tagCelebrities & Fan FictionLegacy of the Dragon Ch. 03

Legacy of the Dragon Ch. 03

byBenjamin_Winter©

LUCAS

A comet appeared in the sky. Lucas first saw it on a clear morning, after he managed to pull himself from his wife's warm flesh and walk to the window. It was bright red, and it slashed across the otherwise pale blue heavens like fresh-spilled blood. Lucas couldn't be certain, but ... it looked a great deal like the bleeding star he had so often seen in his dreams.

Peaceful days became a rarity in the manse. Such was fatherhood, Lucas figured. And he wouldn't have changed it for anything.

Jace was a mostly mild-mannered baby. Only rarely did he cry inconsolably in that way newborns did. He began babbling three months after his birth, speaking words one could almost understand. He often grasped at anything around him, whether it be a wood-carved toy or one of Daenerys's breasts. Those rare bouts of wailing aside, Jace was nearly always smiling, and whenever Lucas saw him, he couldn't help but to smile with him.

The dragon whelps, who fatefully came to the world the same hour Jace did, were beautiful little beasts, with shining scales and golden eyes. Daenerys named two of them, the diamond dragon and the sapphire dragon, but asked for Lucas to name the third, the ruby dragon, as she had always dreamt of Lucas astride him. Daenerys named the diamond she-dragon Dreamwing, from how often she had dreamt of her, as well as the brilliant, dreamlike colors of her milky scales and violet wings. The sapphire dragon she named Skyshark, from how she had foreseen that he would love soaring the seas. As for the ruby dragon, Daenerys had told Lucas that she foresaw him as the biggest and mightiest of the brood. Lucas knew immediately what he would call him. He named him Rhaegon, because his ruby scales called to mind Daenerys's eldest brother Rhaegar and how his armor had rubies embedded into its breastplate, something that Lucas had marveled at as a young boy whenever he saw him wearing it. Rhaegon would be Rhaegar's vengeance.

When Lucas began training the dragons, Daenerys made the suggestion to train them in High Valyrian, using an old book of the ancient language shelved in Lucas's study. Lucas agreed. There was no more fitting a tongue to train them in. Dragons were not slaves, and nor were they pets, but they could be taught. If the legends were to be believed, only a Valyrian or their descendants, those with the dragon blood, could bond with or command a dragon. Lucas and Daenerys both carried that blood.

Following Jace's birth and the dragons' hatchings, quiet moments did not come often. A baby's squalling often rang out through the walls, as did the screeches of dragons. One often heralded the other. Whenever Jace squalled, the whelps would often screech and cry out with him, as though calling out for his aid. As for other troubles, more than once embers of dragonfire had set ablaze a piece of furniture or a rug, at which times Lucas was grateful that the manse was built of stone and not wood. The occasional moments of peace and quiet were valuable, and Lucas used them well. Whenever Jace and the whelps both napped, Lucas would either grab Daenerys's hand and take her to their bedchamber, or he would spend some alone time in his study.

In those hours in his study, Lucas worked tirelessly. There was much to do. He didn't read often, not like he had before. The time for that had passed. Now was the time for preparations. Plans needed to be made. When they were grown and mighty, Rhaegon, Dreamwing, and Skyshark would see Lucas and Daenerys returned to Westeros, but they wouldn't be able to do it alone. Lucas needed an army, he needed ships, and he needed allies. Lucas would not stumble upon those resources, nor did he have the coin anymore to simply purchase them. He would have to acquire them by other means. How exactly, he wasn't yet sure.

A letter came one day, penned by Lord Varys, the Master of Spies in King's Landing, who Lucas was still not sure whether he was loyal to their cause or simply playing every side he could. The letter bore bittersweet news. Varys's little birds had learned that Viserys was found dead in a field between Braavos and Pentos. He was alongside scores of other corpses. Varys speculated in the letter as to how and why he had been killed, but in the end, it didn't matter. When Lucas had told everyone the news in the parlor, the others all looked to Daenerys, who held Jace in her arms. Daenerys put on a brave face in front of the others in a show of strength, but later that night, in the privacy of their bedchamber, she wept into Lucas's shoulder. She had never stopped loving her brother. Viserys was a truly cruel creature, and he didn't deserve his sister's love, but he had it, to the very end.

There was gravity to Viserys's death. Before, Lucas's and Daenerys's claim to the Iron Throne was strong only in his absence. Now, in his death, it was absolute. By all rights and all laws of the land, Westeros was theirs. It would only be a matter of time now. Lucas was certain of that.

