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JON: As a boy looking out from my father's castle,
I thought the sun could never set on the North.
So vast did it seem.
A part of me still does.
The North is by far the largest of the Seven Kingdoms
and can fit the other six inside it.
Not that the others care.
Cold and damp, that's how the Southerners see the North.
But without the cold, a man can't appreciate the fire in his hearth.
Without the rain, a man can't appreciate the roof over his head.
Let the South have its sun, flowers and affectations.
We Northerners have home.
Mine was once Winterfell,
the ancient seat of my father's family, House Stark,
who have ruled the North since the First Men and were once the Kings of Winter.
Growing up, Lady Catelyn made sure I knew I wasn't a Stark,
no matter how much blood I shared with her trueborn children.
But where their name rules over the North, mine is the North.
Our land stretches from the Wall down to the Neck,
a narrow land that divides us from the rest of Westeros.
Legend has it that the Children of the Forest flooded it in their war against the First Men.
If that's true, every Northman owes them a debt of gratitude.
The swamps of the Neck are as good as the Wall
for keeping out unwelcome armies.
And if the swamps don't deter you, the crannogmen men should.
Small, shy people who rarely leave those swamps
and who follow House Reed,
the gatekeepers of the North
and among the most important and loyal bannermen of House Stark.
Also a bit strange.
I heard their oath of fealty once as a child.
It's like no other lords'.
Ancient and dark, they swear by earth and water,
by bronze and iron,
and by ice and fire.
Where House Reed holds the gate to the North,
House Manderly holds the port, White Harbor,
the closest thing to a Southern city we have
governed by the closest thing to a Southern family we have.
Generations ago, the Manderlys were driven from the Reach,
but the Starks gave them their land in return for featly.
Now White Harbor is the richest city of the North
and the Manderlys the richest family.
Not in gold and silver like their Southern counterparts,
but in fish, grain and trade.
As for the other great Northern Houses,
the Starks brought them into the fold during the Age of Heroes.
A Stark wrestled an ironborn for Bear Island and gave it to the Mormonts.
A Stark granted a keep and land to a younger son, Karlon,
in return for putting down a rebellion.
His family then grew up into the Karstarks.
Starks fought the wildlings and their kings beyond the Wall
beside the Umbers of Last Hearth,
thus earning their fealty.
Boltons, back then they were the bane of the North.
A few were even rumored to wear their enemies' flayed skins as cloaks.
But after centuries of war,
they too bent the knee.
And so House Stark became the Kings in the North
but never forgot that they weren't the North.
When Aegon and his dragons landed on Westeros,
the kings of the Rock and the Reach
sent all their men to die to defend their grounds.
Torrhen Stark knelt to spare his people the same fate.
He placed duty above pride.
Just as my brothers in the Night's Watch had done for thousands of years at the Wall.
Many think of it as the end of the world, but it's not.
I've seen other land stretch as much farther than any man knows
into the Land of Always Winter
where the White Walkers came from during the Long Night.
After the First Men and the Children of the Forest beat them back,
Brandon the Builder raised the Wall
and set up the Night's Watch to guard the realms of men.
He gave us our oath,
our castles and the Gift,
the lands behind the Wall whose farms and crops sustain us.
Southerners may now mock my black brothers
as thieves, rapers and worse.
And not without cause.
But the North remembers why we're there.
And if we fall, the South will get a very harsh,
and very cold reminder.
TYWIN: The Westerlands are all bounded by three natural defenses.
Mountain, sea and forest.
Necessary barriers when the land is as rich as ours.
From our mines come the gold and silver that fuel the rest of Westeros.
From Lannisport, our largest city,
come the most skillful gold and silversmiths in the land.
Yet, geography alone is not strength.
The Westerlands would've been sacked and pillaged for thousands of years,
if it hadn't been for the men who ruled it.
My family. House Lannister.
According to legend, we trace our descent to Lann the Clever.
A trickster of the Dawn Age,
who swindled the Casterlys out of Casterly Rock,
their ancient castle.
A childish story, but not without merit.
One, a mind can and should be a weapon in a man's arsenal.
Two, Lann must've been clever enough not to rely solely on his wits.
After all, where today is House Casterly?
Three, by keeping the Casterly name on the castle,
Lann reminded the world of the price of getting in his way.
The Reynes ignored all these lessons.
Not content with being the second richest family,
they sought to challenge the first. Mine.
My father had put up with their insults and disrespect.
When I came of age,
I led our army to teach them what they should've known.
Some people say I was too harsh.
That eradicating every member of their family was not necessary.
But now there are no bannermen as loyal to their lord
as the Westerlands to us.
If any lord bridles at our authority,
I have only to send a singer with a harp
and he falls back into line.
