Viserys

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To record in annals the legacy of kings and conquerors is often regarded to be the highest form of history. We here do not proclaim to give a full account of the lives but focus on the tales and songs that have been born around the Targaryens of Harrenhal, those who did not rule the seven kingdoms, but remained cousin and kin to the many kings that did

Just as these Targaryens rebuilt the ruins of Harren the Black, so too do we strive to rebuild these notable figures from tales of their exploits, accomplishments and downfalls.

Account the First, Viserys Targaryen of Harrenhal

It Began in a Ruin-

The Targaryen restoration started in a position of their greatest weakness, the young escaped prince and princess Viserys and Daenerys in custody of King Robert of House Baratheon (the events that led to this are murky, though we can estimate that they were either ransomed or recaptured from Essos). Yet this disturbance came at a greater unrest for Westeros, with a short-lived Ironborn uprising having taken place not long before and it is said that this recent bloodshed had slaked the Usurper’s appetite for further death and he showed an unprecedented mercy towards the Targaryen siblings.

The lesser threat of the child Daenerys was shipped to her own birthplace of Dragonstone, to be raised by King Robert’s brother (and likely to be wed into a loyal house or to the King’s own heir, Joffery).

The matter of Viserys however, must have been clear to those in King Robert’s court- such a threat to the Iron Throne must be sent to the Wall and live out his days without claim nor children. A harsh sentence to the young boy no doubt, but needless there would have been those who expected exile for the prince, if not outright execution.

But in a move that most likely saved King Robert from the executioner’s sword himself years on, the King granted Viserys high lordship over Harrenhall, as well as the empty seat itself. The reasons for this act are seen as follows
  • An act of charity and amends for the murder of Elia Martell and the apparent deaths of her children
  • A practical way to keep the Targaryen heir close to Kings Landing, while also filling the seat, as the previous lords- the Whents, had died out in the Ironborn uprising
  • In order for Viserys to rule from a ruin, where focus and coin would be placed on making Harrenhal liveable, instead of attacks against the Throne
  • Taking into account the legendary curse on Harrenhal that had already caused numerous noble houses to go extinct, fully expecting the Targaryen house to follow in a way that meant the King would not be directly responsible.
In whatever reason or combination of factors that led to this, the outcome remained that the last known dragon became a bannerman for Lord Paramount of the Trident Hoster Tully, in a seat his dynasty had thoroughly destroyed with dragonfire.


A Bold Knight, A Black Knight-

Despite being given Harrenhal, the young prince would not see it until he was grown, as King Robert would not foster him out but instead kept him in Kings Landing under the charge of the Kingsguard, and as the squire of the Lord Commander, Ser Barristan Selmy.

We leave the telling of the exploits of Ser Barristan to the true and detailed accounts, for his interactions with Viserys we cannot say were his greatest feats. But nevertheless, the result of having such a knight as a guardian for the last Targaryen can be felt for generations at Harrenhal. Whatever madness the prince had was soon tempered and from his sword work to his sense of justice Viserys was greatly shaped by the Lord Commander’s guidance and a great friendship grew between them.

This was to be soon tested, however, after the newly-knighted Viserys was at last at Harrenhal and undertaking his duties, including a bloody revenge. With many of the records expunged in the wake of the fall of House Baratheon, what we do know is that Viserys returned to Kings Landing soon enough, as a prisoner. The deaths of Ser Gregor Clegane and Ser Amery Lorch were rumoured as a sworn vengeance on the murderers of Viserys’ beloved older brother’s family. However this is disputed, the claim being it was a plot to murder the Lord Paramount Tywin Lannister that finally allowed King Robert’s Hand to attempt justice.

Having squired and been knighted by Ser Barristan, Prince Viserys was a cunning duelist and would no doubt win blades with any opponent during a Trial by Combat. But his opponent would have been Viserys’s own friend and mentor, Ser Barristan Selmy. With this terrible choice, the consequences being the fall of his own life and the Targaryen house, or the death of his greatest friend at his own steel, we can see the inspiration for the tale of The Bold Knight, the Black Knight.

Two versions of this story exist, with two different endings. The characters are the same with one based on Ser Barristan’s epithet of ’Bold’. As Viserys had not yet earned the nickname he would be known by, we can guess that his descriptor of ‘Black’ is in reference to either his place in the Black Cells, his seat build by Harren the Black or even the black stain of dishonour the tale refers to. Regardless, the more popular and sorrowful story ending has the two knights forced to fight despite being as close as father and son, where the Bold Knight slays the Black Knight and justice is meted out. The real events of the Trial That Never Was made for a less dramatic story ending, as Viserys was some time later returned to Harrenhal unscathed, having assumably organised a bargain or ransom with the coin he’d been repairing Harrenhal with. In the years following, we can add here, he would be joined by his younger sister (now grown and yet to be betrothed) whose visit may have allowed the subsequent war for the Iron Throne to include the force of Harrenhal.

The Return of the Dragon

In an event documented by much more thorough maesters, the return of Aegon the Restorer, son of Rhaegar and Elia to claim his rightful throne meant as much to his kin Viserys as it did to their foes. The then eighteen Aegon's claim was supported by Viserys and Daenerys and their current position as no longer hostages to King Robert allowed them to fight alongside their young nephew and at its end, they were there at Aegon's coronation. It is said this is where Prince Viserys, newly second in line to the Iron Throne, offered his beloved sister in marriage to their new king and the reign of the Targaryens King Aegon and Queen Daenerys began once more.

In this changeover, Viserys is referenced again in the Usurper Trials, where Robert Baratheon's mercy to Viserys and Daenerys meant he was not executed or exiled to Essos with his children but instead sent to the Wall where he rose to Lord Commander until his death at a great age. The numerous tales in praise of the fair new King do not mention Prince Viserys much, as he had returned to work on Harrenhal and gain the trust of his new Lord Paramount Edmure Tully as a Master-at-arms in Riverrun.

