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Bael's Bastard

What led Brandon to believe Rhaegar would be at the Red Keep?

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One of the mysteries of the period between the Harrenhal Tourney in late 281 AC and the execution of Lord Rickard and Brandon Stark in 282 AC, is Brandon's decision to look for Rhaegar at the Red Keep after he heard about Lyanna's abduction, when we know that Rhaegar wasn't there, and that Rhaegar actually lived on Dragonstone, not at the Red Keep.

There are a number of convoluted theories about how Brandon heard about Rhaegar's abduction of Lyanna, what Brandon was told about Rhaegar's abduction of Lyanna, and how some mastermind (usually a fifteen year old Petyr Baelish) intentionally manipulated Brandon into rushing to the Red Keep to die.

But I think there is a simple and plausible explanation for why Brandon rode to the Red Keep believing Rhaegar was to be found there: Rhaegar himself intentionally misled witnesses to his abduction of Lyanna to believe that he was going to be taking her to the Red Keep.

And I think we are provided with a basis for that explanation in the very first book of A Song of Ice and Fire, in A Game of Thrones, when Catelyn intentionally misleads witnesses to her abduction of Tyrion to believe that she was going to be taking him to Winterfell, when her real intention was to bring him to her sister at the Eyrie in the Vale.

"In the name of King Robert and the good lords you serve, I call upon you to seize him and help me return him to Winterfell to await the king's justice."

- AGOT: Catelyn V

We are taking him back to Winterfell," she said, and Tyrion thought, Well, perhaps … By then he'd had a moment to glance over the room and get a better idea of the situation. He was not altogether displeased by what he saw. Oh, the Stark woman had been clever, no doubt of it. Force them to make a public affirmation of the oaths sworn her father by the lords they served, and then call on them for succor, and her a woman, yes, that was sweet. Yet her success was not as complete as she might have liked. There were close to fifty in the common room by his rough count. Catelyn Stark's plea had roused a bare dozen; the others looked confused, or frightened, or sullen. Only two of the Freys had stirred, Tyrion noted, and they'd sat back down quick enough when their captain failed to move. He might have smiled if he'd dared.

"Winterfell it is, then," he said instead. That was a long ride, as he could well attest, having just ridden it the other way. So many things could happen along the way. "My father will wonder what has become of me," he added, catching the eye of the swordsman who'd offered to yield up his room. "He'll pay a handsome reward to any man who brings him word of what happened here today." Lord Tywin would do no such thing, of course, but Tyrion would make up for it if he won free.

Ser Rodrik glanced at his lady, his look worried, as well it might be. "His men come with him," the old knight announced. "And we'll thank the rest of you to stay quiet about what you've seen here."

It was all Tyrion could do not to laugh. Quiet? The old fool. Unless he took the whole inn, the word would begin to spread the instant they were gone. The freerider with the gold coin in his pocket would fly to Casterly Rock like an arrow. If not him, then someone else. Yoren would carry the story south. That fool singer might make a lay of it. The Freys would report back to their lord, and the gods only knew what he might do. Lord Walder Frey might be sworn to Riverrun, but he was a cautious man who had lived a long time by making certain he was always on the winning side. At the very least he would send his birds winging south to King's Landing, and he might well dare more than that.

Catelyn Stark wasted no time. "We must ride at once. We'll want fresh mounts, and provisions for the road. You men, know that you have the eternal gratitude of House Stark. If any of you choose to help us guard our captives and get them safe to Winterfell, I promise you shall be well rewarded." That was all it took; the fools came rushing forward. Tyrion studied their faces; they would indeed be well rewarded, he vowed to himself, but perhaps not quite as they imagined.

They set out through the rain at a hard gallop, and before long Tyrion's thighs were cramped and aching and his butt throbbed with pain. Even when they were safely away from the inn, and Catelyn Stark slowed them to a trot, it was a miserable pounding journey over rough ground, made worse by his blindness. Every twist and turn put him in danger of falling off his horse. The hood muffled sound, so he could not make out what was being said around him, and the rain soaked through the cloth and made it cling to his face, until even breathing was a struggle. The rope chafed his wrists raw and seemed to grow tighter as the night wore on. I was about to settle down to a warm fire and a roast fowl, and that wretched singer had to open his mouth, he thought mournfully. The wretched singer had come along with them. "There is a great song to be made from this, and I'm the one to make it," he told Catelyn Stark when he announced his intention of riding with them to see how the "splendid adventure" turned out. Tyrion wondered whether the boy would think the adventure quite so splendid once the Lannister riders caught up with them.

