Chapter 55: Battle at the Blackwater Plains
Forward: Editing credit to Rainsfere.
The Next Day - Late Morning - The Blackwater Plains, East of King's Landing along the Southern Side of the Blackwater Rush - Renly and the Tyrells
"Heh, it seems the Seven are with us today!' Mace laughed out, the porty Lord of the Tyrells laughed. "Sunny day, light clouds and a good wind from the east. Perfect weather." With the assumed battle to come, he was dressed in his ornate floral styled chest plate which was broader than most for his wider frame with a sturdy yet comfortable deep green gambersome under it. He had a quite flashy helmet too, open faced with the top crowned with long, colorful feathers from the birds of Highgarden. Despite his rounded build, Mace kept his balance on his war steed, a small show of horsemanship even a Tyrell of his age had.
"Can't argue with that." Renly chuckled in agreement. The dashing aspiring king was dressed in his iconic green colored armor, with his antler horned full helm strapped beside him along the saddle. He wore his antler styled crown on his head, an open show of leadership and determination to become king.
Glancing about, he looked at the formation of knights escorting them. The bright sun above made the shine of the knights of the Stormlands and Reach a glorious sight. In their column were infantry, elite pikeman and shielded troops that could spread out into defensive lines. Ahead of them were the cavalry, ready to shift formation in case other riders were to come in from another angle. At the rear were the archers, longbows that could rain arrows down on any charging force. Course, this was just one of many companies that made up this regiment and in turn, a portion of the leading forces heading east. More regiments surrounded theirs, ensuring protection to their Lord and King.
"Let's not be overconfident." Loras spoke up, riding beside Renly. He was dressed in his regal armor as the pride of House Tyrell, ready to ride into a true battle. "Who knows what tricks the Lannisters may have. With Tywin Lannister, anything is possible."
"Of course, Ser Loras. Despite our advantages, we won't rush into a fight." Renly assured. "No need to march our forces hard at this final stretch. Besides, we should be hearing reports from our scouts very soon."
"Hah, I think we are about to get that!" Mace laughed as he gestured to a lone rider approaching their formation. The knights did move to quickly inspect the man, ensuring he wasn't a spy or assassin before allowing him to approach. The scout gave a short bow from his mount before speaking breathlessly.
"King Renly…Lord Tyrell."
"Breath lad!" Mace urged in a jovial manner. "You act like you were outrunning a dragon!"
The scout gave a small grin as he did catch his breath, thankful for the moment of rest. "Just…our group had a close call. We were circling through the Kingswood to get a better look at the Lannisters' position." He gave a sigh. "However they had their own scouts watching that area. We couldn't get too much closer before we were spotted. A few riders were shot, but most of us escaped."
Renly nodded in understanding. "They're efforts will be honored. So then, tell us what you saw."
The scout nodded before continuing to speak. "They have a palisade line set up along the hillside; some of the sections seem moveable from what we could tell."
"Likely to allow their forces beyond the defenses to attack." Loras stated. "They must have the main camp just out of sight, making it harder to predict what they will throw at us."
"There is more Ser." The scout continued. "They seemed to have some platforms along the walls and some…battlefield weapons. We couldn't get a good look from how far we were."
"Hmm curious." Mace mused. "Surely you can guess. Was it something like a catapult or something smaller like a ballista?"
"Maybe a ballista? Forgive me, my Lord but if it is a ballista then it's a design that I've never seen before.."
"It's alright. Whatever it is, we'll adapt suitably." Renly assured. "For now, make sure the word is spread among the regiments, then fall back to the furthest lines. See that your group gets some water and food for your efforts."
The kind words of the aspiring king made the scout grin and bow again. "Thank you, your grace! If you have a need for us though, we'll be ready!" With that, the scout rode off and out of sight.
While the report had been vague, Loras had a concerned look on his face over what was shared. "It should be expected that the Lannisters are prepared for us, though they obviously are favoring a long ranged strategy."
"Hmm perhaps." Mace replied with a shrug as he glanced ahead. "At this rate we should see this hill and their banners."
Renly pondered for a moment, before signaling to one knight and his squire. "Ser, have your squire coordinate with the others to spread word to halt our march once the Lannister banners are in sight. We are to keep our distance and allow more regiments to form up."
