Peril at Kings Landing
Companion and committed friend of Jerick Teamus
Jerick Teamus was a well-natured and attractive boy who enjoyed roughhousing, hunting, and wrestling with his younger second cousin Jolvan Teamus, now lord of House Teamus. The two of them were nearly inseparable during their younger years and could often be seen running through the woods and hunting squirrels and small game while their fathers and uncles were away hunting larger game in the north and in the First Men Mountains. Jerick always seemed to be able to able to convince Jolvan to go farther and be more bold than he would have liked, often getting them into trouble. But Jerick always managed to convince others that they were merely “young boys in search of adventure and glory.” Even the townsfolk knew that Jerick had a gift to get away with almost anything and that his charm and scheming would one day get them into trouble.
Often, they would stay far from their home in Edgeguard to explore and “go on an adventure,” as they would put it. At times, they would be gone for several days at a time fishing and enjoying the summer months of the north. They soon found an abandoned cave in which they would make the “command post” for many of their adventures. On one such adventure, Jerick was climbing through the cave, slipped on a mossy rock and fell nearly 20 feet to a rocky landing. Miraculously, he was relatively unharmed except for the “C” shaped laceration that scarred the back of his left shoulder. They often joked how the “C” was carved by clansmen to brand Jerick as an honorary member of the clan. Since that experience, though, Jerick always took more caution when stepping into caves or darkened areas, and the fear of falling often woke him from sleep.
Their elders would constantly warn them of the dangers (vicious animals, brigands, clansmen, and worse…the Boltons), that lay in wait, far from the safety of the town. However, being young as they were – Jerick, 15 and Jolvan, 8 – and indestructible as many adolescents believed they were, they gave little heed to those “nonsense” warnings. They waited the next few weeks for their fathers and uncles to leave on the next hunting excursion so they could leave on their own adventure. At last, the time had come for them to make what would be their most daring adventure yet. They set off toward Bolton territory. They had elaborated a plan in which they would spy on and hunt “Bolton rot” to prove that Boltons were encroaching on Teamus land. Of course, they were merely going to head toward Bolton territory and come back, but the adventure needed some “elaboration.”
As night fell upon them on the second day of their adventure, Jolvan seemed agitated and nervous as if he knew something terrible was going to happen. Jolvan was right. When the sun finally went down, they were seized by at least a dozen men, hardened from the cold, war, and lawlessness. Undoubtedly, these men were Bolton criminals who roamed the outskirts of Teamus and Bolton land preying on unsuspecting travelers, robbing them of their possessions and leaving them for dead or selling them to the illegal slave traders of Astapor. The two of them were beaten for information (of which they gave none) and were held captive, bound by lashings, as their captors took them to be sold into slavery. The men were cruel and merciless.
Jerick observed their actions and mannerisms; he noticed that one was particularly naïve and easily coerced, almost a halfwit so Jerick thought. Jerick could talk his way out of anything. It took a matter of minutes to convince the “halfwit” that their fathers’ hunting party was merely a quarter of a day’s ride behind them and that if they were caught, they would be slaughtered and be used as bait for bears and other wild animals. The halfwit relented and unbound Jolvan first. Jerick told Jolvan he needed to run as fast as he could and that he would follow him as soon as he was released. Jolvan sprinted out of sight. Jerick knew there was no doubt Jolvan wouldn’t stop running until morning. As the halfwit was undoing Jerick’s lashings, another Bolton criminal, the leader of the group, clobbered the brigand in the ear, stunning him. The criminal seized Jerick and beat him so brutally that his memories of the following days’ events are still lost to him.
When he finally awoke, he was in a room filled with strange items of copper, silver, and gilded furniture. A dark woman, elderly yet kind, tended to his swollen face. She spoke to him in a language he had only heard travelers use… most likely Valyrian. Within a couple of weeks his wounds healed, and he was put into service in the home of his new master cleaning and tending to visitors. He was a slave, sold in the black market of Astapor and put in some aristocratic slave owner’s home. It was months before his master even acknowledged him. But something eventually caught his master’s eye. The boy was unusually handsome and seemed to be well-liked by the other servants. Soon he was elevated to serve as the errand boy for the master’s harem. The boy would serve the harem mistresses by shopping, carrying goods, and doing all their lifting. He managed, while in their service, to learn Valyrian and charm many of the women of the house. He was favored by his master; as such, he was rarely mistreated. Soon, his youthful athleticism diminished and he became more sedentary. He became less interested in hunting and adventure and became more adept in persuasion and at times…coercion.
