It is currently WINTER in WESTEROS during the year 303 AC. The new moon cycle marks a full twenty years since the Mad King was murdered, and his son King Rhaegar ascended the Iron Throne in his place. Though the year is fresh, war in the Narrow Sea has left the Free Cities of Volantis and Tyrosh in ashes, and the Long Night continues to beckon from the Northern fringes of the Seven Kingdoms. With the Queen Lyanna presumed dead, the citizens of the realms look only to each other for survival.
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Alias: Eph
Age: 17
Sworn To: Targaryen
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Location: King's Landing
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Mar 11 2018, 05:46 AM
SORRY to anyone who's waiting on me to respond to my PMs or Posts. I just haven't had the strength. I've got my Aelix reply to Valarr nearly finished, which I should hopefully be able to complete (IE: edit) later today/night - whenever I get off from work (because, unless I'm dead, I still have to go to the office).

I never get sick. Seriously. The last time I was ill I ended up getting an appendectomy on my 16th birthday. I actually went to the Urgent Care the other morning 'cause I was confused AF as to why I felt like I was dying. Ugh. So, crazy high fever? Check. Advanced lung infection? Check. Inability to breathe or sleep? Check. Blech. FML.

BUT! I think I remember posting to Marg a while back (so that one's good), I should have Aelix's post for Val up sometime today, and except for PMs ... I think I'm caught up? Feel free to yell at me if I've totally missed something. O_O My brain is goo right now. GOOOOO. I'm on a shit-ton of meds so hopefully I will be resemble the rest of humanity in short order.

Allow me to apologize to the world of ATEAONE again. <3 Eph
Mar 7 2018, 12:19 AM

What does a flame remember? If it remembers a little less than necessary – it goes out; if it remembers a little more than necessary – it, too, goes out. If only the flame could teach us all, while it still burns, to remember correctly. When the war was over, when the wounded and dying and the dead were returning home, when everyone began to count heartbeats and heads ... it had been difficult for Aelix to fathom the empty losses and broken souls he’d been force to stare down blankly. Nothing that these returning soldiers had witnessed could compare to the relative simplicity he’d dealt with while keeping those spoiled, obnoxious brats here at home from doing anything spectacularly stupid. Aelix spent the whole war wishing he could have done more for his people, more for the war effort, more to protect the ones they had all lost. Inaction will cost you the stars, they say. That which is important never changes. That which becomes important changes everything.

The weight of understanding that you are useless was like the weight of mountains, crushing his spirit. Carefully, that pain was exquisitely judged so that he may maintain the faintest spark of self-awareness, which was where the purest torture lived. That he would forever know who he was and what he should have been able to do to help his father, his siblings, his people; the prince felt pressed flat beneath the weight of his guilt. And then he decided to get back up. He straightened his back, of his own free will, no lectures were necessary this time. Aelix looked out from amethyst eyes, reached back into his memories, and clung to the ones that bound him to his family. Aelix knew now that he could speak, in his own voice, and not the voice he borrowed from his father or his siblings or from Barristan, when commanding the civilians to step down. In his lone control of the city, he’d finally learned what it meant to become his own man.

Now, his mind was his own. His voice was his own. Aelix might be the youngest prince, but he was, too, the Commander of the City Watch, the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. Somehow that legacy didn’t feel as though it was so much a burden. Finally, finally, Aelix and Andracarr had proven that they could serve King’s Landing and Westeros together in whatever capacity was needed. Granted, that blasted emerald dragon still strayed towards laconic stubbornness, but they were one. Together. The plain fact was that Aelix had become tired of who he had been. Which only partially explained the upheaval of his personality, a character that had, in truth, long ago worn he and everyone else down. There are too many unfortunate roads between the Aelix of now and the one he’d woven out of bleeding hearts and stars and sadness and hate, and there’s only so much respect he could wring out of any of it. The neutral observer could draw a fairly direct line from his successes to his self worth. But he lives in this skin of competition, knows its motivation. And nothing inspires a fierce competition quite like loneliness.

Time seemed to change, to slow unbearably, once he’d entered his brother’s room and shut the door behind him quietly. He saw his brother’s head propped against his pillows, but his eyes were closed; it seemed forever for Aelix to cross the room and take a seat in one of the chairs next to the bed. Regardless of what the maids, servants, or Maesters thought or said before he entered, he was here, and he would not be leaving. Aelix did not think his brother was conscious, so he gently grasped the wrist of his uninjured hand, afraid to cause any more damage, but he needed to reassure himself that his brother’s pulse was still beating beneath the skin. Even at rest, Valarr seemed to be smiling. It had always been so easy for his older brother. Between Matarys and Aelix, they could have frowning competitions. Visenya, too, he supposed. But never Valarr. Though, if he were being honest, Valarr was likely drugged to the gills on milk of the poppy and whatever else they’d given his elder brother to dull the pain. Sighing, he pulled away and crossed his arms over his breastplate to wait.

