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The Young Dragon marches on and on. A week ago, he attained the source of the Scourge, the deep spring-fed oasis which sends its waters to join the greenish flow of the Greenblood. Along the banks of these rivers, life flourishes, and there are villages and farms enough. But much of these have been stripped bare by the Dornish army that’s there ahead of them. Out numbered though they are, almost three to one, the Dornishmen have fought the great force with raiding tactics—their outriders have been seen in all directions, attacking foragers, occasionally coming within bow range of the main columns, then fading away. Yet at the oasis itself, the Dornish turned and came to grips with the king’s army. The ground was carefully chosen to give them the greatest advantage, and only the vanguard approached them. Led by Sarmion Baratheon, the van approached on foot with the intention of holding the ground until the cavalry on the right could safely cross the irrigation ditches which criss-crossed the area. It was a pitched battle, brutal and bloody, and the Dornish gave a fine accounting of themselves. And in the rear, Lord Blackmont’s host—men from the west of Dorne, from Starfall and Skyreach besides his own seat—had arrived to attack the rear guard led by Ser Moros the Mordant. But Massey was killed, and all was confusion. The king became suddenly busy, his attention divided to deal with the trouble the 2,000 Dornishmen behind his army were causing. In the end, Blackmont’s force was repelled, and the king was at last free to throw his forces at the Dornish army.
But the Dornishmen, seeing the time of their battle was done, chose to withdraw in orderly fashion. The king chose not to pursue directly, giving his men a day’s rest.
The Dornish followed the course of the Scourge, stripping the land as bare as they could of forage, but the king was well-enough supplied. On the south bank of the river, Lord Blackmont’s forces shadowed the king’s own, having decided to swing around the oasis rather than keep a discreet distance to the rear. Yet eventually, after a week, the Dornish host had entered a low-lying, marshy region, a place where the Dornishmen had had success in battle when Lord Caston Vaith, the outlaw lord, had defeated some of the king’s forces near the village of Sourwater. Fearing ambush, the king chose to skirt the marsh rather than pursue the Dornishmen into it. A force of cavalry a thousand strong was divided into groups to screen his march, and it was these men who would bear the brunt of what followed: an ambush, and an ambush meant for them, not the king’s host. The Dornishmen broke from cover amidst groves at the marsh’s edges.
Arrows and spears flew, and then they were among Ser Sarmion Baratheon’s forces. There were famous knights there—Ser Laurent the Sand Dog, Dread Daven Wyl, Edric Blackcrown, the Blackmont knight called Speardancer—and many other bold, brave knights as well. Ser Dagur Saltcliffe brought his cavalry forward, only to be engaged by another force of Dornish cavalry coming out of the marshes. In the end, the Dornishmen outnumbered the outriders two to one, and it seemed it’d be a grim day.
Of knights who fell, there were many. But matters would turn, when Stormbreaker unhorsed Ser Michael Blackmont after a hard-fought combat and the aid of his nephew Ser Tancred. He won space to organize a counter-charge, to overthrow the enemy’s banners. Ser Laurent overthrew Ser Luthor Rivers, a bastard knight who sought revenge from the Sand Dog for his father’s ignonimous death in Dorne; vengeance wasn’t to be his that day. The greater weight of horse and armor would begin to tell, and the Dornish hopes faded as others of their number were slain—Ser Josua Sand was killed by Ser Elmer Crakehall, who then fought and was hard-pressed by Ser Gavyn Jordayne until Ser Tancred Baratheon slew the knight; and then, worst of all, the brave Ser Edrick Manwoody was killed by the Iron Serpent—and others unhorsed. Ser Symeon Westerling performed great feats of arms, defeated Dread Daven Wyl, and nearly overthrew Ser Laurent Dalt before he gathered a Dornish force and escaped with them.
By then, trumpets were sounding from the north: the king’s reinforcements, sent when outriders nearer his column reported the trouble in which the knights and men-at-arms were in. By the time they arrived, with Ser Tomas Rivers and Ser Alek Reyne among them, half the Dornish were already withdrawing, and more beginning to withdraw. Yet if Ser Sarmion’s charge had cracked the spine of the Dornish force, their arrival broke their will. Those who could not flee fought to the bitter end, guarding the retreat, as Blackcrown did. At day’s end, some two hundred of the king’s men-at-arms were dead, yet by all accounts some six hundred Dornishmen were killed. Not a single man was taken prisoner. When the king had the reports of it, one of his acts was to knight his squire, Marq Errol, who had fought bravely through the action. Others were commended, Ser Luthor and Ser Triston, Ser Tancred and Ser Elmer, Ser Symeon and more, men who fought well for their king that day. And now the way on to Godsgrace remains clear of the enemy…
Until the next battle, that is. None expect the Dornish to give up their efforts so easily.
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