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Could the House of the Undying be the remains of a giant FireWyrm?

2 posts in this topic

I had read this theory on reddit a few months ago and I was fascinated. What do you think? 

Here's the theory:


(Spoilers Extended) The House of the Undying: Mysteries Explained (self.asoiaf)

Submitted 3 months ago * by The_Others_Take_Ya The grief and glory of my House

Tl;dr at bottom - merged it with the conclusion - This is a VERY long post, but, I think the answers I have to the questions in the bulleted list below make it worth it. ;)

Recently in a GRRM livejournal post on Jan 31st titled “A Bit More (Fake) History”, our lovely author wrote the following comparison of his writing styles between the novels and the recently published short stories:

It's water from the same well. A history rather than a traditional narrative. A lot of telling, only a little showing. (The opposite of what I do in my novels).

At the moment I read that line my brain went “Yes! YES! That’s how he hides things so well!” I had written this the week before his comment, and wondered at why these conclusions had never been brought forward before as just generally known. I think that’s why. I invite you to consider the things that GRRM shows you that bring mysteries to light by visualizing the story in your head, rather than just the literal word on the page.

This gargantuan post should answer the following questions in a unified way for you:

• Why is shade of the evening the color it is?

• What is it made of?

• What’s the mystery behind the beating heart?

• What is the house of the Undying?

• What’s going on with Drogon in the HotU chapter?

 WhoWhy do the Undying not die?

• Why is demolishing slavery so important to Dany?

• What does dragonbinder do?

• Who killed and why did they kill everyone in Old Valyria?

• Why does the door of the House of Black and White look the way it does?

These are a lot of little theories that connect together. One thing leads to and/or supports the other. Once one fact was found, others followed, which is how this writing got to be in three parts. well it was... then on posting I found I had 40K and not 10K like we used to have, so I merged it all at the last minute to hit you in one shot. Sorry if I still reference 3 parts here and there.

About shade of the evening:

In a crown of kings, we’re told Shade of the evening comes from the ebony trees outside the house of the undying. There isn’t much explanation for how it becomes the magical thing it does, however Dany’s experience drinking the shade of the evening is very similar to Bran’s devouring of the weirwood paste.

We just know it has worked for ages, long enough to build Unsullied armies and give its imbibers the name “Undying”.

In ADWD, remember that Bran’s paste had something in it that “looked like” blood – however I posit that there actually was blood in the weirwood paste. Whether or not you believe in “Jojen paste” take a look at Asha’s reaction when she examines a weirwood’s “sap” up close.

It is only sap, she'd told herself, the red sap that flows inside these weirwoods. But her eyes were unconvinced; seeing was believing, and what they saw was frozen blood.

This mirrors Bran’s reaction to the paste:

Something about the look of it made Bran feel ill. The red veins were only weirwood sap, he supposed, but in the torchlight they looked remarkably like blood.

Considering all the blood sacrifices to the weirwoods over the years, I think it’s more than likely the weirwood has always had someone’s blood coursing through it whether or not any of it is Jojen’s. This may seem rather obvious, but where there is blood, and also there is magic, we have blood magic. And what we know about that is only Death can pay for Life.

So what about the house of the undying? We know it contains powerful magic, but the trees give indigo inky sap and not red. What explains the indigo/inky texture of shade of the evening? Let’s take a look at the gigantic heart at the house of the undying.

Above it floated a human heart, swollen and blue with corruption, yet still alive. It beat, a deep ponderous throb of sound, and each pulse sent out a wash of indigo light. … There was no sound but the slow, deep beat of the rotting heart.

In the quote, Dany thinks the heart is swollen and blue with corruption, and is human, but what if this is a diversion? After all we don’t hear about the time Viserys took Dany for an autopsy so she could see the intricacies of human anatomy. (Though I wouldn’t put it past him) Consider the blue here might not be from corruption, but a result of a heart that used to pump black or inky blood that is in a stage of decomposition, yet not allowed to die. A creature whose blood waters the black barked trees outside, making them powerfully packed with blood magic that results in Shade of the Evening.

So what living being could have such a type of heart? Here are the candidates:

• Squid

• Dragons

• Firewyrms (as cousins to dragons, it’s likely they share the same type of blood)

First, the animal I think is most unlikely (I will explain why later), is squid:

the seventh black as a squid's ink.

