It is a truth universally acknowledged that every princess wants a pony for her sixth birthday. It is a heinous crime to butcher a princess’s pony! Except that Tyrion isn’t a princess, it was his twenty-third birthday, and it’s a full-sized horse, but that’s quibbling, the point is that Catelyn is evil!
Tyrion is understandably grumpy about having his horse butchered for food. He’s also not that attracted to the idea of eating it, so will probably be going hungry too. At this point, he has as much love for Catelyn as I do. I feel like this mutual hatred brings us closer together, Tyrion.
Back in the common room, Tyrion didn’t resist his capture, since plenty drunken men were roused enough by Catelyn’s impassioned plea to kill him right there. Catelyn said she would take him to Winterfell and Tyrion casually mentioned, within earshot of all the men who weren’t so quick to act for Catelyn, that his father would pay money to find out what happened. So now they’re travelling, Catelyn, Rodrik, Tyrion, his men, the men Catelyn promised to pay if they help her guard her captives, among them a man named Bronn, and the singer, Marillion.
The death of the horse isn’t even the saddest part of the whole thing for Tyrion. What he’s really angry about is Catelyn outwitting him. Although she publicly, loudly proclaimed that she’s taking him to Winterfell, she in fact directed the group towards the Eyrie, her sister’s domain. The road east is so harsh and wild, that once they’re well on their way, Tyrion is no longer even bound.
Catelyn has been driving the group hard and some of the men are trying to convince her to give the horses some rest. Tyrion pipes up with the opposite of what he was saying at the inn: pursuit by the Lannisters is unlikely, even if they could guess where the group was heading, his father wouldn’t give a damn. The truth is somewhere in the middle: Tywin Lannister has no love for his son, but is touchy about the family honour. Then Catelyn and Tyrion get into an argument, seemingly not for the first time, about his involvement in the attempt on Bran’s life. Tyrion denies having anything to do with it. For one thing, Tyrion insists he’s smart enough not to arm some ruffian with his own easily recognizable blade. For another, Littlefinger lies. That is, Littlefinger lied about the dagger in particular, but also lies about other things in general. For example: he likes to boast that he took Catelyn’s virginity. Catelyn is outraged but doesn’t believe it, Petyr loved her once and wouldn’t do that to her honour (it’s time to make “honour” another drinking game). Tyrion scoffs that Littlefinger loves no one but himself. Littlefinger is a slimy bastard, but you know, he did almost die fighting Brandon.
Tyrion brings the conversation back to the dagger and Littlefinger’s story that it was lost in a bet Tyrion placed against his brother when they’re interrupted. Apparently, the Vale is inhabited by wild clans who exist outside the Westerosi hierarchy. Not sure why Jon Arryn would allow that to happen. In any case, Stark and Lannister are equally in danger here, so Catelyn allows Tyrion and his men to be armed to help in the defense.
Various hacking, slashing, stabbing, and archering things happen. Tyrion and Catelyn team up against a group of three at one pont, he gallantly comes to her aid actually, cutting down two while the third makes like a tree and gets out of there. When the dust settles, the group has lost three — two of the me Catelyn picked up and one of Tyrion’s — but the attackers have lost far more. Catelyn wants to give the dead a proper burial, but none of the men are willing to stick around for a deadlier second wave, so they ride instead. Tyrion gets to stay armed, and some post-fighting sex jokes help him start a rapport with Bronn the sellsword.
Have found his swagger, Tyrion picks up the conversation with Catelyn where it was interrupted and makes is point: the Lannisters stick together in matters other than sex as well; that is to say, he never bet against Jaime.
Arya is chasing cats. In this book, I feel like this should be an obvious sexual euphemism, but it’s not. This is for her swordfighting lessons, she has to be quick enough to catch cats, and she has, all except one particularly gusty and mean one. She finally corners him in some corner of the castle and manages to catch him when an unexpected audience catches her off-guard, making her let the cat go. What’s the point of being able to corner a cat if you can’t hear people sneak up on you? Tsk, tsk, Arya.
The audience consists of Princess Myrcella, Prince Tommen and various accompanying adults. Arya is wearing her “street urchin” disguise, so they don’t recognize her. Putting her slinking skills to practical use, Arya evades the guards. On the plus side, she really loses her pursuers. On the minus side, she’s completely lost. Maybe Syrio should’ve taught her to get acquainted with her surroundings before sending her off on cat-catching adventures. Side note: Arya’s lessons come in the shape of her acquiring various animal characteristics: swift as a deer, fierce as a wolverine, etc. This litany of animal spirit guides is noticeably lacking a honeybadger, because the one thing that Arya can’t do is not give a fuck. This will bite her in the ass eventually.
As it turns out, Arya evaded her way to the dungeon that houses the dragon skulls that used to be more on display during the Targaryen era. The skulls freak her out and she dashes away, finding a door, and behind it a place so pitch black that she feels blind and reminds herself to rely on her other senses. Let no one say that Syrio never taught her anything useful, I guess. Eventually she makes her way to a hole in the floor, a spiral staircase of some sort I think, and watches a conversation that takes place between two men as they climb the steps.
Mysterious Figure 1: The significant He has found at least one significant bastard, a word which here means being born to a mommy and a daddy who aren’t together together.
Mysterious Figure 2: But there are more significant plot bastards, what happens when He catches them all?
Mysterious Figure 1: He’ll be the Pokémon Master! He’ll also be really mad because Team Rocket tried to kill his son and mucked it up. They’re about to rumble!
Mysterious Figure 2: They can’t rumble yet, we’re completely unprepared to host a Pokémon match!
Arya can see the men when they reach her floor, but doesn’t recognize them: one is familiar to her (I’ll give you a hint, we’ve recently seen him in diguise) the other is familiar to us (it’s Illyrio). Illyrio informs his companion that Dany is pregnant and Drogo won’t do anything until the child is born, so they need to delay the inevitable Stark/Lannister war. The companion warns that the war will involve more players than that: Lysa Arryn and Stannis Baratheon have fled the capital and are gathering forces. Meanwhile, Renly and Loras are trying to maneuver Loras’s sister Margaery into Robert’s bed, and they plan for her to be an Anne Boleyn not a Mary. The companion is also already aware that Catelyn has Tyrion. Too many things are in motion on Westeros for war to be kept at bay, but Illyrio is sure that this man can succeed. It will take money and more “birds.” Oh, it would also probably require killing Ned.
Arya follows after the men at a distance until she finds her way into a sewer and then outside to the river. When she makes her way back to the keep’s gates, the guards are understandably preturbed to find the dirty street urchin claiming to be the Hand’s daughter. She is eventually brought to Ned, who’s parentally pissed off and in no mood to listen to her stories of men plotting to kill him. Unfortunately, while Arya has learned enough to eavesdrop, she hasn’t yet mastered actually remembering what was said, so her report to Ned is jumbled and not very useful. They’re interrupted by Yoren, who rode hard and fast to get to King’s Landing and bring Ned news of the Catelyn/Tyrion mess. Arya is then escorted to bed by a guard, still fretting about the one thing she heard that she understood perfectly: the threat to her father. It sucks being the Cassandra.