A Game of Thrones-Chapter 47

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Eddard XIII
A Game of Thrones chapter
POV Eddard
Place King's Landing
Page 419 US HC (Other versions)
Chapter chronology (All)
Eddard XII
Daenerys V  ← Eddard XIII →  Jon VI

Eddard XIV

Eddard Stark learns that Robert Baratheon is dying. When he arrives, Robert has Ned write his will, which declares Ned the Regent. Ned arranges for one of his men take a letter to Stannis Baratheon on Dragonstone, offering him the throne as the rightful heir. He then declares his intentions to Littlefinger, and asks for Littlefinger to arrange for the City Watch of King's Landing to support him.


Ned is dreaming of walking through the crypts beneath Winterfell. The Kings of Winter watch him with eyes of ice, and the direwolves at their feet snarl. Finally, he comes to the tomb where his father, Lyanna, and Brandon sleep. Ned hears Lyanna statue whisper “Promise me, Ned” and her eyes weep blood. Ned jerks awake with someone pounding at his door.

The king’s steward tells Ned that King Robert demands his presence. When Ned reaches Maegor's Holdfast, he finds Kingsguard guarding the bridge and inside the royal apartments. Looking at Ser Barristan Selmy, who is waiting outside the king’s bedchamber, Ned can tell something is terribly wrong.

Inside the bedchamber, he finds Robert in bed with Grand Maester Pycelle, Renly Baratheon, and Cersei Lannister gathered around him. The room smells of smoke, blood, and death. Tattered and blood-stained clothes litter the floor. Ned can see that his friend is dying. Robert explains that it was a boar and that he had too much wine and missed his thrust. When Ned asks where the rest of them were, Renly explains that Robert had called everyone off to try to take the boar himself. Ned lifts the blanket and verifies that they have done what they can to close the rip from groin to nipple but it is not nearly enough. The smell of death is horrible and overpowering; Robert declares that even he can smell it, but still takes pride in having killed the boar.

Robert then orders everyone but Ned to leave. Pycelle tries to give Robert the milk of the poppy before leaving, but Robert refuses. Once they are gone, Ned damns Robert for being so headstrong. Robert damns Ned right back, declaring that he killed the bastard and should have done the same to Ned for not leaving him to hunt in peace. He then admits that Ned was right about Daenerys Targaryen and asserts the boar was sent by the gods to punish him. Robert then expresses gratitude and admiration that Ned was the only one to tell him that he was wrong.

Robert tells Ned to write his final testament, in which he names Ned as Lord Regent and Protector of the Realm until his son comes of age. Ned cannot bring himself to tell Robert that Joffrey is not his son, so instead he clandestinely changes the words to “my heir,” feeling soiled as he does so. Ned tells Robert that he cannot die because the realm needs him, but Robert replies that the realm knows what a wretched king he was; bad as Aerys. Ned insists that Robert was not as bad as Aerys and Robert declares that at least this one thing he did right: he has declared Ned as Regent and Ned will do it well.

Robert signs the document and tells Ned that they are to serve the boar at his funeral feast. He then asks that Ned rescind the death warrant on Daenerys and also to help his son be better than he was. Before Ned leaves the king mumbles that he ought to laugh at being killed by a pig, but it hurts too much.

The queen has left, but the rest come back in. The king has Renly and Pycelle bear witness to his placing the seal on the letter. Then the king asks for and drinks the milk of the poppy. As he fades off to sleep, he asks Ned if he will dream and Ned assures him he will. Then Robert declares that he will give Ned’s love to Lyanna. Last of all Robert requests that Ned guard his children; unable to tell the truth and unable to lie, all that Ned can think of is Robert’s bastards when he tells him that he will.

Pycelle tells Ned that he had done all that he can, but the wound had already mortified; it had taken two days to get Robert back. When Ned asks how long, he is told that by rights the king should be dead already. Renly adds that Robert was always strong, though perhaps not wise, recounting that Robert slew the boar even with his guts hanging out. Ned replies admiringly that Robert was never one to leave the battle with an enemy standing.

