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Idunnohowtochangenames

Forging Lightbringer in the Sworn Sword (v 2.0)

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Hi all,

I posted an earlier version of this on reddit a few weeks ago.  I’ve since expanded my ideas and so it’s time for version 2.0. First post, so go on easy on me :) 

I believe that The Sworn Sword, the 2nd story in Tales of Dunk & Egg, closely follows the Last Hero/Azor Ahai/Lightbringer myths. Unlike a lot of the crack pot ideas that I write on scraps or napkins and hide in shame, it seems to me that the pieces of the Lightbringer myth fit the Sworn Sword plot easily, and with little massaging of the facts.  I don’t know why GRRM used this story for this purpose.  Perhaps, he wrote the Sworn Sword close in time to fleshing out relevant asoif history and this was simply a convenient medium. 

Below, I lay out the symbolism to justify my thesis. A cursory google search for Dunk/Lightbring/Azor Ahai/Sworn Sword yielded no hits. As far as I know, no one has floated this idea before (famous last words).  This post was in part inspired by two podcasts, Davos Fingers and Radio Westeros, both of which summarized the Sworn Sword at about the same time.  It’s also inspired by the theorists in the fandom who deal with repetitive symbolism.  My secret fear is that I’m regurgitating something from LML that I listened to, then forgot, then re-invented.

Anyway, here we goooooooooooooo:

The first clue is the double meaning of the Sworn Sword.  The obvious meaning: this is a story about that time Dunk swears to help Eustace Osgrey.  Dunk is a pretend knight, but any of fighting age in awoif can be counted as a “sword” for fighting purposes.  Time and time again, characters in asoif discuss army size by the number of “swords” (and horse and bowman, but also by swords).   If we accept this, then we can change the title to the sworn “sword-wielding fighter”.  But, sworn, which is past tense, also means "bound by a promise".  Thus, the less obvious meaning of the title: the sword-wielding fighter that was promised.  It only gets better, or worse, depending on how you much like a mouth full of tinfoil.

Quick recap: The Lightbringer myth is such that Azor Ahai creates Lightbringer, the magical Valyrian?/Steel? sword needed to fight the Others and save humanity. He has two failed attempts. In the first attempt, he tempers his sword in water and it breaks. In the second attempt, he tempers his sword in the heart of a lion and it breaks. In the third attempt, he plunges his sword in the heart of Nissa Nissa, his beloved, and the blood sacrifice imbues the sword with fire/her soul/strength/midichlorians. It doesn’t break.  These three ingredients for forging Lightbringer: water, lion, and loved woman, are central to the Sworn Sword.

The water

The central plot of the Sworn Sword is the pervading anxiety brought on by a drought and scorching heat.  Tensions are rising.  Plus, this comes on the heels of the Spring Sickness.  I’m suspicious that this extreme weather/climate/pestilence stuff is old Gods-y karmic punishment for the Targaryen kin slaying in the Hedge Knight, but I can’t and won’t try to justify this.  The opening setting seems like a “burning” hell on earth, a notable opposite to the “freezing” hell on earth of the long night. It’s as if good prince Baelor, the sun of his generation, has exploded and westeros is irradiated. 

Anyway, back to water.  Essentially, the Chequey river is drying up and Eustace needs this water to feed his people.  You could say that life flows from the Chequey river.  Dunk discovers Lady Rohanne has dammed the stream of life, diverting the flow to strengthen her castle’s defenses.  Here, water is both a source of life and source of war/death. 

In the night, the drought and heat conspire to start a spontaneous forest fire in the woods between Steadfast (Eustace) and Coldmoat (Rohanne).  Both sides see the fire in the morning and assume the other has declared war.  Weirwood trees are redheads; trees with leaves like a blaze of flame. Thus, these regular, boring trees are doing weirwood karaoke transformation symbolism.  I note that this fire is completely irrelevant to the plot of the Sworn Sword.  Yet, it happens, I assume, because GRRM could not in good faith tell the story of Lightbringer without the suggestion of weirwoods.

