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Black Crow

Heresy 207 :skinchanging

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5 hours ago, Brad Stark said:

4) The smell of corruption is described as 'faint', but "eyes crawling with maggots" suggest the wolf was dead a long time.

Perhaps, rather than GRRM writing inconsistently, this is one of the important signs that something magical has occurred, that the slaughter was ritual.

I'm tempted to call the state of the mother direwolf an inverse mirror to Dany and Rhaego--Rhaego is born "long dead and full of grave worms," while the direwolf mother similarly appears to have been both dead for a while and recently slaughtered.

Note that the awakening of the Stark gift is not identical to Varamyr's experience, wherein he gradually bonds - first emotionally, then magically - with the family pet at a young age; the Stark gifts awaken all at once at a variety of ages, and the magic appears to be at work before emotional bonds have even formed, at least for Jon:

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Halfway across the bridge, Jon pulled up suddenly.

"What is it, Jon?" their lord father asked.

"Can't you hear it?"

Bran could hear the wind in the trees, the clatter of their hooves on the ironwood planks, the whimpering of his hungry pup, but Jon was listening to something else.

"There," Jon said. He swung his horse around and galloped back across the bridge. They watched him dismount where the direwolf lay dead in the snow, watched him kneel. A moment later he was riding back to them, smiling.

"He must have crawled away from the others," Jon said.

"Or been driven away," their father said, looking at the sixth pup. His fur was white, where the rest of the litter was grey. His eyes were as red as the blood of the ragged man who had died that morning. Bran thought it curious that this pup alone would have opened his eyes while the others were still blind.

Jon can already "hear" Ghost--not just before they've bonded, but before they've even seen one another.

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2 hours ago, Brad Stark said:

2) Same thing, but Bloodraven, Coldhands, or whoever else saved him from the Other's told him to do so.


Sam's experience of being rescued by Coldhands might serve as a template for what happened to Gared off page, if he came south by way of the Black Gate.

While the gorge itself is a reasonable point of access, it may be that there would be a certain significance to opening and passing the Black Gate, especially if the mother direwolf went through as well. 

To tackle it from a different angle: why Gared? The north is full of Free Folk, some of whom are presumably faithful enough to the old gods that they would embrace a sacred mission given to them by the CotF, or Bloodraven. Similarly, if any random scrub being mind-controlled/skinchanged could have accomplished the same task, or one of the CotF could have taken the mother direwolf through the gorge, there's no reason to bring in Gared.

OTOH, if they needed someone to open the Black Gate, and the Black Gate will only open to a sworn brother, then Gared has a specific utility.

(all of the above assuming that Gared and the mother coming south are related events, though I'm not personally sold on the idea)

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9 minutes ago, Matthew. said:


Sam's experience of being rescued by Coldhands might serve as a template for what happened to Gared off page, if he came south by way of the Black Gate.

While the gorge itself is a reasonable point of access, it may be that there would be a certain significance to opening and passing the Black Gate, especially if the mother direwolf went through as well. 

To tackle it from a different angle: why Gared? The north is full of Free Folk, some of whom are presumably faithful enough to the old gods that they would embrace a sacred mission given to them by the CotF, or Bloodraven. Similarly, if any random scrub being mind-controlled/skinchanged could have accomplished the same task, or one of the CotF could have taken the mother direwolf through the gorge, there's no reason to bring in Gared.

OTOH, if they needed someone to open the Black Gate, and the Black Gate will only open to a sworn brother, then Gared has a specific utility.

(all of the above assuming that Gared and the mother coming south are related events, though I'm not personally sold on the idea)

Last we saw Gared, he was alone in the far North after his companions were killed by Others.  I think this answers the question of why him.  If he wasn't going to be useful to someone,  he'd be dead.

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2 hours ago, Matthew. said:

While the gorge itself is a reasonable point of access, it may be that there would be a certain significance to opening and passing the Black Gate, especially if the mother direwolf went through as well. 

