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Recap / A Dance with Dragons

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A recap of A Dance with Dragons, fifth volume in the fantasy epic by George R. R. Martin, A Song of Ice and Fire.

As mentioned, Dance features Simultaneous Arcs with A Feast for Crows, and is (chronologically) a direct sequel to A Storm of Swords. Therefore, most of the narrators in Feast do not appear in the first portions of Dance. However, this novel eventually overtakes that one, at which point a few characters do transition over.

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Special credit to AOL user vbkorik27, whose synopses, archived at A Wiki of Ice and Fire, were instrumental (and, in some cases, copy-pasted outright) in the creation of this Recap.

Prologue

The chapter begins from the perspective of a skinchanger in the body of a wolf. The warg leads a small pack on a hunt, hunting free folk fugitives for food.

After the kill, the warg returns to his human body: that of Varamyr Sixskins. Like many other of the free folk, he had fled after their defeat at Castle Black, and later was stabbed by a wildling after he attempted to loot the corpse of the boy's mother.

He thinks back over his youth when he was still called Lump. As a youth, he had slipped into one of his father's dogs. The dogs killed Bump, his little brother, and Varamyr remembers his brother looking at him and knowing. Because his father did not know which dog had killed Bump, he killed them all.

When the last dog was killed, Lump — who was in him — screamed, which betrayed his ability. His parents then brought Lump to Haggon, another skinchanger. Haggon raised Lump and taught him about skinchangers, although Lump did not adopt his morals, particularly regarding what Haggon describes as abominations: eating the flesh of man while inside an animal, mating with a beast while inside one, and seizing the body of a human. When Haggon died, Varamyr drove him out of his wolf Greyskin to claim the wolf for himself.

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Varamyr wakes up from his memories when Thistle returns. As he knows that his body is dying, he turns on his companion to take over her body. She struggles and eventually manages to escape his control. As his human body dies, he half regrets trying to take over Thistle's body, but also half regrets failing at that. He awakens in the body of one of his wolves.

Later, his pack discovers Thistle. Frozen blood clings to her — she has become a wight. As her blue eyes stare into his wolf eyes, he knows she sees him.

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Tyrion I

Tyrion is in the cabin of a ship fleeing across the Narrow Sea, perpetually drunk and wracked with guilt over his betrayal of the Lannisters and murder of his father, as well as his anxiety over the fate of Tysha, whom he now knows to be the only woman ever to have truly loved him.

He finds himself in Pentos, in the home of Magister Illyrio Mopatis. Illyrio has taken him in as a favor to Varys, but opines he has high hopes Tyrion and he will become great friends. (Tyrion, for his part, trusts Illyrio as far as he can throw him.) Tyrion spends a day wandering around Illyrio's home, looking for an avenue of escape and unable to find one. He is considering going to Dorne and crowning Myrcella as queen, as Oberyn had previously suggested. But with Oberyn dead, Tyrion fears that Prince Doran Martell will not want to proceed with the plan, and that he is more likely to arrest and send Tyrion back to King's Landing. Tyrion then considers fleeing to the Wall, but fears that Janos Slynt will kill him for revenge. He discovers a patch of poisonous mushrooms and picks them before heading back and drinking himself into a stupor.

When he reawakens, a courtesan of Illyrio's, who has been assigned to Tyrion, has Tyrion bathed for dinner before offering her body after he's dined. Tyrion proclaims himself done with whores. As he dines with Illyrio, the magister gives Tyrion an Info Dump about recent events on Essos; however, a dish cooked of mushrooms brings out Tyron's Death Seeker mentality, which Illyrio mocks him for. He agrees Tyrion has lost everything, but what he's lost at the hand of one monarch, another could restore.

Illyrio informs Tyrion that Stannis is at the Wall, and says that neither Stannis at the Wall nor Myrcella in Dorne is a viable candidate for support in the game of thrones. Mopatis claims that Westeros is in need of a savior from across the sea, one who can heal the wounds the wars have inflicted. When Tyrion asks who that would be, he replies: "A dragon with three heads."

Daenerys I

The Queen of Meereen is presented with the body of Stalwart Shield, one of her Unsullied soldiers. Stalwart Shield was killed by the Sons of the Harpy, the first of her soldiers to be killed. Ser Barristan Selmy, Lord Commander of her Queensguard, warns that he will not be the last.

Daenerys orders an investigation into the matter; she has only the Unsullied, even though they make poor detectives, as the Dothraki are gone from the city, attempting to subdue the hinterlands. As to her PrivateMilitaryContractor, the Second Sons are guarding the city against incursion from Yunkai, and the Stormcrows are attempting to make alliance with the Lhazareen. She notes that her dragons have been growing larger and wilder, almost they are almost large enough to ride, and wonders if she has left them too much to themselves.

On her way to hold court, she is met by Reznak mo Reznak, her seneschal, and Skahaz mo Kandaq. They have heard what happened to Stalwart Shield. Skahaz, a Meereenese nobleman who has "put the old Meereen behind him to accept the new", symbolized his change by shaving his head of its customary Meereenese coiffure; he and his followers, "the shavepates", are regarded as The Quisling by the Harpy's Sons.

Skahaz is convinced that the noble Meereenese slave-owning families are behind the attack, and suggests making an example by killing one man of each family now, and two more the next time one of her soldiers is killed. Reznak is horrified by the suggestion, and insists that the murderer will prove to be baseborn. Daenerys orders them to increase the reward offered for a Harpy's Son, and leaves to hold court.

She is still fending off Lord Ghael, the Astapori envoy sent by King Cleon; he has proposed marriage (on behalf of his king) several times, but now suggests their cities ally against Yunkai, which almost immediately re-adopted slavery. Cleon is, of course, Not So Different, and she suggests to the ambassador that he (Cleon) feed the people in his starving city before sending them out into war.

The next petitioner is Hizdahr zo Loraq, a wealthy Meereenese noble. For the sixth time, Daenerys refuses to grant him his wish of opening the fighting pits of Meereen. Daenerys recalls that Reznak and the Green Grace have been urging her to take a Meereenese noble for her husband in order to reconcile the city to her rule, and thinks Hizdahr an option.

The day ends with petitions made by shepherds claiming that her dragons have devoured their animals; some have even brought burned bones as proof, and are mostly satisfied with offers of recompense on the morrow. However, one man wordlessly empties his sack before them. Though some of her courtiers berate the man for being unsatisfied with the monetary compensation, Barristan and Daenerys realize that the bones do not belong to an animal. They belong — belongedto a child.

Jon I

In Jon's dream, he sees through the eyes of his direwolf, Ghost, who is hunting in the woods somewhere south of the Wall. In the dream, Ghost is aware of the presence of the other Stark direwolves Nymeria, Shaggydog and Summer. Jon is awakened from the dream by Jeor Mormont's raven and is greeted by Dolorous Edd.

Edd tells Jon that two more wildlings showed up at Castle Black, a mother and her young daughter, but the mother's infant son was dead. Edd tells Jon that they fed the mother and her daughter and put them into Stannis's custody, burning the baby's body.

This prompts Jon to brood on his fear that Melisandre may burn living children for spells. Initially, Jon dismissed that this would happen but Maester Aemon had warned Jon it would, "There is power in a king’s blood," the old maester had warned, "and better men than Stannis have done worse things than this." Jon still has trouble believing Stannis would ever do such a thing, ""The king can be harsh and unforgiving, aye, but a babe still on the breast? Only a monster would give a living child to the flames."

Jon also ruminates on his wolf dreams, that they are becoming more vivid and more frequent. He reflects that Ghost knows that Grey Wind is dead, killed along with Robb at the Red Wedding, while Jon's other brothers Bran and Rickon had been murdered at the behest of Theon Greyjoy. Jon wonders, since his other brothers' wolves are still alive, if part of Bran and Rickon survive in them.

Though now the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, Jon resides in the old quarters of Donal Noye, since Stannis occupies the King’s Tower and the Lord Commander’s Tower has burned down. Jon heads off to treat with King Stannis, who has requested his presence.

As Jon crosses the yard, he gives advice to sparring recruits and is challenged to a duel by Ser Godry Farringnote , from Stannis’ retinue, but ignores the challenge. On the steps up, he runs into Sam before finally arriving at the King's Tower.

Stannis has been unsuccessful in seeking allegiance from the lords of the North; the latest rejection letter is from Lyanna Mormont. So far, the only house to have declared for him is House Karstark. Stannis asks for gold from the Night's Watch to pay off Salladhor Saan. Jon recommends he take White Harbor for that, but Stannis dismisses its lord, Wyman Manderly, as fat and useless.

With wildling refugees still seeking shelter south of the Wall, they discuss Mance Rayder, whom Stannis intends to burn as a deserter, his wife's sister Val, and his child. Jon mentions that Gilly is acting as wet nurse for her own child and Mance's, and that he plans to send her and her babe away south. Stannis approves once he learns that Gilly's child was born of incest.

Stannis is demanding lands and castles from the Night's Watch. Jon has already ceded land in The Gift, and refuses to let him have the castles, noting it will generate outrage amongst the north if Stannis starts handing out land and castles belonging to the Watch as seats for his vassals. He offers instead to have his own officers man the abandoned forts, to command Stannis' men as a garrison. Stannis grumbles and threatens Jon before allowing him to leave.

Melisandre, the priestess of R'hllor, follows Jon out from the meeting. Jon is wary of her but she warns him not to refuse her friendship, saying that she has seen him in her visions. Underneath the Wall, she tells him to be wary of foes behind his back and daggers in the dark. Jon assures her he is aware he has enemies in the Watch, to which Melisandre replies "You know nothing, Jon Snow".

Bran I

Bran is making his way through the haunted forest, in search of the three-eyed crow, accompanied by the Reeds, Hodor, and Coldhands. Bran skinchanges into Summer frequently, and even into Hodor, although Hodor seems to dislike the experience. Coldhands is riding on an elk and is accompanied by ravens. Jojen is becoming ill and weak.

Coldhands stops to deal with "foes" he refuses to name, backtracking while the others continue on. Meera points out that they have never seen Coldhand's breath even in the icy weather — and he does not eat, or drink, or sleep. Bran points out that Coldhands saved Sam and Gilly from wights, so they must trust him.

Bran enters Summer in order to find an abandoned wildling village for shelter. As they rest, Jojen refuses to eat despite his weakness, telling his sister that this is not the day he dies. All four of them are near starving, but they refrain from lighting a fire at Coldhand's instruction.

Sleepless, Bran enters Summer on the hunt, who has found the corpses of five men — and the wolf pack that found them first. Summer/Bran squares off for a fight against the leader of the pack, seeing in his eyes that he is, in fact, a warg like him. Bran/Summer defeats the pack leader, making the pack his and giving him the choice parts of the dead men. The dead men are in black — men of the Night's Watch.

Bran awakens to a fire — Coldhands has killed a pig for them, and as the dawn is near he allows them to light a fire to roast it. Bran asks Coldhands, who fears the flames, what happened to the foes. Coldhands replies that they will not trouble him — he does not deny that they are dead at his hand. Only Jojen pays attention when Bran asks who they were — but he already knows they were men of the Night's Watch.

Bran asks the ranger about his black hands, and he tells Bran that the blood runs into a man's extremities and congeals once he is dead. Meera demands to see his face, which he refuses. Bran notes that he could not pass beyond the Wall and its enchantments.

Meera asks who the three-eyed crow is, and Coldhands replies, "A friend. Dreamer, wizard, call him what you will. The last greenseer". Meera asks Jojen if he has dreamed this and he says they have come too far to go back now.

Tyrion II

Tyrion has been smuggled out of Pentos inside the litter of Illyrio Mopatis, and they are now on their way to the Rhoyne. Illyrio explains that Tyrion and a sellsword called Griff will meet Daenerys in Volantis, while he remains to "smooth the way" for them in Pentos. Illyrio tells Tyrion that Daenerys has need of cunning men such as him, but Tyrion is suspicious: why does Illyrio have a stake in helping Daenerys claim the Iron Throne?

Instead of answering, the merchant tells of how when he first met her, Daenerys was young and fearful and her brother Viserys was foolish and greedy, and Mopatis had to post guards on her door to prevent her brother from "undoing years of planning" by entering her chambers and raping her before she was given to Khal Drogo. He recounts how the meek little girl he knew was reborn in the Dothraki sea as a true Targaryen, before turning to Slaver's Bay, conquering Astapor, cowing Yunkai and sacking Meereen. He now expects her to make her way to Volantis — where she will meet Tyrion and Griff with enough forces to carry her to Westeros.

Tyrion presses Illyrio, wanting to know why a slaver city like Volantis and a man such as Illyrio would want to assist Daenerys, and he says that her brother promised him the position of Master of Coin and the castle of his choice. Tyrion also demands to know how he is friends with Varys, and Illyrio gives Tyrion an Info Dump on how the two of them worked together during their youth in Pentos — with Varys spying on and stealing from other thieves, then passing their takings onto Illyrio, who would return the goods to their rightful owners for a fee.

Coming to the realisation that information is power, Varys trained a network of spiesyoung boys and girls — to steal information, and eventually the two of them became influential enough that Illyrio was able to marry the daughter of the cousin of the Prince of Pentos, and Varys was sought by Aerys II Targaryen in his paranoia for the post of Master of Whisperers.

Over several more days' travel through Andalos, Illyrio tells Tyrion that he has managed to persuade the Golden Company, the most highly regarded sellsword army in Essos, to break their contract with Myr and instead accompany Daenerys. When Tyrion questions how Illyrio convinced the Golden Company — a group that has spent most of its history warring with the Targaryensnote  — to side with Daenerys, the magister reminds Tyrion that the Blackfyre Pretenders are no more and that Daenerys can give the company of exiles what the Blackfyres never could: she can finally take them home.

After Tyrion recounts the story of Hugor of the Hill, a prominent figure in the lore of the Faith of the Seven which originated in Andalos, he tells Illyrio that he had originally intended to become High Septon before he met and married Tysha. Illyrio likewise has a story of a Lysene bed slave named Serra, his second wife, who he loved enough to free her from slavery and marry, before she died during an outbreak of the grey plague in Pentos. As they continue to travel, Tyrion's thoughts turn to Shae, and to Tysha.

The Merchant's Man

Quentyn Martell, eldest son of the Prince Doran Martell of Dorne, is in Volantis, disguised as a wineseller's servant. He and his companion are attempting to book a passage to Meereen aboard ship, but even in the massive port of Volantis, they are unable to find a single ship willing to risk the trip to Slaver's Bay while there is war brewing and the slave trade and fighting pits are both terminated.

Quentyn is anxious trying to get to Daenerys in Meereen as his father commanded, intent on marrying hernote . He has heard that she is the most beautiful woman in the world.

Quentyn is accompanied by his friends Gerris Drinkwater, acting as his merchant master, and Archibald Yronwood. On the trip from Dorne aboard the Meadowlark they were attacked by corsairs from the Disputed Lands, losing their Maester Kedry, Willam Wells, and Quentyn's dear friend Cletus Yronwood. Quentyn feels their loss keenly, and feels in dire need of his missing maester's counsel.

Quentyn and Gerris meet with the captain of the Adventure, a smuggler's ship, who agrees to take them to Meereen only if they are prepared to pay three times the normal fare — for each of them. Quentyn knows that the man simply plans to take their money and either kill them or enslave them at the first chance he gets. However, the only other option is travel by land along the so-called demon road, which is tantamount to suicide.

The pair debate whether they should give up their quest and return to Dorne, or attempt to travel to Meereen overland via the demon road. Quentyn is anxious not to have any more deaths on his conscience, but he feels his duty to Dorne and to his father is too important to turn back.

They travel through the streets to the Merchant's House to meet with Archibald Yronwood (who's been recovering from a lengthy bout of seasickness). Along the way, they encounter a party of recruiters from the sellsword company the Windblown, who are recruiting soldiers as they head to Yunkai to war against Astapor and Meereen. Quentyn tells him that they have no choice but to board Adventure — but Archibald says there is another way to Meereen, less honorable, but faster than the demon road ...

Jon II note 

Jon summons Gilly and, despite his own misgivings, forces her to give up her own child and take Mance Rayder's baby away with her, disguised as her own. A horrified Gilly begs Jon not to make her do this, but Jon tells her that Melisandre will burn the child for the purposes of a spell, as Mance was King-Beyond-The-Wall and Melisandre (as well as others) believe the blood of kings has magical powers.

When Gilly voices her concerns for her own child, Jon is certain her son will be safe, as he does not have any king's blood and Stannis would not burn an innocent for no reason. He promises Gilly her son will be cared for, raised under his protection, and when her son is old enough, he can find Gilly if he wishes. A distraught Gilly realizes that because her son will be raised by Jon and the Night's Watch, he'll grow up a "crow". She tearfully refuses to be separated from her son. As his final resort, Jon tells Gilly if she refuses to do this, her own son will die the day Mance's does.

Soon after she leaves, Sam arrives; after a brief discussion regarding what they know of the Others and how to stop such monsters, Jon tells Sam that he is sending Sam to the Citadel so he can train to become a maester and replace Maester Aemon after he passes. Sam will travel by sea from Eastwatch, along with Gilly, the baby, and Maester Aemon.

Sam is afraid of becoming a maester, remembering his father's wrath at the idea. Jon is puzzled by Sam's reluctance, certain Sam would be happy about this as he'd be surrounded by books at the Citadel, and assures Sam he'll do well there. Sam is still scared, he'll have to train to be a healer too and he doesn't like blood. Jon reminds Sam he has more bravery than he gives himself credit for — after all, he killed an Other. When Sam stutters that was the dragonglass, Jon begins to lose his patience and snaps that [Sam] schemed to make Jon Lord Commander, now Sam will do as he commands.

When Sam pleads with Jon that he is afraid of his father, Jon forces himself to be firm with Sam, telling him that his father is no longer a concern, Sam's family is now the brothers of the Night's Watch. He tells Sam to stop calling himself a coward, that Sam has already faced more than most men have in a lifetime. When Sam asks Jon if Maester Aemon knows, Jon replies this all was as much Maester Aemon's idea as his.

An upset Sam leaves him, and an exhausted Jon reflects on the plans he made with Maester Aemon the night prior. He broods on Maester Aemon's words to him:

"Allow me to give my lord one last piece of counsel," the old man had said, "the same counsel that I once gave my brother when we parted for the last time. He was three-and-thirty when the Great Council chose him to mount the Iron Throne. A man grown with sons of his own, yet in some ways still a boy. Egg had an innocence to him, a sweetness we all loved. Kill the boy within you, I told him the day I took ship for the Wall. It takes a man to rule. An Aegon, not an Egg. Kill the boy and let the man be born." The old man felt Jon’s face. "You are half the age that Egg was, and your own burden is a crueler one, I fear. You will have little joy of your command, but I think you have the strength in you to do the things that must be done. Kill the boy, Jon Snow. Winter is almost upon us. Kill the boy and let the man be born."

Jon makes his rounds of Castle Black to visit the men, during which he hears a report from Dywen and Kedge Whiteye that two of the queen's men, Ser Richard Horpe and Ser Justin Massey, were seen riding off to the south. Jon concludes Stannis has likely sent them out as emissaries to nearby northern lords.

The next morning, Jon wakes early to see off Sam, Gilly, and Maester Aemon, as they depart for Eastwatch. Maester Aemon tells Jon to read the passage he marked for him in the Jade Compendium and Jon promises he will. Gilly makes Jon swear he will not name "Mance's" son until he reaches two years old and that he will do everything for the child that he promised her. Jon gives Gilly his word.

Sam and Jon say their farewells and Jon wishes Sam a safe, swift, voyage. Looking at Sam, Jon remembers having to say good-bye to Robb at Winterfell. Sam notices the sad smile on Jon's face.

Jon then meets with ranger Bedwyck (known in the ranks by the Ironic Nickname Giant). Jon tells Bedwyck that he is putting a garrison in the abandoned way-castle Icemark and giving him command of it. Both of them assert the danger of wildlings climbing over and creating a toehold for the rest, referring to Raymun Redbeard having done just that to bypass the Wallnote .

Jon says he is intending to garrison all of the castles on the Wall, but for the time being, only Icemark and Greyguard. When he learns that Janos Slynt is to command Greyguard, Bedwyck urges Jon to choose someone more trustworthy.

Half the morning passes before Lord Janos reports as commanded, escorted by Kegs and Dolorous Edd. Despite his hatred of Slynt for his part in Ned Stark's downfall, Jon is willing to overlook that and informs Slynt he is being given command of Greyguard (partly in light of Slynt's years commanding the City Watch, but primarily to break up Slynt's Villainous Friendship with Alliser Thorne). But Slynt, outraged by the notion a mere bastard can command him (he was Lord of Harrenhal, after all!) curses him and storms out.

Jon hopes he might think better of it by the morning, but his hopes are dashed when Jon finds Slynt breaking his fast in the common room. Jon announces that he is giving Slynt one last chance to drop his spoon and report to the stables to depart for Greyguard. After Slynt refuses him again and mocks him in front of his men and Stannis' men, Jon, having had enough, instructs Iron Emmett and Edd to take Slynt to the Wall and hang him.

As Slynt is being dragged out, insisting that Jon won't dare hang him, Jon changes his mind and orders a block brought so he can behead Slynt himself with Longclaw. Realizing his commander's threats are Not Hyperbole with his head on the block, Slynt desperately begs Jon for mercy. Jon refuses and carries out the execution. Watching from the steps of the King's Tower, Stannis meets Jon's eyes and nods briefly in approval.

Tyrion III

As dawn breaks, Tyrion awakes to find the litter has stopped. He meets two newcomers introduced as Haldon Halfmaester and Ser Rolly Duckfield, who take on supplies from Illyrio before leaving with Tyrion; according to Haldon, several Dothraki khalasars are heading towards the region and Griff wants to be long gone before they arrive.

Illyrio tells them the dwarf's name is Yollo, although Tyrion, worried they will realize the name is a lie, claims it is his name in Pentos and his real name is Hugor Hill. The pair tease Tyrion with tales of river pirates and the Shrouded Lord. Tyrion and Haldon test each others' book knowledge while Duck recounts the events that led to his knighting at the hands of Griff and his unusual namenote . They ride until they reach the Little Rhoyne at Ghoyan Drohe, where a poleboat, the Shy Maid, is waiting for them.

On board are a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: the boat's owners, the husband and wife Yandry and Ysila; Lemore, a septa of the Faith of the Seven; a young boy, Young Griff; and his father, Griff. After teasing the boy about his hair, dyed blue in the Tyroshi fashion, Tyrion is escorted to Griff's cabin, having to wait in silence while the older man reads a letter sent to him by Illyrio, telling of Tyrion's murder of his father.

Tyrion finds himself feeling Hate at First Sight for Griff, who reminds him too much of Tywin. Griff is mistrustful and Tyrion is convinced he is no ordinary sellsword — he can read, and he is a knight, having knighted Duck himself. When Griff asks why Tyrion would serve Daenerys Targaryen, given the bad blood between their families, Tyrion promises to serve Daenerys faithfully, intending to ask only for the freedom to revenge himself on Cersei and Jaime in return, an explanation that Griff, fully aware of The Power of Hate, accepts.

But when Tyrion asks if the entire mission is merely a Snipe Hunt, and that dragons might just be another passing fancy — rather like, say, winged lions" — a scowling Griff tells him to guard his tongue or lose it.

Davos I

In the middle of a storm, Davos is marched before Godric Borrell, Lord of Sweetsister, in his castle Breakwater at Sistertonnote . He was captured by Borrell's men while trying to find passage off the island to White Harbor. Salladhor Saan's fleet had been smashed by storms since heading south from the Wall, until Saan, frustrated by Stannis Baratheon's continual inability to make good on his promises, abandoned his cause, leaving his old friend Davos on Sweetsister after Davos refused to journey south with him.

Davos conceals this fact from Borrell, telling him that Saan has traveled south to raid the Lannisters at Stannis' command. Borell informs Davos that Lysa Arryn is dead — as is Tywin Lannister, at the hand of his dwarf son. Davos knows that Tywin Lannister's death changes everything, but Borrell does not allow him to send a raven to Stannis with the news. Borrell also informs Davos a shipload of Freys have reached White Harbor, with its Lord, Wyman Manderly of White Harbor having pledged his allegiance to King Tommen, much to Borrell's disgust at Manderly seemingly overlooking the fact the Freys killed his son at the Red Wedding. The news dismays Davos, but he hides his reaction and asks Borrell to help him get to White Harbor.

