A/N: Er, hello everyone. I hope people are still reading this? I haven't abandoned it, honest! I just had the worst case of writer's block ever, due in large part to not knowing how to wrap up the werewolf subplot. But I found a way! Here is the result.
Summary: Ria's off to talk to Neloth, leaving a worried Cicero to follow in her wake, and a wary Vilkas along for the ride. But it's Aela who's really got her work cut out for her, what with werebears to deal with and one in particular who just won't leave her alone.
"Gone?" Cicero wailed. "What do you mean gone? She cannot be gone already, she was here yesterday!"
"Yeah, and she left this morning with that Nord chap of hers," Geldis said, rolling eyes. "We're a cornerclub, people come and go, that's how it works."
Cicero growled at the innkeeper, eyes flashing in rage, and Lucien decided to step in. While he wasn't averse to Cicero losing his temper and stabbing people, they could do without the publicity.
"Did she leave a note or say where she was going?" Lucien asked, and Geldis only looked a little unnerved by the ghost of a dead assassin following Cicero around.
"Now that you mention it, yeah she did," Geldis said, producing a note. "Left it here, said to give it to you and tell you she was sorry. Can't imagine what for, but you're Cicero, aren't you?"
Cicero nodded enthusiastically, proclaiming that he was, he was, and took the note, all smiles now he was getting somewhere, even tipping Geldis for his trouble. The good mood lasted until he'd finished the note.
I know you said to wait, and I'm really sorry, but it's worse than any of us thought. We've got no time to lose. Cleansing the Stones won't be enough, Miraak's found another way back, and he's using us to do it. I can't explain any more, but Vilkas and I are going to Tel Mithryn now to do the last Stone and see if Neloth can help. I hope so, because otherwise I don't know who else might.
Come and find me at Tel Mithryn, I promise I'll tell you everything there. Don't worry, we're going to get this bastard and kill him, you and me. I won't let you face him alone again. You don't have to tell me what happened but I'm not letting him hurt you again.
"She's gone," Cicero whispered. "Lucien, she's gone! To Tel Mithryn! Without me!"
"Sneaking off without her parent's knowledge to go and have adventures on her own, I wonder where she possibly got that from," Lucien remarked with a grin. Thanks to Stelmaria, all sorts of stories of Cicero's childhood were now doing the rounds, principally concerning how he had caused his poor mother no end of worry by constantly disappearing and getting himself into mischief. Sadly, Cicero right now was too worked up to even consider that.
"We must go after her!" Cicero gasped. "Now, now! Who knows what might happen to her out there? Where is Calixto, we need to leave at once!" Cicero raced out of the cornerclub, Lucien following behind, and Geldis breathed a sigh of relief to see him gone. The crazy fool may have done something about the Earth Stone and helped everyone sleep easier, and got the ebony mine re-opened, and perhaps even saved the First Councillor from assassination... but that didn't mean he wasn't a crazy fool.
"That's it?" Aela whispered, staring down at the old ruin. It wasn't big, all open to the air, and according to Hjordis, home to four werebears, three of which were sitting around in human form, dressed in nothing but ragged trousers and footwraps, easy to replace and repair after a transformation. Aela pitied them.
"That's them," Hjordis whispered. "Don't be fooled, they may look harmless but once they change..."
She didn't need to elaborate. Aela had seen them in action herself.
"Then we had best make sure we get them first," she said softly. "Maybe they're fierce in bear form, but like that, they're men like any other."
"Not quite," a male voice growled behind them, and Hjordis wheeled round with her dagger, growling at the intruder. Aela placed a hand on her arm, staying Hjordis's hand as she turned to look at the speaker. She knew who it was. Who else would care about the werebears?
"Torkild," Aela said wearily. "What is it you want?"
Torkild was standing up against a tree, dressed in the same rags the other werebears wore, and how he wasn't freezing was a mystery. He had his arms folded, grinning at Aela, staring unashamedly at her body rather than her face.
"You know what I want, Red Wolf," he laughed. "I should be asking what you want. Not to be part of their clan, I'm sure. They won't want werewolves. If you're lucky they'll kill you and your friend here. If you're unlucky... you'll end up as their brood mares." Torkild stepped forward, smile fading. "Just so you know, I'm not happy about that."
"You'd rather I was just your brood mare," Aela snapped, stepping smartly away from him. Torkild laughed, sounding only slightly bitter.