The rain had finally stopped and dawn light was seeping through the wet cloth over his eyes when Catelyn Stark gave the command to dismount. Rough hands pulled him down from his horse, untied his wrists, and yanked the hood off his head. When he saw the narrow stony road, the foothills rising high and wild all around them, and the jagged snowcapped peaks on the distant horizon, all the hope went out of him in a rush. "This is the high road," he gasped, looking at Lady Stark with accusation. "The eastern road. You said we were riding for Winterfell!"

Catelyn Stark favored him with the faintest of smiles. "Often and loudly," she agreed. "No doubt your friends will ride that way when they come after us. I wish them good speed."

Even now, long days later, the memory filled him with a bitter rage. All his life Tyrion had prided himself on his cunning, the only gift the gods had seen fit to give him, and yet this seven-times-damned she-wolf Catelyn Stark had outwitted him at every turn. The knowledge was more galling than the bare fact of his abduction.

- AGOT: Tyrion IV

As a result, witnesses spread the tale that Catelyn was bringing Tyrion to Winterfell when she was actually bringing him to the Eyrie in the Vale. In Rhaegar's case, witnesses would have spread the tale that he was bringing Lyanna to King's Landing when he was actually bringing her elsewhere.

Of course, in Catelyn's case, we know exactly why she abducted Tyrion, while we can only speculate why Rhaegar abducted Lyanna. Was it to fulfill prophecy through her? Was it out of love or desire for her? Was it to save her from her marriage to Robert? Was it to make her a captive on behalf of his father Aerys?

Personally, I think Rhaegar abducted Lyanna to protect her against Aerys.

I think:

  • Lyanna was the Knight of the Laughing Tree
     
  • Aerys was furious about the KOTLT, believing him to be Jaime, and sent Rhaegar to seek him
     
  • Rhaegar discovered that Lyanna was the KOTLT
     
  • The KOTLT vanished without Aerys learning his identity
     
  • Aerys was certain that someone close to him had warned the "traitor" known as the KOTLT
     
  • Aerys and his closest small councilors (Chelsted and Staunton) believed Rhaegar entered the tourney as part of his plot to depose Aerys and become king
     
  • Rhaegar crowned Lyanna the Queen of Love and Beauty because he discovered she was the KOTLT
     
  • Aerys and his closest small councilors (Chelsted and Staunton) took the crowning to mean that Rhaegar was looking to bring the Starks into his plot to depose Aerys and become king
     
  • Aerys and his small councilors eventually learned that Lyanna was in fact the KOTLT, and connected both the KOTLT and QOLAB scenes as part of the same plot
     
  • Aerys commanded that Lyanna be arrested and brought to King's Landing


Therefore, I think that Rhaegar was either commanded to bring Lyanna to Aerys himself (as Jaime would later be commanded to bring Tywin's head to Aerys), or learned of Aerys's intentions to have her arrested, and set out to get to her before those who Aerys commanded to bring her to him did.

Admittedly, I do not have all the details worked out, and though I think this is a potential explanation for why Rhaegar abducted Lyanna, I think it is more speculative than the idea that Rhaegar was responsible for the disinformation that he was bringing Lyanna to the Red Keep.

Edited by Bael's Bastard

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Well, getting Lyanna's relatives caught and killed (yes, he knew his dad was mad and paranoid about people defying him and liked murdering people right and left) by Aerys is such a noble and effective way to protect Lyanna from Aerys. Especially after so publicly outing her himself. Golden star to the knight in shining ruby armour.

Otherwise it's a very sound and believable theory. Chances are she was taken in the very same inn as Tyrion.

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I think you're making something more complicated than it is. When a person decides to storm into the Red Keep and yells out for the crown prince to "come out and die" thinking things through is clearly not their strong suit. Brandon likely just went there because that's where the crown prince is expected to be.