When Borrell asks why he should help and Davos points out if Tywin is dead, then Cersei holds power, Borrell concedes the point, before telling Davos of his meeting with Eddard Stark during Robert's Rebellion. Ned was attempting to reach Winterfell so he could call his banners and join Robert's Rebellion, while avoiding Gulltown, which was loyal to the Mad King. Stark had arrived at the Three Sisters after crossing the mountains to the Fingers, where he convinced a fisherman to carry him to White Harbor. The fisherman drowned during the voyage, but the fisherman's daughter got Ned to The Sisters. Lord Godric asserts that Ned left her with a bag of silver and pregnant with a bastard son, whom she named Jon Snow, after Jon Arryn.

The Borrells' maester urged them to send Ned's head to Aerys, but by that stage, word had gotten out of several victories Robert had won. When the maester insisted Prince Rhaegar would easily crush the rebel, Ned argued against Tempting Fate, pointing out nothing is certain in war. Borrell's father decided to let Ned go on his way instead of turning him over to the Targaryens after telling Ned "If you lose, you were never here".

Davos finally understands what Borrell means and replies: "No more than I was."

Jon III

At Castle Black, Melisandre is preparing to burn Mance Rayder in a cage made out of wood from the haunted forest, despite Jon's pleas to King Stannis to spare Mance. Jon reflects on how he tried to urge Stannis to let the free folk keep their pride and that they will only follow the one they chose, Mance. Stannis refuses, telling Jon he only needs their swords, not kisses.

At the sight of the cage, Mance's courage fails and he goes to his death begging for mercy, denying his kingship and his name and shrieking of witchcraft. Melisandre burns the Horn of Joramun as well so that the Wall can never fall.

Jon looks to Val and he reflects that she will not weep or look away, wondering what Ygritte would have done and thinking to himself, "Women are the strong ones." His thoughts turn to Sam, Maester Aemon, Gilly and the child. Jon feels guilty about separating Gilly and her son and knows she will curse Jon until her dying breath, but he saw no other way. He recalls the reports of storms on the Narrow Sea and worries that though he meant to keep Sam, Maester Aemon, Gilly and the baby safe, he may have doomed them instead.

As Mance burns, Jon reaches his limit and orders his bowmen to shoot Mance with arrows to put a quick end to it, a fitting end for a man of the Night's Watch. Melisandre proclaims to the assembled wildlings that Stannis is their true King, Azor Ahai reborn. Stannis draws Lightbringer, which is blindingly bright, and promises all who serve him food, land and justice.

The gates of the Wall are opened and most of the captive wildlings enter to kneel before Stannis, feeding the fire with fragments of weirwood, pieces of the old gods to feed R'hllor's fires, though others chose to pass beyond the Wall and take their chances with the Others.

Bowen Marsh thinks it is wrong to let thousands of wildlings south of the Wall, and would prefer to seal the gates and let the wildlings defend the northern side. Many of the men of the Night's Watch are also muttering against the perception that Jon has taken Stannis' side in the game of thrones. Jon denies this and reminds Marsh that Stannis saved the Watch, they owe him hospitality. When Marsh is afraid the Watch's aid for Stannis will incite the wrath of the Iron Throne and Stannis will surely lose, Jon says the outcome of the struggle is unclear following the death of Tywin Lannister.

Jon shares a cup of wine with Clydas, telling him that Maester Aemon had shown him a passage in the Jade Compendium. In the passage, Jon recalls that it referenced the legend of Azor Ahai and described Lightbringer as both bright and fearfully hot. He notes that although Stannis' sword radiates light, it produces no heat.

Daenerys II

There have been more murders by the Harpy's Sons on the streets of Meereen. This time they ambushed a band of Unsullied patrolling the street. Nine died, including one of Missandei's brothers, Mossador. Once again, Daenerys orders an investigation, permitting Skahaz mo Kandaq to interrogate (via torture) a wineseller and his daughters, caught near the murder scene when she discovers that three freedmen were among the slain.

Furious, Dany orders the Unsullied to restrict themselves to patrolling the walls, and imposes a blood tax on the great families of Meereen to fund a new mixed force of freedmen and shavepates to patrol the city streets under the control of Skahaz. The families of Zhak and Merreq are preparing to leave the city; the Queen orders that their wealth must remain behind, as well as some of their children in her custody.

That night, Dany offers Missandei the chance to return to Naath, but the girl feels safer with her. Dreaming of Daario Naharis, Dany hopes that the sellsword will remain loyal to her. Dany goes to take a bath on her terrace, when she is surprised by the voice of Quaithenote , speaking to her via some magic, and dumping a massive load of foreshadowing on her:

"Hear me, Daenerys Targaryen. The glass candles are burning. Soon comes the pale marenote , and after her the others. Kraken and dark flamenote , lion and griffinnote , the sun's sonnote  and the mummer's dragonnote . Trust none of them. Remember the Undying.note  Beware the perfumed seneschalnote ."

At court, Daenerys gazes suspiciously at Reznak mo Reznak, wondering if he is the "perfumed seneschal" Quaithe warned her about (he does wear a lot of perfume). For the seventh time, Hizdahr zo Loraq pleads for the reopening of the fighting pits, cunningly presenting former fighters who themselves willingly ask to be returned to combat. She promises to consider all they have said and then ends the session.

As she returns to her quarters accompanied by Barristan Selmy, at her request he relates how he escaped from King's Landing and Joffrey's guardsnote . The Queen and her knight have a minor disagreement when Barristan defends Eddard Stark after Daenerys angrily denounces him as a traitor, asserting that Stark argued against having her killed in the small councilnote .

Dany asks to see her dragons: Rhaegal and Viserion have been chained up in a pit since the killing of the little girl Hazzea, but Drogon could not be taken and was last seen flying off north to the Dothraki Sea.

Reek I

In the dungeons of the Dreadfort, the seat of House Bolton, the squires Big Walder and Little Walder Frey unlock the cell of a weak and foul-smelling man, who knows his name is Reek — but that he once had another name.

Reek is so weakened and mentally ravaged that he is terrified of the two eight year old Freys. He remembers his attempt to escape with Theon's bedwarmer Kyra, but that had been a ruse by Ramsay Bolton for his own amusement. Kyra had suffered horribly at the hands of Ramsay's dogs, and Reek has lost several of his own fingers and toes through agonizing flayings at the hands of the Bastard's Boys, Ramsay's thuggish personal retinue.

The Frey boys bring Reek before Ramsay, who is dining with Arnolf Karstark and Hother Umber. Ramsay taunts him in front of his guests, while a disgusted Hother and Arnolf recognize him as "Stark's ward", with Hother noting Ramsay would do better to have Theon Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves before he betrays Ramsay like Robb Stark. At this point, it is finally clear to the reader that Reek is Theon Greyjoy, who after being captured by Ramsay Bolton at the end of A Clash of Kings, has spent nearly a year in the dungeons being physically and psychologically tortured by Ramsay to the point of losing his mind.

In his degraded state, Reek thinks of Ramsay as a merciful and kind master. Ramsay promises him a bath, since he rides to war and needs Reek's help to bring home his virgin bride, Arya Stark.

Bran II

Coldhands had brought Bran, Hodor, Jojen, Meera, and Summer to a steep snow-covered hill. When his elk died, Coldhands butchered it for food, but all the steaks are gone now and they are all weak from hunger and cold, particularly Jojen.

They have to make their way up the hill into a cleft — about a thousand yards through thick wood. But the Others are close by — Coldhands and his ravens can sense them, and an unnatural cold has descended, even as they remain unseen. The ravens urge Bran on so they start up the hill. Meera has to support Jojen's weight.

Around eighty yards from the cave entrance, Summer stops at a steep stretch of unbroken snow. Bran, on Hodor's back, knows something is wrong. Coldhands continues to climb, so Hodor follows him. He glimpses a fire in the cave entrance when suddenly Hodor trips and falls.

A wight bursts from the snow, grasping his leg. Bran falls from his basket as Hodor and the wight struggle, and soon he is surrounded by dead men emerging from under the snow with pale flesh and black hands. Wights attack Coldhands as well, and Bran is grabbed as he tries to warn Jojen and Meera further down the slope. Summer tears off the arm and throat of the wight assaulting Bran, and he begins to crawl the 50 yards to the cave.

Bran enters the mind of Hodor to help him fight off the wights. Meera reaches him as he waves her up the hill and grabs Jojen as someone sets the wights on fire.

Bran awakens in the cave before a child of the forest. She takes them down into the cave, but Coldhands cannot follow them due to the ward on the cave against dead things. They go deeper, underneath roots and across a floor of bones, till they reach a skeletal body sitting on a throne made of roots — the three-eyed crow, the last greenseer.

Bran asks if the three-eyed crow will let him walk again, but that is beyond his power. The three-eyed crow promises, "You will never walk again, but you will fly."

Tyrion IV

Aboard the Shy Maid, Griff has banned Tyrion, who is still playing the role of Hugor Hill, from drinking wine as they journey down the Rhoyne. Tyrion's Hate at First Sight of Griff has progressed to the point where he frequently contemplates slipping some of the poison mushrooms he picked in Illyrio's garden into Griff's evening meal. Septa Lemore bathes naked every morning in the river, much to Tyrion's delight, but he notes she is not as virginal as she appears — Tyrion notices that she has stretch marks from childbirth.

After they all break their fast with Yandry and Ysilla, Duck begins training purple-eyed Young Griff with swords. Griff shoulder-charges Duck into the river, and when Tyrion laughs at him he chucks him overboard. Although Tyrion is dressed in motley and plays the fool with the mennote , Griff has him engaged in a serious task: writing down all he knows of dragonlore from his extensive reading.

In the afternoon, Tyrion joins Haldon Halfmaester as he educates Young Griff on geometry, languages and history. After the lesson Tyrion and Haldon settle down for a game of cyvassenote .

Tyrion has yet to beat Haldon and challenges him to a wager. Since he has no coin, he wants to wager information. Haldon takes the bet and loses. We do not learn what information Tyrion won. Back on deck, as they pass by the ruins of Ny Sar, Tyrion witnesses the emergence of a gigantic turtle from the water — Yandry claims it is the Old Man of the River. Tyrion thinks to himself that gods and wonders always appear to attend the birth of kings.

Davos II

As the Merry Midwife arrives in White Harbor, Davos notices that the city is newly fortified. He is initially hopeful that he may be able to persuade Lord Wyman Manderly to ally with King Stannis — until he sees the Lionstar, a warship bearing King Tommen's standard, docked at the harbor.

He takes in the sights and smells of White Harbor, walking through the Seal Gate. He takes up a place at the Lazy Eel, a shady tavern, and listens to gossip as he tries to work out what the Manderlys will do. He finds out that the Freys have come to White Harbor with the bones of Ser Wendel Manderly and proposals of marriage for Lord Manderly's granddaughters and that his other son, Ser Wylis Manderly, is held captive by the Lannisters.

Davos also comes across a Braavosi oarsman who has heard of how Daenerys was attempting to book a passage from Qarth with her three dragons. Davos realizes there is little hope for his mission but he decides he has a duty to try. Approaching the New Castle, he shows them his seals as Stannis' Hand, demanding to see Lord Wyman Manderly.

Daenerys III

Daenerys is hosting Xaro Xhoan Daxos, the Qartheen merchant. After viewing a dance by his naked male and female slaves, they discuss Dany's situation since she left Qarth. Xaro is aware of the activities of the Sons of the Harpy and tells Daenerys that he fears for her safety. He scoffs at her attempts to abolish slavery in Meereen and tells her that the Thirteen are willing to trade with the city — in slaves. He offers her thirteen galleys if she leaves for Westeros immediately.

Dany tells him she will have her men inspect the ships, and refuses his feigned advances to her. She also learns from Xaro Xhoan Daxos that Pyat Pree and three other warlocks sailed for Pentos soon after she left that city.

The next day at court, she refuses the desperate pleas of Lord Ghael to defend Astapor against Yunkai. The envoy spits at her refusal, claiming that Astapor will die without her help, and is thrown out by Strong Belwas. After assembling her council to hear the report of Admiral Groleo, she decides she cannot abandon Meereen to Yunkai'i. When she summons Xaro to tell him, his obsequiousness vanishes. He tells her she will die screaming and that he should have killed her in Qarth. She has him thrown out of the palace, but the next day an emissary gives her a bloody glove — the Qartheen have declared war.

Jon IV

During an inspection of the stores, Jon is informed by Bowen Marsh and some other stewards that there is not enough to feed the Night's Watch, the wildlings, and Stannis' men through the winter. He grimly orders a cut in rations, though he knows it will make him unpopular, and tells Marsh they will find a way to feed everyone.

He is then summoned to meet with Stannis. Rattleshirt, who is amongst Stannis' entourage, taunts Jon, offering to sing for him and pointing out the red ruby on his iron cuff, and Stannis tells Jon that he is handing the wildling to Jon. Despite his reluctance to be seen as partial to Stannis in the War of Five Kings, he advises him of the ways of the northern lords and offers him advice over how to win them over. He ignores the provocations of the Queen's Men as Stannis tells him that he plans to leave the Wall and take on Ramsay Bolton at the Dreadfort unawares. Arnolf Karstark has been urging Stannis to attack the Dreadfort, claiming that it is lightly garrisoned.

Jon bluntly tells him that his plan will fail, earning more scorn from the Queen's Men. Stannis silences them and orders Jon to explain his reasons. Jon explains several things; firstly, unless Stannis wins Mors Umber (who is offering an alliance in exchange for certain conditions, namely the skull of Mance Raydernote  and a pardon for his brother Hother Umber, who is fighting under duress for the Boltonsnote ) to his cause, Umber will cut Stannis's host to pieces as it crosses his land.

Second, the Dreadfort will learn of Stannis's coming long before his arrival, and Jon, having seen the castle's defenses, knows that a small garrison could hold the Dreadfort against many times their number. Thirdly, with the imminent fall of Moat Cailin to House Bolton, the combined armies of Ramsay and Roose Bolton will outnumber Stannis five to one, and will easily destroy him as he lays siege to the Dreadfort. In addition, the northern lords Stannis seeks to rally to his cause, who have suffered generations of wildings raiding their holdings, will not be pleased to see his wildling conscripts crossing their lands.

Stannis orders everyone out of the room except Melisandre and Jon. Stannis again offers Winterfell to Jon, but Jon reminds him that Sansa is currently the rightful heir and that he cannot forsake his vows. Stannis says he plans to give Winterfell to Arnolf Karstark, and Jon rebuts that the Karstarks abandoned his brother Robb Stark. Stannis retorts Robb had personally beheaded Lord Rickard Karstark after the latter killed two of Stark's prisoners.

Jon promises Stannis he will tell Stannis where he can find more forces if Stannis will let him keep the wildlings at Castle Black and the Wall, since they are only arrow fodder to Stannis. Stannis agrees and Jon tells him of the petty lords of the mountains — House Flint, House Wull, House Norrey, and House Liddle. Jon counsels Stannis to march through the mountains, win the mountain clans to his side, then emerge to attack Deepwood Motte and defeat the ironmen to rouse the north to his side.

Stannis agrees that it is a plan likely to succeed and impress the northmen. Jon also warns that the clansmen are deeply devout to the old gods, warning Melisandre that her presence won't be welcome. Melisandre surprises Jon by telling him she will stay at the Wall. He ruefully reflects on how he has acquired a thousand wildlings whom he cannot feed.

Tyrion V

Tyrion and his companions aboard the Shy Maid continue their way down the Rhoyne. As they encounter heavy amounts of fog in the Sorrows, severely hindering their visibility, Ysilla insists that it is not a common fog, claiming that restless spirits surround them. Tyrion is initially unconcerned and begins to make japes, but he quickly begins to re-evaluate the situation as the surroundings grow more and more eerie. The Shy Maid floats past the ruins of a palace in the ruins of Chroyane, and Tyrion recalls to himself the brief joy he once had with Tysha.

Fearing an attack from the fog, Griff orders Young Griff to accompany Septa Lemore to safety below deck. Tyrion reveals his knowledge regarding the boy, and confirms bits of information he apparently learned from his previous bet with Haldon.

Young Griff is, in fact, Aegon Targaryen — the son of Rhaegar and Elia, a babe at the breast who was believed to be slain during the Sack of King's Landing ... and the true heir to the Iron Throne, preceding Daenerys through Heir Club for Men rules. He also comes to the conclusion that Griff is the late Rhaegar Targaryen's friend Jon Connington, the former Hand of the Kingnote , whose sigil is a griffin — i.e., a winged lion. He concludes that the only way Varys didn't find out about all this is because he and Illyrio are part of it.

Tyrion also reveals his Lannister roots to the party, but there is no time to discuss loyalties or intentions. The Shy Maid is attacked by stone mennote . Tyrion helps to make efforts to ensure the safety of the now-revealed young prince on board, but the dwarf is knocked into the water, dragged down by one of the stone men. Believing that this will be his bitter end, a resigned Tyrion opens his mouth to curse all the Seven Kingdoms, but the black water fills his lungs and the darkness surrounds him.

Davos III

Davos is held for eighteen days in a large, airy, handsomely furnished chamber with guards at the door and a view of the city's streets and the harbor in the New Castle at White Harbor. The Merry Midwife left after four days.

Finally, Ser Marlon Manderly takes Davos to treats with Lord Wyman Manderly and his Merman's Court. Davos asks Lord Wyman to ally with King Stannis. He is resisted, however, by envoys of House Frey (Rhaegar Frey, Ser Jared Frey, and Symond Frey), who have come with the remains of one of Lord Wyman Manderly's sons, Wendel Manderly. The Frey envoys have lied to Wyman, saying that Robb Stark transformed into a wolf at the Red Wedding, and killed Wendel and several Freys.

Davos, outraged by the Blatant Lies, openly calls the Freys out. Ser Jared challenges Davos to a fight after the accusation, but Wyman prevents violence. The Freys continue to besmirch Robb's name, and although Wyman and the other non-Freys appear to disagree with their words, they do not prevent them from speaking. Davos also has to contend with accusations of Melisandre's actions from the wife of Ser Wylis Manderly, knowing that Wyman is unlikely to risk the life of his remaining son by rebelling against the Iron Throne.

A young girl, Wylla Manderly, Lord Wyman’s granddaughter, vocally supports Stannis, and appears to sway the court, arguing that if Stannis will help avenge the Starks, to which she reminds her grandfather the Manderlys owe Undying Loyalty, then they should join forces, as well as openly disparaging the Freys as murderers and their allies the Boltons as monsters. However, Lord Manderly has Davos dragged off to prison in the Wolf's Den as a traitor in the presence of the Freys, and demands that he be executed and his head sent to him before the end of the day.

Reek II

Reek is dispatched to Moat Cailin under a peace banner to present Ramsay Bolton's terms of surrender and safe passage home to the Ironborn garrison guarding its three towers. He knows full well what will happen to him if he returns to Ramsay unsuccessfully.

The Ironborn are in bad shape; they have been long isolated from supplies, apparently forgotten by Victarion, who brought them there before leaving for the Kingsmoot. The North's crannogmen keep them under constant siege and their morale is so low that they no longer bother to even dispose of their dead. Claiming to be Theon at Ramsay's urging, Reek is allowed entry into the fortress.

Their nominal leader Ralf Kenning is only barely alive, suffering a Cruel and Unusual Death after a minor injury from a poisoned arrow got infected. Torn between his conditioning to think of himself as Ramsay's plaything and his orders to present himself as Lord Balon Greyjoy's son, having glimpses of his past pride and identity, Reek gives Kenning a Mercy Kill before offering Ramsay's terms to the men that still survive in the garrison.

The garrison's second in command Dagon Codd attempts to refuse his terms, but another man, Adrack Humble, kills him. The Ironborn surrender to Ramsay Bolton and hear empty promises of food and peace before being mercilessly killed and displayed at stakes along the road.

Ramsay, pleased with Reek’s success, offers him a reward of his choosing. Reek is wary of Ramsay’s offer of “freedom,” and instead requests strong wine. Ramsay agrees, and further humiliates Theon by "rewarding" him with a “promotion” to the role of a dog.

The day after Moat Cailin's submission, Ramsay and his host meet Lord Roose Bolton as his own forces arrive at Moat Cailin with a sizable number of Frey men, including Hosteen and Aenys Frey, both of whom Theon recognizes from his time at their side as part of Robb's war campaign. At this point, only about a fifth of the northmen who went south with Robb Stark have returned alive.

As Ramsay's newly-arrived bride emerges from a carriage, Reek initially does not recognize the girl, but thinks it must be because she has grown up since the last time he saw her. However, when he looks into her eyes, Reek finally realizes, shocked, that this girl is not Arya Stark. Arya had her father's gray eyes, and she would definitely never have submitted to Ramsay: most likely she would spit on him. Reek finally recognizes the girl: she is Jeyne Poole, the steward's daughter, and Sansa's best friend.

Jon V

Jon wakes up at his table, having fallen asleep over his work again. Since receiving word from Cotter Pyke that a wreckage has been sighted on the coast of Skagos, Jon worries for Sam, Maester Aemon, Gilly, and the child.

Castle Black has been a quiet place since Stannis and his army departed, and Jon is still in Noye's old quarters. Bowen Marsh urges Jon to move into the Lord Commander's quarters, but although Stannis has vacated them, Jon hasn't moved back in, knowing that others may misconstrue the move as a sign that he does not expect Stannis to return.

Against Bowen Marsh's wishes, Jon accompanies a line of wagons under armed escort to deliver food to the wildlings who have taken refuge underground at Mole's Town. As they notice several faces carved into various trees along the road, he comes to realize that the wildlings may have bent the knee to Stannis and feigned to embrace the Lord of Light, but in their hearts, they will never abandon the old gods.

A riot nearly breaks out as Jon's men deliver rations to the wildlings, with many complaining about the amount of food they receive, feeling it's too little. When a woman asks for more food, Jon is unable to allow it because if he allows everyone more, there won't be any left for the latecomers. He tells them the Watch is feeding them as well as it can based on its limited resources.

When Halleck, the brother of Harma Dogshead, shouts that the "crows" eat well enough, Jon says that they hold the Wall and must reserve greater rations for those defending it. However, Jon internally worries that the food won't hold out for long. He says to the wildlings that they left their homes and came south to be safe and the Night's Watch is now protecting the wildlings too. He extends this offer to the wildlings, that they will also receive more food if they help the Night's Watch defend the Wall.

Sigorn and the Thenns balk, refusing the offer. When the commotion dies, Jon addresses a situation with a woman who wanted two apples. Hal told the woman she had to pick between an apple and an onion. Jon repeats this to the wildlings, they have to pick. He isn't asking them to take the Night's Watch vows and they can keep any gods they like. There is work for everyone to do if they want it, even non-combatant tasks for those who cannot fight. He informs the wildlings that the choice is theirs — if they wish to take this offer and return to Castle Black, he'll see them armed and fed. If not, they can remain in Mole's Town on what the Watch can spare them.

In spite of their misgivings, many wildlings agree to join, children, spearwives, and fighters alike, including Halleck. However, Sigorn and the rest of the Thenns still refuse the offer. When the rations are all distributed, the wagons are loaded with sixty-three wildings heading back to the Wall.

Unfortunately, Bowen Marsh raises some valid concerns; he worries about the spearwives and that their presence will tempt Night's Watchmen from their vows, that there will be fights and rape. Jon says these women have knives and know how to use them.

Bowen Marsh doesn't like the thought of a spearwife killing one of the Night's Watch brothers. He also notes that Jon added sixy-three more mouths to their load and questions how many are fighters. And for those fighters, what side will they fight on? The wildlings might fight alongside the Watch against the Others, but will they still if others of their kind, like Tormund Giantsbane or the Weeping Man, assault the Wall? Jon hopes it never comes to that.

Tyrion VI

Tyrion is dreaming of his lord father and the Shrouded Lord; in his dream, they are one and the same. He wakes up with his mouth dry and rusty with the taste of blood and his heart hammering in his chest.

Tyrion learns that after being knocked overboard during the battle with the stone men, he was rescued by Jon Connington and the prince forbade the crew to throw him, near-dead, overboard. Tyrion is being treated with vinegar, to reduce the danger of an infection with greyscale. Prince Aegon is also still aboard and irritated about it; however, his companions insisted on keeping him safe, as the town of Selhorys, where the Shy Maid is currently docked, fears an imminent attack by an approaching Dothraki khalasar and they do not want to get caught up in the chaos.

