(old version) The Bloodstone Emperor Azor Ahai

Hello friends, if you’ve found your way to this essay, it’s from an old link. Why not read the new version, which is also a podcast? If you haven’t read or listened to part one, you might want to try that one first.  Thanks and enjoy!

Astronomy Theory in an Eggshell

Let’s start by reviewing what we think we know so far.  In Astronomy Explains the Legends of Ice and Fire, I proposed that the Long Night was the result of celestial catastrophe – a comet striking a formerly existent second moon, that moon exploding in the sky and raining down fiery meteors on the planet, and the resulting debris clouding the atmosphere and blocking out the sun.

In addition, there were likely magical elements at play – the comet seems to be magical in nature, and perhaps the moon as well. Much like the Doom of Valyria, the Long Night disaster was a magically-infused version of a natural catastrophe which has left behind lasting and significant magical fallout. The unbalanced and irregular seasons are the result of this cataclysm disrupting the balance of magic and even nature itself. Indeed, it seems apparent that in the world of A Song of Ice and Fire, the forces of nature are themselves magical. Whether it’s the sacred volcanic fires of the “fourteen flames” of Valyria or the dragonglass, whether it’s the eternal weirwood trees or the terrifying Heart of Winter itself, we see that various parts of nature can be sources of magical energy. Nature and magic go hand in hand, inextricably intertwined, twin threads that form the weave of the very universe. A disruption to one seems to be a disruption to the other, just as it was with the Doom. The Long Night was a multiple-disaster compound cataclysm on magical steroids, and it left such a mark on the planet that its seasons have been all screwed up ever since.

The Bloodstone Compendium

Chapter 1: Astronomy Explains the Legends of Ice and Fire
        Bonus: Lucifer Means Lightbringer

Chapter 2, pt 1: The Bloodstone Emperor Azor Ahai
        Bonus: Fingerprints of the Dawn

Scattered memories of this celestial moon cataclysm can be found lurking within the folds of the myths, legends, and folktales of the story, disguised in the mist of centuries gone by. Yet they are not unrecognizable if we know how to look; if we know how to translate the language of the “Bard’s truth.” I have found several ancient A Song of Ice and Fire myths which I believe are telling different parts of the same story, like multiple witnesses to a complex crime scene who all saw a different piece of the action. Chief among these are the two myths which involve a cracking of the moon: the Qarthine “origin of dragons” story and the legend of the forging of Lightbringer.

Most people are familiar with the Azor Ahai / Lightbringer story, but I’ll quote the final portion just to refresh our memory. This is Salladhor Saan talking to Davos in A Clash of Kings:

A hundred days and a hundred nights he labored on the third blade, and as it glowed white-hot in the sacred fires, he summoned his wife. ‘Nissa Nissa,’ he said to her, for that was her name, ‘bare your breast, and know that I love you best of all that is in this world.’ She did this thing, why I cannot say, and Azor Ahai thrust the smoking sword through her living heart. It is said that her cry of anguish and ecstasy left a crack across the face of the moon, but her blood and her soul and her strength and her courage all went into the steel. Such is the tale of the forging of Lightbringer, the Red Sword of Heroes.

..And now the slightly less famous Quarthine tale of the lunar origin of dragons, relayed to Daenerys by her handmaiden Doreah in A Game of Thrones:

“A trader from Qarth once told me that dragons came from the moon,” blond Doreah said as she warmed a towel over the fire ….

Silvery-wet hair tumbled across her eyes as Dany turned her head, curious. “The moon?”

“He told me the moon was an egg, Khaleesi,” the Lysene girl said.

“Once there were two moons in the sky, but one wandered too close to the sun and cracked from the heat. A thousand thousand dragons poured forth, and drank the fire of the sun. That is why dragons breathe flame. One day the other moon will kiss the sun too, and then it will crack and the dragons will return.”

The two Dothraki girls giggled and laughed. “You are foolish strawhead slave,” Irri said. “Moon is no egg. Moon is god, woman wife of sun. It is known.”

“It is known,” Jhiqui agreed.

We can square these two stories as really being the same story if we draw the following correlations:

Lightbringer, the bloody & flaming sword = a “fiery” red comet

Nissa Nissa, the blood sacrifice = the second moon

Azor Ahai, the warrior of fire = the sun

The sun and moon are husband and wife, just as Azor Ahai and Nissa Nissa were, while comets can be perceived as dragons or flaming swords. Therefore, the celestial version of Azor Ahai stabbing his wife with a sword would be the sun striking his lunar wife with a fiery comet. Because I believe that the Qarthine legend describes a moon in eclipse formation – it is said to have “wandered too close to the sun” – the comet would have appeared to have been sticking out like a sword from the sun-moon conjunction, a fiery sword wielded by the solar king against his moon queen.

It would also look a bit like a sperm fertilizing an egg, and that is indeed another connotation of this combined myth: besides being perceived as the sun’s sword, the comet can also be seen as his fiery seed… dragon seed, to be specific.  The moon is an egg and the wife of the sun, after all, and she gives birth to dragons after being impregnated by the Lightbringer comet.

eclipse comets

The Qarthine tale tells us what happened to the moon after it cracked open: dragons burst forth and drank the fire of the sun.  Of course in the language of myth-speak, describing falling meteors as dragons is only about a several-thousand year old idea.  Any kind of moon-cracking or moon-exploding would certainly result in meteors falling into the planet’s atmosphere, so it’s a pretty short intuitive leap to understand that what poured forth from the dying moon was actually a storm of fiery meteors, or if you prefer, a storm of flaming swords.  The moon is described as an egg from which the dragons were born, so consider the moon to be a mother who died in childbirth.  Compare this to the Lightbringer legend, which has a flaming sword as the product of the moon-maiden’s sacrifice, and we see that the stories match.  A moon maiden dies, and either fiery dragon meteors or flaming swords are born.

We supported the above conclusions by comparing this unified myth to the scene in which Daenerys walks in the funeral pyre of Khal Drogo and wakes her dragon children from stone eggs, a scene which I like to refer to as the Alchemical Wedding of Daenerys Targaryen.  Dany is the “moon of Khal Drogo’s life,” and he her “sun and stars,” so the relationship here is clear.  She receives her dragon’s eggs on the day of her wedding (and copulation) with Khal Drogo, recreating the sun’s insemination of the moon with dragon seed, and when moon-maiden Daenerys ‘wanders too close to the sun’s fire’ by walking into Drogo’s pyre, the eggs crack open just as the second moon did, thereby making Dany the mother of dragons, just as the moon was.  The Lightbringer comet which cracked the moon is symbolized by Khal Drogo’s flaming lash which appears to crack open the first egg, while Dany’s dragon children represent the dragon meteors which poured forth from the moon.

I’d like to hone in on the family portrait being painted here.  The sun and moon both die in the process of creating a child, but that child is both of his parents “reborn,” just as every child is a version of their father and mother, a mixture of the two.   This child of sun and moon is Lightbringer – to put this in internet theory speak, the equation is: “sun + moon = lightbringer.”

The next detail that needs recapping is the notion of the comet having split in half as it rounded the sun, before impacting with the second moon.  The best metaphorical example of this in the text was the splitting of Ice (symbolizing the comet) in half by Tywin, the head lion of Lannister (symbolizing the sun), to produce two red and black swords.  This is important because it appears that only one half of the split comet impacted with the moon, while the second half streaked by along a slightly different trajectory.  The comet that missed would seem to emerge from the other side of the moon explosion intact, like a flaming sword emerging from the heart of a dying moon maiden.  The surviving comet seems to have been transformed to a red color by this explosion, and this would be the same red comet that we see in the main story, notably at the moment when Dany burns Khal Drogo and wakes the dragons.  What I am trying to say is that two kinds of flaming sword / dragon meteors emerged from the moon explosion: one big red comet which flew away into space along its orbit, and a thousand thousand flaming meteors which fell to earth.  Both are the offspring of the sun and moon, and both represent Lightbringer.  If we want to be more specific, we might say that the surviving comet half is Azor Ahai reborn, while the dragon meteors are the dragons which are woken from stone, or that they are Azor Ahai’s sword, his Lightbringer.  Reborn Azor Ahai’s flaming sword and his dragons woken from stone are essentially an extension of himself (or herself), just as the comet is seen as an extension of the sun which carries the sun’s fire.  As Dany thinks to herself about Drogon in A Dance with Dragons, “He is fire made flesh, she thought, and so am I.”  They are one in the same, of the same nature.  He is her mount and her shadow, a part of her, just as Ghost is said to be a part of Jon, his pale shadow.

Daenerys plays two roles: first, she plays the Nissa Nissa “moon mother” role, being burnt in the sun’s fire and symbolically dying to birth dragons.  But she is then reborn in the fire, and wakes dragons from stone – clearly, she is now playing the role of Azor Ahai reborn, who wakes dragons from stone.    But Azor Ahai reborn is also Nissa NIssa reborn – and that’s how we should think of Dany’s astronomical correlations.   First she is the moon, and then she is reborn as the red comet, the “last dragon,” as it is said many times.  This makes perfect sense because when the second moon exploded, its essence went into the two manifestations of Lightbringer in the sky which we have discussed, making them  reborn versions of the moon.  The thousand dragon meteors were pieces of the moon itself, burning with the sun’s fire; while the comet, emerging red from the other side of the moon explosion, should be seen as having been coated in the moon’s “blood,” just as Azor Ahai’s red sword drank Nissa Nissa’s blood and soul.  Dany correlates to the surviving half of the comet, Azor Ahai reborn, while her dragons symbolize the thousand thousand dragon meteor shower, the dragons woken from stone.  