The Bower Bloom’d, a song ostensibly about Garth Greenhair (or even perhaps the Greenfield’s seat of the Bower) is more commonly linked to Aegon the Restorer and his four lovers- all natural-born daughters of prominent houses.
One such line references the four women’s bastard surnames:

“The King loved each river-stone, he loved each hill and flower
He raised them to his breast and lay them in his bower”


This is in reference to Joy Hill (Lannister), Mya Stone (Baratheon), Alys Flowers (Tyrell) and the famous Ravella Rivers (Frey). Furthermore, the storm which the song mentions the King keeping his ‘bower-bed warm’ from, speaks to Queen Daenerys, Aegon’s wife, called ’Stormborn’, who by all accounts was long-suffering of her husband’s roaming. The Targaryen King was frequently likened to his ancestor Aegon the Unworthy throughout his life, with Queen Daenerys akin to Queen Naerys and so her beloved brother was destined to be known by a glorious and infamous title.

The Dragonknight of Harrenhal

For each whisper that called Viserys 'Aemon the Dragonknight reborn', they fail to take into account the one person that Viserys was known to have loved more than his cherished sister- Talisa, the lady of Harrenhal from the Maegyr house of Volantis. It was she who upon winning his first grand tourney was crowed Viserys's Queen of Love and Beauty and only after her illness and sudden death did Viserys begin to crown his sister with the title instead (passing over his second wife Saenera Paenymion). The curse of Harrenhal had stuck not only Talisa but two of their infant sons and at the age of thirty-seven Viserys himself died. This was attributed to stress, as the loss of his much loved first wife and his friend Ser Barristan fed into Viserys's paranoia in his last years as he worked tirelessly to move the rubble of Harrenhal.

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Nikolai

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stnylan

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Quite a grand first post, and an interesting twist
 
Rhaegar Part One

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Account the Second,- Rhaegar Targaryen of Harrenhal (Part One)


A New Generation

Prince Viserys named his heir in memory of his well-loved but controversial brother, setting a precedent for his children as Viserys lived to see his first two grandchildren, Talisera- a homage to Talisa, and his own namesake Viserys II of Harrenhal. Rhaegar was initially betrothed to a daughter of house Dayne, Tanselle daughter of the Darkstar, but instead sought to keep the Targaryen bloodline strong. He did this by wedding his older sister Shiera who was said to be as fair as the Seastar herself. Tanselle Dayne was soon re-betrothed to Rhaegar’s younger brother Baerion (named to honour Viserys’s mentor Ser Barristan).

His youngest sister, Visenya the Twice-Queen, married Jaenyx- Aegon’s heir by Daenerys until his early death wherein she was betrothed to his new heir, Maegor. The events that surrounded them we will come back to later in Rhaegar’s life.

But we here do not seek to fill pages with the names and marriages of the reborn Targaryen house as their numbers grew and they wed into noble houses. Thus we return to the legends surrounding Rhaegar, Lord of Harrenhall under Edmure of House Tully, in the Trident under King Aegon the Restorer.

None So Clever

Viserys waited years keeping his sister safe awaiting the time to strike for his nephew, the rightful king, but Rhaegar- grown to adulthood safe as a prince and in the succession of the Iron Throne- had a greater thirst. The records show this was fed with knowledge and from poetry to alchemy he studied all that he could, striking a balance between his Maester brother Aemor and his warrior brother Baerion.

But even under the indulgence of the ageing King Aegon, Rhaegar was not removed from the politics and war within the Kingdom of the Trident. The Northern debacles at this time ending with the crannogmen of all people being advanced to Lord Paramount meant that the seat of Northern power was right on the Neck by the Crossing and it is said that Lord Edmure Tully was hostile to this threat, alongside his marriage alliances with the Stark family (and his shocking dalliances with Lord Eddard’s daughter Ayra) he was looking for any method to strengthen his northern borders.

Help came in the form of his advisor Rhaegar who not only colluded with the Stark supporters in reclaimimg their title but managed to oust the House of Frey from their seat at the Twins and their title as Lord of the Crossing. A stronger family was clearly needed here and Edmure decided it was the King’s kin that provided the means to hold the Neck secure. Though Rhaegar had avoided battle during this time, his brother Baerion was slain and the spoils of the Freys were given to Baerion’s son Aemond on the condition he would one day wed Leonella, a Tully daughter to bring the houses of the Trident together.

This would be the last positive Tully and Targaryen arrangement, for Edmure would soon regret holding Rhaegar so close in confidence. This also was the point where Rhaegar began to be called ‘the Lightningminded’, a title as unwieldy as the complex man himself.

Dragons of Sky and Sea

A children’s story from this time is relevant here and can be summarised to be about a dragon seeking to feast on the most delectable shoals of fish deep below the waves of the Sunset Sea, but could only fly over the water’s surface and the fish believed themselves safe. But the sky dragon befriended a sea dragon and they feasted on fish together. One to catch, one to cook.

A cautionary tale on becoming complacent in a group, as well as a heartwarming one on the values of friendship and overcoming differences. Some believe it to be an Ironborn tale in reference to Nagga- the first sea dragon, but the similarities can undeniably be seen in the fall of the Tullys as the sea dragons of Harrenhal became Lord Paramounts of the Trident.

Some accounts have the feud with the Tully as being provoked, Rhaegar responding to a slight from either Edmure or his heir Colmar, or else being just the natural conclusion to Rhaegar’s ambitious nature. Those uninformed of Rhaegar’s remarkable mind and cunning have attributed it to other Great Houses interfering to cause dissent. One such was personally met and had the viewpoint that is was the work of the Lannisters (a connection finely traced through the marriage of Edmure’s young brother Edmyn to a Lannister). But we must remember that the only house who profited was the Targaryens, and none more so than the Lightningminded Rhaegar.