Because I will not have our lords squabble amongst themselves,
like the lords of the Riverlands,
or hide in their castles like the lords of the Vale,
each of our bannermen contributes a unique skill
that furthers the whole of the Westerlands.
House Clegane, because every lord needs a beast from time to time.
So, Gregor strikes terror into the hearts of our enemies
and our friends.
So too, does his disappointing brother, Sandor, the traitor.
House Payne, who provides us loyal servants.
Ser llyn Payne was once captain of my household guard,
until the Mad King heard him boast that I ran the Seven Kingdoms,
which I did.
The Mad King tore out Ser llyn's tongue.
Making him especially well-suited to later become the King's Justice.
Apparently, these days,
a younger Payne also serves my degenerate son, Tyrion.
House Lefford, who guards the Golden Tooth,
the eastern pass through the mountains,
and the all too frequent chaos of the Seven Kingdoms.
Though after Robb Stark's recent incursions, perhaps we need a new gatekeeper.
Fools look at the Westerlands and see gold.
Fools see our wealth and call it strength.
Gold is just another rock.
The Westerlands are strong because of House Lannister.
From strong leadership comes unity.
From unity comes power.
BLACKFISH: Men have fought over the Riverlands since the Dawn Age.
But that's to be expected of things that rest below the Neck.
It doesn't help that the Riverlands are between everything and everything else.
The Westerlands' gold, the Reach's grain,
the Vale's rock and the North's snow.
House Mudd once ruled as the kings of the rivers and hills.
But after a thousand years, their line was exhausted
and fell to the Storm Kings who fell to the ironborn.
I suppose after years of drowning at sea,
our rivers looked pretty attractive to that race of pirates and rapers.
Never mind that their monstrous castle, Harrenhal,
was too large to staff and garrison.
It turned out the ironborn wouldn't be there long enough to bother.
Aegon Targaryen landed to our south,
and as had many before him, liked the look of the Riverlands.
My ancestor, Edmyn Tully, led the desertion of riverlords to his cause.
And was rewarded by getting to watch King Harren burn in his own tower.
Unfortunately, that's not all Edmyn got.
House Tully was named the Lords Paramount of the Trident,
which means we had to keep in line all those lords
who hadn't governed themselves for thousands of years.
We were now responsible for aiding the Mallisters at Seagard
against the pouting ironborn whenever they got cheeky.
For settling Harrenhal on a family
stupid enough to think its curse would skip them
after devouring all previous families.
For keeping the Blackwoods and Brackens from wiping each other out.
And giving us two more castles to deal with.
For keeping the Freys in their place and out of others' pockets.
For marrying off our sons and daughters wisely enough
so we didn't follow House Mudd into...
Well, the mud.
Yet under the Targaryens, the Riverlands knew a peace we hadn't had for centuries,
But like all good things, sooner or later, it all goes to shit.
And our shit had a name.
Westerns has had 'ms share oi mad Hugs,
but usually they had the sense not to bully more than one powerful house at a time.
Aerys soon blundered into a triple alliance.
The North, Stormlands, and Vale rose against him.
But, of course, where do you think most of the blood was spilled?
My brother, Hoster, guaranteed the answer to that
with the marriage of my niece to Eddard Stark, the Warden of the North.
At least Hoster didn't send her to Robert.
So the Riverlands joined the war against the Mad King.
And it was on one of our rivers that Prince Rhaegar died,
sealing the fate of his dynasty.
Robert was a great soldier and a horrible king.
Drinking and whoring are their own brand of madness
when you sit on a throne that everybody wants.
He died and another war started.
Again the armies marched, again the Riverlands burned.
If Westeros isn't careful,
pretty soon our people will grow some sense and abandon this place for a safer realm.
Like the Dothraki Sea.
I joke, of course.
The Riverlands are our home and Gods help us, we love it.
Still, as they say, the king eats and the hand takes the shit.
The same is true of the Riverlands.
The Seven Kingdoms piss,
and the Riverlands change clothes.
BRIENNE: Tarth has lulled many a novice sailor into complacency.
Our lush island sits on calm, blue water like an emerald set into a sapphire.
You would never guess that such a vision is only the sheath
hiding the blade of Shipbreaker Bay,
with its treacherous tides, unpredictable gales,
and sharp rocks lurking just below the water's surface.
The storms that blow through the bay water the Kingswood and Rainwood,
two of the great forests of Westeros.
And they give the Stormlands their name.
Even without our weather, we have more than earned our name in strife.
The first Storm King, Durran,
started his reign by declaring war on the Gods themselves.
He loved the daughter of the sea god and the wind goddess,
but they forbade the union.
At their wedding, the Gods unleashed their might,
pulling down his hold and killing all of Durran's family and guests,
though his wife shielded him.
