Tyrion winds up in the Red Keep. Tyrion clears enough of the wreckage to see his dead siblings, then he begins to sob. Out in the streets, Arya is no longer riding her horse. Tyrion, who has come to stand near Jon behind Daenerys during all of this, looks like he wants to hurt her.
Remember how happy he was when she gave that to him? Daenerys leaves, and Jon suddenly notices that Arya is standing next to him. Sadly, that answer is no. Jon observes that the war is over, but Tyrion says naw.
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And she grows more powerful and more sure that she is good, and right. She believes her destiny is to build a better world for everyone. That last bit hits Jon like a punch to the gut. I love her, too. Not as successfully as you, but I believed in her with all my heart.
Love is more powerful than reason. We all know that. Look at my brother. You see them bending the knee? But then the beast lets him pass. Grey Worm is killing people in the street. She looks shocked, blood trickling from her nose and mouth, as she dies in his arms. Jon weeps. Jon watches, transfixed. Please sit. Sam puts forth the idea of a democratic Westeros, which is met with guffaws. Tyrion says. House Lannister reached its nadir during the years that the Laughing Lion held court at Casterly Rock.
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The lords of the westerlands had known Tytos Lannister since birth. A few did their best to support him, offering him sage counsel, and their swords when needed. Others saw in his weakness an opportunity to grasp power, wealth, and land for themselves.
Some borrowed heavily from Casterly Rock, then failed to repay the loans. Corruption became widespread, as offices and honors were bought and sold, and taxes and duties and levies due to Casterly Rock increasingly went astray. Pirates from the Stepstones appeared in the waters offshore to prey upon merchantmen coming and going from Lannisport, and reavers from the Iron Islands harried the coast, carrying off wealth and women.
Lord Tytos had no answer, but to dispatch ravens to Lord Quellon Greyjoy on Pyke, demanding that the ironmen desist. At feasts and balls, guests felt free to make mock of his lordship, even to his face. No one laughed louder at these japes than Lord Tytos himself. So he laughs, and takes no offense, and forgives, and bestows honors and offices and lavish gifts on those who mock him and defy him, thinking thereby to win their loyalty.
Yet the more he laughs and gives, the more they despise him. The maester was not the only man in Casterly Rock to see what was happening. Time and again they urged Lord Tytos to be firm, and he would swear to do so. When asked for pardon, he would grant such, no matter the crime. When threatened, he would yield, or offer some feeble compromise. The growing disrespect shown to House Lannister soon became a constant source of conflict between Lord Tytos and his brother Jason, nine years the younger.
A fierce child, he grew into a prideful, quarrelsome youth with a fiery temper. Though often openly scornful of his elder brother himself, he was quick to take umbrage when others disparaged Lord Tytos. At fourteen, he got a serving girl at Casterly Rock with child, and sired his first bastard. Lord Tytos, in a rare display of firmness, insisted that his brother marry the girl most believe this was done at the behest of his wife, the Lady Jeyne only to have the poor girl die in childbirth. Though twice the age of her new lord husband, she would give him three trueborn daughters and two trueborn sons in the years that followed.
And even Maester Belden confessed himself relieved when Jason Lannister departed the Rock to live with his lady wife at Feastfires. As the power of House Lannister waned, other Houses grew stronger, more defiant, and more disorderly. Lord Farman of Fair Isle began to build a fleet of warships to defend his coasts against the ironmen, in defiance of Lord Tytos, who did not wish to give offense to the Greyjoys of Pyke. Three landed knights and a petty lord whose lands lay near the border between the westerlands and the Reach swore fealty to House Tyrell, declaring that Highgarden offered them more protection than Casterly Rock.
Nine men were killed, twenty-seven maimed and wounded, and still the quarrel raged on. Lord Stackspear doubled the taxes on his smallfolk, though Lord Tytos forbade it, then hired a company of Volantene sellswords to enforce his onerous exactions. By AC, even lords beyond the borders of the westerlands had grown aware that the lion of Casterly Rock was no longer a beast to be feared.
Tywin Lannister was but twelve years of age, yet even then men could see that this iron-willed, fearless child was hard beyond his years, and nothing like his father. Some swore that Tywin had even struck his sire, though the truth of that was never proved. Roger Reyne, the Red Lion, was widely feared for his skill at arms; many considered him the deadliest sword in the westerlands.
His brother, Ser Reynard, was as charming and cunning as Ser Roger was swift and strong. And as the Reynes rose, so too did their close allies, the Tarbecks of Tarbeck Hall. After centuries of slow decline, this poor but ancient House had begun to flourish, thanks in large part to the new Lady Tarbeck, the former Ellyn Reyne, who had so briefly been the Lady of Casterly Rock in all but name.
