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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Aidun

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It is my privilege to present to you another multiplayAAR from the same band of brothers that brought to you Seven Kingdoms and Blood & Fire. In our third run we are using a slightly modified version of [Relz] The Seven Kingdoms mod, which is about the world of Ice and Fire some two thousand years prior to events depicted in George R. R. Martin's books.

In our previous two runs we played in a single kingdom, where our writers took roles of king and his vassals. This time our players are in control of realms of their own. Our story is centered around these countless petty kings of Westeros, and we will tell you the tale of their rise and their downfall.

Our list of players:

Aidun**: The Little Cub (Game of Thrones AAR)
Andre Massena**: Fraticelli For the Win & ANSGAAR Reborn: A Divine Influence Succession Game
Andrzej I**: Gesta Capetingorum & Ætheling - An Anglo-Saxon CK2+ AAR
Asphyxion**: A Rising Star (A Game of Thrones AAR)
CABRALFAN27*: -
cosmeIII*: The Lone Wolf - AGoT AAR
cyrilreom**: The Line of Rhaegar - AGoT AAR & Not Quite So Many Kingdoms - A Game of Thrones AAR
dragoon1905*: The Annionas of Austria (Megacampaign), Anniona Universalis (Pt. 2), Anniona and Iron (Pt. 3), Imperial Hearts (Pt. 4 Austrian Image Heavy Mega campaign), Deus Ex Anniona (Pt. 5 An Austrian Image Heavy Mega campaign), The House of Ravens - A Norse Image Heavy Megacampaign & Without Honor - A Khitan Image Heavy Megacampaign
EtzelHoveri**: From Lords to Kings, The White Book, Tales of Tyrol, Aegon's Conquest AGOT AAR & Lord of the Tides AGOT AAR
Henry v. Keiper*: Rise of the Nerevarine [An EK Mod AAR] , The House of Threedrop [A Game of Thrones AAR], The Sun and the Lion: A Fascist Iran AAR & Valyrian Steel: A Game of Thrones Mod AAR
President Cucumber*: -
Siralus*: Enig og tro til Dovre faller: A Norway Death & Taxes AAR, Ours Is The Beauty - A custom house GoT AAR from Aegon's Landing onwards. & None Struck Faster - A GoT mod AAR.
Twighlight Array 17*: The Lonely Fawn, A Tale of Shireen-An AGOT mod AAR
Zamarak*: Dan Kukati and the rebirth of Qesani

*Participated in Seven Kingdoms - A Game of Thrones MultiplayAAR (2014 - 2015)
*Participated in Blood & Fire - A Game of Thrones MultiplayAAR (2016)
 
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Aidun

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Player roles in each session:
Session 1, 16th September 2017.
Years 6566 - 6583

Aidun: House Royce
Andre Massena: House Stark
Andrzej I: House Yronwood
Asphyxion: Absent
CABRALFAN27: House Banefort
cosmeIII: Absent
cyrilreom: House Hoare of Bear Island
dragoon1905: House Velaryon
EtzelHoveri: House Badics
Henry v. Keiper: Absent
President Cucumber: House Hightower
Siralus: House Grimm
Twighlight Array 17: House Arryn
Zamarak: House Peake

Table of contents
House Hightower - by President Cucumber
Prologue
1: 6566 - 6569

House Peake - by Zamarak500
Prologue
1: 6566 - 6567
2: 6568 - 6569
3:6569 - 6572

House Royce - by Aidun
Prologue
1: 6566
2: 6566 - 6570

House Velaryon - by dragoon9105
1: Landing
 
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Zamarak500

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HOUSE PEAKE 0: PROLOGUE TO THE MARCHES


Sample of The Chronicles of the Marches, written by Maester Jonos


The Marches is the name often given to the region that stand between Dorne, the Stormlands and the Reach, although its existence as a separate entity from the Stormlands or the Reach as often been put into question by maesters over the centuries. The locals of the region call themselves the “Marchers” and are culturally closer to the Stormlanders. During the Andal invasions, many Andals settled in the Marches and intermingled with them, although the Marchers remained faithful to their Old Gods.



By the late 64th century, the Marchers began to fear the growing influence of the Storm Kings over the region. Alone, the various Marcher lords also failed to protect themselves from the raids coming from the south. The Marchers, alongside various small Reachmen lords who refused the rule of House Gardener, joined force in the year 6386 to unite as a single political entity. This new Kingdom of The Marches.

However, the two groups could not reach an agreement when it came to the choice of a king for the newly formed kingdom. The debate turned into a series of small conflicts between various sides of the argument. During those 4 years, the kingdom would be ruled by a council of lords and nobles who would make the day to day decisions and administrate the realm.



On the first day of the first month of 6390, the dispute was finally put to an end with the elevation of Gormon Peake as the new King of the Marches. Three factors were taken into consideration for the choice of Gormon as king. First, his lineage. House Peake was one of the oldest houses of the Reach, descending from Florys the Fox, daughter of Garth Greenhand, High King of the First Men. The second factor taken into account was his power. Gormon was only in control of the small castle of Starpike and had little to no power in the realm. Due to his weakness, Gormon was not seen as a threat by the stronger lords of The Marches. Finally, Gormon's massive popularity among both the peasants and the nobility also played a role into his selection.

Gormon would be crowned at Dunstonbury, which would now hold the coronation of each King of The Marches. Dunstonbury was given to Gormon as a gift following his coronation. Although The Marches now had a king in the Reachman Gormn Peake, the Council had no intention of relegating power after ruling as the de facto masters of the Marches for four years. Because of this, the powers of the King would remain dependant of the Council, who would have the right to vote and oppose the decisions and the laws put forward by the monarch.



...



Gormon of House Peake, First of his name, King and Defender of the Marches, Protector of the Marchers and Reachmen.


Gormon the First was born in the year 6360. He was raised in the army and trained to become a great strategist. He was noticed for both his talent in military command and battle tactics. He was known for his sense of humour, his complete thrust into others and for his compassionate personality.

He made a first appearance in the history of The Marches during the 4 years regency following the creation of the kingdom, supporting the claim of a fellow Reachman, the Lord of House Ashford, in his attempt to claim the throne, but was defeated by the armies of House Carron.

Gormon ascended to the throne in 6390 at the age of 30. His immense popularity with the general population and the lords of The Marches allowed a reign of peace, during which the King and his council built the foundations of the Kingdom of The Marches. He ruled for 31 years, dying at the age of 61.



Unwin of House Peake, First of his name, King and Defender of the Marches, Protector of the Marchers and Reachmen.

Unwin the First was born in the year 6390, shortly after the coronation of his father, Gormon the First. As a Prince, he was trained to become a man of diplomacy and politic, but lacked any affinity in it, instead preferring the intrigues of court politics.


Unwin ascended to the throne in 6421 at the age of 31. As a king, Unwin lacked the heart and humility of his father. He was brutal in is way of dealing with the populace and highly unpopular with among his bannermen. His various attempts to seize more power for himself at the expense of his council lead to the revolt of the Marcher lord during his late years, resulting into the faliure of his various plans. He ruled for 26 years, dying at the age of 57.



Lorimar of House Peake, First of his name, King and Defender of the Marches, Protector of the Marchers and Reachmen.


Lorimar the First was born in 6411. He was 10 when his grandfather Gormon the First died and his father Unwin the First was crowned. He was an ambitious man, who was known for his social skills and his talents for administration. He was the favourite grandchild of Gormon the First.

Lorimar ascended to the throne in 6447, at the age of 36. Through his personal charisma and his political skills, Lorimar was able to achieve the dream of his father and gain more power for the crown. Under the reign of Lorimar, the Council was relegated to a consultative role, allowing the king to take decisions even if they went against the wish of the council, although there is no mention of such event happening during the reign of Lorimar. He ruled for 33 years, dying at the age of 59.




Gormon of House Peake, Second of his name, King and Defender of the Marches, Protector of the Marchers and Reachmen.


Gormon the Second was born in 6436 to the wife of Lorimar the First. As a prince, Gormon served in the army, were he was incredibly popular with the soldiers due to his bravery and his disdain for the general nobility. He was noted for his zealous faith in the Old Gods and his ruthlessness.

Gormon ascended to the throne in 6470, at the age of 34. His reign was marked by harsh and cruel laws as well as the religious persecution of the Faith of the Seven. Because of this, he passed the last years of his reign in a small conflict with the newly created Kingdom of Wendwater, lead by the Water Prince Josua, a believer of the Seven. Gormon ruled for 30 years, dying at the age of 64 while on campaign against Wendwater.



Gormon of House Peake, Third of his name, King and Defender of the Marches, Protector of the Marchers and Reachmen.


Gormon the Second was born in 6458. As a prince, he had a small interest in books, but was otherwise lacking in his studies. He was seen as fair by his contemporaries, and remain famous for his high sense of honour. His bookish attitude put him at odd with his father, Gormon the Second, a brutish man who lived by his army. When his father entered in conflict with the Waterprince of Wendwater, Gormon was forced to come with him on campaign.

Gormon ascended to the throne in 6500, at the age of 42. After his coronation, he ended the war with Wendwater and signed a peace deal with Water Prince Josua. Gormon put an end to the religious persecution that had occurred during his father's reign. He also had to face a series of rebellions against his rule, which he always crushed with a brutality reminding of his father. He ruled for 19 years, dying at the age of 61.



Lorimar of House Peake, Second of his name, King and Defender of the Marches, Protector of the Marchers and Reachmen.


Lorimar the Second was born in 6480. Raised during the reign of his grandfather Gormon the Second, e turned out to be an excellent student of the old texts. A kind and brave man, he was often favoured by his grandfather over his father, Gormon the Third, who was seen as a disappointment by the king. When Gormon the Second lead his army against the Water Prince of Wendwater, he left Lorimar as regent of Starpike.

Lorimar ascended to the throne in 6519, at the age of 39. The new king turned out to have more interest into studies and personal pleasures than in the affairs of the state. He often secluded himself from the court, either to study old books or pass time with one of his many mistresses. Because of this, the day to day affairs of The Marches were often leaved into the hands of the Council. He ruled for 17 years, dying at the age of 56.



Unwin of House Peake, Second of his name, King and Defender of the Marches, Protector of the Marchers and Reachmen.


Unwin the Second was born 6500, shortly before the death of his great-grandfather Gormon the Second, although the old king never met his great-grandson because he was on campaign at the time of the birth. During the reign of his father, Unwin participated in the affairs of the state with the council, proving his sense of justice and his care and efficacy in working.


Unwin ascended to the throne in 6536, at the age of 36. During his reign, he was well loved for his hard work and his just laws. A zealous believer of the Old Gods, Unwin attempted to fight the growing popularity of the Faith of the Seven in his kingdom and his administration, although he always refused to bring back the religious persecution of his great-grandfather. He had three sons, Titus, Olyver and Gormon, and a daughter, Alyssa. He did his best to pass his zeal to his children by raising them by the way of the Old Gods. He ruled for 24 years, dying at the age of 60.



Titus of House Peake, First of his name, King and Defender of the Marches, Protector of the Marchers and Reachmen.


Titus the First was born 6535 and was the eldest son of King Unwin “the First”. Titus was trained to be a general in the armies of The Marches, and soon became both a great strategist and a great warrior. He was known to be quite sympathetic and thrusting of others, always seeing the good in everyone.

Titus ascended to the throne in 6560, at the age of 25. Before he became king, he was convinced by many followers of the faith of the Seven to convert, including the Lord Wyman Merrywater, one of the strongest Reachmen of The Marches. Titus had his coronation organized by a septon, and after being crowned converted alongside his family to the Faith of the Seven in a grand ceremony. Some of the smaller lords followed his initiative and converted as well, but the most powerful Marcher lords continued to venerate the old gods.

In the year 6566...



PS: This is mainly just an intro that serve to explain some of the stuffs of the Kingdom of the Marches. Like, for example, why the vassals have so much power. The Kingdom of the Marches is a mess of contradictions and lore problems, so I had to take some liberties for the backstory since I couldn't use the real lore of GOT for most of it, either because there was nothing on it (most of my vassals only have lore for the Targaryen period) or because the mod contradict itself (In the lore, Dunstonbury was taken from House Manderly by House Peake when they fled north. In the game House Manderly still serve the King of the Reach, but I have Dunstonbury).
 
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Twighlight Array 17

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I really like the alternate history you have created for House Peake and the Marcher Kingdom. Considering how little you probably had to work with, what you've done here shows a great deal of imagination. Just some constructive criticism; there are some spelling mistakes, most notably the below.
He was known for his sense of humour, his complete thrust into others and was known for his compassionate personality.
 

