Chapter 56: Fate of the Tyrells

Forward; Editing credit to Rainsfere

The clash between the opposing knights was like a violent thunderclap. Lances struck armored men, those directly hit were flung like a tossed up ragdoll. If the blow didn't break their bodies, the rough landing and a trampling warhorse likely finished them off. The more chaotic result was when two rival riders crashing into each other head out, a tangle of flailing horses and battered knights struggling to escape being thrashed by their own mounts. Others dealt glancing blows, strikes that broke bone and dented armored plates.

For Loras, he knew a direct blow from Gregor would mean certain death. Even a glancing hit could mean the end of him. At the same time, all his skill with the lance wasn't going to fell the Mountain in one blow, even if dismounted. Yet this opening charge would be a major factor in slaying his monster. Loras ignored the hateful roar of the giant man, instead keeping his lance steady for his right shoulder.

The two knights reached each other, the Mountain completely focused towards Loras' upper body, possibly even going for his head. Yet his stature and high angle gave the Tyrell knight the advantage he needed. His aim was true, driving the metal tip of the lance at the 'softest' spot on the armored giant. The layers of chainmail and cloth padding could only absorb so much, piercing into toughened flesh and dense bone. Even with the milk of the poppy numbing his body, the pressure made the brute's lance divert slightly, as a blow that would surely strike Loras' chest instead bounced off his kite shield, skidding along its recurved shape before getting a glancing blow to the left cheek of his helmet.

Both men rode past each other, Loras biting back a cry as he was certain something in his arm was pulled while the left side of his face flared with pain. A ringing filled his left ear and it was likely his cheek cracked from the glancing blow. As for the Mountain, the blow caused him to stagger in his saddle, a loud grunt of pain and the near limp sway of his arm showed he had been wounded. Yet his freakish endurance had him heft the heavy lance still, though clearly with more difficulty with how his arm hung lower.

What was unexpected was how the Mountain's group continued to ride on instead of turning around to another clash. Their charge was focused towards Renly's group, showing that they were not letting Loras' knights distract them any further. "After them!" Loras yelled from the pain in his face along with the deep dent to his helmet digging into his cheek. The knights wasted no time in following his command, chasing after the Clegane riders. They were lagging behind because they had to turn around, while their enemies had continued to press on from their attacking charge.

Suddenly, the horse of the leading knight whined out and staggered before tripping over in its run, neck and side having a few arrows riddling it. Glancing off to the right, a group of six riders with bows were hot on their tail.

"Chase them off!" Loras orders as four of his men break formation to harass the other riding archers before they could shoot any further. That left Loras with only eight men, some of whom were raddled from the opening charge. Gregor had close to twenty, not including the lighter calvary harassing them. The odds were suicidal, but they had to press on the attack to give Renly a chance to escape or reinforcements to arrive.

Pushing his horse even faster, he caught up to one of Gregor's men as he slammed his lance right into the center of his back. The man was caught off guard by the blow, yelling out and falling off before being trampled by the Tyrell knights. A few more were knocked off their horses by Loras' men but each one felled slowed them down. Already he could see the cart ferrying Renly ahead, the Mountain having his sights set on it.

"Damn it all!"

The group of soldiers escorting the King realized the enemy was upon them and quickly got into a defensive formation, spear men at the front, those with weapons and shields alongside them while what few archers readied arrows. Renly meanwhile did his best to sit up on the cart, having been given a shield and arming sword to protect himself, even if he could barely crawl in his crippled state.

"Protect the King!" The leading soldier declared, yet even the steadfast man couldn't help but tremble as the Mountain charged forward, the giant of a man riding an equal titanic mount charging right at them. Only the brute's bloodthirsty roar snapped the spearmen to raise their weapons high, barely diverting the horse from plowing through their ranks. Yet Gregor's massive lance slammed across three men, bone breaking force that left them howling on the ground or knocked out with mortal wounds.

The archers fired at the Mountain as he was turning around slowly, yet his shield and armor made their arrows little more than twigs against him. His laughter showed his confidence, even if his lance arm was slagging from Loras' blow. By now the rest of his men closed in, Renly's archers firing to take out one rider's horse while the spear man dismounted two more for the arms men to hack them on the ground. But these small victories were shattered as lances were bared, more of their ranks bashed and flung aside. All that remained was a lone spearman with three arms man and the six archers.

Gregor's men laughed and hooted in a show of intimidation, Renly glancing about fearfully especially with the Mountain circling closer. The drivers for the cart tried to spur their horse in a desperate attempt to escape, only for the swift slice of one of the rider's axe cutting the reins, letting the horse rush off.

"Nowhere to run, 'King'!" Gregor laughed before he heard the stomping arrival of Loras. "Persistent shit!" Even the others were surprised at how the Tyrell men continued this fight, when retreat was the common thought for most. Quickly they tried to take evasive action as the yelling knights rushed in, four striking hard against a rider while the other half dealt staggering blows.

Loras went right at Gregor like before, this time having the advantage of speed as the giant of a man was forced to raise his shield. Even at full charge and with perfect aim, striking the shield was hitting a wall. His arm forcefully jutted back, trying his best to dig the metal tip in, determined for either the weapon or one of them to yield to the blow. In the end, it was the weapon as hardened wood burst into a shower of large splinters. Gregor's shield slammed into his chest place, the lance tip having pierced through to split the shield, breaking it and even denting his chest plate.

For the Tyrell knight, he was certain a muscle in his right bicep was torn since it felt like it was on fire. The yell of one of Gregor's men trying to attack him though had Loras snap to attention, ignoring the pain as he hauled his broken lance to make him flinch. Bashing his ax aside with his battered shield, Loras grasped his mace from its holder before giving a full blow across the full men of the man, metal crumbling as it slammed into flesh and bone through the armor. With how the man slumped off his mount, the blow either instantly killed or knocked him out.

"TO ARMS!" Loras yelled out, his few men, rallying despite the odds. "FOR KING RENLY! FOR HOUSE TYRELL!" The remaining knights switched to personal arms, circling around against Gregor's men to limit their numeral advantage by avoiding being surrounded. The few foot soldiers standing their ground picked up the spears of the fallen, both to ward away the horses and protect the archers.

A chaotic skirmish broke out, a free-for-all between Gregor's company and the Tyrell soldiers. The Mountain himself was the Stranger himself, as any opponent who dared be in reach of his great sword was cut down. At best they kept him back as Gregor was focused on getting to Renly, who was trying to encourage his men, though drowned out by the chaos of battle.

Near a minute of intense fighting played out, Loras taking down two more of Gregor's men on his own even with his exhausting injuries. If his blows could stagger a knight as skilled as Jamie Lannister, then these men stood no chance against the Tyrell's mace. His men showed the same fearsomeness, with even those dismounted having enough of a chance to get back up to make a final stand before being cut down.

"To Hells with all of you!" Gregor's growing frustration at the changing tide of the battle was getting to him. Forcing his giant steed at the footmen, an upward swing with his great sword cleaved off one soldier's arm and decapitated another just beside him. The armored horse barreled through the last few, exposing the archers who were scrambling to escape the murderous warrior sweeping blade only to get cut down by his men. At this point, there was no one directly defending Renly laying on the cart.

Gregor was rounding about to claim his prized kill, only for yells off the left to draw his attention. Charging forward was more Tyrell knights, with Brienne at the front going right for the Mountain! His moment of overconfidence didn't give him time to spur his horse forward as the female warrior drove her battle lance right into the head of his mount. Between the woman's great strength and riding at full speed, even the armor on the beast's head couldn't spare it from what was likely a lethal blow as it cried out and tumbled to the side. Despite the surprise, Gregor in a rare show of reflex, was able to push himself off of his saddle into a tumble. While he avoided being crushed by his own horse, the fall drew a growl of intense pain as the muscles in his legs strained, hauling his armored form back onto his feet.

"Renly's whore!" He roared out at her in challenge, able to recognize the woman even with her helmet and armor on. Despite his focus on her, Gregor's guard wasn't down as he heard a rider coming from behind. Whipping around, he put his full weight behind his sword as it cleaved horizontally through Loras's horse's head and deep into its neck. Even as his war mount skidded into a fall, the Tyrell didn't let his mace miss its swing as it struck across the Mountain's helmeted cheek. While the landing was harsh for Loras, the howl of Gregor's pain eased the ache.

Much like the fight with Geralt, his great helm was crumpled, pushing into his face under it. Ripping the helmet off, the snarling, ugly visage of the Clegene glared down at him. Raising his sword, the scene mirrored the fateful moment from the tournament. Yet this time Loras wouldn't make the same mistake, instead of trying to block, he let go of his shield to roll along his left side. Any proper knight could tumble and dodge even in plate, even if it made all of Loras' stacking injuries pain him further. Just avoiding the Mountain's blade, he lashed out with his mace to his shin. Even the light blow was enough to make the giant howl as the strain on his crippling injury was growing.

Yet the blow didn't give him enough of an opening to get back up as Gregor lashed out with a kick with his other foot, cracking at the Tyrell's hip before turning into a stomp onto his thigh. "No more…squirming!" He growled, spit flowing from his snarling, grasping his other hand along the long blade to go for a stab for the head. All Loras could do was parry with his mace with a swing, diverting the stab to the left and into his left shoulder through the gap in his armor. Loras howled as the sword pierced through the other layers of armor before digging into flesh and muscle. Howling out, a thick spurt of blood came out once the blade pierced through, the sight of that and the Tyrell's pain making the Mountain laugh.

His glee on hurting Loras was cut short as he heard the fierce yell of Brienne, lance leveled right at him. While he couldn't get his sword up to defend, he was able to lean away to get only a glancing blow across his chest plate while his massive, armored arm clotheslined the female warrior off her saddle. Brienne gave out a pained cry being dismounted, along with getting a rib cracking kick to the side by the giant. Drawing out his sword from Loras' shoulder, he raised it up ready to finish the knight off only to give a grunt of pain as something glanced off the back right of his skull.

Twisting about, he saw Renly with a crossbow in hand with a couple bolts, having snagged them off a slain archer who slumped against the cart. Despite lacking the skill, shooting a man as big as the Mountain at twenty paces away was doable. With trembling hands, he quickly loaded another bolt and fired it, dented the plate but didn't pierce through. "That's your best?" Gregor grunted, before stomping forward even as Loras twisting onto his front, blood spurting thickly from his shoulder wound in trying to crawl after. Brienne struggled to get up onto her knees, staggering to move because of the pain in her back and side. Both showed fierce desperation to defend their King, even with their bodies battered so much.

"Damn you!" Renly cursed, just able to shoot a third time which flew off to the right of the massive killer. Throwing the crossbow next, he grabbed the arming sword beside him yet it seemed little more than a dagger to Gregor's great sword.

"Hah…some last words!" Sword overhead, Gregor slammed it down, the weight and strength breaking Renly's sword with ease before hacking right into his left shoulder and chest. The Baratheon only gave a deep grunt, wide eyed as his regal armor was torn apart as the blade cleaved into his body. His hacking blows had crushed or cut into Renly's lungs, making any sounds from him come up as bloody wheezes and gasps. Gregor laughed, swinging again and again as he hacked at the helpless King, splattering gore across his large frame.

For Loras, despite the horrid despair watching his king and lover being butchered before his eyes, a pure fury filled his wounded body. "MONSTER!" Brienne yelled as she had gotten up, charging at Gregor with her sword up. Too caught up in his kill, he barely had enough time to turn around to avoid getting hit across the back along with having his great sword partly rise up to block. The woman warrior had shocking strength and full weight to her blow, making her sword just dig into the nook of his shoulder gap. If not for the layers of armor under it, she would have cleaved quite far in.