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8 minutes ago, Lord Lannister said:

I think you're making something more complicated than it is. When a person decides to storm into the Red Keep and yells out for the crown prince to "come out and die" thinking things through is clearly not their strong suit. Brandon likely just went there because that's where the crown prince is expected to be.

Not when the crown prince and his wife are known to have lived on Dragonstone for two years. "Brandon is stupid" simply doesn't cut it as a possible explanation for why he sought Rhaegar in KL, and was so convinced he was there that he shouted for him to come out and die.

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3 hours ago, Bael's Bastard said:

- Lyanna was the Knight of the Laughing Tree

Agree.

Quote

- Aerys was furious about the KOTLT, believing him to be Jaime, and sent Rhaegar to seek him

The following day. I think that's the most important part that's omitted from this. The KotLT did his/her thing on the same day, met with the three knights s/he beat, then was gone. Aerys was already unhappy with the whole situation.

The following day, the mystery knight was a no show, Aerys sent Rhaegar to find him, which I don't know how he was supposed to accomplish that a day later.

Quote

- Rhaegar discovered that Lyanna was the KOTLT

I don't think he discovered anything. What he suspected it was her? 

There is another incident that happened, and that's Lyanna saving Howland Reed from the three squires. It's possible that he witnessed it. The attack on Howland was done in the open, so anyone else could have happened upon that. 

If Rhaegar did see the incident, then it's possible for him to have put two and two together. Between the shield and the small stature, the knights who were challenged. Maybe he figured out it was her and followed her after that. 

3 hours ago, Bael's Bastard said:

Therefore, I think that Rhaegar was either commanded to bring Lyanna to Aerys himself (as Jaime would later be commanded to bring Tywin's head to Aerys), or learned of Aerys's intentions to have her arrested, and set out to get to her before those who Aerys commanded to bring her to him did.

I don't know that Aerys would trust Rhaegar to arrest Lyanna after Staunton and Chelsted filled his head with the talk of the crowning being a political ploy.

But did you ever wonder whether Rhaegar and Brandon may have been working together to get Rickard to Rhaegar's side? 

As a complete non-believer in southern ambition, I have been wondering about this. 

We have the ransoming of the armor and mounts at Harrenhal as seems to be practice in tourneys. Rhaegar tossed Brandon from his horse, so we have an opportunity for a meeting right here. We know that Brandon was pissed with Lyanna being crowned QoLaB, but he didn't need to be angry for all that long or to believe there was anything going on if Lyanna took the time to explain to him what she had done. 

I have been wondering if Rhaegar being in the riverlands wasn't about him meeting with Brandon and possibly meeting with Rickard as he came down from the north. It makes no sense to me that Rickard knowing his son's temperament would allow him to go riding into King's Landing. 

But things got derailed with whatever happened with Lyanna. And then Brandon goes on his mad ride to KL and says those words and gets himself arrested. Maybe he thought he had been used.

The other option is that Brandon absolutely knew what happened with Lyanna and that she was safe with Rhaegar, but decided to rush the Red Keep anyway to force his father's hand into supporting Rhaegar because he would not do so.

Going by how everyone sat on their asses and seems to have said nothing after all those people were executed, it seems to me that Jon Arryn and Hoster Tully were fine carrying on with a king who was not in his right mind. And maybe Rickard was too.

Maybe everyone's executions had more to do with Aerys believing that they were conspiring with Rhaegar to have him removed from power, than them actually posing an actual threat to Rhaegar.

There's a quote from Ned all the way back in AGoT that seems throw away, but placed in this context, maybe it's not and Ned knew a lot more about what Brandon had been up to.

That brought a bitter twist to Ned's mouth. "Brandon. Yes. Brandon would know what to do. He always did. It was all meant for Brandon. You, Winterfell, everything. He was born to be a King's Hand and a father to queens. I never asked for this cup to pass to me." (Catelyn II, AGOT 6)

This could easily have a double meaning.

I know what the reply to this is going to be that I'm wrong, which granted, super possible.

Edited by Alexis-something-Rose

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17 minutes ago, Bael's Bastard said:

come out and die.

