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|“||I hate this lot worse. Ser Amory was fighting for his lord, but the Mummers are sellswords and turncloaks. Half of them can't even speak the Common Tongue. Septon Utt likes little boys, Qyburn does black magic, and your friend Biter eats people.||„|
|~ Gendry, to Arya Stark|
The Brave Companions, also known as the Bloody Mummers are a sellsword company from A Song of Ice and Fire. It is an infamous company made of many of the worst, most dangerous criminals and outcasts from many nations of the continents of the world. Surviving members of the company serve as main antagonists of Brienne Tarth's storyline in A Feast for Crows.
The band is often called the "Bloody Mummers" by the Westerosi for its members' brutality and outlandish appearance, though they find this name insulting.
Their last leader was Vargo Hoat a man from the Free City of Qohor who cuts off the hands and feet of his prisoners. Their standard is a black goat with bloody horns, symbolizing the Black Goat of Qohor, a god of Qohor.
The band dissolves into smaller groups during the year 299 AC.
According to semi-canon sources, the Brave Companions are not as old as other mercenary companies and were established before Vargo Hoat became their leader. Their numbers consist of the scum of the west, and a few from the east and the south. Their previous leader was likely not a Qohorik, and their next might possibly be a Lyseni, a Dornishmen or even an Ibbenese. Many of them speak foreign tongue and they ride zorses, striped black-and-white equines from Essos. The many criminal foreigners of the company also include black people from the Summer Isles and Sothoryos, while it's not mentioned if there's also someone from the far east of Essos, like people from the Yi Ti empire.
At the beginning of the War of the Five Kings, the Brave Companions come to Westeros, where they are employed by Lord Tywin Lannister. After the Battle of the Whispering Wood and the execution of Eddard Stark, the Brave Companions are let loose upon the riverlands to terrify the people, burn, and pillage in an attempt to draw out and capture Robb Stark, so that he can be traded with Ser Jaime Lannister. Vargo and the other reaver captains each lead 300 cavalry, with maybe also other freeriders.
The Brave Companions cause a massive amount of terror and destruction in the riverlands. This causes anger on Ser Edmure Tully, who wishes to protect his people and orders the river lords to defend their seats and towns. During the war the riverlands are the last safe country in the realm, because of the restless rapes, murders, burning of towns and villages, and fighting and battles between the brotherhood without banners, forces of the riverlands and the North, the Lannister army, the Mountain's men, and the Bloody Mummers.
At Harrenhal, Arya Stark sees the Brave Companions led by Vargo Hoat and wonders how many monsters Lord Tywin does have. There is tension between the Lannister forces and Vargo's men, leading to occasional violence. One such incidence starts with an archer from Lord Lewys Lydden's men taunting some Brave Companions over their failure to capture the brotherhood without banners and their leader, Beric Dondarrion, and leads to the death of Ser Harys Swyft's squire. After Tywin has the archer and two Brave Companions hanged over the incidence, Vargo and Harys complete their reconciliation with a kiss.
When Tywin leaves Harrenhal, the Mummers are ordered to fortify the castle and are joined by Rorge, Biter and Jaqen H'ghar on the way. Their diverse ranks are said to include copper men with bells in their braids; lancers astride black-and-white horses; bowmen with powdered cheeks; squat hairy men with shaggy shields; brown-skinned men in feathered cloaks; swordsmen with fantastic forked beards dyed green and purple and silver; spearmen with colored scars that covered their cheeks; and many more distinct members, such as Shagwell the Fool, Septon Utt, Qyburn and Urswyck the Faithful.
Ser Amory Lorch and Vargo Hoat hate each other and tension keeps growing on Harrenhal, until Vargo meets Lord Roose Bolton and his northern army at the Trident. Vargo and Lord Bolton reach a deal: The Brave Companions arrange for Harrenhal to fall into the hands of the northmen, in exchange for which Vargo is promised the title of Lord of Harrenhal once Roose and his men leave the castle. As a result of the agreement, together with some plunder that includes a huge caged bear, Vargo brings a group of northern knights to Harrenhal, led by Robett Glover and Ser Aenys Frey. He claims they are captives the Brave Companions took when they repelled an attempt by Lord Bolton's forces to cross the Trident. As part of the feint, the northerners are chained, in ragged clothes and many fake injuries. Despite his displeasure with Vargo's assumed big catch, Amory falls for the trick and orders that the captives are brought to a dungeon, ignoring a protest by Robett that they have been promised honorable treatment by Vargo.
