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Chapter Sixty-four 

Daenerys

The flies circled Khal Drogo slowly, their wings buzzing, a low thrum at the edge of hearing that filled Dany with dread.

The sun was high and pitiless. Heat shimmered in waves off the stony outcrops of low hills. A thin finger of sweat trickled slowly between Dany’s swollen breasts. The only sounds were the steady clop of their horses’ hooves, the rhythmic tingle of the bells in Drogo’s hair, and the distant voices behind them.

Dany watched the flies.

They were as large as bees, gross, purplish, glistening. The Dothraki called them bloodflies. They lived in marshes and stagnant pools, sucked blood from man and horse alike, and laid their eggs in the dead and dying. Drogo hated them. Whenever one came near him, his hand would shoot out quick as a striking snake to close around it. She had never seen him miss. He would hold the fly inside his huge fist long enough to hear its frantic buzzing. Then his fingers would tighten, and when he opened his hand again, the fly would be only a red smear on his palm.

Now one crept across the rump of his stallion, and the horse gave an angry flick of its tail to brush it away. The others flitted about Drogo, closer and closer. The khal did not react. His eyes were fixed on distant brown hills, the reins loose in his hands. Beneath his painted vest, a plaster of fig leaves and caked blue mud covered the wound on his breast. The herbwomen had made it for him. Mirri Maz Duur’s poultice had itched and burned, and he had torn it off six days ago, cursing her for a maegi. The mud plaster was more soothing, and the herbwomen made him poppy wine as well. He’d been drinking it heavily these past three days; when it was not poppy wine, it was fermented mare’s milk or pepper beer.

Yet he scarcely touched his food, and he thrashed and groaned in the night. Dany could see how drawn his face had become. Rhaego was restless in her belly, kicking like a stallion, yet even that did not stir Drogo’s interest as it had. Every morning her eyes found fresh lines of pain on his face when he woke from his troubled sleep. And now this silence. It was making her afraid. Since they had mounted up at dawn, he had said not a word. When she spoke, she got no answer but a grunt, and not even that much since midday.

One of the bloodflies landed on the bare skin of the khal’s shoulder. Another, circling, touched down on his neck and crept up toward his mouth. Khal Drogo swayed in the saddle, bells ringing, as his stallion kept onward at a steady walking pace.

Dany pressed her heels into her silver and rode closer. “My lord,” she said softly. “Drogo. My sun-and-stars. ”

He did not seem to hear. The bloodfly crawled up under his drooping mustache and settled on his cheek, in the crease beside his nose. Dany gasped, “Drogo. ” Clumsily she reached over and touched his arm.

Khal Drogo reeled in the saddle, tilted slowly, and fell heavily from his horse. The flies scattered for a heartbeat, and then circled back to settle on him where he lay.

“No,” Dany said, reining up. Heedless of her belly for once, she scrambled off her silver and ran to him.

The grass beneath him was brown and dry. Drogo cried out in pain as Dany knelt beside him. His breath rattled harshly in his throat, and he looked at her without recognition. “My horse,” he gasped. Dany brushed the flies off his chest, smashing one as he would have. His skin burned beneath her fingers.

The khal’s bloodriders had been following just behind them. She heard Haggo shout as they galloped up. Cohollo vaulted from his horse. “Blood of my blood,” he said as he dropped to his knees. The other two kept to their mounts.

“No,” Khal Drogo groaned, struggling in Dany’s arms. “Must ride. Ride. No. ”

“He fell from his horse,” Haggo said, staring down. His broad face was impassive, but his voice was leaden.

“You must not say that,” Dany told him. “We have ridden far enough today. We will camp here. ”

“Here?” Haggo looked around them. The land was brown and sere, inhospitable. “This is no camping ground. ”

“It is not for a woman to bid us halt,” said Qotho, “not even a khaleesi. ”

“We camp here,” Dany repeated. “Haggo, tell them Khal Drogo commanded the halt. If any ask why, say to them that my time is near and I could not continue. Cohollo, bring up the slaves, they must put up the khal’s tent at once. Qotho—”

“You do not command me, Khaleesi,” Qotho said.

