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Tyrion has dinner with Janos Slynt, the outgoing commander of the gold cloaks of the City Watch. Slynt suggests that Allar Deem replace him as commander, but Tyrion proposes Ser Jacelyn Bywater and notes that Allar was involved in the killing of a prostitute and her infant daughter. When Tyrion tries to find out who sent Allar to kill the prostitute and her daughter, Janos rebuffs him. Tyrion is also angry about Janos’s role in the Eddard Stark affair and reveals that he is sending Janos to become a member of the Night’s Watch. Janos tries to leave in anger, but Ser Jacelyn Bywater apprehends him. Varys enters, and as he and Tyrion talk, Tyrion realizes that Varys knew that Cersei sent Allar to kill the baby, who was an illegitimate child of Robert’s. They discuss Tyrion’s strategy for controlling Joffrey’s excesses and reflect on the relationship between violence, public perception, and power.
The party bound for the Wall finds food harder and harder to come by. They encounter the ruins of a village that has been burned to the ground, and they find a young girl and a woman whose arm has been cut off. They take both with them, but the woman dies. That night, Arya sees a wolf in the woods when she sneaks off to go to the bathroom. Back at camp, Yoren reflects that it would have been safer to take a ship north to the Wall than to take the overland route they are on.
On Dragonstone, Davos watches as the icons of the old gods are burnt on Stannis’s orders while Melisandre prays to the Lord of Light. Davos reflects on his debt to Stannis, who elevated him from a smuggler to a knight. Stannis pulls a sword from the burning pile, and Melisandre and Selyse claim that it is the fulfillment of a prophecy about a sword of fire. Later, Davos talks with Salladhor Saan, a smuggler from across the narrow sea, who tells him that King’s Landing is insufficiently defended at present, but that Renly is marching his armies north toward the city. Salladhor also tells Davos the story of the true sword of fire, known as Lightbringer.
Davos meets with Stannis, who is sending all the lords in Westeros copies of a letter declaring himself to be Robert’s heir to the throne and Joffrey to be the product of an incestuous affair between Cersei and Jaime. Davos notes that Stannis lacks proof that Jaime is Joffrey’s father, but Stannis points out that Edric Storm, another of Robert’s bastard offspring, is at Storm’s End, a castle controlled by men loyal to Renly. If people could see Edric, Stannis says, they would see that Edric is Robert’s son and Joffrey is not. Davos questions Stannis about rejecting the old gods. Stannis replies that Melisandre has powers that he needs in order to seize the throne.
Theon Greyjoy sails toward Pyke, the home he was forced to leave ten years earlier when he was made a ward of the Starks as punishment for his father’s rebellion against King Robert. Theon has been sleeping with the captain’s daughter, but as they near Pyke, he tells her that he will be a king someday and that they cannot be together anymore. Seeing that men loyal to his father have brought their warships into the harbor, Theon wonders about his father’s intentions. On shore, no one seems to recognize Theon until his uncle Aeron, a priest, greets him. Aeron asks whether Theon has changed his loyalty to the Starks and their gods, but Theon swears allegiance to the Drowned God. When Theon calls himself the heir to Pyke and the Iron Islands, Aeron points out that Asha, Theon’s sister, is alive and may seem more loyal than Theon, whom he calls a Stark.
In the castle, Theon speaks roughly to the servants, whom he feels do not show him proper respect. Theon meets with his father, Balon, who mocks his clothes and accuses him of having gone soft in the company of the Starks. Balon still bears much ill will toward the Starks, as Eddard Stark defeated him during his rebellion ten years earlier in a battle that claimed the lives of Theon’s older brothers. Theon delivers Robb’s letter, which proposes that Balon join Robb and in return be made king of the Iron Islands. Theon claims that this was his plan and that he wants to lead the assault on Casterly Rock, the Lannister castle. Balon burns the letter and announces that he has a plan of his own, to take a crown through force by attacking an undefended part of Westeros.
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