Pyres and Blood: The Return of the Dragons

The fire is mine. I am Daenerys Stormborn, daughter of dragons, bride of dragons, mother of dragons, don’t you see? Don’t you SEE? With a belch of flame and smoke that reached thirty feet into the sky, the pyre collapsed and came down around her. Unafraid, Dany stepped forward into the firestorm, calling to her children. AGOT Daenerys X

 

The hatching of Daenery’s dragons is one of the few moments of true magic in ASOIAF, an event that ripples throughout the world and changes the course of destiny. House Targaryen had burned into ashes, and with the death of their dragons magic had gone cold. Dany brought all that back into the world when she stepped out of her pyre with three baby dragons and the world’s fiery heart beat hot blood again. Daenerys has gone on to do incredible things so far, and all of Westeros and Essos are watching what she does with her dragons and power. But, what if there are more eyes on the dragon queen? Eyes that look through the mists of time? What if her long-dead relatives saw the pyre collapse and heard the music of dragons again? An echo in dreams that ripples across time and space.

 

This wouldn’t be unusual for Dany either. From the moment she was born, all of the known world watched her. Varys helped her escape across the Narrow Sea and was Robert’s eyes in Essos keeping her on the run. Magister Illyrio, Doran Martell, the Sealord of Braavos, each of Valyria’s daughters had plans and watched her and Viserys with great interest. After her dragons are born in the flames, every city and power she meets tries to take what is hers for their own. Some go after her “children”, others her hands in marriage, and the undying want all she has. They all see her and imagine how all she has and is could be their own, would it really be that surprising if a similar thing was happening in the world of magic and dreams?

 

Unreliable Visions

The Targaryens are a family cursed with the gifts of prophecy and dragon dreams. From Rhaegar to Maester Aemon to Egg to Daeron the Drunkard to Daemon II Blackfyre all the way back to Daenys the Dreamer, their family can see days yet to come. Some can see more clearly than others, like Daenys who saw the Doom of Valyria years in advance and on whose dreams House Targaryen fled the Freehold. Daeron the Drunkard as well, who saw the death of Baelor Breakspear in Duncan the Tall’s arms and much more. But he had one dream that lit the imagination of his family on fire: the return of the dragons.

 

>Egg lowered his voice. “Someday the dragons will return. My brother Daeron’s dreamed of it, and King Aerys read it in a prophecy. Maybe it will be my egg that hatches. That would be splendid.” – The Mystery Knight

 

We learn as well that Daemon II Blackfyre dreamed of eggs hatching and dragons returning at Whitewalls which gives us an important part of these dreams: self-delusion. Daemon believed that he would be hatching a dragon, and that he would raise the banner of house Blackfyre and finally take the Iron Throne for his father.

 

>”A dragon will hatch? A living dragon? What, here?”

>”I dreamed it. This pale white castle, you, a dragon bursting from an egg, I dreamed it all, just as I once dreamed of my brothers lying dead. They were twelve and I was only seven, so they laughed at me, and died. I am two-and-twenty now, and I trust my dreams.” Dunk was remembering another tourney, remembering how he had walked through the soft spring rains with another princeling. – The Mystery Knight

Many of these dreams are often misunderstood even by those who receive them, misidentifying the people or symbols in the dreams and sometimes the timeframe. A problem we see in the current ASOIAF books as well, notably through Melisandre, who sees much and understands little. Her major misunderstanding is Stannis Baratheon as Azor Ahai reborn, but there’s a particular vision that makes me laugh everytime I read it.

Whenever she was asked what she saw within her fires, Melisandre would answer, “Much and more,” but seeing was never as simple as those words suggested. It was an art, and like all arts it demanded mastery, discipline, study. Pain. That too. R’hllor spoke to his chosen ones through blessed fire, in a language of ash and cinder and twisting flame that only a god could truly grasp. Melisandre had practiced her art for years beyond count, and she had paid the price. There was no one, even in her order, who had her skill at seeing the secrets half-revealed and half-concealed within the sacred flames.

Yet now she could not even seem to find her king. I pray for a glimpse of Azor Ahai, and R’hllor shows me only Snow. – ADWD Melisandre I

She keeps asking for Azor Ahai, and the flames continually show her Jon Snow. You can almost see the fire god on the other side of the flame rubbing their temples wondering why this red woman keeps asking the same question. More seriously though, in that quote George lays out the imprecise nature of future sight from one who claims to be an expert in that art. Self-delusion, ego, preference can easily lead those with the gift astray. If you want to see a bald grump on the iron throne you will.  