He’d come to Valarr’s room wearing the full City Watch regalia, as though daring anyone who came across him to turn him away. The heavy, gold-dyed wool of his cloak kept out the chill and covered an impressive set of armor, marked with the distinct three-headed dragon, several hidden dirks, and a long sword hanging on his hip. Overall, he felt completely ridiculous, especially considering all he was there to do was check in on his injured siblings one by one, but he absolutely refused to be sent away, even by those who meant well. If a show of force was necessary to get his way, than they would have it. No one was going to question the Commander of the City Watch when he was in full regalia. To his immense relief, at least the armor, boots, and gloves were all in black. Aelix didn’t think he’d ever live it down if he ran around the Red Keep looking shiny. He didn’t know how his uncle Viserys did it. All that bloody white, he shuddered inelegantly and then sighed.

It didn’t seem to be right anymore. The world, that is. Life. It was too big and too small, it itched the skin across his ribcage and it seems like there were so many pockets that he doesn’t know where to put his hands. Aelix thinks that it used to be different, that it all used to fit better before he stretched and grew, but he stops that thought there because he honestly can’t bring himself to care about it anymore. What’s done is done. All the same, he has inherited this life; it would be impolite to complain, and Aelix Targaryen likes to believe that has manners. The seventeen year-old prince, still not yet accustomed to thinking himself a man-grown, employs an impatient hand to push away silvery locks from his face. Aelix sat, solid and still and silent, pale and perfect, like all those who visibly bore Valyrian blood. He gazed at the wall blankly, like he always did when he was pretending not to be paying attention to everything around him. He’d wait here as long as he had to: either until his brother woke up, or he was chased out. Aelix knew he’d sit here all night if he had to. He’d gotten good at waiting. The prince waited out an entire war at home. He could wait a few more hours.

OOC:: I am sicker than a dog right now. I'm going to bed. I'll write more when I don't feel like I'm going to die.
Mar 3 2018, 06:12 AM

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precise, obsessive, loyal, quiet</div>
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This here is Aelix Targaryen: the youngest Prince (thus far). He was made the Commander of the City Watch during the war and the King (proud of what his son accomplished) allowed him to maintain that position. The death of his mother and the ice-cold of his dreams haunt his every night, and he lives each day burdened with a heavy heart. He worries about how he can protect everyone, especially from an enemy he has never seen anywhere except in his dreams. There was a period when he was very young where everyone wondered if he’d lost that infamous "coin toss" everyone likes to talk about, but age has matured him into an honorable young man who cares about others deeply. Perhaps too deeply. He hates anything that has to do with the Court or “Court Life” and will do whatever he can to avoid having to watch the pampered version of a "dog fight". Aelix is still a bit particular compared to some of his siblings, as well as peculiar, but he can be reigned in by those closest to him. He is extremely driven to do whatever needs to be done, to the point where he can become slightly obsessive when it comes to even the littlest details to achieving his goals. He assigns his worth directly to his accomplishments and he does not want to take "second best" in anything when he knows he can "win". When he’s given something to do, he does everything in his power to achieve his goals. Short of an order from the King, there is nothing or no on that can stop him when he sets his mind upon something.

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Friends will be few and far between. He was a loner as a child, and is still kind of a loner. His position as Commander of the City Watch will have introduced him to more soldiers and more people, so hopefully fellow soldiers will come to view him as an ally that they can "corrupt" or introduce to "fun". Aelix would be extraordinarily loyal to whomever will put the effort to actually get to know the young Prince without wanting something (anything) from him in return. He loves the people, loves serving his King and the Kingdom. He loves his family, directly or indirectly related to him, and takes comfort in the knowledge that he will one day serve his half-brother Aegon as King and his sister Visenya as Queen.

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I am near positive he’s angered people in the past, either as the angry child he once was growing up, through the people he was forced to “subdue” during the riots, anyone who threatens King’s Landing and Westeros, and anyone who is an enemy of his family. ... Basically anyone who threatens the status-quo is considered an enemy in Aelix's book. He desires peace, but that is almost an abstract thought for him. He fully understands that sometimes force is necessary to accomplish peace. And Aelix has a dragon who is more than happy to shed a little blood for the sake of said "peace". Also ... Anyone who has even a niggling thought in their brain to flat out eliminating Andracarr (Aelix's dragon) is due for a short, brutal death that Aelix will seek forgiveness from his father only after he is done with you. Andracarr holds a gigantic piece of his soul. To kill his dragon would be to kill him. Aelix would burn the world down before he would that happen.
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Lovers? Nonexistent. I imagine he’s kissed a couple girls in the past, never getting beyond a fondle here or there, but nothing ever beyond that. He’s very concerned about his family’s reputation and would hate to bring shame to the Targaryen family. I've also always, personally, figured that, as he is the youngest Prince, girls might have used him for “target practice” so they could get closer to his other brothers rather than actually being interested in Aelix himself. Once he figured that nonsense out, he wiped his hands clean of all of them. He does not trust women to look at him and see just him: Aelix. So that created his opinion that it is unwise to bother with girls until his father decides on a betrothal, that way whomever is chosen would be interested in him and not one of his siblings (oh, that poor, naive boy). As of right now, the plan is to eventually get Margaery Tyrell and Aelix Targaryen betrothed and married. Aelix does not believe in extramarital affairs, so any child he would have would be born by Marg alone. Little does he know that there are other women from across the Narrow Sea that have their eyes set upon the youngest Prince. At the very least, the future should be interesting.


