Illyrio Mo'Parties

The dead near Saltpans

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They came upon the first corpse a mile from the crossroads.
He swung beneath the limb of a dead tree whose blackened trunk still bore the scars of the lightning that had killed it. The carrion crows had been at work on his face, and wolves had feasted on his lower legs where they dangled near the ground. Only bones and rags remained below his knees . . . along with one well-chewed shoe, half-covered by mud and mold.
"What does he have in his mouth?" asked Podrick.
Brienne had to steel herself to look. His face was grey and green and ghastly, his mouth open and distended. Someone had shoved a jagged white rock between his teeth. A rock, or ...
 "Salt," said Septon Meribald.
Fifty yards farther on they spied the second body. The scavengers had torn him down, so what remained of him was strewn on the ground beneath a frayed rope looped about the limb of an elm. Brienne might have ridden past him, unawares, if Dog had not sniffed him out and loped into the weeds for a closer smell.
"What do you have there, Dog?" Ser Hyle dismounted, strode after the dog, and came up with a halfhelm. The dead man's skull was still inside it, along with some worms and beetles. "Good steel," he pronounced, "and not too badly dinted, though the lion's lost his head. Pod, would you like a helm?"
"Not that one. It's got worms in it."
"Worms wash out, lad. You're squeamish as a girl."
Brienne scowled at him. "It is too big for him."
"He'll grow into it."
"I don't want to," said Podrick. Ser Hyle shrugged, and tossed the broken helm back into the weeds, lion crest and all. Dog barked and went to lift his leg against the tree.
After that, hardly a hundred yards went by without a corpse. They dangled under ash and alder, beech and birch, larch and elm, hoary old willows and stately chestnut trees. Each man wore a noose around his neck, and swung from a length of hempen rope, and each man's mouth was packed with salt. Some wore cloaks of grey or blue or crimson, though rain and sun had faded them so badly that it was hard to tell one color from another. Others had badges sewn on their breasts. Brienne spied axes, arrows, several salmon, a pine tree, an oak leaf, beetles, bantams, a boar's head, half a dozen tridents. Broken men, she realized, dregs from a dozen armies, the leavings of the lords.
Some of the dead men had been bald and some bearded, some young and some old, some short, some tall, some fat, some thin. Swollen in death, with faces gnawed and rotten, they all looked the same. On the gallows tree, all men are brothers. Brienne had read that in a book, though she could not recall which one.
It was Hyle Hunt who finally put words to what all of them had realized. "These are the men who raided Saltpans."
"May the Father judge them harshly," said Meribald, who had been a friend to the town's aged septon.
Who they were did not concern Brienne half so much as who had hanged them. The noose was the preferred method of execution for Beric Dondarrion and his band of outlaws, it was said. If so, the so-called lightning lord might well be near.
Dog barked, and Septon Meribald glanced about and frowned. "Shall we keep a brisker pace? The sun will soon be setting, and corpses make poor company by night. These were dark and dangerous men, alive. I doubt that death will have improved them."
"There we disagree," said Ser Hyle. "These are just the sort of fellows who are most improved by death." All the same, he put his heels into his horse, and they moved a little faster.

-- Brienne VII, A Feast for Crows

 

Of course, later on Brienne and co. get attacked by Rorge and Biter, who are the actual men responsible for raiding Saltpans. I find it hard to believe that Rorge's band would split up after the raid, nor that they'd lose that many men to the Brotherhood without being destroyed completely. So I suppose that Ser Hyle Hunt is wrong, and these hanged men were not the men who raided Saltpans.

So who were they? I've bolded the sigils, in case people can help. I make Cerwyn, Mooton, and Oakheart (thanks to this), but I can't figure the others.

And once we know who they were - who hanged them? And why?

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P.S. It's not my place to tell other people what to say, but I do think it would be wonderful if I could get at least one thread going where people don't feel compelled to chime in only with the bleeding fucking obvious. So, yes, they're probably random ex-soldiers, killed by the Brotherhood under Lady Stoneheart, in a campaign of frontier justice gone wrong. Occam's razor, that's probably it. Can we please focus on some more interesting possibilities?

I'll start: are they being hanged by Randyll Tarly's men to bolster his propaganda against Beric Dondarrion? Perhaps they didn't even die in the Riverlands, but are just casualties of the fighting at Duskendale or Maidenpool. I note that Septon Meribald is able to pick up a large quantity of salt at Maidenpool:

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They left the next morning, as the sun was coming up.

