Blood of Dragons

The 'A Song of Ice and Fire' MUSH


The Death of the Young Dragon
IC Date: Day 9 of Month 6, 161 AC.
RL Date: February 20, 2010.
Participants: Almer Connington, Burton Crakehall, Caitrin Blackmont, Elmer Crakehall, Ermen Frey, Ethos Mertyns, Halyn Grimm, Luthor Rivers, Mavros Uller, Sorin of Sevenstreams, Symeon Westerling, Tancred Baratheon.
Locations: Godsgrace: Before Godsgrace.

Summary: Daeron's dream of conquest ends in blood spilled on the sands of Dorne.

The Dornish sun stands high in the sky as witness to the king’s triumphant moment. His siege camp spreads to surround Godsgrace, where four gaping wounds mark the holes his great siege engine Balerion—no man was judged to have found a better name, so the king threw out the seven-and-seventy dragons to the crowd of common soldiers and let them amuse themselves by fighting over the coins—had made in its walls. The Dornish army has approached in submission, flying no banners in token of surrender, save one: from a staff topped by a seven-pointed star, a rainbow banner flies, the symbol of peace. Five men ride under it, Dornish lords and captains all, their pride broken as they come to make obessiance to their rightful king. Their armor seems less bright than it did on a day of battle, and their cloaks are as listless as they are.

The Dornish sun stands high in the sky as witness to the king’s triumphant moment. His siege camp spreads to surround Godsgrace, where four gaping wounds mark the holes his great siege engine Balerion—no man was judged to have found a better name, so the king threw out the seven-and-seventy dragons to the crowd of common soldiers and let them amuse themselves by fighting over the coins—had made in its walls. The Dornish army has approached in submission, flying no banners in token of surrender, save one: from a staff topped by a seven-pointed star, a rainbow banner flies, the symbol of peace. Five men ride under it, Dornish lords and captains all, their pride broken as they come to make obessiance to their rightful king. Their armor seems less bright than it did on a day of battle, and their cloaks are as listless as they are.

The king himself and his four Kingsguard—Ser Reynard the Lord Commanderm Ser Olyvar the Green Oak, Ser Osbert the Breaker of Yronwood, and Prince Aemon the Dragonknight—is in his finest armor, and on his fair brow is the crown of Aegon the Conqueror, a band of Valyrian steel set with great rubies. He laughs at some soldier’s jest as he and his White Swords move through the camp. At one point, one man calls, “Three cheers for the Young Dragon!” And the many in the camp do just that: “HURRAH! HURRAH! HURRAH!” as their young, bold, handsome king sets forth to meet the Dornishmen. At the camp’s edge, the king pauses, and lifts his hand for silence.

“It’s about time the fucking Dornish know their place in this world.” Ethos Mertyns mutters under his breath to no one in particular. The knight is squinting in the sunlight, sloppy in appearance with hair half-heartedly combed back, beard scraggly, clothing wrinkled beneath his armor. As the king rides in, the man grins at the impending triumph before them.

The Westerosi army mills around in camp, an almost festive air to it. The brutal months of fighting their way acrosse these Gods-forsaken lands—long, blood-soaked leagues—are finally at an end. And even as cheers rise around the camp for their gallant king, men in other parts of the camp—most of them unarmoured now that the impending attack is no longer needed—wander near the picket lines to jeer at their broken foes as the Dornishmen ride forth to bend the knee.

But acclaim and insults both slowly fade away as word spreads from man to another that the King is going to speak. Those who are close enough to hear crowd even closer.

Less jovial is Ser Almer Connington. He, like the knights who choose to ride and fight with him, are resplendent in bright steel and silken heraldry, but there is a pall on their moods this day. For his part, Almer remains silent and sober in crimson and white griffin-livery, seeming to take small comfort in the impending events.

Tancred stands, looking for one since the middle of the campaign, as the heir to House Baratheon. His armor is once again parade ground polished, and mended to the best that can be in the field. The new beard he has is closely cropped and trimmed. He stands by his cousin during this. “Indeed, I am looking forward to getting out of these lands and back to the Storm Lands, or even Kings Landing.” A slight wistful tone in his voice as for the first time since the first battle, a tone of hope. “Back to Obany.”

His bashed and battered armor polished to a shine and wearing a fresh tabard Ser Luthor examines the mass of Dornishmen with a critical eye. “I still don’t believe it,” he murmurs to himself. He nudges his horse with a knee and it takes him to the fore of the King’s knights where he can get a better view. Joining the cheer somewhat half-heartedly, he loosens his sword in its scabbard. “Just in case,” he says to himself as he waits for the King’s words.

The hedge knight Sorin of Sevenstreams stands near the edge of the camp where the Doornish party is approaching, adding a cheer or two to the rest of the host’s. He is flanked by two of the more reliable hedge knights that were placed under his charge, both proven well in this battle. In constrast he stands in full armor, finely wrought Doornish pieces that he has collected on the battlefield. Also in constrast is his expression, a slight grimace. He does not seem to hope for an end to this conflict, it being the main source of his income of course.

Halyn Grimm, the young squire stands near his knight, Ethos Mertyns. Unlike his master, the boy is neatly attired and the expression on his youthful face is strangely adult. The war has aged him, it seems, and he will leave his boyhood in Dorne.

Not far away, with the other Stormlanders, is the massive Ser Endros Buckler. His body, already marked by battle, has a few new scars to add to his collection. The fierce knight is silent and serious, alternately watching his cousin, the King, and the Dornish commanders. Tucked into one gauntlet is a lock of his wife’s hair, now soiled with sweat and grime. Tucked into the other gauntlet is her missive to him, announcing the birth of their healthy son. Though his countence gives no indication, Ser Endros has much waiting for him at home.

Silence falls fitfully, but it falls. “We have fought long and hard for this, our victory,” says King Daeron, voice raised for these soaring words. “Now it comes, and it comes thanks to you, my brothers in arms! Know that no man of you will ever be forgotten!”

And with that, the gallant king and his four white knights ride out to meet the supplicants under the truce banner. Ser Reynard, the Lord Commander, carries the three-headed red dragon on black, the king’s banner.

The section of the camp where the Reachlords and Riverlords have their main strength is as festive as any other. Near the edge of the camp where the King speaks before riding forth stands the Lord-Protector of Highgarden, Ardon Tyrell, eyes shaded as he looks at the Dornish army. His rich breastplate—much battered now—is buckled on and his sword by his side, but he wears no other armour.

He seems to have just made a jape, for he is laughing even as the camp erupts in cheers around him again. His good-brother who stands with him—the Iron Serpent, also in half-armour—smiles and shakes his head: “They really do smile on you. Another day and we would have been pushing through those breaches.”

“Or you. Or all of us,” the Lord-Protector laughs again before looking around: “And where is my mad nuncle? I would have thought he would be here to see the show.”

A great moment in the king’s history, this, as he reaches the Dornishmen on neutral ground between the line of the camp and the Dornish force. The Dornishmen on their sand steeds seem unhappy, by the set of their bodies on horseback—it’s too far to make out faces clearly. Yet the foremost of them must be Ser Mavros Uller, the man many credit with beginning the rebellion, and with him are Lord Jordayne and Blackmont. The big, mass of muscle, Big Archie Wells, represents Lady Yronwood, and Ser Rufus Dalt represent his wife, Lady Fowler.

So do nearly all the mightiest lords have their representatives ... except the Martells, but perhaps that is where Ser Mavros comes in. Prince Rhodry Nymeros Martell is not evident, but with the flight of the Dornish when they failed to break the siege went the rumor that the prince had fallen—it seems to be true.

“We may not return yet, cousin. There are always the rabble to mop up that refuse to face the truth.” Ethos murmurs to Tancred, glancing between his cousin and squire, then turns his pale Stormlander eyes back towards the king. “But I suppose you will not stay for that bit of fun.” He says, smirking.

The stormlands stands in good array. Lord Swann and Lord Dondarrion keep their great forces in good order, those they’ve deigned fit to witness this event—the second surrender of Dorne. At their fore, the Stormbreaker sits, brother of the Lord Baratheon, chief of the Stormland knights, he has led them through victory after victory from Boneway to Godsgrace and now the capitulation of this conquered people.

