Chapter 1: The Exchange
“Bring forth the hostage!”
Two Robb Stark’s bannerman, under command of the Stark who sat upon his great warhorse, the King in the North and the eldest born of Eddard Ned Stark, took Jon by the arm, one on each side, and marched him forward from the rear of the lead company. In seeing to their task they met it with only grimness. Jon Snow was loved among all of his men, even as a bastard, and all the North mourned for his loss, as they marched him into the hands of the Dark Lord.
Amidst the parting throng, starks and northmen in hauberk and mail and steel clad, stepping aside and giving him respectful nods as he passed, Jon looked ahead to the war party gathered in on the opposite side of the vast tract of land on the clifftop beach outside of White Harbour.
It was here, directly south of Winterfell, on the very cusp of entering the North, that the Emperor had agreed to parley.
No-one knew exactly what convinced the demon lord and emperor of the Kings Landing, Rh’llor, who also possessed titles as The Undisputed, the Shadow and the Flame Ascendant, Master of All He Beheld, the Morning Star, the Lightbringer, and Master of Dragons to agree to expose himself and personally see to the attendance of the Parley, but if one considered things hard enough such a risky manoeuvre had its reasons.
The North was desired by the Demon Lord, for while he could not set foot within the borders of Winterfell, Winterfell and its surrounding kingdoms to the North held treasures much desired to the Emperor.
Treasures of the Old Gods, and the artefacts of the fabled leader of the Undead, the Night King.
Such secrets, hidden within the Weirwood trees and ancient ruins made by the First Men and the Children, that sparsely populated the North, were what the Emperor himself sought to possess with great zeal. His human agents, spies, thieves and assassins, have made many an attempt to steal into the North and extricate such treasures, but by some strange luck, none returned alive or successful in their tasks.
It was clear of course that Rh’llor did not respect the sanctity of the North. Such underhanded schemes were his modus operandi, for if Rh’llor or his demon forces could step within the North for a more sustained period of time than he was granted, without his powers weakening and becoming vulnerable, he would have taken the North years ago.
But the Magic of the Children and the Old Gods, and the protecting influence of the Three-Eyed Raven kept the Demon Lord at bay, but for how long would remain a question of time.
Because while Rh’llor could not nor did not want to invade the North, he did possess the means to annihilate it and any resistance that challenged him by his right hand. Only his desire for the treasures of the North, outweighing his sanguine appetite for destruction, stayed the wrath of his appointed Right Hand.
And The Right Hand of Rh’llor was also in attendance, sat on her destrier and looking out over the sea to the South with an indiscernible expression, since her head was covered in a three-pronged great helm with narrow eye slits and a pitted visor over her nose and face. A full covering helm, like the Master who stood on his cane right next to her.
The rest of her was sealed in an imposing set of pitch-black obsidian suit of armour, lobster plated with chainmail enforcing it underneath. From head to toe, nothing of her was uncovered. She was more of an armoured golem than a woman, a black wraith in her suit of armour, with pointed fluted and wing tipped pauldrons, pointed poleyns protecting her knees, sharpened couters for her elbows and thick soled sabaton boots. A cloak of black velvet fell from her shoulders and rested on the rump of her horse, joined by a silver chain around her neck. Yet Jon could also see that the edges of her armour were greyed and scuffed, evidence of intense battle, wear and tear, and yet still functional and well maintained.
Her Master, on the other hand, needed no horse to tower over men, and while he held a black cane, he did not hunch or wobble or stoop like an old man, but stood ram-rod tall, the grey shroud over his entire body suggesting a tall, gaunt shape. The shrouded demon lord with his head-concealing helm stood at an imposing eight-foot tall height.
His helm held narrow eye slits, but the visor was like the enlarged teeth of an enraged primate. Long and narrow flutes like the flashing white teeth of a wolf before it leapt at your throat decorated where the nose and mouth would be on the face of the demon lord. On both sides of his helm, ringed ridged bony horns of a ram were situated, its tips jutting out slightly away from the helm. The strange design like a goat or a sheep did evoke an unnatural, beast-like element to the Emperor, and through his eye slits, red gems shone and pierced into him with a knowing, dark-willed gaze. His knobbly cane with a handle that reached his thigh was painted with a dark ebony and oily shade, dark than even a starless night, which he held by his side in his right hand.
Jon made it a note not to look too long into the Emperor’s eyes. Dark whispers and dark words came from the tales of those who spent too long in the Emperor’s presence.
Amongst the Emperor and the Dark Lord, other figures of importance stood in attendance. The vampire mistress and attendant to Daenerys, Missandei, stood in her black cloak, her hands held in a formal ladylike stance. Jon could pick out the gold-flecks in her eyes even from here, and wondered too how strange a sight it was to see the beige-skinned Naathian vampire in broad daylight with her hood down. The day was cloudy, and whatever discomfort the vampire felt at the heavily filtered sun’s rays, she masked it with incredible poise.
Next to her, armed with a light metal vest, breeches and leggings, and a rounded flat dragonglass reinforced shield in his left hand and his valyrian steel spear was Grey Worm, Commander of the Dark Lord’s Fighting Unsullied forces. Even with his face-concealing helm, the finned helm of the Unsullied denoted his rank, and his dark eyes beheld great intensity and discipline in his unblinking gaze.
Trained from birth and made eunuchs at an early age, the fearless and lethal Unsullied, hailing from Astapori won many a battle against Robb and his united Northern front. It was only events of the past few months that forced both sides into a stalemate when the Greyjoys with their flying ships and lightning raids on key strategic locations came to the side of the Starks.
Such flying ships in great force, raining destruction down on their enemies with cannon fire and propelled by Aether Drives, ancient magical crystals discovered in underwater caves around the Iron Islands, proved more than a match for the Unsullied and the ranks of demon forces summoned by the Emperor. Only the dragons of the Dark Lord could match and surpass their raw destructive power.
For the moment, it seemed, only the dun-skinned Grey Worm and his army of slave-soldiers of various race, ‘liberated’ by the Dark Lord if the rumours were held to be true, made up the entirety of Rh’llor’s host. Perhaps his powers were already too drained to summon a host of vampyres or even a contingent of imps, sarcobuses and gendels. Even the lethal Sand Succubuses, heralding from Oberyn’s bastard seed from House Martell of Dorne to the far South, lethal assassins and warrior demons, were nowhere in sight.
Jon could count himself lucky that he hadn’t met them yet. The tales surrounding them were deeply disturbing, given how they supposedly operated in battle.
Yet those paled in comparison to when the Dark Lord drew her sword and marched into battle when her dragons were absent.
Or when the Emperor became personally involved.
Jon was marched to the left side of Robb’s dapple, and he looked up to his brother.
The finely groomed true born son of Ned Stark was almost his spitting image, save for a bushier beard, shorter cut hair and blue eyes instead of dark brown. In his belted suit of iron armour, garbed by his wolf skin cloak, he was everything Ned Stark no doubt hoped he would grow into. Robb looked down upon him, and Jon knew that he was doing his best to conceal the storm of emotions welling up inside him.
He didn’t want to do this. No one in the Stark Family wanted to do this.
But they had no choice.
Because unless this exchange happened, the North would never be safe from Rh’llor’s forces.
Robb nodded at him, and then, looked up and straightened his back on his dapple, to ensure that he would not look disheartened by his silent acknowledgement of a brother he would likely never see again.
“My Lord. Jon Snow, issue of Ned Stark and Ashara Dayne who is passed from this world. Delivered as requested…and promised.”
There was the faintest of creaks as the dark lord astride her destrier turned and met Jon’s eyes.
Within those eye slits, unlike the red hell coal of the Emperor’s eyes, Jon swore that bright, violet discs, twinkling starlight met his and widened.
But then he could not see much of her face, and so he broke the eye contact.
Movement to the left brought his gaze on to the Emperor, as his hand adjusted its hold on the top of his cane.
“Interesting…” The Demon Lord’s voice was hollow, grating. Wolf-like under its transparent honey laden inflected tone. Jon shivered at the sound and knew that he could not conceal it for the life of him.
“So this…is Ned Stark’s bastard boy. I am honoured to finally meet the Black Wolf of the North face to face. You honour us with your presence, Slayer of Ramsay Bolton, Slayer of Manse Rayder and Slayer of Karkaras, Wolfman of the Thenns…and of course, by allowing yourself to be given over to us as a hostage. Your reputation precedes you.”
Emperor Rh’llor…you’re shorter than I expected. Jon wanted to bite out, but instead bit his tongue.
He met his burning gaze and bowed in a simple bow. He caught sight of his simple homespun tunic and his breeches as he did, and cursed that he was not given his gambeson, his wolf armour, or even his sword Longclaw. The terms of the trade were quite severe to him, yet Jon was compelled by duty instilled in him from childhood to follow them through to the letter. Perhaps he could find a way to send a raven to Winterfell to arrange a drop-off of his sword, so that a Valyrian Steel weapon would be on his person should he be attacked or seek an opportunity to escape.
“My Lord.” He solemnly spoke.
“Hmm…” The demon lord’s claws on grey pale, skeletal flesh, clicked atop his black painted wooden cane as he contemplated his next words. “I see perhaps the resemblance to your late mother…but your mannerisms speak of your late father. It must have been quite a burden to know that while you were serving your time on the Wall, the Lannisters had deceived your father then struck his head off in Kings Landing. Outside of the Sept of Baelor, of all places.” His voice was devoid of any sympathy. Instead, he was merely commenting on the matter as if it were an object of gossip from a distant kingdom, far removed from his concerns, if he had any.
“And then like the savages they were, they stuck his head on a spike outside the Red Keep! I had it removed of course when I came to power. I imagine it relieved your family to no end to know that the Lannisters were stunningly and brutally eradicated in the space of one long night. Such a stunning victory would not have been possible without the aid of my Right Hand and her Fighting Unsullied. And her dragons too no doubt, limited as…the Dark Lord insisted they be used.”
His matter-of-factly speech was already beginning to rankle Jon, and his teeth met under his cheeks in a concealed grimace. Yet Jon replied with a well-practised and humble demeanour.
“It was a relief indeed to know that justice had been done, my Lord. House Stark thanks you for delivering my father’s head back to Winterfell.” He stoically replied, as polite as he could muster.
“All in good will.” The tall Demon Lord gestured dismissively with his free hand. “How better a way to begin the tentative steps of negotiation, then to deliver something precious back to their rightful owners.”
Jon could feel Robb stiffen at the blithe way in which Rh’llor spoke of their father’s head. Catelyn Stark passed away of heartbreak and closure the night she opened the casket to see her late husband’s head. She went to sleep and did not wake in the morning. Cold as she was to him, Jon had cherished her for her wisdom and her fire and the influence she had in instilling respect and the need to treat all women with respect and honour in her stoic upbringing of him, despite her emotional absence. He was Ned Stark’s son, but not hers, and so this caused a permanent rift that ached bitterly when Jon thought of her.
“I mean no disrespect…” The demon lord added with none of the sincerity to make it genuine. “Ned Stark was a…frustratingly good man. It was he in alliance with the Three-Eyed Raven who placed the wards of the Old Gods upon your lands to prevent my invasion to begin with. Dutiful and stoic. Had our duel ended differently, I would have laid claim to all of Westeros many a decade ago.” His grey thumb stroked the top of his nobbled cane.
The Demon Lord appeared to be possessed for a moment by a state of melancholy, as his red glowing eyes looked aside in pursuit of a memory that in his warped mind, he must have deemed sentimental.
Then as quick as madman’s mood, he snapped back and affixed Robb with a bright and disturbingly attentive stare.
“But on to the business at hand.”
Looking down, he tapped his cane a few times on the floor and made a small gesture of clearing his throat, his shroud like the wings of a grey hawk as he lifted his hand in an unnecessary display of putting his mouth to his visor.
“Ahem. So. My terms. I, Emperor Rh’llor, in good will of today’s exchange, will not seek to invade your lands or unleash my Dark Lord upon your forces and villages. I will make no efforts to covertly infiltrate, assassinate or cause any form of havoc or disruption within the kingdom of Winterfell or its surrounding houses. In return, you will grant me a hostage of my choosing and the right for my inquisitors to seek out and obtain three relics of the Night’s King and his sorceress wife.”
There was a murmur of disapproval amongst the Northmen and Robb silenced them with a glare, though his stony eyes were wide with surprise and heated anger.
“You promised that only one relic would be found, The Barrow. The ancient burial temple of the Northmen, built by the wife of the Night King in Brandon’s Gift just south of the Wall. Why has it now grown to three?” The King in the North angrily demanded.
“I was to give you a hostage of my own blood and allow you to seek out one relic of the Night’s King, unbarred and unhindered by my men. Any further excursions north of the neck would be in violation of our original terms, which we both mutually agreed would be beneficial for both our lands. Your dragons would not destroy the North, and the Greyjoys would not bomb Kings Landing into rubble. That was the term outlined, in this letter here!”
Robb reached into his belt, and procured from his left side a roll of paper, its red wax seal broken.
“Right here, in this letter. Written in ink, and agreed in good faith-”
Rh’llor’s left hand lifted and gave a casual gesture.
Robb cursed and opened his hand as the scroll caught fire, red and blazing, and he threw the burning paper up as the fire devoured the paper and burnt into fine ash.
The ash fell on Robb’s lap, and his eyes were fierce and savage as they locked on to the Emperor’s.
His hand went to his sword and he was drawing it from his hip. He would have threatened the Emperor had Jon not reached up and grabbed his left hand. There was a commotion of steel and iron as the men bustled and made to draw their own weapons.
Grey Worm and the Unsullied, moving as one, lifted their shields and primed their spears in a two-noted kru-krang of two-hundred strong elite warriors ready to kill at the drop of a hat.
Robb’s eyes were alive with steel and fury, but then his composure returned to him at Jon’s insistent gaze and his hold on his vambrace. Robb swallowed his hurt pride and sheathed his sword. He then lifted his right hand in an open palm gesture.
The Northmen who were drawing their weapons reluctantly sheathed their swords and set down their pikes.
Jon looked up to see-
The Dark Lord, raising her right hand in a similar gesture to Robb’s. Grey Worm looked up at the Dark Lord, then wordlessly resumed his original stance, stood straight and still with his spear propped up on the ground with his shield held in front of him.
The Unsullied followed suit.
Like clockwork…their discipline is incredible… Jon admired as he stepped away slowly from Robb. And they appear to answer to Grey Worm and the Dark Lord alone…
With a creak and scrape of metal, the dark lord’s hand resumed its place holding the reins of her destrier, a huge black and wide hoofed beast with a white stripe on its forehead and brow down to its pink muzzle where it champed at the bit.
“Pardon the theatrics.” The demon lord insincerely apologised. “But words are only wind, and two more relics hunts, two more…’excursions’, parties consisting of only my inquisitors and a detachment of my best soldiers, would hardly be considered an invasion to your precious Northern Lands, would it? Or am I misunderstanding humans again?”
The Demon Lord made a gesture of rubbing his horned helm with his skeletal, deathly left hand.
“Of course, the last time I misunderstood a human, every lord, servant and prisoner in the Red Keep was drawn and quartered and strung up by their intestines for all the smallfolk to see, as a consequence for any who sought to steal what was rightfully mine from me. They sought to assassinate me then believed that, under negotiations, or rather, begging for their lives, they would escape their due punishment. Tell me, if one pulls a dragon’s tail, does one expect to keep their life when it turns around to rip them in half?”
Jon heard the air hotly escape from Robb’s nose, slow and simmering in anger as he rode a step forward on his dapple.
“Keep your threats, my Lord. Remember the lands and the people you face. You’ll have to forgive my anger at the altering of the deal, but it seems that this exchange stands to worsen for us and favour your side with every term laid out. You are taking more than we have been given, and the North Remembers.”
“Are your lives and freedom and the safety of your children not worth the small prices you must concede to ensure their survival? Or are they worth less than your pride?” The honeyed wolf snarled with a snide tone in his voice.
Robb would not be brow-beaten.
“I’ll pay the prices if it means the safety of my lands. As King in the North it is my duty to seek out the best solution that benefits and best protects my people, no matter how great the price. Your changing of the deal however certainly begs the question; Is your word Iron, my Lord?” Robb challenged.
Jon’s heart stopped. King in the North or not, one does not simply challenge the Emperor on their integrity or lack of it. Lacking of a soul did not mean a lack of pride of their own, or an excuse to slaughter someone like sheep at any slight, no matter how real or imagined it was.
The Demon Lord cocked his head slightly and shrugged his bony shoulders.
“I suppose it is. Almost as iron as yours, Young Wolf. Tell me, how fares Talisa Stark?”
At that name, Jon saw Robb stiffen at the words. Talisa was safe and under Sansa’s protection in the North, but to be reminded that the Demon Lord knew of her existence…
“I imagine without my intervention at the Twins, you would have come to sorely regret following your heart and spitting in Walder Frey’s face.”
The Red Wedding would have been called as such for the rumoured plan by Walder Frey and Roose Bolton to butcher the Starks and their bannermen at the wedding of Edmure Tully and Roslin Frey. The alternate wedding would have been recompense for Robb refusing the Lord of the Twin’s suit and marrying the Volantis Healer, much to Catelyn Stark’s disapproval.
Oh but it was a Red Wedding alright. Except that the Starks, warned by Arya Stark riding northwards from Kings Landing with the Hound, were barely able to escape the halls before a horde of vampyres, ape-like and carapace covered demons, built like flightless bats with black eyes and piercing fangs, descended upon the Boltons and the Freys and ripped them to shreds. The Red Slaughter it became known as. No man, woman or child or animal that was not affiliated with the Starks survived that horrible night in which the time of celebration became a demon feeding frenzy.
“That being said, he would have had you butchered nonetheless as his loyalty was bought by the coin of Tywin Lannister. An admirable man. The worthiest if not the greatest man of the House of the Golden Lion. I would have loved to have met him and probed that sharp, practical mind of his. What a valuable asset he would have been to my forces.” The emperor mused to himself yet again.
He’s wasting time. Hoping to keep Robb on edge and goad him into making a mistake by intentionally side-tracking his conversations…
But Robb’s stoicism held, and he gave no indication that he was about to snap in anger and reach for his sword again. Jon relaxed somewhat at his hot-headed brother exercising control in this, the most delicate of situations, where one wrong move or two, it seemed in this case, would result in death.
“So…” Robb spoke in his cool northern brogue. “If we are in agreement, My Lord, then we may conclude the exchange, and part company on good terms.
The Emperor’s eyes fixed on Jon’s, and Jon could not help but feel the sensation of something close behind him, his hackles raising, hairs tingling as something seemed to just lean in close to the back of his neck.
Then it was gone, and Jon tried very desperately to dismiss the sensation as another trick by the Emperor as the Demon Lord spoke.
“As a good a term as any. Your lands will remain untouched, and your brother will remain in my charge’s company, alive and unspoilt. On my word as Emperor, I will respect the sovereignty of the land on which I cannot dwell in. The North will remain yours, provided you do not renege on your agreements and devise some other clever scheme to invade Kings Landing, under the poorly abused notion of heroic rebellion. As if such a concept ever existed.”
“Which charge of yours is to take custody of my brother?” Robb asked, and Jon knew that such a question was unnecessary. Merely the expression of concern for his welfare. Nevertheless his heart warmed at his older brother’s concern.
“Why…” The Emperor grandiosely gestured with a raise of his shrouded arm like the wing of bat towards the Dark Lord on her destrier. “The Dark Lord’s of course. T’was her who but persuaded me to…entertain this petty show of hand-overs and posturing to begin with, and requested that none other than the bastard issue be placed in her care.”
He looked to her, and Jon saw that the Dark Lord was uncomfortable. She radiated it in her stiff composure and the avoidance of the Emperor’s eyes.
“An odd one but a powerful asset, especially with her command of three full grown dragons. She used to steal slaves in the free cities yet allowed them to serve her freely or leave her at their choosing.
Of their own choosing? Jon wondered. That sounds nothing like the Dark Lord who burned down the armies of Rh’llor’s enemies…but then reports had been mixed. The Dark Lord rode with three dragons, and the fourth… the fourth that was Rh’llor’s…the stories surrounding that one…
“She ruled the cities of Meereen, Yunkai and Astapor under a…peaceful rule, before she sought me out in the ruins of Old Valyria. ‘The Liberator Queen’, they called her, in spite of how gruesomely she dealt with the slavers and the Wise Masters. Caused quite a bit of an uproar once the slaves like sheep milled around without their hounds to herd them but…” He shrugged again to himself. “…who am I to care? So many proved to be valuable sacrifices to summon my demon army, once she agreed to join her power with mine in exchange for a...personal deal…”
Jon heard something, a small noise, metal clenching, leather rasping softly, tightening.
He looked and saw the Dark Lord’s hands gripping the reins tightly. He wondered if the hands underneath were white-knuckled in their clenching grip.
Something…about what he said, and her reaction…
There was more to this horrifying story than meets the eye…
Rh’llor’s horned helm moved only a fraction in her direction, and his red orbs appeared to narrow as if he was squinting, trying to discern…
But then he turned back.
“But I assure you, The Dark Lord will not dishonour our agreement, given that it was hers to begin with. A failure on her part is a failure on mine, and for both our sakes, I never fail. Now then.”
He lifted his free hand, and with two fingers, he beckoned Jon hither.
“Come along, Jon Snow. I have a long day of consolidating my power, intimidating nobles and executing rebels. The Dark Lord’s chainmail will likely need scourging from the salt of this cold wasteland beach.”
Jon gritted his teeth. So, he was to be treated like a servant then, not a ward. He was to be the slave of the Dark Lord and be at her beck and call, the boot licker of a monster and city burner.
Jon felt himself admit defeat, and his pride as a man of the North, a son of Ned Stark, a hero, diminished. This is the small price we must all pay to live in this age. What I must pay.
He looked up to Robb and nodded, a small smile on his lips.
For my family I would give anything to keep them safe.
He turned and began to walk towards the destrier, holding the armoured Dark Lord.
The steps he took were the hardest he had ever had to do.
One step more…And I leave behind my home, my comfort and all I have ever known.
He looked up at the chest of the dark lord, and saw, ingrained, the three headed dragon of House Targaryen, forged in steel on her breastplate.
Now I walk from my pack of wolves and safety into the clutches of the dragon.
He closed his eyes and cast down his gaze.
For my family I would give anything-
“JOOONNN!!!” A young female voice called out. A girl’s. Could it be.
“Someone stop her! Restrain her!”
“Seven hells, how’d she sneak past the guard-”
Jon turned around-
And a mousy, short haired brunette girl in a blue winter rose noble woman’s dress that fell to her ankles, embroidered at the shoulders and the sleeves of howling wolves and roses, raised forward and clutched him hard in a fierce desperate hug.
“Don’t go…” The girl begged.
It was his youngest sister, Arya Stark. Arya had now risked open war by breaking from the company, snuck past the bannermen and ran into the threshold between King and Emperor to try and stop Jon.
“Arya…” Jon placed his hands on her shoudlers, but he leant his head against her shoulder. “You have to go back. You have to go back. You’ll be in danger if you don’t leave.”
“Well now, this is quite the development. I certainly hope I’m not due any more surprises after today. I don’t think my shrivelled heart can take it.” The demon lord wryly intimated, and Jon’s heart was frozen in fear as he further realised how much danger Arya was in.
Jon broke the hug and forced his younger sister, who had a full, circular face with brunette hair falling to her neck and wide expressive brown eyes, pleading up at him. He bent his knees so that he was at eye level with.
“Arya look at me. I have to go. It has to be me.” He stated as Arya lowered her head and shook it. “Listen to me! Robb is King in the North and he and I have agreed to do this so that our lands are kept safe.”
Arya sniffled and shook her head. “You can’t go. You’ll die. You shouldn’t go with them!”
She then made matters worst.
She turned and looked up at the demon lord.
“Take me! I am trained in the art of the Faceless men and in water dancing. You want a spy? You saw me sneak past the guards now, didn’t you?” She tried to plead her case desperately. “You want someone who knows the North and how to find your relics? Take me! I’m more useful and valuable a hostage! Take me!”
The Emperor regarded her for one moment of consideration, but then looked aside.
“Awfully tempting…but you’d be far too slippery…and your devotion as clearly indicated would be quite the obstacle, should circumstance change and I need a certain…northern Lord, assassinated…”
“Is that a threat, my lord?” Robb spoke.
“A promise.” Rh’llor corrected. “Should our, amiable relationship deteriorate and my hostage decides he no longer wishes to massage my Dark Lord’s feet, you would do well to sleep with one eye open. And I would rather send someone who you wouldn’t know intimately to kill you, as amusing as it would be to have your own sister behead you.”
At his dry chuckle, and at Arya’s reddening face becoming a snarl, and Robb’s head lowering like a bull, his face darkening, Jon looked to the guards behind Robb and held Arya firmly by the shoulders.
“Get her behind the lines. Now!”
They hurried with the rustle of mail and plate clanging and took Arya in her blue dress like the arms, and Jon realised that Arya was wearing none other than Aunt Lyanna Stark’s dress.
Then Arya locked eyes with the Emperor behind him with murder in her eyes.
“If you hurt him, I’ll hunt you down and shove Needle down your fucking throat!” Arya screamed at them. At Rh’llor? At the Dark Lord?
Either way, her words now stood to make things much worse and derail the whole damn negotiation
“How adorable…” Rh’llor commented, but Jon’s ears did not deceive him in detecting the darker edge to that voice. One did not simply threaten the Emperor that was the Lightbringer so brashly either.
Jon had to salvage this quickly.
“Arya!” He turned and called out to her.
Arya kicked and struggled against the arms of the guards, but at Jon’s pleading stare, her fighting subsided.
“Jon…” She whimpered.
“You look beautiful in Aunt Lyanna’s dress. She’d be proud of you.” Jon assured her with a nod. “I’m proud of you. You make Father proud and protect Robb now, you hear me? Keep an eye on Sansa and make sure Rickon behaves, alright?”
Arya only sobbed and broke out of the guard’s hold to storm away to the back of the company.
Jon panted with relief, and looked up at Robb, who had watched Arya go. Then their eyes met.
Jon put forward one message in his glare.
Do not fuck this up. I’ll be ok. Do not fuck this up.
And with that he turned and looked up at-
-Seven fucking hells, being so close now to Rh’llor, his tall, robed presence like a wraith towered over him and those red glowing eyes intently gazing into him.
“There will be no need to send assassins, and the North will honour the terms of the treaty.” Jon spoke, raising a hand in a plea for forbearance.
“Please accept my apology on my sister’s behalf. She is hot-headed and wolfish like her aunt before her. I will go quietly and I will not rebel. I will not break my word. On my honour as a son of Ned Stark, and on his honour, I will not break my word.”
The Emperor appeared to scrutinise him as he leant forward on his cane, and his eyes, beads of flaming rubies, looked into him.
Jon did not like the closeness he felt, pressing into him, as though claws were reaching out and taking hold of his very soul. He felt for a moment that he could not breathe in the choking aura of the demon lord.
Then Rh’llor snapped out of his gaze and looked to Robb again.
“Well, if that’s settled, I will be on my way. Do keep an eye on the skies, you can expect a raven or…well…something resembling a bird in your rookery. Assuming it doesn’t eat your ravens, it will deliver a day in which you can expect our inquisitors and plan accordingly to ensure their hunt goes uninterrupted.”
He turned with a sweep of his shrouded, form-concealing cape.
Yet before he left, he turned and out of the corner of his eye, he spoke.
“I’m sure I don’t need to remind you of what should happen if anything undue befalls my inquisitors while they are in your lands…”
Robb was nodding behind him as Jon turned to look.
“You have my word, My Lord.”
The Demon Lord turned and began to walk towards the company of the Unsullied.
Jon looked away, somehow unable to shake the feeling he was still being watched, and looked up at the Dark Lord seated on her horse.
She was looking back down at him, and he met her eyes evenly. Although her armour did a good job of protecting her, he could still see the curves and edges about her profile that told him that this was a well-built woman with a curved feminine shape to her knightly profile. Her age was indeterminable, but Jon knew that he would be slightly taller by a few inches than the Dark Lord when she dismounted.
Yet immediately at thoughts of her profile, he began to wonder what kind of body and face lay beneath her imposing suit of armour, and he looked away.
“The fetters on his wrists, if you would be so kind, Blackjaw.”
The sound of heavy footsteps from his left and the voice of the Emperor giving his dismissive command made him look up.
A black maned werewolf, strong and tall and muscular of frame, opened his jaws and snarled down at him. He looked to be just over six feet yet wider in frame and strong enough to rip a bear apart with his teeth and inch long claws.
Jon’s soul nearly left his body at the closeness of the great-jawed were being. He had faced down a Thenn who turned into a Werewolf during the Wildling attack on the Wall, but he was not as big or as imposing as the black-maned monstrosity before him. That one was fast and lean, and lanky in build. It got in two slashes before Jon sliced his skull in twain with Longclaw.
Then he saw the iron cuffs joined by a small chain in the centre, held in his clawed hands.
“Your arms, bastard runt.” The werewolf snarled in his deep rumbling voice.
Begrudgingly, Jon lifted his arms, and felt the familiar claustrophobic sensation of the vambrace designed chains folding over his wrists and forearms.
“Hmm, his legs as well, unless you want some sport should he decide to run off…” The Emperor spoke again, sounding fatigued with it all like an old man.
“I will fetch the leg cuffs, milord.” The werewolf bit out, his golden and red eyes not leaving Jon’s, before he snarled and went to a wooden crate next to a group of unsullied.
Great…Jon thought to himself…just fucking great.
He looked behind him. Robb was still there on his dapple, and behind him, Arya’s face from the midst of the men looked at him with concern and anxiety.
He looked up at the Dark Lord, not knowing why he felt the need.
She was still staring down at him.
Jon was about to ask if there was something about him that troubled her Ladyship, when a muffled boom sounded in the sky.
Everyone looked up.
Jon looked up into the cloudy skies, as another unmistakeable sound rung out in the air.
The boom of an Aether powered ship engine.
Jon looked up at the sky as one more, two more, four more in quick succession occurred. And dark shapes began to emerge from the skies.
Then six more followed in quick succession.
“Well now...” Jon heard the Emperor’s voice darkly remark behind him.
He looked at Robb.
Did Robb arrange for the Greyjoy fleet to ambush The Emperor of Kings Landing during a hostage handover?
Was this his plan all along.
Jon would not deny that he felt a great deal of relief at the idea that he would be rescued from servitude at the Right Hand of Rh’llor just when all hope seemed lost. But he also felt horror as well. If this went horribly wrong, no one would be walking out of White Harbour alive. If this was one of Robb’s plans, this was his ballsiest one yet.
But Robb’s eyes were wide and his brow furrowed in confusion. At his perplexed face compounded by a sense of mounting fear on his face, Jon knew then and there that, in addition that Robb couldn’t act or lie to save his life, that his brother had not planned to have their Greyjoy allies come to their rescue and blast Rh’llor to Kingdom come.
Robb looked down and bravely met the Emperor’s eye.
“My Lord, I did not order the Greyjoy Fleet to come to this meeting. On my word I did not! Yara Greyjoy came of her own free will. I know not why her ships darken the skies.”
Jon looked to Rh’lllor, who was coolly moving his helm to regard his brother.
There was a moment of deathly silence amidst the anxious murmurs of the Northmen. The Unsullied true to their profession said nothing and remained still as statues. Then the Emperor spoke.
“Oh but of course! I’m sure the Queen of the IronBorn Fleet simply sought to swing by with twenty-” He looked up at the sound of more booms peppering the sky. “-Thirty skyships at this time and place for a routine military exercise. Or perhaps they came here to oversee our little exchange because they felt left out! How inconsiderate of you.” He chided to Robb with a mocking edge to his hollow voice.
“I have no part in them being here, on my honour as a Stark I swear it-” Robb desperately tried to assuage him.
“No part? Rh’llor interrupted. “Well that is an interesting development. Because as King in the North, are you not aware of all of your allied force’s movements?”
A dry, rasping chuckle echoed from his helm, and Jon’s spine shivered at how hollow the sound was from his helm. Robb looked away, cheeks reddening and his face set in a furious expression as he looked up at the ships, following something moving. Jon looked up and caught it too.
A schooner was breaking away from the company of long ships and war galleys. Despite the power of the Aether Engines, they still needed sails and rudders to stir and guide the ships through the skies, and take advantage of strong winds.
But why here and now? What do you hope to gain, Yara? Why now?
The schooner drew closer, and it trailed a line of icy blue through the cloudy sky as it drew closer to the cliffs of White Harbour. The smaller ship, with one main sail, turned and swung to present the port side. The hoarse rumble of the engine subsided, and one of the crew men lifted and cast down an anchor, flying through the air to bury into the grassy turf of the cliff. It held, and the ship descended further as a gangplank with ridges to serve as rudimentary steps was lengthened and lowered from the deck.
Amidst the bustle of men from the ship, their captain and queen, Yara Greyjoy, stepped forth and sauntered down to land. Jon marked the axes on her hips, one on both sides, and as she reached down and drew her strong oaken carved axes from her hips, Jon saw the handle of a holster dirk poking out behind her left hip. With wind-swept brunette air, a smug and confident look on her hardened boyish face, Yara’s smirking expression turned serious the closer she got to the Emperor and Jon.
More men followed suit, all of them dressed in boiled and reinforced leather and iron vests. Yara too, was garbed in similar attire, and her breastplate held the image of the squid-like Kraken, the sigil of House Greyjoy. All of them were armed with axe, mace and sword.
The Unsullied moved at once when Yara swaggered up. Grey Worm stepped forth as did a company of four other spearmen and assumed a small phalanx posture, with their shields protecting their allies to the left in formation. Their spears jutted out like barbs on a lizard-lion’s tail.
The rest of the fighting Unsullied host took up their phalanx stance, and remained motionless.
The Dark Lord eyed the Ironborn queen with morbid intensity, but Yara raised an eyebrow and made a kiss at the mounted warrior before stopping in front of Grey Worm and his best men.
Her hands held her axes tightly, and Jon knew she was ready for a fight.
She turned her gaze past the Unsullied and towards the Emperor.
Jon looked to see that the boldness of the Greyjoy had the Emperor’s full attention, for he stood with both hands on his cane, placed in front of him. The helm gave Jon no clue as to his expression, but judging by his stance, he appeared to be relaxed. Amused even.
Completely confident of the situation he was in and careless to the danger presented by the fleet to his forces.
“Yara Greyjoy. Queen of the Iron Islands and Captain of the Ironborn Fleet.” Rh’llor greeted the Ironborn Captain. “Now this is a pleasant surprise. Well...” He directed a glance at Robb on his dapple “…for one of us anyway.”
Because he knew they were coming. Jon realised. And on that thought, he realised that things were not going to end well here.
Not well at all…
Chapter 2: Aggressive Negotiations
When Yara Greyjoy defies Robb Stark's commands and intervenes in the exchange, she risks bringing down the wrath of the demon lord emperor himself on the lands of the North. Yet when Yara uses a surprise weapon, the odds appear to favour the Greyjoys, and Jon's life is apparently saved...
Strong threat, violence and dark references. Very dark and messed up stuff in this chapter, including threats of harm on female characters.
Let me know what you all think!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Jon could only stand by and watch, but if shit was about to hit the astrolabe, Robb and Arya had to get out of here as fast as they could.
Before Yara provoked The Emperor or the Dark Lord into all out battle, and the ships started raining fire from their lofty perch in the clouds above.
Yara smirked and spoke.
“Your Royal Highness, who’d have thought anything would get past you, eh, old goat?” She casually addressed the Demon Lord in her rough Pyke brogue, and Jon felt himself cringe inside at the way too formal, way too disrespectful air that she adopted towards the Emperor. “Is there anything you don’t know?”
“Less than you hope.” The Emperor replied.
With her tongue running over her teeth, the unintimidated Yara then rolled her shoulders forward slowly.
“Well, if you know so much, perhaps you would have known that I would ignore Wolfboy’s summons and come of my own accord. The little trade-off stands nought to benefit us Ironborn, not when we sail more than we walk and keep to the Iron Islands…but when I heard that the Emperor himself would be attending, well…” Yara left the implication up in the air for a moment, and then spoke. “It just seemed too good an opportunity to pass.”
She spun her axes in her fingers, a look of steely intent eyes.
“And to rid the lands of your evil for the rest of time.”
The Emperor bent his horned helm down, and began to chuckle. His shoulders shook, making his shroud ripple over him like a wraith’s floating cloak, and then he lifted his head back as his chuckle increased in loudness and severity.
His helm dipped to meet the Ironborn’s eyes.
“I applaud your ruthlessness, Yara Greyjoy. You have taken full advantage of your army’s superior mobility and chosen an apt moment to ambush me, right here in this little delegation. And…potentially kill me.” The Emperor added on a side note.
“I haven’t quite limbered up since my last massacre at the ruins of Harrenhal. I swear the Brotherhood without Banners could have made efforts to be less conspicuous. Choosing the same place where Aegon the Tyrant and his sister wives cooked Harren The Black his own fortress is like goading lightning to strike you twice when jogging in a field wearing plate armour. Ludicrous and absurd. But…”
The Emperor tilted his head one side, where a muffled crack was heard, and then the other side that sounded like twigs snapping.
“It would certainly colour my afternoon to stain the grass with your soldier’s blood. As for you, a woman of good stock like yourself might serve me well as a court fool for my nobles to have their fun with. Or be a plaything for my imps. Their usual stock is running dry as of late after all…”
You fucking monster…
“That’s funny.” Yara replied without missing a beat. “I was looking for something to hang up my cloak. Reckon those horns of yours will do nicely on my ship. Along with your head to use for target practice.”
“Mount my head on a wall and you’ll never sleep for the rest of your life.” The Emperor countered.
“Because I’d feel guilty?” Yara mocked back.
“Because you’ll be clawing your own eyes out in less than a month. My head does tend to come with some…surplus quirks.”
Yara did not break eye contact.
“Like your Man of Shadows?”
The only sound that followed came from the helmet of the Dark Lord as she turned her head to look at the Emperor to gauge his reaction.
His was only to narrow his eyes at the unflappable Ironborn Queen before him.
“Oh yeah, I know about that demon ghoul you have. Your Shadow. I have it from a reliable source that the ghoul you use to paralyse your victims in fear is in fact an aspect of your unholy soul. Would I be correct in that observation?”
“From a certain point of view.” The Emperor tacitly replied.
“And if I were to find a way to kill it, you too would become vulnerable. Because- and I’m really good at wagering- the Man of Shadows is your actual soul, isn’t it?”
Jon risked another glance at the Emperor, his emotions indiscernible save for a noticeable tightening of his grip on the cane.
“You are more than welcome to entertain such a bold theory…and its consequences…” The Emperor’s words were polite, but the civil tone that accompanied it was gone. Only his acerbic tongue remained.
“I have no fear of you, you withered old goat mother.” Yara spat back, and Jon felt something change in the air, the smell of lightning before it struck, making the air stink of ozone, emanating from the Emperor.
“Because I have something that’s gonna help me make sure you never escape to harm Westeros and her people ever again.” Yara declared.
She turned to the schooner.
“Bring down the prisoner!”
“Well, prick the septa’s rump with a pitchfork, another one.” The Emperor commented, with none of the relish to disguise his sarcasm.
All parties looked up, and Jon’s heart caught in his throat.
Marched down the ramp, wearing a mangy tattered sackcloth and breeches, with one patch tied over his short haired head to cover his left eye, his beard and moustache overgrown, matted and discoloured, and lolling his head about in fatigue, Euron Greyjoy, bound in chains around his legs by his ankles and his wrists, joined his nephew on the clifftops.
As he was marched closer, Jon’s eyes caught the gruesome sight of dried blood, and when his mouth seemed to move but couldn’t, Jon caught the reason why.
His lips had been sown shut. Black leather thread had been pierced and threaded bloodily through his lips. A grievous, extreme punishment by any means.
“So you have abandoned your abduction of salt wives to abducting sorcerers now? And who do I see in fetters before me but Euron Crow’s Eye. The day grows more interesting by the second.”
Jon looked to see the Emperor examining the ragged prisoner from where he stood.
“I wasn’t aware this would be a little family get-together. And I see you muzzled your dog. Afraid that the Crow’s Eye would put a curse on you like an old witch?”
“Aye, that I did. I don’t need his mouth to utter spells to deal with you.” Yara turned and replied back. “That, and…he’s a cunt who killed my father, raped his younger brother and my uncle Aeron when he was a child and became a sorcerer of the occult that nearly destroyed the entirety of my homeland in his dark magic. He learnt his powers from travelling to various places around the known world and is the most dangerous necromancer to ever live. So yeah, I took my chances. And I’m gonna use him to destroy you.”
Rh’llor appeared intrigued.
“A man of such vile intent and deed… and he only attempted to destroy one island. His lack of ambition insults me.”
“If it adds to your injury, I’m all the happier for it.” Yara turned to the Emperor.
There was a thick and heavy silence in the air, as the Ironborn Queen locked eyes with the Emperor. Neither broke their eye contact, or blinked.
The tension began to build, and Jon could feel it in his bones. Yara wasn’t backing down, and Rh’llor would not let the slights he had just been dealt go unpunished.
Jon felt he had to get out of here. No…forget that. He was already dead, and if Rh’llor survived and he escaped, Winterfell would be doomed. Robb and Arya and his men had to leave this place right now.
“Lady Yara!” Robb’s voice called out. Jon looked to his right to see that his brother was absolutely red-faced and livid “I order you as King in the North to stand down, and let the exchange continue. Leave now with your prisoner, and I will forget the insult you just made to my authority and to our alliance!”
Yara said nothing.
“Do you hear me!” Robb bellowed. “Do you have any idea what you will unleash on our homes if your suicidal plan doesn’t work! Think of our homes! Our families! If Rh’llor escapes-”
“Keep your breeches on, King in the North. For such a hard lad, you sure like to get them in a twist.” Yara spoke, turning her head but still staring down the fiery gaze of the Emperor. Behind her, her men laughed, as did the men on the floating schooner in ribald and bawdy fashion.
Euron however, was eyeing the dark lord with something akin to fascination in his eye. Intrigue perhaps. A desperate fascination?
Something in the way that eye looked upon the Emperor spoke of a crafty, devious hunger, that only a wily man would show when looking on something that would greatly benefit his fortune.
Jon found himself looking to the Dark Lord.
Her helm was turned directly at the Crow’s Eye, and there was something akin to anger, an electric, burning anger, welling up and radiating out like a dragon, its golden eyes glowing with fire and hatred.
Jon knew not however how he could detect such emotion from one so obscured.