Zamarak500

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HOUSE PEAKE 1: PRINCE GORMON PEAKE
6566-6567


Sample of The Chronicles of the Marches, written by Maester Jonos


Prince Gormon Peake, third son of King Unwin the Second, was born in 6542. He was a difficult child and a deception to his father compared to his brothers, lacking Titus's prowess in battle or Olyver's expertise for diplomacy. His only talent was in sword fighting, as he was trained by his brother Titus, who Gormon respected greatly. Among the peasants and commoners, he is remembered as a great friend of the people due his large donations to the them and their businesses, while in the nobility, he was seen as an arrogant brat who acted like a king and who passed more time in the brothels than in the court.


Prince Gormon Peake


“My Prince, the King is...”

“My brother is waiting for me, so get out of the way, you moron.”

Gormon then smashed the head of the young guard on the wall, pushing him aside to be allowed access to the door. He turned to the other guard, clearly scared by the excess of violence from the prince

“And if one of you ever talk back to me again, I'll have you both executed. Understood?”

The soldiers nodded, clearly afraid of the threat the prince just made. Satisfied, he entered the meeting room, in which he could clearly hear his brothers talking.

“Where is Gormon? I though he was supposed to be here...”

“You know him He's probably still at the whorehouse, as usual.” said Olyver, shrugging of the question.

Well, to be fair, he had just come out of a brothel. But still, hearing Olyver mocking him like that was clearly insulting. As he appeared in front of his brothers, he gave a grave look to Olyver, who simply backed down with a smile, unwilling to start a confrontation with Gormon in front of Titus.

“So, what's the big news, Titus?”

The king was clearly jubilant about the news. Gormon just hoped it wasn't something as stupid as last week, when Titus called him and Olyver to told them about the marriage between their sister Alyssa and Prince Triston Hightower, the heir to the Kingdom of Oldtown. Although he was happy to see his annoying sister go, Gormon had no idea why Titus had allied himself with the Grey King of Oldtown. Plus, he had no love for the Grey King, Damon “the Devout”, a fanatical follower of the Seven. Personally, he only converted because his brother did and did not care about the Seven, so dealing with a zealot with so much power was not something he looked forward to.



“You know who is Water Prince Jon the Second?” asked a smiling Titus.

“Of course.” answered Gromon.

“I've arranged the betrothal of my little Malora to his second son, Prince Jon Wendwater.”

This was a shock to everyone in the room. House Peake and House Wendwater had never been on great terms since the war between King Gormon II and Water Prince Josua, and although no conflict had been declared since those days, many in The Marches were still hitching to avenge the kingdom for the humiliating treaty of 6500.

“You're kidding, right? That's House Wendwater we're talking about, those pigs from the coast. And you want to marry your daughter to them?”

“I think what Gormon means,” said Olyver, who stepped in front of his younger brother, “is why? Your predecessors were never on good terms with the Water Princes..."

“Well, maybe it is time to build some bridges between our two kingdoms. I've already shown that I want my reign to be a new turn for The Marches, and this is a good opportunity. The Water Prince seems to be of thinking the same way.”

“Of course he's thinking the same way! He's like you!”

“What do you mean by that?” said Titus, clearly perplex about the meaning of Gormon's words.

“Well he an idiot who thrust everyone around him, believing like a moron that everyone as some good in... You know what, forget it. You'll get along just fine.”




About two months after the news of the betrothal, Titus summoned once his brothers again in the middle of the month of May. He had a serious face that also looked worried. Gormon remembered that Titus usually have this expression when he's worried that his brothers will disapprove his actions.

“So, what do you need from us, Titus?”

The King threw a big letter on the big table that sat in the middle of the room, signalling Gormon to read it. The prince did as his brother asked, and took a look at the letter.


Good kings of Westeros, House Royce needs gold to muster an army in defence of their realm. Any aid is welcome. House Royce remembers.


The letter held the official seal of Runestone's court, and it was signed by the Bronze King himself. It was obviously a real one, and not some fake letters written by bandits and thieves. As Gormon was finishing reading, Olyver took the letter out of his hands, clearly tired of waiting after his younger brother. Titus, who was waiting patiently for his brothers to finish reading, finally continued.

“According to our spymaster, the neighbouring kingdoms also received those letters, and we can assume every king in Westeros got one.” He then took a moment of silence before finally saying: “I'm gonna send the money. The Bronze King put his thrust into the kings of Westeros, and I will not fail that thrust.”

Gromon and Olyver looked at each others, clearing waiting for the other to talk first. It was finally Olyver who broke the silence, and his words clearly went in the direction Titus hoped they would.

“A just king with a just cause. I say send the gold.”

Titus then turned to Gormon, clearly worried that his brother would not support the idea.

“Look, Gormon, I know you won't...”

“No, I agree. He want the gold, then send it.”

Titus was happy to learn that his brothers had his back, and soon after the money asked by House Royce was sent to the Kingdom of Runes and Mountains, with Titus simply asking that it was “put to good use”.




In the middle of the year, the entire court was celebrating the pregnancy of Queen Rylene Merryweather, Titus's wife. Well, everyone except Titus's brothers. Both of them, Gormon especially, had no love whatsoever for the Queen. It was clear to everyone that she always wanted to be married to a powerful man, and it made the brothers wonder if the great project that Titus had in mind were due to his own ambition or the ambition of his scheming wife.

Gormon also believed that Rylene was cheating on their brothers, an act he could not forgive. When they all converted to the Faith of the Seven six years ago, Titus decided to prove his conviction by fighting his carnal desires, something Gormon found incredibly stupid. After all, why miss on all the fun women could bring?

It seemed like Rylene was not amused by the newly found chastity of her husband. This strained their relationship, and now rumours were spreading that she had multiple lovers among the court and the Council. Olyver and Gormon had tried many times to convince Titus of it, but the King just brushed it off as a bunch of funny jokes at the expense of his wife. For Gormon, she was just a slut using her brother for her own ambition. He was also convinced that all her children were just bastards she had with her lovers and passed as the kids of poor Titus, and this one was no exception.

Still, Gormon could find consolation by constantly intimidating his sister-in-law. Se was surprisingly afraid of any conflict, and the prince took advantage of it each time he found himself with her, menacing both verbally and physically just for the fun of it. Who know, maybe if he was rough enough he could cause a miscarriage. That would serve her, the witch.




On the first days of the year 6567, the Grey King of Oldtown invited them to his home for a massive celebration of the union between House Peake and House Hightower. Because of the many affairs to deal at home, Titus and Olyver were only briefly able to attempt the marriage of their system Alyssa, while Gormon just didn't bother show up. Now, Damon “the Devout” was organizing massive celebrations to celebrate their alliance, which seemed weird to Gormon. There was probably something else, other than the joy of seeing each others, but he was unable to guess what it could be.

They remained many weeks in Oldtown. First because Rylene, who came with them, gave birth to a daughter during the celebrations. Gormon didn't even bother to show up for the birth, still hoping that the girl would end up dying of childbirth, and instead enjoyed a nice day in the slums, giving great ttips to the local prostitutes.
Second was because Titus became friend with one of the other guests of House Hightower. Prince Paxter Redwyne, the heir of The Arbor, turned out to have a lot in common with the King of The Marches, and soon the two men would start sitting side by side during the feats and pass their days training, talking and visitng Oldtown together. A friendship for the ages. Unlike Olyver, who simply drown his jalousy of Prince Paxter with the wine of Oldtown, Gormon went with his life, trying to forget about Redwyne by spending more and more town in the whorehouses.



Shortly before their departure, Gormon was invited by Titus to a meeting with the Grey King of Oldtown. There, it finally became clear to him why his brother as been building such a powerful alliance with Oldtown. Both King were planning to invade the Reach and divide its land between themselves. Gormon and Olyver simply sat in the back, listening silently to the discussion between the two monarchs.

“...I think we can both agree that the Reach is a wall to our ambitions.” said Titus, “A wall that must be torn down.”

The grey king nodded in agreement. “On that we can agree. We should strike swiftly, before Grimm decides to bend his knee to the green hand. Together we can outmatch the Gardeners. If the Shield Islands submit, it would tip the scales back in their favor.”


Grey King Damon "the Devout"

Ah yes, though Gormon, that rumour. There was some talks that the Shield Islands would submit to the Reach and become another bannerman of House Gardener. This would indeed be a bad thing for the two kings if this happened, although the prince himself did not care. After all, there was no chance that Titus would give him any role to play in their upcoming war, and so Gormon would once more sit in the castle, waiting for his personal ego to heal while his brother would be on the battlefield.

The two monarchs then talked troops, numbers and tactics, something Gormon had not interest in. It took a few hours for the meeting to end, and at the end of it, the Grey King simply smiled, saying one last thing before House Peake leaved.

“Go home and call your banners. We have much work to do.”
 
Last edited:

Montezuma II

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Ahh, I remember both the Seven Kingdoms and Blood and Fire, I'm most certainly going to keep an eye on this, glad to see this back!
 

Saxon125

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I looked forward to the chapters that follow. Subbed :)
 

President Cucumber

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House Hightower - Prologue

Damon’s knees were raw from kneeling, having been at prayer for nearly his seventh and final hour. He was in a small, seven-sided chapel room beneath the great Sept of Oldtown. The Sept was an immense structure, with the same seven sides as his prayer room. Its walls were thick, mortared stone, crude and unyielding. On each of the seven sides were carved with a likeness of one of the Seven. Damon’s current surroundings, however, was bare stone, so as not to distract the penitent from meditation. Damon Hightower was bent over his knees, with his eyes held tight in prayer as he faced the wall opposite the door.

“Father above, enable me to bring your righteous justice to my humble world. Mother, have mercy on my sinful soul we are all weak before the Seven. Warrior, give strength to my arms, so that I may vanquish the wicked and drive the unholy from this world. Smith, shield me from my foes, they are agents of demons. Maiden, protect my only daughter, my lovely Malora. Crone, grant me the wisdom to lead my people ably. And Stranger… spare my family from your service, and I will send you the armies of the first men as my sacrifice to you…” Damon spoke the words softly to himself. Alone in the room, the sound of his own voice resonated around the room, a deep break in the still silence. When he finished he tried to clear his head of thoughts but it was no use. Damon’s mind could never be content to silence. Just when he finally seemed to reach a state of clear-mindedness a sharp rap on the door broke him from his trance.

A tall, austere septa opened the door and poked inside her gaunt face. “Your Grace?”

The formality reminded Damon that he indeed was a King, though looking down at himself he hardly looked the part. His straight black hair fell loosely on his head, matted with sweat and grease. Damon’s fine cheekbones, and sharp blue eyes were distracted by the gaunt look his face had adopted after seven days fasting. A coarse, wiry beard covered his face as well, well trimmed and neat so as to maintain a kingly look. Standing to face the septa, Damon was a tall and powerfully made man, born to swing a sword in service of his holy Seven. The fast had not sapped his strength. He was not dressed like a king either, having adopted a plain, roughspun tunic and simple trousers to complement them. Curtly, Damon spoke, fixing the septa with a hard look. “Yes?”

She came into the room fully, dressed plainly in a septa’s robes. “His Holiness is ready for you.”

Damon nodded, and followed her as she led him through the narrow corridors beneath the Oldtown’s Sept. Occasionally a poor fellow, or some other septa or septon passed them, but no one so much as looked at the man who was their king. Damon thought that odd but said nothing; the ceremony to come had all of Damon’s focus.

They came out into the main room of the Sept of Oldtown, large and empty save a stone altar in the center of the room, seven-sided like so much else in the building, as well as an altar before each side of the sept, with room for candles and a likeness of the face of god it represented carved into the stonework. A large oak door was closed to Damon’s left.

The High Septon was waiting beside the center altar, a kindly old man who almost looked a pauper. His robe was as plain as all the other septons and septas. The only ornamentation he afforded was a small crystal hanging from a silver chain, a gift from King Damon Hightower himself. Two Poor Fellows attended him, and seven knights armored in silver armor and rainbow cloaks stood vigil before each individual altar; Warrior’s Sons.

Damon’s eyes found his two sons near the door, Princes Triston and Otho Hightower. The former was his eldest and heir, deadly with a sword and utterly devoted to the Seven above. He would make a fine king. Otho was handy with a sword as well, though little else, but both had done him proud by becoming anointed knights. They stood guard near the door, resplendent in their own silver-inlaid armor fixed with fine grey wool cloaks. A young boy was dressed plainly in white, with soft brown hair and eyes the same color. That was his nephew, and page, Harlan Hightower. He’d make a knight one day.

“Your Grace,” said the High Septon, speaking softly, yet clearly. “Are you ready to pledge your body and soul to the Warrior? To become a sword in service of our seven faced lord above? To mete out the Father’s justice with your arms, to protect the Maiden’s innocents, and oppose those who deny the Crone’s wisdoms?”

Damon prostrated himself before his Holiness, his forehead kissing the cold stone floor. “Your Holiness, until my life’s blood drains from my body I will live to serve the Seven above.”

