The Children Of Ice And Fire

VVSIGNOFTHECROSS

Chapter 028

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Ser Arthur Dayne

It was strange being back in King’s Landing that much Arthur knew, the last time he had been in King’s Landing before this invasion had been before he had ridden of with Rhaegar to help in kidnapping Lyanna Stark. That was an action he always regretted, it was dishonourable what he had done there, he should have shoved a sword through Rhaegar’s throat than let him get away with kidnapping a Princess of the North. But he had been too wrapped up in his honour and the hurt he had felt at Elia’s refusal, and from there they had taken Lyanna and gone to Blackhaven of all places, Arthur could still remember the hateful looks his brother and sister had sent his way for the duration of Rhaegar’s stay there, they had argued so many times about what he was doing there and why he hadn’t tried to help the girl escape. Arthur had been too torn, Rhaegar was his friend and he had refused to see the madness that was enclosing in on his friend, until it was too late and all he could hear when he went to sleep at night was the screams of Lyanna Stark as Rhaegar raped her. He tried to go away, to a place where he could not see nor feel the pain and disgust that was so engulfing but it did not work, and before Rhaegar had left for the trident, Arthur had begged Rhaegar to let him come with him, if his people were going to die for this gods damned man at least let him die as well, the mad man had refused and so Arthur had been there when King’s Landing was sacked, at Blackhaven not in King’s Landing, he should have died that day.

After the anger and grief of the cousin’s war, exile in Volantis had seemed to be the only thing that he was deserving of, a good punishment for what sins he had committed, that was something both he and Oswell agreed on. Arthur buried his grief over Elia’s death and Rhaegar’s betrayal by fighting in the various wars that took place in Essos and ensuring that Viserys Targaryen, Rhaegar’s little brother grew up to be a far better man than either his father or brother, and that he would become the best king Westeros had seen since Daeron the good. Viserys Targaryen was a good lad, he was smart and charming if a bit of a rogue, the Kingsguard kept their king’s secrets and Arthur knew more than he cared to know about his king’s extracurricular activities especially in the pleasure houses in Volantis, and Lys. Still it made no matter Arthur had made sure that the king had no bastards lurking around in Volantis, ensuring that the women were paid to ensure they took moon tea and they spoke not a word about what activities they had gotten up to with the King.

The war itself had been a very conflicting time for Arthur, on the one hand he desperately wanted the king to succeed and he wanted to play a key part in that so as to make up for his failure to the Targaryens during Rhaegar’s madness, on the other hand he was scared and worried what would happen to his brother and sister and their families when Viserys came to the throne. For though he had not spoken to his siblings since the day he had left Blackhaven all those years ago he had always cared for them and made sure to keep tabs on them through the years. As such though he need not have worried overtly about them, the Marcher lords immediately declared for Viserys once he arrived and conquered the Rainwood, though Ullrick remained neutral, Viserys had wanted to punish him but had not done so as a favour for Arthur. As for the fighting, it had felt good to swing a sword once more in proper combat, to show why he was still a deadly knight and not just a simple bodyguard.

Taking King’s Landing had been a strange feeling, the Crownlords, those who had been so loyal to the Targaryens for many years had put up a fierce resistance, along with those from the Vale, fighting to allow Robb Baratheon to escape. Arthur had killed many men during that battle and afterwards had been there when the king had fumed that Robb Baratheon had escaped and yet the mad rage that Aerys would have thrown as would have Rhaegar had not come instead Viserys had simply sighed after that and begun setting things in order for the establishment of his rule. Arthur had watched with pride as his king had set about creating his court and making plans for finishing of the war and establishing complete control. And then Summerhall had fallen and things had gotten pear shaped, Lord Doran had bent the knee to Rhaegon Blackfyre and fighting had been necessary in the Riverlands.

