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Black Crow

Heresy 207 :skinchanging

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13 hours ago, MaesterSam said:

The main problem I have with Gared killing her is that from what we know so far, warging doesn't work across the Wall. So even if BR, Rumpelstiltskin or the Old Gods were somehow able to control Gared through the Wall, they shouldn't be able to control the direwolf. So even if we assume she went there on her own (I'm glad we're in agreement on this!) - if she is not being warged to "hold still", then how could a scrawny, half-mad and most likely more than half-starved old little guy like Gared possibly kill her? Bran didn't notice him even being injured or having blood on his clothes. 

Alternatively, if she is being warged, then whoever is doing it could just as easily warg a stag and make it kill her. Animals are much easier to control than humans, after all. 

I think the difference of opinion is based primarily on how we view the broken antler. I 100% agree that if it was in fact a dagger and not a natural piece of antler, this was a sacrifice and in that case, Gared seems like a reasonable choice for executioner. I personally think the tines could have snapped off as it was stabbing the wolf (antlers not being made for deep stabbing after all). The characters seem to focus on the symbolism of the stag killing the wolf, rather than notice that she was killed by a dagger and wondering who did it. So based on their reaction, I tend to think of the antler as natural, and not a tool made by man. 

 

There is a problem with regarding the antler as being snapped off during a fight between the she-wolf and an unknown stag, in that the tines were broken off. How? First its actually very difficult since the leverage required is such that its more likely to break off the whole antler, rather than just one little bit. To suggest that first two or more tines were broken off in a fight and then the limb isn't consistent with observed damage to antlers, especially as no other wounds are mentioned.

As to the symbolism, there's no doubt of it or of its being noticed, but what may be overlooked is that the Baratheon-Stark thing did not come about by accident. It wasn't a random encounter between the two houses, but was engineered by a third party, so it would be perfectly consistent to find the slaying of the direwolf was also engineered rather than something random.

As to that engineering, if, as I've suggested above the she-wolf was responsible rather than a remote controller then the blocking effect of the Wall needn't trouble us, especially if the she-wolf far from fighting Gared, needed him to sacrifice herself in order for her to deliver the pups where they needed to go.

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Any thoughts on how the whole Gared and wolf mystery could relate to Benjen?  Everyone else going near the heart of Winter dies except Gared,  who may have brought back a gift for the Starks.  But Benjen himself is a Stark.  Could he be up North, treated as a god or King, enjoying eating Craster's sheep?

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Sometimes people just disappear without explanation, but the men that were with Benjen were found dead and wightified. It makes it feel like we have yet to discover what happened to Benjen. IMO - since I'm coming from a belief that the wildlings are of Ironborn descent and the identity of the Others, I cannot see Benjen fulfilling any position on their side. On the contrary, if he's still alive he's a captive or undead like Coldhands or maybe even fulfilling the role of the Last Hero.

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11 hours ago, Black Crow said:

if the she-wolf far from fighting Gared, needed him to sacrifice herself in order for her to deliver the pups where they needed to go

The timing is awfully tricky if this is the plan, though.  Basically...

1. To meet her needs, the suicidal pregnant direwolf has Gared stab her -- a fatal wound

2. Gared subsequently (after how much time?) manages to get himself captured and decapitated

3. The Stark party, only then, finds the pups (and what happens if they hadn't?)

4. From 1 to 3, the pups have no food... no protection... no shelter... and except for Ghost, they are blind... and hence, could and probably would be found and killed by a predator

Surely if their mother were smart enough to conceive and orchestrate her own suicide weeks in advance (the time required to travel 500 miles south with Gared), she would also be smart enough to see how horrific this scenario would be for her cubs.  

So I'm sticking with "GRRM wrote the first chapter out of pure inspiration before he had even begun to think up his world in detail -- as he said he did, in interviews -- and so this situation is never going to make much sense."

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1 hour ago, Brad Stark said:

Any thoughts on how the whole Gared and wolf mystery could relate to Benjen?  Everyone else going near the heart of Winter dies except Gared,  who may have brought back a gift for the Starks.  But Benjen himself is a Stark.  Could he be up North, treated as a god or King, enjoying eating Craster's sheep?

I don't recall Kafiristan appearing on any map of Westeros, but Benjen Stark the Man who would be King might be an intriguing twist

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6 minutes ago, JNR said:

The timing is awfully tricky if this is the plan, though.  Basically...

