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

  1. #41
    Solid Snake's Avatar Vicarius
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    Default Re: The Red King (A King of Rivers and Hills AAR)

    Chapter XXVI

    The First Men

    When the Queen of the West had put forward the notion that the Boltons ought to invade the Vale as a “wedding gift” towards House Lannister, both Domeric and Greystark had had their doubts about how best to bring the Vale to heel.
    Since the beginning, Torrhen had wanted to bring the Mountain Clans into an alliance with them, but Domeric had doubts.
    “The Mountain Clans outnumber the Arryns and the Andals, they trace their ancestry right to the First Men of the Age of Heroes, same as we do, they have always desired to come back from the Mountain keeps that the Arryns forced them into.” He had told his King.
    “It will not be so simple.” Domeric countered. “Most of the Houses of the Vale can claim descent from the First Men, and most of them also mixed Andal blood with them after the invasion, House Arryn has an even tighter grasp upon the Vale than even the Starks of old ever did. Their lords and their people won’t accept an upstart, an upraised Chieftain as their new Lord.”

    “Not willingly…” began Torrhen, but the King cut across him.
    “And not ever.” Domeric said. “The Vale accepted the Andals and their New Fate with open arms after the wars were over. We can attempt to use the Clans and offer them a suitable reward, but to rule in our stead, it will not do.” The King pondered over the map set across the table. “Royce, Corbray, Grafton, one of them must be turned to our side. Without them it will be easier to burn the Vale rather than rule it from the Dreadfort”
    “All of them are in the Riverlands, your Grace.” Torrhen pointed out to the lands of the Trident.
    “And there they have covered themselves in glory.” The King said. “That leaves the Vale unprotected, a strong, mobile force can do them much damage, and if we could somehow block them from gaining back their lands, some Lords will be persuaded to change their colors.”
    “The Bloody Gate.” Torrhen said pointing at it. The only mountain pass that allowed for the march of armies from the High Road into the Vale had always been fortified beyond belief and expectation, a hundred armies had been turned to ash beneath it´s walls. “If we could seize it and block the Arryn´s force…”
    “By sea it would be a daunting effort, I would still need to traverse through enemy lands.” The King said, his brow furrowing. “And by land there is not a chance of breaking it.”
    “Suppose the Clans know other ways into the Vale?” Torrhen asked.
    “Goat tracks and hunter´s paths sure.” The King said. “Perhaps they can be of use, I entrust you to seek them out, you shall speak with my voice in this matter, perhaps they shall be our greatest ally in this endeavour.”

    These words, sounded through Torrhen´s mind as he made his way down the Causeway, his march screened by the Crannogmen, his head still a pounding hell, but at least the fever had subsided, and he had won a great trophy: Longshot, the ancient blade of House Hunter was now clasped around his back, it would be an heirloom of his House after his passing. And that was coming sooner rather than later, the cold winds were still harsh down the Neck up until the mouths of the Green Fork, and all along he had had to stay one step away from the massive main force of House Royce, led by their Lord, Yohn Royce. In that aspect the men from House Reed had proven beyond valour, if it had not been for their secret pathways and their expert scouts, Greystark´s host may have fallen afoul of the enemy´s patrols.
    It had been a close thing a few nights before, when he was almost too weak to ride a horse, just the host under Lord Royce was twice the numbers his own army, even reinforced by the men from the Neck, Yohn Royce had the greatest fighting force of the Vale, save for that of the Talon himself.
    Now, he had managed to reach the cover of the forests that sprang from the Mountains of the Moon, and as his King had told him, he was determined to speak to the Clans and have them join his banner.

    The crannogmen told him that you don’t find the Mountain Clans, the Clans find you, Moon Brothers, Black Ears, Redsmiths, Sons of the Tree, Stone Crows and Burned Men, names that the children of the Vale have learned to fear since the cradle; fierce men using ragged steel and rusted iron as weapons, they raided the Valemen and Rivermen equally, and each other if the chance presented itself, they lived short, brutal lives. And since the coming of the Andals they had forever shared a deep hatred of House Arryn.
    It was on the fifth day since they had ventured into the wild, as the sun rose behind the Mountains of the Moon that the clans found Lord Greystark´s host. Bearing the ancient banner of peace of the First Men, a small wooden construct made of weirwood branches, white as snow, with a red heart made of red leaves. Torrhen saw that as a good sign.
    At least 5 Clans had come down to meet him, but the most numerous ones seemed to be the red banners of the Burned Men.

    Lord Greystark drew his horse forward towards neutral ground. “I am Torrhen of Greystark!” He cried. “I am of the First Men just like you! From the North we have come to make war upon the Arryns!”
    “And what do you seek in our lands Wolf Lord?” The Burned Man asked. “I am Grima, son of Hallen of the Burned Men. The Arryns and their slaves are over the mountains and beyond the rivers, one of them is pursuing you as we speak.”
    “I seek you as friends, and allies.” Torrhen said. “The Kingdom of the North and my King offers his allegiance to the Clans of the Moon if you would help us in our war against the Vale.”
    Torrhen could see the greed in their eyes, it was a fire that he could stoke with his words.
    “Even as we speak, my King, King Domeric has fallen upon the Vale with fire and sword, roosting the Vale lords from their castles, bringing back the old ways and the heart trees.” He said.
    “And this King Domeric can bring back burned wood to life?” Grima asked as he spat on the ground. “The Arryns burned all the weirwoods when they broke us in the battle of Seven Stars.”
    “Perhaps not, but he can give you back lands and rights, the old way, and your old faith.” Torrhen countered. “We intend to cut the Arryns down, and their seven gods with them.”
    One of the Moon Brothers spoke next.
    “I am Rolf, son of Dolf.” The man said, a bone helmet covered his head, it looked like it came from a giant. “And when your King skins the Arryns, who shall rule the Vale for you?”
    A hard question, but Torrhen answered as best he could. “None is stronger than the old clans, but my King trusts that one of the great lords shall rule the Vale.”
    The Clansmen waited for him to continue, their silence thick as fog.
    “The Corbrays are an Andal House.” Grima said, with a snarl. “The first Corbray slew the true Lord of Heart´s Home with that wicked blade of his.”
    “If you can bring him out from behind his walls and from beneath his woman´s skirts.” One of the Stone Crows, a woman, yelled from behind, to the laughter of his companions.

    Torrhen knew what kind of men the Clansmen would follow, but it would be difficult to make this plan true.
    “Lord Royce was our first choice, but I daresay that he wont forsake the Arryns, he won them the Riverlands, and I seem to recall that they bent the knee to the first Arryn after the battle that you speak of.” Greystark said, he heard murmurs of acceptance amongst the Clans. “And he might just fall in the wars to come.”
    “House Redfort is our best hope.” Greystark continued. “An Old House from the Vale, descended from the First Men, and I know for a fact that they still keep to the Old Gods.”
    “The Red Hammer.” Rolf said. “He is one I´d follow into battle.”
    “And into the sack!” The same woman from before cried from the back, to more raucous laughter.
    “We could have peace on those terms.” Grima agreed, after looking around his Burned Men. “But the Falcon Crown still rests atop the Talon´s head, and his Queen still rules from the Eyrie.”
    “Not for long.” Rolf said. “She will have to fly down before winter traps her forever more inside those white walls.”
    “Leave Oswyn Arryn to us.” Torrhen said. “As we speak House Lannister prepares to counterattack his main force in Riverrun, and the King´s brother marches down on Seagard, if the brave Clans of the Moon ride with me, even Lord Royce shall fall before us.”

    Grima smiled at that.
    “You shall have our swords my Lord.” He said. “I only ask for Lamentation in return.”

    After Coldwater, the King had sent ravens back to the North and towards the Moat, to the North he sent word to his son that if able he was to send whatever men could be spared towards the invasion of the Vale, reinforcements were direly needed. And from the Moat he hoped that they could find Lord Greystark and Ramsay, from his new Lord he learned that Seagard and the Green Fork were under heavy pressure, but the Arryns were far from beaten, he wanted to instruct his forces into pushing the Arryns back across the Green Fork and into the oncoming Lannister attack from the West and hold that ground, when the Valemen realized that their King and Heir had fallen and with the rest of their army cut off from them, they would surrender, or so he trusted.

    He had wasted no time in marching out, with his current force he knew that he could not assail Gulltown or the Eyrie, but the rest of the Vale was ripe for the taking and already he had instructed Coldwater to send food up North towards the Wolf´s Den.

    His next target was Heart´s Home, the seat of House Corbray, from there they ruled the Fingers and the Snakewood and had once dared to defy the Arryns in a failed rebellion, an Andal House they had brought the Seven with them across the Sea and one blade from the Freehold. Lady Forlorn, black steel, slick as silk and deadlier than sin, wielded by Lyonel Corbray it had shone in the River Wars, slaying both Lords Blackwood and Bracken in the battle of Tumblestone, but Lord Lyonel had also taken an arrow wound and had been forced to retreat towards his castle, to recover. His main force remained on Riverrun, so he was unable to march out against the King, but already the Vale and the Queen Regent was aware of this invasion.

    The King surrounded Heart´s Home three days after the battle of Coldwater.

    The King was not in the position to enforce a long siege, but he was more than willing to offer generous terms to Lord Corbray. And Lord Lyonel knew it.

    Heart´s Home sat on the northern bank of the Black Serpent river, the coming winter had turned it´s head into ice, but it still made for a strong current; renovated after the Andal invasion, the river could be diverted to form a deep moat; the keep boasted of stout towers and a heavy iron and oak gate that guarded the Halls were the Everfire burned, that which give Heart´s Home it´s name. If he was intent on it, Lord Lyonel and his remaining 200 knights within the Castle could delay the King for a fortnight or harass his rear if he opted to pass them by. It was with a smile that Lord Corbray welcomed the sight of the peace banner meant to summon him to the King´s tent.

    Lord Corbray met the King beyond the waters of his moat, with Lady Forlorn clasped at his back, likewise King Domeric came fully armed at sat on his horse with Flesh Eater bare across his saddle.

    “So you are the one that´s got them all riled up, all their feathers tussled.” Lord Corbray said as he nudged his own horse forward.
    “Lord Corbray, I see that your vaunted sense of humour has not left you.” The King said. “I trust you see that you are outnumbered.”
    “But hardly surrounded my Lord.” Corbray answered. “The river is still open to us, and Gulltown its not quite far away. What I do see is that piece of steel in your hand. Shall I bring my Lady to dance?”
    “In another occasion it would be a duel for the ages.” King Domeric sheathed his blade. “I also bear dragonsteel; but I hope to gain an ally in House Corbray.”
    Lyonel laughed. “We only have been at war for 500 years I think, no reason to not be civil.”
    “No reason at all.” The King continued. “The Vale has bled, under my blade. The Bite and the Three Sisters are lost to you, my brother and Lord Greystark have Lord Royce on the run, and the Lannisters are getting ready to go falcon hunting.”
    “They may find Oswyn Arryn a tough prey, he has close to twenty thousand men with him.” Corbray said.

