Lucius Lovejoy

R'hllor vs. The Drowned god

17 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

Hey guys, I've only read the books once and am gearing up for round two.  While reading AFFC and ADWD I was pestered by this notion that the R'hllor religion and the Iron Born religion may be very tightly connected, possibly being the same thing.  I am most interested in both religions being dualistic, with the red religion having R'hllor and The Great Other who's name shall not be said, and the Iron Born having the Drowned god and the Storm god.  It doesn't take much to connect the Storm God and R'hllor, what with Stannis being from Storm's End, and storms/thunder/lightning being similar to fire.  Likewise, Melisandre's distrust of Patchface, outright stating he is a creature of the Great Other, makes the connection between the Great Other and the Drowned God (also, the deep sea water is very dark and full of terrors, and ice/water connection).  Plus there is a resurrection aspect to both religions with the drowing/revival ("what is dead may never die") and the last kiss or whatever it is that Thoros does to keep bringing back Beric.  Finally we've got both Theon and Asha in Stannis' camp right now, Patchface with Mel & Selyse, and Moqorro with Victarion, so we've got some compelling pairings of characters in the same place.  If the Drowned God = the Great Other then it also will better connect Euron to the northern story with the Others as being the human Big Bad.

This is all pretty basic stuff, though having re-read everything and being relatively new (7 months or so) to the book world and this forum I haven't gotten the chance to develop any theories (crackpot or otherwise) on how it all neatly adds up, and browsing the forums haven't seen any that put it all together.  Can anyone point me to any compelling theories or threads on the connection between the R'hllor and Iron Born religions and how it may impact the story going forward?  Thanks!

Edited by Lucius Lovejoy
Spelling corrected

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The Rhoyne worshipped turtles!  The Qohori has the Black Goat.  George said we will not see god in ASOIAF.  At least not a god as we define it today.  These are just spiritual representations to focus people's beliefs.  For all we know, just like the wizard in the Wizard of Oz, there's a few prune-like, dried up telepaths sitting in the dark beneath a weirwood telling people to worship a black goat/red god/weirwood/drowned god.

I don't have anything to point to a connection between the Red God and the Drowned God.  These are ancient, barbaric religions and not too much better than the Old Gods.  The RG and the OG practiced human sacrifice.  The DG tries to drown you.  I guess that is the connection.  

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They aren't connected at all. The Drowned god is part of the pre-pact westerosi pantheon, along with the storm god, the lady of the waves and the lord of the skies. Mel does not like any god other than hers. When she sees Bran and Bloodraven in a vision she thinks they are the great other as well

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The duality of a god associated with fire/storm/war battling another associated with water or darkness, often in the firm of a serpent, crops up in a lot of  mythology, goes right back to Indo-European origins.  

I think the Ironborn are more Viking with a dash of Cthulhu.  Tentacles are always worrying.

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@Lucius Lovejoy  I've been chewing on something similar lately. Think I just created more questions for myself, but I'll toss this into the ether in case you find it interesting/helpful.

I’ve been able to discern some patterns by breaking things down to the four elements: air, earth, water, fire. It’s not perfect by any means and trying to force things into clean categories gets sort of messy. Gods, houses, even specific characters (even non-magical ones!) seem to have primary, secondary, tertiary associations to the four elements if not connected to all four. I think sorting things into element associations can shed light on some dark corners, but I don’t think it’ll explain everything. Guessing that this is intentional.

The Others themselves might actually be water in its purest state. To be liquid water you need to add heat, so without fire (water’s opposite) it can only be ice. The Drowned God is linked to liquid water which might indicate that being a hybrid of water with some fire tossed in.

