CHAPTER 1: JAIME I
Lannisport, 278 AC
"Jaime! Jaime! What is happening there?"
Twelve-year-old Jaime Lannister looked down at his little brother, who was twitching at his tunic and staring at him expectantly, then again toward the harbor, where some confusion had arisen.
"I don't know," Jaime shrugged disparagingly. "Some clash, that's all."
He had never been particularly interested in silly quarrels of fisherfolk, or mariners, and ever since he had become a squire at Crakehall, he hadn't been interested in such things at all. However, when he saw that Tyrion was still boring his mismatched eyes into him almost pleadingly, he said with a sigh, "Good then, we will see."
Straightening up proudly, Jaime took his brother's hand and, as fast as Tyrion was able to keep up, they walked down the street, toward the harbor.
Jaime had not expected at all what they would sight around the corner, once they would pass the high port buildings and come onto the wharf.
"Jaime, can you see?" Tyrion's eyes became round like two two-coloured moons, and he almost jumped in amazement. Other time Jaime would have laughed, just like he often did, amused by his brother's overly sincere excitement, now, however, he felt as his own eyes widen.
Above the heads of many mariners, swearing and stinking of fish, whose cries, full of some unusual animation, he and Tyrion had heard before, Jaime saw a ship.
In his, still short, life, he had seen many ships. Some of them could have been beautiful in the eyes of the others - his uncle Gerion had admired them, and so had Tyrion, yet was there really anything large and great that his five-year-old brother didn't admire? Jaime, if he was sensitive to any beauty, it was the beauty of Cersei and the beauty of swords. Every other beauty he considered useless, also the beauty of ships.
Now, however, Jaime saw the fairest of ships, and he could only think it was beautiful. It seemed whiter than gulls circling with yammering above the wharf, and beamed so stupendously like possibly not even Brightroar of Valyrian steel could have shined. Jaime had never seen Brightroar, not even a drawing of it, yet ever since uncle Gerion had once told him its story, this lost sword of his house in Jaime's imagination was greater than any jewel.
Docked in the haven, the ship floated on the dirty waves of the harbor so subtly and lightly, as if not touching them at all - it reminded Jaime of an awesome swan ready to take to the air, out of some silly children tales which had always amused and bored him. However, now those ridiculous tales, for whatever reason, seemed incredibly real to Jaime, and for a moment he stood as if bewitched, not able to take his eyes off of the shining ship.
He awoke when he heard that someone from the crowd calls to him.
"Young lord Jaime!"
Jaime turned his gaze to a place from whence the voice came, and in a man figure walking toward him he recognized Jorin, one of his father's port officials, whom uncle Gerion hated and called an old, filthy swine.
Jorin bowed to him, then he took a short, unsympathetic look at Tyrion. Frightened Tyrion immediately hid behind his brother, and Jaime felt as he clung to his leg with all his strength. That was enough for Jaime to regain the balance, and the pride of a Lannister.
"What is it?" he asked, raising his brow. "What is going on here?"
Suddenly, Jorin seemed confused, and he nervously moved his hand over his fat belly. "Master Jaime, maybe your father, or uncle is in the town?"
"My father is in King's Landing, and he'll return to Casterly Rock no sooner than a fortnight. For uncle Gerion, for whom, I suppose, you ask, he is in Lannisport, now busy with important matters, though."
"You've come here alone, then? You shouldn't have come to the harbor with no guard, young lord..."
Jorin smiled. He presumably had good intentions, yet his crooked, indulgent smile made Jaime's blood boil. Seven hells, he wasn't a child anymore! Jaime straightened up, possibly a little too abruptly, whilst trying to delicately loose his legging, which Tyrion was still clutching to.
"I can defend myself," he almost barked.
Jorin didn't care much about Jaime's anger, but when he peeked at the awesome ship, the smile disappeared from his face. Once again he moved his hand over his belly, clearly restless.
"What's this ship?" asked Jaime. "Whose pennon is that - I have never seen it before?"
Jorin winced. Suddenly, he seemed almost terrified.
"Lord Jaime... That's why I asked for your uncle... It's a really odd thing..."
"What's this ship?" Jaime repeated his question, struggling to make his voice sound powerful, even though, for whatever reason, his heart began to beat irritatingly fast. "Where does it come from?"
Jorin hesitated before he answered:
"Well... We don't know that, my lord..."
"What does it me - you don't know?"
"Last night, as you surely know, there was a huge storm on the sea... It's almost impossible... It's utterly impossible any ship could have outlasted such a storm and arrived in Lannisport intact. And..." Jorin stuttered, swallowing loudly and looked at Jaime. "And Gerwyn, who did duties in the morning and was responsible for letting ships in, claims that the ship.. That it... Came out of the sea..."
Jaime watched Jorin's face until he thought, with astonishment, that Jorin believes in what he is saying. He once again adjusted the legging, at the same time glancing down at Tyrion, who started shifting anxiously, clearly not able to decide what was stronger in him - curiosity or fear.
"What a raving!" Jaime laughed at last. "I'm telling uncle you recruit some drunken, mad fools to work in the harbor!"
"I've thought the same, master Jaime - that Gerwyn talks gibberish, until... Until I have seen her..."
"Her?" asked Jaime, raising his brow and smiling mockingly, still trying to treat all of this as some, not the best, joke.
"A woman who came by that ship," said Jorin. "A witch."