An Oncomming Storm
A common Crossbowman amongst the Warhens
The mercenary company known as the Warhens is a unit local to the Cockleswent region, though they draw recruits from the entirety of the seven kingdoms. They are not a particularly famous or infamous band, though in the Cockleswent region they have become something of an established institution, absorbing local miscreants from bastards to delinquents. Many other, more honest men who for various reasons had to leave their home in the valley has also found their way into the ranks of the Warhens through the years. Though some employees of the more ruthless sort have found these local connections problematic it is for the Warhens a great strength, giving them a ready network to draw upon both for further recruitment, information and supplies in dire times. These connections have time and again proven useful, for though they have fought across the breath of the Reach and beyond the Warhens always returns to the Cocklesvale from which they originated.
The company’s origin lies in the chaotic years of the first Blackfyre rebellion and the subsequent downfall of the Redvers of Whitebridge. As has been described elsewhere the house of Redvers was completely annihilated in the aftermath of the rebellion, their castle torn down and the entire family put to the sword. Yet several of their smallfolk and soldiers lived on, and it was several of these shamed and defeated men that would form the original core of the Warhens. These soldiers, hardened by years of conflict, had little home in a war-torn Cocklesvale where the memories of the Redvers brutality was still aching like a raw wound. Many, as could only be expected, turned to banditry and crime, others left the valley to seek new lives elsewhere, but the hard core of Redvers men, well-trained and disciplined soldiers, were kept together by a certain Ser Robar of Del.
Ser Robar led his little band from the Cocklesvale, knowing that none would welcome them there, and instead hired his little band out as guards across the still smouldering Northern Reach. Having discarded their old standards at the defeat of house Redvers some of the soldiery liberated a gilded weather hen from the roof of the River’s Inn at Cider Hall and this was quickly adopted as their standard. They served in several minor capacities and proved successful in their line of work, hunting down the Bastard of Bitterbridge and proving pivotal in Lord Meadow’s defeat of the incurring forces of Lord Peasebury in the Grassy Vale. It was during these early conflicts that the companies combined arms approach was cemented, having drawn to it men skilled with a variety of arms.
But as men are want the aging survivors in time longed to return to the valley of their youth, and so in time the Warhens drifted back towards the Cockleswent. Finding that old enmities had, if not subsided then at least cooled, they took up several engagements within the vale. And though they would at late times ply their work far from the Cocklesvale they would always return. In particular they came to serve the ever warlike house Dannett on several occasions, though also further downstream in the Cockleswoods they have often found employment. Through the years the Warhens have also served in several conflicts of note since their foundation, both in and outside the Cocklesreach region. They were fighting for house Graceford at the siege of Hollow in 210 AC when the Great Spring Sickness reached the Northern Reach, leaving only one in eight men alive and nearly breaking the young mercenary company. Having recovered they fought long and hard against the Preston’s during the last of the Dannett-Preston feuds, garnering great fame at the Battle of Ramsfield were they held the Dannett rearguard together until the sun set. During the Third Blackfyre Rebellion they fought for the Targaryens amongst the many mercenaries hired by Gerold Lannister. As the last Blackfyre pretender reared his head on the Stepstones the Warhens was hired again, this time by house Bywater on behalf of the king and the mercenaries marched with them in what became known as the War of the Ninepenny Kings.
In more recent times the company has flourished, growing strong on the continuous tension sparked by the War of the Usurper. At the outset of the war the mercenaries were hired by house Ashford as the army of the Stormlanders approached, and at Ashford they fought for the Targaryen’s during the battle there. The company proved their mettle in the centre, acting as part of the anvil against which the Stormlanders were sundered. Their service transferred to Lord Tyrell the Warhens was part of the royalists forces pursuing Robert Baratheon’s army northwards, linking up with the army of Jon Connington at the Stoney Sept. The battle there took a hard toll on the company, though they managed to retreat from the city in good order, heading south. It was at this point that a new employer approached them and with the characteristic swiftness of mercenaries the Warhens swore service to Lord Lannister. Thus it was that towards the end of the conflict the Warhens marched with the Westerlander Host on King’s Landing, participating merrily in the infamous sack which followed. Returning from the war with their strength swelled by new recruits and purses filled the Warhens have since seem content with lesser tasks in the Cockleswent region. Notably they entered the service of house Goldleaf in 286 AC, whom they have served as wardens and soldiers since then. Mainly tasked with keeping order in Cockleton they also formed part of the Goldleaf forces repulsed at the Battle of Merden in 288 AC. What the future holds for the warriors of the Warhans is hard to guess, though with the clouds gathering over the Cockleswent few doubt they will have problems finding lords in need of their services.
Gear, Tactics and Composition:
The men of the Warhens fall largely into two groups, each commanded by a sergeant who in turn answers to the Company’s Captain. The first group, making up roughly sixty men or two thirds of the company, are armed mainly with long spears as their main armaments. The second section, numbering roughly forty men, are armed and trained with crossbows as marksmen. This composition, practised by many a mercenary unit across the breath of Westeros, is both resilient and versatile, allowing the Warhens to partake in a wide range of actions and handle many battlefield situations. When engaged in open battle as a full company the Warhens form up fifteen men across, with two lines of crossbowmen to the front. Flaking them are two groups of five crossbowmen not formed into lines. As the enemy comes within range the crossbowmen will fire, forcing the enemy forward. Once close the spearmen will advance between the ranks of their comrades, forming a new frontline bristling in three lines of spears which they then push forward into their foes. If hard pressed the men will form into a square, particularly if faced with cavalry. On battlefields oft dominated by heavy cavalry these tactics have seen mercenary companies such as the Warhens flourish, the unit being particularly apt at resisting charges by armoured knights and their horses.
Being armed with spears and crossbows, to fight like foot soldiers or act as guards in a variety of situations the gear carried by the Warhens is sturdy but in no way exceptional. Each man is supplied with a suit of ringmail, a gambeson and a heavy metal helmet, though some of the more senior members have acquired better protection such as a sturdy chest-plate or brigandine. Furthermore each man carries a sidearm of some sort, at minimum a sturdy club but several veterans have acquired swords or maces of better quality. Finally, as far as insignia and attire goes, each man is required to carry a patch with a prancing hen in yellow somewhere on their arms, commonly sown into a shoulder or sleeve. The company also have a designated standard-bearer, carrying the Golden Cock, and a drummer whose beat relays orders.
Known and Notable Members:
Captain Reynard Riverlyn, current captain of the Warhens.
Sergeant Lothor of Wolfsden, a large red haired man with a bushy moustache, sideburns and pig-like eyes. Encountered our heroes at the Golden Cock were he punched both Alain and Vemillion in the ensuing brawl.
“Sour” Pete, an old veteran very fond of sour-leafs.
“Tosser” Tim aka Timothy, a smallish man with mismatched blue eyes who at one point had a golden tooth. He still has the tooth, though it is no longer attached to his gums. Once kept Vermillion company during his captivity.
The Noseless man, a gaunt man with a nasty smile and no nose. The other of the duo whom kept Vermillion company during his captivity.