It’s like I can read her very thoughts from her stance alone…
“I hear your Dark Lord’s quite a beauty under that helm. Maybe after I kill you, I’ll show her how a proper queen treats her subjects. Unlike you.” Yara mocked pointedely at the Emperor, followed by another bout of raucous laughter.
Someone within the Northmen’s ranks fainted, and there was a commotion and the rattle of plated armour as his mates tried to stir him and douse his head with water.
Assuming she doesn’t behead you first!
Crazy bloody woman. She’s gonna get us all killed! Jon thought to himself in panic.
“Yes, yes, you’ve put on quite the show.” Rh’llor’s hollow growl brought Jon’s nightmares to reality as he clearly decided that enough was enough.
“Once again, Yara, I praise you for your lack of fear. A certain, sure-fire means to maintain the high morale of your marauders.”
He then slowly lifted his cane and moved it so that only his right hand held, opening his arms up with his left hand by his left side.
“But fear is a gift you sorely neglect. It is a reminder of your frailty against powers beyond your control or comprehension. As you claim to be a hero-without-fear, it seems only prudent of me to remind you of its value that you should have recognised. Retrospectively of course.”
Jon heard the leather creak from gloves and hands tightening on the leather strapped handles of axes and swords.
Yara’s hands remained loose on their grip however and Jon knew that Yara intended to throw her axes. She held off, evidently waiting for something.
“Emperor Rh’llor, I offer this one and only chance for you and your forces to leave the Lands of Westeros and go back to your smoking ruin of Valyria. Otherwise, I will destroy you, right here. Right now.” Yara threatened the Emperor.
We are so fucked.
Jon looked to Robb, and nearly jolted in surprise at the urgency of his gaze. He then tilted his head back to his left in a subtle, hithering motion.
He was trying to signal him to come back. Break from the ranks and run back into his welcoming company. Be free of Rh’llor and the grip of the Dark Lord.
No…no Robb I can’t. I can’t, much as I want to. As much as Rickon, Sansa and Arya need me with Father and Catelyn gone…
I have to stay. Whatever happens. To keep you all safe.
Jon could only shake his head.
And then, he wordlessly mouthed one word.
Go now. Turn around and go. Rh’llor has his hostage. There’s no reason for you to stay here! Go or you’ll all be killed!
Because this is about to turn into an all-out war. Rh’llor and Daenerys will destroy everything in their path and if you come to Yara’s aid…
I can’t lose more of my family to this madness.
“And rule over what, stone men and my red priests offering tribute and virgins? I won’t lack for company certainly, but I think I prefer the Iron Throne and my sycophantic nobles, thank you very much.” Rh’llor’s reply was a gravelly snarl. He didn’t boast or threaten grandiosely this time. Instead the anger in his voice promised imminent pain and torment on his foe.
He’s wary with his words, lest he end up eating them… Jon deduced.
Which means…Rh’llor has no idea what else Yara has up her sleeves…
“Then you leave me no choice.” Yara spoke. Jon prepared to turn away from the potential sight of the Ironborn having the skin from her face torn off, but then she spun and shouted at Euron.
A shimmer of air moved behind the bound sorcerer. It fell to reveal a shrouded Ironborn warrior, dirty grey cloak covering his shoulders as his leather sleeved arm lifted and threw a small grey object. It sailed through the air, the Dark Lord turned and threw her hand forward towards Jon. Something punched him in the chest and he flew back, there was shouting on the northmen, the ball exploded just as Rh’llor lifted his left hand, crackling with red lightning-
What- what the hell. She lifted her hand and I was…flying…
And a green cloud of powder fell from the ball and rained over the Emperor.
Jon looked up, his head ringing from where it struck the ground, and saw the Emperor swaying on his feet as the green cloud enveloped him.
His red eyes widened. He looked to his left hand as a sizzling sound was heard, and Jon gasped in shock as the flesh on it began to melt. Then a hideous, hacking, rasping noise came from the demon lord’s throat.
Black ichor fell spattering from under his helm, bleeding through his teeth-like visor. He lurched forward, tottering on his legs, and then, collapsed and fell forward on to his knees. He was coughing horribly, his wet rasps echoed within that horned helm of his.
In the seconds that followed, all the Unsullied, Missandei, and even the Dark Lord backed away in horror. Their horror at seeing their Emperor being brought to his knees so quickly seemed to quell any instinct in them to fight.
Like fear ruled them more than loyalty did. Fear kept them in line. Fear was the only thing keeping them obedient to the Emperor, and once he was weakened.
Jon crawled further back, lest he breath in those toxic fumes assailing the Emperor, but quickly as they appeared, they vanished, seemingly drawn into the body of the Demon lord as he lay on his hands and knees, coughing and hacking up more black blood.
With a desperate wheeze, he looked up with baleful red eyes at the Greyjoy who felled him.
Yara took that as her cue to explain.
“I hid one of my lads under a scuttlefish shroud and behind my uncle’s back, knowing that his magical aura would mask anyone else hiding behind him. And I see it worked like a charm.”
She stepped forward and sank on one knee, gloating already over her fallen opponent.
“That nasty green stuff you just breathed in, that gas that just absorbed itself into your system. Powdered Manticore Venom. Wasn’t cheap or easy to find, but we had the means of locating it, and a…semi-willing sorcerer who could teach us the secrets on how to convert a liquid venom into a powdered ball of air.”
Rh’llor could only snarl and then duck his head to cough even more. The huge soaking pool of blood beneath him stank something awful, of pungent sulphur and blood.
“You’re going to die. Rh’llor.” Yara bluntly stated. “Once that’s melted your skin, that shit’s gonna boil your blood then make your lungs pop and bleed inside your chest. Then it’ll attack your nervous and digestive system and make you shit yourself, break your own teeth from biting too hard from the intense agony, and then shit yourself even more. We added some drops of tears of lys and pinch of the Strangler as well for good measure. Which, needless to say is less than what a monster like you deserves, I would say.”
She then looked up at the Unsullied troops and then up at the rasping Dark Lord, who appeared to recover her composure and stare down at the kneeling Greyjoy and the coughing Emperor. Yet neither she, or Missandei, or Grey Worm made any move to avenge their fallen master.
It was like they were just…anxiously waiting for him to die.
Jon himself could not believe his eyes.
Yara had walked up to the Emperor, threatened and insulted him, then followed through and brought the Demon Lord of Kings Landing to his knees.
Said Greyjoy then added.
“Oh and, the reason I’m not clawing my eyes out or writhing on the floor screaming, is because I had my sorcerer here add a pinch of Myoxis. It’s a rare chemical that was once used by septas to punish witches and Children of the forest, and right now, its also poisoning your spectral ghoul, and by that nature, stopping him from coming out.”
Yara turned her head, clearly confident that Daenerys was not going to attack her and looked to Jon.
“May as well pop over back to your brother, Black Wolf. You can tell your King in the North that he don’t need to think me none. Now that I’ve single-handedly saved Westeros…” She looked down at the fallen demon lord. “I think its safe to say that things will shortly go back to normal.”
Then something appeared to cross her mind, and she stood up straight and tapped at her chin with her axe.
“Cept…there was the small matter of dealing with your armies. And the Dark Lord herself is in attendance, right here in front of me. As well as His Holiness’s commander, and His cupbearer too…”
She then sauntered away, back to her company of reavers, all tense and ready to fight.
The Emperor retched black bile that dribbled out of his helmet.
Turning, she faced the Dark Lord and her fallen emperor.
“Which is where my sorcerer comes in.” She turned her head back in her direction. “Euron! Good Nuncle, if you would care to do the honours?”
Jon looked at the sewn-lipped sorcerer, and then back up at the Dark Lord.
Why weren’t any of them attacking?
Jon looked to Euron, who’s eye gleamed with malice and spitefulness, no doubt irked to be ordered around like a dog to play tricks.
“Come on Nuncle…” Yara mocked behind her. “I sewed up your lips, not your balls to your arse! Conjure my army.” She then looked ahead to the Dark Lord.
“And then we can end this.”
Jon turned and saw Euron turn and shrug away from the man who had thrown the manticore grenade behind them, and stepped back two steps and turned.
He then looked out to the sea, to the right side of Robb Stark, his eyes wide with relief, surprise and anxiety.
He then lifted his hands, and his chain of his cuffs jangled as his hands formed strange gestures, then traced an outline, a strange letter that Jon had not seen before and could not for the life of him replicate from its bizarre arc and pattern.
Then he threw his hands forward, and a wave of power, dark hued and transparent, flew from his outstretched hands.
It flowed forward and smote the ground, the grass flattening before the weight of the unseen object placed on it.
Then with a terrifying wailing howl like a banshee, a huge, ethereal ring of deep and dark purple appeared and grew into existence. As Jon beheld the huge portal, summoned by Euron’s conjuration, he saw that within the ring was a chasm of nothingness. A void, an eye of pure darkness, opened its maw to gaze at him like the abyss itself.
Then something moved within, and a skeletal man shambled out.
Except it wasn’t fully a man. His left arm was missing, and his features were rotted away. The armour was old and ancient, ripped and haggard, hanging loosely on the shuffling form. In his hand, he held a notched, thick bladed war axe. His bottom jaw was missing, and one milky eye stared vacantly ahead as it moved with stiff purpose towards the living.
“By the Old, what the fuck is that thing!” Jon heard a Northman cry.
“A Draugr!” Robb shouted. “Everyone stay back! We don’t know how many are coming through-”
With a chorus of moans and clicking, dry throated snarls, a group of undead, draugr warriors in similar states of decay morphed into existence from the yawning abyss of the portal, likely to some Nether dimension or realm, and followed their undead leader. More movement within the ethereal shadow told Jon that more were coming out. More by the tens. No…hundreds!
An entire army of the undead, summoned by Euron to match the Dark Lord’s Unsullied.
Seven fucking hells…
Jon looked up, still sprawled on his back at the other lords of Rh’llor’s court.
Missandei’s face was set in a fierce expression of alarm and anger, and Grey Worm’s matched hers in equal intensity, yet devoid of fear. Both seemed to mirror each other like coiled springs, ready to bound into a fight. Jon had never seen a vampire in battle before, unlike the beastly vampyre demons of a similar name and nature.
The Dark Lord on her horse however simply lowered her head and Jon followed her gaze to settle on the Crow’s Eye Necromancer, as he observed his handiwork with his back to her.
Then Yara’s voice drew his eyes to his right, and he propped himself up awkwardly on his hands to look up at the Greyjoy Queen, while preparing himself to run.
The Emperor was still coughing his guts up.
“What is dead may never die, Your Holiness. But while my men are mighty, they still suffer from the flaws that come with mortality. So, I decided, after I captured my nuncle, to bind him to my service and use his necromancy to summon endless hordes of the undead, to win the battles on the ground without losing my men. Taking a leaf out of the Night’s Kings tome, if I may say so myself.” Yara boasted, setting her hands still holding her axes to her hips.
She turned back to Robb.
“I suggest you withdraw, Your Grace. The undead can be a bit of a loose cannon, pun fully intended!”
And her men once again amongst her and her schooner roared with laughter, as the draugr grew in number, and began to march past Euron towards the Dark Lord and her Unsullied.
The destrier snorted and moved about on the spot in anxiety, and the Dark Lord lowered her hand and…
…Stroked it…stroked it on the neck with her lethal set of gauntlets, tipped with sharp pointed fingertips.
She was murmuring something, something in a coarse, foreign tongue, guttural and soft under her breath and the horse gradually settled, though its eyes remained anxious and wide at the approaching undead.
And Jon’s curiosity once again outgrew his fear.
The Dark Lord…I mean she was settling her horse but she didn’t need to stroke it or speak softly to it…
Who was this woman?
Jon looked away to settle his pounding heart, and looked to see Yara turning to the man who threw the manticore grenade, a tall balding brown-haired man with a beard that covered his chin below his moustache.
“Harrag, put my nuncle back on the ship. I don’t want my prized weapon dying like a prisoner caught in a battle. He has some value to him, believe it or not!”
The burly tall man nodded and turned with a sweep of his cloak. He walked warily through the crowd of snarling undead, keeping his movements slow and careful, in case he set one of them off and got himself hacked to pieces.
Finally he reached Euron, who still had his back turned to him.
“Alright, Crow shit. Away you come.”
He grabbed the Crow’s shoulder.
What happened next came as blur. Euron swung his left elbow and cracked the taller man hard across the face, teeth flying from the impact, and spinning the warrior around. Then he had looped his chain around the stunned ironborn’s neck, grabbed his lower jaw by his left hand, and the back of his skull with his right hand.
With one deft movement, Euron twisted and snapped the taller warrior’s neck with a horrific crunching sound. Harrag sank to his knees and then lifelessly collapsed onto his back, blood poolling into his eyes as he fell.
“Harrag!” One Ironborn yelled and tried to charge, but was held back by his friends, all of them shouting “Don’t, you’ll set the Undead off! Nothing you can do!”
Euron paid them no heed. He sank to his knees by the fallen warrior and then, bracing his hands on both sides of the Ironborn’s face, raised his thumbs and plunged them up to the knuckles into his eyes. Blood pooled and squirted out from the pulverised eyeballs cracking like boiled eggs.
Then the Crow’s Eye lifted his head and muttered breathlessly more arcane, undecipherable words.
His veins bulged from his arms and neck, and his muscles and physique seemed to grow more fuller, more muscular and more robust. And Harrag’s corpse grew smaller and more frail. The vital liquids seemed to be sucked out from his body, through Euron’s thumbs and then into the necormancer’s body.
He was draining him of his vital fluids…restoring his strength by devouring someone else’s
“Harrag!” Yara roared, surprised, upset at losing a comrade and royally pissed off to have her pet sorcerer escape her clutches. “Euron you fucking bastard! Let him go.”
Euron gasped as the last of Harrag’s essence drained, and when Harrag’s eyes were sunken, and his skin withered and peeled back and shrunken over a now emaciated body, he plucked out his thumbs, and stood leisurely to his feet. Looking up at the sky, he sighed and relished in the afterglow of absorbing his power.
Then he rubbed his bloody hands, leaving a smear of red on his pale features, trailed his hands almost sensually down his chest.
And then wretched his still cuffed hands apart.
The chains snapped like cheap hempen rope.
Then he lifted his left foot and kicked outwards.
Euron had freed himself, and as he turned around, Jon could see by the sheer psychopathic look in his one eye that he was none the happier at being in chains to begin with.
Now he had a score to settle.
Lifting his hand, he pinched at a thread poking out of his sewn lips. Then with a pained expression, he pulled. The black string slid, rasping against the pierced holes as he drew them out of his lip flesh, and then extricated it fully from his mutilated mouth.
He looked at it like an offending piece of shit, and then dropped it on the floor.
He looked at Yara, and Jon’s heart lurched at the sight of the holes shrinking, bleeding, forming back to nothing as Euron’s magic healed himself.
He let out another sigh, and made a show of wringing his wrists and flexing his hands open and around.
“Now that…” Euron growled. “…wasn’t fun.”
He locked eyes with Yara, whose attention was fully on him.
“Not a very nice way to treat your uncle now…was it?”
He lowered his hands, but kept his palms open, his fingers wide apart as he prepared likely for another spell.
“I think it’s time for a lesson in treating your elders with respect.”
Jon looked up and noticed how stiff Yara’s posture was. It seemed that she had used all of her bravery up facing down the Demon Lord, and now her psychotic uncle held her hostage by his words and his influence.
“I’ll keep you alive, if I can help it.” Euron spoke with a demented edge to his voice. “That way, I can teach you respect for as many nights as I want. You can join the crew of the Silence, once I rip out your tongue and force you to eat it.”
Yara raised her axes in defence.
“My axes are coated in shattersilver. Equal in strength to dragonglass. One cut from this will be enough to slow you down long enough for me to take your head from your shoulders. I knew you would be too much trouble to keep alive.”
“Jon!” Robb yelled, trying to keep his dapple steady as he cantered on the spot. “Get away from there! Run! Come back to us!”
Arya in her blue dress was at the front, yelling again as well.
“Jon! Jon, get up, please!”
Jon for a moment considered it. If he could sneak away, maybe take advantage of the distraction…
“You were right, dear niece, in saying that we share a common enemy.” Euron was saying, as he turned his one-eyed gaze back in the direction of Robb Stark and his bannermen.
He then looked back at her.
“But when my enemy is the world, and everyone in it, my mind tends to shirk the benefits of having allies to fight for you.”
He raised his arms.
“Look at me. I am the finest necromancer in all of the world. When men see my sales, from Ib to Asshai, they pray. I am my own god. My army is the dead which litter the dark shadows of the world and its graves, and I will never lack for them. I have everything I could ever want. All the women I could ever fuck as a pirate. All the secrets of the world and it’s magics as a sorcerer. But right now, all I want, is to destroy every being I see, and devour their souls so that I may become the most powerful sorcerer in the world. Then…” He leaned forward and poked himself in his chest. “I will be king. I will rule over all the realms, and no-one will challenge me or my rule ever again.”
Green, warping, crackling energy warped and crackled into his palms, trailing up his fingertips.
“I won the Kingsmoot! I killed Balon Greyjoy! I walked the smoking ruins of Valyria! I bind the women I take in my conquests and my enemies to the prows of my ships! I am the most dangerous sorcerer in all the realms. Who now…can rival the power of a god!”
And to prove his point, the green lightning crackled and sparked brightly about his hands in a dazzling display of power.
Then he spoke again, and to Jon’s horror, he pointed at Robb and Arya, to which a group of draugr effortlessly responded with a deathly groan and shambled towards the northmen.
“Draugr! Hear your master. Tear the Starks and their armies to pieces! Attack the Unsullied! Feast on their master’s flesh! Wipe them out! All of them!”
He then lifted his hands, and pointed them at Yara, who was tensing up in her legs to try to dodge the incoming necrotic blast.
“Goodbye, dear Yara.”
Jon made to duck aside-
-And a huge ray of red, dark power pulsed across the air above him.
Jon felt the wrenching, sickening pulse in his heart at the pulse of dark magic. Holding his heart, he gasped at the sensation. He couldn’t breathe, and his chest ached as though a huge hole had been punched clean through it.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the dark lord lean forward, clenching her breastplate, and he absently wandered if she could sense dark magic as well as he did.
Then a crackle of lightning was heard, and Jon squinted at the bright light above him.
Crackling, sparkling, crimson lightning propelled and then held a group of the undead suspended, as the dark, hellish lightning sapped and then disintegrated the group of undead. They squealed, writhed helplessly in the air, and then crumbled, breaking down into dust like decades-old bread.
Jon gasped, panting at the sight, and he looked to Euron.
The green energy was still crackling in his hands, and his eye was wide and focussed on the sight to Jon’s left.
The magic hadn’t come from Euron.
And Jon remembered now, with a horrific chill setting in, that it had come from where the Dark Lord, and the other leaders were stood…
The hollow growl sounded out first as a deranged groan, then huffed, and panted at greater speed, and Jon’s terrified wits were slow to realise that the sound was laughter. Maniacal, malevolent, and gleeful.
The laugh rose to a cackle, deep and piercing, its rasp like chains dragging against his spine. Such a laugh was not human. No human sounded so deranged and so hideous in their expression of joy as the being laughing did.
Only a devil’s voice, emerging from the crowd of Unsullied.
Jon willed himself to turn to his left. Missandei and Grey Worm were looking to something on their left with an expression of terror, frozen like sheep. The Dark Lord had turned, and she too was stiff on her horse, paralysed by fear.
And Jon looked to his left, and immediately wished that he hadn’t.
Rising from the ground, wiping the blood from his toothy visor, Emperor Rh’llor rose to his feet, laughing in fiendish joy.
Jon looked to Yara, and all the bravery it seemed had now left her altogether, for her hands began to shake, and her brow was creased and her eyes wide in a frozen mask of terror.
Jon turned to Rh’llor, and began to slowly crawl away, as the Emperor rose gradually to his full height, and then spoke, raising his hands as if to embrace the chaos forming before him.
“Yes…yes…” He lavishly praised, all signs of sickness that so brutally afflicted him were now gone. “Conflict…rage…despair…this is the song of the true nature of mankind. Sin, devouring, destruction, hatred, lust…”
He looked down and his nailed hands with regenerated flesh curled into fists.
“It brings me joy to see mankind undone by their petty disputes and their fear. It will bring me no small amount of pleasure…then to remind the mortals of who their true master is.”
Yara risked much by turning her back to her uncle to face the Demon Lord.
“Take one step towards us, and my men above us will blow you to hell. Even if it kills me, I am willing to die if it means I get to be the one who ends your miserable reign of terror!”
Rh’llor craned his horned helm, and Jon could see the stains of black blood bile on his shroud. He appeared to bear it no mind as he gazed at the hovering sky-ship armada above him.
At his side, the Dark Lord, Missandei and Commander Grey Worm stepped backwards, warily eyeing their Emperor, and it suddenly made apparent sense to Jon. They didn’t attack Yara in retribution because they were shocked at him being crippled. They were holding back because of what he would do when he shrugged off the poison and got back up.
And now his retribution, it seemed, was the promise of Hell itself.
Then he looked back at the Ironborn Queen, and opened his right hand.
His black cane flew into his palm with another stir of magic that made Jon’s hair on his neck stand.
“What…a pity…” Rh’llor looked aside, as though he was actually considering falling back to spare his men’s life.
Then the horned helm whipped up and burned into Yara’s with now bright orange eyes.
“…that I am in no mood to die today.”
A screeching, piercing roar tore through the skies, so loud and close that it deafened nearly everyone who heard it.
Jon cried and pressed his hands to his ears, but the scream still buried its way into his mind, clenching his heart with barbed talons clutching and digging bloodily into his flesh, pinning him, immobilising him with uncontrolled terror.
Only when he felt the roar subside, did he pull his hands away, and look up at the sky.
There was now a clamour, from Robb’s army, as they panicked and cried to themselves in fear and panic. Robb roared at them to stay calm and maintain their formation, as was Arya.
Yara lifted her left wrist to her mouth and bellowed into it, where a small cyan crystal lay embedded in her leather vambrace.
“Captain Krygg! Eyes up!”
The crystal only crackled, and there was the muffled tiny sounds of men screaming through the small glowing gem. Jon didn’t pretend to fully understand the mechanics of magic crystals that allowed the Ironborn to communicate with each other over long distances, but he did acknowledge that they were pretty bloody useful.
“Captain Krygg! Battle Station Wyvern! Eyes sharp, they’ve brought a dragon! Get your lads in order and prep the fucking cannons!” Yara yelled down the line.
There was the sound of further screaming, a rough male voice yelled and belted out orders and curses on the other side.
“Captain Krygg!” Yara yelled.
The man she sought finally responded.
“Queen Yara, its-”
The explosion was so bright it created a bright yellow inferno, a small sun that cast the entirety of the cliffs and its inhabitants in a wan orangey glow.
Jon looked up to see one of the galleys pitch and fall forward, sheared in half as if it were cleft by a huge dark blade. Rising from the burning ship, flames wrapping around the winged form yet not burning it, sending the great skyship falling in half and its crew plummeting to their deaths-
-A massive, grey scaled dragon. With its wings outsplayed, it appeared to trail fire like some hellish phoenix.
It rose and hovered in place, huge bat-like wings rising and falling as it kept itself afloat.
Even from down below, as it hovered thousands of kilometres above them, Jon would recognise the black pupiled eyes with blood red irises and the black tipped wings anywhere.
They stayed in his nightmares the most.
Amongst the cries of the panicking and cursing Northmen, snatches of words and sentences could be heard.
“Gods preserve us! The Hell-bat! The Emperor brings the Hell-bat!”
“The Pale Death! The Butcherer! The Cannibal come again!”
“Rudaxes! Rudaxes is come!”
Rudaxes let forth another piercing, echoing roar, and twisting his spined, serpentine neck, he affixed his gaze on another ship.
Rudaxes was Rh’llor’s dragon, not the Dark Lord’s, and anything of Rh’llor’s was far worse, far more terrible to behold.
Rudaxes was the worst of all dragons, not because he was simply of Rh’llor’s magic, or because of his corrosive red lightning breath, but also because of his sadistic nature. Stories surrounding him told of how the Pale Death often desired to hunt his prey like a land creature, and so the villages that fell to the Forces of Rh’llor did so under the ferocious, demonic might of the pale grey dragon. Stories that also told him taking his time in devouring his victims, playing with them like a cat with mice, ripping their limbs off one by one, watching them crawl and limp away before he pinned them down and devoured them, or simply burnt them when he got bored.
The Hell-Bat had come, and now Yara’s fleet was about to have the fight of their lives.
“Fuck!” Yara roared. She then tapped her crystal and called into it again.
“Captain Maron! Circle that bastard and open fire! Do not let him escape! Maron-”
She swore as the crystal suddenly glowed with a bright light, and then sizzled and exploded, popping and extinguishing like a smashed lantern. Looking at the now darkened crystal in horror, she looked up to her left.
Rh’llor was staring at her, his silky predatory voice a chilling noise as he chuckled at her misfortune, lowering a hand containing a dark rune.
Her right hand dropped her axe, and grabbing something from her belt, she held it aloft to the sky. A huge crackling light shot out, and then exploded into a bright, sapphire hued light, before beginning its slow descent.
“Captain Yara!” One of the Ironborn turned to her. “Without the crystals to tell our men to avoid hitting us-”
“They’ll just have to eyeball it. They have the telescopes!” Yara grimly assured her comrade. “And if they hit us, they hit us. Doesn’t matter if we die here and now. We’ve played our round of fingers and we deal with the stumps left on our hands.”
She dropped her cannister where the flare had been shot from and picked up her axe.
There was a chorus of yells as more of the undead piled out of the portal. Euron was nowhere to be seen.
And the undead were now attacking the Unsullied, and Robb’s army as well.
The draugr bellowed and screeched and snapped at their prey. Many were cut down and driven back by skill of arms, but more kept coming through.
Soon the entire cliffs were teeming with ancient shambling husks of the first men, revenants now in the service of a necromancer, bent on their bloody task with single-minded frenzied determination.
Jon was cuffed, trapped on the ground and had no idea when he could get up and flee. If he could flee at all, without being caught by the draugr, or by Euron, or by the Dark Lord, or by the Unsullied, or worse by Rh’llor himself.
He did not know what to do, and worse, he was held stone still by indecision.
There was a choir of explosions and booming reports as the cannons of the Greyjoy fleet fired on Rudaxes.
They exploded when they made contact, but appeared to have no effect, as Rudaxes gave another ear-splitting roar and launched himself at another longship. As the longship listed from the impact, trying to stay afloat, the horned and angular dragon’s head rose and fell as he plucked the hapless crew members off their decks. Some fell screaming and thrown over board. Others were thrown into the air and snapped up by Rudaxes’s maw.
More cannon fire issued, and only succeeded in deflecting off the Pale Death’s scaled hide and gouging holes in their besieged ally’s ship.
Jon looked away, unable to imagine such a terrible situation at such a great height.
Then one of the ships peeled away, and began to turn towards inland.
“Lady Yara…” the Ironborn spoke with a fearful yet accepting tone in his voice.
Yara nodded. “They’ve seen the flare!”
She turned to her men.
“To arms! What is dead may never die…”
“But rises again, harder and stronger!” Replied the Ironborn flanking her, and raised their weapons as a horde of Draugr swarmed towards them.
And as what once began as a negotiation descended in blood, sword and chaos, Yara cried out above the din of the draugr and the dying men. She was shouting to both her men and the ships.
“Target the dragon. Target the Unsullied. Target the godless emperor and target the dragon queen. They all die, here and now! The Kraken will crush them all in one fell swoop. Fire! FIRE EVERYTHING!”
New chapter hopefully due later this week!
Chapter 3: Clash of Blades, The Dragon Queen Rises!
As chaos descends on the cliffs of Whiteharbour, Rh'llor's terrible power is brought to bear. All hope seems lost when Jon tries in vain to beg for his brother and bannermen's lives.
Yet unexpected reinforcements join the field of battle. The mysterious dark lord and right hand of Rh'llor stands to reveal her true nature, and alter the course of battle. Hers and Jon's destiny will forever be changed, with one single strike.
Hope you guys like! Going to take a break to relax, plan new things and consider a potential short Reylo flick in honour of the new Kylo Darcy memes that are making me ship Reylo again. You've probably noticed and will notice more star wars references in this fic as well as my other fics in general!
Also, shout out to Emilia Clarke for her birthday come 23rd October! Couldn't think of a better time to post this amazing chapter.
Shout out to juliaflin-cosplay for her beautiful cosplay shoots as commander Daenerys in fully body armour and to nika-enot for designing and also shooting beautiful shots in the same armour. Follow them on Instagram if you don’t already!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The ship fired.
A salvo of red tinged cannonballs shot forth from the longship that had descended, a bulky, ugly bastard fortified by rusted titan armour plates, ripped from the corpses of the salt giants themselves.
They streaked towards the air, screaming through the sky down towards the earth, and Jon thanked his lucky stars that at least his death would be quick.
The streaking red comets roared closer to the ground.
Jon closed his eyes.
A huge animal thundered by his feet, and Jon opened his eyes to look up squinting at-
The black destrier, rearing up and bellowing on his hindlegs, fore hooves waving in the air.
And on top of the beast, cape unfurling like the black wings of some dark armoured warrior god, her back turned to him-
The Dark Lord faced the falling cannonballs, then turned and roared through her helmet, and Jon startled how powerful, how ferocious, how commanding the muffled female voice was, mist drifting from the pits of her visor as she addressed her Unsullied.
“Dovahgedys! Letagon aoha sumby nesh!”
Jon heard the stern throaty roar of her terrifying commander as he relayed the orders and enhanced them with his own.
“Sumby be! Doros qogror! Sumby be!”
With a disciplined roar, the entire company of the Unsullied transformed.
The front of their company joined ranks and formed their phalanx in front of the Dark Lord and the Emperor, thrusting from the cover of their shields and driving back the screaming draugr hammering at their shields. They were reinforced by four rows of Unsullied, pushed against their fore ranking brothers and helping them hold their ground.
The rest of the company formed another shield pattern. Joining close, they curled up and presented their dragonglass enforced shields to form a protective tortoise-like shell.
How was a shield formation going to stand against cannon fire?
Jon’s question was answered soon enough.
The first cannonball struck the Unsullied shield formation head on and exploded, and Jon turned away and covered his ears just in time before it hit. The immense force of the cannonball’s strike, made of an explosive magical powder to maximise the carnage it caused when it struck, span Jon over from the shockwave it caused when it hit.
As the dust rained down on his bare arms and his hair, Jon slowly turned over, to see if he would have to avoid the rain of blackened helmets and body parts. But looking back, he saw, blinking away the dust and the falling dirt, that the tortoise formation-
-was still there.
A yellowy shield, shimmery like a refractive layer, shone brightly, a layer of magick that sprung into existence. The centre of the Unsullied’s shields glowed with a vibrant energy of a small sun, the source of the power.
The shields house magic gems inside them, and they joined their shields together to make a larger shield, Jon realised.
Small wonder my men found them so hard to beat.
Jon both feared, hated and respected the Unsullied. Their discipline truly put his northmen to shame, and with their superior command of defensive magick…
A shout from the shield front drew Jon’s eyes up, and he saw the second cannonball screaming down towards them.
The Dark Lord wheeled her huge mount so that she was fully facing the cannonballs.
She raised her gauntlets up.
Purple lightning magick crackled to life in her hands. Tendrils of slivering, potent power trailed up from her elbows and into her fingers and palms, cast her obsidian armour in a haunting light, basking her form in a violet miasmic hue.
It was the same colour as those heart-stopping eyes of hers, Jon could not help but think.
She thrust her right gauntlet forward.
With a crack of thunder, the beam of lightning shot forward from her hands, snaking through the air and lancing towards the closest missile.
It intercepted the red comet, and the resulting explosion bathed the cliffs in blood red and violet hues.
Jon looked up from the explosion and saw her cast the lighting in her left hand forward, and the resulting detonation was even closer, flattening Jon to the earth with its shockwave.
Jon grunted, and as he fell on his right side, he saw that the starks and the bannermen were fighting against the horde of draugr, now numbering in the hundreds.
The cliffs were vast, able to accommodate a small skirmish or a thousand company strong war camp, but the swarm of undead sought to overwhelm and flood the entire clifftops with their numbers.
Above the din of battle and the snarls of the draugr, he saw Robb riding about and swinging with his sword, striking down the undead that pawed at his dapple. Arya was nowhere to be seen amidst the melee as the northmen swung their swords and slew and died against the endless tide of decrepit dead warriors crashing upon them.
If Robb didn’t get his men out of here it would be carnage. If he didn’t pull his men out, there would be no escape.
The scream of another cannonball made Jon spin up.
This was closer, too close for the Dark Lord to intercept-
But not for the Emperor.
Jon watched as the winged cape of Rh’llor swirled about him, his true features obscured as the tall demon lord strode forward and lifted his left hand.
The cannonball struck Rh’llor’s hand, and Jon expected to be engulfed in hellfire and gunpowder as the shockwave swept down and pinned him against the earth.
But no fire came. Jon looked up and saw-
The Emperor’s left hand, cradling the cannonball.
He had caught it in one of his spindly clawed hands, and it hadn’t exploded.
The cannonball, glowing with red, jagged runes, suddenly began to spin. It scraped against the claws of the Demon Lord as the ball began to rotate, faster and faster, and then, it began to glow, warping and twisting and splintering, as tendrils of crimson lightning fed into the raw explosive substance of the cannonball. Feeding it, growing it, corrupting it.
It began to thrum and pulse with dark power that made Jon’s heart lurch with an ill essence. A form that seemed to drain his essence and fill his soul with dread.
Dark power. The might of a sorcerer. A Demon Lord’s power made manifest.
And it spun into a lethal vortex, and slowly left the Emperor’s hand, and Jon watched in morbid awe as his fingers flickered and bent and straightened, nimbly enchanting the weapon until it began to pulse brighter and quicker with greater instability.
Then the Emperor joined his forefinger and his thumb together…
And flicked it.
The enchanted cannonball, overwhelmed with Aether and Hell Magick, shot from the Emperor’s hand and flew straight into the prow of the galley.
Jon saw the messy exit of the cannon as it ploughed through and blew out the entirety of the back of the ship with its sheer kinetic force. Yet Jon also saw that the cannonball didn’t explode. Not until it flew and struck one of the other ships battling Rudaxes far off in the distance and that longship morphed very briefly in to a small red sun, the sharp report of the explosion coming seconds later with the light travelling faster than sound.
The closer ship meanwhile, began to groan and quiver as a series of wildcat explosions peppered its mighty hull, blowing out craters as the aether drive, gouged out by the enchanted cannonball, feebly attempted to correct the sudden and drastic loss of most of its functions. It only succeeded in tearing itself apart even quicker.
A few of the ship’s hands took their chances and dove off their doomed ship. Only to fall screaming as they realised they were nowhere near the cliffs, or, as Jon remembered, anywhere above the ocean. They would meet a grisly death being broken on the stony beaches at the bottom of the cliffs.
More explosions ripped through the hull, and the ship began its descent. It was too far for it to crash onto the cliffs, but the explosion itself…
Jon braced for another shockwave as he saw an Ironborn with a huge flowing cloak and foot-length jacket, bald, bearded and mad, leap up to the crows nest of the ship.
“What is dead, may never die!” He was screaming like a maniac hoarsely. “What is dead…may never-”
The ship exploded in a fiery ball of orange and blinding light. The wave of devastation seemed set to incinerate them all as debris from the exploded ship fell about them.
Rh’llor lifted his long, sheletal hand again.
A reddish aura emanated from his hand, and much of the fire and blast force from the immense explosion seemed to suddenly warp and twist, spiralling into a trail of quivering, fiery mass that trailed like a serpent’s tail and into his waiting hand.
It gathered and formed into a huge, glowing ball of white, fiery energy, that grew and grew the longer the Emperor kept his hand out.
Then the Emperor turned his head towards the swarm of undead, fighting the unsullied, fighting the Ironborn, fighting the Starks.
And thrust his hand forward.
The power contained within the ball of light unleashed in a fiery beam of dark magick, spewing forth and bathing the melee in a stream of reconverted explosive energy.
The noise from the rushing fire was so loud, Jon thought his ear drums would explode. But then he saw to his horror, the fiery beam lancing forward, cleaving through the undead, any Ironborn unlucky enough to get caught in the beam, and towards the back, towards the Starks beating off the undead, and
“ROBB!” He cried out, even though it would be useless.
Robb beheaded a loin-clothed Draugr wielding a halberd before it could decapitate his horse with his longsword and looked up at the beam, his eyes widening as realisation ripped him out of his battle-haze.
A blue dressed and brown-haired form leapt on Robb like a pouncing wolf and tackled him off his dapple. They hit the ground rolling as the compressed stream of devastating fire incinerated the screaming dapple and the crowd of bannermen and soldiers standing behind him.
Then the wave subsided.
Arya…Arya, if you live…please live…get Robb up and out here! Get him out now!
Get him back to his wife! Get him home to his son Eddard. Please! No more of my family dies. No more!
Now, only fire remained, and huge chunks of the falling galley began to rain down on the battlefield. They ploughed into the earth, crushing draugr and man alike, driving them down into the dirt until all that remained were red smears.
Yet the draugr lived. Burning or crippled, they came on to their prey. Neither Yara nor Euron were to be seen. Perhaps they perished in the blast of Rh’llor’s sorcery.
There was another shout from the still horsed Dark Lord.
“Dovahgehdys. Ropagon arli!”
The Unsullied on the shield front fell back from the front in step, keeping their shields up. They were less now. Rh’llor didn’t seem to care or discriminate when targeting the undead with his reforged beam of annihilation.
Jon looked and saw the smoking, headless, torso-less corpses of the Unsullied unfortunate enough to be in his way. The stink of charred flesh and the cooked meats it made him think of made him turn his head away.
A bastard to even his own men…truly, the Demon Lord only leads and commands by fear.
And how else would he rule when he has the power to rival a god…
The rattling snarls of the draugr made him look up, and he saw a trio of undead rushing towards the emperor, faster than their shambling comrades, brandishing dirks, sword and axes. They were armed with flat rounded pauldrons upon their shoulders, and their leathery armour was bound with gemstones the same colour as their piercing cyan eyes. Their hair, he noticed, was white and thin, whipping around them as they sped past the Dark Lord and brought their weapons to bear.
Rh’llor lifted his cane but an inch.
The right and the closest draugr immediately flew back, and as it fell, it split in half lengthways, spewing vermillion red as its corpses was bifurcated by an unseen force. Rh’llor turned his head towards the centremost draugr.
The centremost draugr lifted off its feet, hovered kicking and writhing in mid-air, then bent backwards, its spine snapping in half. Its hips twisted, its limbs snapped at the elbows and knees and its head twisted around so that it faced the other way.
The third was on him before the second one hit the ground, but Rh’llor was in no danger.
He simply reached it his left hand and grabbed the whole of the Draugr’s head. Lifting him bodily by the head, red lightning coursed through his fingers and into the sceaming undead’s skull.
The dark magic overloaded the nercotic magick binding the undead, and the overload culminated with the undead’s head messily exploding, spreading blackened gore everywhere, including on the Emperor’s robe.
“Mmm…” Rh’llor growled with annoyance, the headless corpse collapsing onto its knees in front of him as he wiped in vain at his grey shrouding robe, only succeeding in spreading the stain into his robe.
Looking about on the carnage he had caused, yet evidentally unsatisfied with the results, the Emperor turned and looked down upon the Dark Lord.
“Daenerys,” He spoke with a cool, calculated edge to his malevolent voice. “I give you leave to hunt down and bring me the head of Euron Greyjoy. Perhaps it would aid us in bringing an end to our Undead pestilence, and there are secrets within the well-travelled necromancer’s brain that I would possess as my own.”
He looked out over the field of burning undead, now decorated with the obstacles of the wreckage of the ship.
“Should Yara cross your path, subdue her, and bring her to me.”
He lifted his left hand again, and a swirling cloud of green, noxious substance formed in his hand.
“I am most anxious to see the effects of a new poison I wish to replicate on a human. Especially one engineered to slay someone as almost as mighty as myself…”
Then a thought flickered over his eyes, and he looked aside to the direction of the beleaguered Starkmen, and Jon looked to see them milling around, gathering their wounded and their dead and still struggling against the draugr mass.
“Oh and while we are here, bring me the Young Wolf’s head. I desire a new skull to drink my evening red from. Cersei’s has a crack in it that keeps leaking all over my sleeve and throne, most unsightly… And treachery cannot go unrewarded.”
“NO!” Jon found the will to push himself shakily to his feet, and rushed in front of the towering demon.
“You can’t do this!” He yelled, even though he knew that it would all be helpless, begging mercy from the helmed devil as he peered down at him. “It wasn’t his fault! Robb didn’t intend to arrange this ambush. He came here out of goodwill to see our home, my home safe and put an end to the fighting! He would never plan anything as underhanded as attack you in a peace treaty!”
“Because his word is iron?” Rh’llor icily replied back. “He who swore to shield and lead his allies, then beheaded the lord of Karstarks and condemned his own men by laying with a Volantisene strumpet? Who supposedly was ignorant of Yara’s plan so that he could lure me onto raven-blessed soil, where I would be temporarily vulnerable to assassins?”
“He is not a traitor! If you want peace, we can still sue for it!” Job pleaded.
“If you break faith and kill Robb Stark, you’ll only galvanise the Northern houses and their allies into open rebellion, and then you would have no choice but to burn the North and lose the treasures you desired to begin with! You’ll be hated even more so as a murdering tyrant, and even the southern houses will have cause to hate you and rebel against you!”
“And rebellion would still exist in my kingdom after I destroy you all because…?”
It took Jon everything he could with the adrenaline pumping through his system not to shake at the Demon Lord glowering over him, but he persisted in his defiance.
“Consider the Tyrells.” Jon spoke. “Word spreads of how their fertile lands also house deposits of silver. Silver that can kill your demons, which they mine in secret despite your brutal culling of anyone caught with silver in their homes! And the North knows of House Martell and the rebellion there. Even now, you and your Targaryen knight struggle to quell the realm of Dorne, just as Aegon the Tyrant did. You fight a losing battle, Rh’llor, because no matter how many you kill, there will always be someone brave enough and willing enough to resist you and see a benevolent and good heir rule the Iron Throne. So, unless you play the long game and seek corporation instead of seeking to silence your enemies all at once, you will only have foes in your subjects instead of allies!”
An Unsullied killed an undead with a spear thrust nearby, and Rh’llor said nothing.
Then he walked forward until he was fully towering over Jon and leaned down, his red eyes, which Jon could see, had slit pupils. Black voids into the abyss, riven in two red irises of boiling red blood.
