Releasing this chapter a few days early because of the holiday weekend coming up here in the states. So, guess you all can consider this an early holiday present. Ideally, I'm going to be posting one more chapter before the end of the year, so everyone can expect the next chapter to be coming out around Xmas. Also, glad to see the notifications are finally back up and running, so hopefully everyone can be notified about this update. Also, if anyone is interested I would highly recommend checking out the Wheel of Time TV series. They've actually done a really good job so far with it. One thing though, for those who do not know the lore, I would highly recommend watching the little animated shorts they have that accompany the episodes, they do a decent job of explaining some of the lore and backstory that is going on.

Shoutout to my beta reader and brainstorm partner Tellemicus Sundace. The help has been invaluable so far. And another huge thank you to everyone who has favorited, alerted or reviewed this story so far. Your support is what keeps me going If you have any direct questions you want to ask me, please PM me as I am not the greatest in responding directly to reviews, but please still review lol. I like hearing from all of you!

Lastly, I do not own Disney, nor am I Lucas or Martin; so I have no ownership of A Song of Fire and Ice, Game of Thrones or Star Wars. This is purely for fun with no profit being made. And with that out of the way, let's get to the chapter! Stay safe out there everyone!

Chapter 25

Huffing and puffing, Robert Baratheon, King of the Andals and the First Men, forced himself to keep putting one foot in front of the other as he made his way around the training yard of the Red Keep for the tenth time with a log perched across his shoulders that was easily as long as a man and nearly twice as heavy. Finally crossing the line where he'd started, Robert let the log fall off his shoulders and onto the ground before he joined it on the ground. "Wine!" He bellowed, breathing heavily, and resting his head back against the log.

"No wine for his grace. Water only."

Growling, Robert glared at his Commander of the Kingsguard, Ser Barristan, who was standing on the sidelines and currently preventing Robert's squire Lancel, another Lannister golden haired little shit, from coming to his side with his ever-present pitcher of wine. By royal decree, for that was exactly what it took to get his Commander of the Kingsguard to agree to Robert's desires, Barristan was to treat Robert as if he were just a squire being trained to fight. And now Robert was seriously regretting that decision. Barristan was a task master beyond any Robert had ever been trained by. He knew that he would never again be the 'Demon of the Trident' that'd crushed the chest of that sister-fucking piece of shit. But he could at least gain back some of what he'd lost since he'd sat his ass down on the Iron Throne.

There were many, such as his own 'loving wife' and his brothers and even Jon Arryn, who questioned as to why he was now putting himself through this. But they didn't understand. The Greyjoy Rebellion had reignited the fire within him, stoked his rage and made him want to be the warrior he once was. But that fire faded fast the moment he got back to King's Landing and had to resume ruling over the Seven Kingdoms. For years he never even stepped foot in the yard. His primary drink was wine. And the only exercise he got was from fucking whores. He hadn't even realized just how bad he'd gotten until Ned, his sons and Nox showed up after slaughtering the Maesters and revealing a conspiracy that'd been around since before the time of the dragons.

Seeing Ned again had put some life back into him. But watching Ned's boys, one of whom handily killed a member of his own Kingsguard with little effort, had reignited that spark within him. And watching Nox deal with some of the shit of this city so easily… Hells, he felt more than slightly humiliated when he compared himself to them. So, while their time in the city was brief, far too brief for his liking, their time with him had forced him to look at himself. And he did not like what he saw. While he doubted that he would ever be the King that Jon wanted him to be, that just wasn't him, he could at least return to being at least part of the warrior he once was.

"Seven hells, boy," Robert growled as he roughly yanked the waterskin away from his squire, spilling some of its contents. "Did you walk down to the bay to get the water or something?"

Lancel's eyes were wide as he nervously shook his head. "No–No, your grace. I–I was standing right he–here the whole t–time."

"It was rhetorical…dumbass," Robert sighed, shaking his head and pouring some of the water over his head before downing the rest of it. "Get my sword."

Lancel nodded and quickly ran off to the bench where Robert's sword, Dragon's Bane, was waiting. All but ripping the sword out of the little shit's hands, Robert took a moment to marvel at the rippled Valyrian steel. No matter how many times he'd seen it since that wonderful day at the Small Council, he still couldn't help but admire this one facet of the Dragon Lords of old who had created this and other such works of art. "Barristan. Get your ass out here."

Making sure he had a firm hold on his sword, Robert waited as Barristan drew his own Valyrian steel blade and moved to stand opposite of him. Their spar, if it could even be called that, was very one sided as Barristan proceeded to thoroughly trounce Robert time and time again. Not that Robert necessarily expected differently. He'd always preferred his war hammer and brute strength over the finesse of a sword. That was more Ned's thing when they were growing up together in the Vale. But given his status and age, he doubted that he would ever again step foot onto the battlefield. More's the pity for that. So training in the yard was about the closest he would ever get to feeling the thrill of battle again.

Finally, after getting disarmed and knocked on his ass for the tenth time, Robert finally called an end to the training session. "By the Seven's hairy balls, Barristan…can you at least look like it took some amount of effort on your part?" Robert gaffed, motioning towards his Commander who wasn't breathing hard and barely even sweating.

"It did take a lot of effort on my part, your grace," Barristan nodded, sheathing his sword. "After all, you're still alive."

Letting loose a loud rumbling laugh, Robert slowly got to his feet as he noticed a slight grin on Barristan's face. As there was on Lancel's. "What's so funny boy?" Robert asked, rounding on his squire with all the fury he could muster given the situation.

The smile instantly disappeared. "N–Nothing, yo–your grace."

"Oh really?" Robert asked, just barely able to keep himself from breaking as he stared hard at the boy. "Are you too good to laugh at a joke made by the Commander of the Kingsguard?"


"Oh, enough," Robert laughed, thoroughly enjoying first victory in the yard that day, even if it was with bloody words instead of swords. "Get your ass moving and get someone to prepare my bath. I smell like the wrong end of a horse."

"Y–Yes, your grace!" Lancel bowed before all but sprinting out of the yard.

Sighing, Robert weaved Dragon's Bane through his belt and motioned for Barristan to fall in line. "Come on Barristan. Let's walk…gods only know how long it'll take that useless golden shit to actually do as his king commanded."

Barristan didn't say a word as he fell into line behind Robert, and together the two of them made the short trek from the training yard to the godswood in the Red Keep. 'If only you were here with me.' Robert thought with sorrow as he and Barristan began traversing through the rows of flowers and plants that decorated the godswood. 'All of this…It means so little without you here to share it with me. Not even all of the Seven Kingdoms can fill the hole your death left in me. Though at times…Gods, I wonder if you would even want to be here in this cesspool of a city. No weirwood tree to remind you of home. No open fields to ride through. But more than just being in the city… Would you even want to be with me?'

Hearing a quick sniffling, followed by the unmistakable sound of someone crying, Robert ceased their walk and began looking around. "Barristan," Robert called out behind him as he spotted only one other individual in the godswood. "Who was Oakheart assigned to watch today?"

"Your children, your grace," Barristan answered immediately.

Grimacing, Robert was of the mind to just leave it be, but another sharp cry froze him in place. 'Curse it all to the Seven hells.' Turning on his heel, he marched over to where Oakheart was standing, the man looking clearly uncomfortable as he finally noticed Robert and Barristan approaching him.

"Your grace!" Oakheart near shouted, standing up straight like he had a rod shoved up his back.

Robert gave him a quick nod of acknowledgement before turning his attention to the source of the noise. He wasn't sure just what he was expecting to find when he looked down but seeing Myrcella holding onto an openly weeping Tommen with a red bundle laid out before them was certainly not it. 'Two golden heads…but they shouldn't be that way. They should be dark hair…just like my love's. Black of hair with stormy eyes. Not golden haired and green eyed like my bitch of a queen.' "Myrcella, Tommen," he called out, squatting down close to them.

Robert wasn't sure just what was worse. The fact that Tommen let out a startled cry and hugged his sister tighter. Or the fact that Myrcella glared at him with a look that did not belong on a young girl her age, or her flat tone when she responded to his presence with a 'your grace' and not 'father,' not 'Robert.' Just…'your grace'. As if she were not his daughter at all. He didn't know why, but it hurt. The hole that'd been created by the loss of Lyanna, hearing that cold tone from his daughter and the reaction of her holding her brother tighter…it made the void left within him ache something fierce. 'By the gods…have I really been this shit of a father that my own children act like this just in my mere presence?'

"What's going on children?" he asked, trying to keep his tone light in the face of his daughter's glare and his son's obvious distress.

Myrcella's gaze hardened as he noticed her tightening her hold on Tommen. "Why do you care…your grace?"

Feeling frustrated, Robert snapped at her. "I care because I am your father, damn it!" Myrcella flinched and Tommen's crying started anew, making Robert feel like complete shit. "I'm sorry," he said, fighting down his irritation and trying to keep calm. "Please, Myrcella. Tommen. I – I'm your father. Not just your king. Now, talk to me. What's going on. And what is that?"

Myrcella's gaze softened only slightly and Tommen crying lightened. But still neither answered him. Reaching forward towards the red bundle, Robert lifted the corner of the cloth and peered at what was within. And was met with the sight of flesh and blood. Thankfully, an animal's flesh and blood. An animal that'd just been skinned by the looks of it.

A wave of bile rose in his throat as he was brought back to the last time he was presented a red bundle soaked in blood. 'Stop it,' he chided himself. 'They were spawns of the dragon and children of that whore. They do not deserve your pity.' "What is this?" he asked gently, making sure that neither child could see the skinned creature inside.

"It–It's S–Ser Prance."

Robert's heart froze in his chest as his lungs refused to work. 'Ser Prance? That was the name Tommen gave to the fawn that I ordered to be gifted to…him.' Moving in a way so that his children wouldn't see under the red cloth, Robert again lifted the cloth and stared at the skinned animal. It was indeed a fawn. And around its neck was a black and yellow collar. "Who did this?" he asked, turning towards his children. Neither would answer him though, or even look at him for that matter, so he instead turned towards Oakheart. "Oakheart. Answer me. Who. Did. This?"

Oakheart looked more than slightly uncomfortable as the young man shifted his feet back and forth. "T–The queen ordered not tell any—"

"I don't give a damn what that bitch ordered!" Robert all but yelled and shot to his feet, an action he immediately regretted as it caused Myrcella and Tommen to both whimper and cling to each other together. "I want to know who did this. Now."

Oakheart hesitated only a moment longer before telling him. "It was the crown Prince, your grace. He said that no self-respecting lion would want a fawn, lions eat fawns. And the crown prince told Prince Tommen that Pride was hungry."

Robert felt his fury spike. Pride was the name of the pet lion that Tywin had had sent to King's Landing for Joffrey's last name day. Though Robert was not happy about keeping the beast in the Red Keep. Unlike the wolves that followed the Starks around, no doubt where Tywin and his wife even got the idea in the first place, that beast was not tamed in the slightest. It wasn't even a cub, but nearly a full-grown lion. And the beast had a habit of trying to claw or bite anyone who even got close to it. In fact, it pretty much spent all its time in Joffrey's rooms locked in a cage with a chain around its neck just to make sure it didn't do any harm to the servants. Hells, even despite the beast being locked away and chained, it'd still already managed to maim three servants, though how it managed to do that he had no idea. But now, hearing what Tommen said about his pet fawn and Joffrey wanting to feed it to the beast... He'd heard a passing whisper that Joffrey was tormenting his servants by forcing them to put their arms through the bars of Pride's cage. But he'd chalked it up to be just that: whispers. Especially seeing as how he could never actually find the servants who were injured or even the ones who were whispering about it. But now…could there be some truth to it?

Turning his back on his Kingsguard, Robert knelt back down beside his children. Using his hands, Robert began digging a shallow grave for his son's pet fawn. Once the hole was as deep as his elbow, he stopped digging and put the fawn into the hole and slowly covered the poor creature with dirt. After burying the fawn, he sat down fully and motioned towards his children. "Come here, Myrcella, Tommen."

Moving slowly, another action which brought another slight pain to Robert's chest, both Myrcella and Tommen slowly came over to him and sat down in his lap with each claiming one of his legs as a seat. Wrapping his arms around the two of them, he held them close, mentally cursing all the while at the stiffness he felt from each of them. He remembered his mother and father doing exactly this to him when he was still but a boy before he was sent away to foster, and it always made him feel better. So, maybe it would work for his children as well as it did for him?

