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SER SHADRICH, HIS ALLIES AND ADVERSARIES.. (Morgarth, Byron, Creighton, Illifer)

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@Ibbison from Ibben, I have to say that I think you are being awfully dismissive and your arguments are petty. Judging by your answers, I question whether you understand symbolism - either you do not, or you are simply one of those who is quite skeptical towards the idea that Martin is constantly using symbolism in the descriptions of things.  Nevertheless, I will make one attempt to explain the fire-weirwood connection as I see it, in case you would like to understand where we are coming from.

First of all I agree with you that it was fire magic that raised Thoros and Beric and that the theories that it was Old Gods magic that did it contradict the text. I therefore understand why a person might be set against ideas connecting fire and weirwoods, as this is often done in conflation with the idea that the Old Gods raised Beric, which I really don't think they did. Furthermore the GOHH scene definitely indicates an antagonism between the weirwoods and fire, and my ideas do not dispute that. We are talking about fire in a less literal sense, however.

The Grey King story about his theft of the "fire of the gods" has him taunting the Storm God into lashing out with his divine thunderbolt to set a tree ablaze. This burning tree was the means by which man possessed the fire of the gods. We are not talking about simple fire here - stealing fire form the gods is a well known mythological trope, with Prometheus of course being the most famous but Lucifer, Quetzalcoatl, and Gilgamesh are others who play this role. The fire of the gods is not actual fire, however - it represents divine knowledge, the knowledge and power of the gods brought down to the hands of man. So how does a burning tree represent the fire of the gods?

Simple - the greenseer / weirwood connection IS the fire of the gods, the knowledge and power of the gods. The weirwood connection makes a human into a god - Jojen or one of the cotf calls it joining the godhood iirc. Long life and astral projection certainly qualify as god like powers. 

As @sweetsunray mentioned, the weirwood leaves are described in ACOK as a blaze of flame, whereas other times they are bloody hands. This, combined with the screaming face and eyes crying blood, creates the image of a weirwood tree as a tree-person who is caught on fire and is screaming in silent agony. It's a burning tree - and it isn't happy, to your point. Trees don't like fire, because fire consumes trees. They like lightning even less - lighting kills trees dead. So all of this is consistent so far.  I would say, as others have, that the weirwoods probably do not like having faces carved into them. I mean they don't look happy, right?

So here we have the Grey King, possessing the fire of the gods via a burning tree. If this burning tree represents a wired as I claim it does, it's easy to see how it bestowed the fire of the gods on the Grey King. This idea is corroborated by the idea that Grey King sat in a theon made of Nagga's fangs - and of course Nagga's ribs are petrified weirwood, as we all know. Therefore Grey King's throw may well have been a weirwood throne. A man sitting on a weirwood throne possessing the fire of the gods - thats a greenseer, right? 

My postulation that the Grey King was taking the fire of the gods in a way which was unwelcome. He may have been a greenseer, but I do not think he was the "protect the earth" sort. He's what I like to call a naughty greenseer. So the idea isn't that all is hunky-dory with this fire-weirwood connection - it's perhaps a case of man kind of raping the tree mind in a way, stealing the power of the gods. 

There's a lot more to it than that, but that is the beginning of it. 

Zooming out to a wider perspective, I think there's always been a question about the interaction of greenseer blood and blood of the dragon, between greenseer magic and fire magic. Bloodraven is a dragon blooded greenseer. Jon's RLJ secret seems to be important because it combines skinchanger FM blood with Targ / dragon blood. Even Dany has Blackwood blood. What's the deal here?

Then we have Beric, as a symbol. He essentially unites the symbolism of Bloodraven - sitting in a weirwood throne in a cave (granted not an active one like Beric's), one red eye, called the "corpse lord" / "lord of corpses, etc - with that of Azor Ahai - being reborn / resurrected in fire, wielding a flaming sword, etc. So what's the deal with that? Azor Ahai, the warrior of fire, who is associated with dragons, and the idea of a greenseer like Bloodraven? How do those ideas relate?

My point is that there is something important about the relationship between these two. Beric is also called "the lightning lord," reminding us of the Storm God's thunderbolt which set the tree on fire, and he's also the "wisp of the wood," but wisp means ghost, and therefore he's like a tree-ghost, which is again what Bloodraven is. 

Grey King is also associated with fire in other ways - he's said to also keep the living fire of the sea dragon as a thrall. Again, living fire suggests more than regular fire, but rather some kind of magic, and the sea dragon myth in part refers to petrified weirwood, so again we have the idea of him possessing the fire of weirwood.  And yes, the bones are petrified now, but 10,000 years ago? Perhaps not. And besides, Bloodraven and Bran's thrones are made of dead branches woven through living roots. 

Anyway, the rest is on my Grey King episode, if you are curious. Link in my signature.  

 

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2 minutes ago, Nevets said:

He has no way to know she is at the Vale, either.

Strange argument. Somebody figured out she's at the Vale: Shadrich and company. On the one hand that's argued to have been an educated guess. But when it comes to HR suddenly he couldn't know. If Shadrich and company can find and identify her, then I don't see why HR suddenly cannot.

 

4 minutes ago, Nevets said:

Plus I doubt that someone who has been explicitly described as a poor horseback rider would masquerade as someone who would need to be a very good rider.

This is rather twisting the info we have through Meera's story. Text does not say he is a poor horseback rider. The text says that at the time he used the boat more than that he rode, and that the hands were made for oars rather than lances. Shadrich explicitly claims he has no tourney knight skills, and thus is not a very good rider.

So, that would fit. But HR certainly did not fight along with Ned in the rebellion paddling a boat, but on horseback. And with experience comes skill. 

10 minutes ago, Nevets said:

Plus, at least for the time being, the Vale is as safe a place as she is going to find.  LF may want into her pants, but is unlikely to force the issue for now or otherwise do her harm.  At least for the time being.

Obviously I disagree: I expect an avalanche to come down during the tourney and an attack by the mountain clans as the survivors try to get back on their feet.

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25 minutes ago, LmL said:

The fire of the gods is not actual fire, however - it represents divine knowledge, the knowledge and power of the gods brought down to the hands of man. So how does a burning tree represent the fire of the gods?

Simple - the greenseer / weirwood connection IS the fire of the gods, the knowledge and power of the gods. The weirwood connection makes a human into a god - Jojen or one of the cotf calls it joining the godhood iirc. Long life and astral projection certainly qualify as god like powers. 

Exactly! Greenseeing = enlightenment = divine fire. Check out the description of "kundalini" experiences (the awakening of enlightment through meditation) and you'll come across numerous accounts of a feeling of the spine being on fire, from the root (tailbone) to the crown of the head. Buddhists and Hindus equal it to "burning karma". 

Mel is one of those characters who doesn't truly have a clue. She has knoweldge. She can see stuff. But she takes some stuff too literal, and that in a dualistic context. So, she thinks weirwood trees are enemies and need to be burned for reasons of powers. But symbolically and metaphorically, the weirwood tress are already on spiritual fire. And that is why we get a scene of Mel looking into the flames and seeing BR and Bran looking back at her and laughing over her silliness.

And when we see fire symbolism combined with FM symbolism then you have someone who's special, whether that is JonCon with his orange hair + albino griffin, Shadrich with his orange hair + albino mouse, Red Hand (leaf) of Burned First Men. Beric is also a red-head sitting, revived by fire magic + fire lightning bolt + sitting on a weirwood root throne. BR is half Blackwood (FM, Old Gods), half Targ (fire dragons), albino hismelf, ends up in a weriwood throne. It doesn't matter which came first. When it all conjoins you have someone special imo.

Edited by sweetsunray

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3 hours ago, LmL said:

The Grey King story about his theft of the "fire of the gods" has him taunting the Storm God into lashing out with his divine thunderbolt to set a tree ablaze. This burning tree was the means by which man possessed the fire of the gods. We are not talking about simple fire here - stealing fire form the gods is a well known mythological trope, with Prometheus of course being the most famous but Lucifer, Quetzalcoatl, and Gilgamesh are others who play this role. The fire of the gods is not actual fire, however - it represents divine knowledge, the knowledge and power of the gods brought down to the hands of man. So how does a burning tree represent the fire of the gods?

Simple - the greenseer / weirwood connection IS the fire of the gods, the knowledge and power of the gods. The weirwood connection makes a human into a god - Jojen or one of the cotf calls it joining the godhood iirc. Long life and astral projection certainly qualify as god like powers. 

 


I don't see myself as being dismissive of symbolism; I'm just skeptical of the subjective interpretations that are naturally involved in it. I strongly believe in constantly checking subjective interpretations against whatever the best facts are we have.

I don't think that the greenseer/weirwwod connection IS the fire of the gods. I suspect that all the elemental forces have knowledge. The greenseer/weirwood connection is openly stated as being the Song of Earth.

I have a very elemental view of forces/magics in this series. I didn't become acquainted with the series until about three months before Dance came out, and read it shallowly at first. It wasn't until Dance came out that I came here, and learned much.  I strongly suspect many old-timers had/have a very Ice vs Fire view of the cosmology. To me, the single most important line of Dance, or perhaps the whole series, was when in Dance the CotF announced the they "Sang the Song of Earth." That opened up the entire cosmology. Weirwoods aren't a combination of Ice and Fire, just because they are red and white. They are Earth.

Fire isn't knowledge here. Dany, Mel, or the Targs in general aren't any more knowledgeable than anyone else. Fire is simply one more element.

As I pointed out, the Fire link to the weirwoods was a one-off. Weirwoods suffered as much from cutting as from Fire. The Grey King is a Sea figure, who stole Fire from the Storm God. He was opposed to greenseers, as the story of Ygg demonstrates. Sitting on a weirwood throne was a symbol of dominance over the Earth Singers, whom he excluded from the Iron Islands. Just as the Seven-worshiping Arryns sat on a weirwood throne.

BR is indeed a merger of Fire and Earth. Thus, he is a conflicted individual. Likewise, Jon is a merger of Ice and Fire. Beric began as a Storm Lord. He died, and was resurrected by Fire. When he sits on a weirwood throne, it symbolizes Fire attempting to defeat and displace Earth. After all, Beric shows no Earth-like powers. Beric is a failed AA-wannabe. His R'hllorist revival is based solely on Fire, instead of the necessary Ice and Fire balance of the true AAR. (Even Dany, in the HotU, is urged to drink from both the Cup of Ice and the Cup of Fire.)

The Grey King kept Fire as a thrall. The Sea King enslaves Fire. For a while, at least. And don't forget to account for those Roynar water wizards.

Elements. Sea and Storm(Air). Earth and Water. Ice and Fire. Three complementary pairs. And Life/Death/Blood, to tie them together. On a sane dating system, the Rise of Valyria coincided with the Rise of the Others/Long Night. That's not a coincidence. Robert Baratheon, the Sky King, slew Rhaegar the Fire Dragon, Just like Zeus slew Typhon. (A Sky God slaying a serpent/dragon is a common Indo-European story.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proto-Indo-European_religion#Mythology) Fire Rhaegar was rather foolish to fight the battle while standing in a river.

This is my Seven Songs Theory, all the way back from Heresy 1. The alcohol influenced, off topic short version. Dany's questions about aeromancers and stormsingers in AGoT Dany III were a major influence.