The Black Gate is first and foremost the access point for disabled Brans. GRRM must have thought how he gets Bran across the Wall without publicly informing the Non-Night's Watch that the Prince of Winterfell is still alive and well. And where is the Non-Night's watch not looking ? The Nightfort. 

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1 hour ago, Brad Stark said:

Last we saw Gared, he was alone in the far North after his companions were killed by Others.  I think this answers the question of why him.  If he wasn't going to be useful to someone,  he'd be dead.

The last we saw Gared he was staying behind with the horses while Ser Waymar and Will went to scout the Wildling camp. 

It was some time after Ser Waymar was slain that Will descended the tree and discovered that the dead can walk

What Gared was doing all this time is a complete mystery, but his last recorded muttering about not being allowed to light a fire is significant. He is already deeply unhappy about the situation they find themselves in and wants to light a fire for protection against what he senses is out there. Its significant because he is an old and very experienced ranger and as even Ser Waymar scolds him, lighting a fire so close to a hostile camp is sheer lunacy; yet Gared the veteran, who knows this perfectly well, wanted to go ahead anyway.

While we don't know what happened next, there are really only two options, Either he deserted his companions by running for the border while they were still living, or he was still standing with the horses when Craster's boys turned up and asked why he hadn't lit a fire...

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58 minutes ago, Black Crow said:

The last we saw Gared he was staying behind with the horses while Ser Waymar and Will went to scout the Wildling camp. 

It was some time after Ser Waymar was slain that Will descended the tree and discovered that the dead can walk

What Gared was doing all this time is a complete mystery, but his last recorded muttering about not being allowed to light a fire is significant. He is already deeply unhappy about the situation they find themselves in and wants to light a fire for protection against what he senses is out there. Its significant because he is an old and very experienced ranger and as even Ser Waymar scolds him, lighting a fire so close to a hostile camp is sheer lunacy; yet Gared the veteran, who knows this perfectly well, wanted to go ahead anyway.

While we don't know what happened next, there are really only two options, Either he deserted his companions by running for the border while they were still living, or he was still standing with the horses when Craster's boys turned up and asked why he hadn't lit a fire...

Or Coldhands,  the Children or someone else showed up and saved him.

I still don't buy the first option.  He wasn't one to desert, and if he did, he wouldn't run terrified and get caught like an idiot, especially if he took off before he even saw the Others.

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3 hours ago, Brad Stark said:

Last we saw Gared, he was alone in the far North after his companions were killed by Others.  I think this answers the question of why him.  If he wasn't going to be useful to someone,  he'd be dead.

This is already implicitly addressed in the quoted post--the qualities you describe have, presumably, been true of the Free Folk at various times as well. So, a more accurate question might be: "If Gared is a pawn, why him, rather than the Free Folk? Why use a pawn at all?"

Of course, there are two mundane answers: Gared ran away and survived by luck, or Gared was the pawn because, in a storytelling sense, it ties Bran I neatly to the Prologue. These are fine answers, but provide little room for discussion.
____

Anyway, proceeding forward, if Gared didn't make a lucky escape, we are left with at least two broad alternatives: He was rescued by Coldhands/the CotF/Bloodraven, or he was spared by the Others.*

For the Others, the reason that they would need a pawn is straightforward: they need someone who won't be hampered by magical wards.

The Bloodraven faction, on the other hand, is not similarly limited... at least in theory. They might, for example, reveal themselves to some especially 'godly' Free Folk and contextualize a quest to bring the direwolf mother to the south as a sacred mission from the old gods, as an important part of waging war against the Others.

Better yet, they might not trust such an important mission - important because it ties to Bran's journey to become a greenseer - to a half-mad intermediary, and instead risk a few of the CotF to ensure the pups arrive at the right place, and events unfold as intended.

The point being that Gared's value as a pawn may go deeper than just his desperation or availability--it may be that, if he was sent, whoever sent him needed him to go by way of the Black Gate.


