The call, soon taken up by other voices, cuts through the murky gloom as the sun has begun to rise, and through the howl of the strange, cool wind from the west that rose in the night. It jolts men worn out with thirst and the heat from their sleep, to tumble out their tents. “They’ve pulled back! They’ve abandoned the ford!” So go the calls. And indeed, where to the south across the river the Dornish camp was, what’s left is barren space, barren space ... and something else: water. A good foot of water, breaking the southern bank, and it’s moving swiftly, swiftly, and rising.
The crossing is now unopposed by aught but nature. The Dornish are some two furlongs further way, and there’s a great deal of activity as mules and men laden with packs—supplies and bundles of weapons and more—hurry towards the higher ground.
Daeron is rousted from his pavillion by Ser Olyvar Oakheart of the Kingsguard, who was standing watch over him through the small hours of the morning. Others of his household are rising as well, grabbing at weapons, shouting at squires to get armor and horses. The king himself hardly waits for any of that, mounting a horse, with little enough armor and an arming sword to hand. He barely even waits for Oakheart and his cousin the Dragonknight before riding forward nearer the bank to see what goes on. Activity begins to fill the camp, men scurrying madly, shouting, giving orders.
“Make way! Make way for the king!” the Green Oak calls, horse literally pushing aside men who are too slow to get out of his way. The king pulls up short of the drop down the steep bank to the ford that’s now just barely navigable, joining any other knights and captains who’ve had the same thought as to survey the situation.
Alek is jolted from his day-dreaming by a loud cry. “They’re gone!” ‘Are they?’ Alek’s sceptical mind immediatly retorts, although not aloud. He gets to his feet, stretching slightly, a hand on the haft of the battleaxe he’s chosen to carry for this excursion. “The river’s overflowing on their side… This could be a tactical advantage, but they now have higher ground…” If the enemy have any archers, then that is the best place for them. He looks up s the Green Oak calls, spotting Daeron just above him on the bank. He climbs up to stand at the kings side. “Sire, if I may offer my counsul…”
Coming out of his pavillion - followed by his lieutenants, Almer Connington, Ethos Mertyns, and Bryce Caron - the Stormbreaker furrows his brow against the baking sun of the barren Boneway. Raising his hand to shield his eyes, he looks back at the Connington knight, saying, “Ser Almer, gather your outriders. Make sure this isn’t a trap.”
To Ser Ethos, he says, “Get me some runners, then gather the archers, we’ll send them across with pikemen to protect them - Go!” Turning as he hears the herald call out the King’s approach, Ser Sarmion steps away, “Ser Bryce with me!”
The giant Baratheon strides forward towards the King. Behind him follows the Marcher-Knight as Almer sprints off to gather the outriders.
“They’ve noticed,” Lord Manwoody remarks, as Dornish pack-bearers streaming past where his banner and picked men stand. He frowns into the murk, the wind whipping the banner above him, carrying away the voices from the other side of the river. But there’s the flicker of torches being lit from campfires, and those are moving, clear enough evidence of the activity. A hacking cough, and he spits on the ground and then tramps on the thick glob of spittle, booted foot rubbing it into the ground.
Elmer stands in the shadow of his tent, the big Crakehall knight following all the commotion with amused eyes. As the Stormbreaker uges his men into action, he makes a sign to his own lieutenants to calm down. “Let’s see what all this si about first.” What? Elmer Crakehall beind prudent. WHoever heard anything like that?
One of the captains who surveys the ford is the commander of the king’s outriders; the Iron Serpent, mounted and armed, if only in hard leathers instead of full harness. A flick of his reins sends his horse dancing aside as the Green Oak clears a path for the King.
“Your grace,” he inclines his head to Daeron, more intent on what lies across the river than courtesies. He narrows his eyes, gauging the distance: “Not what we expected. I have Andry Chester gathering the outriders.”
“A trap? Of course it’s a trap,” says the Young Dragon to Baratheon, reining his horse in hard. “But we’ll have to put our heads in it, and hope the gods favor the bold. It may be our only chance.” Others shout agreement, and without his leave begin running to raise spears and swords for the king, aware that each inch of high water means less men able to win their way across.
“What do you say, Ser Alek, Ser Dagur?” Daeron asks briefly, eyes fixed on the other side of the river.
Alek looks out over the river. “It has obviously occured to your highness that this is indeed a trap. I can see two possible outcomes from charging forwad. One, since the enemy is heading for higher ground, it’s feasible to think that they have archers and are poised to strike as we cross. Bombardment will cause some serious damage unless we can counter it somehow. Two, the enemy has left behind an ambush force to attack the solitary, worn out men as they emerge from the river.” He smiles rather darkly. “Or it could be both. That seems the most obvious course of action the enemy will take.” Why had he thought of this? Because he would do the same in this situation.
“We should collect some of this water, while we’re at it,” Sarmion says, looking as the stream rises. Turning to the Caron heir, he says, “Ser Bryce, mobilize the baggage to refill our supplies. At least we’ll have something to slake our thirst if we survive.”
