How we think the fight will go
Morrolan e’Drien teleported to the agreed upon location. He had been briefed by his head of security, Vlad Taltos, and had no reason to feel anything but supremely confident.
His first opponent would fall easily. He was some treacherous and deformed Easterner, exiled by his own people. There had been no intelligence on him in months, and last they’d heard he was on the lam after murdering his own father. A wide smirk crossed Morrolan’s mouth as he considered the pleasure he’d take in running this wretched creature through with his great sword, Blackwand. There would be no reviving Tyrion Lannister once he’d removed him of his head.
Vlad has assured him that his first foe would present no difficulty. “It seems almost too easy,” he had warned. “From what we know, he is deformed and weak, possesses no knowledge of sorcery to speak of, no skill, is hundreds of years younger than you and maybe a third of your size. If this isn’t over in less than thirty seconds than you don’t deserve to be a Dragonlord.”
The day was crisp and perfect. The forest had great big trees which sat perfectly undisturbed by cloud or mist or breeze. Ascending the path to meet his “adversary,” Morrolan looked forward to returning to Castle Black and resuming his studies in Witchcraft.
Rounding a corner, Morrolan found Tyrion seated at a table. The chalice he held looked enormous in his small hands. His feet made swishing noises as they kicked the top of the grass, his gnarled, short legs unable to make contact with the ground. And he was ugly. He barely had a nose and what was left more resembled a scab than a human protuberance. The liquid he drank from his cup stained his upper lip red.
“For the love of The Seven!” exclaimed Tyrion Lannister. He swiveled his little hips on the bench, Dornish Red spilling over the rim as he squared himself to Morrolan. “Look at you! This is too perfect. I don’t know why they didn’t match me against someone a bit taller, just to make things good and fair! By the gods, you’re larger than The Mountain!”
“I am a Dragonlord.”
Tyrion eyed him closely, looking Morrolan up and down. “Bahhh. Another Dragon impostor. Your hair isn’t blonde and your eyes aren’t purple.”
“And even if you were, my family has dealt with that kind before!”
“You’re no Targarayen!”
“A Targarywho? What is this gibberish you speak?”
Tyrion laughed heartily. “Humblest apologies. I was having some fun at your expense. Us Dwarfs must take our amusements as we can. Care for some wine?” asked Tyrion, extending his own cup? “Come on! This is the good stuff! Plus, I’ve dosed it with enough poison to kill a mule.”
Morrolan’s expression grew dark and he withdrew Blackwand from its scabbard.
“Oh don’t get your undergarments in a bunch! It’s not like you’re the crippled dwarf who is about to die,” said Tyrion as he took another long swig from his cup.
“You’re a vile little thing. Even if you were revevifiable when I’m through, I doubt there would be anyone who cared enough to make the effort.”
“No, no. I imagine not. No father. No mother. No sibling that is particularly eager to see me alive. All I can hope is that one of the whores I’ve frequented along the way will shed a tear, if not for the loss of their handsome companion than at least for the financial hardship they are sure to endure without my patronage. Here’s to them!” Another large gulp. He swayed slightly on his perch, legs kicking in the air to retain his balance. Tyrion’s expression turned grave. “For all your height and apparent grace, you aren’t such a sight yourself. Your ears are almost as attractive as my nose.”
Morrolan snickered, but as confident as he was…something felt wrong. ”You seem very comfortable with a permanent death, little one.”
“Yes, well, where I’m from, the vast majority of deaths are permanent. And while you and I have been having a gloriously witty exchange, I must reveal to you that I don’t actually plan to die today.”
Tyrion snapped his fingers. Nothing happened. He snapped again several times and grew visibly annoyed. “Brown Ben Plumm, you idiot!” croaked Tyrion. “Bring him out!”
At that, several shapes emerged from the tree line just off the path to the right of the bench. At once, Morrolan recognized Vlad Taltos. Moreover, there was no mistaking the weapon being held to his throat: A Morganti Blade.
“What is the meaning of this?” roared Morrolan as he stepped forward raising Blackwand into the air menacingly. “Release him now or I will dismember every last one of you.”
Morrolan concentrated and tried to connect with the Orb, so that he may use his sorcery if needed. But his connection was blocked – the dwarf must have hired someone put up a preventative ward. He roared again in frustration.
“Relax, friend,” droaned Tyrion, bored with Morrolan’s display of aggression. “This can be so incredibly simple. All I want is to live. Give me your oath that you won’t hack me to death with that awful looking blade and I will happily return your friend.”