Arthur had marched alongside his fellow Kingsguard Ser Godry Farring an obnoxious man but a good swordsman, and the 500 men from the crownlands that had been summoned by the king and they had met up with the riverlords led by Lord Raymun Darry at Harrenhal. From there had been fighting at the Streams, a blood battle that had seen Arthur kill many more men, more shadows and ghosts to add to his nightmares, and on it had gone. Swinging his sword the only thing he had been good at, and was still good at. He had killed Elbert Arryn the Lord of the Vale and had badly wounded the man’s son Robert, though he had not killed the boy, the Vale would need a strong lord in the times to come. Arthur himself had been badly wounded following the battle, he was not as young as he once had been and it took longer for wounds to heal nowadays. As such he had been in Harrenhal when he learnt of the fall of the Rock and the death of Jaime Lannister, the death troubled him, the rumours he heard about Jaime and his relationship with Cersei Lannister troubled him, Jaime to him remained that young lad who was so eager to be a true knight, it seemed that he had found his own ghosts.

Still he was back in King’s Landing now having been summoned by the king in order to attend the king’s wedding to Myrcella Lannister, a marriage that did not sit well with Arthur the girl was just that a girl, a child, barely old enough to have any sort of relationship with and yet the king’s councillors were insisting that the king wed and bed her, it would be rape and Arthur would not be able to stand by this time, his vows, his honour, his consciousness would not be able to allow it. And yet there had been other matters that had taken up much of his time before the wedding, alongside Ser Gerold and Ser Barristan he had been tasked with choosing another two knights to join the Kingsguard, Ser Oswell had died outside Summerhall, and Ser Godry had died at the Streams. So far to join them had been Ser Harrold Goodbrook but another knight they could not find.

But for now though Arthur had to go and see the king about something or the other, Viserys had not been particular when he had asked for Arthur to come and see him earlier this morning. The king looked dishevelled and as if he had not slept for a long time when Arthur entered his solar. “Sit down Ser” the king said. Once Arthur was seated, the king closed the door and then gave Arthur a glass of wine and said. “Do you know what happens in a week’s time Ser Arthur?”

Arthur was silent for moment thinking and then he said. “Your wedding to the lady Myrcella Your Grace. What of it?”

“I know what my council has told me about the necessity of this marriage, wed and bed Myrcella and I will most likely get her with child and secure the dynasty and also have the Rock in my hands. And yet I have found that I cannot stomach the thought of it all, the girl is nothing but a child, she might have flowered but she is but a girl, nothing more. I will not turn into my father or my brother and take someone who is unwilling and unsure about what it is they want into my bed. I will not do it, the dynasty be damned.” The king said heatedly.

“Then why not simply put your foot down Your Grace? You are the king, they might complain and moan but they will listen to you, if they do not then they can be dismissed. Do what you think is right Your Grace, do not fall victim to the urges that your brother and father fell urge to.” Arthur implored of the king.

The king looks at him then and says. “I would if I could, but I cannot go in the face of my advisors like that, I need to keep them on board with some of what I plan on doing before Rhaegon Blackfyre comes knocking on the gates of King’s Landing, otherwise I will face mass desertion. No, I cannot let her go, however, if someone who had access to her rooms was to let her go without anyone knowing about it then I believe that could be the solution to our quandary.”

It takes Arthur a moment to realise what the king is suggesting and once he realises he looks at the king and asks in surprise. “You want me to aid Myrcella Lannister in escaping Your Grace? But why me? Why not simply get one of the birds let her go?”

“You could not help Lyanna Stark escape from my brother all those years ago, Rhaegar had bewitched you into doing something that broke everything you stood for. I am giving you a chance to regain your honour and defend someone who needs your help the most. What are the vows of a knight? To defend the weak and innocent, do this for me Ser Arthur and you will be making up for the year you spent guarding Lyanna Stark. And your own conscious will be relieved.” The king says.

Sighing Arthur nods his head and then two days later once he has made all the arrangements, he goes to visit Lady Myrcella, she is sat reading a book by the fire, when he enters. “My lady,” Ser Arthur says bowing.

“Ser Arthur what can I do for you?” Lady Myrcella asks, calm and composed so different to how her mother would have reacted had it been her there.

“I need you to come with me my lady, and I need you not to ask any questions until we are out of the castle.” Ser Arthur says.

Lady Myrcella hesitates, and then she finally says. “Okay then, give me a moment.” Arthur averts his eyes as she gets changed into a plain pair of breeches and tunic, a smart girl for one so young.