Durran vowed to rebuild.
And when he did, the Gods again destroyed his home.
His councilors begged him to retreat inland, but he would not abandon his wall.
Finally, with the counsel of the Children of the Forest,
or perhaps a young Bran the Builder,
Durran raised a seventh castle that, try as they might, and still do,
the wind and sea gods could not tear asunder.
Durran took the name Godsgrief, and called his new home Storm's End.
Having beaten the waters to the east,
the Storm Kings turned their gaze to more practical enemies,
the Reach, Riverlands and Dome.
For thousands of years, the Storm Kings fought the Gardener kings of the Reach,
and various families of Dorne for control of the Dornish Marches,
just below the Red Mountains.
The fighting didn't stop until Dorne married into the Seven Kingdoms,
a mere 100 years ago.
But still the houses of the Stormlands, such as the Dondarrions,
guard the Boneway, the mountain pass into the Marches,
against any Dornish incursion.
The Storm Kings had greater luck to their north, at first.
They took the Trident from the River Kings
and built an empire that stretched as far as the Neck.
But then the ironborn swarmed out of their islands
and pushed the Storm Kings out of the Riverlands.
No doubt, the ironborn intended to expand their empire into the Stormlands.
Before they had a chance, Aegon Targaryen landed with his dragons.
While Aegon burned the kings of the Iron Islands,
the Rock and the Reach,
his fiercest commander, and rumored bastard brother,
Orys Baratheon set out to subdue the Stormlands.
No matter how fierce a warrior he was, no one could've envied his task.
Storm's End had seen thousands of years of war and never fallen,
but Argilac, the Storm King,
chose not to barricade himself behind its walls,
and gave Orys the battle he must have hoped for.
Orys slew Argilac,
and took Argilac's castle, kingdom, daughter, sigil and House words.
House Baratheon became the Lord of the Stormlands.
Targaryen rule quieted the Stormlands for the most part.
Until Robert rebelled against the Mad King.
His first challenge came not from the crown, but from his own bannermen,
who tried to join forces against him.
Robert struck first, defeating three armies in a single day at Summerhall.
The victory cemented Robert's control of the Stormlands,
and he was able to march on the Reach and Riverlands,
with no enemy to his rear.
Yet, not all of Robert's bannermen sided with him.
Ser Barristan the Bold came from the Stormlands.
But as the pre-eminent member of Aerys' Kingsguard,
and greatest knight in the realm, Ser Barristan remained loyal.
After Robert's decisive victory on the Trident,
Robert sent his own maester to care for his countryman, Ser Barristan,
who had suffered grievous wounds whilst fighting so hard to kill him.
Later, when the Kingslayer betrayed Aerys,
Robert pardoned Ser Barristan, and even took him onto his own Kingsguard.
When Robert lifted Mace Tyrell's ill-managed siege of Storm's End
and returned to his ancestral home,
he realized the dream of all the Storm Lords before him.
To rule the Seven Kingdoms.
Then Robert died,
and his brother, Stannis, killed their other brother,
the noble King Renly, with black magic.
Now the Stormlands again live up to their name.
With so many houses burnt on the Blackwater,
and others currying favor with the Lannisters to seize the survivors' lands,
Renly could've saved us.
If only I could've saved him.
But I will teach Stannis a lesson
he should've learnt growing up in the Stormlands.
As lightning gives way to thunder,
so too, must murder lead to vengeance.
That's how the Vale sees itself.
Shielded from Westeros by its mountains.
They call the entrance to their lands the Bloody Gate
because during the Age of Heroes
a dozen armies supposedly smashed themselves against it.
Even if they'd gotten through,
the roads of the Vale are narrow, steep and treacherous.
Half the men would have slipped to their deaths
or frozen in the mountain snow.
Or so the common wisdom goes.
Except the Vale has been conquered.
Those vaunted mountains didn't stop the Andals who came by the Eastern Sea.
The people of the Vale say that Ser Artys Arryn, the Andal general,
flew on the back of a giant falcon
and slew the Griffin King on top of the tallest mountain.
During Aegon's conquest, one of his sisters did the same.
Flying a dragon over the Bloody Gate
and up to the Eyrie, the Arryn stronghold.
And the Arryn boy king yielded the Vale in return for a ride on the beast.
Do you sense the theme here?
The rationalizing of defeats
with mythical beasts and the whims of children
instead of acknowledging the root cause.
The arrogance of isolation.
The men of the Vale are so proud of their mountains
they can't abide any flaw in them.
As with the mountains, so too with their blood.
The first Andals landed in the Vale as its most powerful lords,
the Arryns, the Waynwoods, the Corbrays like to brag.
Through their veins runs the blood of the oldest Andal nobility in Westeros.