    “A tad less, after the battles with my men, the Moat has cost you dearly, and in a moon´s turn, your King may find himself homeless.” The King said.
    “The Eyrie? It cannot be taken by force.” Corbray said with a smile. “You have Grafton and the Bloody Gate to deal with, and this army of yours is not up to the task.”
    “I do not need to take the Eyrie.” Domeric countered. “The Gates of the Moon is far more vulnerable, I only need to hold it and the Eyrie will starve; as for Grafton he could have marched out to meet me already, he has not. And I trust that the Bloody Gate shall be occupied with other matters.”

    “Mychel Grafton has turned into a milk sop after he tested the North.” Corbray said, smirking. “But he will defend his King if it comes to it.”

    “And you? Will you keep to your King?” Domeric asked, the implication laid bare within them.
    “Osgood Arryn dishonoured my family when he ousted my father as guardian of the Gates of the Moon, Oswyn put a bastard in my sister´s belly.” The rage was palpable. “And even though I slew two of the riverlords in single combat and saved him more times than I can count, did he gave me lands in the Trident?” He spat to the dirt. “I hear that you intend to bring back the Old Gods into the Vale, a word of caution, let the smallfolk keep their faith and they will follow you more willingly.”

    “And you?” Domeric asked. “If I let you keep your sept, will you follow me?”

    “I do not care for Gods, give me what is owed to me and you shall have my Lady as well.” Corbray drew his sword.

    ps. So long after the last update, but I trust you enjoy this new chapter, I daresay that our biggest battle against the Arryns is fast approaching. Cheers!
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    And my other AAR: "The Black Serpent"

  2. #42
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: The Red King (A King of Rivers and Hills AAR)

    I enjoyed your new chapter! When Torrhen of Greystark thought of Longshot as an heirloom of his House, I wondered how much time he has left! I'm looking forward to seeing what will happen at the big battle against the Arryns.

  3. #43
    Solid Snake's Avatar Vicarius
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    Default Re: The Red King (A King of Rivers and Hills AAR)

    Chapter XXVII


    The Mountain Clans brought their strength from their stone keeps and ring forts, close to three thousand men, of all ages and sizes, riding small and sturdy garrons and wearing mismatched pieces of iron, leather and steel. Their numbers replenished Lord Greystark´s heavy horse, which had been mauled in the previous encounters and in the flight from the Neck, and together with the crannogmen they kept Lord Royce under close surveillance.
    “We have learned the location of the Falcon Prince.” Grima said one day to Torrhen. “The lions chased him out of Riverrun, and he is lying, wounded, in the Green Fork, the Arryns have built a fort there.
    “A worthy prize.” Torrhen said. “But a siege would not be in our best interests, not with Lord Royce close behind us.”
    “There is a ruined town, just north of it.” Yarra of the Stone Crows said. “Surrounded by marsh and wetland, winter hasn’t touched it yet.”
    “Aye, a thick set of trees right beside it.” Grima continued. “Could be a nasty ambush.”

    “We would need to draw the Falcon out of it´s hiding place, avoid getting surrounded.” Torrhen said, his brow furrowing. “Grima, you shall keep your men out of sight by the trees, I will draw young Lyn from his nest. Our foot shall deploy behind the town, use the wetlands to our advantage.” He said to the crannogmen. “I don’t want you to charge until the Arryns are fully committed.” He said to Grima. “ If the trap closes too soon we shall be routed, even if you can just touch them from your position, I want you to hold until they can not longer back down.”
    “We Burned Men know of war Wolf Lord, if your spears hold then Grima shall reap the Falcons with his spear.” Grima said, smiling, the burned half of his face contorting in a bizarre grimace.
    “Prince Lyn, Lord Royce and his eldest son.” Torrhen said, counting them off. “We best them here and Oswyn is isolated from his seat, we take the field tomorrow and the war is half won.” He looked at his men. “Winter is closing hard, and fast, let´s show these falcons how we dance in the snows.”

    As dawn broke the next day, lord Greystark rode out south towards the Green Fork with his diminished guard, Longshot in his hand to harass the bird in it´s cage. Grima and his men had taken position since the night before and from their site they could survey the entire field, Greystark had provided them with spare steel, swords and helms.

    “It is a fine blade Wolf Lord.” Grima had said at his new spear. “But I want Royce´s black steel.”
    “When we claim the day, you shall have your steel my Lord.” Torrhen said.

    “Lord Grima!” The Burned Man cried. “I like the sound of that. Just make sure you survive until we reach you.”

    “Keep it quiet my boys.” Grima said. He looked at Yarra out of his right eye. “And girls; when the Wolf comes howling back there will be blood and steel. But for now, hush my children.”

    Light and sun began to creep upon them from the east, Greystark´s men stood on the northern side of the ruined houses and granaries, facing south, towards the river. The cold dew upon the trees´ branches fell upon their new spears and helmets, the sun was rising, cold and distant, but beneath the canopy it could have been the dead of night.
    From the south, as the light marched westward, the sounds of battle could be heard, a column of smoke here and a battle cry there. Soon the horns of the North sounded the accorded call, the Wolf was marching back and battle was close at hand.

    Torrhen was riding hard back to his army, Longshot in his hand, dark with red. Behind him the thunder of hooves and the clank of armour; Lyn Arryn had taken the bait and with him marched the full strength of House Royce, Lord Yohn had almost taken him by surprise when his vanguard had reached the Green Fork without Greystark noticing him. And now the chase was on, Royce had correctly surmised that the old Wolf would not have dared to ride so far out without his army close beside him, and after the wild chase that the Lord of the Wolf´s Den had put him through the last days, he was not willing to let him escape one more time. With him were close to eight thousand men, including those that had stayed at the fort with Lyn, he knew that Greystark was outnumbered and that his supplies were dwindling fast, with his death the way back into the Vale would be secure and he could be free to deal with Domeric before Winter truly set in and block the mountain passes.

    When finally they arrived in the field that Torrhen had chosen they found the banners of Bolton and Greystark waiting for them, arrayed in a crescent of steel at the northern side of a ruined river town.
    He could barely spot Lord Greystark at the far side of the field.

    “We should split our forces your Highness, send out our cavalry to their far left and smash their infantry there, that is their weak flank.” Royce said to his Prince.

    “Only infantry.” Lyn said as he inspected the enemy. “And even so, this old man eluded you so far?” He said with a slight smile. “Their archers have a high position on that hill there, our men will take losses. And whatever horse Greystark has he is massing them on his right. I say we both take that side my Lord, when we smash him the rest of these savages will crumble.”
    The trumpets of House Arryn blared in the cold day, and their ranks began to fill the field, the blue and white banners of the falcon kings swam before the northern eyes, the sun stealing bright dashes from their armour and spears. From Grima´s position it was like if a sea of steel had come forth to do battle against them, from afar he could spot his prize: Lord Royce was taking the field´s centre, Lamentation, the famed blade of House Royce dancing in the sun.

    And not far behind him rode the Prince of the Vale, firstborn son of Oswyn the Talon, Lyn Arryn, a man of barely nineteen years, surrounded by the cream of the Vale, the finest chivalry in all of Westeros, his blue steel blade bare in the sky.

    Even though the Prince had massed most of his force towards their left flank, Lord Royce had sent some of his scouts and outriders to prove the Bolton´s right flank, and they, came just within striking distance of Grima and his Burned Men, close enough to see the white in their eyes and to taste the breath of their horses.

    “Quiet…” Grima hushed. “Quiet, this is not our time yet my children.” He said as he dismounted to calm his horse and prevent it from giving away their position.

    The first clash came as this scouting force crashed against Greystark´s shield wall, what seemed at first like a weak flank proved to be a stalwart wall against the initial charge.

    “Lit them up as they come!” Torrhen cried to his archers. “Aim for the horses!” He instructed as he tried to even the field for his own men, he was badly outnumbered; but then the field began to play in his favour, just as he had intended, the river town stole the enemy´s momentum as they had to march through it´s ruins and debris, and beyond it, a deep marsh caught many a horse and many a gallant knight never to release it again; the Reeds and their ilk had set a number of stakes and pits amongst the field, and now the trap was sprung, horses broke their legs, knights broke their necks; all the while under fire from Greystark archers.

    When Lyn sent his archers forward to counter this withering rain, Torrhen saw his opportunity, isolated from the rest of the army the lightly armed archers were a prime target, and with a cry of battle Lord Greystark rode out towards the enemy.

    “The Wolf Lord rides again.” Yara said to Grima, from the other side of the field. “Shall we join him?”
    “The trap is not complete yet.” Grima pointed out. “ Their infantry is not yet fully committed. We wait.”

    Greystark trampled the archers beneath his horse, Longshot cutting down men around him from neck to navel, his cavalry running wild amongst Arryn lines. Seeing this unfold Lyn turned back around to meet him, as the rest of his men waded through mud and blood to reach the battle line.

    Lyn and his knights clashed with Greystark´s guards, Torrhen turned around in his horse trying to locate the young Prince, cutting down knights from House Belmore, House Waynwood and House Templeton; just as young Arryn plunged deep amongst the knights of the Wolf´s Den.

    The two men found each other, blades drawn, Torrhen waited for him with Longshot at his side, but Lyn did not make him wait for long, spurring his horse forward the Falcon met the Wolf, and their steel sang. Torrhen was the stronger man and Longshot made it´s dent on the falcon´s armour, but Lyn was younger and faster, and he could evade most of Longshot´s strikes.
    The men were piling up all around them, death was soaring all over the battle field, but the rearguard of House Arryn was nearing Torrhen´s position and Greystark realized he was close to being surrounded and after Arryn´s steel made his shield arm rang yet again with a sting of pain he shoved Lyn away from him and ordered his remaining guards back towards their own lines.
    Lyn set out to pursue the Wolf Lord but the hidden traps of the marsh slowed him down and Greystark managed to rout some of Arryn´s foot that were pressuring his right flank.

    In the front line, the battle raged like a tidal wave, back and forth it went, but Greystark´s line was holding, despite the pressure of the Arryn´s numbers, so Royce and Lyn decided to increase the pressure in the centre and with a new challenge from their trumpets they made their way towards the front.

    “With me men!” Arryn yelled, his arm red and armour red with blood, some of it, his own. “To me! We break them now!”

    “There it is.” Grima said, looking at the field from his vantage point in the forested hill. The full might of the Arryns had been set in motion and the northern line was beginning to buckle under the weight. From afar he spotted Lord Yohn and his dark blade twirling and slashing in the middle of the battle line.

    “Now boys!” He said as he mounted his horse and donned his helm. “Sound our horns! And let them meet our blades!”
    From the entire forest a cry of defiance sprang forth, that travelled like a whisper that few heard down in the field. But the horns, the horns of bone and bronze and iron, the music from the mountains poured like a thunder storm upon the Vale. And then, they heard it.

    “For the Wolf Lord!” Grima said as his horse began to pick up speed. “And for the Mountains!”
    His men, close to three thousand riders and berserkers howled with him and the Arryns turned to watch this snake of bone and iron coming for them, blood and poison on it´s fangs.

    The men from both sides felt the ground began to shake as the Clansmen made their way towards them, the Arryn foot was already compromised and with both Royce and the Prince committed to fighting in the centre there was no one to lead the rest of the army as Grima and his men clashed with them in the right flank.

    Back in the centre both Yohn Royce and his son were trying to break Greystark´s line with all their might, with Lyn Arryn close behind them. But Greystark had deployed his men with care and the lines were managing to hold, all the while the archers from the neck and the mountains were pouring steel amongst the Arryn lines.

