Jon fixed his eyes on the sword as he twisted it back and forth.
“It definitely emits a red glow. But it’s not constant…only intermittent”, he said as he returned the sword to its scabbard.
Sansa looked up from her embroidery.
“How does it make you feel knowing you might be the reincarnation of Azor Ahai?” she asked with a smile playing on her lips.
Jon made a face as he plopped down on a nearby chair.
“Honestly? I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel”, he sighed. He buried his face in his hands for a few seconds before looking up bleary-eyed.
“Ask me again when my head stops pounding”, he added.
Sansa resumed her stitching while trying not to laugh.
Jon rose again when he heard the knocking at the door.
“You sent for me?” asked Sam, leaning on the door frame. He looked worse than Jon. His eyes were bloodshot, his mouth hung open slackly and spittle clung to his beard.
After he followed Jon into the room and sat down next to him, Sansa pushed a tray of sweets towards Sam.
“Lemon cakes?” she asked pleasantly.
Sam looked uncomfortable.
“Perhaps later”, he replied. “I’m experiencing some digestive upset just now”.
Sansa sat back and decided it was time to stop tormenting the two of them and get down to the business at hand.
“I’ve decided to call the banners”, she announced without preamble. “The northern lords need to stop hiding behind the walls of their keeps. The dragons are finished…there will be no divine intervention by some fiery creature descending from the firmament. The cold reality is that the realm has abandoned us. And since they will not send men and provisions to help us then we will have to rescue ourselves from the unchecked advances of the Others”.
“Besides the northern lords”, she continued, “I will reach out to my cousin, Robert, and my Uncle Edmure to send help. Also, I will instruct Edmure to send the Blackfish to Greywater Watch to seek support from the Reeds. He is likely the only living person outside of Greywater who knows how to find Howland Reed”.
She directed her gaze at Sam.
“Are you willing to reach out to your brother, Dickon, for help from Horn Hill?” she asked.
Sam swallowed and nodded.
“Now that our father is dead I believe we can speak to one another again”, he replied hoarsely.
Her face softened.
“Tell him to send whatever he can…his future as well as ours depends on it”, she said.
She turned to Jon.
“You will remind the Iron Bank that they have a significant stake already in this war. If they want to see a return on their investment then they had better make sure that we are properly funded for the long night ahead”.
Jon nodded and reached out to take her hand.
“What about Dorne?” he asked softly.
Sansa stiffened in surprise. Her initial response had been to ask who in sunny, southern Dorne would care enough to send help to the besieged inhabitants of bleak, northern Westeros. Then it dawned on her and jealousy rose like bile in her throat.
“Arianne”, she spat out. “I didn’t realize you still spoke to her”.
“I don’t”, he replied defensively. “I haven’t since we left Kings Landing”.
Jon and Sansa met Arianne Martell not long after their engagement had been announced. They had travelled to Kings Landing at the behest of crown to discuss a number of issues affecting both the north and the south. Jon’s curiosity about the country of his birth led to long conversations with the beautiful and sultry princess of Dorne.
As soon as they passed through the city gates, all the horrible memories of the city that Sansa hoped were buried forever came bubbling to the surface…the almost daily beatings, her father’s death and her forced marriage to the king’s uncle. This led to sleepless nights and troubled days.
Sansa’s insecurities eroded her self-confidence and her trust in Jon. She grew irrationally jealous of the more cool and composed Arianne and her easy way with men, especially Jon. When she confronted him about her fears he was initially taken aback by her confession. But then he surprised her.
“We’ll take our leave tomorrow”, he said. “I will make the arrangements this evening”.
They left the next morning, never, she hoped, to return.
But now, in the face of imminent danger, she realized that she needed to put away her petty and unwarranted emotions.
“Just ignore me, Jon…her name alone evokes feelings in me that I’m not proud of. Arianne is a powerful and influential woman. And we need all the support we can get. Tell her…tell her to speak to Myrcella on our behalf. Maybe Myrcella can convince that childish brother of hers to stop disregarding our pleas for help”, she replied with contrition.
“He’s childish, Sansa, because he is still a child”, responded Jon leaning forward, “easily controlled by his mad, manipulative mother and his murderous, overbearing grandfather”.
Sansa snorted in exasperation.
“And that is why children should not be allowed to ascend to the throne”, she said with disgust in her voice. “What good is a ruler who spends his days playing with his cats and goes to bed before nightfall because he’s afraid of the dark? Myrcella needs to tell him to grow a pair”.
Jon and Sam exchanged looks of amusement. Then they both rose to take their leave to attend to their respective tasks.
Sansa retreated to the glass gardens to restore balance to her emotions. When Sam found her she was elbow deep in muck. He waved a piece of paper in her direction.
“Read it to me”, she said, blowing at an errant tendril of hair that had fallen in her face.
“It’s from Jon Connington”, he began.
“I thought he was dead”, interrupted Sansa.
Sam gave her a look before continuing.
“He says that recently he had been hearing complaints of a fearsome winged creature stealing livestock near his home on Griffin’s Roost. He finally sent an envoy to investigate who returned to confirm the sighting of a large, green dragon”.
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