A Clash of Kings-Chapter 24
|A Clash of Kings chapter|
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|Chapter chronology (All)|
Theon is admiring his new longship when an ironborn woman calling herself Esgred interrupts him. His is taken by her and responds to his flirtations. He offers her a ride to the castle. As they proceed, Theon notes that the people they pass are finally showing him some respect. The arrive at Pyke where he learns she is his sister Asha Greyjoy. At the feast, Asha has the seat to the right of Lord Balon Greyjoy, not him. He later joins his uncles and father in the planning to learn that he has been given the least important mission.
Theon is admiring the new longship his father gave him. It is not as large as the Great Kraken or Iron Victory, but looks fast, has 50 oars, and will handle 100 men. He is interrupted by a striking ironborn woman calling herself Esgred, daughter of Ambrode, wife to Sigrin the shipwright. Theon is taken by her, and tells her that that he has had women enough but none like her, adding that his cock has gone hard for her. She feels it, and tells him he is no liar. When he tells her it hurts fiercely, and she states poor lordling and claims to be newly with child. He tells her that this is all the better because he cannot get her pregnant, when this does not sway her he asks if she has ever had a prince, and how she can tell her children when she is wrinkled and gray she had a king. He next asks if he should name his ship after her, keep her in a tower with only jewels to wear like a princess of song. She tells him that he she build his ship, so he should name it after her. He tells her that Sigrin is wasted on her, and she tells him that Sirgin said the ship was wasted on him. Theon bristles, and learns she knows who he is. She then asks him what he thinks of the ship since Sigrin will want to know. Theon says he likes it and asks if it is as fast as it looks. She tells him that she is faster if the master knows how to handle her. Theon admits it’s been a few years since he sailed a ship, and acknowledges to himself that he never captained on, but he is a Greyjoy so the sea is in his blood. When Theon states he would never mistreat such a fair maiden, Esgred states she is a sea bitch. Theon then states that he will call his ship Sea Bitch. When she reproachfully states he was going to name the ship after her, he tells her he did. Then he asks her to come on board so they can bless the ship with the milk of their loins. She tells him that the Drowned God may not take kindly to this sacrilege; the next day Theon’s uncle Aeron is to bless the ship to the Drowned God with seawater. Theon replies:
Bugger the Drowned God. If he troubles us, I’ll drown him again. We’re off to war within a fortnight. Would you send me into battle all sleepless with longing?
When she still refuses, Theon states his ship is well named. She touches his crotch as she asks if he will steer with this. He asks if she would come back to Pyke with him to the feast (he does not tell her that Lord Balon Greyjoy is having a feast every night while waiting for his captains to arrive). She teases him some more, even unlacing his breaches. She tells him she has not horse and finally she agrees to ride with him on his horse back to Pyke, refusing to ride Theon’s squire’s horse since the squire would have to walk.
As they walk back to the inn in Lordsport to get Theon’s horse, Theon notices that the people grew very quiet as they pass and acknowledged them with bows; it is about time. Many of those in the town were the men of Lord Gorold Goodbrother of Great Wyk who had just arrived with 40 ships. As they pass Theon thinks how busy Otter Gimpknee’s whorehouse will be, and that his companion was more to his taste.
The woman asks Theon about his crew. As they pass, she calls to Bluetooth, and Theon learns that he has his own ship. Theon thinks long it has been, and any friends he had were now strangers. He tells her that his uncle Victarion Greyjoy has loaned his steersman Rymolf Stormdrunk. She calls also to Uller, Qarl and Skyte, and they learn that Skyte’s brother Eldiss is dead. They pass the ship Myraham, which could not leave because Lord Balon was not allowing any ships to leave. As they do the girl on board calls to Theon, and he has to admit to Esgred that he had slept with the he did even though she was soft and bland, but there was no other woman on board.
At the inn, his squire Wex Pyke ignores Theon’s call, and so Theon had to grab him by the ear from a dicing table; Theon liked having Wex as a squire because he was born dumb. When Wex sees Esgred, his eyes go wide. Theon sends him to saddle the horses, Theon’s horse Smiler being an impressive beast that he had purchased from Lord Sawane Botley; the Iron Islanders tend to be indifferent riders, and the horse had proven too much for Lord Botley and he was happy to sell, Wex being part of the deal. Theon was happy to be able to find a good war horse, not wanting to go to war without one. Esgred is impressed. Theon mounts and pulls Esgred in front of him.
As they ride he puts his hand on her breasts, but she removes them each time, finally ensuring he cannot put it again on her breast. When she asks if his father will welcome her, and he tells her that he hardly welcomed his heir. She tells him that there are his uncles and his sister. He tells her that his sister wears a mail hauberk with boiled leather small cloths, has a nose like a vulture, pimples, and no breasts. He will marry her off if someone will take her. She then asks about his uncles. Theon knows that his uncle are a threat to his inheritance since an uncle deposing of a weak nephew had happened in the Iron Islands; Theon does not believe he is weak, and will be stronger by the time his father dies. He tells her that Aeron only cares for his god, and Victarion is strong and tireless and dutiful. She mentions that Euron Greyjoy has no lack of cunning, and Theon replies he has not been seen for two years and may be dead; he and his ship Silence with its black sails and dark red hull were infamous. Esgred admits that he may be dead, and if he is alive he would be half a stranger, and the Ironborn would not seat a stranger on the Seastone Chair. The idea that the Ironborn would not make a stranger king bothers Threon since he is more of a stranger than Euron, but he does have time to prove himself.
