Caught between warriors and knights from all over the Seven Kingdoms, the monsters swiftly began to dwindle under the attack. Redwyne, Florent, and Hightower men along with all manner of Reach chivalry advanced to reinforce the Tyrells and the Tarlys. The Reachman pressed forward, urged on by their lords. From behind, the Vale Knights, River Knights, Storm Knights, Iron Reavers, and Night's Watchmen cut their way through the monsters. There had been hundreds of beasts only a few moments ago, but now they had less than half of their numbers. The inhuman screams and cries of agony from over a dozen different kind of sea creature soured the air. Caught on all sides, their deaths were imminent. The monsters seemed to recognize this, and when only a quarter of the original beasts still stood unhurt, their spirit broke. One tall beast with a shark fin on his head raised a hue and cry and gestured back to the sea. The creatures immediately abandoned the assault and pressed forward in a single direction. Most of them dropped their weapons to run, all of them scrambling to one side of the Westeros formation to escape the slaughter. They fought even more ferociously than before, like animals caught in a snare, some of them trampling men-at-arms in their rush to escape. They used whatever means they could, some lifting off to glide with gossamer-like wings while others slithered or sprinted over shields, a few even able to leap clean over the Westorosi lines. Many of them died in the attempt, and those that were left abandoned the battle; fleeing in the direction of the seaward battlements.
The Westerosi gave a collective roar of victory. Many ran off after the fleeing beasts to give chase while the others ran to support the men on the battlements or the battle in front of Maegor's Holdfast while a smaller force kept watch in front of the Throne Room. The doors of the Throne Room were thrown open, a giant roaring and stomping after the fleeing sea creatures while another giant gestured for the wounded to flee into the Throne Room. Several Targaryen men-at-arms and servants arrived with stretchers to help the wounded inside including Ser Harwin and Ser Oswell. Theon saw his daughter and smiled as the battle raged in a different direction. Several of his men helped carry him to safety, another few Rangers helping Taria and Seran along. Theon grit his teeth in pain before smiling at his daughter, "You proved yourself a Greyjoy today Taria. You are Ironborn." He was helped away before he could say more. Several Florent men came up to Ellion and Merebelle. There was little love lost between the Florents of Brightwater Keep and the Tyrells of Highgarden and there was a certain tension in their features but they stayed true to Ellion, covering his side as Merebelle escorted him inside the throne room to safety. A Corbray Winged Knight came to Mychel and Artys, his sword bloody. He gestured to the Throne Room, "Withdraw my lord. You are wounded. You must seek shelter. Ser Harry is driving them back to the sea, but we must keep you safe. Come my lord." A small cadre of Winged Knights saw Mychel inside the Red Keep, swords out, ready to cut down any who threatened the heir to the Vale. Inside the Throne Room, a makeshift triage center had been created. Maesters, septons and septas, nurses, citadel acolytes, and combat medics of all description helped tend the wounded. They had raided the finest supplies from the Red Keep's stores and tended to the men professionally and calmly. Ample room was found for the wounded warriors. However in a distant corner, several white hooded figures stood vigil over one of their number, watching silently as the figure on the ground softly sighed in a noise akin to the pattering of snow. One figure knelt over their wounded comrade, head bent in noiseless grief.
On the walls, the situation was much the same. Longboats had disembarked on the shores and troops jumped from the ships to attack the beasts on the beaches. Seeing their comrades fleeing, the aquatic monsters took flight as well, leaping over the walls to escape the swords of the Red Keep's defenders. They abandoned their assault on the wall and fled in droves, many of them cut down by arrows and blades. Some of the coming longboats were attacked by sea beasts covering the escape of their compatriots, men dragged down into the depths by tentacles and seaweed covered hands, but the marine forces had caught the monsters between them and the Red Keep and the monters's assault turned into a rout. The wyverns took flight, a small paltry number escaping the slaughter of their kin at the teeth and claws of the dragons. Several Legionnaires relieved Steffon's position, pushing away the beasts with shield and spear. One of their commanders came up to Steffon and spoke in lightly accented Common, "My lord. The battle has turned. The knights have secured the throne room, where medical triage has been erected. Please let my troops escort you and your men to safety." Drogon alighted on one of the walls nearby and he roared into the sky in a goat of black flame. Soon the other dragons followed and the roar was taken up by the defenders as the assault was overturned. Those who had chased the beasts to the walls joined the garrison in pumping their fists and raising their swords in the air, crying out their lands, lords, and words as they watched the beasts flee.
