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Ser Leftwich

Varys and Illyrio under the Red Keep

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""What would you have me do?" asked the torchbearer, a stout man in a leather half cape. Even in heavy boots, his feet seemed to glide soundlessly over the ground. A round scarred face and a stubble of dark beard showed under his steel cap, and he wore mail over boiled leather, and a dirk and shortsword at his belt. It seemed to Arya there was something oddly familiar about him.
"If one Hand can die, why not a second?" replied the man with the accent and the forked yellow beard. "You have danced the dance before, my friend." He was no one Arya had ever seen before, she was certain of it. Grossly fat, yet he seemed to walk lightly, carrying his weight on the balls of his feet as a water dancer might. His rings glimmered in the torchlight, red-gold and pale silver, crusted with rubies, sapphires, slitted yellow tiger eyes. Every finger wore a ring; some had two.
"Before is not now, and this Hand is not the other," the scarred man said as they stepped out into the hall. Still as stone, Arya told herself, quiet as a shadow. Blinded by the blaze of their own torch, they did not see her pressed flat against the stone, only a few feet away."
 
Has consensus built that Illyrio and Varys here are talking about Jon Connington and faking his death? And is at least Illyrio proposing they do the same with Ned?
 
If so, what did Illyrio want to do with Ned?

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Kill him.  Illyrio wanted to kill the wolf.  Ned was in the way.  He could prove an inconvenience.

Know another graceful fat man who is light on his feet?  Strong Belwas.

 

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I always thought they were talking about Jon Arryn there.

Jon Connington was known to be alive long after being dismissed as Hand. They wouldn't refer to him in this way.

I thought it was pretty clear they are contemplating killing Ned to keep the truth about Cersei's children from getting to Robert. At this point in the story at least, we're led to believe that Varys and Illyrio are trying to time the inevitable civil war so that Dany can arrive as a savior rather than a conqueror. I think right before your quotes, Illyrio was saying something about not being ready yet, as in the plans with Dany still need time to bring to fruition.

The realm is a powder keg at this point. The truth about Cersei's kids could have led to war. Likewise, Varys is pointing out that killing Ned to keep the truth hidden could just as easily lead to war.

 

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They were talking about death of Jon Arryn, not Jon Connington. Basically they admitted, that they were involved in Arryn's death. And what they were saying, is that, if they had already offed one King's Hand, then why not to do the same thing again - why not to kill Ned Stark.

Jon Arryn was killed by Lysa and Littlefinger. Though, most likely, LF used to be working for Varys. So Varys was aware, that LF is going to kill Arryn, but didn't prevented it. Because, removing from Small Council someone as capable as Jon Arryn, made it easier for Varys and Illyrio to prepare what they needed to support fAegon. Illyrio was asking Varys to slow down some things, because fAegon and Golden Company were not ready yet. First they needed to resolve that situation with Dany, Viserys, and Dothraki, that were supposed to aid fAegon during his invasion of 7K.

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39 minutes ago, Syl of Syl said:

I always thought they were talking about Jon Arryn there.

Jon Connington was known to be alive long after being dismissed as Hand. They wouldn't refer to him in this way.

It's the line "you have danced this dance before, my friend," that sort of throws the idea that he is talking about Jon Arryn off. 

Varys had nothing to do with Jon Arryn's death, but he had something to do with Jon Connington's.

1 hour ago, Ser Leftwich said:
If so, what did Illyrio want to do with Ned?

If he wanted Ned, then I think the most straight forward answer is that he wanted his voice. Ned is known as an honest and honorable man. Having someone like that on your side can't hurt Aegon's cause.

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14 minutes ago, Alexis-something-Rose said:

It's the line "you have danced this dance before, my friend," that sort of throws the idea that he is talking about Jon Arryn off. 

Varys had nothing to do with Jon Arryn's death, but he had something to do with Jon Connington's.

Very little happens in King's Landing that Varys isn't at least aware of. Varys likely would have been aware that Jon Arryn and Stannis had uncovered the truth about Cersei's kids. Varys would have had the information and Cersei would have had the motive, while Littlefinger had the means. Dancing the dance doesn't have to mean that Varys was the ringleader, simply that he was involved in orchestrating the pieces. The right word in the right place would trigger a series of events ending in Jon Arryn's death. That's the Spider's modus operandi.

