*Reminder: Full spoilers from all stories are openly discussed here. Be prepared 🙂
For this section, I would highly recommend reading both George RR Martin’s cautionary tale In the Lost Lands, as well as And Seven Times Never Kill Man. The story In the Lost Lands (which George says he based on a song) is a short enough story to read in about an hour or so, and the scenes between Daenerys and Drogo going out to find a white lion hrakkar is amazingly similar to this story… including being careful what you wish for in the long run. You will also recognize the other elements in the story In the Lost Lands that are used again in Daenerys’ Dothraki sea experiences, as well as a skosh for the Faceless Men (but very little), as well as plenty that directly relates to the various “fire people” such as Cersei and other R’hllorists in ASOIAF.
- In the Lost Lands
The Lady Melange did not come herself to Gray Alys. She was said to be a clever and a cautious young woman, as well as exceedingly fair, and she had heard the stories. Those who dealt with Gray Alys did so at their own peril, it was said. Gray Alys did not refuse any of those who came to her, and she always got them what they wanted. Yet somehow, when all was done, those who dealt with Gray Alys were never happy with the things that she brought them, the things that they had wanted. The Lady Melange knew all this, ruling as she did from the high keep built into the side of the mountain. Perhaps that was why she did not come herself.
Instead, it was Jerais who came calling on Gray Alys that day; Blue Jerais, the lady’s champion, foremost of the paladins who secured her high keep and led her armies into battle, captain of her colorguard. Jerais wore an underlining of pale blue silk beneath the deep azure plate of his enameled armor. The sigil on his shield was a maelstrom done in a hundred subtle hues of blue, and a sapphire large as an eagle’s eye was set in the hilt of his sword. When he entered Gray Alys’ presence and removed his helmet, his eyes were a perfect match for the jewel in his sword, though his hair was a startling and inappropriate red.
Gray Alys received him in the small, ancient stone house she kept in the dim heart of the town beneath the mountain. She waited for him in a windowless room full of dust and the smell of mold, seated in an old high-backed chair that seemed to dwarf her small, thin body. In her lap was a gray rat the size of a small dog. She stroked it languidly as Jerais entered and took off his helmet and let his bright blue eyes adjust to the dimness.
“It is said also that you have powers, Gray Alys. It is said that you are not always as you sit before me now, a slender woman of indeterminate age, clad all in gray. It is said that you become young and old as you wish. It is said that sometimes you are a man, or an old woman, or a child. It is said that you know the secrets of shapeshifting, that you go abroad as a great cat, a bear, a bird, and that you change your skin at will, not as a slave to the moon like the werefolk of the lost lands.”
“All of these things are said,” Gray Alys acknowledged.
“I refuse no one,” Gray Alys replied.
Jerais scowled in confusion. “I shall have what I ask?”
“You shall have what you want.”
“Excellent,” said Jerais, grinning again. “In a month, then!”
“A month,” agreed Gray Alys.
And so Gray Alys sent the word out, in ways that only Gray Alys knew. The message passed from mouth to mouth through the shadows and alleys and the secret sewers of the town, and even to the tall houses of scarlet wood and colored glass where dwelled the noble and the rich. Soft gray rats with tiny human hands whispered it to sleeping children, and the children shared it with each other, and chanted a strange new chant when they skipped rope. The word drifted to all the army outposts to the east, and rode west with the great caravans into the heart of the old empire of which the town beneath the mountain was only the smallest part. Huge leathery birds with the cunning faces of monkeys flew the word south, over the forests and the rivers, to a dozen different kingdoms, where men and women as pale and terrible as Gray Alys herself heard it in the solitude of their towers. Even north, past the mountains, even into the lost lands, the word traveled.
It did not take long. In less than two weeks, he came to her. “I can lead you to what you seek,” he told her. “I can find you a werewolf.”
He was a young man, slender and beardless. He dressed in the worn leathers of the rangers who lived and hunted in the windswept desolation beyond the mountains. His skin had the deep tan of a man who spent all his life outdoors, though his hair was as white as mountain snow and fell about his shoulders, tangled and unkempt. He wore no armor and carried a long knife instead of a sword, and he moved with a wary grace. Beneath the pale strands of hair that fell across his face, his eyes were dark and sleepy. Though his smile was open and amiable, there was a curious indolence to him as well, and a dreamy, sensuous set to his lips when he thought no one was watching. He named himself Boyce.
“Do you dwell in the lost lands, Boyce?” Gray Alys asked of him.
“No. They are no fit place for dwelling. I have a home here in town. But I go beyond the mountains often, Gray Alys. I am a hunter. I know the lost lands well, and I know the things that live there. You seek a man who walks like a wolf. I can take you to him. But we must leave at once, if we are to arrive before the moon is full.”
