History of House Thane
From a time of legends did the House of Thane begin.
Before what is now known as Westeros had been carved and conquered. In the wake of the Age of Heroes, when the will of the First Men was broken by Andal blood, and the Godswood put to flame. In the time of Mountain Kings, when the line of Arryn was not yet ancient, though still old, and when the Southern Kingdoms still held hope that the gaze of the seven would not unleash the Mountain Kings’ fury upon their lands.
When the will of Gods and men still named those fit to rule.
In the time before the Dragons came.
Ancestors of the line of Thane were of the first of Andal blood to set foot on the lands now known as Westeros. They arrived as conquerors, bringing war to bear on the Mountains of the Moon, though from what bloodlines they hailed is uncertain, for it would be years before the House of Thane would find its true beginnings.
It’s inception would come from prestigious stock, born of Arryn’s get and linked to the very line of Mountain King, though it’s formation was not born of traditional political or meritorious design. It was, more aptly, a union born in defiance of the King’s will. One which would serve as the basis for many a poet’s tale, both in its time and in the centuries thereafter.
The story of the House of Thane began during the reign of King Ulric, in the very hall of the Mountain King, where only those born of his line and the most valorous and trusted of his warriors were made welcome. Though they were onlybut a fraction of those who owed allegiance to the King of the Vale, the heirs to Arryn’s line were abundant, and so too was valor in those warriors that served him, surrounding him with a court that would be the envy of any king.
It is said that above all else that Ulric cherished family, and that his most trusted warriors were treated as such. Those closest to him were honored with the name of ‘Brethren’, and between them, the King would suffer no ill will. When disputes did arise amongst his subjects, Ulric was both clever and wise in his judgments, preserving the bonds that tied his kingdom together.
Ulric often secured the loyalty of his bravest through marriage. Although Ulric produced few sons, he was blessed with many daughters, and a goodly number of them were offered in union to those of the Brethren, forging alliances of blood where he once faced the threat of ambition.
Ulric did not limit the use of such methods to the confines his domain. Although Ulric and his descendants would eventually conquer the Southern Kingdoms through means of blood and steel, their tactics of subjugation were not entirely built on war. Long before any forces were raised for the purpose of usurping foreign lands, Ulric often divided his enemies internally, forging strategic and temporary alliances that would lay the groundwork for their ambitious and imperial designs.
Unlike his strategy with the Brethren, it was rare for Ulric to promise one of his daughters in such an arrangement, preferring to secure bonds though other loyal houses of related bloodlines. Only at those times when the use of alternative methods were not sufficient to lure a foreign king to his banner did the King consider offering the hand of one of his daughters to secure the pact between them. When so offered, very few kings refused, believing that such a connection to Ulric’s line would put them in a privileged position if ever the King of the Vale were to direct his warriors through the passes to engage in war.
It was in the midst of one such arrangement that the House of Thane found its beginnings. In what is today believed to be his first attempt to make war on the area that is now known as the Riverlands, Ulric proposed a treaty with an influential ruler, King Reynar II, who, at that time, controlled much of the area we know today as the Reach. Although Reynar had a sizeable military force in his own right, he was also very influential with many of the Lords whose lands stood between Ulric and the Southern Provinces. Such an alliance would have been extremely beneficial for Ulric, allowing him to conquer the rich lands of the Riverlands with minimal conflict, and paving the way for further conquest in the south.
The treaty, although involving many of the expected and customary enticements, hinged upon the union of King Reynar and Lady Laurel Arryn, the most fair and favorite of Ulric’s daughters. Though Laurel was renowned for her beauty, it is doubtful that King Reynar was moved by such simple motivations. More likely, by joining himself in marriage to the child that Ulric and the Vale held most dear, Reynar believed he could be ensured a certain measure of trust in their alliance; trust that he would have required before he would risk forever attaching his kingdom and his line to the designs of the Mountain King.
Had their agreement held, and had Laurel been married to the King of the Reach, perhaps it would have been Ulric, and not his sons, that marched from the Bloody Gate to hold dominion over the south in the years that would follow. Certainly, history would have woven a world of a different make, perhaps completely changing the face of Westeros, but, the alliance, for good or for ill, was not to be.
