Arya pressed back against the wall as Rorge began to cut throats. Biter preferred to grab the men behind the head and under the chin and crack their necks with a single twist of his huge pale hands. Only one of the guards managed to get a blade out. Jaqen danced away from his slash, drew his own sword, drove the man back into a corner with a flurry of blows, and killed him with a thrust to the heart. The Lorathi brought the blade to Arya still red with heart’s blood and wiped it clean on the front of her shift. “A girl should be bloody too. This is her work.”
The key to the cell hung from a hook on the wall above the table. Rorge took it down and opened the door. The first man through was the lord with the mailed fist on his surcoat. “Well done,” he said. “I am Robett Glover.”
“My lord.” Jaqen gave him a bow.
Once freed, the captives stripped the dead guards of their weapons and darted up the steps with steel in hand. Their fellows crowded after them, bare-handed. They went swiftly, and with scarcely a word. None of them seemed quite so badly wounded as they had when Vargo Hoat had marched them through the gates of Harrenhal. “This of the soup, that was clever,” the man Glover was saying. “I did not expect that. Was it Lord Hoat’s idea?”
Rorge began to laugh. He laughed so hard that snot flew out the hole where his nose had been. Biter sat on top of one of the dead men, holding a limp hand as he gnawed at the fingers. Bones cracked between his teeth.
“Who are you men?” A crease appeared between Robett Glover’s brows. “You were not with Hoat when he came to Lord Bolton’s encampment. Are you of the Brave Companions?”
Rorge wiped the snot off his chin with the back of his hand. “We are now.”
“This man has the honor to be Jaqen H’ghar, once of the Free City of Lorath. This man’s discourteous companions are named Rorge and Biter. A lord will know which is Biter.” He waved a hand toward Arya. “And here—”
“I’m Weasel,” she blurted, before he could tell who she really was. She did not want her name said here, where Rorge might hear, and Biter, and all these others she did not know.
She saw Glover dismiss her. “Very well,” he said. “Let’s make an end to this bloody business.”
When they climbed back up the winding stair, they found the door guards lying in pools of their own blood. Northmen were running across the ward. Arya heard shouts. The door of Barracks Hall burst open and a wounded man staggered out screaming. Three others ran after him and silenced him with spear and sword. There was fighting around the gatehouse as well. Rorge and Biter rushed off with Glover, but Jaqen H’ghar knelt beside Arya. “A girl does not understand?”
“Yes I do,” she said, though she didn’t, not truly.
The Lorathi must have seen it on her face. “A goat has no loyalty. Soon a wolf banner is raised here, I think. But first a man would hear a certain name unsaid.”
“I take back the name.” Arya chewed her lip. “Do I still have a third death?”
“A girl is greedy.” Jaqen touched one of the dead guards and showed her his bloody fingers. “Here is three and there is four and eight more lie dead below. The debt is paid.”
“The debt is paid,” Arya agreed reluctantly. She felt a little sad. Now she was just a mouse again.
“A god has his due. And now a man must die.” A strange smile touched the lips of Jaqen H’ghar.
“Die?” she said, confused. What did he mean? “But I unsaid the name. You don’t need to die now.”
“I do. My time is done.” Jaqen passed a hand down his face from forehead to chin, and where it went he changed. His cheeks grew fuller, his eyes closer; his nose hooked, a scar appeared on his right cheek where no scar had been before. And when he shook his head, his long straight hair, half red and half white, dissolved away to reveal a cap of tight black curls.
Arya’s mouth hung open. “Who are you?” she whispered, too astonished to be afraid. “How did you do that? Was it hard?”
He grinned, revealing a shiny gold tooth. “No harder than taking a new name, if you know the way.”
“Show me,” she blurted. “I want to do it too.”
“If you would learn, you must come with me.”
Arya grew hesitant. “Where?”
“Far and away, across the narrow sea.”
“I can’t. I have to go home. To Winterfell.”
“Then we must part,” he said, “for I have duties too.” He lifted her hand and pressed a small coin into her palm. “Here.”
“What is it?”
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