In other words, to the extent that Dany is a manifestation of Azor Ahai reborn, the dragons are her Lightbringer, as many have suggested.  However, there are other manifestations of this entire pattern involving other characters, which means that Daenerys is not the only incarnation of reborn Azor Ahai, and her dragons are likely not the only manifestation of Lightbringer.  Jon Snow fans needn’t fear – we’re going to talk a bit about Jon in just a second.

The last item to recap, and the one we are really going to dig into in this essay, is the nature of Lightbringer and Azor Ahai.  We examined several things in the last essay which represent Lightbringer, the offspring of sun and moon, and all of them are associated with blood, flame, shadow, and death:

  • actual dead baby Rhaego – a dead lizard-baby stinking of the grave
  • a dream version of Rhaego which is consumed by fire and breathes fire like a dragon
  • the black dragon covered in blood in Dany’s dream & living Drogon
  • the scarlet and “black as a midnight sea” dragon’s egg
  • Melisandre’s “shadow baby”
  • the black and red, “waves of blood and night” swords made from Ned’s Ice

All of these things are also associated with blood sacrifice, which is at the heart of the Lightbringer myth.  The celestial forging of Lightbringer in the heart of the moon was the cause of the Long Night, not the cure, and so it seems logical that the earthly forging of Lightbringer, as in the creation of a magic sword through blood sacrifice, might also be associated with the cause of the Long Night, and not the cure.  Indeed, the evidence is mounting that the story of Azor Ahai the noble hero who saved the world might have a few holes in it.  Many of you will have suspected this already – perhaps the first time you heard the part of the story where he stabs his wife in the heart with a freaking sword.  You might have also picked up on the fact that the most prominent advocate for the the concept of “Azor Ahai” reborn is fond of burning people alive, including children, and has a habit of birthing assassin-demons made of pure darkness, which the fandom has somewhat affectionately dubbed “shadow babies.”  Melisandre says the shadows are the servants of the light… but I’m rating that claim “highly dubious.”

Consider Dany’s inner musings in A Dance with Dragons on the nature of dragons:

Mother of dragons, Daenerys thought.  Mother of monsters.  What have I unleashed upon the world?  A queen I am, but my throne is made of burned bones, and it rests on quicksand. Without dragons, how could she hope to hold Meereen, much less win back Westeros?  I am the blood of the dragon, she thought. If they are monsters, so am I.   

Elsewhere in A Dance with Dragons, Xaro Xoan Daxos makes a similar observation to Daenerys, with bonus points for comparing the dragons to a flaming sword flying in the air like a comet:

“When your dragons were small, they were a wonder.  Grown, they are death and devastation, a flaming sword above the world.” 

What this comes down to is a fundamental question about how things work in A Song of Ice and Fire: can human sacrifice and blood magic somehow be used to create a tool which brings life and works to the common good of man?  We all understand Martin’s fondness for shoving grey characters with conflicted hearts into difficult moral dilemmas, but I do not believe that means there is no right and wrong in the story.  Is blood magic an abomination, as the Dothraki say, or can it be a machiavellian tool in the hands of the anti-hero who sorta-kinda saves the world in bittersweet fashion?

For the record, I lean towards #teamabomination – I’m not only a client, I’m also the founder – but I realize that that could be a projection of my own morality onto the story, and so I’m doing my best to keep an open mind.  Perhaps its like one of those Darth Vader things where a life-long instrument of evil finds redemption at the end… Whatever the case, I believe that we don’t have to simply guess or take sides – I think we have a fair amount of evidence to review which might help us discern the truth.

We’ll begin our  quest to discover who the Azor Ahai really is, and what it means to be Azor Ahai reborn, with a look at what we’ve been told about the warrior of fire and the red sword of heroes.  We’ll be taking a short break from the murk and mire of metaphorical myth to consider the more straightforward and logistical evidence concerning Azor Ahai, such as it is, and then we’ll dive back into the depths of that slimy swamp of symbolism which I like to call “the good stuff.”


One of the new pieces of information we received about Azor Ahai in the World of Ice and Fire is that the legend of a warrior with a flaming sword exists in several places, but with different names: Hyrkoon the Hero, Yin Tar, Neferion, Eldric Shadowchaser, and of course Azor Ahai.  These are all interesting for various reasons.  Let’s start with talking about where these different names might have originated from.

Azor Ahai: We have always been told that the Azor Ahai myth comes from Asshai and the red priests.  This is very important, so I will include several quotes:

Melisandre was robed all in scarlet satin and blood velvet, her eyes as red as the great ruby that glistened at her throat as if it too were afire.  “In ancient books of Asshai it is written that there will come a day after a long summer when the stars bleed and the cold breath of darkness falls heavy on the world.  In this dread hour a warrior shall draw from the fire a burning sword. And that sword shall be Lightbringer, the Red Sword of Heroes, and he who clasps it shall be Azor Ahai come again, and the darkness shall flee before him.”  She lifted her voice, so it carried out over the gathered host.  “Azor Ahai, beloved of R’hllor! The Warrior of Light, the Son of Fire!  Come forth, your sword awaits you!  Come forth and take it into your hand!”  (ACOK, Davos)

“Lord Snow, I left a book for you in my chambers. The Jade Compendium, it was written by the Volantene adventurer Colloquo Votar, who travelled to the east and visited all the lands of the Jade Sea. There is a passage you may find of interest. I’ve told Clydas to mark it for you…. Knowledge is a weapon, Jon.  Arm yourself well before you ride forth to battle.”  (ADWD, Jon)

“The Jade Compendium. The pages that told of Azor Ahai.  Lightbringer was his sword.  Tempered with his wife’s blood if Votar can be believed.  Thereafter Lightbringer was never cold to the touch, but warm as Nissa Nissa had been warm. In battle the blade burned fiery hot.  Once Azor Ahai fought a monster.  When he thrust the sword through the belly of the beast, its blood began to boil.  Smoke and steam poured from its mouth, its eyes melted and dribbled down its cheeks, and its body burst into flame.”  (ADWD, Jon)

It is also written that there are annals in Asshai of such a darkness, and of a hero who fought against it with a red sword.  His deeds are said to have been performed before the rise of Valyria, in the earliest ages when Old Ghis was first forming its empire.  This legend has spread west from Asshai, and the followers of R’hllor claim that this hero was named Azor Ahai, and prophesy his return.  (TWOIAF)

Hyrkoon the Hero can only come from the formerly existent Patrimony of Hyrkoon, to the east of the Bones Mountains. Hyrkoon’s former empire is now the Great Sand Sea, with the only remnants being the three fortress cities of Bayasabhad, Samyriana, and Kayakayanaya in the Bones mountains, all of which are populated by fierce warrior women who don’t take BS from anyone.

Neferion similarly must come from the “secret city” of Nefer, the sole remaing city of the N’ghai, also east of the Bones mountains.  Nefer is the lone port on the coast of the Shivering Sea east of the Bones.

Yin Tar seems to be an obviously Yi Tish name.  Their “first and most glorious” capital city is “Yin.”  The Golden Empire of Yi Ti is east of the Bones mountains on the coast of the Jade Sea.

Eldric Shadowchaser is the hard one – “Eldric” sounds like a Westerosi name – House Stark has had two “Edrics Starks” (shoutout to Edric Snowbeard) and one “Elric Stark” that we know of.  There is no similar-sounding name or word to be found anywhere in Essos.  All of the other ‘red sword legends’ are from far eastern Essos, and the Worldbook mentions these five names while telling the story of the Great Empire of the Dawn, a lost civilization of the Dawn Age whose domain was basically all of the habitable land east of the Bones mountains.  Thus it would seem odd for Eldric Shadowchaser to be from Westeros.  If however, the Last Hero and his dragon steel sword do indeed have a connection to Azor Ahai and his Lightbringer sword as many have proposed, that would mean that Azor Ahai (or perhaps his son?) came to Westeros with his fiery red sword. Perhaps “Eldric Shadowchaser” has something to do with this – it could be the name he was known by in Westeros.

Now, keeping mind that the question is whether or not Azor Ahai was really a heroic savior figure, let’s take a brief look at these places which tell a story of a warrior with a flaming sword.  We don’t know where Eldric Shadowchaser is from, and Yi Ti seems to have its share of refined culture and depravity both over the course of its long existence – not especially better or worse than anywhere else.  But these other three… well…

Before the Dry Times and the coming of the Great Sand Sea, the Jogos Nhai fought many a bloody border war against the Patrimony of Hyrkoon as well, poisoning rivers and wells, burning towns and cities, and a carrying off thousands into slavery on the plains, whilst the Hyrkoon for their part were sacrificing tens of thousands of the zorse-riders to their dark and hungry gods.  (TWOIAF)

Nefer, chief city of the kingdom of N’ghai, hemmed in by towering chalk cliffs and perpetually shrouded in fog.  When seen it from the harbor, Nefer appears to be no more than a small town, but it is said that nine-tenths of the city is beneath the ground.  For that reason travelers call Nefer the Secret City.  By any name, the city enjoys a sinister reputation as a hunt of necromancers and torturers.  (TWOIAF)

Few places in the known world are as remote as Asshai, and fewer are as forbidding.  Travelers tell us that the city is built entirely of black stone: halls, hovels, temples, palaces, streets, walls, bazaars, all.  Some say as well that the stone of Asshai has a greasy, unpleasant feel to it, that it seems to drink the light, dimming tapers and torches and hearth fires alike.  The nights are very black in Asshai, all agree, and even the brightest days of summer are somehow gray and gloomy.