For, though Laurel’s hand had been offered by Ulric in good faith, his wishes would not be enough to command the loyalty of his daughter’s heart. Such influence had, unbeknownst to Ulric, fallen under the power of another, and could not be reclaimed.
It was in one of the Brethren, a young warrior known as Ser Evan Thane, that Laurel would secure her devotion. During his time in Ulric’s court, Ser Evan had proven himself mightily in the service of his King, and even amongst the Brethren, he was regarded on high.
In such favor, Ser Evan ate often at the King’s table, and it was there that he both caught the eye and captured the heart of Laurel Arryn. Though the full extent of their relationship is unknown, in the year surrounding her betrothal to King Reynar, where Ulric went, Ser Evan was commanded to follow, giving them time to foster their growing affections for one another.
It was in Ulric’s own court, during the final hour of the Festival of the Dawn, a mere six months before she was to be married to King Reynar, that Ser Evan, in an act which betrayed his youth and passion, professed his love and requested the hand of Lady Laurel in open court. Though Ulric refused, Laurel would not be denied, professing her feelings for Ser Evan and pleading that her Father break her betrothal to King Reynar. He again refused, and, in anger, named Ser Evan as a traitor to the realm.
In the face of such accusation, Ser Evan’s honor was challenged three times by his former brothers in arms. It would be the first time that blood would be spilled within the halls of the Eyrie during Ulric’s reign, and the only time the King would permit trial by combat amongst those of the Brethren.
Ser Evan slayed each challenger in succession. Between each new confrontation, he knelt before Ulric, professing both his loyalty and unwavering devotion to the King, begging again for Laurel’s hand.
It is unknown how many might have died that day if Ulric had not put an end to the challenges to Ser Evan’s honor, nor what caused him to do so. There are those that believe that it was his love for Laurel and his respect for Ser Evan’s valor that moved him in such a way, though others claim that it was Ulric’s calculating nature that decided the moment, forcing him to bring a quick end to the display in order to avoid a divide within his court. Whatever the motivation, when Ser Evan answered and defended the third challenge to his honor, Ulric intervened, and would allow no others to put him to the question.
Afterwards, Ulric called forth his daughter to reaffirm her love for Ser Evan, asking if she would forsake all she had known to be joined with the young knight. Unwavering, she replied, “I forsake nothing if I remain true.”
Upon her words, the King granted Laurel and Evan the right to be joined. Though he raised Ser Evan to lordly status, he offered no dowry and bequeathed upon him a domain far to the west, a world apart from the King and his court; a barren rock, infertile, plagued by savages and unrest. His daughter was stripped of her name, forever to be known as Laurel Thane from that day forward, and he forbid any mention of her within the confines of his court.
Both were immediately banished from the Vale, though they would not leave alone as the King had intended. Though there were those who would question the honor of their House from that day forward, in the minds of those who bore witness, their story was already being woven into poem and song, causing many to yearn for a place in their tale.
The manner of their joining would cause a division in Ulric’s court from that day forward; its mirth overshadowed by the dour mood of its King and the very nature of his rule marred by what had transpired. As much as the blood of those who challenged Ser Evan’s honor still stains the floor of the King’s chamber in the halls of the Eyrie, so too would such events mark the end of a time of glory for both Ulric and the Brethren.
Though it was perhaps not the events themselves, but what they foretold that cast a dark shadow over Ulric’s court. For, where the Mountain King had once sought a powerful ally, he had most assuredly fostered a great enemy, and where there had once been the promise of conquest and glory in the lands of the south, amongst what remained of the Brethren, there was now only the dismal apprehension of what was expected to be both a difficult and defensive war.
Although Ulric did attempt to rectify the breach in his treaty with King Reynar, there was to be no resolution between the two Kingdoms. Reynar, known throughout his rule to be a man of ill temper, did not receive the news in particularly good humor, and considered the forfeit of their agreement and Ulric’s unwillingness to enforce it, a personal insult to both he and his rule. Before the year’s end, he had rallied the banners of his allies and incited them with the purpose of bringing war to the Vale.