As the Reyne knight speaks, the Stormbreaker adds, “Whatever the case, we’ll be stuck here or be bloodied. There’s little other choice.”
“Archers behind pikemen as the Stormbreaker says,” is the ironman’s laconic reply. “Four days now my men have ridden east and west. If there was another ford, they would have found it.”
He leans forward, a forearm across his saddle pommel, as if to get a closer look at the Dornish, silent while Alek and Sarmion offer their opinion. In its wake, he says: “A troop of cavalry first to cross swiftly and protect their flanks if there is an ambush. And spring the trap early, perhaps. But it will be a bloody business. They will take heavy losses from their archers until the entire force can cross and push forward. And we will need to have archers lined here to prevent them from being pinned against the river and cut to pieces.”
Elmer makes a sign to his squire to ready his horse, as he’s already in armor. He grins at Sarmion’s words and his voice resounds. “You’d better beware, Ser, the Dornish might have poisoned the water. Make some of the prisoners drink it first!” He looks at the King, awaiting for orders, as his Lannister heavy cavalry is getting ready.
“Good point,” the Stormbreaker says, “Though we have little choice.”
To Bryce, who had turned to march towards the baggage, he shouts, “Make sure you only fill the empty barrels. Mark them well!” Shrugging his massiver shoulds, the Baratheon remarks, “Whatever they could’ve used - a rotting corpse maybe - won’t show within a day or two. You’re right about the prisoners.”
The king takes in the advice with half an ear, as he looks from the rising river to the Dornish rebels beyond the high water. He thinks a moment, calculating… “A foot or two more, and the ford cannot be crossed,” he says at last. “Whatever force we get across, gods willing, will have to be hold to hold its position against assault for the gods know how long.” His horse paws at the earth, throwing its head up and down, snorting, and the Young Dragon glowers.
“Very well,” he says. “Horse. Then pike. Some of our Braavosi crossbowmen, let them earn their pay, and Stormbreaker’s archers. And then whoever else we can get across after that.” He turns the destrier, looking back, glimpsing Ser Reynard and Ser Osbert coming forward through the crowd, and then sweeps his gaze across the rest. A silent moment, and then he says, “And I’ll lead, my lords. Bring my banner! And my gods’ damned helmet!” he suddenly roars, the young warlike king, barely armed.
A squire scurries off, as if the seven hells were opening up behind him, to do as the king bids. And others ... others voice their protests.
“You grace, the danger—”
“—Lord Mors will throw everything at you—”
“... just what they want, your—”
Elmer shakes his head. “Are we afraid of some Dornish?” He growls, and he bows deeply to the King. “I shall be proud to be first after you, Your Grace!” He proclaims, and he places his helmet on as he climbs on his horse, drawing his heavy sword out of its scabbard. His massige charger dances restlessly, and his heavy Lannister cloak flutters behind him.
“It’s a bottleneck. Keep our shields high, they shouldn’t have an angle on us while shooting from above,” the Stormbreaker remarks grimly, “Let them charge into the spears and they can be flanked by the horse while we cut down their rear with archers.”
Turning to his squire, Sarmion says, “Enfren, bring my helm, shield, horse, hammer and sword.”
Alek smiles “Sire, I’ll talk with my nephew and lead some cavalry to protect the pikemen.” He then adds under his breath. “Assuming Victor heeds my counsul this time…” He bows his head slightly. “If you’ll excuse me.” He turns to walk away, planning on how to persuade Victor to give him a squad of cavalry.
Daeron shouts, silencing those yammering their concerns to the king. “I’m no rash, green boy, sers! I’ll tempt them to focusing their assault upon where my banner stands, to win breathing space for those crossing the river. As many as we can get across—that’s all that matters.” With that, the king turns round, regarding all the others gathered here. “Start counting, my lords! Five minutes, more or less, and I’m going across with whatever men we have at the ready.”
Elmer bangs his sword against his triangular shield, and he growls at his Lannister lieutenant. “Move to the sides of the King. If any one of those poxy bastards comes to the King’s side, I’ll cut off your miserable puny cocks!” he screams as he arranges his horsemen in a wedge around the King.
The Iron Serpent does not bother adding his voice to the protests; indeed, he does not seem particularly surprised at Daeron’s decision. Instead, he is dismounting, calling for his own men as his squires arm him swiftly as the confusion swirls and the Young Dragon’s countdown begins; breastplate, vambraces, pauldrons, greaves. And a sizeable troop of outriders answer the summons with a bare minute to go, joining the other riders in full armour now instead of the light mail they wear while scouting.
Then, he is mounted again, taking the serpent helm one of his squires hands up: “A score more, your grace. That should be enough to hold them until the pikemen and Braavosi can cross.”
As the Baratheon knight buckles his sword to his side, lowers his greathelm over his head and buckles his shield in place, Ser Ethos arrives to announce the archers in readiness. Ser Almer Connington soon reports the outriders ready to Ser Dagur.
Picking up Vengance, for so his warhammer has been named, the Stormbreaker moves to take the saddle of his barded horse.
