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Months of travel and fighting culminate in this: a great battle outside the walls of Godsgrace, the king’s army facing more than 10,000 Dornishmen. The battles arrayed themselves against one another, the king holding a stronger reserve rather than attempting to extend his lines beyond that of the enemy, for they had anchored their left against the walls of the town. The battle opened with the vans charging one another, led by Ser Sarmion Baratheon and Prince Rhodry Nymeros Martell. When the Dornish sought to sweep wide to flank the king’s van, Ser Almer Connington thought to do the same against the Dornish. At Stormbreaker’s command, Ser Bryce Caron rode to intercept the Dornish attempt—but this opened a gap which allowed Lord Andrey Blackmont, leading the Dornish rightward battle, to cut across the field and throw his horse against Stormbreaker’s van rather than against the pikes commanded by Lord Swann. This unexpected tactic proved effective, catching King Daeron on the back foot, and led his personal entry into the battle when he led the center into the fray.
On the king’s right, Ser Ardon Tyrell and Prince Aemon the Dragonknight had found progress difficult thanks to the siege engines of Godsgrace sending stones and scorpion darts—and camp followers, whores that the king’s garrison had kept before it had been slaughtered by traitorous sellswords, at the command of the Blackmont woman, Caitrin. With the wild melee in the center, however, Ser Ardon commanded the cavalry to turn left and join the battle, but not before Ser Sarmion Baratheon was forced to beat a retreat with his forces to allow them to regroup.
Bold knights and great ones were thrown into this conflict: Lord Mors Manwoody at last met his end after facing the Crakehall cousins, Ser Elmer and Ser Burton, who helped defend the king’s center from the ruthless onslaught; Ser Ryck Westerling, that famed knight, breathed his last after Prince Rhodry half-killed him before knocking Ser Ethos Mertyns into the dirt, and a Dornish youth by the name of Caswyn Dayne did the rest; the Dornish knight called the War Hound was killed in a hard fought single combat by Ser Almer; Ser Dagur Saltcliffe overthrew Big Archie Wells, who was carried to safety by some of his friends; that bold knight, Symeon Westerling, overthrew the Speardancer, Ser Michael Blackmont, not once but twice; Ser Tancred Baratheon finished off battered Dornish knights with aplomb.
Yet despite the setbacks among individual Dornish, the battle went almost perfectly, the Dornish host pressing on all sides. Ser Ardon was forced to retreat when under pressure from the Keeper of the Sandship, Ser Perrin Blackmont, and his foot. This gave the Dornishmen time to apply vast pressure on the king’s faltering center, and at one point Daeron’s life was in mortal danger, as men shouted, “Save the king!”
And then the tide changed, for away to the south, on the banks of the Greenblood, ships appeared and disgorged a thousand men afoot. The banners they carred? The seahorse of House Velaryon. Oakenfist had arrived, and unexpectedly! In the confusion, signals from the Dornish led Ser Perrin to turn his 2,000 men back south to deal with the enemy ... even as Ser Mavros Uller, commanding the reserve which was just about to sweep into the combat, sent his own 1,000 infantry to do the same. The sudden lack of pressure led Ser Ardon and Prince Aemon to sweep into battle once more, and suddenly the Martell forces began to collapse; even Ser Ardon’s near-death when his horse was cut out from him, and the temporary loss of the Tyrell banner until Ser Luthor Rivers won it back from the enemy, did not change that.
Prince Rhodry, conspicuous in his copper-plated armor, had ignored everything else about him when the chance to kill Stormbreaker—the man who slew his paramour—came, and nearly died for it when a number of knights aimed to capture him for a rich ransom, or kill him. He managed to flee, but barely.
Lord Swann’s shattered remnant of pike—destroyed by the Dornish cavalry and Lord Jordayne’s center—was bolstered by the entry of Mad Meros Tyrell’s reserve into the battle, and suddenly the Dornish were fleeing. Oakenfist’s host was not even engaged when Uller called the retreat, leaving behind hundreds dead and hundreds more wounded on the battlefield.
Yet the king’s host had taken great harm in the battle, as well, and the king called off a pursuit. He himself had taken a grim wound on his shoulder, requiring a maester’s attention. The king promised his soldiers that when Godsgrace fell, they would be richly rewarded for their courage. Rynos Prester, Ser Symeon’s squire, and Mathin Lannister, Lord Loren’s son and squire to the Dragonknight, were knighted on the field for their courage. And Oakenfist? He revealed why and how he had come: he had won half the Planky Town from the Dornish, only to realize that foreign sellswords, hired at Mavros Uller’s behest by the Pentoshi to fight against the king, were defending the town. This unexpected turn of events—the result of the king’s alliance with the war-like Sealord of Braavos, presently locked in a struggle with three of the Nine Free Cities—led him to hurry forces to Godsgrace, forces and a sizable train of siege engines to hasten the fall of Godsgrace.
Now the town’s walls are the only things that stand between liberty and enslavement, the walls and the 6,000 Dornishmen left to regroup at an oasis to the southeast of the town. But day by day, the king’s siege camp coalesces, and the siege engines are beginning to be placed….
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