Syrio gives Arya a lesson. He calls out where he will strike so that Arya can counter, but he lies on the final thrust and gets through her defense. Arya is upset, but Syrio points out that his whole body showed the point of attack and only his words were lies. He then tells her a story about the importance of seeing what is really there rather than what someone says is there. When Syrio’s predecessor as first sword died, the Sealord of Braavos began conducting interviews with bravos from the city one at a time. When Syrio was brought before him, the Sealord had a beast on his lap he said was brought from a faraway land. Syrio recognized it as an immensely fat yet otherwise ordinary cat and was given the job. All the other candidates had seen an exotic beast because the Sealord said it was exotic, but Syrio saw through the lie. The lesson learned, Syrio tells Arya he is pleased with her progress and believes he might let her use Needle when they get to Winterfell. Suddenly, Ser Meryn bursts into the room with five Lannister guards. He says that Arya’s father wants to see her, but Syrio sees through the ruse, and Ser Meryn orders Arya taken. Syrio intercedes to give her time to escape, and Ser Meryn orders him killed. Syrio takes on and defeats all five guards, killing some of them, but cannot do much against the fully armored Ser Meryn. He tells Arya to run and closes with his foe and almost certain death.
Arya runs into an underground storeroom and then crawls out a window. She sees the Tower of the Hand, with the doors bashed in and one of her father’s guards dead at the door. She hears the sounds of fighting from within. She realizes she cannot go that way and heads to the stables instead. She sees Hullen at the entrance; he has been stabbed many times. Hullen tells her to warn her father and dies. Inside, there are more dead men: a groom, three Stark guards, including Desmond, and one dead Lannister guard. She sees her chest and searches through it for Needle. A stableboy sees her and tries to turn her in, but she stabs and kills him. She realizes the gates will be shut, but remembers the passage where she had seen the strange men. It takes her a while, but she finds her way down and walks towards freedom.
Ah the chapter that launched half a hundred half-assed theories. For what it’s worth, I don’t care whether Syrio Forel survived or not. If you want my opinion, I think it would be neater and better if he did die though there’s something about this scene that makes me think that maybe, just maybe, he didn’t get killed by Meryn Trant. Until we get there, there’s a few points to make regarding Arya and her story.
Watching is not seeing, dead girl.
The foreshadowing is laid on pretty thick, both here and in Jon’s chapters that Arya might not live to see the end of the war. I’ve mentioned it way back when I covered that particular Jon chapter, but I’ll say it again: I’ll be pretty heartbroken if Arya ends up dead, but at the same time, I think it might be an interesting end to a fairly interesting character. Arya’s story is one that gets progressively less passive, until it reaches the point where she begins to proactively mark the names off her list. It’s probably a fitting for a character so obsessed with killing to end up dead, but even writing that makes me think of the Arya we just saw in this chapter, so full of innocence and energy. She goes through hell and back and part of me wants to think that she has endured enough to earn better than death by the series’ end, but I know all too well that that’s not how Martin’s sense of karma works.
On the surface of it, sending six armed men to seize a single scrawny girl and her ‘dancing master’ is rather ludicrous but then I realized Arya might have been guarded (should have been guarded?) and six men was probably a fair number to send just in case. Maybe Cersei isn’t that dumb.
Kill the Braavosi and bring me the girl
Yes, Lord Vader. In any case, Syrio acquits himself well enough for the First Sword of Braavos that I don’t think it’s suspicious that he goes down after this. He’s out numbered and armed with only a wooden stick where his opponents are armed and armoured with steel. I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to assume that he died at some point after his only (wooden) weapon broke.
“You liar!” she said, kicking his body in a sudden fury
This…this was really agonizing. On one hand, the inner conservative in me is going all, you should respect the dead and all, but I can’t exactly take it out on Arya either can? It’s a terrible situation and I can’t be surprised when people do terrible things in it. Beyond that, the betrayal she feels stings, mainly because we’re as powerless as she is to exact revenge on those truly responsible.
“She don’t know me,” he said, “but I knows her, oh, yes. The wolf girl.”
This sounds weirdly like Gollum.
“Take it out.”
That’s what she said. Also, it’s what she did. It’s a really dark chapter when you think about it though. Arya racks up her first of many kills even though it’s arguably in self-defence and almost by accident but its effect on her psyche is almost immediate; within the chapter itself the incident haunts her. It’s when she doesn’t feel those emotions that she know she has finished her transformation into a stone cold killer.
“This is where the dead walk.”
There’s something about Robb leading them through the crypts as Jon appears as a ghost that seems like it could be interesting…but I think in the long-run it’s probably just a red-herring.