A/N: Sorry its been a little while... longer than I intended. This chapter took me a surprisingly long time to right. I think I was having trouble with Jaime's POV. Also I've been really busy, but no excuses.
Jaime and Nim meet again in this chapter. Trying to keep Jaime in character... he's a bit of an asshole in this chapter as he often is. Thanks for all of your favorites, alerts and reviews as always. Enjoy the chapter!
Chapter 5: The Danger of a Bannerless Enemy
Most days, Nim thought of her spite as an attribute rather than a vice. She couldn't deny the enjoyment she received out of standing up to others with a smirk on her face and a gleam in her eye. Taunts flowed off her tongue like the sweetest of wines. And she loved the surge of in her blood that came from a fight.
Lantos often warned against such foolish desires. One should only fight for necessity or practice, he said. Never for the rush. A rush is a brief and fleeting thing. And often fleeting things can get a swords man killed. Arrogance, recklessness, greed. All of these fleeting things could be death blows to even the greatest swordsmen.
But most times, Nim had a hard time denying herself the rush.
And sometimes she damned her spite and recklessness to the deepest of the seven hells. Take now, for instance.
Branches caught on her cloak as she vaulted through the trees and the sharp ends tangled in her short hair and scratched the surface of her skin. She only felt the slight tug when her skin ripped. No pain. Pain always melted away in the wake of fear and exhilaration.
Footsteps echoed from behind her, heavy boots that snapped branches and crackled leaves with each heavy step. The last time Nim had checked there were ten of them. Usually, the brotherhood would never send out so many pursuers but they had no caravans of supplies to attack at the moment. Perhaps they wanted the practice.
But really, Nim knew they wanted the gold.
With each step she took, she heard the coins jingle in the red pouch that had once belonged to the Kingslayer. And in the much larger bag that she had taken because she could. If she had been smart at all, she would have stuck to the bag she had originally stolen fair and square.
But the second bag had been right there. Right in front of her hands. How could she resist?
She should have resisted. Because now she had ten pursuers. All armed. And there was no way in the seven hells she could beat them all. She'd be lucky if she could kill two before getting stabbed in the back by the other eight.
Placing her hand on a trunk of a tree, she vaulted over with effortless ease. She tried to lose the much larger men by traveling the smaller paths. Squeezing through tree trunks. Ducking under low branches. But these men knew the Kingswood well. They would not be so easily thrown off.
She knew that she could not evade them on the ground. Not for long. So, spotting a low hanging branch, she caught the rough bark between her hands and swung up onto it. Without pausing to inhale she scrambled up into the branches. She jumped from one and into the arms of another tree. The bark scraped the skin almost clean off her skin. Still no pain. Only the rush.
Nim didn't stop until she was four trees away from her original climbing spot, enough off her original path to throw her pursuers off. She waited with ragged breath as their footsteps rushed by. Then the sounds began to fade.
Two solid minutes of silence past and the comforting sound of rustling leaves and twittering birds filled Nim's ears, bringing her breathing back to its normal level. They'd be diverted but not for long. Soon they'd realize she gave them the slip and double back. She had to get out of the Kingswood and fast.
She jumped from her tree and landed lightly in a pile of leaves on the ground. Then she ran.
She found one of the main roads quickly and hurried along. The brotherhood normally kept away from the main road unless they were intercepting a caravan. Afterall, they were criminals. Perhaps if Nim traveled by the main road, she would be safe.
But then a new sound met her ears. Not the sound of tramping boots but of clomping hooves. Nim looked up to see a party of three horses trotting down the road. Lannister horses. And the man at their lead.
The man at their lead was the very man whose old purse she had tucked into her cloak. Jaime Lannister.
Joffery had sent Jaime to the Kingswood with fifty swords. Less than the brotherhood's total numbers but they tended to travel in smaller packs rather than large groups. And many were undisciplined as normal soldiers. They had their skilled warriors of course. Thoros of Myr. Berric Dondarrion. And other nameless renegades with a talent for slaughter. But talents could only go so far against trained soldiers and armor.
Jaime had taken two men to scout up the road from where they had briefly set up camp. Usually he would send another man to do the scouting but he went himself today. He half hoped one of the Brotherhood would charge him from the trees just to give him something to kill. He needed bloodshed to break the tension of the day.
But it wasn't one of the bannerless men who they discovered on the road. But rather a familiar, scraggly girl, covered in dirt, cuts and bruises.
Nim. That nameless runt who had stolen his dagger and gold.
She froze as soon as their eyes met, and Jaime felt rather satisfied to see her fear for a brief moment. She had kept an impressive mask in their first encounter but she knew well enough that he wouldn't allow her to leave alive this time.
He couldn't let her leave alive this time.
"Who's that, my lord?" the man to his right asked.
"A known thief." Jaime replied. "It seems as if she may have friends in these woods. Maybe with the brotherhood. Not a surprise."
"Friends… right." Nim muttered. "You know, this is a terrible time. It really couldn't be worse."
"I'm glad to hear it." Jaime said, a smirk curling over his face.
"Do you want her questioned or killed?" The man to his left asked.
"There are plenty more like her." Jaime said, without much hesitation. "Ride her down."
But no sooner had the command left his lips, the girl dove off the road and into the trees. Jaime kicked his horse forward, cantering after her. He could corner her before she got far. So long as he managed to trap her before the woods became too thick. He maneuvered his horse quickly through the foliage, and his horse moved without question. Horses trained for soldiers had faced battlefields much worse than this. The girl couldn't hope to divert them simply by diving into the trees.
