Tower of the Hand

Book 4, Chapter 1.
Pate steals a key that opens all the doors in the Citadel for a mysterious man who then kills him.
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A group of novices and acolytes from the Citadel, Mollander, Alleras, Roone, and Armen, discuss rumors of dragons outside the Quill and Tankard in Oldtown. Pate is with them too, but he is thinking of Rosey, the woman he loves. Her mother, Emma, the oldest serving wench at the Quill and Tankard, has decreed that Rosey's maidenhead will cost him a golden dragon, which he has no hope of ever saving up. His training at the Citadel has not been successful. Now, he helps tend the ravens for Archmaester Walgrave, but the man's wits are completely gone, and Maester Gormon sits below the iron mask in his place and has the power of granting the black iron link for ravenry. Archmaester Ebrose has refused him the silver link for healing, but he still knows enough that he thinks he and Rosey could make a life traveling Westeros to heal the smallfolk. Pate is waiting for a man he calls "the alchemist." Rosey introduced Pate to the mysterious man three days ago, and he promised Pate the gold coin he needs to win Rosey in exchange for stealing something. Pate told the man he was not a thief, and the man said he would return to the Quill and Tankard in three days in case Pate changed his mind. He decided to return, but his friends showed up to celebrate Alleras receiving his copper link, so he joined them so as not to draw suspicion.

Mollander, the son of a knight who died on the Blackwater, is convinced the stories of dragons are real. They have heard four different stories from sailors from four different ships, and while the details are different in each one, they all mention dragons and a beautiful young queen. Alleras shoots at apples being thrown by Mollander as they talk. He has only been at the Citadel for a year, yet he has already forged three links of his chain. Pate, on the other hand, arrived at the Citadel five years ago when he was thirteen and still has no links. Twice he felt himself ready to earn one, but Archmaester Vaellyn was not impressed with his knowledge of the heavens, and Archmaester Ebrose refused him a link as well. Alleras ends his target practice and tells the group the dragon must have three heads. Roone thinks this a riddle, which fits with Alleras's nickname as "the Sphinx." Lazy Leo had given him the name because a sphinx is made up of the parts of several different animals, and Alleras has a Dornish father and a mother from the Summer Isles.1 Armen scoffs that there are no three-headed dragons, as that was just a heraldric charge for the Targaryens, and they are all dead. Alleras reminds them that Daenerys still lives.

Leo Tyrell joins the group, much to their dismay since he is cruel and none of them like him. He mocks Pate as a pig boy because his namesake is a character from the stories named Spotted Pate that is good-hearted and empty-headed yet always manages to get the best of knights, lords, and septons. The group turns hostile, but Leo deflects them by stating that the rumors do indeed refer to Daenerys and that she has hatched three dragons. Every sailor that has been near Qarth is talking about them, and Archmaester Marwyn believes the stories. Armen says that is no proof because Archmaesters Perestan and Ryam believe Marwyn is unsound. He is said to consort with whores and hedge wizards, speak to Ibbanese and Summer Islanders in their own tongues, and sacrifice to strange gods at the sailors' temples by the docks. He spent eight years exploring the east, looking for lost books and training with warlocks and shadowbinders, and Archmaester Vaellyn dubbed him "Marwyn the Mage" upon his return. Leo counters that a glass candle is burning in the maester's chambers. The candles, three black and one green, came to the Citadel a thousand years before the Doom of Vlayria and serve as the final test for an acolyte before he is raised to maester. The acolyte must spend a night in darkness unless he can light the candle, which is made of dragonglass and cannot be lit. The test is meant to teach humility and the limits of knowledge, yet now one of them is casting a light brighter than any wax candle that never flickers. Armen and the others still have doubts save Alleras.

It is getting late, so everyone departs save Leo and Pate, who still hopes the alchemist will appear. Leo cruelly mocks him some more, but Pate ignores the japes because attacking him would mean his death since Leo is trained in arms and his father is Ser Moryn Tyrell, the commander of the City Watch of Oldtown. When dawn breaks, Pate leaves to return to the Citadel. As he walks, the alchemist hails him. He did not come earlier because he did not want to approach Pate while he was with his friends. Pate has stolen a key from Archmaester Walgrave for him, one that opens every door in the Citadel. The alchemist leads him into an alley, where he hands over the gold dragon in exchange for the key. Pate asks who he is and what he wants, but the alchemist just says he is no one. Pate turns to leave, but suddenly finds himself on the ground. He does not understand what is going on, and the alchemist says he never will. Pate dies thinking of Rosey.


  • POV: Pate,   1st in AFFC, 1st overall

Active Characters

  1. Armen - Called Armen the Acolyte. An acolyte of the Citadel. He has forged four links, pewter, tin, lead, and copper. He has a long pointed nose.
  2. Gormon Tyrell - Gormon has assumed Archmaester Walgrave's duties due to the man's mental infirmnities.
  3. Mollander - A novice of the Citadel. He has thick arms, broad shoulders, and a clubfoot. He is the son of a knight who died on the Blackwater.
  4. Pate - A novice of the Citadel. He helps Archmaester Walgrave tend the ravens. He has been a novice for five years, failing in his only two attempts to forge a link.
  5. Rosey - She has hazel eyes.
  6. The Alchemist - He is young with full cheeks, a shadow of a beard, a hooked nose, and a mat of dense black curls. He has a faint scar on his right cheek.


  1. Maesters - A would be maester begins his training as a novice. When he earns his first link, he becomes an acolyte. An acolyte wears the links he has earned on a leather thong around his neck. A novice or acolyte earns a link by demonstrating his skill in front of the archmaester responsible for whichever discipline he is trying to earn his link for. The final test the acolyte must pass before being raised to maester involves spending a night in darkness unless he can light one of the Citadel's four glass candles, an impossible task. This serves as a lesson that even with knowledge some things are not possible.


  1. Glass Candle - A candle from Valyria made of dragonglass. One cannot be lit by any known method. The Citadel has four of them in their possession, one green and three black. The final test of an acolyte before becoming a maester involves spending a night in the dark unless the acolyte can light one of the candles. It serves as a reminder that even with knowledge some things are not possible.


  1. Oldtown - Oldtown is built entirely of stone and every street down to the meanest alley is cobbled. The guildhalls of the city line the west bank of the Honeywine, while further upriver the Citadel straddles both sides of the river, with stone bridges containing halls and houses connecting the two halves. It houses several septs, including the Sailor's Sept, the Lord's Sept, the Seven Shrines, and the Starry Sept, which had been the home of the High Septons for one thousand years before the coming of the Targaryens. There is a small temple to the Lord of Light at the wharf.
  2. The Hightower - The Hightower is a giant lighthouse/fortress that sits on Battle Island in the harbor of Oldtown. House Hightower rules from this fortress.


Warning: Footnotes may contain spoilers from later chapters or books.