Follow The Golden Flow
Name: House Cairnagee
Motto: Follow the Golden Flow
Lords: House Lannister
Allies: House Falwell, House Garth
Enemies: House Algood
Defense: 28 (Hall 20)
Influence: 36 (Second Son 10, First Daughter 10, Third Son 5)
Lands: 13 (Mountains/Coast/Stream 13)
Power: 30 (Trained Warships 10 – Names, Elite Garrison 9 – The Gilded Cairns, Trained Archers 6, Trained Scouts 6)
Wealth: 62 (Artisan/Weapon Forger 10, Mine 10, Mine 10, Marketplace 10, Port 10, Maester 10)
History: In the age following the truce between the First Men and the Children of the Forest, House Cairnagee was born out of a chance discovery of rock with golden veins by a hunter bathing in a mountain side stream. The cunning young man, instead of turning over his discovery told the local lord he could produce more of the valuable metal, if only he was given the means. So goes the legend of Filnagee the Sly, first lordling of House Cairnagee and soon a very rich man. Smallfolk from the surrounding lands were convinced to relocate with promises of riches beyond their dreams, yet few but Filnagee and his descendants actually saw any wealth. As lords fought and succeeded each others in controlling the land, House Cairnagee was always ready to buy peace from the victor and supply him with a steady stream of gold. Though this provided little glory or notice, it did provide a chance to build up defenses and expand the mining operations that had made the House in the first place.
Nearly a thousand years after the Andal Invasion, the natives of the Iron Isles split themselves from the two great nations. It was during that time they began to raid the nearby coasts, including the one housing the Cairnagees. For years, these “Ironmen” struck the Cairnagee port in vain. Frustrated by this resistance, the Ironmen organized what should have been a decisive attack on the Cairnagee port. Yet, the wealthy house had prepared its defenses well and when the strike came, it was successfully rebuked in a large battle. With the power of the Ironmen temporarily curbed, House Cairnagee’s victory gave it accrued influence in the region and left it with battle tested defenses. Above all, though, the main resulting achievement of the House was its now impressive naval force.
While the people were rejoicing in this victory, the Maester, Drustan Drust, took note of an important lesson. The wealth of Cairnagee was defended by valiant men, but the walls sheltering those men were not enough to deter an invasion. After all, why fight and lose valiant men when you can stop an opponent before he reaches the village and the keep? Drustan convinced his liege that the harbor needed more extensive defenses. The lord at first wasn’t receptive to the idea. After all, the enemy was defeated and walls were costly. Drustan had to appeal to his sense of pride. Not only such defenses would help the village, they would show to the world the might of it’s leader! The coup de grace was on the plan of the Maester: a statue of the victorious lord at the highest point of the defenses, one that would be seen by all merchants and travellers entering Cairnagee’s lands. While the statue was more or less ignored by travellers, the message of a safe harbour was well understood by the traders. Merchants that were sailing the sea started to put Cairnagee on their route, increasing the trade passing through Cairnagee lands.
Many centuries went by with House Cairnagee repeating the same patterns as the power centers shifted ever and ever again during the invasions and the infighting. The relative stability even allowed it to take up House Layden as vassals. However, systematically avoiding struggles by buying peace at the lowest price made House Cairnagee complacent. Amassing huge amount of wealth in pure gold and having access to exotic goods from two continents made House Cairnagee decadent.
It was duly noted in the Acaiac Records by Maester Zormdac that Lord Byron the fifth, which would later be known as Byron the Dusted, indulged in dragondust, a «spice» made from dragon burnt human remains, more than safety allowed. To satiate his ever-growing thirst for the rare and costly spice, Byron invested in more mining ventures and had the miners work in less than humane conditions. Driven to paranoia by the drug and the miners’ protest, he had Ser Linton of House Layden decapitated shortly after the poor man tried to reason Byron into allowing ill miners to return to the care of their families. Byron invoked that Linton was threatening to overthrow him. Though no one, nor surviving members of Lynden House, nor the populace, nor the traders, believed their Lord, he was still their master.
Five years went by after Linton’s death with Byron excentricities. He had claimed the Layden’s riches for his own. Many peasants, traders and mostly miners had fled. Even his soldiers, morally disturbed by the part they played in the oppression of their fellow countrymen, deserted. Then, suddenly, after House Lynden scinded its ties with House Cairnagee and before Byron could mount a violent reprisal to punish the traitors, he succumbed to a violent attack, probably dragondust induced, and spent the remaining 10 years of his life in a catatonic state. Maester Zormdac became regent and educated young Lord Eyram till he was of age. The damage done by Byron was permanent, even though the departure of House Layden and the new mines discovered insured a greater flow of gold for the family when Byron was there no more to dilapidate it.
