House of Kings - The Merchant Republic of Essos

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House of Kings - The Merchant Republic of Essos

PostPosted by ICU812 » Sat Dec 31, 2016 11:40

Castarys, House of Kings

This is a living document chronicling the history of the merchant family of Castarys, traditional rulers of the Empire of Essos and known throughout the world as the House of Kings.

House Founder, Jaqen the Great, Archon of the Empire of the Step, Part 1

A Mercenary’s Life

Spoiler: show
Little is known of Jaqen Castarys’s life before he arrived in Dragonstone, walked into Lord Aegon Targaryon’s throne room and swore his fealty to House Targaryen. Whatever journals Jaqen kept before this time did not survive, and in his own memoirs Jaqen is always vague about his past, providing little but anecdotes. Any attempt to dig into his past required a great deal of deduction and no small amount of speculation.

What is known for sure is that Jaqen was of Tyroshi descent, and at some point in his youth he joined a sellsword company quickly advanced within its ranks. He was evidently a quick learner, as he become a renowned military commander in his own right by his 20s. He saw action in Essos, Westeros, Slavers Bay and even a little in the Summer Isles. Through more than a decade of war for profit, the young soldier gained a small fortune for his efforts. According to what records can be found, Jaqen was known as a very intelligent and ambitious man, very dedicated to his duty and known to wait for the right moment to strike in battle.

At some point, Jaqen came into possession of a Valyrian Steel sword, which he called Valor. Historians would later authenticate it as a sword bought as a gift for a young Valyrian Dragonlord of House Belaerys. It was thought lost in the Doom. How a landless sellsword came to own such a blade is unknown. When asked by his youngest son, the future Jaqen II, Jaqen would only say this:

“When I found that blade, I was doing something I never should have done, in a place I never should have entered, during a mission I never should have accepted. It’s not something I want to relive, my son. Better that the memories die with me. Just know that this sword is old, well-made, and saved my arrogant ass when nothing else could have. Keep it with you all your years and it might do the same for you.”

In the 7990s, the kingdom of Volantis attempted to form the Empire of New Valyria and threatened the republics of Tyrosh and Pentos. Being of Tyroshi descent, Jaqen joined his sellswords with the small alliance seeking to stop Volantine ambitions. He was present when the young Lord Aegon Targaryen of Dragonstone arrived to help defend the fragile alliance. He watched Balerion the Black Dread burn an entire fleet before it could attack Lys. When the war was won, Aegon left. And Jaqen followed soon after, leaving his life as a mercenary behind him.

Targaryen Servant

Spoiler: show
To say that Jaqen’s arrival caused a stir is an understatement. Aegon’s court was known for emphasizing noble Valyrian ancestry, and Jaqen had none. He DID, however, have a large fortune that rivaled Aegon’s. A life of successfully fighting other men’s wars and being thrifty with his purse had made Jaqen very rich. Seeing the usefulness of having a wealthy man in his court, Aegon made Jaqen a commander in his small host and put him in charge of training and equipping his army for war. The best steel and arms were purchased with Jaqen’s gold, and Jaqen taught the armies of houses Targaryen, Velyron and Celtigar to soldier in the modern era. He found their tactics and strategies to be centuries old and in need of tweaking and improvement. In this he worked closely with Orys Baratheon, Aegon’s bastard half-brother.
Jaqen quickly worked his way into the good graces of the Targaryen sisters as well. He served as Visenya’s personal sparring partner, being one of the few members of Aegon’s court who didn’t fear the Targaryen warrior’s wrath if she lost, as well as Aegon’s anger should she be harmed. Every so often they would face one another with their Valyrian Steel blades, and the entire castle would come out to watch.

It was Rhaenys who was said to enjoy his company the most of all the Targaryen siblings, however. His experiences in the Free Cities(not the battles, but the culture) fascinated her, and whenever Jaqen was free he was bound to be invited for an audience with the lady to recall an audience with the Archon of Tyrosh or the slaves in Slavers Bay. Rumors persisted that he was just another of her litany of comely men she surrounded herself with(and supposedly took to her bed), as even Jaqen’s detractors acknowledged he had an appealing appearance.