"I'm sorry, Tommen, Myrcella," he said, surprising himself slightly as he realized he really did mean it. "I–I've been a shit father to both of you. And I'm sorry. Though I know just saying it won't mean much…but I am sorry. And I promise, from here on out, I will be a much better father to both of you. I'll protect you both, just as a father should."

While holding them, Tommen had eventually relaxed enough so that the young lad was resting his head on Robert's chest. But Myrcella, his beautiful daughter, was still resisting him. "A–And what if we need protecting from Joffrey a–and mo–mother?"

Frowning, Robert looked closely at Myrcella. Had things really gotten so bad? Was…Was his eldest tormenting his brother and sister? Right under Robert's very nose? And why would they need protecting from Cersei? Robert would be the first to admit that his queen was a coldhearted bitch. But she did care for their children…didn't she? "Even from your mother and your brother, children. I swear it to you," he said with conviction as he started rocking slightly. "But even if I stay with you both all the time, I can't protect you both forever. You have to grow strong. What are our words, children?"

"Hear me roar?" Tommen answered almost immediately, drawing a harsh look from Myrcella.

Robert seriously wanted to curse that bitch. And himself for being so lax. "Those are the words of that bi– of your mother's House. Of House Lannister. You two are Baratheons. Ours is the Fury. Those are our words children. When the dragons tried to put us down, we put them down. We do not back down from a challenge or a fight. We meet it head on and show the world that we are not afraid of any challenge that might be put in front of us. We do not fear the storm that comes. We are the storm. That is why ours is the fury."

Tommen had ceased his tears and even Myrcella was looking at him with, well, not the look of contempt that she wore earlier, but a more neutral look that he couldn't really read despite her age. 'Some progress, at least,' Robert thought, holding onto his two children as he turned his head around towards the two Kingsguard behind him. "Oakheart. Where is Joffrey and the queen?"

He felt both Myrcella and Tommen tense, and in response he tightened his hold on each, trying to give them some support. Or at least he hoped that was how they would view it. "They are in the prince's chambers, your grace," Oakheart answered, "Ser Jamie is watching over them."

Nodding, Robert helped his children off his legs before standing and placing a hand on each of their shoulders. "Have a servant bring my children's playmates to them. And then have another go to the kitchen and prepare whatever they want."

Oakheart nodded and stood aside for his children. Myrcella gave him a hopeful look before parting and Tommen, his son didn't seem to want to let go of him. In the end, it was Myrcella who managed to coax the young boy away with the promise of sweets from the kitchen and that the first game would be one of his choice. Once they were out of sight, Robert let out a breath and all but collapsed onto a nearby stone bench, his hand coming up and rubbing at his chest. It'd only been for a moment. But as he held his children, gave them comfort, and interacted with them, he felt the void that'd been left in his heart from the death of his Lyanna disappear. A void that not even the Seven Kingdom's could fill. 'Is that…? Is that how to make the pain go away?' He thought, frowning in thought as he sat there in the godswood, staring off in the direction his children had disappeared too.

"Your grace," Ser Barristan called out tentatively, breaking Robert out of his stupor. "Are you alright?"

"No, Barristan," Robert replied, shaking his head as he felt the anger that'd been suppressed by the light his two children had brought to him return full force. "I'm pretty fucking far from 'alright'."

Bending over, Robert roughly grabbed hold of Dragon's Bane and marched off towards the royal chambers, leaving Barristan rushing to keep up. It was far past time that he did something he should've done some time ago.

With each step he took, his rage over what he'd learned in the godswood intensified. 'Ours is the fury,' Robert seethed to himself as he marched into the royal wing of the Red Keep. 'It's time that bitch and my pathetic excuse for a son learn what that fucking means.'

Even if he didn't know which room was his son's, and granted it took him a moment to remember, it was painfully obvious where his wife and son were as he saw no less than six Lannister guards standing watch outside one of the rooms. One of the guards spotted him, and immediately snapped to attention, catching the attention of the others.

"Your grace!" the man called out in surprise. "Th–The queen asks not to be dis—"

"I am your fucking King!" Robert bellowed back as he let the Bane's sheath clatter to the floor, revealing the rippled Valyrian steel. "If you lot stand in my way, your heads will be decorating the walls of the Red Keep. Move!"

The fools wisely scattered, leaving him a clear path to the door. Reaching the door, Robert didn't bother to knock, or even use his hand to open the latch. He simply leaned back, picked up his leg, and kicked at the wooden door with all the force he could muster. The doors opened with a bang, startling the three inside. Despite his rage near clouding his vision, Robert was clear minded enough to see his wife and son sitting having a cup of fucking tea and treats with the Kingslayer standing behind the bitch.

Cersei called out to him, or at least he thought she did. But he paid her no mind as his eyes settled on the cage in the corner of the room where the beast Joffrey called 'Pride' was kept. If he'd been in the right mind, he might've felt pity for the beast as it was locked in a cage barely large enough to fit it with a golden chain collar around its neck and attached to the bars. But Robert was far past the point of caring. Ignoring everyone, Robert marched over to the lion and, with one thrust, buried Dragon's Bane into the beast's heart, ending its life instantly.


Turning his head, Robert saw Joffrey charging at him with a fucking whipping stick in hand. His rage still peaked, Robert didn't hesitate as he pulled Dragon's Bane out of the beast and held onto it with one hand. Waiting until the little shit was closer, Robert caught Joffrey on the jaw with the back of his free hand, knocking the little shit off his feet and onto the floor.

"Robert!" Cersei screamed, running at him as well her hands raised ready to slap him back.

He didn't hit her, though gods knew he wanted to. Instead, he simply caught her arm mid-slap and roughly threw her down onto the ground next to their son. Raising Dragon's Bane, Robert didn't point the blade at either his wife or son, but instead at the last occupant of the room. The Kingslayer. Cersei's brother, who just so happened to have his hand on his sword.

"Give me a fucking reason, Kingslayer." Robert growled, glaring at the yellow-haired shit. "I can guarantee you: it won't be as easy as stabbing an old cripple in the back this time."

He could tell that the Kingslayer wanted to pull his sword, he could see it in his eyes. But instead, the fool showed restraint and moved his hand away from his sword. No doubt because Robert knew that Barristan was standing right behind him and was eyeing the Kingslayer with his own hand on his sword.

Lowering the tip of his sword, Robert turned his attention from the Kingslayer and to the little shit he called a son, who was currently being coddled by his equally bitch of a mother. "Why?!" Cersei yelled, holding onto their crying son.

"You know why." Robert growled, his eyes shifting from Cersei to Joffrey. "Tommen's fawn, you little shit."

"T–The fawn?" Joffrey cried, his voice sounding strangled and pathetic. "It was just a pat–"

"Shut up, you little shit!" Robert yelled, bringing his hand up to slap down at the boy, only for him to curl into his mother like a coward. "You skinned Tommen's pet and presented it to him like it was something to be proud of before feeding part of it to that fucking beast there!"

Joffrey whimpered in fear while Cersei glared up at him. "It was only a fawn."

Gods, he wanted to smack that conceded look off her face permanently! But he knew that that would cause more than a few problems. Problems he was not of the right mind to deal with. "This sort of thing…will never happen again." Robert growled as he tried to keep his fury from killing both right there. "I've heard rumors of what you've been doing, you little shit. The pregnant cat. The servants that end up maimed only to disappear. Never. Again. If I hear even a whisper of you even looking at someone the wrong way, I will have you disinherited and on the next ship destined for the Wall. Your grandfather be damned."

Cersei's eyes went wide, as did Joffrey's. "You–You can't do that!" Cersei screamed, cradling their son tighter. "Joffrey is the Crown Prince! You canno—!"

"He is a Prince! I am the fucking King, woman!" Robert yelled, causing Cersei to flinch. "And we have Tommen as well to replace him should he fuck up again." Pausing Robert leaned over and glared at his son, who couldn't meet his gaze. "One—Fucking—Toe out of line, boy. And you will spend the rest of your life freezing your ass off at the Wall."

Righting himself, Robert gave one last glare towards the Kingslayer before turning and marching out of the room. Leaving his wife to cradle their now whimpering son. 'Gods…how could such a pathetic little shit come from me?'

Sitting in a large lifeboat that'd been attached to the Sea Wolf, Nox was pulling deeply on the Force to try and cover up just how badly the cold air of the north was starting to affect him as the boat was slowly rowed towards the shoreline. He'd learned very quickly after arriving on this world just how strange its weather patterns were, most of which seemed to defy the very laws of nature. But he'd never thought that he would ever step foot on a part of this world that could make even Hoth seem hospitable. After passing by the Wall by sea, the air temperature had plummeted. Many joked that north of the Wall a man could take a piss and watch it freeze before it hit the ground. Which honestly was ridiculous considering just how cold the air would have to be to make such a feat possible. But now that he was north of the Wall, he was highly inclined to believe that there was some truth to the tale.

'The weather has to be being influenced by the Force presence north of the Wall.' Nox thought as the boat he was in drifted closer and closer to shore. 'Ever since passing the Wall, I've noticed a strange Force presence…Dark in nature, to be sure. But it's elusive. Similar to Valyria…but not quite. Valyria was brought about by a sharp influx of pure dark side chaos that corrupted the land quickly. Whatever this strange presence is… It's been slowly changing the land to how it wishes it to be. And the only reason why it hasn't spread further south is because of the Wall. Interesting. I'm going to need to speak with a number of people once we get back to the Wall and Winterfell.'

"Nox. You with us?"

"Aye," Nox responded to Ned's question while giving himself a mental shake. There would be time to ponder the strange Force signature after they were done with what they'd set out to do.

"What can you tell me of the wildlings' numbers?" Ned asked.

Tilting his head back, Nox focused his senses in on the plot of land before them. It was…difficult due to the strange Force presence north of the Wall. But wasn't impossible for one of his skills to discern an approximation in a specific location. "Mance kept his word," Nox responded. "I would say that there's somewhere between one to two thousand wildlings in the ruined settlement and none outside for quite a distance."

Nodding, he could feel Ned reach out with his fledgling abilities to try and verify the numbers. As he did, Nox took a moment to get a read on those who were coming with them to shore. There were nearly a dozen rowboats rowing towards the shore from the Sea Wolf ferrying the Lords and Ladies and their men at arms from south of the Wall. At best, they numbered perhaps two hundred. The rest of their men, another two hundred strong, were waiting back on the Sea Wolf for the rowboats to return to the ship. And while all of them were armed in one way or another, they had all taken the time to use leather to tie the hilts of the blades into their sheaths. A gesture that meant while they were coming armed, they had no intention of using their weapons.

'Not that we will need them anyway,' Nox thought, sending a passing glance over his apprentice and acolyte and fingering the mask, Raven's mask, that was tucked away within his cloak. 'I could take on these wildlings myself and hardly break a sweat. Robb and Jon, they are young but well on their way to one day becoming my equal or better. And that doesn't even include the fact that we have the Quiet Wolf of the North, the Red Viper of Dorne, the Gallant Knight of the Reach, and the Lion Survivor. If anything, these two hundred men that insisted on joining us will probably just be a nuisance rather than an aid should things go to hell.'

Moving his senses back to the beach, Nox noted that the wildlings had started assembling themselves on the shoreline. There was no shortage of anger and trepidation coming from both the wildlings and those who came from south of the Wall. As far as Nox could tell, while the wildlings did make the odd trade or two with the North or even the men of the Wall on occasion, this was the first time in a long time that leaders from either side of the Wall met with the purpose of talking with one another instead of trying to kill each other.

Once they were close enough to beach the boats, several men jumped over the sides into the ankle to knee deep water and pulled them up onto the shore. Ned was the first one off the boats, followed almost immediately by Winter and her cubs Ghost and Grey Wind while Nox, Jon, and Robb followed immediately afterwards. He could hear murmurs of surprise at the sight of the near horse sized direwolf in their midst, even more so when Winter obeyed the simple hand commands that were being given to her by Ned. In relatively quick order, the rest of the dozen boats were docked, and those that'd come as representatives of the lands of the south lined up beside Ned, with Oberyn, Willas, and Gerion standing closest to the Warden of the North.

It was an impressive group to be sure, but the wildlings were certainly not a people to be outdone. Standing nearest to the shore were dozen or so wildlings, a mix of men and women, all of whom Nox assumed to be chieftains amongst the wildlings. But there was one amongst the assembled wildlings that gave those from south of the Wall pause. And that was the giant that was standing amongst the wildlings. 'Well, he's certainly an impressive one,' Nox thought scanning over the giant that could potentially rival a rancor in height.

Ned made to move forward but stopped as he no doubt finally saw the familiar face that was standing in the middle of the wildlings that'd been assembled. Ned turned towards Nox, but he simply just shrugged. "You never asked."

