By Meyer Stephenie
By Meyer Stephenie
Stephenie Meyer was born in Hartford, Connecticut on December 24, 1973. She grew up in Phoenix, Arizona and graduated from Chaparral High School in Scottsdale. As a devout Mormon, Meyer attended Brigham Young University from which she received a Bachelor of Arts in English in 1997. Though she had a love for English, Meyer never considered a serious career as a writer and had never written so much as a short story before she penned the highly publicized and hugely popular Twilight series. After achieving so much success with the Twilight novels, Meyer has continued to write though still within the science fiction genre.
The Host (2008) is Stephenie Meyer’s first novel outside of the Twilight world, and also her first novel aimed at an adult audience. The Host centers around a young human woman who has been invaded by an alien presence, as has most of her race, though the young woman is more resistant than the others. The Host spent twenty-six weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List, and its success inspired Meyer to write two follow-up novels, tentatively titled The Soul and The Seeker; though neither has a release date as of 2012. As Meyer continues her writing career, she has plans for more novels involving ghosts, time travel, and more supernatural beings. A film version of The Host is slated for release March 29, 2013.
A group known as “souls” travel from planet to planet being inserted in native species and learning how each species lives; Wanderer is a soul and Earth is her ninth planet. Wanderer is surprised to find that her host still lives in the body she has inhabited, and they are able to have conversations, which is something that is not supposed to happen. Wanderer grows to like Melanie and wants to help her to find her family, despite being followed by a particularly zealous Seeker who seems to have it out for Wanderer/Melanie. While searching for Mel’s family, Wanderer nearly dies and is revived by a man who turns out to be Mel’s uncle Jeb. Jeb brings Wanderer to the caves where he and other humans, including Mel’s boyfriend Jared and brother Jamie, are hiding out.
Wanderer is not accepted by the humans at first, but once they learn more about her and realize that Mel is still living inside of her, she becomes part of their family. Wanderer is torn between Mel’s emotions for Jared and her own newfound emotions for Jared’s friend Ian. As Wanderer becomes more attached to the people she has been surrounded with she knows that she must make a drastic move to save Melanie and to also save her fellow souls. While Wanderer plans her self-sacrifice the others try to convince her to stay and share her life with them in another body. Wanderer does not want to live as a parasite forever, but also does not want to leave her new family behind.
When Wanderer first begins to communicate with Melanie she is immediately overcome by the strong feelings that Melanie has for her family, whom she has lost in the war between souls and humans. Wanderer pushes aside her own survival instincts and instead vows to help Melanie find those who she has lost. Once Wanderer becomes a part of the cave community she realizes that the people who surround her are her family just as much as they are Mel’s, as they have taken her in and treated her as such. In a time of war, those who stick together become family.
When Mel first shares a memory of Jared with Wanderer, Wanderer is immediately sure that there is something unique and different about him. Melanie loves Jared, and this has a tremendous effect on Wanderer, as does Melanie’s love for her brother Jamie. Wanderer is surprised at how intense human emotions are as she was not prepared for the feelings she would experience living on Earth. The more time she spends in the caves the more Wanderer realizes that she has developed love for these people, rather than just feeding off of Melanie’s love for them.
Wanderer is an undeniably self-sacrificing character in this novel. She never thinks of herself but always thinks of others, especially of Melanie. The ultimate show of Wanderer’s self-sacrificing comes when she makes the decision to leave Melanie’s body and allow her to live amongst the other humans. Despite Wanderer’s love for everyone she has become close to, especially Melanie and Ian, she feels as though it would be selfish for her to continue being a parasite in Melanie’s body. However, one of the reasons the humans care for Wanderer so much is because of her unselfish ways.
It can be easy to forget that the underlying theme of this novel is alien invasion, as it becomes so much more than that. While most alien invasion stories have cruel and scary undertones, this one is a story of hope and a quest for knowledge. The souls are not looking to destroy Earth but to make it a better place without crime or violence, and where people live long, and healthy lives without senseless death (ironic because they destroy human life by inhabiting human bodies). It is Wanderer’s hope that souls and humans can learn to coexist on Earth, and it seems that they may.
The caves represent the solitude that the humans are living in; however their community is so close-knit that the caves also represent self-preservation and family. The humans who live in the caves are forced to live in this solitude because they are protecting themselves from the possibility of being invaded by the souls and losing their freedom and their bodies; in most cases, they would lose themselves entirely. In some ways, Wanderer and Melanie live in solitude as well, despite always being together. Wanderer is a soul living amongst humans, and Melanie is a human who has no body of her own.
Solidarity is what keeps the peace in the caves. Jeb is a firm but fair leader who makes everyone within the caves stick together, despite their differences. He constantly reminds the others that it is his house, and thus his rules. They are not allowed to harm one another, and all consequential decisions are made by tribunal, to enforce the pack mentality and democracy of the situation. In order to achieve ultimate solidarity everyone must think as a group and no one can make selfish decisions that may be harmful to the group dynamic or any individual members. Because of this feeling of solidarity Wanderer is not able to be harmed on Jeb’s orders.
Wanderer has to work for the acceptance of the humans, though it is made easier by the fact that Jeb is on her side, and Jared is too attached to the fact that she is in Melanie’s body to allow her to be killed. She works harder than everyone else, and when they begin to come around she teaches them about the souls and life on other planets. Slowly the other humans all begin to not only accept Wanderer but to consider her a part of their family. The acceptance that touches Wanderer the most is Kyle’s; when he finds his girlfriend who is now a soul he realizes the mistake he has made with Wanda.
Several times within the novel the characters make references to the war that they are fighting. While it may not be a war in the sense that we consider war (guns, bombs, etc.) it is a war because it is a battle for life. The humans are fighting to save their bodies from the control of the souls, while the souls are entering a planet that does not belong to them with plans to take it over. The two sides are truly black and white until Wanderer comes along and proves to the humans, and to herself, that it is possible for the two sides to coexist.
Death is part of life, and it is also part of war; therefore, it is only natural that it be a principal theme within this novel. For most humans, the soul inhabiting their body signals their death and the birth of a new life. However, Melanie did not die when Wanderer was inserted into her body, and it seems that, in some rare cases, this holds true; the human and soul coexist in one body though not always harmoniously. The humans see the soul invasion as a death sentence as human lives are fragile, but to the souls death is rare as they exist with or without a host body.
Knowledge is power, especially for Wanderer. While she is reluctant to teach others, her knowledge of life on other planets and her willingness to share that information regardless of her reluctance helps her to be accepted. The other humans are intensely interested in the information that Wanderer is able to give them, and they love to listen to her stories. At the end of the novel when Wanderer reveals to Doc that she knows how to extract a soul, that knowledge gives Wanderer the bargaining chip that she needs to give Melanie’s body back to her.
Wanderer, also called “Wanda”, is a soul who has lived on nine different planets including Earth. Wanderer was placed inside the body of a rebel girl named Mel, who despite the odds also still lives within her body. Wanda helps Mel to find her family and develops feelings for them and learns to deal with intense human emotions. Wanda is determined to save the souls, while also saving the humans at the same time, and in order to do this she must resort to some self-sacrificing measures. Wanda is eventually given a new body so she can stay on Earth and Mel can have her body back.
Melanie is the rebel girl whose body Wanda is inserted into. She should have died during the insertion, but she manages to still within her head and coexist with Wanderer, whom she develops a love and friendship with. Melanie is happy to find her boyfriend and brother safe, and while she would love to be with them she does not want Wanda to sacrifice herself in order to give Mel her life back. Mel is a remarkably strong person and personality, and she often argues with Wanda about her decisions, especially those that involve Jared and Ian.
Jared is one of the humans hiding out in the cave, and he is also Melanie’s boyfriend. Jared and Melanie were separated when fleeing the souls, and though Melanie’s body has been taken over by a soul the two of them love one another terribly much. It takes Jared a while to come around to Wanderer but once he learns Mel still exists within her he fights to keep her safe. Jared is a proponent of Wanda giving Mel her body back, but he also wants Wanda to live, only in a different human body.
Ian, along with his brother Kyle, also lives in the caves. At first he wants to kill Wanderer because he does not trust having a soul around, but once he gets to know he develops strong feelings for her. Wanderer develops feelings for Ian as well but worries that his feelings are actually for Mel, as that is the body Wanderer is in. Ian works to protect Wanderer and to convince her that his feelings are for who she is, not the outside package. Ian does not want Wanda to sacrifice herself to give Melanie her life back, so he fully supports the idea of giving her a new body.
Jamie is Melanie’s little brother, who has been protected by Jared and is also living in the caves. Jamie immediately is drawn to Wanderer and seems to understand from the very beginning that Melanie still exists within her body. Jamie is the main reason that Wanderer is not killed because Jared refuses to do something that would hurt Jamie, despite his own initial feelings about the soul. Jamie is a constant positive presence in Wanderer’s life and manages to easily separate Wanda from Mel, even though they share a body.
Jeb is Melanie’s uncle and the leader of the crew who lives in the caves. Jeb owns the caves, and he uses this power to his advantage; whenever someone wants to challenge the rules of peace that he has laid forth he reminds them that it is his place and his rules. Jeb is immediately intrigued by Wanderer and vows to keep her safe from the others, as though he understands that Mel is still living inside of her before this fact is actually revealed. Jeb is a father figure for most of the characters within the novel and they respect his authority.
Doc the doctor in the hospital within the caves and he is truly interested in the science behind the insertion of the souls. He is wary around Wanderer at first but quickly develops a liking for her and wants to learn more about her and the other souls. Doc has been trying to figure out how to extract souls for some time and in doing so has managed to kill several souls, as well as humans. When Wanderer wants to give Mel her life back she bargains with Doc, telling him she will teach him how to do an extraction that will save the soul and the human if he will remove her from Mel’s body.
Kyle is the brother of Ian, and he is one person who undoubtedly has it out for Wanderer from day one. Kyle’s girlfriend Jodi had been taken by the souls, and because of this he holds a grudge against all souls, including Wanderer. He tries to kill Wanderer, despite Jeb’s insistence that she remain unharmed, and he does not hide his malice. When Kyle learns that Jodi can be saved, he sets out to find her and enlists Wanderer as an ally when he returns with her. Just before Wanderer sacrifices herself, Kyle apologizes for the way he has treated her, which means a lot to Wanda.
The Seeker is a soul who has been tracking Wanderer from the day that she was inserted in Melanie’s body. She wants Wanderer to retrieve information about the rebels from Melanie’s memories, but later Wanda learns that the Seeker had other motives. After the Seeker kills Wes and is taken prisoner Wanda decides to use her as the first test subject in soul extraction. The human that Seeker inhabited, called Lacey, reveals that she coexisted with the Seeker, though not happily, and that is why the Seeker was so interested in Wanderer.
Wes is one of the rebels who comes to accept Wanderer. It is his acceptance of and interest in Wanderer that attracts Lily an older girl, to him. One day when Wes leaves the caves he runs into the Seeker who shoots and kills him, injuring Brandt in the process. Wanderer feels personally responsible for Wes’ death and seeing Lily’s grief solidifies Wanderer’s idea that she must sacrifice herself to give Melanie her life back.
Lily is Wes’ older girlfriend. She was not initially open to the idea of dating someone younger than her, but once she saw how compassionate toward and interested in Wanderer he was, she could not resist. When Wes was killed by the Seeker Lily was heartbroken, and it was her grief that moved Wanderer to decision that she must give Mel her life back, as well as the other humans and souls who have been joined by insertion.
Maggie is Jeb’s sister, Sharon’s mother, and Melanie’s aunt. From the moment she laid eyes on Wanderer, she did not trust her and wanted her dead, despite the fact that Wanderer was in Mel’s body. While everyone else in the caves slowly came around to Wanderer living there, Maggie refused to accept her because to Maggie, Wanda was only a soul and Melanie did not exist any longer.
Sharon is Maggie’s daughter, Jeb’s niece, and Melanie’s cousin. Sharon is who Melanie was looking for the day she tried to jump to her death but was instead taken by the souls. Melanie is relieved to find Sharon alive at the caves, but Sharon is not accepting of Wanderer and immediately wants her dead. Even after the others become accepting of Wanderer, Sharon refuses to trust her and wants nothing to do with the soul, despite her cousin still existing inside.
Sunny is the soul who inhabits Jodi’s body (Kyle’s girlfriend). When Kyle finds Sunny and wants to take her with him, she goes willingly, because she knows who Kyle is from Jodi’s memories of him and immediately loves him. Sunny does not want to be taken from Jodi’s body, but Doc does the surgery anyway. When Jodi does not wake from the surgery, Sunny is inserted back into her body so she can be with Kyle. Kyle is accepting of Sunny because he realizes that having Sunny is like having a piece of Jodi which loves him mightily much, despite her being a soul.
Brandt is another of the rebels living in the cave. He is close friends with Wes and, like Wes, he comes to accept Wanderer and be extremely interested in the knowledge she has to impart on them. Brandt is present for many of the crucial events that happen within the caves, and he is also present when Wes is shot and killed by the Seeker. Brandt is shot as well, though Doc manages to heal him and save his life with the soul medications that Wanderer has managed to steal from the hospital.
Fords Deep Waters is a Healer whose job it is to insert souls into humans. He is annoyed that there are many Healing students standing around to watch the insertion he is about to do, though they are mainly interested because they have not seen an adult woman before, or “a wild human”. The human is named Melanie and she was badly injured before coming to Fords, though she is now in perfect condition and ready to be inserted with a well-known and praised soul called The Wanderer. The Wanderer had lived on the Origin, the home planet, and also as seven different species. Fords has anxiety about The Wanderer entering into this human and more anxiety because The Seeker wants to speak to Melanie once the insertion is complete. Fords makes an incision in Melanie’s neck and inserts the soul, which resembles a long silver ribbon with feathery sides; once inserted, the soul takes control of the human body. Fords is uneasy about placing The Wanderer in this particular body and wishes “little wanderer” good luck.
When Wanderer awakes in her host body, she takes some time to adjust, as she has never lived within a human body before. She realizes that she has a sense of smell and emotions which are must stronger than she is accustomed to. Wanderer braces herself to relive Melanie’s last memories but is still shocked when she sees it; Melanie had been running from The Seekers when she approached her near-death. Wanderer screams, which she feels is a betrayal, as she did not will the host body to scream. She follows the memory, as Melanie runs for an empty elevator shaft and jumps in an attempted suicide though the impact only leaves her badly injured. Just before Melanie lands, the face of a man flashes into her mind and Wanderer finds herself drawn to this man’s face. The face disappears, and the host body says, “Mine”. Despite the fact that the host should not exist once the soul has entered, Wanderer cannot help but think she is not alone in her body.
Wanderer overhears Fords and the Seeker talking as she gets adjusted to her new body. It sounds as though they are arguing, though that is not the type of conversation that Wanderer is used to hearing. Healers do not view Seekers in the best light, as their profession often involves violence and Healers like to promote goodness and positivity. Melanie had been a rebel during her life, and the reason that Wanderer was chosen to inhabit Melanie’s body is to collect information regarding the rebel movement and pass it on to the Seekers. Wanderer has heard of tensions between humans, hosts, and Seekers, and though she does not agree with the occupation of the Seekers she wants to help if she can. Wanderer tries to access Melanie’s memories, but she finds that she cannot get to them. Wanderer wonders if her host body is damaged, though the thought of it causes her body to feel anger which surprises her.
Wanderer and confused and angry at the thought that her host body is defective; she asks the Seeker and the Healer whether her host is damaged and she learns that because Melanie was a rebel she is resistant to the soul, but she will soon come around. Fords tells Wanderer about a soul called Racing Song who was taken from his host early because the host resisted him and attempted to cut Racing Song out of his body. Wanderer tries to tell the Seeker everything she can about her host: she is a twenty year old girl named Melanie Stryder and she was in Chicago because she was searching for her cousin Sharon. Wanderer hears her body ask if Sharon was found, but she is shocked because she knows that she was not the one to ask the question. Before she is totally blocked from Melanie’s memory, Wanderer discovers that Melanie was supposed to meet with a young man named Jared; the same young man whose face Wanderer had been attracted to.
Melanie remembers searching for food at an abandoned house with her brother Jamie. She gathers all that she can carry and is startled to run into a man on her way out the door. Melanie and the man struggle with one another, each believing the other to be a bodysnatcher, but they soon realize that they are both human. The man kisses Melanie and she knees him and flees. As Melanie is faster than the man he throws a rock at her to make her stop and then catches up to her. The man flashes a light into his eyes to show Melanie that he is human, and tells her that he scarred the back of his neck to keep him safe from the body snatchers. He says his name is Jared Howe, and he wants to follow Melanie because he has not seen any other humans. Jared kisses Melanie again before he leaves to get his car and she screams when she feels the scar on his neck. Wanderer wakes and knows she must have had a dream; she also knows she will not fall back asleep so she emails the Seeker to tell her about Jamie. Melanie panics when Wanderer sends the email and Wanderer can tell that Melanie is becoming much stronger.
Wanderer decides she must pay a visit to her Comforter, a woman/soul named Kathy. Wanderer has never needed to visit with a Comforter before, but, as she is having a difficult time adjusting, she decides it is time. When Kathy came to the planet, she decided to live her life with her host’s spouse, which leads Wanderer to mention Jared and the fact that Melanie grieves for him because she sees him in her dream memories every night. Kathy is appalled at the revelation that Melanie is still living within her body and tells Wanderer to go to a Healer so she can be placed in another host. Wanderer does not want to leave her body early, and Melanie is horrified that she will be disposed of if the soul is taken from her. Wanderer decides to stay with Melanie because she believes it is the only way she can help her.
Kathy tells Wanderer that if she makes some friends it may help to push out Melanie’s presence. Kathy also believes that Wanderer will more easily acclimate to her host body if she finds someone to have an intimate relationship with, but both Wanderer and Melanie are disgusted by this idea. Kathy tells Wanderer that the Seekers have been looking for Jared, and she is sure that once a soul is placed into Jared’s body he will be attracted to Wanderer. Wanderer and Melanie are both upset by this idea, and Wanderer runs away, crying. On the way home, Wanderer gets sick in the bushes and the Seeker from Chicago catches up with her. They discuss Wanderer’s emotions, and she is terribly surprised by her intense reactions. Wanderer sees one of Melanie’s memories, and it looks like lines on a road map. Wanderer can sense this memory is celebrated, and she realizes the lines must lead to Jared and Jamie.
Wanderer is speaking to a class about the history of her kind, though she feels uncomfortable with the subject matter because she has none of her own memories. As the students discuss the past, Wanderer declines to participate in their conversation despite being asked questions. She notes to herself that she has always been a bit antisocial and never formed any lasting attachments that would cause her to stay with any species longer than one lifetime. The Seeker is interested in Wanderer’s antisocial tendencies and follows her, asking questions. The Seeker realizes Melanie is still present and wonders if she should go into Melanie’s body to get the memories herself. Wanderer asks the Seeker to stop following her, as she realizes the Seeker is untrustworthy. Later that day Wanderer makes some plans for travel, and when Melanie inquires, Wanderer reveals they are going to Chicago to see the Healer. Melanie asks Wanderer whether she is going to kill her and Wanderer reveals she is considering it.
As Wanderer drives, she allows Melanie to relive some of her memories without interference. It seems as though Melanie is remembering the happy times just in case she is about to die. Melanie remembers a home that Jared’s father had built in the desert, where Jared had brought Melanie, and Jamie to live. When they first get to the home Melanie, and Jared discuss where they are going to sleep, and Melanie suggests that she and Jared share a bed while Jamie sleeps on the couch. Jared does not want to pressure Melanie, and he does not want her to think she owes him anything so he hesitates to accept her offer. She tells him that she isn’t offering to pay a due; she genuinely wants to. Jared tells Melanie he would rather die than live without her in his life and Melanie feels the same. Jared worries that Melanie is too young, and he worries about their lack of birth control because he does not want to bring children into the messed-up world. Jared tells Melanie they have a lot of time and do not need to rush, but Melanie is upset by this; there is no way to know how much time they have.
Wanderer has decided she wants to save Mel, but she has some questions to ask the Healer first. Melanie shows Wanderer some memories: of her leaving Jared and Jamie to go find her cousin Sharon, and of some of her last moments as a human. Wanderer does not want to see Melanie’s memories anymore, but Melanie shows her that the place they see in the distance, Picacho Peak, resembles the squiggly road map lines that lead to Jared and Jamie. Melanie remembers that Picacho Peak is a place owned by her relatives, known as the “crazies”, and that is where she was supposed to hide with Jared and Jamie to stay safe. Mel allows Wanderer a memory of her cousin Sharon as well, but fears that Wanderer will share this information with the Seeker. Wanderer is torn between doing what the Seekers want and saving Melanie, but she knows that she must do what feels right. Wanderer realizes that she feels particularly strongly about Jared, through Melanie’s memory.
Wanderer heads into a convenience store where she can buy supplies for the trip that she and Melanie are taking into the unknown. Melanie helps Wanderer decide to buy several gallons of water, some doughnuts, granola bars, and potato chips. Wanderer also acquires a map which she uses to hopefully lead herself, and Melanie, in the direction toward finding Jared and Jamie. Melanie sees something that looks familiar to her as they are walking through the desert and Wanderer realizes how helpless Melanie must feel at having no control over her body anymore. Melanie will not let Wanderer into her thoughts concerning where they are going and how to get there, and this frustrates Wanderer. Wanderer parks the car for the night and thinks about what they will do the following day. She knows that Melanie would rather keep journeying into the unknown than return to civilization.
Wanderer realizes that the car has run out of gas, which is just another setback on their journey. Wanderer has begun to allow Melanie to take over their mind more and more because she is familiar with where they may be headed, while Wanderer is clueless as to what is in store for them. Wanderer/Melanie sleeps and the next morning they are refreshed, but realize that most of the water they have purchased is already gone. They set out, worried about running out of water. The following day they find an abandoned house and inside the house find some water to refill their jugs and a bit of food. Wanderer also finds some newspapers which leave her repulsed by the state of the humans and their actions; however when they leave the house Wanderer feels refreshed.
Wanderer feels that something is patently wrong. She thinks about everything that has happened over the past several days and realizes that they have been travelling in the wrong direction. Wanderer starts to get hysterical, but Melanie assures her that she is sure Jamie and Jared are fine, and the outcome could have been the same if they have gone in the right direction. Wanderer worries they will die and Melanie does not refute this worry; she feels that if they die at least the Seekers do not know where Jamie and Jared are. They discuss the afterlife and Wanderer wonders if she will always love Jamie and Jared even when she is not in Mel’s body anymore. Wanderer and Melanie begin to slowly die, unable to even communicate, when suddenly someone appears and begins feeding them water. The savior is Melanie’s uncle Jeb; one of the crazies.
Wanderer and Melanie are so relieved and revived from the water that their thoughts begin to meld into one. Wanderer/Melanie asks Uncle Jeb if Jared and Jamie are there, but Uncle Jeb says they never made it. He says he will be right back and not to go anywhere. When Uncle Jeb returns he is not alone; he has brought seven other people with him and they all appear angry and are carrying weapons. Melanie is excited to see so many humans, but Wanderer knows that they are in substantial trouble and think that they should have just died the previous day. Wanderer has a secret that she has been keeping from Melanie, and she worries that if she is tortured she will give up too easily because she is not as strong as Mel. Kyle wants to kill Wanderer, but his brother Ian and Uncle Jeb are not as anxious. Melanie recognizes her aunt Maggie, but Maggie does not believe it is really Mel and thinks she is a Seeker. Jeb blindfolds Mel/Wanderer to bring back to the caves and admits he is curious about her. In the caves, there are many more angry-looking people who frighten Wanderer but Melanie is excited that so many humans still live. One particular man steps from the crowd and Wanderer and Mel are both shocked.
The man who steps forward is Jared, and Melanie is incredibly excited to see him. Wanderer is not as excited as Mel because she can see the hatred in Jared’s eyes. Wanderer tries to tell Mel that Jared does not know Melanie is still in the body when suddenly Jared hits her. Melanie is just happy that Jared is okay and wants to reach out to him, but Wanderer will not allow it; Jeb helps her up after Jared hits her. Many of the people in the cave talk about Wanderer/Melanie and want to learn more about her by examining her body but Jared does not want to participate. Melanie is happy and relieved to find out that Jamie is okay, as well. In the midst of everyone discussing what to do with Wanderer, she passes out.