“So the rose and the serpent oppose me. Thorn and Fang. And do they entwine and garb the Wolf of the North as well, I wonder?” The emperor snarled with sheer dark venom in his voice, his teeth seemingly crawling in Jon’s skull as he hissed down at him. “If the wolf is slain and his head taken, will the Rose and the Serpent fall with it? Or will they rise up and unite the realms in open rebellion against me, and overthrow me in a brutal civil war?”
Jon could say nothing, before the sheer malevolent aura of the demon. It was though his hand was on the throat of his very soul.
“Even a rotting corpse of the wolf feeds the ground from which the rose flowers and the serpent crawls. It is best to burn the corpse to ash and scatter the dust to the winds so that no life can ever sustain its allies.”
He lifted his head, but his hateful eyes never left his.
“So when I single-handedly destroy your brother and his host, and blast his Ironborn allies out of the sky, I will fly to Winterfell on Rudaxes and annihilate the Godswood and the noble house of Eddard so that no creature great or small will ever draw breath there again. I will leave it a smoking, burning ruin that poisons all life that grows there, so that its corruption spreads like a cancer and chokes the North into a forsaken, barren land. When my desolation is complete, any house who does not see wisdom in the consequence of defying me will suffer the same fate. But thank you, Jon Snow, for reminding me of Tyrell’s persistent irritation and the migraine inducing resistance of Dorne. The mere mention of them has now made me ill, and when one suffers from an ailment, one scourges oneself by burning out the infection, or amputating the gangrenous limb to preserve one’s life.”
Rh’llor looked away, and Jon knew that under his mask he was considering his options. Then he spoke wistfully to himself.
“It appears I must become a surgeon, and be both efficient and skilful with a hacksaw to save this realm from itself.”
In the skies, another ship met its brutal end from the wrath of Rudaxes, and Rh’llor looked up, as did Jon, to see that the Pale Death had ploughed through another ship, fire folding around his wings as he struck from above. The failing ship tilted, and yawed, careening brutally into another longship as it tried to veer away from its brethren ship. The resulting explosion tore holes through the sales of a third ship, and it floated listlessly in a singular direction, unable to turn from its current path.
Rudaxes turned and bellowed another ear-piercing scream into the sky, a voice of untamed malevolence and relish in its will to destruction and war. He then flew roaring and flapping his behemoth wings like the giant hell-bat that it earned its nickname from, and blasted a crimson and white fireball from his mouth.
The front end of the sailless longship exploded with a muffled, delayed boom in the distance, and the remaining half of the Ironborn skyship began to plummet to its death, spiralling slowly as smoke rose from its devastated ruin.
“I pray my hacksaw does not blunt or break in the days ahead, for its much-needed use.”
“You’re a monster!” Jon yelled. “A godless, bastard with a black heart! You will never rule us or Westeros and your evil will bring your own end down upon you, mark my words.”
Rh’llor’s response was only to moan.
“Oh…” He placed his left finger and thumb over his eye slits in a histrionic gesture of exasperation. “…will no-one rid me of these pestilent Starks!”
Jon suddenly felt a cold presence behind him, and arms small yet deceptively strong grabbed him by the left elbow and began to gently pull him away.
“Wha…” He asked and turned to the source of the cold hands.
The bowed head of Missandei the vampire, with her thick and wild mane almost in his face, greeted his enquiring eyes.
“Come with me." She whispered urgently, so quickly Jon had to take a moment to process her words. "Do not say anything, keep your head down and whatever happens, do not interfere. My orders are to keep you alive and you are not helping matters by aggravating the Demon Lord.”
“Orders…what is…” Jon stumbled.
“Be silent and come with me.”
Her hold tightened, and Jon chose to listen to his instinct, knowing better than to argue. Even though a human vampire only manifested partial characteristics of their crawling bat cousins, they still had the strength to tear heads off torsos and limbs from their sockets.
As Jon was led away, he saw the Dark Lord swing her left leg over her destrier’s rump, dismounting from the beast by resting her right foot on the stirrup. She stepped onto the ground with one fluid step, and Jon could not help but admire the smoothness of the movement, as wearing heavy armour did not encumber the dark lord as much as it appeared to.
He could not help but notice a multiple knotted and braided tail of white hair, flowing out beneath her great-helm and partway down her neck and and end at her vest.
She raised her hand and struck her destrier on the rump, mushing the horse to trot away to safety from the battlefield.
Then she turned to the Emperor as he lowered his hand, and spoke, in fluent, clipped Westerosi, full of purpose and indomitable willpower. A promise of destruction and might wrapped in velvet and entombed in steel.
“Fear not, my master.” Jon’s heart jumped in his chest at the sound as she continued. “Salvation will deliver us yet.”
Then she looked out to the North, and Jon looked out as well, even as he was being dragged aside by Missandei.
Jon wandered what it was that drew her eyes northward, the eyes of the dark lord, the dragon queen to the northern lands. What did she expect? Reinforcements to come in the form of my brother’s bannermen? A wildling charge filled with furred giants and mammoths?
Jon nearly pinched himself when he did hear wild cries, yelling and shrieking as they pierced the air.
But when the first riders crested the rise of the hill, miles away from the cliff, Jon realised that they were not Wildlings, or Northmen, or of any army he knew in the North, or in Westeros at all.
Chief evidence of that case was the sickle-shaped swords they wore, waving in the air as they ululated on their black and brown steeds, thundering towards the battle as they screamed their terrible war cries. Jon could see that they wore thick furs that left their almond coloured arms bare, and the black ochre about their eyes. Their leaders wore long hair tied in bells that gleamed even in the murky light of the cloudy day. They glistened brighter as they neared the burning fields.
Jon knew what they were. Read of them in his library in Winterfell. Terrifying barbarian warriors who worshipped a horse god, whose best warriors grew their hair long and braided it as a mark of un-defeat.
Rumoured to have been exterminated by Rh’llor’s forces a year ago. With no-one able to leave Westeros and return alive to confirm such grim news, anything heard of overseas was hearsay and conjecture.
But now warriors from the wilds of Essos had come to Westeros.
But how did they come here? What force on earth would convince the barbarians who feared the salt sea to sail on boats to Westeros. What leader inspired such loyalty, such bravery, such fear and respect as to command the lives of the Dothraki screamers?
Jon was not the only one surprised at their presence.
“Dothraki screamers…led by Khal Koro. Khal Drotho. Khal Nago. Khal Rago.” Rh’llor’s voice rang with an edge of devastating fury, belligerence bubbling under the service under a transparent veneer despite the shaky coolness of his honeyed tongue.
Jon looked back to see the Emperor staring at the Dark Lords helm. She did not meet his eyes, which no doubt rankled the Demon Lord even further.
“You told me that you exterminated their tribes as I commanded a year ago.”
The Dark Lord responded without deigning to look him in the eye.
“I found a more practical use for them in their service instead of their souls. With them as my cavalry, my ground forces can conduct lightning raids and hold superior field advantage with light armour and horseback.”
Rh’llor was not impressed.
“You denied me the secrets of the shamans of the Dosh Khaleen. You denied me the means to harvest the spirits of the Night Lands. The immortal power of the Khalasar Star Riders!”
“But behold, Master.” The Dark Lord spoke, as amongst the ranks, women of varying age, wielding long staffs of gnarled ash, tipped with pulsing stones of colour that made Jon’s eyes water to look on, broke from the ranks on the screamers and spread out in front of the riders.
“The shamans ride with the screamers. They join the khalasar in protecting their men.”
The thunder of the hooves grew closer. And more inhuman snarls came as more draugr, ranks of armoured ghouls of the First Men billowed out of their murky tomb and trampled over their incinerated comrades and the ruins of the destroyed Ironborn ship to race out and meet the charging Dothraki host head on.
“The Dosh Khaleen dwell in Vaes Dothrak. They do not dare leave the sanctum of their holy land lest they abandon their own principles against bloodshed and blades.”
“They have had a very recent…and very significant…change of heart.” The Dark Lord replied, and her chest seemed to swell with pride. Her very body, armoured and shadowed and regal, seemed to grow in her proud posture. She seemed mightier and greater to behold even off of her horse back.
Jon could not help but think that there was more to what she said than what appeared on the surface.
Rh’llor was losing his patience.
“Are there yet more surprises that you intend to reveal to me? Do more deceptions lie behind your empty promises as of late? True intentions under your masquerade? As a dragonknight I expected more from you than treachery, even if such things are my way.”
“Is something the matter, Your Highness?” Daenerys asked, and Jon nearly choked out hysterical laughter at the daring she displayed in brazenly mocking the Demon Lord in her inconspicuously phrased question. “You seem unsettled. As if you stand afraid to lose control of everything you have illicitly gained and enslaved through your brutish, underhanded means. You sound…”
She offered him only a sideways glance.
“…Like a scared, infirm, greedy old man…with control of his ill-gotten fortunes slipping from his fingers…”
Rh’llor’s red eyes widened at the insult that left his pride shaken.
“Of all the people I have faced insolence from, I would never have expected such a licentious tongue from my own Right Hand! I will have you suffer unimaginable torment for your insolent behaviour. Do you take me to be a fool? Do you seek to undermine the one being who provided you with the means to power beyond your comprehension? Power that would make the sorcerers of the world tremble to behold! After years of teaching and instruction, these is the gratitude you offer! Ungrateful wench! Answer me!”
The Dark Lord didn’t at first, but then she lowered her head, and she spoke just loud enough for him to hear even from the distance and above the rush of battle as the Dothraki began to close their distance between their ranks and the Draugr footsoldiers.
“What falls is not always fallen. With the will unbroken, with the soul shrivelled, yet given room to grow, and with the embers of hope still lit no matter how dim… a fire will rise…from which I will soar above to unshackle myself from the black iron chains, that you have bound me in.”
“You dare…challenge me…you dare seek…to blaspheme a god! You dare…” Rh’llor’s voice began to grow in volume and wrath as he lifted his left hand and pointed at her, his hand quivering in rage, and he truly did look an old belligerent man. “…after everything I have given you, to take what was never yours and use it to strike me down. I gave you the secrets to power. Helped you harness your rage to further tap into your dragonknight powers hidden within your blood. Trained you in the dark arts of sorcery and swordsmanship…and now you seek to betray me! BETRAY…ME!!!”
He took one step forward towards her, and Jon wanted to shout out a warning. Yet Missandei’s cold hand pressing hard into his elbow warned him otherwise.
He could only watch as the Demon Lord was now close enough that, if he reached his hand, he could grab her skull and do to her what he did to the Draugr.
He wanted to break free, to shrug out the arms and pick up a sword and strike off the Demon Lord’s head before he had a chance to lay a hand on her. The instinct surged within him, bringing his wolf blood to boil, yet he knew not what compelled his need to leap to the Dark Lord’s defence.
It was as though something linked him to her. Drew him to her and her power. As if he wanted to know of her, know more of her…a familiar and alien sensation beating within him like his own heart, making him feel alive when seeing the brave stranger in dark armour before him.
And Jon realised that she was beautiful, even if he hadn’t seen her face. Her spirit radiated strength, grace and protection, this dark mother of dragons.
“You may wish to watch the skies, Master.” The Dark Lord spoke. “My Dothraki did not come alone.”
A high pitched ringing call pierced the skies.
Followed by a loud, railing cry that was both monstrous and mighty in its hearing, and his soul sang with the terrifying roar that drowned out the very noise of the battlefield as the creature behind made its terrifying entrance
Jon turned and looked.
Gliding out of the clouds, red hued wings carrying and propelling a black armoured and thickly scaled body, Drogon the Black cast a shadow upon the Dothraki host as he opened his double rowed set of teeth and issued out a ear-ripping cry for war and destruction.
The Dark Lord’s dragon had come to the Battle of Whiteharbour
“Drogon the Black!” he heard a northerner’s cry. “Drogon the Redwing! Drogon comes to bring fire and blood! Flee! Flee for your lives!”
“Balerion’s soul son! The Black Resurgent! The Screaming Shadow! Run! RUN!”
Jon’s breath left his body as the huge tyrant dragon’s roar sounded like fire in storm form, fire of the stormborn, and with a flap of his wings he was upon the advancing draugr host.
Opening his jaws, rearing his head back, Drogon lunged forward and blasted a single ball of black-tinged fire, streaming towards the draugr.
The fireball crashed into the centre of the host and atomised three quarters of the central Draugr host. The rest were blown apart or sent flying from the kinetic force of the explosive fireball, falling into and tripping their allies as they flew into one another.
The Dothraki host split, and avoiding the worse of the fiery crater, rode forth and ploughed down the draugr reinforcements.
They rode onto to bring their curved arakh blades down on the draugr, while the dosh khaleen shot blazing spheres of smaller but no less deadly fireballs from their glowing staffs, blowing apart draugr by the dozen.
Jon looked back to see that Rh’llor was noticeably relaxing, though still he did not move away from the dragonknight
“Ah…I see…perhaps you spoke in jest. I understand now of course that such inane talk of defiance and betrayal of me, the greatest being to ever walk the Earth, was but another womanly game of yours. You never cease to amaze me, dragon queen.”
He looked up as Drogon peeled his lips back to reveal his terrible snarl, and then flew on and up, over the cliffs and began to climb in height.
Rh’llor watched him go.
“And of course, by bringing Drogon, your strongest and largest dragon, you seek to crush both our enemies. He will circle around and destroy the Draugr, the Greyjoys and the Starks in less than two passes. Yes, yes, of course he will.” The demon lord, Jon noticed, had begun to wring his hands. The day had taken its toll on him, and his true side, his side after his composed, sanguine, manipulative, shrewd persona had been worn away, was now showing.
Drogon did gain height in his ascension.
But he did not turn around and fold his wings to descend to bathe his brother with fiery inferno.
He continued to fly, beating his great wings as he flew and flew, crawling upwards in his great ascent, and then soon, began to close distance with the faltering Greyjoy ships as Rudaxes besieged them.
“Ah I see!” Rh’llor spoke, after appearing to blanch at the unexpectant turn of events. “You seek to have Drogon destroy the Ironborn ships to ensure the safety of your troops. Practical application of your fiercest war machine…”
“War machine…” the dragonknight spoke, and scoffed with a soft tilt of her helmet. Yet she remained facing her back to the demon lord.
“It is true what you say.”
Drogon was close now to the Greyjoy ships, and small delayed pops followed as the ships opened fire on the second dragon that had now come to attack their small fleet. Drogon barely noticed as the cannonballs missed, exploded or deflected off his hide and wings.
He continued on his flight path.
“I am the Dragon Queen.” The Dragon Knight spoke.
Daenerys. Jon thought. Her name is Daenerys Targaryen.
Jon could barely see, the pale grey body of Rudaxes as he perched on the deck of another burning ship, feasting on the crew members. He lifted his head at the approach of Drogon.
Drogon raised and then flapped his wings. The power behind that one push carried him up into the sky, high above Rudaxes, who ignored him and chose to continue feeding.
“But I…” Daenerys spoke, her stance slowly changing as her left leg twisted ever so slightly, and her right foot slowly began to drag back against the grass. Her left hand gripped the scabbard of a sword, which Jon realised was on the left side of her hip. A sword with a red gem in the centre of the crossbar that twirled like flames, and the pommel itself was a crown of golden fire.
Dark Sister…That’s Dark Sister she holds…
“…will never be your slave again.”
Drogon stopped rising, folded his wings, and dived.
Rudaxes looked up and roared at the slightly smaller dragon flying down at increasing speed towards him.
Drogon did not stop. He tilted his body in the last thirty meters and extended his claws like a scaled falcon.
He crashed into Rudaxes, and the whole of the Ironborn ship exploded with it as Rudaxes was smashed through the deck of the ship he had turned into his own dinner plate.
They fell through, and now two burning dragon bodies cleaved through an Ironborn ship.
Their clashing roars, a discordant, rivalling series of roars and screeches as they spiralled and clashed and bit at each other could be heard even from here.
When Rudaxes eventually span and swung him off, Drogon recovered easily and wheeled around, raking Rudaxes hard across his pale face with a swipe of his left talons. The impact snapped his head to the left, and a brief shower of blood fell from his slashed face as he screamed in rage-filled agony.
Rudaxes answered with a snap at Drogon’s tail, but the black had outpaced him, flying forward with another burst and then wheeling around for another run. His hateful scream of frustration was nothing no normal creature should ever sound from its maw, as bitterly and as murderous as Rudaxes did.
“Rudaxes!” Rh’llor yelled, having turned and seen the betrayal.
What happened next came so fast that if Jon blinked he knew he would have missed it.
Rh’llor turned back to Daenerys and shouted-
His left hand reached for his cane. Too late, Jon realised as his left hand gripped the top and drew it away, that it was in fact a concealed sword, rapier thin yet sharp enough to slice a draugr in half.
The blade gleamed as it slid out from its sheath.
Daenerys placed her right foot back, reached for Dark Sister, drew and span.
Her blade sliced from its hilt and across Rh’llor’s sword a fraction faster than the rage-driven Emperor’s desperate left handed draw.
Dark Sister completed her arc and sliced through the thin blade, severing it in two before it could even be fully drawn. She held it out, pointing at the sky at the end of her swing.
Rh’llor’s arm’s opened wide like voluminous grey wings as he fell back in surprise.
Then his robe bore a single straight rip, and a plume of blood spurted out from the wound.
The force of the swing shoved Rh’llor about forty feet back and crashing into part of the exploded ship’s wreckage.
Jon let out his breath.
And Rh’llor was motionless.
Daenerys then straightened, lowering her sword.
Then she lifted her left gauntlet and fiddled with something in her gorget.
The cape she wore suddenly snapped off her right shoulder.
Then the left.
It fell and pooled at the floor like a discarded silken robe, and Jon felt himself questioning why of all places would he consider such a sight to be one that implied an erotic gesture.
Then with her pointed shoulder plates uncovered, and her arms given greater range of movement, she lifted her sword and brought it before her, holding the hilt in a two handed, right-hand dominated grip. The three-pointed helm lowered as she focused with deadly intent on the fallen Demon Lord.
Jon looked at the demon lord as he lay motionless on the pile of ship wreckage.
Then his leg twitched.
Followed by his hand.
That didn’t kill him… Jon realised with great unease growing inside his chest. Valyrian steel and that didn’t kill him like it would other demons…”
The diagonal slash mark Dark Sister carved across his chest was smoking, steam rising from the fissure made by the dragon knight’s blade. But it did not bleed. It simply fizzled and bubbled as the magick of the blade reacted with the blood of the demon it had slashed.
Then it finally fizzled out, and Rh’llor slowly and gradually lifted himself off the wreckage with a moan.
“Mhnnggrrhhh…” He snarled as he shakily pushed himself up to his lanky, imposing height, pushing himself off with his left hand.
He tottered a bit like a cloaked man on stilts, before his horned helm lifted, and affixed his baleful red gaze upon the Dragonknight.
“Visenya’s Draw…” He sinisterly appraised. “…well played.”
His right hand, now holding a handle-less cane, a swordless sheath, clenched hard around the black gnarled wood. In an ominous crack, the cane snapped into splintered shards under the terrible strength of the demon’s hand.
It fell clattering to the ground at his feet.
He never needed it. Another deception to hide his true power...Jon realised with mounting dread.
His left hand lifted the broken sword in his hand.
“Zobries egros perzys simonagon.”
Then red-lightning crackled about the blade, and black shadow swarmed and crawled about the blade.
Then, sparking red cascading from the blade, charcoal like ash lengthened and crackled like burning logs, and the blade grew and lengthened, into a longsword shape…then longer, wider and sharper.
The Emperor Rh’llor now held a huge black and long handled magma sword in his one hand. He lifted it up, joining his right hand to the fore of the handle under the wide and crude crossbar. Its length alone was three times the size of Dark Sister, and three times as thick. More a cruel, hacking, butchering weapon than a sword.
The Ash Blade of Woe…Rh’llor’s strongest sword. Jon realised. And the tales he heard surrounding the demon lord’s worst weapon for slaughter made him shudder.
And worse…fear for Daenerys the dragonknight.
Daenerys simply flexed and tightened her grip on Dark Sister’s handle.
With a snapping sound punctuated by a hiss, Dark Sister’s blade was coated by a wreath of burning, violet flame. The vibrant, burning fire, the very essence of the dragonknight’s Targaryen spirit, burned brightly from the blade once wielded by Visenya.
Visenya…the rebel queen…
Rh’llor lowered his head like a bull ready to charge, and lowered his blade down to point at Daenerys.
Amidst the chaos of the battle, neither duellist moved.
Above them, Drogon roared, his draconic roar a deeper, vengeful roar against the primordial hateful scream of Rudaxes as they flew towards each other, their imminent collision itself seeming set to move even the mountains themselves.
Daenerys pushed off her back foot and ran, crying a yell that was a roar more terrifying than Drogon’s or the devil’s dragon itself. A white dragon in human form.
Rh’llor trembled in uncontrolled rage and then snarled like a lowly, maniacal beast as he ran and then leapt, his shroud opening about him like a grey winged cape as he soared into the air and lifted his huge ash blade to bring down on the advancing dragonknight.
In the chaos that ensued, of dragon and devil colliding, Jon knew not what struck the hardest.
Drogon and Rudaxes as their claws clatched into each other’s hides and their jaws crunched into each others shoulders.
Or Daenerys’s Dark Sister as it swung trailing violet fire as it struck so hard into the ash blade that the resulting shockwave blew him out of Missandei’s arms and sending him flying, the grassy harsh ground rising up to strike him hard in the face.
The roar of dragons clashing sent him soaring into a brief but deep sleep.
Hopefully I will have something up by next week. Stay tuned and in the mean time, please leave comments and kudos. They mean the world for me to read when they pop up in my inbox!
Chapter 4: Dragonfire and Ruin...The Dark Lord battles the Demon Lord!
Jon awakens to chaos, and he must take up arms! For the Draugr are around him, and Jon must use all of his training and skill if he is to survive. Proving his skill as a warrior without armour or Longclaw, Jon bares witness to the terrifying skill of the Dragon Queen brought to bare on her Demonic Master. The odds are in Daenerys's favour, but Rh'llor's dark magic and Rudaxes's ferocity may be more than a match for Daenerys and Drogon!
Female character being choked and taunted.
Dark events alluded to which may be distressing to sensitive viewers.
Reference to Vader: Shards of the Past.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Jon awoke to the muffled of men dying and ships exploding in the distance.
The world bled into crystal clear clarity as Jon awoke.
There was the sound of steel and iron scraping and crashing against one another. Screams hideous and wailing piercing the sky. The hollering, whooping cries of the Dothraki Screamers in bloody battle with the Draugr.
And dragons roaring their unearthly, sky-shattering cry as they clashed above.
Violet eyes that widened when his eyes locked with hers through an imposing helm.
Her gauntlet opening…something hitting his chest and making him fly back through the air…
A blade of violet fire…
Jon shot up from up from the ground, and rolled out of the way of a body falling onto him.
He looked aside to see the split skull of one of Yara’s Ironborn cadre, a hatchet dividing his skull like a blood orange.
Jon looked up to see a draugr lift up his dirk, bony grey fingers on the hand attached to a grey, near skinless skeleton, shielded by black iron pauldrons and breastplate. Blue eyes of ice gleamed on a gaunt snarling face with flowing white locks.
Jon remembered his chains.
He lifted them up as the dirk came falling down and looked away.
The blade fell and Jon felt relief as his shoulders, straining to pull his arms apart, flung his limbs out wide. The cuffs themselves remained, but Jon could at least move his arms and fight.
He would no longer be helpless. He had done enough standing around gawping like a fool while the world fell apart around him. Now was his time.
Jon drew his right hand back and flung it forward, punching the surprised draugr so hard that its decaying lower jaw broke at the hinge and hung by a string thread on its right side.
The draugr, stunned, staggered back and left itself open.
Jon reached, twisted the notched blade of the dirk out of its hand, the handle easily relinquished from the decayed fingers gripping it, and swung to his left. The draugr’s severed lower jaw, followed by its head, thudded dully on the bloody, blackened grass.
Jon turned and swinging down, hewed the sword arm of of another draugr lurching towards him. He grabbed the one handed sword, a dual-edged hacking weapon.
He was now armed. He may not have the flawlessly balanced and reassuringly weighted blade of Longclaw, but he was no longer in need of protection. He could fight.
Jon’s eyes quickly scanned the battlefield, full of swinging bodies and screaming horses and burning ship parts. Chaos and fire surrounded him.
And Jon couldn’t see anyone he knew.
He couldn’t see the vampire, Missandei who was trying to pull him away from Daenerys and the Demon Lord before they clashed.
He couldn’t see Grey Worm, or any of the Unsullied.
He couldn’t see Robb, or Arya, but he saw the bodies of the Northmen and Ironborn alike.
He couldn’t see Yara, or the schooner that had been anchored into the cliffs. Perhaps it was cast away to escape the destruction raining down around them.
He couldn't see the horses of the Dothraki, their sickle arakh swords, the long wands of the dosh khaleen gleaming above the smoke as they rained destructive enchantments on the Draugr.
Only the undead.
A group turned their heads, and Jon’s head whipped around to see that more had seen him move.
To them, he was fresh meat, alive and not undead.
They would kill him.
Jon preferred otherwise.
He lifted his dirk and placed it in a reverse grip, keeping his one handed sword in a forward facing grip.
Block with the dirk, strike with the sword.
Aim for the heads, and take the limbs off the ones you can’t kill to slow them down.
They came at him, baring bloody weapons of iron and steel for the kill.
Jon roared, feeling the adrenaline surge within him, the wolf blood howling strong in his soul and the blood pound in his ears.
One came at him with a halberd, spear and axe fashioned for a grim purposed killing tool. He died first with the longsword through his skull.
The second came at him with an iron Warhammer. Jon ducked the swing and stabbed his dirk into his shoulder. Pinning him, Jon span and absorbed the blow of an axe to his chest. The longsword shaved off the top half of the attacker’s skull.
The fourth lunged forward with a spear, and Jon sidestepped as the haft of the spear burst bloodily out the back of his hostage’s back.
Jon answered by shoving his hostage into the spear wielder. Out of instinct and hearing the snarl of an undead behind him, Jon twisted away and swung blindly with his longsword.
The swing of the draugr collided fully with Jon’s blade, and too late Jon realised that the draugr was swinging with a two handed longsword. He hissed as the blade cut at his left forearm and batted his swing aside.
Jon stumbled back, and gave ground, as the draugr, taller than the others, lifted its damaged but still potent blade with an inverted, halved crossbar to its shoulder and swung down.
Jon waited until the draugr lifted his blade, then leapt forward, swinging his sword into the kneecaps of the Draugr hard.
The draugr fell forward and Jon rolled to give himself momentum, before jumping to his feet. His back was wet with mud and blood and wet, and Jon lifted his dirk and buried it into the forehead of the draugr too slow to react. Withdrawing it as it collapsed in a bundle of limbs and armour, Jon turned to face the undead.
Another came at him, and Jon’s hesitance at the sight of the horns growing from its helmet was nearly his death.
Jon crossed his blades in front of him to block the club swinging into his gut, only to grunt and fall back on his back at the impact. His arms stung from the impact.
Jon stumbled back and tried to stagger to his feet as he took in the new undead fucker who just knocked him down.
Taller than the rest, with horns like a goat standing erect and tall, and its left shoulder bare to show rotting but potent sinew in its exposed muscular shoulder, this draugr wielded a black and multiple flanged mace, which could be swung from any direction. The blades on the mace were bloody, and the horned draugr leered at him with an malicious, intelligent look in its eyes.
Jon felt anger surge within him, and he readied himself to fight, with dirk and sword in hand.
The horned draugr, a leader of his undead brethren, snarled deeply and cracked his head from side to side, before rolling his shoulders forward and repeating another series of painful sounding pops and crunches from his hews.
“Naradd thuuu thralaat! Ack menathalat velary at demunkorse. Draguuh Atl thaann! Vulfan et sangornos, huw racknas lett thaaan!”
Jon swung his old sword in his left wrist at the ready.
“Winter is coming, undead scum.”
The horned draugr roared, its yellow, lipless jaws opening wide to bellow at him, and it lumbered forward, bringing its mace to bear down on him.
Jon would never balk at the sight of a larger foe coming at him. Big men fell just as easily as little ones.
He threw his dirk and the draugr batted it aside with a swing of its mace. Jon ran as the mace began to rise up again.
He swung and his sword clashed with the staff of the mace. They met in the middle, and contested their might, undead necrotic strength versus the son of ned stark.
Jon used the cuff on his right hand to steady and push the blade, trusting in his bind as an unorthodox form of enamelled vambrace as he pushed hard against the horned draugr.
Crushing down on him, the draugr laughed, a rasping, throaty cackle.
Jon pushed with all of his might, but was only able to gain an inch. He had to break the stalemate. His foe was the stronger in arm alone, but strength alone did not win the contest.
Jon lifted and brought his head forward, crashing his forehead painfully against the helm of the draugr.
Reeling from the impact, the horned draugr snarled and swung his head forward to answer like for like.
Jon ducked aside, shoved aside the mace, side-stepped the lumbering undead, taller and wider in arm than he, then swung out, slicing the draugr’s right side, only for the blade to scrape ineffectually against the iron breastplate that covered his upper body.
Should have aimed lower, at his waist, fool!
Jon turned to right himself and steadied his grip with his right hand gripping his left hand at the bottom.
The horned draugr’s retaliatory swing with his right hand snapped off the damaged notched blade with one hit.
Jon had only half a second to register that his sword had been reduced to a long-handled dagger before the mangy leather boot of the horned draugr lifted and struck him hard in the torso.
Jon bit his tongue from the impact, felt the air whoosh out of his lungs as he fell, and crashed onto his back again.
Jon tasted blood and opened his eyes to see the mace come swining down to bury its gory head in his chest.
But Jon was ready. He spun away from the mace, felt it thud deep into the ground and gouge the earth instead of his ribcage.
He spun back, wrapped his free arm around the wrist of the draugr and brought his left foot up.
The horned draugr’s head snapped to his left, and the top of Jon’s foot stung something fierce, but Jon didn’t waste the moment. He pulled himself up, grabbed the draugr’s arm and mantled onto his back.
The draugr roared, and swung his arms about him, swinging his shoulders about to try and dislodge him.
Jon snarled and lifted his broken sword. He stabbed it into the unprotected neck of the undead and it howled in agony and panic.
He lifted and stabbed again, and again! And again!
The draugr roared in pain, but Jon’s stabs did little to harm him.
The head! The back of the neck! Strike there!
Jon lifted his broken sword, but the horned draugr then swung forward, and his hand holding the sword fell forward. Jon yelled and tried to pull away, but something trapped his sword in place.
Jon looked and saw to his horror that the draugr had turned and bitten the blade, trapping it in his jaws like a vice.
With a snarl of a rabid dog, the draugr bit off the rest of the blade, and Jon was left with a hilt with no sword.
These Draugr are made of hard stock, the likes of which I’ve never seen before!
With a throaty roar, the draugr brute began to swing his arms about him, and Jon felt his grip slipping. He slung his right arm under the snapping jaws of the draugr, and felt his legs swing out from the body as he swung from the neck of the horned undead.
The horned draugr cursed in his ancient language and stopped, and Jon saw his chance.
He lifted his swordless hilt and cracked the round pommel hard against the helmet with a dulled clang, denting it.
He then grabbed the two upward facing horns, vertical facing and at the top of his black helmet, and clenching hard, driving his knees into his back, he twisted and wrenched to his left, pulling with all of his might.
The horned draugr’s neck snapped and the huge warrior froze still, before it lolled about and sank to its knees. Its mouth agape, Jon saw the blue hue of its glowing eyes flicker once, before fading to a milky white hue, accompanied by a rattling sigh from the draugr’s mouth.
Then it pitched forward and landed on its front.
Jon didn’t waste time as he fell with the draugr. He rolled, picking up the mace, hefting it with both hands and brought it crashing into the skull of the nearest Draugr. It fell to its side and Jon roared and swung it to his right. The next draugr’s face shattered from the impact and it spun away from Jon.
He broke the knee of another draugr as he ducked from the swing of its axe, then grabbed the axe as it fell and threw it, sending it fanning through the air and embedding solidly into the face of another draugr.
A blade nicked his left arm and Jon yelled and swung up with the mace, snapping the draugr’s head up. It fell to the ground, never looking down.
Another fell with its chest caved in. Another sank to its knees with the mace crushing its shoulder, followed by its head.
Jon was getting tired, but the undead were still around him, and more had taken notice.
He waded in, swinging and crushing his undead foes, heedless of the blades and claws that fell on him. Only one thing was on the Northern Prince’s mind, the stark of wolf blood’s intent!
Death! Death! Death!
With one final strike, he crushed another tall draugr’s head with a swing so vicious it beheaded the undead, its skull spiralling off its neck and trailing blood in an arcing ring as it tumbles to the ground.
Jon hefted the draugr mace, feeling exhausted, but ready to fight until an undead sword found his heard or took his head. He would not back down.
But then the draugr did.
They stumbled back as something bright and orange filled the lands around Jon, and he looked up despite his instinct to find cover.
A huge burning, orange shape was falling from the sky towards him, trailing a smoking cape.
Jon ran and leapt over, a piece of debris in the shape of part of the deck of the unfortunate ship that was destroyed when it tried to get close enough to blow Rh’llor apart.
Hunkering down, Jon heard the thud of something huge landing and scraping hard across the floor.
He risked a glance, and soon regretted it.
As the cloud of dust fell, the being responsible moved. Rising to his feet, a pulse of magic snuffing out the flames that clung to his now ruined and shredded form concealing robe with a straightening motion, Rh’llor staggered to his feet and leaned on his huge sword, almost as long as he was, resting on the thin cross-guard of his smoking, black ash longsword.
His narrow shoulder rose and fell in exhaustion, yet his power did not fade. His zeal for bloodlust, as it looked to Jon, had not abated.
His gleaming red burning coal eyes, gems of blood in his horned head-concealing helm, lifted and glared out, into the field of destruction before him.
His grey, clammy grip tightened as he stared into the flames, and Jon could not help but acknowledge the irony, that the so-called patron god of the red priests now looked into the flames with the intent of an acolyte.
And as for the object of his deep-seated hated…
Jon looked to where Rh’llor had been thrown from.
A wall of flame indeed sealed off part of the field of the undead. Jon could see the Unsullied to his left battling with the draugr forces to his left, and to his right, the northmen plighted against the undead there. And right stuck in were the Dothraki, some on horseback and some dismounted to behead the draugr, the dosh khaleen remaining seated as fireballs shot from their staffs. Explosions and smoke filled the air with sharp, deafening reports of magick fire.
Then the wall of flames brightened. It grew in hunger and size as it seemed to rise up.
Then it parted in twain.
A powerful force parted the curtain of flame, and standing in the middle, was an armoured figure.
Framed in fire, blackened in make and magic, Daenerys the Dark Lord came.
Her right hand held the burning branded sword, Dark Sister, a violet streak of starlight in the smoking ruin of blood and death in the battlefield.
Rh’llor snarled and straightened up on his feet, but as he leaned on his sword, he appeared frail, and there was the slightest of quivers. The huge shroud, thick and rippling, swayed around him, yet by some magic, a glamour perhaps, Jon could not see the form underneath. It was as though the shroud moved of its own will, and worked to conceal the tall Demon Lord’s body at every turn.
He appears old, Jon realised. And his cloak conceals him, conceals a body that is frail and yet defies normalcy by his strength and composure alone…
Rh’llor lifted his sword and pointed it with one hand, its point marking Daenerys as his enemy.
The Dark Lord’s shoulders rose and fell, Jon could see it even from here, and he knew that fury had become her.
She stepped forth, and the wall of fire closed behind her.
She lowered her head and ran, bolting straight towards the Demon Lord, her blade out to the side, trailing flames behind her.
With a rage-filled yell, she leapt the halfway mark, over bodies and debris, and soared toward Rh’llor, her blade held to her shoulder to crash down on him.
Rh’llor lumbered forward, and closed their gap in several long strides of his lanky frame.
The Ash Blade clashed with Dark Sister and the shock-wave was of darkness and purple hue. Jon ducked and hugged his makeshift cover, feeling the wave like a gale blast against the shattered hull. It held, thankfully, and did not crush him.
Looking back up, Jon saw that the combatants had been pushed back from the force, but quickly recovered.
Spinning Dark Sister about her, Daenerys fell on Rh’llor like an armoured phantasm, something inhuman, beyond mortal belief as she leapt and slammed her blade down on him. The impact shoved Rh’llor back, and his feet made trails and stirred up the earth like a plough as he was pushed back.
She was far smaller than him, but her ferocity, her anger, her unbound fury, was behind her spirited, heroic offensive, and even when Rh’llor shoved her blade away and came at her with a broad sweep of his hull blade, Daenerys was ducking aside and raking Dark Sister’s burning blade across his side.
The cloak briefly ignited, violaceous flames licking at the cape and Rh’llor snarled, letting go of his sword to pat away the flames.
Jon saw the black blood soaking in to the robes as Daenerys spun and swung at his head. Rh’llor countered with a clumsy one-handed parry, stumbling back from the blow.
Daenerys didn’t stop. She advanced on the Demon Lord striking in a flurry of moves. Her style of duelling was fast yet efficient. She wielded Dark Sister with both hands for flawless control as she struck at the Demon Emperor with all of her might. Soon Rh’llor was surrounded by a whipping tail of violet flame, unable to gain the space he needed to swing his larger but heavier sword. He had brought a saw to an affair that needed a scalpel, and Daenerys was the surgeon in play.
A surgeon with the fury of a goddess of war.
Daenerys was on equal footing with Rh’llor. No objects lay in her way, and no cover was nearby for Rh’llor to retreat to in time. More of his robe was sliced, burned and cut, and Rh’llor swung wildly and desperately. He was losing, Jon realised, and his heart sung with hope unlike any that he had felt before.
Daenerys…the dark lord…she terrified him…
And yet right now he wanted her to win. He wanted her to live.
“Go on…you can do this.” He whispered, laying a hand on a bough to stop it shaking. “Come on…you can do this…you can win…”
Kill him! Kill him and let the mad reign of the Demon Lord of Light come to an end. Kill the false god! Save Westeros! You can do it! You can do it!
Before his eyes, Jon realised that he was looking at the one person who could kill a demon professing to be a god. A dragon in black armour, hellbent on casting down the monster before her.
She moves beautifully. Jon realised. She fights and gives everything to the fight. Nothing held back.
She fights beautifully, duels beautifully…
Jon realised he was panting with his mouth agape like a sheepherder’s boy besotted with a lord’s daughter and closed it.
Rh’llor leapt back, roared and swung his sword in a downward swing towards her shoulder.
Daenerys swung her burning blade and smacked the swing aside, waylaying the blade from its course. The Ash Sword struck and buried deep into the earth.
Dark Sister hissed back through the air and struck Rh’llor’s helm hard.
Sparks flew and Jon gasped. She had struck his face! She had struck the Demon Lord in the face!
Rh’llor gave a snarl of outrage, tinged with bitter hatred as he spun away from the impact with a smoking helmet.
The right curled horn fell from his helm at the hilt, and Rh’llor lifted his hand to his helm. His guard was dropped.
Daenerys, defying any law of physics that garbed a woman in plate armour, jumped, span and crashed her right boot into Rh’llor’s helm.
The impact flung Rh’llor back, and he was airborne again for a single moment, before he crashed and rolled, his limbs flailing about him as he tumbled across the ground. He came to rest by the body of another draugr commander, and Jon felt his inner boy punch the air at Daenerys’s amazing feat of strength. That exaltation was curbed however, when Jon saw that Rh’llor had still kept a hold of his sword.
He looks beaten, Jon tried to tell himself as the Demon Lord growled and his long limbs shook at the elbows, quivering with exhaustion as he tried to push himself up.
The metallic scrape of metal turned Jon’s head, and he saw Daenerys stride forward.
“I will not be denied.” She snarled and lifted her blade up, joining her left hand to the flaming pommel.
Rh’llor turned his head, and tried to stand but flailed on the body of the Draugr. He could only rise to one knee and lifted his Ash Blade up and across, using his hand to brace his sword and offer up the sword as a make-shop shield.
Dark Sister crashed and buried deep into the blade, embedding deep into the sword. The smaller blade of the Valyrian steel sword growled in hunger as the upper half of the sword drew closer to Rh’llor’s shoulder.
Daenerys had the advantage of leverage, and she pressed down with all of her strength into the strike. Rh’llor’s arms quivered, but Dark Sister bit deeper into the Ash Blade and inched closer to his shoulder.
Rh’llor’s helm distorted his cry of rage as he strained, and summoned strength in his hews from his well of power. He shoved Dark Sister up and thrust the crossbar at Daenerys’s eye. Her blade whipped down and severed the offending strut from gouging out her eye.
Rh’llor backpedalled over the corpse of the draugr and swung again with a desperate sweep of his blade.
Dark Sister sliced off the top of the Ash Blade, the severed tip igniting and burning to ash and dust as it fell.
Rh’llor’s eyes appear to grow to the size of small dishes at the feat. Daenerys advanced over the corpse, drew her burning sword up and thrust.
Rh’llor lifted his sword, and Dark Sister’s tip punched through the blade, the steel rasping through the rocky hull of the Ash blade as it pierced through the sword.
They were held in a stalemate, with Dark Sister ploughed into and wedged in the Ash Blade.
Daenerys’s shoulders shook with rage and her eyes were gems aflame with violet starlight.
“I destroyed your enemies.” She snarled. “I built for you the empire of the last dragon!”
Dark Sister hissed and crackled as the blade scraped further and further through the Ash Blade. The burning point inched closer to Rh’llor’s slashed helm. Rh’llor was holding the handle of the ashen sword in his right hand, and pushing up the blade below Dark Sister’s intrusive entry with his left hand. He was giving everything to holding Daenerys back, but he lacked the strength to stand up straight and use his superior size to his advantage.
Sorcery must be his strength, Jon realised. Fighting at a distance and letting his soldiers and lickspittle cultists do his work for him.
Daenerys’s stance was strong, with her right leg pushing her forward, and all of her weight and power behind her thrust. Sooner or later, Dark Sister would burn through the Ash Blade and bury deep into his skull.
“Yet like Viserys, you left me a shadow of my true potential!”
Dark Sister snarled as if to echo her master, and crawled ever closer to Rh’llor’s visor.
“You murdered my people for your blood magic!”
“You let Rhaegal die!”
Closer! The Ash Blade began to melt in the centre, its innards bubbling and burning bright as it melted like candlewax under the brunt of Dark Sister’s fire. Parts of it began to drip and fizzle off to the ground, scalding Rh’llor’s hands, his sleeves.
