Okay so this is my rewrite of Gamer's Grimoire. I was so moved by the positivity from last chapter. Aside from a few who were obviously trying to hurt me, everyone was awesome! I'm going to try to make the Gamer thing take a backseat on this story. I'm going to try to keep it fairly basic for the most part but things will be changed more or less.
Recap: Jon looked at the hand, before meeting Grim's blue eyes. His gaze moved back to the painting showing the younger Jon having been discovered by his Robb and Theon, the former ordering the latter to get someone while the Heir of Winterfell clutched his brother, crying. Jon opened his mouth and gave his answer.
294 AC, Eddard Stark POV
Ned Stark was sitting in his solar, looking over reports and letters that had come in. While he appeared calm on the outside, a whirlwind of anger and fear was barely kept in check. It had been three days since Jon was nearly murdered. When Theon had come running in saying that Jon had been found stabbed, in the godswood of all places, Ned's blood had gone colder than any winter he'd ever endured. His sister's dying words had been echoing in his mind since then.
'Promise me, Ned. Promise me.' He had tried for all these years and he failed. Jon was supposed to be in the safest place in Winterfell, and now he was barely clinging to life! Jon had been conscious enough to tell Robb and Theon that it was the newcomer, Duncan Snow, who had attacked him. All while under guest right.
Gods curse that man to the seven hells!
He had been, supposedly, an acolyte sent by the Citadel to investigate rumors of a memoir. Apparently, there had been one such memoir found in the Reach recently, called the Seeds of the Gardener and they were checking with all of the Great Families to see if they had one as well given its historical significance. Maester Luwin had leafed through most of the library looking and finding a great many old books, until he found one in particular. Unlike any other tomes, this one had been bound in weirwood had was kept shut by a puzzle lock made of bronze which was impossible to pick. The men of the north had not made anything from weirwood since ancient times. According to Luwin, the lock required three keys given the indentations on it. Luwin eventually found a very old journal that referenced it as the Weirbook of the First Men. It was written by several of the Kings of Winter, before the coming of the Andals and other northern lords, the Starks among them, and could only be unlocked by the Eyes of the Winter King which would also act as codebreakers since the book was written in the Old Tongue. The keys were supposedly discs of weirwood according to Luwin who had found one years ago which he kept in the Maester's Tower. While Ned had several people searching Winterfell for the other two keys, Luwin kept the Citadel aware of the situation.
They had responded by sending Duncan Snow.
Snow was dark of hair, which had been cut short and had a beard to go with it. He had a pale, almost sickly, complexion. He was of slight build instead of broadshoulered and barrel chested like most men of the North. His eyes were dark brown, and were always looking over everything, studying, never seeming to still or focus unless he was speaking to someone. He'd yet to gain enough links to form his own chain, according to Luwin. Upon first meeting him, Ned had originally guessed the man may have been kin to the Boltons, given how he looked. Snow had been a very quiet man, keeping to himself most of the time or talking with Maester Luwin. When Ned had asked Luwin's measure of the man, Winterfell's maester had replied that Snow had been an intelligent, and diligent man when it came to their work. He was in-fact, so diligent that he had forgotten to eat a few times. With his help the keys which had eluded the servants, and his children who had thought it was a scavenger hunt, were found easily.
One had been hidden in a high stone in the wall surrounding the godswood.
The last was in the hilt of a blade down in the crypts. Allegedly with the owner of the journal.
The two scholars had decided to begin translating immediately and had been working in shifts. Duncan Snow had been here for several weeks now by this point. And then on the last day, before leaving for the Citadel with copies of the translations, he snuck into the godswood and stabbed Jon who had been praying, seven times. Ned honestly did not know how Jon stayed alive with those wounds. According to Luwin, one of the wounds had been over the boy's heart. The maester had not believed Jon would live through the night, having lost too much blood already.
But Luwin was wrong. Jon had not died in the night. He was alive right now, in a deep sleep. Sansa had cried and visited everyday to see if he had woken up, Robb had been morose since finding his half-brother like that, Theon had been unusually silent, with a red mark on his face courtesy of Robb. Theon had apparently made some remarks about Jon's mother which had made the boy go into the godswood in the first place. Ned had reprimanded his ward but not too harshly, as he could see the boy was feeling guilty over it. Bran, who had been climbing for some time now, had tried to climb up to Jon's window to see when Luwin wouldn't allow them in, but Cat had stopped him that time. Arya on the other hand...
You couldn't tear her away from the door. And when Luwin said Jon could receive visitors, she wouldn't be parted from his bedside. Septa Mordane tried, and Arya fought her off like a feral cat, in her words, when she had spoken to Cat about it. Catelyn then tried her hand, the first, and only time she had been in Jon's room. Catelyn had not raised her voice, but Arya was not going to listen. When Cat still hadn't given up, Arya accused her mother of wishing Jon dead and asked her to just leave. Cat who had been ready to explode at their daughter had been very quiet since. Ned had forced Arya to apologise later, but things continued to be tense around Winterfell.
When Ned had heard what had happened, he ordered both Ser Rodrik Cassel and his nephew Jory, the Captain of the Guard, to take a dozen men on horseback to hunt down Duncan Snow and bring him before the Lord of Winterfell. Maester Luwin had sent a raven to the Citadel inquiring as to why one of the men they'd sent would try to kill a lord's child let alone a Warden who was friend and fosterling of the King and his Hand.
It had been three days since then and the men he'd sent had not come back. Most of their horses had though. Snow couldn't have made it that far before them. Could he have had friends waiting? Had Rodrik, Jory and their men been ambushed and slain? Ned started to get up, to go and visit Jon who was still sleeping in his room, before there was a knock on the door.
"Come." Ned called, sitting back down. Luwin opened the door.
"Lord Stark, Ser Rodrik and Guard Captain Jory have returned." The maester had a grim look on his face. Luwin had never even suspected Duncan had been capable of this treachery, he had still been in shock even as he had worked on Jon to save the boy's life.
"And Duncan Snow? Is he with them?" Ned asked evenly. He wanted to look the man in the eyes, to ask why he had tried to kill Jon. Had he known the truth? If so how? Who else knew?
"I'm afraid not, my lord," Had Rodrik or Jory killed him instead of bringing back? Before Ned could ask, Luwin continued, "I think you are going to wish to speak to them personally. They are in the tower recuperating for the moment."
Ned raised an eyebrow as he stood up from his chair and began to walk with Luwin, "Have they been ambushed? What of the other men?"
"I'm sad to say that the others they took with him have not returned. According to Ser Rodrik, they have all been killed. As for an ambush...I...am honestly not sure, my lord. What Ser Rodrik and Jory are saying...it is impossible."
