Author's Note: Good day! I want to introduce to you my NaNoWriMo project! I finished the month at 51,107 words! The fic isn't done, but I do have a substantial amount of chapters. I'm posting this one now, but afterward, I shall post on a weekly basis, on Saturday, at noon Pacific Coast time.
First warning: character death. Also, this is another "The gods sent people back with their memories" story. Is it trope-ish as all hell and done to death? Yes, it is, but they're probably some of my favorite fictions to read on this site. I love seeing the directions that other people would take and this is my direction.
Full summary: Humanity failed to stop the Night King and his legion of undead. The displeased gods decide it should take a greater role in the fate of humanity and decide to wind back time before the world fell apart. Jon Snow, the Prince Who Was Promised, and a Lannister are sent back to prevent The War of the Five Kings and unite Westeros under a single banner to avoid a terrible fate. Even with the advantage of hindsight, things never go as planned.
1/16/21 - Edited for a smoother read.
"They're coming," Tormund said. His face was pale and drawn and his hair and beard were an even greater tangle if that was at all possible. Even under his numerous furs, he shivered. They all did now.
"Thank you. Care to share our fire?" Jon Snow waved at an empty spot next to him, one of the few spots that was cleared of snow and ice.
The wildling hesitated for a moment, but then sat down. Jon considered teasing him for his sentimentality, but ... they were all sentimental these days with how few of them were left.
Jon Snow had only ten thousand men left to his name and the closest thing to a maester was Tyrion Lannister, who sat at the same fire huddled against his brother. Everyone else—Ser Davos Seaworth, Samwell Tarly, Gilly, Bran, Ser Jorah Mormont, Ser Beric Dondarrion, the Hound, Lady Brienne, Ser Bronn of the Blackwater, Lord Edmure Tully, and Queen Daenerys—had all joined the Army of the Dead. He had no idea where his cousins Sansa and Arya were, nor Ser Podrick Payne, but he could only assume they were dead. The Night King now easily boasted half a million souls, but if there was a silver lining to this dark cloud, he held no dragons. They were able to kill the first one he rode, and the other two had had their heads cut off and their carcasses burned to the best extent after they were mortally wounded. Without the mighty power of the dragons, their attempts to fight back the Long Night were crippled. Now the odds were impossible.
At the moment, the army was holed up in a burnt-out husk of a castle. Tyrion estimated they were somewhere in the Reach, but with the snow blanketing everything, identifiable landmarks were too difficult to come by. Regardless, everyone north of this point was dead.
"Before we march out to meet our deaths, does anyone want any hot water?" Tyrion asked.
"Anything to drive this cold away," Tormund said with a hollow chuckle.
Tyrion pulled himself away from his brother, grabbed a copper pot and stumped out of the dilapidated bedroom they had turned into a shelter to stave off the wind. Jon reached into his pack and pulled out the last of their rations. A piece of hardened bread and slices of salted venison. He passed what little he had around, giving Tyrion double rations. Jaime remained unmoved, appearing to be hypnotized by the fire.
Jon heaved a sad sigh. Jaime was never quite the same after his head injury, but he was a shadow of his former self after Brienne died. Time was impossible to tell during the Long Night where the sun failed to rise. A year earlier, Jon had been going over maps in his tent hoping to make sense of the landscape they were in, but the snow made it difficult.
Tormund's gruff voice had sounded outside the tent flaps, "Snow, a rider's arrived."
"A rider?" Jon asked, incredulously.
"Yeah, he says Ser Podrick sent him."
"Send him in," Jon called out eagerly. They hadn't heard from his cousin's party in months. They had gone to seek refuge in the Vale and with the blustering winds, ravens could no longer be trusted to deliver messages.
Tormund led a young man, weak and shivery before him, and Jon immediately called for hot water and some venison, then wrapped the boy up. "Tell me, what news do you have to deliver?"
The man couldn't speak, but he dug around the inside of his vest and held out a stamped letter with trembling hands. Jon snatched it and tore it open.
King Aemon Targaryen, first of his name, ruler of the Seven Kingdoms...
