Difference between revisions of "A Clash of Kings-Chapter 22"

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{{Infobox Chapter ACfK
 
{{Infobox Chapter ACfK
| pov = [[Catelyn Tully|Catelyn]]
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| pov = [[Catelyn Tully]]
| place        = Going south on the [[Riverlands]] - [[Bitterbridge]]
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| place        = [[Bitterbridge]]
 
| title = Catelyn II
 
| title = Catelyn II
 
| page = 245
 
| page = 245
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| arc next = [[A Clash of Kings-Chapter 31|Catelyn III]]
 
| arc next = [[A Clash of Kings-Chapter 31|Catelyn III]]
 
}}
 
}}
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__NOTOC__
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As envoy to King [[Renly Baratheon]], [[Catelyn Tully|Catelyn]] arrives at [[Bitterbridge]] to find [[melee at Bitterbridge|a great melee]] in progress. Afterward, the champion [[Brienne of Tarth]] is granted her request to become one of Renly's [[Rainbow Guard]]. That night Catelyn attends a feast and meets privately with Renly, who insists [[Robb Stark|Robb]] must bend the knee to him. Then, a messenger arrives with news that King [[Stannis Baratheon]] has besieged [[Storm's End]].
  
[[Catelyn Tully|Catelyn]] travels to be an envoy to King [[Renly Baratheon]]. Her group arrives as a tourney is in progress, the last few knights in the melee still fighting. Finally [[Brienne of Tarth]] defeats “[[Loras Tyrell]]. Renly names her champion and tells her she can ask any favor of him, and she asks to become a member of his [[Rainbow Guard]]. Catelyn is then introduced to Renly. After the feast that night Renly talks with Catelyn and tells her that he insists that son must bend the knee to him. Then a messenger arrives with news that King [[Stannis Baratheon]] has arrived.
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==Synopsis==
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A cruel dawn wakes [[Catelyn Tully|Catelyn]] from sweet dreams of happy family life. She is weary of riding, hurting, and being strong, but she knows she cannot allow herself to be weak today. Outside her tent, she finds [[Shadd]] stirring oats into a kettle. Ser [[Wendel Manderly]] suggests supplementing this with roast quail, but Catelyn decides oats and bread are sufficient since they have many leagues to travel.
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Her party includes twenty of [[Robb Stark|Robb]]'s best [[Winterfell]] men and five lordlings, including Ser Wendel, Ser [[Perwyn Frey]], [[Lucas Blackwood]], and [[Robin Flint]], to add weight and honor to her negotiations with King [[Renly Baratheon|Renly]]. It is a mission Catelyn never wanted, but Robb insisted he had no one else: Lord [[Hoster Tully]] was too ill, and he needed Ser [[Brynden Tully]] to command his scouts and Ser [[Edmure Tully]] to hold [[Riverrun]] when he marched. Catelyn argued that marching was rash, but Robb insisted waiting would make him look afraid and weaken his position, especially since [[Lysa Arryn]] will not support him. Catelyn feared he planned to play into [[Tywin Lannister]]'s hand and march on [[Harrenhal]], but Robb countered that he said nothing of Harrenhal. Catelyn smiles at the memory of Robb's obvious ploy of threatening to send [[Greatjon Umber]] in her place, given how ill-suited the Greatjon is to treat with a man like Renly. Before leaving, she wrote to [[Bran Stark|Bran]] and [[Rickon Stark|Rickon]] and visited her father but he mistook her for [[Minisa Whent|her mother]].
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Half a day's ride from Renly's camp they are spotted from a windmill and intercepted by Ser [[Colen of Greenpools]] with twenty men. When Catelyn announces herself as the envoy of the [[King in the North]], Ser Colen insists that Renly is king of all the [[Seven Kingdoms]] and escorts her to his camp at [[Bitterbridge]], where the [[roseroad]] crosses the [[Mander]]. With nearly all the chivalry of the south behind him, Renly's camp is immense. Thousands of cookfires cloud the air and a vast menagerie of banners fly from a veritable forest of staffs. Monstrous siege engines line the road, tents and pavilions dot the landscape, and the whole place bustles with people. Everywhere Catelyn sees the golden rose of [[House Tyrell]] and across the river Renly and his [[Stormlands|storm lords]] have raised their own standards. Catelyn recognizes many of the sigils, but for each one she knows there are a dozen she does not, all assembled to make Renly a king.
  
