Hey everyone, I got some great responses to the first chapter of A Tale of Tyrosh last night, and I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the support from the communities of r/CK2GameOfThrones and from the Citadel. In truth, the first chapter was more or less just the foreword. The real story begins here in Milo I, which I wrote today.
“At last! I thought we might never see land again.” Collio practically bounded off the ship, his snide remarks loud and strong enough to cut through even the fierce winds that whipped across the burgeoning harbor of Little Tyrosh.
“You fear too much, brother mine.” Areo’s booming voice carried the weight of ten red priests, despite him being only one man. “The Lord of Light had us in his hands from the moment we set sail. No force, natural or supernatural, would have been able to stop our venture from succeeding.”
Collio and Areo, despite being brothers, were as different as could be. While they were both tall, strong, intelligent, and dangerous warriors, their personalities were almost diametrically opposed.
Collio was arrogant, cynical, charming, ambitious, and honest to a fault, with a notable selfish bent. Despite all that, he hid a kind heart beneath his arrogant and selfish exterior. His long, luxuriant locks were dyed a fair shade of pink.
Areo, on the other hand, was a humble man, content with his lot in life. His only excitement came from his zeal for the Red God, and seeing his light spread throughout polytheistic Tyrosh. Still, he had a short fuse, and it was known that none should cross him. He was bald, but with a great blue beard comparable to the priests of Norvos.
Milo had known the two of them since his childhood. Their parents were people of modest means, small and quiet; how they managed to make a pair of giants, Milo would never know. They were both killed by the former Magister Ternesio’s guards when it was learned that their sons were Milo’s companions. As the brothers began to bicker and debate, Milo couldn’t help but smile, and ponder how grateful he was that they were in his life.
Lanna, the youngest but wisest of the group of compatriots, would put a stop to the bickering with a single word. “Enough.” She spoke softly, yet her words were enough to make both Collio and Areo seal their lips. Nobody knew much about Lanna. She’d been one of the first slaves Milo had freed. They’d all heard rumors that she was trained by the Sorrowful Men to be an assassin, but few had been brave enough to ask her. When Milo had asked, she had simply laughed the question off, which did nothing to allay Milo’s suspicions. Still, there was no doubt that Lanna was on his side. She was kind, charitable, too clever by half, and as lovely as a flower. While her green, braided hair and bright green eyes betrayed her Myrish heritage, she was a Tyroshi at heart.
Doshuru was next off the boat, his greatsword hanging loosely from his hip. The Summer Islander was a massive hulk of a man, taller even than Collio and Areo, and as strong as the two of them put together. His muscles rippled, and his resounding laughter was like rich, deep velvet. “You two, I think, will never stop bickering. Even your ghosts will chatter into the next life.”
His commentary brought a giggle and an adoring smile from Lanna. The two had been married nigh on a year now. Milo still wondered how a man almost twice her age and height managed to so enrapture the mysterious Lanna, but he’d done it: their love was plain to see.
Doshuru had initially been part of a marauding band of pirates that had landed on Little Tyrosh a year and a half ago, hoping to exploit its rumored wealth. Milo and Doshuru met in single combat, and they both still had the scars to prove it. In the end, Milo had come out victorious. He still remembered Doshoru kneeling before him, expecting Milo to take his head. Instead, Milo had dubbed his shoulders, naming him as Champion. Milo soon founded his household guard, and installed Doshuru as its Captain. The two had been the best of friends ever since.
Mero Badraddin followed off the boat afterwards, jotting notes and numbers on the parchment of the business ledger. Mero was second only to Milo in business senses and skills. While he’d been part of the elite upper class that Milo had so despised, he’d thrown his lot in with Milo early in a bid for power. While Milo knew that Mero was a snake, he had owed the man a debt. He granted the house of Badraddin a generous portion of the confiscated titles and lands of the other patrician houses who had all sided against him, as well as making Mero his seneschal, much to Collio’s chagrin.
Mero cared little for the antics of these young men and women, he cared only for the gold they stood to make and lose. “Two thousand, three hundred, and seventeen golden dragons, my lord. Net. An impressive haul, nonetheless.”
Milo smiled, “I still can’t believe those Iron Islanders were willing to buy the crates of Qartheen silk. Perhaps they’re not as ascetic as we thought?”
“Or perhaps they are tired of their fishwives smelling like iron and blood?” Areo’s comment brought a laugh from the collective group, even Mero, until a quiet voice spoke over the din of laughter.
