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Thread: The Red King (A King of Rivers and Hills AAR)

  1. #1
    Solid Snake's Avatar Vicarius
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    Default The Red King (A King of Rivers and Hills AAR)

    Chapter I
    The Betrayal
    “My lords! My lords!” Lord Bolton roared from his High Chair, trying in vain to contain the roars raging across his Hall. He turned to his Captain of the Keep and gave him a curt nod. His men began to spread amongst the crowd, spears and daggers at the ready.

    “They will never listen father.” His son Vayon said to his right “This is too much.”
    “The Stark has overreached himself.” The Huntsman said, a bastard born brother of the current Lord of the Dreadfort. “He is mad if he thinks the North will stand for this…abomination.”
    Lord Bolton nodded, as he kept a small smile to himself, he knew that the Huntsman was about to say “bastard”, yet being a bastard himself, he felt the need to deliver another kind of insult. The great Hall of the Dreadfort was a dreary place, high ceiled and with long, high windows, there was always some kind of current flowing through, cold, more times than not, it was hard to keep the cold winds at bay despite the many torches that hung about the pillars that crossed the Hall. The dais and the High Seat of the Boltons was quite warm most of the times due to the roaring hearth behind it, in the shape of a human head, flayed, it´s mouth open in a cry of pain, the flames rolling between it´s jaws. The Chair of Flesh of the Boltons was as ancient as the North itself, it´s base made of stone yet it´s resting arms, back and seat were covered in Gods know-how many layers of flayed human flesh, tanned by the cold and the centuries, it did little to keep Lord Bolton at peace.

    As Domeric saw the crowd gathered beneath him, looking for his counsel, ancient houses such as his own, yet smaller in power and pride, it was only natural that they had come under his banner in this time of turmoil, the Boltons being the only Northern House to have defied Winterfell with success in the past, burning it`s Old Keep once even and taking the skins of many Stark princes of times long past. The Lords of Ram´s Gate, Wolf´s Den, the Weeping Water, the Ashwoods of Hornwood, the Flints, even some Umbers from Last Hearth had come to the Dreadfort when the madness of Winterfell was known in the North.

    The raven from Winterfell had come a fortnight ago. “Dark wings, dark words” His son had said when he brought the parchment to him. Lord Bolton could not believe his eyes when he read the message from old King Stark.

    More than two hundred years had past since the last Red King had knelt before the Iron and Bronze Crown of Winterfell, but this abomination would not stand. The Old Winter King had decided to bestow his Crown upon the only son of his remaining daughter, bypassing numerous uncles and cousings; a strong lad with a warrior´s reputation making his name known in the lands north of the Wall, taking the fight to the wildlings and protecting the Stoney Shore against the raids of the Ironborn, a worthy heir by all means, that was not the issue; upon one of his northern forays the Young Wolf, Beron, brought back a worthy hostage, the so called King-Beyond the Wall Bael the Climber, who had raided south of the Wall for the past generation more than a dozen times, the North rejoiced at the news, at first. Lord Bolton´s daughter, betrothed to brave Beron had sent word by rider when the broken King was brought before the Stark in Winterfell, a Swift execution was expected. But to everyone’s surprise, Beron´s mother, the Blue Flower of Winterfell, last living daughter of Old King Stark had let out a cry of joy and anguish and had stepped down from the dais, embraced the chained man before them, before the gaze of all the North and proclaimed her love to him. Bael the Climber, King-beyond-the Wall, was Beron´s father, born out of wedlock after one of his many raids, a fact that the Old Stark had kept to himself when his daughter had went before him with the news that she was with child, a hastily assembled wedding with one of the Dustins from Barrowtown (the husband being none the wiser) and the Stark had the heir he had so long desired for. As Lyra Bolton described it, the Hall went up in an uproar, Lord Dustin called for his axe before being detained by the Winter Guard, who he was aiming to kill we will never know, Beron´s face turned to a deathly pallor, the Stark King sagged and aged, even more, visibly under his Crown, some Greystark and Umbers who were present drew knives to slay the wildling but King Stark managed to lift his voice to have them detained.

    A scandal to be sure, Lord Bolton cancelled the engagement and took his daughter home, even though Lyra had been fond of the lad and Beron had tried to appease him, to no avail, yet that was not the end of the madness. Old King Stark had reinstated Beron Stark as his heir and would pass the Crown to him after his death. This news had sent the North into a frenzy and now Lord Bolton had a dozen small lords at his Hall bickering and spitting at one another. Lord Bolton gave a signal to the Huntsman. Ramsay Snow roared to the Hall.

    “Quiet! The lot of you!” The guards had stepped in, taking charge of the rowdiest characters, breaking a few hands and ankles on the process

    A Norrey from the mountains had begun a quarrel with another Dustin from Barrowtown.
    “This is treason!” The Norrey yelled as he took down his opponent. “The wolves will come down upon us when they hear of this.”

    “My lord and kin is a prisoner.” The Dustin said as he got back up, blood on his lips. “Cheated on by his wife and betrayed by the King!” He spat blood as he said this.
    “We will be ruled by a wildling! A savage!” An Umber cried, drunk as a keg. The fate of Bael the Climber was unknown as of yet. His cry was echoed by others.
    “He is of Stark blood!” a Flint said, the Huntsman pointed to him as well, the guards took note. “King Eric´s blood, the Starks prevail.”
    “A bastard is not a Stark!” Someone else said.

    “Traitors!” Another finger pointed.

    “The Starks are the traitors!”
    “The Old Wolf shall feast upon you!” claimed the Norrey as he drew Steel.
    Lord Bolton gave a small wave of his hand, the Huntsman yelled “Order! We shall have order!”

    The guards moved around and where there was a hand and steel before, there was a bloody stump now as the Norrey was taken by the Red Guard. In mere moments the rest of the quarrelers, those who had sided with the Starks, were being detained or outright gutted in the great Hall of the Dreadfort. Such sight was not an unfamiliar one if the tales of his family were to be believed, Lord Domeric pondered as he looked across his Hall, seeing with his mind´s eye, the Weeping Water below his walls, the forests where he had hunted with his brothers, and were his ancestors had brought many prisoners to sacrifice since centuries past. He envisioned the lands of his presumed allies, Barrowtown, Flint´s finger, Ram´s Gate, Widow´s Watch and last but not least the Greystarks of Wolf´s Den. Lord Domeric´s mother was a Greystark by birth and Torrhen Greystark his good uncle had been one of the firsts to call upon his Hall. He would not be the first Bolton to defy Winterfell, a feud hailing since the Age of Heroes, he would be the first to defy them since his forefathers had knelt as the Dreadfort burned. His life, his children´s life and the life´s of how many people scattered across his lands would be at stake. Yet the same could be said of old King Edric, he must have known that naming Beron as heir would bring blood to the land, disputes to his claim. At any rate he was surprised that the Starks still held sway amongst so many of the rest of the Northern Houses. Beron Stark was a formidable warrior to be sure but Domeric was sure that the Northmen, proud as they were, would be resentful of being ruled by a bastard, and even worse, a widling. As the noise died down, Domeric Bolton stood up.

    “All of you know me as a true son of Rodderick Bolton and Lyanna Greystark! Lord of the Dreadfort!” Domeric said. “I have been loyal to the Starks, we all have been!” he said, stretching his arms. “My own daughter was betrothed to the Starks, my son was cupbearer to King Edric, we have all been loyal.”

    He drew steel, the ancient blade of his House, steel so dark it looked almost black, red pommel, the Flesh Eater.
    “But I shall not be ruled by a bastard!” Cries of approval rose from below the dais. “My daughter shall not be mother to wildlings and savages! And my folk will not bend the knee to a false King!” More men drew their swords as they cheered.
    “I do lay claim to the crown of my forefathers!” He cried as he thrust his sword to the ceiling. “The Red King shall be born again! I will rid the north of this betrayal! This abomination!”

    “Domeric! King Domeric!” Torrhen Greystark said as he went to one knee.

    “The Red Iron crown shall be remade!” Domeric roared, more lords took to their knees. “The North shall be cleansed!
    “King in the North!” A Dustin said, beating his chest.
    “King in the North!” Vayon laid his sword at his Father`s feet.
    “King in the North! King in the North! King in the North!”

    P.S. I introduce to you my newest attempt at an AAR, using the King of Rivers and Hills mod/sub mod of Westeros Total War, using Hard/Hard settings. I tend to be plot and story heavy, but do expect battles. I´m a great fan of a Song of Ice and Fire and the new series has rekindled my long lost hobbby of writing. Those who may know me may recall I´m a doctor, now a Surgeon, so schedules and regular updates may not be a thing with this AAR. But I do feel passionate and I enyojed writing this chapter. Hope you enjoy.

    P.S.S. Some may argue at some timeline and name changings, the mod is supposed to take place around the time of the wars of the Vale and Winterfell (there´s Osgood Arryn leading the Arryn faction) and the tale of Bael the Bard apparently is from after the Conquest. You may take this AAR as a retelling of stories hundreds of years old, or you may take it as an Alternate Timeline. In any case, hope you like it.

    Do check my AAR "The Proud Blood of Germania"
    Formerly known as JerichoOnlyFan.
    And my other AAR: "The Black Serpent"

  2. #2
    Solid Snake's Avatar Vicarius
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    Default Re: The Red King (A King of Rivers and Hills AAR)

    Chapter II
    The Red Crown

    Not long after Lord Domeric laid his claim to the Kingship of the North, ravens flew, declaring his intent, calling upon all true Northmen to join against the wildling usurper. There was silence from Winterfell to be sure, the fealty of the Glovers and the Tallharts to their liege lord was beyond dispute, but it was worth trying; there were no maesters or keeps in the Mountains, but the answer from the Big Wull and the Norreys was clear: the heads of the envoys were sent back to the Dreadfort in buckets.
    The Umbers that had decided to declare for Domeric left the following day, in attempt to rally their people to the Boltons, but the current Lord Umber was a staunch Stark loyalist and personal friend of King Edric, so they knew that they well be marching home to a traitor´s noose.

    The next days were hectic, as the Huntsman looked for any potential Stark loyalists still inside Bolton lands. The smiths of the Dreadfort were hard at work at the anvil, forging new armor and sharpening blades, the Chief Smith bent upon the task of recreating the Red Crown of old, lost to the Starks and melted at their forges. The Boltons restored order to their seat; when Maester Gyldan was found to be sending ravens to Winterfell detailing which Lords have declared for Bolton, Ramsay brought him to his brother for punishment.
    “Perhaps your successor will find his parchments most interesting.” Domeric said as he produced one of his daggers, even sharper than his sword. “Although I have heard human skin is most brittle to write upon.” He declared as he flayed the skin of his right hand.

    The tale spread, but the punishment for crossing the Boltons was well known in these parts. Torrhen Greystark saw the flaying unfold, not flinching, he knew the stakes, should the Boltons lose, his entire family would be put to the sword, he was determined to not let a wildling rule over him and his own, it had been 10 years past when his own daughter was taken by raiders from Hardhome, the patrol at Eastwatch insufficient to keep the northern bay safe, and yet to become traitor to his past kin still left a sour taste in his mouth. There was no turning around now, he would stand with his new King or die beside him.

    Seven days after the Lord´s gathering, Domeric Bolton was crowned by his good uncle under the eyes of the heartwood tree, stained with the blood of the Norrey that had dared defy him that day, his skin perched over one of it´s branches. Torrhen Greystark brought him the crown and with one last look between them proclaimed him:
    “By the laws of the Old Gods and the laws of the North” he proclaimed to the lords and folk gathered in the godswood. “We do declare the Starks as false Kings! Oathbreakers and consorts with savages! We do lay claim to Kingship in the North! The North shall be cleansed by our new King!” The smallfolk cheered before him. “I bid you stand, King Domeric, the King in the North!”
    “King in the North! King in the North!” cried the smallfolk and lords alike.

    Not three days after Domeric´s coronation a rider came from the Rills, bearing news of Barrowtown and Winterfell.
    “What is your name?” Torrhen asked as the young man took a knee before King Domeric.
    “Hal Forrester” he said. “My Lor..I mean, my King, I´m in service to lord Ryswell.”
    “Rise.” Said the King. “What can you tell us?”
    “The Stark King is dead, Beron took the crown ten days ago.” Hal began his tale. “Some say the bastard killed the King, others that he died on his bed, whatever the truth he now bears the crown of Winter.”
    “Expected.” The King said.
    “What of the other northern Houses? Cerwyn, Glover, have they accepted the savage as their King?” Vayon, now a Prince asked.
    “They have, but out of fear I reckon, King Beron has…”
    “Mind your tongue.” Ramsay barked. “You stand before the true King.”
    Domeric shot his brother a quick glare, that was enough to quiet the large man.
    “As long as both of us lives I reckon there are two Kings in the North, I do hope I can change that soon.” The King said, in a smooth tone. “Continue.”
    “Your Grace.” Hal nodded. “The Starks have put Barrowtown to the torch.”
    Young Ralf Dustin, brother to Lord Dustin, gasped in the back. It was his brother who had been detained at Winterfell, and who had been married to the Blue Flower of Winterfell. There had been no news from him since.
    “I do fear that Lord Dustin is dead my lord.” Hal said addressing Ralf. “Lord Ryswell sent his allegiance as you well know, and began to rally his cavalry to him, but the Wildling stole upon us, brought his force to Barrowtown with lord Dustin´s head on a spike before him. We tried to relieve them, fought him as best we could, but the town was already lost when we got there, we saw it as it burned, my lord of Ryswell is fighting rear guard actions trying to reach Moat Cailin.”
    “I will try to reach him and join forces.” Said Torrhen. “But we must consider the Rills lost as well Your Grace.”
    Domeric grimaced. He had been counting with the support of House Dustin, now it seemed that the only Dustin left was in his Hall, pissing his pants.
    “Justice shall be done for your family.” The King promised Ralf. “I intend to restore your seat to you.” Ralf Dustin left the Hall, the Huntsman made to follow but the King stopped him with a quick move of his hand.
    “What else can you tell us?” he spoke to the messenger.
    “My Lord also bids me to tell you that there have been reports of longships, Ironborn all over the Stoney Shore, if the tales can be believed they may attempt for Deepwood Motte.”
    “A shallow chance, but if they do manage to keep the Glovers busy we can gain more time to prepare our forces.” Prince Vayon said.
    “There is little time as it is boy.” Ramsay said. “Beron returned with an army from beyond the wall, battle hardened and supplied. We are struggling to gather our strength.”
    “Anything else?” The King asked. “What of the crannogmen?”
    “They still remain to be found my King.” Hal answered. “We sent a few riders to the Neck but no one has found Greywater´s Watch, as far as we know they remain neutral.”
    “A shame.” The King said, sighing. “We could use them in the war to come, as we stand however the South is of no consequence.” He rose from the Chair of Flesh. “We will do all we can to help lord Ryswell. I want no more delays; I intend to march in three days’ time. I suggest you all keep your blades sharp.” The King retired, Torrhen close at his side.

    “What of you Uncle?” The King said. “Any late misgivings?”
    Greystark couldn´t fail to notice that the King always kept one of his hands upon a blade´s hilt, he was expecting betrayal at any turn.
    “This has not been easy.” Torrhen answered. “I had to put half my garrison in the dungeons after they attempted to seize my Keep, a few of my cousins tried to make away with some galleys up the White Knife.”
    “They still live?” Domeric said as they kept going through the Dreadfort´s hallways. “Or have you taken them to the Gods?”
    “My son has seen to them.” Torrhen said, with a frown. “The godswood has been well fed I´m told. The Gods are sated.”
    Domeric nodded, pleased. “I do count you as my greatest supporter, you have the biggest castle save for the Dreadfort this side of the White Knife, and even a greater host than mine when you assemble all your force I´m told.” The King stopped before his own chambers. “This Crown would not have been possible without you, Uncle.”
    Torrhen Greystark wondered if his King was complimenting him or putting the traitor´s shame on his hands as well. He had crowned the King before him, east of the White Knife no other Lord commanded as much men as he did, nor had more gold and silver on his vaults, for a second he wondered if Beron Stark would welcome him back if he presented Domeric´s head to him. When he raised his eyes, he found Domeric´s iced-blue eyes boring into him. He sighed. His fate was in the hands of the Gods now, and in the hands of his new young King before him. And the Bolton´s were not to be crossed.

