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Sea of the Lost

It wasn’t long before we saw the first piece of flotsam drifting by our party.

Still, nothing had attacked us yet, which was a good thing. It had been a few hours since we’d entered the fog and realized what it truly was.

Only a handful of words had been said since then.

Aside from reassuring everyone that all the horrific creatures they are seeing are only an illusion. I thought, starting to get a headache.

“Not that it seems to do anything to help them.” Erebus whispered as the man at the other end of the boat jumped in fright.

He would have fallen overboard, had it not been for the fellow beside him taking his arm and pulling him away from what was certain to be his doom.

I pinched the bridge of my nose and closed my eyes, sighing in weariness.

These morons are going to get themselves killed before we even reach land.” Erebus whispered, still not voicing his thoughts out loud. “Spineless wretches, the lot of them. They wouldn’t have lasted a second in my Infernum.

Your old chamber? I thought back to that day at Temen Ni Gru, losing myself in memories for a short while. You were a right old prick, you know that? Using my mother’s voice against me like that.

You withstood it, did you not?” Erebus rattled in his sheath. “Granted, you needed the help of the worm to truly wake you from your stupor…”

It had been one of the few times that Balthazar had lashed out at me.

“Good times.”

Of course. I shook my head and opened my eyes, checking for any threats. “I still don’t see anything out of the ordinary, everyone. Stay calm— do try not to jump off the boat, yeah?”

The last bit was there to inject a bit of levity into the situation, but no one even smiled.

I couldn’t blame them, I thought as I gazed upon the veritable graveyard of ships we were in the midst of traversing through.

The massive wrecks existed in varying states of damage, from relatively intact— albeit being broken in half or with complete chunks missing— to collapsed into endless floating bits of wood, drifting along the surface of the water in deceptive peace.

I opened my mouth to say something further, but the tension in the air stopped me.

This place is getting to them. I thought, seeing the people twitching, grimacing and flinching away from whatever lurked in their fields of vision.

“Harry.” Daenerys said, her voice clipped as she gestured slightly to the right.

I frowned, concentrated and nodded in understanding. “Good eye. We went a little off course to avoid one of the wrecks.”

“Move us a bit to the right, won’t you? Thanks.” I addressed the man in the back with the rudder, while Daenerys did the same for hers.

I’m so glad she came with me. I thought as the navigator adjusted the boats’ heading. She’s better able to find where we need to be. I suppose, as a descendant of the people of this place, she would be met with more welcome here than the rest of us.

“How do we even know where we’re going?” One of the Dornishmen said. “I can’t see anything but broken ships ahead of us. No one can.”

“Our Khal and Khaleesi can peer into what cannot be seen.” Joqo said, offended on my behalf. He was one of the few people who had kept their wits about them in this illusion field of horror. “They will find our path.”

Khaleesi? I thought, eyes widening as I looked towards Daenerys. She met my gaze, her eyes glittering. Wait until the— nope. Let’s not go there.

You honor me, Joqo.” Daenerys replied in Dothraki, smiling at the man. “Your loyalty, daring and strength will be remembered, in kind— the horse who rides over the cursed waters of the Valyrians.

Joqo nodded in acknowledgement, straightening with pride. His eyes flitted to the right and he almost flinched, closing them in an instant. “These… magic tricks are annoying me.”

“Yes.” Ser Barristan said, looking like it took all he had to keep the waver out of his voice. “I would rather fight a hundred more battles than endure this for any longer than necessary.”

“I believe we can all agree on that, if nothing else.” Daenerys said.

There was a chorus of approval all around before it was replaced with the eerie silence of the still waters, once more.

“It’s strange.” Princess Arianne said, tucking a lock of curly hair behind her ear.

“What is, Princess?” One of her guards said.

“The water is so still.” She said, gesturing ahead. “The only ripples I feel are the one we are creating.”

“Interesting.” Erebus spoke. “Feel, you say?”

“I… yes.” She stared down at her hands. “It’s hard to explain.”

“We’ve nothing but time and frightening illusions.” Daenerys said, a small, dark smirk playing at her lips. “Do continue.”

