He lay in his luxurious tent, unable to sleep. It had been a long day full of close calls and landslide victories, but he made it. Tomorrow he would face Prince Duncan the Small in the final round of the tournament.
Barristan the Bold had always done fairly well in the dozen or so tournaments he had competed in over the last six years, but this is the first time he made it all the way to the finals. The excitement and nervousness of it all had turned his stomach into knots. He rolled over and sighed heavily into a pillow.
I’ve gotten this far. Can’t mess It up now.
After many restless hours, he managed to fall asleep and woke up just after dawn. He was sitting on the edge of his bed when one of his attendants entered the tent.
“The knights and other competitors have gathered in the King’s pavilion to break their fast, m’lord.”
“Thank you. I’ll be there shortly,” Barristan replied still half asleep as he slowly walked over to a dish of cold water and splashed some on his face. A few minutes later he walked out of his tent and started heading towards the King’s pavilion.
Lords and knights alike were sitting around a large wooden table; eating and discussing the day’s events. None of them, except Duncan Targaryen, seemed to notice as Barristan walked in and took the only available seat next to the prince. A servant placed a cup of wine and a plate in front of him and briskly walked off. Duncan turned slightly towards Barristan and said, “Looking forward to today?”
“I’m looking forward to repaying the kindness you did me six years ago. Only this time it will be you on the ground.”
The Targaryen prince laughed. “As bold as ever, young Selmy. You’ve come a long way since that tournament in Blackhaven. Perhaps you might actually stand a chance now.” Barristan knew that the prince was only jesting, so he chuckled and continued eating. Half an hour later everyone had gone back to their tents to prepare for the remaining competitions. The grand melee was up in an hour, the archery contest soon after that, and lastly the final match of the jousting tournament. Many had witnessed and even more had heard about the first time The Bold and The Small competed against each other six years past and this rematch was sure to be even more exciting. Barristan had already unhorsed the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, which was no minor feat.
King Aegon V took his seat on the dais surrounded by high lords and ladies. The crowds cheered as the heralds introduced Barristan and Duncan. Each man went to his own side of the jousting field and started to prepare for the first tilt. The colors of House Selmy flapped wildly throughout the stadium. The young knight-to-be had become a fan favorite in the jousting scene. Barristan showed great promise and he would only get better over the years, but his greatest challenge to date was only mere moments away. He had become accustomed to the nerves of competition and began fidgeting with the bindings on his gauntlets to clear his mind.
Trumpets sounded and both horses raced towards each other; their riders steadily aiming long wooden lances at the other’s chest. The hush of the crowd was instantly interrupted as both men struck their target and splinters of wood went flying across the arena. They exchanged heated glances as they rode by each other.
This isn’t going to be easy… Barristan thought to himself. …but I refuse to lose to him a second time.
The next pass didn’t fair so well. Barristan’s grip on the lance faltered at the last second and caused him to hit Duncan but the lance glanced off to the side, while he was squarely caught on the right breast. The sudden jolt almost caused him to lose his balance, but he managed to hold onto the reins and stay on the horse, but only just.
I’m down two lances to one…and Duncan rarely misses. Going for his helm is too risky and a break won’t be enough. I have to unhorse him.
He kicked his horse into motion for what was sure to be the last tilt of the tourney. It was all or nothing. One last chance to prove his worth in front of all the important people in the kingdom. Barristan gripped his lance as hard as he could and put all his might behind the strike. It caught Duncan in the center of his chest. The force of the impact caused the lance to shatter all the way up to the handle and sent the Targaryen prince reeling off his destrier; landing on the dirt with a hard crash.
Everybody was on their feet cheering for the new champion as Barristan removed his helm and dismounted his horse near Duncan, who was struggling to get up. He extended his hand to the fallen prince with a sly grin. Duncan accepted the help and got back to his feet. Neither of them noticed King Aegon V making his way off the dais and walking towards them. It became eerily quiet throughout the entire arena as everybody witnessed the king mutter something, unsheathe his sword, and Barristan bending down on one knee. Nobody was quite sure what was going on.
“Barristan Selmy! You have bested the Lord Commander of mine own Kingsguard, and my son as well,” proclaimed the king for all to hear. “Your prowess in the field and your deeds as Lord Swann’s squire have not gone unnoticed these last couple years.” The king touched the flat side of the Valyrian steel blade on both of his shoulders. “Rise! Ser Barristan the Bold!” Prince Duncan helped the newly appointed knight to his feet with a smile.
I’m finally a knight…I’ve waited my whole life for this. Now what?