 

 

Edited by Ibbison from Ibben

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@Ibbison from Ibben

Firstly, your interpretations here are quite subjective, yet started as fact, he very thing you say you decry. Not saying they are right or wrong, just that you have a double standard here. You're not skeptical, you just have a different interpretation. 

You also dismissed the fire of the gods - weirwood connection without addressing the supporting ideas. There is no reason to conclude that because the children sing the song of earth that the godlike powers of the weirwood cannot be described in metaphor as the fore of the gods, there's no conflict there. The fire of the gods is a classic mythological concept, and the weirwood qualifies. The fact that is looks like a burning tree which is a symbol of the fire of the gods in ASOIAF (think also of Moses and the burning bush) would indicate that my suggestion is at least plausible and worthy of consideration. 

Your schema of elements is pure conjecture, and although I have speculated along the same lines in the past, it's really not clear in the books if the elements represent separate and / or different types of magic. For example, the earth posses fire and ice both. Those can be considered earth elements - Mel speaks of the fires of the earth for example. The classical 5 elements are fire water air and earth, with spirit in the middle as a the fifth element. But George seems to be doing different things with ice and water, even though they are the same thing in different states. So are ice and water Magic seperate? Maybe, maybe not, point is we do not know. There is plenty of evidence to suggest the Others had an origin in greenseer magic, and if so, it may be that greenseers can interact with all the elements under certain circumstances.

The point is, this is highly speculative territory and you are being very dogmatic with your own speculative ideas while dismissing other people's specultion. That's your prerogative but it's not very consistent. I don't see you trying to understand how we might have a point here somewhere, you seem set on dismissing and shooting down. We can probably agree to disagree because I am not interested in spending my time trying to change people's minds when they are set already, as yours seems to be, all due respect. 

Finally, Valyria arose after the Long Night, not before. 

You are quite right to point to Robert and Rhaegar as a replay of the ubiquitous "storm God slays the dragon" myth of the Middle East, that's something I discuss in my Grey King essay, it's a really cool idea George is using in many places. 

 

Edited by LmL

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Regarding the idea of different elements and different types of magic. Consider all the bleed over and ambiguity:

- nothing burns like the cold

- the ice demons have burning star eyes - but they burn cold? He cold that burns? 

- the ice demons armor looks the surface of a pond and they melt when stabbed with dragonglass, which...

- is frozen fire. Burning ice, frozen fire. Very neat and tidy - not. 

- Ned's sword, forged in dragonfire, is called Ice. 

 The Drowned God emerges from the sea with a burning brand, Grey King possesses fire by two different means (both of which are associated with trees / and or weirwoods). Drowned fish people... who possess fire. Again, not clearly divided at all.

- "what is dead may never... ...rises again harder and stronger" is a great description for the wights. But of course it's referring to drowned men. Who use driftwood as a weapon. 

- Euron. Just Euron. He used blood magic to control the wind and declares himself to be "The Storm." He is depicted in GOHH vision as drowned crow.  Crows are creatures of the air who are aligned with greenseers, but this one is drowned. Oh yeah and Euron also seems to want to be a Valyrian with his dragon horn ("fire for blood") and his Valyrian armor and his desire to be a dragonrider. 

- stag men are a symbol of Cerrunos, the horned god of the greenwood, an idea which is also realized in he form of Garth the Green, the Green Men, and the Antler-Headed Baratheons and older Storm Kings. But we see antler people drown (Patchface), catch on fire (Stannis's burning stag, "resurrected Renly" at the Blackwater), and probably freeze (Others, Coldhands). 

There's more but you get the idea. It doesn't sort out nearly. 

 

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Green seeing is also described as "drinking from the green fountain," so make of that what you will 

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Hey @LmL, as always love your posts!

What do you think about the theory that Jaime Lannister will become the new undead warrior of light ("bright dragon", if he is indeed Mad King's son) and become Brotherhood without Banners' new leader? I just see no other logical continuation of Brotherhood's story line and their "return to noble cause" without Jaime becoming its new leader AFTER his resurrection (Azor Ahai symbolisms are all there to make Jaime finally this "perfect knight" or "perfect sword Lightbringer" - his deed of promising to return Stark daughters to Catelyn - "forging in water, because Catelyn and Riverrun are both very watery associations - and his eventual failure to do that since Red Wedding happened; his deed of saving his brother Tyrion - "forging by lion, which cracked the sword in two" - which by the way symbolically started the crack in Jaime and Cersei's relationship once he found out about her lovers from the Imp; and final phase is "forging by wife's heart" - it will definitely include his death by the hands of Brienne once Brienne is ordered by Lady Stoneheart to fight Jaime in trial by combat).

There are many symbolic layers and Jaime associated with Azor Ahai symbolisms.

I honestly think both on the show and the books Jaime will become the undead "white cloak" warrior with burning sword leading Brotherhood into battles - antithesis to Jon "the black cloak".

Edited by Scorpion92

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@Nevets  I think the point of this theory is that all 3 men are needed for the task at hand.  They don't individually possess the knowledge or means to pull off a rescue, but get them together to compare notes and it's completely plausible.  EB gets the news from the outside world as they do have ravens on the QI.  The death of Lysa Arryn would be big news as well as Petyr Baelish as LP of the Vale.  Who's on the QI with him that would know Lysa Arryn is Sansa's aunt and know Petyr Baelish is a slimy piece of shit?  Sandor.  Set aside Shadrich for a moment, with Brienne's visit EB is aware that people are looking for Sansa that mean to turn her in for regicide.  These two guys don't need to know for a fact that Sansa is in the Vale, but with a dead aunt and a guy like LF involved the Vale would be a good place to start looking.  I mean, even Brienne thinks of Sansa going to her aunt, but doubts herself and goes on her wild goose chase.  The problem is EB and Sandor could not pull off a rescue alone or together.  EB can't positively ID Sansa if she's in disguise and he's a stranger to her, so she wouldn't trust him to go with him because she's a wanted criminal.  Sandor is the most easily recognizable guy in Westeros and he's also wanted for crimes in the Saltpans.  LF would know of his presence before he would get anywhere close.  

You ask about EB's motivation?  Look at how upset he was at Quincy Cox for doing absolutely nothing when the rape and massacre of the Saltpans was going down.  He considered his inaction unforgivable.  Yes, he made his vows to renounce violence, but I think we've seen in this story that vows are easy to keep when everything is good.  It's like Maester Aemon said to Jon, what good are your vows or your individual honor if you don't accomplish your task of protecting the realm? Sometimes you get confronted with a situation where you have a choice between an oath and your conscience.  EB is a former knight and the last thing Brienne tells him she must find Sansa or die in the attempt.  That's got to speak to him because it's what he feels like Quincy Cox should have done.  Your duty as a true knight is to defend the helpless or die trying.  Adding to that he kinda owes Sandor big time.  He admittedly made a grievous error in placing the Hound helm on the cairn and it got picked up by Rorge and now Lem.  Before Sandor was just a deserter, which might have been forgiven with a regime change.  Because of that helm, he's now accused of being a child rapist and murderer.  That's not something that would be forgiven and it's made it impossible for him to leave the QI without risking getting killed.  Now if a guy like Shadrich/HR comes along after Brienne looking for leads on Sansa a man of faith might take that as a sign from the gods with some added pressure from Sandor that moves him to action.  Symbolicly on Brienne's journey with Septon Meribald, they cross paths with a fox that makes Dog go crazy and bark.  On the QI, the majority are under a vow of silence.  A visit from a fox-faced Shadrich might make that dog break his silence and demand action (think Stranger refusing to be gelded).  As for that beard thing, the word used is "thick" not "long."  Facial hair can still be short in length, but dense.  Just as the opposite can be true, a beard can be long, but thin in density (think Vargo Hoat).  

As I've said, Shadrich/HR would have the same problem in being able to positively ID Sansa and gain her trust.  She's never met HR in person, so all 3 men are needed for their role.  I agree if we were only looking at Morgarth alone and EB alone, the evidence would be circumstantial at best.  Sandor is in the unique position to identify her through a disguise and be able to gain her trust to comply with a plan. Shadrich/HR provides the means of disguising Sandor with the glamor.  EB is an experienced knight that can provide extra muscle, he's got access to the news from the outside world, he owes Sandor, and he can provide the bones and rubies.  Plus, as I've shown, GRRM has done a very similar scenario in TMK so there's a precedence.  Because GRRM places the 3 hedge knights together both in AFFC and in TWOW, it stands to reason we should look at the three in relation to each other.  They not only have to have means, motive, and opportunity as individuals, but they also have to work as a unit.  Podrick Payne could also theoretically positively ID Sansa, but we can confirm he's a little tied-up at the moment (pun intended).

I completely agree that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.  In fact, any claim requires a certain level of evidence.  We are relying on the observations here of POV characters that aren't expecting or looking for HR or Sandor.  So while we can't say with 100% rock solid certainty that HR is anywhere, let alone Greywater Watch, we can't rule out that he isn't in the Vale.  What we have is a big pile of circumstantial evidence and we just have to wait for TWOW for confirmation.  That doesn't mean circumstantial evidence is worthless, but there should be a significant amount of it to make us take notice.  While I was doing my own research and timeline checking, I did not find I had to struggle to make anything fit.  I didn't need to make "excuses" to make it work.  In fact, I was absolutely shocked at times at how easily some things fit and I was actually trying hard to find things to contradict it so I wouldn't look totally bat-shit crazy.  I'm still completely open to any plausible theory that works and I'm completely open to evidence refuting bemused, myself or anyone else.  If we're proven right, great.  If we're proven wrong, that's great too because the outcome will still make sense and we'll have even more understanding of the story.        

           

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15 minutes ago, LmL said:

@Ibbison from Ibben

Firstly, your interpretations here are quite subjective, yet started as fact, he very thing you say you decry. Not saying they are right or wrong, just that you have a double standard here. You're not skeptical, you just have a different interpretation. 

I did not state anything subjective as fact. The whole post was rather speculative, with the exception of a few solid facts.. And yet, my post was more closely based on the text than yours.

15 minutes ago, LmL said:

You also dismissed the fire of the gods - weirwood connection without addressing the supporting ideas. There is no reason to conclude that because the children sing the song of earth that the godlike powers of the weirwood cannot be described in metaphor as the fore of the gods, there's no conflict there. The fire of the gods is a classic mythological concept, and the weirwood qualifies.

Incorrect, or irrelevant. The fire of the gods may be a classical concept, but there is no evidence from GRRM that he is adhering to classical concepts. In fact, GRRM's comments do not support the existence of gods in AWoIaF. He leaves the matter up for grabs. There is no reference in ASoIaF to the "fire of the gods." Yet Fire is clearly treated as a separate element. Rhaegar's quote to Elia in THotU proves that. The CotF Sing the Song of Earth, and they are the ones who use the weirwoods. Any claim to the contrary is a conflict. That is a solid reason to reject some unsubstantiated metaphor concerning "the fire of the gods." The facts are clear. Weirwoods don't qualify as being subject to the "Fire of the Gods", because GRRM's mythology is not that of classical Greece and Rome. That is your prejudice, not mine. There is no "Fire of the Gods" in the text. I dismiss it because it deserves to be dismissed on a rational basis. I don't have a problem with you floating a hypothesis, but if you fail to evaluate it critically and I do, that's your problem.

