Aegon lives… let’s speculate how.
I am pleased to finally bring all of these ideas together that have been wracking around for years in my old noggin’ and only discussed in small parts on places like the Westeros forum. For this speculative theory here, I recommend reading the stories:
- Fevre Dream for all of the strategics, historic travels upon the river, and mainly because of the smashed head character that was never dead. Time is a river, to quote Brynden Bloodraven Rivers. Additionally, the name Aegon is most likely derived from Aegean, as in the sea (a huge theme in ASOIAF), and we see in Fevre Dream story Martin had relatives from across the Caspian Sea. Aegean Sea details will come later, but the Aegean Sea in the Narrow Sea Aegon’s have a habit of crossing; Aegon the Conquerer, current Aegon VI, and then Daenerys who will take up the conqueror helm as a type of Aegon the VII. And last but not least are the Euron comparisons in Damon Julian of Fevre Dream to playing “games of the mind” as Euron does in The Winds of Winter Forsaken preview chapter. Euron is an “evil” Kleronomas, or more precisely, a Kleronomas after Cyrain of Liltih and Ash (mostly a Daenerys archetype) takes over the body of Kleronomas.
- Under Seige because of the strong parallel to using water as a source to “timeride” in effort to go back and administer changes that affect the future. The main character actually struggles with the idea of messing with the events of the past. However, the main character is not fully a morally clean character. He is a horny, sorta creepy, disfigured dwarf who in real-time tries to outwit the more handsome, aristocratic Colonel. I will post a few details from this story near the bottom after the Fevre Dream section. I can’t post every book quote because of length, but if there is anything else you would like to see, just ask.
- Unsound Variations. This story is one of the few time travel stories from George RR Martin, and this one focuses on chess, making ‘unsound variations’ in the game all to manipulate repeating history. The term unsound variation is chess lingo wherein you try to manipulate the board by making an irregular move, regardless of your tactics, if your opponent plays properly, you get in to a bad position no matter what you do. For chess fans or just the curious, here is a link to a discussion asking if the Traxler chess move is unsound.
Just like Tyrion on the Rhoyne as he manipulates Aegon in his war strategies in order for Tyrion to create a favorable future for himself. We will have to wait and witness the outcome of Tyrion with these unsound variate movements he orchestrated, but for now his plan is an action. I suspect this judgement will come later from Aegon and Daenerys while the two dragons are still allied/married.
A Game of Thrones – Tyrion IV
She looked at him, lips pressed tightly together.
“As I was saying before we were so rudely interrupted,” Tyrion began, “there is a serious flaw in Littlefinger’s fable. Whatever you may believe of me, Lady Stark, I promise you this—I never bet against my family.”
- For A Single Yesterday. Just a bit with this one. Basically it is another time trip story where strange things happen with time along/next to the river, showing a clear repeated theme GRRM prefers to use.
- Armegeddon Rag. The lead singer of a very famous band has his head explode on stage when someone shoots him. The lead singer does die, well, his body does, but his soul is “reborn” in the body of a replacement. The things is, this is a twist on how GRRM usually does it. The lead singer actually is the one performing the new music on stage, and the new body is also himself. At the end of the story, the two separate and you can see it was the lead singer this whole time. Very trippy story. Very.
- Bitterblooms. To a softer extent, GRRM uses the idea and imagery to show a head “exploding”, only for the person to be revealed to be alive. Shawn even wakens to “blue”, as Aegon wears his hair color now as blue to hide his identity. This short scene even re-uses the fiery hand of R’hllor/dragons prefer to attack from the sky theme GRRM often repeats.
- Then the vampire screamed, and the side of Shawn’s head exploded in pain, and she had blood in her eyes, and she was choking on blood, and blood and blood, and nothing more.…
It was blue, all blue; hazy, shifting blue. a pale blue, dancing, dancing, like the ghost light that had flickered on the sky. A soft blue, like the little flower, the impossible blossom by the riverbank. A cold blue, like the eyes of the Ice Wagon’s black driver, like Lane’s lips when last she kissed them. Blue, blue, and it moved and would not be still. Everything was blurred, unreal. There was only blue. For a long time, only blue.
What sayeth the Gardener?
Q: I was wondering if you could answer (or take the “fifth”) one teeny little question I’ve been dying to ask for the past year: Are Aegon and Rhaenys, Elia’s children, well and truly dead?
GRRM: All I have to say is that there is absolutely no doubt that little Princess Rhaenys was dragged from beneath her father’s bed and slain. https://www.westeros.org/Citadel/SSM/Entry/Elias_Children
The Author’s Seeds
In my travels around the Westeros.org forum and other fandom sites, one thing I have noticed is the somewhat common remark that Martin pulled fAegon from “nowhere”, that Aegon is fake and was never planned for from the beginning. Hence fAegon = fake Aegon.
Well, I have to respectfully disagree with this idea, and I am challenging the fAegon idea based on text evidence of GRRM re-using this “reborn” theme he used in Fevre Dream, just reworked and expanded to fit the current ASOIAF narrative. The outcome of both book scenario’s are both controlled chaos that will allow the villain/antagonist to come in and make things better. Illyrio and Varys want chaos in Westeros so Aegon would be received with open arms. We know that “the hand” is Eddard, who is working to make things straight both politically and across the land. That is why Varys and Illyrio want the hand dead.
In Fevre Dream , Daemon Julian and Sour Billy Tipton use the death of poor Jean as a way to both rid the ship of unwanted passengers and re-infest the ship with the “bad guy” vampires (specific text further below), something that also happens with Sweetrobin Arryn and his seizures. This next quote from Fevre Dream is a near mirror to the one between Illyrio and Varys that Arya overhears. It serves the purpose of explaining backstory, revealing a current and secret plan, people from across the sea thought to be dead but are not, that the pair have to work together, and then what each role will be. And this part of the narrative comes a full third of the way through the story in chapter 11 of 34 chapters. The other quote with the bait and switch head pounding comes in during chapter 18-19. The seed is strong, indeed. The quote is quite long, so I added just a few bits:
- Fevre Dream
“Abner,” York said, “I need you. I cannot run the Fevre Dream by myself. I am learning a little of piloting, and I’ve become somewhat more familiar with the river and its ways, but we both know I am no steamboatman. If you left, half of the crew would go with you. Mister Jeffers and Mister Blake and Hairy Mike for certain, and no doubt others. They are loyal to you.”
“I can order ’em to stay on with you,” Marsh offered.
“I would rather you stayed on. If I agree to overlook your trespass, can we continue as before?”
“I got to trust my partner,” Marsh said. “He’s got to trust me. You talk to me, Joshua, you tell me what all this is about, and you got yourself a partner.”
Joshua York grimaced, and sipped slowly at his drink, considering. “You will not believe me,” he said at last. “It is a more outlandish story than any of Mister Framm’s.”
“Try it out on me. Can’t do no harm.”
“Oh, but it can, Abner, it can.” York’s voice was serious. He put down his glass and went over to the bookcase. “When you searched,” he said, “did you look at my books?”
“Yes,” Marsh admitted.