“Yes, Your Grace. Of course.” Arianne nodded and took a breath. “I have always been able to understand— no… to sense the waters. I’ve never really realized it, or even thought about it. At least, not until you brought my power, subtle as it was, to my awareness.”

Her black eyes shone with passion as she spoke.

“The waters of an oasis, the streams of a river, the pools at the Water Gardens, the Seven Seas…” she said. “They all were full of life, vibrant even. The water here is…” She stopped for a moment, as if her thoughts were interrupted. “…Not?”

“You don’t sound too sure there, Princess Arianne.” I said, noticing her hesitation. When she didn’t immediately answer, I continued. “Princess?”

Arianne blinked once, twice, before looking at me. Her eyes were wide. “Beneath us… there’s something beneath us!”

“Peace, Princess.” Ser Barristan called out, trying to sound as calming as possible. “Doubtless, it is another illusion, meant to test our will. I have seen quite a few creeping shadows in the distance, myself.”

“No.” Arianne shook her head so hard I was afraid she’d snap her own neck from the strain. “No, no. This is different. I don’t see it— I can feel it.”

We all shared a collective shiver.

I had figured the waters were still because nothing could live in such horrid conditions.

From what little the Keeper had shared with me, the ancient Dragonlords had overestimated themselves and tapped into a supervolcano, which destroyed the entire Valyrian peninsula.

I stared at the fumes gently hovering just above the water line and frowned before looking at the rest of the ships.

Sulfur gas at the surface.” Balthazar explained. “Worse yet, it’s turned the water much more acidic.”

I nodded. That was what all the preparations were for, but I never considered that anything could survive such an environment— it would take a miracle.

Or a great resilience to acid…

“Harry.” Daenerys said, keeping her voice level so as not to startle everyone, but I could tell she was trying to hide her nervousness.

“Checking.” I said, canceling the oars’ animation spell to stall for time as I focused my senses downward. Anything, guys?

“Unclear.” Erebus said.

It’s hard to sense anything in the water, but I don’t feel…” Balthazar trailed off, as if reconsidering his words. “Wait. No. Put your hand in the water.”

I frowned, but moved over to the edge. “Wouldn’t this burn me?”

Given enough time, it’ll eventually eat through the scales, but my armor isn’t so easily worn away.” Balthazar said with a scoff. “Now stop arguing and do it.

I stifled the reflexive comment of “sheesh,” and grabbed hold of the boat, leaning forward until my scale-covered fingertips broke the surface of the water.

This hurts like a bitch.” Balthazar said, the water around my fingers hissing and bubbling. “But I feel it. The vibrations are faint, but something is definitely down there— something big.”

I widened my eyes both in surprise and a hint of unease.

“…And, whatever it is, it’s getting close, very quickly.”

That was enough for me. I drew my hand away and tensed in preparation. “Get your weapons ready. This one is real— I have a feeling I know what we’re up against.”

“Yes.” Ser Barristan gestured for everyone to retrieve their weapons. “Shields and swords, men.”

A chorus of grunts answered him, followed by a flurry of movement as everyone armed themselves.

“Whatever you do.” I said pulling my wand out and putting a stop to the rowing. “Don’t fall into the water. Stay on the boat and fight at all costs. You understand? Do not fall overboard!

The men gave stiff nods as the water around us darkened until it was nearly pitch. “It’s here!”

Maximum Armor.” I felt Balthazar’s scales envelop my form as I drew Erebus from his sheath.

The Dornishmen and Arianne stared at me in shock, but the Princess quickly got a hold of herself, barking out orders even as the water began to rise.

“One of you man the oars!” She shouted, stopping to stare. “I…”

The top of the water ballooned all around us, and from the surface emerged eight massive and long, wriggling towers of flesh. 

“Kraken!” One of the men breathed, eyes wide with horror.

“…” From under the armor, I stared at the creature’s tentacles, grimacing. “At the end of those suction cups… are those teeth?!”

“I…” Daenerys squinted, her skin paling as she, too, saw the monstrosity. “Yes.”

“That’s just not right.” I muttered. “And I thought I’d seen the worst on the internet…”

“We’re doomed.” One of the men said from beside me. “How can we fight this?”

