October 28, 2018
The Free Folk seek sanctuary. Jon struggles with his dragon. Sam reads about heroes.
EXT. CASTLE BLACK COURTYARD - DAY
NW BROTHER (O.S.)
Open the gates!
DOLOROUS EDD stands just inside the gates of Castle Black, as two NW BROTHERS open the gates.
Edd steps through the gates and looks out. A stunned expression comes over his face.
Edd's POV: a gathering of about four thousand WILDLINGS is assembled in a great crowd -- the entirety of the surviving Free Folk. In front of them stand TORMUND and BERIC.
Tormund steps forward.
May we come in?
EXT. CASTLE BLACK COURTYARD - LATER
Tormund walks through the courtyard of Castle Black, which is now packed to the brim with wildling children, new mothers, and old people. The squalling of babies and other noise fills the air. He checks on a few people as he passes.
Tormund ascends a set of stairs, on his way to the Lord Commander's chamber.
We crane up and see a sprawling wildling encampment outside the gates, for all the people who can't fit within the walls of Castle Black.
INT. CASTLE BLACK - LORD COMMANDER'S CHAMBER - DAY
Edd sits at his table, reading a raven scroll.
(re: raven scroll)
We got a raven from Last Hearth.
The castle's fallen. The Night King's dragon blasted the walls and the dead overran the place. But it says the people got away, at least. Fled to Winterfell. Except whatever poor sod sent this.
Have you heard from Winterfell?
Edd nods glumly.
They're preparing for attack. Jon thinks the dead will hit Karhold next. Then Winterfell in a week or so. They'll try to bring down the Night King's dragon when they do, if they can.
Tormund absorbs all that. He pulls up a chair in front of Edd's table and sits.
Our fighters are dead. Most all of them. But. When you came to us at Hardhome, we promised Jon we would stand beside him when the fight came. It's here now. What does he want us to do?
Edd sets down the scroll and gazes dolorously at Tormund.
EXT. WINTERFELL - BROKEN TOWER - PRE-DAWN
A camping bedroll lies in the snow, heaped with thick furs, dusted with a layer of fresh snowfall.
RHAEGAL'S snout appears and pushes at it. No response. The dragon pushes again, rumbling petulantly.
Movement, then a head of tousled bed-hair emerges from the end of the bedroll. It's JON SNOW, lying buried under the furs.
He lifts his head a few inches and squints at the sky. It's still a dark pre-dawn, though the eastern horizon is just barely beginning to show some color.
Rhaegal noses him again, and Jon pushes his snout away.
Rhaegal rolls Jon over with his snout -- bedroll, furs, and all. He snorts into Jon's face, making him squeeze his eyes shut against the hot smelly breath. Rhaegal growls more loudly and insistently.
Jon opens his eyes and huffs a sigh.
A sheep steps through the snow. Jon is leading a ram by the horns. He looks half-asleep, disheveled, and like he hasn't bathed in a week.
Jon walks up to Rhaegal with the ram. Rhaegal eagerly blasts it with fire, forcing Jon to jump away from the flames.
Rhaegal grabs the singed ram with his teeth and shakes it like a dog shaking a rabbit.
Roast me, and you won't get lunch.
Rhaegal starts feeding on the ram, as Jon watches him blearily.
Jon's POV: Rhaegal's teeth rip into the ram. Our gaze travels along the crest of the dragon's neck, up to the spot atop his shoulders where a rider would sit.
Jon stares up at that spot.
He walks slowly to where Rhaegal's wing meets his body and pauses there, facing his tail. Rhaegal's shoulders are hunched low as he eats. Jon lays one hand against the dragon's neck and looks back over his shoulder to gauge his reaction. Rhaegal looks back at him, swallows, then continues feeding, seemingly unconcerned.
Jon pauses a moment longer. Then he places his other hand on the wing joint and hoists himself upward.
At that, Rhaegal turns his head and lifts his shoulder high, leaving Jon hanging onto the wing joint by his hands. Rhaegal makes a confused noise, like a draconic "...what are you doing?"
Jon tries to hang on. He does a pull up, grabs for one of Rhaegal's back spikes, misses, and drops back down to the ground, rolling backward into a heap. He pushes himself into a sitting position, panting and covered in snow. He looks up at where he'd dropped from, then over to Rhaegal's face.
