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THE UGLY LITTLE GIRL 

Eleven servants of the Many-Faced God gathered that night beneath the temple, more than she had ever seen together at one time. Only the lordling and the fat fellow arrived by the front door; the rest came by secret ways, through tunnels and hidden passages. They wore their robes of black and white, but as they took their seats each man pulled his cowl down to show the face he had chosen to wear that day. Their tall chairs were carved of ebony and weirwood, like the doors of the temple above. The ebon chairs had weirwood faces on their backs, the weirwood chairs faces of carved ebony.

One of the other acolytes stood across the room with a flagon of dark red wine. She had the water. Whenever one of the servants wished to drink, he would raise his eyes or crook a finger, and one or both of them would come and fill his cup. But mostly they stood, waiting on looks that never came. I am carved of stone, she reminded herself. I am a statue, like the Sealords that stand along the Canal of the Heroes. The water was heavy, but her arms were strong.

The priests used the language of Braavos, though once for several minutes three spoke heatedly in High Valyrian. The girl understood the words, mostly, but they spoke in soft voices, and she could not always hear. “I know this man,” she did hear a priest with the face of a plague victim say. “I know this man,” the fat fellow echoed, as she was pouring for him. But the handsome man said, “I will give this man the gift, I know him not.” Later the squinter said the same thing, of someone else.

After three hours of wine and words, the priests took their leave… all but the kindly man, the waif, and the one whose face bore the marks of plague. His cheeks were covered with weeping sores, and his hair had fallen out. Blood dripped from one nostril and crusted at the corners of both eyes.

“Our brother would have words with you, child,” the kindly man told her. “Sit, if you wish.”

She seated herself in a weirwood chair with a face of ebony. Bloody sores held no terror for her. She had been too long in the House of Black and White to be afraid of a false face.

“Who are you?” plague face asked when they were alone.

“No one.”

“Not so. You are Arya of House Stark, who bites her lip and cannot tell a lie.”

“I was. I’m not now.”

“Why are you here, liar?”

“To serve. To learn. To change my face.”

“First change your heart. The gift of the Many-Faced God is not a child’s plaything. You would kill for your own purposes, for your own pleasures. Do you deny it?”

She bit her lip. “I—”

He slapped her.

The blow left her cheek stinging, but she knew that she had earned it. “Thank you.” Enough slaps, and she might stop chewing on her lip. Arya did that, not the night wolf. “I do deny it.”

“You lie. I can see the truth in your eyes. You have the eyes of a wolf and a taste for blood.”

Ser Gregor, she could not help but think. Dunsen, Raff the Sweetling. Ser Ilyn, Ser Meryn, Queen Cersei. If she spoke, she would need to lie, and he would know. She kept silent.

“You were a cat, they tell me. Prowling through the alleys smelling of fish, selling cockles and mussels for coin. A small life, well suited for a small creature such as you. Ask, and it can be restored to you. Push your barrow, cry your cockles, be content. Your heart is too soft to be one of us.”

He means to send me away. “I have no heart. I only have a hole. I’ve killed lots of people. I could kill you if I wanted.”

“Would that taste sweet to you?”

She did not know the right answer. “Maybe.”

“Then you do not belong here. Death holds no sweetness in this house. We are not warriors, nor soldiers, nor swaggering bravos puffed up with pride. We do not kill to serve some lord, to fatten our purses, to stroke our vanity. We never give the gift to please ourselves. Nor do we choose the ones we kill. We are but servants of the God of Many Faces.”

“Valar dohaeris.” All men must serve.

“You know the words, but you are too proud to serve. A servant must be humble and obedient.”

“I obey. I can be humbler than anyone.”

That made him chuckle. “You will be the very goddess of humility, I am sure. But can you pay the price?”

“What price?”

“The price is you. The price is all you have and all you ever hope to have. We took your eyes and gave them back. Next we will take your ears, and you will walk in silence. You will give us your legs and crawl. You will be no one’s daughter, no one’s wife, no one’s mother. Your name will be a lie, and the very face you wear will not be your own.”

She almost bit her lip again, but this time she caught herself and stopped. My face is a dark pool, hiding everything, showing nothing. She thought of all the names that she had worn: Arry, Weasel, Squab, Cat of the Canals. She thought of that stupid girl from Winterfell called Arya Horseface. Names did not matter. “I can pay the price. Give me a face.”

