How many pages are in a dance with dragons

A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire #5) by George R. R. Martin, Paperback


He drank his way across the narrow sea.
The ship was small and his cabin smaller, and the captain would not allow him abovedecks. The rocking of the deck beneath his feet made his stomach heave, and the wretched food they served him tasted even worse when retched back up. Besides, why did he need salt beef, hard cheese, and bread crawling with worms when he had wine to nourish him? It was red and sour, very strong. He sometimes heaved the wine up too, but there was always more. "The world is full of wine," he muttered in the dankness of his cabin. His father had never had any use for drunkards, but what did that matter? His father was dead. He ought to know; he'd killed him. A bolt in the belly, my lord, and all for you. If only I was better with a crossbow, I would have put it through that cock you made me with, you bloody bastard.

Below decks there was neither night nor day. Tyrion marked time by the comings and goings of the cabin boy who brought the meals he did not eat. The boy always brought a brush and bucket too, to clean up. "Is this Dornish wine?" Tyrion asked him once, as he pulled a stopper from a skin. "It reminds me of a certain snake I knew. A droll fellow, till a mountain fell on him."

The cabin boy did not answer. He was an ugly boy, though admittedly more comely than a certain dwarf with half a nose and a scar from eye to chin. "Have I offended you?" Tyrion asked the sullen, silent boy, as he was scrubbing. "Were you commanded not to talk to me? Or did some dwarf diddle your mother?"

That went unanswered too. This is pointless, he knew, but he must speak to someone or go mad, so he persisted. "Where are we sailing? Tell me that." Jaime had made mention of the Free Cities, but had never said which one. "Is it Braavos? Tyrosh? Myr?" Tyrion would sooner have gone to Dorne. Myrcella is older than Tommen, by Dornish law the Iron Throne is hers. I will help her claim her rights, as Prince Oberyn suggested.

Oberyn was dead, though, his head smashed to bloody ruin by the armored fist of Ser Gregor Clegane. And without the Red Viper to urge him on, would Doran Martell even consider such a chancy scheme? He may clap me in chains instead, and hand me back to my sweet sister. The Wall might be safer. Old Bear Mormont said the Night's Watch had need of men like Tyrion. Mormont may be dead, though. By now Slynt may be the Lord Commander. That butcher's son was not like to have forgotten who sent him to the Wall. Do I really want to spend the rest of my life eating salt beef and porridge with murderers and thieves? Not that the rest of his life would last very long. Janos Slynt would see to that.

The cabin boy wet his brush and scrubbed on manfully. "Have you ever visited the pleasure houses of Lys?" the dwarf inquired. "Might that be where whores go?" Tyrion could not seem to recall the Valyrian word for whore, and in any case it was too late. The boy tossed his brush back in his bucket and took his leave.

The wine has blurred my wits. He had learned to read High Valyrian at his maester's knee, though what they spoke in the Nine Free Cities... well, it was not so much a dialect as nine dialects on the way to becoming separate tongues. Tyrion had some Braavosi and a smattering of Myrish. In Tyrosh he should be able to curse the gods, call a man a cheat, and order up an ale, thanks to a sellsword he had once known at the Rock. At least in Dorne they spea the Common Tongue. Like Dornish food and Dornish law, Dornish speech was spiced with the flavors of the Rhoyne, but a man could comprehend it. Dorne, yes, Dorne for me. He crawled into his bunk, clutching that thought like a child with a doll.

Sleep had never come easily to Tyrion Lannister. Aboard that ship it seldom came at all, though from time to time he managed to drink sufficient wine to pass out for a while. At least he did not dream. He had dreamt enough for one small life. And of such follies: love, justice, friendship, glory. As well dream of being tall. It was all beyond his reach, Tyrion knew now. But he did not know where whores go.

"Wherever whores go," his father had said. His last words, and what words they were. The crossbow thrummed, Lord Tywin sat back down, and Tyrion Lannister found himself waddling through the darkness with Varys at his side. He must have clambered back down the shaft, two hundred and thirty rungs to where orange embers glowed in the mouth of an iron dragon. He remembered none of it. Only the sound the crossbow made, and the stink of his father's bowels opening. Even in his dying, he found a way to shit on me.

Varys had escorted him through the tunnels, but they never spoke until they emerged beside the Blackwater, where Tyrion had won a famous victory and lost a nose. That was when the dwarf turned to the eunuch and said, "I've killed my father," in the same tone a man might use to say, "I've stubbed my toe." The master of whisperers had been dressed as a begging brother, in a moth-eaten robe of brown roughspun with a cowl that shadowed his smooth fat cheeks and bald round head. "You should not have climbed that ladder," he said reproachfully.

"Wherever whores go." Tyrion warned his father not to say that word. If I had not loosed, he would have seen my threats were empty. He would have taken the crossbow from my hands, as once he took Tysha from my arms. He was rising when I killed him. "I killed Shae too," he confessed to Varys.

"You knew what she was."

"I did. But I never knew what he was."

Varys tittered. "And now you do."

I should have killed the eunuch as well. A little more blood on his hands, what would it matter? He could not say what had stayed his dagger. Not gratitude. Varys had saved him from a headsman's sword, but only because Jaime had compelled him. Jaime... no, better not to think of Jaime.

He found a fresh skin of wine instead, and sucked at it as if it were a woman's breast. The sour red ran down his chin and soaked through his soiled tunic, the same one he had been wearing in his cell. He sucked until the wine was gone. The deck was swaying beneath his feet, and when he tried to rise it lifted sideways and smashed him hard against a bulkhead. A storm, he realized, or else I am even drunker than I knew. He retched the wine up and lay in it a while, wondering if the ship would sink.

Is this your vengeance, Father? Have the Father Above made you his Hand? "Such are the wages of the kinslayer," he said as the wind howled outside. It did not seem fair to drown the cabin boy and the captain and all the rest for something he had done, but when had the gods ever been fair? And around about then, the darkness gulped him down

When he stirred again, his head felt like to burst and the ship was spinning round in dizzy circles, though the captain was insisting that they'd come to port. Tyrion told him to be quiet, and kicked feebly as a huge bald sailor tucked him under one arm and carried him squirming to the hold, where an empty wine cask awaited him. It was a squat little cask, and a tight fit even for a dwarf. Tyrion pissed himself in his struggles, for all the good it did. He was up crammed face first into the cask with his knees pushed up against his ears. The stub of his nose itched horribly, but his arms were pinned so tightly that he could not reach to scratch it. A palanquin fit for a man of my stature, he thought as they hammered shut the lid and hoisted him up. He could hear voices shouting as he was jounced along. Every bounce cracked his head against the bottom of the cask. The world went round and round as the cask rolled downward, then stopped with a sudden crash that made him want to scream. Another cask slammed into his, and Tyrion bit his tongue.

That was the longest journey he had ever taken, though it could not have lasted more than half an hour. He was lifted and lowered, rolled and stacked, upended and righted and rolled again. Through the wooden staves he heard men shouting, and once a horse whickered nearby. His stunted legs began to cramp, and soon hurt so badly that he forgot the hammering in his head.

It ended as it had begun, with another roll that left him dizzy and more jouncing. Outside strange voices were speaking in a tongue he did not know. Someone started pounding on the top of the cask and the lid cracked open suddenly. Light came flooding in, and cool air as well. Tyrion gasped greedily and tried to stand, but only managed to knock the cask over sideways and spill himself out onto a hard-packed earthen floor.

Above him loomed a grotesque fat man with a forked yellow beard, holding a wooden mallet and an iron chisel. His bedrobe was large enough to serve as a tourney pavilion, but its loosely knotted belt had come undone, exposing a huge white belly and a pair of heavy breasts that sagged like sacks of suet covered with coarse yellow hair. He reminded Tyrion of a dead sea cow that had once washed up in the caverns under Casterly Rock.

The fat man looked down and smiled. "A drunken dwarf," he said, in the Common Tongue of Westeros.

"A rotting sea cow. " Tyrion's mouth was full of blood. He spat it at the fat man's feet. They were in a long dim cellar with barrel-vaulted ceilings, its stone walls spotted with nitre. Casks of wine and ale surrounded them, more than enough drink to see a thirsty dwarf safely through the night. Or through a life.

"You are insolent. I like that in a dwarf." When the fat man laughed, his flesh bounced so vigorously that Tyrion was afraid he might fall and crush him. "Are you hungry, my little friend? Weary?"

"Thirsty." Tyrion struggled to his knees. "And filthy."

The fat man sniffed. "A bath first, just so. Then food and a soft bed, yes? My servants shall see to it." His host put the mallet and chisel aside. "My house is yours. Any friend of my friend across the water is a friend to Illyrio Mopatis, yes."

And any friend of Varys the Spider is someone I will trust just as far as I can throw him.

The fat man made good on the promised bath, at least... though no sooner did Tyrion lower himself into the hot water and close his eyes than he was fast asleep.

He woke naked on a goosedown featherbed so deep and soft it felt as if he were being swallowed by a cloud. His tongue was growing hair and his throat was raw, but his cock felt as hard as an iron bar. He rolled from the bed, found a chamberpot, and commenced to filling it, with a groan of pleasure.

The room was dim, but there were bars of yellow sunlight showing between the slats of the shutters. Tyrion shook the last drops off and waddled over patterned Myrish carpets as soft as new spring grass. Awkwardly he climbed the window seat and flung shudders open to see where Varys and the gods had sent him.

Beneath his window six cherry trees stood sentinel around a marble pool, their slender branches bare and brown. A naked boy stood on the water, poised to duel with a bravo's blade in hand. He was lithe and handsome, no older than sixteen, with straight blond hair that brushed his shoulders. So lifelike did he seem that it took the dwarf a long moment to realize he was made of painted marble, though his sword shimmered like true steel.

Across the pool stood stood a brick wall twelve feet high, with iron spikes along its top. Beyond that was the city. A sea of tiled rooftops crowded close around a bay. He saw square brick towers, a great red temple, a distant manse upon a hill. In the far distance sunlight shimmered off deep water. Fishing boats were moving across the bay, their sails rippling in the wind, and he could see the masts of larger ships poking up along the bay shore. Surely one is bound for Dorne, or for Eastwatch-by-the-Sea. He had no means to pay for passage, though, nor was he made to pull an oar. I suppose I could sign on as a cabin boy and earn my way by letting the crew bugger me up and down the narrow sea. He wondered where he was. Even the air smells different here. Strange spices scented the chilly autumn wind, and he could hear faint cries drifting over the wall from the streets beyond. It sounded something like Valyrian, but he did not recognize more than one word in five. Not Braavos, he concluded, nor Tyrosh. Those bare branches and the chill in the air argued against Lys and Myr and Volantis as well.

When he heard the door opening behind him, Tyrion turned to confront his fat host. "This is Pentos, yes?"

"Just so. Where else?"

Pentos. Well, it was not King's Landing, that much could be said for it. "Where do whores go?" he heard himself ask.

"Whores are found in brothels here, as in Westeros. You will have no need of such, my little friend. Choose from among my serving women. None will dare refuse you."

"Slaves?" the dwarf asked pointedly.

The fat man stroked one of the prongs of his oiled yellow beard, a gesture Tyrion fond remarkably obscene. "Slavery is forbidden in Pentos, by the terms of the treaty the Braavosi imposed on us a hundred years ago. Still, they will not refuse you." Illyrio gave a ponderous half-bow. "But now my little friend must excuse me. I have the honor to be a magister of this great city, and the prince has summoned us to session. " He smiled, showing a mouth full of crooked yellow teeth. "Explore the manse and grounds as you like, but on no account stray beyond the walls. It is best that no man knows that you were here."

"Were? Have I gone somewhere?"

"Time enough to speak of that this evening. My little friend and I shall eat and drink and make great plans, yes?"

"Yes, my fat friend," Tyrion replied. He thinks to use me for his profit. It was all profit with the merchant princes of the Free Cities. "Spice soldiers and cheese lords," his lord father called them, with contempt. Should a day ever dawn when Illyrio Mopatis saw more profit in a dead dwarf than a live one, he would find himself packed into another wine cask by dusk. It would be well if I were gone before that day arrives. That it would arrive he did not doubt; Cersei was not like to forget him, and even Jaime might be vexed to find a quarrel in Father's belly.

A light wind was riffling the waters of the pool below, all around the naked swordsman. It reminded him of how Tysha would riffle his hair during the false spring of their marriage, before he helped his father's guardsmen rape her. He had been thinking of those guardsmen during his flight, trying to recall how many there had been. You would think he might remember that, but no. A dozen? A score? A hundred? He could not say. They had all been grown men, tall and strong... though all men were tall to a dwarf of thirteen years. Tysha knew their number. Each of them had given her a silver stag, so she would only need to count the coins. A silver for each and a gold for me. His father had insisted that he pay her too. A Lannister always pays his debts.

"Wherever whores go," he heard Lord Tywin say once more, and once more the bowstring thrummed.

The magister had invited him to explore the manse. He found clean clothes in a cedar chest inlaid with lapis and mother-of-pearl. The clothes had been made for a small boy, he realized as he struggled into them. The fabrics were rich enough, if a little musty, but the cut was too long in the legs and too short in the arms, with a collar that would have turned his face as black as Joffrey's had he somehow contrived to get it fastened. At least they do not stink of vomit.

Tyrion began his explorations with the kitchen, where two fat women and a pot boy watched him warily as he helped himself to cheese, bread, and figs. "Good morrow to you, fair ladies," he said with a bow. "Do you perchance know where the whores go?" When they did not respond, he repeated the question in High Valyrian, though he had to say courtesan in place of whore. The younger fatter cook gave him a shrug that time.

He wondered what they would do if he took them by the hand and dragged them to his bedchamber. None will dare refuse you, Illyrio claimed, but somehow Tyrion did not think he meant these two. The younger woman was old enough to be his mother, and the older was likely her mother. Both were near as fat as Illyrio, with teats that were larger than his head. I could smother myself in flesh, he reflected. There were worse ways to die. The way his lord father had died, for one. I should have made him shit a little gold before expiring. Lord Tywin might have been niggardly with his approval and affection, but he had always been open-handed when it came to coin. The only thing more pitiful than a dwarf without a nose is a dwarf without a nose who has no gold.

Tyrion left the fat women to their loaves and kettles and went in search of the cellar where Illyrio had decanted him the night before. It was not hard to find. There was enough wine there to keep him drunk for a hundred years; sweet reds from the Reach and sour reds from Dorne, pale Pentoshi ambers, the green nectar of Myr, three score casks of Arbor gold, even wines from the fabled east, from Meereen and Qarth and Asshai by the Shadow. In the end, Tyrion chose a cask of strongwine marked as the private stock of Lord Runceford Redwyne, the grandfather of the present Lord of the Arbor. The taste of it was languorous and heady on the tongue, the color a purple so dark that it looked almost black in the dim-lit cellar. Tyrion filled a cup, and a flagon for good measure, and carried them up to gardens to drink beneath those cherry trees he'd seen.

As it happened, he left by the wrong door and never found the pool he had spied from his window, but it made no matter. The gardens behind the manse were just as pleasant, and far more extensive. He wandered through them for a time, drinking. The walls would have shamed any proper castle, and the ornamental iron spikes along the top looked strangely naked without heads to adorn them. Tyrion pictured how his sister's head might look up there, with tar in her golden hair and flies buzzing in and out of her mouth. Yes, and Jaime must have the spike beside her, he decided. No one must ever come between my brother and my sister.

With a rope and a grapnel he might be able to get over that wall. He strong arms and he did not weigh much. With a rope he should he able to reach the spikes and clamber over. I will search for a rope on the morrow, he resolved.

He saw three gates during his wanderings; the main entrance with its gatehouse, a postern by the kennels, and a garden gate hidden behind a tangle of pale ivy. The last was chained, the others guarded. The guards were plump, their faces as smooth as a baby's bottom, and every man of them wore a spiked bronze cap. Tyrion knew eunuchs when he saw them. He knew their sort by reputation. They feared nothing and felt no pain, it was said, and were loyal to their masters unto death. I could make good use of a few hundred of mine own, he reflected. A pity I did not think of that before I became a beggar.

He walked along a pillared gallery and through a pointed arch, and found himself in a tiled courtyard where a woman was washing clothes at a well. She looked to be his own age, with dull red hair and a broad face dotted by freckles. "Would you like some wine?" he asked her. She looked at him uncertainly. "I have no cup for you, we'll have to share." The washerwoman went back to wringing out tunics and hanging them to dry. Tyrion settled on a stone bench with his flagon. "Tell me, how far should I trust Magister Illyrio?" The name made her look up. "That far?" Chuckling, he crossed his stunted legs and took a drink. "I am loathe to play whatever part the cheesemonger has in mind for me, yet how can I refuse him? The gates are guarded. Perhaps you might smuggle me out under your skirts? I'd be so grateful, why, I'll even wed you. I have two wives already, why not three? Ah, but where would we live?" He gave her as pleasant a smile as a man with half a nose could manage. "I have a niece in Sunspear, did I tell you? I could make rather a lot of mischief in Dorne with Myrcella. I could set my niece and nephew at war, wouldn't that be droll?" The washerwoman pinned up one of Illyrio's tunics, large enough to double as a sail. "I should be ashamed to think such evil thoughts, you're quite right. Better if I sought the Wall instead. All crimes are wiped clean when a man joins the Night's Watch, they say. Though I fear they would not let me keep you, sweetling. No women in the Watch, no sweet freckly wives to warm your bed at night, only cold winds, salted cod, and small beer. Do you think I might stand taller in black, my lady?" He filled his cup again. "What do you say? North or south? Shall I atone for old sins or make some new ones?"

The washerwoman gave him one last glance, picked up her basket, and walked away. I cannot seem to hold a wife for very long, Tyrion reflected. Somehow his flagon had gone dry. Perhaps I should stumble back down to the cellars. The strongwine was making his head spin, though, and the cellar steps were very steep. "Where do whores go?" he asked the wash flapping on the line. Perhaps he should have asked the washerwoman. Not to imply that you're a whore, my dear, but perhaps you know where they go. Or better yet, he should have asked his father. "Wherever whores go," Lord Tywin said. She loved me. She was a crofter's daughter, she loved me and she wed me, she put her trust in me. The empty flagon slipped from his hand and rolled across the yard.

Grimacing, Tyrion pushed himself off the bench and went to fetch it, but as he did he saw some mushrooms growing up from a cracked paving tile. Pale white they were, with speckles, and red ribbed undersides as dark as blood. The dwarf snapped one off and sniffed it. Delicious, he thought, or deadly. But which? Why not both? He was not a brave enough man to take cold steel to his own belly, but a bite of mushroom would not be so hard. There were seven of the mushrooms, he saw. Perhaps the gods were trying to tell him something. He picked them all, snatched a glove down from the line, wrapped them carefully, and stuffed them down his pocket. The effort made him dizzy, though, so afterward he crawled back onto the bench, curled up, and shut his eyes.

When he woke again, he was back in his bedchamber, drowning in the goosedown featherbed once more while a blond girl shook his shoulder. "My lord," she said, "your bath awaits. Magister Illyrio expects you at table within the hour."

Tyrion propped himself against the pillows, his head in his hands. "Do I dream, or do you speak the Common Tongue?"

"Yes, my lord. I was bought to please the king. " She was blue-eyed and fair, young and willowy.

"I am sure you did. I need a cup of wine."

She poured for him. "Magister Illyrio said that I am to scrub your back and warm your bed. My name – "

" – is of no interest to me. Do you know where whores go?"

She flushed. "Whores sell themselves for coin."

"Or jewels, or gowns, or castles. But where do they go?"

The girl could not grasp the question. "Is it a riddle, m'lord? I'm no good at riddles. Will you tell me the answer?"

No, he thought. I despise riddles, myself. "I will tell you nothing. Do me the same favor." The only part of you that interests me is the part between your legs, he almost said. The words were on his tongue, but somehow never passed his lips. She is not Shae, the dwarf told himself, only some little fool who thinks I play at riddles. If truth be told, even her cunt did not interest him much. I must be sick, or dead. "You mentioned a bath? Show me. We must not keep the great cheesemonger waiting. "

As he bathed, the girl washed his feet, scrubbed his back, and brushed his hair. Afterward she rubbed sweet-smelling ointment into his calves to ease the aches, and dressed him once again in boy's clothing, a musty pair of burgundy breeches and a blue velvet doublet lined with cloth-of-gold. "Will my lord want me after he has eaten?" she asked as she was lacing up his boots.

"No. I am done with women." Whores.

The girl took that disappointment entirely too well for his liking. "If m'lord would prefer a boy, I can have one waiting in his bed."

M'lord would prefer his wife. M'lord would prefer a girl named Tysha. "Only if he knows where whores go."

The girl's mouth tightened. She despises me, he realized, but no more than I despise myself. That he had fucked many a woman who loathed the very sight of him, Tyrion Lannister had no doubt, but the others had at least the grace to feign affection. A little honest loathing might be refreshing, like a tart wine after too much sweet.

"I believe I have changed my mind," he told her. "Wait for me abed. Naked, if you please, I expect I'll be a deal too drunk to fumble at your clothing. Keep your mouth shut and your thighs open and the two of us should get on splendidly." He gave her a leer, hoping for a taste of fear, but all she gave him was revulsion. No one fears a dwarf. Even Lord Tywin had not been afraid, though Tyrion had held a crossbow in his hands. "Do you moan when you are being fucked?" he asked the bedwarmer.

"If it please m'lord."

"It might please m'lord to strangle you. That's how I served my last whore. Do you think your master would object? Surely not. He has a hundred more like you, but no one else like me." This time, when he grinned, he got the fear he wanted.

Illyrio was reclining on a padded couch, gobbling hot peppers and pearl onions from a wooden bowl. His brow was dotted with beads of sweat, his pig's eyes shining above his fat cheeks. Jewels danced when he moved his hands; onyx and opal, tiger's eye and tourmeline, ruby, amethyst, sapphire, emerald, jet and jade, a black diamond and a green pearl. I could live for years on his rings, Tyrion mused, though I'd need a cleaver to claim them.

"Come and sit, my little friend." Illyrio waved him closer.

The dwarf clambered up onto a chair. It was much too big for him, a cushioned throne intended to accomodate the magister's massive buttocks, with thick sturdy legs to bear his weight. Tyrion Lannister had lived all his life in a world that was too big for him, but in the manse of Illyrio Mopatis the sense of disproportion assumed grotesque dimensions. I am a mouse in a mammoth's lair, he mused, though at least the mammoth keeps a good cellar. The thought made him thirsty. He called for wine.

"Did you enjoy the girl I sent you?" Illyrio asked.

"If I had wanted a girl I would have asked for one. I lack a nose, not a tongue."

"If she failed to please... "

"She did all that was required of her."

"I would hope so. She was trained in Lys, where they make an art of love. And she speaks your Common Tongue. The king enjoyed her greatly."

"I kill kings, hadn't you heard?" Tyrion smiled evilly over his wine cup. "I want no royal leavings."

"As you wish. Let us eat." Illyrio clapped his hands together, and serving men came running.

