A Song of Rock and Fire

Lanncaster Log 10

Toten sat back in his chair sipping wine, the light from the braziers casting a flickering glow over the table, reflecting off of the platters and goblets. Outside, a steady autumn wind blew, making the tent billow and flap, ominous, but holding the chill at bay.

The knights around him were talking, solemnly telling stories, adventures they’d had in their lives, some good, some bad, some strange.

“What about you, Ya Grace?” Tommen said. “I know ya’ve done a lotta stuffs, but what stories you got?”

Toten could feel the other men’s eyes turn toward him. Jaime’s cunning green. Robrik’s wizened brown. But Toten looked past them, and saw only the pale blue of Whalen Lanncaster’s.

Waves lapped against the side of the longboat as the oars plunged in and out of the water, carrying them closer to Pyke, other men at arms bustling around them. One southron man vomited over the side. Whalen’s blue eyes looked down at Toten. “We’ll be there soon, boy,” he said, roughly clapping a hand on Toten’s shoulder. “Remember why we’re here, boy.”

“To keep the kingdoms united, right?” Toten asked, putting on his helm, trying to adjust the too big metal to sit comfortably on him.

“Ha, well, I suppose that’s true enough. But honor, boy! This is where we’ll claim honor for our house. Hasn’t my brother been teaching you anything back at that castle? Kill the enemy, boy. That’s how you’ll claim your honor.”

“Yes, uncle,” Toten replied.

“Good, good. Me? I plan on being the first one off this boat, you’ll see. And you’d better not fall behind, I expect you right there next to me. I won’t have a Lanncaster fall behind, no. I’ll be the first one off and the first to meet the kraken’s in combat. And then they’ll all see what uses we have.”

Above them a whistle sounded. “Land ahead! Make ready!”

“You heard him! What are you waiting for, boy? Fetch my armor and suit me up. Be quick about it. I won’t be late to the field!”

Toten ran and retrieved his uncle’s armor, and quickly began strapping it on to Whalen. Not far off the bow of the ship, Toten could see the rocky shore of Pyke growing ever closer, its rocky coast rising from the morning mists like teeth from the water, the sea wall shining dully in the morning sun. The air was crisp and tense, as if it knew of the impending battle. Behind and around them, more ships were sliding out of the mist, banners flying high.

The oars began to hit the water faster, harder. Whalen stood at the bow of the ship, his sword drawn, armor gleaming brightly and boldly. Toten drew his own steel and stood next to his uncle, sure that this must be what the heroes of old had felt like, riding nobly into battle.

The bow of the ship crunched onto the stony shore of Pyke, driving itself far up onto the beach. Whalen leapt over the gunwale and onto the ground, Toten not far behind. “Lanncaster!” his uncle cried, running forward toward the sea wall, his sword held high and gleaming brightly.

In front of him, a massive figure rose behind the sea wall. A large kraken helm topped a huge man, clad fully in black plate armor. Despite its weight, the kraken vaulted over the sea wall as if his armor were made of paper, landing with an ominous crunch on the stones below. He held a massive, heavy headed axe in one hand, its edge sharpened into a vicious sheen.

Whalen Lanncaster froze in his charge and for a moment Toten feared he would retreat. But his uncle set his shoulders in determination. Toten had never seen anything so glorious. His uncle charged forward, purpose guiding his steps, and raised his sword, a yell of battle echoing off the cliffs ahead. Whalen’s opponent stepped forward to meet him, the axe rising high.

Toten heard no sound but a sharp swish. His uncle turned, his blue eyes confused. Toten saw the tear clean through Whalen’s armor, from right shoulder to left hip, his uncle had been cleaved straight through in one swipe. Blood flowed like a river from the gash, and Toten could not understand how his uncle had not fallen in two. Whalen’s eyes flickered in one last moment of life, and he fell, his blood and organs staining the rocks on the shore.

The kraken turned his gaze to Toten. His eyes widened in fright. Toten tried to adjust his helm, but the oversized piece of metal must have fallen off in the charge up the shore. The kraken came closer. Toten tightened his grip on his sword, holding it in front of him with both hands.

Toten heard a menacing laugh from beneath the black kraken helm, as if its occupant was amused by his effort. The kraken advanced and raised his axe, preparing to strike. Toten stepped back with his right foot, just like Ser Robrik had taught him, putting his weight on it, ready to accept the blow and strike back. The axe fell as Toten’s foot touched the wet rocks, and slipped. Toten slipped back as the axe struck him with a blinding flash of white light. Toten fell bodily to the rocks, the left side of his face warm and sticky. He tried to move but couldn’t; he could barely see as the black armored man stepped over him to meet the rest of the men now rushing up the beach. He tried to call out but the pain was too intense. Men rushed around and over him, kicking and stepping on him as the waves slipped higher and higher over his body, as Toten closed his eyes to the world.

Toten opened his eyes. A serious faced man held him in his arms, carrying Toten up the beach towards the town outside Pyke. As his view came into focus, he recognized the man as Eddard Stark, his father’s old friend, they had met briefly at Lannisport. “L-lord…Stark…” Ned looked down at him, eyes wide. “Just hush boy. We’ll get you to the maester. I’ll take care of you.” The Lord of Winterfell picked up his pace, his very worried looking. Toten faded away again, days passing in and out of consciousness, until Pyke was behind him, and he was headed for home, his uncle Whalen’s bones in his care.

The tent slowly came back into focus, Toten staring off into the dimness as the braziers burned low, the eyes of the knights studying him closely. Toten was silent for some time. While the events of his past were always close to him, he had not thought of the full story for some time. He thought of how he’d acted after the rebellion, how he’d been so focused on honor and the Lannisters, distrusting them and overcome with thoughts of glory over them, how he had acted when discovering who Lons was. He had been so influenced by his uncle’s ideas and teachings on the journey to the Greyjoy rebellion, but he had never quite realized how much until now.

The conversation continued around him, the knights talking to each other. Toten would add a word or two when necessary, but sipped at his wine, staring off into the past long after his guests had left and the braziers had burned out, and all that was left was the pale blue of eyes of a man long since closed.

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A Knight of Honor 3
The Whitebook

Ser Lance of House Swyft. Firstborn son of Ser Hugo, a Hedge Knight. Served as squire for his father. Knighted by his father in his 16th year on upon his father’s death bed. Won the tournament and melee at Starfall, and was named as sworn shield to House Dayne of High Hermitage. Given the truth of Lady Gabriella Targaryen’s parentage and shared this truth with House Martell. Served as the Hidden Dragon’s sworn protector at Sunspear until her marriage to Lord Toten Lanncaster. Slew twelve men at the battle of Lannisport while wearing the reclaimed armor of Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, winning the port. Chosen for the Kingsguard in his 38th year, by Queen Gabriella I Targaryen.

Lance’s was a far easier entry for Robrik than the last two. Ser Arys Oakheart’s had been a sour addition.

Executed by hanging at the Usurper King Stannis Baratheon’s orders after forsaking his vows and betraying King Joffrey I Baratheon to Stannis’ army by opening Maegor’s Holdfast to avenge his slain younger brother.

