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The Brightfyre Theory: Addendum


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I started to take notes that I post here long time ago. I did not know in which thread I could have posted them; or which title I could have used if I decided to start a new thread. As the text grew bigger and bigger, it seemed to me that this collection is better suited to be posted under the Brightfyre Theory but it is locked here. That is why I decided to start this addendum.

In the text, I sometimes use phrases like 7th Blackfyre Campaign without pointing the Brightflame involvement. It is just for convenience, nothing more. People have varying opinions about the involvement of Aerion’s line in the Brightfyre Theory but that is only a minor issue. The spirit of the Brightfyre Theory is common in any version, i.e. the line of Aerion Brightflame (bastard and/or trueborn) joined the last Blackfyres and they have been plotting against Egg’s line. IMO, The Brightfyre Conspiracy accounts for the 7th Blackfyre Campaign and Blackfyres are calling the shots, which is not a problem for the Brightflames in this union.

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Foreshadowing for the 7th Blackfyre Campaign

He slew Aegon first, the elder of the twins, for he knew that Daemon would never leave the boy whilst warmth lingered in his body, though white shafts fell like rain. Nor did he, though seven arrows pierced him, driven as much by sorcery as by Bloodraven’s bow. Young Aemon took up Blackfyre when the blade slipped from his dying father’s fingers, so Bloodraven slew him, too, the younger of the twins. Thus perished the black dragon and his sons.

I always take this as evidence that there were 6 Blackfyre Rebellions in the past and fAegon’s campaign will be the 7th and the last. Bloodraven pierced Daemon with 7 arrows until he dropped dead. This symbolically represents that the Black Dragon Cause took a wound by each failed rebellion. The 7th Campaign will come to an end with fAegon’s demise, thus the Black Dragon will perish completely.

So far, there are 5 confirmed Blackfyre Rebellions in the past. There is a room for the 6th but it lacks direct textual evidences, except such foreshadowing and symbolism.

Black or Red, a Cherry Is Still a Cherry

I think there can be found additional symbolism showing that fAegon’s campaign will be the 7th.

Beneath his window six cherry trees stood sentinel around a marble pool, their slender branches bare and brown. A naked boy stood on the water, poised to duel with a bravo’s blade in hand. He was lithe and handsome, no older than sixteen, with straight blond hair that brushed his shoulders. So lifelike did he seem that it took the dwarf a long moment to realize he was made of painted marble, though his sword shimmered like true steel.

Illyrio claims that this statue is his own and carved when he was 16. The appearance of the statue also resembles fAegon remarkably. By the way, Illyrio claimed that he was a poor bravo working with Varys when they were young but we see that he was rich enough to hire an artist to make a wonderful marble statue of him at the age of 16. Isn’t there a big fat lie as Frey Family Reunion pointed out before?

Illyrio smiled as his serving men spooned out bowls of black cherries in sweet cream for them both.

There are six cherry trees with bare branches around the statue. I bet the black cherries Illyrio served Tyrion were collected from the bare cherry trees in the garden. Hence, these must be black cherry trees as befits the Black Dragon. Therefore, this garden is something like the Black Dragon Museum.

There are many kinds of cherries including the red ones and the black ones, though cherries are mostly red and the first color comes to mind when we think of a cherry is red. There is a specific color called cherry red and it is mostly associated with deceptions, more on this later.

We would naturally assume that the bare cherry trees produce common red ones until Illyrio served Tyrion the black ones. Unifying this with the statue that looks almost real, I think the symbolism here suggests that the boy who looks real enough to be a red dragon is actually a black dragon. And since there are 6 cherry trees and a boy’s statue, this boy should be the 7th. His sword looks like true steel because fAegon will at some point wield Blackfyre which is indeed true steel. I think he will use it very well because it is in his blood.

We know from TSS that Ser Eustace buried his sons who died for the Black Dragon in the Battle of Redgrass Field under blackberry bushes. Whenever there is a specific mention of blackberry or black cherry, we should look for a possible connection with the Blackfyres. Same is also true for plums. Sometimes we see the mention of black or dark plums. We will also come to that later.

