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How to wake a sleeping dragon - a theory


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This theory came up when I was trying to find a more or less reasonable explanation for The Others, their behavior and their goals. It ended up being a theory about swords and reborn heroes, but along the way, I think I found several interesting things.

The first question I asked myself was, why now? What made The Others ‘appear’ after thousands of years, and for no apparent reason. Clearly, something "woke them".

Since we don't know why they appeared the first time, and we don't know how and why they left either, the best we can do is look for patterns. There must be some event that we can identify that links what happened thousands of years ago to what is happening now, and I think I found that pattern.

We’ll start with what we know about The Others.


I.              The Sword



“In that darkness, the Others came for the first time," she said as her needles went click click click. "They were cold things, dead things, that hated iron and fire and the touch of the sun, and every creature with hot blood in its veins. They swept over holdfasts and cities and kingdoms, felled heroes and armies by the score, riding their pale dead horses and leading hosts of the slain. All the swords of men could not stay their advance, and even maidens and suckling babes found no pity in them.” Bran IV AGoT


According to the legend that Old Nan tells Bran, the Others are “cold dead things that hate iron and fire and “the touch of the sun”. What interests us for now is the “touch of the sun” because it makes you think that the Others are gargoyles.

A gargoyle is a beast that remains in its stone form during the day (it’s a statue), but at night, the gargoyle comes to life to terrorize the place they guard. That is exactly the behavior of The Others, they terrorize the watch during winter nights and disappear (or "melt away") during the day when the "touch of the sun" reaches them. This explains of course that the end of the "Long Night" was called "the battle for the dawn", since the idea is to make The Others 'melt' definitively.

There is another interesting place in terms of gargoyles, the crypt of Winterfell.

As we know, when the Starks (lords or kings) die, a statue of ‘their likeness’ is built in their honor and a sword is placed on their lap. The sword does exactly what the "the touch of the sun" do to the gargoyles (and the Others) keep them still. The sword keeps "the vengeful spirits" inside the crypt. Apparently, the Starks feared (or hoped) that their dead would rise, at least the kings. This is where things get interesting.

As we know, the legend that I mentioned before, speaks of the Last Hero, the one responsible for finding the magic that ends the long night. Old Nan doesn't finish the story, so we don't know what he found, but we know that he was the last of a group of 13 people, and that after his companions die one by one, he is all alone and his sword “froze so hard”, that the steel shattered when he tried to use it.

Related to this legend, there’s another hero, Azor Ahai. This one needed a "special" sword, but when forging it, it breaks twice. Eventually he realizes that what he needs to forge it once and for all, is his wife’s blood, so he sacrifices her.




'Nissa Nissa,' he said to her, for that was her name, 'bare your breast, and know that I love you best of all that is in this world.' She did this thing, why I cannot say, and Azor Ahai thrust the smoking sword through her living heart. It is said that her cry of anguish and ecstasy left a crack across the face of the moon, but her blood and her soul and her strength and her courage all went into the steel. Such is the tale of the forging of Lightbringer, the Red Sword of Heroes.

"Now do you see my meaning? Be glad that it is just a burnt sword that His Grace pulled from that fire. Too much light can hurt the eyes, my friend, and fire burns."



Now, during the sacrifice, her blood and her soul and her strength and her courage all went into the steel. This is how Lightbringer, the “red” sword, is forged.

Here I must pause for a minute to talk about vows, the army created specifically to fight during the Long Night, and the third gargoyle in this story, the Night’s Watch. The NW doesn’t have any specific function after the 'dawn', basically they are 'statues' that just watch from the wall waiting for the Long Night to come to go and terrorize those mean Others. So clearly, there’s a link between The Others, Lightbringer, and the NW that will be clear soon.

For now, I just need to mention that there are two vows that are directly related to the heroes of legend:


·       I am the sword in the darkness: related to the LH and the Starks, considering what I mentioned about the crypt.

·       The light that brings the dawn: clearly related with Lightbringer, the end of the Long Night and the new day.


I want to highlight a couple of extremely interesting things regarding these vows. When Ned arrives at the Tower of Joy and talks to the 3 guards, towards the end of the dialogue (as they prepare to fight), Dayne tells him “And now it begins”, to which Ned replies with sadness in his voice, “No. Now it ends”.

This exchange is reminiscent of the beginning of the Night's Watch vows, when the brothers recite "Night gathers, and now my watch begins, it shall not end until my death."

The two vows that I mentioned are about a sword "in the darkness" that, as I said, makes you think of the way that the Starks are buried, and on the other hand of the "light that brings the dawn", as if the vows were talking about two different swords, opposites, one of darkness and one of light, and that’s exactly the case.

That idea is repeated elsewhere, in the song "The Dornishman's wife" that contrasts the light and beauty of the woman, in opposition to the darkness and coldness of the Dornishman's sword.

Dayne, as Ned remembers in his tower dream, was "the sword of the morning" and when he draws the sword, Ned notices that Dawn is "alive with light" as opposed to what he remembers of Lyanna, when she spills the rose petals "dead and black” as she dies, so this idea of light and darkness is repeated.

The tower episode takes place in Dorne, a very interesting place because it’s the place where Rhaegar's wife, Elia, was born. Ned remembers the red mountains that can be seen behind the tower, emphasizing this link, considering that Elia's coat of arms has a spear piercing the sun (like the Tower is piercing the red landscape).

The guards, for their part, clearly had no intention of leaving that place alive, which again makes you think about the "red" sword, mostly because even after 15 years, in Ned's dreams, the faces of the guards still 'burn', as Lightbringer is supposed to burn.

Ned's dream is extremely interesting and I'll talk more of that dream later, but first we need to talk about another legend, of the 13th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, the Night's King and his queen.


II. The Watcher


In the legend, the NK is the 13th LC, the number of course links him to the LH, who was the 13th hero of the group looking for magic. On the other hand, the NK legend also mentions the Others, the LC is supposed to make sacrifices, so we can (and should) assume that his story is related to the LH, even though they are not the same person.

In the legend, the NK was a "fearless warrior" and this is important for two details:

• Fearless: when Old Nan begins to tell the legend of the LH and the Others, he tells Bran “fear is for the winter” and this is important as we will see.

• Warrior: We know very little about Rhaegar, but one of the things we do know is that, at a young age, after reading "something" the prince announced that he needed to be a warrior, and this is also important in this legend.


The LC falls in love with a woman and “chased her and caught her and loved her”. The somewhat sudden infatuation, the chase and the presumed love of course makes one think of Lyanna and Rhaegar, as it should, but things are much more complicated.



“A woman was his downfall; a woman glimpsed from atop the Wall, with skin as white as the moon and eyes like blue stars. Fearing nothing, he chased her and caught her and loved her, though her skin was cold as ice, and when he gave his seed to her, he gave his soul as well.” Bran IV ASoS


The description of the woman makes you think of an “Other” and that’s the point, but the thing is that the woman is an “other” but not in the sense of the blue-eyed creatures that roam north of the Wall, but rather the other woman in love with Rhaegar, his wife. Legend calls the woman the "corpse queen" and here is the crux of the matter.

We know that AA sacrificed his wife NN to create his sword, Lightbringer, and we know that this sword is the one that creates a brand new day, or rather, "the song of fire" in which, as Brianne said:


"Winter will never come for the likes of us. Should we die in battle, they will surely sing of us, and it's always summer in the songs. In the songs all knights are gallant, all maids are beautiful, and the sun is always shining."

In short, Lightbringer ends the Long Night, the long affaire, what the legend doesn’t say is that Lightbringer is not exactly a sword, nor that the day can be as terrifying as the night.

To understand how LB was forged, let's first examine what the legend says, and then I'll talk about the falling.

When Azor Ahai realizes that he needs his wife's blood, basically, that he needs her dead, this happens: “her blood and her soul and her strength and her courage all went into the steel”. So basically, part of NN, her best part, her ‘essence’, and more importantly, “her blood” goes straight into the sword.

We know that the "blood" in this story defines people's appearance, Rhaegar's appearance with his silver hair and violet eyes came from his Old Valyrian blood. This is what the legend says:


“For thirteen years they had ruled, Night's King and his corpse queen, till finally the Stark of Winterfell and Joramun of the wildlings had joined to free the Watch from bondage. After his fall, when it was found he had been sacrificing to the Others, all records of Night's King had been destroyed, his very name forbidden”.

The creation of Lightbringer begins when Rhaegar goes to war against the usurper Robert Baratheon, but it doesn’t end there, as the legend says, it takes a while.

In the battle of the Trident, Rhaegar falls hammered like a newly forged sword, and his body falls into the water, where as far as we know, thanks to the flying rubies, he disappears. That's AA's first attempt at forging LB, the attempt on water, Rhaegar's death. As we know Aegon dies by Tywin's command, that is the second attempt, the "lion's hunt", the third one is the wife’s sacrifice and his wife was Elia, not Lyanna. The winter rose was “the other”.

Rhaegar, not only dies, but ends up completely shattered like the LH's sword, but raises again, harder and stronger apparently free to start again. Apparently.

As legend has it, when the sword is forged, everything that was Elia goes straight into the sword and when that happens, the silver-haired, violet-eyed prince transforms into the "toad" that is currently Lightbringer.

By "light of day" when the "touch of the sun" hits him full, Rhaegar is nothing more than what the legend of the Night's King says: "only a man".



“Night's King was only a man by light of day, Old Nan would always say, but the night was his to rule. And it's getting dark.”


Rhaegar’s "enlightened" version, like Elia, has brown hair and eyes, and a completely ordinary face. Of course, like any dornish, the king has some trouble kneeling. Rhaegar 2.0 is Mance Rayder, the rightful King, and Azor Ahai reborn… with a different face.




“From smoke and salt was she born to make the world anew. She is Azor Ahai returned … and her triumph over darkness will bring a summer that will never end … death itself will bend its knee, and all those who die fighting in her cause shall be reborn …"

"Do I have to be reborn in this same body?" asked Tyrion.” Tyrion VI – AdwD



There are tons of clues in the text that Mance is indeed Rhaegar, starting with the cloak he wears, though the clues start in AGoT’s prologue, the entire conversation that the 3 rangers have about the dead and the things you can learn from them, it's gold.

The story that Qhorin tells Jon about how Mance got to the Wall is also, I think, an interesting clue. According to the ranger, Mance was wildling born, "taken as a child when some raiders were put to the sword." So he’s basically part of Rhaegar but “taken” by his wife.

There's also a cool hint that Aemon gives. When he and Sam are traveling to Old Town and he finds out about the birth of the dragons, he starts talking about how he and Rhaegar had discussed who was the promised prince, which is clearly quite difficult to do by raven. Of course, if Rhaegar was at the Wall, things are much easier.

Aemon also says two very interesting things on that trip, first that “fire consumes, but cold preserves”, (clearly the “fire” of Elia's sun consumed Rhaegar), and second, he talks about the sphinx and the riddle.


He said the sphinx was the riddle, not the riddler, whatever that meant. He asked Sam to read for him from a book by Septon Barth, whose writings had been burned during the reign of Baelor the Blessed. Once he woke up weeping. "The dragon must have three heads," he wailed, "but I am too old and frail to be one of them.” Samwell IV - AFfC

The sphinx, as we know, is a monster made up of 3 parts:

• A human face – Elia's

• The body of an animal – Rhaegar’s

• Wings, which according to the sphinx are from different animals – in this case a dragon.

The sphinxes come in pairs, women and men, opposites like day and night, and of course, that's important in this story, because of the idea that there are two forces at play, Elia's fire and Lyanna's ice, or what is the same, light and darkness.


Before continuing, it is important to highlight a couple of details. In the legend, it is the union of the Stark of Winterfell and Joramun of the wildlings that ends the reign of the Night's King, and this leads us directly to the two vows related with this legend:

·       I am the watcher on the walls

·       The horn that wakes the sleepers


Once again, as in the previous vows, we have a contrast between the “watcher” and the “sleeper”, between day and night.

But there’s an important detail because the first vow speaks of "walls" in the plural. If we consider that as I said, there is a link between the LH and the NK and that the “sword in the darkness” refers to the Winterfell crypt, then the “walls” take us back to the crypt.

The legend never clearly explains what the "Horn of Winter" is, but we know enough. It is assumed that the horn that the wildlings had, which of course was not "the" horn,  had the power to bring down the wall.

Dalla, Mance's wife, added a very interesting detail: “sorcery is a sword without a hiltand this is a good point to get back to Ned’s dream and some very important details that have to do with the guards.


• When Dayne draws the sword (towards the end of the dream) he takes it with both hands and when doing so, Ned notices how the sword was “alive with light”, so both hands are important for the sword to come alive. 

• Whent is on one knee “sharpening his blade” meaning, the blade of the sword is visible, but not the hilt. Whent also has the black bat of Harrenhal on his helm, which of course, makes one think of witchcraft and things that fly.

• Hightower, the LC, is standing fierce, but there’s no mention of any sword.


In Jon's nightmares of the crypt, which are clearly related to Ned's dream and these legends, Jon stands in front of the crypt door and knows he has to go down, even though he doesn't want to.



I'm afraid of what might be waiting for me. The old Kings of Winter are down there, sitting on their thrones with stone wolves at their feet and iron swords across their laps, but it's not them I'm afraid of. I scream that I'm not a Stark, that this isn't my place, but it's no good, I have to go anyway, so I start down, feeling the walls as I descend, with no torch to light the way. It gets darker and darker, until I want to scream." Jon IV - AGoT

In this part of the nightmare, there are 3 things that relate to Ned's dream and the position of the guards, but more importantly, to the "Horn of Winter", because, just as Stannis's sword isn’t the right one, the sound of the horn is also incorrect.

Jon yells “I'm not a Stark” which is incorrect, what the horn has to yell is the answer to the question posed by the Nightfort's Black Gate: “Who are you” and “not a Stark” is clearly not the answer.

Clearly the horn is not, like Lightbringer, an object, but something else, a power. Melisandre, (which ironically ended up in the right place for all the wrong reasons), constantly talks about the PTWP and “waking dragons” from stone and clearly that is the purpose of the horn “wake the sleepers”.


To understand how a frozen sleeping dragon is awakened, we need to talk about the last two vows, Lyanna, and the Others.


III. The shield that guards


Our last two vows are:

·       The fire that burns against the cold

·       The shield that guards the realms of men


The NW vows are, as we know six, and that is precisely the number of Others that surround Waymar in the prologue, which is not accidental.

Previously, I mentioned the position in which Ned finds the guards and there is a clear parallel between them, the first 3 vows and the sphinxs that's currently Rhaegar:


• Dayne is “the sword” (with Dawn) 

• Whent is “the watcher” (with his bat) 

• Hightower is “the fire” (with the beacon tower of his coat of arms)


I also said that in Ned's dream there’s a clear contrast between light and dark and that the faces of the guards, like Lightbringer, "burn" In contrast, we have the statues of Winterfell.

In the crypt, the Starks are portrayed in a peculiar way, because the statue represents 'the likeness' that is accompanied by a direwolf, while the sword fulfills the function of keeping the spirit locked up. The point is that the sword, unlike the statue, is not made of stone, but of iron, so clearly the confinement isn’t permanent, is just about resting, not about being a prisoner. When Ned visits the crypt with Robert, he thinks that the oldest swords “had long ago rusted away to nothing, leaving only a few red stains where the metal had rested on stone”.

Another extremely interesting thing about the Starks is something that Ned tells his wife, that the Starks "were made for the cold" and Cat thinks he's wrong because the castle is built in the hottest place in the north and precisely, that is the point. WF “rests” on boiling waters, waters that burn the stone walls but, like swords, do not damage them, they just leave “red stains”. The crypt, which is underground, should be a very hot place and yet it isn’t, clearly because the Starks are "made for the cold".


Ned's memory of Lyanna's death, being in the crypt no less, is extremely interesting because it explains the "B side" of the creation of Lightbringer and that’s the creation of the 'Night's Watch', but not the men in black that take care of the Wall, but of the Others.



The fever had taken her strength and her voice had been faint as a whisper, but when he gave her his word, the fear had gone out of his sister's eyes. Ned remembered the way she had smiled then, how tightly her fingers had clutched his as she gave up her hold on life, the rose petals spilling from her palm, dead and black.” Eddard I – AGoT


There's something that Littlefinger tells Ned that is very relevant to Lyanna's death, that the Starks were made of ice and melt when they rode south. We see this firsthand when Ned goes to KL and struggles not just with the weather, but with being away from home and his family. That’s the core of the Starks, they protect their pack.

Now, to understand the rest of the story and the "fire that burns against the cold" we must talk about Bael.

It’s clear that the song of Bael has to do with Jon, but as in the NK legend, the story is much more complicated. What interests us about the song are only some details that are directly related to Lyanna’s death and The Others.


• Bael goes to Winterfell one winter night and claims to be named "Sygerrik" which means "deceiver", this double identity will be important in a bit.

• Bael spends the night singing, and this is essential, because, above all, this is a song about swords and swords were made to sing.

• Bael hides in the crypt with the dead

• For reasons never explained, Bael returns years later when the young Stark is already an adult and when they face each other in battle, the son kills him because he doesn’t recognize him. The mother, who sees her son coming from battle with his father's head on a spear (hello Dorne), throws herself from a tower, as if she were a bird or a dragon.


When Lyanna dies, Ned recalls that she asks him to take her to WF “to rest beside father and Brandon”. By the time the maiden arrives, she does so basically as a gargoyle, 'turned to stone', moreover, 2 extra Starks arrive in the same state and together, they form a "three-headed" statue like the Targaryen shield.

The interesting thing about this 3-headed stone gargoyle is how each of them dies:

• Brandon dies trying to reach a sword that he never reaches, as opposed to Dayne holding Dawn with both hands.

• Rickard is roasted to death when he demands a trial by combat, as opposed to Hightower who is standing fierce with no sword in sight.

• Lyanna dies on a “bed of blood” as opposed to Whent who sharpens a sword


So clearly, these 6 people are related to each other and to the NW vows, but more importantly, they are related to the Others. I said above, when I talked about Dayne's position, that Dawn looks "alive with light" when Arthur holds it with both hands, and the faces of the guards burn as opposed to the statues which, of course, are perfectly preserved.

In the prologue, Will notes that the Other's eyes "burn like ice" so basically the Others are "frozen fire" made flesh or what’s the same, they are Lyanna's "Night's Watch", the men who died for her, the burning faces of the guards accompanied by the direwolves made of shadows of the Starks, that are watching and keeping her while she rests.

The Others are basically frozen werewolves, a mixture of each guard and each dead Stark, that's why their swords are blue, because as Osha said, "winter's got no King", what they have is a queen who loved Winter roses.

Lyanna dies as a fearless warrior “the fear had gone out of his sister's eyes”, just like the legendary NK, and more importantly, she dies smiling: “Ned remembered the way she had smiled”. As the Dornish song teaches, the hero (the other of that song), dies singing.

I already mentioned that Lyanna's death with the falling petals “dead and black” is in stark contrast to Dayne's sword, “alive with light”. If, as I maintain, Mance is the “alive with light” version of Rhaegar, then the Horn of Winter has to take him directly to a “dead and black” version, a version more like himself.


Lyanna dies holding Ned's hand tightly, as if holding a sword while she makes him promise something that is never specified, but we know what it is. Ned remembers that he gives Lyanna “his word” and as we know, the Starks words are “Winter is Coming”, that is the promise, a wolf (Stark) running in the snow, (the 3 men in white guarding her tower), to hide the promise until the time comes.

The NK and the “corpse queen” ruled for 13 years until the Stark of Winterfell and Joramun joined to free the watch from bondage. Ned thinks about the sacrifices he had to make to keep his promise to his sister and that's what the NK legend talks about, not the sacrifices Craster makes, but these two women that must come together because as Ned told Arya of his fights with Sansa:


You may be as different as the sun and the moon, but the same blood flows through both your hearts. You need her, as she needs you… and I need both of you, gods help me."


The first Other, the one that duels Waymar, is literally  "the sword in the darkness", but the most interesting thing about this watcher is his sword. That sword "alive with moonlight" is tremendously similar to the one that Jon gives Arya, and what Jon says when he gets stabbed, “stick them with the pointy end”, is basically what the Others do to Waymar.

When Jon gives his sister the sword, he tells her: "It won't hack a man's head off, but it can poke him full of holes if you're fast enough."

That's exactly how you create a perfect king, like a sphinxs, with bits and pieces.

In short, the Horn of Winter should reforge Lightbriger, to put a little “blue” on so much red to get a nice purple, because as Salla told Davos, “too much light can hurt the eyes and fire burns” and consumes.


To properly temper the sword and make it "warm" rather than "smoking hot", only one ingredient is missing from those mentioned in the legend:


“It is said that her cry of anguish and ecstasy left a crack across the face of the moon, but her blood and her soul and her strength and her courage all went into the steel”

What is missing is the song of ice, a wolf singing that winter is finally coming, because although Rhaegar was far from being a promised Prince, between these two women, a good king may be tempered.



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I like to think it's because that have some limited ability to see the future like the green dreams of Jojen and they've seen just how badly wrecked Westeros is going to be by the current civil wars that are ravaging everywhere and it gives them the best shot of ensuring victory over the living. Interestingly a couple of other conflicts are associated with nasty winters which suggest preemptive awakenings associated with conflict which didn't pan out and they went back to sleep which definitely gives the idea that they're looking for opportunity.

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  • 7 months later...

Waymar is actually fighting his own shadow (white) in the form of his reflection in a black mirror (Great rock). In the show we see an Other created using frozen fire put into a man by the CotF. In the Prologue we are seeing Frozen Fire used by the CotF as a black mirror which creates a man from Waymar reflection.

Edited by Nadden
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I got lost; the Horn of Winter will reforge Lightbringer which Mance will use to...kill two women, but I can't figure out which two women. And Mance is Rhaegar (honestly that's where you lost me) and he will kill two women...Arya and Sansa? And who's blowing the Horn? Jon? Jon blows the Horn, Rhaegar, re-embodied in Mance, reforges Lightbringer using Arya and Sansa, badabingbadaboom the Others are dead? Is that the right read, or am I missing something?

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