"The Long Night" may be behind us on Game of Thrones, but that does not necessarily mean that winter is over.
Warning! Spoilers for Game of Thrones lie ahead!
Game of Thrones shocked fans last weekend by cutting the War for the Dawn short. The Night King was killed and his entire army fell. As far as we can tell, the threat of the White Walkers is behind us, and what remains is Daenerys' war for the throne. However, some fans suspect that magic will still play a role going forward, especially now that Jon Snow knows his heritage.
Enter: ice dragons. Ice dragons are mentioned in George R.R. Martin's novels, A Song of Ice and Fire, the series upon which Game of Thrones is based. These magical creatures hail from the far north, and are larger than Valyrian fire dragons like Daenerys'. However, they are susceptible to heat and their entire bodies melt when they die, so they are less prominent throughout the world.
Still, some fans are still dying to see ice dragons turn up in the story, especially now that Jon Snow is exploring the implications of his true parentage. As the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, Jon is represents the union of fire and ice. This is important symbolically, thematically and probably in the plot as well. The books make it very clear that both forces are needed to beat the White Walkers and bring the world into balance.
Even though only three episodes are left, fans have one strong source of hope that an ice dragon could still show up: Vermax. Vermax was a dragon that lived 200 years before the main storyline. He was ridden by Daenerys' ancestor Jacaerys Valaryon, and was mentioned extensively in Fire and Blood, Martin's latest book, which came out in November.
Unconfirmed reports in Westeros say that Vermax laid a clutch of dragon eggs in the crypts of Winterfell, where the dragon stayed to avoid the cold. Many fans are fixated on this vague tale, especially after spending so much of last week's harrowing episodes down in the crypts, and now that Jon is a known dragon rider.
They suggest that these eggs could be somewhere in Winterfell, waiting to hatch for a worthy rider. It could be that a magical dragon egg influenced by the icy magic of the north would hatch into some kind of ice dragon hybrid — a perfect steed for Jon Snow.
This theory is shaky, but it is fun to consider. For many fans, it would be a more apt development of Jon's Targaryen heritage than simply giving him a bond with Rhaegal. However, after Jon and Rhaegal fell in the Battle of Winterfell, it is unclear where their relationship stands.
There are countless fan theories about the supposed clutch of dragon eggs at Winterfell and ice dragons in general. Some fans believe that the cold pool beside the Godswood is the melted body of an ice dragon, and some speculate that there really are dragons living in the deep crypts beneath the castle.
At this point, there's no way of knowing for sure how ice dragons could appear in the story or what they would mean for Westeros and the war for the throne. Whatever the case, if there are big surprises like this in store, the show only has three episodes left to reveal and develop them.
Game of Thrones airs on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.