But then, a few months after Jace's birth, Lucas realized something alarming. The dragons' growths had halted.

Like the last living dragons two hundred years ago, who had remained caged or cooped up in dragon pits and never grew to the size of the majestic dragons of millennia ago, Rhaegon, Dreamwing, and Skyshark were stunted by their confinement. They grew only to the size of small hounds, weighing a little under two stone. Lucas realized with dread that they would not grow another inch if they were not free to roam. But he simply couldn't allow that. They were too young, too helpless. If they were allowed to roam Volantis, they would've been killed in fear or captured as exotic pets. But if he didn't free them, they would never become the great beasts they needed to be. Lucas remained unsure of what to do for weeks ... till events forced his hand.

Those events came on a calm morning. Silent, for once. Last Lucas saw of them, the dragon whelps were all curled into glittering, scaly balls alongside Daenerys on the couch in their bedchamber. Jace was with them, nursing at Daenerys's breast. Tobas was attending her. Clare and Elayna were in the kitchen, preparing lunch. Ser Barristan was standing guard in front of the manse. Colton was out.

Lucas stood in the parlor, before the room's tall, middlemost window. He wore his typical attire: a dark doublet, linen trousers, and his bejeweled sword. He held his hands behind him, at his waist. The rising sun bathed him in its warm light and cast his long, slender shadow far behind him. He stood there for some time, gazing at the Summer Sea, watching ships dock in Volantis's ports. It was a frequent ritual of his. He liked the sight of seafarers, of ships and sails, decks and docks. He liked the sight of seas too, of their crashing waves and glittering waters. Lucas had spent all his life in port cities, and he was glad that hadn't changed. As much as Lucas disliked Volantis, their slavery and savagery, he was at least grateful that his father had decided to transplant them to a city by a sea, rather than a landlocked one.

Lucas heard steel and mail clink behind him. He did not need to look over his shoulder to know who it was. It was Ser Barristan, standing in the nearby doorway. He wore one of the three full suits of armor that Lucas had paid a local smith to produce. He wore the largest of them. As a Kingsguard knight, Ser Barristan wore his armor at nearly all times, save only for when he slept, and even then it was nearby and ready to be equipped at a moment's notice. The suit was fashioned of shining, silvery steel, complete with a greathelm, gorget, pauldrons, rerebraces, gauntlets, greaves, basset, sabatons, and a silken, teal-colored cloak that cascaded smoothly over his shoulders and down his back. At Lucas's request, the smith who crafted the armor fashioned the gorget, rerebraces, and basset like the scales of a dragon, much like the other Kingsguard knights in Westeros. But the teal color of Ser Barristan's cloak differentiated him from those false counterparts, who wore cloaks of white. The only piece of armor Ser Barristan did not often wear was his greathelm, which usually dangled from his belt, ready to be donned in an instant.

"Your Grace," Ser Barristan said. "I wish to speak with you, if I may."

"What of?" Lucas asked coolly, not having moved an inch.

"I have an apology."

"Another?" Lucas asked. He still remembered Ser Barristan's fervent apology from when he first came to them, when he expressed his shame of failing Daenerys's family and then swearing his sword to those that replaced them. Though Lucas respected Ser Barristan, and even trusted him, his opinion of the old knight would always be slightly soured for those mistakes.

"Another," Ser Barristan said.

Lucas turned around and faced the knight. He unfurled his hands from behind his waist and gestured to a small table nearby. "Sit," he commanded. When the knight promptly obeyed, Lucas sat opposite from him. "What is it you wish to apologize for?" Lucas asked.

"When King Robert—"

"—The Usurper," Lucas corrected Ser Barristan, leering at him.

Ser Barristan nodded. "When he died to that boar and Joffrey blamed me for it, when they tried to strip me of my knighthood ... I wasn't sure what I ought to do, or where I ought to go. I'd heard rumors of Princess Daenerys being here in Essos, and a part of me wanted to serve her, if I could ... but so too did a part of me fear that she carried the taint."

Lucas cocked an eyebrow. He hadn't a clue what the old knight was talking about. "What 'taint?'" he asked.

"The taint of madness," Ser Barristan said gravely. "It's in the Targaryen bloodline. I'm not the sort to quote history, Your Grace. I'm a man of swords, not books. But every man in the Seven Kingdoms knows the Targaryen blood suffers a taint. The Mad King made sure they know it now more than ever. Many years ago, King Jahaerys told me, 'every time a new Targaryen is born, the gods toss the coin in the air and the world holds its breath to see how it will land.' He said that of his own family."

