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Crowfood's Daughter

Dragon Origins: Part I

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Link to video if you prefer to watch...https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W5Ae4yvEHrE

Septon Barth

It is my own abiding sin that whenever I come upon a door I must needs see what lies upon the farther side, but certain doors are best left unopened. Aerea Targaryen went through such a door.” Septon Barth’s account ends there. He would never again touch upon the fate of Princess Aerea in any of his writings, and even these words would be sealed away amongst his privy papers, to remain undiscovered for almost a hundred years. The horrors he had witnessed had a profound affect upon the septon, however, exciting the very hunger for knowledge he called “my own abiding sin.” It was subsequent to this that Barth began the researches and investigations that would ultimately lead him to write Dragons, Wyrms, and Wyverns: Their Unnatural History*.” -Fire & Blood

Septon Barth was a man of low birth and the son of a common blacksmith who was given to the Faith at a young age. However, despite his humble beginnings, Septon Barth rose to one of the most powerful positions in the Seven Kingdoms… the Hand of the King. Interestingly, there have been various reasons kings have appointed a man as their hand. Some were chosen because they were flatters, others powerful, others were trusted family members, one was just really good at making wildfire. Well Septon Barth was really none of these-- instead, the reason he was chosen for this position was simply because he had a good head on his shoulders. As Fire & Blood puts it, Septon Barth was “the wisest man ever to serve as the Hand of the King”. Basically… Jaehaerys had chosen Septon Barth because of his natural gifts and intellect and had valued this above social standing, wealth or power. According to the Worldbook

“He was the son of a common blacksmith and had been given to the Faith while young. But his brilliance made itself known*, and in time he came to serve in the library at the Red Keep, tending the king’s books and records. There King Jaehaerys became acquainted with him, and soon named him Hand of the King.”* The World of Ice and Fire- The Targaryen Kings: Jaehaerys I

In addition to serving as Hand of the King, Septon Barth was also a scholar and had penned at least one book and a few other works. However, even in the face of both his intelligence and his status as a man of the Faith-- many of the ideas mentioned in his writings were scoffed at by the Citadel and during the reign of Baelor the Blessed, all of Barth’s writings were declared heretical and destroyed.

Regardless of the naysayers and proclamations of Baelor… the readers of ASOIAF soon discovered something very peculiar in Barth’s writings… and that peculiarity would be that he is generally right.

If you were to actually examine what has been given to us by Barth, you will see that what information we have consistently contains truth. For example, after consulting texts kept at Castle Black, Barth suggested that the Children of the Forest could speak with ravens and taught the First Men this skill, and the use of ravens as messengers is merely a degraded form of this historical use. Now despite what the Maesters of the Citadel and other naysayers might argue, Bloodraven himself has indeed confirmed this to be true:

"Do all the birds have singers in them?" "All," Lord Brynden said. "It was the singers who taught the First Men to send messages by raven … but in those days, the birds would speak the words. The trees remember, but men forget, and so now they write the messages on parchment and tie them round the feet of birds who have never shared their skin." A Dance with Dragons- Bran III

In addition to his insight into the control of ravens, Septon Barth also had a good understanding of many foundational concepts related to sanitation and public health:

Great works to improve King's Landing were also implemented—drains and sewers and wells, especially, for Barth believed that fresh water and the flushing away of offal and waste were important to a city's health. The World of Ice and Fire- The Targaryen Kings: Jaehaerys I

While the concepts laid out in this passage this may seem obvious to us, it seems Barth was ahead of his time with his understanding of disease transmission and it was through this knowledge that improvements enhancing the overall sanitation of Kingslanding were implemented.

Septon Barth also put forth that the inconsistencies of the cycling of the seasons was a result of the higher mysteries and magic rather than natural causes. Regardless of this explanation being scoffed at by the Citadel, in 2005, our author had actually confirmed this hypothesis to be the case… explaining that the erratic length of seasons has what he described as a fantasy explanation rather than one based on science.

