Honor has its Costs



In A Page from History I introduced the concept of a false flag attack on the Dreadfort. Such an attack seems to be the only viable option for advancing Stannis’s campaign against Roose Bolton. More accurately, I proposed two different ways in which this plot could be carried out—one using wildlings and the other involving the ironborn.

Then in The Captive Must Obey I made my first foray into the theoretical wildling mission. I provided a thorough assessment of Val’s motives and opportunity for escape. I revealed that there was almost certainly a secret pact or deal made between the wildlings and Stannis, one which involved Val and concerned the loyalty of the wildlings.

However, the essay did not completely substantiate my argument: it does not articulate that Val had the means of escape, nor does it actually present any reasoning or evidence that she actually did escape. Furthermore, it does not discuss what purpose Val’s escape would serve, nor how she would proceed from there.

This essay serves as the fulfillment of my promise. To the best of my ability, I will argue the following points:

Val had readily available means of escaping Castle Black: disguises, distractions, access to transportation, likely co-conspirators and more.

The purpose for Val’s escape was to assemble a force of wildlings, and subsequently march on the Dreadfort.

The objective of the mission: to capture the Dreadfort and to lure the Boltons from Winterfell.

The timing of these events was coordinated: Stannis, Melisandre, Val, possibly even Mance established a ‘signal’ to commence the escape.

A secondary benefit of the escape and attack was the hopeful oathbreaking of Jon Snow.

It is my sincere hope that by the end of this essay you believe—or can appreciate—the value, probability and execution of any hypothetical ‘wildling mission’ on Stannis’s behalf.


  1. Incognito. Why Val was indeed a princess of sorts.
  2. A Drunken Giant. Wun Wun as a barrier and distraction.
  3. Conclusions.


Wildlings-wildlings-36936737-1600-926As I mentioned in The Captive Must Obey, Val successfully negotiated with Jon and had the “wildling prince” moved to her chambers in Hardin’s tower. This is important because Hardin’s tower is much less secure; indeed the only other inhabitants are a giant (Wun Wun), a wildling (Leathers), and two wet nurses.

It is these wet nurses that now interest me the most. It’s not too difficult to see why…

I believe the wet nurses present Val with an impressive means of leaving Hardin’s tower without the knowledge of Jon’s guards.

Let’s start with what we know of these wet nurses:

Old Flint and The Norrey had been given places of high honor just below the dais. Both men had been too old to march with Stannis; they had sent their sons and grandsons in their stead. But they had been quick enough to descend on Castle Black for the wedding. Each had brought a wet nurse to the Wall as well. The Norrey woman was forty, with the biggest breasts Jon Snow had ever seen. The Flint girl was fourteen and flat-chested as a boy, though she did not lack for milk. Between the two of them, the child Val called Monster seemed to be thriving.


These women have distinctly different physiques. In particular I am drawn to the big breasted Norry woman… and for a good reason.

*   *   *

Toregg’s Visit

When Toregg arrived at Castle Black from Oakenshield he first visited Val at Hardin’s Tower. Leathers says that it’s because Toregg has taken a liking to one of the nurses, Jon feels otherwise:

“Where can I find Toregg?”

“With the little monster, like as not. He’s taken a liking to one o’ them milkmaids, I hear.”

He has taken a liking to Val.


We know that rumors are spreading that Toregg attracted to one of the wet nurses, despite Jon’s disagreement with them.

  • ?
  • Why is this interesting?

First of all, Toregg is only ever shown to talk to two people in all of A Dance with Dragons: Tormund and Leathers. Indeed, Toregg talks to Leathers on at least two notable occasions: when Jon and Tormund first negotiate their truce, and after Toregg arrives from Oakenshield on his way to visit Val.

Also, Leathers lives in Hardin’s Tower… you would think he would not need to resort to rumors.

  • ?
  • You would think that Leathers might have a first-hand account of why Toregg wanted to visit Hardin’s Tower then, wouldn’t you?

More importantly: even if Toregg was truly interested in one of the milkmaids, that still places him in Hardin’s Tower—in Val’s company—with everyone at Castle Black believing he is interested in the nurses.

The rumored relationship between Toregg and a wet nurse is key.

* * *

In Disguise

The wet nurses are not prisoners. As shown, they are Norrey and Flint women brought to Castle Black by their lords and presumably upon Jon’s request.

“I can find another wet nurse. If there’s none amongst the wildlings, I will send to the mountain clans. Until such time, goat’s milk should suffice for the boy, if it please Your Grace.”


Thus they have freedom of the castle. Far more importantly they have unsupervised freedom, Val does not:

Freedom of the castle you shall have, but I regret to say you must remain a captive. I can promise that you will not be troubled by unwanted visitors, however. My own men guard Hardin’s Tower, not the queen’s. And Wun Wun sleeps in the entry hall.”


Coupling the freedom of the nurses with Toregg’s rumored interests leads to an interesting observation:

Few people would be surprised to see Toregg leave Hardin’s Tower in the company of one of milkmaids.

Herein is the reveal:

If Val could disguise herself as a wet nurse, she could leave with Toregg; bypassing Jon’s guard detail.

Women disguising themselves to either escape captivity or defy gender barriers is something that has relevance to Val, based not just on her wildling origins, but her similarity to historical figures and the prominent motif of the ‘princess in the tower’ that permeates A Song of Ice and Fire:

  • Mance and the spearwives rescue of Jeyne Poole from the upper levels of the Great Keep. Furthermore, I believe that the escape may have been based on the tales of Florian and Jonquil.
  • Two wildling girls try to pass themselves off as boys during Tormund’s surrender.
  • After the girls are revealed, Jon brings up the tragic tale of Brave Danny Flint (a girl who disguised herself as a boy to take the black).

I believe the most notable discovery is how escaping via disguise is associated with a woman I’ve already connected to Val, Daena “The Defiant” Targaryen:

Later, as a pampered prisoner in her brother’s court, Daena made several escapes, usually by dressing as a washerwoman or serving girl (once with the connivance of her cousin, Aegon).


Of course the similarities between Val and Daena cannot prove anything, they do suggest the idea of the ‘irrepressible warrior princess’ as a recurring motif in the books.

Collectively, these suggest that the idea of escaping via disguise would not escape her notice. Nor is the idea something that hasn’t already been established to the readers. It’s the sort of plot that could be revealed after-the-fact without readers feeling cheated.