It is with great sadness that I must announce the passing of Lady Brienne of Tarth. We are still working to make our way to the Vale, but the snow is deep and the going is slow. Bandits jumped our camp. They grabbed me and tried to drag me away, but Lady Brienne was able to save me. She was surrounded and fought valiantly, but help did not arrive in time to save her. Ser Podrick now carries Oathkeeper.
I know she and Jaime were close. Please tell him of these unfortunate circumstances. We are still trying to climb our way to the Bloody Gate. Arya and I miss you terribly and we hope the fight against the Night King is going well.
Lady Sansa of House Stark
Jon felt like the breath had been frozen in his lungs. He numbly stumbled over to the tent flap and said, "Tormund, would you bring Jaime to me?"
The wildling sighed, but nodded and set out. By the time he found Jaime, the messenger had been given his meal and was frantically eating his food like it was going to be taken from him. "Here's the cunt," Tormund said and Jaime threw him a withering glare.
"You can stay, too, Tormund."
Tormund frowned but went to stand by Jaime.
"You asked for me?" Jaime asked. Formalities had long fallen by the wayside and no one called him king anymore. He could hardly be a king without a kingdom to rule.
Jon studied him for a moment. Jaime kept a scarf perpetually around his head and had pulled it down to address him. Though the cold seemed to bother him more than the others, he had been in relatively good spirits and proved himself a valuable fighter and commander.
"It is with great sadness that I must inform you that Lady Brienne was killed defending my sister, Lady Sansa. I'm sorry for your loss." He held the letter out to Jaime to read.
Tormund gaped in dismay and pain. Jaime instantly snatched the letter from Jon and read it feverishly, shaking his head. "No, no, no, no! She can't be dead!"
"I'm sorry, Jaime. I know what she meant to you," Jon said patting him on the back, but Jaime shoved him away. The knight wasn't one to show much emotion, but the anguish on his face and tears in his eyes were unmistakable. He tossed the letter and stormed out into the blistering wind.
Tyrion had found him hours later, half-buried in the snow and on the brink of death. It had taken days to nurse him back to health, and when he finally opened his eyes, he refused to say another word again.
Jon was brought back to the present when Tyrion placed the copper pot now filled with snow on the fire. He had to rearrange the logs a bit, but finally got it going. He grinned at Jon when he noticed the venison and bread.
"Ah, one last hearty meal as well. I can think of worse ways to end this life. Come, brother, I'm sure you're hungry," Tyrion said, waving the pork in front of his face. He grabbed his brother's good hand and put the food in it and closed it.
Jaime stirred, tearing off bites of the bread that he chewed for an eternity before swallowing. Jon sighed again. Tyrion was the only one who could get Jaime to eat and even when he did, he looked like he took no pleasure from the food. If Tyrion had not lasted to the end, he had a feeling that Jaime would have simply sat there in front of the fire and withered away before his very eyes.
"So, Snow, what's the plan?" Tormund asked while scarfing down his food.
"Well, we don't have any more dragonglass arrowheads. We can't reasonably expect to barricade the door and shoot the wights, though trying to stay locked up in here might be our best chance."
The snow over the fire had melted and they each took turns sipping from the pot. Jon sighed in relief at the fleeting sense of warmth awashed his insides. It was torturous to hand the pot off to someone else.
"I think there are a few too many holes to make that a truly viable plan," Tyrion said, glancing around. Although the walls were made of stone, half of them had collapsed. The floors for the upper parts of the castle had almost completely fallen away. They were in one of the few rooms that were still intact with all four walls, but there was a hole in the roof where snow trickled down onto them. Tattered wall hangings stirred in the gusts that came through the ceiling and the once plush rugs they now sat on were frozen solid.
"Maybe it would just be better to meet them in an open field," Tormund said. "What do we have to lose? Sure ain't no fuckin' women or children to protect anymore." He gave a pointed look at Jaime who was still slowly eating his own rations.
