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The wet wild of the rainwood was a favored haunt of the children of the forest, the tales tell us, and there were giants in the hills that rose wild in the shadow of the Red Mountains, and amongst the defiles and ridges of the stony peninsula that came to be called Massey’s Hook. Although the giants were a shy folk, and ever hostile to man, it is written that in the beginning, the children of the forest welcomed the newcomers to Westeros, in the belief that there was land enough for all.
The forest shaped the First Men, who made their homes beneath the ancient oaks, towering redwoods, sentinels, and soldier pines. By the banks of small streams rose rude villages where folk hunted and trapped as their lords permitted. The furs from the stormlands were well regarded, but the true riches of the rainwood were found in its timber and rare hardwoods. The harvesting of the trees soon brought the First Men into conflict with the children of the forest, however, and for hundreds and thousands of years they made war upon one another, until the First Men took the old gods of the children for their own and divided up the lands in the Pact sealed on the Isle of Faces amidst the great lake called the Gods Eye.
Storm’s End. (illustration credit 141) The Pact came late in the history of man in Westeros, however; by the time it was signed, the giants (who were no part of it) were almost gone from the stormlands, and even the children were much diminished.
Much of the early history of Westeros is lost in the mists of time, where it becomes ever more difficult to separate fact from legend the further back one goes. This is particularly true of the stormlands, where the First Men were comparatively few and the elder races strong. Elsewhere in the Seven Kingdoms, the runes that tell their stories survive to this day, chiseled into cave walls and standing stones and the ruins of fallen strongholds, but in the stormlands oft as not the First Men carved the tales of their victories and defeats into the trunks of trees, long since rotted away.
Moreover, a tradition developed amongst the Storm Kings of old for naming the king’s firstborn son and heir after Durran Godsgrief, founder of their line, further compounding the difficulties of the historian. The bewildering number of King Durrans has inevitably caused much confusion. The maesters of the Citadel of Oldtown have given numbers to many of these monarchs, in order to distinguish one from the other, but that was not the practice of the singers (unreliable at the best of times) who are our chief source for these times.
The legends surrounding the founder of House Durrandon, Durran Godsgrief, all come to us through the singers. The songs tell us that Durran won the heart of Elenei, daughter of the sea god and the goddess of the wind. By yielding to a mortal’s love, Elenei doomed herself to a mortal’s death, and for this the gods who had given her birth hated the man she had taken for her lord husband. In their wroth, they sent howling winds and lashing rains to knock down every castle Durran dared to build, until a young boy helped him erect one so strong and cunningly made that it could defy their gales. The boy grew to be Brandon the Builder; Durran became the first Storm King. With Elenei at his side, he lived and reigned at Storm’s End for a thousand years, or so the stories claim.
(Such a life span seems most unlikely, even for a hero married to the daughter of two gods.
Archmaester Glaive, himself a stormlander by birth, once suggested that this King of a Thousand Years was in truth a succession of monarchs all bearing the same name, which seems plausible but must forever remain unproved.) Whether he was one man or fifty, we know that in this time the kingdom extended its writ far beyond Storm’s End and its hinterlands, absorbing neighboring kingdoms one by one over the centuries. Some were won by treaty, some by marriage, more by conquest—a process that was continued by Durran’s descendants.
The Godsgrief himself was first to claim the rainwood, that wet wilderness that had hitherto belonged only to the children of the forest. His son Durran the Devout returned to the children most of what his father had seized, but a century later Durran Bronze-Axe took it back again, this time for good and all. The songs tell us that Durran the Dour slew Lun the Last, King of the Giants, at the Battle of Crookwater, but scholars still debate whether he was Durran V or Durran VI.
Maldon Massey built the castle Stonedance and established his lordship over Massey’s Hook under another King Durran, called the Ravenfriend, but his dates and number remain in dispute as well. It was Durran the Young, also known as the Butcher Boy, who dammed the river Slayne with Dornish corpses, after turning back Yoren Yronwood and the warrior maid Wylla of Wyl in the Battle by the Bloody Pool … but was he the same king who became besotted with his own niece in later life and died at the hands of his brother Erich Kin-Killer? These, and many similar questions, will most likely never be resolved.