"It's not just the breeding, Red Wolf," Torkild said, seriousness creeping into his face for once. "You're a prize for more than that. You'd be a damn good alpha. Even if there were never any cubs, we could always recruit. Wolves and bears have been at each other's throats for too long. We could wipe the others out or conquer them, start over. Build a new pack, a united one."
Build a new pack, made of werebears and werewolves. Not something Aela had ever considered. She'd not even thought it was possible. But they were all Hircine's children after all... she just wasn't sure she wanted Torkild as her mate.
"Aela, you can't be serious. He's a werebear!" Hjordis cried. "He's the one who tried to kill you when we found you. You aren't seriously thinking of founding a pack with him!"
Torkild finally deigned to spare Hjordis a look. "Should we start with her?" he growled and Hjordis reached for her dagger, glaring back. Hircine help her, this could turn into a bloodbath if she wasn't careful.
"No!" she shouted. "Look, stop it, the pair of you. I'm not... look, I have a pack! Back in Skyrim and when all this is done, I'm going back there. With the Rings of Hircine, and Hjordis if she's willing. You aren't coming, Torkild, and I am not your mate!"
"You have a pack?" Torkild said, confused. "But... where are they?"
"They're called the Companions of Ysgramor, and they live in a city called Whiterun," Hjordis explained, her expression saying no, she didn't understand it either. Torkild's eyes widened.
"In a city? You can't hunt in a city! Is she – Red Wolf, tell me it's not true." Torkild's face turned to disappointment as he realised it was. "By Hircine, Red Wolf. No wonder you're resisting. Well, never mind. Stay here, we can teach you how it's supposed to be."
Hjordis actually raised her eyebrows at this, eyeing Torkild up with rather more appreciation now.
"Never thought I'd be agreeing with a werebear. But he's right, Aela. Stay here, we could form a pack, the three of us. You can be alpha, if you want Torkild as mate, I don't object. We could run Solstheim together, get a few recruits in, unite all our old territories."
"I said no!" Aela cried, not even realising until the prospect got put before her that she no longer wanted it. Jorrvaskr was home, Skyrim was home, her mother's line went all the way back to Hrotti Blackblade. Beast blood be damned. She was a Companion first.
Torkild and Hjordis had both gone still. Hjordis looked a little bit afraid, and Torkild... he was staring at her as if he saw her for the first time. He looked utterly betrayed, but he got himself under control quickly enough.
"You will not triumph against those werebears without my help," he said, face closing up as he hid all emotion. "Fight them if you will, I care not. When you realise you need my help after all... come find me."
Without another word, he was gone, striding off into the undergrowth. Aela shivered. Torkild unsettled her deeply but he had a point about the werebears. They were strong. But she was a Companion, and Companions did not give up just because a job was difficult.
Companions did not give up because a job was difficult, Vilkas kept telling himself. Just because there'd been ashspawn... and more ashspawn... and burnt Spriggans... and those ash spider things... and then that detour to Fort Frostmoth on Captain Velekh's behalf where they'd found an undead Imperial commander who'd been trying to attack Raven Rock and had to deal with him. Admittedly Vilkas had got a nice warhammer out of the deal with some very nice enchanting on it which he'd kept as a present for Farkas, but all the same, it had been a hard fight and Ria had suffered particularly badly until she'd remembered she was Dragonborn and Shouted him down. Then the Sun Stone and unsurprisingly a Lurker guardian. Another tough fight, and Vilkas was starting to get a little tired of all this. Finally Tel Mithryn, a house made out of a giant mushroom and some strange levitation spell that carried him and Ria up to the top, and Vilkas at that point realised he would never understand elves.
"Oh gods," was all Vilkas felt able to say when he finally arrived on the platform. This Neloth was insane, he had to be, who would seriously think this was a way to build a house?
Ria was already up and about – despite being prone to seasickness, she seemed fine with flying. She was already off seeking out this Neloth, who turned out to be an older Dunmer in fine wizard robes.
"Nelo – I mean, Master Neloth sir, I'm Ria, we met in Raven Rock – briefly. Sort of. Er, I'm Cicero's daughter, I'm here on his behalf. We need help. Magical help."
Even starting to babble a bit like her father, and what was worse, Vilkas realised with a vague sense of horror he not only didn't mind – it was cute.