Sarmion looks on, sitting his saddle like the mountains lashed by the Storms that give those lands their name. He waits to see an end to this latest struggle. An end that will bring him back to his young and lovely Hightower wife, Lyrissa.

Tancred grunts, and looks as if he has tasted something sour. “Oh yes, more sleeping in mud and the stench of blood and unwashed bodies versus clean sheets and a nice smelling warm body, who can argue against that dear cousin. Still, I am here as long as the King needs me, regardless of my wishes.”

Words are exchanged, of greeting, between the king and the supplicants. The Dornish army looks on, no banners flying still, so defeated when compared to the camp where men are eager to see the king make the Dornishmen kneel to him, and slap backs and shoulders as they start counting what rewards the king may grant them—his brothers! he called them—when Dorne is his. So many dragons for a sand steed, they count in their minds, so many dragons for a nobleman’s swordbelt fitted with plaquettes of gold and silver, so many dragons for silver and gold plate…

As the king and his embassy move out, Almer and his Stormlord companion-knights find their way toward the flower banners of his kinsman, Ardon Tyrell. He is silent, still, though pensive in his manner. Almer offers a curt nod to Dagur, then motions for his own squire to bring up his horse.

The ironborn knight returns the nod in kind, but his attention is focused on the Dornish party that rides out. “No Rhodry,” he finally says to no one in particular. “Dead, then. Or wounded badly enough that it makes no difference.”

His horse and his good-brother’s are led forward, and they mount to ride forward to where Ser Dalton Florent has a company of Reachknights in full array sitting their mounts beyond the camp; witnesses to this moment, Tyrell banners flying bravely.

“If he is not dead, he will be of sheer rage when he hears about this,” Ardon replies easily, swinging into his saddle. “There is a man who would never bend the knee willingly.” He raises a hand to Almer: “Join us, coz. It would be a poor show if there were no one to watch it.”

“And what of your kin? I have Salt Shore to secure. The .. ” There’s a moment of hesitation, his brow furrowing, “Our homelands will benefit greatly from that trading port.” Ethos murmurs, grinning with his own anticipation. “Must be sure my wife has a secure home to return to.”

Halyn glances at his knight, when Ser Ethos exchanges words with the Heir to the Stormlands. He still wears that adult expression, too solemn for his youthful face. He doesn’t speak to either knight, just watches them for a moment, before turning his eyes to the meeting of the King and the Dornish commanders.

Ser Endros shifts his weight restlessly, looking over the assembled Dornishmen. “Where is Martell?”

Grey eyes narrowed in wary cynicism, the mood of the knight some have called the dark griffin seems to match the sinister sobriquet. Almer eyes Ardon with a tight frown. “I have a bad feeling about this.” And then, the trap is sprung.

“Seven hells,” Almer snarls, climbing aboard his destrier and whirling the steed. “To the king!”

... Something’s wrong.

One of the Dornishmen turns in the saddle, and reachs beneath that listless cloak, and one of the Kingsguard with the king’s banner is spurring his horse and then he’s falling and swords are being drawn and another white knight falls, a black quarrel sprouting from his throat, and there’s chaos and a flail and a falling horse—

The king is down, his destrier sticken by a bolt from a Myrish crossbow, and he’s trapped beneath his body! And in the Dornish army, movement, and trumpets, and banners, banners rising everywhere as the Dornishmen yell and scream and scores of horsemen suddenly explode out of the Dornish mass, and before them all there’s a knight in copper armor and robes of red and yellow and orange, with the sun-and-spear upon his round shield and a sword in his hand!

“TREACHERY!” roars a voice, and it’s taken up by others, and some scramble to find horses, and one man and his companions already have them: Lord Hugo Smallwood, the aged but mighty knight called Oakshanks. He leads a handful—the merest handful—to try and save the king, as his White Swords—those who live, not Ser Reynard who was hammered down by Archie Wells nor Ser Osbert whose life has poured out onto the sands, but Ser Olyvar Oakheart fights still despite the crossbow bolt feather-deep in his chest and Prince Aemon who leapt from his own dead horse and landed to cut down Ser Rufus Dalt. Ser Mavros spurs his horse and with a terrible blow, Oakheart’s sword arm is severed, and then Lord Blackmont drives a spear under his armpit as the Green Oak reels in shock.

As the pair of horses approach the Florent’s company, Sorin raises his hand to helm in salute to the pair, offering a grin as well. His own warhorse held behind him, he also moves to mount up, motioning the two men to go and assemble their small company to array besides the Florent one. As Sorin mounts, he hears the gasp go up and drawing his sword, kicks the horse forward to rally up behind the parlaying party and protect the king, his company still moving to assemble somewhere behind him.

Burton Crakehall seems to feel very himself happy and proud, following all the commotion with an amused—if only—eye. His black chaimail matches his silk cloak, and the empty eyepit is covered by a brand-new purple eyepatch, it seems he has prepared himself for the great event. His squire lead a black destrier-similar to the one that has been slayed during the previous night skirmish. The heir to Crakehall turns to one of his companions -a hedge knight- with a grin “Those cowards should be taught a lesson. I wish ....” And then he sees the King fall, and becomes as pale as a corpse! “To arms! Those Dornish traitors are attacking His Grace!”

“The King! The King!” the Stormbreaker shouts, “Protect the King!”

In his full armor, he raises his hammer high and sets spurs to his mount. It bounds forward towards the King and his Dornish attackers.

Those who may follow him, do so as their reflexes alow them.

Luthor screams in outrage as the King’s horse falls and the Dornish treachery becomes clear. Before he’s even aware of it his sword is in his hand and he is urging his mount to the fore of the array of the King’s knights. “ON ME! SAVE THE KING!” he roars and then not looking back to see if anyone is following charges towards the King.

Tancred yanks his sword free and spurns on his horse, yelling out. “Come on cousin! I know this was not to be, I knew it. Come on, to the King!”

Ethos watches, growing impatient to see the Dornishmen on their knees, squinting against the sunlight. He tilts his head to the side, watching everything go sour with a somewhat detatched surprise. Then Tancred is tugging at his arm and Ethos is kicking his own mount into motion to follow, a familiar hatred and rage overtaking his features. Sword drawn, he’s ready to lay into the first Dornishman to cross his path.

And still the Westerosi army mills around the camp. But not those who are at its edge, watching the parley. For a few, crucial moments, they struggle to understand what they are seeing. Then, stray voices begin to cry aloud—until that single cry of treachery rings out frantically over the camp and others take it up.

And there is chaos. Men shout, calling for their horses, their armour; others remain uncertain, looking to each other.

The Dornish horse have the lead, and the Dornish army is moving now behind them, light skirmishers with their bows and their throwing spears, yet Oakshanks roars as he charges. And then the Dragonknight’s killed Big Archie Wells, somehow, Dark Sister a blur, flail a blur, the giant knight and the greatest knight in the realm battling until by some unseen turn or twist Wells stumbles, and falls, and then Dark Sister is brought down and the big knight’s riven from shoulder to sternum.

The Dragonknight pulls the bloody, dark grey sword out, and turns, and perhaps he’s calling for Daeron when he’s trampled, Prince Rhodry—it must be him!—sending his sand steed barrelling into him, knocking him flat, and other men leap down and they seize the prone body as their fellows charge past them—

—and meet Oakshanks and his fellow would-be rescuers, the boldest and the bravest of men, but outnumbered, woefully outnumbered, and many have hardly any armor at all. The Dornish knights are ferocious, and when their lances impale men and snap, out come swords and fighting spears.

And as the camp is in an uproar, and more men find their horses and are riding out, and there are soldiers and men-at-arms running on foot, a chaotic mass, but someone’s blowing a trumpet, and calling for men to hold, for companies to organize, for retreat.

Spurring away from the Tyrell command, Almer draws his bright blade. Though all is chaos, a few of his fellow Stormland knights are mounting up. A handful now trail the knight of Griffin’s Roost, though Connington outpaces them in a matter of seconds. He jumps his destrier over an upturned cart, thundering recklessly toward the parley and his fallen King.

Ser Endros Buckler mounts his pale grey destrier and charges into the fray, swinging his morning star, as he joins the other Stormlanders. His voice is an incoherent roar, furious at the treachery of the Dornishmen.

Halyn is afoot, lightly armored as compared to the knights. He has a shortsword, but is quickly left behind by the mounted knights.