1. To meet her needs, the suicidal pregnant direwolf has Gared stab her -- a fatal wound

2. Gared subsequently (after how much time?) manages to get himself captured and decapitated

3. The Stark party, only then, finds the pups (and what happens if they hadn't?)

4. From 1 to 3, the pups have no food... no protection... no shelter... and except for Ghost, they are blind... and hence, could and probably would be found and killed by a predator

Surely if their mother were smart enough to conceive and orchestrate her own suicide weeks in advance (the time required to travel 500 miles south with Gared), she would also be smart enough to see how horrific this scenario would be for her cubs.  

So I'm sticking with "GRRM wrote the first chapter out of pure inspiration before he had even begun to think up his world in detail -- as he said he did, in interviews -- and so this situation is never going to make much sense."

On the whole I'm inclined to agree that this chapter was written rather than planned, but if it has to be explained, then my scenario, which revolves around the she-wolf makes more sense than manipulation by Bloodraven or any other third party. 

:commie:

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Under the asumption that there is actually a direwolf conspiracy (which I very much doubt), can we expand the conspiracy to the captors of Gared  being inwolved (get it ? ha) in one way or the other ? How much can we blow the idea up through conclusions with the highest likelyhood until we find a contradiction ? Then Lord Stark has to be in the area. So no wars, no Wildling invasion. Even good old Robert moves to Stark so that Ned can be there in that moment and not the other way round. The conspiracy really grows. 

 

No, if this was planed, the conspirators have to been in close proximity to Winterfell. Very close. And they need access to a population of direwolves, so that they can pick the right wolves when the time is right. Gared's escape is too complex to link it directly to Lord Stark. Any other Lord could have captured and executed him. Unless there are dozens of failed attempts and Gared was just the one ranger who got through. Missing rangers beyond the Wall is no indication that they all try to get to Winterfell together with a Direwolf.

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Gared is not just a missing ranger, he is the only survivor of a group that encountered the Others.

Gared ended up in Winterfell.   Any theory as to how or why seems unlikely, but we know he was there, and therefore there is an explanation for how and why.

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It is possible that some northmen further north captured Gared and brought him to the Lord of Winterfell so that the King’s Justice can be followed through. Ned as Warden of the North is the proper authority to bring a found deserter.

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On 27/03/2018 at 8:50 PM, LynnS said:

I'm speculating that the Things comes to the boys in their dreams with a different face to each boy and this is why their descriptions don't match.  So yes something that comes disguised.  The thing that comes to Bran in his dreams is disguised as a crow and I'm guessing the apprentice boys are being similarly tested.  They may have died as a result of falling from great height, like Euron jumping off a cliff to see if he could fly.  

This would imply that the boys have skinchanging ability and so where do they come from?  Who gives over their boys to the Watch?  The Wildlings give their children with that ability over to a small community of skinchangers.  But has this always been the case?  If there was an option to turn them over to Night Fort; did this happen at any time?

There is the story of Craster's father being a crow and his mother being turned away by the Watch when she brought him to the Wall.  I'm guessing that wasn't always the case and it depends on the LC of Watch and what he thinks of the Wildlings.  

So if the Watch was providing greenseers at one point and then reneges on that bargain; then Craster comes into play; providing the boys himself.  Or rather the community of women, provide the boys using Craster and inbreeding to maintain skinchanging abilities.

The Thing that is seen a hundred years after the death of boys is a strange account.  It also seems like a dream with the description of the boys shambling along behind him in chains. 

This brings Coldhands to mind and so were these really the boys who died or wildling boys turned over to Coldhands.  I suspect that Coldhands and the Thing are different monsters but perhaps they work together.

 

This is an interesting proposition that I will have to think on some more. You should really check out some of LmL's threads and/or podcasts. He has a theory that the original NW consisted of dead reanimated greenseers. I've never heard this from anyone but him, until now! (except your reanimated greenseers are joining the Others, while his manned the Wall). 

I do have a question concerning the greenseer flying test. It seems to me that this test always occurs when a potential greenseer is near death - at least in Bran and Dany's cases, but I think in Jojen's too IIRC (mud fever?). We don't know about Euron, but it wouldn't surprise me if he was tested while either ill, injured or otherwise unconscious. So is a near-death experience a requirement for the flying dream/greenseer test? Because if so, then we have to wonder whether Bran's fall was somehow engineered by BR and/or the 3EC. Otherwise what was his plan, wait around until Bran gets fatally hurt one day by accident? Some people go their whole life without a near-death experience.