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Feb 24 2018, 03:41 PM
Aelix had woken with one hell of a splitting headache this morning. He wakes most mornings these days with a splitting headache. Sometimes he wakes, as he did this morning, with nonsense syllables and strings of meaningless words echoing in his aching skull. The words were all clickety-clack-sounding, like children making up vowel-heavy clicking noises as though to find the right number of syllables for an old, long-since forgotten war song, but they seemed to mean something in those painful seconds before he comes fully awake. The prince feels mentally exhausted all the time now. Sometimes the only thing keeping the Targaryen out of bed to face each new day was that blue flame burning in his chest. The more tired and empty and sad he was, the hotter and fiercer that flame burned. He knows it’s not simply some metaphor for his determination. Nor was it optimism. That blue flame in his chest is the core fo his conviction that he would do whatever he had to. Anything. He’s beginning to think that, at seventeen, he’s right at the cusp between being weary and wanting to live forever.

In his dreams, Aelix feels like he is swimming in a white sea beneath a white sky in a world of white snow. Though he could feel the ground beneath his feet in these dreams as he slogs his way through the cold, he never could catch a glimpse of it under the enduring white torrents cast down upon him. Disorientation was an unremitting threat in the bleached land of his dreams. The baleful wind shrieked without cease, blew snow in his face, and forced him to bow his head. It had shoved him off his feet more than once and had become almost as real an adversary as any other he’d been pitted against before. He cursed the wind as though it could hear him. Instead of soft flakes, the snow was coming down in sharp-edged crystals, almost like grains of sand. The wind drove hard enough to sting his eyes, nose, ears ... it seemed so real in those moments that, if he wasn’t waking in a cold sweat, he wakes shivering with the phantom cold.

He slipped out of his bed and dressed in the faint light that poured in through the solar. A sleek, crimson doublet, a black cloak with the three-headed dragon stitched onto his back in a matching shade of red that he pulled together with a simple broach in silver, and a pair of soft, black riding boots. Shoving his fingers through his hair to get it under some semblance of control was always difficult, but he believes he’s gotten all the knots out of it at the very least. He walks out the door and into the hallway before he can rationalize his desire to see his mother’s favorite garden in the Red Keep away. The sooner he left, the sooner he could return and prepare for the rest of the day; with Tyrion Lannister’s trial rapidly approaching, securing the city had become a near obsession for the Aelix. So rough mornings like the last grated even more than usual, made him tense and angry and anxious, made him eager for the respite that the garden provided; he flatly ignored everything and everyone else around him as he walked through the halls and down stairs. Luckily, it was so early that the only faces he glimpsed where those of the servants.

When the young prince finally arrived, he paused a moment to breathe in the fresh air before he walks through the archway. Aelix remembered coming out here with his mother when he was very young. The former queen used to say that it was healthy for a prince to get outside beneath the sun, and she’d coax him into staying without putting up a fight by, and telling him stories. So he’d sit there bathed in sunlight, his fingers idly petting Muna’s fur, or playing with the blue petals of the winter roses - content as he so rarely was as his mother read to him, or spun her tales from memory. Even though she was gone, he’d still return whenever he could, especially when he was experiencing another rough morning. So there he was, beneath a beautiful morning sun, with dew clinging to his fingertips from flowers buds he examined, walking unhurried through the paths. Slowly, he felt himself unwind and relax. It was hard to be stressed when surrounded by so much beauty.

Aelix could not say how long he lingered before he heard a soft sound behind him. Curious, he turned, but instead of the servant or soldier he was expecting, it was a woman. Blinking placidly, as though that would make her disappear, she did not, in fact, do so. “My Lady,” he began, facing her fully. It was difficult; to focus around the spongy ache still residing in his temple, to choose the right words and remember to say them aloud. Almost no one, save members of his family, would come to this garden anymore, except out of morbid curiosity. “Perhaps I can assist you. You appear to be lost.” The prince was unfailingly polite, but he stands at stiff attention with his hands held firmly behind his back. He did not recognize the young woman, but he spent so much time avoiding court that that was hardly a surprise anymore; he hadn’t had this much interaction with the court since before the war ... the Lannister trial was certainly becoming a nuisance.
Feb 6 2018, 10:40 PM
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<h1><crown>prince aelix targaryen</crown></h1>
<h2>17 years old. commander of the city watch. the young dragon. austin butler.</h2>
<h3>eph. 26. pacific. pm.</h3>
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Youth is a bed of coals and power is the flame the rises from it. Aelix rises red and silver into his seventeen years, guided by his family and his elders, and inspired by ancient legends he reads quietly next to Rhaenna when the days are too rough. When he was very young he would ask his mother for even more stories: tales and legends of the North, wanting to hear more about all the myths and truths told throughout history. During his days he spends his time learning from the Maester and his Tutors: numbers, warcraft, weaoponry, astronomy, astrology, geography, herbs, etc.. They start to label him diligent, calculating, intelligent, but they are always wary of the days when he is cross with the world, for no one can understand or handle the fire that burns inside. So Aelix makes sure that fire appears to dim, is tempered as he ages, and he becomes much more serious and solemn, but always that anger burns on the inside. He’s just learned to hide it better. Aelix Targaryen is born into a legacy of dragons and wolves, but somehow it all seems too big for him. Time strips him of everything, except his name, and so far he feels like a boy in a man’s body, like an ill-fitting suit; uncomfortable in his own skin, and miserable. Always, he’s choking on the ash and he can never remember how to breathe.


