• We have updated our Community Code of Conduct. Please read through the new rules for the forum that are an integral part of Paradox Interactive’s User Agreement.
Talk about shocking political outcomes...
Well, he already made a good start on draining the King's Landing swamp... two dragon-riders at a time!

Chapter 10

Be a septon, they said. Serve the Seven, they said. Be close to God, they said. What they never said was you might get yourself killed while on the job. They definitely never said you might get killed by a dragon ridden by one of the fiercest dragonseeds Westeros had ever encountered.

As Andrian brought the cool mug to his lips, his tired eyes stared forward into the open area of the tavern. The shivering and quaking had finally stopped, and he was actually able to hold something again. It felt nice to have the cool, fruity drink slide down his throat, into his belly. It was refreshing and filling at the same time. It was also helpful in getting rid of the awful taste of crusty bread that had been left over in his mouth for the past few days.

A brunette woman in a simple dress was shooting glances Andrian’s way. She had been doing so ever since he sat down with his drink. He knew her role all too well, for she was doing far too little to be a serving wench, and yet spending far too much time around the tavern to simply be a patron. Besides, she had disappeared in the back room with another gentleman a while ago, and been gone far too long to have simply been having a little chat. As Andrian shot her a sideways glance, he had to admit that she wasn’t terrible looking. She wasn’t as clean as the women were in Duskendale, and she wasn’t as full figured as the mothers around the Dun Fort. Still, she bore the smooth skin of youth, and her eyes were larger than normal, giving her a doe-like appearance. He gave her a little smile, then returned to his drink.

When the girl registered the smile, she stood up and stepped over to him. She leaned over the table and shot him a grin back. “Are you a septon?”

“Yes, I am,” Andrian replied. He knew that some women enjoyed seducing a man of the cloth. It was a distinct advantage he had over men who hadn’t taken vows.

The woman giggled. “That is good. What are you doing here by yourself?”

“I am actually waiting on someone,” Andrian said. It was the truth, he was. “However, it might be some time before he arrives.”

“Oh.” The woman smiled all the more. “Would you care to join me in the back, then?”

Thank you, Seven! He gently pushed the metal cup away, then stood up. “I was hoping you would ask.”

She took him by the hand, curling her soft fingers around his knuckles. Together, the two of them went away from Andrian’s table, around the counter in the side of the room, and towards the back door where the woman had previously disappeared.

I like where this is going.

They entered through the door. It was a small room, with a bed against the wall, and nothing else. There weren’t even any bedsheets on the mattress. The woman let Andria enter, then shut the door after him. She turned and smiled at him, moving a strand of her brown hair behind her ear. She took a few steps towards them, then went down on her knees.

I really like where this is going!

She looked up at him.

There were tears in her eyes.

Andrian blinked back.

“Please, help me,” she said in a croaking voice. She took his hand and kissed along his knuckles. “Help me, please. I do not wish to be a whore any longer, but I do not know what to do. Please, forgive me for my sins, and tell me what I should do!”


The girl continued. “I upset my father when he found me with a boy long ago. I left the house. I thought my love would come with me, but… he abandoned me.” Tears fell down her cheeks as she clung to Andrian’s hand. He could feel those tears moisten his knuckles. “I had no other way to make a living. I was too ashamed to return home. I still am. I… what should I do? Do I become a Silent Sister? Will they accept me? Please tell me… please, tell me my sins are forgiven!”

Andrian closed his eyes. He pressed his lips tightly together. In his chest, he felt his heart ache. Suddenly, he realized tears were forming along his own eyes. He cleared his throat and pushed them back.

“What do I do, septon?”

Andrian sighed. “Go back to your father, you silly girl.” He took his other hand and patted the back of her head. “No matter what you have done, I am certain your mother and father miss you, and love you. The love of a parent for their child cannot be bound by any degree of anger.”

She looked up at him. Her eyes were as moist as her cheeks. “Will they forgive me?”

“Yes, they will forgive you. And the Seven forgive you as well. Bow your head, and let me give you a blessing.”

He did. He prayed to the Maiden to forgive the girl and make her as pure as crystal again, and for the Father and Mother to enable her parents to forgive her. He prayed for the Warrior to defend her on the journey home. When he was finished the girl stood up and turned away. She wiped her eyes, and sniffed several times, clearly trying to get herself back together. Andrian turned to leave her alone, then thought of something. He reached for his belt, and patted the pouch that was there. He heard the jingle of the stags inside. With one flick of his finger, the pouch was untied from the belt. He held it up and stuck out his arm. “Here.”

The girl turned. Her doe-like eyes caught sight of the bag, then looked up at him. “No...”

“Take it. You need it more than I.”

Her thin fingers reached out and took hold of the pouch. Bringing it back to her, she eyed it for one moment before clutching it to her chest. She smiled at him. “Thank you.”

Andrian smiled and gave a nod, then turned and headed out of the room.

Well, now I am penniless.

Well, his contact would be coming soon, in any case. In fact, as soon as the septon sat down, the man he had been waiting for walked through the door of the tavern. It was Lord Rhaekar himself. Still wearing the dark armor he had worn in the ill-fated Battle of King’s Landing, the Valyrian glanced his violet eyes about the room and quickly found his septon. He walked over and joined him at the table. “I found them.”

“Who, my lord?”

“Albar and Rhaena. They are alive and well.”

Andrian exhaled. “Thank the Seven for that.”

Rhaekar nodded with a smile. “Albar took her from the Red Keep as soon as the Hammer attacked. There was a secret tunnel under the castle, and he used it to get out. Right now he and Rhaena are in a tavern in King’s Landing itself.”

“They are both well, I imagine?”

Rhaekar frowned. “I did not see Rhaena. She was resting at the time. Albar told me she has been running a fever and needing some rest. Apparently...” Rhaekar held up a hand. He opened and closed his fingers before putting it down again. “Apparently, Rhaena’s dragon turned on her when the city went into chaos. He chewed off her hand.”

