Only Kids are Afraid of the Dark

What is better than blood and darkness? I’m not sure, but this story will give you plenty of each. This story is an early one from George R.R. Martin, and it explores religion and eternal struggle, giving readers first glances of his fire ‘god’ in A Song of Ice and Fire that is R’hllor and the red priests as they oppose the other earthly elements. This is a plot point he developed further when he wrote stories like A Song for Lya.

The beginning seeds include shared elements like plot devices, dark lords, color symbolism, use of jewels that Martin was only beginning to develop in early stories like this. These elements evolved along the way in ways that are still thriving in A Song of Ice and Fire. And I want to reiterate that this is a rather early bit of work by George R.R. Martin (1967), so while the quality of his plotting and dialogue has improved dramatically, there are many ideas developed in this story that were re-purposed for A Song of Ice and Fire.

Sooo, welcome to the book club. Like each book club story on this blog, the reading and commenting is done at your own pace. Have fun and enjoy!

Shadow Assassin by Rafal Hrynkiewicz.

I have started a book club re-read for the older works of George R.R. Martin for purposes such as research, scholarship, and teaching. I own all copies of material that is used for this book club. If you have not yet read a story listed, please check with your local bookstore for your own reading material to purchase. (Indie Bookstore Finder) The full list of GRRM stories outside of the A Song of Ice and Fire series that I have read can be found on this page here.

Per usual, I have made just a few notations along the way, but they are not difficult to skip if you prefer, and I am sure there is more going on than what I noted.

I hope you like this story and have your own comments or references you noticed that I may have missed. Cheers!

Fire & Blood Update

This came as a shock to me while reading Fire & Blood, vol 1. The god Saagael comes from one of Martin’s early works of fantasy titled Only Kids are Afraid of the Dark that deals with opposing forces, not unlike ice and fire at all. This is clearly where, on paper, George first started to develop his fire god/R’hllor religion with red priests, child sacrifice, and more. We know other elements including, but not limited to, Zoroastrianism were used develop the red religion, and the name R’hllor is drawn from Lovecraft’s R’lyeh, but you can see Martin’s own end use as he proto-develops the ASOIAF fire religion in this early story. Additionaly, Saagael being referenced as a giver of pain also connects to the story The Glass Flower and the character Cyrain of Ash and Liltih, as noted and quoted in this page here.

Saagael is mentioned in Fire & Blood. Why? Why now in the ASOIAF universe? This is the first time in our ASOIAF universe that Saagael is ever mentioned. The word Saagael is derived from Sgail, the gaelic word for ‘shadow of death’. So a young Gael is taken by Saagael, the shadow of death. Drogon, the winged shadow, takes Hazzea (and then the bones act as whisperjewel for Daenerys).

We know that in A Song of Ice and Fire that there are a few references to Bakkalon, but then Martin went ahead and added Bakkalon again in his newest work and now linking Bakkalon to Saagael just blows my mind at this point. And the plot and character setting they are displayed in… I am a smidge staggered.

  • Fire and Blood

Though the court and city still doted on the king’s brother, that clever, gallant boy Viserys, the same could not be said for his Lysene wife. Larra Rogare had taken up residence in the Red Keep with her husband, yet in her heart she remained a lady of Lys. Though fluent in High Valyrian and the dialects of Myr, Tyrosh, and Old Volantis in addition to her own Lysene tongue, Lady Larra made no effort to learn the Common Tongue, preferring to rely upon translators to make her wishes known. Her ladies were all Lyseni, as were her servants. The gowns she wore all came from Lys, even her smallclothes; her father’s ships delivered the latest Lysene fashions to her thrice a year. She even had her own protectors. Lysene swords guarded her night and day, under the command of her brother Moredo and a towering mute from the fighting pits of Meereen called Sandoq the Shadow.

All this the court and kingdom might have come to accept in time, had Lady Larra not also insisted upon keeping her own gods. She would have no part in the worship of the Seven, nor the old gods of the northmen. Her worship was reserved for certain of the manifold gods of Lys: the six-breasted cat goddess Pantera, Yndros of the Twilight who was male by day and female by night, the pale child Bakkalon of the Sword, faceless Saagael, the giver of pain.

Her ladies, her servants, and her guards would join Lady Larra at certain times in performing obeisances to these queer, ancient deities. Cats were seen coming and going from her chambers so often that men began to say they were her spies, purring at her in soft voices of all the doings of the Red Keep. It was even said that Larra herself could transform into a cat, to prowl the gutters and rooftops of the city. Darker rumors soon arose. The acolytes of Yndros could supposedly transform themselves from male to female and female to male through the act of love, and whispers went about that her ladyship oft availed herself of this ability at twilight orgies, so she might visit the brothels on the Street of Silk as a man. And every time a child went missing, the ignorant would look at one another and talk of Saagael’s insatiable thirst for blood.


Melisandre and the Black Gate

Q: Hope you’re doing well! I hope this is a somewhat innocuous email that you might answer for me. Melisandre mentions that she expects Sam to show her (and Stannis, if I recall) the Black Gate under the Nightfort. There’s no mention of Sam’s having left Castle Black before taking ship to Braavos, so am I correct in assuming that he never returned to the Nightfort to show the gate to Melisandre?

GRRM: I am sure she found it on her own.

  • A Dance with Dragons – Melisandre I

    While the boy was gone, Melisandre washed herself and changed her robes. Her sleeves were full of hidden pockets, and she checked them carefully as she did every morning to make certain all her powders were in place. Powders to turn fire green or blue or silver, powders to make a flame roar and hiss and leap up higher than a man is tall, powders to make smoke. A smoke for truth, a smoke for lust, a smoke for fear, and the thick black smoke that could kill a man outright. The red priestess armed herself with a pinch of each of them.

    The carved chest that she had brought across the narrow sea was more than three-quarters empty now. And while Melisandre had the knowledge to make more powders, she lacked many rare ingredients. My spells should suffice. She was stronger at the Wall, stronger even than in Asshai. Her every word and gesture was more potent, and she could do things that she had never done before. Such shadows as I bring forth here will be terrible, and no creature of the dark will stand before them. With such sorceries at her command, she should soon have no more need of the feeble tricks of alchemists and pyromancers.


What say the author?

A few words from Martin about this story.

Dreamsongs, volume 1:

So far as comics fandom was concerned in 1964, Star-Studded Comics was the big time. I wanted to be part of it, and I had a terrific original idea. Brains in jars like Garizan and masked crimefighters like Manta Ray were old hat, but no one had ever put a superhero on skis. (I had never skiied. Still haven’t.) My hero had one ski pole that was also a flamethrower, while the other doubled as a machine gun. Instead of fighting some stupid supervillain, I pitted him against the Commies to be “realistic.” But the best part of my story was the ending, where the White Raider met a shocking, tragic end. That would make the Texas Trio sit up and take notice, I was certain.

I called the story “The Strange Saga of the White Raider,” and sent it off to Larry Herndon. As well as being one-third of SSC’s august editorial triad, Larry had been one of the first people I’d struck up a correspondence with on entering comicdom. I was sure that he would like the story.

He did … but not for SSC. He explained to me that the Trio’s flagship fanzine had a full slate of characters. Rather than adding more, he and Howard and Buddy wanted to develop the heroes they had already introduced. They all liked my writing, though. They would be glad to have me write for Star-Studded Comics … so long as I wrote stories about their existing characters.

Web spider, big as a hound!

That was how it happened that “The Strange Saga of the White Raider” ran in Batwing, Larry Herndon’s solo fanzine, while I went on to appear in SSC with text stories about two of Howard Keltner’s creations. The Powerman story came first. “Powerman Vs. The Blue Barrier!” was published in SSC #7, in August 1965, and was well-received … but it was “Only Kids Are Afraid of the Dark,” my Dr. Weird story in SSC #10, that really made my name in comicdom.

Dr. Weird was a mystic avenger who fought ghosts, werewolves, and other supernatural menaces. Despite the similarity of their names, he had little in common with Marvel’s Dr. Strange. Keltner had modeled him on a Golden Age hero called Mr. Justice. Doc Weird went my White Raider one better, dying halfway through his first story instead of at the end. A time traveler from the future, he had stepped out of his time machine right into the middle of a robbery, and was immediately shot and killed. By dying before he was born, however, he had unbalanced the cosmos, so now he had to walk the earth righting wrongs until his birth came round.