It was a queer procession: Ser Hyle on a chestnut courser and Brienne on her tall grey mare, Podrick Payne astride his swayback stot, and Septon Meribald walking beside them with his quarterstaff, leading a small donkey and a large dog. The donkey carried such a heavy load that Brienne was half afraid its back would break. "Food for the poor and hungry of the riverlands," Septon Meribald told them at the gates of Maidenpool. "Seeds and nuts and dried fruit, oaten porridge, flour, barley bread, three wheels of yellow cheese from the inn by the Fool's Gate, salt cod for me, salt mutton for Dog . . . oh, and salt. Onions, carrots, turnips, two sacks of beans, four of barley, and nine of oranges. I have a weakness for the orange, I confess. I got these from a sailor, and I fear they will be the last I'll taste till spring."

-- Brienne V, A Feast for Crows

ETA: Whoops, I forgot that Tarly is trying to pin Saltpans on Beric. So unless he's trying to suggest that Beric is hanging people left and right to throw off the trail from his own scent, it's probably not Tarly. Damn, I thought I was on to something cool there.

Edited by Illyrio Mo'Parties

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Related sigils include:

axe - Byrch, Cerwyn

arrow - Hunter (doubtful), Norridge, Sarsfield

salmon - Mooton

pine tree - Orkwood (doubtful), Mollen, Tallhart

oak leaf - Oakheart

beetle - Bettley

bantam - Swyft

boar's head - Vikary

trident - Manderly, Haigh (pitchfork)

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Also lion, on the half helm offered to Podrick. Probably not Reyne  ;-)

Edited by zandru

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2 hours ago, Illyrio Mo'Parties said:

-- Brienne VII, A Feast for Crows

 

Of course, later on Brienne and co. get attacked by Rorge and Biter, who are the actual men responsible for raiding Saltpans. I find it hard to believe that Rorge's band would split up after the raid, nor that they'd lose that many men to the Brotherhood without being destroyed completely. So I suppose that Ser Hyle Hunt is wrong, and these hanged men were not the men who raided Saltpans.

So who were they? I've bolded the sigils, in case people can help. I make Cerwyn, Mooton, and Oakheart (thanks to this), but I can't figure the others.

And once we know who they were - who hanged them? And why?

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

P.S. It's not my place to tell other people what to say, but I do think it would be wonderful if I could get at least one thread going where people don't feel compelled to chime in only with the bleeding fucking obvious. So, yes, they're probably random ex-soldiers, killed by the Brotherhood under Lady Stoneheart, in a campaign of frontier justice gone wrong. Occam's razor, that's probably it. Can we please focus on some more interesting possibilities?

I'll start: are they being hanged by Randyll Tarly's men to bolster his propaganda against Beric Dondarrion? Perhaps they didn't even die in the Riverlands, but are just casualties of the fighting at Duskendale or Maidenpool. I note that Septon Meribald is able to pick up a large quantity of salt at Maidenpool:

-- Brienne V, A Feast for Crows

Since you're asking for some crackpottery, perhaps they were hanged by people headed the other direction? Wolves in sheeps clothing if you will, if the HS is HR and the sisters who tend Cersei are of the North. Perhaps more came too, and as they came they did a little cleaning. Don't they use ropes as belts?

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2 hours ago, Illyrio Mo'Parties said:

I'll start: are they being hanged by Randyll Tarly's men to bolster his propaganda against Beric Dondarrion? Perhaps they didn't even die in the Riverlands, but are just casualties of the fighting at Duskendale or Maidenpool. I note that Septon Meribald is able to pick up a large quantity of salt at Maidenpool.

How does it help bolster the propaganda? Is Tarly trying to portray that the BWB aren't needed? If so, well Maidenpool is in the RLs. The big story from the Saltpans is that "Sandor Clegane" was there. There isn't anything to tie those guys to the BWB either. It's just a bunch of random corpses. Saying that they were members of the BWB isn't going to convince anyone.

I guess Tarly or the Frey knight could have hanged those men, but I just don't see much useful coming out of it portraying them as BWB members, unless you're going to say Sandor joined them, which I don't believe we've seen as of yet.

40 minutes ago, The Bastards Giant Friend said:

Since you're asking for some crackpottery, perhaps they were hanged by people headed the other direction? Wolves in sheeps clothing if you will, if the HS is HR and the sisters who tend Cersei are of the North. Perhaps more came too, and as they came they did a little cleaning. Don't they use ropes as belts?

Oh god please no

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12 minutes ago, Universal Sword Donor said:

How does it help bolster the propaganda? Is Tarly trying to portray that the BWB aren't needed? If so, well Maidenpool is in the RLs. The big story from the Saltpans is that "Sandor Clegane" was there. There isn't anything to tie those guys to the BWB either. It's just a bunch of random corpses. Saying that they were members of the BWB isn't going to convince anyone.