His hair is darker than his father’s, in a constant state of disarray (much to his mother’s dismay when she was alive). He has a terrible habit of running his hands through his hair whenever he is thinking or upset about something, it is almost never in any semblance of order. The line of his jaw is sharper than his fathers. There is a presence about him that fills the room to capacity, like giant wings unfurled around him, fitting space that no man should be able to fill. Truly a Dragon, that is something no one can deny. A surprise would be the quality of his voice: soft but firm, of a middling tone, with calculated inflection. His laughter is rich and deep, full of something wild and beautiful, loud, and yet still gentle. It’s joyful instead of boasting, and it’s real. Almost always startled out of him, it is not something that happens often. His hands are calloused; scars hatch his palms and wrists from mistakes made either training with a sword or trying to train Andracarr. He is thin and wiry, finally growing into the man he will become. But it is always the eyes people notice first, the most forthright reminder of his Valyrian heritage: violet. They are a curious combination of pale and dark, luminescent in a way that has nothing to do with sunlight or fire. No one can find the Stark in him until he leaves for the forests, and then the Dragon gets left behind.


Aelix Targaren is not an easy young man to understand, nearly everyone would agree. There are people scattered throughout the seven kingdoms who have tried for years and failed. He is a bit like fire, a bit like smoke. He flits through and flies over, touching lives briefly before he disappears, leaving behind nothing but the taste of ash and the memory of a boy much too busy to stay. In order to understand who Aelix is, you first must understand you he isn't. That's where the enigma begins. The thing that Aelix is not, is Aelix. Everything that people think of when they think of the youngest child of Rheagar and Lyanna is borrowed or stolen, a lie or a habit that he has picked up from those who surround him. He has constructed himself out of the fragments and shards discarded by everyone else - a little piece here, a little bit of something or someone else there - all stitched together over time, because that is who he believes he needs to be.


The young Prince is the embodiment of his family's dynasty: Valyrian and Targaryen and Stark, dragon and wolf and ancient bloodlines all thrown together. Aelix was born into a legacy of power, named after ancestors long dead, a son tied to both ancient Valyrian blood and Stark power. Sometimes he feels like nothing is his, that everything belongs to the ghosts of the past - the ghosts of his ancestors, the ghosts of all those ancient wars. Aelix Targaryen, son of Rhaegar Targaryen. Son of Lyanna Stark. Half-brother to Aegon, brother to Matarys, Valarr, Visenya, and Rhaenna. Older brother to Shaera and Velaena. And he, Aelix, the youngest and wildest Targaryen Prince. Aelix has become a collection of memories, but most of them are not his own. He’s made of fragments of old ghosts, all thrown together from everyone else’s recollections, and then time has sewn all the pieces together, constructing Aelix much akin to a puppet. A walking puppet, stuffed with ash and smoke. Always shambling towards whatever force is stronger: towards whatever master controls his strings that day. For Aelix, that changes often.


In the beginning, it’s his dear, beautiful, perfect mother ... and then it’s not. He was always upset when he couldn't be with her because she was one of the few that understood him completely. But she had other duties to attend, so sometimes she would try to leave Muna behind for companionship. Aelix got to spend the most time with her when she left for Winterfell and he got to travel with her. Then it’s Rhaegar, until it isn’t – Kings are too busy, but he knows Rhaegar tries desperately to help his son as he grows. And then his siblings pass him around between on another like a broken doll, trying to understand but not having the time or patience to, until they grow bored or busy or frustrated with him (except Rhaenna, she always seemed to understand him, even when they spent their time in absolute silence). Eventually, finally, it’s Barristan Selmy, and only Barristan Selmy. The Prince ends up hating the man as much as he loves him, because Barristan doesn’t throw him aside. Doesn’t get bored, doesn’t send him away. He just hits Aelix harder (and then harder) and tells him to get up off his ass and start moving.