The knight nodded before glancing to his squire. "You heard his grace, gather some fellow squires!" The young man nodded to do what was ordered before the knight got back into formation.
"The cautionary approach is the wisest one, Renly." Loras assured, giving a warm smile to him.
"I do hope so. I'd rather we not delay for too long since we should reach King's Landing near nightfall if this battle goes smoothly."
"Both of you worry too much!" Mace scoffed. "My son Garlan is managing a few thousand more back at the forward camp, enough to reinforce us if we are somehow struggling. Besides, I'm sure the Lannisters are quaking in their boots seeing how outnumbered they are! Perhaps they'll raise the white flag in hopes for mercy."
Renly wanted to smirk at the image yet a gut feeling avoided showing such amusement. He wasn't experienced in war, but a gut instinct told him things were far too calm from the Lannisters side with them going against such great odds. Yet at the same time he couldn't seem hesitant or weak with all the advantages he had. This march had been delayed long enough and with the growing edge Stannis had, King's Landing had to be captured within the month or else conflict was certain with his older brother.
A Few Miles East, Fortified Hills - The Lannisters
"Curious…" Jaime muttered as he watched Renly's and the Tyrells forces starting to form up into battle lines through a far-eye. "Seems they are preparing sooner than expected." The Lord Commander of the King's Guard was in full armor to take charge of this battle, at least under the strategic orders of his father who stood beside him, offering the far-eye which Tywin looked through.
"It seems he is taking the bait then. We let the scouts see enough and that will have them guessing." Even at his age, Tywin wore his red and gold colored pate proudly with a sturdy half cape along the left shoulder and arm. Compared to most lords of his standing, he was still capable of personal battle if the need came. "It should be expected Renly would act cautiously. It's simply his nature be it in politics or how he views warfare." Setting the far-eye aside, he and Jaime moved off the platform that made up a portion of the palisade, passing by the cannon that was being prepared for the upcoming attack. Zarin's students were busy having black powder and the iron balls prepared for what was to be expected a long ranged battle.
"We are putting a lot of confidence on these weapons." Jaime muttered. "I'm not doubting their capabilities, but if that army gets too close then we won't stand a chance."
"Then let us hope Zarin's weapons don't fail us." The two approached one of the tents holding supplies for the cannons, Zarin himself inspecting it.
The old alchemist nodded to one of his students after the inspection before noticing the two approaching, giving a small smile. "Lord Tywin…Commander Jaime." He greeted formally. "All preparations are ready for our first move. I assume our other forces are prepared as well?"
"They'll march in when an opening is shown. Only when we have the battlefield advantage can we commit to such an attack." Jaime explained. "Considering the battles to come, losing too many of our own troops can make this a pyrrhic victory."
"Our concern is on your students' capabilities. Their efficiency is critical to this battle." Tywin stated.
Zarin just kept that faint smile. "I will be personally taking command when we begin our attack, Lord Regent. The Tyrell formations will break and your forces will have no issue forcing them back." Though after a short pause before speaking to ask. "Forgive my curiosity, but where is King Joffrey? The young king seemed quite eager for this battle, yet he hasn't arrived."
"Perhaps reason has come to his grace." Tywin muttered. "Best case, he's in the safety of the Red Keep or surveying the fight with the rest of the King's Guard watching him."
Jaime had doubts on such claims from his father. Knowing Joffrey's habits lately, he was planning something behind all their backs. He just hoped it wasn't something reckless or put them at risk. "Whatever the case, I need to ensure our knights are prepared. I'm sure you have plenty of Lords and nobles to assure as well, father."
"Maintaining loyalty does require stern reminders. I'll not allow a single regiment here to withdraw on suspected fears." Tywin looked towards the main camp, giving a short nod to both. "We all understand our roles in this battle. Lead capably and we'll enjoy a historic victory." With that moment of stoic confidence, the Lord Regent walked away towards the larger tents of the camp.
Once alone, Zarin looked back to Jaime before speaking. "Are you prepared for a proper battlefield, Lord Commander?" The sudden question drew a confused look from the Lannister. "It is not a question of your skills. I know your history well and the fact you haven't taken part in a battle of his scale before."
For a moment Jaime was silent in thought. In truth, he would have been boastful about his prowess in the past, yet ever since the tournament of the Hand had his smug confidence been tempered. "This isn't about glory, but survival." He stated. "I don't plan to fight recklessly. After all I am the Lord Commander, leadership and tactics come first."