I guess Tarly or the Frey knight could have hanged those men, but I just don't see much useful coming out of it portraying them as BWB members, unless you're going to say Sandor joined them, which I don't believe we've seen as of yet.

Oh god please no

Ha! Haven't you ever seen a cracked pot at a market and thought to yourself "gotta have it"?

Perhaps the hangings are the work of disgruntled rope industry titans. And they have turned their sweatshop employees into armies. 

No, they would take too much pride in their work to use ropes that could fray.

Perhaps the people hanged themselves in their attempt to get out of reach of a pack of ravenous wolves led by Nymeria?

Nay, I stand by this being the churches work. Which is why dog owns it and pees on the tree to mark their territory.

Edited by The Bastards Giant Friend
Seen not scene

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3 hours ago, Nittanian said:

Related sigils include:

axe - Byrch, Cerwyn

arrow - Hunter (doubtful), Norridge, Sarsfield

salmon - Mooton

pine tree - Orkwood (doubtful), Mollen, Tallhart

oak leaf - Oakheart

beetle - Bettley

bantam - Swyft

boar's head - Vikary

trident - Manderly, Haigh (pitchfork)

Thanks! Is the trident the thing she'd notice for Manderly men, though? Isn't the merman the bigger part of the sigil?

32 minutes ago, Universal Sword Donor said:

How does it help bolster the propaganda? Is Tarly trying to portray that the BWB aren't needed? If so, well Maidenpool is in the RLs. The big story from the Saltpans is that "Sandor Clegane" was there. There isn't anything to tie those guys to the BWB either. It's just a bunch of random corpses. Saying that they were members of the BWB isn't going to convince anyone.

I guess Tarly or the Frey knight could have hanged those men, but I just don't see much useful coming out of it portraying them as BWB members, unless you're going to say Sandor joined them, which I don't believe we've seen as of yet.

That wasn't what I meant, but you've pointed out a pretty big hole in that idea so it doesn't matter anyway. OP updated to reflect that.

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7 minutes ago, Illyrio Mo'Parties said:

Thanks! Is the trident the thing she'd notice for Manderly men, though? Isn't the merman the bigger part of the sigil?

Manderlys usually use the merman, but Wylis and Wyman are known to also use trident brooches.

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One fat lordling haunted the kitchens, Hot Pie told her, always looking for a morsel. His mustache was so bushy that it covered his mouth, and the clasp that held his cloak was a silver-and-sapphire trident. (ACOK Arya VII)

His velvet doublet was a soft blue-green, embroidered with golden thread at hem and sleeves and collar. His mantle was ermine, pinned at the shoulder with a golden trident. (ADWD Davos IV)

 

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The dead men had salt stuffed in their mouth! Sounds like that Meribald character mighta been up to clandestine activities. He did tell Brienne he fought in the War of the Ninepenny Kings and that he’s been a septon for 40 years. The last 20 of which he has been shoeless.

Here’s my picks for the sigils Brienne spied

Axes   Cerwyn (north) or Dustin (north)

Arrows   Hunter (vale)  ?

Salmon   Mooton (riverlands)

Pine tree   Mollen (north)

Oak leaf   Blanetree (riverlands) or Oakheart (reach)

Beetles   Bettley (westerlands)

Bantams   Herston (stormlands) or Swyft (westerlands)

Boars head   Vikary (westerlands)

Tridents    Cordon (north)

I’ve been re-reading the FfC Brienne chapters. Finally got to Brienne VI. FfC, what can I say, other than was is a difficult read for me the first time and taxing re-read. I haven’t gotten to the part mentioned below about the hanged men.

On 2/17/2017 at 10:46 AM, Illyrio Mo'Parties said:

I find it hard to believe that Rorge's band would split up after the raid, nor that they'd lose that many men to the Brotherhood without being destroyed completely. So I suppose that Ser Hyle Hunt is wrong, and these hanged men were not the men who raided Saltpans.

When Brienne’s little band met up Shagwell, Pyg and Timeon at the Whispers Timeon says:

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A Feast for Crows - Brienne IV   Timeon shrugged. "We all went our own ways, after we left Harrenhal. Urswyck and his lot rode south for Oldtown. Rorge thought he might slip out at Saltpans. Me and my lads made for Maidenpool, but we couldn't get near a ship." The Dornishman hefted his spear. "You did for Vargo with that bite, you know. His ear turned black and started leaking pus. Rorge and Urswyck were for leaving, but the Goat says we got to hold his castle. Lord of Harrenhal, he says he is, no one was going to take it off him. He said it slobbery, the way he always talked. We heard the Mountain killed him piece by piece. A hand one day, a foot the next, lopped off neat and clean. They bandaged up the stumps so Hoat didn't die. He was saving his cock for last, but some bird called him to King's Landing, so he finished it and rode off."