Looking down over the other knights present, his deep voice booms from the depths of the steel that shields his face, “Who leads the pikemen? The archers are ready. I will lead them.”
A few minutes later, a disgruntled Ser Reyne appears, leading behind him a squad of Pikeman and Axemen. It seems obvious that Ser Victor had not heeded his advice, again. His face was as dark as a thundercloud.
“Squire!” He bellows at an unfortunate boy. “Helm, shield. Now!” The young boy quickly disappears, reappearing moments later with a helm wrought with the Reyne family crest. He draws the battleaxe, looking at the gleam as the sun hits it, smirking lightly. “At least my brother conceeded this many men…” He counts four and twenty men, fifteen pikemen and nine axemen. “Form up! Pikers take the lead, Axers take the rear flanks with the cavalry.”
Alek looks up at Ser Baratheon. “If needs be, I’ll lead the pikemen myself.” He offers with a growl.
“Well answered, Reyne,” the Stormbreaker pronounces, “I expected nothing less from the red lion.”
Alek snorts. “I have a duty to prove to Ser Victor that I can manage with whatever scraps he tosses from the table.” The tone of the man’s voice is dark, harbouring anger.
The king, too, has improved his armor somewhat—the squire thought to bring some extra pieces of plate along, as well as the king’s sword, and Prince Aemon convinces the king to dismount long enough for the squire and Ser Olyvar to get them buckled on. But Daeron mounts again. “Two minutes more, sers, then we cross,” Daeron says, looking restless, loosening Blackfyre in its scabbard. When Ser Alek volunteers to lead the pike, the king gives a cursorily look at the men he’s brought along and then nods. “Very well, ser, very well. Ser Elmer, you and your men ride with us—Ser Dagur, you as well?”
Elmer throws a dirty look from behind his visor at the Iron Serpent but this is battle, and no place for personal animosity. Instead he raises his gauntleted fist. “Someone raise the royal standard, lads.” And indeed quite quickly one of the Lannister banners is replaced by the Dragon one.
“Turn your anger on the enemy, Ser Alek,” the Stormbreaker says, “Don’t blunt your sword on enemies too far away to strike when one is near at hand to kill.”
Turning the massive beast he rides, the Baratheon knight raises his warhammer towards the lines of archers, “Form for march!” And the command echoes through the rows of men, their longbows held ready at their shoulders.
“ONE MINUTE!” shouts the Green Oak, now mounted on his own horse. The black armor of the king stands out, surrounded by the white scale hauberks and cloaks of the Kingsguard who surround him. The Dragonknight, the scar on his face showing pale against his sun-darkened skin, lowers the visor of his helm.
Alek takes up his position in the formation, looking behind him, barking orders at anyone who isn’t prefectly in-line. This was not the best time to mess with Alek. He would take the Stormbreaker’s advice to heart, lowering the visor of his own helm, rolling his shoulders to make sure that the armour sits perfectly on his frame. He stands, waiting for the charge.
“They’ll be coming across soon,” Lord Manwoody remarks aloud, rubbing at the shaft of the longaxe in his hands. “Wonder who’ll be leading this charge. Twenty years ago I could have seen that giant bastard Baratheon from here, I’m sure. Now I just squint to no purpose.”
Perhaps the ironman feels the heat of Elmer’s look for he returns it. But the helm is in place now and nothing can be seen of his expression except the hard lines of jaw and mouth: “I do, sire.” And he takes his place to the right of the knot of Kingsguard protecting the King. The outriders form a solid wall of steel and horseflesh; further to the right where they broaden the cavalry line to the ford’s breadth and behind, forming ranks behind the lead riders.
The king draws Blackfyre. Its smoke-black blade, folded a thousand times in the forges of the spellmakers of Valyria before the Doom, lifts up. And then he calls, “Forward!” And with that, he kicks his destrier forward, down the steep slope to splash into the water. To its knees the water goes ... and then higher still, to the belly and even beyond, spurs disappearing in the frothing water as the wind howls. For a moment, his horse stumbles, the current pushing it side ways. He manages to regain control, however, and his Kingsguard are with him, and more and more horsemen as they start to forge their way across.
Behind them, more and more men are being gathered, loud and noisy, trying to find order in chaos, and staring at the Dornish on the other side of the river. Far away, it seemed they were, but somehow they seem much closer with every passing moment.
The Sand Dog, in burnished mail beside Lord Manwoody and with the haft of a longaxe across a shoulder as well, shades his eyes: “You might, but I can see him from here well enough. And…that’s a Reyne’s banner. I killed one of those whoresons last time around. Perhaps I will make the pair today. The Iron Serpent. That one’s easy enough, all in black.”
He checks, frowning: “And three—no, four, five of them all in white. Kingsguard to lead the charge? Wait, they are raising a banner.”
And then, he laughs, soft and long: “Fucking hells. The boy king. The boy king rides in front.”
