Kushluk of Skagos

[WoIaF Spoilers] Oily Stone: Yeen, Asshai, The Wall, 5 Forts, Hinges of the World

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On buying the book the first thing I did was flip to the freaky zones of nightmare horror populating the ASOIAF world: Asshai, The Five Forts, K'Dath, Leng, the Wall and then proceeded to read about every other weird place on the map that ticked my fancy, including YiTi, Sothoryos, Yeen, and the surging midnight evil of Stygai.



One theme repeatedly emerged from all of these mystic zones of evil: oily stone, cities older than time, and old ones. Yeen, a city older than time is made of oily stone. The seat of the Greyjoys is a found fragment of oily stone. And though not described as made of oily stone, the inhumanly lovely Empresses of Leng was known to copulate with old ones in unspeakably ancient subterene stone vaults beneath the rubble of ages. Oldtown, too, has a queer solid stone serving as the base for their fabled hightower, an archaism older than Valyria. The 5 Forts additionally possesses this similar architecture, and it is not far to suppose that K'Dath in the wastes, who claims to be the oldest of all cities - is made of such stone ill-omened stuff.



What does this prove? It proves than when one of the hinges of the world fails, incurable disaster scourges an entire portion of the earth - resulting in human, animal, and environmental deformities (thesis sentence). If we recall, Melissandre talks of "hinges of the world." Things turn on hinges, hinges serve as axes of movement from one way to another. In the North we have such a hinge - the Wall - it separates a sane and safe world of rule by men from a savage wasteland dominated by magic, necromancy, and barbarism. We also know of another hinge - Asshai. That hinge is posed on end. The world of Asshai is neither dominated by men nor completely dominated by creatures of shadow. Rather they exist in balance - perhaps a balance maintained by the shadowbinders.



The 5 forts seem to be a direct analogy of the wall in this regard and another hinge of the world. On one side of the barrier exists a normal and organised state society - only an Asian one instead of a Western one - and on the other side a nightmarish expanse of cannibal savagery peopled with fantastic monsters. If those forts should ever fall...



Yeen. Yeen is a place of ill omen surrounded by a miasmal hell of jungle forbidding to all true humans interested in its shores. Instead, dragon-like feral creatures, brindled men, horrible diseases, and giant snakes infest a wasted and dangerous area forbidding all tresspass.



Yeen is one version of what happens when a hinge of the world swings the wrong way. And when a hinge of the world swings the wrong way - the old ones come back, and they are not fond of humans. Remember that every attempt to resettle the seemingly untouchable city "ends in horror." That is because the old ones live there, full Lovecraft style, and they only use humankind for sport or joke. K'Dath, I have no doubt is indeed the oldest of the cities, and like Yeen sits astride a zone of perdition - and there, just as in Yeen, "the Old Ones were, the Old Ones are, and the Old Ones shall be. Not in the spaces we know, but between them. They walk serene and primal, undimensioned and to us unseen (The Dunwich Horror, HP Lovecraft)."



THAT is the mystery of the oily stones, of magic and power, of the strange seasons, and of entire areas of the world that seem shrouded in sinister diabolism.


Edited by Kushluk of Skagos

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Probably, and it seems like in the past there have been more. The thousand islands was probably one at some point, but they lost out to the deep ones beneath them and their civilization was submerged. The sacrifice of sailors to "squamous" gods by the natives reminds me of "the Doom that Came to Sarnath" where strange ancient creatures who inhabit the city of Ib return as gods from the moon to collect a human sacrifice from the men who destroyed them.



Also, the reason the people of the Thousand Islands are green: They mate with the fish gods (The shadow over Innsmouth).



I've read too much HP Lovecraft, Robert W. Chambers, William Hope Hodgeson et al....


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But then one has to wonder, what is about to happen. Clearly the hinge is blown wide open and the monsters are returning, but is it a bad thing? Is it trying to create balance? Or is it trying to overtake the world of men and bring back to the time of magic?



I don't think Asshai is in abalance either, I think they are overwhlemingly magical.



I mean, technically speaking, you can say that balance was acheived when the Targaryans conquered Westeros. But was there peace? Was their "true" balance? Maybe balance is unachievable. Maybe thats not the purpose. Maybe each side just has an era of domination and the War for the Dawn happens during every era in which one side wins. I personally do not think the Winter will be beaten back. The way the story is unfolding, it seems like it is just time for the Long Night to take over. It is just their era.


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All these Lovecraft references make me love GRRM so much more haha so interesting

Well it seems some these gods have physical forms, I like to think that some crazy fire/lava man is Rhollor somewhere in the red temple of Asshai.