But through their brains runs an even older folly,
that blood matters.
If it did, those pure born lords
should have been able to exterminate the hill tribes centuries ago.
But those primitive raiders,
whose tribes more resemble kennels than families,
continue to plague the Vale.
Even kidnapping an Arryn once.
Until Tyrion Lannister, an outsider,
no Vale lord ever thought to turn the tribes to the Vale's advantage.
That a desperate war-like people could be useful,
not to mention inexpensive.
But perhaps the Vale lords consider such thoughts beneath them.
After all, the Vale's isolation does breed an abundance of honor and pious bleating,
which governs their decisions instead of foresight.
Like a blind man who can only guess where his horse is taking him.
I doubt Jon Arryn had even prepared for civil war when he raised his banners
instead of handing over his young wards
Ned Stark and Robert Baratheon to the Mad King.
Honor demanded and Lord Arryn obeyed.
He'd have done the same if the boys hadn't been the lords of two great houses
who could field mighty armies of their own.
But perhaps I give him too little credit.
After all, if the war went against them,
only Lord Arryn had a nice, impregnable castle to retreat into.
And he was wise enough to take poor Lysa Tully into his bed
to win the Riverlands as allies.
Jon Arryn won. Then Jon Arryn died.
Wisely, the Vale stayed out of all the ensuing chaos.
Its crops did not burn or wither in the fields from lack of men to tend them.
Its strength was not drained by forced marches
to futile skirmishes.
In the Vale life proceeds as it always has.
A world of high honor undisturbed by armies
and men of low birth but high ambition.
MARGAERY: The Reach is aptly named.
We're the ones who give your hands something to do at the table.
As the most fertile region of the Seven Kingdoms,
we grow the lion's share of the grains and fruit that feed this country.
Especially now, since the rebels have burned down the other fields.
Thankfully, House Tyrell is here to do its duty to the Crown
and keep the capital from starvation.
Yet, as with all gardens, weeds grow in the Reach, too,
though few name them as such.
Singers fill our heads with chivalry and courtly love,
fluff to make boys fight and girls swoon.
Oh, the songs are good enough for a pleasure barge down the Mander.
They give pleasure to the common people and harmony to the realm.
But if the rise of House Tyrell proves anything,
it's that virtue and honor have their place.
And if you're not careful, that place is the grave.
Unlike the Lannisters, Starks and Arryns,
we were never kings in our own right.
House Gardener ruled the Reach since the Dawn Age.
And we were their stewards.
While they warred to enrich their already rich domain,
we managed their castle of Highgarden.
But then Aegon Targaryen landed with his dragons.
Nobody knows why the Gardener king took the field against him.
Anyone could see that a man who grows flowers
should beware a man who grows fire-breathing monsters.
But maybe it wasn't wholly his idea.
Maybe someone whispered in his ear about all the face he'd lose
with the other six kings if he stayed home.
The rest is history.
The last Gardener king lost his face.
Along with this body.
And his steward, Harlen Tyrell, promptly yielded Highgarden to Aegon.
My grandmother swears that Harlen was like most of our men
and grew up banging steel together too loudly for thought to penetrate.
But, luckily, his wife had better sense.
Whatever the case, in return for Harlen's show of sense,
Aegon proclaimed House Tyrell the Lords of the Reach
and Wardens of the South,
passing over all the other houses with better claims.
House Hightower, who were kings before the Andals came,
their seat is the oldest city in Westeros.
They call it Oldtown.
Wealthy, proud and solitary,
there have been Hightowers
who wouldn't come down from their great lighthouse for decades.
Its name, fittingly, is the Hightower.
House Florent, who had actual blood ties to the Gardeners,
they whinge about their ancient rights to Highgarden every once in a while,
and now that their daughter is married to Stannis Baratheon,
about their rights to all of Westeros, too.
Apparently, putting a fox on your banners doesn't impart a fox's wiles.
House Tarly, who still gives the Reach the best soldiers it has,
if Aegon had named them as his lords,
the Reach would have become the greatest military camp in the world.
Until it starved to death.
The price for conscripting all the farmers.
Yet Aegon chose us.
Centuries later, when his descendant, Aerys, faced rebellion,
the Reach stayed loyal.
My father, Mace, dealt Robert his only defeat in the war.
Even if it was my father's vanguard who did most of the fighting before he arrived.
After the Battle of Ashford, we laid siege to Storm's End, Robert's home.
Unfortunately, the war ended before we could take it
and free up our armies to go save the king.
The new king, Robert, had a forgiving nature.
Our crimes were brushed aside without even one execution for the sake of formality.
Our family was surprised.
Until Robert's new Hand, Jon Arryn, came by with the bill.
