GEORGE R. R. MARTIN
A DANCE WITH DRAGONS
What is it?” she cried, as Irri shook her gently by the shoulder. It was the black of night outside. Something is wrong, she knew at once. “Is it Daario? What’s happened?” In her dream they had been man and wife, simple folk who lived a simple life in a tall stone house with a red door. In her dream he had been kissing her all over – her mouth, her neck, her breasts.
“No, Khaleesi, ” Irri murmured, “it is your eunuch Grey Worm and the bald men. Will you see them?”
“Yes.” Her hair was disheveled and her bedclothes all atangle, Dany realized. “Help me dress. I’ll have a cup of wine as well. To clear my head.” To drown my dream. She could hear the soft sounds of sobs. “Who is that weeping?”
“Your slave Missandei.” Jhiqui had a taper in her hand. “My servant. I have no slaves.” Dany did not understand. “Why does she weep?”
“For him who was her brother,” Irri told her.
The rest she had from Skahaz, Reznak, and Grey Worm, when they were ushered into her presence. Dany knew their tidings were bad before a word was spoken. One glance at the Shavepate’s ugly face sufficed to tell her that. “The Sons of the Harpy?”
Skahaz nodded. His mouth was grim.
“How many dead?”
Reznak wrung his hands. “N-nine, Magnificence. Foul work it was, and wicked. A dreadful night, dreadful.”
Nine. The word was a dagger in her heart. Every night the shadow war was waged anew beneath the stepped pyramids of Meereen. Every morn the sun rose upon fresh corpses, with harpies drawn in blood on the bricks beside them. Any freedman who became too prosperous or too outspoken was marked for death. Nine in one night, though… That frightened her. “Tell me.”
Grey Worm answered.
“Your servants were set upon as they walked the bricks of Meereen to keep Your Grace’s peace. All were well armed, with spears and shields and short swords. Two by two they walked, and two by two they died. Your servants Black Fist and Cetherys were slain by cross-bow bolts in Mazdhan’s Maze. Your servants Mossador and Duran were crushed by falling stones beneath the river wall. Your servants Eladon Goldenhair and Loyal Spear were poisoned at a wineshop where they were accustomed to stop each night upon their rounds.”
Mossador. Dany made a fist. Missandei and her brothers had been taken from their home on Naath by raiders from the Basilisk Isles and sold into slavery in Astapor. Young as she was, Missandei had shown such a gift for tongues that the Good Masters had made a scribe of her. Mossador and Marselen had not been so fortunate. They had been gelded and made into Unsullied. “Have any of the murderers been captured?”
“Your servants have arrested the owner of the wineshop and his daughters. They plead their ignorance and beg for mercy.”
They all plead ignorance and beg for mercy. “Give them to the Shavepate. Skahaz, keep each apart from the others and put them to the question.”
“It will be done, Your Worship. Would you have me question them sweetly, or sharply?”
“Sweetly, to begin. Hear what tales they tell and what names they give you. It may be they had no part in this.” She hesitated. “Nine, the noble Reznak said. Who else?”
“Three freedmen, murdered in their homes,” the Shavepate said. “A moneylender, a cobbler, and the harpist Rylona Rhee. They cut her fingers off before they killed her.”
The queen flinched. Rylona Rhee had played the harp as sweetly as the Maiden.