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Aerea Targaryen’s death is the scariest in the history of Westeros

If you play the Game of Thrones you either live or die but few people in Westeros died as brutally as poor Aerea Targaryen who stole Balerion the Black Dread.

Balerion the Black Dreadin Valyria

Every Game of Thrones fan knows that you’re never really safe in the Seven Kingdoms. Across eight seasons of Game of Thrones, we saw kings die, dragons fall, and ancient lich kings get stuck with the pointy end. Basically, we spent several years terrified our favorite Game of Thrones characters would die.

Still, as far as deaths go, the Game of Thrones cast got off lightly compared to the worst demise in the history of Westeros. Even Oberyn Martell, who had his eyes gouged out by The Mountain’s mighty thumbs before having his head cracked open like a ripe watermelon, had a practically peaceful death compared with the fate of Aerea Targaryen.

Now, Aerea’s tale begins when the Targaryen family tree was barely even a sapling. As the eldest daughter of Prince Aegon, Aerea had an unfortunate start in life, growing up in the court of Maegor the Cruel and being overlooked as a potential heir to the Iron Throne (Rhaenyra Targaryen knows a thing or two about that).

Still, Aerea was a bold youth and an even bolder woman. So during the reign of King Jaehaerys the Wise Aerea decided to do something no Targaryen had done in years. She would ride Balerion the Black Dread and make him her mount. This went about as well as you would expect.

The moment she mounted Balerion, the ancient dragon launched itself into the sky, and Area disappeared. For more than a year, King Jaehaerys had his spies scour Essos and the wider corners of the world looking for her, but no one could find her until one day, Balerion returned to King’s Landing with Aerea upon his back.

But this was not the mighty drake that had left Westeros. Balerion was wounded, with a nine-foot-long gash on his neck and a body covered in scars that had not been there before. As shocking as Balerion’s condition was, it was nothing compared to Aerea’s.

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Aerea’s body was a ruin of burned flesh and cracked skin. According to the maester who treated her, nothing could bring down her fever which was hot enough to burn at the touch, and no medicine could numb the pain.

Even more terrifyingly, there appeared to be creatures living under her skin, looking for a way out. The maester described Aerea as “cooking from within, ” her flesh crackling like a roast hog. Eventually, she became so hot that Aerea’s eyes burst, and she was lowered into a tub of ice water for her in a desperate attempt to bring the fever down.

As they did, the creatures under her skin burst forth, killing the girl and terrifying the maester, but the cold seemed to kill the worm-like monsters that had made Aerea their home. Still, while Aerea’s physical condition had been horrifying, it paled compared to the dreadful things she whispered to the master as he worked.

Balerion the Black Dread

In his notes, he wrote, “I pray that I shall soon forget some of the things she whispered.” Following Aerea’s death, Jaeharys banned anyone from discussing her death, but the maester had a theory as to where Balerion had gone. He believed Aerea had no control over the dragon, and he’d done what all dragons did. He’d gone home to the ruins of Old Valyria.

Of course, there’s no proof that happened, but Jaeharys clearly thought the theory had merit, as he banned anyone from traveling to the ruins ever again. What creature lurk in the smoking crater of the Valyrian Freehold? Monsters large enough to hurt Balerion, the mightiest Game of Thrones dragon ever, apparently. Wouldn’t it be great if a future Game of Thrones spin-off gave us a glimpse at the terrors that lurk in those ruins? We know we’d watch. Would you?

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Want to know who the best House of the Dragon characters are? We’ve got you covered. We’ve also written which Game of Thrones dragon is the most powerful and have articles on all the Targaryen dragons, including Arrax, Meraxes, Syrax, and Vermithor.

We’ve compiled a guide detailing everything you need to know about the House of the Dragon season 2 release date and looked into whether a  Game of Thrones season 9 could ever happen. Finally, if you’re bored of this fantasy stuff, we have a list of the 101 best TV series ever made.