Jaime Lannister POV
“Why are you doing this?” Cersei asked the second she was through the door.
“I could ask you the same, what was it father told us before we left the capital?” I asked in response, knowing full well the answer.
“They tried to murder my son, the fact I didn’t ask for all their heads is already mild enough.” she tries to deflect.
“He had 2 broken fingers, they’ll probably heal by the time we return if not a week later. You know what I am talking about.” I put down my sword that I was sharpening and checking for damage, and turn to face her.
“Father told us to try and win over the Starks if we can, and if we can’t then to avoid their ire. We both agreed that after the accident with the boy we would keep quiet and try not to gain attention.” I remind her when it is clear she doesn’t want to admit it. When that boy found us on the tower, I knew what needed to be done, reluctant as I was. If there was any other option that wouldn’t have ended with the deaths of my entire family I would have taken it. When I think back to how I pushed that boy I wonder whether it was a test by the gods. The worst part is I don’t know if I was right or not.
“Ned Stark is a naive and incompetent old fool, from the distant North, he’s no threat to us.” Cersei states as she picks up a chalice and fills it with wine.
“Naive, yes, old, maybe, but he is not incompetent. He has ruled over the North for 17 years and has a firm hold on his bannermen. But it’s not his strength we need to worry about, the Lannisters outnumber the Starks 3 to one. It’s his stubbornness and sense of duty we have to be careful of.” I pause to wet my throat, noting Cersei is still dismissive. Father explained some of this to me in a letter, and I pieced together the rest, and I wonder if Cersei either didn’t understand or just ignored the advice. Likely the second.
“Ned is the hand of the king and about to enter the snakes den that is King’s Landing. With his attitude he will likely bite everyone with even a bit of corruption, which is everyone. He will be torn apart, but not before leaving his mark on his enemies. That’s what we are right now. If we waited until we reached the capital we could have turned everyone against him and even brought down our own enemies with him. But this stunt has turned his full attention onto us, and worse everyone else’s.” She is frowning now, I can tell she is getting the idea, but I need to push the importance. “This is the first confrontation Ned is having before he enters the politics of king’s Landing and it is against the strongest power in Westeros, us. If he wins it will define the momentum of the Starks rise and our fall. Instead of rallying against him, they might choose to step down from him to attack us instead.”
“But it doesn’t have to be you that fights, the Hound is sworn to fight to the death for Geoffrey, he would fight instead.” Cersei sighs and consents to the importance to this duel, her only remaining issue is her concern for me.
“Perhaps but we can’t risk it. That knight is called Ben Baskerville, he was knighted 2 years ago at one of Starks tourneys. The fighters of the North can’t be compared to the ones in King’s Landing but the fact he has fought in dozens of fights in the last 2 years since then and hasn’t lost yet proves his skill. The Hound is good, but I'm better. We can’t risk losing this fight.” I hold her in my arms and embrace her. She stays like that for a while before we kiss and enter one another.
The sun crests the horizon, a chill spring wind sweeps the crowds as they stand around a rough ring in the ground about 30 metres wide. The king declared the duel would take place the next day so to allow the combatants proper rest, though it didn’t help me except give me more time to worry about what is coming next. My family came last night, Elsa in tears, asking if I was going to be alright. I tried to reassure them that it would be fine. They are now standing with Brutus next to the Starks, Arya looking particularly concerned and guilty. I heard she tried to ask her father several times to protect me which warms my heart.
Before I arrived, Nathan asked me if I needed help putting on my armour. It is the scale variety, an expensive set made by the Tully family, that when worn looks like fish scales. I bought it last year due to its light weight and effectiveness at deflecting arrows and cuts, though it is quite weak to thrusts. As an archer primarily and someone who relies on speed to fight with a sword it was the best option. I told him no and to instead to fetch my hunting gear and sword, a set of leather with slots for several throwing knives and a pair of hunting knives on each side. This is a trial by combat, not a tournament, so all and any weapons are allowed. This startled the audience and Ned asked me if I would be fine with such a light gear, to which I said it was perfect for the job.