Neloth looked up, looked her up and down, then turned to him, seeming rather intrigued.
"So he found a way to rouse you as well! How fascinating. I knew he would of course, the normal rules don't really ever apply to Dragonborns."
Cicero wouldn't qualify as normal by any stretch of the word, even before becoming Dragonborn. But Vilkas said nothing, letting Ria do the talking. Wizards always made him uneasy.
"We learnt a Shout that transferred control of the All-Maker Stones to me instead of Miraak. I can tap their power now and they're not enslaving people," Ria explained. "And everyone woke up, including Vilkas. But we still need to stop Miraak! When we kill dragons, he can turn up and take the soul! Apparently each one brings him closer to returning. We think he got his abilities from Black Books and we found one, but it didn't help. We were wondering if you knew anything about them. Storn of the Skaal says you have one, you were asking questions..." She looked hopefully at Neloth, holding out the Black Book Cicero had given her. Neloth just raised an eyebrow as he took it, deliberately not opening it, before handing it back.
"So he's in Apocrypha. And a disciple of Hermaeus Mora clearly. Well now, isn't that interesting. Much is now explained. What I can't understand is why the Dragonborn would transfer control of the Stones to you – wait. You said he was your father." Neloth looked Ria over, definitely grinning now. "So you are Dragonborn too. That is how you were able to wake yourself once given a little push from your father. Yes, I do see a little resemblance. A second Dragonborn – third if you count Miraak. How very exciting! Well, the Skaal were right, I do have another Black Book – but it is quite unconnected with Miraak. No, no, don't ask me how I know, you would never comprehend the details. Suffice it to say, the Book I have was never possessed by Miraak... but it's helped me find the locations of others. I think I may know where one he once used may be found."
"You do?" Ria gasped, exchanging hopeful glances with Vilkas. "Where is it?"
"Not far from here, you'll be pleased to know. Of course, you'll be less pleased to know it's in a half-sunken Dwemer ruin called Nchardak. I'd have retrieved it myself, but well, you'll see when we get there. At least the state of the place means no Falmer. Probably."
Vilkas didn't like the sound of that at all. He hated Dwemer ruins at the best of times, avoided them when he could. Now he had to search one for one of these damn Black Books?
"Wonderful," Vilkas snapped. "And you're just giving us this information out of the goodness of your heart, are you?" He'd been in the elf's company about half an hour if that and already he was fairly convinced Neloth didn't really have any goodness in his heart.
"Certainly not," Neloth sniffed. "But I've been after this book myself for some time and needed time to work out a way to access it. But now you're here and you can help. You can also do the tedious work of reading it and working out what's in there for me. Should it prove useful to me, I will take the book after you've got what you need to. Should it prove useless, I am saved the bother of having to go to all the trouble myself at least."
Bloody mages. But at least all he wanted was the book afterwards and Vilkas was quite willing to leave it with him. Let the elf go mad from Mora's influence if he liked.
"Done, where is this place?" Vilkas said, keen to get this over with.
"We'd be happy to help, thank you," Ria said meekly, but not so meekly she didn't elbow Vilkas in the side to shut him up.
"What was that for?" Vilkas muttered as they followed Neloth out.
"You could be a little more polite!" Ria hissed. "He's a master wizard! And he's helping us out for nothing other than keeping the Black Book once we're done. Show a bit of civility!"
"I am being perfectly polite," Vilkas said, feeling a bit hard done by here. "Just because I'm not kissing his backside every other word."
"Nords," he heard Ria muttering under her breath, shaking her head. Honestly, typical Imperials. Afraid of wizards and super obsequious to someone they'd only just met just because he was a mage with a fancy house. In Skyrim, it was generally understood that even a Jarl had to visit the privy like everyone else and while you treated one with respect, a good Jarl met his people halfway. Ulfric had known that, it was the secret of his success. Elisif seemed to realise it too, or maybe having been shoved into power just meant she'd never really learnt to be queen. But as for all this sir business to a man not even a king and definitely not Vilkas's king – true Nords did not bow the knee to someone unless they'd been beaten in a fair fight, and Companions even more so.
There was very little Vilkas actually liked about this situation, but Ria seemed determined. So until he could find another way to find out how to defeat Miraak, he supposed he'd have to put up with it.