==Synopsis==
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Passing through a line of pavilions, they come upon [[melee at Bitterbridge|a tourney melee]] taking place beneath the battlements of a small castle. Less than a score of contestants remain ahorse, cheered on by hundreds of spectators. Since penetrating the crowd proves difficult, Ser Colen asks that Catelyn's escort wait while he presents her to the king. A roar goes up when a knight of [[House Tarth]] in cobalt armor unhorses [[Ronnet Connington|Red Ronnet Connington]], but the carnage makes Catelyn think it mad for Renly to be playing at war with real enemies all around.
[[Catelyn Tully|Catelyn]] has sweet dreams of family life before this chaos befell her family. A cruel dawn wakes to reality, and weariness from riding, hurt, and duty, tired of having to be strong, and wants to weep. It is awkward dressing, but she feels she should be thankful for any use of her hands after the cut from the [[Valyrian steel]] dagger. Outside the tent she finds [[Shadd]], preparing a breakfast of oats, and Ser [[Wendel Manderly]] who would like to supplement breakfast with quail. Catelyn states oats and bread are sufficient since they have many leagues to travel. These were two among the 20 of [[Robb Stark]]’s best [[Winterfell]] men and five lordings, including [[Lucas Blackwood]], Ser [[Perwyn Frey]], [[Robin Flint]] and [[Hallis Mollen]], to add weight and honor for her to treat with [[Renly Baratheon]].
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Among the lords and ladies in the gallery, Catelyn recognizes stout Lord [[Mathis Rowan]], delicate Lady [[Arwyn Oakheart]], and martial Lord [[Randyll Tarly]], but others she knows only by sigil or not at all. The handsome King Renly sits in their midst, looking like a youthful ghost of his brother [[Robert Baratheon|Robert]] and laughing with his young queen [[Margaery Tyrell]], a girl of Robb's age with a shy smile and curly brown hair. Catelyn knows their marriage is the mortar of the great southron alliance, and the rose sigil and green-and-gold colors of House Tyrell are prominent in Renly's slender crown and velvet tunic.
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[[File:Mathew Cowdery Bitterbridge Encampment.png|thumb|300px|King [[Renly Baratheon]]'s army camped beneath the walls of [[Bitterbridge]], by Matthew Cowdery © Fantasy Flight Games]]
  
It was a mission she did not want, but he told her he had no one else to send: her father [[Hoster Tully]] is too ill, and her uncle [[Brynden Tully]] is needed to hold [[Riverrun]] while he marches. She does not like that he is marching but he tells her that he needs to march so it does not look like he is afraid to take the field, and the Lannisters will give nothing if he just sits; it is obvious [[Lysa Tully|Lysa]] will not be coming to support the cause. Catelyn fears he will march on Harrenhal, but he says not. When he threatens to send [[Jon Umber|Greatjon]] in her stead, she saw no choise since she knew Greatjon was not suited to treat with Renly.  
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Out on the field, only four men remain and both king and commons obviously favor young Ser [[Loras Tyrell]] in his silver mail and rainbow cloak. Two others ally against the blue-clad knight from Tarth but are quickly unhorsed. Forced to discard his now-broken shield for the final duel, the blue knight is at a disadvantage and soon disarmed by Ser Loras. Yet as Loras prepares the final blow, the blue knight charges into it, grapples him to the ground, and opens Tyrell's visor with a dirk to make him to yield.
  
Before she left to go further south, further away from [[Bran Stark|Bran]] and [[Rickon Stark]] she sees her father [[Hoster Tully]]. He does not know her and asks about the children little Cat and sweet Lysa.
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As the blue knight salutes the king in victory, squires rush to help Loras Tyrell remove his helm and Catelyn is startled by his youth and beauty. Renly then bids the champion to approach and there are a few cries of "Tarth!" and, oddly, "A Beauty!" but most remain silent. Renly declares the blue knight to be all his father claimed since Loras is rarely unhorsed, but Catelyn overhears accusations of trickery from the crowd. When she asks why the man in blue is so disliked, Ser Colen explains that the champion is no man but [[Brienne of Tarth]], the daughter of Lord [[Selwyn Tarth|Selwyn the Evenstar]], who is often called "Brienne the Beauty," though never to her face.
  
They were half a day’s ride from Renly’s camp when Robin Flint sees a watcher on a distant windmill. A mile beyond the mile they are met by Ser [[Colen of Greenpools]] with twenty men. When she announces she is an envoy for the Lord of the North, he escorts her to Renly’s camp in [[Bitterbridge]].  
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King Renly officially declares Brienne the champion as the last mounted of 116 knights and offers her any reward within his power. Brienne asks to be made one of his seven [[Rainbow Guard]] and Renly agrees. It is only when Brienne removes her greathelm that Catelyn understands Ser Colen's words: the only thing beautiful about Brienne are her girlish blue eyes. Her face is broad, coarse, and freckled, with a large mouth full of crooked teeth and a nose that has been broken more than once. Catelyn is filled with pity for the girl, yet Brienne looks anything but unfortunate when Renly fastens the rainbow cloak to her shoulders, and her face lights up with a smile as she proudly pledges to give her life for him.
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Ser Colen interjects to introduce Catelyn, though she needs to insist that Robb is King in the North as well as Lord of Winterfell. Renly looks surprised, but greets her warmly and introduces his queen, who offers condolences for her husband's death. Renly even swears to bring her [[Cersei Lannister]]'s head when he takes [[King's Landing]], but Catelyn replies that justice will be enough. Brienne of Tarth notes that Catelyn should kneel and refer to the king as "Your Grace," but Catelyn insists they have more pressing matters to discuss. Some of Renly's lords bristle, but the king only laughs and asks when Robb plans to march on Harrenhal. Unsure whether Renly will be a friend or a foe, Catelyn only replies that she does not sit on the war council. Renly asks about [[Jaime Lannister]] and, learning he is a prisoner, declares that the direwolf is gentler than the lion. Lord Randyll Tarly pipes up that Robb should have come to pay homage in person, but Catelyn counters that her son is fighting a war, not playing at one. Renly grins and warns Lord Tarly that he is outmatched, then offers Catelyn the use of his own pavilion (since he is guesting at Lord [[Lorent Caswell]]'s castle) and invites her to the evening's farewell feast.
  
Renly’s camp consists of thousands of cookfires, along with siege engines. The golden rose of [[House Tyrell]] is everywhere, but Catelyn also sees the sigils of [[House Florent]], [[House Tarly]], [[House Oakheart]], [[House Crane]] and [[House Mullendore]]. On the other side of the [[Mander|Mander river]] she can see the standards of [[House Baratheon]], [[House Caron]], [[House Penrose]], and [[House Estermont]]. Along with the sigils she knows there are dozens she does not. Renly’s own war banner was immense. Hallis Mollen trots close to ask her if she hears the noise. She listens and hears shouts, screaming, the clash of steel, and cheers. When they ride closer she can see melee in progress beneath the battlement of the small castle; “A tourney” Hallis Mollen declares. Ser Colen asks them to wait so he can present them to the king.
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Renly's pavilion is so massive and richly furnished that Catelyn understands why his host moves so slowly, and that evening she is seated between Mathis Rowan and Ser [[Jon Fossoway]]. Meanwhile, Brienne of Tarth is seated at the far end of the high table in knight's garments instead of a lady's and Catelyn notes that out of her armor Brienne looks muscular, plain, and ungainly, and judges from the woman's actions that she knows it.
  
As they wait, Catelyn thinks that it is madness to have tourney in the middle of a war. She can see the lords and ladies in the galley: she can see the handsome Renly looking just like [[Robert Baratheon|King Robert]] from years past with his young queen [[Margaery Tyrell]] surrounded by a lords and ladies, including Lord [[Mathis Rowan]], Lady [[Arwyn Oakheart]], and Lord [[Randyll Tarly]]. She hears Renly call “[[Loras Tyrell|Loras!]]” when another man falls on the field. On the field she can see there are only four men left, including Loras Tyrell in his silver mail armed with an axe on a white stallion. Soon he was in a battle with a now shieldless blue knight armed with a Morningstar. Finally the horses crashed to the ground with Loras on the bottom. Ser Loras had to yield. When the winner removes his helmet to reveal to Catelyn how young he is. Renly calls the champion to approach, telling him that he was all that his father claimed, that Renly had seen Ser Loras unhorsed only once or twice. Catelyn asks who the knight is and Ser Colen tells her that it is the woman [[Brienne of Tarth]], daughter to Lord [[Selwyn Tarth|Selwyn the Evenstar]]. She is often called Brienne the Beauty, but not to her face unless you want to fight her.
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[[File:Brienne by quickreaver.jpg|thumb|300px|[[Brienne of Tarth]], by Quickreaver © Fantasy Flight Games]]
  