“Faces must be earned.”

“Tell me how.”

“Give a certain man a certain gift. Can you do that?”

“What man?”

“No one that you know.”

“I don’t know a lot of people.”

“He is one of them. A stranger. No one you love, no one you hate, no one you have ever known. Will you kill him?”

“Yes.”

“Then on the morrow, you shall be Cat of the Canals again. Wear that face, watch, obey. And we will see if you are truly worthy to serve Him of Many Faces.”

So the next day she returned to Brusco and his daughters in the house on the canal. Brusco’s eyes widened when he saw her, and Brea gave a little gasp.

“Valar morghulis,” Cat said, by way of greeting.

“Valar dohaeris,” Brusco replied.

After that it was as if she had never been away.

She got her first look at the man she must kill later that morning as she wheeled her barrow through the cobbled streets that fronted on the Purple Harbor. He was an old man, well past fifty. He has lived too long, she tried to tell herself. Why should he have so many years when my father had so few? But Cat of the Canals had no father, so she kept that thought to herself.

“Cockles and mussels and clams,” Cat cried as he went past, “oysters and prawns and fat green mussels.” She even smiled at him. Sometimes a smile was all you needed to make them stop and buy. The old man did not smile back. He scowled at her and went on past, sloshing through a puddle. The splash wet her feet.

He has no courtesy, she thought, watching him go. His face is hard and mean. The old man’s nose was pinched and sharp, his lips thin, his eyes small and close-set. His hair had gone to grey, but the little pointed beard at the end of his chin was still black. Cat thought it must be dyed and wondered why he had not dyed his hair as well. One of his shoulders was higher than the other, giving him a crooked cast.

“He is an evil man,” she announced that evening when she returned to the House of Black and White. “His lips are cruel, his eyes are mean, and he has a villain’s beard.”

The kindly man chuckled. “He is a man like any other, with light in him and darkness. It is not for you to judge him.”

That gave her pause. “Have the gods judged him?”

“Some gods, mayhaps. What are gods for if not to sit in judgment over men? The Many-Faced God does not weigh men’s souls, however. He gives his gift to the best of men as he gives it to the worst. Elsewise the good would live forever.”

The old man’s hands were the worst thing about him, Cat decided the next day, as she watched him from behind her barrow. His fingers were long and bony, always moving, scratching at his beard, tugging at an ear, drumming on a table, twitching, twitching, twitching. He has hands like two white spiders. The more she watched his hands, the more she came to hate them.

“He moves his hands too much,” she told them at the temple. “He must be full of fear. The gift will bring him peace.”

“The gift brings all men peace.”

“When I kill him he will look in my eyes and thank me.”

“If he does, you will have failed. It would be best if he takes no note of you at all.”

The old man was some sort of merchant, Cat concluded after watching him for a few days. His trade had to do with the sea, though she never saw him set foot upon a ship. He spent his days sitting in a soup shop near the Purple Harbor, a cup of onion broth cooling at his elbow as he shuffled papers and sealing wax and spoke in sharp tones to a parade of captains, shipowners, and other merchants, none of whom seemed to like him very much.

Yet they brought him money: leather purses plump with gold and silver and the square iron coins of Braavos. The old man would count it out carefully, sorting the coins and stacking them up neatly, like with like. He never looked at the coins. Instead he bit them, always on the left side of his mouth, where he still had all his teeth. From time to time he’d spin one on the table and listen to the sound it made when it came clattering to a stop.

And when all the coins had been counted and tasted, the old man would scrawl upon a parchment, stamp it with his seal, and give it to the captain. Else he’d shake his head and shove the coins back across the table. Whenever he did that, the other man would get red-faced and angry, or pale and scared-looking.

Cat did not understand. “They pay him gold and silver, but he only gives them writing. Are they stupid?”

“A few, mayhaps. Most are simply cautious. Some think to cozen him. He is not a man easily cozened, however.”

“But what is he selling them?”

“He is writing each a binder. If their ships are lost in a storm or taken by pirates, he promises to pay them for the value of the vessel and all its contents.”

“Is it some kind of wager?”

“Of a sort. A wager every captain hopes to lose.”