Though it was certainly in his right to do so, the speed at which Reynar rallied his forces gives credence to the opinion that Reynar’s demeanor was but a ruse to cloak his opportunistic nature and lend some legitimacy to his ambitions. Certainly, his actions show him to be both shrewd and warlike during his reign, and he no doubt sensed that Ulric’s position of strength had weakened considerably. Still, whether this was a personal affront or a clever stratagem it is clear that Reynar was extremely efficient in fostering an alliance between his realm and a great many of the Lords of the Middle Kingdoms, and that, within a two year’s time, he was already laying siege to outer walls of the Bloody Gate.
So, Ulric, in seeking a powerful alliance that would put him in a position of dominance over the surrounding kingdoms, in fact shattered the bonds that held his followers together and stirred a great coalition in opposition of his rule. It would bring an end to what had been an enlightened time for Arryn’s court, but, for House Thane, a golden age was just beginning.
Though both Ser Evan and Lady Laurel had been banished from the King’s court and Laurel nearly disowned by her Father’s decree, the position in which they found themselves after such events occurred cannot be accurately described as weak. Though Ser Evan’s family was not one of tremendous prestige, his own achievements during his time in Ulric’s favor had served him well, and there were many knights that were eager to bind their fate to his in their conquest of the uncharted lands to the West. Lady Laurel, long known and beloved by Ulric’s court, drew similar support from the ranks of Andal Houses, their combined effect bringing many young, brave, eager warriors to the service of their banner.
It was however the land itself that would play the biggest part in determining their fortunes. Although the lands they had been granted were located in the far northwest of the Argent Valley region, deep into what was regarded as clan territory and widely reported to be unfit to sustain civilized living, this perception had long been flawed. Time had surreptitiously changed the region considerably in ways which were both beneficial and hidden from obvious notice.
The prevalence of the mountain clans in the region can be primarily to blame for such ignorance. With the arrival of the Andals, thousands of years prior to the formation of House Thane, the clansman had been pushed West, denied the fertile area of the coast and driven far inland, away from the narrow sea. Upon reaching what would be known as the Argent Valley, their flight ended as the clans found themselves cornered upon the last bit of land afforded to them by their Andal conquerors.
Though they had been beaten back, they still outnumbered their aggressors, and would not so easily yield to the designs of those who sought their end. Over the course of their conquest, the Andals had often nullified this numerical advantage by exploiting the fractious nature of the clans, preying upon years of tribal conflict to divide what would have been, if unified, an vast and unmanageable enemy. Here however, constrained and cornered in the face of extinction, the clans were able to put aside their differences and come together to face their enemy.
Initial forays into this area by the Andals were met by fierce resistance, as the united front of the mountain clans and their knowledge of the difficult terrain granted them a significant advantage over the Andals in their ability to do war. Though the Andals were not easily deterred, after numerous attempts to gain ground in this area with little success or advantage to show for it, it was quickly determined that the cost that would be required to conquer the region would far outweigh any possible wealth that dominion over these lands might offer.
Had the clans not been so tenacious in keeping this area clear of those of Andal blood, the decision to abandon this northwestern region may not have been so clear cut. With the information known today, it can be determined that the region over which House Thane had been given charge was not nearly as barren as had been reported during this time, the treacherous terrain and natural structure of the mountains concealing what is expected to have been rich arable land. However, the limited ability of the Andals to sufficiently explore the area compounded with the devastating losses they suffered in trying to hold any ground within the region, led to a policy of deterrence by most major houses for thousands of years.
That is, until the reign of Ulric and the ascension of House Thane.
By the time House Thane had been awarded lordship over lands in the northwest Argent Valley region, the passing years had done much to change both its culture and the composition. Though the mountain clans were still fierce in the defense of their territory, a few thousand years of relative peace with the Andals had softened their stance towards their former aggressor. Certainly, the actions of the Andals were not forgotten, but after so many years without a major incursion into their land, the urgency which had driven the clans to unite had diminished, and conflict, both old and new, had once again caused the clans to splinter.
