An Oncomming Storm
House Wallon of Cocklesgrove Keep
Head Held High
Lands, Industries and Holdings:
House Wallon sits at Cocklesgrove Keep on the river Tumble, their lands stretching in the upper Cocklesreach from the great bend of the Cockleswent all the way up to the Midway Pond where they border the lands of house Bywater to the North. Laying at the heart of the warm Cockleswent valley, mostly close to the river, the Wallon lands are verdant and green, dominated by small ordered farming communities never straying very far from the mighty river or the multitude of small streams that feeds into it. The land around Cocklesgrove itself in particular is fertile with a significant population, which keeps both it and several nearby towns supplied. The river itself is already deep and broad past Bywater pond and after Midrush it is of a size where one cannot hope to cross without a boat, though both fishermen and merchants regularly ply the great waterway. It joins with the River Tumble near Cocklesgrove, creating two noticeable flats of fertile loess deposits one of which Cocklesgrove occupies. Parts of their lands are also lightly forested; especially towards the east where the terrain climb up towards the mountains, though once the foothills start so does the hold of the Wallons diminish.
The Wallon lands produce all the various bounties of harvest and hunt that for time immemorial has won the Reach renown as the breadbasket of Westeros. Farmers plough their fields along the river, raising crops of wheat, rye and barley as well as numerous vegetables and small herds of domestic animals. Wine production takes place in the slopes slightly higher up, with a few small lumber operations in the surrounding forests. Beyond this staple production however the area around Arkle Town is noted for its abundant yield of apples and pears, as well as the cider and wine made from these fruits, grown in large groves south of Arkle in the slopes down towards the river.
Arkle Town is also the largest, and only, town under the stewardship of the Wallons, with a sizable community and considered one of the four major centres of the Upper Cockleswent together with Bywater, Market Town and Cockleton, though smaller than the last two. It is situated along the Cockleswent River in a hook running down from the north which creates a natural harbour with calmer waters, an ideal place for landings where the Andals of old raised a small hillfort. The fort is long gone, but upon a rise on the mostly sandy hook still looms a tower, raised by the Wallon’s to protect the harbour and also control traffic on the river. This stone tower, called the “Cockerel’s Tooth” in local parlance, forms the heart of the town with the wooden palisades in a crescent to the west and the town within with the river and harbour to its back. In addition to its use as a commercial hub, easily eclipsed by Market Town and Bywater, it is noted for a flourishing wine and cider industry as well as extensive boatwright activity.
Defence, Laws and Military:
Cocklesgrove Keeping looking South
Cocklesgrove with its ancient keep, one of the Seven Brothers, is the main and many would say only real defensive structure on Wallon lands. Though a more thorough description can be found in Grand Maester James’ “Stone Raised High” it will suffice here to note that it is a rather small keep with a surrounding defensive ring-wall, raised on a small hill along the Tumble. Though possibly the weakest of the Seven Brothers it was once a far larger structure, though time and wars have destroyed the original castle, leaving a small but easily defendable keep remaining. It overlooks the fertile plains around, where several small communities have arisen and formed Cocklesgrove itself. Due to the very good harbour provided by the Tumble many smaller crafts with cargo bound for Notton or further south often moor here, creating a brisk business in the area and making Cocklesgrove one of the richest Brothers. This has also helped fund the Sept of Cocklesgrove, or the Cockerel’s Sept amongst locals, which is counted amongst the more noticeable septs in the western Reach and the third biggest in the Cocklesvale. Furthermore, the depth of the lower Tumble makes it possible to keep a significant compliment of ships at Cocklesgrove, making it an important player on the river.
Due to efficient government and patrolling the lands under the Wallons are not notably plagued by robbers or bandits, most such meeting a swift end at the gallows of Arkle Harbour. The Wallons also keep a small compliment of warships which spends most of their time hunting down criminal elements on the Cockleswent, river pirates in particular, a task at which they of late has generally meet with success, making the stretch from Market Town to Bywater one of the safest along the river. These ships also makes up one of the Wallons most important military assets as they play an important role controlling much of the river above Market Town. Notable are also the substantial garrison present at Arkle Town, charged with both policing the town as well as the defence of the “Cockerel’s Tooth”. Finally the Wallons keep a compliment of trained men at Cocklesgrove, the so called “Fighting Roosters”, and at times of war they, as is common throughout Westeros, raise a levy of trained archers.