Andrian shivered at the thought. He needed both his hands. Granted, the only spine they would ever be running down would be the spine of his holy books, with the luck he was having. “I am sorry to hear all that, my lord.”

“I am simply happy to know she is alive.” Rhaekar glanced down at the cup in Andrian’s hand. “Are you finished with your drink?”

The septon looked down into the metal cup. His reflection stared back at him with the tiny bit of fluid left. For a brief moment, the amusing thought came to his head that his family name was Cupp, and he could see himself in a cup. Throwing his head back, he brought the cup to his mouth and downed the last bit with a loud gulp. With a slam on the table, the septon let out a sigh and said, “Now I am, my lord.”

“Good. Come with me.”

The two of them left the tavern and mounted the horses waiting outside. It had been a blessing of the Seven to have even found the beasts, riderless and ownerless as they were. What had happened to the knights who rode them before was a mystery, though Andrian could guess they were either now lying dead in a field or digesting in the belly of a dragon. Either way, they were now theirs, and provided them simple and quicker transportation than they would have on foot.

As they rode away from the small hamlet and towards King’s Landing, Andrian said, “I have an unfortunate confession to make, my lord. I may, for the rest of our travels, have to rely upon your charity for coin.”

“Why is that? I thought you had coin.”

“Yes, but I spent it all on a whore.”

Rhaekar turned his face towards Andrian. His eyes were wide, and his jaw was wide open.

The septon immediately realized his poor choice of words, and blushed a deep shade of red. “No, not like that. The poor girl was trying to return to her parents, and I assisted her.”

“Oh. How noble of you, Andrian.”

Believe me, I would have gladly spent the money on her another way, Andrian thought. He decided to try and change the subject. “What is our plan once we find Lady Rhaena?”

Rhaekar frowned. “Are you aware that Hugh the Hammer has declared himself king?”

Andrian shook his head. “No, my lord.”

“Indeed. Rhaenyra has been usurped, and Hugh sits on the Iron Throne now. He has called the lords and ladies of the six kingdoms to attend his coronation, and pledge loyalty to him.”

“I imagine that includes us, my lord.”

“Yes, but Albar and I are in agreement that Rhaena should probably not stay within the city. I will see you all off to Duskendale, and join you after things are settled here.”

“Is Rhaena in any sort of danger?”

“It is said that Rhaenyra sits in Hugh’s dungeon, as does Daemon and many others. I do not know anything else, but I do not wish to test fate.”

As they finally approached King’s Landing, a sense of dread fell upon the septon. He had never liked the city for it’s crowd and filthiness, but now, after the battle and the Hammer’s victory, his distaste became more sinister. Dark clouds had gathered over the entire sky, darkening the landscape. Stacks of smoke still rose up from scattered parts of the city. People who were leaving or entering the city hung their heads, and coughed and hacked as they went. It was as if an epidemic had fallen on the city, even though no disease was thought to be running rampant at the time. The more and more they drew close to the city, the greater and greater Andrian felt the clutch of death around his throat. If he were to ever experience the seven hells in this life, this would probably be the closest to it as he would get.


To the septon’s pleasure, the tavern Albar and Rhaena were staying at was only a little past the King’s Gate. At a second-story window, Maester Albar peeked out his head as they drew close, then disappeared. He reappeared outside the front doors of the tavern and bowed low. “Welcome back, my lord. Septon Andrian, it is good to see you well.”

“Lord Rhaekar wanted me to be a blessing for his troops, but it seems I was more a blessing for him,” Andrian remarked.

Rhaekar slipped off his horse, then handed the reins to Andrian. “Wait here. We will return.”

Andrian nodded, and watched the two men disappear into the tavern. It was quite some time before they exited again, this time with a third figure. It was a young woman with a deathly pale face, sweaty cheeks, and a large, grey cowl over her head and shoulders. Andrian blinked when it dawned on him that this was Lady Rhaena Targaryen. She was already a thin girl, but she looked like she had lost some weight, and her sickly stature at this moment made her nearly unrecognizable. The cowl covered up nearly everything but her face, hiding the familiar Valyrian white hair. Rhaekar mounted his horse, and together he and Albar assisted Lady Rhaena in mounting up with him. She took a spot in front of him, and rested her head against her husband’s chest. Albar left to fetch his own horse, and as soon as he was mounted, the small party left through the King’s Gate and moved along the edge of the wall.

Andrian and Albar rode behind Rhaekar and Rhaena. The septon turned to the maester and asked, “What was it like when the Hammer dropped upon King’s Landing?”

Albar frowned. He cast the septon a sideways glance. “It is not something I should like to relive again.”

Andrian opened his mouth, then closed it again. He wanted to tell the maester being on the battlefield wasn’t any better. Watching Aegon fall to his death, then seeing Rhaenyra’s dragon topple down in the midst of enemy troops, then watching as Hugh Hammer began to rain death upon their own forces… it had been a nightmare. Andrian still remembered watching in horror as Hugh turned even against their camps, scorching septons and camp followers alike. Andrian wasn’t certain why the Seven chose to spare him, but he was thankful they had.

A mist had fallen upon the area about the castle walls. The small party was barely able to see except for several feet ahead of them. As a cool breeze came up against the walls, Rhaena shivered and clung her head closer against her husband. “Rhaekar...”

“It is I,” Rhaekar replied.

“I was worried something had happened...”

“Do not worry. We will send you to Duskendale as soon as possible.”

The sound of birds could be heard up ahead – ravens and crows, Andrian imagined. Albar seemed to be peering through the mist, and the grimace on his face showed that he was worried about something. “Do you smell that?” the maester asked. “It is a foul smelling scent in the air.”

Now the septon could smell it. It was a rancid, wicked smell. He covered his nose and looked about. Nothing could be seen through the fog. “Where is that coming from?”

He wished he hadn’t asked – he soon found out.

Up ahead, the mist cleared. The Dragon’s Gate could be seen, with the familiar statues and similitude of dragons dancing about the doorway. Along the kings road leading out, large stakes rose up from the ground, pointing towards the sky.

