Actions

Work Header

If the Mountain will not come to justice, then justice must go to the Mountain

Work Text:

The Knight of Flowers was about the leave the throne room in a foul mood when he was called to stop. Lord Stark, more quiet and less confident than before, bade him wait while the Hand slowly came forward on his one good leg. "Ser, would you still seek to bring justice to Clegane?"
"You know this, Lord Eddard. Would you still dishonor me by denying me that?" At this Stark raised himself as upright as he could and spoke louder. "No, I would not. I ask that you remember you are one of many wronged by the Mountain, and that you do not go on behalf of yourself. You may take twenty of your men-at-arms along with the King's Justice to ride alongside Lord Beric and under his command."
At this Loras bristled. "We Tyrells are a Great House with more bannermen than any of these you've dispatched, and Lord Beric is hardly more a veteran than I, even if he is a few years older."
The King's Hand would not yield. "Be that as it may, I have made my decision. You will go under his command or not at all."
Ser Loras called his squire to his side, then turned his head to continue facing Lord Stark. "Inform the Lord of Blackhaven that he has the knight who unhorsed the Mountain at his disposal."

The Lords Paramount of the Reach had the best of knighthood at their disposal. In addition to his own handpicked men from the Tyrell household guard, Loras' call was answered by men from Florent, Fossoway, Oakheart, Crane, Tarly, Rowan and Mullendore. In addition to the most promising young knights of the day, he had men who'd handed King Robert Baratheon his only defeat at the battle of Ashford. He regretted that King Robert himself was still hunting and would not be joining them. The old stag was easily distracted by the latest woman to catch his eye, but he remembered his old brothers in arms, such as the last two hands. Thoros of Myr wasn't a knight at all, or even a Westerosi, but putting down the Greyjoys had earned him a permanent place of esteem in King's Landing, however little he deserved it. Perhaps his drunkenness also endeared him to the king, who would take the idea of corrupting a Red Priest as a point of pride. Loras doubted that Thoros had spent a day sober in his adult life, unless he was out of coin. The fat priest was currently spending his winnings from the melee as fast as he could, getting the rest of his company nearly as drunk as him. Beric evidently bore the fire-worshipper no ill-will for defeating him in only his second joust at the tourney, as Loras saw him laughing uproariously at Thoros doing a pantomime of the siege of Pyke. The young Tyrell was in no laughing mood, particularly with Ilyn Payne beside him. He did not know if the executioner was even capable of laughter, and hoped he would never find out. The King's Justice was now wearing a rusty shirt of chainmail, clearly not having expected to ever return to the field. Rusted armor for a rusted knight. It stood out like a blemish amidst the gleaming armor of those Loras had chosen himself. Lord Eddard must have sent him to the Knight of Flowers to punish insolence with his mere presence. He had once commanded men, but could now give no commands and no man would want to be in his company.

As they set off the next morning, it occurred to Loras that this all could have been avoided if Robert had been keener on bloodsport and permitted the Hound and his brother to fight to the death. He was grateful that Sandor had intervened when the older Clegane tried to kill him, but few would miss Joffrey's Dog if he were to be exchanged for all the riverlanders currently being put to the sword. Tywin Lannister had a penchant for surrounding himself with the most twisted and deformed blackguards in the realm, men who made their reputations slaughtering babes. This was audacious even for Gregor, but as no one had yet put him in his place, it was only a matter of time before his actions forced something to be done. He had been a disgrace to his title long enough, and it did ultimately seem more fitting for his life to be ended by true knights rather than to make even the Hound a kinslayer.

 


***

 

The Lightning Lord had led them all into a trap, and the King's Banners were no protection. Loras had to admit that even he had not expected this of the Lannisters. Tywin was a dishonorable man, but never so reckless. Robert would have his head along with Gregor's, which provided only so much satisfaction to a man not sure if he'd live to see it. Loras had never been in a battle before, and hadn't expected it to be such a mass of confusion. Amidst the chaos he could see the Mountain, towering over all around him and charging forward, on a different mount but of a comparable size. Loras himself was not riding his mare from the tourney either, now no man could accuse him of using any underhanded means against the honorable Ser Gregor. It would be man against man, stallion against stallion, if he could just reach him. Hopefully the brute would think he has the advantage now, while Loras knew just how he rode and how to unhorse him again. Perhaps if the Seven smiled on Loras then Clegane would have left an opening in his armor where he could suffer the same fate as Ser Hugh. But the closer rider was Dondarrion, and the young lord was foolish enough to think he was up to that task. Loras considered shouting at him that he should be leading their remaining forces rather than getting himself killed, but in a few seconds events played out just as he'd expected. The marcher lord went clear off his horse and into the Red Fork. The Hand's men would have to do without his dubious leadership.

The Mountain could now see that Loras was the nearest threat, and would not be caught unprepared. No matter. Loras steadied his lance and spurred his horse until he achieved his planned speed before bracing for the collision. It was then that he noticed another rider to his right and heading toward the same point. It had been unfortunate but not unexpected that Lord Beric thought himself capable of this, but what in seven hells was the King's Justice thinking? Surely neither the man nor his sorry looking mount had subjected themselves to nearly this much exertion in years. Loras could hardly ask the man why he was getting in the way of the manifestly more fit knight for the task, but once he'd gotten close enough Payne's sword did his talking for him by slashing the nearest leg on Tyrell's horse.

The Knight of Flowers cursed Lannister perfidy as he sought to tumble to his left while the horse fell right. Even if he were lucky, he would land prone and be at the mercy of any enemy nearby until he got himself up, and then still at a disadvantage to Gregor. He was not lucky, and still had his right foot in its stirrup, under his horse. It hurt, but he did not think it broken even if it was immobilized at the moment. Ilyn Payne had dismounted, with his pale eyes and greatsword both pointed at his betrayed brother in arms. It was only then that it occurred to the young Tyrell how valuable he would be as a hostage. His father would do anything necessary to get him back, even if it meant bargaining with an outlaw Tywin. Loras did not intend for that to be the outcome of his first battle and reached for his dagger to cut himself free. He saw that the Mountain was now on foot as well and approaching him, with his enormous sword drawn. Of course Gregor would not care about hostages. The Great Dog aimed to finish what he'd attempted in King's Landing. Loras was going to die, joining an ever-growing list of corpses who'd set out in the right against the man most deserving of meeting the Stranger. The false knight was footsteps away when he raised his greatsword above his head, at which point Ilyn Payne moved faster than he'd seemed capable of, drawing his dagger and shoving it through a slit in the giant's helm before dodging to the side. The Mountain bellowed in tremendous pain and staggered back. It was the most awful sound Loras had ever heard, and deafening in its intensity. Payne, now behind the second knight he'd taken unawares, had his own greatsword lifted behind his back as he took a few quick steps forward before bringig it down with all his force against the back of Gregor's neck. If the mute executioner were capable of saying anything, he would no longer be capable of saying honestly that he'd never needed more than one stroke to sever a head, but the head in question (and the body it was now less firmly attached to) still went crashing to the ground mere inches from Loras. The young knight's dagger cut through the stirrup and he scrambled back as Payne's sword came crashing down again, finally cutting all the way through Clegane's oversized neck. It was then that Loras heard something else he'd never heard before. Amidst the cries of the wounded and dying Ser Ilyn's ugly mouth (open for the first time Loras could recall) was emitting some inhuman clacking sound. As best as he could tell, it was laughter.