Lost Melnibonean

Littlefinger hired a Faceless Man to kill the Ned

107 posts in this topic

I went to post this...

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And the truth of Jon Arryn's death still eluded him. Oh, he had found a few pieces, enough to convince him that Jon had indeed been murdered, but that was no more than the spoor of an animal on the forest floor. He had not sighted the beast itself yet, though he sensed it was there, lurking, hidden, treacherous.

...in my old thread here, but I see that it was archived. Since we find out at the end of Storm that Petyr was the big bad behind the murder of Jon Arryn, and since we know that maneuvered House Stark onto death and ruin, the author is comparing Petyr to the beast, actually to the shadow of the beast unseen, in the passage above. And even though Eddard is hunting the beast, the imagery at the end suggests that it's the other way round. And that suggests that Perry was the shadow of the looming giant. 

Here's the OP from the old thread...

I started this theory by asking why a Faceless Man was in chains on the way to the Wall. After he was released by Arya, and then paying her debt to the Red God he moved on. He did not continue on to help Arya, and he did not continue on to the Wall.

As I continued working on this theory I discovered a partially translated interview with The George from a Spanish site, which suggested that Syrio and the FM were exactly as they appeared with no detailed back stories. Apparently the two characters were nothing more than plot devices to advance the development of Arya. The interview was discussed on this forum in August 2012. Still, it seemed too odd to have a character like the Faceless Man who paid Arya’s debt just sitting in the Black Cells with no back story. Hell, even Rorge and Biter had a backstory. (ETA, and while the interview foreclosed any additional backstory as to Syrio, it did not explicitly foreclose an as yet unrevealed back story as to the faceless man that paid Arya’s debt.) 

So, I do not believe a Faceless Man was simply caught and thrown into the Black Cells. I assume that he was there for a reason other than to serve as a plot device to advance the development of Arya.

But his early narrative purpose apparently ended after he was in chains and bound for the Wall, and the only relevant plot twist was Eddard’s execution ordered by Joffrey, which caught all of the characters, except maybe Petyr, Illyn, and Janos, by surprise. Eddard’s taking the Black was a perfect solution for Cersei and Varys but not for Petyr, as discussed below.

We know Petyr complained about the cost of hiring a Faceless Man, and we know he had access to the Black Cells, but it was reevaluating the vision induced by Bloodraven when he first appeared to Bran as the three-eyed crow that convinced me. Bran saw three shadows threatening his father and sisters. The first two were clearly Sandor and Jaime. The third proved to be more enigmatic. . .

Over them both loomed a giant in armor made of stone, but when he opened his visor, there was nothing inside but darkness and thick black blood.

Most readers assumed that the third was Gregor. His transformation in the Black Cells supported that conclusion.

But other readers settled on Petyr after learning about the sigil of House Baelish. Although Petyr was a small man who adopted the mockingbird as his personal sigil, the sigil of his house was the stone head of the Titan of Braavos.

The device painted on the shield was one Sansa did not know; a grey stone head with fiery eyes, upon a light green field. “My grandfather’s shield,” Petyr explained when he saw her gazing at it. “His own father was born in Braavos and came to the Vale as a sellsword in the hire of Lord Corbray, so my grandfather took the head of the Titan as his sigil when he was knighted.”

This interpretation of Petyr as a giant tied in to the presumption that the Ghost of High Heart foresaw Sansa slaying Petyr, the savage giant.

Moreover, Petyr proved to be a much graver threat to Bran’s father and sisters than either Sandor or Jaime, both of whom eventually attempted to aid the Stark girls, and when the Hound and the Kingslayer faced each other during the Hand’s tourney Littlefinger sat above them in the viewing stands wagering on the outcome, or looming over them.

Most important though, the third shadow envisioned by Bran was faceless, and when Eddard first met Petyr, Littlefinger told him in jest. . .

“I’m leading you to the dungeons to slit your throat and seal your corpse up behind a wall,” Littlefinger replied, his voice dripping with sarcasm.

Perhaps he was. Perhaps he expected Eddard to be outmaneuvered by the Lannisters (with his help of course), and to end up disgraced in the dungeons where a Faceless Man would assassinate him and seal his corpse behind a wall, never to return to the crypts at Winterfell. What better way to avenge oneself against a Stark? For a moment, Tyrion thought Varys intended such a fate for him. . .

