Summer Ship: The Ballad of Dany and Yara (Part 5)

Summer Ship

Daenerys Targaryen lowered her naked body into boiling water and stared at the dungeon ceiling. Since taking power, the imprisoned population of King’s Landing had drastically decreased. Some dungeons would always be necessary, of course, but Queen Daenerys did not require the extensive, 15-room torture chambers of her predecessor. So, being a practical woman, she had repurposed the most secluded dungeon chamber into a private royal bathing area. The Castle servants labored for weeks to scrub away decades of dried blood and human waste, but the room now sparkled.

The bath was a circular structure of veiled pink marble. Four chiseled dragons leered out from ionic columns surrounding the bath. It was shallow enough to stand and deep enough to swim. An enormous fireplace roared against one wall. Above the flames hung six iron pots filled with water. A team of veiled servant girls nimbly moved between the fireplace and the bath, hauling buckets of scalding water that would boil the skin of anyone but a Targaryen. Another girl combed lotion through Dany’s long, pale blonde tendrils. Still another stirred bath oils scented with honeysuckle and coarse sea salt into the waters.

“Enough,” Dany commanded. “Leave me.”

The women left. She was alone. Dany relaxed her body and let herself float, face up, eyes never leaving the stone ceiling. This room was her solace, but sometimes she couldn’t help but wonder how many people died in this room. How many broken bones, cracked skulls, piercing screams, rotting wounds, pleading words, slow deaths? She’d never know. She never wanted to know. But she wondered. She could still her body, but she could never still her thoughts.

She closed her eyes, willing herself to think of the problems at hand. Cersei had escaped Crakehall. The new plague was contained, but for how long? Her people had tried to suppress any mention of the disease, but rumors traveled faster and farther than anyone could stop. People were growing nervous. They wanted answers. Whispers of a Lannister plot permeated the palace. People had questions for Daenerys Targaryen and for the first time in her rule, she had no answers.

“Help me.”

The words escaped her lips before she could think about them. Sometimes that happened to Dany; her thoughts grew so strong that bits and pieces of them popped out aloud, unbidden and unwanted. She was glad no one was around to hear this one. She could handle armies but not a mad Queen roaming free. She could handle rebellion but not a plague, striking down more people than any massacre. “Help me.” She repeated the words, savoring them. How nice to finally say that forbidden thing aloud, here where there was no one to call her weak.

“Somebody help me!” Dany wailed. “I don’t know what to do.”

She felt hot, salty tears pouring down her cheeks and mixing into the water.