Septon Barth also suggested that Dragons are able to change their gender at will and are neither male nor female… which is something that Maester Aemon seems to agree with:

“What fools we were, who thought ourselves so wise! The error crept in from the translation. Dragons are neither male nor female, Barth saw the truth of that, but now one and now the other, as changeable as flame*. The language misled us all for a thousand years. Daenerys is the one, born amidst salt and smoke. The dragons prove it." A Feast for Crows- Samwell IV

In addition to Maester Aemon’s agreement in these assumptions; as it turns out, the concept of an animal’s ability to change genders is rooted in reality and has real life examples in a handful of amphibian, reptile and aquatic species. So Barth’s supposition that dragons can do the same is not a far-fetched claim as there are actual real world examples of this. And when paired with Maester Aemon’s statement it seems dragons being able to change genders may very well be the case.

Barth's Hypothesis

Now of all the things Barth has written, we really know of only three works; two of which are described fragmented treatises. The third work of Barth’s appears to be his primary body of research and is the most referenced within the series. This body of work is known as “Dragons, Wyrms and Wyverns: Their Unnatural History”, which is sometimes simply referred to as “Unnatural History”. As it turns out, Unnatural History, was catalyzed by his own curiosity when he witnessed the horrors of Aerea Targaryen’s death… an incident that ignited his investigations into dragon lore- which brings us to yet another of Barth’s suppositions: The Origin of Dragons.

According to the Worldbook Barth had consulted various texts and legends that explain the origins of dragons and considered many of them before making his conclusions. In Qarth, there is a legend that tells how dragons came from a second moon in the sky, the Asshai’i claim that an ancient, nameless people tamed dragons in the Shadow and brought them to Valyria before disappearing from history. The Valyrians however have their own explanation claiming that dragons sprang forth from the great volcanos of Valyria known as the fourteen flames and claim to possess blood ties to the creatures themselves.

“Sheltered there, amidst the great volcanic mountains known as the Fourteen Flames, were the Valyrians, who learned to tame dragons and make them the most fearsome weapon of war that the world ever saw. The tales the Valyrians told of themselves claimed they were descended from dragons and were kin to the ones they now controlled*. The World of Ice & Fire

Ultimately, after studying all the sources Barth put forth his own hypothesis suggesting that the bloodmages of Valyria experimented with wyvern stock in order to create dragon. And there is evidence to support this claim as the worldbook mentions wyverns are closely related to dragons and are a match for them in all other respects save for two. Wyverns cannot breathe fire, and they are generally smaller in size with the largest wyverns topping out at a maximum of only 30 feet.

Now aside from wyverns, the text of A Feast for Crows also suggests Firewyrms are closely related to dragons:

"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. A Feast for Crows- Arya II

So according to the Kindly Man, in addition to dragons it is claimed there is only one other type of creature capable of breathing flame: The Firewyrm.

Now when we examine the full title of Unnatural History we see it is called ‘Dragons, Wyrms, and Wyverns: Their Unnatural History’. From the title alone we see that a connection between dragons and firewyrms were inevitably drawn. And because of this, the fandom has deduced that the mixing of firewyrm and wyvern stock through bloodmagic might have been exactly what Barth had suggested as both creatures share several properties to dragons. What properties the wyvern lacks in size and combustion the firewyrm possesses as these worms are able to both grow to monstrous proportions and breath fire.

Then, when you examine the text and how the dragons are occasionally described, this possibility becomes even more feasible because there have been a few times when dragons have been described as wyrms.

Wyrm Fingerprints

For example, on Dragonstone, a fortress built during the time of the Valyrian freehold, we see the towers are mentioned as being fashioned in the likeness of dragons hunched above the walls or poised for flight. And in A Storm of Swords, we learn the name of one of those dragon towers is called the Windwyrm.

Caraxys, the mount of Daemon Targaryen, was given a nickname by the smallfolk, and that nickname was none other than the Blood Wyrm.