So far it is difficult to ascertain how much truth Hyle is telling. He said Tarly had told him to follow Brienne when she left Maidenpool the first time. The second time Brienne left Maidenpool Hyle said Tarly had dismissed him. He also says that Tarly is putting out word that the Hound is riding with Beric to turn the common against Beric & the Brotherhood.

 

Edited by Clegane'sPup

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Yeah they split up after Harrenhal but after the Saltpans raid? They can't have been that numerous, and there's safety in numbers, especially after you just burned down a town.

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21 hours ago, Illyrio Mo'Parties said:

Yeah they split up after Harrenhal but after the Saltpans raid?

After reading the quagmire the only thing I can come up with is the people in story think that Sandor is rampaging with one of the many bands of outlaws. I, the reader am told differently in the Brienne chapter that introduces the Elder Brother.  The Elder Brother for some odd reason seems well informed about the activities happening outside his Quite Isle. An example of that is, according to Meribald the EB told him that the inn was being run by the two Heddle girls.

The hanged men with salt in their mouths – that’s the work of LSH’s crew. It is not explained until later that Beric died giving Cat the kiss. Which means to me in story people think Beric is alive.  Stuffing salt in their mouth is an interesting bit that I had not noticed until you mentioned it and could possibly make an interesting topic.

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A Feast for Crows - Brienne VIII   "Guest right don't mean so much as it used to," said the girl. "Not since m'lady come back from the wedding. Some o' them swinging down by the river figured they was guests too."

Below are a few quotes that I think apply to the general discussion of the topic. Keep in mind that Shagwell told Brienne Rorge may have gone to the Saltpans. Rorge is in possession of the hound helmet.

When Rorge showed up at the inn he had six companions with him. Brienne killed Rorge. Gendry killed Biter. Gendry had told Brienne she would meet his friends and Brienne thought:

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A Feast for Crows - Brienne VII     He shrugged. "You'll meet them soon enough."  I may not want to meet them, Brienne thought, as the first riders came splashing through the puddles into the yard. Beneath the patter of the rain and Dog's barking, she could hear the faint clink of swords and mail from beneath their ragged cloaks. She counted them as they came. Two, four, six, seven. Some of them were wounded, judging from the way they rode.

Later Brienne asks a question and is told:

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A Feast for Crows - Brienne VIII    "Why set my bones and wash my wounds if you only mean to hang me?"  "Why indeed?" He glanced at the candle, as if he could no longer bear to look at her. "You fought bravely at the inn, they tell me. Lem should not have left the crossroads. He was told to stay close, hidden, to come at once if he saw smoke rising from the chimney . . . but when word reached him that the Mad Dog of Saltpans had been seen making his way north along the Green Fork, he took the bait. We have been hunting that lot for so long . . . still, he ought to have known better. As it was, it was half a day before he realized that the mummers had used a stream to hide their tracks and doubled back behind him, and then he lost more time circling around a column of Frey knights. If not for you, only corpses might have remained at the inn by the time that Lem and his men got back.

So, I’ve got Tarly, Freys and some lordling trying to clean up outlaws. Tarly considers this Lady Stoneheart an outlaw. As mentioned above, Lem & his group were supposed to be keeping watch at the inn.

I assume Rorges pack that showed up at the inn are the ones who burned and pillaged Saltpans.

I assume the hanging dead men with salt stuffed in their mouth were men killed by LSH’s crew.

If I back up to the SoS epilogue I know that Cat is alive (?) but she does not yet have the moniker LSH. She is also aware that Sandor, the Hound, may have had Arya with him. I would also mention that Arya in her last chapter in SoS boarded the Titan’s Daughter at Saltpans. The ship was bound for Braavos. Saltpans a tiny minor little port of call what’s a Braavosi ship doing there.

That ship is mentioned by name again in FfC:

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A Feast for Crows - Brienne V   Half a dozen were in port, though one, a galleas called the Titan's Daughter, was casting off her lines to ride out on the evening tide.