Night on Solstheim. Barely a sound of creatures scurrying in the undergrowth, and the wind on the hilltops. Out on a ruin in the middle of the island, three werebears were sitting around their fire, admiring their pretty new rings taken from the werewolves and waiting for their alpha to return.
At least, they were until arrows flew from the darkness, one piercing the throat of the pack second and killing him instantly, and another hitting the junior pack member, injuring but not killing.
The pack third, now newly promoted, got up, roaring his fury and shifting into his werebear form to meet these intruders, and his junior colleague did likewise, ignoring the blood dripping from his wounds.
"Death to the werebears!" a woman shouted, more arrows flying their way, and then a werewolf sprung down, launching herself at the already wounded bear while her still-human friend's arrows found their mark in the other one. But in beast form, a werebear was far harder to kill, and they'd lost the element of surprise.
Aela kept firing, hoping her arrows would pin the bear down before it could rally and go for her... but no luck. It was shrugging off her bowshots, and Hjordis was too busy tearing the other one apart to help. Aela was doomed. But Aela was a Companion and a Nord and she would not run in fear. She kept firing.
The werebear shrugged aside the arrows, injured but still charging, leaping on to Aela and ripping the bow from her hands. Aela slashed out with her dagger but it wasn't enough. The bear's claws tore into her and she went down, crying out as she did so. As she watched her blood pool out on the snow, Aela felt calm descending. She'd lost. This was it. Hircine would be calling her home. It was done. She'd tried. She hoped Hjordis would be all right. As it was, her mother was in the Hunting Grounds, and Skjor, and others she'd fought alongside, a long line of Shield-Brothers and Sisters gone before. Who needed Sovngarde?
The last thing Aela saw as she closed her eyes was a huge shape leaping over her, another werebear joining the fight and knocking her attacker off her, claws tearing in as two werebears fought, and then Hjordis in beast form joining in too.
I'm avenged at least. And then Aela knew no more.
Pain. Blurred vision. But warmth and firelight too, not snow, and where was she? Was this the Hunting Grounds?
"Aela?" Hjordis and this couldn't be the afterlife, Hjordis had been winning that fight, along with that werebear – well, she knew who that had been.
"Hjordis?" Aela whispered, eyes slowly focusing as she realised Hjordis was kneeling at her side and they were in a wooden house that looked similar to Whiterun's buildings – the Skaal Village? "How'd I get here? What happened?" She tried to sit up and pain ripped through her as she did so. She'd been hurt and she was still bandaged and sore... but she'd been successfully treated. Someone had got her to safety.
"You were hurt," Hjordis whispered. "Really hurt! But we had some healing potions and they worked, and then he carried you all the way here. He was a Skaal once, you know, his brother lives here. This is his house."
"He?" Aela said, but she didn't need to ask, she knew who he was. "Oh gods, Torkild?"
Hjordis nodded, actually looking rather proud of him. "That's the one! You should have seen him fight, he was amazing! He just tore into that werebear like he wasn't even there."
Aela reached out for the healing potions that had been left out for her and drank them all, slowly hauling herself out of bed and sitting upright.
"Where is he now?" she asked wearily.
"Not here," Hjordis said softly. "He brought you into the village, shouted for their healer, Storn and he was able to treat you. Then Wulf, Torkild's brother shows up, and it turns out they all know you, something about you helping the Dragonborn save their village? So obviously Wulf says you can stay here, and they looked a bit suspiciously at me but they're letting me stay too, and as for Torkild, Storn gave him the lecture about consorting with Daedra and forsaking the All-Maker, but didn't actually banish him, so that's something. Torkild and Wulf spent ages talking together, none of the others will give him the time of day, but I don't think Torkild cares. He was just worried about you. He really likes you, you know."
And he did just save my life again. Even after I told him no, he came back. Aela still didn't want to be Queen of the Solstheim Weres, and she definitely didn't want Torkild. But all the same, she felt a little more charitable towards him. He had some semblance of honour, at least.
"You never said where he went," Aela said, wondering where he'd gone. She couldn't sense him anywhere nearby.
"We got three of the rings off the dead werebears," Hjordis said quietly, holding up two of them. "But their alpha's still out there with the fourth. Once Torkild knew you were going to be all right, and had finished talking with his brother, he left. He took one of the rings with him, the Ring of Bloodlust. Aela, I think he went after the werebear alpha."