15 minutes ago, LmL said:

Your schema of elements is pure conjecture, and although I have speculated along the same lines in the past, it's really not clear in the books if the elements represent separate and / or different types of magic.

Not pure conjecture. Supported somewhat by the text. References to Sea magic, Storm magic, Air magic, Water magic, Earth magic, Fire magic, and Blood magic exist in the text. Still somewhat speculative, as I admitted. The relationships between them are open to interpretation.

15 minutes ago, LmL said:

For example, the earth posses fire and ice both. Those can be considered earth elements - Mel speaks of the fires of the earth for example. The classical 5 elements are fire water air and earth, with spirit in the middle as a the fifth element. But George seems to be doing different things with ice and water, even though they are the same thing in different states. So are ice and water Magic seperate? Maybe, maybe not, point is we do not know. There is plenty of evidence to suggest the Others had an origin in greenseer magic, and if so, it may be that greenseers can interact with all the elements under certain circumstances.

Ice and Fire are clearly shown to be separate from Earth in the books.The very separation of the names speaks to this. The classical five elements are not being used here. References to them are irrelevant. The evidence I presented  makes that clear. Ice, Water, and Sea magic are all clearly referenced as being separate in GRRM's world. The Others (and perhaps the Stark Kings of Winter) wield Ice. The Roynar wield water. (The Tullys, who draw their power from the river, might be a minor example) The Ironborn are of the sea. That's what I looked at before I posted this.

Kindly state some of that "plenty of evidence to suggest the Others had an origin in greenseer magic." All greenseers we see are associated with Earth magic.

15 minutes ago, LmL said:

The point is, this is highly speculative territory and you are being very dogmatic with your own speculative ideas while dismissing other people's specultion. That's your prerogative but it's not very consistent. I don't see you trying to understand how we might have a point here somewhere, you seem set on dismissing and shooting down. We can probably agree to disagree because I am not interested in spending my time trying to change people's minds when they are set already, as yours seems to be, all due respect. 

Finally, Valyria arose after the Long Night, not before. 

You are quite right to point to Robert and Rhaegar as a replay of the ubiquitous "storm God slays the dragon" myth of the Middle East, that's something I discuss in my Grey King essay, it's a really cool idea George is using in many places. 

 

I'm not the dogmatic one here. I clearly labeled my speculative ideas as speculation.Or at least I thought I did.  I shot down your claim that Fire = Knowledge because the text does not support it. I looked at your point, and rejected it on solid, text based grounds. Fire is clearly an elemental force. Dragons are Fire made Flesh. Aegon conquered Westeros with Dragons, with Fire. Not knowledge. It's not a matter of understanding, it's a matter of evaluation.

If you have solid arguments, you can change my mind. But your arguments aren't solid. The Fire = Knowledge claim seems to be your main complaint. I think I dealt with that easily. If you have others, please let me know..

In TWoIaF, Valyria's rise commences immediately after the end of the Long Night. (TWoIaF, p 13) The Ghiscari rose more quickly, and had to be defeated. Yet the Long Night in Westeros is set around 6000 BP, not 8000 BP as implied by the True History. Given the relationship between Ice and Fire in the text, their individual rise, though separate, should likely be considered to be related. The relationship between Ice and Fire implied in the text suggests it. Speculative, yes. But probably good.   

 

 

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1 hour ago, LmL said:

Regarding the idea of different elements and different types of magic. Consider all the bleed over and ambiguity:

- nothing burns like the cold

- the ice demons have burning star eyes - but they burn cold? He cold that burns? 

- the ice demons armor looks the surface of a pond and they melt when stabbed with dragonglass, which...

- is frozen fire. Burning ice, frozen fire. Very neat and tidy - not. 

- Ned's sword, forged in dragonfire, is called Ice. 

 The Drowned God emerges from the sea with a burning brand, Grey King possesses fire by two different means (both of which are associated with trees / and or weirwoods). Drowned fish people... who possess fire. Again, not clearly divided at all.

- "what is dead may never... ...rises again harder and stronger" is a great description for the wights. But of course it's referring to drowned men. Who use driftwood as a weapon. 

- Euron. Just Euron. He used blood magic to control the wind and declares himself to be "The Storm." He is depicted in GOHH vision as drowned crow.  Crows are creatures of the air who are aligned with greenseers, but this one is drowned. Oh yeah and Euron also seems to want to be a Valyrian with his dragon horn ("fire for blood") and his Valyrian armor and his desire to be a dragonrider. 

- stag men are a symbol of Cerrunos, the horned god of the greenwood, an idea which is also realized in he form of Garth the Green, the Green Men, and the Antler-Headed Baratheons and older Storm Kings. But we see antler people drown (Patchface), catch on fire (Stannis's burning stag, "resurrected Renly" at the Blackwater), and probably freeze (Others, Coldhands). 

There's more but you get the idea. It doesn't sort out nearly. 

 

This is an interesting post. You deserve a good answer. so -

Ice burning is a subjective term. Does ice really burn you? Like fire? No. The effect is totally different. Separating the subjective from the objective is always a good start to sound reasoning.

The ice armor of the White Walkers melting when struck with obsidian is an interesting phenomenon. When we have enough data to examine other elemental interactions we might be able to form a hypothesis.

Ned's Valyrian steel sword was named after a previous weapon, which may be more interesting than the present day blade(s). We'll have to wait for data. Still, naming is a simple subjective process.

The Ironborn. Sigh. A people who see magic in intermediate level first aid. Do we have any evidence that a drowned man is harder to kill than an undrowned man? The answer would be no.

Euron. If you believe half of what Euron says, I've got a bridge in New York you might be interested in buying. In the end, we must wait to see how much he says is true.

The Horned God is the mate of the Earth Mother. Sky God mating with Earth Goddess, The Storm Lords of Houses Durrendon and Baratheon certainly qualify as Sky Gods. Thus the Stag sigil. Of course, the classic fertility figure Garth Greenhand came from the Reach. He had many mates, though. Once the fertility concept became fixed with one female figure and one male figure, the female was the Earth Mother (the Reach) and the male figure was the Sky King (the Stormlands or the Vale.). Stannis and Selyse. Renly and Margaery (or Loras).Robert and any girl he could get his hands on. Patchface was never a sky or earth figure before he drowned. He was a fire figure from Volantis. Now he may be undead.

Stannis' Burning Stag (or Hart) was of course a corruption.

Basically, when you have different elements you must expect them to interact, perhaps in interesting fashions. Crannogmen, for example, have Earth from the CotF, along with a healthy dose of Water. (The Mudmen may very well be descended from House Mudd, of the Riverlands.) Arya, the water dancer, has Ice from Ned and water from Catelyn. Little Bird Sansa has Air from grandma Whent.

The Lannisters, who mine underground wealth, would be connected to the Underworld - Death. (That's why rule by the rich is called plutocracy - after Pluto, Roman God of the Underworld.) Have fun with that.

And if you squint and hold your tongue just right, you can reach any conclusion you want to with this. You may not even need to sacrifice a goat.

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 @LmL  I really enjoy your podcast.  I took a mythology class in college *mumble mumble* years ago, but it never occurred to me reading the books that Martin created a fictional mythology for a fictional world.  You're light years ahead of me dude.  Just from what I recall, when we're talking about myths, we're talking about Truth with a capital T.  The primal truth that transcends anything that divides people, even oceans and continents.  Look at how many flood myths, savior myths, serpent myths there are in the real world that have remarkable similarities, just like there are many AA myths in the books. The primal myths explain why the world is the way it is.  Do I think Martin is a good enough writer to implement something like that? Absolutely. This is like Tolkien inventing elvish for LotR, but on steroids.  Since the Truth is this is a magic ruled universe, magic is a law of nature like gravity is a law of nature in our real world.  Magic is the physics that governs everything, so no one has a monopoly on that Truth.  

Fire of the gods = knowledge is absolutely appropriate as a mythological Truth.  Consider that there was a time in humanity's ancient past that we did NOT possess control over fire.  Fire was a random event from lightening or a drought.  It took someone figuring out how to rub sticks together or use flints to create and control fire that made many things possible:  cooking food, light at night, warmth in winter, warding off predators.  In short controlling fire makes culture and civilization possible.  With culture and civilization we have language, poetry, art, music, technology, science, etc.            

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8 minutes ago, Ibbison from Ibben said:

I did not state anything subjective as fact. The whole post was rather speculative, with the exception of a few solid facts.. And yet, my post was more closely based on the text than yours.

I am referring to assertions like this:

Quote

Sitting on a weirwood throne was a symbol of dominance over the Earth Singers, whom he excluded from the Iron Islands.

The Grey King was not said to expel cotf form the Islands, not sure where you even got that idea. And while sitting on a weirwood throne may be a sign of conquest, absolutely, this is subjective, because we see greenseers sitting in them (Bloodraven, Bran), people who are not greenseers and who have not conquered any sitting in one (Beric), and the Andal kings who did conquer First Men sitting in one. The idea that the Grey King had a weirwood throne isn't even a fact, just a good theory (which I support), and the reasons for him doing so are obviously quite subjective. Yet you state your interpretation as fact. You also definitely say "this does not mean that" and so on, when what you really mean to say is "I do not think this means that."

But whatever. 

8 minutes ago, Ibbison from Ibben said:

Incorrect, or irrelevant. The fire of the gods may be a classical concept, but there is no evidence from GRRM that he is adhering to classical concepts.

Except that the Grey King story has him stealing fire from the Storm God. And except all the references to Lucifer, which means lightbringer. He's referencing the mythology around this concept all over the place, whether you've noticed or not. But the Grey King story is pretty clear. The fact that he also was said to posses the fire of the sea dragon, which seams to be at least in part a reference to weirwood, means that we have two very similar stories - stealing the fire of the Storm God through a burning tree, and possessing the living fire of Nagga, whose skeleton seems to be weirwood. 

8 minutes ago, Ibbison from Ibben said:

In fact, GRRM's comments do not support the existence of gods in AWoIaF.

LoL, the "fire of the gods" concept does not mean there are literal gods. I agree there are probably not gods in ASOIAF. 

8 minutes ago, Ibbison from Ibben said:

He leaves the matter up for grabs. There is no reference in ASoIaF to the "fire of the gods."

Stealing fire from the gods, that's close enough. And as I said, he is referring to mythology which deals with this topic with all of his Lightbringer / Azor Ahai concepts. It's about attain gin divine power, which is EXACTLY what Bran is doing, according to the text - he is starting on the way to "joining the godhood" by being wedded to the tree. 

8 minutes ago, Ibbison from Ibben said:

Yet Fire is clearly treated as a separate element. Rhaegar's quote to Elia in THotU proves that. The CotF Sing the Song of Earth, and they are the ones who use the weirwoods. Any claim to the contrary is a conflict.

This is the kind of thing I mean when I say dogmatic. Yes, cotf use weirwoods. So do men. We do not know what the limits of their powers are - and claim to the contrary is bullshit. If the cotf had anything to do with making the Others, then there is a level of interaction between the greenseers and what I you would call "ice magic." And you're also ignoring the long list of occurrences where Martin is conflating various elements. 

