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King Arrec had half again as many fighters as his foes, but his men were weary from days of marching, confused and dispirited, and their king soon showed himself to be both headstrong and indecisive. When battle was joined, the result was a shattering defeat for the stormlanders. Arrec himself escaped the carnage, but two of his brothers died in the fighting, and the rule of Storm’s End over the lands of the Trident came to a sudden, bloody end.
Across the riverlands, it is said, many smallfolk rejoiced to hear the tidings, whilst their lords, emboldened, rose against the few small garrisons of stormlanders that remained scattered across the region, casting them out or putting them to the sword. The bells at Stoney Sept rang for a day and a night, the chroniclers tell us, and singers and begging brothers went from town to town to proclaim that the men of the Trident were their own masters once again.
These celebrations proved short-lived, however. It has been said, particularly about Stone Hedge, that Lord Lothar Bracken had made common cause with the ironborn in the belief that the Hardhand would make him king once the stormlanders had been expelled, but there is no written evidence that supports this claim. It seems unlikely: Harwyn Hoare was not the sort of man to give away crowns.
Just as Arlan III Durrandon had done three centuries earlier, Harwyn claimed the riverlands for himself. Those riverlords who had fought beside him had done naught but exchange one master for another … and their new master was harsher, crueler, and more exacting than the old one.
Lothar Bracken himself was amongst the first to learn that lesson when he sought to rise against the Hardhand half a year later. Only a few minor lords rallied to his banners, and King Harwyn crushed him utterly, sacking, then slighting Stone Hedge and hanging Lord Bracken from a crow cage for the best part of a year whilst he slowly starved to death.
In later life, King Arrec twice attempted to cross the Blackwater and take back what he had lost, but without success. His eldest son and successor, King Arlan V tried as well, and died in the, attempt.
Harwyn Hardhand would rule the riverlands until his own death (he died abed at the age of sixtyfour, whilst taking carnal pleasure of one of his many salt wives), and his son and grandson would succeed him each in turn, continuing the brutal domination of the ironborn over the peoples of the Trident. Harwyn’s grandson, King Harren the Black, spent most of his life in the riverlands building the gigantic fortress that would bear his name, returning to the Iron Islands only infrequently.
Such was the state of affairs when Aegon the Conqueror came ashore and put an end to Harren and House Hoare. The rule of the ironborn over the riverlands ended in the holocaust that engulfed Harrenhal. Afterward, Aegon named Edmyn Tully of Riverrun, first of the riverlords to declare for the Targaryens, the Lord Paramount of the Trident, reducing the other riverlords to vassals. Kingship he retained for himself; there would be no kings in Westeros but Aegon.
The Tullys of Riverrun were never kings, though the books of lineages will show any number of connections to the dynasties of the past. It may have been these old connections that started House Tully on its path to becoming Lords Paramount of the Trident under Aegon I.
The arms of House Tully (center) and some houses of note, past and present, (clockwise from top): Mallister, Mooton, Darry, Mudd, Piper, Strong, Vance, Bracken, Blackwood, Whent, Lothston, and Frey. (illustration credit 104) Tully names appear in many chronicles and annals of the Trident, back unto the days of the First Men, when the first Edmure Tully and his sons fought beside the Hammer of Justice, Tristifer IV Mudd, in many of his ninety-nine victories. After Tristifer’s death, Ser Edmure went over to the mightiest of the Andal conquerors, Armistead Vance. It was from him that Edmure’s son Axel received a grant of lands at the juncture of the Red Fork and its swift-running vassal the Tumblestone.
There Lord Axel established his seat, in a red castle he named Riverrun.
Placed as it was, Riverrun soon proved to have great strategic value, and the petty kings contending during the age of anarchy soon began to vie for the support of House Tully. Axel and his descendants grew wealthy and powerful, and in time became the bulwark of many a river king, for they defended the Trident’s western marches against the Kingdom of the Rock.
The Tullys were accounted amongst the foremost lords of the riverlands by the time that the Storm Kings won their final war against the last King of the Rivers and Hills. Some noble houses were destroyed in those wars, but most bent the knee to the Storm Kings once the Teagues were dispossessed, and the Tullys were amongst them. Soon Tullys began to appear in prominent offices and trusted positions.