Seven Skulls

There is another bit of foreshadowing for the black dragon’s return.

Later that same day, a fishing ketch was taken by Seven Skulls and Thrall’s Bane. She was a small, slow, dingy thing, hardly worth the effort of boarding. Victarion was displeased to hear that it had taken two of his own ships to bring the fishermen to heel. Yet it was from their lips that he heard of the black dragon’s return.

Of course they were referring to Drogon but such a strong expression (the black dragon’s return) hits me and makes me think of a possible secret meaning behind, which is usually the custom of GRRM.

We know that the skulls are associated with the GC because they use gold-dipped skulls of the past captain-generals mounted on pikes like standards.

Victarion captured a slaver galley from which he took seven girls taught in the art of seven sighs. They had been destined to the pleasure houses of Lys (Serra anyone?).

Victarion burned these girls as sacrifices on that very fishing ketch which had been captured by the Seven Skulls and had brought the news of the black dragon’s return.

GRRM likes to play with certain numbers and tries to load them with symbolic meaning. Here, he is hard pressing on the number 7 and the black dragon’s return.

Snarling in the midst of all

“Dragons old and young, true and false, bright and dark. And you. A small man with a big shadow, snarling in the midst of all.”

I think these dragons are real people with Targaryen blood. Tyrion is right in the middle of these dragons so he has to be related to them one way or another. IMO, the most reasonable explanation is that Tyrion met or will meet all of these people and each of them is a different person, coming in meaningful pairs. Also the dragons are described as they are when Tyrion met them, not before or after. This is important because when Moqorro told him this, Aemon was most probably dead.

Here is my interpretation:

Old Dragon – Aemon

Young Dragon – Jon

True Dragon – Dany

False Dragon – fAegon

Bright Dragon – Varys Brightflame

Dark Dragon – Illyrio Blackfyre

The discussion for this interpretation is here.

Tyrion filled a cup, and a flagon for good measure, and carried them up to the gardens to drink beneath those cherry trees he’d seen.

As it happened, he left by the wrong door and never found the pool he had spied from his window, but it made no matter. The gardens behind the manse were just as pleasant, and far more extensive.

Tyrion could not find the cherry trees and the statue that represent the history of the Black Dragons (which we called the Black Dragon Museum). So, he went to a different section of Illyrio’s gardens.

Dany and Viserys never saw the statue as far as we know. That is probably because Illyrio never showed them. Since Tyrion wore fAegon’s old clothes, it is possible that Tyrion also stayed in the old bedroom of fAegon. The windows of this room might be one of the few windows to see this secret part of the garden where the Black Dragon Museum is found. I think the passage to the garden should be somewhat complicated or even hidden since Tyrion was not able to find the way, although he was sober and sharp at that time.

Instead, Tyrion visited the public sections of the gardens where Viserys and Dany probably had been. We can take it as a foreshadowing that Tyrion will follow the footsteps of Dany and his way will intersect with hers at some point.

Legacy of the Black Dragon

“How fares our lad?” asked Illyrio as the chests were being secured. Tyrion counted six oaken chests with iron hasps. Duck shifted them easily enough, hoisting them on one shoulder.

Illyrio sent six chests and one of them had Blackfyre within. This is the symbolic legacy of the past six Blackfyre Rebellions. In a way, 7th Blackfyre Pretender carries the legacy of his predecessors with him.

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Cherry red (or red cherries) symbolizes deception.

“And now his Watch is done,” Jon murmured softly. Mance Rayder had been a man of the Night’s Watch once, before he changed his black cloak for one slashed with bright red silk.

Up on the platform, Stannis was scowling. Jon refused to meet his eyes. The bottom had fallen out of the wooden cage, and its bars were crumbling. Every time the fire licked upward, more branches tumbled free, cherry red and black.

Here the man who was burned was actually Rattleshirt.

The king plunged into the fire with his teeth clenched, holding the leather cloak before him to keep off the flames. He went straight to the Mother, grasped the sword with his gloved hand, and wrenched it free of the burning wood with a single hard jerk. Then he was retreating, the sword held high, jade-green flames swirling around cherry-red steel. Guards rushed to beat out the cinders that clung to the king’s clothing.

Jade-green flames were due to Mel’s feeble alchemist tricks involving the usage of wildfire. Here, the sword of Stannis was fake and wearing a glamor.

“A taste for the khaleesi? I have a sweet red from Dorne, my lady, it sings of plums and cherries and rich dark oak. A cask, a cup, a swallow? One taste, and you will name your child after me.”

The wine was poisoned and this was the deception. Note that the wine was indirectly described as cherry red.

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Touch of Red

I think the cloak of Mance can give us some hints about fAegon conspiracy. First, let us revisit the burning of Mance. At that moment, we thought that Mance was done but it turned out that he was not the one who got burned. Seems similar to how the Blackfyres are thought to be extinct but they are actually alive and kicking, doesn’t it?

“And now his Watch is done,” Jon murmured softly. Mance Rayder had been a man of the Night’s Watch once, before he changed his black cloak for one slashed with bright red silk.

Up on the platform, Stannis was scowling. Jon refused to meet his eyes. The bottom had fallen out of the wooden cage, and its bars were crumbling. Every time the fire licked upward, more branches tumbled free, cherry red and black.

The black cloak slashed with bright red silk… bright red silk… Wow!

The brothels in KL are found in the Street of Silk. Thus, I think the bright red silk is Serra Brightflame, who was found in a Lysene pillow house according to Illyrio. The union of the black cloak with the bright red silk is the union of Illyrio Blackfyre and Serra Brightflame.

When the lad emerged from the cabin with Lemore by his side, Griff looked him over carefully from head to heel. The prince wore sword and dagger, black boots polished to a high sheen, a black cloak lined with blood-red silk.

That is almost the cloak of Mance.

Mance is the King-beyond-the-Wall. Similarly, the Blackfyres can be styled as the King-across-the-Narrow-Sea. Both kings and their successors regularly plague the realm.

“The black wool cloak of a Sworn Brother of the Night’s Watch,” said the King-beyond-the-Wall. “One day on a ranging we brought down a fine big elk. We were skinning it when the smell of blood drew a shadowcat out of its lair. I drove it off, but not before it shredded my cloak to ribbons. Do you see? Here, here, and here?” He chuckled. “It shredded my arm and back as well, and I bled worse than the elk. My brothers feared I might die before they got me back to Maester Mullin at the Shadow Tower, so they carried me to a wildling village where we knew an old wisewoman did some healing. She was dead, as it happened, but her daughter saw to me. Cleaned my wounds, sewed me up, and fed me porridge and potions until I was strong enough to ride again. And she sewed up the rents in my cloak as well, with some scarlet silk from Asshai that her grandmother had pulled from the wreck of a cog washed up on the Frozen Shore. It was the greatest treasure she had, and her gift to me.” He swept the cloak back over his shoulders. “But at the Shadow Tower, I was given a new wool cloak from stores, black and black, and trimmed with black, to go with my black breeches and black boots, my black doublet and black mail. The new cloak had no frays nor rips nor tears . . . and most of all, no red. The men of the Night’s Watch dressed in black, Ser Denys Mallister reminded me sternly, as if I had forgotten. My old cloak was fit for burning now, he said.

“I left the next morning . . . for a place where a kiss was not a crime, and a man could wear any cloak he chose.”

Mance nearly died wearing his black cloak; which is similar to how the Black Dragon nearly perished when Maelys died on the battlefield. Note that a black shadowcat savaged Mance whereas Maelys was slain by Barristan, who is called a white shadow.

Wounded Mance got help from a natural enemy of the NW, a wildling woman. He was healed by magic and more importantly, his association with the black was disrupted by the red silk. From that point on, his heart was no more completely black. Hence, the wounded Black Dragon Cause should get help from a natural enemy, i.e. the Red Dragon. I can’t think of any Red Dragon who can join the Black Dragon other than Aerion’s descendants?

The black cloak of Mance which was sewed by red silk can also represent a wedding cloak and the joining of the Black Dragon with the Red Dragon through marriage. A woman who gives her greatest red treasure as a gift to a man reminds me of Lysa and how she gave LF her maiden’s gift.

Since Mance was later given a new cloak with no red, the union of the Black Dragon with Red must have faced a strong opposition in the order (the GC).

Mance left the order (the NW) for a place where a kiss was not a crime. Is that the kiss in the wedding of the Black Dragon and the Red Dragon? I think so. The old school GC should have seen this wedding as a crime, no more than the old school NW considering Jon’s policies (including the unification of wildlings and the Northmen through marriages like Alys-Sigorn) as a crime.

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Great thread. The first Brightfyre thread already convinced me, but this is even better. I never thought about it, but Tyrion has indeed met all of the dragons Moqorro mentioned (save for Dany, but we know due to GrrM's recent interview that their paths will "intersect".

My only question is, do you think GrrM will explain Illyrio and Varys's lineages in the text, or will it be left as an Easter Egg for readers to figure out? I have the feeling that when Aegon is inevitably fried, his genealogy may be null and void anyhow. Do you think the books will explicitly confirm all of this then?

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This was very well put together. Hats off!

I'm really excited to read your Varys' history section; I figured he has some connection to the Blackfyre's, but it does make sense that either he or Illyrio would be a Brightflame.

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Though perhaps it deserves its own thread, I think GRRM has some special numbers (especially the number six) by which he means to create symbolism occasionally. When we see six things in the text, most of the time we can ask why there are six of those things instead of five or seven or any arbitrary number.

In the end Halder and Horse had to pull him away from Iron Emmett, one man on either arm. The ranger sat on the ground dazed, his shield half in splinters, the visor of his helm knocked askew, and his sword six yards away. “Jon, enough,” Halder was shouting, “he’s down, you disarmed him. Enough!”

For example, Emmet wakes the dragon during the training and Jon tramples him. In the end, Emmet’s sword was flown off his hand six yards away. Why six yards?

fAegon has been called a well-made youth with lanky build same as Emmett and he was also proficient with the sword just like Emmett who comes from the Eastwatch to CB to have his training with Jon. Perhaps his coming to West and being defeated by Jon (the rightful Targaryen king) represents the Blackfyre Rebellions coming from the East. The Blackfyre Cause is very much related to the sword Blackfyre and Emmet's sword was six yards away from him in the end. This might represent the 6 previous Blackfyre Pretenders defeated during the reign of Targaryen kings.

I shall, the dwarf was thinking, when he spied a rippling ahead not six yards from the boat. He was about to point it out to Lemore when it came to the surface with a wash of water that rocked the Shy Maid sideways.

It was another turtle, a horned turtle of enormous size, its dark green shell mottled with brown and overgrown with water moss and crusty black river molluscs. It raised its head and bellowed, a deep-throated thrumming roar louder than any warhorn that Tyrion had ever heard.

Another example is this. Why that enormous turtle (Old Man of the River according to Yandry) surfaced six yards away from the boat instead of ten or twelve or else?

This happens with other numbers too but most of the time, six is used within such contexts. Six (six six) is also the number of the devil. Varys and Illyrio have that twisted evil side to them.

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I was slightly disappointed, because the Brightfyre theory is really good and convincing, while some of these connections are really out there and the rest are a little irrelevant/ speculative. The topic is still well thought but since I am a fan of ®Aegon theory all those subtle symbolisms seem to me like attempts to search for more evidence for something you have already made your mind about. When you read the text under the strong assumption that something is true, you read everything in that light and you think that everything points to it, even if it is unconnected. I like the thinking behind the parallels you make but I wouldn't count them as additional clues for a theory, just interesting trivia in case it turns out to be true.

We all know what they say in poker they say "play the man, not the cards". I think the correct "strategy" into reading the clues in the book is the opposite of that. You are trying to much to read into GRRM while in fact you should look at the text. Martin could be using the number 6 as a random number or because he likes how his sentences sound this way in his head or because it is a reasonable number for that kind of distance. I doubt he uses it in the context that you put it or in some kind of wierd symbolism, because there is no logical way someone could pick up that symbolism. And if he uses it without writer's intent for us to find out, then it doesn't matter because it is not even a clue and it just happens that you found a subtext that matched the truth of the books by sheer chance.

