The upcoming tourney in the Vale poses all sort of possibilites to happen. The Winged Knights was Alayne’s idea, or so she thinks. It is hard to tell with people around Littlefinger. At any rate, there is going to be a grand tourney in the Vale (Gates of the Moon to be precise), hosted by Nestor Royce and sponsered by Petyr Baelish. The young knights who earn the top 8 positions will constitute ‘Brothehood of Winged Knights’, who will stay with Robert Arryn, guarding him, for three years.
First, the official details. This will be an invite-only jousting event between 64 young knights. The known participants include Harrold Hardyng, Mychel Redfort, Ossifer Lipps, Uthor Shett, Lyn Corbray, Owen, Roland Waynwood and Wallace Waynwood. If some of Alayne’s dance partners will also compete for the wings, the list also includes Ben Coldwater, Andrew Tollett, Ser Byron, Ser Morgarth, Ser Albar Royce, three Sunderlands. That makes sixteen. Lipps is the dullest knight in Vale, and the Sunderlands does not have a reputation for fighters. If half of what Dolorous Edd said about his family were true, I won’t hold out hope for Ser Andrew Tollett either, but Edd himself has proven himself by surviving the Night’s Watch so far, including the great ranging. Star contestent, Harrold Hardyng is considered “nowhere skilled enough to win a place among the winged knights.” If he wishes, Littlefinger can take a leaf out of Gormon Peake’s book, to make Harry win the wings by fixing of the lists. Since Harry is the future lord of Vale, I doubt many would complain about him winning. Much like how it happened with John the Fiddler in The Mystery Knight.
For the uninvited knights, there will be a melee, in which Ser Shadrich intends to participate (unless he runs into a bag of gold, i.e kidnap Sansa). There are fine daggers for every guest. I would advise everyone who got a dagger to keep theirs safe because, should one of these daggers be found bloodied near a crime scene, the person with a missing dagger is in for great trouble. After all, this tourney is sponsered by a man who caused a war using a false accusation about a dagger. The melee is a good opportunity for someone outside the Vale to barge into Sansa’s storyline, and we will discuss more about it. Before that, it’s worth having a good look at the participants.
- Lyn Corbray – Littlefinger’s spy, homosexual, probably the best fighter in Vale. Wields Lady Forlorn, the Valyrian steel sword of House Corbray. Ostensibly in desperate need of gold. Fought heroically in Robert’s rebellion. Lost his father to Targaryen loyalists. Lyn does a very convincing impression of hating Littlefinger while getting paid by LF for being a double-agent. Too convincing to be fake, as Alayne’s thoughts suggest. It is worth noting that Littlefinger is not the only person who can buy people out. (For example, Varys and the Golden Company will be looking for easily swayed lords to rally to Aegon’s cause. The father of Harry’s soon-to-be spurned lover is the richest man in Gulltown. Both parties have reason to want Littlefinger dead.) Lyn appears to have no love for his elder brother, Lord Lyonel. If Lyonel died childless, Lyn would have inherited the lordship. But Lyn is not going have children either – does he consider his own need for gold more important than the future of his house? If you go for ‘psychology of the individual’, will an excellent fighter from a highborn family like Lyn Corbray respect a coin-clinker like Littlefinger? If Lyn truly is poor, it is more reason to hate Littlefinger and his rise in power. Lyn could well be using Littlefinger as long as it served his purposes, but he has the looks of a snake in the grass, ready to strike at any moment. Edited on 7/28: The Corbrays have also supported the Blackfyres in the past.
- Roland Waynwood – Eldest grandson of Anya Waynwood. Arrogant. Good dancer. Good talker. Could have a claim to Winterfell (the long faces suggest there may have been Stark women married to House Waynwood). His attitude towards his recently knighted and visibly shy cousin is comparable to the red-apple Fossoway from ‘The Hedge Knight’. Roland talks sweetly to Alayne.
