kingdom was split between those who stand by the site of the Mad King and those who wanted to cast him down. Robert Baratheon, Eddard Stark and Jon Arryn call the North, Vale and Stormlands against Crownland, Reach and Dorne.
The most important battle took place at the bank of the Trident, where flower of the knighthood died, like ser Jonothor Darry and prince Lewyn Martell. All of them fight for a false honour of the stupid girl, whom name was the last word of dying prince Rhaegar, when Robert Baratheon crushed the last dragon with his warhammer. Firstly, the ravens ate their flesh then, the raves took the message about the fail to the capital. The rebels turned their march to King’s Landing. But Tywin Lannister was faster.
Within few days, the golden army of the West was at the gate of the city when the worst nightmare of this war begin. The city has been sacked. Tywin Lannister, covered with blood of the inocentes, came into the Red Keep, where he saw his beloved son on the Iron Thrones with the dead corps of the late king Aerys at his feet. And then, his dogs, brought him three bodies, covered with the Lannister’s crimson cloaks. Princess Rhaenys bleeded from many wounds. Price Aegon was unrecognizable, because his head was crushed by the hands of the Mountain. Princess Elia looked like she was sleeping, but she was dead and her lips were wet with the poison.
The most powerful dynasty in Westeros was faded with this blood, but it does not stop Robert Baratheon from sending the first of many assassins after prince Viserys and princess Daenerys, to avenge the death of his beloved Lyanna. To make country in one piece, he took lady Cersei Lannister as his wife and arranged the marriages between lord Eddard Stark and lady Catelyn Tully, and lord Jon Arryn and lady Lysa Tully.
Many houses, whose stand by the site of Targaryen’s fall. The last woman from house Connington, beautiful lady Arlena, whom supposed to marry prince Oberyn Martell, was married of to poor but lovely lord Gwilbert Peakholt from the North. Rich and powerful lord Selwyn Tarh, lost his money over the Estemont’s, the king’s family. Lord Stannis Baratheon, brave defender of the Storm’s End was send of to Dragonstone as the lord of the old-Targaryen’s holdfast on a grim island and his family legacy were gave to young and spoiled lord Renly Baratheon. Ser Jaime Lannister, after the events during the sack of the capitol, known as the Kingslayer, was pardoned by his brother-in-law and stand as the King’s Guardian. On the king Robert’s place, I would not be so sure about the Lannister’s honour (both his queen and his knight).
But do not worry my sweet summer children. There is a time for a true Spring. There is a time for a true peace. But not of this will last forever.
That is how ends the first chapter of “The Song of Ice and Fire. The Chronicle of the Seven Kingdoms after Targaryen's Fall” written by the Woman in the High Garden