Standing and Influence:
Though far from being the oldest or most prestigious house in the Cocklesvale the Wallons are both old and respected, with ties to most of the other major families in the region. Counting amongst the Seven Brothers, despite the comparatively sorry state of their keep, they are naturally included in most major events, councils or similar held in the Cocklesvale with the right to a place of honour at any table. Lord Ragard has in recent years used this standing, as well as his neutral position in the valley, to act as an intermediary and peace broker on several occasions garnering him respect and contempt in equal measure. Beyond the Cocklesvale however house Wallon is far less connected, lacking major ties to families of note, though it may appear as if lord Wallon is of a mind to change this situation.
House Wallon also plays a major role in trade and traffic on the Cockleswent River, holding not only swats of land along it but also several ships and one of the best harbours in its upper reaches. They have reputedly invested in several merchants plying their trade in the region, as well as working tirelessly to promote their own Arkle Town as a major hub of commerce, at the expense of Market Town, Bywater and Cockleton. Rumour has it however that in recent years Lord Wallon has struggled with a significant debt, incurred partly in failed ventures and partly during the hostiles of the War of the Usurper.
Lord Rodrick Wallon, the Warhen
House Wallon can trace its history back to the storied days of the Gardner Kings and, though many Maesters disputes the tale, it is said that house Wallon sprung from one of their darker seeds, a certain ser Rodrick “Warhen” Greenfield that was the only child of Mern Flowers, himself the bastard son of the inept king Garth 10th “Greybeard”. Ser Rodrick served his father’s cousin’s son king Garth 11th “the Painter” during his legendary scourge of the Dornish as a knight but also, some tales claim, as one of his foremost executioners. He was, the tales claim, one of the favourite brushes with which “the Painter” painted the Red Mountains red, burning villages and harrowing holdfasts without doubt or remorse. The more conservative tales simply hold him as a knight of great prowess who served his king fatefully. But be that as it may, for his steadfast service and unwavering loyalty, even when some opposed “the Painters” brutal excesses plotted against their king, ser Rodrick was granted land and title in the fertile Cocklesvale along the river Cockleswent itself. From the river, or possibly from his supposed nickname, he chose the fighting cockerel as his house’s sigil, purple for the royalty of his father’s bloodline and cool steel which had won him his name.
Despite his bloodthirsty reputation however, if he truly ever had one, the first lord Rodrick Wallon proved a good even able ruler and his son Ragard an even better one as they raised the ruined Brother castle at Cocklesgrove to something of its past glories, attracting both farmers and merchants to their prospering lands. The land was rich and the supposedly much-feared “Warhen” lived out his days in peace, though oft away at his king’s table in Highgarden. So further entrench his position in the region he married his four children, half boys and half girls, to several of the major houses in the region, notably his eldest son to house Dannett and his second to house Bywater, though it was only his second son Ragard who lived to rule at Cocklesgrove. Lord Ragard, the first of many, was to go down in history as one of the most able men ever to hail from the Cocklesvale, winning great renown as he led the armies of King Garland the Third into western Dorne and oversaw the storied “Bleeding of Blackmont” during which ever being at Blackmont was killed during a five year siege save King Perros Blackmont himself. After the “Bleeding” the Blackmont kings never again threatened the Reach. Also at home, skilfully aided by his wife Melysa Bywater, Lord Ragard’s rule was marked by sound judgement and a just heart. Thus, in the time of Ragard’s son Randal’s rule house Wallon ascended to the zenith of its power.
