Tuesday, January 15, 2019
A Game of Thrones Chapter Sixty-nine
TyrionThey moderate my son, Tywin Lannister express.They do, my manufacturing business. The messengers voice was dul guide by exhaustion. On the breast of his lacerate surcoat, the brindled boar of Crakeh on the whole was half-obscured by dried blood.One of your sons, Tyrion thought. He took a sip of wine and give tongue to non a word, thinking of Jaime. When he lifted his arm, pain shot through his elbow, reminding him of his own brief enjoy of battle. He loved his brother, that he would not take a crap cherished to be with him in the Whispering Wood for every(prenominal) the gold in Casterly Rock.His lord military chaplains assembled captains and banner man place had f in allen very unperturbed as the courier told his tale. The sole(prenominal) sound was the crackle and hiss of the log burning in the habitation at the end of the long, drafty common room.After the hardships of the long drab drive southeasterly, the prospect of even a single shadow in an student lod ging had cheered Tyrion world powerily . . . though he rather wished it had not been this inn again, with all its memories. His founder had go down a grueling pace, and it had taken its toll. work force wounded in the battle kept up as scoop out they could or were abandoned to fend for themselves. either morning they left a few more(prenominal) by the roadside, men who went to sleep never to wake. Every subsequentlynoon a few more collapsed along the port. And every evening a few more deserted, stealing off into the dusk. Tyrion had been half-tempted to go with them.He had been upstairs, enjoying the comfort of a featherbed and the warmth of Shaes body beside him, when his squire had woken him to consecrate that a rider had arrived with dire news program of Riverrun. So it had all been for nothing. The run south, the endless forced marches, the bodies left beside the road . . . all for naught. Robb pure(a) had reached Riverrun long time and days ago.How could this ha ppen? Ser Harys Swyft moaned. How? Even after the Whispering Wood, you had Riverrun ringed in iron, surrounded by a great innkeeper . . . what madness make Ser Jaime decide to split his men into three separate campyings? Surely he knew how vulnerable that would leave them?Better than you, you chinless craven, Tyrion thought. Jaime might cast preoc cupfulied Riverrun, alone it evokeed him to hear his brother s domainered by the likes of Swyft, a shameless lickspittle whose greatest accomplishment was marrying his equally chinless daughter to Ser Kevan, and thereby attaching himself to the Lannisters.I would charter done the same, his uncle responded, a good deal more calmly than Tyrion might prolong. You hold up never betn Riverrun, Ser Harys, or you would know that Jaime had little pickax in the matter. The castle is situated at the end of the point of land where the Tumblestone flows into the trigger-happy Fork of the Trident. The rivers form two sides of a triangle , and when danger threatens, the Tullys dissipate their sluice gates upstream to create a wide moat on the third side, turning Riverrun into an island. The walls rise sheer from the water, and from their towers the defenders have a commanding view of the opposite shores for m any leagues around. To hack off all the approaches, a besieger must(prenominal)(prenominal) needs place one camp atomic number 7 of the Tumblestone, one south of the Red Fork, and a third between the rivers, tungsten of the moat. There is no other way, none.Ser Kevan speaks truly, my lords, the courier said. Wed built palisades of sharpened bet around the camps, yet it was not enough, not with no warning and the rivers tender us off from each other. They came obliterate on the north camp first. No one was expecting an attack. Marq Piper had been raiding our supply trains, moreover he had no more than fifty men. Ser Jaime had gone out to deal with them the night before . . . well, with what we thought was them. We were told the Stark master of ceremonies was east of the Green Fork, marchland south . . . And your outriders? Ser Gregor Cleganes face might have been hewn from rock. The fire in the hearth gave a somber orange cast to his skin and enthrone deep shadows in the hollows of his eyes. They saw nothing? They gave you no warning?The slaughterous messenger shook his spike. Our outriders had been vanishing. Marq Pipers work, we thought. The ones who did come back had seen nothing.A man who sees nothing has no use for his eyes, the Mountain declared. Cut them out and give them to your close outrider. Tell him you hope that quaternity eyes might see go bad than two . . . and if not, the man after him provide have six. churchman Tywin Lannister gagecelled his face to study Ser Gregor. Tyrion saw a glimmer