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The Lyseni became especially loathed, for they claimed more than coin from passing ships, taking off women, girls, and comely young boys to serve in their pleasure gardens and pillow houses. (Amongst those thus enslaved was Lady Johanna Swann, a fifteen-year-old niece of the Lord of Stonehelm. When her infamously niggardly uncle refused to pay the ransom, she was sold to a pillow house, where she rose to become the celebrated courtesan known as the Black Swan, and ruler of Lys in all but name. Alas, her tale, however fascinating, has no bearing upon our present history).

Then why the hell did you tell us her story, dear Archmaester Gyldayn?

Why, only to be used as a foreshadowing.

House Swann has two swans, black and white, fighting each other on their coat of arms. House Targaryen has two dragons, black and red, fighting each other for the last century. Johanna ended up in a pillow house of Lys and trained to be a famous courtesan. She was called the Black Swan (why not the White Swan as it was also a possibility?).

It is pretty obvious that the tale of Johanna sheds light to the story of Serra, who was said to be taken from a Lysene pillow house.

I know that the first interpretation of this parallel is that since Johanna was of the black swans, Serra should be of the black dragons which means she is of Blackfyre descent which we don’t like in the Brightfyre Theory.

But a marriage with a Black Dragon also works the same, as I suggested in Part 4. Serra should wear the cloak of the Black Dragons in her wedding and so become a Black Dragon herself by marriage.

There was another celebrated courtesan called the Black Pearl who had an affair with Aegon IV and gave birth to a child. She was called the Black Pearl because she was a Summer Islander. Since Illyrio Blackfyre is Aegon IV come again, Serra needs not be a Black Dragon herself.

I think Serra was trained to be a courtesan in Lys and Illyrio bought her as a maiden. Arya was offered a similar option.

“Or would you sooner be a courtesan, and have songs sung of your beauty? Speak the word, and we will send you to the Black Pearl or the Daughter of the Dusk. You will sleep on rose petals and wear silken skirts that rustle when you walk, and great lords will beggar themselves for your maiden’s blood.”

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An addition to Part 1;

“How fares our lad?” asked Illyrio as the chests were being secured. Tyrion counted six oaken chests with iron hasps. Duck shifted them easily enough, hoisting them on one shoulder.

Illyrio sent six chests and one of them had Blackfyre in it.

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Sometimes a cherry tree is just a cherry tree.

I'm not exactly sure how Varys (or Illyrio) should descend from Aerion. My guess is either through some bastards he might have fathered during his exile in Lys - totally speculative that he did such a thing. But even if he did, Aerion does not seem to be the kind of guy to favor women as persons (i.e. to take one as his mistress). If he frequented the pillow houses in Lys, most of the whores he lie with would have had Valyrian features - which, in turn, would it make very difficult to convince him to acknowledge such a child as his own. And how (or why) a bastard from such a union - either Varys/Illyrio/Serra's grandfather or very old father - would then care to instill the ambition in those children to take over Westeros doesn't seem right to me. Aerion would have abandoned his bastard in Lys. He would not have legitimized him. That would be as realistic as the idea that Gendry's grandchildren are going to try to take over Westeros (or that Rennifer Longwaters is already trying to do such a thing).

The other possibility is that Aerion's infant son is Varys/Illyrio/Serra's ancestor (either the father or the grandfather). That could make some sense, but since boy was clearly a legitimate son of Prince Aerion and his unknown wife - he was considered by Great Council, after all - it's very unlikely that the Iron Throne would ever lose track of this prince and his offspring. Nor is there any reason to assume that he ended up in Lys (where Varys supposedly was born, and Serra was found in a brothel).

