A Clash of Kings-Chapter 17
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Tyrion meets with Grand Maester Pycelle, Littlefinger, and Varys, and gives each a secret plan. To Pycelle, he gives a message to be sent to Prince Doran Martell in strictest confidence, to Littlefinger a plan for a proposal to wed Myrcella to Robert Arryn along with giving Lysa the true killer of Jon Arryn. To Varys, he gives the proposal of sending Tommen Baratheon to the Pince of Dorne along with the killers of his sister Elia.
Tyrion is having breakfast with Grand Maester Pycelle. He asks Pycelle to send his serving girl away, and hands him two sealed letters to send with his swiftest bird to Prince Doran Martell. He insists that Pycelle send them now, as breakfast will wait, but Renly Baratheon is leading his host up the Roseroad now, and no one knows when Stannis Baratheon will sail from Dragonstone. The maester ponderously moves to do Tyrion’s bidding. As he moves, Tyrion notes that his chain consists of a dozen maester chains intertwined with gemstones. Almost all the links are precious metals and few are baser metals. Tyrion has plenty of time to finish several items of his breakfast before he sees the raven fling. He then inspects the maester’s well-organized potions. Among them he spies a small dusty bottle on a high shelf and takes it. He is back at the table, eating another egg, when the maester returns. Pycelle asks about the message, and Tyrion tells him it is best kept secret, and when Pycelle brings up the Small Council, Tyrion states that the council is there to advise the King, who is only 13 years old. When asked about the queen, Tyrion replies she carries a great weight upon her shoulders already. Pycelle and Tyrion then exchange all sorts of compliments about her, and Pycelle finally agrees it is best not to add to her burdens. When Pycelle describes Cersei as frail, Tyrion thinks about what Eddard Stark would think of that description. Tyrion then tells Pycelle that he wants to know as soon as a response is received, and he is the only one to know.
Tyrion goes to the baily where he finds Bronn. He notes that Bronn pays no attention to a couple of pretty serving girls, instead watching the men at arms practise. Bronn replies that there are a hundred whorehouses in the city, and his vigilance could save Tyrion’s life. He points out that the best of those practising repeats the same series of strokes, which would make it easy for Bronn to beat him.
Then, Bronn informs Tyrion that Lady Tanda Stokeworth’s page has arrived with an invitation to dinner; she thinks Tyrion would be the perfect consort for her soft dimwitted daughter Lollys Stokeworth and is plying him with food. Tyrion tells Bronn to send his regrets. There is also a moneylender from Braavos wanting repayment of loans; Tyrion tells Bronn to send him to Littlefinger, who will figure out how to put him off. A lord from the Trident wants recompense for the destruction done to his land. Tyrion figures it was done by Ser Gregor Clegane, Ser Amory Lorch, or the Qohorik. Thinking that it might be advantageous to have one of the riverlords on their side, Tyrion tells Bronn he will make time for the man tomorrow and to give him good quarters, a meal and new boots courtesy of Joffrey. Some merchants have come about the shortages of food; they want protection since they are being blamed by mobs for the food shortages. One baker has even been killed by an angry mob. Tyrion asks Bronn to provide the Gold Cloaks that can be spared. Bronn replies that there were Gold Cloaks in the mob, and that the merchants asked to see the king. Tyrion thinks they are fools since Joffrey would send them off with whips and spears. Bronn then reports that Ser Alliser Thorne of the Night's Watch has arrived with a rotten hand; Tyrion remembers meeting him and liking him the least of anyone at The Wall. He states he does not want to meet with the man today and to find him a dirty cell.
Tyrion immediately leaves to join his sister with a large party including Ser Boros Blount of the Kingsguard, Ser Balon Swann, the wheezing Lord Gyles Rosby, Hallyne of the Alchemists’ Guild, their cousin and Cersei’s new favorite Ser Lancel Lannister, and Vylarr and twenty guardsmen; Cersei does not like what Tyrion has done to [Janos Slynt]]. She informs him that she is going to review the defences in light of Renly marching from Highgarden. Cersei thinks he could be in King's Landing by the full moon, but Tyrion responds that Renly is going slowly because he has a feast at a different castle each night. When Tyrion seems little concerned about the men rallying to Renly, Cersei calls him a little fool since Renly has the power of Storm's End and Highgarden behind him. Tyrion’s response is that it is a shame she let the Knight of Flowers slip away, that Renly has other concerns including Robb Stark at Riverrun and Tywin Lannister at Harrenhal, and that Tyrion would do the same: flaunt his power; if Robb defeats Tywin the south will fall into his hands, and if Tywin defeats Robb, Renly can fall on the weakened Lannister host. Cersei demands that Tyrion bring Tywin’s host to King’s Landing, and Tyrion responds that he has never been able to make Tywin do anything. Ignoring this answer, she asks what he is doing about Jaime Lannister; Jaime is worth 100 of Tyrion. Tyrion implores Cersei not to tell Catelyn this, since they do not have 100 of him to trade. Angry at Tyrion, and stating he is worse than useless, Cersei leaves.