He caught her in a small clearing only several yards away from the woods, cutting off her escape path. He jumped off his horse, drawing his sword quickly from its sheath. "You seem less prepared this time, girl."
"Right…" her grey eyes darted about, as if she was expecting some other enemy to emerge from the trees. "Maybe you could keep your voice down? I think you should."
"Why would I do that?"
"No reason. The thought just occurred to me."
She certainly sounded as unhinged as she appeared and Jaime didn't think he was the only cause. But he didn't much care who else caused her unease.
His two other men emerged in the clearing behind them. They had to abandon their horses at the road, as they were not as well trained and had refused to cross through the trees. But now they had her cornered between three armored men.
Nim hastily drew her long knives, but her hands seemed to shake at the hilts. He could see that her palms were scraped bloody and her face had been cut numerous times by branches. Had she been running from something?
Jaime nodded to his men behind Nim and they lashed out at her. She dropped under the swing of both their swords and rolled backwards, slashing out with her knives. The blades glanced off their armor with a loud clang. Jaime's eyes narrowed slightly. Yes, her strikes seemed much less controlled today. Her movement was last minute and erratic. Exhaustion perhaps.
One of the men stabbed out at her from the front. She side stepped and stabbed upwards with the blade, catching him across the wrist. His grip on the sword faltered and she slammed her body into his legs, sending him falling and the sword tumbling from his hands. She stabbed downwards, sinking the knife deep into his throat. She could fight well enough to kill, it seemed. But with such irregular movements, she could not hope to fair well against Jaime.
The surviving man let out a yell and lunged at her. She backed up, bending backwards with each step to avoid the cut of his blade. She finally dropped and rolled under his feet, drawing her blades sharply across the unprotected back of his knees. He dropped and she stood, panting for breath, her eyes wild. She began to raise her blades, intent on killing his second man, but Jaime interceded in that moment sliding his sword in front of her strike with ease. With a sharp flick of his wrist he sent her knives flying from her hands, still slick with blood. She stumbled backwards, grey eyes filled with a mix of fear and hatred.
"You should have known better than to cross swords with me in the first place, girl." Jaime said. "A Lannister always pays his debts."
"I should have killed you." Nim spat. Jaime's brow furrowed. Seeing her unhinged stood in sharp contrast to the last time he fought with her. But it was also familiar in some way. He recognized the look in her eyes. Had he seen it on her face before? Or on another face. He couldn't figure it out. But the anger in those grey eyes seemed so familiar.
Not that it mattered now.
"Probably." Jaime agreed. "So why didn't you?"
"I'm a thief, not a murderer."
"Tell that to the dead man over there."
"He attacked me first."
"Right." Jaime said, keeping pace with Nim as she continued to back up. He saw her eyes flash as she glanced to the right, towards her fallen weapon. A second later she bolted for it, but this time, Jaime wasn't about to let her get what she wanted. With a swift jerk of his foot, he knocked her off her feet and to the ground. He raised his sword over his head to deliver the finishing blow.
"My lord!" the surviving man called out in warning. Jaime turned in time to see an arrow sprout from the man's throat, and just in time to block the sword strike from another man. One of the Brotherhood's rabble. Out of the corner of his eye, Jaime saw Nim scramble away, going for her weapons but he didn't have time to stop her. He had more pressing matters at hand now.
The man who had attacked him tried once again for a strike but Jaime opened his stomach with a well-placed slash of his own and knocked him hard in the head with his armored hand, sending him falling to the ground. He turned about and found himself faced with nine other men, all of the brotherhood. Most wielded swords, two wielded a bow and arrow. None of them were known to Jaime's eyes, but that meant nothing. Nine against one provided unfavorable odds.
"This is why I said not to make so much noise." He heard the girl mutter. He glanced over his shoulder to see her standing back to back with him. Only then did he realized that she was not allies with the brotherhood.
"This lot was after you?" Jaime asked.
"Yes, they were." She sighed.
"She stole a good bit of coin from us." One of the men, who Jaime perceived to be the leader, spoke. "We want it back."
"Some of it belonged to me." Nim said. "I stole it in the first place."
"And the extra you stole from us?"
"A gift of course."
Jaime smirked and shook his head. "Seems you landed yourself into a precarious predicament, girl."
"And you as well, Lannister." The leading man said. "We wanted to catch the thief but we're just fine with catching the Kingslayer as well."
"My father would not let that go unpaid."
"He left you in the hands of the north for three years." The man smirked. Others around him snickered.
Jaime kept his confident smirk present but anger burned through him. He raised his sword but made no reply. "How do you think you'll fair against these men, girl?" he asked.
"I have no idea." She replied. "But I hope you're as good as they say because we might need that now."
"Did you plan on fighting me in addition to the nine men?"
Jaime sighed. A good point. "If you live, I'll kill you afterwards."
"If I live, you're welcome to try." Nim replied evenly, turning her long knives in her hands.
The man leading the hunting party smirked. "Kill the thief, try to take to Kingslayer alive."
The men took this as their cue to attack and Jaime quickly found himself caught up in the battle.
Well, he had wanted a good fight to clear his head. He just didn't think it would be under these circumstances.
A/N: Something you'll quickly notice... I'm terrible with cliff hangers. I love using them. So, Jaime would have definitely killed Nim had they not been interrupted. The question is, what will happen to them now?
Next chapter will hopefully be out soon. In the mean time, feel free to follow me on twitter at AimeeHyndman or subscribe to me on youtube (Kallypso8) where I've recently started putting out video reviews. Thanks for reading, favoriting and reviewing and I hope you enjoyed!