"What are they saying exactly?" Ned asked as they strode up some stairs before exiting the castle and beginning the trek to Luwin's turret across the courtyard. The maester looked left and right before speaking softly, conscious of others who were staring and listening as they were walking by.
"Rodrik and Jory are both saying that Duncan Snow slaughtered all of their men and horses before he... well... turned to dust." Ned almost stopped walking for an instant, pausing in-step ever so briefly.
"Did I hear you right, Maester Luwin?" Ned asked in disbelief. Men do not turn to dust unless they've been dead for years!
"You heard me correctly, my lord, and that's not all they're saying either." Luwin replied as they went up the stairs of the turret, "They say that Duncan's eyes went pitch black and moved like he was some kind of demon."
"A demon, really?" Ned said skeptically. He'd never known either of the two Cassels to lie. They were honorable men, and their word was their bond, but...had they taken leave of their senses? Then Ned remembered something that Robb had said when they had stayed outside of Jon's room while the Maester was still working on him. Jon had been going on about black eyes and shadows after he told them. Ned had merely written it off as hallucinations or shock. Now he wondered if he'd been wrong or if the man had used poison or something similar.
They arrived at the turret and found the two Cassels, bandaged with a few dark bruises but no worse for wear. That is until Ned saw Jory's leg which had been wrapped and splinted and Rodrik was cradling his bandaged ribs. Ned had known Rodrik since he was a boy, he had watched as his hair and mutton-chops went from the same dark brown as his nephew's to pure white. He helped see him through the Rebellion and Jory had proven himself at the Siege of Pike and had the scar to prove it on his eye. Both men were not only skilled but unfailingly loyal to House Stark.
When the two men attempted to stand, Ned waved his hand and shook his head, "No need to stand, Ser Rodrik, Jory. Just tell me what happened."
"My lord," Ser Rodrik said, as sat back down, sharing a look with Jory, "I am honestly not sure you'd believe us."
"Speak anyway." Ned replied. Ser Rodrik seemed as sane as he usually was, but the old knight had seemed shaken. What in the world happened?
"Snow had been nearly halfway to Castle Cerwyn. It must have been about a day's ride by the time we had caught up to him. He had not been surprised in the least when we were in sight. He actually stopped when he saw us and got off of his horse. He was so...confident even when we had him surrounded, weapons at his neck while still on horseback. Then Jory questioned him." Ser Rodrik reported giving a nod to his nephew who spoke.
"I...uh...I told him that he had been accused of attempting to murder Jon, and asked how he answered. Snow merely...smiled...as if..." Jory began to lag off as if he couldn't believe what had come next.
"As if he were deriving some perverse pleasure from remembering it, before he confessed, with an even bigger smile." Ser Rodrik finished growling in disgust, "Jory had been right in front of him when he said this and when we questioned him why he said-"
"He said he wanted Jon to die suffering, called him an uppity little bastard and that he had wished he'd been there to see the light leave his eyes, that he had more important things to do. Then he laughed, asking how Jon was doing, if he'd been dead or was still pathetically clinging to life when we found him. It was like it was all a joke to him." Jory spoke, cutting off his uncle who didn't even send a reprimanding look. The room was silent, the air tense enough it could snap. He did not dare look to Luwin to see how well he was faring. Ned himself was beginning to feel sick. So it hadn't been because of who Jon was. Duncan had simply wanted to kill him? For his own pleasure? Ned could not even begin to comprehend that, and had no wish to.
"And what happened after he confessed?" Ned inquired after a moment, reining in the revulsion and anger swirling in his gut. Both Cassels, who had endured war in Robert's Rebellion and the Greyjoy rebellion, who were hard men when they needed to be, looked at each other with fear starting to show in their eyes.
"I ordered one of the men to bind his hands, but Snow said they would never be able to hold him. He smiled very widely, almost unnaturally so. And then...his eyes..." Rodrik said before trailing off, shaking his head as if trying to overcome the fear that was taking hold of him.
"His eyes turned pitch black, my lord. There were no irises, no pupils, no white. And his skin had paled, it had black veins all over, and his teeth had even blackened. Next thing I knew my horse had reared up something fierce and fell over, breaking my leg. It got back up and galloped away as if a dragon was bearing down on it. When I looked up the horses were doing the same. Some, like my uncle's, fell and got back up leaving their riders better off than I, while a couple...their riders weren't so lucky." Jory explained, rubbing his leg. Ned grimaced for the men who had died like that. A horse falling over was always a dangerous situation. To die crushed by your own horse. It wasn't the worst, but it was still a bad way to go. What could spook the horses like that? Had Duncan used some sort of trick?
"I was fortunate enough to be able to stand. When I saw Snow pull out a dagger, I and the rest of the men charged at him on foot. I didn't even see him kick me," Rodrik said as he put a hand on his ribs, "It was as if he was there one second, and gone the next, I heard a crunch, my boots left the ground, and I couldn't breathe before landing hard on my back."
"I saw it..." Jory spoke up, "I couldn't stand but I had a good view. He bent down and reacted so fast. I'd never seen a man move like that, nor did I think he had such strength. One kick sent uncle flying back a good few paces in the air. And then he proceeded to tear through the rest of the men. He dodged or deflected their swings, stabbing and cutting two of them by their throats. Another he stabbed multiple times. The rest he...broke. And he did it all while laughing."
"Broke?" Maester Luwin, questioned, speaking for the first time, looking aghast at what he was hearing. Jory nodded solemnly.
"A few, he broke their necks. The others, he broke their arms or legs before stomping their heads in while they were on the ground screaming. Well... all except for poor Cley." Rodrik shook his head at those words.
"Snow's a monster. Or a demon in human skin. Better to kill a man quickly and be done with it. Not... that."
"What? What did he do to Cley?" Ned whispered, trepidation rising. He'd been horrified at what he was hearing, but what could be so bad that it would make both of his best men pause like this?
"He..." Jory began, choking at the memory, "He took his dagger and opened him up." Jory gestured with a finger going up from his navel to his chest, "And Cley did not die immediately either. I-we had to give him mercy after it was over."
Ned felt his stomach lurch and looked down, but he held it in. He heard Maester Luwin give a retching sound before he visibly pulled himself together. What kind of monster had he allowed into his home, near his family? From what he was hearing, it was miraculous, or at the least deliberate on Snow's part mixed with arrogance, that Jon survived.
"And? Maester Luwin told me that you said he died? Did someone show up? What exactly happened after all of that?" Ned questioned. Rodrik looked at Jory who sat there, stone-faced.
"As he was fighting, his skin was becoming...black. He began to bleed black blood, I think. There were patches just...splotching on his skin. His hair started falling out and greying. After he was finished with Cley, he seemed to notice but he wasn't too concerned. He said something strange though, my lord."
