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Heresy 231 Alienarea Strikes Again

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Welcome to Heresy 231 and another sideways look at ASoIF. From time to time we feature guest "editorials" to kick off the next 40 pages of discussion and this time it comes from Alienarea with some thoughts on the infamous Pink letter...

 

Recently we briefly touched the Pink Letter, and last week I rediscovered two files on a hard drive I had written back then (2012?). It turned out both files had the same content, which is below without any edits. It was written before the tv show touched ADWD, and obviously I couldn't imagine that Stannis would go out like a punk, defeated by Ramsay's 20 good men.
Below is what I wrote back then, some years ago:

With the US paperback release of ADwD including the Theon gift chapter I have re-read the letter and the gift chapter a couple of times and I am more puzzled than before.


Here’s the letter from ADwD:


Bastard


Your false king is dead, bastard. He and all his host were smashed in seven days of battle. I have his magic sword. Tell his red whore.
Your false king’s friends are dead. Their heads upon the walls of Winterfell. Come see them, bastard. Your false king lied, and so did you. You told the world you burned the King-Beyond-the-Wall. Instead you sent him to Winterfell to steal my bride from me.
I will have my bride back. If you want Mance Rayder back, come and get him. I have him in a cage for all the north to see, proof of your lies. The cage is cold, but I have made him a warm cloak from the skins of the six whores who came with him to Winterfell.
I want my bride back. I want the false king’s queen. I want his daughter and his red witch. I want his wildling princess. I want his little prince, the wildling babe. And I want my Reek. Sent them to me, bastard, and I will not trouble you or your black crows. Keep them from me, and I will cut out your bastard’s heart and eat it.


Ramsay Bolton,
Trueborn Lord of Winterfell


The letter gives the following information:
01. Stannis is dead. He and his host where smashed in seven days of battle
02. The sender of the letter has Stannis sword.
03. Stannis friends are dead and their heads are on the walls of Winterfell.
04. The sender knows that Mance has not been burned.
05. The sender will have his bride back.
06. Mance was sent to Winterfell accompanied by six spearwives to rescue ‘Arya’.
07. Mance is now captured in a cage to prove Jon’s lies.
08. In captivity Mance has to wear a cloak made of the skins of the six spearwives.
09. The sender wants his bride back.
10. The sender wants Selyse, Shireen and Melisandre.
11. The sender wants Val.
12. The sender wants Mance’s son.
13. The sender wants Reek (Theon).
14. If the sender gets these hostages, he will not bother Jon Snow or the Night Watch
15. Otherwise he will cut out and eat Jon Snow’s heart.


Things I have noticed which make the letter very odd:


Regarding 1.: Seven days of battle – in my understanding this refers  to the location where Stannis is camped. This is revealed in the Winterfell hall. 3 days to get there from Winterfell, one day battle, 3 days to get back. That would imply the letter was written after the raven from the Karstark master being with Stannis has arrived in Winterfell.


Regarding 2. and 3.: The sender claims to have Stannis sword, but not Stannis body, otherwise his head should be at the walls of Winterfell as well. Regardless of the outcome of the battle, Stannis has either escaped, his body is unrecognizable (burned?) or the sender was tricked.

Regarding 4. and 5.: the sender knows that Abel is Mance, that he was accompanied by six spearwives, and his mission was to rescue ‘Arya’. This is known to Mance, the six spearwives, Melisandre, and Jon.

Regarding 6.: the sender gives a reason for not killing Mance: to prove Jon’s lies.

Regarding 7.: that is a cruelty fitting for Ramsay.

Regarding 5. and 9.: In the third paragraph the sender is confident to get his bride back, in the fourth paragraph he wants his bride back. My understanding: Either the letter has been written over period of time, i.e. paragraph 1 -3 immediately after Theon and Arya have escaped, paragraph 4 later, or by two different authors.

Regarding 9. to 13.: I have listed the hostages separately as the sender has grouped them. The bride seems to be most important, Reek the least. And since the wildlings don’t know that Mance is still alive, why care for his son and Val? The sender can only know about them from either Mance or one of the spearwives.

Regarding 14. The sender doesn’t differenciate between Jon Snow and the Night Watch as long as his demands are met.

Regarding 15. The final threat goes to Jon alone. And the “eat your heart” part implies the sender knows this is the ultimate death for a warg. Would Ramsay know this?

In the first paragraph, Melisandre is addressed as “red whore”, obviously meant to insult her as bastard is meant to insult Jon Snow. In the last paragraph she is addressed as “red witch”, which is a little less insulting. Two authors?
When Jon discusses the letter with Tormund, he claims there is some truth in it.  
Apparently Melisandre knows the letter is coming before it is there.

