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Proposal how Aegon captured Storm's End


sweetsunray
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By the end of Arianne II (excerpt) she learns that Aegon and Jon Connington have captured and control over Storm's End.

It seems to baffle the mind how he could have done so, with not even 5000 men, no elephants, when Mace Tyrell didn't even manage that with 20 000 men. Yes, GC = 10000 k, but the ones of the Stepstones haven't joined yet (we are meant to believe). Aegon also needs to leave some men behind at Cape Wrath and Estermont (and Tarth) to occupy the lands and castles, even if with token sergeants and soldiers.

Supposedly they "marched" on Storm's End. Even although Mace Tyrell brought the majority of his siege host to KL once his daughter was arrested. Since he journeyed fast with that host at the time to KL, it's safe to say he traveled mostly with the cavalry. What remained with Rowan would be mostly foot and bowmen. But that doesn't mean that remainder host with Rowan is small: likely between 5000-8000, just to at least lock SE from the land (cause Paxter Redwyne sailed south). There's no way that Aegon confronted that army with 4000 men and then stormed the castle and captured it (like Loras allegedly did). That's just nonsense only Cersei can fall for.

It's possible that Lord Rowan is a "friend in the Reach", and turned their cloak, but that wouldn't help much with capturing SE. If Tyrell's 20k couldn't do it, then 9-17k (estimate of adding 1/2 GC + rowan min and adding full GC + rowan max). And I'm sorry, but 24 elephants are not going to do it either.

There's only one major component that could lead to capture: the surrender of SE. But with just 200 men who expected to be besieged at some point, they would still have some  stock. And if Mace's 20k didn't do it, then how did Aegon do it?

Well how did Stannis do it? The castellan was Cortnay Penrose and his second in command, was Lord Elwood Meadows (a green young man of about 20). Stannis knew that once Cortnay was dead, Elwood would surrender. And Elwood did. Now, Stannis did not make Elwood his castellan. He chose a man who remained loyal to him after the defeat at the Blackwater: others fled, surrendered, knelt to Joffrey. But not this guy: Gilbert Farring. So, we have an utter loyal Gilbert Farring in command who will not surrender, and a younger man who will surrender the moment his commander dies.

So, somehow Gilbert Farring got killed. Aegon has no Mel to make a shadow baby with, so that's not the solution. But a crew could have sailed into the cave with the landing, pretending to resupply SE with food (they would be getting to live on lean meat now, those 200), like the Onion Knight once did. This allowed them a welcome or at least some of the "smugglers" to get close to Gilbert Farring, kill him and then bring in more to outnumber the 200 inside (minus 1) and force Elwood to surrender the castle.

But how would the GC have such a ship? It was a Volantene fleet that dropped them off all over the place: Stepstones, Estermont, Cape Wrath. Scattered because of a storm after Lys, and they sailed back home. The GC doesn't have any ships of their own and they don't have any crews. Ok, Estermont might have some cogs. But they would never trust that crew. (there's a reason why I'm not including Tarth yet). No, they found an ally, or should I say two allies on the Stepstones - Aurane Waters and Sallador Saan.

We know that Aurane Waters basically conned Cersei and the crown in building him three war drommonds. The crew he put on those ships were poachers, thieves and young men as captains of his own choosing. Cersei allowed him to put them in the water to "stop Mace Tyrell", but when she was taken captive, Aurane sailed away with those very expensive new drommonds, never to be seen again. Meanwhile at the Stepstones some "new pirate" who calls himself "Lord of the Waters" has made the Stepstones his base, and he has three-decked warships. Like drommonds? Bg enough to take elephants on board and 5000 men of the GC stranded on the Stepstones? Maybe that would be a little bit too much even for the drommonds.

And then we have Sallador Saan, who sailed from Eastwatch and was supposed to deliver Davos at White Harbor for his diplomatic missions. But a storm did destroy a majority of Saan's ships. He was also fed up with Stannis' promises and he doesn't like to work for free, which he has been doing for 2 years now. He even threatened to throw Davos overboard so he could swim to White Harbor. He didn't do that. Davos was still an old friend. Instead he dropped him off at the Sisters. Davos thinks to himself how Sallador always goes on about "gold". And when Davos asked what Sallador planned to do, he said he was going to do pirating at ... yes... the Stepstones. But that's difficult if you have lost the majority of your 27 ships and must limp to the Stepstones with the remainder and there's also a "rival pirate" with 3 warships. But these two men would also know each other. Aurane Waters is a bastard of House Velaryon and House Velaryon had sworn fealty to Stannis on Dragonstone. And then 5000 golden company men arrive with elephants, seeking aid to get to the Stormlands.

But they have to wait a while, because Paxter Redwyne is sailing south and passing through the Stepstones. 

And then we learn something interesting of Velana Toland of Ghost Hill: she's the one who tells of this new pirate, but also tells Arianne it was a good thing she didn't come by sea to Ghost Hill. And she even explains why. "Since the Redwyne fleet passed through the Stepstones south to Dorne, ships with strange sails have been seen crawling Cape Wrath, the straight of Tarth and Shipbreaker Bay.