Riverrun weathered the reigns of the Storm Kings and survived the subsequent ironborn conquest largely intact. Other powerful houses of the riverlands were not so fortunate. A decade before Aegon’s Conquest, the Blackwoods and Brackens had entered into a new private war in their ancient feud. Previously their ironborn overlords had largely ignored such conflicts amongst their vassals— indeed, if the Iron Chronicle can be believed, Harwyn Hardhand oft seemed to pit his bannermen against one another to keep them weak.
But this time the feuding disrupted the construction of Harrenhal, and that was enough reason for Harren the Black to deal with them harshly. So it was that, when Aegon the Conqueror marched upon Harrenhal, the Tullys of Riverrun were the most powerful of riverlords still remaining.
The feud of the Blackwoods and Brackens is infamous, and rightly so, for it stretches back thousands of years to before the coming of the Andals. The origins of it are contested and shrouded in legend. The Blackwoods say they were kings and the Brackens little more than petty lords set on betraying and deposing them, while the Brackens say much the same about the Blackwoods. That they were both royal houses on the Trident seems true enough, and none can doubt that their enmity sprang from some cause, so entrenched that it has become legendary. Powerful as they were, they have maintained their feud despite the many kings who have attempted to make a peace between them. Even the Old King, Jaehaerys the Conciliator, failed in his attempt to halt this ceaseless war, for the peace he forged did not long outlast the end of his reign.
Forty years of Black Harren’s rule, which brought penury and the deaths of thousands, had won him no love in the riverlands. Consequently, Aegon’s arrival was heralded by lords great and small flocking to his banner, keen to overthrow their cruel foreign king—and chief amongst them was Edmyn Tully. When Harrenhal burned and Harren the Black’s line was ended, Aegon gave the rule of the riverlands to Lord Edmyn. Some even proposed that Lord Tully be granted dominion over the Iron Islands as well, though that did not come to pass.
Lord Edmyn did much to repair the damage that Harren had left behind him. New ties were forged, as when the new-made Lord Quenton Qoherys—once master-at-arms at Dragonstone, and by then lord of ruined Harrenhal and its sizable lands—took Lord Tully’s daughter to wife. (Though in later years this would prove a troublesome connection, alleviated only by the swift, sad end of House Qoherys).
It was in 7 AC, as well, that Lord Edmyn began his two years as Hand of the King, ending when he resigned the office and returned to Riverrun and his family.
In the years to come, men of House Tully would play a role in many of the chief events of the early Targaryen kings. When King Aenys I guested at Riverrun and Harren the Red slew Gargon the Guest, it was to the Tullys and their bannermen that His Grace turned to try to wrest Harrenhal away from the outlaw king. In later years, the Tullys—together with the Harroways, who at that time ruled Harrenhal—fielded part of the army that surrounded and defeated Prince Aegon and his dragon, Quicksilver, in his war against his uncle, Maegor the Cruel.
The deaths of Prince Aegon and his dragon, Quicksilver. (illustration credit 105) The Lords of Harrenhal Lord Gargon, the second and last Qoherys lord of Harrenhal, was the grandson of Lord Quenton. He was notorious for his appetite for women and became known as the Guest for his habit of attending every wedding within his domains, so that he might take advantage of the lord’s right to the first night. It is no surprise that the father of a maid Lord Gargon deflowered opened a sally port for Harren the Red and his band of outlaws, or that Gargon was gelded before he died. Harrenhal would earn a reputation as cursed in the years that
followed, as many of its ruling houses would meet unhappy ends:
Raised to Harrenhal in the reign of Aenys I, following the death of Gargon Qoherys, Lord Lucas Harroway saw his daughter Alys wed to Maegor. She became one of Maegor’s queens, and he became Hand, until Maegor the Cruel had them and all their line killed.
After destroying House Harroway, King Maegor decreed that the strongest of his knights would have the castle, though not all of its lands. Twenty-three knights of his household fought in the blood-soaked streets of Lord Harroway’s Town for the prize. Ser Walton Towers was the victor and was granted the seat, though he died soon thereafter of his wounds. His line faltered two generations later when the last Lord Towers died without heirs.