"Lord Stark," Mance Rayder called out in greeting as Ned and the rest of them approached the wilding leaders.

"Rayder," Ned nodded in reply. "Why am I not surprised to find you here of all places?"

"You know this man, Stark?" Oberyn asked, drawing a few looks from wildlings.

"Aye," Ned nodded. "This man was masquerading as a bard during Nox's wedding…The same wedding that saw the end of my son and wife. This man, though, he saved the life of Robb here and had a hand in capturing several of the conspirators alive."

Rayder just shrugged. "I just did as any man should've, Stark. Now, it has been some years since my tutelage under Maester Aemon…but if I am not mistaken it seems that you've brought more than just the Lords and Ladies sworn directly to you in the North."

"Aye," Ned nodded, motioning towards each of those of note that came with him. "These are my sons, Robb and Jon Stark, and beside them is my ward, Theon Greyjoy. This is Lord Alim Nox, the Northern Sorcerer. Outside of my own lords I have brought Lord Willas Tyrell of Highgarden, Lord Gerion Lannister of Casterly Rock, and Prince Oberyn Martell of Dorne."

With each name said, Rayder's surprise and slight apprehension grew. Taking on the North was one thing. If anything went wrong now though, his people could potentially be facing retribution from three other kingdoms from south of the Wall. "An impressive group, Stark," Rayder nodded before turning and motioning towards first the two beauties standing beside him then to the rest of those assembled. "This is my wife Dalla and her sister Val. The old crone here is Mother Mole. The man standing next to me is Magnar Thenn, leader of the Thenns. And these two here are Tormund Giantsbane and Karsi. And the giant here is Mag Mar Tun Doh Weg, or Mag the Mighty if the name is too long for ya."

Nox gave each leader a pass over, but he paid especially close attention to the old woman next to Rayder. Attention that she was returning in equal measure given the featherlight touches of the Force he felt against his mind. The old woman was strong in the Force. Very strong. But highly untrained. Had she received proper instruction, there was a possibility that this old woman could've been his rival in terms of power.

Before anyone could say another word, the old woman started crackling with a large grin plastered across her face. "The time of breaking has come. Here and now, we decide our fates. Death. Salvation. One and the same? Perhaps. Hatred rules the hearts of many. Put aside such hatreds we must, least we all meet our end at the foe long thought dead." Crackling again, the old woman turned and began walking towards the center of the ruins. "Come, come! Warm our bodies and bellies we should be taking begins."

Most of those who'd followed the Starks north turned their attention away from the retreating old woman and back to Rayder. "She's…a bit different," Rayder said, answering the unasked question. "But she knows far more than most. And often knows what could happen before it even comes to pass. Something I feel like you Nox might have intimate knowledge of."

"Aye, I do," Nox nodded as he took the first step towards the line of wildlings. "But discussing the Force is not the purpose of our journey here. We've come to talk about our common enemy. The enemy of all of us. So, let's talk."

Rayder nodded and motioned for them to follow as he led all of them towards the only building that was still in passable shape, and by the standards of this place all that meant was that it had four mostly-intact walls and a roof. The space inside wasn't necessarily the largest, but it was enough to fit the wildling chieftains and those of rank from the south. Although he would admit that it was rather amusing to watch the giant Mag the Mighty squeeze his way into the building. Mother Mole had already taken a seat closest to the fire that was burning in the center of the building as they all made their way in, separating out into two groups, one on each side of the room. During his tenure amongst the Sith Empire, Nox had been to several negotiations, or rather surrenders considering who he served. And the atmosphere was the same here as it'd been back in the Empire. Fear, trepidation and more than a touch of hostility as the two groups eyed each other. But there was also something else that Nox was not expecting. There was the unmistakable aura of a Force imbued object. He couldn't pinpoint it exactly, but it was here. And in the wildlings, or rather the free folks, possession.

"Well," Nox sighed, shaking his head. These things were never easy. "Perhaps starting on common ground will help. I believe you all can agree that this meeting with each other is not the easiest of prospects."

"Fucking right you are, sorcerer," GreatJon growled, earning a few murmurs of agreement from those of the North. "These fuckers have been raiding and killing like animals for thousands of years."

"And the crows have been doing the same to our people for the same amount of time," Mance Rayder countered. "And if we are to base such hatred on this, then may I ask why it is that you have a Greyjoy in your midst? My lessons from the old man might be far behind me, but I remember well the tales of the krakens raiding the North worse than any free folk raid. You paint all free folk with the same brush, do you not do so with him as well?"

Nox just barely kept himself from smiling as he saw the GreatJon go red and start sputtering. The man had a point. The Ironborn had been raiding the North for perhaps just as long as the wildlings, or rather free folk, had. And the raids from the Ironborn, while perhaps less numerous, were far more damaging when they did occur. "Alright, then let us agree that there is no shortage of enmity between the people south and north of the Wall."

"You are mistaken, sorcerer," the beautiful blond woman standing beside Mance spoke up, Val he believed her name was. "We Free Folk do not outright hate our Northmen brethren. At least that is the truth for most of us. We are all the same blood, the blood of the First Men. It is your crows that come hunting us in the night, killing our children, our loved ones, and taking that which we need to survive whom we truly hate."

Nox could tell that more than one of those from the south were surprised by the eloquent speech. And to be completely honest, Nox was a bit surprised as well. 'A silver tongue. And by the way she holds herself she more than knows how to defend herself. It's no wonder this Val is a chieftain amongst the Free Folk.'

"There will be a time to point out each other's faults later," Ned cut in, shooting a hard look towards the GreatJon that told the larger man to back down. "We did not come to trade insults or histories. We came because your people have amassed in a number far larger than any seen before in hundreds of years. Yet despite your numbers being what they are, you have not marched on the Wall or the North. Which tells me that you are not gathering simply for a raid."

"Well observed, Stark," Mance nodded. "Yet you know exactly what our motives are."

Ned's hard look didn't change as he stared at the King-Beyond-the-Wall. "I would have you say it, Rayder."

Nox sat back and watched as the battle of wills took place between the King-Beyond-the-Wall and the Lord of Winterfell. "Very well," Mance nodded. "The White Walkers have arisen along with their army of dead and are marching on my people. I, and those that follow me, have not attacked the Wall because we have no intention of invading the North. We come to hide behind the Wall and weather the storm that comes."

More than a few uneasy glances past between the men and women that occupied the building. Only Ned, Nox and Mance kept their composure. "Do you have proof of this?" Ned asked.

Mance, sadly, shook his head. "You know I don't. If I did, then there wouldn't be need for this talk to take place as we would already be south of the Wall."

Nox could feel Ned glance towards him. He knew what his friend was going to say, and it was unfortunate and could more than likely end the talks here and now. "No Stark in all of written history has ever willingly allowed the Free Folk south of the Wall in mass," Ned stated firmly in a tone that would not allow for argument. "And without proof…I will not be the first to do so."

"Fuckin kneeler," one of the Free Folk, Magnar Thenn, spat on the ground. "Tis be a waste of breath, Rayder. They just gonna sit back and watch us fuckin die."

Ned turned his attention to the man as Winter stood up and growled lowly in her throat. "I do not bar your entry out of spite, Magnar Thenn," Ned responded, holding his hand out to keep Winter at bay. "If and when the White Walkers come, I will man the Wall with every strong arm the Seven Kingdom's has to offer. But until then, I cannot simply allow you and yours south of the Wall so easily. There is too much animosity between the people of the North and the wi – Free Folk. However, having said that…I can and will open the Wall to all that are sworn to the North."

The meaning of Ned's words took a minute to sink in, and once they did there was no shortage of anger coming from the Free Folk. "You would have us become kneelers?" The large man named Tormund growled.

"I would have you all live in peace within the North," Ned countered, not backing down from the wildling. "Swearing allegiance to House Stark and the North is not something I would ask just to inflate my own ego. By swearing an oath upon the old gods, which I know the Free Folk hold sacred, I can ensure that the laws of the North will be abided. And the oaths would also serve to protect you as well. Those of the North still live in fear of raids coming from beyond the Wall and all of you who live north of the Wall. By swearing the oaths, you would be gaining the protection of House Stark against any who might seek to bring you harm."

His friend's speech might not have fully convinced the free folk, but it appeared to at least get them thinking of the offer. "Salvation through death." Mother Mole muttered. "Death comes in many forms. But it is one thing above all else. An end."

"Death is not the end. It is merely a transition from one state to another. As is this." Nox countered.

Many amongst the free folk were casting wary looks towards their chosen King. "And where would my people be housed?" Mance asked, neither confirming the decision to join them, but certainly not dismissing it. "I doubt you would place us in the Gift. Too much bad blood between the crows and the free folk to trust that the oaths would keep the bad blood at bay."

Ned paused before answering. "There is much land in the North that is currently uninhabited. Much of it is arable that you could make your home. And due to recent events…there are a number of keeps and holdfasts that are in need of new Lords and Ladies to make their home."

"You…would make one of us one of your kneeler lords?" another of the chieftains, Karsi he believed, spoke up for the first time.

"Can you think of a better option to lead your people than one of your own?" Ned asked, which drew several surprised looks from the free folk. No doubt they were expecting to have to submit to one of them, not one of their own as they already did after a fashion.

"Fuckin gods hairy balls," Magnar Thenn spat. "My ancestors would be rolling over in their graves knowin I was even thinkin about dis."

"As would mine…Thenn." GreatJon muttered, his eyes hard, a feeling that was mirrored in many of the Northern lords and lady.

"As would all of ours," Karsi stated, stepping forward. "But fuck em, they're dead and we're alive. We got our clans, our families, our people, to think about. And what comes doesn't care about makin us kneel. They only want us dead."

Her words struck a chord deep in the assembled free folk and there was a clear shift in the air. Where there was once hostility, there was now an air of resignation. "And what of the time until the Other's make their presence truly known?" Rayder questioned. "Will you order the crows to stop their ranging?"

Ned grimaced. "No Lord has the authority to order anything of the Night's Watch. They are separate from the rest of the realm on purpose. However, I will speak with Lord Commander Mormont and petition King Robert for a temporary cessation of ranging north of the Wall unless it is to seek out the Others. However, in return the North would require an end to raiding south of the Wall by your people Rayder. And any free folk or wildling that is caught south of the Wall, if outside of the group sworn to the North, will be met with hostility."

"And what of these other fancy kneelers?" Mance's wife, Dalla, asked, motioning towards Willas, Gerion, and Oberyn. "Are they just here to look pretty? Or do they have anything to say?"

Oberyn spoke up first. "There isn't much for us to say, my lady. Dorne is as far south from the Wall as you can go and still be in Westeros. What happens between your people and those of the North are not of our concern. However, these Others, if they truly do exist, are. If actual physical proof of their existence is brought to Sunspear, I, as a Prince of Dorne, can guarantee you that the spears of Dorne will be at the Wall to defend the realms of men."

"The same is true for us in the Reach," Willas stated. "We are here merely as observers. Nothing more. But I will add that Lord Stark's demands of oaths are not unreasonable, and in fact I would actually say the terms he set are most favorable towards your people compared to what you can expect to receive from any other Lord or Lady south of the Wall."

"Same as these two," Gerion nodded. "And while I cannot speak for my brother, and fucking gods know I would never want to, I vow that should proof be provided, I will and whoever I can muster will be here to fight against the Others when they come."

Rayder appeared to have been expecting the answer. "You have given us much to think about, Stark. I think now would be a—"

"Rayder! We got trouble!"

More than a few within the building started as a young woman with flaming red hair charged into the hut with two others close on her heels. The two behind the young woman both collapsed from exhaustion the moment they entered the hut, but the young woman, despite her breath being labored, only showed mild signs of exhaustion.

"Ygritte," Mance said, his fear and concern spiking. "What's going on?"

He could feel the eyes of the young woman glance around the building as she caught her breath. Interestingly, her gaze slightly paused on first Jon, then Robb, and lastly himself. And each time it did he could feel a slight touch of something emanating from her. 'Another Force sensitive…after a fashion.'

"Bones. Harma. Weeper and Crowkiller. They all be comin with what looks like half their clans."

Frowning, Nox sunk within himself and reached out with the Force. But much like in Valyria, his senses were clouded, as if he were trying to wade through a thick murky bog amid a heavy fog. But despite the resistance, he was able to find what he was looking for less than a few hours south of them. Given the sheer number and the murderous intent rolling off the horde, he was honestly surprised he hadn't sensed them before. Letting his anger rise within himself, Nox pulled deeply on the dark side of the Force, causing light miasmas of Force energy to waft off him as the temperature in the hut dropped significantly and the fire began to flutter.

