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I remember finding this and being disappointed it wasn't being updated. Glad to see it's back.

As a jingle in my childhood used to say, "We bring good things to life."
Just a little update: I'm working on the next chapter for this. I was a bad boy and started working on a future chapter, distracting me from the next one, but said chapter has a climactic part I was trying to get right. Point is, a new chapter is in the works.

Chapter 9

Another rebellion. Another uprising. For some, perhaps, it was starting to be a regular occurrence in Duskendale. Save for the king’s efforts to end piracy in the Narrow Sea, as well as the long conflict in the Westerlands over who ruled in Casterly Rock, the rest of the Six Kingdoms lived in peace. For Duskendale, on the other hand, it seemed like no one was happy until they were at war again.

For Rhaena, it felt like the conflict of the Dance had followed her home, even long after it had ended. Truth be told, she was happy to leave King’s Landing, as it brought back too many horrid memories of the Dance. The fighting in King’s Landing that one day, when her father and mother took the throne. That dreadful night when she came across the bodies of her loved ones and kinsmen, hanging by a rope or with heads tuck upon a pike. Even seeing the banners of another house hanging over the walls of the Red Keep struck deep into her chest, like a heated long sword. As strange as it might have sounded, it was far easier to return to the Dun Fort and prepare for another war than it was to remain in a city at peace.

And a war to install Ser Jon Darklyn in the Dun Fort? That Darklyn girl, Alyssa, should be thankful she did not live during the days of the Dance. She may have been sent into the dungeons for being related to the enemy, or even executed. But no, even though she was Ser Jon’s daughter by his young wife, and because she had become friends with Laena, she was permitted to live, and live most comfortably. Rhaena had suggested sending Alyssa away when they returned to Duskendale, but Laena had refused.


And Laena… what was Rhaena to make of her daughter? She could see her husband’s fire in the girl’s eyes, and see his determination in her face. Yet her husband had been a warrior, and Targaryen women were often raised to be warriors alongside the men, or at the very least trained to ride dragons and combat enemies. Laena? Laena wore pretty dresses, studied with a maester, and spent time alone thinking about her rule. For one who came from Targaryen stock, she seemed to more content to live life as a courtier than as one whose blood raged with fire. Perhaps if her father had been harsher with her at a young age, or if she had gone to live in King’s Landing rather than Essos, she might have turned out different. One could only speculate.

Of greater concern, of course, was this Buckwell rebellion. When Rhaena returned to the Dun Fort, she gathered her officers and held a war council of sorts. She entered the tent that one foggy morning, just outside Duskendale, and asked curtly, “What is the situation?”

“Lord Will Buckwell has a personal levy of about a thousand men,” an officer replied, “and he is marching upon us as we speak.”

Things had progressed quickly, it seemed. No doubt Lord Buckwell had tried to time this with Laena’s trip to King’s Landing. “How many have we raised?”

“Perhaps just six hundred, if that.”

A sigh left Rhaena’s throat, and her eyes closed. She remembered, back when her husband lived, that the Dun Fort could summon three thousand men at arms if they had to. Years of rebellion and blood shed had left the army a shadow of its former self. There were no doubt counts and pirate lords who could raise an army larger than the Dun Fort. As she stood there, eyes closed, she pondered their only solutions. There was only one she could think of, though one she was not entirely happy with.

“We shall have to hire mercenaries,” Rhaena said.

The officers exchanged glances. One cleared his throat before saying, “Mercenaries? But we do not have the proper funds for mercenaries, my lady.”

“Then we shall have to take out a loan, shall we not?” Rhaena asked, her purple eyes narrowing. “A small one of course. One that would be easy to be paid. No doubt we have a vassal or two that might be able to assist us.”

“Will her ladyship approve of this?”

Rhaena raised her voice, feeling a hint of anger within her. She was growing weary of hesitant presumptions about her decisions. “My daughter has entrusted me to put down the rebellion, and she will trust my decision-making in the process.” She pointed on a map, her fake hand hidden underneath the iron glove. The tip of the motionless fingers pointed just north of Duskendale. “Besides, with Buckwell preparing to attack us at any moment, I would say we have very little choice. Now, gentlemen, let us send ravens to seek the most readily available mercenaries… and then let us prepare for battle.”

The ravens were not sent out long before responses came from a potential troupe, not too far from Duskendale. Within a day, riders came to the camp outside the Dun Fort, led by Allaquo Delyios, the Lorathi captain of a mercenary group known as the Stormcrows. Rhaena had not heard of them before, but judging by the dents and uncleanliness of their armor, they had either seen quite a bit of battle before arriving, or they were utterly terrible in caring for their equipment.