When Wanderer comes to, she is hungry, aching all over from the position she slept in, and sees that she is in a decidedly dark and cramped space. She hears a noise and knows that she is not alone; when she opens her eyes she sees that Jared is there with a tray of food for her. Wanderer does not hesitate to eat the food, and when Jared refills the tray for her she thanks him, though he says nothing in return. After a lengthy absence, Melanie reappears and is shocked that Jared hit her. She also realizes that Wanderer has feelings for Jared, and they are separate from her own feelings. It seems as though once a soul is implanted into a host the soul has feelings for the people the host has feelings for. Wanderer/Mel falls asleep and then wakes to the sound of Kyle and Ian talking; Wanderer notes that their voices sound a lot alike. They try to get Jared to give up Wanderer so Doc can experiment with her body but Jared refuses. Mel is reveling in the fact that Jared is protecting them/her, as she knew he would, but then Wanderer hears a scuffle outside of her hideout, and she emerges to protect Jared.
Wanderer makes her way out of her “prison” and stands between Jared and Kyle. Ian pulls Wanderer out of the way and tries to strangle her at Kyle’s request, but he is interrupted by Uncle Jeb. Uncle Jeb reminds the boys that they are his guests, and so is the soul, and they are not to harm one another. Kyle wants to know what Jeb’s plans are, but Jeb says that it is entirely up to Jared. Jared is uncomfortable with having to make that decision, though Jeb tells him that he can take his time. Jeb sends Wanderer back to her spot to sleep, and she does; when she wakes she sees that Jeb has filled the tray with food for her. Jeb takes Wanderer to the washrooms and on the way she must walk through a large crowd of humans who are confused and angered to see her there.
The washroom is simply an area where there are streams and a hole dug into the ground, but it suits its purpose. Back at Wanderer’s prison there is a young boy waiting, and Wanderer realizes that it is Jamie. She warns Mel to be careful because any burst of emotion can get them into trouble so she tries to hold her feelings in; eventually Wanderer breaks down and begins to cry. Jamie is upset that he was not informed his sister had been found, and he argues with Jeb about it. Jamie is gentle with Wanderer and asks her about how she came to inhabit Mel’s body. When Jared returns he is mad that Jamie was allowed to see Wanderer. Jamie tells Jared that he is upset at the condition that Wanderer is in because it is still Melanie’s body. Jared tells Jamie to leave, and they will talk about the soul later. When Jamie is gone Jared asks Jeb if he would shoot Wanderer at that very moment, and Jeb says that he would if that’s the decision that Jared makes.
The next few days are long and dreary. Wanderer and Mel have nothing left to talk about, and Jared is not exactly pleasant company. He does not speak much, and when he does he is exceedingly rude; he tells Wanderer that she cannot have any bedding and that if she tries to escape he will kill her. Several times that week someone comes to see Wanderer’s cave; the fourth day it is Ian. Ian and Jared like to laugh at Kyle’s expense and Wanderer notes that Ian has a perfect nose while Kyle’s is crooked. Ian tells Jared that the souls are not looking for Wanderer anymore, but there is one Seeker who did not want to give up looking and is still on the search. Wanderer is visibly agitated at this news, because she knows it is The Seeker who has been harassing her. Seeing Wanderer’s reaction, Jared and Ian demand answers.
Jared yells at Wanderer to give up whatever information she has about the Seeker, but Ian tries a gentler approach, which surprises Wanderer. Ian tells Jared to leave “it” alone for a bit and Jared punches him, and then punches him again when Ian moves in front of a blow meant for Wanderer. Wanderer tells Jared that the Seeker is different from most souls, and is particularly annoying, but Jared does not understand because he is convinced that Wanderer is a Seeker, as well. Outside of the cave Ian tells Jared that he feels sorry for Wanderer because she is scared and they have covered her in bruises. Jeb comes to find Jared because he needs Jared to make a supply run. Jeb tells Jared he will watch after Wanderer, but Jared does not seem to care if Wanderer dies. As Jared leaves, Melanie and Wanderer are heart broken and believe that they will never see him again.
With Jared gone on the supply run, Wanderer is finally able to leave her cave/prison. Jeb tells Wanderer that she can sleep on Jared’s mat, and he takes her on a tour of the rest of the caves. Wanderer is nervous about seeing the humans, but she has a terrific time anyway; she sees the underground crops that are grown and the dorms that the wild humans sleep in. Jeb takes Wanderer to a dorm that she will sleep in until its inhabitant returns from a raid. In the cafeteria, most of the humans stare at Wanderer, but Jamie is happy to see her and wants to tag along; Ian and Doc ask if they can come too. Jeb is nervous to have Ian and Doc come along but decides that it is safe as long as he is there; they leave the cafeteria and head out to explore the caves.
Wanderer is paranoid that the tour of the caves is some sort of a trap but Melanie thinks that she is overreacting. As they head toward Doc’s office Wanderer thinks that this whole trip was a ruse to get her there and everyone is surprised she would think that; Ian, however, wonder why he never thought of that particular ruse. After the tour, Jeb brings Wanderer back to her dorm and asks Jamie to stand guard. Jamie is friendly and curious, asking Wanderer many questions, and she answers him freely and honestly. The truthful answers become too much for Jamie, and he begins to cry when she talks about invading Earth. Wanderer holds Jamie and cries with him, feeling terrible for upsetting him. Jeb comes in and tells Jamie that he should not hug prisoners, but he is not mad. Jeb begins to call Wanderer “Wanda”, which he feels is a friendlier name. Wanda feels that Jeb is her friend, though he would kill her if he unquestionably had to.
Jeb talks to Wanda about the insertion process and his beliefs that some humans are probably resistant to being taken over. Wanda does not say anything to him, but she and Melanie both think that it’s a wonder that Jeb was every thought of as crazy because he is actually incredibly intelligent and spot-on. Jamie brings Wanda some food, and she is asked about how she got the name of Wanderer. She explains that while most souls only have to try out a couple planets before they find one where they would like to stay, she has lived on nine planets thus far because she has not found one she would like to live on permanently yet. Jeb tells Wanda to sleep, and Doc comes in to stay the night which makes her nervous, though she has no reason to be because he passes out immediately. Wanda tries to sleep until she hears a shuffling sound from inside her dorm.
Wanderer is scared of the noise, but it turns out to be Jamie who is trying to get away from Jeb’s snoring. Jamie reveals that the room Wanda is staying in is actually Jared’s room and Jamie usually shares it with him. Wanderer tells Jamie that he can stay though she worries for him because so many people want her dead. Jamie reveals that Jeb thinks Melanie still exists sometimes, and Mel urges Wanderer to tell him the truth. Wanderer indirectly tells Jamie, though he gets the message. Jamie wonders if all humans stay, but Wanderer says that Mel is just peculiar. He asks if Mel hates Wanderer but Mel reassures her that she does not. Wanderer tells Jamie to keep it a secret that Mel still exists, but he wants to tell Jared because he thinks that Jared will know what to do. Wanderer becomes a worker the next day, heading to the crops with Ian and Jamie. Wanderer overthinks things and feels exposed being amongst all the humans. She even wonders if the water Ian brings her is poisoned but then decides she trusts him. The other humans are baffled by how friendly Ian is with the soul.
Wanderer has not had a bath or changed clothes in the several weeks she has been in the caves so she is happy to finally have one. When she gets out, Ian comments on how much better she looks, and Wanderer is confused. Wanderer still feels strange and paranoid around the humans, but she notices that Jeb is slowly giving her more time alone and is no longer carrying his gun around. She wonders if he is trying to get her killed but then realizes that he is trying to get everyone else used to having her around. One day Wanderer asks Ian why he has not tried to kill her and he surprises her by saying that he does not think it would be fair. He realizes that Wanderer means them no harm and he feels that he and Doc need to help to protect her from the humans who have not yet come around.
Over the next couple of weeks, Wanderer observes the humans around her and begins to learn their names and how they all fit in with one another. She works harder than anyone else in the fields because she feels as though she must work harder to be accepted. Melanie’s aunts Sharon and Maggie are the two humans who are most opposed to Wanderer being in the caves, and some of the others are slowly becoming less hostile. Jamie and Wanderer are developing a healthy relationship, and Jamie asks her questions whenever he thinks of them. Jeb desperately wants Wanderer to teach a class about the history of the souls, but she vehemently declines his offer, feeling extremely uncomfortable at the idea of it. Whenever Wanderer is in public with Jeb, Doc, and Jamie they will ask questions that they know the other humans want to know the answer to so everyone can hear where Wanderer is coming from. She is not comfortable with everyone listening to her answers, but when Jamie asks her if she is happy in the caves she admits that everything is fine for the time being.
The humans begin to come around to Wanderer and even start asking her questions about the universe and the other planets she has lived on. She becomes a sort of teacher to the humans and sometimes Jamie helps her tell stories because he has already heard a lot of them from her. One night when Jamie and Wanderer are telling the humans about the Sea Weeds planet Jared shows up with the other raiders covered in dirt. Kyle and Jared accuse Wanderer of being a Seeker and leading the other Seekers to the caves to turn the humans into souls, though they are proven wrong when Kyle shines a light into Ian’s eyes and sees he is still human. Jared makes the decision to kill Wanderer, but Jeb says that it is as much up to Jamie as it is Jared. Jamie wins out, and Wanderer walks way to spend some time alone. She contemplates leaving but knows it is pointless because everything she cares about is there. She finds herself back into the small cave where she had been imprisoned.
In Wanderer’s prison cave, she finds a bunch of supplies which must be what Jared and company came back with. She considers eating them but then decides against it. She asks Mel what they should do, and Mel thinks that they should stay with Jamie to make sure he is safe, as he is the first priority. Wanderer freezes when she hears someone coming but then she hears Jamie’s voice and feels relieved. She assures Jamie that she is not hiding out she just needed to spend some time alone. Jamie asks Wanderer to come find Jeb and get some sleep and Wanderer wonders what Jeb is doing, but Jamie avoids telling her. Jared finds them and rather than attack Wanderer he gets into an argument with Jamie who storms off. Jared follows Jamie apologizing and Wanderer is left alone where she falls asleep on a bag of rice.
When Wanderer wakes Jamie is there watching her and suggests that they go get some breakfast; he also tells her that he talked to Jared, and he will be nicer to Wanderer now. At breakfast everyone seems to be in a depressed state and a lot of people appear to be missing; when Wanderer asks Jamie what happened he is highly secretive just as he was the night before when she asked about Jeb. Ian finds Wanderer and tells her that they should take the day off because everyone else has except Jamie who has to go to school. Ian will not tell Wanda what is going on either, but he does ask her if Mel is still in her head. Wanda admits that Mel is still there, and Ian wonders what would happen to him if he were caught. Wanderer tells him that a Seeker would probably be implanted. As Wanderer and Ian walk around together the head deeper into the caves and run into Jared.
Jared starts by trying to joke with Ian, but Ian is having none of it. Jared wants to spend some time alone with Wanderer, but Ian does not think it is a good idea. When Wanderer insists that it is okay Ian leaves Jared with the warning that if he hurts her the damage will be double on him. Jared apologizes to Wanderer for hitting her and then terribly seriously asks if Melanie is still present. Wanderer cannot answer Jared and Melanie goes crazy inside of Wanderer’s head. She feels safe with Jared around, even though she is no longer herself. Jared does not know why Wanderer has come to them, unless Mel has led her there. He moves closer, and he and Wanderer share a kiss which unequivocally infuriates Melanie and causes her to punch Jared. Wanderer starts crying and Jared knows that Mel is still present inside of her body.
Reeling from the punch, Jared knows that it was Mel and not Wanderer. Jared tells Mel that the kiss was meant for her, not for Wanderer, and Wanderer is upset that Jared used her as a test and also that Mel is mad at her for kissing Jared back. Wanderer heads to the kitchen for some food and notices that a lot of people are still missing. She still feels awkward, but Jamie assures her that people want her there, and it is her job to make herself belong now. Later everyone convenes to hear Wanderer teach again. The next day Wanderer talks about the Healers and tells everyone that the souls have found treatments for all ailments, making the only cause of death old age. This seems to strike a chord with everyone and Ian pulls Wanderer away from the crowd. Wanderer realizes she has not seen Walter in a long time, and Ian confirms her suspicions: Walter is not doing well; he is dying of cancer. Wanderer goes to see Walter and is surprised when he calls her “Gladys” and says he has a lot to tell her.
Wanderer is informed that Gladys was Walter’s wife who had been taken by the souls. She is told to go along with it because it will make Walter happy. Wanda stays that night and the next morning Walter recognizes her, though soon he goes back to thinking she is Gladys. Word arrives that the Seeker is outside of the caves nosing around, and Brandt thinks that Wanderer should be tied up so she does not try to contact the Seeker, but Ian and Doc refute his idea. Wanderer has a few terrible days in the caves, listening to Walter’s painful cries and worrying that the Seeker will find come for her. Jared returns one day with morphine for Walter, with the intention of giving him a lethal dose so he will be out of pain forever. Wanderer dislikes this idea because none of her human friends have ever died. Doc sends Wanderer away to get some rest and assures her that Walter will still be there when she returns.
Wanderer returns to Jared’s room to get some clothes which she wants to wash before she gets some sleep. When she is maneuvering through the caves, she hears a voice that she thinks belongs to Ian but soon realizes it is Kyle. Mel tells her to be quiet and find a rock she can defend herself with, but the quiet is no use because Kyle finds her anyway. Kyle struggles with Wanderer and injures her leg with a large rock before holding her underwater. Wanderer manages to wrap her legs around Kyle to take him down but then the ground starts to crumble, and Kyle begins to fall. Wanderer cannot bring herself to let Kyle die so she tries to help him up, but the ground only crumbles more. Wanderer cannot get Kyle up by herself so she screams for help.
Kyle is unconscious and about to fall into the river below when Ian responds to Wanderer’s screams. Ian pulls Kyle to safety and asks Wanderer what happened. Wanderer wonders what will happen to Kyle if she tells the truth and Mel tells her that Kyle will be killed for breaking Jeb’s rules. Wanderer does not want that to happen so she lies to Ian, but Ian sees right through her lies. Ian realizes that Kyle was not only there to hurt Wanda, but he was actually trying to kill her. Ian is ready to kill Kyle himself but instead brings Wanderer to the hospital where no one believes her story and Jared is shocked at her injuries. A crew sets out to retrieve Kyle and Ian wants to find a safe place for Wanda so she will not be alone in the hospital with Kyle. Ian questions whether Jared can be trusted and Jared takes offense. When Kyle is brought back and regains consciousness, Jared stands between him and Wanderer and Kyle is disappointed to find out that “it” did not fall into the underground river.
Jared punches Kyle and Doc is surprised to witness it, thinking that Kyle’s condition is bad enough without being beaten. Jared uses the word “it” to describe Wanderer and her and Mel have had about enough of it. Wanderer states that she is a female and thus should be spoken of as such. She explains, at Wes’ urging, that female souls are much like ants whereas there is one “queen” who produces thousands of offspring. Later, Walter’s cancer takes his life. There is a funeral for him outside of the caves where many people share some words about him, including Wanderer. Before they can retreat back to the caves Ian tells Wanderer that she must be knocked out, so she cannot see where they are going; Wanderer agrees.
When Wanda wakes from her sedation she is in the room that Ian shares with Kyle, though Kyle is obviously not there. Ian tells her that she can sleep in there for now until other arrangements can be made, then he brings her some Cheetos. Wanderer tells Ian how grateful she is for everything he has done. Mel worries that Ian likes Wanderer a bit too much, but Wanderer does not seem to mind, she just shrugs it off. Later they all head to the game room for Kyle’s tribunal, or trial. At the tribunal, Ian speaks in Wanderer’s favor, but Wanderer denies that Kyle had anything to do with her injuries. Some people believe Kyle should be killed, and some think he should be excommunicated, though this proves to be a lousy idea because he could potentially be caught and lead Seekers back to the caves. Some people feel Wanda does not belong there, but Jared stands up for her, much to Mel’s joy. Eventually it is decided that Kyle will not be killed as Wanda was not killed (though Maggie states that it is not murder unless it is a human who is killed). Jeb says that the next person who attacks Wanda will get a burial rather than a trial.
Everyone leaves the trial to play soccer and Mel is disappointed that she cannot participate because of Wanderer’s injuries. As she urges Ian to go play Wanderer trips and is caught by strong arms, which she is sure belong to Ian, though, when she turns, she finds Jared there. Jared sits and talks to Wanderer about how sorry he is, how he has truly believed her longer than he has allowed himself to admit, and about Mel. He asks her about her feelings for Jamie and Ian, though Wanderer skirts the question about Ian only saying that he believes her and protects her which makes him a decent human. Jared speaks to Mel through Wanderer, after learning that the connection between Mel and Wanderer is direct; he tells her how sorry he is. When the group takes a snack break Ian, Jamie, and Jared all bring Wanderer granola bars. Kyle comes over to get some of the extras and tells Wanderer that he is not sorry for attacking her, but he will not do it again because she saved him.
The boys are all particularly skilful at soccer, especially Ian and Kyle. After the game, Jeb tells everyone to go to work, and Jared wants to help Wanderer walk back to her new room. Ian wants to help her as well, and Jared is furious when he finds out that Wanderer’s new room is actually Ian’s room, as Kyle has decided to stay with Wes for a while. Back in the room Wanderer invites Ian to keep sleeping there as well as there are two beds and Mel reprimands her because she does not want Ian to see it as an invitation. Jared and Ian go outside the room to let Wanderer sleep though she listens to their conversation instead. In a tense moment, Jared tells Ian not to touch Mel’s body and Ian tells Jared that it is unfair for Wanderer as she is stuck in someone else’s body and cannot even live her own life despite all the good she does for others. Ian does not think that Wanderer is very physical anyway and is furious to learn that Jared has kissed her. He goes back into his room to see Wanda is awake and has heard the whole conversation.
Ian asks Wanderer how she feels about what she has heard, knowing now that Ian does have feelings for her. Wanderer is confused because she feels that since she is in Mel’s body it is Mel that he has feelings for. Ian explains that it is not the body he is attracted to but the words, thoughts, and actions that come from it. Ian kisses Wanderer, despite Mel’s protests, and asks her if it was good or bad though Wanderer is not sure how to respond. He apologizes to Mel because he can see that Mel and Wanderer are having an internal conversation, but Mel does not accept. Wanderer explains that Mel takes over when she is overwhelmed, such as when she punched Jared, and Ian is offended that his kiss did not overwhelm Wanderer as Jared’s did. Jamie soon comes in and asks Wanderer to move in with him and Jared, at Jared’s request, because it will be like old times. Wanderer again feels as though everyone sees her as Mel, but Jamie assures her that he loves both Mel and Wanderer. Wanda agrees to move in with him and Jared, and Ian is left upset.
It has been about a month of Wanderer sharing a room with Jamie and Jared when the two boys are called out on a raid. Ian tries to distract Wanda by inviting her to play a game of soccer with him, Wes, and Lily. Mel convinces Wanda to agree because she likes to compete. It is obvious that Wes and Lily have become a couple, and when Wanda talks to Lily about it she finds that it is Wes’ reaction to Wanda that attracted Lily to him, even though he is younger than her. Ian and Wanda play one-on-one and Mel is annoyed that he is letting her win. Ian wants to kiss Wanda, but Mel will not allow it to happen. When they go back inside they find the raiders are back and Wanda hugs Jamie who she soon finds to be injured though not seriously. She worries because no one will tell her where everyone else is, though they tell her Jared is fine. Wanderer manages to slip out unnoticed and heads toward the hospital.
Wanderer hears Jeb and Doc talking in the hospital and when she walks in she is horrified by what she sees, letting out a scream. There are bodies on every cot and dead, cut-up souls spilling silver blood are everywhere. Ian comes to Wanderer’s aid and explains to the others what that scene must look like to her; she fears for her species as she has never witnessed a dead soul before. Ian wants to take Wanderer back to her room, but she escapes the hospital and Ian gets into an argument with Jared as she runs off to find a quiet place. Mel tries to console Wanda, but she is silenced. Jared shows up and tries to talk to Wanda, but she does not respond to anything he says so he leaves her alone. Ian sits next to Wanderer and lets her grieve in peace, only wanting to be there for her.
For three days, Wanda sits grieving, and Ian stays by her side, except to get food. Wanda will not eat, and Ian realizes it is because she is trying to starve herself. He apologizes to her for helping to kill her soul family, especially when she was living in the caves, but she does not accept his apology and he leaves. Jeb comes to see Wanda and tries to explain that they are killing souls for the sake of their own survival, but he admits that it was cold for them to continue with Wanda living there and he would figure out a different arrangement. Wanda finally eats and when Ian returns he is happy to see it. Wanda apologizes for blaming Ian and they head to see Jamie because he has been worried about her. While visiting Jamie Wanderer realizes she has not heard anything from Mel since she silenced her and knows what she must do. She pulls Ian aside and asks him to kiss her.
Ian is confused by Wanderer’s request so she asks him again. Ian kisses her quickly but Wanderer tells him that is not enough; he must kiss her like he’s “trying to get slapped”. Ian will not kiss her again until she explains so Wanderer kisses him instead but still no response from Mel. Wanderer explains to Ian that she thinks she lost Mel, and she does not want to kill Mel off because that would make her a monster. Ian disappears and returns with Jared; Wanderer is embarrassed but explains to Jared about Mel and Jared kisses her gently. Mel still makes no sound and Jared yells at her to wake up and come back if she loves him, and then kisses Wanderer more intensely. Mel sleepily comes back, and when she sees what is happening pushes Jared away then bites his lip when he moves in again. Mel is mad but forgets about it when she hears about Jamie’s condition, as his leg is now infected. Jared asks why Wanderer can’t let Mel control her body more and Wanderer says that she doesn’t know how. Wanderer gets a feeling like her heart is breaking.
Wanderer goes to the hospital to see Jamie and is frightened by his condition and the ice packs that are all over his infected leg. She believes that Jamie needs soul medicine though all of the humans think this is a terrible idea because if they go out looking for some they could be caught and changed over. Wanderer insists that she can do it, but everyone is skeptical of her motives; even Jared refuses despite Wanderer’s insistence that she would never do anything that could hurt Jamie. Wanderer stays with Jamie that night, sobbing, but is interrupted by Jared who has changed his mind. He and a blindfolded Wanderer set out in the jeep to find some medicine. Wanda is given a pill she can take to kill herself in case she is captured and they stop to change clothes and cars. Wanda realizes her scars may alert the other souls that she is not normal so she tells Jared he may have to hit her to cover them.
Jared is not comfortable with the idea of hitting Wanderer, but when Mel insists that he do it, he does. Wanda thinks that she should be stabbed in the leg also, to get a better idea of how to treat Jamie’s specific injuries, and she also must be driving the car to ensure her story is believable. At the hospital, the nurse admits Wanderer immediately, and the Healer called Knits Fire explains the entire process and what medicines to use. When Knits Fire leaves the room Wanda raids the cabinets for the medicines she will need and even takes an extra one called “Cool”. When the Healer is gone for what feels like too long Wanda gets nervous; even more so when she hears footsteps coming down the hall.
It is not a Seeker, as Wanda feared, but Knits Fire and the nurse returning. Wanda is deemed perfection once again and is amazed at the improvement when she sees her face in the mirror. She thinks for a moment that being a soul might not be so bad, but Melanie interjects and reminds her about Jamie. Wanderer returns to Jared who is also shocked at how well the treatment worked. Back at the caves Jared does not want to blindfold Wanderer anymore, but she insists that it would be easier for the humans to accept if she was. They return to the cave hospital and perform the treatment on Jamie, hopeful that it will work. Luckily, when Jamie awakens he is fully healed.
Jamie is confused when he wakes because there are a lot of worried yet relieved people all around him. Wanderer finishes the process with the cream called “No Pain” and Jamie excitedly tells her all about the raids. He is excited that she got to go on a raid too, though Ian is not because he does not want Wanderer to sacrifice her safety for the others as she never think of herself. Everyone goes to dinner and after dinner they lounge around together and talk more about the raids which just gets Ian fired up again. He explains to the others that Wanderer is not as selfish as they all are. Ian decides that if Wanda goes on any raids that he wants to go as well, and Kyle wants to go to protect everyone from Wanda; Jared also wants to go because he feels he needs to bring them all back safely.
Wanderer, Ian, Jared, and Kyle begin to go on supply raids together, though the raids are almost too easy with Wanderer because she can just walk into the grocery store without any problems. One night they are staying in a hotel, as it helps for Wanderer to keep herself presentable-looking for her public appearances. Kyle has decided to stay in the car, but Wanderer, Ian, and Jared are in the room watching television shows that all have happy endings; Wanderer says this is because the souls are optimistic. They notice in the park across the street there are two souls with a human child, which Wanderer finds odd and incredible all at the same time. She explains that souls do not meet their children so to find a soul with motherly instincts who has not turned her child in for insertion is optimistic for the future of human-soul relations. As the group heads back to the caves in two separate cars Jared a bit too careless with his driving, because suddenly they hear sirens behind them.