I soon found I had an affinity for Doc Weird. Keltner liked what I did with him and encouraged me to do more stories, so when he spun the character off into his own fanzine, I wrote a script called “The Sword and the Spider” that a new, unknown artist illustrated handsomely. Jim Starlin also adapted “Only Kids Are Afraid of the Dark” to comic form … but the text story came first.




Through the silent, shifting shadows Grotesque forms go drifting by; Phantom shapes prowl o’er the darkness; Great winged hellions stalk the sky. In the ghostly, ghastly grayness Soul-less horrors make their home. Know they well this land of evil— Corlos is the world they roam.—found in a Central European cavern, once the temple of a dark sect; author unknown.

Darkness. Everywhere there was darkness. Grim, foreboding, omnipresent; it hung over the plain like a great stifling mantle. No moonlight sifted down; no stars shone from above; only night, sinister and eternal, and the swirling, choking gray mists that shifted and stirred with every movement. Something screeched in the distance, but its form could not be seen. The mists and the shadows cloaked all.

  • This entire first paragraph is pretty much how Martin describes his “darkling plain”, and this is often where his character play the game of mind (or will play in The Winds of Winter/A Dream of Spring).
  • Also, in the A Game of Thrones prologue, the Others we first meet seem to come and go through the gaps in darkness, as if that is their own passage door, something we will see later in this story:
    • “Can’t you feel it?” Gared asked. “Listen to the darkness.”
    • He turned his head, glimpsed a white shadow in the darkness. Then it was gone.
    • A shadow emerged from the dark of the wood.

But no. One object was visible. In the middle of the plain, rising to challenge the grim black mountains in the distance, a smooth, needle like tower thrust up into the dead sky. Miles it rose, up to where the crackling crimson lightnings played eternally on the polished black rock. A dull scarlet light gleamed from the lone tower window, one single isle in a sea of night.

In the swirling mists below things stirred uneasily, and the rustles of strange movements and scramblings broke the deathly silence. The unholy denizens of Corlos were uneasy, for when the light shone in the tower, it meant that its owner was at home. And even demons can know fear.

  • Corlos is a repeated name also used for fire connected people in ASOIAF. The spelling of the name is slightly rewritten as Corliss Penny, and he is one of the “Queen’s” men, as in fire woman Melisandre queen. There is also Corlys Velaryon, but in his case he was married to a fire woman.
  • Corlos is also almost always associated with gates/gateways. Yup, even in ASOIAF. Just one example of a few:
    • “OPEN THE GATES,” bellowed Ser Clayton Suggs, in a voice as deep as a warhorn. “OPEN THE GATES,” echoed Ser Corliss Penny, commanding the guards. “OPEN THE GATES,” cried the serjeants. Men scrambled to obey. Sharpened stakes were wrenched from the ground, planks were dropped across deep ditches, and the stockade gates were thrown wide. Jon Snow raised his hand and lowered it, and his black ranks parted right and left, clearing a path to the Wall, where Dolorous Edd Tollett pushed open the iron gate.
    • “You northmen brought these snows upon us,” insisted Corliss Penny. “You and your demon trees. R’hllor will save us.”

      “R’hllor will doom us,” said Artos Flint.

  • And we have Bran, the soon to be hero , and his worries about monsters behind gates…
    • A Storm of Swords – Bran IV

      “The Wall. The Wall is more than just ice and stone, he said. There are spells woven into it . . . old ones, and strong. He cannot pass beyond the Wall.”

      It grew very quiet in the castle kitchen then. Bran could hear the soft crackle of the flames, the wind stirring the leaves in the night, the creak of the skinny weirwood reaching for the moon. Beyond the gates the monsters live, and the giants and the ghouls, he remembered Old Nan saying, but they cannot pass so long as the Wall stands strong. So go to sleep, my little Brandon, my baby boy. You needn’t fear. There are no monsters here.

      “I am not the one you were told to bring,” Jojen Reed told fat Sam in his stained and baggy blacks. “He is.”

High in the summit of the black tower, a grim entity looked out of the single window at the yawning darkness of the plains and cursed them solemnly. Raging, the being turned from the swirling mist of the eternal night toward the well-lighted interior of its citadel. A whimper broke the silence. Chained helplessly to the marble wall, a hideous shape twisted in vain against its bonds. The entity was displeased. Raising one hand, it unleashed a bolt of black power toward the straining horror on the wall.

  • A Clash of Kings – Davos II

    Panting, she squatted and spread her legs. Blood ran down her thighs, black as ink. Her cry might have been agony or ecstasy or both. And Davos saw the crown of the child’s head push its way out of her. Two arms wriggled free, grasping, black fingers coiling around Melisandre’s straining thighs, pushing, until the whole of the shadow slid out into the world and rose taller than Davos, tall as the tunnel, towering above the boat. He had only an instant to look at it before it was gone, twisting between the bars of the portcullis and racing across the surface of the water, but that instant was long enough.
  • A Clash of Kings – Sansa VI

    “Try not to sound so like a mouse, Sansa. You’re a woman now, remember? And betrothed to my firstborn.” The queen sipped at her wine. “Were it anyone else outside the gates, I might hope to beguile him. But this is Stannis Baratheon. I’d have a better chance of seducing his horse.” She noticed the look on Sansa’s face, and laughed. “Have I shocked you, my lady?” She leaned close. “You little fool. Tears are not a woman’s only weapon. You’ve got another one between your legs, and you’d best learn to use it. You’ll find men use their swords freely enough. Both kinds of swords.”

A shriek of agony cut the endless night, and the bonds went limp. The chained demon was gone. No sound disturbed the solitude of the tower or its grim occupant. The entity rested on a great batlike throne carved from some glowing black rock. It stared across the room and out the window, at the half-seen somethings churning through the dark clouds.

At last the being cried aloud, and its shout echoed and re-echoed down the miles and miles of the sinister tower. Even in the black pit of the dungeons far below it was heard, and the demons imprisoned there shuddered in expectation of even greater agony, for the cry was the epitome of rage.

  • Reopened fighting pits of Meereen.
  • Daenerys chained her dragons (demons) , Rhaegal and Viserion, in a pit below her pyramid.
    • What have I done? she thought, huddled in her empty bed. I have waited so long for him to come back, and I send him away. “He would make a monster of me,” she whispered, “a butcher queen.” But then she thought of Drogon far away, and the dragons in the pit. There is blood on my hands too, and on my heart. We are not so different, Daario and I. We are both monsters.

A bolt of black power shot from an upraised fist into the night. Something screamed outside, and an unseen shape fell writhing from the skies. The entity snarled.

“Feeble sport. There is better to be had in the realm of mortals, where once I reigned, and where I would roam once more, to hunt again for human souls! When will the commandment be fulfilled, and the sacrifice be made that will release me from this eternal exile?”

  • The Night’s Watch guards the “realms of men”, and this has a double meaning; one is the actual human world, the other is the spiritual world where the gods play.
  • The Targaryens once reigned in Westeros, they were only a minor house in Valyria, and Daenerys believes Westeros is hers by birthright (even though Aerys lost the throne), and Danerys is heading that way to reclaim her “right”.
  • Daenerys “woke the dragon” sacrificed her brother Viserys, her husband Drogo, and her baby Rhaego to birth her undead dragons. That is a heavy price she paid with her coin.

Thunder rumbled through the darkness. Crimson lightnings played among the black mountains. And the denizens of Corlos cringed in fear. Saagael, Prince of Demons, Lord of Corlos, King of the Netherworld, was angry and restless once more. And when the Lord of Darkness was displeased, his subjects were sent scrambling in terror through the mists.

* * *

For long ages the great temple had lain hidden by sand and jungle, alone and deserted. The dust of centuries had gathered on its floor, and the silence of eons brooded in the grim, dark recesses. Dark and evil it was, so generations of natives declared it taboo, and it stood alone through the ages.

  • This idea of natives declaring some evil darkness upon their land to be taboo, and shunned is told in many stories (and usually involves incest), including: The Skin Trade, And Seven Times Never Kill Man, the list of abominations in ASOIAF, Dying of the Light, etc.
  • The Skin Trade (the Old House is connected to incest): The water was pure, the air was clean, and the woods were thick with game … deer, beaver, bear … but no people, or at least no white men. John Harmon and his son James both wrote of seeing Indian campfires from the tower from time to time, but the tribes avoided this place, especially after John had begun to build the Old House.”