The Reach is second only to the Westerlands in wealth.
And Robert meant to spend as much of it as he could get his hands on.
We gave him the coins he wanted.
And later, when he wanted our grain, or fruit, or wine,
he gave them back at whatever price we set.
Now much of Westeros is ashes.
The rest of it is armies.
As the Starks are fond of saying, "Winter is coming."
And for leagues outside the capital, there isn't a harvest to be seen.
Have no fear. The Reach is, as always, bountiful.
House Tyrell will manage the harvest
and keep the Seven Kingdoms from starvation,
like the good stewards we once were.
Just ask House Gardener.
JORAH: When the Doom claim Valyria
The great freehold fractured into warring cities and upstart nations.
Ripe for the taking.
Out of these swarmed, The Dothraki
The Horse Lords of the plains who feared only Defeat and Dragons
and now the dragons were all gone.
Under The Great Khal Temmo,
they sacked and burned every town and city in their path.
No army could stand against them
because the Dothraki do not stand.
The Horse Lords do not draw up battle lines or
hide behind shield hoards or layer themselves in Armor.
The Dothraki charged,
their blades are more scythes than swords.
and better to call the infantry ranks without breaking stride
even their archers fire from horse back.
so that advancing or retreating,
The Arrows never cease.
To The Dothraki a man who does not ride is no man at all
without honor or pride.
When the city of Qohor realize Khal Temmo was coming
they strengthened their walls, doubled the roam guards
and hired two full companies of sellswords.
The Dothraki were used to glorified farmers with spears
Qohor would show them a proper army.
With mounted an armored cavalry to match the odd zone.
As an afterthought the city leaders sent an envoy to Astaphor to buy
The slavers are always claimed that the unsullied
with a great Ghiscari Legions come again.
The dragon burned ruins of Old Ghis were a stark reminder that the age of the foot
soldier was over.
The envoy had his orders however and quickly bought 3,000
Unsullied for the long march back.
For Unsullied do not ride,
but while they marched
Khal Temmo arrived at Qohor,
I can imagine how pleased the Khal was to finally face a challenge.
By the end of the battle crows and wolves
feasted on what remained of Qohors heavy horses.
All the sellswords had fled.
Qohor knew that The Dothraki would very soon break through the gates
to rape, slave and burn at their pleasure.
Yet the next day Khal Temmo woke to find before the gates
3,000 units in formation, armed with only Spears,
shields and spiked helms. The Unsullied did slip past the Khal's army in the night
while The Dothraki feasted.
Khal Temmo had many times their number
and could easily had flanked the small force.
But to The Dothraki man on foot are fit only to be Ridden Down.
18 times the Horse Lords charged
and 18 times The Unsullied locked their shields,
load their spears and held the line against twenty thousand of Dothraki screamers.
When the Khal's archer's rain arrows on them
The Unsullied lifted their shields above their heads until the school past
and then they held the line.
In the end only six hundred Unsullied remain
but more than 12,000 Dothraki laid dead.
Including Khal Temmo and all his son.
The New Khal led the survivors past the city gates
where one by one each man cut off his braid
and threw it down before the feet of The Unsullied.
Defeated and Shamed forever. Since that day
The Unsullied fill the ranks of cities and households wealthy enough
or desperate enough.
Sellsword fight for Gold,
Knights for Glory and Dothraki for Blood.
To a man The Unsullied fight only to obey.
With the right master over them
Imagine how the forces of chaos would break against their shields,
The Conquerers, The Mad Men,
JORAH: Valyria was not the first to conquer the world.
In the dawn of days, the city of Ghis opened its gates
and poured forth its legions across the continent of Essos.
With their lockstep discipline and absolute obedience,
they ground entire nations beneath their boots
and planted the Harpy in every corner of the known world.
What they didn't destroy, they chained.
Slavery is as old as man, but until the Ghiscari it was never an art.
The slave lords grew rich and fat as pyramids were raised around them,
pleasure houses were filled and fighting pits were opened.
Nobody remembers if the waters around Ghis had names before the Empire.
But ever since, we know them only as Slaver's Bay
and the Gulf of Grief.
Of Ghis, however, nothing remains but ruins.
Where end all great civilizations.
Five thousand years ago, Valyrian shepherds stumbled on strange eggs.
And within a few generations,
an upstart Valyrian Freehold rose across the sea.
Five times did the Ghiscari contend with Valyria,
and five times did they go down in defeat
for the Freehold had dragons and the Empire had none.
The best of their legions burned, the others broke.
The brick walls of Ghis were pulled down, their streets and buildings turned to ash
and their very fields sown with salt, sulfur and skulls.
Yet the Empire was not wholly destroyed.
Astapor, Yunkai, and Meereen,
once lowly colonies along Slaver's Bay, survived.
