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Click here to see why Brandon Sanderson thinks we got it completely wrong (and why he’s probably right, and a much, much better writer than us!)
Click here for George R.R. Martin’s idea of how the fight will go!
It had to be part of some scheme, this challenge from the knight, something that too-clever dwarf had come up with to once again aid his arrogant brother.
But this Dragon wasn’t just reborn yesterday.
The thing Rand didn’t get was, what it was supposed to accomplish? His power had been chronicled more than a dozen times over. Despite his regret at the flippant destruction of his last opponent, there was no way Rand would just let this one-handed pretty boy dictate terms to him.
He looked down at his own missing appendage. Someone has a sense of humor, he thought. He cleared his head of such musings.
Let them come.
It mattered not to Rand, for wasn’t he worth an army unto himself, let alone seven warriors of this piddling world known as Westeros? If anything, this was the challenge he relished, for his recent battles had left him feeling–not bored, exactly, but almost certainly indifferent. The thief had amused him, but in the end, there was no way to con Rand out of his ability with a blade. He easily handled the barbarian as well. Perhaps most intriguing to him had been the so-called “Gunslinger.” Whatever strange magical weapon that man had possessed, it was surely of demonic origins, and for the first time in a long time he had felt fear.
It was exhilarating.
And that was why he looked upon this fight–the last fight, or so he’d been told–with wariness. A swordsman? And one without even a magical sword? At least the dark elf had held weapons of power and had shown up with a mighty, living artifact at his side.
But Rand also wasn’t so cocky as to assume that his victory was assured. No Thread tied this Ser, and because of that, he was a free agent in Rand’s mind. He obviously had some god looking out for him, because here he was, the last man in Rand’s path towards victory.
A man who had killed kings.
A man who had killed a dragon.
It wasn’t fear that rippled through him this time; it was excitement.
I will face this knight alone or I will face this cripple and his rough crew of bodyguards. He smiled.
No matter what, though, he will face his last foe in the mortal realm…
Ser Jaime Lannister rode onto the hill, his golden-plated armor gleaming in the brilliant sun. “Is it just me, or do I get to kill a demigod today?
“Another demigod,” he said, chuckling.
The twisted, shrunken man on the donkey beside him did not share in his mirth. “Jaime, don’t be an idiot,” Tyrion said. “You know you have no chance against this guy. He has this power that can simply wipe you from existence–he didn’t even allow his last opponent to say anything witty. And when he was done, he ate some sweetmeats before he left.”
“Sounds childish to me.”
“You’re the one being childish!” his brother hissed, pulling his donkey in front of Jaime’s warhorse. “I may be half a man, but you are the shell of one! Stick to the plan.”
Jaime sniffed at that. “Some plan. You make me look like a coward, calling on aid like that.”
“I make you look like someone who wants to survive,” Tyrion said, circling to get alongside Jaime once more. “Or should I recount the time you fought Brienne–” He was cut off, though, by a strong hand lifting him out of his saddle.
“What did I tell you about saying that name, brother?” Jaime’s voice was low, and the inflection on “brother” left little doubt how deep family bonds went amongst the two siblings.
“I don’t care what you said,” Tyrion said, not the least fazed by his brother’s posturing. It wasn’t as though Jaime could do anything to him in this position anyway, seeing how his only functioning hand was grasping the hunchback’s leather jerkin. “Cersei hates me enough as it is–the last thing I need is for her to blame me for getting you unnecessarily killed.”
Jaime glared at him for a moment before dumping him onto the ground.
“You always were too clever by half.” Jaime looked off into the distance. “Are the others in place?”
“Of course they are,” Tyrion sneered, not bothering to brush the filth off as he remounted his donkey. “Don’t worry–this is going to work.”
Rand could feel the eyes on him–he didn’t get as far in life as he had not knowing when something wasn’t right. A quick glance around him confirmed this–movement to his left; some breath-steam in the chilly morning air to the right. Behind him, his exposed back tingled with the knowledge that it might soon be decorated with an arrow or knife.