Meanwhile in the courtyard the battle was also won. A small group of black and white clad figures had hit the Marauders in the rear, cutting off their path from the secret passages of the Red Keep as the King's men pressed on them. Within minutes they were defeated, with the vast majority killed and the rest wounded or captured, unable to flee unlike their monstrous allies. One of the black and white-garbed fighters, approached King Jon. His entire outfit was split down the middle, half black and half white, and a hood covered his face while a scarf covered his mouth. A black and white cat pinned his black and white cloak to his leather armor. He kneeled in front of the King. Jon quickly bade him to rise, "Lucky you came, ser. If you hadn't cut them off, they would likely have kept coming or escaped." The man bowed, "It is our duty to serve. If it please your grace we took captives. But we already know who these men worked for." Jon frowned, "Who?"
"They all bore the mark of the Pirate King, your grace."
Jon grit his teeth in fury as the gate to the Keep was opened and a column of Gold Cloaks entered the keep. Their leader, the Lord Commandeer Slynt hailed the king, "Your grace. We would have come sooner but these beasts and their pirate friends started attacking in the city. They ran amok in the ports and the markets. They set fires in the winesinks and houses. We would have rushed to your aid but it would have left the smallfolk at their mercy." The king nodded, "You were right to stay Lord Commander. We were hardly short-handed here. How did the battle fare?" Slynt grinned, "They were all slaughtered your grace. We had hundreds of men on patrol and hundreds of men-at-arms from all manners of lordly retinues were guarding the manses. They came out to help when the attack began. With the sailors and soldiers from the warships in port and the Knight Templars at the Grand Sept, we put these pirates to paid. We outnumbered them and they were hardly organized. They are all either dead, captured, or fled into the night. We have patrols combing the Blackwater and the Kingsroad now, and we will likely have more in the ground or in chains by the morning. Your brother and his man were out in the city but a patrol found them and kept them safe. They should be here soon."
Jon nodded, "Keep your men on high alert. I want Legionnaires and Night Riders assisting in the patrols and manhunts as well." The day had been won, but something still bothered the king. Viserys and Robb came to Jon's side. Viserys wrinkled his brow, "What is wrong father? We won. A wedding and a victorious battle in one day? With minimal casualties? I daresay tomorrow should be a celebration of this victory. And after these festivities are done, we will gather a fleet and throw this Pirate King into the sea."
Jon frowned, "This was a victory, but it was also a foolhardy assault. This was the worst time for any kind of attack and now they will never get to attack in this manner again. We had ten times the number of men present than usual and were on high alert. They didn't bring nearly enough to overwhelm us and now we know they can attack by sea and that they have knowledge of the secret passages. They won't be able to surprise us with those kind of attacks any longer. And yet this was highly coordinated. Multiple attacks at once, all designed to force us to fight on several fronts. This took months of planning and yet they failed to prepare adequately? What could they have hoped to achieve?"
A rider came rushing to the retinue, dismounting his horse and kneeling, "My king, grave news."
"The Gold Cloaks and your bannermen held the Red Keep, the attackers did not breach the castle. But one of the Others was wounded. They say he will die. And one of their children is missing."
Jon cursed, "A distraction." He turned, comprehension dawning, and ran to Maegor's Holdfast without a word, his retainers hurrying to catch up.