“Salt wives. Fishwives are female fishmongers, or colloquially they are wrathful women. Salt wives are how the Iron Islanders style their wives that they take at sea and often bring along on their ships, as opposed to their rock wives.” The soft voice of Luco Murad, while difficult to make out, was always filled with valuable information.
The man was, by all truth, a genius. While quiet and socially awkward, he knew more about the world than even Milo did. He constantly had his nose buried in some great tome, and had even taken to scribbling corrections at the feet of pages. He was a physician of unmatched prowess, and had saved Milo’s life more than once.
The first time Luco saved his life had also served as their introduction. When Milo had just started off on his path to wealth, an assassin’s blade had caught him in the belly; while Milo had managed to end the man’s life, he damn near bled out on the cobblestones. Luco lived in one of the manors nearby, and while most of the rich passed by and even spat on the young upstart, Luco took him into his home and patched up his wounds.
Milo repaid his debt to Luco with many golden dragons, enough to send him to study with a group of talented Volantene healers. Then, when Milo took his place as Magister of Little Tyrosh, he showed grace to Luco’s parents. The house of Murad, with the exception of Luco, were banished from Little Tyrosh and their slaves were set free -- but they were allowed to keep their wealth, and no harm befell them. Compared to a life in slavery on the Demon Road that awaited the other patricians, this was quite the charitable act on Milo’s part.
“Whatever the brutes may call themselves, Luco, it makes no difference to me. I’m just happy to be home.” Collio’s remarks brought a murmur of agreement from the rest of the company.
“Hear, hear!” Captain Ormorlan came swaggering down the brow of the Shadow, his rotund belly jiggling with every step. He was short and stocky with a great beard of deep red, but his arms were as hard as anchors, perfect for clapping unruly sailors on the ear. “We’re lucky enough to be home with all’r haul: there’s talk that some Westerosi noble’s bastard ‘as taken to callin’ himself King of the Stepstones. He’s plundered more than a few trade galleys already”
“King of the Stepstones? There can be no such thing. Pirates will never serve a king.” Doshuru was skeptical, and the man had a right to be given his former occupation.
Lanna put a hand on Doshuru’s massive forearm, “But it’s true, my love. They say he stole the Queen’s fleet and --”
“Magister!” The heavily accented voice of Hezzo, Milo’s steward, would come from afar. The man rode hard down the stone steps towards the party, hissing and barking commands in the Dothraki language to his stallion. The horse came to an abrupt halt before them, and Hezzo hopped off, bowing quickly.
Milo sighed, “Hezzo, you don’t need to --”
The Dothraki leapt to his feet, what few bells were in his short braid would jingle as he spoke rapidly, “My lord, something has happened. The Archon and the High Magister of Lys have declared war on Myr! The Archon has sent his armies out already, and has ordered that you oversee the defense of Tyrosh.”
Milo shared a look with his companions, before Collio stepped forward. “Zokan dares go to war without consenting you? A pox on that tyrant!” Milo shook his head, “He seeks to crush his old rival, Terro, and make an ally of Lys in the same breath.”
Syrio Zokan was an old soldier, ambitious, violent, and cruel. None could call him a coward, though. The man was a glory hound. He’d already conquered the disputed plains, including the trade city of Kylos, and had encroached on the disputed forests of Myr more than once. His thirst for blood and glory would be the death of him, of that Milo had no doubt.
Milo turned to look at Seneschal Mero, a man who was exceptionally good with numbers. “How many forces do the Myrish have at their disposal, Mero?”
Mero’s nose wrinkled as he pored over his ledger. “Thirty thousand, Lord Magister, with a fleet estimated at just under two hundred ships.”
“That’s more than Zokan, his other magisters, and Lys combined,” Areo growled.
“And more than us, Milo,” Luco spoke softly, a hint of trepidation in his voice.
“Why not disobey him, then? After all, we seek to usurp the man. Besides, this is a fool’s war, fought for trade and coin I suspect!” Collio was clearly incensed, and he had a right to be. Still, Milo shook his head.
“What does the Archonate matter if Tyrosh is burned to the ground, or militarily and economically dominated by Myr? No, I will follow through on this duty entrusted to me.” Milo turned and put a hand on Doshuru’s shoulder. “Find our friend the Hunter, you and he shall be entrusted with drilling and training our troops.”
