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The bones remember...


kissdbyfire

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We hear from different characters that 'the bones remember'. In Dance, we hear Mel talking specifically about this while bringing up, seemingly out of nowhere, a bag of fingerbones.

 

ADwD, Melisandre

Mance Rayder chuckled. “I had my doubts as well, Snow, but why not let her try? It was that, or let Stannis roast me.”
“The bones help,” said Melisandre. “The bones remember. The strongest glamors are built of such thingsA dead man’s boots, a hank of hair, a bag of fingerbones. With whispered words and prayer, a man’s shadow can be drawn forth from such and draped about another like a cloak. The wearer’s essence does not change, only his seeming.”

This spurred a ton of theories regarding Mel and Davos back when ADwD first came out. I thought it was misdirection, and still do. So let's have a closer look at bones remembering and a few other things.

ACoK, Arya IX

 

     “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.”

Arya became very interested in Jaqen H'ghar's skills and abilities very early on, and she's made good use of said skills and abilities. But when she witnesses Jaqen changing his face she becomes fascinated with the 'magic', with how easy he made it seem, and definitely with the possible applications of it, especially if you're on the run and wanted by the powers that be. 

ACoK, Arya X

     Rorge and Biter were as bad as the others. Whenever Lord Bolton took a meal with the garrison, Arya would see them there among the rest. Biter gave off a stench like bad cheese, so the Brave Companions made him sit down near the foot of the table where he could grunt and hiss to himself and tear his meat apart with fingers and teeth. He would sniff at Arya when she passed, but it was Rorge who scared her most. He sat up near Faithful Urswyck, but she could feel his eyes crawling over her as she went about her duties. 
     Sometimes she wished she had gone off across the narrow sea with Jaqen H'ghar. She still had the stupid coin he'd given her, a piece of iron no larger than a penny and rusted along the rim. One side had writing on it, queer words she could not read. The other showed a man's head, but so worn that all his features had rubbed off. He said it was of great value, but that was probably a lie too, like his name and even his face. That made her so angry that she threw the coin away, but after an hour she got to feeling bad and went and found it again, even though it wasn't worth anything.

ASoS, Arya III

     She missed him [Hot Pie] more than she thought she would, but Harwin made up for it some. She had told him about his father Hullen, and how she'd found him dying by the stables in the Red Keep, the day she fled. "He always said he'd die in a stable," Harwin said, "but we all thought some bad-tempered stallion would be his death, not a pack of lions." Arya told of Yoren and their escape from King's Landing as well, and much that had happened since, but she left out the stableboy she'd stabbed with Needle, and the guard whose throat she'd cut to get out of Harrenhal. Telling Harwin would be almost like telling her father, and there were some things that she could not bear having her father know. 
     Nor did she speak of Jaqen H'ghar and the three deaths he'd owed and paid. The iron coin he'd given her Arya kept tucked away beneath her belt, but sometimes at night she would take it out and remember how his face had melted and changed when he ran his hand across it. "Valar morghulis," she would say under her breath. "Ser Gregor, Dunsen, Polliver, Raff the Sweetling. The Tickler and the Hound. Ser Ilyn, Ser Meryn, Queen Cersei, King Joffrey."

AFfC Arya II

     “Are the other men all priests?” she asked the kindly man the next morning. “Were those their real faces?
     "What do you think, child?”
     She thought no. “Is Jaqen H’ghar a priest too? Do you know if Jaqen will be coming back to Braavos?
     “Who?” he said, all innocence.
     “Jaqen H’ghar. He gave me the iron coin.”
     "I know no one by this name, child.”
     “I asked him how he changed his face, and he said it was no harder than taking a new name, if you knew the way.
     “Did he?”
     “Will you show me how to change my face?
     “If you wish.” He cupped her chin in his hand and turned her head. “Puff up your cheeks and stick out your tongue.”
     Arya puffed up her cheeks and stuck out her tongue.
     “There. Your face is changed.”
     “That’s not how I meant. Jaqen used magic.
     “All sorcery comes at a cost, child. Years of prayer and sacrifice and study are required to work a proper glamor.
     “Years?” she said, dismayed.
     “If it were easy all men would do it. You must walk before you run. Why use a spell, where mummer’s tricks will serve?”
     “I don’t know any mummer’s tricks either.”
     “Then practice making faces. Beneath your skin are muscles. Learn to use them. It is your face. Your cheeks, your lips, your ears. Smiles and scowls should not come upon you like sudden squalls. A smile should be a servant, and come only when you call it. Learn to rule your face.”
     “Show me how.”
     “Puff up your cheeks.” She did. “Lift your eyebrows. No, higher.” She did that too. “Good. See how long you can hold that. It will not be long. Try it again on the morrow. You will find a Myrish mirror in the vaults. Train before it for an hour every day. Eyes, nostrils, cheeks, ears, lips, learn to rule them all.” He cupped her chin. “Who are you?”
     “No one.” 
     “A lie. A sad little lie, child.