    “Your Grace, the North shall realize the Stark´s folly.” Torrhen said bowing. “I´m honoured to be at your side.”
    “For a second there I wondered my Lord.” King Domeric said, smiling. “By the way, I was meaning to ask you, my Lyra has been deprived of her Winter´s Court as she calls it, I´m sure her heart will be relieved if she has companions of her age in this dreary Hall of mine.”
    Torrhen Greystark knew already what the King was to ask of him.
    “I´m sure my younger sons will be a fine company to her, as well as my eldest living daughter, with your Grace´s permission.”
    “I do hope they´re happy here my Lord, I fear I might miss them as I march west, but it will lift a stone from my heart to know that my daughter is content.” The King said as he entered his chambers.
    The Greystark knew what had just happened, his brow furrowed as he turned back, it was a common custom and yet, there it was, the tingling at the base of the neck as if he could feel the blade, hanging above all of their heads.
    Do check my AAR "The Proud Blood of Germania"
    Formerly known as JerichoOnlyFan.
    And my other AAR: "The Black Serpent"

  3. #3
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: The Red King (A King of Rivers and Hills AAR)

    Welcome back to the Writers' Study! That's shocking news about Beron, and it sounds like Domeric is a skilled orator - I wonder if he is an equally skilled warrior and commander.

    Reading your opening chapter, I guessed that this was an alternate timeline- and I like the idea of that (your other possible explanation works too).

  4. #4
    Solid Snake's Avatar Vicarius
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    Default Re: The Red King (A King of Rivers and Hills AAR)

    Chapter III

    The Morning´s Snow

    The autumn in the North was a fickle mistress, one day could be pleasant with mild winds and warm afternoons, the other sudden gusts of wind could knock down a barn and morning´s snows were not an uncommon sight, still these were soft kisses compared to the sharp blows of winter. This new day came with a cool sun, hidden behind clouds of snow, there was already a thin layer covering the Dreadfort´s yard where the vanguard of King Bolton´s host was gathering. Outside the walls the tents of the King´s army sprawled all around them, right up to the banks of the Weeping Water, a wooden palisade surrounding it at the King´s insistence. The King was adamant in leading an organized and disciplined host, and the drill sergeants were hard at work with the new recruits and putting the hosts of lesser lords into place, the recruits were training spear and sword play, a large contingent from the Hornwood were training their marksmanship, making bets on whom could fire the farthest. The Northmen were natural fighters with the axe, many of them working as woodsmen in times of peace, but being able to maintain a battle line, and being able to resist with your fellow soldiers with spear and shield against a charge won more battles than mere numbers and ferocity. Yet the greatest asset of King Domeric´s army also came from his Uncle, Torrhen Greystark had marched North from the Den with a thousand riders behind him, heavy armoured and skilled with lance and sword, they were only second in skill to the horsemen from the Rills, in the battles to come they may prove to be the decisive factor. The Flints of Widow´s Watch were to march at a later time, their numbers would be put to the task of pacifying the Umbers and the Mountain Clans.

    The main host would march to Winterfell to oust the Starks from their ancestral seat and to bring justice to Beron Halfstark as some were calling him, they were preparing for a long siege, but pitched battle was not out of the question. The King was aiming to provoke the Young Wolf into battle in a ground favourable to the Boltons. Domeric was holding his last War Council before his march.

    “Absolutely not.” The King declared from the Chair of Flesh. “I will not change my mind on this.”
    Prince Vayon was seated across his father in the dais, clearly angered.
    “Let me ride with you to Winterfell father, I promise to not let you down.” The Prince said. “I will not shame myself in battle.”
    “You haven’t as of yet.” The King interrupted him. “You have made good account of yourself in the raids I have sent you. But I will not allow you to march to war just now.”
    The King took a sip from a cup of wine.
    “You must guard the Dreadfort for me, not to mention your sister and the people behind it´s walls.” The King declared.
    “Ramsay can stay in the Dreadfort!” The Prince retorted. “My duty is at your side.”
    The Huntsman gave out a chuckle, amused.
    “Your duty is where I tell you it is.” The King said. “Your Uncle will come with me. If you refuse me still I can tie you to this very chair.” The King looked straight at his son until the young Prince looked down. “The Prince has exhausted himself.” The King said to no one in particular. “To his chambers.” One of the guards stepped forward to collect the Prince. Vayon snarled and pushed himself off the table.

    “I apologise my lords.” The King said after his son left. “Where were we?”
    “So Ramsay will lead the van?” Torrhen asked from his seat at the King´s right.
    “Yes, I will lead the center of the main column, I do hope your eldest son to lead your cavalry and the rear.” Domeric said leaning to him.
    Torrhen looked surprised for just a second. “I was expecting to have that honour my King. I´m sure my son will be pleased at such high position.”
    “Good.” The King nodded. “You can tell him after we finish here.”
    “What would you have me do?” Greystark asked.
    “You must go back to the Den, raise your host, use your galleys to cross the White Knife.” The King answered. “I would have you make west, try to join your force to Lord Ryswell and reclaim Barrowtown.”
    “It will be done your Grace.” Torrhen said, bowing.
    “That brings us to the next step.” The King said turning to young Ralf Dustin, even younger than his own son. “As I said I intend to restore you to your seat my Lord, you must march swiftly with fast riders and faster horses. Join with Lord Ryswell if you can find him. There you are to harry whatever garrison Beron has left in Barrowtown, make raids, cut his supplies but avoid pitched battle until my Lord of Greystark arrives. Is that clear?”
    “Yes, my King.” Young Dustin stammered. “Thank you, my King” he said as he took his leave.

    “Now, we all know that no matter if the Umbers declare for us, if the Glovers defy us, we all know that this will be settled before the walls of Winterfell, either Beron dies, or I die.” The King declared as he took to pace along the dais. “Should I fall, then my son shall become King but more than likely those who survive will betray our cause and serve my son to Beron Stark in a plate, but if we triumph…” He let his words linger. “Ramsay, as we set forth you shall set aflame the lands under the Long Lake, try to provoke the Wolf out of his Keep. You shall bring him to the place we have discussed. Either way we shall march upon Winterfell, and I do not intend to wait for a long siege. If it comes to that we shall take the castle by storm; when the Tallharts and Glovers and Wulls and the rest come, I want Beron´s skin around my shoulders” He stopped and turned to face his Lords. “Then they shall kneel, or I will destroy them.”
    Do check my AAR "The Proud Blood of Germania"
    Formerly known as JerichoOnlyFan.
    And my other AAR: "The Black Serpent"

  5. #5
    Solid Snake's Avatar Vicarius
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    Chapter IV

    The Grey Wolf

    The long, swift march South back to the Wolf´s Den had made Lord Greystark uneasy, his eldest son (by his first wife), who had rode with him to the Dreadfort had left with the King, taking command of his cavalry. By raven he had sent word before him, summoning his youngest sons and eldest daughter to the Dreadfort to become Lady Lyra´s companions…no that was not right, Princess, the young girl was a Princess now, and he had found their retinue on the road. At a clearing beside the White Knife they shared a small meal.
    “Rodrik! Theon!” he said as he embraced his youngest sons, twelve and thirteen years of age, his eldest daughter Maryah was stepping down from her carriage, seventeen years of age and still unwed, on these times of war, marriages could be as dangerous as battles; he knew that many small lords would be seeking for their hands. “Maryah, my love, you grow prettier by the day. How is your mother?” He asked as their serfs were installing a small pavillion and chairs so the small family could have some intimacy.
    “Worried as usual.” Answered Lady Maryah. “She tries to keep her composure before the merchants and the people, but she cries each night, she almost didnt let Rodrik go.”
    Torrhen nodded. “You look very handsome the both of you.” He said appraising his sons. “And riding horses now! I´m sure the Princess will be very fond of you.”
    “Ethan says you are to go to war Father.” Theon said. “Can´t we go with you?”
    Lord Greystark laughed. “You are far too young my children.” He said as rabbit´s stew was being served to them. “Your task is different, you must protect your sister and make new friends with lady Lyra and her mother, our Queen.”
    “Yes, I´m sure we will have many a pleasant night by the fire.” Maryah said dreamily. “As we warm each other under cloaks made of flesh, as we drink blood wine, it shall be so...-“
    “Enough.” Her father interrupted her, yet with a small smile across his lips as his children chortled with laughter. “Princess Lyra is a very beautiful young woman and the Boltons are not half as terrible as the tales say.”
    “I´m quite sure a castle named as the Dreadfort is quite cheery Father.” Maryah said to her brother´s amusement. “But don´t worry, we shall behave.”
    “Is it true Father?” Theon asked, wide eyed. “Is the Stark really a wildling? Does he ride a giant Wolf?”
    Lord Greystark turned to his daughter, Maryah covered his mouth delicately, hiding her mirth.
    “Half-wildling to be sure.” Torrhen answered. “But there are no giant wolfs south of the Wall, give no credence to such rumours.”
    “Does this mean that cousin Brandon is a traitor as well?” Maryah asked. “Such a pity, I was really fond of him.”
    “That is for the King to decide.” Her father answered. “If he bends the knee I´m sure our King will welcome him back.” The thought of Brandon Stark had almost abandoned his mind since he rode to the Dreadfort, Brandon was Beron´s son from a marriage to a Glover woman from Deepwood Motte, and until recently a close friend of his daughter, they had exchanged letters, spent time together both at Winterfell and at the Wolf´s Den, a bethrothal was all but declared…until the Old King had plunged the North into madness.
    Now the lives of all the Starks of Winterfell were in the balance, more than likely they would all be put to the sword, if King Domeric seized Winterfell he would suffer no further claims to his Kingship. If , such a big word.
    “My brother will be the lord of Winterfell.” Theon said excitedly. “He wrote to me saying that the King will give him Winterfell when thay take it.” He said, stabbing the air with his knife, spraying rabbit´s stew all over them.
    It was far more likely that the King would raise his son to Lordship of the conquered castle, Domeric had said as much when they had broached the subject in a private meeting; the Greystarks being distant relatives to the Starks of Winterfell and himself being the Red King´s greatest ally ; it would seem natural that they would hold the ancient seat after the war ended, but Domeric had remained vague in the issue.
    “There are many battles left, before we come to that.” Torrhen said reassuringly. “But I´m certain that the King shall reward us greatly when we win.”
    “If we win.” Her daughter said as he helped her back to her carriage. Her brothers were already astride their horses, eager to get going. “Do you truly think we can win father?” Her daughter said, her facade broke for a few seconds, her eyes glistened before she composed herself.
    Torrhen Greystark was at a loss for words, her daughter seldom had outbursts such as this. “There is much that relies on luck.” He said caressing her hair. “We have more men and heavy horse, and many lords have declared for us, King Domeric is a proven battle commander and a cunning warrior.” He sighed. “Yet Winterfell has been the bane of many armies across the centuries and Beron is no slouch either, he will go down fighting.”
    “And yet only the Boltons have managed to take Winterfell before.” Maryah said, half laughing, half despairing. “Please stay safe Father.” She said, suddenly embracing him.
    “I will come for you after we take Winterfell.” He said, letting go. “Keep your brothers safe.”
    Torrhen Greystark turned before his daughter saw the tears falling from his eyes.
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  6. #6
    Solid Snake's Avatar Vicarius
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    Default Re: The Red King (A King of Rivers and Hills AAR)

    Chapter V

    The Barrow and the Horse

    Ralf Dustin had made good time as he headed west with his guard, fifty of his retainers had come with him from Barrowtown to seek the allegiance of King Domeric, the news of the fall of his House and the death of his older brother sat heavy within his heart. They had crossed the White Knife with ease, bypassing the Stark patrols under the command of one of the Tallharts down from Torrhen´s Square. Stopping only to eat cold salted beef and travelling mostly by night, young Dustin traversed across the mostly empty expanse of land north of Moat Cailin, keeping well away from the main roads, until at last after seven days he reached the lands of his forefathers, dotted with the barrows of the First men.

    “We should start seeing some sign from the Ryswells.” He said to his men, most of them older than him. “Be wary, the enemy may be behind the next barrow and we wouldn´t know it.”
    “There has been fighting here to be sure.” One of his sergeants said, pointing to many plumes of smoke criscrossing the horizon. “We best keep together.”
    Ralf nodded, keeping his sword loose in its scabbard. “It does look like rain.” He said as the first drops fell upon his hood. “There´s a mill beyond this field, we can take refuge there. The Barrows will not forget their Lords.”
    “Let´s hope there´s a mill and not wolves.” One of his men said, as they picked up the pace once again.
    A quick ride and the Barrow men came in sight of the mill, it was not burnt, but there were banners set around it, and before Ralf could make sense of the pattern in the freezing rain a crossbow bolt fell in front of him, quivering, a deep horn came from the mill.
    “Swords!” Young Lord Dustin cried. “At them! Charge!” He said spurring his horse.
    “My lord! Wait!” His sergeant said, taking his reins. Some few more bolts came down around them, the horses neighed under the steel rain. “Look!”
    A column of riders had come around the mill and the banner before them was clear now a black stallion with a fiery mane.
    “Stand down!” Ralf yelled. “We come from the Dreadfort! We stand with King Domeric!” He said, sheathing his sword as the riders surrounded his company.
    “And who might you be boy?” The man leading the Ryswell riders asked, taking his helm off his head.
    “I´m Ralf Dustin of Barrowtown, brother to the late Artos Dustin.” He answered, lowering his hood and stepping forward with his horse.
    “That´s the one that the Halfling put at the point of his spear?” The Ryswell asked, spitting at the ground before him. “There are Dustins on the Starks side you know? Cousins or some other ilk.”
    “We come from the Dreadfort.” Dustin´s sergeant stepped forward. “My Lord here stood beside King Domeric as the Red Crown was set upon his head, we even saw your man Hal Forrester.”
    The rider before them nodded, making a gesture to his men to lower their arms.
    “Young Hal came blazing through this way not two days past I think.” He turned to make way for the Barrowtown men. “Come my Lord, will send you on your way to Lord Ryswell.”

    “What news from Barrowtown?” Ralf asked as he dismounted for a quick meal with his men.
    “Some Dustin, I dont presume to know which one holds the Keep.” The Ryswell outrider, named Jon, answered. “But the sight of lord Artos´ head and the sacking of the town has made the town unruly, they say that there as many barrows inside the town as they are outside it´s walls.” Jon laughed as lord Dustin took some ale and a bowl of broth.
    “There´s a Stark in there as well, one of the Bastard´s uncles.” Jon continued. “Old, but still strong, he has been leading the forays into the Barrows and the Rills.” The men behind them were exchanging tales as well. “Lord Marq hasn´t given them a full night´s sleep since, we have split our force into many groups, and have hit them from all sides.” Jon made a small circle on the dirt beneath them and put many crosses all around it. “They may hold Barrowtown but we took many mills such as this and many small holds and keeps are under our control. Lord Ryswell´s sons take a bite out of the supplies that the Starks send to them as the town itself lost its granaries.”
    Lord Dustin smiled. “King Domeric feared that the Rills would be lost as well when we got here.”

    “If Beron had continued his march and cared to pacify the Barrows he just might have.” Jon said. “On the field we could bleed him and harry him from a hundred different points, but my Lord doesnt have enough men to face the full might of Winterfell.” He pointed to a few crosses to the south and very close to Barrowtown. “His retreat back north was necessary I agree, but a blunder, his forces do not know the land and they are paying for it in blood, day by day; Lord Ryswell should be on one of these outposts. I will lend you guides to aid your company, I´m certain that you two, high lords will have plenty to talk about.”