*Speaking of being spared by the Others, as has been noted, Waymer's crew made a pit stop at Craster's keep:

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"Aye, those three I recall. The lordling no older than one of these pups. Too proud to sleep under my roof, him in his sable cloak and black steel. My wives give him big cow eyes all the same." He turned his squint on the nearest of the women. "Gared says they were chasing raiders. I told him, with a commander that green, best not catch 'em. Gared wasn't half-bad, for a crow. Had less ears than me, that one. The 'bite took 'em, same as mine." Craster laughed. "Now I hear he got no head neither. The 'bite do that too?"

Gared, who "wasn't half-bad, for a crow" survives the encounter with the Others, while Waymer Royce, who rejected Craster's hospitality (and of whom he was not fond), proudly faces them down--ultimately resulting in his black steel shattering, and his sable cloak being cut to ribbons under their laughing onslaught.

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9 hours ago, Matthew. said:

Gared, who "wasn't half-bad, for a crow" survives the encounter with the Others, while Waymer Royce, who rejected Craster's hospitality (and of whom he was not fond), proudly faces them down--ultimately resulting in his black steel shattering, and his sable cloak being cut to ribbons under their laughing onslaught.

GRRM could have hidden all the stories in Gared's youth and why he joined the NW as a boy. Including knowing Mance or being a Crasterly.

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This passage from the 1993 synopsis is of relevance to the present discussion, not for what it says but rather for what it doesn't...

Jon Snow, the bastard, will remain in the far north. He will mature into a ranger of great daring, and ultimately will succeed his uncle as the commander of the Night's Watch. When Winterfell burns, Catelyn Stark will be forced to flee north with her son Bran and her daughter Arya. Hounded by Lannister riders, they will seek refuge at the Wall, but the men of the Night's Watch give up their families when they take the black, and Jon and Benjen will not be able to help, to Jon's anguish. It will lead to a bitter estrangement between Jon and Bran. Arya will be more forgiving... until she realizes, with terror, that she has fallen in love with Jon, who is not only her half-brother but a man of the Night's Watch, sworn to celibacy. Their passion will continue to torment Jon and Arya throughout the trilogy, until the secret of Jon's true parentage is finally revealed in the last book.

 Abandoned by the Night's Watch, Catelyn and her children will find their only hope of safety lies even further north, beyond the Wall, where they fall into the hands of Mance Rayder, the King-beyond-the-Wall, and get a dreadful glimpse of the inhuman others as they attack the wildling encampment. Bran's magic, Arya's sword Needle, and the savagery of their direwolves will help them survive, but their mother Catelyn will die at the hands of the others.

So what's missing?

There's no mention of the Black Gate as a plot device allowing the fugitives to pass through the Wall. So its highly unlikely that the she-wolf came through it back in 1993. I'm still firmly associating Gared and the she-wolf and still fingering him for her killing, but I think that we can safely assume that they came through the gorge rather than the Black Gate 

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22 hours ago, Brad Stark said:

I have significant doubt the six pups come from the Old Gods.  They are probably gifts, but could be from the Children, the Others, Bloodraven or someone we don't know.  They might be part of some sort of bargain, pact or treaty.  We do know there are statue's of older Starks with their wolves, so this isn't something new.  Someone was sending the Starks wolves, and it is as much a question of why as why they stopped.

I can understand using Gared as a guide for the wolf, but he isn't needed.  Nymeria runs around the forest south of the Wall just fine without a guide.

I don't understand why the she wolf had to die if she was there on her own free will.  She could have welped the pups and left them.  She'd take a risk staying alive with the pups, but the risk is worse with her dead.  She certainly didn't need to die days before the pups were found.  I think she had to die so the pups would bond with the Starks instead of with her, especially if she wasn't there on her own free will.

 

I couldn't agree more!

If the pups were gifts from the Old Gods... then does that make Illyrio the Essosi counterpart to the Old Gods? Why is it reasonable for Dany to receive her eggs in a coincidental way but this is not an option for the Starks? 

