It had been a drunken comment, nothing more—or so he had thought.

"Fuck that, the Hand does more ruling than Aerys ever has."

But the Mad King hadn't taken kindly to that. Actually, Ilyn still wasn't sure how Aerys had even found out about it… But now he knelt before the throne, humbled, head bowed, waiting for Aerys to decide what to do with him.

"You spoke against me," Aerys wheezed. "Such harsh, harsh words, from one I thought loyal to me…. Promise me, Ser Ilyn, that you will never say such things again."

"Of course, your grace…. I would never, never…."

"NOT GOOD ENOUGH!" The king shrieked the words at him, spittle flying from his lips as his beady violet eyes darted around the room. "You will, Ilyn Payne, I know it!" A low, vaguely threatening chuckle escaped him. "You will be punished! Punished like all who speak against me!" He raised one thin, gnarled hand, and three knights—Ilyn's own men—stepped forward. Two of them grabbed his arms, and the third crossed to a brazier, reaching for something…

"I hereby strip you of the title of Captain of the Guard… Hee hee hee…. And your tongue."

His what?! Ilyn began thrashing against the men holding him then.


Aerys had chosen the two biggest brutes on the Kingsguard to hold him; Ilyn couldn't break their grip with any amount of pulling or thrashing. "Your grace, I beg you, by whatever honor I have left, please…."

"NOT GOOD ENOUGH," Aerys shrieked again, cackling. The two men holding him tightened their grip, and the man by the brazier pulled a pair of pincers, glowing red-hot, from the flames. He strode over, grabbed Ilyn's jaw with his free hand, and forced it open.

The former Captain of the Guard thrashed, jerking his head about, but all to no avail. The man's grip was firm, and in what was easily the longest moment of his life, he watched the pincers find their way into his mouth.

All he knew after that was searing pain as the pincers found his tongue. His eyes screwed shut, and he heard himself screaming, felt his flesh beginning to blister, felt the metal biting deeper and deeper into his tongue… But that was all he knew. He could no longer feel the hands holding his arms or his jaw, couldn't hear the crowd gathered around him, couldn't taste the blood in his mouth, or smell the burnt flesh….

The next thing he knew, he was on the ground, curled into a ball, tears streaming hot and bitter down his face as choked, strangled sobs escaped his throat. He felt a pair of arms underneath his, hoisting him up to his knees, and then he saw Aerys standing before him.

"You will never speak against me again, Ser." He paused ever-so-slightly. "Get him out of my sight."

The form behind him hefted him to his feet and helped him turn around, keeping a supportive arm around his back.

"You're alright, Ser Ilyn." The voice of young Jaime Lannister was soft, reassuring… Ilyn could think of nothing he would rather hear at that moment in time. "You're alright. I'll take you to the Maester."

Lannister led him from the throne room, and as soon as the door was closed firmly behind them, Ilyn hit the ground on his knees again, pounding the ground with his fists, attempting desperately to speak, to scream, to yell… But his throat was hoarse, his mouth hurt, and all that came out was a garbled, rasping sound that even he couldn't make heads or tails of. He felt tears sting at his eyes, unwelcome and unbidden, and then Lannister was lifting him off the ground again and all but dragging him up the stairs. The boy was surprisingly strong for being so young, Ilyn realized suddenly, unsure of why that thought in particular sprang into his head, but he didn't bother pursuing the path any further. He focused instead on putting one foot in front of the other, dragging himself along next to Lannister until they reached the Maester's chambers, where he was immediately given more dreamwine and milk of the poppy than he really believed was in any way necessary.

When he woke, his mouth was so dry that it felt as though it had been stuffed with linens—and a quick glance in the mirror told him that it had. He ripped it all out furiously, letting out a strangled scream of rage at the scabbed-over mess that was his mouth. The Maester came running in to try to soothe him, to get him to take more dreamwine, to try to stuff more bandages in his mouth, but Ilyn would have none of it. He wrenched away and stormed off to his own room, slamming the door firmly behind him.

He didn't come out for nearly a week, and when he did, it was obvious something had changed. He hadn't shaved, his clothing was so wrinkled and stained that he couldn't have possibly changed it at all… And there was a new recklessness to him that frightened nearly all the castle staff. He simply didn't seem to care. He carried his greatsword with him constantly, and would draw it at the drop of a hat, ready to run it through anyone who so much as looked at him funny. The Ilyn Payne who had been Captain of the Guard was gone—but no one was really sure what had replaced him.