They walk in silence for a long time and then once they leave the Red Keep, Arthur takes her to a place where he and Elia once had spent time talking in the early days of her marriage to Rhaegar, there as the king promised is a brown horse ready for riding. “Get on the horse my lady.” Ser Arthur says.

Lady Myrcella looks at him confused. “I am not sure I understand Ser, why am I getting on this horse, what purpose does it serve?”

Arthur sighs then and says. “I know you do not want to marry the King, and the king feels to horrified by the match to go through with it. I am helping you escape from King’s Landing before you can be used against the king and yourself by those who would do such things. You shall be riding with a friend of mine, Eltor,” as he says the man’s name his boyhood companion who had come to Volantis appears dressed in the same clothes as the lady. “Eltor shall see you safely to Crow’s Corner; he has a letter that will prove who you both are. You will be safe there my lady.”

With that Lady Myrcella mounts her horse, and Arthur watches as she and Eltor ride out of the enclosure and towards Crow’s Corner, for once in a long time he feels as if he has done the right thing.


Shiera Snow

Shiera Snow was not a patient person; she could never abide by the dullness of peace and serenity that had engulfed Winterfell following the ending of the first wildling rebellion. Whilst her brother Benjen had been horrified by what he had seen during the war, Shiera had revelled in it, for her it was a chance to stop pretending to be something she was not, some airheaded lady who did nothing put sew and chatter aimlessly about this lord’s son or that knight. To her that was the most boring thing imaginable and it had once caused her to storm out of the room where her mother and cousins had been sewing on more than one occasion, simply because she could understand how they could abide by doing such tasks especially when there was so much more out there for them to do and experience. She had jumped at the chance at heading south to fight in the war that was currently being waged south of the Neck, not only was it a chance to avenge her uncle Ned but it was also a chance to get rid of those god damned Targaryens who had thought to take what was not theirs. For Shiera there was nothing worse than a Targaryen, those arrogant ingrates who had thought themselves better than everyone else who had harmed her mother and harmed her adopted father, she wanted to make them pay and she was going to do just that.

Shiera knew that her mother often wanted what was best for her, but she often found that her mother’s attempts to keep her solely locked up as it were in Winterfell were more harmful for her than beneficial, she was someone who needed to be active constantly otherwise she would do or say things that would often get her into trouble or that she would regret in later on. She loved her mother fiercely though and was proud that it was Lyanna Stark who had raised her not some gods damned inbred Targaryen. She also fiercely loved her adoptive father Aemon Stark, seeing him as what a true king and man should be, proud, fierce and smart and caring. Shiera had been heart broken when she had heard of his death but she had been somewhat pleased that he had died doing what every king should do, defending their people. Of course with her adoptive father’s death her brother Benjen had become king, and though Benjen was a man grown with a wife of his own, there was some part of Shiera that did not think that he was ready to become king yet. As far as she was concerned her brother was a bit too closed minded about the different warrior cultures that he ruled over, if it was not something to do with books or history her brother did not seem to understand it, and yet she knew he could become a great king, perhaps the best king the north had ever had. As for her other siblings well Shiera had never truly been able to connect with them on any sort of serious level apart from Visenya who she loved and adored, but knew not what more to make of her.

As to the war, well for Shiera it had been everything she had expected and more. She was squiring for her grandmother Visenya Stark, a woman she respected and admired, and the one person apart from Benjen who truly understood her. Shiera had grown up admiring her grandmother, admiring just how she had managed to build up the strength of the Blackfyres in the south and in the north and had prepared her troops for the task at hand. All that hard work had paid off, in the sense that when they had landed in the south, the strength of the Reach had come to answer their call, and when they had taken the Westerlands and led the Golden Lion away from Riverrun they had won the allegiance of both the Riverlands, the Stormlands and the Vale. This had all contributed in giving them quite a formidable amount of strength with which to threaten King’s Landing and the Targaryen who sat there, her uncle Viserys Targaryen. Shiera as Visenya’s squire had fought at the battle that had seen the golden lion slain, she herself had been the one to kill the monster that was Gregor Clegane, the man was big and strong but stupid, and Shiera being quick and smart had chosen a time when the brute was injured and slowed down by the injuries, she had picked away at him and brought him down.