Jaqen, Rorge, and Biter help Arya Stark free the northerner prisoners. They take soup from the kitchens and throw it against the Lannister guards before killing them. Glover is surprised by their help and leads the northmen in the fight against the Lannisters. With the northmen free, the Companions help slaughter the Lannister garrison and open the castle's gates to Roose Bolton a day after the Sack of Harrenhal. Vargo and Lord Bolton watch on as the Brave Companions parade a naked Amory through the yard and throw him into the bear pit, where he's killed by Vargo's bear. Vargo becomes Lord of Harrenhal for his service to the North, and Lord Bolton eventually tasks the Brave Companions with rooting out Lannister forces in the surrounding countryside.
Vargo Hoat divides his men into four bands, giving smaller ones to his trusted companions and lieutenants Utt and Urswyck while he leads the largest one himself. He uses his past affiliation with Lord Tywin to fool Lannister garrisons that are unaware of their betrayal, before seizing them and returning with bags of coin as well as baskets of heads. At Harrenhal the servants are unhappy with Roose's ruling of the castle: Steelshanks Walton and the Mummers put many servants of House Whent to the swords, while Tywin had spared their lives. Qyburn takes the duty of the dead maester, killed for trying to send ravens to the Lannisters. Gendry is upset about the death of Lucan, his master smith, and blames Arya for those deaths. Despite now Harrenhal belongs to King Robb, Arya realizes she's not safe there. She's terrified by the Brave Companions, especially Rorge who keeps staring at her and is eager to rape her as soon as Lord Bolton leaves the castle. Robett Glover left the place with most of the northern force to attack Duskendale before she could reveal him her true identity. Only the Freys remain, infuriated by Robb's marriage with Jeyne Westerling. The Freys know that Robb is losing the war and try to find a way out from his side without looking traitorous.
Several of Vargo's bands run into trouble during their foraging and killing. Utt's camp is attacked by a pack of wild wolves, who kill two of their horses. A smaller group hunting Arya, Gendry and Hot Pie falls prey to a wolf pack led by Nymeria, who kills Iggo, an Ibbenese axeman, a Dornish spearmen and a Lyseni archer. The Brotherhood without Banners also keeps disturbing Roose Bolton's forces in the riverlands, the Mummers and the Boltons being the most cruel men among those who fight for Robb Stark. Petyr Baelish, who's now Lord of Harrenhal, disapproves of the presence of Roose Bolton and the Brave Companions in his seat.
The Brave Companions keep causing destruction and raping girls in the riverlands, and Roose can barely control them. They find Ser Jaime and Brienne Tarth near the deserted and destroyed Maidenpool. During the War of the Five Kings, Maidenpool has been a victim of many atrocities by the soldiers. The city has been sacked 3 times, first by Lannisters, then by Starks, and finally outlaws, who don't seem to be the Brave Companions, but just common bandits, who also attacked Brienne of Tarth and Ser Jaime Lannister and killed Ser Cleos Frey. However Vargo Hoat and his men are suspiciously near Maidenpool when they capture Jaime and Brienne, around the time of the third attack. The cowardly and timid Lord William Mooton failed to protect the town from the men and sent his soldiers to fight in the burning town, while he remained in the safety of his keep. During the 3 attacks many smallfok were raped, robbed, and killed, and their houses burned. The city is also terrified by a dangerous pack of wolves led by the direwolf Nymeria in the woods outside. After the third attack, half of Maidenpool is destroyed and the rest is plundered, and the town pool is filled with corpses. Even if they seem to just outlaws, the fact that Urswyck, Rorge, Shagwell, and other Brave Companions arrive right after Jaime fought against the outlaws and Brienne causes suspicions that the bandits might have been members of the Brave Companions, or at least allies to them. Jaime is angry that the Mummers have betrayed the Lannisters for the Starks and when Brienne tells Vargo that they are fighting in the same side, herself serving under House Tully, Vargo ignores her and has Rorge and Zollo beating her so she remains quiet.