The sentence had taken him nearly an hour to compose with the correct amount of fairness given to the traitor knight. Ser Barristan’s had taken less time, but was perhaps the harder.

Dismissed from service by King Joffrey I Baratheon in his 61st year, for reasons of advanced age.

The old knight deserved more than that, and Robrik couldn’t help but feel he was sitting the spot Ser Barristan belonged in. The White Tower was covered in white stone, white banners, and furniture made from white weirwood. It was a glorious place of honor, and Robrik was still too much the silly northern knight traveled south to feel comfort there. He sighed, dipped his quill, and began another entry.

Ser Gerold of House Dayne. Firstborn son of Ser Dagon of High Hermitage. Served as squire to Prince Oberyn Martell. Knighted in his 17th year by Prince Oberyn Martell for slaying four hedge knights and then their wives, who questioned his skill with a blade. Promptly sent away by Prince Oberyn and thereafter known as “the Darkstar”. Captured Ser Edmure Tully of Riverrun in a night attack on Ser Edmure’s camps during the War of Kings. Slew Lord Kyn Serett in a raid on his camps during the War of Kings. Chosen for the Kingsguard in his 24th year by Queen Gabriella I Targaryen. Presented the valyrian steel blade ‘Dawn’ and named the Sword of the Morning. Protected the Queen personally in the attack on King’s Landing in the year 300, winning back the Iron Throne for House Targaryen.

The Darkstar was an easy man to write of, though Robrik hoped he’d not have to add more dishonor to the man’s page some day. Three pages remained for him to write and he feared two of them. He began on the third.

Ser Brienne of House Tarth. Sole living child of Lord Selwyn of Evenfall Hall. Known as “the Maid of Tarth” since youth. A household member of Storm’s End under Lord Renly Baratheon. Winner of the grand melee at Bronzegate. Named a member of the Usurper King Renly I Baratheon’s Rainbowguard, and given the title of Brienne the Blue. Falsely accused for King Renly’s death and saved by Lady Gabriella Lanncaster of House Dayne, thereafter taken into her service. The first knighted woman in history in her 27th year, by Queen Gabriella I Targaryen. Chosen for the Kingsguard by Queen Gabriella thereafter. Protected the Queen personally in the attack on King’s Landing in the year 300, winning back the Iron Throne for House Targaryen.

Robrik had been delicate with Brienne’s page and wished her nothing but honor. She was loyal, true, and a fierce blade, all one needs to be a Kingsguard despite what did or didn’t swing between their legs. He looked at the started name for the next page for sometime before turning the page once more and beginning to write.

Ser Robrik of House Cassel. Secondborn son to Ser Gayne serving at Winterfell. Served as squire to his cousin Ser Rodrik Cassel. Saved the Maid Betsy from Slavers in his 13th year. Knighted by his cousin in his 18th year for unhorsing him at the tournament at Harrenhal. Unhorsed at said tournament by the Champion, Prince Rhaegar Targaryen. Fought in Robert’s Rebellion under the command of Lord Natan Lanncaster. Lost the lives of fifty of his men in a foolish charge upon Targaryen Bannermen, saved by Lord Natan Lanncaster. Slew eight men at the Battle of the Bells in the span of a minute’s time, killing over twenty in total by day’s end. Failed to protect Lord Natan Lanncaster in the Battle of the Trident, resulting in Lord Natan’s permanent crippling. Met his life’s love, Madge, during his service at Rockfall thereafter. Champion of the tournament at Runestone in his 25th year, unhorsing Lord Yohn Royce. Champion of the tournament at Bronzegate in his 28th year, unhorsing Ser Jorah Mormont. Lost to Ser Jaime Lannister in the tournament at King’s Landing in his 40th year. Helped end the threat of the Happy Fellows bandit troupe with Lord Toten Lanncaster, Ser Barristan Selmy, and Maester Lons, the Melee Maester. Champion of the tournament at Highgarden in his 40th year, unhorsing Ser Loras Tyrell. Protector of Lady Gabriella Lanncaster of House Dayne during her captivity by Catelyn Stark and Lysa Arryn in the Vale, and all her travels thereafter. Slew Ser Eagon the Fierce in the Battle of Highgarden. Slew Ser Inris Lannister, the Lion’s Roar, in the reclaiming of Casterly Rock. Chosen for the Kingsguard and named its Lord Commander by Queen Gabriella I Targaryen in his 42nd year. Champion of the Queen’s ascension tournament at Casterly Rock.

Robrik put the quill down after some time and sighed. He’d wished to be more scathing to himself in the middle, but decided to leave it as he had. His life had many tournaments and many stories in it, but those he’d wrote were the most important to him. His tournament victories always brought grand memories to the front and were a staple of the Whitebook. However, the proudest moments in his life all involved House Lanncaster, and no tournament could supplant them. Finally, he turned the page back to the last entry he’d have to write. He didn’t know how long he stared at the page before he started writing, nor how long it took him. All Ser Robrik knew was it was a task of pain and reverence to a good man.

Ser Loras of House Tyrell. Thirdborn son to Lord Mace of Highgarden. Served as page and squire to Lord Renly Baratheon. Knighted in his 16th year by Lord Renly Baratheon for becoming champion of the tournament at Storm’s End, unhorsing Ser Godrik Gaines. Thereafter known as “the Knight of Flowers”. Champion of the tournament at Highgarden in his 16th year, unhorsing Ser Garlan Tyrell. Champion of the tournament at Crakehall in his 16th year, unhorsing Ser Tybolt Crakehall. Champion of the tournament at Riverrun in his 16th year, unhorsing Ser Lyn Corbray. Named Lord Commander of Usurper King Renly Baratheon’s Rainbowguard in his 18th year until Renly’s death some months later. Reclaimed the Eastern Halls in the reclamation of Casterly Rock. Chosen for the Kingsguard in his 19th year, by Queen Gabriella I Targaryen. Served as honor guard to King Toten Lanncaster during the Red Wedding. Took four mortal crossbow wounds and a knife wound at the onset of the Red Wedding. Slew a dozen men before, dead on his feet, pushing King Toten from the Twins into the Green Fork, saving the King’s life. Slain by a dozen crossbow bolts to his back. May his honor and glory never be forgot.

The page had splotched in places where Robrik had dropped tears. The boy had be brash and quick tempered at times and always he craved glory he blindly thought he’d never have. His relationship with Renly was always a matter of talk and rumor, and Robrik had found out personally the rumors to be true. He had been young and had much to learn, but despite it all Loras was the greatest of them. Ser Loras Tyrell died with honor and a glory no man could surpass. His name would be remembered for aeons along the likes of Ser Arthur Dayne, Ser Barristan Selmy, and Ser Duncan the Tall.

As Robrik went to close the White Book the pages turned back a few to land open on Ser Jaime Lannister. Robrik read, and then wrote.