Other question: do we know the characters didn't die and return? Bran "wakes up" in his dream floating in space, Dany floats as well. If this is really a time when they are dead, and if time passes differently in this state .... it doesn't help us with the Starks, but would explain the grave worms and the "he's been dead for years" description of Rhaego. 

 (I would randomly add that out of the three characters with flying dreams, Euron with his blood eye is the only one who is appropriately marked by the Old Gods. Is this meaningful?)

16 hours ago, Black Crow said:

Frankly no, The gorge seems straightforward if dangerous and allows the she-wolf and Gared to pass the Wall independently of each other. The Black Gate is also relatively easy, but not straightforward and requires Gared to know of it and bring the she-wolf through; the tunnels are a horror where a whole army got lost and would not only require Gared [or somebody else] to pilot the she-wolf but that pilot would need to be intimately acqaint with them.

Fair enough. I agree that the Gorge is the most natural and most likely  way for people or animals to cross the Wall.

 

16 hours ago, Black Crow said:

Its certainly possible, although we really don't have enough information to take it very far. What it does do is foreshadow the discovery of the Black Gate. Clearly, as a portal it works both ways and by-passes the wards in the Wall itself, which may be exactly why that magic face has been installed down there to close it off

Oooh, yes it does! 

Regarding the face - it seems similar to the door of the HOTU (also a face through who's mouth you walk to enter), but that one didn't speak and Dany didn't need to identify herself. Also I think it was already 'open' when she arrived. Then there is the door to the HOBAW. It doesn't open its mouth, but it's half weirwood and half "ebony" (Arya, being 10, would not know ebony from any other black wood. Including the black wood from the grove of the undying and its Shade trees) - and the door does magically open when she identifies herself as a recruit by showing the coin and saying valar morghulis. 

 

16 hours ago, Black Crow said:

There is a problem with regarding the antler as being snapped off during a fight between the she-wolf and an unknown stag, in that the tines were broken off. How? First its actually very difficult since the leverage required is such that its more likely to break off the whole antler, rather than just one little bit. To suggest that first two or more tines were broken off in a fight and then the limb isn't consistent with observed damage to antlers, especially as no other wounds are mentioned.

As to the symbolism, there's no doubt of it or of its being noticed, but what may be overlooked is that the Baratheon-Stark thing did not come about by accident. It wasn't a random encounter between the two houses, but was engineered by a third party, so it would be perfectly consistent to find the slaying of the direwolf was also engineered rather than something random.

As to that engineering, if, as I've suggested above the she-wolf was responsible rather than a remote controller then the blocking effect of the Wall needn't trouble us, especially if the she-wolf far from fighting Gared, needed him to sacrifice herself in order for her to deliver the pups where they needed to go.

In truth, I don't know very much about antlers. But I just had a new thought that might fit both the antler being a dagger and Gared not having sacrificed the wolf. 

We've been assuming she was killed in order to facilitate the Starks receiving the pups, right? And the difficulty is in timing it just right, and how could they possibly know the Starks would ride there that day, etc. But what if whoever killed her wasn't trying to help deliver the pups to the Starks - but was trying to prevent it? What if she was killed to stop her from delivering the pups?

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On 26/03/2018 at 11:19 PM, Brad Stark said:

I posted this long before but

I was thinking about the role of King's blood and the other bloodlines and if blood sacrifice of certain people really had the power Melisandra and others claim.  There is no finite amount of people,  so if someone were willing to breed and sacrifice certain bloodlines,  they'd have unlimited access to that power.  Then I thought of Craster. 

This gave me goosebumps! But you're right, assuming Craster has 'special' blood, he is mass producing children with this blood. Except it seems it's the Others who are benefiting from this power, not Craster. 

On 26/03/2018 at 0:38 PM, Matthew. said:

Yes, that's the way I take the "blood is black" line, and the notion that Craster is "more Jon's kind" than Free Folk.

As an aside, I believe we see from one of the rangers - Mormont? - that the Watch would gladly take in Craster's sons and raise them, if he were actually willing to offer them up; someone in a prior Heresy noted from this that it is slightly interesting that Craster's mother and her son were run off, rather than the Watch accepting a potential future ranger, likely because the father himself was rejecting his own bastard (and evidence of his oathbreaking).

I might be getting the attribution wrong here, but I think Phillip J. Frye had a theory that Craster's father may have been a second/third son of House Stark, and that he leveraged his family clout among his sworn brothers to run Craster's mother off--the presumed significance being that Craster's sons carry Stark blood, and that this makes them particularly appealing as offerings to the Others.

