The Great Hall was empty for a King’s funeral feast. The death of a king should have been a momentous affair, but word of the event had barely traveled, if it traveled at all, from Dragonstone. The arrival of the Volantenes had been unexpected, or perhaps, simply forgotten if word had been sent in advance. Lords and courtiers from Dragonstone and Claw Isle milled about the room. Driftmark’s house was noticeably absent from the affair. It had been organized in just a few days, and even in the midst of grief it weighed heavily on the widowed queen that it seemed none in their seven kingdoms knew of what occurred. They should have been receiving a long line of nobles to offer their condolences, prepared to offer their oaths to the next rightful king. No matter if the coronation would not take place for some time.
The hall was somber, but there was a tension that permeated it, even voices kept low reverberated as murmurs, layered on top of one another, and formed into a persistent, gruff rumble. Tyanna was not the only outsider present, and hers was not the only unexpected presence. She looked over the Volantenes, the illustrious family Rahl, and dark lips pricked up in a sneer hidden behind a goblet of wine. Nothing more than scavengers who sought to pick at the bones of a dead empire. Others in attendance had the look of diluted Valyrian blood, but she could see the play that Maegor - or Visenya more likely - had taken. The exiled prince had no time to organize something this quickly and his mother, for the brief time that Tyanna had met her, had shown herself to be a shrewd woman. She would be a problem. The widowed queen and dragon’s spawn, well perhaps Maegor would remove that threat all on his own. And if not, they would prove no trouble to her.
The Pentosi courtesan wondered if the prince had noticed that the youngest two children had been removed from the hall early on in the feast. Tyanna had watched the way the widowed queen had tried to subtly have them carried away, both children seemingly asleep, but she could see through the charade. Was the queen smarter than given credit for, or had someone tipped her off? It was a thought for later in the evening.
Her eyes moved on from the royal family, to the others in attendance. She watched for who drank too much, who ate too much, who spoke too loudly, who seemed uncomfortable. Everyone handled the job of being a courtesan differently, but for Tyanna - and many others no doubt - it was a means to an end, and they had to excel at reading their clients. She was always watching, waiting to see who could be drawn into a web and who could be trapped indirectly. Her touch was never gentle, but it could be subtle.
The night lingered on, her goblet never refilled yet never empty as she nursed the crimson wine. Few approached her, whether it was her severe expression or general apprehension towards Maegor, she could not know with any certainty. Likely both, she mused.
She was the equal and better of all who were gathered here, save her husband and his mother. Alys studied the throng that had gathered on Dragonstone for the funeral feast. King Aenys was gone, burned to ash and left to float away on the sea breeze. A fitting end to a man who always moved which ever way the wind last blew. It had been his failing, as Alys had seen it, that he had sent his brother away. The real hand at his side. The power that held the realm in awe.
Not that she dared to voice these opinions in even so much as a glance. The nieces and nephews she had gaing in marriage to Prince Maegor always seemed to look through her, to judge her for every little flaw. Perhaps she should have braided her hair, but the pull of those heavy locks made her head ache and let the wind of Balerion’s wing tangle it. She was married the mightiest of Princes, one who would be King. His son grew inside her. His heirs would be hers to nurture. It was all as it should be and those whelps of a weak King would have to learn. Unless their father weaknesses moved onto them. It would make sense, blood did tell after all. Lifting a goblet to her lips she sipped its contents. This gathering was a final farewell, and she hoped by the end of it? It would become a welcoming feast to the new King. To someone more fit than a mere boy to rule Westeros and it’s unruly, ill-kept lords.
Her eyes flickered to the woman she had brought. Her lover, her mystic. A woman who would help her bear a child into the Targaryen line. A fine and strong son so much like his father. “Grand isn’t it? All these noble lords turning out to the death of their monarch. In life they hardly dared show such solidarity." She noted, her goblet swirling the contents as her low voice contemplated the lot of lords with reproach.
Her head turned to Alys, eyes slowly moving over the woman’s face as she spoke. Tyanna offered a knowing nod in response. She needed to be careful now, in how she tugged at the webs she had laid. Her fingers drummed against the table, a discordant beat to the background thrum of guarded conversation. “Lords flock to strength, judge them but use them." It was truth enough for most women, much less the duo of a second wife and foreign whore.