8 minutes ago, Ibbison from Ibben said:

That is a solid reason to reject some unsubstantiated metaphor concerning "the fire of the gods." The facts are clear. Weirwoods don't qualify as being subject to the "Fire of the Gods", because GRRM's mythology is not that of classical Greece and Rome. That is your prejudice, not mine. There is no "Fire of the Gods" in the text. I dismiss it because it deserves to be dismissed on a rational basis. I don't have a problem with you floating a hypothesis, but if you fail to evaluate it critically and I do, that's your problem.

This is a really strange thing to say. George Martin is pulling from mythology of Greece, Rome, Egypt, China, Scandinavia, Iron, India, and on and on and on. He's incorporated ideas from Marvel comics and Hanna Barabara cartoons. From various points of world history, from Lovecraft and Tolkein and Moorcock. ASOIAF is an amalgamation and reinterpretation of bits from everywhere. He's all the more drawn to universal mythological themes, such as the world tree, the crucified man, the dying god, the fire of the gods, the world cataclysm myth, Oedipus and various other familial killings themes... again, it goes on and on. This is hardly my prejudice, but the result of thousands of people analyzing the series and drawing out the various parallels. It's important to remember that he never takes something without changing it, and he often takes only bits or inverts parts or changes gender or whatever. And that is why it is really bizarre to shoot down someone's idea by saying "GRRM's mythology is not that of classical Greece and Rome.." 

8 minutes ago, Ibbison from Ibben said:

 

Not pure conjecture. Supported somewhat by the text. References to Sea magic, Storm magic, Air magic, Water magic, Earth magic, Fire magic, and Blood magic exist in the text. Still somewhat speculative, as I admitted. The relationships between them are open to interpretation.

Those phrases - sea magic, storm magic, ice magic, fire magic - are actually not in the text anywhere. There is much talk of blood magic, and a reference to "some kind of water magic" in the Rhoynar section of TWOIAF.  Still, I agree that we see magic primarily acting through the elements, and blood. What I disagree with is definitive separation. All magic may have a common source, we do not know. Why is Melisandre's magic stronger at the Wall, for example? She says its a hinge of the world, but if so, it's obviously an icy hinge. But her, w wielder of "fire magic," can draw strength from it. That would indicate ice and fire magic can use the same "mana," if you will, or that they can both draw power from the same source. That certainly raises some issues with the idea that all mags are clearly separate and have nothing to do with one another. 

8 minutes ago, Ibbison from Ibben said:

Ice and Fire are clearly shown to be separate from Earth in the books.The very separation of the names speaks to this.

You're being very literal here. The same thing can have many names. Two forms of the same thing can have different names, and also share a name that applies to both. What I am suggesting is that a greenseer may be able to use multiple "forms" of magic. There is evidence for this but I have laid it out elsewhere and will not take the time to do so here. 

8 minutes ago, Ibbison from Ibben said:

The classical five elements are not being used here. References to them are irrelevant.

Again, dogmatic, and again, you cannot definitively say that Martin definitely isn't referring to this or that mythological concept, cease he refers to hundreds of external concepts, and also because you cannot prove a negative. Besides, that wasn't even my point. I was pointing out that water and ice are really the same element, but Martin has chosen to split them out. That's because he's drawing from Norse myth a lot, and ice features prominently as an active force in their mythology. 

8 minutes ago, Ibbison from Ibben said:

The evidence I presented  makes that clear. Ice, Water, and Sea magic are all clearly referenced as being separate in GRRM's world. The Others (and perhaps the Stark Kings of Winter) wield Ice. The Roynar wield water. (The Tullys, who draw their power from the river, might be a minor example) The Ironborn are of the sea. That's what I looked at before I posted this.

Right, sure, except that the Others having burning star eyes and the phrase "nothing burns like the cold" is used many times. 

Quote

I hate these stupid mountains of yours, Prince Bran."
"Yesterday you said you loved them."
"Oh, I do. My lord father told me about mountains, but I never saw one till now. I love them more than I can say."
Bran made a face at her. "But you just said you hated them."
"Why can't it be both?" Meera reached up to pinch his nose.
"Because they're different," he insisted. "Like night and day, or ice and fire."
"If ice can burn," said Jojen in his solemn voice, "then love and hate can mate. Mountain or marsh, it makes no matter. The land is one."

So yeah, I think this pokes a hole in the notion of absolute delineation between ice and fire pretty specifically. I mean, George has written Jojen to specifically correct Bran on this exact issue that we are discussing.  I agree that we see fire magic and ice magic that are different form one another. But I am also suggesting they might be two sides of the same coin. They be the sam thing that branched in two separate paths. I would suggest greenseers using ice or fire as a magical medium and transforming themselves. 

8 minutes ago, Ibbison from Ibben said:

Kindly state some of that "plenty of evidence to suggest the Others had an origin in greenseer magic." All greenseers we see are associated with Earth magic.

Have you really never read any of the theories connecting the children and the Others? I don't even know where to start you off. A lot of people have written about it. If you're interested you can easily search on it and find well put together theories about this, I am not going to slap something half assed together on the fly. 

Again, we do not know the limits of the power of the greenseers, at all. The earth has rock and stone and leaf and branch, and also has fire - in fact the earth is mostly molten. It is this fire which warms the earth and brings life to everyone. The earth also has quite a bit of ice, and the balance between the two is, well, the title of the series. 

8 minutes ago, Ibbison from Ibben said:

I'm not the dogmatic one here. I clearly labeled my speculative ideas as speculation.Or at least I thought I did.  I shot down your claim that Fire = Knowledge because the text does not support it. I looked at your point, and rejected it on solid, text based grounds. Fire is clearly an elemental force. Dragons are Fire made Flesh. Aegon conquered Westeros with Dragons, with Fire. Not knowledge. It's not a matter of understanding, it's a matter of evaluation.

Again I think you are being overly literal. Yes, Aegon conquered Westeros with dragons not knowledge - that was a really asinine statement, do you realize? Just because we have real fire and real fire magic in the story - and beings of fire and swords of fire and comets of ice and fire - does not mean that fire cannot also be a metaphor for other concepts. It's bizarre that you would see this ideas as mutually exclusive, I don't know what else to say. 

8 minutes ago, Ibbison from Ibben said:

If you have solid arguments, you can change my mind. But your arguments aren't solid. The Fire = Knowledge claim seems to be your main complaint. I think I dealt with that easily. If you have others, please let me know..

Let's not. I think we are done. We are getting way off the OP and nobody wants to read this in all likelihood. I have to agree with @sweetsunray that it's best we leave it alone. 

8 minutes ago, Ibbison from Ibben said:

In TWoIaF, Valyria's rise commences immediately after the end of the Long Night. (TWoIaF, p 13) The Ghiscari rose more quickly, and had to be defeated. Yet the Long Night in Westeros is set around 6000 BP, not 8000 BP as implied by the True History. Given the relationship between Ice and Fire in the text, their individual rise, though separate, should likely be considered to be related. The relationship between Ice and Fire implied in the text suggests it. Speculative, yes. But probably good.   

 

 

The word immediately is yours. I am familiar with that section. All we can say is that it arose sometime after the Long Night, i believe the words are "as Westeros was crawling out of the pit of the Long Night" or whatever. And the first nation listed, as you say, is This, who claims to already have been ancient when Valyria arose. I'm not arguing against your thematic interpretation, just want to be clear on the timeline. We don't know exactly how long after the LN Valyria arose, but it was definitely after. Given that the LN would be like a planetary reset button, a global famine which would have plunged the world into anarchy and starvation and toppled all established power structures, we can assume that empires which exist after the Long Night did not begin in any meaningful way before the Long Night. People like the Rhoynar and the Yi Tish have old legends of the LN passed down from their ancestors, who would have been the survivors of the LN. Valyria was one of many new empires to spring up in the power vacuum the LN left. 

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10 minutes ago, Ibbison from Ibben said:

This is an interesting post. You deserve a good answer. so -

Ice burning is a subjective term. Does ice really burn you? Like fire? No. The effect is totally different. Separating the subjective from the objective is always a good start to sound reasoning.

The ice armor of the White Walkers melting when struck with obsidian is an interesting phenomenon. When we have enough data to examine other elemental interactions we might be able to form a hypothesis.

Ned's Valyrian steel sword was named after a previous weapon, which may be more interesting than the present day blade(s). We'll have to wait for data. Still, naming is a simple subjective process.

The Ironborn. Sigh. A people who see magic in intermediate level first aid. Do we have any evidence that a drowned man is harder to kill than an undrowned man? The answer would be no.

Euron. If you believe half of what Euron says, I've got a bridge in New York you might be interested in buying. In the end, we must wait to see how much he says is true.

The Horned God is the mate of the Earth Mother. Sky God mating with Earth Goddess, The Storm Lords of Houses Durrendon and Baratheon certainly qualify as Sky Gods. Thus the Stag sigil. Of course, the classic fertility figure Garth Greenhand came from the Reach. He had many mates, though. Once the fertility concept became fixed with one female figure and one male figure, the female was the Earth Mother (the Reach) and the male figure was the Sky King (the Stormlands or the Vale.). Stannis and Selyse. Renly and Margaery (or Loras).Robert and any girl he could get his hands on. Patchface was never a sky or earth figure before he drowned. He was a fire figure from Volantis. Now he may be undead.

Stannis' Burning Stag (or Hart) was of course a corruption.

Basically, when you have different elements you must expect them to interact, perhaps in interesting fashions. Crannogmen, for example, have Earth from the CotF, along with a healthy dose of Water. (The Mudmen may very well be descended from House Mudd, of the Riverlands.) Arya, the water dancer, has Ice from Ned and water from Catelyn. Little Bird Sansa has Air from grandma Whent.

The Lannisters, who mine underground wealth, would be connected to the Underworld - Death. (That's why rule by the rich is called plutocracy - after Pluto, Roman God of the Underworld.) Have fun with that.

And if you squint and hold your tongue just right, you can reach any conclusion you want to with this. You may not even need to sacrifice a goat.

I am completely done attempting to converse with you if that is your idea of a good answer. Your answer on the Ironborn was emblematic of this conversation. You either do not like, acknowledge, or understand symbolism, which makes conversation between us impossible. I suppose its great that different people can take different things away from ASOIAF and enjoy it for different reasons. For myself, I find it impossible to talk about ASOIAF and not discuss the symbolic components. Cheers all the same.

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9 minutes ago, Blue-Eyed Wolf said:

 @LmL  I really enjoy your podcast.  I took a mythology class in college *mumble mumble* years ago, but it never occurred to me reading the books that Martin created a fictional mythology for a fictional world.  You're light years ahead of me dude.  Just from what I recall, when we're talking about myths, we're talking about Truth with a capital T.  The primal truth that transcends anything that divides people, even oceans and continents.  Look at how many flood myths, savior myths, serpent myths there are in the real world that have remarkable similarities, just like there are many AA myths in the books. The primal myths explain why the world is the way it is.  Do I think Martin is a good enough writer to implement something like that? Absolutely. This is like Tolkien inventing elvish for LotR, but on steroids.  Since the Truth is this is a magic ruled universe, magic is a law of nature like gravity is a law of nature in our real world.  Magic is the physics that governs everything, so no one has a monopoly on that Truth.  