“Maegor the Cruel decreed four levels of dungeons for his castle,” Varys replied. “On the upper level, there are large cells where common criminals may be confined together. They have narrow windows set high in the walls. The second level has the smaller cells where highborn captives are held. They have no windows, but torches in the halls cast light through the bars. On the third level the cells are smaller and the doors are wood. The black cells, men call them. That was where you were kept, and Eddard Stark before you. But there is a level lower still. Once a man is taken down to the fourth level, he never sees the sun again, nor hears a human voice, nor breathes a breath free of agonizing pain. Maegor had the cells on the fourth level built for torment.” They had reached the bottom of the steps. An unlighted door opened before them. “This is the fourth level. Give me your hand, my lord. It is safer to walk in darkness here. There are things you would not wish to see.”

Tyrion hung back a moment. Varys had already betrayed him once. Who knew what game the eunuch was playing? And what better place to murder a man than down in the darkness, in a place that no one knew existed? His body might never be found.

Petyr could have hired the Faceless Man after Lysa poisoned Jon but before Catelyn arrived in King's Landing. Lysa had been secretly in love with Petyr for years. Petyr used that affection to rise under Jon to Master of Coin and to move from Gulltown to King’s Landing six years before Jon’s death. Petyr convinced Lysa to poison her husband to prevent Jon from sending her son to foster at Dragonstone and to clear the way for Lysa to wed Petyr eventually. Lysa poisoned Jon with the tears of Lys.

Ironically, very soon after Jon’s death, Robert agreed to allow Tywin to foster young Robert Arryn. Lysa, who lived almost exclusively for her sickly son, fled King’s Landing for the Eyrie the following day with her son in tow. Since Lysa was already at, or on her way to, the Eyrie when the Starks received word of Jon’s death, she probably fled King’s Landing very soon thereafter.

Petyr then had Lysa send a secret message to her sister, accusing the Lannisters of murdering her husband. Petyr persuaded Lysa to send the message to her sister to turn the discord between the Lannisters and Starks into open animosity and possible bloodshed to foment a chaotic environment to his advantage.

The most likely timeline allowed for a five-to-six-month period between the death of Jon and the arrival of Catelyn in King’s Landing. Perhaps Petyr traveled to the Eyrie shortly after Lysa fled. Perhaps that was when he convinced her to send the secret message. But his absence from court would have been noticed. Perhaps he let it be known that, as Master of Coin, he needed to travel to Braavos to meet with agents or principals of the Iron Bank and perhaps he actually did, stopping in Gulltown on the way and meeting secretly with Lysa at the Eyrie to convince her to write the secret message. And perhaps he also met with the Kindly Man at the House of Black and White. He would have had plenty of time to travel by ship, perhaps the Titan’s Daughter, to Gulltown, with a detour to the Eyrie, and on to Braavos and back to Kings Landing.

While hiring a Faceless Man was the most expensive method of killing his nemesis, it was also the surest as Petyr pointed out when he told Eddard that he had saved Daenerys by talking the council out of hiring a Faceless Man. Petyr had learned a sharp lesson fighting Eddard’s brother. A lesson reinforced when The Ned put a dagger to his throat on the way to meet Catelyn in a brothel. If Petyr had tried to pull a dagger in the dark, the Ned would have kicked his ass. Petyr had to play by different rules. When Eddard first met Petyr, Littlefinger told The Ned that he was growing old and slow even as Petyr appeared more nimble, at least at sneaking around the castle and at court intrigue. And while Petyr took risks he played to win by any means necessary.

ETA

Black blood symbolizes death, because blood appears black after death.

I failed you, Robert, Ned thought. He could not say the words. I lied to you, hid the truth. I let them kill you.

The king heard him. "You stiff-necked fool," he muttered, "too proud to listen. Can you eat pride, Stark? Will honor shield your children?" Cracks ran down his face, fissures opening in the flesh, and he reached up and ripped the mask away. It was not Robert at all; it was Littlefinger, grinning, mocking him. When he opened his mouth to speak, his lies turned to pale grey moths and took wing.

In addition to the oft-observed moth-attracted-to-fire symbolism, which really doesn't apply here, the moth symbolizes corruption, decay, and death. 

With that line from the black cells, The George is showing us that LF's corruption and lies will lead to the Ned's death. It's another hint that Petyr was the instigator behind Joffrey's order for the Ned's execution.

Death comes out of Petyr's mouth, like the thick black blood behind the giant's visor.