In case you can’t remember what a Firewyrm is, here is a story from the Kindly Man in the house of black and white describing them.

"Firewyrms. Some say they are akin to dragons, for wyrms breathe fire too. Instead of soaring through the sky, they bore through stone and soil. If the old tales can be believed, there were wyrms amongst the Fourteen Flames even before the dragons came. The young ones are no larger than that skinny arm of yours, but they can grow to monstrous size and have no love for men."

Now, let’s take a look at dragon blood – which, by extension, are also likely to be the same as Firewyrm blood since they are likely kin. What proofs do we have? Septon Barth's book Dragons, Wyrms, and Wyverns also mentions them together so this is very likely, and Princess and the Queen constantly nicknames dragons Wyrms.

This is how Drogon’s wounds and blood looked and behaved while he was attacked in Meereen’s fighting pit:

Smoke rose from the wound.

His blood was smoking too, where it dripped upon the ground.

Black blood was flowing from the wound where the spear had pierced him, smoking where it dripped onto the scorched sands.

And from accounts of the doom of Valyria, described by Tyrion

…red clouds rained down dragonglass and the black blood of demons.

So the blood is hot and black. While demons might have been a description from a melodramatic history, since Drogon has the same color of blood I’m assuming here it was in fact blood from dragons and/or firewyrms and the Kindly Man tells us they both lived in Old Valyria.

When Dany drinks the shade of the evening, it describes the sensation of heat and fire to it when it is drunk. Something you would expect from a creature with smoking, fiery blood who Quaithe describes as fire made flesh. Here is how the shade of the evening is described as Dany drinks it:

The first sip tasted like ink and spoiled meat, foul, but when she swallowed it seemed to come to life within her. She could feel tendrils spreading through her chest, like fingers of fire coiling around her heart,

That sensation of heat and fire is never mentioned when Bran has his paste. I think this is another clue as to its source.

Architectural clues

Let’s take a look at other clues in an attempt to find out what kind of creature the heart belongs to. Here is what she sees on approaching the house of the Undying:

Long and low, without towers or windows, it coiled like a stone serpent through a grove of black-barked trees whose inky blue leaves made the stuff of the sorcerous drink the Qartheen called shade of the evening.

A firewyrm does not fly, it’s a large snakelike creature and this house coils like a snake, gets described as a serpent and has no windows. The fact that it’s described with no towers or windows by completely sober Dany is something you should remember, you’ll see why later.

And when she gets to its entrance:

When they reached the door—a tall oval mouth, set in a wall fashioned in the likeness of a human face

This quote only says the mouth-door is set into the wall with the likeness of a human face, the mouth doesn’t belong to the face. While Dany thinks on encountering the heart that it’s a giant human heart, I think we tend to follow her assumption because it’s easy to read past the description of the fake wall the mouth door is set into. The mouth is a real part of the creature.

Then take a look back at how she describes the roof of the building:

Black tiles covered the palace roof, many fallen or broken; the mortar between the stones was dry and crumbling.

Going with the House of the Undying=Firewyrm, the black tiles may be what’s left of the creature’s scales. I think this part is harder to prove, they might have tried to put a tile façade on the creature much like the wall that looks like a human face.

And finally, take a look at how the house of the Undying looks and reacts to Dany after Drogon burnt the heart and all of her visions are stripped away:

Outside a long dim passageway stretched serpentine before her, lit by the flickering orange glare from behind. Dany ran, searching for a door, a door to her right, a door to her left, any door, but there was nothing, only twisty stone walls, and a floor that seemed to move slowly under her feet, writhing as if to trip her. She kept her feet and ran faster, and suddenly the door was there ahead of her, a door like an open mouth.

The passageway had no doors; that was only part of the shade of the evening trip. The reality she’s experiencing now, post-trip, is that there were no doors or windows, she was in a long twisty corridor, which really, could simply have been the remains of the serpentlike beast. That matches the quote from when they first look at the house of the Undying, before she ever drank any shade of the evening.

Note the floor moving slowly under her feet and writhing. If her shade of the evening trip is over and she snapped out of it when Drogon burned the Undying and the heart, then this is actual movement. They are specifically described as writhing and not shaking. I think this is the result of the firewyrm finally dying after having its heart ripped up.

