Alannys Harlaw was the youngest child and only daughter born to Harmund Harlaw, the Master of the Tower of Glimmering, and his rock wife, Larra Stonetree. She inherited her titles following the untimely death of Lord Qhorwyn Harlaw, and had since ruled over the island of Harlaw from her seat at the Ten Towers.
After the Mummer's War had come to an end, she married the newly named Lord Reaper of Pyke, Dagon Greyjoy, and joined his court to rule the Islands together. They were swift to enact reforms and efficient in serving justice, and within a few years, they had restored order and brought forth an era of peace and prosperity to the Iron Islands.
Regarded as an equal to her husband for her martial prowess and astute diplomacy, the Lady of Harlaw had been a key figure in restoring the prestige of House Greyjoy and strengthening its ties with the mainland. She was a leader well-liked by her subjects, and she had come to enjoy the respect and admiration of her peers.
Alannys was the head of House Harlaw from 407 to 433 AC. She had captained her warship, Winter Reaper, and was the wielder of her family's Valyrian Steel longsword, Nightfall. Additionally, she had served as the Admiral of the Iron Fleet from 412 AC until her passing, and for the duration of a year, as the Lady Regent of the Iron Islands. She died in the Ambush of Hardstone Hills during the Black Prophet's Rebellion.
Appearance and Character
Pale of complexion and dark of hair, with nearly pitch-black eyes adorning her elegantly sharp visage, Alannys stands out as a rare beauty amongst the Ironborn. She doesn't appear intimidating, nor is she particularly tall and imposing, but her short stature and lithe frame shadow a martially trained, athletic body. At the same time, her meticulous and pragmatic nature, which lies hidden behind a pleasant façade, lends the Lady Harlaw a charismatic presence that instils both respect and fear in those that know and follow her.
Whether she's clad in her armour on the field, or an elegant gown at a ball, Alannys' appearance remains one of controversy, yet which only serves to accentuate the grace and nobility she naturally possesses.
Alannys was born to Harmund Harlaw and Larra Stonetree, early in the summer year of 388 AC. Following two healthy sons and a stillborn, she was the first and only daughter to bless the couple's matrimony.
The first years of her life were quiet and uneventful as the Iron Islands had entered the third decade of undisturbed peace after the Halfblood Incursion was repelled, and the Harlaws were also chief among the houses that sought to better relationships with the other provinces of the Realm at the time. Her father hoped to find her a gallant young lord from a prestigious mainland house by the time she'd come of age, and her mother, who was rejoiced to have a daughter of her own after delivering two boys, intended to raise Alannys in line with the standards of a proper Westerosi lady.
The young Harlaw's prospects were carefully outlined by a pair of ambitious yet loving parents, and she possessed everything a young lady could wish for. Even two older brothers to occasionally look after her and regale her in made-up tales of their grand and heroic adventures. She was happy and unscathed by the plights of the world back then, but the life she had enjoyed faded into obscurity like a long-forgotten dream when an unexpected disaster coursed through the whole of the continent.
Westeros was a troubled enough place on its own, and when The Great Famine struck in the wake of a series of peasant revolts and failing crops, the Iron Islands felt the suffering it brought second-to-none. Alannys was no older than five then, and whilst she could barely understand the weight of the events happening around her, she remembered how the rations became thinner with each passing day at the Ten Towers, seeing the children of servants fell ill and starve to death, and watching dozens of longships sail out from the harbour when the hunger grew unbearable.
Hundreds of reavers rallied under the Greyjoy's banners to raid the western shores for provisions. They were driven by survival alone, and tens of thousands would be saved from starvation thanks to their sacrifice. The breaking of the King's Peace, however, was followed by a brutal retaliation. A longship for each tower, they said, was put to the torch, with all of their captains and crews subsequently executed. The Scarlet Storm, captained by Alannys' father, was one of them.
Alannys was never particularly close with her older brothers, and the hardships they had to endure together did little to remedy that. There were several years between them in the first place, and with their father dead and Lord Qhorwyn having no children of his own, the latter took Harron under his wing to groom the boy into the next Lord of Harlaw, and sent Goren to be fostered by another Ironborn lord. Alone, Alannys was left in in the care of their grieving mother, whose company was alienating at best.
The girl longed for attention and affection - and as sad as it was - her mother was the last person to provide either. Despite living there for years, she didn't feel welcome in the Ten Towers, so she either retreated to the library to bury herself in books for hours, or sneaked out to roam the island and befriend the locals to remedy her loneliness. She found herself easily getting along with the common folk and the servants at court, and the first she had considered a true friend was Maester Gevin, the youngest brother of her late grandfather, who helped her with her studies and was always happy to talk about the various subjects she'd read about.
It was evident where did the girl's interests lie, and although she allowed her mother to mould her behaviour through lessons in etiquette and the feminine arts a lady was expected to excel at, it was Maester Gevin's lectures in history, strategy, and seafaring that offered her the knowledge she desired. Alannys couldn't defy her own nature, however, and she didn't excel at anything ladylike beyond the superficial, nor did she want to. Inspired by historical figures such as Nymeria of the Rhoynar and Asha Greyjoy, she aspired to become a leader and warrior, to conquer and to defend.
