Riding on horseback to the great pyramid of Meereen was slow and somewhat tedious, as the people crowded in the streets to see who was going to be brought before the Queen.
I ignored them, instead focusing on the task at hand.
My Lightning writhed within me, asking to be let out at the slightest provocation, but I clamped down on the feeling. The Red Priests were the only threat, here. Not the sellsword riding with me, not Jorah Mormont the slaver.
Certainly not the Stormborn and her three dragons, who were flying around Hestia above in fascination. Hestia was just as fascinated, it seemed. Heh, she was almost twice the size of their biggest dragon- the red and black one.
“I never could have imagined there were more dragons in this world.” The sellsword, Daario Naharis, said, chancing a look at the dragons above before focusing his attention back on his horse.
I grunted in acknowledgment.
“Strange way of seeking Her Grace out, I have to say.” He continued. “But then again, I’ve not seen any noble dressed quite like you, either…”
I smiled, and glanced at the outfit I’d been working on the past few weeks. I’d felt the need for a change and got rid of my old outfit. Most of it, anyway; I’d fixed up my old world’s black cargo pants, turning them dark blue on a whim, and fashioned a long black and dark blue coat using the leathers the Dothraki had kept. It made for quite a sturdy material, even before I’d enchanted it to be Unbreakable.
Underneath the coat, I wore a thick, dark blue leather vest over a black sleeveless shirt underneath that.
It was a look inspired by the two Devils I’d met at Temen Ni Gru- Vergil and Dante. Where they went for bright red and blue, I took the black and dark blue approach, finding it much easier on the eyes.
Still, to any of the locals of this world, I supposed the get up was outlandish.
“Says the guy in the most flamboyant outfit I’ve seen so far. Really, golden gambeson with golden women hilts for your swords, and blue hair? Compared to you, my choice in clothing is tame.” I retorted in amusement.
“True enough.” Daario turned his head and grinned. “You don’t stand on formality?”
I considered his words.
“Formality has its place and time, but too much of it is the sign of a noble so lacking in confidence in his own position that he needs his superiority to be re-affirmed with every breath.” I explained as we finally reached the large pyramid. “I’m sure in your line of work, you’ve met quite a few of them.”
Daario laughed. “All too often, I’m afraid. Paid damn well, though.”
“You brought no guards with you.” Jorah stated as we dismounted at the base of the humongous pyramid. I looked up and whistled at the size.
“How big is this thing?” I asked, ignoring Jorah’s question. “Six hundred feet?”
“Eight hundred, actually.” Daario humored me.
“Impressive.” I smiled, before turning to Jorah. “Lead the way then, Mormont.”
He glared, before complying. The rest of the trip was spent in silence as we passed by patrolling guards, level by level, until we finally reached the throne room.
A chilly place, I noted. It was a large, high ceilinged chamber full of splendor with tiles, pillars and walls made of purple marble. Between each pillar stood an Unsullied guard. Between the guards was a tall stairway, leading up to the Queen herself, who was staring down at me with what appeared to be curiosity shoved behind a regal air.
My eyes flitted to the man next to her and widened in surprised recognition, as did his, an event that the two women and helmetless Unsullied guard beside him noticed, but did not comment on.
Instead, the dark skinned girl next to the Queen stepped forward.
“Noble Lord, you stand in the presence of Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, First of Her Name, The Unburnt, Queen of Meereen, Queen of the Andals, the First Men-” Is she now? “And the Rhoynar, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea-” Really? “-Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons.”
I glanced at Selmy for an instant, but he’d already adopted a visage of stone, harder than any of the marble in this room. I stifled a sigh.
Well, if we were playing the title game…
I gave a short bow and began.
“I am Harry Potter of the Blackscale.” I started and thought of all the titles I’d accumulated ever since I got here. “Lord of the Twins, vassal of Robb Stark, the King in the North.” I noticed Mormont shifting at the name-drop. “Enemy of R’hllor, newly made Khal of the departed Khal Moro’s khalasar, and Father of Dragon, I suppose. So nice to make your acquaintance, Queen Daenerys. Or is it Khaleesi?”