Aelix briefly considered demanding another teacher, but immediately throws that thought out the window. There are no better teachers in all of Westeros. Besides, Aelix realizes quickly that he has been backed into a corner, into a cage of his own making. There is no one else and there is no where else to go. Caged animals claw at limbs, you know? Chewing through flesh when they have no where to turn, and he's beginning to feel the bones beneath his teeth crack. Such is the legacy of the Targaryen dynasty; the family curse. Fire and smoke and ash fear and rage. When lives are handed down by fate, personal responsibility becomes a foreign concept. Personal anything is foreign to Aelix, except for the rage or that terrible feeling that he's going to be left behind. He wishes it wasn’t, but he’s never known anything else. It’s just another grievance in a long list of grievances he holds against his family's long legacy. Something he has to fight, so he does as Ser Barristan says: gets up off his ass and moves.


You have everything, everyone tells him, but he really doesn’t. He has it all in the technical sense, perhaps, but those things he has aren’t really his. Not really a part of who Aelix is. Everything they give him is owned by ghosts – the ghost of his insane grandfather, the ghost of his mother, the ghost of his half-sister – and whenever someone speaks about him, it’s always as an addendum. He is an addition to the base. Aelix, youngest son of Rhaegar and Lyanna. Grandson of the Mad King. Brother to the future King, brother to the future Queen, brother to all the pretty, pretty Targaryen princes and princesses. But beggars can’t be choosers, of course. No one loves Aelix for being Aelix, and he knows this. He’s too difficult, too strange, too much like a history lesson no one wants to remember. They flipped that coin ... so which side did it fall on?


When he was a baby, his parents put a dragons egg next to him like they did with all his siblings. It is a rich emerald and a white so pale it almost looks silver, and the colors seem to shift beneath his gaze whenever he touches or moves it as he grows older. It feels warm beneath his fingers and he demands to sleep with it at night (to keep him warm, of course, why would you ask?). When he is six, he has a dream where he is burning, and when he wakes screaming and crying, one of the servants rushes in to see what's the matter but they stop half-way to the bed and call for someone to get his parents instead. At first he doesn't understand, as he sniffs and blinks away the tears, until he looks to his side and there isn't an egg beside him anymore. There is a Dragon.


Andracarr is both the best and the worst thing to have happened to Aelix. The tempers the young Prince would throw started to fade as he focused on something new and much more important than his strange dreams and the whispers in the dark. Andracarr clings possessively to him, demanding always to be held by the young boy, until he is too large, and then he follows Aelix close at his heels, hissing or spitting smoke at anyone who comes near to what is his. It isn't until Andracarr starts to spit fire rather than smoke that things start to change. Especially when Aelix is in another one of his moods, because the dragon responds to every sliding emotion of the boy, and his parents begin to worry. Not for just their son, but for everyone else around he and his dragon as well. So they separate the two. Aelix is darkly furious for months, thinking everyone is punishing him for no reason, and Andracarr, where he'd been moved to the Dragon Pit, became untouchable. Too wild. Too dangerous. Too much. The dragon doesn't forgive his rider, either, which made things even more difficult over the years. Preventing an easier bonding between the dragon and his rider.


It took years for Aelix to earn back the trust of Andracarr. Even now, when Aelix can feel the slide of the dragon's mind shift along his own skull (the thoughts of his dragon becoming his thoughts, and his thoughts becoming the thoughts of his dragon), the green and white beast is still a challenge to control. At night, and most days, he stays in the Dragon Pit, chained, for the fear of what he might do without the guidance of his rider. And the Prince understands the reasons now, much better than he did when he was a young boy. He's got his own scars and burns to prove how difficult Adracarr can be. There are times when his dragon has these bright flashes of understanding, where there is a sudden completeness within Aelix's soul, and Andracarr behaves beautifully; like when Aelix had been left in charge of the City Watch. While the Prince stood side-by-side on the ground with the soldiers left behind to guard the city during the war, above there was the smooth shadow of the leanest of the dragons drifting seamlessly above, winding his way around towers, occasionally gliding closer to the ground, roaring when people panicked and began to riot. But there were never flames, and he never flew too close as to scare the people more. Just control. ... Those moments are few, however, because, for some reason, Andracarr is content with being willful and stubborn and angry. The Prince understands where it all stems from. The dragon is a mirror: a reflection of his soul. When Aelix has a given purpose, his dragon finds his center, but left without any direction? Things get deadly.


Aelix's anger feels like it has been there forever. He thinks it has sustained him throughout his youth and now into his young adulthood. Crossing the ice with fire in his belly. But Aelix also loves with a wonderful, terrible, fierce completeness - yes, he has been valiant and defended the city against outsiders and maintained peace in King's Landing during the war, settled the people when they panicked or grew uproarious. ... But he sometimes wonders what part of his valor is formed by the fury that is eating him up from the inside, hollowing out his body, beneath muscles taught as harp strings under skin that is as pale as snow.


Sometimes it feels as though Aelix has two modes for himself: laconic stubbornness or vibrating anxiety. One restricts the other. Over time, the young Prince has forged his own chains from patience, the patience of a dragon who’s forcing himself to remain passive, because if Aelix allows himself to slow down and think, let himself ponder his cage, he’ll be overcome with rage at his helplessness. So instead he keeps his innermost thoughts quiet. He hammers them down until they splinter, like tiny shards of dragonglass twinkling in spade-turned loam, shredding arrant hands that dare to search for any of his roots. Fools, he thinks idly. They get what they deserve for thinking he is a tame dragon.


For as long as Aelix can remember, he has been hungry. Not in the literal sense, of course, but inside he is starving, but for what? He doesn’t know. The icy wind in his dreams is as harsh as steel wool, flickering over piles of frozen ice and ripping down stone. It roars and screams and butchers his exposed skin, punishing him: he who is unlucky enough, and damn stubborn enough, to endure this cruel punishment. It has no mercy. It knows no shame. And in the distance he thinks he hears the familiar voice of his mother, but the sound is distorted and it cracks the ice around him just as he wakes.


There are ghosts in his dreams, too; burning ghosts that scream and scream at him until he wakes. He tells no one, so every night he is forced to dream of fire and blood and, gods, the screaming. But these ghosts also seem to come alive when he is awake, though he can never see them except as shadows in the periphery of his vision. They whisper things to him: secrets that he couldn’t possibly know on his own, or warnings they demand he acknowledge. He hates politics, hates having to smile during the drudgery of court. Fuck court. The ghosts are loudest in these moments, telling him that they are lying to him. They are always lying and smiling at him and conniving and he hates it. Hates them. All of them.


At an early age Aelix was able to discern the cold, hard truths apart from the embellishments. He’s always had an uncanny degree of self-awareness, even as a child, which made him adept at reading people. It is why he is always resentful of crowds, of having to spend time around the Court. It’s never the whole person people want to experience, but the perfect pieces and the unsurprising. No one wants to see the savage and impatient side of the Prince – he was expected to sit up straight with that permanent polite disinterest when speaking with visiting Lords and Ladies. Things are not always what they seem; the first appearance deceives many; the intelligence of a few perceives what has been carefully hidden. Sleeked in Targaryen grandeur, both the genuine and the false, Aelix moves through the contours of the court as swiftly as a warm summer wind, leaving the scent of ash and lingering smoke behind him. And finally, fucking, gets out.


Those at Court always know the right twist of the tongue, how to use the precise words and gestures to manipulate and cut someone down. Sometimes Aelix thinks that these useless people could never love anything but the power they like to wield over others, the way they know how to find someone's weaknesses and how to twisttwisttwist them just enough to make them hurt, but not break them. At least, not until they’re done. Other times he is laughing internally as he watches it all, because this? This is the "Prettily Dressed" and "Perfumed" way they perform a dog fight, to figure out their ranks: who stands on top of who. The Prince much better approves of the deadlier, and bloodier, way the Direwolves of his sister Rhaenna and all his Northern cousins (and his mother, too, once) figure out their rank within the pack. That is a much more concrete version of power. Not the pathetic, puffed-up displays he has to endure.


There's one thing Aelix has never been able to understand about people. The way there were so many facets to them, like a diamond, but you could never see a person all at once. You turn your head one way, you see a sly carving on their face that resembles a smile, and you turn the other way, or even just a little, and you see something else. Or even, perhaps, nothing at all. He could never find comfort in the fact that there was never a complete uncovering of somebody’s soul – this made him sleep even worse at night – and it always brought him to question exactly the validity of someone if you could never hold them in your gaze as a whole, or even think of them as a whole: even with their guts hanging out and the bruises on their ego and the dullness of their spine and the unhealed holes in their hearts which in turn made them cruel. They are never fully exposed. Even when they pretend to be, even if they seem to be exposing a lot, it is never true. So Aelix trusts no one. Family’s family for a reason: you don’t need anyone else.


It breaks his heart in ways he, and no one else, can understand when his mother is declared missing ... and then eventually dead. All the children go searching for her, even he rides his dragon (emerald and white with golden eyes; wiry like his rider, bonded fiercely but ridiculously stubborn - Aelix wonders where he gets that) North. It was a challenge to get Andracarr to do his bidding, but the dragon eventually seemed to understand and they joined with his siblings in the air. Aelix rode North, but his heart already understood no one was going to find her. Ice had been coating his dreams for years at this point. But he has to try. It is his mother. They find the corpse of Muna, but not Lyanna. There was evidence of a fight, something vicious and terrible ... but the Queen was gone, and they all despair. So the Dragons ride South with a dead wolf.


Out of the flames they were conjured – through the dark spaces between the cracks of Old Valyria they rose: great serpents of great power. So it began for their kind, but lost they were after The Fall. Only the Targaryen’s managed to keep these monsters and this magic alive, even if the world thought the dragons had finally ended in the time of his ancestors. Dragon fire melts all chains and collars, and all crowns and all the gold of the world fall to them in time. It is why the Targaryen line has lasted so long, grown so huge. How beautiful they have all been, Aelix reflected, as he has watched the cruel silhouettes of Andracarr and all his siblings bent over the tattered banners of his father’s enemies, jaws bloody and eyes glowing. But now they are bent over the funeral pyre of his mother and his Queen, the only body there to represent her was her Direwolf, broken and bloody. Dear, sweet, loyal Muna (I slept on her back as a child, she carried me, she loved me, this can’t be happening), and suddenly the dragons didn't look quite so beautiful now.