A long silence from old Lord Mors at this news. Perhaps he thinks Dalt is making a joke, but he squints north just the same. And then, when others start to pick up the news and spread it, he gives a gap-toothed grin through his beard. “More than I hoped. I thought, the boy’s mad, but _that_ mad ...” A shake of his head, and he turns to one of his own. “Get our best men, the hardest lads, up here. We’re not going to stand by and hope the river’ll do the work for us. We’ve got a king to kill,” he commands. Then turning to Ser Laurent he says, “You agree, Sand Dog, or prefer to hold the line? We can end this all, right here, if we can just kill the boy.”
There is a ripple of comment among the Dornish ranks as Laurent Dalt’s boy rides through them bearing the Dornish banner in one hand and with a spear on his shoulder. But his? Something is different about Mordred Sand.
Here and there, then, and all of a sudden, men start to recognize her. Yes, her. Caitrin Blackmont rides openly to the side of Laurent Dalt and looks out over the river. Even with the helm she wears and the shirt of light leaf mail, it is clear that she is no boy. “Where are the archers?” she asks in her own voice, looking steadily over the ford at the black splotch of the King among his Kingsguard.
“I dice, my lord,” Laurent replies, still laughing. “And war is a gamble to make any dice game seem fit only for greybeards. We take Daeron. That is—”
He breaks off at the murmuring from the men behind him and turns just as Caitrin draws rein. “The archers,” he replies with dangerous mildness after staring at her, “are where they should be. Which is more than I can say for you.”
The king’s horsemen plunge forward, the black banner with the three-headed red dragon snapping in the wind as they surge across. They reach the midpoint of the river—the usual river location—with the water lapping up to their saddles, before they begin to climb upwards again towards the opposite bank, and the Dornish beyond. “Forward!” he calls again, for a moment turning in the saddle to throw a glance back, to see that some of his horsemen have fallen into the river—the gods help those in their armor—but the rest are clinging as close as they can, encouraging their destriers forward.
Elmer follows the King, his sword drawn, hsi heavy horse moving forward slowly through the deeper water and his cavalrymen wade after him. He tries to keep as close as he can to the King’s side, his eyes looking up for any sign of threat.
Standing in his saddle, the Stormbreaker raises his warhammer again, shouting, “Prepare for march!” The order is repeated along the columns of men.
Looking towards Ser Alek, the Baratheon shouts loudly to his lieutenants, arrayed around him mounted on destriers nigh as massive as his own, “Wait for the Pikemen to cross, then we will follow!”
The Dornish are moving now, as Manwoody’s best come forward, brown weathered faces, calloused hands holding spears, swords, axes and more. Few enough horse among them, but it will do. Lord Mors mounts, and turns to shout orders. “We’ll be charging at them, just as the boy’s finding solid ground! Gods willing, we’ll send him to seven hells. Push on, spears foremost to try and pin the horsemen down, then the rest to kill. Cripple their horses if you must.” Then, sweeping his gaze to the rest of the force, he raises his axe to them. “If we don’t kill the boy, they may try and press on for fear of the flood. We’ll hold them here if we can, and hope the river finishes what we started. Gods go with you!”
And with that, he turns, and now he can see the black and red banner, and the flashes of white cloaks, and the black armor of the boy amidst his White Swords.
Alek yells “Advance! Leave none in your path alive, dodge the arrows!” Alek pushes forward, leading the Pikemen forward behind the cavalry.
“I’ll go,” Caitrin says grudgingly, casting a sidewise glance at Laurent, and a disbelieving one at Manwoody to have missed a woman riding up beside him. Then she shrugs and turns. “Scorpions would have been a nice addition here,” she remarks, then spurs her horse back through the ranks.
“Scorpions. Now there’s a thought. Trust a woman,” replies the Sand Dog, amused. He mounts: “And see that you do, my lady.”
Then, he is nudging his sandsteed into a walk. The party Lord Manwoody has gathered, fully coalesced now, starts forward with him; their pace is measured and deliberate, for the northerners are still mid-river.
And, at the back of that party, Caitrin Blackmont draws the nasty long knife she wears on her hip, knees her horse to turn it, and joins Manwoody’s party at the very back. Her eyes, dark blue that gleams like the deepest of a sunlight sea, fix on the figure of the king ahead, and she smiles.
The Iron Serpent has kept abreast of the Kingsguard, but several others have not been so lucky. Holes have opened in the front rank where horsemen have been swept away. Behind, it is even more dangerous; riders falling in the press tangle up those around them, causing more casualties.
Then, Dagur’s destrier surges forward, its flanks breaking from the water as the far bank draws closer. Part of the line spurs with him; he draws his blade and raises his voice above the din, calling commands, maintaining the line.
“The water is rising too high and flowing too fast,” Sarmion says. Turning to Ethos, he says, “Get a three lines. We will tie them to our horses, the men will hold to them and make sure they get across. Go!”
The Mertyns knight rushes off to get rope enough for three columns of archers to hold on to.
The Stormbreaker then rides along the columns shouting the orders, “Secure your bowstrings!” Quickly men unstring their bows and put away their strings as best they can against the water they will march into.
The Pikemen start advancing into the river, Alek at the lead. The slowly, but steadily, wade their way through the waters. Alek had forsaken his steeed this time, also.