Two books forward, one book back. Three POV’s forward, four POV’s back. Sometimes it’s fun. Sometimes it’s annoying. At least for me anyway. Have I thoroughly confused you? I know the re-read of these FfC Brienne chapters have totally confudicated me. :cheers:

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Are we really playing detective or are we throwing darts at a field?

Has anyone considered what the Ironborn have to gain from those hangings???

Where was LF at the time these people were hung?

And, come to think of it, I've never fully believed that Baroq just showed up when it was time to walk through the gate.

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48 minutes ago, The Bastards Giant Friend said:

Are we really playing detective or are we throwing darts at a field?

Has anyone considered what the Ironborn have to gain from those hangings???

Where was LF at the time these people were hung hanged?

And, come to think of it, I've never fully believed that Baroq just showed up when it was time to walk through the gate.

Hanged, TBGF. Those men were not tapestries.

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55 minutes ago, Universal Sword Donor said:

Hanged, TBGF. Those men were not tapestries.

Where TF were you at the time of their hanging?

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1 hour ago, The Bastards Giant Friend said:

Where TF were you at the time of their hanging?

I'd rather not say

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Great spot. My guess is

axes: Cerwyn, Stark allies, were in the attack on Duskendale. Could be Dustin too, but don't think they were part of Robett's force?

arrows: Sarsfield, Lannister allies, with Tarly's host. More doubtfully Norridge, of the Reach, whose sigil is burning arrows: Not Hunter of Vale, as there is no other indication any of them have strayed to the Saltpans.

salmon: Mooton, now allied with Tarly.

Pine tree: Tallhart, Stark allies, were in the attack on Duskendale. Mollen are another Stark ally with a pine tree sigil, but they don't appear to have gone anywhere near the Saltpans. Orkwood and Hoare also have pine trees, but no other sign that Ironborn are in the Saltpans at that time.

oak leaf: Oakheart,Reach allies, likely in Tarly's host.

beetles: Bettley, Lannister allies, Brienne identified some in Tarly's guard at Maidenpool.

bantams: Swyft, Lannister allies. This is interesting, because I would have thought Harys's forces were rather small, and that they would stick close to him, as he sticks close to the Lannisters of Casterley Rock. So I would expect to see them around Cersei at King's Landing, to have left Harrenhal with Tywin, and not to have ventured into the Saltpans.

Boars head: Crakehall, Lannister allies. Probably not the main branch of Crakehalls, but a scion, like the unknown family of red boars we see in the quarters of the Vikary shield. I think the Crakehall sigil could be more easily truncated to 'boars head' than the Vikary, and as both have strong Lannister/Westerland associations, I think it is safe to assume a 'boars head' sigil more probably originates from the Westerlands than any other part of the seven kingdoms. Still, like the tridents, it doesn't quite make sense.

tridents: This is the most puzzling. House Teauge, Kings of the Rivers and the Hills, were based at Maidenpool, but they are extinct. However, perhaps there are locals with old Teauge shields around. House Haigh of the Riverlands have crossed three-pronged pitchforks as a sigil, and they accompanied Ser Arwood Frey to respond to the Brave Companions raid on the Saltpans. Maybe Brienne misread the pitchforks as tridents? I doubt she would miss the merman holding the Manderley trident, and there are no Manderleys of White Harbour spotted in the area.

And of course, a Lion-helmed Lannister.

So, on the whole, these do not look like broken men. They look like casualties from the Lannister force. Most likely part of the force Randyll had taken to Duskendale (Hence Tallhart and Cerwyn armour, scavenged, the way Septon Meribald suggested Podrick take the lion helm).

And while it is obvious, I'm guessing they were killed in their attempts to deal with the Brotherhood Without Banners, as there doesn't seem to be any casualties from the other side. This is a clue that the smallfolk are aiding one side, so they are not taken by surprise, and their dead are collected and given a respectful burial. I can't suppose they would do that much for the Brave Companions, or the Northmen, the two other forces known to have razed the area.

As @Clegane'sPup has already said, the salt stuffed in the mouth looks a lot like the ruthlessness of LSH. (If we compare and contrast with the men at Stoney Sept, the smallfolk approve of additional nastiness, but Lord Beric demanded they hang them cleanly.)

I don't think this has anything much to do with Rorge and his Brave Companions, apart from that LSH's crew might be tracking him down as they wreak their way through the Saltpans. Randyll has done a lousy job of freeing the Riverlands from the depredations of broken men, and especially from the Brave Companions - three of the worst of them had been hiding out Maidenpool, right under his nose, and Shagwell still in his motley, for goodness sake. But they were never huge on arson, and their priority is leaving Westeros with their plunder, so why alienate the smallfolk of a port, or identify themselves when they have no backup?

