A/N: Good evening everybody! Longest chapter yet, and we're getting into the serious action.
About the questions over firearms and cannon, we haven't progressed much. I'm a little miffed about the lack of technological development in GoT, where everything seems stuck in a dark ages/Medieval time warp. I think there should be some technological development, especially considering Dany and Jon promise a sort of Renaissance for the world. But for those of you that think that it will hurt the flavor of the story, gunpowder tech took nearly a century to make efficient. It's not going to be done in a day, and as future chapters will show the impact won't be huge for a long time. The canon used to save Dany during the Harpy attack was small, good against wood but not against stone. Trust me, it'll stay true to the spirit of the show.
Please do review the story. All these followers and favs keep coming (thank you to all my wonderful readers for that), but I want to make sure you're enjoying the plot, and to see if there are any awesome ideas or suggestions :D
Catelyn Tully Stark was born into politics. Learning from the side of her father and her uncle the Blackfish - many used to say it was a shame that she were born a woman and her ineffectual brother Edmure born a man - as the wife of Lord Ned Stark and mother of King Robb Stark she had never lost her resolve. Even as bandits attacked her party while transporting Tyrion Lannister, ironically now her traveling companion under far different circumstances, she refused to give in to terror. Which only made it all the more shocking that she found herself trembling inwardly at the fiery gaze of a twenty-year old girl.
'Not just any girl, the Targaryen Queen. The mother of dragons.'
"Let us dispose of any diplomatic bluster, Lady Stark," Daenerys said icily. "Both of us know why our face to face meeting is fraught with tension, correct?"
There was no doubt that this girl wasn't born to rule. "Yes, that is correct. Lord Stark…" her eyes closed for a moment, grieving once more for her dead husband - the husband that had always remained true and faithful to her. "The late Lord Stark told me everything."
"My children are Jon's." Catelyn was partly surprised by this. Though she knew the Targaryen girl was pregnant - Ned had to have had a hand in having the horselord poisoned rather than her, knowing Robert's vile obsession with killing every Targaryen over a lie he told himself - she had assumed they were half-Dothraki. 'But they are dragons, mostly dragons but with strong wolf blood.' "Does this pose a problem for you?"
"No." Long last, the truth had purged all resentment from her system. It shouldn't have been there in the first place, and it would long be Catelyn's shame. "What are their names?"
Narrowing her eyes, Dany decided it was of no harm to tell her. "As rightful Queen, I legitimized both. Crown Prince Rhaegar Targaryen and Princess Arya Targaryen." There was some amusement in how stunned Lady Stark was at the last name. "They are both half-northern in blood, so one deserved a northern name. Who better than Jon's beloved sister."
Oh how Catelyn missed her beloved youngest daughter, likely dead somewhere in a slum in King's Landing. "You are more gracious a person than I was expecting, or that I deserve."
"You made my Jon's life the worst of all seven hells while he was growing up. Broke him as a person, all over his parentage." Dany's anger was an active volcano welling deep within her, about to explode. But she kept her cool. "An innocent baby."
Catelyn said nothing - there was nothing she could say. She merely dipped her head in shame.
"I wanted to have my dragons burn you the moment I heard your name, but a wise man that I named my dragon Edderon after told me of my father. Of what he did to his father and brother." Dany could still visualize the dinner in Illyrio's hall as if it were yesterday. "I swore I would never be like him, and I won't. For the sake of your son and Jon's brother, I will spare you and welcome you, but if you treat Jon's children as you treated Jon, I will have no qualms of ending your life."
There was no hesitance in Daenerys' tone, and Catelyn believed her. "I promise that will never happen again… I am truly remorseful, and deeply ashamed. It wasn't even worth anything, given the true facts."
A thin eyebrow rose. "Continue."