"What did he say?"
"He said, 'It appears this body has reached its limit. Oh well, it was slowing me down anyway. I'll just grab a new one after I reach White Harbour.' It was as if he was talking about getting a new set of boots, not dying. And then his body dropped, like a puppet with its strings cut. It shriveled up and turned to dust in the wind shortly after." Ned honestly did not know what to do with this information. He'd think that Snow was mad. Perhaps he'd been afflicted with a disease? The idea that he was talking about getting a new body could only mark the man as crazed.
"Maester Luwin, do think Snow may have had a disease of some sort? Been maddened by illness? The way Jory explained it..." Ned trailed off in thought as he looked at the maester who was frowning, stepping away from Ned.
"I'm afraid I've never heard of anything quite like that, my lord. I've studied over illnesses and poisons that could make flesh rot, that could drive men mad, but only a few could do both, and none comes even close to what Jory's described. As soon as the Citadel answers my reply, I will consult with them and several others to see if there is any mention of it. In the meantime, I would suggest we keep a lookout for anyone, Rodrik, Jory, myself and Jon especially. If this is a disease, we may be infected by it, since we've been the closest to Snow before his death." Luwin walked over to his table and grabbed a pair of gloves covered in wax. He then turned to the Cassel's who sat ramrod straight at the mention of infection, well Rodrik tried to but only succeeded in wincing. "Did you bring anything from your encounter?"
Jory grabbed a bag with a strap that had been right beside his chair and handed it out to Luwin who it took gingerly. The maester continued to stand away from Lord Stark as he checked the contents.
"Hmmm, a quill pen, blank parchment, a bottle of ink that's corked and sealed with wax," He spoke as he pulled out each object, shaking the ceramic pot, "still some left in it. No rations or drink, curious. And...these are...translations from the Weirbook, but...they seem to be specific passages from the book, not its entirety as he was supposed to bring back to the Citadel. Why would Snow focus on these specifically?"
"What do they say, Maester Luwin?" Ned had not yet bothered looking into the book itself, having too many responsibilities and wishing to spend his free time with his family instead. That might have to change. Luwin brought out a single page and began to read.
"'When ends the Long Summer, know that the Long Night shall be marked by the burning of a star in the sky. Witness its red fire both day and night. This red star is the blood in the snow, which shall be spilt when come the ancient lords of winter once more. Beware the coming of the bloody star.' I recognize this one from the fifty-sixth page." As Luwin had read the passage aloud, Ned felt something within him shudder. A warning of the Long Night? He tried in vain to shake it off, but the words of his House came to forefront of his mind. Winter is Coming. Looking at Rodrik, he too had same thought.
"The Long Night? The Others are gone, if they ever existed." Jory said, trying to to seem unaffected, but Ned could see that it had gotten to him.
"Indeed, but it is curious that he would focus on something like this. I cannot recall if one of the links he had was valyrian steel or not. Either way we are not in the middle of a long summer nor has there been a red star in the sky in recent years." Luwin agreed, though he himself was perturbed at the mention. It was one thing for stories that had been passed down through the generations to say it, but an actual account that had survived into their time?
"What of the rest, Maester Luwin?" Ned asked, shaking off what fear had crawled up his spine. The Others are gone.
"Ah, yes... This passage came much later in the book, 'There shall come a day when the blood of the First Men shall grow thin even in the Houses of the North, my son. This is a day to be feared. Look, then, ever to the Old Gods, and keep them in your heart and your godswood. Those from across the waters will not honor them so you must do so.'"
Ned flinched ever so slightly this time. His heart hammered in his chest at that one. It hit a little too close for him to ignore. The blood of the First Men shall grow thin even in the Houses of the north. It felt like a dig at his own self. His wife, who he loved with all of his rapidly beating heart, was a southerner. He had built a sept for her when she came to Winterfell. He allowed his children to learn both their parents' gods out of respect for her. Had that been a mistake? He finally noticed the three other men looking at him, having also made the connection.
"Continue, Maester." The lord of winterfell ordered, not wishing to discuss how much it bothered him. Luwin stuttered for a moment at his cold tone before clearing his throat.
"Of course, my lord. 'It is said that the first heart tree wept a single bloody tear when its face was first carved. It will serve when the long night comes. That is the Blood Amber I have left for you, hidden in the Wolf's Den. Retrieve it when the prophecies of the Long Night are upon us.'"
After hearing that last bit, Ned surmised that Duncan Snow, in his maddened state, had gone after the Blood Amber Tear, and sent a raven personally to Lord Manderly to begin looking through the Wolf's Den, which was once a keep turned prison now. Ned had no wish to allow anyone else to go after such an important artifact of his House and thought it best that it be brought back to Winterfell.
Days later, Maester Luwin would get a raven from the Citadel, claiming they did not send anyone by the name of Duncan Snow to Winterfell. They also claimed that they were getting letters from maesters serving each great family stating several others they had allegedly sent were on their way with translations of old tomes that they had absolutely no knowledge of. Luwin would then inquire about the condition that Duncan Snow exhibited to several maesters who he had known had multiple silver links in their chains. Those who had replied had been stumped, having never even heard of such a condition and asked to keep them informed of the situation in the event of this becoming a plague.
When Luwin would tell Lord Stark of this, the Lord of Winterfell ordered that Luwin send a raven to White Harbour immediately, explaining that there may be an organization or cult attempting to take historical artifacts from several Houses all over Westeros and to be on the lookout for anyone having displaying symptoms like Duncan Snow and to keep him apprised of the situation.
A week after, Lord Manderly sent them a raven stating that they had not found the Blood Amber Tear despite searching every nook and cranny. They had found several prisoners who had been brutally murdered in adjacent cells however, in one of the lowest dungeons, but none showing anything like what was described with Duncan Snow.
Eddard Stark found himself in the godswood, sitting against the heart tree. He was polishing the family's valyrian steel greatsword, Ice, with an oiled rag, thinking. An artifact meant for the Long Night, hidden by his forebears, was taken by someone who may have been affiliated with the monster who attempted to murder his son. It wasn't just his House either, but several others across the Seven Kingdoms. If there was more than one artifact meant for the Long Night, what were they for? Why were they being gathered? Was a second Long Night upon them? If so, why not just bring it to their attention, especially when they had evidence and written accounts?
He looked up to the Great Keep, his mind drifting back to his children. Some semblance of normalcy had returned to Winterfell. Ser Rodrik and Jory were recovering nicely enough according to Luwin. No one was showing any symptoms either. No black splotches, no pale skin with black veins, and no moments of insanity, thank the gods. But Luwin had cautioned that they needed to keep an eye out as Snow had been here for nearly a month and showed no visible signs which everyone listened to. However, Ned was starting to wonder if it really had been a disease that took Duncan Snow's life. Usually a sickness would start showing within a fortnight. None of those that had been near Snow the most had shown anything. Not Luwin, not Rodrik, not Jory.
