She listened to the wind howling outside her window, sounding like a wolf calling frantically to its mate. It had been snowing for three days straight and there was no sign of it letting up any time soon. The snow was piling up so quickly against the doors that Sansa often feared they would be trapped inside until spring.
She crawled under the furs and drew them around her, wishing she had the added warmth of Jon’s body to help drive away the chill which seemed to have set in her bones. She pulled out his letter from beneath her pillow and read it again:
My Dearest Sansa,
I’m so sorry, my love, but I will not be returning home any time soon. Regretfully, we are now faced with a new enemy, one that is unseen, unheard and is without mercy. The Bloody Flux came ashore with Daenerys’ army of Unsullied and now threatens us all. Many members of the Golden Company now refuse to fight alongside the Unsullied and others have already deserted. Those of the Unsullied who so far had escaped the scourge are now dying of exposure as the blowing snow and extreme cold have been unrelenting.
Daenerys and Aegon fight constantly. I have to remind them frequently as to what is at stake but to no avail. They are losing sight of the prize in the face of such hardship. Even the dragons squabble amongst themselves, no doubt a reflection of the turmoil that swirls around them.
We are isolated and alone in the wilderness, forced to be nomads in our own land. The populace nearby will not help us for fear of coming in contact with the disease. The funeral pyres burn night and day and even the maesters, who offered as much comfort as they could, are succumbing to their afflictions.
Fortunately, the provisions we brought with us will last longer than expected as there are far fewer mouths to feed than expected. And so, we move on.
There have been no sightings of any wights or the Others. Mayhaps they feel pity for us or mayhaps they are just waiting until we are too weak to fight back.
I don’t dare return to Winterfell at this time for fear of bringing the infection with me. Instead I must wait. Pray for me…pray for us all.
Your devoted husband,
Sansa bit her lip and slipped the letter back under the pillow. She slept fitfully that night, plagued by dreams of death stalking her at every turn. Eventually she gave up on sleep before the sun had risen in the sky and traipsed, bleary-eyed, to the nursery to retrieve her son.
“Come, little one”, she cooed as she lifted him from his cradle. “We are going to say a prayer for your papa”.
Accompanied by one of the sentries, Sansa trudged through the deep snow with her son held firmly in her arms. She stumbled once, pausing breathlessly to regain her balance while the guard held her arm, before pushing on.
When she reached the sept, she waited as he cleared away the snow from the door before tugging it open. The room was cold and gloomy in the early morning light.
“Shall I wait outside the door, milady?” he asked, rubbing his hands together and doing a little two-step to keep warm.
She nodded, assuring him they wouldn’t be long.
She lit a candle and picked up a bell from the altar. She placed it in Torrhen’s wee hand and smiled as he chortled with delight with the new toy.
As they sat before the altar, Sansa quietly mouthed the prayers she had been reciting since she was a child while Torrhen tinkled the little bell.
We believe in the Seven-Faced God.
The Father, the Mother, the Maiden, the Crone, the Warrior, the Smith, the Stranger.
By whom all things are made and governed.
Please hear our prayers for aid and salvation.
Please protect us in our hour of need.
Please help us vanquish our enemies, both seen and unseen.
And reunite us all once again for the greater glory.
She sat silently for a few minutes as Torrhen squirmed restlessly in her arms. Then she wrested the bell from his hand and returned it to the altar.
She wanted to feel at peace. She wondered why hope was so much harder to feel than despair. Maybe awful things are how the gods speak to us, she pondered angrily.
Then, as she stood before the altar that had been a symbol of her faith for so long, she knew that she could no longer restrain the rage that had been simmering inside her.
With a sudden sweep of her hand the artifacts of faith fell to the floor with a crash. Torrhen let out a loud wail, more from the ferocity of her action than the noise that ensued.
The guard knocked on the door.
“Come in”, gasped Sansa.
He took one look at the objects strewn about the floor and knelt down to retrieve them.
“Take them back to the castle”, she commanded him. “We are going to need to trade them for extra provisions”.
“And”, she added as she and Torrhen paused on the threshold, “please arrange for a party of men to tear down the sept as soon as the snows let up. We can burn the wood for extra fuel and the slate floor can be used to make repairs to the kitchen".
We may not make it through this winter alive, thought Sansa grimly as she waded through the drifts back to the castle. But at least we can try to make ourselves comfortable until the end is here.
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