As Milo released the massive man’s shoulder, he nodded and moved swiftly away. The young magister moved to the portly Captain Ormorlan, smiling and resting a hand on his shoulder. “Ormorlan, you have been a trusted friend since my first trading venture. I had always planned this promotion, but now I suppose it must come sooner than expected. You will be my High Admiral, now and forevermore. Get me a fleet. Whether we have to bribe merchants, buy fishing sloops, or barter for wood from the Lyseni, just make it happen.”
The captain smiled broadly, winking at Milo, “Yer a good lad, Milo. It’ll be done quicker than ye’d think.”
As the captain strode off, Lanna stepped forward. “I will go to the palace in Tyrosh and learn what I can. Expect a raven before sunset.” Milo nodded and dismissed her.
All eyes were on Milo as he scanned over the remainder of his councilors. “Now, the rest of you, let’s retire to the manse. We have much we need to talk about.”
“Die, damn you!” Doshuru’s sword cleaved through two Myrmen in a single swipe. Doshuru had no hatred for the Myrish, but he felt no sympathy for anyone that dared to interfere with Milo’s ambitions. All his life, Doshuru had been a purposeless, wayward man. Finally, he’d found someone worth dying for.
Then, he’d met Lanna, and finally, he’d found someone worth living for!
The Myrish had been overbold, he thought to himself, as his fist shot forward, crushing the throat of another foe. As he cast the body aside, he took a moment to survey the battlefield. The Myrish had launched a full scale counterattack, thinking that if they could pillage Tyrosh before Tyrosh could pillage them, they might stand a chance.
It was never going to be a fair fight. Doshuru had called up 4,500 men. The man known only as the Hunter brought just shy of 1500. Milo took half of each and sailed for Tyroshi Landing, leaving them with 3000. Together, they faced a force that Doshuru’s scouts had estimated at 8000 strong. But they’d built a number of dragon teeth on the shoreline, making it impossible for any of the Myrish cavalry to form up and charge.
His attention was returned to a squadron of soldiers charging his way. He rushed forward to greet them, running his sword through a man’s gut, before twisting and bringing the blade around to cleave off the head of another man. One soldier was foolish enough to thrust a spear at him, but the would-be-hero missed by several inches, and Doshuru rewarded him by removing his spear, along with both arms, from his control.
As Doshuru crushed the man’s head beneath his boot, one of his soldiers came running up to him, “Commander, we’ve received word from Tyroshi Landing! The Magister had driven back the Myrish, and moves to reinforce us.”
“Good,” Doshuru grunted. They’d been fighting for hours, and he felt his muscles beginning to lose their power. Doshuru leveled his blade out towards the water, “See that? They’ve let loose the sails. They’ve no intention of staying.” The sight brought a grin to the young soldier, but Doshuru wasn’t so confident; the battle was not yet won.
While the abandonment caused the left flank of the Myrish to collapse, many surrendering or trying to swim after the ships, the central and right flanks remained strong. If anything, the desperation made them all the more dangerous. A trumpeting sound caused particular concern to Doshuru.
“What was that?” His soldier looked up at him fearfully, and Doshuru’s eyes narrowed.
The doors of one of the heftier landing craft were smashed open, and from within, three massive elephants went charging forward. While the cavalry may not have been able to break through the dragon teeth, the elephants had little trouble. The first elephant was pierced by several, setting it into a rage as it knocked them aside, along with a handful of brave pikemen that tried to stop its advance. The other two elephants charged past the first, a path now cleared for their advance.
Doshuru looked left, then right, before snatching the spear from the soldier beside him. He grunted in exertion, before heaving the spear through the air. It caught the second elephant’s rider square in the chest, launching him from the dyed leather saddle with great force.
Rushing forward, Doshuru meant to meet the now riderless and directionless elephant in combat, but found himself interrupted. What was left of the Myrish cavalry had managed to form up, and moved to ride his men down through the column the elephants had made.
“Pikes, form up!” His booming voice commanded attention, and his pikemen rushed forward and closed ranks. The Myrish cavalry smashed against them, taking heavy casualties, but some managed to get through, intending to wheel around and ride them down once more.
Confusion spread rapidly amongst the barely-trained soldiers. Which direction should they face, which enemy should they target? And to top it all off, the three elephants were now barreling them down, trumpeting, stomping, and sweeping their tusks into the ranks in an attempt to destroy the defenders.