Jared immediately apologizes to Wanderer and Melanie and gives her a suicide pill, automatically assuming they are going to die. Wanderer thinks that she can get them out of the situation and switches seats with Jared. The middle-aged male Seeker who pulled them over believes Wanderer’s claim that she was sleepy and not paying attention to her speed. The Seeker tells her to keep moving because of a recent disappearance and gives her an inhalant which will help keep her awake. She gets nervous when she sees Ian and Kyle drive by but is relieved when the Seeker lets them pass without a problem. On the way back, Wanderer realizes the disappearance may have something to do with the dead souls she saw in the hospital and the thought makes her cry. At the caves, the group unloads their supplies and head inside, only to be greeted with sad news: Wes has been killed by the Seeker.
Wanderer feels guilty for Wes’ death. The Seeker had come four days prior and had shot Wes in the head and also shot Brandt in the shoulder, but he was recovering just fine. Wanderer feels like if she had never come to Earth then none of this would have happened, and Wes would be just fine; also Brandt and Jamie wouldn’t have come close to death. Melanie does not want Wanderer thinking that way and only wonders why the Seeker was kept alive as she and Wanderer both think that the Seeker deserves to die for killing Wes. Wanderer goes to see the Seeker and pretends Melanie has taken over her mind wholly, but the Seeker can see that both of them still coexist. Wanderer realizes she does not want to kill Seeker; she wants to save her; it is time for Wanderer to reveal the secret she has been keeping from everyone, including Melanie.
Melanie is not pleased when Wanderer tells her the secret but Wanderer is convinced that the right thing to do is share it with others, especially when she sees how sad Lily is. Melanie tells Wanderer to think of herself for once rather than always being so willing to sacrifice; she is not worried about her own life but Wanderer’s as she feels Wanderer’s life is more valuable. Wanderer is sad to leave Mel but knows what she must do; she goes to see Doc. Melanie reveals to Doc that she knows how to remove a soul from a host, which is what Doc has been experimenting on for a long time. Doc realizes what she is asking, and he does not want to do it, but Wanderer insists and gives him three conditions: Doc must ship the extracted souls to another planet rather than killing them, he must bury Wanderer next to Wes and Walter, and he must not tell anyone that he has buried her there. Doc does not want to accept, but she knows that he will because it is information he has wanted for so long. Wanderer goes off to find Jared because it is time for another raid.
Wanderer asks Jared to go with her to get some cryotanks, but she does not tell him exactly why she needs them. She knows that there is a nearby hospital where they will not even notice the cryotanks missing. She thinks that she is a traitor because she is leaving the fate of the other souls to the humans, despite the bad blood between them, but she realizes it is a war and she must take her chances. Jared talks to Wanderer about the Seeker, whom they have all been relatively nice to and Wanderer wonders why; Jared tells her that none of them want to feel like a monster again. They get some sleep and allows Wanderer to use his arm as a pillow. In the morning, Jared figures out Wanderer’s plan, and she confirms his suspicions, though she does not tell him she plans to sacrifice herself. She explains to him the process of removing a soul, and he is astounded by her revelation. Jared pulls himself together, and they set out on their mission.
Wanderer takes the tanks to Doc, along with some medical supplies her and Jared have taken. She reveals to Doc that she told Jared the basic plan but not the part about her, though she thinks he suspects something. Mel is still upset that Wanderer wants to sacrifice herself, but Wanderer knows she must continue. The Seeker is brought to the hospital along with Brandt, Aaron, and Jeb and Wanderer begins the procedure. Basically what happens is the neck is cut open, the soul is extracted by hand unusually slowly and placed into a cryotank, and several soul healing methods and medications are employed to repair the host. Everyone is amazed when the host body does not die and praises Wanderer, but she is distracted because she knows she must say her goodbyes to Ian and the others. Suddenly the host begins to stir.
The girl whose body was used as a host is called Lacey and Wanderer thinks that this is too cute a name for the body that the Seeker inhabited; however when she begins to speak they find Lacey is actually a lot like the Seeker and supremely whiney. Lacey drops a bomb on Wanderer: She was present in the Seeker’s mind and that is why the Seeker asked to be assigned to Wanderer. The only difference was that Lacey and the Seeker did not get along at all, and she feels that Mel must have been brainwashed to get along with Wanderer. When Jeb tours the caves with Lacey, everyone wants to see her because she is a bit of a miracle. Kyle has run off to find his girlfriend Jodi because he wants to save her but everyone worries for his safety and that of the caves if he is caught. Ian ponders the possibilities but does not fully understand Wanderer’s plans, and she does not tell him. Wanderer, Ian, and Jared drop the cryotank off to be shipped to another planet and manage to kidnap two healers in the process. When they return to Doc Mel talks him through the process and Ian is the one who removes the soul with astonishment. The other healer wakes to see what is happening and he asks why Wanderer is doing what she is doing, just before his nose begins bleeding and he hits the floor.
After the Healer killed himself, Wanderer sat at the bedside of the female Healer who had survived the extraction, waiting for her to wake. She wonders if Mel will survive when she is extracted and hopes that she is. The woman moves her fingers and is startled when she comes to, as she has no memories, but Doc calms her by assuring that she will remember soon. Wanderer does not want to further upset the woman so she leaves and looks for everyone else though she finds every room empty. She wonders if everyone has left the caves because of Kyle, but Mel says that they would not leave without telling her. Wanderer hears a commotion and a lot of voices nearby and follows them to find everyone gathered around Kyle who is guarding a scared looking girl who must be Jodi. He sees Wanderer and asks to come and help him.
The girl Kyle is protecting is not scared of him but of the angry mob, which Jeb sends away so he can speak to Kyle himself. The girl’s name is Sunny, as this is her soul’s name, and she recognizes Kyle from the dreams that she had when she was first placed inside Jodi’s body. Sunny does not want to leave her body and go to another planet; she just wants to stay with Kyle. Wanderer asks Sunny if Jodi still lives inside her, and Sunny is terribly confused. Wanderer explains to Kyle that the longer a person was human the better chance they have of coming back and Kyle hopes that Jodi’s twenty-one years are enough. Sunny is upset that she has gone when Wanderer is able to stay, but Wanderer assures her that she will be leaving soon, as well. Wanderer had no idea that Ian was listening until she hears him yell and anguished “WHAT?” from behind her.
Ian furiously grabs Wanderer’s arm and pulls her from the hospital, kneeing Kyle in the face on the way out. When they run into Jared, Ian asks if Jared knew the plan and he says nothing so Ian punches him in the face and keeps dragging Wanderer. Wanderer cries out in pain from Ian’s rough handling and when he realizes he scoops her up and carries her to his room. He breaks down and tells her she cannot leave him and begins to cry. Wanderer is overcome with emotion and cries as well, telling Ian that she needs to give Mel her body back. Ian tells Wanderer he loves her, and she reciprocates but tells him that only her mind loves him, her body belongs to Mel and will not be able to love Ian. Ian kisses Wanderer intensely, and Mel gives them time alone. As the kiss deepens Wanderer knows that she and Ian will belong to one another forever, even when she is not in Mel’s body any longer. Ian tells Wanderer to wait for him in the game room because they are going to have a tribunal about whether Wanderer can sacrifice herself and she must abide by the decision made.
At the tribunal, Wanderer argues her side, to give Melanie back, and Jared agrees with her. Ian, however, does not want Wanderer to leave the caves because of the good that she does and because of his feelings for her. After some back and forth and seems to get nowhere, including a suggestion rebuffed by Wanderer that Wanderer be placed in another body, she shoots Doc a looking saying that she is going to go through with it no matter what. Wanderer makes Mel promise to tell everyone she said goodbye and to take care of Ian for her, and Mel agrees. Wanderer goes to see Ian in his room under the pretense that she is hiding out from Jamie, and she tells him she loves him and lies with him until he falls asleep. Wanderer sneaks from the room and heads to the hospital to see Doc. As she is on her way she feels a hand on her shoulder.
It is Jared whom Wanderer finds that she still has feelings for. She wants to be alone because her life is about to end, but Jared does not want to leave her, he wants to at least sit with her for her procedure. Wanderer tells Jared that she wants him to take care of Melanie, Jamie, and Ian; she also tells him that she wants him to want her to stay. Jared kisses Wanderer and Mel allows it though Wanderer pulls away because she knows it is time. She tells Jared she will have Doc tell him when the procedure is done, and she continues on her own. She finds Doc crying and insists that he go through with his promise. Doc tells her that the world will be worse off without her, and she thanks him just before she drifts off.
Wanderer is surprised to not be enveloped in darkness as she suspected but to intermittently wake enough to hear voices; the voices that Wanderer hears surprise her, as they are familiar and one of them belongs to Ian. Wanderer opens her eyes and examines her body, unsure of what she is seeing at first. She is angry with Doc when she realizes she is human and in a new body, but Melanie, who has recovered, interjects to tell Wanderer that humans are selfish, and they did not want to lose her so they made Doc keep her. Ian guarded her cryotank while Jamie went on a raid and found the perfect human for Wanderer to inhabit. Doc reveals that Jodi did not wake so they put Sunny back into her and she is immensely happy. Wanderer is a bit jealous to see Jared holding Mel, as she finds she still has feelings for him. Ian asks Wanderer if she can be happy in this life and she admits that she thinks she will be truly happy.
Wanderer gets back to life in the caves, but it takes her awhile to get used to her new body, which is not as strong as Melanie’s. Wanderer feels a little weird around Ian because she worries he will not like her in a different body, and he has been distant since the first kiss they shared when she first woke in her new body. Jamie sees the awkwardness and decides to push Ian and Wanderer’s mattresses together and announcing his plans to stay in another room. Wanderer learns that Ian was just giving her space to adjust, and he wants her to stay in his room. They share an amazing kiss and Wanderer tells Ian that she is his present, and he wants to be her future, as well. They prepare to go on a raid, and when they are out they run into another cell of humans, which surprises them all. Even more surprising is that they have a soul with them called Burns and Wanderer sees that the world is truly changing; souls and humans are learning to coexist.
Sansa has fled the throne room. Across the city, bells begin to toll, a sign that the king has died. Sansa arrives at the godswood and finds the clothes she had hidden there the night before last; Ser Dontos had advised her to dress warmly and to wear dark clothes. Sansa slips her gown off and begins putting on a wool dress, cloak and flat heels. When she pulls off the delicate silver hair net, she notices that one of the black amethysts is missing from its silver socket. A sudden terror grips her heart as she wonders whether the missing amethyst has something to do with Joffrey’s death; she remembers Ser Dontos telling her that the hair net was magic and that it will help take her home.
Dontos arrives, completely drunk. Sansa accuses him of taking the black amethyst from her hair net to poison Joffrey. Dontos denies it, then tells Sansa that they must be away because the City Watch is looking for her and that her husband Tyrion has already been arrested. Sansa realizes that if they think Tyrion did it, then they must think that, by virtue of being Tyrion’s wife, she had a part to play in the murder as well.
Dontos takes her back to castle, and they descend the stairs until they reach a long gallery. He brings her along that gallery, down another flight of stairs and then finally stops at an oaken door. When Dontos opens the door and Sansa steps outside, she finds herself outside the castle, standing at the top of a cliff, with the Blackwater down below.
Ser Dontos shows her a secret ladder carved into the cliff. Sansa tells him to go first, which Dontos does. Sansa follows him down, forcing herself not to stop or look down. The descent is long and tiring, but eventually they reach the ground.
Dontos leads her to a spot fifty yards downriver, where an old man by the name of Oswell waits for them in a small skiff. They get in and Oswell takes them downstream. When they are finally out in Blackwater Bay, Sansa tries to ask Oswell how much further they had to go, but Oswells warns both her and Dontos to be silent as sound carries over water. Oswell continues rowing the skiff and it is only when the first hint of dawn starts to appear in the sky that they reach a trading galley.
The galley drops a rope and both Sansa and Oswell go up; Ser Dontos remains in the boat. When she reaches the deck, she comes face-to-face with two sailors. She recognizes both of them – Lord Petyr Baelish, and Ser Lothar Brune. She wonders what Lord Petyr is doing in King’s Landing since he is supposed to be in the Vale.
Ser Dontos calls out from the boat, saying that he needs to row back before the City Watch decide to look for him. When Dontos says that he would like the reward of ten thousand gold coins, Petyr Baelish tells Ser Lothar to hand over the reward to Dontos. Lothar Brune does so by dipping his torch; three crossbowmen appear and fire upon Dontos, killing the fool. Lothar then tosses the torch down on Dontos and the little boat starts to burn.
Sansa is horrified that Littlefinger had Dontos killed but Littlefinger tells her not to waste her grief on a man who would sell her for the promise of ten thousand gold coins. He tells her that all Dontos has done for her has been at his behest; the reason he went through Dontos was because he could not be seen to befriend her so openly. Littlefinger also reveals that it was he who sent Sansa the note, the one that told her to come to the godswood if she wanted to go home; he tells her that the godswood was the only place that was safe from Lord Varys’ spies.
He then shows her to her cabin. On the way there, Littlefinger reveals another bit of information: it was he who had hired the two dwarves for Joffrey’s wedding feast. Joffrey hadn’t been keen on the idea until Littlefinger told him that having the dwarves at the wedding feast will annoy Tyrion. Thinking of her husband, Sansa says that Ser Dontos told her that the City Watch has seized Tyrion. Littlefinger only smiles to that and says that widowhood will make Sansa more beautiful.
When they reach the cabin, Sansa realizes that Littlefinger had planned everything in advance and decides to ask Littlefinger why he wanted Joffrey dead since Joffrey did bequeath Harrenhal upon him and even made him Lord Paramount of the Trident.
Littlefinger shrugs, saying that he had no motive for wanting Joffrey dead, that he planned the whole thing merely to keep his foes confused over his next move. He tells her that sometimes the best way to baffle one’s enemies is to make moves that have no purpose.
He then goes on to talk about Sansa’s mother. He tells her that there was once a time when all he had wanted was Catelyn, but her being Lord Hoster Tully’s daughter meant that she was never going to be his wife. Littlefinger then mentions that Catelyn gave him something more precious instead – her maidenhood. He ends by saying that he could not turn his back upon Catelyn’s daughter, and tells her that she is safe with him now, and that they are sailing home.
The chapter opens with Jaime in an inn, listening to the talk of the patrons around him. No one recognizes Jaime so they speak freely. They talk of how Joffrey is dead, but differ on how he died and who killed him.
The next day, Jaime and the men who guard him ride hard towards King’s Landing. They arrive in the late evening. As Jaime enters the city, he finds himself curiously calm; with Joffrey being his son, he had expected to go mad with grief upon learning of Joffrey’s death. He asks himself why he hardly feels anything over his son’s death, then comes to the conclusion that Joffrey had lived and died believing that Robert Baratheon was his father.
Jaime decides to gallop to the back of the party to speak to Brienne. On their journey to King’s Landing, they met a knight by the name of Ser Bertram at Brindlewood who had spoken to them about the Red Wedding. After learning of Robb and Catelyn’s death, Brienne has become listless and miserable. Jaime rides up to her and tells her that she has fulfilled her vow of bringing him safely to King’s Landing. She says that bringing Jaime to the capital was only half of the vows; the other half was that she would bring Catelyn’s daughters back to her, or at least Sansa. But now that Catelyn is dead, Brienne is not sure what to do next. Jaime tells her that he will talk to his father about returning her to Tarth, or if she would rather stay, he might be able to find a place for her at court, perhaps a post with the City Watch. Brienne immediately dismisses the City Watch offer, saying that she will not serve with oathbreakers and murderers.
They continue riding the streets of the capital. Everything is familiar to Jaime, but he begins to realize that no one recognizes him. Steelshanks say that it is because Jaime’s face has changed and he isn’t wearing Lannister arms.
When they reach the Red Keep, they come across three knights of the Kingsguard. Jaime recognizes Ser Meryn Trant, but the other two had not worn white cloaks when he was last in King’s Landing. One is Ser Loras Tyrell, the other is Ser Balon Swann. Ser Balon is the first to notice Jaime’s stump but Jaime just smiles and asks for the whereabouts of his father. Balon says that Lord Tywin is in the solar with Lord Mace Tyrell and Prince Oberyn. When Jaime asks whether Cersei is with his father, Balon says that Cersei is in the sept, praying over King Joffrey’s body.
By then, Loras has spotted Brienne. He immediately confronts her and demands to know why she killed Renly Baratheon. Brienne denies the accusation but Loras presses the attack, saying that there was no one with Renly at the time of his death except for Brienne and Catelyn Stark, and Catelyn Stark was an old woman who couldn’t have cut through Renly’s gorget. Brienne then repeats what she has told Jaime, that there had been a shadow in the tent, a shadow that belonged to Stannis Baratheon, and that it was the shadow that killed Renly. Loras thinks that Brienne is lying and becomes incensed; he draws his sword and demands that Brienne draw hers as well. Jaime steps between them and commands Loras to sheathe his sword. When Loras ignores him, Jaime grabs Loras and repeats the command, saying that he, Jaime, is Lord Commander of the Kingsguard and Loras’ direct superior.
Loras reluctantly sheathes his sword and says that he wants Brienne to be arrested, charging her with the murder of Lord Renly Baratheon. Jaime complies with Loras’ request and orders Ser Balon to escort Brienne to a tower cell and hold her there under guard. He also tells Balon to find quarters for Steelshanks and the rest of the northmen, until such time Tywin can see them. Jaime then heads for the royal sept.
Guarding the sept’s door is yet another knight in white armor who had not been a member of the Kingsguard when Jaime was last in the capital. The knight is Ser Osmund Kettleblack and he treats Jaime rudely until Jaime reveals his identity, whereupon he apologizes and opens the door.
Jaime finds Cersei praying over Joffrey’s bier. Cersei is surprised to see Jaime and is shocked when she sees his stump. She then tells him that Tyrion killed Joffrey and asks Jaime to kill Tyrion. Jaime says that Tyrion is his brother and that he has to first know more about Joffrey’s death. Cersei promises Jaime that he will, telling him that there will be a trial, and that when Jaime has heard all the evidence, he will want Tyrion dead as well.
Cersei kisses Jaime and it leads to the two of them making love right there in the sept. After the deed, Cersei warns Jaime that they have to be more careful because their lord father is in the castle. Jaime says that he is sick of being careful and that if the Targaryens could wed brother to sister, why can’t the Lannisters do the same. He says they can have their own wedding feast and make another son to replace Joffrey.
Cersei scolds Jaime then tells him not to speak as he did. She says that Jaime has changed, somehow. She then says that the two of them will talk again tomorrow because she now has to go question Sansa Stark’s maids; she suggest that Jaime goes to see their father.
Jaime does as Cersei commands, making his way to his father’s solar. Tywin is not surprised to see Jaime, saying that Lord Bolton had sent word that Jaime was heading towards King’s Landing and Lord Varys had earlier informed him of Jaime’s escape from Riverrun. However, when Jaime shows his father his stump, Tywin is shocked and furious. Tywin is quick to lay the blame on Catelyn Stark but Jaime corrects his father, telling Tywin that it was Vargo Hoat and his Bloody Mummers who cut his right hand off. Tywin reports that Vargo Hoat is no longer the Lord of Harrenhal; he has sent Gregor Clegane to take the castle and put all the Bloody Mummers to the sword. When Jaime asks whether Vargo is dead, Tywin reveals that Vargo’s hands and feet have been cut off but Gregor was keeping him alive for a bit because Gregor finds Vargo’s slobbering amusing.
Tywin then asks whether Jaime can wield a sword with his left hand. In reality, Jaime is having difficulty with even the most mundane of tasks, but he tells his father that his left hand works just fine. Tywin is satisfied with Jaime’s answer and is about to present him with a gift but Jaime cuts his father off, turning the conversation to Joffrey’s death instead. He asks how Joffrey died. Tywin replies that the boy died from poison, for he had Joffrey’s throat slit open and the maesters found no obstruction in it.
Jaime then tells his father that Cersei has accused Tyrion of killing Joffrey. Tywin says that Tyrion served Joffrey the poisoned wine with all the guests looking on and that he has since taken Podrick Payne and Sansa’s maids into custody. The City Watch, meanwhile, is searching for Sansa Stark. When Jaime asks Tywin whether he would indeed execute his own son, Tywin says that Tywin has nothing to fear if he is innocent – but first they must consider the evidence for and against Tyrion.
Tywin then starts to steer the conversation towards Jaime leaving the Kingsguard, to take his rightful place as the heir of Casterly Rock. When Jaime counters by saying that Kingsguard serve for life, Tywin says that Cersei replacing Ser Barristan on grounds of age has set a precedent, and that he is sure that a suitable gift to the faith will persuade the High Septon to release Jaime from his vows. Jaime does not waiver, saying that as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, he has a duty to perform.
Tywin interjects, saying that Jaime does indeed have a duty – to House Lannister, as heir to Casterly Rock. He wants Jaime to return to Casterly Rock and assign Tommen as his squire and ward. Tywin also states that he is thinking of wedding Cersei to Oberyn Martell and perhaps offering Jaime himself to wed Margaery, even though the Tyrells are insisting on Tommen being Margaery’s new husband.
Jaime cannot take it anymore and launches into an angry outburst, saying that he doesn’t want anything to do with Tywin’s plans. He states that he is the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard and that is all he wants to be.
Tywin doesn’t speak and the silence stretches on for a long while. Finally, Tywin states that Jaime is not his son, and since Jaime insists on being the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard and only that, then Jaime had best be off and do his duty.
Davos looks on from the castle as Melisandre leads the nightly prayers to R’hllor down in the yard below. Queen Selyse and Ser Axell Florent are among the devotees, as are Princess Shireen and Devan. Stannis is there as well, although Davos notices that the king is not as fervent in his faith as the rest of the devotees.
Davos’ focus on the nightly prayers is broken when Ser Andrew Estermont touches him on the elbow and tells him that it is time for them to begin their plan. Davos estimates that Stannis and Melisandre will be at the prayers for another hour or more.
His companions for the night’s plan are the men whom he has secretly been meeting and befriending, men who still worship the Seven. They are Ser Andrew Estermont, Ser Gerald Gower and the Bastard of Nightsong. He has warned them that Melisandre might have seen the future in her flames, and thus has been forewarned about their plans. They had suggested killing Melisandre, but Davos told them about how Melisandre seems quick to know any threat to her own person, like how she knew Maester Cressen had tried to poison her. Therefore, his suggestion had been to just ignore Melisandre, since it was surely not possible for her to see everything.
The small group of men head for Maester Pylos’ chambers, where they find the master going through some sums with Edric Storm. Pylos breaks off from the lesson and tells Edric to get his cloak and go with Davos. Edric complies and Davos takes the boy with him.
When Edric asks Davos where they are going, Davos says that he is taking Edric to one of Salladhor Saan’s ships; Ser Andrew Estermont says that he will be going with Edric and that there is nothing to be afraid of. Edric asks why Stannis is sending him away from Dragonstone; he says that he has never displeased uncle Stannis. He then insists on seeing Stannis. Davos says that there is no time and that he, Davos, was the King’s Hand, and thus he speaks with the King’s voice; he says that if Edric did not do as told, he would have to tell Stannis that Edric disobeyed an order and that will make Stannis quite angry. Davos then shows Edric the four fingers that Stannis has shortened, saying that he has seen Stannis’ anger first hand. The threat works and Edric then follows Davos without complaint.
They make their way to the postern gate where another two of Davos’ allies are waiting, two bound and trussed up guards at their feet. They tell Davos that the boat is there, and ready to transport Edric to one of Salladhor Saan’s galley, named Mad Prendos. Davos says his goodbyes to Edric, telling Edric that he is Robert Baratheon’s son and that he knows Edric will be brave. Ser Andrew then leads Edric out of the postern gate, and the rest of the men follow them, all except the Bastard of Nightsong and Davos. Davos then tells the Bastard of Nightsong to place the two guards in a cellar and free them when Edric is safely under way.
Davos then makes his way to the Chamber of the Painted Table, where he then patiently waits. He tries looking out of the north window to see whether he can see Mad Prendos raising sail, but night was already upon them and he sees nothing.
