A dance with dragons 23 ( a song of ice and fire 5)

TYRION

He dreamt of his lord father and the Shrouded Lord. He dreamt that they were one and the same, and when his father wrapped stone arms around him and bent to give him his grey kiss, he woke with his mouth dry and rusty with the taste of blood and his heart hammering in his chest.

“Our dead dwarf has returned to us,” Haldon said.

Tyrion shook his head to clear away the webs of dream. The Sorrows. I was lost in the Sorrows. “I am not dead.”

“That remains to be seen.” The Halfmaester stood over him. “Duck, be a fine fowl and boil some broth for our little friend here. He must be famished.”

He was on the Shy Maid, Tyrion saw, under a scratchy blanket that smelled of vinegar. The Sorrows are behind us. It was just a dream I dreamed as I was drowning. “Why do I stink of vinegar?”

“Lemore has been washing you with it. Some say it helps prevent the greyscale. I am inclined to doubt that, but there was no harm in trying. It was Lemore who forced the water from your lungs after Griff had pulled you up. You were as cold as ice, and your lips were blue. Yandry said we ought to throw you back, but the lad forbade it.”

The prince. Memory came rushing back: the stone man reaching out with cracked grey hands, the blood seeping from his knuckles. He was heavy as a boulder, pulling me under. “Griff brought me up?” He must hate me, or he would have let me die. “How long have I been sleeping? What place is this?”

“Selhorys.” Haldon produced a small knife from his sleeve. “Here,” he said, tossing it underhand at Tyrion.

The dwarf flinched. The knife landed between his feet and stood quivering in the deck. He plucked it out. “What’s this?”

“Take off your boots. Prick each of your toes and fingers.”

“That sounds… painful.”

“I hope

so. Do it.”

Tyrion yanked off one boot and then the other, peeled down his hose, squinted at his toes. It seemed to him they looked no better or worse than usual. He poked gingerly at one big toe.

“Harder,” urged Haldon Halfmaester.

“Do you want me to draw blood?”

“If need be.”

“I’ll have a scab on every toe.”

“The purpose of the exercise is not to count your toes. I want to see you wince. So long as the pricks hurt, you are safe. It is only when you cannot feel the blade that you will have cause to fear.”

Greyscale. Tyrion grimaced. He stabbed another toe, cursed as a bead of blood welled up around the knife’s point. “That hurt. Are you happy?”

“Dancing with joy.”

“Your feet smell worse than mine, Yollo.” Duck had a cup of broth. “Griff warned you not to lay hands upon the stone men.”

“Aye, but he forgot to warn the stone men not to lay their hands upon me.”

“As you prick, look for patches of dead grey skin, for nails beginning to turn black,” said Haldon. “If you see such signs, do not hesitate. Better to lose a toe than a foot. Better to lose an arm than spend your days wailing on the Bridge of Dream. Now the other foot, if you please. Then your fingers.”

The dwarf recrossed his stunted legs and began to prick the other set of toes. “Shall I prick my prick as well?”

“It would not hurt.”

“It would not hurt you is what you mean. Though I had as well slice it off for all the use I make of it.”

“Feel free. We will have it tanned and stuffed and sell it for a fortune. A dwarf’s cock has magical powers.”

“I have been telling all the women that for years.



A dance with dragons 23 ( a song of ice and fire 5)