Growling out, Gregor butted her back with the hilt of his sword, shoving her back before swinging at her head. Despite staggering back, she got her longsword up, bracing her other arm to the flat of her blade just so she didn't get swatted aside by the blow. Sparks flew as their blades grinded as both pulled back, clashing their swords again and again. Yet while Brienne had better skill and speed, Gregor's raw might was able to match up. One swing clipped her helmet, making her stagger back and tear the dented piece off which left her nearly blind. It allowed Gregor to follow up with a left hand reaching out for her. The massive grasp clenched down on half her head, armored fingers digging in with crushing might. The thumb dug into Brienne's left eye, the woman howling as thick blood spurting out from the socket that was being jabbed into, all while Gregor growled at her suffering.

Yet before he could crush down fully onto her skull, a grunt then scream came from behind him causing him to relax his grip on Brienne just enough for her to lash out, stabbing her sword at his chest. The pain and adrenaline let her blade jab even through the dense chest plate, forcing him back along with making him let go of her. While the nauseating pain and half blinded, she could see how this opening was given. Loras has crawled in during the duel, having snagged his broken lance tip to stab at the right sided gap at the thigh and groin of Gregor's armor. It was a mortal blow if the weapon had driven deep enough. Loras stood fully up, clearly struggling yet determined to finish this fight, just as much as Brienne. All it took was a glance between the two to show the commitment to finish the fight as Gregor yanked the lance out.

With a pained yell Brienne swung first, glancing off the Mountain's already injured shoulder before Loras grasped his mace in both hands to slam it into the giant's gut. The two kept an onslaught of attacks, making the already winded man unable to counter attack. It almost seemed like it was up to who would drop from exhaustion first, the two or the Mountain.

"Fall damn you!" With the last of his strength Loras struck under the man's jaw, the blow knocking out teeth before striking down low to Gregor's wounded thigh. Both men fell, Loras dropping onto his side while Gregor onto his knees. The brutish man growled in a wheezing manner, his already gaunt face a mess of bruises, cuts and fractures. His arms trying to raise up to swing his great sword one last time but being unable to.

"Fu-fuck both of you…Killed the king…worth it…" He gasped from his broken jaw, what teeth he had giving a twisted grin, not giving the satisfaction to beg.

Brienne, gripping her sword, grit her teeth in anger and pain before with a final yell slashed at the man's neck. With how dense it was, she couldn't cleave through in one swing, Gregor spewing up thick blood from his mouth and wound before the second blow made it tumble, expression stuck in that scowl. It took Brienne a long moment to realize the fighting around them was ending, as Gregor's remaining men were retreating at this point. Dropping her sword, she stumbled onto her knees beside Loras.

"Loras…w-we won." She gasped, looking over the knight's battered body. His eyes were barely open and face so pale skinned, yet a faint smile hinting at his lips. "Say something." When she reached under to try to have him sit up, she recoiled feeling how much blood there was from the shoulder wound. It wasn't hard for her to realize the stab there had cut a vital vein. "Tonic…bandages! Quickly, someone!" She called out, only for Loras to have one hand grasp her arm.

"Brienne…I'm not going to make it." He panted. "Too much blood…doubt a Maester can patch me up...if we could even reach one."

"Nonsense. You can't give up now…not after this!"

Loras closed his eyes, huffing deeply as he shook his head. "I failed to protect Renly…but I avenged him…" Giving a gasping chuckle. "Thank you…charging in like that…fighting alongside me." His hand squeezed her arm more tightly.

"Loras please!"

"Tell Margaery…my brothers…I'm sorry." His eyes were drooping from exhaustion. "Going…to see Renly now…let him know you…y-you…" His hand let go, dropping aside as his head lolled to the side.

