- "Lord Tyrion, you are accused of hiring a man to slay my son Bran in his bed, and of conspiring to murder my sister's husband, Lord Jon Arryn, the Hand of the King"
- ―Lady Catelyn Stark
The First Trial by Combat of Tyrion Lannister is a key event in the build-up to the War of the Five Kings. Tyrion is taken prisoner by Lady Catelyn Stark and her sister Lysa Arryn, who accuse him of the attempted murder of Bran Stark and the murder of Jon Arryn. Tyrion is ultimately acquitted after a trial by combat, in which Bronn champions for him. In retaliation for Tyrion's kidnapping, his father Tywin Lannister invades the Riverlands, effectively triggering war with the Starks and Tullys.
En route back to King's Landing following a visit to The Wall and Winterfell, Tyrion and Yoren stop at the Crossroads Inn in the Riverlands. Catelyn Stark and Ser Rodrik Cassel are also there. When Catelyn spots Tyrion she accuses him of trying to kill her son Bran by pushing him out of a window and then by hiring an assassin to murder Bran in his bed. Catelyn had earlier been told by Petyr Baelish that the dagger found on the assassin had once belonged to him, but he had lost it in a bet to Tyrion. Tyrion is stunned by the charge and denies it. Catelyn invokes the name of her father, Hoster Tully, who rules the Riverlands, meaning the Knights in the inn owe him fealty, and Tyrion is apprehended.
To Tyrion's surprise, Catelyn does not take him back to Winterfell, but to The Eyrie in The Vale of Arryn, home of her sister Lysa. Lysa, hysterical and grief-stricken at the recent death of her husband, accuses Tyrion of murdering him too, and he is thrown into one of the Eyrie's sky cell dungeons. With the offer of a large bribe, Tyrion convinces his guard Mord to pass a message to Lady Arryn that he is ready to confess his crimes.
Tyrion again appears before Lysa, who informs him that her son Robin will listen to his case and pass judgment. To the amusement of those in attendance, Tyrion begins reeling off every crime he has ever committed dating back to his childhood, including stealing a servant girl's clothes, filling his uncle's boots with goat faeces and letting a squire take the blame, and spoiling some turtle stew which, he hopes, his sister ate. He continues to deny their charges against him, however. Furious, Lysa orders him returned to the sky cells. Before he can be led away, Tyrion demands a trial by combat.
Trial by CombatEdit
By law, Lady Lysa acknowledges that she cannot refuse his request, but she reminds Tyrion of the consequences should he lose: he will "fly" through the Eyrie's moon door. A number of Knights volunteer to be her champion, and Ser Vardis Egen is chosen. As his own champion, Tyrion names his brother, Ser Jaime Lannister. Lysa rejects this, as Jaime is not present and she wants the trial completed quickly. It appears that no one will volunteer to fight for Tyrion, until a sellsword, Bronn, whom Tyrion had earlier met in the Crossroads Inn, steps forward and offers his services.
The combat begins, and Bronn uses underhand tactics and his greater manoeuvrability (he declines to have armor or a shield) to wear down Ser Vardis. Bronn finally stabs Vardis through the neck and pushes him out of the moon door to his death. Thus acquitted, Tyrion reclaims his purse and tosses it to Mord with the quip "a Lannister always pays his debts". He and Bronn leave the Eyrie together.
In response to Tyrion's abduction, his father Tywin Lannister invades the Riverlands with an army of 60,000 men and his bannerman Gregor Clegane begins attacking houses loyal to House Tully. After gathering his own army following his father Eddard Stark's execution for treason by King Joffrey, Robb Stark invades the Riverlands in support of his Tully allies, marking the start of the War of the Five Kings.
This episode is also the beginning of the friendship between Tyrion and Bronn, who becomes Tyrion's personal bodyguard, enforcer and confidant.
In the booksEdit
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, Tyrion's trial is told from Catelyn's point of view. It is about the same, with minor changes. Catelyn reveals to Tyrion that Littlefinger told her he lost the dagger to Tyrion in a bet, after Jaime Lannister was beaten in a joust by Loras Tyrell. Tyrion retorts that this cannot be true, because he never bets against his family. Much later, Catelyn discovers that Tyrion was telling the truth.
Tyrion convinces Mord to bring him before Lysa in his first try. The trial by combat takes place the following day, and in the Eyrie garden rather than in the throne room. Catelyn tries to dissuade Lysa from going ahead with the trial by combat, reasoning that Tyrion is only of use to them alive. She also fears that Bronn will defeat Lysa's champion, having observed his fighting prowess against the Hill tribes. Bronn kills Ser Vardis but does not push him out of the Moon Door.