From what the records can tell us, the transfer of the Lord Paramount Title from Tully to Targaryen happened as Edmure Tully was being imprisoned by King Aegon. Edmure was later released to return to the mere lordship of Riverrun and died an old man without further strife. The knowledge of this, and that there was no recorded outcry for these actions implies some justification, even if only fabricated against the Tullys. Mayhaps one of their line had been plotting against the Targaryens for control of the Twins. The opinion here is that some plot was discovered against one of Targaryen blood, and retribution was swift but quiet in exchange for cooperation- hence why Edmure and Colmar never rose in revolt despite helping the Starks for the same cause. What we do know for sure is that Rhaegar caught them, and Aegon cooked them.

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stnylan

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Rhaegar has well and truly gotten the Targaryen renaissance underway by the sounds of it.
 
Rhaegar Part Two

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Account the Second- Rhaegar Targaryen of Harrenhal (Part Two)

A Little More than Kin

The reader must forgive us if we take a moment to return to the events in Kings Landing, for some background is necessary to understand the events to follow. We have mentioned King Aegon the Restorer, his wife Daenerys and Aegon’s natural-born lovers, daughters of Lannister, Baratheon and Tyrell blood. The fourth lover however was of the Frey house prior to their displacement: Ravella Rivers, the youngest daughter of Walder Frey, who gave Aegon four of his fourteen known bastard children. She was not the fairest nor the cleverest, yet Ravella would be known as his most famous lover, as two of her children, Maegor and Aelinor, were the only two of his bastards with silver hair and purple eyes.

Maegor Waters, ill named and ill-bred by all means, became a true contender to his ancestor- Maegor the Cruel and would have fallen out of history like Aegon’s other unremarkable bastard sons and daughters were it not for his fine Valyrian features. This, above skill or moral fortitude raised him and his sister Aelinor to be legitimised, and Maegor became heir when his only trueborn brother Jaenyx died without a son. Thus when King Aegon succumbed to age, it was the King Maegor II, the Silver Bastard, who sat on the Iron Throne.

Prince Jaenyx had died under suspicious circumstances while running Dragonstone and it is said that Aelinor had the prince killed, believing her brother would then raise her as his queen. However, Maegor took Jaenyx’s widow Visenya the Twice-Queen, as well as his crown for his own and when she sickened and died (rumoured to be the work of Aelinor’s vengeful ghost), Maegor was wed to Rhaegar’s daughter Saenerys.

One would assume that the ties of the Harrenhal Targaryens to the crown would never have been stronger at this point, with the Lord Paramount Rhaegar being cousin, good-brother and good-father to King Maegor as well as the Hand of the King. Small matters, such as Rhaegar being directly responsible for the eviction of Maegor’s mother’s family from the Twins were of no great threat against the strength of blood.

Less Than Kind

We return to Rhaegar at an uneasy time in his life and marriage. He’d risked the offence of the Daynes (though they had not yet become the ruling house of Dorne at this time) with breaking a betrothal in order to wed his sister Shiera but some distance must have grown as Rhaegar took a Dornish widow, Alysanne as his lover. Alysanne gave Rhaegar a son and daughter and he raised these bastards alongside his trueborn children, though unlike Aegon he never legitimised any. Instead the son, Aethon Rivers, would be granted Lordship of Harroway’s town and form the cadet house Goldfyre whose own dynasty is inextricably liked to the Targaryens of Harrenhal and mentioned where relevant.

But both Shiera and Alysanne would die around the same time and this had led to much speculation on the whitertos and whyfores of these deaths, or murders as the case may have been. Clearly, Shiera had reason to hate Alysanne and Rhaegar may have wanted to put aside his sister-wife for his lover. One thing for sure is that at the time Shiera was staying with their nephew Aemond at the Twins when she died and with Rhaegar and Alysanne far at Harrenhal, any killer must have been hired, or already at the Twins with their own motive. Shiera died first and then Alysanne before Rhaegar had time to wed once more. But he did not search far for a new bride with Aelora, Alysanne’s daughter from her previous marriage. Aelora otherwise was of no historical importance, her son with Rhaegar died without mark, but the tales have renamed her as a murderess. In the songs made about Rhaegar’s daughter Queen Saenerys, Aelora is a kinslayer who killed both her Lady and her own mother in her rise from being a handmaiden to Saenerys and her sisters to being their new mother.

Rhaegar’s image remained far from innocent, however. We have mentioned his naming his eldest daughter Talisera after his mother Talisa, but he would go further to connect with his family in Volantis and in the aftermath of the Maegyr house’s fall, Rhaegar offered the remaining members safe passage and protection in Westeros though few are known to have taken the chance. One who did was Rhaegar’s maternal grandmother, and here the details are few and confused (not just with her name Rhaelle being mixed up with Rhaegar’s paternal grandmother Rhaella and a Targaryen great aunt of sorts also called Rhaelle). The details from the accounts that remain describe Rhaelle Maegyr as a dark corrupting influence on Rhaegar, turning his scholarly pursuits from basic alchemy to black sorcery.

Like his namesake before him, Rhaegar the Lightningminded looked to the magic of dragons and the power of wildfire, culminating in a vested interest in the crown’s rebuilding of Summerhall. His clashing with King Maegor II in his term as Hand of the King over the project laid a foundation for the tragic scene to come.

A Sage Knight, A Silver Knight

Previously mentioned, the tale of The Bold Knight, the Black Knight tells of a trial of combat between knights as close as kin with two vastly different endings. Viserys and Ser Barristan are said to have inspired the story and the happier, though less sensational, ending. The darker ending is in the better-known song although the song’s refrain is often vague enough to work in describing any of the combatants of two duels. For instance, all four knights had silver hair, through age or Valyrian features, like the ‘silver knight’. The major difference is in the dynamics, in the song the Black Knight is the younger and abler warrior, but when he has the opportunity he cannot bear to kill the man who raised him so it is the Bold Knight who strikes and delivers the king’s justice on the dishonourable knight. In the historical event, Rhaegar was the elder and King Maegor II delivered his own bloody justice with his own steel.