None of these hanged men match the description of any Brave Companions. Most are Lannister or Tarly forces, judging by the sigils. It is possible that they have broke from Randyll's men and Randyll's justice, but I doubt it, because there are so many sigils on display. Some broken men might display their Lord's sigils, but I imagine most would either disguise or obscure them. Especially if there were enemies stringing up men wearing that sigil.

Randyll has kept his forces concentrated in defensible and strategic places (Maidenpool and Duskendale), where he can enrich himself by getting the ports open and marrying off his son, and from where he can march straight back to Kings Landing and take over if the need arises. He guards the main roads and sends out sorties that hunt down the odd outlaw, several against one.

There is no good reason for him to disperse his forces throughout the Saltpans, merely to chase broken men. It works better for him if the areas outside his protection are dangerous and lawless - as long as the areas that matter to him strategically are protected, it serves to show the smallfolk they would be better off allying with him, if given the opportunity. Given the number of people Brienne sees sliding off the main road when his men approach, it is not too hard to avoid his men if you want to.

So, I think it is more likely that these men were either sorties commissioned by Randyll to go into the saltpans after broken men, or they were a force that had been sent out from Maidenpool to secure the Saltpans. Given they are still green and hanging, except where despoiled by carrion (ie. weeks old), rather than strips of leathern black flesh and dry white bones beneath the trees (ie. months old), and given the sigils from Randyll's forces from the Reach are there, and Northern ones that might have been scavenged at Duskendale,  and most of the sigils in Clegane's forces from Harrenhal are not represented, it seems more likely they came up from Maidenpool fairly recently, rather than down from the Trident earlier, like Arya and the Brave Companions.

If LSH was assisted by the locals, it shows that even after the massacre at the Salt Pans, the locals don't identify Randyll's occupying forces as friendly to them. Or maybe Randyll's forces made that clear with their behaviour. Judging by the guards at the gates of Maidenpool, they seem an undisciplined lot, and as fond of throwing their weight around, if not as sadistic as the Brave Companions. And I suppose the ones that had reason to be furthest from Randyll would be more likely to volunteer for a march to the Saltpans.

It is interesting too, that Randyll doesn't seem to have said anything, or know anything about them. I'm wondering if he is aware of a largish contingent of his forces being wiped out in the Saltpans, but has preferred not to mention it to anyone - preferring not sully his name with news of a defeat, until he has turned it into a victory or found a proper army to blame it on, even if it means failing to alert his overlords to a threatening force. Or maybe he hasn't heard back from them yet, and isn't aware of the threat because there is no-one left to report it back to him, and he left Maidenpool before enough time had lapsed to cause him concern. Maybe you are onto something here - he wants to blame the massacre of the Saltpans on the Brave Companions, but knows his own forces were involved and dead men tell no tales?

GRRM has said something about Chekhov's giant wolf pack featuring in Winds of Winter. I'm guessing the carrion feeders that attacked the corpses here were wolves (They were clearly ground-based, no crows). LSH's version of the BwB is a metaphorical wolf pack, banding together in the winter. Maybe in the next book, Cersei (or Randyll) will become aware that quite a lot of Lannister troops have gone into the black hole between the Trident and the Saltpans and not reported back. Randyll might have trouble dismissing the threat when Cersei finds Jaime is gone.

ETA:

re:"I would also mention that Arya in her last chapter in SoS boarded the Titan’s Daughter at Saltpans. The ship was bound for Braavos. Saltpans a tiny minor little port of call what’s a Braavosi ship doing there." @Clegane'sPup

Are you sure she is at the Saltpans? She supposes so, but I think she might have overshot the Saltpans, and caught the Titan's Daughter from Maidenpool. As you say, why would they put in at the Saltpans? On the other hand, Maidenpool has just opened up, allowing traders trapped there to leave.

ETA:

Just following up on the possibility of the Haigh pitchforks being confused with tridents. Re-reading Ser Arwood's 'eye-witness' account of the Mad Dog's massacre in the Saltpans, it occurred to me that he is, after all, a Frey, and that a disciplined force of half a hundred Freys could better go about and get away with razing a town, than a couple of dozen 'mad dogs' who want to find a ship back to Essos with their plunder before Lord Tywin catches up with them.