I watched her face to gauge her reaction to my titles.
Pale eyebrows raised in a slight show of incredulity at the title and method of address I had employed, though her violet eyes narrowed. I could tell, even from this distance and angle that she was a beauty.
Sitting atop of a featureless black bench that looked completely out of place in this room, Daenerys Targaryen cut a pretty figure. She was tan, built lean- a definitive Targaryen trait aside from the silvery-gold hair, I was starting to realize- and slender, and was dressed in light blue silks that hugged her curves but did not seem to impede her movement.
She wore a strange looking crown of gold, jade and ivory, depicting the three dragon heads of her House’s sigil.
“You may step forward, Lord Potter.” Daenerys said.
I did so, noting that the Unsullied beside me tensed very slightly, ready to act if I decided to charge towards their Queen.
Idiots. The only one who knew what I was capable of was Barristan, and I’ve become much stronger, now.
Anyway, how to approach this…
“Direct approach.” Erebus whispered to me. “No sense in beating around the bush.“
“Queen Daenerys.” I looked up at her. “I’m not a man of frivolous talk and useless words, so I’ll keep this conversation simple.”
“An admirable trait.” She smiled slightly.
I didn’t acknowledge her compliment.
“I’m sure you have many questions to ask.” I continued. “As to who I am and why I have a dragon, and why I’m here.”
“Indeed.” She replied, crossing her legs and getting a little more comfortable. “You do not possess the known Valyrian traits; it is strange to see a non Valyrian with a dragon.”
“Not all Valyrians possessed the silvery-blonde hair and the violet eyes.” I said, giving her what I thought was a condescending smile. “But all of us retained the ability to birth and befriend dragons, however. I, for one, descend from the great Emperor Aurion, who attempted to reclaim the Valyrian Freehold after the Doom had hit the Freehold.”
What I left unsaid was that the Targaryens had fled with their tails between their legs and hid on Dragonstone for almost a century.
“I’m curious.” I said. “How old are your dragons?”
“Stay your tongue.” Jorah Mormont said from behind me. “Show the proper respect to our Queen.”
I turned and stared at the man. Hard.
“I am showing the Queen neither any undue respect, or disrespect.” I smiled and took a step down toward the large man. “And I am showing you far more respect than you deserve, slaver.”
The man winced.
I turned back to the Queen, who looked a little irritated at the display.
“Apologies for the interruption, Queen Daenerys.” I gave a smile and a bow.
“None taken.” Daenerys said stiffly. “I am curious, however.”
“Yes?” I prodded.
“Why do you have no guard to accompany you?” Daenerys asked. “I have seen the legions of Unsullied and Dothraki that await outside of Meereen. Yet, none accompanied you, here.”
I considered her words and the implications within.
“You doubt my identity?” I asked to clarify. “You believe I’m not the true Harry Potter, but a fake because I do not have a force of guards to accompany me here?”
“Either a fake or a fool to go in enemy territory without protection.” Daario Naharis muttered what Daenerys was not saying, but his voice carried in the echoing chamber well enough.
“A fool, eh?” I turned my eyes to Barristan. “How is your leg, Ser Barristan? Healed up well?”
“As well as can be.” He narrowed his eyes at me. “And you, Lord Potter?”
I smiled and briefly lifted my vest and shirt, showing the scar I’d gotten after my fight against Barristan. “Well enough. I’m glad to see you’re not serving the newest incarnation of the Mad King.”
Barristan winced slightly at the mention of Joffrey, but said nothing in return.
I turned back to the Queen.
“The reason for my not having a guard is simple.” I explained, looking around the room. “I don’t need any guards. To walk in unknown territory alongside myself is nothing short of foolish, as they cannot match my pace, nor my strength.”
“Perhaps such a statement would be considered to be arrogance on any other man’s part.” I smiled and tried to project confidence in my words. “And perhaps this next statement will be considered the height of arrogance itself: I can most likely defeat all the warriors in this room at the same time.”
Incredulous silence met my words.
“But, that’s not what I’m here for.” I changed the subject. “The reason for my trip is quite simple; I’m here to kill any and all who follow the Red Priests of R’hllor.”