 

From the wiki: http://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/Grey_King

Legends say the Grey King slew the sea dragon Nagga, after which the Drowned God turned the sea dragon's bones to stone. From the bones was made the Grey King's Hall, which he heated with Nagga's living fire.[4] He took a mermaid as his wife so his children could live on land or in water. He also wore a crown of driftwood so all who knelt before him would know his power came from the sea and the Drowned God himself.[3]

The Grey King brought fire to the earth by taunting the Storm God into setting a tree on fire with a thunderbolt. He taught men to weave nets and sails. The Grey King allegedly carved the first longship from the pale wood of Ygg, a demon tree which fed on human flesh.[3][4]

The Grey King's skin turned as grey as his hair and beard as he ruled over centuries. He eventually he cast aside his driftwood crown and walked into the sea to descend to the watery halls of the Drowned God to take his place at the right hand of the god.[3] The Storm God snuffed out Nagga's fire after the Grey King's death and the sea stole his throne, with Nagga's bones the only remnants of the Grey King's Hall.[1]

 

This would explain the Iron Born’s association with fire: iron itself is connected to fire (Others hate iron), the myth of the Grey King, Nagga’s bones, and We Do Not Sow and Dragons Plant No Trees are very similar family mottos. Interestingly, both mottos are in opposition to the element of earth/Weirwoods. The Starks have a very contentious history with both the Ironborn and the Targs.

In Greek myth, there are Titans, the forces of raw nature themselves, and then there are the Olympians, the gods who master the forces of nature, and they represent man’s dominance over nature and the creation of civilization. The Storm God (Air), the Others (Water), Old Gods (Earth), and Rhllor (Fire) all seem like the Titans of Planetos and fit pretty cleanly into the four-element pattern if one looks at them broadly, but when delving into the details things get murky.  The other god figures have connections to fire: Drowned God, the Storm God (lightning), the Weirwood looks like fire (red leaves) and light (white wood), and Others have the ability to burn with Ice.

Bran the Builder by building the Wall and Storm’s End is a sorta Olympian of Planetos: A man mastered the forces of nature. Likewise, the Grey King. Dany’s dragons might be Titans, the element of fire made flesh, and Dany herself would be an Olympian, as she masters and harnesses the element of fire.

Just to make my point further about the elemental breakdown shedding light on things, I’ll apply it to the Stark kids. Four Stark kids, four elements (sorry Rickon).

  • ·         Bran is mastering Earth magic. He’s in a cave, tapped into trees.

  • ·         Arya is possibly mastering water magic. The FM oppose fire. Their magic is about changeability and water is the most changeable of the four elements being able to take vapor, liquid or solid forms. Water’s shape changes to that of its container.  So what the FM do might be a form of water magic as they put on a “container” in the form of a face and become no one, or let the container shape them. Now Nymeria’s name makes sense, if Arya is in fact mastering a water magic from the the Rhoyne. Also, a lot of Syrio’s instruction to Arya can be summarized as “be like water”, and in fact, she was learning water dancing. It can be argued that Arya is a Bolton having been married by proxy via Jeyne Poole. The Boltons do skin like the FM, and seem rather different. Maybe Other-y. If the Boltons are in fact connected to the Others, and what they do sounds similar to what the FM do, then the Boltons performing a similar water magic and being connected to the Others makes sense.

  • ·         Jon is linked to fire.

  • ·         Sansa is left with air, and is already connected to air through the Eyrie and the “little bird” nickname. She’s often described as wearing sky blue. I’m not exactly sure how this could play out in the story, but if Sansa could warg Lady’s spirit who is obviously non-corporeal, then she could sort of warg air, or something like that. RL gods associated with death are often connected to air because that’s where spirits/souls are perceived to hang out. Lady’s death may have been necessary to connect Sansa to air.

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Posted (edited)

One compelling theory is the "Bloodstone Compendium" theory from "Mythical Astronomy of Ice and Fire," which tries to extrapolate a consensus sequence of events based on all the world mythologies that seem to describe similar events.

It works from the assumption that most mythology is a dim sort of symbolic remembrance of history, and that a lot of mythology that is said to be about people in the real world is actually about astronomical phenomena, climate, and natural disasters.

The "gods" are not what we would think of as a monotheistic "god" - singular transcendent creators that are also ethical arbiters and wardens of the afterlife (except insofar as much as the afterlife in this story is something that can be affirmatively asserted to exist with evidence) - but are personifications of celestial objects, natural (or magical) organisms or phenomena, or powerful, legendary figures whose importance has been inflated even more over time to divinity. 