The two sides meet at the Chequey river.  This results in a big fight between Dunk and Lucas Inchfield (the Long inch).  The fight takes place *in the water*.  In the fight, Dunk literally loses his sword in the river, as foretold by the Lightbringer myth.  He eventually wins by stabbing Lucas to death with a dagger (a blood sacrifice in the water?).

Do you think GRRM likes word play?  Sir Lucas Inchfield is nearly as tall as Dunk.  This is referenced a few times in the story.  One could say that a tall man is very long.  Certainly, Inchfield is notable for a name containing a unit of measurement.  Perhaps, Dunk and Lucas are “Long Knights”. 

In any case, Dunk literally drowns to death in the river. He is resurrected/resuscitated by Rohanne’s (plot convenient) Ironborn master. What is dead can never die? The death and rebirth stuff isn’t in the Lightbringer forging myth, but it is part of the Last Hero/Azor Ahai stuff. Dunk charmingly gets his butt kicked in every book.  However, THIS is the story of Lightbringer and it cannot be told without drowning the hero in the river of life and a revival by the Drowned God.

 

The Lion

The lion references are twofold, but I think only the former matters. Eustace Osgrey’s house sigil is a lion. The lion is drawn with a green and white checkered pattern, also known as “motley” or “patchwork”, making Sir Eustace a kind of jester or fool lion. Chequey also means checkered, which could make this a jester or fool river.  The motley design reminds us of Patchface, but fool lion could also remind us of Tyrion.  My head hurts trying to decipher the importance of patchface lions and rivers.  Perhaps, Eustace is a “Lion of Knight”. Of note, Eustace descends from Ser Wilbert Osgray, who was nicknamed the Little Lion and who once slew a Big Lion (Lancel IV Lannister). 

The second lion is only a lion in waiting: Rohanne.  She will go on to marry Gerold Lannister. Tywin Lannister is her grandson. Jaime Lannister, the center of many Last Hero/Azor Ahai/Lightbringer crackpot theories, is her great grandson. Brianne, the center of many of Jaime’s Last Hero/Azor Ahai/Lightbringer crackpot theories, descends from Dunk (whatever that means).  When I was a green boy, I thought Rohanne was little more than cool fan service.  Now, I think it's clear she was an essential part in bridging Lightbringer myth (via Sworn Sword) to Jaime Lannister.  

In any case, the Lightbringer myth requires Dunk to stabby stabby Eustace, either literally or metaphorically.  Stab him real good!  However, Dunk resists the urge to stab Eustace. This is our first failure to forge Lightbringer. 

The beloved

Look, I know Dunk doesn’t have a beloved.  He pretty much falls for any too tall puppet lady who shows him the slightest bit of attention.  What we do have is one Rohanne Webber, whom Dunk and I both clearly have the hots for.  Rohanne TWICE offers Dunk sun/fire/flaming stuff.  First, Rohanne offers Dunk her Dornish (sun!) horse, named Flame. He declines the horse and instead kisses Rohanne passionately and plunges his sword into her heart. OK, actually, he cuts off a piece of her red hair, something to remember her by on his travels. Still, this counts as a micro-violent act against a loved (or lusted) quasi Nissa-Nissa/Night's Queen figure. Dunk brandishes the braid of red hair, which has ideas of a small scale red flaming sword.

End

A backdrop of massive climate change and burning trees.  A drowned hero resurrected.  By my account, Dunk the Lunk succeeded once (left a blood sacrifice and lost his sword in the water of life), failed once (a motley lion left unstabbed), and takes one mulligan (a lover left under penetrated, but flame gain anyway). Thus, Lightbringer was not forged.  Dunk participated in a magical ceremony without his knowledge or consent. 

 

Extra Credit symbolism to ponder:

Rohanne Webber is a short, lithe, freckled woman touched by fire (redhead), with pale skin, and who likes archery. The description reminds us Ygritte, Mel, children of the forest, and a Tolkien elf all wrapped up in one.  Her nickname, The Red Widow, is ominous and witchy sounding.  She also resides in *Cold*moat and is accused of having magical dark powers, killing several husbands (and possibly the two in the crows cage in the beginning of the story), and sacrificing her babies to dark magics. Thus, Rohanne is also a potential Night’s Queen archetype.  She really is both sides, light and dark, fire and ice.  I assume this is a clue.  Perhaps, there is repeating motif in planetos:  the fiery short vixen who becomes the witchy evil sorcerer and maybe sometimes gets the tall long knight?  Rohanne’s death is never recorded.  She simply disappears one day.  I'm surprised there aren't more more crazy theories about her.