On those stakes hung bodies. Other stakes bore decapitated heads.

Rhaekar paused his mount and stared at the scene, slack jawed. Albar and Andrian rode up beside him and steadied their horses. Ravens pecked at the flesh of the bodies. Some of the dark-feathered birds gouged out the eyes of the lifeless heads. Rhaena heard the sound of the birds and lifted up her head to look. Immediately she shrieked.

She recognized the head of her father, Daemon. His mouth hung open. His tongue had already been chewed up by the birds, and already ravens were tearing into his eye sockets.

He wasn’t the only one recognizable. Another stake held up the head of Rhaena’s sister, Baela. Another stake had the head of Aegon, son to Daemon and Rhaenyra, and only eleven name days old. Daeron Targaryen, Rhaenyra’s young brother, had also been beheaded.

Many stakes held bodies that had been hung instead of decapitated. One was the nine-year old Viserys Targareyen, another child of Daemon and Rhaenyra. Jaehaera, Jachaerys, and Maelor, the three children of Aegon the Usurper and Helaena, hung from poles, swaying back and forth. Jaehaera and Jachaerys had only passed eight name days, while Maelor had seen four. Their young, unblemished bodies bled out the holes that the ravens had made. With them all was Lucerys Velaryon, also swinging from the gallows.

At the head of them all, hanging from a rope tied to two stakes, so that she rested in midair over all who traveled in and out of the Dragon’s Gate, was Rhaenyra herself. Her dress was already bloodied from several stab wounds that had punctured her body, and her face was purple and blue from asphyxiation. Two crude faux dragon wings had been tied to her back. A sign was hung around her neck, a wooden plank with the painted words MAEGOR WITH TEATS.

“Gods,” muttered Rhaekar.

After her shriek, Rhaena had gone silent. Her purple eyes looked up at the sight, traveling from one family member to the next. Albar glanced over, then frowned at the princess. He looked to Rhaekar and said, “My lord… truly it is not safe for her here. We must get her to Duskendale at once.”

Suddenly, Rhaena collapsed against her husband. She covered her eyes and broke into a hysterical sob. Andrian felt his blood go cold as he heard the wailing that left the girl’s throat. He held a hand up to his lips and rubbed it back and forth across his mouth. He grunted and cleared his throat a few times. He tried to do everything in his power not to break down with her.

Rhaekar held up his arm and clung Rhaena close to him. With the same hand, he covered her face. He turned to Albar and nodded. “You are quite right. It is very dangerous for her to be here. We need to get her a wheel house and send her out at once.”

Albar nodded. “We will secure her one in Stokeworth. Andrian and I will make certain she arrives in Duskendale safe and sound.”

Rhaekar nodded. He had to speak louder because of the wailing coming from Rhaena. “I trust the both of you.”

The three men, with Rhaena still crying, left the scene then. As they headed north, they passed by a wooden sign that had been set up a little past Rhaenyra. At the top of the post, the wooden plank had been nailed tilted, and the painted words read DRAGON FOREST.

For some reason, Andrian recalled the prostitute he had met earlier. As he remembered her and her plight, he thought to himself, Run away, little whore. Run home to your parents, and never return.


Author’s Note: In case anyone is curious how much of this was me combining elements of the game, or adding extra details for the sake of a narrative, etc., let me say that, yes indeed, the Hugh Hammer AI decided to execute nearly ALL of House Targaryen shortly after taking the throne. This post wasn’t an exaggeration in the slightest.
That was gruesome

Reminds me of something out of Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay.
poor girl... at least Adrian is a good septon... he has his flaws... but a good man indeed
When I was reading the first part I was thinking, oh, a fun chapter, then I kept on reading and became suddenly depressed and intrigued at what will happen next. It's a doozy.
Andrian is a good man. Unlucky, in several ways, but good.

This truly is Game of Thrones though.
When I was reading the first part I was thinking, oh, a fun chapter, then I kept on reading and became suddenly depressed and intrigued at what will happen next. It's a doozy.

That makes two of us. By the old gods and the new... That actually sent shivers down my spine.

I normally manage to keep some modicum of detachment from the stories and AARs I read, but I've made up my mind: Hugh Hammer must die, preferably slowly and painfully, in a manner appropriately brutal and cruel to meet the measure of suffering he must surely have visited upon not just the Targaryen princelings but untold other innocents. Being dragged by tenterhooks through the limbs through a pile of smouldering embers so that he is literally barbecued alive might fit the bill.

...Moving on: With the Targaryen line practically exterminated (are there any survivors besides Rhaena?), Rhaekar has suddenly become one of the few men left living with the blood of dragons flowing through his veins, and his own sons may yet inherit royal claims of their own. That alone is going to put him in the Hammer's crosshairs whether he likes it or not. He may as well make the best of it while he still has the freedom to act.
Last edited:
That was gruesome

Reminds me of something out of Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay.

I'm not familiar with that work or the author, unfortunately.

poor girl... at least Adrian is a good septon... he has his flaws... but a good man indeed

He's like if someone combined Maester Dermot with Amelia Badelia. In a weird sort of way.

Andrian is a good man. Unlucky, in several ways, but good.

This truly is Game of Thrones though.

It's not Game of Thrones without some horrific event killing off a good number of the cast. :D

Yeah, this is a very press Rhaena's claims to the throne and suddenly become the second most powerful person in the Seven Kingdoms like situation.

You shall soon find out what happens.

When I was reading the first part I was thinking, oh, a fun chapter, then I kept on reading and became suddenly depressed and intrigued at what will happen next. It's a doozy.

That makes two of us. By the old gods and the new... That actually sent shivers down my spine.

I normally manage to keep some modicum of detachment from the stories and AARs I read, but I've made up my mind: Hugh Hammer must die, preferably slowly and painfully, in a manner appropriately brutal and cruel to meet the measure of suffering he must surely have visited upon not just the Targaryen princelings but untold other innocents. Being dragged by tenterhooks through the limbs through a pile of smouldering embers so that he is literally barbecued alive might fit the bill.

...Moving on: With the Targaryen line practically exterminated (are there any survivors besides Rhaena?), Rhaekar has suddenly become one of the few men left living with the blood of dragons flowing through his veins, and his own sons may yet inherit royal claims of their own. That alone is going to put him in the Hammer's crosshairs whether he likes it or not. He may as well make the best of it while he still has the freedom to act.

I'm happy that my writing has had this sort of effect on people. :) Not that I take joy in horrifying people, of course - only that story events and characters keep people engaged with the gameplay narrative.

In regards to Targaryen survivors, Rhaena is literally the only Targaryen survivor at this point. Hugh has killed off every Targaryen besides her. Shortly after this incident I actually opened up the Targaryen family tree chart and looked it over, not only to see how each member died (so I could report it accurately here), but to see if, indeed, anyone else survived. There is only one active member listed in-game, and that's our dear Rhaena, wife of the Unicorn Prince. So, needless to say, at this point things have gone WAY off canon from the original Dance of the Dragons. Yes, Targaryens were killed in that conflict... but not to this extent.

In regards to those still alive who have "the blood of dragons" flowing in their veins, there are a few other Valyrian (even High Valyrian) houses, including House Velaryon, which is still alive and well populated. They lost one family member who was hung (as mentioned here), as well as one who was fed to Vermithor (who will be mentioned in a later chapter). Likewise, Addam Velaryon, mentioned in previous updates, is still Lord of Driftmark, and still holds a high position in Kings Landing.
I'm not familiar with that work or the author, unfortunately.
Well let me seriously recommend him and his work to you.

He helped collate the Silmarillion with Christopher Tolkein, and wrote a fantasy trilogy following that (Fionvarr Tapestry), and then starting writing these historically-inspired novels, which are technically fantasy (different world and all, with magic) but with the magic increasingly understated. Several of them are standalones (Tigana and A Song for Arbonne) and several are all set within one world - though often hundreds of years apart. His novels also tend to have a historical "theme". So Tigana is Renaissance Italy. A Song for Arbonne is the Albigensian Crusades. Lions of Al-Rassan about the Reconquista. Sailing to Sarantium and Lord of Emperors (a two-book effort) are about Justinian - with probably the best depiction of a chariot race ever in writing.
Likewise, stnylan! I looked him up after the initial mention and he seemed right up my street.

And... Targaryens are all but gone, but what about dragons? How many of those are still around?
Let me the first to say all hail Queen Rheana! Long may she reign!

Oddly the most upsetting thing to me was her sense of betrayal at her beloved dragon turning on her.

Oh, and to me, this is a job for the Faceless Men. Without the Hammer himself and his dragon, the remaining Usurpers won't be able to hold the throne.
Last edited:
Likewise, stnylan! I looked him up after the initial mention and he seemed right up my street.

And... Targaryens are all but gone, but what about dragons? How many of those are still around?

Some of the dragons are dead, others are gallivanting around somewhere as wild dragons. In all honesty I don't really pay much attention to too many of those events unless they become directly relevant. For the most part, the Targaryen dragons have become a bit like the Stark direwolves in the original canon: popping up here and there when they feel like it, or to make something a 2deep4U moment.

Let me the first to say all hail Queen Rheana! Long may she reign!

Whoa, don't go rushing out of the womb just yet, sonny.

Oddly the most upsetting thing to me was her sense of betrayal at her beloved dragon turning on her.

Oh, and to me, this is a job for the Faceless Men. Without the Hammer himself and his dragon, the remaining Usurpers won't be able to hold the throne.

That would be cool, but, IIRC, Faceless Men are pretty expensive in the mod. Plus, I got other things in store.

Chapter 11


It had been barely a year since Rhaekar last found himself in the throne room, and yet here he was, once again, standing with many other lords and ladies in the presence of the new King of the Iron Throne. The banners bearing the red, three-headed dragon of House Targaryen had been torn down from the walls of the throne room, replaced instead with the golden serpent over the scarlet field of House Hammer. Hugh Hammer himself stood tall and broad shouldered in the middle of the room, and on his head was the crown of Aegon the Conqueror. The High Septon had already blessed him, and was turning to face those present.

“All hail King Hugh of the House Hammer, first of his name, king of the Andals and the First Men, Lord of the Six Kingdoms, and Protector of the Realm.”

The words stung Rhaekar’s ears like bitter food in his mouth. He turned his head away, unable to gaze at the sight. While he could hear the words of the High Septon, and the murmurs of those around him, all his mind could focus on was the memory of his wife’s screams. Those horrible, terrible screams of agony as she saw her father, her stepmother, her sister, her cousins – all her kinsmen – either hanging from gallows or stuck atop poles. She had sobbed for much of the journey to Stokeworth, until she simply passed out in his arms. Albar and Andrian had gone with her once they acquired a wheel house, but those screams stayed with Rhaekar all the way back to King’s Landing. They echoed all the more within his head as he came across the “Dragon Forest” outside the Dragon’s Gate. Rhaenyra still hung above his head, suspended by the ropes, as he rode by.

Had Rhaenyra been a merciful queen? Rhaekar had to admit she had not always shown love for her subjects when it would have been more prudent to do so – the episode with the Bar Emmon boy especially came to mind. Some said she was trying to prevent the rebellion of the Lannisters, Fossaways, and Hightowers from spreading to other parts of the realm. Some said she was teaching those who wished to imitate the disloyalty of Hugh Hammer a lesson. Was this the case? If so, did this permit Hugh Hammer the right to commit such murder against House Targaryen? Maelor, the son of Aegon the Usurper… he had not even begun his schooling when Hugh ordered him hung. Not even Rhaenyra had shown such cruelty to the Usurper’s line. With such a man as this, who would be spared? Was anyone safe within the six kingdoms with this man sitting upon the highest authority in the land?

It was not to end this way, Rhaekar thought.