Her mistake was announcing her plans to her mother during a frustrating fight that resulted from her refusal to do embroidery. Infuriated, Lady Larra told Alannys that she'd rather see her married off to a Codd than let her meet the same fate Harmund and most Harlaw men had, and she outright forbade her daughter to train with the master-at-arms or anyone in the vicinity of the Ten Towers so long she lived. Still, as clear as her mother's words were, they wouldn't stop the young reaver-wannabe.
A Girl's Crew
She was crafty as a child, so if she couldn't train with the master-at-arms, she observed him train her brother and the soldiers of the garrison, then picked up a wooden stick and did her best to imitate the techniques and moves she had memorized. Other than hitting makeshift targets on her own, she also invited a couple boys and girls of her age from nearby villages to practice swordsmanship with, and eventually, she had built a small fellowship for herself over the course of a few moons.
Her most notable companions were Triston, a salt son of House Volmark with a few years of martial training of his own, Yrsa, a thrall's daughter with considerable physical strength, and her cousins Cotter and Robin from House Stonetree. They hailed from different backgrounds and had different stories to tell, but they had all shared the ambition of adopting the life of warriors and elevating themselves as true Ironborn. Alannys called them her crew, and they meant the foundation of her power.
They trained rigorously and sparred each other daily, experimenting with various arms as they had found their own preferences over time. Alannys developed an aptitude for archery and swordsmanship alike, but she ultimately honed her intelligence and guile as her chief weapons. She became a leader; the guiding force that pushed her friends towards betterment, settled disputes when needed be, and forged the purpose that would drive them.
She quickly proved to be a natural leader, and even the boys weren't reluctant to accept her as the head of their small group. Her assertiveness was matched with the ability to sympathize, her decisiveness with an openness to the ideas of others, and the balance of these traits inspired loyalty and trust in those that came to know and follow her. What seemed to be children's play at the beginning, was really a case of hitting two birds with one stone for Alannys. She learned how to fight and she began to grasp the responsibilities of leadership, and upon entering adolescence, the greatest challenge ahead was putting her skills to test. Her crew only lacked a ship.
Tidings of War
In the latter half of 399 AC, vessels returned to Harlaw from the Stepstones, and the news they brought left many devastated. Harron Harlaw, who left three years prior with Lord Harlaw's fleet to engage armada of the Three Kings, died into the wounds he had suffered aboard his own vessel, and lost the sword Nightfall to the man who bested him; the infamous commander of the Lost Legion, Kaelon Rogare. The young heir was liked by his soldiers, his talent for strategy and stewardship made his uncle proud, and even the vassal lords thought he would make a wise and strong high lord one day.
His death was felt, yet no one was struck by it as much as his mother. In a hysteric fit, Lady Larra called Lord Qhorwyn the murderer of her husband and son, and subsequently retreated to the Widow's Tower, refusing to see anyone but her daughter while she mourned. It was her wish to confine Alannys to the same wing of the holdfast to keep her close and out of harm's way, but little did she know that the girl was already several steps ahead of her, and she had no intentions of staying.
As the war in the East raged on, the Crown had requested another thirty longships from the Iron Islands in lieu of the ones lost, and Alannys, who saw this as her chance to get a taste of reaving, was determined to get herself and her crew aboard one of those vessels. She sold a number of her gowns and pieces of silver jewelry to be able to afford an average soldier's equipment for herself and four others, and she had her friends ask around in the docks if any of the longships could use more crewman. Within a few days, they had everything they needed from helmets and hauberks to axes and swords, and Triston had managed to secure oars for all of them on the Salty Whale, a longship captained by the old raider Dykk Whalebane. They were ready to sail out, but whether they were ready for war was yet to be seen.
The longships departed the Iron Islands in the Twelfth Moon of 399 AC, and it took them between three and four weeks until they had reached the Stepstones. Alannys was thrilled throughout the entire journey, eagerly searching the horizon every day for the sights she had heard so much about. She could lay eyes on the mighty Casterly Rock, the Hightower of Oldtown and the beautiful green islands of the Reach, and the magnificent palace of Sunspear crowning the Dornish coast. The unknown perceived from so close yet still afar made her forget that she was hundreds of leagues away from home, the realization of which hit her at once when she entered the fray.
Sailing up the Narrow Sea to join with the Iron Fleet berthed at Greenstone, a large contingent of pirate and mercenary vessels ambushed them south-west of Bloodstone, crushing five longships in the initial attack and forcing the rest to flee to the Broken Arm of Dorne. But as the enemy followed them to shore in large numbers, the Ironborn retaliated and a bloody battle ensued in the wet sand. Alannys stood in the backlines with sword and shield in her hands as she watched the fight unfold, and the realness of it was beyond her expectations. War was a disgusting, chaotic mess; men were slain in front of her in the dozens and the sight of them falling in the most grotesque ways imaginable made her nauseous.