Though she herself remained unwelcome at the Rock, Lady Ellyn had contrived to extract large sums of gold from House Lannister through her brothers, for Lord Tytos found it very hard to refuse the Red Lion. Those funds she had used to restore the crumbling ruin that was Tarbeck Hall, rebuilding its curtain wall, strengthening its towers, and furnishing its keep in splendor to rival any castle in the west. At her urging, Lord Tarbeck expanded his domain by buying the lands of the lesser lords and landed knights about him.
Some of those thus dispossessed went to Casterly Rock for justice, but Lord Tytos shrugged off their complaints, or else refused to see them. Meanwhile, Lord and Lady Tarbeck built roads and septs and holdfasts, and brought ever more knights, archers, and men-at-arms into their service. Walderan Tarbeck had supported twenty household knights before his marriage to Ellyn Reyne; by AC, that number had swollen to five hundred. Closely bound by bonds of blood and marriage, the Reynes of Castamere and the Tarbecks of Tarbeck Hall would soon constitute the most serious threat to Lannister rule in the west since Lann the Clever has winkled the Casterlys out of Casterly Rock.
Her loss was a shattering blow to his lordship. From that day forth, no one would ever again call him the Laughing Lion. Spurred by the royal command, his lordship sent his grieving good-father, Lord Denys Marbrand, to ride in strength to Tarbeck Hall and deliver Lord and Lady Tarbeck to Casterly Rock, that they might be made to answer for their crimes.
The outcome was less sweet. Denys Marbrand and his knights were still two days ride from Tarbeck Hall when the Red Lion fell upon his camp in the night, slaying hundreds, amongst them old Marbrand himself. Archmaester Perestan has suggested that Lord Tytos may have pardoned Lord Reyne and his men because his own son Kevan was amongst them. It may be so; we know for a certainly that Kevan Lannister was in service at Castamere at the time.
The years that followed were as dismal as any in the long history of the westerlands. Even those houses that had hitherto remained leal to Casterly Rock went their own way now, for Lord Tytos had proved himself unwilling or unable to enforce justice or punish malefactors, even those who slew men in his service. A score of private wars broke out across the west, as rival lords strove for land, gold, and power.
Outlaws, broken men, and robber knights became a plague upon the land. Genna Lannister was carried off to the Twins and married to a Frey. Conditions in the west grew so bad that the Iron Throne felt compelled to take a hand. After his death, Ser Roger Reyne seized command of the remaining westermen and led them to several notable victories. Kevan Lannister, squiring for the Red Lion, also won his spurs, and was knighted by Roger Reyne himself. Their brother Tygett, a squire of ten, was too young for knighthood, but his courage and skill at arms were remarked upon by all, for he slew a grown man in his first battle and three more in later fights, one of them a knight of the Golden Company.
His strong words were not unwarranted, for whilst his cubs and were fighting on the Stepstones, Tytos Lannister remained at Casterly Rock, in the company of a certain young woman of low birth who had caught his eye whilst serving as a wet nurse to his youngest son. With most of the great lords away at war for the best part of two years, the ruler of the westerlands in all but name became the lord who had stayed at home, Walderan Tarbeck, who was himself ruled by his wife, the Lady Ellyn. Hardened by battle, and all too aware of the low regard in which the other lords of the realm held his father, Ser Tywin Lannister set to at once to restore the pride and power of Casterly Rock.
His sire protested but feebly, we are told, and then retreated back to the arms of his wet nurse, whilst his heir took command. Ser Tywin began by demanding repayment of all the gold Lord Tytos had lent out. Those who could not pay were required to send hostages to Casterly Rock. All those lords who had engaged in private wars during the previous decade were summoned to court, to have their disputes adjudicated by their liege lord. Some hastened to obey. Unable to repay his debt, he turned his daughter over to Ser Kevan as a hostage instead.
But elsewhere, the collectors were met with sullen resistance and open defiance. Lord Walderan Tarbeck unwisely chose a different course. At Casterly Rock, however, Lord Tarbeck was denied an audience with Lord Tytos, and found himself facing his son instead. Lady Tarbeck was quick to disabuse him of that notion. Instead that reboubtable woman sent forth her own knights and captured three Lannisters along with two sons of Lord Prester, and half a dozen common girls who had met them in the wood by Feastfires for purposes of dalliance.