* * *

The Biggest Teats

If Val was to disguise herself as a wet nurse, which one would she imitate?

As the excerpt above showed, one of the nurses was skinny as a rail, the other had the biggest breasts ever seen.

It thus occurs to me that the real question is whether or not Val would take Gilly’s son with her.

  • If Val did intend to take Gilly’s son, it’s clear that she would probably disguise herself as the big-breasted nurse, with the babe hidden in her bosom.
  • Otherwise Val might disguise herself as the skinny girl.

Given the effort Val took to gain custody of the babe I am extremely inclined to believe that Val would take the child.

*   *   *

As I said in The Captive Must Obey, Val is a compliant prisoner only because she wants to be. She is likely to escape is a situation and/or opportunity presents itself.

As shown here, the wet nurses and the rumored romance between Tormund and the nurses provide Val with the needed opportunity to escape.

What remains is to discuss the additional factors that cloak her escape and subsequently, her purpose.

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* * *


Giant-in-TunnelThe end of Jon’s story in A Dance with Dragons involves an angry giant. Wun Wun has killed Ser Patrek of King’s Mountain in an incoherent, belligerent rage.

However there’s something many readers may not have considered:

Wun Wun was quite likely an angry, drunk giant.

*   *   *

A Gigantic Appetite

Earlier in A Dance with Dragons, we are specifically informed that Wun Wun has an unhealthy attachment to wine:

“You do not want to anger him. Sheathe your steel, ser. Leathers, take Wun Wun back to Hardin’s.”

“Eat now, Wun Wun?” asked the giant.

“Eat now,” Jon agreed. To Leathers he said, “I’ll send out a bushel of vegetables for him and meat for you. Start a fire.”

Leathers grinned. “I will, m’lord, but Hardin’s is bone cold. Perhaps m’lord could send out some wine to warm us?”

“For you. Not him.” Wun Wun had never tasted wine until he came to Castle Black, but once he had, he had taken a gigantic liking to it. Too much a liking. Jon had enough to contend with just now without adding a drunken giant to the mix.


Jon clearly fears that Wun Wun would be a danger if he was drunk on wine—hell, Jon’s afraid for the giant to have a single drop. And with good reason, even sober Wun Wun can be easily provoked:

That was not to say that he was blind to the danger Wun Wun represented. The giant would lash out violently when threatened, and those huge hands were strong enough to rip a man apart.


Collectively, these observations illustrate the following:

  • Wun Wun is a dangerous creature, yet normally restrained by his own peaceful nature.
  • The giant is easily provoked, however, and reacts violently when threatened.
  • When Wun Wun is drunk, his behaviors become even more exaggerated and hazardous.

This is not to say that a drunk Wun Wun is more violent and combative. Although that may be possible, it’s entirely as likely that Wun Wun just becomes more playful and lacks the caution he should normally have around humans.

In either case, a drunk Wun Wun is a serious hazard to any nearby humans.

* * *

A Playful Hand

There is evidence to further support the argument that Wun Wun is not intrinsically a violent being:

“In the dark the dead are dancing.” Patchface shuffled his feet in a grotesque dance step. “I know, I know, oh oh oh.” At Eastwatch someone had sewn him a motley cloak of beaver pelts, sheepskins, and rabbit fur. His hat sported antlers hung with bells and long brown flaps of squirrel fur that hung down over his ears. Every step he took set him to ringing.

Wun Wun gaped at him with fascination, but when the giant reached for him the fool hopped back away, jingling. “Oh no, oh no, oh no.” That brought Wun Wun lurching to his feet. The queen grabbed hold of Princess Shireen and pulled her back, her knights reached for their swords, and Patchface reeled away in alarm, lost his footing, and plopped down on his arse in a snowdrift.

Wun Wun began to laugh.


You can see here that a perfectly sober Wun Wun, fascinated by Patchface, thought to just “reach out” for him. Although it is not specified, it seems likely that Wun Wun was going to “grab” Patchface for a closer look. This exhibits a lack of understanding of safe behavior with humans, but not violence. It exhibits a sort of ‘dangerous curiousity’.

This behavior suggests that Wun Wun is very much like a precocious child, albeit one that is fourteen feet tall and massively strong.

The concept that Wun Wun is effectively a child manifests several other times in A Dance with Dragons:

The giant was dangling a bloody corpse by one leg, the same way Arya used to dangle her doll when she was small, swinging it like a morningstar when menaced by vegetables. Arya never tore her dolls to pieces, though.


Wun Weg Wun Dar Wun howled again and gave Ser Patrek’s other arm a twist and pull. It tore loose from his shoulder with a spray of bright red blood. Like a child pulling petals off a daisy, thought Jon.


A big boy, this one. Fourteen feet, at least. Even bigger than Mag the Mighty.


It seems fair to conclude that Wun Wun has the same emotional sensitivity as a young child: he bears no ill will, but can be easily angered and when drunk may act without regard for the safety of others:

Wun Wun is not a conflict-seeking, violent creature, yet his “dangerous curiosity” makes him a challenge to manage.

Wun Wun likes to drink wine, so much so that Jon worries about a ‘drunken giant’. Obviously, drunk people (and giants) have serious lapses is thinking, judgment and impulse control.

Even a sober Wun Wun is prone to reacting violently when threatened.

Thus if Wun Wun was inebriated, it begins to explain a great deal of the giant’s behavior at the end of A Dance with Dragons.

* * *

The Drunken Obstacle

The first indication that Wun Wun is drunk stems from the giant’s continued incoherence and belligerence, well after Patrek’s death:

Wun Wun did not hear or did not understand.

Wun Weg Wun Dar Wun howled again and gave Ser Patrek’s other arm a twist and pull.

Patrek is very much dead by the time of these two excerpts: Wun Wun’s continued howling and violence to Patrek’s remains are unwarranted.

Taking this a step further, I believe that Wun Wun’s inebriation was deliberate—someone gave the giant wine, fully aware of the giant’s subsequent behavior.

Why would someone get Wun Wun drunk?

Wun Wun sleeps in the entry hall to Hardin’s Tower, where Val was staying. He is effectively one of her guards, and by far the most difficult to bypass. By unleashing a drunk giant, Wun Wun becomes a gigantic barrier:

A drunken Wun Wun prevents access to Val’s chambers.

This would force others at Castle Black into a lengthy challenge to soothe/remove Wun Wun before they could even search her chambers to check on Val.