“Not even close.” I said, scoffing. “We’re only ever doomed when we give up.”

Joqo and the Unsullied guards who had accompanied us nodded with conviction. This was yet another challenge for us to overcome, just like every other before it.

I gathered my power into my hands, tinting the mist and boats in light blue.

Blades of sparking blue spun towards the creature’s limbs, embedding themselves into the tentacles and causing the kraken to groan with annoyance— a deep bass which shook the world around us, causing further ripples in the water.

On the other boat, Daenerys had already begun to blast her flames into two of the tentacles, painting over my blue with her red.

The monster groaned again, moving its burned limbs away from the reach of Daenerys while lashing out with one from her right side.

“Incoming!”

A flurry of Lightning Blades flew into the attacking limb, but they did little more than slow it down.

The tentacle slammed into a golden half-dome of energy with a loud gong, sending a shockwave into the water.

Beneath the golden shield, Barristan stood tall and proud, his face set in determination.

“The Seven as my witnesses, I will keep my Queen safe!” Ser Barristan called out in challenge. “No matter what!”

“Incredible!” “Amazing!” And a few exclamations broke out. “Wait, it’s giving itself some room for its next attack!”

I frowned and followed their gaze. Shit. They’re right. My Lightning Blades barely did any damage, too.

“Bring the boats together!” Daenerys ordered. “Ropes to each other, quickly!”

Salt water is too conductive a material, so my attacks are mitigated. I’d need a lot more energy to achieve the same results. I thought as the men threw several bits of rope towards each other, pulling with mighty yells.

I sent a quick glance Barristan’s way before focusing back on the still rising tentacle. His shield can withstand the blow with ease, but…

“This kind of charged impact will destabilize both boats— maybe even capsize them in one shot, this time.” Erebus finished for me. “They won’t last longer than a few seconds in that water. The bubble head will ensure they don’t die from the sulfur, or just drown, but the acid will literally dissolve them… alive.”

Determination set in my face as I withdrew the power from my hands and sent it racing into my legs and back. I crouched, my legs coiling with stored power.

“It’s coming again!”

“Brace yourselves, men!” Barristan cried.

There was only ever one choice.

I leapt off into the direction of the tentacle, wings of blue Lightning emerging from my back. Erebus gleamed and erupted in pure black energy, before it contained itself into the edge.

I swung the sword and cut deep into the tentacle, almost slicing through all the way. Dark green blood spewed out of its nearly severed limb, coating my body from head to toe.

The water beneath rippled as the creature shuddered in a mixture of rage and agony before its wounded limb smashed into me with the force of a freight train. I flew uncontrollably through the air, forcing the haze to clear from my eyes and used the momentum to fly towards another tentacle.

I swung harder, and this time, I cleaved all the way through, causing it to cry out, once again.

I swerved to dodge its flailing limb and changed direction, flying towards my next target.

As I readied my blade again, I heard a loud cry of horror from the boat. Immediately, I abandoned my attack and flew back to the ship.

Daenerys was too busy sending jets upon jets of flame into three of the offending tentacles, keeping them at bay; an admirable performance, given her relatively low level skill, but she was overexerting herself.

Barristan and Joqo, showing incredible valor, were doing their best to keep the massive tentacles at bay, just long enough for Daenerys to force the offending limbs back.

However, as great as they were doing, they still weren’t able to stop a man from being snatched away by a comparatively small tentacle.

Shit. I sped through the air, even as the poor man was slowly pulled down into the water.

I didn’t hear the sizzle of the water against his skin, and with the bubble head, I wouldn’t have been able to smell his dissolving flesh, either— but I did hear his pained and desperate pleas for help for a few moments before he was pulled under.

“Willam!!!” One of the Dornishmen— Perros, I realized— cried out even as I dove right into the water in an attempt to save him.

My wings winked out of existence in the dark, murky waters, but I ignored it and began my search for the soldier.

Fuck, this hurts.” Balthazar gave an urgent whisper. “Don’t worry about me, Harry— I can take it. You just do your thing.”