The most accurate seers are the ones who don’t add personal bias. They merely report what they see, and let everyone else decide what it means. Prime examples of this is the Ghost of High Heart. What she sees is undeniable visions of the future yet in highly symbolic forms. Sansa Stark’s poisoned hairnet at the Purple Wedding becomes a maid with venomous snakes in her hair. The death of King Renly by shadow baby becomes a shadow with a burning heart butchering a stag. We the reader have the benefit of knowing that these come true, such as Catelyn’s POV inside Renly’s tent. People in universe do not have that ability, and as such these visions can easily be misinterpreted like Melisandre does.

Collective Dreaming

With the uncertainty and dangers of prophecy well established, let’s turn back to the Danerys and her emerging from the pyre. The Targaryens are famous for their ability to see visions, particularly in their dreams. I explored their exact impact on the current time with my Aemon the Dreamer video, link in the description. Before the death of the dragons though, their dreams were rather hard to pin down to one main topic. Daenys dreamed of the Doom of Valyria, all fourteen volcanoes erupting at once and ending the Valyrian Freehold in one day. There’s other ideas like the Prince that was Promised who would defeat the darkness in some way. However, after the death of the last dragon in 153 AC under the reign of King Aegon III, their visions became far more focused.

All at once, the Targaryens began paying attention to dreams of the dragons returning. In Crowfood’s Daughter’s video https://youtu.be/fVaYkK2mkSE titled Baelor the Blessed, she argues that the Targaryens were seeing the dragons much earlier than anyone previously thought. That King Baelor was reacting to dreams and written prophecies about the return of dragons when he made his puzzling decisions about the burning of books, not having any heirs, locking his wife and sisters in the Maiden’s Vault among others.

This trend become especially pronounced among the children of King Maekar I. Besides Prince Daeron, each of the brothers dreamed of the return of the dragons. Aegon at first believed in Daeron’s visions presumably after he saw them come true. Our Maester Aemon as well tells of what he sees in his dreams to Samwell Tarly.

I see their shadows on the snow, hear the crack of leathern wings, feel their hot breath. My brothers dreamed of dragons too, and the dreams killed them, every one. Sam, we tremble on the cusp of half-remembered prophecies, of wonders and terrors that no man now living could hope to comprehend

– A Feast for Crows Samwell III

Aemon though appears to lack detail about what his dragons are doing. His gift may not be as strong as Daeron’s. The same seems to be true for Aegon and their elder, Aerion Brightflame. All of the brothers at one time sought the return of the dragons and each had their own dragon eggs they tried hatching. Their sisters as well presumably. They shared a dream, although only apparently Daeron remembered most of it.

This kind of collective dreaming is something that is well known in fiction and the real world. If you haven’t read fellow handsome moderator and Maester Monthly co-host Bookshelfstud’s excellent essay [“Ripples in the Dreamscape: GRRM Shows His Hand”](https://old.reddit.com/r/asoiaf/comments/4m33w9/spoilers_twow_ripples_in_the_dreamscape_grrm/) I highly suggest you do. In that essay, Bookshelf talks about how all across the books, people are dreaming and seeing Euron, a sea of blood, and towers. And that all these dreams are seeing the same event, although it is unclear exactly what it is (on purpose from our author). However Bookshelf thinks that all these vague images add up to Euron sacking Oldtown and calling Krakens from the deep in an Eldritch apocalypse. And maybe some Old Ones marching out of a Lovecraft story and into Oldtown harbor.

To quote his essay,

Euron’s black tide is about to crash down – probably on Oldtown. My bet is we’ll get one more Aeron chapter, with some horrible terrible mass sacrifice at the end of the chapter. Then, after Aeron’s chapter – which, like Cat’s last chapter, will probably end with him having his throat cut – we’ll likely get a chapter from Sam, showing something abominable approaching Oldtown.

Like I said though, this idea is one Martin is pulling from other sources. In particular the works of H.P. Lovecraft and the Call of C’thulu stand out as examples. In the Call of C’thulu, people all around the world begin experiencing the dark god’s return in their own ways and through their own mental lenses. Some make sculptures, others write about it, and some just become hysterical as the day gets closer and closer when C’thulu emerges into the world again.