******


Now going through with some years in between, I have some additional thoughts that didn't occur to me before:


We know Mance was with the Nightwatch, and travelling the Northern places like Winterfell for new recruits. Has he been to the Dreadfort as well, i.e. is there a chance Roose or Ramsay would recognize him? That could explain why Roose or Ramsay know Mance has not been burned - they recognize him.

The skins of the spearwives and the cold cage: I do not take this literally, but assume the spearwives were caught and killed, most likely tortured before, without giving him away (=a cloak of six skins) , and Mance is hiding in the crypts (=cold cage). Ramsay started the letter, Mance took it while Ramsay was out hunting for Theon, and Mance completed the letter and send it after Ramsay returned. The heads on the walls of Winterfell are those of the spearwives?

Now it is your turn, heretics.

 

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Thank you for allowing me to come up with another guest editorial, Black Crow :)

Usually my guest editorials get derailed quickly, maybe one of you who knows the books better than I do knows if the eating one's heart part came up before and who in Winterfell would know it?

And then there is the crackpot to derail this right now so ask me again after page 10 ;)

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59 minutes ago, alienarea said:

Thank you for allowing me to come up with another guest editorial, Black Crow :)

Usually my guest editorials get derailed quickly, maybe one of you who knows the books better than I do knows if the eating one's heart part came up before and who in Winterfell would know it?

And then there is the crackpot to derail this right now so ask me again after page 10 ;)

This OP is nicely done Alienarea.  I mean to come back to it.  The joints in my fingers are inflamed today among other things.   

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Posted (edited)

I have to ask what is the purpose of the letter and is it really to get Jon Snow to leave the Wall and come in force against Winterfell.  It certainly pushes all those buttons.  

For that reason, I think Mance has something to do with the letter, if not on his own, then in collusion with Ramsey who's buttons are also being pushed.

I think there is more than one reason for Mance would want to be at Winterfell and that includes what might be in the crypts and what the wildlings know about it.  Mel would certainly have an interest if she used her potions to force the truth from Mance.  So I think she is colluding with Mance as well.

I think that primarily it is Mance who wants the wilding force to come to Winterfell to aid him in defeating Ramsey.  Ramsey may think he is getting Mance's wildling to bolster his forces against Stannis.  And if this is the case, I suspect that it will be Mance who turns the tables from inside and presents a victory to Stannis.  This would appeal to Mel since she could then tell Stannis it was all part of her plan.

In the end we end up with a reprise of the King in the North and the King beyond the Wall joining forces to defeat the usurper Ramsey.

The condition of the wax seal tells me that the letter has been opened and read, then re-sealed.  I think this is likely to be Mel who may be expecting word from Manse or a letter that can be used to put their plans into motion. 

ETA:  I had the door open for a while and a chipmunk has found its way into my house.  Now I'm looking for him and hoping he finds the door again.  LOL  They are cute as hell.

Edited by LynnS

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7 hours ago, LynnS said:

I have to ask what is the purpose of the letter and is it really to get Jon Snow to leave the Wall and come in force against Winterfell.  It certainly pushes all those buttons.  

For that reason, I think Mance has something to do with the letter, if not on his own, then in collusion with Ramsey who's buttons are also being pushed.

I think there is more than one reason for Mance would want to be at Winterfell and that includes what might be in the crypts and what the wildlings know about it.  Mel would certainly have an interest if she used her potions to force the truth from Mance.  So I think she is colluding with Mance as well.

I think that primarily it is Mance who wants the wilding force to come to Winterfell to aid him in defeating Ramsey.  Ramsey may think he is getting Mance's wildling to bolster his forces against Stannis.  And if this is the case, I suspect that it will be Mance who turns the tables from inside and presents a victory to Stannis.  This would appeal to Mel since she could then tell Stannis it was all part of her plan.

In the end we end up with a reprise of the King in the North and the King beyond the Wall joining forces to defeat the usurper Ramsey.

The condition of the wax seal tells me that the letter has been opened and read, then re-sealed.  I think this is likely to be Mel who may be expecting word from Manse or a letter that can be used to put their plans into motion. 

ETA:  I had the door open for a while and a chipmunk has found its way into my house.  Now I'm looking for him and hoping he finds the door again.  LOL  They are cute as hell.

We know that Mance has red stripes in his black cloak (Targaryen colors, but let's keep that for another time) because he was healed by a red sorceress after being attacked by a shadowcat. I hope I'm retelling this correctly, haven't read the books for a while.