It was also in the reign of Randal’s rule that Arkle Town was founded by prominent men at arms who had served Ragard well during his many wars. Raised by a natural harbour it soon flourished, rising as a competitor to the great market towns of Cockleton and Bywater. Peace and prosperity seemed for the most part the rule for the lands of house Wallon, avoiding the worst of the conflicts of the Cocklesvale, yet this changed with the coming of the Conqueror.
House Wallon rallied to their king when the call came, marching down the Cockleswent with most of their forces and eventually joined battle at the Fields of Fire. Here Lord “Cocked Eye” John’s two oldest sons, Randal and Mern, died in the vanguard, consumed by smoke and dragonfire. Lord John was slow in following, but died two weeks later from a rotted wound. It was left to his youngest son to take up the mantle as Lord Ragard Wallon, the fourteenth so named, and when the Griffon Knight marched on the defiant Cocklesreach he rode out to face him near Arkle, meeting the renowned knight in single combat to spare his hopelessly outnumbered men. Thus was fought one of the most memorable duels in the Cocklesvale’s history, “The Griffon and the Cockerel”, though from the start it was an uneven match. Yet it is said that the young Cockerel faced his certain death without fear, refusing to kneel even when his sword shattered and his shield arm broke under the impact of Valyrian Steel. His head was held defiantly high, daring the axe to end his life, and it is said that it was Ragard’s valour that inspired the Wallon words, “Head Held High”. To call someone a “silver cock” has in the Cockleswent valley become synonymous with calling them stubborn, though certainly a tad bit more derogatory.
It was also for his valour Aeron spared the young man and sent him instead to the Wall with those of his men who wished to follow, leaving Cocklesgrove intact in the hands of the youngest brother Roderick. He however proved a lesser man, for when lord Tyrell hosted his new king, the conqueror himself, at Highgarden lord Roderick was found to have been part of a plot on the Dragon King’s life. Roderick died at Highgarden with his co-conspirators, part of the Wallon lands to the south was withdrawn and the diminished remains left in the hands of a cousin, Lord Gardon Wallon.
Since the time of Roderick “The Rotten” the Wallons have not made much of themselves, though their lands have mostly prospered because of it. Not until recent times and the rule of the current Lord Ragard Wallon, twenty-second lord to bear the name, that the family has once again risen in prominence, especially on the river trade. Yet the war took its toll on the house’s fortunes and though spared the many dead of other houses the Wallon’s trade ventures were laid in ruins and their defiant support of the old kings garnered them no love from the new rulers. Yet as peace returns to a new and changed Cocklesreach, who knows what the even industrious Lord Wallon plans.
Notable Household and Relatives:
Lord Ragard Wallon, age 38, Lord of the House.
Lady Elien Wallon (Mallery), age 33, Lady of the House. A fairly unattractive woman, the fourth daughter of Lord Luthor Mallery. Lord Ragard seems the only man in the world who sees something of beauty on her. Most says it looks as if Luthor used a Mallet on his wife when they made her.
Ragard Wallon, age 19, Heir to the House.
Alys Wallon, age 17, First Daughter.
Lythene Wallon, age 16, Second Daughter. She, unfortunately, takes a lot after her mother, especially her enormous horse-teeth; she is also deeply religious.
Marissa Wallon, age 11, Third Daughter and Darling. She has a little of both. Her appearance is that of a sweet thing of eleven, golden brown hair braided into two long shoulder braids and with a small beaming face.
Grandmother Yenney Wallon (Cocklestone), age 61, Grandmother. Deeply religious and especially caring for Lythene.
Septon Sirril, Septon in the service of house Wallon and caretaker of the Cocklesgrove Sept.
Jayne Wallon, dead, died age 16 during childbirth, Older Sister of Lord Wallon. She gave birth to Ser Joffrey Flowers whose father was Ser Duncan Septel. Said to have been very beautiful. Buried under the tiles of the Sept at Cocklesgrove.
The relationship between house Wallon and house Bywater, on a formal level, is cordial and diplomatic though not what one could call warm. However, there is building border tension between the two houses as both lay claims to the area around the Midway Rushes, which has yet not been completely resolved.