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Those Deemed Worthy

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This was no life, but it was the one they shared.

Jaime sipped his wine; it was old and sour. He hoped for more work, if only to acquire a better vintage.  He scowled and set the glass down, his eyes drifting over to Brienne who was sitting by the only window. She sat solemn and silent, sharpening her blade with a whetstone.  Beams of afternoon sun came streaming through the shutters, illuminating her fierce and scarred face, the light made the red veins of dark Valyrian steel glow brilliantly. Where Brienne of Tarth lacked outward beauty, her blade more than made up for it. The sword needed no refining; it was sharp enough to split a hair twice over. He thought of telling her so, but there was something strangely enticing in watching her large hands work the stone over the blade.

A knock came at the door. Brienne was the first to move. She sheathed Oathkeeper, setting it down on the table and opened the door slightly. “Yes?”

“A visitor.” The innkeeper’s wife was a weathered surly looking woman who never smiled. She seemed to care little for himself or Brienne, but they paid on time, and she had become accustomed to the occasional stranger requesting their audience. Knowing whatever services it was they provided kept their room paid for, she brought their visitors to their door.

If Brienne had it her way she would patrol the streets like a common city guardsmen, righting every wrong she came across.  She would collapse in the streets of noble starvation if he let her. It was better to wait for the jobs to come to them even if it meant stagnating in this cramped room in the inn.

A slight matronly woman was permitted entry; Brienne invited her to sit at the table and poured her a glass of water.  Jaime stayed where he was seated.  The woman’s eyes shifted nervously towards him and then back to Brienne. Her wrists jangled with golden bracelets, and she hid her expensive silks beneath a simple plain shawl.  Jaime’s hopes of a paying client rose.

“I need your help.  I was told to find you here, that you would help if you deemed it worthy.  Please.”

Ask for the coin Brienne… Jaime thought as he watched the scene play out before him. It had become their routine for her to hear the requests as they came, especially if it was a woman who came knocking on their door.  It was surprising the number of women who called upon their services. Unless the client was a pigheaded male who refused to deal with ‘the woman’, Jaime much preferred to sit back and let Brienne determine the worth of the deed being requested. He held much more regard for her honour over his own, she could do the deciding.

“We will try our best. Please tell me what you need from us.” Brienne spoke clearly. She directed her blue eyes at the woman. On her own face, Brienne wore an expression of concern.

“It is a business partner of my husband’s. I believe he wishes to harm my husband on their next voyage east.  I do not trust him, but my husband will not heed me.”

The coin.  Jaime thought again.

“What makes you so certain your husband is in danger?” Brienne asked.

“I overheard his partner speaking with someone else. It was in the alley behind our apartments’; I was on the balcony and I heard my husband’s partner say, ‘with him gone, we will split the profits two ways instead of three’.

Brienne asked, “Why didn’t you tell your husband this?”

Jaime interrupted whatever response was about to escape the woman’s lips, and he made his way to the table. He leaned forward and asked, “Do you have coin to pay us?”

The woman nodded her head and removed a small leather purse from her hip.  She handed it to Jaime.  

Jaime dumped the contents onto the table. Several gold coins and many more silver ones chimed as they fell against each spilling out over the wooden table. “This will do. “ He said as he dragged the coins back to their side of the table with his left hand. The stump of his right hung uselessly at his side. They’d sold the golden hand long ago.

Brienne guided the coins back into their purse. Jaime smiled at her appreciatively.  Holding the full bag in his teeth, he pulled the strings of the purse closed with his the fingers of his left hand. Once it was shut tight, he let the bag drop into his hand and said, “As you were saying?, Sorry to interrupt.” Jaime returned to his seat and set the purse down on the table beside him. He refilled his cup with the swill he had been drinking.

“Your husband?  Why do you not simply tell him of what you heard?” Brienne asked again.

“Because my husband would kill his partner first, and then he would be put to death. I do not wish to see my husband hanged over this wretch. His partner’s brother has powerful friends. It would be his death.  I know it.” The woman’s voice broke with gasps of emotion.

“Tell us where we can find this man,” Brienne replied.

 

Myr was thriving since the wars had ended. It was a bustling hive of commerce, with  the advantageous position of being centrally located to trade routes from the east and west. But where there was young wealth, there was also an abundance of crime. Jaime followed Brienne down the cramped alley ways, keeping his gaze watchful for any potential threats. It was a routine he had fallen into easily. He recognized this alley they were moving through. This was where they had first made coin from a kill.  Brienne had protested against taking the reward from the grateful man they had saved. Jaime did not protest, and took the offered reward. It was with that coin they purchased and ate their first hot meal in days, they also rented the room at the inn.  Brienne took the bed, as he laid out his bed roll upon the floor. They had been in many cramped spaces during their travel east, and grown accustomed to sleeping near each other. Even if they could have afforded a second room, he wondered if she would have wanted it. As he lay on the floor staring up at the ceiling the idea came to him that it might be viable to ‘help’ others in need. They were excellent killers, it was a skill they could offer.  It had taken some convincing, but in time Brienne agreed, setting the condition that it would be to the weak, innocent, and worthy of their blades.