Jon nodded slowly and felt another pang in his heart. Once upon a time, Jaime and Tormund were at each other's throats over Brienne of Tarth before she had quickly and concisely shut the wildling down. At the time, everyone had been aghast that the honorable Brienne could ever care for a cad like Ser Jaime Lannister, a man with shit for honor and was well known for fucking his own sister. It took some time but the overall opinion of Jaime had changed to a favorable one. Even Tormund had grown to respect the man who had captured Brienne's heart.
"We can't keep running from them, Jon. We have nothing left," Tyrion said, giving him a sad smile.
"I know," Jon whispered, stirring up the fire with a stick to give himself something to do.
He couldn't keep himself from thinking back on how wrong everything had gone. It truly started with the War of the Five Kings tearing the entire country apart, and all of it had been orchestrated by that slimy worm Petyr Baelish. It had taken his cousins—including Bran, the Three-Eyed Raven who could look into the past—in order to trap that rat and execute him.
However, it had never been just Baelish. Jaime Lannister and Robb Stark both had acted like hot-headed fools. Robb had been murdered for his mistakes and Jaime had lost his hand. Cersei Lannister couldn't contain her lust for power and slept with anyone willing to help her maintain it. Her refusing to ally with the North and provide necessary forces and rations had been one hole among many that had sunk their ship. His own uncle, Eddard Stark, had been a naive fool when confronting Cersei Lannister with her attempts to grab power without making certain he had the necessary support. Tywin Lannister, Walder Frey, and Ser Gregor Clegane had torn the realm apart with their murderous tendencies. Even his own beloved Dany had been hot-tempered and unyielding, leading to the destruction of House Tarly when just a little mercy would have tamped down on the rumors that she was merely following in her father's murderous footsteps.
If the realm was a tower of cards, Petyr Baelish had pushed the main support and tipped the whole damn tower over.
Jon bit to stifle a moan as he thought of Dany. Her kind and gentle smile still shined in his memory and he held onto it as a saving grace. He could still remember the feel of her skin and he remembered running his hand over the soft supple curves of her breasts and thighs. She died when Drogon fell from the sky, felled by the Night King's spear, just as his brothers Viserion and Rhaegal had. Jon had tried to reach her, but the flood of undead standing between them meant that he was watching when she was pulled from her saddle. Her screams rent the night as they tore her apart.
Drogon hadn't quite been dead and with the last of his breath he went on a rampage, setting ablaze almost the entire field of undead before him. The White Walker who had led the attack was eventually felled by Jaime's blade and the undead shattered to pieces around them and blew away on the wind.
Jon had scoured the terrain around Drogon for Dany's body, but found nothing. If she had been turned into a wight, it was only for a short time, and she had surely been set free. The knowledge did nothing to ease the pain in his heart. He had simply fallen to his knees and felt the tears burn his skin as they trailed down his cheeks. Tormund had then used Widow's Wail to cut the dragon's head off.
Everyone had looked at him piteously, including Jaime Lannister. It wasn't long after that Jon had been forced to deliver the news to Jaime that Brienne had been killed in battle. Two men who had been complete opposites when they first met now shared the same status and the same torment of having to move on without their lovers. Only Jaime hadn't moved on. He simply wasted away, going through the motions of living. He hadn't tried to kill himself since that first night, but Jon had no idea what kept him putting one foot in front of the other. Perhaps he and Tyrion were tied closer together than he realized.
"Were we able to get an idea of their numbers?" Jon asked.
"A lot?" Tormund said and shrugged. "You get any closer and they'll catch ya and turn you into one o' them."
"Just a wide line of them marching this way?"
"Very well. We might as well meet them in an open field. Any estimates on when they'll get here?"
"Prolly not for another couple hours. You know how slow they walk."
Jon nodded. "Let's let everyone rest for now. We'll get them stirred up soon enough."
"Ser Jaime, I know I say this before every battle, but we need to focus on the White Walkers and the Night King, since we have the only Valyrian steel swords left."
Jon's eyes were on Jaime, but he continued to stare at the fire. He didn't even so much as twitch a muscle. Jon had hoped that with it being their last fight, he might actually pull a word from the Lannister, but even impending doom couldn't seem to stir anything in him anymore. They polished off the pot of water and Tyrion went to get some more to melt and they continued sipping on another pot. Jon checked his sword and then glanced up at Tormund and Tyrion, "Rally the troops. Get them training in the yard. I want their blood pumping when we march out to battle."