When he was named the Deputy Warden of the Kingswood a short time ago by his King and father, he understood it was a test of some kind, except what for? But he'd always loved spending time in forests, so it doesn't seem like too great a challenge, whatever it is. So he spent his days and nights when he wasn't training (or spending time with Andracarr) wandering the woods, touching leaves and dirt and the old bones he finds lying beneath the beds of rot. Looking for people who weren't supposed to be there. Arresting, sometimes fighting, occasionally killing, and still always searching. Sunlight would bleed through the canopy, staining his shoulder. Everything beneath the trees is strangely unstrange. Though he usually wanders aimlessly, looking for paths and trails made by those who shouldn't be there, the sun and the singing birds seem to know their way as surly as ever above him. They soar through their familiar arcs in a daze, dipping neatly around the young man. He stays in the forest until sunset. The coming of night is a balm for his sunburned heart. When the first pale stars prickle the sky, he sees them balanced like bright tears on the rim of a great black eye and every drop of his nearly standard state of anger is blinked away.


By moonlight, nothing around him feels swift or sure. The fierce accusing edges of daylight melt, flowing into the whisper and suggestion of soft shapes. The world of the night-time forest he is set to guard is populated with silhouettes and small, hidden hunters that trust nothing outside the reach of their paws. Silver light in the broken spaces open to the sky, leaves and moss wrapped like lace about the dark elegant limbs arched and curled and fanned out above his head. As the Deputy, he could make excuses to stay behind, make one of the other me beneath him do these things (and they do, but he just doesn't need to be out there with them all the time) but he likes being out in the forest. And he likes so little. Silently, following the slivered pattern of starlight and shadows painted across the ground, he makes his way back towards the Warden to report that everything is as it should be. Always as he walks back, he thinks about the travels he used to take with his mother, and his wanderings through the Godswood in Winterfell.


There was a queerness about the forests of the North. It was the essence of both life and death. Time lived among those trees and beasts will leave a kind of ... sickness in your heart that makes it feel fuller, makes you feel more free while you are there, but leaves the heart ever-yearning when you’ve left. The forest is not meant to be a place for men, and where men go, the forests sickens in return. The Starks, however, you must remember, are as much wolves as they are men, and as much men as they are wolves. Aelix is half-Stark, and that seems to be enough. The Forest does not die from housing him, but his heart is full of it, and to break away is to feel emptiness begin to etch deeper every step of every day he remains.


Aelix leaves and returns, leaves and returns from that forest when he visits Winterfell with his mother, spending more time in the forest than with his other family (though he spends time with them, too). They seem to understand and don’t cause a fuss like everyone certainly would down in Kings Landing. The Godswood is quiet and lets him remain. He is respectful of this place, prays to the Old Gods at the Heart Tree, stares at his reflection in the black pool beneath it, and continues wandering aimlessly. Below him is the dark earth; beneath that, the black loam and the roots swollen up with power, the rot dusting ancient ghosts with gold. The Young Dragon watches the birds glittering in the trees like bells, like shards of sunlight caught and held; and their voices are stitched together in the rushing wind. The forest gives him a kind of peace that life at court never could. He looks all dragon, and his truly is on the inside, but this is where the Stark in him lies: within dark, ancient forests.


As a Prince, a Dragon of the Seven Kingdoms, he is bound by the laws of his people and the will of his family to protect, defend, to keep whole the things that are most precious. It is his duty. Oaths are taken, training is endured, and he is meant to live a life devoted to serving everyone save himself. To serve his father and King, to eventually serve his half-brother as King and his sister as Queen. To keeping the peace, to furthering the Targaryen influence and control, to defending the people. Aelix loves the people, even when they are wrong. Especially when they are wrong, because it means he must forcibly guide them in the right direction. His position as Commander of the City Watch was merely passed to him because the desperation of war called everyone else overseas, and someone had to be there to maintain order. He succeeds, because he knows there are those who expect him to fail, want him to fail, so he doesn’t. Contrariness has always been his greatest virtue, if you could call it that. His father lets him keep his new title when everything is said and done: the King said he’s proud, said he did well, which leaves Aelix feeling as if his heart is ready to burst, that he’s finally done something worthy of his family name – but he is also half-expecting and slightly terrified his King and father might take it all away. So he does his damnedest to prove he’s earned his place, and he will continue earning his place among the soldiers that surround him. He refuses to fail.