 

Can we be sure that Brandon shouted for him to come out and die? 

Perhaps he just accused and said that Rhaegar needs to be punished for his crime in front of Aerys.

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3 hours ago, Bael's Bastard said:

Even now, long days later, the memory filled him with a bitter rage. All his life Tyrion had prided himself on his cunning, the only gift the gods had seen fit to give him, and yet this seven-times-damned she-wolf Catelyn Stark had outwitted him at every turn. The knowledge was more galling than the bare fact of his abduction. (AGOT: Tyrion IV)

I think you're right, that the author wants us to compare the two abductions. One of the hints is in that she-wolf reference. I haven't been a big proponent of the inversion theories, where an event takes place and then a near-opposite event takes place, but I have seen some persuasive examples presented in this forum. The abduction of a she-wolf followed by this abduction by a she-wolf may be a prime example.

I also think that the Defiance of Duskendale, where Aerys was held by the Darklyn family, is supposed to be compared to Catelyn's abduction of Tyrion. Never thought to compare it to the alleged abduction of Lyanna.

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I think the simplest explanation of Brandon being mad at Rhaegar at Harrenhall and then again in King's Landing is that he never came around with any sort of secrets confided to him. And that King's Landing is the seat of the Westerosi government. In a feudal society the head of a household answers for the misdeeds of those under them, so the King needs to address Brandon's complaints about Rhaegar (though Brandon certainly didn't go about it in a way likely to make the king amenable). If he'd gone directly to Dragonstone he might have been refused any justice and then had to go back to King's Landing to complain. Or perhaps his companions would simply be killed and Rhaegar could pretend their boat sank on the way over.

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5 hours ago, Bael's Bastard said:

Rhaegar himself intentionally misled witnesses to his abduction of Lyanna to believe that he was going to be taking her to the Red Keep.

Or, the prince, while away from his seat on dragonstone, would go where after "kidnapping" the daughter of the lord paramount? He would go to the capital, specifically the seat of his family's power, which would be the red keep. Brandon wanted to find the prince, and he knew the prince was on the continent. It would be basic deduction. No tinfoil hat needed. 

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3 hours ago, Kandrax said:

Can we be sure that Brandon shouted for him to come out and die? 

Perhaps he just accused and said that Rhaegar needs to be punished for his crime in front of Aerys.

I believe it was Jaime who first said that Brandon used the words come out and die when he was talking to Catelyn as Robb's prisoner. My question is what was the context? Did Brandon say anything else, like, "release my sister or come out and die." Or, "you dishonored my House and sister, I challenge to you a duel Ser, come out and die." If he just started chanting Rhaegar come out and die the moment he got into the Red Keep then he might have been a bit touched. I mean he had what days? Before he got to KL after getting the news his sister was missing.

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15 hours ago, Bael's Bastard said:

One of the mysteries of the period between the Harrenhal Tourney in late 281 AC and the execution of Lord Rickard and Brandon Stark in 282 AC, is Brandon's decision to look for Rhaegar at the Red Keep after he heard about Lyanna's abduction, when we know that Rhaegar wasn't there, and that Rhaegar actually lived on Dragonstone, not at the Red Keep.

There are a number of convoluted theories about how Brandon heard about Rhaegar's abduction of Lyanna, what Brandon was told about Rhaegar's abduction of Lyanna, and how some mastermind (usually a fifteen year old Petyr Baelish) intentionally manipulated Brandon into rushing to the Red Keep to die.

But I think there is a simple and plausible explanation for why Brandon rode to the Red Keep believing Rhaegar was to be found there: Rhaegar himself intentionally misled witnesses to his abduction of Lyanna to believe that he was going to be taking her to the Red Keep.

And I think we are provided with a basis for that explanation in the very first book of A Song of Ice and Fire, in A Game of Thrones, when Catelyn intentionally misleads witnesses to her abduction of Tyrion to believe that she was going to be taking him to Winterfell, when her real intention was to bring him to her sister at the Eyrie in the Vale.

As a result, witnesses spread the tale that Catelyn was bringing Tyrion to Winterfell when she was actually bringing him to the Eyrie in the Vale. In Rhaegar's case, witnesses would have spread the tale that he was bringing Lyanna to King's Landing when he was actually bringing her elsewhere.

