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|Born||In 263 AC or 264 AC|
A Feast for Crows (appears)|
A Dance with Dragons (appears)
|Played by||Faye Marsay|
|TV series||Season 5 | Season 6|
The waif is the name given by Arya Stark to a priest of the Many-Faced God in the House of Black and White. Her real name is unknown. She appears to be a young girl, but is truly a grown woman, thirty-six years old.
The waif appears to be a pale little girl with a gaunt bony face, hollow cheeks, and very large dark eyes. She wears the cowled robe of a priest of the Faceless Men, black on the right side and white on the left side.
The waif was once the only child of an ancient noble house, her father's heir. Her mother died when she was very young, too young to remember her. When she was six years old, her father remarried. Her stepmother treated her well, until she gave birth to a daughter of her own. Her stepmother then wanted the girl to die, so that her own daughter would inherit her husband's wealth. The stepmother could not bear the sacrifice that the Faceless Men would ask of her, so she tried to poison her stepdaughter herself. She did not succeed, although the poison left the girl with a permanent child-like appearance. When the healer in the House of the Red Hands told the girl's father what the stepmother had done, he offered a sacrifice to the Many-Faced God, offering two-thirds of his wealth and his daughter, so that the Faceless Men would deliver the gift of death to his wife. His prayer was accepted, the stepmother was killed, and the girl came to the House of Black and White to serve.
She is now a woman grown, who has spent her life serving the Many-Faced God, and will never have any children. Some days she leads the dawn prayer of the priests and acolytes within the House of Black and White. She frequently deals with poison, including emptying a flagon of poison into the euthanasia pool in the House of Black and White every evening. That, as well as her original poisoning by her stepmother, gives her the appearance of a child.
A Feast for Crows
Arya Stark enters the House of Black and White in Braavos, and encounters a priest who looks like a little girl, who does not speak the Common Tongue of Westeros. Arya becomes a novice of the Faceless Men, and the priest she calls the kindly man assigns the waif to teach her the language of Braavos, and then how to detect lies. In exchange, Arya teaches her the Common Tongue, which the waif learns quickly. One time when they are playing the "lying game", the waif reveals that she is not a child, but actually thirty-six years old.
Later, Arya has been living as "Cat", selling fish on the streets of Braavos, but returns to the temple each new moon to serve there for three days. One time that she returns, she helps with waif with her preparation of potions, while the waif explains the properties of different poisons to her. The waif also relates her history to Arya. Later that evening, Arya tells the kindly man that she has killed Dareon, and the kindly man requests that the waif bring Arya some warm milk. The milk smells burnt and has a bitter aftertaste, and the next morning Arya wakes up blind.
A Dance with Dragons
Every night, the waif brings Arya a cup of poisoned milk that keeps her blind. Arya knows that if she asks for her sight, the Faceless Men will send her away, so she drinks without complaint. The waif trains Arya how to deal with her blindness, including how to use a staff, as well as an adaptation of the "lying game" that works by tone of voice and feeling facial muscles. The waif also teaches her how to tell coins apart by touch alone. When Arya dresses as "Beth", a blind beggar, the waif shaves her head and applies mummer's makeup on her face. After Arya has passed the last test of her blindness, the waif gives her a cup that tastes of fire, and in the morning Arya's eyesight is restored.
For her test to become an acolyte of the Faceless Men, Arya is assigned to kill an insurance agent who has cheated the heirs of his client. Arya decides to use poison, and the waif helps her with that. The kindly man says that Arya must wear a new face for the assassination, and the waif assists him with applying the face to Arya.
The waif: Who are you?
Arya Stark: No one.
The waif: You lie. You must lie gooder.
Arya Stark: Gooder? You mean better, stupid.
The waif: Better stupid. I will show you.
—The kindly man
Arya Stark: How long must I be blind?
The waif: Until darkness is as sweet to you as light, or until you ask us for your eyes. Ask and you shall see.