Seventeen years gone and Apollos ambition only grew with his every success. The Greyjoy Rebellion came and was over in weeks, instead of months, and with minimal losses. Every Ironborn male was killed and their women were used in Apollos' breeding program that was designed to replace their religion, heritage, values (if they could even be called that), and destroy their society while replacing it with one influence by the Westerlands. Tywin was now Lord Paramount of the Westerlands and the Lannister Islands and Lord of Casterly Rock and the Lannister Islands. Apollos was understandably reluctant to follow through with such a vile plan, but their religion, heritage, and values were all horrible and involved preying upon the innocent and weak.
Apollos, Tyrion, and Tywin took the entire Iron Fleet and expanded their merchant and war fleets greatly. They used those new resources and their own to increase their wealth and holdings even further, to the point where they more than quadrupled the family wealth. The Lannisters were now the richest in the world! Skyscrapers were even being constructed in Lannisport because of the massive activity happening there! Apollos, Tywin, and Tyrion were even considering the creation of a bank of the Westerlands to compete with the Iron Bank of Braavos and drive their influence out of Westeros! The Westerlands could already raise a fighting force of 140,000 in a short time, Apollos had made sure that his people bred as much as much as possible, while making sure they had territory, food, infrastructure, and supplies to support them all. All of these soldiers were well trained, well equipped, well informed, and well fed and watered. It was a colossal and difficult task, but the Westerlands experienced a massive yet stable growth.
Apollos had almost single-handedly made the Westerlands the most powerful of the Seven Kingdoms in wealth, military might, naval power, trade, and influence. Apollos' personal wealth now rivalled that of the Lannister family wealth, before it's massive growth due to his actions.
Sadly, none of the changes made by Apollos had prevented Robert from being an utter moron. Tywin still handed out money like it would buy him the kingdom and hadn't actually got anything in return but humiliation for Cersei and the family. House Lannister was lucky that Apollos could make money faster than it could be spent... How was this money made? Apollos basically invested in almost everything and made the Westerlands the go-to Kingdom for almost everyone's needs. His foreknowledge gave him a massive advantage and that enabled him to anticipate peoples needs far in advance.
The investments made in King's Landing recently began seeing small returns, technically massive returns since there was no money actually invested, but the Lannister's had recovered some of the money that Apollos secretly pocketed. Apollos had been abusing his powers to fortify the Westerlands much further and even render soil more fertile. He had used his power of molecules to create fortifications, and Apollos was incredibly happy that he acquired a power not unlike that of the Molecule Man and used it to his advantage. The soil? A mere thought enhanced it. The Westerlands were now largely self-sufficient and were buying much less food.
Apollos had proven such a capable ruler that parts of the Riverlands and their leaders wanted to become ruled by him. Sadly, they were bribed into staying loyal to their current lords and most bound more tightly with arranged marriages.
Apollos had already taken measures to expand his power and control to compensate for that failing...
Several of his children had inherited the ability to control dragons, which they were provided with on their tenth namedays or after when Apollos was sure that Velaryon and he had a major advantages over the other dragons and riders. The memories of his old life remained with him and he wasn't above considering betrayal from his on family and making counters for that. After all, Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades slew their father and kinslaying was all to common on Earth.
Apollos trusted the Targaryens even less, of course, but he recently gave them dragon eggs, horns, and instructions on how to hatch the dragons. He only trusted two 'Targaryens' more than the others... His illegitimate twin children by Queen Rhaella, named Daemon and Aethon, who he made sure to visit whenever he could. They inherited all Valyrian traits and their fathers immense magical power due to his manipulation of their genetics. Sadly, Viserys had an 'accident', when Apollos was conveniently nowhere near him and it couldn't be traced back to him. Viserys had to proven to be like his father and dangerously unstable, and he would have only gotten worse with age and experience and Apollos wasn't about to give that asshole a dragon to burn people with.
Apollos' children had already proven themselves in helping with the family businesses and Alexander and Percival had already married and fathered children of their own. Apollos used his free time to secretly advise and strengthen his other allies; such as Dorne, which enabled them to grow more powerful and more independant from the other Seven Kingdoms. He also continued his much more secretive plans, but that was for another time.
Apollos had committed himself to family and acquiring power in it's many forms. He had succeeded many times over and had even created several wonders worthy of documentation by Lomas Longstrider. A massive port covered in unbreakable glass, massive walls on the borders that were secretly able to keep out White Walker and withstand dragonbreath, five castles that each surpass that of Harrenhall in glory, beauty, and military function. He fortified the entire kingdom even! And that included most cities and resources! Apollos was most proud of renovating mountains into fortified versions of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, but more for practicality than beauty; they were massive greenhouses that could work even in the worst of winters due to magic.
