“They’re coming,” announces the rough voice of aged Lord Manwoody, standing atop a man-made rampart of stones and earth stretching the width of the pass. A trench has been dug before it, and behind? Hundreds of Dornishmen, boys and old men among them, some showing the signs of years of fighting in the mountains, and others the look of recent levies. The work has taken a week or more, and it seems that this has been Lord Manwoody’s task while his raiders have harried the king’s march as best they could.
And now, it comes to the test. To the north, the first banners and horsemen can be seen cresting a rise in the pass. They approach well-aware of the fact of what they’re facing—outriders have preceeded them, and ridden back in haste to report.
“Very clever… for barbarians,” Meros says in Valyrian. The Tyrell knight sits on horseback observing the siegeworks prepared by the Dornishmen. He turns to a shieldbearer beside him and adds in the same language, “Fascinating! How many men do you think will die assaulting such a place? We can only send about a score at a time in any assault, perhaps three deep manning ladders… Shields will only block so many of their missiles.”
Shrugging, the man they call mad turns his horse to look at the men-at-arms prepared with ladders as they are settled in depressions somewhat out of view from the besieged enemy.
“Slowly. Took them longer than I had thought. They have learnt their lesson these past few weeks,” remarks the man standing beside Lord Manwoody; the Sand Dog, snarling hound helm tucked under an arm.
He looks behind to the army waiting behind the rampart. At its is its mailed fist; one part of his men commanded by Willum Gargalen, among the hardiest troops here. Bloodied by weeks of a fighting retreat along the Boneway, they yet seem stolid in the face of the oncoming army. Further back behind the lines is the other part of his men, with some of Lord Manwoody’s to add to them; clearly, the reserve.
“Perhaps several a few rounds of our own missiles will soften them up nicely before we advance.” comments the heir to Brightwater, with a glance back at their own troops. “While I’m sure we could eventually conquer them through direct charges, we would hardly be in any condition to continue our advance.”
“Slowly. Took them longer than I had thought. They have learnt their lesson these past few weeks,” remarks the man standing beside Lord Manwoody; the Sand Dog, snarling hound helm tucked under an arm.
He looks behind to the army waiting behind the rampart. At its heart is its mailed fist; one part of his men commanded by Willum Gargalen, among the hardiest troops here. Bloodied by weeks of a fighting retreat along the Boneway, they yet seem stolid in the face of the oncoming army. Further back behind the lines is the other part of his men, with some of Lord Manwoody’s to add to them; clearly, the reserve.
Among those few men milling around Lord Manwoody and Laurent Dalt is an exceedingly pretty lad, his dark hair shorn short and caught back by a leather strap across his brow. He has a leather helm tucked under his arm, and turns the slender shaft of a spear in his long-fingered hand. With his other hand he shades his eyes, peering up at the men atop the rampart and waiting for something to happen.
“What?” Meros asks Dalton with a frown in the common language of Westeros. He looks back at the siegeworks set high above them on the trail out of a depression in the Boneway. The Tyrell knight shakes his head, “No, that would be a waste of arrows and the men would die. The Young Dragon is correct. Assualt is our best way forward.”
Looking down at the men and their ladders crouching on the ground. He muses in Valyrian, “Archers will help as a distraction, wouldn’t you say? Keep the savages in their holes a bit longer…” He remarks to the shieldbearer who murmurs his assent.
Wheeling his horse, Dalton Florent raises a hand. “Halt! We will form up at the rise before continuing our advance.” Turning back to Meros Tyrell, he asks “Ser, do we have any rams? I wonder if destroying their earthworks might be better than trying to scale them.”
With warhammer held in hand, atop his horse he sits, Willum is looking out among the troops assembled, there at the center, as he likes it, the place where he has the chance to see the nastiest fighting
The king’s banners fly above the leading elements of his march, and these forces are arrayed for battle, clearly enough. The king himself can be glimpsed behind them, magnificent in royal armor, the tall helm bearing a golden dragon, and a destrier black as a Dornishman’s heart. There are various lords and knights arrayed about him, organizing the assault on the Dornish position.
“We can try a few volleys, though I expect it’ll do little enough,” says the Young Dragon to Ser Dalton after Meros speaks. “Not the Braavosi—we’ll keep the crossbows on the flanks. Longbows only, and have them arc it over the earthworks if they can.” He shifts his weight in his saddle, glances to his cousin the Dragon Knight, and then to Ser Meros. In Valyrian, he says, “A distraction is what we must hope for, ser. The less men lost to this attack, the better, until our men our in place to flank them. Gods willing, it will not take long.”
“Where are we going to find trees to build rams? We’re in a desert,” Meros remarks dryly in Common to the Florent, “We’re lucky to have ladders.”
Bowing his head as the Young Dragon speaks, the Tyrell knight waves a dismissive hand in the Dornishmen’s direction, “I agree, your Grace. Send the archers with pavisses in front of them, it will give them some protection while they fire. Then, under our fire I will give the advance to the men-at-arms.”
Turning, he looks at the Florent and says, “Ser… Dalton, please arrange the reinforcements. I doubt much these few men we send first with the ladders will survive long. They have a trench before their earthworks that must be taken first as well. “
Lord Mors nods at the Sand Dog’s remarks, tugging at his whiskers with a free hand. There’s a longaxe resting against his leg, and soon enough his hand is back to resting on the butt of it’s shaft. “It’s a worry that this boy has learned, but no help for it. We must hold them here as long as we can, to let their water dry up,” the aged lord says, scowling as the mass slowly approaches. He steel gaze sweeps the pass, and studies the heights above it. Meaty hand gripping the axe, he hefts it to point. “There. We should have some archers there. Let the boy see them going into position. Might give him something more to think about.”
And as black as a Dornishman’s heart too is the armour of one of those who ride beside Daeron; he is on Aemon’s other side, the white knight and the dark making a startling pair.
“Hard and fast, Dalton. Send in the skirmishers in the second wave. Armour will not save them here. The faster they are atop that wall, the longer they will live.”
And as black as a Dornishman’s heart too is the armour of one of those who ride beside Daeron; he is on Aemon’s other side, the white knight and the dark making a startling pair.
“Hard and fast, Dalton. Send in the skirmishers in the second wave. Armour will not save them here. The faster they are atop that wall, the longer they will live,” the Iron Serpent speaks for the first time.
“Certainly my lord.” Riding back a short distance, Ser Dalton begins arranging the men into lines of battle, with archers with pavisses followed close behind by infantry.
He then arranges the skirmishers into small knots of men to pierce points on the enemy line and spread.
As Willum stands there, he scratches at a relatively fresh scabbed wound on his arm, the wincing on his face shows the pain of the action, but soon enough he is bleeding anew and a bright, sadistic grin crosses his features, pulling his gloves back on, Willum begins to look around, getting quit antsy as he awaits the fight. “Today we push them from our lands” He mutters, though quite loudly
“I have sent them already,” the Sand Dog replies, scratching his jaw. “Didn’t have time to talk about it with you.” If has the nominal air of an apology but he does not seem to put much into it. He looks around: “But a few more so that he can see them should work. Calyn!” At the call, one of the men waiting nearby atop the rampart comes over; Laurent sends him off with swift instructions.
“Mordred,” he calls again. “Come here, boy. You have the sharpest eyes here. Take a look and tell us which banners fly beside the boy-king’s.”
The pretty lad claps the helm onto his head and comes along the earthwork to stand beside Laurent Dalt. Spear still in hand, Mordred Sand shades his eyes once more and looks keenly toward the slowly advancing army. “Bloody Dragon, of course,” he says in a low voice. “Tyrell. That’s where Meros got to,” he adds, pointing. “Bastard made it out of Sunspear after all. More Tyrell… I’m not sure what that—no, wait. Saltcliffe. There, next to the dragons. Armor like night and so far up the Tyrell backsides he’s almost next to the boy-king himself.”
Ser Dalton rides back to the king and the Iron Serpent. “The men are prepared. I have shifted much of the cavalry to the flanks to guard against enfilading fire. The rest I have held in reserve until the Dornish line is breached. Against entrenched spears, horses fall fast.”
