So, to get this out of the way, the link to the video version of this got linked already by another user (first time for that for me, feels a bit odd) so I thought I would provide the full text for our community of readers. This is a re-write of my 2015 theory A Cold Death in the Snow: The Killing of a Rangerwith some new sections and better explained conclusions as well as some good old fashioned tinfoil. And significantly less quotes and highlighted text. I wanted to make a video out the theory, and wasn’t happy with the original version so here’s a new and improved one.
The Three Rangers
One of the least understood events in ASOIAF happens right in the opening chapter of the series. Waymar Royce, a lordling from the Vale, and the two rangers Will and Gared are hunting wildling raiders in the Haunted Forest. Before you can even get your bearings, Waymar is ambushed by the icy demons known as the Others. Waymar utters his famous and incredibly bad ass line “Dance with me then” and begins their duel. Waymar holds his own until the Other lands a hit, then mocks the ranger, and finally Wamyar’s sword shatters against the blade of ice. A shard punctures Waymar’s eye and the waiting group of Others close in and finish off the wounded man in one coordinated stab. To add insult to injury, Waymar is raised as a wight and slaughters his former companion Will. Their other brother, Gared, escapes the attack and flees South until he reaches a hold-fast near Winterfell before being caught and executed by Ned Stark for deserting his Watch.
It’s a prologue that leaves the reader with many unanswered questions about what they just read. Why were these rangers attacked, and by so many of the Others? Where were their undead servants they normally use for their killing? And why were they dueling Waymar Royce in particular, a ranger of no particular note on his first mission? First, let’s look at Waymar’s background.
Ser Waymar Royce was the youngest son of an ancient house with too many heirs. He was a handsome youth of eighteen, grey-eyed and graceful and slender as a knife. Mounted on his huge black destrier, the knight towered above Will and Gared on their smaller garrons. He wore black leather boots, black woolen pants, black moleskin gloves, and a fine supple coat of gleaming black ring mail over layers of black wool and boiled leather. Ser Waymar had been a Sworn Brother of the Night’s Watch for less than half a year, but no one could say he had not prepared for his vocation. At least insofar as his wardrobe was concerned. – A Game of Thrones Prologue
Expanding on the information, Waymar was the third son of the formidable “Bronze” Yohn Royce, Lord of Runestone and House Royce. No one is really sure why Waymar chose to join the Watch, as the son of a Lord he could marry into a lesser House and get his own holdings, become a tourney knight, tour Essos and fight as a sell-sword if he liked, almost anything. Instead chose to join the Night’s Watch. And Waymar is very handsome, Sansa Stark fell in love with him on sight
“He was a guest at Winterfell when his son rode north to take the black.” She had fallen wildly in love with Ser Waymar, she remembered dimly
-A Feast For Crows Alayne I
Gared and Will are slightly less illustrious. Will is a poacher caught by Lord Mallister and chose the wall over losing his hand. Gared joined the Watch as a boy and has been a ranger for forty years. Lord commander Mormont speaks of them highly
Mormont scarcely seemed to hear him. The old man warmed his hands before the fire. “I sent Benjen Stark to search after Yohn Royce’s son, lost on his first ranging. The Royce boy was green as summer grass, yet he insisted on the honor of his own command, saying it was his due as a knight. I did not wish to offend his lord father, so I yielded. I sent him out with two men I deemed as good as any in the Watch. More fool I.”
– A Game of Thrones Tyrion III
Now that we’re more familiar with these Rangers, let’s address the most simple explanation, that it was an accidental meeting between the Others and the rangers. Perhaps the Others were traveling through the woods to meet with Craster and accidentally came upon three rangers. Makes sense, the Others and the rangers are historic enemies. There are major problems with this however. The first is when Royce and company catch up with their prey, the raiders have already been turned into Wights.
“Did you make note of the position of the bodies?”
Will shrugged. “A couple are sitting up against the rock. Most of them on the ground. Fallen, like.”
“Or sleeping,” Royce suggested.
“Fallen,” Will insisted. “There’s one woman up an ironwood, half-hid in the branches.** A far-eyes.” He smiled thinly. “I took care she never saw me. When I got closer, I saw that she wasn’t moving neither.” Despite himself, he shivered.
“You have a chill?” Royce asked.
“Some,” Will muttered. “The wind, m’lord.”
