Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for language.
A terrified scream resounded through the snowstorm.
Aron sat up, from his hammock, with a start. Battle instincts kicking in, his hand flew to his sword resting by his side. He saw his men doing the same, eyes filled with confusion and fear.
“What the blazes was that?” Spoke a voice from the far end of the room.
“It sounds like some bloody fool has angered the giants again.” Aron grumbled. “Come on!” Aron swung his legs over the side of his hammock and unsheathed his sabre with a resounding screech. There was no armour Aron needed to change into. The furs he slept in were sufficient enough for battle. One could never be sure how early you were going to awake, to rescue some damned idiot, when you lived in Westeros during the Long Night.
Aron rushed to the door, followed closely by his men and carrying his sabre with him. Aron sported a Dornish style blade, curved sharply halfway up the edge, and crafted with some of the finest southern steel from Aron’s homeland. Even now, Aron sometimes wondered why he had moved up to this accursed place, at the beginning of the Long Night. “Because I cared about Westeros.” Aron reminded himself as he threw open the door to the turbulent snowstorm outside. “Because I would do something with my life.”
Aron’s vision was mostly obscured by the snow whipping sharply through the air and the mist rolling past like an ocean in itself.
But he would know a giant anywhere.
He could see it batting angrily, and roaring at two humanoid shapes, that Aron could not discern because of the accursed snow. However, he could see they were terrified and trying their best to stay alive, as the dodged backwards and forwards under the giants legs. Aron could see they must have had some military training. Most victims would have been smashed to bloody pulp by now.
“Jeorj, Tomn, Harold!” Aron called backwards. “Flank the giant from the right!” He saw them rush ahead to comply. “Everyone else follow me!” Aron charged ahead through the snow hearing the screech of weapons being unsheathed behind him. “Oy!” Aron yelled at the giant, as he drew closer to the giant.
Aron unleashed a barrage of curses at the it, and the giant roared and lumbered towards him and his men, leaving its prey behind. He was an ugly chap. A long brown beard, streaked with dirt and snow, long straggly brown hair, a huge, bulbous nose, and only one evil scarlet eye, the other just an empty black socket streaked with a grievous scar.
“Forward!” Aron bellowed, and his men charged towards the giant with furious battle cries. The giant sped up, roaring and swinging tree trunk fists. Aron was the first to come beneath its stomping feet, he hacked out with his sword and the blade bit into flesh. The giant growled in pain and lashed out with its leg. Aron was catapulted backwards and sent skidding through the snow for a few metres, while his men fell upon the giant in a whirl of steel. Aron began rise, he wasn’t particularly injured, when he heard a yell. The figure of Jeorj threw himself off of a towering gnarled tree that the snowstorm only just had revealed, and landed on the giants head. He began to savagely beat at it with his club.
Aron started forwards for another attack while the giant stumbled, attempting to throw Jeorj off, while being assaulted by Aron’s men.
Aron reached the giant, and called out, “Bind it! Bind its legs!”
It took Aron’s men only moments to comply, they whipped out ropes and spread out, running about the giants legs, and tying them together with ropes. A sort of lasso for its head, connected to two ropes which would bind its feet, and a third which they could pull on to bring the giant down.
Unfortunately, the giant eventually succeeded in throwing Jeorj off, who screamed with fear, and landed with a thud nearby, somebody already rushing to help him.
Instantly the giant kicked out like an angered horse, and one of the men holding the ropes was thrown of his feet and tossed away like a rag doll before they could bind its head.
Aron rushed to where the rope lay, and picked it up from the snow, the other foot was bound, it was only this one and the head “Distract it!” ,Aron roared, and the men complied easily, some drawing out bows and moving backwards to draw the giants attention on them. Aron pulled the rope tight about the giants feet, then he bounded like an ape, from its foot to the giants tattered trousers, grabbing hold of the stinking material. While carrying the lasso, Aron pulled himself up gradually, hearing arrows whistle about him, and the giant roaring in rage. Aron’s arms were screaming at him in agony, yet he endured it and he hauled himself up towards the giants shoulder. Aron stood, wobbling precariously but stood all the same. He swung the lasso about his shoulder, once, twice, three times and the lasso bound the giant about the temple.