The whole timeline for Mance is very tight, first he's a member of the nightwatch, then he deserts and becomes king-beyond-the-wall.

If the red sorceress that healed him has been Melisandre as well (why would a red sorceress be with the wildlings in the first place?), the two might have a longer story, a hidden agenda and planned all this together, because they both want something from the Winterfell crypts? But why did Melisandre switch to Stannis then?

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Additional thought: I was wondering whether Morna (sp?) the wildling witch has become one of the spearwives going with Mance? They are all named, but I guess she could disguise/glamour, too?

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27 minutes ago, alienarea said:

We know that Mance has red stripes in his black cloak (Targaryen colors, but let's keep that for another time) because he was healed by a red sorceress after being attacked by a shadowcat. I hope I'm retelling this correctly, haven't read the books for a while.

About the red and black cloak... there is an interesting idea about Mance's backstory and the song  the Dornishman's Wife.  t was proposed that song is about a previous Lord Commander of the Watch who was Dornish and is related the story that the Watch found Mance as a boy with a bunch of wildlings.  They slew the wildlings and took the boy.  Being kissed by the Dornishman's Wife translates to being kissed by the Dornishman's sword.  

So what is suggested here is that Mance is the bastard son of the Lord Commander from Dorne.  Somebody figured out who he was and what sigil was used by his House.  The sigial was red and black in color.  So as a bastard, it would be reversed for Mance, black and red.   

 

 

 

 

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37 minutes ago, alienarea said:

Additional thought: I was wondering whether Morna (sp?) the wildling witch has become one of the spearwives going with Mance? They are all named, but I guess she could disguise/glamour, too?

I actually think the Spearwives are done for.  That may be one of the few true things in the letter.  But I don't think Morna is one of them.  I think that Morna, Borroq and Val will take charge of Jon's body.  But that's a wild guess.

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The identity of the healer isn't entirely clear. I don't have the quote to hand, but as I recall the story Mance was badly injured by the shadowcat, so the other rangers took him to a woods witch they knew. She turned out to have popped her clogs and it was her daughter who treated him and fixed his cloak with the red silk [from Asshai] which had been recovered from a shipwreck.

That is all the information we have, and anything else is speculation.

However, as the story stinks, that speculation is more than justified, especially when you factor in the colours -I still hold by my own theory, based on Mance's likely age, that he's not a Targaryen but a Blackfyre, taken while fleeing north after the crushing of the rebellion.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Black Crow said:

However, as the story stinks, that speculation is more than justified,

LOL!  I'd say the whole pink letter stinks.  So here's more speculation:

- Consider that Mance is a skilled negotiator given all years he's spent negotiating with the wildling tribes.  He's used to hard cases and probably knows how to negotiate with Ramsey in a way that appeals to his narcissism.  What does Ramsey want?

- Mance has some kind of plot going on, something that Mel is involved in executing, What did he negotiate with her?  What does he want?  What does Melisandre want?

- What information does the Pink Letter give Melisandre about the status of their plot?  What is the plot?

20 hours ago, Black Crow said:

The letter gives the following information:
01. Stannis is dead. He and his host where smashed in seven days of battle
02. The sender of the letter has Stannis sword.
03. Stannis friends are dead and their heads are on the walls of Winterfell.
04. The sender knows that Mance has not been burned.
05. The sender will have his bride back.
06. Mance was sent to Winterfell accompanied by six spearwives to rescue ‘Arya’.
07. Mance is now captured in a cage to prove Jon’s lies.
08. In captivity Mance has to wear a cloak made of the skins of the six spearwives.
09. The sender wants his bride back.
10. The sender wants Selyse, Shireen and Melisandre.
11. The sender wants Val.
12. The sender wants Mance’s son.
13. The sender wants Reek (Theon).
14. If the sender gets these hostages, he will not bother Jon Snow or the Night Watch
15. Otherwise he will cut out and eat Jon Snow’s heart.

All of the stuff about Stannis is a lie.  This is pure Ramsey.  His position is week so he wants hostages.  Specifically hostages he can use against Stannis. Why would he bother if Stannis is dead.  In particular he wants fAryra to maintain legitimacy and he wants Reek because he's a sadist.   He want Selyse, Shireen and Mel to use against Stannis.

Mel learns that fArya and Theon have escaped and Mel wants fArya to convince Jon to join Mel's side.  Also that Ramsey thinks Jon Snow has them.  That's also a lie and that would be Mance.