If I had to come up with a family tree for Varys and Illyrio, I'd search for their ancestors among the children and grandchildren of Daemon I Blackfyre which were not actively involved in any of the Blackfyre Rebellions. Those people could have escaped the notice of the Iron Throne eventually. Daemon II was the pretender during the Second Rebellion. Haegon I most likely will be the pretender during the Third. Daemon III, the pretender during the Fourth Rebellion, must have been a grandson of Daemon I (either Haegon's son, or if Haegon didn't have any children, a son of the fifth or sixth son), since Daemon I named his third son Daemon - his fifth, sixth, or seventh son would not have been named Daemon. Maelys could then have been a younger brother of Daemon III, or cousin of Daemon III (the son of the sixth or seventh son of Daemon I).

Now, we don't know who Daemon I married, but the chances for an incestuous Targaryen/Valyrian marriage are pretty low. He could have married a daughter of Elaena, but even she would have only been Targaryen on her mother's side. We know that Daemon II had Valyrian features, but this could just be coincidence due to the fact that Daemon I was Targaryen on both sides - some his siblings may have more common features.

If Daemon III was indeed Haegon's son - and if Bittersteel did indeed crown Haegon as pretender during the Third Rebellion (after the death of Daemon II) - then there is a very good chance that Haegon was married to one of his sisters to ensure that the Blackfyre blood remained pure. I guess no one would have risen/declared for a brown-haired Blackfyre.

Yet there remain other daughters, and the younger sons of Daemon I. Yeah, one of the younger brothers of Haegon must be the father of Maelys, but this still leaves three Blackfyres who would have not been involved as pretenders during the various rebellion. Now, they (and some of their sons) could have fought (and died) at the side of the pretenders (and I guess some of them did), but it's just as likely that some of the younger sons realized the futility of the whole thing, and distanced themselves from Bittersteel and the pretenders. Not to mention Daemon's daughters - and his granddaughters -, who might have been married into Essosi families to make alliances.

Varys and Illyrio could both be great-grandsons (or great-great-grandsons) of Daemon I through different branches. Say, Illyrio descends from one of the daughters of Daemon I, whereas Varys is the grandson of one of the younger sons of Daemon I through the female line (i.e. the son of a daughter of one of the younger sons of Daemon I).

But neither Varys nor Illyrio would be closely related to Daemon III or Maelys I - they would be from a different branch. The fact that they are cousins would be the reason why they teamed up, why they trust each other completely, and why they are doing what they are doing. Illyrio claims that he never found out why Varys chose him as his protector - that has to be a blatant lie. A man like Illyrio would never work for decades with a man who might have a hidden agenda.

In that scenario, Serra would just be a poor woman with Valyrian features Varys and Illyrio served to serve as pawn in their game. Varys may have Valyrian hairs, but he cannot conceive a child, and Illyrio has blond hair, but, apparently, not Valyrian features. They would need a woman from pure-Valyrian stock if they want Illyrio to father a child who looks (more or less) like Rhaegar Targaryen's son. The best place to get non-noble women of this sort is in the pillow houses of Lys.

End of story. The theory that Serra is Varys' long-lost sister feels very contrived and adds a soap opera plot to the whole thing that is not really needed. Considering that Varys must have told Illyrio about Tysha and Shae when he sent Tyrion to Pentos, the whole sad love story between Illyrio and Serra may have been nothing but a ploy to manipulate Tyrion. Illyrio got to him with that story, since they both had lost their 'true love'. Illyrio may have still married Serra, to ensure that - should they plans go awry or be postponed indefinitely - his son could inherit his lands and property in Pentos. But Serra would have fulfilled her purpose after delivering a son with Valyrian features to Illyrio. She would have been nothing but a loose end afterwards. One of the very weak points of the 'Serra is Varys' sister/of Blackfyre descent herself' is why the hell she would want that Varys/Illyrio seat her son on the Iron Throne? If she lived in a Lysene pillow house all her life, one would expect that she was more than happy to live with her newborn son and her loving husband in a big manse in Pentos. She would not have the ambition or the wish to use her only child as a pawn in a decade-spanning political game. The same would be true if Illyrio was not of Blackfyre descent. In fact, he really has to be more than a cheese-monger and Varys' childhood friend to do all the things he did (and still does).

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