Ned's heart panged at that last thought. Jon still hadn't woken up. He'd not even stirred. It was as if the boy was in the deepest of sleep. The only thing that moved was his chest when he breathed. When word got out that Duncan Snow may have infected several people, including the lord's bastard, the maester, the master-at-arms and the captain of the guard, the smallfolk were scared to say the least. All had been under quarantine, until it was deemed relatively safe. Arya had been stubborn about it even when they explained the danger. She still would not leave Jon, so Ned made a deal: He would stay the night with Jon over the next few days to keep an eye on him while Arya would return to her lessons. Arya eventually agreed with reluctance. Catelyn had not been happy, but he put his foot down on the subject saying the only other person Arya would listen to on this matter would be Robb, and they both knew she wouldn't want their son to run the risk of catching whatever it was.
During those nights, Ned would take the Weirbook of the First Men and read it while listening to Jon's steady breathing. He would read through the accounts of multiple kings and lords of the First Men, the dreams and prophecies inscribed on the bronze pages. It was chilling to realize that the Others had indeed been real even if it were thousands of years ago. But Ned found comfort in the passages dedicated to his ancestors. It made them... more real to him every time he read a testimony of their age.
When the Weirbook would lose its luster, Ned would look at Jon, studying him. He'd notice that while Jon had his mother's coloring, and her face, Rhaegar's valyrian features were starting to shine through. Jon had a dimple on his chin that was becoming noticeable as he grew, his nose was becoming more defined and elegant, as well as his cheekbones though they were not too sharp or high. Those weren't the only things Ned noticed about Jon's face either. Snow must have been hacking or Jon had managed to put up a struggle before he was stabbed as now he was sporting a couple of scars on his eyes. One was on Jon's left eye, going down the eyebrow and onto just the lower part of his eye, thankfully not damaging it beyond that. On the other eye, Jon had what looked like a rather deep nick Jon's eyebrow but it was slanted, looking like it had disappeared into the eyebrow instead of through it. Thinking on his scars more, Jon's constant breathing would sometimes move the blanket, giving Ned enough of a glance to see seven wounds on his son's chest.
One right over his heart.
Upon seeing that, Ned was convinced that the gods were watching out for Jon. No man could live through such a wound yet here Jon was, alive. Ned thanked the gods for this favor everyday, but as the days went by he grew concerned. Jon would not wake, no matter what. Luwin had been keeping him alive on a diet of honey and water. This many days without solid food, Jon's body should have grown thinner, weaker, but instead it had remained largely unchanged. Ned stopped whetting the blade as he stared into the small black pool that was in front of the heart tree. His reflection stared back looking as lost for answers as he felt. He turned his head to look up at the bright red leaves. Were the gods looking after them?
A loud crack of thunder interrupted his thoughts. He stood up quickly and looked upwards through the canopy of leaves. The sky was beginning to go dark, but it was still day time. The wind had gone very silent, nearly still. Ned's eyes widened as he realized what this was. A snowstorm was approaching! His mind was already working a mile a minute on what needed to be done as he stood up: Workers will need to be organized to harvest ripe crops and cover the crops that aren't yet. They may end up getting snowed in, they'll need to have a few people chop wood for kindling and make sure their food reserves are well-stocked to give out food rations, and finally make sure the doors, windows, and shutters are all closed, nailed down and sealed with mud if need be.
"Gods look after us!" He prayed silently to himself as he made his way out of the godswood.
Lord Stark had done as he had planned and more. The storm was nearly on the castle now and the staff was working frantically on the last minute preparations. While everyone in the keep was running around shutting windows and doors, something that many had been hoping for finally happened. In a room in the Great Keep, a lone figure opened his grey eyes for the first time in a bed that had both always belonged to him and yet was one that he had not slept in for decades. He slowly raised his arm to see the bracelet with a pendant in the shape of a book.
In the Repository
"Yes." Jon said gripping Grim's arm.
"Excellent, best get to it then." The supposed god said with a grin before walking over to his desk.
"Just tell me something." When Grim looked back at him, he continued, "You said that you and this place was beyond time, yet you seem to be in rush. Even pressuring me. Why?"
"That Mana Storm," Grim answered, pointing at the painting which showed the storms again. This time there were three massive ones. One went north, while the other two went southwest and southeast respectively. "The Ether isn't just some thing I placed solely for the afterlife. It acts as the...err...middleman between me and the world. A way of communication, like your maesters and ravens. Since that storm is causing a major disturbance it is becoming difficult to hold a connection to that time period."
"And we need to be at that time period because?" Jon questioned further, brow raised.
"So we can save Young Jon and give you a decent body." Grim said as he opened a drawer and pulled out a small book, "I send you back there as you are, you'll never be believed, and you won't be able to do anything. And a world without Jon Snow... it's bad. So we're going to do something called Transmigration. Normally, when you die and your soul becomes one with the Ether, it'll eventually be reincarnated into a new body, and you will be a new person altogether. Instead, we're going to do the same thing Drakhan did, only better."
He held out the book in front of Jon. It was small, leatherbound, and was wrapped in a chain.
"This what I call a Gamer's Grimoire, it taps into a person's body as well as their very soul and acts as both key and guide. Through it you will learn more about the world than you would think possible, and your growth with accelerate exponentially."
"My growth?" Jon asked skeptically, "Will it make me age faster or something?"
"No," Grim shook his head, "By growth I mean things like your rate of learning, your strength, agility, and your abilities. It will enable you to perceive the world around you differently, and help you find ways to get experience. Experience is the measured accumulation of practical knowledge and skill. When you have enough of it, which the Grimoire will be keeping track of, your body will be ready to grow and acclimate to a new level of power, a level up if you will."
"And how exactly is this going to save that younger version of me?" Jon asked, his thumb pointing back at the painting behind him.
"To save Young Jon, and send you back with a good body, I will essentially be merging your souls together. You will not just be an Elderly Jon with a younger body, or a Younger Jon with memories of a life never lived. You will both be a fusion of the two, a new Jon as it were, with the accumulated experience of an eighty-year old and the body of a teenager. To do this, I am going to put you," Grim pointed at a stunned Jon while shaking the Grimoire, "into this. I will put this on Young Jon some time before Drakhan arrives at Winterfell. No one will be able to notice it. Your younger self will die for a brief moment, which will activate the Grimoire and the process of soul-merging will begin. Don't worry you will not be conscious in the Grimoire or during the fusing process."
