The Alliance of the Narrows is a political union between the Triarchy - comprised of the cities of Tyrosh, Lys and Myr - and the Stepstones. Formed at the end of two decades of conflict between the Free Cities and the Stepstones, the Alliance's combined forces are supported by the four dragonriders in its service. Since its formation, it has dominated trade in the Narrow Sea, much to the chagrin of Braavos, Pentos, and the Iron Throne.
A New Balance of Power Edit
The defeat of Aeryn Targaryen in 427 AC left a power vacuum in the Stepstones that the Triarchy did not dare to fill. An occupation of the islands, its leaders concluded, would come at a great cost with little gained. Moreover, it was unclear how the spoils could be evenly divided between three cities, none of which were eager for another conflict in the vein of the Disputed Lands - which still remained unsettled despite their lasting unity.
Indeed, beyond that lingering question, the Three Daughters had adjusted to their recent centralization of power with little trouble. The triumvirate of Archon Moreo Sadaris of Tyrosh, First Magister Lysarus Rogare of Lys and Prince-Admiral Nymon Mar Noyne of Myr was effective at coordinating trade and diplomatic policy, as well as appeasing the weakened magisters beneath them. Under their leadership, the combined might and influence of the three cities began to outpace that of both Volantis and Braavos, historically the two great powers of western Essos.
Without the unifying force of a dragon-riding prince, the Stepstones immediately devolve into fragmented pirate lordships, all vying to expand their influence. Only the Saan and Vunatis families enjoy a semblance of stability on their own islands, but despite their ambitions, neither manage to project their power much further. It seemed that only someone of Aeryn’s caliber could unite the Stepstones once more; despite his ultimate failure, the reign of a dragonrider is remembered fondly by many - especially those two ambitious families, both of whom longed to wield their late prince’s greatest weapon.
The Archon’s Greatest Asset Edit
Shortly after they became acquainted at the Festival of Three Daughters in 418 AC, the Tyroshi magister Talora Adarys and the dragonrider Balerion Otherys were married at a ceremony in Tyrosh. For the sake of his new family, the enigmatic Braavosi agrees to enter the city’s service as a dragonrider, effectively replacing the Archon’s previous protege, Aelor Sand - who was slain over Dorne several months prior. Balerion was honored with the late Sandrake’s seat on the magisterial conclave, and despite his wariness of Moreo Sadaris, theirs proved a productive and convenient alliance.
Over the subsequent decade, the relationship between the dragonrider and the Archon was tumultuous, with the former frequently feeling exploited by the latter. After several years as a magister, however, Balerion had made several influential friends in Tyrosh, largely among those who resented their Archon the most. Confident that he and he alone could topple an aging tyrant, he began to explicitly cultivate such a faction by 429 AC.
His aim was to replace Moreo Sadaris with an Adarys through a unanimous vote of the conclave, but this amounted to little more than a whisper campaign before the Archon was alerted of the plot. Outraged, his first instinct was to dispose of his would-be usurper - but in his advanced age, the Archon was no longer quite as capable at political maneuvering as he was before, and the Otherys’ dragon made him an invaluable asset. Instead, he met with Balerion to resolve their rivalry through frank and level-headed discussion. They agreed to reconstitute the terms of the dragonrider’s service to Tyrosh; the Adarys family was granted another seat on the magisterial conclave and more influence over the military, and Balerion was allowed to abstain from participation in armed conflicts that were not of an explicitly defensive nature.
The Archon forgave, but he did not forget. His agents began recruiting spies among the slaves and servants of the Adarys household, keeping a close watch on Balerion Otherys. His trust for the Braavosi had all but evaporated, and he turned his attention more toward his young grandson, Varonos Sandrake. Still only a child of twelve years, the spawn of Aelor Sand and his Sadaris wife had already proven himself a clever and capable warrior. With great discretion, Moreo sought out the most learned historians and lorekeepers in Essos, bringing them to his manse to teach Maelys all they knew of dragons.
The Flight of Otherys Edit
Later in the year 431 AC, a grand festival was held in Lys to celebrate the fifteen years that had passed since the Triarchy’s reformation was first proposed and the five since Aeryn Targaryen’s defeat. As the sole dragonrider in the three cities’ employ, Balerion Otherys’ presence was in high demand - but Lysarus Rogare insisted that the dragon itself would be an uncomfortable sight for a city that still remembered Stormsong’s wrath. Balerion initially refused to attend, but the venerable Archon’s health prevented him from traveling - and Moreo wanted him to represent Tyrosh in his stead. Though he still remained suspicious of the Archon, Balerion realized that this would be a unique opportunity to ingratiate himself to the First Magister. Moreo Sadaris, he concluded, would not be around for long, and Lys’ blessing would be enough to swing the next election in his favor. With some lingering reluctance, he parted from his dragon and manse, leaving the former confined within a large amphitheater and the latter in the care of his wife, whose pregnancy kept her from attending.