Edited by Lost Melnibonean

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Excellent stuff here!  I do not believe it simply because I believe there were simpler means with equally high probabilities of success of having Eddard killed if LF really wanted him too, but I can see why this theory has some traction.  I subscribe to the theory that LF actually would have preferred if Ned and Robert cleared the court of the Lannisters by war, and thereby used his role in the matter as another means to step higher up the ladder, but pivoted to the Lannisters after Robert died / Ned chose Stannis (who LF definitely had no chance rising under) and Catelyn had released Tyrion.  Still, I very much enjoyed your post.  LF is such a sarcastic self amused prick it is hard to know what truths he is telling amongst his lies and japes!

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@Lost Melnibonean, you've set out a nice table with all the trimmings here.  No one can argue that at least 1 Faceless Man was in the Black Cells.  Much is made of Jaqen Hagar's presence at Kings Landing.  What are the alternatives to killing Ned Stark?  Robert? Dead.  Cersei? Who could imagine her later power grabs?  Jon Arryn is dead.   Robert would be far too easy to kill on a hunting trip.   Ask Randyll Tarly about that.   Cersei is almost inconsequential in AGOT.   Jon Arryn is dead.   Due to the cost of involving the Faceless Men I can't imagine anyone but Ned would have been a target.  The Lannisters are too proud of their cleverness to hire a hit man.   The Tyrells had no reason to want anyone in power gone that badly.  Who else has that kind of money but for the Master of Coin who hid his theft so well for so long?   Money isn't always the bottom line in hiring the Faceless Men...which leads me to wonder what else Petyr Baelish might have paid with?  Rare books, perhaps?  Dragon skulls?  Something we don't yet know about?   The Targaryans are only 2 decades removed from their power.   There are no doubt lots of things at the Red Keep the Faceless Men would be interested in.  

Really nice can of worms to open, Lost Melnibonean!  

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14 minutes ago, Curled Finger said:

@Lost Melnibonean, you've set out a nice table with all the trimmings here.  No one can argue that at least 1 Faceless Man was in the Black Cells.  Much is made of Jaqen Hagar's presence at Kings Landing.  What are the alternatives to killing Ned Stark?  Robert? Dead.  Cersei? Who could imagine her later power grabs?  Jon Arryn is dead.   Robert would be far too easy to kill on a hunting trip.   Ask Randyll Tarly about that.   Cersei is almost inconsequential in AGOT.   Jon Arryn is dead.   Due to the cost of involving the Faceless Men I can't imagine anyone but Ned would have been a target.  The Lannisters are too proud of their cleverness to hire a hit man.   The Tyrells had no reason to want anyone in power gone that badly.  Who else has that kind of money but for the Master of Coin who hid his theft so well for so long?   Money isn't always the bottom line in hiring the Faceless Men...which leads me to wonder what else Petyr Baelish might have paid with?  Rare books, perhaps?  Dragon skulls?  Something we don't yet know about?   The Targaryans are only 2 decades removed from their power.   There are no doubt lots of things at the Red Keep the Faceless Men would be interested in.  

Really nice can of worms to open, Lost Melnibonean!  

No one?

What about LF arch enemy? varys!

I don t believe LF wouldn t find a way to poison ned for exemple. Besides wasn t him that saved ned from jamie?

On the other hand how would anyone kill varys? He would know about anyone trying to kill him the moment the contract is made. So LF would need a faceless man that varys wouldn t see coming because they change faces! 

And jaquen ended in the prison because varys could identify him but didn t want to kill him to avoid further problems. Besides, by not killing jaquen varys is owed a life and he would chose his. Therefore he is now safe. Or the faceless man in oldtown is after a glass lamp to find out where varys is and kill him.

How about this for crackpot?

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2 hours ago, divica said:

No one?

What about LF arch enemy? varys!

I don t believe LF wouldn t find a way to poison ned for exemple. Besides wasn t him that saved ned from jamie?

On the other hand how would anyone kill varys? He would know about anyone trying to kill him the moment the contract is made. So LF would need a faceless man that varys wouldn t see coming because they change faces! 

And jaquen ended in the prison because varys could identify him but didn t want to kill him to avoid further problems. Besides, by not killing jaquen varys is owed a life and he would chose his. Therefore he is now safe. Or the faceless man in oldtown is after a glass lamp to find out where varys is and kill him.

How about this for crackpot?

Ah Ha, very good divica!  I seem to be on a pun roll today.   I didn't think anyone would notice, but there you are.   Just for fun, Seams has a brand new topic regarding armor out and I got to use the word "suitable".   Let's see if she catches it.  

That was some fun crack pot.  Still, I don't think it's unlikely that frickin Little Finger was behind bringing a Faceless Man to Kings Landing.  The references @Lost Melnibonean makes in the OP about the Baelish sigil before it became a mocking bird are pretty strong connections.  I guess if Varys has access to Illyrio's immense wealth he could enlist a big time hit man.   