The dark city by the shadow is a city steeped in sorcery.  Warlocks, wizards, alchemists, moonsingers, red priests, black alchemists, necromancers, aeromancers, pyromancers, blood mages, torturers, inquisitors, poisoners, godswives, night-walkers, shapechangers, worshippers of the Black Goat and the Pale Child and the Lion of Night, all find welcome in Asshai-by-the-Shadow, where nothing is forbidden.  Here they are free to practice their spells without restraint or censure, conduct their obscene rights, and fornicate with demons (!) if that is their desire.

Most sinister of all the sorcerers of Asshai are the shadowbinders, who’s lacquered masks hide their faces from the eyes of gods and men. They alone dare to go up river past the walls of Asshai, into the heart of darkness.  (TWOIAF)

It gets much worse from there, going up the river Ash, where demons and dragons making their lairs, a corpse city lies at the Shadow’s heart, etc.  Septon Barth also tells us that there are no children or animals in Asshai-by-the-Shadow, and that the malign influence of polluted waters of the River Ash may be to blame.  That river is said to be black during the day and to glimmer with phosphorescence at night, and the fish that swim it are blind and deformed.

Asshai is basically a magical version of a nuclear wasteland inhabited by the absolute worst and most depraved sorts of black magicians.  It’s called “Asshai-by-the-Shadow,” and this is where the legend of Azor Ahai comes from.  These are the folks naming him a “hero.”

As for the people who prophesy his return as a savior figure, the R’hllorists?  With their shadow babies and burning of the unbelievers and sacrificing children to wake magical stone fire-monsters they hope to control?  With their longing for a summer without end, which would be just as bad a winter without end?  Are anyone’s red flags going off yet?  Is it really so crazy to think that maybe the hero of places like Hyrkoon, Nefer, and Asshai-by-the-Shadow is actually, how shall we say, “The Prince of Darkness?”  (cue evil laughter)  We also may want to keep an open mind as we look at the other supposed “heroes” and “villains” of the ancient legends.  This may potentially be good news for the Nights King fanclub (quick shoutout – hey guys!)


We continue our exploration of the idea that Azor Ahai was not the darkness-slaying hero he is remembered as, but rather the ‘bad guy’ who murdered his wife and was associated with the cause of the Long Night by looking at another legend about a bad guy who murdered an empress and caused the Long Night.  This excerpt is from The World of Ice and Fire and concerns the Yi Tish legend of a lost civilization called the Great Empire of the Dawn and its downfall, a tale of usurpation and murder remembered as the Blood Betrayal.

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

Dominion over mankind then passed to his eldest son, who was known as the pearl Emperor and ruled for 1000 years. The Jade Emperor, the Tourmaline Emperor, the Onyx Emperor, the Topaz Emperor, and the Opal Emperor followed in turn, each reigning for centuries… Yet every rain was shorter and more troubled than the one preceding it, for wild man and baleful beasts pressed at the borders of the Great Empire, lesser kings grew prideful and rebellious, and the common people gave themselves over to avarice, envy, lust, murder, incest, gluttony, and sloth. 

When the daughter of the Opal Emperor succeeded him as the Amethyst Empress, her envious younger brother cast her down and slew her, proclaiming himself the Bloodstone Emperor and beginning a reign of terror.  He practiced dark arts, torture, and necromancy, enslaved his people, took a tiger woman for his bride, feasted on human flesh, and cast down the true Gods to worship a black stone that had fallen from the sky.  (Many scholars count the Bloodstone Emperor as the first High Priest of the sinister Church of Starry Wisdom, which persists to this day in many port cities throughout the known world). 

In the annals of the further east, it was the Blood Betrayal, as his usurpation is named, that ushered in the age of darkness called the Long Night.  Despairing of the evil that had been unleashed on earth, the Maiden-Made-of-Light turned her back upon the world, and the Lion of Night came forth in all his wroth to punish the wickedness of men.  

How long the darkness endured no man can say, but all agree it was only when a great warrior – known variously as Hyrkoon the Hero, Azor Ahai, Yin Tar, Neferion, and Eldric Shadowchaser – arose to give courage to the race of men and lead the virtuous into battle with his blazing sword Lightbringer that the darkness was put to rout, and light and love returned once more to the world.

Yet the Great Empire of the Dawn was not reborn, for the restored world was a broken place where every tribe of men went it’s own way, fearful of all the others, and war and lust and murder endured, even to our present day. Or so of the men and women of the further east believe.  (TWOIAF)

Based on the pattern set out by the astronomy – the betrayal and murder of the second moon by her solar husband – we suspect that Azor Ahai’s murder of Nissa Nissa had something to do with the cause of the Long Night.  In this excerpt about the Blood Betrayal, we find a story of a murder and betrayal said to have caused the Long Night, which seems like a very close match.  Azor Ahai killed his wife, Nissa Nissa, and the Bloodstone Emperor killed his sister, the Amethyst Empress.  There’s even a meteorite playing a key role – could this black stone that fell from the sky that the Bloodstone Emperor worshipped have been one of these “dragon meteors” which fell to earth after the second moon exploded?  Both events are tied to the beginning of the Long Night, and both stories come from the far east.  Is it possible that these stories are mixed up somehow, and that this Bloodstone Emperor who corrupted and destroyed the great Dawn Age empire in the far east was actually Azor Ahai?

That’s exactly what I mean to suggest – all hail the Bloodstone Emperor Azor Ahai, First of his Name, God-Emperor of the Great Empire of the Night and High Priest of the Church of Starry Wisdom, practitioner of dark arts, torture, and necromancy; enslaver of his own people and eater of human flesh; he who slew the Amethyst Empress Nissa Nissa, cast down the true gods, and worshipped the black stone which fell from the sky.  Now that’s the kind of fellow who you would expect to reign supreme during the Long Night.

green bloodstone skulls

Bloodstone skulls courtesy of skullis.com, purveyors of high quality gemstone skulls

Since we know that Nissa Nissa represents the moon, celestially, the Amethyst Empress should as well.  This makes sense, for in the legend, the death of the Amethyst Empress resulted in the fall of the Long Night, and of course our main hypothesis is that the death of the second moon was the physical mechanism which brought the fall of the Long Night.  I think that the Bloodstone Emperor’s “casting down the true gods” is symbolically the same thing as killing the Amethyst Empress, Nissa Nissa, since she represents the moon, and the moon is a god.  “Moon is god, woman wife of sun.  It is known,” as Irri and Jiqui tell Dany immediately after we hear of the second-moon-cracking-to-pour-forth-dragons story.  The excerpt above even uses the “cast down” phrase for both the Amethyst Empress and the “true gods,” which of course makes sense if they are symbolically related to each other.  In other words, if Azor Ahai wielding a fiery sword is equivalent to a fiery comet coming from the sun, then the killing of Nissa Nissa is equivalent to the murder of a moon goddess, or “casting down the true gods.”  High crimes, indeed.

Casting down the gods, pulling down things from heaven, stealing things from heaven, gods descending from heaven and dying – these are all variations of the same idea, and it’s one of the very oldest in mythology.  The serpent in the Garden of Eden story encouraged Adam to eat of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, so that he might become like gods.  Prometheus stole the fire of heaven for mankind, Gilgamesh (and Moses) recorded the wisdom of God on stone tablets, and Jesus descended from heaven to give the gift of spiritual rebirth.  Queztalcoatl brought all the knowledge of the gods to the natives of the Americas, including astronomy, farming, metallurgy, and many other gifts of civilization.   Most of these mythological characters and deities are associated with the Morningstar, Venus, and are sometimes called “Morningstar deities.”  In our case, the ‘stealer of heavenly fire’ is the Bloodstone Emperor Azor Ahai, and the stolen fire of heaven that takes the form of a goddess is the Amethyst Empress, Nissa Nissa.