Fire of the gods = knowledge is absolutely appropriate as a mythological Truth.  Consider that there was a time in humanity's ancient past that we did NOT possess control over fire.  Fire was a random event from lightening or a drought.  It took someone figuring out how to rub sticks together or use flints to create and control fire that made many things possible:  cooking food, light at night, warmth in winter, warding off predators.  In short controlling fire makes culture and civilization possible.  With culture and civilization we have language, poetry, art, music, technology, science, etc.            

Hey @Blue-Eyed Wolf, thanks for the comment and also the previous one. I've already derailed the topic of the OP enough (apologies), so if it's ok with you I will copy your comment and reply to it on my thread. :) Cheers!

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I'll bow out, since we probably don't want to bother each other, but I'll clear up one thing before I go. The statement about the Grey King excluding the CotF from the Iron islands is an abbreviated summary based on the following data -

1) Nagga's Bones certainly seem to be petrified Weirwood trunks. Forty four in one site would be the largest concentration of weirwoods we've ever heard of, and the seem to be in some sort of formation. To me, this marks the site as a former major holy site for the CotF.

2) According to Archmaester Haereg, the Ironborn claim that the Islands were never home to CotF, and didn't support weirwoods.

3) Ironborn legends claim that the Grey King carved the first longship from the pale wood of the demon tree Ygg.

The implications seem to be obvious to me. I just wrote quickly.

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On August 7, 2016 at 2:38 AM, bemused said:

Of the various guesses that have been made at the identity of the Mad Mouse, I lean toward Howland Reed, but I always hold back from firm belief, because there are so many reasonable speculations about where else he might be, and what he might be doing .. and he is, after all, only one man. So I'm not setting out to prove or disprove the theory, but trying to find out as much as I can about his motivations, connections, etc., though I will take note (**) , if something particularly points in HR's direction. We'll just see what shakes out, but whoever he is and whoever he's allied with, I've always taken his intentions to be good.For me, he's one of the good guys.

(I know, this is fiendishly long.)

PART ONE - MUSINGS ON SHADRICH, HIS COMPANIONS .. AND HOUSE WHENT

What can be said about Ser Shadrich of the Shady Glen, The Mad Mouse ? Well, to borrow a familiar phrase - much and more, as it turns out - some of which has always been apparent, and some of which I've only been able to connect recently. I'm going to skip back and forth with my quotes, and - fair warning! - include references to the chapters from TWoW.

So let's get the really obvious out of the way. I think for most of us, the very name "Shadrich" instantly evokes Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, King Nebuchadnezzar, and the fiery furnace of religious mythology. Shadrach and his companions were cast into the furnace because they refused to bow down to the King's golden statue (either of a god, or of the king himself (as a god?)).. Of course, this would have been a new god to Shadrach and his stalwarts. They stand by their own "old" God.

Similarly, we (mostly) accept that our Shadrich, in-story, is a follower of the old gods, evoked by the weirwood colours of his white mouse with red eyes (which suggests a connection to Bloodraven whether he's aware of it or not).

There are many suggestions (which I'll come to) linking our Mad Mouse to Harrenhal and House Whent but  first, I want to skip ahead to see if his companions in the Vale might be his allies (again, even unknowingly) and thus echo Meshach and Abednego.

Ser Morgarth : ... Some have put forth Elder Brother as an alternate ID for Ser Morgarth, and I think this is very possible.
In AFfC, Brienne VI, Bro. Narbert tells Brienne , "... The Seven have blessed our Elder Brother with healing hands. He has restored many a man to health that even the maesters could not cure, and many a woman too."

According to Brienne,  .. he stood straight and tall, and moved with the vigor of a man in the prime of his years. Nor did he have the gentle, kindly face she expected of a healer. His head was large and square, his eyes shrewd, his nose veined and red. Though he wore a tonsure, his scalp was as stubbly as his heavy jaw.
He looks more like a man made to break bones than to heal one.
(Brienne's thought)

Looking at Ser Morgarth in AFfC, Alayne II, he's  ... a burly fellow with a thick salt-and-pepper beard, a red nose bulbous with broken veins, and gnarled hands as large as hams.
.. the nose is a good match, and considering how "stubbly" Elder Brother is, face and head, it wouldn't take long for enough hair to grow in to meet Morgarth's description. EB has been a fighter, and though Brienne doesn't describe his hands, their appearance could be quite as unexpected as the rest of him. ... But what about his possible motivation ? E.B. says,  "...I fought for Prince Rhaegar, though he never knew my name. I could not tell you why, save that the lord I served served a lord who served a lord who had decided to support the dragon rather than the stag..." Of course he's aware that ... "The singers would have us believe it was all Rhaegar and Robert struggling in the stream for a woman both of them claimed to love.." .. and he will now be aware of the well known details of the sack of KL. He may even know more than we readers do, depending on who has visited him.. He could also easily have heard of the purge of Robert's bastards. 

Earlier in the chapter, when speaking of the "gifts" that wash ashore on the QI (like Rhaegar's rubies and the recent abundance of corpses) he says ,  "Sometimes we find a woman, though . . . or worse, a little child. Those are the cruelest gifts."  Although he's turned his back on being a knight, that doesn't mean he can forgive the "cruelest" behaviour. We know how he feels about Quincy Cox doing nothing during the destruction at Saltpans. He tells Septon Meribald ,  "When you cross to Saltpans, no doubt Ser Quincy will ask you for forgiveness. I am glad that you are here to give it. I could not." (still AFfC, Brienne IV) .. I'm sure he's well placed to have heard stories of the Bloody Mummers, the kinds of things they've been doing elsewhere, and who hired them in the first place. He will have heard of Gregor's campaign of terror, and everyone knows whose man he is.
Probably not coincidentally, Brienne earlier used the same word (though judging incorrectly) when musing on Sansa's situation... the girl had seen her father’s head lopped off and been forced to marry one of his killers afterward. If half the tales were true, the dwarf was the cruelest Lannister of all.  ...AFfC, Brienne I 

Elder Brother could be motivated to try to save one child (Sansa) from Lannister cruelty, on behalf of himself and perhaps, on behalf of others.
I'm putting him in the "good guys" category with Ser Shadrich, and they may know of and agree with each other's motivations.

Ser Byron : ... I've been unsure about Ser Byron never having been able to find as convincing a possible ID for him. He's ... an elegant young knight whose thick blond mane cascaded down well past his shoulders. ... and we're told ...  the tall one with the blond hair kissed her (Sansa's) hand before taking his leave. 

All we have to go on is his "thick blonde mane" and any hints given by his name.. Hmm.. He might be Shadrich's adversary. Since he's elegant, he's probably reasonably well funded.. His thick blonde "mane" easily could suggest a Lannister connection , or perhaps Targ/Blackfyre/Brightflame .. His name may also suggest those same houses, by inference. "Byron" strikes a chord with us because of Lord Byron, famous for being a great seducer, having an affair (and child) with his half sister, and being an exile (in his case, self - imposed). 

Augh! Wait ! ...  As soon as I typed that paragraph, I realized that there could be,  ... no, IS something that puts Ser Byron on the "good guys" list. (I'm just leaving the paragraph in for comparison and outside possibility).

OK, here goes ... Questioning how aware or actively involved Bloodraven might be in their mission... (I mean beyond a character just believing in the old gods) ... and keeping in mind the Lord Byron assosciation, has just led to a real revelation for me.

Bloodraven has Targaryen/Blackwood bloodlines - carrying the inevitable Targ. incest allusions. His own his own father was definitely a great seducer, while he, himself, was "exiled" to the Wall. This is all quite Byronesqe. ... Bloodraven is becoming one with a weirwood, blurring the line between life and death. Likewise, the weirwood at Raventree hall is "dead", but apparently still connected to the "weirnet". (The ravens still return every night). Perhaps it's just "mostly dead".
According to Jaime I, ADWD, Lord Tytos Blackwood is tall and thin and something of a snappy dresser ... Lord Tytos Blackwood met him in the outer ward, mounted on a destrier as gaunt as himself. Very tall and very thin, the Lord of Raventree had a hook nose, long hair, and a ragged salt-and-pepper beard that showed more salt than pepper. In silver inlay on the breastplate of his burnished scarlet armor was a white tree bare and dead, surrounded by a flock of onyx ravens taking flight. A cloak of raven feathers fluttered from his shoulders.
... The "elegance" of his wardrobe belies the raggedness of his beard.
His third son Hoster (Hos the hostage) ... could not have been any older than sixteen, yet he was even taller than his father, almost seven feet of legs and shins and elbows, a gangling, gawky boy with a cowlick. ... His apparel is not described, and he's still at the awkward stage.

Lord Tytos' heir , Brynden Blackwood, is alive, was not at the RW .. "Brynden is my eldest, and my heir.".. yet he's not introduced to Jaime, although we repeatedly are shown a Lord would have his heir present, if possible, to observe important negotiations with important people.  So I ask you, where is this probably tall, not-unlikely-to-be-elegant namesake of Bloodraven

Tytos' and Hos' hair colour is not specifically mentioned, but Tytos seems to speak with some authority (and some kindness)  when he says of Bracken's bastard who was killed in the war ...  "Harry was a bastard, true enough, but whether Jonos sired him is a thornier question. A fair-haired boy, he was, and comely. Jonos is neither.”... Whose bastard was he, then? Perhaps the Blackwoods tend to have fair hair.. beard and hair colour don't always match, and "salt-and-pepper" just means grey or white mixed in with the original colour (not specifically dark).

Now, that I think much better of Ser Byron, that may not have been a seductive or gallant parting kiss on Sansa's hand. If he is Brynden Blackwood, it may be more akin to Morna Whitemask kissing Jon's hand... an unspoken declaration that he is her man.

Before I get in-depth with Shadrich, I want to say a bit about House Whent. We had some interesting discussion in a thread by @Isobel Harper recently... http://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php?/topic/138138-the-bat-and-the-wolf/#comment-7502336

...which led me to start musing more deeply on the Whent/Lothston hints I already saw surrounding Ser Shadrich.

I won't go into a detailed discourse to start , but we can get into it more fully (if you like) as we go on in discussion. In brief, the Whents were knights in service to House Lothston, but helped to bring them down and succeeded them as rulers of  Harrenhal. They echo the Lothston bat in their arms, but we don't yet know why theirs feature nine bats. It's quite possible , if not probable, that they carry Lothston blood in their family. Lady Shella Whent is the last of her line and is related to the Stark children through Catelyn. Cat's children are her heirs, so far as we can tell. There are a number of references to her beginning in AGoT.

While she's with Yoren, Arya thinks Lady Whent might help her ... Later, she's disguised as a farmer with Sandor, when he falsely claims they serve "Old Lady Whent".

Curious side note - While in Harrenhall Arya describes the Harrenhal heart tree for us... The light of the moon painted the limbs of the weirwood silvery white as she made her way toward it, but the five-pointed red leaves turned black by night. Arya stared at the face carved into its trunk. It was a terrible face, its mouth twisted, its eyes flaring and full of hate. Is that what a god looked like? Could gods be hurt, the same as people? I should pray, she thought suddenly. ...ACoK, Arya IX
... Being dreadfully hurt (tortured) can bring on madness, but we also get a taste of the other meaning of "mad" - anger and hatred ( frequently powerful motivators).