Vargo grows to suspect that his new Bolton allies will join the Lannisters. When several Companions capture Jaime Lannister, Vargo has Zollo chop off Jaime's swordhand to drive a wedge between Tywin and Roose. Jaime and Brienne are regularly beaten bloody for fun and Vargo also makes Jaime drink horse piss to humiliate him. More than once, Brienne is almost brutally raped by Rorge, Zollo, and Shagwell, but Jaime saves her by convincing Vargo that Tarth is full of sapphires, which isn't true. At some point Jaime is beaten so savagely by Rorge that he passes out until they reach Harrenhal, where Roose Bolton and the Freys save him from Vargo's men. Jaime is not pleased to have his wounds taken care by Qyburn, who's another Brave Companion.
Later Lord Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr lead the brotherhood without banners to a sept under control of the Brave Companions, including a Myrman, two Ibbenese, three Volantenes, and several Dothraki. They attack the sept and hang the captured Mummers, including Septon Utt. They let some survivors go, hoping they will tell Lord Bolton what happened.
When Jaime and his escort are leaving Harrenhal, Jaime promises the Brave Companions that a Lannister always pays his debts. Jaime leaves Harrenhal with Qyburn and a Bolton part led by Steelshanks Walton. Vargo's ploy does not work, as Roose makes a deal with Tywin and abandons Harrenhal with his northern host, leaving the fortress for Lord Vargo and his men. Lord Selwyn Tarth offers money to Vargo if he gives him back his prisoner, Brienne Tarth, in one piece. But Vargo never gets promises of sapphires and feels cheated, so he tries to rape Brienne, but she bites off Vargo's ear so she's thrown into the bear pit. Jaime and Steelshanks return to Harrenhal and save Brienne before leaving Harrenhal again. By Vargo's order, the Brave Companions let the Bolton party go without a fight.
Vargo's wound becomes infected and the Lannister reprisal for his betrayal is near. Gregor Clegane marches with his army to Harrenhal after chasing Roose Bolton from the Trident. Robb Stark and most of his army are murdered at the Twins in the Red Wedding and Tywin means to pardon every river lord who rebelled against him, as well as help lords who suffered damages from his own army. Every castle will be spared except Harrenhal, as the Mummers have betrayed the Lannisters and Tywin knows the realm is best rid without these criminals.
At Harrenhal Urswyck, Rorge, Zollo and many others argue that they should leave Harrenhal before it's too late, but Vargo insists that they must keep holding it, thinking he can still be lord Harrenhal. Rorge, Zollo, Shagwell, and almost all of the Brave Companions desert the group while Vargo is slowly maddening from a fever. The Bloddy Mummers dissolve into smaller groups while Vargo remains abandoned with only a few men and the surviving servants of Harrenhal. Soon the Mountain and his men arrive at the castle, meeting a very weak resistance. Vargo had previously cut a foot from one of the cooks for unknown reasons, and this cook takes his revenge by opening the gate to Clegane. The Mountain easily kill all of the few fighting men, with little casualties from his side. He finds Vargo inside, sitting alone in fever with pus from the wound given by Brienne. Gregor retakes Harrenhal for the Lannisters and puts almost every man to the sword, except those who served House Whent that weren't killed by Roose, including some women like Pia and other few servants like the smith Ben. The northern captives that were defeated at the ruby ford of the Trident are back at Harrenhal as prisoners, including Ser Wylis Manderly. Vargo is kept alive for a slow painful death at the hands of the Mountain. He butchers Vargo, removing his limbs one at a time and sealing the wounds with fire to stop Vargo from bleeding to death. Gregor then has the limbs cooked and forces Vargo to eat his own flesh. Gregor also has his northern captives have a taste of "roast goat".
Later Gregor is summoned to court by the Queen Regent to ride in King's Landing for a trial by combat of the regicide of King Joffrey. He finally kills Vargo and names Polliver castellan of Harrenhal. Later the northern prisoners will be released and allowed back to the north.