As my friend and moderately high-profile A Song of Ice and Fire blogger and nerd-celebrity Brynden BFish of the Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire blog recently wrote on Reddit, the Azor Ahai story is the “monomyth” of A Song of Ice and Fire.  Not only does the Bloodstone Emperor Blood Betrayal story seem to be a version of the Azor Ahai Lightbringer legend, but many other myths and legends seem to do so as well, as I have alluded to.  Consider the concept of pulling down things from heaven which I just mentioned, and let’s see how many ancient folktales concern something falling from heaven, the death of a goddess, etc.  Keep in mind that I believe one of these falling moon meteors landed in the ocean, provoking floods, and so sometimes the moon goddess is depicted as a mermaid or as an aquatic woman of some kind:

Azor Ahai – killed Nissa Nissa in blood magic ritual. cracked the moon

Qarthine Origin of Dragons – the moon cracked, flaming dragons poured forth

Bloodstone Emperor – killed Amethyst Empress, cast down the true gods, worshipped a black stone that fell from the sky, starry wisdom

Grey King – slew sea dragon which drowns islands, stole Storm God’s fire via thunderbolt, took a mermaid to wife

Durran Godsgrief – stole daughter of the wind and sea gods, dooming her to eventual death & provoking floods

Hugor Hill – the Father pulled down seven stars from heaven for his crown, married maiden with eyes like blue pools

Lann the Clever – stole the fire of the sun to color his hair, impregnated maidens without their knowledge

Night’s King – married a woman with moon-pale skin, committed horrible magical atrocities & sacrilege

Hammer of the Waters – something “hammered” the land and broke it, sorcery (“Old Gods”) was part of the cause

Ser Galladon of Morne – the Maiden herself “lost her heart” to Galladon and gave him a magic sword, which I believe refers to the second moon and Lightbringer

Dawn – a magic sword made from a pale stone which is the heart of a fallen star

Pretty impressive, when you look at them all together, isn’t it?  We’ll be getting into all of these myths sooner or later, but I wanted to lay them out here so you can see the continuity of theme.  Most of these stories also involve cataclysms of some kind, being either tied to the Long Night directly or referring to floods and earthquakes, etc.

Returning to the comparison between the stories of the Bloodstone Emperor and Azor Ahai, we see that the Bloodstone Emperor is defined by killing the rightful ruler of his kingdom, his sibling, and the usurpation of the throne.  Azor Ahai is defined by killing his wife, his love, and fighting the darkness with a sword of red fire.  Both of these ideas are combined in one of the Jon’s most important scenes of A Dance with Dragons, one which is brimming with Lightbringer symbolism (as well as a non-symbolic, literally-on-fire red sword).  As I mentioned before, Jon is the other high-profile incarnation of Azor Ahai reborn, and so I find it highly significant that he seems to be manifesting the actions of both Azor Ahai and the Bloodstone Emperor, since I believe them to be the same person:

That night he dreamt of wildlings howling from the woods, advancing to the moan of warhorns and the roll of drums.  Boom DOOM boom DOOM boom DOOM came the sound, a thousand hearts with a single beat.  Some had spears and some had bows and some had axes. Others rode on chariots made of bones, drawn by teams of dogs as big as ponies. Giants lumbered amongst them, forty feet tall, with mauls the size of oak trees.

“Stand fast,” Jon Snow called. “Throw them back.” He stood atop the Wall, alone. “Flame,” he cried, “feed them flame,” but there was no one to pay heed.

They are all gone. They have abandoned me.

Burning shafts hissed upward, trailing tongues of fire.  Scarecrow brothers tumbled down, black cloaks ablaze.  “Snow,” an eagle cried, as foemen scuttled up the ice like spiders.  Jon was armored in black ice, but his blade burned red in his fist.  As the dead men reached the top of the Wall he sent them down to die again.  He slew a greybeard and a beardless boy, a giant, a gaunt man with filed teeth, a girl with thick red hair.  Too late he recognized Ygritte.  She was gone as quick as she’d appeared.

The world dissolved into a red mist. Jon stabbed and slashed and cut.  He hacked down Donal Noye and gutted Deaf Dick Follard. Qhorin Halfhand stumbled to his knees, trying in vain to staunch the flow of blood from his neck.  “I am the Lord of Winterfell,” Jon screamed. It was Robb before him now, his hair wet with melting snow.  Longclaw took his head off.  Then a gnarled hand seized Jon roughly by the shoulder.  He whirled… and woke with a raven pecking at his chest. “Snow,” the bird cried.  (ADWD, Jon)

Jon performs the entire range of deeds here: he slays his love with a sword of red fire, just as Azor Ahai did, and he kills his sibling and usurps their throne, just as the Bloodstone Emperor did.  The moment that he kills Ygritte symbolizes the forging of Lightbringer and the Blood Betrayal both, the moment Jon becomes the Bloodstone Emperor.  The world dissolves into a red mist and he commits betrayal after betrayal, murdering his closest friends, culminating in his murder and usurpation of Robb’s throne.  A nightmare indeed… Just what exactly does it mean for someone to show signs of being Azor Ahai reborn?  What kind of sword was this “Lightbringer?”  These are two of the important questions which we will attempt to shed light on, if you’ll pardon the pun, as we unravel the legend of Azor Ahai, Nissa Nissa, and Lightbringer.  At the very least, I believe this scene supports the notion that Azor Ahai and the Bloodstone Emperor are the same person, the same archetype, and that anyone who is “Azor Ahai reborn” will be dealing with the supposed dark legacy of the Bloodstone Emperor in some way.

Even more troubling is the fact that at first, Jon seems to be playing the role of the Last Hero, abandoned and alone but heroically fighting the wildling invaders, who sound like Others (“howling” like the north winds, “scuttling up the ice like (ice) spiders”).  But we know that the wildlings aren’t really inhuman ice demons, and Jon’s dream of valor quickly warps into a nightmare as he realizes he’s killing innocent people, but cannot stop himself.  What does this say about the Last Hero?  Certainly, many have speculated there is a connection between Azor Ahai and the Last Hero, and I think this dream indicates something along those lines, although I am not prepared to say just what that connection is at this point.  No matter how you interpret the dream, we cannot escape the fact that central idea in the dream is conflicted morality.  He begins as a hero and ends as a murderer, all while holding this burning red sword, and that’s exactly the aspect of the Azor Ahai archetype that I am trying to shine a light on.

Recall that in the last essay, we saw that the various symbolic manifestations of Lightbringer are always associated with darkness and shadow, black blood, fire transformation, and death.   Now let’s consider Jon Snow, the man with “an evil name” (Ygritte, A Clash of Kings) who always dresses in black (or black ice armor, as above) and is described as “a shadow among shadows”  (A Clash of Kings).  The brothers of the Nightswatch are said to have black blood, which is symbolism disguised as euphemism, meaning that in the story, it’s just a saying, like a die-hard sports fan saying they “bleed Dodger blue,” but really it’s just cover for George to insert the black blood symbolism where he needs it, which is in Jon’s veins.  If Jon is in fact Rhaegar’s son, then he’s a dragon as well.  That all sounds like Lightbringer stuff.

Is Jon the son of sun and moon, symbolically speaking?  Well yes, absolutely.  Rhaegar the dragon prince plays the role of solar king.  He’s even got two wives, just as the sun would have have two moons before the Long Night disaster.  Lyanna, with her lunar halo-like crown of blue roses, is the moon maiden who dies giving birth to dragon seed.  Her apparent death in the Tower of Joy places her up in the celestial realm at her death, and Eddard sees her deathly blue rose petals and her blood streaked across the sky in his dream recall of the scene.  Her rose petals are actually called a storm, in fact, and that’s exactly the idea.  The birth of Azor Ahai reborn and Lightbringer and the death of the moon are accompanied by a great storm.  If you’re thinking of Daenerys Stormborn and the horrendous gale that raged on Dragonstone at her birth, you’ve got exactly the right idea and you’re a total smarty-pants.

As an aside, I should mention that the ‘maiden in the tower’ is a well known mythological archetype (in Arthurian myth especially), and George has adapted it here to his moon maiden archetype.  We’ll see the top of the tower used to represent the celestial realm, and the tops of mountains and castles as well.  Consider Ashara Dayne, the lady of “Star-fall,” who falls into the sea from atop a tower called the Palestone Sword, and was said to have died of a broken heart.  I don’t know what’s up with Ashara Dayne – if she’s still alive, or if she had a surviving child – but I do know she is part of the moon maiden archetype, leaping from a tower into the sea to her death just as the second moon fell from the sky like a falling star and in some cases, landed in the sea.  The Tower of Joy is a tower “long fallen,” symbolizing the fall of a heavenly body, and there are a few other towers that we will run across that are being used the same way, such as Queenscrown, the Children’s Tower at Moat Cailin, towers at Harrenhall, the Eyrie, and Hammerhorn Keep and Sea Tower of castle Pyke on the Iron Islands.

Lyanna’s death at the top of the tower makes her the moon maiden to Rhaegar’s solar dragon.  Lyanna’s bed of blood recalls the blood of Lightbringer’s tempering and the dual metaphor of battle and birth, as well as the somewhat murky concept of ‘moon blood’ which I will clarify in due time.  We even see a color transformation – blue rose petals turning black instead of red blood turning black, but the point is, it’s a death transformation that brings darkness.  Which brings us back to Jon Snow, the black-blooded shadow among shadows armored in black ice.  He’s a perfect fit with the other Lightbringer / Azor Ahai reborn symbols we have examined so far.  He’s the right guy to dream of a burning red sword, as he seems to have inherited some part of the legacy of the Bloodstone Emperor, Azor Ahai.

The remainder of this essay will lay out the case to support the idea that Azor Ahai was actually some kind of dark sorcerer-king known as the Bloodstone Emperor who performed the most heinous kind of black magic in the history of the world.  Naturally, to do so, we’ll rely on quotes from the text, mixing them into the usual cocktail of astronomy & mythology, and spiced with a dash of geology.



