Melisandre gave birth a creature of darkness at the end of last weeks episode – quite literally and less than four minutes into the start of the Ghost of Harrenhal do we find out why. Stannis knows he is hopelessly overpowered by Renly’s army, and given that he thinks there is only one course open to him if he is to win. Strike at the head of the serpant and remove Renly from his position of power. In his tent Renly and Catelyn are discussing an alliance between the armies of Robb Stark and the Baratheon. Brienne helps Renly out of his armour, but as he stands in front of the mirror, brashly confident that he will win this war, the shadow creature steals into the tent and stabs Renly in the back, killing him where he stands. A shocking turn of events, but since no-one but Catelyn and Brienne sees the creature the finger of suspicion immediately starts to swing their way. Seeing this Catelyn convinces the grief stricken Brienne to put thoughts of vengeance to one side and flee the camp. Later Brienne vows fealty to Catelyn so long as she gives her leave to avenge Renly’s death. In a stunning coup the bannermen who once swore their fealty to Renly turn to Stannis in his stead, all but Ser Loras who knows in his heart that Stannis is responsible for his Lords death. Littlefinger and Maergery Tyrell unite to make sure Loras rides out of the camp before Stannis arrives.
Word spreads quickly and in Kings Landing Cersei and Tyrion are discussing Renly’s death. Cersei thinks its good news but Tyrion is not so sure. Now Stannis is in control of an army that outnumbers even the Lannisters and he does not share Cersei’s faith that they could be convinced to switch sides with the promise of gold. He is even more alarmed when he finds out that Joffrey is taking personal charge of the seige preparations – specifically the deployment of wildfire.
Davos Seaworth is concerend about the path his friend and lord Stannis is taking. He was present when Melisandre give birth to the shadow creature and he believes that there is no honour in winning a battle in such a way. If Stannis takes Kings Landing with Melisandre by his side then the vitory will be hers. Some believe she whispers orders in Stannis’ ear and he obeys. Stannis concedes the point and promises Davos that they will set sail to Kings Landing without her.
Theon Greyjoy is preparing to set sail to Stoney Shore, commanding a disrepectful bunch of reavers and rapers who don’t yet recognise Theon as their captain. Theon is humiliated even more with the arrival of his sister who obviously does command respect and brags about her thirty ships to Theon’s one. Dagmer Cleftjaw is the only member of his crew to give Theon credit and between them they begin to hatch a plan that might earn Theon the respect he thinks he deserves.
In Harrenhal Arya is close to Tywin Lannister in her new role as his cupbearer. Tywin is not happy with the way the war in the North is going. Robb Stark has been winning too many battles and they need to turn the tide. Arya is privileged to overhear his plans as she serves water and wine to his council. Tywin recognises her for a Northerner despite her attempts to deny it, but he does not know she is of house Stark. He asks what the northerners say about Robb. They call him the young wolf, he rides into battle on the back of giant direwolf and they say he cannot be killed. When asked if she believes that Arya responds: No, my Lord. Anyone can be killed. And she boldly looks Tywin in the eyea as she says it.
After she is dismissed Arya runs into the man who was locked in the cage by Yoren as he was being brought to the wall. When captured by the Lannister’s Arya saved him and his two companions by freeing them from the cage before he was burned alive, now Jaqen H’ghar owes her. And a man pays his debts. She must utter three names. Three lives who are to be sacrificed to the red god in place of the one’s she saved. Empowered by this she names the torturer, Tickler.
North of the wall, Jon Snow and the rest of the Nightswatch are preparing to meet up with Qhorin Halfhand, a reknowned ranger who spends much of his time beyond the wall. They make camp at the Fist of the First Men, an ancient ring fort built by the first men in the dawn age. A blast on a horn signals rangers returning and in the distance Qhorin Halfhand’s troupe march across the frozen wastes.
Tyrion goes to see the Pyromancers about the the wildfire. Highly flammable and incredibly dangerous, Bronn puts little faith in the stuff – its as like to burn down the city as it is to destroy the enemy. Tyrion wants to see how much stock they have and the Pyromancer shows him – 7811 barrels enough to destroy Stannis’ fleet and Kings Landing both. Impressed, Tyrion tells the pyromancer that he is no longer making wildfire for Cersei, his is making it for Tyrion.
Daenerys, is familarising herself with Qarth, and chastising her blood riders who are planning on stealing from their gracious host Xaro Xoan Daxos. She has an encounter with a warlock of Qarth, who invites the Mother of Dragons to the house of the Undying. A mysterious woman tells Ser Jorah to watch over Daenerys. She is in danger now anyone who would steal her dragons.
In Winterfell Bran is still serving as Lord in Robb’s absense, when he learns of an assault on Torrhen Square. He commands Ser Rodrik to go and take all the men he needs to protect their Bannermen. Later Bran reveals his dreams to Osha. He’s been dreaming of a three eyed raven, as well as dreams of the sea coming to winterfell and flooding everything. Its an omen of sorts, but neither Bran nor Osha appreciate what for.
The rangers see a fire burning on a mountain far away (actually they might have done, but I couldnt see anything!). Qhorin says they are wildling lookouts, keeping an eye out for the rangers and prepared to alert Mance Rayder when they are spotted. Qhorin advises that thay take a small party of men over to the mountain to take out the lookouts. Jon Snow volunteers to be part of that party.
Xaro tells Daenerys that Kings Landing is in turmoil and out of the blue asks her to marry him. He can give her all the ships and men she needs to sale across the Narrow sea and reclaim her throne. Why he would offer this is unclear, but Ser Jorah councils caution – the words of the mysterious woman still ringing in his ears. He tells her to make her own way, the allies she needs will be found in Westeros not Qarth.
As Arya is talking to Gendry a piercing scream rings around Harrenhal and Tickler is found dead. Jaqen H’ghar has delivered the the first of the lives she has claimed and two more now remain. The Ghost of Harrenhal has struck.