Tower of the Hand

Book 5, Chapter 10.
After Salladhor Saan abandons Stannis's cause, he puts Davos off on Sweetsister, where Lord Godric Borrell agrees to let him continue his journey to White Harbor.
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Davos is escorted into the keep of Breakwater under guard and presented to Godric Borrell, Lord of Sweetsister. Davos had been discovered in a local smuggler's den, the Belly of the Whale, attempting to buy his way off the island. Lord Godric examines a rolled parchment Davos had been carrying sealed with the crowned stag within the fiery heart and then has Davos's gloves removed to examine his maimed hand and confirm his identity. Davos explains that he was looking for passage to White Harbor to deliver a message from Stannis. Lord Godric wonders how Davos ended up in Sisterton, and he replies that storms led him astray. He had set sail from the Wall with Salladhor Saan and twenty-nine ships, but they were hounded by storms the entire way. The galleys Oledo and Old Mother's Son had wrecked on Skagos, the cog Saathos Saan foundered off the Grey Cliffs, and the Bountiful Harvest lost her rigging in a storm and later sank along with the galley towing it ten leagues north of Widow's Watch. A fuming Salladhor decided enough was enough at that point, abandoned Stannis, and put Davos off on Sweetsister. Lord Godric appreciates the irony, as the inhabitants of the Sisters worshipped a Lady of the Waves and Lord of the Skies before the Andals came and held storms as sacred, believing they occurred when their gods mated. Godric's holdings are poor, but the arrival of Davos presents him with an opportunity.

Lord Godric tells the guard captain to leave and that Davos was never there. He ponders his options. The sisters, Sweetsister, Longsister, and Littlesister are technically sworn to the Vale, but the ruling houses, Borrell, Longthorpe, and Torrent respectively, have always been fiercely independent. He could allow Davos to continue to White Harbor, or he could turn him over to his own liege, Triston Sunderland, Lord of the Three Sisters. Lord Triston would sell Davos to the queen, for he has seven sons that want to be knights and not nearly the finances for it. Davos wonders why Triston would not turn him over to Lysa Arryn and learns she is dead. He also learns of Lord Tywin's death at the hands of Tyrion. Godric comments that when the Sisters were ruled by kings they would cast dwaves into the sea as an offering to the gods, but the septons made them stop. Davos says that Stannis must be told, but Lord Godric will not be seen to aid him, for House Sunderland dragged the Sisters into two Blackfyre Rebellions, and the islands suffered greatly for it.

Godric offers Davos sister's stew, the local delicacy. He claims his granddaughter, Gella, makes the best stew on the island, mentions she is not married, and appears disappointed when Davos says he is. He states he heard that Stannis had burned his Hand of the King, and Davos explains that this was his predecessor, Lord Alester Florent. After he burned, Stannis's fleet rode a strong wind all the way to Eastwatch, but Davos thought it smelled like burning flesh. Davos is surprised to taste saffron in the stew and learns that a ship called the Sloe-Eyed Maid bound for Braavos wrecked on the island in a storm while carrying saffron from Qarth and black pepper from Volantis. Centuries ago, the Sisters had been ruled by pirate kings until the Starks pacified them, and while they no longer engage in open piracy, they do sometimes light false beacons to cause ships to wreck offshore.

As they eat, Godric gives more news. Lord Wyman Manderly means to declare for the Lannisters. Godric believes it is because they are not true northmen. Over nine hundred years ago, House Manderly had been a powerful hosue in the Reach until they overextended themselves and were slapped down by the royal house, Gardener. They came to the North with all their extensive wealth, and in return for a portion of it, the Starks gave them land and allowed them to keep their gods. Twelve days ago, the Lionstar arrived at Sisterton to take on water and was full of Freys headed for White Harbor. Godric supped with them and learned they were returning the bones of Lord Wyman's son and that one of them, Rhaegar, planned to find a new wife there. Davos takes the news hard, for Stannis desperately needs both White Harbor's silver and its port, which remains ice-free even in the depths of winter.

Godric turns the conversation back to Davos. He has no love of Northmen due to the Stark conquest two thousand years ago. The Sisters swore fealty to the Kings of the Vale to get the Starks out, and for one thousand years after that the two kingdoms fought over the islands frequently. He also holds no love for Stannis. As master of ships he sent a flotilla to Sisterton to hang a dozen smugglers that were allied with Godric and threatened to hang him if the Night Lamp caused any ships to run aground. He asks why he should support Stannis. At first, Davos does not know what answer he should give, but ultimately replies that Tywin Lannister is dead. Davos asks if Ser Kevan rules now. Godric replies that if Kevan were regent Davos would already be in chains, but it is actually Cersei who rules. Davos realizes that Godric is afraid of picking the losing side and therefore extolls Stannis's virtues as a battle commander. Godric is not convinced, but the situation does make him recall Robert's Rebellion and the time Lord Eddard Stark came to Sisterton.

When Jon Arryn raised his banners rather than deliver Eddard's head, Gulltown remained loyal to the throne. With no other avenue to return north and rally his banners, Eddard crossed the Mountains of the Moon to the Fingers and found a fisherman to ferry him across the Bite. A storm wrecked the ship, however, and the fisherman's daughter barely managed to get him ashore to Sisterton. According to Godric, this was the woman that Eddard fathered Jon Snow on. Eddard was taken before Lord Godric's father, who faced a similar decision to the one Godric faces now. His father's maesters urged Lord Borrell to turn Eddard over to Aerys as a show of loyalty. By then, however, Lord Jon had taken Gulltown. Robert Baratheon had been the first man over the wall and personally slew Marq Grafton, and an impressed Godric felt that Robert fought the way a king should. The maesters replied that Rhaegar was certain to crush the rebellion, to which Eddard replied that "only winter was certain." Lord Borrell decided to send him on his way, but also warned that if the rebellion failed, he would deny that Eddard had ever been there. Godric decides to take the same approach with Davos.


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