A Lord Laughed At (Tywin Lannister)

(Scenario: A young Tywin Lannister watches his father at court and sees a lord laughed at. But how does he react to what he sees?)

Tywin struck Ser Rodwell Crakehall’s shield. The tutor raised his sword-arm, to give a downward hack. But the arm rose slower than normal. Tywin sensed fatigue and jabbed his wooden sword into the knight’s vulnerable ribs.

“Ouch!” Ser Rodwell said. “You hit me.”

Someone clapped. Tywin turned to see his father, Lord Tytos Lannister, striding across the courtyard, with his head bent forward as was his gait. “Well done, Son,” he said, coming up to Tywin with a lippy smile that looked like it had been plastered in an ill-fitting way onto his face. “I am impressed.”

“Can I Sit With You At Court Today?”

Fuzziness swelled inside Tywin, but he did his utmost to contain it. Tywin liked to please his father, and it was nice to know that he had pleased the Lord of Casterly Rock. However, that did not mean it was appropriate for him to show his feelings. “I have been practicing, Father,” he said. “Haven’t you got a court to lead? Aren’t you late?”

Lord Tytos chuckled. “My vassals can wait. A father would rather see his son succeed at swordplay. Personally, I never gave my father that satisfaction. I was never any good at swordplay, but I turned out all right as the Lord of Casterly Rock. If your swordplay is anything to go by, you will be a better lord than me.”

The fuzziness inside Tywin swelled even more, and Tywin could not help but smile. “Can I sit with you at court today?” he asked. “I would like to learn from you in the ways of being a lord?”

Lord Tytos gave Tywin his odd, lippy smile. “Nothing will give me greater pride than showing you off at court, like a lion and his cub heir,” he said. “But I wouldn’t want to bore you with matters of administration, when you can have fun doing sword practice. When you are older, you can see how a Lannister holds court.”

“Do Better”

Tywin nodded with understanding. Then, Lord Tytos pushed back his golden blond hair, bent his head, and marched for the Hall of Court.

Ser Rodwell guffawed once Lord Tytos had vanished inside the castle. “Don’t think I will make the next duel so easy,” he said. “Are you ready to start again?”

A fire lit up inside Tywin, with sudden roaring heat. Unusually, he had been fooled. Fatigue had not slowed the sword-tutor’s arm. Ser Rodwell had deliberately given him a free hit to make the Lord of Casterly Rock happy. Tywin hated when others gave him a free hit. It was patronising. “Never do that again,” he said. “Irrespective of whether my father is watching.”

“Then do better.”

Tywin roared and lunged at the Master-At-Arms.

But Ser Rodwell dodged the strike. “Too predictable, Boy. I would have slashed open your back by now if this were a real sword duel.”

Tywin ignored the quip. Ser Rodwell said nonsense every day when they practiced, to bring about anger and rashness. But Tywin Lannister was not one to be fooled by such tactics. Instead, he looked for weaknesses in his sword-tutor’s stance. When he saw none, Tywin pulled back his sword, to put off the knight.

“Get Up!”

But then Ser Rodwell bellowed a war cry and charged at him like a bull. Tywin put up his sword for defence, and blocked the strike. But the knight’s momentum knocked him to the ground. Tywin’s buttocks banged the stone yard, and he yelped.

“Get up!” Ser Rodwell barked. “You might be the heir to Casterly Rock, but that will mean shit on the battlefield when a brute, with more brawn than brain, attacks you. Now get up!”

Tywin scowled. He was eight years old. How could he possibly compete against someone who was a head taller than him, four times heavier than him, and had thirty years of fighting over him? It was ridiculous. If Tywin was going to beat his sword tutor, it would not be where the knight’s strengths lay. Lann the Clever, Tywin’s ancestor and the founder of House Lannister, had outfoxed the Casterlys to take their fortress from them. Tywin would need to be just as cunning to best Ser Rodwell at his own game.

