|Alias(es)||Rhaella Targaryen (allegedly)|
|Born||In 42 AC, at Casterly Rock|
|Died||In 56 AC, at King's Landing|
The World of Ice & Fire (mentioned)|
Fire & Blood (mentioned)
The Sons of the Dragon (mentioned)
Appearance and Character
As a young child, Aerea was a shy, timid girl, much given to tears, bed-wetting, and fears. She was frightened of horses, dogs, boys with loud voices, men with beards, and dancing, and terrified of dragons, according to Grand Maester Benifer.
Following the coronation of her uncle Jaehaerys at Oldtown, however, Aerea proved to be lively, quick-witted, and adventurous. She soon spent half her days in the kennels, stables, and dragon yards, leading to rumors that Aerea had switched places during her time at Oldtown with her twin-sister Rhaella, a novice at the Starry Sept in Oldtown. From then onwards, Aerea was regarded as having a willful and stubborn temperament and a bold tongue. According to Lord Rogar Baratheon, she had a "fire" in her. Archmaester Gyldayn likewise described her as a "fiery young girl". By the age of eight Aerea was reported to have loved horses, and would later say that the time she spent working in the stables of the Red Keep were the happiest years of her life.
Aerea loved the excitement of the Red Keep and all the clangor and color and tumult of King's Landing and the attention she received as the king's heir. She loved her horse, her hounds, and her friends. By the time she had turned eight, she had become the leader of a pack of young girls who terrorized the Red Keep.
During her time on Dragonstone, Aerea became a terror, defying her septa, mother, and maesters, abusing her servants, absenting herself from activities without leave, and insulting the people at her mother's court. She became eager to return to the royal court and is said to have counted the days until she could mount a dragon and fly away.
Maegor the Cruel
Aerea was born in 42 AC at Casterly Rock, where her father, Prince Aegon Targaryen, and her mother, Princess Rhaena Targaryen, were residing, hiding from the Poor Fellows who had risen in rebellion against House Targaryen.
Upon the death of Aerea's grandfather, King Aenys I Targaryen, the crown had been claimed by her uncle Maegor, who thereby usurped the claim of her father Aegon. Aegon finally went to battle against Maegor in 43 AC, but was killed in battle later that year. Rhaena disguised Aerea and her twin sister Rhaella and sent them away with allies. Not even Rhaena herself was aware where Aerea and Rhaella went. Both girls were found by Tyanna of the Tower, one of King Maegor's wives. When Rhaena was summoned to King's Landing in 47 AC to marry Maegor, Tyanna used the girls' presence to assure her cooperation.
Heir to the Iron Throne
Following the wedding of her mother, Rhaena Targaryen, to King Maegor I Targaryen, Aerea remained at Maegor's court, where Maegor declared her to be his heir until he sired a son of his own. At the same time, Aerea's uncle, Prince Jaehaerys, was disinherited by Maegor. In 48 AC Queen Rhaena escaped King's Landing in the dead of night upon Dreamfyre with Aerea to join her brother Jaehaerys.
When Jaehaerys took the Iron Throne following Maegor's death, his claim was contested by some who felt that Aerea, as her father's heir, had the stronger claim. Given her young age as well as her timid nature, even her mother Rhaena agreed that she was not fit to rule and agreed that Jaehaerys should be king.
Towards the end of 48 AC, Aerea traveled to Oldtown for the coronation of the king. Nine days after the coronation, Aerea accompanied King Jaehaerys on his way back to King's Landing. However, following the visit to Oldtown, Aerea's character quickly turned much into that of her sister Rhaella, a much more bold and willful girl, whilst Rhaella, who remained behind at Oldtown, became much more like Aerea had been. At the time, it was widely believed that someone had used the presence of both girls at Oldtown to switch them. This was never proven, however, and no one was inclined to question the potential deception, as Aerea (or now Rhaella disguised as Aerea) was the heir of King Jaehaerys I until he had children of his own.
In 50 AC, after he had failed to undo the secret marriage of King Jaehaerys I to his younger sister, Alysanne, Lord Rogar Baratheon suggested setting Jaehaerys aside before he reached manhood, and in his place crowning Princess Aerea. For this, Rogar was fired from his office by his wife Alyssa Velaryon, the Queen Regent. That night, Rogar's brother Ser Ronnal Baratheon and a dozen of his men forced their way into Aerea's chambers to take the girl with them to Storm's End. However, Aerea had already been removed and disguised as a common girl, her hair dyed a muddy brown. Aerea spent remainder of the regency working in a stable near the King's Gate, which she considered to be the happiest time of her life.