To pass the time, Tyrion goads Aegon into playing a game of cyvasse with him, using it as an opportunity to probe the boy for information. Aegon asks Tyrion about his real father, but Tyrion can tell him little; he himself only saw Rhaegar once or twice before Robert's Rebellion, and was a small boy hidden away at Casterly Rock when Rhaegar died at the Trident.

Tyrion learns from Aegon that the child murdered by Gregor Clegane during the Sack of King's Landing was a tanner's son from Pisswater Bend whom Varys purchased and substituted for Aegon in the cradle. After the Sack, Varys smuggled the baby Aegon across the narrow sea to Illyrio Mopatis, who made the arrangements for Aegon's upbringing. Tyrion jokes that it will make a good story for the singers when he returns to Westeros, assuming Daenerys Targaryen takes him as her consort.

Aegon is stunned by this, having clearly never considered the possibility that Daenerys might refuse him. Tyrion points out that she is a proud, strong, and fierce young woman who is unlikely to appreciate a relative coming to her with a begging bowl, certainly not one with a stronger claim to the Iron Throne than her own. Aegon angrily denies being a beggar, pointing out his own army, the Golden Company. Tyrion responds that Daenerys has a larger army than his own and owes nothing to Aegon. Aegon protests, trusting in Lord Connington to win her over. Tyrion calls him a fool, and gives him the following warning:

"Trust no one, my prince. Not your chainless maester, not your false father, not the gallant Duck or the lovely Lemore nor these other fine friends who grew you up from a bean. Above all, trust not the cheesemonger, nor the Spider, nor this little dragon queen you mean to marry. All this mistrust will sour your stomach and keep you awake at night, ’tis true, but better that than the long sleep that does not end".

Tyrion then suggests a different course of action to Aegon: head to Westeros instead of going east, land in Dorne and take advantage of all the problems caused by the War of the Five Kings. He points out that the North is in a chaotic condition, the riverlands are devastated, while Stannis Baratheon holds Storm's End and Dragonstone. The coming winter will starve out the realm.

He then paints the opposition as particularly weak: King Tommen Baratheon is just a boy, and all his potential regents come with their own problems: Jaime Lannister actively avoids the responsibility of ruling, and Kevan Lannister is a born follower — he will only take the rule if it is offered to him. Mace Tyrell will have to fight the Lannisters to become regent, and Stannis' unpopularity makes him an unlikely choice.

That leaves only one potential candidate: Cersei. Tyrion is particularly scathing of his sister's ability to rule, comparing her to some of the worst Targaryen kings, noting that Cersei, in her paranoia and impatience, will undo all the alliances his father created to secure Tommen's hold on the Iron Throne and adds that if Aegon acts quickly, he can take advantage of the chaos and make serious gains before Cersei is overthrown and someone more competent takes her place.

When Aegon protests, asking how they can win without his aunt and her dragons, Tyrion points out that he doesn't have to conquer the Seven Kingdoms; he only needs to start winning victories, acting not as a beggar, but a true scion of House Targaryen, like his ancestor Aegon the Conqueror. When he does, word of it will get back to Daenerys, and she and Aegon can meet as equals. Tyrion is convinced that Daenerys will fly to Aegon's side and immediately love him, as he is the last of her line, and she is above all a "rescuer".

To re-emphasize his point to Aegon about trusting no one if he wants to survive in the game of thrones, Tyrion wins the cyvasse game using a piece of bad advice he gave to Aegon, which the prince took at the start of the game. Aegon does not take his loss well; the sudden burst of anger convinces Tyrion the boy might be a Targaryen after all.

Later that evening, Haldon takes Tyrion into Selhorys in search of information, where they confirm the rumors that Daenerys still has not left Meereen. They need to know more, so Haldon takes Tyrion into an inn where they bribe a customs officer, Qavo Nogarys, to learn more.

They learn many things, such as the fact the rulers of Yunkai are spreading slanderous propaganda and offering heavy bribes to convince Volantis to side with them against Daenerys, whose attack on the slave trade has made her enemies in Volantis. By contrast, it is learned that the red priests of R'hllor, particularly the High Priest Benerro are supporting Daenerys, and preach Volantis's destruction if the city's rulers side against her, along with other apocalyptic prophecies. There are also rumors of Khal Pono's khalasar approaching the city, though they are confident they can, as usual, buy off the Dothraki.

Later, Tyrion convinces Haldon to let him find a brothel and goes searching for Tysha. He finds his way into a cheap brothel where he fucks a Westerosi-looking girl, retches, fucks her again and then leaves ashamed of himself. When Tyrion is about to leave, a deep voice yells behind him: "Imp!". The man is clearly a Westerosi knight, with a big black bear in his armor, and with a silver-haired prostitute on his lap. The man recognized Tyrion and took his sword, warning that he is now his prisoner. Completely drunk, Tyrion can do nothing but ask what the man plans to do with him. The knight replies that he will take him "to the queen".

Daenerys IV

Galazza Galare, the Green Grace, High Priestess of Meereen's main religion appears before Daenerys to offer once more the suggestion that she marry. She suggests as a suitor Hizdahr zo Loraq, who is waiting for her summons, as his lineage and connections would go a long way to appeasing the city to her rule.

The Sons of the Harpy are continuing their killings, but Daenerys is refusing to kill the child hostages she took from the Meereenese noble families, which is angering her advisor Skahaz, who justifiably points out her refusal to kill hostages in retaliation for her own losses is literally letting the Sons get away with murder.

Dany agrees to speak with Hizdahr, and though neither of them love nor even express much physical attraction to one another, Hizdahr promises to put an end to the attacks by the Sons. Dany tasks him with ninety days in which she does not want a single attack as demonstration of Hizdahr's promise. If he succeeds, Dany agrees that she may accept his wedding proposal.

After he leaves, Barristan Selmy expresses his disapproval, but Dany believes that she still has ninety days to figure out another plan, to see if Hizdahr can prevent the attacks, and if he can, she will marry him out of duty to her people.

Ser Barristan tells her that during her assembly with the Green Grace that Daario Naharis has returned. Dany commands to see him at once, overcome with lust. Despite her growing passion, during the meeting Daario upsets her with his barbaric suggestions as solutions to her problems — namely, by suggesting they use her wedding as a pretext to lure her enemies into the open and then let him and his men Kill 'Em All — and she sends him away. Dany tells Barristan to forbid Daario from meeting with her directly ever again, but regrets her decision almost immediately.

The Lost Lord

Jon Connington, having cast aside the persona of Griff and washed the blue dye out of his hair, regaining his bright red hair rides with Prince Aegon and the rest of their companions to the camp of the Golden Company, outside the city of Volantis. Although Haldon told him that Tyrion was kidnapped by a man in the brothel, Connington is suspicious about Tyrion's supposed abduction, believing it more likely the dwarf has absconded of his own volition.

As they approach the camp, Aegon asks him about the trustworthiness of sellswords, insisting that Tyrion told him to trust no one. Connington agrees it doesn't hurt a king to be Properly Paranoid, but warns him against going to the extent his grandfather Aerys the Mad went to with it, advising Aegon to be open-handed in rewarding subjects who prove their loyalty.

As they approach the camp, Connington wonders what sort of reception he will get, given it's been over fifteen years since he served in the Golden Companynote . Upon arrival, he discovers his old friend, Myles Toyne, who commanded the Golden Company when he was a member, has died and been replaced by Harry Strickland, the former company paymaster. Connington is less than enthused by this news; Strickland has always been better at earning lucrative contracts for the Company than leading men into battle.

After presenting the young Griff as Prince Aegon Targaryen, son of the late Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, to the highest-ranking members of the Company, the officers voice their lack of enthusiasm for the complicated situation. They did not anticipate that Daenerys would decide to remain in Meereen instead of marching out to meet her enemies and joining with them. Strickland reveals that the Golden Company has received a large number of alternative offers, including some which would involve them joining the coalition currently arrayed against Daenerys Targaryen.

The Company also bemoans the constantly-changing plans of Illyrio Mopatis and Varys, who did not anticipate Viserys Targaryen's death or that Daenerys would go to Slaver's Bay rather than Westeros. Seeing their disillusionment and an opportunity to claim the Iron Throne for his own, Prince Aegon offers them an alternative: He does not wish to try to rally Daenerys and her dragons, but instead to sail to Westeros with the hope of taking advantage of the chaos left by the War of the Five Kings, the turmoil and strife between Houses Lannister and Tyrell, and forming an alliance with his maternal uncle, Prince Doran Martell to gain Dorne's support.

Aegeon reasons that once he and the Golden Company have begun the rebellion, Daenerys will cross the Narrow Sea to join him. This proposal is met with great enthusiasm from the officers, except Harry Strickland, who nevertheless has no choice but to comply.

Once agreed on the new plan, Aegon is taken on a tour of the mercenary camp. Connington retires to his quarters, satisfied with the new situation and impressed with a side of Aegon he has not previously seen. He hopes to return home to the castle of his ancestors and repay his debt to his old friend Rhaegar.

It is then revealed that he is slowly succumbing to greyscale (presumably contracted during the attack by the Stone Men), which is beginning to spread in his hand; noting that some sufferers of greyscale have managed to live more than a decade after infection, Connington hopes that will be time enough to redeem himself of his failure to Rhaegar by putting his son on the Iron Throne.

And then Lord Jon Connington can die happy.

The Windblown

Quentyn Martell and his two companions have joined the Windblown, a sellsword company of two thousand soldiers led by a Pentoshi noble known as the Tattered Princenote , under false names. Quentyn has assumed the name "Frog", Gerris Drinkwater now goes by "Dornish Gerrold" or "Drink", and Archibald Yronwood is now "Greenguts". Their goal is to reach Slaver's Bay and eventually Daenerys Targaryen in Meereen without drawing too much danger or attention, although they keep that a secret from their colleagues.

The company was paid for by Yunkai to fight and kill the Butcher King's successors in Astapor, where they are currently camped, three miles away from the gates. The Yunkish commanders are all completely incompetent, each commanding disparate packs of slave soldiers that are utterly impractical on the battlefield. Quentyn remembers when the defenders of Astapor, mostly comprised of new and untrained Unsullied, launched a dawn attack on the Yunkish camp; the Yunkish commanders were completely caught short and it was only thanks to their mercenary hirelings that they were able to claw back victory.

Quentyn is still traumatised by memories of his first battle; the Windblown rode down the broken Unsullied as they tried to flee back to the city, and Quentyn still feels guilty about killing terrified boys not much younger than himself. He's also haunted by his memories of the massacre that ensued when Astapor fell to the Yunkish army, with most of those not killed by the invaders or dying from disease choosing mass suicide.

"Frog" learns that the Windblown are going to Yunkai for provisions before marching for Meereen to fight Daenerys' forces. While they prepare to leave, he learns many malicious and fearful rumors about Daenerys' past and present, some of them more grounded in truth than others, wondering if he still has to marry Daenerys if she has inherited her father's insanity.

He privately speaks with Gerris, as they need to get away from the Windblown before they end up fighting his intended, but Gerris points out doing it now will leave them as deserters in enemy territory, and the question will be whose hands will be worse to fall intonote .

On the way to Meereen, the Tattered Prince receives instructions from the Yunkish commanders to hunt the Astapori survivors that have fled the ruins of Astapor and drive them away from Yunkai, either back to Astapor or further north to Meereen; about half of those survivors are carriers of the bloody flux, and even the ones who are healthy will be useless mouths eating Meereen's food supplies if Daenerys takes them in. Similar orders have been given to the other companies hired by Yunkai, the Long Lances and the Company of the Cat, with whom the Windblown have a very personal rivalry note .

Quentyn finds himself, along with Gerris and Archibald, summoned to the command tent. Initially, Quentyn is afraid their plan to desert has been discovered, but when they arrive, he finds that a large number of the Company's Westerosi recruits are also present. The Tattered Prince explains he has decided to hedge his bets; since the utter incompetence of the Yunkish leaders does not inspire confidence, he intends for the group to make for Meereen and contact either the Second Sons or the Stormcrows, offering to defect to Daenerys.

He selects one of his lieutenants, Pretty Meris, to command that group and suggests believable justifications for their decision to turn cloak should anyone ask. The group will have to be careful to avoid retaliation from the Company of the Cat or the Long Lances, who know nothing of their plans and might not approve or care if they knew. As the group departs the tent, Quentyn has to supress a nervous laugh about how after fretting about how he'd reach Daenerys, the opportunity has fallen into his hands.

The Wayward Bride

Asha is at Deepwood Motte with her men, having fled the Iron Islands after the Kingsmoot crowned Euron. She receives news from Barrowton that Moat Cailin has fallen to Ramsay Bolton. She thinks about a previous message from Stannis Baratheon asking for homage; unlike that one, Bolton's message is written in the blood of the Ironmen and comes with a piece of Theon Greyjoy's skin as a warning.

At Ten Towers, Asha received tidings that Euron had married her to Erik Anvilbreaker, so she now lingers at Deepwood Motte, knowing that she cannot return to the Iron Islands without having to submit to her new husband.

Asha takes note of the fact that Deepwood Motte is an old castle, yet not a strong one, as proven by her quick capture of it. She also tells herself that she will not be captured alive by the Boltons, and will fight to the death instead. She suspects that the next attack will come from the Boltons. Of the thirty longships that set out to capture Deepwood, only four remain with Asha, and her followers council her to take flight. Asha refuses, stating that she will only fight, not run.

Asha and Qarl the Maid have sex on Galbart Glover's bed and she reflects on their long relationship, regretting that they cannot marry, as Qarl is too lowborn. During the night, Asha talks to Tris Botley, who tries to convince her to give up the North and her claim to the Iron Islands and flee to Essos. Asha remains adamant in her decision, although she is forced to admit that Tris is right: she has no chance of triumphing over the northerners or Euron.

However, when Tris tells her that she cannot cancel the kingsmoot decision like Torgon, the Latecomer, did in the past, Asha is confused. Tris tells the story: Torgon Greyjoy was the king's eldest son. When the king died, Torgon was far away, and his brothers did not warn him, in the hope that the kingsmoot would choose one of them. Instead, Urragon Goodbrother was chosen as king, and he immediately ordered the death of all the sons of the former king. Torgon finally returned home after two years, and demanded that the kingsmoot result be annulled, since he was not present to make his claim. Urragon was a petty and cruel king, with few friends, and his lords and captains killed him, electing Torgon as king.

After hearing this, Asha kisses Tris and thanks him. But before she can say anything else, the alarm is raised –- it turns out that five Flint men from the mountain clans have tried to scale the wall. Asha’s men defeat them quickly. A single survivor claims that they were alone, attempting to save Lady Glover. But Asha’s brutal interrogation reveals their true purpose: to open a gate for the three thousand men coming to take Deepwood Motte.

Asha is unsure who is leading these men, and she makes the sudden decision to try to flee for their ships instead, hoping that the northmen have not burned the beached ships she left behind. She is confident, however, since she always beaches half her ships and leaves the other half out at sea with orders to move to Sea Dragon Point if they are attacked.

On the way back to the ships, Asha realizes that it is dangerous to speed through the thick woods at night and they cannot light torches or else attract attention and an attack from the northmen. She decides to rest with her men and wait for sunrise in order to flee more quickly and safely.

The northmen catch up to them, however, and a bloody, confusing battle ensues. Asha observes that the northmen are wearing shrubs and trees and thinks to herself that it is as if the very woods were attacking them. The battle continues with Asha fighting back to back with Qarl. Amidst the confusion, she loses him and is eventually hit in the head with an axe by a Northman. Her last sight before she falls unconcious is the sight of a banner with the image of a stag in the centre of a flaming heart.

Tyrion VII

Tyrion and his captor arrive at Volantis, where Tyrion is put in chains so he will be taken for a slave and thus no one will listen to or help him. Tyrion tells his captor he knows that he is Ser Jorah Mormont and that Jorah has been working for Varys. Tyrion further explains that he is also on a mission from Varys, thus making them allies, but Jorah just gets even more angry, stating that he made mistakes that embarrassed him and his father's name, but they are nothing compared to Tyrion's crimes.

Jorah takes a room in the Merchant's House, the largest inn in the city, chaining Tyrion to the wall for the night. In the morning, they head into the dining hall of the Merchant's House, where Tyrion sees another dwarf and notices that he has been recognized. He tells Jorah, who is not concerned. Tyrion later reflects that this other dwarf seems somehow familiar. They hear that the Golden Company (which Tyrion knows was hired by Aegon Targaryen and Jon Connington) is headed west: an exiled lord of Westeros hired them to regain his land. Tyrion is shocked to learn that Aegon took the "bait" and that Connington allowed it. At the same time, he loses any hope of being rescued.

They then talk to the widow of the waterfront, a former slave and now the powerful widow of a triarch of Volantisnote , who is sympathetic to Daenerys Targaryen's actions. Jorah tells her that he needs to book swift passage to Meereen and Daenaerys. She asks Jorah why he seeks Daenerys and he answers, "To serve her. Defend her. Die for her, if need be." Despite this, the widow does not trust his motives (though she seems darkly amused by Tyrion's Brutal Honesty about wanting to serve Daenerys solely for the reward of being allowed to kill Cersei), and refuses to help.

Suddenly, a chaotic fight breaks out. Tyrion is attacked by the knife-wielding dwarf, but Jorah effortlessly rescues him. Tyrion realizes this dwarf is a girl, and upon questioning her, they learn that she is Penny, one of the tilting dwarfs from Joffrey's royal wedding. Her brother, also a dwarf, was mistaken for Tyrion and beheaded by sailorsnote , but she was set free when they realized she was a girl.

The widow, after ordering Penny fed and clothed, instructs Tyrion and Jorah to take the Selaesori Qhoran, a trading cog which is destined to Qarth by way of New Ghis, but Benerro, High Priestess of R'hllor and one of Daenerys's greatest supporters in Volantis has foretold that the ship will not reach this destination. She gives them a message to deliver to Daenerys from the slaves of Old Volantis: "Tell her we are waiting. Tell her to come soon."

Jon VI

Jon sends Alliser Thorne out with Dywen and one other man to range beyond the Wall. Thorne believes that Jon is sending him out to die, though Dywen mockingly says that they will teach him to be a true ranger. Thorne tells Jon that he will not refuse and give him the pleasure of cutting his head off as he did with Janos Slynt. Thorne warns Jon that men killed by the Others still remember and he will come back if he is killed by one.

Jon thinks to himself that he hopes Alliser Thorne does come back, alive, as he is still a brother in the Night's Watch. Jon is also sending out two other rangings, one led by Black Jack Bulwer and another by Kedge Whiteye.

Jon descends the Wall with Dolorous Edd, noting that he is receiving messages of need for more men from some of his commanders as more sightings of wildlings are being reported. He wonders where he is to find yet more men.

He sees Iron Emmett in the yard and asks to spar with three of his best men, telling them all to come at him at the same time. Rattleshirt sees them and tells Jon that he should fight a man and not boys and they begin to spar. Rattleshirt is getting the best of him, despite fighting with a larger greatsword and no shield. Eventually, they lose their swords, roll, and the fight ends with Rattleshirt on top. He is dragged off and Jon remarks that Rattleshirt fought well.

A raven arrives with a message that Jon's half-sister Arya is to marry Ramsay Bolton. Clydas notes Jon's upset reaction, and Jon reveals the contents of the note. He remembers Arya how he knew her, that she'd fight Ramsay if he tries to touch her. The others ask how old his sister is. Jon thinks to himself that she'd be eleven, still a child, but forces himself to reply that he has no sisters, only brothers in the Night's Watch.

A troubled Jon reflects on the guilt he is feeling. His thoughts go to his sister, and he agonizes that he cannot help her. He remembers the sword Needle he once gave to her, wondering if she still has it. Jon worries that if Arya tries to stick Ramsay with it, it could mean her life.

He goes for a walk and sees Melisandre, though at first, he believes her to be Ygritte from a distance. Melisandre tells him that he should not worry over matters of the heart and that she sees that his sister will flee this marriage and ride towards them on a dying horse. She also foresees that three of the rangers sent out will die, and come back eyeless. As she is leaving, she tells him that when the dead men return, he should take her hand and she will save his sister.

Davos IV

Davos, still imprisoned in the Wolf's Den, is awaiting his death and hopes that he will at least die honorably, losing his head first and not his hands. He passes his time chatting to the guards, gaining a few favours in the form of candles, books, paper, and a quill, and learning a little more about the general history of the north.

Davos writes a few letters to his sons to be delivered upon his death. It is then that Robett Glover appears at his door and politely asks him to follow; Davos is wary but notes his mannerisms and follows. En route, Davos learns from Glover that Stannis has taken Deepwood Motte, House Glover's seat, from the ironborn and restored it to its rightful owners. He is led through secret hallways going in different directions, passing the old godswood on the way. Eventually, they end up in a room of the New Castle where Lord Wyman Manderly is waiting for him. He declines the offers of food and wine, being less than impressed with his treatment in the Merman's Court; Lord Wyman though, apologizes for his poor treatment of Davos, explaining it was necessary to keep the Freys in his court from getting suspicious.

Lord Wyman says that they must act quickly for Davos is "dead" and his head sits upon the Seal Gate. A criminal similar in appearance to Davos was executed in his place, his head and hands (with fingers carefully shortened) mounted on the wall. Davos says he was quite convinced by Wyman's behaviour, though he was confused by Wylla Manderly. Wyman responds that his young granddaughter was extremely brave to have said those things. There was truth in her words, as the debt the Manderlys owe the Starks and Winterfell can never be repaid.

He adds, though, that he cannot show any sign of contempt to King's Landing for fear of the harm they might do to his son. Tywin Lannister told Wyman that in exchange for his son's freedom, he must confess his treason, yield White Harbor, declare his loyalty to King Tommen, and bend his knee to Roose Bolton. If he refused, Wylis would be killed as a traitor, White Harbor would be sacked and his people would "suffer the same fates as the Reynes of Castamere". By "killing" Davos, he has proved his loyalty to the Iron Throne and assured the release of Wylis, which Davos notes is a brave move.

Wyman adds that he has been unable to send Stannis more information in his letters because the Freys infest his court, looking for any sign of treachery. His maester, Theomore, is a distant cousin to the Lannisters, so Manderly does not trust him either. Manderly goes on to add his rage at his son Wendel Manderly's death at the hands of the Freys, calling it murder and the Freys' claims fables. He tells Davos that the North remembers and his son is home, meaning that his act for the Freys is almost over as well.

He then summons a boy that Davos doesn't recognize. The boy is none other than Theon's mute squire Wex, who survived the Sack of Winterfell. Despite being mute, Wex is smart, and after learning to read and write, he managed to reveal to Robett and Wyman the truth about what really happened at Winterfell. Davos is told by Robett that Theon was captured at Winterfell, and is currently being flayed by the Boltons. It was the Boltons who destroyed Winterfell, not the ironbornnote . The men at the seat of House Stark were slaughtered, including Theon's ironborn garrison, while all the women were captured and marched back to the Dreadfort. Davos listens to the horrible things that Ramsay Bolton does to the captured women; namely, his favourite pastime of Hunting the Most Dangerous Game.note 

Robett tells a stunned Davos that the evil is in Ramsay's blood. Wyman adds that the Freys are no better than Ramsay, and that Roose Bolton is lying about the role he played in the Red Wedding as well. In addition, Davos is told that the Boltons and Freys know the northmen are not expected to believe their lies, but will be forced to accept them or die.

Manderly goes on to tells Davos about the mighty fleet he has built up, which Davos saw when he entered the port. Furthermore, he has plenty of silver in his vaults and more heavy horse than anyone else north of The Neck. Wyman states that Oldcastle and Widow's Watch will follow his lead; all of the lands east of the White Knife, from Widow’s Watch and Ramsgate to the Sheepshead Hills and the headwaters of the Broken Branch will be pledged to Stannis Baratheon if Davos meets his one price.

Wyman says that for this task, he does not need a king but a smuggler. He needs Davos to smuggle home Rickon Stark, his true liege, and one who holds a stronger claim than Arya, who is soon to be wed to Ramsay Bolton.