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The palace was silent as the earth rumbled in some strange memory, groaning as if it could deny what was happening. Bars of light cast through rents in the walls and the domed ceiling where snowflakes glittered where they hung, frozen in the air. Scorch-marks marred the walls, the floors, the ceiling. Broad, black smears crossed the blistered painted, once-bright red stone of the Red Keep, soot intermingled with snow, both overlaying the crumbling friezes of men and dragons alike. The dead lay everywhere, men and women and children, dragons and wolves and lions and bears, struck down by ice and by fire. He can’t recognize any of them, but shouldn’t he? In an odd counterpoint to this dream, Aelix looked upon the colorful tapestries and paintings and hanging bits of armor and weaponry that lay entirely undisturbed, masterworks all, unchanged, as if everything surrounding them weren’t really there. Finely carved furnishings, inlaid with ivory and gold and dragonglass and Valyrian Steel, standing untouched, except where the snow and ash surrounded it all. The mind-twisting dream of the youngest Prince confused him, set him off-balance and made him ignore the peripheral things. Ghosts, his mind supplied, you aren’t supposed to ignore those anymore. You promised yourself.

Aelix Targaryen wandered the halls of the palace, deftly keeping his balance on the ice-slick stone of his home. “Father?” he called aloud. “Aegon? Valarr? Matarys? Visenya? Rhaenna? ... Viserys? Daenerys?” The Prince bites his lips until his mouth is bloody. "Shaera? Velaena? You can come out now, little doves. You don't need to hide. Please come out." He calls and he calls, but no one answers, and he knows, deep down, that no one will, but something inside of him tells him that they are supposed to be here. They are supposed to be here with him. So why aren’t they? “Where are you?” he calls louder, desperate, as he winds his way through empty corridors and over corpses. The edge of his cloak trails through bloody snow as he steps over the bodies of people he should know, their faces frozen in the horror of their last moments, their eyes ... their eyes are ice-blue. Aelix ignores them. Vaguely, he registers his own reflection in a looking-glass hanging askew as he passes by. His clothes, once regal in the black and red of his House; the finely-woven cloth, brought from merchants from across the Narrow Sea, was now torn and filthy, covered with the same ash and ice that was in his matted hair and on his skin. He’s covered in blood. For a moment he fingered the three-headed dragon symbol on his chest, hard to distinguish from the blood that covered him, but it did not hold his attention for long, for his gaze is caught by the image reflected back at him. A tall man, a little older than he should be, but it's hard to guess; handsome, but pale as moonlight with skin pulled tight with strain and worry, and bright amethyst eyes that have seen far, far too much.

The image is harsh and confusing, so Aelix turns his head, shying away from it and moving forward, still aimless, searching for his lost family. “Where is everyone?” the prince whispers, but even those quiet words echo in the emptiness around him and the sound makes his bones crack beneath his skin. And then his eyes fall upon a woman standing at the end of the hall. Beautiful, ethereal, blue eyes and pale skin, the air around her shimmers with the cold. And he knows her face. “Momma?” Aelix calls, confused, and she reaches out a hand to him, beckoning. He totters forward unthinkingly, stumbles and almost falls, before he remembers himself and halts. “... Momma? Mother. You’re dead. You’re dead and gone and dead and oh, momma, what happened to you?” His sobs are the full-throated cry of a broken boy who realized too late that this was another one of his terrible dreams. Lyanna opens her mouth but the sound that she makes isn’t human and, seven hells, does it hurt, but she reaches out her other hand and beckons to him again. Aelix shakes his head, hands shaking and he slowly steps away. Tears blur his vision, but his voice is iron. “No, momma. This isn’t real. You are dead and this is just a dream. This isn’t real.”

And then pain blazed in Aelix and he screams, a scream that comes from the depths, a scream he could not stop. Fire seared his marrow, acid rushing along his veins. He falls backwards, crashing to the floor; his head striking the ice-covered stone and rebounding. Aelix could feel his heart pounding, trying to beat its way out of his chest, and each pulse gushed new flame through him. Everywhere he looked his eyes found the dead. Torn, or broken, or burned, or half-consumed by ice. Everywhere lay lifeless faces he knew, faces he loved. Old servants and friends and faithful companions who fought side-by-side with him. And his family. His father, his brothers, his sisters, his aunt and uncle. Everyone. All slain. All frozen. Aelix could not bear the faces, the pain. He could not bear to remain in this dream any longer. Aelix drew on the fire within him deeply, and still more deeply like a man dying of thirst. His skin blistered as he strained against the beckoning image of his mother and her inhuman speech as she called to him. “Forgive me. I love you. Forgive me, momma. The dead have no place amongst the living.

And then he wakes, sweat making tracks down Aelix Targaryen’s face, plastering his nightshirt to his back as he carelessly threw aside the covers. Placing his bare feet upon the cool stone of his room, he pressed the heels of his hands into his eyes as if it were enough to make him forget. But he could not. The Prince remembered, as he always remembered, like a dream within a dream, but he knew it was true. They always were. “Oh, momma,” he whispers sadly into the night, and distantly he hears Andracarr roaring unhappily in reply from the Dragon Pit. “I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry.”
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