“Find Mirri Maz Duur,” she told him. The godswife would be walking among the other Lamb Men, in the long column of slaves. “Bring her to me, with her chest. ”

Qotho glared down at her, his eyes hard as flint. “The maegi. ” He spat. “This I will not do. ”

“You will,” Dany said, “or when Drogo wakes, he will hear why you defied me. ”

Furious, Qotho wheeled his stallion around and galloped off in anger . . . but Dany knew he would return with Mirri Maz Duur, however little he might like it. The slaves erected Khal Drogo’s tent beneath a jagged outcrop of black rock whose shadow gave some relief from the heat of the afternoon sun. Even so, it was stifling under the sandsilk as Irri and Doreah helped Dany walk Drogo inside. Thick patterned carpets had been laid down over the ground, and pillows scattered in the corners. Eroeh, the timid girl Dany had rescued outside the mud walls of the Lamb Men, set up a brazier. They stretched Drogo out on a woven mat. “No,” he muttered in the Common Tongue. “No, no. ” It was all he said, all he seemed capable of saying.

Doreah unhooked his medallion belt and stripped off his vest and leggings, while Jhiqui knelt by his feet to undo the laces of his riding sandals. Irri wanted to leave the tent flaps open to let in the breeze, but Dany forbade it. She would not have any see Drogo this way, in delirium and weakness. When her khas came up, she posted them outside at guard. “Admit no one without my leave,” she told Jhogo. “No one. ”

Eroeh stared fearfully at Drogo where he lay. “He dies,” she whispered.

Dany slapped her. “The khal cannot die. He is the father of the stallion who mounts the world. His hair has never been cut. He still wears the bells his father gave him. ”

“Khaleesi, ” Jhiqui said, “he fell from his horse. ”

Trembling, her eyes full of sudden tears, Dany turned away from them. He fell from his horse! It was so, she had seen it, and the bloodriders, and no doubt her handmaids and the men of her khas as well. And how many more? They could not keep it secret, and Dany knew what that meant. A khal who could not ride could not rule, and Drogo had fallen from his horse.

“We must bathe him,” she said stubbornly. She must not allow herself to despair. “Irri, have the tub brought at once. Doreah, Eroeh, find water, cool water, he’s so hot. ” He was a fire in human skin.

The slaves set up the heavy copper tub in the corner of the tent. When Doreah brought the first jar of water, Dany wet a length of silk to lay across Drogo’s brow, over the burning skin. His eyes looked at her, but he did not see. When his lips opened, no words escaped them, only a moan. “Where is Mirri Maz Duur?” she demanded, her patience rubbed raw with fear.

“Qotho will find her,” Irri said.

Her handmaids filled the tub with tepid water that stank of sulfur, sweetening it with jars of bitter oil and handfuls of crushed mint leaves. While the bath was being prepared, Dany knelt awkwardly beside her lord husband, her belly great with their child within. She undid his braid with anxious fingers, as she had on the night he’d taken her for the first time, beneath the stars. His bells she laid aside carefully, one by one. He would want them again when he was well, she told herself.

A breath of air entered the tent as Aggo poked his head through the silk. “Khaleesi, ” he said, “the Andal is come, and begs leave to enter. ”

“The Andal” was what the Dothraki called Ser Jorah. “Yes,” she said, rising clumsily, “send him in. ” She trusted the knight. He would know what to do if anyone did.

Ser Jorah Mormont ducked through the door flap and waited a moment for his eyes to adjust to the dimness. In the fierce heat of the south, he wore loose trousers of mottled sandsilk and open-toed riding sandals that laced up to his knee. His scabbard hung from a twisted horsehair belt. Under a bleached white vest, he was bare-chested, skin reddened by the sun. “Talk goes from mouth to ear, all over the khalasar,” he said. “It is said Khal Drogo fell from his horse. ”

“Help him,” Dany pleaded. “For the love you say you bear me, help him now. ”

The knight knelt beside her. He looked at Drogo long and hard, and then at Dany. “Send your maids away. ”

Wordlessly, her throat tight with fear, Dany made a gesture. Irri herded the other girls from the tent.

When they were alone, Ser Jorah drew his dagger. Deftly, with a delicacy surprising in such a big man, he began to scrape away the black leaves and dried blue mud from Drogo’s chest. The plaster had caked hard as the mud walls of the Lamb Men, and like those walls it cracked easily. Ser Jorah broke the dry mud with his knife, pried the chunks from the flesh, peeled off the leaves one by one. A foul, sweet smell rose from the wound, so thick it almost choked her. The leaves were crusted with blood and pus, Drogo’s breast black and glistening with corruption.

“No,” Dany whispered as tears ran down her cheeks. “No, please, gods hear me, no. ”

Khal Drogo thrashed, fighting some unseen enemy. Black blood ran slow and thick from his open wound.

