Tower of the Hand

Book 5, Chapter 4.
Jon meets with Stannis and refuses to give him any more castles along the Wall.
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Jon is sleeping while warging into Ghost until Mormont's raven wakes him up by landing on his chest. Dolorous Edd comes in to take his breakfast order, and he asks if there was any more trouble at the stockades. Edd answers that there has not been any trouble since Jon had guards posted on the guards. One thousand wildlings are being held prisoner, many of them women, and some of the guards had been sneaking in at night to take liberties. Edd also states that two more wildlings showed up to surrender, a mother with a girl. Nearly every night a few more come to the Wall when they realize there is nowhere else to run. Tormund Giantsbane and the Weeper are still out there along with thousands of wildlings, however. The woman had a dead baby as well which was burned, which makes Jon think of Mance's son. Rumor is that Stannis plans to burn him, and Maester Aemon warned him there is great power in the blood of kings.

Jon leaves his bedchamber for his desk. With Stannis in the King's Tower and the Lord Commander's tower still a burned out shell, he has taken Donal Noye's old quarters behind the forge for the time being. On his desk sits a grant the king has presented him to sign. Stannis has been restless his entire time at the wall, riding the kingsroad, prowling through Mole's Town, inspecting the ruined castles of Queensgate and Oakenshield, questioning prisoners, and walking the Wall with Melisandre, and Jon thinks he will not take kindly to being balked. He hears the clatter of swords from the armory, where Iron Emmet, the new master-at-arms, is training recruits, and he decides to head that direction. When he arrives, Garse asks him if he wants a tail, but Jon declines. He stops to watch Horse and Hop-Robin train for a moment until he is hailed by Ser Godry Farring. Ser Godry had slain a fleeing giant during the battle against Mance, and the queen's men have taken to calling him Godry the Giantslayer. Godry attempts to goad Jon into sparring with him, but Jon demurs and takes his leave.

On his way up the King's Tower, Jon runs into Sam, who has just delivered a message that arrived by raven. When he arrives in Stannis's and Melisandre's presence, he learns the letter came from Lyanna Mormont, Lady Maege's youngest daughter, who has refused to bring Bear Island to Stannis's cause. Stannis has sent out forty ravens to various Northern lords, but the only lord who has declared for him is Arnolf Karstark, Lord Rickard's uncle, who is serving as castellen of Karhold. Jon figures this is because the Karstarks have no place else to turn since they rebelled against the Lannisters and betrayed the Starks. Stannis is furious, but Jon points out that the lords have to be careful because Tywin Lannister and Roose Bolton are dangerous foes and they already sent much of their strength south to die with Robb.

Stannis changes the subject and asks how much gold the Watch has, as he needs to pay Salladhor Saan, but Jon replies that they have none. He says that if Stannis needs currency, he must win the support of White Harbor. Lord Wyman was sent a bird too, but his response was noncommittal and spoke only of his age and infirmities. Melisandre asks if Lord Wyman might like a wildling wife, but Jon says that Val would never have him, old and fat as he is. He reminds Stannis that while some of the king's men call Val a princess she has no special power or position among the wildlings. The only man who can bind them to the king is Mance. Stannis replies that he knows this and has spent hours talking to the man, but he has to be executed as a deserter so that others do not flout the law. Jon argues that the law ends at the Wall, but Stannis is intent on burning him. Stannis asks Jon if he has signed the grant, and Jon replies that the king asks for too much. He is also disturbed about rumors that Stannis means to give castles to Rattleshirt and Sigorn, the new Magnar of Thenn. Stannis presses, stating he needs to give his knights new seats as rewards for their service, but Jon refuses to cede any castles other than the Nightfort, which he has already granted to Stannis. Instead, he states that the castles will be regarrisoned by men of the Night's Watch. Stannis points out that Jon does not have the men, and Jon asks the king to provide some. Instead, Stannis insinuates that he may work to remove Jon as Lord Commander, but agrees to let the Watch keep the castles.

Melisandre escorts Jon from the king's solar as Stannis shouts for Devan to bring him breakfast. She tells Jon that Stannis is coming to like him and that it is not his harsh words, but rather his silences that Jon should fear. She also says that Jon may be right about Mance and that she will pray to the Lord of Light for guidance. Jon asks if her fires are ever wrong, and she states that they are not, though her interpretations can be mistaken. He asks her to look for when and where the next wildling attack will come, and she says that she will look for Tormund in the flames. She also mentions that she has seen Jon in the flames and that he has many unseen enemies. She suggests keeping Ghost with him at all times.