Ser Alesander the Grey
House Targaryen (specifically Naerys Targaryen)
Master of Ships of the Royal Navy, Captain of the Kraken Hunter
Alesander the Grey is a man of many masks. He is always a rather friendly man, with a flamboyance and flair for the dramatic. However, these are the only constants one might pin down if observing Alesander's public interactions. At some times he will draw upon his Greyjoy heritage, intimidating and violent. Other times will find Alesander acting the perfect courtier. In another setting one might find him intellectual and politically savvy, seeming more a scholar than a sailor for the moment. Rarely one might see him in a quiet and pensive mood. His most common mask is that which he refers to himself as, a 'dashing rogue,' trying his best to charm Ladies and barmaids alike out of their skirts and into his bed, silver-tongued and smooth.
Those few he allows close will know that Alesander's adaptable nature is the product of one defining trait in the man: a bone deep ambition, a drive to get as high up in the world as he can possibly manage; there is no real negativity to the trait, no ruthlessness or cuthroat ambition, just a pure desire for wealth and power for their own sake. Below that secret core there lies another truth buried even deeper: Alesander holds a love for tales of chivalry and has unintentionally taken a piece of it, to always honor oaths and promises, and made it a part of himself. Luckily he has a smooth enough way with words to make hints and possibilties sound like a promise to the unwary listener, but should one pin him down to making a true oath he will unfailingly keep to it even at risk of life and limb.
Alesander was born with the name Sigfryd Greyjoy, but later decided to take up a different moniker. He was the youngest child of Harrag Greyjoy and Jyana Goodbrother and was quite the opposite of the eldest Baelon in most ways: he loved to hear tales and read books where Baelon was always out wanting to fight or to learn how to do so better. At the age of eight, Sigfryd Greyjoy was sent to be a ward of House Stokeworth, made possible through his mother's connections made to the nobility in the Crownlands in her own years as spent as a ward learning courtly ways. The Stokeworths turned out to be firm supporters of the Targaryen and thus spent most of their time in King's Landing. There he found his imagination of what a city was like trumped by the reality. The sights, the sounds, the smells, everything threatened to overwhelm the poor boy until he remembered his dream of being a brave knight, slaying evil bandits and probably marrying a princess; such a knight would never be afraid of something so mundane as a city, so he could not show any fear or nervousness.
The young Greyjoy was soon added to the lessons of the Stokeworth children, both with their maester and their master-at-arms. Rather than the ways of fighting with whatever weapon is handy that reavers in training learned, Sigfryd was taught the arts of the knight: horsemanship, jousting, and fighting with sword and shield. Years of such a life left him dreading a return to the cold and dreary Iron Islands. A few months before his stay as a ward was to end, Sigfryd witnessed a momentous event that convinced him to follow his dreams. King Aegon III died and was succeeded by Daeron I, called the Young Dragon, with a coronation celebration that called in nobles from all around the land. The tourneys that accompanied the event certainly piqued Sifgryd's interest, but what was to follow was the crowing moment in his young life. The Young Dragon gathered a massive army and marched off to conquer Dorne; the magnificent display of the king and his knights parading through the town and the huge army column wending its way south left the Greyjoy child awed and inspired, dreaming of himself one day being at the head of such a glorious sight.
On his sixteenth nameday, when he should have returned home as per the arrangement his mother had with the Stokeworths, he sent a message by raven informing his parents that he would be remaining in King's Landing instead to pursue his own fortune. He scrounged and scraped to get by for that first month in the city, gravitating toward Flea Bottom where manual labor tasks were easy to find and the food was cheaper. Sigfryd decided that was not in fact the kind of life he wanted. One day while thinking about where he could go for better work, he had a sudden stroke of inspiration: the docks. He was a Greyjoy, after all, so the seas were in his blood, working on a ship would be easy money. Sigfryd was disabused of this notion soon enough. Oh, he did well enough working as a deckhand for the merchant ship he was hired by, but the pay wasn't anything to sneeze at. He was however surprised by how much he found himself loving the sea and life on a ship; he found quick friends among the crew, the rocking and rolling motion of the water soothed him rather than upset his stomach as it did to some, and he got to see many of the wondrous cities of the world in the year he spend aboard that ship. Though he still dreamed of fame and glory as a knight, ships and seafaring soon entered the equation as well; where other knights traveled the land on horseback to find adventure, Ser Sigfryd Greyjoy would ride the waves, fightings pirates, reclaiming stolen treasures, and probably marrying a princess after returning some precious heirloom to her.