The unseen marks beneath the clothing Maegor wore pulled and tugged at his nerves in a manner that was akin to pain, but for him, was fuel. The lines of his recently parted skin, barely large enough to draw blood in the act of inflicting them, strained at each other. Countless marks, each providing the tiniest spark. It kept him from being comfortable, but comfort was a trapping of fools, those who allowed themselves to be distracted. Instead he sat among family and guests as the moments passed by. With each passing second, the plan was put into action. He pondered if his mother’s agents had even already dispatched the Ravens, messages they had been instructed to send by other members of the family ignored, none but that which Visenya had willed.
His eyes swept across the room once more, settling for long moments on both Alys and Tyanna. The desire for both beat strongly, if not as much as that of the coming moments, but not enough to entirely discount the simmering fury Tyanna had provoked. Perhaps that was even why he looked to her last, but longest. The great hall of Dragonstone heaved with guests, more so than he could remember, yet their noise mattered less to him, far less, than the sharp pulls of pain on his skin, and the weight of destiny. How so many could gather to mark the passing of his brother, and not to aid the throne, or save the throne’s lost relatives, galled him. Not from care, but at the lack of power already that his family could command.
“Enough of this dance." Maegor growled, the words starting under his breath, but somehow the threat still carried, a pulse of anger and strength that rippled out from him, through the pool of nobility that was the chamber. “Such prattle, while the Kingdom burns with a fire not our own."
"I married strength." Alys replied to the woman, her eyes flicking her husband. The man was less than pleased by the throng that had shown up for his brother’s death. An understatement. But she had seen Maegor’s eyes linger a tad too long on Tyanna and did not care for it. A knot of jealousy snarled in her mind. "Use him? My dear, I know better." Using the King to be would bring his temper upon her if she admitted it. Thus she knew it would best be a careful dance of asking and desire.
Visneya’s eyes fell upon her son with a steely impression, but it was far from the reproachful look one might expect from an outburst of such. She was prepared for the moment that was finely upon them. She had already been standing, discussing matters with a member of House Velaryon, a conversation of little note, but she valued what limited dialogue she had in her mother tongue. As Maegor himself stood, the powerful frame of the Prince demanding attention even away from herself, she paced along the outside of the room, rising to stand atop the raised dias upon which the seat of Dragonstone stood, empty, surveying those who had gathered in its halls.
“When my brother’s realm turned against him you were not at his call, but now you circle his grave. Perhaps you wish to get your talons into his Son." With some force, Maegor’s hand lashed out, the untouched goblet before him jettisoned from the table, striking one of the lower tables with enough force as to dent the gold of its making. “But Dragons are only feast for carrion when we are dead, and there is life in us yet." He pushed his own chair away, the long cloak of his house draped across his shoulders as he moved the short distance to rise onto the plinth behind the high table. He feared no grave threat from those assembled that the loyal houses of Velaryon and Celtigar could not handle. Indeed, many of their number were aware of what was to come, the whispered promises of Visenya in their ears as Maegor paced to the seat of Dragonstone, his mother’s form still obscured in the darkness beside it.
“My father brought unity to Westeros, when he found you, you were ruled by a hundred mewling lords and petty kings, the Ironborn ravaged your lands, the Free Cities mocked you for your weakness." Fire burned in the violet pits that were Maegor’s eyes, the intensity of his gaze writ as much with purpose as Fury. “Those days have returned, but I will set things right, in the manner my father did. All I promise you now, is Fire and Blood." With that, the Prince knelt before the seat, and Visenya moved from the shadow, her own cloak finally cast away to reveal what she had held in her hands since arriving on the island. The Crown of the Conqueror, the red gemstones reflecting the light of the room’s fires and she raised it high above herself, before placing it down upon the brow of her son.
“All Hail His Grace, King Maegor, First of His Name, First of his Name, King of the Andals, the Rhoynar, and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, and Protector of the Realm." She spoke the words with a volume that seemed to swell from within her, not a desperate shout, but a final proclamation of an ambition that was a lifetime in the making. As she did so, there was a chorus, not just of voices, but of drawn weapons, the Men-At-Arms of Dragonstone, as well as Driftmark and Claw Isle joining their steel to her call. The tradition was to kneel, but this is what she had forged for her Son who would bring these blades upon Westeros. It helped, as well, to remind those honored guests in the room, in whose hands those swords were.
She had married strength, she had bedded strength and with the grace of gods and her husband’s virility Alys would bear strength that would sit that seat. That would wear that crown and wield the sword. That would fly a great dragon and further the Targaryen line of her King. A small smile played about her lips as she watched and pressed a hand over her womb where surely life would gather and thrive in time. “All Hail." She whispered with fierce pride and joy as she watched the men stand and draw their blades. Souting for her husband to rule and while he did? She would be a Queen. Her father would be delighted and her mother would urge for many children to come from her as there were dragons in the sky.