AFfC, Cat of the Canals

     By the time Cat returned to Brusco’s house, an evening fog was gathering above the small canal. She put away her barrow, found Brusco in his counting room, and thumped her purse down on the table in front of him. She thumped the boots down too.
     Brusco gave the purse a pat. “Good. But what’s this?”
     “Boots.”
     “Good boots are hard to find,” said Brusco, “but these are too small for my feet.” He picked one up to squint at it.
     “The moon will be black tonight,” she reminded him.
     “Best you pray, then.” Brusco shoved the boots aside and poured out the coins to count them. “Valar dohaeris.
     Valar morghulis, she thought.

AFfC, Cat of the Canals

     “Just so,” said the kindly man. “And the third thing?”
     This time she did not hesitate. “Dareon is dead. The black singer who was sleeping at the Happy Port. He was really a deserter from the Night’s Watch. Someone slit his throat and pushed him into a canal, but they kept his boots.”
     “Good boots are hard to find.
     “Just so.” She tried to keep her face still.
     “Who could have done this thing, I wonder?”
     “Arya of House Stark.” She watched his eyes, his mouth, the muscles of his jaw.
     “That girl? I thought she had left Braavos. Who are you?”
     “No one.”
     “You lie.” He turned to the waif. "My throat is dry. Do me a kindness and bring a cup of wine for me and warm milk for our friend Arya, who has returned to us so unexpectedly."

ADwD, The Ugly Little Girl

     “Mummers change their faces with artifice,” the kindly man was saying, “and sorcerers use glamors, weaving light and shadow and desire to make illusions that trick the eye. These arts you shall learn, but what we do here goes deeper. Wise men can see through artifice, and glamors dissolve before sharp eyes, but the face you are about to don will be as true and solid as that face you were born with. Keep your eyes closed.” She felt his fingers brushing back her hair. “Stay still. This will feel queer. You may be dizzy, but you must not move.”

 

This post is too long as it is, so I'll leave the maths to you. :P

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I'm intrigued, but I'm not sure I've worked it out.

I was thinking that maybe the Kindly Man accessed the "good boots are hard to find" line from the boots themselves, as the boots remember. But are the boots present in this scene? Is Arya wearing them? Was the Kindly Man posing as Brusco?

Certainly the flayed face skin seems to remember!

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Sorry, it was lazy of me to just leave it like that but I was hungry after sorting all the quotes and stuff. :D

Mel tells us that these things, these objects,  help in maintaining glamors and these illusions. We also  see that Arya has already had actual face changes… It seems to me the glamors are easier than the face change and I think Arya, in possession of a dead man’s boots, may work a glamor for herself when she decides to go back to Westeros. 

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5 minutes ago, kissdbyfire said:

It seems to me the glamors are easier than the face change and I think Arya, in possession of a dead man’s boots, may work a glamor for herself when she decides to go back to Westeros. 

Ok, but what about the old, cracked boots from the gift chapter?  Part of her costume for her current job I guess.  Glad you brought this up as it highlights what else Arya is learning, as opposed to her kill count.  Well done!

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12 minutes ago, LongRider said:

Ok, but what about the old, cracked boots from the gift chapter?  Part of her costume for her current job I guess.  Glad you brought this up as it highlights what else Arya is learning, as opposed to her kill count.  Well done!

You know, I sort of remembered something about the boots in Mercy but I was really hungry and decided to check that out later. As far as I recall - not very well as it’s been a long time since I last read Mercy - those boots could very well be Dareon’s boots. Will reread that chapter now. 
 

