Kindly leave a review now the conquest of Westeros begins
It had been two weeks since they left for Westeros and followed the Imp's plan ... They attacked the "Stormlands", conquering some castles until they reached the ancestral seat of House Baratheon Storm's End.
The knowledge that the Usurper's ancestral castle was to be reclaimed filled Connington with happiness and satisfaction.
But first ... He needed to regain his ancestral home ... The Gryphon Nest.
To do this, Connington sent the archers ahead.
Balaq the Black commanded a thousand men armed with bows. As a young man, Jon Connington had the same disdain for archers as most knights, but exile had taught him much. In its way, the arrow was as deadly as the sword, so he had insisted Strickland divide Balaq's troops into ten companies and send one on each ship for the long journey.
Six of those ships had managed to stay together long enough to discharge their riders on the shores of Cape Wrath. The fledglings assured them that the other four had been delayed and would not be coming, but Grif thought they might have sunk as well or landed elsewhere. At the moment, the Golden Company had six hundred bows. Although for this, two hundred would have been enough.
"They must be trying to send crows ... This is the Maester's tower. You have to watch it and shoot down any birds that come out of the castle," Connington pointed out on the map he had drawn in the mud of the camp to Black Balaq." Connington said
"Yes, none shall escape my gaze", replied the summer islander.
Balaq commands a thousand bows, with a third using crossbows and another third wielding double-curved horn-and-sinew bows common to Essos. The archers with Westerosi blood use big yew longbows, while Balaq and his kin use great bows of famed goldenheart. But regardless of their weapon, all of Balaq's archers were eagle-eyed veterans who had already proven themselves in a hundred battles, and they demonstrated that again at the Gryphons rest.
Small but strong, Griffin's Roost is located on a lofty crag jutting out from the shores of Cape Wrath. The castle lies surrounded by red stone cliffs on three sides, which descend into the stormy waters of Shipbreaker Bay. The land-facing approach is a long natural ridge called the Gryphon's throat. The entrance to the Gryphon's throat is guarded on one end by a gatehouse and by the castle's main gate and two round towers on the other end.
Besides faded tapestries, Griffin's Roost is also decorated with arched windows displaying myriad diamond-shaped panes of red and white glass. The bed in the Lord's chambers sits below a canopy of red and white velvet. Finally, the great hall contains the carved and gilded Griffin Seat where fifty generations of Connington's have ruled.
The east tower, the tallest of the castle's, offers a view of the surrounding countryside. The castle also contains stables, armoury, barracks, and a master's tower with a rookery. A secret stair beneath the Sept's altar of the Mother leads to a bolt-hole, while another stair under the northwest tower goes to a hidden cove beneath the crag, which appears when the tide is out. A well-provisioned garrison can hold the castle against twenty times as many men.
Jon Connington assumed they would lose a hundred men, maybe more. They lost four.
The forest had been allowed to engulf the meadows leading to the gatehouse so that Franklyn Flowers had only to camouflage himself in the undergrowth to present himself with his men twenty paces from the gates before emerging from the trees with the battering ram they had prepared in the camp. The creak of wood against wood caused two men to look out onto the battlements; Black Balaq's archers shot them down before they had time to rub their sleepy eyes.
The door, it turned out, was closed but not locked, and it gave way on the second knock so that Ser Franklyn's men had already gone half their throats before the warhorn sounded the alarm in the castle.
The first raven emerged from the tower as the grapples were already passing over the outer wall, followed by the second moments later. After that, no bird ever flew a hundred paces before being struck by arrows. A guard spilt a bucket of oil on the first men to reach the gates, but since he hadn't had time to heat it up, the container did more damage than the contents. Soon the song of the swords was heard in half a dozen places along the battlements.
The men of the Golden Company climbed onto the walls shouting:
A gryphon! A gryphon!
House Connington's ancient battle cry, which no doubt further confused the defenders.
It was all over in a matter of minutes. Grif rode a white steed down the Gulch alongside Harry Strickland. As he approached, a third raven flew out of the Maester's tower but was struck down by Balaq the Black himself.
"Not one more message," Connington said to Franklyn Flowers.
The next to fly out of the tower window was the Maester, who flapped his arms in a hopeless attempt to fly.
That put an end to any resistance, and the remaining guards laid down their arms. In this way, Jon Connington recovered the Gryphon's Nest and became its Lord again.
"Ser Franklyn, go to the main keep and the kitchens and tell everyone to come out same with the Maestre's tower and the armoury. Ser Brendel, the stables, the Sept, and the barracks. I want everyone to go out into the courtyard. And let there be no slaughter. Do not forget to look under the Mother's altar; a hidden staircase leads to a secret refuge. There is another under the northwest tower; that one goes down to the sea. Let no one escape! " Jon Connington ordered.
"No one will escape, my lord", promised Franklyn Flowers.
Connington waited for them to leave and called the Half-Maester.
"Haldon, take care of the Ravens. Tonight I will have to send letters," Connington said.
"I hope they left us a raven," Haldon said.
Even Old Harry had been impressed by the speed of his victory.
"I didn't expect it to be that simple," commented the Captain-General as they entered the main hall to see the Gryphon Throne, carved with gold-plated wood, where fifty generations of the Connington family had sat and ruled.
"The difficult part shall come later, we have been catching them by surprise, but that will end sooner or later, even if Black Balaq kills every last raven in the kingdom," Connington said with a grimace.
Strickland examined the faded tapestries on the walls, the semicircular windows with their stained glass windows of thousands of red and white diamonds, and the shipyards of spears, swords, and warhammers.
"Well, let them come. We can defend this place against an army twenty times our own; it just takes enough provisions. You said we could come by sea if needed, correct?" Said the Captain-General.
"Yes, there is a cove hidden under the cliff, which appears at low tide" But in truth, The Gryphon's Nest was a strong keep but meagre, and as long as they were there, they too would seem unimportant. Nearby was another castle, much larger and more impregnable.
"If we take it, the whole kingdom will reel," Connington thought with some satisfaction.
"Excuse me for a moment, Captain-General. My lord father is buried under the Sept, and I have not prayed for him for too many years," Connington said with a few tears welling up in his eyes.
"Of course, my lord", Harry replied.
But when they parted, Jon Connington did not go to the Sept but headed for the roof of the east tower, the highest in the Gryphon's Nest. As he climbed, he remembered the times he had made that ascent, with his lord father, who enjoyed looking at the nearby forests and crags from atop the east tower of the castle, knowing that everything before him belonged to the Gryphon's; and once, only once, with Rhaegar when he returned from Dorne, he stayed there, together with his escort, for a fortnight.
"How young he was then, and I was even younger mere boys, both of us," Jon thought with sadness.
At the welcoming banquet, the Prince played for them on his silver-stringed harp.
"A sorrowful love song ... When it was over, there was not a woman in the hall who was not weeping", Jon Connington remembered.
On the other hand, the men did not weep, least of all his father, who only desired new lands. His father had spent the entire evening hoping to win Rhaegar's favour and settle a dispute between himself and Lord Morrigen.
The door to the tower's roof was so jammed that it is apparent that it had not been opened in many years. Jon pushed with all his might and nearly wrenched his shoulder, but when he finally made it out onto the battlements, he was greeted by a beautiful sight, the landscape was as heady as he remembered: the cliff, with its wind-sculpted rocks; the sea, roaring against the base of the castle, like a tireless beast; leagues and leagues of sky and clouds; the forest, with its autumnal colours.
"The lands of your father are beautiful, Jon," Rhaegar said with an easy charm.
"Someday they will be mine", Answered the child that had been.
"As if that would impress a prince, the heir of the entire Kingdom, from the Wall to the Dornish Sea," Connington thought with a smile on his face.
The Griffin's Nest belonged to him when his father died, but only for a few years. From that place, Jon Connington had ruled over lands that stretched for leagues and leagues to the West, North and South, just like his father and his father's father. But neither his father nor his father's father had ever lost their dominions, and he had.
"I climbed too high, I loved too passionately, I was too daring. I tried to reach a star, I didn't reach it, and I fell," Jon thought sadly.
After the Battle of the Bells, when Aerys II Targaryen "The Mad King", in a mad attack of ingratitude and mistrust, stripped him of all titles and sent him into exile, the lands and lordship remained in the hands of the Connington family, and they passed on to their cousin Ser Ronald, whom Jon had named Castilian when he left for King's Landing to accompany Prince Rhaegar.
Later, after the war, Robert Baratheon had finished destroying the gryphons. Due to his role as Hand of King Aerys during the Rebellion, Robert Baratheon was unwilling to remove him from exile, as he had been among Rhaegar's closest friends. His cousin Ronald was allowed to keep the castle and the head, but not the manor, and from then on, he was only the Knight of the Griffin's Nest; They also took nine-tenths of his lands from him to distribute them among the neighbouring lords who had supported Robert.
Ronald Connington had died years ago, and the current Knight of the Griffin's Nest, his son Ronnet, had gone off to war in the Riverlands, it was said.
... Better than better ...
Jon Connington knew that people fought for what they believed to be theirs, even if they had won it through theft, and the last thing he wanted was to celebrate his return by killing the blood of his blood. Ronnet's father "Red" had been quick to take advantage of his lord cousin's fall from grace, but Ronnet was just a boy then. Jon no longer despised Ronald as much as he once did. After all, it was his crime. He was the one who had lost everything at the Battle of the Bells because of his arrogance.
Jon Connington knew that Robert Baratheon, alone and wounded, was hiding in the city, and he also knew that Robert's head on the tip of a spear would have put an immediate end to the rebellion. He was young and haughty; how could he not be? King Aerys had named him Hand and placed an army at his command, and he was determined to prove himself worthy of Rhaegar's trust and affection. He would kill the rebel, and all the Bards of the Seven Kingdoms would speak of him.
So he advanced toward Stoney Sept, surrounded the city, and ordered a search. His knights went house to house, breaking down every door, searching every cellar, and even crawling through the sewers, but Robert eluded them. The inhabitants supported him and passed him from one hiding place to another, always one step ahead of the King's men. The entire city was a nest of traitors. In the end, the Usurper ended up hiding in a brothel. What King would hide behind women's skirts?
"Only Robert Baratheon", Connington thought scornfully.
But as the search continued, Eddard Stark and Hoster Tully arrived at the Sept with a rebel army. Then came the bells and the battle, and Robert came out of the brothel with hammer in hand and nearly killed Jon on the steps of the ancient Sept that gave the city its name.
After that, Jon Connington told himself for many years that it was not his fault, that he had done everything humanly possible. He searched every hole in every shack, offered pardons and rewards, hung hostages in cages, and vowed that he would not give them food or drink until Robert was handed over to him. It was of no use.
"Not even Tywin Lannister himself could have done more", he insisted one night to Blackheart during his first year of exile.
"There you are wrong ... Lord Tywin would not have bothered to search for Robert. Instead, he would have burned the city with everyone in it: men, children, babies, nobles, septon saints, pigs, whores, rats and rebels. There would be no left one alive. Then when the fire was out, and only ashes and embers remained, he would have sent his men to fetch the bones of Robert Baratheon. And finally, when Stark and Tully had arrived, he would have offered them the royal pardon, and they both would have accepted it and then returned home with their tails between their legs, "Myles Toyne replied.
"Myles was right. I wanted the glory of killing Robert in single combat and not to be remembered as a butcher. And so Robert escaped me and killed Rhaegar on the Trident," Jon reflected ruefully, leaning against the battlements of his ancestors.
"I failed the father, but I will not fail the son", He murmured, full of conviction.
By the time Connington returned below, his men had already gathered the castle garrison and the surviving villagers in the courtyard. It was true that Ser Ronnet had gone north with Jaime Lannister, but there were still family in the Roost: among the prisoners were Raymund, Ronnet's little brother; his sister Alynne, and Ronald Storm, his bastard son, a boy with red hair like flames; all of them very useful hostages if Ronnet "The Red" returned and tried to recover the castle that his father had stolen. So Connington ordered them to be confined to the west tower and guards posted at the gate. Hearing that, the girl burst into tears, and the bastard tried to bite the spearman closest to him.
"You two stop. Nothing will happen to you unless Ronnet turns out to be a perfect idiot," Connington said.
And the three young gryphons began to cry.
Jon just blinked silently and pitied them as his men laughed.
Of all the prisoners, only a few lived there when Jon Connington was Lord of the castle: an old one-eyed sergeant; a couple of washerwomen; a stable keeper who was a stable boy in the days of Robert's Rebellion; the cook, who had grown monstrously fat, and the master gunsmith.
Jon Connington had grown a beard again on the trip, for the first time in many years, and to his surprise, it was almost all red, even though there were ashes in the middle of the fire. Dressed in the long red and white robe embroidered with golden Gryphons, he looked like the same Lord who was a friend and companion of Prince Rhaegar, only older and more seasoned. But the occupants of Gryphon's Roost looked at him in confusion.
"Some of you already know me. The others will learn soon. I am your rightful Lord, and I have returned from exile. My enemies will have told you that I am dead. But, as you can see, it is a lie. Serve me with the same loyalty with which you have served my cousin, and nothing will happen to you.
He asked them one by one to come forward, asked their names, and ordered them to kneel to swear allegiance to him. Everything happened very quickly. Only four soldiers from the garrison, the old sergeant and three boys, had survived the attack, and they all laid their sword at his feet. Nobody refused. No one died.
That night, the victors held a banquet in which they devoured roast meat and fresh fish, all washed down with the excellent reds from the castle's cellars. Jon Connington presided from the Gryphon Throne and shared the table with Harry Strickland, Black Balaq, Franklyn Flowers, and the three young Gryphons he had taken prisoner. The children were the blood of his blood, and he wanted to know them better, but when the young bastard announced that his father was going to kill him, he struck him hard across the face and sent him back to the tower.