Up to this time, historians still debate whether Maester Zormdac was trying to heal Byron back to health or if he was really subduing him with other potent drugs to prevent further downfall of House Cairnagee. What is known however, is that since the times of Byron the Dusted, Maesters of House Cairnagee are renowned for their knowledge of elixirs and other droughts.
Even centuries later, House Cairnagee had not recovered from the rule of Byron the Dusted. Lord Thorin decided the House’s policy of isolation should be countered by making overtures to nearby Houses, in order to form strong ties to one or more of them. It was not easy at first, for House Cairnagee was notorious for going at it alone and was unwelcome in an already tangled web of alliances. This changed with Aegon’s invasion of Westeros. When King Loren Lannister marched to confront the invader, he called upon his vassals to join him. House Cairnagee was able to lend some troops to the cause, but other, poorer, Houses didn’t have the means to field many soldiers. As such Lord Thorin began lending gold to each of them with favorable condition, garnering favor. To the biggest neighboring House in need, House Garth, he slipped in the condition of a marriage between one of his sons and one of Lord Garth’s daughter, hoping to lay the foundation for a lasting alliance.
Despite the defeat of King Loren Lannister on what will be known as the Field of Fire, House Cairnagee came out of this particular ordeal for the better. With the King’s abdication to Aegon soon after, few things changed in the Westerlands, but now the Cairnagees had found a staunch ally and many Houses still owed them gold.
As the Cairnagee’s situation was getting better, disaster struck. A powerful earthquake, later called “The Great Shock”, made the mountains tremble. The devastation was terrible. The tremor destroyed one of the main Cairnagee gold mines, burying alive all the workers inside. A few hours later, an avalanche of snow and rocks, coming from the mountains, swept through the village on the coast, destroying defenses and homes alike. The walls could be rebuilt, but soldiers and especially villagers, were harder to replace for the Cairnagee, who never had a very populous domain. Of course, the financial impact was also considerable.
The troubled times of the Blackfyre Rebellion were hard for the Seven Kingdoms. House Cairnagee had to face hardships too. The defeat of Lord Lefford and Lord Damon Lannister made the Cairnagees fear that the winds of fortune were changing. They began flirting with the Blackfyre, promising to help them in the hopes that the new winner would spare the small house when it would come to power. The Lannisters, fearing the erosion of their power base and lacking means to enforce their will, had to resort to another strategy. They offered one of their own daughter in marriage to House Cairnagee. The debate in the Cairnagee throne room was fierce. With this offer, the House had no other choice than to pick a side in the conflict. Finally, in light of the indecisive nature of the conflict, and in front of such an offer, dices were thrown, literally. Lord Cairnagee, seing each sides as equivalent, took a dice and threw it. Fate decreed his son would marry the sixth daughter of the Lannisters. The marriage was a great event in Lannisport and with it, house Cairnagee had a minor say in the affairs of the Lannisters. The newly married heir prove to be a great diplomat. He use the uncertainty of the conflict to train his own cadre of elite bodyguard, that would later become part of the Cairnagee standing forces. With his guile, he managed to increase the regional power and influence of the Cairnagees, while his neighbors were ruined and losing ground by the conflict. Ironically, this most difficult period for the seven kingdoms were a golden age for the Cairnagees.
After this fateful decision, House Cairnagee returned to its habit of lending money to whomever most needed it (and could pay the highest interest fees). While nurturing lucrative agreements with the Lannister, their immediate lords, they failed to see that royal troubles were brewing and that the different parties they made agreement with were beginning to pit themselves against each other. At the sack of King’s Landing, one of House Lannister archer captain noticed that some of the elite guards used exotic weaponry that could only had been provided by the Cairnagee’s trading network. Word eventually got to Lord Lannister that one of their vassal, and newest blood relative, was engaging in commercial activities with the enemy. Under threats of treason accusation, the Cairnagees had to accept an agreement in which part of their lands were transferred directly to the Lannisters. This was the start of the modern Cairnagees’ decline.
The decline of House Cairnagee started during and after the War of the Usurper. Lord William, after the dubious death of his father, took the House in hand. By producing a large and strong string of descendants, he thought he could many alliances and agreements. Yet, the reputation of the House during the war greatly diminished the possibility of forging any alliances. Some of the best knights of House Cairnagee, upset by the way the Lord is managing his land, decided to leave in favor of another House, taking some of the Cairnagee wealth with them.