"Loras! No…" She struggled to pull him up again before her head spun intensely, the pain of her crushed eye and other injuries shocking her body. Despite her will to stay conscious, her body slumped onto her left side, panting and gasping as her blurring vision could see the remaining knights rushing to them.

Twelve Hours Later - The Blackwater Plains, Lannister Base Camp - The Lannisters

Jaime poured water from the waterskin he had to cool himself down and wash away the grime of the battle. Though he couldn't consider it much of a battle but more of a massacre. The Tyrell army was practically routed from the terrifying power of the cannons along with their leaders being wiped up. His gaze looked to the table in the tent, the region map still set from the morning hours before the battle. "A glorious victory…" He muttered, though his voice showed no pride in it.

Hearing footsteps approaching, he moved to claim a seat at the table, since he knew the others were about to arrive. Joffrey was the first to enter, the young man dressed in fine plate and having a prideful smirk on his face from the results of today's battle. Tywin was close behind with a few Lords who took part in the battle. He had a stern glare at Joffrey, though his gaze did glance to Jaime once he took his seat across from him on the other side of the table. Zarin was next, the alchemist red robes dusty with black powder and other alchemical residue, his aged face clearly tired from lack of proper rest throughout the day.

The silence remained as the courtiers would go about setting down fresh food and pouring drinks for everyone. The clearest tension was between Tywin and Joffrey, as the younger Lannister was tapping his fingers impatiently to the growing annoyance of his grandfather. Once the last cup was filled, Tywin at last spoke. "If his grace wishes to speak, he has permission to do so."

"You've seemed to take it as an insult when I do, grandfather." Joffrey muttered. "The point is, despite your protests, I have proven myself capable of taking charge in battle. My tactic of firing across the river caught the Tyrells off guard when they retreated out of your range."

"It was a cunning move, your grace." One of the Lord remarked, though the cold look from Tywin silenced him.

"The issue is that you informed no one at this gathering of such a plan. You took men and weaponry that could have been used here…along with putting unneeded risk onto yourself." Tywin explained.

"Risks? What you expect of me is to sit by while you and the others fight my battles!" Joffrey countered back. "I had a whole river between me and Tyrells, so safety wasn't an issue…it's because my plan was something you didn't think of yourself."

While Tywin seemed ready to speak back, Jaime would intervene. "And you are right, Joffrey. We didn't expect cannon range could cross that distance, so we didn't account for that. While the battle was assured from the start, your action did benefit us all."

The balanced praise made Joffrey nod, pleased before glancing back to Tywin. "Exactly. This is to show I am not a figurehead, but a capable leader. You always pressure me to do more and be better, yet always try to restrain me. You forced me to work behind your battle."

As much as Tywin wished to scold the young king back, he couldn't think of a reasonable way to do so. It was no secret how Small Council meetings played out, along with sidelining Joffrey on the matters of warfare. "Then I must ask…how did you obtain the weapons for this scheme." Just his questioning look towards Zarin was enough to show his suspension.

The alchemist sighed before nodding. "His grace has seemed to quietly funnel extra funds in production a little over a week before the battle. Our supply of cannons and shots was more than enough, so I considered the gesture preparation for future fights." He explained. "Beyond that, I am not the one in charge of our warehouses and storage. Yet I can see few wishing to ignore any request from the king." Overall, it was sound reasoning…even if in truth Zarin had personally worked with Joffrey to ensure his surprise attack played out.

"Lord Regent…your grace, surely we can worry on such matters later." One of the Lord spoke up. "Right now, the battle was flawless. Our casualties were few while the Tyrell's staggering, with most of their forces now scattered to the countryside."

"Along with Lord Renly, Lord Mace and possibly Ser Loras were killed as well." Jaime plainly stated. "Yet I have to ask, what was Ser Gregor's company doing far beyond our lines? He serves you, so it's obvious it was by your command."

With the matter of Clegene brought up, Tywin nodded. "His goal was to capture Lady Margaery and eliminate any male Tyrells and Renly retreating from the battlefield." He calmly explained. "His death was unexpected."

