The Blackfyre Rebellion

The Blackfyre Rebellion: An Extended History

The following document is supplementary to the broader lore document; ROIAF: The Bitterness of Spring. It details the alliances, battles and victories of the Blackfyre Rebellion. For the purposes of inclusivity, OOC leads and individuals wishing to play knights from this period of time will be invited to incorporate their own stories into this history.

 


 

Alliances*

House Targaryen

House Blackfyre

House Arryn

House Bracken

House Baratheon

House Reyne

House Lannister

House Sunderland

House Martell

House Yronwood

House Tyrell

House Osgrey

House Tully

House Strickland

House Webber

House Peake

  House Manwoody

Supporters of both sides:

House Hightower, House Oakheart, House Tarbeck

* OOC leads wishing to have their houses added to either list are welcome to do so, provided it makes sense. 


The Outbreak

 

The fragility of Maelys’ reign was the summation of his father’s weaknesses and his own. Rhaegel’s firstborn son was not a natural warrior nor a man of commanding presence. He was, by his very nature, a scholar -- to the extent that both foe and friend named him ‘Maester Maelys’. That his father chose to acknowledge and then legitimize his bastard twin sons, Balerion and Aemon Waters, only further undermined Maelys’ grasp upon the Seven Kingdoms. Balerion especially, grew to be a scion of House Targaryen and when his father bestowed upon him, the blade of Kings, the whispers of his right to the Iron Throne were not easily ignored.

For his part, Balerion was certainly not ignorant to any of the furore surrounding himself and his brother. He was known to revel in his new position and acquisitions, his growing ambition plain to see-- but such is the nature of power; the mere taste of it leaves a man craving more.

To his credit, Balerion was careful and clever in his diplomacy. Naturally charismatic and a compelling warrior, he did not struggle to attract the loyalty of the realm’s greatest knights and warriors. In the years following his father’s death it became obvious that Balerion’s enigmatic presence garnered more than martial might and his popularity spread into the political spheres of court. Notable amongst those circles were Sers Alester Osgrey, Edwyn Peake, Herbert Bracken and Rupert Reyne. It was to be the former who reputedly encouraged the Blackfyre’s ambitions most voraciously and worked to secure political alliances for the Black Dragon. Under the wing of Ser Alester, Balerion gained the ear of many an influential lord.

Maelys was not ignorant to his half-brother’s growing popularity and moved to shore up his own alliances. There were spies in both camps, however, and by the time news reached Maelys that Balerion was plotting to challenge him for the throne, the Blackfyre brothers and their allies were already gone.  Smuggled out of King’s Landing by the King’s own Master-at-Arms; Ser Gerold Costayne.

It was upon the fields of the Reach, where Balerion would first raise his banner of a black dragon on a red field, his brother Aemon by his side. In doing so, he cleaved the realm in two; thus sealing the fate of House Targaryen and Blackfyre both.

First Stage of the Offensive

The first clash of blades sounded at the Crossing of the Mander. Ser Gerold Costayne led the Blackfyre forces in a resounding victory against the hastily mustered forces of House Caswell before pushing onwards towards the West. Despite Balerion’s foothold in the Reach, his progress would not be without hindrance nor without controversy.

To this day, men quarrel in dark corners over who is responsible for the Black Blight’ which had lain so much of the Reach to ruin. What little is known has been repeated in whispers across the Seven Kingdoms, for on that day, the Reach was consumed by the emerald flames of Wildfire. Families, fields and fortunes  burned to ash in the space of a single day. The screams deafening the ears of those  still alive to hear them. More importantly, it cut the much needed supply lines from the Reach to the Targaryen troops and King’s Landing. Upon a field of smoke, the Black Dragon pressed onwards towards the Ocean Road,  meeting little resistance thereafter.

In preparation for Balerion’s turn north into the Westerlands, Lord Reyne began secretly minting the Pretender’s own coinage -- seeing that it was dispersed throughout the Southron Kingdoms. Maelys’ brother and Commander of the Targaryen forces, Prince Maegor, would declare this to be rebel’s gold. The mark of a traitor if found in a man’s pockets. Long after battles were fought and won, these coins would be used to identify those still loyal to the Blackfyre cause as sympathisers were known to harbour them in wait of Aemon’s return.

