Patchface, by M. Luisa Giliberti ©
|In 262–275 AC, Essos
Appearance and Character
Patchface takes his name from the tattoos covering his broad face, which is patterned with squares of green and red motley. These tattoos are the practice of the the Free City of Volantis, where the faces of slaves are marked to display their status and their profession. The obese fool is dough-soft and slump-shouldered.
The fool wears a mock helm fashioned from an old tin bucket, with a rack of deer antlers strapped to the crown and hung with cowbells. The bells ring frequently, as Patchface seldom remains still and often hops back and forth.
Patchface was a jester slave in Volantis. He was a clever and skilled boy, with astonishing wit. He was reportedly "nimble as a monkey", could juggle and tell riddles and do magic tricks, and could sing well in four languages. Patchface's freedom was bought by Steffon Baratheon, Lord of Storm's End, who was impressed with the boy during his trip to the Free Cities. Steffon wrote to his maester, Cressen, saying he believed his son Robert would be delighted with Patchface, and that he hoped the fool might be able to make his serious son Stannis laugh. However, while Lord Steffon was returning to Westeros, his ship was struck by a sudden storm in Shipbreaker Bay. Steffon's eldest sons, Robert and Stannis, watched from the parapets of Storm's End while the Windproud was smashed against the rocks of the bay. All aboard the ship were believed killed, including Lord Steffon, his wife Cassana, and over a hundred soldiers and sailors.
Patchface washed up among the dead three days later, naked, his skin white and wrinkled. Maester Cressen believed him to be dead as well, but when the Baratheon's servant Jommy grabbed him to put him on the burial wagon, Patchface coughed up water and sat up. Jommy would swear for the rest of his life that the boy's flesh was clammy cold. What happened to Patchface during the two days he was lost in the sea is unknown, but the fisherfolk around Storm's End often tell a story that a mermaid had taught him to breathe water in return for his seed.
Though Patchface had survived the shipwreck, he was broken in mind and body; the ordeal had taken his memories, and half his wit. He matched none of what Lord Steffon had written in his letter, and was only recognized by his tattooed face. It was suggested by Ser Harbert, the castellan of Storm’s End, that it would be kindest for Cressen to euthanize the mad boy with milk of the poppy, but the maester refused to do so.
Despite his condition, Patchface is employed as court fool and jester at Dragonstone, the castle of Lord Stannis Baratheon. He spends most of his time with Shireen Baratheon, Lord Stannis's daughter. He offers strange insights and stranger songs, sometimes touching upon what may have really happened to the boy at the bottom of the bay.
A Clash of Kings
Patchface accompanies Shireen Baratheon when she visits Maester Cressen in his chamber at Dragonstone to see the white raven that had arrived from the Citadel to announce the end of summer. Later that day, when Cressen arrives at the castle's dinner feast, a dancing Patchface accidentally collides with the maester and knocks him over. Melisandre, a red priestess of R'hllor and adviser to King Stannis Baratheon, helps Cressen stand up, but after he dismisses her religious beliefs, she places Patchface's tin helm on Cressen's head, jesting about "a clever fool and a foolish wise man." The maester returns the helm to Patchface, but when Cressen again disparages the power of R'hllor, Queen Selyse Florent orders him to wear the fool's helm once more, and Stannis assents to his wife's command. Cressen attempts to kill Melisandre by sharing a cup of poisoned wine with her, but her magic causes the poison to have no affect on her. As Cressen dies, he hears the bells of Patchface's helm ring in his antlers, and imagines them saying "fool, fool."
At the Red Keep, the small council meets to deal with Stannis's proclamation that the children of Queen Cersei Lannister were not fathered by her husband, the late King Robert I Baratheon, but rather her brother, Ser Jaime Lannister. Lord Petyr Baelish suggests spreading a false tale that Shireen, whose face is disfigured by greyscale, was fathered by Patchface instead of Stannis, saying that the smallfolk will believe that Patchface's tattoos caused her disfigurement. Renly Baratheon insults Stannis by mentioning the rumor during their parley at Storm's End. Davos Seaworth delivers Stannis's proclamation throughout the realm, but often finds that the rumor about Selyse and Patchface has arrived before he has, casting doubt on the true tale of Cersei's adultery. He tells Stannis that people gleefully share the rumor, whether they believe it or not.