After King Renly declares Brienne champion, last mounted of 116 knights, he asks:
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Singers and tumblers entertain them, and the food is rich and plentiful, but Catelyn eats only sparingly and watches those around her. King Renly speaks amiably to all and sometimes feeds Queen Margaery choice morsels or kisses her lightly, but it is Ser Loras who shares most in his jests and confidences. Others are less moderate: the brothers [[Josua Willum|Josua]] and [[Elyas Willum]] dispute who will be first over the walls of King's Landing, Lord [[House Varner|Varner]] dandles a serving girl, Ser [[Guyard Morrigen]] sings a bad song about knotting lions' tails, Ser [[Mark Mullendore]] feeds his pet [[monkey]] from his plate, and Ser [[Tanton Fossoway]] climbs onto the table and swears to slay [[Sandor Clegane]] in single combat.
{{Quote| As champion, you may ask of me any boon that you desire. If it lies in my power, it is yours.}}
 
She responds:
 
{{Quote|Your Grace, I ask the honor of a place among your [[Rainbow Guard]]. I would be one of your seven, and pledge my life to yours, to go where you go, ride at your side, and keep you safe from all hurt and harm.}}
 
Renly agrees, putting the rainbow cloak on Brienne, who was a hand taller than the tall Renly. Brienne continues:
 
{{Quote|My life for yours, Your Grace. From this day on, I am your shield, I swear it by the old gods and the new.}}
 
  
Ser Colen uses this opportunity to introduce Catelyn as an envoy from Robb Stark, Lord of Winterfell. Catelyn corrects him with King of the North. Renly introduces his queen who welcomes her and expresses sorrow for Catelyn’s loss. Renly promises to bring her [[Cersei Lannister|Cersei’s]] head. Brienne demands of Renly that Catelyn be required to kneel, which Catelyn refuses. Some of Renly’s lords bristle, but the king laughs and asks if Robb is going to march against [[Harrenhal]]. Catelyn says she is not know as she is not on the war council. Then she is asked about [[Jaime Lannister]] who she says is being held prisoner. Renly states that the direwolf is gentler than the lion. Lord Randyll Tarly states that Lord Robb is showing weakness and should have come himself to pledge homage. Catelyn, calling Robb King, states he is fighting a war. Renly tells Lord Randyll Tarly that he is overmatched. Then he orders his steward to arrange for Catelyn’s companions, and give Catelyn use of his pavilion since [[Lord Caswell]] gave Renly use of his castle, and that he would dine with him at the feast that night.
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When a gold-dressed fool and a dwarf elicit gales of laughter by mocking Jaime and [[Tyrion Lannister]], Lord Rowan remarks to Catelyn that Renly and his favorites are all very young. Seeing Lord [[Bryce Caron]] goad Ser [[Robar Royce]] into juggling daggers, Catelyn recalls that none of them are old enough to have seen war, so they think it is a game and believe themselves immortal. She tells Lord Rowan that war will make them old, as it did her generation, and says she pities them because they are the knights of summer and winter is coming. Brienne chimes in to disagree, saying: {{Quote|Winter will never come for the likes of us. Should we die in battle, they will surely sing of us, and it’s always summer in the songs. In the songs all knights are gallant, all maids are beautiful, and the sun is always shining.}} Catelyn knows that winter comes for everyone, as it did for her when Ned died, but King Renly saves her from having to say so by asking her to take the air with him. Brienne wants to come along as well, but Renly insists another sword will make no difference in the midst of his own army. Brienne seems very hurt by the refusal.  
[[File:Acok brienne by o0magnus.jpg|250px|thumb|left|Brienne(middle) winning the tourney]]
 
