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Black Crow

Heresy 10

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Hmm. Sounds like the grave of a White Walker, and Catelyn just assumes the features are weathered smooth. ;) Could this be the grave of the Night King?

It's the grave of Tristifer V IV, one of the last River Kings for the First Men. Note the absence of weirwood. Rereading the description (the sepulcher invaded by vegetation) I can't help thinking of Bloodraven merging with the trees. I mentioned it because Catelyn immediately guesses there had been runes on the hammer. I suppose she extrapolates from what she has seen in the crypts of Winterfell (or at least what she has been told about the crypts).

I am keen on the idea that the crypts of Winterfell hold items with runes that will reveal some of the mysteries that occupy people on these threads. (By the way, I posted on the Wood against Stone thread some evidence that the Blackwoods were not always followers of the old gods. Were the Stark the first to adopt the old gods?)

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Just out of curiosity, I want to take a consensus of the Heretics' thoughts on something that I'm quite divided on now:

Are the Others simply humans (likely the First Men) that have been transformed through some magical process, or are they really an entirely different lifeform altogether?

If you had asked me, say, a month ago, I would have confidantly said that they're humans that have been transformed. We know they basically look exactly like humans (moreso than the Children of the Forest or the giants), and they're obviously stealing human babies for...something. Why do so if not to use them for creating new White Walkers?

But then Professor Black Crow posted this quote straight from the author's mouth:

"The Others are not dead. They are a strange, beautiful...think, ok... the Sidhe made of ice, something like that... a different sort of life... inhuman, elegant, dangerous."

And that, to me, suddenly made them sound like they're not all human in origin. I mean, GRRM literally uses the term inhuman. So what the hell are they? Why do they have a stake in the claim of Westeros? What is there about humanity that they care about, if they're not actually human to begin with? Are they merely sacrificing hot-blooded organisms to create more White Walkers? Or is it something more?

Basically, I feel I've been thrust back to where I was at the begining of the series, when I had no idea what the Others were or what their purpose in the story actuallly was... at least, aside from the fact that, beyond anything else, I do genuinely believe there's an important connection between the Others, the Starks, and the concept of the Long Night and Winter.

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People were making small objects of meteoric iron for magical purposes long before they had the technology to produce real weapons and tools made of iron. Some people like the inuit and the nama did even make real weapons out of meteoric iron, despite not knowing how to mine or refine common iron.

Did you know the early Celts/Vikings/Northern Europe folks forged iron weapons by burning peat... over the millenia, little bits of iron would make their way down from the highlands in streams/creeks, and would accumulate in the peat. Burning a fair amount of peat in a hot forge would result in a brick of iron, which could be beaten into a blade.

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First I have enjoyed reading all the myth / folklore posts so thanks everyone for sharing!

@ Francis Buck I have been thinking the same way and I have been wanting to post some thoughts but I wanted to research a liilte before hand. I do not think I have figured out a single thing but maybe a few things to explore to see where they can lead. Don't take this to serious, I'm just throwing ideas in the mix.

Going off of the new info I wonder if the First Men believed the WW could have been one faction of the Old Gods and I know this sound crazy but bear with me here. I do not think they are gods but could the FM have thought they could be? In the past we have wondered what the religion of the FM was before they took the Old Gods and some suspected maybe other gods we have heard of but know I want to look at them here as other factions of the Old Gods.

We have the Cold gods, the Storm gods, the Sea god, the Wind god, the Drowned god, and the Wood or Tree gods, could they be the nameless gods maybe forgotten over time? Could they be other non-human creatures like the CotF and the Sidhe that the FM confused for gods because they had magical powers? It seems like an elemetal or natural "god" for the coresponding setting and it seems like these inhuman beings need to be in their natural enviroment and could be why the children are dwindling.

