A Fleet of Foes
Well, I'm not going to stand for that, not after all the trouble taking The Paps caused in the first place. Of course, being Lord Paramount, Mathis has a number of allies. I have an ally too. You may have heard of him? King Michael Waters of the Iron Throne? It doesn't matter that The Vale is independent because King Michael is my father-in-law. He'll fight for me.
I declare war on The Reach for the Paps. A split-second later, however, The Riverlands declares war on the Iron Throne. Sigh. It appears King Michael will be a little too busy to send any help my way. I hire a sellsword infantry to boost my numbers, but before they arrive I notice Mathis has sent for help. 33 ships from the Reach arrive on Sunset Keep, where I’ve been waiting for the mercenaries to march over from my other island, Pebble. There’s only about 1,500 soldiers enemy soldiers in Sunset Keep, versus my almost 3,000. Still, they manage to turn the tide and whittle down my numbers before help can arrive. The sellswords join me just before I’m defeated, and the Reach army retreats.
As we march to The Paps, Mathis raises his own levies and we clash on the tiny island. Bolstered by mercs, we force Mathis to retreat and begin sacking the stronghold. Then, some very bad news. A full 7,000 Reach soldiers appear from the west and join up with the retreating army of Mathis. They begin sacking Sunset Keep.
Mathis leaves 1,500 men behind to continue the siege, and the rest of his soldiers arrive on The Paps. I don’t have enough gold to buy another squad of mercs, and even if I did, they still wouldn’t be enough. Mathis tears my army to shreds.
Kicked off the island, we march to Sunset Keep, hoping to at least prevent it from being sacked by the forces there. We fail, again, and are forced to retreat to Snakewood with only 500 soldiers left. My only hope is to offer peace and try to save Sunset Keep. It’ll cost me 200 prestige, and as teenager I haven’t even gained that much, but no one will answer my calls for help. I have to straight up surrender. I’m broke, I’m at negative prestige, and I’ve lost The Paps.
Just to rub it in, Mathis—who by taking over The Paps has actually become my vassal—does not vote for my son Nobbrick to inherit The Fingers. He votes for himself. I'm forced to generate a new ally the old-fashioned way: I become pregnant again.
My liege abruptly dies, and we have a new Lord Paramount named Paxter. Hilariously, Paxter's very first act as new Lord Paramount of The Vale is to immediately declare war on Mathis of The Paps. Works for me! I’m not sure this will personally get me The Paps, back but at least Mathis won’t keep it either. I drag my exhausted, humiliated handful of soldiers out of their shops and stables and press them back into service.
Mathis marches off The Paps and starts sacking Sunset Keep again, and my small forces can’t repel him. I notice with some alarm that most of Paxter's soldiers are actually headed south to meet the Reach army that’s arriving to back up Mathis, but enough of them rush Sunset Keep to chase Mathis’ forces back to The Paps. A fleet of 93 galleys from The Reach skims by, heading for The Sisters, the island chain to the north. It looks like they’re trying to attack from all sides. This is quickly becoming a full blown war.
4,100 soldiers from The Reach land on Bite Coast and begin marching inland. Meanwhile, down at Bloodgate, the entrance to The Vale, the bulk of the Valeman army outnumber the Reach soldiers 3 to 1 and win a decisive victory. The soldiers from The Reach begin sacking Heart's Home, as two thousand more hurry over to bolster them.
In the midst of all this, another war begins. Dornish Spearmen have chosen this moment to invade the Vale. They’ve decided to start their invasion in Sunset Keep, naturally, but having just dispensed of most of The Reach soldiers, 17,000 Valemen quickly put a stop to that. Meanwhile, I’m still trying to sack The Paps with only a handful of men, and it's taking ages. Thankfully, Paxter himself, and 8,000 of his men, are on the way.
While my army struggles to take back The Paps, I’m in Pebble giving birth to my second son, who I name Needrick. I figure someday when he’s my brother and not my son, he’ll be very needy. As I'm wiping gunk off my newborn baby, my Master of Whispers strolls in and is all, "Hi, hope you enjoyed your four minutes of maternity leave." It seems there’s a plot underway to usurp my liege Paxter and replace him with someone named Lyonel, and I’ve been invited to join it. The plot has been hatched by Lord Branston of Coldwater Burn, which complicates things.
Coldwater Burn, see, is the piece of land I have to physically walk my armies through anytime I need to leave Pebble, Wycliffe, or Midlor point. If I make them my enemies, I'd basically have to go to war just to step out my front door. Plus, the lords from Runestone, Scorched Vale, and Crab’s Shore are all on board. Still, I don't want to revolt against Paxter when he's actively trying to reclaim my lost island. I tell Branston I'm not interested.
The news isn't taken well. Coldwater Burn, led by Lord Lyonel himself, immediately invades Wycliffe with 1,000 men and sends another 550 into Pebble. I’m not worried: Lord Paxter has 8,000 of his men currently standing on The Paps. Surely, he’ll leap to defend my home!
Paxter doesn't leap. Paxter doesn't do anything. He just stands on The Paps with his 8,000 men. Dude. Hello? I’m trying to put down a rebellion against you. Help? Help!
Paxter doesn’t help.