And now you can see what I’m getting at: consider the idea that Val was already making her escape by the time of Wun Wun’s rage.

Wun Wun’s rage delays the realization that Val is no longer in her chambers.

The giant also provides a transfixing distraction.

The evidence that Wun Wun was drunk when he killed Ser Patrek seems largely circumstantial. However, I would emphasize that readers were specifically informed about Wun Wun’s penchant for boozing.

* * *

Wine for the Wildling

So the next question that arises:

How would Wun Wun get his hands on wine?

Although the specifics are indeterminate, all of the hypothetical answers to this question have one person in common: Leathers. Leathers is the wildling who acts as Wun Wun’s “caretaker”, he lives with the giant at Hardin’s Tower. And unlike Wun Wun, Leathers does have access to wine:

Leathers grinned. “I will, m’lord, but Hardin’s is bone cold. Perhaps m’lord could send out some wine to warm us?

“For you. Not him.” Wun Wun had never tasted wine until he came to Castle Black, but once he had, he had taken a gigantic liking to it. Too much a liking. Jon had enough to contend with just now without adding a drunken giant to the mix.

With this in mind there are a number of scenarios that could explain how Wun Wun became drunk:

  1. Leathers left wine in his quarters and Wun Wun helped himself to it.
  2. Leathers might have simply defied Jon, innocuously giving the giant some wine out of kindness or the like.
  3. It’s also possible that Leathers deliberately provided Wun Wun with the wine, knowing the results. This of course suggests complicity on Leather’s behalf.

*   *   *

Not at her Tower Window

In addition to arguing that Wun Wun was drunk, this section has implicitly constructed the following belief: Wun Wun’s drunkenness is a distraction—intended to delay the discovery that Val is not in Hardin’s Tower.

Is there any other evidence of Val’s absence from the tower?

I would begin by pointing out that there is no mention of Val being present at Hardin’s Tower during Wun Wun’s rage. You would expect her to observe the fight between Wun Wun and Ser Patrek from the window… because she most certainly did observe the much less noisome execution of Janos Slynt:

Jon followed them outside. Behind him, the cellar emptied. At the cage, Slynt wrenched loose for a moment and tried to make a fight of it, but Iron Emmett caught him by the throat and slammed him back against the iron bars until he desisted. By then all of Castle Black had come outside to watch. Even Val was at her window, her long golden braid across one shoulder. Stannis stood on the steps of the King’s Tower, surrounded by his knights.

Yet Jon’s point-of-view chapter fails to make any mention of Val’s presence. It’s easy to cite that popular phrase “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”, concluding that: Val may still be in the tower, perhaps even be watching—just that we readers aren’t told about it.

I would counter by pointing out that Jon’s first thought upon hearing Wun Wun’s roar was about Val’s safety:

Then he heard the shouting … and a roar so loud it seemed to shake the Wall. “That come from Hardin’s Tower, m’lord,” Horse reported. He might have said more, but the scream cut him off.

Val, was Jon’s first thought.

With that in mind, it’s fair to conclude that Jon would take note of her presence if he saw her. Thus, you have to ponder:

What in seven hells would prevent Val from being at the tower window?

What other motives might she have to avoid being seen?

Although I could wade through a miscellany of possibilities, I’d like to stick to the figurative trail:

Jon did not see Val at Hardin’s Tower because she was not there.

The idea that Wun Wun was drunk may not even be necessary for this essay to otherwise be true. I just find the mentions of wine, the giant’s behavior and other clues to be very suggestive.

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* * *


Castleblack_mood_the_wallPerhaps you’ve noticed that there is a character that is curiously at the center of many of these details: Leathers the wildling man-at-arms. He is some how conspicuously involved in many of the details presented here or in The Captive Must Obey.

Could Leathers possibly be working to aid Val in her escape and subsequent mission?

Yes! Not only is it extremely plausible, but it makes sense of a great many details.

This of course also suggests that Leathers had some knowledge of the secret Stannis-wildling conspiracy.

Leathers’s involvement is most prominently revealed in his conspicuous appearances in A Dance with Dragons, his unsurpassed level of access, and clever clues embedded in the text.

But most damning and notable are Leathers’s absences at two crucial moments in the story.

*   *   *

Leathers’s Absences

In JON XIII – ADWD, Jon encounters Leathers after departing Selyse’s quarters. At the end of their brief conversation, Jon gives Leathers a command:

“There is still much to decide. Spread the word. I want all the leading men in the Shieldhall when the evening watch begins. Tormund should be back by then. Where can I find Toregg?”

Leathers is the Jon’s designed master-at-arms, thus Leathers is one of the leading men Jon is referring to. Given that Leathers was given this command directly, one thing is clear: his presence is required at the Shieldhall.

However, Jon does not see Leathers at the Shieldhall meeting:

“I summoned you to make plans for the relief of Hardhome,” Jon Snow began. “Thousands of the free folk are gathered there, trapped and starving, and we have had reports of dead things in the wood.” To his left he saw Marsh and Yarwyck. Othell was surrounded by his builders, whilst Bowen had Wick Whittlestick, Left Hand Lew, and Alf of Runnymudd beside him. To his right, Soren Shieldbreaker sat with his arms crossed against his chest. Farther back, Jon saw Gavin the Trader and Harle the Handsome whispering together. Ygon Oldfather sat amongst his wives, Howd Wanderer alone. Borroq leaned against a wall in a dark corner. Mercifully, his boar was nowhere in evidence. “The ships I sent to take off Mother Mole and her people have been wracked by storms. We must send what help we can by land or let them die.” Two of Queen Selyse’s knights had come as well, Jon saw. Ser Narbert and Ser Benethon stood near the door at the foot of the hall. But the rest of the queen’s men were conspicuous in their absence. “I had hoped to lead the ranging myself and bring back as many of the free folk as could survive the journey.” A flash of red in the back of the hall caught Jon’s eye. Lady Melisandre had arrived. “But now I find I cannot go to Hardhome. The ranging will be led by Tormund Giantsbane, known to you all. I have promised him as many men as he requires.”

The roar was all he could have hoped for, the tumult so loud that the two old shields tumbled from the walls. Soren Shieldbreaker was on his feet, the Wanderer as well. Toregg the Tall, Brogg, Harle the Huntsman and Harle the Handsome both, Ygon Oldfather, Blind Doss, even the Great Walrus. I have my swords, thought Jon Snow, and we are coming for you, Bastard.

