Mountain Clans of the Vale
The Mountains of the Moon in the Vale are home to a population of clans with a common culture that is distinct and independent from the rest of the Seven Kingdoms’ feudal society. They are a poor people that subsist by raiding local villages and attacking small groups of travelers. The clans have an egalitarian culture without class or gender restrictions. Some women even participate in raids. They are not considered vassals to any master, and will attack even the Lord of the Eyrie if he is not properly protected. The clansmen loot all of their weapons and armor, which are usually of poor quality. Some ride small horses that are suited to the narrow mountain paths. By the beginning of A Game of Thrones, there are more than three thousand warriors among all the clans, but they have not been considered a significant threat for centuries.
The mountain clans themselves include the Milk Snakes, the Moon Brothers, the Stone Crows, the Black Ears, the Burned Men, the Painted Dogs, and the Sons of the Mist. The Black Ears cut an ear off of their prisoners and display them as trophies, but leave their prisoners alive as a show of bravery. As a rite of passage, warriors of the Burned Men mutilate themselves by burning off a body part of their choosing, usually a finger or nipple. The more important the body part burned, the more prestige the warrior gains. The clans cooperate in many ventures, including raids, and some clans share close bonds. Conflicts between the clans are often resolved by payment of blood money, however clansmen are quick to settle personal grievances through violence.
Tyrion Lannister convinced the mountain clans to fight for Tywin Lannister on the promise of quality weapons and plunder. The clansmen fought at the battle of the Green Fork under the command of Gregor Clegane. Afterwards, they followed Tyrion to King’s Landing, where several of them served as Tyrion’s personal bodyguards and thugs. Tyrion later sent them out again to raid and harass King Stannis’ army before the Battle of the Blackwater. After the battle, the Stone Crows took up residence in the Kingswood and continued to raid, while the rest of the clans returned to their mountains.