They had been in Myr for a few scant months; he was escaping from the misery of King’s Landing, having refused to watch his sister be married off to some pretender dragon lord.

 

 


 

 

 He had gone to her rooms the night before the wedding.  He stood and watched her as she readied herself for bed.  Her golden waves of hair cascaded down her back, loose and free, like when she was a young maid. What a fool he had been, thinking that he could plead with her one last time to come away with him; to convince her with tender kisses and promises of happiness and devotion, that if they were together, they would  never want for love again.  He promised Cersei he would do all he could to make her happy, to fulfill her wants and desires. He would have killed anyone she asked, if only she would agree to be his again, to come away with him.  But when he looked upon her face he could see the truth, for the first time he could see it.  Cersei didn’t want saving; she wasn’t unhappy. She was content to marry this king, she wanted to be his queen.  Jaime had managed to endure her marriage to Robert Baratheon; it was difficult at times, but he knew she was disgusted by Robert, and she had despised the man on several fronts.  Jaime had lived through the torment of that marriage, knowing her affections for the man were fabrications, a necessary ploy to please their father.  She had always been his where it had mattered, but now, now she was getting her dragon prince like she had always wanted. And yet he went to her, like he had always done.  It began with a soft pleading hand upon her bare shoulder, “Cersei, don’t turn me away.”

“Jaime, I’ve told you, you must leave,” she hissed in annoyance.

He pulled at her, wrapping his right arm around the small of her back, pressing the gold appendage against her, as he brushed gently against the tendrils of hair at the side of her temple with the fingers of his left hand. “You don’t mean it.  I know you don’t.” His green eyes searched hers for the weight of the truth he knew was there, begging her to deny what she was saying.

Pulling herself free of his grasp she steeled her voice. It was cold and curt as she said, “Leave here now. I never want to see you again.”

She had said those words before usually in a flurry of anger, but he had never seen it in her eyes before. She was casting him out. He had lost her.  The pain of the rejection left him reeling. “Very well,” were his last words to Cersei.

Brienne had been the one to find him. He was sitting on a high balcony, his legs dangling our over the edge. “What are you doing?”She asked quietly as she approached him.

He had been drinking a lot. A wineskin was draped about his neck. It was nearly empty. He finished the flask and threw it over the edge, where it crashed soundlessly into the rocks and waters far below. Grabbing another skin beside him, he threw his head back and let the wine flow down his throat.  His head felt dizzy and his vision blurred. He could no longer feel the winds whipping at the numb flesh of his face.  He couldn’t remember the last time he had allowed himself to get so drunk.

“Jaime what are you doing?”She asked again.

“Go away, wench. Leave me be. Don’t you have small children to scare somewhere with that face?” Even in his drunken state he knew the words were cruel; he pushed the waves of guilt he was feeling aside and took another drink.

“Jaime, please come away from there.  You’ll fall.”

“Don’t be ridiculous, I would never fall, I plan to jump.”  Jaime laughed as he drank more.

“Stop it,” she hissed.

“You’ll catch me, won’t you? You always do.” What possessed him to say those words he couldn't fathom.

Her face softened, and she moved towards him, ever so gently she grabbed him by the shoulders and pulled him from the edge.

He wrapped his arm around her thick neck, accidently smacking her with the flask he still gripped. Supporting his weight she helped him down the dark corridors.

“You’re going the wrong way,” he mumbled. “The White Sword tower is that way,” he pointed with the flask.

“You are no longer a member of the Kingsguard,” she reminded him.

“Oh, yes, I quite forgot.” He could feel himself passing out.

“Jaime, wake up!” Brienne prodded him from his drunken slumber.

“Let’s just go to your room, Brienne.”

“Don’t be an idiot,” was the last thing he remembered her saying.

When he awoke he was still clothed, but he wasn’t wearing his boots and his privy pot sat beside him full of stagnant purple vomit.  Only fragments of the previous night flittered back, and then like a horriblecrashing wave he remembered the pain in knowing today was his sister’s wedding day.

Jaime retched. The vomit spilled out and splashed over the floor missing the privy pot completely just as a maid came in to deliver his clothes for the day. As well trained as the servants employed by the Lannisters were, even she could not hide the disgust on her face as the rancid smell of the room reached her nostrils.

