6 Chapter 6: Jousts - 104 AC

"May the light of the seven shine upon all combatants!"

The newly crowned king, King Viserys I, was the center of attention as he opened the tournament in celebration of his coronation in Maidenpool. The spectators were sitting on raised platforms erected solely for the jousts. Banners of different houses fluttered wildly in the wind on the edges of these platforms, creating a colorful sight. Surrounding the king were his family and courtiers, along with their families. Many notable houses such as the Velaryons, Princess Rhaenys Targaryen, the Hightowers, and the Hand of the King, Otto Hightower, were present. The town was in a festive mood, with cheers and applause emanating from the tourney fields.

Lord Bartimos, on the other hand, was seething with anger in his seat, accompanied by his brother. They had traveled a great distance from Claw Isle to this town by ship, bringing with them many gifts for the king to enjoy. Bartimos had instinctively warned his son and heir, Clement, not to do anything foolish. Yet, amidst the celebrations, the young man had disappeared without a trace.

"Where in the seven hells is he?" Bartimos grumbled, tapping his fingers nervously on his seat, amidst the cheers.

"Leave him be, brother. He's already four and ten, he can fend for himself," Gromond replied casually, raising Bartimos's suspicions.

"The whole point of bringing him here was to find him a match," Bartimos said, exasperated. "Not to let him roam around a foreign town carelessly. Where's Ser Phineas now?"

"I'm sure he's somewhere around here with him," Gromond replied confidently.

"If I find him in a brothel somewhere in town, I swear by the gods—" Bartimos muttered.

Suddenly, the sound of drums echoed throughout the grounds as Bartimos saw knights entering the jousting field. A man emerged, wearing the armor that Clement had ordered a year ago. The armor was now embellished with ribbons and a red cloak to match the set. The armor fit him perfectly, and he was quite thin, indicating his true age. Alas, his insignia was ultimately covered up by a plain tabard, and the man joined the tourney as a mystery knight.

Bartimos's eyes widened as he turned to his brother. "You knew about this, didn't you?"

"I have no idea what you're talking about, brother," Gromond replied with a shrug. "This… 'Crab Knight' has no connection with me."

"He's not a knight, brother," Bartimos pointed out. "Do you expect him to compete with seasoned knights from all over the seven kingdoms? He'll lose his head!"

"He's not a knight yet," Gromond corrected him. "Calm yourself, brother. Your son is skilled enough to participate in a tourney. He'll gain experience, and you just have to see the results of his training."

"So you did help him enter the tourney," Bartimos grumbled. "Fine, but mark my words. If he's maimed or killed during this event, I'll feed you to the crabs."

Gromond chuckled. "I'll take that chance."


Clement approached the tourney grounds with a sense of solemnity, his horse's armor clanking as it hit the individual pieces. He was dressed in newly constructed armor with a shield bearing a single black crab as its banner fastened to his left arm and a lance grasped tightly in his right. Seated firmly atop his steed, Clement gazed confidently at his first adversary, who bore a shield bearing a yellow swan on a banner of red and black.

The sound of the trumpet signaled the start of the duel as the two knights raced toward each other with their lances pointed. The horses thundered across the field, and the clash of steel rang out as the armor pieces of the horse collided upon each other. Clement's armor was adorned with beautiful ribbons that fluttered elegantly in the wind, trailing behind him like a line of crimson.

The tension was palpable as the two knights drew closer and closer. The cheers of the crowd grew hushed in anticipation, and the combatants' servants prepared to provide them with new weapons. At the center of the field, the two knights collided, and the lances splintered into pieces. The sound of the spectators' cheers echoed throughout the tourney grounds as the knights' horses continued to race across the field. Only one of the competitors had been unhorsed, and it was Clement's opponent.

"Ser Arryk Cargyll wishes to continue in a contest of arms!" boomed the announcer, his voice echoing throughout the grounds. The crowd's excitement grew to a fever pitch as they shouted and made their bets.

The knight retrieved a steel sword from his helper on the field, while Clement dismounted his horse and headed toward his own assistant. The helper handed him a long axe, the Pincer, which Clement caught with ease. He tightened his shield against his arm, raised his weapon, and advanced toward his opponent.

The axe was long, almost touching the ground, but Clement could wield it with a single hand. It was a testament to the quality of the metal or the strength of the young knight himself. He glared fiercely at his opponent, preparing to face him.

With measured steps, both of the warriors closed the gap between them, now only a mere seven feet apart. Without hesitation, Ser Arryk seized the initiative and delivered the first strike. With a fluid motion, he lifted his blade high into the air and brought it crashing down towards Clement in a horizontal arc. But the young man, with his lithe and slender frame, effortlessly sidestepped the blow. As he did, he swiftly dropped his axe to the ground and hooked one of Ser Arryk's feet with it, yanking it to the side with all his might. The knight, caught off balance, stumbled and tumbled to the ground with a loud clatter of his armor.

With the tip of his axe now poised menacingly at Ser Arryk's throat, Clement issued his command in a firm and authoritative voice. "Yield," he declared, his eyes never leaving.