    They found Marq Ryswell on the second outpost that Jon had pointed out, a small collection of houses set around a massive heart tree, it´s bloody face with what looked like a laughing smirk. The ground beneath it looked bloody as well.
    “You can almost hear the old bastard laughing.” Marq Ryswell said as he welcomed Ralf Dustin. “The Starks had put sentries on this village, we have given them to the tree. So, you are the new Lord Dustin?” he said with a smirk. Marq Ryswell was a tall, lean man, on his mid-thirties, a fiery red mane on his head, just like the horse´s head on his armour.
    Ralf Dustin took a seat besides Lord Ryswell, beneath the heart tree´s canopy of red leaves, taking a sip of ale from the mug one of his men had brought him.
    “I am, brother to Artos. Your messenger said that there was nothing to be done when you arrived?” Ralf asked.
    “Damn shame.” Marq answered. “I managed to gather 500 riders as I set out to Barrowtown, but Beron had already breached the walls when we got there.” He said, explaining as he took a bite from a mutton´s leg. Blood and broth falling from his lips. “The keep still flew the Dustin´s crown so I decided to take the Starks in their rear, breach the town, relief the keep.”
    “The first part went well, I cut through his outriders and their rear guard as I thundered across the plain.” Marq continued. “The wall had been brought down in five or more places, so we could storm the town with ease.” He spat at the dirt; one small bone fell to the ground.
    “What happened then?” Ralf asked. The men around him, also intent on the tale, while some others watered the horses.
    “The Halfblood had already took note of us and he gathered his spears at the plaza.” Marq explained. “The rest of my army had not yet arrived, we were only cavalry remember.” He made hammering and stabbing motions with his arms. “I charged his shield wall near a dozen times, but the rest of his forces that we had left on the plains had reorganized, threatened to trap us inside the town. I managed to steal a glimpse of him, that´s when I saw old Artos´ head, on his black spear, knew the man well, sorry for your loss kid.” He took one large gulp of wine from his cup. “Barely managed to charge out of the town in time.”
    “I expected more Stark outriders as I crossed the Ash river.” Ralf pondered. “But your men where the first that we came across.”
    Ryswell let out a booming laugh.
    “Ha! Them Starks got buggered after Beron left.” He explained. “Small garrison, a town sacked, unhappy people, those who survived at least.” He threw his arms around him, encompassing the territory. “The Barrows and the Rills are a big place, you know that boy, your small folk took refuge in the plains and in the old holdfasts.” He leaned close to Dustin. “And I have bloodied them every day since, you mark my words. My sons have cut their line of supplies, their patrols have been ambushed and now we have the town surrounded, not even a raven can fly without me knowing; and of course, we have felled every raven they have sent. Ha!”
    “So how many men do we have?” Ralf asked, looking around.
    “Close to two thousand, spread all over.” Marq answered. “And close enough so that I, or the rest can close the distance, fast. As I have closed in on the town, I have been able to strike harder each passing day.”
    “Have any of you seen the town since?” One of Dustin´s men asked.
    “I have accurate reports, my sons are the ones who keep the town´s garrison in check.” Marq said, turning to the man. “It´s already under siege in all but name, the wall has been repaired, but the gate has only a few barricades in it´s place, we strike fast, we strike hard, and the town is ours in half an hour.”
    “My lord Ryswell.” Ralf said, clasping the man´s shoulder. “I could never thank you enough for your efforts, King Domeric wants us to wait for Lord Greystark to arrive with the main force to retake the town. But, with your leave, I think we can take it this very night.”
    Marq Ryswell stood up. “Well spoken lad! Gather your spears and send forth the riders! We do battle tonight!”
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  7. #7
    Solid Snake's Avatar Vicarius
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    Default Re: The Red King (A King of Rivers and Hills AAR)

    Chapter VI
    Barrowtown Reclaimed

    Lord Greystark had crossed the White Knife with all his might barely speaking to his son Ethan and his wife, near four thousand men came with him, and almost three hundred riders. At the bridge, the last one this far north of the Wolf´s Den he left a strong garrison of spears and archers. Soon after he crossed the river he was challenged by Stark patrols.

    Lord Greystark`s scouts had forewarned him, so he set out to meet them in the field. A small patrol, not even five hundred men, but they could have made his crossing very perilous should he have allowed them to hold the bridge across the White Knife.

    It was a small contest, yet Torrhen was adamant in not letting anyone report back to Winterfell.

    “A small bite to be sure.” Torrhen said to his sergeants. “But woe to any that fails in his duty, I want this settled quick.”

    Greystark´s archers have managed to surround the men from Winterfell and began to pepper them from afar. The bow was a cherished tradition in the North, with many of it´s men prowling the northern forests for food and game, Greystark archers made short work of their counterparts.

    The Stark´s shield wall turned to make a ring around their leader, the men from the Den surged forward and matched them spear by spear. Yet the continuing rain from the northern bows was wreaking havoc in the back lines of the Starks.
    And soon, gaps were formed in the shield wall. Torrhen seized the opportunity.
    “Run them down!” He cried. “Charge!”

    The field was his, a small victory, but sweet none the less. After making sure that there were no other enemies around him, he sent his scouts out again. Stealth and swiftness were of the essence, he meant to reach Barrowtown and restore it to their rightful Lords.

    There were a few other skirmishes, very minor and handled by his scouts and vanguard as he continued west. His host found more signs of war as he continued across the Barrows and soon he found one of lord Ryswell patrols, much like young Ralf Dustin had done a few days past.

    “Aye, Lord Dustin came this way, he and his lordship set forth for Barrowtown two nights ago.” Jon said. “There has been no word from them since.”

    Greystark fumed at the news, King Domeric would be wroth if he knew his orders had not been followed. Without wasting more time, he stormed north to reach Barrowtown.

    Great pillars of smoke arose from the town´s walls, the ground trampled under the weight of horse and man, a steady stream of carts pouring across it`s gates. Lord Greystark spied the banner atop the keep, a black horse with a fiery mane; beneath the flayed man of the Boltons.

    A column of riders rode out of the city gates as his host approached.

    “Who might you be?” Torrhen asked. “Rodderick or Edric?” The twin sons of lord Ryswell were undistinguishable from each other.

    “Edric, my lord of Greystark.” The young man with the red hair said as he bowed his head. “My horse´s mane is dyed green, my brother´s golden.” He said as he pointed to his personal arms painted on his shield. “You are most welcome.” He said as he instructed the barricades to be raised to let Torrhen through.

    “What´s the meaning of this?” Torrhen asked. “Why did you not wait? The King sent very clear instructions.”

    “My Lord Father will make sure you have a satisfactory answer to your questions, my Lord.” Edric answered. “You are awaited in the Keep. As you can see the town is ours.”

    “Where is Lord Dustin?” Greystark answered, noting the lack of banners bearing the crown and longaxes of the Barrow Kings of old.

    “My Lord, please.” Edric said, pleading. “My father will receive you. I must keep watch at the walls.”

    Torrhen Greystark spat at the ground, spurring his horse onwards to the Keep. He dismounted at the yard thrusting his reins to a stable boy, the rest of his guard followed him over to the keep´s gates, guarded by men bearing the black finery customary to House Dustin.

    He found Marq Ryswell seated on the High Seat of the Dustins, with his son beside him and a mug of ale on his hand. He stood as Lord Greystark stalked across the Hall.

    “My Lord Torrhen.” He greeted him, bowing his head. “I bid you welcome to Barrowtown. The town is yours.” He said, surrendering the town to his Lord, as was custom in the North.

    “So I see.” Torrhen said, taking a look around, there were Dustin and Ryswell men set on the walls, opposed to each other. “King Domeric ordered you to wait for my arrival. What happened?”

    “We seized the day!” Marq roared, ale splashing out of his mug. “Or the night rather, we stormed the town two nights ago I must admit it was Lord Dustin´s idea.” He said with, looking to his left.

    “Where is Ralf Dustin?” Torrhen asked. “Why is his banner not atop his walls?” He demanded.

    “Damn shame…” Marq murmured. “If you would follow me my Lord.”

    Ralf Dustin´s body was laid upon a stone table, pale and cold, a dark spot upon his left side. A singer from the old Gods was cleansing his wounds.

    “A spear took him as we reached the yard, felled from his horse before I could aid him. He died early on the morning.” Marq explained.

    “Just tell me what happened.” Greystark said as he caressed the boy´s hair. “Barely thirteen years…” He whispered.

    “He reached my camp two days ago, him and his retainers.” Lord Ryswell began. “Let me tell you that the town was ripe for the taking my Lord, Beron left a small garrison, and the smallfolk were with us, my sons had surrounded the town, cut away at their supplies. Lord Ralf arrived at noon I think, and he convinced me to storm the town together. Send my apologies to King Domeric if you must, but we were just wasting time waiting for your Lordship.”

    “When the night fell we had already gathered our force, mostly cavalry, but Dustin´s presence as he rode across the barrows made some of his men come out of hiding.” Marq continued, looking at the boy before him. “We mustered near the gate, we held no torches, so the enemy could not see us as we assembled. His men began creeping towards the gate to clear the barricades, as I sent a hundred men with a ram to batter the walls halfway across town, some of his cavalry sallied forth. And then we lit our arrows.” He said smiling. “Our archers took the sentries on the walls; his men had already cleared the gates and we thundered across town. The garrison was no match for us. Ha! The Starks must have thought that we had twenty times our number as we raced across town, young Dustin acquitted himself well, he cut men left and right, he would have made a good Lord.” He sighed. “After he fell, I regrouped my spears to him, shielded his body, we sent scales upon the battlements, my son leading the charge, then they opened the gates to us, the rest surrendered soon enough.”

    “And the rest of the Dustins?” Torrhen asked.

    “They had thrown their lot in with the Starks.” He spat at the name. “Traitors the lot of them, a couple cousins, some uncles, I threw the girls in the dungeons for the time being, the rest, I took their heads, along with the head of the Stark that led them Beron´s grand uncle I think. Their heads adorn the heart tree.”

    “That´s why your banner flies above the Keep” Torrhen continued, not questioning, piercing the man before him with his eyes, how convenient that the rest of House Dustin had fallen in battle, extinct in the male line.

    “If His Grace decides that Barrowtown must go to one of the girls, I will content myself if my eldest marries her.” Ryswell shrugged. “If you ask me I feel I must enforce my conqueror´s rights, I lay claim to Barrowtown´s lordship.” He said, picking his head up. “With His Grace´s permission of course.”

    “Your prize is not a small one my Lord.” Torrhen said with a smile. “It may be that you get your wish for the time being, after the war is over, we can make other arrengements.”

    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Torrhen march.jpg  
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  8. #8
    Solid Snake's Avatar Vicarius
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    Default Re: The Red King (A King of Rivers and Hills AAR)

    Chapter VI
    The Hunt for the Wolf

    Initial reports stated that after returning from Barrowtown, Beron Halfstark had turned Northeast, the path to the Dreadfort, Ramsay´s scouts however, had found no sign of his army. As King Domeric marched down to Winterfell he kept close to the Wolfswood in an attempt to cover his advance.

    Marching mostly under cover of night the Boltons kept a close ring of scouts around them, taking out patrols before they rode out to alert Winterfell, and keeping a close eye to spot the Stark forces that may be lurking in their path. Now the Red King was only a night´s march away from Winterfell´s walls, only 10 miles away and they had managed to avoid detection so far.

    Domeric and Ramsay were inside a tent with the rest of the army´s captains, awaiting the scouts report on the Winter town and the army that was encamped all around it.
    King Domeric sipped from a cup of wine as he waited, his bastard brother paced the ground before him, impatient as always, Ramsay had been aching to ravage the Stark lands with sword and fire, but Domeric had restrained him; they had set forth to rid the North of the savage that had murdered his elder (or so they said), that had slain Lord Dustin beneath his roof and that had sacked and burned Barrowtown. It would not do to put Beron´s smallfolk to the sword without reason.
    “Finally.” Ramsay grunted, as two hooded figures entered the pavilion and took to their knee before Domeric. “Get up and start talking.” He urged them.
    “Your Grace, my Lord.” The scout said. “We managed to enter Winter´s Town, some of us stayed behind to maintain eyes on the Halfling host.
    “What can you tell us?” The King asked.
    “Beron´s host is great your Grace.” The scout began. “Him and his army was not on the castle, but still some five thousand men are gathered upon it. The Karstarks have come down in force with their lord, the Glovers garrison the walls with their archers, there are Tallharts all over and a great number of the mountain clans have come down as well. The Big Bucked and the Old Flint at the forefront.”
    “I would have expected that given their history with the wildlings they may entertain the notion of declaring for us.” The King said, a frown upon his face.
    “The Cerwyns make the core of their strength, but Winter´s town levies make a good number as well, those are under the command of Beron´s son, Brandon. Karstark keep his own camp as well the mountain clans.”
    “Old man Cassell is still their castellan?” Ramsay asked.
    “Aye my Lord.” The scout answered. “He keeps five hundred men with him, well trained and disciplined, they could be trouble.
    “Have they not reinforced the town?” The King asked. “Stakes? Palisades?”
    The scout smiled as he answered. “No my Lord, they do not believe that you have come so close to them without them knowing. They feel safe. And one more thing, apart from Karstark and his retinue, the enemy has few horses with him.”
    “That´s our entry then.“ The King said, looking up at his brother, who shared a private smile with the King. “Thank you for your report, you shall be rewarded.” He said, standing up, dismissing the scouts.
    “Ramsay, you shall take our cavalry and storm these last fields before Winterfell with sword and flame, but you must make haste and raid Winter Town as best you can, wreak havoc upon them, but specially upon the Clans, they can be more trouble if we let them. Seize their horses, burn their tents.” He laughed. “I trust that you don’t need me to tell you what I expect; this is what you do best brother.”

    Ramsay laughed with him.
    “Take young Greystark here with you.” The King ordered. “I trust you will keep him safe.”
    “Thank you, your Grace.” Ned Greystark nodded at the honour of being part of the attack.
    “The rest of us shall feign a retreat to…” The King continued. “Here.” He said pointing to a clearing by the wolfswood in the map set before them. “Keep them separated if you can. To catch up with us they must cross this ridge…here. Lord Burley, take your archers and pepper them all over their lines, then fall back with us. Lord Flint, you will lead the centre. Let´s hunt some wolves.”

    Later in the night
    Ramsay and his cavalry had took position above Winter´s Town, it was the hour of the owl, and it was a closed night, new moon and the sky was heavy with clouds. The order was given in silence across the ranks. “Light torches.”
    “Move fast, keep loose.” Ramsay said to the men closest to him, Ned amongst them. “Strike hard and keep on the move. We shall sound a horn when it´s time to retreat. Horse´s and tents are the main targets.” He drew his sword, a nasty piece of steel.
    “Skin them all!” He yelled as he set forth with his destrier, with a river of flame behind him.
    Ned Greystark rode with his guards and with some other hundred men from the Wolf´s Den, the Huntsman had given him the Wull´s camp as target. The smaller one but with the fiercest warriors; a small farmstead was already burning to his left; some cries were piercing the night as Ramsay Snow was set loose upon the Starks. He was close to reaching Winter´s Town encampments, the Karstarks had already felt the bite of his steel.
    As he rode, he saw some of his men string their bows with fire arrows, setting them loose upon the Wull´s camp. He spotted some sentries, big men armed with axe and mail. “Charge!” Greystark yelled, as he speared the man in front of him. His riders tore through the camp, torches flew and horses fled. He lit a torch and threw it a the tent beside him, men were dying all around. His horse kicked a brazier, lighting the tents around it ablaze. Warhorns were singing from Winterfell´s walls, but the Glovers were out of reach and unable to distinguish friend from foe.
    A howling cry came from his left as he felt hands fumbling at his leg. He turned and blocked a spear with his shield, he threw his own at a Flint that was coming towards him and drew his sword, he danced around the clansman, blocking his axe with his shield and finally took his head with his sword.
    He advanced with his men looking for new enemies, his riders had already set the clansmen horses loose and many tents were aflame. He stopped as he saw a mounted column descend from the walls of Winterfell. “With me! With me!” He said as he rallied his men around him.
    Across the plain he saw the town´s roofs alight with flame, a new flare lighting up every few seconds, the smallfolk´s cries contributing to the night´s symphony. Small figures and shadows were seen dancing in the flames. The Karstark´s camp was in disarray but some spears could be seen taking their positions in the field. Greystark circled around with his men, riding through Cerwyn´s camp, taking men´s lives at will
    He caught up with some Bolton outriders that were keeping their retreat open. “Where is the Huntsman?” He demanded. “We must start back!”
    “Ramsay is still in Winter´s Town my Lord.” The rider answered as he took aim with his bow. “But I agree that damn horn must sound soon.”
    The Starks were reorganizing from the initial shock, Ned saw some Tallhart archers take aim at his position, and he turned to engage them. As he rode them down, he heard Ramsay´s warhorn, unmistakable in the midst of battle. Sounding from the wolfswood it was calling the attackers back. Greystark rallied his men as he saw Ramsay riding out of the town.