Tyrion thinks that he fears Stannis twice as much as Renly, who has never led men into war. The spies sent to Dragonstone are ominously silent, though Varys reports from Myr of Mercenary captains taking service with Dragonstone, and Lysene war galleys have been seen offshore. If Stannis and Renly attacked together, there would be no chance for either him or Joffrey.
Podrick Payne meets him at the door to his solar. The boy shyly tells him that Petyr Baelish is inside. Inside, Littlefinger is watching Joffrey kill hares with a crossbow, and tells Tyrion to look and that the hares are winning. After Littlefinger makes a comment about hares overrunning the castle and them eating hare for every meal, Tyrion offers him refreshment, but Littlefinger declines, stating he has heard that to drink with Tyrion is to risk being sent off to the Wall. Tyrion compliments Littlefinger on his clothing and then mentions the Valyrian Steel dagger with the dragonbone hilt, to which Littlefinger responds that it’s handsome but a trifle plain. He then offers it to Tyrion, who refuses. Tyrion is infuriated because he knows Littlefinger knows why Tyrion mentioned the dagger and is mocking him, thinking Tyrion cannot touch him. Tyrion reflects on how everyone thinks Jaime is armored in gold (his armor is actually gilded steel), but it is Littlefinger that is; 10 years ago, Jon Arryn gave him a minor position in customs, and he tripled the revenue. Within 3 years, he was in court and master of coin, and now revenues are 10 times as great. The debts have grown vast, too, but Littlefinger is a master juggler, and borrows so that he can put the gold to work. Now his men hold many important positions like Keepers of the Keys, the King’s Counter, the King’s Scales, and Harbormasters. They are men of middling birth but much more capable than the high born they replaced.
Tyrion then asks Littlefinger about his being fostered in Riverrun and his closeness to the Tully children. Littlefinger claims to have taken both girls' maidenhead, which Tyrion is sure is a lie, but a smooth one. Tyrion explains that Lord Hoster Tully’s daughters do not love him and would not listen to any proposal from him, but they might trust Littlefinger. Littlefinger states that Lysa is the more tractable, and has problems like the Mountain clans being more aggressive and better armed (thanks to Tyrion). Tyrion replies that if he gives her Jon Arryn’s true killer, she might be more friendly, and he could help with the clansmen, but he wants Lysa to declare for Joffrey and make war on the Tullys and Starks. To seal the bargain, he would make Robert Arryn Warden of the East and send Myrcella to Lysa as a ward and future wife of Robert. Littlefinger asks what Cersei thinks of the idea, and quickly figures out that Tyrion is not telling her, and then asks what he gets out of the deal. Tyrion tells him Harrenhal, one of the richest plums in the Seven Kingdoms, and the river lords will owe him fealty as Lord Paramount of the Trident. Although Tyrion knows Littlefinger is too greedy to turn his nose up at such a prize, Littlefinger is suspicious, especially considering what happened to Janos Slynt. Tyrion responds that he did not need Janos, but needs him to deliver Lysa and dismisses Littlefinger's comment about Harrenhal's curse, pointing out that when all is done, Littlefinger will be rich enough to destroy the castle and build a new one if he wants. Littlefinger tells Tyrion he will probably have to bed Lysa again, and asks him to give him a fortnight to clear up affairs and arrange a ship to leave for Gulltown. Littlefinger then leaves, saying it has been a pleasant and profitable morning.
Next, Tyrion heads to his bedchamber to await Varys. An hour later, Galt announces his arrival, which is much sooner than Tyrion expected. Varys tells Tyrion that he was cruel to make Pycelle abide with a secret. Tyrion refuses to tell Varys what the message was about, but knows that he has some plan to gain his allegiance. Varys tells him Prince Doran hates the Lannisters and that he still mourns his sister Elia. Tyron promises to deliver his sister's killers (Gregor Clegane killed her and her baby) after the war is done. Varys guesses that Tyrion will give Tommen Baratheon to the Prince of Dorne since he cannot give Myrcelle to both him and Lysa. He then continues that Tommen is a good boy, and Tyron adds that if he pries him away from Joffery and Cersei now, he may become a good man. Varys asks whether he could become a good king, too, and Tyrion replies that Joffrey is king—but Tommen is currently his heir. Varys complements Tyrion's statecraft but wonders about Cersei’s reaction. Tyrion replies that what Cersei does not know will not hurt him. Varys giggles, and Tyrion knows that he has him.