It’s a really short jump from Rohanne Webber of the burning trees to Rowan Goldtree, an age of heroes daughter of Garth Greenhand.  The Rohans were powerful lords in the part of the Reach where this story takes place, so this is probably not an accidental reference.  Rowan’s myth was that she was abandoned by her lover while pregnant. She grew a golden tree out of an apple wrapped in her golder hair.  The relevance of this myth to the red-headed Rohanne is unclear, but Rohanne does grow a family tree of golden hair Lannisters.  The Rohans also seem like Reach versions of the Starks in some ways: Lord of Goldengrove (weirwood) and Marshall of the Northmarch. Did the Rohans have first men blood? Did Rohanne?

Dunk as poor man's Azor Ahai

Another way of summarizing the battle: Witch leaves Coldmoat with an overwhelming force to attack the living humans.  Rohanne's house sigal is spiders, which Old Nan says the Others ride on.  The humans are defending Standfast (stubborn) with a ragtag group of untrained men from surrounding villages, of which Dunk is supposed to train and lead. They are equipped with fire-hardened spears and shields made of woven branches. Thus, Dunk is vaguely a Lord Commander type against the invading Cold(moat) others riding Spiders (sigils sewn onto their horses and garb and banners).  Did you like that? I feel dirty now.

Dunk as poor man's Last Hero

From Old Nan: “He set out into the dead lands with a sword, a horse, a dog, and a dozen companions. One by one his friends died, and his horse, and finally even his dog, and his sword froze so hard the blade snapped when he tried to use it. And the Others smelled the hot blood in him and came silent on his trail, stalking him with packs of pale white spiders as big as hounds.” 

Hey! Spiders!

Does Dunk have a dozen companions?  Well, he only trains 8 men, so no.

Buttttttttt, also yes: “The next day, a dozen men show up at Standfast. One is too old, two are too young, and one ends up being a girl, leaving eight men: Wat and his brother Wat, a third Wat, Will, another Will, Lem, Pate, and Big Rob, a lackwit.”

Holy crap! He started off with 12 companions!  The 8 red jackets have no clear significance to the Last Hero myth, but do be on the lookout for 3 greenseers named Wat.  I want Egg to be the dog.  He has 2 horses to pick from to fit the myth (Master and Thunder).  Do you think Dunk needs 12 fighters for this stupid essay to convince you?  Is that what you want?  Fine!  Dunk has other companions: Sam Stoops (steward), Eustace, and Bennis.  However, Sam doesn’t fight and Bennis is not Dunk’s companion as much as an antagonist.  We can keep Eustace. He makes 9.

The final three come from Dunk’s dream two nights before the weirwood fire and the failed Lightbringer forging: “They wanted to be off, but he could not leave until he’d buried Chestnut. He would not leave his old friend to the snakes and scorpions and sand dogs… Dunk is burying his horse! Just like the Last Hero!  The dream goes on to include 3 of Dunk’s ghosts that make him feel guilty: Sir Arlen, Sir Baelor Breakspear, and Baelor’s son Valarr, who died in the Springsickness.  9 + 3 undead dream-friends makes 12 companions!

Final Thoughts

I wonder if the Hedge Knight in Book 1 is similarly describing a major planetos event, something that leads INTO the need to forge Lightbringer in Book 2. The Long Night is the impetus for Lightbringer, so this ought to be the underlying symbolism of the Hedge Knight. Let’s just say that I am working on it and it’s not going well.  In sequence, the Mystery Knight would reflect the next major event, but I’m not sure what that would be, historically speaking. 

 

 Final Final Thoughts

TL;DR In the Sworn Sword, Dunk almost symbolically forges Lightbringer.

TL;DR Dunk wonders, “maybe there are chequy fish down beneath the Chequey Water.” Does he mean squishers?