"Seems you relied on him too much, even if he was pieced back together, I doubt it was as capable as he used to be." Joffrey remarked. "Renly being dead will break the will of his alliance. The question is how do we deal with the rest of the Tyrells? Capturing Margaery would have been fitting to force them to bend the knee…perhaps even marry her into our family to ensure control of High Garden and the Reach."

"At least you understand her importance." Tywin muttered. "It will matter mainly on how Willas and Garlan Tyrell act. Our best approach is to siege High Garden and capture Willas before news of this battle reaches him. As for Garlan, his capture or death will ensure no capable military leader remains for the scattered troops."

"Then let us hope Ser Garlan see's reason in avoiding a senseless fight." Jaime muttered. "Because after today, warfare is never going to be the same."

Joffrey smirked. "Fear not uncle, your skills will always be valued in my eyes. Powerful as Zarin's inventions are, bravery and loyalty of capable knights will never falter." With that graceful praise given, the young man leaned in. "Now, what reports are of Alya's forces? I assume they are cutting any retreat towards the King's Road?"

"Indeed your grace." Zarin informed. "We did receive notice from Dornish scouts. Any stray forces are being rounded up and will ensure no trouble comes in our march to High Garden…"

As the meeting drifted onto matters of troop movement and logistics, Zarin had a pleased gleam in his eyes. Today was a great success, as one of the realm's greatest knights understood the might his technology could unleash. With Joffrey ever more loyal to him, his influence would only grow in court as well. True Tywin would question his loyalties, yet the results he'd bring in the coming months would smooth things over. Overall, everything was going as planned to ensure the path of change continued…

Sandor Clegane

The Hound sat alone outside his tent, sipping at his large waterskin full of ale. The scarred man did his best to ignore the yammering and cheering of the other soldiers enjoying their victory against what be seen as one of the biggest armies formed in Westeros history. He didn't care at all for that, because right now he was cursing the whole battle…the whole blasted war.

"Fucking Tywin…" He cursed as he chugged his drink, ale dripping down his chin. "Dragging Gregor out there…not telling me." Likely for good reason since he could have used the battle as a chance to get revenge on the bastard. He thought his brother was beyond fixing after what Geralt did to him, yet as usual the freak proved to bounce back with likely a fortune of care by the Maesters.

"To think…that baby faced Loras and the ugly bitch of Tarth. Nah…it has to be a fluke." With a growl he kicked aside a barrel nearby. "Gregor was more likely to drop on his own sword than die to those cunts!" Yet deep down he knew the two had bested his brother. After what he saw at the tournament, he knew for all his brother's cruelty and might, willpower and determination could outmatch him.

All that was certain was his goal for revenge was forever gone. "Except for her now." He muttered as he tilted his waterskin over, no drops left in it before tossing it aside. "Brienne. Guess I have to add you to the list with the Witcher now." A crooked snarl on his face, feeling that despite his hatred, it was going to be a hollow hunt for those two.

Four Days after the Battle of Blackwater Plains - The Countryside of the Northwest of the Reach - The Tyrells

Brienne grit her teeth as she slowly walked down the hallway, the left side of her ribcage and right eye aching the most out of all her injuries. From what the Maester stated, she had been lucky to avoid anything crippling, beyond her crushed eye, the rest of her body would recover properly so long as she didn't strain herself. Despite the pain, she had taken the effort to dress herself in her sky blue surcoat with her family crest set on the center of the chest, along with a large leather belt, soft leather pants and sturdy boots. For her eye, the Maester had it done stitching and set a ointment soaked bandage to further protect from any late infections. Not that she cared for her looks, since it was never one any cared for beyond jest. At least now, none could deny her strength as a fighter or having faced the Mountain himself.