Lucas shook his head, bristling with disgust. "Nonsense," he said. "There is no 'taint,' Ser Barristan. Westeros has had cruel kings and unworthy kings, but there's only ever been one Mad King. And Daenerys is nothing like her father. I would know. My father was King Aerys's Master of Ships, as you remember. I met Aerys many times alongside him. I saw the man's madness with my own eyes. Ser Barristan, Aerys's madness was his and his only. Even Viserys wasn't the madman he was."

"I remember your father well," Ser Barristan mused, nodding again. "He was a wise man. An honorable man."

"And he would've said the same as I. There is no taint." Lucas sighed, letting his anger fade and his glaring gaze soften. When he had calmed, he spoke again. "I understand your concern, Ser. I wasn't taught to be a man of blind loyalty. My father wasn't one. His loyalty was to the realm. He wanted Aerys to abdicate to Rhaegar." Lucas paused. He considered telling the knight something that he had never told anyone, and then decided that he would. Now was as good a time as any. "When I arranged to meet Viserys, I was considering swearing fealty to him and serving him. He was a Targaryen, he was my liege. It would've been my duty. But then I saw what he was like, and I saw how fearful Daenerys was because of him. So I made my decision. I took Daenerys from him and never looked back."

"You have your father's mind, Your Grace, truly," Ser Barristan said. "I see much of him within you. And ... whether the bloodline carries the taint or not ... Daenerys doesn't have it. She's a good, sweet young woman, and it's a dishonor that I ever thought otherwise."

"If you should be apologizing, it should be to her, not me."

A small smile curled along Ser Barristan's lips, with a sort of wryness Lucas didn't often see from the humble knight. "I already have. I spoke to Her Grace first."

"Ah," Lucas said softly, feeling suddenly foolish. "Very well then."

Behind Ser Barristan, Colton entered the parlor. There was an evident satisfaction in his smile. He was whistling a jolly tune. His shirt had become unbuttoned while he was out, and he hadn't bothered to fix it. He wasn't even attempting to hide his activities. He timed his return perfectly, at least.

Lucas turned his gaze back to Ser Barristan. "Leave us," he commanded him. The old knight obeyed and took his leave. As he went to the doorway, Colton passed him by and came to Lucas.

"Need something?" Colton asked.

"Yes," Lucas said, staring at him from his seat. "Sit."

Colton sat down across from Lucas, in the chair that Ser Barristan had just left vacant. He sat in it much more languidly than the knight had. He sat sideways, put an arm over the chair's backrest, and lazily examined his fingernails.

As close as they had always been, Lucas and Colton had also always been very different. Colton had a noticeably harsher wit. He had often used his words like a whip, even as a boy, lashing with biting insults anyone who displeased him. When they were young, he could break other boys into tears without laying a finger on them, though he was no stranger to fights either. Colton was more vindictive of the two, and he held grudges longer and deeper within himself. That penchant for grudges was what had sent Colton to Essos, as Lucas had learned after they reunited. For years, Colton had plotted to take revenge on the Crown and the Lannisters for Tywin Lannister giving his father the ultimatum of either being executed or taking the black with the Night's Watch at the Wall. When Colton learned that his father died during a ranging beyond the Wall, the plan to take revenge was set in stone. Then, when the War of the Five Kings broke out following the Usurper's death, as one of Robb Stark's rebelling northern armies was to meet Randyll Tarly's loyalist army on the field near Duskendale, Colton plotted to turn his family's men against Randyll's and aid Robb to victory. But Colton's uncle betrayed his plot to Randyll Tarly, and Colton was slated by Randyll for execution. Colton's younger brother Renfred then freed Colton in secret and put him on a ship sailing for Essos. But his penchant for grudges wasn't what Lucas needed to speak to him about.

Being two years older than Lucas, Colton took after girls sooner, and far more fervently. Even as a boy as young as twelve, Colton had possessed an unending desire for them. He would often trade a favor with a girl to have her kiss him on the cheek, only to then whip his head and then steal a kiss from that girl's lips. And now that unending desire had seemed to have translated into an unending lust as a man grown. For the past month, Colton had been leaving the manse nearly every day with a few silver coins, coins he did not return with. He always left around the same time, and it was always for an hour. It wasn't the expenditure that bothered Lucas. It was where he was spending it. Colton hadn't said where he went, but he didn't need to. Lucas knew.

"We need to talk," Lucas said.

Colton let out his typical laugh: a two-note chuckle beneath his breath. "I can tell," he quipped.

"You've been purchasing the services of bed slaves."

