The famine had hit the Westerlands hard. The price of bread had skyrocketed, causing the poor to turn on themselves. Children and old people were dying in the streets of Lannisport, though there had been reports from the countryside as well. Hunger swept over the land, causing an increase in criminal affairs and a decrease in profit and gain. On top of that, the harvest had been less than expected so the people were mostly dependent on what the fishermen and merchants could bring in.
However, the Ironborn were ever present. Reaving along the coastline, keeping a lot of ships from rolling in the Westerland port towns and Lannisport itself. No matter how many longboats the Lannister ships took out, there always seemed to be more of the sailing vermin.
All this had not made Douglas a happy man. He was seldomly a happy man. It seemed the absence of his only daughter, Elysa, had caused the little joy he had from her radiance to seep out, like snow under summer sun. She had said she would go to King’s Landing, in spite of his protests. Father and daughter were both known to be stubborn, obstinate even. It had been more of a notification than a request. The Lord of Casterly Rock had wanted to send a complement of knights or guards with, yet Elysa had refused. However, Elysa’s leaving had brought an opportunity to remove that abomination Maylark Swyft from Alester’s side.
The Old Lion was gritting his fangs. Aegon, fourth of his name, had insulted him for the last time. This time it was personal… Lord Douglas crumpled the piece of paper the raven had brought from the capital.
“You wanted to speak to me, father,” Alester said, entering the room situated in one of the higher solars of Casterly Rock. Recently, events had spiraled out of control. It was time to take action.
Lord Douglas offered his son, modestly dressed, a seat and poured him a cup of golden wine from the Arbor; golden wine for a golden lion.
Alester took a sip, furrowing his forehead lightly as he tried to assess what went on in his lord father’s head.
The Lord of Casterly Rock sucked on his molars. “Read.” His voice was grisly and Alester took hold of the paper.
“To my Lord Douglas Lannister of Casterly Rock and Warden of the West,
We have still not received the tithes entitled to Us. Yet We would think that the lovely lioness at Our court is as much a token of thine continued service as well as an incentive to adhere to thine obligations as Our vassal. We encourage you to heed our call.
Aegon IV of House Targaryen, King of the First Men, the Andals and the Rhoynar.”
Alester took a couple of sips from his silver cup, savouring the drink. Was he distilling the right message from between the lines? This was extremely… indecent. Unacceptable even, to the Lannister honour. What Aegon was implying was horrendous, despicable and Alester found his temper slipping him. His hands were new fists and he trembled with disbelief.
“Calm yourself, son.” Douglas said, seeming like an old inflexible branch defying a storm.
“Calm myself?” Alester asked incredulously. They had Elysa… and, by the Seven, Maylark. “The Tyrant threatens our sister’s wellbeing, demands tribute though he knows of our tribulations… He does nothing against the scum harrying our coasts while the corpses of starved children rot in the streets!” Alester’s youth made him dynamic and passionate, even in his anger. Douglas had not yet made his mind up if that was a forte or a weakness. His son spoke the truth though.
“I am aware of everything. However, now he has forced our hand. We cannot sit idly by and suffer this injustice toward our house any longer. I shall not allow it.” Lord Douglas’ blue eyes were cold as steel and his words were said almost devoid of emotion, which made them all the more ominous.
Ser Alester stood up, emptied the chalice of its contents. The wine tasted more like vinegar now though and his face was distorted in a silent sneer. The young lion took a few breaths to get rid of the feeling that his blood was boiling syrup. He wanted to blame his father for allowing his sister and Maylark to leave… Yet he knew he hadn’t been able to do anything about it. Once Elysa’s mind was made up…
“So, you are saying that…”
“They will hear my… our roar.”
Maester Elrik had a busy night ahead of him. A Lannister always paid his debts, now it was time for Aegon to pay his.