of gold as the light shone off his forefathers pupils, but he could not have said whether the look was one of approval or disgust. nobleman Tywin was oft quiet in c ouncil, preferring to listen before he spoke, a habit Tyrion himself try to emulate. Yet this silence was uncharacteristic even for him, and his wine was untouched.You said they came at night, Ser Kevan prompted.The man gave a weary nod. The Blackfish led the van, get it onting down our sentries and clearing away the palisades for the main assault. By the time our men knew what was happening, riders were pouring over the ditch banks and galloping through the camp with swords and torches in hand. I was quiescency in the west camp, between the rivers. When we heard the fighting and saw the tents existence fired, skipper Brax led us to the rafts and we tried to pole across, but the current pushed us downstream and the Tullys started flinging rocks at us with the catapults on their walls. I saw one raft smashed to kindling and three others overturned, men swept into the river and drowned . . . and those who did make it across found the Starks waiting for them on the riverbanks.Se r Flement Brax wore a silver-and-purple tabard and the look of a man who evokenot comprehend what he has just heard. My lord fatherSorry, my lord, the messenger said. victor Brax was clad in plate-and-mail when his raft overturned. He was very gallant.He was a fool, Tyrion thought, swirling his cup and staring down into the winy depths. Crossing a river at night on a gross(a) raft, wearing armor, with an enemy waiting on the other sideif that was gallantry, he would take cowardice every time. He wondered if master copy Brax had felt curiously gallant as the weight of his steel pulled him downstairs the black water.The camp between the rivers was overrun as well, the messenger was expressing. While we were trying to cross, more Starks swept in from the west, two columns of armored horse. I saw professional Umbers giant-in-chains and the Mallister eagle, but it was the boy who led them, with a monstrous wolf tally at his side. I wasnt there to see, but its said the beast kil led four men and ripped apart a dozen horses. Our spearmen formed up a shieldwall and held against their first charge, but when the Tullys saw them engaged, they opened the gates of Riverrun and Tytos Blackwood led a sortie across the drawbridge and took them in the rear.Gods save us, shaper Lefford swore.Greatjon Umber fired the siege towers we were building, and master copy Blackwood found Ser Edmure Tully in chains among the other captives, and made off with them all. Our south camp was under the command of Ser Forley Prester. He retreated in good order when he saw that the other camps were lost, with two thousand spears and as many bowmen, but the Tyroshi sellsword who led his freeriders struck his banners and went over to the foe.Curse the man. His uncle Kevan sounded more angry than surprised. I warned Jaime not to trust that one. A man who fights for coin is loyal just now to his purse. noble Tywin wove his fingers together under his chin. Only his eyes moved as he listene d. His bristling golden side-whiskers framed a face so so far it might have been a mask, but Tyrion could see comminuted beads of sweat dappling his fathers shaven head.How could it happen? Ser Harys Swyft wailed again. Ser Jaime taken, the siege broken . . . this is a catastropheSer Addam Marbrand said, I am sure we are all gratifying to you for pointing out the obvious, Ser Harys. The question is, what shall we do about it?What can we do? Jaimes host is all slaughtered or taken or put to flight, and the Starks and the Tullys sit forthright across our line of supply. We are cut off from the west They can march on Casterly Rock if they so choose, and whats to stop them? My lords, we are beaten. We must sue for peace.Peace? Tyrion swirled his wine thoughtfully, took a deep draft, and hurled his empty cup to the floor, where it shattered into a thousand pieces. Theres your peace, Ser Harys. My sweet nephew broke it for good and all when he decided to or causent the Red Keep with Lo rd Eddards head. Youll have an easier time drinking wine from that cup than you will convincing Robb Stark to make peace now. Hes winning . . . or hadnt you noticed?Two battles do not make a war, Ser Addam insisted. We are far from lost. I should have the chance to try my own steel against this Stark boy.Perhaps they would take to to a truce, and allow us to trade our prisoners for theirs, cristaled Lord Lefford.Unless they trade three-for-one, we tranquillise come out light on those scales, Tyrion said acidly. And what are we to offer for my brother? Lord Eddards rotting head?I had heard that butt Cersei has the Hands daughters, Lefford said hopefully. If we give the lad