The alchemist gave a nod, even a faint smile. "A wise approach." Glancing over toward the battlefield, he would speak again. "However, one piece of advice, I would urge you to press the enemy towards the river. The closer the better." With that vague information shared, Zarin began to move towards the line of cannons. "Fight well, Lord Commander. I do hope we will speak again soon."
While a tad baffled by Zarin's parting words, Jaime didn't let that distract him for too long as he headed for the rally point for the vanguard knights. Though he would keep that advice in mind, having a theory on what it may lead to.
As Zarin arrived at the cannon line, word of his approach had his students hurrying to gather up, unless caught up in final preparations. Most were fully garbed in their red robes and beak shaped masks, with a few having removed the masks because of the heat of the day. There were many mutterings among the group, yet what was clear was nervousness and quiet fear among them. After all, most of his students were common born, Small Folk like him who never faced a real battle. Once enough had gathered, Zarin at last spoke up.
"I know many of you are worried today. After all, I doubt any of you expected to be here on the brink of a battlefield. To put your lives at risk…and to likely take the life of another." That last statement did bring a tense silence, proof that the act of killing was the most troubling. "I took my first life just after my twelfth year. Even though it was a justified death, it is something no youth should ever go through." It was a confession the alchemist had rarely shared and one that had his students muttering in shock. "We all know that conflict is impossible to avoid in a civilization. History clearly shows that. Yet today, we can change how it is waged, not through the waste of lives but through innovation and science!"
Moving towards one of the cannons, he touched along the iron barrel of the weapon. "This weapon that we have created, will change the face of war even more so than the dragons of old. The men below are not wicked, only following the lead of the ambitions of Lord Renly and their Tyrell liege. I wouldn't be surprised if some of you have a relative from the Reach conscripted as a bannerman. They're place here is no different to the knights and soldiers under the royal banner." Letting that sink in, he continued to speak.
"The death and harm we'll bring will be a somber mark. We are scholars, not soldiers. Yet that difference is why we must bear the burden of this weapon. Because we have the knowledge to make and use it…along with understanding what it truly is capable of. Not soldiers, knights, lords nor even a king will be able truly wield what we've created!" Remarking on the strength they now controlled brought small cheers and mutterings of agreement, the students' moods improving now with renewed determination.
Gesturing, he calmed his students before speaking. "Yet let's not let my aged yammering drag on. Our foes are within reach and time is of the essence. If any of you have second thoughts of being in this battle, now is your chance to step aside." There was silence and no one moved. "Good, because I have no intentions either. For I will fire the first shot and bear the burden it brings." Surprised words filled the air at this news, some disagreements even though Zarin ignored them. "No more delays! Take your posts and ready your cannons."
Being dismissed, the red garbed students hurried off to their battle stations, putting on their masks and other protective garb.
From his satchel, Zarin took out a more flat faced mask to cover his face along with a skyglass to look out over the field. The Renly's forward regiments were out of archer range, yet perfectly set for their cannons. There was movement in the formations as they were preparing for their march upwards the hill as more regiments were gathering up. Despite the numbers, all of it was going to become irrelevant very soon.
"High angles but not too steep! Extra powder as well for more force! Also aim for any rocky ground. It will allow the round to bounce more easily." He ordered out while helping his group prepare their cannon by personally measuring the powder loaded. Checking his spyglass again, he could see one company a few rows back made up of knights, with one individual in the middle wearing a helmet decorated with colored feathers. "Practically wanting to be a target." He muttered before looking at his group. "Formation in the middle ranks, three rows back." He instructed while he got the ignition pole, making sure the rope end was lit.
"It's prepared, master Zarin!" One member of his crew informed before everyone else stepped back and to the sides for their safety.
Nodding, the old alchemist stepped up to the back of the cannon, lowering the pole until the burning fuse touched the weapon's. "Now…let's make history." He muttered to himself, moving back as he watched the fuse quickly burn away.
Renly and the Tyrells
Loras shifted in his saddle as he watched their forces gathering up, nearly enough to begin their attack on the Lannister's position. Despite the stomping of countless troops and horses though, there was a strange silence to it all. The overall calm from the east was too worrying, no signal horns or barking orders that are expected of a normal defensive.
