Illyrio Mo'Parties

It's not Alys Karstark, either

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Posted (edited)

Figured this deserved its own thread.

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"How well do you know the north?"

He slipped his blade away. "As well as any raider. Some parts more than others. There's a lot of north. Why?"

"The girl," she said. "A girl in grey on a dying horse. Jon Snow's sister." Who else could it be? She was racing to him for protection, that much Melisandre had seen clearly. "I have seen her in my flames, but only once. We must win the lord commander's trust, and the only way to do that is to save her."

"Me save her, you mean? The Lord o' Bones?" He laughed. "No one ever trusted Rattleshirt but fools. Snow's not that. If his sister needs saving, he'll send his crows. I would."

"He is not you. He made his vows and means to live by them. The Night's Watch takes no part. But you are not Night's Watch. You can do what he cannot."

"If your stiff-necked lord commander will allow it. Did your fires show you where to find this girl?"

"I saw water. Deep and blue and still, with a thin coat of ice just forming on it. It seemed to go on and on forever."

"Long Lake. What else did you see around this girl?"

"Hills. Fields. Trees. A deer, once. Stones. She is staying well away from villages. When she can she rides along the bed of little streams, to throw hunters off her trail."

He frowned. "That will make it difficult. She was coming north, you said. Was the lake to her east or to her west?"

Melisandre closed her eyes, remembering. "West."

"She is not coming up the kingsroad, then. Clever girl. There are fewer watchers on the other side, and more cover. And some hidey-holes I have used myself from time—" He broke off at the sound of a warhorn and rose swiftly to his feet.

-- Melisandre I, A Dance with Dragons

Later on Alys Karstark turns up on a dying horse, and we realise that Mel was wrong: her vision was correct, but not her interpretation. She saw Alys Karstark riding for the Wall, not Arya.

Except that ain't true either. Consider:

Alys and Mance never ran into each other, or at least, neither of them have said as much. We all assume it's because Mance never bothered looking, and just went straight to Winterfell - but what if he did look, and just didn't find any trace of this girl?

And of course, he wouldn't find any trace of her. Mance was heading due south and searching around the east side of Long Lake. But look at a map of the North: Karhold is way east of Long Lake. If Alys traveled to Castle Black by way of Long Lake, she'd be doubling the length of her journey - a perilous journey made on a single horse with as much food as she can carry.

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The whole thing is based on a chain of faulty assumptions. Melisandre knows (I think) that Arya is getting married to Ramsay, so when she sees this girl riding a horse, she thinks it's Arya. From that, she assumes the direction. With the direction and rough location being assumed, Mance deduces Long Lake.

But if it ain't Arya, why should we assume any of the other details are correct? Is it really Long Lake? Is it really the North? Is she really heading north?

I believe that rather being a girl riding north on the east side of Long Lake, it's a girl riding south on the west side of the God's Eye, some time in the future when winter has reached that far south. And who is the girl? We don't know... but wouldn't it be a delicious irony if it turned out to actually be Arya?

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That's all. Oh, and there does exist the possibility that Alys fled from the Karstark contingent that was heading to Stannis, and was therefore south of Long Lake when she ran, but I don't think so.

Apologies for raggediness. I'm tired.

Edited by Illyrio Mo'Parties

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That's another good one... although, we'd think Melisandre would recognise Shireen - but she didn't get a good look in the vision. And Shireen is definitely "grey"...

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Small problem, if the girl that arrived at castle black was not the girl Mellisandre saw in her vision; she would realise this.

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Posted (edited)

Yes to everything you said. 

We even have Arya praying for a red priest to find her in their flames! The irony of Mel doing just that! 

If you strip away all of Mel's conjecture and assumptions, we are left with a simple image she sees only once: 

*A grey girl on a dying horse, travelling in haste, along the western shore of a gigantic lake. 

 

Mel even has a private thought where she admits only to herself that she has no clue when this moment happens or where this girl really is. So how can she know the girl is heading North? Mance only suggests Long Lake based off this assumed "heading North to the Wall" idea he got from Mel. 

I was speaking to @ravenous reader yesterday about this and she made an excellent observation I would like to share concerning the "fleeing a marriage" statement. The obvious would be "an actual marriage". Perhaps, George meant something less obvious...

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Perhaps it's about Arya breaking ties with the Faceless Men.  As with Bran marrying the trees, being inducted into the FM society is akin to a marriage, in which one swears off more worldly marriages.

Mance thinks the girl is clever for avoiding the dangerous King's Road.