I may be overthinking this (ha ha) but can one individual NW brother run someone off from the Wall? In the story it sounds like it was "the NW" that ran her off, not one person coming down to talk sense into her. A horn was involved, so surely the entire castle was aware of the situation. But if the father was just a normal ranger - then when she appeared, shouldn't he have been executed as an oathbreaker? This certainly explains why he would run her off, but not why the rest of the Watch would go along with it. Unless he was the LC. Who at the time (depending on Craster's age, of course, which we don't know) could well have been BR. 

But it also could have been a Stark, of course. Those were LC more often than not.

On 27/03/2018 at 11:49 AM, LynnS said:

Whitetree comes to mind.  Recently abandoned but with a weirwood that has a mouth large enough for a sheep or what remains of it's carcass. 

Yes but keep in mind that the burned bones they found in the mouth were no sheep bones. :devil:

 

On 27/03/2018 at 5:05 PM, Matthew. said:

Craster's offerings appear a bit silly in-world ("what do the white walkers do with the sheep?"), but GRRM is taking inspiration from real myths and practices; sheep as burnt offerings, smearing one's home with sacrificial lamb's blood to ward against evil, etc. 
 

Indeed, and as much as the fate of Craster's sons tends to be emphasized, I think the more interesting suggestion of Craster's Keep is the possibility that the Others are not indiscriminate slayers.

While Craster's Keep presents a speculative scenario in which one might be spared, I wonder if there is any pattern or significance to who is attacked. Is it especially bad for one's health to be "wrong" with the gods--eg, to break an oath sworn before a heart tree, to violate the laws of hospitality?

Perhaps not, but I think we at least have enough to determine that the Others are thoughtful and deliberate in their attacks--restraining the wight horde from throwing itself against Mance's gathering, and using Othor and Jaffer as trojan horses.

Yes! Yes yes yes!! Couldn't agree more! :cheers::cheers:

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1 hour ago, MaesterSam said:

This is an interesting proposition that I will have to think on some more. You should really check out some of LmL's threads and/or podcasts. He has a theory that the original NW consisted of dead reanimated greenseers. I've never heard this from anyone but him, until now! (except your reanimated greenseers are joining the Others, while his manned the Wall). 

I do have a question concerning the greenseer flying test. It seems to me that this test always occurs when a potential greenseer is near death - at least in Bran and Dany's cases, but I think in Jojen's too IIRC (mud fever?). We don't know about Euron, but it wouldn't surprise me if he was tested while either ill, injured or otherwise unconscious. So is a near-death experience a requirement for the flying dream/greenseer test? Because if so, then we have to wonder whether Bran's fall was somehow engineered by BR and/or the 3EC. Otherwise what was his plan, wait around until Bran gets fatally hurt one day by accident? Some people go their whole life without a near-death experience.

Other question: do we know the characters didn't die and return? Bran "wakes up" in his dream floating in space, Dany floats as well. If this is really a time when they are dead, and if time passes differently in this state .... it doesn't help us with the Starks, but would explain the grave worms and the "he's been dead for years" description of Rhaego. 

 (I would randomly add that out of the three characters with flying dreams, Euron with his blood eye is the only one who is appropriately marked by the Old Gods. Is this meaningful?)

I am familiar with LML's earlier podcasts but haven't listened for some time. 

The 'prentice boy's died (except for Mad Axe) and so the question is whether they were injured from a fall and in the same mental state as Bran when he was tested.  

Euron did suffer a fall from the cliffs as a boy and 'when he woke' he asked his maester if it was possible to fly.  So very much like Bran and Euron's crow's eye/bloodeye might be caused from brain trauma from the fall.  He also makes a comment to Victarion that it might be possible for him to fly.  All he has to do is jump off some tall cliff.  This is echoed by Bran who wants to teach all his siblings to fly.  And oddly, Jaime Lannister who used to jump off the cliffs at Casterly Rock until Tywin put a stop to it. Bran's fall does seem to be engineered in some way. I agree that Dany also flies and I think she did die or was near death. 

Rhaego's death and partial transformation into a dragon seems to be a result of MMD's ritual and another death for life exchange.  He changes states with one of the dragon eggs and so has been dead a long time while the egg comes alive in his place.  I'm guessing that this is the black egg. 