The Bloodstone Emperor worshipped a “black stone” that fell from the sky around the time of the onset of the Long Night.  If the destruction of the second moon was in fact responsible for the Long Night, then this black stone is almost certainly a piece of the exploded moon.  The Bloodstone Emperor comes from a line of God-Kings said to have descended from the stars, and he is also said to be the first High Priest of the “Church of Starry Wisdom.”  Clearly, there is a lot of astronomical ideas swirling about the Bloodstone Emperor.  But what about the “bloodstone” itself?  Why did George choose this stone to represent the “prince of darkness?”  The answer to this question reveals much, I have found.

It turns out that although it kind of sounds like some made up fantasy name for a magic stone, “bloodstone” is a real gemstone, and it’s proper name is “heliotrope” (many of you will know this, but it must be said).  Just as George R. R. Martin has personified the natural qualities of obsidian (cooled and hardened magma) into magical qualities (ASOIAF dragonglass is “frozen fire” possessing the qualities of fire magic), he seems to have done the same with bloodstone (heliotrope).  To see just what kind of magical stone we might be dealing with here, let’s take a look at the (as it turns out) exceedingly rich folklore surrounding bloodstone / heliotrope.  We are going to plunge down quite a few side alleys, so just prepare yourself.  All of these concepts are interrelated, and there no clean way to present them individually.  It’s a tangled and sticky web we are trying to wrap out minds around here.  I’m going to first list the properties and association in bullet point form, and then expound on each.

Bloodstone is associated with following ideas and symbols:

  • magical warfare, divination, alchemy, and astrology
  • healing, blood circulation, vitality
  • curing blood poisoning, drawing out snake venom from a wound
  • “the warrior’s stone,” “stone of courage” – increasing personal power, physical & spiritual
  • “the martyr’s stone”  – associated with Christ’s blood dripping on stone
  • turning, reflecting, or bending the sun’s light; or turning to face the sun
  • turning the sun’s reflection to blood when submersed
  • “sun stone” – as a sun-mirror, heliotrope possess the power of the sun
  • predicting eclipses
  • predicting and even causing lighting and thunderstorms
  • purple flowering plants which turn to face the sun (one called a “valerian”)
  • “mother goddess stone,” Isis, Astarte, Innan, etc – lunar goddesses who resurrect the sun god
some examples of bloodstone (skull courtesy of http://www.skullis.com )

Some examples of bloodstone (heliotrope)

Magical Properties, Warrior’s Stone

Bloodstone is considered to have many magical properties by ancient man.  The Babylonians and Egyptians used it for divination and to achieve victory in magical warfare.  It was thought to increase personal power, spiritual first and foremost, but also physical power, which is why it was sometimes known as the “warrior’s stone” and the “stone of courage.”  It was a must-have for ancient magicians, alchemists, and astrologers, as it was thought to aid in communication with the celestial realms.  All of that fits with our idea of the Bloodstone Emperor Azor Ahai, a sorcerer-king with starry wisdom who was known as the warrior of fire.

Bloody Sun Mirrors, Eclipses, and Pliny the Elder

The name “heliotrope” (from Greek ήλιος helios, “Sun,” τρέπειν trepein, “to turn”) derives from ancient belief that bloodstone had the ability to bend and alter the sun’s reflection.  The source of this information is Pliny the Elder’s Natural History:

Heliotropium is found in Æthiopia, Africa, and Cyprus: it is of a leek-green colour, streaked with blood-red veins. It has been thus named, from the circumstance that, if placed in a vessel of water and exposed to the full light of the sun, it changes to a reflected colour like that of blood; this being the case with the stone of Æthiopia more particularly.  Out of the water, too, it reflects the figure of the sun like a mirror, and it discovers eclipses of that luminary by showing the moon passing over its disk.

Turning the sun’s reflection to blood fits nicely with our solar cycle concept, where the red setting sun is perceived as symbolically dying, covered in blood.  The Bloodstone Emperor ushered in the Long Night, so he’s certainly the one who “killed the sun.”  Thus, his taking of the monicker “Bloodstone Emperor” makes a great deal of sense.

There is a modern device called a heliotrope that uses mirrors to reflect sunlight over great distances to mark the positions of participants in a land survey.  This device uses regular mirrors, not mirrors made from actual heliotrope – rather, it’s the “sun-mirror” connotations of heliotrope they were naming the instrument for.  This calls to mind the tale of Serwyn of the Mirror Shield, who slew the dragon Urrax with a spear throw to the eye after using the Medusa-slaying trick of using the dragon’s reflection in the mirror to achieve victory.  The story of Serwyn is actually a detailed celestial metaphor with direct relevance to the Azor Ahai legend, as we will show.

In addition to the general association with heavenly knowledge and astrology, we have some kind of an association with eclipses, and with predicting them.  When we consider that the Bloodstone Emperor possessed “starry wisdom,” it seems quite possible that he predicted the eclipse of the sun and even the comet’s arrival, and may have timed his blood-magic ritual killing of his sister / wife / sister-wife to coincide with this event for the purposes of harvesting its magical energy.  Of course it is well known many religions, pagan & nature based religions especially (the oldest religions on the planet) time their festivals and rituals to coincide with significant celestial alignments, so really, it would almost be odd if he did not predict it and time his actions accordingly.

The idea of submerging bloodstone in water seems relevant in light of the idea that there may have been one “sea dragon” moon meteor which plunged into the ocean and triggered large floods.  There are many references throughout the series to a black, bloody, or dark tide, usually in close proximity to some kind of moon-drowning metaphor, as we will see.  This fits in with the idea of bloodstone creating the appearance of blood in the water (bloody water = blood tide).  A moon meteor crashing into the ocean would certainly cause massive tsunamis, and given that it would be taking place during the Long Night, these would be black and bloody (deadly) tides indeed.  This is also a kind of magical-disaster personification of the normal relationship between the moon and the tides, as well as a play on the idea of “moon-blood.”  We will return to this idea shortly, but here’s a little quote to show that George might well have been thinking about this very concept, as well as a hint about “two moons:”

Only the brightest stars were visible, all to the west.  A dull red glow lit the sky to the northeast, the color of a blood bruise. Tyrion had never seen a bigger moon. Monstrous, swollen, it looked as if it had swallowed the sun and woken with a fever. Its twin, floating on the sea beyond the ship, shimmered red with every wave.  (ADWD, Tyrion)

Drinking the Light and Fire of the Sun, Black Blood

The term “heliotropism” is used to describe certain species of flowering plants (genus heliotropium in particular) which turn their flowers to face the sun as it moves throughout the day.  There is a greek myth behind this idea, that of the Okeanid Nymph Klytie, who along with her six Okeanid sisters, were goddesses of the clouds and fresh water.  Klytie was loved by the sun-god Helios, but after he left her for the “white goddess” Leucothea, a sea goddess, Klytie pined away for Helios for nine days, lying on the ground and turning her head to follow the sun in its course through the sky until her limbs took root and she was transformed into the sun-gazing purple flower, the heliotrope.  It’s important to note that this myth puts the heliotrope in the role of the female lover of the sun god, which in our celestial model, would be represented by the moon goddess.  Daenerys is the character in the main story who most prominently symbolizes this second moon which died in dragon-birth, and she is of course a Valyrian with purple eyes with symbolic associations to flowers.  Of the heliotropium plants is called a “valerian,” as I mentioned above.

The concept of the heliotropic plant is another application of the idea of “sun turning“; in this case, the heliotrope flowers are turning towards the sun, the better to drink the sunlight, just as the sun-mirror heliotrope stone drinks the sunlight and turns its reflection bloody red.

I’ve identified “drinking the light or fire of the sun” as a very important phrase in ASOIAF, an idea which we hear of first in regards to the dragon meteors of the Qarthine legend:

A thousand thousand dragons poured forth, and drank the fire of the sun.  That is why dragons breathe flame. (AGOT, Daenerys)

Those are the moon meteors acting heliotropically, drinking the fire of the sun.  Just as with the Klytie myth, we see the moon in the role of heliotrope (bloodstone).  This means that if the Bloodstone Emperor’s black stone is indeed a moon meteor, as it appears to be, this black stone was a sun-drinking stone, a heliotrope.  A black bloodstone.

As we saw in the picture above, real bloodstone is dark green (chalcedony) with red inclusions (iron oxide or red jasper).  The red inclusions resemble spots of blood, hence the name “bloodstone.”  Yet Geroge R. R. Martin’s “bloodstone” is black.  There’s a very good reason for this: black blood.  Specifically, the blackened and burnt blood of the fallen moon goddess.  We saw earlier that Colloquo Votar’s Jade Compendium alleges that when Azor Ahai thrust his sword into the belly of a beast, “its blood began to boil,” its eyes melted, and its body burst into flame.  This is exactly what happened to our moon goddess – Lightbringer to the gut, incineration, blood boiling  – no wonder her blood is black.  Her flaming meteor-children were soaked in her black blood.  Lightbringer the sword symbolizes the offspring of sun-comet and moon, just as these black bloodstone meteors do, and Lightbringer the sword was soaked in Nissa Nissa moon’s blackened blood, just as the meteors were.  This suggests the possibility that Lightbringer the sword might have been made from those black, sun-drinking meteors, an idea we’ll come back to.

