The king’s master of whisperers, Varys is a eunuch born in the Free City of Lys, across the Narrow Sea. He was brought to court by King Aerys, and it’s said that Aerys’s growing paranoia began when Varys began to ferret out every disloyalty against the Mad King. Despite this, Varys survived Aerys’s downfall and came to serve King Robert. He is known derisively as the Spider, even if he sits on the king’s small council and holds the style of Lord Varys.
Plump, perfumed, powdered, hairless as an egg, and wearing garments such as they wear in Lys, Varys cuts an exotic figure in the court of the Red Keep. He has soft, moist hands, and often titters as he speaks obliquely and sometimes mincingly about his “little birds” and the whispers they bring them.
Varys meets Catelyn Stark under Littlefinger’s aegis after her arrival in King’s Landing, and seems interested in helping her and then Ned Stark. Varys presents himself to Ned as someone who genuinely wants what is best for the realm, warning him of the Lannisters and their attempts to have Robert killed. However, at the same time Arya overhears him (without realizing his identity) as he meets in secret with Ilyrio Mopatis beneath the Red Keep , discussing the death of Jon Arryn and other matters. Varys stands by and watches as Eddard’s plans are overturned and he is arrested, but he meets in secret with Ned in the black cells—wearing a disguise as if he were a gaoler—and urges him to recant his accusations and to acknowledge Joffrey as the rightful king, so as to prevent war and harm to his daughters. When Eddard does so, however, Joffrey has Eddard killed despite promising otherwise; Varys joins Cersei in protesting the killing. In the aftermath, Varys and Littlefinger discuss that matters that have taken place at court… and reveal their mutual enmity and respect.