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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.
The skirmish at Littlefinger's brothel was an ambush on Lord Eddard Stark and his small retinue, led by Ser Jaime Lannister to demand the release of Tyrion Lannister from Stark captivity. Under suspicion of attempting to murder Bran Stark, Tyrion was captured by Catelyn and taken to the Eyrie in the Vale of Arryn. Jaime retaliated by cornering Ned Stark outside the brothel with several Lannister soldiers at his back.

Jaime immediately demands Tyrion's release, even though Eddard does not have Tyrion in his possession but Catelyn does, and Ned cites Tyrion to be answering for his alleged crimes. Impatient, Jaime draws his sword on the Lord of Winterfell and advises Petyr Baelish to flee before a fight begins, to which Petyr 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.

A violent brawl breaks out in which several of Ned's household guards are killed by the red cloaks, only for Ned to cut down several of them. Jory breaks through the guards and faces Jaime, only to be quickly killed by the Kingslayer. Horrified at how Jaime cold-bloodedly killed the man, 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.

This was one of the minor events which only heightened the already existing tension between the Starks and the Lannisters, eventually sparking into the War of the Five Kings. The duel resulted in Ned being reinstated as Hand of the King to King Robert, and his continued investigation into the incestuous relationship between Cersei and Jaime, as well as the death of Jon Arryn.