York pulled out one of the untitled volumes in the leather bindings, returned to his chair, and opened it to a page full of crabbed characters. “Had you been able to read it,” he said, “this book and its companion volumes might have enlightened you.”
“I looked at it. Didn’t make no sense.”
“Of course not,” York said. “Abner, what I am about to tell you will be difficult for you to accept. Whether you accept it or not, however, it must not be repeated outside the confines of this cabin. Is that understood?”
York’s eyes wondered. “I want no mistake this time, Abner. Is that understood?”
“I said yes, Joshua,” Marsh grumbled, offended.
“Very well,” Joshua said. He put his finger on the page. “This code is a relatively simple cipher, Abner, but to break it you must first realize that the language involved is a primitive dialect of Russian, one that has not been spoken in some hundreds of years. The original papers transcribed in this volume were very, very old. They told the story of some people who lived and died in the area north of the Caspian Sea many centuries ago.” He paused. “Pardon. Not people. Russian is not among my best languages, but I believe the proper word is odoroten.”
“What?” said Marsh.
“That is only one term, of course. Other languages have other names. Krǔvnik, védomec, wieszczy. Vilkakis and vrkolák as well, although those two have somewhat different meanings from the others.”
“You’re talkin’ gibberish,” Marsh said, although some of the words Joshua was reciting did kind of ring familiar, and sounded vaguely like the gibble-gabble Smith and Brown were always spouting.
“I won’t give you the African names for them, then,” said Joshua, “or the Asian, or any of the others. Does nosferatu have meaning for you?”
Marsh regarded him blankly. Joshua York sighed. “How about vampire?”
Abner Marsh knew that one. “What kind of story you tryin’ to tell me?” he said gruffly.
“A vampire story,” said York with a sly smile.
This conversation that takes place in the bowels of the Red Keep between Lord Varys and Illyrio Mopatis that Arya overhears that shows there have been plans for some other Targaryen (of some dragon blood sort, at least) to be reborn on the shores of Westeros. This is a long term plan and they need more time because Aegon and the Golden Company are just not ready yet. The scene is quite long, so I will just add the pertinent portion for length.
- A Game of Thrones – Arya III
Huge stones had been set into the curving walls as steps, circling down and down, dark as the steps to hell that Old Nan used to tell them of. And something was coming up out of the darkness, out of the bowels of the earth …
Arya peered over the edge and felt the cold black breath on her face. Far below, she saw the light of a single torch, small as the flame of a candle. Two men, she made out. Their shadows writhed against the sides of the well, tall as giants. She could hear their voices, echoing up the shaft.
“… found one bastard,” one said. “The rest will come soon. A day, two days, a fortnight …”
“And when he learns the truth, what will he do?” a second voice asked in the liquid accents of the Free Cities.
“The gods alone know,” the first voice said. Arya could see a wisp of grey smoke drifting up off the torch, writhing like a snake as it rose. “The fools tried to kill his son, and what’s worse, they made a mummer’s farce of it. He’s not a man to put that aside. I warn you, the wolf and lion will soon be at each other’s throats, whether we will it or no.”
“Too soon, too soon,” the voice with the accent complained. “What good is war now? We are not ready. Delay.”
“As well bid me stop time. Do you take me for a wizard?”
The other chuckled. “No less.” Flames licked at the cold air. The tall shadows were almost on top of her. An instant later the man holding the torch climbed into her sight, his companion beside him. Arya crept back away from the well, dropped to her stomach, and flattened herself against the wall. She held her breath as the men reached the top of the steps.
“What would you have me do?” asked the torchbearer, a stout man in a leather half cape. Even in heavy boots, his feet seemed to glide soundlessly over the ground. A round scarred face and a stubble of dark beard showed under his steel cap, and he wore mail over boiled leather, and a dirk and shortsword at his belt. It seemed to Arya there was something oddly familiar about him.
“If one Hand can die, why not a second?” replied the man with the accent and the forked yellow beard. “You have danced the dance before, my friend.” He was no one Arya had ever seen before, she was certain of it. Grossly fat, yet he seemed to walk lightly, carrying his weight on the balls of his feet as a water dancer might. His rings glimmered in the torchlight, red-gold and pale silver, crusted with rubies, sapphires, slitted yellow tiger eyes. Every finger wore a ring; some had two.
“Before is not now, and this Hand is not the other,” the scarred man said as they stepped out into the hall. Still as stone, Arya told herself, quiet as a shadow. Blinded by the blaze of their own torch, they did not see her pressed flat against the stone, only a few feet away.
“Perhaps so,” the forked beard replied, pausing to catch his breath after the long climb. “Nonetheless, we must have time. The princess is with child. The khal will not bestir himself until his son is born. You know how they are, these savages.”
The man with the torch pushed at something. Arya heard a deep rumbling. A huge slab of rock, red in the torchlight, slid down out of the ceiling with a resounding crash that almost made her cry out. Where the entry to the well had been was nothing but stone, solid and unbroken.
“If he does not bestir himself soon, it may be too late,” the stout man in the steel cap said. “This is no longer a game for two players, if ever it was. Stannis Baratheon and Lysa Arryn have fled beyond my reach, and the whispers say they are gathering swords around them. The Knight of Flowers writes Highgarden, urging his lord father to send his sister to court. The girl is a maid of fourteen, sweet and beautiful and tractable, and Lord Renly and Ser Loras intend that Robert should bed her, wed her, and make a new queen. Littlefinger … the gods only know what game Littlefinger is playing. Yet Lord Stark’s the one who troubles my sleep. He has the bastard, he has the book, and soon enough he’ll have the truth. And now his wife has abducted Tyrion Lannister, thanks to Littlefinger’s meddling. Lord Tywin will take that for an outrage, and Jaime has a queer affection for the Imp. If the Lannisters move north, that will bring the Tullys in as well. Delay, you say. Make haste, I reply. Even the finest of jugglers cannot keep a hundred balls in the air forever.”
“You are more than a juggler, old friend. You are a true sorcerer. All I ask is that you work your magic awhile longer.” They started down the hall in the direction Arya had come, past the room with the monsters.
And the reveal of young Aegon to the Golden Company doesn’t quite go as planned. Basically, everyone already knows…
A Dance with Dragons – The Lost Lord
Does he know? Griff wondered. How much did Myles tell him? Varys had been adamant about the need for secrecy. The plans that he and Illyrio had made with Blackheart had been known to them alone. The rest of the company had been left ignorant. What they did not know they could not let slip.
That time was done, though. “No man could have asked for a worthier son,” Griff said, “but the lad is not of my blood, and his name is not Griff. My lords, I give you Aegon Targaryen, firstborn son of Rhaegar, Prince of Dragonstone, by Princess Elia of Dorne … soon, with your help, to be Aegon, the Sixth of His Name, King of Andals, the Rhoynar, and the First Men, and Lord of the Seven Kingdoms.”