his babes back . . . Ser Addam snorted disdainfully. He would have to be an utter ass to trade Jaime Lannisters life for two girls.Then we must ransom Ser Jaime, whatever it costs, Lord Lefford said.Tyrion rolled his eyes. If the Starks feel the need for gold, they can melt down Jaimes armor.if we ask for a t ruce, they will think us weak, Ser Addarn argued. We should march on them at once.Surely our friends at court could be prevailed upon to join us with fresh troops, said Ser Harys. And someone might transcend to Casterly Rock to raise a new host.Lord Tywin Lannister rose to his feet. They have my son, he said once more, in a voice that cut through the babble like a sword through suet. emerge me. All of you.Ever the soul of obedience, Tyrion rose to depart with the rest, but his father gave him a look. Not you, Tyrion. Remain. And you as well, Kevan. The rest of you, out.Tyrion eased himself back onto the bench, floor into speechlessness. Ser Kevan crossed the room to the wine casks. Uncle, Tyrion called, if you would be so kindHere. His father offered him his cup, the wine untouched. Now Tyrion truly was nonplussed. He drank.Lord Tywin buttocksed himself. You have the right of it about Stark. Alive, we might have used Lord Eddard to invent a peace with Winterfell and Riverrun, a peace that would have given us the time we need to deal with Roberts brothers. Dead . . . His hand curled into a fist. Madness. Rank madness.Joffs only a boy, Tyrion pointed out. At his age, I committed a few follies of my own.His father gave him a sharp look. I suppose we ought to be grateful that he has not yet married a whore.Tyrion sipped at his wine, wondering how Lord Tywin would look if he flung the cup in his face.Our touch is worse than you know, his father went on. It would seem we have a new king.Ser Kevan looked poleaxed. A newwho? What have they done to Joffrey?The faintest flicker of distaste played across Lord Tywins thin lips. Nothing . . . yet. My grandson still sits the Iron Throne, but the castrate has heard whispers from the south. Renly Baratheon wed Margaery Tyrell at Highgarden this fortnight past, and now he has claimed the crown. The brides father and brothers have bent the knee and sworn him their swords.Those are grave tidings. When Ser Kevan frowned, the furrows in his brow grew deep as canyons.My daughter commands us to ride for Kings landing place at once, to defend the Red Keep against King Renly and the Knight of Flowers. His sass tightened. Commands us, mind you. In the name of the king and council.How is King Joffrey taking the news? Tyrion asked with a certain black amusement.Cersei has not seen fit to tell him yet, Lord Tywin said. She devotions he might insist on marching against Renly himself.With what army? Tyrion asked. You dont designing to give him this one, I hope?He talks of leading the urban center Watch, Lord Tywin said.If he takes the Watch, hell leave the city undefended, Ser Kevan said. And with Lord Stannis on Dragonstone . . . Yes. Lord Tywin looked down at his son. I had thought you were the one made for motley, Tyrion, but it would appear that I was wrong.Why, Father, said Tyrion, that almost sounds like praise. He leaned send on intently. What of Stannis? Hes the elder, not Renly. How does he feel about his brothers claim?His father frowned. I have felt from the beginning that Stannis was a greater danger than all the others combined. Yet he does nothing. Oh, Varys hears his whispers. Stannis is building ships, Stannis is hiring sellswords, Stannis is bringing a shadowbinder from Asshai. What does it mean? Is any of it true? He gave an irritated shrug. Kevan, bring us the map.Ser Kevan did as he was bid. Lord Tywin unrolled the leather, smoothing it flat. Jaime has left us in a bad way. Roose Bolton and the remnants of his host are north of us. Our enemies hold the Twins and Moat Cailin. Robb Stark sits to the west, so we cannot retreat to Lannisport and the Rock unless we choose to give battle. Jaime is taken, and his army for all purposes has ceased to exist. Thoros of Myr and Beric Dondarrion deal to plague our foraging parties. To our east we have the Arryns, Stannis Baratheon sits on Dragonstone, and in the south Highgarden and Storms End are calling their banners.Tyrio n smiled crookedly. Take heart, Father. At least Rhaegar Targaryen is still dead.I had hoped you might have more to offer us than japes, Tyrion, Lord Tywin Lannister said.Ser Kevan frowned over the map, forehead creasing. Robb Stark will have Edmure Tully and the lords of the Trident with him now. Their combined power may exceed our own. And with Roose Bolton behind us . . . Tywin, if we remain here, I fear we might be caught between three armies.I have no intention of remaining here. We must finish our business with young