Sometime later, Davos hears Melisandre and Stannis approaching; he hears them discussing Joffrey’s death, with Melisandre insisting that Joffrey is indeed dead. When the two of them step into the chamber, Davos announces his presence by greeting them and saying that what Melisandre mentioned is true: Joffrey is indeed dead. Davos says that Joffrey had either choked on a morsel of food or been poisoned during his wedding feast. Stannis asks Davos whether he knows who the poisoner was, and Davos mentions that it has been said to be Tyrion. Stannis questions the source of Davos’ report and Davos replies by saying that Salladhor Saan still trades in King’s Landing and it was the Lyseni pirate who had reported the news to him.
Stannis says that the Iron Throne is now his but Melisandre says that Joffrey has a brother and the Lannisters will crown Joffrey’s younger brother instead. Stannis says that Tommen might be gentler than Joffrey, but like his brother Joffrey, a product of incest between Cersei and Jaime Lannister. Melisandre then tells Stannis that he can save the people of Westeros by giving her Edric Storm.
It is then that Davos announces that Stannis cannot hand over Edric Storm to Melisandre because Edric is no longer in Dragonstone but aboard a Lyseni galley, safely out to sea. Davos catches the flicker in Melisandre’s eyes and he knows then that Melisandre had not predicted his plan to send Edric away.
Stannis’ initial reaction is to lay the blame on Salladhor Saan, but Melisandre tells him that it is Davos who planned the whole thing. Davos says that Edric is out of Melisandre’s reach. When she asks him whether he knows what he’s done, Davos say that yes, he has done his duty.
Stannis mentions that some might label what Davos has done as treason but Davos is firm in his stand, stating that he has done his duty, because part of the Hand’s duties is to protect Stannis’ people. He says that Edric Storm is one of Stannis’ people and thus deserves protection.
Melisandre chastises Davos, saying that he is meddling in matters he does not understand. Davos admits that there is much that he doesn’t understand and that he has never pretended otherwise, but he states that he knows a king protects his people.
Stannis is starting to getting angry and accuses Davos of mocking him, of being an onion smuggler who is trying to teach kingly duty to the king himself.
Davos says that Stannis may have him executed if he, Davos, has offended Stannis. But he pleads to the king to hear him out first. Stannis brandishes Lightbringer and tells Davos to say what he has to say and to do it quickly.
Davos draws out a letter from his cloak and begins to read. The letter is the one that Maester Pylos had shown him previously; it is the letter from the Night’s Watch that pleads to the kings of the realm to send more men to the Wall in order to help the Watch defend the realm against the King beyond the Wall and his vast host of wildlings.
Jon wakes up from a bad dream; in the dream, he had been in Winterfell’s royal crypt and the statues of the long-dead Stark kings were telling him that he didn’t belong there because he is not a Stark. He had also seen a grey direwolf in the crypt, but it was at that point that he wakes from his sleep.
Jon is in the steward’s cell, located beneath what had once been Lord Commander Mormont’s chambers. Jon had thought that being back in his cell would bring him sweeter dreams, but now all he feels is loneliness, for both Ghost and Ygritte are no longer with him. He burned Ygritte himself and wonders where Ghost currently is.
Jon hears two horn blasts, the signal for a wildling sighting. He straps on his armor, arms himself with Longclaw, finds his crutch and descends down the steps.
It is night outside. Jon walks to the Wall and joins the group of men who are waiting for the cage to descend. The battle with the Magnar’s Thenns had destroyed the stairs below the Wall so the only way to ascend to the top is by taking the cage. When the cage finally comes down, Jon and the men squeeze in and wait as the cage slowly ascends to take them to the top of the Wall.
When Jon reaches the top, he sees that all the weapons and supplies are ready. He reflects on the fact that Castle Black is well supplied in everything except men – the garrison has yet to return. Donal Noye approaches Jon and asks Jon whether he hears something in the darkness down below. Jon says that he hears a mammoth. He also sees the glimmer of distant fires. Jon knows then that they are dealing with wildlings; the Others or wights do not light torches.
One of the brothers wonders aloud how they are to fight the wildings if they can’t see them in the darkness. Donal Noye responds by giving the orders for the men to load the trebuchets with barrels of flaming pitch and send them crashing upon the wildlings below. The burning pitch casts a flickering light upon the ground below, giving Jon a glimpse of slow-moving mammoths; he estimates that there might be a dozen mammoths, maybe more. Noye repeats the order again, and one of the barrels strikes a tree, enveloping it in flames. Jon sees that his earlier guess had been wildly incorrect – the wildlings have at least a hundred mammoths.
Pyp cries out to the men that the wildlings are at the gate.
Hearing Pyp’s cry, Jon reflects on their defenses. The Wall is much too big to be stormed by conventional means like ladders, siege towers, battering rams or catapults. Climbing would prove too perilous, especially in the heat of battle.
But there is the matter of the gate. The gate is the only well for the wildlings to pass through the wall. The gate itself is a small and narrow tunnel through the ice. Three iron grates close the inner passage, and each of the grates are locked and chained and protected by a murder hole. The outer door is made from old oak, nine inches thick and studded with iron; the wildlings will need to assault this outer door, but it will be hard for them to breakthrough. But Jon realizes that Mance Rayder’s mammoths and giants might have an easier time breaking the door.
Noye gives the order and the men start throwing a dozen flaming jars of lamp oil at the wildling force. This is quickly followed by a barrel of pitch, which hits the fires below and kills many wildlings.
Noye follows this with an order to the archers to loose their arrows upon the wildings. When one of the archers complains that he can’t see the wildlings due to the darkness, Noye points north and tells the archers to loose the arrows in that direction; even if the arrows don’t hit, they’ll make the wildlings fretful.
Noye then calls for two bowmen and two spearmen to join him in holding the tunnel down below. Ten men volunteer and Noye chooses his four. Noye then assigns command of the entire Wall to Jon. Jon is caught by surprise but accepts Noye’s decision.
Jon and his men launch arrows, crossbow bolts and rocks against the darkness. They gulp down onion broth during short breaks of rest or between arrows. One of the two trebuchets breaks down from the wear and tear of battle. Donal Noye and the four men who went with him do not return. Jon is firing arrow after arrow from his longbow, barely resting through the battle or the pain in his leg.
When dawn finally comes, Jon and his men look down upon the battleground. They see the corpses. But they also see a vast horde of wildlings standing before the Wall. Jon realizes then that the night attack had just been a tiny portion of the entire might of Mance Rayder’s wildling host, that it had been a probe to see whether the men of the Night’s Watch were prepared for battle. He realizes that the real battle is just starting.
Jon sees the entire fury of the wild coming towards the Wall. He sees a hundred or more mammoths with giants on their backs. He spots a group of giants pushing a battering ram forward and realizes that the ram can easily break through the gate with a few swings. Horsemen, archers, footmen and bone chariots make up the rest of Mance’s wildling army.
Seeing the great host before them, the men begin to despair. Jon knows that he has to say something to the men, so he rallies them together with a rousing speech that focuses on the fact that Mance’s wildlings cannot pass as long as the Night’s Watch holds the gate. By the end of the speech, the men’s morale have been lifted and Jon calls for the battle to begin.
Jon orders the archers to target the giants who are carrying the ram, but they are to shoot only upon his command and not before.
The wildlings’ lack of discipline causes their formation to fall apart as they advance towards the Wall. The wildling archers also shoot as they advanced, but their arrows fall woefully short. When the ram and the giants come within range, Jon gives the command and he and his archers let loose their arrows. They fire volley after volley and soon the giants who were carrying the ram are all dead or dying. One of the men shouts that a mammoth is at the gate, to which Jon replies by ordering Grenn and Pyp to throw flaming barrels of oil over the edge of the Wall. They send three barrels over and the resulting smoke and flames drives the wildlings into chaos – the mammoths start fleeing, followed by the giants, the rest of the wildlings and finally, seeing that they were being abandoned, the horsemen and chariots as well. Jon checks for casualties on his side but there are none.
Jon finally starts to feel the agony in his leg. He decides to inspect the gate and gets Pyp to help him to the cage; he passes the command of the Wall to Grenn. When the reach the ground, Pyp goes in search of Maester Aemon to get the spare key to the gate. He returns later, but Maester Aemon has decided to come as well.
They open the inner gate and make their way into the narrow tunnel. They pass through the iron gates inside and continue along the tunnel; they soon see a faint light ahead, which Jon immediately realizes is bad news. They last twenty feet of the tunnel is a scene of carnage; it is the place where Donal Noye and his men made their stand, and died horribly for it. The outer door has been hacked and broken and torn off its hinges, and one of the giants managed to crawl into the tunnel. The giant had managed to wrench the bars apart from the first iron gate and killed all the men, including Noye. However, Noye managed to kill the giant – they find the big man locked in the giant’s arm, his spine crushed, but his sword lodged deep into the giant’s throat. Jon studies the giant and realizes that he is looking at Mag the Mighty, king of the giants.
Jon walks on, to see what lies beyond the splintered door. He sees that the way into the tunnel is partially blocked by a dead mammoth and three dead giants. Jon then walks back to where the others are waiting and says that they will have to repair the outer gate as best as they can and then block up the tunnel, all the way to the second gate. Jon knows that with Noye dead, command of Castle Black will fall back on Ser Wynton, and so he says that Ser Wynton will need to take command immediately.
Maester Aemon says that Ser Wynton has gone senile and that Jon knows that as well as Donal Noye. Jon knows it is true, so he says that Maester Aemon should be the one to give the orders and lead them. Aemon declines, however, saying that his role as a maester is to give counsel, and not commands. He then says that Jon must lead the men. Jon protests but Aemon says that Jon is the most suitable candidate to lead the rest of the men, and that Jon need not command for long, only until the garrison returns to Castle Black.
Now that her parents and brothers are dead, Arya finds that she has an emptiness inside of her that does not go away. She wants to sleep all day and all night, but Sandor Clegane keeps on pushing her on. The only escape from the pain and loneliness are at night, when she dreams. In her dreams, she slips into Nymeria’s body and leads a large pack of wolves.
Sandor and Arya now travel with two horses, Stranger and a palfrey that they found in a field a day after departing from the Twins. Arya named the horse Craven after Sandor said that the palfrey must have run off from the Twins, just like them. Sandor no longer seems interesting in watching over her as he once did; he doesn’t seem to care whether Arya stays or runs away. Arya briefly considers running off, but with Winterfell now gone, she cannot think of any place to go and so decides to stay with Sandor.
She asks Sandor where they were headed but Sandor doesn’t tell her their destination, only that they are heading away from the Twins. During their journey, Arya and Sandor rarely talk; she observes that Sandor seems to be furious, though at what she couldn’t say. From time to time, they see bands of Frey horsemen riding through the countryside; Sandor tells her that the Freys are hunting stray northmen.
One day, they come across a dying man. The man tells them that he is a northman and that he serves Ser Marq Piper, one of Edmure Tully’s bannermen. He then goes on to tell how he had been at the Twins, celebrating Edmure and Roslin’s wedding. He had been drinking and toasting with another man-at-arms, one who served Lord Roose Bolton; the Bolton man had then attacked him during the wedding, inflicting a grievous wound. Sandor offers the man some water and a merciful death; the man accepts both. After the man drinks the water, Sandor slides a dagger into the man’s heart; he then tells Arya that that is how she is supposed to kill a man, by sending a blade through his heart.
They travel on and after a while, find themselves in the Vale, in the foothills of the mountains of the Moon. Arya asks again where Sandor was taking her, and this time Sandor tells her that he is bringing her to her aunt, Lysa Arryn, in the Eyrie; it is his hope that Lysa will pay Arya’s ransom. Thinking of her aunt, Arya realizes that she doesn’t know her aunt any better than her uncle Brynden. She then tells Sandor that the two of them should go back to the Twins to rescue her mother. Sandor says that he has considered the possibility that Lord Walder Frey might have kept her mother alive to ransom her later, but states that he is not going to rescue her mother by himself. He tells her firmly that they are heading for the Vale.
That night, Arya dreams her wolfdreams again. She slips into Nymeria’s body and finds herself at the edge of a river, with her pack of brothers and sisters. There are dead men floating down the river and bodies on the riverbanks, washed up by the river. The wolves are devouring the dead bodies, as well as any crow that dares to come too near. Arya smells a faint but familiar scent: it is the scent of her mother. The scent is getting stronger. Arya pads down into the river and chases after the scent. When she finally finds it, she drags the pale white body up the muddy bank. Her mother lies there, blood trickling from her throat. She picks up the sudden sound of horses and men approaching and decides to run away, leaving the body where it is.
In the morning, Sandor starts talking about Arya’s mother, but she cuts him off, saying that she saw her mother in a dream and that she finally accepts that her mother is dead. Sandor doesn’t say anything but nods and they ride on towards the mountains.
They reach a tiny isolated village, and Sandor decides to go in, saying that they needed food and a roof over their heads and that the villagers were unlikely to know what had happened at the Twins or know who he is. Sandor goes in and finds the villagers building a wooden palisade around their homes; when they see his size, they offer Sandor and Arya food, shelter and coin in exchange for work.
After the villagers tell him of the frost and snow waiting for them in the highpasses, as well as the shadowcats, cavebears and armed mountain-men, Sandor decides to abandon his plans of bringing Arya to the Eyrie.
Sandor and Arya spend several weeks at the village, but when the wooden palisade was finished, the village elder subtly tells them that they had to leave, with the reason that the villagers are uncomfortable with a man who deals in blood and death like Sandor. Sandor is surprised that they know who he is and tells them that they might appreciate having him around when the mountain clans come raiding and pillaging. The village elder hesitates, saying that he’s heard Sandor has lost his belly for fighting after what happened during the Battle of the Blackwater. Sandor gets angry and tells the elder village that he and Arya will leave once they get paid.
Sandor leaves the village with a pouch of copper coins, and a new sword that he had exchanged for the longaxe he taken back at the Twins. They head back towards the Trident. Sandor tells Arya that they will make their way to Riverrun; he is hoping that Ser Brynden will pay Arya’s ransom. Arya says that her uncle doesn’t know her nor will he know what she looks like; she then suggests that they go to the Wall instead. Sandor laughs at that, asking her whether she intends to join the Night’s Watch but Arya says that her half-brother Jon Snow is on the Wall. Sandor laughs and says that to get to the Wall they’d have to go through the Freys, the ironmen and thousands of northmen. Arya asks whether Sandor is scared of them and whether he has lost his belly for fighting. Sandor says that there’s nothing wrong with his belly and he doesn’t care about what she wants or her brother on the Wall.
Tyrion, having been accused by Cersei of killing Joffrey, is kept locked up in a tower room. His uncle, Ser Kevan Lannister, is telling Tyrion that if indeed Tyrion is innocent, then he wouldn’t have any difficulty proving it at trial. When Tyrion asks, Kevan tells him that the three judges will be Tywin, Mace Tyrell and Prince Oberyn. Tyrion then asks whether he would be allowed to demand trial by battle, to choose a champion to prove his innocence. Kevan advices Tyrion not to go down that route because Cersei intends to name Ser Gregor Clegane as her champion in the event of such a trial.
Tyrion then asks Kevan whether his sister has any witnesses against him; Kevan replies that Cersei has more and more witnesses by the day. When Tyrion mentions that he should have witnesses as well, Kevan tells him that Tyrion can write down the names of his witnesses and Ser Addam Marbrand, Commander of the City Watch, will send his men to find the witnesses and bring them to the trial. Tyrion has another request for his uncle: that he send Podrick Payne to him immediately. Kevan agrees to then leaves.
Tyrion tries to think of witnesses who will for him during the trial, but he cannot think of anyone. When Podrick appears, Tyrion tells him to go find Bronn and bring him to Tyrion’s cell at once. Tyrion then pens down Sansa’s name on parchment as one of his witnesses.
The next day, Tyrion hands over the parchment to Kevan. His uncle is surprised that Tyrion only has one witness and tells Tyrion that the trial is to begin in three days and that Ser Addam is still searching for Sansa Stark.
It is only the next morning before Podrick returns with Bronn. Bronn reveals that he is going to marry Lolly Stokeworth, the lackwit daughter of Lady Tanda. Tyrion realizes that the whole thing smells of one of Cersei’s schemes. He tries to convince Bronn to be his champion, promising to reward Bronn lavishly with gold, but Bronn doesn’t jump for the bait, saying he already has gold to spend. Tyrion goes for a different tack, revealing to Bronn that Gregor has been wounded in his recent battles and that he will be slower due to his wounds. Bronn considers the threat that Gregor poses, saying that while Gregor had never been fast, he is faster than a man you’d expect of his size. He also adds that Gregor has a monstrous reach and doesn’t seem to feel blows the way a normal man would. Bronn then states that the best strategy to use against Gregor would be to dance around the big man and avoiding the man’s blows until he grew tired, then get him off his feet somehow. Bronn is brutally honest and admits that it will be a difficult task, and that he will lose either way since even if kills Gregor, Cersei will snatch his marriage to Lady Lollys Stokeworth away. Tyrion gives up on Bronn and wishes Bronn a happy marriage.
Ser Kevan pays him another visit later in the day and again the day after, but both visits are the same: Kevan says that Sansa has not yet been found, nor has Ser Dontos who vanished the same night, and Tyrion says he had no other witnesses that he wishes to summon. The night before the trial, Tyrion finds it difficult to sleep.
The next day, the trial begins. Tywin, Lord Tyrell and Prince Oberyn sit in judgment. Tywin goes straight for the question, asking whether Tyrion killed Joffrey. Tyrion denies that he did. When asked whether Sansa had done the deed, Tyrion denies that his wife had anything to do with Joffrey’s death.
Lord Tywin calls for Cersei’s witnesses and tells Tyrion that Tyrion’s witnesses can speak after Cersei’s.
The first witness to be called to the stand is Ser Balon Swann. Balon says that he fought with Tyrion during the Battle of the Blackwater and that Tyrion is a brave man. He then says that he simply will not believe Tyrion murdered Joffrey. Tyrion is puzzled by Cersei’s choice, as Balon’s testimony points towards Tyrion being innocent. But then Balon speaks reluctantly of how Tyrion had struck Joffrey on the day of the riot. And then Tyrion begins to comprehends his sister’s plan: Cersei intends to begin the trial by calling upon a man known to be honest, but every witness after Balon will tell a worse tale until Tyrion ends up looking thoroughly guilty.
As the witnesses take the stand, Tyrion sees that he is right about his sister’s plan. Ser Meryn Trant mentions how Tyrion had stopped Joffrey’s chastisement of Sansa Stark and threatened to have Ser Boros Blount killed when Boros spoke up in defense of Joffrey. Next is Ser Boros Blount, who repeats the same story. Then comes the Kettleblack brothers, Osney, Ofryd and Osmund. Osney and Osfryd tell of Tyrion’s supper with Cersei before the Battle of the Blackwater, and of the threats he made to Cersei then. Ser Osmund’s tale is an outright lie, saying that Joffrey had warned him on the day he became a member of the Kingsguard that his uncle Tyrion meant to have Joffrey killed and then replace Joffrey as king.
The trial ends for the day.
Later that night, Kevan visits Tyrion in his tower cell. Tyrion asks his uncle to send for Lord Varys.
On the second days of the trial, Maesters Ballabar and Frenken both confirm that they discovered no pigeon pie or other food lodged in Joffrey’s throat; both also believe that Joffrey died from poison. The next witness is Maester Pycelle, who brings with him a number of small jars, which he proceeds to identify; all of them are poisons. He then claims that Tyrion stole the jars of poison from his chambers when Tyrion had him falsely imprisoned. Tyrion calls out to Pycelle, demanding to know whether any of the poison he had shown could choke off a man’s breath. Pycelle admits that none of the jars of poison could do that; he states that only a rarer poison called “the strangler” could do that. Tyrion then points out Pycelle didn’t find “the strangler” but Pycelle counters by saying that the rare poison hadn’t been found because Tyrion already used all of it to kill Joffrey. Tyrion releases a furious outburst but Tywin threatens to gag and chain him if he speaks up again.
The rest of the witnesses turn out to be men and women, both highborn and humble alike, who had been present at the wedding feast. Their testimonies include seeing Tyrion threaten the king, filling the wedding chalice then dropping something into Joffrey’s wine, and picking up the chalice as Joffrey was dying to pour out the last of the poisoned wine onto the floor.
Later that night Ser Kevan once again visits Tyrion. Tyrion says that he has not thought of any witnesses other than Sansa and then asks Kevan why Varys has yet to visit him. Kevan reveals that Varys plans to testify against Tyrion the next day. Tyrion, curious, asks what convinced Kevan that Tyrion was guilty. Kevan says it was because Tyrion had stolen Pycelle’s poisons, and Tyrion wouldn’t have stolen the poisons if he hadn’t intended to use them. Kevan then advices Tyrion to confess his crimes. He tells Tyrion that Tyrion’s father had sent him with an offer – if Tyrion will confess to murdering Joffrey before the throne and repent for his crimes, his father will not have him executed but instead permit him to join the Night’s Watch.
Tyrion laughs, saying that the terms are the same ones that got offered to Eddard Stark, who had then been executed despite confessing his crimes. Kevan says that Eddard’s execution was Joffrey’s decision and that Tywin had no part in it. Tyrion still declines the offer, saying that he is not going to confess. Ser Kevan reminds Tyrion that he has no witnesses. He then says that whatever the outcome of the trial, Tyrion is better with Tywin’s offer: if he is judged guilty, then going to the Wall will be a better fate then execution and if he is judged innocent, the North will be a much safer place for him than King’s Landing since the common folk, already convinced that Tyrion is guilty, would tear him apart if he dared set foot outside the castle.
Kevan then begins talking passionately about his brother Tywin, saying that while Tyrion might think of his father as a hard man, Tywin is no harsher than he has had to be in order to restore House Lannister’s glory, something that Tywin and Kevan’s father had squandered in the many years before Tyrion was born. Kevan speaks of Tywin with such passion that Tyrion is taken aback. Before Kevan leaves, Tyrion tells him that he will think about his father’s offer.
Tyrion spends the night thinking about it, but he come morning, he still doesn’t trust his father’s offer.
The third day of the trial sees Varys taking to the stand to testify against Tyrion. Tyrion realizes Varys’ testimonial contain half-truths rather than outright lies; the eunuch mentions many things that are taken slightly out of context. He tells of how Tyrion had schemed to part Joffrey from Sandor’s protection and spoken to Bronn about how Tommen would make a better king. Varys also confirms that Tyrion visited Grand Master Pycelle’s chambers at midnight and stole Pycelle’s poisons and potions and that he’d made a threat to Cersei the night where both of them supped together. Unlike the previous witnesses, Varys has documents and parchments filled with notes, details, dates and even whole conversations. And he recites all of them, which take the entire day.
After Varys finishes, Lord Tywin asks Cersei whether they have heard from all her witnesses. Cersei tells them that she has one more witness, whom she intends to bring out on the next day.
That night, Tyrion expects another visit from Ser Kevan, but he receives a most unexpected visitor: Prince Oberyn Martell.
Oberyn tells Tyrion that Cersei has hinted at marriage between Cersei and himself if he condemns Tyrion. However, Oberyn says that Cersei is too ambitious and scheming for him to be interested in her proposition. He does say that he is thankful that Cersei accused him of Joffrey’s murder because otherwise he might have been arrested in Tyrion’s place – after all, he is knowledgeable in poisons, he has reasons to keep the Tyrells far from the crown and by Dornish law, with Joffrey dead, the Iron Throne would pass to the next-eldest child in line, who would be Myrcella Baratheon, who is married to Oberyn’s nephew, Trystane Martell.
Tyrion says that Dornish law does not apply in King’s Landing and that Tywin will certainly crown Tommen. Oberyn then says that he may indeed marry Cersei if she supports Myrcella over Tommen. Tyrion says that Tywin will give Cersei no choice in the matter but Oberyn responds by saying that Tyrion’s father might not live forever.
Oberyn then reveals that Mace Tyrell is quite convinced that Tywin is guilty but that he himself was not as convinced. He then coyly mentions that perhaps Joffrey’s killer had been eaten by a bear, subtly insinuating that he does not believe Tywin’s earlier claim that it had been Ser Amory Lorch who had killed Elia and her children. Tywin then decides that he has nothing to lose by telling Oberyn the truth so he says that while Ser Amory Lorch had indeed been killed by a bear, Amory only killed Rhaenys, while Elia and Aegon were killed by Ser Gregor Clegane. However, when Oberyn presses Tyrion on whether it was Tywin who had given Gregor the orders, Tyrion denies it. Oberyn sees through the lie and calls Tyrion out on it, and Tyrion responds by saying that Oberyn should speak to Tywin about the matter. Oberyn says that Tyrion’s innocence cannot save him, nor can Tywin. He reveals that he can save Tyrion – as Tyrion’s champion in a trial of combat.