Of course, in Catelyn's case, we know exactly why she abducted Tyrion, while we can only speculate why Rhaegar abducted Lyanna. Was it to fulfill prophecy through her? Was it out of love or desire for her? Was it to save her from her marriage to Robert? Was it to make her a captive on behalf of his father Aerys?

Personally, I think Rhaegar abducted Lyanna to protect her against Aerys.

I think:

- Lyanna was the Knight of the Laughing Tree
- Aerys was furious about the KOTLT, believing him to be Jaime, and sent Rhaegar to seek him
- Rhaegar discovered that Lyanna was the KOTLT
- The KOTLT vanished without Aerys learning his identity
- Aerys was certain that someone close to him had warned the "traitor" known as the KOTLT
- Aerys and his closest small councilors (Chelsted and Staunton) believed Rhaegar entered the tourney as part of his plot to depose Aerys and become king
- Rhaegar crowned Lyanna the Queen of Love and Beauty because he discovered she was the KOTLT
- Aerys and his closest small councilors (Chelsted and Staunton) took the crowning to mean that Rhaegar was looking to bring the Starks into his plot to depose Aerys and become king
- Aerys and his small councilors eventually learned that Lyanna was in fact the KOTLT, and connected both the KOTLT and QOLAB scenes as part of the same plot
- Aerys commanded that Lyanna be arrested and brought to King's Landing

Therefore, I think that Rhaegar was either commanded to bring Lyanna to Aerys himself (as Jaime would later be commanded to bring Tywin's head to Aerys), or learned of Aerys's intentions to have her arrested, and set out to get to her before those who Aerys commanded to bring her to him did.

Admittedly, I do not have all the details worked out, and though I think this is a potential explanation for why Rhaegar abducted Lyanna, I think it is more speculative than the idea that Rhaegar was responsible for the disinformation that he was bringing Lyanna to the Red Keep.

I like the comparison so maybe,  but I think Dorian Martell is also right when he says if Brandon believed Lyanna was taken near Harrenhal, he would head to KL as an obvious place on the continent to take her hostage.  I have a very different interpretation of the Crown given to Lyanna, that it was a threat aimed at Brandon and Brandon knew it as such, so nobody would have to miscommunicate a message, maliciously or accidentally.  Someone could just say to Brandon"I saw Lyanna riding with Rhaegar and a lot of his men, not ten leagues from Harrenhal in the direction of KL." How would Brandon know they were riding to Dorne instead?  Basically, I've given up thinking that one through cause it could be a non-event and there's a lot of possible reasons. But good catch on the comparison.

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Most likely, Lyanna was traveling with several companions - handmaids, guards, friends. So when she was kidnapped, there were witnesses left, because Rhaegar and his people didn't killed anyone. Because if they did killed someone, then by now, five books into the series, someone (character) would have already mentioned it, that during Lyanna's kidnapping this and that person was killed by Rhaegar and his people. Thus, most likely, no one was killed, and thus there were people, that saw in which direction Rhaegar went after kidnapping Lyanna - south by Kingsroad.

Maybe Rhaegar had his own personal ship, something recognizable, that people all over 7K knew about. So upon his arrival to King's Landing, Brandon saw, that Rhaegar's ship is in KL's harbour, thus Rhaegar still didn't departed to Dragonstone. Thus he assumed, that Rhaegar is in Red Keep. Though, even though the ship was at KL, it doesn't mean, that Rhaegar was also there. Though, at some point, prior Lyanna's kidnapping, Rhaegar did sailed on his ship from Dragonstone to King's Landing, and then left his ship in KL's harbour. So it was still there, when Brandon arrived to KL, looking for Lyanna.

Also we don't know which route Rhaegar took, after kidnapping Lyanna. Maybe they went via land, or maybe they sailed. The kidnapping happened near Harrenhall. The God's Eye is also near Harrenhall. So from that lake they took a boat, or Rhaegar's ship, and went south by Blackwater Rush to King's Landing, and then left the ship there, and continued going south, to Dorne, via land route. Or maybe they boarded Rhaegar's ship at God's Eye, and witnesses saw the ship sailing to King's Landing, but somewhere along the way, Rhaegar and Lyanna got off the ship, and went via land in different direction. So Brandon, following the ship, arrived to KL, but Lyanna wasn't on it. So he thought, that Rhaegar took her into Red Keep, and went there after them.