Here's what Lucifer Means Lightbringer and his associates came up with:

- All this stuff happened a really, really, really long time ago, so everybody's names have changed or have been forgotten. So don't put a lot of stake in "R'hllor" or "The Great Other" or "The Grey King" or any of that. The actual people and things they might refer to probably had different names at the time.

- The planet used to have two moons, Westeros and Essos used to be connected along a land bridge where the Narrow Sea now is (the "arm of Dorne"), and Pyke and Sea Dragon Point used to refer to a peninsula that used to stick out into the sea where the Iron Islands now are.

- The core event, chronicled in many ways in the myths of different cultures, is that, during a solar eclipse, some dark blood and fire wizard caused a white and blue comet to change trajectory, turn red and break in half. Half the red comet kept going in a big orbit (that's the red comet we see in the story), and the other half hit the moon and destroyed it - shattering it and causing a whole bunch of debris to fall down to the planet.

- The debris kicked up huge clouds of dust, which blacked out the sun for years and caused the Long Night.

- Three big pieces of debris in particular changed the landscape - one chunk hit the arm of Dorne and broke it, one chunk hit off the coast of Pyke, shattering the peninsula into Islands and swamping it with tsunamis, and either this impact or some other impact caused the flooding of the Neck at Moat Cailin. I haven't finished the whole theory yet (it is dozens of hours of podcasts long), but I would add to that that I believe the God's Eye is a crater lake from an impact of another chunk of the debris.

- The guy who caused all this was the guy remembered as "Azor Ahai," which, translated from Sanskrit means, roughly, "The Red Dragon." The Red Dragon was not necessarily a good guy, but by any reasonable standard was at least somewhat of a Very Bad Dude. He was probably an undead greenseer and dragonrider necromancer. The story of him creating Lightbringer by stabbing his wife is likely a symbolic retelling of him making the flaming comet plunge into the moon - though he also probably had a flaming sword.

- Valyrian Steel is likely made from fragments of the meteorites that fell from the moon, forged with blood and fire magic. Azor Ahai/The Red Dragon is the same guy as the Bloodstone Emperor of eastern myth and is associated with red and black.

- The "Great Other" is whoever or whatever The Red Dragon was going after when he blew up the moon - it was possibly some sort of internecine greenseer conflict, between different groups of intelligent life that were hooked into the magic of the trees - human greenseers versus children of the forest greenseers, or greenseers who loved nature versus greenseers who loved civilization and technology. We don't really know. One speculation I like is that the weirwoods of the west are a Pando-style clonal colony, all conncted with each other through their root systems to some sort of intelligence that either resides within the root system or lives deep underground and accesses the system through the roots - and Azor Ahai/ The Red Dragon brought down the moon and blotted out the sun to try to kill it or take control of it. But that's really deep speculation and not part of the core theory.

- The Others have something to do with all this, but it isn't clear exactly what - whether they were created by this sequence of events, or in advance of it, or people used magic to transform themselves into ice people in order to survive the Long Night that was thrust upon them, rather than cause it themselves - and maybe now they are back and out for vengeance? It's not clear.

But what does seem a bit clearer is the following:

- The Church of R'hllor is a distant descendant of the cult of the Bloodstone Emperor and his Church of Starry Wisdom. Their intentions should absolutely not be taken at face value, if they even know what it is. R'hllor is not a sentient entity, but a description of the phenomenon of blood and fire magic - perhaps some part of Azor Ahai / The Red Dragon is still alive in it somewhere lending it some piece of his consciousness? Maybe?

- The Drowned God is the chunk of the moon that destroyed the Pyke peninsula and created the Iron Islands, which is now deep underwater and has magical properties - the Seastone Chair is a piece of it, and with the right blood and fire magic, parts of it can be worked into powerful magical weapons. The Ironborn are named for their ability to forge this magical metal from the moon into weapons no one in Westeros could match, and for invading from the sea armed with these weapons.

- The Grey King, the legendary founder of the Ironborn race, was a powerful greenseer who saved his people from this cataclysm in a giant ark made of weirwood and carried them to Westeros. The ark is actually lying in plain sight - once they made landfall on Old Wyck, its overturned hull was made into the Grey King's palace - the bones of Nagga the Sea Dragon are actually the weirwood supports of the ship's overturned hull (weirwood does not rot and petrifies after a thousand years).