Sunfyre is another great example as this dragon was also described as a wyrm. Sunfyre had participated in one of the first major battles of the Dance at Rook's Rest. Although Aegon and his mount emerged victorious, both were grievously wounded in the fight. Despite attempts to recover the injured dragon and move him to another site, Sunfyre was too heavy to be relocated, and unable to fly with an injured wing. Instead Sunfyre remained in the fields beyond Rook’s Rest, crawling through the ashes and was described as looking “like some great golden wyrm”. In addition to that description, there was also an attempt made on Sunfyre’s life after Lord Moontoon had retaken Rook’s Rest. According to the text:

The would-be dragonslayers easily drove off the cordon of guards who had been left to feed, serve, and protect the dragon, but Sunfyre himself proved more formidable than expected. Dragons are awkward creatures on the ground, and his torn wing left the great golden wyrm unable to take to the air. The attackers expected to find the beast near death. Instead they found him sleeping, but the clash of swords and thunder of horses soon roused him, and the first spear to strike him provoked him to fury. Slimy with mud, twisting amongst the bones of countless sheep, Sunfyre writhed and coiled like a serpent, his tail lashing, sending blasts of golden flame at his attackers as he struggled to fly. -The Princess and the Queen

So again, we see Sunfyre likened to a wyrm, but in addition to this, we also see him likened to a serpent. Now what you may not be aware of is the connotation of what the word wyrm might represent. You see our author uses a very specific spelling for the term “Firewyrm” with a “y” replacing the letter “o”. In fantasy literature a wyrm spelled “w-y-r-m” often denotes a serpent or snake-like creature or a limbless dragon and this use of the term in fantasy literature happens to be a nod to some ancient semantics.

As it turns out, some of the earliest depictions of dragons were wingless, snake like creatures. Examples of this include Fafnir of Norse mythology, the dragon depicted in Beowulf, and also many of the dragons of Chinese mythology. Because of this, the dragon in Beowulf was described as a “wurm” which means "serpent” in Old English and is rooted in the term ‘ormr’ of Old Norse, which also means a snake or mythological serpent. So, with Sunfyre being described as both a wyrm spelled “w-y-r-m” and a serpent in this passage you can see the relationship the author is placing on the two terms as well.

Now with that knowledge, in Daenerys VIII (8) of A Dance with Dragons, Dany takes Quentyn to the pit where Viserion and Rhaegal are confined and she finds herself wondering if dragons are able to tunnel through rock, like the firewyrms of Old Valyria.

“The bones on the floor of the pit were deeper than the last time she had been down here, and the walls and floors were black and grey, more ash than brick. They would not hold much longer … but behind them was only earth and stone. Can dragons tunnel through rock, like the firewyrms of old Valyria? She hoped not”. -A Dance with Dragons- Daenerys VIII

Interestingly, the very next time we return to the pit, Quentyn is attempting to steal a dragon and we find that the dragons may indeed be capable of tunneling through rock. Viscerion had escaped from his chains and made himself a cave which was described as a burrow in the rock. And in this very same chapter we again see a similar serpent-like description as Rhaegal is described as being like ‘some great green serpent’.

“Behind a fence of sharp black teeth he glimpsed the furnace glow, the shimmer of a sleeping fire a hundred times brighter than his torch. The dragon's head was larger than a horse's, and the neck stretched on and on, uncoiling like some great green serpent as the head rose, until those two glowing bronze eyes were staring down at him.” A Dance with Dragons- The Dragontamer

When Daenerys is in Daznak's Pit we are yet again given another example of this snake-like description.

Dany swung the lash at his scaled belly, back and forth until her arm began to ache. His long serpentine neck bent like an archer's bow. With a hisssssss, he spat black fire down at her. Dany darted underneath the flames, swinging the whip and shouting, "No, no, no. Get DOWN!" His answering roar was full of fear and fury, full of pain. His wings beat once, twice … … and folded. A Dance with Dragons- Daenerys IX

So, when looking at the evidence at hand with Septon Barth, not only do we find a man who is often right and a trusted source of information suggesting this hypothesis, but also we have corroborations within the text revealing several comparisons that support his theory as well.