"By the gods," Aela swore, reaching for her clothes. "We have to get after him, the idiot'll be killed." She resolutely ignored the smug look on Hjordis's face.
"Thought you didn't like him," she purred.
"I don't," Aela snapped. "Didn't. But to take the Ring of Bloodlust... isn't that the one that makes you more dangerous but also more vulnerable?"
"That's the one," Hjordis nodded. "But I've used it before, it always worked out. If you take the foe down quickly, you're fine!"
"He's facing an alpha werebear with a ring of his own, it will not be quick," Aela said, getting dressed and ignoring the pain. "Hjordis, which ones have we still got?"
"Ring of the Hunt and Ring of the Moon – Aela, you're really not strong enough for this," Hjordis began.
"I don't care, I'm not letting him get killed and that alpha end up with two of the rings," Aela said fiercely. "Hircine help me, that alpha has the Ring of Instinct then." The one that seemed to slow the world down and make it easier to anticipate your opponent's moves, and dammit why didn't Torkild think these things through? What was it with men and their inability to involve anyone else in their insane schemes? Skjor had done the same and look what had happened to him – stabbed by the very Dark Brotherhood he'd been trying to bring down after making the monumentally stupid mistake of abducting and torturing one of their members. Because he'd not involved anyone else. Now here was Torkild trying to be all noble and doing the same.
Hjordis sighed and handed over the rings. "Well, you're the one with your beast form still good to go, it'll be a few hours before mine comes back. You'd better take these. Not that you're going alone, I might add. I'm coming with you and we're going to get those rings."
Hopefully before Torkild got himself killed. Aela didn't say it though. She wasn't sure if she liked him or not, but he'd saved her life. Somehow she'd started to see him as a pack brother despite herself. She wasn't going to let him get killed on her account.
It took time, but Torkild's trail was easy enough to follow. Aela and Hjordis trekked across half the island until they got to the ruin again, where two werebears were tearing into each other. Aela was just in time to see one tear into the other and the losing werebear falling to his knees, screaming as he shifted back into his human form, helpless against the other.
"Torkild," Aela gasped, horrified as the victorious alpha ripped into him. "Gods, no."
Hjordis had already raised her bow to shoot, and Aela without even realising it had slipped the Ring of the Hunt on to her finger and started the change.
Moments later, Aela was howling, twin wolf spirits joining her as she bounded down the slope, taking the werebear by surprise, claws curving into his flesh. She kept on howling, Hjordis's arrows helping out, Hircine's Ring helping her fight through the pain as her wounds were already healing, and the werebear didn't stand a chance. It died without ever really being able to fight back, falling victim to Aela in all her fury. Finally, she was done, rolling off him as the bloodlust eased and her beast form faded and she was human again.
Hjordis had left her clothes out for her and was presently kneeling next to Torkild, a healing potion held to his lips, but it wouldn't be enough. Torkild was barely clinging on to life, lying in a pool of his own blood.
"Torkild, you stupid man, what did you do?" Aela whispered, not even caring she was naked still, clutching her armour to her. "What were you thinking?"
"Red Wolf," Torkild gasped. "You came back for me."
Aela shook her head, rubbing at her face as she realised she was crying. "You idiot, you're going to die doing this, why didn't you wait for me to help?"
"You said no," Torkild rasped, smiling despite the agony he must be in. "Didn't seem worth living... without you. Thought you might... change your mind... if I got the ring... or else I'd die... and then it'd be done."
"Torkild, it doesn't work like that," Aela whispered, feeling drained, exhausted and this was like Skjor all over again, another Shield-Brother lost even if Torkild would have made a terrible Companion. Too wild, but Aela had respected that in him if nothing else.
"I know..." Torkild gasped, blood dribbling from his lips and he didn't have much time, Aela knew that, but clearly he had something to say before death claimed him. Aela took his hand, giving him that comfort at least.
"Aela..." he whispered, and he'd never used her name before, never acknowledged she was more than a beast, someone to mate with. "My... Red Wolf... mind going... beast... taking over... losing self... but you... reminded me... I am still... a man..." He closed his eyes, hand going limp in hers as he fell into the sleep from which there was no waking.
Aela let him go, feeling her heart break which was ridiculous, she'd not loved him, not even found him attractive... but now he was dead and here she was mourning and missing him. Mourning what might have been even though it wasn't something she'd wanted.
