Tower of the Hand

Book 5, Chapter 7.
Quentyn Martell seeks passage from Volantis to Meereen by masquerading as a merchant's servant.
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Quentyn Martell and Gerris Drinkwater wait on the deck of the galley Adventure in the harbor of Volantis to speak with the master about passage east. Gerris is posing as a wineseller and Quentyn as his servant. At the start of the journey Quentyn had played the merchant, but hated acting and so traded roles with Cletus Yronwood as they sailed on the Meadowlark. Now, Cletus is dead, so Gerris plays the merchant.

Gerris asks for passage to Meereen, which leaves the master of Adventure incredulous since there is no tade out of the city and war is brewing. Right now, the fighting is between Astapor and Yunkai, but Yunkai is actively hiring swords to march on Meereen. The Long Lances have already left, while the Windblown and the Company of the Cat, are expected to sail once they finish recruiting. Even the Golden Company is marching east. Quentyn and Gerris have already tried to book dozens of ships over twenty days. On the first day alone, Melantine, Triarch's Daughter, and Mermaid's Kiss refused them, a mate on Bold Voyager laughed in their faces, the master of Dolphin scolded them for wasting his time, and the owner of Seventh Son named them pirates. Only the captain of Fawn provided an explanation: no captain would risk his livelihood just to sail three Dornishmen into the middle of a war. Quentyn wishes they could have just bought a ship back in the Planky Town, but doing so would have attracted unwanted attention, and their mission requires secrecy. Adventure is their last hope, as the master of the ship is a reputed smuggler and pirate that might be convinced to carry them for the right price.

Gerris convinces the master to take them to Meereen for three times his usual fee, but he and Quentyn realize that his lack of negotiating indicates he means to make them slaves instead of carrying them east. As they ride back to their inn, Quentyn thinks back to their journey to Volantis on the Meadowlark. They were ambushed by pirates while anchored off the coast of the Disputed Lands, and three of their companions were killed: Cletus, William Wells, and Maester Kendry. While, Quentyn misses all three of his friends, he feels Kendry's loss the most because he had spent half his life studying the Free Cities and was fluent in Ghiscari.

Gerris and Quentyn discuss their options as they ride through the city in a hathay, a cart pulled by a dwarf elephant. The Goddess leaves for New Ghis the next day, but it is a relatively small port and they could easily end up stranded there. A ship from Westeros might carry them, but few travel that far east. and those that do tend to stick to the trading routes through the Jade Sea. They might have the money to buy a ship, but they have no skill at sailing and no means of hiring a crew. Going overland is out of the question, as the route is both dangerous and too slow.

They continue to talk as they pass close to the Black Wall, a giant construction of fused stone that surrounds the old city, which is closed to any that cannot trace their lineage back to old Valyria. Shouts erupt from across street as a group of Unsullied appear to clear the path for a triarch, one of the three princes that rule Volantis. Like Valyria, Volantis is a freehold in which all freeborn landholders, even women, elect the triarchs every year from amongst the noble families of the city. After he passes, they continue to Fishmonger's Square and debark by the Merchant's House, where traders from all over the known world congregate to do business. As they pass by, a member of the Windblown calls out and tries to convince Quentyn to sign up with the company, but he ignores the man. Inside, they meet with their third companion, Anders Yronwood, and tell him of their failure. Quentyn is unsure what to do next, but Gerris tells him he has thought of a new plan.