A Clash of Kings-Chapter 31
|A Clash of Kings chapter|
|Place||Outside the walls of Storm's End|
|Page||344 UK HC (Other versions)|
|Chapter chronology (All)|
Catelyn meets with Stannis Baratheon and Renly Baratheon in hopes of bringing the brothers to reason. She fails and learns that Stannis has sent a letter claiming that neither Joffery nor Tommen are Robert Baratheon’s sons. Even though there is no proof, she remembers that Lysa claimed that Cersei killed her husband. Catelyn asks Renly’s leave but is not given it—he wants her to see him victorious in the morning.
Hallis Mollen announces to Catelyn that they are the first to arrive at an area where the trees have been cut down by Stannis Baratheon’s foragers to build siege equipment. Ser Wendel Manderly tells Catelyn that this is not their fight and Catelyn replies that she was sent here by Robb Stark and for the good of the realm it must be done, but forging a peace between the brothers will not be easy; she would prefer to be with her dying father Hoster Tully in Riverrun or back in Winterfell. In the distance she can see Storm's End and Stannis’ army looking small and insignificant under its walls.
Catelyn thinks about the history of Storm’s End and of the love between the first Storm King, Durran, and Elenei, the daughter of the sea god and the goddess of the wind. After the wedding, Elenei yielded her maidenhood and immortality. Her parents unleashed storm and wind to destroy Durran’s hold, killing all but Durran and his wife, who had protected him within her arms. It was the seventh castle he built that managed to withstand the storms. It is said that this castle was built with the help of the Children of the Forest or a child that became known as Brandon the Builder.
Stannis is the first to arrive with a Red Priestess as his standard bearer; Catelyn knows that Renly will be last. Stannis expresses his surprise to find her here, and gives his condolences for her husband Eddard Stark, though he notes Stark was no friend of his. Stannis is not grateful for Eddard’s part in breaking the siege, saying it was on Robert Baratheon’s command. He holds it against Eddard that he took the position of Hand of the King, which he did not even want. Stannis tells her that regardless of his feelings for her husband, Catelyn will have justice for his murder; she responds that Renly promised the same, but she would prefer her daughters back. Stannis promises that her daughters will be found when he takes King's Landing. Catelyn thinks his tone implies dead or alive, and tells him that King’s Landing is closer to Dragonstone, but he is at Storm’s End. He replies that he needs the power of the southron lords to take King’s Landing, and so he must take them from his brother, who owes him loyalty and obedience as his elder and rightful king. Stannis then asks if Robb has thrown his lot in with Renly, and is told he is King of the North by the will of the lords and people, and only holds his hand out in friendship. Stannis replies that kings have no friends, only subjects and enemies.
At this point, Renly’s party arrives with Brienne of Tarth bearing the banner. Renly asks about Stannis' sigil and the priestess replies it is the fiery heart of the Lord of Light. Renly says it is just as well since, if they had the same banner, the battle would be confused. Catelyn expresses hope that there will be no battle, and Stannis states that the Iron Throne is his by rights, and those who deny this are his foes. Catelyn tells them that this is folly with the Kingslayer’s host reforming at the Golden Tooth, another Lannister host gathering at Casterly Rock, and Tywin Lannister at Harrenhal with 20,000 men, and the Lannisters holding King's Landing. Renly immediately demands that Stannis bend his knee to him, and Stannis absolutely refuses, stating he is eldest and denouncing Renly as a usurper. Renly responds that the Targaryens called Robert a usurper and he bore up under the shame. Catelyn tries to convince them to be reasonable, only to be rebuked by Stannis, who asserts that he is the rightful king; Stannis also adds that he considers her son no less a traitor than Renly, and promises to deal with Robb in due time. Catelyn asks how he is the rightful king, given that Robert had two sons, at which Renly laughs, stating that she has not seen Stannis’ letter. Stannis tells Catelyn that Joffrey and his siblings are not of Robert’s seed, but bastards born of incest between Cersei and her brother.
Catelyn asks why Stannis kept this knowledge to himself, and is told that he approached Jon Arryn since he figured that Robert would be more willing to listen to Jon, whom he loved, as opposed to Stannis, from whom such accusations would have seemed self serving. Renly points out that Jon is dead, and Stannis states that his death was not by happenstance, that Cersei poisoned him. Catelyn, immediately putting the pieces together, adds that her sister Lysa accused the queen of killing her husband. Renly tells Stannis that he may have the greater right, but Renly has the bigger army.