Jaime is in the Round Room, which forms the first floor of the White Sword Tower, waiting for his Sworn brothers. He has since moved his belongings to the topmost floor, which has traditionally been the Lord Commander’s apartments. He has been spending his days at his brother’s trials, although always standing at the back of the hall. Few seem to recognize him. His father had disowned him and even Cersei seems to be avoiding him.
Jaime goes through the White Book, a massive book that details the history of the Kingsguard; every knight who had ever served had a page, with their names and deeds recorded for all time. It has always been the duty of the Lord Commander to keep the entries up to date; Jaime realizes that it is his duty now.
Ser Barristan Selmy had been the previous Lord Commander; Jaime finds Barristan’s page, and goes through the old knight’s lost list of accomplishments. Jaime’s own page is scant by comparison.
The door to the Round Room opens and Jaime receives his Sworn Brothers. Jaime goes through a formality, asking them the names of the men who are currently guarding the King while the Kingsguard are having a meeting. Ser Osmund says that his brothers, Ser Osney and Ser Osfryd are guarding Tommen. Loras adds that his elder brother, Ser Garlan is guarding the king as well. The meeting then starts.
Including Jaime, six of the seven Kingsguard are in the room; the seventh, Ser Arys Oakheart, is in Dorne, to guard Princess Myrcella. Jaime studies his Sworn Brothers. He has served with Meryn Trant and Boros Blaunt, both adequate fighters but lacking good character. Ser Balon Swann is well-suited to his white cloak, and Ser Loras is supposedly everything a knight should be. But he knows next to nothing about Ser Osmund Kettleblack.
He first chastises the five for failing to keep Joffrey alive. Jaime then asks whether it’s true that Tyrion poisoned Joffrey. Meryn and Boros are convinced that it was Tyrion, since Tyrion had filled Joffrey’s chalice with wine then emptied the dregs on the floor. Ser Balon is uncertain, saying that there were others who had been just as near to the King as Tyrion and it could have easily been one of them who had poisoned Joffrey’s wine. Loras is sure that the poisoner is Sansa Stark, with the reason that Margaery drank from the same chalice as well and that Sansa was the only person in the hall who could have wanted both Joffrey and Margaery dead. Jaime find Loras’ reasoning sound; he considers looking into Sansa’s disappearance personally at a later time.
Jaime then states that Joffrey is now dead but he intends for Tommen to live a long, long life. He proceeds to address each of the Kingsguard in turn.
Seeing that Boros has grown stout over the years, he assigns Boros the role of Tommen’s food taster. Boros is insulted by the assignment and counters by saying that Jaime should be the food taster instead since Jaime is now a cripple. Jaime only smiles and challenges Boros to a duel, but Boros refuses to take up the challenge and leaves in disgust. Jaime is secretly relieved that Boros is too much of a coward, because he knows that, with his right hand gone, Boros would have made short work of him.
Next Jaime addresses Ser Osmund Kettleblack. He says that he does not know anything about Osmund and asks Osmund where he has served before. Osmund is evasive at first but reveals that he has served in the Stepstone, the Disputed Lands and was once part of a mercenary company called the Gallant Men, who fought Lys and Tyrosh. He also reveals that he was knighted by a Ser Robert Stone, who has since died. Jaime suspects that Ser Osmund’s Robert Stone is made-up but proceeds to dismiss Osmund.
He next turns his attention to Ser Meryn. Jaime says that he has heard of Meryn obeying Joffrey’s order to chastise Sansa; he then states that nowhere in the vows of the Kingsguard do they swear to beat women and children. Meryn defends himself by saying that he was just following King Joffrey’s orders. Jaime replies by saying that going forward, Meryn is to temper his obedience with common sense and that there will be times when he will need to consult either Cersei, Tywin or Jaime himself in order to protect Tommen from himself. Jaime then dismisses Meryn.
Jaime then turns towards Ser Balon. He praises Balon’s valor and calls Balon a welcome addition to the Kingsguard. But he also remarks on how Balon’s brother, Ser Donnel, once rode with Renly, then for Stannis, then for Joffrey and now for Tommen. He then asks what Balon would do if one day Donnel switches allegiance. Balon hesitates but then states that, unlike what Jaime did to Aerys, he would do his duty. Jaime likes Balon’s answer and dismisses him.
Then there is only Jaime and Loras Tyrell in the room. They trade words and Jaime realizes that Tyrell is exactly how Jaime used to be when he had just entered the ranks of the Kingsguard – exceptional but arrogant. He decides to focus the conversation on Renly’s death instead, questioning Loras’ insistence that it was Brienne who had murdered Renly. He says that Brienne mentioned that a shadow had killed Renly; he also states that Brienne is not sly or quick-witted enough to come up with such a strange story, and that Brienne appears to be person who takes her oaths seriously. Loras states that Brienne had fled, with Catelyn Stark, and why would she have done such a thing if she had not murdered Renly. But doubt begins to creep into his voice, and he reveals to Jaime that Renly’s gorget had been cut clean through – he admits that no one could have done that with a sword, not even Brienne, despite her strength.
Jaime tells Loras to go and visit Brienne in her cell, to ask her questions and listen to her answers. If Loras is still convinced that she is guilty, then Jaime will make sure she answers for it. He says that the choice is with Loras and that the only thing he asks of Loras is that Loras judges her fairly. Loras vows that he will and leaves.
Jaime sits in the room, and considers getting himself a gold hand to replace his right hand. He decides that the gold hand can wait, however, for he has other things to do first.
The Merling King has stopped at the Fingers, a rocky coastline located north of the Vale so named because it just out into the sea like slim, slender fingers. Arya, still seasick and has been for most of the voyage, finds the Fingers, with its bleak grey sky, many rocks and forlorn little flint tower, a dismal place. She has thought all along that Petyr Baelish is bringing her back to Winterfell, since he did mention that he would be bringing her home. So she is surprised when Petyr tells her that the ship is sailing off to the east, headed for Braavos, without them. Knowing that Sansa might have expected him to bring her back to Winterfell, Petyr says that Winterfell has burned and sacked; instead, they will be staying at the Fingers, inside the unnamed flint tower that is the seat of House Baelish. Petyr, knowing that Sansa finds the Fingers bleak and dreary, tells her not to worry, as they will be staying there for no more than a fortnight – Lysa Arryn is riding to meet them at the Fingers and that he and Lysa are to be wed, whereupon they will then head for the Eyrie.
They take a boat ashore, accompanied by Lothor Brune and old Oswell. Petyr’s servants come out from the tower to meet them and Petyr proceeds to introduce every one of them to Sansa though he is careful not to mention Sansa’s name. Everyone then makes their way to the flint tower.
The tower turns out to be small, with only three floors to it. The servants live in the kitchen located on the ground level. The next floor up holds a small hall while the bedchambers are located on the topmost floor. Sansa studies a shield that is hanging in the hall, the device being a grey stone head on a light green field. Petyr tells her that it is his grandfather’s shield; he then reveals that his grandfather’s father was born in Braavos and came to the Vale as a sellsword to one of Vale lords, and his grandfather had taken the head of the Titan as his sigil when he was knighted.
When Sansa and Petyr are alone, he tells Sansa that she has to assume a new identity because if word of Sansa Stark being seen in the Vale got out, Lord Varys will hear of it and it would cause all kinds of complications. Petyr decides that Sansa will go by the name Alayne, which had been the name of Petyr’s mother, and that she will be his bastard daughter with the reason being that it is considered rude to pry into the origins of a man’s bastard children. Petyr then concocts Alayne’s history, saying that her mother was a gentlewoman of Braavos who died giving birth to Alayne; Alayne was then entrusted to men and women of the Faith, but started searching for Petyr after deciding that she did not wish to be a septa.
The servants then bring them a small meal, and as they eat, Petyr shifts the conversation to the game of thrones, stating that in King’s Landing, there are two sorts of people: the players and the pieces. Sansa then asks whether Ser Dontos was the piece Petyr had used to poison Joffrey. Petyr laughs and tells her that Dontos could never have been trusted with a task of such enormity. Sansa then asks if Petyr has other pieces in the capital. Petyr responds by summoning old Oswell and asks Sansa whether she knows him. There is something familiar about Oswell, but she says that she hasn’t seen him before. Oswell himself then says that Sansa might not have met him before but that she might have met his three sons. Sansa is caught by surprise as she realizes that she has indeed seen the man’s three sons; she realizes she is looking at father of the Kettleblack brothers. After Petyr dismisses old Oswell, Sansa asks Petyr whether it had been one of the Kettleblacks who poisoned Joffrey. Petyr says that the Kettleblacks are far too treacherous to be of any such scheme and that Ser Osmund Kettleblack has become unreliable since the man joined the Kingsguard.
Seeing that Sansa cannot come up with any more guesses, Petyr reveals that the person who did it is the one who straightened Sansa’s hairnet sometime during the feast. Sansa is caught by surprise, as the Queen of Thorns was the one who did exactly that. Petyr then explains that when he had gone to Highgarden with the marriage proposal that Margaery be wed to Joffrey, Lady Olenna begin asking questions about Joffrey’s character. Meanwhile, Petyr had his own men spreading disturbing tales about Joffrey amongst the Tyrells’ servants. Lady Olenna soon came to realize one thing: her son Mace Tyrell wanted to make Margaery a Queen by marrying a king. But Olenna had figured that although Margaery would need to be married to a king, it didn’t have to be Joffrey – it could just as easily be Tommen.
Sansa starts her new life on the Fingers. Lysa Arryn arrives after eight days. When she finally looks at her aunt, Sansa thinks that Lysa looks ten year older than her mother had looked, even though Lysa is two years younger than Catelyn. Lysa is also plump and clumsy. Petyr introduces Sansa, but as Alayne Stone. He mentions that he hopes to Alayne to the Eyrie but then quickly changes the subject, asking Lysa when both she and he can be wed. Lysa says that she has brought her own septon and singer and that they can be wed right then. Petyr isn’t too pleased, saying that he’d rather wed her at the Eyrie, with her whole court in attendance. Lysa, however, insists that they be married right then and there, and Petyr, not wanting to push the issue too much, gives in. They are married within the hour.
After the small feast, they proceed with the bedding ceremony and soon, the whole tower can hear Lady Lysa’s loud screams as she and Petyr make love on the topmost floor. Sansa goes out of the tower for a while, reminiscing about her own wedding with Tyrion. When she returns to the tower, there are no more screams coming from the bedchambers. Sansa tries to sleep but she is harassed by Lysa’s singer, Marillion. The singer tries to force Sansa to have sex with him, but Lothor Brune suddenly appears and drives the singer away.
In the morning, Sansa gets summoned to the bedchambers. Lady Lysa is still abed but Petyr is getting dressed. He tells Sansa that Lysa wants to speak with her and that he has already told Lysa who Sansa really is. Petyr also adds that they will leave for the Eyrie in the afternoon, and then leaves the room, leaving Sansa alone with Lysa.
The first thing that Lysa says is that Sansa looks too much like Catelyn. She says that Sansa will have to darken her hair before they bring her back to the Eyrie; she does not want word of Sansa’s presence reaching King’s Landing. Lysa then mentions Sansa’s unfortunate marriage to Tyrion, which she compares to her own forced marriage to Jon Arryn. She then asks whether Sansa is pregnant with Tyrion’s child, and when Sansa tells her that she is not, Lysa is relieved. She says that Sansa can get married again once Tyrion has been executed for his crimes – and the man she suggest to Sansa is none other than her own son, Robert Arryn. Sansa is not keen on marrying Robert, but she lies anyway and tells her aunt that she’d love to meet Robert. Lysa then mentions that once Tyrion has been executed, Sansa can wed Robert, but the wedding will be a secret wedding, as she doesn’t want others to know that Robert wed a bastard girl like Alayne. Lysa ends by saying that although Sansa comes from House Stark, Winterfell has fallen and now Sansa is no more than a beggar, and that she will have to be a grateful and obedient wife to Robert.
It is morning and Jon is already awake. He has been having difficulty sleeping, and one contributor to that has been the noise from the continual cutting of trees by Mance Rayder’s wildings. Jon and most of the other men have been sleeping in the warming shed on top of the Wall; it took too long a time to ride up and down in the cage. The ones who remained in Castle Black itself were Maester Aemon, Ser Wynton and men who are too old or ill to fight.
Jon steps out onto the Wall and sees that the wildling archers are already coming towards the Wall. The archers have been doing the same thing for days: they advance forward, hiding behind slanted wooden shields big enough to for five of them to hide behind. The wildlings then fire their arrows through slits in the wood. The first time the wildling archers employed this tactic, Jon had sent fire arrows their way, setting the shields on fire. However, Mance has countered this by covering the shields with raw hides, which makes it impossible for the fire arrows to catch. Due to the long range and the angle being bad, the arrows do not pose much risk, with most of them ending up catching on the scarecrows.
Jon and the men now have the use of Maester Aemon’s brass telescope. Jon peers through it to study his foes. He doesn’t see Mance but does spy Mance’s woman, Dalla, who is heavily pregnant and Dalla’s sister, Val. He then studies the contraption the wildlings have been building, the reason behind them cutting down the surrounding trees. It is the turtle, a wooden contraption that consists of a rounded top, a stout wooden frame and eight huge wheels. The wildlings have lashed the raw bloody hide of a mammoth over the top, yet another layer on top of the sheepskins and pelts.
The turtle is nearly done so Jon figures that the wildlings will bring out the turtle later in the day. He asks Grenn whether the barrels are ready; when Grenn says that they are, he sends Grenn off to get some sleep.
Jon then tries to eat some breakfast but he is too worried to eat much. The men have no more oil or barrels of pitch. They will soon run out of arrows as well. And he has received a raven from Ser Denys Mallister, commander of the Shadow Tower. The raven brings bad news: Castle Black’s garrison has chased the roving wildlings all the way to the Shadow Tower and down into the Gorge, where they had then fought a battle with the wildlings. They killed three hundred wildlings, but paid a costly price by losing a hundred of their own. Bowen Marsh was injured and it will be some time before he and the remainder of the garrison return to Castle Black.
Jon is trying to eat his breakfast but is interrupted by his men telling him that the wildlings are approaching the Wall with their turtle. He gets the men to sound the warhorns to wake Grenn and all the other brothers who are sleeping; Jon knows he needs every men on the Wall in order to destroy the turtle before it can breach the outer gate.
Jon first tries flaming arrows, but the wet hides protects the turtle. Next he tries scorpion bolts and rocks, but both do little damage. Jon sees that the turtle is coming closer and closer; he knows that once the turtle is at the gate, the wildlings will start using their axes to crash through the hastily-repaired outer gates, and once they reached inside the tunnel, it would only take a few hours to clear the loose rubble. Jon realizes that the only way they could destroy the turtle is by dropping boulders on it when it reached the Wall.
They have no boulders, but Jon has devised something just as heavy and effective: barrels filled with gravel, with the water poured into them left to freeze solid overnight. They heavy barrels are the closest things to boulders that Jon and his men can get.
Jon gets Grenn and two other black brothers to line four of the big oak barrels above the gate. When the turtle finally reaches the gate, Jon gives the command to drop the barrels. The four barrels completely destroy the turtle and the wildlings who survive retreat back to their camp. Jon realizes that he is extremely tired. He gives command of the Wall to Pyp then takes the cage down and heads for the King’s Tower in order to catch up on some sleep.
When he wakes up, it is already night. There are four men standing over him, all four wearing the black of the Night’s Watch. They pull Jon from the bed and lead him up to Mormont’s solar. Upon entering, Jon sees Maester Aemon, Septon Cellador and Ser Wynton Stout, who is asleep in a chair. There were other black brothers there as well, but he recognized none of them, except for one – Ser Alliser Thorne.
There is big and jowly man sitting in Mormont’s chair whom Ser Alliser speaks to. Ser Alliser calls Jon a turncloak but Jon denies it. The big, jowly man says that Jon has been charged with oathbreaking, cowardice, and desertion and then asks whether Jon denies that he abandoned his black brothers to die on the First of the First Men and later joined Mance Rayder’s host. Maester Aemon steps in and says that he and Donal Noye had discussed the issues with Jon when Jon first returned to Castle Black and that they were well-satisfied with Jon’s explanations. The big, jowly says that he is not satisfied and wants to hear those explanations for himself. Jon swallows his anger and claims that he abandoned no one, that he left the First with Qhorin Halfhand to scout the Skirling Pass, that he then joined the wildling army under Qhorin’s orders.
The big, jowly man is annoyed that Jon does not address Alliser as Ser Alliser and calls Jon out on it. He then reveals that he is Janos Slynt, Lord of Harrenhal, and that he will be the commander at Castle Black until Bowen Marsh returns with the castle’s garrison. Janos then presses Jon further, trying to get Jon to admit that he is an oathbreaker and turncloak. Jon says that he did indeed ride with the wildlings and slept with a wildling woman, but swears that he never turned his cloak, that he escaped the Magnar as soon as he could and never once took up arms against a black brother or the realm.
Janos studies Jon then gets his men to bring a prisoner into the solar. Jon doesn’t recognize the prisoner at first, but he suddenly realizes that the prisoner looks different without his armor – it is Rattleshirt. Janos asks Rattleshirt to repeat what he has told him, and Rattleshirt tells of how Jon had begged for his life and offered to join the wildlings if they would have him, and of how Ghost had been involved in Qhorin’s death.
Janos and Alliser start to launch more accusations unto Jon, dismissing Jon’s furious protests. Maester Aemon comes to Jon’s defense, saying that Jon Snow held the Wall against the full fury of the huge wildling host, and that Jon was chosen to be Lord Mormont’s own steward and squire because Mormont had seen much promise in his, as had Aemon himself.
Janos refuses to change his mind and provokes Jon by saying that Jon’s father, Eddard Stark, died as a traitor. He says that Eddard died by the sword due to his being a highborn noble, but a noose will serve for Jon; he then orders Ser Alliser to take Jon to an ice cell.
Ser Alliser seizes Jon by the arm but Jon, furious at Janos’ lies about his father, grabs Ser Alliser’s neck with such ferocity that he lifts the knight off the floor. The black brothers in the room come to Ser Alliser’s rescue and pulls Jon off. Ser Alliser then loudly accuses Jon, by dint of his actions, to be a wildling.
Dawn breaks and Tyrion is in his cell, deep in thought. He is still unsure of what action to take once Cersei has called her final witness. He has been considering his father’s offer, of going to the Wall if he confesses to poisoning Joffrey. Tyrion finds that it isn’t the thought of being in the Night’s Watch that angers him, but that he has to confess to a crime he did not commit.
When the trial finally begins and the last witness is called to their testimony, Tyrion is shocked to discover that Cersei’s last witness is Shae. His shock soon turns to anger, however, when Shae proceeds to tell outright lies. Her first lie is saying that Tyrion plotted Joffrey’s murder with Sansa, that Sansa wanted revenge for her brother’s death and that Tyrion was going to kill his father, his sister and then Prince Tommen so that he could be king himself. Her second lie is saying that Tyrion forced her to be his whore after her own lover, a squire, died when Tyrion purposely placed him in the front ranks of Tyrion’s vanguard. She then tells how Tyrion had forced her to call him her giant of Lannister.
Everyone in the throne room starts laughing – except for Tywin. Tyrion calls out to the judge and tells them that he will give them his confession once they dismiss the whore out of his sight. Once Shae is gone, Tyrion admits that he is guilty. When Oberyn asks whether Tyrion is admitting to poisoning Joffrey, Tyrion says that he is innocent of that crime; instead, his admission of guilt was for being a dwarf. Tywin is irritated and tells Tyrion that he is not on trial for being a dwarf, but Tyrion disagrees, saying that he has been on trial for being a dwarf his entire life. He then demands trial by battle.
Tywin is angry with Tyrion’s decision but Cersei is overjoyed, saying that Ser Gregor Clegane will stand for Joffrey in the trial by battle. When Prince Oberyn rises to his feet and announces that he will Tyrion’s champion, there is an uproar in the throne room and even Cersei appears to have doubts. Furious, Tywin calls an end to the trial and says that the verdict will be decided the next day.
Later, back in his cell, Tyrion starts drinking and is in a much better mood. He is happy that he has dashed his father’s plans. If Oberyn wins, Mace Tyrell will see the man who had crippled his son helping the dwarf who almost poisoned his daughter escape his punishment, thus throwing more bad blood between Highgarden and the Dornish. If Gregor Clegane triumphs, then Doran Martell would want to know why his brother had been served with death instead of the justice promised him; Dorne might even crown Myrcella.
Tyrion has a good sleep and in the morning, after a hearty breakfast, he attends to his champion. He finds Oberyn already drinking before combat, and seeks to impress upon the Prince how big and fearsome Ser Gregor is. Oberyn is unimpressed, saying that he has killed large men before and that the trick is to get them on their feet in order to kill them. Tyrion is reassured, until he sees that Oberyn will be fighting with a spear. Oberyn says that using the spear helps him counter Gregor’s longer reach. He lets Tyrion look at the spear’s tip. Tyrion notes that the edges are incredibly sharp and glisten with a black substance – he wonders whether it is poison but does not ask. Oberyn says that there are places where Gregor’s armor doesn’t protect, and he intends to find those places.
Oberyn then tells the story of how his mother had brought both him and Elia to Casterly Rock when they had been children. He says that he has already told Tyrion about his visit previously, but states that his mother had a reason for going to Casterly Rock: she wanted to marry Oberyn and Elia to Cersei and Jaime respectively. Years later, on her deathbed, Oberyn’s mother had told Oberyn that Lord Tywin had refused the offer, saying that Cersei was meant for Prince Rhaegar and offered Tyrion instead of Jaime for Elia. Oberyn then says that when Prince Rhaegar married Elia instead, Tywin took it as an insult and repaid the Martells by having Elia and her children killed. Oberyn then says that Elia and her children have been waiting years for justice and that today would be the day that they get it.
The fight takes place in the outer ward and thousands of people have come to witness the event. Ser Gregor is fully armored, wearing plate over chainmail, employs a huge shield and wields his huge greatsword. In contrast, Oberyn is lightly armored and carries a brightly polished shield in addition to his spear. When the fight begins, Oberyn manages to land many hits, but all of them slide off Gregor’s heavy armor. Meanwhile, Gregor’s sword doesn’t come close to catching the faster and more dexterous Oberyn. As they fight, Oberyn continuously mentions that Gregor raped and murdered his sister Elia and killed her children. Gregor is annoyed by Oberyn’s accusations, but remains silent.
At one point in the fight, the sun comes out from behind the clouds, and Oberyn uses this to his advantage by tilting his metal shield, which causes a shaft of sunlight to reflect off the polished surface straight into the narrow slit of Gregor’s helm. Gregor lifts his own shield against the glare, giving Oberyn the opening he is waiting for; Oberyn sends his spearhead into the gap under the arm, and it punches through mail and boiled leather, wounding Gregor. Oberyn then yanks his spear free and circles behind Gregor. Gregor falls to one knee and Oberyn seizes the opportunity, driving his spearhead into the back of the knee, inflicting yet another deep wound. Gregor collapses face first, then rolls onto his back.
Oberyn, seeing his chance to finish Gregor, falls back to get some distance between him and his fallen foe, then runs at Gregor, driving the spear down with the whole weight of his body. The momentum and force breaks the spear in half and the spearhead now pins Gregor to the ground. Gregor is severely injured and cannot pull the shaft out.
Oberyn grabs Gregor’s greatsword and approaches Gregor’s body, demanding that Gregor says Elia’s name. Gregor responds by shooting out his hand and grabbing Oberyn behind the knee, then pulling Oberyn down on top of him. Gregor then manages to wrap on arm around Oberyn, drawing the Prince tight to his own chest. It is then that Gregor calls out Elia’s name, saying that he killed her son, then raped her, and finally killed her. After Gregor says that, he smashes his huge fist into Oberyn’s head, killing the Prince.
Tyrion retches his breakfast. He is condemned by Tywin and the guards of the City Watch escort him to the black cells.
Daenerys stands on top of Meeren’s Great Pyramid, gazing out at both the city below and the sea and hills beyond the city walls. She is proud to have taken Meeren in less than a day.
She sacrificed her three ships, commanding their captains to drive the ships ashore, where her men then turned the masts into battering rams and tore the hulls apart to build mantlets, turtles, catapults and ladders. Protected by the turtles and making full use of the battering rams, her men had successfully broken through the eastern gate. Even though Daenerys had not joined in the attack, as advised by all her captains, but even from the rear, half a league away, she could hear the defenders’ shouts of defiance changing to cries of fear, and she knew then that the small group of men that she had sent to enter Meeren via the sewers had freed the city’s fighting slaves.
