“Wake up, the both of you.” A gruff voice caused Daenerys to wake up from her exhausted sleep. She wasn’t exactly well-rested, but she felt better than she had before. Trying to piece things together, she looked around. There were several Dothraki standing over them, mostly men but with several women close to her. They all wore the familiar apparel fit for travel and battle. She wasn’t exactly happy to see her dead husband’s people, but she could have ended up with worse. Still, they looked grim, if not angry with her. She also saw Malazza beside her, which further dampened her mood. So the traitor had survived after all.
“What is going on?” Daenerys asked. She tried to stand, just too find her wrists bound in front of her and limiting her balance. Whoever had left them like this had also dressed them in some rough and loose-fitting clothes as well.
“We know who you are,” the man who had spoken early said sternly. “But that’s for the Khal to decide.” He gave a tiny nod to the female Dothraki who forced their captives to rise. Daenerys assumed they were dealing with her and Malazza for the Dothraki laws concerning between men and women, particularly with one who had been wed to the Great Khal.
They were all but dumped into a tent, where their leader, a big man with a braid half a meter long, sat on the ground with a frown buried in his dark beard. “We are fortunate to have found you two women,” he said in a plain and steady tone. It was clearly that of a leader (or perhaps a father) who was laying out something clearly so that it would be received seriously and followed accordingly. “We are not sure what happened. We only know that we saw a dragon’s fire in the sky, just above where we found you two unconscious. It is obvious we have someone of great importance with us.” The women were quiet, but Daenerys’ eyes lit up. She was expecting them to side with her, but was quickly disappointed.
“When Khal Drogo died, his wife was to be sent to Vaes Dothrak to serve with the Dosh Khaleen. Imagine our surprise to find our rebellious runaway on our way to the holy city. Once we have you two sorted out, we can get on with this.” Malazza was the first to catch the way he used the word “sorted.” It wasn’t a matter of coming to a decision… they actually didn’t seem to know which was which.
“Well of course I am! Now untie me!” Malazza declared quickly in Dothraki. She was raised in a affluent household, and had fortunately learned their their language in order to work with the horsemen for their slave trade. “How could you not recognize your own Khaleesi?”
The real Daenerys looked at her angrily. “What?! Do not be fooled by this imposter! She just tried to kill me!”
“YOU were trying to kill me!” Malazza snapped back, which was technically true.
“Stop your bickering!” the Khal growled, seeming more annoyed than truly angry with the women. “I hear that the Khaleesi was a beauty with skin as milk, hair as silver, and eyes of lilac.” Daenerys looked down at herself and back to Malazza. They were both bruised and dirty, tainting the idea of milky skin. Their eyes were red and swollen, with deep cuts and scratches that promised to turn into scars soon enough. They were both nearly bald after all the hair pulling and their exposure to dragon fire during their struggle. The two beautiful women were certainly left with little to brag about in their looks beyond their curves themselves.
“So tell me,” the man went on. “Is there any proof you have that proves your identity?” The women were quiet despite a tenseness. They offered a few passing bits of knowledge, though there was little that the other didn’t know or that no one else could prove. “Then it seems we’ll need to settle the matter another way. If the Great Khal’s bride hair was silver, will soon find out. I’m sure you’ll have some hair left somewhere on your bodies.” It took them a moment to realize what he meant.
“You would dare?!” Malazza interrupted. “How could you lay eyes on the widow of the Great Khal”
“I dare more than you imagine,” growled the Dothraki menacingly. Apparently, he did not take to the threat too well. He considered for a few moment and apparently decided that eternal damnation was not a prospect he’d relish. Instead, the Khal sat up from his seat and pointed firmly at them. “Wait here while I get some women. They’ll settle this.” The women shared glances, but sat patiently as he left the tent. Even Malazza wasn’t desperate enough to attack her in front of this Khal Azzo and further incriminate herself.
Of course, as soon as he had left, he heard a shrill scream. The Khal rushed back inside, finding the two women rolling on the ground together. They had their hands buried inside each other’s pants and were both shrieking like banshees. There was a mix of dark and silver pubic hair already littering the floor of his tent, sure signs that one of them had aimed to ruin his plan. By the time that Malazza had gotten her painful handful, Daenerys had reacted in kind and started tearing out her rival’s bush as well. Khal Azzo barked at them to stop, but that was all he could do in his current position. With any clear means of making the decision beyond him, he stormed off to find the Dothraki women with that much more urgency.
The two women went on ripping each other hairless in the meantime. They were too exhausted for a proper fight, but their urge to hurt their opponent had yet to diminish. Malazza continued to gouge at Daenerys’ mound with her nails, trying to ensure that she had removed all evidence of her identity to the Khal. With the hair gone, she was starting to leave bloody scratches in her skin instead. Daenerys let out cries of pain that quickly switched to those of vengeful fury. She dug her nails in just a deeply until red stained Daenerys’ claws and Malazza’s pants. Neither let go until they were suddenly forced apart by the returning Dothraki women. They were held back and inspected as the Khal awaited them outside.
One of the women returned at last. “They’ve damaged themselves too severely,” she reported grimly. “There’s no hair to be found on either of them, and we cannot determine which hairs came from which woman.”
Khal Azzo growled, more annoyed than disappointed. “And I don’t suppose that they’ll be growing any more by the time we reach the city?”
“Not with the state of their flesh right now.”
“Forget it. We’ll leave them to the mercies of the Dosh Khaleen and let them decide for themselves.