A foot in the saddle, the Iron Serpent begins to reply to his good-brother—then curses vilely and succinctly as the cry of treachery rings out. He throws himself into the saddle even as Ardon Tyrell, blanching, spurs forward as if all the hounds of the Seven Hells were after him.

Dalton Florent has already led the ready Reachknights forward in a mad gallop to defend the king. And so the Lord Protector and his ironborn good-brother gallop along their lines, readying their main strength. The men who were watching are now astride their horses, some in full-armour, some in just pauldrons and vambraces, others without anything except their swords. In short order, two hundred Reachknights and more are ready in desperate haste.

And then they begin to ride forth under the two commanders, an oasis of order in the madness that is engulfing the field.

Seeing the Dornish charge, Ser Luthor spares a glance behind him and sees the King’s knights are indeed with him, he glances at where the King lays beneith his horse, friendly colours are already with him. He looks back at the charging Dornishmen and with a wave of his sword directs the King’s knights into them, hoping that he can buy some time for those with the King to win him clear. “Fire and Blood!” he shouts as he collides with the first of the Dornishmen hacking him from his saddle with his sword.

And in all the welter of confusion, as Dornish arrows arch over the place where the Kingsguard fell to land at the borders of the camp, somewhere in it all Lord Hugo is killed, to die in the same damned desert where his son Beslon the Bad was executed. Oakshanks took men with him, however, sending them to hell. But Daeron? He doesn’t save him.

As men battle, Prince Rhodry leaps down from his horse, and takes up the fallen truce banner. He moves to where Daeron, trapped beneath the bulk of his dead horse, struggles to get at his sword, calling for his men to save him, but the Dornishmen are holding them off. The banner, with the long spike of steel in its end is lifted high. .. and with dreadful finality, Rhodry brings it down. Into the king’s neck, and out the other side, to sink into the earth, the rainbow banner stirring in the wind.

Seeing the oncoming swarm, Tancred yells out to the small company of horse with him and his cousin. “The Dornish advance, charge them, We must give others time to get to the King or we are going to be overwhelmed.”

Elmer has been stading in the rear guard with the Lannister men, but the tall, plate aromored knigh sees the mayhem on the field of battle, and he raises a hand. “It sees this is not over!” Trumpets blow behind him and infantry begins to move slowly. If the place where the King is, is still milling in turmoil, the numbers of Westermen and the ones coming with them should settle the picture. As Martell runs his spear through the King’s neck, Elmer’s face goes white.

Burton Crakehall plunges forward, followed by five guardsmen in brown-and white cloaks. One of them is still holding a Brindled Boar banner that snaps in the wind wildly, the others attack Dornishmen with their spears, and Tymon the Brigand, a bodyguard to Burton, is holding a crossbow that he uses as often as he can. Burton roars and slashes with his sword like mad-trying desperately to reach the King. And he is quick enough-whu quick enough to see his sovereign being pierced by a spear “NO,” the heir to Crakehall now sounds more like a wild beast than like a man “IT CANT BE SO! IT CANT!”

One of the Dornish warhorses comes crashing through the thin line of men trying hopelessly to make an effort to guard the king. It barreled into Sorin’s shield and sends him flying amongst the growing body count lying upon the field. With a curse, he watches the spear bore its way through the king’s neck that he failed to protect. Strapping his kite shield to his back, he reaches down and pulls his warhammer from the loop at his side, jumping towards the fray with an angry cry, both weapons spinning about as they swing and slash towards the enemy. His hammer seems slowed today, that arm having been hurt by the warhorse slamming into his shield and he cringes as he swings it.

The Young Dragon is dead. And from his brow, Rhodry takes his crown, and for a moment he can be seen stooping down, tugging at Blackfyre, but it’s trapped beneath the dead boy and the dead horse. His men call to him, and one holds his horse’s reins as he pulls himself up on top of it.

And then the Dornish withdraw almost as swiftly as they came, the Dragonknight dragged away battered and unconscious, and Oakshank and his men dead, but the boy king’s body remains, as more of the king’s men come up at last, at last, but too late. A few Dornish knights fall under the bitter, fruitless charge of the king’s men, but on their swift sand steeds most escape. Dornish arrows fall, and the Braavosi crossbowmen, their officers roused to action, send bolts arching back towards them, but the distance is great.

Ethos has no helm or shield, both left back where his squire was standing at his side, but he has his armor on and his sword in hand. He doesn’t see Rhodry’s treachery. His eyes are on the advancing swarm of Dornishmen, agreement with Tancred’s logic. He spurs his less wieldy horse to move faster, but the beast is not as efficient as a sandsteed and the knight yells in frustration.

Ser William Waxley looks stricken, stricken at what’s happened, and yet the king’s steward yells and has men sound the retreat, to pull those who sallied out to the king’s rescue—too late—back to the camp, and now a heavy pall falls over the camp, a pall of outrage and shock, and a deep and gnawing fear that now ... now everything’s changed, and that Dorne is slipping away like sand between fingers.

Bareheaded, Almer’s countenance is a pale mask of rage. He mouths a wordless oath even as he pounds through the grime and dust, seeing the King laid low by the treasonous thrust, and the knights in tow behind him cry out in grief and fury. Powerless even to avenge, or die in the attempt, Almer can only draw up his horse amidst the Young Dragon’s impotent escort and watch the Dornishmen pull back.

The Dornish withdrawal is all that saves Luthor and the King’s men who rode with him from the fate that befell his Uncle, Luthor is bloody and spent but as soon as it’s clear that he and his men are safe he wheels his mount back towards the pile of horseflesh and bodies that surrounds the king and calls to the survivors of his men. “Back to the King,” he calls breathlessly. “It’s our duty to see him safe…” his voice trails off as he spies his king, the wound in his neck telling him all he needs to know. He sobs. “By the Seven… no…” He leaps from his horse and comes to kneel next to his sovereign. “Sers, let us get his horse off of him and get him back,” he says to the knights around him voice hoarse with grief.

Elmer is still white as bone but he yells a command and thousands of bows creak as a hail of arrows is loosened over the heads of the Westerosi cavalry and towards the fleeing Dornish, also cutting up anytricksy charge from their part. As the arrows fly, he lifts his wineskin and drinks deeply. “Treachery..” he mutters, eyes wild with shock.

Sword cutting down one of the retreating men near the King’s body, Sorin cries out in rage, “Come and fight you cowards!” Cursing again, he puts the hammer back at his belt and kneels beside Luthor for a moment, shaking his head as he looks down at the King’s battered and crownless body. At the command, he joins several others as they lift and slide the dead warhorse off of the king’s pinned leg.

“The king! The king!” a weeping knight calls, and he is not the only one. As the last of the Dornish stragglers is killed or manages to make his escape, there are men trying to make sense of the situation, and ... to tend to the king’s body, the peace banner still thrust through his neck, his red blood poured onto the thirsty sands. His Kingsguard are about him, all but Aemon, their white cloaks no longer so white in death. Old Ser Reynard, a hero in his day, and the brave Green Oak, and the fiercesome Breaker of Yronwood—their legends are at an end.

One man, face red from the sun and from rage, moves to pull the banner from the king’s throat, muttering a prayer. “Fucking Dornish,” the man sobs as he throws the banner away. “May the gods see them in seven hells!” Others start to move to collect the bodies of the White Swords, and a litter is made out of spear hafts and cloaks for the king’s own body.

Tancred swears, he swears up a storm as he pulls back on the reigns. “Hold! If we tarry after them they will just pick us off with crossbows. Shore up support for those tending to… to the King. We must get him and anyone else we can clear of this, and be ready.”

Ser Endros reluctantly pulls back when the retreat is sound, seething in rage. A crossbow bolt is caught in his mail, but the big knight is uninjured. His grey destrier tosses his head at the scent of blood and is almost as enraged as his master, at being pulled back from the charge. Turning then, he moves to where his King has fallen.

At first, Halyn cannot be seen in the chaos, but as the Dornish pull away, the dust settles and some semblence of order returns, he can be found laying on the earth, a crossbow bolt in his upper arm and a growing red stain upon his clothing.