But those rumors had little basis in fact. Rhaenys’s own journal mentions that Jaqen was quickly won over by the youngest daughter of Lord Celtigar, Daella, then just a girl of seventeen. Rhaenys laments that, due to Jaqen’s landless status and a lack of name, Lord Celtigar was unwilling to allow his daughter to marry him, and Daella valued her family too much to go against her father’s wishes.

What both Rhaenys and Lord Celitgar underestimated was the patience of both Jaqen and Daella. They had decided to marry, but also agreed that they could wait. In time, Jaqen would become more than just a commander in Aegon’s host.


Spoiler: show
Jaqen took part in Aegon’s conquest, serving as one of his best commanders. First, he followed Orys Baratheon in his conquest of the Stormlands. He was there to see Orys slay Argilac Durrandon, the last Storm King. He was in war council with Orys and Rhaenys when Argella Durrandon, the last of her house, was brought to Orys naked and in chains by her traitorous bannermen.

After this he flew with Rhaenys on the back of Meraxes (the only time he ever flew on the back of a dragon) to join Aegon’s host as it confronted the kings of the Westerlands and the Reach. He witnessed the Field of Fire and the ending of House Gardener in the flames. This action in particular would haunt him even into old age.

After witnessing the end of Aegon’s conquest with the submission of the North and the Vale, Jaqen continued to serve the Targaryens. His last action as a servant of the Targaryens was to take part in the invasion of the Iron Islands, and the installation of the Greyjoys as vassal lords in 8000.

Leaving for Tyrosh, plans for the Stepstones

Spoiler: show
By 8000, Jaqen could see that his usefulness to the Targaryens was coming to an end. When he had approached them in Dragonstone, they couldn’t afford to be all that choosy about their friends. Now 6 kings owe them fealty. In time, he could see them casting him aside. Jaqen had been paid back every coin he’d spent preparing their army, and then some. He now had enough money to purchase lands and a manor in Tyrosh. He decided it was time to head home.

Aegon I wished Jaqen godspeed, regretting the loss of a good servant and a skilled commander. He even called a farewell feast the day Jaqen left for Tyrosh. A chest of gold, equal to a king's gift, was Aegon's final present to Jaqen. They parted on good terms, and Jaqen would write a yearly letter to Aegon for the rest of their lives. He'd write more often to Rhaenys about life in Tyrosh, only because he knew she'd gain pleasure from the tales. Visenya would write him one letter in 8003 to ask him the name of a particular feint move he'd taught her years ago.

Surprisingly it was Orys Baratheon who seemed to regret Jaqen's leaving the most. So much so that he asked Jaqen to visit occasionally. They'd practically be neighbors, after all. Jaqen agreed to this, and it would be a precursor to the long friendship(and later kinship) between the Baratheon and Castarys houses.

On the way to Tyrosh, Jaqen's ship was attacked by pirates from the Stepstones. Jaqen personally fought with boarders who tried to capture the ship. Their attack was repelled and Jaqen and the rest of the passengers escaped capture. Jaqen's hatred of and distaste for piracy began that day. He became so incensed that a plan formed in his mind. He would take the Stepstones for his own. He asked for every map the captain had of the Stepstones, and estimated that it wouldn't take an overly large army to conquer them all, so long as there was a navy to support it. 10,000 men and 100 ships should be enough, so long as he struck at the right time.

The day after, Jaqen stated his intentions in his journal:

If the people here lay claim to anything they can take, I will take everything they lay claim to.

When he arrived in Tyrosh, Jaqen paid nearly half his fortune for the lordship of Little Tyrosh. After this, he purchased land for a mansion which he immediately began expanding. already commanding nearly half the men he figured would be needed to take the Stepstones, he knew he was well on his way to accomplishing his goal. In time, he would build up a force large enough to take the Stepstones. And eventually form an empire.

But he would not do any of this without the woman he loved. Once the purchase of his lands in Little Tyrosh was confirmed in writing, Jaqen traveled Claw Isle and asked Daella Celtigar’s father for her hand. Seeing that having a Tyroshi merchant for a son-in-law would be advantageous for a poor lord such as himself, Lord Celtigar agreed.
On new years day 8001, Jaqen arrived in Little Tyrosh possessing a Valyrian Steel sword, a fortune rivaling any Archon’s and the woman of his dreams. This would be the start of the Castarys Dynasty.



Coming up next.....