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It was the logical place to look. All roads lead to King's Landing . We do not know if Rhaegar  was or was not at the Red Keep . There are many tunnels under it . And we are  to take the word of Aerys who is  described as being insane .

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What if Brandon use "Rhaegar kidnapped Lyanna" as an excuse to bail out of his marriage to Catelyn temporarily so he and his buddies can have a bachelor party in Capital City? As any bachelor party, things get a little too wild and drunk, he bursts into City Hall and says the wrong things by threatening the Mayor's son. He and his buddies goes to jail, and daddy had to bail him out...unfortunately, we know what happens next.

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On 10/26/2018 at 12:04 PM, Bael's Bastard said:

One of the mysteries of the period between the Harrenhal Tourney in late 281 AC and the execution of Lord Rickard and Brandon Stark in 282 AC, is Brandon's decision to look for Rhaegar at the Red Keep after he heard about Lyanna's abduction, when we know that Rhaegar wasn't there, and that Rhaegar actually lived on Dragonstone, not at the Red Keep.

There are a number of convoluted theories about how Brandon heard about Rhaegar's abduction of Lyanna, what Brandon was told about Rhaegar's abduction of Lyanna, and how some mastermind (usually a fifteen year old Petyr Baelish) intentionally manipulated Brandon into rushing to the Red Keep to die.

But I think there is a simple and plausible explanation for why Brandon rode to the Red Keep believing Rhaegar was to be found there: Rhaegar himself intentionally misled witnesses to his abduction of Lyanna to believe that he was going to be taking her to the Red Keep.

I think your theory up to this point is entirely plausible. I don't think it is necessary, but it is plausible. Dragonstone is a lot farther away from the area where the "kidnapping" is said to have taken place than King's Landing. As such, just from a logistical motive it would make sense for Rhaegar to make for King's Landing even if he intended to head ultimately for Dragonstone. But I like the idea he laid a false trail much as Catelyn did so many years later. A sort of echo of the past appearing in the current story. Very much in Martin's style.

On 10/26/2018 at 12:04 PM, Bael's Bastard said:

Of course, in Catelyn's case, we know exactly why she abducted Tyrion, while we can only speculate why Rhaegar abducted Lyanna. Was it to fulfill prophecy through her? Was it out of love or desire for her? Was it to save her from her marriage to Robert? Was it to make her a captive on behalf of his father Aerys?

Personally, I think Rhaegar abducted Lyanna to protect her against Aerys.

Here is where I think you go wrong. First, let me say this theory is the same as the one currently posed by @yolkboy and @Lady Gwynhyfvar over at Radio Westeros in their current episode 41 called "At the Crossroads." Others have also raised this idea before. My reasons for disagreement is that I think it misses some important clues, some of which I think I've raised with you before. If I'm duplicating any past discussions, then please forgive me, but I'll just add them here for the general discussion you've started.

First, and most importantly, I think it overlooks the reason for Rhaegar's action as told to us by Dany.

Quote

Dany wondered where Daario Naharis was, what he was doing. If this were a story, he would gallop up just as we reached the temple, to challenge Hizdahr for my hand.

Side by side the queen's procession and Hizdahr zo Loraq's made their slow way across Meereen, until finally the Temple of the Graces loomed up before them, its golden domes flashing in the sun. How beautiful, the queen tried to tell herself, but inside her was some foolish little girl who could not help but look about for Daario. If he loved you, he would come and carry you off at swordpoint, as Rhaegar carried of his northern girl, the girl in her insisted, but the queen knew that it was folly. (ADwD 577) bold emphasis added

Here Dany is clearly thinking of the need to be rescued from an unwanted wedding and thinks of Rhaegar's action of so long ago in this context. It is a very strong hint that the Targaryen view of the "kidnapping" of Lyanna was done in the context of another unwanted wedding - this one the wedding of Lyanna to Robert. Nothing about disobeying an order from Aerys.