At last another light caught her eye. A spreading dimness in the east, wan and ominous. Moonrise.
Gray Alys stared calmly across the dying camp fire. Boyce had begun to change.
She watched his body twist as bone and muscle changed within, watched his pale white hair grow longer and longer, watched his lazy smile turn into a wide red grin that split his face, saw the canines lengthen and the tongue come lolling out, watched the wine cup fall as his hands melted and writhed and became paws. He started to say something once, but no words came out, only a low, coarse snarl of laughter, half-human and half-animal. Then he threw back his head and howled, and he ripped at his clothing until it lay in tatters all about him and he was Boyce no longer. Across the fire from Gray Alys the wolf stood, a great shaggy white beast, half again the size of an ordinary wolf, with a savage red slash of a mouth and glowing scarlet eyes. Gray Alys stared into those eyes as she rose and shook the dust from her feathered cloak. They were knowing eyes, cunning, wise. Inside those eyes she saw a smile, a smile that presumed.
A smile that presumed too much.
The wolf howled once again, a long wild sound that melted into the wind. And then he leapt, straight across the embers of the fire he had built.
Gray Alys threw her arms out, her cloak bunched in her hands, and changed.
Her change was faster than his had been, over almost as soon as it began, but for Gray Alys it lasted an eternity. First there was the strange choking, clinging feeling as the cloak adhered to her skin, then dizziness and a curious liquid weakness as her muscles began to run and flow and reshape themselves. And finally exhilaration, as the power rushed into her and came coursing through her veins, a wine fiercer and hotter and wilder than the poor stuff Boyce had mulled above their fire.
She beat her vast silvery wings, each pinion tipped with black, and the dust stirred and swirled as she rose up into the moonlight, up to safety high above the white wolf’s bound, up and up until the ruins shrunk to insignificance far beneath her. The wind took hold of her, caressed her with trembling icy hands, and she yielded herself to it and soared. Her great wings filled with the dread melody of the lost lands, carrying her higher and higher.
Boyce tried to sit up, winced at the pain, and settled back onto the blanket she had laid beneath him. “I thought … thought I was dead,” he said. “You were close to dead,” Gray Alys replied. “Silver,” he said bitterly. “Silver cuts and burns so.” “Yes.” “But you saved me,” he said, confused. “I changed back to myself, and brought you back, and tended you.”
Perhaps Jerais was afraid of what she might give him, for he did not return to Gray Alys alone. He brought two other knights with him, a huge man all in white whose shield showed a skull carved out of ice, and another in crimson whose sigil was a burning man. They stood at the door, helmeted and silent, while Jerais approached Gray Alys warily. “Well?” he demanded.
Across her lap was a wolfskin, the pelt of some huge massive beast, all white as mountain snow. Gray Alys rose and offered the skin to Blue Jerais, draping it across his outstretched arm. “Tell the Lady Melange to cut herself, and drip her own blood onto the skin. Do this at moonrise when the moon is full, and then the power will be hers. She need only wear the skin as a cloak, and will the change thereafter. Day or night, full moon or no moon, it makes no matter.”
Jerais looked at the heavy white pelt and smiled a hard smile. “A wolfskin, eh? I had not expected that. I thought perhaps a potion, a spell.”
“No,” said Gray Alys. “The skin of a werewolf.”
“A werewolf?” Jerais’ mouth twisted curiously, and there was a sparkle in his deep sapphire eyes. “Well, Gray Alys, you have done what the Lady Melange asked, but you have failed me. I did not pay you for success. Return my gem.”
“No,” said Gray Alys. “I have earned it, Jerais.”
“I do not have what I asked for.”
“You have what you wanted, and that is what I promised.” Her gray eyes met his own without fear. “You thought my failure would help you get what you truly wanted, and that my success would doom you. You were wrong.”
That day there was bitter lamentation in the high keep on the mountain, when Blue Jerais knelt before the Lady Melange and offered her a white wolfskin. But when the screaming and the wailing and the mourning was done, she took the great pale cloak and bled upon it and learned the ways of change. It is not the union she desired, but it is a union nonetheless. So every night she prowls the battlements and the mountainside, and the townsfolk say her howling is wild with grief.
And Blue Jerais, who wed her a month after Gray Alys returned from the lost lands, sits beside a madwoman in the great hall by day, and locks his doors by night in terror of his wife’s hot red eyes, and does not hunt anymore, or laugh, or lust. You can buy anything you might desire from Gray Alys. But it is better not to.
