Bael the Bard

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Bael and Brandon face off.
Art by Roman Papsuev

Alias Bael the Bard
Sygerrik of Skagos
Title King-Beyond-the-Wall
Culture Free folk
Book(s) The World of Ice & Fire (mentioned)
A Clash of Kings (mentioned)
A Storm of Swords (mentioned)

Bael the Bard was a King-Beyond-the-Wall.[1] According to legend, he was one of the greatest free folk raiders of his time, a man who outwitted the northmen and impregnated the daughter of Lord Brandon Stark. He was also a bard who wrote songs about his own life, which are still used to this day.[2]



According to free folk legend, Lord Brandon Stark, the liege of the north, once called Bael a coward. To take revenge of this affront and prove his courage, Bael climbed the Wall, took the kingsroad, and entered Winterfell under the guise of a singer named Sygerrik of Skagos, which means "deceiver" in the old language of Skagos. There, he sang until midnight for the lord.[3]

Impressed by his skills as a singer, Lord Stark asked him what he wanted as a reward, and Bael only asked for the most beautiful flower blooming in Winterfell's gardens. As the blue winter roses were just blooming, Brandon Stark accepted to offer him one. The following morning, the single, virgin daughter of the lord had disappeared, and in her bed was the blue winter rose.[3]

Lord Brandon sent the members of the Night's Watch looking for them beyond the Wall, but they never found Bael or the girl. The Stark line was on the verge of extinction, when one day the girl was back in her room, holding in her hand an infant: they had actually never left Winterfell, staying hidden in the crypts. Bael's bastard with Brandon's daughter became the new Lord Stark.

When thirty years later Bael was King-Beyond-the-Wall and led the wildlings' army south, he had to fight his own son at the Frozen Ford. There, incapable of killing his own blood, he let himself be killed by Lord Stark. His son brought back Bael's head to Winterfell, and his mother who had loved the bard, seeing the trophy, killed herself from the top of a tower. The son was eventually slain by the Boltons.[3]


The legend of Bael the Bard is recalled in songs of the free folk. Ygritte learned the song from her mother,[3] and Mance Rayder often sang it at the Shadow Tower after rangings.[4] Bael is not mentioned in the old chronicles at Winterfell,[5] although Jon Snow learned stories from Maester Luwin and Old Nan.[1]

Recent Events

A Clash of Kings

Ygritte tells Jon Snow about the legends of Bael. Her free folk version differs from stories Jon had heard at Winterfell.[1][3]

A Storm of Swords

Mance Rayder, the King-Beyond-the-Wall, tells Jon that the tale of Bael inspired his infiltration of Winterfell to attend the feast with King Robert I Baratheon.[2]

A Dance with Dragons

In order to rescue "Arya Stark" (actually Jeyne Poole) from Winterfell, Mance pretends to be a musician and takes the alias of "Abel", an anagram of "Bael".[6][7]

Quotes by Bael

All I ask is a flower, the fairest flower that blooms in the gardens o' Winterfell.[3]

- Bael to Brandon Stark as told by Ygritte

Quotes about Bael

Ygritte: Well, long before he was king over the free folk, Bael was a great raider.
Stonesnake: A murderer, robber, and raper, is what you mean.[3]

- Ygritte and Stonesnake

Ygritte: So there it is—you have Bael's blood in you, same as me.

Jon: It never happened.

Ygritte: Might be it did, might be it didn't. It is a good song, though.[3]

- Ygritte and Jon Snow

Jon: Your Bael was a liar.
Ygritte: No, but a bard's truth is different than yours or mine.[3]

- Jon Snow and Ygritte