“He was the best King Westeros ever had !”-Burton spits out, red with rage. He throws his sword aside angrily and turns to Ser Sorin, as if he is going to say something else… and stays silent. There are now tears in his eye- a man who hasnt cried for years now does so. He swears-and then prays-and then once again starts swearing. Then he advances the dead King, kneels before him and kisses his lifeless hand “May the gods be just to you, Your Grace. And ... to us as well, now you are gone”

Elmer rides his horse slowly to Tancred’s side and his voice is booming. “My Lord Baratheon is right.” He dismounts and he can’t take his eyes off the King’s body. “We must hold a council, my Lords.” He looks around. “We must decide on a leader and on a course of action.”

Retreat?! Ethos looks around wildly, outraged. “No!! We must advance! Strike now!!” He screams, eyes locking on the bloody scene of where the king lays dead in the sand. Pale eyes turn back on Tancred. “We are not cowards! Rally the soldiers! We cannot let this stand! Be a fucking leader, cousin!”

The Mistwood knight jerks at his reins, turning his horse about to point it towards the Dornish army, despite the arrows raining down.

Once the king is free of the weight of his steed and the litter is made Ser Luthor is among those who lay his body upon the litter. Kneeling across from Ser Burton he takes the king’s sword from his scabbard and lays into the King’s hand. Then bows his head. “May the Gods keep you your Grace,” he offers in sad prayer, before rising. “Sers we must get off this field,” he nods to two knights. “You two, take the litter, the rest of us, to horse, we must get back to the army.”

Sheathing his sword in grief, Almer spins his black destrier and walks it toward the chattering lordlings and knights who cluster around the fallen Dragon. There is a mixture of anger and disgust in his icy grey eyes, but he is uncustomarily silent as he considers the scene. His lip curls in contempt as he studies the white-cloaked Kingsguard who have outlived their charge. “What now, lord?” asks the Beesbury knight at Almer’s side. Connington does not answer.

The hedge knight keeps his silence, though Sorin does nod gravely at the Crakehall’s statement about the king. When the horse is removed and the King’s body is prepared, the hedge knight bows his head for a moment in honor of the king. After all, the King himself had given him the humble company he now commands as part of this Host. After a moment of silence and reflection upon the body, he says, “May the Seven receive him well.” He them moves to help the other knights prepare the litter, sheathing his sword to help them carry the king’s body away.

The Young Dragon is dead, and his army’s will seems a hairsbreadth from following him. Confusion reigns; Ser Willam Waxley’s call is taken up and spreads like wildfire. Some mistake the call for retreat to mean a general retreat, and the first embers of panic are lighted. Others ignore the call and continue to ride forward, although their is nothing left to do save escort the King’s body back.

The Reachknights have drawn rein, barely having ridden out from the camp; there is no sense in riding further. They mill about, many weeping openly, others empty-eyed in shock. The Lord-Protector and his good-brother have a brief, fierce exchange—the former pale with dismay, the other’s face hard as stone—and then they begin to lead their men back to their lines.

Tancred looks over to Ethos. “And if they have reinforcements waiting in the wings, hoping that in our outrage we will charge right into their claws, decimating us to a man. The majority of our fighting force is here on these lands Ethos. If we all die here, what is to stop Dorne from marching on Westroes? No, we much regroup and see what can be salvaged, not risk all in blind rage.”

The voice of the Stormbreaker speaks up, “Stormlands! To me!”

His voice speaks of urgency and the call is undeniable. Horsemen flock to this one semblance of order in all the chaos—here at least is someone who will tell them what to do in their sorrow and their senseless loss.

Sarmion leads them back to their camp and tells them to get themselves in order to break camp. He sends a runner to the baggage to retrieve supplies for the long march home.

“No! You’re wrong!” Ethos screams back at Tancred, “We run them down now! While they’re gloating their treachery! Do not give them time to dig in! Call up an attack. Do not be a fucking coward! You’re Baratheon!”

Ser Endros accompanies those retrieving the dead and the wounded, his earlier rage now simmering beneath the surface. Once that is done, he turns his warhorse toward the call from the Stormbreaker, joining kith and kin.

Halyn is taken to one of the maester’s tents, to have his wound tended. The boy is fortunate and only his upper arm was damaged from the crossbow bolt. He will recover.

Burton Crakehall now joins his cousin. His grim face is covered by sweat and blood of the Dornishmen he slayed. He is once again holding his sword, the silvered blade is as dirty as its wielder, but it makes it look even more threatening “A leader? When the King is dead and a prince of blood is prisoner?We must attack! Any other decision will be an act of cowardice! Men will start deserting when they will find our their sovereign is dead!”-he scowls, shaking his massive fist. Then he suddenly, for a moment, stops speaking and then continues, in a hoarse voice ” And the leader is not the first thing we should discuss anyway. There are culprits to be punished, People who adviced the King to take part in this parley and who couldnt guarantee his security must pay with their heads!”

Tancred grabs Ethos. “I am not a coward. This is prudence cousin. You don’t rush a battle field the enemy has prepared in advance. We will kill them for this, but not this hour, not this day. Later, when we dictate the terms, and after today’s treachery those terms will be no quarter. But we must leave and leave now unless you want to through your life away instead of using it to kill Dornish later!”

“There is aught else for us to do here,” Almer tells Crispyn. “See to the King if you will. I would be alone for now.” Without waiting for an acknowledgment from his companions, Almer spurs his horse into a canter back toward camp. His squire Rease Trant trails him with the tattered and grimy banner of his house, and there are tears on the boy’s cheeks.

In another part of the camp, the Lord Protector of Highgarden and the Iron Serpent begin to bring some semblance of order. Plainly shocked as he still is, Ardon Tyrell yet keeps his wits about him; the Reachlords are swiftly gathered to him and orders given; men take heart from his steady manner.

And as for Ser Dagur, the look on his face is such that it cuts through even the pall of despair that has descended upon the camp. Wherever he rides, he leaves behind men scrambling to arm and mount themselves.

The effort among the Reachlords and Riverlords, however, seems to be not to break camp but to get themselves in fighting order to face a possible Dornish attack.

“This is insanity!” Ethos snarls back, trying to tear away from Tancred’s grip. “No retaliation?! Now is not the time to weep as children—it is the time to counter-attack! They were beaten! Morale was rock-bottom! I know this for a fact, cousin! They have dealt us a foul blow, but we are stronger!” The man’s words are filled with vengence, his mind stubbornly set.

As men filter back, deep in shock, word filters to the king’s steward, Ser William Waxley, of what’s going on with the Baratheon encampment, ordered by the Stormbreaker to be broken up and ready to move to abandon Godsgrace. Held in place as a dirge-like procession brings the king’s body within the camp, it’s long minutes before Ser William can dash off messages to all the chief captains and commanders, and their leading men, to meet at the king’s pavilion to discuss the disposition of the army in the face of this recent tragedy.

Septons and poor brothers that have followed this army through its long journey come out to take the bodies of the valiant dead, and to pray over them.

Tancred shakes his head. “And now it is not, and they will fight us to the last man, while already near all of our forces are gone, and we have grief in our heart. I want them dead as much s you do, but only when there is a chance for me to kill a lot of them, not die on a crossbow bolt before I reach them. By the Seven, for the last time, give over and help me protect the rear guard as we gather our strength.”

As the king’s body is borne back through the camp, men pause in silent reflection and bow their heads to honor their fallen leader, the bustle of the camp halting for a moment whereever the body passes. There are some gasps of shock as some did not see or hear of the King’s fall see the body. As they approach the Septons, Sorin hands his end of the litter off and halts to watch the body as it is carried away, lifting a hand in salute. As the body is swallowed up by the gathering soldiery, Sorin says quietly to himself, “This changes everything.”

What the King’s return lacks for ceremony it makes up in speed, as he and the dead of the Kingsguard are taken back to camp upon litters. One of the King’s knights carries the Targaryen standard, dipped low in honour of his dead king. As the procession of the dead pass through the camp men weep while others pray. “Clear them away, but gently,” Luthor urges the men of the King’s household as they make their way towards the King’s pavillion only to be directed aside by the Septons and Poor Brothers who take the slain into their care.

By the time Ser Almer reaches the outskirts of the camp, one of Waxley’s messengers is awaiting him. Brushing away questions from men and boys wearing a menagerie of liveries from the Stormlands and the Reach, the Connington knight merely rides in silence through the tents and pavilions. The rage and grief have passed, it seems, replaced by an icy sheen of cold calculation; his mind is racing behind the steely facade. He draws up at the King’s Pavilion, where others are gathering, and dismounts in stony silence.

