Skirmish of the Bloody Ford Military Conflict in Destiny | World Anvil
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Skirmish of the Bloody Ford

Taken from the oral histories of both Clans Fraser and Winters, codified by the Bardic House of MacPhee

Written by David_Ulph

The Conflict


Lord Maucom VI Bondsbreaker, the Aasimar descendant of Demi-God High King Conall Bondsbreaker and then-King of the Hinterlands (the Highlands of Vallatorlan), managed to become the next in line of succession to the Anthor Throne of the Kingdom of Vallatorlan (the Lowlands). Maucom VI of the Hinterlands became Maucom I of Vallatorlan. Both Kingdoms finally worked in a sense of unison for the first time since the fall of the Empire of Midland.
His descendant, King Alisaunder V / II, pushed for the two thrones to be united and to mantle the ancient title of High King once more. The Confederation of Vallatorlan was finally agreed upon as all Princes and Lesser Clan Lords were instructed to sign a scroll of loyalty to the next true embodiment of Conall Bondsbreaker and acceptance of the Confederation. All clans with any power agreed and sent representatives to the city of Anthor to kiss the ring of High King Alexander.
Clans Grey and Winters had long since developed a rivalry originating during the land's time in the Midlandian Empire. When Emperor Bridgett von Apollyon was aiming to create stability throughout the Empire by personally granting titles, Clan Winters was granted the city of Grewmure and rulership over the entire Grewmure region of the Hinterlands. Clan Grey, however being subservient to the Prince of Winters by being settled in the Grewmure region, were granted sole power over the wide and deep Grey River which links north to the trading coastline of the Yuregrim region. This caused tensions where the Prince of Grewmure would always need to pay fairs of Clan Grey to use the river for trade, or always ensure to give a subservient clan favouritism to keep them on side.
When the time came to swear loyalty to the High King, Prince Conall Mór Winters invests his clan's great funds into hiring various magically trained individuals to sway and influence the actions of Lord Dougall Grey. The Greys decided to send a servant as a messenger to Anthor, influenced to choose one who acted as a spy for Clan Winters, who would never reach Anthor to kiss the High King's ring for Lord Dougall. Then, Dougall was influenced to celebrate by going north up the River Grey to raid for a month or two and during this time Conall Mór managed to gain the title the Sheriff of the Hinterlands for his Clan, to act as the arm of the High King's influence in the Highlands. Conall Mór would send "letters" to the keep of the Greys asking them to stop their insolence and swear fealty to the rightful High King.
When no answer arrived, the Prince of Grewmure had full reason to bring harsh judgement down upon Clan Grey for treasonous rebellion and open up the rulership of the River Grey to someone more malleable to Winters rule.


As Clan Winters' spies in Yuregrim sent word to Grewmure that Lord Dougall Grey was returning from his raids on Clan Farquhar ships, Prince Conall Mór finally had his chance. He had a message sent to the High King immediately showing that his clan will show an extreme act of loyalty and their suitability as Sheriffs of the Hinterlands by stamping out the rebellious Greys and all those in league with the traitors. Anthor sent forward veteran legionnaires battle-hardened from the warlord period following the Empire, to bolster Clan Winters in a sign of good faith. Clan Winters marched north to the River Grey.
300 Grey and Farquhar raiders were travelling south on the River Grey, happy to finally be back in familiar territory and close to their families before Autumn set in and they would need to work the fields at harvest. The river shallowed and the Farquhar boats could no longer sail further south past this ford, so banked up and allowed the Greys to disembark and set up a camp. The day was nearing an end soon and both clans sought to celebrate a final night of joy together, so the alcohol and pipes were brought out. They had been drinking for an hour or two before the Winters cavalrymen started to line the tall hills bordering the river. No one noticed them until it was too late.

The Engagement

The cavalry of Clan Winters stormed into the revelries of the Greys and Farquhars, cutting down any and all they could, turning the ford red with their blood and burning the Farquhar ships. Any that attempted to flee were fired upon by imperial crossbowmen. All lords from Clan Grey and Farquhar weren't captured but immediately executed for the crimes of being traitors apart from Sir Fraser Grey, kept secure and away from the skirmish to suit the future needs of Clan Winters. On the Winters side, Prince Conall Mór was killed in the chaos of the ford and Sir Conall Beag - Mór's son - had his right hand severed at the bone.


The Bloody Ford, as it is now known, is a mourning site of both Clans Farquhar and Fraser covered in cairns denoting the deaths of each family patriarchs who were killed without question. When the lord of Clan Fraser dies, they are placed on a rowing boat on the ford and sent down the River Grey burning as a means of funeral.