Maybe the Indians weren’t so dumb after all,” Willie said.

But now, after timeless solitude, the great black doors carved with their hideous and forgotten symbols creaked open once more. Footsteps stirred the dust of three thousand years, and echoes disturbed the silence of the dark places. Slowly, nervously, with cautious glances into the darkness, two men sneaked into the ancient temple.

They were dirty men, unwashed and unshaven, and their faces were masks of greed and brutality. Their clothes were in rags, and they each carried long, keen knives next to their empty, useless revolvers. They were hunted men, coming to the temple with blood on their hands and fear in their hearts.

  • This sounds like the Poor Fellows and Sparrows in ASOIAF, which are just rewrites of the Steel Angels/Sons of Bakkalon, and Daenerys is Bakkalon.
  • This also sounds again like the prologue of A Game of Thrones.

The larger of the two, the tall, lean one called Jasper, surveyed the dark, empty temple with a cold and cynical eye. It was a grim place, even by his standards. Darkness prevailed everywhere, in spite of the burning jungle sun outside, for the few windows there were had been stained a deep purple hue through which little light could pass. The rest was stone, a grim ebony stone carved centuries ago. There were strange, hideous murals on the walls, and the air was dank and stale with the smell of death. Of the furnishings, all had long decayed into dust save the huge black altar at the far end of the room. Once there had been stairs leading to a higher level, but they were gone now, rotted into nothingness.

  • A purple that “consumes” the light.
  • The murals and smell of death is much like Jaime’s experience as he goes into the tunnels of the Red Keep in the faux search for Tyrion at Cersei’s request. This also follows Annalyn (a Jaime protoype) from In the House of the Worm and his faux search for grouns that turns into him, essentially, opening his third eye- enlightenment.
  • Not a huge black alter, but Daenerys sits upon an ebon bench. Also, the hall is purple, which calls back to the purple windows from above: ” In the purple hall, Dany found her ebon bench piled high about with satin pillows. The sight brought a wan smile to her lips. Ser Barristan’s work, she knew. The old knight was a good man, but sometimes very literal. It was only a jape, ser, she thought, but she sat on one of the pillows just the same.”
  • Additionaly, there are only two altars (named) in the ASOIAF series, and both of them are directly related to that someone dying. One of the altars in ASOIAF is that of the Faitih of Seven, which is a direct link back to the Steel Angels and Bakkalon from previous Martin stories- and they are fire related.
    • A Game of Thrones – Daenerys VII

      They passed through a series of anterooms, into the high central chamber under the onion. Faint light shone down through hidden windows above. A few torches burnt smokily from sconces on the walls. Sheepskins were scattered across the mud floor. “There,” Mirri Maz Duur said, pointing to the altar, a massive blue-veined stone carved with images of shepherds and their flocks. Khal Drogo lay upon it. The old woman threw a handful of dried leaves onto a brazier, filling the chamber with fragrant smoke. “Best if you wait outside,” she told the rest of them.

      [and then]

      “My time is near,” Dany said. “I would have you attend me when he comes, if you would.”

      Khal Drogo laughed. “Moon of my life, you do not ask a slave, you tell her. She will do as you command.” He jumped down from the altar. “Come, my blood. The stallions call, this place is ashes. It is time to ride.”

    • A Game of Thrones – Daenerys VIII

      The slaves erected Khal Drogo’s tent beneath a jagged outcrop of black rock whose shadow gave some relief from the heat of the afternoon sun. Even so, it was stifling under the sandsilk as Irri and Doreah helped Dany walk Drogo inside. Thick patterned carpets had been laid down over the ground, and pillows scattered in the corners. Eroeh, the timid girl Dany had rescued outside the mud walls of the Lamb Men, set up a brazier. They stretched Drogo out on a woven mat. “No,” he muttered in the Common Tongue. “No, no.” It was all he said, all he seemed capable of saying.

When her khas came up, she posted them outside at guard. “Admit no one without my leave,” she told Jhogo. “No one.”  

(and then in A Game of Thrones – Daenerys IX, Dany kills Drogo with a cushion:

Inside the tent Dany found a cushion, soft silk stuffed with feathers. She clutched it to her breasts as she walked back out to Drogo, to her sun-and-stars. If I look back I am lost. It hurt even to walk, and she wanted to sleep, to sleep and not to dream.

She knelt, kissed Drogo on the lips, and pressed the cushion down across his face.

    • A Game of Thrones – Jon VI

      Inside the sept, the great crystal caught the morning light as it streamed through the south-facing window and spread it in a rainbow on the altar. Pyp’s mouth dropped open when he caught sight of Sam, and Toad poked Grenn in the ribs, but no one dared say a word. Septon Celladar was swinging a censer, filling the air with fragrant incense that reminded Jon of Lady Stark’s little sept in Winterfell. For once the septon seemed sober.

[and then]

Mormont stood before the altar, the rainbow shining on his broad bald head. “You came to us outlaws,” he began, …

Jasper unslung his knapsack from his back and turned to his short, fat companion. “Guess this is it, Willie,” he said, his voice a low guttural rumble. “Here’s where we spend the night.”

  • Oh yeah, a creepy place just the kitchen in Nightfort where Bran and friends plan to stay the night, just before they discover Sam Tarly, Gilly and the babe.

Willie’s eyes moved nervously in their sockets, and his tongue flicked over dry lips. “I don’t like it,” he said. “This place gives me th’ creeps. It’s too dark and spooky. And lookit them things on the walls.” He pointed toward one of the more bizarre of the murals.

Jasper laughed, a snarling, bitter, cruel laugh from deep in his throat. “We got to stay some place, and the natives will kill us if they find us out in the open. They know we’ve got those sacred rubies of theirs. C’mon, Willie, there’s nothing wrong with this joint, and the natives are scared to come near it. So it’s a little dark … big deal. Only kids are afraid of the dark.”

  • This scene is setting up a sacrifice and birth of a shadow. Just as Davos had to smuggle Melisandre in to Storm’s End so that she could birth her shadow baby to kill Cortnay Penrose, Jasper and Willie have to stay hidden, and end up summoning demons. Go figure.
  • This scene in A Song of Ice and Fire pretty much confirms that the fire magic in that series was borne of Saagael in this story. Fire magic demons all around!

A Game of Thrones – Prologue

“We have a long ride before us,” Gared pointed out. “Eight days, maybe nine. And night is falling.”

Ser Waymar Royce glanced at the sky with disinterest. “It does that every day about this time. Are you unmanned by the dark, Gared?”

A Clash of Kings – Prologue

“A man your age must look to where he steps,” Melisandre said courteously. “The night is dark and full of terrors.”

He knew the phrase, some prayer of her faith. It makes no matter, I have a faith of my own. “Only children fear the dark,” he told her. Yet even as he said the words, he heard Patchface take up his song again. “The shadows come to dance, my lord, dance my lord, dance my lord.”

“Now here is a riddle,” Melisandre said. “A clever fool and a foolish wise man.” Bending, she picked up Patchface’s helm from where it had fallen and set it on Cressen’s head. The cowbells rang softly as the tin bucket slid down over his ears. “A crown to match your chain, Lord Maester,” she announced. All around them, men were laughing.

“Yeah, I … I guess yer right,” Willie said hesitantly. Removing his knapsack, he squatted down in the dust next to Jasper and began removing the makings of a meal. Jasper went back out into the jungle and returned minutes later, his arms laden with wood. A small fire was started, and the two squatted in silence and hastily consumed their small meal. Afterward they sat around the fire and spoke in whispers of what they would do in civilization with the sudden wealth they had come upon.

  • All of this is ritualistic. The problem is, Jasper and Willie don’t know this yet.
  • Melisandre has the Free Folk burn weirwood branches and twigs to start her fires and denounce the old gods. In A Song for Lya, the recruits (red priests) hand out free, piping hot, spiced meat stick meals as a means of spreading and inducting potential new Greeshka joined members. Very fiery related imagery.
  • Jasper and Willie are working for greed (sacred rubies). Not good in any GRRM story.

Time passed, slowly but inexorably. Outside, the sun sank behind the mountains in the west. Night came to the jungle.