Mance is also telling Melisandre what he wants or reminding her that this is part of their bargain.  He wants Val and his son.  Something that Mance may have negotiated with Ramsey in return for Mance's and wildling support against  Stannis.  Ramsey may think that together they can beat Stannis' force and he will then become King in the North.  That would be Mance playing on Ramsey's narcissism. 

Mance is also telling Mel that the spearwives are dead and that he is alone inside the cage (Winterfell).

The letter seems designed to get the Wildlings to come to Mance and they respond in spades.  This is the trap or plot that Mance and Mel have cooked up.  Mance gets to present Stannis with a fait accompli and Mel takes the credit.  Both have their position with Stannis strengthened.  Mance takes up position in Winterfell with Stannis' reluctant blessing.

ETA:

Quote

A Dance with Dragons - Melisandre I

"Are we talking about betrayals? What was the name of that wildling wife of yours, Snow? Ygritte, wasn't it?" The wildling turned to Melisandre. "I will need horses. Half a dozen good ones. And this is nothing I can do alone. Some of the spearwives penned up at Mole's Town should serve. Women would be best for this. The girl's more like to trust them, and they will help me carry off a certain ploy I have in mind."

Ploy: a cunning plan or action designed to turn a situation to one's own advantage.

Winterfell is so well fortified that taking Ramsey down can only be done from the inside.  The spearwives presented as washer women and servants help to get Mance on the inside.

Edited by LynnS

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Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, LynnS said:

I have to ask what is the purpose of the letter and is it really to get Jon Snow to leave the Wall and come in force against Winterfell.  It certainly pushes all those buttons.

This.

Putting aside the identity of the author, I believe that the true goal / purpose of the Pink Letter is to "force" Jon to leave the Wall and to do that immediately. 

And that this is perfectly consistent not only with the Stannis, Mance, etc.. hypothesis but with that of Ramsey as author itself.

In short if the author is not a Bolton, he wants Jon to leave the wall with an army as soon as he can tfor obvious reasons.

If it was Ramsey or Roose the problem is that they lost track of fArya and Theon and they have to make Jon leave before he could meet fArya and Theon. If not, fArya will be identified as a fake, Theon "could" confess the truth about Bran and Rickon. If Jon leaves with an army, that won't happen and in any case he'll be a traitor... thus if Jon doesn't die in the battlefield, he can be executed regardless.

That's why in my opinion, there's a good chance that the author is Roose, not even Ramsey. The letter is too clever.

But... I also think that Mance is involved. That because if you break down the text, it's full of references to events and words that happened/were told when both Jon and Mance were present.

As if there's a secret code at play.

So overall, I think that Mance is involved for sure in the writing... not just as a one who passed some information to the true author.

He is the author or one of the author.

And sorry but, if I take into consideration the so called Asha fragment

Spoiler

Before him rode three banner bearers. One bore the stag and lion standard of King Tommen, another the Twin Towers of House Frey. The third brandished a bloody head impaled upon the point of a tall spear. An old man's head it was, white-bearded and one eyed. The spear was... with a pale wood, almost white... along its upper shaft had... dark and red. Crowfood Umber, Asha knew. The old northman had fought to his death, it seemed. Perhaps the foe had thought the sight of the severed head would take the hearts of the...

I think that is not a Frey. Not Hosteen or Big Walder, as many believe. I bet that is Mance. 

Spoiler

Stannis ground his teeth. "He informs me that Umber will not fight Umber, for any cause."
Jon was not surprised. "If it comes to swords, see where Hother's banner flies and put Mors on the other end of the line."
The Giantslayer disagreed. "You would make His Grace look weak. I say, show our strength. Burn Last Hearth to the ground and ride to war with Crowfood's head mounted on a spear, as a lesson to the next lord who presumes to offer half his homage."

The few who live that long. If Stannis placed the free folk in the van, most would perish quickly. "Drinking from Mance Rayder's skull may give Mors Umber pleasure, but seeing wildlings cross his lands will not. The free folk have been raiding the Umbers since the Dawn of Days, crossing the Bay of Seals for gold and sheep and women. One of those carried off was Crowfood's daughter. Your Grace, leave the wildlings here. Taking them will only serve to turn my lord father's bannermen against you."

These are both from ADWD JON III, and again Mance was there when these things were discussed.

So in my opion, the question is who's Mance working with and why.

Stannis maybe. But he may also be in a  personal vengeance campaign vs Stannis and Jon.

In that case, he may be helped by Lady Dustin or... by Roose himself (who wants both Jon and Ramsey dead). 