“It is not for a knight to beg

Or bargain his final breath,

A bold knight, a black knight

To duel until one’s death.”

Like his father, Rhaegar was imprisoned in the black cells by his king with a similar confusion on the reason why. Some point to any of the three women who the records have judged unfairly: Ravella Waters, Lady Aelora and Rhaelle Maegyr as either influencing Maegor’s judgement for the sake of Frey vengeance or tarnishing Rhaegar’s name with acts of murder and sorcery. Otherwise, it is the result of their own damaged relationship, strained by alliances, failed marriages and the restoration of Summerhall. Indeed it was oft-quoted how ‘Harrenhal killed Viserys and Summerhall killed Rhaegar’.

Even before the trial, Maegor II was a Targaryen King with no chance of being as beloved as his father, even without the stain of bastardry and the rumours surrounding Prince Jaenyx and Visenya’s deaths. It was King Maegor who crushed the Greyjoy’s final rebellion and gave the Iron Isles to the Harlaws. Maegor felt threatened by his siblings, marrying his sisters around Westeros and pressured his bastard brothers either to the citadel or to Essos as sellswords. But kinslaying proved the beginning of his downfall, a sin too great even for a king, wherein even ‘A Bold Knight, A Black Knight’ only has the two knights as close as if they were blood.

“His honour was truer than his love

For the man raised like a son,

A slain knight, a sorrow’d knight

A bitter victory, hard won.”

In the song’s last few lines, the winner is ‘a sorrow’d knight’ yet Maegor was not so fond of his good-father and insisted on fighting in the trial by combat rather than any of his Kingsguard. In fact, for a means for the Seven to decide guilt and a victor, the trial was cursed as regardless who won, the victor would be a kinslayer. Some wonder why Rhaegar even had a trial by combat, his skills were in intellect and persuasion and would have a staunch defence constructed of words.

Rhaegar the Lightningminded, the greatest mind of his generation was not the greatest sword. Harrenhal was left to young Viserys II.
King Maegor had killed his Lord Hand and effectively unarmed himself.

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stnylan

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A sad end to Rhaegar. But the world is not one that respects intellect when steel has its own eloquent voice.
 
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Capibara

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Very nice story! I look forward to reading more about the exploits of the Harrenhal Targaryens.
 
Viserys II

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Account the Third- Viserys II Targaryen of Harrenhal


Perils of Waves and War

Viserys II began his auspicious rule with his father’s blood still on the King’s sword. He was a man grown when he assumed lordship, but more subdued than his forefathers. One might say he was simpler, with a kindly and honourable disposition and a sincere focus on his family and his knightly vows rather than dabbling in politics, intrigue or magic. Indeed were it not for his untimely and mysterious end, Viserys II would have been largely overlooked in favour of his predecessors, siblings and especially his infamous only son. Even his daughters are better remembered than he, with all four being either a queen or princess at some point in their lives and hold greater inspiration for songs and tales.

While his grandfather went from a prince to a beggar to a lord then good-brother to a King, and his father rose to become Lord Paramount of the Trident- we cannot list the achievements of Viserys II for his time in his inherited titles was brief and without incident. So instead we will recount the story of the Ghost of the Stepstones which was not directly inspired by Viserys II, but we can use as a point of comparison.

The Wine-Dark Deep

Of all the stories of both the Summer and Narrow Seas, none is more famous than the tragic tale of the Ghost of the Stepstones, a herald of woe to all who sail on the open seas.

‘A Tyroshi Archon was sailing back from a trading mission with his son when his ship was attacked by his rival, a power-hungry magister. The Magister had turned to dark sorcery and the Archon was slain but his son was permitted to live. Instead, the son was cursed never to be able to come back to Tyrosh and if he should try then the very seas would rise up to forestall him. The son was left in his ship cast adrift to fall into the unfriendly hands of a mercenary crew. Here he resolved to break through the curse and return home, unknowing of the disasters that worked to keep him from his native shore.

The son had upon his possession only three items of great personal and material wealth to bargain his passage home. The first was a sword passed down through the generations of his house which his father, the Archon had wielded. Though the son had sworn to use this sword, rather than his own, to perform his vengeance on the Magister who cursed him and killed his father, for what use is revenge when one is so far from their foe? But the passage he bought was a doomed one, for the mercenaries could fight many battles but no sword could defeat a sorcerous storm and although the son survived the ensuing shipwreck, he was no closer to Tyrosh.

His second passage he bought from a slaver merchant house, using the mark of his status: an ornate circlet which was the symbol of his house and the greatest proof of his claim and identity. But for what use is a claim to a seat one cannot reach? Tyrosh is known for its skilled metalworking and thus in exchange the son was given a room on a great trading ship manned by slaves. Though it was faster and sturdier, the seas were stronger still and the ship broke on savage waves and rocks, spilling all wares and property to the depths. Yet the son could not give up without seeing his homeland once more, regardless of any curse and he washed up on an island on which lived the most powerful pirate in all the Stepstones.

Having now lost both his father’s sword and the circlet of his house- the son chose to stowaway on the pirate captain’s flagship, hoping they would at least travel somewhat closer to Tyrosh. The ship was an enormous vessel that had survived the rough seas for long years, but it was not large enough for a man to remain undiscovered and so the son was dragged before the pirate captain. The son had one last item of precious value on him, a locket containing a portrait of his beloved who had died some years before, and a lock of her bright blue hair. The locket was of Myrish make, delicate and decorated with many gemstones and so the pirate captain was keen to take it from the Archon’s son. Yet the son would not remove it from his neck, because what pain is there in distance from one’s home when one is so much farther away from their love? But the pirate only laughed and said his corpse would have no such quarrel. The son was killed but his death was too late to stop the Magister’s curse and the pirate flagship was sunk beneath the waters of the greatest storm ever to befall the Stepstones.