When you consider how exhaustive Jon’s list of attendees is, its odd that Leathers isn’t observed. Especially since Leathers was the one person to whom Jon gave the order to spread word of the meeting. The conclusion is obvious:

Leathers was not at the Shieldhall meeting.

If Leathers was not at the Shieldhall meeting, where was he?

One of the most probable places to find Leathers would be his residence: at Hardin’s Tower. And yet this observation only exacerbates our suspicions, given the events that occur at the tower mere moments after the Shieldhall meeting.

In particular, notice that Jon calls out for Leathers to calm the enraged and belligerent Wun Wun:

“Leathers, talk to him, calm him. The Old Tongue, he understands the Old Tongue. Keep back, the rest of you. Put away your steel, we’re scaring him.”

But consider this:

If Leathers was actually present, wouldn’t he have already been talking to Wun Wun anyhow?

I refer to Jon’s first encounter with Wun Wun at the weirwood grove: when the confrontation with the giant almost came to blows, Leathers preemptively soothed the giant with his words. Leathers did not need instruction from Jon.

Jon Snow was about to reach for Longclaw when Leathers spoke, from the far side of the grove.

Subsequently, if Leathers was present wouldn’t he already be trying to soothe Wun Wun?

Combined with the previous observation there is but one conclusion:

At the time of Jon’s “assassination”, Leathers was not at the Shieldhall or Hardin’s Tower, despite being the two most likely places to find him.

Leathers was not observed anywhere.

With these observations in mind, you have to wonder where Leathers actually was and what he was doing.

*   *   *

Six Degrees of Leathers

One item that escapes people’s notice is that Leathers is perhaps the most well-connected person in the North.

  • Since Leathers speaks the Old Tongue, he would thus be conversant with the Thenns, to include Sigorn. They could have spoken during their time at Mole’s Town, or again later during Alys Karstark’s wedding.
  • As one of the only inhabitants of Hardin’s Tower, Leathers has access to Val.
  • There are at least two chapters (JON VI and MELISANDRE) where Mance Rayder and Leathers were both at the Wall. Thus they could have encountered each other. Furthermore, both men speak the Old Tongue and could have shared details in great privacy.
  • Leathers has had two private conversations with Toregg: at the negotiations of Tormund’s surrender, and the conversation regarding Tormund’s “eighty men” expected to return from Oakenshield.

You’ll note that these people (with the possible exception of Toregg) are the key players in the wildling mission as a whole, as revealed in The Captive Must Obey. The only member of the conspiracy with which Leathers is not familiar would be Melisandre.

However, none of these observations inherently prove that Leathers was a member of some lurking conspiracy: his absence and connections don’t prove anything. It is through analyzing his other features that the absences and connections transform into meaningful insights.

*   *   *

Bowen Marsh’s Warning

In addition to the above, there are two details which contribute to the suspicion we can level at Leathers:

  • Leathers was one of the only two wildlings to ever take the black.

Leathers and Jax were older men, well past forty, sons of the haunted forest, with sons and grandsons of their own. They had been two of the sixty-three wildlings who had followed Jon Snow back to the Wall the day he made his appeal, so far the only two to decide they wanted a black cloak.

  • Leathers seems to have difficulty accepting his vows:

“Take charge of him. You speak his tongue. See that he is fed and find him a warm place by the fire. Stay with him. See that no one provokes him.”

“Aye.” Leathers hesitated. “M’lord.”

In my opinion, what emerges is the picture of a man who embodies something Bowen Marsh discussed early in A Dance with Dragons:

Marsh was unconvinced. “You’ve added sixty-three more mouths, my lord … but how many are fighters, and whose side will they fight on? If it’s the Others at the gates, most like they’ll stand with us, I grant you … but if it’s Tormund Giantsbane or the Weeping Man come calling with ten thousand howling killers, what then?”

“Then we’ll know. So let us hope it never comes to that.”

At the very least, he strongly sympathizes with the wildlings… perhaps in accordance to Bowen’s stated concerns:

“Lord Commander, why not demand that the wildlings give up their arms as well?” asked Clydas.

Leathers laughed at that. “You want the free folk to fight beside you against the common foe. How are we to do that without arms? Would you have us throw snowballs at the wights? Or will you give us sticks to hit them with?”

“These are godless savages,” said Septon Cellador. “Even in the south the treachery of wildlings is renowned.”

Leathers crossed his arms. “That battle down below? I was on t’other side, remember? Now I wear your blacks and train your boys to kill. Some might call me turncloak. Might be so … but I am no more savage than you crows. We have gods too. The same gods they keep in Winterfell.”

These two comments do indeed show that Leathers has a strong sympathy for the wildlings, and who can blame him: he’s lived among them his whole life.

Be that as it may, Leathers’s comments also demonstrate that Bowen Marsh’s concerns are not wrong:

Leathers may not bear Jon Snow or the Night’s Watch any ill will…

…but if he he was forced into a dichotomy, choosing to aid the wildlings or keeping to his vows, there is great reason to believe he we aid his kinsmen.

* * *

Oh the Irony

The irony here is that Jon Snow himself articulated a pretense by which the wildlings that joined the Night’s Watch might betray him:

“…if it’s Tormund Giantsbane or the Weeping Man come calling with ten thousand howling killers, what then?”

“Then we’ll know. So let us hope it never comes to that.”

He’s saying that even he recognizes the risk of being betrayed by his wildling recruits, if Tormund should appear at the gates. Which is entirely ironic, since Jon himself Tormund’s presence at the gates later in the book!

A more oblique detail concerns the timing of events: Leathers is one of the wildlings that joined in JON V – ADWD, the same chapter where Bowen Marsh shares his concerns. Furthermore, Leathers is one of only two who actually took the vows and joined the Watch.

It would seem to me that if Marsh’s concerns and Jon’s response were to bear any plot relevance at all, it would be to substantiate a future “betrayal” by one of his wildling recruits. Of which Leathers seems to be the only viable candidate.

As I said, I don’t believe that Leathers bears the Watch or Jon Snow any great hatred. Combining this observation with everything discussed thus far, I arrive at the following hypothesis:

Leathers aided Val in her escape, perhaps even accompanying her.

But to what ends?

Answering that question requires that we begin to look at what happens after Val’s escape. To begin, I want to investigate a mystery concerning Tormund’s exaggerations.

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* * *


deepwoodearlyimageThere is a substantial mystery surrounding the fighters that somehow went unaccounted for when Tormund Giantsbane arrived at Castle Black in Jon’s final chapter in A Dance with Dragons.

