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Blue-Eyed Wolf

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  1. Blue-Eyed Wolf

    Is the hound Sansa's 'new direwolf'?

    Thanks for the shoutout! Right. We also know from Varamyr that a dog is the easiest to skin change as it is already accustomed to humans. I believe that if Sansa had remained in close contact with Bryen's old blind dog on the Fingers, she very well might have started having dog dreams. They were already bonding, and the dog was sleeping in her bed, but she was only staying at the Fingers for about two weeks IIRC. Then there's the whole scene where the "sad old hound" tries to growl and scare off Marillion, but Lothor Brune steps in to stop his attempted rape. Her knee-jerk reaction was to think Lothor was Sandor in the dark until she heard his voice. So that's a lot like her in other instances of calling for Lady. She even says to the dog, "I wish you were Lady." We're definitely being hammered over and over with this association between dogs, wolves, Sandor, and Lady. So, what does that mean as far skinchanging is concerned? Well, I don't think there's any evidence that Sansa outright skinchanged Sandor. We know from Hodor and Thistle that this is a highly unpleasant, violent experience for the person losing control over their mind and body. We would have seen the evidence if this was the case; however, I think it's more of like what Leech describes with the "etching" or imprinting emotions on to each other. Twice, Sansa wears Sandor's cloak, which is not only a marriage symbol, symbolically it's like slipping on his skin. Varamyr describes skinchanging like a marriage. She says she kept that "skin," placing it in her cedar chest, which is a reference to a bride's "hope chest," which contains items she'll be taking with her to her new home. Sansa also shed her old southron "skin" when she took off the gown she wore to Joffrey's wedding and stuffed it in the bole of the tree in the godswood (a sacrifice to the Old Gods). She then donned a dress of simple but practical wool which includes a green cloak. Her and Sandor's clothing having mirrored each other on more than one occasion, and she's seen him wear an olive green cloak before. Since the First Men wed before a weirwood tree, it's like Sansa is putting on her own marriage cloak before she leaves KL with Littlefinger (it blocks his cloak when he tries to put it on her aboard the Merling King). So I don't think the Lady-Sandor connection is about literal skinchanging, but about the spiritual partnership between the direwolves and the Stark child. In the language of the marriage ceremony, husband and wife are "one flesh, one heart, one soul." As for literal skinchanging, I agree with @The Weirwoods Eyesthat she is still capable of awakening that ability. It makes sense that Sansa would take the longer and more winding path back to it as she moves further North. A flight animal, like a bird of prey, seems to be the most likely candidate. How though? Well, my guess is that she gets a little assist from Bran. We know from Varamyr and Bran's chapters that once an animal has been skinchanged, it's like breaking them to a saddle. Bran is powerful enough to break in a wild bird of prey to make the process easier and help his sister catch up. The bird association with Sansa is obvious, but it also makes sense on another level. Hawking is the only type of hunting in which ladies are allowed to participate. It's an elegant and genteel sport of both the north and south, one that is fitting with Sansa's experience and characterization. Side note, I wonder if we'll get a Ladyhawke reference from George because that's just too darn perfect. Sandor/Navarre = wolf, Sansa/Isabeau = hawk or falcon.
  2. Hey @M_Tootles! I just wanted to let you know that I'm just finishing up a crazy week and I'll be able to sit down and read everything at some point over the weekend.
  3. Hey @redriver If you want a condensed, organized version of this thread, it's in my essay linked in my signature. You are exactly right to notice the First Men / Old Gods connection on his sigil. Iron and bronze are metals associated with the First Men. The water and earth can apply to HR/SS's travels, but also Meera says her father could "change earth to water and water to earth with no more than a whispered word." When Jon speaks about his wolf with the same coloring, he says he belongs to the Old Gods. It's the distinct coloring of the weirwood faces. Furthermore, he says he is the Mad Mouse because the average mouse runs away from danger. He's a contradiction and not like others of his kind. Much like Meera says her father is bolder and braver than the average crannogmen who are shy and stay close to home. We've seen the contradictory weirwood sigil before with the Knight of the Laughing Tree. Weirwood faces don't laugh or smile. They're always depicted as pained or frightening in expression. Other than a mention of being at the Tower of Joy, the only story that features HR in the series is the story of the KotLT and the Harrenhal tourney. It's such an important piece of history that solidifies HR's loyalty and friendship to the Starks so loyal he would send his only children and heirs to help Bran after Ned dies. It makes sense that when HR enters the story, he will have references to that pivotal event.
  4. Blue-Eyed Wolf