Rhaena greeted him on the edge of the encampment, flanked by some of her officers. Allaquo dismounted from his mount and approached her, flanked by two of his men, one wearing a white scarf and another wearing a red scarf. Allaquo paused just a few feet from her, and studied her for a few seconds. Sensing he was awaiting her to make the first move, Rhaena bowed her head. “Hail, Lord Allaquo. We thank you for answering our summons.”

Allaquo turned his head towards the man with the red scarf, who immediately stepped forward and spoke in a voice tinged with the familiar Lorathi twang. “The general would perhaps like to know why the Dragon Woman states the request as a summons. Stormcrows are not summoned, but fly where they will.”

“We have requested help from those who would assist us, and obviously you answered the call. Am I understand by your current state that you have seen battle?”

The man with the red scarf continued to speak. “Stormcrows have seen much service, yes. The Lion of Lannisport hired the Stormcrows in the wars out west. Many fell, many died. From the Stormcrows, and from those who faced the flock. The Stormcrows were flying back to Lorath, when the ravens intercepted the flock. Now the Stormcrows fly to Duskendale, for the Unicorn, the ravens said, required swords.”

“That is true,” Rhaena said. “We require more men to take down a rebel. We will pay you a fair coin for you to join our ranks during this war.”

Allaquo glanced at the man in the red scarf, who nodded back to him before saying to Rhaena, “The lord will decide, but first the lord desires to see the Unicorn.”

Rhaena tilted her lips in surprise. Allaquo wanted to see Laena? Why was that? Truth be told, Laena was expected to arrive at any moment, as she wished to address the troops. One might suppose this was fortuitous though… rather peculiar. In the end, Rhaena just steadied her face and said, “I shall arrange for you to meet Lady Laena in a personal audience.”

Laena arrived later that day, accompanied by a small guard and Albar. Rhaena told her that the mercenary captain of the Stormcrows wished to speak with her privately. Laena glanced to Albar, who gave a nod, which earned a nod from Laena to Rhaena. Allaquo, first made to give up his arms, was then permitted to visit with Laena inside Rhaena’s personal tent. They were not in there a long time before both came out. Allaquo had a wide smile on his face, and a hand on Laena’s shoulder. Laena, for her part, neither smiled nor frowned, but walked out with the same grace and dignity of a lady of the court as when she had walked in.

“T-t-t-t-t-the S-s-s-s-stormc-c-c-c-crows w-w-w-w-w-will f-f-f-f-f-fight.” Allaquo said.

Laena nodded, adding in a voice that was spoken at a normal volume. “T-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-they w-w-w-w-w-w-will.”

Rhaena blinked. Had Allaquo heard of her daughter’s terrible stuttering problem? What’s more, had Laena heard that he bore a terrible stutter? Was her daughter much more aware of things than even she realized? Had she sought to use this to bond with him, just as he had pondered if she bore the same problem as he? She rubbed the side of her temple, her slender fingers shifting through her silver strands, and decided to let it rest. She had a rebellion to put down, after all.

Within another day, scouts reported that Buckwell’s forces were seen approaching Duskendale. Rhaena ordered the troops to break camp and prepare to march out. The Stormcrows were for the most part prepared, and already moving outward in reconnaissance. The Dun Fort levies were lined up in parade formation. Their banners, bearing the checkered patterns of Duskendale and the familiar unicorn emblem, fluttered in the wind, their sounds collecting to make a noise like the sound of the ocean. Rhaena stood off to the side, in her usual armor, reviewing the troops with a scan of her eyes as they awaited the final order to march out. Jelmamza, her faithful dragon, in full size, rested behind her, scanning at the formation as well. The beast opened her mouth and snapped it again, her tongue flicking about as she tried to get the last bits of a cow she had digested earlier that day.

Laena came riding from the camp, bouncing on a side saddle. A few knights were at her side, carrying the banner of the unicorn. Albar likewise was riding alongside her, his horse trotting not too from her near the front. The maester rarely left her side during public events – Rhaena had come to expect that. He was always at her side, not only to give advice during important decisions, but also to take over her speaking should she require assistance with her stutter. Of course, if she had memorized her lines, and practiced them diligently, she could manage to fake a few sentences. Hopefully she had done so here – the last thing these soldiers needed was for their lady to stumble over her words before they stumbled off into battle.

The soldiers stood at attention, spears, banners and other weapons at the ready as Laena rode before them. Her mare trotted along the front of the lines, then curved and stopped a few feet from the middle of the formation. She turned, waiting for the maester to take her side. She stood there, her silver hair dancing about in the wind.