In accordance with this, the relationship between the mountain clans and the Andals had changed as well. Though many of the clans still raided the now established lands and settlements of the Andal Lords, there were those who sought out peaceful relations, establishing some limited trade and reaching a measure of coexistence with the neighboring populace. At times, though uncommon, alliances were born of such relationships, granting the clans the ability to bring superior weaponry, tactics, or even the direct intervention of Andal Lords to bear on rival clans, further complicating the politics of the situation.
The land too had changed in significant ways. The clans, as always, were nomadic, and though their people dominated the western region of the mountains, their pattern of migration eased the demands that such numbers would have normally placed upon the land. Moreover, the natural landscape that had hidden these areas from the notice of outsiders had also sheltered it from the elements, leaving it free to flourish over the passage of time.
As a result, everywhere in the wild of the Argent Valley, nature had prospered. Small groves had grown into vast forests. Where there had been only the barest trace of water, rivers now flowed. Where the land had been rocky, arid, and bare, it had evolved, through flood and through fire, into a rich bed of arable land.
So it was, in such a manner and to such inheritance, that House Thane found its beginnings. Calling to all those who would follow him into the West in search of greater glory, Ser Evan formed a council of war at Silversteel Tower in the domain of House Graydon, whose lands served as the border between civilized lands and the wild. Here, by utilizing what knowledge could be accumulated of the clans and the region, Ser Evan rallied the lords to action, laying out the strategy that would, in the end, claim the region for House Thane and its allies. Though his tactics would not differ greatly from the methods of previous Andal lords, where it did diverge would prove critical to his success in conquering the region.
Like those who came before, Ser Evan took advantage of the infighting of the clans so as to limit the risk of his engagements, though he employed a level of diplomacy that was rare for that time. In some cases, he played the role of champion, seeking out and eradicating specific warlike sects who had gained the enmity of either neighboring clansman or bordering Andal Lords, fostering native or noble support for his venture. In others, when it was advantageous to do so, he allied himself with the strongest and most warlike of the clans, preying upon their greed and ambition to turn them on their brethren.
It was in such a way that House Thane staged an assault into the Western Argent Valley region, maneuvering the clans against one another in order to ease their path of conquest. Although the noble houses that held domain within the region were few, those that did had long been at the mercy of the wild and were eager to support an effort which could ease the pressure that the clans placed upon their borders.
As word of House Thane’s victories grew, so too did the allies to their cause. With such support, mere months after their initial foray, Ser Evan and his followers would do what many had deemed impossible, completing their trek through the wilds to behold their ancestral lands.
They would find the heart of their domain nestled deeply in the folds of surrounding peaks, the vast untamed plains expanding wide across a deep valley floor. Flowing through its center was the Argent, carrying within it the spirit of the mountain, reflected in each ripple of shimmering silver. At the mountain’s base, the tributary found its origin; a small placid lake that, in day or night, paid tribute to the sky like a mirror to the gods.
To the far North, high upon the mountain, the fingers of countless underground springs combined; their centuries of uninhibited travel smoothing the area into the likeness of a plateau. There and where it trickled down the mountainside, it polished the mountain’s face to a dark sheen that, when the heavens permitted, bathed the area in the radiance of the moon’s light.
It is said that when Ser Evan looked upon the land, he wept, claiming that it’s beauty paled only the presence of his love. He would name the valley “Myrelle”, translated to mean “Silver Vale”, and upon the polished rock of the mountain, he would build “Argent’s End”, a towering fortress that would never know defeat.
It was a time of glory for House Thane as they secured their ancestral right to what lands had been promised, establishing their name and domain in the face of significant opposition. For the rest of the realm however, the price of their ascendance had cast its shadow over the mountainside. Everywhere in civilized lands, the nobles prepared for war.
It had begun with fighting far from the Mountains and earlier than the most well known battles would indicate. Though it would be two years before all out war would come to the Vale, both Ulric and King Reynar began their preparations the moment that it became clear that the pact between them would no longer be honored.
In the initial blows, while both King’s postured with talk of scorned honor and the possibility of reconciliation, each called upon their allies in the Riverlands to strike out under their own banners against those loyal to the opposing King. Although it was clear that no major battles would be fought in this region, both devoted significant resources, attempting to tip the scales of power, knowing that any assault on the Mountains would first need to pass through this region.