Haldon had not come. Jon went to find him in the Maester's tower, where he found him hunched over a pile of scrolls and surrounded by spread out maps.
"What are you looking for? The whereabouts of the rest of the company?"
"I wish it were in my hand, my Lord."
Ten thousand men had set sail from Volon Therys with their weapons, horses, and elephants. But, at the moment, not half had docked in Westeros, at the agreed landing site, a stretch of deserted coastline that gave way to the rain wood" Jon Connington knew those lands well, for they had been his.
A few years ago, he would not have dared to dock at Cape Wrath; the Storm Lords were very loyal to House Baratheon and King Robert. But everything had changed with the death of Robert and his brother Renly. Stannis was said to be so gruff and cold that he would have inspired little loyalty, not to mention that he was half a world away, and House Lannister had done little to win the affections of the "Stormlands". Besides, Jon Connington was not so short of friends there.
"Older Lords will remember me, and their children will have heard of me. Everyone knows about Rhaegar and how his son got his head dashed against a wall." Jon thought with sadness
Fortunately, their ship had been one of the first to land, so it was enough for them to set up camp, gather the men as they reached the shore, and move quickly so that the lords of the countryside would overlook the danger.
This was where the Golden Company had shown its mettle. At no point were they hampered by the chaos that would have inevitably arisen with a makeshift army of local knights and levies; These men were the heirs of Bitter Steel and had learned discipline.
"Tomorrow at this time, we should have three castles," Connington told them.
The men who had taken the Gryphon's Nest were a quarter of his army. Ser Tristan Rivers had departed simultaneously as he for the Raven's Nest, to the residence of House Morrigen, while Laswell Peake advanced on Aguasmil, the Wylde stronghold, with an army comparable to the other two.
The others had stayed in the camp to stand guard and protect the Prince, under the command of the company's account manager, the Volantine Gorys Edoryen. It was to be expected that their number would increase since a ship arrived every day.
"But we still have few horses."
"And we don't have elephants", The Half-Maester reminded him. Not one of the large kinks that those animals carried had touched land. They had last seen them on Lys before the Storm that had scattered half the fleet.
"In Westeros, we can get more horses, but elephants", Haldon continued.
"It doesn't matter. Do those scrolls tell you something useful?" Connington said, wanting to change the subject. The vast beasts would have been very useful in a pitched battle, to be sure, but there was still a long way to go before they had the strength to face the enemy on the battlefield.
"Of course, of course ... It's easy for the Lannisters to make enemies, but keeping friends isn't so good at it. Judging from what I've read, their alliance with the Tyrells is crumbling. The queen Cersei and Queen Margaery fight over the child king like two dogs over a lamb bone, and both have been accused of treason and debauchery. Mace Tyrell has abandoned the siege of Storm's End to return to King's Landing to save his daughter, leaving only a token army to keep Stannis's men locked up in his castle. "Haldon said with a tight-lipped smile.
"Go on," Connington said, intrigued.
"In the North, the Lannisters depend on the Boltons, and in the Riverlands, on the Freys. They are two houses with a long history of cruelty and betrayal that rose to power thanks to betraying Houses Stark and Tully, which causes the people's discontent. Lord Stannis Baratheon is still in rebellion, and the Iron Born have chosen another king in the Iron Islands. We have no word from the Vale or the Riverlands as our spies have not travelled that far afield, "Haldon said.
"The Red Wedding, even in exile, Jon had learned of that disgusting betrayal; he may not like the Starks during the Rebellion. Still, he sympathized with Eddard Stark for what the "Mad King" had done to his father and brother, although They were on opposite sides, his heir Robb Stark had a tragic end, unworthy because of the excessive pride of Walder Frey when Aegon claims the Iron Throne they will have to do something with that legion of weasels." Jon thought with some glee at the idea of wiping out house Frey.
"And Dorne?" He asked they needed allies, but the Vale was too far; Dorne was closer.
"Prince Doran's youngest son is betrothed to Myrcella Baratheon, which seems to indicate that the Dornish support House Lannister but have an army stationed in Bonepath and another in Prince's Pass, waiting."
"Waiting? ... Waiting for what?" Write to Sunspear. Doran Martell must be informed that his sister's son is still alive and has returned to regain his father's throne. "All his hopes depended on Dorne. Jon barked
"As you say, my Lord. We couldn't have come at a better time. We have friends and potential allies everywhere. "The Half-Maester glanced at another scroll.
"But we are not clear about victory, so we need to have something to offer them to attract them to our cause," Connington said.
"The traditional incentives are gold and land," Haldon replied.
"I wish we had one or the other. But, of course, with promises of gold and lands, we will convince some, but Strickland and his men will want to be the first to choose to keep the best lands and castles, the ones that belonged to their ancestors before the exile," Connington mused with a hand on his chin.
"My Lord has something else to offer. The hand of Prince Aegon: an alliance by marriage to attract some Great Houses," Haldon pointed out.
"A wife for our beloved Prince... Elia was never worthy of him. She was already frail and sickly, and the childbirth weakened her even more ... After the birth of Princess Rhaenys, Elia had to remain in bed for half a year, and the delivery of Prince Aegon nearly killed her." though Jon remembered Prince Rhaegar's wedding and his marriage to Elia all too well.
"Yes, an alliance would be the best if Rhaenys yet lived we could marry her with Quentyn Martell or Robert Arryn to cement an alliance ... But she is no longer ... We only have Aegon left, but what Lady of noble birth could we find him here?" Jon thought with some difficulty.
That was something that Jon had not considered; Ned Stark had two daughters; the eldest is married to the Imp due to the machinations of Tywin Lannister, although the Imp swears that she was still a maiden since he did not force her to consummate the marriage. As for the latter, she was apparently married to the legitimated bastard son of Roose Bolton.
"It seems that the gods spit on our luck ... If we had with us the eldest daughter of Ned Stark, we could raise the North for the cause of Aegon by unifying their loyalty for the heiress of Winterfell and also promise revenge for the death of her former Guardian and his male heirs, I'm sure Sansa Stark would have been thrilled to marry Aegon, but she disappeared after the death of the Usurper Joffrey Baratheon, Aegon deserves more than damaged wares. Aegon's cousin, Princess Arianne and his aunt Princess Daenerys also disappeared when they were abducted by the bastard Ned Stark and his companions ... So the only alternative we have left is Margaery Tyrell. Still, she has already been married three times, and to usurpers no less, she is not an ideal candidate for Aegon; what a dilemma now I start to understand Aerys frustration at not finding a match for Rhaegar," Connington thought in annoyance.
"We'd better put that matter aside for now," Connington said, starting to massage her temple.
"My Lord knows what is most suitable. But then we have to weigh the possibility of offering a lower reward to our potential friends, "Haldon continued.
"For example?" Jon asks, intrigued.
"You. You have no wife. A great lord, still virile, with no other heirs than those cousins we have just ousted, son of an old house, with a good castle and many fertile lands that will undoubtedly be returned to him in abundance by a grateful king as soon as we triumph. You are reputed to be a good warrior, and as the Hand of King Aegon, you will speak for him and rule the Kingdom. In my opinion, more than one ambitious man will want to marry his daughter to you. Perhaps even the Prince of Dorne, "Haldon said with a smile.
Jon Connington's response was a long, cold look. Sometimes the Half-Maester was as irritating to him as this dwarf.
"No ... write the letter to Prince Doran," grumbled Jon.
"I will never be an ideal husband for any woman... Like Mace Tyrell's third child, if the rumours are true." Connington thought ruefully.
"As my Lord commands," Haldon ordered.
That night Jon Connington slept in the Lord's chambers, in the bed that had been his father's, under a dusty red and white velvet canopy. At dawn, he was awakened by the rain and the timid knock on the door of a servant eager to find out what his new master liked for breakfast.
"Hard-boiled eggs, fried bread and beans and a jug of wine, what difference does it make," Jon ordered.
"As the Lord commands," said the servant.
When the food and wine were brought to him, Jon found them to be the tastiest food he had tasted since his exile began. Later, Connington inspected the castle and called Harry Strickland and his Captains for a court-martial. Nine gathered in the room: himself, Strickland, Haldon, Blaq, Franklyn Flowers, Malo Jayn, Brendel Byme, Dick Cole, and Lymond Pease. Of all of them, the Half-Maester was the bearer of good news.
"We have heard from Marq Mandrake. The Volantenes left him on the coast, in what turned out to be Estermont, with almost five hundred men. He has taken Greenstone ", he said smiling.
Estermont was an island near Cape Wrath that had never been among his targets.
"The bloody Volantinos were so eager to get rid of us that they let us go on the first beach they saw. So we sure to have lads scattered across the Stepstones, "commented Franklyn.
"With my elephants," added Harry Strickland, forlornly he sincerely missed his animals.
"I miss them too," Connigton thought.
"Mandrake did not carry archers. Do we know if Greenstone sent a raven before he fell? " Lymond Pease pointed out.
"Presumably ... Before sailing from Volon Therys, he had instructed his captains not to display any banners during the first offences: not Prince Aegon's three-headed dragon, nor my gryphons, nor the company's golden skulls. Connington said as he thought about what message could they convey? A disjointed story about invaders arriving by sea.
The Lannisters had better be suspicious of Stannis Baratheon, the pirates on the Stepstones, the outlaws of the forest, or whoever they pleased. The longer the Iron Throne took to react, the more time they would have to rally their men and attract allies to their cause.
"Haldon, send a message to Mandrake. Tell him to leave a garrison there and to come, with the rest of his men and with the noble prisoners he has taken, "Connington ordered.
"At your command, my Lord. It turns out that House Estermont has blood ties to the two Kings, so they will be good hostages, "Haldon said.
"And they will also pay good ransoms for them", added Strickland, happy at the thought of gold.
"We should also bring Prince Aegon ... He will be much safer behind the walls of the Gryphon's Nest than in the camp," Haldon said.
"I'll send a rider with the message, but the boy won't be amused about being safe, I'm telling you. He wants to go where the fighting is, "said Franklyn Flowers
"Like everyone else his age", Jon Connigton remembered sadly.
"Has the time come to raise your banner yet?" Pease wanted to know.
"No, not yet. That is King's Landing; they believe that he is nothing more than an exiled lord who returns with a few mercenary swords to recover his birthright. However, it is not unusual; I will even write to King Tommen to tell him, and I will ask for his pardon and the return of lands and titles. This way, we will keep them entertained for a while, which we will use to secretly contact our possible allies from the "Stormlands, The Reach and Dorne ", Jon said after a few moments.
This was a crucial step. Other lesser lords might join his cause out of fear of retaliation or in the hope of achieving something, but the only one who had the power to stand up to House Lannister and its allies was the Prince of Dorne.
"We need Doran Martell above all else," Connington replied without hesitation.
"Doran is frightened by his own shadow more content to let others do his fighting for him ", Harry replied.
"More or less like you," Connington thought dismissively.
"That's where you go wrong prince Doran is a cautious man, yes, and he will not join us unless he is convinced that we are going to win. So, therefore, to convince him, we have to make a show of force," Connigton said with a sigh.
"If Peake and Rivers succeed, we will have most of the Cape of Wrath under control. Four castles in four days is an excellent start, but half the men are still missing. We have to wait for them. We also lack horses, and we don't have elephants. In my opinion, we must wait, gather our strength, win over the Lords, give Lysono time to send spies to find out what he can on our enemies… "Strickland replied.
Connington glared at the plump captain-general.
"This man is not Black Heart; He will wait for the Seven Hells to freeze before risking another blister," Jon thought in a rage.
"We haven't crossed half the world to sit and wait," Connington said.
"Our advantage lies in a fast and practical attack before King's Landing knows who we are here. I intend to take Storm's End, an almost impregnable fortress and the only one left to Stannis Baratheon in the South. When it is in our possession, it will be a stronghold to which we can retreat in case of need, not to mention that we will demonstrate our strength with its taking. "Connington said, pointing to the map on the table.
The captains of the Golden Company exchanged glances.
"If the defenders of Storm's End are still loyal to Stannis, we would be taking the castle from him, not from the Lannisters. So why don't we make common cause with him against the lions? " Brendel Byme interjected.
"Stannis is Robert's brother; It is of the same ilk that destroyed the Targaryen house. Moreover, he is a thousand leagues from here, at the other end of the Kingdom, with a meagre army, it would just take half a year to arrive, and that fool would demand our fealty, "Connington replied spitefully.
"Suppose Storm's End is as unassailable as you say. How do you plan to take it? " Said, Harry.
"We should wait", Harry Strickland insisted, not eager for any genuine risk.
And we will wait. Ten days, not one more. It is how long it will take to prepare. Then, finally, on the eleventh day, we will ride to Storm's End. "Jon Connington rose from the table as the others nodded.
And so it was that although his heart urged him to stay a little longer in his home, recently recovered, his sense of duty told him to go to meet his beloved Prince.
The Prince with the Imp and flanked by Ser Barristan and Rolly joined them four days later, at the head of a column of a hundred horsemen, followed by three lumbering elephants.
"He is a good man, upright and loyal, but he is not suitable for the Kingsguard," Connington thought as he saw Rolly dismount.
He had done his best to dissuade the Prince from bestowing the White Cloak on Rolly, insisting that he should reserve that honour for more renowned warriors whose loyalty would bring lustre to his cause and for the younger sons of great Lords whose support they might need, but the boys' words rang true.
"Duck would give his life for me if necessary. That is all I ask of my Royal Guard. The Kingslayer is a renowned warrior and the son of a High Lord, and yet my grandfather was a fool to trust him."
"At least I managed to persuade him to vacate the other five positions; otherwise, Rolly would already have six ducklings behind him." Jon thought with some satisfaction.
"Accompany His Highness to my rooms. Have him come at once," Connington replied.