“Then rise, my child.” The High Septon drew King Damon to his feet and nodded to one of the stars, who pulled Damon’s tunic over his head and tossed it aside. The boy Harlan came silent as a mouse with Damon’s wineskin. His Grace insisted the High Septon pardon him to become well and truly drunk for the procedure. He wanted to feel nothing and remember less. Damon took it eagerly and drained it, the sweet taste of an Arbor gold spilling from his mouth. The King wiped his mouth clean as he was bid to lay on the center altar, as the poor fellows and the High Septon prepared the ceremonial instruments. Damon closed his eyes as the wine made his mind swim.

Finally the High Septon appeared standing above him. He began to pray softly, murmuring more invocations of the Seven’s many gifts. As he did so he anointed Damon with the seven oils of the faith while a poor fellow lit candles at each corner of the altar. The room smelled sweet and the oils felt almost soothing on his head, a welcome coolness in the stuffy heat of the Sept. Summer raged outside.

The other poor fellow began to rub a cool salve all over his chest. The feeling covered him in goosebumps, and Damon knew what was about to happen. When the salve was on the star left, and returned shortly later with a slender, razor sharp knife.

“I mark you, in the light of the Seven,” the High Septon declared. He took the knife from the star and commanded them to grab an arm. Two more burly looking poor fellows were summoned to hold Damon’s legs as well. The septa from earlier appeared and placed a small wooden block in his mouth.

Gingerly, his high Holiness himself dug the dagger shallowly on a spot on Damon’s upper chest. The pain was sharp, and Damon winced, but it was only the first cut of the process. Steadying himself with his other hand on Damon’s chest, the High Septon drew the knife down carefully, and for Damon, excruciatingly slow. Biting hard on the wooden piece, it was all Damon could do to hold back from screaming or sobbing. It felt as though his Holiness was moving in slow motion, each millimeter misery.

The stifled grunts, and occasional groans were the only noises to fill the Sept as the rest watched the bloody work impassively. Prince Otho Hightower shifted uncomfortably, but otherwise nobody else reacted. Prince Triston watched his father with a zealous admiration.

Damon’s chest was a slick, red mess, but the High Septon kept his hands surprisingly steady for a man so seemingly frail. The poor fellows had been well versed in this practice, and though Damon thrashed against them stronger than most, the holy men held their grasp firm. The pain swam in Damon’s head like nothing he’d felt before, so slow and deliberate. The wine he had thought would help dull his pain had done nothing of the sort, the pain of being carved alive having shocked the sensations right out of him. He was sure he’d crack all of his teeth and lose them in the wooden piece in his mouth. More than once Damon declared in his head this whole debacle a great folly, but naturally it would not do to leave the job half done.

And then suddenly, the debacle was done. His Holiness stepped away and marveled at his work. The poor fellows too released Damon from their grip and he lurched to his feet unsteadily. The pain was throbbing, he could feel the cool air against his newly made scars. The nephew, Harlan, brought forth a large silver looking glass, and Damon saw his reflection: his chest was covered with blood and his face was gaunt from pain. A septa wiped his chest clean, and before more blood set in for a moment Damon could see the artwork rendered on his chest, a surprisingly clean cut seven-pointed star on his chest. Suddenly the dull ache of the pain it left on him felt strangely good.

Damon nodded to his sons, who turned the large oaken doors of that mighty Sept. As the doors opened the roars of the faithful filled the sept. Harlan filled Damon’s hand with Vigilance, the ancient valyrian steel longsword of House Hightower. Damon marched forward, his sons in procession around him. The High Septon and his Warrior’s Sons followed suit behind their King.

Before the Sept a crowd gathered that almost looked as if the entire city of Oldtown had come to see the ceremony. Roughly a hundred Poor fellows separated the massive throng of people from the steps of the Sept. Fifty some Warrior’s Sons were stationed along the staircase as well. Damon strode out of the Sept, bare chested and all. When the mass of spectators saw him emerge, a great roar went up.

“HIGHTOWER! HIGHTOWER! HIGHTOWER!” The crowd screamed the ancient name of their liege lord. Damon descended the steps and stood before his people. Triston and Otho, in all their regalia came beside him, as did the High Septon. The smallfolk were still shouting and hollering until Damon raised Vigilance high above him. A silence fell over the people, and for just a moment Damon thought he could hear a songbird some ways off towards the sea wharf.

“SONS OF OLDTOWN, DAUGHTERS OF THE HONEYWINE… OH FAITHFUL PEOPLE, COME WITH ME!” Damons voice carried heavily over the plaza, and he could almost feel the thousands of pairs of eyes upon him. “COME WITH ME, AND WE SHALL MAKE THE BOUNTIFUL REACH OUR GIFT TO THE SEVEN!!!!”
 
Last edited:

stnylan

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On one level not much happens in this post, but on the other an event of great importance to our character. And the story.

I love the interplay of that.
 

Aidun

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If not for the sound of leaves rustling in wind, the man might've thought he'd entered an alien world where neither sound nor time existed. He knew it was but a foolish thought, yet that very sensation had drawn him to this place time and again over the years. Here burdens that had long weighed on his shoulders felt for a moment as if they'd never been there, and all else that life offered became meaningless.

Even with his eyes closed, the man knew for certain he was being watched. But the creatures of the woods that lay hiding somewhere, everywhere around him, were not a threat to him. They but observed him, no doubt wondering the very same questions that he had come here to find answers to.

Who am I?

And what do I want?


When Waymar opened his eyes, he was prepared to adjust them to sunlight. To his surprise, it did not rush to greet him, for dusk had creeped quicker than Waymar had anticipated. Perhaps it was not just a foolish thought after all, he mused and rose to his feet, stretching. In his mind he had sat against an ancient tree, its bark white as snow and its leaves red as gore. What lay there in truth was but a lonely, sad stump, which an Andal's axe had brought down a century ago. Against it, beside where Waymar had sat, lay a sheathed sword and its belt. As he picked it up to attach it to his waist, Waymar found himself once more surprised by how light this steel of the dragonlords actually was. As he finished buckling the belt, all the while resting his eyes upon the once mighty tree, the sword's name rang sorrowfully in his mind. Lamentation.

According to old beliefs, each weirwood tree had been a different god. But even if there was any truth to the legends, the time of those old gods had come and gone. A dozen generations had already passed since Andals first landed in Vale and brought with them steel, death - and a religion of their own. Waymar had been named in the light of the Seven, as had his father and his father before him. But even so, the words of his house echoed in his mind. We remember.

His feet led him down a narrow path that led out of the grove. In a clearing not far awaited four men clad in steel with five horses. As they heard him approach, the men hastily rose to their feet. ''M'lord'', the eldest of them spoke. ''Ready to leave?''


House Royce - Prologue

A lonely guardsman with a longbow in his hand gave the riders a nod as Waymar and his companions galloped down a path leading out of the forest. Soon in their vicinity were a dozen tents, arranged in the outskirts of the woods. Soldiers armed to the teeth gave them curious glances, but other than that they did not seem to be interested in Waymar's affairs. As he reached the largest of the tents, Waymar dismounted. One of the soldiers offered to take the stallion's reins, and led him away. No courtesies were exchanged between the man and Waymar. Although Andal kings and lords demanded to be treated with respect, the Bronzemen of Vale, descendants of the First Men, were of a different sort. To speak false courtesies was not their way, and to gain respect a man needed to earn it first.

With an odd determination, Waymar stepped inside the tent, meeting the eyes of a man he knew would be there. ''Found what you were looking for?'', the man asked. Waymar gave him no reply, and only glaced around. Although it was the largest of the tents in the camp, it only contained a small table with a few chairs around it, a bed for him sleep in and an armor stand where lay a bronze suit he was more than familiar with. Waymar pulled back a chair and sat opposite of the man.

After a brief silence, he broke it. ''Report.'' The other man shifted from his relaxed position, and leaned forward. ''Of the sixty eight soldiers accompanying us, fifteen stand in guard at all times. Each man is instructed to be sober and to remain vigilant no matter the hour. Hill Clans and bandits are not likely to bother us tonight. '' The man gave a pause before continuing, ''And your family are placed in tents just beside yours. Your son, however, insisted on taking watch duty and patrols the perimeter this very moment.''


''Your family?'', Waymar repeated the man's words and felt a faint smile form on his lips. ''Our family, brother.'' The way Andar belittled himself was all too typical of him. Unlike Waymar or their two younger brothers, Andar had never married. He had come to accept that although he shared the name Royce, it was not his privilege to continue its line. Without children or a wife of his own, Andar was free of burdens that might have prevented him from dedicating himself fully to their house and its legacy. And that he had done for years, earning his place as Waymar's right hand time and again through hard work. Whereas Waymar was raised in the old ways of their house, the way of the sword, Andar had mastered the art of pen and paper that Andals had brought with them from Essos. And in the world they lived in now, it was just as important.

Andar merely bowed his head as an answer to Waymar, who removed his sword belt, pulled back one of the chairs and sat opposite of his brother. ''As for why I wanted our family to accompany me on this journey'', Waymar began, ''It is about time the young ones are married.''

Waymar saw how Andar finally put together all pieces of the puzzle. Having known the man for all his life, it was easy to read the look on his face. Waymar's son and namesake, heir to Runestone, was already a man. He was skilled with a sword and had already learned everything Waymar could teach him about ruling. It was indeed time for him to take yet another responsibility; that of continuing the family line. Finding a husband for Waymar's other child, Ysilla, and for his niece Mya might prove a bit harder. They had grown soft, plump and did not possess traits required from a lady of a house. But no doubt the name Royce would have some weight in the matter, and wake interest in some of the lords that also were headed for the Eyrie.

''I know'', Waymar stated before his brother could even answer. ''As for my nephews, their time will come later. I needed someone in Runestone who knows their way around the court. And I needed someone capable standing ready to raise our banners, should the need arise.'' The decision had been an easy one. His young kinsmen had shown promise, and now having reached manhood everything they'd learned was about to be put to a test. Still, what they were facing would be nothing compared to what awaited Waymar.

The young High King of the Mountain and the Vale had inherited his father's throne when he was merely a child. Such power given to a boy that young was said to have changed him, and not to better. The work on the Eyrie, a citadel built atop a mountain, had began decades ago. Arryns were said to be running short on gold to keep the work going, and there were whispers that the young High King planned on invading neighboring kingdoms to fund the project. It certainly would explain why many prominent vassals of his had been invited to celebrate his eighteenth nameday. But the young king has never seen war. He does not understand that we would be better off without one.


But then again, Waymar thought, I suppose thirst for blood and battles is part of his nature. House Arryn was relatively young family compared to many others. The Arryns were much unlike the Starks who had ruled from Winterfell since the times of Brandon the Builder, or the Gardeners from whose founder most Reachmen houses are descended from. The name Arryn had become known in Westeros only some six generations ago when they led an army of Andals against the First Men and carved out a kingdom of their own.

Why had the Andals invaded at all was a thing many had differing opinions about. Legends told that their High King, Hugor of the Hill, a deeply religious man who directly communicated with the Seven, had been promised lands in foreign lands by the deity he worshiped. But to more cynical people like Waymar himself a more probable explanation was the ever-expanding Valyrian Freehold. Andalos lay just north Pentos, a city ruled by the dragonriders. It was but a matter of time before the Valyrians decided to venture even further north, to Andalos and to Braavos, the city of escaped slaves.

It did not matter why. The Andals had come all the same, first landing in Vale. Waymar's ancestor Bronze King Robar the Second managed to unite the clans and houses and mounted fierce resistance against the foreign invaders. The folk of Runestone were true First Men, who used bronze for their tools of war. Their foes on the other hand used iron-made weapons and horses, and were far better suited for war. Many of them were what nowadays are known as knights; men vowed to uphold the good and live a virtuous life in honor of the Seven.

But despite the odds being against them, the First Men prevailed in numerous battles. King Robar himself was said to have slain one of the Andal kings Qyle Corbray, and then to have claimed his Valyrian steel longsword Lady Forlorn as his own. But Robar's victories drew the attention of other Andals, whose hosts until then had fallen to petty rivalries and fought more often against one another than together. United under Ser Artys Arryn, known also as the Falcon Knight, the invaders marched against Robar Royce.


The two hosts met in what would later be called The Battle of the Seven Stars. It is said that Robar's host threw back six charges, only to break after the seventh. Upon seeing the tide of battle turn, the Bronzeman High King ordered a counterattack, during which he personally slayed Torgold Tollett, a fearsome and huge Andal warrior. Later, somewhere amidst the battle Robar Royce met Artys Arryn in single combat. After slaying the former, King Robar thought victory was near. He was proved wrong when half a thousand knights charged his men from behind, led by a knight with a helm styled with falcon wings. King Robar II Royce had been fooled by a mere decoy, and he soon died fighting along with most of his allies.