After the war, many Brave Companions become bandits and vagabonds. Rorge's group burns and savagely rapes and slaughters the people of Saltpans. The attack is over the top and the horrors include extremely violent rape and murder, mutilation, torture, cannibalism, and child abuse. Because Rorge wears the infamous helm of Sandor Clegane, these deeds are attributed to the Hound by the people of Westeros. Cersei wants the traitor Sandor dead and tries to send her cousin Lord Lancel against him, but Ser Kevan refuses, telling her that Sandor was her dog, therefore it's her responsibility to put him down.
At the Whispers, a ruined castle in the crownlands, Brienne of Tarth meets again the former Brave Companions Timeon, Shagwell, and Pyg. Timeon tells her what happened since the last time they met and that Urswyck was heading towards Oldtown with a small band. The three Companions attack Brienne and Podrick, but they are killed at the Whispers. Rorge and Biter are later killed in a confrontation with Brienne at the crossroads inn, with the help of the Brotherhood without Banners.
Qyburn rises to the position of master of whisperers for Dowager Queen Cersei Lannister and is allowed to continue his morally arguable experiments with people Cersei wants rid of. He especially wants young girls for his experiments, they all die slow and painful deaths in the black cells. Qyburn, being an amoral scholar, shows no remorse in his actions because he strongly believes in progress and even tortures an innocent bard for Cersei until they tell exactly what the queen wants to hear from him.
Four of the five known surviving members of the Brave Companions, Urswyck, Zollo, Togg Joth and Three Toes, are on the run throughout Westeros.
- Main article: Vargo Hoat
Also known as the Goat, he's the commander of the Brave Companions. He is from Qohor. Killed at Harrenhal, during the aftermath of the War of the Five Kings, by Ser Gregor Clegane.
Vargo's TV show counterpart is Locke, a Bolton man-at-arms.
Also known as Urswyck the Faithful and Faithful Urswyck, he's Vargo's lieutenant, the second-in-command of the Bloody Mummers. He resembles a cadaver with red-rimmed eyes and dark veins showing in the pallid skin on his face and hands. He killed his own wife. He's the one who recognizes Jaime when the Mummers find him and Brienne fighting each other near Maidenpool. Jaime tries to convince him to bring him to King's Landing in return of a royal pardon, a reward, and maybe even a knighthood, but Urswyck refuses, telling Jaime that he would be a fool to trust the word of an oathbreaker. When he sees Rorge kicking Brienne, Urswyck tells him to not break any of her bones, because "the horse-faced bitch" is worth her price in sapphires, as suggested to him by Jaime. Urswyck assists when Vargo has Zollo cut off Jaime's sword hand. Urswyck later hangs it on a cord around Jaime's neck. Urswyck is heading towards Oldtown with a small band, possibly to find a ship for Essos.
A disgraced septon of the Seven, and lieutenant of the Bloody Mummers. He's a pedophile known for his preference of little boys. He rapes children before killing them, then he weeps and pray for forgiveness and often asks other members of Brave Companions to whip and scourge him, which they often do as they find it amusing. Septon Utt's leads foraging parties in the Riverlands during the war. Later he leads another party to a village septry, where his men rape and reave the local populace and murder several setpons. Utt and his group are defeated by the brotherhood without banners and he's captured by Beric Dondarrion. He's given a trial, where he confesses all his crimes before he's hanged.
- Main article: Qyburn
A former disgraced maester of the Citadel and primary healer of the group. Qyburn sought to surpass him though and instead of opening the bodies of the dead to discover the secrets of the living as the citadel has done for centuries, Qyburn instead opened the bodies of the still living to discover the secrets of death. When this was discovered, Qyburn was stripped from his position as a maester for unethical experiments he performed on living humans. He joined the Brave Companions to survive, until he left the group to go to King's Landing and find a place at court. He managed to find a place in Cersei's small council as master of whisperers and he's allowed to conducts his experiments on people in the dungeons of the Red Keep, especially on young maids.