Lord Stark before Renly Baratheon can march from Highgarden. Bolton does not concern me. He is a wary man, and we made him warier on the Green Fork. He will be slow to give pursuit. So . . . on the morrow, we make for Harrenhal. Kevan, I indirect request Ser Addams outriders to screen our movements. Give him as many men as he requires, and send them out in groups of four. I will have no vanishings.As you say, my lord, but . . . why Harrenhal? That is a grim, unl ucky place. slightly call it cursed.Let them, Lord Tywin said. Unleash Ser Gregor and send him before us with his reavers. Send forth Vargo Hoat and his freeriders as well, and Ser Amory Lorch. Each is to have three 100 horse. Tell them I want to see the riverlands afire from the Gods Eye to the Red Fork.They will burn, my lord, Ser Kevan said, rising. I shall give the commands. He bowed and made for the door.When they were alone, Lord Tywin glanced at Tyrion. Your savages might relish a bit of rapine. Tell them they may ride with Vargo Hoat and plunder as they likegoods, stock, women, they may take what they want and burn the rest.Telling Shagga and Timett how to pillage is like telling a hammer how to crow, Tyrion commented, but I should prefer to keep them with me. Uncouth and unruly they might be, yet the wildlings were his, and he trusted them more than any of his fathers men. He was not about to hand them over.Then you had best learn to control them. I will not have the cit y plundered.The city? Tyrion was lost. What city would that be?Kings Landing. I am sending you to court.It was the last thing Tyrion Lannister would ever have anticipated.He reached for his wine, and considered for a moment as he sipped. And what am I to do there?Rule, his father said curtlyTyrion hooted with laughter. My sweet sister might have a word or two to say about thatLet her say what she likes. Her son needs to be taken in hand before he ruins us all. I blamed those jackanapes on the councilour friend Petyr, the venerable Grand Maester, and that cockless wonder Lord Varys. What sort of counsel are they giving Joffrey when he lurches from one tomfoolery to the next? Whose notion was it to make this Janos Slynt a lord? The mans father was a butcher, and they grant him Harrenhal. Harrenhal, that was the seat of kings Not that he will ever set foot inside it, if I have a say. I am told he took a bloody spear for his sigil. A bloody chopper would have been my choice. His fath er had not raised his voice, yet Tyrion could see the anger in the gold of his eyes. And dismissing Selmy, where was the sense in that? Yes, the man was old, but the name of Barristan the Bold still has meaning in the realm. He lent keep to any man he served. Can anyone say the same of the track down? You feed your dog bones under the table, you do not seat him beside you on the high bench. He pointed a finger at Tyrions face. If Cersei cannot watch the boy, you must. And if these councillors are playing us false . . . Tyrion knew. Spikes, he sighed. Heads. Walls.I see you have taken a few lessons from me.More than you know, Father, Tyrion answered quietly. He spotless his wine and set the cup aside, thoughtful. A part of him was more jocund than he cared to admit. Another part was remembering the battle upriver, and wondering if he was being sent to hold the left again. Why me? he asked, cocking his head to one side. Why not my uncle? Why not Ser Addam or Ser Flement or Lord S errett? Why not a . . . bigger man?Lord Tywin rose abruptly. You are my son.That was when he knew. You have given him up for lost, he thought. You bloody bastard, you think Jaimes good as dead, so Im all you have left. Tyrion wanted to slap him, to spit in his face, to draw his dagger and cut the heart out of him and see if it was made of old hard gold, the way the smallfolks said. Yet he sit there, silent and still.The shards of the broken cup crunched on a lower floor his fathers heels as Lord Tywin crossed the room. One last thing, he said at the door. You will not take the whore to court.Tyrion sat alone in the common room for a long while after his father was gone. Finally he climbed the steps to his cozy garret on a lower floor the bell tower. The ceiling was low, but that was scarcely a drawback for a dwarf. From the window, he could see the gibbet his father had erected in the yard. The innkeeps body turned easy on its rope whenever the night wind gusted. Her flesh had grow n as thin and ragged as Lannister hopes.Shae murmured sleepily and rolled toward him when he sat on the edge of the featherbed. He slid his hand under the blanket and cupped a soft breast, and her eyes opened. Mlord, she said with a drowsy smile.When he felt her nipple stiffen, Tyrion kissed her. I have a mind to take you to Kings Landing, sweetling, he whispered.