They began with a broth of crab and monkfish, and cold egg lime soup as well. Then came quails in honey, a saddle of lamb, goose livers drowned in wine, buttered parsnips, and suckling pig. The sight of it all made Tyrion feel queasy, but he forced himself to try a spoon of soup for the sake of politeness, and once he had tasted he was lost. The cooks might be old and fat, but they knew their business. He had never eaten so well, even at court.

As he was sucking the meat off the bones of his quail, he asked Illyrio about the morning's summons. The fat man shrugged. "There are troubles in the east. Astapor has fallen, and Meereen. Ghiscari slave cities that were old when the world was young." The suckling pig was carved. Illyrio reached for a piece of the crackling, dipped it in a plum sauce, and ate it with his fingers.

"Slaver's Bay is a long way from Pentos," said Tyrion, as he speared a goose liver on the point of his knife. No man is as cursed as the kinslayer, he reminded himself, smiling.

"This is so," Illyrio agreed, "but the world is one great web, and a man dare not touch a single strand lest all the others tremble." He clapped his hands again. "Come, eat."

The serving men brough out a heron stuffed with figs, veal cutlets blanched with almond milk, creamed herring, candied onions, foul-smelling cheeses, plates of snails and sweetbreads, and a black swan in her plumage. Tyrion refused the swan, which reminded him of a supper with his sister. He helped himself to heron and herring, though, and a few of the sweet onions. And the serving men filled his wine cup anew each time he emptied it.

"You drink a deal of wine for such a little man."

"Kinslaying is dry work. It gives a man a thirst."

The fat man's eyes glittered like the gemstones on his fingers. "There are those in Westeros who would say that killing Lord Lannister was merely a good beginning. "

"They had best not say it in my sister's hearing, or they will find themselves short a tongue." The dwarf tore a loaf of bread in half. "And you had best be careful what you say of my family, magister. Kinslayer or no, I am a lion still."

That seemed to amuse the lord of cheese no end. He slapped a meaty thigh and said, "You Westerosi are all the same. You sew some beast upon a scrap of silk, and suddenly you are all lions or dragons or eagles. I can bring you to a real lion, my little friend. The prince keeps a pride in his menagerie. Would you like to share a cage with them?"

The lords of the Seven Kingdoms did make rather much of their sigils, Tyrion had to admit. "Very well," he conceded. "A Lannister is not a lion. Yet I am still my father's son, and Jaime and Cersei are mine to kill."

"How odd that you should mention your fair sister," said Illyrio, between snails. "The queen has offered a lordship to the man who brings her your head, no matter how humble his birth. "

It was no more than Tyrion had expected. "If you mean to take her up on it, make her spread her legs for you as well. The best part of me for the best part of her, that's a fair trade."

"I would sooner have mine own weight in gold." The cheesemonger laughed so hard that Tyrion feared he was about to rupture and drown his guest in a gout of half-digested eels and sweetmeats. "All the gold in Casterly Rock, why not?"

"The gold I grant you," he said, "but the Rock is mine."

"Just so." The magister covered his mouth and belched a mighty belch. "Do you think King Stannis will give it to you? I am told he is a great one for the law. He may well grant you Casterly Rock, is that not so? Your brother wears the white cloak, so you are your father's heir by all the laws of Westeros."

"Stannis might grant me the Rock," Tyrion admitted, "but there is also the small matter of regicide and kinslaying. For those he would shorten me by a head, and I am short enough as I stand. But why would you think I mean to join Lord Stannis?"

"Why else would you go the Wall?"

"Stannis is at the Wall?" Tyrion rubbed at his nose. "What in seven bloody hells is Stannis doing at the Wall?"

"Shivering, I would think. It is warmer down in Dorne. Perhaps he should have sailed that way."

Tyrion was beginning to suspect that a certain freckled washerwoman knew more of the Common Speech than she pretended. "My niece Myrcella is in Dorne, as it happens. And I have half a mind to make her a queen."

Illyrio smiled, as his serving men spooned out bowls of black cherries in sweetcream for them both. "What has this poor child done to you, that you would wish her dead?"

"Even a kinslayer is not required to slay all his kin," said Tyrion, wounded. "Queen her, I said. Not kill her."

The cheesemonger spooned up cherries. "In Volantis they use a coin with a crown on one face and a death's head on the other. Yet it is the same coin. To queen her is to kill her. Dorne might rise for Myrcella, but Dorne alone is not enough. If you are as clever as our friend insists, you know this."

Tyrion looked at the fat man with new interest. He is right on both counts. To queen her is to kill her. And I knew that. "Futile gestures are all that remain to me. This one would make my sister weep bitter tears, at least."

Magister Illyrio wiped sweetcream from his mouth with the back of a fat hand. "The road to Casterly Rock does not go through Dorne, my little friend. Nor does it run beside the Wall. Yet there is such a road, I tell you."

"I am an attainted traitor, a regicide and kinslayer." This talk of roads annoyed him. Does he think this is a game? "What one king does another may undo. In Pentos we have a prince, my friend. He presides at ball and feast and rides about the city in a palanquin of ivory and gold. Three heralds go before him with the golden scales of trade, the iron sword of war, and the silver scourge of justice. On the first day of each new year he must deflower the maid of the fields and the maid of the seas. " Illyrio leaned forward, elbows on the table. "Yet should a crop fail or a war be lost, we cut his throat to appease the gods, and choose a new prince from amongst the forty families."

Tyrion snorted through the stump of his nose. "Remind me never to become the Prince of Pentos."

"Are your Seven Kingdoms so different? There is no peace in Westeros, no justice, no faith... and soon enough no food. When men are starving and sick of fear, they look for a savior."

"They may look, but if all they find is Stannis – "

"Not Stannis. Nor Myrcella. Another." The yellow smile widened. "Another. Stronger than Tommen, gentler than Stannis, with a better claim than the girl Myrcella. A savior come from across the sea to bind up the wounds of bleeding Westeros."

"Fine words." Tyrion was unimpressed. "Words are wind. Who is this bloody savior?"

"A dragon." The cheesemonger saw the look on his face at that, and laughed. "A dragon with three heads."

A Dance With Dragons by George R.

R. MartinProsecraft: A Dance With Dragons by George R. R. Martin

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We’ve analyzed hundreds of millions of words, from thousands of different authors, training our linguistic models to recognize the most vivid words in the English language… the words that create the most intense sensory experiences: colors, textures, sounds, flavors, and aromas.

Based on our analysis, we’ve scanned through the pages of this book to find the two pages at the extremes, both the most-passive and the most-vivid pages, so that you can compare them side-by-side and see the difference:

Masters. Who else would it be?” He is as bold as he is bloody. “We have no proof this is their work. Would you have me slaughter my own subjects?” “Your own subjects would gladly slaughter you. ” He had been so long away, Dany had almost forgotten what he was. Sellswords were treacherous by nature, she reminded herself. Fickle, faithless, brutal. He will never be more than he is. He will never be the stuff of kings. “The pyramids are strong,” she explained to him. “We could take them only at great cost. The moment we attack one the others will rise against us.” “Then winkle them out of their pyramids on some pretext. A wedding might serve. Why not? Promise your hand to Hizdahr and all the Great Masters will come to see you married. When they gather in the Temple of the Graces, turn us loose upon them.” Dany was appalled. He is a monster. A gallant monster, but a monster still. “Do you take me for the Butcher King?” “Better the butcher than the meat. All kings are butchers. Are queens so different?” “This queen is.” Daario shrugged. “Most queens have no purpose but to warm some king’s bed and pop out sons for him. If that’s the sort of queen you mean to be, best marry Hizdahr.” Her anger flashed. “Have you forgotten who I am?” “No. Have you?” Viserys would have his head off for that insolence. “I am the blood of the dragon. Do a fist-sized chunk of chalk from his pouch and mark each cask and sack and barrel as he counted them while Marsh compared the new count to the old. In the granaries were oats and wheat and barley, and barrels of coarse ground flour. In the root cellars strings of onions and garlic dangled from the rafters, and bags of carrots, parsnips, radishes, and white and yellow turnips filled the shelves. One storeroom held wheels of cheese so large it took two men to move them. In the next, casks of salt beef, salt pork, salt mutton, and salt cod were stacked ten feet high. Three hundred hams and three thousand long black sausages hung from ceiling beams below the smokehouse. In the spice locker they found peppercorns, cloves, and cinnamon, mustard seeds, coriander, sage and clary sage and parsley, blocks of salt. Elsewhere were casks of apples and pears, dried peas, dried figs, bags of walnuts, bags of chestnuts, bags of almonds, planks of dry smoked salmon, clay jars packed with olives in oil and sealed with wax. One storeroom offered potted hare, haunch of deer in honey, pickled cabbage, pickled beets, pickled onions, pickled eggs, and pickled herring. As they moved from one vault to another, the wormways seemed to grow colder. Before long Jon could see their breath frosting in the lantern light. “We’re beneath the Wall.” “And soon inside it,” said Marsh. “The meat won’t spoil in the cold. For long storage, it’s better than salting
emotional story arc