 

Edited by lalt

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35 minutes ago, LynnS said:

LOL!  I'd say the whole pink letter stinks.  So here's more speculation:

- Consider that Mance is a skilled negotiator given all years he's spent negotiating with the wildling tribes.  He's used to hard cases and probably knows how to negotiate with Ramsey in a way that appeals to his narcissism.  What does Ramsey want?

- Mance has some kind of plot going on, something that Mel is involved in executing, What did he negotiate with her?  What does he want?  What does Melisandre want?

- What information does the Pink Letter give Melisandre about the status of their plot?  What is the plot?

All of the stuff about Stannis is a lie.  This is pure Ramsey.  His position is week so he wants hostages.  Specifically hostages he can use against Stannis. Why would he bother if Stannis is dead.  In particular he wants fAryra to maintain legitimacy and he wants Reek because he's a sadist.   He want Selyse, Shireen and Mel to use against Stannis.

Mel learns that fArya and Theon have escaped and Mel wants fArya to convince Jon to join Mel's side.  Also that Ramsey thinks Jon Snow has them.  That's also a lie and that would be Mance.

Mance is also telling Melisandre what he wants or reminding her that this is part of their bargain.  He wants Val and his son.  Something that Mance may have negotiated with Ramsey in return for Mance's and wildling support against  Stannis.  Ramsey may think that together they can beat Stannis' force and he will then become King in the North.  That would be Mance playing on Ramsey's narcissism. 

Mance is also telling Mel that the spearwives are dead and that he is alone inside the cage (Winterfell).

The letter seems designed to get the Wildlings to come to Mance and they respond in spades.  This is the trap or plot that Mance and Mel have cooked up.  Mance gets to present Stannis with a fait accompli and Mel takes the credit.  Both have their position with Stannis strengthened.  Mance takes up position in Winterfell with Stannis' reluctant blessing.

ETA:

Ploy: a cunning plan or action designed to turn a situation to one's own advantage.

Winterfell is so well fortified that taking Ramsey down can only be done from the inside.  The spearwives presented as washer women and servants help to get Mance on the inside.

I've nothing to offer right now anent what's really going on, but would make the following observations on the 15 points in Alienarea's list.

First, the statements are either all or mostly true or false - yes, yes, I know, but either Ramsay won in which case they are consistent as the aftermath of that victory. Alternatively, Ramsay didn't win a famous victory, in which case its all lies.

Secondly, if they are lies, they are very time-limited. The distance between Winterfell and Castle Black is such that different news from Stannis will arrive long before Ramsay and his army. Therefore, if its not true its intended to provoke an immediate and irrevocable response.

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Posted (edited)

Pink letter text vs previous events/words happened/told in front of Mance and Jon

Your false king is dead, (A) bastard. (B)
He and all his host were smashed in seven days of battle. 
I have his magic sword. (A)
Tell his red whore. (B)
Your false king’s friends are dead. Their heads upon the walls of Winterfell. Come see them, bastard. (A/C)
Your false king (A) lied and so did you (B/C). You told the world you burned the King-Beyond-the-Wall. (A)
Instead you sent him to Winterfell to steal my bride from me. (C)
I will have my bride back. If you want Mance Rayder back, come and get him. 
I have him in a cage (A) for all the north to see (A/C), proof of your lies. (C)
The cage is cold, but I have made him a warm cloak (A/C
from the skins of the six whores who came with him to Winterfell. (C)
I want my bride back. (C) I want the false king’s queen. I want his daughter and his red witch. I want his wildling princess. 
I want his little prince, the wildling babe. And I want my Reek. Sent them to me, bastard, and I will not trouble you or your black crows.
Keep them from me, and I will cut out your bastard’s heart and eat it. (C)

Ramsay Bolton,
Trueborn Lord of Winterfell (C)

 

A = ADWD JON III


- A thousand captives watched through the wooden bars of their stockade as the horn was lifted high. 
- [Melisandre] "Free Folk (...) Your false king brought you only death, despair, defeat … but here stands the true king. BEHOLD HIS GLORY". Stannis Baratheon drew Lightbringer.
- Lady Melisandre watched him rise. "FREE FOLK! Here stands your king of lies.
- But when he saw the cage, his courage failed him. 
- Mance Rayder wore only a thin tunic that left his limbs naked to the cold. They could have let him keep his cloak, Jon Snow thought
- Clutching the bars of his cage with bound hands, Mance sobbed and begged. 