Nissa Nisa moon is the original mother of dragons, so it’s unsurprising to find that dragons (the black ones at least) also have black blood (and black fire, too):

Drogon rose, his wings covering her in shadow.  Dany swung the lash at his scaled belly, back and forth until her arm began to ache.  His long serpentine neck bent like an archer’s bow.  With a hisssssss, he spat black fire down at her.  Dany darted underneath the flames, swinging the whip and shouting, “No, no, no. Get DOWN!”  His answering roar was full of fear and fury, full of pain.  His wings beat once, twice… and folded.  The dragon gave one last hiss and stretched out flat upon his belly.  Black blood was flowing from the wound where the spear had pierced him, smoking where it dripped onto the scorched sands.  He is fire made flesh, she thought, and so am I.  (ADWD, Daenerys)

Notice that Drogon is the union of sun-drinking (shadow casting), black blood, and black fire.  His wings are always bringing darkness and shadow, he bleeds black blood, and breathes black fire.   His black blood flows from a wound created by a spear, evoking Lightbringer the comet’s strike against the moon and connecting it to the black blood.  Drogon’s sun-drinking is associated with darkening the entire world and with black stone, as we see here:

The second time he passed before the sun, his black wings spread, and the world darkened.  (ADWD, Daenerys)

Drogon was curled up beneath her arm, as hot as a stone that has soaked all day in the blazing sun.  (ACOK, Daenerys)

Stone, she told herself.  They are only stone, even Illyrio said so, the dragons are all dead.  She put her palm against the black egg, fingers spread gently across the curve of the shell.  The stone was warm. Almost hot. “The sun,” Dany whispered. “The sun warmed them as they rode.” (AGOT, Daenerys)

Two characters whom George uses to symbolize Azor Ahai at various times are Beric Dondarion and Stannis Baratheon, both of whom wield flaming swords and are associated with black blood and shadow.  Beric the “fire-wight” bleeds black blood when he is “killed” by the Hound in the underground weirwood cave, suggesting that his fire resurrection by Thoros has some how transformed his blood from red to black.  He very dramatically emerges from the deep shadows in his first appearance as resurrected Beric.

When Melisandre burns Varamyr Sixskins out of the sky (while he’s inhabiting his eagle), see this process played out:

His last death had been by fire.  I burned.  At first, in his confusion, he thought some archer on the Wall had pierced him with a flaming arrow … but the fire had been inside him, consuming him.  And the pain … {…}

Even that had not been so agonizing as the fire in his guts, crackling along his wings, devouring him. When he tried to fly from it, his terror fanned the flames and made them burn hotter.  One moment he had been soaring above the Wall, his eagle’s eyes marking the movements of the men below.  Then the flames had turned his heart into a blackened cinder and sent his spirit screaming back into his own skin, and for a little while he’d gone mad.  Even the memory was enough to make him shudder. (ADWD, Prologue)

As of Stannis, the first time we meet him in A Clsh of Kings, the word shadow is used three times, to describe his eyes, his jawline, and his fringe of hair like a shadow crown.  When Melisandre births her “shadow baby” Stannis in A Clash of Kings, she bleeds black blood:

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. (ACOK, Davos)

Melisandre is playing the role of a red, pregnant moon about to give birth to Azor Ahai’s (shadow) child.  She lights up before giving birth, simulating the immolation of the Nissa moon and the forging of Lightbringer.  The fact that Lightbringer is symbolized by a shadowbaby is yet another indication of the sun-drinking nature of or Ahai’s sword.  “Agony and ecstasy” is a reference to Nissa Nissa’s “cry of anguish and ecstasy” that “left a crack across the face of the moon,” a phrase which appears in almost every major moon-immolation metaphor.  The sword Widows Wail represents this half of the comet which impacted with the Nissa moon, and so often the “cry” is a “wail.”  The shadowbaby has a “crown” and is “towering” above the boat – we’ll get into these symbols down the line, but the idea of a person or a tower losing its crown is another falling star motif.  And of course, the inky-black blood.  Note the similar language here:

The red priestess shuddered.  Blood trickled down her thigh, black and smoking.  The fire was inside her, an agony, an ecstasy, filling her, searing her, transforming her.  Shimmers of heat traced patterns on her skin, insistent as a lover’s hand.  (ADWD, Melisandre)

In this last scene, Melisandre has just seen a series of visions in the nightfire (the “black and bloody tide,” Bloodraven and Bran, shadow skulls and the shadow of dragon wings, asking to see Azor Ahai and seeing only “Snow,” etc).  The shuddering, fire inside her, the shimmering and transforming and the lover’s hand are easily recognized as Lightbringer forging language.  When someone has “the fire inside of them,” they are being transformed – the blood is being transformed into black blood. Nissa Nissa had “the fire” inside her as well, and then her burnt and blackened blood went into the “steel” of Lightbringer.

If Lightbringer the sword was made from a black bloodstone moon meteor, then the blood of the moon goddess did indeed go into the steel of Lightbringer, literally and symbolically.    We’ll dig into this fully when we get to the section about the blood tide, but we’ll see it pop up a couple of times along the way, so I wanted to introduce it here.

Bloodstone is referred to as “the martyr’s stone.”  This is because it became associated with the story of Jesus’ crucifixion – the red inclusions were thought to be Christ’s blood which dripped onto some chalcedony at the foot of the cross.  This is perhaps the most important connotation of bloodstone to understand in regards to what George is doing here.  The concept of a stone consecrated with the blood of a sacrificed god is how we should think about the magical version of “bloodstone” which George has created.

Daenerys herself is the most important “avatar” of the Nissa Nissa moon, and so naturally we find her undergoing blood-burning transformations:

“You don’t want to wake the dragon, do you?”  She was walking down a long hall beneath high stone arches.  She could not look behind her, must not look behind her.  There was a door ahead of her, tiny with distance, but even from afar, she saw that it was painted red.  She walked faster, and her bare feet left bloody footprints on the stone.

Daenerys is making bloodstone, how terrific!  I believe that the red door represents the transformative impact of comet and moon – since Dany is the moon, the red door would be the comet.  The dragon was woken when the comet hit the moon, and the dragon will be woken in this dream when Dany reaches the red door and crosses the threshold.  The high stone arches may be meant to suggest crescent moons.

Drogo held her in strong arms, and his hand stroked her sex and opened her and woke that sweet wetness that was his alone, and the stars smiled down on them, stars in a daylight sky.  “Home,” she whispered as he entered her and filled her with his seed, but suddenly the stars were gone, and across the blue sky swept the great wings, and the world took flame.

This is the first vision, one of procreation.  But at the moment of conception… the formerly smiling stars disappear, the dragon wings darken the world, and everything takes fire.

Ser Jorah’s face was drawn and sorrowful. “Rhaegar was the last dragon,” he told her. He warmed translucent hands over a glowing brazier where stone eggs smouldered red as coals.   {…}

Viserys stood before her, screaming.  “The dragon does not beg, slut.  You do not command the dragon.  I am the dragon, and I will be crowned.”  The molten gold trickled down his face like wax, burning deep channels in his flesh.  “I am the dragon and I will be crowned!” he shrieked, and his fingers snapped like snakes, biting at her nipples, pinching, twisting, even as his eyes burst and ran like jelly down seared and blackened cheeks.

Red coals are sometimes used to describe the eyes of our various red-eyed people (Ghost, melisandre, Bloodraven), so what we have here is the dragon’s egg inserting itself into the stars / eyes / coals / symbolic milieu.  Indeed, the dragon eggs are symbolic of the dragon stone meteors, which of course is obvious to us now, but this would have been one of our first clues as we read through the story.  We’ve got molten metal and burning channels in the flesh, and the association between crowns and death that pops up occasionally.  Viserys’s fingers are snakes, emphasizing that particular metaphor, and finally we get blinding by way of fire, with eyes bursting and melting and running down blackened flesh.

She could feel the heat inside her, a terrible burning in her womb.  Her son was tall and proud, with Drogo’s copper skin and her own silver-gold hair, violet eyes shaped like almonds.  And he smiled for her and began to lift his hand toward hers, but when he opened his mouth the fire poured out.  She saw his heart burning through his chest, and in an instant he was gone, consumed like a moth by a candle, turned to ash.  She wept for her child, the promise of a sweet mouth on her breast, but her tears turned to steam as they touched her skin.

Now the fire is inside her, and it is wreaking death.  Dany feels the terrible burning, and Rhaego’s heart burns and blackens in his chest as he turns to ash.  This certainly makes us think of the “fiery heart” sigil of R’hllor, and again, the connotations are quite ominous.  Rhaego himself must have the fire inside him – he’s even breathing fire like a true dragon, but he is consumed in the conflagration, just as the comet which struck the moon was itself consumed.  Last, we have steaming tears to indicate Dany’s internal fire transformation.

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

…wake the dragon…

I will have a LOT more to say about these kingly ghosts with gemstone eyes and pale fire sword in an upcoming essay called The Fingerprints of the Dawn, which is already written, but for now we’ll just consider them some sort of ancestor of Daenerys with very ancient dragon knowledge and Valyrian looks who are encouraging Dany to wake the dragon.  Her feet are melting stone – remember they were coating the stones with blood before, now Daenerys is melting them too.  As her wings tear through her flesh and shadow the world, she smells the burning blood.  In the next paragraph, she takes to the sky, and “all that lived and breathed fled in terror from the shadow of her wings.”  People sometimes forget this line, inserted right in the middle of all of the glorious, “look at me I’m flying!” language, but yeah, for everyone who isn’t riding the dragon, dragons are bad news.  In particular, we see the repeated association with darkening the world, blocking out the sun, drinking the light, etc.

