Kitty! There's a kitty in King's Landing! That makes it my new favorite location. Arya chases it.
Varys has come to Lord Stark's office, presumably to congratulate himself on being incredibly well-informed. He agrees that Bran will never walk again, but I have to think he's guessing. It's not like he has X-rays to refer to. But he tries to present a bright side: "I suffered an early mutilation myself. Some doors close forever. Others open in most unexpected places." Oh, that's nice. "Sorry your son's a cripple. If he studies hard, he could be as successful as me, a eunuch!" I guess that was what passes for small talk around here, because he has something to tell Lord Stark, starting with the fact that King Robert is a fool, and doomed. He's decided to share this with Ned because he's finally decided that he's a man of honor, and one of the few people in the city who can be trusted. I have a feeling that Varys thinks trustworthiness is a sign of idiocy. But he's still prepared to give Ned a clue about Jon Arryn's murder, which is nice. He was killed with the Tears of Lys, which are a poison as clear and tasteless as water. That sounds like a pretty good poison, actually. And Varys says that the king will be killed the same way. Ned quite naturally would like to know who killed Jon Arryn. The answer is, "someone who could afford it." And if Arryn was the Hand for years and years, why kill him after all that time? "He started asking questions." Well, that makes it a difficult murder to investigate, then.
Arya chases the kitty down some stairs. Don't be afraid, kitty! Arya isn't going to hurt you! Especially because she gets distracted by seeing a giant dragon skull. That thing is cool! She hears voices coming, so she hides inside it. It's a good thing dragons have big sinus cavities, right? Two men, who appear to be Varys and the guy who was putting Viserys and Daenerys up at his estate in Pentos (his name's Illyrio, incidentally) stroll past her, discussing recent events in a way that is an impressive combination of vagueness and ominousness. Ominosity? The point is that it's somehow important that Ned has "the book." Why? "The fools tried to kill his son. And what's worth, they botched it. The wolf and the lion will be at each other's throats." See? Who talks like that? Even if you know the Starks are the Wolves and the Lannisters are the Lions, it seems unnecessarily metaphorical. This is more direct, though: "If one Hand can die, why not another?" As they walk down a darkened corridor, the last thing Arya hears is, "Khal Drogo will not make his move until his son is born." When she's alone, Arya runs. But there's a giant lock on the gate so she can't get back out. She goes down some stairs, where there are probably even larger skulls.
Littlefinger stands in the throne room, looking at the throne. It's a giant room, and it looks pretty empty with just the throne sitting there. I think they should bring the dragon skull back up here. I realize that the Targaryens are the ones with "Dragon" as their animal, but it would really help out the room's decor. Varys slinks up and Littlefinger tells him that the first boy will be on the house. So is Varys not really a eunuch, then? Or what? Well, whatever Varys is into, Littlefinger is confident that his establishment will be able to provide it. Having established that, they then trade scandalous stories about other people. This guy likes amputees, that guy likes really young children, this other guy is fond of fresh cadavers. Littlefinger thinks to needle Varys by asking if someone has his testicles, perhaps in a handsome wooden box somewhere. Varys has no idea. Then they brag about how great their spy networks are by trying to impress each other by what they saw the other guy doing. Littlefinger, for example, knew that Varys was talking to Lord Stark earlier. This could probably go on all day (and it would continue to be awesome) but Renly Baratheon comes by to tell them that his brother (King Robert) is coming to the council meeting. This is unheard of!
Arya has presumably been crawling through the depths of the castle (which might parallel the way Bran kept climbing the towers, if you're willing to stretch a little) and comes out by some water, and I think she's outside the city gates. She looks dirty and disreputable, which just cements her as Everyone's Favorite Character. She goes into the city and is quickly stopped by a couple of knights. Well, they're dressed like knights, but they're just guarding the door, so that might be pushing it. On the other hand, Jaime had to guard the king's door that time, so I don't know. The door-knight tells Arya to push off, but she insists that she lives here and wants her father. The knight suggests that her father is probably lying drunk in a gutter somewhere. Then she turns on the "noble child" voice and imperiously informs them that her father is the Hand of the King, adding, "If you lay a hand on me, my father will have both your heads on spikes." That appears to be enough to get their attention.