    “Retreat!” He ordered to his men. “Back to camp!”
    Not a moment too soon, for the Karstarks were already well on their way to blocking their retreat with their shield wall. Ned had to break their lines to make way for Ramsay and his men. He felt a sharp sting in his shield arm, an arrow had managed to catch up with him. He grimaced in pain as he kept riding, his men urging him on. Finally some miles to the North East, Ramsay rode up to him.
    “Good fighting kid.” He said, his pink armour with trails of blood all over it. “I reckon that we killed maybe a thousand, lost a few dozens. Tried to kill that brat, Brandon.” He said, spitting at the name.
    “He managed to evade you?” Ned asked, his arm throbbing with pain. “I think I managed to scatter all of the clansmen horses and killed a big man with the Norrey´s badge in it´s chest.”
    “Aye, I saw them bastards running for the walls.” Ramsay said laughing. “Brandon came down from the castle with his guards, I tried to engage him, but time was running short. Anymore and the Kartstarks would have trapped us. Thanks for that by the way.” He said, patting Ned on the back. It was then that he noticed the arrow coming from his shoulder.

    “Get that looked at.” The Huntsman continued. “My gut tells me that the pup will come calling soon.” He turned his horse. “And we shall tear the skin from his bones!” His men roared with him.
    Ned could only nod as he steadied himself on the saddle.
    “I could see the fires from here.” Domeric said as he welcomed them back into camp. “I trust that all is in order?”
    “Aye, we lost few men, they lost a thousand perhaps, maybe more.” Ramsay answered taking his helm off. “Ned here took the clansmen up the arse, never knew what hit them.” Ned stepped in the tent, his shoulder freshly bandaged, but still painful.
    “Your Grace.” Ned said bowing his head before Domeric. “The battle was all we could ask for. A triumph worthy of song.”
    “Is your arm well?” The King asked.
    “Well enough your Grace.” Ned answered making small movements with his arm. “It will not hinder me.”
    “Good, because there are many battles still left to fight.” Domeric said. “Who do you think will march first?” He asked to his brother.
    “The brat.” Ramsay answered at once. “I caught glimpses of him in the town, he was livid. He will not wait.”
    “My thoughts as well.” The King nodded. “Make ready, I do believe this night is not yet over.”

    Ramsay Snow had been correct in his assessment of young Brandon, instead of being bereft of being called a bartard´s son, the young lad had revelled upon the knowledge of his wildling blood. A touch of the Wolf´s Blood some said, a gallon of it was more appropriate, as Winterfell´s master famously said at the time. The burning of the town beneath Winterfell´s walls was insult enough young Brandon said, and he wasted no time in summoning whatever men remained. Hugo Karstark advised for caution and urged the Prince to wait for his father´s return, but to no avail. Brandon called him a craven and set upon him the task of putting down the fires and burying the dead.
    Ramsay scouts kept Domeric well informed of the Prince´s march, and bold Ned harried his rear as he advanced, melting into the night as Brandon turned to give chase. King Domeric gave orders to lit the bonfires that surrounded his camp to give the Starks a clear target, yet his force was already two miles away from that site. When the Starks looked upon the fires they set forth for them at once, right into the path of lord Burley and his archers from Ram´s Gate. Protected by tall ridges the archers took a heavy toll on Brandon´s forces, but still he marched on and as instructed Lord Burley fell back.

    From afar, Domeric saw as Brandon arrived at his abandoned camp, finding it empty. He smiled at the sight. His cavalry amassed in the flanks, his brother beside him and Greystark in the left. Flint leading the infantry, had formed into a half crescent ready to surround the Prince´s host.

    “Time to move out.” The King said. “Send the archers first, and signal the infantry to advance behind them.”

    Back at the camp, the Starks had began to loot the tents set around them, it was then that they heard the Bolton´s call to battle. Brandon Stark barked his orders as he spied the Bolton host marching upon him. He urged his sergeants to form up their troops and sent his own archers to match the enemies´. Arrows began to fly across the field, their flames trailing against the night´s sky.

    Lord Flint had marched in good order and now he had the enemy lines in sight. Drawing his sword, he ordered his men into a charge. “For the King and the North!” He cried as his men clashed with the enemies´ shields.

    As was planned, the Starks had few horses with them, the flanks open to them thus, Domeric and Ramsay took to the right and swung around the encroaching forest to clash with the Stark´s archers.

    With a thunder of hooves and spear and axe and sword, Domeric fell upon the archers driving them from the field, blood dripping from Flesh Eater, the Stark´s flank was lost and the King´s wedge made it´s way to Brandon´s own banner.
    On the centre, the Starks matched the Boltons spear for spear, but none was giving any ground. On the left however the Winter Guard, the very best that Winterfell had to offer was cutting a bloody path through Bolton lines. Thus, Ned Greystark rode forth and surrounding the Guard he set his cavalry loose upon them.

    Seeing the battle escaping his grasp and his flanks collapsing Brandon grabbed his spear and sounded his horn, sending himself into the fray, head on to break Flint´s centre. None could deny Stark´s courage as he charged straight into the shield wall before him, the Wolf´s Blood riding high in his veins.

    Both Ramsay and Greystark seemed to be racing each other in their attempt to break Stark´s battle line, felling their enemies by the score, they began to enclose upon Brandon´s position.

    Flint´s spears nearly broke before Brandon, he urged his men to hold their ground as the destriers and warhorses poured through the gaps that the initial charge had made. “Spears to them lads! Bring them down! Bring them down!”
    Their discipline began to show through and although the line was broken in places, they managed to stem the tide and soon, one by one, the cavalry began to falter beneath the spear´s points. And soon even the Prince of Winter was taken down from his horse, his sword arm red with blood, and pierced side to side by no less than five spears.

    The rest of them soon lost heart, then the King seized the field, setting his riders loose upon the stragglers and remains of Brandon´s army earning a great victory with little cost to his forces.

    As his forces secured their former camp, King Domeric was putting order in his tent.

    “Let none come within sight of Winterfell Ramsay, rein them in.” He ordered. “I will not have my victory undone by some fools drunk with battle lust.”

    Ramsay nodded and set about to gather his wayward men.
    “Your Grace, the field is yours.” Said Lord Flint as he entered and took to his knee.

    “Rise Lord Flint.” The King said. “You have proven yourself worthy of your claims, your spears won us the battle my Lord.”
    “Your Grace.” Flint said rising. “A gift for you.” His men entered the tent dragging a body amongst them. “I fear that I was not able to capture him alive, but his blood is on the spears of my lads.”

    Brandon Stark´s body was brought before the King, Greystark grimaced at the gore of his late cousin, a young lad indeed, barely into adulthood but a fierce warrior by all accounts.
    “Ah.” Domeric sighed, a glint on his eyes. “A fine gift indeed. The Old Gods say that the best gifts come from the ones that, before, were your enemies.” He motioned to one of his serfs. “Do you think Beron shall like the cloak that I make out of his son´s skin?”

    PS. Do feel free to make comments on the story, I enjoy interacting with my readers. It has been a long time since there seemed to be a new AAR popping up every other day. The days of the Ishtar Gate and Severus the God, those were the days, it saddens me a bit to see that the forum seems to be in a state of twilight. But fear not, I intend to keep writing this tale as it unfolds. Cheers!
    Do check my AAR "The Proud Blood of Germania"
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  9. #9
    Solid Snake's Avatar Vicarius
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    Default Re: The Red King (A King of Rivers and Hills AAR)

    Chapter VII

    The Sun in Twilight

    Hugo Karstark had marched to Winterfell with all his might, supporting Beron the Halflig through the early days of his revelation as son of the King-Beyond-the Wall, as half the North turned traitor against their rightful king, the Karstarks had remained loyal to those that shared their same blood, even if there were many in his lands that had suffered at the hands of wildlings before; Hugo had cast his lot with Beron. It had been no surprise that those leading the rebellion were the Bolton´s of the Dreadfort, an ancient enemy of the Starks to be sure, but the betrayal from the Wolf´s Den had shaken the North to it´s core. A cadet branch more ancient and far richer than his own, Greystark´s support for the Boltons had swayed half the North to them. And they had already hit hard at their armies, beneath the very walls of Winterfell! A thousand dead, horses scattered, their forces in disarray and now Brandon was missing.

    The Karstarks had marched two days after Ramsay´s Raid, Hugo believed that Brandon was giving chase to the Huntsman back to the Dreadfort, unaware that King Domeric himself had come to lay waste to Winterfell, and so he followed the very same path that the Prince had trodden upon two days past. He found the first corpses not three miles from Winterfell, Brandon´s scouts riddled with arrows and hung from tree´s branches by the road.

    King Domeric´s own rangers kept close watch upon the Karstarks, the battle ground already chosen. Hugo soon found more signs of the battle from days past, burning tents, burned down mills and farmhouses, heads bereft of their bodies keeping vigilance over the road set upon the spears of the fallen; his anger rising within him he doubled his pace to find his Prince and allies.

    A few hours later as the sun began to set behind him, he found the last grizzly remains of Brandon´s army. Set in a ring´s shape were the shields and armour of the Winter Guard, on their shields, stretched taught across them, a patch of human skin, in the ring´s centre the personal banner of Prince Brandon, a howling direwolf´s head, grey on a field of white. Realizing that Brandon´s fate was already sealed he turned to his sergeants.
    “We must start back.” Hugo said. “Send down the order, retreat back to Winterfell.”
    It was then that the horns sounded, all around them.
    Seeing the challenge set before him he unfurled his banner, the Sun of Winter upon a black field. He had no choice but to give battle and try to break free so Winterfell could be warned.

    “Form a line!” He yelled. “Spears in front, cavalry with me!” His men began mustering behind him as the first arrows felled over his ranks. He would make a fist with his horse and charge through Bolton´s line to the west.

    It so happened that King Domeric had set himself on the path back to Winterfell cutting Karstark´s line of retreat, soon his archers set arrow and flame upon Hugo´s soldiers.

    As the trap closed in all around him Karstark sounded the charge and crashed down upon the Bolton ranks; seeing his rival thunder down towards him, Domeric drew Flesh Eater and charged towards the incoming Karstark host.

    The clash was enormous, Flesh Eater a blur in the King´s hands as he cut down foes left and right, the lines blurred together, and he circled round to avoid the incoming enemy infantry that followed their Lord into the fray. Across the plain he saw Ramsay chasing down the enemy foot soldiers, he looked for Hugo and his banner, not thirty feet away he saw him, making his steel sing against his forces, nearly breaking through his lines.

    Spurring his horse he charged towards him, as the battle unfolded around them, he cut down his banner first, the White Sun falling in the mud, Hugo realized who was behind him, but as he turned to faced Domeric, his chest was pierced front to back with Flesh Eater, a second later he collapsed unto the dirt.

    The battle did not last long, but it was paramount to keep Winterfell in the dark regarding the past battles, so Ramsay and Ned´s hunt of the remaining stragglers continued well into the night.

    Domeric gave chase as well, his sword bright with blood and with a sinister look in the light of the moon. Few could withstand his presence.

    Do check my AAR "The Proud Blood of Germania"
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  10. #10
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: The Red King (A King of Rivers and Hills AAR)

    I'm enjoying your tale - the build up to the battle with the Prince of Winter worked well, and the suspicions and shifting loyalties (such as the Greystarks supporting the Boltons) seem very appropriate for this setting.

    It sounds like King Domeric has planned his move against Winterfell carefully, and that he's gaining a decisive advantage. Even so, if he takes Winterfell, I wonder how many soldiers he will have lost by then, and whether he'll be able to hold it against any vengeful Stark supporters or other rivals.
    Last edited by Alwyn; November 26, 2022 at 03:24 AM.

  11. #11
    Solid Snake's Avatar Vicarius
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    Default Re: The Red King (A King of Rivers and Hills AAR)

    Chapter VIII

    The Wolf´s Blood

    After he routed Karstark´s army King Domeric marched upon the ancient seat of the Starks, he unfurled his banners in front of the double walls of Winterfell and made his camp in front of it´s main Gate, Winter´s Town populace had departed it in favour of the walls´ security. As he approached Winterfell the King had sent out riders and ravens back to the Dreadfort and to Greystark´s host, hoping that he had already reached Barrowtown. Beron´s army still eluded him, but the most recent reports placed him south, midway between Barrowtown and Winterfell.
    The King decided not to enclose the castle at once, he believed that Beron would come to him and wanted to keep his forces together, yet he sent Ramsay to keep a strong watch upon the Hunter´s Gate, the northernmost gate and the closest to the Wolfswood, it also had the particularity that it was the only gate that bypassed both walls and the moat between them and led right next to the back of the Old Keep. If any forces were to make a sally it would come from there.
    “Any word from your outriders, brother?” The King asked.
    “Beron remains nowhere to be found.” Ramsay said with a snarl. “The path to Torrhen´s Square remains clear as well.”
    Domeric nodded. “Any word from your father, boy?” He asked to Ned.
    Ned turned his head side to side. “No, your Grace. No word from Barrowtown either.” He reported.
    “We must keep vigilant. Keep a close watch in our camp, and I want hourly reports from our scouts.” The King said. “This war will come to a head right here, and I will not allow myself to be surprised.
    Three days passed.
    The dawn surprised the King with the sound of horns blaring from the castle. The army was quickly assembled but no attack came. Near three hours after donning his armour and taking his horse he saw a lone scout, riding hard from the southern road.
    Domeric narrowed his eyes, he managed to spot an arrow protruding from the man´s leg.
    “Be ready to move out, send word to Ramsay.” He told his sergeants. “It seems that Beron´s vanguard has stolen upon us.” He turned to Ned Greystark. “You will be tasked to delay them, whichever way you can, don´t compromise yourself, take fifty riders.”
    The army, with surprising discipline began to march north, to a point that the Huntsman had scouted a couple days before, but much depended on the following fact, if Greystark would be able to contain Beron long enough for the Bolton army to take the position it desired.
    The scout reached the King´s company, the man, with death´s pallor hung around him, his horse frothing at the buck.
    “My King, it´s the bastard.” He reported, near collapsing. “Close to two thousand with him, and another eight hundred with Tallhart, they managed to evade us, and Beron´s outriders killed the rest of my company.” The man gave out a heavy sigh as he tried to regain his strength. “We are sorry.”
    The King nodded as the rest of the army marched out and Greystark ordered his riders around.
    “Any heavy cavalry with him?” He asked.
    “Few horses my King.” The man answered. “Heavy infantry and archers, but apart from Beron´s own, few horses, no more than a hundred.”
    “Change your horse with one of these and follow the rest.” The King commanded. “With luck you will get treated before battle is joined.” He rallied his men to follow him.