Trembling slightly, emotions long buried from necessity let out at last, Catelyn clasped her hands together. "Ned… he kept a huge secret. One that seemed so far-fetched based on what is in the conventional wisdom, but he had proof. I didn't believe it at first, but I know it to be the truth." She took in Daenerys' icy violet eyes - the Queen gave nothing away. It was quite humbling to have someone thirty years her junior outmatch her in every way. "About his sister, Lyanna, and your brother, Rhaegar."
One of the last things she ever expected this to be about, surprise flickered on Dany's face. 'Rhaegar… my brother…' And with the young Stark girl, all the stories… "My brother kidnapped and raped your sister-in-law, and she died in childbirth. I am not proud of it…"
"Please, your Grace," Catelyn cut her off. "She did die in childbirth, but as the Crown Princess." Eyes widened at that. "Lyanna was married to Rhaegar, documents hidden at Winterfell prove that. Ned showed them to me, before… he left." The anguish of her misdeeds still ate away at Lady Stark, but this was the right course of action. "In Dorne, before she died in my late husband's arms, she gave birth to a son. The trueborn son of Rhaegar Targaryen." Even with years to digest it was still so incredible.
To Daenerys, it felt as if her entire world was spinning out of control. "A trueborn son?" Under primogeniture, a child of the eldest son always ranked higher in the line of succession than any sibling, boy or girl. If this child was alive, then he had a higher claim. Dany didn't know whether to feel elated at another one of her blood or sick at the throne she had long fought for belonged to another… to a part-dragon, part-wolf just like her twins. Oh the irony. "Is this child alive?" she asked, heart clenched.
"Yes." This way, being the one to tell the Mother of Dragons about her long-lost nephew, the father of her children, brought Catelyn face to face with what had burned within her for decades. "Lyanna promised her brother, my husband, to protect the child. Robert Baratheon and Tywin Lannister were determined to kill every Targaryen…"
"... to which they killed my niece and nephew, and forced my brother and I to flee Westeros." The story was coming together for Dany - and one thought did emerge as to where it could end. 'Is…?' No. It couldn't be. The gods could never be that kind to her.
Catelyn nodded. "Aye, they did. My husband was an honorable man." Daenerys did not object, knowing this first hand. "Even if it meant that he had to seem a man of dishonor. Accept a permanent stain on his character. Call the trueborn heir his bastard son."
One could hear a pin drop in the solar. Shock still, hands gripping the arms of her chair, the news hit Daenerys like an oncoming plains mammoth. "Jon." The one word, one name - name of her live - left her lips like a whisper.
"Jon Snow, the boy I insanely hated out of petty jealousy and vicarious spite, is not Ned Stark's bastard. He is Jaehaerys Targaryen, the trueborn son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. The union of ice and fire, of dragon and wolf." Her heart was heavy, watching the young woman before her react to news that turned an entire worldview upside down. But she had to know - if anyone deserved to know, it was Daenerys Stormborn, the Mother of Dragons. The father of Jon's children.
Lurching to her feet, Dany gripped the wooden back of her chair to avoid toppling over. Her windpipe clenched. Jon was her blood. Jon was a Targaryen, a Dragonwolf just like Rhaegar and Arya. 'My nephew.' The true heir to the throne, greater than the claims of her or her brother.
Knowing it wasn't her place, Catelyn still stood. "Your Grace…"
"Leave me!" came the reply, as pure dragon as she was. Nodding, Catelyn obeyed.
Door slamming shut behind her, crack echoing through the room, Dany sucked in the fresh air lungful by lungful - letting it settle her system. Her heart raced, thoughts rapid. Everything had changed, and yet nothing did. Targaryens married within the family, hence her longstanding belief that she would have to marry Viserys… but no longer. Ever symbolic, the true Crown Prince would have been her likely husband if there had been no Rebellion… and gods or god or fate had brought them together anyway. Brought them to fall in love.
"Do not be sad, sweet Daenerys. You aren't as alone as you think."
"My love." Slowly, surely, a smile formed on her face. A happy smile. Recognizing destiny, kind and benevolent. "Blood of my blood."