And even thrived.
Valyria had watched the Ghiscari grow rich and powerful
off the backs of conquered peoples,
and now the self-styled Freehold wanted its turn.
While the dragon lords brought the world to heel,
the slave markets of their former enemy never lacked for flesh.
Lamenting the lost Empire,
the descendants of Old Ghis grew rich and fat.
The Doom fell on Valyria
and the Dothraki rose to pillage most of the continent at will.
But gold-laden Astapor, Yunkai, and Meereen
continue as they have for thousands of years.
For even the Horselords understand what the Ghiscari taught Valyria so long ago.
What good are slaves without slavers?
THOROS: I was born youngest of eight in Myr across the Narrow Sea.
So my father gave me over to the Red Temple.
In their wisdom, they decided to make me a priest
instead of a warrior or a temple prostitute like other children.
It was not the path I would have chosen.
Sure, I prayed the prayers and I spoke the spells,
but I also led raids on the kitchens.
And from time to time, they found girls in my bed.
Such wicked girls.
I never knew how they got there.
Then again I did have a gift for tongues.
And when I gazed into the flames, well, from time to time I saw things.
Even so, I was more bother than I was worth.
When the High Priest foresaw Robert's ascension,
he sent me to turn the Storm Lord to the Lord of Light.
When Robert seized his crown,
we'd take all of Westeros from the Seven in a single stroke.
Perhaps they thought Robert would listen to a kindred spirit.
Or perhaps celibacy had addled the High Priest's brain.
I didn't know, and didn't care.
I was free.
I did my duty as I saw it.
Drinking and whoring and waving my sword around,
the only gods Robert cared about anyway.
Years passed, Robert became King, I became a joke.
We both became fat.
I even won some glory in Greyjoy's rebellion.
First through the breach and all that. (CHUCKLES)
It's amazing what boldness a full bladder can inspire.
But Robert had stopped listening to my sermons a long time ago.
Even if I'd still bothered to give them.
Then came Robert's death and the war.
I'm not speaking of those brats squabbling over the world's pointiest chair.
Powers long asleep are waking and moving through the land.
I've seen them in my flames.
Shit, I've seen them with my own two eyes.
The Lord of Light is real.
And if he's real, then all of it is real.
Man once again faces the war for the Dawn which has been waged since time began.
On one side is the Lord of Light, the Heart of Fire,
the God of Flame and Shadow.
Against him stands the Great Other whose name may not be spoken.
The Lord of Darkness, the Soul of Ice,
the God of Night and Terror.
According to prophecy, our champion will be reborn
to wake dragons from stone
and reforge the great sword, Lightbringer,
that defeated the darkness those thousands of years ago.
If the old tales are true,
a terrible weapon forged with the lifeblood of a loving wife's heart.
Part of me thinks man was well rid of it.
But great power requires great sacrifice.
That much, at least, the Lord of Light is clear on.
I sound like a dried out old woman, I know.
But as our former Hand liked to say,
"Winter is coming."
When the cold winds rise, all men,
no matter their faith or lack of it,
huddle beside my night fires.
And I pray the prayers and speak the spells
and beseech the Lord of Light to bring back the Dawn.
So far so good.
But reprobate as I am, I can't help but wonder
what will happen if, one day,
our Lord does not answer.
Imagine a night that goes on forever.
So dark and full of terrors.
I think I need another drink.
JOFFREY: Mine. That's what the Red Keep is.
The smallfolk say its color comes from the blood Aegon spilled to win his crown.
Blood doesn't soak into stone, no matter how hard I try.
Aegon built his castle of red rock
to remind people of the fires he'd roasted his enemies in.
So whenever King's Landing looked up, they'd see the price of defiance.
He knew the first rule of kings.
Only fear keeps men in line.
Fear and punishment.
A lesson he taught his son, Maegor.
When the builders finally finished the Red Keep,
Maegor executed them all to keep its secrets safe.
Rumor has it, miles of hidden passageways
run behind the walls and under the floors.
One day, I'll have to find them.
Traitors and women work in shadows.
A king has no need for secrecy.
Now, people named Maegor "the Cruel."
But I doubt any dared in his day.
His strength was all too rare in the degenerate Targaryen blood.
The simpering Baelor the Blessed
created the Maidenvault to imprison his own sisters,
and save himself from carnal thoughts.
Though, I admit a Princevault could be amusing,
when Tommen bores me.
My favorite place in the Red Keep?
There are so many.
The Traitor's Walk, where I mount the heads of my enemies.
It's a shame flesh rots so slowly.
I've almost run out of spikes.
The dungeons are also quite nice once you get past the first two levels,
a stable for common criminals and private cells for useful highborns.
How boring, I know.
