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As the first light of dawn broke, the Joust of Love commenced at the Tourney Grounds. A mystery knight in sable, calling himself the Black Lion and bearing the golden cloth favor of Lady Kellyn Lannister, rode out to make the first challenge of the day, Ser Almer Connington of Griffin’s Roost. The first day’s champion, who wore the ivory and pearl sandsilk favor of Lady Keira Sand, accepted the mystery knight’s challenge. Their confrontation was sudden and violent, and as the Griffin Knight’s lance shattered, the Black Lion was ripped from the saddle. The crowd saw the Black Lion rise, however, and the two knights exchange courteous words after, with Ser Almer saluting both Keira and Kellyn.
Prince Cadan Martell of Dorne, bearing a mysterious blue and white favor, then challenged the young lancer Seth Blackwood, who wore the favor of Lady Marian Stark. After saluting each other courteously, the two riders clashed. Though bruised from earlier matches, Prince Cadan seemed to get the better of the first pass, though the Blackwood held his seat with skill, and both broke lances. On their second pass, Seth delivered a strong blow to the Prince, breaking a second lance and unhorsing the Martell. Both men were cheered for their good showing.
Following this victory, Seth Blackwood courteously challenged Ser Almer Connington to a tilt, and the Griffin accepted the lancer’s challenge with equal courtesy. The two riders faced off, and whilst both broke lances, Seth was knocked from the saddle by the knight. Already battered from previous jousts, Seth fell hard, though he was aided in rising by Ser Almer, who clearly admired the man’s courage. They exchanged more courteous words, to the crowd’s pleasure, and once again the Connington saluted both his lady and the lady of his opponent.
Cadan next challenged the Black Lion, though both knights appeared to be the worse for wear after their previous tilts. Though both shattered their lances, the mystery knight was hammered from the saddle by the Prince, and this time he lay unmoving. After a time, several Lannister retainers were forced to remove the Black Lion on a gurney, much to the alarm of the Lady Kellyn and other ladies in the stands.
Prince Cadan Martell then challenged Ser Almer Connington. The Prince cracked a lance, but the Griffin shattered his, and the Martell was struck from the saddle as if by a hammerblow, tumbling to the hard earth. The crowd cheered the bout, and the Stormlanders in particular, who seemed to savor the win as revenge for the Prince’s prior defeat of their Stormbreaker. Ser Almer, concerned, dismounted to help the senseless Prince up; he was politely rebuffed, however, and Dornish attendants helped Cadan back to his pavilion.
With all immediate challengers vanquished, Ser Almer prepared to retire from the field, until a latecomer, Ser Bonifer Buckwell of the Antlers, who bore the favor of Lady Elyn Ryswell, issued a challenge to his cousin. Ser Almer, who by virtue of his victory on the first day was precluded from winning the Joust of Love, nevertheless accepted. On the first pass Ser Bonifer broke a lance, whilst Ser Almer shattered his, and Ser Bonifer held his seat, the first knight of the tourney to survive a pass with the Griffin! The crowd erupted, and Ser Almer, in deference to the Buckwell’s feat, gallantly forfeited, leaving Ser Bonifer in possession of the field!
Other contests ensued, including that between Ser Osbert Bettley, the Breaker of Yronwood, against the mysterious Weeping Knight. Known for his fierceness in battle, Ser Osbert was unhorsed by the mysterious, unknown knight. And then, it was noticed that without much fanfare, the Jousting Lord had been industriously challenging knights, particularly when he put Ser Bonifer Buckwell to the challenge, and promptly unhorsed him; it seemed Lord Whalon Rosby had determined to perform a feat of arms, namely outdoing Ser Jace Rollingford’s mark of twenty-five jousts. It was noted by many that Rollingford was thirty years Rosby’s junior, yet that did not seem to tell with him. From Buckwell, he challenged the Weeping Knight, who unhorsed him after three well-fought passes, In the meantime, Seth Blackwood challenge Ser Bonifer Buckwell, and was unhorsed by a hammerblow that rendered him incapable of challenging further. After all the wounds he had taken in previous jousts, the onlookers were amazed he managed so many challenges, giving his best on behalf of Lady Marian.