[The end, and, whew! That was a lot of information. Thanks for sticking with me this far. Much faster reads from here on out.]
Compare to Drogo acting as a combination of Boyce and the knight named Blue Jarais in this scene. It is Blue Jarais who is out to get his princess, the Lady Melange, all that she desires from the witch named Gray Alys… which comes with a cost; madness. It is Boyce that is a werewolf, of whom Gray Alys steals his skin through a blood and fire ritual, and his skin is the gift given to the Lady Melange by Blue Jarais.
- A Game of Thrones – Daenerys VI
Khal Drogo did not want to hear it. “We will speak no more of wooden horses and iron chairs.” He dropped the cloth and began to dress. “This day I will go to the grass and hunt, woman wife,” he announced as he shrugged into a painted vest and buckled on a wide belt with heavy medallions of silver, gold, and bronze. “Yes, my sun-and-stars,” Dany said. Drogo would take his bloodriders and ride in search of hrakkar, the great white lion of the plains. If they returned triumphant, her lord husband’s joy would be fierce, and he might be willing to hear her out.
[and then just a few lines later she goes into a “madness” to hatch her dragon eggs]
Was it madness that seized her then, born of fear? Or some strange wisdom buried in her blood? Dany could not have said. She heard her own voice saying, “Ser Jorah, light the brazier.”
“Khaleesi?” The knight looked at her strangely. “It is so hot. Are you certain?”
She had never been so certain. “Yes. I … I have a chill. Light the brazier.”
He bowed. “As you command.”
When the coals were afire, Dany sent Ser Jorah from her. She had to be alone to do what she must do. This is madness, she told herself as she lifted the black-and-scarlet egg from the velvet. It will only crack and burn, and it’s so beautiful, Ser Jorah will call me a fool if I ruin it, and yet, and yet …
Cradling the egg with both hands, she carried it to the fire and pushed it down amongst the burning coals. The black scales seemed to glow as they drank the heat. Flames licked against the stone with small red tongues. Dany placed the other two eggs beside the black one in the fire. As she stepped back from the brazier, the breath trembled in her throat.
She watched until the coals had turned to ashes. Drifting sparks floated up and out of the smokehole. Heat shimmered in waves around the dragon’s eggs. And that was all.
Your brother Rhaegar was the last dragon, Ser Jorah had said. Dany gazed at her eggs sadly. What had she expected? A thousand thousand years ago they had been alive, but now they were only pretty rocks. They could not make a dragon. A dragon was air and fire. Living flesh, not dead stone.
The brazier was cold again by the time Khal Drogo returned. Cohollo was leading a packhorse behind him, with the carcass of a great white lion slung across its back. Above, the stars were coming out. The khal laughed as he swung down off his stallion and showed her the scars on his leg where the hrakkar had raked him through his leggings. “I shall make you a cloak of its skin, moon of my life,” he swore.
When Dany told him what had happened at the market, all laughter stopped, and Khal Drogo grew very quiet. “This poisoner was the first,” Ser Jorah Mormont warned him, “but he will not be the last. Men will risk much for a lordship.”
Drogo was silent for a time. Finally he said, “This seller of poisons ran from the moon of my life. Better he should run after her. So he will. Jhogo, Jorah the Andal, to each of you I say, choose any horse you wish from my herds, and it is yours. Any horse save my red and the silver that was my bride gift to the moon of my life. I make this gift to you for what you did.
“And to Rhaego son of Drogo, the stallion who will mount the world, to him I also pledge a gift. To him I will give this iron chair his mother’s father sat in. I will give him Seven Kingdoms. I, Drogo, khal, will do this thing.” His voice rose, and he lifted his fist to the sky. “I will take my khalasar west to where the world ends, and ride the wooden horses across the black salt water as no khal has done before. I will kill the men in the iron suits and tear down their stone houses. I will rape their women, take their children as slaves, and bring their broken gods back to Vaes Dothrak to bow down beneath the Mother of Mountains. This I vow, I, Drogo son of Bharbo. This I swear before the Mother of Mountains, as the stars look down in witness.”
CLOAK of the NIGHT LION
In the story we have another “death god” called the Lion of Night. This ancient story happens again in the current story with a twist. This time the Lion of Night is a female, and the maiden-made-of-light is Sun-and-stars Khal Drogo. Their son, Rhaego, was supposed to be the Stallion that Mounts the World, instead of the God on Earth, but both ascended to the heavens.
This is another of many parallels that GRRM planned between Daenerys and Cersei, with Daenerys being more of the metaphorical “death god” aspect, and Cersei being more of the literal Lannister lion goddess of death and wildfire.