Inside Maegor's Holdfast, Rhaegar and Malrik burst into Aemon's room as the fight raged. Jenn and Mable had killed most of the thugs and another had died on Aemon's sword. Arya and the Warlock kept dueling, until finally the Mistress of Whisperer's caught the Warlock in a hold and stabbed her dagger into his neck. With a strong and quick motion, she sliced off his head and the Warlock finally fell and stayed dead, sizzling blue blood spilling onto the floor.
The female warlock was the only one left alive and she snarled, hissing at the others as they closed in from all sides. She turned at Aemon and charged, hands reaching out past the Prince to grip Julianna but the Prince stopped her with a shove and chopped off one hand with Blackfyre. The warlock howled and ran in the opposite direction, diving for the portal. Arya threw a regular steel dagger and caught the woman in the leg but she limped along until she fell into the blood-red portal which closed with a sinister whisper.
Aemon dropped Blackfyre and held Julianna tightly to his chest. His violet eyes exuding gratitude to Arya and the Freys, "Thank you Arya. Lady Mable, Lady Jenn. I owe you a debt." Arya shook her head, "It was the only thing to do nephew. We are safe for now, but now we must make preparations."
King Jon burst into the room, followed by several guards and saw Aemon and Julianna safe. He sighed in relief and hugged his son close. The King stared at Arya and nodded, "Sister. Now is the time. Have the lords and their retinues gather in the Throne Room after the wounded are attended to. I will make a decree shortly."
Arak and Brandon saw the fighting in the city as they rushed to the Red Keep. Fires in numerous shops, taverns, brothels, and homes raged as knights and gold cloaks clashed with pirates and beasts. The smallfolk were running in the streets, screaming in fear when just a few moments ago they had been raising cups to the Prince's health and dancing under the lanterns to the tune of music. Luckily, the army heavily outnumbered the attackers and the battle was in the city's favor. A group of Pirates saw the lone lord and his solitary guard and made to attack but then a column of Gold Cloaks rode down the men, forming a protective circle around Brandon Stark and Arak. The Winged Wolf was known on sight, and was the King's blood brother. They protected him fiercely, forming a circle around Brandon and letting Arak join them as they held off the attackers. Soon the pirates fled and their captain turned to Brandon, "My lord. The battle is in our favor. I will call for a arraign and once it arrives, we will escort you to the Red Keep."
The Grand Sept
When King Jon and Queen Daenerys ascended to the thrown, they had had difficulties with the Faith Militant. It was dangerous for holy men to carry swords and the fanatical Sparrows had nearly laid the city low. And yet it could not be denied that the slaughter of Silent Sisters and faithful during the war proved the need for champions of the Faith. And so the Faith Militant had been reformed. The Faith would not have the authority to conduct religious trials and the Sparrows had been dispersed entirely, with the remaining Poor Fellows following the Warrior's Sons as men-at-arms. The High Septon would not have the authority to declare war on any other faith and the Faith Militant would be dedicated solely to defending Septs and religious pilgrims instead of harassing non-believers as the Sparrows had done. The High Septon would swear fealty to the Iron Throne and the Faith Militant could only go to battle at the King's consent and command, but have never been deployed in over two decades. The order was now mostly made up of hedge and household knights as well as younger sons and those seeking atonement. The compromise had worked, even though some in the Order believe their direction should be more hardline and many Septons agree.
And yet the Faith Militant proved useful, defending the city from the attack. They covered the doors of the Grand Sept, ushering Aerion inside. The healers set to work on Amber, their efforts directed by one young man with light brown skin, black hair, and clear blue eyes who sang softly to Amber as they tended her wounds. His presence seemed to soothe the young woman, and she was much more stable after several minutes under his care.