Secondly, we have the recounting of the events of the Harrenhal tourney from both Meera Reed' tale and from Maester Yandel that point in another direction. According to Yandel's account Aerys clearly thought the Knight of the Laughing Tree was Jaime who had snuck back to the tourney in direct opposition to the king's order. What then changed Aerys's mind to decide a fourteen to fifteen year old girl was really the mystery knight? We have nothing that so much as hints that Rhaegar or anyone else told him it was Lyanna. Nor a hint why Aerys would consider her and enemy for doing so.

We do have Aerys's action of destroying the marriage pact between Jaime and Lysa that was in progress, and we do have his enmity towards the mystery knight. Both could be just his hatred of Tywin and his mistrust of Jaime, but there also seems to be an added distrust of the northern ties to this action as exhibited by the armor "Jaime" wore. Certainly, the "lickspittle" lords of the small council don't hesitate to point out the northern participation in Rhaegar's crowning of Lyanna as part of a plot aimed at Aerys.

What seems clear to me is that Aerys understood Rhaegar's action of crowning Lyanna. He should because it emulates his own "honoring" of Jaime at the start of the tourney. It honors Lyanna, but does so in a way that states the Crown Prince's interest in stopping the marriage between Robert and Lyanna. It states Rhaegar's support for the continuation of Targaryen rule in opposition to Lord Rickard's "southron ambitions."

But let's go through your points. 

On 10/26/2018 at 12:04 PM, Bael's Bastard said:

I think:

- Lyanna was the Knight of the Laughing Tree

I agree
- Aerys was furious about the KOTLT, believing him to be Jaime, and sent Rhaegar to seek him

I agree
- Rhaegar discovered that Lyanna was the KOTLT

I agree
- The KOTLT vanished without Aerys learning his identity

I agree
- Aerys was certain that someone close to him had warned the "traitor" known as the KOTLT

I agree
- Aerys and his closest small councilors (Chelsted and Staunton) believed Rhaegar entered the tourney as part of his plot to depose Aerys and become king

I agree
- Rhaegar crowned Lyanna the Queen of Love and Beauty because he discovered she was the KOTLT

Too simple. Yes, I agree this is part of the reason, but not the whole of it. Rhaegar is a skilled player of the game of thrones and he knows how his crowning of Lyanna will be seen. I think politically he is sending a message to the Starks, and Brandon in particular, that the rejection of his offer of a council and his dishonoring of Ashara shows he knows the "ambitions" Lord Rickard has does not include Rhaegar on the Iron Throne continuing a Targaryen dynasty without his father's madness.

Rhaegar quite likely is also attracted to Lyanna and her bravery, not only as the Knight of the Laughing Tree but in her scattering of the pages beating on Howland. This is a different type of young woman than Rhaegar is used to, so the message may well have been more than one thing.

- Aerys and his closest small councilors (Chelsted and Staunton) took the crowning to mean that Rhaegar was looking to bring the Starks into his plot to depose Aerys and become king

Very important, because it shows not only a understanding on the small council's part of Rhaegar's plans, but also that Lord Rickard and his allies are not to be trusted in their own plots.


- Aerys and his small councilors eventually learned that Lyanna was in fact the KOTLT, and connected both the KOTLT and QOLAB scenes as part of the same plot

How? Why would Rhaegar tell him? He obviously didn't tell his father during the time at the tourney or, if your claim was true, Lyanna would have been taken then. Rhaegar leaves for Dragonstone shortly thereafter and then onto the Riverlands in the quest for something we don't know of yet. I think it is to find Jenny's wood's witch/the ghost of high heart and to hear her understanding of the the prophecy now that he knows he cannot have another child with Elia.

If not Rhaegar, then who tells Aerys and the small council? Not her brothers. Nor Robert, though I doubt he knew. My guess this secret is kept between Lyanna, Howland, Benjen (aka the procurer of the armor), and if Rhaegar finds her out, then Rhaegar as well. None of them would tell anyone this secret, least of all Aerys.


