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Jaime Lannister: "Threaten? As in, "I'm going to open your lord from balls to brains and see what Starks are made of"?"
Eddard Stark: "You kill me, your brother's a dead man."
Jaime Lannister: "You're right. Take him alive. Kill his men."
Eddard Stark spars with Jaime Lannister, mere moments before their duel.[src]
The skirmish at Littlefinger's brothel was an ambush on Eddard Stark and his small retinue, led by Ser Jaime Lannister to demand the release of Tyrion Lannister from Stark captivity.

History

Background

Under suspicion of attempting to murder Bran Stark, Tyrion is captured by Catelyn Stark and taken to the Eyrie. Jaime retaliates by cornering Ned Stark outside the brothel with several Lannister soldiers at his back.

Jaime demands Tyrion's release, even though Eddard does not have Tyrion in his possession but Catelyn does; Ned falsely cites that Tyrion was captured at his command, to answer for his alleged crimes, thus escalating the situation. Impatient, Jaime draws his sword and advises Littlefinger to flee before a fight begins, to which the latter obliges while promising to bring the City Watch to the battleground. Jaime arrogantly challenges Ned to fight him man-to-man, which provokes Jory Cassel to defend his liege lord. Jaime silences Jory by threatening violence against Ned, to which Ned suggests Tyrion's potential doom if Ned were killed. Jaime acknowledges this, before ordering his men to slaughter the Stark guards and take Ned alive.

The skirmish

Two of the Lannister spearmen throw their spears at Wyl and Heward, killing them instantly. A violent brawl breaks out. Ned cuts down several of the red cloaks. Jory breaks through the guards and faces Jaime, and the latter kills him by driving a dirk into his eye. Horrified at how Jaime cold-bloodedly killed Jory, Ned confronts Jaime, who silently challenges Ned once more. Ned attacks Jaime, and the two men duel ferociously, proven to be evenly matched (much to Jaime's alarm, and later delight).

Seeing that Ned is a match for Jaime, a Lannister guard intervenes and stabs the Northener in the back of the leg with a spear, abruptly ending the combat. Ned is brought down by the attack, but Jaime is angered and knocks the guard out with his sword, before mounting his horse, repeating his demand of Tyrion's release, and then riding away from the collapsing Ned and the multiple corpses that had been caused by the skirmish.[1]

Aftermath

This is one of the minor events which heightened the already existing tension between the Starks and the Lannisters, eventually sparking into the War of the Five Kings. Ned is reinstated as Hand of the King to King Robert, and continues his investigation about the incestuous relationship between Cersei and Jaime, as well as the death of Jon Arryn.

Robert should have used his authority to put an end to the mutual hostilities between the Starks and Lannisters, before the situation gets out of control; instead, he just orders Ned (not very firmly) to have Tyrion released and to make peace with Jaime, then leaves the capital for his entertainments. Ned ignores Robert's orders. Soon the Lannisters perform their next retaliatory action, which costs much more casualties.[2]

Several years afterwards, when Jaime stands before Daenerys and the Starks, Sansa says that they cannot trust him since he tried to destroy her house and her family, specifically referring to the aforementioned skirmish.[3]

In the books

In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, the background and aftermath of the encounter are about the same, but the brawl is significantly different than in the series:

  • Ned and his guards are on horseback, and are away from the brothel when confronted by the Lannisters.
  • The scene takes place at night, when the heavy rain is falling.
  • Jaime wants only to frighten Ned and orders his men to kill the Stark guards as a punishment; he does not order them to capture Ned.
  • Jaime does not take part in the brawl, but leaves before it begins.
  • Ned does not duel with Jaime, and is not injured by a Lannister guard; instead, his wounded horse falls on him, shattering his leg.
  • It is unknown who killed Jory.
  • Wyl is not speared; instead, the Lannister guardsmen pull him off his horse and kill him with swords.
  • Four Lannister guards are killed in the brawl; Tregar, the captain of the Lannister guards, is injured by Ned and dies five days afterwards.

In "A Storm of Swords", it is revealed that Jaime's retaliatory action inadvertently interfered with his father's plan: by sending the Mountain to raid the Riverlands, Tywin hoped Ned would lead the force, and planned an ambush, so he could obtain a hostage to trade for Tyrion. However, since Ned's leg was broken in the skirmish, he could not lead the detachment himself, and assigned Beric Dondarrion instead. 

References

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