    References and Homages

    Not sure if this has been mentioned before, but I think I found an early inspiration for the Hound and Braith Bretan of "The Dying of the Light." George has listed The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester (published 1957) as one of his favorite sci-fi novels in more than one post on his LJ. The main character, Gully Foyle, is consumed by a burning need for revenge that is his main motivator for his actions. In the course of the story, he is captured and his face is given this shockingly horrific bestial tattoo. His personality early on his described as brutish and blunt. Later in the process of removing the tattoo with acid he receives equally horrific scarring that flares up when he becomes emotional. Gully also tormented by visions of The Burning Man, which is himself on fire. Some very interesting cover art for the novel too.
  5. Blue-Eyed Wolf

    Harwin is the Hooded man

    I agree. I'm not 100% on this, but I feel Harwin is the top candidate for many of the reasons you stated. I really feel his motivation and mission is an Arya centric one, not a revenge murder mission. Harwin is already established in the story has having a personal connection to Arya, most importantly he's spent one-on-one face time with her. As you said, he's a character that has shown deep emotional attachment to the Starks. He's the one that pleaded to revive Catelyn. Not because he thought she'd turn into a revenge-driven revenant, but simply out of grief at her horrific fate and defilement of her body. It reminds me of the way Arya asked Thoros if he could revive her beheaded father. You noted that Harwin knows the layout of WF, which is important. But I think what gives Harwin an advantage over other candidates is that he can positively ID Arya. Also that Arya knows him and would trust him. We know that LSH and the BwB are actively looking for Arya. Before they hang Merritt Frey they ask him about the Hound having Arya. The Heddles and Gendry are stationed at the inn at the crossroads, one of Arya's last known sightings with the Hound. They're collecting orphans from the area so there's a hope that Arya will be found among them. So they are following up on leads and it makes sense they'd check out any lead they got. One of those leads would be the news that Roose is marrying his son to Arya. This is using some information from the ASOIAF timeline. We know from Jon VI, ADWD that Roose is announcing his son’s marriage to Arya in letters calling for the Northern vassals to swear fealty circa mid-April. So word of “Arya Stark” being in the North and her marriage to Ramsay Bolton is getting around and it would be big news. Brienne’s capture by the BwB happens in mid to late May where Harwin was present. Theon first meets the hooded man at the beginning of August. That’s enough time for even a single rider travelling at an average speed to get to WF from the Trident region (8-10ish weeks). So I don’t see how he can be ruled out based on time and distance. He may not have had the opportunity yet to get a good look at her since Jeyne has been confined and now she's left with Theon. It's going to be interesting to see what happens with the HM because we've now lost the POV inside the castle at least until Stannis retakes it. We may find that he's affected the plot somehow off page during this time.
  6. Blue-Eyed Wolf

    Re-reading Sansa's last chapter, ASOS

    @The Fattest Leech Thanks for the tag! I will will be following along!
  7. Blue-Eyed Wolf

    Dissecting Names

    I like all your interpretations! Especially with linking Asha to the ash tree, which is also linked to Yggdrasil. Much of the concept of a weirwood probably comes from Yggdrasil, an ash tree mixed with Celtic animism. Ash also fits well with the fire motif of the burning red leaves. It also connects her to her brother Theon, whose name means godly and who is now heavily connected to weirwoods in the later part of his story.
  8. Blue-Eyed Wolf

