This story is based on the A Song of Ice and Fire series, created by George R.R. Martin, famously adapted into the HBO show Game of Thrones. I am editing chapters from the series and adding my own words to them, to turn it into a diaper story. Very experimental, was more meant as a joke/experiment than an actual story. Please tell me if I should continue. It is strongly recommended that you see the show or read the books before you read this, or you might not understand most of it and/or will get spoiled. You should be fine for the prologue though. Without further ado, here’s the prologue:
“We should start back,” Gared urged as the woods began to grow dark around them. “The wildlings are dead.”
“Do the dead frighten you?” Ser Waymar Royce asked with just the hint of a smile. Gared did not rise to the bait. He was an old man, past fifty, and he had seen the lordlings come and go. “Dead is dead,” he said. “We have no business with the dead.”
“Are they dead?” Royce asked softly. “What proof have we?”
“Will saw them,” Gared said. “If he sayd they are dead, that’s proof enough for me.”
Will had known they would drag him into the quarrel sooner or later. He wished it had been later rather than sooner. “My mother told me that dead men sing no songs,” he put in.
“My babysitter said the same thing, Will,” Royce replied. “Never believe anything you hear at a woman’s tit. There are things to be learned even from the dead.” His voice echoed, too loud in the twilit forest.
“We have a long ride before us,” Gared pointed out. “Eight days, maybe nine. And night is falling.”
Ser Waymar Royce glanced at the sky with disinterest. “It does that every day about this time. Are you unmanned by the dark, Gared?”
Truth be told, he was. Gared felt a nervous tension that came perilous close to fear. Will shared this unease. He had been four years on the Wall. The first time he had been sent beyond, all the old stories had come rushing back, and his bowels had turned to water. He had laughed about it afterward. He was a veteran of a hundred rangings by now, and the endless dark wilderness that the southron called the haunted forest had no more terrors for him.
Until tonight. Something was different tonight. There was an edge to this darkness that made his hackles rise. A cold wind was blowing out of the north, and it made the trees rustle like living things. All day, Will had felt as though something were watching him, something cold and implacable that loved him not. Gared had felt it too. Will wanted nothing so much as to ride hellbent for the safety of the Wall, but that was not a feeling to share with your commander.
Especially not a commander like this one.
Ser Waymay Royce was the youngest son of an ancient house with too many heirs. He was a handsome youth of eighteen, grey-eyed and graceful and slender as a knife. Mounted on his huge black destrier, the knight towered above Will and Gared on their smaller garrons. He wore black leather boots, black woolen pants, black moleskin gloves, and a fine supple coat of gleaming black ringmail over layers of black wool and boiled leather.
Ser Waymar had been a Sworn Brother of the Night’s Watch for less than half a year, yet no one could say he had not prepared for his vacation. At least insofar as his wardrobe was concerned.
The lordling studied the deepening twilight in that half-bored, half-distracted way he had. Will had ridden with the knight long enough to understand that it was best not to interrupt him when he looked like that. “Tell me again what you saw, Will. All the details. Leave nothing out.”
Will had been a hunter before he joined the Night’s Watch. Well, a poacher in truth. Mallister freeriders had caught him red-handed in the Mallisters’ own woods, skinning one of the Mallisters’ own bucks, and it had been a choice of putting on the black or losing a hand. No one could move through the woods as silent as Will, and it had not taken the black brothers long to discover his talent.
“The camp is two miles farther on, over that ridge, hard beside a stream,” Will said. “I got close as I dared. There’s eight of them, men and women both. No children I could see. They put up a lean-to against the rock. The snow’s pretty well covered it now, but I could still make it out. No fire burning, but the firepit was still plain as day. No one moving. I watched a long time, No living man ever lay so still.”
“Did you see any blood?”
“Well, no,” Will admitted. “A lot of piss, however. It looked as if all the men had pissed themselves, and half the women. There was a foul stench in the air, too.”
“Right. Did you see any weapons?”
“Some swords, a few bow. One man had an axe. Heavy-looking, double-bladed, a cruel piece of iron. It was on the ground beside him, right by his hand. Some others had a small iron-like weapon, but I couldn’t make out what it was exactly.”
“Did you make note of the position of the bodies?”
Will shrugged. “A couple are sitting up against the rock. Most of them on the ground. Some were laying the way a fetus lies in a woman’s belly. Fallen, like.”
“Or sleeping,” Royce suggested.
“Fallen,” Will insisted. “There’s one woman up an ironwood, half-hid in the branches. A far-eyes.” He smiled thinly. “I took care she never saw me. When I got closer, I saw that she wasn’t moving neither.” Despite himself, he shivered.
“You have a chill?” Royce asked.
“Some,” Will muttered. “The wind, m’lord.”
The young knight turned back to his grizzled man-at-arms. Frost-fallen leaves whispered past them, and Royce’s destrier moved restlessly. “What do you think might have killed these men, Gared?” Ser Waymar asked casually. He adjusted the drape of his long sable cloak.
