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A Game of Thrones-Chapter 25

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Eddard V
A Game of Thrones chapter
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Chapter chronology (All)
Eddard IV
Bran IV ← Eddard V → Jon IV

Eddard VI

Ned speaks with Grand Maester Pycelle about Lord Jon Arryn’s final days. On his way back, he finds Arya training to be a Water Dancer on the steps of the Tower of the Hand. Later he is visited by Littlefinger who has found four of Lord Arryn’s household remaining in King's Landing.

Synopsis

Ned meets with Grand Maester Pycelle in the stifling heat that has covered the city. Pycelle talks about how the smallfolk claim that the last year of summer is the hottest. The Grand Maester goes on to say that he does not believe this, noting that the King Maekar’s Summer was even hotter and broke in the seventh year, leading to a short autumn and a terrible long winter. Then Pycelle digresses about being a young man, forging his maester’s chain during the reign of King Maekar I.

Finally Pycelle remembers that Ned asked about Jon Arryn, and tells Ned that Jon Arryn was melancholy but healthy, and then suddenly became ill. He had asked Pycelle about a book, and Pycelle remembers noting that something was troubling him. The next day Lord Arryn was twisted over in pain, unable to get out of bed. Ned mentions that he had heard that Pycelle sent away Lord Arryn’s maester. Pycelle states that this was because he felt Maester Colemon didn’t understand the older body.

Ned asks if Lord Arryn had any final words. Pycelle responds that Jon Arryn called out the name “Robert” several times, but did not know if he was talking about the king or his son. His last words were whispered to Lysa Arryn and King Robert: "The seed is strong."

Next, Ned asks if there was anything unnatural about the death, and follows up by asking if Pycelle had seen anything like this illness before. Pycelle states that he has seen more of illness than he would like to remember every illness is different and every illness is alike. Eventually Pycelle says that Jon Arryn’s death was no stranger than any other. When Ned mentions that Lysa thinks otherwise, Pycelle says that grief can derange minds—and Lysa’s mind was not the best before, seeing enemies in every corner.

When Ned suggests that Jon Arryn’s death could have been due to poison, the Grand Maester rebuffs him, asking who would do such a thing? Ned replies that he heard poison was a woman’s weapon. Pycelle replies that poison is the preferred weapon of women, cravens, and eunuchs. He continues by telling Ned that Varys was born a slave in Lys, and that Ned shouldn’t trust him; Ned had already had a bad feeling about Varys.

Ned excuses himself but the Grand Maester halts him to offer any other service Ned may require. Ned uses the opportunity to ask for the book Jon Arryn read. Pycelle says is a ponderous tome that Ned would find boring. Ned states he still would like to see the book in any case, and the Pycelle promises he will send it to him once he finds it. On the way out, Ned also learns that the Queen was not in King's Landing when Jon Arryn died. Pycelle’s parting words are “I am here to serve,” leading Ned to think, “Yes, but whom.”

On his return to the Tower of the Hand, Ned finds Arya on the steps, standing on one foot. When Ned asks what she is doing she tells him that Syrio says that a Water Dancer can stand on one toe for hours. Ned expresses his concern about her falling down the steps but Arya states a Water Dancer never falls. Then Arya asks if Bran will come to live with them, and Ned responds that first he must grow stronger. Speaking of Bran leads Ned to recall taking the girls to the castle godswood when the news of Bran’s recovery arrived to offer their thanks. The girls had gone to sleep and dreamed of Bran.

While balancing on her leg, Arya asks about Bran’s plans to be a knight of the Kingsguard, and Ned tells her not, but there other opportunities. While Arya had asked if she will do any of the great things Ned stated that Bran might do, Ned tells her that she might be the wife of a great king with many children. Arya replies that that is Sansa, not her.

Later, Ned meets with Littlefinger in his solar. Littlefinger, who is watching the Kingsguard practicing below the window, starts with small talk about who might win the tourney. This does not interest Ned at all, so he asks Littlefinger to get to the point. Ned cannot find it in himself to trust Littlefinger. Littlefinger tells him that four of Arryn’s household are still in the city, which surprises Ned, who thought that all had gone back to the Eyrie with Lysa.

Littlefinger reveals the names, which include the squire to Jon Arryn, Ser Hugh of the Vale. He also reveals that Ser Hugh was knighted by the king after Lord Arryn died. Ned states that he will send for them. Littlefinger does not think this is a good idea and asks Ned to come to the window. Littlefinger identifies some of the spies among those outside his window: one is Varys’s, the other is the Queen’s. He tells Ned that there are others, and some even he does not know. He cautions Ned to send one of his men, who he trusts completely, to question these people, rather than doing it himself. This would be better because even Varys cannot watch every man in his service every hour of the day. As Littlefinger departs Ned tells him that he is grateful, and that he was probably wrong to distrust him. Littlefinger replies that distrusting him was the wisest thing that Ned has done.

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