The tragic loss of his wife, Rhaenys, plunged Corlys Velaryon into profound sorrow. Despite the Blacks enjoying broader support across various regions in Westeros, their geographical distance from the conflict zone hindered prompt action. Growing increasingly apprehensive about the safety of her children, Rhaenyra decided to send her daughter Rhaena and her son Joffrey to the domain of House Arryn, accompanied by Cyraxes and three dragon eggs. Aegon and Viserys were also dispatched to Pentos alongside Stormcloud and a dragon egg. With the younger ones relocated, Jacaerys assumed a momentous responsibility.
Jacaerys presented a proposition that held the potential to alter the course of the war. He suggested that they should seek individuals capable of riding the dragons in their possession. Many hopefuls from different corners of Westeros flocked to claim the promised reward, aspiring to become dragon riders. Regrettably, the majority either failed the test or met a fiery demise at the jaws of the dragons.
In the end, only four individuals managed to emerge victorious from this trial. Hugh Hammer attained the esteemed role as the rider of Vermithor, while Ulf the White became the bonded partner of Silverwing. Addam of Hall found himself the owner of Seasmoke, while Nettles forged a deep connection with Sheepstealer. Speculations arose that Addam and Alyn might be the illegitimate offspring of Laenor Velaryon, yet their resemblance leaned more towards Corlys Velaryon. The Blacks nurtured the hope that these newly anointed dragon riders would decisively alter the course of the war, but their aspirations failed to materialize as envisioned.
In fulfillment of their pledge, the Triarchy dispatched their formidable fleet of 90 ships, thus commencing the Battle of the Gullet. Along their journey, they chanced upon Stormcloud en route to Pentos and managed to seize Viserys as a captive. However, Aegon narrowly evaded capture, making a daring escape aboard the wounded Stormcloud. Tragically, Stormcloud returned to Dragonstone carrying Aegon, only to succumb to its injuries and perish. Subsequently, the Triarchy’s forces launched an assault on the Velaryon fleet stationed in the Gullet.
The newly anointed dragon riders lacked the seasoned expertise required for aerial combat, leaving the Blacks vulnerable to substantial losses. This fateful clash witnessed the demise of Jacaerys. Additionally, the Velaryon fleet achieved a remarkable feat by sinking 62 out of the 90 incoming enemy ships. The remaining vessels pressed on to assail Driftmark, inflicting a significant blow to House Velaryon’s wealth and resources.
Upon concluding their campaign with the capture of Viserys, a valuable hostage, and a trove of spoils, the Triarchy returned to the Three Daughters. Nonetheless, their navy was deemed unsuccessful due to the considerable number of ships lost, thereby instigating a civil war within their ranks. Although the Greens initially perceived the Battle of the Gullet as a triumph, it eventually became apparent that it was, in fact, a victory for the Blacks. The Greens, weakened by the ensuing civil war in Essos that had engulfed the Triarchy, found themselves unable to wrest control of the Narrow Sea from the Velaryons.
The War Is Growing
Rhaenyra faced her own share of difficulties as the families aligning themselves with the Blacks suffered significant losses with the untimely demise of yet another son. Following their triumph in the Battle of the Honeywine against Ormund Hightower and the Green armies, the Blacks found themselves targeted by Daeron Targaryen and his dragon, Tessarion. Concurrently, Criston Cole and Aemond launched an assault on Harrenhal, anticipating a confrontation with Daemon. However, their aspirations were dashed when they discovered the castle vacant, as Daemon Targaryen was in Maidanpool, engaging in a clandestine affair with Nettles.
In a strategic move, the Greens, under the leadership of House Lannister, initiated an offensive against the Riverlands. Although they initially secured victory in two battles, their advance was repeatedly hindered by a formidable resurgence of the Blacks in the region. Consequently, they suffered defeat in subsequent encounters. However, a turning point in the conflict within the Riverlands emerged when Roderick Dustin and his Northern army arrived. With a force numbering two thousand, Roderick Dustin decisively crushed the Lannister forces. Despite heavy losses incurred by both sides, the Greens were expelled from the Riverlands. Concurrently, the Greyjoys, keen on leveraging the Blacks’ vulnerability, declared their allegiance to Rhaenyra and launched an attack on the Westerlands. Notably, the capture of numerous strategic locations culminated in the Greyjoys’ most significant acquisition, Lannis Port.