Silence greeted his announcement. Someone cleared his throat. One of the Coles refilled his wine cup from the flagon. Gorys Edoryen played with one of his corkscrew ringlets and murmured something in a tongue Griff did not know. Laswell Peake coughed, Mandrake and Lothston exchanged a glance. They know, Griff realized then. They have known all along. He turned to look at Harry Strickland. “When did you tell them?”
“Which plan?” said Tristan Rivers. “The fat man’s plan? The one that changes every time the moon turns? First Viserys Targaryen was to join us with fifty thousand Dothraki screamers at his back. Then the Beggar King was dead, and it was to be the sister, a pliable young child queen who was on her way to Pentos with three new-hatched dragons. Instead the girl turns up on Slaver’s Bay and leaves a string of burning cities in her wake, and the fat man decides we should meet her by Volantis. Now that plan is in ruins as well.
“I have had enough of Illyrio’s plans. Robert Baratheon won the Iron Throne without the benefit of dragons. We can do the same. And if I am wrong and the realm does not rise for us, we can always retreat back across the narrow sea, as Bittersteel once did, and others after him.”
This also makes me think that Aegon is not a fake-Aegon, and is the son of Rhaegar and Elia Martell, as well as the baby that Daenerys sees in her House of the Undying vision. He is simply a pawn in the game of mind, a common theme across all of GRRM’s work.
- A Clash of Kings – Daenerys IV
Finally a great pair of bronze doors appeared to her left, grander than the rest. They swung open as she neared, and she had to stop and look. Beyond loomed a cavernous stone hall, the largest she had ever seen. The skulls of dead dragons looked down from its walls. Upon a towering barbed throne sat an old man in rich robes, an old man with dark eyes and long silver-grey hair. “Let him be king over charred bones and cooked meat,” he said to a man below him. “Let him be the king of ashes.” Drogon shrieked, his claws digging through silk and skin, but the king on his throne never heard, and Dany moved on.
Viserys, was her first thought the next time she paused, but a second glance told her otherwise. The man had her brother’s hair, but he was taller, and his eyes were a dark indigo rather than lilac. “Aegon,” he said to a woman nursing a newborn babe in a great wooden bed. “What better name for a king?”
“Will you make a song for him?” the woman [Elia Martell] asked.
“He has a song,” the man replied. “He is the prince that was promised, and his is the song of ice and fire.” He looked up when he said it and his eyes met Dany’s, and it seemed as if he saw her standing there beyond the door. “There must be one more,” he said, though whether he was speaking to her or the woman in the bed she could not say. “The dragon has three heads.” He went to the window seat, picked up a harp, and ran his fingers lightly over its silvery strings. Sweet sadness filled the room as man and wife and babe faded like the morning mist, only the music lingering behind to speed her on her way.
We readers will get that second Dance of Dragons, which will incorporate a Blackfyre issue as well, however, this will come to page after the war for dawn once society has to reconfigure itself. History repeats, but with a twist.
As much as I love, love, love the Blackfyre angle and history and funess, I speculate Aegon might be real. Aegon/Young Griff is still the mummer’s dragon that Daenerys will slay to bring her to what she says she deserves (the iron throne), or because Aegon will betray Daenerys’ love for him to choose Arianne instead. This seems to be set up by the author in many places, Daenerys being the earthly representation of the fire god/dess for one, but this quote here always pops back in to my mind:
- A Dance with Dragons – Tyrion VIII
“Our captain would prefer to be fifty leagues farther out to sea, well away from that accursed shore, but I have commanded him to steer the shortest course. Others seek Daenerys too.”
Griff, with his young prince. Could all that talk of the Golden Company sailing west have been a feint? Tyrion considered saying something, then thought better. It seemed to him that the prophecy that drove the red priests had room for just one hero. A second Targaryen would only serve to confuse them. “Have you seen these others in your fires?” he asked, warily.
“Only their shadows,” Moqorro said. “One most of all. A tall and twisted thing with one black eye and ten long arms, sailing on a sea of blood.”
Back in 2005, George did a reading of the Tyrion II chapter before A Dance with Dragons was released, and as he read he realized that there was too much obvious information that he needed to edit before the book was published. That information was three words Tyrion recognized out of a stream of Valyrian he did not understand. What are those three words?
queen, dragon, and sword
The sword bit has been removed from any publishing as of this post date. There is lengthy post [archived] over at Westeros.org that has the details on this chapter. Please feel free to read it in full here. The key bit of information that pertains to this post follows:
Illyrio says he wants to give Young Griff his blessings and has a gift for him in the chests. Haldon tells him there is no time for the litter. Illyrio gets angry and says there are things Griff must know. The Golden Company has broken its contact with Myr and is riding west from the Disputed Lands. Haldon interrupts him by saying they already know this because Bennaro has seen it in his fires and that the Golden Company makes for Volantis. That is why Griff needs them to make haste. Illyrio says, “The dragon has three heads, there is no need for haste.
Haldon says Griff believes there is need for haste. Haldon eyes Tyrion and then begins to speak in another language. Tyrion cannot tell what it is but think it might be Volantene. He catches a few words that come close to High Valyrian. The words he catches are, queen, dragon, and sword.
And what sword could this have been? Most likely Blackfyre. This means Aegon is coming back to Westeros with the symbolic sword of Aegon the conqueror, and most likely people will cheer and accept him as true… until problems arise when Arrianne then Daenerys show up.
Additionally, as of this writing, Martin has made a statement that the other sword Dark Sister, first wielded by Queen Visenya, and then Brynden Bloodraven Rivers, was indeed taken by Bloodraven to the Wall during his trip north as Lord Commander. Very cool implications with this!
Bloodwater is thicker than Pisswater
Part of the fandom theories to support that Aegon is who he claims to be, and supports the pisswater prince idea that Tyrion mentions while goading Aegon into a game of Cyvasse. Well, that is exactly what we are witnessing happen in the story Fevre Dream. A switcharoo with a “pisswater prince” named Jean (poor Jean)… which is a bit ironic as the story Fevre Dream takes place on the waters of the Mississippi River.
- A Dance with Dragons – Tyrion II
Ghoyan Drohe had been a Rhoynar city, until the dragons of Valyria had reduced it to a smoldering desolation. I am traveling through years as well as leagues, Tyrion reflected, back through history to the days when dragons ruled the earth.
Tyrion slept and woke and slept again, and day and night seemed not to matter. The Velvet Hills proved a disappointment. “Half the whores in Lannisport have breasts bigger than these hills,” he told Illyrio. “You ought to call them the Velvet Teats.” They saw a circle of standing stones that Illyrio claimed had been raised by giants, and later a deep lake. “Here lived a den of robbers who preyed on all who passed this way,” Illyrio said. “It is said they still dwell beneath the water. Those who fish the lake are pulled under and devoured.” The next evening they came upon a huge Valyrian sphinx crouched beside the road. It had a dragon’s body and a woman’s face.
- A Dance with Dragons – Tyrion VI
“A true friend, our Lord Connington. He must be, to remain so fiercely loyal to the grandson of the king who took his lands and titles and sent him into exile. A pity about that. Elsewise Prince Rhaegar’s friend might have been on hand when my father sacked King’s Landing, to save Prince Rhaegar’s precious little son from getting his royal brains dashed out against a wall.”