Manwoody squints up at the steep hillside, to try and spot Dalt’s men up there, and shrugs. “Good enough, so long as the boy sees them,” Mors says, and then regards the boy with him with a flat gaze. “Ah, youth. Wish my eyes were still that good. That’s why it’s axe-work for me.” Another long look, and then with a grunt he turns his gaze back out. He waits to see what changes are being made to the disposition of the king’s forces, and then with a nod to Ser Laurent he moves along the earthwork to where Wild Will is readying his men. “How are your men, ser? Ready for the task at hand?”
“You’re not going to get horses over that wall, Ser,” Meros says surpressing a yawn, “Prepare footmen. This is growing tiresome. Send the archers and the laddermen right behind.”
Turning to the Florent he says, “You may begin the assault, Ser.” He draws his sword and raises it, preparing to give the command.
“Meros. The Prince should have let us gut him,” the Sand Dog shakes his head, low enough that only Manwoody and Mordred can hear him.
He raises his voice, “Take a good look, men. The boy-king, the Dragonknight, Mad Meros, Florent, the Iron Serpent… you’re not likely to see so many whoresons in one place even in a Shadow City poorhouse.” There is a burst of laughter at that from everyone who hears, an expulsion of nervous energy.
But Laurent himself is frowning, one hand shading his eyes as he studies the approaching army, the other absently on the boy’s shoulder: “Where is the Stormbreaker? He is the biggest whoreson of the lot. Look again, lad.”
Willum turns his gaze upon Mors and he offers a brief nod towards the aged bear of a man. The scarred up and wide muscular bodied Dorne glances back over his shoulder at the assembled men. “They are usually always ready and waiting, though they know I will take them into the thick of the thick, they still follow me and come out of it” Willum tells Mors. The blood on his arm from his recently picked scab, and what must have been a large scab is dripping on the ground. “I can smell those knights out there shitting themselves, can you?” He turns towards his men. “I can smell them shitting themselves in fear of fighting us! LETS GIVE THEM A REASON, BOYS”
Florent dismounts and strings his bow, preparing to advance a short ways and coordinate the covering fire. “At your pleasure, your Grace.”
Mordred, apparently unaware of Lord Manwoody’s scrutiny, nods once to the man and then again to Laurent. “He isn’t there,” the lad says, though he does take another look, stepping forward a pace as if doing so will bring the Westerosi army into sharper focus. “I see Florent, but the Stormbreaker is not there. I would not miss him, ser.”
Mordred shifts his grip on the spear as the enemy forces start moving and glances at Dalt. “Shall I trot back to the reserves?” he asks in something like resignation.
Watching the archers getting into position and the 100 yard span of wall arrayed before them. Then, he inspects the footmen behind them bearing ladders and shields at the ready. The man they call mad nods confidently.
He lowers his sword in a cutting motion and shouts, “Advance!”
The archers move forward, seeking to close to bowshot with the Dornish.
The Sand Dog continues to scan the Westerosi host for a moment longer, then shrugs, dismissing the matter. “Here they come, then,” he murmurs as the northern archers begin to advance.
The others have already begun to make their way down from the rampart and he swings around to follow them, managing, even now, to seem unhurried: “You and I both. I have the reserves. Unless you want to stay up here and hold the top alone, of course.”
Mordred scrambles down with Laurent, not even trying to look unhurried. “I’ll pass,” he says in response to the knight’s suggestion that he might prefer holding the rampart alone.”
Advancing with his men, Florent moves about half the distance to the Dornish encampment, before stopping with the archers and beginning to open fire, always with one eye on the progress of the infantry.
“Ahh, and here they come, let them die” Willum takes in a deep breath, waiting till its almost unsafe to still be up there and then makes a charge off the rampart down to his men. “I cant believe it! they are coming, I thought they got a good look of me up there and were afraid!” Some of his men give a nervous chuckle
More of the king’s men crest the rise, even as the vanguard now comes into contact with the enemy. This is marked by a flight of arrows rising into the blue sky and arcing down, down to fall among the first of Florent’s archers. Florent’s force lets loose a volley in return, and battle is joined. And behind them, men-at-arms and pike are preparing an assault against the entrenched foe. The king’s attention is taken up with looking at the exchanges, and trying to decipher the movements of the Dornish behind the rampart. The archers clambering up to the heights draw his attention, and win a frown, but he says nothing. Instead he turns to remark to his captains, “We should make use of what space we have, to send men across the whole length of the earthworks. A second wave will come forward when we falter, or when some part of their defenses does, my lords.”
There is a giant buzzing as if a thousand hives had spilled their bees into the pass. And with that, the ranks of Dornish archers behind the rampart send their first volley to darken the skies and fall among the northerners. And in response, the enemy’s first arrows start to fall among them.
Fall dangerously close to the Sand Dog as he skirts the edges of the main force to make his way back to the reserves, in fact. One man falls, coughing blood as an arrow pierces his neck; another crumples, staring at the shaft jutting from his thigh. Laurent curses succinctly as another arrow shatters on the shield slung upon his back; he slides it swiftly off and onto his arm.
Holding it at an angle above and behind, he seizes the scruff of Mordred’s tunic and pushes him into a half-crouch ahead of him, picking up his pace: “Keep low. Pity to die before the battle has even begun properly.”
“Sound the charge,” Meros says idly to his shieldbearer. Then, hearing the Young Dragon’s words, the Mad Tyrell bows his head, “As you will, your Grace.”
He begins walking his mount forward to where the Florrent knight is taking cover, the Tyrell’s shieldbearer struggles to keep pace, “Ser Dalton. Prepare the assault. The king wants you to strike the wall several places at once and keep pressing the assault.”
Looking at the Dornish position as the arrows fly passed his face. Meros looks at the pikemen and those bearing ladders and raises his sword, shouting, “Charge!”
Elmer Trumpets do indeed sound as a detachment of heavy cavalry bearing Lannister flags and led by a big man in a Crakehall surcoat , his visor lowered arrive just behind the crest. Shields are raised to protect them against the arrows, and his gruff voice resounds. “We’ll cover your advance, lads. If those bastards try a sally we’ll be ready for them.”
“Yes, Lord Tyrell. You may inform the king that I will strike at these two points on the enemy’s left flank, the center of the enemy’s line, and that point on the enemy’s right flank.” says Ser Dalton, pointing at various spots on the enemy line. “The assaults on the left and center will occur slightly before the one on the right, in hopes of drawing their reserves into the earlier conflicts. I will personally lead the one in the center-left area. Have more troops ready to exploit any progress we succeed in making. May the Warrior protect us all.”
Florent draws his sword and orders the advance
More and more archers show along the heights now, and they begin to make themselves felt. Their numbers are few enough that their arrows are no more than pinpricks—but painful ones. For these are clearly the most skilled men handpicked for the job, with the advantage of a height and the wind behind them, and powerful Dornish bows in hand.
And so they choose and aim, sending their arrows at the captains and lords. One begins to shoot steadily, methodically, at Meros, another at Dalton. And a few more go for the biggest prize of all. First just one, then more arrows begin to fall near the Young Dragon.
Suddenly, the lordling riding at the King’s left hand is driven off his mount; the horse neighs and half-rears, backing away. Then, Dagur is in the gap, shield up, covering himself and Daeron: “They have our range, your grace. Further back, perhaps.”
“The Warrior? What a quaint notion,” Meros watches the footmen advance. Many of them fall beneath the javelins and arrows but enough remain to bear the ladders forward. Just then, the Tyrell shieldbearer falls from the saddle, even as the mad knight is riding away from the wall, through the lines of soldiers advancing towards it.
Returning to the King’s side, the Tyrell knight reflects, “Ser Dalton will strike at three points, hopefully with ladders if he hasn’t forgot them… The left flank, center, and right flank.”
Elmer laughs from behind his visor. “Those lads do carry ladders.” he looks at his own men, armed with long heavy spears, fit for a heavy charge. “Is there anything you had for us, Your Grace?” His laughs merrily as an arrow passes not too far from his head. “Dratted Dornishmen!”
Arrows fly, and here and there among the Dornish troops lined behind the rampart with their spears and swords and bows there are cries of pain and final groans before death. Yet protected as they are, the toll taken on them is less than that visited on the archers of the invading force. Mors Manwoody, a some of his remaining knights joining him, stands near the very top of the rampart to lead a wing of the defending force.