“Your khal is good as dead, Princess. ”

“No, he can’t die, he mustn’t, it was only a cut. ” Dany took his large callused hand in her own small ones, and held it tight between them. “I will not let him die . . . ”

Ser Jorah gave a bitter laugh. “Khaleesi or queen, that command is beyond your power. Save your tears, child. Weep for him tomorrow, or a year from now. We do not have time for grief. We must go, and quickly, before he dies. ”

Dany was lost. “Go? Where should we go?”

“Asshai, I would say. It lies far to the south, at the end of the known world, yet men say it is a great port. We will find a ship to take us back to Pentos. It will be a hard journey, make no mistake. Do you trust your khas? Will they come with us?”

“Khal Drogo commanded them to keep me safe,” Dany replied uncertainly, “but if he dies . . . ” She touched the swell of her belly. “I don’t understand. Why should we flee? I am khaleesi. I carry Drogo’s heir. He will be khal after Drogo . . . ”

Ser Jorah frowned. “Princess, hear me. The Dothraki will not follow a suckling babe. Drogo’s strength was what they bowed to, and only that. When he is gone, Jhaqo and Pono and the other kos will fight for his place, and this khalasar will devour itself. The winner will want no more rivals. The boy will be taken from your breast the moment he is born. They will give him to the dogs . . . ”

Dany hugged herself. “But why?” she cried plaintively. “Why should they kill a little baby?”

“He is Drogo’s son, and the crones say he will be the stallion who mounts the world. It was prophesied. Better to kill the child than to risk his fury when he grows to manhood. ”

The child kicked inside her, as if he had heard. Dany remembered the story Viserys had told her, of what the Usurper’s dogs had done to Rhaegar’s children. His son had been a babe as well, yet they had ripped him from his mother’s breast and dashed his head against a wall. That was the way of men. “They must not hurt my son!” she cried. “I will order my khas to keep him safe, and Drogo’s bloodriders will—”

Ser Jorah held her by the shoulders. “A bloodrider dies with his khal. You know that, child. They will take you to Vaes Dothrak, to the crones, that is the last duty they owe him in life . . . when it is done, they will join Drogo in the night lands. ”

Dany did not want to go back to Vaes Dothrak and live the rest of her life among those terrible old women, yet she knew that the knight spoke the truth. Drogo had been more than her sun-and-stars; he had been the shield that kept her safe. “I will not leave him,” she said stubbornly, miserably. She took his hand again. “I will not. ”

A stirring at the tent flap made Dany turn her head. Mirri Maz Duur entered, bowing low. Days on the march, trailing behind the khalasar, had left her limping and haggard, with blistered and bleeding feet and hollows under her eyes. Behind her came Qotho and Haggo, carrying the godswife’s chest between them. When the bloodriders caught sight of Drogo’s wound, the chest slipped from Haggo’s fingers and crashed to the floor of the tent, and Qotho swore an oath so foul it seared the air.

Mirri Maz Duur studied Drogo, her face still and dead. “The wound has festered. ”

“This is your work, maegi,” Qotho said. Haggo laid his fist across Mirri’s cheek with a meaty smack that drove her to the ground. Then he kicked her where she lay.

“Stop it!” Dany screamed.

Qotho pulled Haggo away, saying, “Kicks are too merciful for a maegi. Take her outside. We will stake her to the earth, to be the mount of every passing man. And when they are done with her, the dogs will use her as well. Weasels will tear out her entrails and carrion crows feast upon her eyes. The flies off the river shall lay their eggs in her womb and drink pus from the ruins of her breasts . . . ” He dug iron-hard fingers into the soft, wobbly flesh under the godswife’s arm and hauled her to her feet.

“No,” Dany said. “I will not have her harmed. ”

Qotho’s lips skinned back from his crooked brown teeth in a terrible mockery of a smile. “No? You say me no? Better you should pray that we do not stake you out beside your maegi. You did this, as much as the other. ”

Ser Jorah stepped between them, loosening his longsword in its scabbard. “Rein in your tongue, bloodrider. The princess is still your khaleesi. ”

“Only while the blood-of-my-blood still lives,” Qotho told the knight. “When he dies, she is nothing. ”

Dany felt a tightness inside her. “Before I was khaleesi, I was the blood of the dragon. Ser Jorah, summon my khas. ”

“No,” said Qotho. “We will go. For now . . . Khaleesi. ” Haggo followed him from the tent, scowling.