The beginning of Jaqen's rise to power in Tyrosh.
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Re: House of Kings - The Merchant Republic of Essos

PostPosted by ICU812 » Wed Jan 04, 2017 05:02

House Founder, Jaqen the Great, Archon of the Empire of the Step, Part 2

An interlude about Jaqen and the Seven

Spoiler: show
No chronicle of Jaqen's early reign can be explained without first explaining his religion.

It must be noted that at the time Jaqen lived, even after he became Archon of the Step, the Tyroshi didn’t see religion the same way as many throughout Westeros, or even the rest of the Free Cities. There was no established religion. Sure, there was the three-headed god of Trios, which featured on the country’s flag. It had more followers in Tyrosh than any other religion, but was by no means the religious majority in the country. R’hllor has his temples and red priests there as well. Also the moonsingers have their fans in Tyrosh. Even a few Septons wandered the streets in those day, preaching to the heathens. Most every religion currently practiced in the Free Cities, Westeros and the Summer Isles could be found practiced somewhere in Tyrosh. From a business perspective, it helps to keep an open mind about religion. And Tyrosh is a business as much as a country.

Jaqen’s stance on religion made him something of a pariah when he first took residence in Little Tyrosh. He was a practitioner, and a dutiful one at that, of the Faith of the Seven. It was not an unheard of religion, obviously, but certainly not one typically practiced among the Tyroshi elite. Those with status tended to acknowledge Trios as the head diety of the country. Those that knew of Jaqen’s stance on the matter usually treated him with contempt or mild curiosity. It was not a helpful stance to take at the time, so why did Jaqen do it? He was never known as a particularly zealous man, though he actively encouraged his count priests to spread the Faith amongst he smallfolk and was known to be happy to hear of conversions. Within 5 years, most of Little Tyrosh accepted Jaqen’s position on the matter and a majority of the small island worshiped the seven-aspects of the god of the Andals.

What religion Jaqen was raised in is unknown, and what his thoughts were on religion during his time as a sellsword is likewise a mystery. But given his ancestry it’s doubtful he knew much about the Faith before Aegon’s conquest. We do know that, like the rest of Aegon’s court, he acknowledged the faith and pledged himself to the Seven, following his liege’s decision on the matter. The High Septon himself anointed him with oil during his knighting, just as he did for Aegon the Conqueror and Orys Baratheon in their respective conversions. But his own views on the faith were a mystery.
So why is it that Jaqen I would choose the Seven-pointed star to place at his family alter?

It may have been the fact that he was WAS knighted that convinced Jaqen to stick with the faith. Chances are that it was the first public honor he had ever received. And the words he spoke during the knighting ceremony(swearing to be just, protect the innocent, be brave, etc) are not words expected of a sellsword, and Jaqen could have refused the honor. He may have desired the improved status of knighthood. He may have not wanted to refuse such an honor from Aegon I. And he may have been moved by a sense of honor and purpose that until that point in his life, he had lacked. But whatever his reasons for accepting being knighted, by all accounts he did try to live up to them, even when his actions seemed to fly in the face of them. This shows that on some level he still respected the words he had sworn.

But by far the most likely reason for Jaqen remaining with the Faith of the Seven, even after he returned to the Free Cities, was that his wife's own dedication to the Faith. Jaqen honored and acknowledged the Seven. But it was Daella who truly worshiped them. How she came to be so zealous for the Seven is detailed in her journals and letters over a long period of time. Claw Isle was closer in proximity to mainland Westeros than the rest of Aegon’s lands, and was full of smallfolk who worshipped the Seven. She became convinced over the course of her childhood that the one true god was that of the Seven.

Daella often wrote of her wish that Jaqen would convert. It became one of the few qualms she had about accepting his proposal. She felt that marrying a man who did not worship the same gods would be problematic for her. But, having few options within the court of Aegon I, she chose the man who made her the most happy.