Renly reaches under his cloak, and Stannis immediately goes for his sword, but Renly only brings out a peach, offering it to Stannis. Stannis retorts he did not come there to eat fruit, and Renly replies a man should never refuse a peach because life is short and as the Starks say, “Winter is Coming.” Stannis thinks this is a threat but Renly states it was not, and he tells Stannis he never liked him, but he is of his blood, and if it is Storm’s End he wants, he will give it to him. Stannis refuses, saying it is his. Renly states he refuses a peach, a castle and did not come to his wedding. Stannis sneers that the wedding was a farce, considering Renly married a woman he was scheming to make one of Robert’s whores a year before. Renly corrects this, saying he was going to make Margaery Tyrell his queen, but Robert was killed by a boar, and so he got Margaery. He reveals he plans to have a son with her within a year, and then asks Stannis how many sons he has, telling him that if he had a wife that looked like Stannis's, he would send his fool to service her as well. Infuriated, Stannis draws his blade which shines strangely, roaring that he will not tolerate Renly mocking him to his face, but Brienne moves between them. Stannis tells Renly that he will not kill Renly with Lightbringer, and will give him till dawn to pledge to him, for the sake of their late mother. In return, Stannis will grant him Storm’s End, a seat on the council, and name him his heir until he has a son; otherwise he will destroy Renly. Renly laughs, pointing out that he has the strength in banners: House Rowan, House Tarly, House Caron, House Tarth, House Penrose, House Fossoway, House Cuy, House Mullendore, House Estermont, House Selmy, House Hightower, House Oakheart, House Crane, House Caswell, House Blackbar, House Morrigen, House Beesbury, House Shermer, House Dunn, House Footly and Stannis' wife’s House Florent. What is present is only the vanguard, with 100,000 foot still to arrive. After exchanging taunts, Stannis gallops away, the Red Priestess staying long enough to say before also leaving:
Look to your own sins, Lord Renly.
Catelyn tells Renly that his brother is the lawful heir if Joffrey is Jaime’s son. Renly replies this is true only while he lives, and asks if Catelyn would agree that it is a fool’s law since he would be a better king than either Robert or Stannis. He will be a great king:
strong yet generous, clever, just, diligent, loyal to my friends and terrible to my enemies, yet capable of forgiveness, patient-
Renly laughs and states
You must allow a king some flaws, my lady.
Catelyn feels very tired; she has failed, and her son will have to face the Lannisters alone while the Baratheon brothers destroy each other. She thinks how much Renly is like his brother Robert, but Robert had Eddard to temper him. Eddard would have prevailed on Robert to bring the whole force to besiege Stannis, the besieger, instead of forging ahead with only the horses and no fodder. Now he must come to battle soon or starve. Catelyn accompanies Renly back to his pavilion, sending Hal Mollen to tend to the horses.
Once inside, Renly states his brother has not changed, and since he will not take his gifts, maybe he should fight. Lord Mathis Rowan points out that the castle is well provisioned and has a strong garrison under Ser Cortnay Penrose; they can let Stannis have a profitless siege. Renly, however, is concerned that men will say he fears Stannis. Lord Randyll Tarly thinks they cannot leave him unblooded since he may grow stronger than Renly, and the others seem to agree. Renly decides that they will fight. At this, Catelyn sees no point in not returning to Riverrun, so she asks to leave, but is told she cannot; she must watch so she can tell her son what happens to rebels.
Renly then gives command of the center to Lord Mathis Rowan, the left to Bryce Caron, and the reserve to Lord Eldon Estermont, while Renly takes the right. Lord Mathis Rowan asks who will have the van, and Ser Jon Fossoway first asks the honor, but Ser Guyard the Green states that it should be one of the seven. Randyll Tarly states he led Mace Tyrell’s van since before most of those present were born. After a clamor fills the pavilion, Renly gives the honor to Ser Loras Tyrell. Ser Loras accepts and asks for one of his knights to ride beside him, so that the stag and rose can go to battle side by side. Renly gives Brienne this honor. She wants to fight by his side, but is told that there are four of the Rainbow Guard that will fight beside him. She accepts the duty, but requests that she arm him for battle. Renly accepts. Catelyn can hear someone snigger. Renly then asks them to leave him.
Before she leaves, Catelyn asks to visit a sept she saw in a village, and Renly tells Ser Robar Royce to provide an escort, but to return by dawn. Catelyn tells him he should also pray, not for victory but for wisdom. Renly tells Ser Loras to remain with him to help him pray. 
Ser Robar Royce is a member of the Rainbow guard and Catelyn knows him slightly, that he is known for his skill in the tourney, the son of Yohn Royce, bannerman to House Arryn. She asks him about this and he says his father owes fealty as does his heir, but he is a second son. He is tired of tourneys and looking for glory.
References and Notes
- George R. R. Martin has confirmed that Renly and Loras have a relationship