Holding the office of King’s Justice, which is the title of the royal executioner, Ser Ilyn Payne once served as captain of the guard to Lord Tywin. A boast regarding his master’s influence over the Mad King led Aerys to have his tongue torn out. Payne has become a frightening figure: tall, mostly bald with a few very long wisps of hair, gaunt, grim, and with very piercing and frightening eyes. Without a tongue, he cannot speak, but he occasionally laughs in a disconcerting manner. His armor and clothing is plain and not well-cared for, but his executioner’s sword is.
Ser Ilyn frightens Sansa Stark with his mute, staring visage, leading Joffrey to send him away. After Robert’s death and Eddard Stark’s arrest, Ser Ilyn exacts punishments as Joffrey directs, including cutting out the tongue of the singer Marillion. Ser Ilyn then acts as executioner when Lord Eddard is killed at Joffrey’s command.