On mercenary, slaver and pirate ships alike, to all who brave the Narrow Sea and the Summer Sea, the warning is told for the crew to beware of any ghostly figures seen on deck. For it is surely the Ghost of the Stepstones- the Archon’s tragic son forever searching ships for the stolen locket, determined to retrieve the last image of his lost love’s face. Beware, for the sight of him means that a great storm is never far away.’

Even So I Will Endure

Viserys II disappeared at sea and his body, his ship and so the reason for his disappearance have never been discovered. Clearly his heir, Vaerion believed it was the work of King Maegor II who wished to quash any reprisal after he had killed the father of Viserys II, Rhaegar. This would greatly influence Vaerion’s own rule and actions during, with only one person as majorly impacted by Viserys’ presumed death- his wife Leaysa. When Rhaegar was killed and the King became a kinslayer in front of Viserys II, many believed he would seek revenge just like the Archon’s son. But it was not the prospect of becoming a kingslayer or a kinslayer himself that stayed Viserys’ hand, nor just a result of his kindly manner but that he could not bring himself to kill the brother of his beloved wife.

Of one thing all the tales of Leaysa, called the Moonshadow agree: she was the fairest and most gentle of all the daughters of King Aegon VI. She was also one of his four trueborn daughters, born of Queen Daenerys Stormborn and as such worth a great deal to broker an alliance with a Great House. The Harrenhal Targaryens were not Lord Paramounts when Laeysa and Viserys II were first introduced and so the songs say they despaired that their love, begun once their eyes scarcely met, would never be resolved. But when Rhaegar took the Trident from the Tully, Aegon VI was happy to betroth his beautiful daughter to the Trident’s heir.

The song ‘The Lay of Leaysa’ was written during King Maegor’s second reign and thus attributes the death of Viserys II to a terrible storm rather than foul play. Much of the known history is changed for a better song such as Viserys II going to Essos to win Leaysa’s hand which feels more like a reference to the songs of Shiera Seastar. In reality, Viserys II has been married to Leaysa for quite a while before he vanished and they’d had five children by this point. But regardless the song describes Viserys travelling to the ruins of Sar Mell to bring back a remaining flower from the famed flower gardens which were the only thing throughout the land that could possibly compare to Leaysa’s beauty but he drowned on his voyage home before he could bestow it to her. The lamenting itself is described with Leaysa’s melancholy never ceasing, her grief and broken heart consuming and ultimately killing her after over ten long years waiting for her love to return from the sea. She did not remarry and her nickname of ‘Moonshadow’ comes from the song’s descriptions of her hair like a moonbeam before ‘the shadows of her sorrows’ overwhelm her. The lay ends on a happier note, with the two lovers’ spirits reuniting in a forgotten glade filled with the blossoms of the Sar Mell flowers.

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The Targaryens love to play happy families, as it were.
 
Vaerion Part One

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Account the Fourth- Vaerion Targaryen of Harrenhal (Part One)


How Our Histories Interweave

If one was to summarise the three previous Targaryens of Harrenhal into one defining trait there would be some contention, but overall their legacy has narrowed them down into a few key roles. Viserys I, a prince-exile turned lord turned prince once more, is often quoted as tenacious, courageous and loyal in regards to both his family and his rebuilding project. Meanwhile Rhaegar is summarised in his own nickname ‘the Lightningminded’ or with similar terms: erudite or brilliant, burning brightly but flaring out suddenly. Lastly Viserys II is remembered as a noble figure of romance and tragedy. But Vaerion was raised to adulthood by his grieving mother and her personal tutoring focused less upon strength of arms or political manoeuvring and instead on vengeance against her half-brother for Vaerion’s slain grandfather and suspiciously disappeared father. This was not hot-blooded Dornish revenge, but patient- one that would consume his early life and most of his enduring legacy.

By all accounts the biggest problem that faced the young lord was precisely his youth and relative inexperience in all matters of courtly intrigue and battlefield. His mother raised him as a weapon against the king but he was still an unblooded squire by the time his mother’s regency ended and his own reign began. Vaerion was brave, but King Maegor II had beaten even Rhaegar the Lightningminded who was formidable with both steel and strategy. Vaerion instead was patient, biding his time and playing the part of the dutiful and inexperienced Lord Paramount and letting King Maegor II create more enemies for himself. The reader must not forget that no lord of moral standing and conviction had forgotten Maegor’s kinslaying or his bastard blood and they could only compare him negatively to his father King Aegon VI the Restorer.

King Maegor II had been dealing with troubles closer to Kings Landing whilst Vaerion trained, in terms of the line of succession. With the death of his first wife, Maegor took Rhaegar’s daughter- Vaerion’s aunt Saenerys- as his queen. After having two stillborn sons with Targaryen brides, Maegor sought a more fertile ground and dallied with a Tyrell maid resulting in a son, Aurion who was hale but still a Waters. Even if the King himself was known as the ‘Silver Bastard’ for his baseborn Frey blood, he did not legitimise Aurion, who further removed himself from the lawful ascension by joining the Faith as a Septon. Queen Saenerys bore a daughter, then another stillborn son but finally a true heir to the throne arrived with Prince Baeryn, then secured later on with Prince Taegon. The two heirs were betrothed to two of Vaerion’s sisters, Baeyrn to Rhaenerys and Taegon to Taliserya, a move thought to have bought false security to the King. We recall that Vaerion had four sisters, the eldest, Rhiera became the last Princess of Dorne married to a Martell for a long time, and the remaining sister, Elaynne, married Vaerion. The newly wedded Vaerion had bided his time wisely, or simply fortunately, as the realms of Westeros finally gathered together against the rule of King Maegor II.

