Last time in "A Song of Ice and Fire", the party reached the Wall. Ignoring Moles Town, the group delivered the letter for Jon Snow and approached Jeor Mormont. When questioned about their business beyond the Wall, Martyn kept his cool and diverted questions, using the food stocks he had brought to curry the Lord Commanders favour. He used this and the letter of Baelor to gain them access to the lands north of the Wall. Theden himself had his own work to do. Talking to Samwell Tarley, Maester Aemons steward, he spoke to the Maester himself. Aemon felt his face and recognized him immediately by his cheekbones, likening him to Rhaegar himself, though mentioning a bit of Bloodraven in him and stating that his own brother Egg and Daeron both had the same dreams of Fire and Blood. He suggested caution, as the Nights Watch was not as it once had been and had been steeped in corruption. Theden promised to be wary before heading North.
Well provisioned, well mounted, the group, with the help of Maester Dalben, travelled far North. Stopping in White Tree, the group found the village had been deserted. The Wildlings were gone and they had left in a hurry. Taking shelter later on, the groups enjoyment was cut short when the Wildlings attacked, but the stone axes and cheaply made weapons of the Wildlings was no match for the steel breastplate of Richard and the cold skill of Catherine. Half burying the bodies in the snow, the group continued farther North, deciding to pass on Crasters Keep, a dark presence touching it. Thedens visions told him of his birthright and those connected to him, including Baelor, a young girl of fourteen, a man drowned in molten gold and small girl covered in stab wounds, as well as a youth with blue hair. He also saw places marked on the map for his travels, including the Fist of the First Men.
A great blizzard blew in and the group was forced to take shelter, lest they lose Martyn to the cold. While there, their provisions running low,Theden and Catherine went hunting. In a few hours, they were able to find a deer and the group was fairly well stocked again. Another vision showed Theden they were on the right path, though he heard a song in his head that Martyn recognized as "The Bear and the Maiden Fair".
Another sight caught their eyes, a number of heart trees, hacked at the faces, almost blinding the old gods. At the base of the trees were old iron pokers and axes. Whoever had done it had left their weapons behind. Catherine went searching for a deer which she found the tracks of and was horrified to find it torn almost to pieces. A gigantic bear had slaughtered it and now was on the way towards her camp. Using her speed, she went the long way in a race and won, warning the group of the bears attacked just before it crashed into the clearing. The bear was tough, but only made of flesh and bone. It fell soon enough to the arrows of Catherine and the Valyrian steel blade of Theden.
The group arrived at the Fist. Two items lay waiting for them as they dug. One, the last key to the blade that Canmore had searched for since Kings Landing. The other, a gateway to the truth about Thedens past and the treasure trove that Baelor had discovered. The key was tucked into a hollow tree and the locked case that Richard had been carrying for so long was opened, revealing Blackfang inside. He decided to give it to Theden for safekeeping. Searching in a hollow dug in the earth, Theden found a gold box that had contained the Valyrian steel horn and a mould for an axe, perhaps the axe that would finish the trinity that he had searched for.
Another storm blew in and a brace of heart trees was the shelter. But the night was dark and full of terrors and the howling of wolves was heard in the night. But the creatures that attacked were not wolves, but direwolves! The creatures were fast, snapping and snarling at the group. Martyn was tackled and bitten at, but managed to fight the beast off. The creatures were unrelenting in their hunt for food and the group were forced to kill them. Soon after, Theden and Catherine were drawn to a whimpering noise. Two direwolf pups, male and female, were nearby and the two decided to take them for their own.
Finally, at the field of ice near Thenn, Thedens next gift was found. Digging at the base of a broken sword, the group found a hollow in the ground(which they covered themselves inside with Catherines tent and lit a fire.) A dark blue oil, unfrozen by the elements and a scroll in a glass vial were also underneath. Staring into the fire, Theden saw danger, as the candle on his part of the map was snuffed out as if by a cold wind and he heard another song. The song made him feel nervous and he ordered the group to pack up and run. However, the group was startled as a great mammoth burst from the woods where they were running. The mammoth was scared off by the archery of the group, making it crash back through the trees. Remembering the song, Martyn recognized the lyrics as "The Last of the Giants", something that did not bode well for them. The group rushed through the trees, but found themselves face to face with a giant, all white fur, square teeth and great height and he roared at them. Maester Dalben did not speak the dialect of the Old Tongue well, so Martyn supplicated himself before the beast, motioning the others to do the same. Through pantomime and speech, he was able to convince the giant to leave them be. The giant laughed at the "kneelers"and was given one of the pack horses, which he killed with a swing of his club. Preparing to ride away on his mammoth(and calling Theden "madman" as a compliment, it seemed) the giant stiffened as he sniffed something not quite right. Climbing onto it, he thundered away through the trees, not looking back. The wind began to blow harder and Theden turned....and saw them. All ten of them.
Pale skin, far too beautiful to be human. Blue eyes. Armour liked shifting ice and swords like crystal shards. The strangers put the groups teeth on edge and they ran, climbing onto their horses and rushing away. However, on foot, the strangers did not seem slowed by snow or ice or treacherous ground. If anything, it seemed to support them and they quickly caught the group. Dalben, wielding his mace, told the group to go ahead, that he would hold them off for as long as he could. Martyn said they needed him to read Valyrian for them. Dalben turned and yelled "Learn it yourself!" before charging at the pale creatures.
Realizing that the horses would not stand still against these creatures, Theden sent Richard ahead with the mounts and he, Martyn and Catherine stood ready. Seven had stayed to face Dalben, who they had lost sight of. Three were right on top of them. The creatures were fast and strong, lashing out and dancing with the swords. Catherines arrows bounced off their armour like icicles. Finally, as if by divine intervention,Thedens struck a blow with Lament, his now named sword. The creature shattered like glass before the valyrian steel. Martyn was struck a fell blow, stabbed by anothers crystal like sword, but he managed to shake off the pain and stumble away. The other two soon fell, their armour no match for the spellforged steel.
There was no sign of Dalben, but the group was forced to run(now on horseback again) for fear of the creatures, who were on their tail once more. Desperate, Theden searched for something to stop or even slow them, for they were too fast, even against their horses. Grabbing the stone, the hurricane stone that he had found in the tomb of Daeron Targaryen, he found the other symbol on it, the Sun of Dorne. Cutting his hand, he showed there was true power in kings blood as he smeared his blood upon it and hurled the stone at the pursuers. The sun burst through the clouds, blinding the pursuing beasts before a hurricane kicked up, blocking the creatures from view and giving them time to escape.
Catherine guessed the creatures identity as the Others, a race of beasts from the Long Night in the Age of Heroes, long thought to be legend and myth. Desperate to get word of this new threat to the Nights Watch and the seven kingdoms, now more than ever, they must find their way home or to the ships....before those things come back. Because they no longer have any magic stone to protect them....and they have lost something very dear to them.....
Now at the start of "A Clash of Kings", the group will be tested. Both within and without. Which side will they pick? And what shall they do upon their return to the North?
Next time, on "A Song of Ice and Fire: The Long Nights Return."