Once upon a time, there was a great kingdom in a faraway land that stood on the brink of disaster. Many songs would be sung of deeds great and terrible during this time of crisis, songs of ancient evils and ancient wonders. This song begins with a falling star...
His mother hated it when he scrambled across the rooftops, but for a boy of seven namedays the roofs of Winterfell were the greatest playground imaginable. From his perch above the castle’s everyday life Bran could see everything, above and below. He carefully clambered up the rubble of the Broken Tower, aiming for the very highest point. Beneath him Winterfell sprawled like a great grey tree with tangled roots, and above the sky shone a brilliant blue.
Around him the North stretched around him like a vast green carpet. Bran peered out, imagining that he could see the whole of the North, if not the whole of Westeros from his vantage point. His eyes strained to look north, searching for the vague blue haze that marked the Wall, or the vague green haze of the Neck. Beyond that, Bran fancied he could see a tiny flash of red-gold an impossible distance away marking the site of King’s Landing.
Bran looked to the east, trying to see far Essos with his eyes and fancy, but instead saw a tiny, bright speck of light high in the sky. At first he thought it might be a star, but it was nearly midday. Furthermore, the speck seemed to grow nearer as he watched it. Whatever it is, it’s coming towards Winterfell.
Bran’s eyes widened as he realized what it must be. A falling star! He’d seen brief glimpses of falling stars before, out his bedroom window deep at night, never before in the day. The minstrels often sang of the Daynes in Dorne, how they found a falling star and made the legendary sword Dawn from the metal in its heart. Maybe we can find this falling star and have some star-metal of our own. A sword fit for Father, or for Robb, or maybe I could take it and do something great out there, in the lands beyond Winterfell…
As he watched, the star blazed overhead, a great fire in the sky trailing smoke, almost close enough to touch. Bran reached out to touch it but could only feel the heat of its passing in his fingers and face. The star continued to fall westward towards the wolfswood. Behind it came the faint rumble of thunder and a thin moaning sound just on the edge of perception.
Candles burning around her, the red priestess gazed deep into the hearthfire. The Lord of Light’s visions taxed her strength to receive, and her wit to interpret. Lord, Melisandre prayed, show me your will so that I may do what is required of me. Must I turn away from your instrument? Was I wrong? I had been so sure…
Visions danced in the flames, looping and whorling across each other. She saw towers of glittering black crystal rising from a red wasteland, and men with steel limbs contending against one another. She saw a pale creature with eyes the color of old ice glaring hatefully from a tower of blue stone and gold. The enemy? Have I seen the Great Other?
In the spaces between the flames, she saw stars spinning endlessly in the night. One star detached from the others and fell to earth trailing smoke and burning feathers. The fallen star touched the ground with a mighty blast. The image blurred and resolved into a woman with stars in her hair and eyes the color of wildfire.
This is not Azor Ahai, she thought. And yet… the enemy, the star and the woman. My Lord would not show this to me if it did not mean something.Melisandre rocked back from the hearth, sweat pouring from her brow. She mopped the sweat away with a stray scrap of cloth; the visions had been harder and harder on her these past few weeks, and it would not do for a priestess of R’hllor to show weakness.
She turned back to the fire and summoned her will for one final effort. Show me my path, Lord. The fire surged, and she saw war, death, suffering, sorrow and darkness reflected in the flames. Behind it all, the tower of blue and gold gleamed with malevolent, pale light from the very summit of the world. She saw the hazy figure of Azor Ahai framed in that baleful light, and the wildfire-eyed woman calling down the stars.
Melisandre tore herself from the vision with a cry and fell to the floor, spent.
THE THREE-EYED CROW
Tangled within the weirwood’s roots, the last greenseer watched with mingled concern and curiosity as the flames around the falling star faded, revealing a great metal dromond which tore a swathe through the wolfswood, shattering trees and ploughing a furrow through the forest soil until it came to rest, its prow barely an arm’s span from an ancient and forgotten heart tree.
Well, that’s new.