The lad [Aegon] flushed. “That was not me. I told you. That was some tanner’s son from Pisswater Bend whose mother died birthing him. His father sold him to Lord Varys for a jug of Arbor gold. He had other sons but had never tasted Arbor gold. Varys gave the Pisswater boy to my lady mother and carried me away.”
“Aye.” Tyrion moved his elephants. “And when the pisswater prince was safely dead, the eunuch smuggled you across the narrow sea to his fat friend the cheesemonger, who hid you on a poleboat and found an exile lord willing to call himself your father. It does make for a splendid story, and the singers will make much of your escape once you take the Iron Throne … assuming that our fair Daenerys takes you for her consort.”
The Jumpy Hare
One of my biggest finds of the series is that Jon and Val are acting together as the new Nymeria Warrior Princess of history. Two together makes a unit stronger. This realization about Jon and Val put many things in to new light when you go back and re-read the histories of Dorne, the Rhoyne, and Nymeria and her 10,000 ships.
In many cultures and beliefs across the world, the turtle is the symbol for longevity, which brings wisdom, and carving your path. Plus, there is the idiom from the Tortoise and the Hare of Aesop’s fable stating “slow and steady wins the race”. Aegon VI behaves as the impatient hare that jumps and then burns out, while Jon Snow is a slower plodder that plans for a bigger future.
Then we get to Tyrion in a Dance with Dragons, who has a time trip as he sails down the Rhoyne on the Shy Maid where Aegon VI is revealed along with discovering the turtle river gods. This whole time trip experience is Martin calling back to his stories Fevre Dream, Under Siege, and For a Single Yesterday. However, what we have in ASOIAF is this; while the ending comment of “birth of kings” does relate to Aegon VI in the immediate picture, the meta-puropse of the entire scene is about Jon Snow (and Val reenacting Nymeria). Tyrion is just the “Great Other” in this instince and he is playing the game of mind with Aegon, head games, and Tyrion is witty enough to be a headmaster:
- A Dance with Dragons – Tyrion IV
When Lemore climbed back onto the deck, Tyrion savored the sight of water trickling between her breasts, her smooth skin glowing golden in the morning light. She was past forty, more handsome than pretty, but still easy on the eye. Being randy is the next best thing to being drunk, he decided. It made him feel as if he was still alive. “Did you see the turtle, Hugor?” the septa asked him, wringing water from her hair. “The big ridgeback?”
The early morning was the best time for seeing turtles. During the day they would swim down deep, or hide in cuts along the banks, but when the sun was newly risen they came to the surface. Some liked to swim beside the boat. Tyrion had glimpsed a dozen different sorts: large turtles and small ones, flatbacks and red-ears, softshells and bonesnappers, brown turtles, green turtles, black turtles, clawed turtles and horned turtles, turtles whose ridged and patterned shells were covered with whorls of gold and jade and cream. Some were so large they could have borne a man upon their backs. Yandry swore the Rhoynar princes used to ride them across the river. He and his wife were Greenblood born, a pair of Dornish orphans come home to Mother Rhoyne.
“I missed the ridgeback.” I was watching the naked woman.
“I am sad for you.” Lemore slipped her robe over her head. “I know you only rise so early in hopes of seeing turtles.”
“I like to watch the sun come up as well.” It was like watching a maiden rising naked from her bath. Some might be prettier than others, but every one was full of promise. “The turtles have their charms, I will allow. Nothing delights me so much as the sight of a nice pair of shapely … shells.”
Septa Lemore laughed. Like everyone else aboard the Shy Maid, she had her secrets. She was welcome to them. I do not want to know her, I only want to fuck her. She knew it too. As she hung her septa’s crystal about her neck, to nestle in the cleft between her breasts, she teased him with a smile.
I shall, the dwarf was thinking, when he spied a rippling ahead not six yards from the boat. He was about to point it out to Lemore when it came to the surface with a wash of water that rocked the Shy Maid sideways.
It was another turtle, a horned turtle of enormous size, its dark green shell mottled with brown and overgrown with water moss and crusty black river molluscs. It raised its head and bellowed, a deep-throated thrumming roar louder than any warhorn that Tyrion had ever heard. “We are blessed,” Ysilla was crying loudly, as tears streamed down her face. “We are blessed, we are blessed.”
Duck was hooting, and Young Griff too. Haldon came out on deck to learn the cause of the commotion … but too late. The giant turtle had vanished below the water once again. “What was the cause of all that noise?” the Halfmaester asked.
“A turtle,” said Tyrion. “A turtle bigger than this boat.”
“It was him,” cried Yandry. “The Old Man of the River.”
And why not? Tyrion grinned. Gods and wonders always appear, to attend the birth of kings.
And history repeats… And Aegon is coming back to Westeros as the river of time rewinds and repeats:
- A Dance with Dragons – Tyrion V
Tyrion saw it too. Kingfisher, or another poleboat, he told himself, but somehow he knew that was not right. His nose itched. He scratched at it savagely. The light grew brighter as the Shy Maid approached it. A soft star in the distance, it glimmered faintly through the fog, beckoning them on. Shortly it became two lights, then three: a ragged row of beacons rising from the water.
“The Bridge of Dream,” Griff named it. “There will be stone men on the span. Some may start to wail at our approach, but they are not like to molest us. Most stone men are feeble creatures, clumsy, lumbering, witless. Near the end they all go mad, but that is when they are most dangerous. If need be, fend them off with the torches. On no account let them touch you.”
“Why,” said Tyrion, “if the stone men had taken Yandry or Griff or our lovely Lemore, we would have grieved for them and gone on. Lose you, and this whole enterprise is undone, and all those years of feverish plotting by the cheesemonger and the eunuch will have been for naught … isn’t that so?”
The boy looked to Griff. “He knows who I am.”
If I did not know before, I would now. By then the Shy Maid was well downstream of the Bridge of Dream. All that remained was a dwindling light astern, and soon enough that would be gone as well. “You’re Young Griff, son of Griff the sellsword,” said Tyrion. “Or perhaps you are the Warrior in mortal guise. Let me take a closer look.” He held up his torch, so that the light washed over Young Griff’s face.
“Leave off,” Griff commanded, “or you will wish you had.”
“Kingfisher,” said Griff. “Her, or some other like her.” But he drew his sword again.
No one said a word. The Shy Maid moved with the current. Her sail had not been raised since she first entered the Sorrows. She had no way to move but with the river. Duck stood squinting, clutching his pole with both hands. After a time even Yandry stopped pushing. Every eye was on the distant light. As they grew closer, it turned into two lights. Then three.
“The Bridge of Dream,” said Tyrion.
However, we have Bloodraven to help explain it all away… kinda… What we do know is that history repeats.