Sprawling between a great mountain and a great lake is Vaes Dothrak, the city of riders, the only city on the Dothraki Sea. The Dothraki called the mountain the “Mother of Mountains” and the lake “The Womb of the World”. The first man and woman is said to have ridden out of its crystal blue deep. However, Vaes Dothrak was anything but Dothraki. The Dothraki were no builders or smiths. Instead, they took slaves from hundreds of lands and these slaves erected various buildings according to their own origins. Outside the cities were hundreds of scattered statues depicting Gods and Goddesses of long forgotten empires and distant cities; spoils of war of various Khalassars. Amidst them towered two magnificent bronze stallions, two of the only three things in Vaes Dothrak that was actually made by Dothrakis. When Daenerys had first gazed upon it, she found it beautiful, but that felt like a long and distant dream. She had been a fair little girl when she first came to this city beside the fierce savage chieftain she called a husband. Now, she was not sure what she was. Was she their Khaleesi or their prisoner?
Her thoughts went unwillingly to her brother. It was fitting, she supposed. This was the place he died after all. She could almost see him with molten gold running down his face. Smell his skin sizzling and burning. Hear the thud as his gold covered head fell to the ground. The scream as his face melted off his head. And her brother begging her to save him just before that pot of gold was poured onto him. And then, she COULD see him, with gold trickling down his silvery hair, bringing down parts of his face.
“You could have saved me,” he said with a sad smile. “You could have saved me, but instead you watched me die.” Silently, smoke started drifting from his hair. “You killed me,” Viserys said in his strange, sad voice, “You doomed me by letting them kill me.” He began to laugh as his hair caught fire, encircling his head in a strange crown of gold and flame.
“I didn’t!” screamed Daenerys, drawing queer look from everyone around her. Viserys was suddenly gone from her sight and all that remained was Vaes Dothrak. She felt lightheaded, from both the heat and the injuries, and wondered if this is why she was seeing things. It was either that or she is going mad like so many Targaryen kings did before her. “There is madness in the King’s blood,” she remembered Ser Barristan telling her.
“It’s just the injuries,” she assured herself. Her wounds from her previous fight were far from healed. The bruises had turned into an angry shade of purple and black, the scars still hurt with every movement, her insides still throbbed every morning, and a week on horseback had done little to improve her health.
“I heard your father was mad,” whispered Malazza, passing her by and speaking so that no one else would hear her, “I had figured you would be no different.”
“Worry about yourself.” hissed Daenerys “The last man who tried to assassinate me was tied naked at the end of a galloping horse. He lasted a day before he finally died. I look forward to what they would do to you.”
“Worry about yourself,” Malazza whispered back. “From what I know of Dothraki laws, you might end up right next to me behind that horse. In fact, I think they might even reward me. I brought them you after all.”
At that point, one of the riders came over and separated them. They had taken great pain to make sure they were never alone together after that incident in the tent. Daenerys’ privates still bore the marks of that battle.
Despite her feigned calm, Daenerys Targaryen was scared. She had violated one of the few sacred laws of the Dothrakis, and their people were nothing if not superstitious. The prospect of death was not even half as horrible as this feeling of powerlessness. It was something she hadn’t felt in a very long time. Her only comfort was that her execution would probably involve so many rituals and preparations that she was likely to die of her injuries before they got to her. It would almost be poetic; the last two Targaryens snuffed out in the same place, by the same people. Not that she wanted to share a grave with her late brother; not that she is likely to get one.
Of course not. She did not want to die, and no one would force that on her. She has been at fate’s mercy for far too long to surrender to it meekly now. Not when she has finally gained some semblance of control over it. Her days of letting others decide her life is long gone. She was Daenerys Stormborn, the Mother of Dragons. “Dragons do what dragons want to do,” she said to herself, as if saying so would make it true “And they answer to neither men, Gods, or fate.”
Khal Azzo left both women with a fresh set of guards who took in turn to the Dosh Khaleen. The various women were seated around them to judge them. Azzo had sent one of his men ahead to report to them, and while Malazza and Daenerys were allowed to make their cases, they were treated with much of the same skepticism. While they were all older women, their eldest lead group in their general procedures.
“Normally this wouldn’t be much of a debate,” one of the younger women mentioned. “But even if we recognized which of them was which, no Khaleesi have ever neglected their duties for so long.”
“I don’t see the problem with waiting this out,” another proposed. “Damaged or not, they’ll grow the hair back on their heads and we’ll be able to settle it.”
“Then what do we decide when we do?” a third mentioned grimly. “Daenerys’ situation is still unheard of.”
“We end the assassin, since the only thing that the girls seem to agree on is that they were fighting to the death before we found them.”
“Let us not forget,” their eldest leader added. “There is the sacred day to come. When it passes, all crimes of the past year are forgiven.” Considering that many crimes among the Dothraki were punishable by death, many of the other sentences were dismissed after a year’s time. “If we wait for their hair to regrow, they would both be dismissable for their dire crimes.”
“Then how do we decide?” another of her peers mused. “Our ancestral traditions and laws will give us little help on this matter.”
“Perhaps they will, in their own way.” They looked to their elder as she went on. “We have a would-be assassin and a runaway who shunned our sacred laws. I say we let them fight to the death. The gods will see their favored win, so we would show no true disrespect. Should Daenerys win, her attempted killer will be dead and she will have freed herself of her crimes. Should Malazza kill her, then she has done the work of the gods for us. She’ll be allowed to leave for having delivered the same fate we likely would have for the Khalafi’s desertion.” There was little to dispute in their senior-most member’s plan, and the others had nothing better to offer. So it was that the Dosh Khaleen declared the fight to the death would be held that evening at sundown.
Given the formality implied to go with their trial by combat, the entire Dosh Khaleen attended the event under one large tent. Malazza and Daenerys were informed of the matter some hours beforehand. It gave them a short while to rest, but both made sure that they sharpened their nails before the fight. They would both be exhausted, and every minor edge would prove invaluable. Their existing injuries would make easy targets, and each hoped that their nails would open more wounds and fill them with exhausting agony.