B = ADWD JON IV

 [Jon] "Stannis burned the wrong man" [Mance/Rattleshirt] "No." The wildling grinned at him through a mouth of brown and broken teeth. "He burned the man he had to burn, for all the world to see. We all do what we have to do, Snow. Even kings."
 [Mance] "Ask your red witch, bastard.
"I'll range for you, bastard," Rattleshirt declared. "I'll give you sage counsel or sing you pretty songs, as you prefer. I'll even fight for you. Just don't ask me to wear your cloak."  

C = ASOS JON II

- "It was him I asked. Has he lost his tongue? Perhaps he should, to spare us further lies."
-  "If so, tell me how many they were. And try and speak the truth this time, Bastard of Winterfell."
- "You should never have lied to me, Jon Snow," said Mance.
- Ygritte stepped in front of Jon. "You can't kill a man for lying to protect them as was his brothers."
"They are still his brothers," declared Styr. "They're not," insisted Ygritte. "He never killed me, like they told him. And he slew the Halfhand, we all saw."
- Jon's breath misted the air. If I lie to him, he'll know. He looked Mance Rayder in the eyes, opened and closed his burned hand. "I wear the cloak you gave me, Your Grace." "A sheepskin cloak!" said Ygritte. "And there's many a night we dance beneath it, too!"
-Mance nodded. "Good. You'll go with Jarl and Styr on the morrow, then. Both of you. Far be it from me to separate two hearts that beat as one."
- Styr scrowled "His heart may still be black" "Then cut it out" Mance turned to Rattleshirt

..... and the chapters ends with this: "It's like Mance said. Deeds are truer than words"

Edited by lalt

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, lalt said:

The few who live that long. If Stannis placed the free folk in the van, most would perish quickly. "Drinking from Mance Rayder's skull may give Mors Umber pleasure, but seeing wildlings cross his lands will not. The free folk have been raiding the Umbers since the Dawn of Days, crossing the Bay of Seals for gold and sheep and women. One of those carried off was Crowfood's daughter. Your Grace, leave the wildlings here. Taking them will only serve to turn my lord father's bannermen against you."

If Mance and the wildlings come to Stannis defence;  that may change his mind about the wildlings. Someone like Tormund Giantsbane might change his mind as well.  Hard to say.

Quote

Unrelated Sidenote:

The Umbers seem very like the free folk to me and I suspect they are related to Tormund's folk in some way.  The only other house that comes close is the Mormont's of Bear Island and Maege who sleeps with bears.

Mors is an old man, huge and powerful, with a ruddy face and a shaggy white beard.[4] He wears a chunk of dragonglass in place of a lost eye[5] or conceals the empty socket with a stained white leather eye patch.[4] He wears a cloak made of a snow bear with its head as a hood.[4]

Mors Crowfood is usually drunk.[5] Catelyn Stark considers Mors and his brother Hother to be hoary old brigands.[6]

  

Quote

A Storm of Swords - Jon I

Tormund rose to his feet. "Hold. You gave Styr his style, give me mine."

Mance Rayder laughed. "As you wish. Jon Snow, before you stands Tormund Giantsbane, Tall-talker, Horn-blower, and Breaker of Ice. And here also Tormund Thunderfist, Husband to Bears, the Mead-king of Ruddy Hall, Speaker to Gods and Father of Hosts."

Quote

A Dance with Dragons - Jon XII

The day had come. It was the hour of the wolf. Soon enough the sun would rise, and four thousand wildlings would come pouring through the Wall. Madness. Jon Snow ran his burned hand through his hair and wondered once again what he was doing. Once the gate was opened there would be no turning back. It should have been the Old Bear to treat with Tormund. It should have been Jaremy Rykker or Qhorin Halfhand or Denys Mallister or some other seasoned man. It should have been my uncle. It was too late for such misgivings, though. Every choice had its risks, every choice its consequences. He would play the game to its conclusion.

    

Edited by LynnS

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, lalt said:

And sorry but, if I take into consideration the so called Asha fragment

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Before him rode three banner bearers. One bore the stag and lion standard of King Tommen, another the Twin Towers of House Frey. The third brandished a bloody head impaled upon the point of a tall spear. An old man's head it was, white-bearded and one eyed. The spear was... with a pale wood, almost white... along its upper shaft had... dark and red. Crowfood Umber, Asha knew. The old northman had fought to his death, it seemed. Perhaps the foe had thought the sight of the severed head would take the hearts of the...

I think that is not a Frey. Not Hosteen or Big Walder, as many believe. I bet that is Mance. 

