Essos, The Free Cities and the Summer Isles
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Across the Narrow Sea, lies another world but one not entirely removed from Westerosi politics. It is a world in which a Merchant’s daughter can become Queen and where exiled Pretenders might take refuge and build their armies. Now that Spring has sprung, the exotic lords, ladies, merchants and sailors of the Free Cities and beyond are once more commonplace in the court of Maegor II. One thing is certain; they have not come without cause…
Essos and the Free Cities
The death of the ‘Last Dragon’ was a shift in fortune felt throughout Westeros and across the distance of the Narrow Sea - in the Free Cities and Essos beyond them. Keen eyes and ambitious minds were drawn to rumours that the beast’s death heralded something far more disastrous; the downfall of House Targaryen itself. Business and politics continued much as it always had but never did those eyes blink or those minds sleep, in their careful watch over the Westerosi shoreline.
In the year 190 AC, that careful, cautious study of the Western shoreline would be brought much closer to home. The Targaryen King sought a bride for his eldest son and heir, Maelys. Rhaegel Targaryen had grown weak and sickly long before his time and was said to fear for the inheritance and future of his bloodline, having already acknowledged and doted upon his bastard sons; Balerion and Aemon Waters. His envoys would arrive in the city of Tyrosh, eager to forge a powerful alliance to secure his legitimate bloodline as well.
Alas, Rhaegel would die before any such alliance could be finalized and the revelations of his Will and Word - in which he legitimizes his bastard sons - would see turmoil erupt on both sides of the Narrow Sea.
On the advice of his younger brother, Maelys spurns the eager Tyroshi and instead takes Haera of Myr as his bride.
The Archon of Tyrosh decries this decision and openly refers to the King’s decision as a slight against the Free City of Tyrosh. Meanwhile, old enmities between Tyrosh and Myr ignite and typify the decade or so which followed. Various other cities would be drawn into their bitter dispute and tensions reach their peak with evidence of flourishing trade between Myr and Westeros.
Prosperity is short-lived, however, as the announcement of Haera’s pregnancy is quickly followed by accusations of infidelity, scandal and exile. Although never tried for infidelity and treason, Haera is cast out and exiled to Summerhall - her daughter declared a bastard. The Queen’s rather public downfall paths the way for other cities to step in and take advantage of Myr’s loss. The alliances made and trade links secured during this time invariably impact upon the Free Cities participation during the Blackfyre Rebellion and indeed, after its bloody conclusion.
Only Tyrosh would opt to take an active role in the Rebellion itself; sending sellswords to join House Yronwood in the Blackfyre battle against the crown. The sea would claim them, however, and the battle would be lost. Rumours and sightings of Aemon Blackfyre and his infamous Golden Company on the shores of Tyrosh have never been substantiated but are frequent enough to be believed by many.
Tyrosh would not be alone in their interest in Westerosi politics, but others were far more subtle in their efforts. In the midst of a terrible Winter, the Iron Bank of Braavos would entertain the overtures of Maegor’s envoy and grant the Iron Throne the funds they asked for. It would not spare the continent its pain but it would place the crown firmly in the Bank’s debt. With rumours of Aemon Blackfyre’s similar overtures to the bank, there are some who suspect that the Iron Bank has taken measures to ensure their success no matter the outcome of Winter and War.
They would not be alone in their pragmatism as several cities and their merchants re-direct trade away from a beleaguered and plague-ridden King’s Landing to various other ports; Oldtown, Gulltown and White Harbor chief amongst them. Lys capitalizes upon the Baratheon’s desperation and reaps the profits from keeping the Stormlander’s fed throughout Winter and long after the ice had thawed.
When news of the Great Tourney to be held at Tumbleton reaches the Free Cities, merchants, ambassadors, and nobles alike start to make their plans for travel. Spring has sprung and the opportunities for wealth and power and influence seem endless. Rumours of a dragon’s egg and the King’s attendance only serve to heighten their interest. With the Dragon's blood seemingly crippled, and fading fast, will the inhabitants of the Free Cities come to their aid, or seek to see their end once and for all?
The Summer Isles
Traditionally peaceful, the Summer Isles continue much as they always have in the years and decades since the death of the ‘Last Dragon’. Indeed, the Isles and their merchants seem to prosper in the lean years of Winter, with many of their ships finding port and purchase along the Southern coastlines of Westeros.
The Isles are not without their own conflicts - increased profits and plentiful trade inspiring more than one rival to take up arms and challenge the rule Prince or Princess for their lands. However, the nature of conflict and war upon the Summer Isles means that many outsiders are more or less ignorant to them. Defeated Prince and Princesses are simply exiled and their lands taken - a rival’s victory bringing none of the destruction associated with war in Westeros.
However, with the rise of a new Corsair King on the Basilisk Isles, this relative peace has been threatened. Raids are occurring with increasing frequency and there are rumours of whole villages being captured and sold into slavery.
For more information on the Summer Islands, Essos, and the Free Cities, visit their forums here.