The northern gales were surprisingly absent on this voyage. Normally beating upon any ship with a captain dumb enough to venture it out into these waters north of the wall - not that anything really ventured north of Karkold other than small fishing boats - Davos Seaworth was glad for the relative calm. Watching seasick landlubbers aboard boat was amusing and all, the wildling Tormund Giantsbane the worst of the lot, but in his vast experiences during his smuggling days found him in winds that would test even his iron stomach. Best avoid them, and pray for rain.
Shouting a command to three roustabouts manning the main sail, he went back to his fruitless searching. "Where is that boy?" Davos reasoned he should address the Lord Commander more respectfully, but he was a mere boy to him. 'Hells, most of the power players here are mere youngsters.' At least Stannis Baratheon was his age…
Speaking of youngsters, only a few feet ahead of him passed Margaery Tyrell. Even aboard ship she had a beauty to envy all women. "Good day, Ser Davos," she said, smiling kindly. They had gotten quite used to each other on the voyage north from the Reach.
That made her perfect for his question. "Same to you, mi'Lady. Do you know where the Lord Commander is?"
"Ah yes." She pointed to the bow. "Up ahead on the forecastle, alone and brooding. Do you happen to know where Lord Stark is?"
"In the stern, going over matters with Giantsbane." He couldn't help but smirk at how she sped off. If Jon Snow was the overall commander and Davos was the fleet commodore, Lady Margaery was in charge of the naval logistics. Normally scandalous for a woman to handle, she insisted and neither Jon nor Robb Stark objected - not that Davos would expect the latter to once it was fleshed out that she would stay aboard ship for the actual fun, given the way he looked at her. 'Young love.'
Jon Snow was unlike any commander he knew. He was no king, yet could have been a great one - no demons like Stannis, overconfidence like Renly, gluttony like Robert, madness like the Mad King, and all of the former along with pure idiocy like Joffrey. The brooding, man of few words that the Bastard of Winterfell was made one under his command wish to fight for him. Was not afraid to get into the thick of the fray but also giving a damn about his men's lives.
Perhaps Davos had found his proper patron.
Shaking himself out of his contemplation, Davos found Jon staring at him. "Forgive me, Lord Commander, for disturbing you."
Black cloak covered shoulders shrugged. "Eh, better that you did."
"Something eating away at you?"
"No…" Jon looked back at the sea. "Just thinking about those lost."
Images of the Battle of Blackwater Bay flashed in Davos' mind. Of the men that sailed off with Stannis to help Jon's father in King's Landing - including his own son - that were never seen again. "Can't help that, but better to look at the future."
"Aye." Eyes bored intensely at the waves. "If we don't rescue the free folk from the dead, then we're doomed." Davos stayed silent - he still thought the lad was daft there, but who was he to speak on that? He had seen the red witch. Jon looked at the onion knight. "Where is Lady Margaery?"
An amused snort. "Looking for your brother."
Jon laughed. "I am sure something is up between them." Those were the same looks he gave Dany and she gave him.
"I wouldn't be a good analyst there," Davos replied.
"Are you sure this is wise, marrying the Lady Stark? It would essentially mean declaring war on the Lannisters."
"Perhaps it is time that we do so! That is my throne!"
"Calm down My King. Lord Karstark is just cautious, after all." A pause. "Lady Stark will secure my hold on the North until it isn't necessary anymore. I have assurances that we will not declare war yet, but we will. Once then, you will be proclaimed King with me as your hand."
"And then we march south with the North, Vale, and Riverlands behind us!"
"I may have to tidy up some… loose ends," the way he said it made Brienne of Tarth shiver from her hiding place. "But yes. Joffrey will die and you will be the sole King."
Turning her attention from Podrick bringing hay to the horses, Brienne gazed back upon the tower of Winterfell. In there was the Lady Sansa, whom she had sworn before her mother and the Seven to protect with her life. It was only two weeks ago that Lord Baelish had married her off to Ramsay Bolton, after three months where he had seduced, married, and survived Lysa Arryn - her body falling down the Moon Door. Brienne had a feeling she was murdered, but couldn't prove it.