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My first thought upon all the black stone references was some sort of proto- human (maybe even ancestral to the children, giants and others) civilization that was highly advanced in magic, but fell in some sort of mystical calamity. The mention a black oily stone toad idol worshipped by an ancient population on the Basilisk Isles had me thinking about Clark Ashton Smith's version of Hyperborea.

Whoever built these monuments certainly recognized the old ones, and they seem to hold sway around the black stone in modern planetos. The Seastone Chair might be a big reason why the Drowned God was never supplanted in the Iron Islands, despite the abduction of people from other portions of westeros and even the Andal invasion!

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Not all those black stones are described as oily, and that may be very important. The first level of the Hightower on Battle Island at Oldtown, the black wall in Volantis, the walls of the Five Forts, and (IIRC) the Seastone Chair are said to resemble the same heat-fused black stone that Valyrian roads are built from.


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@Ibbison: Perhaps there is a difference between oily-stone builders (old ones) and stone builders (mazemakers, and the ones you mention). Deep ones seem likely for the mazemakers and old ones for the oily-stone builders.



@motherofkitties - I see that, and the destruction of the islands is similar to lost lemeuria or atlantis. Also makes me think of "Dagon" the story, which is also a sea narrative. There is even a Greyjoy named "Dagon."



Also: The black goat of Qohor - Shubb Niggurath, the goat with a thousand young ("Whisperer in darkness" and others probably).



My gosh, we are all a bunch of Cthulu cultists here. Iä iä cuthulu f'htaghn!


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People of K'Dath are suppose to perform unspeakable rituals in order to feed their mad gods.



So many fish-folk out there. The Thousand Islanders, dwellers of Isle of Toad, Deep Ones.


And so many mazes. Mazes in Lorath, the fortress, Lengii cities.



Black Goat is Satan lol. Qohorik performs divination, necromancy and blood magic.


Edited by Mrs.Grumpy

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What this implies more than anything is that Dragons and Dragon riders once ruled Planetos. The Seastone chair all the way to Asshai were cities built from Dragons/Dragon Flame. Period.


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All the stone stuff predates Valyria and the Dragons. I am pretty sure they represent a different, and much lesser (and more human), kind of magic.


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Valyrian roads, the Black Walls of Volantis, and the Inner Walls of Tyrosh are explicitly said to be made of dragonstone. Please note: nowhere does it say that that dragons are required to make dragonstone. The Valyrians had the magical ability to shape hot stone as part of a building process. (Maester Cressen stated this in the aCoK prologue.) I personally have trouble picturing a Valyrian Dragonlord and his fearsome dragon working on a road crew. What would a Dragonlord have to do back in Valyria to get put on the s**t list for that job?



The original fort at the base of the Hightower and the Seastone Chair are said to be similar. Not necessarily identical.



The oily stone stuff seems to be around the Jade Sea and Asshai. I'm still working on a reread. If anyone sees anything else, please feel free to add it here.



The mazemakers that predated Lorath used cut grey stone. Moat Cailin used basalt blocks.


Edited by Ibbison from Ibben

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Perhaps both the Valyrian and the other type of stone are created by the same kind of magic. The difference being that the oily black stone is leaking magic somehow and poisoning.corrupting the land around it?


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Valyrian roads, the Black Walls of Volantis, and the Inner Walls of Tyrosh are explicitly said to be made of dragonstone. Please note: nowhere does it say that that dragons are required to make dragonstone. The Valyrians had the magical ability to shape hot stone as part of a building process. ...I personally have trouble picturing a Valyrian Dragonlord and his fearsome dragon working on a road crew. What would a Dragonlord have to do back in Valyria to get put on the s**t list for that job?

As do I. Valyrian Dragonlords are ostentatious people, and prideful to a fault. Making roads is peon work. Perhaps they had some kind of sorcery to do that exercised by the priests mentioned in this book. Also I think, more than ever before, Valyria does not equal ancient Rome. As (I actually forget who) pointed out, that while people often admire the power of Valyria, it is not generally held up to be a time of optimal economic and moral good times as the Roman empire was to medievals. Rather it is viewed as more of a cruel dominance thing - so maybe we should examine those straight roads in this light. Hoards of semi-trained slaves operating under a few fire mages, or something - nothing a dragonrider would stoop to doing.