Jaime on the other hand was decked in full king’s guard plate armour, minus the cloak, with one of the finest swords attached to his waist. King Robert stood up from his seat of honour.
“We stand here before the gods, New and Old, this day to decide the fate of Ser Ben Baskerville, who has requested trial by combat, representing himself. My son, Geoffrey Baratheon, will be championed by Ser Jaime Lannister. May your blades strike true. Begin.” He declared the start of the duel and sat on his makeshift throne with a drink in his hand.
We both drew our swords at this point, standing 5 metres apart, and assumed our stance.
“Nothing personal Baskerville, let’s give them a good show.” Jaime calls to me, his voice slightly distorted by his helmet, though not enough to conceal his confidence
“Apologies Ser Jaime, but this isn’t a show.” My face loses all emotion, and Jaime pauses as he sees me looking at him as no man should ever look at another. I lift my sword overhead and declare, “This, is a hunt!!” with those words I swing down and throw my sword straight at his chest.
Jaime is shocked, but he still manages to twist his body and use his sword to change the direction of the projectile enough that it flies to the right of him. This rapid motion, combined with the blow from the sword, throws him off balance and exposes his left side. With a wide stance he regains his balance as he suddenly feels a sharp pain in each of his legs, causing him to collapse to the ground. As he glances towards them he sees 2 of my throwing knives lodged in each of his hamstrings through the gap between his greaves, the blood flowing in a slow trickle.
I stand up straight returning to my original position. ‘Checkmate’ I think as I note both knives hit their target.
“Surrender Jaime” I tell him
“You damn coward, Baskerville. Why would I surrender, I haven’t lost yet?” Jaime directs a scornful, hate filled glare my way, while he refutes my offer. He adjusts his position to cover his leg, sword in front to fend off any follow up. It is pointless as I have no intention of attacking.
“You have no chance of winning now, due to the fact you can no longer strike me.” I tell him, which brings a confused look. “Look at our respective apparel.” I hint.
Everyone notices the distinct difference between our armour, the more martial backgrounded already noticing the issue and realising my plan, to their great displeasure. Jaime also notices the problem when I make no move to attack, and even seem to be keeping my distance. He gets one of the most enraged looks on his face and seems to be doubting I could be this despicable. I need to hammer the situation home so I still explain it.
“You are wearing a complete set of plate armour weighing about 20kgs, now supported by 2 bad legs. I am in fit condition, in equipment weighing only a few kilos at most. This arena may only be 30 metres wide but I am more than capable of staying out of your range.” The reveal of my plan brings complaints and calls for an honourable fight from the audience, but I ignore them and focus on Jaime.
The rage is clear on his face now, his helmet discarded. He reaches for the knives and with a grunt pulls them both out, inviting a small spurt of blood.Fortunately for him, I didn’t hit any arteries. With his sword as support he rises to his feet and charges at me. The audience is cheering for him at the moment, except for the North faction, the visiting lords and their guards want the ‘Kingslayer’ to remove the dishonourable knight. Ironic.
His efforts are futile as I simply retreat to the edge of the ring and run around the outside. Jaime tries to keep up, but between the armour and his wounds he can’t reach me despite every effort. As the minutes go on his legs bleed more and more and he eventually slows to a stop. If the audience wasn’t forbidden by threat of death, I bet one of them would have tried to hold me still as I passed them, allowing Jaime to stab me. When 5 minutes had passed since the start, Jaime finally stopped, the loss of blood too great.
“Baskerville!!!”He yells and then pants before continuing. “Fight me like a man, or kill me, just stop this foolishness! This is humiliating for me, you and your lord. Do you have no care for his name.” He had realised there was no way to kill me and was trying bait me into ending it, even if it meant his death. I had to admire his determination to die before surrendering.
