It has been 5 weeks since we arrived in the capital, much longer than we initially expected. The original plan was to stay for about a week at most, see the sights, buy some souvenirs before leisurely returning home. That plan was disrupted 3 days after our arrival when the king announced that there would be a hands tournament with unprecedented prizes.
Ignoring the joust that I had no intention of participating in, the melee had a first place prize of 20,000 dragons and archery was 10,000!!! That is an insane amount of money. The North is considered one of the poorer regions and the Starks quite frugal. The largest prize for a tourney was 100 gold. That’s a lot of money still, as much as some small lords might make in a year, after expenses. I had saved about 200 dragons over the years, stored at the iron bank in Winterfell. I was planning to wait a few years when Ed and Elsa were married and I had saved about 1000 dragons before setting off to explore Westeros. When I was looking at the Red Runner previously, I was wondering if I could make use of similar services to see parts of Essos as well.
This tourney throws all previous considerations and worries out the window. The archery is a given, I could win with my eyes closed. I would have been worried about the melee before I broke through, after all, this isn’t the North and this is the greatest tournament in the last decade with fighters from the entire kingdom and beyond. But now I have the speed and strength of 3 men, my sword when imbued with qi is sharper and stronger than all except maybe valerian steel, and even then, it would be a tie. Although I am still worried there might be someone who has comprehended qi like me or some other form of energy like the Wyrm tree, so far my sources have given no indication of such in Westeros.
That makes for a total of 30,000 dragons. With that forget renting space on a ship, I could buy a ship. 10g for a decent mid sized ocean vessel, 10g for the entire crew for 5 years, and another 5 for expenses like docking, supplies and lodgings. I would leave the remainder deposited with the Iron Bank or maybe the Starks, 1g would be withdrawable by my siblings for emergency and still plenty left over for extra costs.
Unfortunately, my decision to stay had left my family and I in a financial situation. I originally only brought 3 dragons with me for kings landing. Ed had 4 stags to buy some things and Elsa was going to rely on me for some spending money. The money I brought was originally enough for us to stay for a week comfortably, not 6 weeks. We had our own rooms each, but now Nathan stays with me and Ed with Elsa, as well as cut down our costs to the absolute minimum. Even then it wasn’t enough and I had to borrow another dragon from the bank with mine and Nathan’s horses as collateral.
That wasn’t the only problems we came across. Ed found the night life in the capital to be too enticing and between the drinking, gambling and whores he spent his savings in just 4 days, and nearly got scammed into taking a shady loan by some crooks. Instead he begged me for 3 days for some money till I told him he could either go work at the docks for some spending money or I would send him home. He has since been working as a porter in the warehouses and is a lot more reasonable in his spending.
It was fortunate that he already got into some minor trouble a few years ago in Winter Town, where he borrowed too much and I had to pay it back. The amount was small and I had him living on nothing but black bread and potato soup for a month after that until he paid me back, learning his lesson.
Elsa got into trouble with a completely different crowd, and partly because of my lack of thought. Elsa spent her days seeing the sights of the city and visiting the markets, even though she lacked the money. I and Nathan were busy training for the contest, so during the days I had Brutus look after her. Unfortunately, King’s Landing isn’t as used to seeing giant hounds as Winterfell. At first everything went well, people would clear the street at first, then curious children would stroke him and merchants would offer free gifts to Elsa. But after the first week she came across a noble who asked if Brutus was for sale. He was a reasonable man and understood when he was rejected and engaged in some discussions about me uponrecognising my name, before leaving. Others however didn’t take it so well.
Some were just annoying and would repeatedly pester Elsa with increasing prices or bother me while I was training, but others took it too far. They felt I was snubbing them by not even negotiating and was just an ignorant bumpkin knight from the North. They would insult my sister and humiliate her in public. The next night they would find their horses killed by an arrow and their carriages set on fire. Wasn't me of course, I was nowhere near the area as many can attest.I was as far as half a kilometre away, on a nightly stroll.But most got the message and stopped. I decided to take precautions and asked Ned to write a letter in his name to warn any future idiots. Since then there haven’t been any more troubles.
There was some good news, Ethel arrived in King’s Landing today along with several of his men. He heard about the tournament 4 weeks ago, so he got 10 of his men from the Raven’s and took an escort job for a merchant down to the capital. He told me he came to participate in the melee, though he acknowledged his low chance of winning. Ethel is one of the best swordsmen in the Raven’s, just below the captain, so his captain told him he could try his luck to raise the reputation of the Raven’s Claw. I was glad to see a familiar face and offered to buy him and his men a drink when I win to which they laughed and agreed.
Robert (king) POV
“Come on you prissy girls, put your fucking backs into it!!” an eager spectator shouted and I agreed. The 2 men in the ring were wrestling but were evenly matched and they had been acting cautious for the past minute, making me wish I could declare I would break their skulls If they don’t finish it soon. Alas, this fucking crown means I have to act as my ‘station’ demands it. I don’t know how Ned manages it, appearing so stoic yet not stuffy like my brother, and he doesn’t even seem to be trying. He sometimes lets that attitude get in the way of the important things, like when he debated me on that Targaryen girl. Doesn’t he realise that if we wait until sheis an actual threat it will be too late. It is not just the Dothraki we have to worry about if she comes to power, it is the people she inspires.
