A Time of Fracture



Casterly Rock was a magnificent castle. It was like a Lord in of itself, dressed up in decorations, finery and tapestries, and perched up on the large stony hill as if it were a Lord's seat. It even seemed to be shining like gold as the pale brick and red sandstone worked in tandem with the setting sun.

'Fitting for the seat of my father,' thought Jaime, riding on horseback beside his father. Tywin Lannister was the richest and most powerful man in Westeros. Even more powerful than the king, people said. It was true that Stannis did not have his people's love the way either of his brothers had. He was going to have to prove himself as a king. Not that Jaime would give him a chance. And that was why he was here, and not back in King's Landing. Stannis wasn't stupid. He wasn't going to put the Kingslayer in any position to slay him straight after arresting his own sister. Nevertheless, Jaime wanted somebody to pay for Cersei's incarceration.

He arrived at the Castle, was helped off his horse and went straight to his room, while his father went to meet with Kevan Lannister and the bannermen of the West. He couldn't stop thinking about his sister, and every time he did, he grew angry. Curse Stannis. And Curse the Starks for kidnapping his brother. He wanted both of his siblings returned.

After a bath, Jaime pulled on a loose-fitting woollen tunic and brown breeches, an outfit for comfort more than fashion, and made his way out into the courtyard. There were bards taking the time to practice their material while nobody was paying them mind. There were maids washing linen and silks in large pales of hot water and leaving them to dry in the warm air. Squires were fighting with wooden swords, whilst kids older than them were chasing each other round the statues, simply having fun. Jaime was reminded of his days as a squire to Sumner Crakehall. He remembered he had more than a little envy of noble children who did as they liked, not as they were ordered. He had no idea how much freedom he actually had at the time.

It was a pleasantly warm day, but Jaime knew that winter was coming. He thought back to his siblings, and to Ned Stark. There would be repercussions of his maiming of Ned Stark. His father had said as much. He would have to climb in his father's favour for this, he knew.

He decided to pay his father a visit. Tywin's seat of office had recently moved. It used to on one of the higher floors of the main tower, up a lot of steps, but Tywin had moved it to the second floor for 'convenience'. The sad truth was that the richest and arguably most powerful man in Westeros was getting old.

He waited outside as directed by a steward, until Kevan and his host left, then he knocked thrice and entered. Lord Tywin was examining a map. He didn't even look up.

"I know what you're going to say, Jaime, and the answer is no. I won't make any movement to demand Cersei's freedom. Nor Tyrion's. Cersei was a fool who believed this was all a game, and even more foolishly believed she was good at it. Look where she is now. Thanks to her, Casterly Rock is faced with the prospect of war, we have lost favour with the common people, and with the Starks and the Tullys already having grievances with us, and the Tyrells rushing at the chance to get their thorny roots into King's Landing, that's four of the seven kingdoms already against us. If Stannis Baratheon hadn't locked my daughter up, I would have.

However, I have no desire to look craven or worried. A house is only as srong as its lord, and I remain quite strong. I will demand that every Western man, woman and child in King's Landing be given safe passage back, including your three bastard children born of incest. This is not an unreasonable demand, and Stannis will be glad to see the back of them, and we can all carry on without blood being shed. He might not want you near to him either. I know you take your vows seriously, but you must stay within these walls for as long as I command it."

"What about family?" Jaime asked. "You always stressed the importance of family. Now you're content to leave two of your own children in the hands of the enemy?"

"They will not harm Cersei. I will see to that. When temperaments have died down, I will see to getting her pardoned. Until then, she will stay in a cell, and be grateful that her position is keeping her alive. As for Tyrion..." Tywin sighed angrily, annoyed by something. "...Ask Maester Creylen. I don't even want to breathe life into this news."

His father loved to talk, Jaime knew. He didn't have conversations. He talked at you, and you listened and agreed if you knew what was good for you. Jaime went to find Maester Creylen. His father had given Jaime the impression that the Maester knew of Tyrion, and if Tywin didn't like it, it was probably good news. He knocked on the door to the Maester's chamber, and then entered.

Maester Creylen struck Jaime as young. In truth he was middle aged, but compared to Grand Maester Pycelle, he was certainly young. There were still plenty of fair hairs on his head amongst the white ones. There were plenty of younger Maesters, however. Jaime bowed his head in greeting, but before he could speak, Creylen spoke first.

"You must have come because of the rumor. You and master Tyrion were always very close. There's a raven from your brother. He sent it from the Riverlands. The message said that he won his freedom by trial by combat, and is riding to Casterly rock with a small force of sellswords."

Jaime smiled. This was excellent news. One more lion was coming home.

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