    Dissecting Names

    Fun topic to speculate on! We have multiple in universe variations on Garth names starting with Garth Greenhand, who is strongly tied to real world pagan concept of the greenman or green god. Characters with a garth type name tend to be related to the themes of the cycle of life, death, rebirth, fertility and sacrifice. Also movement between the worlds of life and death as he is a psychopomp. @LmL 's Mythical Astronomy of Ice and Fire goes into the significance of Garth names and IIRC does make a connection to the gar (fish) and spear. Lommy Greenhands comes to mind and he took a spear to the throat. I do remember he pointed out that a commonly used method for catching fish was called a weir or a fishgarth. I did have my guess on this one. Starting with Sansa. I don't think the meaning of the name itself is important. I think he just wanted a soft-sounding name that went with the character's personality. George does like to play around with couples with similar sounding names. Tyrion and Tysha, Elys and Alys, etc... What's important is the "dor." I linked some attributes of Sansa's story to some aspects of the Norse goddess Freya, which literally means "lady." Not all aspects, as Arya is also linked to Freya too. Freya possessed a falcon feather cloak that shape-shifts the wearer. Think of Sansa in disguise and protected under the falcon of Arryn. Freya's husband, Óðr, (also considered another version of Odin) is someone she is mostly separated from as he has left her to go on a long journey. She weeps tears of red gold for him. There's an obvious red connection to Sansa and weeping as Alyssa's tears pour from the Giant's Lance. The valley below the mountain is described as red and gold in autumn. as well. She choses to wear a ribbon of autumn gold, which mimics Clegane colors of the three dogs that died in the autumn yellow grass. It's the only time "autumn" is used to describe gold or yellow in the series. And we know Sansa wonders what became of Sandor and still feels a romantic/erotic connection to him. Freya has been accused of being lusty and promiscuous, usually by Loki who has some Littlefinger parallels. As Sansa is now the bastard Alayne, there's also the stigma of being born of lust and having loose sexual morals. As for Sandor's Odin / parallels, there's both dying on / against a tree to be reborn with wisdom and knowledge. Sandor is of course working through his issues on the QI. Odin is a warrior-poet type god who does sometimes have a cruel streak. They both have a special horse. So my guess is the origins and connection between the names might be Sansa = Lady = Freya, Odin/ Óðr = Freya's husband. Smoosh the names together. San + Odin/ Óðr = Sandor, Sansa's husband, given two cloaks already by him. AS for Gregor, I got a little guess too. Sandor also shares some parallels or a reverse image of Brynden Rivers aka Bloodraven. THere's half their faces marked: one with a port wine stain, the other burned. BR's hair is straight and white, Sandor's is straight and black. BR lost an eye due to his brother, Aegor Rivers, aka Bittersteel. Sandor's scarring was caused by his brother Gregor, aka the Mountain. The connection might not be a deep one but maybe George was recycling some of the similar ideas between brothers with a blood feud. Gregor/Aegor have some similar enough sounding names.
  9. Why the Burn of Glamor Magic Fits Sandor's Development Sandor's story doesn't start with a blessing of fire. More like a curse for what his brother did to him, the injustice of the cover up, and the consequences of rewarding such a pile of garbage. Sandor is left with severe PTSD compounded by the fact that he has largely had to keep his trauma buried inside for most of his life. His panic attacks come because he was never able/allowed to process his trauma at the time it occurred. Let's look at his story in relation to his anxiety being triggered and how it escalates. This is actually a good thing in a way, because exposure and revisiting the trauma to decrease its discomfort over time is a treatment for PTSD. From the U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs and the National Center for PTSD on Prolonged Exposure Therapy: Just talking about the burning triggers a panic attack. Tested by Wildfire. Seeing Men Burning. Stannis is burning the kingswood, but it is Tyrion's plan to fight with wildfire. Sandor has been assigned to lead sorties on the shoreline where wildfire will be heaviest. To his credit, he did fight for hours in the battle, doing his duty. Stannis's men never broke through; however, after seeing too many men burning to death he finally broke. He proceeds to get extremely drunk, leaves the battle, is declared craven, and generally hits a downward spiral. Tested by the Lord of Light. Feeling the Fire. This time it's not just seeing other men getting burned by wildfire, it's being up close and personal with the magic fire in Beric's blood. Sandor does fight well enough to win (even not noticing the fire for a moment), but then as soon as it's over he regresses into his 6 year old self. On the ground, weeping and begging for help. I've already discussed most of the fight in the previous post, but there's two important features that stick out. "Painted dogs" are referenced on the shield and Sandor receives a pretty bad burn on the arm where the flesh melts off. Burning painted dogs. Burned Men and Painted Dogs are names of two related clans in the Mountains of the Moon and this points to... The Next Logical Step? Making Peace with Fire and Embracing It The Painted Dogs are an older clan that the Burned Men descend from. Thus the Burned Men: So from the Painted Dogs we have boys willingly risking themselves of being burned to bring gifts to the fire witch (i.e making peace with fire) which evolved into the Burned Men, willingly burning themselves to prove their courage (i.e. embracing fire). On a side note, as someone in the comments of the original essay pointed out, the African painted dog (also called a painted wolf) has a mottled coat of mostly black and yellow. They are native to savannas and grassland type areas where they hunt antelope. Their only major predators are lions. This might possibly be inspiration for House Clegane and the three dogs that died from a lion attack in the yellow grass.