The day Daella received word from Jaqen that he had been knighted, and would from that day forward accept her gods as his, nothing is written in her diary other than a few crossed-out scratches and wrinkled parchment indicative of tears. The day after, she could express nothing but joy and wonderment. She had received an answer to a prayer she had been praying for many years. And she wrote of anxious anticipation of seeing her beloved again. The day she did, she wrote these words,

“He looked so HANDSOME. His hair was delightfully green, far brighter than I've ever seen it. It seemed like the dyes he used almost glittered. His new armor was intricate and accentuated his knightly figure. But more than that, he walked stronger, his head was higher, his eyes were more alive than ever before. I asked him how he felt since his knighting. He said he felt no different. But I knew he was changed. He might not have felt it himself, but I knew it. I felt a wanting for him I hadn’t felt since the night he first proposed. If there were ever a moment I would have broken my vows of maidenhood before our marriage, it would have been that moment. Luckily Jaq's sense kicked in before mine did. He said that I would have regretted it afterwards. And he was right. It won't stop me from thinking of that moment tonight, though.”

Jaqen’s Liege, Archon Myrmellos Zokan

Spoiler: show
Jaqen’s immediate concerns upon first establishing his house in the politics of Tyrosh was to first make himself indispensable to his liege. To that end, Jaqen accepted the position of General of Tyrosh. He quickly excelled at his job, raising new troops and training them for war.

The Archon of Tyrosh at that time was Archon Myrmello of House Zokan, a well-established house in Tyroshi politics. Though he hid it well at court, Jaqen’s opinion of Myrmello was made very clear in his journals.

“How a man so ruthlessly ambitious could be so ineffectively lazy, I’ll never understand. If he were more competent as a military commander or more diligent as a man, I’d be willing to call him able. But ambition only serves you if you are willing to back it up with hard work. Ruthlessness serves you only if you can stir yourself to act. Only his constant lies serve him as a politician. But lies eventually recede to truth. Eventually even the nobility will realize what a fool they serve, even if it is only after the man passes. But by the Seven, the man is only 40. It could be twenty years or more before his death heralds a new election. If I must serve a lesser man, must it be for so long? I’m a patient man. I MUST be, if I am to bear serving such a slothful idiot.”


First inroads into the Stepstones

Spoiler: show
While serving his liege, Jaqen put his wife to work raising an army to make their first inroads into the Stepstones. At this, her military aptitude served her well. As a knight, she was endowed with the power to raise any lowborn son or daughter of merit to a position fitting their abilities.

One of Daella’s first actions was to call for a Tourney at Little Tyrosh. Any fighter throughout the realm of Tyrosh was allowed to compete. When she looked over many of the winners of the various events, she began picking out commanders who would serve Jaqen’s army. All of Jaqen’s early military commanders came from this tournament. Terro, Mero, Allaquo and Groleo were their names. All lowborn men of Tyroshi descent who had success that day. Each accepted the Seven as their faith and Jaqen as their worldly lord in exchange for knighthood and military commands, and the status they provided.

With these commanders, Daella trained Jaqen’s armies to conquer their first island in the Stepstones. It took a year for Jaqen and Daella to pick the ground for their first invasion.

Bloodstone was Jaqen’s choice. The Skulls and Dark Den might have been closer, but Bloodstone was nestled between three other islands, making it an excellent first staging point.

Wreckstone, meanwhile, was Daella’s pick. The advantage it held was being directly in the center of all the Stepstones, and an place to invade anywhere else in their future conquests.

Jaqen argued against taking Wreckstone first, as their armies would have to proceed unmolested through the waterways of Bloodstone in order to get to Wreckstone, so Bloodstone would have to be taken beforehand.

It was then that Daella would make the bold claim that the army she had trained could take both. Jaqen, impressed at his wife’s claim, finally gave her his permission to launch the invasion. Daella set off for Bloodstone and Wreckstone with 5000 men on October 6th, 8001.

The war was over quickly, and with little bloodshed on the part of Jaqen’s forces. Both Bloodstone and Wreckstone’s best ships and men were off raiding, leaving their port cities and forts relatively unprotected. Within months, Jaqen was the acknowledged Lord of the Central Stepstones, a position that afforded him great prestige and power.

Stabilizing rule over the Central Stepstones

Spoiler: show
In a decree across his new lands, Jaqen wrote,

“Your god cannot be plunder. You law cannot be theft. Any who convert from these things shall be pardoned for all previous crimes and given mercy in the name of the Mother. Any who refuse belong in the seven hells, and will be sent there immediately.”

With these words, Jaqen made it clear that piracy was not to be tolerated. Any man or woman who refused to forswear, forever, their ways of piracy, he executed without trial. This made his first few months of rule in the Central Stepstones fairly brutal. Daella was personally sent to suppress any attempt at revolt, even as she bore her first child, a son she and her husband named Denyo.