"Won't that be...confusing? Merging two souls together? Won't we have conflicting memories or won't I overshadow the boy?" Jon asked, full of questions, doubting this was going to end well.
"Yes it will be, but as you live and make new memories in this new life, it will be a bit less confusing. That Jon will eventually be able to differentiate between himself and the two of you. He will be both you and the younger Jon, but he will be his own person too."
"This...is very hard to understand." Jon said walking over to a chair and sitting heavily on it, thinking about this supposed new Jon Snow. Would he be naive or frightened? Jaded and angry at the world he's in? Would he and his younger doppelganger simply be melted and buried away in this man they were making? A warm hand on his shoulder pulled him from his thoughts.
"Do not think of it like that, Jon." Grim said, eyes as warm as his hand, having apparently heard his thoughts, "Think of this as no more than another chance, for both you and your younger self. Because that's all it is at the end of the day."
"Alright," Jon said after a moment of silence, coming to terms of what he was about to do. He didn't fully understand it, but he wanted to think of it as Grim said it. A second chance. "What do I need to do, to be put in that?"
"Just be here." Grim stated before the book glowed brightly before disappearing. "The process is done. The Grimoire is now on Young Jon's wrist."
"That's all it takes?" Jon asked surprised by how quick it was.
"Yes, but I need to lay some ground rules before I leave, and this Sanctuary becomes your's fully."
"I thought this place was yours? Wait, I thought you said this is a repository?"
"Not anymore, it's been changed. This room were are in is now your Repository, but it is part of something much larger now. Look." Grim gestured to the room at large, prompting Jon to look. There were still moving paintings on the walls, but this time they were showing locations he knew: Winterfell, King's Landing, Dragonstone, and others. He saw the Hightower and the Citadel of Oldtown, standing tall and practically shining in the sunlight. Jon looked at the bookshelves that while they were still incredibly tall, Jon could see the ceiling now and where they ended at it. He looked down at the desk which stood at the base of the bookcases. It was white now, and looked suspiciously like weirwood.
Jon turned to look at the hearth, his eyes widening. Instead of a moving painting of Westeros, there were two swords and a shield. The swords were nothing special, but the shield was rounded and the sigil on it was a white wolf's head and red dragon circling each other on a field of black.
"I felt that sigil was appropriate for you, given your background. The field of black stands for the Night's Watch, just so you know. Not just House Targaryen."
"I..." Jon said, about to say he wasn't a Stark or that he refused to be Targaryen on reflex, Grim cut him off.
"Horseshit." The godlike being stated, voice not unkind, "You are a Stark where it matters and you are a trueborn Targaryen. Now do not get me wrong, I like your last name: Jon Snow. It makes you sound heroic, especially more than Stark or Targaryen. It even sounds like you're a force of nature instead of a man. But you need to embrace it. At least in your mind."
"I..." Jon honestly did not know what to say. Old wounds that had plagued him from being raised as a bastard felt soothed by Grim's words.
"And I'm not joking about embracing it, Jon. You need to wake the dragon within." At Jon's skeptical look, Grim continued, "I'm not saying to spurn all that you've been raised to believe. I'm not saying turn into a mad tyrant, or ride a dragon and burn things. Without acknowledging or embracing your Targaryen side, you will have a sort of block on your more... magical abilities."
"Magic? I have a warg abilities yes, but-" Grim cut him off.
"That is merely the tip of the spear, Jon. Remember what I said? The Grimoire taps into your body and soul. And you are the blood descendant of not just Garth Greenhand, but Azor Ahai, and Princess Nymeria. The First Men, the Rhoynar, and the Valyrians. That is a lot of magical potential. If you do not embrace all that you are, you'll never live up to your ultimate potential, and you need to do that. I'll try to help in my own way, but I'll be largely out of the fighting. You just barely defeated the Night King last time. Now you have Drakhan in addition to the Others. You will always be the White Wolf, but you can be a dragon too. The words you've lived by, were always the words of House Stark: Winter is Coming. The words of House Targaryen are Fire and Blood. Make them both your's because that is what is ahead of you: Winter is Coming with Fire and Blood! Now come with me. I need to show the rest of the Sanctuary."
Grim walked out of the door into the hallway. Jon followed after him after a moment of hesitation. No one had told him that. It was always Stark, or Targaryen or neither, never really both. He remembered his conversation with Theon before leaving Dragonstone. He had told him that he was both Greyjoy and Stark. He scoffed silently as he walked down the hallway. Who would have thought he'd needed that conversation too? The portraits were different in the hall too, but he still didn't recognize any of these places. Most looked as if they were on a cost, while some looked as if they near deserts of rocky terrain. One portrait was of two large statues of horses. Did that have something to do with the Dothraki? That was when Grim stopped at a door and pulled it open before walking in.
"This is to be your trophy room." Grim presented a large room with walls of pristine white marble and granite floors. It was dotted with shelves and portraits along the walls with a few tables and stands on the floor between the walls. It had multiple levels and stairs. "In it will be figurines of people you've fought against and with." There were several such figurines and all seemed to be moving. And he recognised many of them. Among them were Dany, Arya, Sansa, Tyrion and several others. Seven hells, even Jaime Lannister was there!
"Over here, you'll note these portraits show your achievements. The battles you fought, or moments of your life which had a profound effect on you." There was a moving portrait of the Battle of Winterfell. Jon could see himself flying on Rhaegal burning the Army of Dead with Dany and Drogon, and he could barely make out their own army fighting unless dragon flame passed nearby. Another painting showed himself meeting Ygritte. "You can move these as you wish," Grim waved a hand in front of the portrait with Ygritte and it changed to Jon's mercy killing of Mance Rayder. Grim gestured to the painting of the Battle of Winterfell. "Try it."
Jon did so, with clumsy jerky movements, feeling like an idiot for a moment before the painting shifted. The trench lit up, then the battle in the sky, the Night King raising Winterfell's dead, to finally Jon facing down an undead Viserion and shouting for Arya to go, before the dead fell and sun started to rise.
"Hmmm, you'll need practice but you will get their. Come, Jon," Grim walked up the stairs to next level with Jon following, "Up here, is where your... romantic conquests shall be stored."
Jon's face went red with anger and embarrassment, "You and this book are to be cataloging this!" He pointed to the three portraits in the otherwise large room, the implications of it made Jon fidget. All three of them held the women he had loved in his life, their names inscribed at the base of the paintings. The portraits did not show them or him in compromising situations, thank the gods, in fact they actually looked dignified. Ygritte had her spear out and was looking out in the distance. She didn't look angry or tense. She looked content, happy even. Dany was sitting on her throne at Dragonstone, looking as beautiful and regal as she ever did. Val was clad in furs, snow all around her, her hair was down, a spear in her hand and was looking directly at him, looking like a princess of the Free Folk.