  10. Sounds delicious! @The Weirwoods Eyes The Tourney Favor as a Weapon Now that I made enough notes (for now) on favors as sexual/romantic symbols, they also can be used like weapons that yield surprising results. For Jorah Mormont on how Lynesse's favor helped give him an extraordinary victory: Now I'm not talking literally, but it is like wearing a lady's favor makes a man feel like he's got super powers. He's a northman who's never been a tourney knight, but he's beating those Andals at their own games. Jorah is on fire, winning joust after joust. Just hold that thought about being "on fire" because I'm coming back to it. What's important here is the idea of infusing magical strength, speed, and skill to a warrior. Look at Brienne carrying Jaime's favor in the form of the sword itself, Oathkeeper. This is the first battle with it where she wields it against Timeon: And in her delirium after being wounded by Biter, she may as well call it Jaime's magic favor and she feels powerless without it: So we know early on, Sandor's opinion of favors is that they're merely window dressing for the murderous brutes that all knights really are (supposedly). The irony here is that we know how important taking a lady's favor can be, because it's power can turn the tide to victory for the wearer. Sandor isn't aware of it, but he did in fact receive a lady's "favor" at the Hand's tourney when Sansa touched his shoulder and gave him her compassion for sharing his story with her. She "knew the Hound would win" after all. It's funny he mentions looking fine in gold plate, because the only knight we see who wears all gold plate is Jaime. Everyone else wears basic steel or house colors. From the original essay I'm proposing that Sandor is in fact armored in gold. On the Quiet Isle, plain gray driftwood gets polished and transformed into beautiful golden furniture and cups. The golden blonde and beautiful Ser Byron is Sandor's armor and protection from being identified so he can move about freely. So there's irony with mocking the gold plate as much as mocking the lady's favor. Speaking of ribbons, Alayne Stone has a particularly fitting ribbon: When she cannot wear Stark or Tully colors, nor dress above a bastard's station, the color she chooses is autumn gold, which calls back to Sandor telling her the story of his house. The three dogs that died on the "autumn yellow" grass. And it makes her feel bold a brave. So if I were betting on what the favor in TWOW tourney is going to be, I'm putting my money on this autumn gold ribbon. Whoever receives it will also be armored in gold and will surely be the tourney victor after a startling performance. A favor is not just tied to metaphoric magic. The favor is also tied to the fire of the gods, real magic. After the Hound gives that speech about those silly pretty ribbons that don't mean anything to Beric Dondarrion, they have their trial by combat: The flaming sword that was imbued by Beric's magic blood is god-given. And a "cage of fire" also sounds like being armored in gold. Arya describes the streaming flames coming off the sword as being like "the ribbons the Hound had spoken of." The favor of the gods is literal magic. Of course, the Hound does end up winning his trial, signifying that the Lord of Light has at least found him not guilty. He's also kissed by the fire of Beric's magic sword: Kissed by fire. Sandor has the favor of the gods now. He also was burned badly on his arm even as he defeated Beric, so the Lord of Light doesn't find him totally innocent either. He got a slap on the wrist by a fire god It's one painted dog from Gregor's shield that loses his head and we know Gregor probably no longer has a head as Robert Strong. So Sandor has been healed by the mysterious healing methods of the Elder Brother and the QI. The Lord of Light has determined that Sandor shall live and he's been marked by him. And I propose the mage Howland Reed has used his Old Gods magic to protect him, to armor him in gold. That's the Old Gods, the Seven, and R'hllor that have favored him. Alayne's yellow ribbon tied to a sword would look very much like the fire streaming off Beric's sword. So why might this test / kiss of fire be important later? Clearly it's a test highly significant to a man that was traumatized by fire and burning. He needs to be able to endure the long term burn of a glamor spell. According to Mance: In his sleep the ruby can actually burn his skin through the iron fetter. Mance must only wear the glamor long enough to get out of Castle Black. Even after a short while he is almost mad to pry out the ruby, even though it would mean his certain death for being discovered. It must be a really hot stone! What's significant is that Mance describes it as a burning kiss. Glamor magic is being kissed by fire, but that blessing comes with a price. Melissandre questions for a moment the sparing of Mance for his complaining. The magic requires a strong will to endure the pain. For Sandor to be Byron 24/7 for months at the Gates of the Moon, it would require physical and mental endurance to pull it off. In the next post, I'll present the case that willingly burning himself is fitting with Sandor's story.