Rhaenyra, still engulfed in sorrow over the loss of her children, reaches a decisive turning point as she resolves to take matters into her own hands, embarking on a daring venture alongside her husband to seize King’s Landing astride their formidable dragons. Remarkably, they triumph in their audacious endeavor, ultimately securing Rhaenyra’s long-awaited ascension to the coveted Iron Throne. The weight of Rhaenyra’s successful usurpation causes the ranks of the Greens to fracture, scattering them in disarray. King Aegon II, with the aid of Larys Strong, manages to escape the clutches of the city, while Jaehaera finds refuge in the Stormlands under the protection of Ser Willis Fell. Tragically, however, Ser Rickard Thorne and Maelor meet their untimely demise in a ruthless assault by unknown assailants during their journey toward the Reach.
Grief-stricken by the fall of King’s Landing, Queen Helaena, wife of Aegon II, succumbs to an inconsolable despair and hurls herself from a window, succumbing to the depths of anguish. Meanwhile, Alicent Hightower, a central figure among the Greens, faces the grim reality of imprisonment, while her forebears, Otto Hightower, and Jasper Wylde, face a harsher fate, meeting their ultimate demise through execution. The merciless grip of torture tightens its hold on Tyland Lannister.
Alicent, confined in her imprisonment, finds solace in casting curses upon her ill-fated daughter Helaena’s tragic demise. Nevertheless, she eventually seeks a conciliatory resolution with Rhaenyra, recognizing the futility of their strife. However, Rhaenyra, unyielding in her resolve, refuses such overtures, asserting that her adversary’s progeny would have enjoyed a tranquil existence had they not brazenly deprived her of her rightful claim to the throne.
Meanwhile, amidst the chaotic landscape of Harrenhal, Aemond takes flight astride his mighty dragon, leaving the formidable stronghold in his wake. Simultaneously, Criston Cole, leading his valiant army, embarks on a determined descent toward Reach. However, the forces of Reach stand resolute, vehemently opposing the advance of Cole’s troops. During the climactic clash at Butcher’s Ball, Criston Cole meets his untimely demise, his life extinguished in the heat of the great battle.
In parallel, Ormond Hightower leads his forces toward the seat of power in King’s Landing, achieving resounding triumphs along the arduous journey. The presence of Daeron Targaryen and his formidable dragon, Tessarion, significantly contributes to their victories. However, the tides turn when the victorious armies of the Riverlands launch a fierce counterattack against Ormond Hightower’s troops. In this pivotal confrontation, the Blacks secure their most decisive triumph against their Green adversaries. Nevertheless, the treacherous acts of Hugh Hammer and Ulf the White, who betray their former allies, lead to a devastating assault by their dragons, Vermithor and Silverwing, upon the armies of the Riverlands. Yet, the Blacks do not suffer an unequivocal defeat, as the Northern forces succeed in slaying Ormond Hightower.
Though Hugh Hammer and Ulf the White may have aided the Greens, the latter remain convinced that these two individuals are beholden to none but themselves. Upon learning of their betrayal, Rhaenyra, determined to hold them accountable, seeks the arrest of Addam Velaryon and Nettles. However, Addam manages to evade capture with the assistance of Corlys Velaryon, thereby forsaking Rhaenyra’s cause. In this turbulent turn of events, Corlys abandons his allegiance to Rhaenyra. Concurrently, Daemon Targaryen, clandestinely involved in a romantic liaison with Nettles, ensures her safe departure from the turmoil that ensues.
Upon safely securing Nettles in an undisclosed location, Daemon Targaryen takes it upon himself to send a resounding message to all corners of Westeros, declaring his anticipation of a confrontation with Aemond at the formidable fortress of Harrenhal. Embracing the summons, Aemond willingly ventures to Harrenhal astride his majestic dragon, Vhagar. The ensuing clash between Caraxes and Vhagar, which erupts with titanic force at the sacred site known as God’s Eye, etches itself into the annals of legend. In a battle marked by unyielding ferocity, the two dragons entwine in a cataclysmic struggle that inexorably propels them toward their fateful descent. Yet, driven by an unrelenting determination to vanquish his adversary, Daemon brandishes his sword, Dark Sister, abandoning the safety of his own dragon to leap onto Aemond, plunging his weapon deep into the very eye that granted Aemond sight.