The young knight turned back to his grizzled man-at-arms. Frost-fallen leaves whispered past them, and Royce’s destrier moved restlessly. “What do you think might have killed these men, Gared?” Ser Waymar asked casually. He adjusted the drape of his long sable cloak.
“It was the cold,” Gared said with iron certainty. “I saw men freeze last winter, and the one before, when I was half a boy.
-A Game of Thrones Prologue
But Waymar notices something wrong with Gared’s assessment. It has been unseasonably warm recently, so much so that the Wall has been melting or “weeping”.
“If Gared said it was the cold …” Will began.
“Have you drawn any watches this past week, Will?”
“Yes, m’lord.” There never was a week when he did not draw a dozen bloody watches. What was the man driving at?
“And how did you find the Wall?”
“Weeping,” Will said, frowning. He saw it clear enough, now that the lordling had pointed it out. “They couldn’t have froze. Not if the Wall was weeping. It wasn’t cold enough.”**
Royce nodded. “Bright lad. We’ve had a few light frosts this past week, and a quick flurry of snow now and then, but surely no cold fierce enough to kill eight grown men.
– A Game of Thrones Prologue
The raiders are frozen to death in weather that was far too warm. As the audience we know that the Others have supernatural control over the cold showing them as the killers. And then, when Waymar and Will go back, they discover the bodies have disappeared.
His heart stopped in his chest. For a moment he dared not breathe. Moonlight shone down on the clearing, the ashes of the firepit, the snow-covered lean-to, the great rock, the little half-frozen stream. Everything was just as it had been a few hours ago.
They were gone. All the bodies were gone.
The curious Waymar takes the bait and the trap has been sprung. Will, from his vantage point up a tree, sees their unknown predators emerge from the woods. (A Game of Thrones Prologue)
A shadow emerged from the dark of the wood. It stood in front of Royce. Tall, it was, and gaunt and hard as old bones, with flesh pale as milk. Its armor seemed to change color as it moved; here it was white as new-fallen snow, there black as shadow, everywhere dappled with the deep grey-green of the trees. The patterns ran like moonlight on water with every step it took.
Will heard the breath go out of Ser Waymar Royce in a long hiss.
They emerged silently from the shadows, twins to the first. Three of them … four … five … Ser Waymar may have felt the cold that came with them, but he never saw them, never heard them. Will had to call out. It was his duty. And his death, if he did. He shivered, and hugged the tree, and kept the silence.
The Others set a trap for these rangers and executed it, it wasn’t a chance encounter. Are they just trying to kill all the Night’s Watch members they can? I don’t believe so. Will and Waymar are killed in the Haunted Forest, but the third crow Gared is allowed to escape by the Others. He runs South until he is caught by the Starks and beheaded by Lord Eddard for desertion.
There are six uninjured, camouflaged, and eager to kill Others right there with at least ten wights (after raising Waymar and Will) and they neglect to chase down Gared. Killing him would be easy and quick, and yet they don’t. Were they just trying for ranger body counts this doesn’t happen.
Of Course Craster is Involved
The only conclusion left is that the whole scenario was not a trap for three Night’s Watch rangers, instead a trap for one ranger in particular: Waymar Royce. He is singled out by the Others for a one on one duel for his life. But why? Waymar isn’t anything special in the Watch. He’s on his first ranging meanwhile Gared and Will are veterans beyond the Wall. They would be the greater prizes tactically. How could the Others even know to target Waymar?
You’ll forgive me for this if you’ve read my other theories, but once again, the answer is Craster. Waymar, Will, and Gared stop for at least one night at Craster’s keep while tracking the Wildling raiders
Lord Mormont said, “Ben was searching for Ser Waymar Royce, who’d vanished with Gared and young Will.”
“Aye, those three I recall. The lordling no older than one of these pups. Too proud to sleep under my roof, him in his sable cloak and black steel. My wives give him big cow eyes all the same.” He turned his squint on the nearest of the women. “Gared says they were chasing raiders. I told him, with a commander that green, best not catch ’em. Gared wasn’t half-bad, for a crow.” (A Clash of Kings Jon III):
Notice here that Craster only talks about Gared and Waymar, not Will. And Will is a veteran ranger, someone Craster probably would’ve met before, but is left out. Craster recalls Waymar acutely, focusing on his fine clothing and good looks. Craster focused hard on Waymar but when asked about where the rangers were heading when they left, Craster replies (A Clash of Kings Jon III):
“When Ser Waymar left you, where was he bound?”
