“Kingslayer,” he pronounced carefully. “And such a king he was!” He lifted his cup. “To Aerys Targaryen, the Second of His Name, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm. And to the sword that opened his throat. A golden sword, don’t you know. Until his blood ran red down the blade. Those are the Lannister colors, red and gold.”
“Answer me this, Lady Stark—did your Ned ever tell you the manner of his father’s death? Or his brother’s?”
“They strangled Brandon while his father watched, and then killed Lord Rickard as well.”
“Killed, yes, but how?”
“The cord or the axe, I suppose.
“Brandon was different from his brother, wasn’t he? He had blood in his veins instead of cold water. More like me.”
“Brandon was nothing like you.”
“If you say so. You and he were to wed.”
“He was on his way to Riverrun when . . .” Strange, how telling it still made her throat grow tight, after all these years. “. . . when he heard about Lyanna, and went to King’s Landing instead. It was a rash thing to do.” She remembered how her own father had raged when the news had been brought to Riverrun. The gallant fool, was what he called Brandon.
Jaime poured the last half cup of wine. “He rode into the Red Keep with a few companions, shouting for Prince Rhaegar to come out and die. But Rhaegar wasn’t there. Aerys sent his guards to arrest them all for plotting his son’s murder. The others were lords’ sons too, it seems to me.”
“Ethan Glover was Brandon’s squire,” Catelyn said. “He was the only one to survive. The others were Jeffory Mallister, Kyle Royce, and Elbert Arryn, Jon Arryn’s nephew and heir.” It was queer how she still remembered the names, after so many years. “Aerys accused them of treason and summoned their fathers to court to answer the charge, with the sons as hostages. When they came, he had them murdered without trial. Fathers and sons both.”
“There were trials. Of a sort. Lord Rickard demanded trial by combat, and the king granted the request. Stark armored himself as for battle, thinking to duel one of the Kingsguard. Me, perhaps. Instead they took him to the throne room and suspended him from the rafters while two of Aerys’s pyromancers kindled a blaze beneath him. The king told him that fire was the champion of House Targaryen. So all Lord Rickard needed to do to prove himself innocent of treason was . . . well, not burn.
“When the fire was blazing, Brandon was brought in. His hands were chained behind his back, and around his neck was a wet leathern cord attached to a device the king had brought from Tyrosh. His legs were left free, though, and his longsword was set down just beyond his reach.
“The pyromancers roasted Lord Rickard slowly, banking and fanning that fire carefully to get a nice even heat. His cloak caught first, and then his surcoat, and soon he wore nothing but metal and ashes. Next he would start to cook, Aerys promised . . . unless his son could free him. Brandon tried, but the more he struggled, the tighter the cord constricted around his throat. In the end he strangled himself.
“As for Lord Rickard, the steel of his breastplate turned cherry-red before the end, and his gold melted off his spurs and dripped down into the fire. I stood at the foot of the Iron Throne in my white armor and white cloak, filling my head with thoughts of Cersei. After, Gerold Hightower himself took me aside and said to me, ‘You swore a vow to guard the king, not to judge him.’ That was the White Bull, loyal to the end and a better man than me, all agree.”
“Aerys . . .” Catelyn could taste bile at the back of her throat. The story was so hideous she suspected it had to be true. “Aerys was mad, the whole realm knew it, but if you would have me believe you slew him to avenge Brandon Stark . . .”
“I made no such claim. The Starks were nothing to me. I will say, I think it passing odd that I am loved by one for a kindness I never did, and reviled by so many for my finest act.”
“Here’s to Aerys Targaryen, the second of his name, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, Protector of the Realm… and to the sword I shoved in his back.”
so many vows, they make you swear and swear… defend the king, obey the king, obey your father, protect the innocent, defend the weak.. and what if your father despises the king? what if the king massacres the innocent? it’s too much. no matter what you do, you’re forsaking one vow or another.