Ser Otto Hightower, acting as the Hand of the King, embarked on a campaign to secure support for King Aegon II during the Dance of the Dragons. He employed various strategies, including winning lords’ loyalty, hiring sellswords, fortifying King’s Landing’s defenses, and seeking alliances with influential regions.
Ravens were dispatched to Winterfell, the Eyrie, Riverrun, White Harbor, Gulltown, Bitterbridge, Fair Isle, and many other seats, urging their allegiance to King Aegon. Additionally, riders were sent to nearby holdings, summoning lords and ladies to court to pledge fealty.
Despite their previous conflicts with Daemon in the War for the Stepstones, Ser Otto’s efforts extended to Dorne. However, Prince Qoren Martell declined to participate, frustrating Aegon’s plans.
Aegon II grew increasingly anxious after the fall of Harrenhal and defeats at the Burning Mill and Stone Hedge. His concerns deepened when prominent Reach lords, including Costayne, Mullendore, Tarly, Rowan, and Grimm, declared their support for Rhaenyra, causing division among the Reach lords.
Even the castellan, steward, and mother of the young Lord Tyrell, acting as regents, refused to back Aegon II. In response, Ser Otto instructed his nephew, Lord Ormund Hightower, to quell the rebellions in the Reach.
Aegon faced further setbacks as both the Vale and the North rejected his cause. Additionally, merchants complained about the closure of Blackwater Bay by the Sea Snake‘s fleets, adding to the challenges faced by Aegon II’s reign.
After his attempts to secure Dalton Greyjoy’s support went unanswered, Ser Otto Hightower turned to the Kingdom of the Three Daughters. He offered them exclusive trading rights in King’s Landing and even promised to cede the Stepstones, despite the Iron Throne’s previous lack of claim over them, in exchange for clearing the Gullet of the Velaryon fleet.
The Triarchy, however, moved slowly due to decisions resting with a High Council. Aegon II grew impatient with the delay and dismissed his grandfather as Hand of the King, turning to Ser Criston Cole for counsel.
Under Ser Criston’s advice, Aegon II labeled those who refused him fealty as traitors. All imprisoned supporters of Rhaenyra were brought to the Red Keep’s yard. Before the King’s Justice and his axe, each prisoner was given a final chance to swear allegiance to Aegon II.
Only Lords Butterwell, Stokeworth, and Rosby bent the knee, while Lords Hayford, Merryweather, Harte, Buckler, Caswell, and Lady Fell remained loyal to Rhaenyra’s cause. They, along with eight landed knights and many servants, were beheaded. Their severed heads were then displayed on spikes above the gates of King’s Landing as a grim warning to those who opposed Aegon II.