  
The pavilion is massive, and richly furnished; Catelyn now does not wonder why Renly’s host moves so slowly. Catelyn is accompanied by her lordling companions to the feast in Lord Caswell’s great hall. Catelyn is seated on the dais between Lord [[Mathis Rowan]] and Ser [[Jon Fossoway]] while Brienne is seated at the far end of the tablein knight’s garments instead of a lady’s. Catelyn notes that her body looks muscular, plain and ungainly, and from her actions she knew it and suffered for it.
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As they walk, Renly asks if Ser [[Barristan Selmy]] has joined Robb at Riverrun. When Catelyn seems puzzled, Renly tells her of Selmy's dismissal and his vow to serve the true king, adding that Brienne's position in the Rainbow Guard was meant for Selmy. Next, Renly explains that he offered Ned a hundred swords to seize Joffrey but fled when refused because he lacked the strength to act alone and feared Cersei meant to kill him after Robert died. He adds that he liked Ned well enough and knew him to be Robert's loyal friend, but says Ned would not listen or bend.  
  
Catelyn watches as Lord Willum’s sons [[Josua Willum]] and [[Elyas Willum]] dipute over who will be first of [[King's Landing]]’s, Lord [[Steffon Varner]] dandles a serving girl, [[Guyard Morrigen]] badly singing about tying lions’ tails in knots, Ser [[Mark Mullendore]] feeding his monkey from plate, and Ser [[Tanton Fossoway]] climbing on the table and swearing to slay [[Sandor Clegane]]. Then there is a fool dressed in gold chasing a dwarf around the tables. Lord Rowan mentions to Catelyn how they are all so young, and Catelyn thinks how true it is, and she thinks that they are still unblooded as Lord [[Bryce Caron]] goads Ser [[Robar Royce]] into juggling daggers. She tells Lord Rowan that war will make them old as it did them, and she pities them as they are knights of summer and winter is coming. Brienne states:
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Leading her out onto the roof, Renly shows Catelyn his army's countless campfires and asks how many fires burn around Riverrun. He guesses that Robb has 40,000 men at most, though Catelyn knows the real number is much lower. Renly declares that he has twice as many with him, and another 10,000 with [[Mace Tyrell]] at Highgarden, a strong garrison at [[Storm's End]], and soon all the power of [[Dorne]] and his brother [[Stannis Baratheon]] on [[Dragonstone]]. Catelyn counters sharply that Renly seems to have forgotten that Stannis has the better claim. Renly replies that Stannis is respected and feared but not loved and would make an appalling king. Gesturing to his army, Renly declares that his claim is as good as Robert's ever was.  
{{Quote|Winter will never come for the likes of us. Should we die in battle, they will surely sing of us, and it’s always summer in the songs. In the songs all knights are gallant, all maids are beautiful, and the sun is always shining.}}
 
Catelyn is thinking that winter will come for all of us when King Renly asks her to accompany him.
 
  
As they walk, Renly tells Catelyn that the foolish [[House Lannister|Lannisters]] gave Ser [[Barristan Selmy]]’s cloak to [[Sandor Clegane|the Hound]] and the Ser Barristan stated he vowed to give his service to the true king. Next Renly tells Catelyn that he went to [[Eddard Stark|her husband]] and offered to give him a hundred swords to take Joffrey into his power, but he refused. Renly states that he felt he had to flee when he did not get the support of her husband since he did not have the strength on his own and he knew Cersei would try to kill him as soon as Robert was dead. They reach the top of the stairwell, and go out onto the roof, where Renly shows Catelyn the campfires that cover the countryside, and asks how many fires burn around Riverrun. Renly tells Catelyn figures that Robb has 40,00 men at most, half of what he has, and [[Mace Tyrell]] has another 10,000 in Highgarden; Catelyn knows Robb has lost men in battle and to the harvest. To her issue with [[Stannis Baratheon]] being the true heir, Renly replies men respect him, but few love him, and that King Robert also had no real right to the throne—he won his with a war hammer, and this army is Renly’s war hammer. Renly offers his terms; Robb can rule in Winterfell and continue to call himself King in the North, but must bend the knee to Renly. Now they are interrupted with the news that King Stannis’s host has arrived and are laying siege to [[Storm's End]], although [[Cortnay Penrose]] defies him.
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Then he offers terms: Robb can rule in Winterfell and even go on calling himself King in the North, but he must bend the knee to Renly as his overlord. When Catelyn asks the consequences of refusal, Renly insists he means to be king of a united realm and reminds her that [[Torrhen Stark]] was wise to yield to [[Aegon I Targaryen]], adding that if they join together the war is good as done.
  