His mind went back to that moment on the cliffs of Duskendale, watching the approaching storm with Albar. The Unicorn Prince hadn’t raised his banners to join Rhaenyra’s cause only to see her hung like a common thief outside King’s Landing. Had he fought and served for the Iron Throne only to see it taken by a usurper with a lust for blood and power? Part of him felt like he should have fought harder outside King’s Landing, when they faced the Hammer’s host, but the other part of him knew that the battle was decided by forces far beyond his control. Everything had been going so well: Aegon and Rhaenyra were there with their dragons; their levies outnumbered the enemy two-to-one – and then four-to-one when further reinforcements from the west came. Then Aegon and Rhaenyra had been defeated in battle by Hugh and Vermithor, and suddenly everything turned around. The ranks of the loyalist soldiers melted away to both enemy assault and fire. The Dance of the Dragons had begun as a conflict within House Targaryen, and had ended with a usurper on the throne, and the near destruction of the entire House Targaryen.

The House of Targaryen had nearly been obliterated. All were dead… except, of course, for his wife.

When the coronation was done, the attendants were dismissed, to do whatever they desired before the feast was to commence. There was expected to be a sixty course meal, which would make it much more impressive than the feast Rhaenyra had held after her own coronation. Rhaekar did not intend to eat too much – perhaps just enough to enjoy the liquor and not feel nauseous. Every time he thought of food, he was reminded of the half-eaten corpses hanging outside the Dragon’s Gate, and immediately lost his appetite. Therefore, he decided to leave the throne room for now and head to the godswood where he would most likely have some privacy.

“Good to see your dragon arse alive and well.”

Rhaekar paused in mid-step. The voice had come from his side. Even before turning around, he recognized the voice – his old friend Lord Alliser Langward. He turned, and saw the older man standing there in the same armor he had gone in battle with. It didn’t even look clean: mud was still dry on his boots, with traces of it running up his greaves. Rhaekar grinned. “Good to see Langward Hall will not have to change its name. Well met, Lord Alliser.”

Alliser grinned, then looked down. “Your wife is well?”

“As well as she can be.” Given the circumstances, Rhaekar wished to add, though he held his tongue.

Alliser nodded. His lips pursed and relaxed a few times, as if there was something he wanted to say. Finally he brought his lips into his mouth, then said, “I am happy to hear it. See you in the ballroom when we stuff our faces. Maybe even in the privy, when we shite ourselves raw.” With that, he turned and stepped away.

“Lord Rhaekar.”

Now a voice from behind. Rhaekar turned around, and saw Arryk Cargyll, the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, standing there. His armor was obviously freshly polished that morning, for it shone in the light peering through the windows in a majestic, near mirror-like state. It was a strong contrast to what had just been seen with Lord Alliser. When the Unicorn Prince made visual contact with him, Arryk bowed low. “His majesty wishes to have a private word with you.”


This cannot lead to anything good, Rhaekar thought. Nonetheless, he forced a smile. “I am at his majesty’s beck and call. Tell me where he is.”

“He is behind the throne, my lord.” Arryk took a step back, then bowed low again.

Hiding behind his power, came words in Rhaekar’s mind. It seemed quite fitting, given how Hugh Hammer had come to power. He gave the Lord Commander a courteous nod, then stepped past him to head towards the Iron Throne. Already most of the coronation attendants were leaving, and only a few stayed behind. Even then, most of those were heading towards the door, pausing only to have a chat, or to discuss rumors and recent events elsewhere. Rhaekar bypassed everyone, and moved around the Iron Throne. He found the Hammer standing there, on the dais, looking at a sword he held in his hand. The steel glimmered brightly – almost magically – in the sunlight from the windows. Rhaekar paused momentarily upon catching sight of him: up close, the Hammer posed an impressive figure, being so tall and so muscular. One almost forgot about it looking at him from a distance, but up close like this, it became all the more obvious. The Hammer might as well have been fifty feet tall, for that was how minuscule Rhaekar felt at this very moment.

Hugh turned and saw him. He curled his lips across his face. “Unicorn Prince. There you are.”


“Lord Arryk sent for me,” Rhaekar said.

“Good, good. I knew he would.” Hugh turned his sword around and slipped it back into the sheath. It made a loud rubbing nose as the metal went in. “I am happy to see you came to the coronation. How does the crown look on me?”

Rhaekar forced another smile. “Marvelous, my lord.”

“It does, does it not? But let me cut through all the talk. You performed well in the war, and many speak highly of you. Even my wife Nettles speaks well of you.” Rhaekar was taken aback he did not refer to her as “the queen,” since she was such now, but he left it alone. “I wish to offer you the position of commander again. Do you want it?”

“Yes, your majesty. Though I am amazed, with your capability, that you need a commander at all.”

Hugh chuckled at that. “Indeed, I seem to have proven myself, have I not? Can you believe everyone thought I was done for? Idiots! Curse them all! I will see them all hang!”

“It seems many have already.” Rhaekar realized then he had said it a bit more accusingly than he meant to. His already pale face turned an even lighter hue as he awaited the Hammer’s response.

Instead of being upset, the Hammer just smiled. Two rows of teeth were on full display. “The Dragon Forest. That is what you are referring to, are you not? The Dragon Forest. Many have asked about it. Many did not wish for me to do it. Queen Maegor’s council did not want me to do it, of course – but the Iron Throne is ruled by cruelty, not by love. Surely you understand that?”

All too well, Rhaekar thought. He remembered the conversation he had held with Andrian quite some time ago, shortly before the siege of King’s Landing. He had said the cruelest or harshest rulers were often necessary during the cruelest and harshest times of a nation’s history. Nonetheless, what Hugh had done had gone well beyond limits. Even Rhaenyra had not been this cruel. Aegon the Usurper had been merely gelded; he was still permitted to serve the court, let alone live. His family had been permitted to exist as well. She was the sort of leadership that Westeros could have permitted – instead, she had been overthrown, and treated like a dog carcass hung in a butcher’s shop.