  11. I'm necromancing the thread! Just wanted to jot some more things down as per other conversations with folks who offered their observations and input here in PMs and on tumblr. I think they prove interesting and support the case as presented here in the main essay, which compiles neatly everything discussed in this thread plus a bit more. I will probably use some of these points in future expansion essays. It's gonna be a bit all over the place, but I'm still in the compiling phase. The Maid on the Road with her Drunken Fool / Knight courtesy of my tumblr friend maidenoftheforestlight: The red is my highlight. The general framework of the maid and the drunken fool/knight/outlaw on the road remains accurate throughout Brienne's journey, it's just that the identities of who is filling those roles keeps getting switched around. Most often it's a case of mistaken identity. Brienne first thinks she's chasing Sansa and Dontos, like everyone else. Then from Nimble Dick she thinks it's two girls with Dontos. The "fool" who Dick "fooled" was actually Shagwell, who dresses in motley. Then she learns from Timeon it's the Hound who is said to have turned outlaw that has the Stark girl, who she still believes is Sansa. Then she searches for the Hound (who is actually being impersonated by Rorge at this point), but when she gets to the QI she learns the maid was actually Arya and the Hound is "dead." The players keep changing but the basic elements remain the same: maid, fool/knight/outlaw, travelling together on the road...and the fact that she will not remain a maid long is repeated twice in the above. In the Vale, Marillion writes a song inspired by Alayne and calls her "Roadside Rose." Right before he is about to assault her, he learns she is a maid: Calling her a "rose" and of course, plucking a flower/rose = losing one's virginity. And fellow travellers on the road seem to agree that it's the drunken fool/knight that will do the deflowering. While Sansa hasn't been in the Riverlands, she has travelled with Lothor Brune, a Sandor stand-in and the one who saves her from Marillion's assault. She knows he harbor's a secret crush on Mya Stone, the bastard girl with noble/royal blood and she seems set up to play matchmaker. I'm not going to go into it here, but there's a triangle of several direct connections and parallels drawn between Lothor/Dontos/Sandor. The first mention of Sansa's favor which will be important later in TWOW comes from Myranda Royce in Alayne II, AFFC. This is the chapter that leads up to meeting the hedge knight team at the very end. Myranda is teasing but she's linking the favor and "ardent squire" to who Alayne is gonna give it up to, who she is saving herself for. The favor will be mentioned two more times in the sample: Aside from her "favor," sex and promises also relates to who Sansa will sing for. Florian and Jonquil is most importantly the song that is the one that Sansa suggested that she sing for Sandor when she naively thought he was speaking of a literal song. He mocks her for it, but it's the one he'll want to hear later at the BW. And he does remind her that she promised him a song and she assures him she will sing for him gladly. While she doesn't yet understand it refers to female orgasm yet, she surely does sense it is an intimate act to sing a romantic song to a man. So the readers don't have to figure out who Sansa's favor is already promised to at the tourney as she does. We've already been explicitly told many times over who is it she is saving it for / promised to. Let me just jump back to Florian and Jonquil, specifically the song Six Maids in a Pool. Maidenpool takes its name after the legend of Florian supposedly meets Jonquil while she's in said pool bathing with her sisters. From the original essay, Septon Meribald's Dog goes hunting in the low tidal pools around the QI and finds the hidden crab which is a moon/shellfish/feminine symbol. Where is Sansa at now? At the Gates of the Moon, the lowest level of the Arryn castles around the Giant's Lance. It's the low tidal pool where the crab is revealed as the maid Jonquil is revealed to Florian emerging from the water. ---- I know this is kinda all over the place but this part came from a conversations with @The Weirwoods Eyes who really put all the pieces together and then everything made sense. Sansa's Hawking with Margaery in the Kingswood Post-Blackwater: In this context, the two are discussing suitors and marriages. Margaery is telling Sansa about Willas, who she hopes Sansa will marry. Of course, Marg is being manipulative and the Tyrells only want Sansa for her claim. Sansa warns Marg about Joffrey, telling her that he will hurt her if they marry. Sansa is genuinely worried about Marg's safety here, but the readers could also give Sansa the same warning about who she is placing her trust in: Dontos. The pairings of birds is significant to the next part of Sansa’s journey. A peregrine is a type of falcon that takes the heron. A heron is a waterfowl that wades around stealthily and preys upon small fish. Littlefinger is attracted to Sansa’s Tully (fish) features and stealthily snatches her up out of KL making him the heron. At the Fingers, they are both picked up by the falcon, Lysa Arryn and carried back to the Eyrie. He's still a heron preying on fish as Lysa will face her demise by him. Sansa’s merlin is the smallest type of falcon, which is what LF’s plan tries to do: make her a falcon through marriage to HtH, who covets the Arryn identity on his quartered shield. Of course, she’s gone from the little bird (parrot in a cage), to a dove that takes flight, to now a tiny bird of prey as she matures and sharpens her skills. She's also acting as a surrogate mother bird to the little falcon, Sweetrobin. The merlin is connected to three ducks, so we need to look for the trio in Sansa’s Vale arc. There is only one trio that is grouped together consistently both in Alayne II and TWOW. The trio of “odd ducks." Short, wiry and fox-faced Ser Shadrich. Big, burly red-nosed Ser Morgarth. And tall, elegant, blonde Ser Byron. A motley crew if there ever was one. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, must be a duck, right? Not necessarily! Petyr fully believes they are what they look like. Just some hungry hired swords looking for work. And the choice of “merlin” may be a tongue in cheek reference to Merlin, the wizard / mad man / prophet… or the Mad Mouse ;). Interesting parallels between Alayne's sample and Mercy: While it's not directly related to the hedge knights, it points to who will actually try to kidnap Sansa for the ransom and why they differ from Shadrich. I got more coming later for a full walk-through of Alayne II, because I it's really charged with hints about where things are going. The chapter ends on meeting the hedge knights as a trio for the first time, so everything leading up to that moment should tie into that. I touched on some of them in the main essay, but it got to be too much and it was going to get side tracked.
  12. Blue-Eyed Wolf