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Stannis ground his teeth. "He informs me that Umber will not fight Umber, for any cause."
Jon was not surprised. "If it comes to swords, see where Hother's banner flies and put Mors on the other end of the line."
The Giantslayer disagreed. "You would make His Grace look weak. I say, show our strength. Burn Last Hearth to the ground and ride to war with Crowfood's head mounted on a spear, as a lesson to the next lord who presumes to offer half his homage."

The few who live that long. If Stannis placed the free folk in the van, most would perish quickly. "Drinking from Mance Rayder's skull may give Mors Umber pleasure, but seeing wildlings cross his lands will not. The free folk have been raiding the Umbers since the Dawn of Days, crossing the Bay of Seals for gold and sheep and women. One of those carried off was Crowfood's daughter. Your Grace, leave the wildlings here. Taking them will only serve to turn my lord father's bannermen against you."

I wasn't aware of this "Asha fragment" before. Is it real or is it fan fiction? If it's real, then It's got me very intrigued and I'd like to read it! It would be quite important if Crowsfood's head ended up on a spike. I'm also a confused by Tommen's banner. I don't recall any being at Winterfell. I'm probably misremembering, but I thought there were mostly Frey, Manderly, Bolton, Ryswell, Dustin, and Hother Umber's men at Winterfell?

Mors "Crowfood" Umber split from his brother Hother "Whoresbane", and allied with Stannis. Mors is (or was?) the one that dug trenches outside Winterfell and blew horns to disorient the men inside Winterfell. If Umber won't fight Umber, then Hother might actually be allied with Mors even if Mors is outside the walls. The Umbers hate the Boltons and are only pretending to ally with them, because the Lannisters are still holding the Greatjon Umber hostage. 

You know, over the years I've read various interpretations, and for some reason I recall several people comparing the writing of the Pink Letter to the letter Ramsay sent to the Greyjoys with skin from Theon. There is no description of the letter writing of the Pink Letter though. The only comparison that might be done is content.

Quote

 

ADWD chapter 26 The Wayward Bride

"My lady," The maester's voice was anxious, as it always was when he spoke to her. "A bird from Barrowton." He thrust the parchment at her as if he could not wait to be rid of it. It was tightly rolled and sealed with a button of hard pink wax.

Barrowton. Asha tried to recall who ruled in Barrowton. Some northern lord, no friend of mine. And that seal...the Boltons of the Dreadfort went into battle beneath pink banners spattered with little drops of blood. It only stood to reason that they would use pink sealing wax as well.

This is poison that I hold, she thought. I ought to burn it. Instead she cracked the seal. A scrap of leather fluttered down into her lap. When she read the dry brown words, her black mood grew blacker still. Dark wings, dark words. The ravens never brought glad tidings. The last message sent to Deepwood had been from Stannis Baratheon, demanding homage. This was worse. "The northmen have taken Moat Cailin."

"The Bastard of Bolton?" asked Qarl, beside her.

"Ramsay Bolton, Lord of Winterfell, he signs himself. But there are other names as well." Lady Dustin, Lady Cerwyn, and four Ryswells had appended their own signatures beneath his. Beside them was drawn a crude giant, the mark of some Umber.

Those were done in maester's ink, made of soot and coal tar, but the message above was scrawled in brown in a huge, spiky hand. It spoke of the fall of Moat Cailin, of the triumphant return of the Warden of the North to his domains, of a marriage soon to be made. The first words were, "I write this letter in the blood of Ironmen," the last, "I send you each a piece of prince. Linger in my lands, and share his fate."

Asha had believed her little brother dead. Better dead than this. The scrap of skin had fallen into her lap. She held it to the candle and watched the smoke curl up, until the last of it had been consumed and the flame was licking at her fingers.

 

I think one of the important details from the Pink Letter is the demand for Jon Snow to come to Winterfell, whereas the letters Ramsay sent out to announce that the Ironmen had taken Moat Cailin warned people to stay away. 

Another observation...in his letter to Asha, Ramsay signed the letter simply as Ramsay Bolton, Lord of Winterfell. In the Pink Letter its signed Ramsay Bolton, Trueborn Lord of Winterfell. In no way, shape, or form is Ramsay "trueborn". Being legitimized does not equate becoming trueborn. I suppose the inclusion was intended to prick at Jon's bastardy, but unless I'm misremembering, has Ramsay ever claimed to be trueborn in the past?

 

 

 

Edited by Melifeather

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4 hours ago, Black Crow said:

First, the statements are either all or mostly true or false - yes, yes, I know, but either Ramsay won in which case they are consistent as the aftermath of that victory. Alternatively, Ramsay didn't win a famous victory, in which case its all lies.