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11 hours ago, Lost Melnibonean said:

 

As I continued working on this theory I discovered a partially translated interview with The George from a Spanish sitee played to win by any means necessary.

Could you provide the spanish site web adress?

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5 minutes ago, King Merrett I Frey said:

Could you provide the spanish site web adress?

Start here

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Who turns out to be the greatest threat to the Vale?

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"The clans have grown bolder since Lord Jon died," Ser Donnel said. He was a stocky youth of twenty years, earnest and homely, with a wide nose and a shock of thick brown hair. "If it were up to me, I would take a hundred men into the mountains, root them out of their fastnesses, and teach them some sharp lessons, but your sister has forbidden it. She would not even permit her knights to fight in the Hand's tourney. She wants all our swords kept close to home, to defend the Vale . . . against what, no one is certain. Shadows, some say."

Catelyn VI, Game 34

Petyr has instigated the murder of the Lord of the Eyrie and Protector of the Vale. He has usurped the authority of the Vale's great lords, and he appears to be poisoning the current young Lord of the Eyrie. The Vale does need protection against his shadow. 

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So, Littlefinger hired the unbelievably expensive (what would be the price for the Hand of the King? could Littlefinger even afford that?), and seriously competent, assassin. Who failed to deliver, but Littlefinger did the job himself anyway. I don't find that solution any more satisfying, better designed and built, than the standard "some random Faceless Man, who happened to inhabit the Black Cells for a reason not worth mentioning".

10 hours ago, Curled Finger said:

@Lost Melnibonean, you've set out a nice table with all the trimmings here.  No one can argue that at least 1 Faceless Man was in the Black Cells.  Much is made of Jaqen Hagar's presence at Kings Landing.  What are the alternatives to killing Ned Stark?  Robert? Dead.  Cersei? Who could imagine her later power grabs?  Jon Arryn is dead.

A local loan shark. A lordling, who had disgraced the daughter of some affluent merchant.

The Faceless Men aren't for crowned heads only. And it's easier to explain (OK, handwave away), how someone could afford the hit on the third son of Lord of Little Shit Pit, than on the Hand of the King, Lord of Winterfell, the Warden of the North, Lord Stark.

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5 minutes ago, Ferocious Veldt Roarer said:

So, Littlefinger hired the unbelievably expensive (what would be the price for the Hand of the King? could Littlefinger even afford that?), and seriously competent, assassin. Who failed to deliver, but Littlefinger did the job himself anyway. I don't find that solution any more satisfying, better designed and built, than the standard "some random Faceless Man, who happened to inhabit the Black Cells for a reason not worth mentioning".

A local loan shark. A lordling, who had disgraced the daughter of some affluent merchant.

The Faceless Men aren't for crowned heads only. And it's easier to explain (OK, handwave away), how someone could afford the hit on the third son of Lord of Little Shit Pit, than on the Hand of the King, Lord of Winterfell, the Warden of the North, Lord Stark.

The rational and serious side of me agrees entirely with your arguments.   Still our OP has offered a circumstance I consider to be plausible which appeals to my imaginative side.  I think frickin Little Finger has more money than anyone suspects.   Remember when we meet him the crown is 6 million stags in debt.   I think he's been swinging with the crown's cash flow.   Remember, he's been working for years toward his goals.    He may have had nothing to do with the Faceless Man in King's Landing, but our OP delivers what I consider a satisfying explanation.   

The only other plausible target I can come up with for a hit is Tywin.  I stop short of throwing in there because Tywin was in the Westerlands for the better part so that idea doesn't really gel.  I've read that the FM sent an agent to recruit Arya.  This stretches credulity.  How could they even know about this little girl who hasn't shown any particular ability?  Yes, in reading my own reply here I see that I am rather stuck on people in positions of great power being the target of a hit when it could easily have been some no one of consequence.  Could be our FM did complete his hit and that's why he's in the Black Cells.   As you say, we are oh so conveniently told nothing of his crime.   Then again, he may not have killed anyone and his mission was to gather intel.   

Until we are told what Jaqen was doing in Kings Landing all we can do is speculate.   @Lost Melnibonean's speculation is the most satisfying I've yet read.    I doubt he or I are married to the idea--it's just an idea!  

