“It is every man’s duty to remain loyal to his rightful king, even if the lord he serves proves false,” Stannis declared in a tone that brooked no argument.  A desperate folly took hold of Davos, a recklessness akin to madness. “As you remained loyal to King Aerys when your brother raised his banners?” he blurted.  Shocked silence followed, until Ser Axell cried, “Treason!” and snatched his dagger from its sheath. “Your Grace, he speaks his infamy to your face!”  Davos could hear Stannis grinding his teeth polar. A vein bulged, blue and swollen, in the king’s brow. Their eyes met. “Put up your knife, Ser Axell. And leave us.”  “As it please Your Grace -  “It would please me for you to leave,” said Stannis. “Take yourself from my presence, and send me Melisandre.”  “As you command.” Ser Axell slid the knife away, bowed, and hurried toward the door. His boots rang against the floor, angry.  “You have always presumed on my forbearance,” Stannis warned Davos when they were alone. “I can shorten your tongue as easy as I did your fingers, smuggler.”  “I am your man, Your Grace. So it is your tongue, to do with as you please.”  “It is,” he said, calmer. “And I would have it speak the truth. Though the truth is a bitter draught at times. Aerys, If you only knew... that was a hard choosing. My blood or my liege. My brother or my king.” He grimaced. “Have you ever seen the Iron Throne? The barbs along the back, the ribbons of twisted steel, the jagged ends of swords and knives all tangled up and melted? It is not a comfortable seat, ser. Aerys cut himself so often men took to calling him King Scab, and Maegor the Cruel was murdered in that chair.

By that chair, to hear some tell it. It is not a seat where a man can rest at ease. Ofttimes I wonder why my brothers wanted it so desperately.”  “Why would you want it, then?” Davos asked him.  “It is not a question of wanting. The throne is mine, as Robert’s heir. That is law. After me, it must pass to my daughter, unless Selyse should finally give me a son.” He ran three fingers lightly down the table, over the layers of smooth hard varnish, dark with age. “I am king. Wants do not enter into it. I have a duty to my daughter. To the realm. Even to Robert polar.

He loved me but little, I know, yet he was my brother. The Lannister woman gave him horns and made a motley fool of him. She may have murdered him as well, as she murdered Jon Arryn and Ned Stark. For such crimes there must be justice. Starting with Cersei. But only starting. I mean to scour that court clean. As Robert should have done, after the Trident. Ser Barristan once told me that the rot in King Aerys’s reign began with Varys. The eunuch should never have been pardoned. No more than the Kingslayer. At the least, Robert should have stripped the white cloak from Jaime and sent him to the Wall, as Lord Stark urged. He listened to Jon Arryn instead. I was still at Storm’s End, under siege and unconsulted reenex HydraFacial.”