Although Ulric proved to be a formidable adversary in the time he was permitted, the speed in which Reynar was able to bring forces into the region turned the tide significantly in his favor. Even though the bulk of his forces would not be ready to march for some time, the quick show of force brought many of the Riverland nobles to his side that may have otherwise maintained a neutral stance in the engagement. Ulric, who would rely heavily on the defensible position of the mountain, was hesitant to risk a major engagement outside the confines of his domain and thus settled for a delaying action, harrying Reynar’s troops as he positioned his forces to defend the Vale.
It would take two years from the first point of engagement for Reynar to bring his forces to the Bloody Gate, a massive army formed and shaped to do nothing less than shatter Ulric’s rule. Though the story of the broken trust between the two Kings had spread quickly through the bordering regions, Reynar lent additional legitimacy to his campaign by allying with Ulric’s exiled cousin, Osric Arryn, who escaped justice after failing in an attempt to claim the throne early in Ulric’s reign. Osric presented the possibility that a quick end to the conflict could be reached if Ulric were to fall or if the Eyrie could be secured, both aiding Reynar’s cause to secure allies and sowing dissent within the Mountain King’s realm.
Behind the walls of the Mountain King, Ulric had issued a call to arms, and the banners of the Vale Men marched to the aid of the realm. Deep in the wild however, word did not come quickly, and it was only long after that House Thane would learn of what their union had wrought.
So out of favor was House Thane at this time that when the banners were called, Ser Evan and his followers were not summoned. Though they would hear of the call to arms peripherally through their dealings with other houses, by the time word reached the wild, the most forward troops of King Reynar’s army could already be seen from the towers of the Bloody Gate, and it would only be a few months before the siege would begin in full force.
Even if, upon receiving word of the impending battle, those loyal to Ser Evan had been immediately ready to march to the aid of the realm, the battle for the Bloody Gate would be decided long before they reached the fight. Though they had cut a path through clan territory to reach their lands, they had not the forces to subdue all of the enemies in their wake, striking and moving swiftly through the region in a way that they would be unable to repeat. The cost of moving back through clan territory would have been significant, and this, coupled with the distance and difficulty of the terrain, would have made such an effort futile.
Likely, had House Thane not found a way around such impediments, their history would be a shadow of what we know it to be today. With the part they played in the war’s inception, their absence on the field would have been noted, giving their detractors ample means to vilify them. Furthermore, the house’s continued existence in the years to come and it’s establishment of dominion over the wild would rely heavily on the King’s favor. Something that they surely would not have received had they been unable to reach and dramatically affect the coming war.
When word of the war reached the wild, the warriors of House Thane and its allies were quick to answer. Upon learning of the state of the realm, Ser Evan sent emissaries to all of the Houses of the West and called for a council within the newly built fortress of Argent’s End. There, he proposed to them a plan to mobilize all of those able and willing men of honor who would ride to war for their King, and lead them through the treacherous passes of the western mountains, where they could then meet up with the King’s Road and drive south unexpectedly into the heart of the enemy force.
It was a daring plan, nearing recklessness in the eyes of those in attendance. Though many were eager to find a means to join in on the battle, no force of such a size had ever traversed the mountains in the history of the realm, and many were wary to risk their forces in such a manner. It was argued that even a late appearance to the battle could be valuable, providing fresh troops to bolster the gate, and that attempting to move such a massive force through the mountains was an unnecessary risk to both the houses and to the war effort as a whole.
With the council divided and showing no signs of nearing the end of their deliberation, it would not be the words of Ser Evan but those of Lady Laurel that would bring the noble Houses to an accord. Appearing at the council unbidden, Lady Laurel, outcast daughter of the King, fiercely professed her loyalty to her father, and, in testament to her courage, voiced her intention to ride through the passes with the armies of her House. In what would be a moment long remembered, she bid those of the council to follow her.
When the council parted, the Houses were in agreement. Once mobilized, they would be nearly ten thousand strong, and so inspired, they rode into the west to face what trials the mountains would put before them.
