Varys reports to Cersei, Tyrion, and Petyr that Renly is dead. Renly’s foot remains at Bitterbridge, but most of his followers at Storm’s End have gone over to Stannis. Lord Alester Florent was the first to go over, but Loras Tyrell, Mathis Rowan, and Randyll Tarly did not. Ser Cortnay still holds out in Storm’s End. In all, one-fifth of Renly’s knights left with Loras. Loras slew Ser Robar and Ser Emmon in a blind rage when he learned of Renly’s death. Tyrion tells the others that this is an opportunity. He proposes they send an envoy to Bitterbridge to treat with Loras and win the Tyrells to their side. As part of the deal, they should betroth Joffrey to Margaery. Cersei resists the betrothal proposal at first, but relents. Cersei and Tyrion try to make each other the envoy to get a rival out of the city, and Petyr volunteers to go instead. He negotiates an escort of three hundred gold cloaks and twenty knights. Ser Hobber will be part of the escort and released to woo Lord Paxter. Lord Petyr says he will ride out before morning. When the meeting is over, Cersei, flanked by Ser Preston, tells Tyrion that he has been a big help and even kisses him on the brow. Tyrion thinks she is planning something and tells Bronn to find out what.
News of Renly’s death has reached King’s Landing and all of a sudden we find ourselves accelerating towards to the novel’s climax. It’s just not quite on the horizon just yet, but very soon we are going to find tensions rising incredibly within the city and this nice cooperative spirit amongst the politicians is going to evaporate before anyone can even guess what happened.
“Before you, Varys? I should never dream of it.”
The rivalry between Varys and Littelfinger is one of the things that I wish we got to see more of in the series. It’s not too on-the-nose since both characters are too smart to get into direct competition with each other but both seem very aware of the fact that their services tend to overlap a fair bit. I would say that Littlefinger has the advantage in some sense – Varys’ sole duty is as the Master of Whispers whereas Littlefinger is both a deputy spymaster but also the realm’s pre-eminent accountant. He isn’t expected to keep his ears to the ground and produce information to appease Cersei’s paranoia. However, I would say that Varys’ network is far stronger and more ubiquitous.
“Most of the lords who rode with Lord Renly to Storm’s End have gone over banner-and-blade to Stannis, with all their chivalry.”
Hmm, so if what I remember of Stannis’ army is correct, he had mostly foot soldiers in the beginning and then now has supplemented that meagre force with the bulk of Renly’s knights and horses. The battle of King’s Landing has always been a little foggy in my head, mainly because between the chaos of Davos’, Tyrion’s and Sansa’s perspectives, it was a little hard to piece it all together. We’re actually not all that far away from that battle, as it happens.
“Gold reasons,” Littlefinger suggested at once.
I don’t want to fall into the trap of running through everything Littlefinger says with a fine tooth comb, but I can’t help but smile at quickly he is to suggest gold as the solution to the problem. His suggestion isn’t coming out of any sort of generosity, of course, but is instead a way to make the realm more dependent on him and his money making scheme. I can’t even call them money-making schemes, really, since all he’s doing is leveraging debt with more debt. In any case, should these politicians decide that money is the way to go, it would mean that they would all look to Littlefinger to produce this gold and that would mean opportunities and favours owed.
“My son is too young to care about such things.”
“You think so?” asked Tyrion. “He’s thirteen, Cersei. The same age at which I married.”
“You shamed us all with that sorry episode. Joffrey is made of finer stuff.”
This entire exchange is hilarious in how Cersei becomes the very definition of the overprotective, delusional parent. I wonder if she remembers how old she and Jaime were when they first began their trysts. The belief that Joffrey is made of finer stuff than Tyrion is pretty absurd as well though frankly, Tyrion was just asking for it by bringing up that sordid marriage. I wonder if the whole Tysha episode is a secret? I can’t imagine that either Tyrion or Tywin are too eager to parade around the fact that Tyrion was married to a ‘whore’ though for whatever it’s worth, Tyrion doesn’t seem to be making any particular attempts at keeping it on the down low.
“You mean to send one of the council?”
It turns out Varys wasn’t wrong about Tyrion making the Small Council smaller by the meeting’s end. The choice of Littlefinger is an interesting one because Tyrion, for all his intelligence, cannot see what is plainly obvious – Littlefinger isn’t leaving King’s Landing for any particular gains but rather it is to avoid the possibility of death. That’s how I read it anyway. Sure, Littlefinger gets gold and titles and favours from treating with the Tyrells but more than anything, he is able to escape the fighting and even if King’s Landing falls, he will be in the company of the Tyrells, the second wealthiest of the Great Houses. I don’t know if I’m crediting Littlefinger with too much foresight, but the more I think about it, the more sense it makes.
You must forgive me if I have spoken to you harshly in the past.
You see, if Cersei was just a little bit smarter, she might have realized that there is a fine line between selling it and overselling it. Her sudden change in tone, especially after trying to ship Tyrion off to the Tyrells, is just way too suspicious. Yet, I can’t seem to remember what exactly it is that she is hatching at this point in time.