Sensing Rhaekar’s uneasiness, the Hammer smiled even wider. A chuckle left his throat. “Do you know what gave that dragon slut legitimacy to take the throne? It was not her father’s desires. If the king had nominated some scullery maid to be crowned after his death, do you think the people would go along with it? If she was cheated, do you think the scullery maid could raise banners and fly about on a giant lizard to kill all who oppose her? Of course not. She would have been tossed aside. But Rhaenyra… Rhaenyra was different. Rhaenyra had dragons, and with dragons she conquered. What equal right do I have to the throne? A dragon. A dragon that proved itself better than all the rest. With a dragon, I took what I wanted. It destroyed all other dragons that opposed it. As did its rider. As did its rider...”

Rhaekar forced a smile for the third time that day. “Very good, your majesty.”

The Hammer raised an eyebrow. “Do you doubt me, Unicorn? You saw me at King’s Landing twice, and how I handled myself. You saw how Vermithor destroyed my enemies. With my dragon and my skill I took down Aegon the Usurper – twice! With my dragon I took down his slut Heleana, and then I took down his kinswoman Rhaenyra. All who opposed me were tossed to the ground! It was I who took King’s Landing for the queen, and then I went and took it for myself. Now I have made certain there will not be any threat to my reign. All Targaryens have been taken care of. All those with claims to this throne have been dealt with. All except...” Hugh lifted his chin, gazing at Rhaekar. The Valyrian turned his eyes away, staring at the stone of the floor. Hugh laughed again. “All except… your wife.”

Rhaekar’s eyes remained on the floor. “Yes, your majesty.”

Hugh chuckled still. “Do you love her?”

“As much as any lord loves his lady, your majesty.”

“But do you love her?”

“Your majesty, we are not lovers to some day be found in the annals of song, but neither do we despise one another.”

“I see.” Hugh reached up with one of his immense hands and began to stroke his chin. “I understand that she has a dragon on the way, already prepared to be born.”

Rhaekar nodded, but kept his gaze still averted. “Yes, your majesty. She was given another egg some time ago as a gift, after her last dragon disappeared.”

“Oh no,” said the Hammer. That teeth-bearing smile was still on his face. “I mean the child in her belly.”

In an instant, the blood in Rhaekar’s veins went dead cold. He lifted his hand up towards the hilt of his sword. The palm stopped a few inches from it. His fingers curled into a fist, opened, then curled again. After a moment’s hesitation, he lowered his hand back down to his side.

“I would like to make you commander, Unicorn,” Hugh said. He turned and walked over to the Iron Throne. Rhaekar shifted his violet eyes, and saw the exposed part of Hugh’s neck, just above the collar of his chest piece. The lord’s feet were on the verge of moving to spring towards it, but he kept them firmly planted. Hugh turned and plopped himself down onto the throne, then leaned back. He brought his hands together, pressing them together at the knuckles. “I will send you away to take care of that Hightower rebellion. Once that is done, if you are willing, I will make you my marshal. My marshal, Unicorn. The commander of all armies in the realm. How does that sound to your ears?”

Rhaekar’s lips twitched, then curled on one side into a smile. “It sounds delightful, your majesty. I would be honored to take the position.”

“It will be yours… but first, you must think about where your loyalties lie.” Hugh smirked again. “Especially if it is towards the throne, or to your blood.”

“What do you mean?”

“Do you think I will go into specifics now?” Hugh asked. He snarled at that. “Summon your wife and have her brought here, so that I may be hosts to all of you. If you do this, then I will know where your loyalties lie. You must ask yourself whether they lie with the Dragon, or with the Hammer.”

One of Rhaekar’s violet eyes twitched. “I will think on it, your majesty.”

“Good. Now go. The feast will begin shortly.”

Rhaekar bowed low. He stood up, turned sharply, and headed towards the door.

“Oh, and Unicorn?”

Rhaekar paused at the door and turned again to face the Iron Throne.

Hugh’s smile turned into a large grin, two sets of teeth on display. The canines seemed especially sharper than normal. “Do not forget that unicorns hang and feed carrion just as well as dragons.”

Rhaekar stood up tall. A unicorn may look majestic... He opened his mouth to speak his motto, then stopped. He kept the rest to himself. ...but it still has a horn. Instead, he said aloud, “A good reality to ponder, your majesty. I will see you at the feast.” He bowed again, then left.

As he made his way down the lonely halls outside the throne room, towards the Queen’s Ballroom, Rhaekar’s mind raced with all the things that had just happened. The king, he now knew, had his eyes set on Rhaena. He had managed to kill off every member of House Targaryen… except Rhaena. She was the sole surviving member of Aegon the Conqueror's line. If she could be killed off, then the line would be forgotten forever. Furthermore, he would not spare their child. The child… she was so close to pregnancy now. Rhaena said she had been praying for a daughter, while Andrian swore it would be a son, and Albar repeated over and over again that such guessing games were a waste of precious time and air. Either way, that was Rhaekar’s heir in her belly. Now the Hammer had his sights fixed on them, and was ready to bash in their skull as soon as they were out.

“Lord Rhaekar.”

Rhaekar paused and turned. Out from another hallway came the master of shadows himself: Larys Strong, the Lord of Harrenhal. He grinned at Rhaekar. “May I join you on your way?”


Rhaekar lowered his gaze. As the lord stepped towards him, a loud, steady thunk-thunk-thunk followed his footsteps. One of his feet bore a large, thick boot. Rhaekar lifted his gaze back to Larys “Do you have something you wish to discuss?”

“Nonsense. I simply wish to accompany you to the feast. If we begin to discuss anything, well, who is to fault us for chatting like any two men might chat?”

He is lying to me, Rhaekar immediately thought. Still, given the conversation he had just had with the king, he felt much safer with company than being alone. How ironic that his feeling of safety came with the sovereign of all spies and agents across the six kingdoms? “Yes, you may join me. I could use some good conversation.”

Larys went beside Rhaekar, and continued the trek towards the Queen’s Ballroom with him. Given his foot, it was slow-going. “It is good to see you well. Lord Alliser Langward was asking about you before you returned.”