Ser Barristan is still standing outside and Ned tells him that the king is not to be disturbed. Ser Barristan tells Ned that he has failed his sacred trust. Ned reassures the old knight that no one can defend a man against himself. Ned tells the knight that the king even blamed the wine. The knight tells Ned that the king had been reeling. Varys, who has just appeared, asks who gave Robert all the wine, and the Lord Commander tells them it was the King’s elder squire, Lancel Lannister. Varys states that he hopes the lad does not blame himself. Ned informs Varys that the king wants the arrangements for the assassination of Daenerys canceled. Varys tells him that those birds have flown but will do what he can.

Tomard and Cayn are helping Ned across the bridge when Lord Renly arrives and asks for a private word. Renly asks if Robert’s will makes him regent and, knowing his answer, tells Ned that he has 100 swords to offer him. Renly declares that if they strike now, they can take the Red Keep and seize the children. Ned refuses, stating that while Robert is still alive he will not shed blood in the castle. Renly tells him that every moment he delays gives Cersei more time to prepare. Ned declares that they should pray for Robert’s recovery; sometimes the gods are merciful. Renly answers that the Lannisters are not.

By the time he returns to his Tower, Ned wonders if he should have accepted Renly’s offer; if the queen fights he will need every sword he can get. He has no taste for these intrigues. Ned first asks Cayn to bring Littlefinger to him and then commands Tomard to take 20 men to guard his daughter’s to the ship to take them to Winterfell. He then tells Tomard to stop at Dragonstone on the way and deliver a letter to Lord Stannis, for his eyes only. After Tomard leaves, Ned sits in grief for his great friend and thinks how some will say that he had betrayed his king’s friendship and disinherited his sons, but that the gods will know better and that Robert will learn the truth in the land beyond the grave. He then composes a letter to Stannis, telling him of his brother’s death and offering him the throne as the rightful heir. As he seals the letter he thinks that his regency will be short and he can return to Winterfell.

Littlefinger arrives and congratulates Ned for being named Protector of the Realm. When asked how he knows, he states the Varys told him, and that Ned has just confirmed it. Ned damns Varys and his birds, and states that he does not trust him. Littlefinger declares that Ned is learning. Ned tells him he knows the secret that Jon Arryn was murdered for. Littlefinger's lack of reaction to the truth shows that he obviously knew the secret all along.

Ned declares his intention to offer the throne to Stannis, but Littlefinger tells him he is a fool if he does not bow to Joffrey. Stannis is not a friend of Ned's or Littlefinger's; even his brothers cannot stand him because he is hard and unyielding. Stannis will appoint his own Hand and Small Council, and his ascension will mean war for the realm; he will seek the heads of Cersei and the children to secure his position on the Iron Throne (an act that will incite Tywin Lannister and the houses sworn to Casterly Rock to an uprising), those of Lords Tyrell and Redwyne as revenge for the siege of Storm's End, and even Lord Balon Greyjoy for his rebellion. According to Littlefinger, any who stood by the Targaryens during Robert's Rebellion or rose with the Greyjoys will have cause to fear Stannis's ascent to the throne.

Littlefinger proposes another course of action: that Ned make his peace with the Lannisters, wed Sansa to Joffrey, his heir to Myrcella and his younger daughter to Tommen and rule as Hand of the King and Protector of the Realm until Joffrey comes of age in four years’ time. This should be sufficient to deal with the threat of Stannis and, should Joffrey prove unsuitable, they can reveal the truth of his parentage and place Renly on the throne. Ned tells Littlefinger that what he is proposing is treason. Littlefinger replies that it will only be treason if they lose. Ned tells him that he forgets Jon Arryn, Jory Cassel, and the attempt to kill Bran. Littlefinger states that he did forget he was talking to a Stark.

Ned then declares that he is going to call on the aid Littlefinger promised Catelyn. Cersei has a dozen knights and 100 men-at-arms, enough to overwhelm his household guard. Littlefinger then points out there are lords that have no love for the Lannisters that have guards. Ned states they are not enough—that he needs Littlefinger to secure him the City Watch of King's Landing. Littlefinger insists that when the Hand proclaims one king and the Queen another, the Gold Cloaks will side with the one who pays better. With that in mind, Littlefinger states that he will meet with the Watch Commander with a bribe of 6000 gold dragons.

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References and Notes