But Prince Aegon Targaryen was nowhere near as yielding as Grif the Younger, and it was almost an hour before he introduced himself, accompanied by Duck and Ser Barristan.
"I truly love your castle, Lord Connington," Prince Aegon said with a smile.
"Your father's lands are beautiful ... That's what his father told me, and the wind caressed his silver hair, and his eyes were dark purple, darker than this boys'," Jon thought with joy and sadness.
"Thank you, Your Highness. Sit down, I beg you. Ser Barristan and Ser Rolly, you may retire for now, "Connigton said.
"No, I want them to stay. We've been talking to Flowers and Strickland, and they say you intend to storm "Storm's End." The Prince sat across from him.
Jon Connington didn't let anger creep onto his face.
"I'm assuming Harry tried to convince them to delay," Jon Connington grunted.
"Well, yes, but he didn't make it. Harry is frightening as a fisher's wife. Jon could only agree. You are right, my Lord. I want the orders for that attack to go ahead; with only one change: I will go to the front ", the Prince as Connington's heart thumped firmly in his chest, and he looked at the stunned face of Ser Barristan who did not expect that either.
Dorne (a few days later)
Tyene Sand, the third of the infamous "Sand Serpents" daughters of Prince Oberyn Martell of Dorne, was sailing towards "Stormlands" in search of someone whom she believed was long dead... Her cousin Aegon, the son of her Aunt Elia and Rhaegar Targaryen, just remembering how she had come to it, still made her laugh.
The older Sand Serpents, Obara, Nymeria and Tyene, were in front of their uncle Doran and her cousin Quentyn, seated next to him reading aloud a mysterious letter that a Raven had brought from the Stormlands; its contents were either a shocking truth or a cunning lie.
To Prince Doran of House Martell, You will remember me, I hope. I knew your sister well and was a loyal servant to your good brother. I am sorry for them, as you will. I did not pass away, nor did your sister's son. To save his life, we kept him hidden, but the time for hiding is over. A dragon has returned to Westeros to claim his birthright and seek revenge for the deaths of his father and Princess Elia, his mother. In his name, I turn to Dorne. Do not forget us. Jon Connington, Lord of the Griffin's Nest, Hand of the True King.
"Is this a cruel jest?" Asked Obara, her knuckles turning white from how tightly she gripped her spear.
"No, I don't think it's a trick, Obara ... But it doesn't mean it's true ... This is unexpected... I have waited for the dragons to return to Westeros ... And one of them did, alone, not the one I expected… "Prince Doran said with an indecipherable expression on his face.
"Still waiting for Daenerys Targaryen", Everyone in the Hall thought, recalling his wrath when Arianne and Daenerys had gone missing.
After the three of them, together with her father, aided Arianne to escape from her confinement, her uncle's wrath was ... Terrible; they had never expected that such a fragile man could be so intimidating, even their deadly father, the Red Viper, spoke carefully as he knew Doran would kill him.
"Everyone in Dorne considers my brother to be weak, but it's because no one but Aereo and I know him well, and now the three of you will also start to know him ... Her father said solemnly to her and her older sisters when they were going to the water gardens to be held accountable for their actions.
The screams between her father and her uncle were terrible and terrifying; despite the fact that she, along with Obara and Nymeria, were grown women, they wanted nothing more than to hide like little girls when they saw those men fighting ... Her uncle Doran despite being much older, and confined to a wheelchair was no less fearsome than her father at the time.
"Did we truly used to mock him?… She remembered Nymeria asking her that while hiding from their uncle.
... Now I understand that with Uncle Doran, you can't play ... Obara said without arrogance.
Tyene just nodded and remained silent, waiting for the sibling fight to end.
The fight ended when their uncle ordered them to be locked in a tower while their father remained silent.
Those were terrible weeks; although their prisons were made of silk, Tyene and her sisters had everything they wanted except freedom; they even brought them messages from abroad, such as that their uncle was still chasing the ship where Arianne escaped. Still, her cousin, along with the bastard Ned Stark and his companions, broke into Daenerys Targaryen's wedding with a Khal Dothraki and took her with them to an unknown destination as no one had heard from them since.
When her uncle Doran discovered that one of the knights who took Arianne was Loras Tyrell, he wrote an outraged letter to Highgarden, but Mace Tyrell ignored him. So her uncle plotted revenge against the Roses as well as the Lions of the Rock.
Before, they all believed that the character of their Uncle Doran was meek and cowardly, but now they all knew that in truth, he was a shrewd and scheming man, patient, careful with his machinations, and successfully disguising his cunning by acting as if he were a cowardly and incapable ruler.
He measures the consequences of each action before taking it, but whatever action he finally takes is almost a given that will have good results. They learned that even Tywin Lannister viewed his Uncle Doran's patience and insistence on long-term planning not to be confused with indecision or laziness and saw him as a legitimate threat before his death.
That was another news that shocked them at three, "The Old Lion" died at the hands of his dwarf son while he was on the toilet ... Tyene did not remember ever having laughed so much. Although according to the servants who attended her, her uncle Doran was saddened by the death of the Lion. He planned to make him suffer before killing him, and now his dwarf son deprived him of that pleasure.
Something that everyone understood perfectly.
But unfortunately, it was not all good news, one night their uncle released them by requesting their presence in the Water Gardens and when they got there, with their uncle was Ellaria Sand, their father's lover who was crying inconsolably on the ground and Daemon Sand the Bastard of Godsgrace and squire of their father who seemed to have seen death .. Instantly the three had a bad feeling.
Their father's squire told them that he, Prince Oberyn Martell of Dorne "the Red Viper" the best man in Dorne, had died in the trial by combat of Tyrion Lannister in which he was their champion, died fighting "The Mountain" who smashed his skull right after admitting that he had raped and murdered their aunt Elia.
"My father confirmed the rumours in exchange for his life ... She thought with tears in her eyes. As Obara let out a roar of anger, Lady Nym clenched her fists as thick tears spilt from her cheeks.
"We have been promised the head of" The Mountain ", said her uncle with tears in his eyes.
"How could our Father get involved in it?" Lady Nym asked.
"I sent him to King's Landing to take the place that was granted to me in the Council and to investigate the death of Elia; I asked him on this same terrace. We were eating oranges:
«Take the measures of the boy king and small-council; look at the strengths and weaknesses. If possible, find allies and friends. Find out what you can about Elia's death, but above all, don't provoke Lord Tywin too much.
With those words, Oberyn laughed in my face.
When have I provoked anyone ... too much? You'd better warn the Lannisters, so they don't provoke me. "
He wanted justice to be done for Elia, and I hope to obtain them in that Trial by Combat; he did it according to what he knew ... He coated his spear with some poison ... Gregor Clegane died screaming horribly and in horrible pain ... Even if this is nothing more than a miserable consolation "Said their uncle hoping to ease their pain.
That night their uncle released them and asked them to take their father's place to obtain the revenge that Dorne craved; he had explained to them that everything he had done with Arianne had been for the good of Dorne and the House Martell ... But he only succeeded in earning her hatred ... And every day, he felt the guilt consume him; the only thing he has now is the regret of driving away his wife and firstborn, but they could avenge the deaths of Oberyn, Elia and their children if they worked together.
At first, Tyene was not very convinced, but after seeing her uncle's face full of remorse, she accepted, and her two sisters followed her in a joint hug to their uncle.
End of Flashback
"And what happens now, uncle? ..." Tyene asked her uncle Doran.
"I haven't decided yet," Doran replied.
"What is there to decide? Our father was killed months ago, and now we have a chance ... We must answer with force, uncle! .. If this dragon is really our cousin Aegon we must join forces with him and crush the Lannisters now that old Lion died and the two queens have been clapped in irons" Obara yelled.
But her uncle just sighed.
"That's the problem, Obara ... We don't know who that boy really is, we know what everyone knows ... That" The Mountain "slammed my sister's baby against a wall and smashed her skull before raping and murdering her in such a cruel way ... I would be happy to know that a part of my sister still lives to help him claim what is rightfully his ... But we need to be sure ... That is why I called you here, we cannot challenge the throne yet, but we must prepare. I have a task for each of you ... "said Doran with a sigh.
That encouraged his nieces.
"A few days ago, my informants told me about Lys. A large fleet has assembled and is ready to go to sea; they bore no heraldry, and we didn't know their intended port, but several castles in the Stormlands have been seized, "Doran said to his nieces.
"Do you know who is this about?" Asked Obara.
"I'm almost sure it has to do with our new pretender to the Throne, but that's not all; they also talk about elephants," said Doran in a low voice as he watched the confused expression of his nieces amused.
"What does that mean?" Tyene asked, confused.
"There is only one army in all of Essos that uses elephants for war ... The Golden Company," Said Doran with satisfaction when he saw the surprised expression of his nieces.
"Those Blackfyre mercenaries? ... Why? There are no Blackfyres; the line was broken upon the Stepstones," Lady Nym asked.
"I don't know yet, but what I do know is that they are here again in Westeros, Apparently supporting this dragon. It's all very suspicious," Doran said with a sigh.
"What is our task, uncle?" Obara asks, and her uncle merely sighed in weariness.
"Nymeria… You will go to King's Landing to take the place that we were promised on the Council. The Lannisters won't like it, just as they didn't like my sending Oberyn to them, but they won't dare to refuse. We must have a voice in the council and an ear in the Court. But be very careful; King's Landing is a nest of snakes.
"You know I love snakes, uncle." Lady Nym smiled.
"These won't, I assure you ... Tyene," Said her uncle looking at her.
"Uncle?" She asked with her innocent maiden tone.
"The Sword and Star have been re-founded, and the new High Septon is not a puppet like the previous ones; he is a cruel idiot, the worst kind. So Tyene, you will leave for the Stormlands, and you will meet this dragon and his Hand, you will listen to his words mindfully, you will question him, you will study him, you will see through them and then you will send me a message "said her uncle staring at her.
"A message?" She asked, feeling intimidated by the mission.
"Yes," Dragon ", if you believe in their story, after which we will send them support... If you don't believe in their story, send the word" War ", and then we will wait for a better opportunity .. Dorne's future depends on you, niece", Doran said.
"I won't let you down, uncle", Tyene said with a nod.
"And me?" Asked Obara.
"At the moment, you will remain here in Dorne Obara and depending on Tyene's response, you will go with Lord Yronwood and Lord Fowler where you will help organize the march towards Stormlands," Said her uncle and Obara, although she did not seem happy she nodded.
"I still think that I should go to King's Landing, not Lady Nym," Quentyn said suddenly, but her uncle sighed wearily.
"We've already spoken about this son… It's too dangerous. Now that your sister Arianne is no longer with us, you are my heir, the future of Dorne. You have to be by my side. Soon there will be another task for you," said his uncle.
Hearing her uncle mention Arianne again for the first time in a long time, Tyene held back her tears as she remembered her cousin.
... Ari, where are you now? ... I thought with tears in my eyes.
"What about Sarella?" Lady Nym asked.
"She's still in Oldtown; leave her there, with her books. Then, if she ever gets back to Dorne ... we'll see," Doran said, and his nieces nodded.
End of Flashback
The morning Tyene said goodbye to her sisters and left the Water Gardens, her uncle rose from his chair to kiss her on both cheeks.
"The fate of Dorne goes with you, niece. So travel fast, travel safely, know my eyes and ears and voice ... but above all, be careful," He told her, as he held the parchment against his hand.
"I will, Uncle," Tyene said with a sad smile.
He did not shed a tear. Tyene Sand may be a bastard, but she was Oberyn Martell's daughter, and he taught her and her sisters not to weep without cause. Although he was close to doing so. It wasn't her uncle's embraces or his broken words that made her eyes wet with tears, but the struggle of him rising to his feet, his legs shaking under him, his joints swollen and tendre from gout.
Standing was an act of love. Standing was an act of faith.
"My uncle believes in me, despite being a bastard. I will not fail him."
The seven set out together on seven Dornish sand mounts. A small group travels faster than a larger one, but the Red Viper bastard does not ride alone. From Godsgrace came Ser Daemon Sand, the bastard, formerly his father's squire, now Tyene's sworn shield. From Sunspear, two brave young knights, Joss Hood and Garibald Shells join their swords to his. From the Water Gardens, seven crows and a tall boy to take care of them. His name was Nate, but he had been working with birds for so long that everyone called him Feathers. And since a Lady must have some women to assist her, her company also included the beautiful Jayne Ladybright and the wild Elia Sand, one of her younger sisters.
They set out in a northwesterly direction, across steppes, dry plains, and pale sands to Ghost Hill, the stronghold of House Toland, where the ship that would carry them across the Sea of Dorne awaited them.
"Send a raven whenever you have news, but report only what you know to be true. We are lost in the fog, besieged by rumours, falsehoods, and tales of travellers. I will not dare to act until I know for sure what is happening." her uncle had cautioned her.
"The war is happening, dear uncle and this time, no one will escape it," Tyene thought sadly,
"Perdition and death are approaching ... It is time for my little snakes to disperse; it will be the best to survive the massacre", Ellaria had said.
Ellaria was returning to her father's lands in Hellholt. With her was her daughter Loreza, who had reached the age of seven. Dorea remained in the Water Gardens, one girl in a hundred. Obella was to be sent to Sunspear to serve as a cupbearer for the Castilian's wife, Manfrey Martell.
And Elia Sand, the eldest of the four daughters her father Prince Oberyn had fathered with Ellaria, would cross the Sea of Dorne with Tyene.
"Like a lady, not a spear ... Her mother had told her firmly, but like all Sand Snakes, Elia had her own opinion.
They crossed the sands in two long days and two nights, stopping only three times to change mounts. Tyene felt like embroidering a bit, surrounded by so many strangers. Elia was her sister, but almost a child, and they didn't really share many interests, and Daemon Sand was boring, for lack of a better word.