The Stormland camp continues to break down. The soldiery stacking their weapons and supply in the wains that have brought them this far south. Only a few knights remain divided between Tancred and Ethos.

Those messengers who have been dispatched to the baggage for water and supply give word:

No water or supply is not forthcoming.

Elmer walks slowly at the side of the corpse, his massive shoulders trembling with rage. “Vipers!” he turns to look at the walls of Godsgrace and shakes his head. “The days of Dragons have gone, or that would be only a pile of ashes now.” he drinks again, unable to say anything more, as the great lords around him are equally silent.

The messengers have reached the Reachlords as well. Ardon Tyrell rides to meet the Steward along with the Iron Serpent. Behind them, others continue to task of making the men battle-ready; experienced commanders all, Lord Tarly and Ser Corren Meadows, Balian Blackwood and Lord Bracken. Treachery and betrayal may have stolen the heart from the army, but these are not men to go down without a fight.

“A black day, coz. The blackest of days,” Ardon says as he dismounts near Almer, mouth set in a grim line. As for Dagur Saltcliffe, he asks a single question as he hands his reins over: “Ser Almer. How did he die?”

Ethos glares at Tancred, funneling all of his anger upon his cousin. He grits his teeth, shaking his head. “Fuck you!” He curses, throwing the words with the strength he might have thrown a rock intended to split the Baratheon’s skull. “You’re all cowards! This is no way to honor our king!”

Mertyns looks back across the sands, first at the Dornish army, then back towards the Westeros. “The gods damn you all for this.” He growls, then sheathes his sword and turns his horse about in the direction of the army that’s breaking camp.

Runners return to Ser William, reporting on the responses from the various knights and lords—Ser Sarmion still overseeing the breaking down of his camp, Ser Meros overseeing the baggage and something’s going on there—and the steward looks as angry and weary as anyone else. There’s men wailing in terror, here and there in the camp, and all’s confusion. Lord Swann and Lord Dondarrion both have arrived, and Ser Almer, and others besides.

Stepping from the king’s pavilion, Ser William indicates to Ser Blayne Condon to gather up the knights of the king’s household and that of the Hand. While he does so, he turns to the captains. “My lords,” the steward says, “the king is dead. We must determine what to do in counsel together.”

“Badly, Ardon, and in a way unworthy of his life.” Almer pulls a waterskin from his saddle, pours into a cupped palm, and douses his gritty face with it. “I only saw from a distance,” he tells Ardon, “but it was unmistakably Rhodry.” He replaces the skin and glances at Dagur.

Elmer looks at Ethos and shakes his head. “Poor fellow’s lost his mind.” He puts his heavy gauntleted hand on his cousin’s shoulder. “A heavy loss, coz.” he looks up towards Godsgrace again. “Two if we count the Dragonknight. I do hope he’s alive though.” He steps forward towards the tent. “Yes, where is Ser Mathin?” he asks, firghtened that his Lord’s son has disappeared too.

“Make ready for battle, Ser William.”

The Iron Serpent’s voice cuts through the babble as the Steward’s question instantly sets all the gathered captains to speaking: “There is a Dornish army waiting to see what we do right now. They will not wait long.”

Ardon Tyrell opens his mouth—whether to reply to Almer or add to what his good-brother has said—but then pauses, swinging around as a messenger returns, then another, with quiet words for the Steward.

“What is this about the Stormbreaker breaking camp, ser?” he demands. “And Ser Meros and the supplies?”

Ser Blayne finds Ser Luthor with the body of the King, kneeling in silent prayer. It takes a moment for the Rivers knight to respond to Waxley’s summons, but eventually he rises, laying a hand on the hand of his king first and whispering a quiet farewell before he follows the Northman and the rest of the knights of the Hand and the King to the pavillion where the Steward awaits.

“I am off “-Burton suddenly says curtly-“Standing here wont do much good “. He looks at the arguing cousins and laughs behind his visor ” That just how it starts. Quarrels and scrimmages. Power struggles. And other crap. The war is lost, Sers. Pack you bags”. With those words he smirks, salutes mockingly to the three other knights and spurs his mount into gallop.

“I do not know. I have sent to Ser Sarmion, but he proceeds on this course. There’ll be a reckoning in time,” says Ser William, and other lords start speaking up, putting in their opinion. “As to your uncle, ser, I would ask you what you think of it. The gods know, it makes no sense to me.” As men start growing louder, Waxley raises his voice and says, “I hold charge of the king’s household, sers, and with it, the command of this army! If you will not help me lead it to victory or safety, then do not hinder us, at the least.”

And then he turns to Ser Luthor and says, “Bring some of the knights, Rivers.” Why he trusts the bastard knight for this is unclear—perhaps he’s simply nearest—“and any man you trust.” And then to Dagur and Ardon he says, “Come with me. We must look to Ser Meros.”

Ser Sorin heads back over to rally his company up. They will assemble and wait to hear the conclusion of the discussion that the King’s Steward is calling for.

Elmer ‘s jaw drops as he sees Burton make away. “I wouldn’t have thought I’d see the day a Crakehall would do that!” he mutters in his beard then moves towards the Stewart, while sending a squire to keep the Westermen captains in place. “Bows and spears ready. We’re still the army of the Seven Kingdoms, not some rabble.”

Reports are coming back—there are no supplies. “No supplies?” the commanders demand, “What of the baggage defended by Ser Meros?” The captains and generals, Lords and all, are told, “He says he cannot give them.”

Slowly, word of this spreads through the Army, reaching the ears of those who lead it. They approach the baggage and find it well arrayed for hard defense from all directons. The wains are circled and double lined, there are men with polearms and crossbows manned at every joint. This is a well considered fastness.

Ardon Tyrell seems ready to demand more answers, but instead falls in beside the Steward talking to him in a low, urgent tone. Behind them, the Iron Serpent begins to follow—then turns, of all men, to the knight the whole army likely knows is his chief rival.

“Best keep your hand on your sword. This is going to the hells, and fast. What—”

And then he pauses as Meros’ messenger arrives; there is consternation at what he has to say and the Steward, Ardon and the others push through towards the baggage at a near run.

“As I was saying,” Dagur says to the Connington knight, jaw tightening. Then he too is off towards the baggage.

Watching the situation with the baggage with interest, Ser Sorin holds his small companion near the King’s pavilion, waiting as the situation develops, a single brow raised.

Luthor bows his head at Ser William’s command, his former dislike of the Steward forgotten in this dire moment. He nods to Blayne Condon to follow him, as well as several others of the King’s and Hand’s knights. Togeather they make their way through the crowd of noblemen in the wake of Ser William and out into the brightness of the Dornish sun and mount their horses. Spotting the knight who had carried the King’s litter along with some other knights Ser Luthor calls out. “Ser, come with us.”

As Ardon and Dagur depart, Almer folds his arms and stares coolly at Ser William Waxley. He seems unsurprised, somehow, at word of Mad Meros’ act. “Ser William. Have you any orders for the outriders? My men and I stand ready.”

Ethos makes his back towards the camp, finished arguing with the Baratheon, it seems. His face is still creased with anger and he glares accusingly at anyone trying to break camp, cursing at them as cowards, unloyal, and entirely unknightly insults. He doesn’t remain long enough to pick a fight, however, and spurs his horse onward, his attention drawn by the situation with the supplies. At least someone has some sense around here.

Some captains have arrived to investigate the state of their supplies. They find Meros Tyrell standing at what would be the gate of the baggage camp, were it not closed fast with circled wains.

“So you have come,” the errudite Meros pronounces, “The King is dead—so much for his failed adventure to these benighted shores—we must now choose who shall lead us forward.”

He smiles. His neatly trimmed beard splits into a knowing smile, “This, of course, must be me, my friends. I know best how to lead us from this blighted land to safety. Name me your Captain and you shall find yourself safely back beyonds the sands of Dorne within a fortnight!”

Kicking his horse into a trot, the hedge knight moves forward to join Luthor and Waxley’s contingent. The rest of his company follows at a distance. Ser Sorin narrows his eyes as Mad Meros calls out his statement to the other knights and lords, considering the situation.

Spotting Ser Burton riding through the camp as the Steward’s party rides past Luthor calls out. “Ser Burton, we have need of you and your men at the baggage camp.” Then slows his horse for Burton and his men to join the column.