Wex, who survived the sack of Winterfell by climbing up the heart tree and hiding amongst the branches, explains that six survived the siege, two of them the sons of Eddard Stark. Four of the peoplenote  went north and two went another waynote . Manderly insists that they must have the boy and his direwolf as proof of his identity should the Boltons try to deny him.

Wyman asks Wex to show them where they went and he throws a dagger at the spot on the map. Davos looks long at where the dagger has landed, pondering whether it would be better to go back to the dungeons and eat porridge for breakfast as it is better than places where men break fast upon human flesh instead note .

Daenerys V

Daenerys begins every morning by counting the enemy ships in the harbour. Today she has counted roughly twenty-five. She has an argument with her admiral Groleo, who is advising her to send her dragons to attack the enemy fleet. Daenerys tells him to attack with ships, but he replies that she dismantled his ships to make siege weapons when she took Meereen, and all the timber in twenty leagues has been burned, so he can build no more.

Daenerys doesn't want to admit she has lost control of her dragons, and bitterly thinks on how other cities have rejected her overtures at peacenote .

Hizdahr has thus far had success in preventing further murders. She has had her betrothed followed and Skahaz mo Kandaq reports that Hizdahr has visited eleven pyramids and it has been twenty-six days since a murder has been attempted. He surmises that he must be one of the Sons of the Harpy or else these others would not have listened to his words alone.

Skahaz asks that he may question Hizdahr, but Dany will not let him, stating that she must trust in Hizdahr or face open rebellion in the city. Skahaz also advises her that the fleets in the blockade all have family members in Meereen and that she should use them as hostages, a contemplation she also rejects. Barristan Selmy advises her that she has done a wise thing, but Daenerys is unsure.

Grey Worm meets with her next to tell her that the first refugees from Astapor are arriving in Meereen and that Astapor is burning. Dany learns of the fall of Astapor, and that many inhabitants have contracted the bloody flux while under siege, with the survivors now fleeing towards Meereen. The survivors also say that they believed and waited everyday for Daenerys to come and save them. She tells them that they will be safe in Meereen now.

Dany is advised not to let the survivors and their illness into the city, and reminded again of Eroeh and of how sometimes, those whom she tries to save end up worse off than before.

There are further appeals to use the dragons; however, they are followed with comments that they cannot be controlled right now, and even the Unsullied are afraid to go into the dragon pit to feed them. Dany says she cannot and will not unleash the dragons at this point in time. Ultimately, she decides not to let the Astapori into the city and that they should have a separate camp outside the city until the flux passes. This might be too little, too late — a dying Astapori rider has already brought a case of the disease into the city; because he was astride a white horse, having the disease is now known as "riding the pale mare" — but some effort must be made.

Ser Barristan appeals to her to let him take the battle to the enemy. She then reminds herself that a queen represents her people and not just her own person. She thus decides that she cannot have the Unsullied take the field or else she would have to leave the Brazen Beasts alone to defend against the Sons of the Harpy. She then says that she must marry Hizdahr, for the good of the city.

Melisandre

Melisandre is in her chambers, looking into the fire and trying to receive her visions. When she looks for Stannis, she sees eyeless faces staring out, crying blood. Then she sees towers by the sea followed by skulls rising out of the ocean turning to mist and great winged beasts flying in the sky. She tries to see the girl on the fleeing horse again as she knows Jon will want to know more, but she cannot find anything. She does see that there is death around Jon and that dangers and enemies lurk all around him.

When Devan Seaworth asks her what she sees, she replies with her usual answer: "Much and more." She does not let him know how difficult it is or how much pain she endures to try and see these things, for fear of letting others know that this task is not as simple as she lets on. Melisandre knows and sees that Davos is the most loyal to Stannis, thus she has kept Devan back against the young boy's wishes. She knows that Davos has lost too many sons already and although Stannis has ridden out, she keeps the boy in order to save one.

Melisandre does not sleep much — often just an hour a night — as she fears her dreams (the Red Priests seem to consider sleep an aspect of their god's Arch-Enemy, the Great Other) and what she sees there; re-occurring images of the words "Lot Seven" and "Melony".

She sends Devan to find Rattleshirt and bring him to her. When the wildling arrives, she speaks with him and tells him to keep his bones on, in order to keep the glamour spell active. She also asks that he go and fetch the girl she saw on the dying horse. She tells him of her vision and asks him where the girl might be coming up; knowing the North well, he can guess her location is west of Long Lake.

Their talk is disrupted by the single long blast of a horn, marking the return of the rangers. She tells Rattleshirt to wait for him there, as when the Night's Watch find what has been left for them, the sight of another wildling will enrage them. She then goes to see the rangers, thinking of her prediction of three dead men.

Upon arrival, she sees Jon with the heads of Black Jack Bulwer, Hairy Hal, and Garth Greyfeather, impaled on spears with their eyes gouged out. The watchmen present assume the killings and mutilation were the work of the Weeping Man.

Melisandre walks with Jon, and they go back to her room. There he sees Rattleshirt, and, realising that Melisandre is planning to send him out to find and rescue Arya, the presumed girl on the grey horse, flatly refuses. Melisandre then removes the glamour to show him that "Rattleshirt" is actually Mance Rayder, whom she has spared, having had Rattleshirt burned disguised as Mance. She tells him that he will bring Jon back his sister, but Jon mistrusts her. She does not reveal the difficulty of her spell to the men, thinking to herself that the more effortless sorcery appears, the more men fear it and her.

Reek III

Reek is waiting in the courtyard of the keep of House Stout when Ramsay returns with his personal retinue, the Bastard's Boys, having gone searching for a trio of Freys — Rhaegar, Jared, and Symond, last seen leaving White Harbour.

Ramsay and his men are empty-handed and in a bad mood, which Reek knows means that Ramsay may want to take his anger out on someone, most likely Reek. He knows that Ramsay has been forced to restrain his violent outbursts in Barrowton, as he needs the loyalty of the Dustins and Ryswells, but what he does behind closed doors is none of their concern. Ramsay then throws a severed head for Theon to catch, which he cannot because of his maimed hands. He does not recognize the head, as it is covered in blood, rotting, and bursting with maggots.

Reek is then ordered to put away the men's horses. He is followed by Big Walder Frey, who, Theon notes, does not take after his older cousin in aping Ramsay's malevolent ways. The Frey boy tells Reek the severed head belonged to an old goatherd who made the mistake of pressing Ramsay's Berserk Button by calling him Lord Snow. When Reek asks about the missing Frey, Big Walder admits that he believes Lord Wyman Manderly killed them, saying that this is what he would do in his place.

Ramsay and his retinue hold a feast that nightnote , in spite of the fact that they're seriously eating into House Stout's winter stores, while Reek is chained to the wall and waits his turn to eat, though Ramsay's hunting dogs provide the night's entertainment fighting each other for scraps. Reek remembers when Ramsay told him that all the dogs are named after peasant girls he hunted, raped, flayed, and killed and notes the next litter will likely include a Kyr. He also considers Ramsay's boasts that his dogs can kill a wolf to be Tempting Fate, given the wolves they're likely to encounter, but keeps that to himself.

Roose Bolton enters the hall with his own retainers, dismisses Ramsay's men, and demands a report on his search for the Freys. According to Ramsay, the Freys rode ahead of the procession of the Manderlys. Wyman Manderly stopped frequently to feast, but the Freys rode on and disappeared. Roose says that Hosteen Frey and Aenys Frey are distressed, but Ramsay says it is of no concern, as there are plenty of Frey men at the Twins.

Ramsay and Roose argue; Roose says that his son is acting brash and foolish and drawing attention to himself with his cruel and barbaric amusements, that his fore-bears were no fools. He notes that they have powerful allies in the Freys and the Lannisters, but the northmen despise them and only accept House Bolton's authority grudgingly, with only the exception of Lady Barbrey Dustin, whose support Ramsay would cast aside because she hates himnote .

They talk briefly about the dead sons of the Starks, and what might happen if they were to "return" from the dead; Roose angrily chides his son for openly discussing his part in the Sack of Winterfell, pointing out that their northern vassals would turn on them in an instant if they learned the truth. Roose then changes the subject by informing Ramsay that Stannis has marched from the Wall, adding that it is not towards the intended trap at the Dreadfort that the Karstarks baited, thus revealing to the reader that the Karstarks are double-crossing Stannis.

Roose tells Ramsay he is to wed the fake Arya Stark not in Barrowton, but in Winterfell. By doing so, the clansmen who follow Stannis will be incensed to march on the keep, something they would not do while the Boltons are in Barrowton; once Stannis lays siege to Winterfell, Arnolf will turn on him there.

Roose then takes Reek away from Ramsay, stating he has a role to play if Ramsay hasn't completely broken him. Ramsay tells Reek to observe everything and report back to him, but he is to say nothing about his treatment to Roose, as well as threatening to cut another finger off Reek when Roose returns him, just because.

As they ride to Barrow Hall, Roose tells Reek he knows what his bastard son has asked of him. He goes on to say that he knows what the real Reek was like: the opposite of what Ramsay has turned Theon intonote . He notes that he provided the first Reek as a servant to the unruly young Ramsay; he had intended it to be a cruel joke, but is now uncertain whether Reek corrupted Ramsay or the other way around.

Ramsay was the child of a rape, one that Roose is not proud of; he chanced upon the beautiful young wife of an old miller while out hunting and decided to practice the illicit tradition of the first nightnote , having the miller hanged and then taking the man's wife.

The woman showed up at the Dreadfort a year later with baby Ramsay; Roose had intended to have the woman whipped and the infant thrown down a well, but when he saw the child had his eyes, Roose stayed his hand and agreed to aid them — he gave the woman back the farm her husband's brother had stolen from her, had the man's tongue cut out to stop him telling tales to Rickard Stark, Roose's liege, and periodically sent the woman a few pigs, chickens and coin to help bring up the bastard child on the condition she never tell the boy who his father was.

Roose thinks that the woman may have had a hand in turning Ramsay on to desiring goals outside the rights of a bastard. They also discuss Domeric Bolton, Roose's true-born son, whom Roose suspects was killed by Ramsay. He also suspects that any trueborn sons he has with his new wife Ramsay will likely kill, though he admits this might be best, as he believes he will not live long enough to raise new sons to manhood and considers child lords the bane of a House.

They finally arrive at Barrow Hall, where Reek is brought to Barbrey Dustin, Lady of Barrowton. He is introduced as Theon Greyjoy, true Lord of the Iron Islands, which frightens him into fits, having been tortured into calling himself Reek. She asks Roose if Theon has gone mad, and Bolton replies he most likely has, but it doesn't matter. Reek claims he is not the turncloak; Theon Greyjoy died at Winterfell.

Tyrion VIII

Tyrion, Jorah and Penny are aboard the "Selaesori Qhoran", a trading cog on the way to Qarthnote . He watches the evening prayer led by Moqorro, a red priest from the Summer Islands and The Dragon to Benerro, R'hllor's High Priest in Volantis. Tyrion ask Moqorro what he sees in the flames, to which he replies dragons, true and false, with Tyrion in the middle of it all.

Tyrion befriends Penny, uneasily at first. He apologizes for what has happened to her brother Oppo and tells her it was not him that killed her brother, but rather his sister Cersei. Regardless, she still blames Tyrion and barges off. Later, there is a terrible storm, following which Tyrion spies Penny again. She says that the storm frightened her and she thought she may have died. Penny tells Tyrion that she does not truly blame him for the death of Oppo.

After their talks, Penny spends more time up on the deck, whereas earlier she spent much of the time hiding away in her cabin. They began to spend more time together, Tyrion's wit begins to cheer her up, and he hears her laugh and act a lot more like the girl she is.

They then draw close to the coast of Valyria. Tyrion sees the fires of the Fourteen Flamesnote . As they draw closer, Tyrion thinks about the prophecies and if they may be confused with multiple Targaryens. Moqorro says that he has seen in his flames that there are others seeking Daenerys. Tyrion asks Moqorro what else he has seen, to which he replies that he sees only their shadows, but one most of all; a tall and twisted thing, with one black eye, ten arms, sailing on a sea of bloodnote .

Bran III

Bran, Hodor, Jojen, and Meera are still dwelling in the cave of the children of the Forest and exploring its chambers. Bran uses his ability as a warg and skinchanger to enter Summer and Hodor. They begin to name some of the "children," as their own names are unpronounceable by the human tongue. Bran names one of the females Leaf, as she is always adorned with leaves. She is one of the few children who can speak the Common Tongue. Others are called Ash, Scales, Black Knife, Snowylocks, and Coals.

Jojen is growing extremely sad and solemn, and still has fits of shaking. His sister Meera does her best to keep up the spirits of both her brother and Bran.

The three-eyed crow teaches Bran how to enter into ravens. He learns that all of the ravens around the three-eyed crow have children who have passed away and remain in the skins of these animals. He also learns to use weirwoods to look into the past. The three-eyed crow tells Bran that he was once a lord called Brynden.

The children feed Bran a bowl of weirwood paste to awaken his greenseeing gifts. Bran sees his father, Eddard, through Winterfell's heart tree, and learns that he can view the past, present and future through the weirwoods. The last greenseer tells Bran that he is haunted by his own ghosts: a brother that he loved, a brother that he hated, and a woman that he desirednote  but knows from experience that you cannot change the past. When he gets tired, he sends Bran away. Hodor carries Bran to his bed.

In his sleep, Bran sees the following visions through Winterfell's heart tree:

His young father praying with a bowed head: "... let themnote  grow up close as brothers, with only love between them, and let my lady wife find it in her heart to forgive.";

A girl and a younger boy play-fighting with branches;note 

A pregnant woman coming out of the black pool, praying for a son to avenge her;

A slender girl on her toes kissing a knight as tall as Hodor;note 

A pale, dark-eyed youth cutting three branches from the weirwood and shaping them into arrows;

Other lords of Winterfell: tall, hard, stern men in fur and chain mail;

A bearded man forcing a captive down on his knees, and a white-haired woman killing the captive with a bronze sickle.

Jon VII

A respite at the falling of snow motivates Jon to range beyond the Wall, leading the new recruits of the Night's Watch who follow the old gods to the same grove of weirwoods in the haunted forest where he and Sam swore their vows. Scouting ahead of them go Tom Barleycorn, Big Liddle and Luke of Longtown. Bowen Marsh protests the danger, but Jon insists on the importance of the ritual for new brothers of the Watch.

There are six new recruits — Hareth the Horse from Mole's Town, Arron and Emrick from Fair Isle, Satin from Oldtown and the wildlings Leathers and Jax.

Of the sixty-three wildlings that Jon invited to join the Watch, Leathers and Jax are the only two to take the black so far. Among the others wildlings come to the Wall, nineteen are girls and women and were sent to Hardin's Tower to avoid trouble with the men in Castle Black. Their presence makes the men uneasy and there has already been an incident. The spearwives know how to defend themselves and their girls, and three men had to be locked in ice cells.

Jon means to garrison Deep Lake, Sable Hall and Long Barrow with wildlings under command of offices of the Night's Watch, and to choose an almost completely female contingent for Long Barrow in order to avoid future harassment. Iron Emmett and Dolorous Edd will be Long Barrow's commander and chief steward.

Other wildlings are also a cause of tension and incidents with the Brothers of the Night's Watch, most noticeably Halleck and his followers. Jon is also worried that the Thenns may blame him for the death of Styr.

Tom Barleycorn finds a small group of wildlings, including a child and his mother, a Thenn, a Hornfoot and a giant in the weirwood grove. With the advantage of surprise and an effort at diplomacy from Leathers, they succeed in avoiding a fight and even convince the survivors to return to Castle Black with them.

The recruits swear their vows in the presence of the wildlings. As he hears the verse about guarding the realms of men, Jon realizes that his duties involve protecting the wildlings as well as any other men.

They return to Castle Black, bringing the wildlings they found and the corpses of two others who died of the cold. Jon consigns the corpses to the ice cells and receives a letter from Stannis, learning that he succeeded at taking Deepwood Motte and received support from various northern clans and houses along the way, including survivors from the battle at Winterfell. His troops now number five thousand and growing. Stannis has also learned that Ramsay Bolton means to marry Arya in Winterfell and promises Jon to save her if he can. He means to have the help of Arnolf Karstark and Mors Umber at his attempt to conquer Winterfell.

Jon wonders if Arya could have escaped without Stannis's help, as predicted by Melisandre, since Roose Bolton wouldn't be careless enough to lose a prize of value like Arya. He also wonders if Roose Bolton could be lying about having Arya in order to bait Stannis (remembering that his own father never trusted Roose, even if the Lord of the Dreadfort never caused Ned any trouble) and thinks about Mance Rayder and the six spearwives who went with him to rescue Arya.

Daenerys VI

Daenerys and her retinue pay a visit to the refugee camp around Meereen, overflowing with survivors from the Sack of Astapor. Food and water are scarce and disease is running rampant. Despite the fear of her Dothraki guards, who consider it bad luck to approach or touch the dead and dying, Daenerys personally tries to help the sick and injured, and before long, the rest of her group are doing likewise. Grey Worm and a detachment of his Unsullied are summoned to help dispose of the dead.

Daenerys returns to her pyramid in Meereen, where Irri and Jhiqui are arguing about Rakharo. She takes a much-needed bath and dons a tokar to dine with Hizdahr zo Loraq. Reznak mo Reznak and Galazza Galare inform her that her body must be inspected by the man's house before the wedding; Daenerys flatly refuses to go along with it. She is asked to open the fighting pits as a wedding gift but refuses to do that as well.

While waiting for dinner, Hizdahr informs her that Yunkai will make peace for a fee and the freedom to resume slaving, but then Ser Barristan notifies her that the Yunkai'i are on the march and Daario Naharis has returned. Daenerys excuses herself from dinner and meets with Daario.

Daario informs her that several of Yunkai's sellswords defected to him, but Brown Ben Plumm and the Second Sons in turn went over to Yunkai (Daenerys is horrified, believing this to be the betrayal for gold Mirri Maz Duur warned her about). Daenerys commands the gates closed (with the Astapori outside), and then gives in to her desires and beds Daario.

The Prince of Winterfell

The false Arya, Jeyne Poole, is preparing for her marriage to Ramsay Bolton, more out of fear than anything. Theon warns her that she should think of herself as Arya Stark at all times in order to avoid the dangers of enraging Ramsay. Jeyne, who is understandably terrified of Ramsay, having heard the rumours about him, begs Theon to spirit her away, but Theon is too badly scarred mentally to even think of attempting Always Save the Girl.

Theon has been chosen to ceremoniously present "Arya" in marriage to Ramsay, since he was the longtime ward of Eddard Stark and it is widely believed that Arya's trueborn brothers are dead, while Jon Snow is a bastard half-brother. Theon believes Bran and Rickon Stark to be alive, but he does not dare to reveal that.

Meanwhile, Winterfell is suffering from both a hard white frost and the looming menace of the coming of Stannis Baratheon's troops. Even so, Ramsay marries Fake Arya in the godswood, surrounded by the Boltons and their northern allies. Theon briefly considers urging Jeyne to reveal her true identity, proving the marriage a sham, but despite the prospect of a quick death for them both, he can't bring himself to do it.

A bard by the name of Abel arrives uninvited, with six women followers, to perform for the weddingnote . Theon believes that he hears his name whispered by the godswood, after months of thinking of himself only as Reek. That and the memories of a different life in a far livelier Winterfell shake him deeply.

After the marriage, there is a banquet with many northern guests, including Lord Wyman Manderly, who is particularly pleased with the meal, personally serving a trio of immense pork piesnote . Lady Barbrey Dustin engages in a surprisingly frank conversation with Theon about her mistrust of the Boltons and of the maesters of the Citadel.

As the feast dies down, Roose summons his fellow northerners to draw up battleplans against Stannis; when Hosteen Frey urges them to launch an immediate attack, Roose counsels patience (Theon knowing this is because Arnolf Karstark plans to betray Stannis at an opportune moment). Theon, however, is forced to bring the bride to Ramsay for the consummation (Jeyne has clearly been drowning her sorrows to make the prospect easier).

In Ramsay's quarters, Ramsay forces Theon to strip the bride naked; Theon is shocked to see how young she is, not to mention scars on her back that imply she's been whippednote . Since Jeyne is more terrified than aroused, Ramsay forces Theon to perform cunnilingus on her to warm her up. Too afraid to try and attack Ramsay or give Jeyne a Mercy Kill, Theon meekly bends to his task.

The Watcher

At the court of Sunspear, Areo Hotah, captain of Prince Doran Martell's personal guard, watches as Balon Swann of the Kingsguard, having finally arrived at the Dornish capitalnote  presents the skull of Gregor Clegane, at long last fulfiling the Iron Throne's long demanded obligation to provide justice for the murders of Princess Elia Martell and her children by Rhaegar Targaryen. Seemingly satisfied, Doran declares a toast to King Tommen, but Areo notices many of the gathered Dornish nobility, including the Sand Snakes, do not drink.

At the feast that follows, Ser Balon invites Doran to return with him to King's Landing to take the seat offered to Dorne on the Small Council, along with Princess Myrcella and Prince Trystane, her betrothed. When Doran proposes going by ship, Ser Balon is adamant in his refusal, urging the Prince to travel by land, as apparently pirate attacks in the region have gotten worse. During the feast, Areo notes that Balon is Above the Influence of Princess Arianne's attempts to seduce him, and concludes this Kingsguard will be more of a challenge than his late brother-in-arms, Arys Oakheart.

When the feast ends, Prince Doran summons his daughter and nieces to his solar, watched over by Hotah. Obara angrily points out that if Doran and Trystane go to King's Landing, they'll be hostages against Dorne's loyalty for the rest of their lives and asks what's going to happen when Balon sees the state of Myrcella and hears what happened to Ser Arys ... only for Arianne to interject that she's convinced Myrcella to claim it was Gerold "Darkstar" Dayne, not Areo Hotah, who killed Arys Oakheart as well as maiming her.

Doran also reveals that the whole purpose of his and Trystane's invitation to King's Landing is so Cersei can have Trystane killed; somewhere along the kingsroad, the Dornish party will be attacked by outlaws, and Trystane will die in the attack. Blame for it will be put on Tyrion, as the attackers will be shouting "Half-man!" while Balon will claim to see a glimpse of the Imp.

The Sand Snakes are incredulous at this, but Doran reminds them the Kingsguard are sworn to obey the crown, regardless of their personal feelings, as well as pointing out Balon's protestations to a sea journey, which would have ruined the plan.

A furious Obara wants to Make an Example of Them, but Doran insists he won't stoop to Walder Frey's level by murdering guests under his protection. Dorne isn't in a position to openly defy the Iron Throne, so he has no choice but to send Myrcella back to King's Landing, but neither Doran or Trystane will go with her.

Doran sets a task for each of the Sand Snakes: Obara is to accompany Balon Swann in hunting down and killing Darkstar; Nymeria will escort Myrcella back to King's Landing, then take up Oberyn's place on the Small Council, giving Dorne an ear in the halls of power; while Tyene, whose mother was a septa, is to enter the Great Sept of Baelor in disguise and try and ingratiate herself with the High Sparrow.

Jon VIII

Jon reluctantly dispatches Val north of the Wall, hoping she can find Tormund Giantsbane: Jon wants to offer his old comrade under Mance safe passage through the Wall in exchange for an alliance against the Others.

Later the same day, Jon is confronted by a delegation of the Watch's senior officers, who raise complaints about his recent decisions: they don't approve of his making Leathers, a former wildling, master at arms of Castle Black, his choice of Satin as his steward (they think it will demean the Watch if a youth formerly working in The Oldest Profession became Lord Commander), his seeming support of Stannis and the wildlings, as well as the fact Jon has been keeping two dead wildlings in an ice cell in the hope they rise again, ignoring Jon's reasonable point that the Watch knows barely anything about the wights or their masters and need more information about their enemy.

Overriding their protests, Jon reveals recent news he has received: thousands of wildlings, at the direction of a woods-witch called Mother Mole, have fled to Hardhome, an abandoned village with an extremely bloody and unsavoury history, Mother Mole having claimed they would find ships to take them to safety there. Hardhome and the surrounding countryside are desolate and devoid of life, and Jon fears the wildlings there will either freeze or starve to death.

When he gets nothing but indifference from the other officers, Jon finally loses his patience and angrily spells out what doing nothing will result in: the wildlings at Hardhome will die in droves, and then the Others will resurrect them and gain thousands more wights to throw at the Night's Watch.

