Nine Years LaterMature

The mare between his legs was a spirited creature. Almost as eager to defeat this knight as he was. His huge lance felt heavy in his hand after such a long tourney, but this was his last opponent before the finals. The knight he faced was an experienced horseman hailing from Verdura, capital of the Garden Isle. His deep green armour embossed with crawling ivy leaves, twining across his chest plate, pouldron, vambrace, and helmet. No points for guessing what the sigil of his house is. Thought Tywin as his horse bucked eagerly. Patting her gray speckled neck he leaned down shushing in her ear, the horse calmed slightly. Nala she was called. He'd had her since he was thirteen. A finer example of her breed he was sure couldn't be found anywhere outside of the Gold Isle, Nala was one of the few things in this world that fully accepted Tywin, so much so that if anyone else attempted to ride her she'd buck ferociously throwing them off in seconds. 'Easy girl.' he said rising in his saddle. As his opponent climbed into his saddle with the help from his squire Tywin looked to the crowds.

Thousands had travelled from every isle for the king's wedding celebrations; every inn in Valaria was packed to the rafters with other-islers, some coming to compete in the varying tourneys, others to make their names as singers. But most simply came to enjoy the festivities. Tywin had rarely seen the jousting arena so full, his king sitting in a grand leather arm chair in the royal box beside his future queen. A stunning beauty from the Gold Isle by the name of Emelia Viscero. A beauty Tywin would have gladly met in his bedchambers each night. As well as them dozens of highbrow lords from varying isles sat with them, smiling, laughing, joking and enjoying the sight of the knights falling from their horses after a loud crack and shower of splinters, with the occasional and reluctant passing of coin from one lord to the other as they made bets. The royal box was in the centre of the circular seating area, to the left and right long benches sat on two raised dais for lesser lords and ladies along with their families, ladies of the court and knights not partaking in the festivities. 

After those small squares everyone else was made to stand, and everywhere people could stand, they did. The two stories were packed; children whooped and waved miniature flags they had made at home, adorned with the sigils of their favourite knights. Some brave adolescents had even climbed onto the tiled roof of the second story, laying flat against the roof tiles with their heads peering over the edge onto the action below. 'Ser Tywin,' squeaked one of the tourney officials. 

'I'm no Ser,' he said nonchalantly.  

'Oh well...erm...your opponent has requested he be introduced first.'

'Of course,' If he thinks that will keep him in his saddle he can go whenever he pleases. The official bowed low before scurrying off towards the green knight who was now saddled, helmed and had lance in hand.

'What did he want?' asked Marrel his squire. He was a good lad of fifteen years, blonde with a rugged face and a ghost of a moustache on across his top lip.

'Greeny wants to be introduced first,' he answered turning back to the crowd.

'But the best knights always go first!' raged the young man.

'Do they? What difference does it make; he'll be eating dust in a few moments anyway.'

'It's a matter of honour young one,' said the deep rumbling baritone of Tywin's armourer Hodrik Silverhammer. A name gifted to him by the High Lord of the Iron Isle for his fine works as a blacksmith, once upon a starlit sky the huge bald man was a knight, but then one day stopped swinging swords to forge them. Wearing his thick leather apron with tools and hammers of varrying sizes hanging from strings on his belt he certainly looked a smith with his colossal muscled arms laced with fine black hair. Tywin would be surprised if he could even mount a horse nowadays, or find armour big enough to fit his muscled body. 'This garden knight insults you by demanding to go first.' he spoke as he strapped Tywin's legs into the armour on his saddle.

'Honour won't shield him from my lance.' he said softly as Alaina stepped beside him wearing a dress of rough brown fabric, her oak brown hair tied back into a long plat. 'Sister Dearest.' he smiled down at her. The years had been exceedingly kind to Alaina, she had barely changed. Still tall, still thin and elegant, hair still as dark as polished oak, eyes still bright as sapphires.

'Don't do anything stupid!' she warned with a stern expression.  

'When have I ever done something stupid?' he winked. The horn blew loudly as the squire of the green knight took to the centre of the arena.

'Your Grace, out future queen, esteemed lords, beautiful ladies and gathered smallfolk. It is my great pleasure to present to you, the first knight of the renowned Rose Warriors, heir to Flower Garden, Champion of the High Lady of the Garden Isle Lady Celia Turnbeck, commander...' bored of the squires dull ramblings Tywin kicked Nala into a trot and set off around the arena. Heading for one of the benched areas, but he went the long way. People cheered as he passed them, hands reaching over the railings to touch him, or his horse, or anything they could. One lady held out a small baby wrapped in furls of a deep red blanket, Tywin carefully rubbed a gauntleted hand down the side of the baby's face and its mother immediately began crying out "Phoenix blessed! Phoenix blessed!" Dozens of women groped out at him as he rode passed, crying out to him but they mingled in with the rest of the cheers becoming incomprehensible. As he passed the green knight he heard his armour clinking together as he shook with rage but Tywin paid him no attention. He wanted to go first.