When all resistance had been crushed and the sacking had run its course, Daenerys had entered Meeren. She saw bodies everywhere, but the slaves had cheered and called her “Mother”. In the plaza before the Great Pyramid, she came face to face with the Great Masters of Meeren. Meting out justice for the one hundred and sixty three children that they had nailed to wooden posts all along the cost road from Yunkai, she has the same number of Great Masters nailed to wooden posts around the plaza, sparing the rest.
Although she felt the punishment justified at the time she gave the command, Daenerys is now having doubts; she tries to reassure herself by telling herself that the punishment was just and that she did it for the children.
After breakfast and a bath, Daenerys makes her to the audience chamber, which is one level below. Her bloodriders, handmaidens and Missandei are there, along with Grey Worm, Daario and Brown Ben Plumm. She starts out by asking Ben whether the night has been quiet and he says that it has. Daenerys is pleased with the answer; after the city was well and truly hers, she was determined that the sacking stop so she decreed that murderers are to be hanged, looters are to lose and hand and rapists their manhood. Eight had been hanged, and there was a basket containing hands and manhoods, but Meeren is calm once again.
Daenerys then mentions that there seems to be too many flies in the city and orders Grey Worm and the Unsullied to get rid of the corpses, starting with those in the plaza. Missandei tells Daenerys that the Ghiscari inter their honored dead in crypts below their manses and that it would be a kindness if she returned the bones to their kin. Daenerys agrees and says that it will be done.
Daenerys then turns to Daario and asks him how many are seeking audience with her. Daario replies that there are two. He brings in the first one, an envoy from King Cleon of Astapor. Daenerys is surprised, since she left a council to rule Astapor but the envoy tells her that the council were scheming to restore Astapor’s Great Masters to power and the people back to slavery; Great Cleon exposed their plots and killed the council, whereupon the people of Astapor then crowned him king. Missandei recognizes Cleon’s name and tells Daenerys that Cleon was once a slave butcher and that he could slaughter a pig faster than any man in Astapor. Daenerys feels ill that Astapor is now in the hands of a butcher king but tries not to show it; she then asks the envoy what he wants of her. The envoy says that the Great Cleon wants to propose a pact between Astapor and Meeren, against the Yunkai’i. Daenerys says that since Yunkai has released its slaves, she has promised that the city will come to no harm. The envoy scoffs at this, saying that the Yunkai’i are even now plotting against her. He then says that the Great Cleon and Astapor will not forsake her and that Cleon offers to seal their alliance by marrying Daenerys. Daenerys doesn’t give an answer and tells the envoy that she will think about it.
The second person to seek an audience is the captain who brought the envoy to Meeren aboard his trading ship, the Indigo Star. The captain says that he is looking for slaves, and that he will trade the goods on his ship in return. Daenerys mentions that she has no slaves to sell but Daario steps in and says that the riverside is full of Meereneese who are begging to be allowed to sell themselves to the captain. Daenerys is shocked that these Meereneese actually want to be slaves but Daario says that the ones who want to be slaves are well-spoken and learned, and that they will have a more comfortable life as slaves in the Free Cities than they will in Meeren. Daenerys decides that any man or woman who wishes to sell themselves into slavery can do so, but they cannot sell children or their spouse. Missandei then tells Daenerys that in Astapor, the city took a tenth part of the price each time a slave changed hands. Daenerys agrees to do the same, but says that the tenth part be paid to her in gold or silver only; she assigns Daario’s Stormcrows to the task of collecting the money.
The audience with both the envoy and the captain done, Daenerys dreads the next business at hand. All the same, she commands Strong Belwas to bring in her knights. Ser Barristan has shaved his beard and looks ten years younger; Ser Jorah meanwhile looks guilty and older than his years.
Daenerys tells the two knights that part of her had hoped that she’d seen the last of them when they had gone down into the sewers as part of the small group of men she had tasked with sneaking into the city via the sewers to free Meeren’s fighting slaves. She also recounts the times in the past when they had saved her.
She first turns to Ser Barristan, asking him why he betrayed the Targaryens by abandoning Viserys and bent his knee to Robert Baratheon the Usurper instead. She warns him to tell the truth.
Ser Barristan says that Robert was a good knight and spared the lives of many other men as well. In contrast, her brother Viserys was beginning to show the same madness that was in Daenerys’ father, Aerys, also known as the Mad King. Barristan says that he had used a false name with Daenerys, not only so that the Lannisters wouldn’t catch wind of him joining her, but he wanted to see whether Daenerys has the same madness within her before pledging his sword. Daenerys bristles at the mention of madness in the Targaryen bloodline but Barristan tells her that her own grandfather, King Jaehaerys, once told him that Targaryens are fated to be either great or mad. Barristan then says that Daenerys is the trueborn heir of Westeros and that, if she finds him worthy to bear a sword again, he will serve her to the end of his days. After hearing all that Barristan has said, Daenerys agrees; she hands Barristan’s sword back to him and accepts him into her service.
She then turns to Ser Jorah, knowing that Jorah will be harder to deal with. And sure enough, Jorah starts off by being defensive and unapologetic about his actions. He mentions that he used to send reports to Varys but stopped after a while. Daenerys however, is angry when she learns that he only stopped sending the reports after Qarth. Daenerys gets increasingly furious with Ser Jorah’s attitude and after Ser Jorah mentions that Daenerys has to forgive him, she finally makes her decision and declares that she cannot forgive him. Ignoring his pleas, Daenerys banishes him from her camp, saying that he has until dawn to leave Meeren and that she will have him killed if he does not leave by then. Strong Belwas then drags Ser Jorah away.
Daario immediately approaches Daenerys, saying that she has a kind heart but that Ser Jorah is extremely dangerous. He offers to kill Jorah for her, but Daenerys declines, saying that things are even now.
Later that night, Daenerys tries to lose herself in reading, but she finds that she cannot concentrate, so she walks out onto the terrace to admire her dragons. Ser Barristan approaches her, saying that her father’s secrets now belong to her by right, as is the Iron Throne, and asks her whether she might have any questions for him. She blurts out a question that has been in her head: had her father truly been mad. She says that Viserys had once mentioned that the talk of madness in the Targaryen bloodline was one of Robert’s ploys. Barristan says that Aerys always had a little madness in him but could be charming and generous as well. He then mentions that the madness got worse as the years passes, whereupon Daenerys stops him, saying that she doesn’t want to hear about her father’s madness at the moment, that perhaps it could wait another day. She kisses him on the cheek then dismisses him.
In the morning, she summons her captains and commanders. She tells them that she has been more a horselord than a queen, smashing and plundering the cities in Slaver’s Bay, giving them death and ruin before moving on. She then says that she cannot rule the seven kingdoms of Westeros if she cannot even rule a single city. Turning to her captains and commanders, she tells them that she will stay in Meeren for some time, and rule the city as a queen.
Jaime is in the council chamber, watching as Ser Kevan hands over document after document for Tommen to sign. Jaime is bored and his body is sore, courtesy of the beating that Ser Addam Marbrand has given him in their training session. Jaime had wanted to see whether he could fight with his left hand and chose Adam because he had known Adam since Addam had been a boy, serving as a page at Casterly Rock. Addam gave him a severe beating and Jamie is dismayed at how poorly he performed with his left hand. He starts to doubt whether Addam might have been the best choice, given the risk of Addam boasting about his thumping Jaime should he get drunk during his drinking sessions. Jaime thinks that he should have gone to Ser Illyn Payne instead, since the headsman had no tongue and thus would not be able to tell anyone about it.
Jaime goes up to Kevan and says that his uncle appears to have matters well in hand and with that, he will leave Tommen to Kevan. Kevan agrees but tries to convince Jaime to visit his father, but Jaime says that the breach between his father and him is Tywin’s doing and that Tywin can’t mend it by sending him a mocking gift. Ser Kevan protests, saying that Tywin’s gift was heartfelt, but Jaime doesn’t want to hear anymore and leaves. He walks out from the council chamber and passes responsibility of guarding Tommen to Ser Meryn Trant.
Walking to the outer ward, Jaime catches sight of Walton Steelshanks and his band of northmen saddling their horses. Jaime greets them and Walton says that Lord Bolton is expecting them and that they leave as soon as the lady is mounted. The lady turns out to be a skinny hollow-eyed girl with long brown hair with a pretty face but sad and wary eyes. The girl greets him and Jaime is surprised to learn that she knows him. He is even more surprised when she introduces herself as Arya Stark; Jaime thinks to himself that the girl his father is sending to Bolton looks slightly older than the real Arya Stark. The girl says that she is to marry Ramsay Snow, Lord Roose Bolton’s bastard, whom Roose Bolton has now legitimized; Jaime wishes her well. Once Arya is mounted, the northmen ride out of the castle gate.
Jaime notices that the horses are still avoiding the dark splotch on the ground where the stableboy’s blood had seeped into the earth. He reflects on the fact that Gregor is paying for his cruelty now. It had been Grand Maester Pycelle who had mentioned to the king’s council that the poison coursing through Gregor’s body was extremely virulent, killing even the leeches Pycelle had administered. Pycelle had wanted to detain the rest of the Dornishmen to learn of the substance Oberyn had coated on his spearhead but Tywin forbade it, saying that he doesn’t want relations with Dorne to get any worse. Tywin had then commanded Pycelle to heal Gregor, so that they can deliver the King’s justice upon Gregor, and send his head to Dorne, rather than letting it be known that a poisoned spear killed Gregor. Tywin had even mentioned that Lord Varys’ spies have reported that Stannis and his men have left Dragonstone, and that Stannis might be in Dorne right now, trying to win the Martells over to his cause. That is why Tywin had stressed that they must not doing anything to offense the Martells.
Jaime returns to White Sword Tower, only to find that Cersei is waiting for him in his apartments. Cersei starts telling Jaime about how Tywin is going to send her back to Casterly Rock and how he wants to wed Margaery to Tommen. Jaime is unmoved, and states that Tommen marrying Margaery is a good idea as Tommen has been lonely ever since Myrcella left for Dorne. Cersei pleads with Jaime, asking him to talk to their father, for the sake of Tommen, who is Jaime’s son. Jaime protests, saying that Cersei is the one who told him to take no undue interests in their children. Cersei says that she told Jaime that so that Robert wouldn’t get suspicious but Jaime replies by saying that he should have killed Robert, that he has never been ashamed of loving his sister, just the things that he has done to hide it, liking throwing Bran Stark down the tower window at Winterfell.
Jaime suddenly remembers something that is troubling him about the whole incident at Winterfell; he says that while he had been a prisoner in Riverrun, Catelyn Stark had seemed convinced that Jaime had sent a footpad to slit Bran’s throat, that Jaime had given the footpad a dagger in order to carrying out his job. Cersei scoffs at the subject , and mentions that Tyrion has been asking about that as well. Jaime says that he has seen the scars on Catelyn Stark’s hands and starts asking whether Cersei had indeed done it, but Cersei ridicules the notion, saying that she had only hoped that the boy would die from his fall off the tower and saying that even Robert Baratheon had mentioned how merciful it would be if the Starks just killed Bran instead. Cersei then compares the notion of her sending the assassin to the equally foolish notion of Myrcella being the one who hired the assassin. As soon as Cersei says that, Jaime sees the truth: that it was Joffrey who had done it, all in order to earn some measure of respect from the man he thought of as his father – Robert Baratheon. Jaime reasons out that Tyrion had learned about Joffrey’s involvement in Bran Stark’s assassination, and since he had been accused of the deed by Catelyn Stark and nearly been executed by Lysa Arryn for it, Tyrion had wanted to exact revenge upon Joffrey,
Cersei says that she doesn’t care why Tyrion had wanted Joffrey dead. She then pleads with Jaime once again to convince their father not to part her and Tommen and not to let their father marry her off. She states that Jaime is the only one that she wants in her bed and she says she wants to prove it to him and proceeds to undress him. Jaime feels the lust rising up in him, but steadfastly refuses her advances, saying that he doesn’t want to have sex with her in the White Tower. Spurned, Cersei becomes furious, and says that she regrets coming to see Jaime due to his indifference towards avenging Joffrey. Jaime says that he doesn’t believe that Tyrion killed Joffrey and asks her to leave.
Once Cersei has left, Jaime goes downstairs and orders Ser Boros Blount to fetch Ser Loras and Brienne. When they finally arrive a few hours later, Jaime asks what Ser Loras thinks about Renly’s death now that he has spoken to Brienne. Loras admits that Brienne could be right, that Stannis had something to do with Renly’s death. Jaime then tells Loras that he will speak more of this with him later then dismisses the Knight of Flowers.
When Jaime is alone with Brienne, he tells her that Steelshanks is heading back north, to deliver Arya Stark to Roose Bolton. But he tells her that the Arya Stark that rides with Steelshanks is actually some northern girl dressed up as Arya. He says that he is telling Brienne so that she doesn’t go rushing off to rescue the girl since even Brienne can’t fight two hundred men by herself. Brienne is surprised and says that Lord Bolton will be furious when he discovers that Lord Tywin has sent him a fake Arya Stark. Jaime tells her that Lord Bolton actually knows that Tywin’s Arya Stark is a fake, but no one else would know because everyone the girl had been close with is dead, and even her sister Sansa has disappeared.
Jaime then mentions that Cersei is convinced that Sansa had helped Tyrion murder Joffrey but Brienne says that she does not believe that a gentle girl like Sansa could be a poisoner and insists that it must have been Tyrion. Jaime insists that Tyrion would never have joined him in the art of kingslaying and that Tyrion was keeping silent in order to protect Sansa. Brienne refuses to believe that Sansa is guilty.
Sighing at the impasse, Jaime ends the conversation regarding Tyrion and Sansa and tells Brienne that he has a gift for her. The gift he presents to her is none other than the beautiful Valyrian steel sword that Tywin had made for him. Jaime says that he would be pleased if Brienne could name the sword Oathkeeper. He tells Brienne that he wants her to find Sansa first and to get Sansa to somewhere safe, so that both he and Brienne can make good on their vows to the late Lady Catelyn. He also tells her that his father had Eddard Stark’s greatsword Ice melted down and reforged, and there was enough Valyrian steel from Ice to create two new swords and that Oathkeeper is one of those two swords; so Brienne would be using Eddard Stark’s own sword to defend Eddard’s daughter.
Jaime then asks Brienne to leave, telling her a horse has already been prepared for her. Brienne thanks him for his gift, and vows to keep Sansa self once she finds her, for Lady Catelyn’s sake, and also Jaime’s. She then leaves.
Jaime , sitting alone, opens the White Book and begins writing on his page. He writes of his defeat to Robb Stark, of the time he spent as a captive at Riverrun, of how he had been captured by the Brave Companions and his right hand cut off, and finally of how he had been returned safely to King’s Landing by Brienne. After he is done writing, more than three quarters of his page still remains empty. He gazes at the page, and realizes that going forward, he could write whatever he chooses.
Jon is in a heavy cage, being lowered down the northern side of the Wall.
Janos Slynt, believing Jon to be a turncloak, had consigned Jon to one of the ice cells in the Wall. Jon had truly believed that he would die inside the cell, but after four days, he was pulled out and sent to stand before Janos Slynt once again. Janos revealed that Master Aemon had sent a letter to Cotter Pyke in Eastwatch, protesting Jon’s wrongful imprisonment and because of that Janos could no longer hang Jon. However, both he and Ser Alliser have cooked up another way to be rid of Jon. Mance Rayder has requested a parley with the Night’s Watch, at his own wildling camp, and Janos and Alliser have decided to send Jon. Jon knows that Janos and Alliser are sending Jon in the hopes that Mance and his wildlings will kill Jon when they see him. He tells them that it is a lousy idea to send him as an envoy to Mance because he betrayed Mance. But Ser Alliser says that they are sending Jon not to talk with Mance, but to kill him.
When Jon reaches the ground, he starts walking towards the wildling camp and soon a horseman comes riding out to meet him. Jon recognizes the wildling – it is Tormund Giantsbane. Tormund is surprised to see Jon but treats Jon like a friend despite being on different sides of the battle; they walk back towards the wildling camp. Tormund gives grudging respect to how Jon and his men had defended the Wall and how Mag the Mighty had gone into the gate but never came out. Jon tells him that Mag was slain by Donal Noye. Tormund is amused that Mag the Mighty was slain by a one-armed blacksmith and he and Jon drink to Mag and Donal Noye’s memory. Jon also tells Tormund about Ygritte’s death and they take another drink of mead.
They are soon at the wildling camp and make their way to Mance Rayder’s tent. Mace stands outside his tent, along with Harma Dogshead and Varamyr Sixskins. None of them are pleased to see Jon. Varamyr says that he has taken control of the eagle that once belonged to Orell, another skinchanger that Jon had ambushed and killed at Skirling Pass. Mance continues the conversation by saying that through the eyes of Varamyr’s eagle, they have seen how few brothers of the Night’s Watch are actually defending the Wall, how many black brothers came from Eastwatch, how their supplies had dwindled and how even the stair is now gone and they have to resort to getting on top of the Wall with the cage. Mance then invites Jon inside his tent, telling Harma, Varamyr and Tormund to wait outside.
When Jon enters the tent, he sees Dalla, pregnant with Mance’s child, and her sister, Val. He also sees something that shocks him: a huge warhorn. Mance knows that Jon recognizes the warhorn and confirms that the warhorn is indeed the Horn of Winter, that Joramun once blew to wake giants from the earth. Jon then says that Ygritte had previously mentioned that Mance and the wildlings never found the horn. Mance admits that he never trusted Jon to tell him the truth. Jon then asks Mance why he hasn’t yet used the horn; if indeed the horn is the Horn of Winter, then why did Mance bother with all the battles?
Mance then reveals that he could have sent his man all along the Wall, and taken Eastwatch and the Shadow Tower, or just have his men go to the abandoned castles and use the mammoths to dig out the sealed gates. But he hasn’t done any of that because the Night’s Watch will bleed his host even if he does win the battle and that the wildlings have bled enough. Jon is puzzled and says that Mance’s losses haven’t been that heavy. Mance then reveals that he has lost many men, but not to the Night’s Watch – he has lost men to the Others and their wights, and none of his wildling troops can stand against them. Mance bitterly admits that unlike previous Kings beyond the Wall, he has come to hide behind the Wall. Dalla continues, pointing out that if they did indeed blow the Horn of Winter and the Wall comes crashing down, then they would have no protection against the Others.
Mance then gives his offer to Jon: Jon is to go back to the Wall and tell the men of the Night’s Watch to open their gates and let Mance and his wildling host pass through, and in return, Mance will hand over the Horn of Winter, ensure that the Wall will continue standing until the end of time.
Jon’s next question is blunt: he asks whether Mance can make the wildlings keep the king’s peace and obey the laws should the Night’s Watch allow them to pass. Mance scoffs at Jon’s question, saying that his offer is for the wildlings to pass through the Wall in exchange for the Horn, not to kneel to the Night’s Watch or follow the laws of Winterfell or King’s Landing. Jon’s next question is even more blunt: he asks Mance what would happen if the Night’s Watch did not let them pass. Mance says that if the Night’s Watch turns down their offer, he will have Tormund Giantsbane blow the Horn of Winter three days from then.
Their conversation is interrupted by the sound of warhorns. Mance and Jon leave the tent; outside, the wildling camp is stirring. Varamyr’s eagle is flying high overhead, and he reports that his eagle sees movement coming from the east. Jon asks whether it is the Others but Mance says that the Others never come out while the sun is still up. Mance calls for his horse and armor and sends Harma and Tormund off to prepare for battle.
Varamyr then imparts new information that his eagle has gleaned: that the movement in the east were from men on horses, men who wear steel and men who are dressed in black.
A thin line of rangers emerge from the fringes of the wood three hundred yards away; they are dressed in the black of the Night’s Watch. Mance draws his sword and accuses Jon of knowing about the attack; Jon firmly denies knowing anything about the attack. Mance observes Harma and her raiders smashing into the rangers and he comes to the conclusion that perhaps Jon is telling the truth; he states that the rangers don’t seem to ride well, that they appear to come from Eastwatch. Mance is about to say that Cotter Pyke, the commander of Eastwatch is a fool to attack them because Eastwatch doesn’t have enough men, when suddenly a shout comes from the battle, saying that more men are coming from the forest, a whole host of men in steel armor. Cursing, Mance swings up on his horse, ordering Varamyr to take care of Dalla and to kill Jon if Jon decides to run. He then leads his men into battle.
Varamyr says he sees many golden banners and is about to continue when suddenly he throws back his head and screams. Jon sees the reason for the skinchanger’s screaming: up in the eastern sky, Varamyr’s eagle is burning, wreathed in flames.
Hearing the scream, Val comes out of the tent. She immediately asks for Mance; Jon tells her that Mance has joined the battle. Val then says that Mance can’t be gone now because Dalla’s delivery has just started. Jon tells Val to get back inside the tent and that he will stay there until Mance returns.
More and more men are pouring out of the trees, and Jon observes that there are not only knights, but freeriders, mounted bowmen and men-at-arms. He sees bands of wildlings attempting to stand and fight; the wildlings have the numbers, but the attackers wear steel armor and ride on heavy horses. He sees a wedge of knights smash into Mance’s band, killing Mance’s horse.
Within seconds, the wildlings break and start to flee. Jon has lost sight of Mance but sees someone waving Harma’s head on a pole and that Tormund’s line has broken. The tents in the wildling camp have caught fire. Through the smoke comes another wedge of armored riders on barded horses; they carry large banners. One of the banners is yellow, with long pointed tongues that show a flaming heart, while the other shows a black stag against a field of beaten gold.
Jon recognizes the banners with the black stag against gold -it is the sigil for House Baratheon. Jon’s first thought is that the late King Robert has somehow sent his men to the Wall, but when the trumpets blow again and the armored knights charged forward, they cry out Stannis’ name.
Arya and Sandor stop at an inn. Sandor tells Arya that he is going in for a drink and to learn who holds the ruby ford. Arya briefly thinks about staying with the horses and riding off with them but she changes her mind and enters the inn with Sandor.
In the inn, Arya is shocked to see two of Gregor Clegane’s men: Polliver and The Tickler. There is a boy with them, and from his young age and dress, Arya guesses that he is a squire. Polliver and the Tickler recognize Sandor immediately; Polliver asks whether Sandor is looking for his brother Gregor. The squire boy then starts mocking Sandor, saying that Gregor had mentioned Sandor fleeing King’s Landing when the Battle of the Blackwater got too hot. The boy finally shuts up only after the Tickler twists his ear.
Polliver shares some news with Sandor. He says that Gregor is no longer at Harrenhal, that he has been summoned to King’s Landing by Queen Cersei. He also tells Sandor that Joffrey is dead, with the killer thought to be Tyrion and his wife, Sansa Stark, although he also says that Sansa has fled King’s Landing, leaving Tyrion to take the blame. Arya is surprised to hear about her sister, but doesn’t believe that Sansa married Tyrion. Sandor asks whether Gregor did take Harrenhal and Polliver says that it had been an easy battle as one of the cooks opened a postern gate for them; Polliver also adds that Gregor is keeping Vargo Hoat alive for entertainment.
Sandor continues drinking deeply and changes the conversation to Sansa, saying that it is good that Sansa fled the capital after stirring up trouble for Tyrion. Sandor, knowing that Arya is listening to the entire conversation and that only he and Arya herself knew who she was, jokes that Sansa was a proper lady, not like her little sister. Polliver says that the Lannisters will find Sansa and that they’ve already found Arya, whom is to be wed to Lord Roose Bolton’s bastard. Sandor laughs aloud, knowing that Arya is right there in the inn with him. Polliver asks Sandor as to why he is laughing but Sandor ignores the question and asks one of his own instead: he asks Polliver whether there are any ship at Saltpans. Polliver says that he doesn’t know, as he has heard nothing about Saltpans.
The Tickler then leans forward and asks whether Sandor is indeed leaving without first bidding farewell to Gregor. And then he inserts a subtle warning by mentioning that Gregor would rather Sandor return to Harrenhal or King’s Landing instead. Sandor refuses.
The Tickler shrugs then launches a sneak attack by flinging a knife at Sandor. Sandor gets to his feet in time and the knife ends up buried in the wall. Polliver has drawn his sword and so has Sandor and the two of them begin to fight. Polliver is a good fighter and inflicts several wounds on Sandor as they trade cuts; Arya, seeing that Sandor’s cuts are less precise, realizes that the Hound is drunk. She also sees the Tickler sliding around the room to get behind Sandor. Once the Tickler is in position, he joins the fray and both he and Polliver start ruthlessly attacking Sandor.
