Jaskinia Trójokiej Wrony
The cave itself is actually a great cavern under a hill, deep within a system of caves. Lord Brynden is seated on a czardrzewo throne in the great cavern, by an abyss, attended to by the remaining Dzieci Lasu.
Under the hill
Under the hill there is a cave system. The caves are timeless, vast silent. They are home to more than 3 score living singers and the bones of thousands dead, and extend far below the hollow hill.
Leaf later warns Bran and his companions that men should not go wandering in this place. There are passages that go even deeper, bottomless pits and sudden shafts, forgotten ways that lead to the very center of the earth. Leaf says that even the children have not explored them all, even though they have lived there for a thousand thousand man-years.
The entrance is a cleft in a hillside, halfway up, between some weirwood trees. It is warded; dead men cannot enter. There is another way in, the back door is three leagues north, down a sinkhole.
The way down
From the hillside entrance the way is cramped and twisty, and so low that Hodor has to crouch. There are thick white roots growing from the tunnel wall. Leaf leads Bran and his companions, holding a torch to light the way.
After going down a little the cave divides and Bran and his companions take the right branch. They pass another branching, and another then come into an echoing cavern as large as the great hall of Winterfell, with stone teeth hanging from its ceiling and more poking through the floor. There are more side passages after that and more chambers.
On his way down Bran sees slitted eyes that glow bright reflecting Leaf’s torchlight. The czardrzewo roots are everywhere and Bran thinks to himself that there must be a whole grove of czardrzewos growing up above.
The passage of skulls
As they journey they hear crunching beneath their feet and Bran realizes that it is bones causing the crunching - the floor of the passage is littered with bones of birds and beasts. There are other bones too, big ones that must come from Olbrzymy and small ones that could be from Children.
On either side, in niches carved from stone, skulls look down on them.
Bran sees a bear skull and a wolf skull, half a dozen human skulls and near as many giants. All the rest are small, queerly formed – children of the forest. The weirwoods' roots have grown in and around and through the skulls, every one. A few [[Kruk|s have perched atop them, watching Bran and his companions pass with bright black eyes.
The last part of the journey is the steepest. Hodor has to make the final descent on his arse, bumping and sliding down. Leaf waits for them, standing on one end of a natural bridge above a yawning chasm.
The great cavern, by the abyss
The great cavern opens on an abyss is as black as pitch, black as tar, blacker than the feathers of a crow, its depths are cold and black. Light enters as a trespasser, unwanted and unwelcome. There are long stone teeth hanging down from the ceiling. Down below the darkness, a rushing river can be heard.
Leaf raises her torch and tells them to look behind … before them is a pale lord in ebon finery sitting dreaming in a tangled nest of roots. He is the Last Greenseer. He sits on a woven weirwood throne of roots that embrace his limbs as a mother does a child. He sits in the great cavern, half corpse, half tree. He has only one red eye, Bran feels it staring at him, shining like a pool of blood in Leaf’s torchlight. He says:
|“||“And now you come to me at last, Brandon Stark, though the hour is late”.||”|
The river is 600 feet below, down steep slopes and twisty passages; the last part requires climbing down on a rope. The river down below is swift and black, and it flows down and down to a sunless sea. The great cavern echoes to its sound.
Bran explores the caves by slipping inside Hodor’s skin. He finds chambers full of bones, shafts that plunge deep into the earth, a place where the skeletons of gigantic bats hang upside down from the ceiling.
Across the slender bridge
In Hodor’s skin Bran even crosses the slender stone bridge that arches over the abyss and discovers more passages and chambers on the far side. One is full of singers, enthroned like Lord Brynden, in nests of weirwood roots that weave under and through and around their dead bodies.
Most of them look dead to him but as he crosses in front of them their eyes open and follow the torch, and one of them opens and closes a wrinkled mouth as if he were trying to speak.
Bran Stark’s weirwood throne
Under the hill Bran sits on a weirwood throne of his own, the Dzieci Lasu make it for him, like the one the three-eyed crow sits on - white weirwood flecked with red, dead branches woven through living roots. The children place it in the great cavern by the abyss, next to Lord Brynden’s throne, where the black air echoes to the sounds of running water far below. The singers make his seat of soft grey moss; once he has been lowered into place they cover him in warm furs.
No sunlight ever reaches the caves beneath the hill. No moonlight ever touches those stoney halls. Even the stars are strangers there. These things belong to the world above, where time runs in circles, day to night to day to night to day.
Under the hill there is food to eat. A hundred kinds of mushrooms grow down there. Blind white fish swim in the black river, but they taste just as good as fish with eyes once cooked.
They have cheese and milk from the goats that share the caves with the singers, even some oats and barleycorn and dried fruit laid by during the long summer. Almost everyday they eat a blood stew, thickened with barley and onions and chunks of meat. Jojen thinks it might be squirrel meat, and Meera says its rat; Bran is not sure.
Bran, Meera, Jojen and Hodor sleep in a small chamber off the big cavern where the singers made beds for them to sleep.
The cave is warded. Dead men cannot pass. Outside the hillside entrance to the cave the snows have buried most of the dead men, but they are still there, hidden, frozen, waiting. Summer digs his way through the snowdrifts at the entrance to the cave whenever he goes outside to join his pack to hunt.
|“||All the color is gone … The world was black soil and white wood||”|
References and Notes
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