The formation was spread out, not clumped togetherr like cavalry.
As Alek wades, he tenses his grip on the haft of the axe, looking straight ahead, tensed for whatever the enemy may throw at him
“Bloody girl,” Lord Mors mutters as one of his men lets him know that the Blackmont woman has joined in. “A nursemaid I am not.” Well, that seems to decide it—he says nothing, just waves his axe irritably as he kicks his horse forward faster. The Dornishmen pick up pace, and the further north they go, the more water they encounter. Soon there’s no uneven ground poking above water—the horse’s splash along at a canter, Dornish knights armed and at the ready, drawing nearer and nearer to the enemy as they desperately try to secure a toehold on the southern bank, water around the knees of their horses.
Nearer, nearer—a sudden rise, and the overflowed bank is crossed. The flooding water is at the knees of the destriers—and rising—but that’s better than at their croups. And then the king sees the Dornishmen coming closer, cantering, then trotting, and now Dornish arrows start falling before them, and men and horses groan as the darts find their way through armor.
“To me!” the king calls, and kicks his horse forward now, Kingsguard around him, to meet the enemy with as much distance from the river bank as possible to make room for reinforcements, to shorten the time under barrages of arrows.
Elmer laughs like a madman as he emerges wet from the water, an arrow clattering off his heavily armored shoulder, and he chares at the side of his King, sword drawn, his men following him, thoough one dies with an arrow through his gorget, another quickly steps up to keep the wedge.
Alek dodges an arrow and deflects one with his axe. “Damn! All right, lads! This is the big time!” He yells back to the pikemen, surging forward, dodging as many arrows he can.
The heir to Crakehall has riding near the King all this time, his ferocious black destrier snorting and beating the ground with a hoof. A skinny squire is carrying Burton’s striped lance, while a red-nosed hedge-knight he has appointed as his new captain of the guard few days ago keeps whispering something into master’s ear. A group of warriors, all in heavy armor , brown cloaks with the Brindled Boar emblem covering their shoulders follow their superiors, winking , cackling and jesting. They seem to be eager and ready for battle. So is Burton . ” I hope I will find a proper adversary today, not some weakling….” He doesnt finish the sentence. The King gives the order, and the Crakehall knight spurs his horse into motion, throwing asude his wet cloak.
The lines are anchored to the saddles of the lieutenants of the archer company. Along the columns of men the rope is strung so that each man can hold to it while the horsemen gain the farther bank and allow the men to be pulled to shore.
All hold their bows while taking a grip to the rope. Slowly, the company moves forward behind the pikemen. The river laps at the hooves of the horsemen’s mounts.
The Stormbreaker leads the way.
There’s battle in earnest now, and bloodshed beneath the king’s banner as the Dornishmen wade deeper into the water and start to close around the flanks of his small company of horse. It’s a strange sort of battle, though, with the water slowing it all down, men not so much charging as forcing their way nearer in arrested motion. And the water rises, inch by slow inch.
Throwing spears fly through the air, and many are aimed towards the banner, and the young king beneath. Some miss, some strike the shields of the kingsguard, and others find flesh—man or horse, they do not care which. The king’s sword rises and falls, his shield desperately guarding him, while the white knights of the Kingsguard hold close, slashing and hammering at the enemy. Old Ser Reynard has a throwing spear through the thigh, and growls with the pain; his sword stroke knocks a Dornishman from his horse, and the backstroke takes off another Dornishman’s jaw. Blood pours into the frothing water, men fall into it, and some do not get up again—some, indeed, drown in their armor, unable to find their feet and get up in the snarling, wild chaotic mess.
“Kill the boy!” old Lord Mors calls, as he spots the brindled boar and leads a body of men against it, trying to turn the king’s flank and open him to attack from that side. Behind his horse come men afoot, some sending a last volley of arrows up and over him.
Elmer rides over a spearman while he hacks at another, his crimson Lannister men at his side, guarding the King’s flank as his sword sinks into an unprotected head. As they move forward, he sees Mors Manwoody’s banner and he growls. “That old bastard won’t run away from me now!” He yells as he’s crossed swords with him in the Battle of the Rampart.
Alek can hear the sound of clashing steel, of howling pain and death. The familiar sounds of war. Alek’s heart embraces the sounds like an old friend. He’s nearing the bank, guiding the pikemen towards an empty stretch of bank.
At the back of the lead party, Caitrin decides to do as she was told for once and peels off, riding away from the ford and disappearing through the army. She pauses to look back just before riding from sight, and then she is gone.
Ser Burton slays another enemy . A Dornish lordling has been , for about five minutes, trying desperately to hit him with his mace, and the Crakehall knight has been playing with him like a cat plays with a mouse, only blocking and dodging his strikes, but not attempting any attacks. Finally , Burton gets tired of this. One impact -and the hapless lad falls flat on his back with a slit chest. “You should don you chainmail, if you want to go to combat “-Ser Burton mutters and addresses his men, pointing with a bloody blade ” Fellows. Do you see those Dusky lines? Well, for you they are an opportunity to earn some money . I will give ten dragons to the chap ,who kills most those bastards today . And ,if one of you rogues, by chance, brings me Lord Manwoody , dead or living, I will make his-if he is a commoner-a knight and provide with lands in Crakehall-and if he is a knight, recommend to the King himself. Begin !”