    “Hold! Just a little longer lads!” The sergeants cried. “Help is coming! Hold!”
    The ground was slick with blood and gore, it was easy to slip and break your neck or fall into your foe´s sword. The spearmen were trying to maintain the line, and as the horns of the Clansmen sung their song from afar, they redoubled their efforts.

    “Keep at them men!” Torrhen cried, he had managed to return to his own lines after breaking the Arryn archers. “Hold a little longer! Our Blood!”

    His men did him proud, and as the Arryn´s right began to crumble under the Burned Men and the Moon Brothers, his own infantry pushed onwards to pressure Royce´s position. Soon afterwards Morton Royce, Lord Royce´s eldest son and heir, fell to northmen spears. And soon it was only Lord Yohn with his last guards holding his position, Lamentation flying all around him, dark steel and dark blood, he knew how to wield Valyrian steel, that was certain, but his own numbers were dwindling and more and more of his men were routing and behind them, Grima and his red banners.

    Lyn caught up with Lord Royce as men kept falling around them and the Bolton banners seemed ever closer.
    “The battle is lost my Lord.” Arryn said, his own helmet battered and his shield gone. “We must try to regroup and cross the river.”
    “That would leave the Vale exposed!” Royce responded. “We cant lose this ground. The Boltons…”
    “Domeric Bolton is already in the Vale, yes.” Lyn said. “But either we lose the ground or we lose our lives, we must rejoin with my father.”
    “Sound the retreat!” Royce said as he turned around trying to find his son, one last time. “Back to the river! With me!”
    The rest of the Arryn men began to either surrender or kept running from the Clansmen. A small knot of knights followed their lords back South, but Greystark and the rest of his cavalry followed them.

    Soon, they caught up with them and Greystark looked for Lyn Arryn once again.
    “Boy! Boy! Come and face me!” He said as he turned towards him.
    Lyn bit his lip and drew his sword once more. Longshot found him time and time again as he tried to keep away from it´s edge.

    Yohn Royce tried to reach his Prince to save him, but he had problems of his own. Grima and his Burned Men had joined the fray and they were looking for him.

    With a cry of defiance Royce threw himself at the incoming riders, his steel a blur amongst his hands.

    “Leave him to me!” Grima said to his men as they gave Lord Royce a wide berth. Grima threw his lance towards Royce´s horse, crippling it and throwing Yohn of his saddle. But soon the Lord of Runestone was on his feet again. Grima dismounted and drew his old battle axe, eager for combat.

    “So, you clansmen have thrown their lot in with the wolves.” The old man said in disgust. “Bunch of thieves and bastards you are.” He spat to the ground, more blood than spit to be sure.

    “It was the Arryns that stole the Vale!” Grima said. “And you cowards knelt before them, we take back what is ours, but for now, I shall take your blade my Lord.” He twirled his axe before him.
    “You shall have it.” Royce said as he rushed him.

    Blood and steel followed, sparks flew between both men, Grima felt the sting of Lamentation but his pain tolerance and determination kept him going, he had felt the kiss of fire, a little steel was nothing for him. His axe was heavier and Royce was old and tiring, and not long after he managed to cleave Royce´s sword arm, the blade fell to the ground. Royce was nothing if not defiant.

    “Do your worst.” He spat the words to Grima, who raised his axe and buried it in the old man´s chest, breaking the runes of his armour.

    “I yield! I yield!” Lyn cried as Greystark kept hacking away at him. “My Lord, I yield.” He said as he threw his blade to the ground.

    Greystark hesitated for just a second, he almost pretended that he hadn’t had heard the boy, but honour compelled him and he sheathed his sword and ordered his men to seize him.

    Today had been the bloodiest day in the war, with ease, close to eight thousand men had met their fate, most of them from House Arryn, both members of House Royce present were slain and back in Runestone sat a girl of two years as new Lady of Runestone, Lyn Arryn had been taken prisoner and his fate was uncertain. There was no other army from the Vale between the mountains and the Green Fork and with winter setting in it would be a daunting task indeed for the Talon to try to make his way back to the Vale, rumours and scouts already claimed that Riverrun had fallen and that the Falcon was flying east with the Lions close in pursuit.

    “By the Flame, now this is a sword.” Grima said as he inspected Lamentation. “Wolf Lord! We have won!”

    “I see that you have already claimed your trophy my Lord.” Torrhen said, exhaustion setting in his old bones. “You have proven worthy of our trust. Winter is almost upon us.”
    “Aye, it is my Lord, so many dead are fortunate not to feel it.” Grima said. “The trees and flames will be grateful.”
    Torrhen only nodded, as his eyes surveyed the field and contemplated his work.

    Ps. Well, that was quite a battle, the war its reaching its climax but there is quite a few ways to go from here. Hope you enjoy it!
    Do check my AAR "The Proud Blood of Germania"
    Formerly known as JerichoOnlyFan.
    And my other AAR: "The Black Serpent"

  4. #44
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: The Red King (A King of Rivers and Hills AAR)

    Quite a battle indeed! Lord Yohn's defiant stand, Grima's decisive action and Greystark's moment of hesitation all stood out, for me.

  5. #45
    Solid Snake's Avatar Vicarius
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    Default Re: The Red King (A King of Rivers and Hills AAR)

    Back in my day this was called a tease, and was often frowned upon, but in these current times I thought it was best to let you know that we have a big chapter incoming, big battle, big politics, the works.
    Belated, Happy New year to all!!
    Do check my AAR "The Proud Blood of Germania"
    Formerly known as JerichoOnlyFan.
    And my other AAR: "The Black Serpent"

  6. #46
    Dismounted Feudal Knight's Avatar my horse for a unicode Administrator
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    Default Re: The Red King (A King of Rivers and Hills AAR)

    Same to you! Good to see you about, I'll keep an eye out...
    With great power, comes great chonky dragons to feed enemies of the state. --Targaryens?
    Spoiler for wait what dragons?

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

    I'm looking forward to the next chapter!

  8. #48
    Solid Snake's Avatar Vicarius
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    Default Re: The Red King (A King of Rivers and Hills AAR)

    Chapter XVIII

    As the Birds Fly

    Days before Lord Greystark met his match against Lord Royce, Ramsay Fireblood, Lord of Torrhen´s Square had finally reached Seagard; the ancient seat of House Mallister, it had been subdued by the Falcon´s Claws early in the war; as most of the Arryn´s force in the Riverlands had been diverted towards Royce´s host, he found the castle´s garrison almost depleted.
    The Knight of Ninestars, Symond Templeton had remained behind to keep the fords over the Green River from falling into Northmen hands, but he knew he was badly outnumbered, Royce´s son had fallen a few days prior with most of his army, and the rivermen had proven fickle as always, near to half of their levies had turned their cloak against the Arryns and there were a hundred bands and parties raiding the Arryns all the way from Oldstones to the God´s Eye. And the Ironborn had decided to turn up as well, Cape Kraken had not gained that name for nothing, and for the past fortnight Lord Greyjoy and Lord Goodbrother had sent scores of longships to pressure the coast and even they had attempted to lay siege to Seagard.
    It was after driving the raiders from Pyke back to the sea that Ramsay fell upon him.

    Caught outside his walls and too far to reach them without being run down by Ramsay´s horse, he knew there was only one choice, to try and hold and send word to Lord Royce that the Flayed Men were now deep into the Riverlands.

    He picked out his riders, nimble men with fast horses, with instructions to ride hard towards Royce´s host, to the King back in the God´s Eye and to the Bloody Gate, the Vale was in peril and he hoped their armies could be mustered in time. With a grim look he ordered his men into position, trusting in his pikemen to hold the line as long as they could.

    Knowing he held the ground and the numbers Ramsay rode out with his men to overwhelm and harass Templeton´s rear, his own infantry bolstered by the levies from Flint´s Finger would hold the centre against the diminished Arryn battleline.

    The battle was fast and brutal, the Arryns held themselves well but the numbers were far too lopsided, gathering his last knights, the Knight of Ninestars plunged his horse into a fist of steel to break the Boltons

    But the line of spear and shield of the North kept their ground, and the charge lost momentum and was cut down to the man, Ramsay picked out the last stragglers before the sun set.

    Falcon banners and silver moons, and black stars littered the field, Seagard could be seen in the distance and Ramsay pressed his advantage, when the remaining men atop the walls saw the Flayed Man of the Dreadfort they quickly surrendered the keep to the Boltons. It was a group of rivermen that received Ramsay and his entourage as they crossed Seagard´s moat.
    “Well met, my Lord.” Their leader said, bowing his head towards Ramsay. “We must thank you for ridding us from the Falcons.”
    “Thanks are not needed in war.” Ramsay said as he dismounted. “But I welcome it, we have battled through three hard fought battles, my men need the rest.”
    “Seagard is yours my Lord.” The man, who was named Bowen said as they made their way across the court.
    “I take it that the Talon…culled the Mallisters?” Ramsay asked, not without some measure of compassion.
    “Aye, my Lord. Lord Patrek fell with the Hammer of Justice and lord Maron fell when Corbray took these walls.” Bowen said, a sad tone in his voice. “And most of our men were pressured into battle, against our own folk!” He spat on the grounds. “Curse those Arryns and their Vale!”
    “Well, then I hope we can bring you some small comfort, my brother, the King in the North has brought Fire and Blood to the heart of the Vale.” Ramsay said. “Your people shall join our Kingdom, if you´d like, we shall take only volunteers and there shall be gold for your food and roof.”

    In months past, Lord Ramsay would not have hesitated to put the castle to the sword, but his brother had ordered him to show restraint or the rivermen would harry him just as they had done with Oswyn Arryn.
    “Thank you my Lord.” Bowen said. “There are no more Mudds if the tales from Oldstones are true, and Corbray and Royce killed Lord Bracken and Blackwood, the Kingdom of Rivers and Hills is no more.”
    “It may be far away, but only the North can fight in Winter and Snows.” Ramsay said. “Join us and I shall bring justice to your folk, rid the Trident from their presence and avenge your King.”
    Ramsay´s force had grown with the levies of rivermen that filled it´s ranks, young boys that had been forced by the Arryns into battle now took spear and sword willingly to reclaim their land. Rain mixed with snow had fallen upon the lands of the Trident for the last three days, and news were hard to come by, but a rider from the Green Fork had reached Seagard and Ramsay learned of Greystark´s victory against Royce, the news of the Lord of Runestone´s death gave cheer to the smallfolk of the castle.