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It is curious that a faceless man was captured and locked up in King's Landing or was he there on purpose to get into the cells? There is also no doubt that Littlefinger not just wanted Ned dead but after he betrayed him with the dagger and the Gold Cloaks, he NEEDED him dead, otherwise, if he took the Black, there was nothing to stop Ned from spilling the beans to an extent regarding Littlefinger without jeopardizing his hostage daughter Sansa. Littlefinger needed Ned dead and gone before he could run his mouth to people, like say that live in the Vale and of course back in the North.

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You lay out the theory nicely, but two things prevent me from getting on board.

1st is that I see no reason for any sort of unseen conspiracy going on.  We know the FM gather information so it makes sense someone would have been in KL.  As another posted pointed out there is also no reason he could not have been there for anyone else in KL. 

We also know the FM make mistakes, and anyone can get unlucky.  Police have a phrase that they only have to get lucky once to catch someone.  In Sams last chapter of Feast we see "the alchemist/fake Pate" make a mistake when he introduces himself as "Pate, like the pig boy"  We learned in the prologue that Pate hated that story and would never have said that.

2nd is the cost.  It seems to me you have to pay upfront, and the cost seems to be based both on the target and the wealth of the individual.  The story of the waif was half of all a lords wealth, plus his oldest child.  That was for the lords own wife, meaning the assassin is almost guaranteed no one will be making a huge effort to find him afterwards.  The cost would have to be much higher for the hand of the king.  LF did not give up his lordship, his brothels, to our knowledge he had no children, it just doesn't seem like he paid anything.

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I enjoyed the debate on this one back in 2013, so I am going to do some cutting and pasting from the old thread. 

So far, we don't have anybody challenging motive, do we? That was a point of contention three to four years ago. Petyr surely had motive to whack Eddard, but I will concede that Petyr might have entertained entering into an accord (with bad faith, of course) with Eddard when the sh!# was about to hit the fan. 

As to the expense...

Keep in mind that we first learned how expensive the faceless men are from Petyr. That at least allows for the argument that he had knowledge of their fees. 

And I believe there are several obvious hints that Petyr was loaded, and there are enough subtle hints of Petyr's graft to fuel several threads on the topic in this forum (although I haven't seen one in a while). 

Anybody can hire a faceless man to give the gift. The faceless men are not in it for the money. But they do demand a pound of flesh. Of course they would have charged Petyr a fortune to assassinate the Hand of the King but Petyr had surely become extremely wealthy. 

As to the job getting done anyway...

Keep in mind that while Petyr could predict that he would be able to outmaneuver Eddard, he could not have predicted that he would be in a position to persuade a future King Joffrey to lop of the Ned's head. 

As Petyr explained to Eddard, right after the George had Petyr tell us how expensive the faceless men are, the faceless men were the surest way to have someone killed. Petyr learned a sharp lesson fighting Eddard’s brother. A lesson reinforced when Eddard put a dagger to his throat on the way to meet Catelyn in a brothel. If Petyr had tried to pull a dagger in the dark, Eddard could have kicked his ass. If Petyr had tried to turn one of Eddard's trusted inner circle, as he did with Jon Arryn, he might have been exposed. Petyr had to play by different rules. And while Petyr takes risks he plays to win by any means necessary. Having Dontos lead Lord Eddard Stark into an ambush by the likes of Lharys, Mohor, and Kurleket would not have been the best way to assassinate him. The surest way to kill someone in ASOIAF is to hire a faceless man to do it.

I submit that hiring the faceless man was THE plan. It would have been executed (get it?) if Joffrey hadn't ordered Illyn to chop off the Ned's head, but that rendered THE plan moot. 

There were too many variables. Petyr never met Eddard before Eddard came to King’s Landing. All he knew was the man's reputation. Petyr had no way of knowing that the Lannisters would bungle into trying to kill Bran (heck, the Lannisters didn't even know it), and that was what gave Petyr the chance to build trust with Catelyn. Petyr was not a fighter; Ned was. Petyr would wave known that Eddard walked away after a fight with the Sword of the Morning. He could not have hoped to corner Ned in some dark alley and stabbed him in the back. Eddard would have kicked Petyr's ass. Nor could he rely on hired fighters since killing Robert's Hand and dearest friend would have earned a date with Illyn. Petyr had no way of knowing that Catelyn would kidnap Tyrion, sending the hot-headed Kingslayer into a foolish fight with Eddard, which would leave Eddard badly injured.

Petyr did plan to manipulate Eddard into a confrontation with House Lannister by slowly leading Eddard to the truth of the twincest. But Petyr had no way of knowing that Eddard would take his discovery to Cercei before telling his friend Robert. What if Eddard had called on Stannis sooner and/or made common cause with Renly? What if Robert had not gone hunting? What if Eddard had put two and two together more quickly?