GRRM also points out the door is “like an open mouth” again. Dany doesn’t realize it IS a mouth, hence her use of the simile in her POV.

The Undying’s true appearance

Also, in the midst of her vision, there is a part where a fake Pyat Pree tempts her, note her description once she refuses him:

She walked away from him, to the door on the right.

"No," Pyat screeched. "No, to me, come to me, to meeeeeee." His face crumbled inward, changing to something pale and wormlike.

I think this small “room” that she avoids is a future hint of what happens in the chapter. He’s pale and wormlike from consuming the shade of the evening which is made with the worm and then described as crumbling which is exactly what happens to the House.

In the very next phrase, she’s musing on her actions as compared to the House she saw before she entered it, which I think is a deliberate clue:

Dany left him behind, entering a stairwell. She began to climb. Before long her legs were aching. She recalled that the House of the Undying Ones had seemed to have no towers.

Once you have a description of the Undying themselves, after all the illusions are stripped away, they have become reminiscent of what they feed off of, much like Pyat in the vision:

But then black wings buffeted her round the head, and a scream of fury cut the indigo air, and suddenly the visions were gone, ripped away, and Dany's gasp turned to horror. The Undying were all around her, blue and cold, whispering as they reached for her, pulling, stroking, tugging at her clothes, touching her with their dry cold hands, twining their fingers through her hair.

And why were they after her? Well I think it’s safe to say the same thing the entrapped firewyrm probably had done to it.

Be paralyzed. Be consumed.

All the strength had left her limbs. She could not move. Even her heart had ceased to beat. She felt a hand on her bare breast, twisting her nipple. Teeth found the soft skin of her throat. A mouth descended on one eye, licking, sucking, biting . . .

I will now shift to showing that the fact the firewyrm was enslaved has greater ramifications towards the full narrative, which is why GRRM didn’t make it easy to notice.

Drogon’s reaction and behavior towards his “kin”

At the beginning of the chapter, here’s how Drogon reacts to the sight of the house:

Even Drogon seemed disquieted by the sight of it. The black dragon hissed, smoke seeping out between his sharp teeth.

Drogon sees something not right about this building, from the hiss he seems quite pissed. While he can’t talk like most characters, I think he recognizes the firewyrm for what it is, better than any of the human characters.

Take a look at what he does to the heart once he gets deep inside and attacks:

Perched above her, the dragon spread his wings and tore at the terrible dark heart, ripping the rotten flesh to ribbons, and when his head snapped forward, fire flew from his open jaws, bright and hot. She could hear the shrieks of the Undying as they burned,

He KILLS his kin and then KILLS the undying. Why would he do this? What Drogon does brings to mind two stories of ancient times.

First the story of Nissa Nissa – the magical part of her that fueled Lightbringer was her heart:

Azor Ahai thrust the smoking sword through her living heart. It is said that her cry of anguish and ecstasy left a crack across the face of the moon, but her blood and her soul and her strength and her courage all went into the steel.

It was her heart that powered the magic of the sword Lightbringer, here we have the giant heart of the firewyrm being fed on and used by these Undying. The magical source of a magical being that contains their blood soul strength and courage being used by the parasitic Undying. Remember too, the weirwoods are also called “heart trees”.

Second, review the story the Kindly Man tells Arya about slaves and masters dying in Old Valyria:

I have told you of the founding of our order, of how the first of us answered the prayers of slaves who wished for death. The gift was given only to those who yearned for it, in the beginning … but one day, the first of us heard a slave praying not for his own death but for his master's. So fervently did he desire this that he offered all he had, that his prayer might be answered. And it seemed to our first brother that this sacrifice would be pleasing to Him of Many Faces, so that night he granted the prayer. Then he went to the slave and said, 'You offered all you had for this man's death, but slaves have nothing but their lives. That is what the god desires of you. For the rest of your days on earth, you will serve him.' And from that moment, we were two."

Knowing what we know about the heart being the source of the magical sword Lightbringer and also that Drogon essentially killed this Firewyrm and the Undying so they couldn’t use the firewyrm anymore, then that leads us to the fact that the firewyrm was a slave, and Drogon killed the slave and the masters. I think it’s highly likely Drogon is a servant of death. A “faceless dragon” if you will, and he gave his enslaved cousin and his slavers the gift.