- A Dance with Dragons – Bran III
“A man must know how to look before he can hope to see,” said Lord Brynden. “Those were shadows of days past that you saw, Bran. You were looking through the eyes of the heart tree in your godswood. Time is different for a tree than for a man. Sun and soil and water, these are the things a weirwood understands, not days and years and centuries. For men, time is a river. We are trapped in its flow, hurtling from past to present, always in the same direction. The lives of trees are different. They root and grow and die in one place, and that river does not move them. The oak is the acorn, the acorn is the oak. And the weirwood … a thousand human years are a moment to a weirwood, and through such gates you and I may gaze into the past.”
Yes, of course GRRM can rework any of his ideas any way he sees fit, but so far in ASOIAF we don’t see too much of that happening; just small tweaks to fit a larger narrative with more literary room. In this case the way this plot point was reworked and was made possible is because of the love Jon Connington had for Prince Rhaegar. Jon wants a chance to do right to make up for lost times.
- A Dance with Dragons – The Lost Lord – Jon Connington
Seventeen years had come and gone since the Battle of the Bells, yet the sound of bells ringing still tied a knot in his guts. Others might claim that the realm was lost when Prince Rhaegar fell to Robert’s warhammer on the Trident, but the Battle of the Trident would never have been fought if the griffin had only slain the stag there in Stoney Sept. The bells tolled for all of us that day. For Aerys and his queen, for Elia of Dorne and her little daughter, for every true man and honest woman in the Seven Kingdoms. And for my silver prince.
Just a forewarning, don’t let the surname Marsh fool you. In the story Fevre Dream, Abner Marsh is almost identical in personality to Davos Seaworth and is a “good guy”. The main protagonist whom Abner partners with is named Joshua/Josh York, and is clearly a Jon-type… all the way down to the blue, white, and grey color combo, his large white ship, and the smoke stack looking like a crown of flowers, mother dying in childbirth, his love for Valerie, his lack of desire to submit to bloodlust (the red thirst), etc, etc, etc. Bowen Marsh has a tiny skosh of Abner Marsh in him, but mainly restricted to the bean-counter side of Bowen, and probably the crying at the mutiny.
The antagonist in this story, Damon Julian, follows along the basic fiery-dragon villain that GRRM has used time and again in his stories. I touched on it in the Daenerys posts.
Compare these details in ASOIAF to what we read in Fevre Dream (below).
- A Dance with Dragons – Epilogue – Kevan Lannister
“A feigned boy is what he has,” said Randyll Tarly.
“That may be. Or not.” Kevan Lannister had been here, in this very hall when Tywin had laid the bodies of Prince Rhaegar’s children at the foot of the Iron Throne, wrapped up in crimson cloaks. The girl had been recognizably the Princess Rhaenys, but the boy … a faceless horror of bone and brain and gore, a few hanks of fair hair. None of us looked long. Tywin said that it was Prince Aegon, and we took him at his word. “We have these tales coming from the east as well. A second Targaryen, and one whose blood no man can question. Daenerys Stormborn.”
“As mad as her father,” declared Lord Mace Tyrell.
- The Winds of Winter – Arianne I
“What I will you will not, it seems. So be it. Talk with me instead. Could this truly be Prince Aegon?”
“Gregor Clegane ripped Aegon out of Elia’s arms and smashed his head against a wall,” Ser Daemon said. “If Lord Connington’s prince has a crushed skull, I will believe that Aegon Targaryen has returned from the grave. Elsewise, no. This is some feigned boy, no more. A sellsword’s ploy to win support.”
My father fears the same. “If not, though… if this truly is Jon Connington, if the boy is Rhaegar’s son… “
Fiery Dragon Baby Origins
And the origins of the baby swap has been right there out in the open since 1982, in a story that takes place almost entirely on river boats and the rivers of the south. The story Fevre Dream is almost entirely about a kerfuffle on the river that will be Jon+Bran and Daenerys, a battle of the darkling minds, but there are small seeds like this that give rise to other plot points in ASOIAF. This reoccurs throughout this story as with all of GRRM’s literary world.
- Fevre Dream– as Damon takes mind control over Josh York and the description of Damon as like a tall red-eyed animal is like the visions others have of Euron.
“There is an easier way to quiet him,” Julian said. He took his own hard pale hand and clamped it down across the child’s mouth. The hand enveloped the small brown head completely, and stifled all sound. Julian began to squeeze.
“Release him!” shouted York.
“Look at me,” said Julian. “Look at me, bloodmaster.”
Abner Marsh blinked, and there across the table from him was an animal, a tall handsome animal in burgundy, and there was nothing the least bit human about it, and the lines of its face were the lines of terror, and its eyes—its eyes were red, not black at all, red, and lit from within, and red, burning, thirsting, red.
Joshua York released the infant’s stump. A sudden pent-up wash of blood spurted feebly out across the table. An instant later a sound like a terrible wet crunch filled the saloon.
- Fevre Dream
CHAPTER EIGHTEEN (cutting in at the end of Ch 18)
“You ’member what I told you,” he whispered to the mate. “Quick and quiet. One hit.”
Hairy Mike nodded, and Marsh turned the key. The door clicked open, and Marsh pushed.
It was close and dark inside, everything curtained and shuttered the way the night folks liked their rooms, but they saw a pale form sprawled beneath the sheet by the light that spilled in from the door. They slid through, moving as quietly as two big, noisy men could move, and then Marsh was closing the door behind them and Hairy Mike Dunne was moving forward, raising his three-foot-long black iron billet high over his head, and dimly Marsh saw the thing in the bed stir, rolling over toward the noise, toward the light, and Hairy Mike was there in two long quick strides, all so fast, and the iron fell in a terrible arc at the end of his huge arm, fell and fell toward that dim pale head and it seemed to take forever.
Then the cabin door shut completely, the last thread of light snapped, and in the blind pitch darkness Abner Marsh heard a sound like a piece of meat being slapped down on a butcher’s counter, and under that was another sound, like an eggshell breaking, and Marsh held his breath.
The cabin was very still, and Marsh could not see a thing. From the darkness came a low, throaty chuckle. A cold sweat covered Marsh’s body. “Mike,” he whispered. He fumbled for a match.
“Yessuh, Cap’n,” came the mate’s voice. “One hit, thass all.” He chuckled again.
Abner Marsh scratched the match on the wall, and blinked. Hairy Mike was standing over the bed, his iron in hand. The business end was smeared and wet. The thing beneath the sheet had a staved-in red ruin for a face. Half the top of its skull had been taken away, and a slow trickle of blood was soaking into the sheet. Bits of hair and other dark stuff were spattered on the pillow and the wall and Hairy Mike’s clothes. “Is he dead?” Marsh asked, suddenly and wildly suspicious that the smashed-in head would begin to knit itself together, and the pale corpse would rise and smile at them.
“I ain’t never seen nuthin’ deader,” said Hairy Mike.
“Make sure,” Abner Marsh ordered. “Make damn sure.”
Hairy Mike Dunne shrugged a big, slow shrug, and raised his bloody iron and brought it down again onto skull and pillow. A second time. A third. A fourth. When it was over, the thing hardly could be said to have a head at all. Hairy Mike Dunne was an awful strong man.
The match burned Marsh’s fingers. He blew it out. “Let’s go,” he said harshly.
“What’ll we do with him?” Hairy Mike asked.