Somewhat better sources exist for later centuries, however. We can say with fair certainty that the great island kingdom of Tarth fell under the sway of House Durrandon when Durran the Fair took to wife the daughter of its king, Edwyn Evenstar. Their grandson, Erich the Sailmaker (most likely Erich III), was the first to claim Estermont and the lesser isles farther south. It was another Durran (Durran X, most scholars agree) who extended the kingdom northward to the Blackwater Rush, and his son Monfryd I (the Mighty) who first crossed that great river, defeating the petty kings of House Darklyn and House Mooton in a series of wars, and seizing the prosperous port towns of Duskendale and Maidenpool.
Monfryd’s son Durran XI (the Dim) and his own son Barron (the Beautiful) yielded up all he had gained and more besides. During the long years when Durwald I (the Fat) ruled in Storm’s End, the Masseys broke away, Tarth thrice revolted, and even upon Cape Wrath a challenge arose, from a woods witch known only as the Green Queen, who held the rainwood against Storm’s End for the best part of a generation. For a time it was said Durwald’s rule extended no farther than a man could urinate off the walls of Storm’s End.
The tide turned again when Morden II named his baseborn half brother Ronard as his castellan. A fearsome warrior, Ronard became the ruler of the stormlands in all but name and took King Morden’s sister to wife. Within five years, he had claimed the kingship as well. It was Morden’s own queen who placed Morden’s crown on Ronard’s head. If the songs be true, she shared his bed as well.
Morden himself, deemed harmless, was confined to a cell in the tower.
His usurper ruled for nigh unto thirty years as Ronard the Bastard, smashing rebel bannerman and petty kings alike in battle after battle. Never a man to confine himself to a single woman, he claimed a daughter from every foe who bent the knee. By the time he died, he had supposedly fathered nine-andninety sons. Most were bastard born (though Ronard had three-and-twenty wives, the songs say) and did not share in their father’s inheritance but had to make their own way in the world. For this reason, thousands of years later, many and more of the smallfolk of the stormlands, even the meanest and humblest amongst them, still boast of royal blood.
ANDALS IN THE STORMLANDSErich VII Durrandon was king in the stormlands when the Andal longships first began to cross the narrow sea. History remembers him as Erich the Unready, for he took little note of these invaders, famously declaring that he had no interest in “the quarrels of strangers in a land far away.” The Storm King was embroiled in his own wars at the time, attempting to reconquer Massey’s Hook from its infamous pirate king, Justin Milk-Eye, whilst fending off the incursions of the Dornish king Olyvar Yronwood. Nor did Erich live to see the result of his inaction, for the Andals remained occupied with their conquest of the Vale for the rest of his lifetime.
His grandson, King Qarlton II Durrandon, was the first to face the Andals in battle. After four generations of war, that monarch—who styled himself Qarlton the Conqueror—finally completed the reconquest of Massey’s Hook, taking Stonedance after a year’s siege and slaying the last king of House Massey, Josua (called Softspear).
The Storm King held his conquest for less than two years. An Andal warlord named Togarion Bar Emmon (called Togarion the Terrible) had established his own small kingdom north of the Blackwater but was being hard-pressed by the Darklyn king of Duskendale. Sensing weakness to the south, Togarion took to wife the daughter of Josua Softspear and crossed Blackwater Bay with all his power to establish a new kingdom on Massey’s Hook. He built his own castle at Sharp Point, at the Hook’s end, whilst driving the stormlanders from Stonedance and setting his wife’s brother to rule there as a puppet dancing to his strings.
Qarlton the Conqueror soon had more serious woes to concern him than the loss of Massey’s Hook.
The eyes of the Andals had turned south, and longships had begun to come ashore all up and down his coasts, full of hungry men with the seven-pointed stars painted on their shields and chests and brows, all of them bent on carving out kingdoms of their own. The rest of his reign, and that of his son and grandson (Qarlton III and Monfryd V) after him, were times of almost constant war.
