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It had all been arranged. Dornish captains would ride out beneath the holy truce banner, to surrender to the king. Five knights, representatives of the army and a number of Dorne’s chief lords and ladies, would make their submission to the king, the Dornish army in attendance with no banners flying to show their place as supplicants. The king would meet them with his companions, to receive their obesiance. It was all quite simple, it seemed. The war was won, Godsgrace near to falling after a fourth hole gaped, fresh, in its walls. Only a matter of time, surely, especially with that rabid dog, Prince Rhodry, dead or dying after he failed to break the siege.
The king gave a brief speech as the men cheered him, and then rode out to meet the five ... with his Kingsguard as companions, and no one else. Why? A magnanimous sign, he said, that they would kneel only before the king, and no other lord or captain. So he rode out, and met the men: Ser Mavros Uller, Ser Archibald Wells, Ser Rufus Dalt, Lord Andrey Blackmont, and Lord Orlyn Jordayne. Out of earshot though they were, all eyes watched. They watched avidly, imagining already the great wealth the king would give to the men who helped him defeat this Dornish rebel army. Imagining…
Anything, but the king’s death. For it was there on that field, when Lord Jordayne produced a Myrish crossbow, and Big Archie Wells leapt forward with his flail. The Kingsguard who did not die in the first volleys tried to fight, to save the king, whose horse had fallen with a bolt through its eye and trapped him under its bulk. The legendary Lord Commander, Ser Reynard Caron, and Ser Osbert Bettley were immediately killed; Ser Olyvar Oakheart, the Green Oak, died valiantly, his hand cut off by Uller before Lord Blackmont ran him through. And the Dragonknight? Oh, he was a wonder, leaping from his dying horse, finding his feet to cut down Rufus Dalt, Lady Fowler’s Consort, and then cleaving Ser Archibald to his sternum.
But could he save the king? No. Lord Hugo Smallwood, Hugo Oakshanks, and some other men had rushed to rescue the king, but the Dornish had been prepared for this, and the whole Dornish army was coming forward, and their banners were flying again. And flying before them? The prince in his copper-plated armor, Rhodry Martell, not so wounded as the Dornish had put out. He nigh trampled the Dragonknight, and as he lay stunned men seized him, men seized him and dragged him away. The Stormbreaker, the Crakehalls, Ser Luthor Rivers and Ser Sorin of Sevenstreams, and more—all sorts of knights, flying, disorganized, unready, and far too few. The Dornish outnumbered them, the Dornish often had more armor, and the Dornish were ready. It was nearly a slaughter, but the valor of the king’s would-be rescuers held. Oakshanks died, that mighty lord, taking several Dornish with him.
And then, Prince Rhodry leapt from his horse. He took down the fallen truce banner. King Daeron, trapped, struggled to unsheathe Blackfyre to try and defend himself, but it was caught beneath the dead destrier. Martell raised the banner, and then thrust it home, through the king’s neck, the butt-spike driving into the earth. And so Daeron died, the Young Dragon, the Last Dragon, his like never to be seen again. Martell stole his crown from his brow, made an attempt to take Blackfyre as well, but failing in that he took to horse. The Dornish withdrew, leaving slaughter and ruin behind them.
The king’s body, and that of his Kingsguard, were returned to the camp. A pall fell over it, and now there were those who wondered at what they would do. Ser William Waxley, the king’s steward, chief man of the king’s household, attempted to bring order to little effect. Stormbreaker resolved to break camp and depart as soon as may be, as soon as he could get supplies. Others had the same thought.
And then the surprising word: the baggage train, under control of Ser Meros Tyrell, refused to dispurse supplies. This was to the good, as far as Ser William could see, for the army had to remain together rather than act at cross purposes ... but then Ser Meros refused his authority. No, he said, he would hold the baggage until he was appointed commander of the army. This proved untenable to many, to say the least. Arguments began, with even Ser Ardon Tyrell, Mad Meros’s nephew, speaking against his uncle’s folly. To no avail. In the end, Ser William called for a time of mourning for the king and his valiant knights, and suggested that they would all reconvene at first light the next day to resolve matters.
An uneasy afternoon, and an uneasier night, followed.
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