“What the Hell are you doing?” Erebus whispered as I nodded absently and continued to swim down, trying to reach the man. “This isn’t part of the plan. You even told everyone not to jump into the water! This is the exact opposite of what you want!”

Like Balthazar said. I’m doing my thing. I thought as I reached to my left side and patted my hip. Wand.

The scales parted just enough for my wand’s handle to pop out. Pointing my wand down, I silently cast the Wand-Lighting Charm.

Thank you.

The inky blackness parted as the tip of my wand blasted out a luminous sphere of light, revealing the Dornishman who had been caught, the massive, circular maw he was slowly being pulled towards and the kraken it belonged to.

Holy…! I froze for a moment, shocked by this creature’s horrific appearance.

I’d expected a large octopus or squid, not this monstrosity. Riddled with burns and grotesque, bulbous tumors— no doubt as a result of a life spent in acidic water— the creature groaned, its vibrations shaking me to the core. It glared at me with one, malicious eye of red, the other hidden underneath veritable hills of tumors and burn scars.

What should I do? I thought, trying to come up with a quick solution.

Every single second was precious, and considering the kraken’s tentacles were much faster than I was in water, there was only one place I could aim for if I wanted to raise my chances of success.

The head. I narrowed my eyes, stowed my wand away and kicked my legs harder, trying to get to it as quickly as I could manage. Erebus.

Say no more.” The black falchion rattled in anticipation as I was forced to dodge and weave past the kraken’s relentless barrage of tentacles.

What I would do for some Gillyweed, right about now. I thought as I reached the mouth, close enough to save the poor Dornishman. His eyes were scrunched completely shut, and the modified bubble head looked like it was still working. However, I could already see the skin peeling from his face.

Any more of this and he’ll be too far gone. I tried to think quickly. “Balthazar. Chances of blasting magma from my feet?”

“You… Yes. Let’s do it.” Balthazar said and I brought my feet together, holding Erebus in an attacking position. “Ready… Go!”

I felt the sudden burst of speed and drove the sword into the kraken’s forehead, right between its eyes. It shuddered and groaned in monumental pain, but it was still alive.

“Die, you piece of shit!” I raged. “Dark Stream!”

The sword erupted with malevolent darkness, piercing into the creature’s cerebellum and consuming all that was inside. The kraken jerked, flailed and spasmed, but I kept the attack up, even after it had stopped moving.

I pulled the sword out of the creature’s hollowed out corpse, sheathing it and quickly making my way towards the man, who was having trouble peeling himself away from the tentacles.

Fuck. I realized with wide eyes. That’s right— those tentacles were lined with teeth!

Reaching Willam, I began to help him out of his predicament. No wonder he hadn’t been able to escape, I thought as I pulled no less than three dagger-length teeth out of the unfortunate man.

“Lucky that they only pierced your arms, Willam.” I said and started pulling us up, before realizing he likely wasn’t hearing anything I was saying. “Balthazar.”

A few boosts later, we broke the surface of the water, and were immediately set upon by the group.

“Get them up, quickly!” Daenerys ordered as I lifted the man high enough for them to grab, before taking Selmy’s offered hand and half-flying into the boat as a result.

I stayed on my hands and knees as Balthazar’s scales receded from my body, resuming their previous position on my right arm.

“Harry.” Daenerys knelt beside me. “Are you… All right?”

“I…” I examined myself slowly, taking deep breaths to calm down. “I think I’m fine. A little winded, but no real damage. What about him? Willam.”

I turned my head and looked at Willam; laid down with his back to the deck, he stared up at the sky with lifeless, vacant eyes.

“… So I was too late.” I said, clenching my hands so hard the knuckles turned white. “Damn it!”

Was it the water? Was the damage so severe that mere exposure had killed him?

Or, was it the kraken’s teeth? They had gone deep. Perhaps they were also venomous…

I didn’t know.

Sometimes, a body just gives up, and you can’t do anything to fix it. Part of me thought, having seen this many times before. I’ll never get used to it.

“Willam…” his friend held him and cried. “It can’t end this way!”

Perros turned to me in desperation. “Save him! Please.”