“I met him in the throne room. It was good to see him alive and well – I did not see him since the battle.”

“There are many who are lucky to be alive.” He glanced over his shoulder, then turned his face forward again. He spoke in a lower tone. “Including those on the small council.”

“Has Hugh threatened you?”

“Not me, no. He knows he could not. I know far too much about far too many people, and hence I am owed favors across the land. If my life ever came under threat, I know what strings to pull. Some others are not so lucky. I am certain you saw what happened to Lord Daemon?”

Rhaekar frowned. “Unfortunately.”

“It was not I who consented to the order, if you are curious about that,” Larys continued. “King Hugh gave the order unilaterally – and shortly after he had killed off the head of the gold cloaks and replaced him with one of his own.” Larys shook his head. “So much death these past few weeks. Hugh has dubbed Rhaenyra ‘Maegor with Teats,’ yet he is turning into more like Maegor than anyone I know.”

Rhaekar was not aware how extensively Hugh’s cruelty had extended beyond the House Targaryen. Now he truly wondered just why history had chosen to remove Rhaenyra from the Iron Throne. He recalled once lamenting her cruelty to House Bar Emmon – that action paled in comparison with what actions Hugh was committing within only a few weeks of rule. “It is unfortunate, yes.”

Larys turned his face to Rhaekar’s own. “I hope your wife is well?”

“Yes… under the circumstances. She knows what happened to her family. In fact, she saw their corpses as we were leaving the city.”

“Oh, I am most sorry,” Larys said, in a tone that suggested he was already aware of that. The thunking under his cloak seemed to grow louder, so that Rhaekar could barely hear him as he spoke low. “I do not suppose the king has mentioned his… dislike for your wife?”

Was this where he was steering our conversation? “Yes. If I may be blunt, I believe he intends to have her killed.”

The thunk sounds continued to vibrate off the walls of the hallway. “Yes, he spoke with me about it...”

Rhaekar froze in place. He snapped his eyes to Larys. “He what?

Larys grinned. “He spoke to me about it. As soon as she’s within the walls of the city, he intends to have her arrested, quartered, and murdered. If your child is not born by then, he will tear it from her belly and have it hang by the chord from her dangling body. If your child is already born, he intends to have it impaled alive by our best torturer. He wishes to hear it screaming for hours.”

Rhaekar suddenly realized just how hot it was under his clothes. His flesh felt like it was burning. His hand gripped the hilt of his sword, and for a split second he imagined Hugh’s mangled corpse propped against the Iron Throne, the various sword points splitting his body apart.

“Calm,” came a soft voice from Larys. “Calm.”

Rhaekar let go of his sword hilt. He looked away.

“This will not be the only end of his cruelty. I fear he may be far crueler in the future.” Larys leaned forward. “Lord Rhaekar… are you aware who might take over should…” Larys looked away, considering his words a moment. “...anything unfortunate happen to King Hugh, as a result of his cruelty?”

Rhaekar shook his head. It still felt like fire was raging under his tunic.

Larys smiled more. “Why, you would become Lord Protector.”

Rhaekar stopped in mid-step. “What?”

Larys motioned for him to continue walking, and Rhaekar listened. The thumping continued. “Yes. That is how the succession law is to be carried out. Hugh has no heir, and I have a feeling Nettles is not sharing her bed with him very often these days. She thinks much higher of you than him. As do many people, because of your duty and martial ability. Should anything happen to King Hugh, you would become Lord Protector, and be expected to see that a proper heir comes to the throne. A council will have to be called, of course, and you will be overseeing it.”

Rhaekar sighed. “A lot of good that does my wife and heir at this moment.”

“Ah, but I was jumping ahead of myself.” Larys sniffed a moment, then began to step with his larger boot much harder. “You see, there are many who believe something… unfortunate might happen to King Hugh very soon.”

Rhaekar glanced Larys’s way again. “What are you implying?”

Larys gave a half-smile. “What am I implying? Lord Rhaekar, you have seen how ungracious his majesty can be. He has wiped out all of House Targaryen save your wife. He has wicked intentions for your wife and child. Who knows how many more wives and children he intends to kill off? Who knows how many more lords he will anger during his reign? If we believe the Dance of the Dragons was a violent war, we shall soon see blood the likes of which would make Maegor look like a Silent Sister. My point is, there are many, many lords and ladies within Westeros who would like to see Hugh perish. As the master of shadows, I know this.”

I am certain you do, Rhaekar thought. Larys was being clever, he had to hand it to him. Rhaekar was no master of intrigue, but neither was he stupid to affairs of court. What Larys was saying any fool with eyes could see. If Larys were accused of anything stemming from this conversation, he could defend himself as having plainly stated the truth. However, given the context of their conversation, it was quite clear, and blatantly obvious, what it was precisely that he was suggesting to the Unicorn Prince. “What do you wish me to do about this?”

“Well, Lord Rhaekar, you can think on that, and perhaps later on,” Larys adjusted his cloak, “you can tell me whether or not you wish to see King Hugh perish as well.”

With that, Larys suddenly picked up speed, and continued on towards the doors of the Queen’s Ballroom. He moved as if his large boot didn’t impede his movements at all.

Later that night, long after the feast, Rhaekar received a letter from the Maester’s Tower. A raven had arrived from Duskendale, addressed to Rhaekar, and coming from Maester Albar. It said that Rhaena had given birth: she had borne him a daughter. Albar reported that Rhaena and the baby were doing perfectly fine, and should both be in good health by the time he returned.

Rhaekar sighed. When I return. When would that be? With the uprising from the Hightowers, and the possibility of more chaos coming to the Six Kingdoms due to Hugh Hammer’s treachery, when would Rhaekar find peace? All he wanted was to return home and see his baby daughter. She was his heir – he had received a female heir. Boy or girl, it mattered not; he could not wait to return home, take her in his arms, and introduce himself as her lord father. After he had taken a seat by the window, he found himself thinking about it more and more. Eventually exhaustion overtook him, and he fell asleep.