“Yes, but if they win…”

“… they lose their ships, oftimes their very lives. The seas are dangerous, and never more so than in autumn. No doubt many a captain sinking in a storm has taken some small solace in his binder back in Braavos, knowing that his widow and children will not want.” A sad smile touched his lips. “It is one thing to write such a binder, though, and another to make good on it.”

Cat understood. One of them must hate him. One of them came to the House of Black and White and prayed for the god to take him. She wondered who it had been, but the kindly man would not tell her. “It is not for you to pry into such matters,” he said. “Who are you?”

“No one.”

“No one asks no questions.” He took her hands. “If you cannot do this thing, you need only say so. There is no shame in that. Some are made to serve the Many-Faced God and some are not. Say the word, and I shall lift this task from you.”

“I will do it. I said I would. I will.”

How, though? That was harder.

He had guards. Two of them, a tall thin man and a short thick one. They went with him everywhere, from when he left his house in the morning till he returned at night. They made certain no one got close to the old man without his leave. Once a drunk almost staggered into him as he was coming home from the soup shop, but the tall one stepped between them and gave the man a sharp shove that knocked him to the ground. At the soup shop, the short one always tasted the onion broth first. The old man waited until the broth had cooled before he took a sip, long enough to be sure his guardsman had suffered no ill effects.

“He’s afraid,” she realized, “or else he knows that someone wants to kill him.”

“He does not know,” said the kindly man, “but he suspects.”

“The guards go with him even when he slips out to make water,” she said, “but he doesn’t go when they do. The tall one is the quicker. I’ll wait till he is making water, walk into the soup shop, and stab the old man through the eye.”

“And the other guard?”

“He’s slow and stupid. I can kill him too.”

“Are you some butcher of the battlefield, hacking down every man who stands in your way?”

“No.”

“I would hope not. You are a servant of the Many-Faced God, and we who serve Him of Many Faces give his gift only to those who have been marked and chosen.”

She understood. Kill him. Kill only him.

It took her three more days of watching before she found the way, and another day of practicing with her finger knife. Red Roggo had taught her how to use it, but she had not slit a purse since back before they took away her eyes. She wanted to make certain that she still knew how. Smooth and quick, that’s the way, no fumbling, she told herself, and she slipped the little blade out of her sleeve, again and again and again. When she was satisfied that she still remembered how to do it, she sharpened the steel on a whetstone until its edge glimmered silver-blue in the candlelight. The other part was trickier, but the waif was there to help her. “I will give the man the gift on the morrow,” she announced as she was breaking her fast.

“Him of Many Faces will be pleased.” The kindly man rose. “Cat of the Canals is known to many. If she is seen to have done this deed, it might bring down trouble on Brusco and his daughters. It is time you had another face.”

The girl did not smile, but inside she was pleased. She had lost Cat once, and mourned her. She did not want to lose her again. “What will I look like?”

“Ugly. Women will look away when they see you. Children will stare and point. Strong men will pity you, and some may shed a tear. No one who sees you will soon forget you. Come.”

The kindly man took the iron lantern off its hook and led her past the still black pool and the rows of dark and silent gods, to the steps at the rear of the temple. The waif fell in behind them as they were making their descent. No one spoke. The soft scuff of slippered feet on the steps was the only sound. Eighteen steps brought them to the vaults, where five arched passageways spread out like the fingers of a man’s hand. Down here the steps grew narrower and steeper, but the girl had run up and down them a thousand times and they held no terrors for her. Twenty-two more steps and they were at the subcellar. The tunnels here were cramped and crooked, black wormholes twisting through the heart of the great rock. One passage was closed off by a heavy iron door. The priest hung the lantern from a hook, slipped a hand inside his robe, and produced an ornate key.

Gooseprickles rose along her arms. The sanctum. They were going lower still, down to the third level, to the secret chambers where only the priests were permitted.

The key clicked three times, very softly, as the kindly man turned it in a lock. The door swung open on oiled iron hinges, making not a sound. Beyond were still more steps, hewn out of solid rock. The priest took down the lantern once again and led the way. The girl followed the light, counting the steps as she went down. Four five six seven. She found herself wishing that she had brought her stick. Ten eleven twelve. She knew how many steps there were between the temple and the cellar, between the cellar and the subcellar, she had even counted the steps on the cramped winding stair that spiraled up into the garret and the rungs on the steep wooden ladder that ascended to the rooftop door and the windy perch outside.

