A follow-up to this post. No tourney in ASOIAF goes uneventful and as expected. Something happens (most often bad) or someone turns up. Here I am listing a few possible surprise guests who could (re)enter Sansa’s storyline through the Tourney of Winged Knights.
Brynden Tully: In AFFC, Jaime thinks ‘If I were Blackfish, where would I go?’. If Tom o’Sevens did not have a meeting with Edmure, the Vale was a likely place. Blackfish stayed in the Vale for a long time, and he must have friends there – whether for vengeance or survival. Riverrun has fallen by the last Alayne chapter of AFFC, allowing BF time to reach the Vale. However, the more widely accepted theory is that Blackfish will try to rescue Jeyne and Edmure and other hostages by leading the BwB to attack Forley Prester’s entourage. We know Jeyne Westerling appears on TWOW prologue, so this would be how we finds out what happened to Blackfish. Showing this event in a Prologue implies there may not be any PoV character (Brienne or Jaime) present. If Blackfish knew Sansa was at the Vale, he might go there, but the Blackfish we saw in AFFC was intent upon protecting his queen (ie Jeyne). I’d say it is more characteristic of Blackfish to lead an assault of the Lannisters, than to go a seemingly wild-goose chase in the Vale. He could always go to the Vale after fixinp up stuff at Riverlands, though if that was the case the news of the fall of the Twins or like will reach the Vale sooner or later.
Brienne and/or Jaime: When we last saw Brienne, it was near Pennytree, abducting Jaime. Clearly the BwB has spies all over Riverlands, many of them targeting Freys and Lannisters. Brienne could try to escape with Jaime, but GRRM has confirmed that the reason for Brienne choosing ‘Sword’ over ‘Noose’ was to save Podrick’s life. In that case, Brienne will keep the promise of bringing Jaime to LSH. What happens after is anyone’s guess. Would Jaime or Brienne convince the BwB that Sansa would have gone to the Vale and they are in a good position to bring her to LSH? Both Brienne and Jaime swore oaths to Catelyn about returning her daughters. There is the distant possibility that Jaime or Brienne will try to lengthen their lives by bringing some of the BwB to the Vale, to look for Sansa. Unlike last time, they will be watched by men loyal to Catelyn and smarter and less noticeable than Cleos Frey or Brienne. The Vale still being loyal to the Iron Throne, Jaime can use his position as the Lord Commander of the KG to find and abduct Sansa if she was in the Vale. LF may know Jaime went missing, but Jaime can cook up a story to cover his current mission and his temporary loyalty to BwB.
Podrick Payne: If Brienne or Jaime goes to Vale, Pod might also go. Unlike either of them, he can participate in the melee. (Jaime is one-handed and Brienne is a woman accused of kingslaying). Maybe Jaime will knight Pod and send him to the melee? Having served as Tyrion’s squire in the past, Pod is familiar with Sansa enough to recognize her even with dyed hair. Except Littlefinger and Mad Mouse, no one in the Vale is likely to recognize Pod. Sansa knows Pod to be harmless and goodhearted, so he has a better chance of earning Sansa’s trust than either Brienne or Jaime.
Ser Gendry of Hollow Hill: I don’t think either Thoros or Blackfish (if he’s with BwB) think it’s a good idea to parade Gendry around a place where Robert Baratheon spent so many years of his youth. I do think Thoros knows who Gendry is, and did not mention it so save the boy – they are in the middle of an outlaw band who’d sell anyone for money, and Thoros seemed more goodhearted than the rest, and maybe wanted to protect his friend’s son. However, Gendry will have some role in the story, and him going to Vale opens some interesting possibilities – most important one is that he could meet Mya, and I think both of them will be happy to find someone whom they can call family. It will be a nice change from the highborns who always use them to discard later. I’m not implying Arya discarded Gendry, but after his mother died, he never had anyone to call his own – Arya was his friend, but he knew she was too bloody highborn and they could not remain friends forever. But no matter what happens, a sibling will always be a sibling. If Gendry attends the melee, he may do it as a traveling smith than as a knight, as it is a good job to collect information. Gendry himself may want to enter as a mystery knight, though.
Lem Lemoncloak: If some of the BwB makes it into the Vale, Lem is one well-suited to enter the melee without arising suspicion. All he needs is to don a different cloak.
Lady Stoneheart: Only if she hears news that Sansa could be at the Vale. As far as we know, BwB does not have spies in the Vale. So this is unlikely. Also LSH’s revenge spree seems destined to happen around Riverlands. I only added her because it would be nice to have a meeting between her and Littlefinger.
Hallis or Harwin: I believe one of them is the ‘translator’ whom Brienne meets in AFFC. If BwB sends someone to Vale searching for Sansa, a Northmen from Winterfell is a good option. He will be recognized as a Northman, but many Northmen who came down with Robb must be wandering about after the war, so it won’t be hard for him to keep his head down. LSH and BwB would expect Sansa to come with one of her father’s men – though I don’t think Sansa would trust any of these BwB messengers.
Hyle Hunt: Another unrecognizable person. As Randyll Tarly’s household knight who was last seen near Maidenpool, he could also be present in the Vale under the pretense of going to Gulltown or something. LF or Lothor Brune may know him, given LF’s familiarity with the Tyrells (not sure about his familiarity with Tyrell bannermen).
Septon Meribald: The person who will have least trouble wandering around. His regular coverage area is Riverlands, and BwB let him go before they interrogated Brienne, so it’s unlikely that he’ll be at the Vale on BwB’s bidding. If (a big if) he somehow ends up in the Gates of the Moon, say to gather goodies for the poor from the chivalrous knights and lords, a wandering septon will be totally welcome in the Andal-heavy Vale. Not sure if he will meet Sansa, but if he does, he too could recognize her (if she is seen in the sept praying under torches or candles that makes her hair look auburn). This is a very weak possibility, but since he’s heard all about Brienne’s mission, and as a wandered by nature, he can’t be neglected.
Sandor Clegane: While most fans expect him to reenter Sansa’s storyline, this tourney is not the place. There is no reason for the Elder Brother to send a gravedigger to the Vale. If Quiet Isle was attacked, leaving Sandor homeless, he may decide to find to some new place to live, but Quiet Isle looked safe.
Arya Stark: It would be great to have Arya, a walking lie-detector and Stark-to-the-core around Littlefinger. We know she will eventually return to Westeros, but we don’t know to where. Most theories I’ve read suggests the North or Riverlands. If by some chance Arya ends up near this tourney, it could be as a mission from FM (even to kill Alayne whose name she does not know). Whether by mission or by her free will, Arya will be under some disguise and no one would be able to recognize her – except perhaps Gendry (if he’s in the Vale too), who as a smith, might think that her sword looks familiar. While Arya seems poised to leave the HoBaW, I don’t think the Braavos storyline is over, and the Tourney must happen the chapter following Alayne I in TWOW. Overall, I think there is only slim chance for Arya to make an appearance in Alayne II.
There are other possibilities for pawns and players of the game to look to the Vale, however, as the Alayne I chapter seems to be lagging behind many other important events (Cersei’s trial, Aegon’s invasion, Stannis’s march etc), I have ignored the toruney-crashers from those quarters. Also ignored my personal favorite surprise appearance to happen in the Vale – Tyrion riding Viserion.