Daenerys was lost in thought as she prepared herself for her bitter fate. Despite her rank among the Dothraki, all the kingdoms she’d conquered, and her bond with fire and dragons, she found herself powerless once again. She was left with nothing to do now but await the punishment being forced upon her. If she survived this, maybe she could get Drogon to come back here and burn all of these Dosh Khaleen into nothing but piles of charred bones.
But that thought made her sigh and slump back against the wall of her cell. As angry as she was with Malazza, she had her reasons. Daenerys had come to Malazza’s kingdom to do nothing but good, and somehow when she left it was full of violence and starvation. Even if she had her way when she got out, she wasn’t convinced that it would do any of them much good to return to the fallen kingdoms.
Of course, she wasn’t about to roll over and let Malazza win. Life among the Dosh Khaleen sounded like a dull and miserable fate to have thrust upon her for the wrong person dying at the wrong time. Why would having a dead husband make her any wiser, anyway? They were no better than she was at leadership. Being a part of the Dothraki had made her no less aware to the fact that they were all killers, thieves and slavers. Daenerys knew that if she left, she would find herself killing and conquering once again. She briefly started to believe that being forced to stay within Vaes Dothrak would be the best thing for her and the rest of the world. On the other hand, she would be serving another army of callous murders, and the world that she would be sparing was made of assassins, tyrants, slave-traders, traitors and idiots.
Her head spun as the pain and indecision caught up with her. She finally stopped filing, her bruised eyes aching from concentrating on such details. She rubbed her face and sighed through her fingers. “I can’t let myself be distracted. Dragons never look back…they face what’s head of them and never falter.” She didn’t have the time left to rest or think as pair of guards came to retrieve her. They were finally escorted into a pit filled past their ankles with horse oil. They would have normally been bound by the hair, but given the obvious problem with that, a short length of rope was bound between their wrists. Even if they had wanted to, there was no possible way for them to run from their decisive duel. “At least one good thing will come of this,” Daenerys growled, already picturing Malazza’s corpse at her feet.
All of the Dothraki’s leadership had attended to watch the sacred duel. However the tribe had framed the fight, it was far from anything religious or formal. The women went splashing through the oil straight towards each other, letting the discomfitingly warm substance freshly sting their wounds. Malazza was quick to bring her claws to bear, leaving shallow but painful marks on Daenerys’ cheek. The bald Targaryen gave a short gasp as the sensation went through her weary body, but she couldn’t afford to falter. She instead grabbed Malazza by her arm and raked her nails over her skin. The razor-like nails ripped open a wound that her assassin had just started to heal, spilling fresh blood into the horse oil. The Dothraki who watched started to shout or cheer, whether it was for one particular woman or just caught up in the jubilation of the blessed battle. The Dosh Khaleen only watched with quiet interest.
“It’s about time you died for your people,” Malazza hissed. The two of them landed several more cutting grabs and scratches, their weakened condition and damaged skin making the lacerations easy to administer. Daenerys pinched and twisted Malazza’s breast until she felt blood against her fingers. Malazza had landed another catty slash along Daenerys’ forehead. By the time the hot blood was running past her eyes, Daenerys had tired of the hit and run tactics. She charged right into Malazza, dropping the both of them into the thick mess that lined their pit. Both shouted and snarled as they rolled through the oil, their skin shining where their wounds (both old and new) hadn’t already painted them with blood.
Daenerys and Malazza were quickly covered in oil, blood and bruises even worse than before. Even those who had chosen a favorite to cheer for had lost track of which hairless and damaged woman was which. Daenerys managed to struggle her way on top of Malazza, wrapping a hand around the Harpy’s throat. Her sharpened nails dug into the skin of Malazza’s bruised neck, but Malazza punched her in the stomach and pushed back. The oil made her escape easy enough, though still painful as Daenerys’ parting claws scratched around her throat. While not deep enough to kill, they certainly bled enough that she was starting to get light headed. It took all of their focus to keep on attacking, trying to do more harm to their enemy than they were to themselves through all the fatigue and blood loss.
Malazza threw herself into Daenerys, tackling her hard enough to take her off her feet and slam her back into the wall of their fight pit. She gouged her bloody nails into the battered Targaryen’s womanhood, freshening the wounds from their struggle in the tent. While Daenerys let out a sickly howl, she drove a knee into Malazza’s chest that crushed her breasts into her ribs. Malazza’s grip weakened (whether from the air being knocked out of her or just the disturbing of her open wounds), so Daenerys delivered several more of the same into her tits. Malazza released her to retreat, but Daenerys got a hand behind her head before she could fully pull away. She yanked Malazza back towards her as she slid to one side, smashing the Harpy’s already battered face into the stone.
The particularly brutal touch got a more enthused shout from the Dothraki higher-ups. Daenerys wearily lifted and slammed Malazza into the wall again, but certainly not for their entertainment. She simply couldn’t bother to think of anything more to do to Malazza than continue with simple and direct pain. She reach around to squeeze and scratch one of her breasts, getting pathetic moans from her before the bruised and bald Malazza swung a foot up behind her. Daenerys screamed as her bloodied pussy was smashed by her opponent’s heel. Her legs went weak, hands pawing at Malazza’s back in an effort to stay upright. Malazza grabbed her by the wrist, holding her in place rather than wasting her fading energy in pursuing her. She savagely buried her teeth into Daenerys’ wrist. Daenerys was able to rip her arm free, but not before more flowing wounds were punched into her bruised flesh. She fell onto her back, squeezing her wrist as more precious lifeblood ran past her fingers. Malazza let out a cry that was both a wail of pain and scream of fury balled into one as she dove for Daenerys.
