Prince Aemond Targaryen, riding on his dragon Vhagar, unleashed destruction upon various places in the Riverlands, including Darry, Lord Harroway’s Town, Lord’s Mill, Blackbuckle, Buckle, Claypool, Swynford, and Spiderwood. Meanwhile, Ser Criston Cole led his green forces southward, finding a desolate landscape marked by death.
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They encountered gruesome scenes where fallen soldiers, their armor rusting away, were left sitting beneath trees, creating a haunting tableau of a feasting army. These macabre displays became a horrifying routine for Criston and his men.
Criston’s forces faced multiple ambushes during their march, with disguised black soldiers attacking them near Crossed Elms. The river lords, led by Roderick Dustin, struck Criston’s greens between the Gods Eye and the Blackwater Rush. Criston, seeking honorable combat, challenged the river lords to single combat, but his offer was declined.
The ensuing battle, known as the Butcher’s Ball, became one of the most decisive conflicts of the Dance. In the chaos, Criston perished, and his men were brutally slaughtered by the river lords, marking a turning point in the war and a significant victory for Rhaenyra Targaryen‘s cause.
Meanwhile, Prince Daemon Targaryen resided in Maidenpool with his dragon Caraxes and his companion Nettles. Aemond continued his campaign of terror in the Riverlands, attacking places like Stonyhead, the Mountains of the Moon, Sweetwillow, and Sallydance. Each day, Caraxes and Sheepstealer searched in vain for Vhagar from their base in Maidenpool.
The Butcher’s Ball, as it came to be known, was a slaughter rather than a true battle, as noted by Ser Garibald Grey. This grim event, marked by the death of Ser Criston Cole, represented a significant turning point in favor of Rhaenyra Targaryen’s cause. Despite this victory, Prince Aemond Targaryen and King Aegon II Targaryen stood firm, carrying on the greens’ fight despite their losses.