Warning: Spoilers for season 7 of Game of Thrones
“I have to die in this strange country. Just like you.”
To Melisandre, death prophecies are no fun unless shared with everyone. Though much happened on this week’s Game of Thrones, the Red Priestess stole the show. She not only succeeded in uniting ice and fire, but she laid the groundwork for several major twists in the final season. Melisandre may not always be the most effective prophet, but you can never fault her for being genuine, especially when her own life is on the line.
In her clifftop conversation with Varys, she revealed that her time in Westeros is short. If she weren’t secretly a decrepit, thousand-year-old woman beneath that magic necklace, we’d say she’s on a suicide run for the Lord of Light. No wonder why she’s been so eager to find her Prince That Was Promised, prematurely anointing Stannis Baratheon and burning his daughter as a sacrifice to R’hllor. She’s been on a mission, one that was destined to end with her death.
That’s dark enough on its own terms, but why must Varys also die? And why is Melisandre including him in her morbid prophecy?
Varys' Dark Past
The Spider has kept his cool throughout Game of Thrones. He has crawled through King’s Landing, sparred with Littlefinger, and crept into the court of Daenerys Targaryen unscathed. Through all of his Machiavellian tactics, we have seen Varys panic only twice, and on both occasions, he was in the company of a Red Priestess. In the events leading up to these moments, Varys mocked the ambassadors of R’hllor, spat in the face of their religion, and rejected their services.
During their run-in at the Great Pyramid of Meereen, the Red Priestess Kinvara made mention of the Spider’s most humbling hour: when he was castrated by a sadistic, “second-rate sorcerer.” As Varys’ otherwise stoic face melts into despair, Kinvara twists the blade and asks,
“Do you remember what you heard that night when the sorcerer tossed your parts into the fire? You heard a voice call out from the flames…should I tell you what the voice said? Should I tell you the name of the one who spoke?”
In George R. R. Martin’s A Clash of Kings, Varys gives more detail on this life-altering event. As the sorcerer performed his act of emasculation, he “[chanted] all the while. I watched him burn my manly parts on a brazier. The flames turned blue, and I heard a voice answer his call, though I did not understand the words they spoke.”
Those words are no secret to the Red Priestesses.