    Ned had managed to hear most of the scout´s report, he knew it would cost him dearly, but he was willing to fulfil his oath to King and land. He chose fifty horse archers, expert riders with swift horses, he hoped that they would be able to keep clear from the Halfling´s cavalry as they stalled his army with arrows and swift charges.
    The garrison from Winterfell began to march out, just as Beron´s banners came into view, Ned drew his horse and gave a prayer to the gods. And ordered his men to ride out. Into fate and into battle.
    Three hours later.
    Domeric had managed to reach the field he wished, his army was ready for battle, if already tired after three hours of forced march, and now he waited for the bastard´s army. He did not have to wait long.
    His battle lines were arrayed before him, his archers beside him, readying their arrows. Lord Flint could be seen marching along his spearmen, inspecting their formation. A wide clear was to the south of them, where Beron was coming from. A heavy forest to his right.
    When he spotted Beron´s army, the horns of his army greeted the enemy with defiance. After two crushing victories the men were ready for the challenge and confident on their bold new King, even if outnumbered they knew he would lead them to another victory.
    “Mark and hear my words!” Domeric said as he rode along his lines. “The Starks have betrayed the North! And have betrayed all of us as well!” The men cheered him as he rode near them, clashing their shields with sword and spear. “And Beron, the Halfstark, has shamed us all! We fight for justice! We fight for the North! When they come, skin them all!”
    The army roared with him.
    “Our Blood! Our Blood!” The ancient battle cry of House Bolton poured across the field.

    Beron´s army had been tested in battle beyond the Wall, breaking the power of Bael in the Fist of the First Men, and had proven their mettle in Barrowtown. Their loyalty to Beron was beyond dispute and despite the claims of bastardry that were set against him, in their eyes, he was the Wolf of the North, the Hafling, true grandson of Old King Edric and carrier of his legacy. The core of his army was a hardened centre of heavy infantry of mainly Karstark and Wull descent; they had proven themselves against a wilding host ten times their number at Icemark.

    Beron himself could be marked out from the distance, a glinting armour with hints of silver, the grey direwolf of his House large upon his chest, Ice could be seen protruding from his back, the great two-handed sword of the Starks that had beheaded the last Red King.

    On his right, upon the looming eaves of the Wolfswood, King Domeric had set almost all his cavalry under Ramsay´s command, near invisible to the enemy´s eyes, much depended on their stealth and their timely charge.

    The Starks marched ever closer to Domeric´s main column, but the forces under Tallhart detached themselves to screen the forests to Beron´s left, near a thousand men, they seemed intent on surrounding Domeric´s right from the forestsand collapse his lines. Ramsay sent a runner to his brother to ask for orders, but as he heard the horns and drums giving the order to charge the incoming foes, he knew that he was alone. From afar he saw the main battle lines clash in the clearing, with the Flint´s spears taking point against the Wulls from the mountains. All the while Tallhart´s men kept marching towards his position. Unable to wait any further and not wishing to risk his brother´s flank he drew his sword and signalled his men to follow him.

    “To me! To me!” He cried. “We take them head on! Bring me Tallhart´s head! Run over them!”
    The charge was sounded and pouring from the woods they clashed with Tallhart´s men right at the edge of the trees.

    Caught unawares and heavily overwhelmed, Ramsay´s men cut through them like a scythe upon wheat.

    On the left, Beron had sent whatever few riders he had to storm Domeric´s left flank, seeing the movement the King sent his cavalry reserve to hold the flank, all the while Stark arrows began to fell around him while his own archers, hailing from the Hornswood answered shot by shot.

    On the centre, Flint´s shield wall was under heavy assault by the axemen from the clans, the Wulls chief amongst them, having learned of his brother´s death by Ramsay´s Raid on Winter´s Town, young Theo Wull had almost managed to cleave right through Flint´s battle line.
    On the right the last of Beron´s outriders charged towards what seemed a weakened flank, led by a son from Deepwood Motte, the Stark´s cavalry was close to overwhelm the Bolton lines.

    In that flank however, Domeric had set his own Guard, the Bloody Company, armed with great axes and polearms they were a hard counter to a compromised cavalry charge. Howling for blood they fell upon the Glover´s force.

    Far to the right, beyond the woods, Ramsay had cycled his cavalry many times around Tallhart´s men now, keeping them disorganized and cut off from Beron´s main force, sweeping through them and turning again before they could mount a counterattack.

    However, as he managed to steal a glimpse back towards the centre, he saw the great banner of the Starks bearing down upon the already compromised weaker flank, he saw the Bloody Company already engaged and their flanks exposed, and Beron with Ice on his hands ready to trample them beneath his horse.

    Sounding his horn, he rallied most of his men with him and rode hard to charge Beron from the side. With a thunder of a clash the two companies met, trading steel for steel.

    As Bolton´s spears began to tear through their foes in the left, the right-side spearmen were chewing through Glover´s cavalry, taking horse and men down alike. Overwhelmed and attacked by many spearmen at the same time, they began to fall by the score.

    Beron had managed to punch through Ramsay´s forces and fell like a hammer upon the Bloody Company, already tired. Like a howling wind the Wolf tore a bloody path through Bolton´s men swinging Ice left and right with ease, he fought like a man possessed.

    Realizing that Beron had eluded him and that his horses were starting to be bogged down and taken down by the Tallharts, Ramsay swung his horse around and instead went for Beron´s rear guard, cutting down his archers where he saw them.

    It was not long after that Stark´s men were cut down all around him, but Beron himself remained untouched it seemed as he and horse alike evaded death at every turn, and dealing it with every stroke of his longsword, his armour soon turned as red as the Bolton´s sigil as he felled all soldiers that came his way.

    Ramsay continued to break Beron´s rear and at long last managed to reunite with his brother´s left flank to take the Starks unawares in their backs.

    Despite being originally outnumbered it seemed like King Domeric´s tactics were prevailing at the moment and more than that Ramsay´s charges were instrumental in breaking Stark´s centre, which soon showed signs of collapse as the clansmen were unable to rally again behind their leader.

    Seeing the battle lost, Beron continued to ride forward trying to reach Domeric himself, who had been content to lead from the rear, but as the Boltons continued to surround him, his last retainers urged him to flee and regroup in the Wolfswood or in the Mountains. Naysaying them Beron continued through, looking for his son´s killers, but as he saw Karl Cerwyn´s eye explode under a Bolton arrow he finally let his men take him away from the front, using what remained of Tallhart´s infantry as cover.

    Domeric saw the flight of Beron and with a smile ordered his horse to give chase, drawing Flesh Eater he pursued his enemy across the field.

    Ramsay saw Beron´s retreat as well, and was nearer to the prey, with a roar he set his cavalry to chase the fleeing Stark, cutting down his last guards.

    What remained of Stark´s infantry was being brought down by the arrows from the Hornswood, giving their own infantry a little rest.

    Stark was fuming and raging at his defeat, but survival had kicked on inside him now, and he urged his horse for more speed, but the Huntsman riders were hard on his tail. At the last it was an arrow from Ramsay´s bow that brought down his horse. As the ground raced to meet him, his last thoughts were filled with rage.

    “Alive! I want him alive!” The King was heard shouting from afar. The Boltons were beginning to celebrate, throwing their spears up in victory, as the last remains of Stark´s men were cut down.

    Old Man Cassel had been late in his march, but was still witness to the loss of his King, in shame he retreated back to Winterfell to wait for the Red King to call upon it´s gates.

    Do check my AAR "The Proud Blood of Germania"
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  12. #12
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: The Red King (A King of Rivers and Hills AAR)

    The screenshots and text are well done and they make the battle easy to follow. With their great axes and polearms, the Bloody Company sound like a hard counter to anything except archers - a powerful unit. I like the detail about the history of the two-handed sword.

  13. #13
    Solid Snake's Avatar Vicarius
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    Default Re: The Red King (A King of Rivers and Hills AAR)

    Chapter IX

    The Flayed Man

    The new Bolton camp was in an uproar as night fell upon the battlefield. Ale was freely served and every man had been given double ration after the battle, even the sentries were hard pressed to keep looking out for foes instead of joining the celebration. Hundreds of banners had been put to the flames, amidst the great bonfire at camp´s centre; save for Beron´s own, that one was put as carpet in the King´s tent.

    Ramsay was leading a chained man across camp, his spearmen keeping the crowd at bay, jeering and taunting the fallen foe, howling in mockery. Beron´s face was bruised in his left side, many old scars across his arms and back, and many more bruises on his chest, chained at hand and feet, one end of Ramsay´s rope around his neck, the Halfstark spat blood and defiance at his captors. The men that Ramsay had set around him trying their best to bring him to Domeric´s pavilion in one piece.

    Domeric was seated on his tent, surrounded by his bannermen, the great Stark banner bloodied and mudded at his feet. Servants were passing wine around, the King himself only sipping at his cup, waiting for his prey. Flint was already well on his cups, his head and left eye wrapped in a bandage, but still on his feet. Lord Burley was keeping by the fire and Lord Hornwood was chatting amiably with one of the King´s guards. The noise died down when Ramsay threw Beron to the ground with a yank of the rope in front of all of them.

    The King set his cup aside and stood up, a small smile upon his face. He stepped forward and opened his arms.

    “All hail the King in the North.” He spoke. “Or was it the King Beyond The Wall? I forget which title you claimed.”
    Beron got up, to his knees at least, with a snarl, spitting another mouthful of blood.
    “This is what passes for hospitality in the Dreadfort my Lord?” he asked, in mock courtesy.
    “You are not a guest, no more than I am a Lord.” Domeric answered. “Perhaps I ought to show you the hospitality we deal to wildlings and oath breakers.”
    Lord Flint laughed at that, but Ramsay silenced him with a glare.
    “You stand before the one true King, bastard.” Ramsay said, kicking Beron on the side.
    “It takes one to know one.” Beron said, struggling to get back up. “He is no King of mine.”
    “By right of conquest I laid claim to the crown of my forefathers, much like you did Halfstark.” Domeric said, looking down at the man before him. “Tell me, did you really expect the North to bend the knee to a wildling, the son of the King Beyond the Wall?”

    Beron looked hard at King Domeric, their wills at duel with each other.
    “I expected my bannermen to remain loyal.” Beron spat the last word. “Oath breaker you say? This tent is filled with nothing but traitors. Give me my sword Bolton and I will show you how I deal with treason.”
    “This is not a duel my Lord.” Domeric said, with a knowing smile. “You are on trial.”

    At this Beron laughed at large, until Ramsay gave him a prod with the butt of his spear. Coughing and retching, the Halfstark regained his composure, laughing still.
    “And what am I being judged for?” He asked of his captors. “Of defending my lands? Of battling traitors? Or looking for my son´s killers?” He turned to face the men before him, Lord Flint looking away from him.
    “You stand in trial for being a wildling, an oath breaker, a traitor to the North and a murderer.” King Domeric listed the charges, his voice filled with contempt. “Do you deny these charges?”

    Beron looked straight at him, blood trailing from his lower lip. “A wildling, aye, I think I cannot deny that, my mother declared Bael the Climber as my father, but my Stark blood cannot be denied!” He cried, as he got up, Ramsay about to bring him down again, but Beron made no move to fight or flee. He stood. “King Edric, your King! Declared me as his heir! The son of his last daughter, that ought to be enough for all of you.”
    “It is not enough for the Dreadfort.” The King said, in a flat tone.
    “Nor for Widow´s Watch.” Flint said.
    “Nor for the Hornswood.” Lord Errol said.
    “Nor for Ram´s Gate and the White Knife.” Lord Burley stated, hitting the table before him.
    “Not to mention the fact that King Edric bypassed many of your uncles or cousins, it cannot be denied that bastards cannot inherit before a true son.” The King concluded.
    “Your wildlings have tormented our folk for generations!” one man cried
    “My daughter was taken away not two years past.” Flint said. “A raid led by your father, bastard.” He said spitting at Beron
    “You would have them cross the Wall and settle in our lands!” Some other, a Locke maybe, said.
    “Aye, the wildlings are not our enemy in the North.” Beron retorted. “They are a starving people, they keep our gods, they were willing to submit.”
    The tent erupted.

    “Traitor! Traitor! Traitor!” was the unanimous cry.
    “There is not a man in the North that has not suffered some calamity at the hands of the wildlings.” Domeric said. “Peace with them, never.” His men roared his support.
    “You have betrayed the North and it´s people.” The King declared. “You broke your oaths to maintain the peace and instead of stepping down you claimed a crown you had no right to.”
    Beron said nothing for a while. “The North respects strength, I was the strongest.”
    “Then they shall learn to respect me.” The King said, bluntly. “Before we continue, where is Ned Greystark?”
    Beron smiled at that and spat before declaring. “I killed that traitor, bring us a horse and I can show you where I staked his head. Too young.”
    Domeric faltered for a second, Lord Torrhen would be dismayed.

    “The North has been overwhelmed with rumours.” The King began. “I will have the truth, what happened to Bael?”
    Beron looked around him one more time, perhaps looking for allies, he found none.
    “After naming me his heir, King Edric said we could not suffer him to live.” Beron declared. “Said it would be too much for the North, he would have his head and I gave it to him.” All of Bolton´s bannermen spat and cursed at him. The Wolf gave a slow sigh, his eyes looking down for the first time. “My mother could not stand it, she pleaded and begged, but the King turned her down, she took his life the next day, we found her on the heart tree, a dagger on her hand.”
    The tent had fallen into silence, this was news to all.
    King Domeric pressed his prisoner. “And the King? Did you kill him as well?”
    Still looking down, Beron continued. “King Edric took to his bed that very same night. He did not came down the following day, ravens were flying in and out, the rest of the Starks were harassing me at every turn, a riot had killed ten men in the town.”
    “Did you kill him?!” Domeric cried.

    Beron looked up at Domeric. “The North needed a King, a strong King.” The lords were aghast at his words. “I came to his chambers and did what needed to be done.”

    “Not just a murderer, but a kinslayer!” Domeric said, looking at his lords, all of them approved. “You have heard the truth from his own lips and his own voice. I do declare the Starks of Winterfell to be traitors to the North! I denounce them and I attaint them! I strip them all, of all lands, titles and rank! Starting with this man here.” He said, pointing at Beron. “All of the Starks shall become tapestries on my walls, and when I take Winterfell, this crown of yours.” He said, as he produced the ancient crown of the Kings of Winter since time immemorial. “This crown of yours shall be food for the flame.”

    Beron laughed, without mirth but with contempt. “I know I´m a dead man, but you forget one thing Bolton.” He said, stepping closer to the King, Ramsay close behind him. “The North remembers, and they will not forget the Starks.”
    “They shall remember that I beat them, they shall remember that they betrayed their land, and that I liberated from being ruled by savages.” The King said, not stepping back.
    “Bring me Ice and let´s settle this the old way Bolton.” Beron said.
    They stood face to face for a few seconds. “Before I forget, one last thing. Let it not be said that my halls are without warmth.” The King said turning to the man behind him, motioning him forward.

    King Bolton´s gift for Beron was one that had been a few days in the making. The King stepped back after putting his gift on Beron´s hands. “Do be careful, that leather is very brittle, but I trust it will keep you warm.”

    Beron slowly realized what he was holding as he turned the cloak this way and that, his face distorting with rage as his fingers poked through what had once been his son´s eyelids. With a cry of anguish and murder on his face, Beron Halfstark lunged forward at the King. But not two seconds later, Ramsay had pierced the Stark from back to front with his spear. The man collapsing before them, still gasping for breath.
    “A pity.” The King said in a low whisper that almost no one heard, as he drew his sword and took Beron´s head off.

    ps. Thanks for keeping up with the tale.
    Last edited by Solid Snake; December 06, 2022 at 12:19 PM.
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  14. #14
    Solid Snake's Avatar Vicarius
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    Default Re: The Red King (A King of Rivers and Hills AAR)


    Greystark´s Ascension

    The King´s messengers had found Greystark readying himself for the march North, to Winterfell. By raven he received word of the battle against Brandon Stark, his orders were to march North and cut off Beron´s rear. There was no way to send word back to the King, except by rider, and even then, the King was keeping his march concealed as best he could. Torrhen confirmed Marq Ryswell as the new Lord of Barrowtown and arranged for one of his sons to marry one of the Dustin girls. He picked up some new levies from the Barrows and instructed Marq to keep the region closed to the Starks.