Lucifer was said to have given Lilith the ‘cloak of night’ as a gift after she had wandered the lands outside of Eden, scorched and tortured. In ASOIAF we see this (above) when Daenerys and her people enter Vaes Tolorro. Drogo gives Dany a lion pelt that she keeps with her the whole time, even though it smells musty. And we have ASOIAF tales of the Lion of Night.
A Clash of King’s – Daenerys I
Her hair had burned away in Drogo’s pyre, so her handmaids garbed her in the skin of the hrakkar Drogo had slain, the white lion of the Dothraki sea. Its fearsome head made a hood to cover her naked scalp, its pelt a cloak that flowed across her shoulders and down her back. The cream-colored dragon sunk sharp black claws into the lion’s mane and coiled its tail around her arm, while Ser Jorah took his accustomed place by her side.
“We follow the comet,” Dany told her khalasar. Once it was said, no word was raised against it. They had been Drogo’s people, but they were hers now. The Unburnt, they called her, and Mother of Dragons. Her word was their law.
It was Drogo who had given her the pelt she wore, the head and hide of a hrakkar, the white lion of the Dothraki sea. It was too big for her and had a musty smell, but it made her feel as if her sun-and-stars was still near her.
The Lion of Night is a god in Yi Ti. The Faceless Men believe that is just another representation of the Many-Faced God. There is a statue of it in the House of Black and White which is most commonly visited by rich men. Also, there is a statue of the Pale Child Bakkalon in the HoBW as well. The Faceless Men are a death cult. Essentially what Arya shows the reader are the many aspects that Daenerys is manifesting herself as. Each region has thier own death god, and Daenerys is the embodiment of all of them.
Eventually abandoned by both, Lilith met the wandering banished descendant of her ex-husband, the First Murderer (as named in the Bible) Caine. She took Caine in, tended to his injuries, fed and healed him, and taught him secret wisdom — the seeds of which blossomed into the vampiric disciplines (just like Daemon Julian mentioned above). And how does Caine repay Lilith? By abandoning her as well, to wander forever apart, mother of monsters and thief of infant breaths. Caine goes on to found Enoch and Lilith leaves the scene. We can see how an easy author remix gives us Mirri Mas Duur.
If we look at Cersei as another Lion of Night, we see that much of what we learn of this being comes from the Arya point of view chapters… and Arya has Queen Cersei on her death prayer list. I don’t think Arya will dwell too long on that list and that she won’t personally kill all those left. Arya is a chooser of the slain as a type of Valkyrie herself, a cup bearer of sorts, but Arya discussion will be kept for another time and place.
A Feast for Crows – Arya II
Worshipers came to the House of Black and White every day. Most came alone and sat alone; they lit candles at one altar or another, prayed beside the pool, and sometimes wept. A few drank from the black cup and went to sleep; more did not drink. There were no services, no songs, no paeans of praise to please the god. The temple was never full. From time to time, a worshiper would ask to see a priest, and the kindly man or the waif would take him down into the sanctum, but that did not happen often.
Thirty different gods stood along the walls, surrounded by their little lights. The Weeping Woman was the favorite of old women, Arya saw; rich men preferred the Lion of Night, poor men the Hooded Wayfarer. Soldiers lit candles to Bakkalon, the Pale Child, sailors to the Moon-Pale Maiden and the Merling King. The Stranger had his shrine as well, though hardly anyone ever came to him. Most of the time only a single candle stood flickering at his feet. The kindly man said it did not matter. “He has many faces, and many ears to hear.”
A Feast for Crows – Cat Of The Canals
“Him of Many Faces.”
“And many names,” the kindly man had said. “In Qohor he is the Black Goat, in Yi Ti the Lion of Night, in Westeros the Stranger. All men must bow to him in the end, no matter if they worship the Seven or the Lord of Light, the Moon Mother or the Drowned God or the Great Shepherd. All mankind belongs to him . . . else somewhere in the world would be a folk who lived forever. Do you know of any folk who live forever?”
“No,” she would answer. “All men must die.”
- The World of Ice and Fire – The Bones and Beyond: Asshai-by-the-Shadow
The ships come nonetheless. For gold, for gems, and for other treasures, for certain things spoken of only in whispers, things that cannot be found anywhere upon the earth save in the black bazaars of Asshai.The dark city by the Shadow is a city steeped in sorcery. Warlocks, wizards, alchemists, moonsingers, red priests, black alchemists, necromancers, aeromancers, pyromancers, bloodmages, torturers, inquisitors, poisoners, godswives, night-walkers, shapechangers, worshippers of the Black Goat and the Pale Child and the Lion of Night, all find welcome in Asshai-by-the-Shadow, where nothing is forbidden. Here they are free to practice their spells without restraint or censure, conduct their obscene rites, and fornicate with demons if that is their desire.Most sinister of all the sorcerers of Asshai are the shadowbinders, whose lacquered masks hide their faces from the eyes of gods and men. They alone dare to go upriver past the walls of Asshai, into the heart of darkness.
