Anyway, the guy who got picked gets strapped into a chair. An interestingly casual man asks him questions like, "Where's the Brotherhood?" I like that we don't know who or what the Brotherhood is. It just sounds like the sort of thing that interrogators ask about, right? The interrogator's helper puts a rat in a bucket and straps it onto the victim's torso. I realize he was "the guy who got picked" earlier in the paragraph, but I think once there are rats and buckets involved, it's fair to say that you're a victim. The next question is, "Which of the villages aided them?" He doesn't know. The helper holds a torch under the bucket, which will agitate the rat, which will then eat its way out through the victim's belly. I know all this because I've read 1984, where the exact same thing happened. Well, it was Winston's face and not his belly, but still. I've seen this gimmick before. The victim eventually cracks, saying that the Brotherhood was helped by Gaines the butcher and his son. This does not stop the rat thing from happening, which is probably pretty disappointing. Arya watches from the prisoner pen, which is only about fifteen feet away.
That night, Arya continues to list the names of her enemies. One of the prisoners asks for food and gets punched in the face. Arya adds Polliver (the guy who stole Needle) and the Mountain to her list.
Enough of that! Whoosh! Armies are riding around on horses! And there are banners with stags on them, which means these are Baratheons. Technically, that could mean they were loyal to Joffrey, but no one thinks of him as a Baratheon at this point. The two real Baratheon armies in play belong to Stannis and Renly. And both of those armies are here, which means we're getting a scene where Stannis and Renly actually talk to each other instead of plotting separately. This show has a tendency to keep people in silos, so the people in the Daenerys subplot exist in their own world and the people north of the Wall exist in theirs, you know? So a little crossing over is fun. Stannis has a new banner, which has a stag in a heart that's on fire. Renly makes fun of it a little, but he also admits that when their armies fight, it'll be less confusing than if they both had the same banner. Melisandre is there at Stannis's side and she patiently explains that it's the fiery heart of the Lord of Light. Renly notices that Melisandre is a stone cold hottie and declares that he's figured out why Stannic got religion after a life of being charmless and rigid. Catelyn is also there at Renly's side and she tells them that if they were her sons, she'd knock their heads together and lock them in a room until they remembered they're supposed to be brothers. Stannis objects to Catelyn being on Renly's side, because the whole reason Ned Stark got executed was that he said Stannis should be king. Renly suggests that they share a common enemy, but Stannis declares, "The Iron Throne is mine by right. All who deny it are my foes." Renly says absolutely everyone denies it, including babies yet to be born. "No one wants you for their king," he says, raising the question of whether anyone wants any of these jokers to be king. I mean, of Joffrey, Stannis, Renly, Daenerys and Balon, do any of these sound like someone you want to be ruling you? Oh and Mance Rayder, I guess. Stannis gives Renly one night to reconsider, strike his banners and come to him before dawn. If he does, he gets to be on Stannis's council and even be his heir until a son shows up. "Otherwise I shall destroy you." Renly points to the horizon, where there he has a lot of banners. Stannis asks, "You think those bolts of cloth will make you king?" No, but the men holding them will. Apparently Stannis doesn't understand synecdoche. Or possibly metonymy. I get them confused. Melisandre again mentions, "The night is dark and full of terrors."