In addition to all the comparisons, descriptions and metaphors tying wyrms and serpent-like creatures to dragons… Fire and Blood gave us something of a smoking gun: The hatching of Laena Targaryen’s dragon egg:

“Her parents' pride and pleasure quickly turned to ash, however; the dragon that wriggled from the egg was a monstrosity, a wingless wyrm, maggot-white and blind. Within moments of hatching, the creature turned upon the babe in her cradle and tore a bloody chunk from her arm. As Laena shrieked, Lord Oakenfist ripped the "dragon" off her, flung it to the floor, and hacked it to pieces.” Fire & Blood

The Devil is in the Details

“A wingless wyrm, maggot white and blind”. Although the description of a worm-like creature in itself is quite telling… there is something you might not have noticed. If you recall, firewrms are said to be subterranean… creatures said to "bore through stone and soil". If you have taken biology in the past you will know that creatures who live in subterranean habitats that are void of any light are often found to have two features… (1)they often lack pigment and (2) are often eyeless or have vestigial eyes that are without function and blind because eyesight and pigment are unnecessarily in habitats that are completely void of any light.

This real-world concept happens to be one our author is well aware of (and has incorporated into his world) as there are subterranean fish within the caves Westeros that also have this feature that is mentioned in Bloodraven’s cave and also the cave found within the Arianne sample chapter for the upcoming Winds of Winter.

“Under the hill they still had food to eat. A hundred kinds of mushrooms grew down here. Blind white fish swam in the black river*, but they* tasted just as good as fish with eyes once you cooked them up.” A Dance with Dragons- Bran III

In fact, in another story entitled “In the House of the Worm” our author incorporated subterranean worms into that story as well- and also made sure to give them the same pale white and eyeless features.

So, because this is a concept our author has incorporated into the series, and one he has also used in the past… this means there is a pretty good chance that the firewyrms who thrive in similar dark conditions may also be white and blind or eyeless. So in the case of Laena’s dragon not only do we have an instance where a dragon is born wrong, without wings, and described as a wyrm, but in addition to that, this dragon is also born “maggot white and blind”. So, what we are probably being given here, and what is probably being hinted at is a dragon whose wyrm genetics had simply presented more physically.

So in addition to all the other information we had prior to the publication of Fire and Blood, with the account of Laena Targaryen’s hatchling, it seems highly likely Septon Barth may once again be correct. It seems his hypothesis of bloodmagic and genetic alteration may very well be the case for the origins of dragons.

The Blood of the Dragon

As interesting as Laena Targaryen’s hatchling was in Fire & Blood, that was not the only smoking gun to be found. If you recall it is said the Valyrians claimed they themselves were descended from dragons and were kin to the ones they now controlled… Now after understanding there is a good chance dragons were created through bloodmagic and sorcery, (2)in addition to accounts of Valyrian bloodmages experimenting mightily with their unnatural arts, and of Gogossos where it is said slaves were mated with beasts to create monstrosities… Well, there may be some truth to the Valyrian claims of possessing the “Blood of the Dragon”.

As it turns out, this second smoking gun in Fire & Blood came in the form of the curious case of Aerea Targaryen… the very incident that ignited Septon Barth’s curiosities which led him to write Unnatural History.

For those who haven’t read Fire and Blood, Aerea Targaryen was a young Targaryen Princess who had resolved to run away from home, but instead of hopping on a bus or going to stay with a friend Aerea claimed Balerion as a mount, disappearing without a trace. She remained missing for almost a full year and according to the text, no one knows where she went but according to Barth, all clues pointed toward the smoking ruins of Valyria.

Now when Aerea returned to Kingslanding, she was at the brink of death and in the most critical of conditions. It is recounted that Balerion just showed up one day and landed near Maegor’s Holdfast where she slid off Balerion and collapsed. Ser Lucamore Strong had been the one to carry Aerea to Red Keep. Fire and Blood goes on to say about this Lucamore’s encounter:

“Later he would tell anyone who would listen that the girl was flushed and burning with fever, her skin so hot he could feel it even through the enameled scale of his armor. She had blood in her eyes as well, the knight claimed, and “there was something inside her*, something moving that made her shudder and twist in my arms.”* Fire & Blood

We would later learn from Septon Barth’s testimony on the matter what those things twisting inside Aerea were.