Theon mentions that he will be seated on the dais with his father, but will ensure that Helya will provide an honored spot for her. He will come down to join her when his father leaves—he has no belly for drink. She states that it is a grievous when a great man grows old and Theon replies that Balon is but the father of a great man. She then asks what she will wear and Theon tells her that one of his mother’s gowns might fit; she is in Harlaw. Esgred then asks if he will visit his mother since she is only a day’s sail away, and Theon replies that his father relies on him, and maybe when peace comes. Theon again tries to seduce her, and she resists and asks about Winterfell. He obliges, surprised with some of what he told her.
When they reach the castle, hounds assail them as Theon helps Esgred off. When the stableboy arrives, Theon tells him to get the horse and to get the damn dogs away. Instead the stableboy, smiling calls the woman “Asha, stating she is back. She tells the stableboy how she arrived with Lord Goodbrother and stayed at the inn the previous night. Theon gapes at her as she tells him the pimples disappeared when the breast came, but she still has the vulture’s beak. She tells him that she did not tell him who she was because she wanted to see who he was first. She excuses herself saying she wonders if she still ahves chainmail gown to wear over her boiled leather smallcloths. Wex is smirking at him, so he hits the boy twice.
Back in his cold chambers, despite the braziers, he thinks how Asha made a fool of him, and enjoyed it and even undid his breaches. He now has no place here because of her. When he finally hears the distanct music he knows it is time to go. He chooses plain clothes with no jewelry—he has no jewelry bought with iron, which irritates him, his cursed luck that he has only killed the poor.
He enters the hall to find with near 400 lords and captains; all the houses present except for House Stonehouse and House Drumm. This includes House Harlaw, House Blacktyde, House Sparr, House Merlyn, and House Goodbrother, House Saltcliffe, House Sunderly, House Botley and House Wynch. Along with the drinking there were the dancers doing the finger dance where spinning axes often took fingers. Theon arrives at the dais to find his uncles to his father’s right and Asha to his left. He father tells him he is late. When he sits at the seat next to Asha, he hisses to her that she is in his seat and she replies that his place is in Winterfell, and asks where his pretty cloths are. He replies that her hauberk must have rusted away. When a thrall arrives to serve wine or beer, she asks if he still has a taste for her mother’s milk. When Theon asks if every word she told him was a lie, she says not. She calls to one of the dancers, Rolfe, who throws an axe to her, which she catches handedly, and splits Theon’s trencher with it (it splashes his mantle), telling him the axe is her husband. Then she pulls a dirk from between her breasts, and tells him this is her suckling babe. The hall is suddenly ringing with laughter, and Theon realizes it is at him. She then tells him that if he had troubled to learn anything about Sigrin she could not have fooled him; why should men fight and die for him when he knows nothing and no one in the islands. He replies that he is their prince. She tells him that it might be true by the laws of the green lands, but the Ironborn make their own laws.
Finally Lord Balon rises and tells those on the dais to join him in his solar when they are finished. He leaves and then his brothers follow. Theon is rising to leave and Asha asks him why he is in such a rush since his father has been waiting for him for years, but if he fears, scurry after him. Theon sits back annoyed saying he runs after no man. She tells him no man but every woman. He replies this it was not me who grabbed your cock, and replies she does not have one. He tells her that he is a man with natural hungers, and asks what sort of unnatural creature is she. She tells him she is only a shy maid and gives his cock a squeeze under the table. With that Theon stumbles to find his father.
Theon arrives in the damp, drafty solar to find his father before the brazier buried under sealskin robes, his uncles on either side. On seeing him arrive, his father tells him it is time he heard his plans, and rudely shuts him up when he states he has suggestions. He first tells Theon that he will command 8 ships that will harry the Stony Shore and will be accompanied by Aeron and Dagmer. Theon feels slapped, being sent to do reaver’s work, burning the houses of fishermen and his father did not even trust him sufficiently, sending Aeron and Dagmer with him. Balon tells Asha, who had just slipped in, that she will take 30 ships with picked men to take the castle at Deepwood Motte. Asha states that she always wanted a castle while Theon thinks that is should have been him given this task since he had been there several times. Victorion gets the main thrust at Moat Cailin, sailing up the Saltspear and the Fever River. Once they hold Moat Cailin, Robb Stark, the pup, will not be able to go back north. Theon tries to tell Balon that the lords hold the castles, but again Balon shuts him up, saying the lords have gone south with the pup. Winterfell may hold out for a year, but the rest shall be theirs.
On the rope bridge, a sudden gust of wind causes him to stumble to his knees. Asha is there to help him up and guide him across the rest of the bridge, telling him he cannot hold his wine either. Theon tells her he liked her better as Esgred, and she tells him she liked him better when he was nine.