Grim raised his hand towards Ygritte's portrait, and before Jon could stop him, it shifted: Their first meeting, their first time-Jon really wanted to hit Grim for that one-the time they climbed The Wall and kissed on top of it, their separation, Jon holding her dead body in his arms as Battle of Castle Black roared around them, to finally him burning her body beyond the wall.
"Let's go to next area of the room." Grim said mercifully, turning back around and exiting back to the main area, before walking across a floor that bridged over the door and into yet another room. When Jon walked in he flinched at the lifelike statues of two white walkers, Mance Rayder, Qhorin Halfhand, the Thenn he'd fought at Castle Black, Ramsay and Dany.
"This is your Boss or Champion room. In this room it is recorded of those who were above the common soldier in some way that you battled. There another, further from the rest. It was of an old wizened man. Jon recognized the face as Bran, the one he'd seen Podrick stab. The one possessed by Drakhan.
"It that all?" Jon asked, not wishing to be in this room any longer.
"Yes, let me show the rest," Grim said, leading him out back towards the hall and to a door across from the trophy room, "Here is your war room."
The room had no windows but it was lit by a strange glass object that glowed. In the middle of the room was a table which vaguely reminded Jon of the Painted Table back in Dragonstone. The image of Westeros was on the table, and moved like many of the other portraits if the waves of water were any indication. With a gesture, Grim focused in on the North. Some areas had light shining on them while some had not. Winterfell, and the Wall, for instance while Skagos wasn't.
"Here you can get a good look at the places you have been to in detail and fast travel to them from here."
"Fast travel?" Grim nodded.
"Fast travel, as in you would pop right over. No horse, no raven, and no one would notice you disappear and reappear, unless you were gone for a length of time, of course. Now, let's look at Winterfell." Grim made his fingers and thumbs form and hourglass symbol before pulling them apart, as Jon marveled at the idea of near instant travel. The image Winterfell suddenly became bigger while everything else disappeared. Then the painting began unfold itself, looking like pieces of wood or a puzzle and Winterfell grew from an image into a near perfect reconstruction of itself. The only thing that could have made it more real was if there were tiny people walking around in it. Then there were tiny people who appeared.
"You can use this to spy on enemy movements, however you won't hear anything."
"Amazing." He breathed as he leaned in closer, checking the Great Keep and the Godswood. It certainly looked accurate with how the Godswood was about a good third of the castle itself from what he'd seen from Rhaegal when he flew him over Winterfell. "How close is it to the real thing?"
"Very close." Grim said, "Even to the crypts." Grim raised his hand and Winterfell rose revealing a fully mapped system of the tunnels beneath Jon's old home. He could only breathe heavily at the sight. "King's Landing is accessible too." The aforementioned place replaced Winterfell as if summoned by it's name, "All you need to do is speak it to see it. If you've already been there of course. This thing does have its limits, after all."
"What limits?" Jon asked, thoughts of ambushing Petyr Baelish and the Night King swirling in his mind.
"For one, you can't use it when fighting. It's a safety measure. You can take people with you, if they are in physical contact with you. If you were in, say, a fight and tried to do it, since time moves differently here as well, your opponent could come with you since technically both your weapons are crossed. This applies to not only fights, but battlefields and enemy-held territory, like King's Landing, or to be more specifically, the Red Keep. The city itself is largely 'safe', but the Red Keep is off limits. It also will not work unless you have been at the location in some form."
"So I can go to places I've been to, but none I haven't." Jon stated in understanding.
"There is a way for you to do it without being physically there, but you need to figure it out." Grim said as he left.
"Truly? Why won't you tell me it?" Jon asked after him.
"You need to grow." Grim replied matter of factly.
"Not even a hint?" Jon almost pleaded. If he could this there was almost nowhere he could go! Grim paused for a second thinking.
"Be like Bran." Was all he said before continuing down the hall to another door. Jon thought it over on what he'd meant. Be like Bran? Bran had visions. Visions of other places! But how could he do it?! He would need to figure it out later. Grim pulled open the next door. "This is your storage area. As you travel, you will find yourself picking up resources, objects, armor, weapons, food, clothing and other things. This is where they are stored. It will also act as your Armory and Dressing Room."
The inside of the room reminded Jon of the cave at Dragonstone. It was cavernous and near empty, lit by what looked like glowing crystals. In one area, Jon saw that there were wardrobes and racks to hold clothes and armor with a nearby mirror, and in another area there were empty weapon racks. Between the two areas was plenty of empty space.
"So I can store anything in here?" Jon questioned glancing about.
"Nothing alive. Food can last a long time here, yes, but it will eventually spoil. I suggest eating it whenever you find yourself on the road or wish to save some money, not here either, since you can only come here as a soul. Now, to the adjacent room." Grim closed the door and moved over to the next. Jon had a question about that last statement.
"A soul, are you saying I need to die to come back here?"
"No, you won't die, but...this is difficult to explain. Death is when your soul is separated from your body and cannot return to it by normal means, as in no magic. The Grimoire will act as a sort tether to this place for your soul. Your soul will be transported here, along that tether, and once you leave it will instantly go back the same way." They came to the end of the hall with only two doors. Grim grabbed the one at the end first.
"This is your training area." He pulled open the door to reveal...a white room? There was nothing in it save for a stand with a floating orb. Grim walked forward to the stand and placed his hand on the orb. Several translucent windows suddenly popped into existence. Jon gasped, taking a step back in surprise. In the windows he saw different people. Free Folk, Boltons, Lannisters and the Others. Grim's fingers moved over the orb, "Merely pick an enemy and adjust the scenario. You can do one-on-one."
A single wight appeared, snarling, shrieking, and looking back and forth before calming down and just standing there.
"One vs many, adjusting how many you wish to fight." Multiple wights showed up doing the same thing as the first before just standing there, "Even add a boss or champion." And an honest to gods, white walker popped up nearly giving Jon's heart stop! Instead of attacking or making noise, all it did was look around, hatefully.
"Are...are they real?" Jon questioned, desperately wishing he had Longclaw with him right now.
"They're just short of it. They might feel and sound real, there's nothing in their heads but basic intelligence. These are constructs, think lifelike puppets." That wasn't helping much, but it did allow Jon to collect himself. Was that smile Grim had?
"What else can this place do?" He asked after a moment.
"You can choose the location. So long as you've been there." Grim moved his hands and the white room turned into the haunted forest beyond the wall. Jon's hand went to his side looking for Longclaw, again, now certain Grim was playing with him as the Others were still there! "You can choose a battle scenario." Jon ducked to the right as a Bolton Cavalryman flew by him on horse as the scene changed to the Battle of Bastards. They were surrounded by men killing each other on the field. Even the smell of dirt, blood, sweat, and even a hint of shit was present. Then the room went back to white and nothing.