This stair was unknown to her, however, and that made it perilous. One-and-twenty two-and-twenty three-and-twenty. With every step the air seemed to grow a little colder. When her count reached thirty she knew that they were under even the canals. Three-and-thirty four-and-thirty. How deep were they going to go?

She had reached fifty-four when the steps finally ended at another iron door. This one was unlocked. The kindly man pushed it open and stepped through. She followed, with the waif on her heels. Their footsteps echoed through the darkness. The kindly man lifted his lantern and flicked its shutters wide open. Light washed over the walls around them.

A thousand faces were gazing down on her.

They hung upon the walls, before her and behind her, high and low, everywhere she looked, everywhere she turned. She saw old faces and young faces, pale faces and dark faces, smooth faces and wrinkled faces, freckled faces and scarred faces, handsome faces and homely faces, men and women, boys and girls, even babes, smiling faces, frowning faces, faces full of greed and rage and lust, bald faces and faces bristling with hair. Masks, she told herself, it’s only masks, but even as she thought the thought, she knew it wasn’t so. They were skins.

“Do they frighten you, child?” asked the kindly man. “It is not too late for you to leave us. Is this truly what you want?”

Arya bit her lip. She did not know what she wanted. If I leave, where will I go? She had washed and stripped a hundred corpses, dead things did not frighten her. They carry them down here and slice their faces off, so what? She was the night wolf, no scraps of skin could frighten her. Leather hoods, that’s all they are, they cannot hurt me. “Do it,” she blurted out.

He led her across the chamber, past a row of tunnels leading off into side passages. The light of his lantern illuminated each in turn. One tunnel was walled with human bones, its roof supported by columns of skulls. Another opened on winding steps that descended farther still. How many cellars are there? she wondered. Do they just go down forever?

“Sit,” the priest commanded. She sat. “Now close your eyes, child.” She closed her eyes. “This will hurt,” he warned her, “but pain is the price of power. Do not move.”

Still as stone, she thought. She sat unmoving. The cut was quick, the blade sharp. By rights the metal should have been cold against her flesh, but it felt warm instead. She could feel the blood washing down her face, a rippling red curtain falling across her brow and cheeks and chin, and she understood why the priest had made her close her eyes. When it reached her lips the taste was salt and copper. She licked at it and shivered.

“Bring me the face,” said the kindly man. The waif made no answer, but she could hear her slippers whispering over the stone floor. To the girl he said, “Drink this,” and pressed a cup into her hand. She drank it down at once. It was very tart, like biting into a lemon. A thousand years ago, she had known a girl who loved lemon cakes. No, that was not me, that was only Arya.

“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.”

Then came a tug and a soft rustling as the new face was pulled down over the old. The leather scraped across her brow, dry and stiff, but as her blood soaked into it, it softened and turned supple. Her cheeks grew warm, flushed. She could feel her heart fluttering beneath her breast, and for one long moment she could not catch her breath. Hands closed around her throat, hard as stone, choking her. Her own hands shot up to claw at the arms of her attacker, but there was no one there. A terrible sense of fear filled her, and she heard a noise, a hideous crunching noise, accompanied by blinding pain. A face floated in front of her, fat, bearded, brutal, his mouth twisted with rage. She heard the priest say, “Breathe, child. Breathe out the fear. Shake off the shadows. He is dead. She is dead. Her pain is gone. Breathe.”

The girl took a deep shuddering breath, and realized it was true. No one was choking her, no one was hitting her. Even so, her hand was shaking as she raised it to her face. Flakes of dried blood crumbled at the touch of her fingertips, black in the lantern light. She felt her cheeks, touched her eyes, traced the line of her jaw. “My face is still the same.”

“Is it? Are you certain?”

Was she certain? She had not felt any change, but maybe it was not something you could feel. She swept a hand down across her face from top to bottom, as she had once seen Jaqen H’ghar do, back at Harrenhal. When he did it, his whole face had rippled and changed. When she did it, nothing happened. “It feels the same.”

“To you,” said the priest. “It does not look the same.”