"What is the meaning of this, Rayder?" Nox hissed, as more than a few amongst the free folk began reaching for their weapons while the men and women from the south did the same.

"Nox?" Ned questioned as he stood his ground in the face of Nox's wrath.

"Rayder here didn't keep his word," Nox seethed. "There is a large force of free folk approaching from the south. They'll be here before midday."

"Fucking traitorous cunts," GreatJon spat, his hand gripping his oversized greatsword.

"They are not here on my command!" Rayder shouted, obviously struggling to fight through the pressure Nox was exerting on the free folk just through his mere presence.

Pulling deeper on the Force, more than one of the free folk lost the battle of wills and began shaking and cowering behind their chieftains, each of whom were barely keeping their composure. "Explain. Quickly."

Nodding, Mance gripped his hand to keep it from shaking. "My decision to meet with all of you was…not well received amongst some of the free folk. They saw it as a sign of weakness that I would be willing to speak with you instead of just attacking the Wall head on. Several chieftains' broke faith and went their own way. I did not think they would be so bold as to try and attack us here. But apparently the chance to eliminate several chieftains of rival clans and several Lords from the south have proven to be too valuable a chance to pass upon. And if it's Crowkiller, Weeper, Harma and Bones like Ygritte has stated…then we can expect their numbers to be between ten to twenty thousand."

Ned's anger rose as he stepped towards Mance. "You should've told us that a group amongst your people broke faith before we came here. Nox… Do we have time to get everyone loaded onto the Sea Wolf before they arrive?"

Frowning, Nox sent his sight outwards once more. "There's time for two, maybe three trips to the Sea Wolf. Even if we brought the ship in closer to the shore and risk running her ashore on the rocks in the bay… We'd maybe only by another trip. At best…we'd only be able to evacuate half of everyone here before they arrived."

The unease grew as the free folk and the men and women from the south began anxiously glancing at one another. As it currently stood, they were outnumbered nearly ten to one. They had the defensive position in Hardhome, but that unfortunately meant little as the place was little more than ruins. And at best, they would only be able to evacuate perhaps a thousand to the Sea Wolf before the attack came.

"Stark," Rayder spoke up, his voice carrying heavy resignation within it. "This is a matter for the free folk and not your fight. But I would ask that you take the children we have here and at least one of our chieftains to your ship and see them safely to where the rest of our people are camped two days south of here."

All of those from south of the Wall glanced at one another. They knew what Mance was asking. Take the children and run, while those who stayed bought them time with their lives. Ned didn't say anything in response, instead he looked towards each of his bannerman, each of whom gave him a curt nod. He even looked down at Robb, Jon and Theon, each of whom nodded as well. Lastly, Ned looked at Nox. "Do you have any tricks?"

Smirking, Nox tapped at the side of his nose. "Of course."

"Will they be enough?" Ned asked, now drawing curious looks from the free folk as he continued to ignore Mance's request.

"With a little help from our new friends here, I would almost say they'd be overkill."

Nodding, Ned did something that garnered no small amount of surprise from the free folk. Drawing the small knife he kept on his person, Ned proceeded to cut the leather bindings that kept Ice in its sheath. The moment he did, Nox felt something shift in the Force. 'Interesting. This was a shatter point.'

"You're wrong Rayder," Ned said, handing the knife off to Robb who also cut the leather bindings on his sword before handing it off to Theon. "This is not a matter for the free folk. This is a matter for all of those of the North. And you and yours are part of the North. Or you will be soon enough. And if there is something that all Lords and Ladies of the North abide by it is this; we will not ask something of our bannermen and women that we are not willing to do ourselves. GreatJon, take two dozen of their strongest and start reinforcing sections of the wall to the south. It won't stop them, but it will slow them down."

"When the fuck did we start takin orders from kneelers?" Magnar Thenn growled, earning a hard look from Ned and the other men and women of the North.

"Are you well versed in siege warfare, Magnar Thenn? Or in defending a holdfast from an attack?" Ned asked, not backing down from the slightly larger man. All talking in the hut ceased as Stark and Thenn stared one another down until eventually Thenn broke the contest and shook his head. "We do, Thenn. Your people are fine fighters in the field, but defending a holdfast is nothing like fighting in an open field. Now if you want to survive this, I suggest you keep your mouth shut for now and listen to what we have to say. GreatJon, go. Now. Every moment we hesitate is a moment our enemies have to get closer to us."

There was little argument after that as Umber pushed his way out of the hut, yelling at whoever he saw that looked even the slightest bit strong to follow him to prepare the defenses. Several of the larger free folk within the hut, including Tormund and the giant Mag the Mighty left with Umber, hopefully to offer their help. Once the large men were gone, Nox held out his hand towards Rayder and waited. "The Force imbued object that you have hidden amongst your possessions, Rayder. Hand it over," he said, leaving no doubt that it was not a request, but rather a demand.

Rayder hesitated, then sighed as he turned around as he walked towards one of the only pieces of furniture in the hut, a squat table, that had a large blanket of fur covering its surface. Placing his hand on the fur, Mance hesitated. "This was our last resort. I was planning on offering it as trade to allow my people south…or at worst sound it and force our way south." Pulling off the fur, Rayder revealed a large black warhorn that was nearly the length of the table. Nox could feel the Force etched runes running along it's surface, intermixing with golden bands. "The Horn of Joramun, or the Horn of Winter as it is also known. Believed to have been used to awaken the giants from their slumber by Joramun. And perhaps the only object known to man that is believed to have the power to bring down the Wall itself."

"By the gods," Maege Mormont breathed, her eyes, as well as the eyes of everyone else in the hut fixated on the oversized warhorn. "It really does exist… This…This thing was thought to be nothing more than legend."

"Then perhaps we should start calling this the 'Age of Reborn Legends'," Oberyn remarked, his tone mostly joking but also partially serious. "The return of magic. Sightings of the Others. This Horn, which most Maesters doubt even exist. Now all we need is the return of dragons and this age will be one to rival the Age of Heroes."

Walking away from the Northern lords and past the free folk, Nox stood beside the warhorn and held his hand out. As the Head of the Pyramid of Ancient Knowledge for the Sith Empire, he'd had his experience with more than a few Force objects in his time. This warhorn, however… It did something far more than he ever would've expected. And if used in a certain manner…it could potentially be used as a very, very powerful weapon.

"Nox," Ned called out from behind him. "Is it genuine?"

Lowering his hand, Nox turned around and faced those in the hut. "I can't say as to whether this is the 'Horn of Winter' as described by your legends, but this is indeed a Force imbued object capable of bringing down the Wall if it is wielded in the right hands."

"How?" Robb asked. "The Wall is massive. How can a single horn bring it down?"

"Size means little in terms of the Force, acolyte," Nox lectured, making Robb cringe at being called out. "But to answer your question Robb, this horn uses the Force to create concentrated ultrasonic vibrations that can be focused into a particular location in order to disrupt the chemical bonds within a specific composition of mass."

Nox's explanation was met with blank looks across the entire hut. "I'm a learned man, Nox," Oberyn finally said. "But that went over even my head. Perhaps one more time so that we might all understand?"

'Right. We haven't even reached what could be considered basic chemistry that even a child knows in the Empire.' "In short, it uses sound to bring down walls…or perhaps even more than that. Give me a moment…I think I have an idea. I just need to verify that it'll work."

Turning his back on everyone, Nox once again held his hand over the horn and delved into the Force once more, trying to see if what he had planned for the horn was possible. As he did, he heard Ned address the other lords from the south who'd joined them. "Prince Oberyn. Lord Gerion. Lord Willas. I must insist that you three and your men return to the Sea Wolf."

Nox could tell the three men were sharing a glance with one another before Oberyn lifted his Valyrian spear and pulled the leather covering off the blade. "Respectfully, Stark…blow it out your arse. I haven't backed down from a fight yet, and I'm not about to start. And if the numbers you are about to face are indeed genuine, then you will need not only my spear, but every sword and spear available to you."

"My thoughts exactly, Oberyn," Gerion nodded, cutting the leather ties on his sword. "I owe a debt to the North and House Stark. And a Lannister always pays his debts."

"Unfortunately, I am not much of a fighter, Lord Stark," Willas added, his tone notably upset with himself. "But my brother, his squire, and the men of House Tyrell will stand with you as well."

"Only a fool turns down more spears before a fight, Stark," the woman Val stated. "If they are willing to fight beside us, then who are we to stop them?"

Nox could tell that Ned wanted to send the men away, mostly to preserve the alliances that were being cultivated between the North and the other kingdoms. But as Val said, who were they to send willing combatants, and skilled combatants at that, away just before they were about to go to war? "Very well," Ned conceded. "Rayder, how many noncombatants are amongst your people here in Hardhome?"

Rayder hesitated as he thought of the number. "Perhaps a few dozen at most. Almost all children save for Mother Mole and a few other elders."

"Good," Ned nodded. "Lord Willas. I'm assigning you to oversee the transporting of the noncombatants back to the Sea Wolf. If Nox is right, and he usually is, then we will have only one trip to the ship and back before the enemy is upon us. Use the time wisely. Gather every arrow, bow, sword and spear along with any capable arm able to wield them and send them back to us. As the Lady Val—"

"I ain't no 'Lady,' Stark."

"—has stated. We will need every available arm to overcome these odds." Ned pressed on, ignoring the free folk woman. "Nox. I take it you have a plan for the horn?"


Holding out his hand, Nox used the Force to set up at table amid those present, drawing no shortage of surprised gasps and near shouts as the free folk experienced the Force for the first time. Once the table was set, he then summoned several pieces of debris and placed them on the table to create a very crude map of Hardhome and the surrounding terrain. "Unfortunately, this peninsula we are on places us in a bottle neck," Nox stated, lowering his hand as he began. "Mance, given who is leading this attack, what tactics can we expect from our opposition?"

"Not much," Rayder answered. "Crowkiller, Weeper, Harma, and Rattleshirt are all capable warriors and chieftains, but they are not tactically minded as those south of the Wall understand them."

Nodding, Nox let his sight settle in on the map he'd created. "So, it's safe to assume that they will simply rush us in the belief that their numbers will be sufficient to overrun us?"

"That's a safe assessment, sorcerer."

"Good," Nox nodded. "We'll use their numbers and ignorance against them."

"Use their numbers against them?" Magnar Thenn questioned, his tone still somewhat hostile, but now there was a touch of respect in his voice. "How?"

"By causing panic amongst their ranks and letting them destroy themselves…with some help, of course." Nox smiled, pointing towards the cliff face south of Hardhome. "When the time comes, Robb will blow the Horn of Winter directed at the cliff face here. The Horn's ability will fracture the rocks and cause an avalanche which will sweep down and bury a good portion of the advancing army. Then we simply clean up any stragglers that don't get caught in the avalanche."

Everyone in the hut stared down at the laid-out map as they digested the plan he'd presented. "It's possible…but there is a problem with your plan, sorcerer," Rayder stated, pointing at various places on the map. "They have to be close to that cliff face to get caught in the rockslide. And the field south of Hardhome is barren, giving them plenty of room to maneuver away from the cliff."

"They won't have a choice but to head to the cliff," Nox stated, drawing himself up to his full height. "Because I'm going to make the alternative far, far worse."

That drew many within the hut up short. Those who'd seen what he'd done on Pyke and in Valyria clearly believed that he could do exactly what he said. But those who'd yet to see when he stretched his power, mainly the free folk, were in disbelief.

"I suppose that we will just have to trust that you can do what you say, sorcerer," Mance sighed, realizing that they didn't have much of a choice in the matter.

"Master Nox," Robb spoke up tentatively, eyes darting towards the horn. "How do…umm, why do I need to blow the horn? Can't anyone do it?"

Rocking back, Nox scratched at his beard. "In theory, yes. However, from what I've been able to gleam from a preliminary examination of the horn, having a non-Force sensitive blow the horn would be akin to a dozen battering rams beating against a stone wall. You can't be sure just where the break will occur. However, if the one to blow the horn is an individual like yourself, one who has been well trained in the Force, then it becomes a single battering ram with the strength of a dozen. And you'll be able to pinpoint a specific location to bring down instead of just bringing down a huge section and potentially burying us and our enemies."

"Oh," Robb replied eloquently as more than a few turned and looked at him, "I—"

"You'll do your duty, Robb," Ned cut in. "You're a Stark. And Starks never shy away from their duties no matter how trying or difficult they might seem to be."

