Jaime Lannister, eldest son of Tywin, stood calmly over the dead body of the Mad King, Aerys II. The man who had just ordered his pyromancer to burn an entire city, to destroy King's Landing out of spite. A petty act of revenge, in the eve of his imminent defeat.
Burn them all, Aerys had said, burn them all. The King had been frightened in the last moments of his life, but in his madness he repeated this mantra, as if it would keep him alive. In the end the king was killed by the last member of his Kingsguard that had remained in the city. All others had been out, fighting against the Baratheons and their allies. Most were dead by now. Killed during the same battle that claimed the live of Rhaegar Targaryen, Aerys eldest son and heir.
Rhaegar was a man Jaime had respected and he was sure, that the prince would have been a good king. But his weird obsession with the Stark girl, Lyanna, had brought him nothing but an early grave and doomed all of his family. But at least he died in battle, proud and strong as he was. A death worthy for the bards. Rhaegar's father died like a coward, wincing, soiling himself, before Jaime had cut his throat. A king shouldn't die like this, not so easily, not without any dignity left.
But what dignity, what honor was left to the Lannister heir now? He had broken his oath, the most sacred of oaths and no matter the reason for it, he would likely be punished for it. The best he could hope for was to be allowed to go to the Wall and take the Black. Most likely he would be imprisoned or worse yet, killed for breaking his oath. Or would he? He knew that his father's men were busy sacking the city. They had tricked Aerys and now even the last fortress of the Targaryens was lost. Maybe all would be well and he would be able to return home, to Casterly Rock, to his beloved sister.
Suddenly the large doors of the throne room burst open and several armed men stormed in. Jaime raised his sword, the Mad King's blood still dripping from its blade, ready to defend himself if any Targaryen loyalists had come to defend their king. But to his relief the men were not Targaryens, but Lannister men, led by Ser Elys Westerling and Lord Roland Crakenhall.
"Ser Jaime, thank the gods. Your father has started searching the entire city for you, sending his men into every house, ever alley, even the canals. He will be relieved to hear that his son still lives... and that the Mad King is dead. Your doing I presume?" Westerling said, as he approached Jaime with a grin that was not fit for such a grim situation. What the man called a search for the heir of Casterly Rock was most likely only a pretense, an excuse. They pretended to search for him, but instead they looted, killed and raped their way through the streets of King's Landing.
"Then go and tell my father that I am fine. And advise all to cease fighting, the king is dead and with him any reason for continuous bloodshed," Jaime said wearily.
Westerling left immediately, taking most of the men with him, but Crakenhall remained, his eyes fixed on the empty throne. "Should we appoint a new King now or wait until the Baratheons are here, Ser Jaime?"
Jaime had not spared a single thought on that topic. The king's blood was still hot and this lord already talked about replacing him. But he was right. The kingdom needed a leader and any moment the throne remained vacant was a risk. The longer it took them to decide on a new king, the more people would come to claim it. But who should become king?
"Maybe you should proclaim your father... or the rebel leader..."
"Not my father, his claim would be the weakest and trying to make him king could be the downfall of House Lannister. I shudder the thought of a Baratheon on the throne, but we have little choice. He will claim it, especially with Aerys' other son being so far away from here." Jaime shook his head. Viserys had a good claim to the throne, but Robert Baratheon would kill him on the spot. But maybe he would be more merciful towards a small child, even though it would be one of Rheagar's. At least that damn righteous Lord Stark would keep him in check, Ned Stark would not allow an innocent child to be murdered. "Maybe we should use one of Rheagar's children. They can be molded into good rulers and those damn rebels can play regent for all I care."
"I'm afraid that option is not possible. Your father has already ordered the deaths of the children." Crakenhall said evenly. But it wasn't his tone that unsettled Jaime, it was the fact that the damned man grinned when he said it. He was talking of murdering two children, none older than four, and he grinned. Was that any better than the madman he had just killed? The man who wished to burn the entire city?
"Who did he send to do that... work?" Jaime asked.
"Clegane and some other fools I believe." Crakenhall said dismissively, before he walked over to the dead king and nudged him with his foot.
That was enough for Jaime. He knew Gregor Clegane, that damned, soulless butcher. No matter the situation, no matter that he already broken his oath by killing the king, he still respected Rhaegar Targaryen and would not allow his children to be slaughtered if he could help it. At least this one service for the crown he wanted to do right. To get the children to safety, his last service for the one man who could have become the best king of his proud line, had the madness not claimed him at the sight of a pretty girl from the northmost end of the kingdom.
He ran as fast as his heavy armor allowed him to, as he tried to reach Rheagar's rooms in time. He knew that it was the place where Princess Elia was with her children, resigning to her fate after the death of her husband. He knew that the princess had little hope that the Targaryens would win the war after Rhaegar's death, but at least she hoped that her children could be saved, by keeping them away from enemies of their family. The Mad King had not allowed her or her children to flee, now this would be their undoing.
He was prepared for a lot, but what he saw when he arrived was enough to even make him pale. Blood everywhere, killed guards, men chopped in half. This had Clegane written all over it. But what was the worst was the sight of a babe, lying on the floor, its head bloody, the skull cracked after the child had been dashed against the wall repeatedly. Then he heard screaming. The desperate screams for mercy from a nearby nursery. Jaime easily identified the voice as that of Princess Elia and he wanted to come to her aid. But another loud scream stopped him. The scream of a frightened child. Princess Rhaenys no doubt. The girl was on the lower floor, where Prince Rhaegar's rooms were situated.
Jaime was shocked for a moment, as time seemed to slow down around him. He had to make a choice, save Rhaenys or Elia. He knew he couldn't save both. The girl or the mother... or neither if he hesitated any longer.
"Forgive me princess," He muttered silently, as he prayed that she would forgive him for abandoning her. But he ultimately decided to save Rhaegar's daughter, at the cost of the mother's life. But the princess was more important than her mother, that much was certain. Now that he brother was obviously dead, the princess was all that was left of Rhaegar's family in King's Landing.
He sprinted down the stairs to the lower levels and soon he reached the prince's rooms. The door was open and inside he could see what was happening. There was a man, wearing an armor in the distinct red coloring of the Lannister men. He was down on one knee and pulled something from under the bed. Jaime realized with shock that it was a child, a young girl, with dark hair and tan skin. The young Princess Rhaenys, who looked so much more like her mother, than her father. The child struggled, frightened by the man who dragged her out from under the bed. And the man's intention was clear, when he pulled out a dagger to stab her. She screamed even more and her kicking and struggling intensified even more.
Jaime knew that there was no time to waste, so he ran towards the screaming child and the man who was about to kill her, bloody blade raised, a fierce battle cry on his lips. The would be murderer looked up in surprise, as he saw Jaime Lannister, the son of his Lord attack him. He had barely enough time to look up, before Jaime cut off the hand with the dagger, which he had raised to strike the girl.
After taking his hand, Jaime rammed the pummel of his sword into the face of the man, sending his helm flying into a corner, knocking him away from the frightened princess. Jaime recognized the man now. Ser Amory Lorch, one of his father's bannermen. A simple minded pig of a man, cruel and greedy. No loss for this world, that much was assured.
"Why?" Lorch asked weakly, as he grabbed the bleeding stump where his hand had been moments before.
Jaime stared at him for a long moment, slightly shocked by his own actions. He was about to kill one of his father's bannermen. A man who had served the Lannisters loyally and was only doing what Tywin Lannister had ordered him to do. But in the end he resolved that he owed this one last service to Rhaegar. He owed him this. He had failed all his other duties and oaths, but not this one. "A Lannister always pays his debt..." Jaime said, before he finally stabbed the man through the heart.
He took some deep breaths, trying to calm himself. But he wouldn't calm down, as it dawned on him what he had just done. First he had betrayed his king, to save the city. And now he had betrayed his father as well... to save the princess. The child that looked him with wide, fearful eyes. He knew he must be looking frightening at the moment, looking so fierce with a bloody sword in his hand... with the blood of both her grandfather and her would be murderer on his blade.
But he had no time. The desperate screams in the distance had ceased and he knew that poor princess Elia was mostly likely dead now. But that meant that Clegane would come looking for Lorch and Jaime had no intention to fight that ruthless monster. He was sure he could beat him, but he had no wish to find out today. He had just thrown everything he had away, all for the child before him, so the least he could do was keep her safe. His own sacrifice should not be in vain.
"Come princess, I will bring you to safety." He tried to sound reassuringly, but the child was far too scared to listen to anything. So he picked her up and quickly carried her away. She did not resist, did not scream any more. She was still like a doll, too shocked to react anymore. Not that he could blame her for that, she was a four year old child that had lost her brother and parents... she had lost everything and was nearly killed just for being her father's daughter.
And he? This morning he had been Jaime Lannister, son of Tywin, Kingsguard of King Aerys II. But now... he wasn't sure what was left of the man he had been. Now both the rebels and his own family would most likely hunt him down. And the Targaryen loyalists would kill him the moment he showed up, because he had killed their king. Crakenhall's big mouth had most likely already spread the news. Everything was lost and all that remained was the child in his arms and the sword in his hand. But one thing was sure, for the first time in all the time since he had become a knight, he felt as if he had done the right thing. Just this once.