The temple’s interior was even more foreboding by night. The creeping darkness that spread from the walls put a damper on conversation. Yawning, Jasper spread his sleeping bag out on the dust-covered floor and stretched out. He looked up at Willie. “I’m gonna call it a day,” he said. “How about you?”

Willie nodded. “Yeah,” he said. “Guess so.” He hesitated. “But not on the floor. All that dust … could be bugs … spiders, mebbe. Nightcrawlers. I ain’t gonna be bit all night in my sleep.”

Jasper frowned. “Where, then? Ain’t no furniture left in the place.”

Willie’s hard dark eyes traveled around the room, searching. “There,” he exclaimed. “That thing looks wide enough to hold me. And the bugs won’t be able to get at me up there.”

  • In a later Martin story, Sandkings, George uses bugs/beetles as the nemesis to Simon Kress, who in turn is a Daenerys prototype. Read a bit here on this page.

Jasper shrugged. “Suit yourself,” he said. He turned over and soon was asleep. Willie waddled over to the great carven rock, spread his sleeping bag open on it, and clambered up noisily. He stretched out and closed his eyes, shuddering as he beheld the carving on the ceiling. Within minutes his stout frame was heaving regularly, and he was snoring.

Across the length of the dark room Jasper stirred, sat up, and peered through the gloom at his sleeping companion. Thoughts were running feverishly through his head. The natives were hot on their trail, and one man could move much faster than two, especially if the second was a fat, slow cow like Willie. And then there were the rubies—gleaming wealth, greater than any he had ever dreamed of. They could be his—all his.

  • And here we see Jasper becoming enthralled with greed and power that he wants to covet all for himself.
  • A Storm of Swords – Tyrion IV

    As he entered his lord father’s solar a few moments later, he heard a voice saying, “. . . cherrywood for the scabbards, bound in red leather and ornamented with a row of lion’s-head studs in pure gold. Perhaps with garnets for the eyes . . .”

    Rubies,” Lord Tywin said. “Garnets lack the fire.”

  • rubies vs garnets- Ramsay, Tywin, The Skin Trade

Silently Jasper rose, and crept wolflike through the blackness toward Willie. His hand went to his waist, and extracted a slim, gleaming knife. Reaching the dais, he stood a moment and looked down on his comrade. Willie heaved and tossed in his sleep. The thought of those gleaming red rubies in Willie’s knapsack ran again through Jasper’s brain. The blade flashed up, then down.

The fat one groaned once, briefly, and blood was spilled on the ancient sacrificial altar.

  • And here we have the money shot! Jasper betrayed his partner for greed, thus completing the blood and fire ritual.
  • This also mirrors the “blood on the mirrors” that summons the Skinner in the story The Skin Trade, (mirrors discussed here), as well as the Night’s Watch Mutineers getting blood on the largest mirror in Westeros, the wall.
    • The Skin Trade: Steven giggled. “You’ll get it now,” he said. “You called it. You got blood on the mirrors. You called it back again.”

Outside, lightning flashed from a clear sky, and thunder rumbled ominously over the hills. The darkness inside the temple seemed to deepen, and a low, howling noise filled the room. Probably the wind whistling through the ancient steeple, thought Jasper, as he fumbled for the jewels in Willie’s knapsack. But it was strange how the wind seemed to be whispering a word, lowly and beckoningly. “Saagael,” it seemed to call softly. “Saaaaagael …”

  • Again, very much like the prologue to A Game of Thrones and here we see the fire god emerging from darkness.

The noise grew, from a whisper to a shout to a roar, until it filled the ancient temple. Jasper looked around in annoyance. He could not understand what was going on. Above the altar, a large crack appeared, and beyond it mist swirled and things moved. Darkness flowed from the crack, darkness blacker and denser and colder than anything Jasper had ever witnessed. Swirling, shifting, it gathered itself into a pocket of absolute black in one corner of the room. It seemed to grow, to change shape, to harden, and to coalesce.

And quickly it was gone. In its place stood something vaguely humanoid; a large, powerful frame clad in garments of a soft, dark gray. It wore a belt and a cape, leathery things made from the hide of some unholy creature never before seen on earth. A hood of the cape covered its head, and underneath it only blackness stared out, marked by two pits of final night darker and deeper than the rest. A great batlike clasp of some dark, glowing rock fastened the cape in place.

Jasper’s voice was a whisper. “W-w-who are you?”

A low, hollow, haunting laughter filled the recesses of the temple and spread out through the night. “I? I am War, and Plague, and Blood. I am Death, and Darkness, and Fear.” The laughter again. “I am Saagael, Prince of Demons, Lord of Darkness, King of Corlos, unquestioned Sovereign of the Netherworld. I am Saagael, he whom your ancestors called the Soul-Destroyer. And you have called me.”

  • This scene is rather reminiscent of Daenerys and the Drogo funeral pyre with the eggs cracking to birth dragons, as well as Melisandre birthing shadow babies.

A Game of Thrones – Daenerys X

Another step, and Dany could feel the heat of the sand on the soles of her feet, even through her sandals. Sweat ran down her thighs and between her breasts and in rivulets over her cheeks, where tears had once run. Ser Jorah was shouting behind her, but he did not matter anymore, only the fire mattered. The flames were so beautiful, the loveliest things she had ever seen, each one a sorcerer robed in yellow and orange and scarlet, swirling long smoky cloaks. She saw crimson firelions and great yellow serpents and unicorns made of pale blue flame; she saw fish and foxes and monsters, wolves and bright birds and flowering trees, each more beautiful than the last. She saw a horse, a great grey stallion limned in smoke, its flowing mane a nimbus of blue flame. Yes, my love, my sun-and-stars, yes, mount now, ride now.

Her vest had begun to smolder, so Dany shrugged it off and let it fall to the ground. The painted leather burst into sudden flame as she skipped closer to the fire, her breasts bare to the blaze, streams of milk flowing from her red and swollen nipples. Now, she thought, now, and for an instant she glimpsed Khal Drogo before her, mounted on his smoky stallion, a flaming lash in his hand. He smiled, and the whip snaked down at the pyre, hissing.

She heard a crack, the sound of shattering stone. The platform of wood and brush and grass began to shift and collapse in upon itself. Bits of burning wood slid down at her, and Dany was showered with ash and cinders. And something else came crashing down, bouncing and rolling, to land at her feet; a chunk of curved rock, pale and veined with gold, broken and smoking. The roaring filled the world, yet dimly through the firefall Dany heard women shriek and children cry out in wonder.

Only death can pay for life.

And there came a second crack, loud and sharp as thunder, and the smoke stirred and whirled around her and the pyre shifted, the logs exploding as the fire touched their secret hearts. She heard the screams of frightened horses, and the voices of the Dothraki raised in shouts of fear and terror, and Ser Jorah calling her name and cursing. No, she wanted to shout to him, no, my good knight, do not fear for me. 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.

The third crack was as loud and sharp as the breaking of the world.

  • A Clash of Kings – Davos II

    There was no answer but a soft rustling. And then a light bloomed amidst the darkness.

    Davos raised a hand to shield his eyes, and his breath caught in his throat. Melisandre had thrown back her cowl and shrugged out of the smothering robe. Beneath, she was naked, and huge with child. Swollen breasts hung heavy against her chest, and her belly bulged as if near to bursting. “Gods preserve us,” he whispered, and heard her answering laugh, deep and throaty. Her eyes were hot coals, and the sweat that dappled her skin seemed to glow with a light of its own. Melisandre shone.

    Panting, she squatted and spread her legs. Blood ran down her thighs, black as ink. Her cry might have been agony or ecstasy or both. And Davos saw the crown of the child’s head push its way out of her. Two arms wriggled free, grasping, black fingers coiling around Melisandre’s straining thighs, pushing, until the whole of the shadow slid out into the world and rose taller than Davos, tall as the tunnel, towering above the boat. He had only an instant to look at it before it was gone, twisting between the bars of the portcullis and racing across the surface of the water, but that instant was long enough.