    Ramsay had also learned that the Lannisters had indeed pushed back against Oswyn and his host had been broken in the Golden Tooth, first he had fled into Riverrun but Lord Serrett and Westerling soon pressured the castle and Oswyn was forced to flee by boat down the Red Fork, and was rumoured to be hiding in the once great Keep of House Darry, near the God´s Eye.
    It seemed that the power of the Vale upon the Trident was broken, but the rivermen were adamant in reclaiming Oldstones, the ancient seat of House Mudd, where the Hammer of Justice had fought it´s last battle. And Ramsay knew that he had to keep the rivermen on his side and so when the rains had calmed for a while he set out towards the fallen castle.
    Oldstones had been called so since eons ago, once it had been a stronghold of the Children of the Forest or so the scions of House Mudd claimed, it had been on pair with Moat Cailin once, and for centuries it could have been considered a ruin, a shadow of it´s past; ever since the First Men had crossed the Arm of Dorne and brought iron and fire to Westeros. after years of war the great fortress had been taken, but even as a ruin it was far larger and stronger than any other castle in Westeros at the time, and since then those that had dared to lay claim to the Crown of the Trident had sought Oldstones as their seat of power. And so it had been for centuries, House Mudd had held sway over all the riverlands from the Broken Chair of Oldstones until the Arryns had flown down from the mountains.
    Oldstones sat right at the north edge of the Tumblestone, the river was still running fast and strong and in some places had overflowed its banks. Bowen had joined Ramsay´s host, along with a hundred boys from Seagard, and all along the march dozens and scores of rivermen had joined them, with pitch and spear and even nets as weapons. The tale of the Revenge of the North had flown across the Trident and men were flocking to their banners even if it meant bending the knee to the Flayed Man, in their eyes King Domeric had come down to flay and skin the Arryns in their nests.
    The great castle was built of a heavy, shiny black stone, tumbled over and cracked in some places, some of it´s towers had been torn asunder by an ancient force and most of it´s halls were without roof. But the inhabited part was heavily reinforced, there had been no catapult ever built that could put a dent in it´s walls and it´s main gate could withstand any battering ram, it had been by night and by treachery that the castle had fell to Royce and his men.

    “Not more than 300 men remain inside my Lord.” Rem, one of Bowen´s men said to Ramsay. “Ill equipped and leaderless.”
    “Three hundred men in such a castle could wreak havoc among us.” Ramsay said. He had been awed by the sheer size of the fortress, at it´s prime it must have been larger than Winterfell, Godswood and all included. “Does anyone know of any hidden way in?” He asked.
    “The river gate.” Bowen said. “Southern face of the castle, a carved tunnel goes right down to the Tumblestone, it´s small and certainly flooded with rains, but I daresay no one is watching it, it leads right to the main courtyard.”
    “How long is this tunnel?” Ramsay asked.
    “Perhaps half a mile long, perhaps more.” Bowen answered.
    “What say you lot?” He asked to the men beside him. “Any of you care to go for a swim?”
    More than fifty volunteers stepped forward, as rivermen, they were strong swimmers and not afraid of drowning.
    “You know this better than I do.” Ramsay said. “You can not be burdened by steel or leather, and only a knife or a net shall be your weapons, but I know that you will deliver us that gate, go! For Oldstones! And for Arryn´s blood!”
    It had been a tense two hours, as the moon raised in the east, the forest and the castle kept silent, a few torches dancing a top the Main Gate. At last, some of the torches fell down, a few muffled cries of alarm and the slow creaking of the doors as they opened forward.
    The army cheered as they surged forth and raced to gain the gates. Ramsay rode in with his riders, his rivermen were dancing around the Arryn knights, snaring them in their nets and stabbing them with knife and trident. Ramsay dismounted and threw himself into the fray, Bowen and his men close behind him.
    The battle did not last long, and soon the last of the Arryns had been thrown into the river. Bowen and his men celebrated and cheered into the night. Their King and their Old Gods had been avenged.
    “Oswyn Arryn is still at large. And the Eyrie still stands.” Ramsay said. “Will your people join our banner? Bow before our King?”
    “Your Red King does aspire to greatness.” Bowen said with a smile. “The North, the Vale and the Trident? No King has ever laid claim to such a vast land and to so many people. And yet he is making it happen. I can´t speak for all the other castles and Houses in the Riverlands but my sword and the swords of my men are yours my Lord.”

    Back in the Vale the Red King had left Heart´s Home with more men behind him than he had when he landed on the Fingers, remnants and scions of the First Men, driven into the deepest forests and the tallest ravines by the Arryns they had become more and more isolated over the centuries, old Houses turning into clansmen and raiders, but now the cold winds were rising and these men, who had been deemed barbarians by the conquering Andals had come forth to pledge their allegiance to their new King.

    And where some might have assumed that the Valemen would throw every able men into his path, the Red King had found more allies than foes as he made way into the Eyrie, a top the Giant´s Lance; news reached him of rebellion and strife all over the Vale, the clansmen of old had come forward from their hidden keeps and had brought blood and flame to the Knights of the Vale, Gulltown´s fleet had been burned at anchor, Runestone was surrounded by the Stone Crows, Lady Waynwood had been ambushed with all her sons as they attempted to muster their men into action, the Bloody Gate had been blockaded by debris, rock and wood thrown together by the Moon Brothers. The Andals had thought of the clansmen as a mere nuisance since the Conquest, but the crows had come home and they were pecking at the Falcon´s holdings with a vengeance.

    Lord Lyonel´s “betrayal” had sown doubt into some of the Vale Lords, and House Hunter, Belmore and Templeton and some others had decided to hold to their own castles and retain their men to their walls, willing to see who would come out on top when the snows had settled

    It was so that Domeric reached the Gates of the Moon at the foot of the Giant´s Lance, the winter seat of House Arryn and a strong castle in its own right yet nowhere near as impregnable as the Eyrie. In the past few days and weeks the Arryn´s court had gradually moved down from their peaks to the Vale floor below, and inside the castle walls now resided Oswyn´s Queen and his two daughters. Its granaries and cellars were sure to be filled with the reserves for winter, so a siege would not be forthcoming. Domeric intended to seize the castle with its precious occupants and force the Vale into submission, the wavering loyalty of some of it´s lords gave him notion that they were looking to strike a deal after the end of the war.

    “I knew the Gates were strong, but I did not know that its wall was quite so tall.” The King said to Lord Corbray as his forces made camp before the castle, it´s ramparts flying the Blue and White of House Arryn along a string of grey and black banners. “Whose banners are those?”

    “Those are the candles of Lord Waxley.” Lord Lyonel said. “Light in the Darkness indeed.” He said spitting to the ground. “A man of six and sixty winters.”
    “I can see why you took offense at your father´s demotion.” The King said. “I was hoping to have crossed paths with Lord Redfort by now.”

    “He still could fall upon us.” Corbray surmised looking around. “This is a plain field, with no strong position to hold, besides the Gates of course.”

    “Our camp shall be fortified.” Domeric said, he turned to one of his new followers, Duma of the Night Stalkers. “I want your men to scout for Lord Redfort, I wont be caught by surprise, not when we are so close. While we wait, send an envoy to the castle.” He said to one of his captains. “It may be that Lady Arryn sees reason and surrenders herself to me.”

    It had seemed at first that the Queen would not lower herself to parlay with him, but as the sun set, the Gates creaked open, a stream of knights poured forward, bearing the banners of Lord Waxley and of the Arryns. Lord Edmund riding besides the Queen, Lady Meera Arryn.

    Lord Corbray joined the King as they met the Queen´s entourage in neutral ground.

    “My Queen.” Said Lord Lyonel, bowing before Lady Meera.

    He was met with an humourless laugh. “Am I still? Your Queen? It seems like you have taken a new master.” He turned to Domeric. “You should know my Lord, this one is quite fickle, if he tells you the snow is white, he is lying.”

    “I should take your head where you stand, traitor!” Cried Lord Waxley.

    “Please my dear Lord, do try. My Lady has quite a thirst.” Lyonel said with a cold smile.
    “Your Grace.” The King said with a slight nod of his head. “I trust you see that your position is desperate.”

    “What I see is an army of savages, raiders, and infidels.” The Queen said. “Soon to perish before my walls.”
    “It seems that the latest news haven’t reached you my Lady.” Domeric said. “Most of your Lords have deserted your cause, Runestone and Gulltown are surrounded. Lord Royce died on the field of battle and your King is in full retreat back East, but I swear to you he shall never reach the Vale. Your House´s rule is over.”
    “And my son has fallen as well, I know.” The Queen said with a grim smile. “But yet my King and husband still lives and he will rid the Vale of your presence.”
    “Only if he can reach me my Lady, and the lions have bled him twice on the field already. There is no way back up here, my men hold the rivers and if he tries to march back east it will be his undoing.” The King pointed to the Castle behind her. “I seem to recall you have two daughters still, surrender your castle and crown and I swear no harm will come to them.”
    “And if I resist you shall take their lives?” The Queen asked. “I gathered as much, my Gates are strong, and my Lord of Redfort still keeps his faith.”
    “Ah yes, the Red Hammer.” Lord Corbray said. “We had thought he would be waiting for us here. It seems lord Redfort is late in coming to your rescue.”

    For a second Queen Meera´s expression faltered. “When he arrives he shall bring me your heads. As a gift”
    King Domeric nodded, there would be no surrender. “Perhaps when your husband does reach the Vale I shall have a gift for him. The skins of his daughters to keep him warm in the cold.”

    Domeric´s plan relied on the Red Hammer coming to him, to do battle or to swear fealty; only the Gods knew, but Lord Redfort had to come forth before the Red King. If Domeric stormed the Gates of the Moon and took lady Arryn and her daughters as hostages, all of the Vale would rally to Redfort to release their Queen, worse if he slayed them the retaliation might be even worse and any chance of bringing the Vale into the fold would be burnt to cinders.

    No, Redfort had to be complicit and turn his cloak before the Gates of the Moon fell, to forsake the Arryns before Winter closed off the High Road. After cold days and even colder nights, the Burned Men reported to the King that Hugh Redfort, the Red Hammer had come forth from his keep with seven thousand men with him, remnants of house Royce and Grafton, Belmore and Waynwood, had put together this last army to expel the northmen from their lands.
    Domeric gave a sigh of relief, there were almost other five thousand men in the Bloody Gate, but the clansmen had brought down rocks, timber and boulders to block their way back into the Vale and had managed to bleed their commander: the last scion of House Hunter. But seven thousand still outnumbered Domeric by a slight margin, so he instructed his clans to harass him as they only knew how, by night and with flame, with speed and fury.

    Snows kept pouring down from the heavens, the northmen and clansmen were of course far more suited for this kind of warfare, but still an army could not wait out a large siege in the snows.
    “To meet us, Redfort needs to march straight to us, he won´t be able to hide, he needs his Queen to see him so that she can send whatever men she has behind her walls.” He said as he inspected the perimeter with Lord Corbray. “Our camp is well defended, the clans surround him even if he doesn´t know it yet and when we beat him, the Vale shall be ours.”
    “And what makes you so certain that he shall come to your side?” Corbray asked as he saw men sharpening stakes and fletching arrows.

    “He keeps to the Old Gods.” Domeric said. “When he sees that we can reconcile the clansmen with the Vale, and open our faith to all, while the kneelers keep their seven gods, when he understands that the Arryns brought war into this land and that the North just defended itself, when he sees that he could be the only reliable guardian of the last daughter of Oswyn Arryn.” The King shrugged. “I trust that he will see reason.”

    “You intend for the Arryns to live on?” Corbray asked. “I had expected far more from you, the tales they tell…”
    “The tales are true my Lord, but in the North the last Starks are under strict surveillance with my son as guardian. Oswyn and his son´s life are forfeit, that’s certain, but the Vale shall accept Lord Redfort far more readily if he has a young falcon in his cage.” The King said.

    Corbray laughed. “As long as you keep your word to me your Grace, you wont have trouble from me in accepting this Lord Redfort as my new liege.”

    It took other five days over heavy snows for the Red Hammer to arrive.

    The Red Hammer offered battle as soon as he arrived, close to seven thousand strong, diminished by the clans, and made mostly of peasant levies, but with a core of strong knights at it´s centre.

    At dawn, the Red King saw the Arryn host unfurl in front of him, the trumpets from the Gates of the Moon greeting their arrival and without a doubt Lord Waxley was readying his host to march upon the northmen.
    “Send riders to Lord Redfort, let´s hope we can avoid some bloodshed.” The King instructed to his sergeants.

    “Small chance of that.” Lord Corbray said as he honed his blade. “My Lady Forlorn will quench its thirst before the sun reaches it´s peak.”

    A small cadre of riders poured forth from both hosts, the banners of the Flayed Man and the ravens of House Corbray on one side and the Red Castle of the Redforts and the Moon and Falcon of House Arryn on the other.

    About ten paces from each other the King spurred his horse forward to deliver his terms.

    “Lord Redfort.” He greeted him. “You have kept me waiting for far too long, I was expecting you sooner.”

    “Do you like the sight my Lord?” Redfort said, his personal hammer that gave him his nickname could be seen poking from his back. “Do you wish to surrender? My King will allow you to leave in peace if you leave this traitor in my care.”

    Lyonel Corbray snickered at the veiled threat. “We were actually hoping for your surrender Lord Hugh, the war is over, the Talon has been plucked of his feathers and his men. House Royce is no more, and the Bloody Gate is closed.”
    Hugh spat on the floor. “My Hammer shall be red with your blood Corbray, we always knew you were a fickle traitor.”
    “Yes.” Corbray said. “I always planned to turn my cloak, I only gained the King two castles and saved his live only three times in the riverlands. Only a blind man or a far more sadistic man than I would continue the war at this time. Winter has come, and the Arryns wont survive it.”

    “My Queen still lives, and her daughters.” Redfort countered. “And the Vale shall rise to defend them.”
    “I guess the Vale now excludes House Waynwood, Belmore, Templeton and others.” Domeric said. “I know for a fact that they remain in their castles. Lord Grafton, even though Gulltown is not under siege has remained behind his walls. No one wishes to fight for the losing side.”

    The King looked behind him, pointing at the clansmen that rode with him, mostly Burned Men and Moon Brothers.
    “The old clans are with me, their blood and kin the same as mine, and your own my Lord.” Domeric continued. “We share the same Gods, my men have told me that there are new heart trees sprouting in the forests were for ages past there had been none. I aim to reconcile the Vale with the Old Gods, no longer shall they be pursued by their beliefs, my subjects shall keep whatever Gods they chose to kneel to.”
    At that the Burned Men let out a cheer, chanting Domeric´s name. The King could see the doubt seeping into Lord Redfort´s eyes.

    “The Arryns brought war into our lands, for close to five hundred years your Kings have attempted to march north to breach the Moat, for decades the Wolf´s Den has been at risk from your fleets. Oswyn Arryn invaded the Trident without provocation and ended House Mudd, that claimed its lineage since the First Men of old. We have defended ourselves and now Winter has come for House Arryn.” The King said with a vibrant voice.

    “We have all sworn oaths.” Redfort said, looking for a second at Lord Corbray. “My oath compels me to defend my Queen, my own wife…”
    “Is an Arryn yes.” The King cut across him. “From the lower branches, but still an Arryn, all the better. Battle will only leave blood upon the snow and I am certain of my victory. If I am forced to take that castle by storm I shall leave no survivors; however if there was a man, who kept to the Old Gods, who was a proven battle commander and that would swear to keep and guard the last of the Arryns in his care, a man that I could trust to rule the Vale in my name…”

    “What you are proposing…” Redfort said, with just the slightest hint of ambition in his eyes. “No, you will not triumph on this field, we have the numbers.”
    The King shrugged. “Perhaps, but if I happen to win, I trust that you gave my proposal further thought.”
    “If its war you want my lord, you shall have it.” Lord Corbray said drawing his blade.
    With that the meeting was over, and the armies marched into position.

    “I am not sure if I can trust you to battle Lord Redfort and leave him alive.” The King said to Corbray.

    Lyonel only laughed in response.
    “You shall command of the rearguard, keep that old Waxley off my back and bring me his head when the battle is done.” Domeric said as his men formed up beside him.

    “A small prize, but you shall have it my King.” Corbray said as he rode off to gather his men.
    Lord Redfort brought his army forward and soon battle was joined.

    The King in the North had the ground and the advantage, Lord Redfort had to march towards him in order to liberate the Arryns and stakes and pits had been set across the field in front of the Bolton´s lines. The King only needed to wait and hold his ground while the enemy crawled towards his position. Still, he was outnumbered, but he counted on his clansmen to harry Redfort´s rear and flanks.

    Lord Redfort, the Red Hammer, surveyed the field from a top his horse, his armour, made of red steel glinted in the sun, he could see from afar Lord Waxley´s men getting ready to sally forth, even from his position he could spot the King´s position, his army was set in good order and full of battle hardened veterans; while most of his men were green boys from the fields.

    As his forces advanced it was clear that the field was littered with traps and hidden perils, forcing his men to keep together and hemmed them towards the centre, where Bolton´s shield wall stood the strongest. All the while the northern bowmen began to pick their targets and set loose volley after volley against the Valemen.

    The Red Hammer send forth his own archers to counter the North´s volleys with his own. Then from the flanks came the Burned Men and the King´s own guard, riding hard to take the Redfort´s archers in their rear.

    As the men advanced, the archers of the Vale withdrew further so that their own knights could join the fray. In the front line both armies clashed with an icy clash, it was hard going for the Arryns, still under fire and marching up a slope to meet the enemy´s spears and swords. The men from the Dreadfort stood firm under pressure and their experience began to show.

    On the flanks the men from the Redfort were beginning to crumble as the Burned Men on the right and the Moon Brothers on the left kept hacking away at them. Chipping away their numbers and keeping them from forming up as they rode back and forth constantly between their lines.

    Hindered by the snows and the pit traps the Knights from the Vale had been slow to bring up the rear, but at last the Red Horn sounded across the field as Hug Redfort and his knights thundered to meet the clansmen.

    The knights of the Vale had failed against the shield and spear walls from the North, however now they have caught up the clansmen, their enemies of old, and they were far better trained and equipped; and their training put them way above the men from the Mountains of the Moon.

    The King himself had to ride towards the field to save his left flank, dangerously close to buckling under the steel fist of the Hammer´s charge, drawing Flesh Eater he cut through the Arryn lines looking for Hugh in the thick of the melee.

    The Red Hammer found him first however as he felt his shield arm splintering under the weight of the heavy hammer of Hugh the Red. With a cry of pain he turned around to meet his foe, his sword finding the Red´s armour many times but failing to pierce it. Hugh trusted in his armour for protection, as he wore no shield to better wield his weapon of choice, he whirled his hammer with both hands and drove it hard against the King in an horizontal arc. Domeric ducked under the blow, but lost his balance on the saddle and fell to the ground. The Knights and clansmen kept fighting around them. Hugh the Red dismounted to meet his foe.

    “A true knight, even to the last my Lord.” The King said as he recovered his stance and holding his sword with his right arm, his left arm kept close to his chest.
    “The last?” Hugh asked. “You are mistaken my Lord, you are wounded.”

    “That may be, but the field seems to be mine.” The King said as he circled his foe. “I hear my horns across the battle line, and I hear your own men crying for mercy, your knights may take this flank, but the battle is over.”

    “If you die…” The Red Hammer said as he feinted with his weapon, the King keeping himself out of reach. “The war is over.”
    “And you save your Queen, perhaps.” Domeric said, panting, his arm felt like it was on fire. “But there is no accounting for Lord Corbray and for the Clans. The fire that has spread through the Vale can not be stopped, I hear that there are weirwoods taking root where there had been none for centuries. The Old Gods will have their due.”

    Hugh hesitated for just a second, he had heard the same rumours, and even his own heart tree, back in the Redfort had produced more of it´s red sap, enough to produce a small lake of red around it.
    “However if you surrender now, you shall keep your Princess, as a ward, and have all the Valemen, both those of the Seven and those of the forest under your rule. Hugh Redfort! Lord of the Vale!” Domeric said as he parried another of Hugh´s blows.

    Hugh kept pushing forward with his attack, Domeric barely keeping out of reach and deflecting whatever blows he could. For the King seemed like an eternity but it was not even two minutes, but as he ran out of breath and falling over some dead man he awaited for the Hammer´s blow, never coming. As he regained his feet he saw his men all around him, the Bloody Company bringing the broken banners of House Arryn, House Redfort and House Waxley before Lord Hugh.

    “It seems you were right my Lord.” The Red Hammer said, as he put his weapon to the ground. “The field is yours.”
    “And now I wonder.” The King said, sheathing his blade. “What will you do my Lord? Will you force my hand to deliver lady Arryn a grim message, or shall you put and end to this war?”
    Hugh Redfort sighed as he took off his helm, his red mane flowing down his shoulders, and not even the King could help but think: “Now, there´s a man worth killing.”
    He stared at Redfort as the man thought over his next move, but everyone already knew what he would do next.
    Afterwards, the King received Lord Corbray on his pavilion. Lady Forlorn was weeping blood into the snow, and Lord Lyonel had a mocking smirk on his face.
    “The head I promised you, your Grace.” He said taking a bow at the entrance and tossing lord Waxley´s head at the King´s feet.
    “I take it he was not much of a challenge.” The King said as one of the healers from the clans was setting his broken arm in place.
    “The Red Hammer did that?” Corbray asked with a snarl. “Where is he?” He said looking for the man as he sat down and poured wine into a cup.
    “In another tent, he surrendered when he saw the battle was over.” The King said, grimacing in pain. “I am letting him grasp the finer details of the situation at hand.” He let out a sharp hiss as the clanswoman popped his arm into place.

    “Lord Waxley at least died like a man, leading his men into the fray.” Corbray reported as he drank. “Still, they were outflanked by the Stone Crows and I took his head with my Lady. Some dozens crawled back into the Castle.”
    “Now it is for Lord Redfort to deliver us the Vale.” Domeric said as he gestured for a jar of mulled wine. “He is a true warrior that one.”
    “You get what you see with him, strength, discipline, and a strange sense of honour.” Lyonel said.
    “Strange?” the King asked.
    “It has to be strange to allow him to deliver his Queen into your grasp.” Corbray said laughing.
    As the sun was passing down into the west behind the Mountains of the Moon finally Lord Redfort requested audience with the King.
    “Lord Hugh.” The King said as he stood up to greet him.
    “My Lord.” Redfort said as he looked at the King´s arm. “I trust that your arm will heal.”
    “I hope so as well.” Domeric said with a smile. “That’s quite a hammer you have.”
    “I will send for my maester.” Hugh said, uncomfortable. “When this is over.”
    “And how will it end Hugh?” Corbray asked. “How shall we proceed?”
    “You must realize what you are asking of me.” Redfort said. “The Queen, and her daughters.”
    “I know what I am asking.” The King said. “I had to rise in rebellion against my King as well, when I discovered how he had betrayed the North. The Starks betrayed us all, and the Old Gods had their fill of their blood, and still, I have two Stark pups under my son´s care in Winterfell.”
    The King stopped for a second as he measured his words.

