Chapter 20 Summary
Eddard has finally arrived, tired and irritable, at the Red Keep in King's Landing, and he has already been summoned to a meeting of the small council. Ned tells his steward, Vayon Poole, to settle the girls in the Tower of the Hand. Grand Maester Pycelle, Varys, Renly, and Littlefinger are waiting for Ned when he arrives. Lord Stannis, Robert's other brother, sits on the council but has left King's Landing for his seat at the Dragonstone. King Robert, and his protector Ser Barristan, also sit on the council. However, Robert does not care to govern the realm; he only sends commands. At this meeting, for example, he has ordered that the council plan a tourney in honor of Ned's appointment as Hand of the King. Ned is shocked to learn that the realm, which was rich under the Targaryens, is now three million dragons in debt to the Lannisters, not to mention another three million to other lenders. Ned promises to talk Robert out of his madness. After the meeting ends, Littlefinger takes Ned to see Catelyn. Littlefinger has hidden her in one of his brothels. Inside, Catelyn explains what she has learned about Bran's fall. Ned decides that she should return home and command the lords of the north to begin preparing for a possible Lannister led invasion from the south. In the meantime, Ned will do his best to find proof that the Lannisters murdered Jon Arryn. Hopefully, when he takes his case before Robert, the king will act like the man he was rather than the man he has become.