Arya put her lips to his ear. “It’s Jaqen H’ghar.”
Even in the burning barn, with walls of flame towering all around and him in chains, he had not seemed so distraught as he did now. “A girl . . . she makes a jest.”
“You swore. The gods heard you swear.”
“The gods did hear,” There was a knife in his hand suddenly, its blade thin as her little finger. Whether it was meant for her or him, Arya could not say. “A girl will weep. A girl will lose her only friend.”
“You’re not my friend. A friend would help me.” She stepped away from him, balanced on the balls of her feet in case he threw his knife. “I’d never kill a friend.”
Jaqen’s smile came and went. “A girl might . . . name another name then, if a friend did help?”
“A girl might,” she said. “If a friend did help.”
The knife vanished. “Come.”
“Now?” She had never thought he would act so quickly.
“A man hears the whisper of sand in a glass. A man will not sleep until a girl unsays a certain name. Now, evil child.”
I’m not an evil child, she thought, I am a direwolf, and the ghost in Harrenhal. She put her broomstick back in its hiding place and followed him from the godswood.
Despite the hour, Harrenhal stirred with fitful life. Vargo Hoat’s arrival had thrown off all the routines. Ox carts, oxen, and horses had all vanished from the yard, but the bear cage was still there. It had been hung from the arched span of the bridge that divided the outer and middle wards, suspended on heavy chains, a few feet off the ground. A ring of torches bathed the area in light. Some of the boys from the stables were tossing stones to make the bear roar and grumble. Across the ward, light spilled through the door of the Barracks Hall, accompanied by the clatter of tankards and men calling for more wine. A dozen voices took up a song in a guttural tongue strange to Arya’s ears.
They’re drinking and eating before they sleep, she realized. Pinkeye would have sent to wake me, to help with the serving. He’ll know I’m not abed. But likely he was busy pouring for the Brave Companions and those of Ser Amory’s garrison who had joined them. The noise they were making would be a good distraction.
“The hungry gods will feast on blood tonight, if a man would do this thing,” Jaqen said. “Sweet girl, kind and gentle. Unsay one name and say another and cast this mad dream aside.”
“Just so.” He seemed resigned. “The thing will be done, but a girl must obey. A man has no time for talk.”
“A girl will obey,” Arya said. “What should I do?”
“A hundred men are hungry, they must be fed, the lord commands hot broth. A girl must run to the kitchens and tell her pie boy.”
“Broth,” she repeated. “Where will you be?”
“A girl will help make broth, and wait in the kitchens until a man comes for her. Go. Run.”
Hot Pie was pulling his loaves from the ovens when she burst into the kitchen, but he was no longer alone. They’d woken the cooks to feed Vargo Hoat and his Bloody Mummers. Serving men were carrying off baskets of Hot Pie’s bread and tarts, the chief cook was carving cold slices off a ham, spit boys were turning rabbits while the pot girls basted them with honey, women were chopping onions and carrots. “What do you want, Weasel?” the chief cook asked when he saw her.
“Broth,” she announced. “My lord wants broth.”
He jerked his carving knife at the black iron kettles hung over the flames. “What do you think that is? Though I’d soon as piss in it as serve it to that goat. Can’t even let a man have a night’s sleep.” He spat. “Well, never you mind, run back and tell him a kettle can’t be hurried,”
“I’m to wait here until it’s done.”
“Then stay out of the way. Or better yet, make yourself of use. Run to the buttery; his goatship will be wanting butter and cheese. Wake up Pia and tell her she’d best be nimble for once, if she wants to keep both of her feet.”
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