"There has to be some scheme afoot." Loras muttered, mostly to himself even if Renly and his father overheard them. "They should have their own defensive lines forming up, yet we've seen nothing."
"Perhaps they are arranging their surrender!" Mace laughed. "You worry too much my son."
Despite Lord Tyrell's assurances, even Renly felt uneasy. "Perhaps it is time we move back." He urged.
"Even further? How will our men think of us scurrying away because of senseless worries! We have every advantage and-"
Suddenly there was a resounding bang, like a dozen thunder strikes happening nearly at once. The noise was so intense that all the horses panicked, with the knights in their company calming their mounts though yells through the regiment showed others were thrown off. The hilltop had short bursts of light and thick plumes of smoke filled the air, followed by what could only be described as a nearing whistling sound.
"What in the Hell was-" Mace started before there was a thunking sound as something struck a jutting rock from the grassy earth, ricocheting against the stone. Whatever it was, it was made of metal and moved so fast from the momentum that it was a blur. It bounced right at Mace's horse's head as the ball of metal pierced through the front right side of the mount's head. A quarter of the equine's skull shattered like glass while brain matter splatter about in a jelly like spray. The mount's death was so instant that it limply slumped forward which made Mace fall off, though the portly man only gave out a wheeze instead of a surprised yell. There was a whining cry of a horse as well with their knight rider yelling out as his mount tumbled onto its side as its front right leg had been busted apart by the mysterious and powerful projectile.
"Father?" Loras muttered in shock, turning his horse to see to his father, despite the horrified and sickened looks of the surrounding knights and Renly.
Whatever that struck the horse had passed on and through Mace. The upper right side of his chest was just gone, the breastplate that had been protecting it busted apart as if a spiked log had punched right through him. The rib cage was busted apart, fat and muscle torn enough that the flexing shape of a lung could be seen. Blood was just everywhere, splattering from the impact of the projectile and pooling from the gaping wound.
Despite the nauseating feeling filling him, Loras hurried off his saddle as he grasped his cloak. "Oh gods…oh gods!" He started to panic, trying to avoid the wound yet just a few moments pressing down had it soaking in blood. Mace shook, eyes rolling from the pain of his mortal wound. "Call for help damn it! A Maester, healer…anyone!" Loras yelled, snapping the others from their own state of shock. While squires were ordered to seek help or try to aid Loras, all of them knew Mace was done for.
"Lor…" Mace tried to speak, his voice garbled with blood filling up his throat. One hand gripped at the young knight's arm squeezing it tightly while a moment of sad clarity showed in the lord's eyes before what light in them was gone. His hand went limp, slipping away off Loras's wrist.
"Father…no…damn it no!" Tears streamed down Loras's face as he shook his father in his arms.
Renly couldn't believe just what happened in barely a minute, a lord killed swiftly and brutally. Yet despite the urge to console Loras or to rally his men, he was becoming aware that this group wasn't the only one to have suffered losses. All around the other formations were panicked yells of men and horses in pain, confusion clear as no one was sure of what had happened. Panic and disarray were literally moments away if leadership wasn't shown.
"King Renly…" The voice of one knight snapped him back to attention. Looking at the man, he could see the uncertainty on the man's face. "Your orders, what are we-"
The knight was interrupted as another round of thunder noise followed. Once more the horses panicked from the noises, this time with the riders just as fearful. The metal projectiles from the hills struck at the different formations, plowing through men and horses with brutal force. Up to half a dozen men were killed whenever one missile plowed through a line. For Renly's group, three knights were felled as their plate armor was useless, either being busted through like Mace's or the impact so strong it crushed their bodies.
Loras clutched his dead father in the chaos, glancing up to see Renly in shock, barely able to stay on his own horse. "Knights and squires! Hear me!" The command spoken was unexpected from the young man, drawing all the others' attention. It even snapped Renly from his dazed state. "We need to signal an attack now! Whatever this weapon is, its range and power is too great to retreat from!" Looking at a few squires, he nodded to them. "Take father…Lord Mace out of here. Make sure he's covered." They meekly nodded, four needed to lift the slain lord, making sure the bloodied cloak covered his head as they hauled him onto an empty supply cart.