She couldn't believe she had slept through two days since the battle, showing just how grueling the battle against Gregor had been…yet that didn't ease the pain of losing both Renly and Loras. Currently, the leading forces of the Tyrell army had retreated to an old fort built around fifty years back when a surge of bandits had blighted the region. While it had been left abandoned, the structure had hardly been weathered by the decades and offered broad ground for the scattered army to regroup at. They could only hope the Lannisters forces were too focused on rushing to High Garden to siege it than hunting them down.

Following the directions given to the meeting room, she could hear the deeper voice of Garlan, Loras's second eldest brother speaking up. "-it is madness what you're suggesting sister!"

"Yet what other choice do we have!" Maragery countered back sternly. "Our allies are either gone or scattered. What I propose-"

"Puts you in danger!" Yet at that point Brienne entered the chamber, everyone would go silent as all attention was on her.

Garlan stood over a worn table with a map of the Reach spread out with what nobles and knights they had left surrounding. Garlan had a more chiseled handsomeness compared to softer Loras, though the tragedy and stress of the last few days have given him a weary shadow across his face. Sitting across was Margaery, dressed in a black plain gown of fine thread, mourning for her father and brother. Olenna sat to the back left of her granddaughter, also dressed in black, vale of her headwrap partly hiding her face. Despite it, the old woman had a sharp gleam in her eyes, a cold calm anger instead of sorrow shown. "Brienne of Tarth, it is an honor for you to be with us considering." Garlan greeted respectfully. "I wish this was in…better circumstances, considering the losses we've suffered."

"It is…and I feel at fault for that." Brienne humbly admitted as she stood at the side of the table, head bowed. "I was sworn to protect King Renly and I failed him."

"As were many that day." Garlan sighed. "Yet banish any guilt, for it was our own pride and Lannister scheming that brought our failure then." Stepping closer, he placed a firm hand on one shoulder. "You and Loras avenged Renly, along with countless others that monster has taken. Considering the scars you now bare, you put your life on the line…and that alone deserves recognition." Glancing to the others in the chamber, he nodded before looking back at her.

It took a moment for Brienne to realize what the knight intended. "Ser I…I do not…" Yet the hand on her shoulder stayed firm.

"I know if Loras and Renly would want this. Man or woman, you are worthy of this in my eyes. Do it for them." Garlan softly urged.

Taking a long moment, she nodded before gradually shifting down to one knee, whining a bit from the arch in her ribs. She bowed her head as Garlan stood before her, drawing his sword which he placed on her right shoulder gently.. "Brienne of House of Tarth do you swear before the eyes of gods and men to defend those who cannot defend themselves, to protect all women and children, to obey your captains, your liege lord, and your king, to fight bravely when needed and do such other tasks as are laid upon you, however hard or humble or dangerous they may be?" With each sentence, he flipped to her left shoulder then back again as per the rite.

"I swear to uphold the vows of knighthood. To put all my honor and heart follow the chivalrous path." She spoke, voice strong with certainty.

Setting the blade lastly on her left shoulder, Garlan smiled faintly. "Then rise Ser Brienne of Tarth, Mountain Slayer. Be recognized as the first female knight of the realm." All gathered clapped their hands, with muttered words of praise.

Standing, Brienne tried to keep her joy muted in this moment. While he knew many beyond this room would never recognize her as a knight, she would strive to uphold the ideals of the role in these chaotic times. "Thank you Ser Garlan for this honor. Yet, I feel this historic moment distracts us from more pressing matters."

"Indeed it does, Ser Brienne." Olenna muttered. "House Tyrell stands at the brink, between my son dead and our ancestral home under threat." Her aged hands clasped together tightly.

"She is right. Between this new weapon along with this shocking alliance with a faction within Dorne, we're now at the disadvantage." Garlan remarked.

"Even more so with the Stormlanders." One of the nobles added. "They likely fear reprisal for allying with us and will now likely hunker down in their own holdings or reach out to Lord Stannis now."

"So then what choices do we have now?" Another noble demanded. "Surely we can just gather our strength out here. Regroup our armies, wait until the Lannisters' numbers thin in the Reach."

