Raid on Saltpans
|Raid on Saltpans|
|Conflict||War of the Five Kings|
|Result||burning of town|
The raid on Saltpans occurs toward the end of the War of the Five Kings, in 300 AC. It is conducted by marauders, who had earlier belonged to the Brave Companions, in the town of Saltpans, located on the northern shore of the mouth of the Trident, in the riverlands.
The assault is led by Rorge, whom many people falsely identify as Sandor Clegane because of the Hound's helmet. The raid by the Mad Dog of Saltpans soon becomes notorious throughout the region and in other parts of the Seven Kingdoms as a particularly savage event that highlighted the complete breakdown of law and order in large parts of the riverlands.
Using Harrenhal as their base, the brutal Brave Companions raid the riverlands on behalf of first Lord Tywin Lannister and then Lord Roose Bolton. When Roose decides to abandon King Robb Stark for the cause of King Joffrey I Baratheon, he leaves Vargo Hoat of the Brave Companions with control of Harrenhal. His lieutenants, in particular Urswyck and Rorge, argue for abandoning the castle and moving to regions that have not been wiped clean by the war yet. Abandoned by almost all of the Brave Companions, Vargo is killed by Ser Gregor Clegane after the capture of Harrenhal.
Some time before the Brave Companions leave Harrenhal, Sandor Clegane, holding Arya Stark captive, also heads towards Saltpans. He intends to find a ship that will bring them to the Vale of Arryn, where he hopes he can ransom Arya to her aunt, Lysa Arryn. However, a fight breaks out at the crossroads inn with some of his brother Gregor's men—the Tickler, Polliver and a squire from House Sarsfield—and the Hound is gravely wounded. Arya abandons the dying man on the banks of the Trident and reaches Saltpans on her own, where she secures passage on a ship to Braavos. Sandor is found by the Elder Brother who tends to him till he reportedly dies and is buried under a stone heap. The Elder Brother put Sandor's distinctive hound's helm on top of the grave.
One band of fleeing Brave Companions is led by Rorge, who has his constant companion Biter at his side. They head towards Saltpans in the hope of finding a ship to take them from Westeros. Along the way they find the Hound's helm.
When Rorge and his band arrive at Saltpans, they try to find a galley or a cog that can bring them across the narrow sea. However, Saltpans is not an important port and no ship is available at the time. The outlaws turn their outrage against the townfolk and begin raiding Saltpans, burning all buildings and slaughtering the people they came across.
The helpless smallfolk seek refuge in the town's holdfast, but Ser Quincy Cox, the elderly Knight of Saltpans, who is apparently afraid for his own family's safety, refuses to let them in and leaves them to their fate. The outlaws rape and mutilate, and target violence against all, including old Septon Bennet and children in the arms of their mothers. When they finished their work, the outlaws headed west again, with Rorge reportedly laughing loud about his men's deeds.
The atrocities are watched by a few helpless fishermen from the town, who were on their boats. After the outlaws leave and the fires had burned down, they went ashore, but all that is left for them is to bury family members and neighbors. They gathered the few survivors and brought them to the Quiet Isle, where the Elder Brother takes care of them.
Witnesses describe Rorge wearing the Hound's helmet and roaring savagely as he led the monstrosities. Biter crushed his victims with his weight and—as he often does—tore flesh out of them with his sharpened teeth. A witness states a woman had been raped a dozen times, before she was given to Biter, who ripped her breasts apart with his teeth. Still, her curses while she lay dying on the Quiet Isle were reserved for Ser Quincy for keeping the gates to his holdfast closed. 
Another survivor is Brother Clement, a member of the order who had gone to Saltpans to sell the renowned mead brewed on the Quiet Isle. When Clement refused to break his vow of silence, one if the attackers declared that Clement had apparently no need of his tongue, and cut it out. Clement eventually dies of the wounds. Some other brothers from the Quiet Isle are wounded or otherwise traumatized as well. Rorge raped a twelve-year-old girl promised to the Faith, crushing the girl's flesh with his armor as he lay on her, then had given her to his men who cut her nose and nipples off. The girl survived to tell her story, as did some boys who had managed to hide in time.
The reports by survivors are passed on from the Quiet Isle to King's Landing and soon become widely distributed. The references to a brutal man wearing the Hound's distinctive helm led people to the misperception that Sandor Clegane led the raid. Lord Randyll Tarly, trying to restore order in the eastern riverlands from nearby Maidenpool, spreads rumors that blame the raid on Beric Dondarrion's brotherhood without banners in an attempt to turn the smallfolk against them. The term "Mad Dog of Saltpans" circulates, and as the tales spread, the number of murders that Sandor is accused of rises from twelve to twenty.
The suggestion that Beric's band had been responsible for the raid leads Ser Arwood Frey to gather a force of fifty soldiers and archers, including Ser Harys and Ser Donnel Haigh, and ride from the Twins to Saltpans to find the trail of the outlaws. When they arrive, they find the town reduced to bones and ashes. Ser Quincy Cox does open his holdfast to them, but tells what saw from the battlements. The Frey men find a survivor trapped beneath a beam. However, all references are to the Hound leading the raid, making Arwood skeptical that Beric was involved.