Early on Arya learns this lesson from Yoren:

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"We're not far from Gods Eye," the black brother said one morning. "The kingsroad won't be safe till we're across the Trident. So we'll come up around the lake along the western shore, they're not like to look for us there."  - Arya, ACoK

Arya ends up doing just that as she leads Gendry and Hotpie. Arya then travels with the The Hound and has this same lesson drilled into her later on. 

Mel says the girl is avoiding villages.

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So she stayed with the Hound.

They rode every day, never sleeping twice in the same place, avoiding towns and villages and castles as best they could. - Arya

The God's Eye in Winter:

In "The Blind Girl" there is this passage:

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And what else do you know?" It is snowing in the riverlands, in Westeros, she almost said. But he would have asked her how she knew that, and she did not think that he would like her answer. - The Blind Girl, ADwD

So what will the Gods Eye look like when Arya returns to Westeros? 

 

Mel describes the surroundings of this grey girl and they fit the area around the God's Eye lake.

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 “Hills. Fields. Trees. A deer, once. Stones. She is staying well away from villages. When she can she rides along the bed of little streams, to throw hunters off her trail.”

 

Recall Arya's chase on horseback and the terrain George describes. 

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"Why do I have to see Lord Beric?" she asked quietly.

"We bring him all our highborn captives," said Anguy.

Captive. Arya took a breath to still her soul. Calm as still water. She glanced at the outlaws on their horses, and turned her horse's head. Now, quick as a snake, she thought, as she slammed her heels into the courser's flank. Right between Greenbeard and Jack-Be-Lucky she flew, and caught one glimpse of Gendry's startled face as his mare moved out of her way. And then she was in the open field, and running.

North or south, east or west, that made no matter now.

 

Made no matter indeed! 

If the Lake in the vision is the Gods Eye, then that really narrows things down considerably.  Jeyne wouldn'tbe riding alone anywhere near the Gods Eye. Alys is the obvious red herring.

What are the chances that the grey girl in Mel's vision is Arya, returned to Westeros, travelling South along the Western shore possibly heading to the Isle of Faces? The Gods Eye was calling to Arya after all. 

 

Edited by DutchArya

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11 minutes ago, The Weirwoods Eyes said:

Small problem, if the girl that arrived at castle black was not the girl Mellisandre saw in her vision; she would realise this.

Arya and Alys look similar. Even Jon, who knows Arya best, sees those similarities. Mel has never seen Arya. And she only saw the grey girl once, probably wearing that grey cloak. All her assumptions came true. So why wouldn't she believe it?   

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12 hours ago, Illyrio Mo'Parties said:

Figured this deserved its own thread.

-- Melisandre I, A Dance with Dragons

Later on Alys Karstark turns up on a dying horse, and we realise that Mel was wrong: her vision was correct, but not her interpretation. She saw Alys Karstark riding for the Wall, not Arya.

Except that ain't true either. Consider:

Alys and Mance never ran into each other, or at least, neither of them have said as much. We all assume it's because Mance never bothered looking, and just went straight to Winterfell - but what if he did look, and just didn't find any trace of this girl?

I don't believe Melisandre was wrong. Presumably she prayed for a vision of Arya, and got served up a load of ambiguous, metaphorical fluff. The gods seem to operate that way - Jojen had the same problem.

In this case, I bet this is Alys as a metaphor for Arya. Or Alys' journey as foreshadowing of Arya's journey (a future journey, we haven't seen her on a dying horse yet).

I think it's Alys because the dying horse points that way - and it was relevant information: possibly a bit of bonus data from Rhllor, even though Mel had no way of asking for it specifically.

12 hours ago, Illyrio Mo'Parties said:

And of course, he wouldn't find any trace of her. Mance was heading due south and searching around the east side of Long Lake. But look at a map of the North: Karhold is way east of Long Lake. If Alys traveled to Castle Black by way of Long Lake, she'd be doubling the length of her journey - a perilous journey made on a single horse with as much food as she can carry.

A very good point. I can only guess how Alys ended up near Long Lake. She might have escaped from Karhold hidden in a cart heading for Winterfell, and only got hold of a horse later. Or the terrain out of Karhold might be so rough that Alys had to stick to the road, and the northern road was watched.

She might have travelled the same road as Mance - he could have missed her if she was resting or hiding off the road when he passed.

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Wanted to expand on why I think it's Shireen. We're given really only one piece of descriptive information about the girl, but it's vivid and specific:

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She had seen the girl only once. A girl as grey as ash, and even as I watched she crumbled and blew away.