He had been or rather was still is in love with her cousin Arianne, and there was a time when she was also in love with him, but she remembered her role as heir to Dorne and told him nothing could come of it. However, that did not stop Daemon, who had tried to win his favour by becoming a renowned knight in the hope of being legitimized and thus being considered his consort.
Or so it was ... Until Arianne fled Dorne with the Ned Stark's Bastard, Loras Tyrell and Robar Royce ... Since then, Daemon has grown rough and dull but obedient to those he is loyal to.
At dawn, they set off. Her sister Elia Sand led the way, her black braid flying behind her as she rode through the dry, cracked plains and hills. Unfortunately for her mother, the girl was in love with horseflesh, so she often smelled like them; sometimes, Tyene and Lady Nym felt bad for Ellaria.
Four daughters, each identical to their domineering, impulsive father.
The rest of the group kept a more sedate pace. The beautiful bastard found herself riding alongside Ser Daemon, remembering other rides with Arianne when they were younger, rides that often ended in hugs and laughter. When she found herself staring at him in a dispassionate, tall, gallant way at his steed, Tyene reminded herself that she was on a mission of vital importance and not to play.
"Ser Daemon would be kind enough to tell me what you know about this Jon Connington," Tyene asked in her innocent tone, but Daemon didn't seem affected.
"He is dead… He died in the Disputed Lands drank himself to death, I have heard it said," was Daemon Sand's reply.
"So a drunken dead man leads this army?" Tyene asked curiously.
"Maybe Jon Connington is his son. Or he is simply a clever mercenary who has taken the name of a dead man, "Daemon said.
"Or he never died," Tyene said. Could Connington have pretended to be dead all these years? That would require patience worthy of her uncle. The very thought made her uncomfortable. Dealing with a man this delicate could be dangerous.
"What was he like before he ... died?"
"It was a child in Divine Goodness who was sent into exile, my Lady. I never met the man," Daemon said with a shrug.
"Then please tell me what you have heard from him," Tyene asked.
"As my Lady ordered. Connington was Lord in Gryphon's Nest when Gryphon's Nest was a lordship worth having. He was a squire to Prince Rhaegar or one of them; he later became a trusted friend to the Prince; during the Rebellion, The Mad King named his hand, but he was defeated at the battle of the Bells, King Aerys was furious and sent Connington into exile, and it was said he stole from the Golden Company and drank himself to death," Daemon said.
"I already know all that, thanks to my uncle. What kind of man was he? Honest and honourable, corrupt, greedy, proud? " Tyene asked.
"Proud, with all certainty arrogant even A faithful friend to Rhaegar, but thorny with others. Robert Baratheon was his liege lord, but I have heard that Connington hated serving a lord like him. By then, Robert was already known as a lover of wine and whores, "Daemon said.
"Didn't Lord Jon have whores, then?" Tyene asked.
"I couldn't tell my Lady. Some men keep such matters secret."
"Did he have a wife? Lover?" Tyene continued,
Ser Daemon shrugged. "Not that I have heard."
That was also troublesome. The beautiful young bastard remained silent, pondering what might be found at the end of the journey. Then, when they camped that night, he slipped into the tent she shared with Jayne Ladybright and Elia Sand and took the parchment out of its packaging to reread it.
Tyene read the letter three times, then rolled it up again and tucked it back into her sleeve.
"A dragon has returned to Westeros, but not the dragon my uncle would have wished for. Nowhere was there a mention of Daenerys "Stormborn" who was kidnapped at her wedding by the bastard Stark ... And no one has heard from her again ... Her uncle's plan was for the Targaryens in exile to help them to obtain Fire and Blood against our enemies ... Fire and blood was what Jon Connington if it was really him, offered them. Or not? I don't know Gods, I don't even know if I did the right thing by accepting this mission". Tyene thought nervously.
"He brings mercenaries, but that will not be enough ... The Golden Company is the greatest and most famous of the free companies, but ten thousand mercenaries cannot hope to win the Seven Kingdoms. Elia's son ... he would cry with happiness if some part of his sister had survived, but what proof is there of what Aegon really is?" Her uncle had wept when he said that.
At Bonepath and Prince's Pass, two Dornish hosts had settled, and there they waited, sharpening their spears, polishing their armour, playing dice, drinking and fighting, their numbers dwindling day by day, waiting, waiting, waiting let the Prince of Dorne direct them on the enemies of House Martell. Waiting for a chance for revenge. Waiting for fire and blood.
... Waiting for me ...
One word from Tyene and those armies will march… as long as that word was dragon if instead, the word she spoke was war, Lord Yronwood, Lord Fowler and their sister Obara along with those armies, would remain in place. But, if her uncle was anything, it was subtle; here, war meant waiting.
Mid-morning on the third day, Ghost Hill appeared before them, its chalk-white walls gleaming against the dark blue Sea of Dorne. From the towers of the plaza at the corners of the castle wave the banners of House Toland, a green dragon biting its own tail, on a golden field. The sun and spear of House Martell hung over the great central fortress, gold and red and orange, swaying defiantly in the breeze.
The crows had flown ahead to alert Lady Toland of their arrival, so the castle gates were open, and Nymella's eldest daughter rode out to meet her butler near the foot of the hill. Tall and fierce, with a glow in her bright red hair falling to her shoulders,
Valena Toland greeted Tyene with a shout.
"You have finally arrived, right? Are those horses slow? "
"Fast enough to beat yours to the castle gates", She replied with a smile.
"We'll see about that." Valena turned to her big reddish horse and stung spurs, starting the race through the village's dusty streets at the foot of the hill as chickens and villagers stumbled to get out of her way. Tyene had three lengths behind when she put her mare into a gallop, but she had clipped one in the middle of the slope. They were both sides by side as they streaked through the guard gate, but five yards from the city gates, Elia Sand came flying from the cloud of dust behind them and passed them on her black filly.
"Are you half-horse, girl? Tyene, have you brought a stable girl with you? " Valena asked her, laughing.
"I'm Elia... Lady Lanza," Her sister answered, annoyed.
Anyone bearing that name had a lot to answer for. As had her father Prince Oberyn, though the Red Viper had never answered to anyone except himself and his brother.
"Prince Oberyn's child Yes, I have heard of you. As you were the first to arrive, you have earned the honour of watering and caring for the horses ", said Valena.
"And after that, find the privy, little sister," Tyene said, noticing her sister was covered in chalk dust from crown to ankle.
That night, Tyene and the knights accompanying her dined with Lady Nymella and her daughters in the castle's great hall. Teora, the youngest daughter, had the same red hair as her sister, but they couldn't have been more different. Short, plump, and so shy she might have passed for mute, she showed more interest in her spiced beef and honey duck than in the gentle young gentlemen at the table and seemed content to let her mother and sister speak for her.
"We have heard the same rumours here that you have heard at Sunspear, mercenaries landing at Cape Wrath, castles being besieged or taken, fields seized or burned. Where these men come from and who they are, no one knows for sure," Lady Nymella told them as servants served the wine.
"Pirates and adventurers, we heard at the beginning, so it was reckoned to be the Golden Company. Now he is said to be Jon Connington, the Hand of the Mad King, who has returned from the grave to claim what is rightfully his and whoever he is, the Gryphon's Nest has fallen before him. Rain House, Crow's Nest, even Greenstone on their island. Everything is taken," Valena said.
"Who would want Greenstone? Was there a battle? " Daemon Sand asked.
"Not that we have heard Ser, but all these rumours are uncertain. Tarth has fallen too, some Fishermen can tell you. These mercenaries now own almost the entire Cape of Wrath and half of the Step Stones. We have heard of elephants in the forest, "Valena said.
"Elephants?" Tyene asked with a surprised smile.
"Elephants," Lady Nymella said firmly.
And krakens on Broken Arm, emerging from sunken galleys. The blood pushes them to the surface, says our master. There are bodies in the water. A few have reached our shores. And that's not even half of everything. A new pirate has proclaimed himself King. The Lord of the Waters, he calls himself, you were wise not to come by sea. Ever since Redwyne's fleet passed the Steps stones, those waters are filled with strange vessels, all the way north to the shores of Tarth and the Bay of Shipwrecks. From Myr, Volantis, Lys, even raiders from the Iron Islands. Some have entered the Sea of Dorne to land men on the southern coast of Cape Wrath. We have found a good ship, and fast, as your father ordered, but even so… Be careful," Valena said.
"It's true then," Tyene said calmly.
"Is Dorne threatened? ... I confess, every time I see an unknown ship, my heart goes to my throat. What if these ships headed south? The best part of Toland's strength is with Lord Yronwood in Bonepath. Who will defend Ghost Hill if these newcomers land on our shores? Should I call my men home? " Lady Nymella asked in anguish.
"Your men are needed where they are, my lady," Daemon Sand assured her. Tyene was quick to nod.
Any other advice might well cause Lord Yronwood's host to fray like an old tapestry if each man came home to protect his own lands against would-be enemies who might or might never come.
"Once we know without a doubt if they are friend or foe, my uncle, our Prince, will know what to do," said the beautiful bastard.
It was then that sweet, chubby Teora looked up from the cream pies on her plate.
"They are dragons," He said suddenly.
"Dragons? Teora, don't be absurd," Her mother said.
"I'm not one of them is coming," Said the confident girl.
"How could you know that? One of your little dreams? " His older sister asked him with a note of derision in her voice.
Teora nodded weakly, her jaw trembling.
"They were dancing in my dream a dark dragon that came from the East and a dragon full of light that will come from the West, they are both going to dance, and where dragons danced, people died "
"The Seven protect us... If you didn't eat so many cream cakes, you wouldn't have those dreams. Rich foods are not for girls your age when your moods are out of balance. Maester Toman says… "Lady Nymella sighed exasperatedly.
"I hate Maester Toman... He only makes fun of what I say," Said Teora. Then she got up from the table, leaving her mother to apologize for her.
"Be gentle with her, my Lady... I remember when I was her age. My uncle was desperate with me and my cousin, I'm sure," Tyene said with some sadness.
"I can attest to that ... House Toland has a dragon on their banners," Ser Daemon said, taking a sip of wine.
"A dragon eating its own tail, yes. Since the days of the Conquest of Aegon. He did not conquer this city. Anywhere he burned his enemies, he and his sisters, but we vanished before that, leaving only stone and sand that could burn so over and over again, the dragons came, biting their tails in search of something to eat, until they were tangled in knots, "Valena said.
"Our ancestors took their part in that. Brave deeds were accomplished, and brave men died. All of this was written by the Maesters who served us. We have books if you want to know more, "Lady Nymella said proudly.
"Maybe another time," Tyene said.
While Ghost Hill slept that night, the bastard shielded herself from the cold in a hooded cloak and walked the castle battlements to clear her thoughts. Daemon Sand found her leaning on a parapet, surveying the sea, where the moon danced on the water.
"Tyene" You should be in bed.
"I could say the same of you, Ser .." Tyene turned to look at his face. A pretty face. The boy I met has grown into a handsome man. His eyes were as blue as the desert sky, his hair the light brown of the sands they had crossed. He now wore a close-cropped beard, and dimples appear when he smiles; she has always liked his smile ... If only his attitude were different.
The Divine Goodness bastard was one of the best swords in Dorne, as was to be expected of someone who had been her father's squire and received his knighthood from the Red Viper himself some said that he had been her father's lover too but rarely to his face. Tyene didn't know the truth about that. Although the truth did not matter to her.
"Could this be the real Prince Aegon? could my cousin indeed be alive? " Tyene asked with her gentle tone.
"Gregor Clegane tore Aegon from Princess Elia's arms and smashed his head against a wall... If Lord Connington's prince has a smashed head, I will believe that Aegon Targaryen has returned from the grave. Otherwise, no. This is a fake boy, nothing more. A plan of a mercenary to gain support," Daemon said dryly.
"My uncle fears the same ... If this really is Jon Connington if the boy is the son of Rhaegar Targaryen."
"Do you hope that it is, or that it is not?" Asked her fellow bastard, arching an eyebrow.
"I… would give great happiness to my uncle and all my family that my aunt Elia's son was still alive. My father loved his sister very much… He was never the same after her death," Tyene said.
"I asked about you, not your father," Daemon said in his own tone, inadvertently reminding Tyene why she never took him as a lover.
"That's right… Arianne and I were seven when she died; my cousin and I competed to carry her daughter Rhaenys once when she was too young to remember, just a little girl. So Aegon will be a stranger to me, whether he is the real one or not. "Tyene sighed, and the bastard nodded.
The next day they continued their journey.
His ship was called the Pilgrim. They left at dawn. The gods were kind to them, for the sea was calm. But, even with the wind sent by the gods, it took them a day and a night to cross. Jayne Ladybright had a greenish face and spent most of the trip vomiting, which Elia seemed hilarious.
"Somebody needs to spank that girl", Joss Hood was heard saying ... but Elia was among those who heard him.
"I'm almost a woman, be ... I'll let you whip me ... but first fight me, and get on my horse", Elia challenged haughtily.
"We're on a ship, and no horses," Joss replied.
"And the ladies are not fair", insisted Ser Garibald Shells, a man far more taciturn than his companion.
"Yes, fair. I am the Lady Lance," she answered.
Tyene sighed; she had heard enough from her sister and placed a hand on her shoulder.
"Little Sister, you may be a spear, but you are not a Lady. So go downstairs and stay there until we get to land. "And Elia annoyed she did.
Apart from this, the trip did not have any other noteworthy events. At dusk, they spotted a galley in the distance, its oars rising and falling against the evening stars, but it was moving away from them, and they soon lost sight of it. Tyene knitted most of the time but was then challenged by Ser Daemon to a game of cyvasse, and she agreed to first play a game of cyvasse with Ser Daemon and another with Garibald Shells, and somehow managed to lose both. Ser Garibad was kind enough to say that she had played a gallant game, but Daemon scoffed at her.