==References and Notes==
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Just then, a messenger rides into the yard with news that [[Storm's End]] is under attack, although Ser [[Cortnay Penrose]] defies the besiegers. When Renly protests that he would know if Lord Tywin had left Harrenhal, the messenger replies that these are no Lannisters; it Lord Stannis at the gates, calling himself ''King'' Stannis.
{{References|2}}
 
*Analyses and summary of the chapter [http://slynt.blogspot.com/2011/10/re-read-catelyn-ii-host-of-hundreds-and.html in the course of a 10th reread] by Slynt.
 
*[http://www.tor.com/blogs/2012/03/a-read-of-ice-and-fire-a-clash-of-kings-part-11 Review and summary] by Leigh Butler.
 
  
 
[[Category: A Song of Ice And Fire chapters|A Clash of Kings: Chapter 22]]
 
[[Category: A Song of Ice And Fire chapters|A Clash of Kings: Chapter 22]]
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[[Category:Chapters which take place in the Riverlands]]
 
[[Category:Chapters which take place in the Riverlands]]
 
[[Category:Chapters which take place in Bitterbridge]]
 
[[Category:Chapters which take place in Bitterbridge]]
 
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[[es:Choque de Reyes-Capítulo 22]]
 
[[fr:A Clash of Kings, Chapitre 23, Catelyn]]
 
[[fr:A Clash of Kings, Chapitre 23, Catelyn]]
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[[pt:A Fúria dos Reis - Capítulo 22]]

Latest revision as of 21:47, 18 September 2019

Catelyn II
A Clash of Kings chapter
AClashOfKings.jpg
POV Catelyn Tully
Place Bitterbridge
Page 245 UK HC (Other versions)
Chapter chronology (All)
Catelyn I
Bran III  ← Catelyn II →  Jon III

Catelyn III

As envoy to King Renly Baratheon, Catelyn arrives at Bitterbridge to find a great melee in progress. Afterward, the champion Brienne of Tarth is granted her request to become one of Renly's Rainbow Guard. That night Catelyn attends a feast and meets privately with Renly, who insists Robb must bend the knee to him. Then, a messenger arrives with news that King Stannis Baratheon has besieged Storm's End.

Synopsis

A cruel dawn wakes Catelyn from sweet dreams of happy family life. She is weary of riding, hurting, and being strong, but she knows she cannot allow herself to be weak today. Outside her tent, she finds Shadd stirring oats into a kettle. Ser Wendel Manderly suggests supplementing this with roast quail, but Catelyn decides oats and bread are sufficient since they have many leagues to travel.

Her party includes twenty of Robb's best Winterfell men and five lordlings, including Ser Wendel, Ser Perwyn Frey, Lucas Blackwood, and Robin Flint, to add weight and honor to her negotiations with King Renly. It is a mission Catelyn never wanted, but Robb insisted he had no one else: Lord Hoster Tully was too ill, and he needed Ser Brynden Tully to command his scouts and Ser Edmure Tully to hold Riverrun when he marched. Catelyn argued that marching was rash, but Robb insisted waiting would make him look afraid and weaken his position, especially since Lysa Arryn will not support him. Catelyn feared he planned to play into Tywin Lannister's hand and march on Harrenhal, but Robb countered that he said nothing of Harrenhal. Catelyn smiles at the memory of Robb's obvious ploy of threatening to send Greatjon Umber in her place, given how ill-suited the Greatjon is to treat with a man like Renly. Before leaving, she wrote to Bran and Rickon and visited her father but he mistook her for her mother.

