- "Abandoned by Aemond, Ser Criston marched the royal army back to King's Landing, intent on recapturing the city himself. Instead, he was trapped and cut to pieces by the Riverlords, who had sworn to support Rhaenyra's claim."
- ―Viserys Targaryen
The Butcher's Ball was a battle during the Dance of the Dragons. Although it was a relatively small confrontation, it marked a decisive point in the war to take place the death of Ser Criston Cole, military leader of the Greens, Lord Commander of the Kingsguard and Hand of the King Aegon II.
After being abandonned by Aemond Targaryen during the Fall of King's Landing, Ser Criston Cole, the military leader of the Greens, Lord Commander of the Kingsguard and Hand of King Aegon II, tried to take back King's Landing.
In the books
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, Ser Criston Cole took his 3,600-strong army south from Harrenhal after the Blacks' victory in the Battle by the Lakeshore. He intended to join forces with Prince Daemon Targaryen and Lord Ormund Hightower. He was not joined by Prince Aemond Targaryen, who instead chose to burn the Riverlands upon Vhagar.
Criston's force traveled south along the western shore of the Gods Eye, but the Riverlords practiced scorched earth tactics and burned their forests and villages. They used guerilla tactics against the Greens, causing many to desert and join the Blacks. In the village of Crossed Elms, they posed as corpses and attacked Criston's men, killing twleve of them before the Blacks figured out what was happening.
Criston's force were ambushed at the stony ridge south of the Gods Eye as they traveled towards the Blackwater Rush. The Blacks were outnumbered two to one by the combined forces of the Riverlands and the North, who were led by Lord Roderick Dustin. Lord Dustin, Ser Garibald Grey and Ser Pete of Longleaf declined Criston's offer of single combat and he was killed by arrows, with hundreds of his men being killed as they attempted to flee. It was the greatest victory the Blacks achieved in the Dance of the Dragons.