“Defeat us all, at once?” Daario sputtered in disbelief before anyone even processed my words. “A man of your age and stature?”
“My stature, is it?” I smirked openly. “Perhaps you should tell them of the events at the Tourney of the Hand, Ser Barristan.”
“The Tourney of the Hand?” The Queen tried to get control of the conversation once more; she eyed the old knight intently. “What happened there.”
Barristan looked between the two of us and spoke.
“Lord Potter defeated The Mountain That Rode in the melee.” Barristan said, before shaking his head. “I say ‘defeated’, but it was the most one sided fight I had ever witnessed. The Mountain was utterly and completely humiliated by Lord Potter, who did not even use his sword to do it.”
She considered Barristan’s words carefully, her mind most likely whirling with ideas.
“Impressive.” She looked down at me once more, shifting on her bench. “House Targaryen acknowledges and thanks you, Lord Harry Potter, for your actions regarding the vile man who killed my niece, nephew and my good-sister, Elia Martell.”
I sensed a ‘but’ incoming.
“However, I cannot in good faith allow you to kill members of my city regardless of their faith, or belief.” Daenerys finished, a note of steel entering her words. “It is unthinkable! This is a city of many peoples, many faiths, and I simply cannot, and will not allow members of it to be killed.”
I looked down for a few seconds.
“I had hoped to solve this the diplomatic way.” I said, closing my eyes. “But you leave me no choice.” I looked back up, staring at the beauty on the throne.
“It will be by force, then.” I said, and turned to leave. The Unsullied guards closed the exit off and stood in a battle ready position. I surreptitiously patted my hand over one of my pockets, activating a stone I’d thrown the Protean Charm on and linked with a stone in a collar I had Hestia wear.
I turned back to the Queen, who was standing with a hand extended in a warding gesture.
“You will remain here, as my esteemed guest.” She said, not noticing Ser Barristan’s wince, or his shifting in position. He was there to intercept me if I went for her.
Dutiful man; but Daenerys Targaryen was not my target.
I felt the stone in my pocket heat up, and knew Hestia had gotten the signal.
All was going according to plan.
The highest levels of authority were in this room. The Unsullied commander, two Queensguard- though, there could be more of them lurking around- and the sellsword leader.
“You think this is enough to stop me?” I asked, seeing Jorah Mormont and Daario Naharis unsheath their weapons in preparation for the fight.
I drew Erebus and pointed it at the ex-slaver, the blade gleaming in the light of the throne room. “Jorah Mormont. Earlier, you asked me what would stop me from using my dragon against the Queen.”
Lightning answered my call, suffusing into and strengthening every cell in my body.
“To which I would say…” I had already run behind him, completely bypassing his slow guard, and drove Erebus’ hilt into his back, sending him tumbling forward in a clatter of steel and putting Erebus back into his sheath as a form of insult. “Do you really think that a dragon is the extent of my personal power?”
I was answered with the wordless cries of the Unsullied around me, their spears moving to skewer me every which way. I sidestepped each thrust, noticing that they were timing their attacks in the gaps between their allies’ retraction- a smart, well coordinated assault. Not to mention their complete sense of disinterest; they were completely unfazed by my show of speed.
What sort of mental training- I crushed that disturbing line of thought and focused back on the battle at hand.
I pulled out my weirwood staff and channeled Lightning into it. The staff’s runes glowed with palpable power as I smashed through their defensive guard like I was tearing a particularly stubborn piece of cardboard in two.
But, the Unsullied showed their determination by hurling their broken spears at my form. I smiled and batted the remnants of the weapons away, before feeling something slam hard into the lower left side of my back, just where my kidneys could be found.
Then, the clatter of steel against the ground. A dagger throw?
I turned to see the sellsword, Daario, looking incredulously at me, while Mormont slowly tried to rise, still disoriented and hurt by the tumble he’d suffered.
Footsteps came from my left.
Ah, the Unsullied switched to very close range combat, with daggers, swords, dirks, or even just their plain old fists. The next few seconds were swept up in a whirlwind of kicks, swings, blocks, parries and dodges.