The first Lothston/Whent hints that stand out to us about Ser Shadrich are his red hair and his sobriquet "The Mad Mouse", which bring to mind Mad Danelle Lothston, who we see marching with Bloodraven in The Mystery Knight. ... Sansa's auburn hair comes through Cat from her grandmother Minisa Whent. ... Later we'll see Shadrich say, in the released Alayne chapter from TWoW,  "A mouse with wings would be a silly sight." ... winged mouse = fledermaus = bat.

Looking back, there are quite a few places where "mouse" can be connected to Whent blood and Harrenhal, as well. The first, and most numerous occurances come through Arya, but her Whent heritage is not something on our minds at the time. These are only some of the many examples :

On the road Arya had felt like a sheep, but Harrenhal turned her into a mouse. She was grey as a mouse in her scratchy wool shift, and like a mouse she kept to the crannies and crevices and dark holes of the castle, scurrying out of the way of the mighty. ... ACoK, Arya VII

Arry was a fierce little boy with a sword, and I'm just a grey mouse girl with a pail.... ACoK, Arya VII

Arya is a servant in Harrenhal and the Whents were in service to the Lothstons.

A mouse couldn’t use a sword but I can. ... ACoK, Arya VIII

She's a mouse girl that can use a sword, the Whents were sword bearing knights, and there seems no doubt the Mad Mouse can use one, too.

 I was a sheep, and then I was a mouse, I couldn't do anything but hide. ... ACoK Arya IX

Arya was hiding her identity and Shadrich appears to be hiding his.

Sansa doesn't call herself a mouse, but others do:

Cersei to Sansa...Try not to sound so like a mouse, Sansa. You’re a woman now, remember? And betrothed to my firstborn.” The queen sipped at her wine. ... ACoK, Sansa VI

Lysa to Sansa... “You squeak like a mouse now, but you were bold enough in the garden, weren’t you? You were bold enough in the snow.” .. AsoS, Sansa VII

A bold mouse... we'll meet another in the next book..

And later, well after we've met Ser Shadrich, Cersei will think...  Catelyn Tully was a mouse, or she would have smothered this Jon Snow in his cradle. Instead, she’s left the filthy task to me.  ...Cersei IV, AFFC

...This is fraught with extra meaning. Not only does it label Catelyn a mouse / Whent ... but no Whent would harm Rhaegar's child. Lord Whent appears to have been in on Rhaegar's plans to make changes from the beginning, and Oswell Whent gave his life to protect those plans (Jon) at the ToJ.

**Of course, Howland Reed was prominent at both the Harrenhal Tourney and the ToJ.


PART TWO - A PRELUDE TO SHADRICH

I now want to look at Brienne I, AFfC  where on the road from Rosby to Duskendale Brienne meets characters of varying importance that we may recognise later. There's Pod on his piebald horse, and there's the barefoot septon with his "poor fellows" - who we'll later recognise as  the High Sparrow. The septon on the palfrey might also be traceable, or even the swineherd, but I'm going to cherry pick those who can possibly relate to Brienne, Sansa and Shadrich..

Very early in the chapter,   "... she passed a swineherd driving pigs, and an old woman in a horse litter with an escort of mounted guards." 
Here are a few examples of horse litters -   https://www.google.ca/search?q=medieval+horse+litter&site=webhp&tbm=isch&imgil=UApt6Q2LkRWgfM%3A%3BBeA1hqPdivMYSM%3Bhttps%253A%252F%252Fen.wikipedia.org%252Fwiki%252FHorses_in_the_Middle_Ages&source=iu&pf=m&fir=UApt6Q2LkRWgfM%3A%2CBeA1hqPdivMYSM%2C_&usg=__57BShAjSgiQIDrhgKkSSpP04UlM%3D&biw=1360&bih=637&ved=0ahUKEwjyj-iyq97NAhVl7IMKHTjBCiwQyjcIRA&ei=aLZ8V_K7NuXYjwS4gqvgAg#imgrc=UApt6Q2LkRWgfM%3A  
With her litter and her armed escort, the old woman had to be a noblewoman of at least some means. Although I've read right past her without taking notice a number of times, I'm now thinking there's a good chance she's Shella Whent, in light of many upcoming Whent/ Lothston (and Bloodraven) clues (and knowing how George likes to hide things in plain sight).

This is one of only three horse litters mentioned in the whole canon - another is mentioned for Prince Doran and there's the grandiose example used by Illyrio and Tyrion. (But it's probably safe to assume that Manderly used one on his way to WF, and perhaps the wounded Myrcella on her way to the Water Gardens, though only "litter" is used for both.) I think the horse litter is supposed to stand out. .. It's also curious that though Brienne pays attention to arms, sigils and other identifiers all along her way, she notices none for the old lady or her guard, and she was close enough to notice. Of the people she encounters, we're told...  She asked all of them if they had seen a highborn girl of three-and-ten years with blue eyes and auburn hair. None had. ... The old woman may be keeping a low profile by not bearing any distinguishing arms.

Some last quotes and a question : Speaking of Harrenhal... That's Lady Whent's seat, and she's always been a friend o' the Watch." ... Yoren to Arya, ACoK

" ... Lady Whent yielded Harrenhal for want of men to defend it. Ser Gregor burnt out the Pipers and the Brackens …" ... Kevan to Tyrion, AGoT (pushed out by Tywin.)

"... Lady Whent’s died as well, I hear.." ... LF to Sansa, AffC, Alayne I

In AGoT, she was among those ordered to present themselves in KL and swear fealty to Joffrey (or else). We don't see that she did. LF has only heard she's dead, and it could be a false report. .. One can see why she'd want to avoid going to KL and swearing to Tywin's grandson. She's already been disposessed by the Lannisters. And by AFfC, a number of her last remaining relations are dead or presumed dead at Lannister hands, or by their machinations.

If she is the unidentified old lady, what is she doing there? She's moving toward Rosby.. the site of yet another mystery. Who is ser Gyles' ward?.. and when he refuses to let Falyse and her husband enter the castle, is it only because of their claim, or is he hiding something (or someone) else ?  It's entirely speculative, but there's a chance these two mysteries may somehow connect.

Now, let's move on with Brienne. Her next encounter is with Ser Creighton Longbough and Ser Illifer the Penniless.. (Ok.. this is where connections with the Dunk and Egg tales, as well as information from TWoIaF really come to the fore, strengthening the connection I feel between Shadrich and Bloodraven.) ... Here's the meeting, in spoilers to save space :

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Near dusk she saw a campfire burning by a brook. Two men sat beside it grilling trout, their arms and armor stacked beneath a tree. One was old and one was somewhat younger, though far from young. The younger rose to greet her. He had a big belly straining at the laces of his spotted doeskin jerkin. A shaggy untrimmed beard covered his cheeks and chin, the color of old gold.
“We have trout enough for three, ser,” he called out. ... 
<snip>... ".. Illy, gods be good, the size of her.”
“I took her for a knight as well,” the older knight said, turning the trout. ...
<snip> ... “Sers,” she said, “have you seen a maid of three-and-ten upon the road? She has blue eyes and auburn hair, and may have been in company with a portly red-faced man of forty years.” 
The nearsighted hedge knight scratched his head. “I recall no such maid. What sort of hair is auburn?” 
“Browny red,” said the older man. “No, we saw her not.” 

“We saw her not, m’lady,” the younger told her. “Come, dismount, the fish is almost done. Are you hungry?” 
She was, as it happened, but she was wary as well. Hedge knights had an unsavory reputation. “A hedge knight and a robber knight are two sides of the same sword,” it was said. These two do not look too dangerous. “Might I know your names, sers?”  
“I have the honor to be Ser Creighton Longbough, of whom the singers sing,” said the big-bellied one. “You will have heard of my deeds on the Blackwater, mayhaps. My companion is Ser Illifer the Penniless.” 
If there was a song about Creighton Longbough, it was not one Brienne had heard. Their names meant no more to her than did their arms. Ser Creighton’s green shield showed only a brown chief, and a deep gouge made by some battle-axe. Ser Illifer bore gold and ermine gyronny, though everything about him suggested that painted gold and painted ermine were the only sorts he’d ever known. He was sixty if he was a day, his face pinched and narrow beneath the hood of a patched roughspun mantle. Mail-clad he went, but flecks of rust spotted the iron like freckles. Brienne stood a head taller than either of them, and was better mounted and better armed in the bargain. If I fear the likes of these, I had as well swap my longsword for a pair of knitting needles.
 
“I thank you, good sers,” she said. “I will gladly share your trout.” Swinging down, Brienne unsaddled her mare and watered her before hobbling her to graze. She stacked her arms and shield and saddlebags beneath an elm. By then the trout was crisply done. Ser Creighton brought her a fish, and she sat cross-legged on the ground to eat it. 
“We are bound for Duskendale, m’lady,” Longbough told her, as he pulled apart his own trout with his fingers. “You would do well to ride with us. The roads are perilous.”
 

Beginnng with Brienne, her very apparent descent from Dunk may now have been confirmed outright, I'm not sure.. She, like Dunk at the Ashford tourney in The Hedge Knight, makes an elm tree her shelter or "pavillion" if you like( and of course, she will later have her shield repainted, unknowingly, as a replica of Dunk's). A lot of the following sort of connected all at once for me, but I'll try to put it in some sort of order..


Creighton Longbough.. The name Longbough doesn't occur anywhere else, and gods only know what Creighton refers to could be some inside joke( or simply close to "cretin"). However, it's suggested  he's a member of the nobility (if only minor) by the inclusion of a last name. "Longbough" could be a branch that extends far from the trunk of a tree. A distant cousin of a better known family, perhaps, or coming from a locale far removed from the original House. I feel he has a connection to House Fossoway, and though I at first considered the green-apple branch, because of the green field of his shield, on second thought, his connection could equally be to the red-apple Fossoways. ( Either way, Longbough is not listed among Fossoway cousins in the wiki.)

In THK, the Fossoways, Steffon and Raymun, are among the first to "befriend" Dunk. They immediately comment on Dunk's size , as Longbough does on Brienne's here. Both Fossoways seem friendly, but Steffon will later turn on Dunk, while Raymun becomes the first of the green-apple Fossoways and stays friendly. (His new arms  are a play on Steffon's repeated joke that Raymun is as yet unripe, a green apple , to which Raymun quips "better green than wormy".  ... Steffon is boastful and arrogant, Raymun good natured and well-meaning.

In ACoK, at Renly's feast at Bitterbridge, Catelyn notes that Jon (green-apple) Fossoway is "genial",  while ..... 
Ser Tanton of the red-apple Fossoways climbed on the table and swore to slay Sandor Clegane in single combat. The vow might have been taken more solemnly if Ser Tanton had not had one foot in a gravy boat when he made it. ... AcoK, Catelyn II 
... This sounds quite Creighton-ish.