His first plot a failure, Lord Rogar then sent his brother Orryn to the Starry Sept at Oldtown to demand that the High Septon turn over Aerea's sister Rhaella to Storm's End, where he planned to force her to confess that she was the actual Princess Aerea, not Rhaella. Rogar subsequently hoped to crown her queen. However, this plot failed as well.
In 51 AC, Queen Rhaena Targaryen, Aerea's mother, visited the court of Jaehaerys I for Jaehaerys's second wedding to his queen, Alysanne. Following the wedding, she demanded Dragonstone as her own seat, and the return of Aerea, from whom she had been apart since Jaehaerys's coronation at Oldtown. Jaehaerys agreed to both.
Aerea moved with her mother, Queen Rhaena Targaryen, to Dragonstone, but she despised the place, as it was so different from the lively court at King's Landing, which she had loved deeply. Aerea had no memory of her mother, and Rhaena knew nothing about her own child. Aerea had been forced to leave her friends behind, and found no girls of her own age in the Targaryen castle, while she was not allowed to mingle with the smallfolk of the island. Where in the Red Keep she had received countless attention as the king's heir, the women on Dragonstone paid little attention to her, with the exception of Elissa Farman. As unhappy as Aerea was on Dragonstone, Elissa would often speak of returning to the "wide western seas", and Aerea would beg to be allowed to come with her.
Rhaena introduced Aerea to the dragons residing on the island, and encouraged her to claim one, so she could fly one day. With the dragons as the only friends she had on the island, Aerea began to count the days until she count mount one and fly away.
Although Queen Alysanne Targaryen had given birth to a son, Aegon, in 52 AC, the child had died three days after his birth. In 53 AC, Aerea was finally replaced as the heir of King Jaehaerys I Targaryen when Queen Alysanne gave birth to Princess Daenerys. Aerea was not pleased to be displaced by the young princess. By this time, Aerea had become willful and defiant, absenting herself from prayers, lessons and meals, and addressing the members of her mother's court with names such as "Ser Stupid", "Lord Pigface" or "Lady Farts-a-Lot".
The next year, Lady Elissa Farman, Aerea's only friend on the island, took her leave of Dragonstone. Although Aerea pleaded with Elissa either to stay or to take her with her, Elissa refused and left. After Queen Rhaena's companions and friends were murdered with poison by her husband, Ser Androw Farman, later that year, Queen Alysanne visited the island to give comfort to her sister and niece. Enraged, Aerea rejected the queen, stating that she did not care the women were all dead. She also voiced anger about Daenerys's position as heir to the throne, and about the fact that her mother had once placed a dragon egg in Alysanne's cradle, but had done nothing for Aerea but give her away as a young child, leaving her behind in order to go to Fair Isle. Aerea begged her aunt to take her back to King's Landing with her, but when Alysanne broached the subject with Rhaena, the idea was immediately rejected. Rhaena summoned Aerea that night, and they quarreled angrily. Aerea refused to speak to Alysanne afterwards.
Disappearance and Return
Aerea disappeared from Dragonstone towards the end of 54 AC, claiming and flying away on the dragon Balerion, who had made his lair on the island after the death of his previous rider, King Maegor I Targaryen.
Aerea's mother, Queen Rhaena, had believed that Aerea had returned to King's Landing, but upon arrival found that Aerea had not been seen. Ravens were sent to all the lords of the Seven Kingdoms, to report any sighting of Aerea or Balerion, and later the agents and informers that Rego Draz, the king's master of coin, had across the narrow sea were given the mission of finding Aerea and Balerion. Most reports proved useless, and none gave the desired result. Meanwhile, Rhaena flew her own dragon, Dreamfyre, across the Seven Kingdoms in search of Aerea.
As there was no sign of Aerea, King Jaehaerys began to fear she was dead, telling his small council that it was likely Balerion had thrown her off his back. Septon Barth disagreed, citing that Balerion would likely have returned to his lair on Dragonstone if he had suddenly been without a rider. As Balerion had nowhere been sighted in Westeros, Barth instead suggested they had gone east.