“They couldn’t have froze. We’ve had a few light frosts this past week, and a quick flurry of snow and then, but surely no cold fierce enough to kill eight grown men. Men clad in fur and leather, let me remind you, with shelter near at hand, and the means of making fire.” The knight’s smile was cocksure. “Will, lead us there. I would see these dead men for myself.”
And then there was nothing to be done for it. The order had been given, and honor bound to obey.
Will went in front, his shaggy little garron picking the way carefully though the undergrowth. A light snow had fallen the night before, and there were stones and roots and hidden sinks lying just under its crust, waiting for the careless and the unwary. Ser Waymar Royce came next, his great black destrier snorting impatiently. The warhorse was the wrong mount for ranging, but try and tell that to the lordling. Gared brought up the rear. The old man-at-arms muttered to himself as he rode.
Twilight deepened. The cloudless sky turned a deep purple, the color of an old bruise, then faded to black. The stars began to come out. A half-moon rose. Will was grateful for the light.
“We can make a better pace than this, surely,” Royce said when the moon was full risen.
“Not with this horse,” Will said. Fear had made him insolent. “Perhaps my lord would care to take the lead?”
Ser Waymar Royce did not deign to reply.
Somewhere off in the wood a wolf howled.
Will pulled his garron over beneath an ancient gnarled ironwood and dismounted.
“Why are you stopping?” Ser Waymar asked.
“Best go the rest of the way on foot, m’lord. It’s just over that ridge.”
Royce paused a moment, staring off into the distance, his face reflective. A cold wind whispered through the trees. His great sable cloak stirred behind like something half-alive.
“There’s something wrong here,” Gared muttered.
The young knight gave him a disdainful smile. “Is there?”
“Can’t you feel it?” Gared asked. “Listen to the darkness.”
Will could feel it. Four years in the Night’s Watch, and he had never been so afraid. What was it?
“Wind. Trees rustling. A wolf. Which sound is it that unmans you so, Gared?” When Gared did not answer, Royce slid gracefully from his saddle. He tied the destrier securely to a low-hanging limb, well away from the other horses, and drew his longsword from its sheath. Jewels glittered in its hilt, and the moonlight ran down the shining steel. It was a splendid weapon, castle-forged, and new-made from the look of it. Will doubted it had ever been swung in anger.
“The trees press close here,” Will warned. “That sword will tangle you up, m’lord. Better a knife.”
“If I need instruction, I will ask for it,” the young lord said. “Gared, stay here. Guard the horses.”
Gared dismounted. “We need a fire. I’ll see to it.”
“How big a fool are you, old man? If there are enemies in this wood, a fire is the last thing we want.”
“There’s some enemies a fire will keep away,” Gared said. “Bears and direwolves and… and other things…”
Ser Waymar’s mouth became a hard line. “No fire.” He turned away. “Lead on,” he said to Will.
Will threaded their way through a ticket, then started up the slope to the low ridge where had found his vantage point under a sentinel tree. The great sentinel was right there at the top of the ridge, where Will had known it would be, its lowest branches a bare foot of the ground.
He slid in underneath, flat on his belly in the snow and the mud, and looked down on the empty clearing below.
His heart stopped in his chest. For a moment he dared not breathe. Moonlight shone down on the clearing, the ashes of the firepit, the snow-covered lean-to, the great rock, the little half-frozen stream, the foul stench in the air. Everything was just as it had been a few hours ago.
They were gone. All the bodies were gone.
“Gods!” he heard behind him. A sword slashed at a branch as Ser Waymar Royche gained the ridge. He stood there beside the sentinel, longsword in hand, his cloak billowing behind him as the wind came up, outlined nobly against the stars for all to se.
“Get down!” Will whispered urgently. “Something’s wrong.”
Royce did not move. He looked down at the empty clearing and laughed. “Your dead men seem to have moved camp, Will.”
Will’s voice abandoned him. He groped for words that did not come. It was not possible. His eyes swept back and forth over the abandoned campsite, stopped on the axe. A huge double-bladed battle-axe, still lying where he had seen it last, untouched. A valuable weapon… Next to it lay the other, smaller weapons he had seen earlier. Only now he could see them clearly, and saw that they were not weapons. They were pacifiers.
“On your feet, Will,” Ser Waymar commanded.
“But the stench! I can still-”
“No doubt one of us took a shit here at some point. Gared is known for his foul-smelling monstrosities. There’s no one here. I won’t have you hiding under a bush.”
Reluctantly, Will obeyed.
Ser Waymar looked him over with open disapproval. “I am not going back to Castle Black a failure on my first ranging. We will find these men.” He glanced around. “Up the tree. Be quick about it. Look for a fire.”
Will turned away, wordless. There was no use to argue. The wind was moving. It cut right through him. He went to the tree, a vaulting grey-green sentinel, and began to climb. Soon his hands were sticky with sap, and he was lost among the needles. Fear filled his gut like a meal he could not digest. He whispered a prayer to the nameless gods of the wood, and slipped his dirk free of its sheath. He put it between his teeth to keep both hands free from climbing. The taste of cold iron in his mouth gave him comfort.
Down below, the lordling called out suddenly. “Who goes there?” Will heard uncertainty in the challenge. Ge stopped climbing; he listened; he watched.
