A Dance with Dragons-Chapter 44

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Jon IX
A Dance with Dragons chapter
POV Jon Snow
Place Castle Black
Page 579 UK HC (Other versions)
Chapter chronology (All)
Daenerys VII  ← Jon IX →  The Blind Girl

Jon X


Queen Selyse arrives at Castle Black with Shireen, Patchface, Axell Florent, and others, all on their way to the Nightfort. They are accompanied by Tycho Nestoris, an emissary of the Iron Bank of Braavos. Jon warns Selyse that the Nightfort is still mostly in ruins and advises her that they may be most comfortable at Eastwatch-by-the-Sea.

The queen says that they are not safe there and insists on going to the Nightfort. Then, Wun Wun appears, startling the ladies. The giant speaks a few kind words, but mangles them. Jon tells the women he is only just learning the Common Tongue as all giants speak the Old Tongue. Wun Wun's laugh startles and frightens the group, causing Ser Patrek to draw his sword. Jon warns him to never draw his sword against a giant as he is protected by guest rights here, which Jon says they still honor in the north, though the south may not.

Jon then offers to give Tycho a tour atop the Wall, but he prefers to speak with Jon now, preferably in a warm room. Tycho tells Jon that the Iron Throne has ceased all debt payments to the Iron Bank.[1] Jon thinks this must be madness on the part of the Lannisters. He thinks that the Iron Bank may want to support Stannis in his war to ensure that the debt is eventually payed. Jon asks for a favour: to borrow ships and a loan to keep the Night's Watch fed until spring. Tycho says this is impossible, but after a few hours of drinking and haggling they strike a deal.

With the three ships added to the Eastwatch fleet, Jon counts that they now have eleven ships. He hopes to bring the wildlings down from Hardhome around the Wall in order to save them and not have them become more wights in thrall to The Others. However, he is unsure if Mother Mole will be desperate enough to trust her people to the men of the Night's Watch.

He discusses things further with Tycho; he asks after Maester Aemon, Gilly and Sam but Tycho knows nothing and Jon can merely hope they have reached Oldtown. They talk about an unknown fleet prowling the narrow sea and rumours of dragons coming from the east, Jon joking that a dragon would warm things up. Tycho says sternly that his people are descended from those who fled the dragonlords of Valyria and they do not joke lightly about such, so Jon apologizes.

They make their way to the common hall, where Axell Florent asks Jon to see Val. Jon surmises that he must know the woman is gone. He then excuses himself and leaves, pondering the dangers of the agreement with Tycho, uncertain if the Watch will ever be able to repay the Iron Bank and thus avoid consequences. But Jon knows that between being bankrupt and dead, he made the right choice. He also takes another moment to marvel on the stupidity of the Lannisters; the Iron Bank is notorious for deposing royalty who don't repay their debts and he notes that if Stannis makes a deal with the Braavosi, he will acquire enough money to hire numerous sellsword companies, to bribe as many lords as he needs and keep his men fed, armed and supplied. Jon muses that unless "Stannis is lying dead beneath the walls of Winterfell, he may just have won the Iron Throne".

He goes to sleep but is awoken by Mully, who tells him that a girl has arrived on a dying horse. Jon's thoughts instantly go to Melisandre's vision and he giddily thinks that Arya may have come to him as prophesied. He also thinks about plans to keep Arya safe; she cannot stay at the Wall, for Stannis will just marry her off to one of his vassals so as to gain a claim to Winterfell, and Jon doesn't know but fears what Melisandre may want with her-Jon speculates that he might be able to convince Tycho to make arrangements to have Arya fostered with some noble family in Braavos or the Free Cities. When he meets her however, to his disappointment Jon sees that the girl in question is not Arya; she is too old. He recognises her as Alys Karstark, having met her before when they were both children, when her father brought her to Winterfell in hope of negotiating a marriage between her and Robb. She warns him not to let Cregan Karstark take her back with him when he arrives, as he and his father Arnolf Karstark intend to force her into marrying Cregan. She also learns the truth about her father's execution from Jon and is unsurprised to learn that Robb killed him for murdering prisoners in a fit of rage; her father was a brooding man, and her uncles are no better.

Alys asks Jon if there is still a blood-feud between them after the death of her father, but he assures her that men of the Night's Watch hold no grudges. She tells him that after Jaime Lannister killed her two elder brothers and her betrothed at the Battle of the Whispering Wood, she and her brother Harry are the rightful heirs to their titles. However, Harrion has been a captive for more than a year; Arnolf only declared Karhold for Stannis in the hope it would provoke the Lannisters to execute Harrion. If that happened, Alys would be heir to Karhold, at which point Cregan would marry her, get a child from her and then get rid of her. Jon offers to write to Stannis about the matter on her behalf but Alys reveals that the Karstarks are playing Stannis false; they have long been in league with Roose Bolton and are only waiting for his word to betray Stannis. Alys entreats Jon to protect her, pleading that he is the only hope she has left.

Character List appearing/mentioned

References and Notes

  1. It happened in A Feast for Crows, Chapter 17, Cersei; another emissary from the Iron Bank appealed unsuccessfully for repayment Chapter 24, which is therefore likely to fit chronologically before this one