“That one means you no good, Princess,” Mormont said. “The Dothraki say a man and his bloodriders share one life, and Qotho sees it ending. A dead man is beyond fear. ”

“No one has died,” Dany said. “Ser Jorah, I may have need of your blade. Best go don your armor. ” She was more frightened than she dared admit, even to herself.

The knight bowed. “As you say. ” He strode from the tent.

Dany turned back to Mirri Maz Duur. The woman’s eyes were wary. “So you have saved me once more. ”

“And now you must save him,” Dany said. “Please . . . ”

“You do not ask a slave,” Mirri replied sharply, “you tell her. ” She went to Drogo burning on his mat, and gazed long at his wound. “Ask or tell, it makes no matter. He is beyond a healer’s skills. ” The khal’s eyes were closed. She opened one with her fingers. “He has been dulling the hurt with milk of the poppy. ”

“Yes,” Dany admitted.

“I made him a poultice of firepod and sting-me-not and bound it in a lambskin. ”

“It burned, he said. He tore it off. The herbwomen made him a new one, wet and soothing. ”

“It burned, yes. There is great healing magic in fire, even your hairless men know that. ”

“Make him another poultice,” Dany begged. “This time I will make certain he wears it. ”

“The time for that is past, my lady,” Mirri said. “All I can do now is ease the dark road before him, so he might ride painless to the night lands. He will be gone by morning. ”

Her words were a knife through Dany’s breast. What had she ever done to make the gods so cruel? She had finally found a safe place, had finally tasted love and hope. She was finally going home. And now to lose it all . . . “No,” she pleaded. “Save him, and I will free you, I swear it. You must know a way . . . some magic, some . . . ”

Mirri Maz Duur sat back on her heels and studied Daenerys through eyes as black as night. “There is a spell. ” Her voice was quiet, scarcely more than a whisper. “But it is hard, lady, and dark. Some would say that death is cleaner. I learned the way in Asshai, and paid dear for the lesson. My teacher was a bloodmage from the Shadow Lands. ”

Dany went cold all over. “Then you truly are a maegi . . . ”

“Am I?” Mirri Maz Duur smiled. “Only a maegi can save your rider now, Silver Lady. ”

“Is there no other way?”

“No other. ”

Khal Drogo gave a shuddering gasp.

“Do it,” Dany blurted. She must not be afraid; she was the blood of the dragon. “Save him. ”

“There is a price,” the godswife warned her.

“You’ll have gold, horses, whatever you like. ”

“It is not a matter of gold or horses. This is bloodmagic, lady. Only death may pay for life. ”

“Death?” Dany wrapped her arms around herself protectively, rocked back and forth on her heels. “My death?” She told herself she would die for him, if she must. She was the blood of the dragon, she would not be afraid. Her brother Rhaegar had died for the woman he loved.

“No,” Mirri Maz Duur promised. “Not your death, Khaleesi. ”

Dany trembled with relief. “Do it. ”

The maegi nodded solemnly. “As you speak, so it shall be done. Call your servants. ”

Khal Drogo writhed feebly as Rakharo and Quaro lowered him into the bath. “No,” he muttered, “no. Must ride. ” Once in the water, all the strength seemed to leak out of him.

“Bring his horse,” Mirri Maz Duur commanded, and so it was done. Jhogo led the great red stallion into the tent. When the animal caught the scent of death, he screamed and reared, rolling his eyes. It took three men to subdue him.

“What do you mean to do?” Dany asked her.

“We need the blood,” Mirri answered. “That is the way. ”

Jhogo edged back, his hand on his arakh. He was a youth of sixteen years, whip-thin, fearless, quick to laugh, with the faint shadow of his first mustachio on his upper lip. He fell to his knees before her. “Khaleesi, ” he pleaded, “you must not do this thing. Let me kill this maegi. ”

“Kill her and you kill your khal,” Dany said.

“This is bloodmagic,” he said. “It is forbidden. ”

“I am khaleesi, and I say it is not forbidden. In Vaes Dothrak, Khal Drogo slew a stallion and I ate his heart, to give our son strength and courage. This is the same. The same. ”

The stallion kicked and reared as Rakharo, Quaro, and Aggo pulled him close to the tub where the khal floated like one already dead, pus and blood seeping from his wound to stain the bathwaters. Mirri Maz Duur chanted words in a tongue that Dany did not know, and a knife appeared in her hand. Dany never saw where it came from. It looked old; hammered red bronze, leaf-shaped, its blade covered with ancient glyphs. The maegi drew it across the stallion’s throat, under the noble head, and the horse screamed and shuddered as the blood poured out of him in a red rush. He would have collapsed, but the men of her khas held him up. “Strength of the mount, go into the rider,” Mirri sang as horse blood swirled into the waters of Drogo’s bath. “Strength of the beast, go into the man. ”

Jhogo looked terrified as he struggled with the stallion’s weight, afraid to touch the dead flesh, yet afraid to let go as well. Only a horse, Dany thought. If she could buy Drogo’s life with the death of a horse, she would pay a thousand times over.