    “The Vale and Winterfell have been at war for half a millenia, the Talon ravaged the Riverlands without provocation and killed many Lords of houses great and small. His ambition was beyond measure, we defended ourselves, and the King of the Rock did so as well.” The King surmised. “All the tragedies of house Arryn can be traced back to him, and now winter has come; if the valemen are willing to endure the rule of House Arryn they are not as smart as I hope them to be.”
    “The war is lost, Redfort.” Corbray said. “Not in five thousand years had an enemy invaded the Vale, the Arryns have failed us, the Old King was killed by the Talon, I know, I know, there is no definite proof.” He said as Hugh had begun to protest. “And both he and Lyn have been beaten by the Lions and a bunch of girls cant rule the Vale.”
    “And you hope to claim the bones Corbray?” Hugh asked, defiant of all of a sudden.
    “No, it must be you.” The King said. “I intend you to rule the Vale in my name, under certain terms.”
    Hugh Redfort looked long and hard at him, but he already knew what was going to be asked of him.
    “Your wife is an Arryn, your children shall rule the Vale after you, so the line can continue, Queen Meera´s life is forfeit, I admit that we have no certain whereabouts of Oswyn and his son, but whatever piece of their forces that remain is retreating back east.” The King explained. “And soon, they shall be tried by their crimes, the riverlords are a quarrelsome folk as you might have heard; but there are two daughters, the clansmen would have my skin if I let both live, so the youngest shall be trust upon your care, to be your ward and raise her as you see fit.”
    “The older child?” Hugh asked.
    “She shall be given to the Gods, to the Heart Tree.” The King answered. “That’s the other point, my subjects shall have freedom of cult, the Old Gods shall be honoured, and the clansmen shall not be hunted ever more, they will be given lands and keeps and peace shall be upkept between the First Men and the sons of the Andals. I know you must sympathize with me in that point.”
    “I keep to the Old Gods, yes.” Hugh said. “And if I refuse?”
    Corbray laughed.
    “Then it´s war my Lord.” The King said. “First I seize this castle, the entire garrison and all of it´s inhabitants will be put to the sword, then it´s on to the Bloody Gate and the Redfort, they will share the same fate.”
    “Even if I yield there will still be others. Others who resist” Hugh said after a long pause. “Royce, Grafton.”
    “They will be dealt with accordingly.” The King said. “I promise they shall be given generous terms and will be welcome into the King´s peace.”
    “It seems there is nothing more to say.” Hugh Redfort said.
    And soon there was kneeling.
    And soon the Gates of the Moon were opened for Lord Hugh. And the Flayed Man flew atop it´s walls.

    PS. Well here we are at last. Thanks for reading. Hope you have a pleasant weekend.
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  9. #49
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: The Red King (A King of Rivers and Hills AAR)

    A dramatic and enjoyable update! The screenshots help me to follow the edd and flow of battles, I wonder if you'd like to post an occasional campaign map screenshot (even though the geography of Westeros is well-known to many - so I can see why you might not feel that this would be needed.)

  10. #50
    Solid Snake's Avatar Vicarius
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    Default Re: The Red King (A King of Rivers and Hills AAR)

    Hi all, it has been quite some time since the last update, I trust that it will be ready during the following days. I hope you have a happy weekend. Dont forget, I do not intend to abandon this tale. Cheers to all!
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  11. #51
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    Default Re: The Red King (A King of Rivers and Hills AAR)

    Chapter XIX

    The Grasp of Winter

    Winter in the North was harsh, unforgiving and cruel, the smallfolk looked to their lords for shelter and safety behind their castle walls, the old and the infirm had already “gone hunting” and the winter towns were bustling with renewed activity. Out in the lowlands the snows could stack up to ten feet high and in the mountains and the wolfswood the roads became unpassable. Ages ago it was a common sight for those lords loyal to Winterfell to take shelter inside the castle of house Stark and it was so again. From the mountains the young lords of the clans, the humble Lord Cerwyn, the heirs of Ryswell and the new Lord Glover had taken his Bolton wife back to Winterfell.
    To Vayon´s and his mother´s surprise and delight the Princess was heavy with child.
    “Sister!” The Prince of Winterfell had greeted her when the Glover`s party finally entered the great Hall. “You are most welcome, I hope the snows were not so harsh an obstacle.”
    “The trees shelter the forest from most of the snows, but the floor is sleek with mud and sleet, but we managed. I hope that we also bring you a measure of joy.” Owen Glover said as he pointed towards Lyra before bending his knee before Vayon and the Royal Family. The Princess Eleyna was present and the Queen in the North, Lady Catelyn; the two babes, were kept safe in the nursery. The last Stark princes were also kept from sight.
    “Rise Lord Glover, the Halls of Winterfell are open to you.” Vayon said, opening his arms and embracing his good-brother. “Let us have some spiced wine and perhaps a haunch of venison.” He said to the servants who hurried to comply with his orders.

    Lyra was in her ambiance, she smiled and jested with all the lords great and small that were present, after all she had been the court´s darling before her departure and she was well loved by all. At last she came before his brother´s wife, the Lioness of the Snows, Princess Eleyna.
    “I see that the gods have blessed my brother with a far more lovely wife than he deserves.” Lyra said smiling. “I also see that you are with child.”
    “A few months behind yours my lady.” Eleyna said, with a small bow, all smiles.
    “Please, call me Lyra.” She said embracing the Lannister woman. “We are all one House after all.”
    Then came the Queen, Catelyn embraced her daughter and complimented her for her pregnancy. “Lord Owen.” She said, turning to the one-eyed man. “I trust that this one has not been a handful.” She said, jesting with her oldest daughter.

    “The gods have blessed us your Majesty.” Owen said, bowing before her. “Both Deepwood and the Wolfswood have come alight by my beloved wife.”
    Later it was said that Princess Lyra had been fortunate, for even if her marriage had been born out of convenience, she found Owen to be a loving and caring husband and later a doting father, and so in time she saw past his scars and his sins and loved him as well with all her heart.
    “Winter there is at least more pleasant than in the Dreadfort.” Lyra said. “Back home I could feel the wind chilling my bones, but the forest has kept me warm and the winds die down to a whisper beneath the canopy.” She stopped suddenly. “But I do miss my brother´s court, I hope Father was happy when you told him that he is having grandsons.”
    “His last raven was from Heart´s Home.” The Queen said as they took to their seats and began feasting. “He says that Lord Corbray has gone over and that he intends to seize the Eyrie next. We hope that a rider reaches him there with this wondrous news.” She said smiling, but with the slightest frown of worry.
    “Don’t you worry your Grace.” Owen said. “The King is unbeaten in the field, and I hear your father has made the falcons fly from the Trident.” He said, nodding towards the Princess. “The Vale of Arryn is as good as ours.”
    “My Father is a cunning warrior.” Lyra said. “But I hear the Eyrie is impregnable.”
    “He wont have to take the Eyrie, my sister.” Vayon said after sipping wine. “The Arryns take refuge in the Gates of the Moon when Winter comes, a strong castle, but at least it´s not in the clouds.” He said with a smile.
    “Enough talk of war.” The Queen said. “I hope that you are staying for a season.” She said turning towards her daughter. “So that your child can be borne here, Master Russell shall be looking after you.”
    The talk went up and down around the subject of babes and courtesies, late harvests and heavy snows.
    When most of the family had taken their leave, Vayon got up and stood before his sister.
    “Lyra, I fear I must talk to your husband before you take to your quarters.” He said, in a tone that brooked no argument.
    Lyra only nodded, a quick glance passing between his brother and husband.

    “My Prince.” Owen said, as both men took a back gate.
    “My Father´s last raven also came with orders.” Vayon said as they retired to a private hall. “What do you know of Bear Island?” he asked.
    “The haunt of the Farwynds.” Owen said, swallowing. “They have ruled it for centuries, the reavers of Lord Farwynd killed my mother and took one of my aunts towards the isles, and not even…”
    “Not even the Starks were able to drive them out.” Vayon said, interrupting him. “My father, the King, has tasked you to bring Bear Island into the fold. He orders you to take it before Spring.”
    “My Prince.” Owen said, hesitating. “We have no ships, the reavers from the Lonely Light have always held the Bay of Ice in their grip. And in Winter? There is no way.”
    “I have heard that the Bay can freeze up all the way up to the Frostfangs.” The Prince countered. “Hundreds of wildlings always make their way down the ice towards our lands. Mayhaps we can find a way up as well.”
    “One thing are half naked and half starved raiders. And other, very different thing is marching men in armour across the Ice, horses, supplies. Ships are needed.” Owen Glover said, half pleading.
    “In that you are fortunate my Lord.” Vayon said. “The Lannisters will bring part of their fleet up North, and they shall ferry you over.” He smiled. “It was part of my marriage; none the less, the King expects you to expel the ironborn from Bear Island.”
    “Am I to call upon my own men?” Glover asked.
    “Of course, but I shall also give you 300 of my own swords, there is also a bunch of zealots, you know the type, they shall join you as well.” Vayon said.
    “If I take the castle.” Owen said, leaning forward. “Shall I be able to claim it?”
    “The King has other plans, House Mormont is to take the island; but if you are swift, I may persuade him to grant it to your son.” Vayon said, as the moon cut a beam of light across his face.
    “It shall be done my Lord, if his Grace wishes to reclaim Bear Island, then he shall have it.” Owen said, bowing before his Prince.

    Back in the Vale, the King was feasting his new lords and subjects in the main hall of the Gates of the Moon. The Hall was packed, and men from the clans sat shoulder to shoulder with the great Lords of the Vale. House Hunter, Waynwood, Waxley, Templeton, Egen, Pryor, Elesham, Ruthermont and Linderly had all come forth, or whatever survivors of them; braving the winds and snows to bend the knee to their new Lord and their new King. Notably absent were the members of house Grafton and Belmore; and Runestone had stood defiant as well.

    “To Lord Redfort!” one cry went.

    “To the King! Hail the King!”

    “King in the North!”

    “King of Snows and Mountain!”

    “Our Blood! Our Blood!”

    The clansmen were rowdy and loud, getting drunk on ale and glory. The last Arryn, a lady of four years was paraded around, so she could present to Lord Redfort the crown of her mother and the Scepter of the Falcon who in turn surrendered them to King Domeric.

    “My Lords! Burned Men! Moon Brothers! Stone Crows!” the King said, roaring from the dais. Each clan roared as their turn came around. “Men of the Vale! Famed in story and song! This day I do declare that as we are one realm, the war between the North and the Eyrie is over!”

    The men present banged the tables and clashed their mugs cheering their support.

    “As I promised, the men from the mountains of the moon shall be welcome into the Vale, they shall be given lands and keeps.” The King continued. “We are one realm! None shall harm no one for their beliefs! My subjects shall keep to the gods of their choosing.” The clansmen cheered.

    “And as I promised, I shall not impose my law upon you, the Vale shall be ruled by Lord Hugh, the Red Hammer of Redfort!” The King said, gesturing for Hugh to join him in the dais. “He shall keep the peace between us and the Eyrie and the Vale shall be given unto him. To Lord Hugh!” He said as he bestowed Hugh Redfort with the Scepter, the crown however, he retained.