His life as a slave was not as he had imagined it would be. He actually grew to appreciate and revere his master’s wealth and power. Yet, he knew he did not belong in the service of this man and that his heart still yearned for freedom. Even after fifteen years as a slave, and the hundreds of mistresses he served, he knew he must escape.
However, escape was impossible. The house was guarded by men who seemed to be trained by the Unsullied. They were cruel, immovable, and would cut him to ribbons if he tried to escape. He would have to wait to plan his escape.
Five more years passed and fate, or the Seven, or the Old Gods (Jerick didn’t know anymore) finally intervened. A bastard slave came into his master’s service: Eckhard Stone. When Jerick first saw him, he was awestruck at the boy’s immense stature, towering six and half feet tall with hulking, calloused fists. Eckhard stood straight and tall. His muscle and sinew were like steel bands that surrounded his body. The boy was purchased for only one reason…to fight in the Astapori pits. The fighting pits reeked of death, like a soured slaughterhouse where the rot came from men, not swine or cattle. Jerick knew that the boy would soon meet his demise against more seasoned champions and was saddened that the boy’s life would soon end violently.
At last, the day came for Eckhard to step into the pits. The crowd booed and hissed at the boy as he entered. They knew he was there to die, purchased to appease the people’s lust for death. He was given a gnarled sword and bloodstained buckler (the blood most likely came from the previous combatant). The champion entered the pit and the crowd howled like wolves, hungry for destruction. Eckhard Stone stood like a statue as he watched his opponent dance a waltz choreographed by death. The gladiator approached and slashed at the boy. Eckhard’s buckler smashed to splinters as the sword’s blow landed square in the middle. The boy dropped the sword, and the crowd roared as if they were lions ready to devour their prey. They believed the boy was defeated and was giving in to the gladiator’s sword. The champion laughed and raised his sword. The boy did not budge. As the sword fell, Stone dropped to the red dirt of the Astapori pit and planted his fist square on the champion’s shin. The shin wobbled and shivered like silk blowing in the wind. Eckhard drew up quickly behind the man and clapped his open palms directly over the ears of the champion, shattering the eardrums. The clamor of the crowd was gone. The gladiator lay dazed on the dirt, unaware of what had just transpired. Eckhard pounced and, with Valyrian steel fists hardened by years of cruelty, smashed each blow into the gladiator’s face. Relentless, he drove each fist further and further into the man’s head until there was nothing but a meaty sop of blood, brain, and splinters of bone in the now muddied soil. The gladiator lay decapitated, not by steel but by flesh. The only sound was the gurgle of blood and escaping air that exited the headless neck of the gladiator’s now lifeless corpse.
Jerick’s stomach curdled at the horror this brawler had displayed. Fear crept into him as he flashed memories of his captivity some twenty years ago.
Eckhard stood and faced his captor, his body covered and dripping with another man’s blood and viscera. The master of the house was pleased with his unexpected champion. He had Eckhard escorted out of the arena and taken back to the slave quarters in his home. The master beckoned Jerick to come. Jerick promptly obeyed. He was ordered to go to the slave quarters and communicate the master’s desires to the new champion.
Jerick arrived and had everyone removed from the quarters, leaving only the two of them in the room. Jerick felt no fear as he approached the boy. Eckhard sat on the meager slave bed (a simple burlap sack filled with old hay), motionless, as Jerick approached. Jerick spoke in common tongue to the boy and explained that he was not there to injure the boy. Until this time the boy had been mute. His head raised and his eyes welled with tears. Jerick put his arm around him and let him know that he would be okay. The boy explained that he had been bought and sold into slavery several times and had been trained by fighters and brawlers from the Iron Isles to Dorne, and now to the Free Cities. He had even been captive in one household where he was trained to fight by an Unsullied. From the time he was four, all he knew was fighting and the pits. His last master whipped him and sold him when he refused to fight. Eckhard spoke to Jerick for hours. When dawn broke, the two were fast friends. They shared stories of their captivity and what they remembered of their youth. Eckhard’s memories were distant and had very little recollection of his early childhood or freedom, yet his heart yearned for a new life free from slavery and cruelty. Jerick, however, remembered freedom. Eckhard swore an oath to Jerick that if he could help him gain his freedom, he would remain loyal to him until his life ended. For months they devised a plan to escape.
Eckhard continued to fight and win in the pits, and Jerick served the harem. The gold poured in as people came to see the brawling wonder. At times he would lose, but most of the time he beat his opponents into submission or death. After some time, the master of the house purchased some strange animals from across the sea…shadowcats. Eckhard became instantly attached to one of the male cats, and the cat reciprocated its loyalty. He named it Dax.