Ser Arryk, his helmet dislodged by the fall, let out a resigned sigh and relinquished his sword, dropping it to the ground with a metallic clang. "I did not expect to be bested so easily," he murmured, his voice tinged with a hint of bitterness. "I yield."

With a triumphant grin, Clement slammed his trusty axe into the unforgiving earth, where it lodged with a satisfying thud. He extended his steel-clad hand to the weary knight, Ser Arryk, who grasped it and hoisted himself up to his feet.

"A true battle that was, ser," remarked Clement. "It was an honor to face you."

"Nay, the honor was all mine," replied Ser Arryk with a genuine smile, his hand patting Clement's shoulder. "Mayhaps our paths will cross once more in the days to come."

Clement nodded in deep appreciation, his grip firming around the handle of his axe as he retrieved it from the ground and strode confidently towards the grandiose platform upon which the king and queen sat in all their regal glory. With a graceful bow, he demonstrated his deference to the newly crowned monarchs.

At last, the exultant crowd burst forth in thunderous applause, their voices ringing out with fervor and enthusiasm as the herald proudly proclaimed "The Crab Knight" as the winner of the tilt.


With a regal nod, King Viserys watched as the young man who had just bowed to him sauntered away from the verdant fields and towards his tent. The skill and finesse that he had exhibited on the field were indeed remarkable, especially for one who had managed to unseat a knight of the tournament's favorites.

"Is that not Bartimos's son?" Viserys inquired, heaving a sigh of exasperation. "Why would he masquerade as a mystery knight when he wields his house's Valyrian Steel axe during the melee?"

"It's a known loophole, your grace." Otto answered. "He's not yet a knight, so he's barred from entering the tourney even using his house's name. But if he comes as a mystery knight, we can do nothing about it. Even the princess could join as a mystery knight if she so wishes. He might be a mystery knight, but practically everyone here knows that he's of House Celtigar."

"Is there anything we would do about it, lord hand?" the queen, who's sitting besides Viserys, spoke. "We must not allow young boys to be caught up in the chaos of future tournaments."

"Your grace, if that were the case, we would need to ascertain the true identity of the mystery knight in question," Otto replied. "But what would be the point of a Mystery Knight then?"

"That is true…" Viserys murmured. "But I doubt a boy of ten could actually enter as a mystery knight, given their stature and size. The boy is approaching adulthood from the looks of it, and If the lad is confident in joining, then let him be. How old is he, Otto?"

"He's approaching five and ten, your grace." Otto answered. "Rumors said he's the one partly responsible for the rise of his house in these couple of years."

"A clever mind and a skilled warrior," Viserys mused, his fingers stroking his chin. "What more could Bartimos ask for in an heir? However, the last I heard, he was a frail child, barely able to leave his chambers. How did he manage to stand on the tournament grounds now?"

"Mayhaps the gods have favored House Celtigar," Otto proposed. "Regardless, the boy is now in good health and reaching a suitable age for marriage..."

"Indeed," the queen interjected. "It could be that he's using this opportunity to showcase himself and find a potential match."

"Or, it could be the sudden bravery of a boy seeking glory and honor through violence," Viserys remarked nonchalantly. "I doubt Bartimos agreed to this. Nonetheless, it will be an interesting spectacle."

As Viserys observed the joust, he saw a knight with an orange seal depicting coal markings unseat the other Cargyll twin, Erryk, with a swift blow, earning the approval of the crowd. With a final bow towards the king, the knight departed the tourney grounds.

"What say you of that, Otto?" Viserys queried, his attention still fixed on the knight.

"Ser Criston Cole, your grace," Otto replied. "A son of a steward, but a skilled and favored contender. He bested your brother in the melee yesterday."

"Ah, yes," Viserys nodded, a hint of a smile on his lips. "Daemon dislikes losing, and I am sure he will seek to avenge himself in the joust."


As the cold metal tip of the lance collided with Clement's sturdy armor, his body was jolted from his trusted steed, causing him to tumble and roll upon the autumn leaves. Although a piercing pain coursed through his abdomen and back, he did not falter. He rapidly rose to his feet, his helmet still intact, to find the herald staring at him expectantly.

"Axe!" Clement bellowed, hastening towards his squire to retrieve his weapon. After securing his shield to his arm, he held his axe with both hands in preparation for the battle ahead.

"The Crab Knight desires to proceed with the contest!" declared the herald, resulting in another outburst of cheers from the onlookers, eager for the impending skirmish.

With a swift movement, Lord Lymond Mallister of Seagard, Clement's adversary, unsheathed his glittering sword, catching the sunlight and reflecting a majestic glow. The lord donned a winged helmet and wore a blue and white tabard adorned with his house's emblem.

"I commend your valiance, boy, for daring to compete against seasoned contenders and advancing this far," Lord Mallister praised. "But your journey ends here."

"Thank you for your kind words, Lord Lymond, but I have no intention of surrendering," replied Clement, resolute in his stance.