“There. Now they’re coming. Time to get those spears stuck in, lads,” the Lord of Kingsgrave calls. “Cut them down when they try and clamber over, and grant no quarter!”
Rallying his small company of men and ordering them to fan out to the sides of Florent’s main force, Ser Sorin of Sevenstreams hefts his longhandled warhammer and kicks his warhorse forward with the rest of the advance. Tightening the strap of his helm, he hefts his large kite shield from over his shoulder and holds it before him to guard from arrow volleys as he moves forward.
The sound of the advance is all too obvious and Willum begins to grow antsy as he awaits the first men to scale the wall and press the attack. Willum looks down over himself and glances to say some smart comment to the man he had been joking with beside him when he sees the man is crumpled dead. “Well shit…” Willum shrugs and turns to the guy on his left instead. “Doesnt it just make you excited when you hear that sound?”
Back among the reserves, Mordred Sand clambers up onto a boulder to watch. “Arrows coming very near the boy-king,” he observes to Laurent, craning his neck and squinting. “Getting hard to see, though. Want I should climb up there?” He points to the heights above the pass, where the Dornish archers make their deadly rain.
Coughing slightly, Mad Meros watches with slight interest as another Tyrell retainer takes the empty saddle of the former shieldbearer. “Welcome to the battle,” he says idly.
Squinting against the sun to look at the archers on the heights, Meros turns to the Young Dragon and offers, “Oh, archers… I suggest you turn the scorpions on them, your Grace.”
Daeron lingers for a moment, craning to get a better look at what goes on as the report is made to the king of Florent’s advance. A hand whisks at the air, as if sweeping aside Dagur’s words
Daeron lingers for a moment, craning to get a better look at what goes on as the report is made to the king of Florent’s advance. A hand whisks at the air, as if sweeping aside Dagur’s words; that the Kingsguard pull tighter about the king and heft their shields is no surprise, if Daeron means to hold this position. “I’ve well armored, ser,” the king says, and his voice resounds within the helm; yet the visor is up. “They’ll soon enough turn their attention to the assault. The fewer archers aiming at them, the better for us all.”
The Dragonknight then starts, “Your grace, your—”
“—visor. I know, coz.” And with a sigh, Daeron lowers it. He doesn’t depart, however. Ser Reynard, the Lord Commander, calls for pavises after that to ring the king’s position. And then, with a nod from Daeron, he sends Osbert Bettley out to have one of the scorpions dragged nearer. “It will be some time, unless they think to change the oxen to horses,” Daeron says, his purple eyes still on the battle spreading out before him.
Ser Dalton reaches the the enemy’s trench. He raises his voice, “Ladders Up!!” He lifts his shield to provide some protection to the troops scaling the ladders, directing others to climb into the trench and raise their shields as well.
“If you are the sort to pray,” Laurent remarks to Mordred as he too clambers atop the boulder, shading his hands, “best start now. One lucky arrow and the war would be won.”
Nearby, the reserves wait, watching the battle, bantering about when and where they will be needed. “And no,” the Sand Dog adds belatedly. “I want you close at hand. Besides, what we need to watch—”
He points to the rampart, “—is this side of the wall, not the other.”
Having dismounted his warhorse and sent it back with a young squire, Ser Sorin now leads his small company of hedge knights and men-at-arms forward afoot. He is first up the ladders, his kite shield held high above his head as he ascends the rungs. Arrows deflect off his shield and even a large rock or two strain his shield on, but he still presses upward steadily. “Cursed archers! Stop flinging things and fight me like men,” he cries as he reaches the top of the ladder. Readjusting his shield he swings his modified hammer at a man’s head while an errant arrow ricochets off from his helm.
“My lord,” Meros’ new shieldbearer says, “Lord Ardon wishes me to bid you keep yourself from harm. You take too much risk, my Lord.” The Mad Tyrell smiles and asks, “Do I? I suppose it’s all relative. A man who rides in a battle is certainly in more danger than one sitting in a tent.”
Riding beyond the ring of pavisses surrounding the King, followed nervously by his shieldbearer, Meros remarks, “Ah, the assault has begun… With not quite half the assault force lost. Well, that is luck. I suppose Ser Dalton’s Warrior is with him.”
An arrow ricochets off Meros’ pauldron almost escaping the knight’s notice.
Elmer growls as more arrows fly by, and he raises his visor to take a long drink of wine. He makes his horse dance a little, before lowering his visor. His long sword is still in its sheathe as his cavalrymen await orders. As the firts ladders reach the walls, he straightens up to see better as the fight is joined.
“Ser Elmer,” the king calls. When the Crakehall’s before him, he points to the left end of the rampart which the Dornishmen are fiercely, bloodily defending against Dalton. “See there? Lead your troop there swiftly, then dismount and approach on foot; let the squires take care of the destriers. We shall see how the Dornishmen respond if we begin to reinforce one side.” As he talks, another few arrows fall about him, some skittering off shields, others falling harmlessly to stick in the dirt. Cool and collected, the Young Dragon doesn’t seem to much care.
Seeing Sorin top the earthwork, Ser Dalton looks around at how the other assaults are going. He can’t see the assault on the Dornish right flank, but the center assault is not going well. A few have managed to ascend to the top, but they are hard beset and can’t seem to establish a beachhead.
Elmer draws his sword as the King gives him his orders. “Consider it done, Your Grace.” He makes a sign to his bannermen and soon enough the heavy cavalrymen gallop across the exposed stretch of land, luckily the fighting at the wall lessening the amount of arrows fired against them. He dismounts, with his crimson cloak heavy on his back, and shield and sword in hand he leads the charge of his armored men in reinforcement of Ser Dalton. Their large shields and breastplates offer more protection against arrown, even if slowing them down a little, and soon, they are fighting atop the battlements.
Sorin’s modified stonemason’s hammer lets out a satisfying crack as it caves in the man’s helm atop the rampart. The archers immediately around him begin to back off, but continue to fire, while several draw arming swords. Sorin’s hammer catches one man in the chest and another under the chin, splitting his jaw in half and crumbling the man to his knees. Arrows continue to rain down around Sorin and he is forced to keep his large kite shield up as he moves forward, methodically dismantling men with his hammer as he shuffles forward. An arrow or two flick off of his chainmail, but a single arrow jams in at his shoulder and sticks in. He flinches for a moment and then lets out an enraged cry, smashing one soldier between his shoulderblades as he tries to turn about.
As Sorin begins to make some progress, his other men begin to fill in behind him and they collectively press forward as other supporting troops come to join him.
Following behind the Lannister shock troops, Ser Dalton climbs to the top of the rampart. The fighting is fierce, but the Westerosi forces have succeeded in clearing a small space. From here, Dalton can see the assault on the Westerosi’s far-left flank. It has been disastrous. The men are pinned down in the trench with few of their ladders intact. “Expand to their left! Anchor our flank against the wall of the pass! Onward the Rose and Fox!”
The first of the king’s men come up to the rampart, under a hail of arrows and thrown spears, and then contact is made. Jumping up from behind the cover of the rampart, Dornishmen with long spears start stabbing down at the enemy as they try to work their way through the ditch and up their ladders. There are curses, cries of agony, prayers. Blood starts to pool in the ditch, and still more brave men come to do as their king bids, and die.
Where the defense seems weakest—where Dalton Florent manages to climb up to hold with a few men a bit of the rampart—a bear of a man leads a counter rush, longaxe swinging. Mors Manwoody and his knights, hardened by years of raids and warfare in these mountains against the king, make a fierce onset. Elsewhere, the rest of the remaining knights and more heavily-armored Dornish not in the reserve leap up to plug any gaps. Men are stabbed or hewn down, a few are pushed to fall back into the ditch, and efforts are made to push the ladders down or chop them into so much kindling.
Only a few in score make it up the ladders to the wall. Tyrell lie in the red dust of the Boneway, their roses pierced by arrows, the gold thread died red with their blood. Still, they breach the walls, finding the Dornish spearmen there to meet them. Many die there, too disemboweled and pulled down on the point of spears to be hacked to death amongst the Dornish.