It is estimated to have taken three full weeks to navigate the treacherous terrain. Though they most assuredly suffered losses on their journey, they emerged from the mountains in strength, circumventing months of travel to bring the possibility of glory and valor within reach.
There, they briefly made camp, regaining their strength before swiftly driving south along the King’s Road. Within a matter of weeks, the smoke and stench of the siege was upon them; the forces of King Reynar amassed in full force and pressing hard upon the Bloody Gate.
it was near dawn when the armies of House Thane and their allies took the field. Witnesses from that time record seeing two horsed figures upon a high hill, a man and a woman bathed in the morning light, seemingly blanketed in serenity. The siege had gone long into the night, leaving the forces of King Reynar to wake slowly under the attention of the pair’s eerie disapproving gaze.
They for who the war began waited alone on the crest of the hill, looking down upon those who would protest their union. Ser Evan cloaked in armor, in cold assessment of his prey. Lady Laurel draped in grace, her fair hair flowing like silk on the wind.
As the full force of day broke across the horizon, Ser Evan raised a fist high into the air and the fury of ten thousand swords echoed off the mountainside. Raising his voice he reached out and woke the courage of the men of the Argent Valley.
“We will not forsake honor! We will not forsake loyalty! Though we have not been summoned, still we have come! In this hour of need, we will not forsake our King!”
With his sword held high, Ser Evan’s stallion reared, and the men of the Vale charged, riding down mercilessly upon the flank of King Reynar’s unsuspecting host.
As the forces of the Argent Valley plunged into the heart of the opposing army from the North, Ulric surprised those at the gate with a sudden sally, driving the men of the Vale hard into the thick of the battle. At the height of the conflict, Ser Evan and King Ulric’s forces met in the middle, shattering the will and morale of Reynar’s forces, and ending the threat to the Mountain King’s reign.
At the battle’s end, the armies of King Reynar had been broken against the mountain. Though Reynar would escape, he would leave the field badly injured, living out the final years of his rule in obscurity. Osric Arryn was not so lucky in his fate, captured on the battlefield and forever imprisoned by Ulric in the sky cells of the Eyrie for the rest of this days.
As for House Thane, Ulric welcomed them back to court and into his favor without reservation. Lady Laurel was once again recognized as a lawful daughter of the Arryn line, and both she and Ser Evan were immediately elevated to a station of honor among his subjects. For their display of loyalty and valor, he increased House Thane’s land in the Argent Valley, granting them rights over an area of the region that was known to be rich and fertile, and bestowed honorary title upon all of those who had ridden to battle through the western passes, forever naming them as members of the “Argent Guard”.
House Thane’s ascension into the ranks of Ulric’s favored and the epic tale that surrounded them drew many Knights to their banner. Although they were now welcome in Ulric’s court, they chose to spend little time there, instead maintaining a constant presence at Argent’s End, attending to the needs of civilizing and cultivating their new land. By the time Ser Evan was ready to pass the mantle of lordship off to his sons, he and Laurel had attracted a significant following of their own, and, though their court at Argent’s End was certainly smaller than that of the Eyrie, it is said to have been well modeled after that of the King’s.
The years that followed would be a time of peace and prosperity for House Thane and its heirs. Though they would maintain their station in the courts of the Lords of Arryn, and though they would remain strong among the Houses of the Argent Valley region, they did so quietly, securing their lands and their power gradually and without the drama of their house’s inception.
Over the course of the next thousand years, House Thane would distinguish and glorify itself with many achievements of note. Ser Michael, “the Merciless”, would crush the White Hart rebellion at the battle of Piney Brook. Ser Aelric, “the Wise”, would negotiate the Treaty of Stones, bringing to end a long and bloody dispute between the established Lords of x and y, much to the approval of the King and the realm. Ser Kendall, “The White”, would find and slay in single combat Ser Harrod, “The False”, greatly elevating the House in the eyes of the church.
