TB2020 – Paid in Full

Title: Paid in Full
Author: Saydria Wolfe
Fandom: Game of Thrones/ASOIAF
Genre: Alternate Universe
Relationships: past-Joanna Lannister/Tywin Lannister
Warnings: Major Character Death (King Aerys the Mad)
Author’s Notes: There is a fan theory that the Defiance of Duskendale was planned by Tywin Lannister—with Lord Denys Darklyn and maybe Prince Rhaegar—as a multi-layered plan to assassinate Aerys the Mad for his rape of Joanna that lead to her death when she gave birth to maybe-Aerys’s son Tyrion. Unfortunately, that plan was thwarted by Ser Barristan proving the name Prince Duncan Targaryen had given him at the ripe old age of ten to be true. That ain’t gonna happen this time. We’re leaving Barristan the Bold at home.
Challenge: Just Write Trope Bingo, Square: Best Life
Beta: PN Ztivokreb
Word Count: 2,412
Summary: Tywin Lannister lives his best life.

 

 

“I received a raven,” King Aerys drawled, staring at him pointedly.

Tywin stared right back, holding his gaze, not even bothering to acknowledge the rest of the Small Council as they entered the chamber for their meeting. He was certain they were all surprised to see the Mad King present.

Tywin wasn’t. He’d expected some sort of foolishly dramatic response to his denial of Lord Darklyn’s petition. Aerys’s foolishly dramatic response was entirely the point.

“Can you interact with my lords without offending them and leaving me with a war to fight over your behavior?” Aerys asked mildly. “I find I have to ask—for my peace of mind and your placement as Hand, you see.”

“Lord Darklyn has refused to pay his just taxes,” Tywin told the King. “He is demanding independence, to be elevated to the same rank and privileges as Dorne.”

“Lord Darklyn is not an unreasonable man,” Aerys countered. “Duskendale was the seat of Kings before there ever was a Seven Kingdoms.”

“So was Winterfell,” Tywin countered. “And Harrenhal, and the Erie, Highgarden, and Casterly Rock. Are you going to give all the former lines of kings their independence? You won’t have much of a kingdom left, if you do.”

Aerys blithely ignored his very valid point. “He would settle for a cut to his taxes because they are causing his people distress. I don’t see why his taxes cannot be cut—unless your management of my Realm is failing, Lord Lannister.”

Tywin very carefully didn’t mention how lowered taxes in Duskendale would increase their trade—reducing business and revenue for King’s Landing. As the king, Aerys should already know that.

“Fine,” he agreed stiffly. “If you wish to negotiate with this fool, demand he come to you—with proof of this suffering his people are experiencing.”

“It would be more effective to go to Duskendale and see the issues for myself.”

“A king does not do the bidding of his lords,” Tywin reminded him. “He must come to you.”

“I’m going,” Aerys said in a tone that brokered no argument. Good.

“In that case, I insist you take the entire Kingsguard and no less than a battalion of the Crown’s Army. For your own safety.”

“Such a force would heavily tax the resources on an already straining keep—”

“Supposedly straining,” Tywin cut the king off to correct, “we have seen no proof of it.”

Aerys’s eye flashed with temper. “Lord Darklyn is no threat to me. He’s asking me for a favor. I will take Ser Gwayne with me. The rest of the Kingsguard will remain here.

“Lord Commander Hightower, you and Ser Barristan will be personally in charge of my wife, the Queen’s, security while I am away. She is not to leave the Holdfast and neither will you until my return. Prince Lewyn and Ser Oswell will attend the security of my heir, Rhaegar. Ser Jonothor and Ser Harlan that of Viscerys. Are my orders in anyway unclear to you?”

“No, my king,” Lord Commander bowed his head briefly. “When do you plan to leave?”

“Pycelle will send a raven, accepting Lord Darklyn’s invitation on my behalf—today, Archmaester.”

“As you will, my king,” Pycelle agreed easily enough.

“I will give him a week and then follow the raven. I expect you to hand pick the men guarding my retinue, Hightower. Thirty should do it.”

“Of course, my king. Would you like the list for your approval?”

“Yes, you have two days.”

“Yes, my king.”

Aerys went back to staring at him and Tywin was hard pressed not to roll his eyes. He had heard bootlickers and lickspittles say that the Gaze of the Dragon was hard to bear but that had never been his experience.

“Anything else, Lord Tywin?”

“No, my king. I believe that is all the business to be brought before the Council.”

“Good.”

Tywin had to agree. It was good.

-*-

“My Lord Hand.” Pycelle approached the Iron Throne as Tywin sat upon it, holding court in Aerys’s place and being all the more productive for the sake of the Realm for it.