The sword which he had claimed after slaying King Qyle Corbray was returned to his kinsman, Jaime Corbray. The lands he had sought to protect from the invaders were all conquered. And so with him died the old way of living, and a new era began under the leadership of Artys Arryn, who was proclaimed High King of Mountain and Vale.


It is disputed how long ago all this took place. The Andals prefer to count the passing of time in years, in which case their invasion of Vale began some thirty-and-hundred years ago. Many of the common folk on the other hand count time by each passing summer. But to Waymar, whose ancestor had played a major part in those events, this was six generations ago. After King Robar's demise, his younger brother swore fealty to Artys Arryn, and in return was allowed to retain the ancient seat of House Royce, the castle of Runestone. Although much of their house's power was lost, they nevertheless remained one of the most powerful vassals of the Arryn kings - a thing that is true to this day.

Sudden movement abruptly drew Waymar back from those distant memories about life long past. There was something heart-warming about Andar's smile as he rose to his feet and walked out of the tent, knowing well it was best to leave Waymar to his thoughts. He was determined to savor this short moment of solitude, for a man of his stature could rarely afford them. Taking a more comfortable position in his chair, Waymar removed his gloves and shifted his thoughts from what once was to what would be.


A cry of pain suddenly filled the air, forcing Waymar to stir from his slumber. Raising so quickly that the chair under him fell over, Waymar reached for his sword. The shouting outside had multiplied. Death throes, he soon realized and pulled Lamentation from its scabbard. No time for donning armor. With his hand wrapped around the hilt of his Valyrian steel sword, Waymar rushed outside.

''M'lord!'', one of the guards shouted in surprise and rushed to his side. Arrows flew across the camp from the woods' direction, felling men and horses both. Sundown had allowed the attackers, whoever they were, to approach them in secret through the forest. An arrow flew two feet away from his face, and Waymar bent over, covering his head with his hand by instinct. A sudden thud made him look up, only to notice that the man beside him sheltered him with a shield. His heart was racing, and fear for his and his family's lives crept to edges of his mind. The first fight in a battle is against yourself, spoke a voice from within him. Waymar steeled himself and placed his free hand on the shielder's shoulder, pulling him backwards behind the tent.

After they were in cover, Waymar tried to control his heavy breathing and to focus on evaluating the situation. More of his men rushed from the tents, only to be riddled with arrows. They're more numerous than us, Waymar quickly realized, and began to understand the hopelessness of standing and fighting. A stray horse riding through the camp suddenly took an arrow to its side, and a second one to its neck. And they mean to prevent us from fleeing.

Waymar glanced around, counting at least twelve men covering behind nearby tents. He recognized young Robar and Andar among them. Although his scholarly brother and overweight nephew were unlike to be of much assistance in what was coming next, Waymar knew they would have information he desperately craved for. Even if this was to be his last day in this world, Waymar meant to ensure that the same fate would not await his children. He took the shield from the man beside him, and if the soldier shouted anything after him, his words fell to deaf ears. Waymar rushed forward towards his kinsmen, shielding his vulnerable flank from arrows that soon took to air. With no one else brave or stupid enough to venture out of cover, all eyes turned on him. Two arrows flew a few feet past him, and a third hit his round shield. Then a sudden flash of pain struck his left sheen. Limping on, Waymar looked down and noticed an arrow shaft sticking out of his shank. He could only take a few more steps before the pain became unbearable and the leg gave away under him.

Strong hands grabbed him by armpits, dragging him the rest of the way. Somewhere during the fall Waymar had lost both his shield and his dragonsteel sword. He tried to search for the latter with his eyes, but just when he saw a glimpse of it near the ever-distancing position where he'd fallen, another shock of pain rippled through his body. Waymar wrapped his hands around an arrow that had come to protrude from his abdomen and could not help but to grimace.

The man who'd dragged him now placed him down behind the cover of a tent. Waymar lay on his back, contemplating the situation. Andar rushed to his side with a worried look on his face and inspected the wounds. ''I'm too old for this'', Waymar growled, angry at himself. His fingers tightened around the arrow shaft sticking out his gut, and he felt a growing need to remove the foreign object. Before Andar could stop him, Waymar firmly pulled out the arrow from his body and let out a cry of pain. Its head tore some of his flesh with it, sending a surge of immense pain through Waymar's body. The last thing he saw was Andar, shouting something to the men beside him. Then darkness engulfed him.


When Waymar became conscious again, he realized he was being dragged. He tried to look over his shoulder and see the men gripping his wrists, but even the slightest movement reminded him of his wounds. One of the arrows still remained in his leg, and the wound in his stomach had bled profusely already, staining almost all of his upper torso in red. How much time had passed, that he did not know. The last light of the day flickered in horizon, slowly settling down behind mountains. It had grown colder. Or perhaps Waymar felt it because of loss of blood. Still dazed, it was hard for him to gather his thoughts.

A young woman was crying somewhere nearby. The sound grew louder and louder, and Waymar realized he was being dragged towards it. Ysilla. The realization struck him hard as a hammer. Waymar struggled, trying to free himself from the men's grip despite the pain - to no avail. The sobbing of his daughter grew even louder, and soon the men suddenly released Waymar. He turned to his side, grimacing from pain, and looked around. They were at the edge of the forest. Dozens of men clad in leather with swords or longbows in their hand stood around him and few others. Waymar saw his daughter Ysilla, crying hysteriously despite her cousin Mya's attempts of calming her down. Beside them were perhaps a quarter of the men who'd accompanied Waymar on this journey, most of them now wounded and all of them disarmed and with their hands tied. Among them Waymar recognized Andar and his two younger brother Yohn and Robar, and Robar's namesake son. Despite everything that had happened, a sensation of utter relief flowed through him at the sight of his son and heir, who stood in the crowd. Waymar the Younger's face was covered in blood. If it was his or someone else's, Waymar could not tell.

''Lord Royce is awake'', spoke one of the men surrounding them. Waymar turned to look at the speaker, a young man clad in dark leather like all the others. ''Good, let us begin.'' The man, clearly the leader of the ambushers, stood under a huge oak tree. From its strongest and thickest branches hung several ropes with a hangman's noose tied to them. Waymar felt his heart beat faster after realizing what was about to take place. One of his guards decided to make a run for it, but two arrows stopped him before he could escape. The wounded man lay in ground for a while, moaning from pain, until one of the ambushers bothered to go and cut his throat.

The cutthroat walked to their leader with a blood-stained sword in hand and exchanged a few quiet words with him. The weapon in the man's hand was none other than Waymar's own sword, Lamentation. The realization angered him, and Waymar suddenly found strength to speak. ''Who are you, and what do you want?'' The cutthroat and the leader both turned towards him. As he looked at them both, Waymar noticed similarities in their faces. Both men, perhaps in their mid-twenties, had reddish-brown hair and a mustache. Brothers, no doubt.

The leader nodded to one the men who'd dragged Waymar. The man landed a kick in his stomach, aimed at his wound. Waymar let out a cry of pain and curled. All other prisoners except for Ysilla remained quiet. Fine, Waymar thought. Lesson learned. He turned to look at the leader again when the man suddenly spoke. ''No doubt you would like to know that, Lord Royce. But dead men have no need of information. The only thing I want you to know is that what happens now will or has already happened in your home.'' There was something strange in the leader's grin after he finished. Even though Waymar had no idea of who he was, he had an odd sense that to him this was somehow personal.

At a gesture from the leader, his men pushed three captives forward towards the huge oak. Andar, Robar and Robar the Younger. Before Waymar could shout in protest, he was kicked in stomach again. He could only watch as two brothers and nephew were taken to the noose. All three were determined to die with dignity, and remained quiet as the ropes tightened around their necks. But all of their dignity disappeared the moment their feet no longer touched the ground. Their faces twisted and their mouths gasped for air - to no avail. Witnessing the slow murder of his family only fueled the anger and hatred that was quickly building up inside Waymar. But before he could do anything, his son rushed forward. Waymar the Younger ran towards the leader, tackling one of his men to ground on his way. He leaped forward, with his tied hands reaching for the ambushers' leader's neck. Yet his flight was cut off mid-air when the cutthroat, using Valyrian steel, cut Waymar the Younger's head clean off. The young man's lifeless corpse dropped on the ground right in front of the leader, who seemed more amused than shocked.

Waymar's glistening eyes wandered the ever-darkening world around him, no longer able to focus on anything longer than a moment, as he tried to comprehend what had just happened. Ysilla's cries had turned to hyperventilating. Andar, Robar and his son had breathed their last. Yohn had fallen on his knees. The cutthroat wiped Lamentation's blade to the headless corpse's jacket. The leader was looking at him, grinning. And suddenly, a sword swung in the darkness.

''Wot?'' asked one of the ambushers, and landed another blow on Ysilla's neck with his twohander, cutting her head from the rest of her body. The man then turned to look at the leader and went on, ''The bitch wos too loud. Wy are gwyn' to off 'em all anyhow.'' The leader was quiet. ''Aye'', he finally spoke, nodding, and walked to Waymar. ''Hang the rest. We have somewhere else to be.'' The leader pulled a knife from his belt and crouched beside the distraught Lord Royce, shoving the blade in his gut. For a moment, Waymar almost welcomed it. But after the knife twisted and moved, cutting its way through his flesh, he realized his end would not be quick or painless. The man left him laying there, holding his own guts.

The last thing Lord Waymar Royce saw before finally dying was the butchering of the rest of his family.
 
Last edited:

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What a horrendous way to go.
 

Zamarak500

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HOUSE PEAKE 2: LORD BERIC DONDARRION
6567-6569


Sample of The Chronicles of the Marches, written by Maester Jonos


Beric Dondarrion, Lord of Blackhaven, was born in 6536. One of the most powerful Marcher lord of the kingdom, he was among the many who kept their faith of the Old Gods when King Titus the First converted to the Seven. Neverless, he would prove to be one of the most loyal followers of the new king, serving as his Master of Whisperers on the Council and commanding his armies on the battlefield. His contemporaries described him as a brave and ambitious lord who dreamed of leading armies in great battles. He was versed in the art of war as well as a man of knowledge and erudition, Beric's personal library in Blackhaven containing many of the primary sources used for the writing of the Chronicles.


Lord Beric Dondarrion


“My Lord, the King is calling for is bannermen. What will you answer him?”

Lord Beric put down his copy of “Warfare and Andals” on the desk as he was turning toward the servant. He may not believe in their Seven, but it by no mean did it diminish his admiration for their military accomplishment. In such a few amount of time, the Andals and their faith had implemented themselves on Westeros with such ease. He himself had some Andal blood, like most of the Marchers.

“Colen, prepare my horse. If the king is calling us, what man am I to refuse his demand?”

Beric was surprised to learn that King Titus was calling them to assemble their armies, and not to celebrate a marriage. Like many of the realm, he had heard of the new marriage between Prince Olyver and Margaery Redwyne, Princess of The Arbor. From what his spies had told him, this marriage was done to solidify the alliance between King Titus and Prince Paxter Redwyne, who became friends during the King's visit to Oldtown.



The bannermen and their armies were supposed to meet at Ashford, where they would wait for the king's arrival. Blackhaven being far away from Ashford, Beric decided to ride alone in order to get there faster, leaving the direction of his troops to his generals. This allowed him to be one of the first lords to arrive in Ashford, where he was greeted by Lord Hobber Ashford, who kindly welcomed him into his home until the arrival of the army. Beric used this opportunity to learn more about this Faith of the Seven, Lord Hobber being one of the lords that followed the King's in his conversion.

Beric would have to wait the early weeks of 6568 before the whole army finally assembled. The King himself was among the last to arrive. With him was a few of his bodyguards and, unsurprisingly, his wife. For some reason, Queen Rylene always came with her husband on campaign, although she was left behind the front lines when battle came. Beric suspected that she only came because she could have access to her husband's ear without the brothers around to oppose her. It was also probable that she feared to be alone with the King's brother. As the Master of Whisperers of The Marches, Beric was well aware of the hatred between the two princes and the Queen.

They all received news from the south as soon as the King arrived, making it clear their suzerain had ordered them to assemble with their troops. The Grey King of Oldtown was going to war with the Reach, and because King Titus was his ally, they too were at war with the Reach. Beric suspected that the King had planned this with the Grey King, which would explain his recent trip to Oldtown. Some on the Council would not be happy that the king organized this war behind their back, but what is done is done. Now, they had to focus on fighting the Reach.



King Titus assembled all his bannermen in his command tent. We had begin to march toward the Reach for a few days now, but the King so far had not named the commanders that would side with him on this campaign. It was obvious to everyone that the King would keep the overall command of the army. He was the most skilled tactician of The Marches, everyone agreed on that. But the question was who would control the flanks and gain the glory of fighting alongside him?

