|Daenerys Targaryen (Artwork by Amoka)|
Galazza Gahare, the Green Grace, comes visiting Daenerys. With her she has a swarm of children in white, noble offspring traditionally serving for the temple for a while. When Daenerys greets her, she makes sure that the hostages serving as pages and cupbearers are clearly visible. When they both sit down, their discussion comes shortly to politics and war after some superfluous courtesies. Tolos and Mantarys have joined the Yunkish alliance, further enhancing the number of enemies that are at war against Daenerys. This is not the only problem, however. Daenerys thinks about attacks on the Brazen Beasts, her new city watch, which continue despite all efforts, and that she hasn’t taken to kill hostages as yet, despite the urgings of the Shavepate.
The talk then changes to the subject of Astapor. Cleon the Great was slain by his own soldiers after commanding a sally against the besieging Yunkish army, and his successor Cleon II. suffered a similar fate only eight days later. Now there are two rulers, a king and a queen, and their followers fight each other in the streets while the Yunkish only wait. Dany doesn’t really want to hear the horror stories, and so they change subject once again. The Green Grace counsels Dany to marry a noble of Ghiscari blood as to reconcile the city with her rule and to stop the attacks. Even more important, such a marriage would open a chance for peace with Yunkai, it is believed. When Daenerys asks whom of the nobles she should marry, Galazza proposes Hizdahr zu Loraq, who conveniently waits below. The Green Grace then leaves Daenerys so she can talk to Hizdahr.
The Ghiscari is attended and Daenerys asks him about a possible marriage and his potential. He tells her that he has bastards and is therefore capable of giving her children and that if they married he would mediate a peace with Yunkai on the terms that all freedmen remain free and that the slave trade may continue uninterrupted from now on. He also promises her that he would try to stop the attacks of the Sons of the Harpy, without disclosing how he intends to do it. Daenerys commands him to kiss her, but she doesn’t feel anything while he does it, and he admits that it would be a political marriage rather than one by love. Daenerys proposes a deal to him: should he stop the attacks for ninety days, she will marry him. Hizdahr promises it and leaves.
Ser Barristan then steps forward, counseling against the marriage and again proposing that she instead made for Westeros. He also mentions that she should be the Prince Who Was Promised, which was prophesied by a woods witch to her grandfather. The witch was with Jenny of Oldstones, fabled to be a children of the forest and supposedly died at Summerhall. Barristan then tells her that Daario is back, waiting for her admittance. Dany commands that he is attended immediately; using the time he needs for the ascent to make herself beautiful for the sellsword. While Dany can’t get her thoughts straight for being too horny, Daarion tells her that the food supply by the Lamb People is secured and that he confirmed the rumors about the fate of Astapor by feeding the tongue of the prisoner who told him to a yellow dog; no yellow dog will eat the tongue of a liar, he claims.
Daenerys then tells him of her deal with Hizdahr. Daario says that it is futile, proposing to clean up the mess himself by killing every noble in the city and to confiscate their treasures. When Dany argues that this is nearly impossible since the pyramids form great defenses, Daario proposes to feign the wedding and kill all the nobles when they attend it, calling Dany a coward in so many words. Dany is more confused than ever, sending Daario away and commanding that he is never admitted to her again. She closes the chapter with the thought that he is a monster, and that she isn’t so much unlike him.
The alliance against Daenerys continues to grow. The river is now closed to her as well, so the food supplies from the Lhazareen can’t use it and have to be brought over land. Astapor will fall soon, freeing the Yunkish army to engage her. Her options are dwindling more and more, and she is forced to accept a new influence of realpolitik into her repertoire. The marriage with Hizdahr would reinstate the slave trade and much of old Meereen, although Hizdahr claims that it will cement the new Meereen. In fact, the marriage is a mockery of Dany’s ideals, but if she really wants to rule Meereen, there is no other chance. Would she take Barristan’s advice, thousands would die. Either way is flawed and bad.
The whole theme of prophecies, so strong in the previous books, gets a serious muffle over the course of Dany’s chapters. The Green Grace tells her that if she’d marry Hizdahr, the prophecies would come true, a strong son emerge from the bond and all her enemies would “melt like snow in the sun”. Dany just thinks of the “stallion who mounts the world”, dismissing the Grace’s prophecy instantly. Curiously, she keeps a vivid belief in the prophecies she received from Qaithe, mistrusting Reznak to the bone. That’s false. We will get no evidence in the whole book that Reznak is a double-agent or traitor, but another “perfumed seneschal” we know well is really someone she needs to be careful of: Varys, obviously plotting to reinstate Aegon.
As to side notes, Barristan says that Rhaegar was “fond” of Elia, which Dany takes correctly as to mean that he didn’t love her. This should reinforce the notion that there was true love between him and Lyanna. In another matter, Daario really shows himself as a monster, just as Daenerys thinks. After all, he is planning a second Red Wedding, and Dany has at least the grace to shrink away from the thought. Daario is dangerous, and she loves him nonetheless. This could become a problem if he isn’t among the bodies that the Yunkai’i throw over Meereen’s walls in the end.