Ser Jaime of House Lannister. Firstborn son of Lord Tywin and Lady Joanna of Casterly Rock. Served against the Kingswood Brotherhood as squire to Lord Roland Crakehall. Knighted in his 15th year by Ser Arthur Dayne of the Kingsguard, for valor in the field. Chosen for the Kingsguard in his 15th year by King Aerys II Targaryen. During the sack of King’s Landing , slew Aerys II Targaryen at the foot of the Iron Throne. Thereafter known as the “Kingslayer”. Pardoned for his crimes by King Robert I Baratheon. Served in the honor guard that brought his sister the Lady Cersei Lannister to King’s Landing to wed King Robert. Champion in the tourney held at King’s Landing on the occasion of their wedding. Champion of the tourney at King’s Landing, unhorsing Ser Robrik Cassel. Maimed and captured at the Battle of Highgarden by Lord Toten Lanncaster. Stripped of his cloak by Queen Gabriella I Targaryen. Found and rescued King Toten Lanncaster, lost in the riverlands, saving his life many times on the journey. Thereafter known as the “Kingsaver”. Kingsguard status returned by Queen Gabriella I Targaryen at the behest of her husband King Toten Lanncaster.

Robrik closed the book and smiled. He thought of how much things can change in so short a time, then his face turned to rock. Robrik and the King were going home.

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Cassel Corner

Robrik looked over the map, tallying the numbers of dead and wounded, plotting Stannis’ probable movements after his rout from Riverrun. He heard the tent flap open behind him.

“Put the papers on the table, boy,” he growled, not looking up.

“It’s good to see you too, Robrik.”

The old knight felt his heart freeze. He looked up. The boy was standing there, tall and broad as ever, that same grin he’d known for almost thirty years shining through his scarred face. Other men were intimidated when they looked at that face, the scar crinkling around his eyes, but Robrik saw the boy he’d helped raise.

Robrik stood, willing himself still. “Tot…Your Grace, he said softly, his voice wavering. Toten stepped forward and grasped Robrik, pulling him close. The old knight clutched the boy to him, his face pressed next to Toten’s. Despite himself, Robrik felt a tear roll down his wrinkled face.

“I thought I’d lost you boy…”

The younger man separated them. “You almost did.” Standing there, he looked so much like Natan, tall and strapping in his armor. Robrik couldn’t help but smile, his mind running back to a different time.

Robrik hoisted himself to his feet. Blood ran down his arm. Death was everywhere. The screams of the wounded and dying almost drowned out the roar of the trident. In the distance he could see the banners of Baratheon men everywhere. Grunting, he made his way through the remnants of the battlefield. Soon he spotted the Lanncaster banners and made his way towards them, trying to ignore the increasing number of dead friends he was passing.

Robrik stopped as two men at arms rushed past, carrying a third on a stretcher between them. He almost gave them no notice but a flash of hard leather striped in green and gold caught his eye.

“My lord! Lord Natan!” He took off after them, catching up next to the stretcher. Natan Lanncaster’s pained face looked up at him, sweat and blood staining his face. Robrik could see a grievous wound on his lord’s leg, somewhere above the knee, but the flowing blood prevented him from seeing where it was coming from.

“Robrik…” Natan’s voice was faint as his hand groped about. Cassel took it and held on, as they kept hurrying toward the hastily erected tent for the wounded. “I’m here my lord!”

“We’ve done it my friend,” Natan managed softly. “Selmy surrendered.”

As they burst into the tent, the men at arms rushed off to find a maester, leaving Natan laying on a table, Robrik beside him. “Natan, you turned the battle. Your movements reeled the dragons. Men throughout the kingdoms will speak of it.”

Natan managed a small laugh. “Men will speak of Robert and how he shattered Rhaegar. They’ll all but forget me.” Natan closed his eyes.

The men at arms ran back, hustling balding maester between them, his robes more red than gray now. He bent over Natan and looked at his leg, tutting.

“I’ll do what I can, but chances are I’ll have to take his leg, if he even makes it through. I’ve seen men with die with lesser wounds. Take him over there.”

Natan’s eyes opened and his grip on Robrik’s hand felt like steel as the men began to lift him. “Robrik,” his voice came strong somehow, despite his injury. “You care for them, Robrik. Toten, Lena.You raise them right in my stead. You watch make sure they don’t come to harm!” The men hurried him away, tearing him from his grip on Robrik.

“They’re yours now, Robrik!” he yelled as they moved him out of sight. “Take care of them!”

Robrik stood transfixed after his lord and friend, his hand dripping with Natan’s blood.

“As you command, my lord.”

Robrik kept his eyes on Toten all through their meeting, refusing to let the boy out of his sight again. I won’t fail you again, my lord, he thought, remembering Natan’s smiling face, so much like his son’s. I’ll protect my son.

As you command.

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Heart of a Dragon
Mind of a Maester

Lons left the pyramid, planning a defense of the city with Selmy as they walked out. “I’ll do my best to take care of the bay.” Selmy nodded. “I’ll give them hell outside the gates, we have to do something about those catapults.” the old warrior said with a youthful confidence that Lons knew was warranted. The two parted, each wishing the other good fortune in the daunting tasks set ahead of them. The knight moved towards a task he had done hundreds of times, marshaling his troops against an enemy that had been known to them. He knew what he was doing. Trepidation and uncertainty ruled Lons’ consciousness as he faced a task even his razor sharp mind couldn’t grasp. Tyeen ran up to him, catching him before he left to a fate even he wasn’t sure of. He thought of the boy, Quentin… the blackened and charred body haunting his mind, the skin sloughing off like that of a roast hog. That could be his fate, his mind warned. “Lons, where are you going?” Tyeen asked, ripping him back to the real world. “I have to go take care of the bay, the Yunkai are trying to bring the flux into the city through the docks, they’ve already begun to spread the disease with the trebuchets.”

“And just how do you plan to do this?”

“The dragons… it’s the only way.”

“What? Lons, I know you’re a little mad, but this is completely insane.”

“I don’t see any other option. I have to try.”

“Your going to try to ride a dragon. Is that what I’m hearing?”

“Yes, if there is anyone qualified here to try this, it would be me, Tyeen.” Lons said, finding the boost to his confidence a welcome boon.

“Lons… you realize you’d be turned to ash the instant you approached the-”

Lons raised a hand, gently understanding but allowing no more argument. His mind was made up, even if his heart wasn’t.

“Lons, just promise me… that you’ll come back.”

“I give you my word. I’ll return.”

“I mean it, Lons. If anything even looks remotely wrong… promise me. Promise me that you’ll turn around and leave.”

“I promise, Tyeen.” he said with a smile, embracing her for what might be the last time. “I’ll be back.”

Lons hobbled out away from the Great Pyramid and into the desolate night. Tyeen stood watching until he was lost into the night, praying to any god she’d ever heard of to bring him back safe.

As Lons walked, he fought an inner war amongst the shadows of the night.

‘This is insane.’ he told himself. All he knew about these creatures was from dusty old tomes, and none of them specified anything about riding a dragon. It was something the ancient myths were made of, surely nothing more than tales told of exaggerated heroism carried out by legendary warriors and sorcerers.
Lons was no hero. He was no walking legend…

Still, he pressed on, the click of his cane echoing through the alleyways and vacant streets of the great city. Just days before, the city had been a vibrant, bustling place with peace and prosperity. Now, it was a mere ghost town, a shade of it’s former self. It had been left to die like so many other cities, languishing back into its’ ways of enslavement and greed.

