Nadden Posted February 12 Share Posted February 12 (edited) TL:DR This post attempts to add perspective to the events of the Prologue of AGOT using Martins language and the clues he provides. His heart stopped in his chest. For a moment he dared not breathe. They were all gone. All the bodies were gone. On a ridge, outlined nobly against the stars stood a vaulting grey-green sentinel. A cold wind rose up billowing through the branches of the great tree causing them to stir like something half-alive. Everything was just as it had been a few hours ago, including the huge double-bladed battle-axe. Waymar, spotting it, thinks... A valuable weapon to go with his fine supple coat of gleaming black ringmail. It would be his. He could see himself with his moleskin gloves holding the reins of his big black destrier, his fancy new castle-forged sword at his side and this cruel heavy-looking iron axe on his back. He would have to remove his thick sable black cloak when he rode through the gates of Castle Black. Listening to the darkness, Will could tell that there was something wrong. He couldn’t explain it. Though he could feel it. And it made his hackles rise. The uneasy nervous tension brought a bitter taste to his mouth. A taste that only the tang of his cold iron dirk comforted. Old stories of ghostly spirits had long ago given this forest it’s name. And now they filled his gut with fear. A fear like one feels after hearing the roar of a lion; except without the roar. Mother Nature was speaking. Whispering, Will says a prayer to the nameless gods of this wood. And, as he always did, unsheathes his dirk and places it between his teeth. Then, damp and muddy, Will quickly begins to ascend the great evergreen as Ser Waymar Royce had commanded. His hands are soon sticky with sap and the cold wind was cutting through him. In his haste, he becomes disoriented and lost among the needles. The strange indigestible fear was growing worse and more intense. He continues to climb, looking for the light of a fire. Moonlight, from a half-moon now full risen, shone down on an empty clearing. Down below, cavalier with his sword in hand, Waymar enters the abandoned campsite. He heads toward the huge double-bladed battle-axe, still lying on the ground baiting him. His splendid looking sword seized the light and led the way. There were three sapphires fixed on the hilt. The gems captured the moon’s light. They burned deep with a icy blue fire. They cast pale lights in the shape of its many facets. Out of the corner of his eye, pale shapes dapple and glided through the darkness. Unable to discern the source of it, Will attempts to call down a warning. But the words froze in his throat. However, when he opens his mouth the dirk he was biting on, unknowingly falls. The blade in his mouth, keeping his hands free for climbing; the one giving him comfort is lost. “Better a knife”, he had warned Waymar. “A longsword will tangle you up.” The irony here is rich. The longsword that might have tangled a person up, because of the trees pressing so close, is instead a knife which falls, threading its way through the thicket to the lower branches of the great green sentinel where Waymar had gained the ridge, where he had slashed at the branches. The Old Gods of this wood will now have revenge. The lower branches of the great green sentinel shed their burden of snow with a soft thud. Plop! Waymar spun. Will, turning his head searches. His eyes sweep back-and-forth. Will glimpses a shadow. He saw white in the darkness. And then nothing. Waymar calls out suddenly, “Who goes there?” Time halts. Uncovered with no whiskers, Waymar’s face is unshadowed and awash with moonlight. His image is briefly caught in a reflection on the smooth black surface of a huge naturally occurring black stone mirror made of obsidian. A clear sheet of ice had formed over the great stone. Soot from a near by fire pit had covered its’ surface before the frost. For a moment, the image of Waymar’s face appears gaunt and hard as old bones, with flesh as pale as milk in the stone. And then it was gone. His longsword’s image, when seen edge-on does like his face as it turns. It vanishes. But at the right angle it’ll become alive with moonlight. His sword, bathed in the moon’s light, will appear to be a shimmering blue, thin, translucent, shard of crystal, with a ghostly light playing around its’ edge. Will thinks to himself, “It’s sharper than any razor”. Waymar’s cloak, hair and gloves conceal the rest of him. They absorb the moon’s light making him nearly invisible in the stone. His reflection makes no sound. The sound that Waymar hears is directly behind him. Suddenly wary he calls up, “Will, Where are you? Can you see anything?”. Turning in a slow circle he sees nothing yet. But Will felt the presence of others watching. Yet he to saw nothing. “Answer me! Why is it so cold?”, Waymar demanded. He absent mindedly allows his cloak to open, letting the cold in. Intensely, they listen all around. The woods give answer: the rustle of leaves, the icy rush of the stream, the distant hoot of an owl. Will recognizes the hoot, a snow owl. Then while perched in a tree, thinks he sees a bird. Is this a coincidence? Or is he simply seeing just another reflection? Perhaps he’s becoming a lunatic as he starts to suspect that the moonlight is playing tricks on him. Perhaps it’s all of the above. It doesn’t seem to matter now. The wheels of this scene have been put into motion by an ambitious, materialistic, inexperienced, fool. And a tired and cold, young ranger with his lucky dagger(unlucky). Still turning, Waymar throws his long sable cloak back over his shoulders, to free his arms for battle, and took his sword in both hands. Royce spots his reflection, tall it was. He exhales in a long steady breath. He is readying himself. Eagerly looking for battle, he doesn’t realize that he’s seeing his own reflection. Embarrassingly, his voice cracks as he warns the image, "Come no farther.” His armor now visible in the stone is changing colors as he moves; here it was white as new-fallen snow, there black as shadow, everywhere dappled with the deep grey-green of the trees so it seemed. The patterns ran like moonlight on water with every step he took. The wind stops. Both Waymar and his reflection halting, the young knight thinks that this is his moment. Looking like a man of the Night’s Watch, a boy no longer, he stands with his sword lifted high overhead, defiant. It’s the stance of a Warrior. The position