Aerea and Balerion were missing for more than a year, but finally returned to King's Landing on the thirteenth day of the fourth moon of 56 AC, with a severely-ill Aerea clinging to the dragon's back. She was almost unrecognizable; she was stick thin, and whatever clothes she still wore were nothing more than tatters. Her hair was matted and a tangled mess, and her eyes were bloody. After speaking "I never", Aerea collapsed. She was carried to Grand Maester Benifer by Ser Lucamore Strong of the Kingsguard.
Benifer treated Aerea in his chambers with Septon Barth, who had been summoned to administer the rites for the dying. Only the two men witnessed her last hours; the maester forbade all others, including the king and queen, from entering. Benifer gave Aerea milk of the poppy and, to reduce her fever, immersed the princess in a tub of ice, but nothing helped. She had arrived at the Red Keep in the morning. By the hour of the bat, after sunset, Septon Barth announced that Aerea had died. She was cremated the next day at sunrise.
It was announced that Aerea had died of a fever, which was only partially true. Ser Lucamore said that the princess's fever was so hot that he could feel it through his armor. She had blood in her eyes and her body had "something inside her, something moving", the knight said, until the king forbade him from speaking of the princess. Benifer left no account of Aerea's death, but according to an account in Barth's private papers, Aerea's fever was one unlike anything he had seen before. The septon described her as burning, with a red skin and having barely an ounce of flesh upon her bones, appearing gaunt and starved.
Barth reported that "swellings" moved underneath the princess's skin, possibly searching for a way to escape and causing a great pain. He wrote "I pray that I shall soon forget some of the things she whispered", and that she often begged for death. It seemed to Barth as if Aerea was cooking from within. Her flesh grew darker until it resembled pork cracklings; smoke came from her mouth, nose, and her nether regions. Aerea's eyes cooked within her skull until they burst. When the princess was lowered into the tub of ice, "slimy, unspeakable things" making horrible sounds emerged from under her skin—one as long as his arm—but the "creatures of heat and fire" died from the cold of the ice.
The origins of the creatures that lived inside Aerea are unknown. Barth speculated that Balerion, not Aerea, had chosen their destination; as likely the only living creature in the world that had known Valyria before it was destroyed in the Doom, Balerion had returned home, where accursed creatures as those found inside Aerea now lived.
A raven was sent to Queen Rhaena on Estermont, but by the time it arrived Aerea had already been cremated. Rhaena traveled to the Red Keep, where she took possession of her daughter's ashes. Although King Jaehaerys offered to have the ashed interred on Dragonstone with other Targaryens, Rhaena stated that Aerea had hated Dragonstone, and had wanted to fly. She took Aerea's ashes into the sky upon Dreamfyre and scattered them "upon the winds".
Following Aerea's death Balerion became the first dragon to reside in the Dragonpit, guarded by the new Dragonkeepers. Barth began studies that caused him to write Dragons, Wyrms, and Wyverns. He likely discussed the princess's death with King Jaehaerys, who issued an edict forbidding any ship suspected of having visited the Valyrian islands or sailed the Smoking Sea from landing at any port or harbor in the realm. Any Westerosi who visited Valyria would be executed.
Quotes by Aerea
I want to be with you, I want to sail the seas and have adventures.—Aerea to Elissa Farman
Quotes about Aerea
It has been three days since the princess perished, and I have not slept. I do not know that I shall ever sleep again. The Mother is merciful, I have always believed, and the Father Above judges each man justly... but there was no mercy and no justice in what befell our poor princess. How could the gods be so blind or so uncaring as to permit such horror? Or is it possible that there are other deities in this universe, monstrous evil gods such as the priests of Red R'hllor preach against, against whose malice the kings of men and the gods of men are naught but flies? I do not know. I do not want to know. If this makes me a faithless septon, so be it.—writings of Barth
- Fire & Blood, The Sons of the Dragon.
- The World of Ice & Fire, Appendix: Targaryen Lineage.
- Fire & Blood, Prince into King - The Ascension of Jaehaerys I.
- Fire & Blood, A Surfeit of Rulers.
- Fire & Blood, Birth, Death, and Betrayal Under Jaehaerys I.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Maegor I.
- Fire & Blood, A Time of Testing - The Realm Remade.
- Fire & Blood, Jaehaerys and Alysanne - Their Triumphs and Tragedies.