- The Drowned God being in league with the Great Other may refer to the Grey King being a greenseer on the other side of the conflict from Azor Ahai / The Red Dragon - or being some sort of refugee or traitor who left his Great Empire of the Dawn for Westeros and was kind of "voted off the island" by the Church of R'hllor.

There's a lot more to it, and I'm editorializing a lot, but that's enough of it for one post.

Edited by GyantSpyder

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Could it possibly be that all the god stuff in the books is a shout out to the modern day world? As in, my god is the only god?

Poor god whatever its name is gets the short end of the stick every time. Its just sittin’ up in the heavens looking down smiling and sometimes crying thinkin’ the piss ants will never learn, they just keep killing each other in my name.

Dogma, a principle or set of principles lain down by an authority as incontrovertibly true. How many times throughout history has god been blamed for atrocities that humanity committed?

Take a gander at the list of religions Martin wrote into his story.

http://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/Religion

In the particular instance of Mel and her R'hllor there is an adversary. The Great Other, whose name can't be mentioned.

Smoke and mirrors, the Ironborn hold a man under water long enough to almost drown him, yank the man out of the water, and if the timing isn't quite right, and he can't be revived, blame the death on god.

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Thanks for the responses guys.
@Lollygag, I hadn't really considered the connection of the two religions as part of a broader connection between the classical four elements before.  I was pondering something perhaps more obvious and more specific to the two religions.  I've read some posts on the importance and significance of the classical elements in ASOIAF, but never heard of any specific associations with each Stark child.  Interesting read.

@GyantSpyder I have not read the "Mythical Astronomy of Ice and Fire" - is this another GRRM sanctioned project like TWOIAF (which I have not yet read) or just an extremely long and detailed theory based on the ASOIAF, TWOIAF, and Dunk&Egg canon?  Your post has lots of information and theory which I'm being exposed to for the first time that doesn't seem obviously extrapolated from the book series, so before I can better judge it I'm curious as to the source.  Definitely something I'll need to look into.

@Widowmaker 811 and @Clegane'sPup though it doesn't reflect my personal view of the real world, within ASOIAF I think that GRRM is working to an endgame where either all of the religions converge into some sort of Universalism where none of the gods are worshipped / all of the gods are worshipped in their own way but recognized as one (many faced god style).  This may become something all survivors of the long night realize, or it may be a truth that only a few central characters find.  It is possible that the Iron Born religion and the R'hllor religion are the first to fall, with the faithful being irrevocably shaken due to the failures of Stannis/Aeron/Euron/LSH/Dany or something else.  Not sure what to make of it.

Really what I'm hoping to find is that some of the Drowned god prophecy/foreshadowing can help predict the future events for the R'hllor backing characters, and vice versa.  I'm just not certain there is anything there.  But I can't believe GRRM didn't make these two religions so eerily similar and then pair up many of their most prominent members going into the 2nd to last book for no particular reason.

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4 minutes ago, Lucius Lovejoy said:

Thanks for the responses guys.
@Lollygag, I hadn't really considered the connection of the two religions as part of a broader connection between the classical four elements before.  I was pondering something perhaps more obvious and more specific to the two religions.  I've read some posts on the importance and significance of the classical elements in ASOIAF, but never heard of any specific associations with each Stark child.  Interesting read.

@GyantSpyder I have not read the "Mythical Astronomy of Ice and Fire" - is this another GRRM sanctioned project like TWOIAF (which I have not yet read) or just an extremely long and detailed theory based on the ASOIAF, TWOIAF, and Dunk&Egg canon?  Your post has lots of information and theory which I'm being exposed to for the first time that doesn't seem obviously extrapolated from the book series, so before I can better judge it I'm curious as to the source.  Definitely something I'll need to look into.

