Lynesse Chapter 1: At Night’s End
This is a Game of Thrones fic. All rights belong to the copyright holders.
This chapter has been edited due to content. If you want to see the unedited version GO HERE.
I had been part of numerous battles, some famous and others not so. In all of them my enemies had been human. They reacted in such a way that I could easily judge how best to win the fight. But the enemies that used the darkness and cold to their advantage were not human. They were the thing of nightmares: White Walkers and wights.
Heartsbane, a gift given to me by Sam Tarly before the battle, sliced into dead after dead. I sometimes let out loud yells to give myself strength and not to scare the wights as they didn’t feel fear. The Night King and the White Walkers gave them commands that none of them could disobey. I wondered briefly if any of their humanity remained. I prayed not.
Every move I made was a form of retreat and standing strong. Unless the Night King was killed, the night would never end. If that abomination destroyed Winterfell it would mean the war might never be won. If Khaleesi and Jon flying their dragons couldn’t win this battle, what hope did we have of winning a war? War against humans was hard enough, but fighting against pure evil was near impossible.
I turned and barley parried a blow from a wight. The only reason I was able to avoid death was pure instincts. With the darkness and coldness of winter, eyesight would not suffice. Depending on what my eyes could see was a death sentence. I had seen many men die this night because their eyes were too focused on seeing what little torchlight could show them.
Shortly after blocking the wight, I killed it and two other dead that appeared quickly behind it. This battle had been planned poorly and I should have had more of an input. But mourning what could have been would be no use to me now. I had to live fully in the moment or I would be added to the Night King’s army. And there was no worse fate I could think of than being a tool to harm Khaleesi.
I looked up and then back down in a blink of an eye. Khaleesi was not the helpless girl I had met all that time ago in Essos, she was a force to be reckoned with now. She commanded armies and fought on Drogon. With him as a steed strong men bowed deeply for good reason. Yet I hated that I could not be by her side making sure that she survived the night. It was a foolish thought but it would not leave my head. So I kept sneaking glances into the dark night sky which was made darker by the Night King.
After a few minutes I looked up again and saw fire in the sky as the living fought against the Night King. Jon Snow rode on Rhaegal and Khaleesi rode on Drogon. The man had managed to take quickly to riding his dragon almost as if it were in his blood. Though my queen had said nothing on the matter, he had to have Targaryen blood in his veins to get on the back of a dragon. Maybe she hadn’t noticed due to all the stress she was encountering ever since reaching Winterfell.
In the confusion of battle I found myself retreating up onto the walls of Winterfell. A few good men had died so that I could live to feel terror overcoming my heart. We were fighting against an enemy that did not fear and would always keep coming. I looked to my sides to see brave men shivering as we all desperately did our best to stay alive. We were fighting for the North and life itself. We had no choice but to be strong.
I nearly lost my concentration when I heard the loud screaming of an angry dragon. It sounded like Viserion which was not good. After being brought back to life, the Night King controlled him. The Night King was after Bran Stark who was now being used as bait to draw out the enemy. This was due to the boy being the new Three-Eyed Raven who the abomination had tried for thousands of years to kill. If the boy was killed then the battle was lost. With Viserion sounding so close, it might mean that the end was near.
Against my better judgement I followed Viserion and silently cried out for Jon or Khaleesi to stop him. But the dragon wight had his wings tucked closely to his sides which made him much quicker than the other two. It was entirely possible that the Night King had, for the moment, evaded his foes.
I attacked fiercer than before after I saw blue fire engulf the godswood, the place where Bran was. Why had we placed him there? Why hadn’t we anticipated that the Night King would deign to remain in the sky as to ensure his safety? The abomination hadn’t survived so long by taking foolish chances. Even though fighting wouldn’t bring Bran back, it did make me feel better.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw Sam stumbling around. He had decided to fight and his courage had quickly left him. I assumed, as I ran to his side, that the blood was all his. In a haze I helped him to the crypts, though there was most likely a battle down there. The Night King could raise the dead, but many commoners had thought the crypts safe and warded by ancient magic. A foolish notion to believe but better than having everyone panicked this night.
I nearly pushed Sam into the crypts before continuing my rampage. In all the other battles I had fought there had been no truly evil people. Just people I had to kill and restrain myself when my bloodlust was nearly out of control. But wights were not people and were controlled by the Night King and the White Walkers. I could slaughter as many of them without feeling my soul start to crumble. It became a game to fight as the end of man was at hand. Even as my vision focused only on killing, I managed to retain enough of myself so I wouldn’t die too quickly.