And compare to make a further connection that the Him of Many Faces is just a collective name of all the death gods, we have this tale of the Night Lion that is near exactly to what GRRM has established as the foundation of the Pale Child Bakkalon:
- The World of Ice and Fire – The Bones and Beyond: Yi Ti
When the daughter of the Opal Emperor succeeded him as the Amethyst Empress, her envious younger brother cast her down and slew her, proclaiming himself the Bloodstone Emperor and beginning a reign of terror. He practiced dark arts, torture, and necromancy, enslaved his people, took a tiger-woman for his bride, feasted on human flesh, and cast down the true gods to worship a black stone that had fallen from the sky. (Many scholars count the Bloodstone Emperor as the first High Priest of the sinister Church of Starry Wisdom, which persists to this day in many port cities throughout the known world).
In the annals of the Further East, it was the Blood Betrayal, as his usurpation is named, that ushered in the age of darkness called the Long Night. Despairing of the evil that had been unleashed on earth, the Maiden-Made-of-Light turned her back upon the world, and the Lion of Night came forth in all his wroth to punish the wickedness of men.
How long the darkness endured no man can say, but all agree that it was only when a great warrior—known variously as Hyrkoon the Hero, Azor Ahai, Yin Tar, Neferion, and Eldric Shadowchaser—arose to give courage to the race of men and lead the virtuous into battle with his blazing sword Lightbringer that the darkness was put to rout, and light and love returned once more to the world.
Bakkalon the Pale Child as described by GRRM in And Seven Times Never Kill Man compared to Daenerys with her own fiery reaver sword.
Lyon and DaHan both nodded, among others. “Speak wisdom to us,” Fieldbishop Dhallis said then.
Proctor Wyatt agreed. One of the lesser-ranking squadmothers brought him the Book, and he opened it to the Chapter of Teachings.
“In those days much evil had come upon the seed of Earth,” the Proctor read, “for the children of Bakkalon had abandoned Him to bow to softer gods. So their skies grew dark and upon them from above came the Sons of Hranga with red eyes and demon teeth, and upon them from below came the vast Horde of Fyndii like a cloud of locusts that blotted out the stars. And the worlds flamed, and the children cried out, ‘Save us! Save us!’
“And the pale child came and stood before them, with His great sword in His hand, and in a voice like thunder He rebuked them. ‘You have been weak children,’ He told them, ‘for you have disobeyed. Where are your swords? Did I not set swords in your hands?’
“And the children cried out, ‘We have beaten them into plowshares, oh Bakkalon!’
“And He was sore angry. ‘With plowshares, then, shall you face the Sons of Hranga! With plowshares shall you slay the Horde of Fyndii!’ And He left them, and heard no more their weeping, for the Heart of Bakkalon is a Heart of Fire.
“But then one among the seed of Earth dried his tears, for the skies did burn so bright that they ran scalding on his cheeks. And the bloodlust rose in him and he beat his plowshare back into a sword, and charged the Sons of Hranga, slaying as he went. Then others saw, and followed, and a great battle-cry rang across the worlds.
“And the pale child heard, and came again, for the sound of battle is more pleasing to his ears than the sound of wails. And when He saw, He smiled. ‘Now you are my children again,’ He said to the seed of Earth. ‘For you had turned against me to worship a god who calls himself a lamb, but did you not know that lambs go only to the slaughter? Yet now your eyes have cleared, and again you are the Wolves of God!’.
“And Bakkalon gave them all swords again, all His children and all the seed of Earth, and He lifted his great black blade, the Demon-Reaver that slays the soulless, and swung it. And the Sons of Hranga fell before His might, and the great Horde that was the Fyndii burned beneath His gaze. And the children of Bakkalon swept across the worlds.”
The Proctor lifted his eyes. “Go, my brothers-in-arms, and think on the Teachings of Bakkalon as you sleep. May the pale child grant you visions!”
Feature image artist: Daenerys Targaryen by nastjastark
The next parts of the of the character review are:
- Daenerys the Silver Coin Queen
- The She of Daenerys
- Bakkalon the Pale Child and Flames
- Daemon Reaver… and Roads
- Lilith: Lullaby, Beauty, Gardens
- Dany is the Night Lion
- Lilith the Leviathan and Asteroid
- Lilith tail ends…