During a night attack, the Brotherhood Without Banners destroys a garrison of Brave Companions. The survivors are tried and mostly executed. Arya wonders how Beric survived the trial by combat. At first Beric claims he was only wounded, but it’s apparent from the condition of his body that he’s been revived from death six times. Gendry wishes to join the Brotherhood, and Beric knights him. Arya feels further abandoned by her friends, and she angrily parts ways with Gendry.
Bran and his companions arrive at an abandoned village and find a causeway that leads beneath an adjacent lake. They spot a rider they can’t identify, and they wonder who might be pursuing them. Hodor, who only ever says his name when he speaks, starts to say “Hodor” over and over, despite Bran’s attempts to quiet him. Finally Bran tries to enter Hodor’s mind and stop him from speaking. They spot a camp, but they can’t identify the group. Bran enters the mind of his direwolf, Summer, and tries to spy on them.
A group of wildlings has moved South of the Wall, with Jon among them. At a towerhouse, Jon and Ygritte debate their differences. Ygritte believes her Free Folk are a better people, because the world belongs to everyone, and she resents the people of the Seven Kingdoms, who divvy up and control their lands. They continue to move, until the wildlings find an old man and demand that Jon kill him. Jon hesitates, and when they accuse him and Ygritte of conspiring, Ygritte kills the old man. Jon uses the confusion to kill some wildlings and escape, but he is wounded in the leg, which slows his pace. He heads back to the Wall, but he feels torn between two lives.
Daenerys arrives at the city of Yunkai with her massive army. She meets with three different groups: the leaders of the Stormcrows, a band of mercenaries contracted to protect Yunkai; the head of another band of mercenaries called the Second Sons; and finally a representative of the Yunkai’i. She tells the first two that they have until the morning to decide whether to join her, and to the last she says the city has three days to turn out its slaves and surrender to her. Daenerys, meanwhile, has planned a surprise attack for that same night. But before they can launch the attack, one of the Stormcrow leaders, Daario Naharis, enters the camp and gives Daenerys the heads of the other two Stormcrow leaders. He swears his allegiance to Daenerys and pledges the support of his company. The surprise attack then begins. Daenerys remains in camp and asks Whitebeard about her late brother, Rhaegar. Her army is victorious, and Daenerys enters the city of Yunkai, where free slaves shout and call her “mother.”
The Brotherhood Without Banners make camp, and Thoros and Beric reminisce near around a fire as Arya eavesdrops. An old dwarf woman joins them and tells of her dreams and portents. She mentions something about a castle called the Twins and some sort of wedding. She meets a youth named Ned who claims to be the “milk brother” of Jon Snow, because Jon’s mother, Wylla, nursed him. Ned reveals that he is Edric Dayne, a lord, and that Wylla was his wet nurse. He also tells of his Aunt Ashara Dayne, who met Arya’s father Eddard and threw herself into the ocean “for love.” Later, the priest Thoros tells Arya of his vision that the Lannisters will burn the castle of Riverrun. Arya tries to flee, but Sandor kidnaps her before she can escape and carries her away from the safety of the Brotherhood party.
Both Arya and Jon attempt escapes from their respective situations in this section, with mixed results. As Jon’s ties to the wildlings, and Ygritte in particular, have grown stronger, he’s felt increasingly conflicted. He never seems in danger of abandoning the Watch permanently, but neither is it clear that he could turn on the wildlings. It’s clear that he likes many of them, including Mance Rayder, and genuinely cares for others, notably Ygritte. When they demand that he kill an old man to prove his loyalty during a scouting mission, however, it forces him into a decision between his loyalty to them and his desire to leave. He obviously finds the act of killing the old man repugnant, and once he chooses not to do it, it seems likely the wildlings will question whether they should continue to trust him. He uses the opportunity to flee, though he’s wounded in the process. Arya, on the other hand, has no hesitations about getting away from the Brotherhood. What she lacks is only the chance to do so. But Arya is still young and not yet able to defend herself, so when she flees she is essentially helpless to defend herself against Sandor, who knows she could be of value to him. Thus she escapes the captivity of one group only to be taken captive again almost immediately after.