As to the these various objects of stone not arising from the Valyrians, they seem intimately linked with ancestral, cthonic, or oceanic forces, primal entities or civilisations - perhaps old ones and deep ones as mentioned, but also other kinds of humans mixed with those who no longer exist. The possibilities are interesting, especially when we consider "the bloodless men", the ichthyic thousand islanders, and other freaks on the fringes of the map. Also, forgive me if I am wrong, but we never got to Ulos/Ulthos...

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I think the blackstones at various places represent an extinct race or culture that controlled dragons and probably got extinct during the LN, I think they may be the ancient race that supposedly taught Valyrians how to do the same.


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This stuff has got me wondering

Could this whole thing be cyclical? A civilization gaining the power to create such things, and being practically wiped out by a "Long Night", then the remnants undergo a dark age where only tales remain, develop, only to face their own Long Night.

If things freeze enough the land of always winter might connect to Essos, then the Deep Ones come out for the warmer climates? Hence the location of the tales? (Yi ti, Jade Sea etc)

All these hero tales may be people of a certain area finding their way to fight back against the local threat, so Hyrkoon, Eldrich Shadowchaser, Azor Ahai, the Last Hero may all be there own things and not allude to a single man.

The oily Dragonstone may retain some sort of bad mojo from the last Long Night in some areas, it may be cursed in one area (that island off yi ti) and fine in another (Volantis, Tyrosh etc)

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Ugh, let's hope time isn't cyclical in ASOIAF. That's some WoT bullshit.


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On reread, I got this -



Isle of Toads - The 40' toad statue is greasy black stone, crudely carved. (not shaped free form)



Yeen - made of oily black stone blocks. (not unitary, like Tyrosh or Volantis) Jungle growth won't go near it.



Asshai - built of black stone, has a greasy feel. Drinks in light.



I would speculate that the Hightower and Seastone Chair stuff may be from an older race that the Valyrians leaned from. We can't tell whether they had dragons or not. (Of course, Barristan told Dany that Valyrian dragons were bred for battle. Perhaps some earlier race bred construction dragons, passenger dragons, sport racing dragons, cargo dragons, dwarf flameless pest control dragons, etc... :drunk: )



The greasy/oily stuff may have been developed separately by another group.


Edited by Ibbison from Ibben

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One other thing I would like to bring up. In this book we get the hint that the seasons were not always as irregular as they are now. These "very ancient texts" suppose a natural order that the Maesters explain in their normal factual and Copernican way.



So... what changed? What did the peoples of that time, the Mazemakers, the Deep ones, the Old ones and whoever else were around - do to alter the seasons so?



It is suppose that the dragons are related to this, but I think that is only a half truth. King Robert's long summer is just as abnormal as an extra-long winter - both are alterations of the natural order. Therefore, magic was present at some level to detract from the normalcy of life somehow.



I think in this regard we can look at the hugeness of the map. and the fact that the sunset seat remains unknown to us. Just because magic in the known world is at a low ebb, we do not know that crazy magical stuff is not happening in some other zone of the world.



It is also possible that one of these very ancient socieities - K'Dath or Carcossa or one of these "first cities" has some ability, which is close to magic/science, to influence the seasons for their own gain, perhaps to take energy from different parts of the world to store up for their own use, somehow. That always seemed to be the implicit argument behind the "long summer, longer winter" idea of the commonfolk - that there was only X energy to be had, and it was distributed in a finite manner.

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One other thing I would like to bring up. In this book we get the hint that the seasons were not always as irregular as they are now. These "very ancient texts" suppose a natural order that the Maesters explain in their normal factual and Copernican way.

So... what changed? What did the peoples of that time, the Mazemakers, the Deep ones, the Old ones and whoever else were around - do to alter the seasons so?

It is suppose that the dragons are related to this, but I think that is only a half truth. King Robert's long summer is just as abnormal as an extra-long winter - both are alterations of the natural order. Therefore, magic was present at some level to detract from the normalcy of life somehow.

I think in this regard we can look at the hugeness of the map. and the fact that the sunset seat remains unknown to us. Just because magic in the known world is at a low ebb, we do not know that crazy magical stuff is not happening in some other zone of the world.

It is also possible that one of these very ancient socieities - K'Dath or Carcossa or one of these "first cities" has some ability, which is close to magic/science, to influence the seasons for their own gain, perhaps to take energy from different parts of the world to store up for their own use, somehow. That always seemed to be the implicit argument behind the "long summer, longer winter" idea of the commonfolk - that there was only X energy to be had, and it was distributed in a finite manner.

It cannot be a coincidence that Valyira is in an area called The Lands of Long Summer and the Others come from an area called The Lands of Always Winter.

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