“Hang the traitor! He should be flayed alive for his betrayal!” one rather outspoken voice cries from the crowd. I would be more concerned for Ned if this wasn’t the 5th time he said this.
I look down at the man in disgust, resisting the temptation to kill him so that he would shut up. Why can’t he be like the other masses and just watch the show, or at least come up with some better material. Honestly the Lannisters need to come up with better grunts if they can’t even rile up a crowd properly.
I am currently lying down on the roof of a shop facing the plaza. I have been here for the past 3 hours, ever since the announcement for the trial was given this morning. I couldn’t have come later otherwise I would have been spotted by the ever increasing crowds that are filling the plaza.
Last night was a disappointment. They found Arya’s escape route and were searching the beach all night. They likely thought Arya would have tried to find a place to hide following the events of the previous night. They were very lax, especially toward the end of the night, but there was still no opportunity. There were about 200 guards on the beach spread out in groups of 3 to 5. On an open beach with very little cover, hundreds of eyes, no way was I going to get close enough to the walls to even scout the situation, let alone attempt to climb the walls. The only good news is that after today they will have checked all the places along the beach and leave. I can return another night to make my attempt.
I returned to the meeting point, prepared to rule out tonight and try again tomorrow, when I learned about the trial. This was bad. Rushing a trial like this means they already have the situation in hand and have a sentence prepared. This limits my potions and reduces my timeframe for action. On the plus side it speeds up our departure. Where we have anchored is unsuitable for long stays and we will need to leave before a storm hits. I sent the crew back to the ship and told them to wait for me.
The gates were still locked and I highly doubted they would open until the trial was over at least. So, I travelled along the wall from the gate, and found a seclude section where there were no guards patrolling along the top or civilians in the alleys. I fired 3 arrows at the 15-metre wall, at the 8, 10 and 13 -metre marks, diagonally above the other so as to be used by alternating feet. They all dug in several inches to the wall, nearly half of the shaft. With a running start I leapt at the wall and kicked on the wall twice, reaching the 8-metre mark. I used the arrow as a stepping point with my left and leapt to the next one with my right. I repeated this till I got to the top and climbed onto the walkway.
The arrow shafts had been bent by my feet, nearly snapping, despite placing my foot as close to the wall as possible to reduce momentum applied. If I had been prepared for such a situation, or needed a long-term path, I could have used steel or bronze shafted arrows. For tier 2 archers like myself they can be used to bring down heavy enemies or like this, create pathways to higher ground. After finding the plaza I picked the ideal location to gather information. Theshop is placed 100 metres from the stand where the trial will take place, the roof cannot be seen from the ground and is located closest to the walls of the city. Like this I won’t need to waste time moving through or around the tight crowds.
“Hang the traitor! He should be flayed alive for his betrayal!” The man shouts for the 6th time today, pushing my restraint to the limit as I resist putting an arrow in his head. I know he is just doing his job, but that doesn’t mean he should do it badly. Originally there was a lot of talk in the plaza over the suspicious nature of the king’s death. Robert might not have been a good king, but from what I heard he was well liked. The Lannisters have a reputation for cruelty, a combination of their attack 15 years ago and recent events. In order to counter the opinion against the trial, there are people like this.
When the crowd started to get crowded about an hour ago these screamers appeared, scattered around the plaza. They would shout something, people discuss it, then they move on to another area and repeat the same trick. Eventually the sheep start to think that everyone has this opinion, since it comes from everywhere, and scream their own insults and damming's so they don’t feel left out. Everyone wants to be popular and on the winning side, opposing opinions are dangerous on days like this. It is an obvious trick, if you see it from above, but the people down there can’t.
It doesn’t really matter, as the opinions of the crowd are only mildly significant. Though if they are on my side, that will be good, it won’t make my actual job easier as it needs to be done without anyone’s knowledge. I am here to find out Ned’s fate, and thus my next course of action.
If he is to be executed, I need to know when. If it is something else then I need to know what so I can decide if I should still free him or not. I still haven’t seen Sansa, and I will need to rescue her as well, which will be difficult if they are already on guard after saving Ned.
I wait for another 10 minutes, when there is a commotion from the far crowd. There is a large group of guards pushing their way through a booing crowd. They were Goldcloaks, armed with shields and maces for pushing apart the crowd. In the centre of them was Ned. He had a blackened eye, dishevelled hair and was limping on one of his legs. He was tied at the hands and held on both sides by guards.
About this time, form the opposite side of the plaza and group of palanquins was brought to the stands. The people that alighted were some of the most powerful people in the country, led by the crown prince of shit himself. The crowd over there seems much more positive, cries of ‘Long live the king’ and ‘All hail king Joffrey’ ring out. When both sides have reached the stands, the Grand maester, an ancient looking man with large chains around his neck walks to the front.