I'm guessing that both hosts are snow bound and their men so weakened at the moment, that the can't move or do much of anything. The last action we saw:

Quote

A Dance with Dragons

Mors camps outside Winterfell during a blizzard, his men repeatedly blowing warhorns to cause confusion and to draw out the Bolton host. There he is able to capture Theon Greyjoy and Jeyne Poole, when both are fleeing Winterfell and their captor, Ramsay Bolton, the heir of Roose. Also during this time, the Braavosi banker Tycho Nestoris comes looking for Stannis but meets Mors instead. Mors sends Theon and Jeyne with Tycho and his escort to Stannis at a crofters' village.[10]

Yes I agree the distances from the Wall to Winterfell make it difficult to make a timely entrance.  I think Stannis needs to move quickly or perish.  There are some interesting ideas concerning Theon and Bran on another thread (hat tip Sweetsuray and Kissed by Fire).  

Spoiler

In tWoW,  there are cries to execute Theon either by fire or in front of a Weirwood tree.  The crows join in with "Tree, Tree, Tree and Theon, Theon, Theon.   If Theon is brought before the tree, then Bran may skinchange Theon and give Stannis critical information on how to breach the Walls.  The secret passages that Bran discovered during his explorations.  In which case Stannis may take Winterfell.

Bran will be highly motivated to use Theon as the speaker for the gods (and he already has experience skinchanging Hodor).  If he knows what lies in the heart of Winterfell; he won't want Ramsey getting his hands on it.  

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In my understanding we should not try to analyze the handwritings of the letters. In Westeros, not many people know how to write, and those who can probably don't do it regularly unless they are maesters. So most of the writings would look a bit odd because of lack of practice, and if a letter were faked it would most likely pass unless the information it gives is obviously wrong.

Long story short: we should focus on the content.

When Tormund says there is some truth to it, it implies some of it is wrong. Basically, he cautiously voices that the letter is fake.

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2 hours ago, alienarea said:

Long story short: we should focus on the content.

I agree. Content and tone seem different. The first letter seemed more...weirdly poetic. Blood of Ironmen. Piece of prince. Linger in my lands...understated threats. Contrast that with the bold demands of the Pink Letter and it sounds too - desperate.

Ramsay has the upper hand. He's safely behind Winterfell's double walls. Anybody that has to travel in a snowstorm to get to him is already at a disadvantage, so why would Ramsay so desperately need Theon, fArya, Val, fAemon, Selyce, and Melisandre?

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2 hours ago, Melifeather said:

I agree. Content and tone seem different. The first letter seemed more...weirdly poetic. Blood of Ironmen. Piece of prince. Linger in my lands...understated threats. Contrast that with the bold demands of the Pink Letter and it sounds too - desperate.

Ramsay has the upper hand. He's safely behind Winterfell's double walls. Anybody that has to travel in a snowstorm to get to him is already at a disadvantage, so why would Ramsay so desperately need Theon, fArya, Val, fAemon, Selyce, and Melisandre?

Additionally, Ramsay is a sadistic psychopath, but not stupid. He's an experienced hunter, too.

Without the snowstorm and/or Stannis, Ramsay would enjoy hunting and catching Theon and fArya.

Whoever wrote the letter asks for seven people:

fArya

Selyse

Shireen

Melisandre

Val

fAemon

Theon (Reek)

If all those were at Winterfell, what  would they be needed for?

 

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I know the show is the show and the books are the books, but as Tormund said about thevPink Letter: "There is some truth in it" (paraphrased).

In the books we learn from Melisandre that she is running out of potions and doesn't have much time left. In the show she dissolves (?) outside of Winterfell after the White Walkers are defeated.

We also know that Mance opened graves in the Frostfangs and we speculate he is hiding in the crypts now.

GRRM still wants to finish in two books :P and the next one is called "The Winds of Winter".

We do not have a Night King (yet?) in the books to lead the white walkers.

Speculationn (where's redriver when you need him?):

The storm around Winterfell is Winter coming. Because there isn't a Stark in Winterfell. Mance needs to open a special grave in the crypts so that the ancient Starks reunite with winter (their cold hell?) and all (the storm, the white walkers, ...) can go home. Like the ghosts called by Aragorn in LotR. Somehow Mance needs Melisandre for this, and the Pink Letter's purpose is getting her to Winterfell.

And if Mance has to make a deal with the devil (Ramsay) for this, he will do it.

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