After all unconverted adults had fled or been killed, Jaqen saught to care for the surviving children of the Stepstones. He decided that they would be raised by the Faith. For this, Jaqen imported many new Septons and even more Septas from the Stormlands and Dorne.

Within ten years, this produced great dividends, with a populace of grown men and women who remembered poverty and cruelty from their pirate lords, and great charity and kindness from Jaqen and ‘mother Septas’, specifically recruited Septas who cared for the children left from the Pirate lords and their crews. Such septas would sometimes care for up to 30 children in their many orphanages, which took a great deal of Jaqen’s income to fund. Bloodstone and Wreckstone would produce little in the way of wealth and manpower for many years. But it was a start.


Coming up next...

Two wars and an assassination.
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Re: House of Kings - The Merchant Republic of Essos

PostPosted by ICU812 » Sat Jan 14, 2017 02:29

House Founder, Jaqen the Great, Archon of the Empire of the Step, Part 3

The Cruelty of Myrmello the Depraved

Spoiler: show
Two years passed after Jaqen’s conquering of the Central Stepstones. In that time, his liege gained a new religion. And a nickname: Myrmello the Depraved.


At first, Jaqen saw nothing inherently wrong with his liege's newfound worship of the Lord of Light. Jaqen's own faith boiled down to one god. There was little piont in debate over another man's version of this own god.

But this conversion brought with it a change in Myrmello. Whatever restraint of kindness or human decency had once existed within the man was soon gone. Jaqen would find him needlessly berating servants that, only a year ago he would have simply dismissed with a short reproof. And soon there was more evidence that something had changed than just how he treated his servants.

Whispers of Myrmello’s behavior towards his prisoners and slaves were just rumors, at first. Needless torture of dissidents. Wanton maiming of those without any power. Midnight visits to the dungeon to hear the moans of dying men. These were only whispered in certain company, and quiet hushed by those with any sense. Jaqen found himself too busy improving the garrisons and levies in Tyrosh to pay attention to such things at first. But soon enough, even Jaqen became aware of my Myrmello had gained the new nickname ‘the Depraved’. The specifics of what Jaqen observed, he never revealed. But in her diary, his wife wrote,

“It appears that Myrmello has changed. He’d always been a ruthless man, but always with purpose. He always had a reason, and he never engaged in wanton cruelty. Jaq says that you cannot sleep in the palace antmore without being woken up by the screams of people in the dungeons. Even the wardens and inquisitors have had their stomachs tested by what they have been ordered to do. Jaq says that only the executioners seem glad to perform their duties. I want him home. He hasn’t even had time to see Roggo since the new year. His second son might have my hair, but he has his father’s eyes.”

An Unjust War

Spoiler: show

In December 8003, Tyrosh’s armies invaded the Summer Isles suddenly and without warning or preamble. Their purpose was only to plunder and raid for human cargo. The men and ships Jaqen and dutifully been preparing for his country were now being used to put innocent people in chains. In his letters to his wife, he voiced his disgust, but accepted that he had a duty to his liege. In response, Daella asked him why his duty to his worldly lord superseded that of his gods. Jaqen never responded on that count, but his actions soon demonstrated that he understood his wife’s point.

Jaqen continued to serve as Marshall of Tyrosh until his conscience could no longer bear it. This finally happened in late January, just a few days after Jaqen observed the first shiploads of new slaves come into Tyrosh harbor, along with the death counts from every regiment of troops that Jaqen had trained the last two years.

Jaqen had had enough. Packing what few belongings had had taken with him, he quietly resigned and left in the middle of the night.

A Dead Archon

Spoiler: show
Jaqen arrived home quiet and reserved, and remained so for months. What he did during this time, and what he said in the many letters he sent, he never revealed. Nothing has ever been proven about his activities during this time. Even his journal remains blank.

The following information can only be supposed, given the events that followed.

We know that Jaqen engaged in an extended correspondence with at least two other heads of merchant families, specifically Magister Mero of Vysos Plains and Magister Gyleno of Kylos.

We know that a great conspiracy amongst the palace staff was talked about. Few gave it any credence, given the number of people that were supposedly involved.