Those dreams seemed to come to an end when the ship Sigfryd worked on was seized in Braavos and the captain imprisoned for smuggling, the customs officials having found a hidden cache in the hold full of Arbor gold wine. The Braavosi were kind enough to pay the crew out of the captain's pocket before sending them on their way. Though he had learned some Bastard Valyrian, and a few key words of the particular dialects of it each of the Free Cities used, Sigfryd was woefully unprepared to make his own way in such a place without a guide. Fortunately for him, the docks were more friendly to a foreigner than the city proper, with the mix of tongues from around the world speaking a smattering of a dozen languages in what was colloquially know as the Trade Tongue. An even greater boon was his fair aptitude for learning languages, becoming marginally fluent in the communicating on the docks and having a rudimentary skill with the Braavosi Low Valyrian after a couple months in the city. During this time he tried to find work on a new ship to no avail.
Luck turned in his favor one night when he witnessed a man get beaten and robbed in the city. Normally Sigfryd would not involve himself with the troubles of others, but the fellow seemed to be left in terrible shape and might had ended up dying without a helping hand. Being closer to the docks than any of the temples that might give the man medical attention, he hauled the poor bastard over his shoulder and went to find some guards or officials who would know what to do with a wounded man. The guards he found got quite excited when they looked at the beaten man's face, apparently recognizing him; from their chatter, Sigfryd pieced together that he was a man who had deeply offended one of Braavos' most influential courtesans, named The Dusk Rose, by raping and murdering one of her servants, and thus the man had a bounty on his head.
Rather than taking him to some traditional legal authority, the guards hauled Sigfryd and the rapist both to the lavish palace of The Dusk Rose. She was a gorgeous creature, seeming too sublime to be human, though she held a quite human glint of malice in her eyes when she saw who had been dragged before her. After conferring with the guards, she addressed Sigfryd, asking his name and what he wished as a reward for bringing her the other man. He took only a moment to think, deciding that this was going to be the start of his life as an important man and that his true name was unbefitting of a man such as himself, already self-aggrandizing his accomplishments. He introduced himself as Alesander, a name pulled from tales of chivalry he read in his youth, and asked her for a ship. She incredulously asked, fluent in the Common Tongue as luck would have it, if he thought that was what her reputation was worth, an entire ship for one favor. Drawing on all his charm and grace, he swept her an elegant bow and delivered his response with a sly smirk: "No, my fair lady, your reputation is worth far more than a mere ship, a heap of gold and jewels would barely to justice to your value. I ask only the price of my own meager honor."
And so Alesander, as he now thought of himself, acquired a sleek new ship, the hold packed with an assortment of trade goods compliments of The Dusk Rose. From further conversation with the courtesan, he gathered that she had a fondness for flattery, masculine arrogance, and foreign men; Alesander got the impression that had he been a rich and powerful man, the woman would have given him an extra special reward as well. He certainly still tried to acquire the pleasure, applying more flattery and claiming that he would die a sad and pitiful man should he not take the once in a lifetime chance to pluck the loveliest of roses. Though he left with that dream unfulfilled, he parted by opining that he would have to name his new ship after the beauty that stole his heart so that he could in this way at least claim to have been inside The Dusk Rose
. Thus did he leave Braavos a new man: Alesander, captain of his own ship, dashing rogue and enterprising trader. He proved the merit of that last title by using trade wisdom gathered in his time on the Braavosi docks to turn his one small ship and cargo into a trading galleon bearing full holds and three nicely sized chests full of gold and gems for his own personal profit in a matter of five years, a respectable turn of profit for even a well experienced trader.
At the age of twenty-two, now captaining the fourth incarnation of The Dusk Rose
, a quite large trading galleon boasting two medium sized ballistae and a crew including thirty fighting men for defense, Alesander found his fortunes on the rise once more. In a somewhat similar manner to his first turn of fortune, The Dusk Rose
came upon a ship being attacked by pirates southeast of Blackwater Bay. With the crews locked in combat, he sailed up alongside the hostile vessel and opened fire with ballistae and bows. To Alesander's great surprise, after the skirmish was wrapped up he saw it was a Greyjoy ship attacking a vessel flying the Targaryen flag. There he learned, from a raider with a gut wound that he promised a quick death and letting his body sink in the sea as was their custom, of the death of his parents and Baelon's rise to power. The victimized ship was transporting the septon of Oldtown to King's Landing for some special ceremony that Alesander never really understood the details of. With deaths in the crew and damage from the battle, the septon's ship would only be able to move at a slow crawl. Since he was heading that way himself, Alesander let them hook up a tow line to his vessel and pulled them the rest of the way to their destination.