In Lys, Balerion arrived with a large retinue of guards, who were granted generous accommodations in a wing of the Rogare manse. After a long week of mingling with the Lysene elite, he became confident that his visit was worth the risk - but on the eighth night, his trust was betrayed. A trio of assassins infiltrated his chamber through a secret passage, and though he managed to slay all three, Balerion was gravely injured. As he succumbed to his wounds, he ordered his nearest guardsman to return to Tyrosh with an urgent warning for his family.
The missive, however, was unnecessary. Talora Adarys’ sister, Manzi, revealed her complicity in the plot - and though she stood to gain control over their house, she was merciful enough to allow Talora and her children to flee the city. She set sail for Pentos, but her small ship was intercepted by corsairs, who - upon discovering her identity - took her as a captive to the island of Grey Gallows.
The Saan family patriarch welcomed them as guests - and scolded his men for their rough handling of the captive dignitaries. He immediately recognized the potential in Balerion’s children and offered the family his full protection and hospitality, as well as their concealment from Tyrosh. Though Talora initially accepted his offer for the sake of survival, she soon became an integral advisor to the Saan family, and her children were treated with privilege and generosity. The true ambition of the Saans, however, was easy to see: they believed that one of Balerion’s children could ride a dragon in their service, and to that end they began investigating the possible whereabouts of a dragon to tame.
The Son of the Sandrake Edit
As Talora Adarys and her children fled Tyrosh, her late husband’s dragon grew restless in his captivity. Fearing that Sunburst might soon break free of his chains, the Archon dared to present the beast with his young grandson. Many had advised him to wait, but Moreo doubted that the opportunity would last for long - and at the risk of his own death, Maelys Sandrake approached Sunburst in the emptied amphitheater. To his ailing grandfather’s delight, Varonos received no hostility from the dragon; Sunburst yielded to the courageous boy, and accepted him as his new rider.
Stormsong’s Return Edit
Early in the year 433 AC, the elusive Stormsong was seen for the first time since Aeryn Targaryen’s death. The dragon took a small, uninhabited isle on the western edge of the Stepstones as his lair, emerging only to hunt for prey along the Dornish coast. When word of his return reached Grey Gallows, the Saans believed that their opportunity had at last arrived. Balerion’s eldest son, the fourteen-year-old Baldassare, was sent to the dragon’s lair along with a party of the Saan family’s greatest warriors. His attempt to tame the beast was a failure, and several Saan men were burned alive - but the dragon curiously refrained from harming the young Otherys. Several moons later, Stormsong’s continued presence in the Stepstones lured a brave Volantene adventurer to his island domain. Approaching the dragon alone, he successfully tamed it - and immediately embarked on his ambition to emulate the conquests of Aeryn Targaryen. First arriving on Bloodstone, the late prince’s seat, he seized control of the island without violence; a dragon was all the leverage he needed to earn the allegiance of its people.
From this foothold, Vyrmidon Melos attempted to subjugate the rest of the Stepstones - but only two other islands were eager to submit. The Saan and Vunatis families, still intend on taking the region for themselves, defied his diplomatic gestures and vowed to resist any attempt at conquest. Though Vyrmidon knew that he could easily extinguish his opposition with dragonfire, he had no intention of massacring his enemies, as he understood that the rugged islands of the Stepstones were only as valuable as their number of inhabitants.
Enter Erinnon Edit
Baldassare’s failure to tame Stormsong caused the Saans to question his potential, but they ultimately resolved to allow him another attempt before abandoning the Otherys children. Rumors had circulated of a dragon lurking in the hills of Andalos, and a northward journey was hastily arranged. This dragon proved more receptive to visitors than the last, and did not hesitate to submit to its new rider. At last, the Saan family’s patronage had paid off - their ambitions were now supported by a dragonrider. Though Vyrmidon was alarmed by the presence of another dragon in the Stepstones, he did not dare to clash against him - instead, he sought to wrest Baldassare from the Saans’ hands and gain a useful ally. Likewise, the Saans were unprepared for conflict with Bloodstone; the young rider of Erinnon remained inexperienced. Regardless, the lesser lords of the Stepstones realized that they would soon need to side with one power against the other. Here the Saans’ acquisition of a dragon worked against them: the Vunatis family, among others, were quick to swear their allegiance to Bloodstone.