“My loyal bannermen, we are all part of this campaign. We are all part of this war to finally break the hegemony of the Reach. But to lead the men by my sides, I sadly only need two of you. For the best of our campaign, I name Lord Beric of Blackhaven to lead our left flank...”

This was no surprise. Beric was one of the best generals of the realm alongside Gulian Swann, the Marshal, and the king himself. In his opinion, it only meant that Lord Gulian would have to stop his fonctions as Marshal for the duration of the war to lead armies alongside the king and himself.

“... and Lord Robin of Poddingfield will lead the right flank.”


Beric could see the surprise on the face of many bannermen, and he couldn't blame them. Sure, Lord Robin was a good soldier, but a general? And more importantly to him, Peasbury was rotten to the core. Oh yes, he was humble, but that was just on the surface.

Beric knew what kind of disloyal man Robin Peasbury was. A few years ago, a neighbour lord of Lord Robin asked him for help with a small peasant uprising. But he turned a small battle into a slaughter, and the few survivors were tortured to death by Peasbury himself, according to what Beric's spies told him. Lord Robin then decided that he was a “champion of the people”, putting the whole blame of the massacre on his neighbour and then trying to gain the support of the populace. It would have certainly turned into an open conflict if Beric had not interfered. King Titus being incredibely oblivious to manipulation and evil around him, he knew that the king would have believed Lord Robin's version of the facts, and so it was better to stop the incident there before ti reached the royal court.

“I am not good enough for the position, your majesty.” said Lord Robin with a smile. “but nerveless, I shall do my best on this campaign.”

“Your Majesty, why not take me instead?” said Lord Gulian Swann, clearly shocked that he wasn't considered for the campaign.

The king put his hand on his Marshal's shoulder, and with a warm smile, he simply looked into the eyes of Swann and simply said: “Your work in the kingdom is too important to let anyone else do it. I need you to protect The Marches in my absence. I thrust that you are the perfect man for this enormous task. Please, Lord Gulian, protect our kingdom while we fight for it.”

“I, hum... I will, your Majesty. You can count on me...”

It was clear Lord Gulian still wanted to be a part of the war, but he complied with the demands of the king. This meant that the matter of Lord Robin leading the left flank was closed. Soon everyone began to go back to their troops in preparation of tomorrow. As Lord Robin was about to make his exit, Beric grabbed him by the arm, stopping him on the spot.

“Don't try anything funny during the campaign.”

“I don't know what you mean, Lord Beric.” said Peasbury with a suspicious smile. “I am only a humble and loyal servant of the king, just like you.”

“Please, we both know that you have no idea what loyalty mean.”

“Don't worry, I won't take that glory always dreamed of.” He then pulled his arm out of Beric's grip. Just as he was about to get out, he simply said with a fake smile:

“Oh by the way. I'm happy to work with you. Let's make this campaign a success.”


Lord Robin Peasbury


The army passed the first half of 6568 pillaging the frontier, besieging castles and village, destroying the surroundings, and then leaving without completing the siege. This “calm” period of the war allowed Beric to get more acquainted with Prince Unwin, the son and heir of King Titus. The boy was only 7, but his father thought that it would be a good experience for him to see the battlefield and learn military tactics alongside his father. The queen was also happy to see her son with them, although only because she didn't want him to fall under the influence of his uncles. The young prince was present for every strategic meeting, every private discussion, every training of the troops. Beric took a liking in the little prince, and gave him a copy of Wars and Battles of the Heroes.

Queen Rylene also felt pregnant during that period. This slowed the army considerably, as the King wanted to make sure that the trip was not to taxing on the health of his wife. Beric was mostly worried that they would miss the main battle and about the birth of a baby on the battlefield.



Finally, on the 8th month of the year, the Battle of Highgarden was fought. The troops of House Hightower arrived first, entering into a slow but intense battle with the forces of the Reach. The army of The Marches arrived a week later as reinforcements. While King Titus and his family quickly went to meet with the Grey King, Beric was sent on the right flank.

The right flank of the Hightower forces was lead by Bryndon “Greystone”, the younger brother of the King Damon "the Deavout". When Beric arrived, they were exchanging arrow shots with the enemy troops. His first meeting with the Hightower prince was a disappointment, and it didn't take long for tensions to arise between Bryndon Greystone and Beric. Although a skilled tactician and a brave man, Greystone was also a stubborn drunkard.

Facing both men was the right flank of the Gardener's army, lead by Lord Reynard Orme of Apple Hall. From what Beric had heard, Reynard was among the best tacticians of the Reach, as well as its most diligent. This was going to pose a problem, especially if the two generals were not able to get along.


Prince Bryndon "Greystone" Hightower (left) Lord Reynard Orme (right)


“Oh please!”, shouted Bryndon Greystone, “My plan is perfect! If we follow my lead, we can put Orme and his troops down by the end of the day!”

“Your plan will cost us too much men! Why can't you see that? Instead, I could lead a distraction, and then we use my strategy to deal with his troops. Lord Reynard will have no way out.”

“You're just a gloryhound who want to lead the first charge! My strategy is clearly better! It has no chance of failing!”

This discussion was going nowhere, and Beric knew it. Neither him nor Greystone was going to back down from their own strategy. It wasn't like the two plans were bad, it was just that each of them wanted to lead the right flank to a quick and glorious victory. But if Greystone continued to be so stubborn, Reynard Orme would continue to hold his ground, and Beric had no desire to live the humiliation of needing help from the centre to defeat his enemies. So Beric did the only thing he could do, sending a letter to the higher ups. His servant Colen gave him a piece of paper, and then he passed hours writing the best message he could, explaining his strategy and the necessity to follow it. But more importantly, he also requested the authority to apply his plan and to make sure Greystone would obey. Unbeknown to him, Greystone had done the same, sending a letter to the two kings, who were fighting Lord Marshal Samwell Tarly in the middle of the battlefield.



And so, two letters were sent. But only one came back, a piece of paper containing the seals of both Houses Hightower and House Peake. It had been decided that Beric's strategy was the best one in order to win quickly the right flank. The victorious lord wasted no time to put his tactics into action, and soon the right flank of the Reach's army was in total retreat. With the right flank collapsing, Beric was able to join forces with King Titus and the Grey King in their last push in the centre. It was a bloody battle, it was a long battle. But in the end, it was a battle won by the allied kings, and Beric Dondarrion was by their side at the end, covering himself in glory and fame for his role in the battle.



Following the battle, King Titus decided to go after the retreating army, while Grey King Damon and his men continued to besiege Highgarden after the victorious battle. The King asked his fellow monarch to take care of his wife while he pursuied the enemy. Although she was opposed to it, Titus had no intention of allowing a pregnant woman to come on a wild chase after a retreating army. After making sure that she was safe in the care of House Hightower, the army of The Marches went north after the enemy soldiers.

Beric's scouts finally found the soldiers of the Reach, who were now less than 2,000 men after their disastrous defeat at the Battle of Highgarden. They had been resting in a village named Thronwall, on the northern bank of the Mander river. When the armies of The Marches arrived on the eastern bank, they could see the other side, including the small town of fishermen and merchants. When the banners of House Peake appeared at the horizon, the population fled into a panic, fearing for their life. But the army of the Reach didn't flee. They stood in proud battle formation on the other side of the river, waiting for Titus and his army to cross it. It was clear that they were tired, and they knew that they were outnumbered 4 to 1. King Titus thus decided to offer them a last chance. He rod his horse and advances as much as he could, he then looked at Samwell Tarly, who was leading the enemy force.


“Men of the Reach! You have lost the battle, and soon, Highgarden will fall! Surrender now! Good men should not waste their honest life in a fight like this!”

The Reachmen were clearly hesitating. They were tired and weakened. Sure, the Marchers would lose troops in their crossing of the Mander, but then what? They would still face a larger army which had defeated them in the last battle. In Beric's opinion, they would surely have surrendered at this very moment if it had not been for Samwell Tarly. Courageous as ever, the Lord Marshall simply advanced on his horse, looked back at Titus, and then simply asked him a question:

“Are you not a Reachman, like us?”


Lord Marshal Samwell Tarly


This question surprised the king, but soon Titus answered with his powerful voice, his word being heard by both armies.

“I am not a man, but a king. And my Kingdom is The Marches. Its destiny is my destiny.”

“Then you are no Reachman, Titus of House Peake. Reachmen live for the Reach, bleed for the Reach and die for the Reach. How then, can you ask us to submit to you, a man who is not one of us? King Garth “the Sage” is a Reachman, I am a Reachman, those men are Reachmen. We live for the Reach, bleed for the Reach, and die for the Reach. We will never fail our land.”

Beric found the speech incredibly repetitive, but it seemed to have its effect on the soldiers of the Reach. After the Lord Marshal had finished to speak, Lord Reynard Orme came to him, and after a quick talk they began to take defensive positions in the town. Even with their moral restored, the Battle of Thronwall was a one way fight. The Marchers easily got on the other side of the Mander, and when they arrived, thing turned ugly for the Reachmen. The lord of Blackhaven once again faced troops lead by Lord Reynard, but the reachman general soon retreated when he saw that the enemy force was vastly stronger than his 500 men. In the end, Tarly ordered what was left of his men to retreat north, hoping they could escape the Marchers. This night, the troops celebrated their victory in Thornwall, where they had won their second victory against the Reach.



By the end of the year, they finally catched up with what was left of the Gardener's troops at Manfield, on the western border of the Reach. It was a quick battle, but a brutal one. Lord Robin Peasbury took great pleasure in killing every single man that faced him, including the commander of the left flank. According to the things Beric heard, Lord Robin had the poor man buried alive in the mass grave for the reachmen soldiers who had felt into battle, and then order the corpses set on fire, with the general probably still under it. Of course, when the King asked him about the incident, Peasbury feint ignorance by saying that he thought the man already dead when he threw him in the mass grave. The few survivors to escape, head of which were Samwell Tarly and Reynard Orme, returned fleeing to their domains to prepare new troops.



The army of The Marches then returned to Highgarden. Beric was able to convince King Titus that the Grey King could use some help taking the city. Plus, it would be a glorious moment for both armies to penetrate the city together. Titus was convinced, and just like Beric, the king also wanted some of the glory for taking Higharden. When they arrived to the capital of the Reach, the warriors of House Hightower had just taken possession of the main wall and were beginning to advance in the city. It took a while to take every inch of the city, but by the third month of 6569, Highgarden was firmly occupied my the men of Houses Peake and Hightower.

A massive banquet was organized by Grey King Damon, who was in charge of the city for the time of the occupation. All the bannermen that had come on the campaign were invited to celebrate the conquest of the city. The banners of House Gardener had been replaced by those of House Hightower and House Peake, showing to everyone present who owned Highgarden. The two kings were seated next to each other, and both happily talked about their achievements during the campaign and their plans for after the inevitable victory. During the celebrations, wine was drank, stories were told, and the Grey King gave a grand speech that was met with applauds, a speech Beric recorded in his writings after the campaign. But the celebrations were interrupted when a servant entered the room, clearly having some difficulty catching his breath after running so fast. He ran to King Titus and whispered something to his hear, after which Titus jumped out of his chair. His face was easy to read, and with the Queen absent from the celebrations it was clear what was happening. The King would soon have a new child.

Few peoples were allowed in the room to witness the birth of the child. A maester was obviously there to see help the Queen through the process and make sure everything went well. King Titus was on his knee, holding the hand of his wife, and alongside him was their son Unwin, who simply looked at his mother, intrigued about what was happening. Among the people present were also the Grey King Damon “the Deavout”, who Titus had asked to be there, a septon brought by the Grey King, and, most surprisingly, Lord Beric Dondarrion. This was a sign that Titus accorded great thrust to his Master of Whisperer, to the point of allowing him in his inner circle. This was not liked by the other bannermen one bit, who jealously saw Beric entered the room while they had to wait outside, waiting for the good news.

It took a long time, but finally Queen Rylene gave birth to a healthy son. The maester gave the baby to Titus, who took him in his arms. He then put the baby close to prince Unwin, saying with a light voice: “Son, meet your little brother.”

The boy looked at the infant. It was the first time he saw a baby so close, and was clearly intrigued by him. He tried to touch the baby's genital out of curiosity, but it obviously made the baby cry. Titus then did his best to calm the poor child, singing him a little song until he was calmed down. Beric saw the charming little scene, waiting for the baby to get calmer before asking the obvious question. Finally, when the cries stopped, he stepped in front of everyone, making sure that everyone had their eyes on him.

“Your Majesty, what will be the name of our new prince?”

To be honest, Beric hoped that the king had brought him here because he was planing to name the child after his greatest general. Instead, the king looked at the Grey King with a smile. He then put the little baby in the arms of King Damon, who was surprised by the move, but did his best to keep the infant calm.

“I shall name him after the man who made all this possible. I shall name him after one of the greatest king of our era.” He then posed for a while, putting his hand on the Grey King's shoulder. “Damon Hightower, please meet Damon Peake.”