Her mind replayed the overheard conversation again and again between Bolton, Karstark, and the mysterious silver-haired man. Was he a Targaryen? Had to be. 'What in hells is going on?' Sansa was in danger, she was sure of it, but the stubborn Stark had refused her help after her Aunt's death and didn't respond to her offer. But Brienne was patient. If the candle appeared in the tower as she had told Sansa, then she would save the girl.
Such was her duty.
Nothing much had changed in Hardhome since Jon Snow had left it during that fateful blizzard. It was just as scrappy and rough, domesticated mammoth hauling blocks of wood and supplies around the camp, wildling children running and fighting in jest, and the adults breaking their backs to eek out an existence at the top of the world. The large, central yurt where Mance Rayder 'held court' was thick with the pungent smoke from burning mammoth dung chips. Jon was used to it, and he and Tormund couldn't help but share amusement over how both Robb and Margaery blanched at the smell. 'They wanted to come ashore, after all.' He insisted that Robb wait at shore and Margaery stay on the ships, but his brother wanted to back him up and the Rose of Highgarden insisted on representing the Tyrells.
However, there was a sense of defeat among the wildlings. Normally proud and untamed, a malaise had gripped Hardhome, one that Jon hated despite his Northern upbringing and Night's Watch training. He should hate them all, but came to respect the Free Folk. Such was why he was here, currently at a loss of how to convince them of his plan.
"You talk about the fucking Wall, King Crow?" asked a female chieftain incredulously, a skilled archer if Jon remembered correctly. Jeers followed from most of the other chieftains, Mance staying quiet as ever on his 'throne.' "The wall was built to keep us out…"
Silent till now, Robb jumped in. "According to legend, Brandon the Builder constructed the Wall after the Long Night. As the Lord of Winterfell, the wildlings have caused great damage to the North." 'Easy brother,' Jon wanted to say. It didn't seem like a good idea to piss off their hosts. Robb, however, was more diplomatic than his history with the Freys gave him credit for. "But if the stories I have been told by all of you are true, then there was a greater threat, one that all of us should care about stopping."
"When has a crow cared about us?" another chieftain growled, hardened gaze throwing daggers at Jon and the other Westerosi - yet after Tormund beat to death one who spat insults and tried to grope Margaery, basic decorum was adhered to, of a sort.
"In normal times we wouldn't, I am ashamed to say. But the past is irrelevant now." He looked them all over, making sure to meet eyes with all of them at least once. "The dead don't see the difference between southerner, crow, or free folk. We're just a threat to their goal and meat for their army."
"And you think the… dragonglass would stop them?" asked another.
Jon nodded. "Aye, I've seen it happen."
"Who cares?! We're sitting ducks here!" Tormund shouted. "Even a bunch of cunts would see living for a chance is preferable to being some corpse soldier!" Jon noticed Margaery smile slightly. The wildling may have been crude, but he got the point across. Even better, many were starting to come around, nodding at his statement. After admitting to killing Ygritte, the fate of Jon's head had been questionable before Tormund defended him and told the true story. "I've served with Jon Snow. He may be a prissy southerner." Robb couldn't help but chortle at that. "But he fights hard, and is noble." Tormund placed a hand on his shoulder. "I trusted him with my life, and he never gave me a reason to doubt it."
Poised and dignified even someplace so far removed from the Reach, Margaery stepped forward. "House Tyrell is prepared to support Lord Commander Snow with its fleet of ships. Designed to haul grain, they will fit thousands of… Free Folk and their beasts of burden." A slight boasting, but enough.
"There is considerable land lying fallow north of Last Hearth," Robb added. "No one has used it for centuries, and I as the son and heir of the great Ned Stark join Jon Snow in pledging it to the Free Folk if they agree to common cause."
More murmurs among the chieftains. "Better to trust King Crows and the soft lady than die here." Even skeptics like the female chief were starting to agree.