    Songs that Make Us Think of A Song of Ice and Fire

    This song is just giving me all kinds of ASOIAF feels. Not one thing in particular, but it's so beautiful and the lyrics capture some of the central themes. The existential crisis and the human heart at war with itself. Nature, nurture heaven and home Sum of all, and by them, driven To conquer every mountain shown But I've never crossed the river Braved the forests, braved the stone Braved the icy winds and fire Braved and beat them on my own Yet I'm helpless by the river Angel, angel, what have I done? I've faced the quakes, the wind, the fire I've conquered country, crown, and throne Why can't I cross this river? Angel, angel, what have I done? I've faced the quakes, the wind, the fire I've conquered country, crown, and throne Why can't I cross this river? Pay no mind to the battles you've won It'll take a lot more than rage and muscle Open your heart and hands, my son Or you'll never make it over the river It'll take a lot more than words and guns A whole lot more than riches and muscle The hands of the many must join as one And together we'll cross the river It'll take a lot more than words and guns A whole lot more than riches and muscle The hands of the many must join as one And together we'll cross the river (Nature, nurture heaven and home) It'll take a lot more than words and guns (Sum of all, and by them, driven) A whole lot more than riches and muscle (To conquer every mountain shown) The hands of the many must join as one And together we'll cross the river (Braved the forests, braved the stone) It'll take a lot more than words and guns (Braved the icy winds and fire) A whole lot more than riches and muscle (Braved and beat them on my own) The hands of the many must join as one And together we'll cross the river And together we'll cross the river And together we'll cross the river Nature, nurture heaven and home And together we'll cross the river And together we'll cross the river Nature, nurture heaven and home And together we'll cross the river And together we'll cross the river
  13. Blue-Eyed Wolf

    Nymeria is poised to return

    @The Fattest Leech Well considering your track record for laying out a very reasonable and well thought overarching theory for Val and Jon, I'm gonna say this has credibility. Val is special for many reasons, but I hadn't really paid much attention to her manner of speech before. ^^^ This doesn't quite add up with her speech sounding much more educated and highborn leaning. I'm not sure this is the answer to the mystery. Can Jason Mallister's silver winged helm tell us anything significant? I know the Greek mythology connection to Jason and Denys has been made, so the helm is a little evocative of Hermes. Also winged helm sounds a little stereotypical Valkyrie-ish maybe? Jason is a "pallbearer" at Hoster Tully's funeral, specifically being one of the two that wades into the water to guide the burial boat into the river. The Mallister's have longboats and the Riverland funeral practices are very Viking-esque. You've already laid out tons of Norse connections around Val. I'm just riffing here. I haven't had time to really research. Jason also played a key role in the defense of Seaguard by slaying Balon Greyjoy's heir. So there's a Mallister helping to resist a rebellion kinda like Val is probably going to do at the Wall. Mallister longboats will carry Robb's Will (his intended instructions for rule in case he dies) in by two people: Maege Mormont and Galbert Glover. Maege is a she-bear like Val is a she-bear. I wonder if we can make a Glover connection to Val too? Because Val is the carrier of Jon's word and she knows his intentions as LC. Her breath "mingled" with his. Val's word is Jon's word. *Edit* House Glover's sigil is a silver mailed fist on red. Jason ushered Hoster Tully's funeral boat into the water along side Tytos Blackwood of the raven feather cloak. Not sure if this helps, but maybe.
  14. Sorry it took so long to get back to this. I did do something thinking about Hibald. I'm no expert on the topic of Ned's bones, so I can't really say. There is possibly a play on the names Hibald and Meribald, but I haven't quite worked it out. This is what we know of the merchant, Hibald: he rides a dappled grey mare, he has 6 servants with him, 4 are pulling the wagon. He carries a crossbow, he's fearful, suspicious, extremely cheap. He's on his way to Duskendale, probably just to sell his goods since it still seems like a bustling town even with the war. He'll only pay for one room at the old stone bridge inn, and only meat and ale for himself and Ser Shadrich. His servants can sleep in the stables with only "bread and drippings." Meribald is a completely different man. He walks the roads around the riverlands along side his animal companions, the donkey and Dog. The walking is supposed to be his penance for using his position as a septon in his youth to convince young women to sleep with him. He is very generous to the smallfolk. He trades food and shelter for ministering to them to those that can give. He gives away food to the hungry and the orphaned, even a highly-valued luxury like oranges. He calls the donkey his faithful servant, but Dog is more of an equal. He gives him two bites of food for every one for himself. He was a soldier in the War of the Ninepenny Kings. He's not really fearful or suspicious of strangers, but he has a healthy wariness of broken men. I'm just wondering if these two were set up to be inversions of each other. Exactly. Shadrich in what little we know, has demonstrated he's very effective at tracking and getting close to his target. He's been able to accomplish what many bounty hunters couldn't. The fact that we find him next sitting in Petyr's solar drinking with him is proof this guy found the best lead to get to Sansa. I still sticking by that this source of info had to be Sandor, because Sandor himself had the idea to go to the Eyrie with Arya. On the QI, they have access to ravens where they would have heard about the marriage of Littlefinger to Lysa Arryn and her very sudden death about a month or so later. That's very suspicious (especially since Sandor knows LF betrayed Ned and participated in his arrest), even if they have no knowledge at that point of Alayne Stone. They could have also heard of the upcoming marriage of Lionel Corbray in Gulltown (a large enough affair that the Lord Protector and several Vale lords would be attending). They meet up with LF there and get themselves hired. Even if they were in this just for the ransom, that's some pretty great deception to fool LF to his face and have them invited to spend several hours in his chambers drinking. That shows LF is very relaxed around them. The thing about Brienne's perception of people is that it's highly suspect because her story arc demonstrates she's not good at sussing out people's intententions. She's such a straight-forward and honest person, she regards all dubiousness or slyness in people as automatically bad. It's not suprising considering how she'd always been the butt of cruel jokes. She takes Creighton's bravado as a little silly, but not dishonest because it doesn't seem like he's hiding something. She only initially considers them suspicious based solely on their status