    “You should raise more men.” He instructed to Marq. “I intend to send word to the Den and instruct my son Ethan to march upon the Moat. The King has ordered that the way North must be made secure for our forces. Your new levies are to reinforce him.”
    “Aye, if Flint´s cousins finally get on the move I will send my horses to your boy.” The new Lord spat out. “Flint´s Finger has neglected their role in the war so far.”

    “Roose claims that he is dealing with the ironborn, but I shall send him a raven as well.” Torrhen said, as he put his seal to his son´s letter. “In any case I trust that your forces reach my son´s in five days’ time. The King is soon marching on Winterfell and I intend to join him there.”
    “Send me some Starks so I can give them another beating.” Marq said laughing. “His Grace shall have the Moat, even if it means that my riders must learn to fly over the swamps.”

    Lord Greystark marched back North with all his power, keeping a tight ring of scouts around him, always on the lookout for Stark loyalists.
    Near Leaf´s Lake his scouts brought one of the King´s riders back to him.
    “Are you Lord Greystark?” the messenger asked, rummaging his clothes for the parchment. “A message from the King my Lord.” He said, hesitating for a second before delivering his message to Greystark.

    The words were short, but not without care.
    I write this outside the walls of Winterfell, Beron´s host fell upon us two days past, we routed them from the field, but we took losses. Your son saved the battle, I´m sorry to say that he fell in battle. Beron died for it, and for his many crimes. I charge you with marching upon Torrhen´s Square and bear Tallhart in his den. Afterwards, reach me in Winterfell. We shall feast your son as a hero.
    Beneath the message, the King´s own seal, the flayed man of the Dreadfort. Torrhen was at a loss for words, as he grasped the message´s meaning. His face, pale of all of a sudden.
    “We are very sorry my Lord.” The messenger said and he meant it. “The Ned was a true leader, you should be proud.”
    “I always was.” Torrhen said, in a whisper.

    “One more thing my Lord.” The messenger said, extracting one small piece of leather from his vest. “The King sends this, a token of revenge my Lord.”

    Greystark took the memento with curiosity, turning it around, puzzled.
    “The flayed skin of Beron´s chest. A piece of it at least.” The man said.
    Torrhen knew not if to throw the thing away or claim it as a prize.

    The ancient keep of the Tallharts was not by any means a large or strong castle, yet with it´s stone walls and stout square towers at it´s main gate it could withstand small bands of reavers, like those that House Hoare had sent across the sea for hundreds of years. Yet if their keep was small, their domains were not, Leaf Lake and all the fishing villages around it, and the vast tracts of land south of the Wolfswood all the way to the Sunset Sea and just north of the Rills were House Ryswell had held sway since times immemorial. A sparse population to be sure, as in all the lands north of the Neck, yet the Tallharts held the only other town in the North that held a port in the western shore; Barrowtown had a small trading port down south; and while trade was small compared to the Den or even to the Three Sisters it´s wealth could not be taken lightly. Now, another Torrhen marched down upon it, as far as he knew Harlan Tallhart had remained behind his walls, sending his sons to Winterfell to fight for the Wild Wolf.

    “Of famed memory.” He muttered as he saw Tallhart´s walls. Lord Greystark had not yet recovered from losing his eldest, he had tried to contact his second son Ethan but he feared any message would be too late, and Ethan would be well on his march to the Moat before it reached him. He had other sons to be sure, but Ned had been his only son by his first wife and dear to his heart. The messenger that had brought him Beron´s skin, now hung around his neck had promised him that King Domeric had managed to recover his bones and that he would bury him in Winterfell´s crypts when the castle was taken. A decent fate Torrhen thought, the Greystarks would rest in their ancestral home once more, a hero´s death would not bring comfort to his heart though. As things stood he might bestow Torrhen´s Square to one of his younger sons, perhaps Ethan, if he managed to scape the deadly gauntlet that Moat Cailin represented.

    Tallhart´s walls meant that towers had to be built, wood was not an issue, and Greystark had prepared for an assault on the walls since he marched from the Wolf´s Den, his men had prepared to storm Winterfell, Torrhen´s Square would not dissuade them. The towers rose in five days´ time, during which Lord Greystark grieved for his lost son, yet after praying in a wild weirwood near the lake´s shore he came out determined to fulfil his duty.
    As he deployed his men, he sent out a rider in an attempt to parlay with Lord Tallhart. As an escort with a white flag came out of the gate he rode forward with his guard. Harlan was older than him but still strong of mind and wit. Dressed in the greens of his House´s banner Lord Tallhart dismounted to discuss terms with Torrhen.

    “Lord Tallhart.” He greeted. “I trust you see the despair of your situation?”
    “And what would that be Greystark?” the old man said. “This band of traitors around you?”
    “I have near three thousand men with me.” Torrhen explained. “You are surrounded and I cut off the canal that brings you water from the lake, Winterfell is under siege as you might have heard, and your King and Prince are both dead.” He said pointing to the piece of leather around his neck.
    “What has become of you?” Harlan said, with contempt. “Turn on your own kin? I see no wolf before me, but another flayed man.” He spat to the ground.
    Torrhen pretended not to hear the man´s words. But the sting remained.
    “I came to offer terms.” He said. “The Starks are done for, Beron, Brandon both dead.”
    “They may be, aye.” Tallhart interrupted him. “It so happens that the pack is large. One of Edric´s nephews is with me, you see the wolf flying a top my walls?”
    Torrhen saw it, that could mean anything, allegiance to House Stark or the presence of one of Edric´s blood within the walls, with certain irony he thought that if for some reason the Bolton´s failed, the succession to the Crown of Winter may prove more problematic than the current war.
    “That´s why if you don’t surrender my Lord.” Greystark answered. “I will cut down every living soul behind your walls, your House shall go extinct as well, root, branch, leaf and all. No more wolfs and no more trees. I shall take your head to the heart tree myself.” He promised, calmly.

    “I would rather die fighting than to kneel to Domeric Bolton.” He said, spitting once again, this time at Torrhen´s face.
    “You will my Lord, I daresay that your entire House will do so as well.” He said, cleaning his face and turning back to his host.
    “Give me that castle.” He said to his sergeant. “Spare none, if it so happens that there´s a Stark in there I will give no room for future tales of the Lost Wolf amongst the Trees. Don´t burn the keep, if you can, rebuilding is costly.”

    An hour later the sound of horns set the towers forward into battle. A castle is as strong as the men defending it, and there were few remaining in Torrhen´s Square, yet they seemed determined to defend the Walls, hoping against hope that anyone could come to their aid. Soon, after a few fire volleys the towers reached the battlements.

    The fight was short, but brutal, Lord Harlan´s men stood firm beneath the onslaught of the Grey Wolf, yet they were too few to make much of a difference. With spear and axe, Lord Greystark´s second in command, Harrion the Stone Breaker, took the walls by force, slowly making his way towards the Main Gate.

    Greystark had remained ready at the front with all his men from his household around him, ready to storm the gate as soon as his banner replaced the Stark´s a top the walls. Soon he spotted his own banner, set by Harrion as his men took control of the gates. Sounding his horn Torrhen rode forward, hundreds of spearmen following him.
    “Give no quarter! Send them to their trees!” He cried.
    In the streets behind the wall, he found Harlan Tallhart surrounded by his retainers, in a rage he strode towards him, overwhelming his cavalry with his own, as his men poured into town, taking the lives of the villagers that had sought refuge behind the walls.
    Tallhart fought with bravery, to his credit he remained true to the promise he had made to Greystark. He sought no quarter and gave none to the men that fell before him. Yet it was one thing to fight at your prime and quite another to fight at the twilight of your years.

    Lord Greystark closed distance to his rival, cutting down his guards left and right, soon he reached him as the Grey Wolf´s men set loose upon the castle, storming the centre´s keep with a battering ram as they braved spears and stones thrown by the defenders. The clash was brief, Harlan tried to keep up with Greystark´s sword but his arm soon failed and Torrhen took him in the helm and then, put his steel trough the helm´s open face killing the last Lord Tallhart. His defiance would cost the lives of the rest of his small folk. Torrhen was determined to find this supposed Stark, even if he had to behead every child in town himself.
    Do check my AAR "The Proud Blood of Germania"
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  15. #15
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
    Content Director Patrician Citizen

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    Feb 2014
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    Default Re: The Red King (A King of Rivers and Hills AAR)

    Good updates! I like the way that your writing conjures up evocative images such as the burning banners and King Bolton's horrifying gift. The phrasing work well, for example where you describe Harlan Tallhart remaining true to his promise to Greystark (with the line about fighting "at the twilight of your years").

  16. #16
    Solid Snake's Avatar Vicarius
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    Feb 2009

    Default Re: The Red King (A King of Rivers and Hills AAR)

    Chapter XI

    The Storm in the North

    King Domeric marched on Winterfell with all his might, Beron´s skin on his shoulders and the Winter Crown perched in his saddle, yet his host had been diminished by one third at the least, death and wounded he had left behind or marched back to the Dreadfort, light snows had began to fall, and it slowed his march a little. The clans from the Wolfswood had been another thorn in his side, after routing the two main Stark hosts the survivors of both armies had melted into the woods, men from House Forrester, Woodfoot, Wolfsbane and such; harassing his flanks and rear and vanishing before Ramsay’s scouts. Finally, he emerged upon the walls of Winterfell and resumed his former position, surrounding the castle, setting a fortified camp and sending his men to cut wood in order to raise towers for the siege.
    The first day of the siege he lifted Beron´s banner in front of the remains of Winter´s Town and set it ablaze, lifting the Crown of Winter for all to see. When he rode back to his camp, the skin of the last Stark King was laid bare, his fate known to all the North. Yet the grey direwolf of the Starks remained defiant atop it´s walls.
    The King held a war council to instruct his lords on the dispositions of the siege.
    “Your Grace.” Lord Burley greeted him as he joined them on the King´s tent.
    “Lord Burley. Have your archers managed to rid me of these forest clans?” He asked in manner of welcome.
    Burley sank under the weight of the King´s question. “I fear not your Grace. We have managed to keep them at bay, but I would vote against any new foray into the Wolfswood, each company we have sent returns with at least two men dead, and many wounded.”
    “Ramsay?” The King asked.
    “The bastards keep running away.” He said, snarling with anger. “We have managed to kill a few, but their lair remains elusive, we hang a band and other two come marching down. Burn the damn thing I say.”
    “The entire forest?” The King mused. “Now that would be a sight. Do you assure me that the camp and our supplies will remain safe?” He asked to Lord Burley.
    “It shall be so my King.” Burley nodded. “We have cut down the forest surrounding our position, they will not be able to stalk upon us once more.”
    “Good. Now, as I told you my Lords I do not intend to starve the Starks in their keep, it is even possible that they may have more food than we do, and the rabble from the forest has proven more troublesome than I first expected. We storm the walls this night.”
    Ramsay and Flint voiced their support. Hornwood spoke up. “Does Your Grace mean to offer terms?”
    King Domeric looked long at him, sizing him up. “I shall my Lord. Old man Cassel will surrender if he has an inch of sense in that thick skull of his, but the Starks will not be suffered to live, you have my word on that. I daresay that Cassel will refuse my offer, he is far too loyal and there will be Stark pups and maidens in his care, but terms shall be offered none the less.”
    Later that day, Domeric send riders under a peace banner demanding audience with Rodrik Cassel, castellan of Winterfell.
    They met on Winter´s Town. Cassel and his retinue, and the King with Ramsay, Lord Flint and Lord Hornwood. The Bloody Company kept watch from the flanks, surrounding the Town´s main street.
    “Lord Bolton.” The old man greeted him. “Who is that beside you? ah yes, the flayed moose and the lord of Widow´s Arse. And your Bastard, of course. I expected a pinker coat my Lord.”
    The King smiled. “I fear that human skin turns very pale when it´s loose from the body. Yet you should not disrespect your late King, even if this mantle is all that´s left of him.”
    Rodrik almost gagged at the realization.
    “You villain! Scum! Kingslayer!” he said, in between retches, his face all red.
    “Even so, late Beron has me beaten, he was not only a wildling, but slayer of king and kin. Do you deny that he beheaded his own father my Lord?” Domeric asked.
    Rodrik composed himself. “I do not, Bolton, yet he was the King´s chosen heir, the strongest of his pack and we all swore our blades to him.”
    “Another witness.” Domeric said, turning to his lords. “Do remind me, is there any man more cursed than the kinslayer?” None spoke up.
    “Beron is dead, I trust that’s plain.” The King said as he tugged on his cloak. “Brandon died before him, Beron has no other true children born of him. Lord Cerwyn, Lord Karstark, the Last Wull, the Green Leaf of Tallhart.” As he mentioned the names, Ramsay threw their heads, skinned, towards Rodrik, a worthy pile of half a dozen was set beneath Cassel´s horse. “They have all fallen, Barrowtown has fallen, my lord of Greystark will soon deliver me Torrhen´s Square. And before tomorrow Winterfell shall be mine. The Starks have failed you, they turned their oaths on the North and a reckoning was due.” The King said as he toyed with Beron´s crown on his lap.
    “Surrender the castle, bend your knee to me and I shall spare you and your own, and the smallfolk that has taken refuge inside. You will be castellan again for my son. And the North shall be one again” The King proposed.
    “Beron was not the last Stark.” Rodrik answered. “King Edric had many brothers and the Keep is bursting with Wolves.”
    “And yet, none came with you at this moment.” Domeric said, noting the absence of any Stark princelings.
    “What shall become of them?” The castellan asked.
    “Their lives are forfeit my Lord.” The King said, sitting up on his saddle. “The Starks are attainted and accursed, and justice shall be done upon them. Give them to me and I promise a swift death, on the tree of course.”
    Rodrik spat at the ground before Domeric. “You expect me to surrender my charges and liege lords? An even greater betrayal than your own.”
    “I expect you to realize that your position is unsustainable, if you refuse I shall storm this castle and your heads shall join the Stark´s in their crypts.”
    Rodrik smiled at the taunt. “And with what army pray tell, you may have bested my King on the field, but these walls are strong. I have 500 men with me, I can hold against ten times that number. And you do not have five thousand men with you, my Lord. I hear that the clans have bled you since you first arrived. You will not take this castle; it will be your undoing.”
    “I´m not a man to be undone.” Was Domeric´s reply. “After I take Winterfell I shall welcome all the rest back in the fold, Umber and Karstark shall be pardoned as well if they manage to drag their knees this way. A few clansmen will not save you. Pray tell, which of all the Starks have laid claim to this here Crown?” He said, twirling the ancient ring of iron on his wrist. “Or are they sharpening their knives in anticipation?” The King laughed at Rodrik´s silence. “If I should stay put and attempt to starve you out, yes, then maybe the rest of the loyalists would come for me, and make things harder upon themselves, it even may be possible that you hide or smuggle out one of the Starklings, you know the ins and outs of your castle better than me, there may be already others in Deepwood Motte or in Last Hearth, but I do not think that Beron took such precautions.” The King shrugged. “But it will not be so my Lord, you have said your last, let me say mine. Tell the Starks that Winter has come for them, say your prayers my Lord, none inside shall live to see the dawn.”
    Back in the Tent. The last preparations.
    Winterfell had two lines of walls, and a dry moat between them, everyone knew that, a formidable fortress to be sure, less than a thousand garrisoned it, but five hundred men could wreak havoc in their army if they were not careful.
    “Lord Flint, you will take point in the assault, I want you leading the battering ram. They will rain fire upon us all, wet hides will be provided for your equipment. Break that gate.”
    “Not only fire.” Rickard Flint said. “Rocks, spears, murder holes beyond the gate.” He grimaced. “Yet it shall be yours, my King.”
    The King nodded. “Afterwards you must strike fast for the second wall, we know that the second gate is not directly behind the main gate, and the bridges in the moat shall be taken down I reckon, use the ram as bridge if you can. You will be exposed all the way, your shield wall must punch through.”
    Flint only snarled in response.
    “Brother, you will lead the assault with the towers. I want you a top of the walls, you will march before Lord Flint, with any luck you will take the gatehouse and save us quite some time. Lord Hornwood shall have the rear, keep the clansmen away from us.” Domeric said.
    “Where shall you be Your Grace?” Haryn Hornwood asked.
    The King smiled.
    “I shall strike the Hunter´s Gate.” He said pointing at it on the map. “Your attack will be a distraction, yes, but if we only attack on a single front we shall be routed. Brother, you must take the brunt of the attack, wear my armour and bring death upon them. Your attack must be so violent and fierce that they will draw men from the other gates, then I can storm the castle and the Keep with steel and fire.”
    “You must hurry brother, if you turn up late, the walls shall fall before me while you still try to breach the gate.” Ramsay said with a laugh.
    The hour of the wolf.
    The walls were quiet. Lord Cassel patrolled with his men, from atop the second wall, the higher one, he could survey the battlefield. He could spot Bolton´s fires on his camp, and around the towers, yet he could not spot any men massing around them. Bolton had promised to attack that night, had it all been a ploy to keep him, and his men awake? If so, it was paying dividends, his men had been on high alert since they spotted Bolton marching upon them, and had not been given an hour´s rest. His sentinels around the gates had not given any alarm as of yet. Ravens had been sent the entire day yet they had ball been felled by Burley´s archers, no help would come, not soon at any rate. And his charges were another problem, he had the younger brother of King Edric (already on his seventies) addressing men a top the main gate in the outer wall. A cousin of Beron, a certain Alaric Stark was defending the first Keep where the younger Starks were kept under guard. Another Brandon was leading the defence of the New Castle. Yet another, a Theon, was guarding the Godswood, in the case that the attackers would try to storm through the Hunter´s Gate. And in the crypts Lord Cassel had insisted that they hid a couple of the younger pups, a great grandson and a grand daughter of the Old King, Robb and Meera. The pack was truly great and after the news of Beron´s demise had spread through Winterfell after his return from battle there had not been a day when the wolfs had not been at each other´s throats. He had hoped he could smuggle Robb out by way of the ancient tunnels from the crypts or from the Heartree, but Bolton´s remark had led him to assume that the entre castle would be surrounded. No, he had to hold this castle and hope for Umber or Karstark to relieve them, yet he knew his main hope lay with the Glovers of the Wolfswood and yet their Master had not been as loyal as he had hoped, choosing to send his younger son to Beron´s host. It did not matter now, there was a chance that they would all be dead by the break of dawn.
    The horns sounded and a great battle cry came from beyond the walls. The King was marching, Rodrik saw as torches were lit amongst Domeric´s men, he saw the great towers now bearing down upon them, five in total, from the one to the right of the main gate the great banner of Domeric unfurled, the flayed man on pink. He sent out runners, instructing them to give flame to the towers when they were in reach.
    “Does the banner mean that Domeric is inside that tower?” He pondered, he had known the young lord of the Dreadfort in years prior, a fearsome warrior, yet always loyal when King Edric had instructed him to send men north, to bolster the Wall and the Night´s Watch. And it would be a lie to say that the King trusted his Lords of the Dreadfort, not with their last defeat so close in time and memory, but the betrayal still stung. Blood was in the air and Domeric was not a man to lose it´s trail.
    The archers were already loosing arrow and flame upon the towers, yet the fire did not catch. Watered hides, Domeric was not one to let his siege engines catch flame so easily. Fight would soon be joined. He sent a runner to the outer wall, they were to hold at all costs. He was ready to abandon his men on the outer walls. The inner one was higher and stronger, with less gates he could concentrate his men. Yet the Boltons seemed intent on breaching the main Gate.
    From the field he heard another horn, accompanied by heavy drums. “A ram” he said, as he spotted the great construct advancing on his walls. Wooden frame with shields covering it´s roof and sides. It would take a big stone to attempt to break it.
    “If they breach the gate I want all the bridges taken down, they can not enter that thing beyond the moat.” He said to his men.
    A great cry erupted from his left. The towers had reached the wall and battle was joined.