Tyrion IX

With the Selaesori Qhoran floating becalmed in the Gulf of Grief, Tyrion jousts on Penny's 'Pretty Pig' for the amusement of the crew in hopes of sweetening their mood. Attempts to tow the cog north using small rowboats in hope of finding a breeze have been unsuccessful. Some of the crew laugh, but in private, Jorah warns Tyrion that many among them are seeing Penny, a woman aboard a ship, as an ill omen, and are even thinking of using her dog and pig for food.

Tyrion and Penny are talking when the ship suddenly starts to move. Everyone cheers until they notice the storm front looming on the horizon. Moqorro states that this is the storm from his visions (the reason that the ship won't reach Qarth). During the storm, the main mast breaks, crippling the ship. Moqorro and others are swept overboard, the captain and the cook die, and Tyrion is wounded from a splinter.

For nineteen days, the ship barely manages to stay afloat as food and water dwindle and the sun beats down on them relentlessly. Then a sail turns up on the horizon, reigniting hope in them until Jorah realizes it's a slaver ship.

The Turncloak

A winter snowstorm has hit Winterfell. Roose Bolton comments that the northern gods do not favour Stannis, as he is at the mercy of the weather while they are sheltered in Winterfell. His men cheer, but Theon does not join in and notes that the Freys do not join in either, unfamiliar with the north that has claimed three of their lives already.

Wyman Manderly is eating at a feast of porridge, while Harwood Stout and Whoresbane Umber chat. Theon spent the whole last night awake dreaming of escape, but ultimately decides he has no where to go; he is a ruined man in a ruined castle, and this is where he belongs. The bard Abel plays "The Dornishman's Wife" with one of his women beating a drum, but he switches the lyrics to a northman instead. Theon fears that this will be seen as a spite to the Boltons, cost the man his life, angering Ramsay and getting Theon flayed as a result. But when both of the Boltons laugh, the others laugh as well and join in with the bawdy song.

His thoughts fall to the fake Arya, who remains locked away in her room. There are whispers that Ramsay keeps her chained naked to the bed, but Theon believes that it is only the guards that keep her there. He has seen bruises on her body as Sour Alyn has assigned Theon as Jeyne's handmaid. Theon told her that Ramsay only hurts people when they make him angry, so she should do as he says and no harm will come to her. But she only cried and called him Theon, and he corrected her, telling her that his name is Reek.

Rowan, one of the bard's women, comes up to Theon and asks him about his exploits, telling him that Abel can make a song about his capture of Winterfell. She questions him on how he was able to conquer Winterfell so easily, wondering if there was a secret entrance or another way that he used to get in. Theon thinks this is another ploy from Ramsay to humiliate him and leaves.

Outside there is a snowball fight between boys from the Rills and Barrowton, while squires build snowmen along the battlements. Theon observes that a new stable has been built, twice as large as the one that was burned down. He wanders through the castle and passes Rickard Ryswell cuddling one of Abel's women. He observes that they have few provisions to last the winter in the keep, but thinks that Stannis is in the same situation.

He eventually arrives at the weirwood, kneeling before the heart tree. There he apologizes for something, and asks for something that he is unsure of — strength? He hears someone crying and leaves, thinking that there are ghosts in Winterfell, and he is one of them.

Theon returns and sees that to command the snowmen, the squires have built a dozen snowy lords, including ones resembling Lord Wyman Manderly, Lord Harwood Stout, Lady Barbrey Dustin, and Whoresbane Umber. Lady Dustin asks him if he can show her the way to the crypts, as she cannot access them from the dungeons.

As her men dig through the snow, Lady Dustin asks Theon to convince Ramsay to treat Arya better. The northmen love the Starks and hate the Boltons, remaining loyal only out of fear and Ramsay's abuse of Arya is only enraging them further, damaging morale more effectively than the threat of Stannis.

Inside the crypts, they find that some of the dead kings' swords are missingnote . A bad omen, Theon thinks, as the swords are said to protect the crypt and keep the spirits of the dead from wandering. Lady Dustin asks Theon why he loves the Starks, and Theon reluctantly explains he always wanted to be one, but never could.

Dustin remarks that they are similar in that regard, explaining how Brandon Stark was her First Love: she lost her maidenhead to Brandon and insists Brandon was enamored with her rather than with his betrothed, Catelyn Tully. Rickard Stark arranged the betrothal of his eldest son to Catelyn, a match that served his ambitions more than one to Lady Barbrey, a daughter of one of his own northern vassals.

After Brandon's betrothal to Catelyn, the ambitious Lord Ryswell wanted Barbrey to marry Eddard, but after Rickard and Brandon were both murdered by the Mad King, Eddard fulfilled his older brother’s betrothal to Catelyn to ensure support from Riverrun during Robert's Rebellion. Left to marry Lord Willam Dustin, she blames Ned for Lord Dustin's death at the Tower of Joy during Robert's Rebellion. She felt slighted that Eddard buried her husband in Dorne, yet went to great lengths to transport his sister's body north to be buried at Winterfell.

She claims that she intends to seize Ned Stark's bones, delayed by the Ironborn's occupation of Moat Cailin, and feed them to her dogs, rather than let them be buried in the crypt. On the way back up she tells him to repeat nothing to the Boltons. Theon swears he will not, to which she says he has been trained well, leaving him there.

The King's Prize

Stannis's host departs from Deepwood Motte, having retaken it from the Ironborn and restored the castle to its rightful owners in House Glover. Asha Greyjoy is chained and carried on at the back of the baggage train under guard by Alysane Mormont.

The rest of the Ironborn who survived their flight with her from Deepwood Motte remain in the castle's dungeons, Asha having requested Stannis spare her men's lives in exchange for her surrender. Stannis means to bring her to Winterfell to show off the Kraken's daughter as his captive and a sign of his strength. They believe the three hundred mile march through the Wolfswood should take them about fifteen days to Winterfell.

She bent her knee at Deepwood Motte, but thinks to herself that others have bent the knee before, such as her father Balon, who rose again to fight another day. She listens to talk between the northmen (or at least those who will talk in her presence, since most of the northmen despise her for Theon's murders of Bran and Rickon), seeing their pride in their king, though she predicts many if not all will die in a siege attempt of Winterfell. Ser Justin Massey takes a courteous nature with Asha, treating her well. She believes he is after her lands, but takes his company over being left alone.

After a few nights, she is brought to Stannis and tries to treat with him. She offers to convince Dagmer Cleftjaw, still besieged at Torrhen's Square, to join forces with Stannis, reminding the king that his brother Robert Baratheon was renowned for turning his foes into friends, but Stannis angrily orders her out of his presence. Afterwards, Ser Justin warns her not to mention Robert in Stannis's presence.

The snow begins to take a toll on the passage of the southern men; however the northmen are used to this weather and proceed quickly. Later she hears the queensmen, worshipers of the Lord of Light, begin to contemplate a sacrifice to appease their god and blow the storm away. Stannis does not listen to them, nor does he listen to the pleas to make camp and wait out the storm.

After fifteen days, the estimated time of arrival, they have only made half the distance through nine days of storm. After thirty days, they have yet to reach Winterfell. Morgan Liddle, a man who nearly slayed her at Deepwood Motte, comes to apologize, but only for calling her a cunt, not for nearly killing her.

The marchers finally reach a small crofters' village where they make camp and try to catch some fish from nearby frozen lakes. Asha realizes that Stannis is now a gaunt figure, having lost much weight on the march. They are encamped now and locked in by snow, unable to move. Worse, they have almost no provisions, and are starving.

Daenerys VII

Daenerys Targaryen wakes up beside Daario Naharis, having taken him as her lover for the past few nights. She is hesitant about her upcoming wedding to Hizdahr zo Loraq. Daario asks her to marry him instead, but he knows that she cannot and will not. Outside, the Yunkai are massing more ships, building siege weapons to throw rocks at the city. However, no rams or siege towers are built, as the siege is intended to cause famine and disease to force Meereen to succumb.

Daario urges Daenerys to hold court, since some of his new men, defectors from the Windblown, are all Westerosi, born and bred on stories of Targaryens and want to see the real thing. During the session in court, Daario presents his new men to Daenerys, who takes an interest in three particular specimens from Dorne, nicknamed Gerrold (an handsome young man), Greenguts (a fearsome looking bald knight) and Frog (an unimpressive young squire) whom Daario claims wish to present a gift to her.

Once Daenerys allows them a private audience, the three reveal their true identities to her; Gerris Drinkwater, Archibald Yronwood and Prince Quentyn Martell. Quentyn presents a roll of parchment to her, which Daenerys discovers is a secret pact of alliance between Dorne and the Targaryens signed by Willem Darry and Prince Oberyn Martell with the Sealord of Braavos as a witness, offering Viserys Dorne's aid in retaking the Iron Throne in return for Viserys taking Prince Doran Martell's eldest daughter Arianne as his queen.

Daenerys and Barristan conclude (and Quentyn confirms) that Viserys was deliberately kept ignorant of the pact for fear he would have gone straight to Sunspear as soon as he came of age had he known a beautiful Dornish princess was waiting for him, and thus brought Robert's wrath down on himself and House Martell. Dany laughs at Quentyn taking the nickname of Frog as she remembers the story of a frog turning into a prince.

Growing more serious, Daenerys realise that if she wants the alliance with Dorne, she and Quentyn will have to take the places of their siblings in marriage. Quentyn and his companions insist Dorne is loyal to her, but a humiliated Daario sneers Quentyn is Just a Kid and Skahaz and Reznak point out a marriage to Quentyn won't solve her problems in Meereen.

Dismissing her advisors, Daenerys orders Quentyn and his companions housed in quarters fitting to their stations. Barristan urges her to accept the alliance, based on his own experience serving in her father's Kingsguard with Quentyn's great-uncle Lewyn Martell, but Daenerys is less convinced, recognizing Quentyn and the arms of House Martell as the sun's son Quaithe warned her to be wary about.

Knowing the needs of her subjects in Meereen are greater than those in Westeros, Daenerys decides to press ahead with her marriage to Hizdahr. The Dornishmen make one last plea before Dany's wedding, which she denies (though she tries to reassure Quentyn that much and more may change before she sets sail for Westeros), and then sets off with Barristan Selmy and an entourage of Brazen Beasts for the wedding.

En route, Barristan tells Daenerys about other marriages amongst her family at her request; he relates that Rhaegar's marriage with Elia Martell was a happy marriage, if not a loving one, but her parents' marriage was a disaster because the pair despised each other. When Daenerys asks why they married in that case, Barristan replies her grandfather, King Jahaerys II, believed the Prince That Was Promised would be born from their union. He also goes on to explain who the pair would have married had the choice been up to them: Daenerys's mother, Rhaella was deeply in love with Ser Bonifer Hasty, a young knight from the Stormlands who won a tournament in her honour. After she married Aerys, Bonifer found religion and became very pious, insisting no one but the Maiden could replace Rhaella in his heart. As for Daenerys's father, he had a thing for his best friend's girlfriend: he was obsessed with Joanna Lannister, Tywin Lannister cousin and betrothed. Barristan reluctantly admits that at the Lannisters' wedding, Aerys made a number of off-color jokes about Droit du Seigneur and used the bedding ceremony to cop a feel.note 

Upon arrival at the Temple of the Graces, Daenerys goes through with her marriage to Hizdahr zo Loraq.

Jon IX

Queen Selyse arrives at Castle Black with Shireen, Patchface, Axell Florent, and others, all on their way to the Nightfort. They are accompanied by Tycho Nestoris, an emissary of the Iron Bank of Braavos. Jon warns Selyse that the Nightfort is still mostly in ruins and advises her that they may be most comfortable at Eastwatch-by-the-Sea.

The queen says that they are not safe there and insists on going to the Nightfort, but conversation is interrupted by the appearance of Wun Wun appears, shocking the queen and her party. The giant speaks a few kind words, but mangles them and Jon explains to the awestruck Shireen he is only just learning the Common Tongue, as all giants speak the Old Tongue. Wun Wun's laugh startles and frightens the group, causing Ser Patrek to draw his sword. Jon warns him to never draw his sword against a giant, as he is protected by guest right here, which Jon says they still honor in the north, though the south may not.

After Selyse and her entourage depart to speak with Melisandre, Jon offers to give Tycho a tour atop the Wall, but he prefers to speak with Jon now, preferably in a warm room. Tycho tells Jon that the Iron Throne has ceased all debt payments to the Iron Bank.

Jon thinks this must be madness on the part of the Lannisters. He thinks that the Iron Bank may want to support Stannis in his war to ensure that the debt is eventually paid. Jon asks for a favour: to borrow ships and a loan to keep the Night's Watch fed until spring. Tycho says this is impossible, but after a few hours of drinking and haggling they strike a deal.

With the three ships added to the Eastwatch fleet, Jon counts that they now have eleven ships. He hopes to bring the wildlings down from Hardhome around the Wall in order to save them and not have them become more wights in thrall to the Others. However, he is unsure if Mother Mole will be desperate enough to trust her people to the men of the Night's Watch.

He discusses things further with Tycho; he asks after Maester Aemon, Gilly, and Sam, but Tycho knows nothing and Jon can merely hope they have reached Oldtown. They talk about an unknown fleet prowling the narrow sea and rumors of dragons coming from the east, Jon joking that a dragon would warm things up. Tycho says sternly that his people are descended from those who fled the dragonlords of Valyria and they do not joke lightly about such, so Jon apologizes.

They make their way to the common hall, where Axell Florent asks Jon to see Val. Jon surmises that he must know the woman is gone. He then excuses himself and leaves, pondering the dangers of the agreement with Tycho, uncertain if the Watch will ever be able to repay the Iron Bank and thus avoid consequences. But Jon knows that between being bankrupt and dead, he made the right choice.

He also takes another moment to marvel on the stupidity of the Lannisters; the Iron Bank is notorious for deposing royalty who don't repay their debts and he notes that if Stannis makes a deal with the Braavosi, he will acquire enough money to hire numerous sellsword companies, to bribe as many lords as he needs and keep his men fed, armed and supplied. Jon muses that unless "Stannis is lying dead beneath the walls of Winterfell, he may just have won the Iron Throne".

He goes to sleep but is awoken by Mully, who tells him that a girl has arrived on a dying horse. Jon's thoughts instantly go to Melisandre's vision and he giddily thinks that Arya may have come to him as prophesied. He also thinks about plans to keep Arya safe; she cannot stay at the Wall, for Stannis will just marry her off to one of his vassals so as to gain a claim to Winterfell, and Jon doesn't know but fears what Melisandre may want with her — Jon speculates that he might be able to convince Tycho to make arrangements to have Arya fostered with some noble family in Braavos or the Free Cities.

When he meets her, however, to his disappointment Jon sees that the girl in question is not Arya; she is too old. He recognises her as Alys Karstark, having met her before when they were both children, when her father brought her to Winterfell in hope of negotiating an Arranged Marriage between her and Robb.

Alys warns him not to let her Evil Uncle Cregan Karstarknote  take her back with him when he arrives, as he and his father Arnolf Karstark intend to force her into marrying Cregan. She also learns the truth about her father's execution from Jon and is unsurprised to learn that Robb killed him for murdering prisoners in a fit of rage; her father was a brooding man, and her uncles are no better.

Alys asks Jon if there is still a blood feud between them after the death of her father, but he assures her that men of the Night's Watch hold no grudges. She tells him that after Jaime Lannister killed her two elder brothers and her betrothed at the Battle of the Whispering Wood, she and her brother Harry are the rightful heirs to their titles. However, Harrion has been a captive for more than a year; Arnolf only declared Karhold for Stannis in the hope it would provoke the Lannisters to execute Harrion. If that happened, Alys would be heir to Karhold, at which point Cregan would marry her, get a child from her and then get rid of her.

Jon offers to write to Stannis about the matter on her behalf, but Alys reveals that the Karstarks are playing Stannis false; they have long been in league with Roose Bolton and are only waiting for his word to betray Stannis. Alys entreats Jon to protect her, pleading that he is the only hope she has left.

The Blind Girl

The girl known as Arya Stark wakes up after entering into Nymeria again; she remembers being feared, but only when she dreams.

Arya is still in the House of Black and White in Braavos. She has been blinded, to train her to use her other senses: recognize lies from the tone of voice, walk and work without seeing, even fight. She calls herself Blind Beth now. She goes over her list of names, but remembers that that was someone else, not her, not Blind Beth.

The kindly man asks her his usual question about three things she has learned. Arya learns to play the lying game with the waif; this time, however, she is blind, so she learns to use tone of voice to hear the lies. Arya has gotten better at speaking High Valyrian, though the kindly man insists she learn the languages of Lys and Pentos as well. As she continues to learn her skills as a blind girl, the kindly man tells her that she has five senses and she should learn to use the other four. An acolyte gets into a duel of staffs with her, teasing her throughout the lesson.

She reminisces that she liked being the Cat of the Canals; she thinks about when she killed Dareon, the deserter from the Night's Watch. The Kindly Man told her that they are not gods to judge who lives or dies, they are just servants of Him of Many Faces. He explains that they are death's instruments, not death itself.

As she goes out to beg, the waif helps her to look the part, putting on a blindfold and giving her pox scars to make her look ugly. As she goes out into Braavos past the Inn of the Green Eel, she goes over the areas where she has begged in her mind. Arya crosses the Bloody Bridge and makes her way to Pynto at the end of Ragman's Harbor near the edge of the Drowned Town.

She hears that two Lyseni pirate ships — the Goodheart and the Elephant — were driven north by a storm and found wildlings at Hardhome. The wildlings were eager to board the ships that were prophesied by the woods witch leading them, and the pirates took the women and children on board, intending to sell them as slaves. The Goodheart was damaged in another storm and was forced to make for Braavos, where the Sealord seized the ship and freed the wildlings held captive since slavery is forbidden in Braavos.

Arya regularly has wolf dreams, and it is revealed that she has also learned to enter a cat. She uses knowledge gained through the cat's eyes to impress the kindly man, telling him that she knows it has been him who is hitting her but without mentioning the cat. Apparently this completes her blind training, because when she opens her eyes again, she sees a candle flame, and she has never seen anything so beautiful before.

A Ghost in Winterfell

One of Roger Ryswell's men has been found dead at the inner wall of Winterfell. Theon hears Lord Roger Ryswell declare that he must've fallen off the wall drunk, but he suspects it might have been murder, as do some others.

Roose Bolton and his host are still stuck inside Winterfell's walls due to the relentless snowstorms. They expect Stannis' forces to attack them, but have no idea how close he may be due to the storms. Tensions rise among the people inside Winterfell, with no one quite certain whether it is a good idea to wait passively for Stannis or to launch an attack against him. It doesn't help that food is somewhat scarce and distributed quite unevenly.

Holly, one of Abel the Bard's washer women, sits down next to Theon, who is upset that she has touched him. She asks him about the crypts, and a mistrusting Theon comes to the conclusion that she, Abel, and the other women want out of Winterfell. Theon sympathizes, but he fears Ramsay's wrath too much to get involved.

The next morning Aenys Frey's squire is found dead and naked outside in the snow. Later on that day, another man, a crossbowman sworn to House Flint, is found dead with a crushed skull, presumably from a horse kick (though Theon privately thinks he was killed with a club).

Nevertheless, the suspicions and tensions keep growing, to the point that open quarreling happens among the host's Lords inside the Great Hall. Some are tired of waiting for Stannis and want to attack him. A fight nearly breaks out as Ser Hosteen and Aenys Frey blame Wyman Manderly for the deaths of Rhaegar, Jared, and Symond. It almost comes to a duel before Roger Ryswell and Barbrey Dustin calm them down, though Roose does nothing throughout the near altercation and Theon sees something new in Roose's eyes for the first time: a hint of fear.

Soon, the newly rebuilt stable collapses from the weight of the snow on its roof, killing two men and twenty-six horses. Roose Bolton gives orders for the surviving horses to be brought inside the walls of Winterfell.

A more suspicious death is discovered amidst the rubble of the stables, that of Yellow Dick found stabbed to death with his namesake cut off and stuffed down his throat. This death is taken more seriously, as it cannot be confused with an accident and he is one of Ramsay Bolton's Bastard Boys. Despite Roose ordering the body disposed off and the murder surpressed, by the end of the day, pretty much everyone knows (largely due to Ramsay going around ranting about his plans for Avenging the Villain).

Theon considers that a hooded man whom he met in the night may be responsible for the murder. Theon is later ushered to see Roose by Steelshanks Walton. Roose says that Theon has been seen where all the murders have occurred, but he is freed from the suspicions due to his weakened physical and psychological state, as remarked by Lady Dustin and Roger Ryswell. However, it is now undeniable that someone has been committing murders, possibly at Stannis' behest.

The resulting suspicion inflames the tensions between the Freys and the Northmen, who are reminded of their role at the Red Wedding and the fact they are surrounded by northern Houses who all lost people at the Red Wedding and have more than good reason to despise and do harm to the Freys.

Suddenly, a war horn and drum is sounded, and the men inside the walls begin to believe that Stannis has arrived. Theon is hopeful that he might be killed if Stannis attacks, wishing to die in battle. Theon goes to pray in the godswood, seeing hints of Bran's very face in the weirwood, hearing it whisper his name. Theon breaks down in tears and begs merely for the chance to die as himself, not as Reek.

Holly, Rowan and a third washerwoman appear, claiming to have come for him. Theon believes that they are behind the murders and want to kill him now, but they deny his suspicions and insist that there will be no more hurt for him but instead a nice, quick death — though first, he must see Abel.

Tyrion X

All remaining crewmen and passengers of the Selaesori Qhoran are sold into slavery in a Yunkish camp near Meereen. Tyrion and Penny are sold together to Yezzan zo Qaggaz, an immensely fat Yunkish man and one of the commanders of the Yunkish forces (though a dark-skinned Westerosi sellsword tries hard to buy them — Tyrion suspects this is because the sellsword knows him and wants to claim Cersei's bounty on his head) and put under the charge of his slave overseer, Nurse. Tyrion gets a few hints about keeping his smart mouth to himself along the way.

Tyrion sees Jorah Mormont brought on the auction block behind them. The knight tried to fight off the slavers, managing to kill three of them before being overwhelmed (the only reason the slavers didn't kill him was because their captain reasoned they'd get a good price for him); Jorah has been beaten, whipped and mistreated almost to the point of death and was beaten almost to the point of death, but the only thing that broke him was finding out Daenerys had married.

When he hears that Jorah is about to be bought by a slave owner who specialises in cheap fodder for Gladiator Games, for reasons unknown even to himself, Tyrion convinces Nurse that Mormont is an essential part of their show and needs to be bought too.

Once purchased, they are brought to Yezzan's pavilion (after a tour of the camp, where among other things, they're shown slingers using several slave escapees as target practice as a warning against doing likewise), where they meet some of his other "treasures" (read "freak show") and his most prized possession: Sweets, a hermaphrodite. They are also fitted with slave collars, which Tyrion does not mind, as he observes that collars can be removed.

There they find out that the sellsword who tried to buy them was Brown Ben Plumm of the Second Sons. In the evening, Tyrion and Penny are summoned to perform a joust at a banquet for the guests of Yezzan, including the Yunkish supreme commander Yurkhaz zo Yunzak. The joust is well received, following which they are to pour wine and water for the guests. One of the men heard Tyrion's boast of his skill at cyvasse. Tyrion plays against him and wins, angering the man. He also plays Ben Plumm as his master bets on him; he wins four of five matches, and earns much gold for his master.

As a reward for their great jousting performance, Nurse informs Tyrion and Penny they are to repeat it in the Great Pit of Daznak in front of tens of thousands of people.

Jaime I

Jaime arrives at Raventree Hall, the seat of House Blackwood, one of the last holdouts loyal to Robb Stark, under siege by Jonos Brackennote . The siege here is much smaller than the one at Riverrun, as the intent is not to storm the castle, but rather to starve them out. The siege has been going on for six months, and there isn't much hope of rescue for Tytos Blackwood — it's only a matter of time.

Jaime meets first with Lord Jonos, who is in an intimate position with Hildy, a camp follower Jonos had claimed as a prize of warnote . Hildy leaves, though not before flirting with Jaime (who to his surprise, finds her quite attractive).