But, Apollos wasn't trying to build gardens right now.
He was trying to build relationships and trading agreements, which was the reason he was nearing Winterfell. The official reason, anyway. Apollos wanted to confirm Jon's existence and hopefully convince him to join his family in Essos and possibly to marry his daughter who consented to an arranged marriage, if she got to confirm the mans worth before hand; which would most likely involve an intelligence test and a sparring session with him. Apollos' daughter Elizabeth was quite capable in combat with spears, rapiers, bows, daggers, and hand-to-hand combat. Truthfully, most of his children could probably defeat most knights in single combat.
As they neared the imposing, grim, yet strangely beautiful Winterfell, they all stopped so that the children could admire it. Even Apollos admired it and found it quite impressive, but forced himself to continue onto the castle and warmth. They were let through the gates and arrived near the Stark family.
"Welcome to Winterfell, Lord Apollos," Lord Stark said solemnly.
"Thank you for having us, Lord Stark," Apollos said in reply. "These are my children: Elizabeth, Hadrian, William, and Alistair."
"This is my wife Lady Catelyn, and these are my children: Robb, Sansa, Arya, Bran, and Rickon." Lord Stark said in reply.
"Where's the Imp?" Arya asked, incurring the annoyance and anger of her family.
"He will most likely be arriving with the royal party, my lady." Apollos said in reply. Arya looked annoyed at being called a lady, but just had to ask another question.
"How come you look so young? I heard you were my fathers age." Arya asked, receiving more shocked looks. Arya was so much like Lyanna that it was saddening, Apollos mused. She had no censor! It was easier watching the show and reading the books, but living in the universe formed greater attachments. Apollos now actually understood what people meant when they compared the two people. I saw Alistair discreetly admiring Arya and made a note to keep an eye on him; he liked the combative and outdoors types, while Apollos had no problem with such a union he would insure proper behaviour. After noticing Hadrian and Williams interest in Starks eldest daughter, Apollos decided they needed to watched more closely than Alistair and Arya.
"I don't age. The Septons call it a gift from the Seven. The sycophants who try to flatter me call me a god. I'm just happy that I won't get wrinkles or weaken with old age." Apollos replied. Granted he was lying. He had immortality and could kill most gods, and had killed hundreds of evil gods and added their powers to his own. The Stark's looked shocked by that admission. "May we come inside?"
"Of course," Lord Stark replied, seeming to just realize that we 'Southerners' weren't accustom to the cold.
After they were led inside, the servents escorted Apollos' children to where they would be staying, and Lord Stark and Apollos left to begin their talks in Lord Stark's solar, with Apollos catching a glance at 'Jon'.
"So you wanted to discuss trade?" Lord Stark asked suspiciously.
"Yes, Lord Stark," Apollos replied, "and a couple other ideas that might benefit the North." Apollos said as he opened his briefcase and removed notes and two maps of the North, handing one to Lord Stark. "My primary interest is creating a trading outpost near the sea near Moat Cailin and by the sea on the other side of that. I would be willing to create a road between the two, at my own cost, and widen that inlet by half a mile on each side. The idea I had is that it would be a tollroad for those who aren't citizens of the North and enable the Westerlands to shorten their distances in travel, for a price, and overall make more money faster. With the trading post near Moat Cailin, I'd like to station ships, but not soldiers there and shorten trips greatly."
"It sounds interesting, but what toll would you expect to pay?" Lord Stark asked, suspecting that Apollos was seeking to cheat him like his father would.
"It would really depend on the ships. I made a suggested toll which depends on ship size and cargo, which you can view here," Apollos said, pointing out a piece of paper. "That's hypothetical, of course, and to go back the way they came, with less cargo than last time it would cost less. There is also potential for other profits by building Inns, whorehouses, and places to eat. Granted, I don't expect them to be built, but the potential is there for profiting for your citizens. The North could profit greatly from this venture, Lord Stark." Apollos said.
"I see no reason not to agree," Lord Stark began. "You have been honest and this would do as you say. I have to ask, though, why are you seeking this now?"