The woods gave answer: the rustle of leaves, the icy rush of the stream, a distant hoot of a snow owl.
The Mothers made no sound.
Will saw movement from the corner of his eye. Pale shapes gliding through the wood. He turned his head, glimpsed a white shadow in the darkness. Then it was gone. Branches stirred gently in the wind, scratching at one another with wooden fingers. Will opened his mouth to call down a warning, and the words seemed to freeze in his throat. Perhaps he was wrong. Perhaps it had only been a bird, a reflection on the snow, some trick of the moonlight. What had he seen, after all?
“Will, where are you?” Ser Waymar called up, sounding panicked. “Can you see anything?” He was turning in a slow circle, suddenly wary, his sword in hand. He must have felt them, as Will felt them. There was nothing to see. “Answer me! Why is it so cold?”
It was cold. Shivering, Will clung more tightly to his perch. His face pressed hard against the trunk of the sentinel. He could feel the sweet, sticky sap on his check.
A shadow emerged from the dark of the wood. It stood in front of Royce. Tall, it was, and gaunt and hard as old bones, with flesh pale as milk. Its armor seemed to change color as it moved; here it was white as new-fallen snow, there black as shadow, everywhere dappled with the grey-green of the trees.
Will heard the breath go out of Ser Waymar Royce in a long hiss. “Come no farther,” the lordling warned. His voice cracked like a boy’. He threw the long sable cloak back over his shoulders, to free his arms for battle, and took his sword in both hands. The wind had stopped. It was very cold.
The Mother slid forward on silent feet.
Ser Waymar met him bravely. “Dance with me then.” He lifted his sword high over his head, defiant. His hands trembled from the weight of it, or perhaps from the cold.
The Mother halted. Will saw its eyes; blue, deeper and bluer than any human eyes, a blue that burned like ice. It touched Ser Waymar’s sword, and the weapon shattered.
They emerged silently from the shadows, twins to the first. Three of them… four… five… Ser Waymar may have felt the cold that came with them, but he never saw them, never heard them. Will hadt o call out. It was his duty. And his death, if he did. He shivered, and hugged the tree, and kept the silence.
Ser Waymar was frozen in place. With his weapon broken, there was nothing left for him to do but wait for his sure demise. The Mother made a movement, and quick as a fox touched the lordling on the head with his long, icy fingers.
A wetness spread across the young man’s pants. He had made water from fear, Will realized. He could not blame the man. Yet there seemed to be more to it, as the foul stench returned, stronger than before.
Will was reminded of his first ranging, when his bowels had turned to water. He had never been as afraid before as he had been that day. It would seem as if Ser Waymar felt the same, at this moment.
Behind them, to right, to left, all round them, the watchers stood patient, faceless, silent, the shifting patterns of their delicate armor making them all but invisible in the wood. Yet they made no move to interfere. Again and again the Mother touched, until Will was sure an ocean had formed under the lordling. Ser Waymar was panting now, looking like a deer in the mouth of a lion.
The Mother danced with pale blue light. It said something in a language that Will did not know; his voice was like the cracking of ice on a winter lake, and the words were mocking.
Ser Waymard Royce found his fury. “For Robert!” he shouted, and came up snarling, throwing away his broken longsword and instead using its sheath as a weapon. With both hands and swinging it around in a flat sidearm slash with all his weight behind it.
When the sheath touched the Mother, it shattered.
A scream echoed through the forest night, and the sheath shivered into a hundred brittle pieces, the shards scattering like a rain of needles. Royce went to his knees, shrieking, and covered his eyes. Tears welled up in his eyes.
The watchers moved forward together, as if some signal had been given. Synchronized, they all touched the lording on the head. More tears left his eyes now, and his cry became audible, sounding like a baby’s cry. Will closed his eyes. Far beneath him, he heard their voices and laughter sharp as icicles.
When he found the courage to look again, a long time had passed, and the ridge below was empty.
He stayed in the tree, scarce daring to breathe, while the moon crept slowly across the black sky. Finally, his muscles cramping and his fingers numb with cold, he climbed down.
Royce lay in the snow, starting to cry again as Will moved in front of him. There was an obvious bulge in his pants, and he was surrounded by urine. Will looked at his eyes. He was shocked at the entire lack of intelligence they showed. Lying there like that, you saw how young he was. A boy.
He found what was left of the sword a few feet away, the end splintered and twisted a tree struck by lightning. Will knelt, looked around warily, and snatched it up. The broken sword would be his proof. Gared would know what to make of it, and if not him, then surely that old bear Mormont or Maester Aemon. Would Gared still be waiting with the horses? He had to hurry.
Will rose. A shadow stood over him. The same who had defeated Ser Waymar.
The broken sword fell from nerveless fingers. Will closed his eyes to pray. Long, elegant fingers brushed his head, and he felt a wetness spread at the crotch. More fingers followed, and he felt a mess expanding in his pants. Mothers surrounded him, and they all extended their fingers. Slowly, they went towards his head.
(based on: A Game of Thrones, prologue)