Amidst the wreckage of this epic clash, the lifeless forms of Caraxes, Vhagar, and Aemond are discovered, entwined in a macabre tableau. However, the remains of Daemon defy discovery, lending credence to the whispers that he miraculously survived. In the aftermath of this harrowing event, Daemon is said to have spent the remainder of his days in the company of Nettles, their lives forever intertwined in a bond forged amidst the tumult of their shared destiny.
Rhaenyra, plagued by uncertainty and indecision, is dealt a devastating blow from Dragonstone. Larys Strong, in a treacherous act, transports Aegon II to the fortress atop Dragonstone astride the mighty Sunfyre. Seizing the opportunity presented by those present at the time, willing to betray Rhaenyra, a rebellion ensues within the walls of Dragonstone. Even through Baela Targaryen’s valiant assault with her dragon, Moondancer, the life of Moondancer is extinguished by the fiery breath of Sunfyre. Baela herself is taken captive, further adding to Rhaenyra’s mounting troubles. Aegon II, once again managing to survive the throes of war, now finds himself grievously injured, his legs broken. Yet Rhaenyra, unaware of the tumult unfolding on Dragonstone, remains oblivious to these dire events.
The state of affairs in Westeros and within the walls of King’s Landing fares no better. Ser Perkin, a man who proclaims Trystane Truefyre to be the illegitimate son of Viserys I and rightful heir to the Iron Throne, garners a following of like-minded individuals willing to fight for his cause.
Simultaneously, a figure known as Shepard, driven by the atrocities committed and the belief that dragons must meet their end, embarks upon a mission to slay the mighty beasts within the confines of the Dragonpit. Rallying those who share his convictions, Shepard leads his followers to the Dragonpit in a bid to vanquish the dragons. Witnessing this uprising, Joffrey, defying his mother’s instructions, seeks to quell the rebellion by mounting his mother’s dragon, Syrax. However, Syrax, unaware of her new rider, cruelly casts Joffrey from her back in mid-air. Alarmed by the grave turn of events, Rhaenyra dispatches seven knights into the city to search for her son, yet tragically, four of them meet their demise in the process.
The seething mob led by Shepard breaches the Dragonpit, slaying Shrykos, Morghul, Tyraxes, Dreamfyre, and Syrax, though many among their ranks meet their own fiery demise at the hands of the dragons. The once majestic Dragonpit, a symbol of grandeur and power, crumbles in the wake of the destruction, assuming the visage immortalized in the annals of the “Game of Thrones” series.
Death of the Bastards
Rhaenyra, under the belief that Aegon is her sole surviving child, departs King’s Landing. The fate of Viserys held captive in Essos, remains shrouded in uncertainty. Meanwhile, in The Reach, despite Hobert Hightower’s desire to press forward alongside Daeron Targaryen, their advance is impeded by the self-serving actions of Hugh Hammer and Ulf the White. These ambitious bastards present a formidable challenge with their audacious demands. Ulf seeks to claim Highgarden as his own, while Hugh Hammer brazenly asserts his right to rule over the entirety of Westeros.
Recognizing the impossibility of acceding to such demands, a group of influential lords quietly conspires to eliminate the duo. However, their plans are abruptly interrupted as Addam Velaryon emerges onto the scene astride his dragon, launching a bold assault. Determined to avoid the label of the traitor, Addam Velaryon valiantly confronts Hugh and Ulf in a heroic battle. Tragically, all three dragons meet their demise in the ensuing clash. The toll of this conflict is high, claiming the lives of numerous influential lords, including Daeron Targaryen himself. Consequently, Alicent’s sole surviving child becomes the crippled Aegon II.
Hugh Hammer meets his demise at the hands of Ser Jan Roxton, while Ulf the White falls victim to poison administered by Hobert Hightower. Hobert, seeking to allay Ulf’s suspicions, offers him the poisoned wine, but upon witnessing Ulf’s hesitation, Hobert makes the ultimate sacrifice by consuming the deadly beverage himself, instilling the necessary confidence in Ulf to partake. In this act of selflessness, both Hobert and Ulf meet their fates.