TL;DR “I’d sooner have a clout than a wife. Especially a dead wife, ser. The kettle’s steaming.” I’m calling it now.  Summerhall will include Egg getting stuck in a wildfire-induced trance.  Dunk will clout him very hard in the ear to wake him up.  Then, Egg will watch his wife die first before dying himself. 

Edited by Idunnohowtochangenames
typos

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Very well written. I appreciate how you lay it all out and explain your theory, and are not afraid to say 'maybe' when you are uncertain. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

I'm sorry. I don't know how to tag you.

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9 hours ago, Idunnohowtochangenames said:

Rohanne’s death is never recorded.  She simply disappears one day.  I'm surprised there aren't more more crazy theories about her.

It’s a really short jump from Rohanne Webber of the burning trees to Rowan Goldtree, an age of heroes daughter of Garth Greenhand.  The Rohans were powerful lords in the part of the Reach where this story takes place, so this is probably not an accidental reference.  Rowan’s myth was that she was abandoned by her lover while pregnant. She grew a golden tree out of an apple wrapped in her golder hair.  The relevance of this myth to the red-headed Rohanne is unclear

I have that more crazy theory about Rohanne. I think, that she is the Ghost of High Heart, and that Jenny of Oldstones, wife of Duncan Targaryen, was fifth child of Rohanne and Gerold Lannister. And Varys could be Jenny's son, while his father is either Prince Duncan, or, more likely, one of Blackfyres. Could be that during burning of Sumerhall, Jenny was kidnapped by Blackfyres, and later in Essos gave birth to Varys. So Varys' nickname is Spider, because his maternal grandmother, Rohanne Webber-Lannister, was the Red Widow (which is a hint about black widow spider, that kills/eats her "husbands"). Rohanne, that had left her Lannister husband, and gave birth to a secret child, could be a parallel to daughter of Garth Greenhand. While Varys, whose father may be one of Blackfyres, or even descendant of Bittersteel, is a "Golden Apple of Discord" (from Greek mythology), and thru his father he is connected to Golden Company, which is a "golden tree". So Varys is a dragonseed (thru his father, whoever that is), and his maternal grandmother is a witch, so he has magic blood on both sides of his family, and that's why he was used as a blood-sacrifice to fire god, when he was a child.

Edited by Megorova

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I've been trying to sort out the Dunk and Egg stories lately, too. It's fascinating to me that our approaches and conclusions are so different! These stories can be interpreted in many ways.

I do think that Dunk is a "sword". He does drown in the stream and is revived by the Ironborn maester - so the "what's dead can never die" magic is presumably now part of his magic and the born iron symbolism is part of his forging as a human-weapon.

As part of this forging and annealing, I think you also have to look at the three baths Egg prepares for Dunk in the story. Egg can't believe that Dunk wants to take so many baths, but he is a dutiful squire and he helps to haul and heat the water. The resulting bathwater is too hot for Dunk - it is the temperature that Egg prefers. But Dunk tries not to show that the water is too hot for him.

The colors of the chequy lion are actually green and gold, not green and white.

10 hours ago, Idunnohowtochangenames said:

The lion is drawn with a green and white checkered pattern, also known as “motley” or “patchwork”, making Sir Eustace a kind of jester or fool lion.

The green is probably a Garth Greenhand reference (the Little Lion defended the Reach on behalf of Gyles III Gardener). Not sure yet about the gold. The white wool cloak that Osgrey makes Dunk wear is, of course, a king's guard reference. I haven't quite pinned that down yet except that putting a cloak on someone creates a "marriage" situation. The edges of the cloak are green and gold.

I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks that GRRM is using wordplay when he gives us several "long knights" throughout his books, alluding to The Long Night. I suspect Ser Lucas Longinch has additional layers of symbolic meaning, although you may have hit on a major part of his function. Why did Rohanne's father want her to marry Longinch? Why does Rohanne resist the idea? Who has Rohanne married already, and what symbolism do those husbands bring to the story? (If the link is tl;dr, my surmise is that Longinch represents Dunk's father as well as a Night's Watch symbol. The death of Longinch is a Luke Skywalker / Darth Vader scene.) Why does the author arrange the death such that a dagger in the armpit is the coup de grace?