Lyonel Strong, famed as a warrior but also a man of great natural gifts who had earned six links in his chain at the Citadel, was granted the lordship in the reign of Jaehaerys I. He served as master of laws, then Hand to Viserys I, while his sons became deeply entangled in the court. He and his heir, Ser Harwin, were killed in a fire that broke out in Harrenhal, leaving the younger son Larys Strong to become Lord of Harrenhal. Larys survived the Dance of the Dragons but not the Judgment of the Wolf.
Ser Lucas Lothston—master-at-arms at the Red Keep—was given the seat as a gift from King Aegon III in 151 AC. Newly wed to the Lady Falena Stokeworth, following the scandal of her relations with Prince Aegon, the future Aegon the Unworthy, Lothston soon departed court with his bride. He returned to King’s Landing in Aegon’s reign, serving as Hand for less than a year before Aegon again banished him from court along with his wife and daughter. Their line was ended in madness and chaos when Lady Danelle Lothston turned to the black arts during the reign of King Maekar I.
It was during the early days of the Dance that Prince Daemon Targaryen led Queen Rhaenyra’s forces to a bloodless victory at Harrenhal, seizing the castle and making it a rallying place for her supporters. There were many such supporters in the riverlands, who rose in their thousands and joined the prince’s host in Rhaenyra’s name. Notable amongst them was the puissant knight, Lord Forrest Frey, who had once been a suitor for Rhaenyra’s hand. The Freys were not an old house. They had risen to prominence some six hundred years ago, their line originating from a petty lord who raised a rickety wooden bridge across the narrowest part of the Green Fork. But as their wealth and influence grew, so did the Crossing. And soon the castle grew from a single tower that overlooked the bridge to two formidable towers that bracketed the river between them. These two keeps, now called the Twins, are amongst the strongest in the realm.
Lord Forrest fought gallantly for the queen he had loved, until the Fishfeed, where he was amongst many lords and knights killed in the war’s bloodiest battle. His widow, the Lady Sabitha of House Vypren, proved redoubtable for her courage and notorious for her lack of mercy. According to Mushroom, she was a “sharp-featured, sharp-tongued harridan of House Vypren, who would sooner ride than dance, wore mail instead of silk, and was fond of killing men and kissing women.” But it was not long before Riverrun, too, began to chafe beneath King Maegor’s heel. As his enemies rose around him, the Tullys rallied to the banners of Prince Jaehaerys Targaryen, brother of the slain Prince Aegon, in the final year of his cruel uncle’s reign.
Through the years that followed, the Tullys continued to leave their mark on history. Lord Grover Tully spoke for Prince Viserys Targaryen over Laenor Velaryon as the successor to Jaehaerys I in the Great Council of 101 AC. When the Dance of the Dragons erupted in 129 AC, the old lord proved loyal to his principles and King Aegon II … but he was aged then, and bedridden, and his grandson Ser Elmo defied him and had the gates barred and the banners kept close.
Ser Elmo Tully. (illustration credit 108) Later during the Dance, Ser Elmo Tully led the riverlords into battle at Second Tumbleton, but on the side of Queen Rhaenyra rather than King Aegon II, whom his grandsire had favored. The battle proved a victory—at least in part—and soon after, his grandfather finally died, and Ser Elmo became Lord of Riverrun. But he did not long enjoy his station; he died on the march forty-nine days later, leaving his young son, Ser Kermit, to succeed him.
Lord Kermit brought the Tullys to the height of their power. Vital and bold, he fought tirelessly for Queen Rhaenyra, and her son, Prince Aegon, later King Aegon III. Lord Kermit was the chief commander of the host that descended on King’s Landing in the last days of the war, and he personally slew Lord Borros Baratheon in the final battle of the Dance of the Dragons.
His successors ruled as best they could after him, but Riverrun was never again as prominent as during those years. Loyal to House Targaryen through all the Blackfyre Rebellions, House Tully finally soured on the dragon kings during the madness of King Aerys II Targaryen, and Lord Hoster Tully joined Robert Baratheon and his rebels and helped bind together the alliance that brought Robert to the Iron Throne by granting the hands of his daughters to Lord Jon Arryn of the Eyrie and Lord Eddard Stark of Winterfell.