Robb stood up straighter and nodded. Leaning his hands against the table, Mance took his time looking over the display. "It seems we have a plan then," he nodded before turning to address his chieftains. "Karsi, see to the evacuation of the young and old with Mother Mole. Magnar Thenn, Val. Get everyone ready."

As everyone began to disperse from the hut, Jon approached Nox. "And what about me, Master?" Jon asked him. "Where will I be?"

"Attached to your brother's and father's hips," Nox answered, turning towards his Apprentice. "Cut down anyone who tries to get close to them. Show no compassion or mercy. For there will be no time for either until the battle is done. Understand?"

Jon gave him a curt nod. His transformation from the still shy and unsure boy he'd been before they'd gone to Valyria to now was nothing short of remarkable. He was indeed proving to be an Apprentice to be proud of. "Yes, Master."

After Jon had left to help his father and brother with the horn, Nox suddenly found himself alone in the hut. Placing his fingers on the surface of the table, Nox slowly walked around the table as he sunk into the depths of the Force, his thoughts focused on the battle to come as he tried to glean any insight he could from the Force. But as he suspected, the Force was clouded by a dark fog here north of the Wall. His abilities were not diminished. But his foresight was clearly compromised. 'I knew it. Another strong entity in the Force lies here north of the Wall.' Nox concluded. He'd always suspected that the great darkness that'd been shown to him was focused on a singular being, but now he had conformation of that fact. 'The question though, is if taking the head off the serpent will be enough to destroy its followers?' Shaking his head, Nox tried to force the thoughts of whatever this dark entity was to the back of his mind. 'There will be time for this later…we have a battle to survive first.'

Making his way out of the hut, Nox scanned the village, which was quickly taking shape as the Lords and Ladies from south of the Wall barked out orders while also helping their unexpected new allies to prepare the ruined village to defend against the approaching horde. 'It's time for me to do my part as well.' Nox nodded, seeing that there was no real need for him to do the manual labor of making the walls somewhat defensible.

Finding a place near the center of the village, Nox lowered his head and began pulling deeply on the Force. His thoughts focusing on the love he held for Nyra and his lost wife Ashara. As well as his fury at the loss of his son and the loss of Ashara. He could feel the snow shift around his feet away from his body as he slightly seethed in anger and basked in love, the light and dark side of the Force battling within him, fueling him. Making him stronger than he'd ever thought possible before his fateful meeting with his first apprentice and expanding his focus beyond just the dark side of the Force.

He could feel…not quite fear, but unease from many of the free folk and even some of those from south of the Wall. Only three were brave, or foolish pending on your point of view, to approach him while he was in this state. His Apprentice, Acolyte, and their father. The latter of whom was making his way over towards Nox while Robb and Jon aided wherever they could to help prepare for the incoming attack. Ned came to just outside of arms reach of him before he stopped. Even after all the time they had spent together, Ned was still clearly uncomfortable being around him when he pulled this deeply on the Force. Not that Nox blamed him at all. He'd made even seasoned Sith warriors tremble just by being in his presence.

"If you're here looking for reassurance, Ned, don't," Nox said before Ned could ask anything. "I've told you before. The only thing certain about the future is uncertainty. And as a seasoned commander, you know that nothing in war is for certain."

"Aye, I know," Ned nodded. "I just want to know the odds."

Still pulling on the Force, Nox shrugged. "Better now that we are here. This was…a shatter point. Had we left, then those that follow Mance would've been slaughtered. And the tribes left leaderless. It would be war amongst these people as new leaders tried to assert their authority. And with the slaughter, we would lose a potential ally and our first line of defense against the darkness that is coming."

He could sense Ned's surprise. "So, you would've stayed regardless?"

"Honestly, I don't know," Nox answered truthfully. "I only recognized the shatter point for what it was after it had come to pass. But no use lamenting on what could have been. Our enemy has arrived."

As soon as the words were out of his mouth, several shouts rang out throughout the village that there were people on the horizon. A calm cold determination settled over Ned as the Quiet Wolf within him made itself known. "I know you've been holding back, Nox, even during the Greyjoy Rebellion. But now, as your friend, I ask you to stop holding back."

"Don't worry, Ned," Nox smirked, pulling out Raven's mask and fixing it to his face before raising his hand towards the sky, tendrils of dark miasma and Force lightning snaking up his arm. "It's well past time to show everyone the true power of the Force."

Gritting his teeth and pushing with everything he had, Nox sent the most powerful bolt of Force lightning he'd ever created up into the sky. He could feel the sky above them shift as the Force bent the very laws of nature to his will. Clouds began swirling and darkening as lightning arched between the clouds. With another yell, Nox brough his hand down, using the Force to bring down a storm of lightning from the sky, crashing down on the approaching army. He could feel as each bolt he brought down from the sky impacted and disintegrated the approaching wildling army. But it wasn't enough to slow the advance. Holding his hands out, Nox could feel his body begin to tremble as he pulled deeper and deeper on the Force. Winds began to blow around the village as the clouds began to turn. Tendrils of pure darkness crept down from the sky, nearly matching the speed of the lightning that was raining down on the army. Moving his arms as if he were rotating something, the dark tendrils and lightning began to twist and turn, starting first in the sky but quickly moving down to the ground. In the span of a few seconds, though to Nox it felt like hours, he'd turned the land south of Hardhome from a simple clearing to a deathtrap as the Force-nado, like the one he'd created in Valyria, began tearing the approaching army to shreds.

Alfyn Crowkiller could do little more than stare, completely dumbstruck, at the…by the gods he didn't even know what to call it. It was like a blizzard only circling in a single location. And instead of white, it was a dark color, almost black but not quite. And worse yet was the thunder and lightning that was coming from within the storm. The one's who'd been caught under the storm when it appeared out of nowhere were undoubtedly dead, even if he couldn't see their corpses. And any who tried to get even close to it were either thrown off their feet and into the sky, or they were struck by one of the bolts of lightning and reduced to a smoldering heap on the ground.

'By the gods…Mance wasn't just pushin shite. The fuckin kneelers truly do have a sorcerer amongst their kind. Fuck!'

"Crowkiller!" The Weeper called out as he came up beside him, staring up at the swirling wind and thunder with hatred and fear. "What da fuck is that?"

"I don't know," Alfyn yelled back as loudly as he could. The power of the winds and the deafening crashes of thunder made casual conversation almost impossible this close to the din. But despite all of that, he was still doing everything he could to keep his fear from showing through. He could not afford to show weakness. That was what fucked over Mance. "It has to be that fuckin sorcerer shit Mance told us the kneelers have!"

The Weeper tore his eyes away from the swirling winds. "You think a single man can do this?!"

"Fuck if I know!" Alfyn snarled. "All I know is that this works for us. The kneelers prized weapon is within our grasp. We kill the fucker. And the kneelers will be bending over themselves to let us through the Wall."

"Aye, that they will," Weeper nodded, a grin overcoming him at the prospect of killing the one capable of doing this. "But first we need to get to em."

"We head towards the cliffs," Alfyn said, motioning towards the cliff face that led up to Hardhome. "This was meant to slow us down, but we still got da numbers. We swamp Mance and these kneeler fuckers. Take their women and weapons and carve out a new home for us on the fuckin Wall after we slaughter every last crow there is."

Those that were within earshot of him all gave a war cry as Weeper nodded and started shouting out orders for everyone to move closer to the cliffs so that they could pass by this…windstorm, without getting torn a new asshole. 'Just wait, sorcerer,' Crowkiller thought, joy filling him at the prospect of running his spear through the sorcerer. 'Once I kill you…every kneeler will know my name and know to fear me.'

Jon was no stranger to the true power of the Force and what his Master could do with it. But seeing the Force storm again before his eyes that was diverting the approaching wildling army left him speechless, despite the fact he'd already seen his Master perform a similar technique during the battle in the ruins of Valyria. Hearing about what the Force was capable of was one thing, learning about it was another thing. But actually seeing what the Force was capable of in practice…that was something else entirely.

He wasn't the only one stunned by the display. Many of those that'd accompanied them from south of the Wall were all staring at the Force storm in complete shock, even though many of them had fought beside Master Nox either in Valyria or during the Greyjoy Rebellion. The wildlings, or free folk as they preferred to be called, had clearly not been ready to see what Master Nox was doing. All of them, even the chieftains, struck speechless. And going by the looks many were sending towards Master Nox, more than a few of them were on the edge of dropping to their knees and declaring his Master one of the Old Gods reborn. 'One day, Master…I will reach your level.'

"Get your thumbs out of your arses!" Jon's father yelled, startling just about everyone as Lord Stark walked amongst the ranks of Northmen, free folk, Dornish, and Reachmen that stood before the makeshift walls of Hardhome. "You'll be seeing plenty of that as the day goes by. Get in ranks! Shields to the front! Archers! Ready your arrows and let loose the moment you have a clear shot! Pick your targets and make those arrows count!"

Men and women shuffled around as those carrying any type of shield made their way to the front of the line, placing themselves between the wooden wall and everyone else. Gripping his lightsaber tightly, Jon waited, his heart beating heavily in his chest. While beside him, Robb had a death grip on the Horn of Winter, waiting for the right moment to blow the horn and hopefully bury the approaching army.

"Stark!" one of the archers atop the hut nearest to them, the same woman that'd barged in to inform them of the impending attack, shouted down gaining the attention of Jon, Robb, and their father. "They be movin towards the cliff to avoid the storm!"

Quite a few started cheering, but Jon stayed silent. As did his father and brother. Just because Master Nox had managed to divert the approaching army into position didn't mean that the battle was anywhere near over yet. "Stay steady, boys," their father said, standing between Robb and Jon. "You've both proven yourself in battle once before and are more than ready for what is to come."

"Yes, father," Jon and Robb both said together as Jon fought to keep his nerves from showing.

Above them, Jon could hear the snapping of bowstrings as the archers placed atop the huts of Hardhome began letting loose their arrows at the approaching army. 'Gods…this would be so much simpler if we actually had a way of seeing over the wall. But without battlements… We're all stuck just staring at the wooden palisade until the enemy reaches us.' "Get ready, Robb," their father said, a look of pure concentration on his face as he placed a hand on Robb's shoulder.

"Aye, father," Robb nodded, lifting one end of the horn to his lips and, with the help of two of House Stark's men, pointed the other towards the cliff face to the south.

Breathing deep, Jon closed his eyes and reached out through the Force. His senses were not nearly as finetuned as his Master's, but he'd have to be a complete novice not to be able to sense the large mass of open hostility and bloodlust that was racing towards them. "Three hundred paces," Jon said, his eyes still closed as he tried to gauge just how far away the horde was from them. "Two hundred."

"That's close enough," his father stated behind him. "Now Robb."

Behind them, Jon heard Robb take a deep breath before pressing his lips to the end of the horn. The resulting note wasn't necessarily loud, but Jon could feel the horn blow in his chest and through the Force to the point where it was almost painful. Looking around, he noticed that while everyone else seemed unnerved slightly by the horn, none were in the same type of pain as he. No. That wasn't true. He could tell that his father was more than uneased by the horn. And there was another, a wildl – no, a free folk woman, the redhaired woman, who was also clutching at her chest.

After holding the note for several long moments, Robb's need for air ended the noise as his brother backed away from the horn – and immediately collapsed as his knees gave out. "Robb!" Jon yelled, his voice carrying through the near deafening silence that had followed the ending of the horn blow.

"I'm alright. Just…that was like running around Winterfell in knee deep snow." Robb tried to say as Jon reached him. But his words were proven to be a lie as Jon tried to help him stand, only to have his legs collapse as soon as he tried to fully put his weight on them. "Did–Did it work?"

Frowning, Jon looked around, only now noticing the deadly silence that'd taken hold of the village. "I–I don't kn–"

A loud cracking noise sounded throughout the valley as every eye in Hardhome turned towards the ridge to the south. A second crack sounded, then silence. It was when a third crack, louder than the other two, sounded that something happened. And it was more than any of them expected as seemingly half the cliff face gave way, creating a landslide of rock, snow and ice that was heading directly for the approaching army. The once silent valley erupted into noise as cheers came from those within Hardhome while outside the walls cries of distress and fear rang out.

"Well done, son," their father said, patting Robb on the shoulder. "You've done your part, now it's time for you to move to the rear."

From his spot on the ground, Robb stubbornly shook his head. "No. I–I can still fight. I ca—"

"You can barely stand without support," their father finished for him. "As a Lord, especially a Warden, you are expected to lead your men from the front. But you must also realize when it is time for you to move to the rear. This son is just such an occasion. Neither your brother nor I, nor any other man of the North, will be able to focus on the battle if they are constantly worried about you. Now, go. Jon and I will handle things from here."