Yet, there are more of the King’s men there to take their place and slowly, they take the wall, enheartened by the Westermen and the Florent’s leadership.
Elsewhere, Wild Will Gargalen and his men have more fortune, holding strong against the king’s assault, driving men back on the opposite flank. The famous Dornish knight can be seen looking down to the other side, and seeing Manwoody’s forces harder-pressed there, he roars for some of his own men to reinforce that side.
Elmer pushes his men forward, helping Florent’s lighter armed men, and protectiing the stairs. “Spread across the battlements, lads!” he yells. “Secure other climbing points.” He catches an axe over his heavy shield and undercuts with his sword, drawing it red from the belly of a Dornishman. Seeing the white shull of the Manwoodies, he makes is way towards the flag, the huge, armored man throwing opponents off the wall, or hacking with his sword.
Men of the Dornish reserve now rush in, and the weight of their numbers are telling—some of the gaps closed, and more bodies are thrown from the rampart into the ditch. A few toeholds of the king’s forces remain, yet reinforcements are slow in coming as Daeron Targaryen frowns at the loss of men. Arrows still fall about him, harmless to himself, but Ser Olyvar Oakheart is nearly thrown from his horse when an arrow finds its way through an opening in its armor and rears up. At last, Daeron’s persuaded to withdraw further back. “Another body of men to fill the gaps,” he commands, “and our best pikes to reinforce the left.”
Sorin of Sevenstreams sees many of the archers falling back now to make way as Mors Manwoody leads his countercharge. Smiling now, he loop the kite shield over his back and draws his longsword with his other hand. With hammer in his right hand and sword in the left, he glances back at his men, “Forward! Let’s give them a reason to die today!” Alternatively feinting with one weapon and finishing with the other, he wades forward through the press, looking to close with Manwoody’s group.
“There he goes”-murmurs Burton Crakehall, watching his cousin harge. He is on horseback, near the King, his polished chainmail shining in the sun , Today he once again accompanies his King into battle, followed by twenty trusted knights. His other troops are elsewhere, led by a young captain. “Sire, my men and myself are at your command. “
Cutting down a knight, his longaxe painted red with blood, Mors Manwoody turns to find the next foe and finds himself near to the knight leading the chief assault on the defenses. “Out!” the old lord roars, and he and his knights plunge on along the rampart to assault Ser Dalton’s toehold, spears stabbing, swords biting, axes hewing. In the chaos of battle, he’s little aware that so many of the enemy are aiming themselves at him. Yet others notice, and the Dornish troops who have fought so long beside him against the invaders adjust their lines to place themselves in the way.
Elmer stops for a moment in a space in the battle and he grabs a wineskin from one of his men, drinking deeply, then spitting the rest in the eyes of a Dornishman atacking him before driving his sword into the men’s skull. “Beginners!” he laughs, and seeing Mors Manwoody come closer, he attacks the dornish Lord, his bloodied sword whistling as the heavy Crakehall knight is followed by his Lannister men in full armor.
Hearing the order from the King, Meros Tyrell bows his head. Looking at Burton Crakehall, the Tyrell knight says, “Ser Burton, your cousin Ser Elmer is already at their wall. Join him! Reinforce the line. I will bring up the pike men.”
Riding to some footmen standing in reserve, the Mad knight says, “It is time now to finish what was begun by those who have gone before. You have come to Dorne to kill Dornishmen. Well, there they are.”
Raising his sword, Meros shouts, “Advance!” The Tyrell spearmen rise and begin to march to the wall, still falling prey to the archers on the heights.
“Ser Burton,” the king says, acknowledging the Crakehall heir from his new position just out of range of the Dornish archers on the heights, who’ve turned their bows down to pepper any forces approaching the rampart. The Young Dragon considers the success of the assault and then points, “There, sir. Take your men there. There’s movement—around Manwoody’s banner, I think—and they’re thinning there on the rampart. Be prepared to fall back if needs be.”
Dalton grits his teeth as he blocks another spearthrust with his shield and cuts into the man’s chest. “Crakehall! Hold our left, while I attempt to connect with our troops trapped in the trenches further down their flank. If we can get them onto this bulwark, we may yet win this day.”
Turning, Dalton starts hacking his way through to Sormin, together to lead the proposed sally.
Behind the Dornish lines, the same heights—steep, mountainous rises climbing towards heaven—stretch on for a good distance. Yet there’s a defile cutting through them, some ancient path used by local mountaineers perhaps. And from it, suddenly, unexpected figures show up: men, men in armor, armoed—reinforcements for the Dornishmen!
No… no. At their head, a giant of a man. The Stormbreaker’s arrived. A score, five, ten—two hundred men or more, now behind the Dornish force as they’re locked in battle upon the rampart!
No sooner than one of the Dorishmen parries a feint from his longsword does Sorin’s hammer crash down between his shoulder and neck, nearly separating the head from the body. Sorin is already moving again and stabs up under another enemy’s arm, blood gushing from the wound. He spins past and his hammer connects with the back another man’s neck.
Ser Sorin’s eyes flick back to his line quickly and he finds Ser Dalton, offering the Florent a brutal grin. As Dalton catches up, Sorin swings his blade through another man’s face and notices the Stormbreaker’s charge from the rear. At this he presses forward towards Mors’ group, yelling at the Dornish host, “Stand and die, you are surrounded!” His sword sticks in a man’s bowels and he swings his hammer to knock the body off his weapon.
At the head of the charge, a man in green trimmed in flame with the green hand on gold on his chest winds a horn. The Stormbreaker is not in the lead, but he looms over all, a giant man upon a giant horse, bellowing orders to Ethos to his left and Ser Almer Connington to his right.
“Run those fucking maggots down! Flank left! Wheel right!” the giant Baratheon sets spurs to the flanks of his charger and lowers his lance, even as the horn sounds on the wind.
“Yes, Sire”-Ser Burton quickly pulls the arming flap of his chainmail over his face and ties the leather thongs holding it together. Then he shouts orders to his men and the attack lunges forward. Twenty knights, all in Crakehall cloaks with the Brindled Boar insignia, begin to advance , their swords glistening in the sun. Their leader , the heir to Crakehall, is armed with a splendid looking sword- of blued steel and with a shined, gold-and -brass hilt. And he seems to be eager to dirty it with Dornish blood today. “I am coming, cousin!”-he roars, his only eye gleaming “None so fierce!”
Ser Ethos Mertyns rides with this new group that’s moving in behind the Dornish, shield painted with the white owl of Mistwood. Compared to the hulking Baratheon, the younger Stormlord looks a child, but at the command from Sarmion he leads his score of men to ride in hard at the flank, lances lowered to ruthlessly cut down the enemy from behind and pin them in.
The watchful Sand Dog and his men, having suspected something when the huge Ser Sarmion was not seen among the king’s captains, were looking in the right direction. The better part of the Dornish reserve springs to action at Ser Laurent’s command, moving to block Baratheon’s force as they come down from the defile to the bleeding ground that’s become the pass around the rampart. Spears are set fast, ready to receive a charge, and archers let loose their arrows at the enemy. A messenger is sent racing back to the rampart.
More and more, the fighting on all sides begins to focus upon the region where Mors Manwoody is. For his part, the old lord fights fiercely despite his rage, wielding the longaxe now with both hands after his shield was left a ruin. Some of his men are dead, replaced by others, and they refuse to give an inch to the enemy. “Out! Out!” they shout, as they force back more of the king’s men, sending bodies tumbling into the swollen ditch. At the same time, a few score Dornish spears plunge into the thick of it, slamming into Dalton’s and Sorin’s flank, breaking an opening.
Ser Dalton cries out, “Sorin, let Ser Elmer face Lord Manwoody. We must press through to the western wall of the pass. Otherwise the Dornish forces will melt away into the surrounding mountains, and we will be forced to face them yet again. Follow me!” Taking advantage of the faltering of the enemy Dalton and a few score of his men press west, beating spears aside and slaying the Dornish once inside their guard.
