Two weeks after Bran’s fall, the royal party is about to leave Winterfell for King's Landing. Jon, meanwhile, prepares to head north to the Wall. Catelyn has been by Bran’s bedside day and night since he fell and entered a coma. Jon braves her scorn to say goodbye to Bran, and Catelyn tells Jon that he should have been the one to fall from the tower. Before leaving, Jon embraces Robb, then finds Arya to give her a sword he had made for her as a parting gift. It is very thin and light, and Arya decides to name it Needle, a joke about how much she hates sewing. Jon also gives Arya her first lesson: He tells her to stick her enemies with the pointy end.
In Pentos, Jorah Mormont swears loyalty to Viserys on the night that Daenerys is wed to Drogo. Viserys is impatient for Drogo to repay him with an army so that he can reclaim the Iron Throne of Westeros. Daenerys tries her best to hide her terror during her wedding. The Dothraki people feast, drink, dance, and have sex in public, as is their custom. As wedding gifts, Viserys gives Daenerys three of Illyrio’s handmaids, Jorah gives her books from Westeros, an Illyrio gives her three ancient dragon eggs. The eggs have turned to stone, but they are still priceless. Drogo gives her a beautiful silver horse. Before Daenerys and Drogo ride away at sunset, Viserys threatens his sister and orders her to please Drogo. When the time comes to consummate their marriage, Daenerys finds Drogo more gentle than she expected.
While on the road south to King’s Landing, Robert tells Ned that Jorah has sent him news of Daenerys’ marriage. Five years earlier, Jorah broke the law by selling poachers into slavery, but he fled across the eastern sea before Ned could arrive to sentence him. Jorah now serves as a spy in order to earn a pardon. Robert wants to assassinate Daenerys and Viserys for their family’s crimes, but Ned disagrees. Robert reminds Ned how Rhaegar Targaryen, the brother of the former king, raped Lyanna, and how Aerys killed Ned’s older brother, Brandon. Robert worries that when the Targaryen children grow up, they will sail across the Narrow Sea with a Dothraki army. Ned tells Robert that the Dothraki will never sail, and that the Lannisters’ treachery is a far more immediate and realistic threat. He reminds Robert of how the Lannisters betrayed the last king, Aerys Targaryen.
On the journey north to the Wall, Tyrion and the rest of the party join up with Yoren, a man of the Night's Watch, and two convicted rapists who are joining the Watch rather than remain in prison. Jon asks why Tyrion reads so much, and Tyrion explains to Jon that he reads because, as a dwarf, his mind is his only weapon. Tyrion talks about his family and how he fantasized about the deaths of his father, Tywin, and his sister, Cersei, when he was younger. Tyrion points out that the Night’s Watch is composed of the scum of society and is not the noble calling Jon thought it was. Though Jon disagrees at first, he admits that Tyrion is right. Tyrion compliments the boy’s honesty, saying “Most men would rather deny a hard truth than face it.”
Back at Winterfell, Robb offers to handle the castle affairs while Catelyn keeps watch over Bran. Suddenly, Robb notices a nearby building on fire and leaves to help. Just after he goes, a man enters the room with a dagger to assassinate Bran. Catelyn protects Bran, grabbing the dagger with her bare hands, until Bran's direwolf shows up and kills the assassin. Later, Catelyn wakes up with her hands bandaged. She feels ashamed at how she has neglected everything but Bran. Catelyn knows that Bran was a skilled climber, that Jaime did not join Robert’s hunt on the day of Bran’s fall, and that the assassin carried a weapon far more expensive than befit a man of his clothing and appearance. She concludes that the Lannisters pushed Bran from the tower and then tried to assassinate him because the boy had learned something he was not supposed to. She and Rodrik depart for King’s Landing in order to warn Ned.
As Robert’s party continues towards King’s Landing, Arya defiantly says that she will refuse an invitation to ride in the royal wheelhouse. Frustrated, Sansa wonders how two girls as different as she and her sister could be born to the same mother. When Cersei cancels the meeting in the wheelhouse, Sansa goes riding with Joff. Knowing that Robert has suggested they be married, Sansa and Joff share a budding romance. They ride to the battleground where Robert defeated Rhaegar Targaryen. There they find Arya and a butcher’s boy practicing sword fighting with sticks. Joff draws his steel blade and threatens the butcher’s boy. Arya strikes Joff to defend her friend. When Joff turns to attack Arya, her direwolf intervenes, savagely biting Joff. Arya throws Joff’s sword into the Trident River, and the butcher’s boy, Arya, and her direwolf run away in separate directions.
Joff accuses Arya and the butcher’s boy of attacking him unprovoked. Arya calls him a liar. Sansa is brought before the king as the third witness. Since she is torn between her infatuation with Joff and her duty to tell the truth, she claims not to remember. Robert settles the matter by asking Ned to punish Arya on his own. However, Cersei demands that Arya’s direwolf be killed. Since Arya’s wolf, Nymeria, has run away, it is decided that Sansa’s wolf, Lady, must die. Ned tells Robert to kill the wolf himself if he would pass such an unjust sentence, but Robert only looks at Ned and leaves the room without saying a word. As a result, Ned feels it is his duty to perform the execution himself. Outside, Ned kills Lady, and shortly after the Hound rides by with the dead body of the butcher’s boy.
Bran has a dream that he is falling while a three-eyed crow tries to teach him how to fly. From high above, he sees Catelyn and Rodrik in a ship heading south toward a gathering storm that they cannot see. He also sees Ned, Sansa, and Arya in King’s Landing, the Free Cities across the narrow sea, and Jon on the Wall. Sansa is crying herself to sleep at night, and she and Arya are surrounded by shadows. Bran looks north of the Wall and sees the end of the world. The three-eyed crow says that now Bran knows why he must live. It tells Bran that winter is coming, and now he must learn to fly or he will die. Bran spreads his arms and stops falling. When the crow attacks his face, Bran is startled awake from his coma. His direwolf jumps up onto the bed, and Bran realizes he cannot feel his legs. He decides to name the wolf Summer.
Catelyn and Rodrik arrive at King’s Landing and hide at an inn. Rodrik leaves to try to discover who owned the dragonbone dagger used by Bran’s would-be assassin. While Rodrik is away at the king’s castle, known as the Red Keep, two guards of the City Watch summon Catelyn to Littlefinger’s tower in the Red Keep. Varys, the king’s master of whispers, or spies, has obtained information about Catelyn’s arrival and the dagger. Littlefinger, the king’s master of coin, reveals that the dragonbone dagger used to be his weapon, but Tyrion won it from him in a bet. Littlefinger claims that there was a jousting match in which he bet on Jaime and Tyrion bet on Loras Tyrell, and Loras won a surprise victory.