Arya is about to help Sandor by throwing the heavy stone flagon on the table, but the young squire grabs a hold of her arm. Arya reacts by reaching for the squire’s knife tied around his belt and sheathing the blade into the boy’s belly. The boy is not wearing armor, so the knife goes right in. Arya then wrenches the Tickler’s knife from the wall.
Sandor has been driven into a corner of the room, behind a bench. He is breathing heavily and bleeding from his wounds. Polliver demands that Sandor throw down his sword and surrender so that they can bring him back to Harrenhal. Sandor tells them to come and get him if they want him. When Polliver attempts to close the distance, Sandor kicks the bench into Polliver’s shins. Polliver just keeps his feet but Sandor dodges his clumsy blow and kills Polliver with a vicious backhand cut.
The Tickler starts backing away in fear, but Arya backstabs him from behind with his own knife. She stabs the Tickler repeatedly until Sandor has to drag her off the man’s dead body. Sandor tells Arya to finish off the boy. Arya goes to Polliver’s body and grabbed the sheathed blade she had seen earlier; it is Needle, the sword given to her by her father, and which Polliver had taken from her when she had first been captured by Gregor’s men. Arya takes Needle and slips it into the boy’s heart, killing him.
Sandor, now exhausted and in pain from his wounds, says that since Polliver and Tickler were drinking at the inn, it must mean that Gregor holds the ruby ford as well. Knowing that, Sandor decides that they will head for the Saltpans instead of Riverrun. At the Saltpans, he says they can take hire a ship to take them to the Vale. He then tells Arya to grab some wine and whatever coins the dead men carried.
They then ride off but angled away from the kingsroad in order to avoid running into the men holding the ruby ford. When they make camp for the night, Sandor gets Arya to help him dress his wounds, using the wine they had taken from inn. Arya disinfects the wounds by pouring the wine over them; Sandor faints when she pours the wine on the raw red flesh where Polliver had cut off most of his ear. She then dresses up his wounds and goes to sleep.
In the morning, they continue their journey; Arya notices that Sandor is still weak and clumsy. Sandor stops riding long before noon, saying that he needs to rest. He falls off his horses and crawls weakly under a tree. Arya brings him some water and sniffs at his bandages; the wound on his thigh smells funny to her.
Arya then decides to draw Needle. She is relieved that Polliver has polished it and kept it sharp. Sandor sees her wielding Needle and asks her to kill him and tries to further provoke her into doing so. Arya says that he doesn’t deserve the gift of mercy and rides off with Craven.
Six days later, Arya arrives at Saltpans. Most of the town has been burned but the port is still there. Arya spots three boats in port; two are small riverboats, but the third boat is a bigger sea-trading galley. Looking at the sea-trading boat, Arya realizes that she needs silver in order to buy her passage; Sandor hadn’t given her any of the coins they had taken from Polliver, the Tickler and the squire boy. So she decides to sell Craven. She manages to find a trader willing to buy Craven, but the woman thinks that Arya has stolen the horse so she gives Arya a purse of silver for far less than what Craven is worth.
Arya then walks back to the port and speaks to the trading galley’s captain. She tells him that she wants to buy passage to the Wall, Eastwatch specifically. The captain counts her silver but Arya can see from the expression on his face that it is not enough. She offers to work for her passage but the captain tells her that he has recently seen a dozen pirate ships heading north and is not risking a trip to the Wall; he says they will be sailing for home.
Arya is at a loss where to go next, but decides to ask the captain the name of the ship. The captain tells her that his ship is called Titan’s Daughter, and that it comes from Braavos. Hearing the origins of the ship, Arya realizes that she has something that she can use to buy her passage. She digs out a coin from her smallclothes, the small iron coin that Jaqen H’ghar has given to her. The captain is surprised to see the coin, but when Arya says “valar morghulis”, the captain responds by saying “valar dohaeris” and tells her that she can have a cabin onboard the galley.
Sam, Jon and Val are looking as Gilly feed Mance’s baby with her own milk. The boy does not have a name yet, and neither does Gilly’s son, as the wildlings only name their children in their third year of life.
Sam is glad to see Jon smiling and reflects on his and Gilly’s journey since they left the Nightfort. From the Nightfort, they had walked to the other abandoned castles, first Deep Lake then Queensgate. A day and a half from Castle Black, they ran into Ser Denys Mallister and his men from the Shadow Tower, along with a wounded Bowen Marsh and Dolorous Edd. It was from them that he had learned about Stannis’ attack. Stannis landed his knights at Eastwatch, and the commander of Eastwatch, Cotter Pyke, led him and his knights through the ranger’s roads to catch the wildling unawares.
When the group finally reached Castle Black, Sam had been devastated to see the damage the battle with the wildings had inflicted on the castle and the surrounding buildings. Sam was however surprised to see so many men in the castle, the large majority of them Stannis’ soldiers. He knew all of the sigils the men wore, save one: a fiery heart. He soon learned that the soldiers who wore that were Queen’s men, except that the Queen in question wasn’t Stannis’ wife, but his sorceress, Melisandre of Asshai. He learned that Stannis had left his wife, daughter and fleet at Eastwatch, but he brought Melisandre of Asshai to Castle Black. He also learned that Stannis has a magic sword called Lightbringer.
Jon had greeted him warmly, proud that Sam has come back and that he managed to bring Gilly with him. But Sam soon learned that even though he captured the Horn of Winter, Ser Alliser Thorne still considers Jon a turncloak. Sam sees that Jon is still grieving for his wildling woman and for his Stark brothers.
Back in the present, Val tells Jon and Sam that she’s heard from the queen’s men that Melisandre intends to burn Mance as soon as he gets well. Jon says that Mance is Stannis’ captive now, and no one know what Stannis will do to Mance except for Melisandre. Val then says that she wants to see Mance, to show Mance his son, and she wants to do this before Melisandre kills Mance. Sam says that no one is permitted to see Mance except for Maester Aemon and Jon says that the best he can promise her is to ask about the possibility of her seeing Mance.
Jon and Sam then leave. As they walk, Jon turns to Sam and says that Sam appears to be in love with Gilly. Sam blushes and admits that he is. Jon replies by saying that Sam cannot keep Gilly as Sam has sworn his vows as a man of the Night’s Watch. Sam says that he is thinking of sending Gilly to his father’s castle, Horn Hill, and having her tell his family that her baby is Sam’s bastard child; he is sure that his mother will find some kind of service in the castle that Gilly can carry out while his father might be pleased to hear that Sam is actually man enough to father a bastard on some wildling girl. Jon says that Sam’s plan could work, but Gilly would have to be able to be consistent with her story and her answers to any questions Sam’s father might ask her.
Sam then asks whether Jon is going to practice yard to train. Jon says that there is nothing for him to do since Bowen Marsh removed him from duty for fear that he is still a turncloak. Sam tries to assure Jon that only Ser Alliser and his friends think Jon a turncloak and that everyone knows just what sort of man Ser Alliser is. Jon says that at least everyone knows that Ser Alliser is a trueborn knight, from a noble line, whereas he, Jon, is the bastard that killed Qhorin Halfhand and who happens to be a warg. Jon is amused, saying that he can’t be a warg since he doesn’t have a wolf now. He then admits that he no longer dreams of Ghost, that his dreams are full of Winterfell’s crypts, where he sometimes hears the voice of his dead father and half-brothers.
Hearing Jon say that, Sam keeps his silence, even though it tears at his heart to do so. He wants to tell Jon that Bran is still alive, that Bran is with his friends and that they are heading north on giant elk to find a three-eyed crow in the depths of the haunted forest. He wants to tell Jon – but he has already given his word to Bran, Jojen and Coldhands, that he not tell anyone about having seen Bran.
Sam tries to comfort Jon by saying that Lord Janos will never be chosen as the Lord Commander. Jon calls Sam a sweet fool and say that’s exactly what’s been happening for days; he then leaves for the practice yard. Sam reflects on the fact that no one had been interested to take up the post of Castle Black’s master-at-arms, so Jon had taken it on himself to train some of the new recruits. And sometimes he would just train alone, for hours on end.
Sam then starts thinking about the choosing of the Lord Commander. To become the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, a man needs two-thirds of his Sworn Brothers’ votes. However, after nine days of voting, no one has come close to that. Of the night before, only seven candidates remained. Ser Denys Mallister remains in the lead, with Cotter Pyke at a close second and Janos Slynt a distant third. However, Ser Denys and Cotter Pykes’ votes have been falling since the third day while the votes for Janos Slynt seems to be climbing a little higher each day.
Sam goes to the rookery to feed the ravens. He is happy when he hears them repeating the word he has been teaching them – “snow”. Sam reflects on the fact that of all the ravens Maester Aemon had sent out to the kings of Westeros, only Stannis had taken his duty as a king to heart.
During supper time, Sam tries to look for Jon but cannot find Jon anywhere; there is to be a another voting after supper. When supper is done, Maester Aemon asks if any of the men would like to speak before they all cast their votes. Bowen Marsh steps up and says that he is withdrawing his name from the choosing, saying that being Lord Commander is too challenging for him, then encourages the rest of the men to throw their support for the more experienced Lord Janos Slynt.
The time of voting comes, and the men of the Night’s Watch cast their votes by going behind a heavy drape, and throwing tokens into a big iron kettle; each candidate is represented by a different token, so if a man wants to vote for a particular candidate, he takes the token associated with that candidate and throws it into the kettle.
When the hall is finally empty, Maester Aemon, Sam and Clydas, another steward, start counting the tokens. The final result is that Ser Denys still leads the pack but has fallen to two hundred and three votes, while Cotter Pyke has fallen as well to one hundred and sixty nine. But Janos Slynt seems to have absorbed Bowen Marsh’s votes into his own, and now is just behind Cotter Pyke with one hundred and thirty seven votes. Maester Aemon says that no one is close to two-thirds needed to win.
Later that night, Pyp, Green and Sam are drinking together. Sam says that Cotter Pyke and Ser Denys might have lost ground, but between the two of them they almost have two-thirds of the votes; he goes on to say that someone should convince one of them to withdraw and support the other. Grenn says that it will be difficult as Cotter Pyke and Ser Denys do not like each other. Pyp then points out that he and Green are ill-suited for the task, then states that Sam is the best person to convince Ser Denys and Cotter Pyke since his father is a lord, he is Maester Aemon’s steward and he has killed an Other. Sam says that he could do it, if only he wasn’t so afraid to face both men.
Jon is training with Satin in the practice yard, but Satin suddenly takes a step backward, and when Jon looks around, he sees Melisandre. She tells him that Stannis wishes to speak with him and that they will wait for him atop the Wall. Jon goes to change into a fresh set of clothes and finds Melisandre waiting for him at the base of the Wall. They ride the cage to the top of the Wall, during which Jon notices that Melisandre is only dressed in her red robes. He asks her whether she feels no cold, and she laughs, saying that R’hllor’s fire burns within her; she touches his cheek and he feels how warm she is.
They find Stannis standing alone on top of the Wall. Stannis turns to study Jon and says he has heard a lot about him. Jon says he know what Stannis has heard: how Jon had slain Qhorin Halfhand so that the wildlings would spare his life, how he rode with Mance Rayder and even took a wildling wife. Stannis says that he has heard all that and even talk that Jon is a skinchanger who walks as a wolf at night; he then smiles as ask whether any of it true. Jon says that he did have a direwolf once, but left Ghost when he climbed the Wall near Greyguard and hasn’t seen the direwolf since. Jon also reveals that it was Qhorin Halfhand who had ordered Jon to join the wildlings, and Qhorin had known that the wildlings would have made Jon kill him. Jon then admits that he indeed broke his vows of chastity with Ygritte, but swears in his father’s name that he never betrayed his sworn brothers.
Stannis says that he believes Jon.
Jon is taken aback, as the answer wasn’t what he expected; he asks why Stannis believes him. Stannis states that he knows what sort of man Janos Slynt is, and that he knew Jon’s father, Eddard Stark, a man whose honor or honesty was beyond doubt.
He then says that he also knows that it had been Jon who found the dragonglass dagger than Samwell Tarly used to slay the Other; Jon says that it was Ghost who found the cache of dragonglass weapons.
Stannis then says that he knows Jon held the gate at Castle Black, otherwise he and his men would have arrived too late. Jon demurs, saying that it was Donal Noye who held the gate and killed the king of the giants. Stannis grimaces and reveals that Donal Noye made his sword for him and opines that Noye would have made a better Lord Commander than any of the current candidates. Jon objects, saying that Cotter Pyke and Ser Denys Mallister are good men who are capable of taking up the position.
Stannis steers the conversation back to Jon, saying that he has not forgotten that it was Jon who brought them the magic horn and captured Mance Rayder’s wife and son. Jon says that Dalla died during the birthing, and that Val and newborn baby did not require much capturing. He then mentions that the wildlings had been too busy fleeing to attack him and the skinchanger Varamyr who had been guarding him had gone mad after his eagle burned; he turns to Melisandre and says that he has heard the burning eagle had been her doing. Melisandre smiles and gives a cryptic reply, saying that R’hllor has fiery talons.
Jon turns back to Stannis and tells him of Val’s request to bring Mance his son before Mance is killed. Stannis calls Mance a deserter of the Night’s Watch and asks why he should do Mance a kindness. Jon has no answer, but says that if Stannis cannot do it for Mance, at least do it for Val, and Dalla’s memory.
Stannis then asks Jon whether there the wildlings have any honor in them. Jon says that the wildlings can be honorable, but in their own way. Stannis asks Jon about some of the wildlings, to find out whether Jon thinks them honorable. Jon says that Mance and Tormund are honorable, in their own way, but he does not think the same about Rattleshirt.
Stannis nods and reveals what he truly intends to tell Jon: that the war with the Others and the one plaguing the realm might be Jon’s war as well, and that he needs Jon’s help. Jon is wary about Stannis’ intention, and says that he has pledged his sword to the Night’s Watch. Stannis says that he needs more from Jon than a sword – he tells Jon that he needs a loyal Lord of Winterfell, one who can unite the north and win over the northmen to his own banner.
Jon realizes that Stannis is offering to make him the Lord of Winterfell. He states that he is a bastard, not a Stark trueborn. Melisandre tells Jon that a king has the power to legitimize a bastard. Jon is hesitant, saying that while that may be true, he has already sworn himself to the Night’s Watch, before a heart tree, and that means he can hold no lands and father no children. Melisandre replies by saying that R’hllor is the only one true god and that swearing vows before a heart tree has no more power than swearing vows to Jon’s own shoes. She tells him to take R’hllor as his god, burn the weirwood trees and accept Winterfell as a gift from R’hllor.
Stannis then tells Jon that he intends to let the wildlings pass through the Wall, as long as they swore fealty to him, pledge to keep the king’s peace and the king’s laws and take R’hllor as their god. He says he intends to settle them on the Gift after he has wrested it from the hands of the new Lord Commander. Stannis then adds that they need to form an alliance with the wildlings in order to face their common foe, the Others. He then reveals that he intends to seal the alliance with the wildlings by marrying the new Lord of Winterfell to Val, the wildling princess.
Jon laughs, saying that Val will not simply be given away as Stannis proposes. Stannis replies by saying that marrying Val will be the price that Jon has to pay if Jon wants the Stark name and Winterfell. He then asks whether Jon is refusing his offer to make him the new Lord of Winterfell.
Jon is still too confused to make a decision, so he tells Stannis that he needs some time to consider the offer. Stannis warns him to think quickly, because he is not a patient man. He also warns Jon not to tell anyone about the offer he has made Jon. He ends by saying that all Jon needs to do is return to him, bend the knee and pledge service to him, and Jon will then be able to rise as Jon Stark, the Lord of Winterfell.
Tyrion is in his black cell, waiting for his death sentence to be carried out. He hears noises through the door of his cell and wonders whether he will simply be executed in his cell. Keys rattle and the door to his cell is pushed open, to reveal a man with a torch in his hand – it is his brother, Jaime.
Jaime shows Tyrion the stump where his right hand had been and Tyrion starts laughing, the hilarity ensuing from the fact that both he and his brother are now disfigured in some way – while Jaime has lost his hand, Tyrion has lost most of his nose.
Tyrion then asks whether Jaime is there to kill him. Jaime says he is there to rescue Tyrion. When Tyrion asks whether it is day or night up in the city, Jaime says that it is three hours past midnight.
As they walk along the corridor, Tyrion nearly stumbles on the guard lying on the stone floor. He turns to Jaime and asks whether the man is dead. Jaime says that all of the guards he had to get through to get at Tyrion’s cells are asleep, courtesy of Lord Varys dosing the guards’ wine with a sleeping drug. He then says that Varys is waiting for Tyrion at the back of the stairs, dressed up in a septon’s robe; Tyrion will then go down into the sewers and from there, to the river, where a galley waits in the bay. Jaime tells Tyrion that Varys has agents in the Free Cities who will see to Tyrion’s funds, but also mentions that Cersei will certainly send men to kill Tyrion.
Jaime then bends down and kisses Tyrion on the cheek. Tyrion thanks Jaime for rescuing him to which Jaime replies that he did so because he owed Tyrion a debt. Tyrion is curious about the debt and tells Jaime to elaborate. Jaime is hesitant to do so but finally caves in when Tyrion insists. Jaime reveals that Tyrion’s first wife, Tysha, was not a whore as he had told Tyrion, that he never bought her. Jaime says that it was actually their father who had forced him to say that Tysha had been a whore; in reality, she was a crofter’s daughter that Jaime happened to meet on the road. Jaime confesses that he did what he had been told to do by their father, that Tywin had claimed that Tyrion needed a sharp lesson, and that Tyrion would thank Jaime for it later. Tyrion is furious at learning the truth, pointing out to Jaime that their father gave Tysha to the Lannister guards, who had then raped her while Tyrion watched. Jaime says that he never knew Tywin would do that.
Tyrion slaps Jaime in anger, but Jaime only feels remorse for having kept the truth from Tyrion for so long. Tyrion then says that he is no longer going to follow Jaime; he asks for the keys and says that he will find Varys on his own. Jaime hands over the keys; he then says that he has already told Tyrion the truth, and that now Tyrion owes him the same. He then asks the question: had Tyrion killed Joffrey.
Tyrion says that Joffrey would have been a worse king than Aerys and mentions that Joffrey even stole Robert’s dagger and gave it to the assassin to kill Bran Stark. Jaime says he had suspected that Joffrey had been the one who hired the assassin. He reminds Tyrion that his question has yet to be answered. Exasperated, Tyrion says that Cersei has been sleeping with Lancel and Osmund Kettleblack and that he had indeed killed Joffrey, Jaime’s son.
Jaime turns without a word and walks away. Tyrion immediately feels like calling out to his brother, to tell Jaime that what he had said wasn’t true, but then he remembers what Jaime said about Tysha and continues walking on.
Tyrion finds Varys waiting for him near a flight of stairs. Varys leads him down the stairs, to the fourth level of the dungeons, then through an arched doorway into a small round chamber with five other doors. Tyrion notices that there are rungs on one side of the wall that leads upwards, through an opening in the ceiling. Tyrion realizes that they are below the Tower of the Hand; Varys confirms that he is right. Tyrion looks up the ladder and tells Varys that he has business to settle. He asks Varys for directions to his previous bedchamber, which now belonged to his father. Varys reluctantly tells him and tries to get Tyrion to change his mind, but Tyrion insists that he is going up and tells Varys to wait for him.
During his climb up the shaft, he hears two of his father’s guards chatting about his execution; Tyrion realizes that Varys uses the shaft to spy on others. He follows Varys instructions and soon finds himself coming out from the hearth of what had once been his bedchambers when he had been Hand. He hears a female voice calling out, and it one that he recognizes; he pulls the draperies and finds Shae on the bed. She is naked, with his father’s golden chain of linked hands, the Hand’s chain, about her throat. Shae is fearful of Tyrion and tells him that Tywin would be back soon. Tyrion proceeds to strangle her with his father’s golden chain. After she is dead, he grabs a crossbow from the wall.
Tyrion then walks to the privy tower, where, as he had expected, he finds his father. Tywin is surprised to see that Tyrion has escaped but is unconcerned with the fact that Tyrion is holding a loaded crossbow. He then tells Tyrion that the escape from his black cell is foolish; he says that Tyrion will not be executed, that Tyrion will be sent to the Wall instead as per his original offer. Tyrion then says that he has only one question to ask Tywin, after which he will be on his way. His question: what did Tywin do with Tysha. Tywin doesn’t seem to recognize the name so Tyrion reminds his father that Tysha had been his first wife. Tywin then recalls who Tysha is, saying that she was Tyrion’s first whore. Tyrion warns Tywin that if he says the word “whore” again, Tyrion will shoot him with the crossbow. He asks his father whether he had Tysha killed but Tywin says that there was no reason for that – he says that the steward probably sent the girl on her way. When Tyrion asks for the whereabouts of the place the steward had send Tysha, Tywin claims he does not know and says that the girl probably went wherever whores go. Tyrion keeps to his word and shoots Tywin with the crossbow. Tywin is shocked that Tyrion actually shot him. Tywin quickly dies and at the moment of his death, his bowels loosen, filling the privy with a stink that proves that Tywin Lannister did not shit gold.
Stannis has summoned all the candidates still in the running for the Lord Commander’s seat. Melisandre is by Stannis’ side while the non-candidates from the Night’s Watch side are Maester Aemon and Sam, and Bowen Marsh, who sits as Lord Steward of the Night’s Watch after withdrawing his name from the choosing.
Janos Slynt attempts to curry favor by fawning all over Stannis, but Stannis rebuffs Janos’ effort. Stannis then tells the men gathered in the room that he is displeased over how long it is taking for the Night’s Watch to elect their new Lord Commander. Janos tries to win over Stannis again by saying that perhaps the Night’s Watch could use some guidance from King Stannis in regards to who to elect for their new Lord Commander. The other men are outraged by Janos’ words and Maester Aemon says that the Night’s Watch has always chosen their own leaders, ever since the Wall was built. Stannis says that he doesn’t wish to tamper with the brothers’ rights and traditions. He also berates Janos’ attempt to gain favor with him, saying that Janos might be the first commander of the City Watch to sell promotions to his men. Janos is furious, claiming that all the stories about him are lies. Maester Aemon then states that the past crimes and transgressions of any men who join the Night’s Watch are wiped clean when he swears his vows. Stannis says that he is well aware of that, that it doesn’t matter which man becomes Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, as long as they make the choice soon, because they all have a war to fight.
When Ser Denys Mallister asks whether Stannis is referring to the war with the wildlings, Stannis says he is not; he is referring to the war with the Others and the wights. Ser Denys says that although they are thankful that he came to their aid against Mance Rayder and his wildling host, the Night’s Watch can take no part in helping Stannis gain the Iron Throne. Stannis states that he wouldn’t ask the Night’s Watch to help him claim his throne; he expects them to continue defending the Wall.
Stannis then states that he requires certain things from the Night’s Watch in exchange for his alliance with them – he wants to claim the Gift and all the abandoned castles on the Wall. He tells them that he intends to have all of the abandoned castles garrisoned again within the year, with nightfires burning before their gates. Melisandre then speaks up, saying that the war Stannis has come to fight is not a war for land or honors but for life itself, and that if they fail, the world will die with them. The men do not know what to make of Melisandre’s words, but Maester Aemon speaks up, seemingly aware what Melisandre speaks of: he asks her where is the prince that is promised. Melisandre declares that the prince in the prophecy is none other than Stannis. Sam notices that Melisandre’s words seem to make Stannis uncomfortable. Stannis then dismisses all of them except for Sam and Maester Aemon.
When only Stannis, Melisandre, Aemon and Sam remain, Stannis states that he knows that Sam is the one who killed an Other, and that Sam had done so with an obsidian dagger. Sam confirms that he had slain the Other using the obsidian dagger given to him by Jon. Stannis then mentions that large amounts of obsidian can be found in the old tunnels beneath the mountains of Dragonstone; he says that he has sent word to his castellan at Dragonstone to begin mining as much of the obsidian as he can before the Lannisters seize Dragonstone. Sam reveals that the obsidian dagger shattered when he used it to stab a wight. Melisandre smiles and says that steel and fire are enough to destroy the wights.
When Stannis says that he has heard about Sam and Gilly passing beneath the Wall through a magic gate, Sam reveals that the gate in question was the Black Gate and that it lay below the Nightfort. Stannis reveals that he will be taking the Nightfort as his seat while he fights the war against the Others, and that he will get Sam to show him the way to the Black Gate when the time comes.