"You have other pieces besides the dragon, Lady Tyene. Try moving them some time," Daemon said.
"I like the dragon Ser... It's so fierce ... Besides, it's just a game," She said, feigning innocence in a flirtatious tone.
But deep down, she was upset at the humiliation; if not, she needed Ser Daemon to be strong; she would gladly season his food and laugh as he stupidly spilt his guts into the toilet while screaming.
Along the entire South Coast of Cape Wrath were crumbling stone watchtowers erected in times past to warn of Dornish raiders crossing the Sea.
Villages had grown up around the towers. A few had become cities. The Pilgrim had made port in one of them, Weeping Town, where the body of the Young Dragon had rested for three days on his return journey from Dorne.
The banners that flew from the vigorous wooden walls still showed the Lion and Stag of King Tommen, suggesting that there at least the rule of the Iron Throne still held sway. Tyene notified her company when they disembarked.
"Guard your tongues; it would be better if King's Landing never knew we were passing through here."
If Lord Connington's rebellion was eradicated, it would do them harm if it were known that her Uncle Doran had sent her to deal with him and his suitor. That was another of the lessons her uncle had endeavoured to teach her, Nym, and Obara. Choose your side carefully and only if you have a chance to win.
Weeping Town was large enough that they had no problem buying horses, although the cost was five times what it had been a year ago.
"They are old but good, and my Lady, you will not find better ones on this side of Storm's End. The men of the Gryphon capture every horse and mule they come across oxen too some make a mark on a piece of paper if you ask them to pay you. But others would cut your stomach and pay you with a handful of your own guts. So if you go near any of them, keep your tongue; guard your purse and hand over your horses. " Said the Stableman.
"Thank you, good sir, but I am not a Lady", Tyene replied.
The City was large enough to house three inns, and rumours abounded in each. So Tyene sent men to each of them to hear what was said. In "The Broken Shield", Daemon Sand was told that the Sept had been burned and looted by raiders who came from the sea, and a hundred young novices from the Motherhouse on Maiden's Island had been made slaves. At The Loom, Joss Hood would have discovered that fifty men and boys from Weeping Town had marched north to join Jon Connington at Griffin's Nest, including the young Ser Addam, the son of the elderly Lord Whitehead and his heir. But in the aptly named The Drunken Dornishman, Feathers heard some men mutter that the Gryphon had killed Red Ronnet's brother and raped his sister, who was still a maiden. Moreover, Ronnet himself was said to be marching south to avenge his brother's death and his sister's disgrace. That night, Tyene sent the first of her ravens to Dorne, informing her uncle of what she had seen and heard.
The following day the company headed to Mistwood as the first rays of the rising sun passed through the peaked roofs and twisted alleys of Weeping Town. A light rain began to fall by midmorning as they headed north through lands of green fields and small villages.
So far, they had seen no signs of fighting, but all the other travellers seemed to be heading in the opposite direction. And all the women in the villages looked at them with blank eyes and held their children close.
Further north, the fields gave way to rolling hills and thick groves of old forests. The road became a trail, and the towns became less common. Twilight found them on the fringes of Rainwood, a green and wet place where streams and rivers flowed through dark trees, and the land was made of mud and rotting leaves. Great willows grew along the riverbanks, larger than any Tyene had ever seen, their great trunks as gnarled and twisted as an old man's face and adorned with beards of silver moss.
The trees stayed close, blocking the sun almost completely. Firs and red cedars, white oaks, soldier pines that stood as tall and straight as towers, colossal sentinel trees, big-leaved maples, redwoods, even here and there, a wild weirwood. Beneath its tangled branches, ferns and flowers grew in abundance: sword ferns, lady ferns, piper strings, evening stars and poisoned kisses, liver grass, lung grass, hornworts ... The fungi sprouted under the roots of the trees and of their trunks as well. Like pale, mottled hands, they captured the rain.
Other trees were lined with moss, green or grey or reddish and one bright purple. Lichens covered every rock and stone, and tadpoles feed under rotting wood. The air itself seemed green.
Tyene had once heard her father, Uncle Doran, and Maester Kelion argue with a septon why the southern and northern sides of the Dorne Sea were so different. The septon thought it was because Durran "Godsgrif", the first Storm King, had kidnapped the daughter of the Sea God and the Goddess of Wind and won their eternal enmity.
His father, his Uncle Doran, and the Maester leaned more toward the wind and the water and how the great storms formed in the Summer Sea carried seeds and moisture north until they reached Cape Wrath.
"For some reason, the storms never seemed to hit Dorne", She remembered her father saying.
"I know why ... No Dornish man ever kidnapped the daughter of two gods." The septon had answered
The march was much slower here than it had been in Dorne. Instead of roads, they rode through twists and turns that crossed here and there, through cracks in moss-covered rocks and down gorges full of blackberry brambles.
Sometimes the path would disappear completely, sinking into the mist or disappearing into the ferns, leaving Tyene and her companions to their fate to find their way through the silent trees. The rain kept falling, faithful and steady. The sound of moisture sliding through the leaves surrounded them, and at every mile, the sound of another small waterfall was heard. The forest was also full of caves.
The first night they took refuge in one of them to protect themselves from the water.
In Dorne, they had travelled frequently in the dark when the moonlight turned the blasts of sand to silver. But Rainwood was too full of swamps, ravines and holes under the trees when the moon was just a memory. So Daemon made a fire and cooked a handful of hares that Ser Garibald had caught with some wild garlic and mushrooms that he had found along the way.
After eating, Elia Sand turned a stick and some dried moss into a torch and explored the deepest part of the cave.
"Don't go too far, little sister"; some of those caves go too deep; it's easy to get lost ", Tyene warned her sister.
The Red Viper's daughter lost another cyvasse game to Daemon Sand, won one to Joss Hood, and retired when the two began teaching Jayne Ladybright the rules.
I was tired of those games. Lady Nym might have reached King's Landing by now, she mused as she sat cross-legged at the mouth of the cave to watch the rainfall. If not, they would arrive soon. Three hundred veteran spears had gone with them up the Bonepath, past the ruins of Summer Haven and straight onto the Royal Road.
Then it was time to sleep; they had a long way to ride tomorrow. It was only when she was settling in that Tyene realized that her baby sister had not returned from her explorations.
His sisters would kill her in seven different ways if something happened to Elia. Lady Jayne Ladybrugh swore that the girl had never left the cave while she was somewhere prowling in the dark.
When the screams didn't bring her back, there was no choice but to light torches and go in search of her. The cave proved to be much deeper than anyone would have suspected. Beyond the stone mouth where her company had camped and kept their horses, a series of twisting passages led lower and lower as black holes loomed on either side. Further inside, the walls parted again, and the seekers found themselves in a vast limestone cavern, larger than the great hall of a castle. Their cries disturbed a nest of bats that flapped loudly above them, but only distant echoes returned their voices. A small circuit in the room revealed three small passages, one so small that it would require them to go to their knees.
"We will try the others first; Ser Dameon will come with me, Geribald and Joss, try the other one, "Tyene ordered.
The passage that they had picked got steep and wet at a hundred feet. But she could see Ser Daemon's torch up ahead, so she kept going. And so they found themselves in another cavern, five times larger than the previous one, surrounded by a forest of stone columns.
Daemon Sand moved to her side and raised the torch.
Look at how the stones have been shaped. Those columns, on that wall. You see them?". So many faces, so many sad eyes, staring, "Tyene said.
"This place belonged to the Children of the Forest." "A thousand years ago." Was Ser Daemon's reply.
Tyene turned her head at the sound of a sound.
"Listen, is that Joss?"
It was. The other seekers had found Elia, and she and Daemon found out as they made their way back up the slippery slope to the last hole. Their passage led them to a quiet, black pool where they discovered the girl waist-deep in the water, catching white and blind fish with her bare hands, her torch blazing red and hot where she had planted it.
"You could have died! If that torch had been extinguished, you would have been left alone in the dark, as if you were blind. What do you think you were doing? Tyene yelled at her when she heard her story; she took Elia by the arm and shook her.
"I have caught two fish," said Elia Sand.
"You could have died!" Tyene said again. The words echoed off the cave walls.
... Dead ... dead ... dead ...
Later, when they returned to the surface, and their anger cooled, the older of the Sand Snakes grabbed the younger girl and sat with her.
"Elia, this must end… We are not in Dorne now; we are not with our sisters. This is not a game. I want you to give me your word that you will be like a servant until we are safely back at Sunspear no more talk of jousting or not being a lady. Don't mention our father or sisters. The men I must deal with are mercenaries. Today they serve the man who calls himself Jon Connington, but the following day they could just as quickly serve the Lannisters. All you need to win a mercenary's heart is gold, and they don't lack in Casterly Rock. If the wrong man found out who you are, you could be taken hostage to be rescued. "
"No… you and I are just bastard girls. Father is dead, "Elia answered, and Tyene had to restrain herself from hitting her.
"Dead, but not forgotten," Tyene said, suppressing her anger.
"We are the Sand Snakes, and our prince Doran will pay any price to keep us safe from harm ... He loves us, little sister, so you must not cause our uncle any more problems."
That at least made the girl smile.
"Do I have your sworn word, or should I send you back?" Tyene now asks relentlessly.
"I swear ... by my father's bones." Elia didn't sound happy. " That vote will stand, Tyene decided. He kissed his little sister on both cheeks and sent her to sleep. Maybe something good will come out of this disagreement.
"I never knew how wild she was till now," Tyene complained to Daemon Sand afterwards.
"Why would my uncle send her with me?" Tyene asked.
"Revenge?" The Knight suggested, and Tyene blushed.
They reached Fog on the afternoon of the third day. Ser Daemon sent Joss Hood forward as a scout to find out who was holding the castle at the time.
"Twenty men walk the walls, maybe more ... Many chariots and weapons. They come heavily loaded and come out empty. Guards at every door," He reported on his return.
"Banners?" Tyene asked.
"Gold. At the gate and the fort. "
"What symbol do they carry?"
"None we can see; there was no wind."
Banners hung weakly from the masts; the banners of the Golden Company were of gold, without arms or ornaments, but the banners of House Baratheon were also golden, although these showed the crowned Stag of "Storm's End".
Unwaved golden banners could be either one.
"Were there other banners? Grey? " Tyene asked.
"The only ones I saw were gold, My Lady." She nodded.
Mistwood was the seat of House Mertyns, whose banners showed A white great horned owl on a grey field. If their banners weren't flying, the rumour was most likely true, and the castle would have fallen to Jon Connignton and his mercenaries.
"We must take the risk, my friends," Se said to his companions. Her Uncle Doran's wariness had served Dorne well, she had come to understand and accept it, but this was a moment for her father's bravery. Towards the castle.
"Should we unwrap your uncle's banner?" Joss Hood asked.
"Not yet," Tyene said.
Half a mile from the castle gates, three men in studded leather jerkins and steel helmets came out of the trees to block their way. Two of them carried crossbows, ready and pointed.
"Where are you headed, dear ones?" Asked one.
"To Mistwood, to see your Lord", Daemon Sand replied.
"Good answer, come with us," Said one who smiled cheekily.
The new lords of Mistwood called themselves Young John Mudd and Chains. Both Knights, they said, but they don't behave like any Knights Tyene had ever met. Mudd was brown from head to toe, the same shade as his skin, but a couple of gold coins dangled from his ears. The Mudds had been kings of the Trident a thousand years ago as far as she knew, but there was nothing regal about this man. Nor was he particularly young. It seemed that his father had also served in the Golden Company, but he had been known as "Old John Mudd." Chains was half the height of Mudd, and his chest was crossed by a pair of rusty chains that ran from waist to shoulder.
While Mudd carried a sword and dagger, Chains carried no weapons but five feet of iron links, twice as thick and heavy as those across his chest. He held them like a whip. They were tough, rough men, foul-mouthed, with scars and weathered faces who spoke of long service in the Free Companies.
"Sergeants ... I've heard of your ilk before", Ser Daemon Sand whispered when he saw them.
Once Tyene made her name and purpose known, the two sergeants proved hospitable enough even though they looked at her with ill-concealed desire.
"You will stay here tonight; there are beds for all of you. Then, in the morning, you will have fresh horses and whatever supplies you need. The maester can send a raven to Griffin's Nest to let them know they're going there, "Mudd said.
"And who are they ... Lord Connington?" Tyene asked,
The mercenaries exchanged a look.
"The Halfmawster," he is the one you will find in the Nest, "Mudd said.
"The Gryphon is leaving," Cadenas said.
"Where?" Ser Daemon asked.
"It is not for us to say," Mudd said.
"Chains, keep your mouth shut." Chains nodded.
"She is from Dorne; why shouldn't she know? You are coming to join us, right? " Asked the mercenary.
"That remains to be seen, my good Lord", Tyene thought.
In the evening, an elegant dinner was served atop the Tower of Owls, where they were joined by the widow Lady Mertyns; although held captive in her own castle, the old woman seemed lively and cheerful.
"My children and grandchildren left when Lord Renly called out to his banners… I haven't seen them since, but every now and then, they send a raven. One of my grandchildren was injured in the Battle of Blackwater but quickly recovered. I hope they come back soon with enough men to hang this bunch of thieves," She said to Tyene and her group, glaring at the bastard, clearly annoyed to share their table with her.
The old woman pointed to Mudd and Chains across the table.
"We are not thieves.. we are foragers," Mudd said.
"Did you buy all that food that is in the yard?" Asked the annoyed old woman
"We forage it... Your people can make it grow more. We serve the rightful King, old hag." Mudd replied
... He seems to be enjoying this ... Tyene thought with a giggle.