You may think “why didn’t he strike earlier?” well I can give you a couple reasons for that. First, he’s still a just a wee dragon, and the House/Firewyrm is huge, he waited until he could be assured he would be able to kill properly by taking out the beast’s heart. Older dragons are tougher, attacking the outside had less chance of working, and after an outside attack they would never have let him inside. Second, Dany still wanted in so she could go talk to the Undying, he’s still bonded to her, and I think he respected that. Once they finally attacked her it was his obvious time to strike.


Once you see that this firewyrm was enslaved, it opens the possibility for Dragons to have been slaves too. In fact I think we have some gentle word hints pointing us in that direction:

The ship's mates had been free men, but the widow of the waterfront had written them a binder, promising to stand their ransom in such a case as this. The three surviving fiery fingers had not been sold yet, but they were chattels of the Lord of Light and could count on being bought back by some red temple. The flames tattooed upon their faces were their binders.

So the binder is what is used to show that person is already earmarked as property of someone else, and therefore can’t be put into slavery to the party holding them.

Remember that the magical horn used to get a dragon for you that was always used in Valyria, (but never used in Westeros where slavery was against the law) was called dragonbinder. I think this horn, along with the kiss of life ceremony used to resurrect people now used in their present day by R’hllorites, was the sorcerous horn and spell used to make a dragon property of a person back in Valyria’s day. The kiss of life returned someone from the dead, so that after blowing the horn and dying they’d get their dragon anyway. I think this is a big clue that shows us that the Dragons of Old Valyria were slaves and not free.

I think this hint is fashioned in a similar way to “tears of Lys”=”Lysa” the poisoner. Hidden in right in the words.

This can help explain a lot of Dany’s motivations towards slavery, as the dragons’ mother, she has been bonded to them in a way similar to the Starks and their direwolves. While she doesn’t seem to see through their eyes, there are many moments and dreams that can be found where they seem to be emotionally bonded. She sprouts wings and flies as a dragon itself, Drogon visits her before he’s hatched covered in her blood, the countless times “waking the dragon” echoed in her dreams.

And from this bond, if the dragons were, as faceless men, against slavery because of their history, then much of Dany’s drive and motivation to eradicate it is likely shared with them. Certainly, her quest to free slaves was kicked into overdrive after the events of the House of the Undying. Even the first slaves she encountered, Unsullied, regularly consumed shade of the evening in order to numb them to pain. These same slaves were shaped by fire and blood magic in the story. So they in turn, have the blood of dragon kin in them too, just like Dany.

Once in Meereen, in order to make peace with the slavers it takes her locking her dragons away and Drogon flies far away from her, and she’s distanced herself from her Dragons. She denies an instinctive part of her much like Robb did with Grey Wind at the Red Wedding in order to deal with the practical realities at hand.

We know that didn’t end well for Robb.

The founding of the faceless men and all the involved parties

I think the Children of the Forest had a longstanding relationship with Firewyrms, just like the giants. We see them living in these twisty caves and caverns, and in the days of Old Valyria, the Children must have found out the firewyrms were enslaved, either from their travels like Leaf talks of, or from their communications with them via their songs. I think this is who the Children with Bran are singing to in the caves when they sing at the rushing water, we know there are fish in those underground rivers, so something can survive in there. In fact, it think it’s via these songs that they coordinated large scale events like breaking the arm of Dorne and flooding the neck that were talked about in history. These tunneling firewyrms probably helped to terraform the Westeros and perhaps even Braavos we have in the present day story.

So once the Children went down to Old Valyria to see what was going on, they saw what slavery was doing to their allies, and arranged for the first death of the slave. Whether firewyrm or human slave, more and more died. The shared ranks of the faceless grew. Over time I think the faceless men worked to kill all the firewyrm, dragon and human slaves of Old Valyria because they wanted to die, and in the process, they arranged for the Targaryens to have a new kind of bond with the remaining living dragons and altogether they agreed to “serve death” for the debt incurred by freeing the enslaved dragons by death via the doom. I think this was a Pact 2.0 that was created at the founding of the hidden city of Braavos. A city that we are told had the same characteristic of city of the Children of the Forest, in that it was hidden and as we see with many weirwoods in Westeros, existing on islands.