“Jorah!” Jon yelled as Heartsbane nearly cut his head off.
“Jon?” I asked and we both lowered our blades, both of our arms twitching as we waited for the dead.
Even facing death he seemed calm. Though he had faced death once before and risen stronger than before. He had told me the tale while we had both headed towards Eastwatch. We had gone to capture a wight and Viserion had paid the ultimate price for that venture.
I wanted to beg his forgiveness for nearly killing him but knew this wasn’t the time or place to do such a thing. Every second counted and this was a thing that could be discussed later. If we ended up seeing another sunrise, that was. So I held my tongue and waited for the King of the North to speak.
“Daenerys managed to knock the Night King from Viserion.” Jon explained quickly. “Before she did I was thrown from Rhaegal, hence I’m here.”
“Bran’s death wasn’t your fault.” I reassured him. “You fought valiantly.”
“And he died.”
“Did you see where the Night King was going?”
“I don’t know where he would go as Bran is dead. Most likely he is joining the battle.”
“Won’t he attempt to get on Viserion again?”
“With the dragon missing part of his jaw, most likely not.”
We turned to the sound of two dead being killed by a wildling. I think his name was Tormund and the man was incredibly loyal to Jon. Even if he weren’t, tonight was the time for people to stand united. Ancient conflicts between factions seemed irrelevant as it was the living versus the dead. If the living did not stand united, the dead would surely win.
“What are you doing just standing there?” Tormund asked.
“We’re trying to find the Night King.” I replied.
“You certainly won’t find him just by standing around.”
I looked to Jon and he merely shrugged. The wilding was right, standing here would not do any good. It was a miracle that no dead had snuck up on us. When Jon started to run, Tormund and I followed him. He was the only leader we had in this moment. Soon any thought I had was overridden by my primal need to survive. Heartsbane killed the dead as we moved through the thick of battle to find the Night King.
We found the Night King killing the living as easily as I breathed. Soon enough no one dared attack him as it seemed pointless. They must have hoped that a hero would come to rescue them. No matter how hard I tried, I could not blame them as I was one of those heroes that had to fight alongside my king. Part of me was a coward that longed to run far away from Winterfell and Westeros. Yet against all my fears I attacked the abomination.
After only a minute of fighting with Jon and Tormund, the task of killing the Night King seemed hopeless. I should just wait for Khaleesi but I couldn’t. My sense of honor was too strong for me to retreat and wait for her. She should not have to come to my beck and call. I blocked the Night King’s blade so Jon could move out of the way. The abomination had such strength that when my blade connected with his it felt as if all my bones shattered. Yet I continued my intricate dance with him.
Even though the winter air was made colder with the Night King’s presence, I felt sweat dripping down and freezing when it fell to the ground. Jon’s eyes were confident though I could tell that there was doubt deep in his mind. But as king he couldn’t show such weakness, not even at the end of the world.
Tormund had two dragonglass daggers that he used to great effect. Whenever either myself or Jon wavered, the wildling was there to distract the Night King just enough so that we could recover our strength. I had never expected to be so grateful to a person such as Tormund.
“No!” Jon yelled out in pain as all three of us moved away from the Night King in an attempt to regain stamina.
I couldn’t understand his reaction until my eyes finally caught a small blur that attacked the Night King. The figure stayed still once its blade entered the chest of the abomination. Only then could I recognize the body of Arya Stark, Jon’s sister. She had gone to the House of Black and White to train as a faceless man. Her presence here revealed she had abandoned her training for family, vengeance, or a combination of both.
I couldn’t move my body to comfort Jon as the Night King had easily killed the Stark girl without giving her enough time to form an expression of surprise on her face. Or maybe her training gave her enough time to react but she had decided not to. While everyone’s eyes stayed on the Night King, I smiled as I noticed something they hadn’t and he didn’t want me to.
While Arya hadn’t succeeded in killing the abomination, she had managed to hurt him badly. Blue blood started to come out of where her dagger had pierced his flesh. Things that weren’t able to be killed didn’t bleed. That meant this fight wasn’t as pointless as I had first thought. There was an ending if only we were strong and resilient enough to get to it. Once we killed this creature than the White Walkers would all fall.