"Aela," Hjordis whispered. "Aela, are you all right?" She had her arms around her, holding her as she cried, rubbing her back and soothing her.
"Stupid man," Aela sobbed. "Stupid, stupid man, why did he have to come alone, of all the stupid..."
"Yes, they invariably are," Hjordis sighed. "Always wanting to look like the hero. Still, worked, didn't it? He may have died, but here you are, bawling your eyes out over him."
Aela pulled herself together, drying her eyes.
"I'm not bawling," she told Hjordis sternly. "I didn't even like him. He's just..." Just what? Aela had no idea where to even start with that, but she did know what needed doing. Torkild wasn't some nameless feral. He had kin, a family. A brother who he'd cared enough about to carry a letter to in case he died and never got to see him again.
"Let's get him back to the Skaal Village," Aela sighed. "He deserves a decent burial at least."
Wulf had been inconsolable to see his brother's remains and even though the Skaal hated what he'd become, they cared enough about his memory to organise a swift funeral. They weren't sentimental people, but they took care of their departed. Aela and Hjordis looked on, neither really feeling part of this, but knowing they'd not get another chance to say goodbye.
Afterwards, Wulf came to see Aela.
"Thank you," he said softly. "For the letter and for bringing him back, telling his story. I can't understand why he'd choose to follow the weres, but he had his reasons. At least I know he died a man in the end, rather than losing his mind to the beast. At least I got to say goodbye. I had a feeling he was intending to go to his death. Something in his eyes told me he wasn't coming back."
"He's an idiot," Aela said softly. "Was... he had some crush on me. Kept calling me Red Wolf, wanted to sire my children. He was trying to impress me, I think. I'm sorry, Wulf, I didn't realise..."
"Don't be," Wulf said, taking her hand. "From that letter you gave me, I could tell he was in trouble of some sort and I suspected the weres had taken him. It isn't an easy path and it's a fine line to walk between man and beast. He told me he feared he was losing his mind to the beast, it was happening more and more often of late – but he also told me when he thought of you, he thought of something beyond the hunt. It was no crush, Aela. He wanted you as a man, although I am willing to believe his manner of courtship left much to be desired."
"I didn't feel the same," Aela said, feeling crushed. "I said no. I still don't feel the same. Was I wrong to do so? Should I have said yes to keep him sane?"
"Aela," Wulf said, taking her other hand. "Had you said yes falsely, I think he would have known and it would have been worse for you both. You did all you could do. My brother made his choices a long time ago. As it is, while I grieve him, I am glad he died a man and that he did not do so alone. Whether he is with Hircine or the All-Maker now, I don't know, but wherever he is, I hope he's at peace. Don't blame yourself, Aela. He followed you freely."
"Thank you," Aela whispered. It didn't help much, but it was good to know Wulf didn't blame her. In truth, what could she have done? Kodlak had always said the important thing was to stay true to yourself, even when it was hard and people wanted you to be something else. So she'd done just that. Hard to say if it had turned out for the best and if this was the best, the world had a lot of shaping up to do.
Aela had come here to find a pack, and that had failed spectacularly. The werewolves wiped out, now the werebears too, Torkild dead and just her, Hjordis and four magic rings left to show for it all. And yet... for a few brief hours, there'd been three of them, united. A pack of sorts. Torkild might be gone, but Aela would not forget, and she was sure she'd see him again in the Hunting Grounds. In the mean time, she would hold on to his memory and ensure he'd not died in vain.
She fingered the rings in her pocket. Four of them, all now hers, although she'd have to share them with Hjordis, she supposed. Eola would also likely be interested, her dark pack sister who knew more than anyone Aela had ever met about the magic that bound them. She wondered if Eola and Hjordis would get along. Probably, once Hjordis had got over her horror of magic. She'd have to see. In the mean time, Aela had realised one thing. Pack meant family, and her pack was composed of more than just werewolves. She'd stay here for now, resting and healing for a day or two. After that, it was time to find Ria and Cicero. Her Dragonborn Shield-Siblings needed her.
A/N: And there you go, the werewolves plotline DONE! Next chapter, it's back to the main quest as Cicero and Ria meet up again, and hopefully that too will wind up soon. And then all back home to the Reach to find out what's happened in their absence. But that is some way off. Hopefully done in under 30 chapters and hopefully it won't take so long to write those...