The Mountain Clans of the Vale are a culture, divided into clans of varying size and strength, who live in the foothills of the Mountains of the Moon, in the Vale of Arryn. Descendants of the First Men, they are considered primitive by the Andals of the Vale.
Traditionally, the mountain clans of the Vale are considered to be the offspring of those First Men who refused to bend to the power of the Eyrie. They live as men apart - possessing a culture and a lifestyle far different than that enjoyed by those that dwell in lower climes. Life among the Clans is harsh; they lack metal for arms or armaments, surviving by raiding nearby villages for loot and women. Relations between the clans themselves are not always cordial, either - while some boast close ties, others refuse to even eat together. Clansmen are known for settling personal disagreements in blood and combat.
During the War of the Five Kings the mountain clans saw limited use by Tyrion Lannister, who took a group of them on retainer and used them as soldiers in conflicts to the south. After the Battle of the Blackwater, whilst the Imp was wounded, many of his clansmen were driven off - returning to their mountains with their steel and booty in tow.
Among those clans to be driven from Kings Landing are the Black Ears, led by a woman named Chella - later called Chella King-Bearer. She and her four sons had fought alongside Andals during the War of the Five Kings, and when they returned to the Mountains of the Moon they did not do so empty handed. Horses, steel, armour, and other booty all followed them into the high hills of the Vale, flooding the Black Ears with strength they had never before known. This, plus their close ties to the Moon Brothers, set the Black Ears as one of, if not the most, powerful clans in the Vale.
Rise of the Horned Kings Edit
After the death of Chella in 311AC, her four sons - turned five sons and three daughters by that point, along with a score of grandchildren - gathered their clan for a council. Among the clans of the Vale all voices are heard at such meetings, and it was here that the future of the clan was decided. The Black Ears chose Chella's third son, Dryn, as their leader - and no sooner had he been chosen that the son of Chella, and his brothers, set out to assimilate or destroy all other clans in the region.
Dryn saw many victories, his influence quickly spreading over most of the other clans. Tales of his accomplishments grew into legend, earning him the nickname Dryn the Deathless. After several victories and the surrender of more than a dozen clans, Dryn named himself the Horned King, Ruler of the Mountains of the Moon. But in 317AC the Horned King and his armies crossed swords with an army from the Vale - and there met defeat, the King of the Mountains slain by a young knight.
After the death of Dryn, son of Chella, his brother Agra took up the title. Not as well loved nor as skilled as his younger brother had been, Agra still enjoyed the full support of those clans that Dryn had conquered. In 318AC Agra was slain in conflict with the Burned Men - and as he fell, so too did the unity of the clans.
The Black Years Edit
The three living sons of Chella all sought to restore their brother's kingdom - but none boasted the support of all the united clans. Factions arose, most clans choosing to separate once more: though several fought for each of the brothers, trying to reassert the old kingdom with their tribe on top. In the end it was useless - none of the surviving brothers boasted the same merits as their fallen brothers. Tholf Tooth-taker was murdered at a feast by supporters of his brother, Krugga the Defiler. Dormund, the youngest son of Chella, fled into hiding with the Redsmiths - and there lived quietly, siring sons and daughters.
In 321AC Krugga, the only living son of Chella still trying to restore the kingdom, was killed by knights of the Vale on the road after waylaying an unsuspecting convoy. With him died any thought of unity, the clans returning to their old states, though the Black Ears still boasted a large amount of steel weapons.
Recent Events Edit
Following her successful unification of the Clans in 379 AC, Cheyenne, the Chieftain of the Painted Dogs, adopted the Horned Helm of Dryn the Deathless. Little is known about her in the Lowlands, but those who survive her raids speak of a terrible cruelty, her cunning wit, and the scars that cover her body. Rumor among the smallfolk in the Vale has it she is even literate, and was raised among Andal nobility, but many dismiss these statements out of hand.