Petyr operates smoothly among chaos but chaos, by definition, can't be controlled. 

If Petyr wanted the Ned dead and planned it before the Ned came to court the best way to ensure it was to hire a faceless man. He had the means and the ability to do so. That he did is hinted at in the text. And this would explain Bran's vision and the purpose of the faceless man that paid Arya's debt to the Red God.

And don't give Petyr too much credit...

Nobody had such control of the game that they could get guaranteed, specific outcomes. Go back to the time of Jon Arryn's death and think about what outcomes were sure to happen from Petyr's perspective. Catelyn’s visit to King’s Landing was a surprise to Petyr and Varys. Apparently, neither knew the reason for Catelyn’s visit; nor did either know that Catelyn's hands had been cut. After his little birds observed Rodrik’s meeting with Aron Santagar in the Red Keep to discuss the dagger wielded by Bran’s would be assassin, Varys knew that she had arrived with Rodrik, carrying a dagger, and wishing to learn who owned it. Petyr was not aware of the dagger until Varys asked to see it. Apparently thinking on his feet, Petyr claimed that he lost the blade to Tyrion Lannister when he backed the Kingslayer in a tourney and Tyrion backed Loras. Littlefinger used his first encounter with Catelyn in King’s Landing to cast further suspicion on the Lannisters and to gain Catelyn's trust. He continued to gain Catelyn’s trust by informing her as to the events her family endured on the road around the Trident. After Eddard arrived in King’s Landing, Petyr told the Starks that he wanted to keep the Lannisters from learning of Catelyn's visit and Catelyn trusted Petyr enough to tell him all of the relevant details and everything the Starks suspected regarding Bran’s injury and Lord Jon’s death. Catelyn, fully trusting in Petyr's pretended friendship, convinced Eddard to rely on Littlefinger. 

Edited by Lost Melnibonean

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55 minutes ago, aryagonnakill#2 said:

You lay out the theory nicely, but two things prevent me from getting on board.

1st is that I see no reason for any sort of unseen conspiracy going on.  We know the FM gather information so it makes sense someone would have been in KL.  As another posted pointed out there is also no reason he could not have been there for anyone else in KL. 

We also know the FM make mistakes, and anyone can get unlucky.  Police have a phrase that they only have to get lucky once to catch someone.  In Sams last chapter of Feast we see "the alchemist/fake Pate" make a mistake when he introduces himself as "Pate, like the pig boy"  We learned in the prologue that Pate hated that story and would never have said that.

2nd is the cost.  It seems to me you have to pay upfront, and the cost seems to be based both on the target and the wealth of the individual.  The story of the waif was half of all a lords wealth, plus his oldest child.  That was for the lords own wife, meaning the assassin is almost guaranteed no one will be making a huge effort to find him afterwards.  The cost would have to be much higher for the hand of the king.  LF did not give up his lordship, his brothels, to our knowledge he had no children, it just doesn't seem like he paid anything.

We been down this road before :)

http://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php?/topic/89914-littlefinger-hired-a-faceless-man-to-kill-ned/&do=findComment&comment=6980461

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I am adding this to the OP...

Black blood symbolizes death, because blood appears black after death.

I failed you, Robert, Ned thought. He could not say the words. I lied to you, hid the truth. I let them kill you.

The king heard him. "You stiff-necked fool," he muttered, "too proud to listen. Can you eat pride, Stark? Will honor shield your children?" Cracks ran down his face, fissures opening in the flesh, and he reached up and ripped the mask away. It was not Robert at all; it was Littlefinger, grinning, mocking him. When he opened his mouth to speak, his lies turned to pale grey moths and took wing.

In addition to the oft-observed moth-attracted-to-fire symbolism, which really doesn't apply here, the moth symbolizes corruption, decay, and death. 

With that line from the black cells, The George is showing us that LF's corruption and lies will lead to the Ned's death. It's another hint that Petyr was the instigator behind Joffrey's order for the Ned's execution.

Death comes out of Petyr's mouth, like the thick black blood behind the giant's visor.

Edited by Lost Melnibonean

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First, I wanted to point out that there is another possible reason why Syrio had no back story, he was a disguise. The faceless man in the black cells, Jaqen Hagar, was previously disguised as Syrio.

