At the beginning of the story, Lord Eddard “Ned” Stark executes a deserter from the Night’s Watch, the main force for keeping out the dangers north of the Wall, a huge structure of ice, stone, and magic that protects the Seven Kingdoms. On the way back, he and his men discover six direwolf pups, the animal of his sigil. There are three trueborn male wolf pups and two female wolf pups, as well as an albino runt, which matches his family of three trueborn sons, two trueborn daughters, and a bastard. That night, he receives word of the death of his mentor, Lord Jon Arryn, who had been a close advisor to Ned’s childhood friend, King Robert Baratheon. During a subsequent royal visit to Ned’s isolated northern castle, Winterfell, Robert recruits Ned to replace Arryn as the King’s Hand. Ned is at first reluctant, but agrees to go when he learns that Arryn’s widow Lysa believes Queen Cersei and her family poisoned Arryn. Shortly thereafter, Ned’s son Bran inadvertently discovers Cersei having sex with her twin brother Jaime Lannister, who throws Bran from the tower to conceal the secret. Ned and his daughters Sansa and Arya depart for the royal capital of King’s Landing, while his wife Catelyn, a comatose Bran, and their other sons Robb and Rickon remain at Winterfell.