Hour of the Wolf

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    It was all so impossibly hard to believe. She stood on the edge of a square tower, overlooking the fields of golden trees and leaves falling to the gentle grasses below, or what would have been if the Knights of the Vale hadn't risen arms and camped in such open spaces. Everywhere she looked from her view atop the Gates of the Moon, banners fluttered pale in the wind like shreds of low-hanging cloud and she knew all of their sigils well. A portcullis in front of a crescent moon, a broken wheel on a field of green, three ravens holding three scarlet hearts--so many had come when Lord Robert called, and whatever Petyr had said to the child to convince him to call the banners remained a mystery to Sansa Stark.

    A rush of icy air whipped by, and the ginger maiden clutched her cloak about her to stay protected from the cold. Autumn still had it's gentle touch among the lands of the south, but the winter winds were rising and each day felt more and more threateningly frigid. It bothered her that so many knights and good, honest men might suffer the cruel fates of the North once their march began, but she knew the ways of survival having grown up in summer snows and would offer her assistance wherever she could. Sansa looked out to the rising sun in the East and lifted her hand to shield her eyes from its sleepy fury, and as each minute passed she wondered how long her supposedly loyal knights would wait for her. Gulltown sleeps to the east and the Fingers just north of there, she thought in a haze of lost hopes and anxiety. If I run fast enough, could I make it?

    "Your Grace," came the deep sound of Nestor Royce's tone. She turned to see him. "It is time we started the journey North."

    "North," she repeated, as if the word would dissolve on her lips and fall out of memory and time, lost to the ages, spoken into death on the lips of a maiden queen. "Where are we stopping along the way?"

    "Riverrun, most likely. I've heard it said that the Blackfish escaped and Lord Edmure surrendered the castle to whatever Frey has decided to hold it now."

    The Freys. Sansa felt the hair on her neck stand straight. "We will free it and give my uncle back his seat, and the Lady Roslin as well, if I hear her testimony about my brother and mother's murders and decide that she is innocent." She turned back to the mass of men at arms, willing to lay their swords at her feet on the word of a sick child. How many men did Robb have? she wondered. How many betrayed him?

    "As you command, my queen. But we should leave soon. Lord Petyr is at the head of the garrison and Lord Robert with him."

    "And Harry will remain here, to rule in Robin's stead?"

    "Yes, my lady."

    "Good." Sansa took a deep breath, keeping her hands clutched together to avoid drawing attention to how much they had been trembling. It was Robb who did this, it is he who should be here commanding an army and sending men to die, it is he who deserves the crown of the North more than I. So many decisions would rest on her shoulders now, so many lives, and the freedom of a kingdom that her brother died to defend.

    I must be brave, Sansa knew. Brave like Robb.

    She picked up her violet skirts and turned to leave, following Lord Royce down spiral stone steps and through the longhall, out through the Gates of the Moon and into the camp which had pledged itself to Northern allegiance. Twenty thousand men in the east alone had banded together on the whim of her Sweetrobin, her aunt Lysa's only child who was sick with the shakes and frequent fevers. Petyr had said that the child wouldn't last more than another year at most. That being said, the gods had proven the mysterious ways of their work. It wouldn't surprise Sansa if Robert lived to be fifty, or died tomorrow.

    When she walked through the camp with Nestor at her side, the men at the edges of the pathways bowed when she walked by, greeting her in manners that only befit a queen. Sansa didn't feel like one--she had no king, no mother or father, no sisters or brothers or children. Her kingdom had burned and bathed in the blood of betrayal. She smiled to the men who spoke so highly of her all the same, a little piece of her old self still clinging to the fragments of what the Lannisters left behind, but deep down Sansa would always harbor fear. If I die, the North has nothing left. I can't leave them to the Boltons. I won't. She had thought about sending a letter off to Jon Snow and asking for his support, perhaps if she could grant him clemency for his desertion of the Night's Watch and give him a Stark name, but that would have to wait. She couldn't risk having a bird be intercepted along the King's Road, not with that information. Jon would be dead in a fortnight and then she would be alone, the last of a family of seven, of a line that stretched back eight thousand years. The last of the wolves.

    "Are you ready, Your Grace?" Petyr asked with that crooked smile of his. Robin smiled brightly when he saw Sansa, and she couldn't resist returning the gesture.

    "I am," she replied, looking forward to the road ahead with indignation burning in her gentle soul. "Let us march."
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