And then some harsh words, and it became less of a matter of love, as the Black Lion—having returned much refreshed from his earlier defeats—spoke crudely to him when Rosby challenged him. Alas, the mystery knight defeated Lord Whalon in the first course, but the old lord gamely got up again to take a rest and then find some new foes as he climbed towards the mark he was aiming for. And then there was the matter of Ser Dagur Saltcliffe, who in being insulted with crude remarks regarding his lady set out to defeat all the foes he could. Great knights were challenged—Ser Osbert, defeated; the Black Lion, after a pair of courses, also defeated; Lord Whalon, defeated in a course, and still the ironman sought to assuage his rage. Next he set his eyes on the Weeping Knight ... and was unhorsed in the first pass, dampening his rage.
Others still jousted, from Ser Bonifer trading two courses with Triston Templeton until the young Vale knight defeated him. At this point, arriving quite late in the day, Ser Aidan Dayne, the Knight of the Twilight, appeared with the Lady Aisling Ryswell leading his horse behind her. About his arm was a favor, clearly belonging to the lady, and curiosity was aroused from some—not least her step-sister Sylvina, and her bastard uncle Henly Snow. Ser Aidan promptly declared himself, offering to joust any man who wished to challenge him for love of his lady, but none took him up on that. He also declared a feat of arms that he wished to pursue, to joust no more than three courses with each knight who had defeated him in the previous days. The first to satisfy the Dornishman was Ser Almer Connington, and the two knights showed great prowess as they rode three courses to no result. Even as this joust began, Prince Aemon the Dragonknight, who had not armed as if to take part, proceeded to do so—likely to chivalrously assist Ser Aidan in completing his feat of arms.
But all this would be overshadowed by Ser Bonifer Buckwell’s challenge of the Weeping Knight, who was unhorsed in the first course. Buckwell dismounted and drew his sword, but left it up to his lady, Elyn Ryswell, to determine what he should do—force him to unmask, let him keep his identity, or give the mystery knight the chance to fight on on foot. Elyn, proud of her would-be suitor and eager to see him gain renown, had the two knights cross swords. For long they seemed well matched, and all the while other knights still jousted, beginning with Prince Cadan’s challenge of the Dragonknight, who promptly unhorsed him.
Another late arrival, appearing with great pomp and pageantry, was Prince Aegon, bearing the favor of his mistress, Cassella Vaith. Soon there was a challenge with Ser Victor Reyne, which proved a hard fought match until the Targaryen prince managed to unhorse him after several courses. And then Whalon Rosby followed Victor, challenging the Targaryen prince, giving him the honor of being his twenty-sixth challenge. The crowd cheered the Jousting Lord as he gave the younger man a hard fought match lasting four courses with six lances broken between. Lord Whalon lost a tooth in his fall, and needed help from three men to get off from the field, but he grinned to the crowd and won their approval.
And then the crowd had more reason to roar, as Ser Bonifer lost his helm to the Weeping Knight’s blows, and seemed to be in danger not only of losing, but of real harm. The swordsmen continued, fighting for glory, as others jousted, with the Martell prince reentering the lists to challenge and defeat Ser Triston, and then challenging Prince Aegon. Many cheered for Aegon, only to see him overthrown by the jubilant Prince Cadan. Nearly at this same moment, Ser Bonifer rally and defeated the Weeping Knight with a marvellous blow that felled him and dented his mask. When the knight at last removed it, he revealed who he was for all to see: Ser Ardon Tyrell, a knight of renown. The crowd was pleased, and Buckwell covered himself in glory for finally unmasking the Mystery Knight.
The last joust of the day, before the voting, was between Ser Aidan and Prince Aemon. With Templeton busied with other contests, and Gueren Waters and Lord Manfred Dondarrion not taking part, Ser Aidan’s feat of arms was doomed to failure, but the joust against the Dragonknight would not soon be forgotten. Three times the knights challenged one another, and six times did they break their lances, shattering them with tremendous force, a rare show of skill and nerve. The crowd approved, even if a Dornishman was involved, while the ladies of the court began to determine which knight was the winner of the day. When it proved to be the absent Seth Blackwood, who had recovered from his many wounds and required convalescence, there was general approval of the choice—his endurance of pain and suffering, and boundless courage, was right and proper for the victor of the day.
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