Half a day's ride from Renly's camp they are spotted from a windmill and intercepted by Ser Colen of Greenpools with twenty men. When Catelyn announces herself as the envoy of the King in the North, Ser Colen insists that Renly is king of all the Seven Kingdoms and escorts her to his camp at Bitterbridge, where the roseroad crosses the Mander. With nearly all the chivalry of the south behind him, Renly's camp is immense. Thousands of cookfires cloud the air and a vast menagerie of banners fly from a veritable forest of staffs. Monstrous siege engines line the road, tents and pavilions dot the landscape, and the whole place bustles with people. Everywhere Catelyn sees the golden rose of House Tyrell and across the river Renly and his storm lords have raised their own standards. Catelyn recognizes many of the sigils, but for each one she knows there are a dozen she does not, all assembled to make Renly a king.

Passing through a line of pavilions, they come upon a tourney melee taking place beneath the battlements of a small castle. Less than a score of contestants remain ahorse, cheered on by hundreds of spectators. Since penetrating the crowd proves difficult, Ser Colen asks that Catelyn's escort wait while he presents her to the king. A roar goes up when a knight of House Tarth in cobalt armor unhorses Red Ronnet Connington, but the carnage makes Catelyn think it mad for Renly to be playing at war with real enemies all around.

Among the lords and ladies in the gallery, Catelyn recognizes stout Lord Mathis Rowan, delicate Lady Arwyn Oakheart, and martial Lord Randyll Tarly, but others she knows only by sigil or not at all. The handsome King Renly sits in their midst, looking like a youthful ghost of his brother Robert and laughing with his young queen Margaery Tyrell, a girl of Robb's age with a shy smile and curly brown hair. Catelyn knows their marriage is the mortar of the great southron alliance, and the rose sigil and green-and-gold colors of House Tyrell are prominent in Renly's slender crown and velvet tunic.

King Renly Baratheon's army camped beneath the walls of Bitterbridge, by Matthew Cowdery © Fantasy Flight Games

Out on the field, only four men remain and both king and commons obviously favor young Ser Loras Tyrell in his silver mail and rainbow cloak. Two others ally against the blue-clad knight from Tarth but are quickly unhorsed. Forced to discard his now-broken shield for the final duel, the blue knight is at a disadvantage and soon disarmed by Ser Loras. Yet as Loras prepares the final blow, the blue knight charges into it, grapples him to the ground, and opens Tyrell's visor with a dirk to make him to yield.

As the blue knight salutes the king in victory, squires rush to help Loras Tyrell remove his helm and Catelyn is startled by his youth and beauty. Renly then bids the champion to approach and there are a few cries of "Tarth!" and, oddly, "A Beauty!" but most remain silent. Renly declares the blue knight to be all his father claimed since Loras is rarely unhorsed, but Catelyn overhears accusations of trickery from the crowd. When she asks why the man in blue is so disliked, Ser Colen explains that the champion is no man but Brienne of Tarth, the daughter of Lord Selwyn the Evenstar, who is often called "Brienne the Beauty," though never to her face.

King Renly officially declares Brienne the champion as the last mounted of 116 knights and offers her any reward within his power. Brienne asks to be made one of his seven Rainbow Guard and Renly agrees. It is only when Brienne removes her greathelm that Catelyn understands Ser Colen's words: the only thing beautiful about Brienne are her girlish blue eyes. Her face is broad, coarse, and freckled, with a large mouth full of crooked teeth and a nose that has been broken more than once. Catelyn is filled with pity for the girl, yet Brienne looks anything but unfortunate when Renly fastens the rainbow cloak to her shoulders, and her face lights up with a smile as she proudly pledges to give her life for him.

Ser Colen interjects to introduce Catelyn, though she needs to insist that Robb is King in the North as well as Lord of Winterfell. Renly looks surprised, but greets her warmly and introduces his queen, who offers condolences for her husband's death. Renly even swears to bring her Cersei Lannister's head when he takes King's Landing, but Catelyn replies that justice will be enough. Brienne of Tarth notes that Catelyn should kneel and refer to the king as "Your Grace," but Catelyn insists they have more pressing matters to discuss. Some of Renly's lords bristle, but the king only laughs and asks when Robb plans to march on Harrenhal. Unsure whether Renly will be a friend or a foe, Catelyn only replies that she does not sit on the war council. Renly asks about Jaime Lannister and, learning he is a prisoner, declares that the direwolf is gentler than the lion. Lord Randyll Tarly pipes up that Robb should have come to pay homage in person, but Catelyn counters that her son is fighting a war, not playing at one. Renly grins and warns Lord Tarly that he is outmatched, then offers Catelyn the use of his own pavilion (since he is guesting at Lord Lorent Caswell's castle) and invites her to the evening's farewell feast.