If the Targaryen girl has the entire horde at her back, then previous supporters would likely back her as well. Dorne would be the first and the Reach might follow. If that bastard Balon throws in his weight as well we might just lose without even fighting the girl, and even then it would be a civil war that we would take decades to recover from. Despite his protests I still ordered the assassination, soon it would be carried out and I could put it in the past.
The rest of the tournament was a success though, haven’t had this sort of fun in years. Old Thoros came as well, have to introduce him to Ned, show that man how you are supposed to spend these tournaments. Drunk and happy, not constantly grumbling over coppers.
Oh, as I was daydreaming someone finally won the wrestle. The left picked up the right and they smashed into the ground so hard I felt it here. The crowd loved it and I agreed with them, it was a brilliant move. “Well done, you have pleased your king. Have this man awarded 20 crowns!” I announced to the crowd’s immense pleasure.
“Is wise to give so much to a couple of sweaty commoners for just throwing one another onto the ground.” Cersei, the bane of my fun, inputs. The woman never could appreciate the finer things in life. She likely wouldn’t have attended these tournaments if it wasn’t required of her, though who knows, maybe making me miserable would have been enough motivation.
“Quiet woman, the commoners love that sort of thing and therefore they will love me, isn’t that right Selmy?” I reply to my wife before asking Selmy who is standing guard beside me today.
“It’s true the common folk enjoy large rewards, especially the unexpected ones, your grace.” Barristan replies, understanding as always. Barristan Selmy was a man I always respected, even when he served the Mad King. He was someone who was like Jon Arryn and Ned, loyal to a fault.
“Tell me Selmy, what’s your thoughts on the finals?” The tournament is coming to an end after 2 weeks, unfortunately, and the minor contests have all finished.All that’s left is the finals for the main events tomorrow, archery, melee and joust.
“There are 3 finalists that were already favourites to win. Lord Gregor Clegane in the Joust, Thoros of Myr in the melee, and Lord Varis Yronwood. But there are 2 dark horses this time around your majesty, Ser Loras of house Tyrell and Ser Baskerville of the North.” Selmy’s words put a smile on my face, firstly because one of them is Ned’s man and because it puts a frown on Cersei’s face.
“That’s right, Baskerville is the only man to be the finalist in 2 events, the melee against Thoros and archery against Varis of house Yronwood in Dorne.” I drive the thorn a bit further, reminding the wife of the man that beat her brother. I may not have liked how it was done, but thinking of that proud prick kneeling in the mud makes me smile, and the fights he’s shown so far have all been clean and quick, showing his undefeated title isn’t for nothing.
“Yes, your majesty, Ser Loras has been popular in the joust for his showmanship and looks, winning many of the ladies support. Baskerville on the other hand has been a popular among the men and children, particularly the commoners. It seems his rise from common birth acts as an inspiration for many, and between his unique hound and his impressive swordsmanship, he has been called the ‘Beast of the North’ by the commoners.Even the nobles have taken to calling him the ‘Starks Fang’. It seems news of his relations to the Lord Hand has spread. Though personally it feels they have neglected the truly impressive aspect, which would be his bowmanship. Though it is hard to tell from a layman’s perspective, he has accomplished each of his victories in the archery so far with minimal effort.” Good old Selmy, sharp mind and eye, no different than all those years ago.
“’Starks Fang’ how fitting.” Cersei comments from the side. I had almost forgotten she was there, so engrossed with worthwhile conversation. “All the real knights compete in the joust, the melee and archery are just side sports, any barbarian can swing a sword hard if they train, the joust requires skill, intelligence and courage. Baskerville is nothing more than a coward that runs whenever a real challenger appears.” Cersei down plays his accomplishments while also raising the opinion of her men. The fact that Clegane is the most likely to win the joust is a Lannister man and Baskerville defeated her brother by basically running away is not lost on me.
“Ser Baskerville is of common birth, your Grace, he never rode a horse until the age of 16. While most knights and lords learn the ways of the joust from childhood, either as a squire or from tutors, Baskerville was hunting. While your Grace is right in that the joust requires a good deal more skill than the melee or archery, he has surpassed many in both.” Ned walks up from out of no-where and defends his man’s honour. I thought the man said he was too busy to attend the tournament, dealing with his daughters.
Sansa had been spending time with Joffrey and they seemed to be getting along, despite the ugliness on the road. The other one was given a dancing instructor, though from what Ned and Selmy told me the man is a swordsman from Braavos, one of the best and most expensive kind as well.
“Hmmph, of course you would say that.The fact remains that he hasn’t even won the contests yet, and even if he did it would only be because the best fighters are either in the joust or don’t bother to participate for a few dragons offered as reward.” She dismisses Ned’s claim and leaves her an out at the same time, the snake. Though I think only a Lannister would call tens of thousands of gold ‘few’. Like this we watched the rest of the events in tense silence, wishing that I wasn’t king so I could just drink myself unconscious.