“I drew him forth myself. He was scaled like a lizard, blind, with the stub of a tail and small leather wings like the wings of a bat. When I touched him, the flesh sloughed off the bone, and inside he was full of graveworms and the stink of corruption. He had been dead for years.”
-Mirri Maz Duur, describing Rhaego
How very convinient that the infant's flesh began to fall apart right as Mirri touched it, and before anybody else could see it. Did anyone else actually see the child emerge from Dany's womb? We presume Jorah was in the tent, but was he watching the actual birth? He was grievously wounded at the time as well: how much blood does one lose from a gash to the bone in one's leg? Was he concious at all? All Jorah has to say on the matter is what "the women" say. What women? The Dothraki healers were afraid to even come near the tent, remember? How long after the birth did "the women" see the child? Were they preparing the corpse for burning? Or is "what they say" just gossip?
In other words, whose word do we have on the state of the child besides Mirri Maz Duur's?
Even if we assume someone else has seen the body, how hard would it have been for Mirri Maz Duur to take the child and hand it off to some of the other lamb-people, who later escaped during the chaos of Drogo's illness and death? If compelled to produce a corpse, her story of a twisted misshapen thing "dead for years" and stank like death could have been just about anything. Some creature she had kept preserved in a jar in that chest of hers, perhaps.
Mostly, I suspect this because we saw no body, we only heard of the event second-hand. Also, of all the prophecies in the novels, the ones concerning Rhaego are the only ones that simply CANNOT come true. No other visions are "what might have been" except those about Rhaego... why? Other visions have been MISINTERPRETED, sure, but with every one we could later go back and say "Okay, so Renly's ghost didn't ACTUALLY lead the army, the vision was of someone else in his armor" and so on. There are, as far as I can tell, ZERO other prophecies which are flat out wrong. Why? As a writer, why would Martin do this, make every other prophecy, (and prophets in ASoIaF are a dime a dozen, from fools to warlocks to fiddlers to priests) come true, but leave only the ones concerning a single individual unable to come to pass?
Also, for what it's worth, Duur seems to cleverly avoid confirming the death:
“You cheated me. You murdered my child within me.”
“The stallion who mounts the world will burn no cities now. His khalasar shall trample no nations into dust, “
Which she might really believe, if he's being raised by the lamb-men.
EDIT: I wrote, later, a longer post detailing several things with the given narrative that don't make sense re: the actions of MMD, as well as a more concrete and narrative description of what exactly I hypothesize occurred.
Q: If Mirri Maz Duur's treatment was to kill Drogo, then why did it do so, if he neglected the treatment?
Despite his bluster, Drogo's wound was terrbible, a cut all the way to the muscle. By all appearances, Mirri Maz Duur appeared to treat Khal Drogo's wound faithfully. He neglected her precise instructions, refusing to use the ointments she gave him and taking opiates and drinking alcohol. If her treatment was to blame for his illness later, why did it not take effect until 6 days after he had stopped following it? Surely she could have easily given him a faster acting poison. On a narrative level, why would the author tell us, the readers, that Drogo had neglected the treatment if we are meant to believe the treatment is what made him ill?
She is a healer, a woman of faith, and a bringer of life into the world. She explains her willingness to treat the Khal thusly: “All men are one flock, or so we are taught. The Great Shepherd sent me to earth to heal his lambs, wherever I might find them.” It is entirely possible, despite the grim take on humanity found in these novels, that Mirri Maz Duur is a good person. A Maester will council and serve and heal an enemy of his lord if he takes the castle: MMD's oath to her god seems to be in the same vein, akin to the Hippocratic oath of our world's healers.
A: Maybe she let Khal live in the short-term so she could kill Rhaego later
Dany had already agreed to have Mirri Maz Duur act as midwife. If she had wanted to kill Rhaego that could have easily been accomplished then. It is a simple matter for a midwife to kill an infant in childbirth: strangle it to cut off blood to the brain, snap it's neck, or pinch off the umbilical cord to withhold blood from the baby, and all of these would appear to be entirely normal birth complications. No need for theatrics and dark magics, dark magics which insured the Maegi would be killed by the superstitious Dothraki. She could have posed as a healer of no arcane talents, still impressed Dany/Jorah into midwifing for her by dropping Marwyn's name, and killed BOTH the Khal and the young stallion and (possibly) lived to tell about it.
The only death her magics ensured was her own.
Q: Why warn Dany at all bout the price, if the purpose of the spell was to kill Rhaego?
“Do it,” Dany blurted. She must not be afraid; she was the blood of the dragon. “Save him.”
“There is a price,” the godswife warned her.
“You’ll have gold, horses, whatever you like.”
“It is not a matter of gold or horses. This is bloodmagic, lady. Only death may pay for life.”
“Death?” Dany wrapped her arms around herself protectively, rocked back and forth on her heels. “My death?” She told herself she would die for him, if she must. She was the blood of the dragon, she would not be afraid. Her brother Rhaegar had died for the woman he loved.
“No,” Mirri Maz Duur promised. “Not your death, Khaleesi.”
Dany trembled with relief. “Do it.”
The maegi nodded solemnly. “As you speak, so it shall be done. Call your servants.”
Khal Drogo writhed feebly as Rakharo and Quaro lowered him into the bath. “No,” he muttered, “no. Must ride.” Once in the water, all the strength seemed to leak out of him.
“Bring his horse,” Mirri Maz Duur commanded, and so it was done.