Rhaegal makes another confused noise and picks up the sheep carcass in his teeth. He shuffles around so that his tail is presented to Jon, and resumes eating.
You're making progress.
Jon turns and sees SAMWELL TARLY watching from some distance away. Sam is holding a tray with food steaming on it. Jon walks toward him.
You'll get it. You've only been at it a week.
Which means I'm halfway out of time.
You'll get it.
Jon and Sam sit on a bench under a cloth awning. Sam hands him the food: a hot stew of some sort and some bread. Jon tears off a piece of the bread and dips it in the stew.
I still can't believe you're a prince.
Don't call me that.
Whatever you say, your grace.
You shouldn't talk with your mouth full. It's not very regal.
Jon flicks a splat of stew into Sam's face with his spoon. Sam laughs. Jon smiles, and resumes eating.
How's your work coming?
Slowly as well. These old texts... they read more like songs or myths than proper histories. It's a lot of work trying to sort out anything useful from them.
Mm, maybe someone will write a song about us one day. If the dead don't kill every person alive.
About you maybe. I'm not really hero material.
Who says you're not?
Every song ever written says I'm not. Every hero is a swordy adventure type.
"Swordy adventure type."
In the Westerosi legends of the Long Night, there's a man they called "the last hero." It's said that he went searching for the Children of the Forest... that he had a sword, a horse, a dog, and a dozen companions.
In the legends from the far east, there's a hero from Asshai called Azor Ahai. It's said that he forged a legendary sword called Lightbringer, and to forge it, he plunged the hot blade into the living heart of his beloved wife.
Jon stops chewing, looking disturbed.
Blood magic, supposedly. It's said that her soul combined with the steel, and with this blade he was able to kill White Walkers.
Jon... I think Lightbringer must have been Valyrian steel. If that's true, then Valyrian steel was invented much earlier than previously thought. Isn't that interesting?
Jon looks down at Longclaw, hanging on his hip.
...does that mean every Valyrian steel sword was--
Plunged into a loving wife's heart? I don't think so. References to Valyrian steel don't really become commonplace until thousands of years later. And there's no further mention of... that technique. They must've found other ways by then.
But I just think it's so interesting that perhaps Valyrian steel was originally invented for the express purpose of defeating White Walkers.
Jon is beginning to lose interest in this tangent.
And after all these years, history (has forgotten its origins--)
We already know Valyrian steel kills Walkers, Sam. Have you found anything useful in your books?
Sam pauses, considering.
Would you consider prophecies to be useful?
Am I about to hear one?
In Asshai, there's a very old prophecy that Azor Ahai would be reborn one day. The one who stabbed his wife in the heart. I copied it down.
He takes a scrap of paper from inside his coat. It's torn from the corner of a larger piece of paper, giving it a distinctive, irregular triangle shape. We linger on Jon's face as Sam reads.
"There will come a day after a long summer when the cold breath of darkness falls heavy on the world. In this dread hour a warrior shall draw from the fire a burning sword. That sword shall be Lightbringer, and he who clasps it shall be Azor Ahai come again, and the darkness shall flee before him."
We're still watching Jon's face.
They make it sound so simple.
This prophecy means nothing to Jon. Whatever significance it has to us is lost on him. He resumes eating.
The part that's ridiculous to me is this fixation on one hero. All the legends of the Long Night claim that one hero rose up and led all the world's people to victory. But that can't possibly be true. Asshai is about as far away from Westeros as it's possible to be. There's no way this Azor Ahai could be the same as this Westerosi hero, with the horse, and the dog. It's absurd.
Jon smiles at how worked up Sam seems to be getting over this point.
So nothing useful, then.
Sam hesitates uncertainly.
There was one other thing.
Jon looks at him expectantly.
...I could be misinterpreting. These texts are so old that it's like reading a different language.
What is it, Sam?
I keep finding references to "The Fourteen." It's never explained what that means. But they seem to use "The Fourteen" interchangeably with "White Walkers."
Jon furrows his brow, thinking.
How many White Walkers are there, do you suppose?
More than that, surely.
I suppose the number could have grown in the last eight thousand years.
Jon frowns more deeply, thinking hard.
Keep reading, Sam.