Thus the lord of Grey Gallows found himself alone in the region, and looked for a different path to hegemony over the Stepstones. He entered negotiations with Tyrosh, hoping to join the Triarchy as an equal partner - and one who would stand to gain should the three cities find themselves at war with Bloodstone. The Tyroshi, however, were hesitant to embroil themselves in the turmoil of the Stepstones. Though they did not dismiss the Saan ambassador outright, they continually refused to accept Grey Gallows into their alliance.
Nevertheless, the Saans began to propagate the idea of joining the Triarchy, believing that the three cities might be more receptive to an alliance comprised of more than one island. While some of the pirate lords were outraged by the notion, just as many saw potential in it - but none dared to openly lend their support to Grey Gallows, for they still feared the wrath of Stormsong.
The Scion of Sisterton Edit
Following the deaths of Lady Milanna Sunderland and her consort, Aegon Targaryen, their eldest daughter Mira preempted her brother’s birthright by taming their late father’s dragon, Meleyx. Already acquainted with the scoundrels of the northern sea, she immediately embarked from Sisterton at the head of a small fleet. Though her raiders were successful in northern waters, they soon needed a place to settle down. With the entire Essosi coast hostile to Mira’s corsairs, she traveled south to the Stepstones and seized the island of Last Refuge in the year 435 AC.
The Lord of Bloodstone was incensed by Mira’s occupation of an island that once paid him tribute, but he realized that a pact between themselves could thwart the ambitions of the Saan family. The upstart rider of Meleyx, however, had little interest in following in the footsteps of Aeryn Targaryen. She called the other two powers in the Stepstones to convene at a neutral island, promising that they could come to a mutually beneficial arrangement.
The three dragonriders, along with Baldassare’s Saan patron, gathered on the island of Dark Den, where deliberations began on the cusp of hostility. All were quick to agree to unity, but each of the three parties insisted that they alone were suited for the foremost position of leadership. The Saans rightly asserted that Mira Sunderland and Vyrmidon Melos were newcomers and outsiders, while the rider of Stormsong insisted that he had the stature to inspire and unite the men of the Stepstones - and the strongest of the three dragons. Once again, it was Mira Sunderland who brought an end to an impasse: she proposed that they divide the islands between them, and form a joint regime as a triumvirate. With some reluctance, all three parties concurred that nominally equal positions were the best they could hope for should unity be their goal. The next question was how to wield their unity; the lord of Bloodstone believed that they could topple the Triarchy from without, but Mira and the Saans were like-minded in their opposition to that notion. Ultimately, Vyrmidon was convinced by their argument that their fledgling regime was unprepared to stand up to its neighbors - and that diplomacy would be more lucrative in the short term. Three dragons, they concluded, lended enough leverage to pursue a pact with the Triarchy - not as constituent members of the Kingdom of Three Daughters, but as equal partners in an alliance.
The Alliance of the Narrows Edit
Had Moreo Sadaris, Lysarus Rogare, and Nymon Mar Noyne lived to see the reunifcation of the Stepstones, they might have done all in their power to disassemble it - but by the start of 436 AC, the old generation of despots had passed. The Archon fell to old age, the First Magister to illness, and the Prince-Admiral to an accident, leaving their cities in the hands of unseasoned despots. Ill-prepared to take a stand against three dragon riders, they believed that accepting the Stepstones’ offer of friendship would be in their best interest. Thus the two polities negotiated the establishment of the “Alliance of the Narrows”, under which they would pursue common policies regarding trade, diplomacy and war. Such decisions became the purview of a council of six, comprised of the Archon of Tyrosh, the First Magister of Lys, the Prince-Admiral of Myr, the Lord of Bloodstone, the Lady of Last Refuge and the Lord of Grey Gallows, with each still maintaining a great degree of autonomy within their own domains. This new alliance was quick to flourish, and by the end of its first year, it had achieved dominance over trade in the Narrow Sea. The balance of power had been upset in western Essos, and to the merchants of Braavos, Pentos and Westeros, the effects were already palpable - but the four dragons in the alliance’s service ensured that none could challenge their hegemony alone.