Everyone then looked at little Damon, who was sleeping in the arms of the king from who he got his name.



Soon after Prince Damon's birth, news came that the Reachmen were raising a new army south, probably under the command of Lord Marshal Samwell Tarly, although the news were contradictory on that last part. Grey King Damon would go meet this new army with his own forces. King Titus, meanwhile, decided that with Highgarden conquered, they had to conquer the domain of House Tarly, Horn Hill.

On their way to the castle of Samwell Tarly, King Titus began to exchange a correspondence with Lord Jon Connington of Griffin's Roost. Of course, Beric had his men intercept each letter and show him the content before it got to the king, but he just found small talks and the signs of a growing friendship between the two men.



Beric was able to convince Titus to not bring the Queen or their newborn son, to the complain of the Queen herself. The Lord of Blackhaven wanted the siege to be over before the end of the war, and he had no intention to let that woman slow them down. However, it would still not be fast enough. In the middle of the siege, they received news that Grey King Damon Hightower had defeated the Gardener army and forced King Garth to surrender, ending the war on the 8th month of 6569. Beric was angry that the Hightower had stroke the final blow instead of the Marchers, but still, the war had been won. The Reach, once the mighty power of the South, had now been defeated. It was a day to celebrate, but little did he know that he would soon be marching again on Highgarden, and this time, without Lord Robin Peasbury...

 
Last edited:

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House Velaryon
Part 1: Landing

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Valyrians, the sheep herding people of Western Slaver's bay turned silver haired conquerors of Essos. Nobody knows how or why, but the people of Valyria learned to harness the power of Dragons to build an Empire that covers all of civilization East of the Narrow Sea.

The Freehold, as it is called is dominated by a confederation of forty powerful families, all of whom are said to possess great magics and of course, dragons. The Andals, who's coming to Westeros brought the faith of the Seven and the knowledge of Steel are widely believed to have crossed the Narrow sea in flight of Valyrians and yet, here in Westeros the Dragonlords have been content to leave us alone, viewing our humble continent as a backwater compared to the rich splendor of Essos.

Such an empire however is built upon Slavery and Blood Magic, which those of us here in Westeros find appalling. The Valyrians and their dragons are indeed a threat but one that ultimately the Kings of Westeros cannot stop, nor have any interest. The Vale is locked in yet another Civil War between the Houses Royce and Arynn. The Stormlands like many regions south of the neck are in conflict between the Andals and First Men and even the greatest of the Kingdoms of Westeros, the Mighty Kingdoms of the Reach, Tower and Hills and River could not hope to match the Slave Armies of Valyria let alone the mighty dragons their leaders ride into battle.

This is why, I have decided to resign from my position as Archmaester, and Travel to Driftmark, where the adventurous Valyrian Captain, Viserys has staked a claim on the Merling Islands and serve as his maester. If this is the start of a greater invasion, it is of utmost importance that the Citadel know everything there is to know so as to better to advise our charges to weather the storm to come.

-ArchMaester Vandar Harlaw's resignation letter to the Citadel


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Vandar

Sea salt and rain had become the order of the day ever since Misty Maid had crossed past the stepstones. That was the point Vandar had noticed something noticeably different, normally the Pirates that inhabited the treacherous islands there demanded a tribute for passage.

Vandar could feel the memory in the rain, on three separate occasions the captain prepared to accept Parlay with three different captains as they made the crossing. The Citadel has provided three payments of gold to be given away, as the expected number of stops usually ranged from one to four in recent years, with the agreement that the Captain and crew could keep any that remained after Vandar had made the crossing.

All three times however, the Captain explained the purpose of his trip and all three times the Pirates let the Misty Maid pass without payment. The Pirates called this, Viserys Velaryon, the Seasnake and had displayed such fear and respect at the name that they had allowed passage, one captain even notably apologized.

Vandar knew next to nothing of this Viserys, he only knew that this new Valyrian Lord was not a dragonlord of Valyria but had held some amount of wealth and prestige gathered by unknown means. The three encounters in the stepstones had convinced Vandar that Viserys was perhaps a Corsair and a dangerous one at that.

Why, would a corsair however, wish to settle on a desolate Island such as driftmark, with such riches surely this mean could have retired in the freehold, bought some numbers of slaves and lived a full life under the forty families.

Vandar knew his mind was drifting again, it was his nature and his age. So long as he was aware of it, he assured himself his mind was still sharp. Of course the second he wasn't aware of his tendencies he wouldn't know enough to catch himself anyway. For the moment however, reality had come flying back when he saw the great Volcano of the Isle of Smoke, less an island and more a great steaming Volcano with an island wrapped around it like a cloak. This was not Viserys' capital however, that would be the even larger Island Vandar saw in the distance.

For remainder of the day Vandar remained outside, he had often been one of the only members of the Crew to dare venture outside or remain as the storms from the Narrow Sea tossed the Misty Maid about. Vandar was Ironborn, this was in his blood, far more than the sailors from Oldtown he traveled with. These travelers kept to the Summer Sea, they have never experienced what it was like to feel might might of the two great gods of the sea from a longship or to drink seawater like wine. Most of all however Vandar had enjoyed taking in the sights of smoke and mist pouring off the Islands of Viserys Velaryon.

By the time night had fallen they had arrived. There was little grandeur or fanfare, and the dock they had moored at looked to have been constructed in little over a week ago. The Landing point was crudely named Hull, for the ship hulls the buildings had been constructed out of. The Rain had stopped and Vandar took the time to take in what had become of a previously desolate island.

The Buildings, as he had noticed before were all built from ship hulls, Roofs were the watertight lower parts of the ship, with walls constructed from a plethora of Masts, timber from the island and anything else it seems the citizenry could scrape together. A small slave market dominated what could amount to a merchant quarter and within it were men from Ghis, the Summer Islands, Dorne and what looked to be Stormlanders bound and chained.

Vandar of course wished to investigate further when he heard the telltale song of a steel being readied followed by yelling in Valyrian.


Next came the mud. Someone had pushed Vandar into the floor and a silver haired man, a Valyrian was standing over him talking to one of his companions. Vandar knew enough what could happen if he did not open his mouth, he screamed, in the common tongue in westeros but that was of course all he could muster with his face in the dirt.

"Stop! I am no Slave! I am a Maester of the Citadel sent here to assist Lord Viserys"

The yell drew some snickers but mostly laughs from the Guards who Vandar knew couldn't understand him.

The Slave master knelt, a sack of gold in his hand. "They always have such funny stories, A Master does not wear a chain"

The Slaver was a silver haired man, though not beautiful as most stories said Valyrian people were but instead mostly pain. His Face once fair and light had been stained by years in harsh sun, and his teeth missing all on one side. He sat there for a moment looking Vandar over, an appraisal Vandar was sure.

After a moment the Slaver looked up and spoke again, "He is Old, I can give you Ninety Silver, one for each day I expect him to live".

Vandar's companions looked dumbstruck. Vandar didn't expect much from them, just to keep him safe, now they were failing at there. There was two, A butcher turned mercenary named Bobbard and the slightly smarter of the two, Jon a Hightower Sergeant on loan to the citadel. Bobbard had spent his entire earnings on food after the long trip and looked to be in battle with something lodged in his teeth. Jon was the one staring at the Silver haired Slave Master.

"He is a Maester, Paid us to say so and everything" Jon announced, confused but also tempted by the offer of gold.

Maesters often frequented the Freehold of Valyria, this Slave Master was either greedy, stupid or both, and Vandar's lack witted companions would soon doom him to a life of toiling in Mines, either below driftmark or back in Valyria, and if that happened there was truly no hope for him.

Vandar could hear the slaver open his mouth to answer and took his opportunity. He grabbed the Man's leg best he could and pulled him down into the mud. People say many things about the Ironborn but thier skill in a brawl is something that is almost never tarnished. One Punch to the groin, and another to the stomach gave him the advantage.

The Guards would surely kill him and so he acted quickly to take the man's dagger and bring it to his throat. By the time Vandar had looked around to see if he was about to be skewered he had seen many of the guards staring, most laughing. They had just watched an old man punch their overseer in the ground and put a dagger to his throat, they clearly didnt take Vandar seriously. Bobbard and Jon meanwhile were also, dumbstruck, at least they werent laughing.

Vandar stood, his robes were covered in blackened mud he could smell the traces of things less pleasant than simple wet dirt.

"As...... I was saying, I am an Maester of the Citadel, I have come here to speak with the Seasnake, not Wrestle in the Mud"

Once more Vandar's words didn't seem to do much to saw the opinions of the guards nor his company who were carrying on much as they were before he opened his mouth. The Disturbance however had drawn a pair of more heavily armored individuals, clad in mail, with blackened swords at their hilts and a white seahorse emblazoned on each of their uniforms. Each had what looked to be a cloak colored like seafoam, though each was faded from years in the sun and salt of the sea.

The first Soldier was taller, and said nothing, He was well built and his face told a story Vandar had seen many times before in his youth on the Iron Islands on the reavers that would come back to Ten Towers.

The second soldier was shorter and had a softer face dominated by a great scar that ran from the left ear over the left eye, which was covered by an eyepatch and ending only just before the right. This soldier was not quite what Vandar expected, as she removed her helmet, revealing a head of long flowing silver head, A woman, and a Valyrian one at that.

"Vandar of Oldtown" the second guard spoke. It was clearly her best attempt at the common tongue of westeros. Vandar assumed it was a question and replied with a quick and firm "Yes" while pushing chunks of mud from his robe.

"Not here, Come with the Castle" she continued. Vandar assumed she meant You do not belong here, Come with us to the Castle or something to that respect. Vandar nodded quietly and and his two would be witnesses to his death tailed along as they were paid to do.

As they walked the two guards introduced themselves, The Silent one was named Maeker and the Woman was named Laeria. Vandar had many questions but both simply did not understand the language nearly as much as he had hoped. By the time it took to remember some elementary level of Valyrian, they had already arrived at what qualified as a castle, a great wooden stockade set around a large stone foundation.

This was 'Driftmark' a fortified settlement no better than a town back on the continent, constructed from the same materials that made up the buildings of hull, though with more forethought and planning put into the roads and castle foundation. The Rain of course had turned even this humble pile of sticks into a mud strewn swamp and truly the weather's effects only stopped being felt when Vandar entered the walls and was brought into the largest of three buildings.

Inside it was warm, a feeling that weeks at sea Vandar had all but forgotten about. Inside the floor was stone and a welcome change. The interior of this building was grand compared to beached shipyard Vandar had witnessed earlier and yet it was clearly a temporary arrangement.

Before Vandar in the room were several Men in a variety of brightly colored outfits, hairs and accessories. The Largest Man sat the end of the table covered from neck to toe in Blackened Plate Mail, with designs of flames etched into the steel. Before him were two smaller men with brightly colored hair on either flank, one shuffling papers while the other simply was playing with a dagger by spinning it in place, the point in the wood of the table.

Then sat a man in a great black hat, smoking a pipe and leaning back with his eyes closed. His hair was a silvery white, like the Man in Plate, The Guard Laeria and the Slave Master. Beyond him were three more men at the table and a single woman, all of whom decorated in a patchwork of clothing from the reaches of the narrow sea.

Vandar of course wasn't one to be fooled. The Plated man was no Viserys Velaryon. Any sailor work his salt would not wear such armor, this man was a military advisor. Beyond that however Vandar could not tell nor would have the time to as the smoking man opened his eyes and looked over the old man with deep dark eyes, as dark as any sea, tinted a shade of violet.


"Welcome Friend, If what I'm told is to be believed you have come here to serve me, Yes I know your Tongue, It's quite important to learn how to speak to all the peoples of the Narrow Sea in my profession. They call me the Seasnake, and we have much to discuss"




 

stnylan

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I especially like the update regarding Vander, wrestling in the mud. That felt very alive.
 

Aidun

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House Royce
Part 1 - 6566
''The massacre that took place near Redfort was only the first phase in a plan that was more sinister than anyone could imagine. Drawn out of Runestone by an invitation from High King Roland Arryn, Lord Waymar Royce was murdered along with his children, his brothers and their children. The seat of Runestone was left in the hands of two untested young men who were considered too unremarkable to accompany Lord Royce in his journey. And soon the same sinister force moved against them as well, and the fate of House Royce came to rest upon their shoulders.''

- From ''Rune and Mountain'' by Septon Osmore


Jon watched his cousin, who was examining a crown in his hands. Its circlet was of bronze with runes carved to it, and spikes the shape of mountains sprouted up all around it. A century had past since a Royce had last worn such a thing, but recent events had left Andar no other choice but to return to old ways. There was sadness and uncertainty in the young king's eyes. Never had Andar expected to rule in Runestone, being the fifth in line of succession. But the murder of his kin had not only elevated him to a lordship. The Bronzemen and Lowlander lords of Vale had also hailed him as their new king, a ruler of lands free from the yoke of Arryns.