"Fools." The bald chieftain, apparent leader of the hardliners, sauntered menacingly up to the three Westerosi. "As soon as you all get aboard their ships, they'll push your bodies into the Shivering Sea." He passed by Jon, then Robb, then Margaery - who to her credit stood firm and unafraid, truly a woman stronger than her title as the Rose of Highgarden would suggest. Tormund ended up getting the worst look of all. "Take your 'New Life,' and your glass, and shove it up your arse."
A loud growl filled the room. The head giant bared his maw at the chieftain. "Tormund!" His finger pointed at Jon. "Snow!" Grunting, he slammed an open fist against his barrel chest. "Go south, must!." As ringing an endorsement as ever.
Silent through the whole discussion, deeply contemplative but with dark eyes aware of everything around him, Mance Rayder, King Beyond the Wall, stood tall. He walked right up to Jon Snow, staring him in the eyes. "I can tell whether someone is a liar, because I've dealt with many in my life." His gaze shifted to the assembled chiefs. "Jon Snow was one of us. He proved himself, killing a mammoth single handedly. I know he tells the truth, he, the Lord Stark, and the Lady Tyrell. We will go south, and save ourselves!" There were scattered cheers, far from uniform, but it seemed to Jon that the hardest part was over.
Oh how he would rue that thought.
Samwell Tarly stared at the old man in disbelief - the Maester of Castle Black's words defied all the odds. And yet they solved every unexplainable mystery that the disgraced scion of Hornhill ever encountered. 'Jon's hands. The dragon.' Unburnt. Blood of the Dragon. He opened his mouth several times, but nothing came out. Jaw awkwardly flopping like a fish, it all seemed like some surreal joke nonetheless.
"Jon…" he finally croaked, "Is a Targaryen?" As for what went through his head when Maester Aemon asked for advice to soothe his ailing heart, to cleanse his soul of a secret…
The cold draft chilling his ancient bones to the core, Aemon nodded. "The long lost son of my great-great nephew." Emotion clogged his voice, able to openly talk about the reason as to why he was never alone anymore. "A Targaryen alone in the world is a terrible thing. I would have died long ago had I not known I was never alone since he arrived."
"That is why the dragon obeys him… because he has Valyrian blood. The dragonriders of old…" Shock wearing off, Sam felt a slight excitement at this new discovery. And yet… "But his love for Daenerys Targaryen? She would be his aunt, correct?" Jon would not like that.
Aemon nodded. "Yes, though the same age that is what they are. But it is of no consequence," he dismissed. "Had Robert Baratheon not rebelled, I have no doubt they would have married. Love may be the death of duty, but... " he trailed off, remembering a prophecy he had once heard. 'Ice and fire.'
Sam, less emotional and melancholy, came to quick conclusions. "He has to know. You have to tell him." Aemon was silent. "Jon has existed his entire life feeling he is a bastard, when he is the true King of the Seven Kingdoms!" Good, bad, or indifferent, he was determined to let him know the truth.
Sighing, Aemon knew he had to. "I will tell him when he returns." The room suddenly got much colder. It seemed as if something was planning to make that a challenge.
Hardhome was a blaze of activity. The to and fro of boats from the Tyrell grain fleet to the few jettys that the wildlings had built was a maze of crisscrossing paths and oars. Each small shuttle was filled to the brim with as many Free Folk as they could carry, the few large rafts moving the young mammoth beasts of burden that would serve their owners south of the wall. Jon had to commend the skill of Ser Davos on shore, Margaery on the boats, and the Tyrell crews. Without their fantastic work, the whole morning and early afternoon would have been a clusterfuck of epic proportions to get the irascible and untamed wildlings out.
His eyes settled on the female chieftain, bringing her children and comforting them as they wedged into a boat with fifteen other wildlings. Priorities were to the women, children, and skilled craftsmen with enough strong warriors to keep them all in line. They had reached the bare minimum to keep the Free Folk culture alive.