 

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7 hours ago, Feather Crystal said:

It is possible that some northmen further north captured Gared and brought him to the Lord of Winterfell so that the King’s Justice can be followed through. Ned as Warden of the North is the proper authority to bring a found deserter.

I don't think so, the text is pretty clear that he was captured up at or near the holdfast. Besides, if he was captured elsewhere he would surely have been taken directly to Winterfell

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5 hours ago, MaesterSam said:

We've been assuming she was killed in order to facilitate the Starks receiving the pups, right? And the difficulty is in timing it just right, and how could they possibly know the Starks would ride there that day, etc. But what if whoever killed her wasn't trying to help deliver the pups to the Starks - but was trying to prevent it? What if she was killed to stop her from delivering the pups?

As to the timing it was Gared's capture and execution which drew the Starks out that day, but if the object was to prevent the delivery it could have been accomplished more effectively by killing the helpless pups as well - just to make sure.

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4 hours ago, Black Crow said:

I don't think so, the text is pretty clear that he was captured up at or near the holdfast. Besides, if he was captured elsewhere he would surely have been taken directly to Winterfell

The text says he was taken outside a small holdfast in the hills. How far are the hills?

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23 minutes ago, Feather Crystal said:

The text says he was taken outside a small holdfast in the hills. How far are the hills?

Not too far if they were able to take an easy ride out there in the morning, cut his head off and then a leisurely ride back again

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14 hours ago, MaesterSam said:

We've been assuming she was killed in order to facilitate the Starks receiving the pups, right? And the difficulty is in timing it just right, and how could they possibly know the Starks would ride there that day, etc. But what if whoever killed her wasn't trying to help deliver the pups to the Starks - but was trying to prevent it? What if she was killed to stop her from delivering the pups?

I'd always assumed that when people raised the prospect of the mother being killed with an antler bone dagger, it wasn't just to ensure the pups would be helpless, but because the killing itself was a ritual sacrifice.

To revisit an observation on a prior page, the skinchanger magic is already 'working' (for lack of a better word) when the pups are discovered, at least for Jon, as he can 'hear' Ghost calling for him--Jon is already magically sensitive to Ghost, before an emotional bond has formed between the two, before Ghost has even been seen. Presumably, the Starks have spent years around Winterfell's kennel, horses, etc. without accidentally forming a skinchanger bond, unlike Varamyr, whose first bond is by accident. Now, these aren't family pets per se, but it may be notable that all six Starks are skinchangers, and all of their gifts appear to have awakened at the same time.

None of that necessarily matters, as GRRM clearly wanted the return and discovery of magic to be experienced in-world with a sense of wonder and terror, so it serves GRRM's storytelling purposes for the Starks' skinchanging to manifest the way it did, without there being any underlying conspiracy.

Edit: And, even if there was a conspiracy, I think there are still potential culprits besides Gared; if the Reeds are to be believed, there are already servants of the old gods south of the Wall with magical lore at their disposal - Howland himself, perhaps other crannogmen, and the Green Men - and we don't know how freely they range, or what all they may have been up to.

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19 hours ago, Black Crow said:

my scenario, which revolves around the she-wolf makes more sense than manipulation by Bloodraven or any other third party

That's true, but we can also just read the text in the most obvious way, that doesn't involve manipulation.

A very rare direwolf is found close to the Wolfswood, having taken a fatal wound (whether by a stag or a very crude antler knife).   She gave birth to cubs, and by coincidence, the cubs were found before they died or were killed.  They weren't killed by the Starks because Ned rolled his eyes and indulged Bran.

The reason none of the Stark party say "Good heavens! -- this direwolf can only have come from beyond the Wall via some unknown method!" is that they don't conclude that.  They are only very surprised to find a living direwolf.

However, re how the six cubs map to the six kids so perfectly, I've yet to read any persuasive account other than "GRRM wanted it like that."

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I view the dead mother direwolf and pups as being sent by the old gods, and it served multiple purposes. The old gods wanted the Stark children to receive the pups, and the mother herself was a message, it could even be said to have been prophetic, and I believe Ned and  his men caught most of the meaning, but what to do with the information? I don't believe Ned was influenced in any way, whereas when Cersei was presented with prophecy she pushed her friend down a well, and cultivated a lifelong hatred of her younger brother, Tyrion.

If the old gods sent the mother direwolf and pups, then they are connected to Bloodraven who watched and waited for Bran. He has a purpose in mind, even if we're not privy to the whole plan yet.

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