What is the significance of Tormund’s thirty missing men?

Jon Snow dismisses the mystery as a mere exaggeration on Tormund’s behalf, but in truth the absence of these men conceals something far greater.

*   *   *

Toregg’s Visit

Late in A Dance with Dragons, Jon and Leathers discuss Toregg and related details about Tormund’s pending arrival:

Leathers was prowling the yard outside. “Toregg has returned,” he reported when Jon emerged. “His father’s settled his people at Oakenshield and will be back this afternoon with eighty fighting men. What did the bearded queen have to say?”

“There is still much to decide. Spread the word. I want all the leading men in the Shieldhall when the evening watch begins. Tormund should be back by then. Where can I find Toregg?”

“With the little monster, like as not. He’s taken a liking to one o’ them milkmaids, I hear.”

He has taken a liking to Val.

There are several unambiguous facts here:

  1. Toregg clearly arrives several hours in advance of Tormund.
  2. Toregg tells Leathers that Tormund is ostensibly bringing eighty men.
  3. Toregg’s first stop after arriving is Hardin’s Tower, to see Val—the lynchpin of the likely wildling-Stannis alliance.

This raises a question:

  • ?
  • Why would Toregg first visit Val instead of Jon?

It’s entirely possible that the visit to Val was of no plot significance. After all, Leathers says that its because Toregg likes one of the wet nurses and Jon thinks it’s because Toregg is pursuing Val. Perhaps Toregg was truly just “chasing tail”, the text certainly gives the superficial impression that Toregg’s visit to Val is nothing more than romantic.

However, I don’t believe that to be the case: his visit to Val was of strategic importance. So begins our journey down the rabbit hole, into the secrecy of the wildling alliance.

*   *   *

The Precision of Counts in Westeros

We know that Tormund and his son Toregg settled their people at the waycastle Oakenshield, due east of Castle Black. After taking a day or two to settle both men return to Castle Black on the same day.

However Toregg’s arrival precedes Tormund by many hours. Toregg also tells Leathers that Tormund will be arriving with eighty men. Leathers in turn tells this to Jon.

The specificity of the number of men is noteworthy, “eighty men” is a rather precise number. Compare this to the many instances where numbers and counts are discussed in general terms. In just about all of these cases, estimates are indicated using rough terms such “a hundred” or “half-a-hundred”, etc.

The difference in vernacular between these rough estimates and Toregg’s “eighty men” suggests it may be the result of a closer count, less prone to exaggeration. If we made this claim as loose as reasonably possible, you might argue that the number simply means “more than fifty, less than a hundred”.

*   *   *

A Wildly Inaccurate Count

However when Tormund finally arrives later in that same chapter, he is accompanied by significantly fewer men:

Tormund Giantsbane timed his arrival perfectly, thundering up with his warriors when all the shoveling was done. Only fifty seemed to have turned up, not the eighty Toregg promised Leathers, but Tormund was not called Tall-Talker for naught.

This is forty percent fewer men than expected. Stated another way, eighty men is sixty-percent more men than fifty. It seems odd that Toregg would be off by so much: Tormund and Toregg ostensibly left the same day for Castle Black.

This is particularly eye-catching in light of the fact that the Toregg’s number was very specific: “eighty men”. As I already noted, “eighty” is unusually precise in a world where generalized estimates are commonplace.

  • ?
  • Could it be that Tormund just decided to leave thirty behind, and didn’t decide this until after Toregg left?
  • ?
  • Why does this matter? Isn’t it conjecture to assume that an inaccurate count has special meaning?

The reason to take note of the apparent exaggeration is because it is inconsistent with what we know about the general magnitude of Tormund’s exaggerations. Consider the following:

Jon pointed at the lights of their campfires. “There they are. Four thousand, Tormund claims.”

“Three thousand, I make them, by the fires.” Bowen Marsh lived for counts and measures.

Bowen Marsh was waiting for him south of the Wall, with a tablet full of numbers. “Three thousand one hundred and nineteen wildlings passed through the gate today,” the Lord Steward told him.

Tormund claims to have four thousand wildlings, but only had approximately three thousand; a fact verified by Bowen’s very detailed count. Tormund’s estimate was thirty-three percent higher than the actual amount:

  • This is a far cry short of the sixty percent exaggeration regarding the eighty men.
  • You would expect less exaggeration with a smaller count, due to the more mentally manageable sums.

What could this possibly mean?

I do not want to prematurely leap to conspiracy as an explanation. To that end, here are the possible explanations for the erratic counts:

  • Nothing more than the observation that Tormund is absolutely horrible at sums.
  • Tormund’s exaggerations wildly vary, but for innocuous reasons.
  • Tormund’s exaggerations wildly vary, for sinister reasons.

Unless there are sinister motives at play, there is no real reason to continue this line of investigation. That of course means I will presume for the moment that Tormund’s exaggerations do indeed serve a hidden purpose. This presumption will be justified momentarily.

Now remember the unusual specificity of Toregg’s count: eighty men. Coupling this detail with our assumption about Tormund, we have to wonder: It suggests that the number of men accompanying Tormund changed between Toregg’s departure for Castle Black and Tormund’s arrival: some stimulus changed Tormund’s mind, and thus the number of men.

  • ?
  • Why is there a substantially different amount of exaggeration in Toregg’s “eighty men” compared to Tormund’s other observed exaggerations?
  • ?
  • Given the specificity of the count and the exaggeration, is it possible some of Tormund’s men were reassigned at some point after Toregg left Tormund’s company?

Toregg arrived at Castle Black first, with Tormund arriving only a few hours later. It is entirely probable that this timing was also true of their departures from Oakenshield in the first place.

This obviously means that Tormund only had a few hours in which his mind could have changed without Toregg’s knowledge.

Due to this narrow timing it certainly seems plausible that as many as thirty of his men were reassigned along the way. Indeed, this is precisely what I hope to present in the remainder of this essay.

But what would have caused Tormund to send thirty of his men elsewhere?

Revealing the answer to this question necessitates a close look at the exceptional inability of wildlings to carefully guard their secrets.

*   *   *

Conspicuous Knowledge

When Tormund finally arrives at Castle Black he says something revealing:

Tormund Giantsbane timed his arrival perfectly, thundering up with his warriors when all the shoveling was done. Only fifty seemed to have turned up, not the eighty Toregg promised Leathers, but Tormund was not called Tall-Talker for naught. The wildling arrived red-faced, shouting for a horn of ale and something hot to eat. He had ice in his beard and more crusting his mustache.