Jaime inquires as to what Jonos seeks from the situation. Jonos insists on acquiring a quarter of the House Blackwood lands, saying that they were stolen from them long ago, and that Tywin Lannister promised them to Jonos if he subdued the Blackwoods. Jaime points out Bracken has failed to subdue Blackwood, as well as noting the Brackens were once an enemy of the king when they sided with the Starks, and keeping his head is more than enough compensation for what the Mountain did to his landsnote .

Bracken protests that he will keep faith with the crown as he did with the Starks; he adds that a dozen good men of his died at the Red Wedding with Robb Stark (which he openly calls murder), and he bent the knee because he saw no point in fighting on for a lost cause. Jaime remarks that Lord Jonos is a prudent man on hearing this, yet privately thinks Blackwood might be considered more honorable.

Jaime then goes to parley with Tytos Blackwood. Inside, he sees the castle's massive weirwood tree, from which the castle derives its name; the tree is black and leafless, covered in ravens that roost there every night. Tytos tells Jaime that it is the fault of the Brackens, poisoned and barren for a thousand years, and in another thousand it will turn to stone, as weirwoods never rot. As they treat, Jaime tells him that he does not have to physically kneel to him.

In Tytos' private quarters, they agree to a confession, fealty, pardon, and financial sum, as well as lands to be parcelled off to the Brackens. Tytos also asks that the body of his second son Lucas, who was killed at the Red Wedding, be returned so that his father can give him a proper burial. Jaime agrees to make the Freys do so.

Finally, they discuss the matter of a hostage. Jaime asks for Bethany, Lord Blackwood's daughter, but Tytos refuses, as she is his only daughter as well as a Daddy's Girl. They eventually agree to sending Tytos' son Hoster as he is a bookish boy who may enjoy his time in King's Landing and all the books there. Jaime then leaves quickly, as he has appointments in Riverrun and King's Landing. The boy is ready to leave with him within an hour.

Before departing, Jaime meets Ser Jonos to tell him the resolution, but also informs him that a daughter of his is to attend to the queen in the capital, as she too is to be a hostage.

Jaime rides to the village of Pennytree with Hoster (whose love of history and reading reminds Jaime of Tyrion). Hoster tells him of the history of the lands and animosity between the Blackwoods and Brackens. In the village stands an ancient oak tree with pennies nailed to it, the namesake of the village.

That night, Brienne of Tarth finds them, bandages on her face, and carrying the sword Oathkeeper. Brienne claims that she has found Sansa Stark, and that Jaime must accompany her alone or else Sandor Clegane will kill the girl.

Jon X

At Castle Black, Melisandre is conducting a marriage ceremony between Alys Karstark and Sigorn, the new Magnar of Thenn; the marriage will ensure Karhold is kept out of the hands of Arnolf Karstark and gives the Thenns legitmacy in the Seven Kingdoms. A few brothers of the Night's Watch (most of them Jon's allies) attend, along with Queen Selyse, her queen's men, and a few king's men that Stannis Baratheon left behind.

Meanwhile, Jon Snow has ordered Clydas to dispatch a raven to Deepwood Motte in order to warn Stannis of Arnolf Karstark's treachery. Tycho Nestoris, along with a few brothers Jon assigned him as guards, has departed to try and find Stannis on the road to Winterfell.

Both bride and groom seem a little nervous of each other, but are prepared to try and make it work. For the newly created House Thenn, Jon has had a sigil created for them; a bronze sun, surrounded by flames on a white field (symbolising the Thenns' origins in the Frostfangs and their talent at forging bronze, while harkening to the sunburst of House Karstark).

After the ceremony concludes, Jon reluctantly finds himself in the company of Melisandre, Selyse and Axell Florent. Melisandre makes an excuse and leaves while Selyse is rambling on about how much she wishes for her and Stannis to have a second wedding like that, while Axell admits that Stannis would approve of the marriage between a northern woman and a wildling man.

Jon manages to get away from the royal party and heads to the ice cells, where Cregan Karstark and the men who came with him trying to catch Alys. Cregan angrily protests his imprisonment, raging such treatment is forbidden by guest right; Jon retorts he never gave Cregan guest right, nor leave to carry Alys off against her will while she was under his protection (Jon intercepted Cregan and his party a day's ride from the Wall to prevent that).

Jon then informs Cregan that Alys has been wed, that any claim to Karhold if her brother Harrion is dead now goes to Alys and her husband, and the Thenns under Sigorn's command are more than sufficient to overwhelm the few defenders Karhold has left. In addition, the surviving men who came with Cregan (one was killed when he tried to attack Jon) and the men who rode out to intercept them have sworn to serve Alys and confirmed Cregan and Arnolf's plan to betray Stannis to Roose Bolton.

Jon bluntly tells Cregan he has two choices: either take the black, forfeit his claim to Karhold but get to keep his life, or refuse in the knowledge Stannis will have him executed when the king returns to Castle Black. Cregan is defiant, but Jon is confident time spent in the ice cell will change his mind.

At Alys and Sigorn's wedding feast, numerous brothers of the Watch get into the spirit of the festivities, dancing with Queen Selyse's maids and the serving girls on hand. Jon and Alys talk over the wedding feast, with Jon explaining to Alys details about wildling culture, particularly the Thenns, so Alys can get a better understanding of her husband and his people. Jon also requests that when winter comes, Karhold send any boys and old men she can spare to help fill the ranks of the Watch.

Clydas appears with a raven brought message that the relief fleet for Hardhome, delayed due to the bad weather, has now left Eastwatch-by-the-Sea. Cotter Pyke is commanding the fleet, having left behind Glendon Hewett in charge of Eastwatch. Jon is unsure of Glendon's loyalty due to his association with Janos Slynt and Alliser Thorne.

Axell Florent once again presses Jon to release the whereabouts of Val, as he intends to marry her, but Jon scoffs at the idea. Before the confrontation can continue between Jon and Axell, the festivities come to an abrupt end when a horn is sounded twice, announcing wildlings. Jon knows that Val has succeeded in her mission, and that Tormund Giantsbane has come at last.

Daenerys VIII

Hizdahr holds a feast in Meereen with the Yunkish lords and sellsword captains in attendance, to sign the peace and celebrate the imminent reopening of the fighting pits. However, the sellswords and slaves from Yunkai and its allies are still besieging Meereen. Just as in Meereen, the bloody flux has been affecting the Yunkish troops as well.

Daenerys is furious that she is having to laugh and dine with men she wants to have crucified, and enraged that the Yunkai'i are holding a slave market just outside the city, but Hizdahr tells her it is only for a time and to let them have their show and they will have their peace, with Yunkai keeping their slave trade and Meereen remaining out of it. Daenerys is not mollified, however, convinced the Yunkai'i are deliberately taunting her to her face while she's powerless to stop them.

The Yunkai'i have brought representatives of the four sellsword companies serving them: the Tattered Prince for the Windblown, Gylo Rhegan for the Long Lances, Bloodbeard for the Company of the Cat, and Brown Ben Plumm for the Second Sons. Daenerys is relieved by Daario's absence, since she knows that he would probably kill Plumm on the spot for his betrayal.

An exchange of seven hostages has been arranged in order to ensure a measure of peace during the cerimonies. The four sellsword captains and the three Yunkish nobles present (Yurkhaz zo Yunzak, Supreme Commander, and two others) are understood to be Daenerys' hostages for the time being, while Daenerys offers seven of her own to the Yunkish siege camp in exchange (Hizdar's sister, two of his cousins, her bloodrider Jhogo, her admiral Groleo, her Unsullied captain Hero, and Daario Naharis).

Skahaz mo Kandaq the Shavepate is absent as well, having been replaced as commander of the Brazen Beasts by Hizdahr zo Loraq's cousin, Marghaz zo Loraq. Were he not a hostage, Daario might be causing trouble. He is unhappy about Dany's wedding to Hizdahr, and he got furious when Quentyn Martell revealed that his group of Westerosi Windblowns had been ordered to "defect" to Meereen; Daario nearly slew them all in his rage, but Grey Worm intervened and stopped him, choosing instead to imprison the group of Windblown.

Brown Ben comes up to her and explains his defection, saying that it is natural for sellswords to change sides if they believe that it will improve their odds of survival. He claims that the Second Sons were troubled when they learned that Daenerys could not use her dragons to help fight the Yunkish forces. After he leaves, she asks Ser Barristan Selmy his opinion, as he was hiding and listening as always. He advises her that Brown Ben is quite truthful, and confirms that it is not wise to place trust in a sellsword.

Seeking ways to make up for the loss of the Second Sons, Dany asks Ser Barristan about the possibility of finding a rival leader in the group that might want to "remove" Brown Ben. Barristan thinks it possible, but doesn't know for certain. She then mentions the other three mercenary companies, prompting Barristan to offer to arrange a meeting with Gylo Rhegan or the Tattered Prince if she wants so.

Dany says that this is not the time or the place, as there are too many watchful eyes about. Barristan admits that he is not the best man for such work, and that back in Westeros, it would have been Littlefinger or the Spider to have done this kind of work.

Dany's mind turns back to the captured Westerosi turncloaks. She realizes that by freeing one of the Windblown she might establish negotiations with their leader, the Tattered Prince, and perhaps sway them to her cause. She first suggests and later commands Ser Barristan to send back the woman Meris as a gesture of her regard, knowing that their captain will get the messagenote . She wants to contact the Long Lances and the Company of the Cat as well.

Barristan advises against dealing with Bloodbeard of the Company of the Cat, however; he says that he reminds him of the Ninepenny Kingsnote , that he is much too greedy and much too dishonourable to be an asset. Daenerys feels that such men might be the easiest to sway, but decides to trust his counsel on this matter.

She then summons Quentyn to speak further, at Ser Barristan's suggestion. He still believes that the Dornish envoys are their best option for returning to Westeros, though Dany will not abandon her city. She speaks with him and brings him to the dragon pit to see her "children". She introduces Quentyn to Viserion and Rhaegal, telling him that Drogon is away hunting, and that she is a dragon as well. Dany gives Quentyn another piece of advice to leave Meereen, saying that he is not safe here, that men like Daario and Hizdahr could see him as a threat and eliminate him. He boldly — and perhaps foolishly — declines.

Dany then retires to bed, where Hizdahr is waiting for her, drunk and lustful. She allows him to have his way with her before he passes out. Missandei comes in and hears that the queen is unhappy and comforts her, talking of her home Naath. Eventually Daenerys falls asleep, though she dreads the morrow, when the fighting pits will reopen and blood will be spilled.

Theon I

Theon Greyjoy is with some of the spearwives as well as Abel in Winterfell's Great Hall, having been roped into their plan to rescue Arya (for reasons unknown, Theon keeps to himself the fact Arya is an imposter). He tells them that it is madness to try to escape, as Ramsay Bolton will hunt them down with his dogs.

Abel replies that by the sound of the horns, Stannis must be close, and it is unlikely Ramsay would ride out into that. Theon also begs that he not be allowed to fall back into Ramsay's hands alive, to which Squirrel replies "Abel's word".

Hosteen Frey barges into the halls, announcing that Little Walder, son of his brother Merrett, has been killed. Theon looks at the spearwives, but Rowan replies that this is no work of theirs. Big Walder implicates the Manderly men, saying that the boy went out to get some silver owed to him. Manderly asks after the boy's age:

"Nine, on his last nameday."
"So young," said Wyman Manderly. "Though mayhaps this was a blessing. Had he lived he would have grown up to be a Frey."
George R. R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons, pg. 676 (hardcover)

A vicious and bloody fight breaks out. By the time Bolton troops have gotten the situation under control, six White Harbor men and two Frey men are dead, as well as one of Ramsay's Bastard Boys, Luton.

Roose and Ramsay quell the tension by telling the men present if they want blood, they should turn their anger on Stannis; a raven recently arrived has provided the location of Stannis's camp and Roose has decided to take the battle to the Baratheon forces, ordering the Manderly and Frey forces to lead the attack. Hosteen replies that once they bring Roose Stannis' head, he will come for Wyman's; White Harbour knights reply Hosteen will have to go through them first. Before another fight can break out, Ramsay backs his father and orders them out to prepare for battle.

As the Manderly and Frey forces depart, Roose commands Abel to play them a song to calm everyone's nerves. It is then that Rowan grasps Theon's arm, telling him that the time must be now and that Abel can fend for himself. The plan is to dress the fake Arya up as Squirrel, while the real Squirrel climbs away down the wall.

After acquiring bath water so as to have a reason to get into her room, they find Jeyne cowering in a corner. She is too terrified to leave, thinking this is a trap set up by Ramsay. The women are shocked at the scale of Domestic Abuse Ramsay has inflicted on hernote .

At Rowan's urging, Theon calms Jeyne down (though he takes great care to call her Arya) and assures her this is a genuine rescue. They finally get her into Squirrel's clothes, and Theon tells her to follow Holly closely, and not to run.

They manage to get out of the castle with no problems, but as they get to the gate they see some guards. Holly seduces one and then slits his throat while Frenya overpowers and kills the other — Jeyne screams in horror at the killings, revealing them. Frenya waits at the bottom and fights off the Bolton troops that come to investigate, while Holly and the others get to the top of the wall. Holly then realizes that Frenya has the rope they were going to use to climb down, just before being fatally shot In the Back with a crossbow bolt and falling off the battlements.

As arrows and crossbow bolts cut through the air around them, Theon realises that if they are caught now, they will be taken back to Ramsay. Knowing that's a Fate Worse than Death, he grabs Jeyne and leaps off the battlements.

Daenerys IX

Daenerys bathes in preparation for her visit with her husband to Meereen's fighting pits. Ser Barristan Selmy tells her that the sellsword woman Meris, whom they set free, requested a private audience with her. Barristan met with Meris instead, and informs Daenerys that according to Meris, the Windblown were willing to join her cause, if Daenerys gave the Tattered Prince Pentos. Daenerys refuses the offer because she will not repay the generosity of Illyrio Mopatis, her oldest and most generous benefactor, by handing control of his city over to a sellsword.

She then departs with her husband and their entourage. Hizdahr has prepared a private box and a sumptuous buffeft for them, which Strong Belwas promptly helps himself too, gorging on a bowl of fried locusts. Hizdahr tells his wife that they are tasty as well, but she declines, uninterested in the spicy food.

There are twenty thousand spectators in the pit. As Hizdahr announces the fights, they chant her name, though they use the Ghiscari word for Mother because they cannot pronounce her Westerosi name. Daenerys thinks to herself that it is not her they love, but the fighting and the bloodshed.

The first fight begins with a victory for the Spotted Cat, and there are many more after that. The youth of some of the combatants disturbs Daenerys, but Hizdahr insists all those fighting are doing so of their own free will. A number of animal fights follow, after which comes, the first folly of the day begins with two dwarfs jousting, one on a pig, the other on a dog. One dwarf has a shield painted in the colours of House Lannister, the other in the colours of House Baratheon, which amuses Daenerys.

As one dwarf falls off the pig and is chased by the other on the dog, Hizdahr tells Daenerys that they are about to loose the lions. Outraged by this, Daenerys snaps this was not in their agreement, that the dwarfs did not consent to fight lions with wooden weapons. Hizdahr is clearly displeased, but reluctantly accedes to his queen's command.

Up next is a bout between Barsena Blackhair and a boar, the boar looking so ferocious that Daenerys briefly feels sympathy for Robert Baratheon dying to such a creature. The fight goes well until the boar's tusk rips her open from the knee to the crotch. The boar then jumps on her, pulling out her entrails, all to the displeasure of the crowd. Daenerys insists on leaving, disgusted and no longer wanting any part in this. Strong Belwas becomes sick from his locusts, asking for a drink of milk.

It is then that a shadow falls over the arena and a blood curdling roar sounds as Drogon descends, drawn to the arena by the stench of blood and death; Daenerys is stunned to see how big the largest and most powerful of her dragons has grown in the wild. Drogon blasts the boar with his fiery breath, then descends to feast, not bothering to distinguish between the boar and Barsena's corpse.

One of the pit's animal handlers decides to try and be a dragonslayer, managing to wound Drogon in the neck with a spear before the dragon rips his arm off and then sets the man ablaze. As the crowd panics and pandemonium ensues, Hizdahr shouts at his guards to kill the dragon.

Drogon roasts two spearmen, breaks the pitmaster in two with a swipe of his tail, and tears out the innards of another spearman. As Strong Belwas is puking, Dany jumps into the fighting pit in a mad state, hearing footsteps behind hernote .

When she gets close, she fears the dragon does not recognize her and will kill her. As he roars and breathes fire at her, Daenerys rolls under the flames, grabs a whip from a dead pit handler and lashes Drogon into submission with it. As the dragon bends his neck, Daenerys climbs onto his back, pulls free the spear embedded in his neck and goads Drogon into the air. As the dragon spreads his wings and takes flight, Daenerys, overjoyed at her first flight on dragonback, tells him to go higher, watching as Meereen grows smaller below.

Jon XI

Jon treats with Tormund Giantsbane. Tormund's three thousand wildlings will be allowed past the Wall, including mammoths and giants. Among the terms of the peace include yielding their valuables to help pay for food to feed the wildlings and allowing one hundred boys to become hostages to prevent the wildings raping and raiding lands belonging to the other Westerosi. The mammoths are to go the long way around through Eastwatch, while the rest are allowed to go through the gates. Neither Tormund or Jon are happy about these terms, but they recognize it's the best deal they're likely to get to save all people.

The mood becomes lighter when Tormund and Jon share some friendly banter. He tells Jon that they'll share some meat and mead when everyone is safe south of the Wall. Tormund gives Jon his gold arm bands, but though Jon tries to refuse them, knowing how important they are to Tormund, Tormund is firm that these will be the first payment as he cannot ask his people to give up their treasures if he insists on keeping his own.

When Tormund jokes that he'll keep the ring he wears around his member and that it'd be a torque on Jon, Jon laughs and says Tormund never changes. This prompts Tormund to disagree, confiding in Jon over the losses of two of his sons, one of whom succumbed to fever and was risen as a wight. Tormund was forced to kill him. Jon is sympathetic and offers his apologies. Tormund brightens up when he tells Jon about his two surviving children.

As Jon prepares to return to Castle Black with Val, Val flirts with Jon, to Tormund's amusement. As Val and Jon pass by Tormund's band of wildlings, Jon is concerned by signs indicating lack of nutrition and sickness in the wildlings, and he also fears for the wildlings at Hardhome. He tells Val about the alliance and thanks her for bringing him to Tormund. Val wants to help more, so Jon allows her to accompany him to see Queen Selyse and inform her of the bargain.

The queen is excited and tells him that her husband will be proud. All the wildlings have to do is swear fealty to the king and convert to R'hllor. This is when Jon tells her that this was not part of the bargain, and Val adds that the free folk do not kneel. Selyse is quite upset about this and warns Jon that Stannis will not be pleased.

Val notices Shireen's facial disfigurements, noting that it is grey death. Jon tells her that greyscale is not always fatal, but she is adamant that it is deathnote . When Val says Shireen is dead and it would have been a mercy to kill the child, a horrified Jon protests and says Shireen is a sweet girl.

Val is not appeased, saying Shireen is dead and that the queen and Jon cannot see it. She demands that Gilly's son, whom Val has become fond of and has affectionately named "Monster" as his milk name, must be taken out of that tower for his protection at once and closer to her own person. Jon agrees to see to moving Gilly's child and the child's wet nurses close to Val, but resists Val's views on Shireen.

Jon ascends to the top of the Wall, wondering what has happened to Mance Rayder and if he has found his sister Arya. Up here he meets Torghen Flint of the first Flints and Brandon Norrey, the Norrey clan chief, along with Clydas, Bowen Marsh, Othell Yarwyck, Septon Cellador, and Leathers. Jon tells them that the wildlings are coming through, though they are not happy about it because of past conflicts.

Jon tells them that they must forgive crimes of the past if they are to live together. Flint and Norrey are worried about their lands, but Jon tells them the wildlings are to remain on the Wall in the abandoned castles, and both are mollified when Jon points out he insisted the wildlings provide hostages to ensure they keep their side of the bargain.

Unappeased, Bowen Marsh sees this agreement as a betrayal of Jon's vows to the Night's Watch. However, Jon says that he is sworn to defend the realms of men, and asks him whether the people beyond the Wall don't count as men.

Marsh flushed a deeper shade of red. “The lord commander must pardon my bluntness, but I have no softer way to say this. What you propose is nothing less than treason. For eight thousand years the men of the Night’s Watch have stood upon the Wall and fought these wildlings. Now you mean to let them pass, to shelter them in our castles, to feed them and clothe them and teach them how to fight. Lord Snow, must I remind you? You swore an oath.”

“I know what I swore.” Jon said the words. “I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the fire that burns against the cold, the light that brings the dawn, the horn that wakes the sleepers, the shield that guards the realms of men.' Were those the same words you said when you took your vows?”

“They were. As the lord commander knows.”

“Are you certain that I have not forgotten some? The ones about the king and his laws, and how we must defend every foot of his land and cling to each ruined castle? How does that part go?” Jon waited for an answer. None came. “I am the shield that guards the realms of men. Those are the words. So tell me, my lord — what are these wildlings, if not men?”

Bowen Marsh opened his mouth. No words came out. A flush crept up his neck.

Thus, it is Jon's intent to use all available resources to defend the realm of men against The Others. Jon then dispatches his fellow brothers after assigning them tasks to prepare for the arrival of Tormund and his people.

Cersei I

Cersei is still a prisoner of the Faith. She wonders when Jaime will be coming for her, in addition to wondering what has happened to Loras Tyrell; last she heard, he lay dying from his wounds on Dragonstone. She only ever sees three people: her gaolers Septa Unella, Septa Moelle, and Septa Scolera. Her last visitor was Qyburn and since he last went, no one has been to see her.

Cersei stews in her hate for the septas, as well as those she assumes have betrayed her, blaming Osney Kettleblack for cracking under torture and exposing her Evil Plan, Orton Merryweather and Aurane Waters for getting out of dodge (though she's relieved Orton's wife Taena and all the incriminating evidence she was privy to are out of the High Septon's grasp), and Harys Swyft, Grand Maester Pycelle, and her uncle Kevan Lannister for effectively overthrowing her and leaving her to rot in prison. She questions whether she should include Jaime in that group, but will not believe it. He would not abandon her, she assumes.

She feels helpless and hates that emotion, and she prays endlessly to the Seven Gods, since that is what they want, but it helps not. At first, she fights with her guards, but they are much stronger than she thought, and they keep her up endlessly, never letting her sleep.

Exhausted, she comes to know that she must confess. She asks to be taken to the High Septon to confess, where she admits to extra-marital affairs. She says she has slept with Lancel and the Kettleblack brothers. She insists she did these things because she was afraid for her children and these were her only means to secure the trust of these men.

The High Sparrow still means to accuse her of high treason, incest, regicide, and deicide, all crimes that Osney Kettleblack admitted Cersei had a part in under torture. She manages to talk her way out of the charges of murdering the previous High Septon and Robert and bearing false witness against the Tyrell girls, and avoids the charges of incest by saying that these are lies that Stannis has made up in order to gain the Iron Throne, which satisfies the High Septon, since the Faith is eager to condemn Stannis' "worship of a red demon".

To get the real truth, though, the High Septon means to have her tried by the Faith or trial by combat, where Cersei would be represented by a knight of the Kingsguard. He is unsure of all the crimes she has committed, so the only way to pick the truth from the false is to let the gods decide.

She is allowed a visit by her uncle Kevan, who, though angry with her for corrupting Lancel, answers her questions. He tells her that Jaime has gone missing after his stop at Raventree Hall, having disappeared with an unknown woman, though they assume it is Brienne.

There is word of sellswords appearing all over the south. They do not have the strength to deal with them, though Mace Tyrell does. However, he is unwilling to do so until the matter with his daughter Margaery Tyrell is settled. Mace Tyrell is now the Hand, Paxter Redwyne is the king's admiral, and Randyll Tarly is the justiciar. The Tyrells brought up an army when their daughters were seized, and the High Septon, who has admitted the case against them is weak, released them into Tarly's custody on the proviso Tarly return them for trial when the time comes.

Kevan brings worse news for Cersei, relaying Balon Swann's news of Myrcella's loss of an ear, and Arys Oakheart's death at the hands of Gerold Dayne. Though Cersei is insistent that Myrcella's mutilation is Tyrion's doing, she sees a chance in the open position in the Kingsguard, and asks Kevan to approach Qyburn for a replacement.