Even with her vision fading and blood running over more of her skin than not, the wounded Targaryen did not go quietly. She swung a clumsy leg up defensively before thrust it outward, happening to connect right with Malazza’s face. Her head jerked at a strange angle, blood spilling out of her nose and mouth. She fell awkwardly rather than lunged, but her momentum still landed her on top of Daenerys, who gave one last miserable whine of pain. The blood pooled beneath their pile of bodies, with low, wet breaths coming weakly from each of them. Daenerys grunted and moaned, shameless and wordless as she tried to crawl her way out from under her likely suffering opponent. A few moments later, Daenerys vaguely recognized that Malazza’s breathing had stopped.
“The one looks dead,” one of the Khaleen pointed out to the rest. “And the other looks to be not far behind her.”
Another among them shrugged callously. The main point of the trial had been to absolve them of any real control over the judgement, after all. “Then it seems their gods had no mercy for either of them. Have someone go fetch the bodies.”
“I’m surprised the bottom one’s lasted this long. Stubborn little thing,” one noted as if annoyed by Daenerys’ clinging to life.
“Such strong life force… but does she have the right bloodline.” The rest of the Dosh Khaleen looked up at their eldest in surprise. It was not only her strange words, but an uncharacteristically youthful voice had come from her lips. The aging woman thumped her staff on the ground, the torches on the walls flaring as if in response. The other Dothraki turned just before the fire sprang from the torches and into the pool of horse oil. The thick substance caught quickly, spreading the fire throughout the tent. The Dosh Khaleen were quickly ignited, screaming until their air was burned from their lungs while various other leaders and figureheads met the same terrible fate.
In the center of the pit, however, Daenerys’ wounds were visibly healing. The flames around her seemed to seal her many injuries, melting her bruises and welding the gashes shut. After several minutes, she even opened her eyes. She started at the sight of Malazza’s burning corpse on top of her, quickly shoving it off and scrambling back to her feet. She started to recall where she was, almost starting to piece things together when the elder of the Dosh Khaleen stepped forward. Daenerys watched as she at first appeared unharmed by the flames. Her flesh began to crackle and peel away like old parchment, but instead of bone and viscera, there was a young woman. It was as if she had been wearing the elder like some kind of complex costume.
This new woman with her fiery red hair smiled at Daenerys. “Good evening, Daenerys Targaryen. I am Kirvana, the head priestess of the Red Temple of Volantis. It is good to meet you face to face.” The redhead’s smile perked up a bit more at that, as if appreciating her own touch of wordplay.
Daenerys stared up at her, finding herself with many questions. “What are you doing here?” came out first.
“Merely admiring one with so pure a bloodline as yours. I can see that the prophecy was right… I just hope that you’re up to the duties that come with it.”
“Wait. What duties?” Daenerys furrowed her brow, ignoring the fire as she stepped towards the mysterious priestess. Kirvana simply raised a hand like she was lifting something, creating ropes of fire that lashed out from the roaring flames around them. They wrapped around Daenerys’ wrists and thighs, each of them pulling to suspend her in midair in the middle of the pit. Kirvana stepped up to her bound body with a thoughtful look on her face.
“Your bloodline just might be pure enough to sustain the full power of R’hollor. If what Melisandre said is correct, I think you shall make a great host for the Red God indeed.”
“What are you-?” Kirvana interrupted her question by pressing a finger to Daenerys’ forehead. She shuddered for a moment before coming back to her senses. “-talking about!?”
But Daenerys was no longer in the burning pit. A light fog drifted at random through a gray and featureless world. Even the ground she stood on seemed invisible; just more gray that stretched on into the mist. Around her, she saw vaguely familiar faces. Ones she had seen in statues and books rather than in person. They were the past Targaryen kings, frowning down at her with serious faces.
“So,” one of them said as he studied Daenerys’ naked form. “It appears he has found us.”
“What of it?” another bearded figure huffed. “I would sooner die as a king than carry on living as as servant.”
“It hardly matters now that you’re dead already,” interjected a third. Daenerys watched them grumble and debate over something she didn’t understand, letting them carry on for most of a minute before the gray sky above them shone with a radiant light. With it came an intense heat, a strange sensation for Daenerys who had just come from a pit of burning oil.
“My children!” A booming voice spoke from the center of the mass of light. “You have remained idle long enough! It is well past a time when you are needed!”
One of the kings stepped into the light, as if trying to become the center of his attention. “All these generations and you still expect us to bow? The word of the ancestors is not that of their children.”
“This is no matter of vows and honor!” the voice replied with its loud but even tone. “This is the fate of your world and all that lives in it!”
“Then it is something we can handle on our own,” the first Targaryen answered curtly. “We’ve beaten back the cold this long. Perhaps it’s growing desperate enough to stick its head out so we can lop it off.”
“Don’t be a fool,” one of his comrades snorted. “I don’t plan to serve another, but we’re still no match for one of the Others.”
“And what of the seals?” one of the other spectral men added. “Are we to ignore that they have failed as well?”
“What if she cannot withstand what is to come?” another younger-looking one mentioned.
“How are we to know without her trying? We cannot expect her to know herself if she does not know what must be done.”
Even with the spirits clearly talking about her, Daenerys was still too overwhelmed by these strange new visions to start addressing them. She was still trying to decide if she was dying or going mad. The many heads of the spirits all turned to face her (at least, sparing the glowing mass in the sky).
“What say you?” one of them finally addressed her. “Would you fight by this old thing’s will, or stand on your own against the coming winter?”
Daenerys stared back at the expecting specters before shaking her head slowly. “I’m sorry but… I have no idea what all of you are talking about. What’s happening? And what’s this thing that’s going to happen that you keep talking about? What am I supposed to do?”
“I told you she’d have questions,” one of the younger-looking Targaryen’s grumbled. An elder cleared his throat to draw attention away from him.