“Did you not hear me, Boy? Get up!”

“You Are Not Your…”

Tywin pushed himself up. His body groaned, and pain blazed from his bruised muscles. He got back up onto his feet. But his leg buckled, and he could not regain his balance.

Ser Rodrick sighed. “Get a drink and take a break,” he said. “Come back outside in thirty minutes. By then, your leg should be better.”

Tywin scowled as the knight turned his back. Tywin would rather have carried on through the pain than be told to take a break, even if it meant taking a hundred hits. “Don’t patronise me!” he said. “Get back here.”

“I would never patronise you. You are not your…” Ser Rodwell stopped himself short and shook his head. “We are not stopping so your leg can get better. I need a shit.”

Tywin relaxed. Ser Rodwell was a demanding tutor and a bully. But he was also honest and true to his word. Tywin hoped that everyone beneath him one day would be like Ser Rodwell, when he was the Lord of Casterly Rock. Then, the Westerlands would thrive.

“Are You Hurt?”

The clouds opened and the rain fell. Tywin looked around and his stomach lurched, as he realised that he was the only one in the courtyard. Tywin did not want to look like he had been left behind and he limped inside, grimacing with every step.

“Are you hurt?” Genna asked.

“No.” Tywin did not like others to know that he was in pain. Pain was weakness. He preferred to lie and make out that all was well, rather than admit weakness to others, even to his five-year-old sister. “I just need a drink of water.”

“And some dry clothes.”

Tywin pushed a few strands of his golden hair away from his eyes. His hair was like a wet brown mat, stuck to his head. “No need,” he said, even though his clothes were soaked and sticking to him. “I will be going back outside soon, raining or not.”

Genna handed him a cup of water. Tywin glugged it down and exhaled. The rank smell of his own sweat filled his nostrils, and he appreciated then that he should have asked for a new clothes just to get rid of the smell. But he did not ask for new clothes as that would have been tantamount to admitting that he had made a mistake, which he could permit to others no more than he could reveal pain. So, he let silence fall between himself and his sister until the murmurs of their father, addressing his court, resonated in the room.

Tywin’s Idea

An idea then gonged in Tywin’s mind. Lord Tytos had said earlier that Tywin would have to wait until he was older to sit at court with him. But that did not mean Tywin could not see how his father held court from behind a wall.

Tywin’s stomach fluttered. He sprang into a run, until pain exploded from his leg and he halted with a grimace.

“Are you all ri-”

“Yes, I’m fine!” Tywin growled and grabbed hold of the supports. He looked back and gave his sister a green glare, as he realised that she wanted to come with him. “Stay silent if you wish to follow me. And do not tell anyone later, not mother even!”

Genna nodded, and Tywin limped up the stairs. Once he reached the top, he ignored the pain searing in his thigh, and forced himself into a room. Genna went into the room behind him, and Tywin put his finger on his lips to demand silence. Genna screwed up her face and grunted. But said nothing.

Tywin then closed the door behind them and locked it. After that, he approached a bookcase and pushed it to the side, to reveal a section of the wall missing; high enough and wide enough for a man to walk through.

“I Have To Know Every Nook And Cranny”

Genna gasped. “How did you know?”

Tywin smirked. “The Rock will be mine one day,” he murmured. “I have to know every nook and cranny of it like the back of my hand.” Otherwise I will not be safe inside it.

But he decided that the thought was best kept a thought, and instead led the way into the secret passage. He turned right and took a peek through a hole in the hall. Tywin’s heart skipped a beat, as he looked down upon the court, as if he were a spy; and he smiled proudly upon seeing his father, standing up at the head of the long, rectangular table, with his vassals down the sides of it.

“… the Rock paid the Crown all taxes from last year for the Westerlands,” Lord Tytos said. “On good will, I paid all taxes on behalf of the Westerlands, on the provision that you would all pay the Rock back. But thus far only the Westerlings, the Paynes and the Leffords have kept their word-”

The door to the courtroom opened and Lord Roger Reyne of Castamere walked in. “Pardon my tardiness, My Liege,” he said, with indifferent causalness. “I was taking a piss.”