Elmer hears the horn of the Stormbreaker and laughs as he sees also Sorin’s attack, with both sides of the battlements under attack. As Mors Manwoody’s shield is crashed, the young Crakehall attackis again, his men raising their heavy shields and pushing Dornishmen off the walls, effectively barring off their access to their back, allowing Dalton’s men’ to scale the wall and take a hold of the wall, even giving them a chance to come down it on the other side.
“My lord! My lord!” a man shouts at Lord Mors’s side, and another pair rush past him to engage Ser Elmer, and more come to press past to try and hold the enemy on the lip of the rampart. “They’ve found a way behind us!” The man gestures, and the old lord’s great head lifts, turns, and sees the fighting there behind his forces. A grimace is on his lips, and he shakes his head. “We’ve bled them, we’ve bled them and still they come!”
A sucking gasp for breath, and Mors wipes at his brow, men fighting around him. Then he shouts, “Sound the retreat!”
A clarion, then another and another, sounds. Once, twice, thrice—the retreat. All across the line of the rampart, the Dornish start to withdraw. Some draw out their bows and start taking aim at the enemy, giving them something to think about. Others, too deeply engaged, try to cut their way out—some fail, some succeed. Bold knights and champions begin to achieve the summit of the rampart, and some give chase, and others hold the defensive earthwork rather than being drawn further away from their support.
The white bandage fluttering at the end of Sorin’s sword has long turned red as he fights atop the battlements. Nodding in agreement with Ser Dalton, he cries, “To the western wall then!” He turns away from Manwoody and presses forth beside the Florent knight. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees the flank begin to weaken under the Dornish spears. Grabbing one of his men-at-arms, he shouts, “Take six of the others and reinforce the flank!” That said, he dives into the fray behind Dalton and catches up, fighting with sword and hammer.
Elmer laughs in batleheat, his sword taking one of Manwoody’s men in the throat, his shield pushing the other over the wall. His eyes shine wildly as he presses the Dornish Lord against the parapets with wild, heavy strokes of teh sword. “Surrender now, you’ve no escape!”
“They’re withdrawing,” King Daeron says, sounding satisfied. Hundreds of his own may be dead, lying in ditches—disproportionate losses—but the army lives to refill their water supply another day. He gestures to where some of the hottest fighting has been. “The Crakehalls, if I’m not mistaken. Bold men,” Daeron says, “and there, Ser Dalton, still alive through all that. He has the Warrior’s own luck in battle, it seems.”
Turning in the saddle, the king motions with a hand, and more companies of men now begin to run up to clamber over the bodies swelling the ditch.
Seeing the Dornish reserve prepared but only just in time, the Stormbreaker commands, “Wheel right!” His wedge of knights veers right, away from the prepared spearmen and out of harm of a charge. Ser Andry’s knights crash in amongst Laurent and his spears, horses spitting themselves upon the ends of the Dornish spears.
The Baratheon knight wheels back, 50 yards from the line of spears. His wedge seeks the flank of spearmen to open up the attack on the retreating Dornish forces.
The Tyrell pikemen reach the rampart, Ser Meros at their head. They climb over the bodies of their fallen comrades just in time to see the retreating Dornishmen.
“Climbing back into their boltholes, I see,” the Tyrell knight says brushing the blood-encrusted mud from his hands. He waves at the pikemen saying, “Well… After them.” But the Dornish have quickly fled up narrow ravines. Anyone chasing them on foot, faces javelins thrown deftly and arrow loosed at point blank range by powerful bows.
Ser Burton, now in the middle of the battle, slays another Dornishmen, piercing his neck with one poke of his fancy sword. His knights have been fighting like mad, but up to now only one of them subdued to Dornish might, being killed by a spear thrust. Suddenly another group of Crakehall men appears, is seems, out of nowhere joining their master in his attack. They are led by Ser Leo of….. some place, a seasoned hedge knight with a face of a drunkurd and enormous whiskers. The heir of Crakehall lools suprised, but , as he doesnt have time to ask questions, he orders Ser Leo’s men(mainly mercenaries armed with two-handed axes) to follow him. He seems , even as he slashes and strikes, to be searching for his cousin , now and then turning his head left or right.
As the Dornishmen abandon the walls, The blood soaked crakehall knight with the lannsiter cloak raises a fist in the air, one of his bannermen planting a flag into it and trumpets sounding triumphant. There is no time to lose as another of his sergeants motions the squire to bring the horses around the now undefended rampart and the Lannister men saddle up, riding to join the oter westermen. “Come to join the fun, cousin?” he yells towards Burton as their forces join.
Ethos presses his own group of soldiers to move in aggressively, not hesitating to take down those that have turned in retreat. His lance is lodged and left behind, sword drawn in it’s place to cut at Dornishmen instead. If there are any that throw down weapons in retreat, the young Stormlander doesn’t seem to distinguish much whether to spare them or not, his hatred of the enemy runs deeply.
Dalton slices through one more foe as his men that had been pinned down come over the walls. “Quick, down the other side, capture those who you can, kill the rest. Those that surrender, tie up and send a few men back with them to our camp. We shall not leave them to the mercies of Butcher Baraethon. We are men of the Reach, we never leave our honour.”
The Dornish reserve led by the Sand Dog is locked in front facing the remains of Ser Andry’s knights after their failed charge. Then, the Stormbreaker slams into their side, breaking their will. The Sand Dog voices his defiance, but his fleeing men carry him away on the tide of their retreat. They flee back up the heights, trying to circle back away from the mounted Stormlords.
The Tyrell pikemen climb down to the Dornish side of the rampart, marching down the trenches filled with the dead and dying. Meros follows them at a slower pace, sword unsheathed and ready, his shieldbearer running in front of him, trying to fend off arrows aimed at the mad knight.
Some of the braver Dornish stand firm in the ravines firing arrows on the Crakehall and Florent positions, dropping footmen and some of the lesser armored knights.
Ser Dalton gathers some of the fresher men, leading them down the slope. “Form up a line against the side of the pass. If we can deny them the mountains to the west, they will be trapped between us and the sea. They can hide in the eastern mountains, but they will have less space to run in. We will track them down, and we will find them. Dragon, Rose, and Fox!”
The Dornish forces withdraw from the battle in surprisingly good order, the flight covered by Laurent Dalt’s reserve and the Dornish archers and spearmen who move to try and hold the enemy back. The Dornish are unsentimental about their losses—they leave the worst of the wounded behind, and any man who cannot stand on their own two feet is like to be left behind as they make haste. Lord Mors can be seen surrounded by men, mounting a sand steed, one of a few hundred left behind the lines which amount to the Dornish mounted force. Other men, knights and men-at-arms, join him, and Manwoody can be seeing giving some commands.
With a sweep of his arm, Manwoody sends a good half of the force suddenly running into the battle, long spears and lances at hand, a short, sharp charge that can throw back the king’s men to win the retreating forces breathing room. It succeeds, as such things go, and for a few moments more battle rages.
And then they, too, withdraw and it’s for the forces led by the likes of Florent and the Crakehalls to help the reinforcements over the rampart.
On the heights, the Dornish archers let go of one last volley, and then they retreat further up the steep hillside and out of sight. The rest of the Dornish force moves southwards.
With a glance over a Dalton’s words, the hedge knight Sorin nods and leads the remaining half of his small company down the wall. Several Dornishmen turn to fight and are quickly cut down by Sorin and the other four. As Dalton leads most of the men to cut off the retreat, Sorin leads a small group into the trenches to hassle the Dornish archers that are still bothering the Crakehall and Florent positions. Four more of Sorin’s men join up with them to make quick work of the job. They begin to tie up the ones that surrender and kill off the ones that stand and fight.
King Daeron sees that the whole of the earthwork is overrun, and he tells his knights, “Well, my lords. It seems the march continues unopposed,” with a smile on his lips as he lifts the helm from his head. “Call forward the septons and maesters and grooms, to see to the wounded and get them upon such carts as we have. We cannot tarry here.” His orders then acknowledged, the king rides forward to take possession of the earthwork
“Sure”-shouts Burton, answering Elmer’s question, and spurs his black destrier into motion-and thirty-five rogues-some of them knighted and some not-strong, violent and lusting for fight-follow their master. The Crakehall soldiers attack the retreating Dornishmen, like a stray dog attack a piece of veal. Ser Burton is swinging his sword like mad, splitting shields, byrnies and helms with monsterous strikes. A spearmen i Manwoody colors makes a desperate try to kill his horse, but Ser Leo, blaspheming, blocks the thrust with a shield, saving his master’s prized beast, and in the next moment five swords pierce the hapless warrior. The Dornish arrows doesnt seems to bother the Crakehall men much-though, two axemen have already been wounded.