Robb looked like he wanted to argue further, but one hard look from their father was enough to quell whatever he had to say. "Aye, father," Robb replied sullenly as he was helped to his feet by the two Winterfell men that had been aiding him with holding the horn.

"See to it that no harm comes to my son," their father ordered of the two men before they half led, half carried Robb away from the two of them and towards the back of the village with Grey Wind following close on their heels.

With his brother now safely on his way towards the rear, Jon took a moment to harden his emotions before turning back around to face the wall. 'The battlefield is no place for mercy or honor,' he recalled his Master lecturing him on more than one occasion. 'Mercy and honor are for before and after a battle. But once blades have been drawn, one's honor and mercy will more than likely get them killed.'

The wooden wall before him shook as the attacking wildlings finally reached them. Even with the avalanche burying most of them, there was still a lot of enemies they had to fight against. Drawing his lightsaber, Jon activated the blade and held it before his face. Beside him, Ghost growled slightly as the walls shaking became more and more evident. 'The Force is with me, and I am one with the Force. The Force is with me, and I am one with the Force.'

Hearing the wall break, Jon ended his internal mantra and lowered his lightsaber into a guard. "For the North and all her people!" his father bellowed as several spots in the wall gave way and wildlings started pouring through.

The battle hadn't even truly started and yet Alfyn knew that they were seriously fucked. The windstorm that shot lightning powerful enough to obliterate his clan was one thing. But now with that wretched horn being blown and bringing down part of the cliff face that they were being forced towards, his clan and those that'd allied with him were all starting to scatter. "Hold da line, you fuckers!" he heard Weeper shouting, trying to get some sort of order back into those nearest to him as everyone started panicking.

'A fool's errand, Weeper,' Crowkiller seethed as he could do little more than watch as his clan and their allies trampled over one another as they tried to get away from the cliff side. Unfortunately, they only had two directions to go. Forward towards Hardhome, or back where they came from. 'And going back is not an option,' he cursed, watching the landslide getting closer and closer to the middle of his army. Fortunately, he was far enough in the front to avoid the landslide, but the same could not be said for most of his army. Some foolishly tried running towards the windstorm, whether to avoid the landslide or because they were being pushed, he didn't know. All he knew was that was a death wish as those who even got close ended up becoming nothing more than ash in the wind the moment one of the lightning bolts struck them. 'This was exactly what they wanted!' he realized with anger. 'That sorcerer fuck pushed us towards the cliffs…and they musta used the fucking Horn of Winter to bring it down on our fuckin heads! Mance…you fuckin cunt! I knew you would bring about the ruin of the free folk!'

"Push forward!" He yelled, throwing a few of his clansmen forward. "We push forward and kill the sorcerer fucker! The so-called Wolves of the North and the traitor Mance!"

'I'm going to fuckin kill you Mance!' Alfyn seethed as he was helpless to do anything but watch as the rear of his army was swallowed by snow, ice and stone. 'I'm going to shove my spear up your arse and pull it out your lying fuckin mouth!'

Gripping the hilt of Ice tightly, Ned watched carefully as small gaps started forming between the wooden logs that made up the walls of Hardhome as the wildling's outside used whatever means they could to try and create a breach. "Shields forward!" Ned yelled, as the trained men of the North got into position, forming a makeshift shield wall between the wall and the rest of them. "Archers! Nock arrows! Loose as soon as you have a shot! Make your arrows count!"

He knew that this was not going to be an easy battle, not that any battle ever was. Even with half of the attacking force being decimated by the avalanche, they were still outnumbered at least two or perhaps three to one at best. And on top of being outnumbered, two of their three Force users were currently out of the fight for the time being. Nox was too busy controlling the storm he'd created outside the walls. And his son Robb had to be forcibly taken to the rear after nearly passing out due to blowing on the Horn of Winter. They still had Jon, and granted his son was indeed proving to be a great warrior and a man that would make any father proud, but he was still just one man.

Bow strings started snapping as arrows flew, almost all managing to find their way through the small gaps being created and spearing into whoever was unfortunate to be directly on the other side of the opening. 'Even with using mostly stone arrowheads and poorly crafted arrows, the skill of the wil – free folk is indeed impressive.'

But no matter how good their aim, arrows alone couldn't hold back the approaching army as entire sections of the wall began falling inwards, providing a path for the attacking wildlings. "Shields advance!" Ned shouted as the shield line locked their shields tightly together and braced for the first few wildlings that managed to get through the wall. "Spears and sword at the ready! Cut these bastards down!"

The first line of wildlings reached them and collided with the shield wall. But fortunately for them, the wildlings were more brawlers and raiders and had little experience in modern warfare. Instead of trying to find holes in the shield wall or trying to simply circumvent it, they charged head long into it hoping their brute strength and numbers would carry the day. They quickly learned their error though as the first charge bounced off the shields and fell to the ground. Those carrying spears and swords that were behind the shields immediately set upon them, using quick openings in the shield wall to make the kill before pulling back so that the wall could reform.

But while the shield wall was a powerful defensive formation, it wasn't infallible. It could be overwhelmed if the enemy had the numbers to do so. And that was exactly what was happening as more and more of the wildlings poured through the openings being created in the wall. Beside him, Winter growled as he watched the men that made up the shield wall break formation as the pure chaos of battle settled over Hardhome. 'This is the part of battle I hate the most,' Ned thought with a growl as he brought Ice down on the nearest wildling, the valyrian steel cutting through the man's fur and flesh easily. 'You can set your formations and plan your strategies. But quickly enough, all battles will descend into this chaos where strategy and tactics mean nothing, and the tide of battle relies on strength and skill alone.'

Sensing something wrong, Ned tilted his body backwards just in time to avoid a spear thrust. His left hand snapping out, Ned grabbed hold of the shaft of the spear to hold the attacker in place before bringing Ice up, severing the spear shaft in two. Tossing the stone tipped end of the spear away, Ned gave his attacker, a woman, a pitying glance before bringing Ice down onto her neck, removing her head from her shoulders. The fact that he'd just killed a woman did not necessarily sit well with him, but in this case, he agreed with Nox. During the thick of battle mercy and even honor to a degree usually served to get one killed.

Taking his eyes off the now headless woman, Ned quickly passed a critical eye over the chaos. Their line was holding on by a thread. And the only reason why it was even holding at all was because of the clearly superior skill of those that they were fighting alongside. The clan leaders Mance had introduced were all proving why they'd been chosen to lead their clans as they fought with a veracity of seasoned warriors. And Mance was proving why he'd earned the title of King-Beyond-the-Wall as he cut a bloody path through the attacking wildlings without hesitation. Even the women clan chiefs, Val and Karsi, were fighting with a skill that could make any Master-at-arms proud. The Lords of the North were cutting down the attacking wildlings left and right. The men of the Reach were also holding their own, their shining armor making them stand out almost like lighthouse amongst all the fur and leather around them. Further down he spotted those from Dorne being led by Prince Oberyn, and while Ned might still not entirely agree with the character of the eccentric Prince of Dorne, there was no doubting his skill with a weapon, especially when one saw the dead piling up around him. But perhaps the largest, both figuratively and literally, reason their line was holding was the single giant, Mag, that was fighting alongside them. Even the tallest of men only came up to his knee. And with each swipe of his club, which was the size of a tree trunk, the giant was able to incapacitate or kill at least five at a time.

Sensing another disturbance, Ned turned without looking and raised Ice so that it was shoulder height and perfectly perpendicular to the rest of his body. His arm jolted, and he knew without even having to look back that a wildling had impaled himself on the end of Ice. Wrenching his family's sword free, Ned kicked back like a horse to send the dying man to the ground and putting him permanently out of the fight.

Hearing the tell-tale sound of quenched steel and humming, Ned turned his head just enough to spot Jon in the thick of the fighting. If it were up to him, he would never have his sons having to experience the field of battle. But he knew that was simply not a possibility. Not in the world they lived in. But despite his misgivings about having his son on the field, Jon was more than proving his worth as he fought with a skill that could even give the legendary Ser Arthur Dayne pause. And when combined with his lightsaber, a weapon that literally did not belong on this world, Jon was a force of nature near on par with Nox.

Snapping Ice off to the side to flick the blood off the blade, Ned recentered himself as he forced his attention off his son and back onto the chaos before him. 'Jon can handle himself. Robb is safe at the rear for now. And the best way to keep both my sons safe is to end this battle quickly. So, come, Winter… Let us end this. For our sons' sakes.' Beside him, Winter let out a howl, one that was echoed by Grey Wind further back before the two of them rushed back into the thick of the fighting, steel and fangs cutting down everyone that dared get in their way.

GreatJon Umber was a man who, like all true Northmen, loved a good fight. He'd been making corpses of men since the time his balls had dropped. Most of his fights were spent hunting down random wildling raiders who dared to trespass on his lands. A challenge to be sure, but there was little fun to be had in just hunting down small pacts of raiders. Then the rapist dragon fuck and his mad father stole away the She-Wolf of Winterfell and brutally executed Lord Rickard Stark and his future liege Lord Brandon Stark. Needless to say, by the time the raven had reached him that Eddard Stark had claimed the title of Lord of Winterfell and was calling the banners to war, Umber had already had his men marching south.

The exhilaration of a pitched battle was nothing like just hunting down raiders. Fighting side by side with his fellow Northmen to get revenge on the rapist dragon who dared insult the old Kings of Winter…there were no words to describe the feeling. But once the dragons were dead or fleeing, the war was ended, and he was back to hunting the odd raider, bandit, or deserter from the Night's Watch. But then the Greyjoys decided to be utter idiots and declared war on the Seven Kingdoms, and he was once again called to fight. A call he answered eagerly. But the war was practically over before it could even begin as Nox made the squids look like complete jokes as the man singlehandedly laid siege to Pyke and captured the three Greyjoy brothers with hardly even breaking a sweat.

But right now, all those battles paled in comparison to the sheer pleasure he was feeling in finally facing these wildling cunts in a true battle. To him, there was nothing better than gutting these wildlings. Especially after what they did to his lady cousin by the way of his Uncle Mors, abducting her at night, subjecting her to gods only knew what, and leaving her final fate unknown to his family.

When Ned had first revealed his plan to speak with the King-Beyond-the-Wall, Jon had just about been ready to break faith with his liege and storm out of his hall. But Eddard, and the Sorcerer, had earned Jon's respect. Ned may have been raised mostly in the Vale and fuck only knows where the Sorcerer hailed from. But neither fact matter to Jon. Both men had proven themselves true men of the North through blood and deed. He still didn't know if he fully believed Ned's and Nox's tale about the White Walkers returning, and gods knew that part of him didn't want it to be true. How did one fight against death itself? But if—if!—Ned and Nox were telling the truth… Then he supposed that it would be for the best if the fucking wildlings were on their side instead of dead and fighting against them. But to achieve that, they first needed to kill the wildlings who'd broken from their King-Beyond-the-Wall. An act that he was all too eager to comply with.

Swinging his greatsword around him in a wide arc, Jon smiled as he felt the blade sink into the flesh of a wildling who'd tried to charge right at him. The idiot's warm blood hitting his face was almost as welcome as a warm cup of mead after being out in the cold. "Come on! You fucking cunts!" Jon yelled, swinging his sword, breaking clean through the spear shaft of another wildling and taking the man's head off in a single stroke. "I! AM! JON UMBER!" he screamed, cutting down yet another wildling. "AND I DARE ANY OF YOU FUCKERS TO CROSS BLADES WITH ME!"


Jerking his sword free of a wildling's gut, Umber whipped around and glared, trying to find the one who challenged him. It didn't take him long. Standing just within the breech in the wooden wall was a small wildling, at least small next to Jon, wearing bones as if they were some sort of armor and a large skull as a helmet. The sword in his hand was old and rusting from improper care, but he could tell the jagged edge had recently been sharpened to an almost adequate level. Umber didn't need to be the most intelligent man to know exactly who this wildling was. He'd kept abreast of the wildlings of note ever since the disappearance of his cousin. "Lord of Bones," Jon grinned, his hold on his greatsword tightening as his heart began beating like thunder in his chest. "Perfect!"

Pushing his way through the chaos of the battle, Jon raised his sword and swiped down at the infamous wildling chieftain. But the little shit proved more capable then the few he'd slaughtered so far. Before Jon could render his flesh, the wildling quickly sidestepped and counterattacked, forcing Jon to abandon his own attack and sidestep lest the wildling catch his sword arm. Gritting his teeth, Jon held his sword in his two meaty hands and squared off against the wildling, who seemed content to just stand and wait. 'Fucker fights by using his speed to counter his opponents. I hate these kinds of fighters…so annoying!' Jon growled, realizing the Lord of Bones endgame as the two stared at one another while the battle raged around them. 'Fuck it! Never was one for waiting.'