Wiser than her lord, she knew better than to come herself. The resulting crisis drew Lord Tytos away from his wet nurse long enough to overrule his strong-willed heir. Whereupon his lordship not only commanded that Lord Tarbeck be released, unharmed, but went so far as to apologize to him, and forgive him his debts. All eternity lasted not quite a year, Grand Maester Pycelle observed later. Both Houses rose in open revolt, renouncing their fealty to Casterly Rock.
Tywin Lannister called the banners. His brothers Kevan and Tygett went with him, one as a knight, one a squire. Lord Marbrand of Ashmark, Lord Prester of Feastfives, and a dozen lesser lords joined him on the march with their own levies, swelling his numbers. In a short, brutal battle, the Tarbecks were broken and butchered.
Lord Walderan Tarbeck was wounded and taken alive, with two of his sons from his second marriage the only surviving son from his first marriage had died during the battle. Ask what you will, my lady wife will pay.
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I think not. When the Lannister host resumed its march to Tarbeck Hall, the heads of Lord Walderan and his sons went before them, impaled on spears. At their approach, Lady Ellyn Tarbeck closed her gates and sent forth ravens to Castamere, summoning her brothers. My brothers are coming, and their claws are just as long and sharp as yours. Her defiance was misplaced. Tarbeck Hall was an old castle, and most of its defenders had ridden into battle with Lord Walderan, and were dead or fled. Those who remained were daunted by the size of the Lannister host, and dismayed to see the heads of their own lord and his sons impaled beneath their banners.
It may be also that some of those within had been suborned by Lannister gold, for Twyin Lannister was not a man to leave the outcome of any battle to chance, as subsequent decades would prove.
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Trusting in her walls, Lady Tarbeck no doubt anticipated a long siege, but Ser Tywin sent his men-at-arms surging forward with ladders and grappling hooks and battering rams instead. The fighting lasted less than an hour, accounts agree. Those who fled were spared; those who fought were put to the sword. Her son Tion the Red preceded her in death, cut down in the fighting at the main gates.
He was nineteen years of age when he died, the same age as Tywin Lannister. Her daughters Rohanne and Cyrelle, whose husbands had been beheaded with Lord Walderan, were taken alive, and spent the remainder of their lives with the silent sisters accounts differ as to whether Ser Tywin first had their tongues removed.
Those of a romantic bent believe that he was smuggled from the burning castle in disguise, grew to manhood across the narrow sea, and became a bard famed for his sad ballads. More reliable reports suggest that he was thrown down a well by Ser Amory Lorch, though whether this was done at the behest of Ser Tywin or without his knowledge remains in dispute.
When the last resistance had been quelled, Tywin Lannister ordered Tarbeck Hall put to the torch. The castle burned for a day and a night, until nought remained but a blackened shell. The Red Lion arrived in time to see the flames, we are told. Two thousand men rode with him, all he had been able to gather in the short time available to him. Only one in ten was a knight. Given time, Lord Roger could have assembled a much larger host, for House Reyne had many friends in the west, and his own repute as a warrior would surely have drawn many freeriders, hedge knights, and sellswords to his side.
Tywin Lannister had three times his strength, most accounts agree; some insist the Lannisters outnumbered the Reynes five to one. A more prudent commander would surely have fallen back rather than face such odds, but the Red Lion of Castamere had never been prudent. The battle that ensued was a closer thing than might have been expected, for the Lannisters had not formed up and the suddenness of the attack took them by surprise.
But there was too much distance to cover and too many men between them, and after the first shock the Lannisters recovered quickly, whereupon their numbers soon began to tell. Tywin Lannister himself led the counterattack. His charge blunted, Lord Reyne had no choice but to wheel and flee, but he left near half his men dead upon the field. A rain of crossbow bolts chased his riders from the camp; one took Lord Reyne between the shoulders, punching through his backplate.
Though not a mortal wound, the quarrel went deep enough to draw blood. The Red Lion rode on, swaying in the saddle, only to fall from his horse less than a half a league away. He had to be carried back to Castamere. The Lannister host, swollen to twice its original size by the arrival of the Lords Westerling, Banefort, Plumm, and Stackspear with their levies, arrived at Castamere three days later.
Lord Reyne had sent forth ravens to his own friends, allies, and vassals, but few had turned up; the lesson of Tarbeck Hall had not been lost on them. Castamere would prove to be a tougher nut to crack, however. Like Casterly Rock, the seat of House Reyne had begun as a mine.
Rich veins of gold and silver had made the Reynes near as wealthy as the Lannisters during the Age of Heroes; to defend their riches, they had raised curtain walls about the entrance to their mine, closed it with an oak-and-iron gate, and flanked it with a pair of stout towers. Keeps and halls had followed, but all the while the mineshafts had gone deeper and deeper, and when at last the gold gave out, they had been widened into halls and galleries and snug bedchambers, a warren of tunnels and a vast echoing ballroom.
