The fall of Harrenhal and the Battle of the Burning Mill marked a sobering realization for young King Aegon II. While House Hightower of Oldtown and House Redwyne of the Arbor remained staunch supporters of Aegon, the tides of allegiance were shifting.
Lord Owen Costayne of Three Towers, Lord Mullendore of Uplands, Lord Alan Tarly of Horn Hill, Lord Thaddeus Rowan of Goldengrove, and Lord Grimm of Greyshield, along with the Vale of Arryn, White Harbor, Winterfell, the Blackwoods, and other riverlords, declared their loyalty to Rhaenyra, coalescing their forces at Harrenhal.
Back to the Main Article: Dance of the Dragons Explained
Recognizing Daemon as Rhaenyra’s vulnerability, Ser Otto Hightower sought to exploit an old grudge between Daemon and the Kingdom of the Three Daughters across the narrow sea. He hoped to use them as a weapon against Corlys Velaryon, Rhaenyra’s staunch supporter. Aegon II’s patience wore thin, leading to Otto’s dismissal as Hand of the King. Ser Criston Cole assumed the role in his place and deemed swift action necessary. Aegon responded by sacking Duskendale, and Lord Darklyn, a Rhaenyra supporter, was executed.
Criston then focused his attention on Rook’s Rest, a stronghold pledged to Rhaenyra by House Staunton. Defying his attackers, Lord Staunton sent a desperate raven to Dragonstone. Princess Rhaenys swiftly arrived on her dragon, Meleys, but Criston’s forces engaged the dragon fiercely in the Battle at Rook’s Rest in 129 AC.
Sunfyre and Vhagar faced off a thousand feet in the air in the epic clash above Rook’s Rest. Meleys’s powerful jaws closed around Sunfyre’s neck, leading to a devastating collision where all three dragons plummeted to the ground. When the smoke cleared, only Vhagar emerged from the ashes. Sunfyre’s wing was mangled, and his rider, King Aegon II, suffered multiple broken bones and severe burns. Tragically, Rhaenys was found charred beside the fallen Meleys.
Following the battle, Prince Aemond and Criston took control of Rook’s Rest, putting the garrison to the sword. The head of Meleys was macabrely brought back to King’s Landing, striking fear into the hearts of the smallfolk and prompting thousands to flee until Dowager Queen Alicent barred the city gates.
Aegon was transported back to King’s Landing, where masters tended to his grievous wounds as he slumbered under the influence of milk of the poppy. Sunfyre, too large to be relocated and unable to fly, remained at Rook’s Rest, guarded to ensure his safety and sustenance. With Aegon incapacitated, Aemond assumed the title of Protector of the Realm.