Screams. All around me. I hold no weapon in my hands, and yet most of the cries are directed at me. Down the stairs to my left kneels the once-powerful Eddard Stark, face beaten and bloody, some remnants of the food thrown from the crowd stuck in his tangled blonde hair. He is breathing heavily, sweating, his pale cheeks and trembling lips a giveaway of the fear he hoped would not be apparent. My mother’s hand curls tightly around my wrist. “This is madness!” She hisses, but I jerk myself from her grasp. “Daddy!” Someone cries, and I glance to my right to see Sansa, my beloved fiancé, in the hands of my guards. She’s struggling viciously, and I’m sure if she wasn’t always trying to act like such a lady, she’d have kicked both of the soldiers in the balls long ago. “No,” whispers her father, the acceptance of his defeat clear on his face. I take a step forward, my breath catching in my throat as the hooded executioner’s axe begins its descent. And then, suddenly, everything is quiet. The crowd is still in an uproar, but their cheers are lost to me. All I see his him. Lord Eddard Stark. His eyes flutter closed, then open. I scream an insult, but he does not answer, or even appear to hear. His face is suddenly tense, and he only glances up once, his gaze making contact with someone in the crowd, Then he lets his head drop, and he sighs, all of that pent-up worry gone in a single instant. He is calm now, truly calm. Sansa cries out one more time, her voice reaching my ears just as the axe hits her father’s neck. His head falls slowly from his shoulders, the swiftness of the executioner’s cut not at all lessening the amount of blood that’s suddenly flowing from the body of the dead man. Sansa moans, her mournful cry rising above the shouts of all the others. And then she drops, my beautiful, my sweet Sansa, her red hair trailing after her as she collapses in a faint. I do not belittle myself enough to kneel beside her, but rather I look to my mother, and at once I see how much this man’s death is going to cost us. The revenge I planned is now far from my mind, and all I can think of is how much I’m going to pay at the hands of this man’s sons before I’m finally allowed to slip into the painless state of death. But then I remind myself, ‘So is the life of a king.’ Tyrant, my heart whispers, but I push that thought aside. I don’t have time for this. And as if in a final decision, I swivel on my heels and move further away from the wailing of the women and, unknowingly, closer to my doom.
Forward. Back. ‘Balance, Ned,’ I tell myself. ‘Keep your balance.’ I am calm, if not a bit apprehensive, but that’s not how I appear. Pommel of the sword shifting easily in my hand, I dart towards my adversary, then, swiftly, back and away. Sweat layers my temple, my once golden curls plastered to my dark skin. I know I am weakening, as does my opponent, but our fight is hardly fair. He is young and powerful, a man - or a lord, rather - who is thought to be the greatest swordsman in all of Westeros. Kingslayer, we call him. A murderer, a cocky lad, one who delights in the killing of those who’ve done no wrong. He hisses now, swiveling his sword in his hand, the weapon perfectly balanced. He steps towards me threateningly, but before he can even raise the blade I’m screaming, dropping to my knees as a searing pain shoots through my thigh. My adversary snarls in anger as he strides towards me, sheathing his sword, the blade thickly coated in gore. He nudges my leg with his toes, and I nearly cry out. For protruding from my thigh is the sharp end of a spear, now drenched in my blood. The soldier who stabbed me releases his weapon, smiling as the Kingslayer approaches, expecting some sort of reward. But instead he suddenly finds himself reeling backwards, the harsh pommel of his lord’s sword nearly breaking his nose. The soldier gasps, and he opens his mouth to say something, but immediately thinks better of it and keeps his mouth shut. The Kingslayer looks down at me, glaring, teeth clenched. His eyes flash, and for I moment I can see nothing, pain deadening my senses. Then I feel his hand on my shoulder, pushing me to the ground. I groan in pain, and he says something callous, but I am no longer able to hear his voice. My vision begins to blur, and I roar in frustration, thrashing blindly at him as he moves further away, his lips curled into a sneer, and what appears to be a laugh retreating from his mouth. And for the first time in my life, as I lie there in agony, I realize what it is like to be alone.
My hands are raw, bleeding against the rock. It hurts me, but I move even faster, venturing further towards the voices and the gasps of pain. Suddenly my foot slips, I nearly cry out. Fingers tightening around the ledge, I grapple blindly for a foothold, the distance between me and the ground an all-too-lethal threat. Then I feel the cold rock skimming my bare toes, and I breath out in relief. Farther along and the voices grow in volume, but the shrieks seem now more of excitement than of fear. The corner nears me, and I poke my head around the side. My throat constricts, mouth dry as I gasp, shocked. It is the queen, nearly bare, her legs curled around the waist of a man whose back is to me. Her eyes are tightly closed, moans of pleasure just barely passing through her lips as she runs her hands over his smooth chest. The man shifts his stance, his face no longer concealed. The blonde locks that grace his thin face curl perfectly around his ears and down his neck. His tongue runs over his lips, blue eyes flaring as another wave of ecstasy hits him. ‘Jaime Lannister,’ I breathe. Not the king. Not even a relation of the king. But rather the queen’s own brother, a cocky lord of the Westeros. Suddenly the woman screams, one of her long fingers gesturing furiously in my direction. I move back behind the wall, but her brother her too quick. I feel fingers curling around my collar, and I screech in fear. But it’s no use. I am dragged back to the window, my fingers bleeding beneath the nails as I try to keep my balance. Jaime looks at me curiously, ignoring the queen’s incessant cries of “He saw us! He saw us!” My chest tightens; I can barely breathe. Power emanates from the man’s mere presence and, though I am shameful to admit it, I greatly fear him. Jaime grasps my shirt collar tightly and pulls me towards him, and for a moment my hope returns. He sighs, looking at me sadly. Turning to the queen, he smiles. “Ah, the things I do for love.” Then a force catches me against the chest, and suddenly I’m screaming, falling. The air whips past me and I grapple for something, anything to hold on to, but it’s no use. I’m too late. I hear the queen’s voice above me, shouting furiously at her brother, but her words are lost in the wind that beats viciously against my skin. I glance down, and that’s when I hit, a scream of agony caught in my throat. My vision suddenly explodes, no less than a dozen colors invading my eyes and then everything is black. Darkness pushes down on my skull, drowning everything out until it all disappears. I am alone. And then there is nothing.