Standing exposed upon the top of the rampart, Mad Meros watches the Dornish retreat. The Tyrell shieldbearer does his job and dies beneath a hail of arrows meant for the mad knight he had sworn to protect.
Looking down on the fallen retainer curiously, Meros steps over the body trying to avoid stepping in the blood. Approaching the back of the pikemen left alive from the last barrage of arrows, the Tyrell knight says, “Halt! There’s no point in chasing them over those hills.”
The Tyrell knight stomps on the rampart and orders, “Start pulling this thing down so we can get out of this valley.” Complying with the orders, some move to move their wounded and dead from the earth works, while others work at pulling it down.
Elmer cuts down retreating Dornishmen, his heavt armor protecting him from the occasional arrow which bounces off it, and his surcoat is splattered with blood and rent in several places. He swerves on his hore as he motions his men to return to the wall, to protect the engineers who are beginning to tear it down. Now and then , he charges to scatter any organised Dornish groups.
The Stormbreaker reins in his massive mount as the last of the Dornishmen disappear beyond the impassable hills. He bellows, “Well, we put an end to this happy horseshit, that’s certain! How many have we left alive? I know Chester lost a few taking their spears head on.”
Drawing his warhammer, the massive knight climbs from the saddle, not waiting for an answer. He begins wading through the bodies of the Dornish wounded. “Hey! This one’s still alive,” Sarmion exclaims.
Then, he brings the warhammer down on the wounded man’s head and adds, “Sorry… spoke too soon!”
Daeron and his knights dismount before the ditch, and the king is there as the wounded living trapped in the ditch are separated from the weight of the dead. The Young Dragon even helps at one point, taking hold of a man’s arm as the Dragonknight takes another, so they can pull the dazed soldier from under a pile of the dead. His own maester is there to tend to the man, as Daeron offers some bland reassurance. Already, he’s looking to the rampart. Gingerly, his armor clinking, he steps over bodies. “A hand!” he calls, as he starts to clamber up the awkward earthwork, reaching for whatever hand is offered him to help him the rest of the way in his splendid plate.
Atop the rampart, Mad Meros organizes half his Tyrell pikemen in dismantling the earthwork. The other half go about moving both the wounded and the dead down to the camp in the pass below.
In the trench beyond, the Stormbreaker can be seen wading through bodies as well, sorting through the Dornish and giving them a taste of mercy. The horse that scattered the Dornish reserve collects around Ser Andry Chester, as they determine who was wounded and killed. Those that live share stories of their own inflated glory.
Dalton sees the Stormbreaker’s behavior and freezes. He grabs several of his men and begins a parallel search, this one to capture the wounded enemy and see to their wounds.
Making short work of the remaining Dornishmen in the trenches on the other side of the earthworks, Ser Sorin has his men tie together those that surrendered and sends half of his men back along to the main host with the prisoners as ordered by Dalton. That taken care of, he stoops to wipe his blade dry on a dead soldier’s gambeson and sheathes the weapon at his side. Hefting his hammer, he takes his remaining men and moves to rejoin Ser Dalton.
“Those maggots are weak”-grumbles Burton, as his men finish the last of t retreating Dornishmen off “When I came here, I though we will be fighting men, not some sissies who cant hold their ground” He dismounts heavily and starts wiping the blade of his sword with a piece of linen, as if he was in the Great Hall of the Crakehall castle, and not on the battlefield. Being in the thick of things nearly all the time, he didnt get even a scratch-surely, he received a few hard blows, but his heavy armor absorbed them, without any damage being caused “So, what omes next? It seems that today I wont have a chance to cross swords with some Lord of formidable knight…. Oh, well, nothing is perfect”
Dalton gives a weary smile as Sorin approaches. “Nice work today, Sorin. I don’t know that we would have penetrated their lines without your help, certainly not without many more casualties.”
Elmer dismounts next his cousin, looking a lot worse for wear than Burton, though adimittedly it’s mostly other people’s blood. He takes off his helmet, his unruly black hair matted with sweat. “Oh, it wasn’t such a bad day of work… for those of us who weren’t late.” He grins as his squire runs over with a flask. “Here you go, Ser… I found this Dornish wine.” Of course, trust Elmer’s men to capture the wine first. He takes a swig and offers it to Burton.
Ethos is of the same mind as Sarmion, slipping down from his horse and walking amongst the dead and dying with a group of soldiers. He laughs when he sees the Stormbreaker’s joke, then turns his attention to a gasping Dornishman on the ground nearby. He leans down, “Tell me dusky and I’ll spare you—Davit Gargalen, any word on where he stands?” The man stammers some reply, and the Mistwood knight sighs in disgust and buries his sword in the soldier’s neck.
Helped by a man-at-arms, Daeron achieves the top of the rampart. He surveys the scene, the rest of his knights clambering up beside him. After a few moments, he comes down. “Well fought, my lords,” the king says, as some men start to call his name and acclaim him, enthused by their victory. “A great victory against a terrible foe. Though we’ve shed much blood, and lost dear friends and loyal subjects, we have won a measure of vengeance. More awaits us.” The rest is drowned out in cheers.
Then the king moves to meet the individual captains. “Ser Meros! Well led, my lord of Tyrell, well led. I will have more men come to bring down this rampart,” the king tells him, and then he sees the Crakehall cousins. “My lords of Crakehall, none so fierce indeed. The Iron Throne is blessed with bold men to uphold it.”
Sorin smiles and offers Dalton a crisp salute as he approaches, “My pleasure Ser Dalton. It certainly seemed that the rest of the line was having difficulty mounting the earthworks.” As he speaks he notices the arrow still protruding through his chain. With a grimace, he pulls the arrow out and throws it aground in disgust, “Damned arrows…” With a glance over his shoulder he watches as some of the king’s host begins to kill the surviving Dornishmen, “Shall I round up more prisoners Ser Dalton?”
“Thank you, coz”-Ser Burton takes a long swig out of the flask, while the red-nosed Ser Leo watches him with greedy eyes. The heir to Crakehall doesnt seem to notice those pleading glances, and returns the container to Elmer. He wants to say something else to his cousin, but then the King adresses the Crakehall cousins, and Burton bows deeply to his liege “Sire, our flesh and our blood belongs to Your Majesty. It is a honor for us to serve the realm and you, our lord and master”
Dalton says, “Yes Sorin. we are knights, not brutes, and we must never forget that, no matter the injuries our enemies do to us. Some may hang or be executed as criminals, but that is for the king to decide, not us.”“
With a grin, Sorin snaps another quick salute to his fellow knight and marches off with his 4 followers to round up some more prisoners around the battlefield.
There is a stirring among those who fell when the Stormbreaker had his way with the Dornish reserve, a slender form that groans and raises itself on one arm to look around him with unfocused eyes. It is the pretty lad who stood on the rampart before battle with Laurent Dalt, his delicate features obscured with grime and blood from the wound on his head that had him lying so still.
The king moves on among his soldiers and knights, accepting their cheers with praise and a certain battlefield humor. “Ser Dalton, Ser Sorin. My thanks, sers, for your efforts. Well done,” the king says to them, pausing among them, eyeing the prisoners they’re taking with an unreadable expression. Then there’s a shout, and a man-at-arms is rushing to take hold of the Dornish youth who’s trying to rise and make him a prisoner.
Sorin turns to faces the king and salutes sharply, “A pleasure to serve, my King.” At seeing movement amongst the bodies on the ground, Sorin strides quickly over to the lad who was standing besides Dalt. Grabbing the back of his mail, he flips the young man over on his back and places a boot on his chest, hefting his hammer. “Surrender to the Young Dragon…” he says, awaiting response.