"We need to rally an attack now.! Signal the regiments to charge!" Loras ordered. "Raise the banners, blow the horns, whatever it takes to drive a march!" It took a moment of hurried confusion for the proper banners to be set, with the signal horn being blown first. While the order was given, it was clear the different companies were not coordinated and becoming divided on what to do. Other horns were blown to show the attack was beginning, though only half of the frontlines moved forward. The others hesitated or even began to retreat back, moral clearly faltering. "Renly, you need to fall back to the back lines. We can't put you at risk."
The Baratheon seemed torn between portraying himself as a bold leader and his own preservation. He knew that if others saw him fleeing, it would damage the image he had worked for so many months. "No. If I run then the line will break!" He sternly spoke back. "I'd rather fall here then scamper away in failure!" While his determination was out of desperation, it did draw inspiration back to the men. "Direct the attacks, I'll see the other companies stand their ground."
Loras wanted to argue further, yet he knew they didn't have the time for such banter. "Just stay safe…your grace." With that, he put on his helmet before giving a yell, urging his horse quickly along as he helped spread his attack orders among the other companies. Renly also put on his helmet to ride in the opposite direction, moving more among the back ranks to prevent any more panicked retreat. Right now, they needed to hold the line even against this new fearsome weapon the Lannisters had revealed.
Farther West from the Frontlines - Half an Hour Later - Margaery and Olenna
"Gods, what is that infernal sound!" Olenna sighed, waving her fan about as she sat back in her seat. She along with her granddaughter and handmaidens were having brunch to pass the time as the battle was beginning, trying to distract themselves from conflict playing out. Yet for the last half hour there had been long banging sounds that echoed out for miles. "Did the Lannisters bring a storm with them?" The aged noblewoman muttered in annoyance.
"It is strange." Margaery mused. She had noticed a growing number of soldiers were leaving the frontlines and going towards the forward camp. Surely they had the advantage even if the Lannister's forces had a defendable position, they couldn't outmatch such numbers. Stray thoughts did worry for Renly and her family, of whatever danger they must be facing. "I'm sure everything is going alright."
"It's fine to be positive, but I can't deny this horrible feeling." Olenna grumbled, shifting in her seat before glancing over to Brienne standing close by. "Surely you can send someone out to get some news?"
Brienne gave a small sigh before bowing her head slightly. "I'm sorry my lady, but our orders are to keep you safe.
"Bah! Just spare a squire for the task! I want to know what is going on!"
"I'm sure they're fine. The King has the best guards around, considering." Brienne tried to assure.
"Brienne is right. Loras is with him and father, so they are in good hands." Margaery added, though Olenna rolled her eyes slightly. The old noblewoman didn't press the matter further, only focusing a stern gaze on the distant front line.
Admittedly though Brienne had a bad feeling, since it was clear the battle wasn't going as planned. Part of her wanted to ride out to protect Renly, yet she followed her order guarding the ladies. "Please be alright." She muttered tensely
North along the Blackwater Rush - The Mountain
"Seems we're close." One of the Mountain's soldiers remarked as they peered over the crest of the hill their company was hiding by. The imposing knights and soldiers of House Clegane were all restless right now, having been traveling swiftly along the Gold Road and now right next to a bulk of the Tyrell forces. None doubted they were better than a Tyrell knight, yet the numbers were against them.
Gregor gave a low grumble of thought, planning their next move. "The Tyrell's are confident shits, that is for sure. If that carriage is the ladies just picnicking, then this is our chance to snatch them." He turned his horse about to face the rest of his men, all milling over their ration meals. Seeing the imposing knight had them be at attention to listen to him.
"Right you lot, you know why we're here. We're to find Lady Margaery and take her back to King's Landing. If we find any other Tyrells or that sword swallower Renly, kill them all." The group chuckled at that. "Not a single hair to be harmed on Margaery, but the Lord Regent said nothing about her handmaidens." A few lecherous laughs and whistles followed at the idea, a pleasing reward for the men.
With the men encouraged, he gestured about to quiet them down. "We wait until the bastards are scampering off. We'll charge in fast and hard, no mercy!" The bloodthirsty declaration had everyone cheer before they went about making final preparations for their attack. Gregor would take a hip flask with his pain killing medicine, taking a deep sweep of the bitter drink. Ever since the Maesters fitted metal into his legs and stitched him all up, he has been in constant annoying pain. Yet he let that pain fuel his anger, driving him to share his suffering with others. Today he hoped to give such pain to Renly himself.