“You killed my son!” She roared.
Son? Jon’s heart stopped.
It panged in undertstanding, and bitter agony for her at those words.
She lost her child...
The fury of a dragon…fuelled by the grief of a mother…wracked by loss, with a mournful rage that would burn the world…
“You have taken…everything from me!” Daenerys roared and pushed hard, and now Dark Sister was a centimetre from Rh’llor’s face.
“Everything?” Rh’llor grunted under the strain, but Daenerys appeared sure to be the victor.
Suddenly a whining roar pierced the sky, and Daenerys gasped and looked up to her right at something behind Jon.
Jon turned and his heart froze at the terrifying sight before him.
Streaking through the air, Rudaxes held Drogon by the throat as their smoking bodies shot through the skies. They flew over everyone’s heads as they crashed down into the rocky field further inland.
Jon could only watch.
Rudaxes opened his wicked jaws and brought them down on Drogon’s skull, liberating his throat of his jaws as he held Drogon’s horned head in his grasp. Snarling, he lifted Drogon by the head, despite his swinging wings and claws raking helplessly at his neck and then brought it down hard on the ground. Lifting up, Rudaxes smashed Drogon’s head on the ground again, the black bellowing in pain as the impact dazed him, and was smashed against the ground again.
Rudaxes was a brute in combat, and fought dirty. Daenerys’s three dragons had their own styles of attacking if the accounts of their battles were to be believed. Viserion was cunning and used weaknesses to topple a creature, slaying creatures three times his size. Rhaegal was graceful and bold, attacking with bravery and ferocity to match. Drogon, the largest of the dragon brood, had his strength and his feats of terrifying physical power.
Rudaxes had only one strategy. Get in and beat down the enemy, be it Griffin, Titan, Wyvern, Skull-Rex or Kraken, until they were disembowelled and broken at the Pale Death’s feet.
If Drogon didn’t get up soon, Rudaxes was going to rip him apart, or worse, crush his skull in his jaws into a bloody pulp.
Drogon’s tail whipped about him, striking stone and earth as he wrestled to wrench himself out of the Pale Death’s Grip. The Soulson of Balerion roared in anguish and anger, and Rudaxes’s gums peeled back to reveal his blackened teeth as he pushed down and dragged him across the stony floor. They were like screaming lions, growling and filling the air with alien screeches that sent shivers up Jon’s spine.
Jon looked back to Daenerys.
Her helm was turned to look on her largest dragon being pinned by the jaws of the Pale Death, and her eyes were wide with fear.
Rh’llor was looking as well.
But not for long.
He turned his head and saw his attacker distracted, and Jon stood and pointed and cried out in warning but-
Rh’llor was moving. He lifted the Ash Blade high, wrenching Dark Sister out Daenerys’s grasp. Daenery turned back too late to see the Demon Lord grip the handle, his ebon nails digging into the handle. Burrowing, cracking…
Then with a dusty, hollow crack, Rh’lor wrenched the blade in two, and now the Demon Emperor held two ash blades, thinner but just as potently sharp and deadly in his hands.
Dark Sister span helplessly away and Jon ducked as the blade embedded into the deck and burst through an inch away from his head. The fire extinguished, and Dark Sister was simply a valyrian steel sword again.
Jon looked to see Rh’llor lift his foot and plant it hard into the Dark Lord’s chest.
Jon saw the hoof and shuddered.
Daenerys folded at the waist and fell back, rolling painfully as the hoof left the dragon breastplate.
Jon looked at the Demon Lord.
Standing over her, Rh’llor now wielded two ashen blades, with an aura of magma and dark ash flowing forth in an ethereal dark mist.
Daenerys held her chest, but crawled with an enraged snarl to her feet.
Lightning crackled at her gauntlets as she pulled her hand away. but Jon saw the blood drooling through the pitted visor and he knew then that she was hurt. She was unsteady on her feet, swaying slightly.
Rh’llor was not done yet.
He lifted his left blade, the one with the huge nick in it where Dark Sister had burned into it and spoke.
“Nābēmagon, tyvaros sȳndor!”
Daenerys yelled from the bottom of her throat and ran forward, her taloned gauntlets sparking with violet Targaryen lightning magick.
Something flattened the grass, a fell cloud, ash, shadow…It sped across the grass.
And then Daenerys was stopped, and her yell was smothered by a startling choking sound.
The armoured dragonknight’s magick was extinguished, and her talons instead went to her throat, clawing at it.
Jon’s heart pounded in his chest.
He was afraid. Not of the dark power that had been unleashed, but of seeing Daenerys being hurt, for her suffering.
But what spell did Rh’llor utter to cast on Daenerys? Why couldn’t she break it! Why can’t she get it of it or call forth her dragon power!
He saw it.
At first, he was staring at the dragonknight being held so cruelly in the air like a puppet.
Then a blink of his eyes, his heart tripling in beats per second.
And he saw it.
Holding Daenerys by the throat, a unnaturally tall, bald headed man, if it could be called a man at all, for its physique was larger, more leaner, more menacing than any beast or demon Jon had heard of.
Red slanted and wide eyes above a row of sharp needle like teeth triggered the primitive instinct inside Jon to run. To curl up on the ground in fear at the sight of huge eyes and gnashing teeth, to flee from a predator and be overwhelmed by terror.
Its entire form was covered by a sheen of shadow and ash. Black and grey. A miasmic flow of skin on its human-like body conjured shapes and forms that Jon did not want to ever see in his mind, lest he go insane from the staring at them too long. Maesters used such obscure, haunting black images on plain papyrus in psychological counselling and deduced their patient’s mental health from the images they believed that they saw.
Its face was frozen in a perpetual, malevolent, deranged grin, and Jon felt fear drive a stake into his thundering heart as recognition emerged within him. This was the first time he had seen this, but this sight before him confirmed his worst nightmares and fears all at once.
The Grinning Ghoul. The Grinning Man. The Spectre of Ash, the Ashen Fiend and the Shadow of the Demon Lord Rh’llor himself.
Others had a simpler name for him, like some monster out of a children’s scary book.
The Man of Shadows.
And it had come out to play.
Its lower jaw shivered, and black drool trickled in a wet hanging drop as the Fiend pulled Daenerys’s closer to its hideous face.
If Rh’llor’s voice was the honeyed wolf, the Man of Shadow’s voice was the cannibal wolf. A hideous, deep snarl, like three warped voices ripped and cracked on a voice of sandpaper speaking all at once.
“You grieve for a dead son of a mother too weak to protect her own child.”
Daenerys’s legs kicked helplessly, and her talons pierced into the ash skin of the monster holding her.
But she could not escape, and she looked up with terror and defiance at the fiend grinning down at her.
Having no lips, it spoke through its teeth with a wormy tongue.
“Your precious Baely’s fate was your doing, and the fate of your dragon was something even you with all of your power, all of my gifts I gave you, could not prevent. Your incompetency damned the ones you loved, and now it will see you destroyed!”
Her legs began to stop shaking, and Jon’s horror only grew worse. No more was fear rooting him to the spot. Only the surge of more adrenaline. Of action…of rage…
Jon did not understand the being manifest before him…
But he would be damned if Daenerys, a woman he barely knew yet already came to admire, was about to die because of his lack of care.
He turned to Dark Sister, checked to see that the fiend and his Emperor host had not seen him.
They hadn’t. Both of them were focused entirely on Daenerys, as the roars of Drogon and Rudaxes rang out behind Jon. Rocks and claws scraping through the earth and tails slapping the ground issued out from behind him, but Jon would not waste time to look.
He crept around the desk and looked at the hilt of Dark Sister.
Reaching up, he grasped the sword, set his foot against the deck, and pulled.
The sword’s hilt was finely leathered and he knew that the flames on the pommel and the crossbars were sharper. Dark Sister was sharper. He had to be careful.
He pulled, straining in his muscles, pulling with his shoulders and back and pushing away with his left foot against the broken deck before him.
Jon feared, at its initial refusal to budge, that his plight would be hopeless, or worse, he would alert the Emperor and his ghoul to his presence.
Then it slid out without complaint.
Jon suppressed a gasp of elation, and crouched low and turned back to the scene before him. He was protected by another piece of burning wreckage, albeit much smaller than the one he had hunkered down behind before.
He had to move fast.
He crouch-walked to the other side and retrieved his draugr mace.
“Man of Shadows.” Rh’llor spoke. “The Dragon Queen has insulted my authority and disobeyed my divine word. As a traitor to my rule, and as a assassin who has made an attempt on my life, she must be made an example of.”
The Man of Shadows craned his head to his right, and thankful that he did, for if he turned left to look at his master, he would have seen Jon.
Nevertheless, he ducked down, and peered through the flames at the fiend as he turned back to Daenerys.
“You will die here and now. Your Drogon will die, and his sacrifice of body and soul will strengthen Rudaxes beyond all measure. Your betrayal at this opportune time was for nothing. Your soldiers, and your Dothraki, will die here for nothing. And it will be all…entirely…” The grinning fiend leant close to the struggling dragonknight.
She was growing limp in his hand.
Her hands fell from the fiend’s wrist.
Jon knew many things, if not a few things at most.
He knew that he was brave, braver than sense required, and it got him into more trouble more times than he was proud of.
He knew that he was not one to stand by when any injustice, any crime, any discord, was in place before his eyes.
He knew that, for all his sins, he was a fool. That he lived for a world that rewarded the good and the just and honourable with strife, sin, temptation and treachery.
And he also knew that if he was to die doing the right thing, he would pass into the forest of the Old Gods with no regrets.
So Jon did what his father had told him to do, and what he, a Stark of bastard blood, had been raised to do since he was a teenager who discovered humility and responsibility, and a love of duty and righteousness at a young age.
He got involved.
Breaking from cover, Jon saw a small piece of burning wreckage, placed on a small mound, and ran to it.
His left foot touched the wreckage and launched him into the air with one push.
Jon soared into the air, and angled Dark Sister down as he fell towards the Man of Shadows.
He didn’t need magic words to make it set on fire. He just hoped his half conceived ballsy stunt would work and prayed for a quick death if he failed.
At least buy the Dragonknight time to escape.
He closed the distance, as the Fiend looked up at the movement and dropped Daenerys to turn and screech at him.
Dark Sister sang through the air and stabbed through the right side of the fiend’s chest. The fiend’s scream of pain was demented music to his blood-lusting ears.
The momentum of Jon’s leap and his thrust propelled them back. The Fiend was heavier than Jon realised and his weight aided him in being ploughed through the earth.
Jon let go of Dark Sister, still impaled in the Fiend’s chest and now pinning him to the ground. He was straddling the fiend’s torso, and briefly held the advantage.
“Syndor!” Jon heard the voice of the emperor rasp out. He sounded like he was in pain. Jon didn’t care.
He wanted to find out if this Man of Shadows really was tied to the soul of the Demon Lord.
He lifted his stolen mace, and brought it down hard on the screaming, snapping ghoul’s face.
The first blow crumpled the left side of its face and shattered some of its fangs.
The second caved in his brow and pulverised its left red eye.
The third blow shattered the demon’s jaw like rotting bark.
Jon lifted his mace and yelled out a terrible war-cry. This thing had to die. This thing was a monster that hurt so many, killed so many, tortured so many and broke their minds and their souls so that they knew only fear for the rest of their lives.
It hurt Daenerys.
It. HURT. DAENERYS.
Jon brought the mace down.
But the mace didn’t strike.
The Grinning Man’s left hand had shot up and the mace below its bloody head.
Its talons were longer than the Emperor’s, Jon thought, as he looked down and saw the right hand of the fiend open.
A reddish crackling sphere of burning magick struck him in the chest.
Jon flew back.
Flew and rolled on to the ground on his side.
Shaking the daze away, feeling his world spin, Jon pushed himself to his feet, wearily and shakily.
The burning spell…he felt as though he would throw up.
He did. Black bile spewed out of his mouth, blood and black red.
Flashes of red bloody jaws ripping into human flesh and a baby crying ripped into his mind. Jon held his skull and yelled as a piercing migraine that made tears fall from his eyes stabbed into his brain.
“The Dragon…three heads…”
“His name…is Aegon…you have to protect him…promise me Ned…”
A blue rose drenched in blood…
“I will bathe Westeros in blood, and devour the souls of the innocent!”
A boy in black, books under his arm, pale blond hair, dark brown, inquisitive eyes…
A earth-shattering harmonious roar of a dragon…green wings in the sunset.
Approaching a woman dressed in blue, her hands holding her swelling belly, the sun in her moonlit hair…
“I will sift you like chaff from the wheat…Dragonknight…”
Then another voice, old and young all at once. Jon thought himself mad that he recognised the young voice, rising above the crescendo of raven calls in the background, and the flapping of feathered wings.
“This story had been told before! And will be told again and again! You cannot win, Lord of Light!”
Fire surged forth and bathed him. And from the flames rose a black wolf and a dragon of white-
Jon gasped and pushed himself upright, shaking his head to clear his head.
He could not make sense of what just happened.
What…what the fuck was that!
At the hideous, wretched snarl, at the sound of bones snapping and the grim sound of flesh knitting and reforming, Jon looked up.
The Man of Shadows was standing, shakily to his feet. The flesh of his ruined, deformed face was moulding, changing. Twisting back to normal. Bone knit back in place and flesh grew to cover it, but the fiend’s face remained bleary, wild eyed and bloodied.
“You…can see me?”
It asked, almost innocently.
It drew up to full height, and Jon realised that it was taller and stronger and more powerful than anything he had faced before.
Its eyes narrowed, as realisation and malice crossed its red eyes.
“You…can see me…” The Ashen Fiend snarled, now with hateful realisation.
And with a gruesome, wet sound, the claws of the Fiend lengthened and extended out.
They were now the size of daggers, each one curved and sharp and pointed.
Jon looked around for his weapon.
And saw the mace to the left side of the fiend, and metres away from…
Jon looked to his right.
Emperor Rh’llor was on his knees, trembling. His split sword were stabbed into the ground to prop himself up.
Blood dripped out from the bottom of his helm, and a pitiful, eerie groan came from his helm.
“S…Syndor…return…return to me…” The Emperor rasped out. “Now!”
But Syndor did not listen. His mind was bent on ripping Jon to pieces with his curved talons as ebon as the starless night.
“You…hurt…me….” The Man of Shadows snarled.
A low, rumbling growl, and the sound of something hitting the earth, striding the ground in a series of deep, heavy steps sounded behind him.
The Pale Death. The jaws of Rudaxes opened and crackled with red magick as the grey face, more hideous with its array of scales and hardened spiky carapace along his jaws and face, and red eyes, crimson suns in the oily black pits of its eyes stared down at him.
Two rows of serrated teeth on the upper and lower jaw opened up, and Jon smelt blood and ozone and sulphur from the hellish jaws before him.
Jon knew he did not stand a chance.
The four horned head of the Pale Death, its neck crowned by rotting spines where fins should be, lifted up and opened his horrifying jaws, roaring down at him with horrific, psychotic, monstrous wrath to unleash upon him, defenceless and afraid. The Pale Death craned his neck up, to lunge and bite down and swallow him whole.
Robb, Arya…Father…Forgive me…
I love you… always…
Jon sought the image of the pregnant woman with white hair and the blue dress on the beach.
He really liked that sight for some reason.
The dragon of the devil growled low and thrust his head down.
Heat and bloody jaws descended on him.
And then a black screaming mass roared and ploughed into him, setting its jaws against his throat, and causing the Pale Death’s jaws to snap a metre away from his head.
Rudaxes roared in surprise as Drogon, covered in bloody bruises and missing a horn painfully torn from his head, snarled and shoved Rudaxes onto the battlefield.
Jon heard the commotion of the Dothraki and the Unsullied, and an oath sworn by a Northman, and he prayed that none of his forces, and the friendly forces, were crushed as Drogon and Rudaxes rolled across the battlefield, trampling and kicking away bodies as they vied for supremacy.
Righting himself under Drogon's assault, Rudaxes planted his feet and kicked Drogon away. Standing to full height with his wings out wide, screamed at him loud enough to make Jon’s ears ring. His throat at the back of his mouth glowed and red lightning began to crackle in his maw.
Drogon’s roar was the promise of burning, rising fire and vengeance and he bounded on his wings and kicked off with his back legs.
His short glide propelled him into Rudaxes as he lowered his head and rammed into the Pale Death’s Chest. Rudaxes spewed his red lighting fire, a crackling, burning, flashing blaze of lightning and fire that remained in the air as it faded to nothingness, starved of blood.
Drogon’s charge carried both of them entwined in a deathly embrace of wings and claws, flying through the ground, sending draugr squealing off the edges, as the two dragons careened off the edge, and rolled away.
The howl of Rudaxes carried all the way down to the bottom of the cliffs above the din of battle.
Jon panted, stunned at the terrifying, amazing sight he had just seen.
But he did not have long to admire the heroic feat of Daenerys’s dragon.
A railing screech sounded, and Jon looked up to see the Man of Shadows with its talons out, sprint at him, then leap at the air, talons splayed to stake him into the ground.
Jon closed his eyes, and accepted what may well be the death his foolhardiness had earned him.
The woman in the blue dress turned and smiled at him.
He thought she was so beautiful, with his child in her belly,
And violet eyes shining at his approach…
Do leave the usual kudos and feedback!
Also if there are any star wars fans, I wrote a short poem/prose fic of Kylo Ren a short while ago and would love it if people swung on over and gave their feedback!
Love to my fans!
Chapter 5: Stranded on the Beach...in our dreams...
The Ashen Fiend made one fatal mistake when attacking Jon.
It should have killed Daenerys when it had the chance.
Title inspired by BB's theme from the upcoming Death Stranding Game. Addicted to the emotional power of the song by Ludwig Forssell with Jenny Plant's lyrics. A lot of inspiration and coincidental lyrics with ideas in my head and in existence!
Listened to tracks from Berserk as well to get me in a demon beatdown mood. Slow Friday today. Here, have Dany beating the living shit out of the Man of Shadows for the Weekend!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The railing, mocking scream of the Ashen fiend filled his ears, gnawed against his skull, drowned out the world in the dread noise of the demon about to skewer him with his claws.
Jon dared open his eyes at the last moment.
The claws raked down towards his face.
Jon felt one slide through his brow, down over his eye- one eye please, if you must take only the one leave me one to see the world, I can live with one eye- and down his cheek, travelling further down to his heart-
Something slammed into his chest. Smelling of ash and the tang of female sweat mixed with rust and metallic blood, a tail of white braided hair brushing his face soft and fragrant-
And he was falling back, his face stinging, dripping red into his eye, burning, like hot steel wire dividing his face-
And he was on his back, wincing from the impact, and the demon was over him, its limbs like long branches pinioning in the wind, slicing at the air, raking down at him, its bald head whipping about them, black fangs clacking and snapping, flecks of black spittle spewing from its mouth, snarling and snapping for his soul-
And held by the throat by a plated metal gauntlet.
Black obsidian armour held fast the Ashen Fiend by its neck, and its legs kicked and its claws rent and raked the steel vambrace that held it so.
But it did not let go.
The grip tightened, and the screams of the beast turned to squeals like a porcine screaming before the slaughter. Rattling, wet gurgling growls escaped its throat as it began to choke under the suffocating grip.
Jon looked down the arm.
Beheld the winged pauldron and the fully encasing armour, from cuirass to fauld to greave.
The Dark Lord clenched the demon hard by the throat. And she radiated fury.
“Your last mistake,” Her slightly muffled voice snarled, and Jon saw the mist escape her visor as she spoke, floating up into the smoking skies above. “…was gloating over your kill, before you finished the job.”
“If…you lay a finger on me…maggots…will crawl from your eyes…and your friends eyes…for your treachery…dragon…whore!!!” The Ashen Fiend rasped through its enclosed throat.
Jon saw her left free gauntlet, mailed and ridged on the knuckles, sharpened tips on the plates above the fingers, flex into a fist. A small Warhammer, a blunted thagomizer in its own right.
“You die today.” She growled under her helm.
Her left fist raised, and her right hand lifted the kicking demon up higher up. Its feet scraped against the ground, raking through it in vain.
Her first punch crushed the right side of the demon’s face and rendered the entire side toothless.
Her second punch crumpled the entire lower jaw of the beast and shattered it like glass.
Her third punch crushed its gleaming right eye into paste. Grey tinged black maroon blood spurted freely from its ruined face, wet pulp red glued to her fist as it pulled away.
The demon screamed and Daenerys forced it to its knees with her right hand.
Then she continued to beat him, her left plated arm rising and falling like one of the pistons in Captain Davos’s skyship.
The volley she unleashed with her left hand condemning proceeded to render the wailing fiend’s head into a bloody pulp. Constant, consistent, paced, deliberate, strong, unabating, unmerciful.
If Jon’s mace fucked up the demon before, Daenery’s left hand was utterly destroying it. Her body twisted with every rise and fall of her fist, powering her strikes as she hammered into the Man of Shadow’s face and skull. Its screams were now just choked rasps and only the meaty, crunching sounds of the dragonknight’s fist striking its fanged face could be heard.
Daenery’s fist flagged, but only after she had concentrically punched the Ashen Fiend’s face so hard maroon vermillion was spraying every time her fist crushed the bone in the demon’s face.
The grey demon lunged its right hand upwards. It lanced forward with its hand and stabbed its talons, its fingers straight like an arrow. In a moment’s window, it punched through her throat its claws. Blood soaked into the mail as one talon punched so deep it pierced out the other side of her neck.
“NO!!!” Jon yelled in horror. Red spattered her braided tail under her helm.
The dragonknight faltered, and her legs went weak for a moment.
Then her left bloody hand, sticky red with gore wedged in the plates, lifted up and clenched the demon’s hand through her throat so hard the talons of her own gauntlets were piercing the flesh and bone of the offending limb.
“Wrong…choice…” was her response.
She wrenched it out, not at all bothered by the ruined rings of mail or the blood flooding out the holes in her neck when she removed the hand.
Then she ripped aside and down.
The Ashen Fiend’s right hand snapped bloodily at the wrist and bone pierced the skin where the shard of bone broke free from its holding.
The Ashen Fiend lifted its mangled head and howled.
Daenerys let go its throat, but only to focus her attention on the offending right hand.
She twisted the right hand aside so that its elbow was facing, lifted her left hand and with an open palmed strike, smashed into the elbow and snapped the limb in two. More bony shards more blood, sporting gruesome from its mangled limb. She was dismantling the limb that had dared to touch her.
Heedless of the writhing demon, grabbing at its head, shaking its head in agony, Daenerys grabbed the arm above the snapped elbow, and with her weight behind it, twisted her hand forward. The demon’s right shoulder popped and cracked as it broke free of its socket.
With the back of her left gauntlet, her right hand holding the demon’s lanky forearm, she back-fisted the demon’s mangled head, cracking it to the left side in one strike.
Then she pinned it to the floor, set her left boot to its ribcage under its broken arm, and pulled with both her gauntlets clenching the arm below the elbow.
There was the briefest of resistance, then like a lyre’s strings pinging and snapping, tendon snapped and muscle tore, and Daenerys ripped off the Ash Fiend’s mangled right arm with one pull of her hands.
The Ash Fiend wailed piteously in its screeching, warped voice, and was silenced when Daenerys stepped off the demon, and swung the limb with the clawed end hard into the demon’s face.
The impact sent it rolling, maroon blood spilling from its torn shoulder and into the grass watering it as it rolled. It came to a rest and with its left hand, began to crawl, its left talons now sinking into the earth for desperate purchase as it tried to crawl away.
Jon felt his hairs stand on the back of his neck. A small gust of wind, his hackles raise as Daenerys lifted her right hand, and Dark Sister flew from the ground and into her hand, called by her magick command.
She strode up to the Ashen Fiend as it tried to stand, lifted her sword with both hands up to her shoulder, and brought it cleaving hard through the back of its left knee.
The Man of Shadows screamed in agony as the Valyrian Steel sword amputated its leg at the knee.
Then Dark Sister rose, spraying black blood and came carving through its left leg.
Now with its legs reduced to stumps, the Ashen Fiend screamed, blood weeping from its mangled face as it writhed, and continued to crawl. Crawl and moan in the direction of its master.
Jon could not tear his eyes away from the sight, even to see if the Emperor was faring even worse now that his supposed soul had been butchered and carved up like a capon.
Jon looked up at the dark armoured warrior, and saw the splattered gore staining her obsidian armour of war.
Her eyes were violet fire, but they seemed to subside, their glow diminishing. Now only ice in her eyes piercing through her eye slits, and seeped into her voice remained.
“Crawl to him.” She spoke, her voice detached, unaffected by her brutal exertion.
“Beg for mercy. Beg for safety…”
She threw down her sword, thrusting it into the earth, the blade wobbling slightly from the impact, and began to slowly walk aside the crippled fiend.
“Like my son…begged me to keep him safe. Begged me to chase his nightmares away no matter how much I reassured him, no matter how many times, I held him and stayed with him on the nights that I could. The nights, that I could escape your master’s conquest and the bloody work he bid me to do in his name.”
She was now flanking the demon to its left, still limply crawling, whimpering below her.
“My son died, afraid of you. All his life he lived afraid of every shadow he ever saw, because of you. Because of how afraid you made him. My little boy, and you made him suffer.”
She leant down, grabbed the right leg with her right hand, and the scruff of its neck with her left hand. She lifted with her legs, hoisting the demon, gargling as it was turned on its back, facing the sky in the dark lord’s grasp.
“You deserve so much worse.”
She then placed her right leg back, sank to one knee, and brought the demon’s back down on her left knee.
The Ashen Fiend’s back folded in half across her leg with a muffled chorus of bone snapping, spine snapping, ribs cracking, splintering as Daenerys broke the demon’s back on her right knee.
The Ashen Fiend, The Man of Shadows, gave one last wail, breathless at the air being shoved out of its chest. Its gangly left limb reached up, its hand trembling as it reached up for the sky, wracked in agony.
Then its hideous, mutilated face sagged and fell to its left side, and Jon saw the light, the pulsating glow in its malevolent gaze fade, and a wet sigh drag from its throat. Its left arm followed shortly after, falling and sagging on the ground.
Daenerys looked at the broken demon in her hands, staring at it with a single-minded intensity, as if she was willing the entity, daring it to move and come alive, writhing and screaming in her arms.
It didn’t. Like a snapped doll, it sagged dead in her grip.
She remained like this for what felt like a minute, before she then lifted herself to her feet, and discarded the corpse like a toy that no longer displeased a spoilt brat.
Jon panted, gasping at the events that he had just witnessed. A knight had torn apart and killed a demon before his eyes, and the world was on fire around him.
A mother…avenging her child…
Daenerys stepped back, away from the corpse, and laid her head back, and Jon saw the violet eyes slowly wink out, as she closed her eyes.
And just stood there, ignorant of the chaos that raged around her.
Jon crawled to his feet, pushing himself up, willing life into numbly stunned limbs, and stood, watching her.
Around them, the noise of battle raged, but it was far enough away that it would not spill over into this place.
Made holy by two warriors of legend clashing, and the fool who stood in stupefied audience.
Jon would not let this silence take them. He could watch her, lit by flame, shadowed by smoke and stained in soot, sweat and blood, in his memory forever, as she seemed to stand still, dead to the world.
But compulsion made his lips move, and his heart bid him speak the name of the terrifying goddess of war before him.
The Dragon Queen.
Not my lord. Not your grace.
At this, his words, his utterance, that felt plain in his northern brogue…
…She lowered her head slightly, and turned her head slightly towards him.
The shadow moved.
The corpse, and its severed limbs…they all blackened to wholly pitch, and slid across the blackened, bloody grass at a speed Jon did not believe to be earthly or natural in the slightest.
Jon watched it go, gliding across the floor, a sound that sounded and felt wrong to hear in its song as it flew-
And soaked into the knees of the Emperor.
The smoke further cleared, and Jon’s heart hammered with fear in his chest as he saw the Emperor, his scarred helm sans a horn glaring with fiery demonic venom at them.
He was breathing heavily, panting, and blood dribbled from the bottom of his helm, staining his robe.
The brutal punishment that Daenerys had inflicted on his shadow had taken a severe toll on him, but now that the two halves were reunited, before the shadow could be permanently killed....
Rh'llor lifted his left hand, the sleeve of his robe falling away to reveal a feeble looking limb, riddled with red sores and dried pus stained, scabbed skin along his wiry limb.
Quivering, it raised into the air, open palmed. Then the fingers closed as if clutching something,
And with a gesture of great effort, he threw it forward, like the strongman threw the weight in a show of strength.
A distant groaning was heard. A great machine, no, a construction, like a building listing, of stone and metal before it collapsed, that was the only way Jon could think to describe it.
Then the smoke parted, and the burning prow of an ironborn galley came, groaning and roaring as it flew, towards them, towards the earth, ripped from the skies. Jon couldn’t tell if it was one of the ones Rudaxes had destroyed, or if Rh’llor by fell sorcery had simply plucked, ripped the ship from the sky down to the cliffs.
All Jon knew was that it was coming towards them, and that it was coming fast.
“Ha…ha ha ha…a hahahahah! A hahahahahhahahahaha!” The Emperor…the Fiend Supreme, the Demon Lord, was cackling at them.
He would crush them and smear them into the dirt, sweep their ashes away from his path to conquer the world.
His cackling subsided, only for him to speak as death hurtled from the skies towards them.
“And it all…”
Fire trailed and hugged close the ship, burning as it came. The sails, the ropes, the engines, the men on board, all burning, all screaming.
It fell through the skies towards them.
Daenerys simply stood there, and closed her eyes.
Jon was running. He was running and tripping and placing himself in front of Daenerys.
He moved on his own will, limbs, soul burning alive, fire kindled, blazing inside.
He reached out his left hand.
“Vaedar! Suvion se perzys misagon ilva!”
Fire that burnt.
Fire that froze.
Both entwined in a cyan, sapphire glow.
And shot forth from Jon’s left hand.
The prow was now two hundred metres above them…closer still.
And the magick surged forth and struck the prow head on.
The fire enveloping the immolated ship was erased by blue, pulsating flame.
Stop…just…Jon thought desperately…stop!
The ship grinded to a halt, and then, as geysers that froze and burnt and glowed erupted in an asymmetrical, random pattern across the ship, Jon felt the weight bare down on him, felt the immense power of the ship, the dark power flinging it, driving it down on him.
And Jon screwed his eyes shut, growled, thought of Daenerys, thought of her son…
Thought of the pregnant white-haired woman on the beach in his dream…
…and with a mighty yell, raging against the evil power baring down on him, he dug deep…
And pushed back.
The ship tore apart. Magick, his magick, ripped into the mighty hull of the ship, ruptured the erratically failing Aether Drive deep in the ship’s core-
And the galley exploded.
Jon spun, pushed off of his heels, and tackled the dragonknight into the ground. The ground smashed his arms under her armour, painfully sandwiching them, but he covered her visor, her face with the whole of his chest, and held and prayed...just…prayed.
He felt her right pauldron move, and he heard and felt the plated metal shift and scrape and tug at his bare skin as Daenerys lifted her right arm, hold out her hand to the sky at the sapphire and crimson fire ball reigning destruction down on them, a crushing wind set to smash them flat by the very force of the explosion alone.
It hit him before he could hear what she said to shield them from the explosion, and Jon lost all sense and sight with his arms around Daenerys, gripping her tightly as to draw her back from the veil of death itself.
I’ve got you…he blindly thought to himself, hoped she would hear…knew she couldn't...
And willed it anyway.
I’ve got you…
On the beach, Jon raced down to meet her, as she turned in surprise, joy lighting up her melancholic, cherubic features. Violet dancing eyes, burning for him in joy.
Ghost was sniffing at the woman’s bump, checking to make sure the baby was ok.
And he tipped her face, hallowed in white silken locks up to meet her lips with his.
She smelled of sweat and metal.
And Jon knew then that he had done the right thing…
in saving her from darkness…
Will see about concluding this over the weekend or early next week!
Love to my fans!
Chapter 6: Wolves And Crows!
Jon's use of magick may have saved his and Daenerys's life, but the spell has left him drained and weakened. Bidding Grey Worm and Missandei to fare him to the company of the Unsullied, Daenerys can only hope to salvage a day which has not been won with Jon safely in her captivity.
But Euron remains at large, and now that Rh'llor has retreated, he seeks an opportunity, to finish the exhausted troops and kill the Dragon Queen!
As Jon tries to escape and assist Daenerys, an remainder of Rh'llor's forces attacks the Unsullied, and Daenerys's soldiers are at risk!
Alright another chapter!
I am not participating in the Nanowrimo! I just have a free couple of days to bang out another chapter! Will also use this weekend I think to make some important changes and make some interesting announcements!
In the meantime enjoy! I thank Star Wars Rebels, Berserk and Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice as inspiration.
Euron being a huge dick and insulting Daenerys.
More backstory revealed!
Shameless fluff! Fans of the Silver Queen will like this chapter too!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“I’ve got you.”
Jon blinked his eyes open.
He felt drained.
He felt frail.
He had been leeched by Maester Luwin before when he was ill, and what he felt now was like those days, only much more severe.
His mouth was dry, and his orientation was sluggish. Torpor seeped into his mind, and his vision was hazy and distorted.
He was being carried.
Someone was holding him, holding him under his shoulders, and under his knees.
The metal of the armour was warmer than he realised, brimming with glowing, potent energy, throbbing underneath like hot blood flush to the skins surface.
Jon blearily looked at the hand holding his left shoulder.
Black, segmented talons, sodden maroon red, held his shoulder. Another set held his left knee.
He looked up to his right.
Despite her smaller size, the dragonknight was effortlessly carrying him. A strange sight, t’would seem to others, Jon could not help but think. A smaller woman carrying a rugged, dishevelled and slightly taller man in her arms like a babe.
“Be still. You drained your body’s resources in your attack. You need rest.”
You just stood there…you were willing to let anything kill you after you broke the man of shadows on your knee…
Were you so deprived of hope and resolve that you would let Rh’llor kill you?
“The…the magick-” He tried to speak.
“You spent yourself out of a misguided need to protect me. There was no need for you to risk yourself so foolishly.”
Jon may have been recovering from passing out, from doing what…whatever it was he just did, speaking the words he spoke…but he was not so out of it as to feel chided like a boy.
“I…the ship, Rh’llor…he was going to.”
“Be calm.” The knight spoke through her helm. He couldn’t quite see her eyeslits from here, not unless he craned his neck up, but he smelt the sweat, the steel, the tang of blood and salt and ash, rich and smokey.
The ash fiend smelt like nothing, Jon remembered. Only the cold. Only the void of death.
“I’m taking you into the Unsullied Ranks. Commander Nudho will see you back to Sunspear. You will be safe there.”
“Safe…?” Jon hazily replied.
She’s…taking me…to Dorne…
“We’re leaving. Now.” The knight affirmed, and continued to walk, carrying him.
A strange sight…Jon thought again. But I mind it not.
I love that she is strong…
Strong enough to kill demons and bare me to safety…
The groaning of something massive, oak creaking and cracking, burning pieces splintering and coming apart, caught Jon’s ear, and he looked behind the winged, elaborately embroidered pauldron, over Daenerys’s shoulder.
The wreckage of the ship, bathed in cyan fire and red hued flames…
The explosion…it happened right above them.
Daenerys had shielded them both, so they were safe, but if the Emperor had been caught in the blast…
The wreckage moved.
Daenerys stopped, hearing that as well.
She turned around, and Jon could see the flaming wreckage shift, as something began to lift it from underneath.
The wreckage rose, and as blue fire and burning red cascaded down like a waterfall, Jon saw the being lifting it.
He was on his left knee, his left side facing them, lifting his left arm, uninjured from the tether between him and his shadow.
He rose, lifting his hand, and the wreckage held by his dark power rose with it, until he was standing at his full, imposing height. Even with his helm scarred and his right horn missing, he appeared a sight that something only the ravings of the mad would conceive. An eldritch fiend arisen from the gates of the seven hells itself.
Shrouded in flame, Rh’llor gently cast his arm back, and then dropped his hand.
The wreckage fell and came apart as it crashed behind him. The wind stirred up from the fallen ship fanned the robe about his lean, tall frame, widening and warping and distorting his figure, before subsiding to its normal, fallen-winged shape.
His eyes, Jon noticed, were extinquished in his helm, and his robe was now blackened and ripped from the shrapnel damage of the ship exploding above him and nearly pulverising him.
Then they snapped open, and Jon’s heart was pierced by immobilising dread as they burned into his eyes.
The helm looked to Daenerys, and then at Jon.
His eyes widened slightly, as he appeared to make a sudden discovery.
His left hand flexed into a fist, bit into his skin so hard the nails burst through the hand and bled.
His ram-helm glared back at Daenerys, and he felt her arms tense, as if she may cast him aside or drop him to rush at him head on as she did before.
But then she stopped, and her grip on Jon’s shoulder and knee tightened, and she took a step back.
The standoff concluded, Rh’llor lowered his head like a bull ready to charge.
“Look to your sins, dragonknight.” He snarled demonically at her, and lifted his hand again, and Jon braced himself for another storm of sorcery to be conjured forth by the demon lord.
“The night is dark and full of terrors.”
Swooping through the smoke, Rudaxes’s pale form with ethereal red eyes swept over all three of them, as he stretched out his talons. Daenerys turned Jon’s head away, her helm shadowing his head as Rh’llor’s outstretched hand caught a talon-
And he was off, ferried away, dragged behind the Pale Death as he was lifted into the sky. Rudaxes roared a hellish scream that rang out like thunder across the burning cliffs of Whiteharbour.
A beat of his wings, and he was carried into the skies, and disappeared beyond all perception beyond the smokescreen of the inferno battlefield.
And Rh’llor was gone. Escaped.
Escaped…and now…betrayed and angered…
Nothing would stop the Demon Lord from accelerating his plans.
Faith was broken now, and Westeros would no longer be in a time of forced, unsteady, terror-stricken peace, so long as Rh’llor lived.
Now, war would be inevitable.
“W…Winterfell…” Jon tried to speak. “My brother…my home…I have to…”
“It is no longer safe for you to seek out Winterfell.” Daenerys spoke, and turned to carry him away.
“But my home!” Jon protested. “My family! You can’t-!”
“My path will lead me north and if I am able to allow you to save your home, I will give you every chance.” She growled through her visor. “But as we are now, we can do nothing. Right now, I must take you away and see you healed.”
Run…hide…go to the secret places in the Gift…
Winterfell, the North…
Rh’llor may not be able to set foot…
But he has other means, and a hell—cursed dragon to ride…
And dragons fly fast…
“Please…help me save my home…please…” He begged her.
“I promise.” Daenerys firmly insisted. “But I won’t return you to the North until you are recovered and strong enough. You need a teacher. You need training. If The North is to be safe, if my quest is to be completed…”
“Jelmazmo!” A gruff, deep voice spoke in Valyrian, interrupting her before she could finish, and Jon looked up to see Commander Grey Worm, Turgo Nudho in Valyrian, cut from slashes to his arm and his cheek loping towards them. His shield was gone, but he still held his spear, glistening with draugr blood. His helm was gone too, revealing a hard set face of beige skin, with a shaven head, black roots coming through on his scalp, glaring at him with dark eyes filled with concern and suspicion at Jon.
A snort and a heavy galloping sound, and Jon desperately hoped that it would be Robb, but he looked up and saw a copper skinned man dressed in animal furs dark and thick. He held an arakh, and his long hair was braided in a single tail behind him. His eyes were shrouded with black ochre, the mark of a distinguished warrior.
“Blood of my blood.” The Dragonknight nodded at the khal, and he bowed reverently in return, and Jon’s awe at the warrior carrying him only grew tenfold.
“Commander.” The limbs holding him lowered gently, and Grey Worm nodded and stepped forward, offering his left hand. He took Jon without protest and looped his left arm over his shoulder, supporting him and taking his weight.
“Thank you.” He breathlessly spoke.
“The Dragon Queen breaks from the Emperor and takes a strange prize in conquest.” The Khal commented in halting Westerosi, as Grey Worm assisted Jon. Ahead, he saw a rag-tag group of Unsullied, in shield formation.
“The Dragon takes whatever she desires as her trophy.” Daenerys replied without hesitation, before her voice took on a sober tone. “The betrayal has extracted a heavy toll. Speak to me of losses. How many number my riders?”
“Thirty ride the Night Lands. Fire has taken the field in which the bodies lie. It is good. Many of us ride with the Great Stallion, but the Dosh Khaleen remain strong in number. Our mothers and shamans drive back the dead ones. They are retreating through the devil’s chasm.”
“And what of the Crow’s Eye? The Warlock? Where is he?” Jon turned to see her fully facing the mounted khal.
“Many who approached him were killed, or made like the dead ones for us to slay.” The khal growled. “He eludes us and flies as a swarm of birds. He seeks something, or someone.”
Daenerys glanced back at the destroyed field before her. The sounds of battle and the snarls of the draugr seemed to be subsiding.
She lowered her helm, and her shoulders rose and fell, as deep conflict appeared to take hold of her.
Then she lifted her hand, and Dark Sister flew from the wreckage into her waiting gauntlet with a metallic clink sound.
She met the khal’s eyes again.
“Retreat. We have lost too many. Rh’llor’s time will come, but not today. Rally the bloodriders and shelter the Dosh Khaleen, blood of my blood. We live to fight another day.”
“Khaleesi.” He spoke, and pressed his left fist to his furred shirt.
He turned his horse and rode forth into the battle, raising his arakh and belting out orders in his Dothraki tongue.
Sure enough, answering whoops and yells from the bloodriders and the screeches of the dosh khaleen came in reply, and the battered but alive army of riders rode forth from the smoking ruin.
They rode on in a rolling thunder of hooves and past them, towards their Unsullied comrades, yelling in festivities, some carrying the skulls of draugr and other trophies like swords, while others cried out the names of their brothers in anguish, and others clenched their grieving friends shoulders in solidarity, expressing sentiments.
They worshipped the Great Stallion…Jon reflected…and believe that warriors killed ride on to hunt and revel through the endless grass seas, lit by night, joined in brotherhood.
Others rose their swords and cried out “Khaleesi!” as they saw their queen.
Daenerys rose her armoured fist in reply, and their cries of love and loyalty and praise soared up into the heavens.
Jon could only gasp at the power she commanded from the fierce warriors.
She grows more wondrous and terrible every second I am with her…
“Away, Ionos.” Grey Worm spoke, gently urging him on. “Mhysa will not approve if you do not rest.”
The screeching of bats and the flapping of wings. Jon turned to see a shroud of bats form and coalesce as they flew to the ground, and then form and join, outlining a human like shape, that twisted and grew in dimension until a beige-skinned woman with a messy mane of hair and a black robe manifested in front of the Dragon Queen.
Missandei the vampire fell to one knee before Daenerys.
“Mandia, forgive me. I lost Ionos in the battle. I failed in protecting him, but Turgo Nudho was attacked and I-”
Daenerys knelt, pulled up the vampire and drew her close to her chest in a desperate hug.
Missandei’s eyes widened, and her arms lifted in surprise, before they wrapped around the armoured dragonknight.
Jon himself was surprised, aghast at the sheer love the dragonknight gave. Still and stoic one moment, then throwing her arms over her dear friend the next.
She pulled away from the hug and held her hands in her gauntleted own. So gently in the same hands that butchered the man of shadows.
“Mandia, all that matters is that you are safe. Ionos lives and my khal and my dovahgedys live. That is all that matters.”
Missandei nodded, and her eyes sparkled as tears fell down her pale dun cheeks.
“I’m sorry, there was just, so much going on-“
“Peace, my sister. Battle throws all plans into disarray. I am only glad that you are safe and that the sun did not creep through the clouds.”
Her three-pointed helm turned to the south, over the smoking cliffs. “We must leave for Dorne and reunite with the others before Rh’llor prepares his retaliation.”
Missandei glanced at Jon, and her lips appeared to open as if a question was about to fall from her lips. But then she decided against it and met the dragonknight’s eyes and nodded.
“As you say, mandia. I will see to Ionos.”
“He needs only rest and salve for the cut on his face.” Daenerys spoke as Missandei bowed, lifted up her robe and walked towards Jon.
Jon nodded as Missandei lifted his right arm over her shoulders and helped to carry him. Jon felt warmth bloom at the care he was being given by these two strangers, but did not protest. He was already beginning to feel some strength return to him and he drew on the sheer gratitude of being alive, willing his feet to walk faster.
His legs were shaky, but he knew that a days rest would see him strong again.
Strong enough to help her…
Strong enough to help Winterfell…
A series of slow, deliberate claps issued from behind them.
Jon turned, as did Grey Worm, and Missandei.
Daenerys turned as well.
Emerging from the smoke, finishing his slow clapping, Euron Greyjoy swaggered out.
Gone was his earlier fatigue, though he still looked a right ugly fucking mess. Sweat and blood matted his hair, and his hands…they were browned with dried blood. His one eye leered at them, grey and steel, twinkling with a tiny nimbus of green magic. His cufflinks on his wrists and ankles remained, but they appeared to not bother him, having wrenched their chains apart not an hour before.
He grinned under his overgrown moustache, his beard reaching halfway down his neck.
“I thought…that he would never leave.”
He parted his hands, and clapped them again.
At the final sound, a small wave of dust flew from his hands, and the smoke lifted.
A wall of draugr stood behind the lifted smokescreen.
All armed to the teeth with sword, axe, mace, all dead with grey skin drawn back over their sharp cheek bones and grey hair whipping around their hair in wisps and strands.
All of them gazing, snarling with lipless faces and blue eyes down at them.
They stood amongst the wreckage, and Jon realised they must number within thirty, thirty five, no forty possibly. Perhaps more behind.
Movement caught his eye, and Jon looked to Euron’s left.
Amongst the throng, the draugr parted to reveal another huge draugr, with a horned helm, and hefting a huge, crescent bladed silver greataxe, dragging a person by the back of their shirt.
It threw the person forward on their face, stood alongside her, and then lifted her by the scruff of her jacket.
On her knees, bloodied with a swollen eye, Yara Greyjoy struggled under the iron grip of the draugr gripping her shoulder, forcing her down where she knelt.
Euron turned to glance at his niece, amused, if the deranged glimmer in his eyes and his manic grin were anything to go by.
He marched up to her, and as her hands were bound, she could do nothing as Euron pinched her chin and forced her face up to look at him.
“I told you…that you should have killed me when you had the chance.”
Yara ripped her face away and snapped at Euron’s hand with her teeth. Euron whipped his hand, and tsked at her, shaking his head at her.
He then lifted up his head, tapped at his right chin with his forefinger, then decided.
He looked at the draugr lord holding her.
“Cut out her tongue. Take a few teeth as well…” He considered again for a moment. “Actually, take all of them. Can’t take any chances.”
“Daarrvrattt…” The Draugr hissed, and swung his axe into the ground. It then wheeled around Yara, gripped her right shoulder and drew its right fist back.
“No…” Yara growled, yet it ended on a whimper. “No…”
Jon looked away, awaiting to hear the screams and the sound of bone hitting flesh-
Euron lifted his hand, and the draugr brute stopped. Yara’s harsh panicked breathing could be heard behind the immense body of the brute.
He turned and glared at the person who called his name, as did Jon.
Daenerys had spoken, and she stood facing the necromancer.
Euron spoke aside to the draugr.
“Throw her aside. We’ll pick her up once I’m done here.”
The brute growled, lifted Yara up, its grip piercing into her shoulder. Yara grunted in pain, clenching her eyes shut as she was picked up and then tossed to the ground. She lay where she fell, moaning and holding herself. She looked hurt. Really badly. She needed a maester’s attention.
Euron paid her no mind.
He strolled two steps towards Daenerys and gave a malicious, rotten smile of his lips. He had his left arm crossed over his chest and his right hand held up to his face stroking his beard.
Daenerys remained where she stood, and Dark Sister was in her hand.
Euron stroked his beard again, and his one eye blinked at her, before he spoke, wagging a finger towards her.
“Of course…why settle for a traitor who’d bite my cock off, when I could have a real prize to add to my treasures. The Dragon Queen herself.”
The bastard, the rotten, evil bastard, made a show of looking her up and down, before he continued.
“I’d hate to have to string you to the prow of my skyship. You’d still get to fly though, just like your pretty dragons. Just…you’d never come down, except when I get bored and want to amuse myself. I certainly hope I won’t have to take your teeth as well. Would love to see a full set of teeth when I tell one of my girls to smile.”
Daenerys was motionless, and Dark Sister didn’t rise up to open the whoreson from his gullet to his groin.
Instead she replied with-
“It was foretold that you would be here.” She spoke with steel in her voice. “Our long-awaited meeting has come at last.”
Euron smirked, and opened his arms out.
“Well…here I am…in the flesh, Dragon Queen.”
He turned, and brazenly began to pace, up to one side and then to the other as he spoke, one moment facing Daenerys’s left, then walking to her right.
“I never…got to thank you, for killing Victarion, did I? That…insufferable old windbag, mourning over me taking his salt-wife, then picking up that fat old red priest and becoming a fanatic to his unholiness. He never saw value in conquests, only burning the women he fancied in tribute to his dark power. I gave him that old dragonhorn, did you know? I suppose of course he wouldn’t credit me for it, but I gave him the Dragonbinder. Me.” He pointed to himself.
“I did. Of course, I knew that archaic mummer’s trumpet wouldn’t’ work, not on your dragon bond. But it must have been so horrifying to him, when you and your forces invaded his tower on Pyke. I heard he threw everything he got at you. Krakens. Titans. Scores and scores of reavers, all burned to ash by your three dragons. And then when he used that horn…”
He stopped to chuckle to himself, before he carried on.
“I wonder, when you two fought on Pyke, axe to sword, fire to lightning…what it must have been like, for him to face his death at the hands of a woman, and a warrior. Duty bound and old fashioned to the end…it must have made him boil with rage to know that once again, I came out on top.”
He stopped and stood in front of her, and gestured with a glance at his hulking draugr forces.
“I always…come out on top.”
A distant explosion was heard, and Jon looked up as did Euron to the falling, burning ships. Yara’s ambush fleet fell from skies, completly decimated by the fury of the devil’s dragon.
“But oh to have a dragon…” Euron remarked, and Jon looked back to see that he was thinking to himself.
“I had an egg, once…and then I got bored and drunk and threw the useless fucker into the sea. Fuck me, did I regret that. I heard it’s great for the male ego to ride a dragon, to have a snarling beast under your hips, like an extension of your cock, ready to fuck everything that it sees. No wonder you must love it. Riding them to feel like the big dogs, huh? Like a man, huh? I mean, your dragons are the only thing that ever made you special. You…what? Walk into fire to kill yourself and your dragon eggs, only to rise naked and holding three baby firebreathers suckling at your teats? Mother of Dragons…now that must have been a sight to see…” Euron remarked, with a filthy edge to his rotten voice.
“You gained following because, what? You perform a few miracles, freed a few dung-humpers and can’t die by fire? Like some false messiah? And then you sold your soul to the devil in the ruins of Old Valyria to awaken your so-called dragon knight powers. You lacked what all rulers in this world have…you’re not a man, and you have no power. So, like any whore, you latch on to the nearest step-up and climb the tiers of magic, so that you can match the warlocks and the sorcerers of the world. And, if you tell me that you joined the Demon Lord and helped him rise to power just so he could make that dry womb of yours quicken again, I’d have to call bullshit. Kraken…piss.” He spat out at her.
What the hell is he talking about?
“When the sun rises in the west and sets in the east, when the mountains blow like…dust? Something superstitious like that? That’s what the witch cursed you with, after she killed him, and your unborn child, and left you barren. Your first one anyway. I reckon you surround yourself with your khals, and keep them close…just…how close I wonder. I suppose that can be answered by how much do you miss…Drogo, was it?” Euron spoke, brazen and callous, provocative in his voice.
Jon bristled, something in him awakening to growl with vengeful, hateful fury at the Greyjoy.
And if Daenerys doesn’t take his head in one swipe, Jon would. He’d find the mace and visit on him the same kindness he did on the man of shadows.
His head was reeling from the revelations he was hearing though, and Jon felt the dizziness take hold of him as he struggled to come to terms.
Sold her soul?
First husband? First child?
“But no…I see all, Lady Daenerys.” Euron spoke, waving his finger at her. “I know what lurks in that heart of yours, what wraps its coils around your mind, your very thoughts. You’re a killer, Daenerys. Inside you is the spirit of a murdering, conquering dragon ready to be unleashed. Willing to burn and enslave and annihilate and crush any who dare defy you under your boot, just like your ancestors did! I can help you realise your full potential, far more that that withered old goat man ever could, if you come with me. Join me in my bed and learn secrets your pretty little mind would scarce comprehend.”
There was silence from the Dragon Queen, at first.
Then she spoke.
“And how would joining you atone for what you did to my son Rhaegal.”
Euron rolled his eye and scoffed derisively, and Jon admired Daenerys’s composure in front of him. The necromancer would be on the floor holding his teeth if Jon was in Daenerys’s place.
“Oh pish- you really are that sad as to call those freaks that hatched with you your children, because the dragons are the only children you will ever have?” He chuckled to himself, before he glanced at her out of the corner of his eye.
“But it needn’t be that way.”
He slowly lifted his hand, and grabbed the cloth bind that was wrapped around his head covering his left eye. He pulled it off with one tug of his thumb.
Jon’s gut instinctively recoiled at the sight of Euron’s eye. It wasn’t gone. No black crater where his former eye used to be existed.
Instead, a huge, bulging, beady black eye glared out. It was like the eye of indeed, a raven or a crow, except it was monstrous, bulbous in its size. It looked compressed, and Jon saw the vessels, black and forked, bulging against the bony frame of the eyehole.
“I am called the Crow’s Eye…” Euron spoke. “…because when I first came to the North, I was captured…by the Draugr. Not by the White Walkers, but by the Dead Ones. The monsters arisen from the honoured dead of the First Men. I heard tell of a mysterious place in Brandon’s Gift made by the Night King’s Wife, if you ever believe that sort of shite, that ignored the rules of time and even physics. A place that had doors that could take you to different places in other worlds, other realms…like this one. So naturally, I wanted to see such a place and plunder it for my own gain. I wanted to go to the Pyramid of Sothoryos to steal the Ogthenium crystal until some shadowpriest beat me to it. So I betrayed my oath as a pirate and sought to plunder in shore.”
His right eye blinked. His left one didn’t.
“By the time the cold killed off my party, they came. My boys, cept, they weren’t my boys at the time, they were someone else’s. They plucked out my eye, and threw the thing, like a little bloody chicken’s egg, into a well. Then they hung me from the tree. They took a rusty old spear and ran me through from my right side, and I hung there. For nine days, stewing in my piss and shite, the crows becking at my eyehole. And yet I didn’t die. I didn’t die, but I saw things, learned things, discovered things that no mortal man would ever discover. And when they cut me down, the draugr bowed to me, and called me master. Master of the One Eyes, Master of the Crows, the Glutter, the All-Seeing one, because my eye is in a well of waters that connected to the ancient place.”
He opened his arms, and they became wreathed in a nimbus of emerald lightning, glowing bright and forking around his wrists and hands like sentient creepers, vines thorn’d with magick.
“This eye is connected to the one in the well, and it has seen wonders. Things your mind couldn’t even imagine. Worlds and sights and wonders and stories and tragedies and tales that would shatter reality and its laws as you know it.”
He took a step closer to Daenerys.
“Would you like to know…”
“Which worlds your son still lives in?”
Daenerys’s left fist thrust forward and crushed Euron’s nose in one punch.
He flew back with a short mewling scream against the throng of his draugr, who, listlessly watching the action, served only as bowling pins to be knocked over by their lord’s body, as it smashed into them by the force of Daenerys’s punch.
Jon did his best to keep his breathing quiet, because while he knew Daenery was strong, he knew, just knew that that would not be enough to kill or even knock out Euron.
And true enough, it wasn’t.
Lifted by an unseen force, Euron lifted himself to his feet, and floated back towards the front of the draugr.
He sniffed to clear the blood dripping from his mangled, broken nose.
As the fallen draugr staggered to their feet, Euron’s touched the ground as he ceased his levitation spell.
And he became shrouded in darkness.
This darkness was unlike the terror of shadows the Rh’llor unleashed. It appeared to come from his body, and wrap Euron in an obscuring cloak of darkness.
The shroud grew bigger, and Jon caught the crow’s eye in Euron’s head, which he could still make out despite the opague layer of smog over him.
It was rising. Growing. Straining, and more smoke came, and covered all of Euron in its blanket.
And he began to speak again, yet as he did, his voice began to change.
It grew less and less like his man voice, and instead seemed to stretch, and warble and rake against its own vocal cords.
“I should have known better. Known better, than to offer an alliance with a weak-willed woman like yourself…”
He grew taller, and Jon could pick out a black, rippling cloak, widening and folding over his arms, which were lengthening and widening, pale human skin stretched like the dead things that followed the necromancer.
No…not a cloak… Jon realised.
Jon saw that the eye, and the distorted outline of the head that it was attached to, was growing, twisting, and the head was lengthening to that of a narrow, beak like shape. A huge, curved bill, like the carrion feeders.
A Crow’s head.
Euron’s breathing grew heavier, stifled, rattling.
Then he lifted his arms, crossed them over his face, and parted the black smog.
What stood behind the smog in Euron’s place was not human.
It was a tall man like creature, almost as tall as Rh’llor. Its long legs, with three talons on the front like a running bird on the bottom were narrow and bare, and its hunched body was covered in downy, thick jet black feathers.
Its arms were also bare, and held three fingers, each with straight, sharp nails. Not as lethal as the Shadow’s talons but still looked unpleasant to be clawed with.
The back of its head and neck were covered with a mane of black feathers, but its skull was completely bare. The beak, and the face in which two beady, black eyes glared out of, was fleshless. A mere bony protrusion atop a body otherwise covered in flesh and fether.
It thrust its head forward and screamed. It was a hoarse, croaking, piercing scream, like the stretched out call of a crow in the mouth of a man.
And when it spoke and pointed at Daenerys, it had a red narrow tongue to fit its narrow beak that could fit a human’s skull in its bill.
“I am the Crow’s Eye! I am given wisdom to rule and know all in this world, so that I will always conquer my enemies, and sit on a throne built upon the skulls of my foes! I am the greatest necromancer in the world, I the master of crows, lord of carrion! I will teach you the error of your ways in spurning me, Dragon Queen. And I will visit on you the same suffering as I did Rhaegal!”
The Crow’s Eye thrust its hands behind its back, and then drew two black iron blades, crackling with green energy. They were curved blades like an arakhs, but smaller, and more sickle-like in shape like a druids.
“Black of iron to slay the fey! Crackle lightning green to boil dragon’s blood! I’ll take your pretty head after I’ve had my fun with it to Rh’llor, and buy my place as his Right Hand in his new world order!”
The Crow’s Eye lifted its sickle blades up, to cross in an x-shape, and locked eyes with Daenerys.
The draugr rose their weapons and the big one with the great axe roared the loudest and began to thunder across the battleline, towards Jon and Grey Worm and Missandei.
“Get him to the back! Get him to the back!” Grey Worm roared. To the Unsullied as he marched Jon towards them, as a company broke from them to march in file past the three to cover their retreat and meet the draugr brute, the commander yelled at his men.
“Misagon Ionos leda aoha abrar!”
The Unsullied parted, the front men stepping aside, the others behind grabbing at him and yelling at him in muffled valyrian under their pointed helms. They pulled him further and further along back until he was in an elevated clearing within the group, on which, Jon realised as he turned, he could see the whole of the battlefield behind him.
Beyond the smoking ruins, in an elevated segment of the cliffs, stood a girl on a distressed horse. The bay was whipping its head up and down, shaking its head, distressed at the sight and smells before it.
And once Jon caught the sullied, blue hue of the dress, he knew who it was.
Jon waved his hands.
“Get out of here now! Go! Go now! Go! Run! Run!” He yelled frantically at his sister.
Arya please…do as Robb says for fuck’s sake, please…
Another man rode up, bedecked in furs thick. Short tussled brown hair. A furious expression on his face.
He was yelling at Arya and telling her to come. Arya was shaking her head, scanning the battlefield, looking for something.
Then she saw him. Her mouth moved as she pointed excitedly at him, and Robb turned and squinted and…he saw him too.
Jon didn’t need to be close to see the conflicted desires in Robb’s face.
Jon felt tears well up. He was exhausted, drained, so tired from his use of magick.
He had seen so much of death, and dealt in it for one day.
Horror of horrors, but if he were to see Robb and Arya die…
He looked down onto the field.
The Unsullied were giving it their all against the draugr, but the dead ones appeared possessed by a new strength, a new hunger to see their enemies broken before them. They howled and railed and crashed against the shields of the fighting Unsullied.
Some began to break through the lines.
And Jon realised that this battle was one in which his side, the side he had been given over to, stood to lose and die horribly at the hands of the necromancer.
Jon sought Daenerys on the battlefield, eyes searching vainly above the sea of blue eyed dead faces and the gnashing of their yellow teeth.
And then he saw
Daenerys was still stood in front of The Crow’s Eye, and the dragon knight and the crow demon stood in front of each other, unmoving in another face-off.
Then Daenerys lifted Dark Sister, and her sword ignited in violet flame, as she angled it and pointed it at the Crow’s Eye.
Then she charged.
But the Crow’s Eye was wilier than Rh’llor.
When the purple blade came slicing through the air towards his skull, the Crow disappeared.
He apparated into a murder of crows, and the flock cawed and flapped and enveloped Daenerys, and Jon’s heart seized in terror as the purple blade, her blade, her light, swung desperately and wildly to free herself from the crows.
Then the flurry lifted, and Jon could see the blade swinging, smoking, severed corpses of crows falling by threes, fives, a dozen, and yet they still held her.
They carried her away, over to the field of burning ship wreckage.
Then The Crow’s Eye reappeared, let go of Daenerys, and kicked her in the torso hard.
Daenerys folded in half as her armoured body fell down into the flames bellow, smashing through a broken mast as she fell.
A small plume of flame issued from where she landed.
The Crow’s Eye hovered and lifted its sickle blades and cawed savagely into the skies.
And then it descended into the infernal pits to hunt for its prey.
I have to get down there! Damn my reserves, I’m not letting her die!
Jon tried to look for a way out, a gap between the shield-baring Unsullied through which he sought to break through.
There were none.
A hideous, raking caw rose above the din of battle from the burning field behind the draugr.
And Jon saw that there were more coming through. More draugr. Too many draugr armed with blade and axe and other foul weaponry to bring to the slaughter.
Jon heard the yells and the whoops of the Dothraki to his left, and turned and watched as they returned to the fray. There were fewer now, and less of the Dosh Khaleen. The rest must have hung back to protect the most important of the Khalasar Shamans.
Then he felt a chill as he remembered that Drogon had not been seen for a while now. He feared the worse.
A woman’s voice. Jon looked down at Missandei stepping up the small hill and grabbing his hand with her cold hands.
“You need to stay out of sight! We have to get you further behind the company!”
“I’m not some bloody child!” He protested before he pointed at the burning fields. “Daenerys is in trouble!”
“She’ll be fine! She’s come through worse!” Missandei tried to assure him, before she looked back at the battlefield.
“I think…” She had to hesitantly add, her brows creased with worry.
She shook it off and tugged on his arm even more. “Please, Jon, I know this isn’t what you were expecting, but you need to come with me now-”
“Zokla vala! Zokla vala!” A great cry went up amongst the Unsullied.
And the Dothraki cried out and their horses screamed as a feral, bestial snarl sounded from the crowd.
Bodies missing their sword arms, heads and legs flew trailing blood. Others flew in random directions with their guts trailing out, or missing their lower bodies altogether.
“Ver mahrazh! Ver mahrazh!” came the cries of the Dothraki. A woman screamed.
Jon knew not the tongue of the Dothraki. But he had a limited understanding of Valyrian. The complete texts on translating Westerosi to Valyrian and vice-versa was one of the few books his home library didn’t have.
And a huge black hulking, muscle bound and maned shape with pointed ears and burning, dead yellow eyes leapt roaring from the Unsullied, maw and claws dripping bright red.
It fell down on Missandei, and she gasped and froze in horror.
Jon didn’t think.
He turned and shoved Missandei as hard as he could down the hill, and looked up in time to see Blackjaw’s left hand curl in to a fist, burning into his cut face as the hand pummelled him hard in the jaw.
Jon’s world went black.
Massive thanks to Berserk- such as Indra from Sword of the Berserk soundtrack and BB's theme for helping me dig into the emotion of the story and helping me come up with foreshadowing!
Do stay tuned and as always drop a review and kudos if you liked it!
Chapter 7: A Dragon's Wrath, A Soldier's Might!
Daenerys contends with the Crow's Eye, a devious and highly skilled necromancer and fighter, but will his powers be too much for even the Dark Lord to handle?
Jon awakens to encounter the werewolf of the Demon Lord, Blackjaw, but is saved in the nick of time by a new and trustworthy ally!
The Battle continues!
Apologies for the irregular upload schedule. Some weeks will be more productive than others but I am using the free time I am given for vital reading.
Get back to you soon with hopefully the final, final conclusion of the Dragon Queen Preview!
This chapter begins with a Dany pov and ends with Jon's pov as well!
I should also warn that there will be potentially upsetting dialogue that discusses the torture of a beloved character. It may hit too close to home for those, like me, who hated Season 8. Do not worry though, I also believe in justice, and said villains will get what they deserve.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Snarling, Daenerys pressed her gauntlets to the earth and pushed herself shakily from the burning ground.
She could feel the splinters, jammed and burning, pricking into the gaps of her chainmail. Oak, birch, broken and driven like small stakes into her skin.
Her body warmed, sweat and blood, hot and damp under her shirt and breeches, as her dragon blood immediately began to heal the wounds and push out the splinters, threading them through the holes of the mailed shirt she wore under her obsidian plated armour.
Her right gauntlet closed and the comforting grip of Dark Sister, its magick flame briefly extinguished, made her arm whole again.
Pushing herself up on her left knee, Daenerys scanned the cage Euron had trapped her in.
Cracking her neck, she rolled her wrist and heard a reassuring snap as the dislocated hand reset in place, and her magick soothed the frayed tendons and nerves.
Damn it all.
She hadn’t planned to take on Euron.
She did not leave the necromancer out of her calculations. She was not forgetful, not so short-sighted as to be ignorant of one of her mortal nemeses, whittled down to the Crow’s Eye, and now supplemented with Rh’llor and his demon cadre, who was on the field of battle with her.
Why would she?
Euron killed Rhaegal. And the red priestess she interrogated before she died from her injuries foretold the presence of a bat and a crow on a white cliff. The bat was aflame, with burning wings and a body of ash.
Rh’llor and Rudaxes.
The crow had beady eyes, and his beak was bloody and dripping, with one eye instead of two, the other ripped with only a black hole and a red string dangling from the socket.
She had hoped, that with Rh’llor’s wrath brought to bear, that Euron would be caught in the destruction brought down on the battlefield. The hellfire spell he used should have burned Euron and his draugr to ash, and that would have been the end of it and her dragon son avenged. Then she would have all her energy and focus on killing Rh’llor.
Rh’llor demanded her full attention, and could not simply be taken on with the Crow’s Eye at the same time. He was simply too powerful. The moment he calmed down, the moment he forsook his pride and took valuable seconds to breathe, to plan, to think…
Daenerys had to keep him on the defensive. To stop him from thinking, to provoke him with a slight, disable his sword cane, and then goad him into a fight in which she may hold the advantage. It was the only way, or at least as she thought of at the time, that she would go toe-to-toe with the Emperor and live.
Daenerys’s chosen form favoured offence, a crushing, ceaseless barrage of strikes to overpower, set off balance and devastate the enemy. Rh’llor’s strength could potentially overwhelm her, so she focussed on evading his Ash Blade and when possible, to deflect a strike and cause him to over-extend himself. Then go in for the kill.
But Rh’llor proved persistent, and foolishly, her concern for Drogon when Rudaxes pinned him almost fatally distracted her. Long enough for Rh’llor to turn the tide. To release his shadow upon her.
The man of shadows…its hands on her neck, needle like teeth, his red, burning eyes…
If…the hostage…if Jon hadn’t-
Focus, she chastened herself. You’re alive and you survived.
As for Jon…
The fool…one does not simply attack the man of shadows…
Or blow a burning ship out of the sky before it could crush her with some kind of…unknown pagan magic…while she was…paralysed…exhausted…
Ripping apart the demon…thinking of Baely…
Maybe…if she closed her eyes and let the inferno take her…
Her quest would be over…and she would be with her baby boys again…
But Jon’s intervention, foolhardy as it was, reminded her of her quest. She couldn’t save Baely or Rhaegal if she was dead. And she needed the hostage…Jon…She needed Jon if her plan was to work. If her quest was to succeed.
If she was to somehow overcome the veil of death itself…
So while Daenerys had anticipated Euron’s presence in the exchange, she hadn’t expected events to…transpire, as they did.
In an ideal world, Yara’s poison would have been enough. To weaken Rh’llor, or even kill his spectral half, the man of shadows. In the end however, all it did was temporarily incapacitate him.
Daenerys couldn’t take any chances and simply use Rh’llor’s temporary vulnerability against him. Deviating from a plan that had taken months to prepare, rehearse for, meditate on, ponder on the myriad ways it could all go wrong and what to do in such circumstances was unwise and foolish. Being reckless and spontaneous when confronting a demon lord was merely asking for suicide.
And Yara had doomed herself and her own men when she blithely stepped up to the Demon Lord and insulted him, then threw a manticore poison grenade in his face.
No earthly poison or feebly conceived alchemy such as which Yara foolishly attempted could slay a Demon Lord. Weaken him enough to feel mortal perhaps, but not kill him.
Daenerys had a detailed and well-learned index of Euron’s capabilities as a sorcerer and what he was incapable of.
And killing Rh’llor would, even in his top form, been too much of a challenge for him. Attacking Rh’llor while he was vulnerable would only make the Emperor panic, accelerate his recovery and visit painful, horrific retribution on the perpetrator for even daring to strike at the Lord of Light Undisputed.
Rh’llor could only be fought as an equal if there was any hope of defeating him and his shadow. He could only be overwhelmed, beaten down and exhausted of his magick, before going for the kill. Removing the head was, to Daenerys, the surest way of dealing with a fiend claiming to be immortal as Rh’llor did.
Yara’s gambit, as bold as it was brazen, was doomed to fail. Such plucky behaviour may have served the Pirate Queen in her raids, her courts, her battles, but it held no place in matters concerning demons and magick.
Rh’llor had survived worst. In fact, not only had he survived worst, but he had taken the worst of what assassins, sorcerers, warriors had thrown at him and repaid them in kind for what they sought to wreak upon him in their short-sighted, desperate mortal means of warfare. Trickery and deception were hopeless tools against a master of such arts, and of them Rh’llor was the greatest. The most devious and the most sinister.
His implied frailty were the rewards of a battle between a long-fated adversary that left his body frail and appearing to be infirm. Incomplete. His use of a cane that concealed a sword and his apparent leanness of frame were weaknesses turned to his full advantage. His injuries were the only parts of him that never fully recovered and healed only to their default crippling state, and yet they only limited his terrifying supernatural feats such his strength and his sorcery, not reduce them.
So indeed, Yara would have ended up writhing on the ground clawing at her own eyes, as well as her men, had she not brought Euron to summon the draugr and provided a battle-ready fleet to rain fire on the battlefield.
And even if Rh’llor had not lied about not bringing his dragon and broken his word to Robb Stark, the foolish king in the north who believed like his father that all promises were ironclad oaths to be fulfilled, lest death strike down the dishonoured dead where they stood, Yara’s plan of forcibily coercing a sorcerer who was her family’s bitterest enemy was short-sighted and desperate.
For what motivation would her prisoner Euron truly have to kill Rh’llor, when he, a shrewd survivor and a traitor by trade, would stand to benefit more if he served the Demon Emperor, and reaped the rewards of such devilish service.
Some men didn’t need to transform to become monsters. Euron’s theatrics with shape-shifting was mere ceremony, the ribbon tied on the reaving, raping, morally destitute and vile man that was there all along.
And now that man was duelling her, as she continued to register the sounds of boots thumping on the ground and the soul-less hunger of the draugr as they stole past her nearby.
Around her, a field of fire. Of shattered wood and steel from the wreckage of the destroyed battlefield.
Bloodstained and broken bodies of the dead and the undead littered the field, arraigned with limbs out-flung, limbs crushed, limbs severed by blades. The pieces of the destroyed ship lay here and there about her on the battlefield, shattered and jutting out like a splintered ribcage protruding from the flesh of the earth herself.
And all around her, fire burned. Red flames licked at the corpses of boat and body alike, and Drogon’s fireball crater left a smoking crater of black-tinged flame, licking about the gouge in the earth. It was any wonder that the whole cliff hadn’t broken away and collapsed into the ocean bellow from the impact of the weapons of war that besieged it.
Fire and Blood.
Worry for Drogon not resurfacing from the cliff face, after he had heroically tackled Rudaxes, using the pain of one of his left horns torn from his skull to channel his black furnace rage distracted her.
She lowered her blade to reach out through the Tether, reaching her mind out, groping for him, feeling for his draconic, animal mind, of primal rage and fierce devout love for her…
The sound of the wind whistling as something cut through it, metal, spinning, sharp-
Daenerys span and batted aside Euron’s sickle blade, venom green crackling magick on the black iron blade nearly blinding her as she cleaved it aside with one two-handed swipe.
She put too much energy into the swing, and she desperately sought to re-centre her balance as the second one came whipping towards her back.
She spun around and swiped upwards, both blades singing from their deadly kiss as she deflected the spinning blade.
Daenerys watched as the blades span away, before a spell appeared to resume its hold on them, and they defied gravity, spinning lethally through the air, swooping low and away from her as Daenerys watched them fly back-
Into Euron’s clawed hands.
Lowering the spitting blades, the sorcerer of crows tilted his beaked face, which consisted of most of the helm, and his dark eyes twitched about him before they focussed on Daenerys.
“Are you so willing to court death, that you would strike at me, master of crows and corpses, after exhausting yourself against the Demon Lord?” His bill opened and closed, occasionally clacking together as his thin tongue flapped in his bone beak in his grating,
Daenerys’s lips peeled back into a growl under her helm and she lowered her head so that her eye slits, which only concealed her vision around the corners of her eyes, was aligned with the crow demon.
“You flail with illusion magick like an amateur to conceal your frailty.”
Spinning Dark Sister in her hand, she began to advance towards him.
“Compared to the demon lord, you have nothing of which can be marshalled against him. I knew fully well that you would betray Yara at a moment’s respite. And I am willing to admit… I should never underestimate the survival skill of a rat.”
Dark Sister’s sword sung as warm, violet flames embraced its tang and edge whole like a lover, and now Daenerys strode towards her foe with sword aflame.
“You are such a rat, Euron Kinslayer.” Daenerys felt the battle rage surge up inside her. Her dark power would be brought to bear on the wicked for her righteous cause, starting with Euron. She failed to kill Rh’llor, but she would atone by slaying Euron and pulverising his skull by her hands.
She drew closer and made ready to swing. One clean swipe through his neck to send that oversized head tumbling from its shoulders.
“And even rats, like men, die…" She spoke and began to raise Dark Sister for a killing blow.
"Valar Morghulis, Voljes Laes. Rhaegal’s soul demands justice!”
Euron did not move, or raise his blades to defend himself. Why? Why was he not…?
Daenerys was in no mood for caution. She raised Dark Sister, joined her left hand to her pommel and swung.
Dark Sister fwooshed through the air and hit-
One crow’s bifurcated, smoking corpse fell to the ground.
And the flock broke from Euron’s body and disappeared.
The sickles did not disappear. They spun and flew upwards, swinging apart from each other in a wide arc as Daenerys turned to follow them-
-and saw Euron’s true form floating in the sky.
A huge chunk of burning wreckage, wide enough to flatten a quarter of the dovahgedys company, adorned with ruined struts, jutting beams and walls of an interior cabin was hovering above him.
The spinning sickles rejoined his hands, glinting in the fiery light from the battlefield, and Euron threw his hands down.
The wreckage groaned and flew downwards towards her.
Daenerys growled and leapt, crouching low and pushing deep. Her boots left the ground and holding Dark Sister by her side, she reached up her left hand and latched onto a deck strut. And then ran.
Ran up the burning piece of ship thrown down on her, ducked a beam, vaulted over a snarl of wood, pushed deeper, kept running-
And leapt again, clearing the ship just before it crashed onto the ground, the heat of the fire burning behind her as it struck the earth, propelling her leap as she raised Dark Sister’s burning blade, Euron lifting his blades to protect himself-
Dark Sister swung and struck nothing but the air. Euron’s form dissolved into another murder of crows, flapping about her-
-But Daenerys knew Euron to be a dog, one that all his wiliness, loved to torment his foes with repeated tricks to frustrate their mind.
Daenerys spun, using the momentum of her swing and reached out with her left hand as she turned.
Twisting about, Daenerys’s left gauntlet hit resistance in the flock, and she gripped hard. With a roar, she swung to her left, completing her full circle spin, and let go. Euron, having been grabbed by the foot he sought to break Daenerys’s back with, was flung screaming back down to the battlefield.
He hit a burning remnant of the ship’s prow and ploughed through, stirring up burning earth as his body raked through the earth.
Daenerys span, let the fall take her, and landed down on a clear patch of earth, bracing herself by her left knee and her left fist. Moving away from the slightly deeper hole she made, she strode forth towards the Crow’s Eye as he staggered towards his feet, slightly dazed from the impact.
Weak. Unable to handle the hurt he is so eager to deal out.
“My dragon son was brave. He was noble, and kind and always willing to see the best in others even when they couldn’t see it. Of my three children, he was the most protective of Baely. Do you have any idea how much pain you caused, when you killed him!”
The Crow’s Eye had nothing to say. He just tried to correct his breathing, hissing at her as she approached. Dark Sister burned hot and brightly in her hand.
The Dragon’s Judgment.
A Mother’s Wrath.
“Rhaegal was light. He was hope and he was love, and he was protection from the darkness, and you tortured him to death like the sick monster that you are! Tell me, Crow’s Eye, when your eye was thrown into the well in the North, did it see this day? This moment? When I in wrath would come for you for taking my child from me!”
Dark Sister came to her right shoulder.
She raised it over her head.
It came crashing down towards his head. Euron’s sickle blades sizzled up in response, catching her sword in their curved embrace. Euron pulled, and Dark Sister was wedged between the two black iron blades.
Kynnar damned bastard-
“Oh I saw this day, Mother of Dragons. I saw what would come for me, on this day, if I continued on the path I did.” The Crow’s Eye rasped back at her, and Daenerys could smell his fetid, rotting breath, the stench of death.
Then the Crow’s Eye revealed his most insidious trick yet.
He appeared to merge in two, an exact copy of the hunched beaked malady sliding out of his right shoulder with an issue of shadow clouding it in its dark afterbirth.
Then another merged from his left.
More merged from the right shoulder of the right clone, and more merged from the left shoulder of the left clone.
Daenerys’s eyes darted around her. Another illusion. Another trick!
But the crows started laughing in their croaking, demented voices, and all of them brandished each a set of lethal black sickles, crackling with a nimbus of slick green energy.
The one in front of Daenery’s disappeared, and spectral crows, not real ones, took flight, gabbering and mockingly cawing at her.
Daenerys backed away, and more laughter caused her to spin, and she realised from the group of hunched feathery bodies with gangling limbs clutching fell sickle blades and mocking crooked beaks that she was completely surrounded.
“Ha ha ha ha! I tricked Rhaegal to his end this way. For such a brave dragon he wasn’t very bright!”
“Not bright! Not bright! Not bright!” The murder of Crow’s Eyes mocked her and copied their master in unison.
Daenerys planted her feet, and readied Dark Sister to her side in a guarding posture.
One of them was Euron. One of them had to be the real one! Daenerys tried to plan and calm her nerves from surrendering to fear.
I have to find out which one! Pyat Pree tried to trick me the same way with his shadow copies. Viserion’s keen eye and a knife to that grinning skull of his ended him.
But as Euron’s voice spoke, it was as if one voice flowed seamlessly through the circle of crows, and Daenerys’s ears were in pandemonium, and her head ached as the grating voice of the crow scraped against her senses.
“Yes, I knew what I wrought when I trapped Rhaegal. I knew what judgement would be rained down on me the moment I started carving his pretty flesh!”
Bastard kill you kill you kill you kill you kill you!
“I would do it a hundred times over if you had a hundred dragons! Their blood, their power, their soul- their divine might- it is power, their blood that is the gateway to the mystic arts! This was what I sought when I trapped Rhaegal the Green through my cunning, and his suffering was music sweet to my ears!”
“Music! Music! Music!”
Daenerys turned and thrust with lightning fast speed with Dark Sister’s burning sword between the eyes of the Crow’s Eye who spake the last.
It disappeared and broke apart into fluttering shadows.
Daenerys heard a rustle of feathers.
Then hot pain as something thin slashed through her armour and the sting of green magic, biting into her right leg.
She swung and sliced through the upper beak of the Crow’s Eye, its form stooped low from cutting at her leg.
It disappeared into spectral wings.
Daenerys lurched from the impact as another sickle strike crashed into her back. It didn’t cut through but it knocked her off balance with a hit hard enough to leave a bruise.
Her right leg below the knee still bled, still stung. It was taking longer to heal, Daenerys realised, as she span and sent her left elbow crashing into the bill of the crow that had struck her.
It disappeared too.
She spun Dark Sister around her, spinning her whole body and her sword over her head.
Create space, stop them from closing in.
A taloned foot flew from the crowd and struck her hard in the face.
Daenerys stumbled back and another sickle blow struck point first into her side. Hard enough for her to feel something crunch inside from the impact.
Daenerys turned to bring Dark Sister down on the attacker’s head, and another surged forward and bringing its beak down like an axe, burying it hard into the chainmail of her sword-arm’s shoulder.
Her left gauntlet slammed into the eye of the crow’s eye, and its false form dissipated.
The demon still jamming its sickle into her left side ripped the blade free and Daenerys yelped as blood and armour was rent from the strike.
The others closed in.
And Daenerys got angry.
She brought her right boot up and kicked the closest one to her front in the stomach. Her right shoulder stung, so she tossed Dark Sister’s handle to her left hand and sliced the bent crow’s eye’s skull in twain.
It folded apart in two, perfectly split in red and bony white-
-And then disappeared into a cloud of spectral crows as Daenerys turned and swung her burning blade around wildly.
She caught one, two, four with her swinging burning blade, igniting their manky feathers with her sword cutting into their feathered hides.
The blows kept falling. Her right knee buckled from a kick that snapped it to its left. Another smashed her helm with the flat side of its blade.
Daenerys kept swinging.
And more disappeared into fluttering, cawing shadows.
Three more fell to her sword, her fist, her boot crushing their skulls underneath-
And they backed away, all at once, snapping and hissing at her.
Daenerys snarled, blinking away tears, blood. She held Dark Sister’s burning brand in front of her, milling around, limping from the pain of her right knee, daring them to come closer. A wounded dragon was always its most dangerous. How the hell did a coward like Euron kill my Rhaegal and torture him so! How! How!
With a savage snarl, she planted her foot, and pushed out. Her knee snapped into place and her ripped tendons popped back into alignment.
Lifting her left hand, she grasped at the beak fragment still lodged into her right shoulder, and wrenched out.
Normal humans would leave the breaching object in their flesh to stem the blood flow until it could be removed and tended by a maester or one skilled in healing magicks.
Daenerys was no normal woman.
She was rage and fire, and fury. The White Dragon of Violet Flame, the Stormborn’s retribution made manifest.
I am the dragon! I am the Dragon Queen!
Another raw sound of rage tore from her mouth, snarling metallic and echoing from her helm.
And the Crow’s Eyes laughed and cawed in sadistic relish.
“My blades are tainted with the nimbus of necromancy. Magicks of the Old Gods which I stole and claimed for my own, in honour of the Draugr’s patron god! Your wounds will slow in their healing, by the kiss of black iron and your armour will be all but a useless prison of steel, as I cut, and nick and slice and chop you into tiny, tiny pieces!
And in response to their dark master, the Crow’s Eyes cawed and mocked and called out, their noises rising to a head-pounding din as they screeched in scattered cries of exaltation.
“Yes! Yes. Nick her! Cut her! Pick at her till she bleeds from many cuts! Make her die slow! Make her suffer like the big green did, yes! Yes!
Daenerys conjured flame magick, burning bright in her hand, and pressed it hard, sizziling into the flesh of her left side, forcing her body and her dragonblood to accelerate her already tampered healing factor.
She had to find the original Euron or die from her many wounds…
And Baely and Rhaegal would die unavenged.
“I…” She panted harsh and slowly, channeling her pain, using it, drawing on it to fuel her dragon rage. She would not stop. She will not stop. She will not stop fighting until wicked and monstrous men lay dead in the dirt to crawl into the hell that awaited them, after she had brought ruin unto them in the world above.
“I will…kill you all!”
