Tower of the Hand

Book 4, Chapter 18.
Cersei meets with the small council and concocts a plan to have Ser Osney Kettleblack assassinate Jon Snow.
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Cersei watches as three ruffians approach with a leather sack. Qyburn tells her the small council is waiting, but she says they may await her pleasure. One of the men pulls a rotting head out of the sack, causing Dorcas and Jocelyn to recoil in horror. It is the head of a dwarf, but not of Tyrion. The men start to bicker, and one mentions the dwarf said he was a sparrow.1 Cersei thinks about executing them, but worries this will cause others to hesitate to come forward and lets them leave. She has Ser Meryn take the head and Ser Osmund escort the men out. This is the third head that has been delivered. Cersei thinks of Maggy again and how Melara said if they forgot the prophecy it would not come true. Qyburn assures her that he has informers everywhere and that Tyrion will be found. Qyburn has also cleaned Ser Gregor's skull for presentation to Prince Doran.2 The bells of the Great Sept are ringing in the background, tolling for the death of the High Septon. Cersei and Qyburn, who has been made master of whisperers, make their way to the council chamber, where Ser Boros stands guard. Inside, the council waits.

When Cersei introduces Qyburn as Varys's replacement, Grand Maester Pycelle is appalled. Cersei has replaced most of the council with people loyal to her and given them new titles. Besides Grand Maester Pycelle there is Orton Merryweather, her justiciar, Gyles Rosby, her lord treasurer, Aurane Waters, her high admiral, and Ser Harys Swyft, her new Hand of the King. Harys is there more as hostage than councilor, since his daughter is married to Kevan. Lord Orton asks if Tommen or Jaime will be joining them, but Tommen never attends meetings and Jaime is being fitted with a new hand. Prince Doran has written that Dorne is still seething and that he cannot control the people unless his justice is served. Cersei informs the council that Gregor has died and Ser Balon will be going to Sunspear to deliver the head.2 Ser Harys brings up the sparrows. There are two thousand or more in the city now preaching about doom and devil worship. Cersei tells them that the old High Septon let too much pass and was old and done. Qyburn smiles at Pycelle and says his passing should surprise no one.3 The leading candidates to succeed him are Torbert, Raynard, Ollidor, and Luceon. Talk of septons bores Cersei, and she begins pondering having sex with Aurane. She finally ends the discussion by saying she does not care who is the next High Septon as long as he declares anathema on Tyrion and that the sparrows do not concern her either.

Cersei has Pycelle produce another letter, this one from the Vale. It is a declaration signed by Lords Yohn, Gilwood, Horton, and Benedar, Lady Anya, and Ser Symond. They have gathered beneath the Eyrie and declared their intent to remove Lord Petyr. Petyr has not asked for any assistance, and indeed seemed unconcerned in his last letter. Orton suggests that it really does not matter who is regent in the Vale, and Cersei orders a letter sent to the Lords Declarant stating that as long as Petyr is not harmed, she does not care what they do. Aurane shifts the discussion to the royal fleet. Less than a dozen ships survived the Blackwater, and Aurane thinks they must rebuild their strength at sea. Orton suggests an alliance with Greyjoy, but they want the North, which is already promised to Roose. Aurane suggests building ten new dromonds. Pycelle asks where the gold is to come from, and Lord Gyles, coughing up bloody phlegm between words, says there is not enough money. Though revenues are greater than ever, they cannot keep up with Robert's debts. Cersei decides to defer payments to the Faith and the Iron Bank of Braavos until the conclusion of the war to pay for the fleet. Pycelle tries to make the queen reconsider, as the Iron Bank is ruthless about collecting its debts, but she will not listen. Lord Walder has sent a letter putting forth several more claims. The sparrows have been aggressively preaching against him and the Red Wedding in the streets. Cersei figures he will die soon and that his heir could then blame a few of his relations for the act and execute them to appease the North. Aurane informs the council that the Golden Company has broken its contract with Myr and may be joining Stannis. Cersei assures them that Qyburn has discovered they are headed for Volantis.4 Lord Janos has reported that Stannis is making common cause with the wildlings, but Cersei is not concerned. Umber and Ryswell, among others, have already joined Ramsay Bolton to clear Moat Cailin, and Wyman Manderly is on the verge of joining as well, having already agreed to marry his granddaughters to Freys and open his port to Lannister ships. Lord Wyman has also been sending on Stannis's missives demanding fealty to King's Landing and has put Davos, Stannis's envoy, in a cell. Cersei will order Wyman to execute Davos. She is certain he will obey, as the Starks are dead save for Sansa, and Roose is having Ramsay marry a fake Arya who is actually "some steward's whelp."5 This talk leads naturally to Jon's election as Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. Pycelle wants to withhold men from the Watch until he is removed, but Qyburn proposes that they send a hundred men to join the Watch instead and have them remove Jon from command. Cersei likes this idea. Aurane brings up one last point, strange talk of dragons from the docks, but Cersei does not want to hear about it and ends the session.

Ser Boros escorts Cersei back to her chambers, where Taena waits with Jocelyn and Dorcas. They are laughing over Horas and Hobber, who have apparently both fallen in love with Margaery and want to join the Kingsguard to be close to her. Cersei has Dorcas fetch Ser Osney. When Osney arrives, she sends her ladies out. Osney is overly familiar with her, and has actually already had sex with her on one occasion. Cersei orders him to seduce Margaery. She plans to have Margaery executed for adultery and Osney sent to the Wall to kill Jon. Afterwards, he would be pardoned, raised to a lordship, and become Cersei's consort. When he leaves, Cersei summons Taena and tells her to let Margaery know that Ser Osney fancies the young queen. That night, she dreams of being presented with Tyrion's head, having it bronzed and placing it in her chamberpot.


Active Characters

  1. Aurane Waters - He has a beard.
  2. Harys Swyft - He is soft and bald with a small white puff of beard.
  3. Orton Merryweather - He has a big nose and a shock of reddish-orange hair.


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