If Pact 1.0 was between Man and the Children to stop their war, and resulted in the founding of the Stark line, then Pact 2.0 was between Man, the Children and the firewyrms with their dragon kin, in order to stop the enslavement of man, firewyrm and dragon by man. I believe this resulted in an intermarriage of the Stark and Targaryen line in order to solidify a complimentary bond with their new allies who were previously enslaved, the dragons. Read on the upcoming section on the doors of the House of Black and White for why I think this.

Echoes of the pact in the narrative

People often think Braavos did not like the Targaryens because “they do not jest of dragons” but Braavos’ history was that they choose that location and its fogs to hide from the dragons of Old Valyria. When it comes to the Targaryens and their dragons, they actually were on the same side of a war against slavery as told to the (probably fake) Aegon VI by his Maester during the lesson Tyrion listens in on:

Braavos provided a Lyseni exile with a hundred warships, Aegon Targaryen flew forth from Dragonstone on the Black Dread, and Myr and Lys rose up in rebellion. The war left the Disputed Lands a waste, and freed Lys and Myr from the yoke.

Therefore I think I’ve clearly shown that the Targaryen dragons were against slavery, while the dragons of Old Valyria probably were slaves.

Braavosi religion

Consider that the dominant religion on Braavos for Braavosi are the moonsingers and it’s the moonsingers who led them to the hidden city. Martin repeatedly mentions how the direwolves are howling to the moon and the moon talks to them while we’re in their wolf dreams. Conversely the moon even talks back (this could have been Bloodraven, a Targaryen, talking to Ghost-Jon), and the legend of dragons is that they come from the moon.

When the Targaryens invaded Westeros, it was not made clear what religion they worshipped, however, they felt free to take on the faith of the seven as their own faith despite that. I think this is another sign that they served death, as the aspect of death is present in all religions, and in some way whether it’s through stone statues like the dragon statues at Dragonstone, or the very personified wooden statues that the High Septon is praying to as he arrests Cersei, I think through the weirwood network the many faced god watches, communicates and enacts his will through them all.

One moment that I think is telling is in Dunk and Egg, The Mystery Knight. In the church where Lord Butterwell is praying, it’s written that a single candle is lit to the stranger, whose statue is shrouded in shadow. In the same story Bloodraven is disguising himself with a glamour and assuming a different name. It has been often mentioned that no one really prays to the stranger, but yet we have evidence someone did here at this tourney.

The doors of the house of Black and White

If you look at the doors of the house of the black and white’s building, there is a black and white moon face on it (books only). The Stark sigil has a white background, while the Targaryens have a black background while the faces of the direwolf and three headed dragon are absent (faceless sigils?). I think this indicates the two houses and the two sources of power (weirwoods and the paste and ironwood with the nightshade) coming together in agreement to serve death, who is really the heart tree network populated by children of the forest and by human greenseers where the base of power for two houses comes from.

Dany actually sees these doors in her House of the Undying vision, but they actually look quite different. It’s a small detail, and I think most readers read right past it this because they have a pre-set mental image of what the door usually looks like. Just throw that away for a second… visualize what GRRM wants to show you…

To her right, a set of wide wooden doors had been thrown open. They were fashioned of ebony and weirwood, the black and white grains swirling and twisting in strange interwoven patterns. They were very beautiful, yet somehow frightening.

Do you see it? The doors are not one side black and one side white. In her vision the two colors of grains (think tree rings on a stump, those rings are the grain of the wood) are specifically swirling and interwoven. If the door is based on the faceless house sigils, (or even, perhaps, the sigils based on this door) white weirwood Starks and man were blood sacrificed to and the ebony wood the black wooded trees the firewyrm was blood sacrificed to, then I think this vision was to show Dany how the two houses are intermixed now in a way that they weren’t before.

This mixing of houses adds up to a simple formula in our story: R(black grains) + L(white grains) = J (union of houses)

But lets take it back a few generations shall we?