- Wallace Waynwood – Lady Anya’s youngest son. Younger than his cousin Roland. Has a stutter when he speaks. Recently knighted. Bad at dancing and bad at talking. Honest and kind-natured. Alayne behaves gently to him when they meet and later when they dance, and this would have made a positive impression about Alayne on Wallace. Though Roland calls him the broken spoke in the Waynwood wheel, we do not know how well Wallace can fight. He is lacking in experience, but not many people have seen him joust, either. This could be an advantage of sorts. We know from the examples of Brienne and Pod that socially awkward people can be resourceful in the battlefield. We know from Jorah’s story that sometimes a sweet maiden’s favor will also boost a knight’s chances. On the first look, Wallace Waynwood strike a likable figure, which means he is either going to die in the next chapter, or he is going to emerge a heroic figure (not the Jon or Dany type of hero, but a Sam or Pod type of hero).
- Harrold Hardyng – Handsome lord-in-waiting, newly knighted. Has one bastard daughter and another one on the way. Easily charmed by beautiful women. Of all the things he could worry about in the prospect of marrying Littlefinger’s daughter, the one he mentions is ‘she might look like her father’. Harry has been compared to young Robert Baratheon (by readers), but to me he is more like Edmure Tully. Despite easy looks and disregard for women’s honor, Harry is not what Donal Noye would call true steel at all. But he does have a cheerful nature like Robert. His initial courtesies to Alayne (asking her for a dance) were clearly the result of Lady Anya’s orders, but by the end of the chapter, he is captivated by Alayne. Lady Anya may or may not have asked Harry to beg for Alayne’s favor for the tourney, but he seem to mean it when he asks Alayne’s favor – not forced at all. Harry’s growing interest in Alayne is going to cause unease among a number of people – Robert Arryn and Myranda Royce for sure – they are the lost lovers. Harry’s current mistress (Saffron) may not be highborn, but given that her father is the richest man in Gulltown, she can’t be blamed to expect Harry will marry her. After all, Lyonel Corbray had just married a merchant’s daughter. If Mya Stone is angry at Mychel Redfort, imagine Saffron’s fury at being separated from Harry. Alayne made Harry promise that he will make a clean break with Saffron in the event of Alayne-Harry marriage. If Saffron was not hoping for marriage, she and her father could have at least hoped for a high place at court, like Aegon’s mistresses did. Overall, Alayne should watch her step.
- Mychel Redfort – Squired for Lyn Corbray, newly knighted, considered gallant, but betrayed Mya Stone in love. Married to Ysilla Royce. Mychel is expected to win a place among the winged knights – if he does stay with Robert for three years, there is a scope for a relationship to grow with Mya. But Mya is the daughter of Robert Baratheon, who waged a war to win back his betrothed. Mya does not have armies, but she can take revenge on Mychel by some way – poison or rigging the tourney are options. I doubt Mya herself will come up with an active plan to harm Mychel, but someone else could hurt Mychel for Mya’s favor. (Lothor Brune for himself, Alayne or Myranda via Lyn Corbray for their own schemes)
- Three Sunderlands – I wouldn’t have included them, but I really liked the Davos chapter at Sisterton. From what Godric Borrell said, these three must be the sons of Triston Sunderlands. As fighters, there are not important. But the general vibe we get from Sisterton is that they always play safe, but make risks too, to get gold. Triston Sunderlands is in want for gold because he can’t afford to buy horses for his seven sons. If the mad mouse steals away Sansa, he can’t escape with her alone, he will need help. The best place to look for help in exchange for gold for a dishonorable act is the Sunderlands – rest of the Vale nobility are too stiff-necked. If Mad Mouse and Sansa reaches Sisterton (Not sure if there is a connection between them – the Sunderland sigil and Mad Mouse’s coat of arms have similar river design), there is a possibility that Borrell/friends will convince Mad Mouse to sell Sansa to Stannis or Jon instead – he might even know about the Iron Bank’s dealing with Stannis. Mad Mouse have served Stannis before – for all the Mad Mouse knows, Stannis needs Sansa more than Varys/Qyburn needs her – Varys/Qyburn needs her for Cersei to kill (when Shadrich started looking for Sansa, Varys had was at KL – he mentions to Tyrion that he has offered rewards for news of Sansa), but Stannis can win the whole North with Sansa, so he should pay more for her. ETA: The Sunderlands were part of the first two Blackfyre rebellions. His bannermen were not happy at the losses they suffered, but should the Golden Company look for allies in the Vale, Sunderlands is a good place to start.