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The king’s march progressed through the Boneway, despite the minor skirmishes and raids suffered all along the line of his great army as it wound through the red mountains of Dorne. Each day meant a day nearer to Yronwood, under siege by the largest of the Dornish armies. Yet each day also meant a day further from the source of much of the king’s supplies, and each day meant that his army was outstripping his supply a little more. Water in particular had become a precarious thing, and on some days the army was forced to march into the night to be able to rest, exhausted, at a watering place.
The Dornishmen, of course, knew this. While they raided and spied, Lord Mors Manwoody—one of the few Dornishmen who had never bent his knee, instead fighting in those self-same mountains and even raiding into the Dornish Marches for three years now—prepared plans to put a halt to the king’s march. A day’s delay, or better still two, would leave the army to wither with thirst. To achieve this, his forces and local Dornishmen built an earthwork across a narrow part of the Boneway, with a berm and a ditch before it. From there, the Lord of Kingsgrave hoped to usher Daeron to an early end. The king’s outriders gave the king a great deal of warning of the force that opposed him. Though it was dwarfed by the king’s host—some 20,000 strong—the rampart they had raised and the narrowness of the approach would make that less telling. Or so the Dornishmen hoped.
When at last the enemy came in sight, the king had ordered his forces for an assault directly upon the earthwork. Splendid in his royal armor, surrounded by Kingsguard and knights and lords, King Daeron considered the enemy position and then delegated the arranging of the initial assault to Mad Meros Tyrell and Ser Dalton Florent, the heir to Brightwater Keep. The initial attack began, as the Dornish defense led by Lord Mors and Ser Willum Gargalen fought back. Many were the dead who fell in that first wave, their bodies falling into the ditch before the rampart. Some of the Dornish strength, however, had noted the absence of the giant Ser Sarmion Baratheon. Ser Laurent Dalt, who had come to the Boneway under the banner of Prince Marence following his success in winning back Vaith and Godsgrace, led a reserve that guarded the rear of the Dornish defenses, and readied itself to take part in the fighting at the rampart if needs be.
When it seemed Ser Dalton’s force was flagging, despite the efforts of the hedge knight Ser Sorin of Sevenstreams and the smaller force he led to secure Ser Dalton’s flanks, the king sent reinforcements behind them. Ser Elmer Crakehall, a household knight of the Lannisters, led this force with his cousin Ser Burton, heir to Crakehall, joining him with the swords he had raised for the king. Focusing upon one area of the defense, the Crakehall knights led a furious assault upon the rampart. Ladders went up, and though men fell, a toehold on top of the earthwork was found. More began to form, and though part of the reserve launched into battle, more and more of the king’s forces followed to begin to press. Lord Mors himself fought briefly with Ser Elmer before being pulled away in the tide of battle, while Ser Dalton did all he could to sweep the Dornish from the defenses. The Dornish rallied, and it seemed they would throw back the enemy…
... when out of a defile to the south appeared a company of horsemen, two hundred strong, and there was a giant at their head: Ser Sarmion Baratheon, the Stormbreaker. Ser Andry Chester had explored the ways of the Boneway as far as he could, on the king’s commission to find an alternate, swifter route; that had failed, but he had discovered a route that would allow a small troop to circumvent the Dornish earthwork. This the king used, with all his guile, and set some of his best knights—Ser Almer Connington and Ser Ethos Mertyns, men who held or once held positions of honor under the king, among them—to use it to attack the enemy where they were weakest. This they did, to significant effect. Thought the Sand Dog’s forces threw themselves at the enemy, they could hold them off so long. In that breathing space, Lord Mors called the retreat, and something of an orderly withdrawal was achieved. Though scores of Dornish wounded and dead were left behind, hundreds more escaped intact. Ser Laurent’s own forces disengaged from the fighting and scrambled up the steep, mountainous terrain on foot away from the horsemen. After, Ser Sarmion joined others in seeking out Dornish wounded and making an end to them.
The battle won, the king had Ser Meros see to the demolition of the earthwork so that the march could continue. He gave great praise to those knights and lords who had fought so well for him. Ser Dalton and Ser Sorin, having been gathering prisoners in response to the brutality of Stormbreaker and his former squire Ser Ethos, soon had another prisoner: a boy, left behind from Ser Laurent’s force. The king called for the boy to be brought forward, and questioned him. What he learned was a great surprise.
The boy at first claimed he was Mordred Sand, son of Ser Perrin Blackmont, Keeper of the Sandship for Prince Marence. But soon enough, something caught the attention of Prince Aemon the Dragonknight thanks to her fellow captives, and all was revealed: the boy Mordred was, in fact, the young lady Caitrin Blackmont. Ser Perrin was her father, but she was no son of his. Defiant, the lady showed no obesiance to the king, and spoke in the lewd way of Dornish wantons. King Daeron was little amused. He asked after the prince’s forces and his leading captains, such as Lord Gargalen (good-father to Ser Ethos, in fact, following his marriage to Gargalen’s heir Joleta at the king’s command), who was still in Sunspear for all the maid (if she was a maid) knew. In the end, the king allowed the lady to depart back to the rebels, bearing a message: a last offer for their surrender and honorable treatment. And if not ... having set Florent’s prisoners to digging graves, to help with the burial of the many killed in battle, the king ordered their throats cut before the woman’s eyes. They fell into the shallow graves they were made, as the Young Dragon informed her that if they continued to fight, the rebels could expect no better mercy. Nor could she, if she took up arms against him once more.
After some hours, the march resumed, and though the king’s forces felt an edge of thirst, the next day they refilled their water supply as the Dornish kept their distance but for a few testing raids. A fortnight more, if all goes well, and the Young Dragon’s forces would be out of the Boneway and approaching Yronwood.
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