‘No. Heroes are born of circumstance. There is no blood of heroes, coursing through the veins of a lucky few. It is the stalwart man, in the face of an insurmountable challenge, that forges a hero.’

He thought of those hundreds of dagger length teeth, the massive, predatory eyes gazing at him. They were no trifling matter, Rhaegal was the size of 4 wagons and Viserion was not too far behind him. They were much different than the whelps he had met during their youth.

He thought of the flames, the stories welled to mind, the horrors of dragons’ fire, melting men alive in their armor. Even the mightiest of knights could not best a dragon. Whole cities had fallen trying to kill them.

He thought of the boy again. That burnt body, gasping for nothing but death to ease the pain. And there would be no milk of the poppy for him, if that were his fate. Nothing but searing agony until he drew his final breath.

‘No, I can’t do this.’ he thought.

“You must.” he said aloud, a wave of fear washing over him.

The fear took hold deep within his bones, and he stopped at a crossroad.

The night was silent, waiting expectantly.

He willed the fear down, imagining it passing through his feet and dissipating into the ground.

“I have to do this.” he said aloud.

“Fear cripples only those who let it.” he continued, trying to will himself forward. Still, he didn’t budge.

“I am in service to the Mother of Dragons. This city was entrusted to my care… Fear is the only wall in my way. And fear, is just a creation of the mind.” he said, feeling his courage well up. The stories of ancient warriors and tales of heroic stands against horrors unknown rose up in his minds’ eye.

He thought of something he and Marwyyn had talked about once. Whether Dragonblood was a real thing, a blood line that let some live fearlessly while others cowered. Lons had argued that it was not the blood, but merely a state of mind that let them exert their will on the world, much like the sorcerers had done for millenia.

“I have surpassed everything in my path for this very moment. Failure will not exist. Viserion and I will ride into battle. It is already done.” he said, with finality.

He took a step forward.

Then another.

Slowly, he kept moving through the city, corpses littering some of the street around him, stricken with the flux. An audience of hundreds of hollow, lifeless eyes watched as he began a feat not attempted in at least a hundred years.

He finally reached the large pyramid. The doors had been thrown aside as if the building had vomited out its’ contents. People had left everything, money, lavish possessions. The top of the building was cracked open like a massive stone egg.

Lons entered the top of the building, the click of his cane echoing through the broken building. Timber had been piled up in the middle, parts of the stone were scorched, some small fires still burning.

In the corner, a large white form hung. Lons paused.

“Fear not the dragon, nor the fear within your heart.” he said, half whisper, half prayer.

Two orange eyes opened, gazing at him with that familiar predator’s stare. He felt himself sized up, as a chunk of meat might be. The thought was unsettling, but he let it pass.

The great dragon shifted, dropping from the ceiling and whirling around in mid-air with a grace unfitting of a creature that size. He landed with a stone shaking thud. Sandstone cracked and splintered beneath him as the dragons claws sunk into the soft rock. The sound reverberated through the pyramid, and through Lons.

Strangely, he felt a sense of serenity come over him. There was no fear. No trepidation. There was nothing but Lons and the dragon. Viserion padded over to him, the massive creature dwarfing the crippled man.

A low throaty growl came from Viserion as he stopped mere inches from Lons face. When the dragon exhaled, it felt as if a searing desert wind had struck him. He had to fight to keep his balance. Viserion reared back, letting out an ear splitting roar as he shot a massive burst of hellfire into the wall. Lons watched as stone began to melt and still he felt nothing. There was a task that needed to be done, and he was here to see it through. The gold flecked fire was astonishing in its’ illusory beauty.

“Viserion.” he yelled, sternly. The dragon moved forward, eyeing him with sidelong glances and bared fangs. Those dagger length teeth that had shredded larger men than him threatened him with a vicious, bloody death. Somewhere, deep within, he felt a pang of fear. It wasn’t him talking. It was just the worthless part of his mind now.

He didn’t give the creature an inch. “Viserion, to me.” he commanded as calm and collected as if he were finalizing ledgers in his office at Rockfall.

The dragon moved forward, rearing back again. Lons thought for sure that he would be dead in an instant. Suddenly, the white dragon nuzzled against him as he had when he was young, begging for his cinnamon.

Lons hesitated a moment.

“Down, Viserion.” he said, in the same commanding tone.

The dragon obliged, lowering its’ head. Not so much in supplication, but as a privilege.

Lons slowly climbed onto his back, surprised that the creature did not double back and end him in any manner of horrifying ways. Lons could feel the power of the massive creature between his knees, every gigantic breath pulsing through his own body. Somehow, this felt right.

His cane clattered to the ground. He felt like he should care, the cane had been one of the only things to afford him any mobility whatsoever. It seemed an insignificant matter now.

Every movement of muscle was enormously powerful. Every inch of the creature was bred of dominance and violence. And yet, the intelligence of a dragon was not something to be trifled with. Without warning, the creature leaped off the ground, as effortlessly as if it had a fly on its’ back.

Lons held on for dear life, squeezing his knees against Viserion’s neck. His hands found purchase between slabs of inch thick scale, the intrusion less bothersome than a flea on an elephant. The night air rushed over him, moonlit clouds racing to greet him and Viserion as the pair climbed ever higher into the night sky. In the distance, Lons could see the ships in the harbor, moving towards the inner port. Selmy’s war raged by the front gate, but the clatter of swords had fallen away.

Within seconds, they had reached the cloud bank. Cool mists rushed past Lons, wetting his clothing quickly and making the hand holds that much more difficult to grab hold of. The slick dragon scales were as treacherous as they were hauntingly beautiful. The pair broke through the top of the clouds and Lons could do nothing but marvel at a sight no man could even imagine. The full moon shone high in the sky, as if it were a symbol of hope in a despaired time.

“A cripple can even fly.” Lons murmured with a smile, in awe of the sights before him.

As if on queue, Viserion rolled over,tucking his wings in and dropping from the sky. Lons held on with all his might, praying he wouldn’t slip. The sense of speed was immense as they fell, the dragon more at home here than anywhere in the world. The sky was his domain, and he aimed to keep it that way. The cityscape raced into view as the dragon dropped altitude, dropping lower and lower. Suddenly, a mere one hundred feet off the ground, he opened his wings, gliding only inches from the ocean. The salt spray covered both of them, Viserion’s body glistening in the full moon like some haunted monster of a child’s nightmare. His wingtips dipped into the darkened water, casting a vapor trail behind them. Lons nudged Viserion towards the left, lining him up with the ships moving on the harbor. The dragon already knew what to do, crashing into the masts of two of the ships, breaking the masts and capsizing the vessels like a toddler bashes toy soldiers together. Screams echoed from below as they moved on the others. Lons knew he wasn’t commanding him, so much as he was along for the ride. The dragon knew what needed to be done without any orders. Lons would have to pen this experience one day.