“Do you think your ‘hidden’ companions are really going to help you, Lannister?” he called across the field. “Hells–half of these men would see you dead to begin with, even your so-called ‘friends.’”
“Let us dispense with these pretenses, and at least meet me with the honor I know you possess.”
He threw in that last gibe just to see if he could get a rise from Jaime. But, surprisingly, the knight didn’t even react. He just sat on his horse across the field, with his clown of a brother next to him, astride an ass. Rand found that fitting.
“Do you hear me, Ser? Or does your ridiculous armor not only blind you, but affect your hearing?”
Again, though, no response.
Something isn’t right…
“I know, Tyrion,” Jaime sighed. “I’m not as stupid as you think I am.”
“How’s our dear sister?”
Jaime didn’t respond. He had enough on his mind than to get into another silly argument about Cersei with Tyrion. Didn’t pay to point out that his brother’s obsession with Cersei was nearly as strong as his own.
“Do you think he’s bluffing?” he asked.
“I don’t know–this guy is even wilier than Kvothe was.” Tyrion frowned. “But I don’t think so.”
The arrows came, but Rand didn’t even worry. He couldn’t even see the men Jaime had assembled, but knew enough of the coward that he would have selected the “best” of Westeros: The Mountain that Rides, the Knight of Flowers, Brienne of Tarth, Jon Snow, perhaps even Daenerys and her silly dragons.
None of them concerned him in the slightest.
Whoever had shot the arrows knew little about channeling.
“Arrows fly through the air,” he yelled. “I own the Air.”
The arrows seemed to slow in mid-flight, as if they were trying to bore their way through something thicker and more viscous than air. Their momentum ceased, until, as they approached Rand, they came to a complete stop. He snatched one out of the air, and sniffed the tip.
“More of that foul brother’s twisted mind.” He shook his head, almost in admiration.
“You should flee while you have the chance,” he shouted. “As you can see, I’ve yet to even draw my sword. Perhaps it’s the madness I feel,” he said, grinning, “or perhaps I just know there’s no way you can defeat me.”
“Pompous ass,” Jaime muttered.
“Said the man in the golden armor.”
“I’m getting tired of glaring at you.”
Tyrion smirked. “Shall we proceed?”
The sharp, cracking TWANGS were not that of bow-strings firing arrows. No, this was something bigger, more preposterous…
Is he using catapults against me?
Sure enough, the sky seemed to suddenly darken with boulders coming from all directions. Again, Rand was unconcerned about the threat, but he couldn’t shake the feeling that maybe he was missing something. Nevertheless, he tried a different tactic this time. “Let them see what else I can do.”
Channeling the Earth, he reached into the very essence of the rocks, feeling for what made them boulders. For some, he simply broke down the huge stones into tiny pieces, causing a showering of particulate dirt to cover the field. With others, he opened up gateways, swallowing the boulders only to deliver them onto other catapults. The screams he heard all about told him he had hit his targets. For one, he simply opened a deathgate, thinking the sight of a huge rock being sliced in half in mid-air might make an impression.
As the boulder split, the two halves crashing to either side of him, he knew the impact of those rocks into the ground definitely made an impression.
“I’m growing tired of this, Jaime,” he said, and made his move towards the knight on his horse. “These games are beneath even you.”
“Here he comes.”
“Good… this will finally be over.”
Rand crossed the field, destroying the missiles being sent his way. He wasn’t even annoyed–he was disappointed. Even though he knew it was futile, he would have liked to have faced Westeros’ best– including Jaime. Instead, it seemed obvious that Tyrion had sent that challenge as a diversion, as a way to keep him thinking one thing, while the dwarf attempted another. And, for a spell, it had worked. But even the brilliant Tyrion couldn’t comprehend the One Power, for the hunchback’s was a world without magic, where steel and gold, anger and lies, were the only things that were used to do damage to each other.