Thirty Minutes into the Battle - Loras
It was only half an hour into the fight and already the frontline forces of Renly's army. The opening attack by these new devastating weapons had spread death and fearful confusion among the ranks. If it hadn't been for the timely rallying, whole companies would have retreated to the backlines. However, coordination on an offensive was scattered and slow. Mounted riders were constantly struggling to keep their horses from rearing them off as the noise from the cannons kept startling them, making any attempt for a charge seemingly impossible. Infantry meanwhile were constantly having their ranks broken as a single shot could take out half a dozen men. If a formation didn't flee in terror, the few who blindly marched on would be riddled with arrows from archers on the hilltop.
Loras and Renly knew they had to press the attack, yet even with their direct leadership between companies, chaos was winning out. It did not help with talk of Lord Mace's death spreading about many nobles whose loyalties were tied to the slain lord. Already there was talk of withdrawing back to the forward camp or even further retreat. Yet Loras knew such moves would only put their forces at a disadvantage, putting them on the defensive and dividing their forces into smaller numbers.
The regal Tyrell knight's glamor was gone as frustration and anger was clear on his face. His armor was dirted by tossed up earth and blood from men blasted to pieces. "Spread out your formations! March side by side, not in lines! " He yelled at a unit, trying to speak through the yelling and blasting. While there was a more organized push to the Lannister's hilltop, this new weapon was still dealing heavy casualties even with the change of their formations. They had the numbers, they just needed the courage to press on.
By now a group of riders had weaved up the hill, seeming to have found a second wind for themselves. Just as they reached halfway up though, one of the barreled shaped weapons faced them suddenly fired. From this distance, Loras couldn't see any projectile, yet whatever the weapon shot shredded both armored man and horse. Those that were untouched flew into a panic, as horses tossed off their riders or the knights fled in a panic only to be picked off by crossbows from those guarding the blasting weapons.
"How much more death can these infernal things do?" He muttered as other nearing troops suffered the same losses. Loras mind was spinning, the chaotic sounds surrounding him becoming muted as despair was truly sinking in. It wasn't until another knight shook him, the wide eyed noble seeming just as shell-shocked.
"Loras, we can't continue like this! The losses will suffer…"
He stared back at the knight, giving a growl of frustration at how powerless he felt right now. There was no way to savage anything in this battle, since even if they captured the hill they had the main force of the Lannister's army to deal with. "Then…spread the word to sound the retreat. We'll regroup at the forward camp." He ordered grimly. "Where is Renly?"
"Last I heard, towards the north closer to the river. Please, have him see reason Ser!" With that the knight rode off, yelling out Loras new orders.
With a tense sigh, Loras swiftly began to ride towards the river, weaving around the death and destruction surrounding him. Renly wasn't too difficult to notice since he wore his antler helmet and had grabbed a banner which he waved about on horseback in an attempt to rally fleeing soldiers. "Come back damn it!" He cursed out. "As your King, I order you to keep fighting with me!" Yet despite the fierceness of his orders, the fear surrounding everyone was impossible to break. For a moment he seemed ready to bash a fleeing footman with the shaft of his banner, only stopping himself when he saw something just across the narrow river.
A line of those blasting weapons was formed with a large group of archers. What was more notable was the banner that was set near a couple of armored riders, showing with the left half barring a rearing stag wearing a crown surrounded in gold touching hooves with a rearing lion surrounded by deep red. It was a twisted union of the Lannister and Baratheon House banners. The sight of it sparked something Loras never thought he'd see on Renly's face, pure uncontrolled fury.
"Joffrey! You blighted freak!" He roared out, urging his horse closer to the river even as the blasting weapons and archers began to fire out. Renly wasn't hit by the barrage, by sheer luck. "You dare spit on my family name! Your no son of Robert, never will be! Just an abomination of-" Before anything more could be cursed out, a ball of iron skipped across the ground, taking out the left legs of Renly's horse. The beast yelled in pain with Renly screaming out as he toppled over with his mount, one leg cursed under the armored creature's side. "Fuck! Aghhh!" He cried out as the horse thrashed in trying to move or get up, blood spurting everywhere from its broken legs. Drawing his dagger, Renly yelled out as he stabbed his horse in the eye, putting the creature down and stopping it from crushing him further. "Help! Ugh gods someone get me free!"