“It’s reasonable that some of our history and traditions would be lost over generations,” he replied in a voice so ancient Daenerys expected dust to come out with his words. “Perhaps she should be granted some insight by one that might have been present for the whole story.” He gazed up at the red light in the “sky,” which seemed to shift like a silent stormcloud.
“Exactly. No point in putting her into a pact when she doesn’t know what’s been done or what’s yet to be done.”
“Agreed!” the voice boomed. Daenerys wondered if she felt some hesitation. She doubted big booming voices had to explain their behavior very often. So it was that Daenerys learned the extensive history of her people.
“I have been called many things, R’hollor, the Lord of Light, the Red God, the one true god of this world among many pretenders. While I cannot exist in your realm, I influence and control aspects of it, granting my strength, guidance, and blessings to my followers.”
“Or as payment,” one of Daenerys’ apparent ancestors added. “The more mortals believe, the stronger they become.”
“It is only through their believers that they can share our power,” a paternal-looking man among the ghosts went on. “They relied on us to power them.”
“We are reliant on one another,” R’hollor insisted. “Mortals would have been long gone by the hands of the First Men without our aid.”
“He has a point,” a younger-looking man conceded. “Countless mortal lifetimes ago, we were faced by what were called The First Men. They followed an old and powerful god and waged war in the name of some powerful god against the Old Gods. With the risk of their believers being annihilated and themselves along with it, they created another to be more powerful. The Old Gods formed The Great Other to fight this ancient enemy. It did its job, but it began consuming everything around it and growing stronger still. They knew that we could not control it for long, so rather than spreading their power among many mortals, they only chose one. Hundreds of gods bestowed a fraction of their power to one man, and that man sealed away The Great Other.”
“The work of Bran the Builder,” another one of the ghosts mused. “And with the Great Other gone, the gods were free to prosper and worship as we pleased. Still, the realm could only hold so many followers, and that meant only so many gods.”
“R’hollor wanted it all for himself,” a thick-bodied Targaryen added. “Like a greedy and jealous beast.” The deity seemed to take no immediate offense, or just ignored the comment completely.
“Rather than convince, I decided to create. I made the Valyrian.”
“Direct creations of a god,” a muscular man said with a nod. “He’d granting them massive amounts of power so they would serve as his followers and his army. He made the dragons alongside them; beasts that only a Valyrian could control. He expected us to conquer the entire mortal world, spreading the belief in R’hollor to all. But creating so much at once was taxing. He was forced to let them act on his commands while he rested. Three-centuries he was gone, and it was plenty to do.”
“It worked,” one of the wispy figures added. “To a point.”
“We conquered much. We’d defeated Rhoynar in the South, those that worshipped the river Mother Rhoyne for her water magic. To the North, the Ghiscari Empire fell, and with them their deity the Harpy.” Daenerys tried to contain a shiver at the mention of the Harpy and her memories attached to it. “But the Valyrians had grown arrogant in their conquest. Reigning over others, they no longer heeded the Red God’s word and came to forget about him. They were faithless, worshipping none as they bowed to no god or man. He would not stand for his forgetful children.”
“After all my gifts they refused to acknowledge me as their god. They needed to be shown not to cross a god.”
“So a runaway father comes home and gets mad when you forget his name,” one of the Valyrians scoffed.
“If they were to steal my strength for their own purposes, I would reclaim it myself. I had left their kingdoms in a land filled with molten rock, so I caused fourteen of their mountains to rain fire down upon them. The land where Valyria stood became a lifeless spot of forever boiling sea beneath a sky of red.”
“Thorough, if nothing else,” one of the ghosts nodded grimly.
“While the Valyrians were wiped out, a single clan had a vision of what was to come,” added the muscular man. “The Targaryens foresaw their doom and fled the wrath of the Red God while keeping his power.”
“We had escaped to Dragonstone,” one of Daenerys’ ancestors replied. “From there, we invaded Westeros and rebuilt our dynasty. We used the power R’hollor gave us, and he never quite got over it. So we did the most annoying thing a man can do to a god.” A bearded man smirked proudly. “We converted.Just like that, we were under the protection of the Faith of the Seven. Our dead were always buried in their customs so that even their souls were kept from the red one.”
“And now the Great Other is rising once again,” another Targaryen sighed. “As it stands, we do not see a way that we can kill it with the entire forces of man.”
“But we are not about to work with the one that nearly exterminated us and came after us for not worshipping him when he did!”
“We are conquerors! We are dragons, and we bow to none!”
“Even with your coveted power, you could never stand against me. I would retake what is mine all the same,” R’hollor boomed.
“True,” a small elderly figure noted. “But we do not have to return to you. We could simply let ourselves fade from existence. You would never see your full strength ever again.”
There was the slightest hesitation as the Red God seemed to consider this. “Then you doom your world. Everything will be devoured.”
“If it comes, then at least it will be a choice,” another of the elders added.
The one closest to the Red God’s light nodded to his kin and looked up at It. “We offer you this, R’hollor; we dead return your power to you, but our one left living remains free. It shall be her choice what is done with her life.”
Daenerys simply stared ahead. It was a lot to take in, to say the least. There were so many factors rolling around in her head. She was not like most of her ancestors. While they were brown wealthy as rulers and conquerors, Daenerys had grown up hungry and suffering. She knew what the poor and the weak went through, and had always made an effort to stop it. It was why she had spent so much time and effort on Mereen and her fights against slavery; she didn’t wish that kind of needless mistreatment on anyone.