I will show them where all those things are born.
Jaime still sat on his horse, up the ways of a small hillock, his brother not straying from his side.
It was clearly a trap.
“Of course he does.”
“The thing of it is, though–it doesn’t matter.”
Rand was no fool–caution here was prudent. Besides, he had no intention of walking up a hill to face a knight on a trained war-horse.
No, he would show them what else he could do, how the womanly subtleties of Tyrion’s machinations were no match for the brute power of saidin.
“I never thought you’d fight this fair,” he called up the hill, “and I have no desire to see what you have in store for me.
“You’ve seen the Air and Earth heed my call. I’m not scared of your games, and I don’t even fear your sword–although it might indeed be interesting to see what us one-handed warriors could do.” His smile was tight.
“But I won’t waste any more time–either mine or yours. Earth and Air could destroy you, but you insist on dancing with dragons.
“Well, here I am.”
Taking a flint and steel from a pouch on his belt, he sparked the parchment that had contained Jaime’s challenge until it caught fire. Harnessing the flame, he smiled.
“Your petty world is built on Ice and Fire. I’ve seen your cold hearts. Perhaps this will melt them,” and he wielded the fire in a wave towards the knight and his deformed brother.
“Nice speech.” Jaime said. “Goodbye, Rand.”
“Wait–you’re not sure?”
“I’m pretty sure…”
The knight didn’t even move as the flame swept towards him, and in that moment, Rand wondered what error he had made. He spun around, realizing that maybe the two figures on the hill weren’t actually Jaime and Tyrion. But if they were merely a distraction, where was the attack going to come from? He could see no one charging. Even the boulders and arrows had stopped. He looked back up the hill. The horse and donkey seemed to be frantic in trying to get away, but still, the two Lannisters held their ground…
“At least prisoners are good for something.”
“I almost feel bad for the animals. But I guess if we didn’t chain their legs to the ground, they’d have just run off…”
“Compassion? From you, Jaime?”
“Here we go…”
The fire washed over whoever was on top of that hill, and the whinnies and brays of terror from the animals almost broke his heart. But Rand held firm, watching as the wall of flames flowed over them like a canoe going through a waterfall, charring the flesh.
Turning to ash the wooden brace that held up the hinged door of a steel wagon just a ways beyond the animals–as well as the young, tongue-less prisoner whose job it was to remove the brace should Rand fail to utilize the Fire.
With the brace gone, the door flung open, and the angled wagon spilled out clay jars down the hill. As they rolled towards Rand, one banged against a rock and burst open.
The green flame was like nothing Rand had ever seen, and as it touched the other jars, they too erupted, a brilliance of emerald fire flowing into the field. It consumed everything.
This is your trap, Tyrion? Fire?
He reached out to take control of the flames…
…and nothing happened.
He called upon the Air to deprive it of oxygen…
…and nothing happened.
He tried to use the Earth to smother it…
…but it was spreading too fast, burning the very soil.
But I am the Dragon Reborn…
“I guess being reborn doesn’t mean you can’t die,” Tyrion said.
They watched from a far away hill as the wildfire consumed not only Rand, but also the soldiers Tyrion had commissioned to shoot arrows and man the catapults
“Ah, well–at least we don’t have to pay them.” He grinned.
“I guess that means I’ve won,” Jaime said. “But what made you think wildfire would work?”
“I figured that he could control natural fire, but not something the Alchemists Guild created. This batch had been aged for centuries, so it was the most volatile concoction in all of Westeros.”
“In the end, though, it was just…a hunch.”
Jaime looked hard at his deformed, twisted brother. Then he burst out laughing.
Predicted Winner: Jaime Lannister
(Rand Al’Thor is a character from Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series, currently written by Brandon Sanderson; Jaime Lannister is a character from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series)
NOTE: THIS MATCH ENDS ON SUNDAY, APRIL 11TH, AT 8 PM, EST