Even still… "How many have we got on board? Nine thousand out of how many?"
"Do I look like I can count?" Tormund shot back at him.
"Regardless, we're leaving too many behind."
"Free Folk are stubborn," Mance stated flatly. "Took me twenty years to gather all the clans together. We'll probably get twelve, seventeen thousand out of here with the remaining eight coming along later."
Tormund snorted. "Lack of food will bring them around. The Dead have already turned nearly everything up here."
Grabbing the dispatch from one of the sailors, Davos' boots squelched through the frost-covered mud as he found Jon, Robb, and Tormund. "Lady Margaery says they're at about a third capacity at this point."
"Not enough," Jon said, concerned.
"We're prepared to abandon all the equipment and stores," Tormund stated. "That can be replaced. Lives can't."
"Jon!" The Lord Commander turned to find Robb trotting up to him. "The chieftain of the Burned Men Clan has changed his mind, adding his four hundred to our total wishing to leave."
A rare smile poked out onto his face. "Good, you and Finn get them prepared…"
Below the railing, the latest boatload began climbing the hung nets toward the deck. While most noblewomen of Westeros - aside from the majority who wouldn't bother leaving their castles - wouldn't sully themselves by dealing with smallfolk of any stripe, Margaery Tyrell was in the heat of the action. A soft hand reached out to help two small children climb over the top. "There you go, dears," she said kindly.
"I want my mother," one whined, holding back tears.
Margaery hugged them to her. "She'll come soon, I promise." She turned to Jon's page, clad in a small black cloak of the brotherhood. "Ollie, get these two to one of the braziers, warm them up."
Ollie's face showed… displeasure at having to deal with wildlings in any manner besides killing them, but he obeyed.
Suddenly, Margaery felt an unnatural chill pierce to her very bone. The air around all must have dropped considerably. A cacophony erupted aboard ship as every dog began to bark, every mammoth stowed below decks letting out a trumpeting hoot that resonated in every ear.
Head turning slowly from where he and Robb were talking, Jon saw the ominous cloud of swirling ice and snow blowing over the rocky crags and toward the plain of Hardhome. "Seven Hells," came the murmur.
"I thought we'd have more time," Mance said beside him. And then the panic started. One by one, the shouts of fear and terror began to echo from beyond the wooden gates. "SHUT THEM!" Mance screamed, running as fast as his legs could carry him. "SHUT THE DAMN GATES!"
It was here. They were here. Of this Jon had no doubt, the dead had arrived. It was all up to them now, get as many out as possible before the jaw snapped shut and Hardhome was completely overwhelmed. The panic hadn't yet reached the docks, but it would. "Davos!" he yelled. "You and the Tyrell men get as many onto the boats as you can!"
Fear of the unknown was etched into the sea dog's eyes. "And yourself?"
"I'm staying. Robb, get on!"
"I'm with you Jon." He drew his own sword. "Somebody's gotta protect your ass."
"If they get through the wall," Tormund said. "We're all dead."
Jon knew this, knew the hopelessness of it all. "Night's Watch! With me!" Even then… Running, he cleared his mind and searched for the connection. 'Come to me, boy. I need you. We need you.' His mind yelled with all its strength. 'Come to me.'
Atop a mountain some ways away, a pair of lids shot back, eyes wide at the distress call from its rider. Leathery wings spread apart as the beast rose into the air. Dragonfire brewed in Rhaegal's belly, ready to defend his father and rider to the death.
Chaos, terrible chaos. Wildling warriors dashed towards the wooden wall blocking the entire mass of dead from swarming the camp. No great barrier of ice and rock, nor even a simple stout stone wall, it was. The wood had already been penetrated in many places. Trickles of corpses, some fresh in death and others walking skeletons had clawed their way in and were killing indiscriminately. Jon swung Longclaw wildly, slicing a skull clean off before jinking and sending the Valyrian steel right into the breast of another.