Marsh pulled open the cabin door. The sun and the river were before him, a blessed relief. “Leave him there,” he said. “In the dark. Come nightfall, we’ll chuck him in the river.” The mate followed Marsh outside, and he locked the door behind him. He felt sick. He leaned his ample bulk up against the boiler deck railing, and struggled to keep from heaving over the side. Blood-sucker or not, what they’d gone and done to Damon Julian was terrible to behold.
“Need help, Cap’n?”
“No,” said Marsh. He straightened himself with an effort. The morning was already hot, the yellow sun above beating down on the river with an almighty vengeance. Marsh was drenched with sweat. “I ain’t had much sleep,” he said. He forced a laugh. “I ain’t had none, in fact. It takes a bit out of a man, too, what we just done.” Hairy Mike shrugged. It hadn’t taken much out of him, it seemed. “Go sleep,” he said. “No,” said Marsh. “Can’t. Got to go see Joshua, tell him what we done. He’s got to know, so he’ll be ready to deal with them others.” All of a sudden Abner Marsh found himself wondering just how Joshua York would react to the brutal murder of one of his people. After last night, he couldn’t think Joshua would be too bothered, but he wasn’t sure—he didn’t really know the night folks and how they thought, and if Julian had been a baby-killer and a blood-sucker, well, the rest of them had done things near as bad, even Joshua. And Damon Julian had been Joshua’s bloodmaster too, the king of the vampires. If you kill a man’s king—even a king he hates—ain’t he obliged to do something about it? Abner Marsh remembered the cold force of Joshua’s anger, and with that memory found himself none too eager to go rushing on up to the captain’s cabin on the texas, especially now, when Joshua would be at his worst once roused. “Maybe I can wait,” Marsh found himself saying. “Sleep a little.”
Hairy Mike nodded.
“I got to get to Joshua first, though,” Marsh said. He really was feeling sick, he thought: nauseated, feverish, weary. He had to go lie down for a couple hours. “Can’t let him get up.” He licked his lips, which were dry as sandpaper. “You go talk to Jeffers, tell him how it come out, and one of you come and fetch me before sunset. Well before, you hear? Give me at least an hour to go on up and speak to Joshua. I’ll wake him up and tell him, and then when it gets dark he’ll know how to handle the other night folks. And you … you have one of your boys keep a sharp eye on Sour Billy … we’re goin’ to have to deal with him, too.”
Hairy Mike smiled. “Let the river deal with him.”
“Maybe we will,” said Marsh. “Maybe. I’m going to go rest now, but make sure I’m up before dark. Don’t you go let it get dark on me, you understand?”
So Abner Marsh climbed wearily up to the texas, feeling sicker and more tired with every step. Standing at the door of his own cabin, he felt a sudden stab of fear—what if one of them should be inside after all, despite what Mister Jeffers had said? But when he threw the door open and let the light come pouring into the room, it was empty. Marsh staggered in, drew the curtains back and opened the window to let in as much light and air as possible, locked the door, and sat heavily on the bed to remove his sweat-soaked clothing. He didn’t even bother with a nightshirt. The cabin was stifling, but Marsh was too exhausted to notice. Sleep took him almost at once.
CHAPTER NINETEEN Aboard the Steamer Fevre Dream, Mississippi River, August 1857
The sharp, insistent rapping on his cabin door finally summoned Abner Marsh back from his deep, dreamless sleep. He stirred groggily and sat up in bed. “A minute!” he shouted. He lumbered over to his basin like a big naked bear just out of hibernation, and none too happy about it. It wasn’t until Marsh had splashed some water on his face that he remembered. “Goddamn it all to hell!” he swore angrily, staring at the gray shadows gathering in every corner of the small dim cabin. Beyond the window, the sky was dark and purple. “Goddamn,” he repeated, pulling on a pair of clean trousers. He stomped over and yanked open the door. “What the hell is the meaning of lettin’ me sleep so long?” Marsh shouted at Jonathon Jeffers. “I told Hairy Mike to wake me a whole goddamn hour before sunset, damnit.”
“It is an hour before sunset,” Jeffers said. “It clouded up, that’s why it looks so dark. Mister Albright says we’re going to get another thunderstorm.” The clerk stepped into Marsh’s cabin and shut the door behind him. “I brought you this,” he said, handing over a hickory walking stick. “I found it in the main cabin, Cap’n.” Marsh took the stick, mollified. “I lost it last night,” he said. “Had other things on my mind.” He leaned the stick up against the wall and glanced out the window again, frowning. Beyond the river, the whole western horizon was a mass of threatening clouds moving their way, like a vast wall of darkness about to collapse on them. The setting sun was nowhere to be seen. He didn’t like it one bit. “I better get on up to Joshua,” he said, pulling out a shirt and commencing the business of getting dressed.
Jeffers leaned on his sword cane. “Shall I accompany you?” he asked.
“I ought to talk to Joshua by myself,” Marsh said, tying his tie with an eye on the mirror. “I don’t relish it though. Why don’t you come on up and wait outside. Maybe Joshua will want to call you in and talk about what we’re goin’ to do.” Left unspoken was the other reason that Marsh wanted the clerk close at hand—maybe he’d want to call him in, if Joshua York didn’t take kindly to the news of Damon Julian’s demise.
“Fine,” said Jeffers.
Marsh shrugged into his captain’s coat and snatched up his stick. “Let’s go then, Mister Jeffers. It’s too damn dark already.”
The Fevre Dream was steaming along briskly, her flags snapping and swirling in a strong wind, dark smoke pouring from her chimneys. Under the scant light of the strange purple sky, the waters of the Mississippi looked almost black. Marsh grimaced and strode forward briskly to Joshua York’s cabin, Jeffers at his side. This time he did not hesitate at the door; he raised his stick and knocked. On the third knock he called out, “Joshua, let me in. We got to talk.” On the fifth knock the door opened, moving slowly inward to reveal a soft still blackness. “Wait for me,” Marsh said to Jeffers. He stepped into the cabin and closed the door. “Don’t get mad now, Joshua,” he said to the dark, with a tight feeling in his gut. “I wouldn’t bother you, but this is important and it’s almost night anyhow.” There was no reply, though Marsh heard the sound of breathing. “Goddamnit,” he said, “why do we always have to talk in the dark, Joshua? It makes me damn uncomfortable.” He frowned. “Light a candle, will you?”
“No.” The voice was curt, low, liquid. And it was not Joshua’s.
Abner Marsh took a step backward. “Oh Jesus God, no,” he said, and there was a rustling sound even as his shaking hand found the door behind him and threw it open. He opened it wide and by now his eyes had accustomed themselves to the darkness, and even the purplish glow of the storm-laden sky was enough to give brief form to the shadows within the captain’s cabin. He saw Joshua York sprawled on his bed, pale and naked, his eyes closed, one arm hanging down to the floor, and on his wrist was something that looked like a terrible dark bruise, or a crust of dried blood. And he saw Damon Julian moving toward him, swift as death, smiling. “We killed you,” Marsh roared, disbelieving, and he stumbled backward out of the cabin, tripped, and fell practically at Jonathon Jeffers’ feet.