Alesander went along his merry way with no thought to the matter, conducting his business as usual with the merchants of King's Landing, until a messenger sought him out a few hours later. King Baelor Targaryen required his immediate presence in the Red Keep for reasons unspecified. Though it was well known the King was a pious man, Alesander never thought he would gain an audience with the man just for helping one of the clergy. Upon arriving at the Keep he was surprised again: King Baelor knighted him in the name of the Seven, granting him a small parcel of land to the east of King's Landing on the shore of Blackwater Bay that included a small fishing village with an unimpressive manor house that had once belonged to a knight sworn to House Rosby. In a sort of homage to his Greyjoy roots, he took the name Alesander the Grey and adopted the sigil of a grey kraken on a field of blue. He swore his sword to the service of King Baelor Targaryen, promising to come and serve in the event of a war, and was given an open invitation to attend court as he pleased.
Rather than sit around in some pissant village twiddling his thumbs until he was called upon, Alesander decided to make real use of his time. He used the bulk of his hoarded wealth to purchase, outfit, and crew two new trading galleons, Baelor's Boon
and Grey Wind
. Most of the remainder went toward a place to stay in King's Landing and commissioning a suit of armor and a new sword. He spent his days investigating the city and visiting the Keep on days when the King held audiences. Alesander lived frugally in those first few years of knighthood, hoarding profits from his trading vessels until he could purchase new ones, using connections established throughout the Free Cities and Slaver's Bay to buy exotic goods for low prices, using connections newly forged in King's Landing to sell them high. During these sedentary years, the wayward son of House Greyjoy became a believer in the Seven, finding the sept to be a rather peaceful and rejuvinating place. He has some odd notions of the Seven that border on or cross into the heretical, such as the Maiden being an aspect of female sexuality as a whole rather than simply chastity, that praying to her to send the woman a pleasing bedmate is just as valid as praying to her to protect a maiden's virtue. Despite those little bumps, he is a moderately faithful believer, lighting candles in the Great Sept of Baelor every so often and attending ceremonies and sermons whenever able.
There came a point at which Alesander tired of living as a merchant rather than a knight, some four years after his knighting. He had over thirty ships of various sizes trading in his name at this point, turning over enough profit that he could live quite lavishly and still afford to acquire a new vessel every couple months should he wish it. With the steady foundation of a lucrative merchant career in his grasp, and no reason to doubt his ability to build a shining tower of gold upon that foundation, he instead went another way: the Royal Navy. Rather than taking the normal route into the naval forces by speaking to recruiters and working his way up the ranks, Alesander instead commissioned the construction of an impressive war galley, purposely made just a couple feet shorter than the Royal Navy flagship, the Breath of Valyria
. This news of course made it to the navy, and the Master of Ships himself came to find out what a knight turned merchant would be doing with a war vessel. The response was a surprise: he wished to become an officer of the fleet, giving his credentials as a veteran sea trader and promising another two such galleys for the fleet each year for the next five years, as gifts to the crown, not counting the one already in construction that would remain his private property. Being forced to deal with a peaceful king who refused to spend money on tools of war, like ships any larger than a rowboat, for the past half dozen years, the Master of Ships quickly agreed.
The Kraken Hunter
, named in a fit of dark humor by Ser Alesander, set out hoping to suit the name. With the ironmen growing increasingly bold as years passed without any strong intervention by the King, they founds a fair number of raider longship prowling the eastern cost of Westeros. He made no real secret of his lineage, flying his own kraken sigil when he went out to patrol, so many found Alesander to be something of a puzzle. He never balked from fighting his native people, never shied at having to kill them, and was never phased when those who connected his sigil to the common knowledge of a traitor Greyjoy and cursed his name with their last breaths. Ser Alesander earned many commendations and awards for his dutiful service to the crown, mainly through warding off the Iron Island raiders but also dealing with many other pirates and smugglers, building his reputation through the end of Baelor the Blessed's reign and the short rule of Viserys II.
In the thirty-first year of his life, the fifth year of his service in the Royal Navy, he attended the coronation of King Aegon IV and Queen Naerys. The last two of his promised war galleys were named in their honor: Aegon's Fist
and Naerys' Beauty
. Later in that same year came what Ser Alesander the Grey would later count as the third major stroke of luck that changed his life. Whilst on a routine patrol of the coast, three ships of the fleet that happened to include both the Master of Ships himself on the Breath of Valyria
and Alesander's own Kraken Hunter
. They encountered a surprisingly large ironmen party, nearly a dozen ships, and were forced to engage in combat. Despite their ship-mounted light siege weaponry sinking a handful, the raiders managed to board their ships and force melee on the decks. When the fighting started to turn against them, the ironmen cut their losses and made away with their five remaining longships and the third war galley. The Master of Ships was found with an axe buried in his skull, though Alesander came out of the battle with a wonderful prize: Marq Greyjoy, his own brother, a raider notorious for his piracy in the Narrow Sea, left on his ship's deck with a sword through the thigh. Rather than execute him on the spot, they took him to King's Landing to face the King's justice in person.
