PHOTO CREDIT: Wikia
This is a fan theory originally posted on reddit by user PM_UR_FactorioLayout and republished here with author’s permission. The original article has been rewritten for the purposes of this blog. You can catch up on more fan theories on Game of Thrones sub-reddit.
Arrival of the First Men
Just about 12,000 year ago before the current timeline in the show, First Men migrated to the continent of Westeros from Essos. As the name implies, they were first humans to migrate to this region. They crossed to the region on a natural land bridge called the Arm of Dorne, with bronze swords and great leathern shields, riding horses. Under the First King, the men settled quickly; carving out holdfasts and farms, they chopped down the carved weir woods for fire.
At time of their arrival, Westros was occupied by the Children of the Forest. While not much is known about them they are said to be small in stature and no taller than children in their adulthood. They hunted with weirwood bows and armed themselves with blades of obsidian. Their wise men, known as Greenseers, possessed powerful magic.
War Between The First Men and Children of The Forest
The First Men began encroaching on the forests of the Children, cutting and clearing land to use them for agriculture. The First Men cut down the Children’s sacred weirwood trees, infuriating them. The Children fought back against the tide of the First Men’s migration throughout Westeros. This also lead to the Children of the Forest creating the White Walkers in order to defend themselves.
After two thousand years of conflict, the two sides had fought to a standstill. The two races tired of the centuries of bloodshed, and representatives of both groups came together on an island in the middle of a great lake in central Westeros, known as Gods Eye. There they forged a lasting peace known as The Pact: the open lands were granted to humanity, while the deep forests were to remain the undisturbed domain of the Children. The First Men were forbidden from ever cutting down a sacred weirwood tree again. To commemorate The Pact, the Children of the Forest carved a face into every weirwood tree on the island (making each a heart tree), and forever after the island has been known as the Isle of Faces.
“The representatives agreed that all open land, field, shore, hill and mountain would be the domain of the First Men, while the deep forest would remain undisturbed under the domain of the Children. The First Men also agreed not to cut down a weirwood ever again.”
Return of The White Walkers
The peace lasted for about 2,000 years, during which time White Walkers also left. Even though it’s never clear as to why they left, reddit user PM_UR_FactorioLayout believes they may have left because they were bound by the terms of the Pact.
Over the 2,000 years First Men have been flourishing and expanding, then The Long Winter hits forcing First Men to burn wood and lots of it. Where do you get large amounts of firewood? The deep forests, which were the Children’s domain in accordance with the Pact. So theoretically, the First Men violated the Pact. Since the White Walkers are creatures created by experimental magic for a specific purpose (defend Children of The Forest), it stands to reason that they came back to kill the First Men after they violated an agreement that was put in place partially to protect the Children.
War of Dawn
Soon after the pact was violated, the War of Dawn took place where the First Men and the Children fought the White Walkers back into the Far North, then the Wall was created to keep them there. Explaining his theory further, PM_UR_FactorioLayout explains the reason why the Children helped the First Men against their own creation is because the Children made concessions in the form of deforestation because their allies were dying from the cold. However, White Walkers being magically created creatures built for one purpose do not make concessions to a magically bound Pact.
The Next 6,000 Years
During the Andal Invasion six thousand years ago, the Andals cut down most of the weirwood trees in southern Westeros, to suppress worship of the Old Gods in favor of the Andal’s new religion, the Faith of the Seven. You might argue that it was the Andals cutting down weirwood trees and not the First Men, so the First Men didn’t further violate the Pact, but the two were inter-marrying during and after the conflict. So Andals, First Men, it’s now one and the same to the White Walkers.
6,000 years later, in current times, the Andals/First Men are still in violation of the Pact, the Pact cannot be undone because the Children have disappeared, so the White Walkers still have a mission to complete. The problem is they just can’t get past the wall (for magic reasons). So what are they doing? Looking for the Horn of Winter.
Then the Horn of Winter is found by the Wildlings, and at the same time the White Walkers begin attacking Wilding camps. Then the Horn is supposedly destroyed, but in comes Bran with his Night King mark to do what the Horn was supposed to. It’s no coincidence that White Walkers haven’t been seen for 6,000 years, then over the past 5-10 years they amass a huge army and head straight for the wall.
One problem with this theory; why did the White Walkers kill one of the Children if they were made and are mindlessly trying to protect them still? Because that Child was protecting the new Three Eyed Raven and the Three Eyed Raven is crucial in stopping the White Walkers from completing their objective, so it may have been a “saving you from yourself” moment. In other words, kill one Child to protect the rest.