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This chapter has thusfar been released as a sample chapter for The Winds of Winter, and might therefor not be in finalized form. Keep in mind that the content as described below is still subject to change.
|The Winds of Winter chapter|
|Chapter chronology (All)|
A girl named Mercy, short for Mercedene, wakes up after having dreamed of wolves and blood. She is in Braavos, where the day is hidden in a chilly fog. She is going to perform in a play tonight at the Gate, where an envoy from Westeros will come and watch a performance. Izembaro, the King of the Mummers, will not tolerate her being late. After scrubbing and shaving her head, so as to better keep the wigs on her head, Mercy rushes to the Gate, where she finds Big Brusco painting the sign for tonight's play: The Bloody Hand, written by Phario Forel. The Bloody Hand features characters such as the fat king, played by Izembaro, the boy king, and the demonic dwarf, played by Bobono. Mercy's character is a young, sweet maiden who will be raped and murdered by the dwarf.
Izembaro reminds them all that there will be many important people in the audience tonight, so they must be magnificent. Less than an hour is left before the shows starts, and Mercy spends her time helping the other mummers with their costumes, sticking the horn back on the Stranger, finding Izembaro's crown in the privy, finding needle and thread so the gown of the queen can be sewed back up, lacing up Bobono's fake cock, which is to be used for the raping scene, finding Izembaro's boar spear, helping Big Brusco into his boar costume, checking the knives used for the play, and pouring wine for Lady Stork.
By then, the pit is already very full. The Westerosi envoy has arrived as well, accompanied by the Black Pearl of Braavos. Mercy's friend Daena tells her that the Black Pearl descends from a Targaryen King, but Mercy states that the term "Brown Pearl" would be more fitting, due to her skin colour. They speak about the sigil of the envoy, and Daena points out that the envoy's guards have lions for their sigil. Then, Mercy sees a familiar face. She points him out to Daena, telling her she thinks he's fair to look upon. Mercy goes in search for him, pretending towards the other mummers that she's off to practice her lines for the play - it's the first time she's gotten lines in a play, and everyone expects her to be nervous to get them right.
The man Mercy is looking for is found guarding the entrance to the envoy's seating with another lion guard. The guards are discussing the length of their stay, claiming that "if he returns without gold - from the Iron Bank - , the Queen will have his head". Mercy approaches Rafford as the play begins. When they turn out not to understand Braavosi, Mercy speaks to them in broken Common Tongue, telling them that "Izembaro said to please the lords". His companion is disgusted by the thought of sleeping with a girl so young, but Rafford sees no problem. Mercy takes him back to her little room a few blocks away from the Gate, warning him they have to hurry, otherwise Mercy will miss her rape in the second act. She teases him that he could be a mummer, and that she could teach him a line to say. Once in her room, Mercy slides her finger down the inside of Raff's thigh, but when Raff insists she unlace him, Mercy tells him he's bleeding. Rafford doesn't understand, but he starts to bleed heavily, and calls for Mercy to get a healer. Mercy insists that the healer will only help those who come to him. When Rafford tells her that he can't walk, and she'll have to carry him, Mercy happily thinks to herself "See? You know your line, and so do I."
"You think so?" Arya Stark asks Rafford the Sweetling, as she takes the blade from her sleeve. She kills him, whispering "Valar Morghulis". Knowing that this will be the end of Mercy, Arya realizes she'll miss Daena, Izembaro and Bobono, but that there is no time to think about that now. Mercy still has some lines to say in the play, and she must not miss her own rape.