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Winter has come, and Game of Thrones is rapidly moving towards the conflict between the Lannisters and Jon Snow and the Night King as well as the struggle for claim of the Iron Throne. Episode 3 "The Queen's Justice" was jam-packed with dramatic deaths, incredible callbacks and long-awaited meetings but it seems that in all the commotion we may have over looked the importance of the farewell meeting between the shows two biggest drama queens; Varys the Spider and the red priestess, Melisandre of Asshai.
Melisandre has been a character of questionable intent since she was introduced in Season 2. Through the last 5 seasons she has done quite a few... shall we say... twisted things. Amid her many unusual acts has been one great horror: the sacrificial burning of Stannis's daughter. The girl who was a friend to Davos, leading him to swear he will kill the red priestess if he sees her again.
As you can imagine, she's not to keen to be in the room when Jon and Davos arrive in Dragonstone to meet Daenerys. Melisandre avoids the awkward encounter by hiding in the hills, leading to a brief conversation with Varys who, in essence, advises her to get out of Dodge and never look back.
The red priestess does what she does best: she responds with cryptic comments:
I’ve done my part. I’ve brought ice and fire together. . . . My time whispering in the ears of kings has come to an end. . . . Neither of us is common folk anymore. . . . Oh, I will return dear Spider. One last time. I have to die in this strange country, just like you.
Mysterious riddle aside, it's interesting that she would leave for Volantis at this point, as it could take her months to reach. Melisandre knows the importance of the battle with the Night King, as she's admitted that the war with the White Walkers is more important than any claim for the Iron Throne. So what's in Volantis that we don't already know about?
What is Melisandre planning to accomplish by traveling to Volantis?
Perhaps Melisandre isn't really traveling to Volantis at all. We know she has ties to the priests of R'hollor, who reside in Volantis, but High Priestess Kinvara needs no convincing to assist the Queen. With the priestesses preaching the news about Daenerys rising from the flames, it's interesting that Melisandre would opt to travel to Volantis to request her assistance.
It's possible that Melisandre has other motives, like returning home to Asshai and the Shadow Lands to gather something more mystical.
Melisandre was raised in the ancient city of Asshai, beyond the walls of Qarth. Yet even through the books, not much is known about Asshai, other than it is a great seaport large enough to hold Qarth, Volantis, King's Landing and Oldtown within its walls.
So it's possible that HBO will change where Asshai appears in the Known World to make the trip quicker, since George R.R. Martin himself has said that the books will likely never travel to Asshai. If Melisandre is truly traveling there, it must be for a greater purpose, right?
What in Asshai is so pivotal for war with the White Walkers?
If Melisandre truly plans to return to Asshai rather than travel to Volantis, it could be a suggestion that she believes the only way to defeat the Night King is to travel into the Shadow Lands beyond the walls of Asshai. That's where, theories say, the Lord of Light originated.
The idea that Game of Thrones is set for a return to Asshai seems logical when put together with a prophecy from the books when Quaithe (another Shadowbinder who appeared in Season 2) tells Daenerys:
To go north, you must go south. To reach the west you must go east. To go forward you must go back, and to touch the light you must pass beneath the shadow.
If the Lord of Light truly originated in this arcane city, perhaps Melisandre is going to Asshai because there is something related to the hero of the past, the one and only Azor Ahai, who defeated the White Walkers over a thousand years ago. When the White Walkers last rose, Ahai used the mystic sword named Lightbringer to defeat them. The prophecy claims that he will be reborn when the Others (aka the White Walkers & Wights) return.
After reviving Jon Snow, Melisandre came to believe that the Lord of Light chose to allow him to return to life for a reason, quite possibly to wield Lightbringer in the upcoming battle between the Night King and the world of men.
Although she approached Daenerys with a seeming confirmation that Dany is the Prince That Was Promised, it feels as though Melisandre would hold out hope for Jon Snow to be the one destined to win the war and hold the Iron Throne.
Whatever Melisandre is planning, it's sure to take some time to come to fruition so it's possible that we won't learn of her scheme until Season 8.