Some blow thrown in the wild melee, and the king’s reeling, a dent in his breastplate. The Dornish knight who dealt the blow presses on with a roar, only to have a white shield—all of heavy oak with an iron rim—flung at him, driving him from the saddle to splash into the water below. With his now-free hand, Prince Aemon desperately reaches for his cousin and manages to get a gauntleted fingers around his arm to steady him. “Defend the king!” the Dragonknight roars, as an arrow *pings* off his helm, and he slashes with Dark Sister, blade screeching against Dornish steel as Manwoody’s men try to close in. The rest of the kingsguard rally about them.
Behind them, the banner-bearer’s horse stumbles, and he nearly falls. Desperate to hold on to the saddle, to not drown as others have drowned in their armor, he lets go the banner staff—it wavers and falls. From the Dornish line, there’s a roar.
Elmer gasps as he enters the melee, the sheer wight of him and his horse plaed behind the mmonstrous cut that shatters a Dornishman’s shield and takes off his arm too. As the King seems to be in trouble he rams his stallin into the side of another knight, taking him with the shoulder, and then trampling over the fallen foe, not bothering to slash at him, but pressing on to close the gap around the King.
The pikers reach shallow ground with minimal casualties and no deaths.
Ser Alek moves to the front. “Form up lines!” The men scurry into formation, lining up, awaiting their next order.
“The king’s dead!” someone shouts, seeing the banner fall. There’s cries of shock, anguish, and the king’s forces falter as there’s a confused moment. Mors Manwoody presses the attack on one flank, Laurent Dalt on the other, and the Dornish fight all the harder sure that they’re about to seize the victory. Then some knight in the fighting, left to wade hip-deep in the water after being knocked from his horse, manages to grasp the fallen banner, pulling the sudden cloth towards him and grabing hold the banner staff. He lifts it above him, with an effort, horsemen jostling around him.
Soaked-through, the banner hardly moves despite the cold, hard blow of the wind, but it’s enough for the men fighting for their lives on the south bank. “The king lives!” is the new cry, and men redouble their efforts. The king, too, seems to recover then, shaking off his cousin, tugging at the straps of his breastplate to loosen it and give him room to breath. “I’m fine, I’m fine! Fight on! Fire and Blood!”
“None so fierce! Fire and Blood!” Comes a roar from a side as the banner is raised, and seeing the Dornish leaders cme towards them Elmer Crakehall breaks off teh ian attack, his own men forming a newer , smaller wedge around him, as he spurs his charger towards the Crowned Skull banner, hsi eyes shining fiercely from behind his visor.
Old Lord Mors’s long-axe is washed clean of blood, thanks to each blow that misses takes it into the water lapping at his feet, for the river still rises. The bank is a froth of water and blood and mud, and an ugly mess all around as riderless horses move about heedlessly, and bodies float in the water. His Dornishmen have pressed, pressed as hard as they can, but the Crakehalls have held the flank. Another swing of the axe, and a horse collapses as blood pours from its neck, a knight shouting as he falls with it. Lifting the axe high, Manwoody roars, “Come on! One last push!” Gathering his knights, he makes another charge, and the Sand Dog leads just such a push.
Behind in the river, men bearing bows held high, and foreign Braavosi carrying crossbows, are making their way across the river. Now the water is up nearly to their necks, and some who miss their footing get swept down the river, shouting and begging for help. There’s no help for them, though, as every man watches out for himself and tries to make it across.
Alek lifts his helm, surveying the battlefield with a smirk on his face. “Men! At arms!”
The men ready their lances, pointing forward.
“Charge!” Ser Alek yells, axe pointing forward. The men behind him begin to run brisquly, but keeping formation. Alek keeps his position at the head of the formation. Soon, they meet the Dornish forces, Alek beginning to hack and slash at anything Dornish that gets in his way, his axe soon gleaming red with blood.
Ser Burton has joined the King’s defenders-having ordered the captain to take the command and attack Lord Manwoody- his chainmail clinging and the grim face behind the visor red with fury. “None so fierce!”-the eldest of the Crakehall cousins roars, as he lands another blow. Suddenly a gigantic Dornishmen wielding a mace (though, it looks more like a big club made out of iron to Burton) tries to split his skull . The knight blocks , there is a terrible impact, and -and in a moment Burtons sword scatters into pieces. The heir to Crakehall dodges the second blow and, snatching a hammer from one of the mercenaries, slaughters the giant-who has been too surprised with his sudden luck to retaliate. Ser Burton meets Prince Aemons gaze . “Great!”-he shouts angrily-“Best steel.. One of the ablest craftsmen in Kings Landing.And for what? Some oversized imbecile?”