"I should learn to speak more courteously to Knights," Chains said.
"If you are Knights, I am still a maiden," said Lady Mertyns, and I will speak as I please. What are you going to do, kill me? I've already lived too long."
"Have you been well treated, my lady?" Tyene asked.
"I have not been raped if that is what you ask, but some of the servants have not been so fortunate married or eligible; men make no distinction," Said the old woman.
"No one has been raping ... Connington would not allow it, he would castrate us if he found out ... We are following orders," Young John Mudd said.
"Some woman was persuaded, it may be"
"Ah, in the same way, that our peasants were persuaded to give him their crops. But, melons or virginities, you don't care about your ilk. If you want it, take it ... If you see this Lord Connington, child, tell him that I met his mother and that she would be ashamed. " Lady Mertyns turned to Tyene.
"Maybe I will," The nervous bastard thought.
That night, she sent a second raven to his uncle. Tyene was back in her own room when she heard muffled laughter from the adjoining room. She stopped and listened for a moment, and then he opened the door to see Elia Sand bent over in the window seat, kissing Feathers.
When Feathers saw Elia's sister before him, he jumped up and began to stutter. They both still had their clothes on. Tyene took some comfort from it as she returned to her room, hoping her sister was no fool.
The shortest way from Mistwood to Griffin's Nest was through the green and wet part of the woods. It was a slow march at best. It took Tyene and her companions the better part of eight days.
They travelled to the music of steady lashes of water falling on the treetops above them. Although under the vast green canopy of leaves, she and her companions remained surprisingly dry.
Chains accompanied them the first four days of their journey north with a long line of chariots and ten of his men. Far from Mudd proved to be more friendly, and Tyene was able to trick him into telling her his life.
His greatest pride was that of a great-great-grandfather who fought for the Black Dragon in the Redgrass Meadow and crossed the Narrow Sea with Bitter Steel. Chains himself had been born into the company, sired by a camp follower. But, although he had been raised to speak the Common Tongue and considered himself a Westerosi, he had never set foot anywhere in The Seven Kingdoms until now.
"A sad family history", Tyene thought.
His whole life? A long list of places where he had fought, enemies he had faced and killed, wounds he had received. The Lady Bastards let him speak, occasionally granting him a laugh or question, pretending to be fascinated.
She found out more than she would ever need to know about Mudd's skill with dice, about Two Swords and his taste for redheads, the time someone got away with Harry Strickland's favourite elephant, Kitten and his lucky cat, and other feats and exploits of the men of the Golden Company.
On the fourth day, in an oversight, Chains missed "When we have Storm's End." The bastard let that pass without comment, though she thought about it carefully. Storm's End? Looking at Ser Daemon, who had the same look as her.
"This Gryphon is very brave, or so it seems. Or a madman," Tyene thought.
The seat of House Baratheon for three centuries, and the former of the Storm Kings for thousands of years before. Storm's End, it was said, was impregnable. Tyene had heard the men argue over which was the greatest castle in the Kingdom.
Some said Casterly Rock, some Eyrie of the Arryn, some Winterfell in the frozen North. Storm's End was always mentioned too.
Legend has it that he was raised by Brandon "The Builder" to resist the fury of a disgruntled god. Its curtain walls were the tallest in the Seven Kingdoms, one hundred feet high and forty feet thick on its thinnest side and nearly eighty feet thick on its seaward side. Its mighty Drum Tower was just under half the length of the Hightower, but it sat rather than rose. No siege tower had been tall enough to reach the battlements of Storm's End, nor had any catapult been able to destroy its massive walls.
"What Was Connington thinking of mounting a siege? ... How many men did he have?" She wondered. Long before the castle fell, the Lannisters would send an army to end any blockade, so that would not be possible either.
That night, she and Ser Daemon discussed what Chains had told them, the Bastard of Divine Kindness looking as perplexed as she. "Storm's End was in Lord Stannis's possession the last time you heard about it.
Apparently, Connington thought he would do better to make a common cause with a rebel rather than fight him too.
"Lord Stannis is too far away to be of any help," Tyene mused.
"Capturing a few minor castles while the lords and their garrisons are away is one thing. But if Lord Connignton and his pet dragon can take over one of the Kingdom's greatest fortresses, the crown must acknowledge their might and treat them as a genuine menace, "Ser Daemon said matter of factly.
That night, Tyene wrote another little note to her Uncle, and Feathers sent it with her third raven.
Young John Mudd had been sending birds, too, apparently. Then, near twilight on the fourth day, not long after Chains and their chariots had left them, Tyene's company encountered a column of mercenaries descending from Gryphon's Nest by the most exotic creature, the princess had ever seen, with painted nails and gems shining in his ears.
Lysono Maar spoke the Common Language very well:
"I have the honour of being the eyes and ears of the Golden Company, My Lady," Lysono said with a flowery voice.
"My Lord seems ..." she hesitated.
"A woman? I'm not ..." He laughed.
"A Targaryen" Tyene insisted. His eyes were pale lilac, his hair a cascade of white and gold. At the same time, something about him made her shiver.
"You flatter me. The women of House Targaryen are said to have no equal in the world. "
"And the men?" Tyene asked inquisitively.
Oh, even more beautiful. Although to tell the truth, I've only seen one. " Maar took her hand and kissed her lightly on the wrist.
"Fog sent a letter regarding your arrival, sweet Lady. We will be honoured to escort you to the Nest, but I fear you have missed the opportunity to see Lord Connington and our young Prince." Lysono said with some amusement.
"Where have they gone to war? To Storm's End? " She asked, intrigued.
"Mmm, it could be." However, this Lysenian was a very different type of man.
He wouldn't let anything escape him, he realized after a couple of hours in his company. Maar was clever, but he had perfected the art of saying much without saying anything. As for the horsemen who came with him, they had been speechless as far as their companions had been able to draw. So Tyene decided to confront him directly.
On the afternoon of the fifth day, when leaving Mistwood, while they were camping near the fallen ruins of an ancient tower occupied by plants and moss, she stood before him and asked him.
"Is it true that you have elephants with you?" Tyene asked curiously.
"A few", Lysono Maar said with a smile and shrugging.
"And they have a dragon that boy who claims to be Aegon Targaryen, My cousin?" Tyene asked with some sadness.
"Prince Aegon is a man, my Lady."
"I'm a bastard Ser, I'm not a Lady but tell me about him. Can he fly? Breathe fire?" Tyene asked, laughing.
The Lysono laughed, but his lilac eyes remained cold.
"Do you play cyvasse, my Lord? My uncle has been teaching me. I am not very skilled, I must confess, but I know that the dragon is stronger than the elephant," Tyene replied.
"The Golden Company was founded by a dragon," replied the Lyseno.
"Bittersteel was half-dragon and all bastard. I am not a maester, but I know some history; you are still mercenaries," Ser Daemon said.
"If you, please be, but we prefer to call ourselves a brotherhood of exiles," Lysono said with a chuckle.
"As you wish. As free brothers, your company is above the rest, I assure you, but the Golden Company has been defeated every time it has crossed to Westeros; they lost when Bittersteel commanded her; they failed the Blackfyres, they fell when Maelys the Monstrous led her. " Tyene said, but that seemed to amuse the Lyseno.
"At least we are persistent, you must admit. And some of those defeats were by very little."
"Or not. And those who die shortly are just as dead as those who die long. Prince Doran, my uncle, is a wise man and only fights the wars he can win. If the march of battle turns against your dragon, the Golden Company will no doubt flee to the other side of the Narrow Sea, as it has done before. As Lord Connington himself did after Robert Baratheon defeated him at the Battle of the Bells. Dorne will not be a refuge. So why should we lend our swords and spears to your uncertain cause? " Tyene asked in her Septa tone.
"Prince Aegon is of your own blood, my Lady son of Rhaegar and Elia of Dorne, your father's sister you are nothing more than a bastard, it is true, but you even have to respect blood ties, "Said the mercenary.
Tyene didn't ask anymore.
And finally, Gryphon's Nest emerged from the sea of mist on a grey and wet day as the rain fell thin and watery Lysono Maar raised a hand, the echo of a trumpet echoed among the rocks, and the castle gates opened before them.
The soaked flag hanging over the gate was white and red, the bastard saw. The colours of House Connington but the company's golden banners were also on display. They rode in a double-column across the ridge known as Gryphon Gorge, with the waters of Shipwreck Bay snarling at the rocks on the other side.
Within the castle itself, a dozen officers of the Golden Company had gathered to greet the emissary of Prince Doran one by one; they pressed their lips to his hand as Lysono Maar offered introductions; most of the names went out of her head as soon as she heard them.
Their leader was an older man with a clean, clean-shaven face, his long hair tied in a knot.
"This is not a fighter", Tyene felt.
The Lysenian confirmed this when he introduced him as Haldon Halfmaester.
"We have rooms prepared for you and yours ... Hmm ... My Lady," Haldon said when the introductions were finally over.
"I trust you like them. I see that you seek to meet with Lord Connington, and he also wishes to exchange words with you urgently. If you please, in the morning we will take a boat to bring you to him. "
"Where, my good Lord?" Tyene asked in her sweetest tone.
"Has no one told you? Storm's End is ours; the Hand awaits you there. "Haldon Halfmaster gave her a smile, thin and hard as a dagger.
Daemon Sand took a step before her.
"Shipwreck Bay can be dangerous even on a calm summer day. The safest way to "Storm's End" is by land."
"True, but the rains have turned the roads to mud. The journey will take two days, maybe three ... A ship will take Prince Aegon's cousin there in half a day or less there is an army descending towards Storm's End from King's Landing, so you will want to be safe within the walls before battle, "Haldon Halfmaster said.
... Will we want it? ... "The battle or the siege?" Tyene wondered.
She did not plan to be trapped inside Storm's End with her sister Elia in danger.
"Oh, battle ... Prince Aegon plans to crush his enemies on the battlefield," Haldon said firmly.
Tyene exchanged a look with Daemon Sand.
"Would you be so kind as to show us our rooms? I would like to freshen up and change into dry clothes ".
"Of course." His companions had been lodged in the east tower, where the pointed windows showed the Bay of Shipwrecks.
"There is nothing for us in Storm's End, Tyene. If Prince Doran wanted to send you into battle, he would have given you three hundred knights, not three." Ser Daemon said behind closed doors.
"I must speak to Connington ... and I want to see this dragon prince. If he is really my aunt Elia's son ". Tyene removed the viper clasp around her neck and let the rain-soaked dress fall from her shoulders to the floor.
"Whoever he is, if Connington challenges Mace Tyrell and the might of Highgarden in pitched battle, he will soon be a captive or a corpse." Ser Daemon replied.
"No, Tyrell is not a man to fear. My father called him the Fat Flower of Highgarden ... "
"And your father is dead when many called him the Red Viper, Tyene, and 10,000 men equal the strength of the Golden Company." The bastard continued.
"Lord Connington knows his own strength; if he plans to risk a battle, it is because he must believe that he can win it. "
"How many men died in battles that they believed they could win? Reject them, Tyene. I distrust these mercenaries. Don't go to Storm's End," Ser Daemon asked him.
"What makes you think that they will allow me that option? Ser Daemon, you were my father's squire; if you were with him now, would you be advising him to reject him as well?"Tyene did not wait for his answer; besides, the third of the Sand Snakes had the uncomfortable feeling that Haldon Halfmaster and Lysono Maar were going to put her on that ship the following day whether she wanted to or not. Better to not provoke them unless you can poison them, but that is now impossible.
"I know the answer… and I know that you are going to remind me that I am not the Red Viper; I know that too my father is dead, my uncle is sick and old. And I'm just a bastard ... Nothing important will happen if I die. " Tyene said with spite.
"Think of your sisters; send me to" Storm's End "instead. So if the gryphon's plan goes awry and Mace Tyrell retakes the castle, I'll be another landless knight who swore his sword with claims of profit and glory."
"Whereas if I am taken by the Iron Throne, I will take it as another bastard who was seduced by the gold of the mercenaries. It is brave that you want to protect me, Ser. I thank you ... But my uncle the Prince of Dorne entrusted this mission to me, not to you, Ser, so tomorrow, I will sail to see the dragon in its lair, whatever happens," Tyene said with surety.
The taking of "Storm's End" was surprisingly quick but bloody; they had lost more men than expected in its taking, but now ... Now the ancestral seat of the Baratheons was theirs.
A day had passed since Haldon had sent them a letter revealing that Prince Doran had sent one of his nieces, one of the Sand Snakes, to meet them, and Jon Connington was irritated to find out whether or not the niece was a bastard. But, unfortunately, that meant he didn't take them seriously.
Well, I couldn't blame him... They had rushed to send that letter so soon; they had to wait to take "Storm's End" so Doran Martell would have taken them more seriously ... Well, now they can't do anything.
The taking of the castle was a necessary but dangerous gamble because now the Highgarden army was heading there; if there was a time when they needed allies ... It was now. After that, the Lord of the Griffin's Nest took the letter from the Half-Maester and threw it into the burning fireplace.
In the great hall of "Storm's End" were Prince Aegon, his Hand Jon Connington, Tyrion Lannister, his political advisor, Ser Jorah Mormont, who during the battle had served as Tyrion's guard and the two members of his Kingsguard Ser Barristan and Ser Rolly, all were somewhat bruised and wounded from the battle but anxiously awaited the arrival of Prince Doran's emissary, Tyene Sand, the daughter of Prince Oberyn Martell and therefore Aegon's cousin.
They were all in the Great Hall until a messenger arrived, and after a few words with Connington, he nodded.
"Show them in" And the servant nodded and left.
"What is she like? ... My cousin," Prince Aegon asked.
"She is the bastard daughter of your uncle, your highness ..." Connington said, staring at Tyrion, making a gesture that the dwarf caught quickly and sighed.