"My Lord," Tyrion said with a small bow.
Tormund gave him a savage grin. "It shall be a fine battle and a fine death."
"We need the troops hopeful, not despairing, Tormund."
"I know what I'm doin'."
Jon lingered around the fire for a little longer. Since receiving a head injury, Jaime couldn't fight for more than an hour at a time before seizing in some type of fit. The cacophony of noise and chaos of battle seemed to trigger the fits the most. The last thing they needed was for their last Valyrian steel fighter to collapse in the midst of battle. A few minutes later he could hear the men shouting down below and the ring of steel as the men trained. It was enough to key Jon and he began pacing the tiny room they were in.
Finally he felt enough time had passed and he clapped Jaime on the shoulder. "Come now, we need to get our own blood moving." He reached down and grabbed a burning stick to light their way. With the onset of the Night King, constant darkness enveloped them. None of them had seen even so much as a hint of the sun in roughly six months.
Jaime rose as swiftly and smoothly as the lion his family took for their symbol and followed Jon through the crumbling halls. Once outside, Jon rounded the castle, looking for a quiet place to train, all the while glancing back at Jaime nervously, but his friend seemed unperturbed by the noise echoing around them.
They stepped into what looked like a garden that would be overgrown if the castle had not fallen into disrepair during winter. They made no formal declarations. Jaime tapped the ground with the tip of his sword to indicate he was ready and Jon lunged forward to engage.
Their swords met time and time again as both they and the snow whirled together. Away from all the others, the silence aside from the sound of the swords was deafening. For a moment, it felt like they were engaged in a fight outside of time, in which the world froze for just a moment as though their training exercise was what might determine the fate of the world.
For having lost his dominant hand, Ser Jaime Lannister was impressive. For a time, he was able to meet each of Jon's blows. A shield was strapped to his gold hand and he used it to deflect blows his left hand couldn't quite take. Jon was still the better sword and after a few minutes, Jon was able to slap the sword out of his hand.
Jaime looked unperturbed about this and simply picked up his sword and they started again. He lasted a little longer this time, even going on the offensive to put Jon in closer quarters, but Jon managed to duck out of getting cornered and used his sword to slap Jaime's hand. Jaime held onto Widow's Wail only just and danced out of the reach of Longclaw, before stepping in to meet sword for sword.
Another minute later, Jaime was disarmed. He picked up his sword and readied himself again. Jon opened his mouth to suggest that they end their matches for now, when the eerie low tones of a horn blasted through the air.
"They're here," Jon whispered and he rushed around the building to see that their troops had already vacated the courtyard and formed up into ranks outside the walls. The remaining soldiers wore a mishmash of armor and furs, anything to keep themselves warm and protected. Most of them held banged up shields and swords, but a few had spears that appear to have been pillaged from Dornish soldiers, but instead of the usual steel spearhead, all of them had dragonglass spearheads. It was one of the few things of value they still had left. Those without dragonglass either adapted or died.
Jon found Tormund and Tyrion by the front, staring out at the vast white plain as they tried to peer through the dark and the blizzard. Like blue torches, the eyes of the wights shown in the dark as they steadily slogged forward and slowly their ragged forms took shape.
"I just want to let you all know, I feel fortunate to have you by my side. You've been good friends. I thank you for your companionship," Jon said.
Tyrion gave Jon a weak smile and then went to stand over by his brother, whose hand he grabbed in comfort. Jaime's expression didn't change, but Jon could tell he squeezed Tyrion's hand back. Jon felt his heart swell at the sight and he clapped a hand on Tormund's and Jaime's shoulder.
"Whatever the outcome may be, it ends today," Jon shouted. The wind kicked up to carry his voice away, but the army heard and raised their weapons and their battle cries sang through the night. Tormund let out a monstrous howl and lunged forward, swinging his axe aloft. Jon hesitated only for a moment before he took off after him and the rest of the army followed.