Ethos spots that lad that rises as well, and is just moving to advance on him, likely to treat him with the same lack of kindness as the rest he’s encountered. The call from the king’s man-at-arms brings him pause and he mutters under his breath about taking prisoners that should be put down. “Just cut his throat!” He calls in exasperation, “Fucking Dornish are traiterous dogs, shouldn’t waste supplies and water on them.”
The Dornishman yelps in a high-pitched tone and one of the other Dornish prisoners barks a grim laugh. “Look,” he says to his fellows, “Dalt’s bum-boy. Wonder what he’ll do without the lad!” A bit of gallows laughter ripples through the prisoners, but it does not last.
The lad, on his back, stares up at Sorin in confusion. “Oi, get off me,” he says, scowling and still confused. Then he raises a hand and touches his head, examines the blood on his fingertips. “Right. I suppose I do surrender at that. Mordred Sand of Sunspear.”
Burton says, “Sand…. A bastard to some minor knight , I suppose”-remarks Burton, watching the whole scene with an amused eye “Elmer, I have heard you exchanged a couple of blows with this viper Lord Manwoody? If you made HIM a prisoner , it would have been something.”“
“Sand…. A bastard to some minor knight , I suppose”-remarks Burton, watching the whole scene with an amused eye “Elmer, I have heard you exchanged a couple of blows with this viper Lord Manwoody? If you made HIM a prisoner , it would have been something.”“
The commotion draws the king’s attention. “What’s this?” he remarks, and the crowd of soldiers that have been gathering parts as he and his Kingsguard move nearer. Glimpsing the youth, catching a snippet of his name, the king frowns and tells the Green Oak, “Have them bring that boy to me.” Ser Olyvar moves to do as the king bids him.
Elmer sigsh a little. “Yeah, the old bastard escaped me.” he takes another swig, and then makes his way to where everyone’s gathering. He looks at the boy and smiles. “That kid’s fought us before I think.” he says and bows his head as they approach the King.
Ignoring the taunts and cries, Sorin says, “We accept your surrender Mordred Sand of Sunspear,” and flips the young lad on his back and holds him down with his boot while one of his men-at-arms expertly ties him up and lifts him out of the muddy, blood-soaked earth to tie him up with the other prisoners. Turning to the other soldiers looking on, he says, “I won’t cut the throat of a hapless boy that doesn’t even belong on the battlefield.” Grabbing the prisoner from his man-at-arms, he shoves the lad in the direction of Ser Olyvar.
Seemingly uninterested in the outcome, the hedge knight turns about on his heel to walk away.
Ethos snorts at Sorin’s words, shaking his head and moving on. “Hapless.” He says in a derisive tone. “Damned foolish assumption, that is.”
Burton joins his brother ” Who are your parents, boy?”-the heir to Crakehall asks Mordred, at the same time wiping sweat and blood of his grim face and passing his damaged shield to the squire “h, and how are you, Ethos? Killed many Duskies today?”
Mordred stumbles into Olyvar, still giddy from the blow to his head, which has started to bleed again. It is the first time the lad has been in combat since Vaith, so it is unlikely any would know him. He lets himself be led to the King unresisting, and seems content with simply gathering his wits about him instead of speaking. When he is in front of Daeron, he meets the young King’s eyes boldly with his own of darkest blue—almost black, but not quite.
Daeron’s expression is stern as he looks at the boy brought before him. With a slight nod to Oakheart, the tall Kingsguard from the Reach forces the boy to his knees before the king. Purple eyes meet blue, and Daeron asks, “Mordred Sand, was it? Whose son are you, boy?”
As the King speaks, Ser Sorin turns on his heel and watches, waiting to hear the answer as to who he captured. Removing a cloth from his belt, he begins to clean the head of his stonemason warhammer.
“They ran too quickly, scampering off as they always do.” Ethos mutters in response to Burton’s query, kicking the head of another twitching Dornish soldier that’s fallen.
It doesn’t take much to force Mordred to his knees; he nearly falls and must put a hand out to steady himself before he can raise his head again and straighten his spine. “Perros…” he begins in a high voice. Then he coughs, clears his throat and when he speaks again, it is lower and more controlled. “Perros Blackmont of Sunspear is my father.” He lifts his chin proudly, unafraid to hold the gaze of the Young Dragon.
“Martell’s castellan of the Sandship?” Daeron asks, frowning at that. “I had not heard of a bastard… But then, you Dornish have them by the tun, it seems.” And with that, he dismisses the issue. Instead he asks, “You were with Ser Laurent Dalt’s forces, were you? This Sand Dog has fought well enough, though he always turns his tail between his legs in the end. Are you pleased, boy, that he gave you a taste a battle and then ran for the hills to leave you to my men?”
“He is NOT a coward!” Mordred strains forward against the arms that hold him, for all the world as if he would attack the king with his own slender hands for saying so. “He did what had to be done. He will fight you another day, boy-king.” His voice breaks up and down the register, and the captured Dornishmen begin to exchange looks, none of them laughing now.
It’s then that Prince Aemon, one of the four white knights with the king, frowns and leans over to whisper something into the king’s ear. Daeron frowns, starts to shake his head, and then pauses. He stares at the boy more closely…
“You’re a girl,” the king says, surprise coloring his voice, but it’s not a question.
Looking on with steel grey eyes, Sorin of Sevenstreams looks on with interest, his brows raising in curiousity as the boy’s voice cracks so much. Gaze narrowing, he moves closer now and seems to nod in agreement as the King declares that the young lad is actually a young lass.
Elmer gasps in shock, and his dark eyes shine. “If she’s a girl, Your Grace, she’s a brave one!” His white teeth flash under his dark beard as he drinks deeply and before he empties it, offer it to the hostage. “Have a drink lad, .. or lass.. and answer His Highness.”
Ser Sorin steps forward beside Ser Olyvar and loosens the ropes slightly to free the girl’s arm so she can drink fromt he flask offered by Elmer.
Mordred stares up at the king, speechless. Panic darts over his features as the Dornish captives turn as one to stare at him. Her. Then one breathes, “Bloody fucking hells…” in recognition before sighing and calling out, “Give it up and have a chance, Cat!”
Finally, the girl sags a little and reaches out to take the flask Elmer is offering, then wipes her mouth and hands it back. “I am Caitrin Blackmon, daughter of Perrin Blackmont, Prince Marence’s castellan,” she says in her own voice, resigned and low, a whiskey sort of voice. “I told you true.”
“A girl indeed”-Ser Burton chuckles, his only eye shining with sparkes of laughter ” By gods, in this damned country even such an absurd thing as a woman in armor can happen!” He gives his cousin a push and whispers “Is it a new Dornish fashion of husband-seeking? God, I am glad I havent met her during the battle- I dont want to dishonor my blade by killing a damsel, you know.”
It’s an unexpected development. Daeron looks at his cousin, puzzled ... and then, after a long moment, he laughs. “Mother have mercy,” the Young Dragon says, “more jests like this and I’m liable to burst something.” A gauntleted hand lifts and wipes at his eyes, as he takes a deep breath and considers the matter somewhat more seriously. “You’re brave or stupid, I’m not sure which. They say the gods protect fools, and perhaps that’s what you are,” he says, addressing her while his knights and lords respond, each in their own way, to this revelation. Some of them look on the young woman with a certain gleam in their eye, as if she looked a tasty morsel after such a long, hard-fought march…
“Well, my lady. It seems you are my prisoner,” the king declares. “You’ll be treated as befits your rank, for the nonce, while I decide what to do with you.” A longer pause, and he looks around to the rest, as Meros’s men break down the earthworks enough that the ditches are now cleared of the living and a path is made through the remaining dead for wayns and troops to begin to march through. “We’ll bury our dead,” the king declares, and he points to the few Dornish prisoners besides Caitrin. “Have them help with the digging.”
Dalton says, “Yes, your Grace. I’ll take care of it.” Dalton turns to his men who have been guarding the prisoners. “Cut their bonds and give them shovels.”“
“Come on, Elmer, thats your chance!”-Ser Burton taunts his cousin, while washing his palms and face with some water in a squire-brought basin “You like Dornish ladies, dont you? Ask the King to grant you her hand! He has praised you today and probably wont refuse…”
Caitrin returns all those glances one by one, chin held high to let them know that she would never consider a single man of them a suitable bed partner. Then she looks up at the King. “So it would seem, my lord,” she says with only a hint of mockery to the honorific. “May I stand up now? I prefer that time spent on my knees is more… entertaining, if you take my meaning.”
