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In the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, a soldier of the ancient Night’s Watch order survives an attack by supernatural creatures known as the White Walkers, thought until now to be mythical. He attempts to abandon the order but is captured and sent to Castle Winterfell, which is ruled by Eddard “Ned” Stark, Warden of the North, who decapitates the soldier for desertion. In King’s Landing, the capital, Jon Arryn, the King’s Hand, dies under mysterious circumstances. King Robert Baratheon, Ned’s longtime friend, travels to Winterfell to offer the position to him and propose marriage between his firstborn son Joffrey and Ned’s older daughter Sansa. Ned’s wife Catelyn receives a letter from her sister Lysa, Jon Arryn’s widow, saying that she has escaped King’s Landing and that Jon was murdered by the Lannisters, Queen Cersei’s family. Catelyn burns the letter and tells Ned about it, believing that the Lannisters are plotting against Robert. Ned’s 10-year-old son, Brandon, climbs a tower, where he witnesses Cersei having sex with her twin brother, Jaime, who then pushes him out the window from a presumably fatal height. Meanwhile across the narrow sea in Essos, the exiled Prince Viserys Targaryen makes a deal with the Dothraki warlord Khal Drogo, who marries Viserys’ younger sister, Daenerys, in exchange for providing Viserys an army to conquer Westeros and reclaim the Iron Throne.