“Edric, you ought not boast,” Maester Pylos said. “King Robert suffered defeats like any other man. Lord Tyrell sightseeing bus tourbested him at Ashford, and he lost many a tourney tilt as well.”  “He won more than he lost, though. And he killed Prince Rhaegar on the Trident.”  “That he did,” the maester agreed. “But now I must give my attention to Lord Davos, who has waited so patiently. We will read more of King Daeron’s Conquest of Dorne on the morrow.”  Princess Shireen and the boys said their farewells courteously. When they had taken their leaves, Maester Pylos moved closer to Davos. “My lord, perhaps you would like to try a bit of Conquest of Dorne as well?” He slid the slender leather-bound book across the table. “King Daeron wrote with an elegant simplicity, and his history is rich with blood, battle, and bravery. Your son is quite engrossed.”  “My son is not quite twelve. I am the King’s Hand. Give me another letter, if you would.”  “As you wish, my lord.” Maester Pylos rummaged about his table, unrolling and then discarding various scraps of parchment. “There are no new letters. Perhaps an old one...”  Davos enjoyed a good story as well as any man, but Stannis had not named him Hand for his enjoyment, he felt. His first duty was to help his king rule, and for that he must needs understand the words the ravens brought. The best way dermes hkto learn a thing was to do it, he had found; sails or scrolls, it made no matter.  “This might serve our purpose.” Pylos passed him a letter.  Davos flattened down the little square of crinkled parchment and squinted at the tiny crabbed letters. Reading was hard on the eyes, that much he had learned early. Sometimes he wondered if the Citadel offered a champion’s purse to the maester who wrote the smallest hand. Pylos had laughed at the notion, but...  “To the... five kings,” read Davos, hesitating briefly over five, which he did not often see written out. “The king... be... the king... beware?  “Beyond,” the maester corrected.  Davos grimaced almo nature.

“The King beyond the Wall comes... comes south. He leads a... a... fast...”  “Vast.”  “... a vast host of wil... wild... wildlings. Lord M... Mmmor... Mormont sent a... raven from the... ha... ha...”  “Haunted. The haunted forest.” Pylos underlined the words with the point of his finger.  “... the haunted forest. He is... under a... attack? 

“Yes.”  Pleased, he plowed onward. “Oth... other birds have come since, with no words. We... fear... Mormont slain with all... with all his... stench... no, strength. We fear Mormont slain with all his strength...” Davos suddenly realized just what he was reading. He turned the letter over, and saw that the wax that had . “This is from the Night’s Watch. Maester, has King Stannis seen this letter?”  “I brought it to Lord Alester when it first arrived. He was the Hand then. I believed he discussed it with the queen. When I asked him if he wished to send a reply, he told me not to be a fool.