A Dance with Dragons-Chapter 22
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Tyrion is dreaming of his lord father and the Shrouded Lord. In his dream, they are one and the same. He wakes up with his mouth dry and rusty with the taste of blood and his heart hammering in his chest.
Tyrion learns that after being knocked overboard during the battle with the stone men, he was rescued by Jon Connington and the prince forbade the crew to throw him, near-dead, overboard. Tyrion is being treated with vinegar, to reduce the danger of an infection with greyscale. Prince Aegon is also still aboard and irritated about it; however, his companions insisted on keeping him safe, as Selhorys, where the Shy Maid is currently docked, fears an imminent attack by an approaching Dothraki khalasar and they do not want to get caught up in the chaos. To pass the time, Tyrion goads Aegon into playing a game of cyvasse with him, using it as an opportunity to probe the boy for information. Aegon asks Tyrion about his real father, but Tyrion can tell him little; he himself only saw Rhaegar once or twice before Robert's Rebellion, and was a small boy hidden away at Casterly Rock when Rhaegar died at the Trident.
Tyrion learns from Aegon that the child murdered by Gregor Clegane during the Sack of King's Landing was a tanner's son from Pisswater Bend whom Varys purchased and substituted for Aegon in the cradle. After the Sack, Varys smuggled the baby Aegon across the narrow sea to Illyrio Mopatis, who made the arrangements for Aegon's upbringing. Tyrion jokes that it will make a good story for the singers when he returns to Westeros, assuming Daenerys Targaryen takes him as her consort. Aegon is stunned by this, having clearly never considered the possibility that Daenerys might refuse him. Tyrion points out that she is a proud, strong, and fierce young woman who is unlikely to appreciate a relative coming to her with a begging bowl, certainly not one with a stronger claim to the Iron Throne than her own. Aegon angrily denies being a beggar, pointing out his own army, the Golden Company. Tyrion responds that Daenerys has a larger army than his own and owes nothing to Aegon. Aegon protests, trusting in Lord Connington to win her over. Tyrion calls him a fool, and gives him the following warning:
Trust no one, my prince. Not your chainless maester, not your false father, not the gallant Duck or the lovely Lemore nor these other fine friends who grew you up from a bean. Above all, trust not the cheesemonger, nor the Spider, nor this little dragon queen you mean to marry. All this mistrust will sour your stomach and keep you awake at night, ’tis true, but better that than the long sleep that does not end.
Tyrion then suggests a different course of action to Aegon: head to Westeros instead of going east, land in Dorne and take advantage of all the problems caused by the War of the Five Kings. He points out that the North is in a chaotic condition, the riverlands are devastated, while Stannis Baratheon holds Storm's End and Dragonstone. The coming winter will starve out the realm. He then paints the opposition as particularly weak: King Tommen Baratheon is just a boy, and all his potential regents come with their own problems. Jaime Lannister actively avoids the responsibility of ruling, and Kevan Lannister is a born follower- he will only take the rule if it is offered to him. Mace Tyrell will have to fight the Lannisters to become regent, and Stannis' unpopularity makes him an unlikely choice. That leaves only one potential candidate: Cersei. Tyrion is particularly scathing of his sister's ability to rule, comparing her to some of the worst Targaryen kings, noting that Cersei, in her paranoia and impatience, will undo all the alliances his father created to secure Tommen's hold on the Iron Throne and adds that if Aegon acts quickly, he can take advantage of the chaos and make serious gains before Cersei is overthrown and someone more competent takes her place.
When Aegon protests, asking how they can win without his aunt and her dragons, Tyrion points out that he doesn't have to conquer the Seven Kingdoms; he only needs to start winning victories, acting not as a beggar, but a true scion of House Targaryen, like his ancestor Aegon the Conqueror. When he does, word of it will get back to Daenerys, and she and Aegon can meet as equals. Tyrion is convinced that Daenerys will fly to Aegon's side and immediately love him, as he is the last of her line, and she is above all a "rescuer".
To re-emphasize his point to Aegon about trusting no one if he wants to survive in the game of thrones, Tyrion wins the cyvasse game using a piece of bad advice he gave and which the prince took at the start of the game. Aegon does not take his loss well; the sudden burst of anger convinces Tyrion the boy might be a Targaryen after all.
Later that evening, Haldon takes Tyrion into Selhorys in search of information, where they confirm the rumors that Daenerys still has not left Meereen. They need to know more, so Haldon takes Tyrion into an inn where they bribe a customs officer. Qavo Nogarys, to learn more. They learn many things, such as the fact the rulers of Yunkai are spreading slanderous propaganda and offering heavy bribes to convince Volantis to side with them against Daenerys, whose attack on the slave trade has made her enemies in Volantis. By contrast, it is learned that the red priests of R'hllor, particularly the High Priest Benerro are supporting Daenerys, and preach Volantis's destruction if the city's rulers side against her, along with other apocalyptic prophecies. There are also rumors of Khal Pono's khalasar approaching the city, though they are confident they can, as usual, buy off the Dothraki.
Later, Tyrion convinces Haldon to let him find a brothel and goes searching for Tysha. He finds his way into a cheap brothel where he fucks a Westerosi looking girl, retches, fucks her again and then leaves ashamed of himself. On his way out, he stumbles drunkenly into a Westerosi man who takes him prisoner to be "delivered to the queen".
References and Notes
- A Read of Ice and Fire: A Dance with Dragons, Part 13 Analyses and summary of the chapter by Leigh Butler.