But then, you come to the black cells.
No windows. No torches.
Just darkness, and whatever you hear in there with you.
Here we keep the greatest traitors, until the king is ready for them.
And with these,
I often like to take my time.
But I've heard rumors of an even lower, hidden level,
Once a man was taken here,
he never saw the sun again, nor heard a human voice,
nor breathed a breath free of agonizing pain.
Varys must know the way, but that overgrown girl pretends not to.
Maybe he fears I'll make him a victim.
Maybe I will.
Then again, torture chambers are just so private.
Better to punish your enemies where everyone can see and remember.
Like that Targaryen who forced his nephew to watch
as he fed the boy's traitor mother to a dragon.
Oh, what I could do with a dragon.
Even Aerys, fool as he was, knew to burn men alive with an audience
to spread the terror far and wide across his kingdoms.
Of course, I know my favorite place now.
When I sit on the Iron Throne,
high in the Red Keep, all of Westeros scuttles below me,
like insects waiting for my heel to land.
BRAN: Growing up, my sister Sansa loved stories with princesses and knights.
But I always wanted to be scared.
When my turn came, I would ask Old Nan to tell us of magic and monsters.
Long ago, when the world was new,
the Children of the Forest sang the song of the earth,
and the earth listened.
Magic was strong in those days
and the Children could commune
with all the beasts of the forests, streams and air.
The greatest of them could even leave their bodies
to hunt, swim and fly in the skins of animals.
They were the first wargs.
Then, the First Men came with fire and sword.
They burned the weirwoods and cut down the Children.
Calling on dark magic, the Children raised the sea
and shattered the land bridge that the First Men had crossed into Dorne.
When that failed, the Children brought down the hammer of waters upon the Neck,
flooding and transforming it into the bog it is today.
After peace came, the two races shared the land
and the Children's gods for thousands of years.
Now comes the good part.
Nobody knows how, or why,
but the magic of the Children began to emerge in men.
Maybe one child in a thousand would be born a warg.
Fewer still would be born with the sight.
Old Nan would not speak of it.
And Maester Luwin never believed in it.
But with it, the Children could know of events far away
and even those still to come.
Some say the sight was the Children's most powerful and terrible secret.
It helped turn the tide during the long night.
Magic has since fled our world.
Among the small folk,
any child suspected of being a warg will be left out to die.
Beyond the Wall, though,
a careless hunter might still find his prey has claws and teeth
and a man's mind to guide them,
for the wildlings have a different idea of monsters.
But even wildlings keep their distance from a warg
because, and here Old Nan would lean in close and whisper,
"How can you tell if the man is wearing the beast
"or the beast is wearing the man?"
Now Old Nan has no more tales.
And Maester Luwin will never scoff again.
I don't like scary stories anymore.
Because I'm in one.
VARYS: For 300 years, the Targaryen dynasty ruled Westeros.
Wars were still fought.
Homes still burned and men still died.
But compared to the chaos of what came before,
the realm was stable.
LITTLEFINGER: And boring.
The Targaryens lied, thieved and killed as much as other lords.
They just had dragons to answer all complaints.
Until they didn't.
When the last dragon died,
it was only a matter of time before the Targaryens followed.
VARYS: By only, you mean another century?
LITTLEFINGER: Which they wasted trying to replace their lost advantage.
Incinerating their own palaces to hatch dragon eggs,
drinking wildfire to become dragons,
and let's not forget the Mad King's favorite, burning men alive,
so he could pretend to be a dragon.
VARYS: We urged Aerys to pardon Brandon Stark.
The boy had threatened Prince Rhaegar,
but Rhaegar had stolen the boy's sister.
And the boy was the eldest son of our Warden of the North.
LITTLEFINGER: Who's the greater fool?
A mad king or the man who reasons with him?
Aerys saw knives in every shadow.
When you told him to treat the Starks with caution, you made him afraid.
And what he feared, he killed.
VARYS: I wouldn't have thought you of all people would bother with recriminations
for Brandon's death, Lord Baelish.
Not after your, shall we call it, duel with him.
LITTLEFINGER: Brandon was as arrogant as he was stupid,
like his father, Lord Stark, who answered Aerys' summon to the capital.
They earned their fates.
But the younger son, Ned, what was his crime
that Aerys ordered his death as well?
VARYS: Unlike men, families don't die when you lop off their head.
LITTLEFINGER: At the very least, you should have pointed out
that loyal and dutiful Ned was living with Jon Arryn,
a proud and over righteous lord
with an impregnable castle and no sons of his own.
Perhaps you could have spared Aerys the embarrassment of revolt.
VARYS: If only we'd had the foresight to consult you, Lord Baelish.
But I suppose first we would have had to know who you were.