“Like you said, nothing personal, but I can’t kill you. You are the son of Tywin Lannister, Lord Paramount of the Westerlands and one of the most powerful men alive. You are also the brother to the queen. I may just be some ignorant fool from the countryside, but even I know the folly of killing you.” It is time to perform step 2 of my plan. See I never had any concern that I would lose to Jaime. He is a good fighter but even without the earlier trick I would have won. With my knives I could have landed 3 or 4 of them even with his best efforts to dodge, and then I could have carved him up. If I was feeling flashy, then I could have used qi to strengthen my body for extended period.
At the peak of 1st tier I have much more energy to spare than years ago, when I first broke through. I could boost my strength for about 2 minutes, moving so fast and strong he would be lucky to withstand a dozen or more blows. I’d likely be exhausted and unable to move at the end, but I would have had an over 95% chance of killing him. The problem was winning without killing him.
The Lannisters are one of the most powerful families in Westeros, of same status as the Starks and even if his father was able to understand that it was me or him and not seek revenge, the bitch queen has already shown her stripes. If she was willing to have me killed and tortured for breaking 2 of her son’s fingers, imagine what she would try after killing her brother. She is the sort of person who would use dirty methods, and I don’t fear assassins but I don’t want to test all my food and water for poison for the rest of my life.
This led me to this little performance and reveal. The effect was immediate, the lords and knights already start to comprehend my reasoning. Although they still aren’t happy with my actions, they understand that they would likely try to avoid that fate at all costs if they were in my shoes.
“Surrender Jaime. If you continue then your wounds will only get worse. At best you will ruin your muscles and you will never fight again, at worst they will get infected and have to amputate them. If you feel you need to regain your honour then I will duel you again another time, so long as it isn‘t to the death, with no tricks involved.” I try to convince him of the logic, as the only part of my plan remaining is reliant on Jaime.
Since this is a trial by combat, it can only end in several ways. First is I am killed which means the gods say I was guilty and the sentence is carried has been carried out. The second is Jaime dies I which case I am innocent and can go free. However, there is a third method. If Jaime surrenders and the surrender is accepted by all other parties, namely me, the judge, in this case the king, and the prosecutor, Geoffrey, then he will be allowed to withdraw and I am innocent.
He looks down for a moment, seems to consider for a moment, then says “Get it over with, a lion doesn’t beg the dogs.” Fire burns in his eyes, his decision made. I sigh, draw another throwing knife and ready myself to plant it in his skull. I will likely have to bring my family back to the North and go into training for a few years until I have sufficient strength. Whether the Lannisters leave us alone or not will depend on whether Ikill their entire family in secret or not.
“WAIT!!! Stop, don’t kill him! Robert do something he’s your brother-in-law!” Cersei was screaming from the side, trying to get Robert to cancel the fight or something. She was in hysterics and had lost her previous demeanor that looked to be in charge of everything.
“What would you have me do woman, the idiot doesn’t surrender.” Robert tells his wife causing her to break down in tears. It’s likely she would have rushed into the ring if the king and Selmy weren’t holding her back.
I sigh and resolve myself to making an enemy for life when I hear a mutter. “I surrender”.
I turn to face him and realise he was looking to Cersei as well. I was the only one who heard him so he spoke louder, “I surrender!”
The king heard him this time and looked to him in surprise followed by everyone else. His sister in particular looked shocked followed by relief followed by shame as she realised it was because of her that he swallowed his pride.
Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth I spoke, “Ser Jaime Lannister, your love for your sibling is most admirable. I am sorry our first duel had to end in such a manner.” I accept his surrender with a deep bow. By implying to the audience that not only is this not the last time we will fight, but also that he only surrendered because of his love for family, I am saving as much of his honour as possible and hopefully avoiding another conflict till he asks for a rematch. By the time his legs heal and he comes for me I will have broken to the 2nd tier and have no fear of him or his family.
Like that the most confusing and possibly stressful duel in the last 50 years came to an end.