These are my adventures.
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During the Wars of Valyrian Expansion, one woman emerges victorious.
The Rhoynar city-states; map courtesy of wikipedia.
Approximately one thousand years ago, the loose collaboration of city states located along the Rhoyne river network came under threat as the civilization of Valyria expanded towards the Western coastal regions of the Eastern Continent. Though the city-states were not unified, in the face of invasion, Prince Garin led 250,000 men in defense of the cities. Though Garin’s forces temporarily halted the Valyrian advance, they were soon defeated in the face of their adversaries’ superior military technology. The great city states—Chroyane, Ghoyan Drohe, Ar Noy, Sar Mell, and Ny Sar—of the Rhoynar were utterly destroyed in the conquest and the continental power vacuum which engulfed the Eastern Continent 500 years later following the geological cataclysm of unspecified nature (the so-called “Doom of Valyria”) which destroyed the center of Valyrian power.
Map depicting the path of Valyrian expansion, and the path of Rhoynar migration. Courtesy of wikipedia.
In the face of Garin’s defeat and the slaughter of the vast majority of Rhoynish men, Queen Nymeria of the Rhoynish capital and city-state of Ny Sar emerged from out of the chaos to unite the survivors—primarily female—of the conquest. With her in the lead, the remnants of the Rhoyne fled in a ten thousand ship fleet across the Narrow Sea to the Western Continent. After a voyage marred by grief, storm, disease, and encounters with slaver vessels, Nymeria’s fleet landed on the east coast of the peninsula now known as Dorne. There, instead of going to war against the massive fleet at his door, Dornish regional hegemon Mors Martell formed a marriage alliance with the now exiled queen. On the day of their marriage, Nymeria burned her ten thousand ships in a gesture symbolizing the collective grief and new identity of the Rhoynish people.
Dramatic re-imagining of the arrival of Queen Nymeria and her ten thousand ships on the shores of Dorne. Art by Roman Papsuev, image courtesy of the Braavosi Museum of Art.
In a conflict rather revealingly known as “Nymeria’s War,” Mors Martell harnessed the collective power of Nymeria and her forces to unite the peninsula of Dorne from one of loosely allied and warring lords into a singular political entity. As a symbol of his own assimilation to Rhoynish governmental customs, Mors Martell took the title of “Prince” instead of “King” and introduced equal primogeniture to the peninsula. The line of Martell has ruled the peninsula ever since. Martell rule and their historic union with the Rhoynish helped keep the peninsula strong even in the face of continental dynastic conquest 700 years after Nymeria’s arrival.
The conquering dynastic house—the Targaryens—consistently failed to conquer Dorne, and it remained an independent polity for 197 years after the initial conquest of the Western Continent. Indeed, Dorne only became a part of the political entity known as the “Seven Kingdoms” as the result of a marriage alliance. Their resilience in the face of the power and advanced military technology is often credited to the enduring spirit of the unifying Queen Nymeria in the Dornish people.
And indeed, the influence of Rhoynish culture on this region remains strong even one thousand years after their flight from the Rhoyne. Its rulers retain their titles of “Prince” and “Princess,” and women retain their inheritance rights despite a Northern culture which places little political or social importance on the rights of women. However, Rhoynish assimilation to life in Dorne was never total. The “Orphans of the Greenblood” imagine themselves not as a community of Dornish men and women, but as lost children, separated from the waters of Mother Rhoyne—the deified form of the great river. Some returned to their ancient homeland and can be seen rowing up and down the Rhoyne in pole boats carved out of the burned hulls of their great queen’s fleet.
Dorne’s location within the Western Continent. Map courtesy of wikipedia.
Today, the ruins of the great city-states of the past lie along the banks of and submerged within the Rhoyne and its tributaries. Legend has it that, as the Valyrian conquerors captured the defeated Prince Garin, he invoked a curse in the name of Mother Rhoyne to destroy the conquerors. That night, the story goes, the waters of the river rose, and the invaders were drowned.
The submerged ruins of Chroyane. Painting by Dimitri Bielak, image courtesy of the Volantis Museum of Art.
Regardless of the veracity of this legend, it is a fact that the ruins of that city of once legendary beauty, Chroyane, lie partially submerged in a portion of the Rhoyne known as the Sorrows. The ruins of Ghoyan Drohe, Ar Noy, Sar Mell, and Nymeria’s great city of Ny Sar may be seen along the banks of the Rhoyne and the Little Rhoyne.
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