A Time to Act, Not Wonder

Remarkably, the most influential product of Maegor’s rule to endure to this very day is the increased opinion of bastards. With a legitimised bastard as their king, the houses of Westeros gained a more Dornish perspective, becoming more willing to marry trueborn and baseborn children. The Faith of the Seven still was there to remind all that procreation outside of the bounds of marriage was still wrong, but the creations themselves were deemed less inherently sinful. This view needed years to develop, however, as in Maegor’s reign he was still ‘the Silver Bastard’ and Queen Daenerys’s trueborn daughters with King Aegon VI had married into several Great Houses and born new claimants to the throne. Especially Daenerys’s eldest daughter, Rhaena, who married Luthor II Tyrell, son of Willas Tyrell. Luthor and Maegor’s rivalry had only grown during the time when Maegor produced no male heirs and Luthor kept putting forth his half-dragon, half-flower son Aladore ‘Dragonthorn’ as the next heir to the Iron Throne. The records following are murky, but when Luthor ended up a bloody wreck in the black cells of Kings Landing, the Reach rebelled. The Arynns of the Eyrie called their banners against the King just as quickly, seeking their own personal vengeance after Maegor had executed their own Lord Paramount, Harrold.

Yet King Maegor II was practical. As more realms took offence to his reign, rather than attempt a long war that might end with his entire house and family ousted from not only Kings Landing but all of Westeros, he decided to calmly abdicate. His crown and rule were handed to his eldest son, Baeryn who was only sixteen, but still seen as a better alternative to Maegor. A presumption Baeryn’s reign was sure to correct. Baeryn ruled for only three years, but history remembers well him as King Baeryn the Bloody. Indeed to paraphrase Grand Master Kaeth- “both Maegors were cruel, Aegon II was grasping and Aegon IV was unworthy but no king was so thoroughly steeped in blood in such brief a time.” As such, there have been many stories, and many candidates for his murder. An important feature was that Baeryn died as not only the King of the Seven Kingdoms, Lord of the Crownlands and Kings Landing but he’d taken control of the North and Dorne. Baeryn killed twice as many Lord Paramounts as his father with the often brutal deaths of Tywin II Lannister, Belandra Martell, Symond Greyjoy and Byam Stark. With the added anger of the Tyrells and Aryyns for Maegor’s actions, the only Great House that could have possibly supported the young king was his own in the Trident.

Before the realms could turn against him in a greater force than they’d threatened his father- Baeryn was found in his bed with a dagger through his throat, leaving it to be said that his ending proved as bloody as the rest of his reign. Most popular in the Free Cities is the play ‘The Tragedies of Blood and Ashes’. It has two acts both centred on Targaryen murder- the first about Baeryn. As mentioned, there was no definite suspect for Baeryn’s murder despite years of investigation and so all tales consist of speculation with what makes the more lurid account. ‘The Tragedies of Blood and Ashes’, for instance, lays the blame on the Dragonthorn, making Aladore Tyrell a grand villain whose family raised him as the only true heir to the Iron Throne. This is a popular belief- that the Dragonthorn planted his thorn into his foe’s throat and escaped. Other accused include those from the Stark and Martell houses, especially Fay Stark- Byam’s grim daughter, even Maegor is considered being already a famed kinslayer. But relevant in this account is the review of Vaerion as the culprit, a not uncommon take but as we will see- Vaerion did not hide his treasons in mystery and intrigues.

Some Time to Kill

King Baeryn’s wife (who we recall was Vaerion’s sister, Rhaenerys) was newly pregnant with Baeryn’s sole heir at the time of his death, but it was decided that there was too much unrest in the realms for the crown to wait for an unborn babe to grow. Especially as Rhaenerys bore a daughter Saenerya, later married into the Baratheons. Instead, King Maegor took back his crown and worked to soothe the realms that his rule was at least better than his tyrannical son’s. Maegor decided not to go against the main actions from his son’s rule, and when he restored the Lord Paramounts of the North and Dorne, it was not back to the Starks and Martells but to the Manderleys and Daynes. Many are not sure whether this change was to destabilise northern and southern Westeros, or a more calculated choice to to bring the capitals closer and more centralised. In handing Dorne to the Daynes, the realm moved from Salt to Stone and to the Daynes with their Valyrian features. It was during this time that Vaerion chose to strike. To return to our central figure, Vaerion and his sister-wife Elaynne had three sons and a daughter. His mother, Leaysa the Moonshadow had previously died, killed by her own legendary sadness and to the rest of Westeros it must have seemed that the atrocities of Maegor’s first reign had been forgotten even by his kin. Indeed with the recent Baeryn, people were comparing Maegor in favourable lights, rather than remembering King Aegon IV’s long peace and just rule. But Vaerion had waited and it paid off in his own terrible way.

The murder of King Maegor II at the hands of Vaerion, Lord of Harrenhal has been a feature of storytellers and bards for many generations, a feature of Braavosi plays, famous epics and tavern songs. An event as sensationalised as the death of Queen Rhaenyra at the dragon Sunfyre, or the bestowing of the sword of Aegon the Conqueror to Daemon Blackfyre- where even the truth has yet to be distorted as it still holds more fascination than any dramatisation. We cannot hope to detail all the nuance that the murder has amounted, but the basic facts remain the same: Maegor was waylaid on his return to Kings Landing and the kidnapped King was taken to Harrenhal’s newly-rebuilt cells to undergo Vaerion’s dark form of revenge.

We will bring up later how 'The Tragedies of Blood and Ashes depicts Vaerion’s actions, but first we have a ballad told from Vaerion’s perspective called “A Song of Sweet Revenge”:

‘Here in this dungeon cell

I’ve got a tale to tell

I do so hope you’ve listening


When you with no escort

Were so easily caught

And brought to face my reckoning


Do you remember me,

Or has your villainy

Made woe and victims manifold?