The Queensguard

After the incident at Daznak's Pit, Daenerys has not returned and many fear her dead. The Dothraki are searching for her across the Worm River. Strong Belwas is still in mortal danger from the poisoned locusts that he ate during the reopening of the fighting pits, and Ser Barristan Selmy does not trust the Blue Graces that are taking care of him now, fearing they may be trying to finish the job. Jhogo, Daario Naharis, Admiral Groleo, and Hero of the Unsullied all remain prisoners of the Yunkai'i.

Ser Barristan is told by Hizdahr zo Loraq's seneschal Reznak mo Reznak that Hizdahr wishes to receive his Yunkish guests without Barristan there, essentially removing the duties of the head of the Queensguard. Of all of Dany's servants, only Missandei remains within the royal apartments, although she too has been replaced.

The Unsullied have been slighted by Hizdahr (Hizdahr tried to put them under the command of one of his family, only for Grey Worm to tell him they only take commands from Daenerys), and the Shavepates and Brazen Beasts might well be more loyal to Skahaz mo Kandaq than to Hizdahr (despite Skahaz having been removed from command of the Brazen Beasts and choosing to retire rather than be promoted sideways), so the king lets himself be defended by pit fighters while he prepares for the peace discussions with the Yunkish delegation.

Meanwhile, disease has spread throughout Meereen, both in the city itself and among the Yunkishmen camped outside it, despite the best of Dany's earlier efforts. Due to this, the streets are extremely quiet. Barristan is in a depressed and reflective state, wondering how he got here, how he lost Dany like he lost her father and brother, as well as King Robert.

He remembers how he ran too slowly after Dany at the pit, pondering if Daario would have run faster. He also reflects on what happened afterwards; hundreds were either killed by the rampaging dragon or trampled in the stampede to escape the pit, and when Drogon flew over the Yunkish camp and they tried to shoot him down, the dragon killed at least two hundred in retaliation. Rumor has it that the Yunkai'i sieging Meereen have mounted scorpions around the city in an attempt at slaying Drogon, should he return.

As he thinks that she may be flying home, Missandei appears behind him, who insists Dany would not leave without them. She also says that Skahaz mo Kandaq wishes to meet with him, secretly. Barristan agrees to a meeting at the stables at sunset.

There, the Shavepate says that the Sons of the Harpy blackmailed the man in charge of providing refreshments and forced him to poison the locusts that Belwas ate, intending to kill Daenerys. He also says that Volantis has dispatched its fleet to reinforce the siege, and that Hizdahr, who according to Skahaz, was either in on the plot or let it happen because it suited his purpose, means to open Meereen's gates for them.

When Barristan asks what can be done, Skahaz states that the companies of freedmen loyal to Daenerys are ready and eager to fight, and thanks to disease and their confidence of an easy victory, the Yunkish slavers are complacent and undisciplined, completely unprepared for a surprise attack. However, if such a plan is to work, then they need the Unsullied on their side; Skahaz urges Barristan to speak to Grey Worm and convince him to join them.

Barristan, convinced by Skahaz's argument that Daenerys would not want the former slaves she considers her children re-enslaved, agrees on the proviso that Hizdahr is not to be harmed until they have conclusive proof he is guilty of trying to kill Daenerys.

The Iron Suitor

Victarion Greyjoy's flagship, the Iron Victory, and what is left of the Iron Fleet is anchored near the Isle of Cedars, a small island at the mouth of Slaver's Bay. Victarion's plan is to take Daenerys Targaryen as his bride to spite his brother Euron, who wants Daenerys for his queen, but Victarion's situation is far from ideal.

The wound he took to the hand fighting Talbert Serry in the Battle of the Shield Islands has festered; Maester Kerwin, assigned to the fleet by Euron from one of the castles on the Shields, has had little success treating the wound, while Victarion is convinced the maester is trying to kill him on Euron's orders. More than half the fleet has been destroyed or scattered by horrendous storms en route, and Victarion knows he is in a race against time to get to Meereen before the fleet he saw being fitted out for war in Volantis when the Iron Fleet docked there to gain supplies.

Over the course of days, more and more ships that were scattered by the storms link up with the fleet; the 54th ship to arrive, the Grief, has happened upon the red priest Moqorro, who was floating adrift in the sea after being swept overboard during a storm. The Ironborn fear the guy for his Scary Black Man look, but Victarion insists they spare him after Moqorro claims to have seen in the flames that Victarion would die unless the priest helped him.

When a spasm of pain from his injured hand overcomes him, Victarion takes Moqorro to his cabin. His dusky skinned concubine reacts viciously to the red priest, but Victarion silences her and shows the priest his wounded hand. Moqorro requests fire and a blade, swearing that Victarion will feel incredible pain, but when he is done, Victarion's hand will be restored to him. The captain agrees, on the understanding he'll personally kill Moqorro if he fails in healing him.

No one emerges from Victarion's cabin for the entire day, though the crew hear chanting in High Valyrian and deranged laughter coming from the cabin. At sunset, Victarion emerges, his maimed hand charred and blackened like burnt meat and at Moqorro's advice, orders his men to slit the maester's throat and dump his corpse in the sea, claiming the Human Sacrifice will ensure the winds favour them all the way to Meereen. Victarion is also unconcerned that Daenerys has already wed; she won't be the first woman he's made a widow.

Tyrion XI

Yezzan zo Qaggaz is dying of the pale mare. Nurse has already succumbed to the disease (helped along by a few of the poisonous mushrooms Tyrion slipped into his meal). Aware that it's only a matter of time until Yezzan dies and not exactly confident about the options he'll face when it does (either being parceled off to Yezzan's relatives, returned to the auction block or sale, or "set free from the burdens of the world" to serve Yezzan in the next life), Tyrion decides it's time to get out of dodge.

Concocting an excuse of going to get fresh water for Yezzan, Tyrion ropes Penny and Jorah into helping him collect water from the nearest well. Along the way, his thoughts turn to incredulity that Daenerys hasn't poisoned every well within a league of Meereen to deny the attackers fresh water, as well as amusement over seeing every ballista, scorpion, and crossbow in the camp turned skyward in the hopes of shooting Drogon down should he return (Tyrion's amusement derives from the fact he knows such efforts are more likely to piss the dragon off than bring him down).

While waiting at the well, they hear the latest news and rumors from other slaves, who are discussing the event at Daznak's Pit. It is argued whether Daenerys Targaryen flew off on the dragon or died trying. Tyrion states she did not die because her body was not found. He briefly thinks on the moment when he almost revealed his identity to her, only to stop out of fear Barristan Selmy would prejudice Daenerys against him out of contempt for House Lannisternote .

After getting the water, they are supposed to return to their camp, but Tyrion leads them to the tents of the Second Sons instead. When they get there, Tyrion is recognized as the dwarf that Brown Ben Plumm wished to buy so they are brought to the captain.

There he reveals that he knows that Ben Plumm knows who Tyrion really is, and that Tyrion knows that Plumm is a westerman and of House Plumm and that the dragons were fond of him. He implies that he knows more about Plumm's lineage than even Plumm himself, and that Plumm may have more Targaryen blood than he thinks.

Ben Plumm then recognizes Jorah Mormont, and Tyrion convinces Ben Plumm to let him and Mormont join the Second Sons instead of killing him in order to win a lordship from Cersei Lannister. Tyrion suggests they play a game of cyvasse as they continue talking.

Jon XII

Per the terms of Jon's peace treaty with Tormund, Tormund Giantsbane, and his three thousand wildling followers pass through the Wall at Castle Black. Jon spots two girls who have been included in the one hundred hostages. To save them from succumbing the same terrible fate as Danny Flint — a girl who was raped and killed when she took the Black — Jon has them replaced with two boys. Tormund voluntarily includes his own son as a hostage as a sign of good faith. Jon decides to take him on as his own squire.

While watching the Wildlings pass through the wall, Jon and Tormund speak of many things. Jon mentions that Melisandre burned the horn of Joramun that Mance and the wildlings were supposedly going to use to break down the Wall. Tormund tells Jon that although they did find that huge horn in the Skirling Pass, it is not actually the true Horn of Joramun, or they would have used it when they assaulted the Wall. Jon, confused, tries to decide whether it was Mance that lied to him or Tormund lying to him now about the authenticity of the horn.

Tormund also discusses the Others, since Jon wants as much information as he can on their mutual enemy; according to Tormund, the creatures never attacked in daylight, but contented themselves with picking off stragglers or those who fell behind. More dangerous were the wights, particularly those who died during the night and then arose the next morning.

The rear guard of the Wildings with Tormund includes a warg who is accompanied by his boar. Ghost and this boar seem to be on edge around each other, and it is mentioned that they should be restrained while the wildings are staying at Castle Black. Most of the wildlings will be relocated in the coming weeks.

Later, Jon receives a letter from Cotter Pyke, saying that he is stranded at Hardhome, and calls for help. He also reveals that the Braavosi captains on loan from Tychos would only allow wildling women and children aboard their ships, and that the Woods Witch has taken to calling them slaversnote . He also says there are dead things both in the woods and the water, lending a great deal of urgency to his message.

The Discarded Knight

Barristan attends Hizdahr zo Loraq's court under the unease that Daenerys Targaryen's absence brings. The Brazen Beasts now have a new commander — the king's cousin, Marghaz zo Loraq, though Barristan suspects most of them are still loyal to Skahaz. They haven't spoken since their meeting in the stables, and Barristan wonders if Skahaz is present, Hidden in Plain Sight behind the mask of a Brazen Beast. Reznak mo Reznak keeps a strong voice in court, counseling the new King.

Ser Barristan notices the presence of Quentyn Martell and his two Dornish companions at court, remembering his former companionship to Prince Lewyn Martell, his Kingsguard colleague and also Quentyn's great-uncle. He considers the possibility that the poisoned locusts that Strong Belwas ate might have been meant for Hizdhar, as part of a plot to direct Daenerys into marrying Quentyn, given that another of the prince's uncles, Oberyn the Red Viper, was notorious for poisoning those who got in his way.

Before he makes up his mind on the matter, three Wise Masters, envoys from Yunkai arrive, along with their sellsword Bloodbeard, to talk with Hizdahr. They show Admiral Groleo's severed head as a gesture of intimidation, claiming his death as payback for the death of Yurkhaz zo Yunzak, who was trampled to death during the panic when Drogon attacked the Fighting pit.

Ser Barristan reminds King Hizdahr that Yurkhaz's death was accidental, while the Yunkai representatives free three of the six remaining hostages. They demand that the dragons be destroyed as a condition for the release of the last three hostages.

Barristan is also suspicious of Hizdahr's lack of reaction, given that all three of the Westerosi kings he served under, despite being very different men — Aerys, Robert and even the supposedly weak Jaehaerys — would have responded to such an insult by ordering every member of the Yunkish delegation killed; he also believes Bloodbeard is trying to start violence in order to get the plunder the peace has denied him.

As the court is ended for further deliberation of the King's council, Ser Barristan decides to counsel the Dornishmen. Despite appearing weak, the King has taken notice of Quentyn, and Ser Barristan considers it dangerous for them to remain in Meereen. He advises them to return immediately to Dorne, going so far as offering the coin for the trip, and reveals that there was an attempt at poisoning either Daenerys or her consort during the fighting pits reopening.

Quentyn's shocked reaction reassures Ser Barristan that the Dornishmen had no part in the poisoning, but he still counsels Quentyn and his companions to leave Meereen and return to Dorne, since Quentyn will likely get Promoted to Scapegoat if Hizdahr decides to pin the poisoning on one of his rivals.

The Spurned Suitor

Gerris Drinkwater reports back to Quentyn, having spoken to Beans, Books, and Old Bone Bill in a drinking den in the city. In exchange for some gold, the three members of the Windblown agreed to tell the Tattered Prince that the three Dornishmen would like to meet. Despite successfully delivering the message, Drinkwater insists the group should heed Barristan Selmy’s warning and leave Meereen for Volantis, and ultimately return to Dorne, since the Tattered Prince is unlikely to forgive them for deserting and getting some of his best men flung in the dungeons.

Quentyn wants to leave for Westeros as well, but fears arriving empty-handed, as he worries he will disappoint his father and Lord Yronwood, and face mockery by the Sand Snakes and his sister should he do so; worse than that, going home empty-handed will mean the companions who died on the journey to get him to Meereen will have died for nothing. Quentyn tells Gerris and Archibakd they can leave without him, but they choose to stay.

Denzo D'han, one of the Tattered Prince's lieutenants, finds Quentyn to discuss terms for the meeting. Denzo tells the Dornish prince to find a door marked with a purple lotus near the spice market at sunset the next day. Quentyn agrees, and tells Denzo that the Tattered Prince can bring two men, as he will be accompanied by Drinkwater and Archibald.

The three Dornishmen leave to meet the Tattered Prince an hour before sunset, bearing weapons. On their way, Archibald and Gerris point out that they might face violence or other retribution from the Tattered Prince for their betrayal. Quentyn agrees it is possible, but they continue walking. The three then discuss waiting for Daenerys’ return, and the possibility of killing Hizdahr zo Loraq to allow Quentyn to marry her.

Quentyn fears that his friends have lost sight of why they are in Meereen — for Daenerys’ dragons — and points out that he has Targaryen blood and can, therefore, tame at least one of the remaining two. Gerris balks at his plan, and points out that the dragons will not care about his lineage. Quentyn argues the plan is necessary to grant meaning to the deaths of Cletus and Willam Wells and to please his father.

The three eventually find a door marked with a purple lotus and enter a large but dilapidated building. They are greeted by the proprietor, an old woman, who takes them to a dim cellar, where Pretty Meris, Danzo D’han, Caggo Corpsekiller, and the Tattered Prince await them.

Quentyn is wary as the Prince is wearing mail and has brought one man more than they had agreed upon. He expresses his displeasure at the extra bodyguard, but the Prince points out that Meris is not a man. The Prince remains resentful of the Dornishmen’s betrayal, as it resulted in the imprisonment of several of his best men.

To persuade the Prince to join their side, Quentyn promises to double the amount being paid to the Windblown by the Yunkai once they arrive in Dorne, but the Tattered Prince is unmoved. Quentyn then reveals that he plans to steal one of the two remaining dragons in Meereen, and the Prince names Pentos the price of his assistance.

The Griffin Reborn

Jon Connington and the Golden Company have landed at Cape Wrath in Westeros, and manage to seize Griffin's Roost and other small castles by taking them unawaresnote . The taking of Griffin's Roost was quite easy; the Golden Company only lost four men in the attack. Any raven trying to leave the castle was shot down, followed shortly by the castle's maester being thrown from his tower. After that, what was left of the garrison surrendered.

Taking his leave of the Golden Company officers by claiming to be going to pray at his father's tomb in the castle sept, Jon instead goes to the battlements and reminisces over the time Rhaegar visited his home and seemed impressed with Connington's lands. Jon then reflects on what happened next to his House; after Aerys exiled Jon, furious at his failure to stop Robert, the lands and title went to his cousin Ronald Connington (who had been Jon's castellan while he was in King's Landing) but after the end of Robert's Rebellion, King Robert stripped Ronald of his lordship and gave most of House Connington's lands to houses that had fought for him.

Jon, however, is glad that he will not have to fight his deceased cousin or Ronald's son Ronnet, who is away fighting in the Riverlands, to reclaim Griffin's Roost, not wanting to celebrate his return by killing one of his own kin. Nor does he blame his cousin any longer for taking advantage of his downfall, since as far as Jon is concerned, the one responsible for House Connington's downfall is himself.

Jon's musings then turn to where he lost everything: Stoney Sept. Taking over pursuit of Robert from the Tyrells after the Battle of Ashfordnote , Jon began a house to house search of the town after Robert went to ground there.

The search yielded nothing, as the townsfolk were protecting Robert, hiding him and constantly moving him. All of Connington's efforts to find Robert — offering bribes for information, taking hostages, threats and pardons — got him nowhere, and the delays bought time for Eddard Stark, Jon Arryn, and Hoster Tully to bring a rebel army to Robert's rescue. The rebels attacked Connington's men at the same time Robert and his followers emerged to join them, and the ensuing battle ended in a rebel victory.

For years, Jon reflects that he insisted he did all he could, until Myles Toyne disabused him of that notion by pointing out that Tywin Lannister would have burned Stoney Sept to the ground to kill Robert, then offered pardons to the other rebel leaders to convince them to stand down. Connington, however, knew this would mean killing everyone in the town, and he both didn't want to be branded a murderer and wanted the glory of slaying Robert for himself. Jon reflects that his failure at Stoney Sept led to Rhaegar's death at the Trident and vows not to fail Prince Aegon as he failed his father.

Rejoining his fellows, Jon takes note of the captives, including Ronnet's brother, sister, and bastard son. Most of the castle staff swear loyalty to him. Connington pays a visit to Haldon, who is trying to interpret where most of the Golden Company, scattered along the coast, are to send a message to Doran Martell to inform him that his nephew Aegon is alive, in order to gain the Dornish alliance. Jon reflects that he could not have expected loyalty from these men if he had reclaimed his home while Robert and Renly still held the Stormlands.

Haldon also argues that they need to offer incentives to convince recalcitrant lords to join them-as most of the gold and land will go to the Golden Company officers that was taken from their ancestors, Haldon suggests offering the hands of Prince Aegon and Jon himself for marriage alliances. Jon, however, refuses, in the face of his illness and his insistence that Aegon must be free to wed Daenerys Targaryen if she ever returns home. In his chambers, Jon privately treats his greyscale with wine, aware that any lords still loyal to House Connington would abandon him if they find out.

Four days later, Prince Aegon arrives along with Duck, the first member of his Kingsguard. Jon recalls his disapproval of that choice and how he argued with Aegon that they should leave places in his Kingsguard open to both warriors of great renown or the younger sons of important lords to add lustre to their cause, but Aegon refused, saying all he wanted from his Kingsguard was their willingness to die defending him, pointing out that Jon's criteria for the Kingsguard perfectly fits the Kingslayer.

Jon informs him that his men plan to take Storm's End in ten days (he had refused the suggestions of the Golden Company officers to make an alliance with Stannis Baratheon, who holds it, arguing that Stannis is Robert's brother, a rival claimant to the throne and leagues away from them with nothing to offer). Aegon agrees to this plan, and tells him that he intends for the siege to go forward with one change: Aegon will lead the attack himself.

The Sacrifice

Asha Greyjoy is still a prisoner of Stannis Baratheon at the crofters' village between the lakes, being guarded by Alysane Mormont. While they thought they would be only three days from Winterfell, the snows have kept them stranded for nineteen days. Food has become a major concern. The supply of fish from the lake has been diminishing, they have already been relying on their dying horses as a source of food for a while now, and foraging has brought little result.

Some men have even begun to resort to cannibalism: four men from House Peasebury were caught eating parts of a dead man from House Fellnote . There are growing tensions between the queen's men that Stannis brought with him from Dragonstone and the other people present, both local northerners and the king's men that Stannis brought from Dragonstone and the Stormlands with him.

Fueling those tensions, Ser Godry Farring the Giantslayer, Ser Corliss Penny, and Ser Clayton Suggs are about to burn the four cannibals in sacrifice for R'hllor, hoping to stope the snowfall. Northerners Artos Flint and Big Bucket Wull express dislike of the sacrifice, fearing it will enrage the old gods, while others feel R'hllor will be insulted by the meager offering. Asha has noticed that Clayton Suggs is a cruel man and fears that he may eventually turn against her.

Stannis himself has been retreating to a tower roof with a perennial flame for four days, since his squire Bryen Farring was given a funeral burning after dying from the cold. He returns now, along with Queen's Man Ser Richard Horpe and Karhold's castellan Arnolf Karstark, whose men joined theirs eight days past. There are rumors that Arnolf may hold Winterfell in Stannis' behest if they are successful at retaking the castle. Stannis authorizes the sacrifice and watches it until its end.

Ser Justin Massey remains close to Asha and protects her from the worst of Clayton Suggs' threats. He also reveals that he is no longer a true believer in R'hllor and hints that he knows more than he is telling.

Justin offers to guard Asha for a while, relieving Aly Mormont from that duty. The two of them eat some roasted horse in the hall. Stannis' knights are lost by a lack of options, knowing that they are likely to die soon no matter what they do, since they have no food nor are they in any condition to fight Roose Bolton's forces at Winterfell. Talk is tense and frustrated, and eventually, Justin leaves the Hall. Attempting to follow him, Asha finds Clayton Suggs instead. He threatens her, but the two of them are surprised to find that riders are coming to Stannis' encampment.

Assuming that this is an attack from the Boltons and Freys, Clayton commands Asha to warn the others while he alone attempts to delay the riders. But there is no immediate danger, for the riders are not hostile. It is instead the group of Tycho Nestoris, representative of the Iron Bank of Braavos, with two men of the Night's Watch and the seven ironmen that he ransomed from Sybelle Locke. Asha recognizes Tristifer Botley and Qarl the Maid among them.

The group has come by way of Winterfell, where they found Mors "Crowfood" Umber beating drums and blowing horns, and have brought Theon and Jeyne from Winterfell. Jeyne's nose is black from frostbite, and no one has referred to her by name yet, so it is not clear whether Tycho's group knows that she is not Arya Stark. Asha fails to recognize Theon, who looks decades older than she knows him to be. Theon, however, reveals his identity to Asha, much to her shock and horror.

Victarion I

En route to Meereen, the Iron Fleet has been capturing ships heading to and from Meereen: the captain of their latest capture, a trading galley called Ghiscari Dawn, informs them that Daenerys is dead, so Victarion has the man's tongue torn out and then throws him overboard. Despite the crew's unease of Moqorro, the red priest's visions have been instrumental to helping them catch their prey in these unfamiliar waters, and Victarion trusts his assertions Daenerys is still alive.

Their journey has them falling upon ships from the other cities of Slaver's Bay that were resupplying the blockade and siege of Meereen; Victarion wastes no time in putting the slavers to the sword and freeing the slaves on board, reasoning that becoming thralls of the Iron Islands will be a Rank Up for them.

Despite Moqorro's insistence that the Drowned God is merely another facet of his religion's Satanic Archetype, Victarion continues to make offerings to the Drowned God, but he also begins to court Rh'llor's influence as well. After the Iron Fleet captures a ship bound for Lys filled to the brim with boys and girls destined to be sex slaves, Victarion has the boys thrown overboard to the Drowned God, then has seven of the most beautiful girls put on a scuttled ship and set ablaze as an offering to the Lord of Light.

As the fleet's ships prepare to enter the final stage of the journey (Victarion briefs his captains that their plan is to reach Meereen, annihilate the Yunkish forces besieging the city, grab Danaerys and then escape before the Volantene fleet cuts off their escape), Victarion shows Moqorro the dragonhorn Euron gave him. Moqorro translates the Valyrian glyphs on the horn, revealing that no man can blow it and survive.

Victarion rages at Euron's seeming treachery, but Moqorro assures him of a way around that problem: claim the horn by blood, make himself its master, and someone else can blow the horn in Victarion's stead.

The Ugly Little Girl

After a gathering of eleven Faceless Men, Arya is interrogated by one who has the face of a plague victim and deemed ready for her first assassination. The kindly man informs Arya that she will need a new face for this job, since Cat of the Canals would be easily recognized.

He and the waif lead her down into a hidden chamber deep under the House of Black and White. The walls are covered with mask-like faces, which Arya realizes are the faces of people who die at the House of Black and White. The face chosen for Arya is that of a young girl who was abused to the point of permanent disfigurement, and came to the House seeking death.

Arya's blood is used to soften the leathery mask into living skin, which then bonds to her head and becomes her new face. The kindly man warns Arya that she will suffer the nightmares of the girl whose face she has taken, but only for a time. His promise proves to be true, and that night Arya dreams of the abuse that was suffered by the girl at the hands of her father. The next day, Arya is given her first target. He is an elderly man running an insurance scam at a shipyard.

The target is always accompanied by two guards, and the kindly man has forbidden her to kill anyone other than her target, so Arya must stalk the man for several days to find an opportunity. She eventually dispatches him by slipping a poisoned coin into the purse of his client, knowing the man selling insurance will bite into the coin to test its legitimacy.

The Kindly Man is pleased by her success, and raises her to the status of an acolyte. He gives her a black and white robe to wear while at the House and restores her face. However, the next day she is to take a new face and leave for her first apprenticeship with someone named Izembaro.