    • Sidenote: Davos is a relatively atheistic man, but here we see him ask for the gods to “preserve us“. This reminds me of Maester Aemon:

      “. . . or not.” Aemon chuckled softly. “Or I am an old man, feverish and dying.” He closed his white eyes wearily, then forced them open once again. “I should not have left the Wall. Lord Snow could not have known, but I should have seen it. Fire consumes, but cold preserves. The Wall . . . but it is too late to go running back. The Stranger waits outside my door and will not be denied. Steward, you have served me faithfully. Do this one last brave thing for me. Go down to the ships, Sam. Learn all you can about these dragons.”

  • The Winds of Winter – Tyrion I

    She listened. “What is it?” she said as she was strapping a pair of mismatched greaves onto his stunted legs.

    “War. On either side of us and not a league away. That’s slaughter, Penny. That’s men stumbling through the mud with their entrails hanging out. That’s severed limbs and broken bones and pools of blood. You know how the worms come out after a hard rain? I hear they do the same after a big battle if enough blood soaks into the ground. That’s the Stranger coming, Penny. The Black Goat, the Pale Child, Him of Many Faces, call him what you will. That’s death.”

    “You’re scaring me.

Jasper’s eyes were wide with fear, and the rubies, forgotten, lay in the dust. The apparition had raised a hand, and blackness and night gathered around it. Evil power coursed through the air. Then, for Jasper, there was only darkness, final and eternal.

* * *

Halfway around the world a spectral figure in gold and green stiffened suddenly in mid-flight, its body growing tense and alert. Across the death-white features spread a look of intense concern, as the fathomless phantom-mind once again became in tune with the very essence of its being. Doctor Weird recognized the strange sensations; they were telling him of the presence of a supernatural evil somewhere on the earth. All he had to do was to follow the eerie emanations drawing him like a magnet to the source of the abominable activities.

With the speed of thought the spectral figure flashed away toward the east, led swiftly and unwaveringly to the source of evil; mountains, valleys, rivers, woodlands zipped under him with eye-blurring speed. Great seacoast cities appeared on the horizon, their skyscrapers leaning on the heavens. Then they, too, vanished behind him, and angry, rolling waves moved below. In a wink a continent had been spanned; in another an ocean was crossed. Earthly limits of speed and matter are of no consequence to a spirit; and suddenly it was night.

Thick, clutching jungles appeared below the Golden Ghost, their foliage all the more sinister by night. There was a patch of desert, a great roaring river, more desert. Then the jungle again. Human settlements popped up and vanished in the blink of an eye. The night parted in front of the streaking figure.

Doctor Weird stopped. Huge and ominous, the ancient temple appeared suddenly in front of him, its great walls hiding grim and evil secrets. He approached cautiously. There was an aura of intense evil here, and the darkness clung to the temple thicker and denser than to the jungle around it.

Slowly and warily the Astral Avenger approached a huge black wall. His substance seemed to waver and fade as he passed effortlessly through it into the blackened inside.

Doctor Weird shuddered as he beheld the interior of that dread sanctum; it was horribly familiar to him now. The dark, hideous murals, the row on row of felted, ebony benches, and the huge statue that stared down from above the altar marked this unclean place as a temple of a long-forgotten sect; those who had worshipped one of the black deities that lurk Beyond. The earth had been cleaner when the last such had died out.

And yet—Doctor Weird paused and pondered. Everywhere, everything looked new and unused and—a sense of horror gripped him—there was fresh blood on the sacrificial altar! Could it be that the cult had been revived? That the dwellers in the shadows were worshipped again?

  • A Dance with Dragons – Melisandre I

    The carved chest that she had brought across the narrow sea was more than three-quarters empty now. And while Melisandre had the knowledge to make more powders, she lacked many rare ingredients. My spells should suffice. She was stronger at the Wall, stronger even than in Asshai. Her every word and gesture was more potent, and she could do things that she had never done before. Such shadows as I bring forth here will be terrible, and no creature of the dark will stand before them. With such sorceries at her command, she should soon have no more need of the feeble tricks of alchemists and pyromancers.

  • Also discussed in the page that details Melisandre and Selyse will burn Shireen.

There was a slight noise from a recess near the altar. Instantly, Doctor Weird whirled and searched for its source. Something barely moved in the darkness; and in a flash the Golden Ghost was upon it.

It was a man—or what remained of one. Tall, lean, and muscular, it lay unmoving on the floor and stared from unseeing eyes. A heart beat, and lungs inhaled, but there was no other motion. No will stirred this creature; no instincts prompted it. It lay still and silent, eyes focused vacantly on the ceiling; a discarded, empty shell.

It was a thing without a mind—or a soul.

  • Jasper was skinchnaged, or maybe near wighted is more accurate in this case.
  • A Game of Thrones – Daenerys IX

    She lifted her head. “And I am Daenerys Stormborn, Daenerys of House Targaryen, of the blood of Aegon the Conqueror and Maegor the Cruel and old Valyria before them. I am the dragon’s daughter, and I swear to you, these men will die screaming. Now bring me to Khal Drogo.”

    He was lying on the bare red earth, staring up at the sun.

    A dozen bloodflies had settled on his body, though he did not seem to feel them. Dany brushed them away and knelt beside him. His eyes were wide open but did not see, and she knew at once that he was blind. When she whispered his name, he did not seem to hear. The wound on his breast was as healed as it would ever be, the scar that covered it grey and red and hideous.

Anger and horror raged through the breast of the Astral Avenger as he whirled, searching the shadows for the thing of evil whose presence now overwhelmed him. Never had he encountered such an engulfing aura of raw, stark wickedness.

“All right!” he shouted. “I know you are here somewhere. I sense your evil presence. Show yourself … if you dare!”

A hollow, haunting laughter issued from the great dark walls and echoed through the hall. “And who might you be?”

But Doctor Weird did not move. His spectral eyes swept the length and breadth of the temple, searching for the source of the eerie laughter.

And again it came, deep, booming, and full of malevolence. “But what does it matter? Rash mortal, you presume to challenge forces you cannot begin to comprehend! Yet, I shall fulfill your request—I shall reveal myself!” The laughter grew louder. “You shall soon rue your foolhardy words!”

From above, where polished ebony steps wound upward into the highest reaches of the black temple’s tower and steeple, a viscous, fluid, living darkness seemed to ooze down the winding staircase. Like a great cloud of absolute black from the nightmare of a madman it descended until, halfway down, it solidified and took shape. The thing that stood on the stairs was vaguely manlike, but the resemblance only made it even more horrible. Its laughter filled the temple again. “Doth my visage please you, mortal? Why do you not answer? Can it be you know—fear?”

The answer rang back instantly, loud, clear, and defiant. “Never, dark one! You call me mortal and expect me to tremble at the sight of you. But you are wrong, for I am as eternal as you. I, who have battled werewolves, vampires, and sorcerers in the past have no qualms about subduing a demon of your ilk!” With this, Doctor Weird shot forward toward the grotesque apparition on the stairs.

Underneath the dark hood, the two great pits of blackness blazed scarlet for an instant, and the laughter began again, wilder than ever. “So then, spirit, you would fight a demon? Very well! You shall have a demon! We will see who survives!” The dark shape gestured impatiently with its hand.

Doctor Weird had gotten halfway to the staircase when the crack above the altar suddenly opened in front of him and something huge and evil blocked his path. It stood well over twice his height, its mouth a mass of gleaming fangs, the eyes two baleful pinpoints of red. There was a musty odor of death in the air surrounding the monstrous entity.

Barely pausing long enough to size up the situation, the Golden Ghost lashed out at the hideous newcomer, fist burying itself in the cold, clammy flesh. In spite of himself, Doctor Weird shuddered. The flesh of the monster was like soft, yet superstrong dough; foul and filthy, so repulsive as to make the skin crawl.

  • A Game of Thrones – Jon VII

The direwolf wrenched free and came to him as the wight struggled to rise, dark snakes spilling from the great wound in its belly. Jon plunged his hand into the flames, grabbed a fistful of the burning drapes, and whipped them at the dead man. Let it burn, he prayed as the cloth smothered the corpse, gods, please, please, let it burn.

  • A Game of Thrones – Jon VIII

    “As you say, my lord.” It was not the thought of scars that troubled Jon; it was the rest of it. Maester Aemon had given him milk of the poppy, yet even so, the pain had been hideous. At first it had felt as if his hand were still aflame, burning day and night. Only plunging it into basins of snow and shaved ice gave any relief at all. Jon thanked the gods that no one but Ghost saw him writhing on his bed, whimpering from the pain. And when at last he did sleep, he dreamt, and that was even worse. In the dream, the corpse he fought had blue eyes, black hands, and his father’s face, but he dared not tell Mormont that.