"His cousin is one of the infamous Sand Snakes, his uncle Oberyn had a total of 8 bastard daughters and the one who comes to see him is the third of them; she is pretty as far as I know... But it is said that she is very dangerous, perhaps the most dangerous of the brood of vipers," Tyrion said, taking a glass of wine.
"Why?" Asked the young Prince.
"Because of all the daughters of Prince Oberyn, it is said Tyene was the only one who shared his knowledge and taste for the use of poisons," Tyrion said, taking a glass of wine while Aegon gulped.
At that moment, the servant returned with Haldon, Lysono Maar, and a retinue of men who clearly came from Dorne; in the centre was a young woman of at least twenty namedays she was fair, with golden hair and deep blue eyes. Dimples bloom in her cheeks; she wore a white dress with myrish sleeves. She looked so angelic that Aegon blushed when he saw her.
On her right side was a fourteen-year-old girl dressed in a tunic and breeches; she also carried an ashen spear, and on her left side was a young man who, judging by his appearance, was a knight.
At that moment, Jon Connington stepped in front of the entourage.
"Welcome ... You now stand before Aegon of House Targaryen the Sixth named after the rightful King of the Andals, Rhoynar and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm," Connington said proudly.
"Oh, forgive my poor manners. I'm merely Tyene Sand, a humble bastard daughter of Prince Oberyn Nymeros Martell delightful to meet you, Your Highness," She said with a sweet and gentle voice that, coupled with her dress, made her look like the purest of maidens.
Aegon just blushed and tried to speak, but no words came out. Seeing it, Tyrion and Rolly smiled while Jon Connington just sighed.
"Your Highness is surprised to meet you ... My Lady, you're his cousin after all," said the Hand of the King.
"Thank you for your courtesy, my Lord, but you can speak freely... I am just a bastard anyway, but I am not the only one... This young Lady next to me is my sister Elia, another of our Father's daughters; she is also your cousin," Tyene said while Elia just smiled and nodded.
"A pleasure to meet you both, Cousins," Aegon said, finally speaking.
At that moment, Jon Connington just groaned.
"I want to introduce you to the first two members of Prince Aegon's Royal Guard, his Lord Commander Ser Barristan Selmy and Ser Rolly Duckfield."
Hearing that the legendary knight was part of Aegon's Kingsguard, the look of astonishment on the Dornishmen was clearly remarkable.
"And there is also Ser Jorah Mormont, a knight in my service and Tyrion Lannister political advisor to His Highness," Connington said with indignation.
Hearing that Tywin Lannister's youngest son was in front of them, the gaze of Tyene and the others darkened.
"The Imp", Elia said, clutching her spear.
"I would prefer the 'Imp' if possible, my Lady," Tyrion said, sipping a glass of wine.
"What is Old Lion's son doing with you Cousin," Tyene said in a dangerous tone.
"I joined Prince Aegon's company after escaping from Westeros ... A mutual friend of both contacted us, and I have been advising His Highness on Westerosi politics ever since," Tyrion said.
"A mutual friend?" Tyene asked.
"It's part of the story ... Listen to it, from my own experience, I know it's something fascinating," Tyrion said.
"Very good ..." Tyene replied dangerously.
"Well, in that case, we can start ... We can't waste much time, an army is coming from King's Landing, and they will be here in two days at the most ... I sent a letter to Prince Doran explaining who we are and what we want," Connington said trying to calm down.
"Good Lord received her; that is why I am here. I am aware of my status as a bastard, but I enjoy my uncle's trust; that is why I am here, to speak in his name... My uncle will not support this cause until he is convinced of the identity of… Your Highness," Tyene said with a smile seeing the shocked expression on Aegon's face.
"What do you want to know ... Cousin?" Aegon said.
"It seems to me that this is more than obvious how did you survive, Gregor Clegane? as far as we all know, he smashed your head against the wall," Tyene.
"That wasn't me ... nor was the girl stabbed Rhaenys ..." Aegon replied.
At that time, Aegon began to tell his cousin the story of his life after the Sack of King's Landing; the infant killed during Tywin Lannister's attack was the son of a tanner. The child's mother had died at birth. The tanner sold his son to Varys for a jug of wine, as he already had other sons but had never tasted Arbor gold wine. And the girl who replaced Rhaenys was the daughter of a prostitute who gave her up without much resistance; Varys arranged the exchange between the two babies. So Elia received the tanner's son and the prostitute's daughter while Varys took custody of the real Rhaenys and Aegon.
Once the impostor infant was killed by Gregor Clegane and Amory Lorch, Varys smuggled the genuine Rhaenys and Aegon across the "Narrow Sea", where they were first entrusted to Magister Illyrio Mopatis and then Lord Jon Connington, a friend of their late father, then years later Rhaenys went to her aunt Daenerys's wedding to rescue her from her marriage to the Khal where they both disappeared.
After finishing the story, Tyene said nothing for a few moments until she closed her eyes and sighed.
"Your story is quite odd. I can hardly believe it," Tyene said.
"But every word is true ... Cousin," Aegon said after a moment. And Tyene sighed.
"So ... My Lady, after listening to us ... do we have Dorne's support?" Jon Connington asked.
"That question is not up to me to answer, Ser; I am just a humble emissary who came as an observer for my uncle... If he gives me paper, ink and a raven, I will tell him what we have discussed here... Then, he will decide," Tyene said in an innocent tone.
The expression on the faces of Aegon, Connington and company was bitter, clearly not the answer they expected.
At that moment, Ser Daemon stepped forward.
"If I may ask ... what do you plan to do now? ... What is your next step? Conquering Storm's End is undoubtedly a remarkable achievement, but still, that is enough ... Even with Dorne's support, a Tyrell army is coming here, and even though at this moment he is half a continent away, Lord Stannis will discover what you have achieved and will return to recover his ancestral home so what do you intend to do."
"What is your name, Ser?" Connington asked.
"Ser Daemon Sand, my Lord", replied the knight.
"Another bastard... But he's right; we took this castle in hopes of showing our strength to the Kingdom, especially Prince Doran, to convince him that it was worth supporting us... But this alone is not enough... We have no choice; we will have to face the army of Mace Tyrell ... Only in this way will we show our strength to Prince Doran," thought the desperate gryphon.
"I would not worry about Lord Stannis," Haldon said suddenly ", Halfmaester", earning everyone's eyes.
"What are you talking about, Haldon?" Prince Aegon asked.
"Stannis Baratheon is dead," replied the Half-Master, leaving the entire room stunned, and Jon Connington quickly rounded on him.
"What are you talking about, Haldon?" Asked the tap.
"Our spies ventured North hoping to take stock of the Riverlands and overheard some Freys discussing the fortunes of the Fiery Stag", replied the scholar.
"Well out with it, Haldon", Connington barked.
"Apparently Lord Stannis fell in the battle of the North, defeated the Boltons whose Lord had been appointed Warden of the North since the Red Wedding with the help of the Knights of Vale, led by Lord Edmure Tully and his uncle Ser Brynden Tully, in addition, Ned Stark's two youngest sons are said to have been in hiding all this time, and now the Starks control the North again," Haldon said.
No one could speak for a few minutes while they assimilated the information, but in Tyrion's mind, a plan was already hatching to use this to his advantage.
"This... this may be what we needed to gain more allies," Tyrion said, putting down the wine glass and started pacing back and forth in the Hall.
"Explain, dwarf," Connington ordered.
"The North is back with the Starks, which means that my family lost control over it again, plus Lysa Arryn is the aunt of those children; if they are the actual Brandon and Rickon Stark, she must finally be supporting them with the full might of the Vale, "Tyrion said, massaging his chin.
"Get to the point, Tyrion…." Ser Jorah growled.
"I propose that when we finish the battle here ... we invade the ports and sail to Riverlands and place Riverrun under siege to return it to the Tullys," Said the dwarf.
The whole room was silent, and even Jon Connington was surprised by the proposal of his political adviser, but Aegon had an angry expression on his face.
"Why would we do that? The Starks, the Tullys and the Arryns were the ones who destroyed my family; why would I help them?" Aegon asked, annoyed.
"Because Robert's rebellion occurred thanks to the actions of your father and grandfather, my Prince, it hurts, but it is the truth and never forget it because the rest of the kingdom you want to rule will not accept it so that they can never use it against you " Tyrion responded which silenced the young dragon.
Everyone listened to Tyrion's words in amazement for a few moments, but before they said anything to him, he continued.
"At this time, the Riverlands are de facto controlled by House Frey as their High Lord, Petyt Baelish, has disappeared since the second Red Wedding that took place on Riverrun ... However, the Rivermen hate the Freys for their treachery though they do not. Therefore, they can challenge them for the support of my family; however, if you do and manage to return the Tullys to their ancestral home, that will make them listen to you and even more so, both the North, Riverlands and Vale share blood, Lord Edmure is the uncle of the Young Stark and Lord Robert Arryn of Vale, if it helps the Tullys, it is possible that we can win the support of the North and the Vale, the latter being the most important for still having their armies and resources intact "Said Tyrion.
Many in the Hall pondered Tyrion's counsel and realized that it did indeed have merit; although it was too precarious, the relationship between their houses was quite hostile.
"Your idea has merit ... But it is precarious; it is also no guarantee that the Tullys will support us; they fought for Robb Stark, who tried to divide the Seven Kingdoms." Connington said with a hand on his chin.
"They will if His Majesty apologizes to House Stark for his grandfather's actions and above all promises to bring the Freys to justice for the Red Wedding," Tyrion said, staring at Aegon.
"Apologize to the Starks? Arrest the Freys? Have you gone crazy, Imp?" Connington grunted.
"No, my Lord, it is imperative that the Prince does", Tyrion continued taking his glass back and taking a sip.
"Why's that?" Aegon asked.
"Because the North does not forget his Highness, they have not forgotten the crimes of the Mad King and the fact that Prince Rhaegar kidnapped Lyanna Stark does not help ... Prince Aegon must show his strength, but he must show that he is willing to leave behind the past, not to mention that he will have to give something else to the Northerners and the Rivermen, so they don't see him as an enemy, "Tyrion said.
"What do you speak of ?" Aegon asked, annoyed.
"Walder Frey's head," The dwarf said without hesitation, and all his companions were surprised.
"But why?" Aegon asked, confused.
"Walder Frey violated the rights of hospitality, invited Robb Stark and his men to a wedding in his castle and then as guests under his roof he brutally murdered them ... He and all his brood are cursed in the eyes of the Gods forever "Ser Barristan replied with disgust as he remembered that damn Weasel.
"Exactly, the Northerners and Rivermen are going to be very grateful if you come to the Red Wedding, and they will give us their support, not to mention that even if you refuse, you will eventually have to punish the Freys for committing such an act, after all, if your Highness allows such a heinous crime to go unpunished; it will terribly damage the image of your cause in the eyes of all Westeros, "Tyrion said.
"He is right; eventually, we will have to punish the Freys for that crime, but if we do it now, we could win allies", Jon thought.
And after a few moments, he sighed.
"First, we have to survive Mace Tyrell's offence ... Then we will decide what to do, for now, Lady Tyene write to your uncle and let us hope he will send us aid," Said the gryphon.
"Thank you, my Lord", Tyene said, bowing.
After that, she gave one last flirtatious look at her cousin and left with her companions.
The enemies arrived three days after that conversation in the middle of a brutal and terrible storm; it was an impressive army with the banners of House Tyrell in the vanguard and the banners of Minor Houses such as House Fossoway, House Bridge, House Tarly, among others. His cousin Tyene and her entourage were sheltered inside the castle since they did not want to get involved in the conflict so as not to implicate Dorne until they had the answer from Prince Doran.
But it only left them in a desperate situation ... Although Aegon knew that he had something that could win him the battle.
Annatar's the last gift ... The Ring of Ancient Valyria.
Ever since Aegon received the Ring from the Red Priest, he had wanted to use it, though he never had the opportunity to do so in part because he hadn't needed it. And he knew that his comrades did not trust Annatar.
Also, his companions dismissed the words of the Red Priest about the power of the Ring... But he felt that the Priest's words were no falsehood; the Ring spoke to him, and he could sense its great magics.
Despite his doubts, Rhaegar's son decided to keep the Ring as a precaution; it seemed Mace Tyrell was an utter fool, and they should have no issue defeating him.
It was time to go out and prove that the dragon's blood was still alive and ready to claim what was rightfully it's own.
Unfortunately, if there were problems, many:
The Tyrell forces were very well prepared and had siege engines; their training and discipline were such that the storm seemed not to affect them.
"What's going on? ... This is not supposed to be like this", Aegon thought on the battlefield; he was covered in gore and mud flanked by Ser Barristan and Rolly, who were weary from the storm and battle.
"Mace Tyrell was supposed to be incompetent ..." Rolly said, panting.
"I agree ... The ... The siege machines were finished very soon; some were already prepared" Seconded Ser Barristan.
"What does that mean?" Aegon asked, beginning to despair as he fought a freckled soldier.
"What ... Maybe the one who directs this attack is not Mace Tyrell but ... Randyl Tarly," Said Ser Barristan.
"It can't be Lysono insisting that the one leading this attack is 'The Fat Flower of Highgarden'! Yelled Aegon.
The beginning of the battle started relatively well; allowing themselves to besiege was not an option, so they waited for the Tyrell army at the gates as it descended from the "Royal Road" the storm that started at the beginning of the battle hindered both armies Although to the surprise of the mercenaries the Tyrell army prepared siege engines in an effort to pierce the walls. Nevertheless, the ancestral castle of the Baratheon proved its solidity and has resisted them for the moment ... But despite all this, the Golden Company knew things had turned grim; the elephants could not be used in such terrible weather as the beast feared the clap of thunder and the heavy rain that obstructs their sight; they were just as likely to trample their own soldiers as the Tyrells.