The man went to Aerion's side, "She will not die. You got her here in time and we have managed to stop the bleeding. Her wounds were deep, but with time they will heal. Though she will bear scars. Let me see to your wounds, Ser." The man calmly stitched and bandaged Aerion up, moving quickly and calmly, humming that same tune that seemed to automatically ease nerves and tension. After some time Amber lay sleeping on the bed and Aerion's wounds seemed to have recovered greatly, almost miraculously. A Redwyne retinue entered the room and Lord Horas and his son Jaime immediately went to Amber's side, holding her hand with tears in their eyes. Lord Redwyne bowed to Ser Aerion and the healer, "Ser. Septon. I owe you my life. Whatever I can do to repay you, if it is within my means I will do so."
The young septon raised his hands in a small smile, "Fear not my Lord. I was simply doing the Mother's work. She is the one to thank. I require not your thanks but they are highly appreciated."
Horas nodded, "Still. If either of you ever need call on my aid, it will be provided. I also came with a message. The king desires Ser Aerion's presence in the Throne Room. An announcement is to be made. The gold cloaks will escort you to the keep Ser."
The Septon stood, "I will accompany Ser Aerion. There will be many wounded in the Red Keep and I will do my best to help them. Come Ser, let us leave at once. Lady Amber will be fine, but you should say your goodbyes. If my feeling is right, the time to draw your sword is fast approaching once more."
The Throne Room
Roughly an hour later, after the dead had been collected, the prisoners rounded up, and the wounded either tended to or moved to a proper facility, the survivors of the attack gathered before the Iron Throne. Scores of men-at-arms had been killed, and some camp followers had been caught in the attack. Almost two hundred smallfolk had been killed in the city. But miraculously the majority of the nobility had escaped with wounds. A few knights had been severely injured but the bravery of the realm's chivalry had ensured the survival of those lords and ladies who could not fight. A messenger from the Grand Sept had come earlier bearing tidings that the Sept's healers were tending to Lady Amber. Hobber Redwyne and his sons were standing in for Horas and his son as they were at Amber's side. Brandon had been found safely. Jon did not know the young lady well but he was relieved all the same. Her father commanded one of the largest fleets in the realm and it would not do for him to be in mourning during this time. And Jon did not know what he would do if Brandon had been killed.
The royal family stood seated in seats below the two thrones where Jon and Daenerys sat. The small council and the remaining Wardens and the Lords Paramount with their own families were seated near the royal congregation. The hall was alive with chatter. Many were in shock at the attack, others mourning friends who had died, still others boastful of victories or angry at the attack and seeking vengeance. The herald stomped his staff on the ground a dozen times until order was restored.
Jon, crown on his head with his bloodied armor still encasing him spoke clearly without preamble, "After intense consultation with my council, we have come to several conclusions and courses of action. I will proceed in informing you all of my plans quickly. But first, I must congratulate you all on your conduct during this battle. We were attacked in the dead of night, unaware of the danger approaching. We could have all been killed, victims of inaction and panic. But we rallied together, kept our wits, and stood valiantly against our enemies as we once did in the Long Night. There has never been a more chivalrous, courageous, and honorable collection of knights, lords, and ladies and I am proud to have fought beside you in battle once more. Tonight we were united and this unity saved the kingdom. Before I reveal what must be done next, I shall bestow the throne's honors upon the collection of heroes gathered here today."
The herald unfolded a list and the King quickly went through a list of honors to those who distinguished themselves, agreed upon by both the throne and consulted high Lords. Several young lordlings and heirs had earned their knightly spurs and more veteran knights were inducted into the Green Hand or the Winged Knights in recognition for their bravery. Many soldiers received promotions while hedge knights were accepted as sworn swords to many households. Our heroes received their own honors, with Queen Daenerys bestowing them herself,
"After consultation with Lord Willas, it has been agreed that Ser Ellion Tyrell if you accept, will be given recognition as a Knight of the Green Hand. You will also have a position at court for as long as you desire as Master-at-Arms of the Red Keep." Every Reachman in the throne room cheered, with many calling him Ellion Bravethorn or Ellion Sharkbane.