Julian stopped in the doorway. A thin dark line—hardly more than a cat scratch—ran down his cheek where Marsh had opened a yawning gash the night before. Otherwise he was unmarked. He had taken off his jacket and vest, and his ruffled silk shirt was without stain or blemish. “Come in, Captain,” Julian said quietly. “Don’t run away. Come in and talk.”
“You’re dead. Mike bashed your goddamn head to pieces,” Marsh said, choking on his own words. He did not look at Julian’s eyes. It was still day, he thought, he was safe outside, beyond Julian’s reach until the sun went down, so long as he did not look in those eyes, so long as he did not go back into that cabin.
“Dead?” Julian smiled. “Ah. The other cabin. Poor Jean. He wanted so to believe Joshua, and see what you have done to him. Smashed his head in, did you say?”
Abner Marsh climbed to his feet. “You changed cabins,” he said hoarsely. “You damn devil. You made him sleep in your bed.”
“Joshua and I had so much to discuss,” Julian replied. He made a beckoning gesture…
Compare to Euron”Damon Julian” Greyjoy, both of whom want to overthrow all gods and be the reigning Lord Commander supreme. This is written to read that Euron physically crushed the skull of his brother little Robin. But we know Euron drinks his vile blue liquid and uses mind games with his victims:
- The Winds of Winter – The Forsaken
“And yet I wear a crown and you rot in chains. How is it that your Drowned God allows that when I have killed three brothers?”
Aeron could only gape at him. “Three?”
“Well, if you count half-brothers. Do you remember little Robin? Wretched creature. Do you remember that big head of his, how soft it was? All he could do was mewl and shit. He was my second. Harlon was my first. All I had to do was pinch his nose shut. The greyscale had turned his mouth to stone so he could not cry out. But his eyes grew frantic as he died. They begged me. When the life went out of them, I went out and pissed into the sea, waiting for the god to strike me down. None did. Oh, and Balon was the third, but you knew that. I could not do the deed myself, but it was my hand that pushed him off the bridge.”
Compare to Tyrion’s adventure with the discovery of fire-dragon Aegon:
- A Dance with Dragons – Tyrion VIII
Finally he gave it up and made his way up top for a breath of night air. The Selaesori Qhoran had furled her big striped sail for the night, and her decks were all but deserted. One of the mates was on the sterncastle, and amidships Moqorro sat by his brazier, where a few small flames still danced amongst the embers.
Only the brightest stars were visible, all to the west. A dull red glow lit the sky to the northeast, the color of a blood bruise. Tyrion had never seen a bigger moon. Monstrous, swollen, it looked as if it had swallowed the sun and woken with a fever. Its twin, floating on the sea beyond the ship, shimmered red with every wave. “What hour is this?” he asked Moqorro. “That cannot be sunrise unless the east has moved. Why is the sky red?”
“The sky is always red above Valyria, Hugor Hill.”
- A Game of Thrones – Daenerys III
Silvery-wet hair tumbled across her eyes as Dany turned her head, curious. “The moon?”
“He told me the moon was an egg, Khaleesi,” the Lysene girl said. “Once there were two moons in the sky, but one wandered too close to the sun and cracked from the heat. A thousand thousand dragons poured forth, and drank the fire of the sun. That is why dragons breathe flame. One day the other moon will kiss the sun too, and then it will crack and the dragons will return.”
So, if dragons drink the fire from the sun, does that mean they actually cause darkness? As written in the stories above, the sun repeatedly seems to have an eternal issue with being “blotted out”.
Under Siege… under sea?
From Goodreads: It’s up to the last of six killer geeks to change history and prevent war between the Soviet Union and America. The trick is for the time traveler to do so while preserving the life of his host.
This first passage really shows the comparison to the A Dance with Dragons – Tyrion VI chapter where Tyrion squares off against Aegon VI. Hmmm, are the chapter number VI and Aegon being the VI a coincidence?
The second passage below shows how incredibly similar to A Dance with Dragons – Tyrion V chapter where he falls in the river and almost drowns during the stone men attack. The main character timerides when he is immersed in this water/fluid filled mashine while hooked up to wires and hoses. Very umbilical-like.
- Under Siege
…his mind had often been taken by such whimsies.
Anttonen turned his face into the wind again, welcoming the chill, the numbing cold. He wanted it to cool his fury, to cut into the heart of him and freeze the passions that seethed there. He wanted to be numb. The cold had turned even the turbulent sea into still and silent ice; now let it conquer the turbulence within Bengt Anttonen. He opened his mouth, exhaled a long plume of breath that rose from his reddened cheeks like steam, inhaled a draught of frigid air that went down like liquid oxygen.
But panic came in the wake of that thought. Again, it was happening again. What was liquid oxygen? Cold, he knew somehow; colder than the ice, colder than this wind. Liquid oxygen was bitter and white, and it steamed and flowed. He knew it, knew it as certainly as he knew his own name. But how?
Anttonen turned from the ramparts. He walked with long swift strides, his hand touching the hilt of his sword as if it could provide some protection against the demons that had invaded his mind. The other officers were right; he was going mad, surely. He had proved it this afternoon at the staff meeting.
The meeting had gone very badly, as they all had of late. As always, Anttonen had raised his voice against the others, hopelessly, stupidly. He was right, he knew that. Yet he knew also that he could not convince them, and that each word further undermined his status, further damaged his career.
Jägerhorn had brought it on once again. Colonel F. A. Jägerhorn was everything that Anttonen was not; dark and handsome, polished and politic, an aristocrat with an aristocrat’s control. Jägerhorn had important connections, had influential relatives, had a charmed career. And, most importantly, Jägerhorn had the confidence of Vice-Admiral Carl Olof Cronstedt, commandant of Sveaborg.
At the meeting, Jägerhorn had had a sheaf of reports. “The reports are wrong,” Anttonen had insisted. “The Russians do not outnumber us. And they have barely forty guns, sir. Sveaborg mounts ten times that number.”
Cronstedt seemed shocked by Anttonen’s tone, his certainty, his insistence. Jägerhorn simply smiled. “Might I ask how you come by this intelligence, Colonel Anttonen?” he asked.
That was the question Bengt Anttonen could never answer. “I know,” he said stubbornly.
Jägerhorn rattled the papers in his hand. “My own intelligence comes from Lieutenant Klick, who is in Helsinki and has direct access to reliable reports of enemy plans, movements, and numbers.” He looked to Vice-Admiral Cronstedt. “I submit, sir, that this information is a good deal more reliable than Colonel Anttonen’s mysterious certainties. According to Klick, the Russians outnumber us already, and General Suchtelen will soon be receiving sufficient reinforcements to enable him to launch a major assault. Furthermore, they have a formidable amount of artillery on hand. Certainly more than the forty pieces that Colonel Anttonen would have us believe to be the extent of their armament.”
Cronstedt was nodding, agreeing. Even then Anttonen could not be silent. “Sir,” he insisted, “Klick’s reports must be discounted. The man cannot be trusted. Either he is in the pay of the enemy or they are deluding him.”