The being shrugged off the blow. Demoniac talons raked painfully and with stunning force across the shoulder of the Mystic Marauder, leaving a trail of agony in their wake. With sudden alarm, Doctor Weird realized that this was no creature of the ordinary realm, against which he was invulnerable; this horror was of the netherworld, and was as fully capable of inflicting pain upon him as he was on it.

A great arm flashed out, catching him across the chest and sending him staggering backward. Gibbering and drooling horribly, the demon leaped after him, its great clawed hands reaching. Doctor Weird was caught squarely, thrown off balance, and slammed backward onto the cold stone floor. The thing landed on top of him. Gleaming yellow fangs flashed for his throat.

  • Several back to back examples of the fiery hand of R’hllor taking swipes at people, most likely also including Jon during the mutiny.
  • Additionally, the dragons in ASIOAF are also repeatedly described as their claws digging in to the arm or shoulder of the person they are riding.
    • Drogon shrieked, his claws digging through silk and skin, but the king on his throne never heard, and Dany moved on.

    • Even fiery woman Lysa Tully-Arryn has “claws”:

      “Look down,” said Lady Lysa. “Look down.”

      She tried to wrench free, but her aunt’s fingers were digging into her arm like claws. Lysa gave her another shove, and Sansa shrieked

In desperation, Doctor Weird swung his left arm around and up into the face of the demon as it descended upon him. Spectral muscles strained, and his right fist connected with brutal force, smashing into the horrid visage like a pile driver. The thing gave a sickening squeal of pain, rolled to the side, and scrambled to its feet. In an instant the Golden Ghost had regained his footing.

Eyes blazing hungrily at him, the demon rushed the Super Spirit once again, arms spread wide to grab him. Neatly sidestepping the charge and ducking under the outstretched arms, Doctor Weird took to the air as the creature’s speed carried it past him. The demon stopped and whirled quickly, and the airborne wraith smashed into him feet first. The thing roared in anger as it toppled and lay flat. With all of the force he could muster, Doctor Weird brought the heel of his boot down squarely onto the demon’s neck.

  • Whatever regional names used for the fire god, what we do know is that the fire god is hungry and jealous.
    • A Storm of Swords – Jon XII

      When Jon closed his eyes he saw the heart tree, with its pale limbs, red leaves, and solemn face. The weirwood was the heart of Winterfell, Lord Eddard always said . . . but to save the castle Jon would have to tear that heart up by its ancient roots, and feed it to the red woman’s hungry fire god. I have no right, he thought. Winterfell belongs to the old gods.

    • A Dance with Dragons – Jon III

      The heat from the fire pit was palpable even at a distance; for the wildlings, it had to be blistering. He saw men cringing as they neared the flames, heard children cry. A few turned for the forest. He watched a young woman stumble away with a child on either hand. Every few steps she looked back to make certain no one was coming after them, and when she neared the trees she broke into a run. One greybeard took the weirwood branch they handed him and used it as a weapon, laying about with it until the queen’s men converged on him with spears. The others had to step around his body, until Ser Corliss had it thrown in the fire. More of the free folk chose the woods after that—one in ten, perhaps.

      But most came on. Behind them was only cold and death. Ahead was hope. They came on, clutching their scraps of wood until the time came to feed them to the flames. R’hllor was a jealous deity, ever hungry. So the new god devoured the corpse of the old, and cast gigantic shadows of Stannis and Melisandre upon the Wall, black against the ruddy red reflections on the ice.

Like a watermelon hit by a battering ram, the monster’s head bulged, then smashed under the impact. Thick dark blood formed a great pool on the stone floor, and the hulklike demon did not stir. Doctor Weird staggered to one side in exhaustion.

  • Images that sound like Gregor Clegane and Oberyn Martell in the fighting pit.

Devilish laughter rang about him, snapping him instantly to attention. “Very good, spirit! You have entertained me! You have overcome a demon!” Scarlet flashed again under the hood of the thing on the stairway. “But I, you see, am no ordinary demon. I am Saagael, the Demon Prince, the Lord of Darkness! That subject of mine you disposed of with such difficulty is as nothing against my power!”

Saagael raised a hand and gestured at the fallen demon. “You have shown me your might, so I will tell you of mine. That shell you found was my work, for I am he they called the Soul-Destroyer, and it is long since I have exercised my power. That mortal shall know no afterlife, no bliss nor damnation, no Immortality. He is gone, as if he had never been, completely nonexistent. I have eradicated his soul, and that is a fate far worse than death.”

The Golden Ghost stared up at him unbelievingly, and a cold chill went through him. “You mean …”

The voice of the Demon Prince was raised in triumph. “Yes! I perceive you know what I mean. So think, and now tremble! You are but a spirit, a discorporate entity. I cannot affect the physical shell of one of mortal birth, but you, a spirit, I could destroy utterly. But it will amuse me to have you stand by helpless and fearful while I enslave your world, so I shall spare you for now. Stand, and behold the fate of the planet where I reigned once, before history began, and now shall reign again!”

  • All of this section uses virtually the exact wording as Cyrain of Ash and Lilith, a strong proto-Daenerys from the story The Glass Flower.

The Lord of Darkness gestured expansively, and all light in the temple vanished. A thick darkness prevailed everywhere, and a vision slowly took shape before the awestruck eyes of Doctor Weird.

He saw men turn against other men in anger and hatred. He witnessed wars and holocaust and blood. Death, grinning and horrible, was everywhere. The world was bathed in chaos and destruction. And then, in the aftermath, he beheld flood and fire and plague, and famine upon the land. Fear and superstition reached new heights. There was a vision of churches being torn down, and of crosses burning against the night sky. Awesome statues were raised in their stead, bearing the hideous likeness of the Demon Prince. Everywhere men bowed before the great dark altars, and gave their daughters to the priests of Saagael. And, lo, the creatures of the night burst forth again in new strength, walking the earth and lusting for blood. Locked doors were no protection. The servants of Saagael ruled supreme on earth, and their dark lord hunted for men’s souls. The gates of Corlos were opened, and a great shadow descended over the land. Not in a thousand generations would it be lifted.

  • The World of Ice and Fire – The Reign of the Dragons: The Conquest

    Heraldic banners had long been a tradition amongst the lords of Westeros, but such had never been used by the dragonlords of old Valyria. When Aegon’s knights unfurled his great silken battle standard, with a red threeheaded dragon breathing fire upon a black field, the lords took it for a sign that he was now truly one of them, a worthy high king for Westeros. When Queen Visenya placed a Valyrian steel circlet, studded with rubies, on her brother’s head and Queen Rhaenys hailed him as, “Aegon, First of His Name, King of All Westeros, and Shield of His People,” the dragons roared and the lords and knights sent up a cheer…but the smallfolk, the fisherman and field hands and goodwives, shouted loudest of all.

  • Many grasping heads of Houses try to marry their pawn-daughters to the Targaryens as a way to get into the favor of the fire-gods.
  • The visions is this paragraph are really divided between the long night arriving with the Great Other, and with Daenerys and her nuclear weapon dragons.
    • George RR Martin: “Dragons are the nuclear deterrent, and only Dany has them, which in some ways makes her the most powerful person in the world,” Martin told Vulture in a 2014 interview. “But is that sufficient? These are the kind of issues I’m trying to explore. The United States right now has the ability to destroy the world with our nuclear arsenal, but that doesn’t mean we can achieve specific geopolitical goals. Power is more subtle than that. You can have the power to destroy, but it doesn’t give you the power to reform, or improve, or build.”
  • Aside from Daenerys giving her unborn child Rhaego to the flames in a blood & fire ritual, if you read my page about Melisandre and Selyse giving Shireen to the flames then you can see the theme repeating rather consistently.

As suddenly as it had come the vision was gone, and there was only the thick blackness and the hideous ringing laughter, more cruel now, coming from everywhere and nowhere, echoing and reechoing in the confines of the huge temple. “Go now, spirit, before I tire of you. I have preparations to make abroad, and I do not wish to find you in my temple when I return. Hark you this—it is morning now, yet all is still dark outside. From this day forth, night shall be eternal on earth!”