I swallowed the lump in my throat and looked down. “I don’t know what you’ve heard about me, but… There’s a limit to what I can heal. I—”

“Please!” He nearly roared.

I felt anger color my face as I rose to meet his eyes. “I can’t bring back the dead! Damn it! I told you all to stay in the damn fucking boat! I…”

I stopped as I laid my eyes on the unfortunate Dornishman’s corpse again. Only a boy. Near my age.

You killed him.” Perros made his way to me, but was stopped by Ser Barristan’s hand.

“We all knew what sort of fate may befall us when we set out on this journey.” The old man said with weary eyes and a grim face.

He kept his hand on the handle of his sword, ready to pull it out at any moment, in case the grieving man lost the battle against his grief and anger.  “Lord Harry did not kill your friend. In fact, I doubt any other man would have even considered braving those waters to make the rescue attempt.”

He gestured towards where the kraken’s corpse was floating up to the surface.

I felt Daenerys’ arms wrap around me. “You did what you could— more than anyone has any right to expect.”

“I know.” I nodded and got to my feet with her help. I addressed the grieving man. “I’m sorry about what I said, Perros. I’m sure you all did your best to stay on board— but this is the nature of this expedition. You all knew the danger and risks involved.”

“But…”

“That’s enough, Perros.” Princess Arianne called out from the second boat. “I knew what awaited us on a trip like this, and I told each and every single one of you that you didn’t have to come with me.”

“I…” Perros said, bowing his head low. “I apologize, my Princess, and ask forgiveness of you and Lord Potter.”

“There is nothing to forgive.” Arianne said.

“It’s all right.” I said a breath later. “He was your friend. I understand.”

For a moment, I saw flashes of everyone I’d failed before shaking my head.

I understand all too well. I thought, staring into the distance where Hestia was.

Everyone went silent for a few, precious moments before Princess Arianne called out from the other boat. “We should keep going. Lord Harry. Your Grace. We’re ready and at your disposal.”

“As are we, Your Grace.” Ser Barristan said.

“Yes.” Daenerys said, looking at the kraken’s corpse slowly floating away from us. “Our battle was long and far from silent. We must leave.”

There were nods going around.

“Agreed.” I said shortly. “There’s no telling how many more of these things are lurking in the water. Waiting.”

I drew my wand and wiped the residual water with my shirt before casting the spell to reanimate the oars.

As Willam’s body was covered with a sheet, I stared ahead. The only sound I heard was that of the oars penetrating the waters and the suppressed sobs of Perros.

Willam was the first one to die. I thought darkly. But, will he be the last?

The silent shipwrecks around us offered no answer but one.

oooo

Jon Stark – The Wall’s Inner Gates

“Keep coming, you cunts!” Clegane roared as he thrust his sword into a wildling’s chest, the momentum driving the man into the wall.

Sandor grunted and tore the sword out, leaving a bloody heap of dying meat at his feet as he looked for someone else to fight.

Clegane’s dark eyes landed on Jon, not recognizing him at all.

“Clegane!” Jon said, adjusting his grip on Ice as he prepared for the worst. “Get a hold of yourself. Hound!

The Hound’s eyes widened in recognition. He shook off his bloodlust just in time for them to hear the agonized screams the wildlings at the open entrance made as barrels of boiling oil were dropped on them.

“You good?” Jon asked again, getting a nod in return. Beside him, Ghost growled in anticipation, covered in the blood of the wildlings he’d attacked.

Jon could only shake his head, watching the wildlings writhe as they made futile attempts to put themselves out.

“This should buy us a few seconds.” Jon said as a couple more barrels were dropped. “Maybe a bit longer.”

“Got any ale left?” Clegane said, wiping the blood off of his hands.

“Afraid not.”

“Maybe those cunts do.” Clegane went to check the veritable carpet of bodies laid at their feet.

“Don’t.” Jon said, stopping him with a warning tone. “There’s no time for any of that. We’ll have to endure until the battle is over.”

“They broke the first damn gate.” Clegane returned to his side, swearing. “Have you seen how many are out there? This won’t be over any time soon.”

“Days, it will be, then.” Jon said without missing a beat, before frowning. “You would think they would let up. Their attack obviously isn’t working with us here.”