It just doesn't make sense to me to connect Jon Connington with Ned. The two situations have very little in common. Varys and Illyrio wanted Connington believed dead so that they could use him for their purposes, while Ned is a problem for what he knows - the same information that got Jon Arryn killed. That's the thread that connects Arryn and Ned Stark in this conversation.

Meanwhile, Jon Connington's fake death was years in the past at this point and took place when he was several years removed from serving as Hand. Furthermore, since Connington, there have been three Hands, all of whom died while serving. If they are talking about the death of a Hand other than the most recent one, why not one of the other two predecessors who were actually Hand when they were killed?

I think the point is that Jon Arryn died to keep a secret buried so that they can maintain the status quo. Illyrio wants to know why Ned can't die for the same reason. Varys rightly concludes that while Ned's death might keep that secret buried, the state of the realm would not maintain as it did in the previous case. They wanted to delay the start of the civil war until they were ready to capitalize on it, but Ned's death exacerbated the situation.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Ser Leftwich said:
""What would you have me do?" asked the torchbearer, a stout man in a leather half cape. Even in heavy boots, his feet seemed to glide soundlessly over the ground. A round scarred face and a stubble of dark beard showed under his steel cap, and he wore mail over boiled leather, and a dirk and shortsword at his belt. It seemed to Arya there was something oddly familiar about him.
"If one Hand can die, why not a second?" replied the man with the accent and the forked yellow beard. "You have danced the dance before, my friend." He was no one Arya had ever seen before, she was certain of it. Grossly fat, yet he seemed to walk lightly, carrying his weight on the balls of his feet as a water dancer might. His rings glimmered in the torchlight, red-gold and pale silver, crusted with rubies, sapphires, slitted yellow tiger eyes. Every finger wore a ring; some had two.
"Before is not now, and this Hand is not the other," the scarred man said as they stepped out into the hall. Still as stone, Arya told herself, quiet as a shadow. Blinded by the blaze of their own torch, they did not see her pressed flat against the stone, only a few feet away."
 
Has consensus built that Illyrio and Varys here are talking about Jon Connington and faking his death? And is at least Illyrio proposing they do the same with Ned?
 
If so, what did Illyrio want to do with Ned?

Consensus, in this forum? 

Here's what I think is going on... In Arya III, Game 32, we see Illyrio, incognito, one more time before we meet him again, much later, with Tyrion in Dance. This is when we learn that Varys is in league with Illyrio.

Quote

" . . . found one bastard," one said. "The rest will come soon. A day, two days, a fortnight . . . "

This tells us that Varys does not want Eddard to discover the truth of the “twincest.”

Quote

"And when he learns the truth, what will he do?" a second voice asked in the liquid accents of the Free Cities.

"The gods alone know," the first voice said. Arya could see a wisp of grey smoke drifting up off the torch, writhing like a snake as it rose. "The fools tried to kill his son, and what's worse, they made a mummer's farce of it. He's not a man to put that aside. I warn you, the wolf and lion will soon be at each other's throats, whether we will it or no."

Here we see that Varys believes that the fools, plural, meaning Cersei, Jaime, and Tyrion, attempted to assassinate Bran. But we learn by the “purple wedding” that it was Joffrey. In any event, we see that Varys has a great deal of respect for Eddard’s fortitude, if not for his cunning.

Quote

"Too soon, too soon," the voice with the accent complained. "What good is war now? We are not ready. Delay."

"As well bid me stop time. Do you take me for a wizard?"

Notice who gives the command: Illyrio, and who follows the order: Varys. Varys is working for Illyrio. 

More to your point...

Quote

The other chuckled. "No less." . . .

"What would you have me do?" asked the torchbearer, a stout man in a leather half cape. . .

"If one Hand can die, why not a second?" replied the man with the accent and the forked yellow beard. "You have danced the dance before, my friend." . . .

"Before is not now, and this Hand is not the other," the scarred man said as they stepped out into the hall. . . .

I love this exchange. When the casual, first-time reader reads this, he understands the Hand in question to be Jon Arryn, and that Varys must have caused Jon Arryn’s death, especially since we just learned that he does not want the new Hand learning about the “twincest,” and we learn as we read, that Jon was killed after learning about the “twincest.” But substitute another Jon, Jon Connington, in for Jon Arryn, and you can see what Illyrio was suggesting: That Varys attempt to co-opt Eddard into their ulterior plot.

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"Perhaps so," the forked beard replied, pausing to catch his breath after the long climb. "Nonetheless, we must have time. The princess is with child. The khal will not bestir himself until his son is born. You know how they are, these savages."