The first wight had his spine snapped in half, the second his head, and so on and so on. With every swipe of the sword, Jon made sure an undead never rose again, but with every death five more wights took its place. The swipes were practiced and rote like he was reaping wheat more than slicing through bodies. He couldn't see any of the people he had come to call friend. He thought he heard Tormund screaming in delirious excitement, but Tyrion and Jaime were nowhere to be heard or found. He sincerely hoped that Jaime didn't go into one of his fits.
He spotted a White Walker on his horse and Jon began to cut a path to it. He somehow managed to take it by surprise and used his sword to knock it off its mount before he plunged the blade into its chest, causing several hundred, if not thousands of wights to disintegrate into dust. A victorious cry swept the army, but the undead were relentless.
Jon felt the claw of an undead hand dig into his left arm and cleaved through it. Another wight swung wildly with his rusted dagger and nicked him on his shoulder before falling headless to the ground. Wherever Jon turned, he didn't see a single live person he could call ally and he felt his heart bottom out in his stomach. Was there anyone left?
Suddenly, another large swathe of undead disintegrated in the air and he let out a ragged breath of relief. Jaime had to be alive out there somewhere. That was hopeful at the least. Another cheer rose from his distant army, but there seemed to be even fewer voices and it fizzled out almost immediately.
Jon breathed heavily and launched himself into the enemy again. He wasn't sure how long he kept cleaving through skeletal bodies, just that they were numerous and endless. Suddenly, the wights fell away from him. He glanced around as they formed a circle as if they were preparing to see him duel. When he turned, the Night King himself stood behind him with a sword that appeared to be made of ice.
The snow crunched under the Night King's feet and it seemed at his behest that the wind suddenly picked up and caused Jon's hands to tremble. He tightened the grip on his sword and stomped over to the Night King with as much purpose as he could muster. Was that a mocking smile on its face? His temper flared and he launched himself at the Night King.
With a fluidity that belied his appearance, the Night King met sword for sword. Jon leapt back just barely to get out of reach. The Night King closed quarters on him and he had to manipulate his sword faster than he'd ever been forced to. He'd already been fighting for some time and his muscles were now beginning to tremble with weakness as he attempted to hold the Night King back, stepping back and side-stepping to continue to create some distance between him and it.
Suddenly, the Night King swung high and Jon raised Longclaw up to meet it. He gasped at a tearing jab that cut deep into his ribs and he collapsed to his knees. The Night King held a wickedly sharp pyramid-shaped dagger in his free hand that now dripped with his blood.
Jon glanced at his side that was already soaked with blood and held a hand to it. He attempted to get to his feet again, but his legs wouldn't support him.
I'm done. This is it. Humanity has lost. He peered up at the Night King in sadness. It wasn't supposed to end this way.
There was no mistaking the pleased smirk on the Night King's face now. Once he was dead, his Valyrian steel sword would be lost and then all that stood between him and total victory was Jaime Lannister and his sword Widow's Wail.
The Night King raised his sword out, ready to sweep through and behead him. Jon fearlessly met the Night King's lightning blue eyes.
Suddenly a pair of arms wrapped around the Night King, pinioning his own arms to his side. Jon blinked in surprise and if it was at all possible the Night King looked almost befuddled. Even in the darkness, Jon recognized the dirty blonde hair and there was still a wooden shield attached to his right arm. Jaime Lannister had leapt onto the back of the Night King and now held his arms in a vice. He met Jon's eyes over his shoulder and gave him a rather pointed look. But where is his sword? He must have lost it in the melee and Jon felt his heart sink even further.
The Night King seemed almost fascinated that he had been contained; he looked down at the arms pinning him and then delicately touched a finger to Jaime's arm. Jon's eyes widened as he could see the transition to a White Walker happening before his eyes. He knew he should do something, but he felt too weak and frozen to the ground. Once again he met Jaime's eyes. He could see their urgency and plea, but it was only when they started to change from green to lightning blue that he made his move.