The darkness cleared and Doctor Weird could see again. He stood alone in the empty temple. Saagael was gone, as were the remains of the vanquished demon. Only he and the thing that had once been a man called Jasper remained amongst the silence, and the darkness, and the dust.

* * *

They came from all over, from the hot nearby jungles, from the burning desert beyond, from the great cities of Europe, from the frigid north of Asia. They were the hard ones, the brutal ones, the cruel ones, those who had long waited the coming of one like the Demon Prince and welcomed him now. They were students of the occult; they had studied those black arts and ancient scrolls that sane men do not believe in, and they knew the dark secrets others spoke of in whispers. Saagael was no mystery to them, for their lore went back to the dim forgotten eras before history had begun when the Lord of Darkness had held dominion over the earth.

And now, from all the corners of the globe, they flocked to his temple and bowed before his statue. Even a dark god needs priests and they were eager to strain in his service in return for forbidden knowledge. When the long night had come over the earth, and the Demon Prince had roamed abroad and feasted, they knew their hour had arrived. So the unclean ones, the dark ones, the evil ones, jammed the great temple even as in the days of yore and formed again the dreaded Sect of Saagael. There they sang their songs of worship, and read their black tomes, and waited for the coming of their lord, for Saagael was still abroad. It was long since he had hunted men’s souls, and his hunger was insatiable.

  • So much could be unpacked in these parapgraphs above, but basically it establishes what we see in ASOIAF as we read. This is the Red Priests of R’hllor who flock to Volantis, who seek out Daenerys in Meereen, who are prepping the Riverlands in Westeros. We do have another description of a “long night”, but that is still rather consistent with what is happening in Westeros and who this “Great Other” actually is.
  • Daenerys is still abroad in Essos, roaming as the Lion of Night, and Daenerys feasted on the heart of a horse to make her child Rhaego the stallion who mounts the world.
  • This also follows the stories The Glass Flower and A Song for Lya in the Greeshka, because in both of these stories groups of worshipers flock to the “god” to adulate and give homage. This is happens to Daenerys in A Dance with Dragons.

But his servants grew impatient, and so they made for to summon him back. Torches lit the black hall, and hundreds sat moaning a hymn of praise. They read aloud from the unholy texts, as they had not dared to do for many a year, and they sang his name. “Saagael,” the call went up and echoed in the depths of the temple. “Saagael,” it beckoned, louder and louder, until the hall rang with it. “Saagael,” it demanded, a roar now, shrieking out into the night and filling the land and the air with the awful call.

  • A Storm of Swords – Daenerys IV

    “It is Ghiscari, the old pure tongue. It means ‘Mother.'”

    Dany felt a lightness in her chest. I will never bear a living child, she remembered. Her hand trembled as she raised it. Perhaps she smiled. She must have, because the man grinned and shouted again, and others took up the cry. “Mhysa!” they called. “Mhysa! MHYSA!” They were all smiling at her, reaching for her, kneeling before her. “Maela,” some called her, while others cried “Aelalla” or “Qathei” or “Tato,” but whatever the tongue it all meant the same thing. Mother. They are calling me Mother.

    The chant grew, spread, swelled. It swelled so loud that it frightened her horse, and the mare backed and shook her head and lashed her silver-grey tail. It swelled until it seemed to shake the yellow walls of Yunkai. More slaves were streaming from the gates every moment, and as they came they took up the call. They were running toward her now, pushing, stumbling, wanting to touch her hand, to stroke her horse’s mane, to kiss her feet. Her poor bloodriders could not keep them all away, and even Strong Belwas grunted and growled in dismay.

  • 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.”

A young girl was strapped to the sacrificial altar, straining and tugging at her bonds, a look of horror in her wide staring eyes. Now the chief of priests, a huge monster of a man with a brutal red slash for a mouth and two dark, piglike eyes, approached her. A long, gleaming, silver knife was in his hand, flashing with reflected torchlight.

  • Another Ice & Fire character I want to point out is Petyr Baelish. He fits the sacrificial, fiery zealot in Martinworld just as well as those like Daenerys, Cersei, Catelyn, etc. In his own home on the fingers (another nod back to the fiery fingers of the red god/Jon’s death) Petyr Littlefinger Baelish has Sansa in his grips, ready to place her on the sacrificial altar (Harry the Heir and maybe rape?). The altar and the hearth are synonymous with each other. Hearth fire = heart of the home. Altar’s in Martinworld include fire = the fiery heart of R’hllor. Both are a burning place.

A Storm of Swords – Sansa VI

Lord Petyr made a face. “Come, let’s see if my hall is as dreary as I recall.” He led them up the strand over rocks slick with rotting seaweed. A handful of sheep were wandering about the base of the flint tower, grazing on the thin grass that grew between the sheepfold and thatched stable. Sansa had to step carefully; there were pellets everywhere.

Within, the tower seemed even smaller. An open stone stair wound round the inside wall, from undercroft to roof. Each floor was but a single room. The servants lived and slept in the kitchen at ground level, sharing the space with a huge brindled mastiff and a half-dozen sheep-dogs. Above that was a modest hall, and higher still the bedchamber. There were no windows, but arrowslits were embedded in the outer wall at intervals along the curve of the stair. Above the hearth hung a broken longsword and a battered oaken shield, its paint cracked and flaking.

The device painted on the shield was one Sansa did not know; a grey stone head with fiery eyes, upon a light green field. “My grandfather’s shield,” Petyr explained when he saw her gazing at it. “His own father was born in Braavos and came to the Vale as a sellsword in the hire of Lord Corbray, so my grandfather took the head of the Titan as his sigil when he was knighted.”

Winds of Winter – Alayne (Sansa)

“And how was your first meeting with Harry the Heir?”

“He’s horrible.”

The world is full of horrors, sweet. By now you ought to know that. You’ve seen enough of them.”

“Yes,” she said, “but why must he be so cruel? He called me your bastard. Right in the yard, in front of everyone.”

“So far as he knows, that’s who you are. This betrothal was never his idea, and Bronze Yohn has no doubt warned him against my wiles. You are my daughter. He does not trust you, and he believes that you’re beneath him.”

“Well, I’m not. He may think he’s some great knight, but Ser Lothor says he’s just some upjumped squire.”

Petyr put his arm around her. “So he is, but he is Robert’s heir as well. Bringing Harry here was the first step in our plan, but now we need to keep him, and only you can do that. He has a weakness for a pretty face, and whose face is prettier than yours? Charm him. Entrance him. Bewitch him.”

“I don’t know how,” she said miserably.

“Oh, I think you do,” said Littlefinger, with one of those smiles that did not reach his eyes.

He halted and raised his eyes to the huge, towering image of the Demon Prince that loomed above the altar. “Saagael,” he intoned, his voice a deep, eerie whisper that chilled the blood. “Prince of Demons, Lord of Darkness, Monarch of the Netherworld, we summon thee. Soul-Destroyer, we, your followers, call. Hear us and appear. Accept our offer of the soul and spirit of this maiden!”

  • This altar seems to be doing double duty here. One one side we have Daenerys and her black ebony bench/altar where the bones of the young girl Hazzea were presented after the winged-shadow-demon-baby Drogon burned and devoured the girl, but on the other side we have the sacrifices in front of the trees as Bran sees in his flashback. We know Hazzea was just a young girl, but we do not know the circumstance of the sacrifice in front of the trees in Bran’s vision.

He lowered his eyes. The blade lifted slowly, began to descend. A hush came over the assemblage. The blade flashed silver. The girl screamed.

Then something caught the sleeve of the priest’s robe, bent his arm back with a wrench, and snapped it. A spectral figure glowed in front of the altar, and the night paled in the illumination of the green and gold interloper. Pale white fingers grasped the knife as it fell from the hand of the priest. Wordlessly, they lifted the slim blade and drove it down into the heart of the huge man. Blood flowed, a gasp shocked the silence, and the body fell to the floor.

As the intruder turned and calmly slit the bonds of the now fainted girl, everywhere cries of rage and fear went up among the people, followed by cries of “sacrilege,” and “Saagael, protect us!”

Then, as if a heavy cloud had drifted overhead, a great darkness came over the hall and, one by one, the torches winked out. Utter blackness flowed through the air, shimmered, and took shape. A cry of relief and triumph went up from the mortals present.