Cronstedt frowned. “That is a grave charge, Colonel.”
“Klick is a fool and a damned Anjala traitor!”
Jägerhorn bristled at that, and Cronstedt and a number of junior officers looked plainly aghast. “Colonel,” the commandant said, “it is well known that Colonel Jägerhorn has relatives in the Anjala League. Your comments are offensive. Our situation here is perilous enough without my officers fighting among themselves over petty political differences. You will offer an apology at once.”
Given no choice, Anttonen had tendered an awkward apology. Jägerhorn accepted with a patronizing nod.
Cronstedt went back to the papers. “Very persuasive,” he said, “and very alarming. It is as I have feared. We have come to a hard place.” Plainly his mind was made up. It was futile to argue further. It was at times like this that Bengt Anttonen most wondered what madness had possessed him. He would go to staff meetings determined to be circumspect and politic, and no sooner would he be seated than a strange arrogance would seize him. He argued long past the point of wisdom; he denied obvious facts, confirmed in written reports from reliable sources; he spoke out of turn and made enemies on every side.
“No, sir,” he said, “I beg of you, disregard Klick’s intelligence. Sveaborg is vital to the spring counteroffensive. We have nothing to fear if we can hold out until the ice melts. Once the sea lanes are open, Sweden will send help.”
Vice-Admiral Cronstedt’s face was drawn and weary, an old man’s face. “How many times must we go over this? I grow tired of your argumentative attitude, and I am quite aware of Sveaborg’s importance to the spring offensive. The facts are plain. Our defenses are flawed, and the ice makes our walls accessible from all sides. Sweden’s armies are being routed—”
“We know that only from the newspapers the Russians allow us, sir,” Anttonen blurted. “French and Russian papers. Such news is unreliable.”
Cronstedt’s patience was exhausted. “Quiet!” he said, slapping the table with an open palm. “I have had enough of your intransigence, Colonel Anttonen. I respect your patriotic fervor, but not your judgment. In the future, when I require your opinion, I shall ask for it. Is that clear?”
“Yes, sir,” Anttonen had said.
- … before the awareness is always the pain, and the pain comes first, the only reality in a still quiet empty world beyond sensation. For a second, an hour I do not know where I am and I am afraid. And then the knowledge comes to me; returning, I am returning, in the return is always pain, I do not want to return, but I must. I want the sweet clean purity of ice and snow, the bracing touch of the winter wind, the healthy lines of Bengt’s face. But it fades, fades though I scream and clutch for it, crying, wailing. It fades, fades, and then is gone.
I sense motion, a stirring all around me as the immersion fluid ebbs away. My face is exposed first. I suck in air through my wide nostrils, spit the tubes out of my bleeding mouth. When the fluid falls below my ears, I hear a gurgling, a greedy sucking sound. The vampire machines feed on the juices of my womb, the black blood of my second life. The cold touch of air on my skin pains me. I try not to scream, manage to hold the noise down to a whimper.
Above, the top of my tank is coated by a thin ebony film that has clung to the polished metal. I can see my reflection. I’m a stirring sight, nostril hairs aquiver on my noseless face, my right cheek bulging with a swollen greenish tumor. Such a handsome devil. I smile, showing a triple row of rotten teeth, fresh new incisors pushing up among them like sharpened stakes in a field of yellow toadstools. I wait for release. The tank is too damned small, a coffin. I am buried alive, and the fear is a palpable weight upon me. They do not like me. What if they just leave me in here to suffocate and die? “Out!” I whisper, but no one hears.
Finally the lid lifts and the orderlies are there. Rafael and Slim. Big strapping fellows, blurred white colossi with flags sewn above the pockets of their uniforms. I cannot focus on their faces. My eyes are not so good at the best of times, and especially bad just after a return. I know the dark one is Rafe, though, and it is he who reaches down and unhooks the IV tubes and the telemetry, while Slim gives me my injection. Ahhh. Good. The hurt fades. I force my hands to grasp the sides of the tank. The metal feels strange; the motion is clumsy, deliberate, my body slow to respond. “What took you so long?” I ask.
All of this seems to really add up to Aegon VI being that of his name and in keeping with the author’s writing and plot style. I know there are many in the fandom who already believe this, I just wanted to add some text proof to support such idea that George RR Martin hast his wildcard up his sleeve.
The time travel story the has a central theme of a game being played across time. The story takes place at the antagonists, Bunnish, home where he has invited his past chess teammates to join him therefor a wild game and reunion. Each time the main antagonist, Bunnish, goes back in time to learn the moves of the chess players so he can therefore beat his former teammates (Peter, Steve, E.C.) at their own game when time comes around again. Peter and his friends eventually figure something is going on and they team up against Bunnish, to no avail because Bunnish just time trips again (leaving a “dead” vessel of a body). Additionally, Bunnish also plans to go back in time to steal Kathy, the wife of Peter, away from him just out of spite. A theme of history repeating, but with a twist every time.
Here is just a snippet from this story, however, feel free to ask me for more quotes and I will happily post them.
- Unsound Variations
Peter glanced at the board with disinterest. “We analyzed until three in the morning last night, the three of us. I had a new variation all set. A single sacrifice, instead of the double sac. I play knight takes pawn, but I hold back from the bishop sac, swing my queen over instead. That was the idea. It looked pretty good. But it’s unsound, isn’t it?”
Bunnish stared at him. “Play it, and we’ll find out!”
“No,” said Peter. “I don’t want to play.”
“Pete!” Steve Delmario said in consternation. “You got to, what are you saying, beat this damn bastard.”
Peter looked at him. “It’s no good, Steve.”
There was a silence. Finally Bunnish said, “You’re a coward, Norten. A coward and a failure and a weakling. Play the game out.”
“I’m not interested in the game, Bruce. Just tell me. The variation is unsound.”
Bunnish made a disgusted noise. “Yes, yes,” he snapped. “It’s unsound. There’s a countersac, I give up a rook to break up your mating threats, but I win a piece back a few moves later.”
“All the variations are unsound, aren’t they?” Peter said.
Bunnish smiled thinly.
- Less than two weeks later, Kathy knocked softly on the door of his study. “Wait a sec!” Peter shouted. He typed out another sentence, then flicked off the typewriter and swiveled in his chair. “C’mon in.”
She opened the door and smiled at him. “I made some tuna salad, if you want to take a break for lunch. How’s the book coming?”
“Good,” Peter said. “I should finish the second chapter today, if I keep at it.” She was holding a newspaper, he noticed. “What’s that?”
“I thought you ought to see this,” she replied, handing it over.
She’d folded it open to the obits. Peter took it and read. Millionaire electronics genius Bruce Bunnish had been found dead in his Colorado home, hooked up to a strange device that had seemingly electrocuted him. Peter sighed.
“He’s going to try again, isn’t he?” Kathy said.
Peter put down the newspaper. “The poor bastard. He can’t see it.”
Peter took her hand and squeezed it. “All the variations are unsound,” he said. It made him sad. But after lunch, he soon forgot about it, and went back to work.
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