"It is the best choice we have." Garlan stated in agreement. "I've already sent our fastest riders out to warn my brother Willas in High Garden of the threat coming to him. By right, he is now Lord of our House. Knowing him, he'll likely take as much of our wealth out of our home, spread it to other allied holdings and with him to limit what the Lannisters can gain." Glancing up, the knight had a stern glare. "Though I swear, I plan to make the crown bleed for every foot of land they tried to hold. Fair as the Reach is, it's our land and we know it better than anyone. Like a thorny bush, they'll cut themselves in trying to struggle against us when we lash back."

It was quite the fierce words to share, even more so from the kindly knight. Yet Brienne knew despite his focus, the death of his father and brother had sparked something grim within the man. Her concerns were silenced quickly as Margaery spoke up. "Brother, I don't doubt your determination to lead a resistance with Willas, however we are in need of allies."

Sighing, Garlan knew this matter would return. "I told you it's too risky. At the least we should discuss this with Wallas."

"Oh and how long will that be? A week…two…or perhaps a month?" Olenna scoffed.

At this point Brienne had to question. "Forgive me, but what are the Ladies suggesting?"

Margaery took that chance to speak up further. "I proposed that I and grandmother travel north to the Riverlands and seek to form an alliance with Lord Robb Stark. I'll offer my hand in marriage even if it means gaining the might of the North or even that of the full Winterstorm alliance to regain control of the Reach."

"What you suggest is a huge risk to yourself and to our grandmother." Garlan started before the old woman chuckled.

"You act as if she's dragging me off against my will. She'll need my wit and experience to get any reason through those Northerners." She reasoned. "Besides, if she is out of the Reach, then the Lannisters will not be able to have her as a hostage or wed her to that dreadful Joffrey."

"Yet even from here, the trip to the Riverlands is hundreds of miles through harsh terrain without the King's Road." Garlan tried to argue.

"Forgive me Ser but…this is the best chance to slip by enemy lines." Brienne stated. "The Lannisters' eyes will be focused southward. A small yet elite force could protect the Ladies and carry them safely to Lord Robb. Even if he cannot ally with your House, surely their honorable ways will have them put under their protection."

Staring long between the three, Garlan tried to find some reason to deny their logical claims. Slamming his fist to the table, he bowed his head. "I don't want to do this…yet I know if I refuse you'll never stop speaking of it." Looking back up, he focused on Brienne. "Then I ask you this, will you help take charge of this escort and guard Lady Margaery and Olanna with your life."

"Of course Ser, on my honor as a knight." Brienne answered without hesitation.

"Good, then I'll see to arranging the best men we have for this task. You will of course have a say on those chosen." Glancing to Margaery, he had a serious look in his eyes. "Sister…if you are determined on this path-"

"I know this is a time of war and chaos brother." She sighed. "Much of it is beyond my understanding. Yet on the matters of courts and diplomacy, this is what I'm best at. Better to gain us new allies than crower in a dusty fortress hoping for the best."

After a long moment of silence, Garlan nodded in understanding. "I can only pray to the Seven that we're making the right choice."

Olanna huffed at the remark. "I prefer to put faith in our family instead of the gods, grandson. At this point, the fate of House Tyrell is going to be decided in the coming months. It will be a struggle that all of us will have a role in."

Notice: Again when all seems normal, life slaps you with trouble. My cat had a close call with death because of an infection, but he's likely to fully recover after a long month. Personal matters aside, this was one action driven chapter that proved harder to write than planned. However, I feel it was a fitting clash to have in taking down the fearsome Mountain.

Hoping I can get more chapters down this year. I feel my rate of releases has been too slow considering. Can say I'll wish for great inspiration on my birthday this year! Anyway, also wishing to get another fanfic out soon. I know I keep promising it but it's still happening!

As always, please share a review or even reach out for an invite to my Discord to talk about all sorts of things along with get early previews of my chapters.