“The things…Mother have mercy, I do not know how to speak of them…they were…worms with faces…snakes with hands…twisting, slimy, unspeakable things that seemed to writhe and pulse and squirm as they came bursting from her flesh. Some were no bigger than my little finger, but one at least was as long as my arm…oh, Warrior protect me, the sounds they made… “They died, though. I must remember that, cling to that. Whatever they might have been, they were creatures of heat and fire, and they did not love the ice” Fire & Blood

In response to these accounts, there has been much talk and speculation throughout the fandom on what had befallen Aerea and what these worms could be. Luckily, there is a general consensus on the matter because well, there aren’t a lot of options for what these things called “creatures of heat and fire” could be. Really, there are only two options… and those two options would be Firewyrms or a hybrid variation as they are described as ‘worms with faces’, and ‘snakes with hands’.

From Barth’s accounts of Aerea alone, these claims of Valyrians descending from dragons may very well hold some remnants of truth because we see Aerea’s worms and how her body was able to accommodate these creatures well beyond the means of the average man and we naturally become drawn to these conclusions. As Septon Barth puts it:

“What befell her on Valyria I cannot surmise. Judging from the condition in which she returned to us, I do not even care to contemplate it. The Valyrians were more than dragonlords. They practiced blood magic and other dark arts as well, delving deep into the earth for secrets best left buried and twisting the flesh of beasts and men to fashion monstrous and unnatural chimeras. For these sins the gods in their wroth struck them down. Valyria is accursed, all men agree, and even the boldest sailor steers well clear of its smoking bones…but we would be mistaken to believe that nothing lives there now. The things we found inside Aerea Targaryen live there now, I would submit…along with such other horrors as we cannot even begin to imagine. Fire & Blood

Now after understanding the link between Firewyrms and dragons… and taking into consideration the possibility Valyrians may also in some sense share the “Blood of the Dragon” … let’s take a moment to examine the deformities seen in the occasional Targaryen stillbirth.

According to the Worldbook, Maegor the Cruel was plagued by infertility and what children did result from his many marriages were described as deformed monstrosities said to be: “misshapen, eyeless, limbless, or having the parts of man and woman both”. In fact, Fire & Blood retells that his child with Alys Harroway had twisted limbs, a huge head, and was born eyeless. His child with Jeyne Westerling was reportedly a legless and armless creature possessed of both male and female genitalia and Queen Elinor delivered of a stillborn child described as an eyeless boy born with rudimentary wings.

While taking into consideration the firewyrm deformities seen in Laena Targaryen’s hatchling that was without limbs and blind; when we examine the children of Maegor, we see a child without limbs and and eyes in addition to rudimentary wings and possessing both male and female genitalia which also happens to be very reminiscent of Barth’s other pearl of wisdom of dragons being neither male nor female. And when we look at how Maegor’s difficulties are described we see another hint…

Maegor was cursed, men said. He had slain his nephew, made war against the Faith and the High Septon, defied the gods, committed murder and incest, adultery and rape. His privy parts were poisoned, his seed full of worms, the gods would never grant him a living son. Fire & Blood

Of course as we all know, Maegor was not the only Targaryen to conceive such children. When we examine Daenerys’ child Rhaego, we see many of the same descriptions:

"Twisted. I drew him forth myself. He was scaled like a lizard, blind, with the stub of a tail and small leather wings like the wings of a bat." A Game of Thrones- Daenerys IX

Twisted, scaled like a lizard, and blind, with a stub of a tail and wings like a bat… and this description echoes not only the children of Maegor but also echoes the deformities seen in the stillborn Visenya; the daughter of Queen Rhaenyra; a child described as twisted and malformed, with a stubby, scaled tail. Now I have seen many argue that Mirri Maz Durr could have easily concocted these details of Rhaego… which she could have. But the only problem with Mirri Maz Durr concocting these details of Rhaego is that she more than likely did not possess the knowledge of the children born to Maegor and Rhaenyra and Rhaego’s deformities echo and align with quite well with the other Targaryen children who were twisted, sometimes scaled, blind or eyeless, or had a stub of a tail or rudimentary wings.

Now with taking into consideration the evidence at hand it seems very likely there is truth in the hypothesis of wyverns being magically crossed with firewyms… and in addition to this, the claims of the Valyrian people possessing the blood of the dragon and being kin to the ones they controlled may also bear some weight.

The Conundrum

However, even with all these new details in Fire and Blood supporting these origins… there is one slight problem. Despite the evidence supporting Valyrian bloodmagic in the creation of dragons, there is evidence to suggest dragons existed even prior to the founding of Valyria.

In Septon Barth's Dragons, Wyrms, and Wyverns, he speculated that the bloodmages of Valyria used wyvern stock to create dragons. Though the bloodmages were alleged to have experimented mightily with their unnatural arts, this claim is considered far-fetched by most maesters, among them Maester Vanyon's Against the Unnatural contains certain proofs of dragons having existed in Westeros even in the earliest of days, before Valyria rose to be a power. The World of Ice and Fire- Beyond the Free Cities: Sothoryos

You see the Valyrians had a very specific building technique where they would use dragon flame to create fused stone. It is an incredibly hard and durable material that leaves no hint of any joint or seam. And there just so happen to be two very large pieces of evidence to suggest a much older civilization had first developed this technique. If you are familiar with the Worldbook it describes something in the Far East called The Five Forts, a line of hulking ancient citadels located along northeastern border.

“Certain scholars from the west have suggested Valyrian involvement in the construction of the Five Forts, for the great walls are single slabs of fused black stone that resemble certain Valyrian citadels in the west...but this seems unlikely, for the Forts predate the Freehold's rise, and there is no record of any dragonlords ever coming so far east.” The World of Ice and Fire- The Bones and Beyond: Yi Ti

The Worldbook then goes on to retell that the Five Fort are impossibly old and are believed to have been raised by an ancient and mysterious civilization known as The Great Empire of the Dawn… a period well before the founding of the Valyrian freehold. Interestingly there is also another impossibly old structure made of fused stone… And while the origin of this structure remains a mystery and a source of speculation to maesters, the fandom has come to a consensus that the source of its construction was also the Great Empire. The structure that I am referring to would be none other than the base of the Hightower on Battle Isle.

More troubling, and more worthy of consideration, are the arguments put forth by those who claim that the first fortress is not Valyrian at all. The fused black stone of which it is made suggests Valyria, but the plain, unadorned style of architecture does not, for the dragonlords loved little more than twisting stone into strange, fanciful, and ornate shapes. Within, the narrow, twisting, windowless passages strike many as being tunnels rather than halls; it is very easy to get lost amongst their turnings. Mayhaps this is no more than a defensive measure designed to confound attackers, but it too is singularly un-Valyrian. The World of Ice and Fire- The Reach: Oldtown

Additionally, if you have been in the fandom for some time and have watched History of Westeros’ episodes done in collaboration with Lucifer means Lightbringer that cover The Great Empire of the Dawn and Asshai, you will also know there are several clues to suggest that Asshai, an incredibly old and mysterious city, was once most likely also part of The Great Empire of the Dawn. What is interesting here, is that in addition to architectural proof of dragons existing during the Great Empire… there are also several tales recalling dragons originated long ago in Asshai, not Valyria. In fact, we learn this little nugget of information in the first book of a Game of Thrones when Dany is talking with her handmaidens.

Dany mentions hearing stories of the first dragons coming from the Shadow Lands beyond Asshai and the islands of the Jade Sea. The Worldbook also mentions ancient tales from Asshai claim that an unnamed people tamed the first dragons, brought them to Valyria, and taught the Valyrians their arts before departing from the annals of history. When Aegon the Fifth became consumed for knowledge of hatching dragons, he quite possibly believed these tales as well and had commissioned journeys to places as far away as Asshai in search of dragon knowledge. So, it seems in addition to the architectural evidence of the Great Empire having dragons, there are also certain histories suggesting this origin as well.

So now with the evidence at hand you can see the conundrum here. Was it the Valyrians who worked bloodmagic and sorcery to create dragons as the evidence suggests? Or did the Great Empire of the Dawn first have dragons as the evidence also suggests? There are answers to these questions which we will address in part II, and in doing so we will also be uncovering some details of the origin of Valyrian race… which may surprise you.

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