A few did hurry to him, grasping at the dead armored horse, drawing pained yells from Renly which showed how broken his leg was. Loras joined the group, glancing about as he tried to figure out a plan. "Ropes…leather straps, give me anything to help tug the horse off! Anyone with shields, guard us from those damned arrows!" Everyone was in a hurry to do what was asked. With enough binding brought, Loras had them strapped between his horse and Renly's tug it back while a few soldiers did their best to carefully pull the crippled King out. Renly's cries and curses showed his pain, yet he was freed.
"Loras…" Renly gasped as the soldiers carried him onto an empty supply cart. His armor was dirted by damp earth and blood, a complete flip to the glamorous image he had started the day as. "It's all falling apart. Mace is gone…so many dead…"
"Not while you still live." Loras tried to assure before a couple men nearby screamed out as a ball of iron struck them. Taking Renly's banner, he set it on the holder on his saddle, both to draw in more troops and improve morale. "Let's move! We must get the king to safety!" The cart driver urged the horse pulling it forward, Renly groaning painfully as the rattling and shaking was uncomfortable for his battered body. By now the rear bulk of the gathered forces were heading back towards the army camp or into the countryside. The only plan Loras had was coordinating with his brother Garlan and the other nobles, to try and coordinate some new strategy…if this breaking alliance had the will to continue the fight.
The Hilltop - Lannisters
It wasn't even an hour and already the brutal power of the cannons were scattering the vast numbers of Renly's forces like leaves in the wind. The terror was far more potent than Jaime had originally suspected. The number of dead and wounded was numerous, showing just how effective Zarin's invention was. What was expected was the arrival of Joffrey's surprise attack. How he got his hands on more canons was a curious question, no doubt some bargains cut with Zarin. Tywin would not be pleased by Joffrey working behind his back for such an important battle, even if the young king didn't put their side at risk with his antics.
Family bickering would likely come, right now was time to press the advantage. "Give the order to charge in. Don't give them a chance to fight back." Jaime calmly stated to the company leaders who had been observing the battle, with Sandor being the most imposing of the group. "If we can, we press towards their forward army camp so they are forced to abandon supplies. We're still outnumbered out there, so if your company feels outmatched, fall back. Also, any nobles of worth are to be captured if possible, especially the likes of the Tyrells or Renly." Everyone nodded or voiced agreement to the orders. "Then head out!"
"Heh, finally." Sandor grunted as he put on his fearsome hound shaped helmet. "Let's go men! Like to see anyone kill more than me today!" With that confident challenge given, Clegane rode off to lead his company off to battle.
Jaime couldn't deny that victory was easily in sight, though he had a gut feeling the aftermath wasn't going to be as clean cut. Even with his father's assurances, there was always one factor no one could predict. "The unexpected. Geralt proved that always a possibility." He muttered to himself as he watched their troops begin to ride down the hill with the cannons giving final barriages against their retreating foes. "So what will it be this time?"
Further West of the Battlefield - Brienne of Tarth
It was clear now the battle had taken a terrible turn as whole companies were now in full retreat. Brienne knew it had to be those strange sounds, some kind of new weapon they weren't expecting. It was the only way the Lannisters could outmatch a force double their estimated troop size. Already the Tyrell's carriage was packed, ready to head for the forward camp and even further to safety.
"Let's not delay! The enemy could be in sight at any minute!" She commanded the courtiers who drove the carriage finishing preparing the horses.
"Brienne! Riders along the river!" One of the knights spoke up, pointing northward along the river. Riding out from behind the small hills there was a small company of heavily armed troops.
"Spyglass." Handed the tool, she looked through it, only for sinking dread when she saw their banner. Yellow with three black hounds along the center. "House Clegane."
"The Hound or…could it be the Mountain?" The knight questioned tensely. "I heard how the Witcher crippled the fiend yet…could he be riding once more."
Brienne was silent, trying to figure out what the Clegane' purpose was. Knowing their past roles, it was likely to target someone. "Renly. The bastards are going for the King!" She growled. With all the chaos going around, Renly and the Tyrells were likely exposed. If they were captured or killed, then everything would fall apart. "Lady Margaery!" The fair woman leaned out of the window of the carriage, clear concern in her eyes. "I beg of you to let me and the knights ride out! King Renly…your brother is likely being targeted!"