“To other eyes, your nose and jaw are broken,” said the waif. “One side of your face is caved in where your cheekbone shattered, and half your teeth are missing.”

She probed around inside her mouth with her tongue, but found no holes or broken teeth. Sorcery, she thought. I have a new face. An ugly, broken face.

“You may have bad dreams for a time,” warned the kindly man. “Her father beat her so often and so brutally that she was never truly free of pain or fear until she came to us.”

“Did you kill him?”

“She asked the gift for herself, not for her father.”

You should have killed him.

He must have read her thoughts. “Death came for him in the end, as it comes for all men. As it must come for a certain man upon the morrow.” He lifted up the lamp. “We are done here.”

For now. As they made their way back to the steps, the empty eyeholes of the skins upon the walls seemed to follow her. For a moment she could almost see their lips moving, whispering dark sweet secrets to one another in words too faint to hear.

Sleep did not come easily that night. Tangled in her blankets, she twisted this way and that in the cold dark room, but whichever way she turned, she saw the faces. They have no eyes, but they can see me. She saw her father’s face upon the wall. Beside him hung her lady mother, and below them her three brothers all in a row. No. That was some other girl. I am no one, and my only brothers wear robes of black and white. Yet there was the black singer, there the stableboy she’d killed with Needle, there the pimply squire from the crossroads inn, and over there the guard whose throat she’d slashed to get them out of Harrenhal. The Tickler hung on the wall as well, the black holes that were his eyes swimming with malice. The sight of him brought back the feel of the dagger in her hand as she had plunged it into his back, again and again and again.

When at last day came to Braavos, it came grey and dark and overcast. The girl had hoped for fog, but the gods ignored her prayers as gods so often did. The air was clear and cold, and the wind had a nasty bite to it. A good day for a death, she thought. Unbidden, her prayer came to her lips. Ser Gregor, Dunsen, Raff the Sweetling. Ser Ilyn, Ser Meryn, Queen Cersei. She mouthed the names silently. In the House of Black and White, you never knew who might be listening.

The vaults were full of old clothing, garments claimed from those who came to the House of Black and White to drink peace from the temple pool. Everything from beggar’s rags to rich silks and velvets could be found there. An ugly girl should dress in ugly clothing, she decided, so she chose a stained brown cloak fraying at the hem, a musty green tunic smelling of fish, and a pair of heavy boots. Last of all she palmed her finger knife.

There was no haste, so she decided to take the long way round to the Purple Harbor. Across the bridge she went, to the Isle of the Gods. Cat of the Canals had sold cockles and mussels amongst the temples here, whenever Brusco’s daughter Talea had her moon blood flowing and took to her bed. She half-expected to see Talea selling there today, perhaps outside the Warren where all the forgotten godlings had their forlorn little shrines, but that was silly. The day was too cold, and Talea never liked to wake this early. The statue outside the shrine of the Weeping Lady of Lys was crying silver tears as the ugly girl walked by. In the Gardens of Gelenei stood a gilded tree a hundred feet high with leaves of hammered silver. Torchlight glimmered behind windows of leaded glass in the Lord of Harmony’s wooden hall, showing half a hundred kinds of butterflies in all their bright colors.

One time, the girl remembered, the Sailor’s Wife had walked her rounds with her and told her tales of the city’s stranger gods. “That is the house of the Great Shepherd. Three-headed Trios has that tower with three turrets. The first head devours the dying, and the reborn emerge from the third. I don’t know what the middle head’s supposed to do. Those are the Stones of the Silent God, and there the entrance to the Pattern-maker’s Maze. Only those who learn to walk it properly will ever find their way to wisdom, the priests of the Pattern say. Beyond it, by the canal, that’s the temple of Aquan the Red Bull. Every thirteenth day, his priests slit the throat of a pure white calf, and offer bowls of blood to beggars.”

Today was not the thirteenth day, it seemed; the Red Bull’s steps were empty. The brother gods Semosh and Selloso dreamed in twin temples on opposite sides of the Black Canal, linked by a carved stone bridge. The girl crossed there and made her way down to the docks, then through the Ragman’s Harbor and past the half-sunken spires and domes of the Drowned Town.

A group of Lysene sailors were staggering from the Happy Port as she went by, but the girl did not see any of the whores. The Ship was closed up and forlorn, its troupe of mummers no doubt still abed. But farther on, on the wharf beside an Ibbenese whaler, she spied Cat’s old friend Tagganaro tossing a ball back and forth with Casso, King of Seals, whilst his latest cutpurse worked the crowd of onlookers. When she stopped to watch and listen for a moment, Tagganaro glanced at her without recognition, but Casso barked and clapped his flippers. He knows me, the girl thought, or else he smells the fish. She hurried on her way.

By the time she reached the Purple Harbor, the old man was ensconced inside the soup shop at his usual table, counting a purse of coins as he haggled with a ship’s captain. The tall thin guard was hovering over him. The short thick one was seated near the door, where he would have a good view of anyone who entered. That made no matter. She did not intend to enter. Instead she perched atop a wooden piling twenty yards away as the blustery wind tugged at her cloak with ghostly fingers.

Even on a cold grey day like this, the harbor was a busy place. She saw sailors on the prowl for whores, and whores on the prowl for sailors. A pair of bravos passed in rumpled finery, leaning on each other as they staggered drunkenly past the docks, their blades rattling at their sides. A red priest swept past, his scarlet and crimson robes snapping in the wind.

It was almost noon before she saw the man she wanted, a prosperous shipowner she had seen doing business with the old man three times before. Big and bald and burly, he wore a heavy cloak of plush brown velvet trimmed with fur and a brown leather belt ornamented with silver moons and stars. Some mishap had left one leg stiff. He walked slowly, leaning on a cane.

He would do as well as any and better than most, the ugly girl decided. She hopped off the piling and fell in after him. A dozen strides put her right behind him, her finger knife poised. His purse was on his right side, at his belt, but his cloak was in her way. Her blade flashed out, smooth and quick, one deep slash through the velvet and he never felt a thing. Red Roggo would have smiled to see it. She slipped her hand through the gap, slit the purse open with the finger knife, filled her fist with gold…

The big man turned. “What—”

The movement tangled her arm in the folds of his cloak as she was pulling out her hand. Coins rained around their feet. “Thief!” The big man raised his stick to strike at her. She kicked his bad leg out from under him, danced away, and bolted as he fell, darting past a mother with a child. More coins fell from between her fingers to bounce along the ground. Shouts of “thief, thief” rang out behind her. A potbellied innkeep passing by made a clumsy grab for her arm, but she spun around him, flashed past a laughing whore, raced headlong for the nearest alley.

Cat of the Canals had known these alleys, and the ugly girl remembered. She darted left, vaulted a low wall, leapt across a small canal, and slipped through an unlocked door into some dusty storeroom. All sounds of pursuit had faded by then, but it was best to be sure. She hunkered down behind some crates and waited, arms wrapped around her knees. She waited for the best part of an hour, then decided it was safe to go, climbed straight up the side of the building, and made her way across the rooftops almost as far as the Canal of Heroes. By now the shipowner would have gathered up coins and cane and limped on to the soup shop. He might be drinking a bowl of hot broth and complaining to the old man about the ugly girl who had tried to rob his purse.

The kindly man was waiting for her at the House of Black and White, seated on the edge of the temple pool. The ugly girl sat next to him and put a coin on the lip of the pool between them. It was gold, with a dragon on one face and a king on the other.

“The golden dragon of Westeros,” said the kindly man. “And how did you come by this? We are no thieves.”

“It wasn’t stealing. I took one of his, but I left him one of ours.”

The kindly man understood. “And with that coin and the others in his purse, he paid a certain man. Soon after that man’s heart gave out. Is that the way of it? Very sad.” The priest picked up the coin and tossed it into the pool. “You have much and more to learn, but it may be you are not hopeless.”

That night they gave her back the face of Arya Stark.

They brought a robe for her as well, the soft thick robe of an acolyte, black upon one side and white upon the other. “Wear this when you are here,” the priest said, “but know that you shall have little need of it for the present. On the morrow you will go to Izembaro to begin your first apprenticeship. Take what clothes you will from the vaults below. The city watch is looking for a certain ugly girl, known to frequent the Purple Harbor, so best you have a new face as well.” He cupped her chin, turned her head this way and that, nodded. “A pretty one this time, I think. As pretty as your own. Who are you, child?”

“No one,” she replied.

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