The dream concludes with Daenerys crossing the threshold of the red door, seeing Rhaegar mounted on a black horse in black armor, red fire glimmering through the visor.  Dany lifts the visor and sees her own face, and hear’s Jorah whisper “the last dragon.”

This sequence is very clearly a detailed metaphor for the dragon’s impregnation of the Nissa Nissa moon, with the burning blood and the transformative fire inside our moon maiden, Daenerys (the eyes of red fire beneath the visor turns out to be Dany’s own eyes).  When she wakes from this dream, she feels as though “her body had been torn to pieces and remade from the scraps,”  a match for the “shattering and reforming” language applied to the moon earlier in A Game of Thrones when Dany immerses herself in the womb of the world.

Daenerys herself undergoes symbolic death to be reborn as the new dragon, taking Rhaegar’s place.   This is what happens when the moon is destroyed to forge Lightbringer.  Technically, the flaming black moonstone meteors with fell to earth represent “Lightbringer” in the sense that they are the offspring of father sun’s comet and moon mother’s egg.  Lightbringer is the the rebirth of BOTH the mother and father, as all children are.  The black moon stone meteors contain the essence of father and mother: they are made of moon rock, but burned and blackened by the sun’s “fertilization” of the moon egg with his comet-seed.  In essence, the moon disappeared, and dragons took its place (for a short while, at least).  Accordingly, we see Daenerys go from the moon of Drogo’s life to a solar dragon ruler in her own right (like Rhaegar) after the death of Drogo and the birth of her dragons.  She takes on the lion pelt to signify her solar status, leads her khalasar wandering through the waste, and takes two husbands, fire and ice aspected (Drogo or Daario, depending on interpretation, and then Hizdahr of the frozen cock).

Prior to this wake the dragon dream, she has another blood-burning, transformative experience -however this time it purifies her and brings strength instead of bringing death, which at this point in the story seems like a foreshadowing of Daenerys’s symbolic immolation and rebirth in Drogo’s pyre.  That’s our dual-edged procreation / death metaphor rearing its head again.

Yet when she slept that night, she dreamt the dragon dream again.  Viserys was not in it this time.  There was only her and the dragon.  Its scales were black as night, wet and slick with blood.  Her blood, Dany sensed.  Its eyes were pools of molten magma, and when it opened its mouth, the flame came roaring out in a hot jet.  She could hear it singing to her.  She opened her arms to the fire, embraced it, let it swallow her whole, let it cleanse her and temper her and scour her clean.  She could feel her flesh sear and blacken and slough away, could feel her blood boil and turn to steam, and yet there was no pain.  She felt strong and new and fierce.  

And the next day, strangely, she did not seem to hurt quite so much.  It was as if the gods had heard her and taken pity.  Even her handmaids noticed the change.  “Khaleesi,” Jhiqui said, “what is wrong? Are you sick?”

“I was,” she answered, standing over the dragon’s eggs that Illyrio had given her when she wed.  She touched one, the largest of the three, running her hand lightly over the shell.  Black-and-scarlet, she thought, like the dragon in my dream.  The stone felt strangely warm beneath her fingers … or was she still dreaming?  She pulled her hand back nervously.  (AGOT, Daenerys)

The dragon’s fire boils and burns the blood of the moon – I hope that is apparent by now.  The black dragon in her vision is coated in her blood – moon – blood – and appears wet and slick and black.  Taken with some of these other quotes, this shows that George has been developing the concept of greasy black bloodstone since the beginning of the story.

These three concepts  – the black blood, sun-drinking black stone, and Lightbringer / Azor Ahai – come together in what is probably the most psychedelic chapter in the whole series: Bran’s last chapter of A Dance with Dragons, where he eats the weirwood paste and trips his little Stark nuts off, if you’ll pardon the expression.  This chapter uses descriptions of the moons phases – nine of them in total – as a way of creating a montage-effect to show the passing of time.  Twice, the moon is described as a “black hole in the sky”:

The moon was a black hole in the sky.  Wolves howled in the wood, sniffing through the snowdrifts after dead things.  A murder of ravens erupted from the hillside, screaming their sharp cries, black wings beating above a white world.  A red sun rose and set and rose again, painting the snows in shades of rose and pink.  Under the hill, Jojen brooded, Meera fretted, and Hodor wandered through dark tunnels with a sword in his right hand and a torch in his left.  Or was it Bran wandering?  No one must ever know.

The great cavern that opened on the abyss was as black as pitch, black as tar, blacker than the feathers of a crow. Light entered as a trespasser, unwanted and unwelcome, and soon was gone again; cookfires, candles, and rushes burned for a little while, then guttered out again, their brief lives at an end.  (ADWD, Bran)

The sword and torch thing really leaps of the page, a direct and unambiguous reference to Mithras, and therefore Azor Ahai and Lightbringer.  Our flaming sword hero is wandering – the word is used twice for emphasis – through the darkness, with “under the hill” hearkening back to Beric’s hollow hill.  The red sun appears to connote the death of the sun, with the “and set and rose again” language implies resurrection.

This is probably a good time to mention that crows and ravens are frequently used as metaphors for meteors, because they are flying black things that represent death (carrion eaters; “dark wings, dark words”).  The maester’s link for ravencraft is black iron, for example.  The ravens “erupt” and their black wings are “beating” like a heart (a black heart, pumping black blood).  The crow feathers are evoked while describing the black abyss – those feathers are heliotropic light-drinkers.  The eruption of a “murder” of ravens with “sharp”cries represents a meteors shower of black, sun-drinking dragon stones.  (And yes, “Dragonstone,” the island with a fused black stone citadel shaped like a thousand dragons, is highly symbolic – I’m saving that for another day.)

Since this is “Astronomy of Ice and Fire,” I can’t resist commenting on the appearance of a black hole!  What is a black hole famous for?  Drinking light, of course!  Equating the moon with a black hole suggests both a moon which drinks sunlight as well as a hole left by a moon which was destroyed.  A black hole is also the ultimate “dark star.”  In part one of this series, we saw that Arianne thinks that “Darkstar (Gerold Dayne) was the worm in the apple,” as well as the idea that “if you split a worm in half, you get two worms” from the scene where Alleras the Sphinx is shooting apples with scarlet and golden arrows, a scene in which the three forgings of Lightbringer are symbolized.  The dark star is the worm in the apple, the hidden potential to make a dark, sun-drinking Lightbringer.

If the second moon was some kind of “fire moon” as I have proposed, a moon of molten rock like Jupiter’s Io, it would be another kind of dark star, one with a hidden fire.  Io’s outer crust of silicate (glass-like) rock is coated with sulphur-dioxide, and shines a reflective gold and purple color.  This fits with the idea that our “darkstar” moon went from a sun-mirror, reflecting the sunlight, to a sun-drinker, drinking and absorbing the fire and light like a black hole.

Asshai-by-the-Shadow is intimately connected with the legend of Azor Ahai, as we have seen, so it’s certainly noteworthy to find black, sun drinking bloodstone there:

Travelers tell us that the city is built entirely of black stone: halls, hovels, temples, palaces, streets, walls, bazaars, all. Some say as well that the stone of Asshai has a greasy, unpleasant feel to it, that it seems to drink the light, dimming tapers and torches and hearth fires alike.  The nights are very black in Asshai, all agree, and even the brightest days of summer are somehow gray and gloomy.  (TWOIAF)

Azor Ahai is from a city entirely made of greasy black sun-drinking stone.  The Bloodstone Emperor, who we think is Azor Ahai, worshipped a black stone which fell from the sky, drinking the sun’s fire.  It’s hard to escape the conclusion the black stone of Asshai is the same black stone which the Bloodstone Emperor worshipped, George’s magical black bloodstone.  The greasy black sun-drinking stone is also found at the uber-creepy megalithic city of Yeen on the continent of Sothoryos, which is made of enormous hewn blocks of greasy black stone; the nearby Isle of Toads, where they have a forty foot tall lump of greasy black stone carved into the shape of a huge toad of malignant aspect; and on Pyke itself, in the form of the Seastone Chair.  Moat Cailin, too, may be made of greasy black stone:

The air was wet and heavy, and shallow pools of water dotted the ground.  Reek picked his way between them carefully, following the remnants of the log-and-plank road that Robb Stark’s vanguard had laid down across the soft ground to speed the passage of his host.  Where once a mighty curtain wall had stood, only scattered stones remained, blocks of black basalt so large it must once have taken a hundred men to hoist them into place.  Some had sunk so deep into the bog that only a corner showed; others lay strewn about like some god’s abandoned toys, cracked and crumbling, spotted with lichen. Last night’s rain had left the huge stones wet and glistening, and the morning sunlight made them look as if they were coated in some fine black oil. (ADWD, Reek)

The black basalt stones appear coated in black oil, specifically when struck by the sunlight – that’s a great match for the idea of the sun’s comet turning the moon to greasy black bloodstone.  To reinforce this idea, the black stones are “strewn about like some god’s abandoned toys,” creating the image of a god casting down the black stones.  Some of the black stones are sunken into the bog (itself described as black in AGOT), suggesting the sea dragon meteor which landed in the water and triggered the black tide.