- Main article: Shagwell
Also known as Shagwell the Fool, is a psychotic jester who tells cruel jokes and is said to be half-mad. He's murderous, sadistic, and likes to make dark-humored jokes and riddles out of negative events and deaths. Jaime considers him one of the three worst members of the Brave Companions. Rumors say that he once killed a man for not laughing at one of his japes. Shagwell spreads the story of the 'weasel soup' and Arya Stark's involvement in Harrenhal's takeover, which prompts Arya to consider adding him to her prayer kill list, but her fear of Shagwell negates this thought. He is the one who presents Arya to Lord Roose Bolton upon the latter's arrival at Harrenhal as the 'weasel who made the soup', and later kicks Amory Lorch into the bear pit. Shagwell, Zollo, and Rorge try to rape Brienne; they argue about who should go first until they decide to take her at one time. Rorge can't wait for an excuse to mutilate Brienne and cut her nose, while Shagwell encourages her to rape her bloody, mentioning how he wanted to do anal sex with his mother. Before the rape can take place however, Jaime stops them by mentioning sapphires again to Vargo Hoat. After the scattering of the Brave Companions, Shagwell, Timeon, and Pyg splinter off and go to Maidenpool to find passage out of the area, but cannot get near a ship. Dick Crabb cons Shagwell into buying a map to the Whispers, which he says is a popular smugglers' cove. The Whispers is deserted, and the group camps in the ruins until Brienne, Dick, and Podrick Payne arrive. Shagwell jumps down from above Dick and kills him with two blows of his flail. Then he and Timeon begin talking to Brienne in an attempt to distract her while they surround her. As Brienne kills Timeon and Pyg, Podrick throws stones at Shagwell until he yields. Brienne makes him dig a grave for Dick. After he completes digging, he lunges at Brienne with a rock, but she stabs him to death with a dagger.
Also known as Zollo the Fat, is a Dothraki member of the group. Jaime considers him one of the worst three members. When Jaime is captured near Maidenpool, Vargo wants to send a message to Tywin and has Zollo cut off Jaime's sword hand. Zollo, Shagwell, and Rorge argue over who would rape Brienne first but Jaime stops them. Later, Zollo leaves Harrenhal with other former Bloody Mummers.
Also known as Timeon of Dorne, is a Dornishman. He's part of the foraging party who captured Jaime Lannister and brings him to Vargo. After the death of Vargo, Timeon is killed by Brienne at the Whispers.
He has small eyes and wide flat nostrils. He joins with Shagwell and Timeon after the death of Vargo. He's killed by Brienne at the Whispers.
A scarred Dothraki. He leads a four-man squad of Bloody Mummers searching for the escaped prisoners Nan (Arya Stark), Gendry, and Hot Pie. Iggo and his group are killed by a pack of wolves. He's killed by the leader of the pack, the direwolf Nymeria, who may be protecting her former owner, Arya.
An Ibbenese from the nation of Ibben, a forested and mountainous island of the northern Essos, in the polar sea north of the eastern continent, the Shivering Sea. He is currently on the run in Westeros.
One of the Mummers who remain behind at Harrenhal after several failed foraging runs. He tries to stop Jaime when he tries to save Brienne from the bear's pit, but he's stopped by Vargo. He's on the run.
- Main article: Rorge
A dangerous criminal and a sadistic rapist from King's Landing. He's missing his nose. It's said that Rorge ran a dog and bear fighting pit in Flea Bottom. He found Biter as an orphan and raised him ferally to fight dogs in the pit. He considered raping Arya Stark at Harrenhal, despite the fact she had previously saved his life. He helps Jaqen H'ghar and the Brave Companions during the Fall of Harrenhal and after that he and Biter join with the Mummers. Initially Arya thought Jaqen was a sorcerer who summoned Rorge and Biter from some hell, and the two were serving him. After the death of Vargo, Rorge lead his man during the Raid on Saltpans. He's later killed by Brienne of Tarth during a duel in the inn at the crossroads. After his death, the helm of Sandor Clegane is taken by Lem Lemoncloak, of the brotherhood without banners, who becomes the new Hound.
- Main article: Biter
An enormous bald man, Biter was found as an orphaned child by Rorge, who raised him ferally to fight in Rorge's dog and bear fighting pit in Flea Bottom. After being captured by the Lannisters, Biter and Rorge join with the Bloody Mummers. He takes part on the Raid on Saltpans, where he mutilates and kill women and little girls. After Brienne kills Rorge at crossroads inn, Biter attacks her with his teeth, but he's killed by Gendry and his spear.