But I know well your face

I’ve brought you to this place

A prison thick in vengeance cold


My mother tried to drown in her own sea salt tears

For it was you who made my father’s ship disappear


My mother raised me true

For honest justice due

Retributions for our family


A parent’s love create

This child raised to hate

With no other role but tragedy


“No rest til you have done

A noble task, my son”

Was my dear mother’s oft reprise


We have some hours yet

Where we can better get

Familiar with your own demise


I’ve no time to do to you all that my mother cursed

But believe me, I’ll do my best to do my worst


Your heart and face are pale

Your strength and senses fail

You start bargaining for your life


Now it seems personal

But I’m more merciful

Than implied in my smile or knife


Yes, here’s my father’s blade

His death to be repaid

Where he vanished upon the sea


You may be free of guilt

But I swore your blood spilt

My mother’s eyes are upon me


I tell you there is no more fair attractive thing

Than cold steel against the throat of my captive King


And so we both will dwell

Inside the deepest hell

With all murderous souls condemned


Someday I’ll join you there

For I’ll ensure that’s where

Our bloody tale comes to an end.’

The last two verses are repeated and the audience is often encouraged to join in or cry along with the sharp sounds of the playing harp or fiddle. The way the song ends leaves the king’s torturous death to the listener’s imagination, but the shrieking of the strings takes the place of the king’s voice as the narrator and his steel begin their revenge. Though we cannot know the truth of the lyrics, the song remains a grisly favourite and for the sake of historical accuracy does take note of the impact of Vaerion’s parents- the disappearance of Viserys II and Leaysa’s grief upon his upbringing, if no mention of his grandfather, and has some clue about Vaerion’s sword. This being his new Valyrian steel blade, the origin of which is rumoured to have been when Vaerion took some time to search for his long-vanished father and possibly found the wreckage of his missing ship. It’s said that Viserys II had been returning to Harrenhal not with a flower for his love but with a Valyrian blade for all his heirs but his ship 'The Winsome Widow' sank on the way from natural or unnatural causes. Thus Vaerion found his watery grave and completed his father’s journey, bringing back his sword and his father’s bones so his parents could be together at last in death. Meanwhile, the Valyrian steel’s first victim was King Maegor, used to end the king’s suffering whereupon Vaerion named it, Kingmaker.
By the time Maegor’s second son and sole heir, Prince Taegon appeared at Harrenhal, all he was given of his father was his head, sans eyes and still wearing his crown. The rest, as the Braavosi play holds, was blood and ashes.


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A portrait of the siblings in their youth.
 
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Let that be a lesson: never trust a sixteen year old
 
Vaerion Part Two

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Account the Fourth- Vaerion Targaryen of Harrenhal (Part Two)



There is No Light for Rats

We last left Vaerion at his greatest and most terrible, a murderer of both kin and king, all his vengeance fulfilled, handing Maegor’s head and crown to his son Prince Taegon, now the new King. All accounts, and likely Vaerion himself, believed that this was the end for the Lord of Harrenhal and no greater crime deserved no greater sentence. But Taegon spared him when Vaerion pledged his loyalty to his new king, swearing his Valyrian steel sword, Kingmaker, would only ever be used to keep the Iron Throne honest, and that no Targaryen of Harrenhal would ever sit the throne themselves for their duty was to be the king’s trident and strongest line of defence. A variant of this speech is forever immortalised in ‘The Tragedies of Blood and Ashes’ as the final speech in Act 2 of the play, which we can transpose here:


‘Henceforth my oath in fire and blood fulfill’d,

With all my rivals justly served and killed

In mine own parent’s names. My red renown’d

Soiled hands only corrupt further what’s crown’d;

That tyrant’s crest I freely gave his son,

I’ll serve young king in faith, now vengeance’s done

My name ever enclosed in Stranger’s pall,

As fell and murderous Lord of Harrenhal.



‘All evil deeds bring hearts to harden’d stone,

Yet haply those with king’s pardon atone.

Here I entreat my gracious audience,

Give open hands and serve my providence

The drums that signal for my broken chains

And sound the return home to my domain

Wherein its fields and farms there’ll come the call:

“Our mad, triumphant Lord of Harrenhal!”’

The speech is forthright, the character declaring that his vengeance is ended and will serve his new King, beseeching the crowd to forgive him as the king has and show this through applause, which will herald his journey home. The role of ‘the Repentant Lord of Harrenhal’ is a favourite of mummers, a nuanced villain to equal Act 1’s Dragonthorn and with similar motives being pushed by their parents. Whereas the character of Taegon barely speaks, a background figure in Act 1 and the latecomer to Harrenhal in Act 2, where the play does not end with a typical coronation, but instead on the forgiveness of a Lord who killed his own king and returns home in victory. Thus many have taken ‘The Tragedies of Blood and Ashes’ to view Taegon unfavourably, being a character who dispassionately watches the events unfold and shows up at the end only as the symbol of the restoration of the Targaryen authority.

The Heart of Any Living Thing Can Be Broken

Historically, Taegon lifted the crown off his father’s decapitated head and left Harrenhal, already planning his coronation. We’ve yet to properly introduce Taegon for that was one of his defining moments. Here was a prince in the shadow of Maegor’s rule and his brother Baeryn’s lust for blood and power and while we can only speculate about his formative youth, as a young man he lacked all emotion and any capacity for feeling. History knows him as King Taegon the Cold or Taegon the Heartless, and it remembers him with slight more kindness than his predecessors. During his rule he did not execute as many as his father or brother, nor were the deaths cruel, he simply put them the black cells and left them to rot. There was no real malice, only judgement. He killed his own half-brother Septon Aurion Waters in this manner and it was Taegon who plucked the Dragonthorn and left him to waste away in darkness.