Also, I always came to the conclusion that it was Varys who placed the Faceless man there. He certainly had access. Also, he tells Ned he’s a dead man, then does his best to convince him to take the black and go to the wall for Sansa’s sake. This appears contradictory until you realize there is a faceless man waiting to go with Yoren too.

 

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2 minutes ago, LiveFirstDieLater said:

First, I wanted to point out that there is another possible reason why Syrio had no back story, he was a disguise. The faceless man in the black cells, Jaqen Hagar, was previously disguised as Syrio.

Also, I always came to the conclusion that it was Varys who placed the Faceless man there. He certainly had access. Also, he tells Ned he’s a dead man, then does his best to convince him to take the black and go to the wall for Sansa’s sake. This appears contradictory until you realize there is a faceless man waiting to go with Yoren too.

We have danced this dance before, my friend....

http://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php?/topic/89914-littlefinger-hired-a-faceless-man-to-kill-ned/&do=findComment&comment=7426512

As I argued in the OP, the only logical target I can see is Eddard. Petyr clearly has a motive, but does Varys? No, I think Varys wants Eddard alive. Long before Game starts, Varys has been keeping tabs on Robert’s bastards about the realm. When the time comes, he intends to step out of Cersei's way so that she can off Robert. Then Varys can initiate a succession crisis, in part, by parading the batards before the realm, especially to enimies of the Lannisters. Under the Red Keep, Arya overhears Illyrio suggest to Varys to recruit Eddard to their cause aggressively. After Cersei's purge, Varys negotiates a way for Eddard to live. But Petyr outmaneuvers Varys and influences Joffrey to take the Ned’s head. 

This...

Quote

“Lord Eddard gave me pick o’ the dungeons, and I didn’t find no little lordlings down there."

...should be read I'm context with this...

Quote

“Rugen,” the old man supplied. “An undergaoler. He had charge of the third level, the black cells.”

Tell me of him,” Jaime had to say. A bloody farce. He knew who Rugen was, even if Longwaters did not.

“Unkempt, unshaven, coarse of speech. I misliked the man, ’tis true, I do confess it. Rugen was here when I first came, twelve years past. He held his appointment from King Aerys. The man was seldom here, it must be said. I made note of it in my reports, my lord. I most suredly did, I give you my word upon it, the word of a man with royal blood.”

Mention that royal blood once more and I may spill some of it, thought Jaime. “Who saw these reports?”

“Certain of them went to themaster of coin, others to the master of whisperers. All to the chief gaoler and the King’s Justice. It has always been so in the dungeons.” Longwaters scratched his nose. “Rugen was here when need be, my lord. That must be said. The black cells are little used. Before your lordship’s little brother was sent down, we had Grand Maester Pycelle for a time, and before him Lord Stark the traitor. There were three others, common men, but Lord Stark gave them to the Night’s Watch. I did not think it good to free those three, but the papers were in proper order.I made note of that in a report as well, you may be certain of it.”

...

"The crown pays wages for twenty turnkeys, my lord, a full score, but during my time we have never had more than twelve. We are supposed to have six undergaolers as well, two on each level, but there are only the three.”

So, the master of coin had some sway over the dungeons, and we see Petyr was using his influence for graft. 

Now, we see that Rennifer believed Jaqen, Rorge and Biter were too dangerous to release. So, should we believe that Lord Eddard told Rennifer not to be a wuss? Or perhaps the reason the storyteller points out that the papers were in order, was to show us that somebody else prepared the papers? Rennifer gives us three possibilities: Illyn is not a player. As discussed upthread, I don't believe Varys had the motive. But Petyr ... well, I say he's the one. 

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2 hours ago, A Ghost of Someone said:

It is curious that a faceless man was captured and locked up in King's Landing or was he there on purpose to get into the cells? There is also no doubt that Littlefinger not just wanted Ned dead but after he betrayed him with the dagger and the Gold Cloaks, he NEEDED him dead, otherwise, if he took the Black, there was nothing to stop Ned from spilling the beans to an extent regarding Littlefinger without jeopardizing his hostage daughter Sansa. Littlefinger needed Ned dead and gone before he could run his mouth to people, like say that live in the Vale and of course back in the North.

That is a very valid point. Ned was doomed since the very beginning. But what if Joffrey didn't take the hint at executing Ned, what if someone came up with something to dissuade him? It was not a 100% certain that Ned would die that day, so what then? Arrange an assassination or an ambush along the way. And while you don't need an insider to do so, it is the safest way if the death is travelling along. Especially when Eddard's injury was not healing well (which I think would have killed him, anyway, and Pycelle might have had a hand in that just like with Jon Arryn).

