In episode 3 of House of the Dragon, Rhaenyra is compelled to take part in a hunt in the King’s wood. While she sets off on her own, she comes across a white stag whose appearance has a particular significance.
The king and company set out on a hunt in the King’s wood in honour of the second name day of Viserys’ first-born son, Prince Aegon, his child with Alicent Hightower. Everyone expected the Viserys to name Aegon his rightful heir but he does not want to take that right away from Rhaenyra.
A target fit for a king
Soon after they reach the camp in the woods, Rhaenyra and Viserys run afoul of each other because Viserys pushed Jason Lannister in her direction to bring up the subject of marriage. Rhaenyra is annoyed with her father and rushes out of camp with Ser Criston chasing after her.
The scouts of the hunting party inform Viserys that they have spotted a white hart, a giant white stag that was the sign of royalty in the land long before the dragons appeared.
Otto tells Viserys that the opportunity to fell a white stag in honour of prince Aegon is a sign from the gods and that there could be no better target for the hunt.
Proving her mettle
Rhaenyra and Criston roam the forests discussing how different their lives are with Rhaenyra lamenting the responsibility thrust upon her of marrying someone now that she’s of age.
Criston tells her that any normal person could only wish to be in the position that the princess is in but she tells him that the only reason for that is because they do not know how difficult it is to be where she is.
They sit around a campfire as it gets dark with Criston insisting they head back to camp but Rhaenyra wishes to stay away a little longer. As they wait, they’re interrupted by the sound of rustling bushes.
A massive boar runs through and knocks Criston down before pouncing on Rhaenyra. She holds it off until Criston wounds it, following which Rhaenyra takes out her knife and finishes the boar off.
A message from the gods
The final day of the hunt arrives and Viserys is summoned to the woods where his men have restrained a regular brown stag. Viserys is still feeling the effects of the wine that he consumed the previous night and his general malaise for hunting also shows.
He walks up to the stag with the weapon gifted to him by Jason Lannister. Despite being shown where to strike, Viserys misses his mark after which he has to strike once more to confirm the kill.
Meanwhile, Rhaenyra surveys the woods from a high on up, still covered in the blood of her kill. She and Criston come across the white stag looking majestic in all its glory.
Criston draws his blade but Rhaenyra tells him to leave it alone. The stag watches them for a brief moment before trotting away back into the forest.
With Otto stating the significance of spotting a white stag, the fact that Rhaenyra saw it and chose to be merciful, coupled with her father’s failure to kill the regular stag with a proper blow, suggests that Rhaenyra is much more suited to the throne than her meek father.