In real life ancient cultures, and some not so ancient, similar ideas can be found. In the past, dreams were sometimes thought to be messages from the gods being sent to those who could hear them. The roles of symbolism and interpretation were large parts of religious life. One of George’s favorite examples is the Duke of Somerset from the War of the Roses who was told by a soothsayer to avoid castles. The Duke did just that and survived until one day when violence broke out and the Duke took refuge in the Castle Inn and ended up being killed. Or  in the Trojan war when an eagle appears in the sky. Everyone who sees the eagle thinks it means something different, some seeing it as the sign of favor of Zeus or a warning. In the Illiad, ignoring the eagle is one thing that leads to the death of the Trojan prince and hero Hector according to Homer. A punishment for his arrogance in ignoring a divine message.

A much more recent example of this concept of collective dreaming happened in the End of Time episodes of Doctor Who. In these episodes, creatures across time and space who are psychically sensitive have what they describe as bad dreams. Eventually some of them, known as the Ood, show the Doctor what they see: a man laughing over and over and that he is returning. For the Ood and many others, it is just a face laughing. For the Doctor, it is the face and laugh of his oldest nemesis the Master which sends the normally placid Doctor into a panic. To build tension and drama in fiction, authors sometimes make sure the only characters who can make sense of collective or prophetic dreams are also the only ones who can’t see them.  

The Children of Maekar

Now let us go back to the children of Maekar. We never learn exactly what the circumstances of the dragons returning are, only that Daeron was sure they would. However from his brothers we can perhaps surmise what was involved. The first of the brothers to try and bring back dragons was Aerion Brightflame. Aerion was a bully, a fool, impulsive, and a monster in the making. Had he ever sat the Iron Throne he certainly would’ve brought back the cruelty of Maegor. He even named his child after the objectively worst king in Targaryen history. Yet we get these odd passages about the fiery end of Aerion.

 

The very one, though he named himself Aerion Brightflame. One night, in his cups, he drank a jar of wildfire, after telling his friends it would transform him into a dragon, but the gods were kind and it transformed him into a corpse.” ACOK Jon I

 

“Nine mages crossed the sea to hatch Aegon the Third’s cache of eggs. Baelor the Blessed prayed over his for half a year. Aegon the Fourth built dragons of wood and iron. Aerion Brightflame drank wildfire to transform himself. The mages failed, King Baelor’s prayers went unanswered, the wooden dragons burned, and Prince Aerion died screaming.” ASOS Davos V

 

Aerion died by drinking wildfire believing it would turn him into a dragon. Wildfire is George’s magical version of Greek Fire, a green burning substance that mimics dragonflame and is the primary weapon of the defenders of King’s Landing in the Battle of the Blackwater. Everyone puts this down to the idea of Targaryen madness. And yet, despite this, the idea of wildfire and dragon persist beyond Aerion. His younger brother King Aegon V died in a blaze of wildfire as well at Summerhall.

…the blood of the dragon gathered in one… …seven eggs, to honor the seven gods, though the king’s own septon had warned… …pyromancers… …wild fire… …flames grew out of control…towering…burned so hot that… …died, but for the valor of the Lord Comman…

TWOIAF Targaryen Kings Aegon V

 

Egg and Aerion despised each other from a young age. Egg recalls a particularly horrific memory where, in an echo to Euron Greyjoy, Aerion slipped into his bedroom at night and held a knife at Egg’s genitals threatening to castrate him. Egg even cheers for the death of Aerion during the Tourney at Ashford.

 

Egg’s legs tightened again. “Kill him!” he shouted suddenly. “Kill him, he’s right there, kill him, kill him, kill him!” Dunk was not certain which of the knights he was shouting to. – The Hedge Knight

 

Personally, I find it very hard to believe that Egg would copy anything from his elder brother. And yet, we have Aegon attempting to obtain dragons through wildfire,  just like Aerion. Although Aerion believed he would turn into a dragon, the basic message between the two is the same. Wildfire plus Targaryen equals dragons. What this points to is one of two possibilities.

 

On one hand, we know that different characters have varying levels of talent in seeing prophetic dreams. Perhaps Aerion’s was very weak, and so only got very basic images and messages while Aeg got a clearer message. Or maybe Daeron was the source of the information, and told one brother more than the other. It would certainly make sense: Daeron has betrayed Aerion before. At that same Tourney at Ashford, Daeron fought on Aerion’s side against Dunk. Well when I say fought, I mean they started on the same side. Daeron purposely took a dive and lay in the mud feigning injury to hurt Aerion’s chances. Aerion was so hated amongst his family that when Maester Aemon lays dying in AFFC, he expresses he would like to see all his siblings again in the next life except one conspicuously left out.

 

Will I talk with Egg again, find Dareon whole and happy, hear my sisters singing to their children? – AFFC Samwell IV

 

What does this have to do with Daenery on the pyre hatching her dragons though? Remember, these prophetic dreams George has constructed are often symbolic and not exact in nature except among those very gifted. While we see a girl walking out of the flames with three baby dragons, Daeron and his family may have seen a towering inferno with three huge dragons erupting from them and a Targaryen in the middle of it. The important part is the underlying connective tissue between them. Dragons, Targaryens, a funeral pyre, eggs, and one part everyone forgets: a dead king. We’ll come back to that. You take Aerion and Aeg’s actions in bringing back dragons and compare them this way, and it becomes clear how although the details are discordant the overall messages are linked.

 

In addition, the inclusion of wildfire is likely no coincidence. While we think of it like Greek Fire, it’s actually a substance that is magical in nature linked with the dragons themselves. Tyrion has this curious exchange with the pyromancer Hallyne.

 

“They, hmmm, seem to be working better than they were.” Hallyne smiled weakly. “You don’t suppose there are any dragons about, do you?”

“Not unless you found one under the Dragonpit. Why?”

 

Oh, pardon, I was just remembering something old Wisdom Pollitor told me once, when I was an acolyte. I’d asked him why so many of our spells seemed, well, not as effectual as the scrolls would have us believe, and he said it was because magic had begun to go out of the world the day the last dragon died.” ACOK Tyrion XI

 

Their yields had increased after the rebirth of dragons into the world, and it’s apparently well known in their order. Not only that, but wildfire is extraordinarily hot once lit. The way it melts flesh, wood, and even steel is very reminiscent of the way dragonfire destroys. A possible explanation is that the Targaryens believed that heat was necessary for the hatching of eggs. It is commented on in the recent release of “Fire and Blood” that  it was the heat of the volcano on Dragonstone that made eggs hatch so frequently. So when you see a vision of a huge funeral pyre burning extremely hot and then dragon eggs hatching, it’s easy to see why both Aerion and Aegon turned to the hottest burning substance known to man: wildfire. A substance that the pyromancers likely bragged, as Hallyne did to Tyrion, to any Targaryen royal that would listen that their product is connected somehow with dragons and magic.

 

You can imagine them slapping the door to their wildfire vaults,  saying “Oh yeah this will definitely hatch dragons! No product better for it, wildfire is what you need to cure your dragon egg problems!”

 

Summerhall

All we know about Summerhall is that wildfire was involved and most of the royal family was there, including Egg, Dunk, his children, his grandchildren, and notably the about to give birth Rhaella who was carrying Rhaegar at the time. And of course, Egg brought seven dragon eggs. Something caused the wildfire to grow out of control and kill most of those in attendance. What if Aeg was the cause, what if he tried to recreate a vision of Dany?

 

Imagine the set up, a funeral pyre built above wildfire with the eggs in the flames. It’s not working, again, the eggs aren’t hatching. But Aeg needs them to hatch, there’s Blackfyres and the Ninepenny Kings waiting for an invasion from Essos and lords maybe thinking about supporting them after the crown’s smallfolk centric reforms. Aegon V need dragons again, and then he thinks back and remembers. Remembers the dead king on pyre, with the eggs surrounding him. And the recently pregnant Targaryen girl walking out of the flames with dragons, and sees Rhaella swollen with Rhaegar. Perhaps Aeg tried to throw himself and Rhaella into the flames to mimic that vision.  Chaos would break out, and Dunk would do everything he could to save his friend and his family. But wildfire is not tamed, and once spilled would engulf Summerhall. And the tragedy and grief of Summerhall rises with the green flames. All over a vision of dragons hatching.

 

Aerys Targaryen

There’s one more Targaryen though who also believed that wildfire would lead to the return of the dragons. Although it’s not a commonly thought of part of his persona: the Mad King Aerys II. He had a vision that he told Jaime Lannister that made Jaime become the Kingslayer.