is a challenge. The pose is an invite. It signals to one’s opponent that he is ready to do battle, ready to dance. His reflection appears to be ready also. The style of this fight is known to be called the “Warrior’s Dance”. The pose lasts for serval moments. Waymar is thinking, he would not let fear paralyze him. His fear will inform him. It doesn’t. The gaunt figure appears to accept his challenge. Next Waymar thinks, fear will quicken him. Will, still looking down, mistakes the two sapphires in the guard of Waymar’s hilt for the eyes of the Other Waymar. He mistakes Waymar’s challenge for hesitation. He sees hesitation in the Other Waymar. It is in that moment, for a heart beat, that he dares to hope. Waymar would weaponize his fear and accomplish the mission. And now it begins. “Dance with me then!”, says Waymar bravely. The watchers emerged form the shadows. Three of them…four…five…Waymar may have felt them, but he never saw them, never heard them. All around him, the watchers stood patient, faceless, silent, the shifting patterns of their delicate armor making them all but invisible in the wood. They were the Children of the Forest. They had set a trap to scare away any would be intruders. They made no move to interfere. Will had to call out. It was his duty. And his death, if he did. He didn’t. Will sees, the sword in the stone, pale as milkglass, alive with moonlight come shivering through the air. The blades came together in a rush of steel and shadow. There was no ring of metal on metal; only a high, thin sound at the edge of hearing, like nails on a chalkboard or an animal screaming in pain. Royce, like his shadow, checked a second blow, and a third, then fell back a step. Another flurry of blows, and he fell back again. His reflection matches his every timely move. Again and again the swords meet, until Will wanted to cover his ears against the strange anguished keening of their clash. Ser Waymar was panting from the effort now, his breath steaming in the moonlight. His blade was white with frost. The tip of his sword had dipped into the little half-frozen stream as he began to break form and tire. With each flurry the their swords danced with pale blue light. Then Royce’s parry seemingly comes a beat to late. Royce, blind with exhaustion, doesn’t see the piercing blow. Will’s eyes go to Waymar as he cries out. Royce had not given notice to the snow-covered lean-to. The stab beneath his arm had come not from his reflection but from a dead branch or reed used to support the skin of a dead animal. The lean-to had been put up against the great rock and was lying in wait. His legs weary, had made a misstep. Blood welled between the rings. It steamed in the cold, and the droplets seemed red as fire where they touched the snow. Ser Waymar's fingers brushed his side. His moleskin glove came away soaked with red. Will thinks, “Now it ends.” and presses his face hard against the trunk of the sentinel. Lifting his frost-covered longsword Waymar snarls and finds his fury. "For Robert!" he shouts. With both hands he swings his sword around in a flat sidearm slash with all his weight behind it. Will, watching the reaction of Waymar’s reflection doesn’t see fatigue. He sees a playful laziness as the blades meet again. And when the blades touch the ice cracks. Will, hearing the ice crack like that on a winter lake, believes he’s listening to a language unknown to him. He believes it to be mocking Waymar’s last words, “For Robert!”, still echoing in his head. Waymar’s sword shatters. The pieces of ice and metal mix to form a rain of needles. And a scream echoes through the forest. Royce goes to his knees, shrieking, he covers his eyes, as blood wells between his fingers. The Children of the Forest, the watchers, move in. Royce's body lay facedown in the snow, one arm out-flung. They see that the shards had slashed through Waymar’s soft sable cloak in a dozen places. Ironically, he lies there, not in a warrior’s pose, but in child’s pose. A boy. The high-pitched sharp emotionless chatter of their voices was something akin to laughter in Will’s head. They had not butchered Waymar but tried to help him. Will had missed it. He had closed his eyes soon after they had moved in. His fear had misinformed him. When he found the courage to look again, a long time had passed, they were gone. Will had stayed in the tree, scarce daring to breathe, while the moon crept slowly across the black sky. Finally, his muscles cramping and his fingers numb with cold, he climbed down. Now Waymar, regaining consciousness and hearing Will approach, lies in wait. He would have his revenge on the brother that abandoned him. Will found what was left of the sword a few feet away, the end splintered and twisted like a tree struck by lightning. Will knelt, looked around warily, and snatched up by the blade end or what was left of it.. The broken sword would be his proof of the prophecy. But Will didn’t know that. Gared knew. And so did that old bear Mormont and Maester Aemon. Would Gared still be waiting with the horses? He had to hurry. Will rose. Ser Waymar Royce, his fine clothes a tatter, stood over him,. The pommel of the hilt between their faces. It never came into Will’s focus. His focus went to Waymar’s left eye. It was transfixed with a shard from his sword. It was blind and colorless. Blood ran like tears down his face. Will mistakes the icy blue fiery gem in the pommel for his right eye. But Waymar saw. He was looking at it with his one good eye. In his arrogance and need to feel important he had not considered what the sapphires would do in the moonlight. The blood on his gloves was evidence of the tricks that moonlight can play on one’s mind. The blood was black and not red from an effect he didn’t understand. Waymar didn’t know it but the Children of the Forest only intended to scare him away with their little trap; but he ignored his fear. But none of this would excuse Will. Waymar was a failure on his first ranging and there would be no witness. Will, thoughts frozen in fear, closed his eyes to pray. The broken sword fell from his nerveless fingers. At one point, Waymar had thought Will handsome. Now his fingers brushed Will’s cheek, like soft silk. And then closed around his throat. They were gloved in the finest moleskin and sticky with blood, yet the touch was icy cold. It was cold butchery. Edited February 13 by Nadden Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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