Recall, that Drogo will not aid Viserys until after he presents Daenerys to the dosh khaleen, and then, only “if the omens favor war." Perhaps, this was what the author was hinting at when he had Illyrio tell Viserys that he would have to wait. Perhaps Illyrio understood that the real gift to Drogo was not a Targaryen bride, but a dragonlord heir, the stallion who mounts the world.

Quote

"If he does not bestir himself soon, it may be too late," the stout man in the steel cap said. "This is no longer a game for two players, if ever it was. Stannis Baratheon and Lysa Arryn have fled beyond my reach, and the whispers say they are gathering swords around them. The Knight of Flowers writes Highgarden, urging his lord father to send his sister to court. The girl is a maid of fourteen, sweet and beautiful and tractable, and Lord Renly and Ser Loras intend that Robert should bed her, wed her, and make a new queen. Littlefinger . . . the gods only know what game Littlefinger is playing. 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."

Did you notice that Varys has learned of the “catnapping” before anyone outside of the Inn at the Crossroads? More to the point, though, Varys urges his master to hasten Drogo’s material support of their ulterior plot.

Quote

"You are more than a juggler, old friend. You are a true sorcerer. All I ask is that you work your magic awhile longer." They started down the hall in the direction Arya had come, past the room with the monsters.

"What I can do, I will," the one with the torch said softly.

Again, notice who gives the command, and who follows the order.

Quote

"I must have gold, and another fifty birds."

. . .

"So many?" The voices were fainter as the light dwindled ahead of her. "The ones you need are hard to find . . . so young, to know their letters . . . perhaps older . . . not die so easy . . . "

"No. The younger are safer . . . treat them gently . . . "

" . . . .if they kept their tongues . . . "

" . . . the risk . . . "

Here we learn how Varys gets his little birds, and how he has children mutilated to serve his ends. 

Edited by Lost Melnibonean

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3 hours ago, Ser Leftwich said:

Has consensus built that Illyrio and Varys here are talking about Jon Connington and faking his death?

Dunna know about reaching a consensus. My thought is V & I were talking about JC.

In hindsight, after reading books 1-5,  given that JonCon is angry and holding a grudge in regards to Varys --- I would speculate that the Hand V & I were speaking of in the 1st book is JonCon.

A Dance with Dragons - The Lost Lord   So far as most of them were concerned, Connington had drunk himself to death in Lys after being driven from the company in disgrace for stealing from the war chest. The shame of the lie still stuck in his craw, but Varys had insisted it was necessary. "We want no songs about the gallant exile," the eunuch had tittered, in that mincing voice of his. "Those who die heroic deaths are long remembered, thieves and drunks and cravens soon forgotten."      What does a eunuch know of a man's honor? Griff had gone along with the Spider's scheme for the boy's sake, but that did not mean he liked it any better. Let me live long enough to see the boy sit the Iron Throne, and Varys will pay for that slight and so much more. Then we'll see who's soon forgotten./

 

 

 

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15 minutes ago, Lost Melnibonean said:
Quote

" . . . .if they kept their tongues . . . "

" . . . the risk . . . "

Here we learn how Varys gets his little birds, and how he has children mutilated to serve his ends. 

This doesn't mean, that they are cutting off tongues of all those "recruits". That, above, is only part of their conversation, so it could have a different meaning, if heard with the rest of info, that Arya had missed. "if they kept their tongues" could actually be about someone supposedly managing or not managing to keep certain secret. Those "they" could be not Little Birds.

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4 hours ago, Ser Leftwich said:

And is at least Illyrio proposing they do the same with Ned?

Eddard according to Varys is a dead man.


A Game of Thrones - Eddard XV    "My daughters …"   "The younger girl escaped Ser Meryn and fled," Varys told him. "I have not been able to find her. Nor have the Lannisters. A kindness, there. Our new king loves her not. Your older girl is still betrothed to Joffrey. Cersei keeps her close. She came to court a few days ago to plead that you be spared. A pity you couldn't have been there, you would have been touched." He leaned forward intently. "I trust you realize that you are a dead man, Lord Eddard?"

 

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3 minutes ago, Clegane'sPup said:

Eddard according to Varys is a dead man.

No. Varys wanted to send Ned to The Wall, not to kill him. He used that phrasing to emphasize to Ned the seriousness of his predicament, that unless he will agree to Varys' offer, he is a gonner. But if he will do what Varys wanted, then he will have a chance, he will survive by going to The Wall.