@Widowmaker 811 and @Clegane'sPup though it doesn't reflect my personal view of the real world, within ASOIAF I think that GRRM is working to an endgame where either all of the religions converge into some sort of Universalism where none of the gods are worshipped / all of the gods are worshipped in their own way but recognized as one (many faced god style).  This may become something all survivors of the long night realize, or it may be a truth that only a few central characters find.  It is possible that the Iron Born religion and the R'hllor religion are the first to fall, with the faithful being irrevocably shaken due to the failures of Stannis/Aeron/Euron/LSH/Dany or something else.  Not sure what to make of it.

Really what I'm hoping to find is that some of the Drowned god prophecy/foreshadowing can help predict the future events for the R'hllor backing characters, and vice versa.  I'm just not certain there is anything there.  But I can't believe GRRM didn't make these two religions so eerily similar and then pair up many of their most prominent members going into the 2nd to last book for no particular reason.

I would start with https://lucifermeanslightbringer.com/2016/08/25/the-grey-king-and-the-sea-dragon/ and http://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php?/topic/145328-the-grey-king-fought-garth-the-greenhand/

before your re-read.

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21 hours ago, Lucius Lovejoy said:

 

@GyantSpyder I have not read the "Mythical Astronomy of Ice and Fire" - is this another GRRM sanctioned project like TWOIAF (which I have not yet read) or just an extremely long and detailed theory based on the ASOIAF, TWOIAF, and Dunk&Egg canon?  Your post has lots of information and theory which I'm being exposed to for the first time that doesn't seem obviously extrapolated from the book series, so before I can better judge it I'm curious as to the source.  Definitely something I'll need to look into.

...

Really what I'm hoping to find is that some of the Drowned god prophecy/foreshadowing can help predict the future events for the R'hllor backing characters, and vice versa.  I'm just not certain there is anything there.  But I can't believe GRRM didn't make these two religions so eerily similar and then pair up many of their most prominent members going into the 2nd to last book for no particular reason.

You should definitely listen to Crowfood's daughter, but to answer your question, all this mythology analysis is extremely long and detailed fan theories. And extrapolating it takes a lot of work, but people have done a lot of work on it since the books started coming out 20 years ago, so there's a lot to sift through.

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On Invalid Date at 7:25 PM, Dorian Martell's son said:

They aren't connected at all. The Drowned god is part of the pre-pact westerosi pantheon, along with the storm god, the lady of the waves and the lord of the skies.

You mean the gods of the First Men? That's very possible. Join the Merling King and Garth the Green.

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23 hours ago, Lucius Lovejoy said:

@Clegane'sPup though it doesn't reflect my personal view of the real world, within ASOIAF I think that GRRM is working to an endgame where either all of the religions converge into some sort of Universalism where none of the gods are worshipped / all of the gods are worshipped in their own way but recognized as one (many faced god style).  This may become something all survivors of the long night realize, or it may be a truth that only a few central characters find.  It is possible that the Iron Born religion and the R'hllor religion are the first to fall, with the faithful being irrevocably shaken due to the failures of Stannis/Aeron/Euron/LSH/Dany or something else.  Not sure what to make of it.

Really what I'm hoping to find is that some of the Drowned god prophecy/foreshadowing can help predict the future events for the R'hllor backing characters, and vice versa.  I'm just not certain there is anything there.  But I can't believe GRRM didn't make these two religions so eerily similar and then pair up many of their most prominent members going into the 2nd to last book for no particular reason.

I don’t think there is any religious endgame in this saga. I think the religions in ASOIAF are merely part of Martin’s world building exercise. An example of what I am trying to articulate is that most human beings believe in something greater than themselves, be it  deity or ethic. Does not matter what country or culture a person lives in, the person adopts the norm of where they were born and raised. Until the individual starts to question the dogma the individual keeps doing the same thing over and over.

Most religions in the real world are eerily similar. I am not an academic who has studied religion. I have though gone on my own search for clarity as it relates to my life. Fundamentalists and extremists terrify me.

As to Euron and the Ironborn – I do hope Euron summons the Drowned god. I hope the Drowned god is a huge kraken. I hope that kracken snatches Euron off of the deck of his ship and takes Euron to the watery depths. My statement about this fictional character and his brethren may sound harsh and judgmental.  Tough shite.