"Taria Snow and Balon Pyke, with the consent of Lady Asha Greyjoy, if you accept will now be known as Greyjoys. You came to the defense of your blood in this battle and proved yourselves true Ironborn. You have earned true names." Asha and Theon both smiled at Taria, beaming with pride at the young Greyjoys. Balon, Victarion's bastard, a tall and broadly built youth with lightly tanned skin clapped Taria on the back and hooted in joy as the Reavers raised axes in a rowdy cheer.
"Ser Mychel Arryn, the Black Falcon. At your Lord Father's consent, you will be offered recognition as part of the newly formed Knights Herald, under the purview of the Lord Hand Tyrion Lannister. You will be asked to carry our words to foreign courts, to protect our delegations, and to lead men in battle if need be. The time has come for men who are both diplomats and warriors and you have proved yourself in this regard."
"Ser Artys Grafton, your valor has earned you a promotion to Knight-Lieutenant of the Winged Knights, in command of your own squad of knights and a position at court." Despite Mychel's odd reputation, the Knights of the Vale cheered their future lord loudly and proudly and many Winged Knights near Artys clapped him on the back in congratulations.
"Ser Merebelle Gray, in recognition of your bravery, I have decided to offer you a position at court as a sworn sword and bard. You will defend the Red Keep and inspire us with your song and speech as you did in the field today. My husband will also begin the construction of a Bard's College here in King's Landing, a monument to the musical culture and legacy of the Seven Kingdoms where aspiring musicians will learn to hone their trade. The Greys have been known as accomplished minstrels for generations and your house will be honored in the college's dedication."
"Lady Mable Frey and Jenn Rivers. You both came to my families defense and proved yourself true warriors. You will be given honor as anointed knights and I pledge to welcome you to my home for as long as I live. Lord Steffon I have arranged a marriage between yourself and Lord Edmure's daughter Minisa as a reward for your loyal service. The Freys have proven themselves friends of the realm today." The cheers for this proclamation were more halfhearted from most of the room but the Freys present in the throne room cheered this news loudly enough for a whole tourney audience.
"Tom Lannister and Petyr Hill will henceforth also be known as anointed knights for their courageous deeds. They have proven themselves knights of the West. You will take your vows immediately." The Westermen all cheered, calling out "Pup! Pup! Pup!" to Petyr's chagrin, though he also smiled proudly at the announcement while clapping Tom on the back. The Lannisters all hailed Tom as the Young Lion and he traded proud gazes with Jaime and Tyrion.
"Seran of Lys, I offer you a position in court for your willingness to come to our defense. You will never want for shelter or food and you will always have a place in our home."
"Ser Aerion Goldfyre. It has come to my attention that yours is the blood of the dragon. We are kin. And you have proven yourself a loyal friend of the realm. For your service, I shall name you a Knight of the newly formed Order of the Dragon. This order will be made up of knights with Valyrian blood in their veins and will be one of the realm's principal defenses against its enemies. The entire Band of Nine will be forever known as friends of the realm and will always be welcomed in my hall. Lady Cerenna, my Maesters are working tirelessly using revolutionary healing arts to give your brother back the use of his leg. They will work day and night until he can once again stand. Tell him that his sacrifice has earned a great reward. House Lannister will relinquish it's temporary garrison and House Lefford will once again be known as Lords of the Golden Tooth."
After the honors had been bestowed, Jon spoke up to decree matters of more grave importance, "It has come to my attention that this attack was perpetrated by none other than the upstart Pirate King of the Stepstones." The announcement was met with shouts of disbelief and fury, the knights of the realm eager to avenge the attack. Jon called for order and continued, "We have been at peace for 25 years but now the time has come to raise our swords again. We shall also finally stamp out the various other rebels that plague our realm. As soon as possible, all fleets and armies from all houses will mobilize and stand ready. A force led by Ser Gendry, ten thousand men, made up of Storm Knights, Rose Knights, and Dornishmen will march on Hellgate Hall immediately to capture or kill the Vulture King. Ser Garlan Tyrell and Lord Dickon Tarly will be his seconds. Ser Aegon Targaryen will accompany the force on Viserion. It shall depart as soon as possible. All knights who wish to volunteer for this campaign shall approach Ser Gendry."