Based on the scene of Ned's execution, even Varys didn't expected, what Joffrey did. He tried to stop it, but was too late.

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Posted (edited)
7 minutes ago, Megorova said:

No. Varys wanted to send Ned to The Wall, not to kill him.

I can accept that.

7 minutes ago, Megorova said:

He used that phrasing to emphasize to Ned the seriousness of his predicament, that unless he will agree to Varys' offer, he is a gonner.

I do not agree with that. Eddard was going to die due to his wound.

Edited by Clegane'sPup

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29 minutes ago, Clegane'sPup said:

Eddard according to Varys is a dead man.


A Game of Thrones - Eddard XV    "My daughters …"   "The younger girl escaped Ser Meryn and fled," Varys told him. "I have not been able to find her. Nor have the Lannisters. A kindness, there. Our new king loves her not. Your older girl is still betrothed to Joffrey. Cersei keeps her close. She came to court a few days ago to plead that you be spared. A pity you couldn't have been there, you would have been touched." He leaned forward intently. "I trust you realize that you are a dead man, Lord Eddard?"

 

These are at two very different times. Also, even in the Black Cells Varys vaguely refers to the possibility of taking the Black.

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Posted (edited)
9 minutes ago, Ser Leftwich said:

These are at two very different times.

Yes, JonCon's fake death, the death of JA and the death of Eddard, all Hands of the King are different.

I didn't buy the WoIAF. Supposedly there is mention of a JC, V & I in it.

After a few short years in the company, Jon and Myles were approached by Illyrio Mopatis and Lord Varys, who informed them that Prince Rhaegar Targaryen's infant son, Aegon, had survived the Sack of King's Landing during Robert's Rebellion. In order to remove Jon from the Golden Company, they concocted a plan, of which the remainder of the Golden Company was left unaware, so they would not be able to let anything slip. Jon was driven from the company after being caught stealing from the company's war chests. Afterwards, news was spread that Jon drank himself to death in Lys.

4 hours ago, Ser Leftwich said:

Has consensus built that Illyrio and Varys here are talking about Jon Connington and faking his death?

No, I dunna tink soooooooo.

Edited by Clegane'sPup

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32 minutes ago, Megorova said:

This doesn't mean, that they are cutting off tongues of all those "recruits". That, above, is only part of their conversation, so it could have a different meaning, if heard with the rest of info, that Arya had missed. "if they kept their tongues" could actually be about someone supposedly managing or not managing to keep certain secret. Those "they" could be not Little Birds.

This does mean the children that acts as little birds have their tongues cut out. See all the retired 'little birds' acting as servants not talking in Illyrio's manse and the two that usher Kevan into see Pycelle. They have no tongues.

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4 hours ago, Ser Leftwich said:
 
Has consensus built here about ...
 
 

Silly me. What a naive thing to suggest.

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8 minutes ago, Clegane'sPup said:

Yes, JonCon's fake death, the death of JA and the death of Eddard, all Hands of the King are different.

 

@Clegane'sPup

What I meant was two very different times in terms of Ned's knowledge and condition. The first is before Ned has really even learned of the twincest and Robert lives. The second time is weeks or months later when Ned is wounded in the Black Cells and the Lannisters reign supreme. What Varys/Illyrio could reasonably get out of Ned is completely different at those two times.

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8 minutes ago, Ser Leftwich said:

Silly me. What a naive thing to suggest.

Stop saying that.

 

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I like to think that everybody in KL is incredibly easy to manipulate, so Varys just went up to Littlefinger and essentially said “it’s too bad Catelyn’s married, if only there was some way to make her not be with an elaborate plan that begins with Jon Arryn dying”, and Littlefinger did just that, so Varys is technically responsible for Jon Arryn’s death. That’s the Hand he’s talking about. 

Or it could just be a thinly veiled reference to Jon Con, which makes a lot more sense. 

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2 hours ago, Clegane'sPup said:

Eddard according to Varys is a dead man.


A Game of Thrones - Eddard XV    "My daughters …"   "The younger girl escaped Ser Meryn and fled," Varys told him. "I have not been able to find her. Nor have the Lannisters. A kindness, there. Our new king loves her not. Your older girl is still betrothed to Joffrey. Cersei keeps her close. She came to court a few days ago to plead that you be spared. A pity you couldn't have been there, you would have been touched." He leaned forward intently. "I trust you realize that you are a dead man, Lord Eddard?"

 

 But that is much later. 

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