“Archmaester.” He acknowledged the man with a nod.

“There has been a raven, my lord. From Duskendale.” Pycell held up the small scroll, still sealed with Lord Darklyn’s sigil.

This would be the letter, then. Exactly one month after Aerys left King’s Landing. Tywin stood from his seat and descended the stairs to accept the missive.

He wondered idly if Lord Darklyn had taken Aerys at dinner like he had told him to or if he had acted prematurely. Lord Darklyn was not, actually, the boldest of fellows. If he had been overzealous—and Tywin had to accept he might have been—there would have been a number of unnecessary deaths among the king’s men at arms.

He unrolled the scroll under the watchful eyes of the court. He kept his joy off his face without a struggle thanks to habit more than diligence. The debt Tywin owed Aerys for the rape and death of his beloved wife, Joanna, would soon be paid.

Darklyn had captured the king with only one death, that of Ser Gwayne. He was threatening to kill the king if his demands were not met.

“Fetch my armor,” he ordered his squire and the boy left the throne room at a run. Then he turned to Lord Commander Hightower, “Muster the Army. We ride for Duskendale at dawn.”

“Lord Hand,” Gerold Hightower took a step closer to the throne. “What has happened?”

“Lord Denys Darklyn has assured his own death—he has taken King Aerys captive and slain Ser Gwayne. He is demanding all of his terms met and the stakes are the king’s life.”

“Then we have much to prepare, will you call the banners?”

“Come,” he ordered the Lord Commander as he left the throne room in favor of the Tower of the Hand.

“I wish to evaluate Duskendale myself before calling the Great Houses to the cause,” he told Ser Gerold confidentially. “The ten thousand we have on hand may be enough to overrun Duskendale should it prove necessary. We have no evidence of a larger conspiracy to rebel.”

“The Great Houses will have to be told something.”

“And they will,” Tywin promised. “The ravens will leave before I do.”

“I would prefer to come with you,” Lord Commander Hightower told him baldly and Tywin just bet he did. Only the Hand of the King could command the Kingsguard in the king’s absence. He was the only man that could override the Mad King’s order to remain with the Queen and allow him to assist in the recovery of the king.

Unfortunately for Ser Gerold, King Aerys’s successful recovery was the last of Tywin’s goals.

“No,” he flatly refused. “There would be hell to pay if something were to happen to the queen or the heirs while we were all focused on Aerys’s recovery.”

“No one will come for the King,” Ser Gerold argued. “You said there was no evidence of a conspiracy.”

“Aegon the First was confident no one would come for him, either but one of his own wives fought off assassins twice before he allowed her to form the Kingsguard,” Tywin countered. “You know this.”

Ser Gerold frowned but conceded the point. “The Crown and the Kingsguard must be represented in the resolution of this incident. To do otherwise would…it would be a scandal. Especially if something goes wrong.”

“Be easy,” Tywin ordered. “I had planned for Prince Rhaegar to accompany me, and with him Prince Lewyn and Ser Oswell. The Crown and the Kingsguard will be well represented by them.”

“Prince Rhaegar is a levelheaded lad.” The Lord Commander of the Kingsguard relaxed. “His arms and command training has been second to none.”

Tywin knew Rhaegar’s training had been top notch. He’d been in charge of it, after all. Aerys used to be his friend and very comfortable companion—but he had never known what to do with a child, much less the legacy of Aegon the Conqueror and Tywin, as his Hand, had stepped in.

Still, he nodded. “Agreed.”

“Be well, Lord Tywin,” Ser Gerold said as they stopped together before the main entrance of the Tower of the Hand. “And make the best decisions you can. For the Realm.”

“For the Realm,” he agreed and turned away from the Lord Commander.

Maybe Hightower wasn’t as blind as Tywin thought.

-*-

“We attack at dawn,” Tywin ordered as the commanders of the forces gathered at the Siege of Duskendale joined him in his tent.

“Lord Darklyn swore he would kill the king if we stormed Duskendale,” Lord Admiral Velaryon objected.

Tywin was tempted to point out that they had a better king than Aerys the Mad, just waiting to take the Throne in Prince Rhaegar. Lord Velaryon couldn’t have missed the man’s presence, standing across the table from him, looking like a mirror with the pure Valyrian features both houses shared.

It would tip his hand, however. He couldn’t afford that with success a mere day away.

“This siege has lasted six months,” Tywin said slowly. As though he were talking to his son. “It has exploded beyond all reasonable bounds. There are armies and ships here from all Seven Kingdoms. Food rolling in by the ton from the Reach and the Riverlands.”