Father, Lord Reyne Has Come Late And Mocked You

Lords Tarbeck, Rosby, Yarwyck, and Heatherspoon sniggered and snorted. Tywin frowned. Lord Reyne’s conduct was unbefitting a bannerman, and the ones who laughed were scarcely any better. A vassal had to respect his liege lord; fear him even. But Lords Reyne, Tarbeck, Rosby, Yarwyck and Heatherspoon showed neither respect, nor fear to Lord Tytos.

A lord laughed at - Lord Tytos was openly mocked at court by his vassals.
Lord Tytos Lannister, the future Lord Tywin’s father.

“Now that your bladder is empty, My Lord,” Lord Tytos said. “You should be sufficiently ready to partake with matters of court.”

“Aye,” Lord Reyne said. He sat near the top of the table and poured himself a cup of wine. “Did I miss anything important?”

“Well, not yet, no,” Lord Tytos said.

Father, Lord Reyne has come late and has mocked you. Why haven’t you warned him yet that if he does either again you will put his head on the block?

“As I was saying,” Lord Tytos continued, pretending like nothing had happened. “You owe the Rock gold in unpaid taxes, in addition to moneys owed for what I lent you during the Fourth Blackfyre Rebellion. When will you send me the money?”

Lord Reyne gulped down his wine, making Lord Tytos wait for an answer. Lord Tarbeck smirked as Lord Reyne took his time. Eventually, the Lord of Castamere put down his cup and wiped his mouth on his sleeve, which was as red as the lion on his banners. “Don’t worry, My Lord,” he said. “You will have your money. I will have it delivered to you within the fortnight.”

Lord Reyne Needed To Be Taught A Lesson

“My Lord, I do not doubt you. But you said the same two months ago and the Rock has yet to receive a bronze from you in that time. Will you guarantee me that you will send the money this time?”

“You have my word, My Liege.”

“Good,” Lord Tytos said, and smiled that odd, lippy smile. “The golden and the red lion should be united, not squabbling over unpaid taxes.”

Tywin stared at his father, stone-faced, as a dispiriting, internal wave overwhelmed him. Lord Reyne had just lied to his liege lord, with a grin that openly spoke of his insincerity. Nevertheless, Lord Tytos had let it go or believed him. How could he allow either? Lord Reyne needed to be taught a lesson that would ensure that neither he, nor the other vassals, would lie and deride their liege again.

“Tywin?” Genna whispered, tapping his shoulder. “What is wrong?”

“Our father is a fool. I love him, but he is unfit to be Lord of Casterly Rock.”

“You cannot speak this way about Father! He is a good, kindly man and-”

“And a fool all the same!” Tywin interjected. “And everyone knows it. Look at how his vassals laugh at him; how they mock House Lannister.”

Genna’s eyes widened and twinkled, but she shook her head. “If you are going to speak this way about Father,” she said. “It is best we never watch him at court again, or speak of the matter again either.”

“A Liege Lord Should Not Be Made A Fool Of”

Genna turned and went back toward the room they had come from. Tywin followed; he needed to return to Ser Rodwell and sword-practice in the yard, anyway. Pain blasted from his bruised leg as he moved. The pain reminded him of falling onto his backside, of Ser Rodwell gifting him a hit, and of his father praising him for striking his sword-tutor.

The pain intensified at the memory of his father. That he had been pleased to hear praise from Lord Tytos now repulsed Tywin. Praise from a man who could be so easily deceived and mocked was no praise at all. “Genna, whatever you may think of Father,” Tywin said, through clenched teeth. “At eight years old, I can tell you that a liege lord should not be made a fool of or laughed at by his bannermen. When I am Lord of Casterly Rock, I will ensure that insolence and mockery will not go unpunished.”

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