Lons felt a rumble within the beast, watching as a massive bout of flame engulfed the fleet, Viserion torching each of the boats as they flew overhead. Soldiers screamed and jumped from the vessels into the cold ocean, burning as they fell.

The fleet was in shambles by the time they had finished. Hundreds flailed among the waves rather than risk death in the infernos of the Valantese fleet. Many more weren’t so lucky.

Lons nudged Viserion again, but the great creature was already making for the battle on the ground, torching the trebuchets as they flew overhead. Wood exploded as the siege weapons ignited like tinder.
Soldiers broke rank, running for their lives.

He squeezed his knees, willing the creature to land behind a forming army on the outskirts of the battle. Brown Ben-Plumm stood before the warriors, giving a speech of heroism and courage, of glory and honor.

“What are you all quivering for, you craven bastards?”

The men pointed towards Lons. The scholar couldn’t help but smile.

Brown Ben turned and nearly exploded of fright.

“Y-yield. Yield!” he yelled, putting his hands up. His sword clattered to the ground.

Lons grinned. “A wise choice, my friend.”

Viserion roared and beat his wings to get back off the ground. Ranks of Brown Ben’s troops were tossed off their feet with the gale. Again, the air raced past them. The sensation was too beautiful for words as man and dragon relished in the freedom of the sky. The battle had seemed to go their way. The fleet was on fire, burning in the waves. Half the bay burned, covered in oil slicks and tinder, preventing any real approach. The ground battle was being mopped up by Selmy and The Unsullied, the army working with a cold-blooded efficiency. Dawn broke as Viserion perched on the battlements. The sunlight flooded the city, for the first time in a hundred years, a dragon was sighted on a battlefield, being ridden by a scholar, no less.

In the distance, a mercenary company marched onto the field, crashing into the remaining Yunkai forces. The Golden Company was a strong, respected unit. And they flew Targaryen banners under their sigil. A few outriders moved to meet Selmy. In the bay, House Greyjoy’s fleet had moved on the remainder of the massive Valantese fleet, crushing them as a Kraken would crush a crab.

Lons flew out to meet the riders.

Viserion landed with a thud, the massive creature startling the horses by its’ mere presence. A man spoke. The voice unfamiliar to Lons. “I am here to marry you, Daenerys Targaryen.” From his vantage point atop the dragon, he could see the characteristic silver hair and purple eyes, obviously a dragon in his own right. It would seem Daenerys was not the last of the dragons. “I didn’t know you swung that way.” Lons retorted with a smile, Viserion moving his head out of the way at just the right moment.

The look of shock on the man’s face was priceless.

The other man stammered, nearly falling off his horse. “It-It’s Lons!” he shouted, as the familiar voice of Ser Jorah Mormont echoed through his ears. Lons wondered when Dany would return. Despite all of this, his rightful place was beside her.

For now, the Sorcerer of Mereen would have to make do. The city needed someone to run it, and if not the Mother of Dragons, the Rider of Dragons would have to suffice.

Stonewing flew in from nowhere, landing on Ser Jorah’s shoulder. Jorah turned to look at the bird as it tilted it’s head. “BACOOON!” the bird shrieked, rearing back and pecking him square in the center of his forehead in an exaggerated manner. The pockmark swelled. Jorah cursed loudly, flailing as he tried to hit Stonewing, who flew off to a nearby tree. His caws seemed to echo in a laughing tone. The party laughed as a new day dawned on the city.

Lons grinned. “We missed you, Ser Jorah.”

(This is why I was up until 1:30 last night… I went through and changed some wording/proofread it just now, but again, I’m going to call it done, lest I screw everything up :P Special thanks to Monsieurs Brobert and Tony for really making this world come to life. And of course, our lovely Lady Lauren for all of her awesomeness.)

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The scorched saint
Or the demon in the darkness.

Lons awoke in a dark cavern. There was nothing but pitch dark everywhere.
Scrabbling claws echoed through what must have been a darkened chamber of massive proportions. He saw a distant light, slowly getting larger. At first nothing more than a pinprick, it swelled to a gigantic ball of fire. As it got closer, Lons realized it was a raven. Or, more precisely, a raven made entirely of fire, ash and embers. He stood up, noticing there was no pain in his leg. His cane! That was gone too. His hip was fine, he noted as he examined it for the scar of the arrow. There was nothing.

He furrowed his brow and turned to look at this fire creature. Strangely, he wasn’t terrified. More curious than anything. The beast was welcoming, even. It tilted it’s head, eyes of literal fire gazing into him, as if taking note of something he didn’t see himself. The creature cawed, the sound abnormal as it echoed through the darkness hauntingly. It was as if a raven’s caw had mixed with the roar of a bonfire. It turned and headed deeper into what appeared to be a cavern.

The walls were ancient. They seemed to be obsidian, Lons mused, almost distantly. He was moving upwards now, taking man-made steps up a path, following the fire-bird. It cawed again, beckoning him on. Torches ignited as he walked past, each blazing more intense. The heat of them was comforting, even though it seemed as if it should scorch his skin. The bird stopped near the top of the path, waiting for him to arrive.

The torches ignited walls of fire for the last several steps. Lons paused, feeling the intense heat as he stood. Hesitantly, he moved through the first wall. The fire didn’t scorch him, though he felt something in him fall away. Something he couldn’t quite place, but was all too freeing.

No, that was it. His fear of the future was falling away. His fear, in general, fell away.
He stood before the massive bird of flame and embers. It beat its’ wings furiously, kicking up a firestorm of embers, ash and flame. Again, he felt something change. He saw things more clearly, more vividly. The non-essential parts of the scene seemed to fall away, and it was simply him and the magnificent beast.

“Why have you brought me here?” Lons asked, unfazed by the heat and flame or the spectacle before him.

A voice spoke clearly. Not from the bird, but from his past.

It was Marwyyn.

“You must light the obsidian candle. That is your goal while you stand this vigil. Without it, you will spend the night in darkness.”

A small black candle appeared before him. It wasn’t just any candle. The same candle he had tried, in futility, to light as a young student of the citadel.

“There are always new paths to knowledge” He heard this voice clearly, knowing it was the great bird before him. THe voice was in his head and he momentarily wondered if he had gone insane.
“What are these paths? I’ve read many books and studied many things. Do you mean magic?” Lons inquired, tilting his head at the bird, who seemed to mirror his movements.
“You’ve touched a world deeper than you ever thought possible, young child of fire. Let the curiosity that burns within you light your path, and all will come clear.”

“What does that mean?”

“Look into the flames. They will guide your path.”

“Look into the…” Lons paused. "

The bird reared back before opening it’s maw, revealing an even brighter flame. It glowed white hot as the bird fanned it’s wings again. The ball of white, searing hot, skin melting fire hit Lons.

Suddenly, he awoke to Tyene stroking his hair.

“Lons…” she whispered. “What happened?”

“Gods Tyene…” Lons stammered. “I never thought I’d hear your voice again.”