Roaring, Jon swung his sword in an overhead strike, aiming to cleave the man in half. But Bones dodge the attack and quickly slashed at his face. The strike was fast, but Jon had fought faster during the wars and was able lean his head back enough to dodge the blow. 'Gotcha.' Jon grinned, kicking out with his foot and catching the wildlings chief in the chest, which sent the bastard stumbling backwards and onto his ass. 'Dead now, fucker!'

But the little shit proved nimbler than Jon had anticipated, as he managed to quickly roll out of Jon's killing thrust and quickly getting to his feet, making it so that Jon buried his sword into the ground rather than his chest. The bastard then grabbed one of his own men and threw him towards Jon. Letting go of his sword, Jon simply grabbed the new screaming wildling by the throat with both hands and squeezed until he felt the man's neck snap beneath his fingers.

Dropping the freshly made corpse, Jon quickly looked around, trying to find his prey. He hadn't made it far, less than halfway back towards the breach in the wall. But he was currently locking blades with another wildling. This one he recognized as perhaps the only individual he had ever met who could match him in terms of sheer size outside of his son or that son of a bitch Mountain. "Giantsbane!" Jon roared, yanking his sword free and charging at the two. "He's mine!"

Not wanting to lose the chance to gut the son of a bitch himself, Jon charged head long through the crowd, uncaring of whether he was knocking over those who were standing with him or against him. Reaching the two, he swung his greatsword down between the two, forcing them apart before putting himself in front of Giantsbane.

"Back the fuck off Giantsbane," Jon growled, holding his sword up in a mid-guard as he squared off against the Lord of Bones once again.

"No," Giantsbane growled, shouldering his way next to him. "You back the fuck off! This fucker has had this coming for a long time!"

Gritting his teeth, and forcibly reminding himself that he was not to kill the wildlings who were siding with them on his liege's orders, Jon risked at glance at Giantsbane out of the corner of his eye. "Then you better kill the fucker before I do."

Lunging forward, Jon brought his sword around just as Giantsbane brought his own blade down from the opposite direction. The Lord of Bones, clearly realizing he had no chance against the two of them, started scrambling backwards as he tried to put anything or anyone between himself and them. "No, you don't!" Jon growled just as the infamous wilding reached the breach.

While the Lord of Bones was distracted with Giantsbane, Jon cut low, catching Bones on the back of the leg and hamstringing him. The wildling let out a cry of pain as his leg gave out. Giantsbane quickly capitalized on the opening and stabbed his sword through the man's chest, the edge easily slipping through the bones covering the wildling's chest. Not to be outdone by a wildling, Jon brought his sword back around and with one clean stroke removed the Lord of Bones' head from his shoulders. Breathing heavily, Jon looked from the severed head to Giantsbane. "That one counts as my kill!"

Giantsbane didn't answer immediately as he instead spat on the corpse. "If ya need the kill to up yer numbers…he's yours."

Growling, Jon pivoted and cut down another wildling who'd been trying to sneak up behind him to run him through the back. "I've killed one-and-ten of your friends so far, Giantsbane."

"Not my friends," the large wildling shot back as he cut down a woman by the sound she made. "And yer behind. That's four-and-ten for me."

"What?" Jon roared, feeling a new surge of anger flow through him as he cut down two more in one stroke. "I'm not about to be outdone by a fucking wildling! Twelve! Come on, you savage fucks! Come and meet the gods at the edge of my blade!"

Pulling his sword free from the gut of a wildling, Garlan used his shield to bash the dying man away from his person as he readied himself for whoever charged him next. He'd been expecting something to go wrong this day, he'd felt it in his gut when he'd woke this morning. And unfortunately, he'd been proven correct as his brother returned to the Northern dreadnaught with literal boatloads of children and elderly. The fact that his brother was returning to the ship with apparent wildling children and elderly instead of any of the other Lords or Ladies that went ashore caused no small amount of confusion. But once his brother was pulled aboard, he quickly explained the situation.

The talks with the wildings—er, free folk—was going well. However, during their talks a runner had appeared and brought news that a group of wildings that'd splintered off from the supposed 'King-Beyond-the-Wall' were marching on Hardhome with the intent on killing everyone there. Lord Stark, along with his sons, bannermen as well as the few from Dorne and the Westerlands, despite being outnumber perhaps ten to one, had all decided to stay behind and fight alongside their soon to be allies. He could tell his brother was hesitant to ask him to join with those that'd stayed behind, but he didn't have to. His brother hadn't even been able to finish his explanation of what was going on before he'd already ordered Dickon to fetch their armor and swords.

"Die, kneeler cunt!"

Acting on reflex, Garlan just barely managed to tilt his head back far enough to avoid the club that'd been aimed at his head. While he would never even think about entering a battle without his helmet, he could admit that the damn visor over his face was obscuring his vision more than a little. If it hadn't been for the wildling crying out their intent, he would've never even seen the attack until he'd been hit upside the head.

Slashing across his body, Garlan just barely missed the wildling that'd tried to take his head off. But as he readied his shield and sword to face this new adversary, he found himself hesitating. Standing before him wasn't some oversized hairy barbarian wielding a stone club. No. Standing before him was a squat thick boned woman. It took every ounce of self-control he had not to lower his shield. A woman on the field of battle just… It wasn't supposed to happen. To be sure, there were a few women here and there that would take up arms during wartime, but this one looked to be some sort of leader amongst the wildlings given her better state of dress. And from the way she held her club in one hand and a dagger in the other, he could tell that she was no stranger to the weapons. As much as he wanted to take it easy on her because she was a woman, he knew that he couldn't. The rather painful lesson he'd learned from the woman Osha in Winterfell demanded that he keep his guard up no matter whether his opponent is a man or a woman.

Crying out, the woman started lashing out wildly at him, her strikes seemingly without reason other than trying to overwhelm him in a flurry of movement. And if she were going against a less skilled opponent, her technique would probably work. But against himself, while he was wielding a shield and sword, her attacks were next to ineffective. He was able to easily either evade or block her dagger with his sword, and his shield was more than thick enough to take the brunt of her club strikes without issue.

The woman, while skilled, was clearly not used to fighting opponents more skilled than herself as desperation and anger started showing in her strikes as she became wilder and wilder with each hit, he was able to block or evade. Her anger soon got the better of her, and she overextended with her club, giving him the perfect opportunity to catch the underside of her right arm with his sword, cutting clean through fur and muscle but not deep enough to sever the arm completely. Her right arm, now useless, dropped the club and fell uselessly to her side. And before she could recover, he pivoted and brought his shield around with as much strength as he could muster, catching her full in the chest with the edge of the shield, knocking her to the ground.

Rushing forward, he placed the point of his sword at her throat. There was fear in her eyes as she stared up at him. Fear that made him hesitate to finish her. 'Gods damnit!' he cursed, his arm unwilling to move just a few inches to end her life. "You're beaten, woman… For your sake, stay down."

Removing his sword from her throat, he made to find a new enemy when he felt something hard hit him in the back of the knee. The weight of his armor betrayed him as his leg folded in on itself and brought him down to his back. Dirt and darkness clouded his vision for a moment before his visor was roughly pulled away from his face. Sitting on his chest was the same woman he'd just knocked down, a feral grin on her face as her bloodied right hand was holding onto his helmet while her left had a dagger raised and pointed towards his face.

"Dumb, kneeler cunt," the woman smirked.

'Shit…This…This can't be how I meet the gods!' he wailed in his head as he reflexively tried to bring his hands up to defend himself. But given her position upon his body, they were pinned to the ground.

Her arm moved, but never reached him. Instead of lurching forward, the woman lurched backwards, her head snapping back. Blinking, he saw another wildling woman standing behind the one that'd downed him, her fist full of his adversary's hair. Without a word spoken, the new wildling woman brought what looked like a small hand scythe across the first wildling woman's neck. The woman's blood flowed freely, spraying everything in front of her, which unfortunately included Garlan who suddenly found himself having to close his eyes and turn his head lest he get the woman's blood in his eyes and mouth.

Hearing the woman's lifeless body hit the ground next to him, Garlan turned back to the one who'd saved him. She had moved her hand scythe to her left hand and was holding out her right to help him up. 'I fucked up,' he realized, taking the offered hand and getting back to his feet while quickly collecting his sword and shield.

"That was Harma, kneeler," the wildling woman said once he was back on his feet, a dagger and scythe in each of her hands as she calmly slit the throat of another wildling. "Why the fuck didn't ya kill her when you had her on the ground? Hopin to steal her or something?"

He didn't really understand what she meant about 'stealing her', he vaguely remembered the woman Osha saying something similar, but he hadn't bothered to inquire what she'd meant when saying it. "Because I was a fool." he replied honestly, immediately settling into the rhythm of battle once more as he caught a wildling in the chest with his shield before bringing his sword down into the man's neck.

Finding himself back-to-back with the wildling that saved him, Garlan looked around, his visibility much increased now that he was without his helmet. "Ya didn't hesitate to kill any of the others, but ya did with her. Why? Cause she had a cunt? I heard you southern kneelers often have trouble fightin a woman."

Gritting his teeth, Garlan forced the woman to move as he blocked a club with his shield that'd been heading towards her. The wildling woman didn't miss a beat as she daftly maneuvered around his shield and managed to get her dagger into the attacking wildling's heart. "Women don't fight in the Reach."

The woman scoffed. "We ain't in your fancy Reach kneeler. This be the True North. We women are just as strong as our men."

"I've notice that," he shot back, as the two went back-to-back once more. "And my name is Garlan Tyrell. Not kneeler."

"Karsi." The woman responded. "Ya got a woman of your own, Garlan?"

Blinking, Garlan had to fight the urge to baulk at the question. "This doesn't seem like the time to ask that!"

"Just asking, Garlan," Karsi responded. "Take it by yer tone ya don't. Good. You're not bad lookin and you're skilled with a blade. Might just be lookin to steal ya when this is all over and give my son and daughter a new sibling."

This time he couldn't help but freezing slightly. "Did you just…proposition me?"

"Not sure what that means, Garlan," Karsi shrugged as they protected each other's backs. "Just sayin, don't be makin yerself unavailable once the fightin be done. Nothing better than a good fuck after a fight after all."

'By the gods...' Garlan sighed, feeling more than a little mystified, stupefied, and shamefully interested. 'Just what sort of people are these wildlings?'

Grinning, Oberyn quickly thrust his spear forward, impaling a wildling through the heart before retracting as quickly as his viper namesake and moving on to his next opponent. While he knew that his love would not agree with him, this was by far the most fun he'd had since arriving in the North. Conquering a new woman or man, be they a whore or not, was an enjoyable past time. But to Oberyn, nothing beat the thrill of a good fight. And this was indeed a fight unlike any he'd experienced since he last sided with Nox in Valyria. 'Perhaps I need to increase my efforts to entice Nox and Nyra into moving to Dorne on a permanent basis,' Oberyn thought with a smirk as he parried a sloppy thrust of a spear before retaliating with a killing strike to his attacker's neck. 'Or perhaps see if I can extend my stay here in the North past whenever Arianne succeeds in her goal. Exploring and fighting in Valyria had been an exhilarating experience. And now a small war… Fun certainly does seem to follow Nox around. And I'm confident that with enough gentle prodding, Ellaria and I will eventually get Nox and Nyra into bed with us. I may never get to personally experience either…but just having them in the same room and participating in the fun would be more than enough.'

Hearing an all too familiar feminine scream, Oberyn turned on a coin, his eyes searching almost frantically for the source of the scream as a new, unfamiliar fear settled into his chest. Laying on her back just a short distance from himself was his daughter Obara, her sword-spear out of her reach and standing above her with a large scythe raised to the sky was a thickly built balding man with blond locks of hair running down the length of this back.

Feet digging into the mud and blood, Oberyn raced as fast as his legs could carry him, his spear reaching as far as possible to try and get between his daughter and the descending scythe. Wood knocked against wood as Oberyn just barely managed to get his spear in the path of the scythe, the tip of the blade less than a hands width from his daughter's face. Using his momentum, Oberyn turned his spear downwards, digging the tip into the ground and using it to vault himself forward. While in the air, his hands still on the shaft of his spear, he kicked out and caught the confused wildling in the face with the bottom of his foot. The moment his feet touched the ground, Oberyn spun in place, his spear kicking up a wave of bloody mud up into the face of the now dazed and confused wildling.