When they let the stallion fall, the bath was a dark red, and nothing showed of Drogo but his face. Mirri Maz Duur had no use for the carcass. “Burn it,” Dany told them. It was what they did, she knew. When a man died, his mount was killed and placed beneath him on the funeral pyre, to carry him to the night lands. The men of her khas dragged the carcass from the tent. The blood had gone everywhere. Even the sandsilk walls were spotted with red, and the rugs underfoot were black and wet.

Braziers were lit. Mirri Maz Duur tossed a red powder onto the coals. It gave the smoke a spicy scent, a pleasant enough smell, yet Eroeh fled sobbing, and Dany was filled with fear. But she had gone too far to turn back now. She sent her handmaids away. “Go with them, Silver Lady,” Mirri Maz Duur told her.

“I will stay,” Dany said. “The man took me under the stars and gave life to the child inside me. I will not leave him. ”

“You must. Once I begin to sing, no one must enter this tent. My song will wake powers old and dark. The dead will dance here this night. No living man must look on them. ”

Dany bowed her head, helpless. “No one will enter. ” She bent over the tub, over Drogo in his bath of blood, and kissed him lightly on the brow. “Bring him back to me,” she whispered to Mirri Maz Duur before she fled.

Outside, the sun was low on the horizon, the sky a bruised red. The khalasar had made camp. Tents and sleeping mats were scattered as far as the eye could see. A hot wind blew. Jhogo and Aggo were digging a firepit to burn the dead stallion. A crowd had gathered to stare at Dany with hard black eyes, their faces like masks of beaten copper. She saw Ser Jorah Mormont, wearing mail and leather now, sweat beading on his broad, balding forehead. He pushed his way through the Dothraki to Dany’s side. When he saw the scarlet footprints her boots had left on the ground, the color seemed to drain from his face. “What have you done, you little fool?” he asked hoarsely.

“I had to save him. ”

“We could have fled,” he said. “I would have seen you safe to Asshai, Princess. There was no need . . . ”

“Am I truly your princess?” she asked him.

“You know you are, gods save us both. ”

“Then help me now. ”

Ser Jorah grimaced. “Would that I knew how. ”

Mirri Maz Duur’s voice rose to a high, ululating wail that sent a shiver down Dany’s back. Some of the Dothraki began to mutter and back away. The tent was aglow with the light of braziers within. Through the blood-spattered sandsilk, she glimpsed shadows moving.

Mirri Maz Duur was dancing, and not alone.

Dany saw naked fear on the faces of the Dothraki. “This must not be,” Qotho thundered.

She had not seen the bloodrider return. Haggo and Cohollo were with him. They had brought the hairless men, the eunuchs who healed with knife and needle and fire.

“This will be,” Dany replied.

“Maegi, ” Haggo growled. And old Cohollo—Cohollo who had bound his life to Drogo’s on the day of his birth, Cohollo who had always been kind to her—Cohollo spat full in her face.

“You will die, maegi,” Qotho promised, “but the other must die first. ” He drew his arakh and made for the tent.

“No,” she shouted, “you mustn’t. ” She caught him by the shoulder, but Qotho shoved her aside. Dany fell to her knees, crossing her arms over her belly to protect the child within. “Stop him,” she commanded her khas, “kill him. ”

Rakharo and Quaro stood beside the tent flap. Quaro took a step forward, reaching for the handle of his whip, but Qotho spun graceful as a dancer, the curved arakh rising. It caught Quaro low under the arm, the bright sharp steel biting up through leather and skin, through muscle and rib bone. Blood fountained as the young rider reeled backward, gasping.

Qotho wrenched the blade free. “Horselord,” Ser Jorah Mormont called. “Try me. ” His longsword slid from its scabbard.

Qotho whirled, cursing. The arakh moved so fast that Quaro’s blood flew from it in a fine spray, like rain in a hot wind. The longsword caught it a foot from Ser Jorah’s face, and held it quivering for an instant as Qotho howled in fury. The knight was clad in chainmail, with gauntlets and greaves of lobstered steel and a heavy gorget around his throat, but he had not thought to don his helm.