Let the lesser children of Aenys cry out over their father. He had been weak, unfit to rule a realm newly minted. She raised her goblet subtly and gave a sideways look to the witch she had brought across the sea. “I must carry and birth strength. We, two, shall see to this and if you fail? There are the Septas and Maesters and others would gladly seek to take a favored place at my right hand. So, we must not fail." For it would not be Tyanna herself who suffered but Alys as well. The Hightower wife had borne no child and so he had taken her. If she failed him as well? Another would fill her position, and that would do nothing to quash the whispers of ‘this whore of Halloway’.
The intruder from Pentos relished the moment for what it was, power seeking to topple power, men eager to spill blood over some pissant title, blind to what lay just beyond their vision and understanding. She watched Maegor briefly, but looked beyond him to see how the child would react. Her head cocked to her side to listen to Alys, but her eyes remained on the small boy and his mother. The widow had her son’s arm in a tight grip, her mouth pressed to his ear clearly in a fierce whisper. The courtesan wondered what passed between them, youthful eagerness to challenge his uncle no doubt. That would be blood shed too easily, but perhaps…Reckless indignation was an easy thing to manipulate.
“I will not fail you." Perhaps she had seemed distracted, but Tyanna heard Alys’s comments for what they were. She could appreciate the woman’s ambition, no matter the distaste for having to lower herself to any degree of deference. She leaned in, eyes still watching the scene unfold before them, but her lips brushing against the now-queen’s ear. “But you will need to trust me, no matter the efforts needed to succeed."
Alyssa held Viserys tightly and pulled him back. How quickly these men forgot their oaths. Aegon had made Aenys his heir. Aenys who had six hale and healthy children to carry on the blood of the dragons. But those present, her own family’s sworn swords, eagerly lifted their voices in support. “Now is not the time." Her words pressed into her son urgently as she sought out where Melyssanthi was. The girl was more stubborn was Viserys, a fire within her that Alyssa loved and loathed. She prayed that either her or Aenys had managed to instill some amount of sense as well.
She wanted to flee the room, but saw quickly enough guards even at the servants’ doors. Fear rose up her throat, acidic and sharp. Would those blades be turned on her, on the rightful heir? No, she needed time. The widowed queen swallowed her anger, her pride, her grief, and dropped to a knee. Viserys looked at his mother in dejected confusion, and at last, knelt beside her.
As her uncle spoke of the lords of Westeros Melyssanthi had to agree. She wished she had thought to say it. Lost in thought she had been quiet and subdued, unusual for a girl with as much fire as her. A small smile played about her lips but soon broke and faded as her uncle made his move.
The great Aunt that, earlier that day held Melyssanthi, seemed to apparate like a ghost of Dragonstone from the shadows behind the throne. She carried with her the instrument of the destruction of Melyssanthi's family. The crown. Which seemed to weigh more even now than when her father was newly dead.
As the gloomy day ticked by Cassiopeia looked around the room at the lords of Westeros. Her family had been placed, much to her sister's chagrin, near the "Pentosi charlatan" as her sister muttered. Which placed them near "Mad Alys", as Cassie likes to call her. There was something off about that woman. She wanted to be nearer to Prince soon to be King Viserys but she also did not want to be underfoot or appear clingy.
Seeing the subtle shift in the tension of Maegor as he spoke and knelt Pheynix laid a hand on Castor's arm discreetly. The brother and sister made eye contact. The conversation between the two was instinctual and instant. While no words were spoken both knew how to communicate silently.
Blinking Melyssanthi watched her Great Aunt crown her Uncle and heard the draw of steel ringing within the hall. The ringing turned into the roar of a dragon, then the roar of a wildfire, then the rush of blood from a heart that raced. Images of blood on the throne staining it red flashed in her mind.
Shaken by the vivid imagery and sounds, Melyssanthi paled and put a shaking hand to her brow. This place was full of fools. Fools who had broken oaths and would follow a hothead with no heirs. Fools who could not see that the small folk started their Militant uprising because of the great hothead they let be crowned. His greedy licentious polygamous ways put House Targaryen in the fix it was in. Yet no one called him on it. They let him be a bully. They let him take and take and take. Rhaena would make a much better ruler than a malcontent fool who could not keep his prick to his first wife and could not keep his pernicious grasping hands off that which did not belong to him.
