crew with no tongues is even better

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 that she and her god had failed him. And there were knights and lordlings who felt the same. Davos had sought them out, choosing them with the same care with which he’d once picked his crews. Ser Gerald Gower fought stoutly on the Blackwater, but afterward had been heard to say that R’hllor must be a feeble god to let his followers be chased off by a dwarf and a dead man. Ser Andrew Estermont was the king’s cousin, and had served as his squire years ago. The Bastard of Nightsong had commanded the rearguard that allowed Stannis to reach the safety of Salladhor Saan’s galleys, but he worshiped the Warrior with a faith as fierce as he was. King’s men, not queen’s men. But it would not do to boast of them. 

“A certain Lysene pirate once told me that a good smuggler stays out of sight,” Davos replied carefully. “Black sails, muffled oars, and a crew that knows how to hold their tongues.”  The Lyseni laughed. “A . Big strong mutes who cannot read or write.” But then he grew more somber. “But I am glad to know that someone watches your back, old friend. Will the king give the boy to the red priestess, do you think? One little dragon could end this great big war.”  Old habit made him reach for his luck, but his fingerbones no longer hung about his neck, and he found nothing. “He will not do it,” said Davos. “He could not harm his own blood.”  “Lord Renly will be glad to hear this.”  “Renly was a traitor in arms. Edric Storm is innocent of any crime. His Grace is a just man.”  Salla shrugged. “We shall be seeing. Or you shall. For myself, I am returning to sea. Even now, rascally smugglers may be sailing across the Blackwater Bay, hoping to avoid paying their lord’s lawful duties.”

 He slapped Davos on the back. “Take care. You with your mute friends. You are grown so very great now, yet the higher a man climbs the farther he has to fall.”  Davos reflected on those words as he climbed the steps of Sea Dragon Tower to the maester’s chambers below the rookery. He did not need Salla to tell him that he had risen too high. I cannot read, I cannot write, the lords despise me, I know nothing of ruling, how can I be the King’s Hand?

I belong on the deck of a ship, not in a castle tower.  He had said as much to Maester Pylos. “You are a notable captain,” the maester replied. “A captain rules his ship, does he not? He must navigate treacherous waters, set his sails to catch the rising wind, know when a storm is coming and how best to weather it. This is much the same.”  Pylos meant it kindly, but his assurances rang hollow. “It is not at all the same!” Davos had protested. “A kingdom’s not a ship... and a good thing, or this kingdom would be sinking. I know wood and rope and water, yes, but how will that serve me now? Where do I find the wind to blow King Stannis to his throne?”


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