Ash grey yields only 23 hits in a search, and the basically break down into two categories:

First, one reference to House Stark, which implies it's Arya:

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the rippling white banner of House Stark atop a high standard of grey ash. (GOT B VI)

 

Everything else is about the effects of fire:

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 They came up the roseroad and along the riverbank, through all the fields Stannis had burned, the ashes puffing up around their boots and turning all their armor grey, but oh! the banners must have been bright... (COK S VII)

 

After Winterfell burns:

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The ashes fell like a soft grey snow. (COK BVI)

 

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 At Saltpans, they had found only death and desolation. By the time Brienne and her companions were ferried over from the Quiet Isle, the survivors had fled and the dead had been given to the ground, but the corpse of the town itself remained, ashen and unburied. The air still smelled of smoke, and the cries of the seagulls floating overhead sounded almost human, like the lamentations of lost children. Even the castle had seemed forlorn and abandoned. Grey as the ashes of the town around it, the castle consisted of a square keep girded by a curtain wall, built so as to overlook the harbor. (FFC B VII)

 

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The last free king of Astapor, screaming naked in the pit as he was set on by a score of starving dogs. And fires, fires everywhere. He could close his eyes and see them still: flames whirling from brick pyramids larger than any castle he had ever seen, plumes of greasy smoke coiling upward like great black snakes.

When the wind blew from the south, the air smelled of smoke even here, three miles from the city. Behind its crumbling red brick walls, Astapor was still asmolder, though by now most of the great fires had burned out. Ashes floated lazy on the breeze like fat grey snowflakes. It would be good to go. (DWD tWB)

 

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The red priestess shuddered. Blood trickled down her thigh, black and smoking. The fire was inside her, an agony, an ecstasy, filling her, searing her, transforming her. Shimmers of heat traced patterns on her skin, insistent as a lover's hand. Strange voices called to her from days long past. "Melony," she heard a woman cry. A man's voice called, "Lot Seven." She was weeping, and her tears were flame. And still she drank it in.

Snowflakes swirled from a dark sky and ashes rose to meet them, the grey and the white whirling around each other as flaming arrows arced above a wooden wall and dead things shambled silent through the cold, beneath a great grey cliff where fires burned inside a hundred caves. Then the wind rose and the white mist came sweeping in, impossibly cold, and one by one the fires went out. Afterward only the skulls remained. (DWD M I)

 

Post-fire Winterfell:

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Under the snow lay grey ash and cinders, and here and there a blackened beam or a pile of bones adorned with scraps of skin and hair. (DWD tPoW)

 

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Rhaegal roared in answer, and fire filled the pit, a spear of red and yellow. Viserion replied, his own flames gold and orange. When he flapped his wings, a cloud of grey ash filled the air. (DWD Dae VIII)

 

This is a very clear pattern. Textually we should be looking for fire. I haven't seen the show, but my understanding is that Shireen burns. The girl on the horse is still alive, then gradually blows away, as if she is burned. And Shireen's greyscaled appearance makes up the difference:

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 Across half one cheek and well down her neck, her flesh was stiff and dead, the skin cracked and flaking, mottled black and grey and stony to the touch. (COK Pro)

 

That's pretty damn close.Funny wordplay possibly foreshadowing that she'll be burned in the books here:

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Then he heard a faint ringing of bells, and a child's giggle, and suddenly the fool Patchface popped from the bushes, shambling along as fast as he could go with the Princess Shireen hot on his heels. (SOS D II)

 

Having done this, though, I was immediately struck by the obvious tragic, ironic, hence dramatically powerful answer: the "girl" is Melisandre, paying off the fact that her POV involves her seeing herself as a girl, Melony. She sees herself at the end of a tragic chain of events she herself helps trigger. She's a priestess of R'hllor. Every single reference to gray ash in the books save the one reference to House Stark is to fire and the destruction it wreaks. That's her bread and butter.

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@DutchArya I also thought it could be Arya at the God's Eye. When she's traveling north after fleeing KL, they come upon the God's Eye and it's described in gigantic terms: 

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To the east, Gods Eye was a sheet of sun-hammered blue that filled half the world

Furthermore, an earlier passage in the same chapter seems to foreshadow Arya's journey on the east side of the Narrow Sea and her eventual return west. It's pointed out that they can't go on the west side, where Nymeria's pack roams, so her return to Westeros and the Riverlands would be thematically significant (and echo Lyanna's path to Rhaegar).

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"That's Gods Eye, with the river flowing south. We're here." He poked a hole beside the line of the river, under the circle. "We can't go round west of the lake, like I thought. East takes us back to the kingsroad."

So Melisandre got the person right, but not the time or place.