"Are you alright, daughter?" he asked, his spear and eyes trained on the quickly recovering wildling.

"I'm fine, father," Obara grunted from behind him as she scrambled to retrieve her weapon and regain her footing. "He caught me by surprise, that's all."

"He's mine, Obara. Go find another prey to play with." Not waiting to hear his daughter's response, Oberyn slowly twirled his valyrian spear around as he approached the now fully recovered wildling. "Do you know who I am, wildling?"

The wildling spat out a wad of blood and mud as he readied his scythe. "Some dead man."

The wildling was quick, and strong, but he lacked finesse. Which was why it was almost comically easy for Oberyn to predict exactly where the man would strike. He didn't even really need to use his spear, just his footwork was more than enough to avoid the wildling's initial onslaught of attacks. Quickly growing bored of just evading, Oberyn waited until he saw an opening and quickly thrust the tip of his spear into the man's leg on his inner thigh. It was barely a flesh wound and nowhere near any vital veins, but it would still give the man a painful limp and slow him down.

"My name," Oberyn said, drawing back and lazily smiling at the wildling while all around them the fighting had come to something of a standstill as both sides began watching the spectacle. "Is Oberyn Martell. And that woman you almost killed is my daughter, Obara. Now, as is only polite, I would know the name of the wildling I'm about to kill."

Clutching at his leg, the wildling glared at him. "I be the Weeper, kneeler. And that bitch there is yer daughter, eh? A fine set of tits and good hips… After I kill you, I'm gonna claim her over your rotting corpse. After I've gotten a few whelps out of her, I'll cut her good and leave her to bleed as a snack for the creatures of the forest."

Oberyn's hand stilled. A rage unlike any he'd ever experience save for the day he learned of his sister's demise came over him and nearly made him shake in place. Rotating his spear, Oberyn drove the point into the ground and reached for one of the finger sized glass vials he kept hidden on his back attached to his belt.

"Foolish, Weeper," he said through gritted teeth as he touched upon the vial he was looking for. "I was planning on making your end quick…but now I won't. I'm going to hurt you now. More than you ever thought possible. And soon, you will be begging me to end your life. And do you know what I'll do? Nothing. I'm just going to stay here and watch you slowly suffer to death."

"You have to kill me first, kneeler!" Weeper shouted, raising his scythe, and charging headlong at him. "I'm going to eat your fucking heart out of your chest!"

Letting go of his spear, Oberyn waited patiently as the oversized brute screamed and charged him. At the last moment, Oberyn stepped forward, avoiding the scythe, and putting him almost chest to chest with the wildling. Before the man could reposition himself, Oberyn lashed out with his fist towards his open mouth, shoving the glass vial into the open orifice. "Eat this, you fuck," he commented dryly before catching the Weepers chin with his left hand, breaking the glass vial open in the man's mouth.

The effect was almost immediate as the wildling's head cocked to the side as blood and spit flew from his mouth. Or at least tried too. What came out was a small splattering as the man's jaw remained shut while his body went completely rigid and fell to the ground. "It's a rather interesting concoction that I made myself," Oberyn explained, uncaring of the battle raging around him as he retrieved his spear. "The primary poison within is obtained from a fish known as a puffer fish. It's quite the nasty poison as it completely paralyzes the body yet makes it so that you still feel pain." Lowering the tip of his spear towards the man's inner thigh, Oberyn only had to exert the smallest amount of pressure of the valyrian steel to slice clean through the fur and leather and into the man's sensitive parts. "I also added some manticore venom and the venom from an adder snake which, while not lethal by itself, is incredibly painful as I'm sure you're realizing now. Truthfully, I haven't truly tested this as I intended this concoction to be a surprise for one far larger than yourself…but I suppose that you are working as a good test subject for now."

On the ground, the wildling's eyes were watering, his pupils wide as his body shook ever so slightly from the undoubtedly insurmountable pain he was suffering. His gurgled moans of agony being muffled by his blood and forcibly closed jaw was almost music to his ears. "I could end this now," Oberyn remarked, withdrawing his spear from the man's thigh, and placing it over his heart. "But…you threatened to rape my daughter, use her as a prize broodmare then leave her for animal feed once she'd served the purpose you had planned for her. So, I'm not going to end this right now. Instead, I'm just going to let you die from the pain racing through your body as you choke to death on your own blood."

Turning his back on the soon to be dead man, Oberyn passed a critical eye over all of those who'd been watching. The wildlings, on both sides of the battle, had ceased their fighting in the immediate area and instead were all staring at him. Some with respect, others in fear as they watched one of the leaders slowly die on the ground next to him.

"Well," Oberyn smirked, twirling his spear around and readying himself. "Who's next?"

No one approached him as the wildlings began casting looks between each other. Then one of the attacking wildlings, a woman that could be pretty if she'd properly bathe and taken care of the rat's nest atop her head, stepped forward and raised her spear. But instead of attacking him, she opened her hand at let the spear drop to the ground. Her action was quickly followed by the other attacking wildlings as one by one they began throwing down their weapons.

"Wise choice," Oberyn smirked as he raised his own spear, blade pointing towards the sky. "A boring choice, but a wise choice nonetheless."

Pivoting on his right foot, Jon evaded a spear lunge as he brought his lightsaber around, ending the life of the attacker that'd tried to run him through. Breathing hard and trying not to stare too long at the now headless wildling, Jon brought his attention back around to where he knew his father was fighting. His father was standing just a few short paces away from him, Ice and Winter moving around his person so quickly they were almost a blur as his father and the direwolf brought down one wildling after another seemingly without ever breaking stride.

Outside of the small skirmish between Winterfell and White Harbor, which he was almost too late to even participate in, Jon had never truly seen his father fight in a battle. And now that he had, he understood just why his father had earned his moniker, the 'Quiet Wolf'. His father didn't boast or yell or taunt. He just…fought. He was methodical. Each move made with purpose and with little to no 'flare', as Prince Oberyn like to describe his fanciful movements he performed while he fought. A small whine by his left brought attention to the fact that Ghost was watching the duo fight as well.

"I know, boy," Jon said, admiring the way his father and Winter fought in almost perfect harmony with each other. "We'll be at their level soon enough."

Feeling a pull from the Force almost powerful enough to knock him off his feet, Jon whipped around and tried to find where the sensation came from. The feeling was urgent. He wasn't in danger, but…he needed to do something. Fast. Rushing through the chaos of the battle with Ghost on his heels, he used his lightsaber to clear a path as he tried to find where the feeling had originated from. Hearing a scream, accompanied by another pull from the Force, Jon tore away from the thick of the battle and went towards one of the ruined huts. On the opposite side of the hut, away from the thick of the battle, he found a pair of wildlings, one on her back, a bow held between her hands. And the second standing above her, his axe pressing against her bow as the edge slowly lowered towards her face.

Acting on instinct rather than rational thought, Jon sheathed his lightsaber and reached out through the Force and grabbed hold of the woman before roughly pulling her to the side, away from the man and towards himself. The attacking man lurched forward, and the woman let out a cry of surprise as she was suddenly flying directly towards him. In his haste to get her away from the man, he hadn't really thought of just how to stop her. Within a breath, she'd flown across the distance separating them, and Jon was left with no other option than to open his arms and catch her.

The impact knocked the air out of his lungs slightly as the two collided, her momentum carrying the two of them around in a circle as if they were in a dance rather than amid a life-or-death battle. Finally catching himself enough to stop them from falling, Jon got a look at the woman he'd saved. The first thing he saw was an unruly mop of flame-red hair and underneath was a set of blue-grey eyes that were staring up at him in shock. With a start, he realized that he recognized this woman as the free folk girl that'd brought news of the impending attack on Hardhome.

But before he could ask if she was alright, her eyes went wide. Feeling a warning from the Force, Jon turned while still holding onto her midsection with his left arm, his right grabbing hold of his lightsaber and bringing the blade to life. The tip of blade cut easily through the chest of the wildling with an axe, the same that'd been trying to end the free folk woman in his arm's life. The man blinked confusedly, the axe dropping from his hand as he fell to the ground dead.

Feeling the free folk woman shift in his arms, Jon loosened his grip to let her free, and found her with a bow in hand, an arrow pointing right at his face. The strange thing was, even though he was staring at the stone tipped arrow less than a hand from his face, he didn't feel any danger from the Force. The woman's lips quirked up as she shifted, the arrow moving out of his face before being let loose and flying past his ear. A grunt came from directly behind him, and as Jon turned his head to see what she'd hit, he found a second wildling man standing a pace or two behind him. Her arrow sticking out from his eye.

Grabbing her by her shoulder, Jon pushed himself past her, his lightsaber moving without thought as he cut down yet another wildling that he hadn't even realized was sneaking up behind her. Behind him, he could feel the wildling woman notch another arrow and let it loose. He didn't know how he knew, but he knew without a doubt that her arrow had found its mark.

Jon had no idea just how long the two of them stood back-to-back, circling around each other. Anyone that got close to them quickly met their end by Jon's blade, while the girl let loose arrow after arrow, each one taking down a wildling that was outside of his reach. It was…the strangest fight Jon had ever been in. He didn't know how, but somehow, he just…knew how the girl was going to move, where she was going to aim and where she would be. And for her part, she seemed to know just as much about him as she was able to perfectly stay out of his way, allowing him complete freedom of movement even though they were practically touching one another the entire time.

Cutting down one more wildling, Jon pressed his back up against the girl and waited for the next. Only to find to his surprise that they were alone between the buildings, surrounded by numerous dead bodies that'd either met their end at his blade or from her arrows.

Sheathing his blade with a hiss, Jon turned to the girl. She was staring up at him, her blue-grey eyes narrow and filled with something that he couldn't place. But what he sensed from her was…pure fire. That was the only thing he could think to call it. And it seemed to match perfectly with the look in her eyes.

"Well?" she said, knocking him out of his trance. "They're all dead…and we got a warm room just over there. Ye gonna finish what ye started? Or do I need to show ya the way?"

He was going to ask her what she meant, but a shift in the Force killed the question before he could ask it. Looking to the sky, Jon's brow furrowed as he noticed the Force-storm his Master had created slowing down until it started to dissipate before disappearing completely. 'Is…Is it over?' was the only thought that went through his mind as Jon pushed past the free folk girl and ran back towards where he'd been.

Arriving back at the wall, Jon was greeted with the sight of dozens of wildlings throwing down their weapons. And it wasn't a great mystery as to just why they were doing so. The wooden wall, despite being mostly destroyed by this point, was covered in the blood of the wildlings that'd attacked them. The ground was soaked and the once white snow that'd gently covered the ground now stained red with blood. And standing at the forefront of it all, with his mask in place and his lightsaber drawn, was Jon's Master, Lord Nox. And flanking him on either side were Jon's father and Mance Rayder. The wildling's that just a few moments ago been out for their blood, were now dropping their weapons as if they were on fire and backing away in a show of submission.

"Sorcerer! Stand and face me!" All eyes turned towards the one who'd yelled. A lone wildling, who'd yet to drop his spear, was making his way through those who'd surrounded them, his eyes fixated on Lord Nox as he walked.

"I am Alfyn Crowkiller!" the wildling named himself, drawing a number of surprised shouts from the Northmen who knew of the infamous wildling who'd made a name for himself by hunting down Brothers of the Night's Watch. "And I challenge you, sorcerer! Stand and fight! Or be known as the coward yer are!"

Lord Nox's mask made it impossible to see any facial expression, but Jon could feel annoyance seeping from his Master. "It's been too long of a day to trade insults with a pathetic worm like yourself." his voice wasn't loud, but it carried throughout the battlefield as if he'd been shouting at the top of his lungs. "You have a death wish…? Then so be it. Come at me, and I will send you to whatever gods you wish."

Lowering his spear and grabbing it with both hands, the infamous wildling raced forward, clearly intent on running Lord Nox through before he could move. Jon didn't need to watch to know what was about to happen, as he'd seen more than a few make the same mistake when facing off against his Master. And, true to form, his Master didn't even bother using his lightsaber. He just raised his hand as small arcs of lightning danced between his fingers. Then there was a flash, and the lightning flew from his fingers and struck Crowkiller in the chest. The infamous wildling took two more steps before coming to a stop. His head tilted downwards towards his chest. In the center of his chest, right over where his heart should've been, there was now a smoldering hole the size of a man's fist that went clean through. Crowkiller managed to lift his head one more time and give Master Nox one last glare before he crumbled to the ground.

The battle of Hardhome was officially over. And they had carried the day against seemingly insurmountable odds.