When Ser Gerold crossed into the Westerlands, his armies enjoyed their next victory against the Lannister forces at Lannisport. It is said that the Blackfyre forces met little to no resistance until they knocked upon the very gates of the city itself. They overwhelmed the Lion’s armies, cutting down Lord Lefford and sending them scrambling back over their hill to the safety of Casterly Rock. All around them, the Lannister’s loyal bannermen were turning a blind eye to the progression of the Pretender’s armies. When Lord Lannister did ride out to meet Ser Gerold in open combat, he found himself face to face with his own vassal. With Lord Tarbeck at his side, it was Rupert Reyne who claimed another crushing victory for his Blackfyre friends, paving the way for Balerion Blackfyre’s progression into the Riverlands.

Second Stage of the Offensive

With both the Reach and the Westerlands secured, Balerion turned his attention upon the Riverlands. Lord Herbert Bracken assured Balerion that the Riverlands would heed his call the moment his banner was raised over the Golden Tooth and the pass between the Westerlands and the Riverlands was secured. What Lord Bracken did not account for was the steely, stubborn determination of his own liege lord to stand in the way.

Lord Tully was enraged at the presumption of the Blackfyre brothers and was himself, a fierce Targaryen loyalist. Despite his advancing age, he took up arms and led the charge against the Black Dragon -- calling upon his loyal vassals to do the same. Only, when the Rivermen mustered at Pinkmaiden; they found just as many of their bannermen standing rank and file with Ser Gerold and his Blackfyre armies as their own. The standards of House Bracken, House Frey, House Grey, House Heddle, House Nayland, House Paege, and House Shawney were seen that day, none of them standing with their liege lord. The Treason at Red Fork was a devastating blow to the Tullys but served to distinguish friend from foe. The Lord of Riverrun was said to have sworn his vengeance upon his traitorous bannermen when he heard word of the massacre at Pinkmaiden.

Balerion’s rape of the Riverlands would prove to be his bloodiest campaign yet. Despite the treachery of his bannermen, Lord Tully doggedly refused to retreat and allow the Blackfyre forces easy passage through to the Kingsroad. However, successful campaigns in the Reach and then the Westerlands meant that Blackfyre forces far outnumbered what remained of Riverrun and her allies. Lord Tully and his sons were forcibly pushed back to their keep and the Siege of Riverrun began.

The Tullys held out for three nights before the banners of House Blackwood were spotted on the horizon. At the head of their host was a raven-helmed knight whose identity has become the thing of legends. The Raven Knight led his men in their charge against the Blackfyre hordes and it was his blade which cracked open the skull of Ser Gerold Costayne before mortally wounding Lord Herbert Bracken. Deprived of his Commanders, Balerion was forced to order a retreat but would not concede a defeat. He and his brother pressed onwards to Harrenhal, where the knights of House Lothston were already mustering their support. Lord Tully might not have succeeded in halting the progression of Balerion Blackfyre but he dealt the Black Dragon his first notable blow. A minor victory won at great cost, for the Riverlands was left fractured and tattered as a result of Lord Tully’s stoic resistance.

Defiance in Dorne

Whilst Balerion was busy forging his path towards King’s Landing his allies in House Yronwood were taking ample advantage of their opportunity to oust old enemies in House Martell.

The growing antipathy towards the Dornish presence at court helped turn many against Maelys and House Targaryen. The marriage of Maelys’ brother, Maegor, to Princess Aliandra of House Martell proved a catalyst for increased Dornish influence in the capitol and many a Reach- and Stormlander were left to look on with barely contained scorn. It was a brewing antagonism which Yorick Yronwood was quick to play upon.