I looked at Jon and he was angry until he realized what had caused me such happiness. Strength was rushing through my body in the knowledge that this was a battle we could win. This was a battle where the living survived. I couldn’t tell if Tormund was excited or not, the intensity of the wildling was consistent once the battle had started.
The Night King had to have noticed his wound but it might be he didn’t think we would win. He had lived for countless generations without anyone defeating him. After the Long Night he had been able to retreat and rebuild until it was an opportune moment to strike. He might think that even if he lost this battle, he would be able to retreat until humanity again forgot that he was more than mere legend.
I reached the Night King’s blade first and I imagined he was weaker. I imagined that it felt like less bones were breaking in my arms. When my body had to retreat and allow Jon to take over for a moment, I felt pure euphoria fill my body. This abomination could bleed which meant he could die. Which meant humanity could win. We began to take turns attacking with the ones who were standing back providing backup in case something went wrong. I could see in Jon’s eyes that he was amazed my body could move so quickly for one at my age. When he took his turn to attack the Night King I was amazed at the skill he had developed in such a short time.
In a short amount of time it became a dance between the four of us. My blade was used to protect myself, Jon, and Tormund. My blade was used to attack the Night King. Jon and I found ourselves back to back as the abomination changed where our battle was to take place. Our feet retreated to the burning scent of the godswood without being hindered by any wight. The Night King must want to claim us for his own.
In the darkness we had lost Tormund. Jon had tensed up once he had left our sight. Both of us feared the Night King had killed him and was just waiting to raise him from the dead. Winterfell was littered with the corpses of the fallen heroes. Once we had won the battle, the stench of the burnt dead would stay in the North for generations. But thinking such thoughts was dangerous as even a momentary lapse of concentration could give the Night King enough of an advantage to kill us.
I leaned forwards and Jon stopped the Night King’s blade from piercing my back. I twisted away and aimed a blow at the Night King’s back. As if by pure luck, Heartsbane tasted some of the creature’s blood. The wound was barely a scratch but at least I had caused the nightmare to bleed. Just as I was about to yell my excitement, Tormund did so for me. Our dance became even more intricate with the living attacking the Night King as one.
Without being conscious of it, Heartsbane and Longclaw pierced the Night King as one. Not mere scraps like before, but enough to draw blood. Blue blood poured from the abomination so fiercely that it could not move. Jon and I gripped our swords tightly as if letting go would make this moment a dream. The freedom of the living had been assured by this one act. This one act would allow life to continue on as normal.
“No one can doubt your honor now, Ser Jorah.” Jon said with a cruel grin on his face. “After this night no one will dare curse your name.”
“I doubt they will think of me as your sword also helped slay the Night King, Jon.” I replied and kept any emotion from my face.
“Then I will make them remember your name.”
I would’ve taken Heartsbane out, but I couldn’t move. I had begun this night believing I would die, but I hadn’t. Not only was air going in my lungs, I had helped slay the Night King. If Khaleesi would have me, we could tell our children this tale for years to come. I was no longer a mere knight, I was one of the men who had slayed the Night King. Though if she continued her relationship with Jon, I would not blame her. I could not.
Without warning the Night King’s blood turned red. Feelings of victory quickly changed to those of horror. It was one thing to kill an abomination, it was another thing to kill a human. I had killed many men without feeling disgust and I couldn’t reason my reaction now. No matter the fact his otherworldly appearance was changing into pure human, he had killed countless men. Those he had killed were turned into unwillingly soldiers in his army. Maybe it was the feeling of relief that was now on his human face that was affecting me so.
“The war isn’t over yet.” Tormund said in barely a whisper.
Unlike Jon and myself, he had been watching our surroundings. I had found no reason to stay cautious. When myself, Jon, and Tormund had traveled beyond the Wall to capture a wight, many wights had died once the Stark had killed a White Walker. It was safe to assume that once the Night King was killed the White Walkers and wights would also fall. It had made more than enough sense.
But as I looked around I realized how wrong that assumption was. Instead of the dead falling where they stood, they kept attacking. The sounds of battle had not died, they had merely intensified. Tormund and I turned to Jon as if he had any answers. I knew we were as much in the dark as he was. The White Walkers were an old race that was considered mere myth by many. How were any of us supposed to know the truth of what they were?
The Night King had presented us with a target and a goal. If we killed him then we would win the battle. That belief had given us hope that a victory against the dead could actually be achieved. Without such a target, hope was again torn from my grasp. The dead outnumbered us so if we couldn’t find another trick to win, we would die and Westeros with us.