    After the feast, the lords convened into a war council as the snows raged in the outside.
    Domeric was reminded of that council all those months ago when he had risen in rebellion against his King. Then, as now, there were Lords bickering back and forth, those that supported Hugh wholeheartedly and those who would return to the old way.

    “My Lords!” Hugh Redfort roared. “This noise is unbecoming of us, I am as surprised by the current events as you are. But I am certain we can all agree that the war was lost to us, King Domeric, our King.” He said pointing to the man beside him, the clansmen cheered. “Took the Vale by force yes, he bled our armies and set foot where no invader had set foot before. And he gave the Vale back to us, to all of us. I know for a fact that there are men here who opposed the invasion of the Trident and most of us have lost kin and blood in the river campaigns, who bled against Darry and Mooton, who battled against both red horse and dark raven, and those who fought against the Hammer of Justice! And what did that bring us? The Stormking razed Maidenpool not half a year ago, the reavers of House Hoare harried us from Seagard to Riverrun, the Green Hands slapped our King at Ashford, and now, the Lions of the Rock and the King in the North have taken their revenge. Thousands of men dead, and all gain lost, but now we have been offered a better future, a future where Northmen and Valemen can live and rule together.” His words sent the other lords into a new frenzy.

    “Where is Oswin?” One asked. “We have no proof of his death.”

    “I may answer that.” Domeric said. “A raven has reached me from the riverlands, my brother and Lord Greystark have driven the Arryns from most of the castles and keeps in the riverlands, and we know for a fact that the last Arryn is surrounded in Fairmarket, the King of the Rock shall soon seize him and deliver us news of his passing. Lyn Arryn as you might know was taken captive by Lord Greystark and delivered to Casterly Rock, I daresay that if he is still alive, he wont leave the Rock for quite some time.”

    A lordling rose up, Lord Linderly from the Snake´s Wood.

    “As our Lord says, I was very vocal against the Falcons when they started to talk about invasion. I argued that it would be our undoing, and it has been so. I must say that I have my reserves regarding the Stone Crows.” He said, frowning. “But I can see that the Arryns doomed us all, I welcome King Domeric, and I salute Lord Hugh, I shall keep the peace that we have made here this day.”

    There was a young man with the sigil of House Hunter who spoke up next.

    “My family fought for the Arryns, and my family died fighting for them.” The man said. “I rose to the Lordship on the bones and blood of my fathers, cousins and uncles, I trust Lord Hugh to lead us in these uncertain times. But we know that we are not whole as of yet, Lords Belmore and Royce are absent, and Gulltown has sent it´s defiance.”

    “There is no Lord Royce.” Redfort said. “Lord Morton and his sons died fighting in Seagard and in the Green Fork, only lady Tanda remains, a girl of four. She is of no consequence, but her stewards will be brought to heel. House Belmore has always had more greed than wit, alone as they are they pose no threat.”

    “The only true threat is House Grafton, behind his walls he can defy us for years and his fleet can prove to be troublesome as well.” The King said.

    “We have plucked some of his ships and turned them to ash.” A Burned Men said with a snarl. “But more remain at harbour”

    “I intend to march against Gulltown soon.” The King said, nodding. “If Lord Grafton sees reason he shall be entitled to keep his lands and his rank, if not, then we shall appoint a new Lord of Gulltown.”

    “And who shall guard the Bloody Gate?” asked young lord Waxley whose grandfather died in battle against Lord Corbray.

    “Trust is what we need in these dire times, even more so in Winter.” The King said. “It shall please me a great deal to grant stewardship of the Bloody Gate to a clansmen, Harreck of the Moon Brothers, I trust you shall keep the Vale safe.”
    The named clansman rose amongst a cheer of his people. “I, Harreck son of Haleth, accept this gift o Blood King.” He said, taking to one knee before Domeric and Lord Redfort. “No foe shall cross the Bloody Gate and not one men of the Vale shall be hurt in my watch.”

    “I hope that this is the first of many times where our people shall work together, hand in hand.” Lord Redfort said. “This is a new era and I trust that all of you will keep the peace and law we have forged here today.”

    And so it had begun, dominion of the Vale under House Bolton and the red crown of the Dreadfort, in later years it was said that King Domeric had brought the peace of the Old Gods with him, but the faith of the northmen was never imposed upon the Valemen, everyone´s faith was respected and even though there was always some resentment against the new lords of mountain and forest, peace was kept, and it was said that that Winter, dreadful as it was, was the beginning of a new Golden Age for both the Andals and the First Men.
    But that is in the distant future, for now, we return to the King and to Lord Redfort. Winter was in full swing and there were heavy snows all over the Vale and the Trident was reported to be frozen.

    “Gulltown must be brought back into the fold.” The King was saying. “It´s fleet and harbour must be liberated, the North needs grain and harvest.”

    “The Vale must feed as well my Lord.” Redfort said. “I trust that the Vale will not hunger in favour of your subjects north of the Neck.”

    The King grimaced, a concern that had already been brewing, with his rule now extending over three ancient Kingdoms, rumours were around that some regions will be favoured while others would be disregarded.

    “This war has done us no favours.” He answered. “Stark burned Barrowton, the North´s greatest granary, we have held part of our crops, sure, but the western region is starving already. For five centuries your stores have been kept safe, I trust that you will aid your fellow lords and vassals.”

    “Gulltown must fall none the less.” The King continued. “I march within a week, with my own men and Corbray´s, I trust that you can deal with lord Belmore?”

    “It shall be done, your Grace.” Hugh said. “I will march after my family joins me here.”
    “Smart.” The King said, smiling. “I do not intend to impose upon you, and the faster I can return back North all the better, but I trust you see the importance of this; the army you march towards Strongsong must include all of us. Under your banner there must be your valemen, and clansmen, I would suggest Stone Crows, they have ancient holdings in that region, some of my men will march with you as well. Our way is the old way, and the northmen respect strength, you must remember that, some of my men want to fight with you on account of your victory over me.”

    “But your Grace defeated me in battle, and brought the last Queen under submission.” Redfort said, dumbfounded.

    “Yes, but your hammer broke my arm, and that battle ended with you standing over me, some will not forget that for many years.” Domeric said.

    The days flew by, short and cold during Winter, and Lord Hugh soon marched out of the Gates of the Moon, northbound, towards Strongsong, the seat of House Belmore, nestled between a deep valley surrounded by the mountains of the Moon behind it, the Belmores had been petty kings in ages past, but had submitted to first the Royces and then to the Arryns after the Invasion, still it was a strong castle, but Redfort hoped there would be no battle, house Belmore had been bled in the past battles and it´s last lord had died of fever, childless, after returning from the Blue Fork. As far as they knew and old castellan held the castle lordling over a distant niece of the old ruler.

    With his army of Valemen and Clansmen, numbering close to two thousand, bolstered by a core of Northmen that hailed from the Wolf´s Den and the Rills. Snows were hard upon the host, but the clansmen were no strangers to marching in the dead of Winter, and they kept good rhythm as they marched North.

    When at last they arrived, they found the castle flying the banner of the Arryns above the silver bells of Belmore. But when they spotted the host a party soon set out from the gates to meet them.
    Leading them was one Martyn Belmore the Golden Bell, said to be one of the richest men of the Vale, a strong men that had seen more than sixty name days his golden hair streaked with white and silver.

    “You fly a dead man´s banner my Lord.” Redfort said as manner of greeting, joining him was Chella of the Black Ears and Tormund of the Stone Trees. “I have come to offer terms.”
    “And I have come to spit on them.” Martyn said. “I only came out to see if the ravens sang it true, that the famed Red Hammer had submitted to the Flayed King.”

    “Then your sight is done my Lord, come the morrow we shall take this castle.” Hugh said.

    “With those savages at your side?” The Golden Bell asked. “Such a terrible sight to see such vermin upon the Vale.”

    The clansmen bristled and loosened their weapons in their scabbards. Redfort restrained them.

    “Spare us my Lord.” He said. “The war is over, the Arryns are dead, the Gates of the Moon have fallen, kneel and I shall confirm you in your lands and titles, defy me and….”

    He never finished the sentence, Martyn´s heart had sprouted five arrow tips, piercing him back to front. The first man that had fired, rode forward.

    “The rest of us don’t have a death wish.” He said, spitting upon the fallen form of the Golden Bell. “We have the wife and that blasted child under lock and key by now, my name is Eorl Egen. Strongsong is yours my Lord.”

    “We are well met Lord Egen.” Redfort said, smiling, but with a deep frown upon his brow, striking a man from behind was an ill thing. “I hope we can rest in your Halls before turning back towards the Eyrie?” He asked.

    The falcon´s banner was struck down and over the moon and suns of House Egen rose the Redfort and the Flayed Man of House Bolton.
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  12. #52
    Solid Snake's Avatar Vicarius
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    Default Re: The Red King (A King of Rivers and Hills AAR)

    Well, it was a longer wait that I had expected, but here we are, I got to confess that this chapter could be thought of as the first of two parts, on its own it had grown far too large for my liking and I decided to part it here. I hope I can post the next part soon. Cheers to all.
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  13. #53
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    Default Re: The Red King (A King of Rivers and Hills AAR)

    The Grasp of Winter

    Part II

    King Domeric hurried to begin the march towards the coast, for him, time was of the essence, and he pushed forward against snows, rain and sleet. Both clansmen and northmen were of sturdier stock and the Burned Men kept the fires well lit, and soon, Gulltown was in sight.

    To Grafton´s men the northern army must have looked like if the end times had come at last, the pink and red banners of Bolton and Redfort, marching along the fires of Timett, the Burned One, close to five thousand men had descended upon Gulltown and the city awoke one day to the sight of fire and the song of horns, deep as the ancient forests.

    Mychel Grafton still held the city and it´s port, after his defeat against Rodrik Flint he had refused to march out of his walls again, calling back his levies from the riverlands, the past months he had almost been called a traitor and an oathbreaker by the Talon, but still Grafton kept his men to his own lands. Gulltown was the biggest city in the Vale, it´s houses bursting with men and women of all ages, it´s port was the Vale´s life line as well, keeping it well supplied and allowing for trade with the entirety of Westeros and even with some of the fabled cities across the Narrow Sea, it´s walls were sturdy and had not been breached since their inception. It´s harbour was well guarded but far more vulnerable and it´s ships had been set afire more than once. Still the main concern was the walls, even with a small garrison Grafton could hope to stall the northmen and even throw back their assault. For Domeric it was paramount to achieve a bloodless surrender.

    Still he wasted no time in putting his Burned Men to the task of building rams and ladders to assault the walls. It was to his favour that Grafton came out to discuss terms rather than the King offering them. Two days after the King´s arrival a peace banner of the Seven Pointed Star flew atop the Main Gate, and Grafton came out with a heavy escort around him.
    To meet him, Domeric chose Timett of the Burned Men to speak for the clansmen, Lord Corbray joined them as well, along with twenty of the Bloody Company.

    “Mychel, is that really you?” Corbray asked with his usual banter. It was no casual joke, to those that knew him, the Lord of Gulltown had lost at least ten stones in weight, and his skin clung to his cheekbones and forehead, but his eyes still shone a deep, dark blue.

