Ondine
Lady Ondine Tarbeck
Gina McKee
Gina McKee as Ondine Tarbeck
Name: Ondine Tarbeck
Aliases: The Serpent Widow / The Serpent's Daughter
Faction: The Westerlands
Organization: House Lannister
Occupation: Lady Regent
Rank: Noble Lady
Age: Jan 9 92 (29)

Description

Tall and tough-looking for a noblewoman, Lady Tarbeck is evidently highborn, but only somewhat forbidding adjectives come to mind in describing her appearance. Her face is long and narrow, her dark stare caustic, her thin, mouse brown hair tightly bound up into a costly but plain head-dress. Her lips, thin in any case, are generally pursed in vitriolic scepticism. Her high-bridged nose has the sort of threatening hauteur that makes it look better for rending than sniffing. Her garments are clearly expensively, if indiscriminately, chosen, and her neck and throat are her most beautiful aspects, lucent with pallor and, between such a stern visage and such a spare figure, oddly tender-looking. From them emits a voice of strange and insidious timbre, low, crepuscular, but somehow impossible not to overhear.

Background

Lord Ganlon Lynderly, called by his foes and his admirers alike the Serpent of the Glade, was a Valelord of deep and subtle policy, never thought to have committed a rash deed, until he took his first wife, of House Hunter. Lady Galleotta was beautiful, on a certain, in a rather masterful way; well-dowered, and strong in body and mind; but had she a single wifely quality, gossips asked? Did she possess kindness, loyalty, wisdom, truth…safety? The answer soon appeared to be universally in the negative. Not long after bearing her lord husband a girl (and in truth, the Seven knew who had fathered her) the new Lady Lynderly broke her neck after a fall from a horse tearing at a speed all together too vigorous to settle suspicion. Some said the Serpent had had a hand in that, and they were the kindly ones.

Strangely, though, Lord Lynderly did not exploit the opportunity to find a fitter bride. Instead he reared his errant but lamented lady's daughter (who knows, perhaps his, too, after all), and seemed to consider her as the heir to Snakewood, as far all curious observers could discern. Lord Ganlon had acknowledged many base sons, several of them gallant knights grown, but he gave Lady Ondine first place above them all. All this, despite the facts that Lady Ondine's own legitimacy was doubted, that she seemed quite as troublesome as her mother, and a mite less good-looking, too. She was headstrong, spoilt, mannish…and the cynosure of the Serpent's affections. No lavishment of education or desire was spared her. By the time she flowered, with no betrothal in sight, there was vile talk that, as she wasn't Lord Ganlon's after all, mayhaps he'd even fallen for her as he had her mother. Certainly he kept her altogether too close.

Until the day when, in the hearing of half his court, Ondine Lynderly demanded a different destiny. 'Father. I see the way the highborn squires stare at me. I know well it is not for my meagre beauty. They think if they wed me they shall gain your lands and chattels.'

'And does that thought not please you, my daughter?'

'Please me? To be wed by some rustic lordling whose ambitions range only as far as Snakewood? Whose daughter do you take me for?'

'Why, your father's,' answered Lord Ganlon with a queer smile.

'Then act like him, whoever he was,' this maid of thirteen spat. 'Staunch the ill gossip, and save me from churlish fortune-hunters. Father, I beg you to take another bride.'

Not long afterwards, Lord Lynderly announced he was wedding again, among the Corbrays…and that his daughter was old enough to see something more of the world. She was to be sent for a time to lodge with some faraway kin, through her mother's line - the Red Lions of the West. The Reynes of Castamere.

Ondine was indubitably an outsider in the Westerlands, this odd, coltish creature from the Vale, with her violent moods, hard expressions, her utter dearth of graces. She rode as well as her mother had done, though unlike her mother not quite too well for her own good. But she showed not a hint of interest in more feminine arts. She threw a golden thimble and needle the Dowager Lady Lefford had given her as a courtesy down a passing village well. She danced with a fierceness that had never known teaching. She never once held her tongue, unless some poor fool begged her to sing with it. All in all, her Reyne kin swore she would have to turn Septa some day.

Thirteen years Ondine Lynderly had passed in Snakewood, and thirteen more she spent at Castamere. The Reynes were past all patience. Lord Lynderly was consulted and gave reluctant permission. One day when Ondine returned from a mountainous ride over to Tarbeck Hall, her cousin Lord Reyne presented her with the vellum document which bound her to the Faith, should she only give her consent. She smiled and informed Lord Reyne that though it pained her to refuse her father and her cousin, the matter was impossible. The document was invalid. For she had, that very day, become Ondine Tarbeck, Lady of Tarbeck Hall.

The outcry was immediate. Had she taken leave of her senses? Lord Tarbeck was an eldern, palsied man, with a young, healthy Crakehall wife living, to whom he was much devoted, and anyway no treaties for any match had been given. Ondine smiled a second, sharper time. The former Lady Tarbeck had declined and died after a sadly swift illness. The courtship and betrothal had, it was true, been swift too - a few hours all told - but Lord Tarbeck, she assured them, was a very ardent wooer. Now might her cousins be so good as to attend her wedding feast?