On the other hand, she recognized that she would not be simply sacrificing herself to the vengeful Red God like the rest of her bloodline. If they were giving themselves up for her choice, she would not waste it. But it was all to save the world. A world of ungrateful people like the ones who cursed and attacked her when she tried to give them their freedom. For all the good she did and tried to do, she ended up betrayed and hated. She couldn’t tell if she wanted to step up, accept the strange deity’s power and save the world, or leave the world to save itself. To let them be awful to each other down to the last of their men before an ancient entity swallowed them up. If she only made things worse, perhaps she was best leaving her old world behind completely…
She suddenly felt a warmth run through her chest. It was a deep and unsettling one, as if she’d swallowed something too hot. It passed quickly, but in its wake she felt… certain. Her pity and empathy were silenced, and she knew one thing for sure: she would live. She wasn’t going to throw her life away when it was all she had left. If she died, it certainly wouldn’t be for the rest of this dirty world of traitors and idiots. If she would save them (that is, should it be in their common interest), it would be in her own way. It would be to save a world that she herself could enjoy when it was done with.
She turned to speak to address the ethereal audience about her decision but was surprised to see another Daenerys. In fact, it wasn’t even her: just her head growing out of her shoulder. It matched her own perfectly, though her eyes were warm and compassionate.
“How could you?” the second head asked gently. “They’re acting foolish, but they’re misguided. We would do more good letting them be and letting someone else fix this. We’ve done more harm than good to anyone.”
“What are you talking about?!” the central head snapped. “All everyone else has done is make things worse and help themselves. At this point, I’m their best chance of leading them to do anything out of those squabbling lords and ladies.”
One of the ancestral spirits looked up at R’hollor. “Is this your doing, then?”
“The choice is still hers. I simply made her choices more apparent,” the formless entity explained.
“You’re so self-centered!” the new head huffed, stomping one of her feet on the invisible ground. “You don’t even care about any of them as long as you get your way! You have one taste of power and you’re already mad with it, just like everyone says!”
“I’M mad?! They tried to kill me for freeing people forced into slavery!” The other half turned her hand inward and shoved the shoulder closest to the new head. “If they’re going to be stupid and selfish, then I’m going to force them to listen to me and work together.”
The opposite hand grabbed the farther head by the hair. “There you go! Thinking you know better than a whole line of Targaryens and a bloody GOD just because people were cruel to us. If you really want to help people, then trust them. Let them be and join our family.”
“You are NOT going to feed me to a petty, immortal beam of light!” The more hostile of Daenerys’ halves pushed at the other’s face, scratching at her cheeks and face as she shrieked in surprise. While the more tenderhearted of the two, the other Daenerys still stomped on the opposite foot.
“You know, you’re right! If anyone’s going to do the right thing around here, they’ll need to be forced to do it!” The meeker of the Daenerys was still set in her ways as she shoved the other hand away and slapped the egotistical side in the face.
“Ow! Why didn’t anyone ever tell me I hit that weak when I’m whining?!” Daenerys punched the surrendering head in the mouth, making it slide further along her shoulder until her body started to stretch in either direction.
“Oof! Stop hitting yourself, you self-destructive bitch!” Daenerys returned her offensive by grabbing and twisting the opposite half’s nipple, getting a loud and piercing scream from the rival head. With her internal struggle growing more and more external, the shrieking and shouting heads scratched, pushed and pulled on anything they could get a hold of on Daenerys’ naked body that seemed to hurt the other half. All the while, they seemed to grow further apart as the fated Targaryen’s spiritual form spread and grew. It was not a graceful process, as a third leg and then a fourth started to form in between them. An extra breast appeared in the same way, which one arm swifty reached out and clawed over the newly formed orb. The other head screamed and attacked the fourth as soon as it came into view, squeezing the flesh and digging her thumb into the nipple.
“Dragons bow to no one!” one of Daenerys’ heads growled defiantly at the other.
“Then maybe they’re too stubborn to realize that sometimes they should!” With one more violent shove, the one looking to relinquish their power pushed with both hands into the other side’s chest. With a sound like a thick liquid dropping into another, she tore herself apart and stood facing another Daenerys. They both looked angry with the other, though one in a petty and defiant rage while the other like a frustrated parent. They each had a mismatched mess of scratches and marks across their bodies, and neither seemed any less eager to fight for their cause.
The more selfish Daenerys advanced with a snarl, punching the humbler of the doppelgangers squarely in the nose. She let out a sharp yelp, clutching her face and recoiling from the blow. Daenerys tried to continue her attack on herself, but the injured one stepped out of reach and kicked the first in the groin instead. The entitled Daenerys fell to her knees with a shuddering gasp, having learned the hard way that pain was felt much more intensely in this strange realm.
Seeing her twin down, the reluctant Daenerys grabbed her by the face and started gouging into her skin with her nails. The other screamed and shoved back at her as wisps of flame and ash came from her wounds instead of blood. She found herself wishing she had some dagger or weapon to fight back with, and when she next shoved her hand into her attacker’s stomach, she heard a shrill scream of agony. When the clawing Daenerys retreated, she had a deep gash in her belly that leaked more of the ethereal fire. Her victim looked down at her hand, seeing that it had taken the shape of a long knife and buried itself into her duplicate’s belly.
“That should be useful,” Daenerys noted as she rose to her feet. The other rubbed at the wound, allowing her foe to watch as the flesh and muscle crackled. It started to grow back like burning paper in reverse, reminding Daenerys briefly of the priestess who had approached her earlier.
It was a strange sensation for the both of them. While the facial scratches healed themselves rather easily, they could both feel a sense of exhaustion coursing through them. It was brief, but it lingered as a lesser version of itself. They were, after all, a part of the same spirit. Whenever on drew on their power to heal themselves, the other one would feel the burn as well.
This revelation left them both stunned long enough that they charged together, clashing bodily and tumbling to the ground. They scratched and punched until the more hot headed half found herself stuck beneath her identical nemesis. The bladed Daenerys gave a quick slice across her double’s throat, getting a sharp gasp from the top duplicate. The one who had opened the wound was already feeling the wave of exhaustion washing over her while the injured one’s eyes went wide. The amplified feeling of her throat being slit while staying alive was flooding her body with pain, but she seemed to have picked up on her opposition’s trick. She forced a large mace out of her other hand and brought it crashing down on the other’s face.