Renly's pavilion is so massive and richly furnished that Catelyn understands why his host moves so slowly, and that evening she is seated between Mathis Rowan and Ser Jon Fossoway. Meanwhile, Brienne of Tarth is seated at the far end of the high table in knight's garments instead of a lady's and Catelyn notes that out of her armor Brienne looks muscular, plain, and ungainly, and judges from the woman's actions that she knows it.

Brienne of Tarth, by Quickreaver © Fantasy Flight Games

Singers and tumblers entertain them, and the food is rich and plentiful, but Catelyn eats only sparingly and watches those around her. King Renly speaks amiably to all and sometimes feeds Queen Margaery choice morsels or kisses her lightly, but it is Ser Loras who shares most in his jests and confidences. Others are less moderate: the brothers Josua and Elyas Willum dispute who will be first over the walls of King's Landing, Lord Varner dandles a serving girl, Ser Guyard Morrigen sings a bad song about knotting lions' tails, Ser Mark Mullendore feeds his pet monkey from his plate, and Ser Tanton Fossoway climbs onto the table and swears to slay Sandor Clegane in single combat.

When a gold-dressed fool and a dwarf elicit gales of laughter by mocking Jaime and Tyrion Lannister, Lord Rowan remarks to Catelyn that Renly and his favorites are all very young. Seeing Lord Bryce Caron goad Ser Robar Royce into juggling daggers, Catelyn recalls that none of them are old enough to have seen war, so they think it is a game and believe themselves immortal. She tells Lord Rowan that war will make them old, as it did her generation, and says she pities them because they are the knights of summer and winter is coming. Brienne chimes in to disagree, saying:

Winter will never come for the likes of us. Should we die in battle, they will surely sing of us, and it’s always summer in the songs. In the songs all knights are gallant, all maids are beautiful, and the sun is always shining.

Catelyn knows that winter comes for everyone, as it did for her when Ned died, but King Renly saves her from having to say so by asking her to take the air with him. Brienne wants to come along as well, but Renly insists another sword will make no difference in the midst of his own army. Brienne seems very hurt by the refusal.

As they walk, Renly asks if Ser Barristan Selmy has joined Robb at Riverrun. When Catelyn seems puzzled, Renly tells her of Selmy's dismissal and his vow to serve the true king, adding that Brienne's position in the Rainbow Guard was meant for Selmy. Next, Renly explains that he offered Ned a hundred swords to seize Joffrey but fled when refused because he lacked the strength to act alone and feared Cersei meant to kill him after Robert died. He adds that he liked Ned well enough and knew him to be Robert's loyal friend, but says Ned would not listen or bend.

Leading her out onto the roof, Renly shows Catelyn his army's countless campfires and asks how many fires burn around Riverrun. He guesses that Robb has 40,000 men at most, though Catelyn knows the real number is much lower. Renly declares that he has twice as many with him, and another 10,000 with Mace Tyrell at Highgarden, a strong garrison at Storm's End, and soon all the power of Dorne and his brother Stannis Baratheon on Dragonstone. Catelyn counters sharply that Renly seems to have forgotten that Stannis has the better claim. Renly replies that Stannis is respected and feared but not loved and would make an appalling king. Gesturing to his army, Renly declares that his claim is as good as Robert's ever was.

Then he offers terms: Robb can rule in Winterfell and even go on calling himself King in the North, but he must bend the knee to Renly as his overlord. When Catelyn asks the consequences of refusal, Renly insists he means to be king of a united realm and reminds her that Torrhen Stark was wise to yield to Aegon I Targaryen, adding that if they join together the war is good as done.

Just then, a messenger rides into the yard with news that Storm's End is under attack, although Ser Cortnay Penrose defies the besiegers. When Renly protests that he would know if Lord Tywin had left Harrenhal, the messenger replies that these are no Lannisters; it Lord Stannis at the gates, calling himself King Stannis.