Tarbeck was the third House in the west, and many of its vassals cried disparagement when the match emerged. The deceased Lady Tarbeck had been a Crakehall, and the Crakehalls all accordingly stood fast against her upstart successor. The opinion of the nobility became still more aghast as, after a few weeks, it became clear that Lord Tarbeck had outlived the faculties of his mind. But Lady Ondine possessed a decisive card. The last Lady Tarbeck had, the previous year, born her husband a sole surviving son; and Ondine held this child, the undoubted Tarbeck heir.

She also held her ground. With the reluctant support of her Reyne cousinry, she defied Houses Crakehall, Prester, Swyft and Kayce. House Lannister, the overlord of them all, hesitated, uncertain when, or how, to interfere. The Tarbeck bannermen, astonishingly, all turned out in the end in their new outlander lady's cause. Reyne and Tarbeck together, not for the first or last time, made uncomfortable foes. Fighting flared up only rarely, and when it did, Lady Tarbeck's forces were rapid and unforgiving in victory. The alliance against the Serpent's Daughter began to crumble, as first one House, then another, would be tempted by the prospect of a betrothal and alliance with the little Tarbeck heir. Whenever Lady Ondine secured an advantage, rather than extracting land, strong points, or gold, she simply took noble hostages. Soon little Lord Tarbeck had accrued quite a few new playmates. For three years, this declining stalemate rumbled on.

In a crucial interlude of truce, a large body of armed men from the Vale, under Ser Mortain Stone, Ondine’s eldest bastard brother, were able to reinforce the Tarbeck lines. They were feasted at Tarbeck Hall amid wild rejoicing. Then everything seemed to happen at once. News of old Lord Tarbeck’s death emerged; then word that his lady was sick; perchance deathly ill, indeed. Ser Mortain Stone and Lord Reyne were said to be at loggerheads. Surely soon the Serpent Widow’s cause would be finished, and the Tarbeck boy would enjoy his own rights again, probably with honest Crakehall kinsfolk to steer his path?

Surely not. For now it seems that both Lady Ondine, Regent of Tarbeck, and her step-son, little Lord Astarion Tarbeck, all of four years of age, are, of all places, in Oldtown, the lady’s ‘illness’ having been a ruse to conceal a most swift and secret journey by sea. To add injury to insult, she’s taken all her highborn young western ‘wards’ with her. Lady Tarbeck has appealed to the wise and powerful House Hightower, and the bold chivalry of the Reach, for knights, champions, and, most of all, suitable matches – a new husband for her to safeguard her rights, and a well-born, richly dowered Lady Tarbeck for her step-son. And there’s one more little thing. Lady Ondine claims to be with child. By her late lord husband, of course.

Only one thing is certain. Back in Snakewood, far off in the Vale on the other coast of Westeros, the Serpent of the Glade is smiling on as only a viper can…

RP Hooks

- From the Vale? Ondine's father is a scandalously cunning Valelord. Her mother was a scandalously whorish Valelady. She herself is, well, just a scandal.

- From the West? Ondine lived quietly there for a while, but lately she seems to have shaken the place up a little.

- From the Reach? Ondine could use your sword right now.

- Mercenary? See above. Ondine can pay.

- Male and brave? Come and see her after school.

- Female and rich? Ondine has a very eligible four-year-old step-son she thinks you would get on with just fine.

- A Targaryen? Ondine doesn't care.

Quirks

Wealth: Comfortable - The Tarbecks are behind only the Lannisters and the Reynes in the west. The Regent of their House should be very rich indeed, but Lady Ondine currently has to spend just a little supplementary income on all the sellswords and freeriders she can possibly lay her hands on.

Swift Judgment - Throughout her varied career, Lady Ondine has been noticeably quick to make decisions; quicker than anyone else, anyway. Her enemies might complain she cares more about expediting justice than delivering it, but they'd mostly be missing tongues, gullets, or just heads by then.

Hard of Countenance - Lady Tarbeck does not, by any definition, have a friendly face. Her acerbic glances and stony expressions make the weak crumble and the strong fumble - for their swordbelts.

Infamous Family - Ondine may or may not be the daughter of Lord Ganlon Lynderly, 'the Serpent of the Glade', a noble known more for cunning than honour. She is certainly the daughter of Lady Galeotta Hunter, a noblewoman known for neither. She also has a wide array of maybe-half-brothers, vicious swordsmen to a man (or Stone).

Cold-Blooded Voluptuary - No one knows the precise details of Lady Tarbeck's amatory career, and it's quite possible that no one wants to know.

Collects Highborn Wards - Lady Tarbeck is accompanied in Oldtown by her beloved step-son, Lord Tarbeck, and his faithful foster-brothers and sisters, above a dozen nobly born children from Houses Kayce, Prester, Swyft, Serrett, Lydden, Algood, Bettley, Doggett, Estren, Falwell, Ferren, Garner, Hamell, and so on. A charitable and (step)motherly lady, sadly - thus far! - without a child of her own, Ondine is always looking for new hostages wards.

IC Events

Ondine Logs Related Logs
Logs featuring Ondine. Logs that refer to Ondine.

Relationships

NoImage_icon.jpg Lord Astarion Tarbeck
My most valuable possession - The key to my grip upon the third greatest domain in the west. Four years old. Also surprisingly amiable.

Gallery

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