To be clear, I am proposing that all the greasy black stone at the places listed above is actually moon rock which fell to earth at the time of the Long Night, or else pre-existent stone which was burned and radiated in the same way as the moon rock when the firestorm of moon meteors rained down.  This concept fits in with the general Lovecraftian vibe going on around these places, as anyone who has read his The Colour Out of Space will know.  It’s a story about a meteorite which lands in a small town and gradually poisons plants and animals and humans and causes people to go mad, with the end result that it leeches the color and life out of everything and leaves behind a wasteland of grey dust.  On Planetos, the greasy black bloodstone moon rock seems to exhibit a similar corrupting effect, with the strength of of the malignant magic being proportional to the amount of greasy black sun-drinking bloodstone present.  This seems to be an inversion of bloodstone’s supposed healing properties and power to draw out poison, which I take as confirmation that this black bloodstone moon rock has been defiled.

A greasy-looking black meteorite and a bloodstone toad statue of malignant aspect

A greasy-looking black meteorite (left) and a bloodstone toad statue of malignant aspect (right)

There’s a hellacious light-drinking reference in A Dance with Dragons, brought to us by Quentin the Dragontamer:

The lip of the pit was just ahead. Quentyn edged forward slowly, moving the torch from side to side.  Walls and floor and ceiling drank the light.  Scorched, he realized.  Bricks burned black, crumbling into ash.  The air grew warmer with every step he took.  He began to sweat.

Two eyes rose up before him.  Bronze, they were, brighter than polished shields, glowing with their own heat, burning behind a veil of smoke rising from the dragon’s nostrils.  The light of Quentyn’s torch washed over scales of dark green, the green of moss in the deep woods at dusk, just before the last light fades.  Then the dragon opened its mouth, and light and heat washed over them.   Behind a fence of sharp black teeth he glimpsed the furnace glow, the shimmer of a sleeping fire a hundred times brighter than his torch.  The dragon’s head was larger than a horse’s, and the neck stretched on and on, uncoiling like some great green serpent as the head rose, until those two glowing bronze eyes were staring down at him.

Green, the prince thought, his scales are green.  “Rhaegal,” he said.  His voice caught in his throat, and what came out was a broken croak.  Frog, he thought, I am turning into Frog again.  “The food,” he croaked, remembering.  “Bring the food.”  (ADWD,the Dragontamer)

This seems like a major confirmation: dragonfire is what turns stone into black, light-drinking stone, although it is not greasy-looking because it is not coated in black moon blood.   There are several Lightbringer symbols here to let us know what this metaphor is talking about, which I have highlighted: light-drinking activity; the dragon’s eyes like bronze shields (suns) behind a veil of smoke (Long Night cloud cover); the last light fading (Long Night again); and finally, light and flame washing over black teeth which are like swords is evocative of a black steel Lightbringer sword catching on fire (Balerion’s teeth are described as swords in an Arya chapter of A Game of Thrones).

What’s really cool is the Isle of Toads statue reference – Quentin turns to a frog right as he thinks of the green “just before the last light fades” scales of Rhaegal, and of course we had the sun drinking stone in the previous paragraph.  It’s almost like George is spelling out the dark green-to-black color transformation he has wrought on his version of bloodstone.  Oh, and, if I could just briefly mention that in mythology, toads are symbolically associated with the entrance to the underworld or the first level of hell, which is exactly where Quentin is headed at this moment.  This association is generally thought to exist because toads are amphibious, crossing the barrier between the surface realm and the underworld at will.  There might be a “frog-eater” reference here as well, as “Frog” Quentyn ask for the food, not realizing that he is the food.

Saving the best sun-drinking reference for last, we come to the sword which drinks the sun’s light.  In the first essay, we saw that Tywin’s reforging of Ned’s sword Ice into two red and black swords seems to symbolize the splitting of the Lightbringer comet by the sun as it reached perihelion.  This connection is strengthened by the appearance of the “sun-drinking” phrase:

Most Valyrian steel was a grey so dark it looked almost black, as was true here as well.  But blended into the folds was a red as deep as the grey.  The two colors lapped over one another without ever touching, each ripple distinct, like waves of night and blood upon some steely shore.  {…}  “I worked half a hundred spells and brightened the red time and time again, but always the color would darken, as if the blade was drinking the sun from it.   And some folds would not take the red at all, as you can see.”  (ASOS, Tyrion)

In addition to drinking the sun and darkening the crimson to the color of blood, we have the phrase “waves of blood and night.”  This sounds like another way of describing the black and bloody tide which was triggered by the impact of a moon meteor.  It also sounds a lot like the shadow-casting wings of black Drogon:

When she gave a yank, the black dragon raised his head, hissing, and unfolded wings of night and scarlet. Kraznys mo Nakloz smiled broadly as their shadow fell across him.  (ASOS, Daenerys)

At this point, I’ll make this an official hypothesis: the Bloodstone Emperor Azor Ahai made his famous fiery sword from this black, sun-drinking meteorite which he worshipped.  It would be a fitting counterpoint to the Daynes of Starfall, whose white sword Dawn was supposedly made from a pale stone of magical powers, which was the heart of a falling star.

I don’t think Dawn can be Azor Ahai’s Lightbringer, because as we’ve seen, everything associated with falling meteorites in the east involves black, sun-drinking stone – the opposite of Dawn, which is pale as milkglass and alive with light.  This might mean that “Lightbringer” is misnamed – perhaps a better name would be Darkbringer, or Dark Lightbringer (my preference).  It might also mean that the sword Dawn is the sword which actually gives light, the “light-bringer” in a literal sense.  It’s called the “Sword of the Morning,” i.e. “the sword that brought the morning,” while Lightbringer seems to have brought on the nightfall to end all nightfalls.  Arthur Dayne wields the Sword of Morning, but “Darkstar” Gerold Dayne, who is “of the night,” does not.  Nymeria Martell married Davos Dayne, who was Sword of the Morning, but Vorian Dayne, called “the Sword of the Evening,” did not wield Dawn, and was cast down by Nymeria and sent to the Wall.

I have begun thinking of these two swords as both being “lightbringer swords,” meaning that they seem an opposite pair.  It is A Song of Ice and Fire, after all, so the idea of two magical ice and fire swords clashing in the Dawn Age makes a great deal of sense.  Azor Ahai’s Lightbringer is of course associated with fire, while Dawn is pale as milkglass – milkglass being the description of the bones of the Others, which are “like milkglass, pale and shiny..”  The swords of the Others are described as “alive with moonlight, translucent, a shard of crystal,” while Dawn is “alive with light.”  The Others’ swords are also called “pale swords” a couple of times, while at Starfall they have a tower called “the Palestone Sword.”  I won’t be the first to propose this, but consider: “Dawn,” with it’s icy imagery and Dawn Age legacy, may in fact be the original Ice of House Stark.  I’m going to stop here, as there is really a whole essay’s worth of material just on the magic swords, but suffice it to say, we may be looking at “a song of ice and fire swords.”  Anyone familiar with ASOIAF knows that “song” is often a reference for swordplay with phrases like “the song of steel” or “the song of battle.”

So, what have we learned in this essay?  What do we think we “know?”  I’ve already recapped the basic astronomy of the two moons and the comet and thousand thousand dragon meteor shower at the top of the essay, so I won’t duplicate that here.  Picking up from that point, we’ve learned the following (according to hypothesis, of course):

  • AA was the Bloodstone Emperor, and Nissa Nissa was the Amethyst Empress
  • The BSE AA murdered the Amethyst Empress and usurped of the Great Empire of the Dawn – reign of terror, dark arts, necromancy, etc.
  • The BSE AA had something to do with causing the Long Night
  • AA worshipped a black moon meteor, probably using it for dark magic
  • the moon meteors are “black bloodstone,” coated in the fire-transformed black “blood” of the moon, and they “drink the light”
  • the greasy black stone = black bloodstone moon meteors, or stone made in the same fashion
  • AA made “Lightbringer” from one of these black bloodstone moon meteors
  • The BSE AA, Lightbringer, and fire magic in general seems more associated with shadow than light

We’ve also taken a look at the various associations and supposed magical properties of real-world bloodstone and found that George seems to have used many of these ideas, such as several having to do with reflecting light and being a sun-mirror; associations with eclipses and turning the sun’s reflected image red while submersed in water; associations with healing, circulation, and drawing out poison; magical warfare, astral travel, and personal and spiritual power; purple sun-gazing flowers and mother goddesses, and finally, predicting and causing lightning and thunderstorms.  We’ve dealt with a couple of these in this essay which pertain directly to the Bloodstone Emperor Azor Ahai, the man, and in the next two essays, we will continue to explore these bloodstone associations to unravel the rest of the story of magical disaster of the Long Night.  We will be using the Ironborn mythology as a kind of rosetta stone, since their legends represent the most complete story of the devastation wrought on Westeros in particular when this “sea dragon” moon meteor fell from the sky.  We’ve already begun to hear some of the language of this “leviathan:” fire and (black) blood, the black and bloody tide, and total darkness, and in Part 4, we’ll be hearing the entire hallelujah chorus.

continue on to Part 4: The Language of Leviathan

Time is precious, so my deepest gratitude to you for sharing your time with me.

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– LmL