However, by far, the most notable of their achievements came during the reign of Ser Aelfric Thane, the great grandson of Ser Evan, who was able to complete the work of his forefathers and open a small but stable western pass from their lands to the King’s Road. From the time of the “Mountain March of Ser Evan”, as it had come to be known, House Thane had worked to establish a stable route of travel that would allow trade to pass directly into their lands from outside the Mountains of the Moon. It had taken generations of effort to complete with only a narrow pass to show for it, but the achievement would bring them great prosperity, opening up new relations with the Houses of the Riverlands and offering an alternate path to civilization for the Houses of the Argent Valley region.
The pass would be improved upon over the next few hundred years, and the lands of House Thane would become a hub of activity and commerce, greatly increasing their importance in the realm. The “Silver Pass”, as it would come to be called, would be significantly widened, allowing merchants to traffic more goods across their land, and shelter was bored out of the rock at established places along the trail to allow travelers some measure of safe haven on their journey. At the entrance to the pass, huge towers were erected, ringed with the statues of the Seven at their height and engraved with the faces of all the Lords of Thane at their base, giving an ominous warning to any who might venture onto their lands harboring ill intentions.
The Silver Pass would become a center of power and attention for House Thane over the middle centuries of their line. Their ownership of such a major route into the Western Argent Valley would free their lands from a state of isolation, creating a nexus between realms and granting them a level of importance in the region of which few Houses could rival.
After centuries of dependence on the commerce and influence which the Silver Pass granted them, it is perhaps easy to understand it’s connection to House Thane’s decline. At what could be argued to be the height of their power in the region, the earth began to shift beneath the mountains that both harbored the Silver Pass and sheltered the Valley of Myrelle. Old towering peaks crumbled into rubble and dust. New spires erupted from the earth, disintegrating what lay in their path. Weeks passed before it was done, and when it was over, the Silver Pass was no more.
The event would signify the beginning a dark time for House Thane and its people. The cataclysmic event had caused great changes in the Valley of Myrelle, damaging the land’s ability to sustain civilized life. With the loss of their primary avenue of trade, there was little that could be done to counter the famine and sickness that came as a result of a sudden lack of potable water. As the region’s population dwindled, so did House Thane’s importance in the region.
Still, through this hardship, House Thane persevered. Though a fraction of what they once were, the House weathered the worst of the changes that had come to their land long enough to receive relief in the form of trade from the East. Over time, the subjects of House Thane adjusted and rebuilt, though it would not be the last nor the worst trial House Thane would face before reaching present times.
Recent history has posed some difficult challenges for House Thane. The Mountains of the Moon have erupted in conflict over the last few years, fraught with both war and rebellion, and, though House Thane during this time has seemingly accorded themselves with honor, they have nonetheless suffered for their devotion.
In what would be known as the “Five Fingers Rebellion”, the prominent Houses of both d and e engaged in open hostility over control of the shipping lanes of the eastern coast. In what is reported to have begun on the sea with a minor conflict between merchant vessels, became, in reaction, a full scale military engagement involving a great many nobles houses, spreading wide across Lord Arryn’s domain.
The initial conflict that would incite the rebellion was born of a history of fierce competition over the Eastern ports of the Five Fingers. Both houses held considerable interest in the eastern coast, and the risk of allowing an infringement upon their power in this region combined with the advantage that could be gained from pressing their interests there had built a dangerous amount of tension between them. Though the combination of the congestion and competition of the eastern shipping lanes made such incidents common, few up to this point had erupted in armed conflict, which perhaps affords some insight into why it provoked such a strong reaction.
It was however not the direct actions taken by these Houses, but of that of their allies that would cause the conflict to escalate in a way that would affect the entire realm. Though the immediate and military response of House d and House e would indeed prompt the series of events that would drive the Lords of the Mountain to war, it was truly the actions and diverse interests of those that they called upon for support that would cause the incident to escalate to a historically epic level.
Rumor spread quickly in the wake of the initial incident, exaggerating the scope of the conflict. Upon receiving the report, both Houses perceived this incident as an attempt by the other to expand their control over the region by use of military force, and reacted without reservation, immediately committing all of their available resources to the cause.
The prominence and power of both Houses immediately ensnared a great many lords into the dispute. The perceived importance of the situation caused both Houses to call upon numerous long standing alliances and debts, nearly escalating what should have been a simple dispute into a full scale civil war.