 

The traitors want my city, I heard him tell Rossart, but I’ll give them naught but ashes. Let Robert be king over charred bones and cooked meat. The Targaryens never bury their dead, they burn them. Aerys meant to have the greatest funeral pyre of them all. Though if truth be told, I do not believe he truly expected to die. Like Aerion Brightfire before him, Aerys thought the fire would transform him . . . that he would rise again, reborn as a dragon, and turn all his enemies to ash. ASOS Jaime V

 

The language used here is extremely important. The Mad King wanted to turn King’s Landing into his funeral pyre made of wildfire. After the flames ripped through the city killing all its inhabitants, Aerys would rise again as a dragon from the ashes. George is linking him here with Aerion Brightflame. Again we are seeing the same repeated messaging from Aerion and Aegon: dragons, Targaryens, a funeral pyre, eggs and a dead king.

 

The dead king is a part often overlooked, but Khal Drogo was also burned on that Pyre. Although a Khal is not a king, in the dreamy prophetic world where Catelyn Tully becomes a fish and Baelor Breakspear becomes a great black dragon, Drogo’s image could become misunderstood as well. A Khal becomes a king, echoing the Targaryen words of Fire and Blood and the oft repeated line that only death can pay for life. There’s power in King’s blood after all, again easy to see how a viewer of these images might think the burning king is what unlocks the dragon eggs. And then we get back to Aerys.

 

We are told over and over that Aerys is Mad and insane, it’s important to recognize a character archetype he inhabits: the mad prophet. This is an extremely well known archetype in one of George’s favorite authors, H.P. Lovecraft. Often Lovecraft would write about people who would see worlds and creatures and times no one else could around them. They would become lost in these visions and dreams, their real lives crumble around them while they chase the grand visions. Or run from the more eldritch and horrible ones. In particular they often see beautiful huge white marble cities, endless idyllic landscapes, impossible structures, terrifying monsters in the deep and all around them, and days that have yet to come.

 

And now, we turn to the world book where we get these descriptions of the crackpot ideas a young King Aerys hatched.

 

His Grace was full of grand schemes as well. Not long after his coronation, he announced his intent to conquer the Stepstones and make them a part of his realm for all time. In 264 AC, a visit to King’s Landing by Lord Rickard Stark of Winterfell awakened his interest in the North, and he hatched a plan to build a new Wall a hundred leagues north of the existing one and claim all the lands between. In 265 AC, offended by “the stink of King’s Landing,” he spoke of building a “white city” entirely of marble on the south bank of the Blackwater Rush. In 267 AC, after a dispute with the Iron Bank of Braavos regarding certain monies borrowed by his father, he announced that he would build the largest war fleet in the history of the world “to bring the Titan to his knees.” In 270 AC, during a visit to Sunspear, he told the Princess of Dorne that he would “make the Dornish deserts bloom” by digging a great underground canal beneath the mountains to bring water down from the rainwood.

– TWOIAF Targaryen Kings Aerys II

 

That white city made of marble is a dead ringer for a mad prophet vision from Lovecraft. This particular dream is the codex for understanding what George means for us to understand about Aerys. He’s been driven mad by what he sees. A second Wall to the North of the current one could be in response to a dream about the imminent return of the others and a pre-emptive move against them. It was during Aerys’ lifetime that Craster began marrying his daughters and giving his sons directly to the Others. The plan to make the Dornish deserts bloom could be a vision of the past before the Hammer of Waters shattered Dorne and made it into the arid desert it is today. Or one of the future when Dorne is a fertile grassland again.  

 

Duskendale and Darkness

In addition, we learn from Aerys’ past that his madness began after one particular event: The defiance of Duskendale. The defiance started as a dispute between Lord Darklyn and Aerys over taxes that escalated when Aerys was taken prisoner and thrown in the Duskendale dungeons. He stayed in the dark for half a year until Ser Barristan pulled a John Wick and personally rescued Aerys from the dungeons. Imprisonment can drive people mad, especially someone already on their way like Aery. But let’s, take a second look at this imprisonment with the lens of Aerys as a mad prophet and dreamer. We’ve heard this story before, someone trapped in the darkness for a long period of time and having their third eye opened.

 

Bran Stark spends weeks and months deep underground in the dark between the Winterfell crypts and Bloodraven’s cave. And in those times, his powers and ability to see expands immensely and his third eye opens.

 

He remembered who he was all too well; Bran the boy, Bran the broken. Better Bran the beastling. Was it any wonder he would sooner dream his Summer dreams, his wolf dreams? Here in the chill damp darkness of the tomb his third eye had finally opened. He could reach Summer whenever he wanted, and once he had even touched Ghost and talked to Jon.

