Valar Morghulis. All men must die. This is the motto that Arya Stark has chosen to live by.
In the past five seasons of “Game of Thrones,” fans have watched Ned and Catelyn’s plucky daughter take on various disguises and aliases as she escapes the clutches of the House Stark’s most bitter enemies. Along the way, she has transformed from a tomboy with a thirst for adventure and swordplay into a bitter, vengeful young woman who seeks bloody revenge on those who have slaughtered those dear to her.
This journey has been fueled by her constant jump from one traveling companion to another. Some of those companions have been mentors. Others have been captors. But it is The Hound, Sandor Clegane, who has had the biggest hand in turning Arya into the cold killer we have seen in recent episodes.
It is Clegane, a knight once sworn to protect the spoiled boy king Joffrey Lannister, who introduces death into Arya’s life when he kills her friend Mycah in the series’ second episode. It is also Clegane who bears witness to Arya’s first kill, when she brutally stabs the soldier who desecrates the corpse of her brother, Robb. While forced to travel with her bitter enemy, Arya becomes increasingly callous and gains a sick taste for dealing out lethal retribution to the biggest scumbags in Westeros.
But as we return to Arya’s story this season, we find her paying the heavy price of revenge. After leaving Sandor Clegane to die after an intense sword fight, Arya travels to the island of Braavos to join an elite league of assassins known as the Faceless Men. The Faceless Men teach her how to disguise herself using the faces of the dead, with the caveat that she must only grant the “gift” of death to those whom she is assigned to give it to.
Instead, she uses her powers for revenge and kills Meryn Trant, a corrupt knight who killed her swordfighting teacher in Season 1 and who rapes and beats children for kicks. As punishment for breaking the cardinal rule of the Faceless Men, Arya is rendered blind by magic in the season finale.
How will Arya cope with her new predicament? Will she find a way to get her sight back, or will she continue to lose herself to death and bloodshed? We’ll find out starting Sunday night, when Season 6 of “Game of Thrones” premieres.
For now, we can look back at the major milestones on Arya’s path to becoming the most vicious wolf in Stark history, in the gallery below.