To the ignorant eye, Castamere seemed a modest holding, a fit seat for a landed knight or small lord, but those who knew its secrets knew that nine-tenths of the castle was beneath the ground. It was to those deep chambers that the Reynes retreated now. Feverish and weak from loss of blood, the Red Lion was in no fit state to lead.
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Ser Reynard, his brother, assumed command in his stead. Less headstrong but more cunning than his brother, Reynard knew he did not have the men to defend the castle walls, so he abandoned the surface entirely to the foe, and fell back beneath the earth. Designed for defense, the mines at Castamere had never been taken. There were only three ways down into them, all cramped, narrow, twisting, and studded with deadfalls, pits, and murder holes.
Two armored knights, standing side by side, could hold the largest tunnel against a thousand, for attackers had no way around, and if they tried to cut their way past, defenders would be pouring boiling oil and pitch down on them from murder holes above as they fought. Once all his folk were safe inside the tunnels, Ser Reynard sent word to Ser Tywin above, offering terms. This time, however, his glib words fell upon deaf ears.
Neither did he intend to send men to die in the dark, fighting their way down. Instead Tywin Lannister commanded that mines be sealed. With pick and axe and torch, his own miners brought down tons of stone and soil, burying the great gates to the mines one by one, until there was no way in and no way out. Once that was done, he turned his attention to the small, swift stream that fed the crystalline blue pool beside the castle from which Castamere took its name. With thousands of men on hand, and no foe to face, it took less than a day to dam the stream, and only two to divert it to the nearest mine entrance.
The earth and stone that sealed the mine had no gaps large enough to allow a squirrel to pass, let alone a man. Ser Reynard had taken more than three hundred men, women, and children into the mines, it is said. Not a one emerged. A few of the guards assigned to the smallest and most distant of the mine entrances reported hearing faint screams and shouts coming from beneath the earth one night, but by daybreak the stones had gone silent once again.
No one has ever reopened the mines of Castamere. The halls and keeps above them, put to the torch by Tywin Lannister, stand empty to this day, a mute testament to the fate that awaits those foolish enough to take up arms against the lions of the Rock. His first act as king — and his wisest, many say — was to summon his boyhood friend Tywin Lannister from Casterly Rock, and name him the Hand of the King.
Ser Tywin was but twenty, the youngest man ever to serve as Hand, and amongst the youngest ever to sit upon the small council, but the manner in which he had dealt the rising of the Reynes and Tarbecks had made him well respected, even feared, throughout the Seven Kingdoms, and there were few who dared speak against his appointment. A year later, she and Ser Tywin were wed in a lavish ceremony at the Great Sept of Baelor, with King Aerys himself presiding over the wedding feast and bedding.
A long period of peace and prosperity followed. Though Aerys II grew increasingly erratic over time, for many years he was content to leave the day-to-day running of his realm to his Hand, a task at which Tywin Lannister excelled. In AC, Lady Joanna gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl. With the Laughing Lion at last laid to rest, House Lannister had never been stronger nor more secure. The years that followed were golden ones, not only for the westerlands, but for all the Seven Kindoms. There was a worm inside the apple, though, for the growing madness of King Aerys II Targaryen would soon imperil all that Tywin Lannister sought to build.
His lordship suffered great personal loss as well, for his beloved wife Lady Joanna died in AC whilst giving birth to a hideously deformed child. With her death, Grand Maester Pycelle observes, the joy went out of Tywin Lannister, yet still he persisted in his duty. Day by day and year by year, Aerys II turned ever more against his own Hand, the friend of his childhood, subjecting him to a succession of reproofs, reverses, and humiliations.
All this Lord Tywin suffered, even the insult to his daughter, but when the king made his son and heir, Ser Jaime, a knight of the Kingsguard, he could endure no longer.
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Lord Tywin at last resigned the Handship in AC. Bereft of the counsel of the man he had relied upon so long, surrounded by lickspittles and schemers, King Aerys II was soon swallowed up entirely by his madness as the realm fell to pieces around him. Nigh unto three hundred years of Targaryen rule were brought to an end by the swords of Lord Tywin and his westermen. The birth of a son and heir, Prince Joffrey, in AC was the cause for great celebration through all the Seven Kingdoms. With the succession now upon a firm footing, a time of peace and prosperity beckons, in no small due to the efforts of Lord Tywin Lannister and the men of the west.