What I take away from ASOIAF saga is that people believe what they believe and use that belief to justify their actions. Most every character is this saga believes that they righteous in their behavior.

The question is how to live harmoniously. Isn’t going to happen. AND I give you a thumbs up :thumbsup: and a :grouphug:.

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Posted (edited)

Another idea that is posted around this kind of discussion and that might be relevant to your ideas is that the story itself might be mythological in nature.

As in, mythologies and religious often repeat similar sorts of symbols in different contexts with different holy or sacred figures, and also frame historical figures in that symbolism.

In the Bible, some might say this works through the hermeneutics of "typology" - you have people in the book who might be considered to be prefigured by earlier people, or considered an aspect of another person, or are re-accomplishing something somebody else accomplished a long time ago.

So, we might be sitting around waiting for Azor Ahai to come back, or for somebody to be clearly identified as Azor Ahai, when in the story Azor Ahai consists of multiple different types, and he has already come back as manifest in the types of other characters in the story (Jaime is a type for Azor Ahai as solar lion and defender of humanity, Beric Dondarrion is a type for Azor Ahai as a reborn fire warrior, Daenerys is a type for Azor Ahai as a dragon bringing fire from the East, etc.).

Or, we might be seeing the events of the story as causally happening in "the real world" and the events of the in-universe religions as happening in "the symbolic world" when the events of the story are actually happening also in "the symbolic world" and are already symbolically reflecting the in-universe religions constantly - as if the person telling the story is remembering something from the past and putting it in the context of the symbols of their culture.

For example, is "Daenerys Stormborn" a "real person" about whom we are reading a narrative account or a "mythological figure" about whom we are reading a remembered story?

And if the story we are already reading is mythological and symbolic in itself, then we don't have to wait for the religions and symbols to synthesize at some future time - it is already happening constantly.

For example, Neo from The Matrix (the first one or two anyway) is figured as a sort of identity-queer Christ figure with a death, transfiguration, and resurrection. If you thought "hmm, Neo is a lot like Christ, I wonder if he will turn out to be Christian or meet robot Jesus" that kind of misses the point. Neo is not an actual person. Tyrion, Jaime, Daenerys, none of these are real people. To us, Neo is closer to the level of reality of Jesus than the level of reality of a personal friend you or I might know on the street - in the context we hear about him (a story), he represents ideas and values and truths about the universe as much as he lives experiences. The "meeting" has already happened.

Of course real vs. fictional is not a necessary condition for what is symbolic or mythological. Lots of real things are also mythological. And real people can also be highly symbolic. It's more about how it all functions.

Edited by GyantSpyder

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Posted (edited)

And to add to this - the more the way everybody's experiences as described in the story are figured mythologically and coincidentally resemble important symbolic things (like, for example, Joffrey cutting the pie and all the pigeons flying out before being poisoned and dying, which echoes a bunch of lore from the various in-universe religions), the more I think that the characters in the story might  not "actually" be alive and fully in control of themselves, but are experiencing some sort of altered state of consciousness (like a version of The Matrix in the weirwood net, or the influence of some other not-entirely-human mental influence), a la GRRM's "The Glass Flower" or "This Tower of Ashes."

Edited by GyantSpyder

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25 minutes ago, GyantSpyder said:

And to add to this - the more the way everybody's experiences as described in the story are figured mythologically and coincidentally resemble important symbolic things (like, for example, Joffrey cutting the pie and all the pigeons flying out before being poisoned and dying, which echoes a bunch of lore from the various in-universe religions), the more I think that the characters in the story might  not "actually" be alive and fully in control of themselves, but are experiencing some sort of altered state of consciousness (like a version of The Matrix in the weirwood net, or the influence of some other not-entirely-human mental influence), a la GRRM's "The Glass Flower" or "This Tower of Ashes."

Donald, stop.

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11 minutes ago, Clegane'sPup said:

Donald, stop.

JUST GIVE ME ANOTHER BOOK PLEASE THAT'S ALL I ASK THX

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17 minutes ago, GyantSpyder said:

JUST GIVE ME ANOTHER BOOK PLEASE THAT'S ALL I ASK THX

Sorry, I got locked out for a few minutes

.

 

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