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The colloquy of the leading lords and captains of the army lasted a mere hour, following the destruction of much of the baggage. Ser Ardon Tyrell’s men had seized a part of what remained, and the stormlords another part, and Ser William’s men a third part. No agreement could be made as to a single direction for the army, nor a single commander. And so, in the interest of preventing any more bloodshed, Ser William and others agreed to break the army up, each under its own commander:
Ser William himself would lead the king’s household and such men as wished to follow him along the Scourge, foraging on the river’s west bank after they crossed it a the Sourwater, and then daring the crossing of the desert with the aim of reaching Yronwood and the 5,000 men still there led by Ser Conrad Arryn, holding the long siege of the great fortress. From there, with supply from the Boneway, they could make the long march back to the Marches. The summer was late, it’s true, and the flood that nearly killed the king may have been a prelude of worse to come if Autumn came . . . but Ser William wagered it would not be so. The only danger was the length of the journey, some three weeks. But with forage, Ser William thought the supply issue would not be so terrible, especially if the forces at Yronwood brought more supplies to them.
Ser Sarmion Baratheon and a number of the marcher and stormlords opted instead to strike northwest, across the desert which Stormbreaker claimed to have enough familiarity with to safely negotiate. To what end, some might ask? To reach the Tor, hopefully weakly garrisoned by Lord Jordayne’s men, and storm it. There, they would hope Oakenfist would have sent ships with dispatch—already ravens were flying to the Planky Town and Salt Shore to inform him of all that had befallen, and the direction Baratheon was taking his men. It would be a hard journey, and a hard battle at the end, yet it was the swiftest and shortest journey.
And finally, Ser Ardon Tyrell and his good-brother, the Iron Serpent, determined to travel with Ser William’s force as far as the Sourwater. At the crossing, however, they would turn south, to seek a crossing of the Vaith and to make for Salt Shore. Still held by Oakenfist’s garrison though it was—at least to last report—the journey was longer than Baratheon’s proposal, but there’d be forage along the Scourge, and then along the Vaith, it was hoped. And with the Dornish. armies having gathered east of the rivers now, it was likely that the whole region between Godsgrace and Salt Shore was largely swept of any spears; even Vaith had only a nominal garrison, all the men having been executed at the command of Beslon the Bad. A desert would need to be crossed—where isn’t there a desert in Dorne?—but a smaller one than the one either Waxley or Baratheon had set upon. And if Salt Shore had fallen to some unknown Dornish. force? They could storm it as readily as Ser Sarmion proposed to storm the Tor.
The army has already split, largely among regional lines: Kingslanders and men from Crackclaw and the narrow sea with Ser William, including the Braavosi crossbowmen sent by the Sealord of Braavos; stormlords and especially the Marchers with Ser Sarmion Baratheon, save the Dondarrion household knights, who mean to take their dead lord to his son, Ser Doran, at the siege of Yronwood and then home across the Boneway to Blackhaven; and then the lords of the Reach following Ser Ardon and Ser Dagur Saltcliffe. Yet there are others who are undecided, and are given a day to consider before the army pulls apart, abandoning camp and skulking away in the small hours of the night to win some distance from the Dornish.
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