When one of the pirates came charging at her with an arakh, she completely froze, unable to even lift her shield for defence, and had it not been for Yrsa, she would have fallen right then and there. The massive girl born to a thrall tore a hole in the Essosi's head with a well-aimed throw of her axe, saving her liege's life. Alannys was reminded then that she wasn't alone in this, and it gave her the strength she had needed; the next blade that came her way was met with the wood of her shield, and with a counter-attack that surprised even her, she took her assaulter's life only a few seconds after she had almost lost her own.
Before she realized, the Ironborn had overpowered their pirate foes, and the battle was taken to sea again; this time decidedly favouring her side. Most of the crews manning the war-galleys were disintegrated, so the longships had no difficulty breaking through the blockade the pirates had set up, and with a few vessels captured too, they made it to their destination.
An Old Enemy
For the remainder of the war, the Ironborn fleet's primary objectives had been to patrol the Summer Sea for any merchant ships that could potentially feed supplies to the enemy and to eliminate mercenary reinforcements before they could join the pirate kings' armada. They fought several battles ranging from smaller skirmishes and raids to larger engagements at sea, and simultaneously filled the shallow hulls of their longships with precious loot from the unlucky that got in their way.
In the two years since their departure, Alannys and her fellow young reavers had mastered the various tactics of Ironborn such as the use of grappling hooks and the boarding of larger vessels under the guidance of their elders, and as they matured, they had proven to be formidable Ironborn warriors in their own right. During an organized raid to root out pirate supporters hiding in settlements along the coast of the Disputed Lands, Alannys had also demonstrated her ability as a battlefield commander, which elevated her position higher than she expected.
The three crews under Dykk Whalebane's command were ambushed by a group of mercenaries in the middle of the night, and the Ironborn were caught off guard. With most of them scattered in the small township looting and raping, they fell into disarray, and it was the then fourteen-year-old Alannys, who seized action. Louder than ever before, she called the soldiers nearest to her into formation, standing up in a shield wall with some thirty men to halt the mercenaries on the main road, and sent her quickest crewmates to alarm the rest of the Ironborn. Attacking them at night was certainly a smart move, but underestimating their ability to respond was a grave mistake made.
Hundred and twenty reavers were up in arms to answer the imminent threat, but they had to regroup first. They couldn't have known whether the mercenaries outnumbered them or otherwise, so the only sensible choice to Alannys was to feint retreat to their longships and fight off the mercenaries from there, - or row out if need be. Her plan was adhered to and the bulk of the Ironborn forces made it to the docks, allowing them to utilize their full strength. Turning about and getting into formation again, they advanced on the mercenaries and fired crossbows bolts between tactical openings, and pushed their broken lines back into the streets, where the fight would be concluded at once.
They had fought for several hours, and despite being outnumbered two to one, the Ironborn had repelled the assault by dawn, with most of the mercenaries lying defeated, many taken as hostages, and the cravened ones scared away. In the aftermath, Captain Dykk named Alannys as his first mate and commander of troops to reward her for bringing about a victory, and the Harlaw scion was more than ready to undertake the task. Especially after learning who had sent these goons on them.
During the interrogation of the captured leader of the mercenaries, she had learned that his company was hired on behalf of the Lost Legion to disrupt smaller Ironborn raiding parties on land, and that the man who paid them, a certain Captain Jovarro, was loading his fleet in Lys with weapons and supplies intended for Daarius Ormollen in the Stepstones. The details spilt by the man were concerning the very least, and they immediately returned to the Iron Fleet's command to inform the Lord Captain about the fresh developments. Alannys was an odd sight amongst venerated captains from all across the Iron Islands, but as a commander herself, she would claim a voice on the war council regardless.
She proposed to send fifty of the Ironborn vessels to intercept Captain Jovarro's fleet before it delivered supplies and more fighting men to serve the Three Kings' cause. Her plan was to lure the Legion's ships into a chase with a contingent of twenty longships and then flank them from two directions with the remaining thirty between the rocky islands of the Stepstones. Reluctantly, the council gave its consent, but granted the squadron's command to an older and more experienced captain, - not that it mattered to Alannys. She was a realist at heart, who never expected to receive more than she merited for, and so long she was going to partake in the ambush, she would remain content.
What she remained silent about was her personal involvement in the matter. The mercenary her crew had questioned also told something about 'recognizing the man by his sword with the moonstone pommel', and if her intuition was right, she had possibly found Nightfall, the ancestral blade of House Harlaw lost by Harron half a decade ago. Apparently that Rogare filth had gifted the sword away - or lost it to gamble for all she knew, - but reclaiming it would have been a good bloody start in serving justice for her brother either way.
The Iron Fleet split up in the next week, with its larger half joining the Royal and Redwyne fleets to prepare for the King's assault on Sunstone, and the squadron of fifty sailing south-east according to the plan. Jovarro's fleet showed up on the horizon in two days' time, numbering roughly two dozen war-galleys and accompanying merchant cogs, and they took the bait. After making the initial strike, the chase commenced and from there it took about two hours of back-and-forth firing until the Legion's sails were lured into the intended trap. The Lysene galleys possessed the superior firepower with spitfires and catapults mounted on their decks, but the longships had the superior maneuvrability and sailors.