Don't get me wrong, the number and sex of the pups very much suggests they were "intended" for the Starks. But the dragon also has three heads, and Drogon resembles Balerion... which means these three eggs were also "intended" for Daenerys. This doesn't mean Illyrio was warged to get him to first obtain them and then gift them to her, no more than Drogo was controlled into having a wedding in Pentos at just the right time for the eggs to be given, or controlled into the duel that killed him to create the need for a funeral pyre... etc. Was it coincidence that MMD entered Dany's life? Was she magically controlled into sacrificing herself to give Dany dragons, just like the mother direwolf?  IMO, she was not, and Dany would have hatched those eggs sooner or later when the circumstances were right, even without encountering MMD. 

IMO, while the pups were always going to end up with the Starks, this could have happened any number of ways that would not require the INCREDIBLE coincidences we often assume to have happened. For one, I agree with Brad Stark that there is no need for Gared to have had anything at all to do with getting the pups to the Starks. The tines being snapped off the antler probably happened as it was being buried in the wolf. The tines are thinner than the main antler, and even that was snapped off - probably from the force of the direwolf's weight. We are told the antler was shattered - as would be expected by an impact strong enough to break off the antler itself. Some of the broken off pieces are probably inside the wolf, and the rest lie on the ground wherever the fight happened. So it's entirely plausible that the wolf came south without Gared (via the gorge), had an actual encounter with a stag, and was killed by it. 

There was no need for the direwolf to be warged to get it to travel south. We hear from Mormont (someone quoted it above) that herds of other animals were all traveling south, just as the wildling villages were abandoned. All living things (except COTF) were moving south. This is an instinctive reaction either to the presence of the Others or to the approaching winter. Animals move south in the winter. Especially pregnant ones with future pups to feed. As others have pointed out, Winterfell is directly south of the Gorge, and so it makes sense that she would be passing through the area. 

I also propose that the mother direwolf did not need to die at all in order to deliver the pups, but did as a result of attempting to hunt the stag (and to give us some cool foreshadowing, of course). She perfectly well could have given birth to the pups in that same spot where she was found dead, then abandoned them. The Starks still would have found them and taken them in. The "risk" would have been the same either way- maybe the Starks take them in, or maybe they kill them, or maybe someone else finds them first- regardless of where or when exactly she gave birth, or whether or not she was a corpse next to them. Hell, she could have had them just outside the Winterfell gate, and Bran would have found them on his morning climb. It was not necessary for her to die. [I'm not even sure that the warg bond only works with newborn pups. I don't think Varamyr raised his three wolves from pups, did he?  It's entirely possible that she could have given birth to them, raised them in the wolfswood, and then the Starks could have found them and bonded with them. ]

And lastly, regarding the smell of corruption: I think GRRM may have helped himself out of that discrepancy with lord Tywin's failed funeral. While we don't know what exactly went wrong there, we do now have another example of premature decomposition and the associated smell. 

 

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6 hours ago, Black Crow said:

So what's missing?

Littlefinger, Tywin Lannister, Cersei Lannister, the War of the Five Kings, and any number of things that have ended up being important to the story GRRM actually wrote and published, as opposed to the story he could have written.

Also missing: the plot points of the prologue, and the discovery of the mother direwolf in what would eventually become Bran I.
 

56 minutes ago, MaesterSam said:

If the pups were gifts from the Old Gods... then does that make Illyrio the Essosi counterpart to the Old Gods? Why is it reasonable for Dany to receive her eggs in a coincidental way but this is not an option for the Starks? 

Don't get me wrong, the number and sex of the pups very much suggests they were "intended" for the Starks. But the dragon also has three heads, and Drogon resembles Balerion... which means these three eggs were also "intended" for Daenerys.

I don't disagree, and personally I'm of a mind that Gared did not escort or slaughter the mother direwolf--but why not explore every other idea, raise alternative proposals? It's not that it is unreasonable to suggest that the meeting with the direwolf pups - and their perfect alignment with individual Starks - is a bit of fantastical serendipity that serves Martin's story, it's that that is the conclusion that leaves the least room for discussion; it is the most self-evident conclusion.