If you don't pay attention you might mistake those for the Volantene fleet (which is the likely intention of George). But that cannot be. The Volantene fleet didn't go that far north. The closest they got to Westeros was Cape Wrath and Estermont. They wanted to get home asap. They wouldn't have sailed into Shipbreaker Bay, a notorious stormy bay you don't sail unless you know it. And well, Salladar Saan knows it. And he knows well enough how Davos got to be the Onion Knight, and he would be a familiar face to Gilbert Farring. Sallador Saan (corsair and smuggler for Stannis) could sail up right into the cove with the landing, claiming he's resupplying them on the order of Stannis and he has wine. He either invites Farring for a drink in his cabin or gets invited in the castle for a drink. And voila, there's a normal assassin inside the castle and the rest of the SE skeleton crew gets subdued. Meanwhile other ships and Aurane Waters sail to Tarth to capture the seat of Brienne's ancestral home.

What is the final clue: Haldon tells Arianne she will sail for SE. Haldon isn't just going to trust any merchant or sailor to get her to SE. And well that area was after all crawling with ships with strange sails. So, the ship that is sailng Arianne to SE must be one of those ships and must be an ally to Aegon.

This is how SE got captured, and the whole GC (except for those that remain at the various castles) with elephants is at SE. Once Rowan saw that, he likely joined Aegon's army too. All of a sudden we have an army of 14000-17000 men who can use Tyrell's own stone throwing mechanisms at Mace Tyrell. And Mace Tyrell is either even numbered or outnumbered. And Mace isn't the military genius that Randyll Tarly is said to be.

Edited by sweetsunray
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On 9/6/2023 at 8:44 PM, sweetsunray said:

It seems to baffle the mind how he could have done so, with not even 5000 men, no elephants, when Mace Tyrell didn't even manage that with 20 000 men.

Connington said that they would take Storm's End by guile, not by force.

There is a popular theory that they would approach the castle during the night with the golden banners of the Golden Company and the garrison would mistake them for the yellow Baratheon banners and let JonCon and company in. Trojan Horse style.

Edited by Takiedevushkikakzvezdy
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11 hours ago, Takiedevushkikakzvezdy said:

Connington said that they would take Storm's End by guile, not by force.

There is a popular theory that they would approach the castle during the night with the golden banners of the Golden Company and the garrison would mistake them for the yellow Baratheon banners and let JonCon and company in. Trojan Horse style.

Yeah, basically this.

They would attack and quickly overwhelm the siege garrison under Rowan and then pretend/imply that Stannis hired them. They could have some of their Stormlander levies vouch for the Golden Company fighting for Stannis and/or use some Baratheon banners they might have captured in the castles they took. Obviously such banners and standards wouldn't be found only in Storm's End.

In any case, anyone breaking the siege which is in effect for quite some time now is going to come as a relief to the garrison of Storm's End. So they will open the gate.

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11 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Yeah, basically this.

I think we also got a bit of foreshadowing for it in one of Arianne's Winds chapters:

Quote

Banners?” asked Arianne.

“Gold. On the gatehouse and the keep.”

“What device did they bear?”

“None that I could see, but there was no wind. The banners hung limp from their staffs.”

That was vexing. The Golden Company’s banners were cloth-of-gold, devoid of arms and ornament… but the banners of House Baratheon were also gold, though theirs displayed the crowned stag of Storm’s End. Limp golden banners could be either.

 

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10 hours ago, Takiedevushkikakzvezdy said:

I think we also got a bit of foreshadowing for it in one of Arianne's Winds chapters:

Yeah. But honestly, I don't think that is enough. There has to be some talk at the gates, too, etc. And also at least something that looks like an attack on Mathis Rowan's forces.

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  • 1 month later...
On 9/11/2023 at 2:17 PM, Takiedevushkikakzvezdy said:

Connington said that they would take Storm's End by guile, not by force.

He did not say the "not by force" part.  Only the "by guile" part.

He's holding back, I guess.  Not saying everything he knows.  "Guile" in this case is a euphemism for sorcery, and some of those friends in the Reach are sorcerers.

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 9/11/2023 at 8:17 PM, Takiedevushkikakzvezdy said:

Connington said that they would take Storm's End by guile, not by force.

There is a popular theory that they would approach the castle during the night with the golden banners of the Golden Company and the garrison would mistake them for the yellow Baratheon banners and let JonCon and company in. Trojan Horse style.

Which makes no sense, since Stannis' banners aren't anything remotely like the standard yellow Baratheon.

Yes, I know the quote of Arianne's excerpt chapter. Imo it's a red herring. George put the mystery out how JonCon would take SE way before Arianne's excerpt. By raising the question already in aDwD for the reader "how is he going to pull that one off?" the tactics and who will be involved was already set up in aFfC and aDwD. It's not going to be Arianne in tWoW thinking to herself that golden banners can be mistaken for Baratheon banners that neither Stannis Baratheon or Tommen Baratheon use.

And you're ignoring that there are two factions that need to be misled here: the forces besieging SE and the garrison inside SE.

Edited by sweetsunray
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On 10/24/2023 at 3:13 AM, Gilbert Green said:

 "Guile" in this case is a euphemism for sorcery, and some of those friends in the Reach are sorcerers.

Team Varys is a strict "no-sorcery" team. Varys is the "magician" of team-exiles (per Illyrio in aGoT as Arya overhears them), and his magic are mummer tricks. JonCon ain't using sorcery. 

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