But for how long, that remained uncertain. Although Jon was one of the best swordsmen in all of Vale, his capabilities as a leader of soldiers had not yet been put to test. But burdens that had befallen on him were nothing compared to what Andar was now struggling with. His cousin had been raised in the ways of the court, to one day serve as a diplomat to Lord Waymar. But instead of having to appease neighboring lords, he suddenly was to rule over them. Only time would tell if he was ready for the duty that now had been trusted in his hands. And that look in Andar's eyes did not hearten Jon one bit. The deaths of his brother, father and all the others touched him more than most.


''Our family lies in the crypts below'', Jon spoke, straightening his pose. ''But the resting place of Waymar Shett and his men has not yet been determined.'' He stood at the center of the main hall, facing his cousin, who occupied the lord's chair. The young king of Rune and Mountain shifted his gaze to him, understanding the question hidden within Jon's statement. ''His remains belong in Gulltown with the rest of his kin'', Andar spoke with a voice so quiet it barely reached Jon. ''As for his son, bring him to the courtyard. It is time his fate is decided.''

Jon bowed his head and turned to leave. Had the decision been his, he doubted he would've showed the dead hedge knight even that kindness. Like a ghost, he came to revenge what was done many lifetimes ago. Once the Shetts of Gulltown had ruled over lands of their own. Kings of the True Men, they had called themselves. But in their hour of need, when their war against Royces of Runestone was seemingly lost, they had put their trust in wrong people. Instead of hiring Andal warlords with gold, King Osgood III Shett sought to bind them to his cause through marriage. He gave his daughter in marriage to the Andal knight Ser Gerold Grafton, took Grafton's eldest daughter as his own bride, and married a younger daughter of Grafton to his own son and heir. King Osgood even went so far as to convert to the Seven, and built a sept in their honor within the walls of Gulltown.

The Shetts won their victory, but King Osgood did not survive to the battle. It was rumoured that Ser Gerold himself slayed his father-in-law during the fighting, for upon return to Gulltown the Andal knight assumed his crown and lands and had King Osgood's son and heir imprisoned. House Shett soon after disappeared from the pages of history, only to now reappear to exact vengeance on those who once caused their downfall.

Had it not been for Lord Morton Waynwood of Ironoaks, they might have succeeded. Although they managed to murder Lord Waymar Royce and most of his kin, Lord Waynwood became aware of their plans before the eldest of the Shetts struck in Runestone. A raven was sent to warn Andar Royce, who ruled in Runestone in the absence of his lord. It reached him in time, and so the hunters became the hunted. Waymar the Wanderer, leader of the band that was destined for Runestone, was slain amidst the battle that ensued. The second band, responsible for the massacre in Redfort Forest, was also ambushed and their leader, Waymar Shett's eldest son Ossifer, was captured. Although some of his men managed to escape the bloodbath, including Ossifer's younger brother Dywin, the Royces had a small taste of vengeance and managed to recover heirlooms that had been lost after Lord Waymar Royce's death. The Valyrian steel sword Lamentation and the legendary runic armour of House Royce were returned to their rightful owners.


Under interrogation, Ossifer Shett revealed the horrid reason behind the atrocities. In exchange for eradicating House Royce, King Roland Arryn had promised to return Gulltown to its rightful owners. The coffers of House Royce and House Grafton would have been shared by the Shetts and the Arryns, the main architects of the two planned massacres. News of what had taken place in Runestone and Redfort soon spread throughout Vale, and Andar Royce, new lord of Runestone, openly defied House Arryn's right to rule over Bronzemen. Soon the real reason behind King Roland's summons was also revealed, when he ordered the lords who arrived in the Eyrie to call their banners and march with him to war.

For a while it seemed that the Royces would stand alone against the rest of the Vale. But Lord Horton Redfort, horrified of the murders that had happened in his lands, decided to stand with House Royce. Known by all as an honorable man, he garnered support from other nearby lords. Lord Morton Waynwood had already played a part in divulging the Arryn-Shett plan, and now declared officially to side with House Royce. Lord Gerold Grafton, afraid that his turn would come next, also called his banners and sided with the revolters. The last to join the lords who King Roland had dubbed as treasonous renegades was Lord Eustace Hunter of Longbow Hall. Together the five lords met in Runestone to discuss their plans, and during the gathering that followed the nobles had proclaimed Andar Royce the new Bronze King of Rune and Mountain.



Jon left the main hall and glanced around the courtyard. He passed the king's command to a nearby sergeant, who hurried away. The yard was bustling with sounds and activity of soldiers and armorers both. As ironic as it was, the death of his family had brought the fortress back to life. If this was the calm before a storm, Jon dreaded to think of what soon would follow. Despite everything, they were heavily outnumbered. Only a third of Vale had chosen to side with them in this war that would follow. And so King Andar had been forced so seek support from outside Vale. Ravens had flown to each corner of Westeros, and messages they carried requested both military and monetary aid. The reception had not been what Andar had expected.

The Andal Invasion of Vale had taken place over a century ago, but most of Westeros was still ruled by petty kings who refused to worship the Seven. Winter King Theon the Hungry Wolf had boldly stated what many were afraid to say out loud: that House Royce had betrayed the faith of their ancestors, and therefore would not receive their aid. But not all were so quick to dismiss the Bronzemen and leave them to their fate. King Titus Peake of Marches was the first send aid to House Royce in form of a chest full of gold. The next, surprisingly, was House Badics of Moonsgrey, who were sworn bannermen of King Roland Arryn. Despite of being enemies in the approaching war, Lord Robert Badics had nevertheless chosen to publicly send aid to House Royce. It was certain to raise some questions at court in the Eyrie.


With the gifts of gold combined with what lay in treasury of Runestone, King Andar had entrusted Jon to hire mercenaries to their cause. Four bands of sellswords had sailed to Gulltown at his summons and joined their host in Runestone. In total, their army now numbered over twelve thousand, including three thousand hired swords. But not all foreign soldiers had come solely because of a promise of payment. Renown warriors and soldiers had also answered their summons, including Bryan Vierling from the lands of Blackwater, Eddison 'the Bane of Clansmen', Morton of Longbow Hall and Wyman of Gulltown. To the lords' dismay, Jon had suggested giving them the command of the army instead of noblemen. None of the Bronze King's vassals was a renown commander, and so King Andar had placed his trust in Jon to do what was needed. In his mind, their host was far more effective under the leadership of experienced soldiers and widely known heroes.


''M'lord'', spoke the sergeant, pushing forward a young man with reddish-brown hair and a wisp of mustache above his upper lip. The leather-clad man, weak from three moon's turns of imprisonment, stumbled and fell on the ground. He struggled to rise up, but with his hands chained behind his back it was easier said than done. Suddenly, all commotion in the courtyard came to an end and all eyes turned towards the main hall. Jon glanced over his shoulder and saw his cousin standing behind him, the crown now donned. ''Sergeant'', King Andar Royce began. ''Prepare the gallows.''


Ossifer Shett's death did not come quickly. He twisted and struggled, feet danging in the air for nearly a minute before finally stopping. His face had turned to purple and his haunting eyes were fixed at the last thing he'd looked at before dying. King Andar looked back at him with a face of contempt. Jon was not sure what he had expected to feel, watching the death of the man responsible for the slaughtering of his family. But then again, did justice feel like anything at all, or was it just a word used to justify yet another unforgiving action?

Every man desires to change the world, some to their liking, some to make it better. But no action changes the world more in the long run than killing another man. Ossifer Shett would not sire children, and his children would not have children of their own. How many lives had just ended? Now, one. In a generation, several. In ten generations, hundreds. In a thousand years.. a million, even? How many moments of joy or sadness would not happen because of the death of just one man? How many heroes or villains had the world just been denied? Jon pushed that thought aside and gripped the hilt of his sword, finding solace from its cold embrace. One thing is certain. There'll be more death to come soon enough.

 
Last edited:

stnylan

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Each action has an equal and opposite...

The cycle of violence is hard indeed to break.
 

Olenksey

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Definitely subbed!
But how did AI managed to asassinate 10 characters at once? This is a Red Wedding, version 2.0 in fact.
 

Aidun

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Their deaths are part of the starting scenario. Royce and Arryn are automatically at war. This 'Bronzeman Rebellion' can end in two ways: either Royce is defeated, imprisoned and loses his crown and vassals. Or he prevails, wins his independence and gets a hefty sum of gold from Arryn.

I wanted to play as House Royce because they start off as something of an underdog. Their starting position is challenging but also has plenty of potential, should one be able to win that first war against all the odds. You will just have to wait and see to know how I did.
 

President Cucumber

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House Hightower 6566 - 6569
"Every time my father drinks himself blind and beds a whore, I quiver with fear for any weirwood unfortunate enough to be in the path of his absolution..." - Abelar Smalltower


My brother thinks me a glorified sentinel, Bryndon mulled over bitterly as the sun rose over the Red Mountains of Dorne. The morning weather was pleasant enough, with a cool breeze blowing off the bay smallfolk and highborn alike called the Whispering Sound. It did little to brighten the Prince’s mood, however. Just yesterday outriders had arrived with tidings of King Titus Peake’s imminent arrival at Oldtown, a day's ride north near Grassfield. Just a year ago Triston had wed Alyssa Peake, sister to Titus. The union bound the Houses together, the two Kingdoms in the Reach which held the Faith over the old gods. The elephant in the room was named Gardener, and only a fool couldn’t see what the marriage would lead to.


Damon sent his sons Triston and Otho, along with a hundred armored knights, to escort the marcher king the final day of his journey. Meanwhile Bryndon had drawn the honor of waiting at first light for their ‘honored’ guests. The honor was lost on Bryndon; he saw only a piss poor reason to wake up three hours before first light. No doubt Damon meant to discuss talk of war with this Titus. The first men Gardener Kings to the north were a massive power, and an utter threat to the existence of both the Kingdom of the Tower and the Kingdom of the Marches. Tensions had been strained since three or four generations ago, when the Hightowers accepted the Faith of the Seven. The talks would include Bryndon, if only for his name. He was a Hightower and thus had a right to counsel.


Prince Byndon Hightower was the youngest of three sons to King Uther V Hightower. Damon was the eldest, and King. Then there was Hugo, whose greatest accomplishment was being named Lord Commander of the City Watch of Oldtown (Hugo insisted on using that full title) and siring three sons. Three sons which, along with Damon’s brood, pushed Bryndon so far down the line of succession he couldn’t see the top. Finally there was Ashara, Uther’s only daughter. She’d been married to some brother of Lord Tarly just a few months ago, a Gardener bannerman who kept the Seven. Even she had a better lot than Bryndon, it seemed. She enjoyed a place of honor at Horn Hill whilst it seemed to Bryndon we has Damon’s errand boy. Here he was, the glorified sentinel.


Bryndon couldn’t help but mull over the honors he should be receiving. There was simply no justice in being the third-born son, every child whelped by your brothers children, and their children, making you more and more insignificant. It was too much to bear. Bryndon thanked the gods they made wine, one area where Damon the so called ‘Devout’ and Bryndon agreed. Thinking on those times, it actually brought a smile to his face. His brother acts his true self when he was drunk, and Bryndon preferred that version to the zealot that chopped down all the heart trees in his domain, or had a seven-pointed star carved on his chest. Sometimes he was a madman, this brother of his.

Bryndon marched the walls of Oldtown sullenly, coming upon the Old Gate where Triston would ride through when he arrived with the Peakes. Bryndon could feel the strength of the walls around him. When he was young, his father Uther had often told him the story. ‘You can’t be at the crest without those below you wanting to tear you down,’ he’d say. So in times long past Otho II threw up the first of the walls around Oldtown. And each Hightower King after him built them stronger, and stronger. Bryndon could almost feel the strength in them as he felt his feet pad the ancient, tough stone. They had stood for a long time, the stones seemed to say, and would stand long after Bryndon had gone to worms.


The city of Oldtown, largest in all of Westeros

His man Boros was chatting idly with a watchmen when Bryndon came upon him. The Prince gave him an annoyed look. “I had thought to have left two watchmen here, but I find two fishwives prattling gossip.”

Boros and the unnamed watchmen stood at attention, muttering apologies, and m’lords. Bryndon eyed the watchmen; he was City Watch, not one of Bryndon’s own personnel. “Get back to your post, guard. Boros, any news concerning our guests?”

The watchmen eagerly obliged, hurrying off as Boros filled him in. “A rider, m’lord. Princeling an’ the like.”

“Triston?”

“No, m’lord, t’other one. The rest of em’ and the Peakes will be ere’ within the hour.”

Bryndon scowled. “My nephew rides through the gate and you don’t think to notify me immediately?”

“Pardon’s m’lord, you was gone an-”

“So send someone you fool. Get out of my sight before I axe you.”