 

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On 3/22/2018 at 0:26 PM, Black Crow said:

I don't have the text to hand but I'm pretty sure that the fate of Ser Waymar's party was a mystery to Mormont, ie Gared did not return to Castle Black and then desert. 

Yes, Mormont first heard of the desertion from Eddard:

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The Lord Commander took no notice of the irritating bird.  “Gared was near as old as I am and longer on the Wall,” he went on, “yet it would seem he forswore himself and fled.  I should never have believed it, not of him, but Lord Eddard sent me his head from Winterfell.”

 

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This may have been covered before, but I stumbled across this SSM dealing with this topic from another thread:

Quote

Q:  Regarding the dead direwolf and her pups: was this a sign from the gods, or from the three eyed crow? Some also see some symbolism in the way the direwolf died, with a stag's antler in her throat presaging a Stark-Baratheon conflict.

A:  Man, that's something that's for the readers to figure out. If it's a symbol that I've carefully worked in there in a subtle way, it's because I'm trying to be suggestive, to make people think. If you see it and start wondering about it, that's on purpose. But I'm not going to start singing out, "It's a symbol! It's a symbol!" Each reader has to read it and decide for themselves what the symbols are and what they mean. That's part of what you do in a complex work of art, one that's deliberately structured and is relatively ambiguous, so that each reader can drawn their own conclusions.

 

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27 minutes ago, Matthew. said:

I don't disagree, and personally I'm of a mind that Gared did not escort or slaughter the mother direwolf--but why not explore every other idea, raise alternative proposals? It's not that it is unreasonable to suggest that the meeting with the direwolf pups - and their perfect alignment with individual Starks - is a bit of fantastical serendipity that serves Martin's story, it's that that is the conclusion that leaves the least room for discussion; it is the most self-evident conclusion.

 

Yes of course, and I was not intending to put down the other theories or say they are unreasonable. It is my personal opinion, and nothing more, that we may have been overthinking this scene just a little bit. For this reason, I was happily surprised to find that a few others here were challenging the idea that the events of chapter 1 were pre-planned and carefully orchestrated by myriad greenseers, BR, the Others, Coldhands or who knows who else b/c the story couldn't have worked any other way. If I came across as confrontational or dismissive of anyone's ideas, I sincerely apologize. I enjoy the Heresy threads a lot, even if I only occasionally pop in these days, and am a big supporter of looking at everything from all angles. I simply felt that in this instance, we've been looking at it from the "it was all planned ahead of time by BR" angle for years, and the idea of it NOT being orchestrated by some puppet master was the "new" angle, which (to me) also seems most plausible. No offense was intended, to anyone. 

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1 hour ago, Frey family reunion said:

This may have been covered before, but I stumbled across this SSM dealing with this topic from another thread:

"The birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the author."
____

I love that SSM about the dead direwolf, because GRRM's aspirations as an artist stand in such total contrast to the way fandoms want to engage with works of art; whereas he hopes to engage the higher order literacy skills - inference, synthesis, creative thinking -, within the world of advocating for The One True Interpretation and meticulously maintained wikis, such skills (especially creative thinking) are anathema, heretical.

Instead, reading is to be a passive experience in which the reader waits for an authority figure to tell them what they're supposed to think about a work of art, lest they develop any dangerously non-canonical thoughts.
 

48 minutes ago, MaesterSam said:

Yes of course, and I was not intending to put down the other theories or say they are unreasonable.

I apologize, because it was not my intent to suggest you were being dismissive--on the contrary, I was actually concerned that you might be taking the theoretical discussion as being implicitly disrespectful of alternative point of views. At least for my part, I never intend for the ideas I'm putting out to be taken as an argument against other interpretations.