I ducked underneath a stab, grabbing the offending Unsullied’s hand and twisting myself to throw him straight into another’s downward swing- the poor soul was killed instantly, at least, I thought as his head fell and rolled around before stopping at my feet.
I tore my eyes away from his corpse before continuing the fight against the remaining Unsullied- or, at least, the ones who were engaging me.
Ten Unsullied had rallied around the Queen in a formation which could defend from any conceivable angle in this room. The fact that Selmy was also next to her made things all the more harder- if she was my target, anyway.
“Concentrate.” Erebus whispered to me as I drove the sharp end of my staff through an Unsullied’s arm, making him let go of his sword and fall to his knees in pain. I tore the staff out and bonked him on the head, sending him into the land of unconsciousness, before moving on to the remaining eight, who had gathered together and formed a shield wall, with their spears sticking out of the gaps in the defenses.
“Impressive. Switching tactics, trying everything you can against an enemy you cannot defeat. I am impressed.” I admitted freely as Daario and Jorah joined them, turning the number into ten. “The Unsullied truly are the most versatile warriors in the realm.”
“Together.” Jorah called out. “Move!”
The shield wall loomed closer and closer. I did not move.
Closer, and closer.
The spears were almost on me. One of them could even conceivably reach me at this distance. Still, I waited.
Then, I pulled out my wand and pointed it at them. So nice of them to converge together and become a single entity for me.
The effects were instantaneous. Shouts of surprise, worry and alarm rang through the audience chamber as the shield wall utterly collapsed, revealing the Unsullied, Jorah and Daario dancing around uncontrollably, and in sync.
“You are still woefully inadequate in comparison to myself.”
I fought not to grin at the sight of their humiliation and Daenerys’ incredulity.
I watched them try to overcome my spell in an effort to attack me and regain what little dignity they had left; a futile effort.
I made it a point to slowly walk over to every one of the Unsullied and knock them out with a simple blow to the back of their heads. The same occurred to Jorah Mormont, who’d glared at me with barely suppressed rage, all up until I forced his eyes to roll back into their sockets as he fell unconscious.
“So much for your shield wall.” I said and moved on to Daario, who regarded me with a serious look which was completely out of place, considering he was flamboyantly dressed and dancing around while he was at it.
“My apologies, Naharis.” I said and clonked him as well, setting him down gently. “You made for a good conversationalist. I would’ve spared you the humiliation had you simply stood aside. No matter..”
I got back up, and turned to the Queen Daenerys, who was eyeing me with apprehension and fear.
Then, the screams of the Dothraki reached us.
“W-what?” Daenerys said in alarm, looking to Ser Barristan, who said nothing in return.
“It sounds like the purge is beginning.” I smiled and nodded to myself. “Right on schedule.”
I would have to treat Hestia to some exquisite food later. She’d earned it.
“But, you can’t!” Daenerys said, standing up abruptly. “The Dothraki- they’ll-“
She went quiet. Was she having a nervous breakdown, or something? Now, of all times?
I took a step forward. And another, and another.
“Now, what to do with you all?” I wondered aloud as I reached the steps leading to her makeshift throne-bench. “The gates have already been opened and the Red Priests are likely being slaughtered, as we speak.”
Ser Barristan moved to stand in front of Daenerys.
“Not one step further.” He warned, pulling out his sword and shield and entering a battle ready stance. “Form around the Queen and protect her at all costs.”
The Unsullied did as he commanded.
I frowned at him, but afforded the man the respect he was due by stepping back into the open space. I’d spoken to him many times while I was at King’s Landing, and had developed a great admiration for him. He was the epitome of knighthood in the Seven Kingdoms. Where other knights would disregard their vows, he followed his.
“Come.” I said, gesturing to the open area. “Another duel, then?”
Barristan looked at me with a steady, unfaltering gaze and nodded, stepping down the stairway with nothing but the sound of his armor clinking with each movement and the occasional scream in the background.
But, there was something else in the air. Power unlike anything I had sensed in this world so far- and it was all coming from Barristan Selmy himself.