The campaign had experienced one minor setback at the battle of the streams, where the Targaryen forces managed to out trump the forces led by Elbert Arryn, Arryn himself had been slain by Ser Arthur Dayne and Robb Baratheon had led the remenants of the forces back to Riverrun to recuperate and to plan. Viserys Targaryen had lost one of his key pieces for the west when news had come that Myrcella Lannister had arrived at Crow’s Corner about a day before her supposed wedding to the Targaryen, it seemed that someone within the Targaryen camp was trying to undermine that pretender. That news had been greeted with much fervour and pleasure within the ranks, and Borros Reyne that old fool seemed to be most happy. As for the man they were all fighting for Rhaegon Blackfyre, well the man seemed unperturbed by anything that was thrown his way, a smart man he was, a great king he would be, as would his son Maegor Blackfyre. All the Blackfyres seemed to be very smart and capable and stable. All of which boded well for them. They had marched from the west and had arrived in Riverrun some four days ago, and plans had been made for their march on King’s Landing. Shiera would be with her grandmother in the vanguard, along with some 10,000 other men and women, whilst Rhaegon Blackfyre had command of the left, Ser Robb Reyne commanded the right and the reserve was commanded by Rhaegon’s son Maegor.

They had set out at a fast pace two days ago and King’s Landing was some four days away from what their scouts reported but that was not what Shiera was excited about, it was the fact that the army of the Targaryens had been spotted. The red dragon of House Targaryen had been seen flying high above the grounds of the Blackwater Rush. Visenya had moved their part of the army into a quick march getting ready for the battle though she had warned Shiera. “Keep your calm, and do not let your pride and anger cloud your judgement. You have done well so far Visenya do not let it all go south from here. Remember what I told you, do not let your desire for vengeance cloud what needs to be done. They will come to you for death, do not go to them for death. You are their Harbringer not the other way around. Patience is a virtue we can keep fighting but do not lose sight of the goal, do all you can to achieve it and sooner or later we shall obtain it.”

Shiera had nodded at that and now her words echoed through her head as the war horns were sounded and battle began. A crash of steel on steel, swinging her sword like a woman possessed, Shiera brought men down with a swing, a hack, and a cut. Down they fell screaming and shouting for their mothers and loved ones, Shiera moved on laughing as she did so, bringing men down, her sword bathed in red, on and on it went, hacking and slashing, bringing them down before her. She fought a man in a white cloak who seemed as big as a bull and she got a good fight from him, swinging and hacking, they gave each other a fair share of blows and bruises but Shiera’s greater speed eventually gave her the edge and she brought the white bull down with a swing, a thrust and a jab. Her sword and armour covered in blood she moved on, swinging her sword clearing a path through the men of the army, bringing down yet another member of Viserys Targaryen’s Kingsguard before she eventually came before the man himself.

Viserys Targaryen was taller than she imagined, bigger and broader, but he was still her uncle and she would kill him or be killed attempting to do so. She spurred her mount forward and brought her sword up swinging, and so began their dance. Swinging and hacking, left and right, they fought swinging and swinging and swinging, her uncle was trying not to kill her but she was trying to kill him and so she screamed. “Fight me you coward, fight me!” and that spurred him on, they exchanged blows swinging left, right and centre, swinging and swinging, until they were both bruised and battered and both of their horses were beaten and worn, arrows were flying around them screams were echoing through their heads, and still they fought. Niece and uncle died on each other’s swords, through the stomach, on the 29th day of the 12th month of the 299th year after Aegon’s Landing. Shiera’s death and Viserys’ death allowed King’s Landing to fall to the Blackfyres, Ser Gerold Hightower, Ser Arys Oakheart were also killed by Shiera Snow. Ser Barristan Selmy was killed by Visenya Blackfyre in revenge for the man’s killing of her brother Maelys the two headed. Ser Arthur Dayne was captured and the last member of Viserys Kingsguard Ser Harrold Goodbrook later died from his wounds. The Black Dragon had won, at last.

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