At last, Laena spoke. Her voice was crisp, clear, and loud. “Men of the Dun fort – where is your loyalty?”

There seemed to be a pause among the men. Perhaps some of them did not expect her to speak so clearly, or loudly. Perhaps there was something else. Perhaps the spirit of her father was there, if not in soul than in pride. Perhaps something had come upon the armies that hadn’t come upon them in several years. Without a cue from anyone, the men finally spoke, crying out in response, “To the Unicorn and to his line!”

Laena lifted up her hand and pointed northward. “Then go, and deliver the justice of the Seven!”

At that, all the men raised up their weapons and cried out, “Unicorn! Unicorn! Unicorn!”

Rhaena watched the scene in a quiet awe. Not only because she was impressed with her daughter, though that was certainly part of it. For a girl her age, Laena had matured beyond many girls a few more name days along than her. No, but she found herself in awe because, as she watched the scene, and saw the troops begin turn and move in formation, she was reminded of an event many, many years ago. She continued to recall the scene, even as the soldiers marched on past Laena, her hand upraised, her eyes scanning the lines. What Rhaena remembered was a tournament – the same tournament where she had lost her husband. Early in that tournament, the Unicorn Prince had rode forth with his daughter on his lap, for no other reason than she had requested it out of a girlish fascination with horses and her father. At that ceremony, the Unicorn Prince had called for the creed of loyalty from his men. And what had that little girl done? Presuming this was all some silly game, she had cried out for the men to repeat themselves. And what had the men done? Out of confused loyalty, they had repeated the creed. The girl had almost asked them to do it a third time, but her father had stopped her.

Now, however, she was permitted to have them repeat that creed. She had received her third time.

How funny the gods can be, sometimes. Laena had not been the heir to her father’s lordship – her brother had been. It was not to her that the soldiers were to be initiating the creed of loyalty. Yet, it was as if the Seven had marked the girl by fate. “To the Unicorn and to his line,” the soldiers had shouted. She was his line – the chosen one. Fate from diplomatic necessity had made her the heir. Luck and skill had kept her the heir thus far. Now, she was solidifying it. Laena, daughter of Rhaekar, the Unicorn Prince, was marked and sealed as the Lady of the Dun Fort.

Rhaena turned towards her dragon. On cue, Jelmamza lowered her head, permitting her master to mount. Rhaena steadied herself atop the beast’s back, then patted it a few times on the neck. “Walk for now, Jemmy. Mama will give you a chance to fly – fear not.”

The dragon moved at a slow, waddling pace. The ugly mug for a face lowered down to the ground, sniffing along the grass, no doubt attempting to find the scent of some new bovine to devour. Rhaena gave her a gentle tap with the hilt of her sword, and the dragon lifted up its head to focus on the path before it. It was then that Rhaena heard trotting, and turned her head to see Maester Albar riding up to her. He stopped just short of the dragon (he always seemed nervous around dragons – even innocent, sweet ones like Jelmamza) and looked up at Rhaena.

“My lady, I would like to ask you something, if you have a moment.”

“Make it quick, maester. There is a battle forming.”

“Of course, my lady. I was wondering if you knew anything of your daughter’s purchase of statues?”

Rhaena raised a silver eyebrow. “Statues?”

“Yes, my lady. I learned from Tristipher that she has ordered two statues of unicorns, made of dark sort of marble. Do you know the reason? I asked her, and she simply said she had plans for it.”

Truth be told, Rhaena had been ignorant of the affair – indeed, she hadn’t heard about any statues being purchased until this very moment. Certainly she had been busy with the matters of the rebellion, but even in the daily affairs of the Dun Fort, she had focused on trying to rebuild the army, while the other counselors assisted Laena with their individual tasks and skills. “No, maester, I do not. I would press her to tell you why.”

Albar looked visibly disappointed, but merely bowed his head. “Very good, my lady.” He turned and trotted away.

The army continued outside of the city of Duskendale, approaching the open planes to the north. As Rhaena marched them towards a ridge of hills, she saw that Lord Buckwell had positioned his troops there. The line of men went from one end to the other, and the familiar banners of House Buckwell fluttered in scattered positions about the formation. Allaquo and his sellswords had already taken formation along the western flank. Rhaena grinned, then drew her sword. Now was the time to prepare for battle.

“Soldiers!” she cried out.

The Dun Fort levy of barely a few hundred men paused and turned towards their commander.

