Of Wolf and Man

Jaime Stark (or how Jaime prefers dying with a sword in hand than being put behind iron bars)

Their sigil was a direwolf and the Starks often referred to themselves as a pack of wolves. They even had wolf blood in their veins, some would say. Of all Lord Rickard Stark’s children, Jaime was the most wolf-like.

He had barely grown from a pup when Jaime Stark came to King’s Landing, chosen by King Aerys himself to be one of the White Cloaks. One year younger than Lyanna and pretty much a boy who had rarely ridden past Riverruns, the prospect of being one of the seven to plead their life to the king excited him like none other. It was an honor few would dare refuse and however he grudged giving up a son to celibacy, a bright and talented sword to boost, Lord Rickard sent Jaime to the capital.

Thus began the separation of their pack.

The rumors about King Aerys’s gradual descendant to the pit of insanity were not quite convincing in his early days at King’s Landing. Young and bold and proud with his sword also, Jaime had a boyish naiveté about chivalry and loyalty of the Kingsguards. The finest, truest knights of the kingdom, he often heard the songs praise. And most loyal too, for they put the king’s well-being above all else and follow orders to a lethal degree. To protect and obey the king, the Lord Commander had reminded him on his first day as a sworn brother. He understood but had not quite grab the true meaning of the words until he learned it the hard way. Once he dared beg King Aerys’s mercy lord who had offended him, raising his voice in the court, in front of all the high lords and ladies, which was even worse. The vicious glow in the king’s purple eyes boiled his blood and sent a chill down his spine as the same time.

The lesser noble’s fate was certain and Jaime’s own had taken a downward turn since then.

Jaime was thoroughly convinced of King Aerys’s madness when he was ordered to come to the king’s chamber. There he made the Stark pup attend his frequent “sessions” with his queen, which, in Jaime’s vocabulary, could only be defined as “rapes”. Again and again, the poor queen was ravaged by the king. It was not until she was almost a limp, dead body lying in the tangled bed sheet smeared red by her own blood that King Aerys shown his mercy to both of them. “You’re my dog now, not your father’s pampered pup. Here dogs obey, dogs bark and bite as ordered and dogs don’t question. Though I mislike having to teach my dog, a few lessons might do well to his behaviors.”. The king did as he pleased and his ‘guard dogs’, the Kingsguards, had better stay silent and obey. However bitter, the lesson began to carve its way into him. Though the wolf inside him growled and snarled everytime he came to the king chamber, “Maul him!”, the wolf howled, “Tear out his chest and see what color his heart is!”, the human Jaime calmed him down by drifting both his senses and mind to the godswood of the North, to the grey old walls of Winterfell, to the familiar faces of Brandon, Ned, Lyanna and little Benjen. He wondered if Lyanna still poured wine over his head everytime their little brother teased her.

Thus the wolf pup became tamed as a guard dog.

The news of Rhaegar Lannister took Lyanna Stark and ran away spread across the whole kingdom like a toxic wind, rocking the already unbalanced political state. More than anyone could give him credit for, Jaime was dreaded by this twist of event. Few years by King Aerys’s side had taught him more than just obedience; he had learned how political problems were handled here in King’s Landing. He knew Rhaegar Lannister enough to be sure the eldest son of Lord Tywin Lannister was not the type to simply go out and steal a girl. He also knew Lyanna too well to be sure his sister was not the type to be helplessly stolen. Lyanna was always a fierce she-wolf, sometimes even fiercer than her brothers. But Jaime also knew his lord father and Lord Tywin Lannister were both men of ridiculously high pride. Lord Rickard Stark would not stand with his arms folded while his own blood was being abducted; similarly Lord Tywin Lannister would not stay silent when another noble came and demanded his daughter’s return.

Just as Jaime had feared, a few days later, Lord Rickard Stark and his eldest son strode the length of the Red Keep, asking for the king’s justice.   King Aerys’s state of mind had worsened since the news of his goodson reached his ears. Knowing this, Jaime was terrified by what he would do if Lord Rickard somehow provoked his anger. But no matter how he tried to convince them, his lord father and brother’s determination would go unshaken. Have you forgotten that you are a Stark of Winterfell ? Have you forgotten that you are a wolf instead a craven guard dog ? For the first time in front of his lord father, Jaime Stark understood the meaning of shame.

The human Jaime sprawled on the marble floor, crying at the top of his lung for the king’s mercy. The proud wolf would not beg, the proud wolf would sprout to his feet and launched at the man, at the loose sack of blood and meat and spilled its content on the floor. Lord Rickard’s words from earlier throbbed in his head. No, he did not forget the wolf blood flowing in his veins nor had he become something else other than Jaime Stark of Winterfell. But the human Jaime would not dare risking their lives by enraging Aerys. Silently he prayed that there was still a shred of sanity in the Mad King, that some high lords or ladies or even his sworn brothers would raise their voice in defending his family. To his utter despair, The Throne Room remained mute as a grave save for Jaime’s pleads.

Did you forget your lessons so fast ? Aerys’s tinted purple orbs seemed to speak to him as the Mad King’s pyromancer lit the pyre. Jaime’s mind temporarily went blank as he watched with hollow eyes the fiery starving beast hastily devour Lord Rickard.