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36 minutes ago, MaesterSam said:

Yes of course, and I was not intending to put down the other theories or say they are unreasonable. It is my personal opinion, and nothing more, that we may have been overthinking this scene just a little bit. For this reason, I was happily surprised to find that a few others here were challenging the idea that the events of chapter 1 were pre-planned and carefully orchestrated by myriad greenseers, BR, the Others, Coldhands or who knows who else b/c the story couldn't have worked any other way. If I came across as confrontational or dismissive of anyone's ideas, I sincerely apologize. I enjoy the Heresy threads a lot, even if I only occasionally pop in these days, and am a big supporter of looking at everything from all angles. I simply felt that in this instance, we've been looking at it from the "it was all planned ahead of time by BR" angle for years, and the idea of it NOT being orchestrated by some puppet master was the "new" angle, which (to me) also seems most plausible. No offense was intended, to anyone. 

Well said.

I suspect that the error creeps in by ideas being built on erroneous foundations.

Making any connection between Gared and the direwolf featured in Bran's opening chapter seems inappropriate and illogical to me.And any theories that are built upon this notion are going to be rightly questioned.The presence of Gared and the animal in the same chapter is the only link they have.

The idea that Gared,whilst fleeing for his life in abject terror,picked up a heavily pregnant direwolf,and transported her through or by the Wall seems fanciful at best.It precludes the possibility that the direwolf was born and raised south of the Wall and arrived within the juristiction of Winterfell entirely on her own merits

That seems to be the intention of the author.If questions are raised he could no doubt claim it was the work of the old gods.

That aside,I do subscribe to the idea that Martin has made some contextual errors in this work.But given the outstanding quality and complexity of his writing that is excusable,I would say.

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A slightly off-topic question:  Did Craster's mother show up at the Wall and offer them Craster as a babe?

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3 hours ago, Matthew. said:

Littlefinger, Tywin Lannister, Cersei Lannister, the War of the Five Kings, and any number of things that have ended up being important to the story GRRM actually wrote and published, as opposed to the story he could have written.

Also missing: the plot points of the prologue, and the discovery of the mother direwolf in what would eventually become Bran I.

Indeed they are, but so far as the she-wolf/Bran 1 is concerned that will have been included in the 13 opening chapters accompanying the synopsis and we can be confident of that given that GRRM has told us the whole story was worked up from that scene.

The point I was making that the Black Gate does not figure in the proposed version of Bran's journey beyond the Wall later in the story, which argues against it being a factor in the she-wolf coming south, ie; he hadn't yet thought of the Black Gate way back in '93

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2 hours ago, MaesterSam said:

Yes of course, and I was not intending to put down the other theories or say they are unreasonable. It is my personal opinion, and nothing more, that we may have been overthinking this scene just a little bit. For this reason, I was happily surprised to find that a few others here were challenging the idea that the events of chapter 1 were pre-planned and carefully orchestrated by myriad greenseers, BR, the Others, Coldhands or who knows who else b/c the story couldn't have worked any other way. If I came across as confrontational or dismissive of anyone's ideas, I sincerely apologize. I enjoy the Heresy threads a lot, even if I only occasionally pop in these days, and am a big supporter of looking at everything from all angles. I simply felt that in this instance, we've been looking at it from the "it was all planned ahead of time by BR" angle for years, and the idea of it NOT being orchestrated by some puppet master was the "new" angle, which (to me) also seems most plausible. No offense was intended, to anyone. 

I actually agree with most of this and cheerfully admit to cringing at theories or rather proposals that Bloodraven is running everything.

Hence the scenario which I outlined on the previous page suggesting that that given the apparent importance of direwolves, it was the she-wolf rather than Bloodraven or anyone else who was responsible for delivering the cubs both literally and metaphorically.

I still feel that there is a good case for Gared killing/sacrificing here where she needed to die but that is subsidiary to the she-wolf, not Bloodraven - or Rumpelstiltskin for that matter taking her there.

 

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14 minutes ago, LynnS said:

A slightly off-topic question:  Did Craster's mother show up at the Wall and offer them Craster as a babe?

WUT?

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