– ACOK Bran VII

 

Arya Stark as well experiences a parallel awakening of her abilities. While in the service of the Faceless Men of Braavos, she is blinded for some time as a part of her training. And it in this time that Arya has her third eye opened as well. Her dreams of Nymeria become stronger and more real, and she begins skinchanging cats.

 

Much like Bran, while in the darkness Arya is learning to control and use her powers. However, we should remember from this past season of Game of Thrones when Bran sees his sisters again how they view him. They think he is crazy, odd, strange as he begins telling them about what he has become. As the reader we have the benefit of understanding what they are going through. We have no such insight into Aerys, and yet we know after Duskendale his delusions and mad prophet behavior got much worse.

 

He stopped cutting his hair, his fingernails, stopped leaving the Red Keep, didn’t allow swords in his presence except the Kingsguard. He became incredibly afraid of blades in particular, and then knowing how he dies at the tip of a sword we should maybe re-evaluate what we know about Aerys. Maybe he was paranoid about being assassinated after being kidnapped and betrayed by Tywin. Or maybe in that darkness in the Duskendale dungeons his third eye opened and he started seeing images of the future. Blades in the dark coming for him, a dead king on a pyre and dragons rising from it, all his friends and family betraying him. But he had no Bloodraven, no Leaf, no Jojen, no Kindly man to help him control and understand these images. So a gift turned into a poison on his psyche and his kingdom.

 

Recreating Dany’s Pyre

So again let us turn back to Daenerys. The parallels between Aerys’ vision of his death and resurrection as a dragon bear a striking resemblance of Dany and the dragons hatching. More so than Aerion and perhaps Aegon. His city-sized pyre has all the elements of Dany’s. A dead king burning in a huge fire interpreting himself as Drogo. Dragons emerging from the King’s body as well. Dany placed her eggs around Khal Drogo.

 

She climbed the pyre herself to place the eggs around her sun-and-stars. The black beside his heart, under his arm. The green beside his head, his braid coiled around it. The cream-and-gold down between his legs. When she kissed him for the last time, Dany could taste the sweetness of the oil on his lips.

As she climbed down off the pyre, she noticed Mirri Maz Duur watching her. “You are mad,” the godswife said hoarsely.

– AGOT Daenerys X

 

It would be an easy misunderstanding again that the dragons were coming from the body of the dead king rather than eggs placed on his chest, under his arm, and beside his head. The burning of innocents are present in both. Dany kills and burns Drogo’s prized horse on the pyre as well as Mirri Maz Duur. You could see that as the overall message of death paying for life, which again Aerys could’ve been imitating by planning to burn down all of King’s Landing for his dragons. In addition he had his grandchildren Aegon and Rhaenys in King’s Landing along with their mother Elia. There’s power in King’s blood.

 

And then the eggs. This one is harder to place, but we learn that the Mad King did actually have a clutch of eggs.

 

In the wake of Duskendale, the king also began to display signs of an ever-increasing obsession with dragonfire, similar to that which had haunted several of his forebears. Lord Darklyn would never have dared defy him if he had been a dragonrider, Aerys reasoned. His attempts to bring forth dragons from eggs found in the depths of Dragonstone (some so old that they had turned to stone) yielded naught, however.

– TWOIAF – The Targaryen Kings: Aerys II

 

Put these all together and you have what looks like someone trying to make Daenerys’ pyre come true for themselves. A misinterpreted vision of the future, the same mistakes that people like Melisandre make. Or Daeron. And so many others. People desperate for the return of dragons, seizing on dreams as proof and trying and make them come true.

Across Thousands of Years

A final question is how long have those with the gift been seeing Daenerys and her dragons? It may be that people have been seeing her for hundreds of years, thousands of years, yet it’s only after the death of the dragons that anyone started really paying attention. Although earlier I gave Daeron much of the credit for seeing this dream, but he’s not the only source. Egg mentions the other reason he believes: King Aerys I who read it in prophecy that the dragons would return. I’ve previously posited that he was reading Daeron’s dreams, however another possibility exists. The book of dreams by Daeneys the Dreamer known as Signs and Portents. The Doom of Valyria she foresaw probably did not make up an entire book, it’s believed (since no one has a complete copy) that she wrote down many more of her visions.