“Kill! Kill! Kill!” Echoed the Crow’s Eyes, and as one they descended on her again.
And Daenerys lifted her blade to her left shoulder and began to swing.
Her blade cutting only air only accelerated her attacks, sent fire of pain, fire of anger burning through her arms and legs as she spun and cut and swung and slashed and parried and sliced as hard as she could.
Fire and Blood!
Fire and Blood!
FIRE AND BLOOD!
Jon’s face throbbed with pain.
He became aware of the grass caressing his face, wet and soft.
He turned his face and his nose brushed something metal and thin.
He opened his eyes.
And the vacant blood-shot eyes of an Unsullied staring back at him.
Jon startled and pushed himself away, then up onto one knee, holding the right side of his face.
The battle, Daenerys going after the Crow’s Eye necromancer…thing, whatever it was. It wasn’t human, wasn’t natural…
And it was attacking Daenerys…
Jon looked around him.
He had fallen down the small hill that he had clambered on to, after he was…led away by Grey Worm and Missandei…
Missandei who he pushed aside because-
The sound of flesh and bone crunching, mulching and ripping under something ripping through them brought Jon’s head up.
A huge body, muscular, black of fur, bristling with a mane around its neck, stood on all fours, the back legs bent and the fore limbs cruel and straight as the head with huge ears was bent down.
He caught the glimpse of a narrow set of jaws, opening, champing down on flesh of
A twitching Unsullied soldier’s corpse.
The grisly noise of feasting was accompanied by the low growls of the beast as it devoured on the man’s flesh.
Then its jaws set on something, bit down, and with a pull of its limbs and the straining of its thick neck, it pulled up, ripping away a slab of flesh, tendon and tube stringy and dripping redding.
The beast swallowed it down in two gulps and though his maw was bright red, Jon remembered the werewolf that was Blackjaw.
With a long tongue, he licked its bloody lips clean, then cleaned the bits of flesh lodged between its wedge-shaped molars.
Then he sighed.
“Balless dogs…whelps to the rich and the privileged…wastes of men, eunuch soldiers…" He snorted with contempt. "Pathetic!”
The Unsullied were eunuch fighters, trained from birth to become soldiers of unfailing discipline. Devoted soldiers and the ultimate soldiers. Soulless even, if you considered them all but slave automatons.
Until the Dragon Queen freed them and they followed her out of devotion and love, beyond their duty and what they had been raised to follow. Daenerys was their master, and the Unsullied served her freely.
Blackjaw looked down on the corpse and wrinkled his large black nose. His voice was a deep rumble that made Jon’s bones quake.
“Their blood runs hot, but they are drones that throw themselves to the slaughter at their master’s bidding. Worse than dogs. Worse than sheep…a waste…Slaves with death wishes.”
Turning his head, Blackjaw shook his great skull, his ears swinging about him as he did.
He turned away from Jon, and Jon, having frozen, hoped that perhaps the hulking werewolf would leave without spotting him. He didn’t think he had the energy, with a throbbing head, a body that felt sluggish from his outburst of magick, to outrun, let alone wrestle with a werewolf twice his size.
Then the beast stopped.
The black werewolf sniffed the air with his pointed nose.
And then slowly, he turned his snout, back around, ignoring the Unsullied he had killed.
And towards Jon.
Yellow eyes with red pupils set their villainous gaze upon him.
“Ah… The Issue of Ned’s rebellious loins…There you are.”
The werewolf began to turn and crawl towards him, stalking across the ground, littered with limbs and heads of various unsullied. Bodies. Men…women…butchered.
“My berserker rage would have had me rip every one of these traitors to bloody ribbons…but I wasn’t simply left behind by my master just to kill as many men as possible for Daenerys’s betrayal. Oh no…”
He stopped crawling, but only to stand up to his full height. While Jon remembered of course that he was standing atop a hill, his height and bulk was still greater than his.
Jon wouldn’t stand a chance if he tried to match his strength with his.
What weaknesses did a werewolf have? What weaknesses?! Think!
“My master bid that to avenge the wounds dealt to him by the dragon queen’s betrayal, her bounty would die so that her prize would be denied, and all of her men would have died for nothing.”
The great wolf looked around, and Jon could see the tendons in his neck bulge as he did. His body held a terrifying physique, with burly arms and hands tipped with claws that could easily disembowel and rend apart anything that got in his way. His shoulders were broad and wide, wider than his, and his legs, while appearing thinner than his arms, still bulged with stocky sinew.
“He also proposed a reward for bringing him her head as well, if I felt brave, but I fear the puny sorcerer will beat me to it.”
He resumed his gaze upon Jon.
“So I will settle for taking your head instead.”
He took another step forward, and his knuckles cracked as he flexed his hands into fists, red and sodden to the knuckle from the carnage his were hands had caused.
White claws…Jon realised…he had white claws…stained brown from the dried blood…
Weaknesses! Think! Shattersilver, fire, valyrian steel, dragonglass…
Jon tried to look around, his heartrate rising in bone-chilling fear as he looked about and saw only bodies.
Then his eye caught a broken spear, metres away.
His only chance.
Jon turned to go for it, but risking a glance back at the werewolf, realised too late that he had broken into a striding gait.
His lips peeled back to reveal fangs longer than Jon’s fingers, and his eyes flashed with hunger as saliva dripped from his gums, mingled with blood.
Jon knew that he wouldn’t stand a chance.
But he put up his fists and made a stand anyway. He wouldn’t die on his back or cut down while running away. He would go out fighting.
If I go for the eyes, the nose…maybe, if I can get my arm around his neck…
Blackjaw closed the gap and loomed over him.
His right hand lifted with tainted white claws out splayed to open his throat.
A deep, baritone roar rang out from behind him, and Jon turned to see a blur of steel-grey armour and dun skin, spinning a haft of wood and dark steel.
The spear collided fully against the hulking werewolf’s face. The sharp report of the spear colliding fully with Blackjaw’s teeth, coupled with the wolf’s head snapping to his left, happened so fast that Jon would have missed it if he blinked.
He stumbled back as the blur rolled across the ground, turned on his knee and thrust at Blackjaw’s ankle. Jon saw the mask of determination on the Unsullied’s face, and knew immediately that it was Grey Worm.
The dragonglass spear tip burst through Blackjaw’s ankle, cutting away at the flesh, and Blackjaw roared and tore his face away from his hand to turn and swipe with his left hand at Grey Worm.
The Commander moved. He ducked the first swipe, and Blackjaw followed up with a swipe at his head with his right. The man struck with a brutal swipe of his spear, and the impact snapped the wrist, cracking the hand backwards and causing the werewolf to yelp in pain.
Grey Worm lunged and rolled by his right side, righting himself with incredible speed. With the precision of a master, Grey Worm thrust into the back of Blackjaw’s bulging calf, twisting as he did and pulling away, leaving a bloody mess of flesh and muscle.
Blackjaw roared shrilly and blindly swiped at his head with his paw. Grey Worm only came up to the wolf’s chest, but was completely without fear. The stoic commander ducked, hefted his spear in one hand, loosened his grip till he held it near the aft like a long staff, and swung the spear end into Blackjaw’s lower jaw.
The cracking noise made Jon wince, and Blackjaw was sending stumbling.
Grey Worm concluded his attack by planting his spear into the ground, and vaulted from it, using it to propel him up and crash his boots into the werewolf’s chest.
Blackjaw’s noise made a whumph sound as Grey Worm brutally kicked him in the chest. The huge brute wolf man fell bodily backwards and crashed painfully onto the ground.
Grey Worm landed, righted himself, and then stepped back, spun his spear to wield it pointing in the direction of the fallen werewolf, and stabilised his grip by holding it closer to the leaf-shaped dragonglass tip.
Not taking his eyes off the werewolf, Grey Worm turned his head slightly in Jon’s direction.
“Ionos Sonaro. I thank you for saving Missandei of Naath, but Daenerys has commanded that you are to be kept safe, and out of danger. Risking your life was foolish.”
Jon was incredulous, and stupendously awestruck at the fluidity of Grey Worm’s attacks that easily felled the werewolf.
“I’m not one to stand by and let bad things happen to others.” He defended himself.
“You will fit in well with us then.” Grey Worm replied back. “But first I must get you out of here alive. You are important to the mission, and to Daenerys.”
He pronounced her name as Dye-Nerys, and his Westerosi carried the accent of an Essosi origin that Jon could not quite place. He commanded incredible respect, and his stoic resolve was humbling to Jon. Daenerys truly had incredible allies.
Important to the mission…to her…what did she mean? What did Grey Worm mean as well?
Why was he, a bastard, even Ned Stark’s at that, so important to the most powerful dark lord in all of Westeros? A Dark Lord who had now openly rebelled against the Demon Emperor.
A quick glance around told Jon that Missandei was nowhere to be seen. Neither was she amongst the dead, and Jon was relieved at that. He looked to his right.
The Unsullied were holding their own, despite the loss to their numbers and were beginning to push back the remainder of the roving Draugr forces.
Behind and amongst their ranks, the Dothraki strike group were cutting down and through the ranks of undead.
They were winning. The Draugr were falling, and no more were materialising through the smoke of the burning field.
It could only mean that perhaps…Daenerys had won? Or perhaps, the Crow’s Eye was distracted.
But she still needed help!
“Commander Grey Worm! Daenerys…the Crow’s Eye…she needs-”
The growl filled with vehement, hellish rage brought Jon’s eyes forward, adrenaline mingled with horror-stricken fear spiking into his heart.
Seven fucking hells…
Blackjaw rose to his feet.
He had a large cut on his left cheek, and his upper right canine hung by a threat from where Grey Worm had struck it with the butt of the spear.
Standing to his feet, Blackjaw lifted his mangled hand, grabbed it with his left, and snapped it back into place. Flexing his fingers and twisting his hand about, the werewolf glared vindictively with teeth bared at the Unsullied.
He stood onto his hind legs, and Jon noticed now that they were double-jointed, like the goat like legs of the Demon Lord.
Raising his right hand, he clenched and ripped out the shattered canine and discarded it.
“Runt…” the black werewolf growled.
“Butcherer.” Grey Worm snarled back, and tightened his stance. His arms bulged with lethal sinew as he made ready for a killing thrust.
Blackjaw lifted his left hand and pulled at his jaw, pulling the dislocated mandible back into place with a painful crunch. He tested it with a rotary flex of his jaw.
“My tongue is satiated with the blood of your brothers. It will lather your guts before I rip them from your belly.” The werewolf mocked with his eyes brimming with blood-lusting hatred.
“You will pay...” Grey Worm growled, and advanced towards the werewolf. “…for everything. All the innocents lost. All my men that you have killed. For your role in bringing Baely to Rh’llor. I swear by the Breaker of Chains, that I will kill you here and now, and end your blight on the world once and for all.”
Blackjaw’s ears folded back against his head and his hackles raised. Jon knew then that the dispute they shared was personal.
The werewolf and the commander began to circle each other, and Jon seemed to be forgotten as the Werewolf faced Grey Worm with his right side exposed to Jon. Grey Worm had left Jon’s presence to circle around and face the werewolf with his left side to him.
“You were always more trouble than you were worth, Turgo Nudho.” Blackjaw growled with a rumbling, snide voice. “A lifeless, obedient little worm, and so insufferably dutiful. I always wondered how the Master suffered you and your mute pack’s presence. I’ll pluck you from the earth and cut you to bite-sized pieces!”
A devious smile distorted the wolfish head of the beast even more.
“Then we shall see how much your little kitten adores you when I serve you to her on a platter!”
Grey Worm’s response was to adjust his white-knuckle grip on his spear. Focussed, ready to battle. Ready to die.
But Blackjaw went a step further.
“Such…a delicate little woman, your Naathian girl…Mayhaps after I kill you, I will revert to my mortal form and show her how a real man attends to his mistress.”
Grey Worm roared, his face twisted with rage, and sprinted towards the Werwolf.
Blackjaw made a low, savage, snapping snarl that instinctively made Jon want to flee, and he watched as the Commander leapt and thrust his spear forward to impale the savage werewolf in his chest. Blackjaw ran and opened his claws, ready to rake into the Unsullied chest and head.
Jon tried to search for a weapon on the field of corpses as the bodies collided with each other and rolled around, snapping and punching and kicking at each other.
Their roars made Jon’s heart pound in his chest, as he dropped a spear reduced to a twig and tried to find an arakh or a dagger of any kind.
Help Grey Worm! Help Missandei!
Help Daenerys…have to help them…
I have to help them!
The raking cry of the Crow’s Eye made him fumble and search faster, while only meters away, Grey Worm and Blackjaw proceeded to bloodily fight to the death.
To the death…Gods…
His hand grabbed a bronze dagger often held by Unsullied officers. Ripping it from the officer’s sheath on his belt, Jon saw that it was unbroken and strong.
He looked up at the scrapping commander and the werewolf. The Commander had the upper hand, his face screwed up in a grimace of concentration as he used his spear, crushing against the werewolf’s thick neck, to press down and choke the werewolf, keeping his head away from the snapping salivating jaws.
Jon hefted the dagger.
A Stark’s duty is his honour.
As a Stark bastard I am no different.
Jon stood by and waited for a moment to help if Grey Worm began to lose his advantage.
I hope to do justice to Grey Worm and Missandei's characters in this story as well as the Fall of Ice and Rise of Fire Series.
Hope you are liking the high fantasy aspect of this AU!
Stay tuned for the final explosive chapter of this preview fic!
Love to my fans!
Chapter 8: Beasts and Madmen, Dragons and Crows
Daenerys continues to battle Euron, and receives aid just in time.
Grey Worm battles Blackjaw, but finds himself outmatched.
Jon tries to provide aid and fails, but Missandei intervenes to rescue her love and exact bloody retribution...
Strong Injury detail and strong references to torture.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
With a snarl that left her vocal cords raw, Daenerys grabbed a crow demon by the throat in her left hand, lifted and slammed it down into the bloody, burnt earth.
The impact crushed its neck, cartilage and bone pulverised in her grip.
And like the others, it disappeared into a cloud of spectral, winged shapes, flapping around her, their wings buffeting limply against her armour, temporarily blinding her.
But she was ready for the other crow demon attempting to bury its sickles into her back.
Lashing out, her right hand wielding Dark Sister swung and severed the right arm and head of the crow.
The headless gangly corpse fell to its knees, blood spurting from the gaping hole in its truncated neck, and then dissipated into shapes of dark wings.
And Daenerys had killed the last of the shadow crows.
Dark Sister dipped, and Daenerys sagged where she stood to gather herself.
Another costly mistake.
A loud braying caw deafening her left air was her only warning. Daenerys turned and poised Dark Sister for a thrusting attack.
Not fast enough. Euron’s lanky legs thrust forward and kicked her in the chest. The talons, wrinkled, scaly limbs, latched onto her armour and held, and Daenery’s head tore forward and snapped back. As she fell to the ground, her neck burned in pain, and her lungs were crushed as the air was smashed out of them.
The talons withdrew, Keratin claws raking against armour and flesh as they withdrew bloodily from her torso and Daenerys’s heart lurched, not from the injuries, but their proximity.
Any lower, any lower to that spot and I’ll
But her red-hazed vision cleared, and Daenerys’s previous concern became the least of her worries, as the crow’s eye, the real crow’s eye, leapt into the air, raised his talons, downward curved like a raptor and swung down.
Daenery’s shoulders exploded in burning agony, as their black iron blades, crackling with sickly green ichor, pierced into her arms, punching through obsidian steel and into bone.
Blinking through the pain, her body on fire, Daenerys glared through her visor as the Crow’s Eye gave an elative screech in victory, its railing hideous call grating against her pounding skull.
It descended into a series of manic cackles, filled with exultant malice.
He matched her violet fire with his black eyes.
“I finally fingered it out. Inflict surface wounds and you’ll still heal, even with your dragon-fey body’s aversion to black iron and green magick. But keep the blades in you long enough…”
Daenerys heard the sizzling. Than her adrenaline dulled for a moment, and the pain burned through.
At the smell of ozone, from burning steel and flesh, a pained cry of agony screamed from her lips.
“Ha ha ha ha ha!” The Crow’s Eye rejoiced in his victory.
Bastard…Kill….Rip…Tear…Kill…Rip…Tear…Kill…Crush…his skull, under my fist!
“This…is how you die, Dragon Queen. You’ll join your dragon son in death following the same way he left this world. Begging and screaming for mercy!”
“Ah I see…that helmet doesn’t do a good job of concealing your emotions…not when I still see those pretty eyes of yours. I think I’ll pluck them out next!”
His breath was the rancid stink of corpses plundered and torn. The stench of carrion on the battlefield. The scavenger and the pecker. Percher of cadavers and black winged flayer of flesh.
“But before you die, I’ll leave you with the knowledge of how he died. You see…”
Euron’s sickle blades began to drive further and further into her blades, and Daenerys nearly whited out from the pain. A constant source of pain, the embedded blades were overtaxing her healing power.
“This is how I did it!” She could still hear the Crow’s Eye talking.
“I pinned him by the shoulders…disabled his wings, so he couldn’t fly home to his mother. Then I peeled him. I harvested him of his armour, the flesh between his wings, the claws on his feet. I ate his eyes and ripped his scales from his flesh to fashion a suit of armour, worthy of a pirate king! By my powers of necromancy, I kept him alive, such a massive simpering brute, alive long enough to feel every inch of pain. Dragons grow weaker under emotional distress, and their blood harvests the greatest of magic when spilt in agony. Tastes the sweetest!”
His bloody beak, wide enough to encase her skull in its crushing bony maw, hissed as it moved closer to her face.
Her lungs…her breath rasped as the green magick…began to close her airways…toxic, necrotic energy…the black spreading corruption of the blades…
“Your blood will taste sweeter! And you will die afraid and alone. Is that you fear! Is it! How does that make you feel! DRAGON QUEEN!”
Was…was that my heart…pounding in my skull?
My last moments…drawn out by the rhythm of a heart…that didn’t beat hard enough…didn’t fight hard enough to resist Rh’llor…didn’t care enough to save my sons…?
So loud and deep…the ground shook beneath her back as her heart beat its last…a small tremor for the beat of her weakening heart.
A low, rumbling growl rumbled through the earth…and the sound itself reverberated through her soul…kindled the fires that she thought choked out from crushing despair so long ago…
The sickle blades…ripped out of her arms, the slick, wet scraping sound, her wounds exposed to the open air…
Her lungs began to open, and Daenery’s throat stung as she sucked in air desperate and clinging, greedily devouring the stinking, burning fumes of battle…
She looked through a darkening vision, darkness creeping in from the corners as the void beckoned her close.
Her shoulders ached, burned…and gradually, warmed and cooled, as her flesh rejected the last of the corruption and began healing…
Drogon’s added magick presence soon reduced the piercing, flesh-rending sensation to an unpleasant memory.
“Fire…made flesh…” She snarled through bloody, gritted teeth…
Above her loomed a huge, scaly head, wide at the neck, and narrowing at the snout.
Hardened scales, reinforcing a skull that could withstand a crushing bite-force, and crowned with a mane of horns, through which three lance-like horns…three…not four…the lower horn on the left side…bloodily torn away by Rudaxes’s jaws….
Black scales with a taupe tinge coated his rippling, muscular flesh, and his furled wings, hunched, held coiled, expansive muscle, limbs hosting vast sails of carmine red membrane.
Her largest and strongest son. Drogon.
Drogon was alive. He was still alive…hurt…but alive. He must have been knocked out or subdued by Rudaxes, before clambering his way up. She desperately hoped his wings weren’t irreparably damaged beyond regeneration.
A black hunched shape rustled nearby, and Daenerys glimpsed Euron stumbling back, feathers flapping about his stooping, gangly form,
Daenerys’s shoulder muscles ached, but the pain subsided to a mere throb within seconds, and she pushed herself up onto her hands, staring down the cowering necromancer.
Drogon lumbered forward with one clawed hand, over a decimated piece of the aft deck, and was now within striking distance of Euron.
The towering soul son of the black was the size of a four storey building at the shoulder, and as long as a Meerenese Warship, with a wingspan over sixty feet in length. His folded wings were like curved barge sails, flanking the titanic dragon, as he loomed over the necromancer.
“I know exactly…how I felt, the day I found Rhaegal!” Daenerys found her voice and snarled at Euron.
She turned, and pushed herself shakily to her feet, her arms quivering, but strong. She resumed her unerring, wrathful gaze on the necromancer as he looked with evident alarm at them both, his bill swapping between her and Drogon in a way that almost seemed comical. If one ignored the bitter nature of which such circumstance had come about.
“But perhaps you would like to ask my eldest, who with his hearing, most likely heard every word you just said. And you just threatened his mother!”
Drogon hissed and curled his lips back to reveal his twin-rowed, fanged teeth. Curved serrated yellow fangs, the front ones in-grown to reveal a hideous grimace.
Drogon wasn’t going to burn Euron, Daenerys realised.
Indeed, having heard everything, Drogon held a longer, more excruciating plan in mind for the necromancer who tortured his younger brother.
“I will not die today…” the Crow’s Eye shrilly denied. “I will not die today!”
His sickles crackled to life, wreathed in their nimbus of emerald, sickly magick.
“I’ll take your skull and wear your fangs as a necklace!”
The crow’s eye ran three steps, crouched and bounded off the ground.
He was airborne for a full second, relying on his speed and his offensive to catch Drogon off guard, long enough for him to latch on to his skull with his sizzling blades.
But not quick enough.
Drogon reared back, twisted his head and lunged forward with open jaws.
Euron’s legs disappeared in his maw with a meaty crunching sound, and the Crow’s Eye threw his head back and screamed in agony.
Drogon only bit down harder, and Daenerys’s heart leapt at the sound of Euron’s legs snapping like twigs under her eldest son’s jaws.
Then with a growl like a dog, Drogon lifted his head and began to swing his huge head to one side, then the other, and back again. Very soon, Drogon’s huge head was shaking Euron the same way a wolf sought to snap a rabbit’s neck.
Amidst the blur of motion as the huge dragon shook Euron like a ragdoll, Daneery’s caught the blur of the black sickle as Euron somehow, without passing out from the pain, raised his sickle and beat at the snout of the black tyrant, screaming rakishly. In his man voice, his crow’s voice, a hollering caterwauling scream of pain. Globules of black-red blood flew from his body as Drogon’s growls, partially muffled from the body in his jaws, filled the air with a horrific, gargling sound, amidst the agonised screams of the Crow’s Eye.
And it was fucking glorious.
Kill him! Kill him! Rip him in half and stomp on the remains! Kill him! KILL HIM!
A crackle of green energy amidst the blur of dragon jaw and flailing Crow’s eye made Daenery’s chest lurch in horror, ripping her out of her sanguine-minded revelry.
It was coming from one of Euron’s hands, and he brought it down hard on Drogon’s face.
The resulting explosion of magick made Daenerys stumble and Drogon’s roar of outrage and pain made her relive the moment she burst into the tomb and found Rhaegal’s lifeless body yet again.
She looked up to see the Crow’s Eye falling, the immense tail of Drogon swirling through the smoking sky as he stomped off, shaking his smoking head like a horse shaking off stinging flies.
The Crow’s Eye fell in a bloody, twitching, smoking heap on the ground…
…And immediately began moving, crawling away on his hands.
A rasping cry issued from the crow demon’s mouth, blood spewing from his cracked beak as he dragged his crippled body away.
Daenerys’s predator eyes locked onto Euron’s new weak spot.
His pale mutated legs were now bloody and mangled, bone and gore, grisle and fat, a twitching mess below Euron’s body as he tried to gain distance from Daenerys.
And now green magick, necromantic energies pooled into his legs.
Small geysers of blood issued forth from his limbs, as his shattered bones formed, broke, and resealed their rent fissures, and began to regenerate. A trail of glistening black snaked out from under him, and he continued to slither away from her.
Daenerys had him right where she wanted him.
Her shoulders no longer burned. Her armour was compromised, but that could be fixed later on. Re-forged and relinked.
She would celebrate her life and that luxury after Euron’s last moments long replayed themselves in her conscious.
She began to stride towards him. Dark Sister flew to her hand at a simple call of her magick.
Lightning may well be wasted on the necromancer.
So Dark Sister’s violet flame will purge the Crow’s Eye and his sorcery, when her blade parted his head from his shoulders.
“You…” She began, and establishing that she had the beaten Crow’s Eye at her mercy, she continued.
“You are weaker than me. You always have been.”
She stopped within feet away from him.
“And today, I am going to avenge Rhaegal. The last person I tortured was a red priestess with an insultingly low threshold for pain. I’m a bit pressed for time, but I’ll make sure to draw out your last moments in this world, even if it only gives a taste of the pain you inflicted on my son!”
Dark Sister’s flame snarled to life in her hand, and she was bathed in its violet glow.
She raised her blade, angled it in her hands for a downward thrust and struck downwards.
The crackle of green aether snaking up Euron’s left arm was her only warning, and she adjusted her reverse grip to shield her face.
Daenerys kept her feet, even as they dragged through the ground like two steel ploughs.
Just as I thought. He seeks to create distance, but now that his illusion magick is spent…
Daenerys lowered her crude block and adjusted her grip to point the blade in a guard stance, her left side facing Euron, and her blade held parallel to her helm as if poised to thrust or parry away any blows.
Euron’s magick finished healing his legs, but his knees quivered as he leant his weight on them.
Yet he still held his crackling sickle blades, and thus still posed a threat.
“You made a mistake believing us equals, but you flail at true power, scavenging at it like the glut you are.” Daenerys spoke, undaunted by Euron’s aggrandising feat.
The Crow’s Eye only panted back.
“My powers may be spent, but my blades will butcher you and your dragon yet! Then I will take the head of your Naathian vampire next! And maybe, I’ll go after the pretty boy, seeing how longingly you gaze upon him and how much you risked your life and your own men to save him.”
He span his blades about him in a lethal volley, and placed his right sickle in a reverse grip.
“Everyone you care for will die horribly. Your touch is tainted! Your love dooms all that you touch! You will suffer the worst that my dark power will offer, once I finish your forces and add them to my draugr legions!”
“I have seen your worse, Euron Godless.” Daenerys tightened her grasp on Dark Sister. “For all your empty boasts, you failed to kill me. And do you want to know why you can’t?”
She tensed her legs to push off into a running bolt.
“Because I died months ago, and nothing, not even you, has come close to killing me since.”
“Fear not, Dragon Queen.” The Crow’s Eye dipped his beak to regard her with his dead beady black eyes. “You will be united with your sons in purgatory yet!”
Daenerys roared and sprinted from where she stood. No longer caring for form, Daenerys opened her stance, allowing for a wide cleaving strike-
-And brought it down on Euron’s blades as he hastily lifted them to block her sword from splitting him from shoulder to waist.
Drogon was pissed.
His face burned from the devilry that crow shit stinking sorcerer had smashed on his face, like a wailing sheep kicking at him as he had him in his jaws!
He had soiled himself in his jaws, and only his dark blood was just enough to drown out the rancid taste of the sorcerer’s faeces.
But it wasn’t about taste for him.
It was about making the Crow’s Eye pay with every inch of his miserable life for hurting Rhaegal the Green.
His little brother was innocent. Heartbroken after Star-Heart’s death, the name they all gave to Mother’s offspring called Baely. He whose heart glowed warmly like a star. Special to all, loved by many, but most of all by Rhaegal. Rhaegal was the closest in emotional bond to Daenerys and Baely, and he took to Baely as he would his own child. His own two legged brother, with white hair like his mothers, yet with eyes as dark and rich as oaken trees.
The Pale Devil on his feeble cane and his lies killed two. Baely in his treachery, and Rhaegal in his grief driving him into Euron’s talons.
To hell with them all! I will drag them screaming there myself!
Drogon shook his head, and the last of the green ichor of Euron’s death magic dissipated.
The right side of his face stung, but was diminishing, he felt, as he ambled and crushed bodies and sky-flyer wreckage. It was his left side, where the Hell-Bat ripped one of his horns off that hurt the most. It took skin off his face too, nearly ripping open his left cheek, and its painful void rankled him fiercely.
He wanted to kill. Let Mother-Kin finish the Crow’s Eye and bathe in his blood for Green-Brother’s death.
Right now, Drogon wanted to break bodies in his bone-crushing jaws.
He was contemplating taking to the air again, when commotion caught his ear.
It was the sound of the snarling undead, like the ones he and his brothers destroyed in the Cold North.
And there were many of them. Many shambling around in their metal dresses. Humans were weak and soft, and even strong ones broke and burnt under his wrath, so they burned stone and mined metal to make them feeble imitations of his brother-kin’s mighty armour. As if those would ever measure up.
He leaned his nose forward and sniffed at the air, and peering through the smoke of the skyship wreckage, he caught them.
A group of shambling, blue-eyed and dark-armoured, grey rotting undead.
They turned on his footfalls and regarded him with vacant, stupid eyes like sheep.
Perhaps these will present more of a challenge, though Drogon knew from experience that anything undead never tasted good.
A large horn-helmed one took the initative. Armed with a huge cleaver, crescent and curved in its blade, ran forward, roared in that head-ache inducing clicking scream, and brought it down on his nose.
The blade shattered on contact with his armoured snout, and the undead looked almost more alive like normal two-legged ones, as its glowing cyan eyes widened upon regarding the now axe-less staff it held in its hands.
Drogon smiled and bared his might jaws with many teeth. Proud teeth, shattering teeth, devouring teeth!
It was all drake’s way of telling their prey that they were about to die.
He lunged and tilted his head. With a brutal crush, he seized the huge undead in his jaws like a vice, and bit down.
The legs of the undead fell to the ground, and Drogon spat out the other half.
Too hard and dry. He needed fresh meat.
But when Drogon looked up and beheld the shield-spears and the horse-screamers, fighting desperately against the dead, Mother’s soldierkin in danger, Drogon knew he would have to put aside his personal preferences for warm flesh on his tongue.
Mother-kin will heal his injuries and let him hunt later.
For now though, he would protect allies of Mother-kin and rip the undead apart.
The group of Undead were now all turning, distracting themselves from the shield walls and the dashing attacks of the horse men to regard him as he straightened his wings and towered to his full height.
Good! Recognise my might and strength. Gaze upon my magnificence. It will be the last your deathless eyes will ever see!
Drogon opened his jaws and issued forth his reverberating, earth-shattering war cry.
Then lifted up his left paw and crushed a draugr into a pulp under his weight.
Another rushed him with a stick of metal teeth, and flow into the air out of Drogon’s mouth in two halves.
Drogon snarled contentedly to himself.
This was going to be fun. He thought to himself, and already the pain from his injuries and his hurt pride at having been eluded by the Pale Death were already beginning to subside. The Pale Death was on the defensive after Drogon had rammed him off the cliff, and Drogon would have scored a killing blow, if his foe hadn’t struck an overhanging jut of rock with his tail and sent an rock avalanche on him.
His bones ached, and his muscles stung, but his anger, his fury, saw him escape his tomb, and climb up the rockface, Motherkin’s pain and emotional distress bleeding through their bond, spurring him on. Nothing would stop him from protecting Mother-kin, not in this or any life time.
Another deathless tried to mantle up his right wing. More were trying to do the same, climbing at him and clambering over themselves to get at him.
How amusing. Drogon the Black thought to himself with bloody-minded cheer.
They think one as mighty as me feels fear! ME?!
With a calm but brutal shake of his bulky form, the score of armoured undead fell tumbling from his body.
And then he began to rip apart and dismantle the remainder of the Crow’s Eye’s undead.
As he eviscerated an undead with two short slice-hafts, or dirks as two-leggeds call them. Drogon’s rising excitement was soon marred.
From the depths of sorrow, Drogon remembered why he was here.
He couldn’t afford to get carried away, but he would avenge the deaths of his brothers, man-thing and drake, by offering the sacrifice of his foes as tribute.
I honour Green Brother and Starheart with this, my devotion to you with the blood of my enemies!
He bellowed in victory and sent a trio of undead flying with a swipe of his head, and swatted away another with his left wing.
Syt Nuha Lekia!
At this moment, right here and now, the enemy will die, by my claws!
Jon knew he chose the moment wrong the second he leapt.
Blackjaw had evaded Grey Worm’s initial flurry, of staff end and haft end, and pinned him to the ground, using his superior weight and strength to try and suffocate the commander with his own spear.
Grey Worm’s arms bulged, as did the cords of his neck, and his lips curled back into a perpetual snarl as he fought to avail himself of the black werewolf’s bind.
So Jon decided now was as good a time as any to try and help. Leap on the larger brute’s back and thrust his acquired brass dagger through the back of his neck.
Except that Blackjaw’s ears flickered and he turned his head to his left at his approach.
And Jon was rewarded for his poor timing with Blackjaw's meaty left forearm crashing into his left ribcage.
He nearly folded at the impact as he flew to his right and came crashing to the ground.
Jon blinked stars away from his vision, and looked up hazily to see Grey Worm let go of his spear with his right hand, draw his own brass dagger from his hips and thrust up into the muscular abdomen of the monster pinning him.
Blackjaw spun about and bellowed into the air with pain. Grey Worm withdrew his bloodied blade and thrust up again.
Blackjaw reared up and clawed at his belly. And his other hand let go of Grey Worm’s spear.
Grey Worm’s left hand swung up and clouted the brute in the right side of his face with the staff end.
Blackjaw listed to his left from the impact and Grey Worm rolled away. The commander righted himself with acrobatic skill, rolling to his left and pushing himself up and away with his fists on the ground.
On his feet again, Grey Worm span his spear in a flurry of skill and settled into a charging stance, as Blackjaw shook his narrow snout and snarled bitterly at the Unsullied.
Grey Worm slashed his ankles! How is he still on his feet? Jon saw the bloody ruin that Grey Worm wrought on the taller brute, hamstringing him with his spear, raining down blows with his spear and staff end, but Blackjaw was persistent, and whatever hellish power he held, he was using it at its highest potency.
Grey Worm had to inflict a killing blow so severe not even Blackjaw’s ability to recover would be enough. Even with the dragonglass make of his spear, Blackjaw seemed to just muscle on through the pain, and his body showed no signs of stopping.
His muscles and skin regrow, every part of him Grey Worm struck recovered or reformed, flesh and sinew weaving together like a sped-up tapestry being knit before Jon’s eyes.
And now the werewolf of Rh’llor was bearing down on the Commander again.
Grey Worm was unfaltering, unceasing, unstoppable in his wrath, but Jon could see the sweat on his neck, and his arms sagging in his battle-stance. He was tiring, and Blackjaw wasn’t.
“RRAAAGGGHHH!!!” Blackjaw savagely roared at Grey Worm.
“YAAAAAGGHHH!!” Grey Worm bellowed in reply and charged the beast head on.
Blackjaw swung at Grey Worm as he closed the gap, but his head wasn’t where his claws were. Instead his spear cracked against the back of his offending arm, and then to the back of his right knee. Blackjaw swung back with the same arm, and received only a slap across the face with the staff end.
Another slash opened a bloody rivet above Blackjaw’s left knee, while the staff end drove into his gut, making him bend double.
Grey Worm then vaulted onto Blackjaw’s right knee, and swung his right boot up, slamming the beast’s jaws shut, and his head back so far that Jon swore that would be the end of him. Instead the werewolf tottered back, as Grey Worm completed his backflip kick and landed cat-like on his feet.
Brandishing his spear, Grey Worm charged, spearpoint aimed right at his heart.
Jon saw that Blackjaw was holding his face, growling and blinking away what must be agony for him. For half a second, Jon thought the fight over, until Blackjaw’s yellow eyes noticed the charging Unsullied. He intercepted the spear with both hands, but caught it too soon. Blood dribbled from his huge hands as he gripped the haft of Grey Worm’s dragonglass spear, clutching at the blade to stop it piercing his heart.
Jon looked to see that Blackjaw’s lower mandible had been kicked so hard, the lower fangs had pierced into the roof of his upper jaw. He saw the fangs protruding through bone and skin, the jaws welded shut by Grey Worm’s kick.
Yet his cheek-muscles quivered, and soon the lower jaw ripped bloodily away from his mouth. A rotary movement established that the jaw had completely healed, and Blackjaw opened his jaws wide to roar at Grey Worm’s face.
Hoarse and savage, the roar of a werewolf was monstrous, like a man possessed by rage, tampered with the lupine snarl of a rabid wolf.
Grey Worm only yelled and thrust harder, pushing through the werewolf’s hands.
The werewolf held his ground, and planted his feet to hold firm against Grey Worm’s spear.
Grey Worm’s eyes darted to his double-jointed legs, at his knees.
Grey Worm’s arms, still holding the spear, lifted.
Blackjaw’s momentary confusion worked to his advantage.
Grey Worm’s left boot shot out and struck Blackjaw’s right knee so hard it completely dislocated it with a gruesome sounding crack.
Blackjaw bent to his right at the excruciating pain that came with his dislodged kneecap.
And Grey Worm risked his leverage by letting go of the spear with his right hand, drawing his brass dagger from his hip, still bloody from its earlier use seconds before, and brought it down hard on Blackjaw’s left knee, piercing through the kneecap up to the hilt.
Blackjaw’s shrill howl of pain nearly deafened Jon, and the hulking brute fell to his grimly injured knees. Grey Worm left the knife where it sat lodged in his knee and resumed his attempt to run the werewolf through.
Grey Worm’s face was set in a grim mask of determination. His energies were devoted to simply bearing all of his strength and weight now into impaling Blackjaw through his cold heart.
Blackjaw’s eyes grew desperate, and he appeared to realise that he was about to die, as the spear point began to cut through his calloused hands, its dripping point inching its way out of his hands and closer to his chest.
“I…” Grey Worm bit out through his exertion. “…am Grey Worm of the Unsullied. I was elected by my brothers and chosen by Daenerys to lead the Unsullied when she freed us. You, Blackjaw, have no nobility, and will die as the devil’s lapdog!”
Blackjaw only hissed back in reply, bearing bloody gums and yellowed cracked fangs in reply.
But the spearpoint continued to advance.
Blackjaw tried to push away the spear.
And the last vestige of the blade slid through his slippery, cut hands-
And punched through the werewolf’s ribcage.
Blackjaw’s snarl terminated into a choked gasp, and Grey Worm’s strength won through his slackened arms as the spear cut through the chest, and embedded itself, blade whole, into the black werewolf’s chest.
Grey Worm’s stoicism gave out to his rising hatred, and he leant forward as Blackjaw began choking on his own blood to speak so low that Jon strained to hear him.
“You will receive no coin to pass to the Ferryman. You will drown in the sea of souls, and as you diminish to a husk to join the damned, maybe then, you will know the pain that you put my family through!”
Blackjaw gave another choked gasp, and looked down at the spear, blood and bile drooling from his canine lips.
A glimmer of malice overtook him.
His eyes flicked up to meet Grey Worm’s baleful stare.
Grey Worm saw it too. He ducked back, withdrawing his hands further back along the spear, saving his hand from being taken by the wolf by milliseconds.
Blackjaw set his foul jaws on the spear, and bit down once.
The wood of the spear splintered and snapped like rotting wood under his jaws.
Grey Worm staggered back, as Blackjaw lunged up, pushing himself up by his ankles. He braced the broken spear’s staff in front of him as a make-shift shield.
Blackjaw swung up with his right hand.
His claws, sullied and foul and dirt and blood-stained, slashed up at Grey Worm’s chest.
His hand snapped the spear in twain-
-And Blackjaw’s talons ripped four bloody lines through Grey Worm’s armoured chest.
Grey Worm fell screaming in a shower of blood. His head landed hard on the body of one of his comrades, and his hand went to his chest, coming away red. The commander grit his teeth, grimacing in pain as he bit back an evidently agonised cry of pain.
Blackjaw lifted his left leg, propping up his wounded knee, gripped and tore out the brass dagger. Discarding it, he pressed all his weight on the already healing limb, new flesh weaving together the bloody gouge of Grey Worm’s dagger. And then stood back up right. His right leg rose, and Jon saw his leg lengthen, twist and then reset its deformed joints by itself.
Advancing leisurely towards the injured commander, his strides full and hearty, as if his legs haven’t even been crippled to begin with, Blackjaw bent and cracked his neck, and dragged a tongue over his fangs. Then his right hand reached for the broken end of the spear, still embedded in his chest.
He stopped in front of Grey Worm, who was panting, his cheeks puffing as he tried to control his breathing in his fit of piercing agony, and gripped the spear end. He pulled, and faltered slightly, snarling in pain, before he then threw his caution aside, and wrenched the spear tip free, sodden with thick blood that fell freely in a wad from the gore-stained blade.
Grey Worm’s dark eyes were hard-set, but even Jon could see the fear in his eyes, as Blackjaw towered over him.
And of course, the bastard had to gloat.
“You…adopted by the last descendant of an arrogant empire, whose people strove for godhood and found only annihilation? You…a simpering cur, trained to not feel, and kill like the dog you are. You have the audacity to deem your broken queen, your dead knights, and a freed waifish slave who can never walk in the sun a family! You are pathetic!”
Blackjaw rose his right foot, and pressed it down on Grey Worm’s torn chest. The warrior lifted up his head and cried out in agony, as the foot of the werewolf ground against his burning cuts.
Jon had seen enough.
He sprinted towards Blackjaw as he lifted his foot and crushed it to the commander’s neck, and made to thrust into the left side of his ribcage, straight to the heart.
Blackjaw’s left hand thrust forward and Jon’s breath was knocked out of him as his fingers wrapped fully around his neck, squeezed, and began to choke him.
Jon could hear Grey Worm gasp as Blackjaw’s foot pressed down further into his neck.
“Persistent one, aren’t you?” Jon could hear the werewolf observe. Commanding his weakening limbs to act, Jon thrust up with his dagger up into the werewolf’s muscular forearm. His blade broke skin and pierced through, but nowhere near as deep as Grey Worm’s.
Blackjaw’s grip tightened, and Jon had to let go, watching the dagger fall out as his hands went to his throat. His nose was filled with the stench of unwashed wolf musk, and he smelled disgusting.
Jon’s knees gave out and he sagged onto his knees, and Blackjaw continued to rest his foot hard on Grey Worm’s neck.
“Let…” He choked out. “…let him go. It’s me you want…let him go…”
“Oh, I do want to kill you Jon, that much I know to be certain.” Blackjaw replied with an unnervingly relaxed air to his warped, monstrous voice. “But I have a score I need to settle with the runt before I deal with you. My master will be pleased to know that I killed the Dragon Queen’s commander and her prized object of desire, before she took my head. I know I don’t stand a chance against her power. She will kill the necromancer and cleave my head from my shoulders, but not before I make her look upon the fruits of my labour. Then…it will be a good death.”
