“You did not see the gods burn, my lord?” he asked.
“The red priests have a great temple on Lys. Always they are burning this and burning that, crying out to their R’hllor. They bore me with their fires. Soon they will bore King Stannis too, it is to be hoped.” He seemed utterly unconcerned that someone might overhear him, eating his grapes and dribbling the seeds out onto his lip, flicking them off with a finger. “My Bird of Thousand Colors came in yesterday, good ser. She is not a warship, no, but a trader, and she paid a call on King’s Landing. Are you sure you will not have a grape? Children go hungry in the city, it is said.” He dangled the grapes before Davos and smiled.
“It’s ale I need, and news.”
“The men of Westeros are ever rushing,” complained Salladhor Saan. “What good is this, I ask you? He who hurries through life hurries to his grave.” He belched. “The Lord of Casterly Rock has sent his dwarf to see to King’s Landing. Perhaps he hopes that his ugly face will frighten off attackers, eh? Or that we will laugh ourselves dead when the Imp capers on the battlements, who can say? The dwarf has chased off the lout who ruled the gold cloaks and put in his place a knight with an iron hand.” He plucked a grape, and squeezed it between thumb and forefinger until the skin burs. Juice ran down between his fingers.
A serving girl pushed her way through, swatting at the hands that groped her as she passed. Davos ordered a tankard of ale, turned back to Saan, and said, “How well is the city defended?” The other shrugged. “The walls are high and strong, but who will man them? They are building scorpions and spitfires, oh, yes, but the men in the golden cloaks are too few and too green, and there are no others. A swift strike, like a hawk plummeting at a hare, and the great city will be ours. Grant us wind to fill our sails, and your king could sit upon his Iron Throne by evenfall on the morrow. We could dress the dwarf in motley and prick his little cheeks with the points of our spears to make him dance for us, and mayhaps your goodly king would make me a gift of the beautiful Queen Cersei to warm my bed for a night. I have been too long away from my wives, and all in his service.”
“Pirate,” said Davos. “You have no wives, only concubines, and you have been well paid for every day and every ship.”
“Only in promises,” said Salladhor Saan mournfully. “Good ser, it is gold I crave, not words on papers.” He popped a grape into his mouth.
“You’ll have your gold when we take the treasury in King’s Landing. No man in the Seven Kingdoms is more honorable than Stannis Baratheon. He will keep his word.” Even as Davos spoke, he thought, This world is twisted beyond hope, when lowborn smugglers must vouch for the honor of kings.
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