Arwood claims the hound killed twenty men, and then goes on to claim he killed the entire townsfolk of Saltpans: "The rest is bones and ashes. A whole town. The Hound put the buildings to the torch and the people to the sword and rode off laughing."(AFfC, Ch.30 Jaime IV)

Both versions are delivered as if by eye-witness, although he only set out from the Twins after reports arrived, and came upon the town after it was razed, after "the mad dog" had left. Sandor doing anything with fire is a typically implausible Frey lie (like Sansa turning into a bat and flying out a window, or Robb warging into a wolf) Perhaps the Freys had something to cover up at the Saltpans. They are at Darry when this tale is told, and there are a lot of sparrows, as well as a lot of Freys hanging around Darry. Of course, we think because of Lancel, but maybe because the monks of the Saltpans intend to keep a watchful eye on the Freys at Darry.

Darry has strong associations with razings that are known to have occured, but that might have not been the work of the accused. For example, Darry castle, where the Tallhart and Glover forces razed the castle, put their Lannister captives, to the sword, and marched to Duskendale, believing they were acting on Robb's command, but really on the orders of Frey's son-in-law Roose Bolton (ACoK, Ch.64 Arya X).

Ser Raymond Darry was responsible for accusing Ser Gregor Clegane of razing of Sherrer and Wendish Town, and Mummers Ford, resulting in the formation of the BwB. Ser Gregor was in the area, but I find it difficult to believe, as Eddard did, that he was acting on Tywin's orders. He was returning from the Tourney of the Hand, and Tywin was at Casterley Rock. So I have difficulty seeing where or how Tywin could have sent him his orders. More likely, if Ser Gregor was acting on orders, or riled by some kind of intelligence, they were orders given to him in King's Landing.

Ser Raymond died at Mummers Ford, before they lost their banners, and his castle was taken by Ser Gregor, the remains of his men and his young heir slaughtered by the Mad Dog. That was very probably on Tywin's orders. Note he didn't burn the Darry area. Then Tallhart's men had taken Darry from Clegane's men, after a short siege.  At the time, Tallhart's men were the ones that Edmure, acting on Roose Bolton's advice, had directed "to join him with the garrison Robb left at the Twins"(ACoK, Ch.39 Catelyn V), after Roose had sent him news of his marriage to Lady Walda.

I can see how blaming a Clegane (Sandor, because Ser Gregor was not available) suits a treacherous Frey narrative. Darry seemed, at the time Joffrey bequeathed it on Lancel, destined to enrich his widow, his Frey widow.

The razing of the Riverlands is very much Ser Gregor's style (if we believe Ser Redmund Darry), but it is Ser Amory Lorch Arya actually witnesses razing the Riverlands (and again, there is an issue of identity, where Ser Amory refuses to accept that the holdfast is only peopled by Nights watch and non-combatants.)

Still, it is more likely that people would believe that Gregor, who burnt his own brothers face, would raze a town, than Sandor. The people these stories seem intended to convince ( Jaime, Cersei) would have to overlook all they know about Sandor's issues with fire, in order to believe he had turned to arson on leaving Kings Landing. I suppose the smallfolk of the Riverlands probably regard one Clegane as very much like another, and were more inclined to believe that the Starks were Wargs, too.

The Brave Companions are also a good force to blame, even if their reputation is more for sadism and bloodshed than fire. Like the Cleganes, they have Lannister/Westerland associations rather than Riverland associations, and so would be useful for a Frey/Bolton coverup.

Although I can't place exactly what the Freys and/or Boltons would be attempting to cover up. Most of the sigiIs could fit with former inhabitants of Darry castle (Tallhart, Cerywn, Bettley, Swyft, were all in the area: the Mooton sigil might have been dropped by one of Ser William Mooton's men when they tried to hunt the she-wolf from around the Gods Eye.) The Oakleaf sigil of Oakheart doesn't fit neatly into a Bolton/Frey conspired slaughter of Harrenhal Lannister allies. The Oakhearts seem to be pretty much completely on the Bitterbridge-Tumbler's Falls-Kings Landing-Duskendale path with Tarly, well away from Darry, the Saltpans, and the Godseye, and the Kings Road between Harrenhal and Duskendale.

The Haigh pitchfork doesn't fit into this narrative either - unless the Freys saw some merit in stringing up some of their own forces along the way. Even then, Ser Harys seems to have been very much alive and present both at the time this deed would have been done, and . He was fighting alongside Ser Hoosteen at the RW, and there is every sign that the Haighs are totally trusted partners in crime to the Freys. And Ser Donnel Haigh isn't particularly good at identifying the Hound (ASoS, Ch.50 Arya X). For what it is worth, none of Perianne's children are mentioned in the appendix of Dance of Dragons, as being categorically alive or dead. 