When Ser Alesander the Grey stood before the Iron Throne, his elder brother shackled beside him and forced to his knees, King Aegon seemed rather amused at the spectacle. He asked why a Greyjoy would turn over one of their own to be executed, why he hadn't let the man go free. Alesander did not hesitate before giving his answer: "I am no more a real Greyjoy than are you, Your Grace. I left the Iron Islands and all ties to them long ago. My loyalties lie with House Targaryen, now and forever. This man must die because he is an enemy of the Targaryens." The King took the answer as if it were of no import, that it was expected; Queen Naerys, however, seemed rather thoughtful and intrigued. A week later the King announced the replacement for the late Master of Ships: Ser Alesander the Grey. Whispered rumors said the decision had truly been made by the Queen, that she had forced his hand.
The following months were full of tormented conflict for the new Master of Ships. On the one hand, he truly had meant everything he said about his alliegiances; on the other hand, Aegon was a horrible failure of a monarch that couldn't keep his filthy paws off of any booze or women to cross his path. The fool was only kept from ruining the entire kingdom by grace of the fact that his vices kept him too occupied to attend most meetings of the small council. Alesander soon found himself placing more weight on the Queen's suggestions and commands than on Aegon's, seeing her as a real ruler where her husband is a cheap fraud. He sought out moments where he could express these worries to Naerys herself, at first with great reluctance for fear that she would denounce him for a traitor for having such thoughts. Though she was quite careful with words too, he saw that she was well aware of the King's failings and did not approve. Alesander began to drop hints that he would follow her if it came to a choice, told her many times that anything she asked of him would be done in a heartbeat, even going so far as to work toward fulfilling her suggestions and opinions on matters as if they were orders to see them done how she wanted, although always careful never to show his true loyalties to anyone by Naerys herself. If an order from the King came in direct conflict with his Queen's wishes, the Master of Ships would very reluctantly carry them out in such fashion. He explained his situation to Naerys during those occasions where they spoke alone, that he could not openly oppose Aegon least he be executed for treason. More than a year after being named Master of Ships, having tired of guarding his tongue to speak in only innuendos and hints, Ser Alesander the Grey swore an oath of fealty to Naerys Targaryen, not to her House or the crown as others would swear, but to the woman herself.
In the two weeks after giving his oath, the Queen invited Alesander to a couple private gatherings of nobles and those in high positions in the city, a courtesy she had never extended before. It was rather obvious that this was her inner circle of supporters, a group he was quite pleased to find himself in. Soon thereafter came what seemed a disaster: a lesser official of the Royal Navy informed him that a ship that had been under order to remain a port by a royal missive was sent out and lost by pirates, and that it had been holding a Valyrian artifact for the Queen; it was common knowledge that Naerys collected and almost worshiped items of Valyrian make. Cursing himself for the mistake, and whoever had forgotten to inform him of a bloody royal decree about one of the ships under his command, Alesander sent out everything he could spare to track down the pirates. Blackwater Bay was left with its usual few ships to ward off smugglers, but all shore patrols were diverted to the last known location of the lost ship, all of his own privately owned ships in port were crewed with men of the navy to join the search as well, and he offered a substantial reward in gold from his own coffers to whichever crew recovered the ship. Almost a week later, having no word of the lost ship, Alesander requested a meeting with Queen Naerys. When he met her in her solar, Prince Aemon the Dragonknight was there with her; the disappointment on Naerys' face said she knew exactly why he wanted to talk with her. Alesander started simply by saying he lost her ship and artifact, making no excuses for not receiving the order for the ship to remain in port, taking the blame upon himself. The Dragonknight interrupted by mentioning how upset the poor Master of Ships had been the past few days, how he'd gone to so much trouble trying to recover the ship. It was rather obvious at this point that the tale of a lost Valyrian object was a plant, a test for Naerys to see how honest and loyal the Master of Ships was. He was relieved, but that disappointment on the Queen's face was quite real; it seemed that rather than trying to hide and fix mistakes, it would be better to let her know immediately and truthfully, a lesson he took to heart.
Now, with the famine gnawing at bellies and unrest in the land at an uncomfortable high, Ser Alesander the Grey is one of the few that feel secure in a time of trepidation. The times being what they are, he is now making quite a tidy profit on buying foodstuffs from abroad and selling them to folks of the Seven Kingdoms. He is still careful not to let his true allegiance show to the public, following the King's rare direct orders but otherwise running the Royal Navy to Naerys' preferences. Whatever may come in the days ahead, one thing is certain in Alesander's mind: he is a devoted Queen's man through and through, and he will do whatever it takes to see her safe and secure, even at the cost of his own life.