“We are gathered here today to render judgement on a most heinous crime." He rattles in a raspy voice. I am half surprised he made it up those steps with how out of breath he is with the speech. “The night before the last, our beloved king, Robert Baratheon, First of his name, protector of the realm...” He continues with the king’s titles. “...passed from this world from sickness. His first-born son, Joffrey Baratheon, was next in line to take the throne. However, in a despicable act of treason, the Hand of the king, Lord Eddard Stark, attempted to usurp the throne for himself.” There was a roaring from the crowd, boos and rubbish thrown in equal measure. The Grand maester waited for several moments for the crowd to die down before speaking again. “The evidence of these deeds are numerous and irrefutable. However, the king is a kind and just ruler. Eddard Stark is still entitled to the rights of every citizen in this just kingdom. He has begged for permission to speak for himself.” He finishes and bows to Joffrey.
I watch as Ned is brought before the crowd, clearly not in a very caring mood. Ned takes a deep breath, hesitates for a few seconds, then speaks. “I, Lord Eddard Stark, confess to the crimes against me!” he announces, shocking me. “I betrayed the trust of my friend, Robert Baratheon.” He pauses for a moment, then speaks in a quieter voice. “I tried to seize power from the rightful heir, Joffrey. On behalf of my years of service, I beg the mercy of the crown.”
This is wrong. I have known Ned for years, he would never betray his duty. He would also never beg, not to them. I watch as Joffrey walks to the front of the stage, his guards surrounding him. He has a smug smile on his face, mirrored by his mother. It takes everything I have not to shoot them both right now, but I can’t let emotions ruin the plan. This is the defining point, where my future actions will be decided.
“My mother has suggested that Lord Stark should be granted mercy. He will be sent to the Wall, stripped of all titles and authority, where he would fight defending the border with the order of the Black.” Joffrey declares. Suppose I should be glad he is a momma’s boy. If he is sent to the North that is the best option for me. I can wait until Ned has left, then try and rescue Sansa. I haven’t seen her today, so if she is still alive, she will be in the Keep, ideally the dungeon. What happens after the Starks are all back home and safe is no longer my concern. If the Starks want revenge, I will help them, but the planning will be done by those in power and know of the situation.
Joffrey continues to talk however. “But these are the wishes of soft-hearted women. As long as I am your king, I will never allow treason to go unpunished. I sentence him to death!!” He shouts. Well I should have known the fucker would never be smart or merciful. Well I need to find out when the execution is going to... “To be carried out immediately. Ser Ilan, bring me his head!!” … THE FUCK!!
The fuck is that little shit doing! Ned is the Paramount of the North, as high of a noble as you can get. Killing him in the middle of the plaza, as soon as the trial is over. That sort of thing is what wars are caused by. It seems I am not the exception to this thought process. The small council and the Queen are all rushing to Joffrey, trying to get him to reconsider. He doesn’t seem to listen, just keeps smiling and chuckling.
There is no chance of them getting some sense stuffed in his ears anytime soon and I can’t wait. They are already bringing Ned before a chopping block. Ser Ilan, a bald man with a face that gives children nightmares, puts on a black mask and carries a large sword to the side of the block. I consider options. I am too far to get there in time, even killing Ser Ilan would only buy me a minute before he is replaced with another, and I will have given away my position. I will have to either run, or fight. If I run, Ned is dead. If I fight, both me and Ned are dead. There are hundreds of guards in the plaza, everything from crossbows, spears and cavalry, while I only have 5 arrows and my sword. I would die and they would still kill Ned. It would be a pointless death.
I glare at the stands, thinking how I failed Ned, Arya and myself. It is as I am clenching my bow, nearly snapping it with my strength, when a voice appears in my mind. ‘They are of the North. They deserve better than a butcher’. I look to Ned and from here I can see his eyes and tell what he is thinking.
There is no fear, no guilt, only worry. Concern for the future and his family. Ilan walk up to the block, ready to cut off Ned’s head, when I decide to deny him. Ned will die no traitor’s death, and will be given a final feeling of relief before his death. I made Arya a promise after all.
I draw my bow, arrow aimed towards the stands, when I see a flash of gold, and anger courses through me. I knock a second arrow, 2 at once, and fill this second arrow with as much qi as I can manage, the shaft thrumming with energy,then I launch them both. I stand straight on the roof, takeadeep breath, and shout.
It was a surprising moment. I came here to find out what happened to the king, to realise there would be a performance.