Someone had already told the Thunderfist about Gerrick Kingsblood and his new style. “King o’ the Wildlings?” Tormund roared. “Har! King o’ My Hairy Butt Crack, more like.”

Wait a second…

  • ?
  • How did Tormund already know about Gerrick Kingsblood’s new style, if he just arrived?

The implication here is obvious, Tormund reveals he was informed of a fact that he shouldn’t have learned until after he arrived. Furthermore, we know that Tormund did not have a chance to speak to anyone else at Castle Black prior to his arrival:

Tormund Giantsbane timed his arrival perfectly, thundering up with his warriors when all the shoveling was done. Only fifty seemed to have turned up, not the eighty Toregg promised Leathers, but Tormund was not called Tall-Talker for naught. The wildling arrived red-faced, shouting for a horn of ale and something hot to eat. He had ice in his beard and more crusting his mustache.

Someone had already told the Thunderfist about Gerrick Kingsblood and his new style. “King o’ the Wildlings?” Tormund roared. “Har! King o’ My Hairy Butt Crack, more like.”

The text indicates that Jon was present right when Tormund arrived. Thus when Tormund says that he knows about Gerrick’s new title, he must have learned it before arriving. The text even makes this explicit.

There is only one viable explanation:

Someone contacted Tormund prior to his arrival at Castle Black.

This person would have to have known about Gerrick Kingsblood, a detail not yet widely distributed. Heck, even Jon Snow did not learn about Gerrick’s new style (“King of the Wildlings”) until earlier in the same chapter. In terms of timing, Jon learned about Gerrick’s new style only a few hours before Tormund arrived.

A minor, technical point is that there are no maesters or ravens in Oakenshield, Tormund’s new home. It’s not even known if there is a single literate person at the waycastle at all: It’s impossible for Tormund to have learned via raven communications.

Combine this with the previous observation, and something amazing appears:

Tormund learned about Gerrick Kingsblood, “King of the Wildlings”, from someone who met him on the road prior to entering Castle Black.

This seems like only viable explanation. This is the justification for my earlier presumption that Tormund has some sort of secret motives at play, because he was obviously interacting with a certain “someone” prior to arriving at Castle Black.

*   *   *

An Important Message

Learning about Gerrick Kingsblood’s new title hardly seems that important to Tormund: he laughs it off with his characteristic crudeness. There is no reason that Gerrick’s title was so important that Tormund be notified before his arrival.

This does bring up an interesting question with an obvious answer:

Why would someone depart Castle Black, headed east, only a few hours prior to Tormund’s arrival but clearly after the reveal of Gerrick Kingsblood?

Why would this person share this information with Tormund?

More importantly, what other information might this person share?

Why would all of this need to be so secretive?

After careful consideration, I believe the answer is clear:

Tormund was told of something much more important than Gerrick Kingsblood’s new style.

Now step back and look at the whole picture:

  • ?
  • Isn’t just a bit odd that Tormund shows up knowing things he should not know, missing thirty men that were promised to arrive with him?
  • ?
  • Isn’t it odd that Toregg gave such an inaccurate count to Leathers, heads straight to Val, and is not seen by Jon until the Shieldhall meeting?

*   *   *

A Prime Suspect

Our new objective is clear: we need to identify this “somebody” that contacted Tormund. Our first viable candidate can be quickly identified by answering a few questions:

Who seems to have deliberately arrived some time before Tormund?

Who spoke with parties that have proven themselves to have access to “secret knowledge”?

Who would have the time and freedom to relay any messages to Tormund?

The answer seems obvious: Tormund’s own son, Toregg the Tall.

Of special interest is the observation that Toregg makes no attempt contact Jon at all after arriving, despite being present for at least a few hours before his father Tormund arrives. You would expect Toregg to inform Jon directly about Tormund’s status, not secondhand via Leathers.

  • ?
  • Why would Toregg fail to speak to Jon at all?

There is a compelling hypothetical answer for Toregg’s failure to visit Jon: Toregg did not stay at Castle Black—he departed shortly after visiting Val.

  • Remember that Val has “secret knowledge” because she is tied to a secret alliance between Stannis and the wildlings.
  • We know that Toregg and Leathers have a prior established relationship (their private conversation outside Tormund’s tent in JON XI – ADWD), perhaps explaining why Toregg confided in Leathers. This may explain the discrepancy in counts, because Toregg did not expect Leathers to tell Jon about the “eighty men”.

Thus it would seem like Toregg is the perfect candidate, with a hypothesis naturally emerging:

  1. Toregg arrived and confided his “eighty men” count to Leathers.
  2. Toregg and Val conversed.
  3. Important details were shared.
  4. Toregg departed and contacted Tormund.
  5. Tormund reassigned thirty of his men.

While I find this to be compelling on its own, I do not believe it to be the correct answer. Most notably because we do not see Toregg ‘re-arrive’ at Castle Black alongside Tormund. Thus I am led to the following conclusion:

While Toregg seems to be the most likely person to have secretly contacted Tormund, he is not the actual culprit.

*   *   *

With the likely elimination of Toregg as our culprit, we must take stock of the entire theory, creating a large picture of what happened:

  1. Toregg arrives well in advance of Tormund’s band, with the specific intention of seeing Val.
  2. Given the timing of their arrivals, we must consider that Tormund’s delay was intentional.
  3. This would suggest that Tormund (and possibly Toregg) knew that someone might return to him along the road—but after Toregg’s arrival.
  4. Collectively, it would appear that the summit between Toregg and Val was the event that triggered the return of “somebody” to Tormund.
  5. This somebody informed Tormund about Gerrick Kingsblood and perhaps other important information.
  6. Thus Tormund reassigned as many as thirty of his men.

With all of this in mind, there are only two candidates with any sort of viability:

The two most viable people to have visited Tormund are Leathers and Val.

I dismiss Leathers as our culprit for two reasons:

  1. While Leathers does know a great deal and has relationships with almost all of the relevant characters, he did confide details of Toregg’s movements, intentions and conversations with Jon.
  2. He also seems to have at least somewhat fulfilled Jon’s command to “spread the word” regarding the Shieldhall meeting (despite his own absence). This suggests that Leathers remained at the castle for some time, rendering a trip to Tormund seemingly unlikely. He also seems like a superfluous detail, our other suspect can achieve the same results with far fewer complications.