As he slumbered, he had a dream. In the dream, he was standing before a bright light. Before that light was a tall pole, and hanging from that pole was a standard bearing the familiar white unicorn over scarlet field. Out of the light came a woman of middle age and yet exquisite beauty. In the woman’s hands was a small baby, naked and covered in post-birth filth. It was easy to discern that this child was a girl, with white, curling hair sprouting from her soft head. The woman smiled at Rhaekar, and held the baby high above her…

Then, all at once, the vision changed. The banner no longer bore the white unicorn over crimson, but the golden serpent over red. The woman no longer held the baby – now it was a man in a dark cloak, with a blackened face that gave the subtle appearance of a skull. Behind the figure, all the light went out, and the entire scene was clothed in dim light. The figure held the baby up higher...then brought her down.

At once, the baby was impaled right onto a stake. Blood dripped down the sharpened wood. The child scrunched her face in agony. She screamed and wailed. Her little legs kicked. Her arms and hands thrashed about. Her tongue vibrated as her piercing shrieks broke through the sky. Below her was Rhaekar, helpless. He couldn’t move, as if he was held by invisible chains. He wanted to rush and save her. He wanted to pull her off. He wanted to kill the dark figure that had done this. He could do nothing but watch his own flesh and blood die a slow death. Tears burst from his eyes and rolled down his cheeks like a hard rain that had burst from the sky. His heart ached so badly he wished to die. Her arms and legs slowed. Rhaekar wanted to lift up his hands and gouge out his own eyes. He wanted to draw his sword and stab his chest. He couldn’t move. As the child’s arms, feet, and hands still, and her scream gurgled into nothing, her father had to watch it all…

Suddenly, the entire scene went black.

A moment later, light flowed onto the area around him, as if someone had just ignited a torch. Before him, Rhaekar saw an elderly woman, decked in a cloak and bearing a lantern that gave a soft, green glow. She studied him momentarily, then held the lantern closer towards his face. She pursed her lips for just a moment, and then at last spoke. “You must choose.”

“Choose what?” Rhaekar asked.

“You must choose,” she repeated.

Her bony, gnarled hand lifted up, and pointed to her side.

When Rhaekar turned, he saw a small cloth bearing his family standard lying on the ground. The white of the unicorn, however, was stained with blood. A tiny foot stuck out from the end of the banner. Over the body, a young woman Rhaekar did not recognize sat on her knees, weeping. Her hands covered her face, and her shoulders shook as she continued to cry. One of her hands reached down and gently planted itself against the infant figure covered by the banner, and then she hunched over and pressed her crying face against it.

From the shadows nearby came a tall, broad-shouldered man, wearing the armor of a knight. He had a sword which was red hot, as if taken straight from the anvil. The man turned it around, then plucked the sword into the ground. Then came another man, shorter but just as brawny, with a plain tunic and trousers, and a dark apron down his front. This one held up a hand, and on it was a crown. Rhaekar recognized this immediately: it was the crown worn by the sovereign who sat on the Iron Throne. The man placed the crown upon the hilt of the sword, letting it dangle.

Now the old woman pointed to her other side.

When Rhaekar turned, he saw a series of stakes rising up from the ground. Hanging from each one was a square piece of cloth bearing the standard for House Darklyn. A short distance from these banners lay a large dragon egg. It was scaled, with interchanging red and white plates. It shook and wiggled as it lay there. A crack at last appeared on the surface, and spread further. Finally, something sharp and black poked out, tearing through the shell of the egg. As it tore through more of the egg, it was revealed to be a short, black horn. As the shell broke from the top downward, a small, black beast emerged, with four hooves and a long snout. The creature toppled onto the ground, weak from exertion and moist with egg fluid. After taking several deep breaths, the black beast turned itself on its belly, then began to push up on its long, skinny legs. As it did, the moisture evaporated bit by bit, and the creature grew taller in stature. At long last, Rhaekar realized that the creature was a unicorn. The horn itself, which had been used to hatch it from its shell, was rising forth from its head, growing inch by inch as the creature itself matured by the second. Once the unicorn had become fully grown, it turned and looked at the Darklyn banners. It waved its horn. As soon as it did, several of the banners were lit aflame. One banner was sent spiraling into the sky, where it disappeared in the blackness. Another one was torn from the stake and flew away, only to burst into flames like its kin.

“Choose,” whispered the old lady.

Somehow the Unicorn Prince knew that he was being asked to choose not just between two visions, but two destinies. His eyes looked between the two, not able to discern what either of them meant. He did not want to cause the Darklyns any harm, if that was what the second vision meant, but at the same time… the sight of a deceased infant’s foot sticking out from under his own banner filled him with dread and exhaustion. The initial vision, of his child being murdered under orders from the Hammer, returned to him, and refilled his being with sadness. He knew at once what he had to pick. He turned and pointed to the second vision.

The old woman lowered her head, and the lantern began to dim. The lower and lower the light fell, the more darkness swirled about the woman and the scene entire. Soon, everything was black again.

And with that, Rhaekar found himself waking up by the window, his arm leaning against it. He looked out. It was still night, the skies of King’s Landing carpeted by stars. In his tunic, he could feel his heart racing, only gradually slowing down. When things settled, Rhaekar knew what he had to do. He stood and prepared to go to Lord Larys’s quarters to talk with him.

He would not see King Hugh take any more lives. Not while the Unicorn Prince still breathed.

Last edited:
Hmmm. Is Rheakar close enough in blood to the Targaryean line to have the true Dragon Dreams? I wonder.

In any case the Hammer must fall. If the Usurper really is dumb enough to name Rheakar marshal, that will be easier, especially if Nettles can be recruited. And might there be a dragon, or at least an egg, in Rheakar's future? Or is it perhaps a metaphor for his future children?
He has found himself right at the centre of things, and is the fulcrum. Whether he quite realises it others are starting to fashion themselves around him - I do believe this dream is the wake-up that he needs (a little ironically perhaps).