The king was dead, the Hand had turned traitor, and now Joffrey was king. I am only a baker in Flea Bottom, I don’t know all these complicated people and high-born men and women. But I was there 15 years ago when the Lannisters invaded. They pillaged the city, made the streets run red with blood.
My own wife was raped and killed by their soldiers. I was lucky that I and my son were spared, though they beat me to the ground while my child cried from the next room. I say lucky because there were many families that had it worse. I know the new king is a Baratheon, and Robert was a good king, he never mistreated us, but King Joffrey just looks so much like the Lannisters that razed the city.
The fact that the king’s first declaration was to cut someone’s head off, even if they were traitors, makes me very uneasy. I watched as the executioner raised his sword, ready to swing it down, when suddenly something hit the traitor.
A solid thump sound echoed off him, jolting him. An arrow was suddenly poking out of his chest, surprising him and everyone else. In the sudden quiet from the previously roaring, now stunned, crowd, a voice bellows like thunder, ringing off the buildings. “ARYA IS SAFE!!! THE NORTH REMEMBERS!!”
The voice echoed so much, and the crowd was so clustered, I couldn’t see where the voice came from. It was when I was looking around to find the origin, that I looked back to the traitor. He was gazing upwards towards the sky, a smile appears on his face.
I recognize that look. It was the same look I had when I woke after being beaten by the soldiers. I had just cried my eyes out, my wife dead before me, when I heard a crying form the cupboard’s. I found my son there, safe. My wife had put him there so he wouldn’t be found. I was still sad over her death, but I couldn’t help but thank the gods that they had spared him. That same look appeared on his face, the one saying at least some good was left in this world. I watched as he fell to the ground, tears forming in my eyes for reasons unknown.
It was when I wiped my eyes that I heard the most horrible scream I had ever heard before.
This idiot is about to ruin everything. “Your majesty, I must advise against this. This action is rash and will have long term consequences.” Hiding my inner anger, I try to persuade Joffrey from this action.
“Joffrey, my sweet, please listen to me. This wasn’t the plan. Ned was to be sent to the wall, where he would live the rest of his life in misery, remember?” Cersei also tries to reason with him, applying to his cruelty and obsession with torment. A strange thing for a mother to say to her son, but it is probably the most effective manner.
The fact that even Cersei, who before today I would have thought to be the most vicious person in Kings Landing, realises how important this is scares me. If Ned was sent to the Wall, Sansa could have still been married and the North would not rebel. This would ensure the kingdoms stability, and the Targaryens could be resisted.
This single action will send the entire kingdom into another civil war. One that we may not only lose but that will ruin this kingdom, leaving it open for the greater threat. I was just about to try and convince the king again, before it is too late to take back decisions, when I see a light. It was like nothing I have ever seen before, and I have seen a lot. Before I could speak, I saw it fly in this direction. Luckily, I was not the only one to see it.
Ser Barristan Selmy, who had been watching the crowds for any signs of trouble, suddenly turned and leapt to the side, towards the path between the object and our group. The object collided with his arm, though instead of stopping, it went straight through the centre of his arm.
Piercing plate, then chain, then flesh and bone before repeating on the way out again. It continued it’s path unabated, flying straight into the head of Joffrey. He was facing towards the execution spot, so when the object collided with him it went straight into his nose, drilling till it was all the way inside. His face was still showing surprise by Selmy’s daring rescue attempt.All that can be seen of that look now is the slightly opened lips.
The strangest part was what followed. After the arrow stopped, deep in his skull, before he could fall, his head exploded. The back of his skull broke open like something was trying to break out of it, blood, brain and hair spraying in a geyser over the person behind him. That person being Cersei.
Her eyes were wide, as was her mouth at the time unfortunately. She watched as her son died in front of her, her last sight of him being the back of his head blown open like a melon. Joffrey slumped to the floor, falling backwards, face up so the arrow was pointing to the sky, his crown falling from his head and rolling away. I was not the only one watching at this point, the entire small council and Kingsguard watched as their new king was killed on the first day he came into his position.
Cersei finally reacted, screaming like a banshee, grief filling her wail. She bent her knees to her son, cradled his head and dumbly fiddled with the shaft. “M-m-my sweet, sw-ee-eet baby, it’s alright it will be okay. Mummy will fix it.” She stutters inconsistently, clutching the arrow, and slowly pulling it from the skull. The matter around it had been turned to pulp, bone and all, making it easy to withdraw. As she looked at her son, brains and eyes falling through the gap into the hole to the pavement, she seemed to break. She rolled her eyes, fainted to the ground in the pile of her sons blood. I can't help but think of how now both sets of Lannister’s famous golden hair are now soaked red.