Although Dunk declines to accept the gift of a horse from Rohanne, Egg does accept the gift of a new mount. What does that mean on a symbolic level?

I look forward to reading more of your theory as you tease out the details. There is always more digging to be done in these books, isn't there?

Here is my other post about the Sworn Sword. I keep meaning to get back to this. Maybe this thread will motivate me.

 

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Megorova

Thanks for providing a crazy theory!  Do you really think the Blackfyres were involved in Summerhall without any mention of it? It would have to be like how Ned has POV chapters but conveniently never considers Jon's parentage.

Edited by Idunnohowtochangenames

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On 2/20/2019 at 11:09 AM, Seams said:

As part of this forging and annealing, I think you also have to look at the three baths Egg prepares for Dunk in the story. Egg can't believe that Dunk wants to take so many baths, but he is a dutiful squire and he helps to haul and heat the water. The resulting bathwater is too hot for Dunk - it is the temperature that Egg prefers. But Dunk tries not to show that the water is too hot for him. 

The colors of the chequy lion are actually green and gold, not green and white.

 

one bath for love, one bath for gold, and one bath for blood :)

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Some very insteresting ideas, @Idunnohowtochangenames

I’ll be back... (still at work at the mo)

Welcome! :cheers:

[and if you really wanna know how, click on your user name (top left), then ‘account settings (third option from the top). And ‘name’ is one of the first options you’ll see]

Edited by kissdbyfire

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On 2/19/2019 at 8:51 PM, Idunnohowtochangenames said:

Dunk literally drowns to death in the river.  What is dead can never die?  the story of Lightbringer cannot be told without drowning the hero in the river of life and a revival by the Drowned God

What if it's Life Bringer, and that's how it saved the world. (It'd then be much more worthy of super legend status than a mere extra-lethal sword, right?)   What if there was a process of shopping around for magic, doing a price comparison and performance review of all the various resurrection methods.  (Water, lion/Nature, Fire.)    What if it's the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears where she tried sneaking a taste of several bowls of porridge, first one that was too cold (Ice magic leaves you a wight and you wouldn't want your parents brought back like that, or like Patchface), then she tried one that was too hot and burned her (wresting Nature's method away from the Children was like fighting a lion and humans who tried got outmagicked by the elves, like a lion tamer on his last day of employment--aka we got mauled), and then Gildilocks found one that was perfectly warm and "just right"  (the love based Thoros method, the friendly side of Fire).  Or, at least, viable.  Sword of Fire.  Raising dead fools for our side as fast as the Others could drop them, and robbing Them of corpses to make wights out of.  Turning the tide.

 

On 2/19/2019 at 8:51 PM, Idunnohowtochangenames said:

Now, I think it's clear she was an essential part in bridging Lightbringer myth (via Sworn Sword) to Jaime Lannister.  

That's exciting because a handless guy is supposed to call it quits, and he becomes a long shot to wield the biggest magic sword of the series, like he's the guy you wouldn't expect.   But look at him.  Plugging along.  He's the little choo choo train that could.  Go.  All.  The.  Way.

 

On 2/19/2019 at 8:51 PM, Idunnohowtochangenames said:

.  Perhaps, there is repeating motif in planetos: 

Like a fractal history.   The same pattern is seen at any level of magnification.  Same things play out on the microscopic Dunk story level and on the big picture level of the novels' historical perspective.

 

On 2/19/2019 at 8:51 PM, Idunnohowtochangenames said:

Did you like that? I feel dirty now.

Yes.   Perv badge awarded.   This was a good time had.  I've found that feelings of sleaze while writing about Ice&Fire allow me to make more connections, overcome writer's block, make assertions that you'd never see in an asexual paragraph.

 

 

Edited by The Mother of The Others

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21 hours ago, Idunnohowtochangenames said:

Megorova

Thanks for providing a crazy theory!  Do you really think the Blackfyres were involved in Summerhall without any mention of it? It would have to be like how Ned has POV chapters but conveniently never considers Jon's parentage.

