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Lost Melnibonean

Littlefinger hired a Faceless Man to kill Ned

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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.

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 tFaceless 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.

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LF hires faceless man< faceless man becomes the sword Ice< faceless man kills Ned.

Why didn't I think of this earlier.

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Why bother? He already had a complete plan to first get Ned arrested for high treason. Then all he had to do was give Joffrey a little push to have Ned executed. As you say, faceless men cost a fortune, and even if Petyr hadn't an easier way, he could've let Ned rot in many ways. He was no threat anymore.

Either way, him betraying Ned would already be sufficient to satisfy the prophecy, I'd think.

Also, while Petyr had friends in many places, we know who ran the black cells: Varys. We know that "someone" approached Yoren, giving him Gendry and telling him to pick up Ned. And remember Ned in the black cells... Varys was the one who convinced him to confess and take the black.

Finally, while the faceless men are particularly known for contract killing, we already know that that isn't all there is to it... Jaqen and the Alchemist shows that kills are made outside official contracts, and that seemingly they have other missions as well.

It's true that he didn't drag Arya to Braavos. But he certainly was rather interested in her, knew more than he should, and pushed her to it as much as he could without raising suspicion, one may say. Which is Varys' style. Varys is described, as I recall, by Illyrio (conversation that Arya overhears) as a master juggler (well, more than a juggler, a wizard)... and juggling is about keeping things in the air, going in the right direction, while touching it as little as possible. A fitting description, I dare say.

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The FM killed Joffrey and wore his skin to give the execution order. Then he warged into Ilyn Payne and killed Ned with Ice.

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I did no such thing.

:rofl: I was eating when I read this and nearly choked. Good to see your back to your old self, Lord Baelish. :cheers:

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Littlefinger didn't need to go through all that trouble to kill dear Ned. He just needed to egg Joffrey on to do it, and he can play Joffrey like a harp. Yeah, I think that Littlefinger is almost solely responsible for Ned's death, but he didn't need a Faceless Man to do it.

I am curious why Jaquen H'aghar (sp?) was on his was to the Wall though, but I can assure you Ned wasn't the reason.

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Why bother? He already had a complete plan to first get Ned arrested for high treason. Then all he had to do was give Joffrey a little push to have Ned executed. As you say, faceless men cost a fortune, and even if Petyr hadn't an easier way, he could've let Ned rot in many ways. He was no threat anymore.

Either way, him betraying Ned would already be sufficient to satisfy the prophecy, I'd think.

Also, while Petyr had friends in many places, we know who ran the black cells: Varys. We know that "someone" approached Yoren, giving him Gendry and telling him to pick up Ned. And remember Ned in the black cells... Varys was the one who convinced him to confess and take the black.

Finally, while the faceless men are particularly known for contract killing, we already know that that isn't all there is to it... Jaqen and the Alchemist shows that kills are made outside official contracts, and that seemingly they have other missions as well.

It's true that he didn't drag Arya to Braavos. But he certainly was rather interested in her, knew more than he should, and pushed her to it as much as he could without raising suspicion, one may say. Which is Varys' style. Varys is described, as I recall, by Illyrio (conversation that Arya overhears) as a master juggler (well, more than a juggler, a wizard)... and juggling is about keeping things in the air, going in the right direction, while touching it as little as possible. A fitting description, I dare say.

Yes he wanted Ned disgraced for treason but he also wanted him dead, not because he was a threat--he hated him. Ned's boyhood friend and ally was king when I believe LF hired the FM.

If the betrayal was sufficient to satisfy the vision and if you believe LF was the third shadow why did GRRM describe the face(less) death and black blood?

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I thought that everyone had settled on the theory that it was Littlefinger who gave Joffrey the idea of decapitating Ned, so how does the faceless man factor into this?

Also, why not hire the faceless man only after if his plan doesn't work and Ned gets sent to the Wall?

Most would seem to agree that Ned being an honorable man would have gone to the Wall like he was told to.

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@ OP

You do realize that hiring a FM is hideously expensive don't you? I think LF even objected to the costs when Bob ordered the hit on Dany back in GoT.