Daenerys screamed as she felt a deep crack in her skull that seemed to echo for several agonizing minutes. She felt the strange sensation of more flames leaving through several cuts in her face, but she saw the Daenerys with the slit throat staggering as if she were just as dizzied. The one with the smashed head shoved her off, leaving the two of them to heal themselves back up. Killing one another was clearly not going to work; even if they could be destroyed in this state, it felt like it would kill them both in the process. This was a duel of wills. One would have to force the other to give up on the cause that had caused them to manifest in the first place.
At least Daenerys had gained something from all her life spent around tyrants and traitors: she knew how to inflict a lot of pain. With their injuries largely fixed, they shifted their hands back to their natural state and came at each other again. The more subdued of the Daenerys (although any onlooker would not be able to tell the difference at this point) threw a punch at her double, but when it was blocked she grabbed the defending arm and twisted it around behind her back. She pulled on it as she kicked around Daenerys’ legs, tripping and sitting on her back in a simple but painful arm lock.
“I will yield to me! This is not our fight!” the higher of the Targaryen ladies commanded. “Do something right for once!” She pulled harder on the limb until she heard cracking around her back and shoulder joint, getting an agonized scream from her other self.
“I AM the only good thing in my life!” The more selfish of the two clawed at her rival’s leg, but when she couldn’t secure a solid grip she changed her free hand into an iron mallet and smashed it on Daenerys’ toes. She screamed and leapt off of her out of reflect, clutching her foot and whatever delicate little bones she had broken. Her freed opponent changed her hands back so that she could spread the other’s legs and bury her flexing claws into Daenerys’ pussy. Slashing at the tender target drew more pained screams as the amplified agony ran through her pelvis.
“I won’t let anyone walk over me! Never again!” Daenerys growled. “And I’m not letting me be the first!” The double that was being clawed kicked at her, sending slight jolts of pain through her body but practically nothing compared to what she had felt earlier. The thrashing Daenerys finally aimed a kick right into the other’s pussy, paying her back and making her lose her grip on her twat.
They both fell back holding their pussies, starting to heal them back when the humbled Daenerys rose back up. She layered her knuckles with stone and threw a massive, heavy blow into Daenerys’ breast that sent her reeling in pain. She fell to one side, just for the heavy-handed one to grab her other tit and squeeze to drag her back up. She pelted the first breast with the rocky punches, the cracking of stone connecting with ribs and her watering eyes assuring her that the more selfish Daenerys was feeling everyone one of them.
The other Daenerys focused on trying to ignore the pain pulsing in her chest so she could reach out and gouge her nails into Daenerys’ tits. It was her turn to scream as the hostile-minded doppelganger squeezed hard and dragged the sharp edges of her nails across her areola. The attack to her perky nips forced Daenerys to fall to one side sobbing with agony.
“Who’s yielding now, you spineless little hatchling!?” Daenerys shouted at her fellow projection. The teary-eyed Targaryen ignored her insult and grabbed one of the scratching hands. She pulled one of the fingers free and twisted it abruptly to one side, the crackle of her finger breaking echoing in both feeling and sound to Daenerys. She screamed and clutched her hand, writhing on the ground as the already awful pain was doubled in this spiritual realm. With wisps of flame trickling out of her mauled nipples, the other Daenerys grabbed her foe’s breasts and mounted her as she bit into both of her nipples at once, pulling her head back like a she-bitch trying to tear them off of her double.
“AUGHHH! You whore! How did I end up the only one of me with any brains!?” Daenerys howled as she thrashed in every direction. The agony had her fighting blind until she formed two of her fingers into a thin blade and jabbed it into her attacker’s tender underarm. She gasped as Daenerys wiggled the knife inside her cluster of muscles and nerves before punching her in one of her bruised tits. Daenerys fell off of her holding her bloody armpit and healing it over, sending another exhausting surge through the two of them.
“I’m already trying to kill ourself,” Daenerys warned her. “Don’t go trying to do it again.”
“I’m tired of being told what to do!” Her double grabbed her own arm and pulled at the flesh. A lengths of chain grew out of it, the other Daenerys trying to scramble back but she had already lunged. She wrapped the chain around her neck and squeezed, getting a sickly gurgle from Daenerys as she squeezed it like a punishing leash. “I don’t care if you breathe here,” she warned. “Because I sure seem to think I do. I’m going to choke the life out of me over and over until you give!”
She did seem to keep Daenerys in place there for some time. The rival Daenerys gave up on trying to untie the chain and grabbed her by the pussy, digging her nails around inside of her duplicate. It left her shuddering and screaming to go through the amplified torture of her cunt mauling, the two of them dead set on seeing their opponent forced to submit without finishing them off. They both snuck in punishing blows and scratches to the other’s tits and body while they maintained their mutually punishing position, but neither seemed willing to break.
“This is stupid! Stop being such a stubborn cow!” the chain-wielding Daenerys growled.
“I could say the same about me!” the other snapped, if more raspily with the chain around her throat. She finally grew desperate enough, flexing her fingers inside of Daenerys and forming a spiked mace. She tore her hand out in one sharp pull, leaving several rough and blood scratches on the way out. Daenerys howled in pain, just to form a studded club with her hand and bash her across the back of the head in return. They both fell apart, nursing their injuries as they landed next to each other. They breathed heavily as they started to heal from the flaming wounds, but it was growing slower. They were nearly out of power. Even looking at her opponent, the other Daenerys looked fainter, like she existed less and less. A look at her hand told her it was the same the other way around.