    His old eyes looked for Domeric in the midst of battle, one of his aides signalled the rebel to him, his armour and sword was unmistakable. “Send another twenty men to the outer wall. If we can slay Domeric this battle is over.”

    Those twenty men were some of the Winter Guard, Winterfell´s finest, clad in steel and plate, heavy swords in their arms. They marched up the ramparts and started to cut their way through Domeric´s first wave.

    But Ramsay kept fighting, he led the bloody company across the walls and fought his way towards the gate house, cutting down the Stark defenders. The ram, in the meantime had continued on unopposed, the spears and rocks had made no dent on it. And soon Rodrik could hear the bangs upon the gate.

    “Heave! Heave! Heave!” Cried Lord Flint, encouraging his men. “For the North! For Domeric! Heave!”

    The gate was beginning to suffer, a top the walls the Bloody Company had clashed with the Winter Guard, Domeric was seen cutting men down left and right, fighting like a man possessed.
    “Call the men guarding the other gates, we shall hold the inner wall. We always knew we might lose the outer defences; bring as many arrows as you can. “he said to his men.
    Near the forest, under cover of trees and darkness Domeric Bolton lay in ambush, he had brought light scales and hooks to climb the walls, as the sound of battle raged over to the south and west he could only imagine the butchery that Ramsay had unleashed on the walls. Not long after a new horn sounded across the field.

    “A retreat?” One of his men asked. “Is not one of ours.”
    “No, its Stark´s.” The King said pointing at the walls. “Look.” Sure enough the guards upon the Hunter´s Gate marched back and down to the inner wall or towards the fight at the Main Gate, just a couple guardsmen remained.

    “Quiet now.” The King said. “I want arrows to cover us while we climb. With haste and silence.” The King dismounted from his horse and marched with his men, teams of ten carrying scales and some others running across the expanse with hooks at the ready. The Hornwood archers took down the remaining guards with ease. Soon, scales were brought up, and Domeric reached the top of the wall, no more guards in sight, the fight raged, he could barely hear as the woods of the Main Gate creaked under the weight of the ram; it seemed close to breaking. His archers soon took positions and took down all the men they could see before they spotted their incursion, some others opened the gates and brought the horses inside the walls.
    “Hurry now!” Domeric said. “Towards the second gate.” Arrows were fired, and the inner wall was taken atop the Hunter´s Gate, the one weakness in the castle was exploited by Domeric with perfect strategy. Now, as his men opened the second gate and as he withdrew his brother´s blade from a Cerwyn guard his excitement grew. The sound of battle was raging ever stronger, he surmised that Flint had already breached the gate and was making his way across the moat. His men knew their part, his detachment brought his cavalry inside the castle, near 300 riders. Now was the time for fire and thunder.

    Rickard Cassel could not believe his eyes as he witnessed Flint´s shield wall marching in perfect order undaunted by the arrows flying from the inner wall. Domeric had just climbed down from the gatehouse, his own archers already loosing arrows upon the defenders. To his surprise the ram had been dismounted and made smaller than the previous one, but still large enough to shelter men beneath it.

    Yet, it was far worse hearing the sounds of alarm and death that came from the rear, from inside the walls. An explosion was heard as the flames erupted behind him, a horn spurring the enemies inside the castle, and a stream of pink ahead of the flames.

    “How?” Cassel asked to no one in particular, Flint and Ramsay had joined forces and were advancing through the moat, using wooden frames to march across it, braving the fire from the defenders. And now battle had sprang from behind the inner walls as well. From afar he could make out the Hunter´s Gate, wide open and a constant stream of riders and infantry pouring inside the castle. “Retreat!” He cried, as his men lost cohesion all around him, feeling the claws of despair inside them. “Back to the Keep! Retreat!” His old bones rattling as he marched down to street level.

    The second gate was already under attack, the banging growing ever louder, as Cassel retreated back to the Keep he clashed with Bolton men.

    He ordered his men around him and started to push through, fire was all around him and from afar he could see the godswood in flames. The second gate gave way not much later. And the Bloody Company poured through the remains, hacking at the defenders. He knew the end was near, but the Boltons would not take him alive.

    Ramsay had brought his own horse through the moat and the walls, death surrounded him and the Stark loyalist were wavering, feeling the castle lost. Joining his brother with a wild laugh, as they raced towards the First Keep, both knew that the castle was theirs and that the Starks were done for. The rest of the North would have to acknowledge them or suffer the same fate.

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  17. #17
    Solid Snake's Avatar Vicarius
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    Default Re: The Red King (A King of Rivers and Hills AAR)

    Chapter XII

    The Children in the Godswood

    The Main and First Keep held out until morning. Ramsay had stormed through the Godswood taking down the Stark loyalists hidden beneath the trees’ branches, Theon Stark felled a dozen men before falling beneath the heart tree, Ramsay’s arrows, three of them, protruding from his chest. Lord Flint, despite his wounds rallied his swords to assault the First Keep, in the end slaying Alaric Stark in single combat; while the King took it upon himself to breach the Main Keep, last of all to fall was Brandon Stark, who held his own against the King despite his wounds and falling before Flesh Eater a top the ancient seat of the Starks. The defence was desperate, and the fight did not die down until fist light. The great banner a top the castle was taken down, and the survivors were brought into the Main Hall where the Kings of Winter of old had held court for millennia. A new King had taken seat there, his hands upon the pommel of his sword, his dark armour still dripping blood. The remaining Stark princes and their smallfolk were brought before him, old man Cassel was brought in, chained in hand and foot, barely alive. Ramsay standing beside his King, the seat of Winter covered with the skin of Beron the Hafling.

    “Did you search the crypts?” The King asked to his brother.

    “I did, went down myself.” Ramsay answered. “We came with torches and ropes, we looked in every nook and passage, I would say we marched down for half a mile, the tunnels grow too narrow there. There is no one else hiding there. The first Keep was torn apart by Flint as well, no others were found.”

    “The godswood?” The King said as he inspected his prisoners.
    “Sent my best hunters, we rooted out some girls and kitchen hands, brought them here.” He said spitting at the floor. “One man drowned before the heart tree.”

    Domeric nodded, he knew, deep in his heart that the Boltons could hold sway in Winterfell for centuries and still it would be a Stark place, it’s secrets guarded to him and his own.

    “Lord Cassel” He called out. “Your castle is ours now, you forced our hand and this is the result. Tell me, are these all that’s left of the pack?” He asked gesturing to the dozen, or more, Stark children set before him.

    “If you expect me to answer that, Bolton, you are a bigger fool than I thought.” Cassel replied, his mouth filled with blood. “You may held this castle, but the North remembers.”

    A brief grimace crossed Domeric’s features. In truth there was no way of knowing if all the princes were accounted for or if they were in hiding in some lost dungeon, or amongst the remaining towns people.
    “I expect you to see the truth before your eyes, you have lost. And if your defiance continues everyone here shall be put to the sword.” He turned to Beron’s small folk. “This man is gambling with your lives; the Starks have failed you. You have a new King now.”

    “Beron was my one true King.” A man spoke up. “I shall serve no bastard from the Dreadfort.”

    “The Starks shall feast on your bones!” A woman cried. “A curse will fall upon you!”
    The King lost patience. “Take them and the brats away. To the folk offer them the Wall or your sword.” He instructed to Lord Flint.

    Winterfell’s maester came forth, pleading. “My Lord… Your Grace, may I please assist Lord Cassel? He will not be of much service if he perishes.”

    “He is being of no service right now.” The King answered, but allowed the maester to attend the wounded man.

    “Tell me, maester.” Domeric said. “Your order is sworn to serve, such tells me my own maester, is it not?”

    “Yes, Your Grace.” The grey man answered, clutching his chain with one hand, as he cleansed Rodrik’s head of blood and grime. “If you should take me into your service I would be honour bound to serve and counsel you as I did…as I did the Starks.”
    “Good, now tell me, what was your counsel to King Edric and Beron when you knew of the kinslaying and murder that took place in these very halls.” Domeric questioned. “Do the laws of Winterfell have a different chapter regarding bastards and their rights to rule? Or perhaps the rule of the wildlings holds sway in these parts. Tell me true, did you advise King Edric in favour or naming Beron as his heir? Or perhaps you attempted to dissuade him?”

    The grey man stammered his answer. “I did warn against Beron’s choosing, but it was the King’s own words and…”

    “The very same King that Beron killed?” Domeric said, interrupting him. “My lords have heard the truth from your King’s own lips, would you deny that he slew King Edric in his own chamber?”

    “Your Grace… I..” but Domeric would not let him continue.

    “Do you mean to tell me, that the Starks did not break our most ancient laws and set an usurper on this very throne?” The Red King said, pointing at the floor beneath his feet.

    “And if Beron’s lineage had remained a secret, would you have paid him homage or rose in rebellion against your King?” Cassel spoke out, beyond the pain of his wounds.

    Domeric pierced the old man with his gaze, truth be told the Boltons had remained loyal since they were cast down by the power of Winterfell, their lands and power diminishing every year. The siege of the Dreadfort lasted for three years before they were starved out, old wounds ran deep or so they say, few could claim that the two Houses were friendly with each other. The Boltons, always bitter at their losses, the Starks never fully trusting them, and yet a marriage between them was on the verge of coming together, in another life perhaps.

    “This is no rebellion.” Domeric answered. “I bent the knee to King Edric, fought and bled for him in his wars, led his fleet against the Old Falcon. I rose to depose an usurper and a murderer, an oath breaker and betrayer.” He continued. “I highly doubt that his lineage was a secret, I daresay that some of the men present here knew of the Old King’s ploy. If you had had your way, you would have played the North for fools, deceiving a people that for centuries has suffered at the hands of the wildlings.”

    “And yet, the very same clans that you claim have suffered in the wildling raids, claimed Beron as their King.” Cassel said, managing to stand up, a hand resting and seeking the maester’s support. “The Umbers and Karstarks, closer to the Wall than any of your lands, kept their faith as well.”

    “And see what that has brought them.” Domeric said. “There is no point in denying or justifying Beron’s crimes, all those who supported him are betrayers as well. But they shall be welcomed back into the King’s peace should they surrender. If this is a rebellion as you say my Lord, you can say that is has triumphed and a new House has risen to power.”

    There was no argument there, already the last Wull, a child of eleven, had bent the knee before the new King, before the break of dawn, and some other clansmen had as well.
    “Your Grace, please.” The maester said. “What shall become of the children? who shall rule in your stead in these halls?”

    “The Starks are attainted, their lives forfeit.” Domeric answered.

    “Your Grace, please, they are only children, Beron’s line has ended with his son Brandon I can bear witness to that, surely one of the girls, of true Stark blood, could marry your son, our Prince? And your lovely daughter could take one of the boys to marry…”

    “You expect me to marry my children into a family of kinslayers?” The King spat at the floor. “What guarantee I have that one of the others will not rise to defy me in the future?”
    “Like you did.” Cassel spoke out. “Your ancestors were forgiven when they bent the knee, would you add the murder of children to your crimes Bolton?” he said, mocking him.

    “My Lord…” The maester said. “Your Grace, the smallest one has but three years old, surely he can be no danger…”

    “There must always be a Stark in Winterfell.” The old castellan said. “And one of them shall carve out your black heart.” A guardsman hit Rodrik with the butt of his spear, bringing the old man to his knees once more. “If you would have them dead, do the deed yourself Bolton, there are no executioners in Winterfell.”

    “Nor in the Dreadfort.” Domeric retorted. “Our way is the old ways as much as yours.” Yet some could see some doubt in the King’s eyes when he spoke these words. “Maester, are there any other Starklings hiding beneath the floors, beyond these walls?”

    For the briefest instant a glance crossed the two man, the castellan and the maester, it went unnoticed by most.

    “There are no more Your Grace.” The maester answered.

    A long silence passed between them. At last, the King stood up.

    “Your life is lost, Lord Cassel, I trust you see that, yours shall be the first head I take with Flesh Eater, maester, bend the knee to me and swear me your allegiance and I shall let you select one boy, one girl from the litter, we shall see if the wolves can’t change their fur. Any other man that so wishes it shall be sent to the Wall or die with their beloved Starks. Let it be known that I was not without mercy. No raping, and no looting shall be permitted, the castle will not be razed as it shall continue to be a seat of my House, any man that swears their heart and sword to me shall be welcomed into my peace. Let the North remember that.”