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Read online A Dance with Dragons. Book 2. Sparks Above the Ashes, by George R. R. Martin - LitRes

Black cold ash was baked in the hearth - only candles gave weak heat. Their flames trembled every time the door was opened, and the bride trembled with them. She was dressed in a dress of white wool, trimmed with lace, embroidered with river pearls on the bodice and sleeves. The white buckskin shoes were beautiful, but not warm at all. There was no blood in the girl's face.

Like ice, Theon Greyjoy thought as he draped a fur cloak around her shoulders. “Like the dead buried in the snow.”

- It's time, milady. - Music was playing outside the door - a lute, a bagpipe and a drum.

The bride looked up at him with her brown, candlelit eyes.

- I will be a good, faithful wife to him. I will please him in everything, I will give him sons. The real Arya couldn't do that.

Talking like that will get her killed or worse - Theon learned this lesson when he was Stinky.

- You are the real Arya, milady. Arya of House Stark, daughter of Lord Eddard, heiress of Winterfell. - Name. She must verify her name. “Arya is an annoyance, Arya is a horse.

- I myself came up with this nickname for her: she has a horse's face. Tears finally welled up in her eyes. - Of course, I was not as beautiful as Sansa, but everyone said that I was pretty. Does Lord Ramsey think so too?

“Yes,” Theon lied. - He told me himself.

- It doesn't matter... He knows who I really am. Always looking angry, even when smiling. They say he likes to torture people.

- Don't listen to stupid fables, my lady.

- They say he tormented you too. Your hands and…

“I deserve it,” Theon said with dry lips. - Angry him. Remember this and do not repeat my mistake. Lord Ramsey is a good man, kind. Be a good wife to him and everything will work out.

Help me! the girl screamed, clutching at his sleeve. - I often watched you fence in the yard ... You were so handsome. Let's run away together! I will be your wife... or mistress, as you wish.

- Impossible. Theon pulled out his sleeve. “Be Arya and everything will work out. Please him in everything and never say that you are not Arya. Janey, he thought, that's what her name is. The music was loud and insistent. We have to go, wipe your tears. Her eyes are brown, and they should be grey. Someone will surely notice and remember. - That's good. Now smile.

The girl showed her teeth with incredible effort. Pretty teeth, white... they wouldn't last long if she pissed off Ramsey. Theon opened the door, and three of the four candles went out. He led the bride into the fog, where the guests were waiting.

"Why me?" he asked when Lady Dustin said he would lead the bride.

"Her father and brothers are dead, mother died in Gemini, her uncles are captured or missing."

“She has another brother. “Three brothers, to tell the truth. "Jon Snow of the Night's Watch."

“He is only half her brother, a bastard and bound by an oath. You were a pupil of her father, she had no one closer to you - who should be planted by her father, if not you.

There is no one left closer... Theon Greyjoy and Arya Stark grew up together. Theon would have recognized the imposter immediately. Since he marries the bride, the northern lords have no reason to dispute this marriage. Stout, Slate, Amber Death to Whores, grumpy Riswells, Hornwood people, Cerwyn's kin - none of them know Ned Stark's daughters better than Theon. And if anyone harbors doubts, let him spread his mind and keep all his thoughts to himself.

The Boltons use him to cover up their deception. Dressed up like a lord and sent to play the role. Once the false Arya becomes Ramsey's lawful wife, Lord Roose will no longer need Theon the Quick-witted. "Do us this service, and after defeating Stannis, we will consider how to restore your inheritance rights to you," His Grace said in his low voice, made for lies. Theon did not believe a single word he said. He will dance this dance for them - because he has no choice - and after that they will give it back to Ramsey, who will take a few more fingers from him and turn Theon back into Stinky. If only the gods had mercy and sent Stannis to Winterfell to put everyone here to the sword... including Theon. It's the best you can hope for.

In the godswood, oddly enough, it was warmer than inside. Above the rest of the castle there is a white frosty fog, the paths are icy, the broken glass of the greenhouses sparkle with hoarfrost in the moonlight. Dirty snow lies everywhere in heaps, covering ashes and coals; here and there charred beams or heaps of bones with tattered leather stick out from under it. The walls and towers are overgrown with a beard of icicles as long as a spear - but there is no snow in the godswood, and steam rises from the hot ponds, warm as the breath of a child.

Bride in white and grey; the same colors the real Arya would wear if she were to live to see her own wedding. Theon himself in black and gold; the cloak at the shoulder is fastened with an iron kraken forged by a Barrowton smith for the occasion. But under the hood are thinning gray hair, and his skin is gray, like that of a decrepit old man. Finally, he became a Stark. He and his bride, dispersing the fog, passed under a stone arch. The drum beat like a girl's heart, the bagpipes promised happiness. The moon looked at them from the mist, as if through a silk veil.

Theon is no stranger to this godswood. He used to play here as a boy, throw pebbles across the cold black pond under the weirwood, hide his treasures in the hollow of an old oak tree, steal squirrels with a homemade bow in his hand. And when he grew up, he treated bruises in hot springs after training fights with Robb, Jory and Jon Snow. These chestnuts, elms and guard pines gave him a place of refuge, allowing him to be alone. Here he kissed a girl for the first time and here he became a man, already with another, on a tattered blanket over there under that tall guard tree.

But he had never seen a godswood like this - ghostly, with lights and whispers coming from nowhere. Gray steam creeps up the walls, clouding the empty windows.

Paved with mossy stone, the path is barely visible under the dirt, fallen leaves and roots. The bride's name is Janey, but this name cannot be pronounced even in thoughts, otherwise you will pay with your finger or ear. Due to the lack of toes on his feet, Theon stepped slowly - there was still not enough to stumble. For such an oversight, Lord Ramsey will skin him.

The steam is so thick that only nearby trees can be seen - only shadows and lights further away. Candles are placed along the path and between the trunks, they flicker in the darkness like fireflies. As if in that place between the worlds where sinful souls wander in anticipation of the underworld assigned to them. Maybe they were all really dead, killed in their sleep by Stannis suddenly appearing? Maybe the alleged battle has already taken place?

Here and there the red lights of torches illuminate the faces of the guests. The play of shadows in the fog turns them into beasts and monsters: Lord Stout is the spitting image of a mastiff, old Lord Locke is a kite, Amber Death to Whores is a gargoyle, Big Walder is a fox, Small Walder is a red bull, only the nose ring is missing. And Roose Bolton's face resembles a pale gray mask with two dirty pieces of ice instead of eyes.

The trees are full of crows, sitting on bare branches with their feathers fluffed up and looking at what is happening below. Maester Luwin is killed, the crow tower is burned down, but the birds survive and this is their home. Theon has forgotten what it feels like to have a home.