"I must warn you, this room will not actively improve your skills, but it will help you practise and refine them since while here, you are not really using your physical body. If you wish to practice and figure out certain moves, abilities or magics, or how to move in a fight or battlefield, this is the place. You can make a fight as real as it can get to feel pain, but you will not die. You can practice but you will not unlock anything new. No new skills or abilities. Only what you already have. Do not expect anything more." Grim stated, his tone uncompromising. Jon was a bit disappointed at the fact he couldn't train himself up in here beyond the limit Grim said, but he would find it useful still.
"I understand. Is there anything else?"
"Just one more room and then we'll go back to the Repository." Grim assured, walking out with Jon behind him. They came to the final door on the side. "This is your treasury." And with a pull, a massive vault, more like cavern, was revealed nearly completely empty. There was only a bag in the middle. "You will of course have to save up your own money. I've generously started you off with five-hundred dragons. Originally, I wanted to give you a full vault, but people would notice and ask questions of how you have so much if I gave you a hundred million dragons."
Jon choked at the words 'a hundred million dragons.' Gold Dragons were primarily used by the nobility and wealthy merchants. Silvers and coppers were for everyone, the latter used more by the smallfolk than the former. To have five-hundred dragons, Jon alone wouldn't have to worry about money for a long time. Three-hundred gold dragons was a very formidable amount of money even for a major noble house. The only other houses who could simply shrug it off would be the Great Houses and even then only the Lannisters and the Tyrells being the wealthiest two. The amount that Grim was saying he wanted to give so nonchalantly...he could have rebuilt and furnished all the castles in Westeros with that amount! And filled their stores of food, weapons and furs! And still probably had money left over!
"I almost wish you would." Jon whispered. He wasn't a greedy man, and he was used to living off the land and providing for himself, but when that much gold was possible? Jon's mind buzzed with how many things he could accomplish if he had that much on hand. A fleet of ships that can protect the North and help trade with other lands. Castle's that have fallen into disrepair being renovated. Then everything else occurred to him. Questions from Lannisters and Tyrells, the other lords, or worse, father and Robb. Not being able to give a straight answer and the distrust it would earn. And eventually the murder attempts from thieves and those whose 'businesses' would be affected by his wealth. Jon turned around to look at Grim, "Are you sure you are not a god?"
"From my point of view, I am just a simple man. From yours," Grim had a slight smile on his face and gleam in his eyes that bordered on frightening before turning back down the hall, "I may as well be." When the two returned to the Repository, Grim held his arms to the room, "And so we come back to the most important room, arguably. The Repository, your Repository now, is full of information of what you already know, but cannot recall instantly. Merely call out the subject and the book will come. House Stark!" A book lifted itself from a nearby bookcase and flew across the room until it landed in Grim's hand with his other coming to support it. Jon got a good look at the book. It was a large book, very thick, enough to weigh a few stone. It was colored white and had House Stark's signature grey wolf head snarling on the front, labeled History of House Stark.
"Now, you." Grim prompted nodding to Jon.
"House Targaryen." Jon called after a minute. A black book flew from another case and into Jon's hands. The three-headed red dragon was embroidered proudly on the cover. The book while not small, was nowhere near as thick or large as the Stark book.
"Look in it." Grim ordered softly. Jon glanced at him before doing as he was told. There was a lot of information, but what was confusing was that there were blank spaces, or blank pages actually especially in the beginning. The later pages held information he recognized, even illustrations of people. Daenerys was the last with her assassination at his hands.
"I do not understand." Jon said, heart heavy.
"It has all the facts you know, but none of the facts you don't." Grim explained.
"So if I do not know it. It is not there for me to see it here? Jon asked, gesturing with the book to the room.
"Exactly," Grim nodded, "You must learn the truth for yourself, Jon. I can only give you much. To set them back, merely let go, and they will do the rest." Grim dropped the book midair, and instead of falling, it merely went back to the case. Jon dropped the Targaryen book and let it fly back to its section. "They can land on the ground if you do not wish them back. Just in case you're wondering."
"So anything else?" Jon asked, thinking there might be more. Grim shook his head negatively.
"Nothing more than just a few rules." He stood in front of Jon now, arms clasped behind his back, posture stiff, stance slightly spread out. Jon was instantly reminded of Alliser Thorne and Ser Rodrik back in his training yard days and fell into old habits as his back straightened, standing at the ready. "Rule One: You do not tell anyone about this. You keep this secret and take it to your grave. I mean it! The second you tell someone, or Drakhan somehow manages to possess you, I will rip it from you and smite you with lightning! Even if you are on your deathbed surrounded by your children, and you're thinking about bequeathing it to one of them, I will not allow it. This is too dangerous to fall into the wrong hands. Could you imagine the likes of Ramsey and Joffrey getting their hands on this? Or worse Littlefinger and Cersei! Westeros is in enough danger as it is! So. No. Telling!"
Jon nodded his head frantically. Grim's entire demeanor changed as he started talking and pressure of some kind laid on Jon. It was as if he was a little boy again and Grim was a mix of the Night King and his father. The comparison was disturbing to say the least.
"Rule Two: You will not use this Grimoire to wage war on anything after the Night King and Drakhan are defeated. I would have you use it only for them, but considering the War of Five Kings can be used against the Night King and manipulated by Drakhan, I'll allow it. To enforce this, as soon as they are both dead, the War Room will lose the spy function and if you attempt to bring people into enemy-held territory via fast travel afterwards, you will be locked out of the room completely!"
Jon nodded shakily. It was getting difficult to breathe
"Finally, Rule Three: There is no coming back from death anymore for you. You die, that's it. I'm not allowing you back. You've had your free chance. No more. Thoros and Melisandre together would not be able to revive you. I've bent the rules enough already."
Well...that was unnerving. Looks like he was going to have to really make this count. He could barely think as he nodded.
"I understand." He wheezed. The pressure which had been so oppressive vanished in an instant. Grim's blue eyes, which had been colder than a white walker's, turned warm with the ease of a coin flip.
"Perfect! Other than that, you're welcome to do just about anything. Pursue the Iron Throne, make a harem of Westeros's finest women, I do not particularly care, so long as you don't break those rules and kill Drakhan and Brandon. So long as you can do that, we'll have no trouble." Grim walked away to rack, and grabbed a long black coat putting it on. "The fusing process is about to begin. So this is the last time we'll see each other. At least for a while, I think. By the way, the fusion will add some of your older physical aspects to your younger body. You'll notice some changes, for one your scars, on your face and chest specifically. They're going to show. I managed to heal the burn mark on your right hand. It'd be difficult to explain that one. Maybe a few others on your body, but no one is going to look there at your age." Grim gave a raised eyebrow at Jon as he turned the collar of his coat up, "At least they shouldn't be."
