Bring him to me before break of day." Cayn bowed and took his leave, and Ned turned to Tomard. "The Wind Witch sails on the evening tide. Have you chosen the escort?"
Ten men, with Porther in command.
Twenty, and you will command, Ned said. Porther was a brave man, but headstrong. He wanted someone more solid and sensible to keep watch over his daughters.
As you wish, m'lord, Tom said. "Can't say I'll be sad to see the back of this place. I miss the wife."
You will pass near Dragonstone when you turn north. I need you to deliver a letter for me.
Tom looked apprehensive. "To Dragonstone, m'lord?" The island fortress of House Targaryen had a sinister repute.
Tell Captain Qos to hoist my banner as soon as he comes in sight of the island. They may be wary of unexpected visitors. If he is reluctant, offer him whatever it takes. I will give you a letter to place into the hand of Lord Stannis Baratheon. No one else. Not his steward, nor the captain of his guard, nor his lady wife, but only Lord Stannis himself.
As you command, m'lord.
When Tomard had left him, Lord Eddard Stark sat staring at the flame of the candle that burned beside him on the table. For a moment his grief overwhelmed him.