“ARYA IS SAFE!!! THE NORTH REMEMBERS!!” This sentence resounds across the plaza. I turn to look at the other direction, noticing for the first time that Ned Stark now has an arrow in him as well, though in his chest. I see the shooter on top of the nearby buildings. He has a bow in hand, a sword on his hip and a daring look in his eyes. He watches Ned fall to the ground then turns and climbs over the roof to the other side, out of view.
That was Ser Ben Baskerville. I made it a point to memorise his face, as a competent tactician and incredible fighter. As the greatest archer in Westeros it is only fitting that he would be the one to make such a shot. I can see several in the crowds also recognised him, as expected for a tourney champion. I can imagine whether he escapes or not, the events of today will be sung about by every bard in the city tonight.
As I look at the dead bodies of the king and Stark, the fainted queen and roaring crowd I think to myself. I have no idea if this is going to be better or worse for the kingdom. For now, I will stand to the back, out of the way, and watch the braver people take charge. With new information and plans I will reattempt to make this kingdom safe and prosperous again.
I jump from roof to roof, till I am about 3 streets away from originally. From there I ditch my bow and arrows, falling to the alley beneath me. This is far enough away that the crowds are non-existent. Everyone in this area would have gone to the plaza if they could. The guards and soldiers will search the area where I fired from, though not before forcing themselves through the crowds. Even when they get there it will be pointless as I am already several buildings away from them. They would never expect a man to jump that sort of distance. That gives me time to get even further before they expand the search.
I run down the alley before turning right on the main road, heading for the walls. I pace myself, to recover the energy I lost from that shot. I put a lot of energy into that, intending to send the arrow through both Joffrey and Cersei’s heads. I did not expect for Barristan to get in the way and reduce the power of the arrow, letting Cersei live. Though I suppose from that scream that seeing your own son die in front of you in such a brutal manner is punishment enough... for now.
I have no sympathy for Cersei’s circumstance. Being a mother earns you no pity from me. We are all someone’s relative or loved one, yet we still kill each other. I feel more regretful of Barristan. That shot was more destructive than a regular arrow, the arm he used to block the shot will be ruined.
As I approach the edge of the city i spot the part of the wall where I entered and see some unwelcome sights. It seems my entrance was found, a dozen guards are surrounding it and looking down. Without stopping I run to the middle part of the staircase and climb it the same way I did the wall. Once on the stairs I run up the remaining steps and draw my sword.
With qi flowing, i swing 3 times in a single second, eliminating 5 of them before they even turn around. Another 2 swings and a thrust kill 3 more before they draw their swords. One of them falls backwards over the edge in fear. Another gets his sword out, though doesn’t attack me, too scared. The last just falls to his knees, pissing his pants in fear. I kill the man with the sword, look to the kneeling man, and slice his throat just as he starts to beg, then jump over the wall. I couldn’t have let him live as he would definitely sound the alarm and tell them where I was. With all of them dead I will gain a few more minutes before they find the bodies.
As I drop, I grab the arrow shafts, snapping them and slowing my fall. I roll when I land, and from a sprinting start I run through the alleys towards Blackwater Bay. The alarm is ringing at this point, likely realising that I had left the plaza. They would be shutting down the gates and maintaining a look-out at this point, but I have already left the city so it is useless. I still need to leave King’s Landing in it’s entirety. They will soon find the bodies and realise I have escaped and search the FishMarket.
I reach the water, passing several surprised fishermen. I toss my sword to the side and dive into the water. Assuming a front crawl I swim to the other side of the Bay. The city is separated from the other side by a mile of water, taking me about 10 minutes to reach the closest section of the Kingswood, at the mouth of Blackwater Rush. From there I know I am safe from any pursuit. They would never imagine I could swim to the other side of the bay, and instead assume I am hiding somewhere in either the city or FishMarket. Even the fishermen I passed would never think I was some assassin and report me. Reporting doesn’t go well in the slum areas, especially the docks where snitches are very easily taken care of.
I rest for half an hour, then start jogging towards where my ship is docked. I will tell them to raise anchor and set sail for White Harbour. They will have recognised me as the shooter and look into my past actions. I was not quiet about my ship and it will take them no more than a few hours to send out some patrol ships to inspect the shores for us. If I get there in less than an hour and set sail immediately, we will be able to avoid any pursuers.
I am not leaving Kings Landing forever like I once thought. I will return Arya to her brother, Rob, then my family home. After that I will return to Kings Landing with enough men and weapons and planning to save Sansa. And deal with the Lannisters who killed my friend and Lord. I once said I didn’t want to get involved in politics if they left my loved ones, friends and interests alone. Well now they messed with all 3. I may have a habit for avoiding trouble when possible, but that doesn’t mean I leave my enemies to grow in peace.
God explaining this to the Stark kids is going to be a pain.