Craster gave a shrug. “Happens I have better things to do than tend to the comings and goings of crows.”
Craster has no better things to do, his days revolve around getting drunk and being an awful human to his “wives”. And he contradicted himself, claiming no interest in the Rangers while rattling off precise details of Royce. Given Craster’s very close relationship with the Others (arranging a deal that he gives his sons to them in exchange for protection), this chance meeting is what began the chain of events leading to Waymar’s death. Craster saw something important in Waymar Royce, something that the Others paid huge attention to and acted on in a dramatic fashion.
The Look of a Stark
Let’s quickly go over what Craster could’ve learned. From his own words, he notices that Waymar is highborn. Not particularly valuable information, there are many highborn rangers and members of the Watch and the Others haven’t set individual traps for them as far as we know.
He could’ve learned Waymar was from House Royce and the Vale. There are no other men from the Royces in the Watch, but there is another ranger named Tim Stone from the Vale. Tim survives the Great Ranging and is still alive at the end of AFFC so that seems like an unlikely explanation. Perhaps being a Royce made the Others stand at attention. The Royces are First Men, an ancient house stretching back into the shadows of history. Maybe some kind of grudge?
Is there something in his behavior? Waymar is haughty and self-confident, puts people off with a superior attitude. That annoyed Craster, however I doubt the Others would arrive in force to settle a mild annoyance from their baby factory manager. How far they go for Waymar implies that what Craster told them was juicy, important information that set them off in a big way. What’s left is Waymar’s appearance (A Game of Thrones Prologue):
He was a handsome youth of eighteen, grey-eyed and graceful and slender as a knife.
Grey eyes, slender, graceful. This is a description that is used only a chapter later with a very famous character (A Game of Thrones Bran I):
Jon’s eyes were a grey so dark they seemed almost black, but there was little they did not see. He was of an age with Robb, but they did not look alike. Jon was slender where Robb was muscular, dark where Robb was fair, graceful and quick where his half brother was strong and fast.
Waymar resembles Jon Snow. The other known members of House Royce that haven’t gone grey (Myranda Royce and her “thick chestnut curls” and Albar Royce and his “fierce black sidewhiskers”) have black or brown hair. It stands to reason Waymar would as well given the dominance of dark hair in families. The official art from the calendars backs this up with GRRM approving Waymar’s black hair. But Craster doesn’t know Jon Snow at this time, so why does the comparison matter? The answer comes from Craster’s first interaction with Jon Snow (A Clash of Kings Jon II):
Who’s this one now?” Craster said before Jon could go. “He has the look of a Stark.”
“My steward and squire, Jon Snow.”
“A bastard, is it?” Craster looked Jon up and down. “Man wants to bed a woman, seems like he ought to take her to wife. That’s what I do.” He shooed Jon off with a wave. “Well, run and do your service, bastard, and see that axe is good and sharp now, I’ve no use for dull steel.”
Craster at one glance correctly recognizes Jon as having the looks of a Stark. He doesn’t pull this trick with anyone else he meets in the POV chapters, no one mentions it afterwards, this is the one time Craster says someone looks like a particular family. He knows what Starks are supposed to look like, and it is confirmed by other characters. One of their defining features, brought up many times, is their grey eyes.
Catelyn remembering Brandon Stark (A Game of Thrones Catelyn VII):
And her betrothed looked at her with the cool grey eyes of a Stark and promised to spare the boy who loved her.
Jaime Lannister remembering Ned Stark from the rebellion (A Storm of Swords Jaime VI):
He remembered Eddard Stark, riding the length of Aerys’s throne room wrapped in silence. Only his eyes had spoken; a lord’s eyes, cold and grey and full of judgment.
Theon recalling what Arya should look like. (A Dance With Dragons Reek II)
Arya had her father’s eyes, the grey eyes of the Starks. A girl her age might let her hair grow long, add inches to her height, see her chest fill out, but she could not change the color of her eyes.
Tyrion Lannister recognizes Jon as having the Stark look as well (A Game of Thrones Tyrion II):
The boy absorbed that all in silence. He had the Stark face if not the name: long, solemn, guarded, a face that gave nothing away.
By the correct recognition from Craster, Tyrion, and Catelyn’s internal monologue, looking like a true “Stark” means you must have grey eyes, dark brown or black hair, and a long solemn face. Waymar Royce is three for four on those. However, he could be four for four if you take his father’s face as indicative as what Waymar’s face likely looked like (A Feast for Crows Alayne I):
Last of all came the Royces, Lord Nestor and Bronze Yohn. The Lord of Runestone stood as tall as the Hound. Though his hair was grey and his face lined, Lord Yohn still looked as though he could break most younger men like twigs in those huge gnarled hands. His seamed and solemn face brought back all of Sansa’s memories of his time at Winterfell.
The same solemn face you’d look for as looking like a Stark, his face even reminds her of Winterfell and presumably her father. I believe this is what Craster saw in Waymar and alerted the Others about. He had seen somebody that looks a lot like a Stark, highborn, and young. This fits an important profile for the Others as they spring into action setting their trap for Waymar. Unfortunately Waymar is not an actual Stark, but he appears close enough to fool Craster and the Others.
The Royce in Wolf’s Clothing
However Craster is not entirely wrong about Waymar being looking like a Stark, the Starks and Royces intermarried recently. Beron Stark, Jon’s great-great-great grandfather, married Lorra Royce. And their grandchild, Jocelyn Stark daughter of William Stark and Melantha Blackwood, married Benedict Royce of the Royces of the Gates of the Moon. From Catelyn, we learn of where in the Vale their children married
“Your father’s father had no siblings, but his father had a sister who married a younger son of Lord Raymar Royce, of the junior branch. They had three daughters, all of whom wed Vale lordlings. A Waynwood and a Corbray, for certain. The youngest . . . it might have been a Templeton, but . . .” – A Storm of Swords Catelyn V
This is the wrong branch of house Royce, however their daughters all married into other noble families making it conceivable that the Stark blood found its way into the main branch of the family and Waymar through political marriages. We know very little about the Royce family tree beyond the current members, don’t even know the name or house of Yohn Royce’s wife.
In my video (The Wild Wolves: The Children of Brandon Stark) I propose that Waymar may actually be a secret Stark bastard in house Royce. There’s a fair amount of connections between the Wild Wolf and Waymar, particularly their bravery and their seeking of adventure. That theory being true would strengthen the reasoning behind the Others’ attack on Waymar as he may be a Stark in all but name. You can imagine as Waymar, Will, and Gared were riding through the Haunted Forest the Others silently following, inspecting Waymar from afar and growing excited that they had found who they were looking for. Perhaps they could smell the wolf’s blood in him.
It’s my conclusion that Waymar Royce was killed by the Others by accident on incorrect information from their Stark recognizing scout Craster.Waymar was killed for not being the right guy. But from the trap and situation the Others crafted, we can figure out who they were expecting to find.
The Test and the Ritual
First off, they set an elaborate trap using wights to fool the rangers. From this, we can reason out that they were expecting their target to be very cautious and intelligent. Otherwise, they could’ve just found them at night and snuck up for the kill. They believed they needed to trap the Stark they were hunting.
Second, the number of Others that show up. Six Others show up, a huge amount of them for a race that are seemingly expert swordsman. Later on in the story, the Others only send one to kill at least three Night’s Watch members before Sam kills it with an obsidian dagger. For Waymar, they send six. If you wanted someone to watch the duel, you send an extra one or two Others An extra five implies the person you’re going to duel is going to be wildly successful. You’re anticipating that this person is likely to kill several Others before the fight is over, they fear and respect him. However, they discover these assumptions are not true. First, they check out Waymar’s sword when he raises it, almost out of fear.
Ser Waymar met him bravely. “Dance with me then.” He lifted his sword high over his head, defiant. His hands trembled from the weight of it, or perhaps from the cold. Yet in that moment, Will thought, he was a boy no longer, but a man of the Night’s Watch.
The Other halted. Will saw its eyes; blue, deeper and bluer than any human eyes, a blue that burned like ice. They fixed on the longsword trembling on high, watched the moonlight running cold along the metal. For a heartbeat he dared to hope.
When they are satisfied the sword is not about to burst into flames like Lightbringer, they move on and test his skills with the blade.