Qotho danced backward, arakh whirling around his head in a shining blur, flickering out like lightning as the knight came on in a rush. Ser Jorah parried as best he could, but the slashes came so fast that it seemed to Dany that Qotho had four arakhs and as many arms. She heard the crunch of sword on mail, saw sparks fly as the long curved blade glanced off a gauntlet. Suddenly it was Mormont stumbling backward, and Qotho leaping to the attack. The left side of the knight’s face ran red with blood, and a cut to the hip opened a gash in his mail and left him limping. Qotho screamed taunts at him, calling him a craven, a milk man, a eunuch in an iron suit. “You die now!” he promised, arakh shivering through the red twilight. Inside Dany’s womb, her son kicked wildly. The curved blade slipped past the straight one and bit deep into the knight’s hip where the mail gaped open.

Mormont grunted, stumbled. Dany felt a sharp pain in her belly, a wetness on her thighs. Qotho shrieked triumph, but his arakh had found bone, and for half a heartbeat it caught.

It was enough. Ser Jorah brought his longsword down with all the strength left him, through flesh and muscle and bone, and Qotho’s forearm dangled loose, flopping on a thin cord of skin and sinew. The knight’s next cut was at the Dothraki’s ear, so savage that Qotho’s face seemed almost to explode.

The Dothraki were shouting, Mirri Maz Duur wailing inside the tent like nothing human, Quaro pleading for water as he died. Dany cried out for help, but no one heard. Rakharo was fighting Haggo, arakh dancing with arakh until Jhogo’s whip cracked, loud as thunder, the lash coiling around Haggo’s throat. A yank, and the bloodrider stumbled backward, losing his feet and his sword. Rakharo sprang forward, howling, swinging his arakh down with both hands through the top of Haggo’s head. The point caught between his eyes, red and quivering. Someone threw a stone, and when Dany looked, her shoulder was torn and bloody. “No,” she wept, “no, please, stop it, it’s too high, the price is too high. ” More stones came flying. She tried to crawl toward the tent, but Cohollo caught her. Fingers in her hair, he pulled her head back and she felt the cold touch of his knife at her throat. “My baby,” she screamed, and perhaps the gods heard, for as quick as that, Cohollo was dead. Aggo’s arrow took him under the arm, to pierce his lungs and heart.

When at last Daenerys found the strength to raise her head, she saw the crowd dispersing, the Dothraki stealing silently back to their tents and sleeping mats. Some were saddling horses and riding off. The sun had set. Fires burned throughout the khalasar, great orange blazes that crackled with fury and spit embers at the sky. She tried to rise, and agony seized her and squeezed her like a giant’s fist. The breath went out of her; it was all she could do to gasp. The sound of Mirri Maz Duur’s voice was like a funeral dirge. Inside the tent, the shadows whirled.

An arm went under her waist, and then Ser Jorah was lifting her off her feet. His face was sticky with blood, and Dany saw that half his ear was gone. She convulsed in his arms as the pain took her again, and heard the knight shouting for her handmaids to help him. Are they all so afraid? She knew the answer. Another pain grasped her, and Dany bit back a scream. It felt as if her son had a knife in each hand, as if he were hacking at her to cut his way out. “Doreah, curse you,” Ser Jorah roared. “Come here. Fetch the birthing women. ”

“They will not come. They say she is accursed. ”

“They’ll come or I’ll have their heads. ”

Doreah wept. “They are gone, my lord. ”

“The maegi,” someone else said. Was that Aggo? “Take her to the maegi. ”

No, Dany wanted to say, no, not that, you mustn’t, but when she opened her mouth, a long wail of pain escaped, and the sweat broke over her skin. What was wrong with them, couldn’t they see? Inside the tent the shapes were dancing, circling the brazier and the bloody bath, dark against the sandsilk, and some did not look human. She glimpsed the shadow of a great wolf, and another like a man wreathed in flames.

“The Lamb Woman knows the secrets of the birthing bed,” Irri said. “She said so, I heard her. ”

“Yes,” Doreah agreed, “I heard her too. ”

No, she shouted, or perhaps she only thought it, for no whisper of sound escaped her lips. She was being carried. Her eyes opened to gaze up at a flat dead sky, black and bleak and starless. Please, no. The sound of Mirri Maz Duur’s voice grew louder, until it filled the world. The shapes! she screamed. The dancers!

Ser Jorah carried her inside the tent.

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