“Before you lie the rebel forces,” Rhaena began. “Some of you have fought with us through all these years, against one rebel force or another. Today I say this is the last battle we fight. Today, we put an end to these rebellions once and for all. Fight for the Dun Fort, and for your homes there. Fight for Lady Laena, and House Valzyren, and the line of the Unicorn. Or, if nothing else… fight for me!”

The men held up their weapons and gave a cheer. Jelmamza suddenly lifted up on her hind legs and let out a great roar, which caused even the air to thunder. Rhaena held her place, keeping her balance as her sword remained aloft. The men gave another cheer, and then a third. Jelmamza landed and shook her head, smoke flowing from her nostrils. The soldiers turned and rushed towards their formations, their officers barking commands. Rhaena patted her dragon on the shoulder, and then, with a flap of wings…

...she was in flight. Rhaena felt the surge of air flow through her hair, saw the expanse of sky come to greet her, while the sky retreated below. It had been quite a while since Rhaena had enjoyed this freedom, and it amused her to ponder for a moment that she was the only Targaryen on Westeros with a dragon to ride. Jelmamza swerved to the side, flying in a circular angle, and Rhaena looked down at the ground below. The armies had become small shapes, with some lined up on the valley before the hill, with others lined along the hill itself. It was clear Lord Buckwell hoped to use the terrain to his advantage.

Well, she would change all that.

“Jem-Jem,” Rhaena whispered, “burn them.”

Jelmamza bent its wings, and it began to swoop down. It spread them open as it drew closer. Rhaena saw the formations on the hill grow closer and closer. She could start to make out the shapes and colors of various uniforms and banners. Suddenly, Jelmamza took a breath, then burst forth flames. Fire roared from her gullet, spiraling down towards the ground. It crashed on the edge of the enemy formations, then curved upward as she lifted her glide. Rhaena heard the screams of men as flaming bodies ran from the fireball her dragon had made. As the fire lifted up along the lines, the armies fled the hills, moving downward. Good – get off the hills, and fight like men!

When Jelmamza pulled back and up after reaching the end of the ridge line, Rhaena looked back, and saw the arms were clashing together. She had Jelmamza swing around, dive back down, and blow her fire just behind the enemy lines. Casualties were minimal, but it had a greater desired effect: it sent the men into a panic, and brought disruption to their charge. Rhaena’s armies soon gained the upper hand, striking down all who opposed them and cutting the line up. Soon men were charging through the flames to escape. Rhaena swung Jelmamza around and fired another blast at those fleeing.

By the end of the day, the battle was won. Sellsword and soldier alike were cheering for Rhaena and Jelmamza and Rhaena, both of whom stood up the hill, surrounded by linger flames and walls of smoke. Rhaena moved a strand of her hair back and looked at the cheering armies. The banner of the unicorn fluttered proudly among them.

To the unicorn, and to his line...
The scene with the two stuttering leaders was a nice, subtle touch :)

Suspicious, paranoid, arbitrary -- something tells me that Allaquo is a man who has become used to fighting all his life, and not just on the battlefield. His condition has, of course, probably not made for an easy life in any case.

Ser Jon is fortunate that he has a daughter who is in the good graces of the Lady of the Dun Fort, and thus might plead clemency on his behalf -- unless, of course, Laena and Rhaena are in the mood to make an example of him. Lord Buckwell, of course, is probably a dead man walking at this point...
The scene with the two stuttering leaders was a nice, subtle touch :)

Gotta have fun with the character traits...

Plus it's rare I see AARs make use of actual stuttering characters. I can only think of one in memory that ever used a character's stutter as part of their personality.

Ser Jon is fortunate that he has a daughter who is in the good graces of the Lady of the Dun Fort, and thus might plead clemency on his behalf -- unless, of course, Laena and Rhaena are in the mood to make an example of him. Lord Buckwell, of course, is probably a dead man walking at this point...

Things are building up to something...
Remembering some of went on in earlier times in this AAR this update made shivers up and down my spine.
Remembering some of went on in earlier times in this AAR this update made shivers up and down my spine.

Dunno if that's a good thing or a bad thing.
I just read through this AAR. This is the first one that has made me genuinely upset that I've ran out of stuff to read, I absolutely love it. Keep up the good work!
I just read through this AAR. This is the first one that has made me genuinely upset that I've ran out of stuff to read, I absolutely love it. Keep up the good work!

I'm happy to hear that! I'll try to keep a decent amount to read continually coming.

It's amazing to see that this is back after so long

Life finds a way... of delaying you. But here we are.
I was always lingering, it was just that RL took me away from posting updates.