In TWoIaF, Targaryen Kings, Jaeherys II ... We learn that one of the Band of Nine was ... SER DERRICK FOSSOWAY, THE BAD APPLE  - An exile from Westeros, and a knight with a black reputation. .. We don't know if he was of the red or green variety, but the War of the Ninepenny Kings (260 AC) was also the fifth Blackfyre Rebellion... ( Like Dunk, I feel like saying, "Oh, that again."). Odd notes: In THK, Steffon splintered Raymun's shield.. Only somewhat younger than the 60-if-he-was-a-day Illifer, Creighton is old enough to have fought alongside Maelys the Monstrous. (The "old gold" of the beard covering his cheeks and chin may be a slight evocation of the gold skulls of the Golden Company).

I'll come back to Longbough in a bit, but let's look at Illifer the Penniless : ..The only possible connection I could come up with for his name, is that it's somewhat similar to Tristifer IV of the now obscure, (if not defunct) House Mudd. The gold and ermine gyronny of his shield could well hint at former greatness, if not royalty. That connection seems quite a stretch, at first.. but let's just dig a bit deeper.

The vehemence of Ser Illifer's reaction to Brienne's bat shield is greater than any other reaction she encounters..(hidden again, for space)

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His companion gave a dry chuckle. “Creigh, leave off. The likes o’ her has no need for the likes o’ us.” 
“The likes of me?” Brienne was uncertain what he meant. 
Ser Illifer crooked a bony finger at her shield. Though its paint was cracked and peeling, the device it bore showed plain: a black bat on a field divided bendwise, silver and gold. “You bear a liar’s shield, to which you have no right. My grandfather’s grandfather helped kill the last o’ Lothston. None since has dared to show that bat, black as the deeds of them that bore it.” 

The shield was the one Ser Jaime had taken from the armory at Harrenhal. Brienne had found it in the stables with her mare, along with much else; saddle and bridle, chainmail hauberk and visored greathelm, purses of gold and silver and a parchment more valuable than either. “I lost mine own shield,” she explained. 
“A true knight is the only shield a maiden needs,” declared Ser Creighton stoutly. 
Ser Illifer paid him no mind. “A barefoot man looks for a boot, a chilly man a cloak. But who would cloak themselves in shame? Lord Lucas bore that bat, the Pander, and Manfryd o’ the Black Hood, his son. Why wear such arms, I ask myself, unless your own sin is fouler still... and fresher.” He unsheathed his dagger, an ugly piece of cheap iron. “A woman freakish big and freakish strong who hides her own true colors. Creigh, behold the Maid o’ Tarth, who opened Renly’s royal throat for him.”
 

Of course we focus on the Renly accusation because that event took place within  the time frame of our story, but after Brienne swears she didn't do it, Illifer just shrugs, and carries on. He spends more time and it seems to me, more hatred, on the Lothstons. Why? .. Lucas "the Pander" could hardly be thought to have done "black deeds".. unsavory, perhaps, but surely nothing to earn the outrage of a hedge knight, even if he was a pander (and I think we're entitled to doubt.) ... He says Brienne bears a liar's shield. A pander is not necessarily a liar, but a hooded man might be (including Illifer himself), by hiding his identity or his intentions. Manfryd o' the Black Hood seems a possible liar...

In The Sworn Sword, Dunk serves Ser Eustace Ogrey, a blackfyre sympathiser ... Ser Eustace cradled his wine cup in both hands. "If Daemon had ridden over Gwayne Corbray . . . if Fireball had not been slain on the eve of battle . . . if Hightower and Tarbeck and Oakheart and Butterwell had lent us their full strength instead of trying to keep one foot in each camp . . . if Manfred Lothston had proved true instead of treacherous ...  " ...That's treacherous to the Blackfyre cause..and he may not simply have been a turncloak, but Bloodraven's mole all along, since it's suggested Bloodraven had informants in the BF camp... In the end, years of such talk bore their fruit, and Daemon Blackfyre made his decision. Yet it was a decision he made rashly, for word soon reached King Daeron that Blackfyre meant to declare himself king within the turn of the moon. (We do not know how word came to Daeron, though Merion's unfinished The Red Dragon and the Black suggests that another of the Great Bastards, Brynden Rivers, was involved.)  ... TWoIaF Targ. Kings Daeron II
(Bloodraven used informants again in the second BF rebellion.)

I think these two have some nerve, accusing Brienne of hiding her true colours.. Longbough may be using an invented name, neither of their shields correspond to any known houses, and Illifer carries a shield that shouts nobility, but claims no last name at all.
Illifer says ..  "My grandfather’s grandfather helped kill the last o’ Lothston." ...  But that doesn't guarantee that the man swung a sword.. He might only have provided damning, or even false information. His involvement would take us back in time roughly 5-6 generations (remembering that Brienne is much younger) to probably the early part of Maekar's reign (221-233 AC), not long after the third BF rebellion (219 AC).. depending on at what time of life his great-great-great grandfather acted.

And about that last name - when Griff meets with the Golden Company ... Ser Franklyn did the introductions. Some of the sellsword captains bore bastard names, as Flowers did: Rivers, Hill, Stone. Others claimed names that had once loomed large in the histories of the Seven Kingdoms; Griff counted two Strongs, three Peakes, a Mudd, a Mandrake, a Lothston, a pair of Coles. Not all were genuine, he knew. In the free companies, a man could call himself whatever he chose.  ...ADWD, The Lost Lord

Not all were genuine, but some might be..

Young John Mudd and Lorimas Mudd appear in the appendices of ADWD as sarjeants in the GC, and from TWoW, Arianne II ... The Mudds had been kings up by the Trident a thousand years ago, she knew, but there was nothing royal about this one. Nor was he particularly young, but it seemed his father had also served in the Golden Company, where he had been known as Old John Mudd.

Is Old John Mudd alive? If so, where is he? Have we just met him?

Brienne thinks she shouldn't fear these two, and after waking up unmolested (and not robbed), she even thinks they're "decent men". I'm not so sure. Perhaps she needs to be aware that there are more than just two sorts of hedge knights. 

They seem determined to accompany her even though she doesn't want them to. There's another possibly nasty sign in that they've caught trout for dinner. (Sansa also has Tully blood) and Ser Creighton pulls his trout apart with his fingers... I can't say I'm sure they fought at the Balckwater, but if they've been in KL, I'm sure they know about the "bag of dragons", yet they seem not to just be out for a reward. They may be working directly for Varys. Varys may want Sansa, not for Cersei's reasons, but his own. (Mummer's Dragon?)

These two seem to have a relationship of long standing (Longbough calling his companion "Illy"). They can easily have been comrades since the War of the Ninepenny Kings.

Should we pay attention to all this ? .. I think so. If BR and the old gods are connected to Shadrich, BR has been relentlessly opposed to Blackfyre ambitions from day one.


PART THREE - SHADRICH AT LONG LAST ! 


Three hours later they came up upon another party struggling toward Duskendale; a merchant and his serving men, accompanied by yet another hedge knight. 

Brienne, Creighton and Illifer approach, and Brienne says she's searching for her sister. Here's the whole section in space saving mode..

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 “We mean you no harm,” said Brienne. 
The merchant considered her doubtfully. “My lady, you should be safe at home. Why do you wear such unnatural garb?” 
“I am searching for my sister.” She dared not mention Sansa’s name, with her accused of regicide. “She is a highborn maid and beautiful, with blue eyes and auburn hair. Perhaps you saw her with a portly knight of forty years, or a drunken fool.” 
“The roads are full of drunken fools and despoiled maidens. As to portly knights, it is hard for any honest man to keep his belly round when so many lack for food... though your Ser Creighton has not hungered, it would seem.” 
“I have big bones,” Ser Creighton insisted. “Shall we ride together for a time? I do not doubt Ser Shadrich’s valor, but he seems small, and three blades are better than one.” 

Four blades, thought Brienne, but she held her tongue. 
The merchant looked to his escort. “What say you, ser?” 
“Oh, these three are nought to fear.” Ser Shadrich was a wiry, fox-faced man with a sharp nose and a shock of orange hair, mounted on a rangy chestnut courser. Though he could not have been more than five foot two, he had a cocksure manner. “The one is old, t’other fat, and the big one is a woman. Let them come.” 
“As you say.” The merchant lowered his crossbow. 
As they resumed their journey, the hired knight dropped back and looked her up and down as if she were a side of good salt pork. “You’re a strapping healthy wench, I’d say.” 
Ser Jaime’s mockery had cut her deep; the little man’s words hardly touched her. “A giant, compared to some.” 
He laughed. “I am big enough where it counts, wench.” 
“The merchant called you Shadrich.” 

“Ser Shadrich of the Shady Glen. Some call me the Mad Mouse.” He turned his shield to show her his sigil, a large white mouse with fierce red eyes, on bendy brown and blue. “The brown is for the lands I’ve roamed, the blue for the rivers that I’ve crossed. The mouse is me.” 
“And are you mad?” 
“Oh, quite. Your common mouse will run from blood and battle. The mad mouse seeks them out.
 
“It would seem he seldom finds them.” 
“I find enough. ’Tis true, I am no tourney knight. I save my valor for the battlefield, woman.” 
Woman was marginally better than wench, she supposed. “You and good Ser Creighton have much in common, then.” 
Ser Shadrich laughed. “Oh, I doubt that, but it may be that you and I share a quest. A little lost sister, is it? With blue eyes and auburn hair?” He laughed again. “You are not the only hunter in the woods. I seek for Sansa Stark as well.” 
Brienne kept her face a mask, to hide her dismay. “Who is this Sansa Stark, and why do you seek her?” 
For love, why else?” 

She furrowed her brow. “Love?” 
Aye, love of gold. Unlike your good Ser Creighton, I did fight upon the Blackwater, but on the losing side. My ransom ruined me. You know who Varys is, I trust? The eunuch has offered a plump bag of gold for this girl you’ve never heard of. I am not a greedy man. If some oversized wench would help me find this naughty child, I would split the Spider’s coin with her.” 
“I thought you were in this merchant’s hire.” 
“Only so far as Duskendale. Hibald is as niggardly as he is fearful. And he is very fearful. What say you, wench?” 
“I know no Sansa Stark,” she insisted. “I am searching for my sister, a highborn girl...” 
“... with blue eyes and auburn hair, aye. Pray, who is this knight who travels with your sister? Or did you name him fool?” Ser Shadrich did not wait for her answer, which was good, since she had none. “A certain fool vanished from King’s Landing the night King Joffrey died, a stout fellow with a nose full of broken veins, one Ser Dontos the Red, formerly of Duskendale. I pray your sister and her drunken fool are not mistaken for the Stark girl and Ser Dontos. That could be most unfortunate.” He put his heels into his courser and trotted on ahead. 
Even Jaime Lannister had seldom made Brienne feel such a fool. You are not the only hunter in the woods. The woman Brella had told her how Joffrey had stripped Ser Dontos of his spurs, how Lady Sansa begged Joffrey for his life. He helped her flee, Brienne had decided, when she heard the tale. Find Ser Dontos, and I will find Sansa. She should have known there would be others who would see it too. Some may even be less savory than Ser Shadrich.
 

Ser Shadrich of the Shady Glen. Some call me the Mad Mouse.” He turned his shield to show her his sigil, a large white mouse with fierce red eyes, on bendy brown and blue. “The brown is for the lands I’ve roamed, the blue for the rivers that I’ve crossed. The mouse is me.” 
“And are you mad?” 
“Oh, quite. Your common mouse will run from blood and battle. The mad mouse seeks them out.