We know that whatever funds his fellow magisters had sunk into their campaign warchests were soon withdrawn.

We know that Archon Myrmello left his palace on a short carriage ride to the capital city, and left the city in the early evening.

We know that at some point a group of archers ambushed his carriage and pierced him with at least three arrows, killing him instantly.

We know that the carriage driver, a life-long servant of the Archon, was left unharmed by the attack and drove the carriage straight back to the capital with his master’s warm body still inside.

We know that within a week, Jaqen was elected with overwhelming support to the office of Archon of Tyrosh.

We know that no person ever admitted to taking any part in the attack, nor was much of an investigation done into who was behind it. It was accepted fact that there were too many suspects to narrow the search down anyway.

We know that few mourned the ending of Myrmello the Depraved. There was an understanding amongst even his close relatives that his death was a blessing to the realm.

Now, whether Jaqen ordered the assassination of his predecessor is up for debate. Whether anyone cared if he had or not isn’t. There were open praises to the gods sent out in the streets after the news was spread. The Tyroshi generals(many of whom served under Jaqen when he was marshal) in the Summer Isles all wrote their congratulations and oaths of allegiance to their new Archon.






The Price of Peace

Spoiler: show
Jaqen’s first order of business was to make peace with the Summer Isles. To that end, he contacted his generals and told them to wave flags of truce to the people they had been slaughtering, and to give their rulers a set of signed contracts stating Jaqen’s intention to offer just recompense for his predecessor’s actions against them.

Once Jaqen had done this, he contacted the Iron Bank of Braavos. He didn’t know how much the rulers of the Summer Isles would ask for, and Jaqen’s personal fortune had long since been used for his campaigns and reconstruction efforts in the Stepstones.

When the peace accord was signed a few months later, Jaqen gained the peace he wished for, but was in debt to Braavos for a tidy sum he knew would take years to pay off. But he estimated that at his current income as Archon, he would be able to pay it off before the Bank would come asking for what was due to them.

The Subjugation of the Stepstones

Spoiler: show
Jaqen had never intended for himself to reach the office of Archon so quickly. But now that he was there, there was much he wanted to do.

His first priority was to accomplish what he had envisioned for himself ever since he had come to Tyrosh. The Stepstones would be part of Tyrosh before a year was out.

Jaqen gave orders to his generals that as soon as their troops returned to Tyrosh, they would embark on a campaign to end piracy in their waters.

The campaign was swift and brutal. Many pirate lords had seen Jaqen’s actions as inevitable ever since his initial foray into the Stepstones two years earlier. None surrendered, of course. But some had prepared themselves admirably. But Jaqen’s army was like nothing they had ever encountered.

Within a year, the Stepstones were under the thumb of Tyrosh’s Archon, and he had forged a crown of nine gems, one for every island in the Stepstones.


Organization of the Stepstones

Spoiler: show
Once the Stepstones had been conquered, Jaqen set about ruling them. His first intent was to find Lysene men who were capable enough to rule within the islands. He felt that Tyrosh lords was be unsuited to ruling over the newly conquered people, so it was better for their own kind of oversee the new provinces.

It was several years before the provinces had been evenly divided among three dukes, one in the North, one in the South and one in the West, each governing over their part of the isles. Jaqen kept Bloodstone and Wreckstone for himself, feeling that Wreckstone in particular served as an excellent future capital of the Stepstones.

A Peaceful reign

Spoiler: show
10 years would come and go in Tyrosh. They would be among the most peaceful and uneventful in Jaqen I’s reign. The commonfolk knew that their realm was protected by an able general and administrator who passed few laws, published even fewer edicts and generally left them be.

The nobles, for their part, were divided on the subject. Some malcontents, paticularily those who were up for election upon Jaqen’s death, felt he had usurped his throne and plotted to take it from him. Their plots were in vain, however. Jaqen’s hold on the Stepstones and his own lands was too powerful, and popular support amongst the soldiers prevented them from ever staging a military coup that could have threatened him. And Jaqen was far too careful of plots and intrigue to be caught off guard like Myrmello had been.



Coming up next....