The fog parted and opened a new picture, like a curtain on a theater. Here it is, a heart-tree with widely spread bone branches. Red and brown fallen leaves lie in heaps around a thick white trunk. There are the most crows here - they talk to each other in a secret language, like villains. Standing under a tree is Ramsey Bolton, wearing high boots of gray leather, a black velvet doublet with pink silk slits, embellished with pomegranate tears. The lips are wet, the neck above the collar is red.

- Who is there? - he asked. Who asks for the blessings of the gods?

- Arya of the House Stark, - answered Theon, - legitimate, adult and flourishing. Who wants to take her for himself?

- I am Ramsay of the House of Bolton, Lord of Hornwood and heir of the Dreadfort. Who is giving it away?

- Theon of the House of Greyjoy raised by her father. Lady Arya, do you take this man as your husband?

She looked up at him, brown eyes, not grey. Don't they see it, fool? Prayer was in his eyes. You won't get another chance, thought Theon. - Tell them now. Call out your name - let the whole North hear that you are not Arya, that you were forced to impersonate her. After that, of course, she would die, and he too, but maybe Ramsey, in a fit of anger, would kill them quickly.

“I'm taking it,” she said in a whisper.

A hundred candles flickered in the mist. Theon stepped back. The bride and groom joined hands and knelt, bowing their heads in front of the heart-tree. The face on the trunk looked at them with red eyes, laughing with a red mouth. Above, a raven croaked.

After a few moments of silent prayer, they rose. Ramsay took off the cloak that Theon had thrown over the bride's shoulders - white, woolen, trimmed with gray fur, with the emblem of the Stark direwolf - and replaced it with pink, embroidered with garnets, like his doublet. On the back was sewn a Dreadfort skinned man cut out of red leather.

That's it. Weddings in the North, in the absence of priests and septons, are performed quickly - and for the better. Ramsay took his wife in his arms and carried her through the mist. Lord Bolton and Lady Wolda followed, followed by the rest. The music began to play again, Abelbard, accompanied by two female voices, sang "Two hearts beat as one."

“Shall I pray?” thought Theon. Will the old gods hear him? He has his own god, Drowned, but Winterfell is so far from the sea... and he hasn't spoken to any of the gods for so long. Who did he become, who was he before, why is he still alive and why was he born into the world?

“Theon,” someone called softly… but who? There is no one around, except for the trees shrouded in mist. A whisper, as quiet as the rustle of leaves, pierced him with cold. Is God calling him or a ghost? How many died when he took Winterfell, how many on the day he lost the castle? Theon Greyjoy himself also died then, reborn as Stinky.

He wanted to leave as soon as possible.

Outside the godswood, the cold attacked him like a wolf. Bowing his head against the wind, Theon walked along the line of candles and torches to the Great Hall. Snow crunched under boots; the hood that prevented one of the ghosts from looking into Theon's face was blown away.

Winterfell is full of ghosts. This is no longer the castle that he remembered in the summer of his youth. Now it is a ruin, a haven for the dead and crows. The double fortress wall survived - granite does not succumb to fire - but there were almost no roofs left on the towers and other buildings, and some even collapsed. Fire devoured wood and reeds, glass was broken, hothouse plants that could have fed the castle all winter died in the cold. There are tents covered with snow in the courtyard: Ruse Bolton has placed his army and the soldiers of his friends Freys here. All yards, basements and destroyed buildings are filled to capacity.

Only the barracks and the kitchen have been covered with a roof, from which smoke now oozes. Of all the colors in the castle, only gray and white, the colors of the Starks, remained. Is this a bad sign or a good one? The sky is gray too; everything is gray everywhere you look, except for the eyes of the bride. She has them brown, and they are filled with fear. In vain did she turn to him as a savior. That he would take her away on a winged horse, like the hero of fairy tales that Sansa and Janey once heard? He can't help himself either. Stinky - he is Stinky.

Frost-covered corpses of those who arbitrarily inhabited the castle are hung all over the courtyard. Bolton's men, having driven them out of their holes where they huddled, hanged the most impudent, and put the rest to work. "Be diligent and I will show you mercy," said Lord Bolton. First of all, they erected new gates in place of those burned and brought the Great Hall under the roof. When the workers had finished all their tasks, Lord Bolton hung them too. He did not break the word and showed mercy to them: he did not remove the skin from any of them.

By this time the rest of the army had arrived. Above the walls of Winterfell, where the north wind blew, they raised the stag and lion of King Tommen, and below him, the flayed Dreadfort man. Theon arrived at the castle with Lady Dustin, her Barrowton retainers, and her fiancée. Lady Barbree had insisted that she would be the guardian of Lady Arya until her marriage, and now her powers had ended. The girl, having uttered the appropriate words, became Ramsey's and made him Lord of Winterfell. He wouldn't hurt her unless Janey did something to anger him... No, not Janey. Arya.

Theon's hands ached even in fur-lined gloves - missing fingers were especially annoying. Have women ever been thrilled by his caresses? He declared himself the Prince of Winterfell, and everything went from there. He thought that his exploits would be sung and told for at least a hundred years. But they called him Theon the Quick-witted; if the stories go around, then only about his betrayal. But Winterfell never became his home: he lived here as a hostage, and the shadow of a great sword always separated them from Lord Eddard. The Lord treated him well, but showed no tender feelings, knowing that the pupil might one day have to be killed.

Theon, eyes downcast, made his way between the tents. In this court, he trained to be a warrior, fought with Robb and Jon Snow under the supervision of the old Ser Rodrik. Then the fingers were still intact, and he covered the hilt of the sword without difficulty. Gloomy memories coexist with bright memories: it was here that he gathered Stark's people on the night when Bran and Rickon fled the castle. Ramsey, who then called Stinky himself, stood beside him and whispered in his ear that it would not be bad to skin someone from someone: then the servants would instantly tell where the boys had gone. “As long as I rule Winterfell, no one will be flayed,” Theon declared, unaware of how little he had left to rule. He knew these people for half his life, and they did not want to help him. Nevertheless, he defended both the castle and his household, until Ramsey, throwing off the guise of Stinky, killed them. Theon's squad was also all killed; the last thing he remembered was his horse Smiling, with a burning mane and distraught eyes. Here, in this very yard.

Here are the doors of the Great Hall - new, hastily put together. The spearmen guarding them were wrapped in fur cloaks, their beards iced over. Theon, who pushed the right sash and slipped inside, they followed with envious glances.

Fortunately, it was warm in the hall. The torches burned brightly, and Theon had never seen so many people here. The benches were tightly seated, and even the lords and knights above the salt got less space than usual.

Abel strummed the lute at the platform and sang "Beautiful Maidens of Summer". Lord Manderly brought musicians from White Harbor, but there were no singers among them - it was then that Abel appeared at the gate with a lute and six women. “My two sisters, my two daughters, my wife and mother,” he introduced them, although there was no family resemblance between them. - They dance and sing, and they can wash clothes. One plays the bagpipes, the other the drums.

He also played and sang quite well - the best in these ruins could not be found.

Banners hung on the walls: Riswell's assorted horse heads, the roaring giant of House Umber, the Flint stone hand, the Hornwood elk, the water Manderly, the Servyn black axe, the Tolhart pines. The bright panels did not completely hide the black-burned walls and window holes clogged with boards, but the brand new rafters had not yet had time to become covered with soot.

The biggest banners were located at the high table: a dire wolf behind the bride, a flayed man behind the groom. The Stark banner struck Theon no less than the brown eyes of the young one. Instead, the coat of arms of the House of Bullet should have hung here: a blue dish on a white field, bordered by a gray ribbon.

"Theon the Quick-witted," someone said.

Many turned away when he walked by, or even spat. How else. He treacherously took Winterfell, killed his sworn brothers, lured his countrymen out of Moat Cailin to a cruel death, put his named sister into Lord Ramsey's bed. Roose Bolton may still need it, but other northerners only cause well-deserved contempt.