Margaery's worry turned to fear, glancing aside before nodding. "Then go! Leave a few men to guard us. We'll get to the camp swiftly!"
Nodding, Brienne gave a faint smile to her. "Form up men! We have to catch up with those scoundrels!" Putting on her helmet, she thrusts one fist forward. "For King Renly! For House Tyrell!" The battle cry urged the knights to charge off with her, while the carriage headed in the opposite direction.
Margaery gave a tense sigh as she sat back in her seat, looking to her grandmother who glanced out the window. "Overconfidence. It's our curse my dear." Olenna sighed. "The question is, will we be able to endure this?"
Just Northward along the River - The Mountain
Right now Gregor felt more alive after the torturous months of recovery! To ride at a charge with a lance in hand at some gawking footsoldier or fearful knight. His company of heavy riders was like a rolling boulder as they charged a small group of fleeing troops. Their war horses, lances and blades killed a dozen in one strike before breaking away. As much as he wanted to pick off the injured or those who avoided their attack, they had a job to do.
"Keep picking off these weaklings! We'll find the damned Baratheon eventually!" He roared out as they took a pause in their carnage.
"Hah! I think that is a good lead!" One of his men pointed out. A bit northeast by the river was a small group of survivors, though made up of more knights and elite troops. Seeing Renly's House banner waving openly was no doubt a means to rally aid…and in this case draw their wrath.
"Yes." Gregor chuckled deeply, gripping his lance tightly. "Renly and any Tyrells are mine! Leave none alive!" With that, he rode forward, his bloodthirsty men riding out with the same sadistic glee for battle.
Further East - Loras
"Hells…as if this can't get any worse." Loras muttered as even from this distance he could make out the image of that yellow banner. The stress of the battle and now the arrival of a Clegane, made him want to break down at how the world was seemingly out to get them! He knew they couldn't out run them, since the cart carrying Renly could only go so fast. There was too much chaos going about to organize more soldiers, which he doubted could match such an elite force unless it was outnumbered two to one.
"Loras what do we-" One knight started to question.
"We face them, head on." Loras replied. "The King is their target. Those on foot will guard him while us who are mounted will attack directly to slow them down."
"Ser…they outnumber us and some of us are wounded."
"Yes, the odds are against us but what choice do we have? We run and they'll chase us down with our backs turned. Better to charge in and fight." Gripping his regal helmet, he lifted it up. "Yet may be knights of House Clegane, but their clumsy brutes compared to us in a joust!" Gripping his lance off its saddle strap, he hefted it up. "Ignore that gawking fear! Ride with me, for your honor and king!"
The fear gripping the fellow knights ebbed in Loras's speech, lances were drawn as the other yelled in courage. Even the battered Renly couldn't help but feel a regain of confidence as well. "All of you…" He muttered, wanting to say some praise yet too winded to say further.
"Troops, continue to retreat and guard the King! Knights, let's ride out!" Putting on his helmet and drawing his kite shield, Loras urged his horse to quickly move forward, the other riders swiftly following. The knights put themselves between the nearing Clegane riders, Loras began to brace his lance aimed forward as he pushed his mount into a full on charge. Even among the stomping hooves and other sounds of the battlefield the bloodthirsty roar of the Clegane riders. At the lead was him, the armored giant, the brutish Mountain.
Any other time, he would be fearful to face that monster in open battle. Yet he knew he could be beaten, he had out jousted him before the likes of Geralt had left him broken in a duel. Now it was his chance to end this monster! The Mountain noticed him as well, nearly ramming the side of his horse into a fellow rider just to line his lance up towards Loras. The two knights, polar opposites of each other yelled with fury, ending in the drowning sound of slamming lances and baying horses.
For this clash, be the true historical mark in the devastating battle of the Blackwater Plains.
Notice: Well once more I suffered the worst pit any writer can have…writers block! Plus a lot of gaming distractions. One day I'm writing nonstop, that suddenly it's a week of staring at a page. Seems managing such a one sided battle was more tricky to sort out. Whatever the case, the next half will be more direct with a clash and desperate plan that will determine the fate of the scattered Tyrells. As always, share a review, message me or even request to join my Discord!