Thus I arrive at the following hypothesis:

As a result of eliminating other candidates, Val is necessarily the person to have met Tormund on the road to Castle Black.

This may sound like a bold claim, but I hope to bear it out in the next section.

*   *   *


Thus far I have only established a hypothesis:

Val escaped from Castle Black, possibly with Gilly’s son, presumed to be Mance’s son.

Val encounters Tormund on the road to Castle Black and shares information with him.

Tormund reassigns as many as thirty men to some other purpose.

A minor addition would be to assume that Val subsequently joins these thirty men, on the basis that we clearly do not see her arrive with Tormund.

These are all fantastic ideas, but they carry with them some concerns you may have:

How in seven hells could all of this have been coordinated?

How does this relate to the secretive Stannis-wildling accord?

What purpose is served by timing the purported escape to Tormund’s arrival?

Tackling these questions is not as hard as it may seem—indeed I believe the answers serve only to make my arguments even more compelling.

*   *   *

The First Day of the Full Moon

Let’s begin with the fact that Val was very specific in the timing of her return to Jon:

“You have my word, Lord Snow. I will return, with Tormund or without him.” Val glanced at the sky. The moon was but half-full. “Look for me on the first day of the full moon.”

“Good.” Val wheeled the garron toward the north. “The first night of the full moon, then.” Jon watched her ride away wondering if he would ever see her face again.

I’m no expert, but I believe the number of days between a half moon and a full moon is about a week. In any case Val betrays that she must be back by then, for reasons unknown.

Her promise to return on the first day of the full moon indicates that she returned roughly a week after her departure.

Her return was notably coordinated by the lunar cycle. In other words, her return was tied to a universally observable unit of time.

Her vow to return with or without Tormund in seven days suggests that she needed to back by then for some specific reason—a reason more important than finding Tormund!

So what could possibly be more important than finding Tormund and the wildlings?

Why would Val’s efforts be bound by the lunar cycle?

Before I reveal the answer, keep in mind everything I’ve proposed or revealed thus far:

  1. The secret Stannis-Wildling alliance—which rendered both Mance’s wildlings and the Thenns loyal to Stannis via an established allegiance to Val.
  2. The importance of a false flag attack on the Dreadfort as a means to lure the Boltons from Winterfell.
  3. The observation that Stannis explicitly left Val behind, and only after Jon convinced the king to leave the wildlings.
  4. The importance of timing the false flag correctly with regards to Stannis’s movements.
  5. The Thenn refusal to join the Night’s Watch, preferring the squalor at Mole’s Town.

I collect all of these inputs and arrive at the following epiphany:

Val’s escape and subsequent march on the Dreadfort was coordinated using the lunar cycle.

She was to commence her mission on the third full moon after Stannis’s departure.

A seemingly fantastical hypothesis, but one with a real-world historical basis:

Native Americans made effective use of traditional modes of communication, including fire, smoke, and couriers. Two specific seventeenth-century examples demonstrate especially effective signaling methods to coordinate multiple attacks on encroaching European colonies.

The first took place in Virginia in 1622, and was apparently years in the planning. Tribes in the tidewater region were all accessible by water—both Indian and European settlements in the tidewater were usually built near rivers—as well as by traditional couriers carrying memorized messages. However, a much more sophisticated signal triggered the 1622 attack. Early planning took place at funeral ceremonies for a chief in which all of the tribes participated. This supplied perfect cover for tribal war planning that would eventually lead to the 1622 attack and another uprising in 1644.

The tactical problem was how to surprise the English colonists with simultaneous strikes in several locations. The Native American leader apparently synchronized his colonywide ambush by using Native American sensitivity to the moon’s changing appearance as an ingenious low-tech signaling system. The first visible crescent moon in a month’s lunar cycle appeared twenty-one days before both the 1622 and the 1644 attacks. Attuned to the lunar cycle, Native Americans could simply count the number of days between one moon phase and the next, even if bad weather obscured the sky.

The means to synchronize the multitarget strike was thus a reliable natural phenomenon of which native people were already aware. On the night of 1 March 1622, the new moon rose over the Virginia colony. Exactly twenty-one days later, the attack came as a stunning surprise as Indians swarmed over the unsuspecting English with weapons they had hidden ahead of time in haystacks, barns, kitchens and stables. It was the worst attack the English in the colony had ever suffered.

Further details regarding this episode can be read at The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

So it seems entirely plausible that the moon could be some sort of ‘timer’ regarding the desired ‘wildling attack’.

*   *   *

Conspicuous Timing

Note that Stannis captures Deepwood Motte under a full moon:

The moon was almost full, the night so clear that she could see the mountains, their peaks crowned with snow.

And yet Jon receives the letter from Stannis on the night of a new moon (the end of JON VII – ADWD) :

They had no moon to guide them home, and only now and then a patch of stars. The world was black and white and still. It was a long, slow, endless trek.

This suggests that there was at least a two week gap between when Stannis captured Deepwood and when he sent the letter. Why?

The first possibility is that Stannis waited at Deepwood in order to play the game of intelligence with the Boltons, something I described in Deception in Siegecraft.


After Stannis departs from Castle Black, there are three apparent full moons:

  • The first occurs when Stannis captures Deepwood Motte. It can be readily shown that this is also approximately the same day that Jon and Asha receive letters from Ramsay and Jon has his night-time encounter with Melisandre.
  • For reasons too long to explain the second full moon occurs during Stannis’s march. This has to do with a timeline project I’m assembling based on the phases on the moon as described in BRAN III – ADWD. For now you can see the foundation of the project in this comment.
  • The third full moon occurs roughly around the time of Val and Tormund’s arrival at the Wall.

Thus, Val was dispatched to find Tormund a week before this third moon, and specifically returned on the first day of the full moon. Toregg and Tormund return to Castle Black about three days after that, quite possibly the night when the moon is fullest.

Now let’s compare that to what we know of Stannis’s army and it’s progress.

Stannis defeats Asha on the first full moon. We don’t know how long he lingers at Deepwood, but it appears to be at least a few days.

After marching (33 days) and being snowbound (another 19 days), Stannis has spent at least 52 days since the last full moon that we know he experienced.

Now if you recall from other essays in The Mannifesto, I believe that Stannis is intentionally waiting at the crofter’s village, waiting for Arya and waiting for an attack.