The remnants of Clan Grey and their elite warriors were killed in this battle, with Fraser Grey forced to sit down before the High King and now-Prince Conall Beag Winters to sign a forgiveness treaty swearing fealty to both parties and establishing the Clan Fraser of the River Grey in his name.
Clan Winters used the effect of the battle in the eyes of the High King to increase their power over the Grewmure region entirely, ruling as nobles above the other Grewmure clans rather than as respected equals like Vallatorlan culture seeks. To remember the battle always, Conall Beag's personal coat of arms had a red right hand emblazoned atop the arms of the clan and it became the symbol of Winters supremacy. All clan lords below Winters were required to wear brooches with red right hands on them to formal occasions lest anyone forget what happened to those who do not serve the Sheriff like Clan Grey.
Prompts Advent Calendar #3

WorldEmber Article #4
Conflict Type
Battlefield Type
Conflict Result
Slaughter of House Grey's clan rulership and most elite fighting force


Clan Grey
Clan Winters


300 Raiders mainly from Clan Grey, though many too from Clan Farquhar  
  • Lord Dougall Grey the Shipwright
  • Sir Somerled Farquhar
  • Sir Fraser Grey
600 Warriors, mostly Winters cavalrymen though reinforced with veteran legionnaires after the fall of the Midlandian Empire  
  • Prince Conall Mór Winters
  • Sir Conall Beag Winters


All slain on the battle or executed afterwards apart from Sir Fraser Grey
Few casualties, though Prince Conall was slain


Defend against the late-night ambush
Officially make revenge against Clan Grey for not swearing loyalty to the newly confederated High King, though personally to force the remnants of Clan Grey to allow Clan Winters to have full access to the Grey River

The Words of Bard Colman MacPhee

The sky was lit in a deep red sunset, glistening off the lapping waters of the River Grey which started to splash and shudder most vigorously as the storming helsteeds of Winter came crashing towards the celebrating Greys and Farquhars. No one fully realised until the first horses battered into the tents and the piper impaled by bloody lance held by an uncaring Devil of Winter.   In the chaos, Good Lord Dougall managed to reach the nearest boat and don his antler-helm and grab his mighty greatsword. When he emerged, despite minutes only passing, the armoured horses were cutting through his kinsmen like a farmer would with hay. He hoped some may escape but at the corner of his eye, he noticed the imperial arbalists lying in wait atop the hill ridges, piercing the bodies of those daring to flee with marksmanship aim. He could not move, and his sight failed him, cold tears streaming down his sobering face as he witnessed what would make 80 pregnant women he knew by hand wake up the next morn husbandless. If only they had not stopped at the ford, maybe there would have been a better chance.   Good Lord Dougall wiped the tears away and spotted the glistening armour of the Grewmure Lord atop his steed and hacking down upon his son-in-law Somerled Farquhar. The chaos of his mind settled on one aim, and the stag-warrior marched out to meet his rival.   Conall Mór charged towards the Grey patriarch, still atop his horse and raising his war-pick to strike the Shipwright Stag down like the Farquhar heir just before. Using his greatsword, Dougall cleaved into the horse while ducking the pick's swing, downing the High Sheriff and instantly killing the horse. Another cavalryman knocked Lord Grey to the ground, scattering his sword into the ford now thick red with the blood of his kin.   Rising back to his full height, Dougall prised off his dented helm and threw it into the ford. Conall was still trapped underneath the weight of his horse, struggling to get free and near drowning in the blood of his own shedding. He struggled and struggled but no one in his chaos could see him to help, all except Lord Grey. And so Dougall stormed over, picking up the severed limb of the horse he felled and beat down upon Conall until he struggled no more.
Written during the uprisings against Clan Wintersblood domination of the Hinterlands as a means to vilify the origins of their power and add to the heroics of Clan Fraser in finally standing up for themselves

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Cover image: by Vertixico


Author's Notes

Okay so this prompt turned out to really pull at my own heart strings. While pretty much all of the above is classic made-up worldbuilding, the skeleton is an up-scaled version of actually something which happened to my own family during the island clearances. My family, the Johnsons of South Uist (Clann Alasdair Aonghus Ruidh), was of the most powerful clans in the area and ran the place similar to a mob but replace the criminal activities with co-operative community building. The local lairds hated this, as he held one of the most secure ports on the Isles' side to mainland Scotland and would have to pay the family patriarch Angus Johnson small fees every time they docked and set sail.   An English lord bought the entirety of the island of South Uist and started evicting all but the essentials to keep a kelp trade active, though many didn't have to be forced into complete poverty aboard ships headed to the New World because some clans still held land like the Johnsons. One by one, these isolated pockets were raided by police and forced illegally out or just bought over by the Lord's massive profits in Aberdeenshire.   But Angus Johnson was tricked. An auction would be held for his land where if he turned up, he would be able to choose where his land went and what price each part would be if he decided to sell at all. If he didn't show, the land would be carved up for pennies to whoever the Lord chose. The police informed the Johnsons of a certain date and the three Johnson brothers set sail into the Minch to fish for a few days before returning with plenty time before the auction.   When they landed, the auction had already happened and the entirety of the clan were arrested and brought out to the port by police to wait for the patriarch. Angus did not accept his clan's eviction and attacked a police officer, with his twin brother Donald helping some of the family break free in the chaos and run for the hills. Everyone who ran, including Donald, Angus and all of Angus' children and grandchildren were shot in the back. My ancestor, Rory Johnson, was forced to comply to the Lord's demands or the remnants of the clan be evicted to the New World. If he didn't accept, I don't think I would have ever existed.

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4 Dec, 2020 21:31

What an awfully unfair conflict - and I hate that it's based on a true story. As an English person, sorry to your ancestors. <3   I love the section written by the bard on the side. It really gives an insight into the emotions of it all.

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet