Locusts are a common delicacy in Essos. A large bowl of honeyed and spiced locusts was laced with poison and placed in the royal box at Daznak's Pit during the celebrations for the reopening of the fighting pits of Meereen. It is possible that Queen Daenerys Targaryen was the intended target of the poison. It is unknown whether just one or a number of locusts would need to be eaten in order to kill the victim.
A Dance with Dragons
While entering the royal box in Daznak's Pit, Queen Daenerys Targaryen notes that her husband, Hizdahr zo Loraq, has stocked it well with drinks and delicacies. The foodstuffs include flagons of chilled wine and sweetwater, figs, dates, melons, pomegranates, pecans, peppers, and a large bowl of honeyed locusts. One of her Queensguard, Strong Belwas, enters the box, immediately spots the bowl of honeyed locusts, and begins to crunch them by the handful. Hizdahr encourages Daenerys to eat them as well, describing them as very tasty, sweet and spicy, but she declines.
While they watch the fights, Belwas finishes the entire bowl of honeyed locusts on his own. After the pit fighter Barsena Blackhair is killed by a boar, Belwas rubs his swollen stomach and remarks that the screaming makes him feel sick in his belly. A little later, he has a queasy look on his face, and says that he has eaten too many locusts and needs to drink some milk. When Daenerys's fugitive dragon Drogon suddenly appears above the fighting pit, the crowd goes silent, but Belwas moans, stumbles to his feet and falls to his knees. As Drogon consumes both the boar and Barsena, Belwas begins to retch. He continues vomiting bile and blood even while Daenerys confronts Drogon and flies away on dragonback.
Afterwards, Belwas is taken into the Temple of the Graces, under the care of the Blue Graces. He nearly dies, only saved from the poison by his enormous size and freakish strength. Belwas survives his deadly encounter, but loses two stone of weight, and his skin hangs on him in loose folds. His strength and confidence have also become uncertain.
While Belwas is in the temple, Skahaz mo Kandaq informs Ser Barristan Selmy that he has found the poisoner – Hizdahr zo Loraq's confectioner. However, Skahaz claims that the confectioner was just a catspaw, as the Sons of the Harpy had taken the confectioner's daughter and swore that she would be returned unharmed once the queen was dead. According to Skahaz, Belwas and Drogon saved Daenerys, but no one saved the girl. He tells Barristan that she was returned to her father in the black of night in nine pieces. Skahaz tells Barristan that he believes Hizdahr is the one who ordered Daenerys's assassination. Barristan thinks about Hizdahr, and recalls how he had urged Daenerys to try the honeyed locusts, though he never touched one himself. Barristan decides he wants to question the confectioner himself.
Ser Barristan also considers that the poisoned locusts may have actually been meant for Hizdahr, as his death would have smashed the fragile peace of Meereen. He wonders if Prince Quentyn Martell, Daenerys's former suitor, might have wanted to remove Hizdahr. Barristan notes that Dornishmen are known to use poison, particularly Quentyn's uncle, Oberyn Martell. Barristan speaks with Quentyn, and decides his reaction when questioned proves he cannot be the poisoner, but warns him that Hizdahr may try to use him as a scapegoat. Quentyn's companion, Gerris Drinkwater, says that Daenerys's paramour Daario Naharis also has a good reason to desire Hizdahr's death, but Barristan points out that Daario would never use poison. Barristan suggests that Quentyn and his companions leave Meereen before they are accused.
When Skahaz and his loyal Brazen Beasts arrest Hizdahr and seize control of Meereen, the Brazen Beasts are all wearing brass locusts masks. During Hizdahr's arrest, Barristan confronts him about the poisoned locusts. Hizdahr claims the poisoner was Quentyn, as he was assured by Reznak mo Reznak, but admits he has no proof. When Barristan asks him why he did not eat any of the locusts, Hizdahr says hot spices disagree with him, and asks why he would want to poison his own wife. He repeats that he thought she would like the hot and sweet flavor, and suggests that Daario might have wanted to kill Daenerys for putting him aside, and if Hizdahr ate any of the locusts, him as well. Hizdahr continues to deny that he is the Harpy, despite Barristan's accusations.
After Hizdahr's arrest, the Green Grace, Galazza Galare, asks Barristan Selmy that he be freed to stop the attacks of the Sons of the Harpy. Barristan tells her that Hizdahr attempted to kill Daenerys with poisoned locusts, but Galazza says he is innocent. He asks her how she knows, and she claims that those of the House of Loraq would never use poison, and the gods of Ghis have assured her of his innocence. Barristan replies that his own gods have been silent on the subject.
Later, while Daenerys Targaryen wanders the Dothraki Sea in an attempt to return to Meereen, she recalls how Belwas had been vomiting, and realizes that the bowl of locusts had been poisoned. Though she remembers how Hizdahr had encouraged her to eat them, she believes he would have no reason to want her dead, as she had made him king of Meereen and re-opened his fighting pits. Daenerys wonders if the poisoner could have been her seneschal, Reznak mo Reznak, or her enemies the Wise Masters of Yunkai, or the Sons of the Harpy.
- Hizdahr zo Loraq
- Quentyn Martell
- Daario Naharis
- Skahaz mo Kandaq
- Reznak mo Reznak
- The Wise Masters
- The Sons of the Harpy
Hizdahr: Those are very tasty. You ought to try a few yourself, my love. They are rolled in spice before the honey, so they are sweet and hot at once.
Daenerys: That explains the way Belwas is sweating. I believe I will content myself with figs and dates.
—thoughts of Barristan Selmy
—thoughts of Barristan Selmy
Barristan: Her Grace gave her hand to Hizdahr zo Loraq, made him her king and consort, restored the mortal art as he beseeched her. In return he gave her poisoned locusts.
Galazza: In return he gave her peace. Do not cast it away, ser, I beg you. Peace is the pearl beyond price. Hizdahr is of Loraq. Never would he soil his hands with poison. He is innocent.
- The Meereenese Blot theorizes that Skahaz mo Kandaq poisoned the locusts so that no matter who ate them, Daenerys or Hizdahr, the peace of Meereen would be shattered, to his advantage, and further manipulated Barristan into believing Hizdahr's guilt.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 54, Daenerys VI.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 27, Tyrion VII.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 52, Daenerys IX.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 55, The Queensguard.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 59, The Discarded Knight.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 70, The Queen's Hand.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 67, The Kingbreaker.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 71, Daenerys X.