Andals landing on the shores of the stormlands. (illustration credit 142) Though the Storm Kings won half a dozen major battles—the greatest of these being the Battle of Bronzegate where Monfryd V Durrandon defeated the Holy Brotherhood of the Andals, an alliance of seven petty kings and war lords, at the cost of his own life—the longships kept coming. It was said that for every Andal who fell in battle, five more came wading ashore. Tarth was the first of the stormlands to be overwhelmed; Estermont soon followed.
The Andals established themselves on Cape Wrath as well and might well have taken all the rainwood if they had not proved as willing to make war on one another as upon the kingdoms of the First Men. But King Baldric I Durrandon (the Cunning) proved expert at setting them one against the other, and King Durran XXI took the unprecedented step of seeking out the remaining children of the forest in the caves and hollow hills where they had taken refuge and making common cause with them against the men from beyond the sea. In the battles fought at Black Bog, in the Misty Wood, and beneath the Howling Hill (the precise location of which has sadly been lost), this Weirwood Alliance dealt the Andals a series of stinging defeats and checked the decline of the Storm Kings for a time. An even more unlikely alliance, between King Cleoden I and three Dornish kings, won an even more telling victory over Drox the Corpse-Maker on the river Slayne near Stonehelm a generation later.
Yet it is an error to assert that the Storm Kings turned back the invaders. For all their victories, they never stemmed the Andal tide; though many an Andal king and warlord ended with his head impaled upon a spike above the gates of Storm’s End, still the Andals kept coming. The reverse is also true; the Andals never truly conquered the line of Durrandon. Seven times they laid siege to Storm’s End or sought to storm its mighty walls, history tells us; seven times they failed. The seventh failure was seen as a sign from the gods; after that, no further assaults were made.
Seven-pointed star carved in stone. (illustration credit 143)
In the end, the two sides simply came together. King Maldon IV took an Andal maiden as his wife, as did his son, Durran XXIV (Durran Half-Blood). Andal war chiefs became lords and petty kings, wed the daughters of stormlords and gave them their own daughters in return, did fealty for their lands, and swore their swords to the Storm Kings. Led by King Ormund III and his queen, the stormlanders put aside their old gods and took up the gods of the Andals, the Faith of the Seven. As the centuries passed, the two races of men became as one … and the children of the forest, all but forgotten, vanished entirely from the rainwood and the stormlands.
House Durrandon reached its greatest heights in the epoch that followed. During the Age of the Hundred Kingdoms, King Arlan I (the Avenger) swept all before him, extending the borders of his kingdom as far as the Blackwater Rush and the headwaters of the Mander. His great-grandson King Arlan III crossed both the Blackwater and the Trident and claimed the riverlands in their entirety, at one point planting his crowned stag banner on the shores of the Sunset Sea.
With the death of Arlan III, however, an inevitable decline began, for the stormlanders were stretched too thin to hold this vast kingdom together. Rebellion followed rebellion, petty kings sprang up like weeds, castles and keeps fell away … and then the ironborn came, led by Harwyn Hardhand, King of the Iron Islands, and it all befell as previously related. Even as the stormlanders reeled back before the ironmen in the north, the Dornish came swarming over the Boneway to press them in the south, and the Kings of the Reach sent their knights forth from Highgarden to reclaim all that had been lost in the west.
The Kingdom of the Storm shrank, king by king, battle by battle, year by year. The fall was halted briefly when a fierce warrior prince, Argilac (called the Arrogant), donned the stag’s crown, but even a man as mighty as he could only stay the tide, not turn it back. Last of the Storm Kings, last of the Durrandon, Argilac did just that for a time … but near the end of his life, when he had grown old, King Argilac made a clumsy attempt to use House Targaryen of Dragonstone as a shield against the growing might of the ironmen and their king, Harren the Black. Never grasp a dragon by the tail, the old proverb says. Argilac the Arrogant did just that, and succeeded only in turning the eyes of Aegon Targaryen and his sisters westward.
When they came ashore at the mouth of the Blackwater Rush to begin their conquest of the Seven Kingdoms, with them came a black-eyed, black-haired bastard named Orys Baratheon.