It had already been nearly half a day since he’d first stared down the forest holding the wildling army. Jon refused to look at the corpses of the men who had come down here with them.

We’d started with twenty good men. And now… Jon thought, frowning.

Now, only he, Ghost and Sandor stood in defiance of their enemies— and soon, reinforcements would come. They simply needed to hold out for them.

The top of the Wall was safe, with thousands of Stark bannermen manning its defenses. Jon shook his head; the wildlings had led themselves to a pointless, senseless slaughter.

Why? He thought, confusion overriding his weariness for a moment.

But there was no time to ponder, Jon realized as a new enemy made itself known at the gate.

“Fuck me.” Clegane said as he stared at the giant. He stared at his sword, realizing that it was nothing more than a toothpick in the face of such might.

Rushing past the giant were a dozen wildlings. Clegane swore again.

“You and Ghost fight the wildlings.” Jon said, walking ahead of Clegane, Ice held at his side. “I’ll handle the big one.”

And with that, Jon charged the Giant. He ducked and weaved past the wild and erratic swings of the men before him, Ice going right through a wildling’s waist and cleaving him in two in its trip towards Jon’s true target.

The giant grunted with malicious purpose, swinging its fist down so hard it would have crushed Jon to a paste.

Jon dodged to his right, dragging Ice across the length of its meaty, left arm.

The giant drew away as soon as it felt the sting, swinging its small club at its attacker in a horizontal arc.

Maybe it’s small compared to the big fellow, but it’s as big as I am! Jon thought, diving back the way he came in a desperate attempt to avoid the attack. He yelped as he was forced to block an attack from a wildling who’d snuck up on him, even as he rolled.

Jon kept himself on the ground, ignoring every instinct to engage the wildling. He felt the displaced air and heard the startled cry of the wildling, as well as the loud crash of the club against the wall, sending blood, guts, shards of wood and ice everywhere.

Jon took a moment to get to his feet, breathe and regain his bearings as the giant admired his handiwork.

A glance at the red smear on the wall to his right told Jon everything he needed to know. A single hit from that, and Jon knew he was done for, whether he had increased durability, or not.

All out, then. He held Ice aloft, channeling his power into it. 

The smoky steel greatsword erupted in bright blue flame, making the giant’s eyes go wide with surprise.

It hesitated.

Jon narrowed his eyes and rushed in, cleaving into its leg and setting its furs alight. Ignoring the giant’s shout of pain, he dove between its legs, narrowly avoiding the downward swing of its club, smashing into the iced ground and making it shake.

His roll felt awkward, having needed to adjust his form while wielding the massive blade, but Jon turned with haste, leaping forward and thrusting his sword towards the giant’s back, hoping to drive it through the creature’s spine.

The Valyrian greatsword met the large club just before Jon hit his mark. It clipped his left side and turned his world upside down, but the momentum from the deflection carried the Valyrian blade and Jon higher, piercing through furs and flesh— though where exactly, Jon didn’t know.

The giant’s roar broke into a wet choke.

I hit a lung! Jon, still dazed and midair, kept his tight grasp onto the handle of Ice like it was his lifeline. The flaming Valyrian steel, carried by Jon’s chaotic momentum, tore deeper into the giant’s lung before being ripped out of its flesh and falling with Jon onto the ground.

Jon smashed into the icy ground face-first, choking as the air rushed out of his lungs. Beside him, Ice clattered and fell just outside of his reach, its blue flames winking out of existence.

That was a fucking nightmare. Jon thought, still trying to get his bearings and failing.

“Stark, move!” He heard Clegane shout from behind. “It’s falling!”

Jon forced himself up, grasping the handle of his sword as he tried to leap away— only to feel something crash into him from the side and send him tumbling into the ice and dirt, once more.

He felt, more than heard the massive thud as the dead giant crushed everything underneath it.

I’m alive. Jon lay on the ground, eyes open but seeing nothing as he simply let himself breathe.

He felt something wet and warm cover the side of his face and understood what had occurred. Ghost pushed me out of the way.