    A couple minutes later, after receiving vows of fealty from some of the household and from some surviving lordlings from the battle, chief amongst them the last Cerwyn a boy of five, and Winterfell´s maester, soon after that King Domeric sentenced to death the remaining Starks, declaring them accursed and forbidden from claiming any future lands or titles, save for one young girl and one young boy, Lyanna twelve years of age and Arthos barely eight years old, both grandsons of Edric.
    “These children shall be your charge maester.” The King spoke to the grey man, Maester Russell. “You three will be under heavy surveillance, make no mistake, I have learned your faces well, if you attempt to put an imposter before me while these pups scamper off, I shall have your skin, while you watch. If and when the years pass, we shall find them a proper marriage, and proper lands, perhaps under my lord of Greystark, but break my trust and you shall find no mercy.” Russell was near pissing himself at the King´s words, but managed to stammer a response, reassuring Domeric of his allegiance.

    “After we win this war, whatever remains of it anyway.” The King continued as he made way to the courtyard, where the rest of the Starks awaited his judgment. “My son shall rule in this castle, I expect you to be loyal to him. I make no illusions; half of those oaths back there were false. Serve my son well, maester.”

    “I shall your Grace, but, the small folk, they love the Starks, some will find it difficult to serve under you and your own.” The maester said as they continued their way through the halls. The cold winds rising in the outside.

    “And if I had a smaller army perhaps I would limit myself to raze the Keep and be done with it, but no, I intend to rule and I shall keep a heavy presence here.” The King said. “Few will be killed yes, but not hundreds. The people shall learn to love us, a quiet land a peaceful folk, my father used to say.”

    They were coming out to the godswood, Cassell and the Stark princes were waiting for them there under heavy guard. The sap of the heart tree bleeding red into the ground.
    “My King, honour calls me to beseech you once more.” The maester said taking one knee before Domeric. “Please spare them, send them away to the Free Cities or Beyond the Wall, they can join the Night´s Watch and…”

    “And one of them shall stick his sword upon my chest ten years from now.” Domeric said, ordering him to rise. “Tell me, maester, if the roles were reversed and it was Beron marching through my halls, my head upon his spear, would he show this same courtesy that you ask of me to my children and wife?”

    The maester had no answer for that. The King gave him a small smile.

    “But they´re children, some babes even!”

    Ramsay interrupted the man as they reached the improvised dais before the heart tree.

    “And this is war.” He said. “Children die in war, women, old men and crones, babes even.”

    “As you can see, my brother is made of raw meat and steel.” The King said, drawing his sword. “After this the North shall have peace.”
    The wolves began to howl in the distance, the children stood before him, some defiant, some in tears, one of the girls carried his mewling brother in his arms. Lord Cassell was brought before the King.
    “Rodrik Cassell.” The King announced. “For turning against the laws of the North, for allowing murder to happen in the castle that hailed you as castellan, for aiding the betrayer Beron Halfstark I do sentence you to die.”

    The old warrior turned his face towards the King as he was brought to his knees by the men escorting him.

    “The wolves will return for you Bolton.” He said. “My bones shall dance when I hear your cries.”

    Flesh Eater came down upon his neck in one swift stroke, Domeric knelt and picked up his head, squirting blood, and laid it beneath the weirwood´s mouth.

    “Pick the boys out maester.” The King said, as he turned back to the princes. Maester Russell pointed out the two children, Arthos and Lyanna, the boy did not flinch, barely stopping to clean his tears, Lyanna resisted as the babe was taken from his arms, she began to howl curses at the King, Russell hurried to bring both the children inside, to spare them the sight.

    The babe was brought to the King, barely 6 months of age. The King carried the babe to the weirwood, the howling of the wolves grew ever larger as the babe continued to cry into his arms. Domeric took out his dagger. A second later, only silence.
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  18. #18
    Solid Snake's Avatar Vicarius
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    Feb 2009

    Default Re: The Red King (A King of Rivers and Hills AAR)



    A few days had passed in Winterfell, without great incident so far, the King held court in the New Castle, the remaining princes were kept under close watch but comfortable, princess Lyanna had refused to eat until she fainted of exhaustion while attempting to bypass Maester Russel at the door of her chambers, the blood was drying in the bark of the weirwood, the gates of Winterfell had been rebuilt, prizes and titles were award, ravens flew as fast as the maester could write, always under the careful eye of King Domeric, not a stranger to the writing arts.

    Torrhen Greystark had been summoned to Winterfell with all his might, while Torrhen´s Square had been awarded to the King´s bastard brother, Lord Ramsay, legitimised and taking the name of Ramsay Fireblood, he was sent there to bring the region to heel.

    Lord Greystark arrived seven days after the battle of Winterfell, with his heavy cavalry behind him and new levies from the Rills and the Barrows bringing up the main column, the King received him with all the honours accorded to rank and title.
    “My friend, you are most welcome.” The King greeted Torrhen as he stepped down from the dais. “We did it, Winterfell and the North is ours.”
    “To hear the tales, it was an impressive feat, I wish I was there with you.” Torrhen said with a smile.

    “I´m sorry for your loss, Ned was a brave warrior, his bones lay at the crypts for now, but we can make arrangements to bring him to the Den.” He said, with a kind voice.

    “Thank you, my King.” Torrhen said, a frown crossing his face. “He did us all proud and he was a Greystark, his place is also here.” As Torrhen sat beside his King in the dais, wine was brought before him.

    “How goes Ethan´s campaign?” The King asked of him. “The Moat is a tough nut to crack.”
    “Ethan is doing fine, his last letter tells of how the Moat is closed off from the North, no assault has been made, but he tells me the garrison is close to starving.” Torrhen said, sipping his cup.

    “No help from the crannogmen then?” The King asked.

    “If they are helping them, it´s to no avail, Ethan swears no one has exited or entered the Moat since he arrived.” Torrhen cut a piece of apple with his knife, chewing at the fruit with care. “I have instructed him to be careful.”

    “To lose a son is a terrible fate, I understand brother.” The King said, leaning towards Greystark.

    Torrhen bristled a bit at the title, it did not sit right with him, and yet, he knew that his betrayal of the Starks was what allowed this new King to sit there, before him.
    “It is a fate I do not wish upon anyone.” Torrhen said. “But it comforts me to know my son rests in our ancestral Keep, that he died a warrior.”
    There was a moment of silence between the two men, as servants and soldiers busied themselves around them.
    “Has my King decided who shall rule in Winterfell?” he asked.

    “My son.” Domeric said after a brief second. “Vayon shall come here after the war is over, Stark loyalists still hold a piece of my Kingdom, I intend for one of your sons to rule in the Karhold after it falls.” The King declared.

    “My King honours me.” Torrhen said. “May I ask what the history with the Stark children is?”

    “Not here.” Domeric said abruptly as he got up.

    The walk towards the King´s chambers was quick but silent. Once inside the room where King Edric had met his doom; both men could speak frankly.
    “I can´t believe you let them live. Two of them!” Torrhen cried before controlling himself. “A boy and a girl! The kingdom shall never be safe while a Stark still draws breath.”

    Domeric glared at him, but he understood the man´s complains, even if the tone, was…unfit to address a King.

    “I admit I had a moment of weakness.” The King said. “My intention is that the North shall accept me as their rightful ruler, most of the household submitted, even some of the clansmen. I did not think that possible.”

    “False oaths, while they sharpen their knives.” Torrhen countered. “You put all in danger as long as you allow those pups to draw breath.”
    “Do you mean to tell me that no Starks were found in Torrhen´s Square? I heard tales as well, and Russell confessed that a Starkling was sent there.” The King asked, as he poured more wine into his cup.
    Torrhen took the affront well. “If they sent him, he is dead, none escaped the castle, no one was spared.” Torrhen took a cup for him as well, striding to the window, the North wide open for him.
    “I fear the same cannot be said of this castle.” Torrhen continued. “Did you search the crypts?”

    “Everyone goes on and on about the crypts.” The King said, emptying his cup and joining Torrhen by the window. “Ramsay searched them himself, anyone that has entered them knows they cannot be searched in full, same goes for the godswood and for a dozen other places in this castle. There are no other Stark survivors besides those I have kept in my ward. If any other was smuggled out, how would they prove their claim? And if the North is lost to them, who will support them?”

    “There are still Stark loyalists.” Torrhen declared, setting his cup down.
    “Karstark is the main one, there is no reasoning with Arnolf, he has sent raiding parties across the Weeping Water and as far south as Ram´s Gate.” The King said with a snarl. “My son shall deal with him, levies from Flint and Locke have come forth, soon Karhold will be ours.”
    “Umber?” Torrhen asked. “Last I remember some of the younger ones were in our side.”
    “There has been only defiance from Last Hearth, what is worse they claim kingship themselves, a marriage with a Stark girl.” Domeric snickered. “If it comes to that every lord in the North can lay claim to the Winter Crown.” It was an humourless laugh, but a sincere one. “Yet they stand with the Karstarks in their defiance, they will see me buried first and then squabble amongst each other.”

    “The Glovers?” Torrhen asked, and how did his King smile as the name reached his ears.

    “From Deepwood Motte, there has been only silence, not a bad thing on it´s own.” The King said. “But there have been riders, I trust we have the new Lord Glover in our side.”

    It took Greystark only two seconds before realizing. “Your girl or mine?” he asked.

    “Lyra, she is a Princess now, and heir should anything happen to Vayon. The Glovers are an old and proud House, their ties with the Starks bring us legitimacy, they command the allegiance of half a hundred forest clans, and I raise the new Lord Glover to potential heir.” Domeric explained. “But the keep still needs to be won. Lyra shall join us in a couple days, you shall escort her to her new home.”
    “With an army I presume.” Greystark said. “In the meantime, such army will be suffering harassment during the entire march, from these half a hundred forest clans.” The Grey Wolf laughed. “My King honours me too much.”

    “You know you are one of the few I can really trust Torrhen.” The King said, clasping his shoulder, looking straight at him. “I make no illusion of some of my leal bannermen, some despise me, others hate me, still they all fear me. Yet you and your House are the only ones I can rely on, my strong right hand, my shield and my sword. The Den and the Dreadfort shall be bound by blood as well, when our younglings get on age, we shall join our Houses.”
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  19. #19
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Feb 2014
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    Default Re: The Red King (A King of Rivers and Hills AAR)

    I enjoy the way that you build up the tension and drama, as we see the reactions of characters such as Rodrik and Rickard - and the subtle details, such as the brief glance between the castellan and the maester (after the question is asked about whether any young Starks remain in hiding). Good writing!

  20. #20
    Solid Snake's Avatar Vicarius
    Join Date
    Feb 2009

    Default Re: The Red King (A King of Rivers and Hills AAR)

    Chapter IV

    A Bold Prince

    “A fine host.” Vayon said as he inspected his troops from horseback, one of his father´s sergeants, Berengar, close behind him. “Near, three thousand and five hundreds?” He asked turning towards Berengar.

    “Close enough my Prince.” The old man said, squinting his gaze beneath the falling snow, as autumn continued the snows kept pouring in, a small thing for Northmen, but rumours from the south claimed the Trident had ice on it´s banks. “Lord Flint and Lord Locke have sent their levies, the men from Widow´s Watch are led by Ralf Flint, the younger son of their current Lord, and Old Locke himself has come from his seat in Oldcastle. I suggest you keep close council with both of them, save for Lord Greystark their force is the strongest element in your father´s host. They have kept faith.”
    “And I must see that they don´t lose it.” Vayon said, his coat of wolfskin growing heavy with the snow. “Is that what you´re saying?” He asked.
    “My Prince knows best.” The old soldier answered, making a small bow. “You have always been a smart boy, your father knows that.”
    “I only need to prove myself as a soldier as well.” The Prince said. “An heir worthy of his achievements, of his Crown.”

    “These men expect King Domeric´s son to be as smart and cunning as his Father.” Berengar said. “They will follow you to Karhold, but they will test you as well. You must be ready.”
    The first test came on the second day of march, when Ralf Flint pulled his horse besides the Princes´ demanding the van be given to him.
    “You cannot expect that old fart to be a better warrior than myself.” He demanded of the Prince. “His last battle was way before the wolves sacked the Dreadfort.” The jest did not go unnoticed.
    “Lord Locke and his House have defended the shores of the Bite since the dawn of days.” Vayon retorted as he rode through the main column. “His men are seasoned warriors.”

    “Seasoned to fight fish perhaps.” Ralf said. “But we near Karhold´s domains, deep inland and surrounded by forests and cliffs.”

    “Like the forests that surround your Keep my Lord?” Vayon said with a smile. Widow´s Watch was famously set in a barren cliff, devoid of forests for miles around. “I trust Lord Locke, unfamiliar with the terrain, shall keep an even greater care in our surroundings.”

    Vayon had given the van to Old Locke, yet it was his own scouts, seasoned hunters from the Dreadfort, that kept his force hidden from their foes. Their march was made slow by the snows, but they still kept good pace, yet, after they crossed into Karstark´s territory the Prince summoned lord Locke to his tent.

    “My men tell me that I have you to blame for our slow march.” The Prince said, without much prologue. “Lord Flint thinks he could have already stormed Karhold if he were to set the pace.”

    Lord Locke, well in his sixties, but still a fierce man was quick to anger.
    “Ralf Flint was still inside his father´s balls when I raided Sisterton and killed a dozen crabs in their port.” The old warrior said, bristling with rage. “Your van is safe in my hands, my Prince.” He said bowing, remembering to whom he was speaking to. “Tell that brat that he will find me feasting in Karstark´s table while he struggles to bring his rear to bear.”

    “I will make sure of that my Lord.” The Prince said, as he poured more wine.
    They doubled their pace in the following days, Locke´s men made some small skirmishes in the front, all the while the main column kept their pace. Until, at last they found a real challenge.

    “It seems Lord Locke has come through.” Vayon said as he inspected his troops, looking from cover at the approaching Karstarks, setting them up in their own terrain, Locke´s scouts had led the enemy right into the Prince´s trap. Ralf had been given command of the infantry, much like his father in the King´s host.

    “Send word to Locke, that he is to hold the right flank at all costs, the enemy´s cavalry must be dealt with.” Vayon said inspecting the field.
    A runner went forth, reaching the old man´s position.
    “The boy wants me to win the battle for him.” Locke said to his soldiers. “Let´s skin some wolves!” He said as he drew his great battle axe and sent his horse forward against the famed raiders of the Karhold.

    “Hold together boys!” Ralf Flint cried, taking position in the line´s centre. “Shields close, spears out! Archers! Let fly!” He roared as he saw the enemy charge his position.

    Karstark´s host was mostly made up of new levies, green boys, against the might of the Dreadfort, Flint´s men were also unbloodied as of yet, but the recent victories gave courage to Bolton´s men. They took the charge, piercing any gaps in the enemy´s line.

    In the left, stood another regiment of the Bloody Company, loyal guards to the Boltons, they were ready to wreak havoc in Karstark´s flank. When the order came through, they were set loose, their big pole axes cutting hand, arm and head, armour and all.

    Flint held the Karstarks well, holding his own against the assault, his spear already red with gore and blood. A horn was heard on the right.

    “That old bastard…” He murmured, before resuming his position in the spear wall.

    Locke had cut through the enemy´s cavalry, his wedge driving off the enemy horsemen, and now he was circling back to strike Karstark´s rear.
    “With me! With me!” Locke roared as he hacked through foes with his axe. “Charge! Take them down!”

    The battle did not last long after that, the enemy´s foot broke under Locke´s charge, Vayon sounded his own horn and set forth in the pursuit.

    The field was his, the Prince knew he had won more than a battle, he had won his men as well. Locke and Flint, even if in conflict with themselves had become the Prince´s stalwart champions. Their faith rewarded, they fought with renewed zeal. In two days’ time, Karhold was in sight, and the siege began.

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