Jon was about to say something when the nearby bookcase disappeared and another door took its place. Grim walked over, placing a strange bowllike hat on his head, and grabbed the handle. The door was made not of any wood as the others had been, but of white crystal.
"I've taken the liberty of setting up your profile in the Grimoire." At Jon's confused look, Grim winked, "You'll know what that means when I leave and have the information placed in your head. Since you will have been in bed for a long time and not eating, your body should degenerate, but with the fusion the effects should be largely negated. At least for Young Jon's body. Your physical stats took the full brunt of the degradation. Your body should be just as strong as it was, maybe even a bit stronger at that age. Your agility and endurance too. Your perception, intelligence, charisma and willpower should be up. As for your luck...well that stayed the same all through your life. That'll change with the Grimoire now."
Grim opened the door to reveal a black void. There were spirals of...things made of light, of all sorts of colors. Reds, blues, greens and more. All of them span ever so slightly. They were beautiful to behold.
"Creation is certainly beautiful, Jon." Grim answered his thoughts. "Good luck, you're going to need it." And he stepped into the void. As soon as the door shut, the bookcase was back in its place."
293 AC, Jon POV
Jon stood up, naked as the day he was born. Oh, his knees hadn't moved that smoothly in years. Oh no, they were going to get like that again! He shook his head out of it, and looked around for his mirror. He hadn't been in this room in a very long time, yet he knew exactly where everything was. Was that due to Young Jon? He opened a drawer and pulled out a set of trousers and put them on. The mirror was across from it. He looked at himself studying his new/old face. He was just beginning to turn into a man at this age, and he was still pretty looking. Even with the remnants of baby fat on his face. The scars were there as Grim had said. The same ones Dany and Val said made him look more handsome than pretty. He looked at his hair, not a single strand of silver in those dark locks. And oh wow, his eyesight was so much better now. He looked at his body taking note of the muscle in his arms and the developing four-pack. He wasn't as built as he had been years later, but he wasn't scrawny. Had he been like this at this age? That was when he noticed his chest had the same scars he'd gotten from his first death.
The men who had done that to him were alive now.
Everyone was alive.
Dread and relief mixed together inside him as tears welled in his eyes even as he hugged himself, trying not to sob. He was here! His enemies were still alive and so was his family! They were altogether here at Winterfell again! He felt something on his wrist and he looked at it. It was a silver chain, and it had an accessory shaped like a book dangling from it. The word entered his head before he could even think.
'Grimoire' The book shined and grew, becoming an actual book chained to his wrist. Yet it wasn't heavy in the least. In fact there was no weight to it. Then he remembered something Grim had stated...
'Profile' The book turned on its own to a specific page. On the left page was a moving illustration of his current self. The illustration had two shadows, one tall and one short. On the other page was everything he needed to know what Grim did.
Core Skills: Your most basic skills. Adding points to them increases your mastery over the subject. Once they are filled to 100, they will be completed and unlock more specialized branches called Sub-Skills.
Sub-Skills: Skills that provide bonuses to specific talents and how you use them. Once completed, another Sub-Skill may be unlocked depending on the precedent skill.
Light Armor: 0
Basic Stances: Your styles of fighting. Each one is for fighting brutally or smartly. Up close or distant. Offensive or defensive. One weapon or two. Each one is unlocked when the corresponding Perk is unlocked. Each Stance Ability cost one Stance Point. You get two Stance Points per level until Level 27, then it is down to one per level.
Specialized Stances: Advanced stances that are unlocked when you have enough Stance Points in the Basic Stance. Stance Points are shared between Basic and Specialized Stances, but advanced abilities cost twice as many points.
Water Dancer: 3/7
Perks: Abilities that are unlocked whenever certain skills reach a specific amount. You get one Perk Point per level.
Expert Combat Training
Great Critical Charge
Limb-splitting Hack and Slash
So that was what Grim gave him? Most of the perks were due to his Melee Skill. He automatically knew he had a couple of other perks, but it would appear that newer and more powerful perks absorbed or replaced them. All in all it was practically everything Older Jon had, or would have had, by the end of his life. Jon did take a minute to appreciate the Stances before closing the Grimoire which went back to its bracelet form. It made things nice and simple. Still he was curious about some of the other perks that Grim had picked. The magic based perks for instance. Magical Synthesis, Creation Magic, and Dragon Dreams? He could guess the last one was from his Targaryen side, but why the other two?
The door of his room suddenly opened, and in walked a ghost from the past.
It was Arya, who upon seeing him awake, promptly yelled in shock. She stood there, large grey eyes wide welling with tears, until she leapt at him. Jon grabbed her while she was still in midair, her arms wrapping around his neck with her head going over his shoulder. He had forgotten how small she'd been when they were this age. It was hard to reconcile the image of this sweet, mischievous little girl with the woman who saved them all. She was tiny, energetic and emotional, a far cry from the in-control, deadly assassin he'd parted ways with on the docks of King's Landing. He could feel her tears dripping onto his neck and back.
"I thought you wouldn't wake up." She sobbed.
"I thought I wouldn't see any of you again." He whispered, tears starting to drip down his cheeks. He could hear someone running down the hall, and before long, Robb came through the door looking startled. Jon couldn't believe how young Robb looked. The last time he'd seen him was when he left for the Wall. Back then they'd both been growing beards, now there wasn't a single strand of auburn hair anywhere on Robb's face. Robb stared at their embrace for a second before joining in himself, his head going over the shoulder Arya didn't occupy.
"You finally have enough beauty sleep, Snow?" His brother asked wetly, causing Jon to smile a bit wider. Oh, how he missed this!
"Aye, more than enough I think. I feel like a lifetime's passed." Jon replied, smirking at his own private joke. He was here. They were here.
And he was going to make damn sure things ended better this time!
To all of those who are just hung up about season 8 being trash and how I shouldn't have included the ending, I didn't like it either, but I sucked it up and didn't bitch about it. It's been two years since! Instead I decided to write and give a different ending. What did you do? Besides whine and probably sign that stupid petition that wasn't going anywhere.
Leave a like or a review. Constructive criticism is welcome as well any lengthy comment so long they are not hateful. Saying just 'good chapter' or if you're being cute, and saying something along the line of 'really good chapter,' please try to add a little more. It really helps my self-esteem.
And kudos to my beta Jonsnowisawsome for looking over this and dealing with me pestering him over this!