“What’s the meaning of this?” says Ser William, as he appears with the men he’s gathered. “Ser Meros, this is no time for your antics. Those are the king’s wagons, and the king’s supplies! And though his grace is dead, his army remains. Give them up, ser, and join us in council where I will determine our course!”

“No!” Ser Meros says with a smile, “You join me in council once you have bent your knee to mee as your sworn captain!”

Crossing his arms before his chest, the Tyrell knight says, “You have no choice, ser. I am in command of this army, now, whether you like it or not. It is no time for false honors.”

Smiling, he adds, “Mine is the only honor that remains. Chose, or perish, ser!”

“Yes! As he says! We remain, regroup, and retaliate!” Ethos calls in support of Ser William. Or, so it seems to be because the knight isn’t being particularly identifying in his proclamation. “The king lies dead and we are not cowards that abandon his cause before his blood has cooled!”

Mad Meros’ pronouncement—and the sight of the armed baggage camp—takes the lords and captains with William Waxley completely unawares. There are startled oaths, giving way to angry calls for the Tyrell knight to end this foolishness even as the Steward replies to him.

But the Iron Serpent does not linger for any of it. A swift look to take in the situation, a quiet word to Ardon, and he is mounted and riding away through the camp at a near-gallop.

The Lord-Protector steps forward beside the Steward, then; despite the obvious strain on his face, his manner remains steady: “This is not the time, ser! A Dornish army waits not a league away. Listen to the Steward. Join us and we will all hear your counsel. You hold this command in trust from the King!”

Cursing up a storm, Tancred stays with Ethos. He is family, he will not leave the man to die.

Rage wells up in Luthor as he hears Meros’ glib words about the King’s death, he kicks his horse forward to join Ser William. “Your orders ser?” he asks the steward, glancing in Meros’ direction. It’s clear he’d like nothing more than to open the madman’s throat but a thin strand of discipline holds him back from simply charging forward come what may.

Burton Crakehall is silent and grim, and his gaze-blank and senseless. His silk cloak now is torn and the famous tusked helm is fractured by an mace thrust. As Luthor offers him to join some kind of enterprise-Burton doesnt quite understand what is is and why his men are needed, he smiles and nods in agreement. Then suddenly his face becomes a grimace of rage; he turns to Meros and roars “Who the hell you are? Have we chosen you as our commander? No! Do you want to be beheaded as a traitor? Trying to usurp the power…”

“Join me, little nephew!” Mad Meros says, a glint in his eyes as he speaks, “You are not your brother who can presume to command me. Yes, the King bestowed this honor on me.”

He waves his arms at the well ordered defense and pronounces, “This is how I choose to honor our King. Not one of you has the wit to save this army, now that all is lost… save me.”

Looking at Burton with a cold expression, he says, “You are close to riot with your rabble, my lords. Am I to doom us all by giving forth our only source of life to this man?”

For his part, Almer Connington stands apart from the others in detached silence. It would seem the situation is deteriorating, and he watches with a faint sadness in his hard eyes. “Tell the men to be ready to ride; rations and water as well,” Almer tells Crispyn. “I don’t like the look of this.” The hedge knight nods and begins marshalling those who follow the griffin banner with quiet efficiency.

Raising his voice, Sorin finally speaks up, “Curious that Meros and his men were so prepared to do this. Perhaps he knew of the King’s demise beforehand?” The hedge knight then returns to silence.

Elmer shakes his head at Sorin’s words. “No, he’s just mad.” he sighs heavily as he watches the other lords, then raises his voice to boom loudly. “My Lords. Rhodry Martell is laughing his heart out! He killed uor King and atken the bravest of our knights and here we bicker like dogs. My lord Steward, what do you order?’

“This is the biggest fucki-... This is what they want! You’re all fools!” Ethos yells in anger, echoing Elmer’s words. “They have slain one man and our entire defense falls to pieces.” He turns, looking around, noticing his cousin again. There’s an accusing glare, as if this is all Tancred’s fault somehow for not listening to him earlier. Then Sorin’s words catch his ear and Mertyns looks at the hedge knight, then at Meros.

To the king’s knights, Ser Luthor among them, Ser William raises a hand. “Hold, sers,” he grates, face flushed with anger. The king hardly an hour dead, and _this_ squabbling… Luthor and William are not the only angry knights in the camp, indeed. When Burton puts forward his outburst, Ser William seems to agree with the content of his message, but perhaps not the violence of it. And that hedge knight’s remark ... it draws a long, considering look.

Yet when he speaks, it’s a courtier who speaks. “We must stay together, my lords, and not argue with one another,” Ser William says, trying to keep his voice calm, drawing on years of experience with dissimulation. “Here is what I propose: we mourn King Daeron, and honor his memory by keeping together. Let us meet at first light tomorrow, in the spirit of fellowship, and resolve together the army’s purpose after this.”

He’ll be lucky if half the army is here by morning,” Crispyn mutters to Almer as he mounts up. Connington ignores him, hooking a thumb into his sword belt. He begins ambling away toward his tents, lost in thought.

“Oh, I wouldnt have been suprised, if it was so,” Burton remarks, as Sorin makes his suggestionHe makes a sign to his men ( five initial guardsmen plus a small group of shocked soldiers that joined him in the camp). They lower their lances and Burton touches the hilt of his sword. “It would have been a shame”-he says slowly-“If the Tyrell family lost another member lately” As Ser William speaks up, he shrugs ” Ser William, you cant parley with this man. He has already done and said things that make him guilty of high treason. “

Luthor nods. “As you say ser,” he says and waves for his men to put away their swords before leaning over towards the Steward to whisper something to him.

“Will we shed the blood of our own,” says Ser William to Burton Crakehall, “when the king and his brave knights are only lately dead? My lord of Crakehall, it serves no good purpose, save that of the Dornish.”

Several of Sorin’s men move to draw swords at the Crakehall’s words, but he stays them with a hand. “You will await your orders and we shall see how this plays out,” he says, keeping at least his small group in line, though many others share the mixed reactions.

“I will, if the death of one more men will get us back on our true purpose here!” Ethos snarls, looking at Ser William. “This is madness. Everything is falling apart and the Dornish are slipping away.”

Elmer throws a dirty look ar Meros. “Some people!” he growls, the takes his wineskin and empties it on the ground. “To our Young Dragon.” taking a torch from a man, he then lights up the brandy, the flames jumping up merrily.

The steward has little sympathy for Ser Ethos, it seems. He looks at the man coldly, and says to him, “You are overwrought, _ser_. If you cannot control yourself, then go to your pavilion and leave wiser heads to deal with these great matters.” Then, as Ser Luthor whispers to him, William shakes his head at the man and instead says out loud, “So do I command: return to your places, my lords and goodmen, and mourn our gracious king, gone to his death through the treachery of lesser men. Let us _not_ follow in their footsteps.” A stern eye turns among the crowd, and then he says to Ser Luthor and Ser Sorin, “Come with me,” before he leaves a last few commands with some of the king’s household.

Ser Luthor nods grimly and waits for Ser William to finish passing out his commands to the King’s household before following him away.

Wheeling his replacement horse with a bit of difficulty, Sorin kicks it to trot after the Steward as requested. The remainder of Sorin’s company follows at a distance, mumbling to each other as they try to discern what exactly is going on.

Burton hides his sword, and removes his helm, with a sigh. His face is flushed and sweaty. The heir to Crakehall looks at Meros “I will leave now… honoring Ser Williams words… But when we are back to our realm, I will inform the King about your malicious acts. You are a traitor, ser. And must be beheaded ” With those words, he kicks his destrier into motion “Lets go, coz.”

“I’m not overwrought! You all shame our fallen king!” Ethos counters, anger in his words. “Waiting till morning is folly.” And the Stormlord presses his horse to follow after William. Obviously he won’t be swayed so easily.

Elmer looks at Burton and shakes his head at Ethos’ words. Together, they move away among the tents.

As the coterie of knights follows after Ser William, riding back with him to the king’s pavilion, and the argument with Ser Ethos continues. Fo whatever reason, Waxley seems less than receptive. “Have done, ser!” Ser Williams tells the man, trying to keep his voice low and not often managing, not with this owl-knight needling him with his demands. “You presume far more than any man who was in his right mind would presume. What would you have us do? Throw ourselves after the Dornishmen? Let them choose the battle ground, when we are so distraught?” To Luthor and Ser Sorin, he turns, and says, “What say you, sers?”