And then there's the gait - because of the crippled left leg, he hobbled like a crab. The woman laughs... even in this frozen realm of death there are women. Washerwomen - that's what they are called so as not to use the ugly word "whores".

It is not clear where they come from - they just appear like worms on a corpse or crows after a battle. Some are experienced, able to take twenty men a night and drink any of them, others are like your innocent maidens. There are also marching wives: she will perform such a wedding ceremony with a soldier in front of one of the gods, and after the war he will immediately leave her. She sleeps with him at night, patches his boots in the morning, cooks dinner in the evening. If they kill him, they will rob the dead man. Some do the laundry, many are dragged around by dirty kids. And such a woman is laughing at him, Theon! Nothing, let. His pride has perished here in Winterfell: it has no place in the dungeons of the Dreadfort. The one who knew the kiss of the skinning knife, laughter ceases to hurt.

By right of birth, he takes a place at the end of a high table, against the wall. To his left sits Lady Dustin, as always in black, without a single ornament, to his right there is no one. They are afraid that his dishonor will spread to them.

Roose Bolton offered a toast in honor of Lady Arya.

- In her children, our two ancient families will unite, and the enmity between the Starks and the Boltons will end. He spoke so quietly that everyone fell silent, hearing prickly. "It's a pity our good friend Stannis is late," this caused laughter, "Ramsay was so hoping to offer his head as a gift to Lady Arya. " The laughter intensified. “When he arrives, we will give him a proper welcome, like real northerners, but in the meantime we will eat, drink and be merry. Winter is about to come, my friends, and few of us will live to see spring.

The Lord of White Harbor brought food and drinks for the wedding table. Beer - you want dark, you want light, not to mention the wines brought from the south and aged in its deep cellars. Guests devoured fish pies, pumpkin, turnips, cheese, hot lamb, fried beef ribs. Soon it was the turn of three wedding cakes the size of a cart wheel. Inside they didn’t have anything: carrots, onions, the same turnips, mushrooms, pork in thick gravy. Ramsey cut them with his falchion, and Lord Wyman himself served: the first portions to Lord Roose and his fat wife, nee Frey, following to Ser Hostin and Ser Aenys, sons of Walder Frey.

“You have never tasted anything like this, my lords,” he said. – Wash it down with Borsky gold and savor every bite, my advice to you.

He himself crushed six slices, two from each pie, and smacked his lips and stroked his stomach. He had crumbs stuck in his beard, and his coat was stained with sauce. Even Fat Wolda, who had eaten three pieces, could not keep up with him. Ramsey also ate on both cheeks, but the young one did not swallow a single bite. When she looked up, Theon saw that they were still full of fear.

Swords were not allowed in the hall, but every man, even Theon Greyjoy, had a dagger with him to cut meat with. Looking at the former Janey Poole, he felt a chill of steel on his side. He can not save her, but to kill - which is easier. Ask a lady to dance and slit her throat, do a good deed. And if the old gods have mercy, then Ramsey will kill him on the spot. Theon was not afraid of death: in the dungeons of the Dreadfort, he experienced much more terrible torment. This lesson, which Ramsey taught him finger by finger, he will not forget until the end of his days.

“You don't eat anything,” said Lady Dustin.

- Don't feel like... - He has too few teeth left in his mouth to enjoy food. Drinking is easier, although the cup also has to be held with both hands.

- In vain. Such a pork pie, according to our fat friend, we have not yet eaten. The lady waved her bowl towards Lord Manderly. Have you ever seen such a happy fat man? He almost dances and serves the plates himself.

The Lord of White Harbor was indeed the portrait of a burly jolly fellow - he laughed, clapped other lords on the backs and called up the music.

- Sing "End of the Night" for us, singer - I know the bride will like it. Otherwise, tell us about the brave Danny Flint, so that we all shed tears.

- You might think that he is the newlywed.

"He's just drunk," Theon said.

- He drowns his fear, unfortunate coward.

Coward? Theon wasn't sure. The sons of Viman, equally fat, did not disgrace themselves in battle.

- It is also customary in the Iron Islands to feast before battle. The proximity of death gives life a special sweetness. If Stannis comes here...

“He will come, where will he go,” the lady chuckled. “And when that happens, the fat man will wet his pants.” His son was killed at the Red Wedding, and he shares bread and salt with the Freys, hosts them, promises his granddaughter to one of them, and serves them a pie. In the old days, the Manderlys fled to the North from the south, giving up their lands and castles to the enemy, and blood will always show itself. I have no doubt that the fat man would willingly kill us all, only the spirit, despite the abundance of flesh, he lacks. Beneath all that fat beats a heart as cowardly as... as yours.

It lashed Theon like a whip, but he didn't dare to respond with the same harshness. The hunt was to pay with one's own skin for insolence.

- If my lady thinks Lord Manderley is plotting treason, Lord Bolton should be told.

- Do you think Ruse doesn't know? Nonsense. Look how he watches over Manderly, and notice he won't touch anything until Lord Wyman tastes it first. He will not sip wine until he drinks from the same keg. Ruse will only be happy if the fat man tries to betray us. He's insensitive, Bolton. Leeches, whom he loves so much, have long sucked all the passions out of him. Love, hate, grief - for him just a game. Some hunt with hounds, others with hawks, others throw dice, and Ruse plays with people. You, me, the Freys, the Manderlys, your new fat wife, even your bastard; we are all figures in his game. Lady Barbri offered a cup to the servant and motioned for him to fill Theon's cup. “To tell the truth, one lordship is not enough for him. Why not a kingdom? Tywin Lannister is dead, the Kingslayer is crippled, the Imp is on the run. The Lannisters are gone, and you have kindly delivered Bolton from the Starks. Old Walder Frey wouldn't mind if his little Walda was made Queen of the North. Objections may come from White Harbor, but somehow I don't think Lord Wyman will survive the coming battle - and neither will Stannis. Ruse will remove them, as he removed the Young Wolf, and then who will remain?

“You,” Theon replied. “Lady of Barrowton, widow of Dustin, née Riswell.”

“Yes,” agreed Lady Barbree, pleased, “I could stop him. Ruse, of course, also knows about this and therefore tries to please me.

She wanted to say something else, but then three maesters entered the lord's door behind the platform - one long, the other plump, the third quite a youth, but similar, like three gray peas from one pod. Medric served Lord Hornwood before the war, Rhodri served Lord Servin, young Henley served Lord Slate. Roose Bolton summoned them all to Winterfell to send and receive letters from Maester Luwin's ravens.

“If I were queen, the first thing I would do is kill those gray rats,” Lady Dustin hissed. Medric, bending his knee, was speaking into Lord Roose's ear. “They scurry about, eating the leftovers of the lords, whispering to each other and whispering things to their masters - it is not clear which of them are masters and which are servants. Every big lord has a maester, every little lord dreams of having one. If you don't have it, you don't seem to matter. Gray rats read and write letters even to illiterate lords - how can you understand if they have added something of themselves? What is the use of them, pray tell?

“They heal,” Theon said.

- Yes. You can't refuse their cunning. When we are weak and most vulnerable, they are right there. Sometimes they heal the sick and accept gratitude from us, sometimes they are powerless and comfort the mourners, for which we are again grateful. As a sign of gratitude, we give them a place under our roof and admit them to all our shameful secrets. Nothing can be done without their advice - lo and behold, the adviser has taken over the reins of government. That is exactly what happened to Lord Rickard Stark. His rat was called Maester Valis. It's smart, isn't it, that even when they enter the Citadel, they manage with only one name? No one knows who they really are and where they came from - but if you dig, you can find out. Our Maester Valis, before he forged his chain, was called Valis Flowers. Flowers, Hills, Rivers, Snows, we call the bastards to mark them, but they cleverly get rid of their nicknames. Valis's mother was a maiden, Hightower, and his father was said to be an Archmaester of the Citadel. The gray rats are not as chaste as they want us to believe, and the worst of all are the old towns. His father put him in Winterfell, pouring honey poison into Lord Rickard's ears. Marriage to Tully, that's what he wanted...