Elmer retrieves his flask and smiles as he puts a gauntleted hand on his cousin’s shoulder. “Don’t joke, coz. The lass has had a bad day, let’s not make it worse.” But his dark eyes sparkle a little, is he actually considering it? Yet as the lass speaks he exclaims in laughter. “She’s got spirit, I’ll say that at least.”
“Hrm,” says Daeron, eyeing the young woman—his peer, in truth. “I’ll take that under consideration, my lady.” And he does nothing to order her lifted back to her feet. Instead he muses, “Dalt’s a strange one, to bring his lover with him into battle. But then that robber knight, Red Rhys, is said to have his own doxy with him,” Daeron says. “Alyx Sand—not a sister, is she?” Someone else speaks up, “She’s an Uller bastard, your grace,” and Daeron again shrugs.
“Have they joined forces with Manwoody, Lady Caitrin?” he asks instead, coming to the point.
“Well, she has chosen how to spend her her day herself, coz”-shrugs Burton, now taking a gulp of wine from his own wineskin ” Her place is in some good knight’s or lord’s bed, not here , in this ruddy armor , fighting men. But she is interesting, you are right. Though I dont think she could make a good mother or a good wife. I think she is of the same type Ser Tancred’s ex-wife-to-be is. Dorne, indeed!”
“Laurent Dalt brought me because I asked him to,” Caitrin says, remaining as she is. “May I at least have some water and my wound tended?” she asks rather plaintively, touching the wound on her head gingerly. She looks at the blood on her fingertips, then wipes it on her filthy trousers. “Yes, of course they have. But you know as well as I do that you’ll not see them in battle. You will only feel their sting.”
The king turns, and nods his head. A maester comes forward with a flask and some bandages, and kneels down to clean teh wound. “So. Much as I thought,” Daeron says. “And from Sunspear, who else has come? Baduin Santagar, I know of. Willum Gargalen, another worthy. My huntsman, Ser Ethos, has wondered much at Lord Gargalen.”
Elmer stares at his empty flask and turns his head to see his squire bring his usual wineskin. He driks deeply, then wipes his dark beard. It was thirsty work up there, let me tell you, Coz.” he grins and offers the wineskin to Burton. He grins at mention of Lord Gargalen.
“Your grace—that -is- what they call you, isn’t it? May I call you Daeron?” Caitrin asks, and earns herself an ungentle jab from the maester tending her head. She winces and cannot keep back a sound of pain. “Davit Gargalen is with Prince Marence, last I heard. But you must understand, I spend my time washing Laurent’s shirts and tending his needs. I don’t know anything about our numbers or where our forces are. I can tell you how Beslon the Bad pissed himself when we cut off his head, and how the women of Vaith rejoiced to have him dead and gone.”
“Sellswords come and go,” says Daeron, voice flatter at that—more at the affront of her question than anything. “So. That answer Ser Ethos’s question.” He turns to his other lords and knights and asks, “What should we do with her, my lords? Send her to Blackhaven? Or on to King’s Landing as a hostage?”
“It may make more sense to keep her at Blackhaven, My King, in case we need to make a trade later in this war,” says Sorin of Sevenstreams. He shrugs and glances up at the King.
“I would recommend King’s Landing, Ser “-Ser Burton gives his response immediately ” It is safer and she could prove herself useful later. And Lady Caitrin will have enough well-born Dornish company there.”
Elmer looks at the young men who just spoke. “You fought well today, Ser, I saw you on top of the wall. But we don’t need to make deals with the Dornish. My cousin spoke right. All noble born hostages ought to go to King’s Landing.”
Dalton walks back over from overseeing the other prisoners “If you feel she has value as a hostage, certainly send her back to King’s Landing. Otherwise, she is a noble prisoner like any other, to be ransomed back by her family or traded for one of our own. I agree with Ser Sorin. Well-born Dornish company is not necessary, merely well-mannered company. I will take charge of her, if necessary. I am a married man with no personal rancor towards the Dornish. None will have cause to complain of her treatment.”
Dalton takes a moment to consider, “What would you have done with Mordred Sand, your grace? Her accomodations must change slightly, but naught else should.”
Glancing between Elmer and Dalton, the hedge knight Sorin keeps his tongue, allowing the King to decide. He turns his gaze toward the Lady still kneeling before the King and frowns.
“King’s Landing, how tiresomely predictable,” Caitrin says, affecting a yawn, though the effort falls flat under the maester’s continued ministrations. “On the other hand, Blackhaven really only invites visitors to come and liberate me, which would only be tiresome for -you-. I could simply stay and take care of -you-, your sweet little grace, but I don’t think your minders want you being cared for the way I would.” She sends a look at Aemon that can only be a leer.
“The Dornish woman may have a point, no matter how uncouthly she speaks. Perhaps we should keep her with the army, protected by married men known for their honor, such as Ardon Tyrell and the Iron Serpent.”
Dalton says, “Although if she continues to be so rude, perhaps we should see how she likes the treatment of Stormbreaker.”“
“Tensions can rise, Your Grace”-says Ser Burton quietly “A presence of a woman in the army -and a noble and beatiful woman it is-can lead to rivalry, bloodshed and only gods know what else…”
Sorin looks up at the Florent knight’s comment, brows raising in surprise before turning back to the discussion. “If nobody knows where she is taken but the King and the men he sends to escort her, then Dorne would not guess where she was kept to attack,” he suggests.
The king listens to the opnions will signs of considering every point—even Caitrin’s, and the hooded look of his eyes suggests a mounting displeasure. Yet it’s Florent’s remark that leads him to say, “Ser Sarmion would not stoop to harm a woman who was in his power,” Daeron says. “But Ser Burton and Ser Dalton may have a point.” A long look at her, and then he decides.
“Once you’re fit to travel, my lady, you’re free to go. Carry a message to Ser Laurent and Lord Mors: you’re proof of my mercy. If they surrender, they shall be treated honorably. And if they do not..”
The king turns, and away at the trench where the Dornish prisoners have been digging graves is Ser Meros Tyrell. The king raises a hand to him, in greeting ... but Meros nods, and turns, and says something to the men-at-arms watching the prisoners. Without warning, dirks are drawn, and two dozen men have their throats slit—most do not even have time to struggle. Their bodies fall into the shallow graves they dug, or are pushed into them as the case may be.
Daeron turns. “If they do not, the Seven help them, for I’ll give them no mercy.”
Elmer remains straight, not saying anything, but awaiting the King’s judgement, his lips curling at the girl’s sauciness. As he watches the interplay he nods gravely. “A generous offer, Sire.” He smiles, his teeth flashing again.
“Mercy indeed.”-Ser Burton whispers to his cousin with an ironic smirk “I guess all those hapless fellows would have given their right hands to become women this moment”. Then he says in a loud voice ” The King lets you go, my Lady. It is royal mercy indeed. This measure is much more liberal than anything we offered. Thank our gracious liege for his noble decision!”
The word Stormbreaker pales Caitrin’s beautiful face at last—but the senseless deaths of her countrymen makes her gasp. She holds the gaze of one of them as he dies and shudders when he falls into the pit She is wordless while the maester finishes with her head, and wordless as he helps her to her feet. And when she turns her dark blue eyes on the King again, she is grim-faced.
“I will tell them. I will even tell my lord Prince. But I doubt you will hear from them what you wish to hear.” Caitrin Blackmont turns her face once more toward the pit where the two dozen Dornishmen now lie dead who breathed only a moment ago. “And I will add them to the tally. You have much to answer for, King Daeron of Westeros.”
“Prince Aemon, find some men to help see that she has a horse, water, food, and set her on her way,” says King Daeron, and the Dragonknight bows his head before moving off to see to it. “As to you, Lady Caitrin, take up arms against me again, and you’ll be treated as any other prisoner will be treated until the Dornish remember that I am their right lord and king.” And with that, he dismisses her. A murmur to the rest of the Kingsguard, and he departs to oversee some part of the resumption of the march, and the arrangements for transporting the wounded.