"The Stepstones have a major pirate infestation and recently we lost an entire ship and it's crew. I could easily wipe out all the pirates, sellswords, and sellsails, but my father prefers to merely increase security. He did agree that I could seek out alternatives to that and this agreement would be a massive upgrade in travel time and cut our costs by a fair amount. You might even have the Reach and several other kingdoms want to use this trade route. The only way it could be made better is if it could be done entirely with ships, which is possible; though the North would also gain a last line of defense in the form of a massive moat."
Lord Stark looked incredulous.
"We can do that if you want. I was hoping to use sorcerers to construct both in days rather than years and it would be easily done and actually be easier for the Westerlands and benefit the North better." Apollos said. Secretly, he was going to create a duplicate or two of himself and get it done quick. He might actually let them watch him do it and simply prevent them from blabbing. "I think the sorcerers would agree; given that your people follow the Old Gods and accept magic more readily."
"I agree, if it can be done. How will this change your plans?"
"Well, the access points from each end would need to be defended, but that shouldn't an issue, and a bridge would need to be constructed for the Kingsroad and manned. It could be staffed with soldiers, given to new lords, or to your youngest two sons." Lord Stark looked intrigued by that. "It might be a little controversial, but I know how hard it is to ensure that all of your children get something from you and feel appreciated. I've been lucky enough to prepare several places for mine to control or oversee. My justification is that it prevents wars over succession and if necessary, I could always betroth a son to the daughter of the complaining noble."
"That sounds like a good idea. I will consider it. I have been wanting all of my children to receive something and have a secure futurel including my bastard, Jon." Lord Stark said, causing Apollos to raise an eyebrow.
"I know he's Rhaegar and Lyanna's son, Lord Stark," Apollos said, causing him to briefly panic. "I won't tell anyone, but if you want tell him, then he could get to know his fathers side of the family. As it stands, they believe he was stillborn or his mother died before or during birth and that he died too. They have spent years mourning him and I would like your blessing to tell them that he's alive."
"How did they survive? Your father claimed to have killed them."
"I sneaked them out before the army ever arrived, but father needed to prove his loyalty, so he faked it and murdered innocents and claimed they were the royals. That is one of the many crimes he must answer for." Apollos replied. "I tried to persuade my father into support a royalist faction loyal to Prince Rhaegar and even wrote to Rhaegar to have him form such a faction, but he refused. Had I gotten my way, Robert would be dead and Rhaegar would be king."
"Very well. You can tell them and I will inform Jon of his true parentage." Lord Stark said, before sighing. "I had hoped to give him a good life here and to protect him, like I promised his mother I would but I think him being free of the shame of being a bastard would be good for him."
"You did the best you could, that's all anyone can ask of you or that you can ask of yourself. You do realize that you could have legitimized him yourself right?" Apollos asked, getting a look of confusion from Stark. "The laws regarding legitimization say 'the king' but doesn't specify which king and legitimization predates the conquest of Aegon the Conquerer. Added to that, you are one of the kings of the Seven Kingdoms."
Lord Stark looked stupefied.
"When you tell Jon, and if he decides to join his paternal family in Essos, I'd like to give him three gifts. We would need to retrieve them from my secret vaults, but we can do that quickly, even from Winterfell." Apollos said.
"I'll call for him now," Lord Stark said. "You can stay for the conversation. You might need to answer some of his questions." Apollos nodded, secretly pleased to be included. Stark quickly ordered a guard bring Jon to his solar, and they continued business and trade talks.
Jon arrived minutes later, by which time Lord Stark had given Apollos leave to refer to him as 'Ned'. Truthfully, Apollos hated acknowledging peoples superiority in rank, so that was very kind and merciful of Ned to do.
"Please, sit down," Ned said. Jon quickly did so, though nervously. "There is no easy way to say this Jon, and I love you as if you were my own son, but your true parents were Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen."
Jon was shocked into silence, but Ned and Apollos gave him some time. They still had a week until the royal party arrived and could afford such generosity.
"I-i'm the by-product of rape?" Jon eventually questioned in horror.
"No!" Ned and Apollos answered quickly. Ned gestured for Apollos to take over.
"Your mother and father were in love, and he secretly annulled his marriage to Elia Martell and married her, the abduction was a lie, rumor, or misunderstanding by others. Elia told me this and she was surprisingly okay with it. The reason you're being told all of this is because the Targaryens still live in exile and are building up their power to retake the throne. They would happily welcome you and would love to get to know you." Apollos said.
"If you wished it, you could join them and free yourself from the bastard label that I so foolishly cursed you with." Ned said in support.
Jon was torn. He loved his family, the Starks, but hated his now fictional bastard status and now he had chance to leave it behind. He would also have to leave his family behind, but he would have done that by joining the Night's Watch too. This was his chance to prove himself... He owed it to himself and his family to take it.