Besides LF has other ways to get rid of people. Tears of Lys for example. Much cheaper.

ps LF didn't actually plan on killing Eddard from the day Eddard set foot in KL. After Bob croaked it LF immediately sought out Eddard to discuss a coup d'etat (aka removing Cercei). He didn't like what Eddard had planned (namely, put Stan B on the throne) and he switched sides to Cercei as it was more profitable to him. Later he probably indirectly manipulated Joff to execute Eddard instead of following Varys' plan.

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ps LF didn't actually plan on killing Eddard from the day Eddard set foot in KL. After Bob croaked it LF immediately saught out Eddard to discuss a coup d'etat (aka removing Cercei). He didn't like what Eddard had planned (namely, put Stan B on the throne) and he switched sides to Cercei as it was more profitable to him. Later he probably indirectly manipulated Joff to execute Eddard instead of following Varys' plan.

That's entirely up for debate... First of all it wasn't LF who sought Ned out, but he did suggest keeping Joffrey on the throne. However people think that he only suggested it so that Ned would say no, being an honorable man and all... LF was always planning to betray Ned, just look at the letter Lysa sent, look at everything that happened since. He was always going to side with the fake Baratheons so that he'd get Harrenhall and more importantly the titles that came with it, that allowed him to go to the Vale.

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:rofl: I was eating when I read this and nearly choked. Good to see your back to your old self, Lord Baelish. :cheers:

When was I ever not myself? Last I checked, I'm still firmly perched high up on the ladder.

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I thought that everyone had settled on the theory that it was Littlefinger who gave Joffrey the idea of decapitating Ned...

I didn't.

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LF did not just complain about the cost of hiring a FM.

He specifically complained about the cost of hiring one to kill a merchant. Namely, that it was ludicrously expensive to hire one to kill a mere merchant, so he could only imagine how much it would cost to kill Dany.

I just reread that scene. :D

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Also, why not hire the faceless man only after if his plan doesn't work and Ned gets sent to the Wall?

Most would seem to agree that Ned being an honorable man would have gone to the Wall like he was told to.

I believe LF hired the FM after Lysa poisoned Jon but before Cat arrived in KL.

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ps LF didn't actually plan on killing Eddard from the day Eddard set foot in KL. After Bob croaked it LF immediately sought out Eddard to discuss a coup d'etat (aka removing Cercei). He didn't like what Eddard had planned (namely, put Stan B on the throne) and he switched sides to Cercei as it was more profitable to him. Later he probably indirectly manipulated Joff to execute Eddard instead of following Varys' plan.

I definitely think he was fully planning on killing Ned. He definitely wanted to lure Ned down to the Lion's Den in order to instigate a war between the Starks and the Lannisters, and in the end kill Ned for marrying Cat. It really wasn't a matter of if, but when. If he had gone along with Littlefinger's plan, Ned would have been spared a few more years, since Ned was easy to manipulate. Having Stannis on the throne would destroy everything Littlefinger had worked for, so he betrayed Ned.

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Later he probably indirectly manipulated Joff to execute Eddard instead of following Varys' plan.

Disagree with this. I'm 99% certain that Joff executed Eddard because Joff is Joff. The one thing Joffrey could never abide was being told he couldn't do something. At this particular stage, he was still feeling frustrated that he was king, but everyone was still telling him what to do.

He could kill Ned. So he did. Because it made him powerful.

Just like puppies. And Bran.

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When was I ever not myself? Last I checked, I'm still firmly perched high up on the ladder.

I thought I saw you respond in another post speaking in the third person about something Littlefinger would have done. Hopefully, I was wrong. ;)

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You do realize that hiring a FM is hideously expensive don't you? I think LF even objected to the costs when Bob ordered the hit on Dany back in GoT.

Absolutely--I think this was a hint to the reader that LF hired a FM.

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I definitely think he was fully planning on killing Ned.

This is entirely true. Rereading aGoT right now, and the thing that shines through every single interaction between Ned and Littlefinger is that LF holds Ned in complete contempt. He weaves lies into every single thing he says, and manipulates Ned into doing exactly what Ned has to do in order to die.

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