Then Royce’s parry came a beat too late. The pale sword bit through the ringmail beneath his arm. The young lord cried out in pain. Blood welled between the rings. It steamed in the cold, and the droplets seemed red as fire where they touched the snow. Ser Waymar’s fingers brushed his side. His moleskin glove came away soaked with red.
The Other said something in a language that Will did not know; his voice was like the cracking of ice on a winter lake, and the words were mocking. (A Game of Thrones Prologue):
The Other lands a hit, and you can almost tell what he is saying. “Isn’t this guy supposed to be an amazing fighter?” Then they execute another test
When the blades touched, the steel shattered.
A scream echoed through the forest night, and the longsword shivered into a hundred brittle pieces, the shards scattering like a rain of needles. Royce went to his knees, shrieking, and covered his eyes. Blood welled between his fingers.
The watchers moved forward together, as if some signal had been given. Swords rose and fell, all in a deathly silence. It was cold butchery. The pale blades sliced through ringmail as if it were silk. Will closed his eyes. Far beneath him, he heard their voices and laughter sharp as icicles. (A Game of Thrones Prologue):
The signal of Waymar’s death is that his sword shatters in the cold. They are expecting Waymar to have a sword that will resist their cold attacks, Valyrian steel at the least. When his sword doesn’t, they are convinced that Waymar isn’t who they want and butcher him.
It’s worth paying close attention to how odd these behaviors are based on how the Others attack as evidenced later on in the story. In their attack on the Fist of the First Men, there are no Others sighted, they exclusively use wights. Similarly, their use of wights to chase Sam and Gilly from the mutiny at Craster’s keep. When Sam kills one with his obsidian dagger, only one Other considers itself an easy match for three men of the Night’s Watch. In the attempt to kill Jeor Mormont and Jeremy Rykker, this mission is given to two wights alone.
They operate like wraiths, killing in the shadows in their icy camouflage and letting their puppets do their dirty work. But here, they totally abandon their stealthy behavior. This implies that this was incredibly important for them, and the set up feels like a ritual or ceremony of some sort.
There’s one more thing that the Others have their eyes trained on. After Waymar receives his wound, his blood starts trickling out into his glove and then bleeds openly from his side. What’s been happening so far could be just a case of Stark misidentification by Craster. This detail, however, gives us a very different picture. This tells us that they are looking for Jon Snow without knowing his name. Let me explain.
At the end of ADWD, Jon is slain by his Night’s Watch brothers and feels the chill of death upon him. In the TV show, Jon is resurrected by Melisandre basically the same as he was with some gnarly scars. The same for Beric Dondarrion whose own returns from death serve as priming the audience for Jon. In an interview with Time Magazine, George tells a very different story about how Beric’s body works.
poor Beric Dondarrion, who was set up as the foreshadowing of all this, every time he’s a little less Beric. His memories are fading, he’s got all these scars, he’s becoming more and more physically hideous, because he’s not a living human being anymore. His heart isn’t beating, his blood isn’t flowing in his veins, he’s a wight, but a wight animated by fire instead of by ice, now we’re getting back to the whole fire and ice thing.
This is close to what the character known as Cold Hands tells Bran, who has this to say about his own version of undeath and how his body has fared.
The ranger studied his hands as if he had never noticed them before. “Once the heart has ceased to beat, a man’s blood runs down into his extremities, where it thickens and congeals.” His voice rattled in his throat, as thin and gaunt as he was. “His hands and feet swell up and turn as black as pudding. The rest of him becomes as white as milk.”
– A Dance With Dragons Bran I
What we’re being shown is that after resurrection, the bodies of these people are being held in a state of suspended animation. They do not pump blood anymore, they rarely need food or sleep, they may not even age. When the blood pumps warm and hot out of Waymar’s side, the Others can see that he is not undead as Jon most likely will be in the coming books.
Add up all these hints. They were looking for a sword that’s resistant to their magic, surely Valyrian steel like the sword Longclaw Jon Snow wields. They want a young man with the dark hair, long facial features, and gray eyes of a Stark. Again a dead ringer for Jon Snow. They want someone whose blood no longer flows hot. This gives us a timestamp for when in Jon’s future they are looking for him; post his death and resurrection at the Wall.