The comment strikes a chord with Sorin, who wheels his horse to block Ethos’ pursuit of William. “As if you have not shamed us on the battlefield with your dishonorable treatment of the enemy during this entire engagement? We need to set a better example for the Dornish if we are to lead them. Let this rest as Ser Waxley commanded. We can decide on our course of action when the King is properly mourned.” The hedge knight glares at Ethos with his grey eyes, shaking his head.

Luthor’s voice is quiet and hollow even with his visor raised. “You’ve done correctly ser. We have the advantage of numbers and so long as we keep this army togeather and dug in, there is little the Dornish can do to dislodge us,” he glances back to where Ser Meros holds the baggage. “So long as we are still supplied.”

Ethos is suddenly blocked by Sorin, but he’s not giving in. “And if the Dornish are preparing to swoop in and finish the task while we sit in mourning? There is -no- limit to their treachery!” He turns his gaze on Sorin, “Do not judge me, I do what -must- be done when everyone else doesn’t have the stomach for it!”

Luthor’s words weigh on Ser William, certainly, and he casts a glance back over his shoulder to where that knave, Mad Meros, holds the baggage. But then there’s Ethos’s outburst, and the courtier seems to have enough. “What must be done, ser? Is that what you told the Bastard of Mistwood?” he asks him, in icy tones.

“On the contrary, we sit in unity and preparation. We can honor the Young Dragon’s memory by agreeing to stop bickering and decide on our course of action tomorrow, when we have had time to think things through properly. In the meantime, we should prepare to defend this camp,” says the hedge knight, who does not push the other issue. Ser Sorin does however, remain ahorse before Ethos, continuing to block the path to Waxley.

Ethos looks stunned for a moment, Luthor’s sharp accusation stealing some of his thunder. “What must be -done- is what I have been saying. We rally, we unite, we strike back! My uncle was cut down by those merciless dogs. He wanted vengence and I was happy to help.”

“And so disobeyed your king’s wishes, skulking from his camp to do mischief, ignoring all discipline,” says the king’s steward, “when he had raised you up to high estate. What a fine and gallant knight you are, _ser_!” The sarcasm is plain in Ser William’s voice. The steward turns his gaze to Sorin of Sevenstreams and says to him, “My thanks, ser, for remembering your duty and serving the better good of this camp. And you as well, Ser Luthor. Would that there were more of you in this camp, men who did what was proper.”

Elmer moves through the tents and reaches the Lannister’s tent. “Mathin’s not here, my lords.” he says, his dark eyes troubled, as he walks quickly, making his way through the mill of soldiers, but at the same time sending orders, and the Westermen are still disciplined.

Remaining in place as though a pillar of frustration, Sorin turns and simply nods in reply to the Steward before returning his steel grey gaze upon Ethos. The hedge knight has drawn silent now, letting Ser Waxley’s words sink in on their own.

“Who are you looking for, sers?” says Lord Banefort, the knight known as Sunbane, who went to the council and then withdrew, keeping his silence rather than weighing in on the arguments. He looks to the Crakehall cousins wonderingly.

“There are many such men ser, but they mourn, and it compels them to foolishness,” Luthor replies pointedly not looking at Lord Ethos as he does so. “In the morning when their grief is not so fresh, their sense will return. In the meantime ser, we should see to our main problem.”

“I guess we will have to look for him among the fallen ” -Burton mutters. He blinks and pats his cousin’s back with his broad palm. There is awkwardness in his voice now ” We will find him, coz. If he was killed… Well, he was a brave knight and died like his father’s son”. Then he orders his men to follow him, and gives some instructions to Tymon ” We will divide in two groups and start searching in two different places…”

Ethos smirks, shaking his head. “Make your accusations. Some causes are worthy. Some causes are what needs to be done.” He grinds his teeth, frustration building again. “Our king lies dead and you all wish to grieve!” He throws the words at them, then turns his horse sharply about and urges it away, off through the camp to likely cause more trouble, or run out of steam.

Elmer looks at Banefort and smiles. “Ser Mathin Lannister. Have you seen him?” Concern shows on his face, and he refuses Burton’s wineskin. “Not now coz. There’s enough to mourn today I don’t want to have even more cause for it.” He then nods at Burton’s suggestion. “I’ll go to the battlefield, to seek among the corpses.”

“I saw him,” says Lord Qunetyn, looking grim. “Distraught, he was, after our king’s death, and the Dragonknight’s capture. I tried to speak to him…” The famous lord shakes his head then, and pauses. Then he says quietly, “He is not on the battlefield, sers. He has joined the septons in tending the bodies of the king and the fallen Kingsguard, whom he knew well. I think he means to hold vigil for them.” And then Sunbane adds, thoughtfully, “Mayhaps I’ll join him. They deserve that honor. With so many in terror at what will come, we can’t forget such simple graces.”

“A dangerous man,” Ser William mutters after the retreating Ethos. Yet he doesn’t explain further, his meaning now or his meaning before when he mentioned Ser Jarmyn Storm. Instead, he resumes his ride to the king’s pavilion with Ser Luthor and Ser Sorin in his company. “On the morning, we must pray Ser Meros has seen the light of reason ... and Ser Sarmion, as well, impetuous though he is. It is disaster if this army breaks into pieces.”

“A fool,” Ser Luthor counters in regards to Lord Ethos. “As to the army, we should send word to the captains immediately letting them know that it is you, not Meros who is in charge of this army, and that they are to hold in defensive positions until they are given orders to the contrary they must know who leads. As to Meros and the Stormbreaker, I think you yourself should speak with Ser Sarmion. Meros though, I still believe what I suggested by the wagons may still be nessisary, and I have the men to do it.”

Nodding in agreement, Sorin of Sevenstreams wheels his horse back to follow Ser Waxley and the rest of the contingent. “Agreed, we must unite this army in purpose to keep it together and strong, regardless of our future disposition in this campaign.” After saying this, he draws silent, frowning to himself as he rides along.

“You are right, my Lord. It is the least we can do for the King and the knights who died for him,” Burton looks relieved. He bows to Lord Banefort with gratitude, before turning to Elmer “You see, coz, he is alive! I didnt know him, but, from what I head now, he seems to be loyal and valiant… more than many Lannisters can brag about… We could join him there, if you like…” Having said that, he once more looks at the Lord Banefort. “What do you think about the whole situation, my lord? Mad Meros’s behaviour is outrageous-and he got away with that! The army will be torn into pieces. Who will lead us now?”

Elmer nods. “Yes, let us pray.” He says with a sigh, and leads towards the sept. Who would have thought to hear such words from Elmer? He looks bakc towards Meros. “Idiots, the lot of them. And we among them. We shouldn’t have left the king to go into the viper’s mouth like that.”

Ser William gives Luthor an appraising look, but stays silent until at the king’s pavilion they dismount together and enter into its enclosure. “I do not think Mad Meros will believe such a ruse,” he tells Ser Luthor then. “But it was well-thought, ser. Perhaps we may find some other use for it.” It seems that in this crisis, his estimation of Ser Luthor has risen considerably, given that he invites him and then the hedge knight Ser Sorin to sit.

“It’s an ugly business,” Lord Quentyn agrees, looking grim. Sunbane moves to travel with the Crakehalls to where the septons have the bodies in state, and as they walk through the camp, and fear and tension is palpable. The heat of the sun merely makes men all the more anxious, and now Godsgrace looms like a titan, the holes in the walls like mouths, laughing. “I’ll never follow Meros Tyrell. There’s something wrong in that man’s head,” the Lord of Banefort offers. “But Waxley…” He seems uncomfortable with that.

“Maybe Stormbreaker. A hard man to like, but he’s fought the Dornish longer than most have, on the Marches. He may win a way through. What was it he said? Drive for the Tor? A hard march, through the desert, the Dornish behind and before ... but if Oakenfist heeds a raven, there’d be ships there for us, to see us safe.”

Ser Luthor bows his head slightly at the Steward’s words. “Very well, then at the very least we should post men to watch the baggage camp and ensure that any further treasons Ser Meros may have planned come to nothing,” he says and takes the offered seat.