Prince Byndon was called Greystone, and not for his masonry abilities. Dressed in plate, and known for a disposition for violence, he made quite the fearsome figure for the sergeant. Boros muttered a few hurried apologies as he fled into one of the gate towers.

“Bloody fool,” Bryndon muttered when he was gone. His dark, flinty eyes moved to the horizon to the north. The rolling hills of the Reach seemed placid and still. Farmers moved about, some growing the rich fruits of the south, others with wide fields of wheat and barley. And then, suddenly, the flags appeared in the distance. Bryndon could just make them out and orange and a grey flag for Peake and Hightower respectively.

By the time the gates were swinging open, Bryndon and his guard were posted on their horses, waiting. As the commotion neared the gate smallfolk in their curiosity emerged from their houses. Then, suddenly, the party was upon them. Prince Triston rode in first with his brother Otho right beside him. They were armored in their flashing silver enameled armor, with iron seven pointed stars on their helms fashioned to look like some sort of crowns. Behind them rode a column of Hightower knights, dressed more practically in solid iron and dark grey cloaks. Bryndon himself preferred the plain armor of the knights; those flashing silver armor pieces made his nephews awfully shiny targets in his opinion.

Then came the Peakes, and it seemed to Bryndon they brought all their court with them. King Titus Peake rode in first, with his lady wife and family behind him. Bryndon knew them all only by name, Olyvar, Gormon, Queen Rylene and the rest. The only one he could pick out for certain was the powerful looking man riding center with a crown on his head. Even Bryndon could deduce that one. They breezed passed with their own household, knights colored in that bright orange of their house. Bryndon was fuming, hardly acknowledged as the large party poured through the gates and filed into the cobbled street leading to the Hightower, looming high above. One could tell from the Peake party which man had never been to Oldtown before from the way their necks craned up as they rode closer to the mighty lighthouse.


The Hightower of Oldtown, taller than the 700 foot Wall

The next week saw revelry and feasting in such splendor he had not seen in Oldtown all his years, and Bryndon had seen a great deal of revelry and feasting. Sweet golds from the Arbor were brought in by Prince Paxter Redwyne himself, not to mention vintages from Oldtown’s own vineyards.The cooks brought out hot rolls dunked in honey from the beekeepers of Honeyholt, ripe dornish oranges, and even a roast boar his brother’s hunters sought out for the occasion. Countless more plates were featured, and the Hightowers and Peakes feasted every night. Bryndon could enjoy none of it. He was seated in a place of honor with the other extended family of the Kings Damon and Titus. Too far from the center of the table. Bryndon misliked his company as well, seated next some righteous cunt by the name of Gormon Peake. The man seemed utterly unimpressed by the grandeur of the Hightower’s great hall, and excused himself early to attend to some brothel. Bryndon contented himself with getting well and truly drunk. In late nights his brother Damon and him would actually drink together; the only time Bryndon enjoyed the company of his zealous King. King Damon ‘the Devout’ was to holy to partake in such at feasts.


During the final feast his King Damon decided to irk Bryndon even further. Calling for wine, a servant had the gall to tell him his kingly brother had instructed the servants to deny him wine tonight. That was the final straw. My brother thinks he can restrict my drinking like some child? I won’t stand for it.

Bryndon rose to his feet and angrily strode to the center of the dais. Damon saw him before he made it him, rising with King Titus Peake at his side. He noticed his brother had not been drinking either, his eyes studying Bryndon cooly with no indication of insobriety. Bryndon drew his king aside.

“Do you take me for a child? You are my king, but I drink as I will.”

“Stop acting like a fool, Bryndon. I need you to have your wits about you.”

Bryndon blinked. “For what purpose?”

King Damon nodded to Titus, who gathered his brothers and exited through a back door. Princes Triston, Otho were already absent from the hall he saw. “Come on then. Might as well start now.”

Bryndon was still confused. “What’s going on?”

The dwarf waddled up, the incessant third born son of Damon. His name was Abelar, but the small folk called him Smalltower. Abelar gave him a sly smile. “Uncle sometimes I fear you are as dull as the stones they named you for.”


Before he could think of a reply the little man was gone, so Brydon simply cursed and followed in haste. They came out into the common hall and proceeded to climb flight of stair after flight of stair. Bryndon was used to the effort of climbing the Hightower, the ache in his thighs was almost a sweet memory. He delighted to see some of the visitors breathing hard from the labor.

They came into the solar below Damon’s royal chambers. It was not typically the room used for council meetings, being Damon’s own personal study. King Damon seated himself at the head of the table, with Triston and Otho beside either side of him. Hugo was there as well, and the Smalltower had pulled up a chair already. King Titus and his brothers were at the opposite end with a few other commanders. Bryndon looked at them uncertainly before sitting himself next to Hugo.

King Damon set down his crown, a heavy golden thing with each point made to look like a tower. “Do you really think I called King Titus here to stuff our mouths and dance about without purpose? The Gardeners have eyes and ears everywhere. Even within our own walls. No doubt the marriage between Triston and Alyssa already has them wary. If anything were to look awry the Green Hand would suspect an attack and gain advantage on us. They’re right. We are planning war, we just don’t want them to know.”

King Titus nodded. ““I think we can both agree that the Reach is a wall to our ambitions.” said Titus, “A wall that must be torn down.”

“We should strike swiftly, before Grimm decides to bend his knee to the green hand. Together we can outmatch the Gardeners. If the Shield Islands submit, it would tip the scales back in their favor.”

The Smalltower squirmed in his seat. “I’ve been listening to the whispers, father, they are very close to a decision. Right now our combined strength matches the might of Highgarden. But if we wait it won’t last.”

“Then we can not wait. Nobody leaves this room until the plans are set.”

And Damon was true to his word. Deep into the night they poured over a map of the Reach, talking numbers and marching directions. The numbers did not interest Bryndon that much, but Bryndon was pleased to hear he would have the right flank of the Hightower forces. It was an honored position. Triston would hold the left, and of course nothing would do but Damon holding the center. After a great deal of more talking, it was suddenly done. The two kings shook hands on the agreement. It was the hour of the wolf.

“Go home and call your banners. We have much work to do.” Was all Damon said when it was over. A few hours later, as night turned to morning, the sky was dark with wings carrying words of war.


The heart of Oldtown's strength was their heavy knights, clad in steel
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


This excerpt was taken from Maester Colemon, who wrote the following accounts in forging links for history and warcraft. Colemon traveled with King Damon Hightower on his conquest, tending his raven ravens. Titled ‘Histories and Accounts of the Kings of Oldtown,’ it is by far the best account of the wars fought between House Gardener and Houses Hightower and Peake.

In the waning months of 6567, King Damon ‘the Devout’ Hightower and King Titus Peake, who would come to be known as ‘the Bold,’ celebrated their alliance in the city of Oldtown. A year prior Princess Alyssa Peake, sister to Titus, married Prince Triston Hightower, heir to the Hightower throne, unifying the two families in blood. They were the only two great Kings in the Reach who observed the Seven; the Hightowers for several generations and the Peakes as recently as this lifetime. For this reason their union had dire implications for the neighboring Kingdom of the Reach, ruled by the Gardener King Garth.

The two houses, under the guise of feasting and celebrating, made their plans there in Oldtown. The very day Titus Peake rode out the gates, the ravens were dispatched to each and every vassal of House Hightower. Within weeks lords poured into Oldtown, their host camping outside the city walls beside the Honeywine and the lords themselves being hosted in the Hightower. If one had thought the city crowded with King Titus and his household, that gathering now seemed small with a score of lords and their sons crowding the halls. The city was also aflood with refugees from the north seeking safety behind Oldtown’s high walls; word of war was on the lips of every peasant from Oldtown to Golden Grove.

When they were all gathered they numbered some 12,000 in strength, most of them light infantry and spears, but a thousand armored knights as well. After the High Septon blessed Damon’s conquest before the Starry Sept itself, honoring him with the seven oils, a final parade was made through the streets of Oldtown. King Damon’s zealousness was contagious, and the smallfolk took to it eagerly. Conversions to the Seven had risen exponentially since Damon had a seven-pointed carved on his chest on the first day of the year 6566, right before a crowd of thousands of smallfolk. Now, as the year turned to 6568, King Damon set out to make good on his promise.

The host marched north towards Highgarden slowly and deliberately, burning weirwoods where they found them. The Gardeners, for their part, fell back before the oncoming Hightower horde. They had been decimated in wars of their own fought with the westermen to the north, and only a paltry host of 10,000 remained to defend Highgarden. King Damon was sure to coordinate with King Titus Peake, who was bringing his own host of 8,000 marcher lords from the east from Ashford towards Highgarden. Their moving was slow, however, with rumors coming from the Peake camp that King Titus had decided to bring along his pregnant wife. As such when the Hightower host arrived near Highgarden, the Peake army was still a weeks ride away.

King Damon made the decision to attack immediately, rather than waiting for the Peakes to join their strength to his. Damon feared the Gardener host, upon seeing his own superior numbers, would flee rather than fight. The King was not interested in chasing the Gardeners across the Mander, and the threat of House Grimm bending the knee to Gardener still weighed heavily on Damon’s mind. As such on the turn of the moon into the ninth month of the year 6568, King Damon Hightower met Lord Marshal Samwell Tarly of the Gardeners in battle.

The Gardener host, encamped beneath the walls of Highgarden, was well aware of Hightower’s movement. The armies formed up and met each other there, with Prince Triston Hightower commanding the left, Prince Bryndon ‘Greystone’ Hightower on the right, and King Damon himself holding the center. In addition King Damon kept two sizable reserves he employed to cut off retreat for the Gardeners on either side of the river bank. The Gardeners, trapped between their castle and King Damon, resolved to hold their seat against the invaders. Inch by inch the Hightowers pushed the Gardeners back to the very gates of Highgarden. Every inch was paid for in blood.


It was then the Peakes joined the fray, and Lord Marshal Samwell Tarly’s host crumbled before the combined strength of the two Kings. The Gardeners tried to hold a shield wall against Damon’s center, but they were armored in the weaker metals of bronze. Not all the first men had yet to see the value in iron. It was King Damon’s own charge of armored knights that broke through Tarly’s center, cutting like a knife through the flimsy armor of the first men. The numbers were simply too insurmountable, two kings against one, with twice the other’s strength. It was butchery. However, the Hightower victory was not wholly without loss. The king's own brother, Hugo Hightower, took a wound from that battle that would never truly heal. He would succumb from this injury months later.


When it was done Lord Marshall Tarly indeed led surprisingly effective retreat well ordered retreat from Highgarden, against all odds. Rafts prepared beforehand ferried the remnants of Samwell’s host, seemingly showing he had predicted defeat there. Tired from their harder march and longer battle, King Damon invested the castle of Highgarden itself while King Titus sought to chasing down Samwell Tarly. King Garth defied him stubbornly, and Damon prepared siege towers and rams while he awaited King Titus’s return a month later. Together Hightower and Peake brought down the walls of Highgarden and set the castle to torch. The godswood of Highgarden, crested by three weirwoods grown together over time called the Three Singers, was burned wholesale. It was said King Damon kindled his fires that night with their branches, though only Damon himself can know for certain. King Garth himself, likely through some tunnel made for just the purpose, had vanished with much of his family. It mattered little to Damon, who considered the war largely won in any case. During this feast, it is believed, King Damon conceived at least one of his bastards born during the war.


Damon Flowers (left) was believed to be born on a serving girl at Highgarden, and Rohanne Flowers (right) on a farmers daughter near Horn Hill

The Kings Damon and Titus, flushed with victory, flew Hightower and Peake banners for the first time over Highgarden and feasted their lords bannermen there in their enemy’s own hall. It was during this time, it should be noted, that Queen Rylene Peake gave birth to a son who was named Damon after the Grey King himself. Word soon reached Highgarden, however, that the war was not in fact, wholly won. Lord Marshal Samwell Tarly had managed to evade capture still, and was raising a new Gardener host to the south. Alarmed by their precarious position between himself and Oldtown, King Damon marched at once to put an end to the army while King Titus Peake and his general Beric Dondarrion marched to Horn Hill to capture Samwell’s own base.

Here, a few leagues north of Honeyholt, the Grey King Damon finally found King Garth Gardener. 3,000 loyal men had formed around King Garth, but they were far too few in number to make a difference in the outcome of the war. Damon chased Garth for weeks across the southern marches for weeks, always on his heels and never pausing to allow the Gardeners time to rest. With such superior numbers Damon organized his host into rotations, so a fresh mass of troops was always chasing the tired and straggling Gardeners while the rest of the Hightower host followed slowly. Surrounded and tired, King Garth Gardener, ‘the Sage’ surrendered to King Damon ‘the Devout’ Hightower during the eighth moon of the year 6569. House Gardener’s dominance over the Reach was at an end.