The sickening sound of Brandon’s neck snapped in two was the final signal for the wolf within Jaime. He did not recall when or how he unsheathed his sword, his claw then, or how he gained such astounding speed to spring forth and plunged his sword into Aerys’s belly. He hacked and slashed and hacked and slashed, spraying bits of flesh and guts all over the Iron Throne. He did not hear the shrieks and screams of those high lords and ladies, nor was he aware of the cold steel grabbing his limbs. Later people would say he had slain two of his brothers in the midst of frenzy. They had never been his brothers. His brother was up there, swaying, with a thick noose around his neck. When Jaime the human returned in control, his white cloak and armor seemed to be bleeding themselves.

War had started outside, Jaime had heard vaguely, in which he was certain the Starks had a role. The only explanation as to why his head and body was still a whole. The son of late Lord Rickard Stark and brother to Eddard Stark would make a valuable hostage should terms be negotiated. Jaime could almost smell the powdery hand of Varys on this notion. What negotiations Jaime wondered. It was blood and murder to pay for blood and murder. Feel free to send me to the headsman or the pyre, I have no regret. A wolf is not meant to be confined in cage. I would rather die with a sword in hand than rot slowly in piss and shit. It would be fine if Ned just ignored him and focused on the war.

“Kingslayer” they called him, an unerasable stigma to mark the day he stained his holy vows; many of whom were the high lords and ladies in the Throne Room that day, witnessing the massacre. People were a curious thing. Had they been too appalled by his blood frenzy that they had somehow forgotten Aerys’s atrocity? Was killing with sword more barbaric than roasting a father alive and let his sons watch? Had they been in his shoes, wouldn’t they have wanted vengeance? Jaime had only done what was expected of a son, of a brother. But had revenge been his only reason for butchering the king he had sworn to protect? Years later and still Jaime was uncertain. Vague was the moment he had drawn his sword yet the ineffable sensation was vivid. Was it rage, was it despair, Jaime didn’t know. That day, he had finally unleashed the wolf within. The pain was unbearable and only by setting him free had Jaime’s mentality have any hope of remaining intact. The Throne Room was his hunting field, the lords and ladies trees and grass, and King Aerys his prey. Jaime even recalled how… good it felt when cutting Aerys to bloody pieces. It was not the kind of melancholic satisfaction when justice was served but rather the one predators gained with savaging their preys. The moment he sheathed the sword in the king’s bowel, the boundary between man and beast dissolved, leaving Jaime a wolf in human skin. The wolf had not sought justice; the wolf had only desired blood. That, only Jaime Stark was aware and none other.

The nickname “Kingslayer” was still haunting him even after King Robert had restored his status as a Kingsguard. Behind his back they sniggered; in front of his face they shown a blatant disdain. They who hadn’t watched helplessly as their father cooked and their brother strangled to death. Was this the final curse Aerys Targaryen had laid before going down to Seven Hells, to have Lord Rickard’s son forever scorned and the honor of House Stark forever tainted?

He had tried to warn Ned of Queen Cersei’s plot. He had tried to convince Ned to support Lord Renly’s cause. Renly might not be the best man to sit on the throne, but at this moment he was the closest in help. Jaime knew how the game was played here, years spent at the court by Robert’s side. Ned did not listen to him, his stubborn rock of brother, the same when he had shouted to Brandon when the noose slowly tightening around his neck. Brandon had not listened and Brandon had died. What would become of Ned, Jaime feared.

He set his wolf free again, after nearly twenty years of slumber. Red cloaks, gold cloaks or white he did not care, Jaime cut them down if they stood in his way. It was their only chance, to kill Queen Cersei and her son-king or be killed. Unlike Ned, she knew how to play the game and well she played, turning Ned’s painstakingly prepared plan to naught. As his guards laid scattered around the Throne Room and Ned crippled, Jaime was their last chance of escape.

Janos Slynt fell first, followed by Petyr “Little finger” Baelish, Boros Blunt, Mandon Moore. Jaime had love for none of them so his sword went through them as hot knife through butter. Somewhere he heard Queen Cersei’s panicked shrieks and the boy king Joffrey’s angry shouts but the blood boiling in his veins prevented any meaning to his mind. There, in his head, was only the raging urge to kill.

Close. If only he could get a little closer then both heads would be his to claim. If only he could get pass Ser Barristan Selmy and The Hound.

Ser Barristan Selmy’s cloak was snow-white and The Hound was ink-black. Black and white was the last he saw before Jaime’s heart was impaled by a pair of swords. As Jaime Stark fell to floor, his white cloak was bleeding with his own blood.

Jaime the wolf had fused with Jaime the human the moment Jaime drew his sword. Together they killed and together they perished.

“Kingslayer”, “Queenslayer”, people who saw his head mounted atop the spike would jeer. “Oathbreaker”, “Turncloak” they might call him but craven they might not.

None would dare say Jaime Stark had not died with a sword in his hand.

Note : I’m not certain this is the last installment; there may be more in the future. But now, this series has come to a stop. Many thanks to people who have followed this series.

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