An image for next episode [The Door] of Game of Thrones season 6 was recently released on HBO Go’s website, which shows four Children of the Forest sitting together:
Before we go further, here’s some history about the Children of the Forest (COTF):
COTF are believed to be the original inhabitants of Westeros before the First Men invaded their land, about 12,000 years ago. The invasion resulted in a war for dominance between the two which lasted for around 2,000 years. This continuing stalemate eventually made the two races agree to coexist peacefully and sign a pact, giving the open lands to men and forests to the children.
For 4,000 years, the pact lasted until an extended period of Winter (The Long Night) came to haunt Westeros, bringing the white walkers/Others along and causing death and destruction to both races. COTF then joined the First men and defeated the white walkers at the Battle for the Dawn, making them retreat to the Land of Always Winter.
After the Long Night, peace was restored and the COTF slowly moved further north of Westeros. They taught the First men to worship the old gods but after the invasion of Andals, Faith of the Seven supplanted the old gods and their followers cut down most of the weirwoods. The relations between humans and the children grew distant over the years and population of the COTF also dwindled. They were believed to be extinct until recently when Bran met a small group in the cave of the three eyed raven.
It is believed that the COTF possess the ability to warg/skinchange and some with green/red eyes are even greenseers. The children are the ones who carved faces on the weirwood trees which helped them keep watch over the woods. They believed those trees to be gods and that they become part of the weirwoods when they die.
Now check out this image of four White Walkers including the Night’s King from season 6 trailer:
Redditor briandn18 speculates these White Walkers maybe the 4 COTF we saw in the first image (though the leftmost one is most likely Leaf). But with some clever image editing, he also points out the facial similarities between the two groups. Check them out:
George R.R. Martin has been pretty secretive about the origin of white walkers until now. Since they appeared well after the pact and when the COTF moved further north, it gives us all the more reason to believe that the children may be somewhat responsible for the white walker outbreak in Westeros. Were the current white walker leaders a rebellious group of the COTF at some point who didn’t want to make peace with the humans and decided to follow the Great Other, which also explains their present transformation? This theme is also prevalent in Lord of the Rings (one of GRRM’s many inspirations) – Orcs as corrupted Elves, Gollum as a corrupted Hobbit, Nazgul as corrupted men.
The way white walkers raise the dead might also be a kind of warging and since the dead do not have any consciousness, their own consciousness remains intact once they have warged into the deceased’s minds. If the Night’s King is able to touch Bran’s hand in his vision (season 6 teaser), it probably means he is able to intercept the vision because he is a greenseer himself. Briandn18 adds:
As he (Bran) thinks he’s observing a CotF, it time shifts because the Night’s King knows he is infiltrating his past!!
It seems that HBO also took down the image of the four COTF from their website. Interesting! Did they also think that it revealed a little too much? The official synopsis does say that Bran learns a great deal and we can’t wait to find out about it this Sunday.