"Lord Robin, Ser Harry. Upon your return to the Vale, I want you to prepare your defenses should the Mountain Clans attack and to ready your men to strike back. We just received word of a failed raid on Gulltown. Dozens of smallfolk put to the sword before the Graftons turned them back. I want the raiders to be found and made an example of. We shall try to negotiate with the Mountain King but prepare yourselves for battle."
"Lastly, a fleet will sail to the Stepstones. Lord Davos will have the command of the fleet. I shall commit the Targaryen and Velaryon armies along with the Night Riders and the Mother's Legion to the campaign. Any and all warriors who wish to join the effort will present themselves to Lord Davos. Otherwise, orders will be sent to mobilize all levies and fleets and await further instruction. Dark days are fast approaching my lords and we must be ready. That is all. Get what rest you can for on the morrow, the realm goes to war."
The gathered audience began to exit, excitedly chattering about the recent events. All save our heroes, particularly Aerion, the Band of Nine, Rhaegar, Petyr, Malrik, Miri, Taria, Arak, Jenn, Mable, Ellion, Artys, Mychel, Rickard, Steffon, Jenn, and Seran, who were each singled out by servants and asked to present themselves to different officials.
Tower of the Hand
Mycel and Artys were asked to the Tower of the Hand. Tyrion was there and he smiled at the youths before speaking, "I asked you both here today on a mission of great importance to your homeland. On Jon's direction, I will attempt to negotiate with the hill tribes, in order to bring them into the realm once and for all as vassals to the Vale. I have some experience myself with the clans, as do you Mychel. We shall go there as part of a royal delegation to meet with the Mountain King. It will be dangerous as many in the tribes want the hostilities to continue, but if we succeed we may stave future bloodshed. If you accept, we shall leave by the end of the week. The mission will take a few weeks at the most. Succeed and we will be heroes. What say you?"
Jon and Daenerys were sitting behind a large desk and greeted the rest of the invited personages. Refreshments and seating were found by servants who left the room before the King and Queen began.
"You all distinguished yourselves as true friends of the realm and as such we have decided to approach you with a few tasks we would ask of you. The realm is facing dark days and we will act to swiftly end these threats to the realm as they appear. For that we would like the help of skilled adventurers such as yourselves. Succeed and you shall be given awards and honors, but you must swear your confidence and discretion along with your loyalty." They waited for said oaths before continuing.
Jon said, "Some of you were already selected for a mission in the Stepstones, the rest of you here now were invited because of the loyalty and skill you have demonstrated. At the same time, we may need the assistance of skilled warriors in the Vulture Campaign or in a diplomatic mission being headed by Tyrion Lannister. Mychel Arryn and Artys Grafton have already been approached for that particular assignment but the rest of you will have more flexibility. That mission will take them to the Vale to negotiate with the Hill Tribes while the rest of you shall embark to either the Stepstones or the Red Mountains to deal with the rebels."
"If you wish to accompany Tyrion, please present yourselves to him immediately after this meeting. And I wish for skilled battle commanders and warriors to accompany the army into the Red Mountains. You will depart within a few days by ship, make landfall at Wyl and rendezvous with the army at large in Blackhaven before marching on Hellgate Hell. This assignment is particularly dangerous as the guerrilla fighters will be resisting the march at every mile. The rest of you will accompany Aemon and Visenya to the Stepstones to help deal with the rebels. You will need to fight, but we may also have need of skilled negotiators and spies, as well as people who know the land."
"If you wish to accompany the army you will go before Gendry to learn more. The rest of you will see Arya who will explain the mission in the Stepstones in further detail. These missions will be leave by the end of the week, you have until then to choose and prepare. Upon your successful returns, you will all be rewarded greatly. If any of you have questions or wish to declare your intentions, or have recommendations for other operatives we can recruit for these missions, please proceed."
Jon waited for anyone to speak up.