The battle grows its fiercest, as the Dornishmen make a last throw at putting an end to the king, as the king’s men make a desperate bid to hold them off. But the king’s stratagem has worked—room was made for the rest of his forces to plant their feet on the bank, to press forward into battle. The arrival of the pikemen led by Ser Alek come just in time, as the enemy presses harder, harder. The Lannister Crakehall men fight with grim purpose, led by the Crakehall cousins, as Lord Mors directs some of his spears to meet them and try to hold them back just a minute more.
And now the first archer has won his way onto the bank, and he’s joined by others. Their bows will soon have damp strings, but at this range it hardly matters. And leading them? A roaring giant, Ser Sarmion, great hammer in hand. He directs them to form a line, to pick their targets with care, and let loose hell.
The Pikers pile into the Dornish flank, fighting their way through towards Ser Crakehall’s men on the flank of the King’s forces. Alek is leading the charge, soaked in blood and dirt, grinning wildly. “By the gods, I’ve missed this!” He yells, decapitating a man who got too close to one of his own.
Now that the Pikemen had joined the fray, Alek now concentraits on going for the middle, planning on helping the cavalry and the Kingsguard. “Lieutenant!” He yells, grabbing the shoulder of the Pikeman commander. “Get together 5 men. We’re going in to save the young dragon!”
Elmer keeps making his way through teh charging Dornishmen. The bloodlust seems to have taken him, and he’s even going a bit too far from his own men in his desire to reach Mors Manwoody. As he sees the older Lord’s battleaxe, he turns his horse sharply, and his sword comes crashing down.
Now once again at head of his horsemen, ones that he didnt send with the captain- Burton lifts his hammer. “Attack”-he spits out-and the whole line , trotting towards the enemy, begins to advance , water still dripping from their soaked helmets and gambesones. The knights charge like mad-and in a minute they pierce the enemy’s ranks, as an arrow pierces an apple. Their lances are lowered , armor glittering and cloaks flattering in the wind.
Manwoody’s shield lifts to take the blow, and the blade sheers through part of it, such is the Crakehall’s strength. Again the two cross blades, old Lors Mors’s longaxe flashing, Ser Elmer’s blade scything, and for a moment they’re locked in grunting, roaring battle as the Dornishmen sweep around, making a last push—only to be flung back by pike points, by Alek Reyne’s bold charge. They start streaming back, the moment lost, and again Manwoody’s men come up to support him, shouting, calling for their lord to withdraw. “Damn!” Mors roars, blood flowing from a groove on the back of his hand where Ser Elmer’s blade crunched through leather and mail. He shakes his axe at the man, cursing, “Seven hells with you!” before one of his best knights convinces him to withdraw. There’s a swirl of combat, as the Dornish press up against Crakehall’s men, forcing them back, again winning space for wily Lord Mors to flee away to the main Dornish body.
Many of the Dornish do the same, as trumpets sound, as the retreat is called. In their wake are bodies, more of the king’s men than the Dornish, but then the king’s men have more to spare. And the king?
Daeron lives. Battered, bloodied, but alive, the king sucks for breath, the heavy helm with its visor almost intolerable. A few knights managed to survive falls into the water, but they’re exhausted. Others, still on horse back, are little better. The archers, at Ser Sarmion’s command, send their arrows after the withdrawing Dornish to speed them on their way.
Alek fights his way through the retreating Dornish to the king’s side, his bloodlust and anger fading. He’s a myriad of small cuts and bruises, unable to feel them at the moment due to the adrenaline coursing through his system. “Your highness!” He calls out. “Are ya still alive?!”
Elmer screams in rage as he points his sword towards Mors Manwoody. “Third time pays for all.” he yells, lifting his visor, perhaps foolishly as there are still arrows flying about. He growls at the pikemen who arrived in time to deprive him of his prey. “Stupid foot!” He lowers his visor again, then raising his sword tos ignal his cousin, her yells. “Crakehall to follow!”
There’s a thin cheer from the survivors of the battle—a third of the knights who crossed with Daeron are dead, the only reason they haven’t washed away in the rising flood because of the weight of their armor—as the Dornish withdraw. The Young Dragon, tiredly sheathes his sword and lifts his visor, as the Kingsguard—cloaks soaked, armor stained red with blood—ward him. “Ser Alek. Form your pike, join with Ser Sarmion’s archers on the flanks, and go forward as far as the Dornish will let you.” He searches around, and finds the Iron Serpent and Ser Elmer still ahorse. “Follow the pike, charge to force the Dornish back if you can. Every inch of space, sers—every inch! We must get higher.”
Why the desperation? Because the river’s a foot and a half higher now, and if the rise is abating, it’s hard to tell. No more men cross the river. Little more than six hundred men made the crossing, and more than a hundred of those dead. The Dornish? Two thousand or more, standing on the ridge to the south, or hip-deep in the water as Lord Mors gathers those who followed him to hold the ground. Archers can be seen wading in from the ridge, to provide some archery support to the bloodied Dornishmen.