Dismounting and removing his helm inside the tent, Ser Sorin takes the seat that is offered to him and states, “It will be important also to keep the ranking knights and lords on our side, perhaps forming a council with them to lead this host. We cannot afford to the host to break apart in this place.” It is a suggestion, and Sorin lets it sit out there for a moment, drawing silent.

“You give wise advice,” Ser William says, to the both—is there a note of surprise in it? “Ser Luthor, after we are done speaking, see to posting those men. Have Ser Blayne choose him—a stout man, he’ll not fail us.” But then the political question follows, and he grows more uncomfortable with matters. “That Stormbreaker already made preparation to leave .... And I have been told Ser Almer Connington thinks to do the same. Perhaps others. It’s just as well that Tyrell has seized the baggage, for without it few could hope to survive the journey, whether to the Tor or back to Yronwood—which, I may say, I think our best choice. But matters cannot stand like this much longer. If Ser Meros does not bend ... we shall have to force this matter.”

“William Waxley would have been a weak commander. He is a courtier, and it is a soldier we need,” Burton Crakehall looks at Lord Quentyn with sympathy. His men follow him, chattering quietly. One of them is praying, his eyes half-closed. Tymon the Brigand is walking near his master, his lance ready for any .... unpleasant occasion. Burton takes a gulp from his wide wineskin, before continuing “And I know just the perfect method that would have cured Meros from his madness once and for ... And I would never support Ardon Tyrell - this House has already brought us more trouble in Dorne that any other…. Stormbreaker would be fine - an able commander and a man of iron will… I could call Dagur Saltcliffe a worthy candidate as well…”

Elmer turns on his heels. “You’d give command of this army to an ironborn bastard?” he snaps. “he’s a good fighter, and I’d have him at my side, but not as a commander. He shakes his head. “but you’re right about the Tyrells.”

Nodding Ser Luthor replies. “Then it must be us, that is those who wish to keep this army togeather, who takes the baggage from Ser Meros if it comes to that. If Ser Sarmion gains it first, then the army is good as shattered.”

“Aye, Mad Meros must be dealt with quickly, before the situation leaves us in a dangerous spot,” replies Sorin. “The Dornish vipers will expect us to retreat in the direction we came. Perhaps we can do something more unpredictable, keeping them on their toes if retreat is indeed what the council decides. They know this land well and can harry this army incessantly in a retreat. As for Meros, perhaps we can give him something to do to keep him occupied, though his suggestion as Commander of this host is probably not the wisest choice,” says the hedge knight with a faint grin.

“As to the route of our retreat, if we are to retreat, then I would have us go to Yronwood,” he says after a moment’s thought. “While it may be predictable, it does have the advantage of the Scourge being on our flank for most of the way.”

The steward, frowning in thought, considers what both men say to him in the king’s pavilion. “Yes,” Ser William remarks, and seems troubled. “It all hinges on the baggage, in truth…” A long silence, and then he asks, “If negotiations with Ser Meros fail tomorrow, will you be ready to take up arms in the cause of preserving the army, sers? I fear it may come to it.”

“The Iron Serpent’s a good enough fighting man,” Lord Quentyn says grudgingly, “but I do not trust him. His uncle’s the Ironmonger, and he’s preyed on our shores for too long as it is.” He walks with the Crakehalls out of the remains of the westerman encampment, and on towards the place where the bodies are. “I wonder if Jaremy Dustin’s with Stormbreaker? Likely. These Brothers of the Battle take their sworn fellowship seriously,” he says to them, frowning as he sees men seeming lost in shock and terror, or others raging and cursing Godsgrace, the Dornishmen, Dorne, and just about anyone else they can think of. “I’ll hold with you that the Tyrell rose seems ill-fortuned in Dorne. Ser Ardon’s a pleasant man, from all I’ve seen, but I’ll not follow him either.”

“Ser Meros and his men are as dangerous to this army as the Dornishmen right now. I will do whatever needs to be done to bring that threat to an end,” Luthor promises his voice still distant but with a harder edge now.

“Cousin, cousin, cousin…” Burton is amused by Elmer’s outburst, he chuckles merrily. Then his smile dissappears, he seems to be considering something. Now, when his bitter sorrow and anger, followed by a fit ,of fury, have-if not completely ended, certainly became weaker, he is back to his old cold, proud and calculative self “Ser Dagur has certain qualities, that the Stormbreaker lacks. As Lord Banefort has said, Sarmion is a very hard man to deal with - and we don’t need him acting, as if he was our King and ordering us around like slaves, not knights… Though, Dagur is indeed more a figher than a warlord and he is married to this intriguing flower-lady, Reyna Tyrell… I dont want to give this damned family more ... opportunities, even after the war. It is enough that they wont pay for the maychem caused by their members. But we will see…

“As will I,” says Sorin decidedly. “This matter is one that will decide all of our survival or eventual demise of course. My few men and I will give their lives if needed to control that situation. Though I hope that we might convince Meros and his men to our cause.

Elmer nods. “The trouble is, my lords that we were led by a King. What damned luck to lose Prince Aemon too. He would have been the natural leader. We need another great lord, or our host will melt. Do you think the armies of the West, South and East will followed some upjumped knight, no matter how good he is at breaking lance?” He shakes his head. “Waxley at least has the Royal appointment, and Stormbreaker is a Baratheon. Either of them could lead.”

“Good,” says Ser William, pleased by the responses from the knights. “Then I trust, if negotiations break down, you will be with me? I have no concern greater than the safety of this army.”

“Waxley…” Sunbane seems unsure of him. “Mayhaps. If he lets other men advise him when it comes to swords, for I expect the Dornish shall seek to harry us out of this wasteland.” And then, the company is before the tent, and prayers can be heard coming from it again and again. Banefort sobers, and looks sad. “So, sers. Shall we enter, and see if Ser Mathin is there?”

Luthor nods wishing not for the first time he had something to drink. If only Ser Elmer were about. That faint ray of mirth is quickly swallowed by the grey of grief and responsibility once more though as he considers the situation at hand. “Then we are alike in our concerns and I am with you,” he says with certitude.

“Yes. Prince Aemon would have been a natural leader.” Burton Crakehall agrees and makes his pace quicker. He keeps silence and sips wine for a while, speaking up only when they reach the tent and Lord Banefort asks the question “Yes, we should. The boy is probably there. And… King Daeron as well. I cant bear the thought he is dead now… One is clear to mehe time of great men and great deeds has ended. Once and maybe, for all”

“Aye, I will repay my debt to the King for my humble command with continued loyalty to his Steward. This army remaining united is our best chance at survival,” is Sorin’s answer to Waxley, meeting his gaze with his stern grey eyes.

“Very well, sers,” says Ser William to the hedge knight and Ser Luthor. “Go about your business—remember, Ser Luthor, to place men in sight of the baggage to give us warning—and I shall send word to you later. Now, I must find the other lords in the camp, and see if I can convince them to unite rather than fall apart at Ser Meros’s instigation, or Ser Sarmion Baratheon’s.”

With a ndo to the Crakehall men, Lord Banefort enters the pavilion, and indeed, there is the young knight, Mathin Lannister, tears wet on his cheek, and sword grounded before him. He stands in a silent vigil as the septons go about their business, of cleaning blood from the men’s bodies, of finding new raiment, of hiding the worst of their wounds. One man, it seems, even returned to the battlefield, to find the severed hand of the Green Oak, so that it might be sewn back on.

Ser Mathin is not the only knight at vigil, however. There are several others, and more besides on their knees in silent prayer. Lord Banefort draws his sword, and joins Mathin in the vigil.

Luthor rises from his seat and nods towards the Steward. “It will be done,” he confirms regarding the men watching the baggage. “I’ll see to the K.. .,” he pauses. “The Household knights as well and ensure none of them have ideas about going to Sarmion or Meros.”

With that said and the Steward’s permission to depart given Luthor turns and exits the King’s Pavillion and finding Ser Blayne near by issues the orders about the baggage before he is accosted by a Poor Brother. “Ser, are you the son of Beslon Smallwood?” he asks.

Luthor nods for Blayne to see to choosing the men who are to watch the baggage before turning back to the Poor Brother. “I don’t have time for a sermon about his wickedness.. .”

The Poor Brother shakes his head. “It’s not him. It’s your cousin, Lord Hugo.” The two men talk for a moment before Luthor shakes his head and quietly walks away to see his duty done.