I think, that it's possible, that is, if Varys is a Blackfyre, or is somehow connected to them. My assumption is based on analysis of Blackfyres' activity thru years of their animosity against Targaryens.

https://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/House_Blackfyre

First Rebellion - 196 AC; Second - 211 AC; Third - 219 AC (the reason for this one is death of Daemon II); Fourth - 236 AC (the reason for this one is death of Aenys Blackfyre); the Tragedy at Summerhall happened in 259; and soon after it Ninepenny Kings arrived to 7K with the Fifth - 260 AC (as result of it was killed the last Blackfyre from their male line). And then in 278 Varys came to Westeros and joined Aerys' court.

For each Rebellion, there was a premise for it, or a reason that caused it. Could be, that prior Blackfyres arrived to Westeros with their next rebellion, they have prepared a ground for it. For example, maybe, the Peake Uprising and subsequent death of King Maekar, was result of Blackfyres' plotting, to create an opportunity for the Great Council to gather, and for Aenys to claim the crown.

https://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/Peake_Uprising

So it could be the same: Peake Uprising - Maekar's death - Great Council and Aenys' arrival to 7K; the Tragedy at Summerhall - Aegon V's death - War of Ninepenny Kings (Fifth Rebellion).

So I think, that Varys had arrived to Westeros to prepare ground for the Sixth Rebellion of Blackfyres, and fAegon is going to be crowned as Aegon VI Targaryen. Sixth rebellion and sixth Aegon.

If Varys is a Blackfyre, or is somehow connected to them, or if fAegon is a Blackfyre, then I don't believe, that in span of time between the War of Ninepenny Kings (260 AC) and current invasion of Blackfyres/Golden Company into Westeros (300 AC), and that's 40 years, Blackfyres weren't doing anything. For example, pauses between their previous attacks - (196-211) 15 years, (211-219) 8 years, (219-236) 17 years, (236-260) 24 years. And now what? -> 40 years-long pause? This seems suspicious. Also, what could be the reason, why Varys is supporting fAegon, and what is the connection between Varys and Golden Company? Why would Varys take Rhaegar's infant son under his care, and now is trying to make him King of 7K, if prior Robert's Rebellion Varys was trying to set Aerys against Rhaegar, and to cause a civil war between King and Crown Prince? So in my opinion, it all makes sense, if, when Varys came to Westeros in 278, he was preparing there ground for the Sixth Rebellion of Blackfyres. And his purpose was to start some major confrontation between Targaryens, and when that conflict would have ended, with death of either Aerys or Rhaegar, and 7K were weakened by civil war, it would have been in perfect condition for an outside attack/invasion. Same as the War of Five Kings was crafted by Varys and his people to weaken 7K, and make it easier for Golden Company to invade. Though Varys' preparations for invasion were interrupted by Robert's Rebellion, and after it, conditions were unfavorable for invasion (because nearly all Kingdoms were in an alliance thru political marriages or bloodrelations -> the ruler of The Vale was married with the daughter of Riverlands' ruler; the ruler of The North was also married with Riverlans' daughter, that was sistes to wife of the Vale; and the ruler of Stormlands was foster-son of the Vale, and foster brother of the North, and was married with the daughter of Westerlands (figuratively speaking); so this circumstances made an invasion nearly impossible). So it took Varys many years to weaken 7K, and to severe ties between Kingdoms of Westeros, and make them fight against each other. The civil war will weaken them all, and will make 7K an easy prey. Though, if previous time Varys' plans were intercepted by Rhaegar kidnapping Lyanna, and everything that happened after it, this time, the one who ruined Varys' plan was Littlefinger.

If my assumptions about Varys and his deeds are correct, and every big tragedy, that has happened in Targaryen family, since death of Aegon IV, was actually caused by Blackfyres, then the Tragedy at Summerhall is also their work.

Also, out of all people, it was the most unfavorable for Blackfyres, if Targaryens managed to hatch dragons. Thus, they had reasons to prevent them from succeeding. Also it's possible, that participation of Blackfyres in Summerhall's burning wasn't mentioned, because no one (of those, that survived) knew, that Blackfyres were involved.

Edited by Megorova

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