A dance with dragons 31 ( a song of ice and fire 5)


Each morning, from her western ramparts, the queen would count the sails on Slaver’s Bay.

Today she counted five-and-twenty, though some were far away and moving, so it was hard to be certain. Sometimes she missed one, or counted one twice. What does it matter? A strangler only needs ten fingers. All trade had stopped, and her fisherfolk did not dare put out into the bay. The boldest still dropped a few lines into the river, though even that was hazardous; more remained tied up beneath Meereen’s walls of many-colored brick.

There were ships from Meereen out in the bay too, warships and trading galleys whose captains had taken them to sea when Dany’s host first laid siege to the city, now returned to augment the fleets from Qarth, Tolos, and New Ghis.

Her admiral’s counsel had proved worse than useless. “Let them see your dragons,” Groleo said. “Let the Yunkishmen have a taste of fire, and the trade will flow again.”

“Those ships are strangling us, and all my admiral can do is talk of dragons,” Dany said. “You are my admiral, are you not?”

“An admiral without ships.”

” Build ships.”

“Warships cannot be made from brick. The slavers burned every stand of timber within twenty leagues of here.”

“Then ride out two-and-twenty leagues. I will give you wagons, workers, mules, whatever you require.”

“I am a sailor, not a shipwright. I was sent to fetch Your Grace back to Pentos. Instead you brought us here and tore my Saduleon to pieces for some nails and scraps of wood. I will never see her like again. I may never see my home again, nor my old wife. It was not me who refused the ships this Daxos offered. I cannot fight the Qartheen with fishing boats.”

His bitterness dismayed her, so much so that Dany found herself wondering if the grizzled Pentoshi could be

one of her three betrayers. No, he is only an old man, far from home and sick at heart. “There must be something we can do.”

“Aye, and I’ve told you what. These ships are made of rope and pitch and canvas, of Qohorik pine and teak from Sothoros, old oak from Great Norvos, yew and ash and spruce. Wood, Your Grace. Wood burns. The dragons – “

“I will hear no more about my dragons. Leave me. Go pray to your Pentoshi gods for a storm to sink our foes.”

“No sailor prays for storms, Your Grace.”

“I am tired of hearing what you will not do. Go.”

Ser Barristan remained. “Our stores are ample for the moment,” he reminded her, “and Your Grace has planted beans and grapes and wheat. Your Dothraki have harried the slavers from the hills and struck the shackles from their slaves. They are planting too, and will be bringing their crops to Meereen to market. And you will have the friendship of Lhazar.”

Daario won that for me, for all that it is worth. “The Lamb Men. Would that lambs had teeth.”

“That would make the wolves more cautious, no doubt.”

That made her laugh. “How fare your orphans, ser?”

The old knight smiled. “Well, Your Grace. It is good of you to ask.” The boys were his pride. “Four or five have the makings of knights. Perhaps as many as a dozen.”

“One would be enough if he were as true as you.” The day might come soon when she would have need of every knight. “Will they joust for me? I should like that.” Viserys had told her stories of the tourneys he had witnessed in the Seven Kingdoms, but Dany had never seen a joust herself.

“They are not ready, Your Grace.

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A dance with dragons 31 ( a song of ice and fire 5)