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22 hours ago, DutchArya said:

I was speaking to @ravenous reader yesterday about this and she made an excellent observation I would like to share concerning the "fleeing a marriage" statement. The obvious would be "an actual marriage". Perhaps, George meant something less obvious...

It's an actual marriage. Jon and Sansa will broker marriage between Robert Arryn and Arya to be king and queen, and Arya will refuse. New Jon will not accept defiance and lock her in the maidenvault, she will escape and go on her journey, Deana the Defiant.

Deana the Defiant, wild and wilful, athletic hunter horsewoman, always dressed in black, and then always in white. Idolised her father and brother, the boy who went South and conquered, but failed to stick his conquest because he didn't seal it with marriage. This brother won't be making that mistake, so Arya will be up for marriage.

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...or GRRM forgot to look again at the map and somehow thought that Karhold was supposed to be where the Dreadfort actually is.

This vision of Mel's doesn't smell like something so grave that its scope reaches beyond the one book it's used in, and didn't leave the impression of incompleteness, of need for the real solution. So my working hypothesis will be "writer's error". Purely personal impression, though.

On 18.03.2017 at 2:57 PM, DutchArya said:

Mel even has a private thought where she admits only to herself that she has no clue when this moment happens or where this girl really is. So how can she know the girl is heading North?

The sun's position?

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Posted (edited)

4 hours ago, Ferocious Veldt Roarer said:

...or GRRM forgot to look again at the map and somehow thought that Karhold was supposed to be where the Dreadfort actually is.

This vision of Mel's doesn't smell like something so grave that its scope reaches beyond the one book it's used in, and didn't leave the impression of incompleteness, of need for the real solution. So my working hypothesis will be "writer's error". Purely personal impression, though.

The sun's position?

Those are a lot of assumptions. ;)Kind of the problem that has plagued Mel - which justifies the scrutiny this vision is getting. The vision is important in the context of the events occurring with Jon and the decisions he makes in ADWD. I don't see why you're downplaying it? 

She was convinced the girl was Arya coming to the Wall and therefore heading North. She never mentions the Sun or anything concerning its position. Lets reiterate she only saw the girl once. In fact, Mel admits she has no idea where this girl is. I think you should consider more carefully the advice Mel gives Mance when they talk of the grey girl. Win over Jon's trust. Finding Arya is key. Her mind was set, biased to a conclusion she desperately wants to play out. The grey girl riding North. 

But like another poster said, the irony is she got the right girl (Alys is the red herring) but she got the place and time wrong. It's the Gods Eye to the west of the grey girl, which means she is heading South. The question is, what impact will that have? What is Arya doing near the Gods Eye? Escaping from whom? @chrisdawgave one options that is very interesting. 

Edited by DutchArya

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On ‎3‎/‎17‎/‎2017 at 10:47 PM, Illyrio Mo'Parties said:

Figured this deserved its own thread.

-- Melisandre I, A Dance with Dragons

Later on Alys Karstark turns up on a dying horse, and we realise that Mel was wrong: her vision was correct, but not her interpretation. She saw Alys Karstark riding for the Wall, not Arya.

Except that ain't true either. Consider:

Alys and Mance never ran into each other, or at least, neither of them have said as much. We all assume it's because Mance never bothered looking, and just went straight to Winterfell - but what if he did look, and just didn't find any trace of this girl?

And of course, he wouldn't find any trace of her. Mance was heading due south and searching around the east side of Long Lake. But look at a map of the North: Karhold is way east of Long Lake. If Alys traveled to Castle Black by way of Long Lake, she'd be doubling the length of her journey - a perilous journey made on a single horse with as much food as she can carry.

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The whole thing is based on a chain of faulty assumptions. Melisandre knows (I think) that Arya is getting married to Ramsay, so when she sees this girl riding a horse, she thinks it's Arya. From that, she assumes the direction. With the direction and rough location being assumed, Mance deduces Long Lake.

But if it ain't Arya, why should we assume any of the other details are correct? Is it really Long Lake? Is it really the North? Is she really heading north?

I believe that rather being a girl riding north on the east side of Long Lake, it's a girl riding south on the west side of the God's Eye, some time in the future when winter has reached that far south. And who is the girl? We don't know... but wouldn't it be a delicious irony if it turned out to actually be Arya?

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That's all. Oh, and there does exist the possibility that Alys fled from the Karstark contingent that was heading to Stannis, and was therefore south of Long Lake when she ran, but I don't think so.

Apologies for raggediness. I'm tired.