LITTLEFINGER: Nobody knew Robert Baratheon either.
Yet he claimed the right to sit on the Iron Throne.
VARYS: He had Targaryen blood through his mother.
LITTLEFINGER: A pretty dress for an ugly truth.
It was war and he could swing a hammer harder than the other options.
When did you know you'd lost, Lord Varys?
VARYS: When Robert Baratheon killed Prince Rhaegar on the Trident.
You lost the war when you let Ned Stark slip back into the North.
Neither the bloody gate to the Vale,
nor Moat Cailin in the North have ever fallen.
They could have held out for years even if you'd killed Robert.
But you let him slip through your fingers as well.
VARYS: I told the court that Robert was hiding in the stony Sept,
but the Hand of the King wasted too much time searching the city.
Something about the glory of single combat.
Then Ned Stark's army arrived to save the day.
LITTLEFINGER: Too bad Lord Tywin wasn't Hand any longer.
He would have simply razed the town and been done with it.
And perhaps the rebels would have found
even more of the countryside flocking to their banners.
LITTLEFINGER: I'd almost forgotten.
You weren't always so loyal to the Lannisters during the war.
VARYS: I did my duty to the realm.
When Lord Tywin showed up at King's Landing professing loyalty,
I warned Aerys not to open the gates.
Prince Rhaegar was dead, our armies scattered.
The lion does not stir unless he smells meat.
LITTLEFINGER: I admire your powers of persuasion, Lord Varys.
Few could traffic in so many secrets to so little avail.
VARYS: Grand Maester Pycelle told Aerys what he wanted to hear.
That his old friend, Tywin, was there to save him.
LITTLEFINGER: Then Aerys' old friend sacked the city
and his son stabbed Aerys in the back.
VARYS: A regrettable, though necessary, action.
LITTLEFINGER: As were the pardons the new King Robert bestowed on the royalists,
Mace Tyrell, Barristan Selmy, you.
VARYS: King Robert wisely chose order over vengeance.
LITTLEFINGER: Jon Arryn wisely chose for Robert.
But Jon Arryn died. Then Robert.
So ended their glorious revolution.
VARYS: And Westeros has been burning ever since.
LITTLEFINGER: Let it.
VARYS: How Targaryen of you.
One of the mad ones.
LITTLEFINGER: Fire turns even the proudest oaks to ash,
leaving newer roots space to climb.
MEERA: Mud men.
Those are just the most pleasant names our fellow Northerners have for us.
The crannogmen who live in the swamps of the Neck.
Because we do not live in castles like them.
Because we do not farm like them.
Because we are not tall or rich like them.
But through our veins flows the same blood of the First Men,
and at times, maybe something more.
We still live much as they did,
on floating islands in houses of thatch and woven reeds.
We fish, hunt, and tell our children of our heroes.
The Knight of the Laughing Tree who fought in the year of the false spring.
The last Marsh King, who challenged the Starks,
and lost his crown and his daughter.
And other stories, older still, since lost to the world.
The Neck was not always a swamp.
In the Dawn Age, it was as dry and fertile as the rest of the North.
But, during the war with the First Men,
the Children of the Forest brought down the hammer of waters on the Neck
trying to break Westeros in two.
When the waters finally receded,
they left the bogs and swamps we know today.
- Many of the First Men decided to fight on. -(CRICKETS CHIRPING)
But my ancestors wisely chose to heed the Children's power and advance no farther.
They beat their swords into frog spears and fishhooks,
and settled the land forever devastated by the folly of war.
Unlike the rest of Westeros,
we keep no garrisons and raise no soldiers for petty spats with our neighbors.
Our land protects its own.
An outsider will find in the Neck an endless morass of suck-holes, quicksand,
and green grass that looks solid to the unwary eye,
but turns to water the instant you tread on it.
If you're lucky enough to be armored, you'll only drown inside your own steel.
If you're not, you get to meet what swims in that water.
Serpents and monstrous lizard-lions
with teeth like daggers and never enough to eat.
Only your horse will live long enough to feel their poisons burning through it.
If you somehow survive all this,
you may find that a well-placed dart can be as deadly as any blade.
Not that you'll see us blowing it your way.
Since the fall of the last Marsh King, House Reed has ruled the Neck
beneath the banner of a black lizard-lion on a gray-green field.
We are not wealthy, powerful, or known, even to our own countrymen.
Our home, Greywater Watch, is no castle you've ever seen.
And seeing it once does not mean you'll ever find it again.
For Greywater Watch moves.
Many would-be conquerors have died trying to find us.
With war all around and our Stark Lord besieged on all sides,
many more will doubtless soon try.
They will look at us on a map and see a stranglehold for the North.
And they will forget that the sea itself once entered the Neck,