There are even stories of intermarriage with humans and more than one type of "god." The Night's King and his cold queen, the Storm King and the daughter of the sea and wind gods, and the Grey King took a mermaid for a wife, she comes from the Drowned god, and plotted a war against the Storm god. Could the "dead things in the water" at Hardhome be a different type of sidhe or faerie and be or belong to another forgotten "god"? You know the "Others." Could the wood dancers be another?

I know this is going pretty far off track but it does not need to be so extreme, they do not need to be the Old Gods or even gods at all. If there were other "old races" that did not survive the humans or now stay in the Otherworld this could be why the WW seem hostile. This helps explain the childrens tolerance like with the giants, "are brothers and are bane" , just more magical creatures that there is no room for in the world man has created.

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Just out of curiosity, I want to take a consensus of the Heretics' thoughts on something that I'm quite divided on now:

Are the Others simply humans (likely the First Men) that have been transformed through some magical process, or are they really an entirely different lifeform altogether?

I say totally different species. Westeros was the land of the non-human species. CotF, Giants, Others

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I forgot to explain why I started thinking this way in my last post and it starts with the Sidhe, and I beleive they could have even been seen as some type of a deity.

Then this comment from Jeor Mormont in ACOK has always, always bothered me!

"But the wildlings serve crueler gods than you or I."

Don't they have the same gods?

Then there is also this from a interview with GRRM about gods...

"I don't think any gods are likely to be showing up in Westeros, any more than they already do. We're not going to have one appearing, deus ex machina, to affect the outcomes of things, no matter how hard anyone prays."

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Responding to Francis:

I was obviously in exactly the same position; looking for a human origin in the White Walkers but still very puzzled as to why it was going on. However the Sidhe reference is revealing (and vindicates the time spent on this thread examining European folklore) for while it establishes that fundamentally they are "inhuman" and therefore presumably one of the Old Races native to Westeros, it also explains the Craster's sons business - changelings - and that in turn points to the Stark connection we've been looking for.

As ever this is Martin's world and not our own, so there's likely to be more differences than the Ice, but in responding to Eleana's comment about Gods, as I recall its Gilly who refers to the Others/Sidhe as the Cold Gods. The point being that they are Gods only in the same sense that the Singers/Children are Gods, ie; possessed of certain abilities rather than exercising the deus ex machina bit.

BTW: I know it was a Benioff and Weiss script, but did anybody else catch that reference in the latest TV episode to its being 1,000 years since three horns were last sounded for White Walkers?

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Indeed, but then time appears to drift with a sense a long time passing in an almost dreamlike state before the sickle moon is mentioned again

Couldn´t Bran´s mind be already travelling through time thanks to the wierdnet without even realizing it? Maybe he is watching the skies of the past and future months even if it´s always through the eyes of the same direwolf.

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...(By the way, I posted on the Wood against Stone thread some evidence that the Blackwoods were not always followers of the old gods. Were the Stark the first to adopt the old gods?)

Maester luwin in his history lesson tells us that the first men converted to the worship of the old gods after their arrival in Westeros and that this was something they adopted from the children of the forest. It ties in with what Elaena says, the things that the old races can do are magical and divine in the eyes of the first men. Do we know who first converted? No, I don't think so. We could guess that those families with warging abilities might have been the first to convert particularly if they gained those abilities through inter-marriage with the children.

...We have the Cold gods, the Storm gods, the Sea god, the Wind god, the Drowned god, and the Wood or Tree gods, could they be the nameless gods maybe forgotten over time? Could they be other non-human creatures like the CotF and the Sidhe that the FM confused for gods because they had magical powers? It seems like an elemetal or natural "god" for the coresponding setting and it seems like these inhuman beings need to be in their natural enviroment and could be why the children are dwindling.

There are even stories of intermarriage with humans and more than one type of "god." The Night's King and his cold queen, the Storm King and the daughter of the sea and wind gods, and the Grey King took a mermaid for a wife, she comes from the Drowned god, and plotted a war against the Storm god. Could the "dead things in the water" at Hardhome be a different type of sidhe or faerie and be or belong to another forgotten "god"? You know the "Others." Could the wood dancers be another?