as hedgeknights and what she's heard about hedgeknights. She very quickly starts to think of them as "decent" even though they are shady as hell. Maybe not outright murderous like Rorge and Biter, but Shadrich sees very quickly she's being played. She may be the true knight on a quest, but she is absolutely wrong for the job. It's just on more continuation of that theme of doves vs. ravens. Ravens aren't pretty, but they're clever and get the job done. The only other thing is Byron is tall and has long hair past his shoulders. I don't think we can just rely on the fair-haired and comely without some other clue, which I'm sure George would probably give us. I don't think we really have a reason to doubt Harry is dead. The BwB seem certain of it and list the Bastard of Bracken as one of the charges leveled at Sandor for the crime of being a Clegane. They probably have first hand or very reliable knowledge of his death by Lannisters, specifically Gregor Clegane. But even if he was miraculously alive, it seem a rather random choice by George. The how or why he would be involved with meeting Shadrich sometime after Brienne left him and Gulltown where Shadrich meets up with LF would need a lot of sorting out to make it reasonable. He did say he was "on the losing side" of the Blackwater, which one could assume he means he supported Stannis. I think Ser Shadrich wanted Stannis to win at Blackwater, but not necessarily because he was a supporter. Stannis sacking the city would likely mean Sansa will be moved out of the Red Keep, freeing her up for some later opportunity to get access to her. Stannis losing would be a major blow and months would have to go by of waiting for another opportunity. I think the whole talk about ransoms and the love of gold is about sussing Brienne's intentions out, because Brienne attempts (badly) to do the same to Shadrich. Really, Brienne? Tries to give Shadrich a poker face, but bluntly wants to know Shadrich's intentions to a girl she's supposedly never heard of nor should care for. And Shadrich is trying to warn Brienne that Creighton is full of shit (a friendly act), but he's still testing her by talking of the ransom if she's interested in the gold. She clearly isn't, but the men in her party that Brienne thinks are "decent" men would be motivated by a ransom; therefore Shadrich can't trust her even though she's a good person. He could follow her though, because one of Hibald's servants awoke and saw her leaving alone in the middle of the night. Because she abandoned Creighton and Illifer, Shadrich might decide Brienne might have picked up a lead and snuck out. He would have found out in the morning and could have been trailing her within a day. As far as Stannis's supporters go, the ones Sansa mentions in the court can either bend the knee and swear fealty to Joffrey or face punishment/execution. Sounds like there wasn't really any ransoming going on. All Shadrich would have had to do is beg forgiveness and swear fealty, they'd be able to keep their wealth and titles. If he was a Stannis loyalist, he'd be executed or imprisoned. So, Shadrich saying he was ruined by ransom has some doubt to it. It could be an embellishment to the ransom tale to couch the deception in some amount of truth and a believable backstory. That sounds like a believable backstory for hedgeknight on the surface. The thing about Byron and being any one of Stannis's loyalists that viewed her in court, would they know her through a disguise and having changed physically from puberty? Would they know the sound of her voice? I think that would have to be managed by someone who knows her more upclose and personally. Who would be able to see any subtle traits that would give her away. Also a valuable bonus, someone who Sansa would know and would trust to comply with any escape plan, which is going to be very tricky with the limited routes to get out of Vale. @thereticent and @deja vu The thing about Tyrek and how we can disqualify him immediately is because Littlefinger would know Tyrek Lannister, being at court for years. Jaime says he would be 14 in AFFC, that's very young and Sansa doesn't meantion Byron being that young, which would probably stand out. Even if it were a case of Tyrek being disguised, I don't think we are shown before that Tyrek has the skillset to take on fooling Littlefinger. He'd literally have to be at the Gates of the Moon for months never breaking character or rousing suspicion. Sorry it took so long to respond!
  15. Well, there's Podrick, but we know exactly where he is. Cross him off. I've tried to find anyone else it could plausibly be. Someone with means, motive, and opportunity to be on Team Shadrich. Timett of of Timett would know her and he is back with his clan in the Mountains of the Moon, but there's no plausible reason why Shadrich would even know about Timett and journey (risking getting killed by any nmumber of clans) there to find and meet him. If Shadrich is trailing Brienne, his path takes him right to the QI to the Elder Brother and Sandor. And Sandor sure as hell isn't going to help a bad guy out for a ransom. I have to be off to work now, but I'll get back to the rest later on today