Maester Aemon smiles and asks whether he could see Stannis’ magical sword. Stannis is surprised that Aemon wishes to see the sword since the maester is blind, but he agrees to the request and unsheathes Lightbringer. Maester Aemon asks Sam to describe the sword and Sam does so, stating that the sword glows as if it were on fire but there are no flames, yet somehow the steel is yellow and red and orange and flashes and glimmers like sunshine. Aemon thanks Stannis for showing him the sword whereupon Stannis sheathes it and dismisses them, with the warning that they must choose a Lord Commander by that night, otherwise he would make them wish they had.
As Sam is helping to walk Aemon back to the maester’s chambers, Aemon says that he felt no heat from the sword and when he asks Sam whether Stannis’ wood and leather scabbard had been burned and scorched, Sam admits that it had not.
When they each Aemon’s chambers, Sam asks whether there is any way that Aemon can stop Janos from being elected as the Lord Commander. Aemon says that he is a maester, that his duty is to counsel the Lord Commander and that it would not be proper for him to be seen to favor one candidate over another. Hearing this, Sam realizes that even though Maester Aemon couldn’t be seen to show preference for one candidate over another, Sam himself was no maester, so unlike Aemon, he could do something to stop Janos.
Sam first goes to Cotter Pyke. He tells Pyke that he had just come from Maester Aemon’s chambers so that it would seem that Aemon himself was sending a message to Pyke.
He then begins pleading with Pyke to withdraw his name so that the votes to Pyke can go to Ser Denys Mallister and thus give Mallister the two-thirds majority needed to be elected the Lord Commander. Pyke cuts him off, flat-out refusing to stand aside in order to support Mallister. Pyke says that Mallister might be a lordling and a knight, but he is too old and not a fighter, which is what Pyke says the Wall needs at the moment, what with Stannis Baratheon on top of the Night’s Watch. Pyke says he doesn’t want to be Lord Commander and never did, but he refuses to hand over the Night’s Watch to Mallister. Pyke also says that the other candidates are not suitable for the task as well. Defeated, Sam leaves.
He next goes to Ser Denys Mallister, who treats him more kindly than Pyke. The old knight mentions that Sam must have surely come from Maester Aemon’s chambers then asks whether Aemon has any counsel to offer him. Sam plays the same strategy as he had with Pyke, saying that it would not be proper for a maester to be seen influencing the choice of Lord Commander to which Ser Denys smiles and says that that it is the reason why Aemon has not visited him but sends Sam instead. He then tells Sam to say what he has come to say.
After listening to Sam’s plea, however, Ser Denys shakes his head and says that he cannot stand aside to support Cotter Pyke; he says that Pyke should be the one who withdraws instead, since he has less votes. Sam then says what Cotter Pyke had mentioned earlier, that Pyke has proven himself in battle many times. Ser Denys agrees that it is true, but other men of the Night’s Watch have proven themselves in battle as well. He says that a Lord Commander is a lord first and foremost and must be able to treat with other lords, and with kings as well – and that Cotter Pyke is not that sort of man.
Sam is ready this time, and asks whether Ser Denys might support someone else if that someone is more suitable for the task.
Ser Denys says that he has never desired the honor of being Lord Commander for its own sake, that he has always stepped aside gratefully in the past when others were more capable and worthy. He opines however, that the other candidates in the choosing are not equal to the task of being Lord Commander.
Sam then throws out his idea then and there, saying that there is another man who might be well-suited to the task, a man whom Lord Commander trusted, as did Donal Noye and Qhorin Halfhand. A man who might not be as highly born as Ser Denys himself, but who comes from old blood. A man who was castle-bon and castle-raised, learned sword and lance from a knight and letters from a master of the Citadel. A man whose father was a lord and whose brother was a king.
Ser Denys realizes that Sam is talking about Jon Snow and says that Jon might make a good candidate for Lord Commander despite his young age. He does say however, that he himself would be the wiser choice.
Sam then tells a lie, justifying doing so because it is for the right reason. He tells Ser Denys that earlier in the morning, after all of them had left, Stannis had mentioned to Maester Aemon that if a Lord Commander is not chosen later that night, he will name Cotter Pyke as Lord Commander.
Ser Denys says that he has to think about this and thanks Sam, telling him to give his thanks to Maester Aemon as well.
Sam then returns to Cotter Pyke and employs the same strategy. He starts off by first saying that Pyke does not want to withdraw for Ser Denys Mallister, but there is someone else that he might considering withdrawing for. He then says that the person in question is a fighter, that Donal Noye gave this man the Wall when the wildlings came and that he had been Mormont’s squire, and that he is a bastard. Cotter Pyke knows Sam is talking about Jon Snow and he laughs, saying that Jon might not be a bad choice and that it was worth it just to see Ser Denys Mallister getting flustered that a bastard had risen to Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. Cotter Pyke says the himself would be better choice though.
Sam lies again, revealing that earlier in the morning, after all of them had left, Stannis had mentioned to Maester Aemon that if a Lord Commander is not chosen later that night, he will name Ser Denys Mallister as Lord Commander.
Jon is training with Iron Emmett, a young ranger who is one of Eastwatch’s best swordsman. Having not had much sleep the night before, Jon is getting a beating from Iron Emmett. When Emmet lands a staggering blow against Jon’s helm, Jon’s memory flashes back to when he and Robb had been young boys in Winterfell; every morning they had trained together, shouting out the names of famous knights that they wanted to be. He remembers one particular morning, where he had called out proclaiming himself the Lord of Winterfell, as he had a hundred times before, but Robb had replied by saying that that he cannot be the Lord of Winterfell because he is bastard born and because Catelyn Stark had said so. The memory drives Jon to anger and he proceeds to give Iron Emmett a thrashing.
Frustrated, Jon leaves the practice yard, and heads to the bathhouse where he loses himself in his thoughts. He is still undecided over whether to accept Stannis’ offer. While bathing, he overhears the conversation between Ser Alliser Thorne, Bowen Marsh and Othell Yarwyck. Ser Alliser and Bowen Marsh are trying to convince Othell to pull out from the choosing to be Lord Commander in order to support Janos Slynt. Othell expresses his doubts on doing so, saying that he does not know Janos well and that Lord Stannis doesn’t seem to like Janos. Ser Alliser says that Lord Tywin will win the war of the kings in the end and Bowen Marsh shows Othell the letter from Tywin that subtly points out that Tywin favors Lord Janos Slynt as the next Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch.
Jon leaves the bathhouse and, without having a destination in mind, starts walking, eventually going through the tunnel of the inner gate and ends up on the outer side of the Wall. As the afternoon passes into evening, Jon considers his choice. He thinks it likely that Alliser and Bowen Marsh will convince Othell to support Janos Slynt, which will give Slynt two-thirds of the votes and make him Lord Commander; when Janos come into power, he will have Jon hanged for a turncloak. The other option would be to let Stannis legitimize him, marry Val and become the Lord of Winterfell. It seemed an easy choice to make and Jon realizes that he has always hungered and is still hungering for Winterfell. The more he thinks about it, the hungrier he gets, until he starts thinking about chasing deer and elks and filing his belly with fresh meat. It takes Jon a while to understand what is happening but he finally realizes that the thoughts of hunting animals and feeding on them had entered his mind because his direwolf, Ghost, is nearby. He calls out to Ghost and the white direwolf soon comes bounding towards him. Jon is happy to see Ghost again, and as he hugs Ghost, he realizes that the direwolf’s red eyes, red mouth and white fur are akin to the face and body of a weirwood tree and that Ghost must belong to the old gods of the North. He also remembers that out of the six direwolf pups that had been found, Ghost alone was white; the other five pups were meant for the five Stark children, and the white one had been meant for him, the bastard Snow. Jon realizes then that Winterfell is not for him.
He sees Melisandre emerging from the tunnel, with Stannis beside her, to lead the prayers around the nightfire. He leads Ghost around the nightfire to avoid being seen. When Jon is inside, her sees Val standing in her tower window and says inwardly that he won’t be the man to steal Val out of there. When Jon enters the common hall, he is greeted by the sight of chaos. Most of his sworn brothers are standing and shouting. No one is eating because there is no food being served. Janos is shouting about turncloaks and treason, Iron Emmet is standing on top of a table with a naked sword in his fist and a brother from the Eastwatch was trying to restore order but failing miserably.
Pyp whistles to get the men’s attention. As Jon walks towards the tables, a hush falls across the hall. Janos Slynt gasps and calls Jon a warg and says that Jon is not fit to lead them. Confused, Jon asks what has happened. Maester Aemon speaks up from the other end of the hall, telling Jon that his name has been put forth as a candidate for the Lord Commander’s seat. Dolorous Edd admits that he was the one who put forth Jon’s name.
Janos protests, saying that Jon should be hanged for being a warg and for joining Mance Rayder’s wildling host. Cotter Pyke and Ser Denys Mallister both state that Jon’s name was properly put forth as per the Watch’s traditions and rules. The men start talking and shouting again until Ser Alliser Thorne jumps up on the table to tell them Stannis has posted his men at all of the hall’s doors to ensure that the men of the Night’s Watch do not eat or leave until a Lord Commander has been selected. He urges them to vote, and to vote again if needed to, until they have a new Lord Commander. Alliser then calls upon Othell Yarwyck to say something to the men.
Othell gets up and announces that he is withdrawing his name. He then admits that he had thought about asking all those who had voted for him to vote for Janos Slynt instead. Othell then goes on to say that standing up in front of all of them has made him realize that Janos Slynt might not be a good choice since Stannis did not like Janos. He admits that Jon might make for a better choice since Jon has been on the wall longer than Janos has, and Jon Stark is Benjen Stark’s nephew and had once been Lord Commander Mormont’s personal steward.
Janos Slynt is furious at Othell’s words and Ser Alliser has gone pale. The men are soon crying out for the kettle to be brought to the center of the room so that they can throw their votes into it. Sam and Clydas drag the kettle to the table. When Clydas takes the lid off, a huge raven bursts out of the kettle. Sam shouts that he recognizes the bird – it is Lord Commander Jeor Mormont’s raven. The raven lands on the table nearest to Jon and repeats the word “Snow” several times, making it seems as if it is calling for the men to vote for Jon Snow; it then flies to Jon’s shoulder. Ser Alliser laughs mockingly, saying that Sam is playing a trick on them all; he says that Sam has taught all the ravens in the rookery to say “snow”. Alliser says that Mormont’s bird knew more words than just “snow”.
Right after Ser Alliser says that, the raven cocks its head and looks at Jon, then says the word “corn”, a question to see whether Jon had any corn to give it. When Jon gave no answer nor corn, the raven repeats the word “kettle” several times.
Seeing that the raven indeed knows more than just one word, which proves that it is indeed Mormont’s raven, the overwhelming majority of the men vote for Jon Snow. When Jon is announced as the new Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, his close friends and many of the men come to congratulate him. Even Bowen Marsh comes up to him, saying that he would be glad to continue as Lord Steward if Jon so wishes. Cotter Pyke and Ser Denys Mallister are more reserved but both express their hope that Jon will do a good job leading the Night’s Watch.
Jon walks across the castle, with Ghost at his heels and Pyp, Green and Sam following as well. Pyp and Grenn are amazed that Sam orchestrated the whole thing to ensure that the Lord Commander’s seat goes to Jon and not Janos Slynt, but they wonder when Sam had hidden the raven in the kettle and how could Sam have been sure that the raven would have flown to Jon rather than Janos. Sam insists that he had nothing to do with Mormont’s raven.
Jon laughs and calls them fools. He then takes a swallow of wine, knowing that he can only drink that much, because the Wall is his and he now has to face Stannis.
Sansa is dreaming about her childhood in Winterfell when she suddenly wakes up, and realizes that she is not in Winterfell but in her bedchamber in the Eyrie.
She had dreamed of home, and the Eyrie is not that; there was no place to go, and little to do. Aside from her maid, Sansa’s only companion is the sickly Lord Robert Arryn, a boy eight years of age. Lysa’s singer, Marillion, is at the Eyrie as well, and makes Sansa uncomfortable with his inappropriate remarks. Petyr, on the other hand, is rarely at the Eyrie – he spends most of this time meeting with the lords of the Vale, trying to assert his authority as Lord Protector of the Vale over them. Many of House Arryn’s bannermen resent Lysa’s marriage to Petyr – the Vale is not as idyllic as Lady Lysa had made it out to be.
Sansa realizes that she will not be able to go back to sleep so she gets dressed and walks out into the Eyrie’s garden. The garden is covered with snow and dawn is about to come. Sansa starts shaping the snow on the ground, and before she realizes it, she is building a snow castle, and the castle is Winterfell.
When dawn comes, Sansa is still building Winterfell. She is having trouble keeping the bridges from collapsing, but Petyr appears and tells her to pack the snow around a stick. Petyr then joins Sansa in the snow, helping her with the trickier parts of the snow castle. However, after making progress with the snow castle, Petyr pulls Sansa into her arms and kisses her. Sansa yields to the kiss for a moment but then turns her face away and wrenches free. When Sansa asks Petyr his reason for kissing her, he tells her that he is kissing a snow maid and that she is beautiful. When Sansa points out to Petyr that he should be kissing his wife, Petyr says that he has been kissing Lysa and given her no cause for complaint.
As Sansa protests over Petyr’s words, little Lord Robert Arryn enters the garden. The boy is carrying the cloth doll that he carries everywhere. Robert sees the castle and decides that his doll is to be a giant, and proceeds to swing the doll by the legs, knocking the top off one gatehouse tower after another. Sansa tries to stop Robert by grabbing his hand, but she catches the doll instead and the force rips the doll’s head from its body. The boy begins to wail but this soon develops into violent shakes; Petyr rushes to the boy’s aid and calls for Maester Coleman, the Eyrie’s maester. When Maester Coleman finally arrives, he has the guards lead Robert to his chambers in order to be leeched.
Sansa returns to her bedchambers and considers the consequences of her actions. She has no doubts that her aunt Lysa will soon summon her in order to answer for Lord Robert’s fit. Sansa actually hopes that her aunt will banish her, for the Gates of the Moon far below in the valley seemed a more exciting place than the Eyrie. She decides that she will tell her aunt that she had no wish to marry little Lord Robert. She knows that Lysa will banish her for that, but Sansa doesn’t think that a bad thing as she would be getting away from little Lord Robert’s pouts and shaking sickness, from Marillion’s lingering looks and from Petyr’s kisses.
Later that afternoon, Marillion comes to escort Sansa to the High Hall, where her aunt Lysa waits for her. Upon reaching the carved wooden doors of the High Hall, Marillion tells the guards that no one is to be allowed entry as long as Alayne is with Lady Sansa (Marillion only knows Sansa as Alayne, a bastard girl). Marillion then leads Sansa into the High Hall, bars the door shut from the inside, and waits at the foot of the hall, telling Sansa that Lady Lysa is waiting for her at the back of the hall.
Sansa walks all the way to the back of the hall where she finds her aunt Lysa sitting in the high seat. Lysa says that she knows what Sansa has done. Sansa begins apologizing for ripping the head off little Lord Robert’s doll but Lysa stops Sansa from speaking any further and tells Sansa that she is speaking of Sansa kissing Petyr, not Robert’s doll.
Sansa says that it was Petyr who had kissed her to which Lysa expresses her disbelief and demands that Sansa confess that she threw herself at Petyr. Sansa refuses to confess to the falsehood and insists it was Petyr who had kissed her. Lysa gets increasingly angry and says that many others have tried to take Petyr from her, including her father, Jon Arryn, and most of all, Sansa’s mother. Lysa goes on to elaborate, saying that when she and Catelyn had been girls in Riverrun, Catelyn had toyed with Petyr’s feelings, that she had enticed Petyr with her looks and glances but, during a night of dance and song, had pushed him away when he had tried to kiss her. Petyr had been so hurt that he gotten himself drunk and Ser Brynden had to carry him up to his bed. Lysa had then sneaked into Petyr’s bed to provide some comfort to him in the form of lovemaking. Petyr had taken Lysa’s maidenhead but had erroneously called her by Catelyn’s name before he fell back to sleep; despite that, Lysa had stayed with Petyr in his bed until dawn.
Sansa, starting to feel fear in the face of her aunt’s tirade, begs for Lysa’s leave to go, but Lysa denies it.
Lysa then goes on to tell about how her father, Lord Hoster, sent Petyr away once it was revealed that she was pregnant with Petyr’s child. Lord Hoster had forced Lysa to drink a concoction that killed the baby before it could be born. Her father then had her wedded to Jon Arryn, telling her that she was lucky Jon still wanted her as a wife despite Petyr taking her maidenhood, but Lysa says that she knew Jon Arryn only wanted to marry her in order to win her father’s men for Robert’s Rebellion. Lysa then states that she will never let Sansa steal Petyr.
Sansa, having grown increasingly fearful of her aunt’s wrath, decides to say what her aunt wants to hear: that she won’t kiss Petyr again.
Lysa seizes upon Sansa’s words as her admittance that she had indeed enticed Petyr. She grabs Sansa’s arm, calls out to Marillion to play a song titled ‘The False and the Fair’, and proceeds to lead Sansa to the Moon Door, a white weirwood door halfway down the hall, barred firmly close with three heavy bronze bars. Lysa forces Sansa to open the door and Sansa obeys, hoping that her aunt will let her go if she does as ordered.
When Sansa has yanked all three bars loose, the Moon Door flies open and Sansa sees that beyond the door is nothing but white sky and falling snow.
Lysa pushes Sansa forcefully towards the door, mocking her by asking whether Sansa still wants her leave to go. Lysa pushes Sansa so far to the edge until one of Sansa’s feet slipped out over the void. Desperate, Sansa grabs a hold of her aunt’s hair and both women end up teetering on the edge. Sansa can hear the guards pounding on the door with their spears.
Petyr appears suddenly, having come in through the lord’s entrance located behind the high seat. He demands to know what Lysa is doing, which causes Lysa to turn around and loosen her grip on Sansa. Lysa says that she was going to marry Sansa to her son but that Sansa has now proven that she has no gratitude for the marriage to Little Robert. She then says that Petyr cannot love Sansa because Sansa does not love Petyr the way that she does. Lysa goes on to say that she has always loved Petyr.
Petyr takes another step towards Lysa, telling her that he is there for her and that there is no cause for tears. Lysa states that Petyr had not said the same thing in King’s Landing; he had her put the Tears of Lys, a lethal poison that leaves no trace, in Jon’s wine. She had done it for her son’s sake, and for both Petyr and her’s. And she had written to Catelyn to tell her sister that the Lannisters had killed her husband Jon, just as Petyr had asked. Lysa gets more and more hysterical and keeps on asking why Petyr kissed Sansa.
Petyr sighs and tells Lysa that she has to trust him a little more. He then swears that he will never leave her side again. Petyr then pleads with her to unhand Sansa so that both he and Lysa can share a kiss. Lysa does so happily. Petyr hugs her and then kisses her gently, saying that he has only ever loved one woman. Lysa smiles and think Petyr is talking about her – until he says that the woman in question is Catelyn. Petyr then pushes Lysa out of the Moon Door. Marillion is in shock at what Petyr has done but Petyr merely responds by telling Sansa to let the guards in so that they can report that it was Marillion who killed Lysa.
Merrett Frey is riding for Oldstones; he has been charged by Lord Walder Frey to pay the ransom for Petyr Pimple, who has been captured by outlaws after wandering off with a camp follower. The message from the outlaws stated that they would wait in the ruined castle atop Oldstones and release Petyr Pimple once they receive the ransom amount of one hundred gold pieces. Lord Walder’s disdain for Merrett, his ninth son, is such that Merrett had to beg his father to entrust him with the task of paying Petyr’s ransom. Merrett had once been a squire and was supposed to go on to become a knight, but a vicious blow by a mace to his helm had injured him so badly that he had been forced to give up his dreams of knighthood; he had been sent back to the Twins, thus earning Lord Walder’s disdain.
When Lord Bolton married his daughter, Fat Walda, Merrett had hoped that his luck would finally change, since the Bolton alliance is important to House Frey. However, Lord Walder had disabused him of this notion, saying that Lord Roose Bolton had picked Merrett’s Fat Walda not because she is Merrett’s daughter but because she was fat – Lord Walder had promised Roose Bolton his bride’s weight in silver as a dowry.
Merrett had been handed the opportunity to distinguish himself during the Red Wedding but he had failed in his given task: to get Greatjon Umber drunk. With his reputation as the biggest drinker in the Twins, Merrett had thought that it would be an easy task. However, the Greatjon Umber had drunk enough wine to kill any three normal men and still managed to leave two men wounded, one dead and one who lost half his ear to the Greatjon Umber’s teeth.
The reason Merrett volunteered to be the one to deliver Petyr’s ransom to the outlaws is because he wishes to curry favor with Ser Ryman Frey. With Ser Stevron Frey having been killed while campaigning for the late Robb Stark, Ser Ryman now stands to inherit the Twins after Lord Walder’s death. Petyr Pimple is Ser Ryman Frey’s youngest son, so by bringing Petyr back, Merrett hopes that Ser Ryman will see him as a loyal man worth having about when he inherits the Twins.
Merrett arrives at the ruined castle at the appointed time. He spots the singer, Tom Sevenstrings, sitting above a stone sepulcher. Suddenly, the rest of the outlaws step out from the bushes and surround Merrett; he spots at least a dozen men, and there is a woman as well, wearing a hooded cloak three times her size. Lem, a big man wearing a yellow lemon-colored cloak, asks Merrett whether he has brought the ransom; Merrett tells him that the gold is in his saddlebag. One of the outlaws, a one-eyed man, opens the saddlebag, bites into the coin and tells the other outlaws that the gold is real.
Merrett then asks which of the outlaws is Beric Dondarrion; he hopes to speak to Dondarrion, knowing that Dondarrion had been a lord before becoming an outlaw and thus Merrett hopes that Beric is a man of honor. Tom Sevenstrings says that Lord Beric is not with them as he was needed elsewhere. Merrett then asks the outlaws to hand over Petyr to him. Lem tells Merrett that Petyr is in the godswood and offers to take Merrett there. Merrett reluctantly goes along, walking in silence.
When they reach the godswood, Merrett sees Petyr Pimple’s body hanging from the limb of an oak. His first thought is that he had come too late, but he realizes that he had indeed arrived at the appointed time. And then he realizes something else – that the outlaws had just decided to kill Petyr anyway. Before he can think to act, the outlaws have already bound his arms behind his back and tied a rope around his neck.
Realizing that they are about to hang him, Merrett tries to play on their greed by telling them that Lord Walder Frey will pay for his ransom and that he is worth more in ransom than Petyr Pimple. Tom Sevenstrings says that Lord Walder Frey won’t be fooled twice and will next send a hundred men after them instead of a hundred gold coins. Tom then offers Merrett a way out: he says that if Merrett answers a question, he’ll tell the outlaws to let Merrett go. Desperate to save his life, Merrett agrees.
Tom then asks Merrett whether he saw Sandor Clegane at the Red Wedding; the outlaws have been looking for him and they have learned that Sandor had made his way towards the Twins, with a skinny girl of about ten years of age in tow. Merrett gives an honest answer, saying that he did not see Sandor during the wedding. Tom does not release him and Merrett starts to protest, claiming that Tom had promised to let him go after he answered Tom’s question. Tom says that his actual words were that he would tell the other outlaws to let him go, which he then does, but Lem does not comply, to which Tom shrugs indifferently and proceeds to play a song on his woodharp.
Merrett is growing increasingly desperate and tells them that he has children. The one-eyed outlaw says that Robb Stark will never have children. Merrett then realizes that the outlaws are hanging him due to his participation in the Red Wedding; he shouts out that the Red Wedding was not murder, but vengeance, something House Frey had a right to since Robb dishonored them. Merrett then goes on to state that all he did during the Red Wedding was drink. He then brings Lord Beric into the picture by saying that he’s heard that Lord Beric is a just man and wouldn’t kill a man unless something’s been proven against him; Merrett says that the outlaws have no proof against him, that they have no witnesses.
Tom says that they do indeed have a witness and turns to the hooded woman, the one that Merrett had seen earlier. The woman lowers her hood, and to Merrett’s horror, he sees that the woman in the hooded cloak is none other than Catelyn Stark. He wonders how Catelyn Stark can be alive, since Ser Raymund Frey had slit her throat and they had then thrown her dead body into the river. The Catelyn Stark standing amongst the outlaws resembles a drowned corpse more than a living woman, but she stares at Merrett with hate-filled eyes all the same.
Lem says that Catelyn doesn’t speak since Merrett and his kin had slit her throat. But he adds that she does remember. He turns to the dead woman and asks whether Merrett had a part to play in the Red Wedding. The woman that had once been Catelyn nods and the outlaws proceed to hang Merrett Frey.