Damsel Not Distressed
After eating and taking the Maesters concoction, Gerbold tried to sleep again, but his thoughts and his ribs would have none of it. Finally, he gave up completely. Dressing, he exited the tent into the night.
Gerbold began to walk, not knowing or caring where his feet took him, lost in old memories. The weather matched his mood. The sky was black and starless; the rain falling in a fitful drizzle. By the time he was pulled from his thoughts, he was not entirely sure where he was. The cause of his anchoring back to reality was one of the few things that could. In the distance, he heard the familiar sounds of men fighting.
He began to run toward the sound, his ribs strenuously protesting the exertion. He closed the distance to the sounds quickly and drew his sword as he rounded the corner to the alley. He took two steps into the covered passage, stopped and sheathed his weapon. He was half a minute too late to make any difference; nor would he have wanted to make any difference.
Four men lay on the ground either unconscious or writhing in pain. Standing in the middle of them was a woman he recognized: Lady Kataerina Lannister. She stood amongst the wreckage of her attackers with mild amusement; then glanced up at Gerbold to assess the new threat only to smile brightly with genuine surprise and pleasure.
“Gerbold Veldstag! Have you come to rescue me?” Lifting up the skirts of her gown, she stepped over one of her attackers as she walked to meet him, offering her hand.
“I think not, my Lady.” glancing about the alley. He took her proffered hand and kissed it lightly, noticing the spots of blood on her gloves.
She noticed as well. “Oh dear, how could that have happened?” giving Gerbold a smirk.
Lord Gareth’s sister could never be accused of being beautiful. Her lean frame had more muscle than would normally be considered feminine, she had the Pierce eyes that seemed a common family trait in everyone except Aaron, and her features were sharper than most men might prefer in a woman.
She was, however, striking to those whose taste did not run to classical beauty. Elegantly dressed, she was tall, almost as tall as Gerbold. Her hair was immaculately piled under her feathered hat and cascaded down one side to accentuate a long and graceful neck. Her dress was exquisitely tailored, although slightly damaged from the attack. A tear in the fabric revealed the steel boning and plates of her corset underneath.
“Oh look. The city watch has arrived.” she observed with mild distaste. “An hour late and a copper short as usual.”
As men poured into the alley to take custody of the men, a young man approached the pair, obviously intimidated by a Knight who placed in the tourney finals and a Lady wearing Lannister colors. “Are you injured milady?”
“No young man. Thankfully Ser Gerbold came to my rescue. I shudder to think what would have happened if he’d not arrived. It could have become very nasty indeed.”
Of that, Gerbold had no doubt.
“Still,” she continued, “I suppose it’s my own fault for wandering the streets of King’s Landing in the dead of night.”
“What did you wish done with these men.” asked the young officer of Gerbold, assuming he had been the one to defeat them.
“They attacked the Lady.” he replied. “Let her decide.”
The captain was surprised but nodded his ascent. The Lady turned and looked at the four men critically. “Send that one and that one to the Wall.” indicating two of the men. “They could use a couple hot blooded men to warm up the cold.”
Moving on, she examined the oldest attacker. His hatred of her was evident. “Execute this one. I doubt King’s Landing will miss his like and he will be more trouble than his worth to the Watch.” The man spit epitaphs at her as he was dragged way.
Finally she examined the youngest one, obviously terrified. “This one I recognize. Does your Father know what you’re doing in the middle of the night?”
The boy shook his head. “Milady, I never wanted-"
“We often get what we never want, young man.” interrupting the boy’s protests. “Take him to my compound. The money his Father will have to pay to get him back will be far more punishment on him than anything I could ever do.”
As the men were dragged away and the young captain took his leave, Kataerina lightly grasped Gerbold’s arm. “Will you escort me back to my compound, Ser? The night is dark and full of terrors.”
Gerbold nodded and they began to slowly walk. The rain had petered off and young boys could be seen scrabbling about the streets trying to get torches lit they’d largely failed to do earlier. “Have you been here long?”
“No. We just arrived the day before yesterday. My Lord never misses a Grande Tourney, but he is getting very far along in years and the journey took much longer than expected. I was not pleased we had missed Aaron’s win in the archery. We did arrive in time to see the melee and the final jousts, yours included. You had me quite nervous for a little while there. I had wagered a small fortune on Ser Jaime.”
“Smart money, my Lady.”
“Perhaps.” she smiled. “But you have certainly garnered the respect of many, even Ser Jaime, if I know the man at all. I doubt he has ever had to make that many passes against an opponent in his life.”
“Are the stories about him true?”
“Oh yes. He stabbed Aerys in the back. Probably to shut him up. I understand the King had been laughing maniacally for hours. It was a terrible mistake.”
“You think he shouldn’t have done it?”
“I think he should have done it much sooner. Would have saved all of us a lot of trouble.” she smirked at Gerbold. “Speaking of trouble, it would seem that the trouble with House Lugas continues. I’ll admit to a great deal of satisfaction seeing Aaron take Orten’s head.”
“The boy did well.”
“He may not be a boy for much longer, Gerbold.” They walked in silence for a long moment. “Did you know Konrad Lugas killed my older brother? It was in the rebellion, must be sixteen years now. The whole family is a blight. If they aren’t killing other people they are killing each other. They can’t kill each other fast enough if you ask me. How is Aaron doing?”
“He is… strained.”
“I expect he will be fine. Your first kill is always the hardest. “My first kill was Ser Wendal Esterhouse. Boorish man, reminds me of Robert. He had a particular fascination with virgins, the more unwilling the better. Then, one morning, he mysteriously woke up in the bed of Lord Banston’s daughter. His lordship chopped off the Knight’s head, of course. Poor Ser Wendal, killed for being found in the bed of a girl neither unwilling nor virgin.”
They had arrived at Lady Kataerina’s compound, and Gerbold kissed her extended hand in goodbye. “Always so dour, Ser Gerbold. You should marry again. I can arrange it if you like? It’s a hobby of mine and I’m really quite good at it.”
“I will keep that in mind, my Lady.”
“As you wish.” she smiled. “Tell that scheming younger brother of mine to see me when he gets here. Imagine sending you all here with no guards. I want to know what he was thinking, and he better have some clever answers.”
“Lord Pierce usually has clever answers, my Lady.”
“Yes. Doesn’t he.” she replied dryly.