 

Marwyn claims to have found three pages of Signs and Portents, visions written down by the maiden daughter of Aenar Targaryen before the Doom came to Valyria. – AFFC the Kraken’s Daughter

 

If Daenys was right once about what she saw, why not again? At the time a dream about the dragons returning might’ve seemed foolish, or one that has already come to pass. At the time of her death on Dragonstone, there were only a handful of dragons alive. Balerion the Black Dread for sure, perhaps the hatchlings Meraxes and Vhagar, and perhaps some of the wild dragons. There’s whispers on Dragonstone that the wild dragon the Cannibal was on the island before the Targaryens landed. After Aegon’s conquest though, there’s an explosion of dragons and mayhaps to those who knew of Daeneys’ vision they checked that one off as true. The dragons did return after all, not realizing or paying attention to the girl on the pyre part.

 

We get another hint as well that Dany is being watched across time and space. In a fever dream in the chapter before the hatching the dragons, she receives a very strange vision (and that’s saying something considering the rest of them) about her running past a group of unknown kings.

 

Ghosts lined the hallway, dressed in the faded raiment of kings. In their hands were swords of pale fire. They had hair of silver and hair of gold and hair of platinum white, and their eyes were opal and amethyst, tourmaline and jade. “Faster,” they cried, “faster, faster.” She raced, her feet melting the stone wherever they touched. “Faster!” the ghosts cried as one, and she screamed and threw herself forward. A great knife of pain ripped down her back, and she felt her skin tear open and smelled the stench of burning blood and saw the shadow of wings. And Daenerys Targaryen flew.

“… wake the dragon …” – AGOT Daenerys IX

 

You could be forgiven for thinking these are just her ancestors, but the eyes tell a different story. Their eyes are the colors of opal, amethyst, tourmaline, and jade and Targaryens generally only have eyes of amethyst or purple and sometimes blue. The colors of opal, amethyst, tourmaline, and jade reference a much ancient line of rulers, ghosts from myths and legend. The Gemstone Emperors of the Great Empire of the Dawn.

 

In the beginning, the priestly scribes of Yin declare, all the land between the Bones and the freezing desert called the Grey Waste, from the Shivering Sea to the Jade Sea (including even the great and holy isle of Leng), formed a single realm ruled by the God-on-Earth, the only begotten son of the Lion of Night and MaidenMade-of-Light, who traveled about his domains in a palanquin carved from a single pearl and carried by a hundred queens, his wives. For ten thousand years the Great Empire of the Dawn flourished in peace and plenty under the God on-Earth, until at last he ascended to the stars to join his forebears.

Dominion over mankind then passed to his eldest son, who was known as the Pearl Emperor and ruled for a thousand years. The Jade Emperor, the Tourmaline Emperor, the Onyx Emperor, the Topaz Emperor, and the Opal Emperor followed in turn, each reigning for centuries. – TWOIAF – The Bones and Beyond – Yi Ti

We know from the books and tv show that people can use skinchanging and trees to see the past. In the Tower of Joy scene from the show, Bran visits the tower twice but on his second journey he doesn’t see himself standing with Bloodraven. Although he sees Ned turn and react to his past self yelling out, although not hearing or seeing himself doing it. What this establishes is that multiple, many huge amounts of greenseers or dreamers could be seeing a single moment and none of them perceiving each other. While we’ve been told that many of these prophetic dreams are received by the dreamers, imagine if instead they are in those moments like Bran seeing them. Or Melisandre looking through the flames, a million faces peering into flames seeing another time and place. The rebirth of the dragons is a huge moment in history, one that will decide whether the world ends in ice or fire. And if humanity has a future. Such a momentous vision may have echoed back across time.

It may also be that for prophecies, the longer away a particular one is the harder it is to see it clearly. Among the Targaryens who experimented with wildfire and returning dragons, there’s an upwards progression in how closely they are replicating details. Aerys is the closest, incorporating major parts and images into his attempt while Aerion, decades earlier, does a very poor job only getting a few details. Yet when looking backwards, the details could get uncertain or obfuscated like looking through cloudy glass or glass candles. Ancient prophecies like the Prince that was Promised and Azor Ahai may be about Dany in the far future, misunderstandings and an endless game of telephone leading details to be smudged and localized and forgotten. But all cultures across the world and time seeing a girl walking out of the fire unburnt with three dragons woken from stone, with the bleeding red star overhead and her born amid salt and smoke.

 

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