"So I have," Colton openly admitted.

"You won't be anymore."

That finally drew Colton's full attention. He looked away from his fingernails, to Lucas. "What, you're serious?" he asked. When he saw no sign of jest in Lucas's expression, he hurriedly sat straight and faced him. "Oh, come now, Lucas," he said. There was almost desperation in his voice. "We're not boys anymore. We're men grown, and men have needs. Surely your father explained that to you. What does it matter if I spend some time with whores? We weren't all so lucky to have been exiled into the arms of a gorgeous little Targaryen maiden."

"I wasn't exiled into Daenerys's arms. I was here for years before I took her from her brother."

"And you mean to claim that, in all those years, you never once took the pleasure of a whore?"

"Never," Lucas said. "Those girls aren't Westerosi whores, Colton. They're bed slaves. They work against their will. They don't wish to serve you. They do it because they have no choice."

"If I weren't using them, someone else would be," Colton argued.

"That doesn't make it right."

Exasperation colored Colton's face. He shook his head with wild disbelief. "What, are you worried that my proclivities will delegitimize you?" he asked. "Lucas, no one will remember what we do in this city. People will sing of your 'Dawn of Dragons,' not of me spending time with some slaves in Volantis. No one will care—"

"—I won't abide by it, Colton," Lucas cut him off. "If you insist on this, you'll be sleeping in the street."

That broke Colton's defiance. A short, broken sigh left his lips. His look of disbelief faltered.

"You'll be my Hand of the King soon," Lucas said, speaking more gently now, hoping to restore Colton's spirit. "The second most powerful man in Westeros. It shouldn't be hard for you to find a woman who's willing. The Colton I remember loved a challenge. He loved hunting for a girl's affection. There's no challenge in bedding a slave."

Colton put up his hands and bowed his head, surrendering. "Very well, you win," he said tiredly. "You're right. I'll not touch another slave." When he lowered his arms and raised his head, he smiled at Lucas. "You're very much your father's son, you know that? You may not have his hair or his eyes, but you're a shade of that stubborn cunt, sure as shit."

Lucas smiled with him. "I know."

Colton stood from his chair. Lucas did the same. When Colton turned around, Lucas heard clinking steel and mail, just as he had minutes earlier. But the clinking was faster this time.

As Lucas and Colton watched, Ser Barristan appeared in the doorway, clutching a disheveled man by the arm. Ser Barristan threw the man down before them. He landed on his hands and knees with a thud. "Your Grace, I found this man spying on the manse," Ser Barristan said. "He was hiding in shrubbery outside the kitchen window."

The man was dressed in rags. He had brown skin, a bald head, and a gaunt face. His eyes were wide with terror. Lucas could not be sure of his age. He could've been twenty or forty. When Lucas saw the jet-black tattoo of a coin upon the man's cheek, he knew he was a slave. All Volantis slaves bore tattoos upon their face to signify their status.

Lucas walked to the slave slowly, taking his time. He spent a moment considering what this meant, and what he ought to do. When Lucas came to stand over the slave, he leered down at him. "What did you see through the window?" Lucas asked, speaking in Bastard Valyrian, the tongue spoken in all the Free Cities. It was a tongue Lucas had practiced for years but was still not truly skilled in. Ser Barristan and Colton had a working understanding of it, but they were not as fluent in it as him.

"Nothing," the slave professed breathlessly. "I saw nothing. I swear it."

"The most he could've seen was the maids in the kitchen," Ser Barristan noted. "I don't believe he was in the shrubbery for long before I found him."

"What is your name?" Lucas asked the slave.

"Deros," he answered.

"Who is your owner?"

"Haraph Ara."

Lucas's heart sank. There was no name he had desired less to hear.

Haraph Ara was one of the Triarchs, the three men who ruled Volantis. They were selected in an election every year by Volantis's unenslaved residents who could prove their descent from Old Valyria. Haraph was the longest tenured of the three. There was no one in Volantis with more power than him. Lucas's father had to be approved by the Triarchs before he was able to purchase the manse from its previous owner. The Triarchs owed Lucas no loyalty. Beyond his coin, he was nothing to them. For one of them to suddenly send a slave to spy on him did not bode well. The Triarchs could do as they pleased with Lucas and everyone else in his household. If they learned of Lucas's dragons, they might decide that they were better owners for them, or that such dangerous creatures deserved only death. Lucas did not know the Triarchs well. He had only spoken to them a handful of times in his life. But they were slaveowners, and thus Lucas considered them capable of any cruelty.

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