"Sure, I can save him, no prob. Just sit right there and watch, okay?" Why warn Dany at all about the price, if the price was her child, and not the horse?
Q: If we are to believe that Mirri Maz Duur wanted Daenarys' baby to be destroyed by the spell, why did she explicitly command her to exit the tent, and not reenter?
“Go with them, Silver Lady,” Mirri Maz Duur told her.
“I will stay,” Dany said. “The man took me under the stars and gave life to the child inside me. I will not leave him.”
“You must. Once I begin to sing, no one must enter this tent. My song will wake powers old and dark. The dead will dance here this night. No living man must look on them.”
"Yeah, okay" said Mirri Maz Duur. "Stick around, this is really cool." That's all she had to say, if the death of Rhaego were her goal. Why would she instruct her, in no uncertain terms, to leave and not come back?
Q: Why heal Drogo at all?
So she performs what appears to be a very dangerous and difficult spell to partially ressurect Khal Drogo, knowing that it will not do so satisfactorily, and knowing that it will kill Rhaego. Why would she bother ACTUALLY healing Drogo? Why not just cast a "make baby die" spell? She had to know she would have been murdered by the Dothraki either way. So why bother healing the Khal at all, even to his mindless comatose state? Why bother?
Q: Why were the Llazareen in Dothraki territory?
Ser Jorah said the people of this country named themselves the Lhazareen, but the Dothraki called them haesh rakhi, the Lamb Men. They were herders of sheep and eaters of vegetables, and Khal Drogo said they belonged south of the river bend. The grass of the Dothraki sea was not meant for sheep.
So then why were they there? Why build a settlement right where they knew marauding barbarians like to come and murder people? This seems rather foolish, for what appears to be a peaceful people. Further, why would GRRM tell us they were out of place? What narrative purpose does that serve?
Hypothesis: Mirri Maz Duur is a prophet, who has recieved visions of the future. She has been acknowledged to have had contact with Maester Marwyn, the only Maester who seems to care about prophecy, and many readers have already interpreted her statement to Dany about Drogo's return as prophetic: “When the sun rises in the west and sets in the east. When the seas go dry and mountains blow in the wind like leaves. When your womb quickens again, and you bear a living child. Then he will return, and not before.” and Maegis have been shown to be prophetic in the past. She knows the importance of Rhaego to the future of the world, and puts her people into harms way. They build the settlement north of the river, where they know the Dothraki will raid, because MMD knows with them will be the woman who carries Azor Ahai reborn, and that it is her fate to bring him into the world.
Mirr Maz Duur knows Khal Drogo's protection is the child's best chance at safety growing into adulthood: she she sees the wound she does her utmost to save him, and treats him as well as she can. However, because Drogo ignores her advice the wound festers and he becomes very ill. Still holding on to hope that Drogo will survive to raise Rhaego, she attempts her blood magic in an earnest attempt to save him. However, her bloodmagic fails, perhaps because (once again) her explicit instructions were not followed, and the tent was breached, and she had to interrupt her spell to deliver Rhaego.
“Princess, hear me. The Dothraki will not follow a suckling babe. Drogo’s strength was what they bowed to, and only that. When he is gone, Jhaqo and Pono and the other kos will fight for his place, and this khalasar will devour itself. The winner will want no more rivals. The boy will be taken from your breast the moment he is born. They will give him to the dogs...”
Jorah Mormont saw this, surely Duur would have as well. Her only chance at saving the life of this all-important child would be to smuggle it out of the Dothraki camp. At this point she is alone in the tent: Mormont is almost certainly passed out or delirious from the massive wound on his thigh, and no Dothraki is willing to come near the tent. Once she delivered the baby her plan had to change: to save Rhaego she would have to lie, say the baby died. But she would have no corpse, no evidence, and the lie might not be believed. She didn't have much to work with, but her chest contained a large variety of unknown elements. I hypothesize one of the items contained in that chest was the preserved body of some creature of about the right size, something scaly and with wings, matching how the child would later be described. She also added maggots ("grave worms") which would be a staple in any medieval healer's chest to help obscure the inhuman nature of the body.
The real Rhago she hid inside her chest, likely mildly drugged to keep him from wailing. She later took the chest to the other Llazareen slaves: how isn't clear, but it's also not terribly important, nor is it implausible; she may have instructed Dany's khas to fetch her some assistants from wherever the slaves were; they had proven willing to fight to the death to protect MMD on Dany's orders, and Aggo was the one who suggested she be taken to the Maegi in the first place, so it seems unlikely he would object to the request or question it. Later the slaves would take the chest away. In the coming hours (or days) they would escape as the chaos surrounding Drogo's illness splits apart the Khalasar.
Q: So why did Mirri Maz Duur act like she had done all this on purpose?
She was a prophet, and she so she knew what she had to do, and she was willing to die for the sake of the world. Dany had to have her dragons, and Mirri Maz Duur knew how to give them to her. Mirri knew that she had to die to give the dragons life, and so she said what she said to provoke Dany into sacrificing her upon Drogo's altar. From there, her spell would be seen as nothing more than the dying wails of a woman burning to death. The dragons would be seen as a divine gift, not the product of the magic the Dothraki revile so thuroughly. Mirri's magic hatched the dragons and protected Dany, though the Maegi died in the fire, sacrificing herself so the world would know dragons once more.
Edited by Damon_Tor, 04 February 2013 - 07:15 AM.