Amidst the widespread turmoil engulfing the entirety of Westeros, Rhaenyra, consumed by despair and unable to endure the unfolding events, embarks on a journey to Dragonstone accompanied by her son Aegon. Though whispers of support from the Manderlys in the North offer a glimmer of hope, Rhaenyra is tragically destined for her own demise. Upon arriving at Dragonstone, she discovers that the stronghold has fallen into the clutches of Aegon II. Seizing mother and child, the crippled Aegon cruelly immolates Rhaenyra with the scorching flames of his dragon, Sunfyre. Yet, even Sunfyre, bearing grievous wounds, is now poised at death’s threshold, succumbing shortly thereafter.
Upon his return to King’s Landing, Aegon II is met with a city in the throes of a formidable rebellion. Tristane Truefyre stakes his claim to the throne, while Shepard leads a marauding horde through the streets. Meanwhile, Essie and her son Gaemon Dalehair emerge, asserting their own rights to the throne. However, these three factions are swiftly dispersed by the forces under Borros Baratheon, who arrives in the city, and all those who lay claim to power are systematically executed. Only Gaemon is spared; instead, his mother, Essie, meets her fateful end at the hands of justice.
Despite Aegon II’s ascension to the throne, he witnesses the disintegration of Westeros unfolding before his very eyes. To compound matters, his supporters are limited solely to the Stormlands, with all others aligning themselves with the Black faction or maintaining a stance of neutrality. The decisive blow that will ultimately bring an end to the war emanates from the northern reaches. Cregan Stark descends upon the realm with his formidable host of 20,000 troops. Despite the opposition posed by the Baratheon forces, the outcome tilts in favor of the Blacks, resulting in the demise of Borros and numerous other influential lords.
Left bereft of an army to rally behind him, Aegon II resolutely rejects the notion of surrender with the Black forces closing in from the Riverlands. Even when Corlys Velaryon proffers the option of capitulating to the king and donning the black of the Black faction, Aegon II spurns the offer and instead demands that fragments of Aegon, the last surviving child of his vanquished adversary Rhaenyra, be severed and sent to Cregan. However, in a cruel twist of fate, shortly after making this macabre request, Aegon II succumbs to poisoning and meets his demise within the confines of his chamber.
Corlys Velaryon proclaims Aegon III as king, when no viable contenders remain. Deluded by the belief that such an act would quell the approaching northern army, Corlys finds himself mistaken. Cregan Stark, brimming with fury and unwilling to return empty-handed, assumes the position of Aegon III’s Hand and fervently schemes to hunt down those who betrayed Rhaenyra. Exhibiting an unwavering resolve, Cregan metes out severe punishment for acts of treason, including the sentencing of Corlys Velaryon to death. However, when he encounters Alysanne Blackwood, a profound change sweeps over Cregan, stemming from their romantic liaison. Guided by Alysanne’s sage counsel, Cregan manages to temper his hatred, granting clemency to Corlys Velaryon and opting to consign numerous prisoners to the Wall. Nevertheless, both Gyles Belgrave and Larys Strong would rather embrace death than face banishment to the Wall.
While Cregan extends an offer of freedom to Alicent Hightower, she vehemently refuses to accept Aegon III’s continued reign, even going so far as to instruct her grandson Jaehaera, who had wedded Aegon III, to assassinate him. Consequently, Alicent, who finds herself confined to her chamber, exists consumed by a festering hatred until her dying days, tormenting herself through a self-imposed penance.
Thus concludes the Dance of the Dragons. At the tender age of eleven, Aegon III assumes the throne’s mantle. After a brief tenure of a mere two weeks as Hand of the King, Cregan returns to Winterfell. Numerous villages and castles throughout Westeros lie ravaged, while the Targaryens have suffered the near-total annihilation of their once-mighty dragons. Merely four dragons manage to survive, their existence destined to dwindle further. Silverwing and Cannibal vanish into the annals of obscurity, while Nettles, alongside Sheeptealer, never graces Westeros with her return. Solely Morning, the dragon of Rhaena Targaryen remains as a vestige of a bygone era.
Sources and Further Information
- R. Martin, George. “A Game of Thrones,” Bantam (2002)
- R. Martin, George. “A Clash of Kings,” Bantam (2002)
- R. Martin, George. “A Storm of Swords,” Bantam (2003)
- R. Martin, George. “A Feast for Crows,” Bantam (2011)
- R. Martin, George. “A Dance with Dragons,” Bantam (2011)
- R. Martin, George. “Fire & Blood,” Bantam (2018)
- A Wiki of Ice and Fire
- Wiki of Westeros
- Alt Shift X, YouTube
- Whycreate, YouTube