As he finally reached the benches to the right of the royal box he removed his phoenix crested helm, a finely dressed maiden had been eyeing him all day, she was a buxom girl of about his age with a nice smile that created cute dimples in her cheeks every time she did. Her friends giggled as he bowed his head to her. 'Such a beauty has been a great inspiration to me this day my lady.'

'You greatly honour me Phoenix Knight.' she said breathless with excitement.

'May you grace my lance with a token my lady? So I can strike my opponent as greatly as your beauty struck me.' he said with his most courtly smile. With a soft grin she whipped a pure white handkerchief from her bosom, kissed it, and tied it tightly around the point of his lance. Smiling Tywin kicked Nala into a gallop and returned to his starting position. As he passed the royal box he bowed his head, as always the king just stared straight passed him, but Emelia smiled down at him bowing her head back in recognition. Poor woman...

'Looks like you'll be lancing something else today,' spoke Hodrik with a grin as he returned to them. Marrel laughed but Alaina rolled her eyes, lip curling up in disgust. This tourney's boring...let’s liven things up.

'Remove my armour,' he said casting his helm into the dust. 

'My lord?' Hodrik asked looking puzzled. 

'Remove my armour.' Tywin smiled passing Marrel his lance. 

'NO!' bellowed Alaina. 'Tywin that's insane if he hit you he'd kill you!' 

'He won't hit me,' Hodrik did as he was told reluctantly leaving Tywin wearing nothing but his light silk tunic. 

'Tywin don't do this!' she said grabbing his arm over the murmurs of the crowd. 'Tywin please!' The starting horn blew. Kicking Nala she galloped forward, snatching the lance from Marrel as he passed him the green knight with ivy covered armour set off from his end of the arena. His great black stallion kicking up huge plumes of dust. Nala screamed forwards. Come on! He said in his head. Come on hit me! He lowered his lance at the same time as the green knight, locking it under his shoulder. Gods be good hit me! He bellowed. The green knight's lance missed his left shoulder by a hairs breadth, Tywin thrust forward. In a shower of splinters and a huge grunt of pain the knight toppled backwards in his saddle, straps breaking, falling into the dust with cheers from the crowd and loud clinks as he rolled arse over eyeballs before eventually crashing into one of the posts holding up the jousting rail. Damn.    

The warm water of his bath soothed his aching muscles as much as the honeyed wine in his cup, pouring himself another he missed the cup spilling the golden yellow liquid onto the slate floors. 'Oops!' he said between great billowing laughs. With a loud crash the doors to the washroom flew open as Alaina strode in. Fists clenched, lips pressed tightly together.

'You bloody fool!' she spat staring down at him as he sat in his bath struggling to fill his cup.

'Sister! Come...sit...drink to me with my victory,' he laughed. 'Apologies...I meant drink with my victory.' slapping the golden goblet from his hand she stared at him furiously. 'Don't like honey wine?' 

'How many have you had?' he shrugged. 

'Tywin...' she said sounding sympathetic. 'I can't imagine what it must feel like, doing the things the kings make you do.' 

'Watch your tongue Alaina,' he said viciously. 'You don't know a thing. Remember that.' 

'Tywin I'm trying to help you...'

'Oh my kniiight!' said the seductive voice of the girl from the jousting arena. 'I have a present for you.' she appeared in the doorway, naked as a babe, curvaceous pale flesh turned golden yellow in the light from the setting sun. She screamed as she saw Alaina reaching for one of the towels warming on the dresser.

'Wait for me upstairs my lady, I'll be up soon.' without a second glance she ran from the doorway, feet pattering up the stairs.  Turning to look back at Alaina he found her stood clutching her dress so hard her knuckles were white. 'She's quite lovely,'

'What's her name?' whispered Alaina. When he didn't answer she sighed loudly, rubbing her temples with her fingers.

'Jealous Alaina? I may not be on top form currently but I'd try my best for you.' he grinned.

'My beds for men not boys.' she said through clenched teeth. Tywin sat back when a comment didn't come back to him. 'I may not know how you feel Tywin, but I'm still your sister, and I know your punishing yourself for what you've done.' he didn't answer, just drank straight from the huge wine vase. 'I hear you at night, screaming in your sleep.'

'Every soldier has nightmares.' he whispered.

'Only those who regret the things they've done. Let me help you Tywin...please I'm begging you. Jousting once without armour was stupid, twice was insane! Too many times I've seen you pull stunts like this! Stood on the balcony pissed out of your wits, drinking until you can't stand whoreing through your women like they are nothing. That's not you Tywin.' tears flew down her cheeks as she stared down at him. 'I don't want to see you hurt...and if you carry on like this...I...I'm scared I will wake up one day to find that boy I consider my brother dead on the floor of his bedchambers, or get yourself killed in one of these stupid stunts of yours. Please Tywin...let me help you.' tears flew down her cheeks as she stared down at him. 'I want my baby brother back.'

'I don't need your help.' he spat. 'Now go...leave me. Go. Go! GO!' he boomed. Throwing the wine vase across the room. As it hit the wall smashing into a million pieces Alaina's eyes filled with tears before she ran out of the washroom quickly. Leaving him alone in his bath.

The End

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