Swiftly closing in on the enemy vessels, the Ironborn used scorpions to force their crews to cover and grappling hooks to board them. When it came to endurance and speed few could compare to the Ironborn, and Alannys' strategy utilized those qualities to their fullest; combined with proper coordination and tactics, they hit the Lost Legion like an ungodly storm. About a fifth of the longships caught fire or got crushed, but the fight was taken to the enemy decks so quickly that it almost seemed like a fair trade-off. And that was where the real battle had begun.
The legionnaires, tough bastards they were, had provided quite the challenge to their ironmen opponents. Alannys met them in combat as soon as she boarded their flagship with fifty reavers at her back, and they fought unlike any of the mercenaries she had come across thus far. They were relentless and precise, almost making her believe that they were motivated by much more than gold. She slew two of them before she spotted Jovarro in the fray, recognizing the man by the stolen longsword Nightfall in his hand. The Captain of the Lost Legion was cutting through her men with the Valyrian Steel blade as if he was in a trance, yet that did not discourage her. Without a second thought, she engaged him.
With chaos ruling the deck, it was impossible to tell which side was winning, and her companions had her back by keeping the mercenaries around her occupied as she took on their captain in single combat. Alannys' skill and youthful prowess placed her on an almost equal footing with Jovarro, and some might say that dueling aboard a ship had even benefitted the young Ironborn over her more experienced opponent. Whatever were the odds, she wanted that sword back, and perhaps it was her sheer desire to reclaim it that eventually gave her the upper hand and yielded her victory.
Although her footwork and ability to counter had been remarkable throughout the fight, one misstep was enough to let Jovarro overcome her defences and knock her over. At that point, Alannys still had the chance to get up and continue the swordplay, but she had something far more daring in mind. Rolling onto her back, she tossed her shield at him to provide a momentary distraction and tripped him with her legs. Her move forced his guard down, and seizing that opening, she got up and thrust her sword into Jovarro's side. As the man fell on his knees, Alannys tore Nightfall from his hand and finished him by slitting his throat with the pristine steel.
So had it been, that the second Harlaw to face the Lost Legion defeated one of her captains and forced dozens of her ranks into surrender. On that day, she had paid the iron price for what was rightfully hers.
The Winter Reaper
Tthe War of the Three Thieves had concluded, and little was there left to kill and plunder for the Ironborn. Six years of fighting for the Crown had worn them out, and Alannys found the notion of sailing back home more appealing too. She missed the rains, the wet, jagged rocks, the bellowing of the sea as its waves crashed against the cliffs beneath the Ten Towers, and she missed her people. Even that insufferable mother of hers, who no doubt was going to give her a proper scolding.
The war had taken too long though, and the peoples of Westeros barely got a chance to have some respite before winter came. The first snow had already fallen in the Iron Islands when Alannys returned to Harlaw, and remembering the Great Famine all too well, she grew concerned for the Islanders. She was ready to meet the consequences of having left without permission, but as there were many to praise her achievements to Lord Qhorwyn, her uncle was willing to look past her unruliness and reward her even for retrieving the House's ancestral blade. Daring as ever, she asked for fifteen new longships to be constructed in the design of the larger war-compatible vessels in use by the Iron Fleet.
She explained that her plan was to keep the island's population fed during the winter years by hoarding grain, and the ships were required to raid the Summer Isles and the various merchant vessels sailing the Summer Sea, either for grain directly or the gems and gold to buy more-. She had a way with words, and her reasoning paired with promises of wealth and glory had proven enough to convince her uncle. The Lord of Harlaw commissioned his best shipwrights to build the vessels - from the finest oak timber available - and in the Second Moon of 403 AC, the new warships were ready to sail. Alannys promptly assumed command, and after crewing all fifteen of them with a hundred good reavers each, she led them on their virgin voyage.
While the green lands of Westeros were covered in white, the south where Summer ruled eternal was ripe for pillage, and the first year alone had brought astounding success. Well acquainted with the sails of the free cities and those from further east, Alannys could determine which vessel to hit at sea and whether it was worth it to engage larger fleets with near-perfect precision. And not forgetting about her home for a moment, she sent back a pair of ships packed full of cargo at every second turn of the Moon. To proceed as planned, she also ordered one of her captains to hire merchants in Oldtown and Vinetown, who would trade the various luxury goods they had looted for grain and other provisions.
Her black sails had become infamous from the Stepstones to Qarth, and as soon as it was advisable to avoid the ire of Essosi powers, Alannys turned her gaze to the Summer Isles. She had waylaid swan ships from time to time when the odds favoured her, but her interests lay in the treasures the islands had to offer. Not stopping at the stockpiles of fishing villages and coastal towns, she had often pushed inland to storm the palaces of highborn and steal the most precious gems hoarded by their residents. The locals wanted her out of their lands, so they employed an old enemy of hers to throw her back into the sea.
The Lost Legion had been on her trail since she robbed a small flotilla of Lysene vessels blind, and in the Summer Isles, they finally clashed in the field. Unlike the last time she had encountered them, however, the whole Legion was there to meet her, including their dreaded commander, Kaelon Rogare. As much as she wanted to pay him the same courtesy he had paid her brother, Alannys embarked on this reaving for the sake of the people she loved, and that meant keeping them alive. For the most part, she had kept the mercenaries engaged through a series of smaller and bigger skirmishes as she harried the region with her reavers, and she would rarely risk an open battle to push her personal vendetta.
