Eddard prepares to leave the brothel, run by Chataya, with Lord Petyr, Jory, Heward, and Wyl. He found another bastard of Robert’s at the brothel, a baby girl named Barra, who has fine dark hair. They begin the ride back to the Red Keep. Eddard thinks of Lyanna. She once told him that Robert would never keep to one bed, and when Eddard protested that Robert loved her, she responded that love could not change a man’s nature. Eddard asks Petyr what he knows of Robert’s bastards. Petyr does not know how many Robert has, but says there is one acknowledged bastard that he begot with a Florent on the night Stannis wed his wife. When the boy was born, Robert shipped him to Renly at Storm’s End. There are also rumors that he had twins with a serving girl at Casterly Rock three years ago when he attended Lord Tywin’s tourney and that Cersei had the babies killed and the mother sold into slavery. Eddard asks Petyr why Lord Jon would take an interest in Robert’s bastards and why someone would kill him for it. Petyr finds the idea preposterous. Eddard suddenly thinks of Rhaegar and wonders if the prince ever visited brothels. He believes the prince did not. Suddenly, Eddard and Petyr are surrounded by twentyLannister house guards led by Jaime. Jaime asks after Tyrion, and Eddard says he has been taken at his order to answer for his crimes. Jaime tells Petyr to leave, and Petyr promises to bring the City Watch. Jaime prepares to kill Eddard, but Eddard reminds Jaime that this would lead Catelyn to kill Tyrion. Jaime realizes this is so and tells the commander of his guards, Tregar, to make sure Eddard comes to no harm. He then orders Tregar to kill Eddard’s men and takes his leave. Eddard rushes to their aid and delivers a serious blow to Tregar, but he falls from his horse and breaks his leg. Jory, Heward, and Wyl are killed. The City Watch arrives some time later and brings him back to the Red Keep, where Grand Maester Pycelle prepares to treat his wounds.
It beat down on Ned’s head, warm as blood and relentless as old guilts. Fat drops of water ran down his face.
I want to open this chapter with this quote. Martin is really given to especially poetic writing but I really liked the way these two lines were crafted and they lead quite conveniently into the discussion I want to have about this chapter. The rain symbolizes Ned’s guilt and the blood he feels is on his hand – the fat drops of water running down his face is an eloquent and subtle way of telling us how strong both those sentiments are. The discussion of course comes from where that guilt is coming from. Let us, as always, begin with the assumption that Jon is Lyanna’s son. Why is Ned guilty about saving his sister’s son? Or is he feeling guilty because of the lies he told to his wife and friends? Guilt at not being able to save Lyanna? I really need this next book and I really need this little mystery to be put to bed once and for all. There are plenty of clues in this chapter, none solid enough to make a strong case, but just whispers in the wind that make sense but only if you already know what you’re looking for. For example, he thinks of Jon repeatedly but not his ‘mother’. When he was visiting a brothel and talking about adultery and sleeping around, his keeps thinking of Jon but does not once think of the woman he allegedly slept with to conceive Jon. He does however, think of Lyanna a great deal. Then there’s this:
For the first time in years, he found himself remembering Rhaegar Targaryen. He wondered if Rhaegar had frequented brothels; somehow he thought not.
First of all, that sentence is a lie – he thought of Rhaegar plenty unless there’s a subtle difference between thinking about someone and remembering them. Second of all, well, everyone remarks on how Ned has such a high opinion of Rhaegar despite the former having allegedly kidnapped his sister and it is a fair point.
There’s a few other small matters in this chapter – like the rumour about Cersei having Robert’s bastard twins killed and selling the mother in slavery. I don’t know if it’s true, but it sounds like it certainly could be and if it is, fuck Cersei all the more. The prophecy remarks that Robert would have sixteen children, but I can only name six of his bastards: Edric Storm, Gendry, Barra, Mya Stone (who Ned held before, aww) and these twins (if that’s legit). Maybe some died in childbirth or something but sixteen is a lot though. I have no real comments on Jaime’s move to kill Ned’s men but leave him alive – it’s a dick move but nothing less than you’d expect from a man with shit for honour.