In Lord Stark's chamber, Arya babbles frantically about how "they said they were going to kill you!" Who did? She doesn't know, although one of them was fat. Maybe. Ned seems to start taking her seriously when she says she was near the dragon skulls. Dragon skulls make everything more impressive! Anyway, Lord Stark now has a visitor: it's Yoren, from the Wall! I remember him! Sort of! Ned thinks he's got a message from Benjen, but he brings news that made him ride all night. Ned has Jory take Arya away. As they leave, Arya asks how many guards her father has. "Here in King's Landing? Fifty."
Back in the chambers, Yoren tells Lord Stark, "It's about your wife, m'lord. She's taken the Imp."
Speaking of Lady Stark, her tiny caravan (which might just be her, Sideburns, Tyrion, the minstrel, and that one sellsword) is stopped by armored riders. The leader of the riders asks if Lady Arryn is expecting her visit. She is not, because there wasn't time to send a message and arrange a convenient time to visit. The rider notices Tyrion, who's kind of scowling. I guess he doesn't like being held hostage or something. The rider is not pleased to see him and asks, basically, what's with the Imp? Why you gotta bring the Imp over here? Catelyn explains that he is her prisoner. The lead rider points out that Tyrion, who isn't restrained at all, doesn't really look that much like a prisoner. Catelyn's had enough of this and ends the discussion with "My sister will decide what he looks like." We then get a good look at the Eyrie, which is a giant mountain with vertical sides. And a castle on top. "The Eyrie," muses Tyrion. "They say it's impregnable." The sellsword answers, "Give me ten good men and some climbing spikes. I'll impregnate the bitch." I don't suppose there's any chance that Tyrion purposely delivered that straight line to make the guy feel clever?
Lord Stark storms through the castle like someone on a mission. A lackey tells him that there's a council meeting, but he has no time for that. He's looking for the king, you stupid lackey! Ah, but the lackey has the last laugh, because the king is the one who called the council meeting. Gotcha!
In the council meeting, Robert is displaying his usual tact and reticence by bellowing at the top of his lungs, "The whore is pregnant!" He wants to send some goons over to Vaes Dothrak to kill Daenerys and her unborn child. And "that fool Viserys as well." I love that even while Robert is freaking out at the prospect of a Targaryen coming back to challenge him for the throne, he's more worried about a baby than he is about Viserys. He has no time for Ned's complaints about honor, because honor doesn't keep the Seven Kingdoms in line. Ned says that killing Baby Targaryen would make them no better than the Mad King, which is not the sort of thing that Robert likes to hear. Varys says that his source is Jorah Mormont, who Stark immediately calls a traitor, and therefore untrustworthy. Littlefinger clarifies that Jorah was a slaver, not a traitor. Robert doesn't care about any of that and emphasizes that he doesn't want a male Targaryen at the head of a Dothraki army. He's all set to authorize some intercontinental assassination, but he wants his council to tell him it's okay. Everybody but Lord Stark is on board, so he tells them to get to work convincing Ned. Varys characterizes it as a vile thing, but one they must do. Pycelle asks how many innocents would die if the Dothraki were to invade, and describes it as not only wise, but kind. Renly thinks they should have killed the remaining Targaryens long ago. Littlefinger, if I have this right, says, "When you're in bed with an ugly woman... cut her throat." What? I may have missed part of his metaphor.
None of this convinces Ned, who decides that if everyone else gets to make a speech, he's damned if he's not going to get in a little oration himself. "The Robert I grew up with did not tremble at the thought of an unborn child." Robert is outraged at being defied, and he tells Ned to get with the program, "or I'll find me a Hand that will." Ned takes off the Hand's emblem. "Then good luck to him. I thought you were a better man." Uh oh. That's not the sort of thing that Robert likes to hear. As Stark walks out of the council meeting, Robert shouts after him, "Go! Run back to Winterfell! I'll have your head on a spike! I'll put it there myself! Shout, shout, shout." And so on.
Stark tells Jory to ride ahead with his daughters. He'll ride after them. It's definitely time to get out of town. But before this eminently sensib