After the death of Raymon II Braelea
, his son became the main claimant to the Blossom Fields. Alain III Braelea
was a troubled man, however, and after suffering a defeat during his incursion into the Vinelands from Somae
and losing some of his closest advisors, he decided to hand control of the conflict to House Thewisy
"With his withdrawal, Lord Alain took with him the body of his mentor, Sir Beraud, but left behind his stomach for combat. Deprived of a father, with a life of hardship, and his quest to retake his home necessitating the future loss of those close to him, it is hard to place blame, though the disappointment of his allies was manifest." - Sir Rys Thewisy, CQ, Blood Red Blossoms
While it would become one of the most powerful Great Houses, the House Thewisy of the time occupied a small territory and was in a precarious position. Having not yet fully leaned into its soft power through the Crimson Quill
, nor acquired control of the entire Eastmarches
, the advisors to Lord Pelain III Thewisy
urged against openly taking the field. Instead, the Thewisys decided to covertly organize Loyalist
uprisings across their former territory.
The Ciderwinde League
Following the first uprising in Perryden
and the failed coup attempt in Cleavehill
, the Thewisys managed to convince House Cyrton
to rise up. Longtime vassals, allies, and cousins of House Braelea
, the Cyrtons had assisted them in the Raymontale and sent a contingent to fight with Alain. As lords of the Ciderwinde Strip, a prominent and fertile waterway, they controlled many small houses and the heart of the region's fertile land.
In 460AR, the Free Company
, having posted garrisons in Surlee and other Braelea towns and patrols across the valesides, were trying to pacify Perryden while maintaining the neutrality of other former Braelea vassals. As such, they were in a poor position to occupy the Fields alone, and decided to call in their allies, House Reed
. Lords of the Winerun, House Reed possessed a sizeable navy, and would be able to use the waterways of the Fields to their advantage.
"House Perry, small in number, unnoteworthy in lineage, unimportant economically, was through their bravery able to postpone House Reed's control over the Timber and thus the Ciderwinde, giving the Cyrtons sufficient time to fortify their river." - Sir Rys Thewisy, CQ, Blood Red Blossoms
As the Cyrton seat of Septhearth
, along with most of their territory, was on the Ciderwinde, they were vulnerable to a naval blockade or attack. To prevent this, the Thewisys persuaded the small house of Perry
to rise up at the mouth of the Timber
, to prevent House Reed's use of the river and give Septhearth time to prepare. With preparations as complete as could be expected, House Cyrton and their vassals revolted in 460.
The first order of business for the League, a name retroactively applied to the Cyrton-led coalition of Ciderwinde houses, was to relieve Perryden and guarantee their control of the Timber. The small town had held out for three years through a combination of grit, Thewisy-provided arms, and a daring sneak attack that seized many of House Reed's ships in port. Despite their bravery however, House Perry was in a difficult position, and House Cyrton arrived just in time. Defeating the besieging Free Company forces, they met up with House Perry and unified the southern Blossom Fields.
The Long War
Unfortunately for House Cyrton, their position was untenable. While the Braelea-allied territory was vast, most of their power was concentrated along the thin Ciderwinde, creating a long and vulnerable front. The professionalism and mobility and the Free Company meant the border was highly porous and the League's territory could be easily raided. As the conflict was not for the independence of the League, but rather to restore the Braeleas, they needed to survive until a Braelea heir could retake Surlee.
Thus began the long war, from the relief of Perryden in late 460 to the start of Etien IV Braelea's
reign in 471. The League's rapid strike at Free Company forces ground down into a decade-long holdout which saw punitive raids traded back and forth across the frontline. The previously fertile strip, and many of the valesides along Semillon territory, were decimated, setting the region back decades and displacing thousands.
The Thewisys were content to let the grind continue, as every raid set the Semillons further back, and only increased smuggling into their territory. However, the son of Alain Braelea, Etien, was coming of age in an impatient court of refugees. Having never seen Surlee, he was determined to win it back in spite of his father's deferments to House Thewisy. To do so, he snuck away and appeared in the Vinelands in 471, raising the Braelea standard and resuming his house's control over the war.
Etien's adventures, better discussed in the wider Braelean Hedge Wars
, eventually culminated in his being pushed back into the Murkmantle
. From here he led a campaign of raids, picking off Free Company forces which had encircled the Ciderwinde Strip, isolating them in their cities and towns. The ongoing siege of Septhearth was brutal, and Etien felt he had no choice but to relieve it, even though it meant certain defeat.
"We turned the inhospitable Murkmantle into our own verdant roadway, emerging now here, now there, at a speed shocking to the Free Company. The young Lord Etien was a man remade, and through his fury and prowess won a month long string of battles." - Sir Rys Thewisy, CQ, Blood Red Blossoms
In 473 Etien and his forces took the field, marching to Septhearth and forcing the Free Company to retreat. Unbeknownst to him, House Semillon had decided to focus on drawing out the Braelea heir and defeating him, before returning to clean up any remaining rebels. Etien pursued the Free Company to the shores of the Basselac
, where he fell on the 14th of Pyrae, 473.
End of the League
While House Cyrton had suffered greatly by Etien's inability to relieve their cities, their vassals suffered more still. Crab Hall
, Beau Hill
, and Perryden
were reduced to ruins in charred fields by the end of the conflict. With the last Braelea heir dead, their allies and vassals defeated, and their land destroyed, House Cyrton had no choice but to surrender.
"The loyalty of House Cyrton never wavered throughout the entire conflict, and they resisted even in the waning of our morale during Lord Alain's tragic rule. Our inability to effectively relieve the siege of Septhearth was Lord Etien's greatest regret, and perhaps it is for the best he did not live to see the end of his most noble and gallant vassal in the terrible storm Semillon brought upon them." - Sir Rys Thewisy, CQ, Blood Red Blossoms
While houses like Braelea, Braehill, and Aimonne were wiped out after their loss to the Semillons, the wider community of noble houses, especially Salis, Thewisy, and those in the Vestral Downs were taking note of the excess of spilled noble blood. As such, and to facilitate the most fertile parts of the Blossom Fields coming back as quickly as possible, the Semillons chose to spare most of the nobles of the Ciderwinde League.
All of House Cyrton's vassals were allowed to continue ruling their towns, and House Cyrton was spared the sword. However, they were forced to swear an oath against participating in future rebellions, forfeit much of their property, and accept exile in the Braelea quarter of Somae. They would be replaced by a Free Company lieutenant and Semillon loyalist in the form of House Lagrose