A Fate Writ in Ice and Fire
How could this be? How could the Others even know who Jon is, what he looks like, why he is important for them? The key is that the Others were made by the Children of the Forest, and all the symbolic and descriptive language around them points that they come from and draw powers from the Weirwoods. And we know what that means, greensight and green dreams. Or ice sight. Similar to what we see from characters like Bran, Jojen, Melisandre, Patchface, and more. Access into a dream world without time that has highly symbolic features. As an example, this is how Jojen interprets Bran in his dreams.
Jojen’s eyes were the color of moss, and sometimes when he looked at you he seemed to be seeing something else. Like now. “I dreamed of a winged wolf bound to earth with grey stone chains,” he said. “It was a green dream, so I knew it was true. A crow was trying to peck through the chains, but the stone was too hard and his beak could only chip at them.”
-A Clash of Kings Bran IV
The uncertain nature of the world of green dreams makes it perfectly understandable how the Others could mistake Waymar for Jon. They may have only seen him in flashes, his face obscured, his name unknown, his exact time frame uncertain. Remember how much trouble the Targaryens, Valyrians, Melisandre, and many others have had trying to guess when the Prince that was promised would arrive, interpreting the bleeding star and born amidst salt and smoke “creatively” throughout their history. The Others may be doing the same thing with who they see in their future, and there’s one dream in particular that may terrify them. Jon’s dream.
Burning shafts hissed upward, trailing tongues of fire. Scarecrow brothers tumbled down, black cloaks ablaze. “Snow,” an eagle cried, as foemen scuttled up the ice like spiders. Jon was armored in black ice, but his blade burned red in his fist. As the dead men reached the top of the Wall he sent them down to die again. He slew a greybeard and a beardless boy, a giant, a gaunt man with filed teeth, a girl with thick red hair. Too late he recognized Ygritte. She was gone as quick as she’d appeared.
The world dissolved into a red mist. Jon stabbed and slashed and cut. He hacked down Donal Noye and gutted Deaf Dick Follard. Qhorin Halfhand stumbled to his knees, trying in vain to staunch the flow of blood from his neck. “I am the Lord of Winterfell,” Jon screamed. It was Robb before him now, his hair wet with melting snow. Longclaw took his head off.
– A Dance with Dragons Jon XII
Jon clad in ice armor wielding a flaming sword single handedly fighting back the hordes of the undead, killing again and again his own family and loved ones and brothers. Such a person would be undoubtedly a problem for the Others. Or they may have seen Melisandre’s equally terrifying vision of Jon.
The flames crackled softly, and in their crackling she heard the whispered name Jon Snow. His long face floated before her, limned in tongues of red and orange, appearing and disappearing again, a shadow half-seen behind a fluttering curtain. Now he was a man, now a wolf, now a man again. But the skulls were here as well, the skulls were all around him.
– A Dance with Dragons Melisandre I
Jon and Waymar also both embody classic traits of the Last Hero, the person who somehow ended the Long Night. Waymar even seems excited when he realizes that the raiders may have been slain by the Others. From Old Nan,
the last hero determined to seek out the children, in the hopes that their ancient magics could win back what the armies of men had lost. He set out into the dead lands with a sword, a horse, a dog, and a dozen companions. For years he searched until he despaired of ever finding the children of the forest in their secret cities. One by one his friends died, and his horse, and finally even his dog, and his sword froze so hard the blade snapped when he tried to use it. And the Others smelled the hot blood in him and came silent on his trail, stalking him with packs of pale white spiders big as hounds
– A Game of Thrones Bran IV
The Others mission may be one as simple as ensure the Last Hero never reaches the Children again, that there’s no salvation for men this time. They’ve surrounded Bloodraven’s cave with wights as well, perhaps as a further defense against the Hero making his way to them. While humans regard the Last Hero as a legend of great accomplishments, for the Others he would be their Great Other, their version of the Night King. A demon who ended their ambitions, a monster with a sword that destroys them at a touch and is tireless, fearless. Makes sense that if they thought they found this person, they’d bring a huge number of themselves for their duel. It’s fear that made them be so cautious with Waymar. Fear they had found their true enemy once again. The demon of the bleeding star, a monster made of smoke and salt with a blazing sword. And they are running out of time to find this person before it’s too late.
And the question remains, when they eventually find this person what will they do with them? We’ve seen a failure of their tests, a quick brutal death. What about a success? Will they kill him again? Hold Jon hostage? Convert him into their new King of Winter? Parade his undying body in front of their armies? We may yet find out as the Winds of Winter blows and the white wolf finally howls.