Vaerion must have known there was judgement left for him, and so was committed to live the remained of his years within the rebuilding walls of Harrenhal. He was content to raise his four children and make the Riverlands prosper, without ever setting foot outside their boundaries. He reached his thirtieth nameday in this manner, turning down tourney invitations and small council requests, having no further ambitions in his life. The same could not be said for the rest of his family, however many of whom were uncomfortable with his kinslaying ways. In particular, his eldest son and heir, Rhaegar, decided to abandon his titles and study at the Citadel (an act much applauded by any scholar who has mixed up the repeating Targaryen names). The second-born Viserion became heir, and his brother’s betrothal was reworked to marry King Taegon’s eldest daughter, Princess Elaena. Vaerion’s own daughter Laenerys was to marry Taegon’s heir Daeron, continuing the pattern of Harrenhal brides to Targaryen Kings.

The only person, it is said, who could spark some emotion from King Taegon was his first wife; she was Queen Taliserya, called Ice-Eyes for her remarkable blue eyes. Her eyes were the only coldness in her, all the lords and smallfolk loved her and so they loved her sons, Daeron and Baelor who she personally raised in her image. When Taliserya sickened and passed away, the entire realm was said to have mourned and the songs written of her echo this. The florid tale “A Chill Heir on a Lonely Throne” elaborately recounts Taegon’s life and the romance of Taegon the Cold and Taliserya Ice-Eyes with much frosty symbolism, ending with her funeral where the king’s frozen heart thawed and he shed his first tear. Vaerion is possibly mentioned, depending on one’s interpretation of the convoluted ice-related metaphors. Yet Taliserya’s funeral was very significant to Vaerion as he chose to finally step outside his safe walls to farewell his queen and sister. He did not succeed- the moment his party arrived at King’s Landing they were seized and Vaerion was imprisoned. The widowed king had not thawed completely.

But Reader, He Did Live

Unlike with Aurion Waters and Aladore Tyrell the Dragonthorn, the black cells did not become Vaerion’s tomb. Taegon had shown mercy when Vaerion killed Maegor II but many suggest that it was always temporary. After the actions of both King Maegor II and King Baeryn, the new King Taegon had been young and needed to stabilise the realm and his own rule and as such, killing the Lord Paramount of the Riverlands would have been unnecessary chaos. It was only after many years, when the two had heirs of their own that Taegon chose to strike. Everyone, the king, the small council, every lord and commoner and especially Vaerion himself knew he was guilty. Nevertheless a trial was held to determine if the charge of murder was regicide or tyrannicide, and therefore how steepness of the penalty. Once again King Baeryn’s legacy caused problems, as all could agree that Baeryn was a tyrant king, and Maegor II was the lesser threat. Also, few wanted to argue to Taegon that his father had been a monster. But Vaerion was not sentenced to die, here are a few of main theories why:
  • Kinslaying. The Faith had already looked harshly upon King Taegon for causing his half-brother Aurion’s death, he did not want to further their ire by sentencing his Targaryen cousin to die.
  • Taliserya Ice-Eyes. As well as cousin, Taegon was good-brother to Vaerion and though when Maegor II and Rhaegar were good-brothers it did not matter to Maegor, the romantics argue that Taegon truly loved Taliserya, more than Maegor loved his queen Saenerys. This is not the most popular theory, as Vaerion’s trial and Taliserya’s funeral happened around the same time and Taegon is still known as:
  • Taegon the Heartless. The king had never cared for any of his family, especially his father and felt no drive to avenge him and perform any severe justice.
  • Vengeance. The cycle needed to end peacefully. It’s a less exciting answer but it’s true that Taegon did not need the Riverlands or Vaerion’s sons rising against him in his old age.
The judgement was declared: Vaerion was allowed to keep his life, but that was the only thing he could. He would be sent to the Wall, stripped of land, titles, his marriage and his freedom. This was expected of all those banished to the Wall but Vaerion’s sentence went further with two items of weregild, for Taegon and his mother Saenerys. His own aunt, the former queen Saenerys, Maegor’s widow had advocated for Vaerion’s death and now could only be assuaged with blood as she took one of Vaerion’s eyes. Some say she kept it in a jar, next to the preserved head of her husband who Vaerion had blinded. This was not the most painful compensation that Vaerion paid for his revenge, that honour went to the king. Taegon’s chosen weregild was Vaerion’s Valyrian steel sword Kingmaker. This was the sword used to kill Maegor II and therefore ‘make’ King Taegon and at the time Vaerion had sworn to him that this sword would keep the line of Targaryen kings true. But Taegon decreed that ‘only kings have the power to make and unmake kings’ and took the sword for his own heirs.

Here Vaerion’s rule ends, as he was sent north half-blinded and empty-handed. His last ambition was to die cold and without importance, something aided by a sickness he had picked up in the dungeons of Kings Landing. Before he died Vaerion gained some power back, becoming commander of Westwatch-by-the-Bridge. There was some rumour that on his deathbed he wed a northern silent sister by the name of Margaret, but as Margaret died not longer after, it remains unconfirmed. However, his relationship with his sister-wife Rhiera was amiable but not romantic, so it’s theorised that Vaerion spent his last moments finally allowing himself a moment of weakness and love.
His heir and second-son Viserion was only thirteen when he took his father’s place and the weight of his father’s bloody legacy.

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Note: I'll be taking a break from this work, it's been a writing exercise but I don't think it's been constructive. Plus it's gotten repetitive. So I might come back to it if people are interested but this will be the last entry for now.
 
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stnylan

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Well nice to see the end of Vaerion.

There is a repetitive nature to some AARs across dynasties, and I think the mechanics of the GoT mod do make this more prevelant with the cycles of wars.