Summary: Urban fantasy/apocalypse AU. When he Red Priestess Melisandre raises the dead, Sansa Stark and the Tyrell siblings find themselves in peril as the lives they have known begin to crumble.
St. Andrew's Church is empty, save for one woman. She stands behind a lectern whose polished rosewood gleams dully in what little moonlight slants through the stained-glass windows. Her face is dappled with colour from the glass; pinks, greens and blues – they make her features look strangely disparate, like bits of a puzzle fixed hastily together.
It is an effort for the Red Priestess to wrench the words out of her throat; they emerge garbled and fragmented. It is not satisfactory. It is not enough.
"Libertatem – libertatem mortis. Libertatem mortis. Libertatem mortis."
They say words have power, but that is not strictly true. Words may have power, but it all depends upon who speaks them. And the Red Priestess has power; whatever the rest of the Way of Light might say about her; that much, at least, is true.
"Libertatem mortis!" Freedom in death. She will finish what she started. Shadows, sinuous and somehow solid, wrap themselves around her. A keen wind whips back her hair. Her mouth is a wide, yawning, gaping thing, the words rolling forth from it inexorably. And with the words comes what can only be described as a roiling tide of more shadow.
The shadows coalesce, dripping downward and then elongating into humanoid forms, scabbed and slick; mottled grey in colour. Creatures of ash and shadow. Her creatures. She did this.
She made this possible.
Libertatem mortis. Freedom in death. The Red Priestess' shadow-children press palm to palm, merging their energies; breeding. The Way of Light will thank her for this, she knows. She has given them a means of taking the city; a means, moreover, of destroying the Sighted Families.
Her laughter screams through the little church. The little church that is now no longer consecrated ground.
"Go!" she half-screams at her creations, through her laughter, "Go! Find them all! Stark! Baratheon! Lannister! Greyjoy! Tyrell! Tully! Martell! Find them! Kill them!"
Sansa is sitting in the bathtub when the ghost of her father visits her. His invasion of her privacy is an instantaneous mark of the seriousness of the situation, but Sansa, bringing her knees up to her chest with a splash and wrapping her arms tightly about them in indignant humiliation, does not see this immediately.
"Dad!" she shrieks, "What are you – can't you see I'm – get out."
Her father – not transparent the way ghosts appear in books and on the television, but with a certain pale, insubstantial quality to his form nevertheless – stands near the sink, pointedly not looking at her. When Sansa realises that Ned is diligently scrutinising the door-knob, she composes herself enough to ask, not without a trace of asperity:
"What are you doing here?"
There is a brief, weighted pause before Ned speaks. When he does, he sounds exactly as she remembers, though he is grimmer than she has ever heard him (which is saying a lot).
"The Red Priestess Melisandre has called forth the shadows of the dead and given them form," he tells her, "She's sending them after all the Sighted Families. She wants control of the city, Sansa, and then after that the entire country, and then the Gods only know what. Get your mother; get Robb and Bran and Rickon; Jon and Arya, too, if you can find them."
Water sluices down Sansa's body as she stands up and steps out of the bath, stumbling; made clumsy in her panic. She snatches up a towel; warm, soft and butter-yellow, all while her father fixes his gaze on the door, his mouth a thin line.
"Why couldn't you reach Mum?" she asks, scrubbing furiously at her skin in a fruitless attempt to dry herself more quickly.
"She's meeting with some of the lesser Sighted Families this evening to try and form an alliance; you know that. I couldn't risk appearing to her in front of the Freys – you know how they are."
Sansa wrinkles her nose and suppresses a shiver. "I don't know why she had to –" she begins, but Ned cuts her off gravely.
"We need all the help we can get, Sansa. War's on the way. And we might have the advantage of the Sight, but none of us have ever fought an enemy like this one, before." A ripple runs the length of the strange, diluted echo of her father and he sighs loosely. "I'm fading, Sansa. I have to go. Find your mother – good luck – be safe –"
And then, quick as a blink, he is gone.
Clutching the towel to her, Sansa barrels through the empty house, graceless in her haste. She crashes through her bedroom door and drops the towel without preamble, scrabbling for clothes in the warmth of her walk-in wardrobe. Here, amongst the soft winter coats and chiffon dresses an designer jeans, nothing seems different, and for just a moment she stands still and allows herself to pretend that everything is normal.
But the sense that something is amiss clogs the air and settles on her bare arms with a feeling akin to pins and needles, and she snags the nearest pair of jeans and, frantically, begins to dress.
Garlan Tyrell is leaving Paddington Station when the shadows take him.
Had he not been on the phone to his girlfriend, Leonette; had he been paying more attention; had he been less tired and restless from his journey, he might not have proved such an easy target. Even as he is slammed against the wall and his phone clatters to the curb, he is cursing himself because damn it, he is strong. He should have had a chance. But the cold's bone deep, paralysing. He can't move his arms to reach for the knife he carries with him. Heck, he can't even move his head. His eyes stare fixedly ahead into a looming face, eyes like pools of thick, viscous tar; jaw flopping uselessly; flat nose contracting even further as it scents him, and he knows he is going to die.
Leonette's voice floats up from the phone on the ground like a shrill, distant echo. Panicked, she's saying his name over and over. She's not Sighted. She doesn't know. She probably thinks he's being mugged or –
He doesn't complete the thought, because teeth that seem to be made of stone and glass and fire all at once tear at his flesh and then he knows no more.