“Robb will beat him too.” He turned Dancer’s head toward the stables, oblivious to the puzzled stares the Cerwyns gave him. His blood was roaring in his ears, and had he not been strapped onto his saddle he might well have fallen.
That night Bran prayed to his father’s gods for dreamless sleep. If the gods heard, they mocked his hopes, for the nightmare they sent was worse than any wolf dream.
“Fly or die!” cried the three-eyed crow as it pecked at him. He wept and pleaded but the crow had no pity. It put out his left eye and then his right, and when he was blind in the dark it pecked at his brow, driving its terrible sharp beak deep into his skull. He screamed until he was certain his lungs must burst. The pain was an axe splitting his head apart, but when the crow wrenched out its beak all slimy with bits of bone and brain, Bran could see again. What he saw made him gasp in fear. He was clinging to a tower miles high, and his fingers were slipping, nails scrabbling at the stone, his legs dragging him down, stupid useless dead legs. “Help me!” he cried. A golden man appeared in the sky above him and pulled him up. “The things I do for love,” he murmured softly as he tossed him out kicking into empty air.
“I do not sleep as I did when I was younger,” Grand Maester Pycelle told him, by way of apology for the dawn meeting. “I would sooner be up, though the world be dark, than lie restless abed, fretting on tasks undone,” he said—though his heavy-lidded eyes made him look half-asleep as he said it. In the airy chambers beneath the rookery, his girl served them boiled eggs, stewed plums, and porridge, while Pycelle served the pontifications. “In these sad times, when so many hunger, I think it only fitting to keep my table spare.”
“Commendable,” Tyrion admitted, breaking a large brown egg that reminded him unduly of the Grand Maester’s bald spotted head. “I take a different view. If there is food I eat it, in case there is none on the morrow.” He smiled. “Tell me, are your ravens early risers as well?”
Pycelle stroked the snowy beard that flowed down his chest. “To be sure. Shall I send for quill and ink after we have eaten?”
“No need.” Tyrion laid the letters on the table beside his porridge, twin parchments tightly rolled and sealed with wax at both ends. “Send your girl away, so we can talk.”
“Leave us, child,” Pycelle commanded. The serving girl hurried from the room. “These letters, now . . .”
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