Scarlet fires flamed under the blackness inside the hood. “You have gone too far, spirit,” boomed the voice of the Demon Prince. “You attack the mortals who wisely choose to serve me, and for that you shall pay with your very soul!” The dark aura that surrounded the Lord of Corlos grew in strength, and pushed back the light that emanated from the muscular figure in green and gold.

“Shall I?” Doctor Weird replied. “I think not. You have witnessed but a small part of my power—I have more I have never shown you! You were born of darkness and death and blood, Saagael. You stand for all that is evil and foul-made-flesh. But I was created by the Will of Powers that dwarf you, that could destroy you with but a mere thought. I stand in defiance of you, those like you, and the vermin that serve you!”

  • A Clash of Kings – Daenerys II

    “Of whom?”

    “Of all. They shall come day and night to see the wonder that has been born again into the world, and when they see they shall lust. For dragons are fire made flesh, and fire is power.”

The light that surrounded the Golden Ghost blazed once more and filled the hall like a small sun, driving the inky blackness of the Demon Prince before it. It was as if, suddenly, the Lord of Corlos had felt his first twinge of doubt. But he rallied himself and, without deigning the use of further talk, raised a gloved hand. To it flowed the powers of darkness and death and fear. Then a massive bolt of black pulsating power streaked through the air, evil and unclean. Straight it flew, and fast.

The Golden Ghost stood his ground, hands on hips. The bolt struck him squarely, and light and darkness flashed for a moment. Then the light went out, and the figure fell quickly and soundlessly.

A horrible, mocking laughter filled the room, and Saagael turned to his worshippers. “Thus perish those who would defy the dark power, those who would oppose the will of …” He stopped. There was a look of total, awesome fear on the faces of his disciples, as they stared at something behind him. The Demon Prince whirled.

The golden figure was rising to his feet. The light blazed forth once more, and momentary fear smote the Lord of Corlos. But again he overcame his doubt, and again an awesome bolt of black power shot through the air, smashing into the advancing Doctor Weird. Again the Astral Avenger keeled over. An instant later, as Saagael watched in mounting horror, the figure rose once more. Silently, wordlessly, it strode toward him.

Panicking, Saagael smashed down the figure a third time. A third time it rose. A gurgle of horror went up from the crowd. The Golden Ghost advanced again toward the Demon Prince. Raising a glowing arm, at last he spoke. “Too bad, Saagael. I have withstood the best you could throw at me, and I still live. But now, Dark One, you shall feel my power!”

  • I speculate that Jon is not actually dead after his mutiny stabbing, just severely injured and taking a walk on the waters of his mind and connecting with Bran.

“N-NOOOOoooo,” a hideous shriek went through the hall. The figure of the Lord of Darkness shuddered, paled, and melted away into a great black cloud. The crack opened again above the ebony altar. Beyond it mists swirled, and things moved in an eternal night. The black cloud expanded, flowed to the crack, and was gone. An instant later the crack vanished.

  • A Game of Thrones – Daenerys X

    And there came a second crack, loud and sharp as thunder, and the smoke stirred and whirled around her and the pyre shifted, the logs exploding as the fire touched their secret hearts. She heard the screams of frightened horses, and the voices of the Dothraki raised in shouts of fear and terror, and Ser Jorah calling her name and cursing. No, she wanted to shout to him, no, my good knight, do not fear for me. 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.

    The third crack was as loud and sharp as the breaking of the world.

Doctor Weird turned to the mortals who filled the room, the shocked and broken servants of Saagael. A howl of fear went up and they fled screaming from the temple. Then the figure turned to the altar, shuddered, and fell. Something fluttered in the air above it, streaked across the room, and vanished into the shadows.

An instant later, a second Astral Avenger strode from the dark recesses, walked to the altar, and bent over the first. A spectral hand wiped a layer of white makeup from the fallen figure’s face. An eerie voice broke the silence. “He called you a shell—an empty thing—and he was right. By reverting to my ectoplasmic form and hiding my physical self in the shadows, I was able to wear you like a suit of clothing. He could not affect your corporeal body, so I left you just before his bolts struck, and got back in afterward. And it worked. Even he could be fooled, and frightened.”

Outside the sun was coming up in the east. In the interior of the grim sanctum, ebony benches and carved stairways rotted, decayed swiftly, and gave way to piles of dust. One thing, now, remained.

Doctor Weird rose and approached the black altar. Mighty hands gripped the great legs of the statue of Saagael, and rippling muscles strained. The statue toppled, and shattered. It fell, broken and smashed, near the empty hulk of the thing called Jasper, clad in a green and gold costume.

  • I will add that the way this green and gold clad Jasper was used reminds me of Renly’s Ghost, and how Garlan Tyrell wore his armor as vengence against Stannis at the Battle of Blackwater.

Doctor Weird surveyed the scene with an ironic smile flicking over his dead-white features. “Even after he had destroyed your mind and soul, it was a man who brought about the downfall of the Lord of Darkness.”

He lifted his eyes to the girl on the altar, now beginning to stir from the terror that had taken her consciousness. He approached her and said, “Do not be afraid of me. I will take you home now.”

  • I do not think Shireen will escape her flames to be carried off by a muscly hunk. Poor Shireen.

It was day outside. The shadow had lifted. The eternal night was over.


Only Kids are Afraid of the Dark; 1967

Martin, George R. R.. Dreamsongs: Volume I.  Random House Publishing Group. Illustration by Michael Wm Katula

Want more GRRMspreading?

I have a growing list here:

  1. Bitterblooms– In the dead of deep winter, a young girl named Shawn has to find the mental courage to escape a red fiery witch. Prototyping Val, Stannis, and Arya along with the red witch Melisandre.
  2. The Last Super Bowl– Football meets SciFi tech with plenty of ASOIAF carryover battle elements.
  3. Nobody Leaves New Pittsburg– first in the Corpse Handler trio, and sets a lot of tone for future ASOIAF thematics.
  4. Closing Time– A short story that shows many precursor themes for future GRRM stories, including skinchanging, Sneaky Pete’s, catastrophic long nights…
  5. The Glass Flower– a tale of how the drive for perfection creates mindlords and mental slavery.
  6. Run to Starlight– A tale of coexistence and morality set to a high stakes game of football.
  7. Remembering Melody– A ghost tale written by GRRM in 1981 that tells of long nights, bloodbaths, and pancakes.
  8. Fast-Friend transcribed and noted. Written in December 1973, this story is a precursor to skinchanging, Bran, Euron, Daenerys, and ways to scheme to reclaim lost love.
  9. The Steel Andal Invasion– A re-read of a partial section of  The World of Ice and Fire text compared to the story …And Seven Times Never Kill Man. This has to do with both fire and ice Others in ASOIAF.
  10. A Song for Lya– A novella about a psi-link couple investigating a fiery ‘god’. Very much a trees vs fire motif, and one of GRRM’s best stories out there.
  11. For A Single Yesterday– A short story about learning from the past to rebuild the future.
  12. This Tower of Ashes– A story of how lost love, mother’s milk, and spiders don’t mix all too well.
  13. A Peripheral Affair (1973)When a Terran scout ship on a routine patrol through the Periphery suddenly disappears, a battle-hungry admiral prepares to renew the border war.
  14. The Stone City– a have-not surviving while stranded on a corporate planet. Practically a GRRM autobiography in itself.
  15. Slide Show– a story of putting the stars before the children.
  16. Only Kids are Afraid of the Dark– rubies, fire, blood sacrifice, and Saagael- oh my!
  17. A Night at the Tarn House– a magical game of life and death played at an inn at a crossroads.
  18. Men of Greywater Station– Is it the trees, the fungus, or is the real danger humans?
  19. The Computer Cried Charge!– what are we fighting for and is it worth it?
  20. The Needle Men– the fiery hand wields itself again, only, why are we looking for men?
  21. Black and White and Red All Over– a partial take on a partial story.
  22. Fire & Blood excerpt; Alysanne in the north– not a full story, but transcribed and noted section of the book Fire & Blood, volume 1.

If you want to browse my own thoughts and speculations on the ASOIAF world using GRRM’s own work history, use the drop-down menu above for the most content, or click on the page that just shows recent posts -> Recent Posts Page.

Thank you for reading the jambles and jumbles of the Fattest Leech of Ice and Fire, by Gumbo!

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