The Hound takes Sansa to Joffrey and his men. Lancel tells her that Robb used an army of wargs (people able to enter the minds of animals and control them) to destroy and eat Stafford Lannister’s army near Casterly Rock. Joffrey orders his men to beat Sansa as punishment. Dontos beats her with a soft melon, but Joffrey’s knights pull him away and attack her. The Hound tells them to stop, but Joffrey insists they continue, and they strip Sansa. Tyrion arrives with his sellswords and furiously demands that they release Sansa. He threatens to have Joffrey’s men killed.
Sansa is taken to the Hand’s tower. There, Tyrion tells her about Robb’s crushing victory, which resulted in the death of Stafford Lannister, and says that the stories about Robb’s supernatural powers are just rumors spread by men embarrassed of how easily they were defeated. He does say, however, that Robb’s ability to sneak his army past the Lannister outposts is mysterious. Tyrion offers her his men as her guard, but she tells him that they scare her and that she wants to go back to her own room. Tyrion escorts her.
Much of the information characters learn in this section is relayed via rumors or hearsay, demonstrating how unreliable information becomes amid the turmoil of war. Arya’s chapters, for example, pick up a curious thread introduced much earlier: the mysterious actions of Beric Dondarrion. Gregor Clegane appears obsessed with gathering information about Beric, who is supposedly attacking Lannister forces and disappearing back into the forest. Gregor’s torturers, however, get nothing from the prisoners, as no one seems to know anything about Beric or his guerilla army. Rumors abound about Beric, but hard facts do not. In fact, at Harrenhal Arya hears he is rumored to have been killed several times over. Similarly, Arya also picks up the knowledge that Robb has his armies nearby at Riverrun, and she begins to think about escaping. As readers learn in Sansa’s chapter, however, this knowledge is false—Robb is not at Riverrun anymore, but no one seems to know that. Without hard information, stories and misinformation begin to fill the factual void.
The flow of information and misinformation extends beyond Westeros, affecting even Daenerys to the east. Daenerys finally learns of Robert Baratheon’s death, for instance, months after the fact, and the sailor who relates it points out that no one seems to agree on how he died. The sailor's statements about what has happened since Robert’s death please Daenerys, but these statements appear to be superficial at best, if not deliberately misleading. The sailor seems to think that Stannis and Renly are allies, and his information about the Starks extends only to Eddard being taken prisoner. About the murder of Eddard and the subsequent war with the Starks, he knows nothing. Yet Daenerys declares her intent to rush back and invade Westeros based on this flimsy information. Moreover, as Jorah points out, the sailor will now spread Daenerys’s plan everywhere he goes. As he will not return to the Seven Kingdoms for at least a year, it seems likely that Daenerys’s plans will get just as corrupted as they are spread by rumor and retelling.
Catelyn, meanwhile, finally hears a rumor that is true, and it is one that, had she heard it earlier, might have dramatically changed the course of events. Stannis presents her with no proof that Jaime Lannister is Joffrey’s father, or that he told Jon Arryn about Joffrey's parentage and that is why Jon Arryn was killed. But Catelyn nonetheless connects that story with her sister’s claim that the Lannisters had Jon Arryn killed. While she still does not have the full story, some of the pieces have begun to fall into place. Catelyn’s rash actions in Game of Thrones helped bring about the war, and now A Clash of Kings raises the possibility that she will eventually realize she acted in ignorance.
The corruption of fact into misinformation and rumor takes its most dramatic and explicit turn in Sansa’s chapter. While everyone believed Robb sat at Riverrun, in reality he marched part of his forces across the kingdom to the west and destroyed the Lannister army mustering there. This surprise attack spawned the rumor among the Lannister survivors that Robb used supernatural powers to earn his victory and that he and his men ate the bodies of the dead. Joffrey again shows his vileness and stupidity in his willingness to believe these tales, whereas Tyrion shows his intelligence in his explanation to Sansa about how and why a rumor like that could get started.