Cersei II

Cersei is forced to walk from the Great Sept of Baelor to the Red Keep, as atonement for her confessed sins; it is the only way to escape the Sept, as her uncle Kevan will not oppose the Faith and Cersei does not have enough friends in the Sept to risk a trial like Margaery Tyrell — her only hope is a trial by battle. Cersei feels fear at the thought of being paraded through the streets naked, remembering the violence the smallfolk caused during the riot, but reassures herself that no harm will come to her.

When morning arrives, her goalers arrive with a group of Silent Sisters, who strip Cersei naked and shave her of every hair on her body, though Cersei refuses to let the Humiliation Conga break her. Cersei is then led by an escort of Warrior's Sons (among them, her cousin Lancel, much to Cersei's disgust) to the courtyard, where Cersei finds herself standing close to the spot where Eddard Stark was executed.

As the Septas accompanying her announce her sins to the watching crowd, Cersei muses first on how Joffrey undid all her plans and the work of Varys and Littlefinger; had he done as he was told and sent Stark to the Wall, Ned and his knowledge of Cersei's incest would have been removed and the Lannisters would have had peace with Robb Stark, a hostage in the form of Sansa and the freedom to deal with Stannis and Renly Baratheon, but instead Joffrey demanded Stark's head, and after that everything fell apart.

Cersei's thoughts then turn to memories of how her father did away with her grandfather's mistress after his death, having her stripped naked and marched through the streets of Lannisportnote , but Cersei insists to herself she will not be broken and humiliated so easily.

Cersei is then forced to strip before the crowd and walk to the Red Keep. At first, Cersei walks with dignity, ignoring the insults and worse (such as rotten vegetables and a cat carcass) the crowd throw at her, but as the walk continues and the insults grow worse, mocking her faded beauty and the signs of age on her body, Cersei struggles to maintain her composure.

As she walks, Cersei begins to hallucinate, seeing faces of others in the crowd; her father frowning, Ned and Sansa Stark along with Sansa's wolf staring accusingly at her, Tyrion laughing at her and finally, the face of Maggy the Frog intoning her prophecy: "Queen you shall be, until there comes another, younger and more beautiful, to cast you down and take all you hold most dear."

At this, Cersei breaks down in tears and runs for the Red Keep, collapsing as soon as she staggers into the courtyard. Kevan Lannister orders her covered up and removed so Tommen doesn't have to see his mother's shame, at which point Cersei is picked up by an eight-foot-tall giant of a man, clad in the armour and white cloak of a Kingsguard knight, face hidden behind a full helm. Qyburn appears and introduces Cersei to his champion, Ser Robert Strong, and she is most pleased.note .

Tyrion XII

Tyrion has made an agreement with Ben Plumm to join the Second Sons. He signs a number of agreements that he will pay about 50 higher ranking members of the company 100 gold dragons. This amount increases for the higher ranking officers, and for Plumm himself, he must sign a contract for 100,000 dragons along with land and a lordship. After this, he signs the register of the Second Sons using his own blood as ink.

After this, he is told to go and find armor for himself and Penny. He returns to where she is sleeping, and there he notices signs that she may have the bloody flux. Regardless, she is distraught over the abandonment of the hog and the dog that were part of her show. Tyrion is hiding from her that the two animals have almost definitely been slaughtered by Yezzan zo Qaggaz's men.

While they are looking for armor, they find Jorah Mormont outfitted in a random assortment of armor, which he claims is of decent quality. When Penny tells Tyrion that she dreamt that she was jousting with her brother again, Tyrion slaps her, trying to force her to quit her mooning and to realize that they must wear armor or likely die. Finally, Tyrion says that he will take care of making sure that the Second Sons turn sides again, since Tyrion and Jorah both agree that they are on the losing side of the coming battle.

The Kingbreaker

Ser Barristan meets with Skahaz mo Kandaq again, and they go through with their plan to seize Hizdahr and the city, and have it ruled by a council until Daenerys's return. They decide that their word for going ahead with the plan will be "Groleo," in reference to the hostage that was slain by the Yunkai'i.

Skahaz reveals that he was Hiding in Plain Sight in the throne room when Bloodbeard and the slaver lords made their insulting Decapitation Presentation, and that he and every one of the Brazen Beasts present would have killed the Yunkish delegation in an instant had Hizdahr given the command, raging that the Yunkish would never have dared do such a thing to Daenerys.

The Shavepate goes on to explain to Ser Barristan that Hizdahr's horrified reaction to Groleo's severed head was a sham and the slavers couldn't care less about Yurkhaz zo Yunzak's death in the pit; the whole thing was arranged so as to give Hizdahr a pretext to kill the queen's dragons before Volantis's fleet arrives. Despite Skahaz's objections, Barristan insists that after Hizdahr is deposed, they will order the Yunkai'i return their remaining hostage and withdraw their armies from Meereen, only going forth to do battle if they refuse.

Selmy is also confident he can overcome Hizdahr's guards, as they are only pit fighters and Barristan believes men like that, who fight for the adulation of the crowd and only when they are called to, are no match for a knight of the Kingsguard, who must always be alert and ready to fight and die at a moment's notice to defend their monarch.

Barristan and Skahaz also dispute over trying to rescue the remaining hostages — Jhogo, Hero, and Daario — as the Shavepate believes it is too dangerous to try. He is particularly scathing about Daario, believing it would be better in the long run for Daenerys if the Stormcrows's captain were to die. Though he is aware Daenerys is in love with Daario, Barristan privately agrees, as he is well aware from history that the Targaryens have a propensity for choosing poorly in matters of the heart, choices that almost always lead to disaster.note .

Skahaz also mentions that they have hostages of their own and that they can easily retaliate in kind if the Yunkai'i harm any more of their hostages, but like his queen, Barristan refuses to harm the cupbearers due to his own aversion to killing children. Though disappointed, the Shavepate agrees and promises that everything will be ready for the plan by nightfall.

For the rest of the day, Barristan makes his rounds about the pyramid and trains with his boys. He thinks to himself that some of them might be ready for knighthood soon. However, as he wrestles with what he is planning to do that night, he decides it would be worse for the boys if they were knighted by a knight without honor just before his death. He lectures the boys about honor and thinks that someday maybe they will understand. He also warns Missandei not to leave the queen's chambers, but refuses to answer her questions about his intentions.

Barristan reflects on his own failures, one in particular: that he didn't defeat Rhaegar at the tourney at Harrenhal. Had he won, he would have crowned Ashara Dayne — who he was enamored with — as queen of love and beauty, and wonders if Ashara would not have killed herself from grief over a child supposedly fathered on her by a Stark had Barristan crowned her. Barristan considers this his greatest failure.

During the night, after bathing and donning his armor, Ser Barristan goes to confront Hizdahr in his chambers; the Brazen Beasts (who are all wearing locust masks to confirm they're in on the plan) let him past without incident. Barristan, using the pretext of delivering a message to gain entrance, tries to question Hizdahr, demanding to know if he is in league with the Sons of the Harpy and if he had anything to do with the assassination attempt on Daenerys.

Hizdahr's denials of the accusations do not convince Selmy, and when the old knight draws his sword, Hizdahr calls for the pit fighter Khrazz, one of his guards, to defend him. Despite Barristan's efforts to convince Khrazz to surrender, the gladiator attacks him; however, Khrazz's inexperience of fighting opponents wearing armour is his downfall, and Selmy kills him quickly.

Barristan tells Hizdahr, who desperately begs for his life, that he means to take Hizdahr to a cell, where he will be imprisoned until Daenerys returns. Suddenly, a cup bearer informs them that Reznak wishes to see the king. Barristan, surprised as he and Skahaz had planned to imprison Reznak as well, asks why and is told the dragons (Viserion and Rhaegal) have been loosed upon the city.

The Dragontamer

Quentyn goes ahead with his plan to steal the dragons; the plan is to let the dragons gorge themselves on fresh meat, then chain them up while they're drowsy and lethargic from eating and drag them to a waiting ship. Along with a number of the Windblown, Quentyn, Gerris and Archibald don uniforms stolen from the Brazen Beasts to get into the Great Pyramid unseen, with the Tattered Prince having given them a password, "dog" to get through the guards.

They manage to get into the pyramid without any problems, but when they reach the pit where Rhaegal and Viserion are kept, the password "dog" doesn't work on the guardsnote . A fight ensues, and the four guards are slain, although Quentyn is almost killed by a spear.

Now in a race against time before the alarm is raised, the group enter the pit, where they find Rhaegal has also broken his chains since he was last in the pit, and that Viserion has created a cave for himself in the ceiling of the pit. Viserion is first attracted to Pretty Meris, as he is looking for Daenerys, but then, noting that the door is open, decides he wants out.

That's when all hell breaks loose.

One of the Windblown shoots a crossbow bolt at Viserion, who promptly seizes the mercenary in his jaws. Meris, Caggo and the rest of the Windblown, realizing being in a confined space with a pissed-off dragon is not a good place to be, promptly scarper while the white dragon tries to exit the pit. Quentyn grabs a whip and tries to subdue Viserion like he saw Daenerys do with Drogon, but before he can bring the dragon to heel, Gerris shouts a warning and Quentyn realises too late Rhaegal is stalking up behind him.

When Quentyn turns to face the new threat, Rhaegal opens his mouth; Quentyn raises his arm and then has a Delayed Reaction to the fact the dragon has set him on fire.

Jon XIII

Jon means to lead men to Hardhome to rescue the wildlings and men of the Night's Watch trapped there by the encroaching wights in the surrounding area. Queen Selyse and Melisandre discourage him, and want him to leave them to their fate. However, Jon is determined to lead a rescue mission.

Jon takes his leave after becoming infuriated at learning Selyse plans an Arranged Marriage between Val and her favourite, Ser Patrek of King's Mountain, despite Jon's repeated insistence the wildlings do not consider Val to be royalty. His fellow brothers in the Watch are also less than concerned at the prospect of more dead wildlings.

While planning the mission with Tormund Giantsbane, Clydas enters in a distressed state with a letter marked with the flayed man of House Bolton. The letter is purportedly from Ramsay Bolton, and he does not mince words:

Your false king is dead, bastard. He and all his host were smashed in seven days of battle. I have his magic sword. Tell his red whore.

Your false king's friends are dead. Their heads are upon the walls of Winterfell. Come see them, bastard. Your false king lied, and so did you. You told the world you burned the King-Beyond-the-Wall. Instead you sent him to Winterfell to steal my bride from me.

I will have my bride back. If you want Mance Rayder back, come and get him. I have him in a cage for all the north to see, proof of your lies. The cage is cold, but I have made him a warm cloak from the skins of the six whores who came with him to Winterfell.

I want my bride back. I want the false king's queen. I want his daughter and his red witch. I want this wildling princess. I want his little prince, the wildling babe. And I want my Reek. Send them to me, bastard, and I will not trouble you or your black crows. Keep them from me, and I will cut out your bastard's heart and eat it.

Ramsay Bolton,

Trueborn Lord of Winterfell.

Tormund dismisses the letter as a lie when it's read to him, but Jon insists that too many of the details in it are accurate to be a lie. Jon assembles a meeting of the wildlings and black brothers in the Shield Hall, where Jon informs them all of the letter and his new plan of action.

The bulk of the Night's Watch will go to Hardhome with Tormund in command, while Jon will go to Winterfell himself and make Ramsay answer for his words. Jon knows that doing so will break his vow to not interfere in the wars of the Seven Kingdoms, so he is prepared to go alone. He asks if anyone will ride with him and he gets an overwhelming roar of support from most of the wildlings, though not from his Black Brothers — Yarwyck and Bowen Marsh leave the hall with their men. Jon doesn't mind, as he appears to have more than enough men to go with him and none of the Night's Watch will have to break their vows.

When Jon is on his way to inform Queen Selyse, he hears the giant Wun Wun roar and a man scream. When he arrives, a bleeding Wun Wun is smashing the dead Ser Patrek against a tower wallnote . Jon tries to calm the situation, telling people to put down their weapons, when Wick Wittlestick slashes at Jon's throat with a dagger, just barely grazing him.

While Jon is still trying to understand, Bowen Marsh and others stab daggers into him, all of them saying, "For the Watch." By the time the fourth dagger slashes him, Jon passes out, his last thoughts of Ghost ...

The Queen's Hand

It is raining heavily in Meereen, for which Barristan Selmy is grateful; otherwise the fires caused during Viserion and Rhaegal's rampage might have consumed the entire city. There is no sign of the two dragons: they do not like the rain any more than men.

Quentyn Martell is dead; it took three days for him to die. Out of respect for the prince, Ser Barristan had him placed in the queen's bed, the same one he crossed half the world to reach. Missandei is the only one he could get to help tend Quentyn, for none of the cupbearers were willing and the Blue Graces never responded to his summons; he suspects the pale mare has carried them off. Missandei asks what is to be done with Quentyn's body and Barristan replies that they will find a way to send him back to Dorne, though he is unsure how.

He advises Missandei to get some sleep and she urges him to do the same, as she has noted that he doesn't sleep very much. Barristan privately thinks it is not just needing less sleep than a younger man, as Grand Maester Pycelle once told him, but having reached the age where he fears to close his eyes in case he never opens them again; Barristan does not consider dying in his sleep a death worthy of a knight of the Kingsguard. For a brief moment, he wonders if Daenerys is dead, but then dismisses the thought, though he notes that each time it becomes harder to convince himself his queen is still alive.

At dawn, Skahaz mo Kandaq comes to speak with him; Skahaz is already aware that Quentyn is dead, and he informs Barristan that the Green Grace, who Barristan sent to treat with the Yunkai'i to make them release the hostages, has not returned to the citynote .

In addition, while the city is secure, an angry mob is gathered outside the pyramid demanding Hizdahr's release and that both dragons be destroyed, and since his arrest, the Sons of the Harpy have resumed their nightly murders with a vengeance; Barristan is shocked to learn they have killed twenty-nine in the night, in contrast to nine the previous night and three the night before. However, despite Skahaz's insistence, Barristan still refuses to kill the hostages in retaliation.

The Shavepate tells Barristan (who is now the Queen's Hand, as head of a council ruling the city) that the council is waiting for him. Barristan does not want the position, but in the absence of Daenerys, he doesn't trust any of the others to rule. Grey Worm and the captains of the Stalwart Shields, Mother's Men, and Free Brothers, along with Strong Belwas are present.

Barristan informs them of Quentyn's death; most of the council express contempt for the prince's actions and many want his companions, who are at present imprisoned, executed for unleashing the dragons on the city. The fighting pits are to remain closed, for fear that the noise and smell of blood will attract the dragons, though Marselen suggests reopening the pits in the hope it lures Drogon back, and Daenerys with him. For the time being, the pits are packed full of livestock, from which the dragons are feeding regularly, and thus far, there has been no further evidence of either Viserion or Rhaegal eating people.

The council are convinced that the Yunkai'i are never going to accept any terms beside the killing of both dragons for the return of the hostages. When asked what he will do when his terms are refused, Barristan replies "Fire and Blood". They quickly grasp his meaning; he intends to do battle with the Yunkish army.

A lengthy discussion regarding the battle plan follows, particularly regarding the deployment of troops, targets to attack, how best to use the Unsullied and other such concerns; however, all agree that if they can destroy the slavers, the sellsword companies will abandon their paymasters, and the dragons may make their presence known in the fight, though Barristan cannot say if they will help or just kill indiscriminately. He does note that if they come, it will help break Yunkish morale.

When the council adjourns, Barristan goes to the cell where the two Dornishmen are being held and informs them of Prince Quentyn's death. Gerris Drinkwater angrily blames Daenerys for it, causing a fierce argument between him and Barristan, who bluntly dismisses Gerris's claims Quentyn came for love and asserts they came because Quentyn's father wanted the backing of House Targaryen before daring to defy the Iron Throne, but Archibald Yronwood angrily tells Gerris to shut up before more can be said.

Barristan then makes an arrangement with the two Dornishmen: in exchange for a ship back to Dorne and Quentyn's bones to return to his father, Barristan wants them to go back to the Windblown company and tell the Tattered Prince that they will give him what he wants (Pentos) if he can free and protect the hostages during the coming battle.

The Green Grace returns, telling Barristan that the Yunkai'i have refused his offer, and that the only price they will accept is the death of the dragons. As they speak, the Shavepate runs in and tells them that the six trebuchets have begun flinging not rocks, but corpses into Meereen.

Daenerys X

Daenerys is walking back south through the Dothraki Sea towards Meereen, following a small rivulet that she thinks will flow into the Skahazadhan. She has spent her time flying Drogon, but could not make him take her back.

Instead, they have been staying at his lair, a small cave in a hill she named Dragonstone as a reference to the place where she was born. She gets sick on the way, and has a number of hallucinations as she lies in the grass, bleeding and dyingnote . These include visions of Quaithe, of Viserys Targaryen, and of Jorah Mormont, and seem to revolve around the idea of forgetting who she is.

Daenerys comes to the conclusion that she is a Targaryen, and that she has been wasting her time trying to bring peace in Meereen when her true place is in Westeros, upon the Iron Throne.

Finally, a single Dothraki scout approaches her, but does not see her. The scout freezes as Drogon approaches, and then flees. Daenerys calls out for Drogon as he flies over, and mounts him. Drogon catches and devours a horse, and Dany joins him. This is how Khal Jhaqo, former ko of Khal Drogo, accompanied by 50 of his warriors, finds her.

Epilogue

Lord Regent Kevan Lannister is hosting a small council meeting in the Red Keep's throne room; neither Queen Margaery nor Cersei are present, nor is Tommen, as Kevan thinks it kinder to let him spend as much time as possible with his mother before her trial and possible execution. The lord of Griffin's Roost, Ronnet Connington stands before them, insisting that he is loyal to King Tommen and uninvolved with whoever claims to be his uncle Jon Connington and the Targaryen pretender he has brought with him, who have landed with the Golden Company in the Stormlands, attacking towns and villages as they march on Storm's End.

Ronnet begs to prove his loyalty in battle, but the new Hand of the King Mace Tyrell refuses, and orders Ronnet kept in his quarters for the moment, in addition to sending the men-at-arms Jaime sent to accompany Connington south — all former thugs of Gregor Clegane's — to the Night's Watch.

Kevan has begun to resent the demands of Mace Tyrell as Cersei did, but he realises he cannot openly oppose them; Tyrell and his bannerman Randyll Tarly have both brought armies to King's Landing, while the Lannisters' standing army is still in the riverlands. Tyrell insists that he will deal with Connington and his boy after Margaery's trial and asks why Tommen can't declare Margaery's innocence without a trial, but Kevan insists that defying the Faith will send them straight into the arms of Connington or Stannis Baratheon at a time when the Ironborn are attacking the Western lands as well.

Mace Tyrell retorts that Paxter Redwyne will drive the Ironmen back and that Stannis has to face both Roose Bolton and the cold climate of the North. He also dismisses the threat Jon Connington and the exiles of the Golden Company pose, but Kevan is unsure; he still remembers when Aerys appointed Connington to the role of Hand, and while Tywin Lannister's assessment of Connington as unsuitable for the post proved true after his failure to kill Robert Baratheon at the Battle of the Bells, Kevan believes age has surely made Connington wiser, more cautious and more dangerous.

The small council all agree that Connington and his pretender must be crushed, lest Daenerys Targaryen receive word and leave Meereen to join forces with them. Pycelle suggests that they buy off the Golden Company, but new Master of Coin Harys Swyft dismisses this idea; thanks to Cersei's economic mismanagement, the treasury is nearly empty, the Iron Bank of Braavos is still demanding its money, pledges for new loans from Myr received no favorable response, and their hopes of replenishing the treasuries with the fabled wealth on Dragonstone following Ser Loras's capture of the island have proven in vain.

Mace Tyrell reacts angrily to this, arguing that Loras searched the castle and found no trace of gold or gemstones, nor the fabled cache of dragon eggs supposedly kept there; Kevan personally thinks that Loras didn't look very hard, given that he is a young man prone to rash judgments, even more so following his injuries, and the Valyrian sorcery used to construct Dragonstone likely hides many secrets.

Instead of voicing this, he defuses the argument by suggesting Stannis likely took everything of value with him when he fled. Kevan also suggests that Harys try Pentoshi magister moneylenders, or else go to Braavos and deal with the Iron Bank in person; he won't raise taxes for fear of driving more lords into the arms of Stannis and Connington.

Next, business turns to the forthcoming trials; Kevan says that Cersei has chosen trial by battle, with Ser Robert Strong to represent her as her champion. Tyrell and Tarly express deep misgivings about the man, which Kevan shares as they have all heard rumours: Meryn Trant says he has never seen Strong eat or drink, and Boros Blount claims to have never seen him use the privy. Kevan muses that "dead men don't shit," suspecting that he and the others know who Strong really is.

However, Kevan silences Mace's protests by arguing that if Cersei loses her trial, the legitimacy of her children, and thus Margaery's claim to the throne as Tommen's queen will be called into question. He also assures the council that even if Cersei proves her innocence, she will be sent back to Casterly Rock afterwards, and play no further part in ruling or Tommen's education.

The meeting adjourns, intending to reconvene in five days' time and leaving for later decisions about an inheritance involving House Rosby and six claims, as well as the preparation for Myrcella's upcoming marriage. Mace Tyrell makes plain his scorn for the marriage, particularly after Myrcella's injuries, and suggests a better match for her; Kevan muses that Mace likely has his son Willas in mind. He dismisses the idea, warning that reneging on Myrcella's betrothal now could be all the cause Doran Martell needs to side with Connington.

Harys Swyft suggests that they get the Dornish to deal with Connington and his pretender; Kevan agrees that it would save them a lot of trouble. After Tyrell and Tarly are gone, Pycelle asks Kevan for guards, fearing that Mace Tyrell means to do him harm for his part in Cersei's claims about Margaery, but Kevan dismisses his concerns.

It is snowing heavily in King's Landing and Kevan retires to his study for a time to warm up. He muses on the possibility of raising his son Lancel to the Kingsguard to end his newfound piety, before his thoughts turn to Cersei, the charming and sweet girl once was; he believes that, had Aerys accepted Tywin's offer and wed his son to Cersei, Rhaegar would never have looked twice at Lyanna Stark, and perhaps many now dead would still be alive.

He then thinks on Cersei's walk of shame and how similar it was to what Tywin did to their father's mistress, but Kevan reassures himself it was necessary; the Faith had to be appeased, and left unchecked, Cersei would have corrupted Tommen as she did Joffrey.

Kevan then goes to Cersei's chambers, where he has dinner with her and Tommen. Cersei is very calm and guarded after her walk of atonement, which Kevan thinks a good sign. She makes a humble request that Taena Merryweather attend on her once more after the trial and that her son be brought to court as a companion for Tommen; she also asks after her brothers, but Kevan has no news of Jaime or Tyrion. He tells her that he has imprisoned the remaining Kettleblack brothers for their crimes of fornicating with a queen; if they confess, he will send them to the Wall. If not, they will face Robert Strong.

A messenger then announces that Grand Maester Pycelle is asking for Kevan's presence. Kevan arrives at the Maester's chambers and enters to find a white raven sitting on the window ledge, a sign from the Citadel that winter has come. Kevan turns to leave, and is hit in the chest by a crossbow bolt.

He calls out for help, but then sees Pycelle sat at his table, already dead. For one moment, Kevan calls out to Tyrion, thinking his nephew responsible, but a familiar voice tells him otherwise as the real killer emerges: Varys. Varys explains to the dying Kevan that he bears the man no ill will, that Kevan is simply a good man in service to a bad cause, but he was becoming too successful in uniting the realm behind Tommen and undoing the damage Cersei had caused.

The eunuch adds that Cersei will suspect the Tyrells (with help from the Imp) for Kevan's murder, the Tyrells will blame her, someone will blame the Dornish and the alliances shoring up Tommen's hold on the Iron Throne will crumble as Aegon makes his presence known at Storm's End and the realm flocks to the side of the Targaryens.

Kevan insists that Aegon was killed during the Sack of King's Landing but Varys explains otherwise; Aegon has been groomed since birth to be king, taught not just in skill at arms and ruling, but how to look after himself, what it means to go hungry, to be hunted and most importantly, that it is his duty to rule, not his right, and to put his people first. Varys then summons some of his "little birds" and instructs them to finish the dying Kevan off.

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