<table of contents>

<the mannifesto>

*   *   *

8 thoughts on “Honor has its Costs

  1. Joe

    Makes a lot of scence, I saw a lot of mirroring to Hardhome to Astapor, so basically Jon is mirroring Hizdar. Val/Dany MIA

  2. Jacob

    I was very skeptical until you pointed out how nice all of the chieftains were to Jon. Tormund knew Jon, and saw the wisdom in what he was proposing, but it did bother me how much respect the others paid the “Lord Crow.” Jon goes on and on about how the freefolk don’t do this or do that, he sounds like a broken record after a while. The thing is, they HAVE changed, they DO respect power and authority when it suits them, and being under an outcast bastard of legendary blood who lead men on both sides of the wall suits them now. Especially when he is backed by a king with an army where each man is better armed and armored than the richest wildlings/crows ever were.

    Jon is wrong in thinking about Wildling loyalties or traditions being solid in stone. He has the ‘what,’ just not the ‘when.’ They followed Mance, and Mance failed them. This Stark boy-crow is the lord now, and he let thousands of starving freefolk through the walls to settle them. Not in mud huts or holdfasts, but CASTLES for crying out loud. Jon thinks of them as a beaten foe who must now be protected, yet held at arm’s length and dealt with carefully. He never stops to consider that they still have irons in this fire, same as the crows do.

    Jon treats them like they’ll always be a screaming rabble of children who don’t want to follow anyone else ever. Except they did. They followed Mance, and Tormund, and The Weeper, and Mother Mole, didn’t they? They see some sense in being lead, obviously. Jon just thinks that now Mance is “dead,” that the freefolk would have to be “conquered” all over again the way Mance did to get loyalty. Did Mance beat every chieftain in single combat to prove his worth? No, that’s kind of ridiculous when you think it over a bit. Guile, loyalty, and wits are aplenty amongst the wildlings. They’re people, not animals who need taming. Jon’s stuck in dealing with them like cattle, but talking to them like people.

    I love the idea of marrying Jon against his knowledge, and making him the king-beyond-the-wall without him even knowing it. Which makes him worthy of it, I think. He got the freefolk through the wall, no one had ever accomplished that. He DESERVES to be the king. To bad he got stabbed to death.

    1. harlow8150

      Great point, Jon does have a pretty close minded POV about the Free Folk. Jon doesn’t see the game being played right in front of him and he doesn’t understand different meanings in letters. These essays are quite interesting and even if they are wrong they make me look at book 4 and 5 completely different. A lot of people like to complain that they are the worst and they might be because of the shock and awe moments. However, people like BryndenbFish and this author are able to understand the meaning and see what is going on behinod the words on the page. I love book 4 and 5 now and makes me excited for all these payoffs (for good or evil) in Winds of Winter. I will now read Winds differently because of how these essays have opened my mind to different things going on. THanks!

  3. Khal Schlomo

    If Jon Snow married a wildling, that is a nice parallel to the Night’s King on several levels (Stark, Lord Commander).

    My biggest problem is this: how in God’s name would Val intend to care for a nursing baby without a wet nurse while traveling in secret at top speed in winter to an anticipated battle?

    1. cantuse Post author

      This is a very good question. It’s a conundrum because I believe I’ve made a very compelling case for Val’s escape… but the question of caring for the child cannot be dismissed.

  4. Grawflemaul

    I’m in the process of reading through everything now, and am thoroughly, thoroughly impressed. The only nit I’ve been able to pick so far was in this essay:

    “Someone had already told the Thunderfist about Gerrick Kingsblood and his new style. ‘King o’ the Wildlings?’ Tormund roared. ‘Har! King o’ My Hairy Butt Crack, more like.'”

    I don’t particularly see why this proves that someone had told Tormund about Gerrick before he arrived. Presumably Tormund was greeted by people when he arrived. To me, that quote reads like news getting passed to Tormund as he arrives and him commenting on it.

    Why would he make that joke about news he’d heard hours beforehand, with no other provocation?

    That was the only bit of everything I’ve read of yours so far that didn’t quite ring true to me. Keep up the fantastic work!

  5. Ser Chris the Tall

    Could the skinny wet nurse that has lots of milk be forcibly taken? If like you say leathers is on board he could take her as a captive, maybe even leave the baby with the Thenns and Alys?

  6. Timmeh

    Re: Jon the Oathbreaker (Potential Tinfoil)

    You’ve made several good points, but the aftermath of Jon’s oathbreaking presents a dilemma for Stannis. If Jon truly has become the wildling’s King, then he’s still necessary for Stannis after he takes the North. But if he’s commonly known as an oathbreaker, the North will have a problem with Stannis keeping him alive. Even if he wins in a manner described by the Mannifesto, Stannis might not have the clout to give the Night’s Watch men in return for Jon’s release from his oaths, nor would Stannis want to imply that he could forgive oathbreaking on such a level. Stannis would have to pretend that Jon’s oathbreaking was a necessary part of the plan to fool the Boltons.

    Insert Robb’s will.

    “If I send the Watch a hundred men in Jon’s place, I’ll wager they find some
    way to release him from his vows.” -Robb Stark

    “Lord Balon has left chaos in his wake, we hope. I would not do the same. Yet I have no son as yet, my brothers Bran and Rickon are dead, and my sister is wed to a Lannister. I’ve thought long and hard about who might follow me. I command you now as my true and loyal lords to fix your seals to this document as witnesses to my decision.” -Robb Stark

    I think Stannis has Robb’s will or knows of it’s existence and promises. This could simply be because the Night’s Watch was sent the will sometime during the Attack on the Wall. In that case, Aemon Targaryen is the one who likely received the message if it was sent by raven before the Red Wedding. This helps to explain how Stannis got the idea of legitimizing Jon in the first place. Unfortunately, it doesn’t help to explain why Stannis didn’t use the will to convince Jon to become Lord of Winterfell. A simple answer might be that Stannis didn’t want Jon to rally the north as King in the North, which would ruin Stannis’s chances altogether.

    If Stannis has Robb’s will, then he has more legitimacy for freeing Jon from his vows. If Jon is following orders from Stannis by pretending to stay in the Night’s Watch, then he isn’t oathbreaking. Stannis can more easily sell that he convinced Jon to leave the Night’s Watch by showing the will to Jon. Furthermore, a Stark leading the wildlings might be required for the northern lords to accept their settlements in the North.


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