Only once, during the raid of Lotus Point, did Alannys confront Kaelon, and whilst she couldn't best him, she was the first general to meet the Valyrian in single combat and survive. The outcome of their duel reflected the same stalemate situation their respective forces had been stuck in for almost a year, and seeing as neither of them could achieve a decisive victory, she called back her troops and left the archipelago behind. Thanks to the numerous successful raids she had carried out over time, her ships were filled with treasure from all across the Summer Sea, and the islanders of Harlaw had enough provisions to survive the three cold years of the Scarlet Winter. Settling the score with the Lost Legion could wait, for the Winter Reaper, so named by her crew, was sailing home.
Ten Towers and One
The black sails were sighted from the harbour of the Ten Towers in mid 405 AC, and a large crowd of wives, children, and friends had gathered to welcome the returning sailors in a cacophony of applause. Some of them went home in grief, of course, but for the majority of Harlaw's populace, it was a day to rejoice. The veil of winter had lifted at last, and the islanders held a grand feast to celebrate reunion and the arrival of Spring. Satisfied with the place she had earned for herself, Alannys seized the moment to relax and enjoy herself at the celebrations.
The practice wasn't too alien to her; for the better part of six years, she had drunk and laughed only with Ironborn reavers, if only not in excessive amounts. Managing her crews, making strategies and always planning the next three moves had taken up nearly all of her time, and some of the finer things in life had been almost entirely lost on her. Her relationship with her soldiers had always been on a fine line between formal and intimate enough to garner their respect, and it was a strong bond of friendship that persisted between her and her closest companions throughout the years.
She had rarely thought of more, so it caught her off-guard when Triston, her first mate and best friend, kissed her on the lips. Likely encouraged by the cup of rum he had, he confessed that he wanted her, and Alannys, being curious as much as she was afraid, welcomed his approach. She had never lain with a man before, yet as Triston was gentle and dared not harm her, her first experience was a pleasant one, and soon she had developed an appetite for more. She made it a routine to sleep with him, and it didn't take long until their escapades resulted in the growth of her belly. For long had she believed she was ready to face all the villains the world had to offer, but when met first with currents of politics, she found herself powerless.
Harlaw had changed a lot while she had been away reaving. Lord Qhorwyn had been smitten with melancholic sickness when winter had claimed the life of his beloved wife and had never recovered since. He had rarely left his chambers, and in his absence from court, his nephew and heir, Goren had taken over his lordly functions. And Alannys had paid too little attention to politics to recognize this shift in power before it was too late. When her brother learned that she was with child, he was furious and called her names for thwarting his plans of arranging a decent marriage for her. At the end of their argument, he ordered his men to escort her to the Tower of Glimmering, and urged her to stay for the duration of her pregnancy, - his excuse being to avoid further blemishing the Harlaw name.
Right then, Alannys hadn't a choice but to comply. For her own and her unborn child's sake, she would spend the next seven moons in seclusion, with only a few servants and Goren's watchdogs to call her company. She had been cut off from her friends, her soldiers and everyone loyal to her, and she knew that it was her brother's intention to keep it that way. In his place, she would have been afraid of herself too; she was well-liked by the common folk and the reavers would have followed her to the grave if she told them to. She was a threat to his power by every standard, and he chose to underestimate her without realizing.
The daughter of House Harlaw wasn't cut for a prisoner, and as dull as her days at the Tower had been, she made the best of her situation. Ever observant of her surroundings, she had memorized everything from the layout of the keep to the daily routines of its staff, including the individual schedules of every guard. She wasn't planning her escape though. She wanted to teach her brother a lesson, but she wouldn't make her first move until after she had fulfilled the purpose of her stay.
In the Seventh Moon of 406 AC, the day Alannys had been waiting for finally came. She was in labour for thirteen hours before she could push; the pain was unlike any she had experienced before, but in the end, her suffering was worth it. She had given birth to a beautiful grey-eyed boy, whom she named Theon Pyke after her great-grandfather, and Maester Gevin had been present to help her through the process and confirm that her baby was free of ailments. Holding her son in her arms had changed her life, and her resolution to carry on had become stronger than ever before. She had set her plan into motion in that very hour, by asking her old friend to deliver an important message.
The Maester gladly did her this service, and he relayed the message to the addressed, the crew of the Winter Reaper. The piece of paper contained every piece of intel Alannys had gathered about the circumstances of her imprisonment, attached with her orders, and Triston, Yrsa and the rest of her reavers answered her call. They were to capture the Tower of Glimmering, and they had carried out the task seamlessly and on short notice. The patrolling guards were taken out within minutes after they had infiltrated the walls, and not a single one of them escaped to inform their master about the attack.
Relying on her guile and the competence of her crew, Alannys had conquered the castle where she was held against her will, effectively while lying in her bed, and she proceeded to finish what she had started with the same grace. Her brother told her that he would come to see her once she had given birth, and knowing that he wouldn't back from forcing an unwanted marriage on her, she was willing to go extreme lengths to preserve her independence. Goren was completely unaware of what had awaited him when he arrived at the secluded holding with only a couple guards at his back.