He got to his feet before he even realized it, and then with a burst of strength he ran the Night King and Jaime Lannister through. For the first time since Jon actively worked with Jaime, peace seemed to descend on the Lannister's face. His eyes fluttered close and he fell off the end of the sword, sprawling in the snow.
At the same instant, Jon's sword Longclaw burst into flames. The Night King became alight as he gaped down at the sword still stuck in him. Jon withdrew the sword slowly and with the last of his ebbing strength, swept the sword through and removed the Night King's head and then fell to his knees.
All of the wights instantly disintegrated and their remains blew away in the wind. The White Walkers screamed, the noise shrill and agonizing even as they carried over the wind. The Night King's body stood for half a moment, before it burst apart as though torn asunder by the magic that had been holding it together all this time.
There was a stunned moment of silence, before the remaining humans shouted to the heavens, raising their weapons to the sky.
Even now that the Night King was dead, Jon's sword burned merrily where it lay in the snow, but he paid it little mind. He glanced down at his side to see the blood still leaking away. The war had finally been won, but he knew there wasn't a man alive left in the vicinity who could treat this wound. He simply nodded to himself and then glanced up. Already the snow was hurrying to bury Jaime Lannister's body and so he crawled over to him with agonizing slowness. It was no more than a few feet away, but even that small action left Jon breathless.
He peered into the Lannister's face. Already the skin was going blue underneath his scraggly beard and even with his eyes closed at peace, deep worry lines cut into the crevices of his face. Jon peeled back a lid and was pleased to see that it was the natural emerald green that stared back at him instead of the lightning blue. He closed his eyes again.
"Thank you, Jaime. It was because of your actions that we were able to end this war. It could not have been done without you," Jon whispered. "No one will know of your sacrifice, but you were a truly honorable man in the end. You deserve to be remembered throughout the ages. I hope you've finally reunited with Brienne."
A sudden light and warmth hit his face and he flinched away for a moment before turning to stare incredulously. The sun was rising. It cut through the night sky with such stark contrast, the sight seemed illusory. The cheers from around him rose to an even greater pitch as they all were once more bathed in the warm light that none of them had ever thought they would feel on their skin again.
Jon smiled and felt tears cut across his face. If only everyone had lived to see this sight. He didn't think he had ever seen anything more beautiful in his life, and only the sight of Daenerys smiling at him could make it more beautiful. His strength finally gave out and he slumped over in the snow, but he continued to stare at the sun with a small smile on his face, until the light faded from his eyes.
As soon as Jon Snow's soul departed, the flame engulfing Longclaw sputtered and died.
|-The Dragon's Roar-|
"They did it. They made it."
"Did they? Good for them, but to what purpose? Every single person of note is dead. The King didn't live to lead his people. It's all been for naught."
"The prophecy came to fruition."
"At the very last moment. Lightbringer should have heralded the Prince Who Was Promised long before now. He missed his window. He failed and humanity failed with him."
"It certainly wasn't all of his fault."
"Certainly not. There were plenty of other humans that, if I didn't know better, appeared to be working with the Night King all along. They sowed their destruction and chaos and they ultimately won. Humanity will never come back from this and it will tear itself apart trying to. They are leaderless. Without direction, they'll simply wander off and die like a wounded animal. Our legacy is dead."
"What would you propose we do?"
"Fix it. Abandon this world's reality. It has nothing left to offer us. We need to take a firmer hand in the direction the next one goes."
"...what you're proposing is dangerous."
"Any worse than what's happened here? Let's salvage what we can."
"Salvage? How do you mean?"
"It may be easier if the Prince Who Was Promised himself knew how dire the situation can be. He can take a firmer role instead of wasting his time on the Wall."
"But...if he knows, that would defeat the point of the prophecy."
"He doesn't know everything, just has bits and pieces of it. If I can reach him in the real world, I can influence his direction so that he doesn't flail around like a fledgling learning to fly."
"We have never taken a direct hand into the humans' affairs before. Do you think it wise?"
"I think it's the only option we have left. But I don't want him to be alone. He needs at least one other person to anchor him to that world, otherwise he might think himself quite insane."
"The next most influential person when the world erupted into war."
"I know just the one."