He turned to regard the carnage, his carnage, of bodies of unsullied and Dothraki arraigned haphazardly and randomly, senselessly slain where they lay. Butchered by claw and fang, intestines torn and splayed from their bellies like pink ribbons, arms and legs ripped, and new mouths opened up in their necks.
“So yes.” The black werewolf spoke. “I will kill you. But you, Turgo Nudho…” He snarled down at the commander under his foot. “I’ll send you to your precious ferryman with no coins to spare, and you can join your neutered brethren in the swamp of the damned, to fester where you belong.”
He began to lift his right hand, holding Grey Worm’s dripping spear tip.
“Like the little worm you were, you’ll die here, writhing in the dirt amongst your rotting kind, with my foot on your neck, and you will remember your place, as forever beneath me!”
Blackjaw raised his arm.
And suddenly Jon’s world exploded in a series of high-pitched squeaks. Small fury pitch black bodies, leathery clawed wings- they descended like a swarm on all three of them, and Jon closed his eyes to shield them.
There was the sound of flesh ripping, and the hand clenching Jon’s neck abated in its grip, and Blackjaw roaring as something smashed into him, throwing him off his feet and away from Greyworm.
Jon fell onto his back, gasping, sucking down the air and the stink of the battle, coughing violently and gasping even more.
He could hear nearby, the roars of a dragon, and the cries of victory from the Dothraki riders, accompanied by the yells of the Unsullied, and the screeches of the draugr as something ripped through their ranks.
He looked up at where Blackjaw stood.
And instead, saw the elegantly dressed dark gown of the vampire Missandei, flowing about her ankles as the thickly maned handmaid knelt and clenched Grey Worm’s bloody hand.
Her right hand held Blackjaw’s right hand, still gripping the broken spearhead.
She tossed aside the dripping hand, grabbed Grey Worm’s face with her free hand, and pressed her lips to his in a strong, passionate kiss.
Grey Worm’s fingers wrapped around her left hand and squeezed it tight, as the commander and the handmaid kissed, ignorant of the battle, the fire, the blood-letting, the danger, the carnage of war, painted and raging around them.
And Jon thought it to be the most bittersweet and most beautiful sight he had ever seen.
But at Blackjaw’s baleful, rabid snarl, they broke apart, but Jon was not terrified of the wrath of the Blackjaw.
He was more terrified of the way Missandei’s gold-flecked eyes blinked open with grim intent, vengeful resolve towards repatriating the werewolf for wounding her love so grievously.
And at the way those same eyes filled with the crimson hue of blood, pooling about her eyes, framing her irises, drowning out the reddened white in a sea of blood..
And her teeth sharpening into fangs, as she parted from her love and spun to face the beast who had harmed her love.
At her nails lengthening and hardening into black claws on the ends of her fingers, and a serpentine hiss emanating from her as she prepared to face down Blackjaw as he staggered to his feet, cradling a bleeding, dripping stump where his right hand was, Jon knew that this wasn’t over yet.
Not by a long shot.
Ok so I lied, next chapter (I think) will be the last of the preview/intro.
As always, leave a kudos and a review if you liked it!
Hope to finish this by this weekend. The preview! Not the story!
Love to my fans!
Chapter 9: Virago, Part 1
Missandei settles a score.
Jon gets out of trouble and then leaps back into it to save an ally.
The battle nears its bloody conclusion...
Ok I lied, the next chapter will be the last. I just hope that it will be the last as I have work to go back to soon!
Threats of abuse to a female character.
Demeaning taunts from a villain degrading women and potentially offensive talk against slaves.
Discussion of cannibalism.
More Jon being a heroic fool and getting himself into trouble.
Missandei taking no shit.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Graggghhh! You little bitch!”
Blackjaw nursed his right stump, squeezing it to stem the bloodflow. Yet no fingers or hands regrow where Missandei had, unseen by Jon, snapped and ripped it off his forearm.
So…Blackjaw wasn’t entirely invulnerable…too tough for humans to take on…but a vampire…
The vampire and Grey Worm’s saviour in question strode forth, her nails lengthened into black nails that looked like they could shred a man in full armour to ribbons. The Naathian born handmaid may not have all the monstrous qualities that garmented the vampyre demon species, long-limbed, quadrupedal predators that resembled flightless bats crossed with a hyena, but she was no less dangerous.
From what Jon read of in the bestiary compendium, human vampires were rare, but recorded cases from the Citadel of Maesters in Oldtown depicted them as unfortunate souls who began life as humans but acquired their vampiric traits as symptoms of a disease transmitted via contact with vampiric beasts. Rarer still were the cases in which human vampires transmitted the disease to other humans, of those possessing such malevolence that they relished in spreading their affliction to as many unsuspecting people as possible, destroying lives and entire communities with the disease’s dark taint.
Primarily however, humans acquired their symptoms and manifested as human vampires from deadly, even fatal contact with the vampyre, named originally as the Sarco Devorantis Noctis Vampyris. Those who died via the most gruesome means, such as evisceration and beheading, were considered fortunate, for what came next for the survivors was considered a fate worse than death.
A taste for blood and raw flesh, a hunger for blood, particularly humans, coupled with a serious aversion to sunlight, lest their cells undergo rapid decay following contact from the rays of daylight, were the typical characteristics of the human vampire. Weapons consisted of enlarged fangs, of which their shape varied between the afflicted, from incisors warping into narrow fangs, to canines lengthening into artery piercing daggers, as well as supernatural strength, and claws that could rip open throats and disembowel bellies.
Further cases recorded the ability to see in the dark and transform their human bodies into a swarm of bats to traverse the land with ease or evade capture. As for the more disturbing cases, humanoid-bat like creatures were included in the sketches section. Information on this ‘final form’ was limited at best, and Jon had deemed it best for his own piece of mind to not inquire further.
Was this the grim fate that had been bestowed upon Missandei?
Jon wondered as the vampire stared down her larger, more imposing opponent, who despite his injury appeared more than ready to rip into her, tooth and claw.
How did she become a vampire? Does she feed on humans like her demonic kind? And why does Daenerys still keep her in her service?
Jon remembered the embrace and the kind words exchanged between them from what felt like hours ago, and he remembered then also that perhaps Missandei’s vampirism posed as no obstacle between their close friendship. Seeing the terrifying figures that he had been warned off as horrific goddesses of blood and carnage in the battlefield in Essos expressing tenderness to each other was a head-spinning sight, that was for sure…
And now, seeing her kiss Grey Worm, confirming the rumours and hearsay that the vampire had taken a highly skilled but mortal essosi warrior as a lover, Jon had seen that side that humanised the Witch of bats. The same human side that crept through the dark lord’s visor as she spoke to him earlier.
Not monsters…just…people. People with dark powers that once served the Emperor…
Just who exactly were these people?
“Baring your claws, little kitten?” Blackjaw’s mocking growl turned Jon’s sight to the werewolf.
His stump had stopped bleeding, and instead, flesh re-wove itself, closing off the stump to reveal only a scarred stump in place of a cruel, taloned hand. Blackjaw appeared completely unfazed by his gruesome injury as he leered at Missandei with a toothy grin.
Missandei stepped so that she was completely in front of the fallen Grey Worm.
“I will kill you for hurting him!” Her voice was raw, distorted, and riven with hatred, and Jon was glad that he saw the back of her. The blood red eyes and the fanged snarl of an enraged vampire was said to be nightmare inducing, capable of making grown men quake and fall to their knees praying to their gods in utter fear.
Blackjaw only widened his demented grin at Missandei’s threat, and opened his muscular arms out wide, inviting her to attack as he widened his stance.
“Such a brave little kitten, brandishing her claws and hissing at the big dog, thinking it will be enough to drive me away, before I take you in my jaws and shake you like a ragdoll!”
“I do not threaten, Blackjaw!” Missandei growled back, slowly placing her right leg back, revealing an elegant, black silk slipper, her ankle wrapped in what appeared to be lace. Jon averted his gaze, blushing.
“You may have hated Grey Worm for his purity of purpose and his honour, but you’ve always been afraid of me. You’ve only ever tried to kill or attack him when I or Daenerys weren’t around!”
“Why defend the runt?” Blackjaw goaded, gesturing with his stump at the fallen warrior, who was panting through his nose, still in the throws of agony. Jon admired that he hadn’t passed out from the pain, and judging by the lines raked through his armour filling with rivers of blood, trickling down his chest, Jon knew that the wound was deep.
Wait- I need to move him! I have to get him away from the battlefield as quickly as possible!
Damn fool! He’s hurt and needs a maester’s care! Maybe, if there was someone amongst the unsullied, the dosh khaleen perhaps…
His mind made up, Jon stealthily crept behind Missandei, and up to Grey Worm’s side.
The warrior was gritting his teeth, groaning in pain. Jon knew he had to be careful.
“Alright mate, easy. I’m gonna try and move you without opening your wounds. Its gonna hurt but I have to get you off the battlefield!”
“Ionos…Missandei…my butterfly…don’t…” Grey Worm moaned through his teeth, and his breath came out in short, frantic gasps.
“Just hold on!”
Jon had to step over the corpse of the Unsullied that Grey Worm was resting on. Seeing no further way, Jon slid his hands under Grey Worm’s shoulders, hooked his hands under the sweaty, muscular pits of the Commander, and pulled, keeping his angle low without lifting him.
As awkward as this position was for Jon’s back, forcing him to stand was out of the question. If he could drag Grey Worm to safety, keep low and out of sight…
Jon looked behind him over his left shoulder.
They were still on the small mound that he had been escorted to, but he could not see any nearby Unsullied or Dothraki. Only the bodies of the draugr’s and Blackjaw’s handiwork.
“Aargghh!” Grey Worm cried out.
“Easy- Easy! You’re gonna be alright. I’ll get you out. If it starts hurting too much…”
He let the rest of the sentence trail off, not feeling the need to add on the rest. He didn’t feel strong enough because of his magick outburst and his fatigue from fighting the draugr to carry Grey Worm, and it may make his serious injuries worse.
So he kept to dragging him, to his right, looping behind Missandei and towards the back of the Unsullied. He could see the rear of a shield wall, and if he got closer to them, he could call for help.
He heard Blackjaw’s rumble, and his dragging slowed to a crawl as he tried to manuever around the spike helmed head of an Unsullied. He risked a glance here and there at the two combatant as they continued their face-off.
“Surely you must get exhausted, leaping to the defence of your man…if he could be called that. If you insist…on calling him a man…”
“Say one more word against him…” Missandei gravely warned. “…and I will…I will…”
“You’ll what, little kitten? Kill me?” Blackjaw mocked back. “Ah but you see, Daenerys is the only one I am afraid of. She is the one who holds real power but you? You’re just her mute shadow. Skulking about with your pretty little hands curled up like a Silent Sister in prayer, watching and never speaking, like all ladies should. Better seen…and not heard…”
Oh no…bad move mate.
“What did you just say?!” Missandei flexed her claws, and there appeared to be a sheen passing over the bony claws like black adamantine.
“You’d make a fine concubine to add to my harem, Missandei of Naath. You would add yet another…exotic taste to the flavours I get to sample. I’ll let you ripping off my hand slide. I still have one hand, and one will be enough to take my pleasure…or put you in your place if you misbehave…little kitten…”
In the silence that followed, Jon expected Missandei to launch herself at the licentious werewolf.
But instead, so subdued it was almost indiscernible, Jon saw Missandei’s finger’s tremble, and her arm shake with barely suppressed rage.
And Jon knew that whatever Missandei was capable of, Blackjaw would not emerge from this encounter unscathed.
And then Blackjaw crouched slightly, ready to bolt towards the vampire as he began to provoke her even more.
“You think, because you trail after and bandy council with the so-called Breaker of Chains, that you have rights? That you are superior to the beast? To the man? Your place like so many of women and slavekind will be beneath the true master of this world, and it is high time you and your lover should be reminded as such.”
His left leg hovered back, ready to push off into a deadly sprint.
“I won’t kill you. You’re far too pretty to go to waste. Instead, I’ll leave enough of you left for my needs, after I drag you back to Kings Landing. You won’t be alone of course. I’ll give you the Runt’s head to nurse and kiss at night. Something to amuse you and nourish your predator cravings. Imagine that? Using the head of your former lover as a light snack.”
“Shut up.” Missandei hissed back.
“I wonder what will go first?" Blackjaw continued regardless. "After your grief passes, you’ll probably be exhausted…and starving. How long has it been since you feasted on a human? Do not deny that you have tasted human blood and have yearned for it since. Our kind knows no other lust, no other yearning as great as bloodlust!”
Blackjaw snapped, his hideous jaws thick with saliva, strands of drool licked away by his long tongue lathering over his teeth, before he continued on.
“Maybe you’ll start with his ears? A little nibble here and there. Then maybe his nose? Then perhaps you’ll suck out his eyeballs. Chew on those lips of his, and before you know it…”
His left hand curled into a bony, muscle bound fist.
“…you’ll be sucking out his brains and drinking from his skull, just like my Master! Just like the creature of the night you truly are! The dark shadows call to you, Missandei of Naath. Leave your gelded dog behind…he who could never give you what you desire…pleasure…children! You’ll die childless if you stay with that duty-bowed cur! Join me in the nights, and I will help you realise your true potential. And the only shadow you would be in is the one your enemies forget to check!”
Jon could feel the air grow cold yet rife with fiery, boiling hatred. He felt as such radiating from Daenerys, so hot and all-consuming it seemed ready to devour him whole, but Missandei’s anger? It was the resolute animalistic wrath of a woman who would die for the man she loved, and drag her screaming foe with her in death.
Then she spoke.
“All I want,” She began, so quiet that Jon had to strain to pick it out above the din of the nearby battle. “…is to pass from this life and into the next with Grey Worm at my side, and no other man!”
“And what I also want…” Her fingers curled, turning her clawed hands into something resembling the barbed hooks of a torturer’s flail. Her claws seemed to slide out of her nails and grow even longer.
“…is to make sure you spend your last moments regretting the very thought of touching me, and harming the love of my life!”
Blackjaw's face darkened, and his beady yellow eyes set in a sinister, bestial frown, lips peeled back to a ravenous snarl.
“Grragghh! Know your place, you ungrateful whore!”
Blackjaw roared and sprinted forward, bounding once on his left paw, before standing up right and bearing down on Missandei.
Missandei blurred towards him in a cloud of inky black ichor and screeching bats.
Blackjaw’s claws descended.
Jon blinked as Missandei lifted her left hand and thrust it at Blackjaw’s muscular chest.
When he opened them, Missandei was standing several feet away behind Blackjaw.
Blackjaw was crouched forward, having completed his slash, his left arm over his chest.
His eyes widened in confusion, and his huge pointed ears flicked once.
The hulking werewolf turned about, whirling on the Naathian Vampire.
“Ha! What was that, weak little woman? I barely felt a thing!”
Missandei, leant forward with her left hand thrust forward, slowly stood upright, lowering it to her side.
She turned to regard the werewolf coldly over her right shoulder.
“Of course, you wouldn’t.” She softly spoke.
Her eyes glinted with gold and blood.
“Because you are already dead.”
Blackjaw visibly blanched, and appeared to sneer as he prepared another cutting response, another insult to lash at Missandei with his vile tongue.
Then he froze, twitched with his arms where he stood.
His huge narrow head looked down.
And simultaneously, Jon and Blackjaw saw the wide furrow, a huge chunk carved out the left side of Blackjaw’s chest.
A dripping hole, a huge divet that stretched to the centre of his back under his left arm, remained in place, so wide that Jon could see the cloudy sky through the gaping wound ripped out of Blackjaw’s chest.
Blackjaw gave only a short gasp. Suddenly, the hateful beast appeared to be short for words.
His left hand lifted to his chest, and Jon could see the nails digging limply at the bloody furrough.
Then he looked up.
Missandei lifted her left hand.
Clutched in her bloody fingers was the still beating, black and red gory muscular, veiny shell, that was Blackjaw’s heart.
With a single clench of her dainty hand, Missandei crushed the twitching, squirting organ into a bloody, flattened pulp. Blood spattered and sprayed over her moon-shaped face, her brow and hair coated with gore.
Blackjaw twitched, and reached out his left hand, as if the heart were still in his chest and Missandei had simply pulverised it while it still sat in his ribcage.
Then, his hand fell away, fingers still twitching, and he fell heavily to his knees, and slumped forward onto his face.
His life ended with a single, rattling sigh.
Jon gasped, as Missandei regarded the brutally finished werewolf with a cold, lifeless stare.
“For Baely…” She whispered.
Then she strode forward, throwing aside the heart like a sodden ball of papyrus, wiping most of the gory residue on the hem of her dress without a care, and her eyes returned to their white and gold-flecked gaze as she tried to locate Grey Worm. The murky red of her eyes subsided, and the white returned to rest her gold-flecked dark eyes. Her fangs, visible points showing below her lips, retracted and shrank beneath, to resume their human canine size.
Jon suddenly remembered that he could speak.
“Over here! Lady Missandei!”
Missandei’s great maned head turned immediately in his direction. She strode forward, her gown billowing about her legs as she approached them.
“I tried to move him, get him out of the way.” Jon began stuttering out an explanation. “He needs-
“-A maester.” She finished for him, and knelt by Grey Worm. “You didn’t try to carry him. Good. I can take him.”
“I…” Jon started. She had this smell of honey, the tang of sweat, coppery essence of blood about her.
Jon saw the scuffs and rips in her sleeves. She had been in battle, and Jon realised that was why she had disappeared throughout the fight.
“Turgo Nudho, you fool.” She whispered out, caressing the left side of her love’s face as he weakly blinked up at her.
“Missandei…my butterfly…my love…” Grey Worm’s mighty voice was reduced to a whisper.
“Hush…hush…” Missandei soothed at him, rubbing his closely shaven head with her bloody hand. She leant forward and kissed his lips, and then his brow.
“I should have stayed by you…” She whispered into his head.
Leaning up, she looked him in the eyes, and a shimmer of red passed over them.
The hairs on Jon’s arms stood up, as he felt a small wave of power pass from Missandei’s direction, washing over Grey Worm’s brow-
-And like a puppet whose strings were cut, the commander’s fatigued yet pained expression softened, and he closed his eyes. His head lolled to the side, and he was unconscious.
“A bewitchment…” Jon spoke, and that was the only thing he could think of to describe what he just saw.
“Something like that.” Missandei spoke, still rubbing Grey Worm’s hair. “Vampires use it to relax their victims, lull them into a relaxed state so that they can influence their thoughts with simple suggestion. To bend them to their will, or feed on them where they stand.”
She then scooped her arms under Grey Worm’s shoulders and knees, and effortlessly scooped him up, carrying him to her chest the same Daenerys did with Jon.
“Right now, I’m using it to help him sleep. He needs to be off the field. And for your sake you need to be as far away from here as possible.”
Jon was not near fool enough to ignore her words. He was of a mind to fully agree, after everything he had seen and done. And so he wordlessly nodded back at her.
Missandei nodded back. She turned to her left to the rear of the shield wall, which was twenty men abreast and three rows strong.
“Dovahgedys! Undegon naejot aoha udrazmio!”
One turned to look at Missandei, his face concealed by his grey armoured helm save for his eyes, and he glanced at his brother and gestured his head in her direction.
As one, they turned, and marched up to their commander.
“Gurogon ziryla!” Missandei urged. “Dinagon ziryla hen vilibazma.”
She glanced at one to her left.
The soldier snapped to attention, shield set in front, spear up and at his side.
“Mahagon ia dosh khaleen!”
The solider nodded and turned around to troop off to the left side of the company, where the Dothraki were situated.
Missandei turned back to him as she handed Grey Worm into the waiting arms of his Unsullied brothers, who slung their shields and spears into notches on their back, and carried Grey Worm on their shoulders, a limb on a proffered shoulder, serving as a crude stretcher.
“Ionos, go with them. And do not let me catch you on the battlefield again.”
Jon nodded, duly chastened. The last thing he wanted was to anger the person keeping hostage angry. Especially not a demon slaying dragon knight, or a vampire who could rip out your heart in the blink of an eye.
Jon followed the Unsullied as they closed ranks around him, keeping the men carrying their wounded commander to the centre of the group.
One of them shouted commands to the group, muffled under his helm, and the men began to head further inland, towards the hill that the Dothraki and Drogon had flown down to engage the Dothraki. While it lacked cover, it would be away from the intense fighting, and easily accessible for the Dosh Khaleen to ride up.
Jon heard the roars of a dragon, and glanced back to see, over the red haze of the burning battlefield, rife with smoke, the shadowy outline of what could only be Drogon, striking like the winged shadow he was fabled to be, and tossing up draugr into the air.
He tried to search through the smoke, tried to search for a violet sword, dark armour, a white braided ponytail whipping through the air…
“Help! Somebody fucking help!”
A voice. Female. A railing cry above the screams of the draugr. The accent…Pykish…
Jon looked to his left.
The shield wall was thinner, only one row strong where he looked, but the Unsullied were doing well in driving the draugr back.
But it was the person behind the Draugr that caught Jon’s attention.
A mop of brown hair, a dirty blue-grey coat, one axe swirling and burying into the skull of a roving axeman in the draugr ranks, a panicked, boyish face as she rose her left hand and blocked a sword by her cuffs, using them as a crude shield as Jon did…
"Any of you cockless bastards mind chucking me a fucking spear! A shield even!"
Like Jon, she had found away to sever the chain link between her cuffs, and was fighting for her life. Unlike him, however, she had no help, no means to provide succour for her dire plight.
“Wait…wait!” Jon spoke to the group of Unsullied. “That woman! Let her through the wall! Help her!”
They didn’t stop. The leftmost spearmen spared a glance to the woman and shook their heads, and Jon knew well enough what they meant.
She was dead. No use helping her.
Jon’s feelings were mixed on the pirate queen. She had proven to be a great ally for Robb Stark, and vital for turning the tide against Rh’llor’s superior ground forces. Her ships made sure that more of Robb’s men went home to their families when she captained her fleet of Aether powered skyships.
But she had also been reckless, hasty, and clashed wills with Robb’s when it came to acting out retributionary attacks. They were both stubborn in their ways. Robb wanted to protect his men and win nobly and honourably. Yara simply didn’t like being told what to do.
And today, she had insulted Robb’s authority as King in the North by taking advantage of the exchange to settle her own personal vendetta against the Demon Emperor, and now had complicated matters by gambling on the forsaken loyalty of a psychotic sorcerer, put him in chains and dragged him into the open, where his necromancy was the strongest.
Yara was still a vital ally. It was Rh’llor she had struck at, not Robb, the demon lord she had her man throw a poisoned grenade at, not the King in the North.
If there was a way, a way in which the North could be protected, if Yara could captain her skyships and perhaps prevent Rudaxes from turning Winterfell in to a red magick-corrupted wasteland…
Jon looked at the Unsullied closest to him.
The Unsullied glanced at him in question. “Skoros se…?”
Jon manoeuvred around his back, withdrew the Unsullied’s brass knife, and took off towards the shield wall.
He was still fatigued, but his will to help surged new life into him, a desire to strike at the undead and save his brother's ally, to keep his home safe, blazed through his heart, sending fire into his weary limbs. Call it a second wind.
The two Unsullied in front of him parted in unison, each engaged with a different opponent, and Jon dove through, rolling as he leapt through the gap. He heard the cries of the Unsullied cursing after him.
“Edi mere goamilkaksir!”
“Mhysa kessa ossengaon ilva!”
“Skoros numazma rina Mishanje?!”
Jon didn’t understand what they were saying, but it sounded like they were berating themselves over failing to look after one uninjured man.
Tend to your commander. Don’t worry about me. These days I’m getting good at getting out of scrapes as well as getting into them.
Jon looked up. He saw that Yara was on her knees, forced as such by a horned draugr baring down on her with his one handed notched sword, a grim double-edged weapon with a thin crossguard.
Her arms were trembling, and the draugr’s blade was inching closer and closer to her left shoulder.
And two more draugr were tearing towards her from Jon’s right.
Time to move.
Jon flipped his stolen dagger in his hands, caught it in his two forefingers and thumb and threw it with all his might at the farthest one.
It fell, listing to its right with the dagger buried in his left temple.
Jon bull-rushed the second and closest one, tackling it to the ground by the waist as he did the man of shadows. Its armour felt corroded and rusted in his grip and against his arms, coarse and clanging as he forced it to the ground.
Jon saw the sword, thick and double edged and of a dark grey hue, edged by rust. It held it fast in its right hand and Jon seized it by the wrist. One slam on the ground disarmed it, and Jon darted and snatched the hilt in his sword hand. Jon gave a choked gasp as its skeletal fingers grasped at its throat, but he had a sword of the First Men, and he rose and buried the blade through the draugr’s face.
That did the trick. If in doubt, aim for the head when fighting the undead or any immortal being. Nine times out of ten, decapitation or direct head trauma usually did the trick, regardless of whether you held blessed iron in your hands. The draugr screamed shrilly before its left hand fell from his throat and the cyan blue in its eyes dimmed to milky white.
Jon looked to his left and charged at the horned draugr still intent on carving out Yara’s chest. He swung as the draugr looked up.
Its head fell off its shoulders, and its neck squirted once with vermillion blood and dust, before it fell backwards to the ground.
He turned back to Yara.
Her hand gripped his right arm and pulled him aside. Jon stumbled back as Yara lifted her axe behind her head and threw it hard. It span through the air and struck another horned draugr square in the head. The impact struck the larger undead so hard its legs kicked up and it flew back a few feet from the force of the throw.
Jon looked as another ran at her, and Yara was ready. Her left eye swollen shut barely hindered her as she ducked under the swing of its single-handled warhammer, grabbed its head by its chin and back of its skull and twisted, wrenching its head off its shoulders as she broke its neck.
“Fucking hell.” She cursed and dug into a brown leather pouch in her belt with her left finger, and withdrew her object.
It was a spare speaking crystal. A bit battered and a chip in it, but it still glowed, meaning that it worked.
“R'hllor’s Bad Day, come in! Captain Dorys, tell me you saved my fucking schooner!”
There was a strange whining sound, mixed with the sound of something coarse scraping against a hard surface.
Then a male voice, squeaky through the bizarre interface of which it came from, spoke through it.
“…dy Yara, Lady Yara! Oh thank the Drowned you’re still alive!”
Jon turned at the sound of another group of draugr, low-ranking and poorly armed, hobbling towards him with speed. Yara continued speaking through the crystal as Jon joined battle with them.
He found them easy kills, swatting aside their clumsy blows, hewing off one’s mace arm, then a head, then the legs and the heads of the remaining two with his newest sword. He turned back to Yara as she continued speaking.
“Tell me my girl can still fly or Aseiden help me-”
“We kept her off the field the moment it went to shite, don’t worry! We’re coming in now!
There was the dull growl of the aether drive, less deeper than the longship Jon had heard yet still powerful, and he looked up, as did Yara.
Above them, the oval shaped bottom of the hovering schooner floated above them. A rope ladder unfurled through the smoke and stopped by Yara’s head.
“Dorys, you’re a fucking life-saver.” Yara lifted her crystal to her mouth so close she could kiss it. “You tell your husband that so he believes that I’m nice to you!”
“What is dead may never die, Lady Yara! I live to please!” The rough accented voice replied.
Yara grabbed the ladder by the bottom rung, and then stopped. She looked back at Jon, tipping her chin up at him.
“Hey…thanks for the help, Black wolf. Was in a bit of a bind there. S’pose I owe the Dragon Queen my life as well, come to think of it. You could thank her for me…”
She looked a grim sight with a bloody welt on her chin, a scratch along her right cheek and her swollen shut eye, but the way she moved just then, and now, convinced Jon that she was completely at home in any kind of battle, be it brawling or bloodshed. She glanced at the ladder, considered something with a bite of her lip, then glanced back at him and gestured with her head up at the schooner.
“Or I could get you back to your brother. Assuming he survived the shit hitting the astrolabe, he’ll probably be worried about ya. Best way to…apologise…” She bit out that word, struggling to swallow her infamous pride. “…would be to deliver you back.”
Jon looked at the Unsullied grappling with the Draugr. Nearby, Drogon bellowed as he continued his bloody work in decimating the remainder of the Draugr legion. It seemed that more had appeared since he last checked, but it appeared to be of no consequence.
The Unsullied and Dothraki riders were winning.
Daenerys’s side was winning…
And…if Jon followed his honour…his side…
His side was winning…
So he shook his head, his sweaty dirt-matted black locks waving about him and brushing his face as he did.
“I can’t break an oath and risk gaining Robb another enemy. I have to stay.”
Yara gave him a look up and down, made a gesture with her lips at him, and then nodded.
“Pretty honourable for a bastard, I have to say. You’d fit in well with us with balls like yours. We don’t give two shits about bastards and birth, only about deeds and worth. But…its your choice.” She assented, before adding. “And…thank you, for saving my life.”
Jon nodded back.
“I believe in doing the right thing. Even if it kills me…”
Yara smirked back.
She looked up at the ladder and gave a downward tug.
“I’m good, let’s get the fuck out of here!” She yelled up the ladder, not bothering to use her crystal.
The ladder grew taut, and Yara began to rise, hook her arm over the bottom rung.
Jon suddenly remembered.
“Wait- Lady Yara, the Emperor…Winterfell, his dragon-!”
“I mean to apologise, and I mean to do it right!” Yara spoke, the wind whipping around her hair as she spoke. She reminded Jon of Arya for some reason. Plucky and courageous like her.
“I joined forces with your big brother to make life easier for my Ironborn and I intend to see it through.”
The ladder rose and Yara had to shout as she drew further and further away.
“I’ll get my ships to Winterfell as fast as I can! Your home’s in good hands Jon, and Rh’llor only has one dragon. He’ll be safe!”
“Thank you!” Jon yelled up after her.
Yara nodded back, and turned and began to swing up the ladder.
She rose above the smoke of the battlefield as the hum of the aether-drive began to grow fainter, and then she was gone, disappeared and shrinking into a hazy dark shape floating away from the battle.
Hurry, Yara…please…your fleet may be the only thing that will give the North a fighting chance against the wrath of Rudaxes…
Please… Jon silently prayed.
If I lose my home…if I lose my family…I’ll be nothing…
An explosion made Jon whirl around.
It came from the hot, burning inferno of the battlefield where huge chunks of the ships that Rh’llor destroyed still lay scattered through the field.
Jon readied his blade, but to his surprise, he saw no draugr near him.
They were on their last reserves, Jon realised, as he turned and saw the last of the undead still recklessly clashing against the shield wall of the Unsullied, falling to their dragonglass spears. To Jon’s right, nearby, the dothraki’s arakhs and spears rose and fell as they rode the remaining undead down. Firebolts flew here and there, immolating the more unfortunate draugr.
Another explosion, and Jon turned.
There was a small rise in the field that precipitated the wreckage.
Against Jon’s better judgement, as one would naturally be inclined to move away from loud noises and explosions…
He remembered that Daenerys was still there, still in there.
Fighting Euron, or rather…that Crow Demon…
He forged on, sidestepping a burning chunk that came up to his waist.
Bravery or madness, Jon knew that he couldn't risk having his saviour killed by the Crow's Eye.
He owed her too much at this stage.
Sense told him that she would be fine, that she went toe-to-toe with the Demon Lord and could handle a deceptive sorcerer.
And yet he walked on, further into the flames.
He had to help her.
He had to make sure she was safe...
And so he ventured forth into the inferno, searching for Daenerys.
Right so, next and final chapter of the intro will be written tonight! Then it won't be touched for potentially a year until I finish the fall of Ice, rise of fire series!
Thanks for reading and reviewing so far! You guys are the best!
Man, go Missandei! Omae wa mou, shindeiru. Fatality! Flawless Victory!
And yes, Yara was checking Jon out. Assessing his worth as it were. She is a flirt and a rogue at heart, but of course, read the tags. Jon will have only one great love in this fic...
Valyrian translation- roughly- for the Unsullied carrying Grey Worm's body and responsible for looking after Jon.
-We had one job!
-Mhysa is going to kill us!
-What about Missandei!
Love to my fans!
Chapter 10: Virago Part 2
The duel between Daenerys and Euron reaches its bloody conclusion.
Wow this took me two nights to write.
Thought I'd tie things off here. Takes a lot of energy to write a brutal action scene like this!
Strong bloody violence!
A very cathartic death for those who strongly dislike Euron!
More Jon being a helpless bystander! Don't worry! this series will have him stepping up, but for now, he has to see and be helped by his new friends to appreciate their power. Plus, I like flipping the script and having one of the male heroes be in need of constant saving for once. That way when Jon does step up, it evens out the playing field and establishes Jon as an equal amongst his allies, and with Daenerys :)
Daenerys's moves are inspired by a mixture of Kylo Ren, Anakin and Sauron. Euron, prepare to get wrecked.
Brace yourselves because this is about to get intense.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The nauseating, rank stink of death permeated the battlefield as Jon walked through smoke and fire, searching for Daenerys.
Jon coughed and lifted a hand to his face as he walked further into the burning inferno, keeping a tenuous grip on his stolen draugr sword.
What the hell am I doing? He heard one voice. Turn back you bloody fool!
I have to find her… His heart demanded. I have to save her…save the Dragon Queen.
But what if she doesn’t need help? What if you endanger yourself needlessly again, and she can’t save you! The voice, fear, spoke again… tugging on him, compelling him to turn and flee, to save himself.
I have no choice! Jon forced his fearful voice down. I have to save her. If she needs help...I can’t let her die after doing so little and letting others risk their lives to save me…her people…
His fear subsided, and he trekked on.
The heat was becoming unbearable, and he broke through a cluster of smouldering wooden ship pieces, coughing again, grateful at least for the space.
He looked about, and feared for a moment, that he was lost.
The stench of death pervaded the air, broken after the horrors wrought by flesh and steel clashing where Jon stood, only moments ago.
So much had happened. So much death…so much had come of this day. An simple exchange, the granting of powers under conditions. One step further to ending the senseless war that threatened his home and kept Westeros in perpetual chaos.
Limbo would be a better term. Any description of any one of the seven hells spoken of by the Faith of the Seven would be the best way to describe it, and Kings Landing, after the Demon Lord had landed his forces, would be described as the worst one. The seventh one, in which only the vilest of devils resided, and Emperor Rh’llor was no exception.
A distressed braying noise rung out through the smoke, and Jon looked up to see a burning horse, a blackened grey dapple, flames liking its back and mane, streaking behind it and into the sky as it fled.
Jon watched it bolt past, whinnying in distress and agony, tossing its great wild head about it. It leapt over a jagged shard of Ironborn longship, and disappeared.
Headed back to the Dothraki, Jon thought as he watched the empty space where it was. It must be one of them. Hopefully the blood riders will take care of it. Beautiful creatures, horses…
Jon instinctively turned and crouched under the closest piece of longship, praying that that sound, that…noise that grated against his skull, piercing and making each one of his ear bones ring from the noise. Any more of that hideous, unearthly noise and Jon would have a pounding migraine.
Then something ahead exploded, and a huge black body, trailing green magick flew from the smokescreen.
It sped along its violent trajectory, and crashed into a brace of longship, a piece of deck and a metal cage, likely where the Ironborn stored their cannonballs.
One was still intact, it seemed, as the dark shape flew straight into it and exploded.
Jon ducked to shield himself from the sudden explosion of light and heat searing towards him, and hissed as burning embers scalded his left upraised arm. Brushing it off with his right thumb while still holding his sword, Jon looked up.
From the reddish hue of the detonated cannonball, Jon couldn’t make anything out.
Then, rising from the flames like a skeletal black phoenix…
…the Crow’s Eye arose as if summoned from a portal from the hells themselves.
Raising himself up by his magick, the Crow’s Eye freed himself from his fiery bondage, and deposited himself shakily on the ground away from the flames.
Jon saw him whole. The body covered in a shaggy pelt of pitch black feathers, with pale uncovered and skinny limbs built with soot-stained lithe sinew. Taloned feet, with reptilian scaled toes, three in front and one where the ankle was. Dextrous fingers gripping in each hand a black iron sickle, ridged and notched, yet still deadly sharp, honed to cut through chainmail like a hot knife through butter.
They were stained with blood, and crackled infrequently with a nimbus, a flicker of sickly green magick.
For now, the necromancer appeared to be gathering himself, panting heavily.
I could take him.
Jon was done following his caution.
This thing hurt Daenerys. Hurt and killed so many people. Jon and Robb had heard of the atrocities of the pirate and necromancer, seemingly from every corner of the realm. He was the worst of the Ironborn in his savagery, his dogged tenacity and his mindless cruelty. Even the rumoured bastard son of Roose Bolton, Ramsay Bolton, rumoured to have devilish powers and a sadistic love for skin-flaying, the favoured method of torture for his house, would pale compared to the monstrosity of the Crow’s Eye.
Maybe, while he was distracted…
Jon made ready to creep out of his cover. The back of the head or the neck will have to do. A quick thrust or a hack to incapacitate the Crow, then strike off its head.
Then the Crow’s Eye lifted his bony beak, detecting something, and spun, and Jon was forced to duck down again.
Yet the Crow’s Eye had not seen him, Jon realised.
It was turning, and raising its sickles, it embedded them into the flaming wreckage that it had flown into. Latching into the crumbling wood, the Crow’s Eye snarled and flung it in the opposite direction, where it was previously facing.
Daenerys, bursting through the smoke, without ceremony, speech or preamble, hatred and bloodlust alive in her burning violet eyes, burning brighter in her flaming valyrian steel sword Dark Sister.
Jon’s heart froze so fiercely at the sight he thought he would be struck dead at the sight.
The burning wreckage hurtled through the air towards Daenerys, too quick for her to dodge, surely-
Daenerys sank to her knees and slid across the ground, laying her back flat, something impossible surely for someone in full plate armour for fuck’s sake-
And the wreckage slammed into the ground before her and careened over her, sailing harmlessly over her head.
Not stopping, the dark lord pushed herself up and sprinted head on, snarling through her helm, spinning Dark Sister in her wrist like a brand of dark magick.
It was if history repeated itself. The foe of Daenerys was thrown down before him, and Jon was witnessing a heroic defeat of a fiend at the hands of the dragon queen.
Through the flames she charged, Dark Sister thrumming with burning, fiery energy, a violet beam of light that trailed fire as she spun at the ready.
With a feral, clicking snarl, The Crow’s Eye opened his beak to fill the burning skies with another hellish scream, readied his dark blades, and charged, brandishing his blades crackling with green necrotic lightning.
They met in the centre, and despite the immense force of their blades slamming together, clashing in a grim stalemate, neither gained the advantage.
They appeared equal in strength, and Jon could not have been more terrified.
With Rh’llor, Daenerys had the element of surprise, and by keeping him on the defence, was able to inflict damage.
But then Jon saw the blood on her.
Blood seeped in, shimmering dull red and brown, seeping into the mail.
She had been hurt. Jon realised.
He saw the rips and slashes in her mail, and the rent fissures in her armour. Gouges and brutal slashes.
She had been hurt a lot. Jon paled.
Yet she pressed hard against the taller necromancer’s blades with Dark Sister with no sign of wear of fatigue.
Jon once again, much to his chagrin, realised that the best way he could help Daenerys was to not get in the way.
For now, he was ok with that.
“I will kill you!” Daenerys snarled under her helm, and the frisson that Jon felt pass along his skin was more potent than any words or pulse of magick that he had ever felt in his life.
“I will end you, for everything you have done! You will die today, and I will leave nothing left for your sorcery to heal! You will be nothing, but a smoking pile of broken meat!”
“Ha ha ha ha ha ha!” The Crow’s Eye cackled wretchedly back at her. “I have a ssssoft spot for feisty women like you. But you’ll make a feast for crows yet, after I’m done with you!”
They shoved each other back, blades askew yet easily rebalanced, burning like beacons in their energy, yearning for their foe’s flesh.
And then they went at it.
Dragon and Crow danced, green clashing against a tornado of violet flame.
The Crow’s Eye hacked, thrust and stabbed at an obsisdian armoured warrior who evaded and deflected his strikes.
And with equal zeal, the Dark Lord rained down furious blow after furious blow in a rhythmic pattern of clangs, small clashes of violet and steel firebrand crashing against black iron and emerald tempest, wielded by a fluttering, feathered shadow crowned by a bony snapping beak with black greedy eyes of murderous intent.
They spun about at each other, like ill-suited yet flawlessly rehearsed dance partners, set to the same tune of sword and bloodshed pounding in their hearts and skulls.
They were moving so fast and striking blows so fierce that any blows blocked left cracks in the ground where the force of their impacts had transfused through them into the very ground they fought own.
Fighting to the death.
Daenerys and the Crow’s Eye whirled, stuck, countered and clashed, knight and sorcerer, sickle and sword scraping so fiercely against each other that waves of sparks cascaded from their brutal contact. It showered them, brushing them, burning them.
They paid no heed. In their dance to the death, their blades acted as the will of their raging souls, battling mercilessly for purchase of flesh and bone to meet their metallic kiss.
They came to a halt, Daenerys powering a cleaving strike from her right side that was caught by the Crow’s Eye’s blades. The Crow’s Eye held them there, his arms trembling with great effort staving off her sword.
Then, lifting his arms, he slowly turned Daenerys’s sword over his head to his right side, then shoved Dark Sister away hard with an upward swipe of his blades.
The Crow’s Eye spun, dipping his head and swinging with a spinning kick with his left taloned foot.
Daenerys ducked the blow and stepped forward.
The Crow’s Eye raised his blades and swung down, not hard enough to injure but still firm enough to catch Daenerys’s hands, the hissing sickles burning into the grooves where her vambraces began, and held her there, her arms pinned by her side.
Then the demon opened his beaked maw-
-And twisting his head, lunged and seized Daenerys’s helm in its beak!
Jon’s heart lurched in terror, and a silent scream tore out hoarse and raw from his mouth.
The Crow’s Eye snarled, and he could hear-oh gods no- he could hear her screaming, short and panicked, above the grating of the crow’s beak crushing, scraping against the metal helm and pressing down on her skull at both sides.
Her arms struggled, but were held fast by the villain’s grip.
He had her trapped, and if his beak crushed into her skull any further.
Jon lifted his sword and leapt out of his cover.
He was breaking to a sprint, lifting his sword to sever one of the Crow’s arms, or bury it in his head.
But Daenerys was one step ahead.
With an enraged roar, Daenerys pulled.
Jon saw the change in the shape of the mail under her armour.
Muscle. Contracting. Hardening under that armour, about her legs, her back and her-
Jon had to keep his eyes up not…observe the Dark Lord’s arse, and to stop blushing the hardest he had ever blushed in his whole life, his face heating like Gendry’s forge.
He continued to watch as Daenerys pulled her head back, and with a reserve of strength that could only be considered inhuman, ripped out of the Crow’s Eye’s beak.
