Catelyn and a guard march south toward Renly. Although Catelyn wanted to stay with her father in Riverrun, but Robb sent her as his emissary. Unbeknownst to Catelyn, Robb wants Edmure to hold Riverrun while he takes his forces to the field. Catelyn's party eventually reaches Renly’s enormous camp. A tournament is under way that Renly watches with his new bride, Margaery, daughter of the powerful southern lord Mace Tyrell. Catelyn sees an unknown knight defeat Ser Loras Tyrell, the famed Knight of Flowers. This victorious knight is a woman, Brienne of Tarth. As a prize for her victory, Brienne asks to become a member of Renly’s Rainbow Guard. Renly greets Catelyn and provides her with large and luxurious living quarters for her stay. Catelyn reflects on how young Renly and his men seem.
Renly and Catelyn walk out together. Renly tells Catelyn that Eddard could have taken the throne but was too concerned about doing his duty to Robert to seize power. Renly shows Catelyn his army, which vastly outnumbers Robb’s, and suggests that Robb should bow to him. A messenger tells them that Stannis has laid siege to Renly’s forces at Storm’s End.
Jon and the men of the Night’s Watch arrive at Craster’s Keep, a crumbling homestead inhabited by a savage old man named Craster and his numerous daughters, who are also his wives. One of the young women, who is pregnant, asks Jon to take her with them, but he refuses. If her child is a boy, Craster will give it to the cold gods, and Jon realizes she means the undead Others. The Old Bear learns from Craster that Mance Rayder, a wildling who has declared himself the King-beyond-the-Wall, has been gathering people in the remote mountains to the north and means to invade the Seven Kingdoms. The Old Bear says that since the armies of the Seven Kingdoms are busy fighting one another, the Night’s Watch will have to find Mance and destroy him.
While looking over his new longship at the docks, Theon flirts with a beautiful, witty woman. She says that she is Esgred, the shipwright’s wife. Esgred agrees to return with Theon to the castle. On the way, Theon notices that the people of Pyke finally seem to be acknowledging him, bowing as they pass. Theon brags that he will inherit the Iron Islands and that his sister, Asha, poses no threat to him, since she is ugly and mannish. When they reach the castle, the servants greet Esgred as Lady Asha. She tells Theon that she wanted to learn what he was like before she revealed herself as his sister. Theon is furious and humiliated. At a feast that night, Asha embarrasses him further by demonstrating her skill with an axe, and she warns Theon that men will not follow him because he has gone soft.
Balon calls Theon and Asha into a council with his advisers. Theon offers ideas, but Balon dismisses him. Balon orders Theon to take a small group and raid the coastal villages, while Asha and Victarion, Balon’s brother, lead larger forces on a direct assault on the north, where they will take Robb’s kingdom.
Tyrion tells Cersei that Stannis and Renly are preparing to battle one another at Storm’s End. Tyrion sneaks a potion into Cersei’s cup of wine before they toast their good fortune. At the royal court the next day, with Cersei sick in her chambers, Tyrion tells Ser Cleos Frey to return to Robb with Eddard’s bones and new, obviously unacceptable peace terms. Tyrion orders Vylarr, the captain of the Lannister household guards that have been protecting Cersei, to take his men and accompany Cleos. Ser Alliser Thorne of the Night’s Watch arrives and tells the court about the encounter with the undead Others at the Wall. Everyone laughs at Alliser’s story and Tyrion appears dismissive, but he does give Alliser permission to take prisoners from the dungeons to staff the Wall.
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