Aegon, the Dragon and the Conqueror

This means Aegon the Conqueror, also known as “the dragon” had the Stark blood in his veins. Remember there was also a curious saying about “the dragon” - who is always considered a person. Dany and Rheagar are/were blood OF the dragon, but the saying goes “the dragon has three heads”. I think those heads are direwolf, dragon and human heads. This is entirely speculation, but I think Torrhen, the King who knelt, didn’t just kneel because he saw dragons. I think a few things happened other than him kneeling to an overwhelming threat.

First I think his bond with the weirwood communicated to him that it was OK to kneel, remember that Ned traditionally sat before the weirwood to cleanse himself after executions. This Stark bond probably lasted centuries, and could possibly have been even stronger when the Kings of Old still had direwolves beside them.

Second, I think he saw Aegon had a direwolf as well, and when he did, that helped Torrhen realize they were cousins and he was kneeling to family. When the story begins, we hear that direwolves were not seen south of the wall for a few hundred years, I think the dying out of the direwolves happened because those bonds shifted to their new Targ cousins post-pact 2.0.

Tl;dr and Conclusion:

Because of all of the above I think the House of the Undying was made out of a Firewyrm and shade of the evening was made from the tree paste of trees that are fed from the blood of that Firewyrm which gives them their black bark and inky leaves. Firewyrms have no love of men because they were enslaved by men for their magical properties. Dany nearly escaped the same fate as the entrapped worm.

Drogon wasted the heart of the firewyrm because he’s a faceless dragon and he gave the gift to his kin and his kin’s enslavers. Dragonbinder IS a dragon binder – meaning it made a dragon property, i.e. a slave. Dany’s unconsciously motivated against slavery by her dragon bond. Braavos was founded as a result of “Pact 2.0” that merged the bloodlines of Stark and Targaryen.

Moonsigners were Starks. The doors of the house and black and white are the faceless sigils of Stark and Targ (no direwolf or dragon heads) merged to form one organization. Aegon’s Stark lineage is hinted at in the oft repeated “three heads of the dragon” because the third head was a direwolf. The king who knelt, knelt to family and knew it.

There is more, (there is always more) in case you haven’t had enough already, but I’m going to keep to this for now. Some of that “more” can be explored in my older posts or go ahead and ask me questions.

I'm in the middle of reading the second book of the Dune Chronicles, Children of Dune. I know this post shows parallels to that story. If you do post some second + Dune book spoilers, would you mind spoiler tagging them for me, please and thank you? :)

EDIT: I'm concerned the civility in some of these replies is lacking. I did write:

"This is entirely speculation," and then went on to state my points. My concern here is that because of the lack of civility in these replies, these replies are inadvertently dissuading the greater community from posting something simply because it doesn't fit what certain people think.

I write this for the benefit of others reading. Please don't be scared off just because your opinions may be challenged.

Some below are treating this like my speculation has to be 100% proven, when really I have what I think are some good facts and premises that make up an interesting conclusion and I'm personally betting on this being the way the story goes. Yes, Aegon was known as "the dragon" check Dany I in AGOT when she first tells us about him. It's also one of his aliases on his wiki page. "the dragon has three heads" is about a single entity, not multiples, so my thought is it's about one person.

If you want to disagree with me, go right ahead. :) My intent is not to frustrate anyone, just to present ideas.

Have a nice day!


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The author expended a great deal of effort. 

I will say this, if the Palace of Dust was shaped like a Firewyrm, it is more likely that the builders knew the same stone shaping technique that the builders of Dragonstone did. 

Shade of the Evening.  It opens the mind and dulls the senses.  Really?  It dulls the senses but you can only do that if you also dull the person's resistance.  It's anesthesia for the nerves and the mind.  It opens the person to manipulations and suggestions.  The roots entering Bloodraven's skull would cause pain unless he's been completely numbed from drinking the potion. 

Drogon.  He has a strong bond with Dany and I think he knows when she's in danger.  You only have to reread the chapter on Daznak's Pit for confirmation.  The direwolves protect their humans and it is reasonable to assume that the dragons also protect their humans.  Dany won the mind games in the HotU.  But they finally got the upper hand when she sat at the table and started to listen. Temptation, the hunger for knowledge.  Magic was winning over intellect until Drogon came to the rescue.  Drogon knew the danger and started attacking the bi-colored door immediately. 


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