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A Clash of Kings-Prologue

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Prologue
A Clash of Kings chapter
AClashOfKings.jpg
POVMaester Cressen
Page1 UK HC (Other versions)
Chapter chronology (All)
Appendix ← Prologue → Arya 1

Synopsis

Maester Cressen is looking at the blood-red comet in the sky over Dragonstone, and considering whether it is an omen. A white raven had arrived from the Citadel, and it meant that the long summer was coming to a close, a summer that lasted just over 10 years. Princess Shireen comes to visit the old maester with her fool Patchface. Shireen’s face is disfigured from a bout of greyscale as a child, that Maester Cressen was not able to treat sufficiently to prevent scarring. Shireen has been having nightmares of dragons come to eat her, and Cressen explains that Dragonstone was the westernmost outpost of the ancient Freehold of Valyria. While they are talking, Patchface begins singing "the shadows have come to dance (or stay) my lord", which Shireen says he has been singing all the time lately. Cressen remembers how Lord Steffon Baratheon found the fool while off in Volantis looking for a wife for Rhaegar Targaryen at the behest of King Aerys II. As they returned to Storm's End, the ship sank killing everyone aboard, but Patchface washed up on shore 3 days later, and appeared dead. His skin was clammy cold, yet he coughed up water and lived, although he was broken in mind and body.

Cressen then learns that Ser Davos had returned last night and was in council with the king. Cressen is disturbed, because he was always asked for his counsel in these matters, but the king was ignoring him. Cressen goes to Stannis, and on the way meets Ser Davos. The Onion Knight tells him that all the Stormlords spurned him, for they had no love for Stannis and would not join his cause. Instead, they all supported Renly along with the Lords of the Reach.

We learn Davos’s history, how he had been a notorious smuggler, but during the siege of Storm's End he had saved the defenders by sailing past the Redwyne blockade in the dead of night and brought onions to Lord Stannis’s men. It had allowed them to survive, when they would have starved, until Lord Eddard Stark lifted the siege. Stannis had knighted Davos for his deed, but also cut short all the fingers on Seaworth's left hand but the thumb for previous misdeeds as a smuggler. Cressen learns of Renly being named king, and worries for him. Cressen raised all three Baratheon children and grieves for them all. Davos says that Stannis has no hope with such a small army, yet the king will not relent and plans to sail against King's Landing.

Cressen then goes in to give counsel to Stannis, and we learn that the king has felt slighted all these years that Renly was given Storm’s End by their brother when by rights it should have been Stannis’s. Cressen advises that Stannis join with Renly, but the King will not treat with him as long as his brother calls himself a king. He also advises that Stannis send Shireen to foster on the Eyrie to make alliance with the Arryns (and we learn that Lord Jon Arryn had planned to foster his son on Dragonstone with Stannis). The suggestion is overheard by Queen Selyse Florent, who storms in and yells at the Maester for advising that Stannis needs help for the war. The Queen is wholly gone over to the god R'hllor of the red priestess Melisandre. The Queen believes the comet is an omen from the heart of fire, the god R’hllor who will aid Stannis in his conquest. Stannis is more interested in men than in the help of a god. When Selyse suggests that if Renly were to die, his army would join Stannis, Cressen is horrified and pleads with Stannis that fratricide is evil. Cressen is sent away, and back in his chambers realizes that he must kill Melisandre before she can totally convert the King to her evil schemes.

Cressen prepares a crystal that he plans to put in Melisandre’s drink, but then oversleeps. He enters the Great Hall to find Stannis and his bannermen at the feast table. Cressen is mocked by Melisandre and Patchface because he tripped, but is given a seat by Ser Davos. Davos tells the maester that Melisandre has seen victory in her flames, but Cressen tells the red woman that her god holds no power here. Cressen then proposes a toast. Melisandre drinks and remains unaffected. She then invites Cressen to drink as well. The ruby at Melisandre’s throat glows, and she tells Cressen that R’hllor does have power here. Maester Cressen drinks and dies immediately.

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