A Clash of Kings-Chapter 22
|A Clash of Kings chapter|
|Place||Going south on the Riverlands - Bitterbridge|
|Page||245 UK HC (Other versions)|
|Chapter chronology (All)|
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 insists that Robb must bend the knee to him. Then, a messenger brings news that King Stannis Baratheon has arrived.
Catelyn has sweet dreams of family life before this chaos befell her family. A cruel dawn wakes her to reality; she is weary of riding, hurt, tired of having to be strong, and wants to weep. 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. Catelyn is accompanied by 20 of Robb Stark’s best Winterfell men and five lordlings, including Lucas Blackwood, Ser Perwyn Frey, Robin Flint and Hallis Mollen, to add weight and honor for her to treat with Renly Baratheon.
It is a mission she did not want, but Robb 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 insisted that he needs to, so as not to seem afraid to take the field, and the Lannisters will give nothing if he just sits; it is obvious that Lysa will not be coming to support the cause. Catelyn feared he would march on Harrenhal, but he said he would not. When he threatened to send Greatjon in her stead, she saw no choice since she knew Greatjon was not suited to treat with Renly.
They are half a day’s ride from Renly’s camp when Robin Flint sees a watcher on a distant windmill. A mile beyond, 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.
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 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 is 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 a melee in progress beneath the battlement of the small castle. Ser Colen asks them to wait so he can present them to the king.
As they wait, Catelyn thinks that it is madness to have a tourney in the middle of a war. She can see the lords and ladies in the galley: the handsome Renly, looking just like King Robert did 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!” 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 is in a battle with a now shieldless blue knight armed with a Morningstar. Finally, the horses crash to the ground with Loras on the bottom and he has to yield. When the winner removes Loras' helmet, Catelyn is surprised how young he is. Renly asks the champion to approach, telling him he is all that his father claimed, and that Renly has seen Ser Loras unhorsed only once or twice. Catelyn asks who the knight is and Ser Colen reveals that it is Brienne of Tarth, daughter to Lord Selwyn the Evenstar, much to Catelyn's bemusement. He adds that she is often called Brienne the Beauty, but never to her face.
After King Renly declares Brienne champion, last mounted of 116 knights, he declares that he will grant her any wish she wants. Brienne asks to become a member of his Rainbow Guard, to ride at his side and keep him safe from all hurt and harm. Renly agrees, putting the rainbow cloak on Brienne, who is a hand taller than him. Brienne then swears by the old and new gods to give her life for his.
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’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 only responds that she is not on the war council. Then, she is asked about Jaime Lannister who she says is being held prisoner. Renly responds 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, retorts that her son is fighting a war, not playing at one. 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 asks that she dine with him at the feast that night.
The pavilion is massive, and richly furnished; Catelyn now understands why Renly’s host moves so slowly. She 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 table in knight’s garments instead of a lady’s. Catelyn notes that her body looks muscular, plain and ungainly, and from her actions she knows it and suffers for it.
Catelyn watches as Lord Willum’s sons Josua Willum and Elyas Willum dispute over who will be first over King's Landing’s walls, Lord Steffon Varner dandles a serving girl, Guyard Morrigen badly sings about tying lions’ tails in knots, Ser Mark Mullendore feeds his monkey from his plate, and Ser Tanton Fossoway climbs on the table, swearing to slay Sandor Clegane. Then there is a fool dressed in gold chasing a dwarf around the tables. Lord Rowan notes to Catelyn that they are all so young, and Catelyn agrees, thinking 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:
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 them, as it did for her when the Lannisters killed her husband, when King Renly asks her to accompany him.
As they walk, Renly asks Catelyn if Ser Barristan Selmy is with them at Riverrun. When a bemused Catelyn answers no, Renly explains that the foolish Lannisters gave Ser Barristan's cloak to the Hound and that Ser Barristan vowed to give his service to the true king. Next, Renly reveals that he went to 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. He guesses that Robb has 40,00 men at most, half of what Renly has, and Mace Tyrell has another 10,000 in Highgarden, as well as expecting the power of Dorne and Dragonstone to join him as well; Catelyn knows Robb has lost men in battle and to the harvest. To her issue with Stannis Baratheon being the true heir, Renly replies that 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; Renly argues that if Robb joins forces with him, the war is as good as over.
At that moment, a messenger rides up, demanding to speak to Renly, The messenger reveals that Storm's End is under attack, although Cortnay Penrose defies the besiegers. When Renly protests that there is no way Tywin Lannister could have left Harrenhal without him knowing, the messenger replies that the attackers are not Lannisters; they are the host of Lord, or as he calls himself, King Stannis.