Queen Regent Cersei Lannister suggests that Kevan Lannister's son, Lord Lancel Lannister, go after Beric Dondarrion and Sandor Clegane to restore order around the Darry lands, but Kevan tells her his son is not the man to deal with someone like the Hound. Cersei proposes that Kevan hunt down Sandor, but he says the Hound was Cersei's creature and that it is her responsibility. Ser Jaime Lannister refuses to hunt down the Hound and suggests Lord Randyll Tarly deal with reestablishing order in the region. As Kevan heads towards Darry for the wedding of Lancel and Amerei Frey, Jaime cautions Kevan to keep his knights close, thinking of how dangerous the Hound was. However, Kevan interprets this as an implied threat by his nephew.
When Cersei meets the High Sparrow at the Great Sept of Baelor, this new High Septon refers to the death of Septon Bennet and the rape of the twelve-year-old girl promised to the Faith as examples of the Iron Throne not being able to protect the faithful any longer. Cersei blames Sandor joining the band of Beric and insists King Tommen I Baratheon cannot be blamed for all crimes committed by people once employed by House Lannister. Cersei agrees to the restoration of the Faith Militant in exchange for the High Septon acknowledging Tommen as king and forgiving the crown's debt to the Faith.
At Darry, Ser Arwood Frey tells Jaime of his futile attempt to find traces of the brotherhood without banners at Saltpans. The atrocities make Jaime skeptical that this was the Hound's doing, as, despite all Sandor's brutality, he did not consider him quite the monster his brother Gregor had been. Arwood assures Jaime that the identification of Sandor as leader of the raid is unmistakable according to all accounts. Jaime refuses the appeal by Amerei to hunt down the Hound for her, citing his obligations at Riverrun. However, Ser Lyle Crakehall promises her to return and kill the Hound for her once the siege of Riverrun is complete, making Jaime muse that the Strongboar is not strong enough to defeat Sandor.
Brienne and the Crossroads Inn
In her search for Sansa Stark, information that she misinterprets leads Brienne of Tarth to the Whispers, where she comes across three former Brave Companions who had not participated in the raid, Shagwell, Timeon and Pyg. Before killing the three, she learns from Timeon that "the Stark girl" was actually in the Hound's hands and that the brotherhood was searching for the two along the Trident. Believing this to refer to Sansa rather than to Arya Stark, Brienne decides to look for the Hound herself. Upon her return to Maidenpool, she learns from Ser Hyle Hunt about Sandor Clegane's alleged responsibility for the raid and the attempts to blame it on the brotherhood..
Septon Meribald leads them to the Quiet Isle, where the Elder Brother shares his detailed knowledge of the raid of Saltpans, including the cowardice exhibited by Ser Quincy Cox. He informs Brienne that the Hound could not have been responsible, as he had buried the man himself, and that the "Stark girl" who had accompanied Sandor Clegane earlier had actually not been Sansa but Arya. The Elder Brother knows nothing of the girl's whereabouts, but suspects she might have been among those killed at Saltpans. Brienne's small band finds nothing but death and destruction in Saltpans and they are refused entry to the holdfast. They head west towards the crossroads inn.
Meanwhile, the influence of the vengeful Lady Stoneheart has changed the brotherhood into a band that kills in large numbers. They use the inn to capture assumed offenders and hang them along nearby roads, often shoving pieces of salt into their mouths as reference to the raid on Saltpans. However, it is unclear whether the hanged were guilty of crimes or had just fought for the wrong side in the War of the Five Kings. Decorations worn by condemned broken men include lions (Lannister), axes (Byrch or Cerwyn), arrows (Norridge or Sarsfield), salmon (Mooton), pine trees (Tallhart), oak leaves (Oakheart), beetles (Bettley), bantams (Swyft), boars' heads (Vikary), and tridents (Condon or Manderly).
Some perpetrators of the raid escape the brotherhood. When Lem Lemoncloak hears the "Mad Dog of Saltpans" is heading north along the Green Fork, he and his men follow the trail of the marauders, although it is actually a trick by Rorge's band to lure them from the inn. Lem's men are delayed by a column of Frey knights when they try to return.
Brienne and her small band arrive at the inn before the Saltpans marauders. Led by Rorge, who is still wearing the Hound's helm, seven riders approach the inn. In an attempt to protect the children at the inn, Brienne provokes Rorge to a fight and manages to kill him, only to be attacked in turn by Biter who savages her face. Before he can eat her alive, Biter is killed by Gendry. When Lem's men return, they take the severely-injured Brienne as well as her companions Podrick Payne and Ser Lyle Hunt captive for assumed crimes. Lem's men let Brother Meribald go his way while Brienne, Podrick and Lyle are taken to be judged by Lady Stoneheart. Lem claims the hound helm for himself.
The man who raped and killed at Saltpans was not Sandor Clegane, though he may be as dangerous. The riverlands are full of such scavengers. I will not call them wolves. Wolves are nobler than that ... and so are dogs, I think.
At Saltpans, they had found only death and desolation. By the time Brienne and her companions were ferried over from the Quiet Isle, the survivors had fled and the dead had been given to the ground, but the corpse of the town itself remained, ashen and unburied.—thoughts of Brienne of Tarth
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 25, Brienne V.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 74, Arya XIII.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 31, Brienne VI.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 20, Brienne IV.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 16, Jaime II.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 30, Jaime IV.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 28, Cersei VI.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 12, Cersei III.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 27, Jaime III.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 37, Brienne VII.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 42, Brienne VIII.