    “It is me Corbray.” Mychel answered, spitting towards the Lord of Heart´s Home. “Oathbreaker, have you come here to die?”

    Lyonel laughed. “I daresay the outcome shall be another my old friend. We have come to liberate that city of yours.”
    “Kneel before the King! Our King!” Timett demanded, putting his King´s honour above all.
    “Ravens have been sent, and the Vale and the whole of Westeros know this.” Domeric stepped his horse forward. “The ancient Kings of Mountain and Vale are no more, the Arryn´s line is finished and Lord Redfort has surrendered the Gates of the Moon to me.”
    “Another oathbreaker.” Mychel spat again. “And do you suppose that gives you right to rule over me and mine? The Graftons were Kings before the Arryns came from across the waters. I shall not accept a northerner as my King, nor accept such rabble amidst my lands and folk.” He said pointing towards Timett.

    “I take it you decline our offer.” Domeric said. “My Lord, let it be known that I offer generous terms, open your gates and you and your family shall rule Gulltown as you have done for generations, refuse me and your line ends with you.”
    “And do you think this rabble worthy of assaulting my walls?” Mychel said, stepping forward as well. “Gulltown has never been taken by force, it´s walls have never been breached, your host will melt before my gates.”
    “We have five thousand men with us Grafton.” Timett said with a snarl. “And Burned Men have already burnt to cinder part of your fleet.”
    “Might as well be five thousand corpses.” Mychel said, smiling. “You and I know that you cant put me under siege, the sea remains open to me and I daresay my granaries are fuller than yours. Your five thousand men will die of hunger long before mine and if you throw them against my walls I shall push you back towards the cold hell you crawled from.”

    “Your fate is decided then.” The King said, bowing before Lord Grafton. “If you care for your family you shall put them on a boat before the next day arrives.”
    Snarling, Mychel Grafton turned his horse back towards his walls.
    “The walls are tall, and well defended.” Corbray pointed out. “And I see javelins, rocks and scorpions upon the battlements.”
    “Still we must take them.” The King said as they made their way back to camp. “You shall lead the assault upon the walls Lyonel. It´s high time you had a task worthy of your name.”
    Lyonel only smiled in return, a wicked grin that could mean anything.
    “Timett, how did you burn Grafton´s fleet?” The King asked.
    “We used black boats, in the dark of the new moon, the guards failed to see us, and we lighted our torches when we were deep inside the harbour.” Timett reported.

    “There is a chain blocking the entrance now.” The King said. “Low across the water, that will not work again.”

    A small pause.
    “Are your men good swimmers?” He asked.

    When Domeric arrived at Gulltown the moon was waning, it would be a dark moonless night soon, the days were spent building ladders and fletching arrows. Lyonel was eager to get into battle.
    “Your assault must be fierce my Lord.” Domeric had said to him. “I want you leading the Bloody Company into the walls, let Grafton´s blood be taken by your Lady Forlorn.”

    “That one does not want battle.” Lyonel said. “We have brought down a dozen ravens, your man, Flint scared the fight out of him. He is looking for a way out, but he wont leave his Keep.”

    “I`m counting on that.” Domeric said smiling. “Still, it would be most pleasing to see you take the walls by storm.”
    Lyonel laughed.

    It had been a cold, moon less night.

    Horns sounded in the forest´s deep. And Gulltown´s defenders saw the flames lit all over the horizon, siege towers and ladders were approaching the walls. The brozen trumpet of the Red Tower sounded long and brave into the night, urging the defenders into battle. Fire arrows set the field aflame and the scorpions wrought havoc upon Corbray´s lines; but still the towers kept their pace. Lord Corbray stood upon the very first tower, with his raven-winged helm upon his head and Lady Forlorn on his grasp, ready to dance; beside him stood the Bloody Company grim faced and eager for battle. They could hear the arrows thumping at the tower´s sides and front and even an scorpion bolt pierced it´s side, but hurting no one.

    “At the ready!” Corbray said, the air crying as he swung his Lady. “The King wants us loud and brave! Come with me and make some noise!”
    His men roared as the tower crashed against the top of the wall, its ramp releasing upon the stone merlons. It was indeed Lord Corbray first unto the breach, dealing death with every cut of Lady Forlorn, his helm was visible from afar as King Domeric surveyed the battle from the rear.
    “Corbray is making a fine mess of things.” He said to his sergeants. “He might even deliver us the city.” The King turned his head towards the harbour. The Arryn fleet sat in anchor at the quays, the boom chain still sat low upon the water. Grafton´s Keep, the Red Tower also served as the harbours Lighthouse and at it´s very top a wide and great brazier stood, it´s flame gave the Graftons their sigil in times of old. Also it was only a short distance from the water, a flight of stairs leading right towards it.

    From afar, the King could spot lines of warriors hurrying towards the city walls, Corbray seemed to have gained a secure foothold and now the other two towers and a forest of ladders were joining the assault.

    “There” One of his men, a Norrey from the mountains said, pointing towards the harbour.
    The King smiled, it was difficult to tell at such distance, but he could glimpse dark figures emerging from the waters and quays, rushing towards the Keep´s stairs.
    “Reinforce our assault.” He ordered. “Send the ram forward and let my banner fly with it.” The King said as he drew Flesh Eater from it´s scabbard.
    Timett and fifty of his Burned Men were pouring into the harbour, dark water clinging to their skin and clothes; they had swum from the bay and deep into the sea and back into the harbour, submerged themselves below the chain and kept as quiet as possible. The assault on the walls was a distraction, Corbray could kill fifty men and break the city gates, Timett would deliver Gulltown to the King.
    “Keep low and hurry to the steps.” Timett said in a murmur that resembled a growl. As their men drew their steel they hurried towards Mychel´s Keep, only a handful of guards remained on the stairs and were soon overwhelmed, unable to sound the alarm. As the Burned Men made their way up the steps, they disappeared from the King´s sight.

    Corbray was dancing upon the walls, trying to force his way towards the gatehouse, his sword singing left and right, Grafton´s spearmen fell before him, their armour torn asunder by Valyrian steel. More and more his arms turned red as he delivered death before him. For him this was the dance he craved for, Lyonel had been made to dance in the battlefield and in the bed chamber, this he understood, his Lady Forlorn sang, a deadly symphony on his hands. As more men tried to gain the walls and stand in his way the faster he seemed to become. Time slowed as he turned and twisted his way towards the gates. The Bloody Company was close behind him, before him he could spot new ladders reaching the top, reinforcements pouring forth, below him he could feel the pounding of the ram at the gates.

    As the hour of the Wolf grew late a sound pierced the battlefield like the cry of a wounded beast, the bronze trumpet cried from the Red Tower, and as all men turned towards it, they could see the Flayed Man of the Dreadfort rising over the Keep and those with sharp eyes could spot Timett taking the Grafton´s banner into the flames.

    The gate crumbled and behind the ram dozens of northmen poured into town, a great cheer came from the army lines, King Domeric raising his sword in triumph as he saw his banner atop that great brazier.

    “Give quarter to those that surrender.” He instructed to his men. “This battle is over and we need the city intact.”
    The remaining enemies soon laid down their arms as they saw that Grafton had yielded the Keep, hundreds of northmen and clansmen were making their way towards the harbour and the Tower, cheering the King as he rode by in his bloody cloak, his helm displayed the red face of a flayed man, a grim visage.

    In the harbour a few ships had caught fire and some warehouses were burning as well. The King turned towards one of his sergeants.
    “Get those fires under control, get the Burned Men to help you.” He dismounted from his destrier and reached for the Keep`s stairs, flanked by cheering Burned Men, dripping wet with blood and seawater.
    “Bolton! Red King! Our Blood! Red King and Red Flame!” the men cried as Domeric ascended.
    Inside the Keep he found Timett and his Red Spears hounding the last Graftons in the Main Hall. Mychel Grafton was being dragged from a back room by Timett himself, a stream of blood pouring from his lips.

    “My Lord.” The King said as Timett pushed Mychel onto his knees before the King. He spat blood at the King´s feet.
    “Your city has fallen, your men have surrendered.” He said to the Hall, behind Mychel was his Lysene wife and his three young daughters, a child of ten also was produced, him with a mop of black hair characteristic of his house, while the girls took after their mother and sported long hairs of pale gold. “Surrender my Lord and you get to keep your head, swear your allegiance to Lord Redfort and we shall be gone by the morrow and your folk will scarcely knew we were here.”
    “I… shall never bend to these savages…my King shall return…” he said as he gasped for air as his mouth kept filling with blood.
    “Yes, I saw how eager you were to help your last Queen, I did not see you at the Gates of the Moon, Lord Redfort was quite wroth at it.” The King said, taking off his helm. “Your King is dead or dying, if you do not want to kneel before Timett, kneel before me and your House shall continue. If not, well, I suppose your maester can show us the way to your Heart Tree.” The King drew his sword.
    Mychel looked up and seemed ready to spit more defiance, but his Lysene wife stepped forward and knelt beside him, whispering rapidly into his ear. Her hands working at her tresses at a quick pace.
    “Yield… I yield. Gulltown is yours….Your Grace.” Grafton said looking up at the King.
    “Thank you, I see that my lady of Gulltown is most wise.” He said nodding towards the golden beauty at his side.
    “My daughters.” She began to say.

    “We shall find suitable matches for them, northmen or clansmen I think.” The King said interrupting her. “I will make the pairs myself, I promise you my lady that you will not find the men wanting.”
    And with that, it was over, a maester was allowed to look at Lord Grafton´s wounds and the Lysene woman, Meriah led her sons back into their beds.

    The King approached Timett. “One of the girls shall be for you, or your son, your choice.” He said as he motioned for the serfs to bring wine. “I gave my word, I will not hear of these girls being mistreated or abused.”
    Timett semed truly taken aback by the words of his King. “It will not be so my King, the girls are a rare beauty, Burned Men do not scorn gifts such as these.” He said bowing his head.

    “If you play your dice and runes the right way it might be that Lord Grafton finds a dreary end before Winter ends and one of those daughters might inherit, the boy I intend to bring back North.” The King said smiling. “You shall keep a garrison here, Gulltown must learn to adapt to the clansmen, keep the port under watch, food needs to come through here again. But no looting, no rapes, no burnings.” He said with a stern voice. “Lady Meriah seems a fine and wise woman, I hope that you can find a way to befriend her and her Lysene cousins and brothers, a fleet from Lys could be a boon that we would be wise not to squander.”
    “It shall be done my King.” Timett said, touching his forehead with his hand. “Burned Men will keep the peace. Your peace.”
    The King smiled at that. “Runestone must surrender now, I shall ride there on the morrow. The Vale is whole again, now we can all suffer through Winter together.”

    Well, here is part II at last, I hope you enjoy it and I hope you can forgive me the walls of text, there are some battles in the future. I trust you are having a pleasant weekend. Life has been a bit busy of late, gotta get back on the O.R. See you soon.
    Do check my AAR "The Proud Blood of Germania"
    Formerly known as JerichoOnlyFan.
    And my other AAR: "The Black Serpent"

  14. #54
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
    Content Director Patrician Citizen

    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    United Kingdom

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

    Good updates, the attack on Gulltown was particularly good! Lord Egen sounds dangerous.

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