The problem is: was the FM really waiting in the Black Cells the whole time, ever since before Yoren was allowed to recruit there? Or was there, at some point, a real Lorathi who was disposed of so that the FM could impersonate him, once it was decided that Ned would be sent to the Wall? Or did Yoren recruit more than once? Say, he took Rorge and Biter, and when he came to colect them, the jailor offered him a new guy? I don't recall if  the number of prisoners he recruited is mentioned anywhere.

Is it possible to hire a FM and keep him waiting until an opportunity presents itself?

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12 minutes ago, Lost Melnibonean said:

Haha yes we have!

12 minutes ago, Lost Melnibonean said:

As I argued in the OP, the only logical target I can see is Eddard.

I agree.

12 minutes ago, Lost Melnibonean said:

Petyr clearly has a motive, but does Varys? No, I think Varys wants Eddard alive.

Oh, on that I disagree...

12 minutes ago, Lost Melnibonean said:

Long before Game starts, Varys has been keeping tabs on Robert’s bastards about the realm. When the time comes, he intends to step out of Cersei's way so that she can off Robert. Then Varys can initiate a succession crisis, in part, by parading the batards before the realm, especially to enimies of the Lannisters.

And when a Dothraki horde invades the realm he can bring forward Aegon, positioned to be savior...

12 minutes ago, Lost Melnibonean said:

Under the Red Keep, Arya overhears Illyrio suggest to Varys to recruit Eddard to their cause aggressively. After Cersei's purge, Varys negotiates a way for Eddard to live. But Petyr outmaneuvers Varys and influences Joffrey to take the Ned’s head. 

Wait wait wait... he singles Ned out as a threat!

Quote

Yet Lord Stark's the one who troubles my sleep. He has the bastard, he has the book, and soon enough he'll have the truth. And now his wife has abducted Tyrion Lannister, thanks to Littlefinger's meddling. Lord Tywin will take that for an outrage, and Jaime has a queer affection for the Imp. If the Lannisters move north, that will bring the Tullys in as well. Delay, you say. Make haste, I reply. Even the finest of jugglers cannot keep a hundred balls in the air forever."

Of everyone Varys is scared of Ned. 

Varys is responsible for talking Cersei and Ned into accepting the take the black deal.

He has access to the Black cells, and was surprised by Ned’s beheading.

 

12 minutes ago, Lost Melnibonean said:

This...

...should be read I'm context with this...

So, the master of coin had some sway over the dungeons, and we see Petyr was using his influence for graft. 

Now, we see that Rennifer believed Jaqen, Rorge and Biter were too dangerous to release. So, should we believe that Lord Eddard told Rennifer not to be a wuss? Or perhaps the reason the storyteller points out that the papers were in order, was to show us that somebody else prepared the papers? Rennifer gives us three possibilities: Illyn is not a player. As discussed upthread, I don't believe Varys had the motive. But Petyr ... well, I say he's the one. 

I think Varys has motive as shown above, and since Rorge and Biter were dangerous enough to warrant caution, and we’re talking about a Faceless man, there is no reason to believe the faceless man wasn’t put in the cell after Ned gave the order for them to go with Yoren.

In fact that makes way more sense, that the faceless man switched in because they were given to the Night’s Watch, not the other way around.

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8 minutes ago, Ygrain said:

 

That is a very valid point. Ned was doomed since the very beginning. But what if Joffrey didn't take the hint at executing Ned, what if someone came up with something to dissuade him? It was not a 100% certain that Ned would die that day, so what then? Arrange an assassination or an ambush along the way. And while you don't need an insider to do so, it is the safest way if the death is travelling along. Especially when Eddard's injury was not healing well (which I think would have killed him, anyway, and Pycelle might have had a hand in that just like with Jon Arryn).

The problem is: was the FM really waiting in the Black Cells the whole time, ever since before Yoren was allowed to recruit there? Or was there, at some point, a real Lorathi who was disposed of so that the FM could impersonate him, once it was decided that Ned would be sent to the Wall? Or did Yoren recruit more than once? Say, he took Rorge and Biter, and when he came to colect them, the jailor offered him a new guy? I don't recall if  the number of prisoners he recruited is mentioned anywhere.

Is it possible to hire a FM and keep him waiting until an opportunity presents itself?

Perhaps...

Quote

"Speak the name, and death will come. On the morrow, at the turn of the moon, a year from this day, it will come. A man does not fly like a bird, but one foot moves and then another and one day a man is there, and a [hand of the] king dies." 

Arya IX, Clash 47

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