A Storm of Swords
When Davos Seaworth is rescued from being marooned on the spears of the merling king after nearly drowning during the battle of the Blackwater, he hopes he has not gone mad like Patchface. Later, when Davos returns to Dragonstone, he finds Patchface playing monsters and maidens with Shireen and her cousin, Edric Storm.
Maester Pylos prevents Patchface from attending Shireen's lessons, as the bells of his fool's helm constantly ring loudly. During the lessons, Patchface waits faithfully outside the maester's chamber door.
A Dance with Dragons
When Stannis sails north to help the Night's Watch defend the realm from the wildlings and the Others, Patchface accompanies Shireen and Selyse to Eastwatch-by-the-Sea. The castle's commander, Cotter Pyke, writes to Jon Snow, Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, that Patchface is a simpleton. At Eastwatch, Patchface receives a motley cloak of beaver pelts, sheepskins, and rabbit fur. His horned fool's helm now includes long brown flaps of squirrel fur that hang down over his ears.
When Selyse's entourage arrives at Castle Black, she does not bother to introduce Patchface to Jon Snow, but Jon recognizes the fool from Cotter Pyke's letters. The giant Wun Wun is fascinated with the fool and his singing and dancing, but when Wun Wun reaches for him, Patchface backs away in alarm. The giant laughs loudly after Patchface falls into a snowdrift.
Patchface attends the wedding of Alys Karstark and Sigorn of the Thenns, and Owen the Oaf dances with him during the feast. Melisandre tells Jon that she feels Patchface is dangerous. She says that she has often glimpsed the fool in her flames, sometimes with "skulls about him, and his lips are red with blood."
Quotes by Patchface
The shadows come to dance, my lord, dance my lord, dance my lord. The shadows come to stay, my lord, stay my lord, stay my lord.—Patchface to Cressen
Under the sea, smoke rises in bubbles, and flames burn green and blue and black. I know, I know, oh, oh, oh.
Fool's blood, king's blood, blood on the maiden's thigh, but chains for the guests and chains for the bridegroom, aye, aye, aye.—Patchface to Davos Seaworth
Under the sea the old fish eat the young fish. Up here the young fish teach the old fish.—Patchface to Davos Seaworth
In the dark the dead are dancing. I know, I know, oh oh oh.—Patchface at Castle Black
—Patchface at Castle Black
—Patchface to Jon Snow
Malegorn: Lord Snow, who will lead this ranging?
Jon: Are you offering yourself, ser?Patchface: I will lead it! We will march into the sea and out again. Under the waves we will ride seahorses, and mermaids will blow seashells to announce our coming, oh, oh, oh.
Malegorn: Do I look so foolish?
Quotes about Patchface
We have found the most splendid fool. Only a boy, yet nimble as a monkey and witty as a dozen courtiers. He juggles and riddles and does magic, and he can sing prettily in four tongues. We have bought his freedom and hope to bring him home with us. Robert will be delighted with him, and perhaps in time he will even teach Stannis how to laugh.
—thoughts of Cressen
The wretch is mad, and in pain, and no use to anyone, least of all himself. The kindest thing you could do for that one is fill his cup with the milk of the poppy. A painless sleep, and there's an end to it. He'd bless you if he had the wit for it.
Pycelle: Surely you do not mean to suggest that Lady Selyse would bring a fool into her bed?Petyr: I like my tale better, and so will the smallfolk.
Petyr: You'd have to be a fool to want to bed Selyse Florent. Doubtless Patchface reminded her of Stannis. And the best lies contain within them nuggets of truth, enough to give a listener pause. As it happens, this fool is utterly devoted to the girl and follows her everywhere. They even look somewhat alike. Shireen has a mottled, half-frozen face as well.
Pycelle: But that is from the greyscale that near killed her as a babe, poor thing.
—thoughts of Davos Seaworth
- A Clash of Kings, Prologue.
- See the Patchface calculation.
- George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Patchface.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 10, Davos II.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 54, Davos V.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 44, Jon IX.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 10, Davos I.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 15, Tyrion III.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 31, Catelyn III.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 42, Davos II.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 49, Jon X.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 53, Jon XI.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 69, Jon XIII.