The women still crawled at each other, Daenerys pouncing on her foe like a wolf. She forced her onto her back before biting into her pussy, rewarded by a manic scream of agony. The other Daenerys stuck her nails into Daenerys’ thighs and returned the favor, the two of them forcing their labias apart so that they could bite directly on their clit. They gnashed their teeth in between miserable sobs as the already piercing pain was sent coursing through their weakening bodies.
“This is hopeless,” Daenerys growled. Even with her mouth full of her double’s pussy, their spiritual forms spoke perfectly clear. “What is it with me and fighting pointless battles!? I’m going to destroy us both!”
“I’d rather take myself down with me than lose to me!” Daenerys replied around her mauling mouthful. There was a strange sensation that coursed through her. Exhaustion hit her harder than ever, and she could briefly see through her opponent as she flickered out of existence.
“Listen… I’m fading fast. I am too,” Daenerys told Daenerys. She didn’t relent on her attack, but she was distracted enough to focus on talking. “What will it take for you to give up?”
“Giving up means I vanish. Nothing is fine about that!” Daenerys snarled back.
“Fine. Then if I go, I have to agree with my demands.”
Her internal enemy hesitated before easing up slightly on her bite. “What’s that?”
“I let myself vanish and you take over. But, you need to swear to take your army to Westeros and fight the Great Other. If you’re going to screw things up, it might as well be something that really deserves it.”
The other Daenerys scoffed, but she felt a strange moment of emptiness. Like she had blacked out for a second. She didn’t have much choice in terms of winning against her exact double in this identical position. “Fine. You have my word. You let me go, I save life as we know it. But you’re getting off with the better deal here!”
“If that’s what it takes…” There was a strange sensation as everything both joined together and fell apart. Daenerys’ heart and mind rearranged to house her new thoughts. The indecision was gone, but with a patchwork of her conflicting self. The promise wasn’t just that, but a deeply-rooted vow to herself. She wouldn’t even remember another Daenerys, but she held the wish to save Westeros and fight the ancient destroyer in her unconscious as if it were her own natural thought. Despite that, the colder Daenerys was in charge. She had cast aside her doubts and fears. She was going to save the world and damn anyone who disagreed with her.
“It seems your mind’s made up,” the first Targaryen observed. The red light from R’hollor swallowed the Targaryen ancestors up just before the world of spirits was gone.
The flood of thoughts and sensations finally settled, Daenerys woke up. The tent and those inside were burnt to the ground. The Dosh Khaleen were still in their seats, but they were now only blackened skeletons and charred meat. There was no sign of the priestess Kirvana, but the Dothraki had gathered around. As soon as she looked, they were already kneeling to her. Whatever she had been through was apparently quite the sight to see. She would hear later that she had been floating and writhing while engulfed in flame while the Red Priestess’ spiritual magic and her god did its work. The Dothraki were a superstitious bunch, so what appeared to be a flaming death goddess destroying everyone who had tried to have her killed felt like a rather clear sign to them that she was their new god.
“It’s about damn time,” she said, setting her expression into a stony scowl. She rose to her feet, finding all of her awful wounds and pain from earlier were gone. “Gather every able body you have. Get them ready to march at my command!”
It was a minor thing, but it puzzled her when later she pricked her hand on a the tip of a knife. The wound didn’t heal itself, even when she held it close to a flame. It seemed whatever had healed her earlier was gone. It didn’t matter right now anyway. She had things that needed to be done, and minds that needed changing.
If one would ask how to tell the Ghiscari cities apart, locals would often make the same comparison. Yunkai, the city of the “Wise Masters” had built all of its walls out of yellow bricks. It earned the nickname of the Yellow City for the obvious reasons. Likewise, Astapor of the Good Masters was named the Red City. There were stories that said that the bricks were only red from the blood of the slaves that built it rather than the color of the stone itself.
Meereen was noted by those around the world as a beautiful sight. The Great Masters had it built from bricks of every color, from their walls to their cobblestone streets. Visitors always marveled at the sight when they first set eyes on the colorful roads.
Of course, none of that mattered much longer. When Daenerys set upon them with her Dothraki, all of the streets ran red. She unleashed the raiders with little to hold them back, allowing them to burn and loot as they cut down slavers and their families in every home. Daenerys had even specified that any slave owners and their daughters were to be killed without question, though the cooperative slaves were all to be spared. “We’ll have use for them later,” Daenerys noted after halting a warrior that had his sword raised at a manservant that she had recognized from the market.
Daenerys had made a point to be there for the butchery of the highest of the masters (calling it an execution would imply any sort of trial and formal death). The most wise and puissant Yurkhaz zo Yunzak’s wailed and pleaded as he was bludgeoned to death, old bones cracking as he vainly shielded his face to the end of his life. When the most benevolent and magnificent Yezzan zo Qaggaz was sliced open clean across his titanic belly, his gore flooded down his family pyramid. The Dothraki laughed and joked about just how much blood could be in such a lump of a man. The noble Morghaz zo Zherzyn was found drinking, as usual, even as his city bled and burned. The spears rammed through his body and it seemed that as much wine spilling out of his body as there was blood.
Then there was her husband. The King of Meereen, Hizdahr Zo Loraq had negotiated peace in the region in exchange for their marriage. He had also objected to some of her less political actions and while pleasant to look at, he had been less than faithful. “If you won’t follow, then you’re a traitor,” she hissed before taking the sword from one of her unsullied and running him through.
In the end, slaves were cheering for their newfound freedom as Daenerys and her army marched past. She largely ignored them as she looked ahead with a cold but satisfied expression maintained on her face. She remained focused on her task at hand until she reached the docks, leaving the city of dead slavers as she sailed off to the west. With her ships full of Dothraki, unsullied, three different bands of sellsword companies, every freed slave who could swing a sword, and three roaring dragons flying overhead, she looked westward as if she could see Westeros from all the way across the sea.