WARNING: FULL SPOILERS FOR THE SERIES FINALE EPISODE OF GAME OF THRONES, “THE IRON THRONE,” FOLLOW.
When HBO wrapped up the storylines of Game of Thrones, they created a montage to explain where most of the major players ended up. The great inertia of history reasserted itself, with the noble houses of Westeros retreating back into a monarchy (albeit now a parliamentary government). The Starks ended up flung to the four winds, with Jon going to live beyond The Wall, Arya adventuring west of Westeros, Bran as the new King, and Sansa winning the whole game by securing the independence of the North.
But then there’s the Unsullied. Grey Worm stated he was taking his remaining troops to Naath, the island in the Summer Sea that was the birthplace of Missandei. It was a sweet gesture of hope, that the former warrior slaves might find a modicum of peace among the people of Grey Worm’s true love. But just where is Naath and did Grey Worm really think this through? The deadly butterflies indicate no…
NAATH, THE ISLAND OF BUTTERFLIES
Located in the middle of the Summer Sea, Naath is uniquely situated. South of the smoking peninsula that was once Old Valyria, east of the Summer Isles, and northwest of Sothoryos, Naath was protected for centuries by sheer isolation of the vast ocean. The people of Naath lived alone until Prince Malthar Xaq of the Summer Isle of Koj decreed his people would build massive ships with which to explore the world. After that, the history of Naath is ridiculed with bloodshed and violence as pirates and slavers raided the island’s shores in search of easy victims.
Naath is well known even in Westeros as the “Island of Butterflies.” The insects number in the millions, with hundreds of species native to the land. In fact, butterflies are so prevalent that they are the core around which Naathi religion is built. Worshipping a laughing giant of a god called the Lord of Harmony, the people of Naath believe butterflies are both his messengers and protectors of the island. Evidence suggests the latter at least is true, as the butterflies are most likely responsible for the deaths of any non-natives who dare attempt to colonize the island.
No foreigners have lasted more than a year on Naath. Without fail, each attempt at colonization ends with disease and death. First comes a fever, followed quickly by an erosion of the nervous system that makes the afflicted appear to “dance.” Finally, victims begin to sweat blood as the skin and muscle sloughs off their bones. While the Naathi are immune, and Maesters surmise a black-and-white species of butterfly as large as a man’s hand could be the carrier, medical science on Planetos is woefully inadequate. It could well be that Grey Worm is taking the Unsullied to Naath to die. Perhaps the Lord of Harmony will see them as friends and spare them. But it seems unlikely considering the Unsullied are anathema to the Naathi way of life.
THE PEACEFUL PEOPLE
The Naathi are extreme pacifists. They believe the Lord of Harmony created all living creatures and, as such, are loathe to hurt any of his children. The people of Naath do not eat the flesh of animals nor wear their skins or furs. They abhor violence and refuse to engage in martial pursuits, even to their own detriment. Since they will not raise hands against invaders, pirates and slavers would come under cover of darkness (to avoid the deadly plague) and quickly put whole towns to the torch and carry off anyone they found. Such was the story of Missandei, who was taken from her village at the age of five.
Compare that belief system and lifestyle to that of the Unsullied. Raised under the harshest conditions, the Unsullied are the polar opposite of the Naathi. Should Grey Worm’s fleet arrive in one piece, it is unlikely the Peaceful People will have much use for blasphemous foreigners with good intentions. Years ago, the Naathi moved their settlements inland, curbing the tide of slavers who fear the Dancing Death. A population living in balance with the land around them might not see an influx of killers as a net positive. It is doubtful the Naathi would do anything to stop the Unsullied from settling on the island, as isn’t their nature. But the butterflies would probably solve the incursion for them within the year.
A WHOLE NEW WORLD
That’s not to say all is lost for Grey Worm and the Unsullied. The island of Naath may try to passively kill them simply for existing, but if their mission is truly to protect Missandei’s people, they need only cast their gaze to the east. The nearest landmass to Naath are the Basilisk Isles, and never could the Unsullied find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. The best way to protect Naath would be to leave it alone and instead focus on eradicating the source of the island’s woes.
A whole article could be written on the mysterious and bloody history of the Basilisk Isles. But for our current purposes just know is it a string of islands invested with disease and murderers. Perhaps once the seat of a long-dead ancient civilization, it is currently home to corsairs, murderers, slavers, and other sundry rogues. Each island moves in a cycle: a petty king (or kings) rises up, rules momentarily before succumbing to traitors or terrible disease. Rinse and repeat for centuries, leading to a hodgepodge of only the stoutest villains. Should the Unsullied be looking for a fight, the Basilisk Isles would present a challenge that not even the Free Cities have managed to eradicate.
But seriously, they need to stay off Naath or they’re going to die.