With eyes turned northwards to the Riverlands, Ser Yorick engaged the services of Tyroshi sellswords and had his son sail out to meet them -- the intention being that they would eventually join Balerion in his final march upon King’s Landing. In the meantime, Yorick and his allies would close off the Boneway and keep the Martells from joining up with the Crown’s troops. It was a clever ploy to keep the Crown weak and deprived of its valuable allies. Ser Yorick might well have succeeded, had the Stormlands not surprised everyone and mustered its banners in support of Maelys and House Targaryen. What followed, was the bitter and bloody Battle of the Boneway in which the Marcher Lords mustered themselves against the Yronwoods, pushing them back into a retreat; allowing the Martells to pass. It was not soon enough. They arrived late, only after the fields of the Crownlands were already soaked with blood.  

Tales of the Boneway are not oft spoken by those who wish to keep polite company. Rumours of massacres, rape and wanton pillaging at the hands of the Stormlanders have plagued many of the Marcher lords and often ignite old feuds between the Bloodroyals and their northern neighbours.

The Final Battle

It is said that it was the Gods who chose the victors on the day that King and Pretender finally rode out to meet one another in battle. In truth, it was little more than luck or the lack thereof, which would see Balerion Blackfyre’s campaign come to its bitter resolution.

Summer’s last great storm came to the shores of Westeros and left its fields sodden and its coasts battered. Yorick Yronwood’s son and his Tyroshi sellswords were sunk off of Dragonstone and further reinforcement from the Reach were slowed by muddy, impassable roads. By the time the Black and Red Dragons met upon a field in the Crownlands, Maelys and Maegor II had mustered their own allies in defense of King’s Landing. They faced the Blackfyre brothers with equal might; for Lord Arryn and his knights of the Vale rode out with them.

Caked in blood and mud, the Crownlands would bear witness to one of the most brutal battles in living memory. Some 10,000 men would die that day, all in the name of one man’s ambition and another’s blood right. Vast armies were laid to waste; rivers of blood flowing through a field of shattered spears and broken bones. A field where men had once stood. At the center of it all was the fabled meeting of King Maelys the Maester and Balerion Blackfyre, the Pretender.

Not a natural warrior by any means, it is said that Maelys had prayed to the Warrior for the guidance of his forefathers. Alas, there was no spirit which could shield the scholarly King from the swing of his half-brother’s ancient blade. Balerion ran the King through before collapsing upon a field of shattered spears, bone and blood -- the Blackfyre convinced that he had won his father’s crown. It was in that moment, that Prince Maegor II laced his arrow in Wildfire and loosed it upon the would-be King; catching Balerion’s cloak alight. The Blackfyre’s screams silenced the field; his twin brother looking on in horror as Balerion was burned alive. Skin and flesh were melted from the Black Dragon’s bones until he was little more than a smoldering corpse. Just like that, the Targaryens had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat but Aemon was blind to his brother’s defeat. He fought through the crowds to claim his brother’s blade and stepped through the smoke to gather what men he could, leading them in one final charge.

Alas, Aemon’s muster was meek.

Whilst his knights were cut down around him, the last Blackfyre pressed onwards to take up his blade against the man who had dealt his brother that fatal blow. Those who lived to witness their meeting still speak of it as a battle of such immense might and passion, that the sodden ground shook and shuddered with each clash of Valyrian steel. It is a duel which has been preserved in song; Of Blood and Black Fires.

Drenched in the blood of their kin, Maegor and Aemon were locked in battle until cowardice and treachery tipped the scales in the Targaryen’s favour.

Balerion’s terrible end had struck a deadly blow against the morale of his men and the knights of House Lothston would be the first to fall to self-preservation. As the last of the day’s light seeped from the skies, the knights of Harrenhal would join in the Crown’s march against their flagging opposition. It was enough to spur on the cowardice of other men and it soon became apparent that only the most ardent of allies stood behind Aemon. Knowing that the battle had been lost, Aemon used the cover of darkness to break from his bitter battle with Maegor and fled for the coast.

One by one, Blackfyre sympathisers dropped their blades and bent their knees to Maegor II. The new King’s council advocated clemency, to heal the wounds of the Rebellion. Maegor II was largely inclined to grant it, but the heads of several prominent knights still adorned the walls of the Red Keep for months after and every house which had sided with the Blackfyre Pretenders would give a hostage to the crown.

A reminder to all who would challenge the reign of House Targaryen but one which rang hollow with the first howl of Winter’s winds.