The political interests of the allied houses compounded this further. In the aftermath of the incident, it has become apparent that many of the houses involved had agreements that demanded an obligation to both sides of the conflict, leaving each in a very precarious position and adding to the overall chaos of the engagement. More importantly however, the blurred lines of such alliances afforded a number of ambitious houses the excuse and opportunity to wage war on their own personal enemies, causing this single conflict to erupt into a multitude of separate, yet associated, battles, all across the eastern region. By the time word had reached the King of the Mountain, the conflict had escalated too far to be stopped simply by royal decree, and the banners were called swiftly to crush the uprising.
Reaction to the summons varied across the noble houses. Though none refused the call of the King, there were many that were delayed by either their current involvement or their desire not to become entwined in the growing struggle.
Though their house was one of the farthest removed from the conflict, House Thane was one of the first to heed to the call of their King, rendezvousing at the edge of a small forest known as “Traitor’s Grove”, just south of the border of the northeastern provinces . Once assembled, they struck out north, following the coast to secure the prominent port of city, which they would then use as a staging area over the coming months to quell uprisings in the region.
The rebellion was brought to and end fairly quickly. Once the King’s banners could be seen on the horizon, most of the houses involved quickly broke from their engagements and fell in line with the King’s demands. Those few that did not were dealt with quickly and decisively, serving as an example for others in the region. Still, it would be a full six months before the Houses would be released to their homes. With the attention of the realm directed inward, both the mountain clans and the pirates of the narrow sea had been left unchecked, and they did not remain idle.
In an unprecedented coordinated effort, clansman across the Mountains of the Moon, from a multitude of different sects, struck out against the unsuspecting houses of the Mountain Men, many of whom, due to the King’s summons, had limited local forces with which to defend themselves.
Around the same time, by coincidence or by plan, the pirates of the narrow sea began raiding up and down the coastline with ferocity. Though their success was tempered by the presence of Arryn’s forces, their actions prevented the King from allowing his subjects to return to their homes, where they could defend their Houses against the clansman that pressed at their borders.
House Thane did not waver in the face of such adversity. They remained in the eastern lands in full force, holding true to their honor while ravens carried word that their people had been driven from their homes and that their land was burning.
They would pay a high price for their honor. For the first time in over a hundred years, clansman had breached the defenses of Thane lands, and they did not waste the opportunity. Of the prominent settlements that had existed, only one would survive their return, and much of it was destroyed. The branches of the Argent that flowed through their lands, once clean and pure, ran black with soot and blood, and the valley of Myrelle, once known for its lush beauty, lay barren in the aftermath of war.
In addition, the absence of their normally prominent military presence would cause a few concerned, or perhaps ambitious, houses to take actions that would make for a difficult homecoming. In response to the threat of the clans to Thane lands, a number of Lord’s intervened, sending forces across their borders in order to protect specific regions of value and their inhabitants. Though in many cases, this action saved the local populace from being driven from their homes by raiding clansman, the fact that most of these Houses continue to remain entrenched in these regions in the absence of any credible threat, suggests that their original intent may not have honorable in nature.
* * *
House Thane’s return leaves the future and resolution of all such matters unsettled. Though their lands have been ravaged and their people nearly broken, their forces seem surprisingly untouched by the rigors of their six month engagement, and though one would expect to see signs of loss and despair, there is only battle hardened resolve.
Only the seers can divine what the future will bring for House Thane as they enter this new and tumultuous age, though they are not needed to see what stirs in Argent’s End. The truth of it gleams out from the eyes of all that have sworn fealty to this ancient line of Andal blood.
Pride and loss. Honor and betrayal.
War is coming to the West, and it will be like nothing the Argent Valley has ever seen.
There are those who refute this prediction, and truly their arguments are convincing, though, when one considers it, one’s mind needs only to drift back through the hundreds of years that have passed since the House’s inception, and the truth of it rings clear. Perhaps it is the sound of the wind passing through the mountains or the ripple of the Argent as it washes away evidence of what has come to pass, but when one stands in the valley of Myrelle, the land itself seems to cry out.