"I'll join the Targaryens and get to know my other family." Jon finally answered, earning a pleased look from Apollos and a proud look from Ned.
"In that case, we should go retrieve your gifts." Apollos said, with an undertone of excitement.
"What are these gifts?" Ned asked in polite curiousity.
"Jon's choice in a dragon egg, a magic horn to help control it, and his pick of a Valyrian steel weapon." Apollos replied. Ned and Jon were both shocked! Valyrian steel weapons were priceless and he was giving them away! "Oh don't worry so much, I collect Valyrian steel like cheap whores collect diseases. I have several swords for him to choose from." Jon looked to Ned for advice.
"I advise you to accept them. If you one day no longer need the sword, you could always return it." Ned advised. Jon nodded.
"I can take you to my vault before dropping you by Essos, but I'm sure you want to say your goodbyes to your family first." Apollos said, before realizing something. "What will you tell your family? Because him being born Aegon Targaryen really needs to stay a secret." Judging by the looks on Ned's face, he hadn't thought of that either. "I have sellsword companies and several businesses that have need of security, so we could use one of those as a cover story."
"I would prefer the security one. I am no mercenary." Jon said, causing Ned to nod in approval.
"Well, I'll leave you both to say your goodbyes. Ned is it okay if I have my people get started on that canal?" Apollos asked.
"Of course, and Jon, Robb, and I will go with you. I'll arrange for men to man the locations afterward." Ned replied.
"In that case, I'll use my magic to get started. When you're all ready to go, I'll use my magic to get us there in moments" Apollos said.
Minutes later, when Robb arrived and had the situation explained to him, they teleported away.
Apollos arrived near the eastern side of the the North, near Barrowtown.
Apollos had given a lot of thought to this and opted to do it right the first time. Sadly, forty miles wide would be excessive at this time. "I was thinking a mile wide and with places for ships to pull over in case of over crowding, massive defensive fortifications, of course. This is an incredibly valuable investment and needs the best protection possible." The Starks nodded in agreement. "Get ready to witness history in the making," Apollos said, before kneeling and beginning to manipulate the earth on a molecule level.
Apollos began manipulating the incalculable amounts of earth... He formed the earth into massive walls, both in width and heighth; within those walls he created castles and even room for entire cities. The walls rivalled 'The Wall' guarding Westeros against the White Walkers in strength, and he included some surprises there too. Water sources were also created so that the future occupants could withstand siege.
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Three days later...
Apollos had finally finished the construction of the canal and it's defenses. It was second only to 'The Wall' in defensive strength; had nine castles/city complexes and four observational towers. The essentials were now all sufficiently manned and in time they all would be.
Jon had spent the past three days saying goodbye to his family and mentally preparing himself to leave. Most of his family seemed like they would miss him, though Lady Catelyn seemed quite glad to be free of him. Arya and Robb seemed to be the most saddened by his leaving. Though, thankfully, Arya and Apollos' daughter Elizabeth had been getting along quite well and Arya was learning combat from her and progressing quickly. Arya's sister and mother weren't thrilled, but they seemed to enjoy seeing Arya happy to finally be learning combat, and Alistair was all to happy to spar with her just to be near her, which was adorable. Elizabeth was always willing to help girls become strong women and hopefully prove themselves equals to men, and have men recognize it. Her father supported her in this and had never treated her like she was less important or capable than her brothers, and he taught her much of what she knew of combat.
"I'm ready to go," Jon said solemnly, having said his goodbyes to his family once more.
Apollos nodded and teleported them both and his Direwolf into his secret vault.
When they arrived, Apollos lead him past his priceless objects, and to the Valyrian steel weaponry.
"Pick one," Apollos said, pointing to the weapons. Jon began inspecting them, leaving Apollos to internally muse. He had already given Blackfyre and Dark Sister to Aegon and Rhaenys, and weapons to Daenerys, Daemon, and Aethon. Their loyalist knights had trained them in their usage since they were younger and they were now all capable fighters.
"I choose this one," Jon said, having chose a longsword, and drawing Apollos from his thoughts.
"Excellent choice," Apollos said. "Now you just need a horn that will help you control your dragon and a dragon egg."
"How are dragons controlled?" Jon asked.
"Binding spells, horns, whips, and just getting used to you." Apollos said, having chosen a horn in good condition for Jon. "Now you just need to pick an egg." Apollos said, before leading Jon to the very back of the vault.