I couldn’t quite describe it.
This was nothing like the red, fiery but dark energy of the Red Priests, nor was it the steadily increasing icy blue power coming from North of the Wall. It certainly didn’t feel like the Old Gods who spoke to me through the Raven, as I called him.
This energy felt strong, solid and forceful. Like it could withstand a thousand assaults and return it tenfold. A beautiful to behold, if I wasn’t directly facing it.
“Balthazar.” I muttered as the old man approached.
§Maximum Armor.§ I heard the hiss and repressed a snort at the reference, feeling the clicking of Balthazar’s black scales over my chest, shoulders, and even on my face. §I can cover your head as well. Dragon motif.§
Barristan lost his composure for a second, staring at me in surprise, before visibly reining himself in and moving into a fighting stance.
I dropped into my own, replaying my previous fight with him, trying to remember the tactics he employed, the fighting style he used. A trickster in a battle, he could make it seem like he was moving his feet when, in reality, he was staying in place.
I had to be on guard.
“I didn’t expect to ever have to fight you again, Ser Barristan.” I said.
“Nor I.” He replied. “But I am sworn to fight for my Queen.”
“Just like last time.” I said, shaking my head.
He grimaced. “Cersei is no Queen of mine.”
“On that we agree.” I said readily. “Do you remember what I told you, back then?”
“You asked me to yield.” Barristan said. “I did not wish to, back then.”
“But you did.” I said, omitting the fact that I had used an Unforgivable on him.
“I did.” His face turned stony. “I will not, this time.”
“…” I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Last time, I had to resort to an Unforgivable to control him long enough to say he yielded. I did not want to do it, but it seemed like the only way I could legitimately keep him alive.
This time, his will was as tough as the steel he bared at me. An Imperius would not work, even if I wanted to use it.
I opened my eyes. “So be it, then.”
“Warrior, give me strength.” Barristan said and charged, his power converging around his shield as he attempted to tackle me with it.
If that thing hit, then it didn’t matter what kind of fancy armor I donned; momentum would be transferred over to me and my bones would break from the impact stress.
So, I jumped over it, bringing Erebus into a downward thrust, aiming to drive the sword into his neck and his chest to end the battle before it started. A clang of steel rang in the air- Erebus clashed against Barristan’s uplifted shield before bouncing right off and allowing the old man to continue past me, completely unharmed.
I landed and immediately went on the attack, but Barristan was already waiting for me, sword thrusting at a speed I did not know anyone here was capable of.
Anyone but myself, and possibly Jon.
I parried the strike and counter-thrusted at his chest, but his shield covered that area, and my sword bounced off again. I suppressed a frown at whatever energy was clashing against my own, before engaging the veteran warrior once more.
“I did not know you were capable of such strength.” Barristan stopped to regard me, impressed. “Strength enough to match myself..”
“How did you achieve this?” I asked, trying to stall for time so I could figure out an adequate counter for it.
But Barristan wasn’t having any of that.
“I did not achieve anything.” Barristan said, his sword already flashing away at me- it was all I could do to dodge and parry. “The Warrior smiles down on me, this day.”
His speed increased.
I brought my full power to bear, the Lightning so strong that it began to escape the confines of my body as I parried, dodged, slashed and hacked away at Ser Barristan, who was weathering my onslaught with the trained eye of a man who’d been part of a hundred battles.
And his shield… Another strong clang was heard as Erebus bounced off the shield, once more. His sword and shield were qute normal. The aura surrounding them, however, was something else entirely.
A golden energy, ‘smelling’ of metal, blood and sweat? How could energy smell like sweat? I shook the thought off; trying to figure out the source of his energy was a waste of resources better spent on trying to beat him.
“Very well.” I pushed Barristan back and brandished Erebus at him, mixing in my Lightning with Erebus’ Darkness. The inky black energy turned dark blue, with black arcs of electricity flying about the blade. “Let us test your defenses.”
Barristan was already in his stance even before I’d rushed to him. He parried my thrust and tried to counter-riposte, only for me to stop the sword with my right hand.
