A Dance with Dragons-Chapter 29

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Davos IV
A Dance with Dragons chapter
POV Davos Seaworth
Place White Harbor
Page 382 UK HC (Other versions)
Chapter chronology (All)
Davos III
Jon VI  ← Davos IV →  Daenerys V


Davos, still imprisoned in the Wolf's Den, is awaiting his death and hopes that he will at least die honorably, losing his head first and not his hands. He passes his time chatting to the guards, gaining a few favours in the form of candles, books, paper & a quill, as well as learning a little more about the general history of the north. Davos writes a few letters to his sons to be delivered upon his death. It is then that Robett Glover appears at his door and politely asks him to follow; Davos is wary but notes his mannerisms and follows.

He is led through secret hallways always going in different directions, passing the old godswood on the way. Eventually they end up in a room of the New Castle where Lord Wyman Manderly is waiting for him. He declines the offers of food and wine; Lord Wyman though, apologizes for his poor treatment of Davos. Wyman tells him that they must talk fast, as the Freys wait above, and Davos can hear the sounds of music and chatter above. Lord Wyman says that they must act quickly for Davos is "dead" and his head sits upon the Seal Gate. A criminal similar in appearance to Davos was executed in his place, his head and hands (with fingers carefully shortened) mounted on the wall. He then learns that Lord Wyman Manderly only plays along with the Freys because he has to, as his son Wylis Manderly is being held hostage, though he drinks for his safe return.[1]

Davos says he was quite convinced by Wyman's daughters' behaviour, though he was confused by Wylla Manderly. Wyman responds that his young granddaughter was extremely brave to have said those things. There was truth in her words as the debt the Manderlys owe the Starks and Winterfell can never be repaid. He adds though that he cannot show any sign of contempt to King's Landing for fear of the harm they might do to his son. Tywin Lannister told Wyman that he must confess his treason, yield White Harbor, declare his loyalty to King Tommen, and bend his knee to Roose Bolton. If he refused, Wylis would be killed as a traitor, White Harbor would be sacked and his people would "suffer the same fates as the Reynes of Castamere". If he complies, his son will be released. By "killing" Davos, he has proved his loyalty to the Iron Throne and assured the release of Wylis, which Davos notes is a brave move.

Wyman adds that he has been unable to send Stannis more information in his letters because the Freys infest his court, looking for any sign of treachery and his maester Theomore is a distant cousin to the Lannisters, so Manderly does not trust him. Manderly goes on to add his rage at his son Wendel Manderly's death at the hands of the Freys, calling it murder and the Freys' claims fables. He tells Davos that the North remembers and his son is home, meaning that his act for the Freys is almost over as well.

He then summons Theon's mute squire Wex, who survived the Sack of Winterfell. Davos is told by Robett that Theon was captured at Winterfell, and is currently being flayed by the Boltons. He adds that all the women were also captured and marched away. Davos listens to the horrible things that Ramsay Bolton does to the captured women, sending them naked into the woods with half a day's head start before hunting them down with his dogs. Every so often, according to Manderly, some wench lives to tell the tale, but most aren't as lucky. If caught, they are raped, flayed and their corpses fed to his dogs, while their skins adorn the Dreadfort. If he considered them good sport, he slits their throats before he flays them, otherwise it is the other way around.

Robett tells a stunned Davos that the evil is in Ramsay's blood, sired from rape. Wyman adds that the Freys are no better than Ramsay. He also tells Davos that Roose lies and played a darker part in the Red Wedding than he has admitted. In addition, Davos is told that the Boltons and Freys know the northmen are not expected to believe their lies but will be forced to accept them or else die as well.

He tells Davos about the mighty fleet he has built up, which Davos saw when he entered the port. Furthermore he has plenty of silver in his vaults and has more heavy horse than anyone else north of The Neck. Wyman states that Oldcastle and Widow's Watch will follow his lead, all of the lands east of the White Knife, from Widow’s Watch and Ramsgate to the Sheepshead Hills and the headwaters of the Broken Branch will be pledged to Stannis Baratheon if Davos meets his one price. He says he does not need a king but a smuggler. He needs Davos to smuggle home Rickon Stark, his true liege, and one who holds a stronger claim than Arya, who is soon to be wed to Ramsay Bolton.

The true story about what happened at Winterfell comes out then; Wex hid in the godswood, and Rodrik Cassel was murdered by Ramsay Bolton. Wex also says that six survived the siege, two of them the sons of Eddard Stark. Four of the people went north and two went another way. Manderly insists that they must have the boy and his direwolf as proof of his identity should the Boltons try to deny him. Wyman asks Wex to show them where they went and he throws a dagger at the spot on the map. Davos looks long at where the dagger has landed, pondering whether it would be better to go back to the dungeons and eat porridge for breakfast as it is better than places where men break fast upon human flesh instead.

Character list

Places and terms mentioned

References and Notes

  1. As we learned in A Feast for Crows, Chapter 17 (Cersei IV), pages 277-278 (UK MMP edition; circa page 246 in the US and UK Hardcover Editions)