Alannys greeted him in the great hall with her bastard in her arms, allowed him to see his excuse for locking her away, and she gave him the courtesy of listening to what he had to say. Unknown to him, the humility she had shown was all but a farce, and as soon as she was bored of his insults, she signaled her men to seize him. The swords he had at his command made for a poor resistance, and he was brought before his sister subdued. She had no intentions of harming her flesh and blood initially, but her ambitions had greatly expanded during her captivity. Alannys had become everything Goren thought she was, and she had told him so before tossing him from the castle's walls.
A dutiful sister, she had returned his body to the Ten Towers, and told everyone the truth; that Goren had stumbled and fell, and she could do naught to save him. The tears in her eyes were convincing, and she had mourned together with her mother and her brother's childless widow. Shortly after the funeral, her uncle named her as his heir, and taking up most of his responsibilities in governance, she began consolidating her power.
Chapter I: Epoch
The Fool's Gambit
It hadn't taken a year until the middle-aged Lord Qhorwyn drew his last breath in his sickbed, his death a peaceful one as he simply fell asleep only to never wake up again. Alannys assumed ladyship over Harlaw in an earnest, and although she was prepared to face opposition from her male cousins and vassal lords, her first trial as Lady Regnant was a whole different beast. A mere short moon after the old King Aenar had passed away as well, a raven arrived from Pyke; Maron Greyjoy, the young Lord of the Iron Islands, had sounded his call to arms.
Alannys, who was preoccupied with her own island’s affairs at the time, but was more cautious about Maron’s plan to raid the coasts of the Westerlands and thus incite war in the Realm, sent no soldiers nor a single longship to his muster. As word reached the Islands of a large gathering of warships in Lannisport, Alannys sent her liege a letter of warning instead, to try and dissuade him from his plans. The same morning, however, she also wrote to the newly crowned Queen. In the latter, she confirmed the rumours about the Greyjoy’s declaration of war against the Westerlands, and she asked for royal permission to detain him in the name of the Iron Throne should the situation escalate.
The permission was granted via royal seal that empowered her to act as the Crown’s agent in this matter, but it was already too late to warn the Iron Islands about the consequences of their liege lord’s misdeed. Some three-hundred war-ready vessels with Lannister and Redwyne sails emerged from the south to heed the kraken’s call, descending upon Pyke without mercy. The garrisons of the eponymous castle and the city of Lordsport fell to their conquerors within a fortnight.
Despite her best efforts, Alannys couldn’t gain enough support amongst the Ironborn nobility. Most of them were not willing to rise against House Greyjoy, while others simply opted to stay out of the Lannister army's way. It quickly became clear to her that stepping up as a servant of the Queen in the midst of this conflict couldn't win her the favor of the nobility, but hers was a forethought most Ironborn had lacked, and self-doubt she knew not. Had she not been invited by Loreon Lannister to negotiate a treaty between her house and his, she would have reached out to him on her own accord to forge an alliance against Maron Greyjoy.
Alannys met the Grizzled Lion in the Great Hall of Pyke, and stood her ground to the best of her ability during the negotiations. She was in no position to speak for the entirety of the islands, but as the most powerful representative of its nobility, it made sense that Loreon had decided to treat with her. It seemed as though that the man had wished to settle a score only with House Greyjoy, and he would leave the rest of the Ironborn to their own devices so long they had met certain requirements. The Lord of Casterly Rock had several demands and Alannys had set a few terms of her own. Ultimately though, the two of them had reached a fast agreement, including amongst other things a matrimonial bond between the Houses Harlaw and Lannister.
A year earlier, she was certain, she would have never arranged an unfair trade like that, but as she had come to understand what it meant to be the Lady of Harlaw, she did what had to be done to defend the interests of her own. After the signing of their pact, all that had been left was to join their forces and finally put down the misguided Lord of the Iron Islands. And words were followed by action as soon as Alannys revealed the boy's whereabouts.
The fleets of Harlaw and the Westerlands numbered more than four hundred vessels combined, and they all set sail on the morrow of the war council to crush the weak resistance the lordling could muster. The battle that commenced just off the southern coast of Orkmont had lasted only a few hours, resulting in a decisive victory for the allied forces. Maron Greyjoy, who had chosen to fight the battle himself, had lost his life at sea, and his decapitated head was put on display for all of the victors to behold. By no coincidence, the war he had brought upon his people by his own rashness, and led to his own untimely death as well, would be known to the writers of history as the Fool’s Gambit.
With the kraken beaten and House Greyjoy rid of its last trueborn son, the Seastone Chair stood empty. Two humiliating defeats were enough to discourage the high lords of the Iron Islands from supporting another lost cause, but the Lion-faced devil still threatened the integrity of her home. Eventually, the Lannister and Redwyne ships had left with the few spoils of their conquest, and while a token force was left behind to hold Pyke for Loreon, Alannys was expected to honour their agreement and maintain order.