The two opponents circled each other slowly, their weapons poised for all to see, each awaiting the other's move. "What motivates you to participate in this tournament? Is it for honor? For glory? Or to pursue the affections of one of these noble lords' daughters?" inquired Lord Mallister.

"May I answer 'all of the above'?" Clement retorted with a hint of a smirk, confident in his abilities. "Say, do you have a daughter, Lord Lymond?"

As he faced his opponent, Clement could sense the tension emanating from behind the thick steel helmet. The lord's scowl was almost palpable as he lunged forward with his sword, trying to penetrate Clement's armor.

With practiced ease, the young man dodged and countered with his shield, attempting to knock the sword from Lord Lymond's grasp. But the seasoned fighter was quick to recover, his blade flashing through the air in a vicious vertical slash aimed at Clement's unprotected flesh.

Again, Clement relied on his trusty shield to block the attack. The force of the blow reverberated through the shield, causing Lord Lymond's sword to shake in his hand. Taking advantage of this opening, Clement deftly twisted his axe and swung it at his opponent's thigh with the spike end leading the charge.

The spike punched through the lord's armor and sunk deep into his flesh, causing a blood curdling scream to escape from his lips. The force of the blow sent Lord Lymond's shield clattering to the ground. Without hesitation, Clement yanked the spike out of the wound and delivered a swift kick to the lord's chest, sending him sprawling to the ground.

Lord Lymond lay on the ground, his thigh bleeding profusely. "Yield, Lord Lymond," Clement demanded, his voice steady and commanding.

"I-I yield," the old lord grumbled, his pride wounded but his spirit unbroken. "Y-You're good, boy."

Clement merely shrugged in response, taking no satisfaction in his victory. Servants swarmed around the injured lord, quickly attending to his wounds and carrying him off the field.

As Clement made his way back to the king's platform, he bowed politely before walking away.


In contrast to the throngs of people around him who were enchanted by the jousting tournament, Lord Corlys Valeryon sat calmly with his beloved wife, Princess Rhaenys Targaryen, and found the whole affair dreadfully tedious. Corlys was a man of adventure, having sailed through uncharted seas and explored mysterious lands beyond the horizon, and as such, he found the trivialities of the tournament to be lacking in excitement.

However, there was one thing that piqued his interest: the "Mystery" knight who had entered the competition. Although everyone pretended not to know, it was clear to Corlys that this knight was none other than Lord Bartimos's son. Being from Claw Isle, which was only a few hours' sail from Driftmark, Corlys was privy to the rumors circulating around the tournament.

"While we suffer under the tyranny of the Crabfeeder in the Stepstones, House Celtigar seems to prosper," Corlys commented to his wife, gesturing towards the departing young man. "They benefit from renting out storage space for goods. Since sea trade is blocked in the south, goods that need to be transported from that route need to be stored elsewhere until the storm subsides."

"It is a common occurrence, my dear husband," Rhaenys replied, taking a leisurely sip of her wine. "Misfortune for some is often good fortune for others. House Celtigar is not to blame for the Stepstones' occupation, and your bitterness towards them is unwarranted."

Corlys sighed and rubbed his temples to relieve some of the tension. "You're right. I cannot let my anger cloud my judgment. I need a drink."

As Prince Daemon Targaryen entered the jousting arena, proudly displaying the Targaryen sigil on his chest, the Seasnake quickly drained his wine.

"Have you spoken to the king about the Stepstones?" Rhaenys inquired calmly.

"I have, many times," Corlys responded wearily. "At this point, we must wait or risk sending our own ships without the support of the crown."

"My cousin is a man who abhors conflict, my love," Rhaenys reminded him. "You may be waiting a long time. Perhaps it would be wise to gather allies, starting with our nearest neighbors?"

"We could do that, but ultimately, we need the support of the crown," Corlys replied. "Another dragon would certainly help our cause."

"Laenor has one," Rhaenys pointed out.

"True, but Seasmoke is not yet ready for war," Corlys said. "It may take a few more years. Do not worry, my love. We will not engage in open warfare with the Triarchy just yet. Laenor will not take to the battlefield until he is prepared."

As the joust commenced, Prince Daemon Targaryen found himself pitted against the formidable Ser Criston Cole. The air was charged with anticipation as the two knights thundered towards each other, their lances poised for the strike. Suddenly, Prince Daemon was unseated from his horse, but he was not deterred. The contest of arms had only just begun.

Rising to his feet, Prince Daemon unsheathed Dark Sister, his trusted sword, and faced off against Ser Criston Cole and his morningstar. The clang of metal against metal echoed across the grounds as the two combatants fought with all their might, neither giving an inch. Despite Prince Daemon's valiant effort, Ser Criston Cole proved too much for him once again, dealing the final blow and emerging victorious.

The young knight's triumph over the prince was an obvious source of embarrassment for the rogue prince, who had now been defeated twice by the skilled warrior. With a short breath and a graceful bow to the king, Ser Criston Cole made his exit from the jousting grounds. The assembled lords, including Lord Corlys, erupted into a thunderous applause, their admiration for the victorious knight resounding throughout the arena.

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