ETA: Just noticed, when the Freys at Castle Darry tried to tell Jaime it was Sandor's doing, he reacted with instant scepticism:

Quote

Jaime sipped his wine. “What makes you certain it was the Hound?” What they were describing sounded more like Gregor’s work than Sandor’s.

(AFfC, Ch.30 Jaime IV)

And the only problem with it being Gregor's work, is that Gregor was apparently dead from his poisoned wounds at the time. But he could be carrying the can for a lot of Riverland razing done by others. I'm pretty sure he was framed for the killing of Elia and the babes, too. Although it seems pretty clear that he did kill Lady Amerei's first husband, and being a Frey, her grandfather wasn't likely to let her forget that slight.

Edited by Walda

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I always felt that the packed salt in their mouths would be a trademark kind of thing.  If LSH did that people would most likely be reporting it along with the hanging itself.  We know she did Merrit and Peter Pimple Frey, and Raymund Frey and his men...but there is never mention of her being tied to any packed salt in mouths.  It seems like something Tarly would do to make others think it was her band of men (like a poor effort to link the guest-right to the hangings).  I can't see her men wasting anything that the smallfolk could use, but Tarly would. 

The hanged men themselves could very well be part of the BWB or anyone not on the Lannister's side.

Edited by Bonkers

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17 hours ago, Walda said:

Are you sure she is at the Saltpans? She supposes so,

While it is true Arya hopes she has reached Saltpans she describes what she saw this way:

Quote

A Storm of Swords - Arya XIII   On a bright morning six days later, she came to a place where the Trident began to widen out and the air smelled more of salt than trees. She stayed close to the water, passing fields and farms, and a little after midday a town appeared before her. Saltpans, she hoped. A small castle dominated the town; no more than a holdfast, really, a single tall square keep with a bailey and a curtain wall. Most of the shops and inns and alehouses around the harbor had been plundered or burned, though some looked still inhabited. But the port was there, and eastward spread the Bay of Crabs, its waters shimmering blue and green in the sun.

Quote

A Feast for Crows - Brienne VII   At Saltpans, they had found only death and desolation. <snip> Even the castle had seemed forlorn and abandoned. Grey as the ashes of the town around it, the castle consisted of a square keep girded by a curtain wall, built so as to overlook the harbor.

Brienne said the ^ above. I’m thinking Arya actually did board the Titan’s Daughter at Saltpans.

Maybe you could help me out with something else. I have the paperback version of FfC. I re-read pages 782-783 in Brienne VII again this morning. To me, it seems off, out of sinc. Perhaps you or anyone can give me some insight on what is transpiring there.

Walda, I appreciate the effort you took to put all that information together. Thanks.

Edited by Clegane'sPup
I had some of my words mixed in one of the quotes

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On 20/2/2017 at 11:30 PM, Clegane'sPup said:

Maybe you could help me out with something else. I have the paperback version of FfC. I re-read pages 782-783 in Brienne VII again this morning. To me, it seems off, out of sinc. Perhaps you or anyone can give me some insight on what is transpiring there.

What happens there?

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On 20/2/2017 at 3:44 PM, Bonkers said:

I always felt that the packed salt in their mouths would be a trademark kind of thing.  If LSH did that people would most likely be reporting it along with the hanging itself.  We know she did Merrit and Peter Pimple Frey, and Raymund Frey and his men...but there is never mention of her being tied to any packed salt in mouths.  It seems like something Tarly would do to make others think it was her band of men (like a poor effort to link the guest-right to the hangings).  I can't see her men wasting anything that the smallfolk could use, but Tarly would. 

The hanged men themselves could very well be part of the BWB or anyone not on the Lannister's side.

Yeah, but to be fair the salt-in-the-mouth thing is supposedly... wait, what is it?

So the idea that Lady Stoneheart's band are hanging people in revenge for Saltpans - but why do they think ex-Northmen (judging from the sigils) were responsible for that, when they already know - or believe - it was the Hound? Do they think that the Hound's band is composed of broken men from any army, and therefore any stray soldier is fair game?

And how does this all line up with the Brotherhood's actions at and around Riverrun? They have spies in the Frey camp, they have people setting nightfires in the surrounding hills, and they have enough strength on call that they can arrange a hit on the Frey train heading back to the Twins. How do they, simultaneously, have enough strength left to hold such a strong presence at that inn near Saltpans?

Brienne gets badly wounded and wakes up some time later in a cave that's apparently near Pennytree, right? Is it possible that there's a big time lapse between Brienne's wounding and Jaime's resolving the Riverrun siege? Time enough, I mean, for the Brotherhood to move its strength around. Or are they much bigger than I give them credit for?

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