The giant roared in fury and lashed at Aron perched atop his shoulder, but Aron bunched the rope in his fist and launched himself off the giants shoulder, tumbling gracelessly down its back. “Pull!” Aron bellowed as he fell, “Pull!” The rope snapped tight like a snake, and Aron dangled down the giants spine, feeling the creature totter and stumble while his men pulled on the third rope with all their might on the other side of the giant. Finally the giant fell with an almighty groan, and Aron’s boots crunched into its back. He pulled his greatsword out and stabbed and stabbed with all his might.
Hot blood bubbled up through the giant’s tunic, and it hit the ground with a tremendous crash, very dead.
Aron stood from where he crouched on the giants back, letting g o of the rope and moving towards his men. “Well.” He grinned. “Where are our victims?”
“His name’s Elric Wynch.” The man responded.
Aron turned to where the young man named Elric sat. He was a quiet lad. Eyes like a southern storm, hair as black as a crow, and sombre, grim expression as he stared into the fire. He looked like one of the Ironborn than anyone else. He seemed to refuse to speak, and he had stayed as silent as a grave since he was brought back to the house.
“You said you all were travelling north?” Aron spoke to the man, while watching Elric like a hawk. ‘You all’, incorporated a group of four brave, yet unfortunate men they had saved from the giant, who were being tended to by Aron’s own men. The men they had rescued were garbed in bear skins and shivering like children caught in a chilly wind.
“Yes,” The man responded. “We’re Builders from the Riverlands. We were sent by our Lord Samnuel to aid Lord Brandon in raising that castle of his.”
Aron snorted. “I know Brandon personally...what’s your name?”
“Terral.” The man replied.
“As I was saying Terral.” Aron continued. “Brandon may have raised the damn wall, but he hates company and practically shuns society. I can’t imagine him asking for help.”
Terral looked uncomfortable and kept glancing at the floor and shifting his boots, as if he committed the worst act in the world. He opened his mouth and Aron saw he was about to say something, until...
“There’s no point lying Terral.”
Every face in the room turned in shock towards the source of the voice, their eyes as wide as owls.
“Everyone will find out soon enough.” Continued Elric, staring up at Terral from where he sat. The lad’s voice was deep and grinding, so unlike his appearance.
“You say Terral is lying Ser Elric.” Aron responded. “So what are you really doing way up here?”
Elric looked up at Aron with a piercing, almost defiant gaze. His grey eyes seemed to bore into Aron with a baffling stare that seemed to make him uncomfortable and fidgety.
“We’re trying to cross the wall, Master Aron.” Elric responded simply.
That was it. No more lies. Just the plain truth.
Any spell Elric had cast over the room when he spoke was abruptly abolished right then, for a cacophony of raucous laughter surged through the room, until every single person was shaking with mirth, including Aron.
“Nobody crosses the wall laddie.” Tomn called across the room. “In times like this you’ll be ripped limb from limb by a giant and end up in its belly while your heart’s still beating. Or maybe you’d....”
“Alright Tomn!” Aron laughed. “We don’t need all those damn details! Now tell me Elric. Why is it you wish to cross the wall. Like Tomn very kindly put in, it’s suicide for sure.”
“We’re searching for the Children of the Forest, Master Aron.”
Nobody laughed this time. The existence of the Children was known everywhere in Westeros. There wasn’t a child born who did not know the tale of the First Men, and how they came to these lands a hundred years ago, and made peace with the Children of the Forest. The lands were shared out between the Children and the First Men and....