- Aerys commanded that Lyanna be arrested and brought to King's Landing

Absolutely no evidence for this. I agree with others that the swordpoints that are involved in the rescue are those of Rhaegar, Ser Arthur, Ser Oswell versus the escorting Stark guards (I want to know where Martyn Cassell was at the time?)

Therefore, I think that Rhaegar was either commanded to bring Lyanna to Aerys himself (as Jaime would later be commanded to bring Tywin's head to Aerys), or learned of Aerys's intentions to have her arrested, and set out to get to her before those who Aerys commanded to bring her to him did.

Admittedly, I do not have all the details worked out, and though I think this is a potential explanation for why Rhaegar abducted Lyanna, I think it is more speculative than the idea that Rhaegar was responsible for the disinformation that he was bringing Lyanna to the Red Keep.

It is all possible, in an area with little to guide us, but I think, for the reasons I've stated this is probably the wrong track. We do need more details.

As always a interesting read, even if I disagree.

 

Edited by SFDanny

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A very plausible explanation, OP. Doesn't explain, though, why Brandon thought that Rhaegar was still in KL with his father who he didn't get on with, when all he had to do was take a ship to DS. Would it really be so difficult to check if the Crown Prince was in KL, and why wouldn't Brandon believe when told that Rhaegar wasn't there?

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Rhaegar could have boarded a ship from Duskendale or Maidenpool.

While what you are saying is not implausible it is not really necessary either. They would have looked for Rhaegar the traditional way. They asked. Presumably Rhaegar had a party along with him and they would have been seen on the road, spend the night at holdfast etc. Brandon could have easily found out they were heading south and thus came to the conclusion that they were heading to King's Landing.

Or alternatively, Rhaegar did not travel on the roads and stayed at inns and noone had seen or heard from them. Brandon could still have checked at Duskendale or Maidenpool to ascertain they had boarded a ship. 

Regardless, going straight to Dragonstone would not guarantee Brandon that his challenge would be accepted or that he would be heard off from again. The place he had to go to make public his grievance and challenge was King's Landing and the one person who could compel Rhaegar was Aerys. 

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From the limited sources we have, Brandon is portrayed as taking for granted that Rhaegar was in the Red Keep. It doesn't make sense to me that he went to KL because he just assumed Rhaegar would be there, or because he assumed Rhaegar was most likely to be there, or because he assumed it was a possibility Rhaegar might be there, or because he thought it was the best place to force the issue with Rhaegar's superior. I don't think any of these suggestions are plausible explanations that are in line with the little we are told. Brandon had to have had a reason to believe Rhaegar was there, despite Rhaegar living away from court, and having a troubled relationship with his father the king. I admit my theory for why Brandon assumed Rhaegar was there is speculative, and my theory for why Rhaegar abducted Lyanna even more so. But I think they are plausible explanations based on the information and statements we have. Rhaegar clearly wasn't there. But I think anyone who witnessed or quickly heard of Rhaegar's abduction of Lyanna, whether Stark, or royalist, would have heard the story Rhaegar was heading to KL, because that is where Rhaegar claimed to be bringing Lyanna, though he actually had no such intention.

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Let me say I think there is a very simple explanation to why Brandon goes to King's Landing. He wants to challenge Rhaegar to a duel. Brandon loves to "bloody his sword." He sees his skill with the blade as a way of settling political grievances. He is backed in his belief by historic challenges to duels including Targaryen princes and kings that have been accepted and changed the history of Westeros. Ser Damon's accepting Visenya's challenge, Ser Duncan's challenge to Aerion, and the Laughing Storm's challenge and duel with Ser Duncan are all examples of this. Brandon truly thinks his challenge will be accepted and he can eliminate the royal interference in his House's rights to arrange its own marriage alliances. Killing Rhaegar in the process would also be a huge step forward in the Stark ambitions. Of course, Aerys II Targaryen is not quite like his predecessors.

In short, Brandon actions show a political intent, not just a personal one. That's because he sees Rhaegar's as the same. He might be right about that. This is not about revenge for his sister. This is about revenge for Targaryen overreach. It is logical that he sees Rhaegar's likely direction toward the seat of Targaryen power because that is where he would take Lyanna if he were in Rhaegar's place. As what he believes is a unified Targaryen reaction to her coming marriage.

 

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