The jagged edges and points of the crow’s bony bill scored lines of white along her helm, as she ripped her head away.
Then she brought it crashing forward and cracked the top of the Crows beak.
Jon heard the crunch of bone and winced, as Euron stumbled back.
His sickle’s hold on Daenerys’s arm loosened.
Dark Sister slashed up and sparked as it struck the Crow’s beak.
When it cleared, Dark Sister hung in Daenerys’s hand, poised for another strike.
And Euron Crow’s Eye was stumbling back screaming, holding its smoking beak as two tips fell silently to the ground by it.
The Crow’s Eye pried its trembling bony hands off its beak, and Jon saw the irregular line, the smoking white and red of bone and marrow. Daenerys had sliced the front of its beak off.
And with that advantage, Daenerys pressed it to her full advantage.
Without mercy, Daenerys thrust and stabbed the Crow’s Eye in the left side of its torso, forcing him back. The necromancer screamed and stumbled back, and was forced on the defensive.
Daenerys went on the attack again, and the Crow’s Eye had no chance.
Too stunned from the pain to mount a counter attack, the Crow’s Eye had no choice but to backpedal and block and deflect and bat away a volley of Daenerys’s unceasing barrage of sword strikes.
It was if she seemed to have many arms, each holding Dark Sister, each conjuring a terrifying vortex of violet flame, and all brought to bear, a form of destruction, giving no quarter as Dark Sister ripped into the Crow’s Eye’s faltering defence.
Jon scurried over to the next piece of cover, enraptured.
Win…Win! Come on! Win!
Then the necromancer’s left shoulder caught fire.
Then its right knee was bleeding and sizzling from a cut.
Its left wrist.
Its right shoulder.
Its left calf.
Another slash carved across its beak.
Before long the Crow’s Eye was flailing, screeching, panicking, as score upon score of violet hued sword strikes hit their brutal park.
The turning point came in a heartbeat.
Daenerys shunted aside a desperate twin handed slash, spun and struck upwards.
A violet line of flame and blood blossomed in the Crow’s Eye’s chest from its right hip to its left shoulder. The very force of the swing sent it up into the ear by four feet.
Daenerys’s left hand reached and clutched one of its taloned feet so hard Jon heard the bone snap under her grip like twigs.
Then she swung, in a terrifying feat of brute strength, spinning around the Crow’s Eye about her, before letting go and throwing hard.
Euron Crow’s Eye ploughed through three huge pieces of burning sky-ship wreckage, each leaving a small explosion of splinter and fire.
Daenerys strode forward, not stopping as she walked in the direction of where she had thrown the necromancer.
Then as if he hadn’t just been thrown through three huge pieces of burning shipwreck, the Crow’s Eye surged forth, leaping through the air and baring down on Daenerys, wielding his sickles like reverse handled daggers.
Daenerys spun out of the sickle’s reach and all they hit was the earth.
As Euron tried to remove them, Daenery’s left leg flew up and struck the Crow’s Eye below his severed beak. The sound it made as the plated sabaton crushed the cartilage in its throat was almost hysterically hilarious.
The Crow’s Eye flew backwards and landed on his back, already up and pushing itself away from the advancing Dragon Queen.
The advantage was hers, and Daenerys wasted no time in ensuring that she dominated it, possessing it in fierceness and fiery wrath.
The sound of flesh warping and bone snapping and tendon ripping into place played like demented deathly percussion as the Crow’s Eye’s crushed ankle snapped back into shape.
Somehow, he had still managed to keep a hold onto his blades.
Daenerys decided to change that.
In two strides, Daenerys was on Euron and lifted Dark Sister as if to run Euron through.
The crow-skull necromancer glanced up, panicked and swung at her in a wild, graceless swing of his blade.
Daenerys parried it aside, forcing the swing to strike helplessly at the ground as she did Rh’llor’s Ash Blade.
Then she lifted her right boot and brought it down hard on the black iron blade.
There was a small spark of green magick, issuing forth like the flash-fire grenade of the Children, and Euron lifted his gnarled, clawed hand. His sickle blade now held only a jagged base whereupon the curved black blade formerly sat.
Daenerys rose her blade up and swung down, and Euron was rolling backwards, a tangle of pale, lithe limbs falling about him as he desperately flung himself out of Dark Sister’s biting reach.
Wobbling a bit on his feet, the Crow’s Eye now only brandished one of his sickle blades, and he looked a sight less terrible than he did before.
“You haven’t won yet! You haven’t won anything! I’ll gut you and string you up and serve to your dread master just the way he likes it!”
Holding his sickle blade aloft, the handle lengthened with a crackle of dark magick, and with a maniacal screech, the Crow’s Eye hefted his sickle like a scythe, his left hand joining the base end, and swung it like the deathly reaper he fashioned himself as.
Daenerys dodged the first swipe by leaning back slightly, yet she still advanced. The returning upward swipe that sought to skewer the point deep in her chest, she harmlessly avoided by dancing to her left.
The third swipe she caught by blocking the scythe below the blade, Dark Sister sizzling into the dark timber, while her left gauntlet gripped it like a vice.
“You say you want to gut me? Now there’s an idea…” Daenerys goaded with a snarl.
The Crow’s Eye would not be so easily slain. Raising his right foot, he planted it on Daenerys’s leg and pulled hard, ripping his scythe out of Daenerys’s vice-like hold. The scythe slashed across the top of her pauldrons and breastplate, and Daenerys grunted in pain as blood trailed from the tip of the wicked blade.
The sorcerer rode the momentum, spinning to his left, a full circle and swung at Daenerys’s head, a wisp of black and hissing steel-
-Into Daenerys’s upraised left hand.
Jon winced as the sickle-blade punched clean through the upraised gauntlet, its ravenous point inches away from Daenerys’s temple. She had recovered, seen the strike coming, and blocked it wit her own left hand.
But that blade had skewered her hand! Went right through! How is she not in agony right now!
Her left gauntlet hissed, and her fingers shook, as the cursed blade buried through her hands. If the blade moved any further it would damn near sever the top of her hand!
Daenerys lifted her three-pointed obsidian helm, and her eyes glowed with violet, brimming, burning magic like twin suns. Her fingers closed, defying the blade that was cutting through her hand, halting the advance of the blackened blade.
Dark Sister snarled upwards and down, and the scythe was reduced to a jagged, smoking spear.
Euron couldn’t recover fast enough. Dark Sister ripped through the damaged scythe-
-And sheared off his left arm whole at the shoulder.
The Crow’s Eye screamed as his arm flopped smoking to the ground. Blood and black red ichor spattered out off the gaping wound in his shoulder, and Euron’s remaining hand, still holding his spear, went to his severed shoulder.
Leaving him open for Daenerys’s finishing blow.
Daenerys was spinning away to her right, coming back around with the tip of the necromancer’s blade still lodged in her hand.
Her left gauntlet, their fingertips sharpened to lethal points, supplemented by Euron’s sickle blade, slashed effortlessly through the necromancer’s unprotected stomach.
Euron’s scream was cut short by a guttural, raw gasp at the feel of Daenerys’s claws furrowing through his stomach.
He staggered back, his shoulder forgotten, as he looked down at his black feathered torso, dripping red.
Rivers of blood trickled down the demon’s stomach.
Then it opened.
Two, three, the whole coil of blood red, flanged pitted intestines trickled like a bag of dead snakes, slithering out of his stomach. They fell and trickled out of his feathered abdomen, dragging like gory vestigial tails on the ground between its legs.
Euron Crow’s Eye breaths shook its entire lanky, heavily feathered form, and he looked ahead at the approaching footsteps of his killer.
Daenerys was stepping forward, her right hand clenching, tugging with a bit of resistance, then ripping out the blade dug into her hand.
Now holding the sickle blade, Daenerys thrust her left hand, gripped Euron’s neck about his collar. A series of muffled cracks marked the sound of the Crow’s Eye’s right shoulder breaking under her crushing hold.
Jon could tell that the pain, as made evident by the Crow demon’s wailing screech as it collapsed to its knees was excruciating.
He watched as Daenerys raised the sickle blade and plunged it hard into Euron’s left, black, bulbous eye, his Crow’s Eye.
The severed beak of the Crow’s Eye widened in a cry of wretched agony.
The Dark Lord stepped back as the Crow’s Eye screeched where it lay in the throws of pain.
And then lunged forward, burying her gauntlets into the steaming gash she had made in his stomach.
The Crow’s Eye’s screams were cut short, and then began anew, urgent, mortal and afraid.
Daenerys bured her hands up the wrists, grabbed something, then lifted.
Lifted the larger crow demon by what Jon could only realise was the creature’s spine.
The Crow’s Eye swung its limbs helplessly in panic, its disfigured skull squawking and snapping helplessly at the air, as Daenerys held the demon by its own spine, held it above her as blood and gore dripped on her visor and helmet.
“No! Please!” The Crow demon repeated, over and over, pleading, begging.
The Crow’s Eyes screams grew shorter and more urgent, and a low roar began to build at the back of the Dragon Queen’s throat, hissing through her visor, mist steaming from her breath holes, from the Crow’s wounds-
And with a final scream that Jon could describe, nay, harken back to time primordial, when men were to be as beastly as the monsters that hunted them to survive, Daenerys ripped Euron Crow’s Eye in half.
The execution of the Crow's Eye was heralded by the rip of flesh like paper, the cracking of bone like celery, and a deluge of blood that sprayed from both halves of the Crow's Eye as he flew apart from Daenerys's out-splayed hands.
His upper half was cast aside by her left hand, and flung, trailing blood, discarded like the cook’s unwanted ingredients of a dead animal. The lower half spiralled away, legs kicking uncoordinatedly as their last impulse played out its final command, then flopped lifelessly into a burning pile of shipwreck wood.
The Crow’s Eye, the half of him that remained, raised his right hand up once, its ruined sickle long discarded in its struggle for life, and its stumped beak opened, to give one last hoarse, faint croaking hiss.
Then the bill turned and hit the ground, and The Crow’s Eye…was dead.
Jon resented the clichés, but the horrific sight he had just seen had truly robbed him of his ability to breath. More so horrific a sight was this, than Missandei’s supernatural feat of vampiric strength in killing Blackjaw.
He willed himself…forced himself…to turn his head and look at the Dragon Queen.
He was close enough, even behind cover, to see her in closer detail. Her in the aftermath of the bloody battle that had cruelly terminated not seconds ago.
Her obsidian armoured form was scored by slash marks, burn marks, and various other marks that sullied her obsidian, gleaming dark war suit.
Her upper body was spattered with blood, sprayed with the dark, reddish hue of blood.
Her shoulders and arms…rose, and fell, as she panted harshly from her exertion.
Clouds of mist poured from her visor like the heated breath of the dragon’s nostrils.
And for a time, she simply stood there, acknowledging her victory…no…more like…accepting…coming to terms…that she was alive…that she had survived two brutal fights to the death.
Her duel concluded, Jon could see now all the places where the Crow’s blades and his beaks and his claws had inflicted grievous wounds, wounds that would have bled out and ended any mortal man or woman in battle…
Jon was rooted to the spot in terror, helpless to do anything other than watch.
Watch the gore-stained goddess of war in her blackened armour, scarred and beaten, bloodied, but alive, and conquering, victorious. Stood over the remains of her hard-earned kill like any predator should.
There was no other way to describe this sight. To describe her.
Her bloody talons, stained and sticky with red…
…slowly clenched into fists.
The grate of wet metal was a soft sound almost mute to Jon from where he hid.
But Jon could see the intensity of which Daenerys clenched her clawed gauntlets as they perceptibly began to tremble.
Then, her legs quivered.
And she sagged down on to her knees.
The sight was shocking to say the least for Jon, and he feared that her injuries had over taken her, that her miraculous, terrible powers had been exhausted, and factors that affected a human after battle, the post-adrenaline shock, blood-loss had exacted their toll on her.
But she didn’t faint.
She simply bowed her head, and a short moment passed in which she simply just…rocked her head slowly, forward and aft.
Amidst the burning ruin of the battlefield, Jon could hear behind him a cry go up in cheer. He heard cries of victory, and the clatter of several bodies falling all at once.
“Se qrimbrozagon ikis keliton! Se qrimbrozagon iksis keliton!”
From what little Jon knew of Valyrian, the word qrimbrozagon meant ailment, trouble, or curse.
Keliton meant gone…
Daenerys’s forces were celebrating that the curse…was gone? Broken?
“Se voljes qrimbrozagon iksis morghe! Se voljes laes iksis morghe.”
Jon glanced behind him.
Sure enough, the sounds of battle had stopped, drifting to a silence.
Perhaps, Jon theorised, the Crow’s Eye’s magick was what was keeping the undead alive and moving. With him dead…
The spell was lifted, and his link to them was severed.
And the draugr had fallen. Never to rise, or to spew out of the hellhole he had summoned them from, ever again.
Daenerys…she had done it.
Hope flowered in Jon’s heart, and he looked back to the knelt Dragon Queen.
But she did not look up at the sounds of joy and victory from her Unsullied, nor at the whooping, singing cries of her Unsullied.
Instead, her helmet bobbed, up and down.
And Jon had seen enough warriors in armour to know that defeated posture, that shaking head, from so many men, broken by grief and the horror of war.
She was crying.
“Daenerys…” Jon whispered.
Daenerys threw her head back, and Jon could see a pale chin and throat contract as she opened her mouth and screamed.
And her cry of rage, anger, grief, and bitter pain, bleeding through the cracks in her soul as it did her armour, was not just the cry of a woman who had lost too much.
It was the grief-stricken roar of a dragon.
Echoed only by her son who lifted his massive head nearby and bellowed in sorrowful song with her.
Mourning loss whose blood debt was unsated by the toll of revenge.
Mourning lives that could never be repaid.
Daenerys’s cry filled Jon’s ears and soul to the point of bursting.
It overloaded him, filled him, and then broke him.
At the bleeding of his own heart for her pain, Jon clutched his heart, his soul mortally hewn, and he collapsed to the ground, his sword thudding silently on the grass next to him as he fell.
Darkness nestled him in its embrace as he passed out.
When he opened his eyes, his mind sought to make merriment of his traumatised, shaken sanity.
For his eyes did see a small blonde haired and pale-skinned boy in a white robe.
He was surrounded by a shimmering blue hue, and he was standing in front of Daenerys.
Waiting for her to look up, as she knelt forward on the ground.
Now that was brutal.
Next and final, final chapter of the Dragon Queen preview will be up tomorrow night. It will be a short and very, very emotional end to the introduction.
I thank everyone who has read so far and has left kudos and reviews!
Stay tuned and love to my fans!
Also I should just point out- Euron's Crow form is inspired by Valravn from Hellblade Senua's Sacrifice.
I had to listen the all fatalities on Alien from Mortal Kombat X to get in the mindset of Daenerys finishing Euron. The ripping in half kill is inspired by one of Sub-Zero's fatalities.
Chapter 11: A Dawn Without You...
The truth revealed...
The stakes established...
The fate of two heroes decided...
Infant mortality and the death of a beloved character referenced.
Discussion of a heaven-like afterlife.
Grief and reference to death of a child.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Jon opened his eyes.
Felt the sting of the cut re-opening across his left eye brow and cheek.
He pushed himself up, feeling the dry earth and grass beneath his calloused hands.
His limbs, slackened by fatigue, exhausted, like his back carried a sack of stone. His legs slowly followed, and his knees soon braced him.
Slowly, he willed himself to sit up upon his feet.
Kneeling, he looked ahead, to where the grieving Dragon Queen was.
And there she was, resplendent in armour, ripped and torn, scarred obsidian.
Her head was still bowed, her form bent forward, hands curled into fists, prone and bowed in her state of grief.
Jon could not see much of her, for a strange light, pulsing blue, was obscuring part of his vision.
And then he saw him.
A blonde haired boy. Jon could only see the back of him, dressed in a white robe that covered his arms and chest, with another robe garmenting his legs.
A full head of tussled, silvery-white hair sat on the boys head, and Jon had wondered if he was dying, and the angel that the faith of the old and the new preached of had visited him to deliver him beyond the vale of death.
The sound of the boy’s voice as he spoke was not ethereal, echoing or great. Nor was it like the sounds of many harps and many voices singing in unison, loud and deafening.
It was a small, diminutive, fragile sound.
As if the boy was no mere spirit, but alive and present here in the world, as real as the smell of blood and wood burning that filled Jon’s nostrils.
The boy spoke.
The dark lord…no…Daenerys…that’s what she could only be to him now.
Not evil, not dark. Never evil.
Slowly, delicately, she lifted herself from the ground.
Jon could see the red in her violet eyes, puffy and pink from tears both terrible and tearing.
They widened under the helm as they beheld the spirit…the soul?...
The boy…in front of her.
Her entire chest seemed to tremble, as she took in a shaky breath.
Her shock was evident in her frozen form, and her eyes scanned the boy all over. Searching him, seeing him, pouring over every detail of him.
As if she doubted. As if by…seeing him, actually seeing him with her eyes, would end the apparition as quickly as she looked upon him.
Her knelt form, that was moments ago the architect of the Crow’s Eye’s grisly end, was a statue. As if moving would send away this creature like the deer, so delicate and flighty a sight, a visage that it would dance away at the slightest noise.
Finally, after what felt like a moment, her voice spoke through her visor.
And it was almost unrecognisable.
The blonde little head, surely that of a boy no more than eight…
…Dipped in response.
Under her helm’s eye slits, Jon saw the woman’s eyes squint, glistening with the deluge of tears that came.
Her form shook, and it was clear that she was holding back a bitter sobbing fit. Her gasps held a metallic echo to them, as they burst uncontrollably from her mouth.
And Jon’s hear slowly tore in half at the sight.
All fear abandoning her, at the knowledge that he was real, she lifted up her right hand, reaching up to him.
“Baely…” Her voice was the heartbroken whimper of pain Jon felt no woman should ever have to experience.
Her blood-stained taloned gauntlet was the claws of a monster, wracked in agony. The fingers shook as she desperately reached for the boy…
“My baby…” Her head shook with the wrenching throws of grief, and she bent forward, her hand now going to her visor, covering her visor and eye holes.
At the sight of his mother grieving, the boy spoke again.
“Don’t be sad, Mumma.”
But weep painfully, Daenerys did. Her left gauntlet raked into the earth, curling into a fist, and her other hand covering her face-concealing helm did little to stem or smother the agonising sobs coming from her frame.
Jon felt them…
His own tears. Flowing silently, burning like fire, down his dirt and blood-stained cheeks.
Grieving…at her grief…
The boy, her son…
He was too young…too young to have…
His hand went to cover his mouth, to smother his sob.
Too young…the little boy…what happened to him?
Daenerys…I am so sorry…
Her voice could still be heard as she spoke again, a whimpering moan as she mourned him anew
“My baby…my little Baelor…”
She looked up, her hand falling away, and leant back up.
Then her gauntlets reached up, and with deft precision, she worked and worried at a single strap that secured her helm to her face under her chin.
With shaking hands, she loosened the small buckle, a leather strap.
The dark, three-pointed helm appeared to widen, and Jon realised that the sides of her helm accompanying the visor face-plate were what helped keep her helm secured to her head.
Then, her gauntlets left the loosened strap, and moved to her helm.
She pulled it slowly off.
And Jon’s heart was slain by the very sight that met him.
Her face was much younger looking than Jon realised, though he sensed by the look of her, the wear of her, the maturity about her, that she neared three and ten years of age.
Her puffy eyes were shining violet jewels bathed in a sea of raw grief, and blood and ash stained her cheeks. Drops of browned-blood had seeped through her holes of her visor, leaving hardly any space about her unmarked despite her helm covering her face. Dirt and grim marked her eyes and cheeks, like the war-paint of a wildling warrior.
There was a single small red-line, a scar, that covered over her right eye and ended someway down her cheek, and of all the brutal injuries Jon had witnessed her suffer and yet come walking away from, he wandered why this scar had not healed.
She had taken wounds that would slay any man, and Jon wondered as to where else the Dragon Queen had scars that had not healed.
Her face was a rounded shape, and Jon could only think of angels…no…angels did not do the justice at the terrifying, alien, heart-stopping beauty that assailed his heart.
Jon thought himself mad that he would find this woman grieving to be the most beautiful sight he had ever witnessed, and may the Old take him if this was the falsest lie, the falsest promise of his heart to this dragon in mortal form before him now.
Her eyebrows were wide and slender, and her nose was simple and faultless, and her lips were full, yet dried and cracked and scored with healed welts. Like a woman starved…there was a leanness about her despite the fullness of her cherubic face…
Her hair…was the rays of the moon, braided about her head in a regal crown in its own right. Two braids twined and held fast to each side of her head, and the rest was bound in an elaborate knot behind her. Jon, remembering that he saw the tail stretching down past her neck to her shoulders, realised that her hair was long, and he marvelled at how she had kept her long flowing hair so well maintained, and hidden under her imposing dark helm. Like her face, it was stained with blood and dirt.
Jon knew the form of which she reminded him of, of a creature of ancient legend, written of in fear by the First Men, depicted in the cave drawings and ancient texts of an obscure language, a creature that signalled the coming of terrifying, earth-shattering fury, and resolute, merciless justice in their coming.
His mind failed him in recollection…but Jon somehow knew it would come to him…
Jon’s mind and heart aflame, they pieced together the voice, the actions, the memory, the feelings, the fear, the honest to gods admiration he felt for the woman…bonding them, joining them…to that face as she spoke.
This woman fought Rh’llor the Demon Emperor with sword and magic
This woman fought Euron Crow’s Eye, the world’s most feared pirate and necromancer and slew him in battle, ripping him apart with her bare hands.
This woman rode dragons, marshalled a kingdom and her own army, in her bid to retake the Iron Throne, ruling in the far off lands of Mereen s the rightful queen that her namesake suggested. The Liberator, the Breaker of Chains…
And Jon was helplessly besotted with her.
“I thought…” Her voice was raw, the harmony of her strong voice broken by her outpouring of pain. “I thought…that if I killed enough…if I threw myself into battle…after battle…this death wish…of mine that I have held since you and Rhaegal left my life…would be fulfilled…and I would see you again…”
Her lips trembled as she spoke.
“No more would I see your smile in a dream…No more would I wake to expect you sleeping in your cot, or curled up with Rhaegal by the fire, only to be met with absence and silence.”
Jon knew grief.
But nothing, he realised, could compare to the agonising absence that a mother felt at the loss of her child. The loss of someone that was once a part of you…Jon could not fathom…the pain that the Dragon Queen was in.
“I thought…if death would finally take me…I would see you again…and if I did…I would never let you go…I would atone…for all the wrongs I did…for all the times I should have left Rh’llor to protect you…keep you safe from his evil snare…Rhaegal tried to warn me… and like the fool I was…”
Her face creased as her grief overpowered her.
“…I didn’t listen until it was too late…and I lost you both…”
“I am so…so sorry…for everything… I failed you…as a mother…and I lost you forever…”
Her eyes bled tears anew and she pressed her hands to her face again.
And when Jon saw her talons begin to dig into her skin, pressing hard into her skull and hair, he wanted to call out, to run to her and tell her to stop.
The spirit of the boy had the same mind.
“Mumma, don’t hurt yourself…don’t be bad to yourself again.” His soft voice begged her.
“Don’t be sad, Mumma…don’t be sad.” His own voice was fragile, and it cracked under the child’s sadness as well.
“I’m ok.” He croaked. “I’m ok…and I’m safe…you don’t have to worry about me now.”
Daenerys’s talons pulled away from her head, and Jon’s heart felt a bony chill at the sight of the wounds made by her talons already healing, though the small pores of blood remained.
“Nothing…” She spoke. “…nothing can ever replace you. Nothing can!”
Her right hand lifted and beat hard, brutally pummelling against her breastplate intemperately.
“How can I go on knowing that you are no longer with me…that I…”
She drew in a ragged breath.
“…that it was my fault.” Her words choked to a whisper.
“That I…that I…”
No more words came, for she could not say anymore, and Jon’s heart pained and wondered with the quiet voice of dread of what lay behind the words that wouldn’t come.
Baely spoke to fill the gap left by his mother.
“It wasn’t your fault, Mumma. It wasn’t. The bad man…the bad shadow…it was his fault. I know what kind of person you are. And Rhaegal knows too.”
At her dragon’s name, she looked up.
“Rhaegal?” She softly spoke.
The blonde head dipped again as the boy nodded.
“Rhaegal is with me. Rhaegal is with me…where I am…” he looked up and about him.
Jon caught the glimpse of a small curved nose, dark eyes and baby teeth peering through as he appeared to squint, trying to work out where he was.
“I don’t really know where here is…but…” he looked back at Daenerys. “Its really warm…and its safe…and there’s lots of nice people here. I don’t know their names, but they look after me. There’s animals here. And Rhaegal is with me. He gets to look after me, just like before.”
Jon didn’t know whether to laugh in hysterical joy at the child casually describing what could only be some kind of afterlife. The other side, which he spoke of.
But he felt relief and happiness bloom in his heart as Daenerys’s face appeared to soften, and the heart-wrenching grief that she had felt appeared to leave, to…dissolve away.
Her cracked lips joined together and a half-smile formed. More tears fell and drew lines down her stained face, washing away the blood and the grime of the battle she had thrown herself so recklessly into.
And Jon’s heart bottomed out at the sight. Melted to the bottom of his ribcage.
She is…so beautiful…
“Oh- Rhaegal wanted to tell you as well!” The boy spoke, his feet doing a little antsy dance as he remembered something important that he was clearly tasked with priority to say.
“He wanted to say…that you shouldn’t try and hurt yourself to see us. We’re ok now. And we don’t hurt anymore. We’re not hurting and we don’t want you to worry about us.”
More tears fell down the dragon who may as well be a fey in Jon’s eyes, but she wept no more. Her face seemed to loosen its agonised tension, as peace, poured its warm waters into her broken heart.
“Brother Rhaegal plays with me every day, and we see a lot of nice things. I can’t remember everything we see or do.” Baely spoke, his small hands clenching and unclenching the cuffs of his white sleeves as he laboured to recall an abstract memory.
“It’s like, when you have a really nice dream and you wake up and you can’t remember it. You know its nice but you can’t find it or remember it.”
Daenerys nodded, and sniffled, clearing her nose.
“You always had such lovely dreams…and I listened to them all…as many as I could…because every word out of your mouth was precious to me. Every moment.”
“Rhaegal says that he misses you, but doesn’t want you to feel bad or be nasty to yourself.” Jon only now noticed how clipped his accent was. It was almost like his mothers, imperial and classy, suggesting a well-educated background.
“He misses Mister Drogon and Mister Viserion and wishes he could play and hunt with them as before. He wants Mister Drogon to not be so angry to himself, and he wants Mister Viserion to not be cold. Its not like him to be cold. He loves his brothers very very much as he does his mumma, and he knows he will see them and you again.”
Baely completed his message.
And Daenerys sniffled again, and lifted her left gauntlet to wipe her face as gently as she could.
She spoke again.
“I wish I could hold you in my arms again…to just…carry you as I did with Rhaegal, as I did with you as a baby…”
She lowered her head and softly shook it.
“Must you be another ghost that I speak with…I can’t do this alone without you. I can’t face the monsters of this world…face him…alone.”
Another tear dripped from her eyes and onto her mailed legs.
And Baely spoke again.
“But you aren’t alone, Mumma.”
Daenerys looked up, mustering an effort to put on a brave face, to stem the tide of her tears and allow herself to listen to her son.
“You have Uncle Grey Worm, and Auntie Missandei. You have Mister Drogon and Mister Viserion to look after you. And Uncle Selmy and Ser Jorah want to tell you that they are proud of you too.”
Daenerys nodded, her bottom lip trembling for but a moment, and she managed a smile, weak but sincere.
“Thank you…thank you. My star-heart. My baby.”
She nodded to herself, as if re-affirming a promise to herself, before she looked up again.
“I’ll find a way to get you back. I’ll find you and Rhaegal, and I’ll bring you home! Do you hear me? Mumma is going to cross all the realms and move heaven and earth so that she can find you… do you understand?”
Baely was silent.
And at his reticence, Daenerys’s face fell.
“There has to be a way…the Barrow…that place…when I make sure my allies are safe, I am coming North to the Barrow as fast as I can. I will get you two back. I will bring you back!”
Her eyebrows tilted in an expression that rended Jon’s heart.
“I promise…my baby boy, I promise.”
Baely’s head lowered as he appeared to mull over her words, and Jon pondered of them as well.
Did Daenerys…seek to bring her sons of dragonblood and of her own flesh back from the dead? To bring them back from the other side, from the Ether of the unknown, from the afterlife and into her world?
Did she truly mean to undo death itself to save the people she loved?
But the way Baely spoke…about him wishing for her not to worry about him…
And the way he hesitated…
Did he not want his mother to bring him back to life?
Baely small voice broke Jon’s reverie. He was looking up to his left, his small face fixated on something.
Jon looked up where he was looking, and saw nothing.
Just a flying black bird. It looked like a crow or a raven. The first of many it seemed to swoop in and scavenge on the dead.
A feast for fucking crows indeed…
“Mumma…there’s a nice man…” Baely spoke slowly. “He has a pet raven, with a third eye on his head. He’s a bit creepy looking but he says nice things. He tells me that…if you want to…”
“If you want to save your sons…go North to the Barrow, in Brandon’s Gift. The one that Queen Alysane, the lady I had a dream of who was singing to me…the one that she visited and met a grumpy old wolf lord…”
Queen Alysane…wife of the Good King Jaehaerys, who visited the North and Winterfell in her lord husband’s stead, and befriended the miserly, cynical Lord Alaric Stark.
“Yes I remember, my love, I do.” Daenerys nodded enthusiastically, sniffling again.
“It will be dangerous, and the Emperor will try and stop you. You have to take someone with you, and keep him safe.”
“I…” Now it was Daenerys’s turn to hesitate. “I know of whom you speak. The dream of spring…he is the key.”
Baely looked away from the distant bird, and titled his head, as if he was puzzling something out.
Or hearing something.
“He’s more than that, Mumma. I know it. He can help you too. He can keep you safe just as much as you keep him.”
Baely nodded, fully convinced now.
“He was meant to help you.”
“I…” Daenerys faltered and looked away. “I don’t know if…”
“He knows magick, Mumma. And he’s brave too. He can do more than he thinks, and you have to show him like you showed me, remember?”
Jon saw from the change of shape in his puffy cheeks that he was smiling.
“Like…the same story told again and again. Just…different places and different times…but it ends the same way…”
He bounced on his feet, and Jon noticed that he wore no coverings or shoes so to speak.
“A happy ending. You and him, together…beating the bad man and being happy together…on a really nice beach…I love beaches,” Baely commented to himself. “Rhaegal loves beaches too…”
Daenerys looked aside.
“I…do not think…that’s…very sweet of you to say, Baely but-“
“And do you know how I am super sure, Mumma? Really really sure?” Baely interrupted, unable to contain his excitement.
And at the sweetness of his bubbly voice, Daenerys’s eyes crinkled again as she fought to stem another wave of tears.
They came nonetheless. Two solitary drops from each of her eyes, rounding her cheeks and down her chin to drip away.
“How are you so sure, Baely?” She managed to ask.
The boy turned.
Jon looked on him, and his heart melted. He was, for want of better words, adorable to look upon. His eyes were dark brown, and his face like his mother’s held a round shape, though baby fat still hung to his cheeks.
He smiled, and a brace of irregular baby teeth, one of the incisors chipped and the others growing through at varying stages greeted him.
And Jon realised that he was looking right at him. The spirit was looking at him.
He could only gasp, as the boy turned to fully face him, and raised his right hand to point his small finger at him.
“Because he can see me too.”
And as he lowered his hand…
He began to fade.
Stars gathered like dew drops and drifted away from the bottom of his robe.
Jon looked past the spirit to Daenerys.
She had seen it too, her eyes flickering down to the boy’s feet, and then up at Baely. Mounting horror crossed her heavenly face.
“N…no…no, Baely. Baely!” Her voice rose with urgency, and she was on her feet.
Something made her hold back, but conflict was etched on her face, as though she desired to lunge forward and hold Baely fast in her arms, stop him from leaving, and yet, if she did, she may risk damaging or harming him.
Like she didn’t trust herself to hold him without hurting him.
Baely turned back to his mother.
“I’ll be ok, Mumma. Rhaegal’s looking after me. You got to look after your family and my brothers, ok?”
“No no, no! Don’t go, please, please!” Daenerys made her decision. She took a step forward.
But Baely’s form was shimmering and gently drifting away into gems of starlight.
“We’ll see each other again, Mumma.” He called out. “I love you…a-and I’ll be watching too when the nice raven man lets me!”
“Baely…” She took another step forward, lifting up her hand.
“You’ll find a way to save everyone, I know it!” Baely’s form was now almost completely gone. “I believe in you, Mumma. I always have, and Rhaegal too! We all believe in you!”
She stepped forward-
But Baely’s blonde hair gently melted away into twilight, and the stars floated away, up into the air.
Daenerys reached where her son once stood, clutching at the empty air, at the stars, at everywhere.
“Look to the North, Mumma. Go where Alysane went…you’ll find the way…”
Baely’s small voice echoed in the air, as it transcended the ethereal.
“…And Jon will help you…every step of the way…”
“No…no, no, no no….”
Daenerys looked up helplessly, as the gem stars eluded her grasp, and drifted upwards, away from her gauntleted hands…
And Jon looked up to see the stars fly away, and twinkle out into the evening air…
The distant call of a dragon, proud and mighty like Drogons, sung out in the distance. It was harmonious, a high-pitched call that sent shivers down Jon’s spine.
The raven cawed, flapped its wings to end its hovering, and flew away.
Northwards, Jon absently thought to himself…
Daenerys’s sniffles brought him back from his star-gazing.
He looked to see Daenerys in the broken state of grief, an old, hideous wound reopened and bleeding into her soul.
She was looking at her gauntlets, blood-stained, clawed monstrosities, and her fingers were trembling.
Jon was not a man to simply stand by and do nothing. When evil acted, when the good suffered, when the people he loved agonised and toiled needlessly, his heart was stirred and he had to act.
Whatever came next in his life, Jon knew that he would do his damnedest by heaven or earth to live his life, to act on decisions that he knew he would never regret.
And right now, the most beautiful woman in the world he had ever known was in grief and crying.
So what came next to him was as natural as breathing.
Daenerys’s knees gave. She made as if to fall on her knees again-
Jon strode forward-
-And caught her in his arms.
She was slackened strength, coiled in armour and a regal feminine shape that took his breath away, and his hands had reached under her pauldrons, cupping the sweat-sodden mail to hold her arms up.
Her gauntlets came up, their sharp points settling, latching onto his arms, and Jon half-expected her to rip his hands off for even daring to touch her-
But they stayed, and did not rend or cut into his arms. He felt their sharp points, but they did not cut into the skin of his muscular forearms.
Her braided white hair was in his nose, and he inhaled as he sought to steady her-
-she smelt of the tang of sweat, and blood, and woodsmoke. She smelt of coals, an essence of a perfume, sweet and cloying, the ghost of it still residing in her hair, mingled with her own scent.
Jon had to steady his stance. The woman was pure muscle garbed in the most lethal set of battle-scarred obsidian armour he had ever witnessed. Nothing, Jon realised, could stop her from killing him no matter how hard he fought.
Jon’s heart thundered heavily in his chest at that knowledge, compounded with what he had just seen her fucking do to the Crow’s Eye…
And to his shame, he did not feel terror. The fear he felt only heightened the burgeoning desire he was feeling for her.
Beautiful and terrible like the dragons she rode…
Jon stood and lifted her upright, making sure that her knees were straight before loosening his grip, not wanting to drop her.
She must be exhausted…exhausted after fighting for her life twice…
“I’ve got you.” He found himself repeating. He must look a sight himself. His simple tunic was ripped and slashed in places, as were his breeches.
His body ached from bruises, and he didn’t need to sniff at his armpits to know that he stank to high heaven with blood and sweat and smoke. He felt the caking muck of mud on him, his arms, knees and facel, and he hoped his wound over his left eye wouldn’t become corrupted.
“I’ve got you.”
Daenerys slowly looked up at him.
Her face was more lovely to look on even closer, and damn it all, it took everything for him not to just…stare into her violet eyes, gems, stones of light that were too bright, too vivid, too powerful to be anything considered human…
And he held her, letting go of her armpits, and lowering his hands to her sides, above her hips.
Her cloudy expression, riven by distress as her eyebrows indicated, and the anguish in her eyes…
She broke eye contact and looked down at his slashed tunic.
“I’ve lost the star of my heart…”
Jon followed the compulsion to wrap his arms around further around the Dragon Queen.
Her armour was warm, so warm, as if all of her armour was fresh from the furnace and her very dragon heart was the fire that burned.
“You haven’t lost everything.” He softly spoke, and gods help him if his voice sounded husky, he didn’t mean it to-
“You have your family. You have your armies…who would follow you into the gates of hell if you ordered it.”
And what Jon did next, he would only tell it to himself, later on, assuming he survived that long, that he followed his heart, and held no regrets.
He stood back, placed his left leg back.
He held her right hand in both of his hands, and squeezed it sincerely, as he went to his knee before her.
“And you have me.”
Daenerys looked at him, at each of his eyes as her eyes darted over him, as if trying to assess if he was perhaps ill, or mad.
“You…you are my hostage…in a time of war…I have demanded that your brother surrender you to me as part of a deal to ensure his lands are kept safe-”
“Winterfell is no longer safe…” Jon spoke. “And it sounds like…if you forgive my boldness…that you need every bit of help you can get.”
Shock crossed her blood-stained face, and Daenerys was at a loss for words.
Jon chose to continue for her.
“Join with Winterfell. Join with the North. We have a common enemy…and we can only be stronger together…House Stark… and House Targaryen…”
He nodded as he spoke.
Daenerys’s lips moved to form words that never came.
And when they did come, they were still of disbelief.
“You…you cannot know what you pledge yourself to…”
And at her disbelief…her refusal to accept that the world coming to an end could be stopped, could be salvaged from this dark day in which evil fled to plot their destruction another day…
Jon wanted to say many things.
He wanted to say that none of it mattered. That he knew that he would be safe with her and that he would never be hurt while in her company.
That they could join forces and the war would end, in the face of the only war that mattered. The war of light and life against the shadows of the devil.
That he wanted to help her, help her sons return, or at least, help her find the peace in her heart that seemed to be denied at her at every turn by the darkness both outside and within her.
That he thought that she was the most beautiful woman in the world and that if she chose to, she could end his life right this moment and he would die with no complaint, and yet if she wished it, he would serve her and protect her for the rest of his life, from this day to his last day.
That he thought…no…he knew…
That she was the woman on the beach in his dreams-
Something moved behind her.
Jon looked past Daenerys’s left side, where the sheath of Dark Sister formerly lay on her hip.
The severed upper half of the Crow’s Eye was moving. It had dragged its corpse and propped itself up against a nearby boulder.
The crow’s beak was opening, and the whole upper body, arm, feathery hide and hideous shape whole-
-lifted by some dark art possessing it, villainous black hearted sorcery.
The beak peeled, ripped at the hinges, and from the ugly chasm, a human head, sticky with blood, birthed from the yawning, ripping flesh of the Crow Demon’s bony maw.
Euron Greyjoy’s rage-filled face, his hair matted to his skull, his left eye gouged by the blade of his own sickle still lodged in it.
His right hand rose, and a wisp, a shadowy line, a blade, no, a shadowy spear manifested, snapping into existence in his palm.
Euron cast his arm back and throw the spear.
Time seemed to slow as Jon moved…
Jon rose to his feet and shoved Daenerys aside. The force required meant he had to grab her sides and push her bodily away with all of his fading strength.
Daenerys was flung away by the force of his shove.
The spear shot forth.
Jon looked up in time to see the jagged point, tapered to a single sharp needle like quill-
-punch into his chest.
Jon remembered falling, the pain ripping through his heart like tissue paper.
The left side of his torso stung. The punching sensation coupled with the stinging pain of dark magick steel cutting his flesh-
He looked down.
Saw the spear handle jutting from his chest.
He was on the ground, and somewhere…his vision…his senses were failing him because, everything was now so far away…drifting away…
A dragon was roaring.
The pain of the spear skewering his chest was his lungs, his breathing, his every sensation.
Gods- this hurts…
He saw him, the Crow’s Eye with Euron’s head sat in its beaked mouth, the upper and lower beak parting and ripping aside.
He could hear him…hear him laugh.
“It doesn’t matter…It doesn’t matter!” He was cackling to himself.
Jon blinked to clear his vision. It was blurring and the images of fire and death were blurring into one.
Jon realised he couldn’t breathe.
When he opened them again, Daenerys was striding towards Euron.
And when she grabbed his neck and drew back her arm, gauntlet curling into a mace-like fist, Euron was laughing.
“I’m the man…who killed Jo-”
Daenerys’s right fist drove down, and between the boulder his head was resting down and the unstoppable force of the Dragon Queen’s fist, Euron didn’t have a hope in hell of surviving what came next.
Euron’s skull exploded in a shower of blood and bone as Daenerys’s fist crushed it into a pulpy mass.
When she withdraw it, gore fastening and pulling dripping from his skull like glue, only his lower jaw remained.
A wet rattling noise was heard as the last of the air escaping his throat mingled with saliva and blood.
And then he was still.
Dead this time…for good.
Jon’s chest stung. He was beginning to lose feeling.
His eyes closed.
When he woke, he was being carried. The warm metallic embrace of the Dragon Queen was around him, and sleep beckoned for his weary head to rest.
She was approaching Drogon, storming towards him in a hurry.
As she approached his wing, Jon spared one last glance at the Dragon Queen.
Jon realised, as she clambered up Drogon’s wing.
“Just hold on! Hold on!” She was saying to him…
I will hold on, Daenerys…
I’ll hold on to you for as long as I live…
The wrath of the old gods in angelic warrior form…
Punisher of the wicked…
The prized love of all the old heroes…dragonslayers and beast fighters…
The chooser of the slain.
Daenerys had set him down, and then…the wind was, brushing past his air…it made his wound sting.
Then his chest was burning, and Daenerys’s hand was on it, burning bright.
The pain of her magick searing his flesh sent him hurtling into sleep’s warm busom…
Chooser of the slain…
Somewhere, Jon heard Arya’s voice screaming his name in horror…
Chooser of the slain…
To be continued.
Credit to BB's Theme from Death Stranding, Beauty Killed the Beast Part 5 from King Kong and other sad songs I had to listen to put this out.
Do please leave a kudos and a review, and for my fans, I hope to see you all next year when I come back to this story and write it out in full!
Love to my fans!