ETA: @LongRider, the pair of boots in Mercy are brown leather, so unlikely those are Dareon’s. 

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2 hours ago, kissdbyfire said:

“The bones help,” said Melisandre. “The bones remember. The strongest glamors are built of such thingsA dead man’s boots, a hank of hair, a bag of fingerbones. With whispered words and prayer, a man’s shadow can be drawn forth from such and draped about another like a cloak. The wearer’s essence does not change, only his seeming.”

It's a big claim, but Mance's glamour seemed to work like that, and the idea is suggested here and there through the books. Like this one -

The girl had been recognizably Princess Rhaenys, but the boy ... a faceless horror of bone and brain and gore, a few hanks of fair hair.

The work of Varys, maybe, wizardly or not.

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3 minutes ago, kissdbyfire said:

You know, I sort of remembered something about the boots in Mercy but I was really hungry and decided to check that out later. As far as I recall - not very well as it’s been a long time since I last read Mercy - those boots could very well be Dareon’s boots. Will reread that chapter now. 

That's why I wished new boots for Arya in the Fun thread.  

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53 minutes ago, kissdbyfire said:

the pair of boots in Mercy are brown leather, so unlikely those are Dareon’s.

Thanks for checking!  As for using the boots for a glamor, she already knows how to pass as a boy thanks to being Arry for awhile, plus the FM training.  Don't think she's got glamour training yet, has she?  She could be pretty powerful at that, me thinks. 

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1 hour ago, kissdbyfire said:

Sorry, it was lazy of me to just leave it like that but I was hungry after sorting all the quotes and stuff. :D

Mel tells us that these things, these objects,  help in maintaining glamors and these illusions. We also  see that Arya has already had actual face changes… It seems to me the glamors are easier than the face change and I think Arya, in possession of a dead man’s boots, may work a glamor for herself when she decides to go back to Westeros. 

I agree with the idea of Arya returning to Westeros in a type of disguise. Perhaps not on a ship, but even if she reclaims her identity in Braavos, she has too much experience not to journey without using some type of disguise. She journeyed all around the Riverlands with numerous names, and now in Braavos she learns several tricks to go by various faces + names - different faces with make-up, movement of her facial features, and twice an actual face of a dead person. And it stands to reason she might try out a disguise as a man, to avoid rape, except the face wearing does not seem to allow for gender swapping, whereas a glamour might work.

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16 minutes ago, LongRider said:

Thanks for checking!  As for using the boots for a glamor, she already knows how to pass as a boy thanks to being Arry for awhile, plus the FM training.  Don't think she's got glamour training yet, has she?  She could be pretty powerful at that, me thinks. 

We haven’t seen Arya using or learning glamors firsthand iirc. But we have seen her use mummers’ tricks as Blind Beth, and then the face swap. The way the KM talks to her about these, they seem to have increasing levels of complexity and difficulty. As in, mummers’ tricks are the easiest and least elaborate, then glamors, and then face changing. So it makes sense to me that by TWoW she could very well be able to use a glamor. 

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17 minutes ago, sweetsunray said:

I agree with the idea of Arya returning to Westeros in a type of disguise. Perhaps not on a ship, but even if she reclaims her identity in Braavos, she has too much experience not to journey without using some type of disguise. She journeyed all around the Riverlands with numerous names, and now in Braavos she learns several tricks to go by various faces + names - different faces with make-up, movement of her facial features, and twice an actual face of a dead person. And it stands to reason she might try out a disguise as a man, to avoid rape, except the face wearing does not seem to allow for gender swapping, whereas a glamour might work.

Yeah, not sure about about the face change not allowing for gender swap just b/c we haven’t been told either way. But the idea here is really a glamor. 

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2 minutes ago, LongRider said:

If Arya leaves the FM and Braavos before the glamour training, she still has alot in her tool kit.  Even learning a small amount of how-to glamour would be a real useful skill.

I think she has already learned it, based on the KM telling her, ‘these arts you shall learn’. And either it happened off page or we will see it in TWoW. 
And totally agree she already has a very substantial toolkit. 

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1 minute ago, Phylum of Alexandria said:

Not related to the topic at all, but your title would make great ad copy for a brothel. :D

LOL

The thread title? Or my Bloodraven fangirling? I ask because I don't quite get it either way! :lol:

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