A heaving breath filled with ice was sucked into his lungs as he dispatched the wild sword swing of another. He had lost Robb in the chaos. Tormund, Finn, Gren, the other chieftains… all were unknown to him in the frenzied fight. Giants stampeding through the camp, smashing corpse after corpse in their wake, were too big to lose track of - together the ragged line had held them at bay for the most part, but it was only a matter of time before the wall fell.
Two charged at him in a frenzy, jaws peeling rotting flesh as they opened in animal snarls. A swift kick sent one sprawling, Longclaw earning another kill when Jon brought it down upon the other's head. An axe to the spine dispatched the other one. "Thought you could use a hand," Mance Rayder said dryly.
"I had it under control."
"Sure you did." The King beyond the wall held up the bag of dragonglass blades. His gaze shifted. "Watch out!" Warned by Mance's shout, Jon just manages to dart out of the way as a walker swings the sharp edge of an ice spear at his gut. Toppling to the ground in a heap, he watched helplessly as the King beyond the wall swings his own battle axe at the monster. It shattered upon contact, ice spear twirling above before striking home in Mance's gut. With the lifeless body now upon the ground like a sack of grain, the similarly lifeless being swung at Jon. The Lord Commander brought Longclaw up, a vain attempt to parry…
To Jon's wide eyes, and to the gaping jaw of the white walker, the Valyrian steel held firm - unbroken. Yelling a cry at the top of his lungs, Jon swing around, the ancient sword slicing through the beast's midsection. It left nothing but ice.
Breathing deeply, Jon looked up at the ridge. A cluster of mounted men rested atop the rocks. Horses were dead, nothing more than rotting flesh or bone while their ice blue riders stared down below. The white walkers.
"It's gonna fall!" Tormund - at least he thought it was Tormund, spoke true. The wooden wall collapsed from the sheer weight of the horde, snarling dead swarming over it like an ant colony after a dead caterpillar. It was then that the world erupted into flame, welcome heat hitting Jon's skin. 'Just in time. Good job, boy.'
Eyes centered on the figure that could only be his rider, Rhaegal used all his strength to spit dragonfire on the mob of tormentors set to do him harm. Jet after jet laced from his maw, the unprotected corpses falling like ants to a wave of water. A solid fence of flame, thin but solid, separated the snarling host from Jon and the others he was protecting. Twenty-five foot wings flapped in the air as he banked around. The fire wouldn't last for long, and Rhaegal would hold them back as long as it took for his rider to escape to safety.
Hearing the exultant cheers from his men, feeling Robb try to guide him back as Tormund finished off another wight, a glint of sun caught Jon's eye. To the left, atop the high crags with the other white walkers, walked the imposing figure. Skin as blue as ice, the pale crown atop his head made him indistinguishable to all. The terror of many a child's horror tale. The Night King. Within his grasp rested a pointed spear, raising high. He hurled it into the air with all his strength.
Jaws dropped and eyes widened in terrible wonder as the spear struck true.
"NO!" A wave of pain slammed into Jon Snow, feeling the same burning cold and stabbing anguish that the spear had sliced into Rhaegal's shoulder. Arm lashing out, three wights crumpled into broken heaps of bone and flesh as the Lord Commander's legs pumped towards where his dragon was falling. The panicked cries of Robb and Tormund - along with the deep bellows of the giants - were faint in Jon's mind. Like Ghost, Rhaegal was his. The dragon and he shared a connection, and he'd be damned to every hell if he didn't save him.
The green dragon, now covered in mud, snow, and his own blood, had luckily landed on the inner side of the fires. It bought him time, currently spent weakly trying to dislodge a few corpses trying to crawl all over him. Hearing the pained shriek, Jon hurled Longclaw like a javelin into the back of a wight, Rhaegal's jaws clamping down on the other. Grabbing the sword, Jon reached his beast's head. "Easy, buddy. It's almost over." Rhaegal hooted weakly, nudging Jon's side. A gaping but shallow cut across the dragon's side underneath the wing oozed blood. It looked worse than it had to be, but unless Rhaegal could get to safety he was doomed. "We're gonna get you out of here… somehow."