An empire is forged.
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Re: House of Kings - The Merchant Republic of Essos

PostPosted by Bl4ckwyn3 » Sat Jan 14, 2017 12:59

Nice Story so far! Enjoyed reading it, Keep it comming :D
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Joined: Sat Jul 16, 2016 01:18

Re: House of Kings - The Merchant Republic of Essos

PostPosted by ICU812 » Wed Feb 01, 2017 02:45

House Founder, Jaqen the Great, Archon of the Empire of the Step, Part 4

A ‘peaceful’ decade.

Spoiler: show
It is true that Jaqen didn’t have 12 years of TOTAL peace between 8005 and 8017. There was the occasional raid from the Corsairs and the Ironborn that needed dealing with. And small rebellions would crop up from time to time.
It 8010, in fact, Pentos declared war over a trade post Jaqen had set up at Storm’s End.

Jaqen shocked everyone when he immediately surrendered his trade post and allowed them to take hold of it without a fight.

Many saw this as an act of weakness by the Archon. Jaqen, however, saw it as mere practicality.
In his journal, he wrote,

“We are still weak. It’s only been five years since I conquered the Stepstones. They have not been at war for a decade, whilst we are still replacing those we lost taking the Stepstones. Many of the fortresses we sacked during their subjugation are only half built and half garrisoned. I’ve looked over my generals’ reports, and I know I do not have enough troops to fight a war with Pentos.

But more than that, how can I justify the deaths of my soldiers over a small trade post, albeit a profitable one? I can’t. My finances can take the hit. But if I waste my soldiers in a war I cannot win, my supposed weakness would be obvious for all to see.

I shall instead pursue diplomacy. I will ensure that, in exchange for my giving up trade rights in Shipbreaker Bay, Pentos shall not raise arms against me so long as I reign in Tyrosh. This will be my treaty. I pray to the Seven faces of God that they accept. If they do not, I will be fighting a war of attrition that I know I cannot win.”

Pentos, seeing the quick advancement of riches from the Stormlands with little trouble to them, accepted Jaqen’s generous offer of peace. And so seven more years came and went in Tyrosh with little war or hardship.

Peace broken

Spoiler: show
Sooner or later someone was bound to test Jaqen’s strength in a real war. That time came when Lys invaded Tyrosh in 8017. The war was over Wreckstone, Jaqen’s pet project in the Stepstones. He had spent a decade preparing the small island to serve as a capital for any future Lord Jaqen would install to oversee the islands. It was well situated and quickly prospering into a trade hub. And Magister Sullheim Ormollen of Lys desired the fruits of Jaqen’s labor.

Under normal circumstances, Jaqen would have been glad to have peace with the Magister of Lys. In his journal, Jaqen wrote,

"When last I spoke with the Magister of Lys, we spoke of peace and trade. Now we are at war. I've known him for years, and known him to be a kind, charitable man. Why he has chosen war over peace is something I don't think I will ever understand.

What I DO understand is that he has chosen the wrong enemy."


Jaqen responded quickly and ruthlessly. He knew that Lys had a numbers advantage of roughly 3000 men. What he also knew is that Tyrosh had greater wealth. Enough that, if Jaqen took another loan from the Iron Bank, he could pay it off very easily, so long as he won the war.

So for the second time in his life, Jaqen asked the Iron Bank for a loan. It was quickly granted, and Jaqen purchased the contracts of several mercenary armies. Nearly 10000 mercenaries joined Jaqen’s already substantial levies.
The stage was set for a war, and more specifically a battle, that would define Jaqen’s military career.


Valor and Truth, the Battle of Shame Isle

Spoiler: show
At the outset of the war, in addition to being suddenly outnumbered, Magister Sullheim of Lys made a severe strategical mistake. Dividing his forces, he sent more than 6000 men into the Stepstones to conquer the islands, then send the rest of his forces to conquer the Tyrosh disputed lands.

Jaqen, meanwhile, gathered all of his forces on ships in Tyrosh harbor. Once he knew that Sullheiim’s invasion force had landed on Shame Isle, Jaqen knew that he could secure certain victory in this war in one swift stroke. He ordered his fleet to set sail for Shame Isle with his entire fighting force, 24,000 men strong. Jaqen led the force personally, taking his eldest son, Denyo, along with him.


The Battle of Shame Isle would be the moment Jaqen earned the moniker that would follow him the rest of his life, and into eternity. After this event, he would be known as 'Jaqen 'the Great'. A fitting title for a man who made Tyrosh more than a trader's paradise. He made it a world power. But earning this honor was no picnic.