Elmer raises in his saddle, braving the flying arrows and makes an imposant figure as he orders the charge, his gauntleted fist in the air signaling his cousin to take the other flank, to catch the retreating Dornishmen in a pincer movement, with Alek’s pikemen coming through the center.’ The Lannister heavy cavalry veers to the left.
Alek smirks “Yes, sire!” He turns, cupping his hands around his mouth. “Pikes, form up! Weapons ready!”
It takes all of two minutes for the remaining Pikemen to form up, weapons poised at the ready. “The king wants us to push, so push we shall! Forward!” The men cheer, albeit tiredly and start persuing the Dornish retreat, coinciding nicely with Lannister’s cavalry.
” I am with you, cousin!”- Burton nods , and his men press their horses forward, trying to get at the pikemen The heir to the Crakehall has once again been lucky-he had lost only three men in the past mad melee. Now the rest of his forces, led by the red-nosed captain , join the charge across the field,increasing the pressure on the enemies.As he canters ,waiving his hammer , Ser Burton shouts to his cousin ” It was a close one, Elmer! I bet you will kill him by the end of the campaign!” Just as he says that his group breaks through the lines of the pikemen.
It’s nighttime in the King’s camp, and torches burn from here and there. But by the big crimson tent, the large figure of Elmer Crakehall moves, out of his armor, but still in riding leathers, hsi dark hair matted with swat as his his short beard. He yells at his squire. “Move faster with that pig on the spit, and bring me more wine.”
Alek was watching nearby. “Forgive me for intruding, ser, but I’m sure the pig is roasting as fast as it can.” He smirks lightly.
Burton Crakehall, muttering something, advances his cousin. His cloak is wet and greasy-and his hair and face are even more so. “Bring me some water-and be quick about it “-he orders his squire, before greeting two other knights ” Hullo, coz. Good evening , Ser. You have fought well today-your deed with the flag was truely an act of chivalry. Did you mention some kind of pig, Elmer? Were you talking about Dornish bastards?”
Elmer sighs a little as he sees the leader of the pikemen. “You robbed me of my prize today, ser!” He says in a loud voice, but then he laughs. “But I can’t blame you, it mustn’t have been easy crossing that ford on foot. Come and join me for a drink.” he grins and raises his fist towards his cousing. “And no, this time it’s roasting pig, Coz…of course I don’t know if there’s enough for the both of us..”
Alek smiles lightly. “Ser Elmer Crakehall, correct? And you…Ser Burton Crakehall.” He knew their names, but it was a conversation starter. He notes Elmer’s loud, boisterous manner and, in stark contrast, his cousin. Quiet. He accepts the knight’s invitation. He steps into the light, still covered in cuts across his face, bare arms and rips in his clothing. “Sorry for my appearence. Haven’t had a chance to change.”
” I will order to roast another one , if you like . Or maybe you would like some mutton . I am rich with supplies”-Ser Burton shrugs, and pulls his soaken cloak off, before starting to squeeze the water out . Then one of the guardsmen helps Burton to free himself from the jackboots . “Yes, I am Burton , the heir to Crakehall, and this my good-for-nothing cousin Elmer”-the knight replies with a grin-” I think we have met a few times, Ser Alek. At Castamere. My sister Amella is betrothed to Wendel, the third son to Lord Bertrand Reyne. You belong to a very noble and distinguished House, Ser”
Elmer laughs merrily, and offers Aleck a cup, while holding his own, fos his squire to pour into. “This should warm you up. If there’s one thing that these Dornish have it’s the wine.” he raises an eyebrow towards his cousin. “I suppose you’ll be wanting some too.” he says in a mock growl while the squire offers a full cup to Burton. As Burton details the various blood connections he sighs. “Ahh, another relative. I am plagued with cousins.”
Alek accepts the cup of wine, sipping from it, not a huge fan of wine. “I do recall seeing you about in Castamere. Weither we’ve talked or not is lost on me for the moment. Bloodlust is such a powerful feeling.” He smirks. Alek has an annoying habit of always smirking. It’s not sure weither he’s serious, mocking or just being rude. “I knew Ser Wendel was getting married, but to who I care not to know. I prefer to not privvy myself too much with my brother’s affairs.” He looks to Elmer. “The Reyne’s are very interconnected. We spread through most of the families.”
“You are BLESSED with cousins “-Ser Burton snorts with laughter and threatens Elmer with his huge fist ” And we cousins are plagued with a burden of constantly getting your ass out of ....Well, you know out of what. You should tell Ser Alek about your magnificent love affair with a Dornish princess!” Then he turns to Ser Alek, toasting him ” You are a married man and a father ,like myself, I think, Ser Alek? I have heard that you have three beatiful daughters -time to think about betrothals and to renew old connections, eh? Thanks to the gods my children are too young for all this fuss”
Elmer chuckles again, and drinks deeply from his cup, some of the vine trickling through his beard. “Do not worry, Ser, it happens for most of us, Burton is easily forgotten. “He grins, flashing his white teeth towards his cousin. He grins shamelessly towards Burton. “Oh, it’s a love story now. Asking for her favor..you feelows are like old women, always chattering.”