I heard Balthazar hiss in pain and soon joined him. The sword had cut through Balthazar’s scales, and then into my palm.
I instinctively let go of the blade and pointed my bloody palm at him, letting loose a torrent of acidic venom.
Barristan held up his shield in reply.
With a shimmer, a large, half dome of golden energy covered the front of the man, taking on the acidic venom and dissolving quickly, leaving the both of us staring at each other, with nothing but the fumes from the venom touching the ground between us.
I rushed him again, trading blows and slashes with the man at a furious pace, the sound of metal clashing engulfing the entirety of the room. If I’d taken a moment to look at the Queen and her entourage, I would have noticed the awed look they were giving the two of us.
The bout ended with him overextending while slashing diagonally; I took advantage by parrying the strike and thrusting at his back. His armor glowed with the same power infused with his shield, but couldn’t handle the full onslaught of my power combined with that of Erebus.
The blade punched through Ser Barristan’s armor and sank an inch into his shoulder- hm, he’d moved so that I’d missed any vital areas- but no further.
Still, with that, he’d lost the use of his right arm, and therefore, his sword. As expected, the weapon fell to the ground with a loud clatter.
“I’m impressed you lasted this long, Ser Barristan.” I said respectfully, even as I pushed the blade further in, making the man yell out and fall to one knee. “Yield.”
“Never- argh!” He screamed as my Lightning invaded his body through the sword in his shoulder. He panted and heaved, trying to regain composure.
“There’s no reason to-“
“Enough!” I heard Daenerys shout from her throne, and felt a thrum of power emanating from her direction. I turned my attention to the woman, in question. She was standing at the top of the stairs, red fire emanating from her own body.
“Let him go.” She demanded, a note of steel in her voice as her fiery aura barely remained within the confines of her body.
A fledgling magical ability, then? Doubtful that she could do much damage, then.
“I’m afraid I’m not letting any of you go, not until the Red Priests have fallen.” I smiled at her condescendingly even as her power writhed and begged to be used against me.
I pulled the sword out of the Barristan’s shoulder and gave it a quick zap, searing the wound closed and making the man cringe and bite back a shout of agony.
“I’ve closed your wound, Ser Barristan.” I said and knelt by his hunched over body, offering him a hand. “Go, stand with your Queen.”
He didn’t take it, instead standing on his own two feet and moving back towards Daenerys, whose fires had been quenched at the confusing turn of events.
It was almost unnoticeable, but the Unsullied had relaxed minutely when the possible threat at the center of their defensive formation was gone. Who knew what a fire wielding newbie could do, after all?
She glared at me with barely restrained fury.
Tch. Royalty. Always bitching about something or the other.
‘Robb better never act like this.’ I thought to myself as I wondered how to muddle through this lucky cease-fire between myself and Daenerys I’d somehow managed to secure. ‘Because, if he does, I’ll punch him in the throat.’
I repressed an annoyed eye-roll when I heard the faint screams of the Dothraki who were likely ravaging the Red Temple in this, err… “Great City”.
“You…” Daenerys said, her violet eyes narrowing in calculation as her power receded completely back in her body- had she not noticed the red flames? “All of us were gathered here for a peaceful meeting- you never intended to have any terms, did you? All you wanted to do was to kill the Red Priests while keeping my highest ranking soldiers out of the battlefield.”
I smiled at the logical side she was showing.
“Why? You could have simply come in the night with a small group of men and taken care of it, that way.” Daenerys said, a note of confusing and wariness in her tone. “Why meet with us and attempt to discuss terms?”
“I could have.” I admitted. “I could’ve gone in myself, slaughtered them all, and then left on my merry way. But the Dothraki are my people now, and I need them to head into Westeros.”
“You wish to claim the Iron Throne?” She asked immediately, glaring at me.
“That stupid pile of sharp spikes and swords?” I laughed in her face, making her even angrier. Why Aegon had ever thought it was a good idea to make a throne out of swords was beyond me. Maybe I would ask him, someday. “You can keep it. No, I’m here for something much more important than the seat of power of King’s Landing.”
“And, that is?”
And then, I told them of the true threat to the world.