“How long was I…” she asked after a few moments. Lons had sent several of the Unsullied to get water. For the first time, Lons witnessed a look of genuine fear on the grisled warriors faces.
“Perhaps half an hour’s glass.” Lons whispered, his eyes closed, leaning back against the bed. “I can’t be certain.” He was exhausted. This whole endeavor had demolished him.
Both Lons and Tyene drank water, together. Such a simple act neither never expected to do again. They sat in silence for a moment, simply aware that the other was breathing next to them was enough for now.

After all they’d both experienced, they were entitled to this.

“Lons… It was… terrifying. I was being attacked by these shadows. Their claws grabbing me. I-” she paused, her voice quivering for the first time in quite a while. “I never want to experience that again.”

Lons nodded. Neither did he.

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A cleansing of fire
And a baptism of shadows

Lons spoke with Dany in the massive chamber, just the two of them for once in a great while.

“Lons, I want you to know, that after this is over… if you want to leave Mareen, I won’t hold any ill will against you. You can head back to Westeros and I promise you, that when we meet again, it will be on good terms.”
Lons smiled. He’d come a long way from the necessary betrayal that punctuated his early relationship with Dany. “Truth be told, I don’t what I want to do. So much has changed since I first came to Qarth. I don’t know.”
“How’s Tyene doing?” Dany asked, genuinely concerned.
Lons lowered his head. He didn’t want to talk about this, though he respected her concern for their friend. “I’ve done all I can. She’s been unconscious for the past few days… it’s…it’s out of my hands now.” he said quietly. Those words stung like a million of the finest arrows.
The one patient he’d ever failed…
No, he hadn’t failed.
Not yet.

He managed to keep himself outwardly composed, though Dany had that pecuilar way of understanding him, knowing what was truly ticking inside his head.

“Now, I’d like you to go spend the rest of the evening doing whatever you need to do. Take some to rest or something. I’ll see you tomorrow for the feast, okay?”
Lons couldn’t help but smile. “Yes, we’ll speak then. Have a good night, your grace.” he said, turning to hobble out of the chambers.

He made his way down to the quarantined area where two Unsullied guarded the floor. Air and Fang stood guard in perfect disciplined formation. He nodded to the two of them as he went in to check on Tyene.

He opened the door to see a dimly lit room. Seeing Tyene laying there, seemingly wasting away nearly broke his heart. But there was always hope. He sighed and crossed the threshold.
Something was wrong.

He approached her, “Tyene. I’ve brought some milk for you.” he said, knowing full well she was unconscious.

Something was very, very wrong. He placed a hand on her chest.
She wasn’t breathing. There was no pulse.
He stormed out of the room. ‘I can’t be here.’ he thought, heading up to his bedroom for some type of reprieve. The woman he’d loved had just died and he’d been utterly powerless to do anything for her.

He sat down, head in his hands as he tried to recollect his thoughts, knowing his Queen would need him tomorrow. Suddenly, his eyes fell on the Kiss of R’hllor. It was open to a very familiar page.

His eyes quickly scanned it. Upon realizing what it was, he rushed down to her chambers, commanding several Unsullied to grab items for the ritual. His leg was seething in pain by the time he reached the chamber. The Unsullied had already grabbed the brazers and brought them to the chamber. He grabbed a large dull iron bowl and a butcher’s knife. He held his arm above it and for a quick moment thought about what he had to do.
“Faith and more faith.” the old priests notes read.

He closed his eyes and sunk the blade into his flesh. He wanted to cry out from the pain, but held it back. The blood came oozing out and quickly filled up the bowl. He slapped a piece of rag around the wound and quickly tied it down. This work needed to be quick and his own pain didn’t bother him at this point.

Nothing else mattered to the maester. Not the wedding, not the siege. Not even his own pain. His arm screamed at him for the transgression but he paid it no mind as he began to smear the blood on Tyene’s lifeless body. He fought back tears as he felt the flesh beginning to cool, that familiar, comforting warmth disappearing.
The Unsullied spoke up, and for the first time, he heard fear in their voice. “We… have to go, Master Lons.” They locked the door behind them.

Lons tore off Tyene’s clothes, knowing the symbols needed to be drawn in the same blood. He began to chant as he laid out the symbols.

“Lord of light, master of fire and shadows…” he muttered “Raise this soul from the depths and fill her with your fire.” he continued, repeating the same phrase as if it were his life’s blood.
The shadows in the room seemed to shift and move towards the bed. Lons swore he saw claws climbing from the shadows. No eyes, only clawed, grasping hands. He suppressed a shudder and forged on, focusing his mind to the keen edge of a valyrian blade. His mantra became everything.
He looked at Tyene’s emaciated body, knowing he needed to bring her back from the brink. Her frail body was quickly covered with the designs written in his own blood, archaic drawings of fire appearing everywhere. The light dimmed till there was barely a flicker as Lons began to hear voices.

“If you want to have your chain, I won’t stop you, son.”

Focus. Just focus.

Natan’s cane echoed through his mind. “I truly mean this. You are the best maester I have seen in all my years. House Lancaster is lucky to have a man of your caliber… and loyalty serving amongst us. You are a good man Maester Lons. I would call you a Lancaster any day.” The voice was warm. Lons could almost feel the old man’s firm, battle hardened hand against his shoulder.

FOCUS.

Breathe. “Lord of light, master of fire and shadows…” Breathe.

“Give up, cousin, it’s useless.”

Lons poured everything he had into this, focusing his mind, his heart, every fiber in his body.
“It’s never worth giving up, my crippled cousin.” a familiar, witty voice added.
Lons felt an intense burning in his gut. It began to travel upwards. He wanted to wretch, vomit it out and away from him. Twice he held it back before realizing what he had to do.
The claws reached closer, nearly surrounding him. They were nearly grasped around him and many more reached for Tyene.

THe fire flickered and for a moment there almost no light, save a single ember.
Lons heart was filled with nothing but faith, knowing only R’hllor could save him from this. Only R’hllor could save Tyene now.

He closed his eyes and simply prayed once again. His heart and mind focused on the pure and cleansing fire that was R’hllor’s namesake.

Suddenly, the light exploded in the brazer, filling the room with light. Lons leaned forward, kissing Tyene right on the lips, simultaneously saying goodbye, confessing his love and resigning himself to the shadows if need be. Suddenly, the burning sensation manifested in a scourge of fire that shot straight into Tyene’s mouth. Lons knew he should have been so horridly burned, but both he and Tyene remained fine as the bed melted away and burned beneath them.
The fire shot into the darkest recesses of the room. Lons swore he saw the creatures from the darkness burning up and flailing in the midst of the flames. Who could tell after what he’d witnessed. Suddenly, everything was quiet for just one moment as several fires smoldered in the corner.

Tyene took a huge breath in, her body heaving off of the bed as if her very essence had slipped back into her body. Tyene opened her eyes for the first time, again.
“Tyene…” Lons muttered as he passed out, slipping into his own dark abyss as he struck the floor.

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The Quest for Bacon!
And now here's something we hope you'll really like!

I glided across the massive palace with ease. Life had been easy for me, since those damned dragons had been penned up. Normally, I would pester the old man for some corn, but today, I was looking for a rarer treat.

