Twenty million gold Dragons. It was an impressive sum, even for a Lannister.
“And you’re sure Father doesn’t know?” Jaime asked for the twentieth time.
He and Tyrion, the infamous Lannister brothers with more than infamous reputations, stood side by side in front of the impressive glass case in the middle of the largest exhibition hall in the middle of the Red Keep Museum of National Treasures. The hall had once been the Throne Room before that same throne had been destroyed as the last relic of the old era.
The middle era had begun with the crafting of the object inside the glass case. It was the master example of its kind, expertly worked solid gold both powerful and delicate, shaped into a circlet that had once graced the brows of forty rulers over a dynasty of a thousand years. The front of the circlet held a golden lion, with jewels on every toe of its two front paws, jewels in its mane, and one of the largest rubies in existence at the top of its head. And between those bejeweled paws, at the very center of this magnificent crown, was a glittering star sapphire of most pure blue.
It was a jewel that was supposed to be the exact color of the first Lannister Queen’s eyes. Jaime did not believe that for one second. It was merely a nice story about a beautiful woman who was beloved by her husband-King and her people.
But the Crown was stunning. No one could deny that. It would draw crowds by the tens of thousands as the museum expected. It would restore some respect to the Lannister name as his Father expected. Assuming no one found out the truth.
Tyrion sighed. Again. “Yes, I’m sure. As I’ve told you a hundred times, Grandfather’s records were still sealed. I opened them myself. Father never saw what Tytos did.”
Jaime was still struggling to comprehend that the most prized possession of the entire Lannister family was half a fraud. Tyrion, being the brother who ended up with every terrible job their father Tywin ever required, had completed his survey of their deceased grandfather’s records the day after the Crown had been sent by armored car to the museum to be put on display for the first time in a hundred years. Tytos had never allowed it. Understandable considering that Tytos Lannister had replaced all the precious jewels in the Crown with paste copies, selling each and every stone in private auctions to pay off the family debts.
And now they were all in enormous trouble. The exhibition would open in two weeks, right before the inspector from Volantis would arrive to examine the Crown and confirm its authenticity for the twenty million gold Dragon insurance policy.
That inspector could not see the Crown. It wasn’t about the family name or restoring reputation, no. It was about Tyrion.
Tywin Lannister was not a kind man, and Jaime thought that Tywin hated his dwarf son the most of any man living. It wouldn’t matter that Tyrion had learned of Tytos’ folly too late to stop the Crown’s transfer. Tywin would blame Tyrion, and any money required to pay restitution would be taken from Tyrion’s meager legacy, which wasn’t nearly enough to pay the sum required by the authenticity contract.
For the Lannister Crown was not ordinary and therefore did not have ordinary ownership. When the last Lannister king stepped down to bring about the new era of representational government, he had bequeathed the Crown to the nation as a symbol of its history and of the two families who had so fundamentally shaped it into an era of good.
The Lannisters were given one-third ownership and the position of protector for the priceless object. Another third was owned by the Tarth family, the old and wise line whose warrior queen had birthed their joint royal line.
And the final third was owned by Westeros herself. If the Crown were found to be false, both the Lannisters and the Tarths would have to pay ten million gold Dragons. Each.
Jaime knew Father would take the Lannister share out of Tyrion’s hide, and whatever reputation their family had would be gone. While Jaime had only met Selwyn Tarth during the exhibition negotiations he could tell the enormous and jovial old man certainly had no large bank account to rely upon. The Tarths had become common people over time, their name and their island all that remained of their ancient wealth, apart from their stake in the Crown.
“Do you agree, Jaime?” Tyrion’s voice pierced his heavy thoughts.
“You know I don’t. And you know I can see no other way.” Jaime hated to admit it. It didn’t feel right, but in order to do right by Tyrion at all, and to some extent, good ol’ Selwyn Tarth, he really couldn’t find another path. And the gods knew he had tried.
Tyrion cleared his throat. “Then I’ll get the key from Father. Somehow.”
“And I’ll go to Tarth.” Jaime shut his eyes against the sight of the Crown, gleaming in its repose on a red velvet cushion.
In order to access the Crown within its state-of-the-art secure case, three keys had to be used at the same time. The Lannisters held one. The Tarth’s, another. The third was held by the mayor of King’s Landing. They would have to get that key, somehow.
“So we’re really going to steal our own Crown,” Jaime said in complete resignation.
Tyrion bumped his hip with one shoulder. “We’re going to steal our own Crown.”