Melyssanthi let herself seem ill; she would not kneel unless he wanted to start out showing off his tyrannical side. Now was not the time to undercut the fool, at least not fully. She was greatly outnumbered and would need to regroup to knock him down from his high horse. But she was leaving and no one was going to stop her. She just needed time to get to Rhaena.
The Rahl children did not even bat an eyelash as swords were drawn and voices raised for Maegor. As the room dropped to a knee or knees the Rahl family stayed seated. Maegor was not their King nor Prince. They had no reason to "bend the knee" so to speak. Bow or curtsey, yes. Kneel like subjects, no. Besides that Maegor had dishonorably jumped the line of succession, not that any of the Rahl family were in a position to debate such a thing. Far too many imbeciles with swords in the room for such level headed discussion. It would have been smarter and less debatable if he had set himself up as Regent till Viserys came of age, or rather if he came of age.
Behind the crowd of unwarranted deference, came an aged voice suddenly sure of itself.
“This is not the way of things."
Men did not part, but turned and sneered at who had been a singular voice in defiance of the farce that played out. Maester Gawen pushed himself forward, a meaningful look passed to Queen Alyssa, to the rightful King Viserys and his sister Princess Melyssanthi. The chain around his neck had seldom seemed so heavy as it did in the moment.
“A youthful prince, beloved by the people, murdered. A benevolent and just king dead within days of the tragic news. And now, his brother, exiled by the King’s own will, returned within days to usurp the throne from the rightful king. What curious timing." He spoke as he walked, his breath growing heavier with the effort to speak loudly enough for the hall to hear and, he prayed, heed, his words. “If Aegon the Conqueror wished you to rule, he would have named you heir. Cede the crown to the rightful heir, and let us shout his name to the realm. Long live King Viserys."
The old maester could feel the eyes of the room on him, but it was Maegor, monstrous in front of him, and that conniving mother behind him. He had followed the Seven faithfully enough for his many years, surely they would move the faithful and lawful to action against this.
Alys paused from her kneel at the outcry of ‘no’. It was in truth not a shout or a desperate wail as she might expect but a solid refusal. Steady as could be wished and from a Maester just as well. Her fingers twitched as she recalled the one thing that seemed so obvious with Maegor. That one simple thing that this Maester was treading upon.
One did not deny the dragon. One did not deny Maegor. Already the crown was there and the Dowager Queen had said it plain. King Maegor. Now this tottering old fool was going to seek to deny her husband, and her by extent, the crown.
For what? A child king? He was a boy and boy lords were already notorious for their lack of care for the land from what she had seen at her mother’s side. A boy king would be far worse. So this man wanted them to show weakness before all and set a boy where now a man stood? One fierce with Blackfire in his hand and with Balerion as his mount as his father before him? Her lips curved into a small smile. No, this plea from the wisened scholar would fall short. It must, for it would be insanity to accept.
“Losses brought about by weakness." When Maegor’s voice rose in response to the aged Maester, it did not bellow with anger as he had been famed in the past. It was as if a new presence had settled over him in the brief moment of his nascent Kingship. The brittle roar of flame was replaced with the cold determination of steel. “My father entertained your customs when it suited him. For the moment, they are suited to our cause no longer." The dark stone of the dias echoed the metallic tread of Targaryen as he moved from the raised platform to the channel in which the Maester stood, lingering upon the steps, giving an even greater impression of their difference in heights. “It is a shame my brother ruled with such counselors in his time, perhaps this matter with the Faith could have been addressed without spies and sympathizers in his inner circle." Maegor’s eyes did not sit on the Maester as he made this claim, instead moving around the room, an accusatory glare intended for the Westerosi lords in attendance. Much of his chagrin was shared by those sworn directly to House Targaryen, who in recent years had earned no small amount of hostility from the very same source.
“You have, at last, proven useful, Maester. Where you failed my brother as a healer and adviser, you now demonstrate to those assembled here the price of failure." Blackfyre was free in a moment, indeed, the weapon had not been sheathed, the impossibly fine edge of the blade worn free at the belt of Maegor. It was a downward motion, as if the King had moved to knight the man before him, but instead of resting on the point of his shoulder, the movement carried onwards. Valyrian steel rent through flesh and bone with little more resistance than the air. The brutality of force was at odds with the grace of the movement, such that the body itself seemed to hang in the air, unaware that its head was no longer attached. Then in the next moment the arterial spray began, and what had been the Maester slumped to the ground.
The shock of silence did not last long, before a young man of House Velaryon took up the call.
“Long Live His Grace, Long Live The King!"