Ah, yes, my body craved that delicious crispy treat.
Known only as bacon.

“Old man. I say, I would love to enjoy some delicious bacon.”

At least that’s what I wanted to say.

All that came out was “BACON!”

The old man didn’t seem to be giving me any attention. So I pecked at him.
Once. Twice. A flurry of pecks.

“I’ve got your attention now, old man.” I yelled.

BACCCCCOOOOONNNN

Curses.

It was comical, to watch the old man flailing about like that. It’s even funnier to watch a crippled man try to defend himself from the likes of me. He nearly fell down at least 3 flights of stairs on the way to the kitchen….

Ah, memories.

The old man is a good slave. He takes care of my needs well and leaves me time for the finer things. I do him favors from time to time.

“I need- Ah! Seven hells, Stonewing!- Bacon.”
“OW! Okay, alot of bacon! A heaping plateful!” he yelled.
I decided to stop pecking him. I perched on his shoulder peering at him. “Lons!” I yelled.
“Thanks for the bacon, chum!” I tried to yell.
BACON!” came out.
Curse this body.

I remember the old knight coming in one night. He gave me bacon. Told me to remember a word or two. I said, “Of course, sir, anything for some bacon.” I squawked.
I don’t think he understand me, since he just kept repeating the same word.
“Say “Cripple” bird…" he spoke.
“Yes, “cripple”, what of it?" I asked.
“Cri-” was all that came out.
Blast this damned body! I wished he would just give me the bacon and leave!

“Cripple.”

Jorah smiled. “Good, bird.” he said, grinning ear to ear. I’m not sure what he was so happy about, but it must’ve been rather amusing. "Now say “Lons.”

“Lons!” I yelled.

Yes, yes. Jump through the hoops.
He held out another piece of bacon and I graciously accepted it.

But, alas, he was all out of bacon and no longer any use to me.

“How’s that paint on your armor?” I would’ve asked.
Well, let’s just say it wasn’t originally white with green metalflake.
I haven’t seen him since.

(Decided to write a quick, light-hearted story of everyone’s favorite raven, Stonewing. Man, I had fun with this.)

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I brought you this shitty plague.
Epidemiology can kiss my ass. (Thanks Jorah!)

The refugee camps outside the gates swelled with the diseased. Thousands of dying held at bay by the city’s mighty walls. As always, Dany thought it best to command from the front, making her presence known among her people. A noble task, for certain. Against my counsel, however. I know she understood the risks, but an oathbreaker is not one to argue with a queen. NightWind and his Unsullied squad formed a close barrier around us. A man, came sprinting from the crowd, straight for me. “Please, healer, you have to help me!” he yelled as he ran, his body stricken with the deadly flux. It all happened so fast…

“Guards! Stop that man!” I yelled, far too late. Tyene had already stepped between the man and me, tumbling to the ground in a cloud of dust. Tyene, slowly rose, whiping some of the man’s blood from her face. She quickly stormed back for the gates. I tried to catch up to her, reaching for her shoulder.

Rhakaro stopped me, in his broken common tongue
“No, Dhak-tor, not safe. Can’t go inside walls!”

I wanted to protest, but knew it was an impossibility. The old warrior was right.
“Tyene…” I asked, again searching for anything to provide a shred of solace in the face of a horrific death. I reached out for her.

“No! Lons, stay back!” she yelled. Her fear stained face will be forever etched into my memory. That pain is something I wish I could forget.

“Tyene, we’ll…we’ll figure out something. I love you.” I managed to stammer out. My heart felt as if the fire of a million dragons were torching it. I’ve never felt this much despair…

I’ve been locked inside this library for so long now I’ve lost track of the days.
I’ve pored through every tome these walls hold. “Cordin’s treatise on plagues” “Lost remedies of Valyria” “History and symptomatic treatment of the Bloody Flux”

Every last word of it. Useless.

My mind aches from weariness. The words don’t even make sense most of the time. A sentence here, a paragraph there.

There has to be something.

“Fire ant venom in small quantities” “2 out of 20 patients survived”

“Burning out the fever has been seen as an effective remedy, though this treatment itself has an 80% mortality rate.”

Seven hells…

It’s all worthless.

All the knowledge in the world, all the salves of the ancients and I am…powerless.
Tyene is going to die before me and I can do nothing but watch as my love wastes away in front of my eyes.

My hands still ache from slamming the table. I’ve thrown books everywhere in frustration. Several even burnt from a rogue candle.

I have to keep trying.

(Day 2)
I must have passed out in the library. I’ve no idea what time it is, though Dany has called me to her chambers. Hopefully it’s some news about Tyene. Dany has been gracious enough to provide Tyene with no spared inch of comfort. Perhaps she will bear some good news.

I can’t even remember what we discussed. All I have been able to see, think about or feel, has been about Tyene.

“Lons, you need to rest.” was all I recalled hearing.

I did as she asked, knowing it to be true. I’ll drive myself mad if I continue poring over those books.

As I awoke in my own chambers, I noticed a book at my bedside. It took me a moment to recall where I’d seen it before…

It was the rare “Rh’lar’s Kiss” that had been given to me for saving their beloved priest.

“In a time of great need, when the light of the world is about to be snuffed out….”
The old priest spoke as if he was in the room with me. I glanced at the book, then to the dawning sun.

I picked up the book and quickly began to re-read it, this time with different eyes.

Perhaps my mind alone wasn’t going to save Tyene.

For the first time since I was a child, I prayed.

(I still want to edit this, but I think I need to call it done. Enjoy ladies and gents!)
(On a random hilarious note, I just tried to submit this with the title “Darkest Days” and it spit back “That name is in use.” We have a lot of dark days in Game of Thrones, don’t we? lol)

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Brothers In Arms
Everybody Hates: Maester Lons Season 2!

Selmy smiled warmly as the Maester approached the Queen’s chambers. “Well Lons, it’s good to see you made it out of Mareen alive.” he joked. “Listen, Lons. I know about you and Tyene. And while I can’t condone or approve of it.” The old knight hesitated for a moment, searching for the right words. “I want you to know that I understand. I was young once.” he added, a wistful, nostalgic look painting his face. “I too had a love, though I never acted on it. Truly, I know how you’re feeling.”

Lons was taken aback by Barristan’s sympathetic turn. Just months ago, Barristan was outright disapproving of it. Still, Lons knew that an oath taken, was an honor that could scarce be mended once broken. He had to wonder just how close the knight had come to breaking his own oath. Lons was fairly certain he could never accept his chain again. Even though he was not a Maester, his oath held and he had broken it. It was as simple as that.
“While you might never wear a chain again, I want you to know that this is a noble cause you’ve taken up.” Selmy added, his words giving the young scholar a renewed hope. “There is great honor in serving a Queen, and particularly, the rightful Queen of Westeros. A noble and pure deed is something that can’t be taken from you. Always remember that, Lons.” he added, placing a calloused hand on his robed shoulder. “Now, we must’nt keep our Queen waiting.”