The young Lady of Harlaw resolved to go through with what she had started, and ever resourceful, she was swift to act. Authorized by a royal seal and empowered by the unmatched strength of her house, she set out to return her misled brethren into the fold of the Iron Throne. Her chief weapon was careful diplomacy, yet when the need arose, she deployed her fleet to eliminate hostile remnants before they could gain root. She would oft send regular reports of her progress to King’s Landing, and when the Mummer's War came to an abrupt end, she became certain that it was only a matter of months until the Queen would turn her attention to the Islands.
Many had come to recognize her efficient ruling during the interregnum, either with respect or resentment, and she had earned a fearsome reputation. She could have attempted to fill the power vacuum herself, but she knew the Ironborn would never accept her as a true leader if she married a Lannister. Entertaining ambitions of ascending higher than her already elevated station was not really an option. In truth, she hoped Queen Visaera would allow them to choose their next Ruler the same way Aegon the Conqueror had four centuries ago. The news brought to her by Lord Sunderly was conveniently timed.
Alannys learned only then that the Steward of Seagrave was a salt son from a distant branch of House Greyjoy, and with that in mind, a unique opportunity presented itself. She summoned the loyalists she had trusted the most to the Ten Towers, and after long hours of debate over the legitimacy of a salt bloodline, they agreed to pledge their support to a potential Greyjoy restoration. Satisfied with the results and careful not to let rumours of their decision reach the wrong ears, she promptly wrote to the Queen and urged her guests to stay until the response arrived.
What happened next was overwhelming at first thought, but it pleased her nonetheless. The Queen did away with all of Loreon’s reforms in a royal decree, effectively nullifying the Treaty of Pyke, and named Dagon Greyjoy the new Lord of the Iron Islands, on the condition that he would marry the Lady of Harlaw to rule the province in unison. Although she was ired by the thought of an arranged marriage, especially to a salt son she had never met before, she would have been a fool to not see what it meant for her.
Robbed of their wealth by the Grizzled Lion, the Greyjoys were reduced to little more than beggars, and all the while Alannys remained the wealthiest highborn in the Iron Islands. Her influence was at its peak, and she was given the chance to lead the Ironborn toward a prosperous future. She married the saltborn Dagon Greyjoy on the holy grounds of Old Wyk in 408 AC, and the entirety of the archipelago's nobility had been invited to bear witness to the ceremony and to hear as the drowned priests present declared their dynasty lawful before their God.
As the future mother of the Greyjoy's heirs, the pureness of Alannys' bloodline would bolster their legitimacy, and her continued loyalty to the Realm was rewarded by a gift only the Lady of the Seven Kingdoms could grant; Queen Visaera legitimized her natural-born son as Theon Harlaw, who would become the rightful heir to the lands and titles of House Harlaw. Her personal legacy was secured, but the hardest years of her reign had been yet ahead.
In the wake of the Lion’s incursion and the interregnum that followed, it became evident that the Old Way had failed the Ironborn and would fail them again so long as dragons would rule from the Iron Throne. Change for the better was inevitable as their very survival hung in the balance, and Alannys was most glad that Dagon shared her vision. They were like-minded politicians, and working through the earliest and without a doubt the most difficult stage of their reign, they had distinguished themselves as formidable rulers.
The first challenge they faced together was an insurrection, and the efficiency with which they handled it served well to cement their rule. Just after sending out tax collectors to begin refilling Pyke’s treasury, a number of coastal towns and dozens of anchored vessels were hit in a series of attacks across the archipelago. Purportedly performed by a group of rogue captains from that fled from the Battle of Orkmont, Alannys was quick to send her best crews to look into the matter.
About six skirmishes had taken place on Great Wyk as her men tracked down and eliminated the assailants, but what seemed to be a mere act of defiance at first, had evolved into an armed uprising over the span of a year. While the Harlaw led her fleet against the dozens of stolen longships in several battles at sea, the troops commanded by the Greyjoy brothers rooted out the corrupted seeds in their vassals’ lands. Their forces were prevalent throughout the length of the conflict, and the insurrection was decisively put down in a final battle near Lordsport.
Hundreds of good Ironborn lives had been lost to the uprising, yet the only soul Alannys shed tears for was her castellan, Triston Volmark. The man had been at her side since they were children; he was a confidant and a lover, and the father of her firstborn. Executing the rebel leaders she deemed responsible had brought her a little solace, but his loss left a hole in her heart that wouldn’t be healed for quite some time. The best she could do was to look to the future and ensure that everything she had done thus far was worth the effort.
Their victory saw order restored to the Iron Islands in 409 AC, and the Lady of Harlaw opted to take an active role in governing them alongside her husband. She had initiated the reconstruction and expansion of the Iron Fleet, lended money to the Lords of Great Wyk and Orkmont to help them expand their mining operations, and later personally drafted the laws that would further enforce the Queen’s Peace in their secluded province.
In the next year, her naval expertise would be once again put to use as well. As the cold Northern winds heralded the coming of winter, she summoned her captains to embark on a great seasonal reaving. A hundred longships gathered under her banners to sail south behind the Winter Reaper, and after fifteen months, they returned ripe with treasure from the Summer Sea, and enough grain to feed a decent portion of the population.