I know this is going pretty far off track but it does not need to be so extreme, they do not need to be the Old Gods or even gods at all. If there were other "old races" that did not survive the humans or now stay in the Otherworld this could be why the WW seem hostile. This helps explain the childrens tolerance like with the giants, "are brothers and are bane" , just more magical creatures that there is no room for in the world man has created.

Sounds reasonable to me although I don't think we need to imagine a great horde of Other old races, if the Children of the forest can control the waters / bring down the hammer of the waters maybe they can control other 'natural' phenomena too like the winds.

I like your notion that the children are dwindling because of the lost of their environment too.

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BTW: I know it was a Benioff and Weiss script, but did anybody else catch that reference in the latest TV episode to its being 1,000 years since three horns were last sounded for White Walkers?

I did notice. But it did not surprise me, since I recalled that point from the books. Prologue of ASoS:

Samwell Tarly stood shaking, his face the same color as the snow that swirled down all around them. “Three,” he squeaked to Chett, “that was three, I heard three. They never blow three. Not for hundreds and thousands of years. Three means —”

“—Others.”

Edit: Perhaps I missed that you meant that the novelty is the precision of the "one thousand years" figure, and not the vague numbers cited by Chett.

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It was indeed that precision - and there is actually a bit of a joke in that, because when Dolorous Ed and the rest ask how he knows it was that long ago he replies that he read it in a book. The book in question is of course ADwD where Jon muses on horns being blown to announce returning ranger for a thousand years.

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Having thought some more on Francis Buck’s question I’d like to introduce another little idea.

Before the Sidhe revelation we spent a lot of time discussing possible connections between Bloodraven, the Singers/Children, the Others/White Walkers, and the Wights, with Bloodraven and the Children strong suspects for the “other” side

Individual clues, hints and theories aside, making this connection also seemed important for a credible story-line. The balance of the book isn’t going to work if a major protagonist is introduced, fought and defeated in that relatively small part of the saga still remaining. That’s why Bloodraven as the Great Other or his agent made so much sense; he’s been in the story as the three-eyed-crow right from the beginning and has a strong back story in the Dunk and Egg tales. Whatever his true motives he’s a player.

At first sight the revelation that the Others/White Walkers are the Sidhe puts us as Francis says back to where we thought we were at the beginning. But I have my doubts. They may not quite be of this world, but they are of Westeros, one of the Old Races.

I’ve been thinking.

What we thought we knew about the Others/Sidhe came from Old Nan in AGoT, who told us they were cold dead things, hating life and leading an army of the undead. Well we now know from GRRM’s own lips that they’re not dead, so how much confidence can we really have in what else she says about them?

We’ve discussed clues that while unquestionably dangerous they’re not quite so fierce and bloodthirsty as Old Nan suggests, we’ve also discussed the fight on the Fist and its aftermath with that lone Sidhe/Other who was certainly riding a dead horse but didn’t actually appear to be leading the army of the undead. There was also in the TV version of the AGoT prologue, the Others/Sidhe dicing up the dead Wildlings – presumably to stop them walking as wights.

Makes me wonder therefore. Bran saw something terrible beyond the rainbow, but what? The Sidhe/Others, as we’ve discussed, seem to have been around more frequently than we first thought – Mormont knew of them and there’s the Craster business, but what seemed to have Mance, Tormond and the rest of the Wildlings worried wasn’t the Others/Sidhe but the cold, and the wights.

So what if the wights are neither raised nor controlled by the Sidhe – but instead it’s a plague, like greyscale, spread by the unnatural cold mists?

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But then Professor Black Crow posted this quote straight from the author's mouth:

"The Others are not dead. They are a strange, beautiful...think, ok... the Sidhe made of ice, something like that... a different sort of life... inhuman, elegant, dangerous."

Can anyone point me in the direction of the source of this quote?

The name other does imply 'other than us' ie different without any full understanding of what that is. The most intriging word here is 'elegant' not the sort of word you would to describe nasty vindictive life hating monsters. Perhaps that is their only crime being different.

Speculation here that the Others and COTF shared westeros before the arrival of the first men and were the traditional enemys of the COTF. Once the COTF realised they couldnt defeat the men they brokered a truce and decided to get the men to rid them of the others by telling them how nasty they were and provoked a war against them. Result the long night as the others won.

Using this logic the Others would have greater magical powers than the COTF but be less in number.

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Black Crow said:

So what if the wights are neither raised nor controlled by the Sidhe – but instead it’s a plague, like greyscale, spread by the unnatural cold mists?

Could be, but it gets us back to the issue of the attack on the fist.

If we assume wightification is a plague caused by the cold mists we can assume that the desire to kill living things is a part of this plague - greyscale might work along those lines judging by the attack on the boat in ADWD, this gives us a problem because while that would explain wights wandering around at night killing things it wouldn't account for the attack on the Fist of the First men which requires a co-ordinating intelligence. An intelligence capable of responding to the presence of the night's watch, marshalling the wights, moving them in the direction of the fist and organising the assault itself - and they launch that assault as a body not in dribs and drabs as individuals arrive at the fist - so something is also holding the wights back, presumably undercover, and giving a command to attack.

If the white walkers aren't that co-ordinating intelligence who is?

The Other candidate (by process of elimination) is the children of the forest - there might be hints of that in the Jon chapter were he discovers the cache of obsidian in ACOK - the forest itself is described as something antagonistic but what would be their motivation? Why is the Fist of the First Men so important to them?

If not the children then we have to start inventing things that we haven't seen in the text like a King Wight (by analogy with the Grey King on the Rhoyne) or a Great Other, but that would mean having to believe that Melisandre was actually right about something and it would seem to run counter to GRRM's assurance that the gods wouldn't be appearing as personalities in the series (if I remember that correctly).

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The Other candidate (by process of elimination) is the children of the forest - there might be hints of that in the Jon chapter were he discovers the cache of obsidian in ACOK

I like the idea of the mist being a greyscale esque plague and the wall raised as a magical and physical barrier against the mist.

We should also start seriously considering that the cache of obsidian is a red herring. It may have only been important to arm Sam with a weapon to defeat the walkers and the horn etc may be meaningless. Sam could very well get an obsidian weapon or his confrontation will be written out. We shall see in the remaining episodes if the cache makes an appearance, but as of now it appears to me of no importance.

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Can anyone point me in the direction of the source of this quote?

The name other does imply 'other than us' ie different without any full understanding of what that is. The most intriging word here is 'elegant' not the sort of word you would to describe nasty vindictive life hating monsters. Perhaps that is their only crime being different.

Speculation here that the Others and COTF shared westeros before the arrival of the first men and were the traditional enemys of the COTF. Once the COTF realised they couldnt defeat the men they brokered a truce and decided to get the men to rid them of the others by telling them how nasty they were and provoked a war against them. Result the long night as the others won.

Using this logic the Others would have greater magical powers than the COTF but be less in number.

Sidhe and the like creatures are often describes as graceful, elegant and beautiful. None of which stops them from being malovent, vindictive and dangerous on occasion. But the idea is already in the text. The White Walker who attacks Sam is described as getting off its (dead) horse gracefully, it is not clumsy like a wight but light in its movements. The White walkers in the AGOT prologue glide and slide rather than walk or stride so they sound very smooth.

But I like the devious plan you outline of the children setting the others on the first men. That would work with what we know.

I like the idea of the mist being a greyscale esque plague and the wall raised as a magical and physical barrier against the mist.

We should also start seriously considering that the cache of obsidian is a red herring. It may have only been important to arm Sam with a weapon to defeat the walkers and the horn etc may be meaningless. Sam could very well get an obsidian weapon or his confrontation will be written out. We shall see in the remaining episodes if the cache makes an appearance, but as of now it appears to me of no importance.

Yes could be and that would at least give a function to the Wall which could hardly be a barrier to ice cold creatures that ride giant ice spiders (unless the face of the Wall is as smooth as a bath).

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Can anyone point me in the direction of the source of this quote?

It comes from an essay by the artist Tommy Patterson in the collected edition of the AGoT comic book, where he discusses the problems he had doing a visualisation of the Others/Sidhe:

I had many talks with George. He told me of the ice swords, and the reflective, camouflaging armor that picks up the images of the things around it like a clear, still pond. He spoke a lot about what they were not, but what they were was harder to put into words. Here is what George said, in one e-mail:

'The Others are not dead. They are strange, beautiful… think, oh… the Sidhe made of ice, something like that… a different sort of life… inhuman, elegant, dangerous.

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So what if the wights are neither raised nor controlled by the Sidhe – but instead it’s a plague, like greyscale, spread by the unnatural cold mists?

In favour of this notion, I seem to recall that GRRM has said last year that diseases will play a more important role in future books. (Sorry no reference in mind.)

To add a few words on Lummel's comparison between wights and greyscale-afflicted people, the attack on the Shy Maid took place after a second passage under the bridge, and, as it is sometimes assumed, for a specific reason (that Aegon declared himself as a Targaryen King). So the attack was possibly not just blind hate.

I think the idea of comparing wights and the grey death could prove very fruitful. Two more comments though. 1) Being a wight doesn't appear to be contagious, as conventional diseases are. 2) There is the puzzling outburst of Val concerning greyscale. (Even if Val is a moonsinger and learnt about greyscale in Braavos, she says that any woodswitch is aware of the danger posed by greyscale. So the remark reflects a real fear of greyscale among Wildlings.)

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I think the idea of comparing wights and the grey death could prove very fruitful. Two more comments though. 1) Being a wight doesn't appear to be contagious, as conventional diseases are. 2) There is the puzzling outburst of Val concerning greyscale. (Even if Val is a moonsinger and learnt about greyscale in Braavos, she says that any woodswitch is aware of the danger posed by greyscale. So the remark reflects a real fear of greyscale among Wildlings.)

Yes but wasn't it the noxious gases that caused the greyscale in the first place? Is whatever lies beyond the rainbow sending out clouds of the stuff in frozen crystaline form, and is the "flame" passed on by Red Priests in waking the dead another form - are they carriers in other words?

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I'm liking the plague idea.

You can catch greyscale if you fall into dirty water with a cut so what is a cold mist but frozen water.

I was thinking about the attacks. In the first, it got very cold and the WW appeared and fought with Royce, who was stabbed repeatedly by more than one White Walker but not torn apart or cut into pieces. He lay "dead" motionless until after Will climbed down from the tree and got close to him. Did he smelled the "hot blood"/ life/lifeforce and wake/re animate to kill/get it?

If the "cold mist" are the source of the "blue/ice/water" magic then it could it be that the wights are just mindless zombies who follow the smell/heat of blood/life and take it but do not pass on their condition. And the WW could only be following the "cold mist" to dispose of any wights left in its wake. Though they didn't do a very good job the first time, (I think it's telling that we've been shown bodies hacked apart in the tv series) that might have been their intention.

If only young Royce spoke the old tongue, he might have understood the warning the White Rangers were trying to pass on to him and ran back to the Wall before the mist got him.

Instead he insulted and fought them. Maybe they left him "able" to become a wight as a punishment for that insult. Very interesting possibilities here.

Then we have the attack on the Fist. As we heard from Mance, they were wondering why they weren't being attacked more and it's because all the wights, human and otherwise, had been diverted to attack the Fist. Why would they attack the men on the Fist? If it turns out the the Fist is actually a barrow/mound then it could belong to them and no trespassing is allowed so the WW could have herded the wights for their own purposes but not really have any control over them.

I'm liking this more and more.

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