A Clash of Kings-Chapter 37
|A Clash of Kings chapter
|393 UK HC (Other versions)
|Chapter chronology (All)
At the Stony Shore, Theon Greyjoy and his men have won an easy victory against a force led by Benfred Tallhart. Feeling dissatisfied, Theon meets with Dagmer on Dagmer's ship and admits to his feelings. He lays out a plan for Dagmer, which he means to proof himself worthy with to his father, Lord Balon Greyjoy.
Theon Greyjoy's men have defeated the Wild Hares and have captured their leader, Benfred Tallhart. Theon attempts to question Benfred, but the only replies he receives are threats about what Robb Stark will do to him and Benfred's spittle. Theon's uncle, Aeron Greyjoy, insists that Benfred be sacrificed to the Drowned God by drowning, and Theon finally gives in. Aeron insists that Theon be in charge of Benfred's execution, but Theon declines. As he walks away, Theon figures that being drowned might be a service to Benfred, since his neck is thick with muscle and fat and Stygg is not an expert headman. Theon thinks back to when he had spend a fortnight in Benfred's company three years ago when he had accompanied Eddard Stark to Torrhen's Square for a visit with Ser Helman Tallhart. During the entire fortnight, Theon had mocked Benfred's neck, to see how angry he could make Benfred for it.
He can hear the noise of his men celebrating their victory and climbes some stones to reach them. He watches the dead men and horses on the ground; While Tymor and his brothers had gathered the unhurt mounts, Urzen and Black Lorren had killed those who could not be saved. He sees his men "paying the iron price" for their valuables by looting the corpses as the ironborn of old did. As he sees Gevin Harlaw sawing off a man's finger to get a ring, Theon wonders whether he should search the two men he killed during the battle. However, the thought of what Eddard Stark would say about it, which frustrates him. He then sees Maron Botley sitting by his pile of collected plunder, to which his sons are adding. One of them is in a shoving match with an obviously drunk Todric. Theon asks Wex Pyke for his bow and plans to shoot the ale horn out of Todric's hand, but as he looses his arrow Todric moves and is hit in the belly. This gets the attention of the other looters, whom Theon addresses, telling them that he had previously told them that he abides no drunkards and no squabbles over plunder. Theon orders Botley to silence Todric. Botley and his sons are quick to obey and immediately strip the dead Todric of his valuables. Theon thinks to himself that, although his father has given him the command, some of his men see him as "a soft boy from the green lands", and hopes that killing Todric has made them realize he means what he says.
Theon kicks Benfred's banner, wondering about the rabbit skin tied to it and frustrated that he does not feel elated as he did after the Battle of the Whispering Wood. As he returns to his Sea Bitch, he sees Benfred's limp body being dragged from the water.
Theon is bothered by the fact that all of his work, including the attack on the fishing village, will be put down to raiders, as word about the hosting of the Iron Islands has been effectively kept secret. He knows the northmen will not realize their peril until Deepwood Motte and Moat Cailin are attacked and bitterly thinks to himself that songs will be sung for Asha after all is over, while he will be forgotten. He is determined not to allow that to happen.
Theon goes to Foamdrinker, where he finds Dagmer, who he had left behind to guard the ships to prevent him from getting credit for the successful attack. Dagmer notes that Theon does not smile despite the victory. Theon tells Dagmer that they need to talk, so he takes him to his cabin in Foamdrinker. There, Theon states that they did not capture enough horses, and Dagmer asks why they need horses since Balon ordered them to only harry the coast. Theon admits that he has a plan, hoping the tone in Dagmer's voice he hears is interest, not disapproval.
Theon realizes he needs to use Dagmer's pride when Dagmer states he is and always has been Balon's best man. He complements him with being the most skilled swordman and spearman on the Iron Islands, to which Dagmer disagrees. Although he used to be, he informs Theon that now Andrik, who serves Lord Dunstan Drumm, and Black Lorren and Qarl the Maid are said to be the best. Theon counters, saying that Andrik is not nearly as feared as Dagmer and claiming that raiding is no work for "Lord Balon's best man". Dagmer tells Theon that he is aware that it is Theon who feels wasted, and Theon replies that it should have been him who had his sister's command. Dagmer explains that, with Maron and Rodrik dead and Theon a hostage in the north, Balon had learned to rely on Asha, who has never failed him. Theon states that he has never failed Balon either, and that the Starks knew his worth. He cites he was one of Brynden Tully's picked scouts. He was in the first wave at Whispering Wood, and almost crossed swords with Jaime Lannister, prevented only by the intervention of Daryn Hornwood, who died in the act. Dagmer tells Theon that he knows Theon is no craven, having trained him in his youth. He admits to Theno that the Starks had Theon for ten years, and that Robb Stark is Theon's friend. Theon replies that he is no Stark but a Greyjoy, and means to be his father's heir, but needs a way to prove himself in order to achieve that. Dagmer reminds Theon that he is young and other wars will come in which he can prove his worth, but that they are now commanded to raid. At that, Theon reveals his plan; He will give Aeron six ships to raid, but means to "do a deed that the harpers will sing of for a thousand years", knowing that Dagmer loves to hear the song about the axe which had split his jaw in half. He tells Dagmer that he is to march on Torrhen's Square, the seat of Ser Helman Tallhart. Helman took his best men south, and Benfred and the sons of those men are now dead. All that remains is a small garrison under Leobald Tallhart. Dagmer is to make no secret of his approach and start building siege engines when he arrives. When Dagmer protests that siege engines are not the ironmen's way, Theon replies that Leobald will not know that. Upon seeing the siege engines, Leobald will call for help, and Ser Rodrik Cassel, Winterfell's castellan, will ride to Leobald's aid in strength. Dagmer states he will certainly be outnumbered and cannot ever take Torrhen's Square, but Theon replies that it is not Torrhen's Square he means to take.
Places and terms mentioned
Nicknames and titles: