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Anthony Appleyard

The Hardhome fire (c.300 BC)

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See  https://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/Hardhome : the disaster from its description does not seem to be only an ordinary fire of buildings. "Afterwards, ashes rained down on the haunted forest and the Shivering Sea alike for almost half a year." :: it seems that one of these happened:

(1) Something powerful magical happened.

(2) The building fire ignited some sort of natural underground (not yet tapped by men) fuel reserve.

(3) A volcanic eruption, likely through shallow water, as accounts do not mention a crater or caldera afterwards. Compare the Doom of Valyria, but on a much smaller scale. (Other volcanic activity in Westeros includes Dragonstone, and the hot springs that keep Winterfell castle warm).

Edited by Anthony Appleyard

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This seems to suggest that the people in the area had time to seek shelter in the surrounding waters, then still died from something. Perhaps falling ash and/or poisonous volcanic vapors. 

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Traders reported finding only nightmarish devastation where Hardhome had stood, a landscape of charred trees and burned bones, waters choked with swollen corpses, blood-chilling shrieks echoing from the cave mouths that pocked the great cliff that loomed above the settlement.

Cave/tunnel systems may suggest firewyrms in the area at some point. 

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Yes, it suggests a geothermal explosion underground to me, mostly because something appears to be still burning half a year later if ashes are still falling.

But in a book that includes dragons, we'd be remiss not to suspect they incited the first explosion. My favorite is that a clutch of Valyrian dragon riders seeking the elusive Braavosi slaves in that vicinity happened upon a group of Others in Westeros and obliterated them.  I also like the idea that proto-Valyrians came from Westeros originally, were responsible for defeating the Others during the Long Night, and even after moving their population to Essos where they became the Valyrians, they remained true to their pact and their enemy, and have always patrolled the westerosi northeastern coast on the lookout for Other activity. 

Just a couple of fun theories.  But I don't think dragon fire alone could have made it rain ash for six months.

 

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On 12/10/2019 at 11:48 AM, Anthony Appleyard said:

See  https://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/Hardhome : the disaster from its description does not seem to be only an ordinary fire of buildings. "Afterwards, ashes rained down on the haunted forest and the Shivering Sea alike for almost half a year." :: it seems that one of these happened:

(1) Something powerful magical happened.

(2) The building fire ignited some sort of natural underground (not yet tapped by men) fuel reserve.

(3) A volcanic eruption, likely through shallow water, as accounts do not mention a crater or caldera afterwards. Compare the Doom of Valyria, but on a much smaller scale. (Other volcanic activity in Westeros includes Dragonstone, and the hot springs that keep Winterfell castle warm).

My suspicion has always been that it was a test-run for the Doom, or at least the same magic that was successful in Hardhome was used again.

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20 hours ago, John Suburbs said:

My suspicion has always been that it was a test-run for the Doom, or at least the same magic that was successful in Hardhome was used again.

I always liked this theory, and it would definitely make sense if indeed the FM brought the doom which I believe they did (maybe furthering existing tensions and infighting between the dragon lord families). But I am curious, wouldn't the FM be hesitant to do something that can take the lives of innocent people, when their whole MO seems to be only bringing the "gift" to those who deserve it and not others? Wouldn't it be against their ideology to harm people other than their intended targets?

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3 hours ago, The Ghost Beyond the Wall said:

I always liked this theory, and it would definitely make sense if indeed the FM brought the doom which I believe they did (maybe furthering existing tensions and infighting between the dragon lord families). But I am curious, wouldn't the FM be hesitant to do something that can take the lives of innocent people, when their whole MO seems to be only bringing the "gift" to those who deserve it and not others? Wouldn't it be against their ideology to harm people other than their intended targets?

The FM were certainly involved in the Doom, which harmed both slavers and slaves alike, but I think the CotF were part of it as well. Both the Doom and Hardhome had all the earth-shattering aspects of the Arm of Dorne and the creation of the Neck. The CotF would have a vested interest in not allowing human civilization to take root north of the Wall too.

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I posted something about this in the I Never Noticed thread.

The passage about Hardhome in ADwD talks about the wildlings being carried off into slavery and about cannibalism which is reminiscent of what is going on 600 years later at Hardhome.

The wildlings are gathered there, Lyseni ships (Lys where the blood of old Valyria is very strong) carry them off into slavery, there's no food, so the wildlings have turned to cannibalism.

Cotter Pyke's letter to Jon does give things a bit more perspective when he writes about dead things in the woods, dead things in the water.

I think the Valyrians came to Hardhome with their ships and their dragons, lit up the place because of dead things in the woods, dead things in the water, carried off the wildlings into slavery. Those who remained ate their own because there was no food. 

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11 hours ago, Alexis-something-Rose said:

I posted something about this in the I Never Noticed thread.

The passage about Hardhome in ADwD talks about the wildlings being carried off into slavery and about cannibalism which is reminiscent of what is going on 600 years later at Hardhome.

The wildlings are gathered there, Lyseni ships (Lys where the blood of old Valyria is very strong) carry them off into slavery, there's no food, so the wildlings have turned to cannibalism.

Cotter Pyke's letter to Jon does give things a bit more perspective when he writes about dead things in the woods, dead things in the water.

I think the Valyrians came to Hardhome with their ships and their dragons, lit up the place because of dead things in the woods, dead things in the water, carried off the wildlings into slavery. Those who remained ate their own because there was no food. 

I find the idea about Valryians coming to Hardhome in the past interesting for sure. Another theory I have heard is that the dragon lords were searching for the escaped slaves who founded Braavos, ended up in Hardhome and burned the settlement, but they'd have gone way off course to end up across the Narrow Sea. I am also intrigued by the idea that the Valyrians came to capture the escaped slaves, and wargs attempted to gain control of the dragons leading to devastation and the aftermath of what we see today. But that is curious to me, if your theory holds, was it really worth it for the Valyrians to cross the Narrow Sea to Hardhome just to burn some wights and take the wildlings as slaves, when the lands of the east were far more suitable to their interests?

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10 hours ago, The Ghost Beyond the Wall said:

But that is curious to me, if your theory holds, was it really worth it for the Valyrians to cross the Narrow Sea to Hardhome just to burn some wights and take the wildlings as slaves, when the lands of the east were far more suitable to their interests?

I think it's possible when we look at the timeline we have.

Dragonstone is annexed to the Freehold in 314 BC. And whatever happened at Hardhome, happened 14 years later, in 300 BC. There's got to be a reason they decided to take Dragonstone when they did.

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Three words: volcano demon invasion.

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He did. Hardhome had been halfway toward becoming a town, the only true town north of the Wall, until the night six hundred years ago when hell had swallowed it. Its people had been carried off into slavery or slaughtered for meat, depending on which version of the tale you believed, their homes and halls consumed in a conflagration that burned so hot that watchers on the Wall far to the south had thought the sun was rising in the north. Afterward ashes rained down on haunted forest and Shivering Sea alike for almost half a year. Traders reported finding only nightmarish devastation where Hardhome had stood, a landscape of charred trees and burned bones, waters choked with swollen corpses, blood-chilling shrieks echoing from the cave mouths that pocked the great cliff that loomed above the settlement. -ADWD, Jon VIII



Who eats people or drags them away into slavery? Demons, emerging through a volcanic eruption. Any volcanic location in the series is associated with demons in some way: demon-haunted Valyria, gargoyle guarded Dragonstone, the iron swords in the Winterfell crypts.
 

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How old is Oldtown, truly? Many a maester has pondered that question, but we simply do not know. The origins of the city are lost in the mists of time and clouded by legend. Some ignorant septons claim that the Seven themselves laid out its boundaries, other men that dragons once roosted on the Battle Isle until the first Hightower put an end to them. Many smallfolk believe the Hightower itself simply appeared one day. The full and true history of the founding of Oldtown will likely never be known. -TWOIAF

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Yet mysteries remain. The stony island where the Hightower stands is known as Battle Isle even in our oldest records, but why? What battle was fought there? When? Between which lords, which kings, which races? Even the singers are largely silent on these matters. -TWOIAF



We have an island where dragons roost (they like volcanoes, remember), once the site of a great battle with a completely unknown enemy, that now has a fused black stone fortress plug on top of it. Just like the Five Forts, which were also explicitly said by the Yi Tish to be built as defense against "demons."

Also, gigantic underground cavern systems that go down to the center of the planet which people hear horrible noises coming out of.

Why does nobody know about these demons? Because the maesters cover it up.


 

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>A most fascinating account of Hardhome can be found in Maester Wyllis's Hardhome: An Account of Three Years Spent Beyond-the-Wall among Savages, Raiders, and Woodswitches. Wyllis journeyed to Hardhome on a Pentoshi trader and established himself there as a healer and counselor so that he might write of their customs. He was given the protection of Gorm the Wolf—a chieftain who shared control of Hardhome with three other chiefs. When Gorm was murdered in a drunken brawl, however, Wyllis found himself in mortal danger and made his way back to Oldtown. There he set down his account, only to vanish the year after the illuminations were done. It was said in the Citadel that he was last seen at the docks, looking for a ship that would take him to Eastwatch-by-the-Sea. -TWOIAF



The idea that there's an actual hell beneath the surface of Planetos would terrify people, and possibly be weaponized by particularly twisted individuals (cough Euron cough). So the maesters make sure absolutely nobody knows about it. If you light the obsidian candles or try to investigate what happens after death like Qyburn did, the maesters shut you up one way or another. Because if you go down those roads it's only a matter of time before you figure out the truth.

Edited by BalorCrowsEye

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