“Eyes front, take down the elephants! You three, with me!” He grabbed two pikemen and charged towards the cavalry. Only a dozen horses had made it through, and only half still had riders. A half dozen riders was more than enough to cause havoc in the ranks, though. Doshuru leapt upwards onto the back of one of the horses, thrusting his sword forward, “Run them down! Hyeah!”
The destrier launched forward into a gallop, and Doshuru got ahead of the pikemen who were rushing after him. He fell upon the cavalry before they could even finish forming up, his greatsword smiting the first man within his reach. Two other soldiers rode up to him, just in time to lift their shields to defend themselves. Doshuru thrust a hand forward, grabbing a shield and yanking it free, just in time to block the thrust of the other soldier.
He followed with a mighty throw, hitting the shieldless soldier with such force that the man crumpled and fell from his horse. Then, with his greatsword in two hands, he brought it cleaving downward. Doshuru’s opponent lifted his shield, expecting a blow that never came. Instead, the soldier gasped in surprise as he began to tip over, his now headless horse collapsing. The man’s leg was shattered in an instant, and he screamed and cursed Doshuru.
Doshuru dismounted his horse, stepping towards the downed soldier. “A knight should never kill a horse, damn you! Honorless bastard, I’ll have your h--” The soldier never finished the sentence, but Doshuru did swing the sword.
“I am no knight.”
The pikemen who had charged with him made short work of the other three riders, allowing Doshuru to redirect his attention to the elephants. The pikemen stood little chance. They’d managed to bring down the previously wounded elephant, but the other two elephants were still standing, and Doshuru watched as their tusks caused the pikemen to break ranks and flee.
“Cravens. Must I defend this entire island myself?” He called out, overcome by anger as he mounted the destrier once again and charged forward towards the elephants.
“Run for your lives!” A pikemen shouted and turned to flee, only to be crushed beneath the foot of the riderless elephant. The beast had gone into a rage, and was destroying anything it could reach. Doshuru had to put a stop to it.
Riding in a full charge, he let loose a roar, bringing his sword swinging upwards, burying it in the shoulder of the elephant. The elephant let out a trumpeted cry, before swinging its head around. The tusk impaled the destrier, hoisting it aloft. Doshuru kicked his feet free of the stirrups, leaping from the horse before it could be thrown.
The elephant swung its head once more, and Doshuru rolled forward as the horse was sundered in the air above him, showering both him and the elephant with gore. Coming out of the roll, Doshuru leaped forward, thrusting his sword forward into the open mouth of the elephant, piercing through its head. With a strange, almost sad sound, the elephant would begin to topple. Doshuru yanked his blade free and stepped backwards as the elephant crashed into the sand before him.
Doshuru stared at the other elephant, which almost looked to be in disbelief that its kin had been slaughtered. In truth, Doshuru was skeptical, too. Even more so at the fact that he may have to do it all over again. He doubted his odds, but rushed forward nonetheless.
The other elephant pawed the sand and charged, lowering its head. Before either of them got far, though, the elephant trumpeted and stepped up on its back legs as it was showered with cruel, barbed arrows. An arrow of pitch black pierced the elephant’s eye, and with a weak trumpet, the beast fell over.
Doshuru looked up to one of the sandy dunes behind him, only to see a group of archers with the Hunter at its head. The marksman gave a single nod, before disappearing from view once more. The Myrish flanks had collapsed, and the center was now in full retreat, those that had not surrendered were scampering to their landing craft and shoving off.
Once more, Doshuru surveyed the battlefield. They’d been victorious, but at a great price. He estimated four hundred men or less still remaining in the central flank. They’d began with over a thousand.
As he stared out across the bloodied sand, a red-caped rider approached him from the East. Doshuru recognized that it was Milo before he even arrived.
“Daydreaming again, Doshuru? Weren’t you supposed to be fighting?” Milo smirked, and Doshuru let a soft chuckle loose in response.
“No. I just wonder how many more battles we’ll have to fight like this before your ambitions are sated.”
The men exchanged a glance, before both their eyes turned towards the sea. The sun was beginning to set, turning the sky above as red as the sand and water below. The seagulls were already circling above, waiting for their meals.
As Milo turned and rode off, Doshuru sat down in the sand, pondering the inevitable march of time. “Ever forward,” he whispered softly, “ever forward.”