Although this winter was brief and the Ironborn could have likely done with what they had, Alannys’ intention was to keep her people’s faith in their leaders by honing their fighting spirit, and in that she succeeded. In a time of peace, however, her subjects and peers would come to recognize her for her diplomatic finesse.
Harlaw and Pyke
Settling into her life as the Lady of the Iron Islands, Alannys lived both in her husband’s castle and the Ten Towers, alternating between the two holdfasts on a near monthly basis. Pyke was the center of politics and trade, but Harlaw would always remain her true home. When she finally conceived with her Lord husband in 412 AC, the latter was where she had chosen to retreat for the duration of her pregnancy. Nine months later, she gave birth to a healthy and beautiful girl. Dagon was proud to announce to his vassals that the Heir to the Iron Islands was born, and Alannys gave her the name Victaria to promise her a glorious reign filled with success.
She nursed her baby daughter for five months before she returned to her responsibilities and assumed her position as the Admiral of the newly completed Iron Fleet. The economic reforms Dagon had enacted also began to produce noticeable results, and it was time to open trade with the cities of Westeros and beyond. Volunteering herself for the task, she went on a voyage to see the parts of the world she had previously denied herself.
Her first destination was Lys, where she was invited by Phaedrus Sathmantes to celebrate the Festival of Lights. The man was an old acquaintance she had made during the Scarlet Winter, and the second time they sat down for a pleasant conversation, talk of new and promising business prospects was not off the table. Alannys was also offered a prized bedslave from of the Sathmantes pillow houses, and knowing that one night of mischief would be of no consequence to her, she eagerly accepted.
She parted from the Fairest City with memories she’d always be fond of. On her way back across the Sunset Sea, she anchored in Oldtown and then Lannisport to promote the high-quality steel the Ironborn produced, and each of her visits proved to be unique in their own nature. Leyton Hightower welcomed her with a feast and a tourney of the city’s knights held in her honour, and despite the most curious discussion they had afterwards, he agreed to receive shipments of the fine weaponry from Lordsport.
In Lannisport, Loreon himself seemed not so much interested in ore or steel, but rather the future of the alliance with House Harlaw that didn’t go through and the political relationship between their two kingdoms. Determined to keep their friendships mutually beneficial - for otherwise, it would not be a friendship - Alannys promised the newborn heir of House Greyjoy in marriage to a young scion of House Lannister. Having invited Loreon to her island to repay his hospitality, the betrothal would be officiated on the island of Harlaw later in the year.
It wasn’t until 415 AC that she sailed East again. Prince Rhaeger, whom she had befriended when he visited the Iron Islands with his wife seven years ago, wished to improve his fleet at Dragonstone, and invited her to the royal court to enlist her assistance. Traveling shortly after finishing the nursing of her second Greyjoy daughter, Arwyn, the Lady of Harlaw headed up the Narrow Sea to meet the Crown Prince.
Having traveled such a distance though, she made sure to utilize the time she’d spend away from home productively. In the Red Keep, she paid homage to the Queen, and met with her Master of Coin and Master of Ships to formally discuss how the Iron Islands could best serve the Realm as an integral part of its economy and military might. Driftmark and Duskendale were magnificent places in their own right, but neither intrigued her as much as the Dornish coast. Learning that the plague that ravaged the sandy region was gone, she was confident to dock at Planky Town, and visited Sunspear as well to arrange a trade deal with Prince Regent Morgan.
Returning home, Alannys was content with the progress they had made over the years. As Harlaw and Pyke became the twin pillars of the Iron Islands, so did her relationship grew more intimate with Dagon. Whilst her love would be reserved for her children, she had developed a strong friendship with her husband, which would not be void of passion.
Chapter II: Tyranny
Farewell to Summer
When the Realm Bled
- Erich Harlaw, Lord of Harlaw b. 341 d. 390 AC
- m. Rheya Drumm, Lady of Harlaw b. 342 d. 362 AC
- Qhorwyn Harlaw, Lord of Harlaw b. 360 d. 407 AC
- m. Hylda Blacktyde, Lady of Harlaw b. 364 d. 403 AC
- No Issues
- Harmund Harlaw, Master of the Tower of Glimmering b. 362 d. 394 AC
- m. Larra Stonetree, Mistress of the Tower of Glimmering b. 361 AC
- Harron Harlaw, Heir to Harlaw b. 378 d. 397 AC
- Goren Harlaw, Heir to Harlaw b. 383 d. 406 AC
- m. Rona Kenning b. 387 AC
- No Issues
- Alannys Harlaw, Lady of Harlaw b. 388 d. 433 AC
- w. Triston Volmark b. 386 d. 409 AC
- m. Dagon Greyjoy, Lord of the Iron Islands b. 385 d. 432 AC
- Maester Gevin - Counselor, healer, and tutor
- Sylas Myre - Castellan of the Ten Towers
- Yrsa Steelwave - Captain of the Guard
- Xanda Rho - Steward
- Fergon - Master-at-Arms
- Othgar Blackgull - Drowned Priest of Harlaw
- Cotter Stonetree - Sworn Sword
- Robin Stonetree - Sworn Sword