Chapter 13 – Give you my Heart

Westeros – The North

Thunder and lightning filled the snow-filled sky, thundersnow pouring down as the battle for the future of life began. They came out of the blizzard like ghosts, soundless… but the men were ready for them. The pounding of weapons against shields, of gauntlets against armor rattled the air, sending the snow twirling in dizzying patterns, even downing out the growling of the sky in the dusk.

Thunder rumbled.

The tread of thousands of feat, even muffled by the snow, began to be heard.

The undead bellowed suddenly.

The assembled host of Westeros answered with unbridled fury.

And then the first rank of the wights raised their weapons or bare hands and slammed into a wall of shields and spears and cold hacking blades, and the final battle against the Great Other had begun.

Jorah clenched his sword until his knuckles ached as the risen holders assaulted the cave. The fighting was elemental, brutal. Empty-eyed wights attacked the lines swords, with spears, spades and farm implements, and their naked fists, with axes and smithy hammers. They were unbelievably strong, far stronger than a man. The heavier weapons struck with unbelievable force, deforming shields, denting helmets, crushing bones even through armor plates.

Two men in front of him were were killed when a pair of wights with huge hammers, and after that Jorah yelled for archers to focus on them. The bow works was unreliable… only a hit in the eyes or mouth had to chance of taking these monsters down, but it was better than nothing.

Jorah found himself wincing in sympathy with the struggling soldiers ahead of him… he ached to dive into the battle besides them, but that wasn’t his role. He, and a few other skill fighters, were there to stem breakthroughs, to drive the undead back when they clustered too deeply, to give the other men time to breathe. “Men, drive them back!”

Jorah and three of the largest men he had ever seen, wildlings all, charged forward, the lines of soldiers parting to let them through. Jorah’s arm flashed up, his Valyrian steel intercepting a descending club and cutting clearly through, deflecting it away from him. Then his unit of hard-hitting butchers waded into the fray with all the fury and strength they could muster, heavy swords ripping through the wight’s unarmored flesh with hideous efficiency.

Jorah was a large man himself, but he didn’t have the sheer mass of these three wildlings. Instead he backed them up, watching their sides and backs as they drove the mass back with sheer power. Within a minute they had driven the writhing mass of wights back far enough to let the line regroup, and Jorah called them to a halt before his men could advance beyond where the army would support them, letting the wights encircle them and cut them and him to ribbons with sheer numbers.

It might have only taken a minute to break the back of the offensive, but getting back to the lines took far longer. They couldn’t simply retreat, allowing the wights to follow them in recklessly and build up deadly momentum to crash into the lines with yet again. It had to be slow, controlled, to enable them to hold their lines, so Jorah and the huge wildlings fought a steady, deliberate retreat back to their original position. Then he was back to safety, behind a wall of Stark steel. All around the battlefield the same was happening, Lannister and Stark and Unullied men holding the lines while Wildlings and Nights Watch rangers and Second Sons played reserves, backing up the lines, replacing losses, and driving off masses of the undead.

Jorah was panting and badly winded even from the brief engagement. It was one of the fundamental truths of battle that there was nothing more exhausting than the exertion and terror of combat. Jorah made sure the fighting men had water before taking a tankard of it himself, and watched the battle. A man died when he hacked three men to pieces, and then tripped on the blood icying on the snow, paying the price for his excellence. A second man hesitated when a wight that looked like a twelve year old girl came at him, and it cost him his life when she threw him out of the shieldwall and into the midst of the undead monsters. Moments later, another man was struck senseless by a blow to his helmet, but before his companions could haul him back, two of the wights had seized his wrist, and in the ensuing tug-of-war ripped his arm from the socket.

The wights had no interest in self-preservation, and they were willing to die to cripple or kill one of the human soldiers… and if their estimates were right, there were three or four times as many of them as there were men in the army. The undead could absorb the losses, and there was very little that he could do about it.

The snow began to fall heavier yet, the wind to gust and howl, and flashes of lightning in the sky cast the entire world in surreal flashes of color. Their fight was a hopeless one, to Jorah’s eyes. If the rate of casualties remained steady… and it wouldn’t, as they grew more tired and more wounded… half of the fighting men in his army would be down by midnight. Then, when the break came, it would come quickly, panic setting in, a sudden and complete collapse of discipline and will under the relentless violence of the undead monster’s assault.

He was likely to be dead before dawn.

Jorah forced that cold judgment from his thoughts and fought on. And on. And on. Jorah had barely finished catching his breath after one rush when he spotted another collapse, needing to rush back into the fight, give men time to recover. He hacked his way forward, cutting through the undead, watching them die on the end of his crimson sword. The large men were tiring, he knew… Jorah had to do more of the work now, make up in bladework what he lacked in their sheer, monstrous size.