Perhaps the identity of the girl on the grey horse is immaterial only the goal matters . The manipulation of one Jon Snow . Jon has two sisters . When Jon lived at Winterfell there were other girls present there Jeyne Poole and Beth Cassel .it could have been any of them as far as Melisandre knows . The girl on the grey horse got Jon deeper and deeper into the war of the Five Kings on Stan the man side ,until the King's Council had plans to assassinate him.

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Question... so we now have a fAlys who is in truth Arya, who is now Mrs Thenn? :huh:

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Posted (edited)

39 minutes ago, BRANDON GREYSTARK said:

Perhaps the identity of the girl on the grey horse is immaterial only the goal matters . The manipulation of one Jon Snow . Jon has two sisters . When Jon lived at Winterfell there were other girls present there Jeyne Poole and Beth Cassel .it could have been any of them as far as Melisandre knows . The girl on the grey horse got Jon deeper and deeper into the war of the Five Kings on Stan the man side ,until the King's Council had plans to assassinate him.

It's important if the vision is interpreted incorrectly. If the end goal was getting Jon to think Arya was on her way to the Wall - George could have found another way of getting that info to him. He wouldn't waste time with all that detail for it to not matter.

Would Jeyne, Beth, or Sansa know the terrain (if it is the Gods Eye) be tavelling alone (highly unlikely) have any idea where they are going and how to avoid getting caught? We have textual evidence of Arya getting this instruction over and over again. We see her horseriding through Hills, fields, trees, and even has the hooves of her horse creating sparks on stones as she rides trying to escape her captors - all in one scene. 

It defintely will matter later on if the girl is Arya travelling along the Gods Eye escaping some threat or trying to get somewhere very important. 

Edited by DutchArya

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May I put in another possibility? The girl is actually Arya, but she's fleeing from the Dreadford, where she went to kill some Boltons. So the location east of Long Lake is correct. Since Ramsay basically is her husband, in a similarly dubious way as Asha is married to fat old Lord whathisname, she would actually be fleeing from a marriage (regardless of whether she just killed her darling husband or not). 

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I think it's interesting. GRRM certainly went into a significant amount of detail in that scene. But at the moment I can't really see the point of it if it is for something in the future. To put this sort of stuff in it has to mean something. At the moment if it was Alys, it shows us that Mel can see things right and still get it wrong. What does it mean if it just shows the same thing again? If the real Arya rides past a body of water on a dying horse, so what? It's possible we are missing something but at the moment I can't see it.

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Posted (edited)

26 minutes ago, Makk said:

I think it's interesting. GRRM certainly went into a significant amount of detail in that scene. But at the moment I can't really see the point of it if it is for something in the future. To put this sort of stuff in it has to mean something. At the moment if it was Alys, it shows us that Mel can see things right and still get it wrong. What does it mean if it just shows the same thing again? If the real Arya rides past a body of water on a dying horse, so what? It's possible we are missing something but at the moment I can't see it.

Mel isn't correct because of her continued failure of objectivity has her believing Alys is the grey girl who came North. Based on false assumptions leading to the wrong girl. This further highlights Mel's weakness (even when she is close to being right) applying her subjective slant in order to manipulate someone (Jon) she is trying to win over. Mel hasn't changed and she has been fooled again. The obvious red herring in Alys has the readers fooled as well. 

What we're lacking is context to make sense of the scene. Why is Arya on a weak dying horse? Does that hint to the distance she has travelled or is the horse wounded? What is she doing alone and who is she running from? Mel assumes she is "Arya Stark who is married to Ramsay Bolton" so she naturally adds her conjecture that she is "running from a marriage" and riding North for Jon's protection. Could the real Arya be running away from an unwanted marriage like her fated aunt Lyanna? Or in the manner suggested by @chrisdaw or @Manderly's Rat Cook. Or something less obvious and more symbolic as @ravenous readerrelated her broken "marriage" to the Faceless Men order. 

It's fun speculate!

This is just so blatant ;)

Arya’s description of the surrounding area of the Gods Eye Lake:

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Every day they marched, and every night she said her names, until finally the trees thinned and gave way to a patchwork landscape of rolling hills, meandering streams, and sunlit fields, where the husks of burnt holdfasts (villages) thrust up black as rotten teeth. It was another long day’s march before they glimpsed the towers of Harrenhal in the distance, hard beside the blue waters of the (Gods Eye) lake. — ARYA VI, A CLASH OF KINGS

 

Edited by DutchArya

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Again, it's just SO much more ironic and tragic if the girl is Shireen or Mel herself than if it's Arya. But I'm enjoying the discussion.

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