- "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
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.
However, the Riverlords, who supported Rhaenyra's claim, lured him into a trap and killed him.
In the books
Following the blacks' victory in the Battle by the Lakeshore, Ser Criston Cole, the Kingmaker and Hand of the King to Aegon II Targaryen, took his army of 3,600 remaining greens south from Harrenhal in the riverlands. Criston's intention was to join his force with that of Lord Ormund Hightower and Prince Daeron Targaryen, which was marching from the Reach. Rather than accompany Criston, Prince Aemond Targaryen took his dragon, Vhagar, to burn the riverlands.
Criston's greens traveled south along the western shore of the Gods Eye lake, but the river lords practiced scorched earth tactics, burning their forests and villages. They used guerrilla warfare against the greens, many of whom deserted or joined the blacks. At the village of Crossed Elms, Criston's forces were attacked by men disguised as corpses, losing twelve men before realizing the ruse.
While heading toward the Blackwater Rush, Ser Criston led his greens into an ambush at a stony ridge south of the Gods Eye. The greens were outnumbered two to one by the forces of the riverlands and the North. Lord Roderick Dustin sounded the charge of the blacks' vanguard, which consisted of his Winter Wolves and the river knights. Ser Garibald Grey, Lord Dustin, and Ser Pate of Longleaf all declined Cole's offer of single combat, and the Kingmaker was instead slain by arrows. The greens quickly collapsed, with hundreds of them killed while trying to flee the ridge.
Ser Criston's death in the Butcher's Ball marked the high point of Rhaenyra Targaryen's fortunes. However, Prince Aemond and King Aegon II still remained to carry on the greens' cause.