The leader of the Lysene forces on Shame Isle was Lord Master Doniphos Rogare of Silkhead. He was known as a diplomat, and not a great one at that. His skill at commanding men was marginal at best, and Jaqen easily outmaneuvered him on the field. But during the battle, Doniphos showed his mettle in personal combat. His habit of dueling men over points of honor served him well in a fight, and he held his own against the best of Jaqen’s troops. But more than just his skill and talent, Doniphos carried with him a Valyrian Steel blade, an ancient heirloom of his house. He called it Truth, and it served him well.


In the chaos of battle, Jaqen and Doniphos found themselves facing one another. Jaqen’s bodyguard on the field was Iggi, a slave he had freed many years ago. To pay her debt, she had sworn herself to his service, protecting him with her blade and body. This oath would cost Iggi her life when she stepped between Jaqen and Doniphos. She fell to the Lysene duelist’s Valyrian Steel blade after a short duel.

Jaqen never wrote of the duel that followed. But his eldest son Denyo, a 16-year old squire at the time, witnessed the whole thing, and later wrote to his mother about the details after she demanded the truth of the tale from him.
Here is the letter in its entirety,


“Dear mother, I hope this letter finds you, S’vone, Jaqea and Jaqen all well. Know that father and I are still unharmed. I have had little time to write, since we have pursued the Lysene invasion force since our attack to relieve Shame City. We are all tired, as are our foes. But we know that the Lysene troops will seek to gain an edge if we do not chase them.

Per your request, I will relate to you Iggi’s death and father’s duel with the Lyseni general.

We landed on Shame Isle at midday. We engaged the opposing army before our troops were all off the ships. Their numbers may have been smaller, but they caught us before we had fully marshaled our forces.

Father, Iggi and I were separated from Ser Mero and Ser Allaquo in the fighting. We came face to face with the opposing general. Father demanded his surrender, but he refused. Iggi stepped between father and the general. She managed to cut him on the leg before he dispatched her. Her death was quick, if that is any comfort. The general focused on father again, and I tried to fulfill my duty as his bodyguard, but father pushed me back.

Their duel was not a long one. Father tried to convince the man to surrender before they crossed blades. The general refused. Father then exploited his wounded leg and fought through the man’s defensive stance. The general tried to stop father’s follow-through with his left arm. Against a normal blade, his vambrace might have been enough. But Valor cut through it like an axe through rotten wood. His arm from just below the elbow lay at his feet.

Again, father asked the man to surrender. But the man replied that it was ‘Just a flesh wound.’

Father showed him no mercy after that. With one arm, the man stood no chance. His death was as quick as Iggi’s. Do not believe the tales of a vast, hour-long duel. It was hardly so epic. The fight was quick and brutal.

But the generals death had an immediate effect on his soldiers. His men fled the field in short order, and the battle was ours.

Father has ordered the general’s body back to his family, but he took the man’s Valyrian Steel blade for himself. I asked him why, and father said that ‘He attacked our lands and tried to take what was ours. So I’m taking what was his.’

This is a faithful account of the duel. I hope it has satisfied your desire for the truth. Considering the things I have heard the soldiers saying about the duel, I have no doubt that Truth is hard to find.

…..I’ll shut up now.

Sincerely, your devoted son, Denyo"


The rest of the war proceeded quickly. With a force of 22,000 men outside of Lys’s harbor, Magister Sullheim surrendered. With this victory in a defensive war, Jaqen dispelled any rumors of weakness or cowardice after his surrender to Pentos in 8010.


Opportunity in rebellion

Spoiler: show
In 8023, a remarkable rebellion took place in Lys. Their capital was taken over by an upstart peasant named Denyo. A cruel and opportunistic man, he clearly saw a chance to seize power after his Magister’s defeat in Tyrosh.
In mere months Denyo conquered Lys and robbed Magister Sullheim of the seat of his power.


In the aftermath of this, Jaqen immediately ordered an invasion of the island. Within months Lys was under Tyroshi control. Realizing that an empire was well within his grasp, Jaqen set his sights on the rest of Lys.


But in his way stood old allies.

The Targaryens.


Coming up next…

Meetings with old friends and the founding of an empire.
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