Morrolan’s eyes shifted from Vlad back to Tyrion. Something didn’t feel right. He made eye contact with Vlad and all he received in return was an apologetic shrug. Morrolan looked back at the dwarf. “These were not the agreed upon rules…”
“Rules!” laughed Tyrion. “Rules. In Westeroes, winning is what counts and following the rules are for dead men. You see my…lengthy friend, while I am far from your equal in swordsmanship or strength, I am quite adept in the art of survival.”
“And what’s to stop me from hacking you all to the death the moment you move those blades? An oath? We aren’t playing by the rules, remember?”
“A good question. I think the..,” Tyrion paused, appearing pensive. “Brown Ben Plumm, how many are there again?” he asked, holding up four fingers. “No—five? Six? Oh good, good. I think the 600 Seven Sons standing in the forest behind us should act as an adequate deterrent. He nodded to Brown Ben, who shouted a loud call in the direction of the forest.
A cacophony of war cries sounded back, so loud they could only have come from hundreds of men. Six hundred was believable. Morrolan wasn’t often caught off guard and he didn’t quite enjoy the sensation. He took a moment to calm himself. He could no longer allow this dwarf to throw him off balance.
“You brought an army? I should be honored. That’s a good 200 more than you would need to defeat me. From what we’d learned,” said Morrolan, eyeing Vlad angrily, “I didn’t think you capable of anything like…this.”
“Unfortunately for you, your timing is poor. Had this match occurred three weeks ago, I’m sure my decapitated head would have long since rolled down that hill. However, as it currently stands I’m far more valuable to the Second Sons alive than I am dead. Haven’t you been listening, friend? I am a survivor.” Tyrion clinked cups with the air.
“Alright, dwarf. You have my oath. Now release him and be on your way. My patience for this masquerade is nearly as thin as the air in this forest.”
The mercenaries released Vlad and shoved him toward Morrolan. The guards dropped the Morganti weapons and turned back into the forest. Vlad reached to the ground to secure one of the daggers. He turned menacingly but made no move to strike at his former captor. He looked toward Morrolan, who shook his head vigorously.
“What happened?” he asked. “Are you harmed?”
“No,” replied Vlad, “I am fine. I was ambushed outside of Castle Black. I was worried they had Aliera too…”
Morrolan turned to look at Tyrion, just catching sight of him as he disappeared into the forest. No gloating? No final, cutting witticism? It seemed uncharacteristic.
And just as a sensation struck him—the feeling that something was just not right—a blade entered his rib cage, just under his left armpit. Vlad wrapped his left arm around Morrolan in an embrace, bringing him closer to the pommel of the Morganti dagger.
Blackwand dropped from Morrolan’s hand and he could feel the Morganti magic devouring his soul. Though he was too weak to say it, his pleading eyes asked Vlad Why?
Tyrion Lannister emerged from the thick curtain of trees.
“Is he gone yet? Is it safe?”
“It’s safe, Imp,” replied Vlad. “Now uphold your end of the bargain. Give me Cawti. Return her to me now and let’s be done with this. ” He looked at Morrolan’s lifeless body and a look of grief swept over his face.
“First time murdering a loved one? You’ll be surprised how fast you recover.” The look in Vlad’s eyes said this wasn’t a topic Tyrion should pursue, so he hastily continued.
“Thank you for your services. Your terms of the condition have been met.” He signaled to the forest and Brown Ben Plumm emerged, holding Cawti by the back of her shirt. He pushed her roughly into the clearing.
At first seeing Vlad’s face, Cawti’s expression was painted with joy. Yet it took only a few extra moments for her to digest the full scene laid before her—Morrolan’s dead body and Vlad standing over him, a Morganti blade in his hand and covered in blood.
“Vlad, what have you done?”
“I couldn’t let them kill you. What was I to do? There was no other choice,”
“Well,” interrupted Tyrion, “I’m sure you two have much to discuss and while it pains me to leave your company, I must be on my way. I have another match to prepare for and the next contender is likely to require at least as much cunning to defeat as that last bag of wind. Off we go Brown Ben. Let’s go see about those Dragons…”
Greg Kubie contributed to this Cage Match
Predicted Winner: Tyrion
NOTE: THIS MATCH ENDS ON THURSDAY, MARCH 8th, 2012, AT 5 PM, EST
Morrolan image courtesy of Ace Books. Tyrion image courtesy of Larry Rostant and Bantam Books
Cage Match fans: We are looking forward to hearing your responses! If possible, please abstain from including potential spoilers about the books in your comments (and if you need spoilers to make your case, start your comments with: “SPOILER ALERT!”