The Tyrell cavalry demonstrated their efficiency and quickly began to impede their movement. Finally, they were closing in on them, shortening the distance between them to prevent them from using weapons such as spears.
The archers from the battlements were the only ones who could truly bring down the knights, and even then, the plate and mail of the Tyrell army proved it's worth turning aside dozens of arrows.
It was indeed a masterful strategy ... And they were not expecting it ... Some were even beginning to lose heart.
At that moment, one of Lysono's men approached them.
"We located Mace Tyrell; he leads his men from a flanked tent; we cannot get close by the heavily armed guards," said the spy.
"We have to capture him, or we'll perish here..." Rolly said.
"I thought Mace Tyrell was incompetent," Aegon said, barely dodging an attack.
"It is, all the reports say it ... I don't know what's going on here ..." Ser Barristan said, slitting the throat of an enemy.
"We have to capture him at any cost... Only then can we win!" Shouted Rolly.
"We have to…!" Aegon started to say, but an arrow brushed his cheek, causing him to fall to the ground.
"MAJESTY!" Rolly and Ser Barristan yelled simultaneously, alarmed to see Aegon downed but sighed as they realized it was just a scratch.
"Ser Rolly take Prince Aegon inside the castle ..." Ser Barristan ordered.
"NO! ... I refuse to hide behind the castle walls ..." Aegon yelled, getting up again.
"The Prince cannot stay here... He was already wounded, he cannot die here, or all this will have been useless go I will hold them off" Ser Barristan said.
"Sorry to say this ... But this battle is almost lost unless we catch Mace Tyrell... Everything will be over... We need a miracle," Rolly said.
"We can't get to Mace Tyrell's tent," Ser Barristan said sadly.
But Aegon was not listening, his whole world sank from the moment he heard that they were going to lose, they could not lose not after all they had achieved ... He was Prince Aegon Targaryen, son of Rhaegar, descendant of the Conqueror he must do something.
"But what?" He thought, holding back tears of helplessness... Then, at that moment, he remembered it and rummaged through his coin pouch; he desperately fiddled around till he found it.
Annatar's Ring, the Ring of his ancestors ... The one that supposedly could grant him victory if there was a moment to try it and see the veracity of the Red Priest's words, it was now.
"Prince Aegon?" Asked Ser Barristan.
"Grif?" Rolly asked.
Aegon ignored them and began to work the Ring on his left ring finger until it was on.
He could feel that something had changed Immediately; the young Targaryen slowly opened his eyes and was amazed by what was happening; everything around him had acquired a gloomy colour, although everything else continued as before except that the shadows became terribly sharp.
He heard Ser Barristan and Rolly call him desperate, and although he called them, they did not hear him until he understood that they could not see him; for a few moments, he had the desire to remove the Ring, but an idea began to form in his head.
"So I can capture Mace Tyrell." Aegon thought with glee
Using his new power, Aegon calmly walked through the camp delighting in advancing with the naked eye without being seen ... until he finally saw the most enormous tent, ostentatious with the emblem of the golden rose on a green field surrounded by heavily armed knights, but Aegon merely walked passed them unnoticed.
"This is incredible," The Prince thought excitedly as he entered the tent.
On it was a huge banquet table and on it was a man with curly brown hair and a short beard that already had white and grey spots, triangular in shape ... And he was very fat.
He was wearing beautiful armour adorned with gold roses and jewels, which made him look like a mighty Lord, but that image was ruined by watching him devour a piece of chicken.
Behind him were two young men at a table talking and looking at a huge map of the region.
"These men are leading the siege, and this fucking pig is feasting?" Aegon thought indignantly.
Taking advantage of his invisibility, Aegon overturned the banquet table surprising everyone and threw himself at the knights before they could draw their swords, cutting their throats.
A surprised Mace Tyrell quickly dropped his piece of chicken and awkwardly drew his sword, but he couldn't see the assassin.
"Who's there?" He asked fearfully, but no one answered.
At that moment, the Lord of Highgarden was walloped in the face and knocked down. Hearing the chaos inside the tent, the soldiers outside entered to see their Lord on the ground and the advisers sent by Randyll Tarly dead on the floor.
Seeing them, Aegon cursed their impulsiveness as invisible or not; he could not take Mace Tyrell if the soldiers saw him.
"or perhaps I can, Aegon thought, and then he felt his Ring begin to throb, and he could see it shine; feeling an impulse, he held his sword with his left hand, and the blade began to shine like a pale flame.
He buried his sword in the ground.
The spell soldiers fell to the ground in terror as if a wraith had gripped their hearts, and soon the ground began to quake.
A surprised Aegon realized that the tremors did not affect him quickly took The fat flower and promptly began returning to the castle.
"By the gods, he must leave the banquets! ... Aegon thought, managing to move barely under the weight of his captive as the tremors worsened, knocking down all the soldiers.
Meanwhile, Mace Tyrell was only praying to the Seven to protect him from whatever captured him; that was when everyone realized that Mace Tyrell was on the battlefield; many of the Bannerman thought they had died seeing their oaf of a liege lord in the dirt.
Aegon managed to make out his mentor Jon Connington, who gave orders to the men to catch Mace, who was quickly captured while an invisible Aegon watched with satisfaction.
"Now our enemies will surrender," Aegon thought.
Then as if the Ring understood his thoughts, Aegon could perceive many emotions suddenly, fear, shock, frustration, anguish.
"Am I feeling their hearts? I care not for their emotions; I simply wish they would throw down their sword," Aegon thought.
As soon as his mind made that wish, the Tyrell soldiers were filled with evil and horror more unbearable they became, not less, at each new cry. At length, even the stout-hearted would fling themselves to the ground as the hidden menace passed over them, or they would stand, letting their weapons fall from nerveless hands while into their minds a blackness came, and they thought no more of war, but only of hiding and of crawling, and of death, Aegon merely gazed at the scene before him with terror and joy.
However, the power of the Ring was such that all the soldiers, regardless of whether they were allies or enemies, began to feel a deep cold roaming the battlefield, and even the Golden Company itself began to feel how their hearts began to shrink in fear ... While Aegon who looked happily at his enemies on the ground remained unaware of the influence he had on his allies.
"Is it real? ... Is this truly real?" Aegon thought.
"It's amazing!" He screamed, taking off his Ring, making himself visible to his stunned army.
"Prince Aegon!" Jon Connington yelled, running to the side of his "adopted son".
"Jon! ... This is incredible! .. Annatar did not lie to us! .. The power of the ring is real!" Aegon yelled in excitement.
"It's true, I was invisible... I captured Mace Tyrell and then caused those tremors; also, I forced the soldiers to surrender to my will; it's just as Annatar said," Aegon said excitedly.
But his "Hand" just stared at him dumbfounded.
"Is this true?" He asked, unable to fully believe his Prince's words.
"Yes, this battle is already won," Aegon said excitedly.
Jon Connington only glanced at Ser Barristan and Rolly, who was still staring at Aegon and his Ring with awe in their eyes.
The Gryphon knew they would need to talk about this, but it was more important to take advantage of the enemy's loss of morale to win.
"Take Mace Tyrell to the dungeons, as well as everyone who wants to surrender ... This is not over, but let's not waste this ..." Connington said, looking at Prince Aegon, who was gazing longingly at the Ring.
"The Imp is right; no man would part with something as powerful as this ring willingly; something dark is afoot," Connington thought, looking at the Ring suspiciously, but nothing could be done.
Once the army of the Reach discovered that their Lord had been captured and his hosts dispersed, the Golden Company managed to keep the castle and take hostages from the members of many Noble Houses, which would force House Tyrell's hand. As for Lord Mace was brought to his knees before Prince Aegon, where he was later thrown into the dungeons when he refused to acknowledge the identity and authority of the Prince.
Finally, Prince Aegon told his counsel of the great powers; the Ring possessed and how it had won the day.
It must be said that none of them finished accepting that the Priest's words were true despite everything. But, nevertheless, the Ring had power, a power that could greatly aid their quest.
But while the Prince was elated and eager to find out what else the Ring could do ... His advisors were wary of such an object.
After all ... Who gives up power like that without the slightest qualm?
"My Prince, I am wary of this Ring, and you should be as well something as mighty as thing band of gold cannot come without great cost," Tyrion said, looking at the Ring placed on the Council table with a sense of dread.
"Lord Tyrion ... This gift, it won us victory when all seemed lost, Annatar was honest! With this, we can conquer Westeros in less than a year! " Said the Prince excited to discover more powers of his Ring.
"My Prince, Lord Tyrion is right; we do not know what reasons that Priest parted with it nor do we understand its nature or power, it indeed helped us ... But I do not trust its magic," Ser Barristan said, staring at the Ring as he remembered in dread the sense of inhuman terror he felt when the Prince used his power to defeat his enemies with fear.
"But ... What the Prince says is true, that battle was lost and the ring saved us, now we have Mace Tyrell prisoner, and we send ravens to his family to reach an agreement ... Trust or not, we owe him our lives and our campaign to this ring ... And to that Priest," Rolly said.
"Exactly ... I know what you want to tell me, and I appreciate your advice, but you made it clear to me from the beginning that our chances to win the" Iron Throne "were slim ... Now with this power ... That has changed we will be able to win without much difficulty... And without losing lives or further damaging the Kingdom, "Said Aegon and his words had a considerable weight for everyone, especially for Tyrion and Ser Barristan, who had already known first hand all the destruction that Westeros had. Suffered in the War of the Five Kings.
At that moment, Jon Connington, who remained crossed his arms, sighed and massaged his temple.
"What grim fortune, but Prince Aegon is right, the Priest is right ... We can't waste this power ... But I don't trust Annatar," Connington thought with trepidation.
"Haldon ..." Connington said suddenly.
"Yes? Lord Connington .. "Said the Half-Master, who did not take his eyes off the Ring.
"I want you to look for information about this ring; I want to know everything about it, even if they are just legends ... I want to know what we are dealing with ..." Connington said, looking at Annatar's Ring fiercely and the Halfmaester nodded.
But Aegon could not understand why this distrust towards Annatar's gift, Now they had the victory assured! At that moment, feeling that the Ring was calling him again, Aegon quickly took it from the table, and before anyone could stop it, he placed it on his finger.
This time not only did he become invisible, but now he could see many images around him ... He was in a port, a city and in the centre of the bay, there was a great stone tower topped with a banner that bore a white tower crowned with flames on smoke grey Aegon remembered that sigil.
Suddenly he no longer saw the Hightower or the City but a strange creature ... A squid if his studies were correct, but this squid was ... Monstrous ... It was a tall, twisted thing with ten long black tentacles sailing on the trail of blood in the sea and with a single red eye with a black pupil under a black iron crown held by two ravens.
It was the most disgusting thing Aegon had ever seen.. well, the second thing, Harry's blistered feet being washed and dried by his poor squire, was still the undefeated image in the first place.
But then ... Something began to change ... The image of the horrible squid disappeared ... And suddenly a beautiful sword appeared in front of him ... It was a half-hilt sword with a blackened blade and a ruby on it. The handle, as well as a hilt adorned with dragons.
Aegon recognized the sword as soon as he saw it ... Blackfyre, the famous Valyrian Steel sword of his family given by Aegon The Unworthy to Daemon Blackfyre and believed lost.
"Why do I see this? ... Is the Ring trying to tell me something?" Aegon thought, and at that moment, he took off the Ring, appearing in front of everyone's terrified gaze.
"Aegon!" Shouted Connington, breathing easy when he saw his Prince safe and sound.
"Is your Highness alright?" Haldon asked, starting to examine Aegon, who seemed somewhat absent.
"Yes.." Though Aegon was unsure of that
"You disappeared when you put the Ring on," Tyrion said.
"I did not disappear, Lord Tyrion, only you could not see me, I think the Ring showed me a vision", Aegon said as his companions looked at him, confused.
"What things?" Connington asked.
At that moment, Aegon told everyone his vision of the Hightower and the monstrous squid and the finding of his families ancestral blade.
"Maybe ... It was nothing ..." Tyrion said, but the truth was that not even he was convinced.
"Your Highness thinks the same, the ancestral sword of your family was lost at the end of the First Blackfyre Rebellion when" Bitter Steel "returned to Essos", Ser Barristan said.
"I know, but the Ring showed it to me... I am also intrigued by the monstrous creature that it showed me... What could that be?" The young Prince wondered.
"A squid is the heraldry of House Greyjoy, and that monstrous squid by his description carried the personal heraldry of Euron Greyjoy, who as far as we know is the new king of the" Iron Islands ", Tyrion replied.
"Another usurper then", Aegon replied with annoyance.
"According to information from our spies, the Ironborn have taken the Shield Islands attacking the mouth of the Mander ... The Redwyne fleet is already on its way to 'Oldtown' to deal with them," said the Halfmaester.
"Why would the ring show me this? ... Does that Euron Greyjoy have my family's sword?" Aegon asked no one in particular.
"I don't know, your Highness ... But this Ring is too important ..." Tyrion said, beginning to worry about the influence that Ring was starting to have on the Prince.
But this one did not seem to listen.
"I already decided what we will do, we will go to 'Oldtown', and I will see that ... Euron Greyjoy by myself, prepare everything Jon ..." Aegon ordered.
"Your Highness ... I must suggest keeping our current plans ... We cannot go to battle in Oldtown ..." the Gryphon began to reply.
"I know, and don't worry, our plans shall not be thwarted we shall go to Oldtown in disguise while Barristan and Tyrion remain here as they are too well known throughout the Kingdoms and perhaps if we can defeat Euron, we may earn the loyalty of another great house, Aegon said, looking longingly at Annatar's Ring on the Council table, and it whispered something to him that filled him with a sense of longing and power.
"Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie
One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them,
One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie. "