The woman had the good sense to only part the drapes slightly, thus allowing the faintest sliver of blinding daylight to enter, but even that small amount caused his head to splinter with pain and forced his eyes shut.

The servant brought him a glass of water, which he took gratefully. Drinking it down, he shoved the cup back at her and gruffly demanded, “another”.

She poured a second glass and handed it over to him.

“What time is it?” The sound of the bells outside gave him his answer. Each clash and clang felt like thunder in his head, and a stab to his heart. It was done; his sister was the queen again. Happily wed. A feeling that he might be sick threatened to boil up into his mouth again. Jaime steadied himself as he leaned over his knees at the edge of his bed.

“Where is Lady Brienne?” he asked as he spied his boots sitting neatly on the floor under a chair.  She must have brought him here. She had pulled him away from the balcony, laid him in his bed, and he supposed, taken off his boots.

“The Lady Brienne has left for Tarth this morning, my lord.

“What?” Jaime reeled, as he spun to face the servant, the quick motion making his head spin.

“She left for the docks after breakfast.”

Jaime jumped from his bed and as quickly as his hangover would allow, dropped his breeches. The servant woman gasped as she whirled around in her haste to leave the room.

Brienne would leave without a word to me? Jaime asked himself as he threw his soiled tunic to the floor.  He threw water from the basin over his torso and wiped the mess he had made, He fastened his golden hand, and pulled a fresh tunic over his half-drenched form, he ran from the room.

 

The docks were bustling with activity people from all over the realm had come to celebrate the royal wedding.  With its promises of grand celebrations, feasting and drink, everyone hoped to make a bit of coin amidst the frivolity of the city.  Their stupid smiling faces soured his mood further.

In a panic he saw the line of boats bobbing at the docks. There are so many, how am I to find her? Then he spied her. One flaxen head towered over them all. The sun illuminated her in such a way that she glowed. She moved, and Jaime followed, pushing through the crowds, knocking into men and women.  

All around him people were shouting out advertising the various goods they carried and the bargains they were granting in honour of the royal wedding.  

I will not call out for her, like some common merchant, he thought, but when he saw her stepping up onto one of the planks leading to a ship he forgot his promises and yelled out, “Brienne!”

She did not turn.

He pushed through further, accidently knocking into a man carrying a basket of oranges. The man tumbled down with his goods; the fall sending the fruit rolling.  

“Brienne!” Jaime shouted again, ignoring the cussing from the fruit merchant.

Still she did not hear him.

“Wench!” he screamed. He grinned as her head turned to find him.

“Jaime.  What are you doing?” From the expression in her eyes, she was confused by his presence.

Jaime climbed aboard the ship. The crew cursed him and demanded he leave. He had not paid for passage and he was shoved rudely, but he refused to budge.  

“Jaime, get off the ship!” Brienne hissed.

When one of the crew members pulled a dagger, Brienne stepped in front of him, and grabbed Jaime by the arm and dragged him off the boat herself.  “What are you doing here?” She looked angry, but she delivered her words in a hushed whisper.

Jaime stared back into her questioning blue eyes, unsure with what he had just done.  Stupidly he uttered, “You can’t go back to Tarth.”

“We’re leaving.” A crew member yelled down to where they stood on the docks.“Now.”

“I’m coming!” Brienne moved towards the ship.

“What are you going to do back at Tarth?” Jaime spit out, “you’ll stagnate there, letting your skills go to rot.”

She didn’t pause and continued to board the ship.

He shouted out, “Don’t expect suitors to come to you; your reputation is sullied, Brienne!” He knew he was being an ass, but found he couldn’t stop the venomous words spilling from his mouth.  How dare she make me look such a fool? She won’t even look at me.  Finally feeling desperate, he yelled, “Come with me!”

Her head turned slightly, he had her ear.

“We’ll go wherever that boat is going,” Jaime said pointing to the ship behind hers.

She turned to him, her blue eyes shining.  Jaime held his breath she opened her mouth to reply, “Good-bye, Ser Jaime.” She spun abruptly and finished her climb up the plank.

Jaime felt weak and sick as he watched her tall form disappear beyond the railing of the bow. 

The plank was pulled away, and shouts from the boat could be heard calling for the anchors to be pulled.

Defeated he turned back and began a lost and bewildered retreat back to his quarters.  He was damned if he was going to watch her ship sail away. He felt as though he was swimming under a pool of deep water as he moved through the thick crowd of people packed on to the docks.  His head felt numb and his legs thick and heavy as he pushed onward.

Then like a clear ringing bell above the noise of a packed dining hall he heard her voice, “That ship is about to leave.”

Jaime spun, dropping his mouth open in disbelief.  She came back.