Aron shook himself. He needed to question Elric, not contemplate his history. “Why is this Elric? The Children can’t shield you from the Long Night. The White Walkers........”
“I know Master Aron.” Elric interrupted. “They stretch from the North to the far south. But we don’t want their protection. We want their....”
Elric seemed to hesitate. “We want their help. We’re going ask the Children to help us end the Long Night, whatever it takes.”
Another silence. Almost deathly this time.
Aron could sense the shock in the air.
Elric glanced about him, as if he was challenging anybody to defy him.
“You’re such a fool Elric.” Tomn whispered. “Such a fool.”
Aron went to bed flooded with burning guilt. Elric seemed like he knew what he was talking about. Damn, deep inside Aron would do anything to end the Long Night, even if it meant believing some northern noblemen who appeared to Aron fighting a giant, and Aron had only known for several hours.
But surely Elric’s quest was in vain? Surely the Children of the Forest would not listen to anybody?
Aron was acting foolish. He should have thought more about his point of view before he had let Tomn refuse to help Elric. Even if Elric and his men were slaughtered once they crossed the wall, they would have died for a noble cause.
Aron sat up and leaped from his hammock.
Elric felt tears escaping down his cheeks.
What right did these men have to turn him back from his journey? If one purposefully risks their life, then others did not have a right to stop them.At least that was what Elric believed.
“Hey!” Someone hissed.
Elric blinked and turned his head. Was he imagining things?
“Hey! Elric!” Came the voice again. “Get up!”
“Who’s there?” Elric called into the darkness as he sat up.
“It’s Aron.” The voice responded. “Gather your men. We’re going on a short trip.”
The snow storm was as fierce as ever. Elric’s vision was obscured by waves of stinging snow whipping through the air, and he could hear nothing save the shrieking wind, and the fact he was scaling the damned wall made it even worse. His arms were screaming in pain, and Aron seemed miles ahead, Elric could only just make him out through the snow. No surprise since the man had lived this far north for gods know how long. Some of Elric’s men were further behind him down the wall, and some had overtaken him, but it made no difference. Elric could only focus on climbing and not plummeting to his death seven thousand feet.
“Elric!” Aron’s voice bellowed through the wind. “You’re almost there!”
Aron had obviously reached the top, and his words gave newfound strength to Elric, who hauled himself up the Wall more rapidly until his hands reached the distinctive ledge at the top. He felt Aron’s muscular arms pulling him over, until Elric stood, teetering but stood all the same.
“You alright?” Aron shouted over the wind.
“Yes!” Elric responded.
“If it weren’t for this accursed snowstorm you would be amazed by the view!” Spoke Aron. “But you don’t really care do you!”
Elric shook his head, glancing down the Wall for more signs of his men.
It took a while, but eventually everybody reached the top, awaiting Elric’s orders.
“I’ll fix this rope to the Wall Elric!” Aron shouted, as he bent down and did just that. “You’ll be able to use this to get down!”
There was an awkward silence, as both men did not know what to say in farewell.
“You’re a good man Elric.” Aron said. “I hope you find the Children.”
Elric nodded, patting Aron on the shoulder. “Keep safe and do your duty Aron, and your Warriors of the Wall.”
Aron laughed. “That’s a clever name Elric! Now be off with you!”
Elric bent down and grasped the rope with his burning cold fingers. “Everyone follow me down one at a time!” He called over the wind, to his men. “I’ll give a tug when I’m down!”
And giving a final nod to Aron, Elric vanished from sight as he went over the Wall.
But that would not be the last time they would meet.
Greenseer I’emar snapped awake from his slumber, glancing about him to assure himself of his surroundings. “He is coming to us my lord.” I’emar called out. “Elric will be with us soon.”
“That is good.” Another voice came from nearby, gruff for one of the Children of the Forest. “What of the Warriors of the Wall?”
I’emar smiled a knowing smile. “They shall play a far important part than we all realise,” He murmured. “in the future as well as the past.”