"That is a lot of wealth," Jon said in awe.
"Yeah. I generally avoided drinking and whoring around and needed a distraction from my urges. That is just my personal wealth from wisely investing my allowances, gifts of money, and my profitable hobbies." Apollos said. One of those hobbies was also stealing wealth from pirates, ruins, slavers and people he merely disliked. Another hobby? Secretly mining small amounts of gold when convenient; especially that of other kingdoms and enemies.
They arrived near the egg collection and Apollos gestured for Jon to pick one. "The color of the egg implies the color the dragon will be, so maybe avoid a pink one if you see one." Apollos said, causing Jon to smirk. "You'll want to be alone when you hatch the egg, so that it can imprint on you alone and regard you as it's parent." Jon picked an egg.
"How big will it get?" Jon asked.
"Not sure, Velaryon is the size of Caraxes already, but I invested a lot of my time and effort into maximizing his health, growth, and exercise. Caging them up and starving them hinders growth." Apollos said. Truthfully, he had strengthened Velaryon much more than normal by linking his magic to him and feeding him some of it. Apollos suddenly heard massive footfalls and noticed Velaryon arriving from where he was exercising in another pocket dimension.
"Turn around and you can meet Velaryon, my dragon." Apollos said with a smirk. Jon obeyed and when he saw him, he was shocked, impressed, and very, very afraid. "I have distant Valyrian ancestry and descend from House Velaryon, the house is now extinct and I have no right or desire to use the surname, but I wanted to honor my ancestors in some small way."
"He's massive!" Jon said in awe, as Ghost cowered slightly behind him
"He's not even fully grown, either, and dragons grow until they die."
"Can you take me to meet my other family now?" Jon asked, not taking his eyes off Velaryon.
"Sure. I won't even tell anyone that Velaryon scared you," Apollos said teasingly. He teleported an annoyed Jon, Ghost, and himself to his secret refuge in Essos.
They arrived in a mountain range between the Braavosian Coastlands and Lorath, which Apollos christened Olympus, to everyone's confusion. He merely informed them that it was named after the home of some long gone deities. He turned one entire mountain into his palace/military base, created a natural looking canal in between the six mountains for a place to hide a small naval fleet and made it appear that the canal was interrupted by a mountain slide. He created internal plumbing, heating, and air conditioning. Apollos led Jon towards guarded door.
The guards bowed to them as they entered the base.
"Where are we?" Jon asked, taking in the base.
"A military base and palace that I created. I've been allowing the Targaryens and their loyalists to make use of it. I, like some ambitious young men, used to dream of ruling the world and established this base within Essos territory. I grew out of that and opted to make the Westerlands the most powerful in the Seven Kingdoms, but established several safe places for myself and those that I cared about." Apollos said as they neared the common area of the base.
They arrived near the common area and Apollos saw Daemon, Aethon, and Aegon all associating with their soldiers.
"Father!" Daemon called out, noticing Apollos. Aethon quickly looked over and saw him too.
"Hey, boys. How are you?" Apollos said, pulling them both into a hug.
"We are fine. Is everything okay or did you just come to visit?" Aethon asked.
"Everything is fine and I found your other nephew. I need to see your mother and the others to inform them." Apollos said, causing them to notice Jon. "Jon, these are my sons by Queen Rhaella: Daemon and Aethon. Boys, this is your nephew, Jon. He was also named Aegon at birth."
"Nice to meet you, nephew," Daemon and Aethon said in unison. "We will take you to the others. They were having 'girl time', whatever that means." Daemon continued, back to speaking for both as usual.
They led us to Rhaella's room and knocked.
"Come in," Rhaella's melodic voice said. Daemon opened the door and we all entered. "Hello, Apollos. Who is your young friend?" The Valyrian beauty who bore two of his children asked. She looked a lot like an older Daenerys, and that could be a lot of fun in the future.
"The son of Rhaegar and Lyanna. Formerly raised as the bastard of Eddard Stark and protected by him on Lyanna's dying wish." Apollos replied.
"I am so glad that you are alive!" Rhaella said happily. "Come closer! Let us get a look at you!" Jon did so nervously.
"I'll let you all get acquainted. I need to return to Winterfell before the Starks ask questions." Apollos said with a smile. The Targaryens were all finally reunited. Apollos just wished that Rhaegar was here to see it. He could resurrect him, of course, but he avoided abusing his power over that. That was why he didn't resurrect and then bring Natasha with him to this universe. What is dead should rightfully stay dead.