“The Crown has two heirs,” Lord Rickard Stark spoke up with his Northern Pragmatism. “A grown man and a spare. It’s a balance of costs, now and in the future. Nothing but putting down Darklyn’s Defiance with prejudice will serve the future peace of the Realm. We have the opportunity to make an example of Duskendale and ensure that no lord will be foolish enough to try such as this again.”

“Prince Rhaegar will have to lead the battle,” Lord Steffon Baratheon of Storm’s End offered. “If we’re going to send the proper message to future lords.”

“And I will. No stone will be left upon another,” Prince Rhaegar swore with no prompting. “Darklyn took my father, has abused him and brought the Realm to a stop for half a year. No one will survive within the walls of Duskendale. The remains will be burned to ash and the lands salted.

“No one will live in Duskendale ever again.”

-*-

Tywin kept himself at young Rhaegar’s side the next morning.

His command style was usually to stand in the back upon a height to make the best strategic decisions possible for his army, but nothing—nothing—was going to deprive him of watching the light fade in Aerys’s eyes. He wanted to watch the debt between them be paid.

Even if—for the sake of Joanna’s honor—no one but him would ever know the debt existed. He would know. And he would know it was paid. For Joanna.

Prince Lewyn and Prince Rhaegar’s friend Arthur Dayne the Sword of Morning stayed with them, as well as Robert Baratheon even though he was just fifteen years old. Rheagar and Arthur were whirling towers of death, using a sword in either hand—the show-offs. Lewyn’s spear was running with red and Tywin almost pitied Baratheon the trauma that cleaning his warhammer would bring.

Another fifteen-year-old, Brandon Stark, wasn’t far behind them. He carried a great axe, which was unusual for a Stark. If Tywin were a superstitious man, such an oddity would worry him but—

It was good, honestly, for the entire Realm that Rhaegar had managed to earn the dedication of the heirs of two Great Houses before he had even ascended to the Throne. Tywin just hoped that dedication wouldn’t go too far and lead three Great Houses into situations he would have to resolve as Hand of the King.

They broke through the final barriers between them and the Duskhall—finally, finally.

Tywin, Rhaegar, and Lewyn worked their way up one side of the great table that bisected the wall. Arthur led Robert and Brandon up the other side.

They were steps away from the High Table at the end of the hall when they stopped. Lord Darklyn had Aerys at the point or a large knife.

“Let him go, Darklyn,” Rhaegar demanded.

“So, you can execute me?” Darklyn scoffed. “I want ten thousand Gold Dragons and a clear path to my ship. We will set sail, and no one will follow. Once I’m free, in Essos, I’ll send your king back to you—in one piece.”

“Don’t be ridiculous, Darklyn,” Tywin interjected. “Your ship has burned. Everything under your flag has been put to the torch.”

“One of yours then!”

“You know there is no getting out of this for you.” Rhaegar took half a step forward and Darklyn pulled the sword closer to Aerys’s throat, making him bleed. “Darklyn,” Rhaegar repeated but did not step either closer or back. “Leave this madness and I swear your death will be quick.”

“You will—” Whatever the Lord of Duskendale has to say was cut off. He startled as more men rushed into Duskhall. He pulled King Aerys further back towards the far wall, very near to cornering himself. The man was clearly past thinking.

Rhaegar held up a hand without taking his eyes off of Lord Darklyn. “Halt!”

Before the men could stop—or Rhaegar finish the command—Darklyn slit Aerys’s throat. In quick succession, Ser Arthur severed Darklyn’s elbow—sending the limb and knife flying, Prince Rhaegar stabbed his sword into Darklyn’s left eye, and Prince Lewyn’s spear sank into the man’s chest.

Tywin took a moment to stare at Aerys as he gurgled his own blood from two holes and the light fled his eyes. Aerys was dead. Joanna’s rapist and murder was dead.

…and now Tywin could move on. Almost five years in the making, and it was done.

Rhaegar would marry his daughter and make her queen. The Realm was safe. Peace was assured—new treaties and friendships had blossomed across all of the Seven Kingdoms during the siege. Soon they would have a good king that he had trained himself sitting on the throne. His grandson would one day wear the crown, ensuring his legacy would thrive for centuries beyond himself.

His family—Joanna’s family—would thrive.

Prince Rhaegar clapped him on the shoulder and he turned to face his…king.

Tywin took the lad’s hand and held it aloft, bloody sword and all. “The King is dead. Long live the King!”

“Long live the King!” every voice in the hall shouted back and it echoed back from beyond even the keep. “Long live the King! Long live the King! Long live the King!”

The debt was paid in full.

 

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