The time of the annual tournament had arrived. Thousands of people and slave owners arrived to buy, sell, and trade slaves. The streets were filled with revelry and debauchery. Jerick knew that this would be the time to escape. He and Eckhard waited patiently as the time of the tournament was at hand. The house was filled with guests and, more importantly, liquor. Strong Myrish liquor flowed like water as the guests imbibed generously. Jerick charmed many of the guests, and they believed that he was a member of the house’s court. “So easy,” he thought as he deceived them. Jerick moved swiftly as he pilfered the guest’s luggage for garb suitable to disguise himself and Eckhard so they could execute their escape. Finally the time was at hand. He had lifted enough clothing to adequately cover himself and Eckhard. Some of the guests insisted that the charming man ride with them to the tournament. The charming man consented, if only his body guard could ride with them. Of course they agreed. Eckhard arrived late and explained that he was attending to a few remaining tasks (namely freeing his shadowcat to allow it to sneak behind the troupe via the alleyways). They rode to the tournament in luxury. A few blocks before the arena, Jerick asked them to stop so he could pick up some trinkets at the market for his harem. Again they consented. He beckoned them to move ahead, saying they would catch up in a few minutes. The group agreed and left, as they did not want to miss the beginning of the tournament and the brawling sensation. When the troupe was out of site, the two ran for the docks. Arriving, they noticed the docks were all but empty. Everyone was at the arena and the docks were lifeless. The two made their way onto a ship bound for King’s Landing. As they dropped below the deck, there stood a man cloaked in the corner. Eckhard immediately poised for battle. The man stepped from the shadows and revealed himself. It was the master of the house. Jerick was petrified. He was caught and was going to be executed for running away. Their master stared at him. Dax silently stealthed into the ship’s cabin.
Their master spoke in common tongue; this was the first time Jerick had ever heard him speak any other language except Valyrian, “Call off the cat, Eckhard. There is no need for blood here.”
“Why should we?” whispered Jerick nervously.
The master paused a moment and looked up at the two with a clever smile, “You have served my household for nearly 20 years, without a complaint and without guile. Never has any slave served my house as you have; as such, you have earned your freedom. As for Eckhard, I could not stand to see him slaughtered in this tournament as he has made me very rich.”
“Several other slave owners have conspired together to purchase and disguise Unsullied to kill him. I cannot let that happen. The arena is dark at the tournament this evening, and no one will recognize it’s not him. The other will fight…and die in his place.” He paused. “I have paid a hefty price for you to make it to King’s Landing safely. Pray to your gods that Teamus can finally find his way home.”
Jerick had not heard that name in twenty years, as he had kept it a secret from everyone. “How did you know?” he asked. The master of the house simply smiled and turned and walked away. Jerick and Eckhard stood in bewilderment for a moment and ran to the top deck. The master was gone, and the ship’s captain stepped forward. “Shall we push off?” he asked
“Yes,” Jerick said solemnly.
At the sound of the captain’s whistle, the ship’s quarters emptied and sailors sprung to action. Within minutes the ship had cleared the bay and was out of sight of the mainland. The captain invited Jerick and Eckhard into his quarter where they supped and spoke of knights, heraldry, and the comings and goings of King’s Landing. The journey across the sea seemed to fly by as if it were a dream. Within a matter of days, Jerick and Eckhard were in King’s Landing. They procured a room and rested a few weeks, enjoying the freedom they had forgotten over many years of enslavement. When the time had come, Jerick and his loyal companion journeyed north to Breakeven. Westeros was colder and more dangerous than Jerick remembered. Their journey north was ambushed three times, each time ending in broken bones and death to the attackers as Eckhard laid waste to them.
At last, they arrived in Breakeven. Jerick had been gone for nearly 22 years. When he was kidnapped, he was merely a young man of 15; now he was 37 and completely changed. Nobody recognized him. He begged audience with the Lord Teamus, and after several weeks in Breakeven, he was finally granted his request. He arrived to speak with Lord Jolvan and asked him what had happened to his cousin and friend Jerick. Jolvan bowed his head and stated that he had died while saving his life. Jerick knelt before Lord Jolvan and removed his shirt and exposed the scar on his left shoulder. Jolvan stood in amazement. He pulled Jerick to his feet and embraced his long-lost cousin without saying any words.
It has been three years now since Jerick returned to Breakeven, enjoying his freedom, family, and the companionship of his loyal friend Eckhard Stone and Dax.