Right off the mark, there's another Blackfyre rebellion allusion. The words "shady" and "glen" are only used twice in conjunction with each other in the whole canon.. Here, Shadrich (dedicated to the old gods) is of "the Shady Glen", sounding like a specific place.. while in The Sworn Sword ...  An hour upstream from the bridge, they found themselves riding on the edge of the small Osgrey forest called Wat's Wood. The greenery looked inviting from afar, and filled Dunk's head with thoughts of shady glens and chuckling brooks ... Inviting as it looks, the Osgrey forest is tinder dry - no chuckling brooks , no cool shady glens. It's ready to burst into a conflagration. This hints to the reader that BF pretensions have not been eradicated- they remain a danger - and probably that Shadrich is aware of it.

 “The brown is for the lands I’ve roamed, the blue for the rivers that I’ve crossed. The mouse is me.” ...

** Passing thought : If Shadrich is Howland , he must have crossed many rivers in his time (practically anytime he leaves home).. including to be where he is right now.

" ... Your common mouse will run from blood and battle. The mad mouse seeks them out.” 
 

So, he's seeking battle, but with whom? Here's a possible answer...  “This paste is spiced with basilisk blood. It will give cooked flesh a savory smell, but if eaten it produces violent madness, in beasts as well as men. A mouse will attack a lion after a taste of basilisk blood.”  ... AFfC, Cat of the Canals (the Waif to Arya)

Our mouse may be maddened enough to attack a Lion, not after a taste of basilisk blood, but after the spilling of a lot of blood, perhaps after being given a large taste of some other blood with magical properties (e.g., Stark blood). 

When he says he's seeking Sansa "for love", that rings more of truth, for me, than "love of gold". As Lady Whent's agent, the love would be familial. If Bloodraven is involved, it could be love of the realm (and perhaps more)... ** If he's Howland Reed, love of the Starks could be a motivator. 

If he was "ruined" by his ransom and in the hunt for "love of gold", why would he be so open with Brienne, a perfect stranger, and offer to share the reward ? ... No, their whole conversation is designed to warn Brienne - in general, and perhaps specifically of Ser Creighton and Ser Illifer. When Brienne suggests that he and Ser Creighton have much in common, he laughs and replies "Oh, I doubt that..". He may be referring to something much less obvious than Creighton's ridiculous claims of prowess. (They called out to Brienne to join them, she didn't ask.. they may have known to keep an eye out for her.)

After the conversation with Shadrich, Brienne feels foolish. She hadn't given thought to a reward, though it would be predictable .. She hadn't been giving thought to the possibility of competitors in her hunt. Ser Shadrich has just given her a wake-up call. (It's very reminiscent of the Liddle's conversation with Bran, Jojen and Meera. He doesn't try to impede them, but gives them important information about the Bolton searchers and the situation at the wall.)

Hibald points out that Ser Creighton seems remarkably well-fed "when so many lack for food". Have the two hedge knights been in KL (or some other relatively safe haven) during all the strife?

We get a composite of Shadrich's appearance between this chapter and the TWoW Alayne chapter. Here... Ser Shadrich was a wiry, fox-faced man with a sharp nose and a shock of orange hair, mounted on a rangy chestnut courser. Though he could not have been more than five foot two, he had a cocksure manner.  ... and from Alayne... 

Alayne turned abruptly from the yard… and bumped into a short, sharp-faced man with a brush of orange hair who had come up behind her.  His hand shot out and caught her arm before she could fall.   “My lady.  My pardons if I took you unawares.”

     “The fault was mine. I did not see you standing there.”

     “We mice are quiet creatures.” Ser Shadrich was so short that he might have been taken for a squire, but his face belonged to a much older man. She saw long leagues in the wrinkles at the corner of his mouth, old battles in the scar beneath his ear, and a hardness behind the eyes that no boy would ever have. This was a man grown. Even Randa overtopped him, though.

He's not a young man, has no doubt seen battle, and he's traveled. His small size is always noted and his "orange hair". No attempt is made to describe it any other way. It occurs to me that he may actually be grey, or turning grey. In our world, with natural dyes, red hair is very difficult to duplicate. Henna, e.g., turns the hair a quite unnatural shade of orange, but it hides grey very well.

** All of this would be quite compatible with H.R. 

He saves Sansa from falling, which may be foreshadowing, or just speak well of his intentions.


The chapter Immediately following Brienne I, AFfC, is Samwell I, which opens with Sam's encounter with a mouse in the book vaults at Castle Black.

Sam was reading about the Others when he saw the mouse.
His eyes were red
..(This refers to Sam's eyes, which he's been rubbing, but since we've just met Shadrich, it's easy to think it means the mouse's eyes at first.. perhaps we should pay attention) ..<snip>... The mouse was half as long as his pinky finger, with black eyes and soft grey fur. Sam knew he ought to kill it. Mice might prefer bread and cheese, but they ate paper too. He had found plenty of mouse droppings amongst the shelves and stacks, and some of the leather covers on the books showed signs of being gnawed
It is such a little thing, though. And hungry. How could he begrudge it a few crumbs? It’s eating books, though...
 

Books contain knowledge - in this case, knowledge of the Others and of history. So this mouse can be said to have been devouring knowledge. A person who devours knowledge knows a lot.

Shadrich obviously knows more than he lets on.

** Howland Reed really knows a lot ... Harrenhal, ToJ, returning Dawn , Ned's plans going forward... and considering the time he spent with the Green Men, no doubt much more of history, the CotF, perhaps the Others, etc., etc. .. His son is a greendreamer.. is he, as well?

On a fun side note for those familiar with @sweetsunray 's Avalanche-in-the-Vale theory, we'll return to Sam ...

He knew he was not quick enough to catch the mouse, but it might be he could squash it. By his elbow rested a massive leather-bound copy of Annals of the Black Centaur, ..<snip>... Very slowly, Sam took hold of the book with his left hand. It was thick and heavy, and when he tried to lift it one-handed, it slipped from his plump fingers and thumped back down. The mouse was gone in half a heartbeat, skittery-quick. Sam was relieved. Squishing the poor little thing would have given him nightmares. “You shouldn’t eat the books, though,” he said aloud. 

Phew! He escaped .. and remember ..Eat books, no.. devour knowledge, yes.

Just one more for good measure - In Arya's last chapter in AFfC, 'Cat of the Canals', we read..

Cossomo the Conjurer instructed her in sleight of hand. He could swallow mice and pull them from her ears. “It’s magic,” he’d say. “It’s not,” Cat said. “The mouse was up your sleeve the whole time. I could see it moving.”  

Cossomo can't work magic. He may be a street conjurer, but not a sorcerer. His mouse is trained to assist him in working his tricks (no doubt rewarded with food). Arya could see his mouse moving.

Bloodraven is called a sorcerer, and we know he can actually work magic (conjure), e.g. glamours, and so forth... Should we see Shadrich as the "Mouse" up BR's sleeve.. in his case, not merely conditioned to act, but knowingly and willingly assisting ?

A few chapters later, we come to Sansa's last AFfC chapter as 'Alayne', in which she meets Ser Shadrich, Ser Morgarth and Ser Byron.

That brings us full circle, and I'm now sure Morgarth and Byron are Shadrich's allies, as is Bloodraven ... while Ser Creighton and Ser Illifer are probable adversaries, not to mention Varys and his cause... and the Lannister cause (Tywin's and Cersei's certainly, though Jaime and Tyrion are becoming exceptions).

When you think about it, with the natural protection Greywater Watch enjoys, Howland Reed is better able than most lords to confidently leave his castle in uncertain times. I now lean much more heavily toward identifying Shadrich as Howland. I feel fairly confident, although we still haven't had a description of Howland as himself ... other than "the little crannogman"

Hey Bemused, I have the last post on the 2nd page and it is actually a response to the OP, I didn't originally quote you to save space but since the topic has turned into a back and forth I figured you might not see it.

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@Blue-Eyed Wolf

Another thing that struck me, with the journey with Meribald: we had that "fox", we have "Dog", Hyle Hunt rides a "chestnut courser" (like Sansa, like Shadrich, like Blackfish), there's of course a man of the Faith in Septon Meribald, and then there are Meribald's "oranges".

So, we have the "fox" in the "reeds", a "chestnut courser" and "orange".

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2 hours ago, sweetsunray said:

Another thing that struck me, with the journey with Meribald: we had that "fox", we have "Dog", Hyle Hunt rides a "chestnut courser" (like Sansa, like Shadrich, like Blackfish), there's of course a man of the Faith in Septon Meribald, and then there are Meribald's "oranges"

 I think you are right about the oranges = orange hair.  Meribald's oranges are given to the orphans (and Sansa is an orphan) to help them along with the other foods he has with them.  So there is a positive connotation here of the fruit being symbolic of helpfulness and self-sacrifice.  Shadrich's orange hair I am 99.9% certain is dyed.  Even true carrot tops don't have the "shocking" orange which is tell-tale of a dye job, especially over graying or white hair.  I think it's primarily sign of solidarity with Sansa, but you also have these helpful connotations from the fruit.  In real life, oranges have strong positive associations cross-culturally.    This is distinctly different from the symbolism that comes up when blood oranges are in the scene, which seems to symbolize a tainted, self-serving help.  Think of Sansa defending Joffrey against Arya and she tosses the blood orange and hits her in the forehead (a strike against her false memory and an urge to "wake up") then stains her white dress, a gift from Cersei.  Then after LF "rescues" Sansa by taking her to the Fingers, he gustily drinks the juice from a blood orange and she tastes a little of the juice from a spoon.  His "help" will keep her alive and somewhat safe for the time being, but it will also bind her to him by tying her safety to his machinations and extorting her compliance.  

Some thing interesting when another chestnut turns up and they turn up a lot so it has to be a specific chestnut something.  Females with chestnut hair have a really bad time with husbands where the marriage has been consummated:  Jeyne Westerling, Myranda Royce, and Roslin Frey.  In all those cases, the bride was directly related to the downfall of the groom.  Chestnut hair is usually defined as a medium to light brown with warm undertones.  In Alayne I, AFFC, Petyr calls her hair "chestnut."  That doesn't bode well for HtH (as if we didn't think he was toast as it is), but I don't actually believe this wedding will take place to begin with and I think it's actually more of a sign of Petyr's perceptions of how events will go down.  In that same chapter, Sansa calls her freshly dyed hair "burnt brown" (which seems much darker and duller than chestnut) and this is right before she chooses a dress in Tully colors.  Petyr will tell her this first dress won't do with the Lord's Declarant and refers to her hair as chestnut.  Sansa then chooses the brown wool dress with the "autumn gold" and calls her hair "dark brown."  Autumn gold or yellow is only used twice: to describe this ribbon and the yellow of the autumn grass on the Clegane sigil.  Her perception of her own hair color twice I think is a subtle sign of the re-emergence of trust in her own instincts and perceptions, which has been one of the main inner conflicts in her arc.  It's interesting she's wearing those colors when Petyr lays out his plans for betrothal to HtH.  This is just baby steps as she still doubts herself and defers back to Petyr's point of view on bigger things.  So I think Petyr's perception that her hair is "chestnut" is a mark of his own self-deception at not seeing her truly,  his own confidence in his flawed perceptions, and a hint at what outcome he is expecting for Harry.

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