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As the rebels of Dorne seize back more and more of their land—Salt Shore, Yronwood, and Wyl the last of King Daeron’s strongholds—battle has been joined in the Boneway, as Ser Sarmion Baratheon led forces under the Baratheon banner to force their way up the mountain pass. Their purpose? To throw back Lord Manwoody and the rest of the rebels, to relieve Wyl that was virtually under siege, and to meet the Young Dragon’s seaborne force. But Lord Manwoody, that wily old lord, succeeded in delaying the greater force of stormlords. The king would have no help.
Well over a hundred galleys, transports, and cogs had departed King’s Landing, daring the narrow sea despite the rumors that the maesters thought the season was near to turning, and with autumn would come the storms that wracked the length and breadth of the waters; such a storm had delayed the king’s departure by a week as it was. Yet all the vessels made the journey safely to Dorne, and a fortunate wind blew them west across the Sea of Dorne. Some feared that Dorne’s forbidding coasts—rocks and maelstroms and desolation—would make a landing deadly, but the king had a secret: a Dornish smuggler, his services bought with coin and with threats, would guide them to a smuggler’s cove he knew near the castle of Wyl.
Of course, the Dornish rebels roving about Wyl had warning of this. Many of them were veterans of years of fighting in the Boneway under Lord Manwoody, or alongside the robber knight Red Rhys of the scourge. Their numbers were augmented by a part of the royal force Prince Marence sent under command of Ser Laurent Dalt, the Sand Dog, and Ser Baduin Santagar, the Red Spear. With Wild Will Gargalen with them, they joined with the rebels and organized a force to attempt to repel the invaders there at the shoreline. They arrived just in time to see more than a hundred boats put off from the hundred ships of the fleet, each loaded with fighting men: levies, men-at-arms, bold knights daring to wear their full harness, Braavosi crossbowmen sent by the Sealord of Braavos, and more. The largest of the craft—more an ironborn longship than a boat, where the Young Dragon was with four knights of the Kingsguard and his picked battle companions, even contained thirty horsemen. The force with the king outnumbered the Dornishmen four to one.
Yet not all the boats could arrive at once. The vanguard of the boat-fleet approached the shoreline under a hail of arrows from the Dornishmen, with Ser Dagur Saltcliffe, the Iron Serpent, leading the way. The Braavosi crossbows sent their bolts back, but due to the unsteady craft amidst the surging tide, their weapons had less effect than the Dornish archery. Still, Saltcliffe achieved the shore unhurt, and hundreds of men with him who performed courageous feats, men such as Ser Dalton Florent. The first to set foot upon Dornish ground, he led a charge out of the frothing surf, meeting the Dornish spears led by Ser Willum Gargalen, a knight famed for his manic energy and wild courage. The struggle was a brutal one, and many were the king’s knights who were overwhelmed, or fell to drown in their armor in no more than six feet of water; but Saltcliffe and the others who survived pressed on, and held, and would not be thrown back.
More boats approached. The Sand Dog led the Dornishmen to the flanks, and Dornish archers put down their bows—lacking any regular supply, their arrows were soon depleted—and joined the fray, spears thrown and spears thrusting. But still the king’s men held, and more and more joined them, though more than one boat was overturned by accident in the frenzy to reach the shoreline. And then the king’s great boat arrived. Turned hard to port, anchors were used to stay its motion, and a great gangway was let down. Riding into the water just off the shore were the king’s thirty mounted knights, led by the noble heirs Ser Tancred Baratheon and Ser Burton Crakehall. They charged up to the shore, and joined the battle while the king, his Kingsguard, and the rest of his battle companions followed behind. The Targaryen standard was carried high, and when the standard-bearer was killed by a Dornish spear, another knight took it up instead and pressed on.
Ser Gregor Wendwater did great harm to the Dornishmen when the bulk of the king’s force arrived, his polaxe shearing through spears and skulls, opening a way for the Dragonknight and Ser Olyvar Oakheart of the Kingsguard to break into the ranks, the Young Dragon behind. And still, more boats arrived, disgorging more men onto the shore. The Dornish commanders saw that now the numbers were too greatly against them, and called for a withdrawal, which proved orderly. King Daeron sent his remaining cavalry to harry any stragglers, but to not stray too far from the beach head that his forces had formed, and began to organize a defense against further attack.
And away in the distance, the first of the galleys unshipped its oars, to row into the cove and empty itself of the fighting men it carried. I would be a task to take all that day, and some of the morning following. The Dornish forces withdrew, away from Wyl entirely, and back to the safety of the Boneway. They would come into contact with the first of Ser Sarmion Baratheon’s outriders, showing that his own army was now less than a day away from joining King Daeron.
In the end, the Young Dragon prevailed, but at a high cost: seven hundred dead, among them one of Ser Burton’s chief officers, against less than two hundred rebels killed. Still, now the king’s strength in Dorne has suddenly become equal to that of his enemies, who are divided between the Boneway, Yronwood, and Sunspear thanks to the garrison at the great mountain fortress and Ser Alyn Velaryon looming with his fleet and two thousand men within striking range of the Planky Town.
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