And that was when he saw her.

The wight seemed to just be standing in front of him, staring at him with glowing blue eyes… but even with her hair ripped and tattered, out of the familiar braids, even with her violet gaze vanished, Jorah would have recognized her anyway. “Dany…” he whispered, freezing in place…

It almost killed him as she lunged at him, fingernails like claws raking for her throat. He caught her hands, but she was stronger than him now, impossibly strong for her slim frame. “How… How are you here!” he yelled. “Why are you here!”

Daenerys didn’t answer. She just kept pushing down, trying to get her hands on his throat, to rip it out with bare hands. Jorah shoved, and she staggered back… and before he could think about what he was doing he rammed his sword into her chest, impaling her in a single thrust. Her mouth opened in silent shriek of pain, blue eyes wide as she looked at him. She reached once more for his throat. Then Daenerys Stormborn’s husk sank to the ground, gone.

Jorah didn’t have time to grieve, didn’t have time to think about it. Men were relying on him. He had to fight… Tears freezing on his face, Ser Jorah Mormont, Lord Commander of the United Army of the North, fought on.

Scarlett looked on in horror and confusion. She had watched Daenerys die… and nothing had changed.

It was impossible. She had seen it in the flames, her Lord Jorah fighting in the snow, a blazing blade in his hands as he cut down the Others, as he shone light to cast back the darkness. She had seen it, real as her own hand, had felt R’hllor’s will in it… and now Daenerys was dead, and nothing had happened.

“When Darkness lay over the world,” Scarlett whispered to herself. “A hero was chosen to fight against it. He labored for thirty days and thirty nights to forge a sword, but when he tempered it in water, the sword broke…” She blinked back tears. “The second time, he spent fifty days and fifty nights to make a sword, even finer than the first. This time, he captured a lion, and quenched the sword in its heart… but once again the sword shattered.”

Scarlett took a deep breath as she watched Jorah fight, as she saw the first of the White Walkers appearing in the battle, hurling themselves against men completely unprepared to face a threat of their power. “The third time, he knew what he had to do. He worked a hundred days and a hundred knights to forge the perfect blade, until it was at last finished… and then he called for his wife and asked her to bare her breast. He told Nissa Nissa that he loved her most of all in all the world, and then plunged the blade into her chest.”

She cried. “And the sword burst into flames, and her will and spirit were taken into it, and from the body Azor Ahai drew forth Lightbrighter, and used it to cast back the darkness.” Scarlett wept. It should have worked. “It should have worked!” she cried.

“R’hllor!” she shouted, her voice lost to the wind and the snow and the battle. “Why! Why!”

Why had he forsaken them?

Scarlett sank down to her knees, crying. Jorah was going to die. They were all going to die. She would never see him again, never again see the man that she…

She froze, tears in her eyes. Horror dawning anew. She was a fool. A damned fool. He had to sacrifice the person he loved the most… and if that had been Daenerys, it wasn’t anymore. She shuddered at the memory of his hands on her skin, his cock inside of her. It was… it was her. He loved her!

In another circumstance, that would have filled her with exhilaration. It would have let her fly just as surely as a dragon. Now, it just filled her with cold resolve. There was only one thing to do… it didn’t matter what she wanted to happen. Jorah would die if she didn’t act, immediately.

Scarlett broke into a run, dashing through the army, sprinting for the frontline. Jorah was fighting one of the White Walkers, crossing Brightroar with the sword of Black Ice the pale shadow wielded. And he was losing. She ran through the mass of men, squirming between them, uncaring how her dress caught on armor and ripped, uncaring when one of her shoes got caught in the muddy snow and was left behind.

Ahead of her, Jorah fell to his knees, the Other rising above him, sword raised. Jorah stabbed forward, desperately. And Scarlett leaped between them.

She didn’t feel the cuts. It felt like an impact, like being hit in the chest with a thrown ball… but her eyes wide, she saw the black ice of the White Walkers sword as it burst from her chest, stained crimson with her blood. It had gone right through one of her lungs, but she couldn’t feel it. She was pretty sure that was a bad sign. She focused her eyes on Jorah’s blue gaze, his eyes wide, horrified. His hand was still upraised, holding the hilt of his own sword as it stabbed through her as well.

She felt cold. She tried to speak to Jorah, to tell him the truth, but she couldn’t breathe. No sound came out.

Then she felt the sword in Jorah’s hands, the sword inside her, blaze to life.

And Scarlett died.

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