Turning to face the ridgeline, Jon could see the Night King, now off his undead horse and staring down with another ice spear in his hands. Longclaw raised itself at the ready. "Just try it."
Eyes meeting, the Night King let it fly…
Only for the Valyrian steel to shatter the ice into crystals, muted sun sparkling off them. He wouldn't try that again, but with the fires dying out, if Jon couldn't get Rhaegal out then the hordes of dead would do the job just as well. One group was just about to stampede over it.
Bellowing a gutteral war cry, the corpses were batted aside by a log-wielding Giant. One straggler was smashed by Tormund's hand axe as Robb grabbed Jon's cloak. "I'm not losing another brother, damn you! Come on!"
"Rhaegal!" Jon cried, the panic in his voice dying as a second giant gingerly lifted the dragon into his arms, as if carrying a child. 'That works.'
Tormund grabbed his axe. "Stop fucking around, cunts! Let's go!" The snarls grew ever louder as a second mass charged from atop the cliff. Sickening crunches impacted against the stone and dirt, but they kept coming. Robb literally hauled Jon out of there, them and Tormund falling into place behind the giant carrying Rhaegal while the other swung wildly with the log, covering them.
"Hurry!" True to his duty, Davos manned the last boat - with just enough room for the three survivors. The two brothers lept into the craft, boots scraping along the hull. Tormund followed, a skeleton on his back as he smacked onto the wood. Four swords smashed into the attacker, a small splash marking its watery grave while bigger splashes announced the giants wading into the bay. One held the moaning Rhaegal high above her head, both tall enough to walk along the muddy bottom. Through his connection, Jon breathed a sigh of relief. His dragon had made it.
Thousands of pairs of eyes watched the land, still with the dead and undead. The last futile screams echoed from the remaining dying. A sight not seen since the days of legend thousands of years before played out, the single figure of the Night King walking towards the jetty. His army parted for him, like waves clearing a path through a stormy sea. Glowing blue eyes locked with Jon's, soulless anger at losing a promising specimen meeting resolute determination. Slowly, hauntingly, the Night King raised his arms.
Aboard ship, as Rhaegal was gently placed on the deck, Margaery Tyrell stared at the shore in terrified wonder - Ollie by her side in the same manner. On the boat, Davos and Robb mirrored the Rose of Highgarden's expression. The Young Wolf spared a glance at Jon, who replied with a mournful gaze of confirmation. All at once, thousands of freshly dead Free Folk rose as one, fodder to the Night King's army.
There was no doubting the threat now.
Since my last letter, I have been informed by a reliable source that the dragon that Lord Commander Snow, Lady Tyrell, and Lord Stark have in their arsenal is dead. Killed by the cold North of the Wall. Yet they bring an army of wildlings to threaten the entire North.
He may have the support of the majority, but there are true brothers that fight for the Watch as I do. My men will do whatever they can to end this threat before it can truly form, but I implore you and the King to plan for if I fail.
Gods save the Targaryen Dynasty.
Ser Alliser Thorne
A/N: Hope y'all liked :)
Dany now knows about Jon, and considering her family and her desire for familial love (Viserys sure isn't giving it to her), it's only natural that she's taking it very well. Catelyn will still have to prove herself.
Given Thorne's loyalties, he'd definitely throw his lot in with Viserys and Ramsay. We'll have more on Sansa's plight next chapter, but since Stannis isn't an issue Brienne will be more on top of things (remember, her ultimate target is Tywin).
Thanks to Jon, the giants, and just a bit of luck, Rhaegal lives! It'll put him out of action for a while, but serve as a lesson for the future. Our gallery of heroes - Robb, Margaery, and Davos - all have seen the dead, so it'll be easier to convince the others. Additionally, more Wildlings have been saved here than in canon.
Be sure to let me know what you think, cause more big stuff is gonna go down next chapter. Getting closer and closer to the reunion ;)