Dany sat at her table. “Feel free to help yourself.” she said, gesturing to the lavish spread. Lons could sense the tension. The young Queen was experiencing her first “trial by fire” in ruling Mareen. "I just don’t know what to do, Lons. People are dying in the streets and I can do nothing to protect them. The city is falling down around me. The great masters are buying their way back into power and it seems I can do nothing to stop them. " She paused for a moment, her voice stricken with stress and sorrow. “I just don’t know what to do Lons.”

Lons placed a hand on her shoulder, if only to reassure her. She leaned into him. Lons was surprised to be this pillar of solace after breaking her trust. He hoped never to betray that trust again. Selmy’s speech still fresh in his mind, he thought it best to pass some of that hope along. There was no sense keeping it to himself amongst such valiant people who were surely forging through the same minefields he was, the world seeming more and more gray by the hour. Everyone was unsure if they were doing the right thing, but continued along anyway.
“It will be difficult. Of that, I have no doubts. But what you’re… we’re doing is a noble cause. How many men, women and children have been freed from their oppressive masters because of you? Sure, many have perished, but that is an unfortunate necessity.” Lons flashed back to the night of Natan’s death. He had worked feverishly to keep the old man alive, though the poison had worked far faster than he could have dreamed of. He could do nothing but watch helplessly as the man withered away beneath his very hands, his knowledge worthless.

“Even as a healer, looking to do harm to none, I’ve witnessed people die in my care, despite all best intentions. There are unfortunate losses in anything. We need to rest assured that we are acting as nobly as we can. Your grace, if I have seen anyone acting out of sheer justice and equality, it is you. You should try to take solace in that fact.” Lons added, hoping his impromptu speech had done some good for the distressed matriarch.

“You do raise a good point, Lons.” Dany added, composing herself “Thank you.” She steeled herself for another lecture, trying to put the stress of her leadership behind her for the moment. “What should we discuss today?” Dany asked. They turned to their lesson for the evening, discussing the most recent history Lons could muster. She would need to be aware of everything occurring in Westeros if she would be able to rule effectively. She took to it surprisingly quickly, Lons noted.

During a break in the lecture, Dany leaned in, speaking seriously. “Lons, what kind of people are the Lanncasters?” Her tone was genuinely interested, though Lons couldn’t imagine why she was asking in that moment. The question had caught him off guard. “Well, I…” he hesitated. “Lons, It’s okay. I just want to know the character of the house. All of these stories I’ve been told have been so misconstrued, I just want the truth.”
“Truth?” Lons muttered, inadvertently, thinking back to everything he’d experienced while serving at Rockfall. “Lord Toten is quite the just and yet merciful man. I can recall many times when he had spared men for offenses that would have been met with blades by any other lord. He was quite generous to the smallfolk in his kingdom, and elsewhere. He was always leading from the front lines of battle and knew when to avoid it.” Lons spoke, hoping to convey the good-naturedness he’d seen in his ally.

“His wife, Gabriella Lanncaster, originally of Dorne, whom I’m sure you remember are one of your strongest supporters, spared my own life, despite my connection to the Lannisters, after an assassin, bought with gold from Casterly Rock. She cares deeply for her family. Her hatred of House Lannister could certainly prove useful. She is quite an intuitive diplomat as well, if I recall correctly.” Lons added, trying to imbibe as much information as he could. Dany nodded, taking the information in like a sponge. “Well, when the time comes, can I trust you to get them to our side. We need good, moral allies if we are going to take Westeros.” Lons choked back a pang of worry. “When that time does come, I will do my utmost to bring them to our side. I’m sure I can bring them to fight with us. Toten has always trusted my counsel, I see no reason for that to change now.” he added.

‘I sure hope I can.’ Lons thought as he and Dany continued their lesson. ‘I dread what will happen if I can’t.’ He shrugged the thought off. That time would come soon enough.

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The Liberation of Mareen

The massive throne room was as pristine as the leaders of Mareen had left it. The massive marble pillars It hid the violence that had taken place in the city only several hours ago. The covert operation had been successful, with thousands of guardsmen missing from the fighting. Tyene and Lons both stood before their queen. “Well, we’ve taken the city. You seem to have been able to take care of our problems ahead of time.” Dany remarked. “Yes, we persuaded those that we could and…dealt with the rest.” Lons replied. Lons couldn’t help but think of the horrid deaths some of the leaders had faced. For a moment, he felt a pang of guilt. He pushed it aside, reminding himself that these were monsters who had allowed 160 children to be crucified to trees along their path to the city. There was little in the way of redemption for them.

The silence in the massive room was deafening. “You have shown me your true colors. I ask you now, are you ready to swear your loyalty to me? Are you ready to throw away all past allegiances, friendships, familial ties. Anything that might impede your service to me.” Her words struck hard, burned like dragonfire in Lons’ heart and mind. Memories of Rockfall raced into view. He saw the first days he had met Toten, Natan and Lena. The trials he had survived and helped others survive. He saw the night he saved Lena, Gabby and the children. He saw himself punching Natan’s assassin, gaining Gabby’s trust after his “betrayal” through birthright. He saw warm nights filled with fascinating talks and friendships forged at the citadel, he and Marwyn talking into the late hours of the night, fueled by alcohol and curiousity, speaking of dragons, magic and mystery. He was being asked to throw all of this away. “Your grace… may… may I have a moment to think about this? This is a monumental decision.” he asked.

Dany paused for a moment, as if conflicted herself. “I will deal with the others, and you may have that long to choose.”

Lons stepped off to the side as Jorah strode into the room, smug as ever. “Jorah. You’ve been by my side for years. Since I was with child, even. But… I cannot forgive it.”

Jorah stammered and looked liked he was staring down an ancient dragon. “My- My Queen! I- I want nothing more than to serve you.” Jorah managed to spit out.

Dany raised her hand. “Enough, Jorah. I sentence you to banishment.” She motioned to several of The Unsullied. “Remove him.” Two of the guards walked over and grabbed the once proud knight, dragging him out of the room. He fought with all of his might, but the guards held fast. As they shut the doors behind him, Jorah’s burning eyes glared into Lons’ very soul. The man wanted nothing more than to see Lons’ dead in that moment.

Lons and Tyene stepped forward again.

“Now, Lons, Tyene. Are you prepared to swear yourselves to my service?”

Lons thought back to a letter he’d received from Toten before leaving King’s Landing. “You are closer than a brother to me, Lons. You will always be a Lancaster.”

“I am ready to serve, your Grace.” Lons said after a moment’s hesitation.

“And you, Tyene?” Dany inquired.

“Yes, my Queen.” Tyene replied.
“Lons, come sit at my side.” Dany asked, having one of her guards bring a seat out for him. He walked over, cane clacking against the marble with each step. “I’m sorry Toten.” he thought as he took his seat next the rightful queen of Westeros.

Dany shared a look with Lons. For the hard question she had asked him, she seemed genuinely understanding of how difficult it was. Lons looked around the room. Selmy stood nearby, Tyene as well. Strong Balwas and several guards milled around.

“Now, on to business.” Dany exclaimed as they discussed their next move.

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