Turning his head to the side and spitting the blood out of his mouth, Jon slowly sat himself up and opened his eyes. Vertigo overtook him, making him regret his choice in an instant, but Jon steeled his resolve and redoubled his efforts at regaining his strength.

Just channel your power to and from your extremities, just like Harry showed you. Jon thought and began to take deep breaths. The world gradually stopped its incessant spinning, and Jon let out a sigh in relief.

“Fuck me.” Clegane said as he approached.

Jon, struggling to his feet, turned his gaze to the man and saw that he was covered in blood from head to toe.

“You…” Jon slurred, shaking his head. “You all right?”

“Aye.” Clegane said. “And you, Stark? I expected you to die, there. And myself, not long after.”

“I did, too.” Jon tried to laugh but cringed as his shoulder flared in pain. He let go of Ice to grasp the bruised flesh, turning his gaze to the dead, burning giant beside him. “I don’t know how much more of this I can take.”

“We could build new defenses with the corpses until our reinforcements get here.” Sandor suggested, gesturing at the behemoth beside them.

Jon didn’t care if it hurt, he laughed again, feeling much of the stress fade for a short few moments before it all came rushing back again.

“They wouldn’t expect that.” Jon agreed, reaching for Ice and pulling it up towards his back again, before turning to Ghost. “Thanks, boy. Without you, I’d be not much more than paste…”

Ghost licked his face in reply, making Jon smile through the pain.

“That wolf of yours.” Clegane said, before shaking his head. “Nevermind. I’m tired, maybe I saw things wrong.”

“What?” Jon said. “Tell me.”

Sandor gestured towards the still-burning giant. “That fucker looked like he’d crush your wolf clean, but it’s like he went completely through.”

Jon turned to look at Ghost, who was panting and oblivious to what they were saying, before shrugging with a smirk. “Maybe you are getting tired, Hound.”

“Stark…” Clegane warned, before stopping. “Something’s wrong.”

He turned his head towards the exit. “No one else is attacking us.”

“Maybe they’re actually giving up?” Jon suggested, but he knew just how silly such a prospect was. No, something else was at play here.

And then, it happened: Jon felt, more than heard, the slow, steady rumble of a horn so deep that he felt as if the earth beneath his feet was torn asunder a hundred thousand times over. The frigid air twisted and warped as his bones screamed in protest, feeling a sudden, increased weight. It was as if the very fabric of his body was being disassembled, piece by piece, until there was nothing left.

But, as fast as it had come, it had disappeared.

The two men stared at each other for a few silent moments, trying to understand what had just happened. Ghost whined.

“…What the fuck was that?” Clegane said. “Never heard anything like it— like the earth was about to split open and swallow us whole.”

“I felt the same.” Jon said in agreement. “I don’t know. It sounded like a horn…”

Jon heard the sound of cracking even as he continued. “Though, not one I’ve ever heard be— wait, do you hear that?”

“Aye.” Clegane’s face was grim as he looked up.

Jon dared to raise his head and paled.

“The Wall…” He said in horror as massive cracks began to line the cave. “It’s breaking!”

Clegane swore and turned, dragging Jon with him. “We need to get out of here.”

Small chips began to flake off, followed by larger and larger chunks, falling before them.

“No.” Jon stopped them. “The other way.”

“Are you insane!?” Clegane grabbed Jon by the shoulders, making him cringe in pain. “There’s an entire fucking army out there.”

“We’ll never make it back to Castle Black!” Jon said, pointing at the still closed series of wrought iron gates. “We need to go the other way.”

Clegane let go of him and swore.

“It’s the only way.” Jon insisted, urgency in his voice. “There’s no time!”

“Fuck! Let’s go, then!” Clegane said.

And with that, Jon, Ghost and Sandor made for the only escape available to them, the tunnel collapsing around them even as they ran as fast as they could.

Perhaps I was always destined to be here. He swallowed as he prepared for what he knew to be his likely death. Robb, Harry, everyone… I’m sorry.

“Let’s show these fuckers what real fighters look like!” Sandor cried in challenge just as they reached the exit.

We run to our doom. Jon narrowed his eyes in determination, ready for whatever lay in wait. But I won’t go down alone. Never.

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