“My friends,” Roose Bolton said as he stood up. The hall fell silent, so deep that Theon could hear the wind blowing through the cracks of the boarded-up windows. “Stannis and his knights have left Mirkwood under the banner of their new red god. Behind them ride the mountain clans on shaggy horses. In two weeks, if the weather holds, they might be here. Along the Kingsroad is Amber Ravenmeat, from the east is Karstark. They intend to meet Lord Stannis at the walls of this castle and take Winterfell.

- We must meet them! cried Ser Hostin Frey. Why let them connect?

"Because the traitor Arnolf Karstark is only waiting for a sign from Lord Bolton," Theon answered mentally. Bolton, meanwhile, threw up his hands, urging the advising lords to silence.

- Let's not discuss this in the hall, my lords, let's gather in the upper room. My son will seal his marriage that hour, and let the rest eat their fill and drink their fill.

The Lord of the Dreadfort came out with the maesters; other lords and captains rose after him. Old Hoser Umber, known as the Death of Whores, was as gloomy as a cloud, Lord Manderly was so drunk that four strong men led him out of the hall.

“Sing to us about the Rat Chef, singer,” he muttered.

Lady Dustin was going to be among the last to leave. Theon only now realized how much he had drunk. Rising from the table, he knocked the damask out of the hands of the waiter and poured red wine over his breeches and boots.

Someone's five fingers dug into his shoulder, hard as iron.

“Wait, Stinky,” said Alin-Kislyai, breathing on him with rotten teeth. With him were Yellow Dick and Damon Dancer. “Ramsey tells you to escort his bride to the bedchamber.

Theona was trembling. He's already played his part - what more does Ramsey want from him? Obviously, he didn't object.

Lord Ramsey has already left the hall. The young one sat huddled under the banner of House Stark, holding a silver goblet in both hands—drained more than once, by the look in her eyes. She thinks it is clear that the wine will ease her torments; I should have asked Theon first.

- Come, Lady Arya, it's time to do your duty.

Six bastard boys accompanied them through the courtyard to the big castle. Three flights of stairs led up to Lord Ramsey's bedchamber, one of the rooms that had hardly been touched by the fire. Damon whistled along the way, Flayer boasting that Lord Ramsey had promised to give him a bloody sheet.

The bedchamber was furnished with new furniture brought in from Barrowton, the feather bed was hung with red velvet canopy, the stone floor was covered with wolf skins. A fire was burning in the hearth, and a candle was on the table by the bed. A wine damask and two bowls were placed on the sideboard, and half a circle of white cheese with streaks was placed.

Lord Ramsey was waiting for them in a carved black oak chair with red leather on the seat.

- And here is my sweet little wife. Thanks guys. Go, just let Stinky stay.

Missing fingers - one on the right hand, two on the left - cramped. The dagger weighed heavily on the belt. On the right, only the little finger is missing, Theon is still able to hold the knife.

- Awaiting your orders, my lord.

- You gave it to me, so unwrap your present. Let's see what Ned Stark's daughter is like.

“What a daughter! Ramsey knows, can't help but know, what kind of game is he up to? The girl was trembling all over, like a doe.

- Please, turn your back, Lady Arya, - I will unlace your dress.

"Too long," said Ramsey, pouring himself some more wine. - Cut it.

Theon took out a dagger. Now he understood Ramsey's intention - it was enough to remember Kira with the keys. The lord tempts Theon to raise a knife on him so that he can then flay the skin from the criminal hand.

- Stand still, milady. - Theon ripped open her skirt and moved the blade up, trying not to hurt the skin. Wool and silk disintegrated, yielding to the knife. The girl was shaking so much that I had to grab her above the elbow, as far as my left hand allowed. - Quietly.

The dress fell at her feet.

“Lingerie too,” Ramsey ordered.

Small sharp breasts, narrow girlish hips, thin legs were exposed. Just a child ... Theon had forgotten how young she was. Sansa's age, Arya is even younger. The room was cold despite the fire, and Janey's pale skin was covered in goosebumps. The girl raised her hands to her chest, but Theon said no with his lips, and she lowered her hands.

- Well, Stinky, what do you say?

What answer does he expect? “Everyone said I was pretty…” Nobody would say that now. Thin lines are visible on the back - she was beaten with a whip.

- Fine, my lord, wonderfully fine.

Ramsey's wet lips broke into a smile.

- What, Stinky, are you standing there? Do you want to take it first? The Prince of Winterfell has a right to it, as all lords once did. But you're not a lord, are you? Not even a man. Ramsay threw the bowl against the wall, and red rivers flowed over the stone. “Go to bed, Arya, like this. And spread your legs, let's look at your beauty.

Theon stepped back towards the door. Ramsey, sitting on the bed with his wife, put two fingers inside. She let out a pained sigh.

- Dry as old bone. Ramsey slapped his wife. “I was told you know how to please a man. Lie, come out?

- N-no, my lord. I was t-taught.

- Come here, Stinky, cook it for me.

- My lord, so I'm...

- Tongue, cudgel. And move: if it does not get wet while I undress, I will cut off your tongue and nail it to the wall.

From the godswood came the cry of a raven. Theon sheathed his dagger.

Stinky Stinky Dunghill.

Rules of the game Game of Thrones. Dance with dragons

Product code: 327794

990 ₽

Winter is coming

And you can play it with the addition to the big Game of Thrones. Dance with dragons: almost trampled Starks, mad Boltons and Greyjoys, insidious Martells and Lannisters hiding with the Tyrells. The add-on brings 7 new cards to each of the houses, so you gather six of you and start the last battle in this powerful military strategy.

What are we doing?

With this addition, the Game lasts only six rounds, or even less if one of you captures seven castles first. Some cards give effects from their combinations, for example, with Stinky in the court of Ramsey Bolton is capable of more.

Why is Game of Thrones so good?

  • Firstly, this is a carefully crafted world, and it is a pleasure to transfer it to the table. Map of Westeros on cardboard detailed, accurate and easy to navigate. Moreover, the geographical position of the armies really affects their actions and capabilities.
  • Secondly, these are equally carefully written heroes and balanced forces of each house. Heroes delight fans and help their armies. At the same time, their problems are also spelled out. For example, the Tyrrells have a sea, but their fleet is not nearly as large as that of the Greyjoys. It turns out that they need to support their allies and not lose territory because of these salty invaders.
  • Thirdly, it is an interesting and unusual mechanics. In the game, you will need to base your positions on the Diplomacy, Power, and War tracks. You are constantly drawing event cards and running into each other on the field.

To whom to give this beautiful box?

  • For those who already have the main Game of Thrones box,
  • Fans of books, series, the world of George our Martin,
  • For those to whom you and your friends make a big gift from the base game and all add-ons,
  • Connoisseurs of really good military strategies with interesting mechanics,
  • Fans of war games in a medieval and fantasy setting.

Supplement composition

  • 42 House cards - seven generals for each,
  • 6 Scenario cards Dance with Dragons,
  • Rules of the game.

All cards in this expansion are marked with the Dance with Dragons symbol. This way you can easily distinguish them from the components of the base game.

This expansion features a 6-player scenario that reflects the balance of power and events from A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons. For this, 42 new House cards and 6 scenario preparation cards are used.

House cards

The House cards featured in this expansion are compatible with both the A Dance with Dragons scenario and the base game. If you decide to use them, return all 42 House cards from the base game to the box and replace them with cards from the expansion.

Rules of the game

Number of players 3 to 6 players
Player age From 13 years old
Game time 120 to 180 minutes
Weight 0.

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