A Game of Thrones-Chapter 48
From A Wiki of Ice and Fire
|A Game of Thrones chapter|
|Place||Castle Black - Godswood beyond the Wall|
|Page||430 US HC (Other versions)|
|Chapter chronology (All)|
Jon is disgusted to learn that he will join the stewards, not the rangers. Sam convinces him that his assignment as the Lord Commander’s steward is actually an honor meant to groom him for command. Jon and Sam go to a godswood beyond the Wall to take their vows. After they have taken their vows, Ghost returns with a hand in his jaws.
Sam excitedly tells Jon, who is eating breakfast, that he has been passed out of training and will be working for Maester Aemon; the maester needs somebody that can read and write to work in the library and with the birds. Sam is concerned about getting to the sept in time, otherwise they may change their mind.
After they arrive in the sept, all the officers arrive together. The Lord Commander makes his customary speech about taking vows and being a member of the Night's Watch. When Mormont asks if any wish to leave before taking their vows, no one does. Then Mormont asks if any of them follow the old gods and Jon speaks up. This brings whispers between the recruits about there being no godswood at the Wall. Mormont confirms that Castle Black has no need of a godswood: the Haunted Forest beyond the wall stands as it did in the Dawn Age. There is a weirwood grove half a league from the castle. It is then that Sam speaks up that he also wants to swear his vow at the Heart tree, even though he was born in the Faith of the Seven; the seven have never answered his prayers.
At the end of the ceremony, the Lord Commander announces the assignments: Halder and Albett to the builders; Grenn, Pypar, Todder, and Matthar to the rangers; Samwell, Dareon, and Jon to the stewards. Jon is flabbergasted but then he sees a smile on Ser Alliser Thorne’s face. The Lord Commander pronounces his last words and leaves. The Firsts call the recruits from each of the groups.
After the rest are gone, Bowen Marsh states that Sam will work in the library and rookery with Maester Aemon, since Chett has been reassigned to the kennels. Dareon will be sent to Eastwatch to work with the merchants. Jon will be personal steward to the Lord Commander at Mormont's request. Jon sarcastically suggests a number of duties for himself and is told “certainly” and given several more duties. When Jon asks if they take him for a servant, Maester Aemon answers that they took him for a man of the Night’s Watch.
Outside, Sam quiets Jon by telling him it means the Lord Commander probably intends to groom him to succeed him. Sam emphasizes his point by explaining that his father had once insisted that Sam be at his side for all important events but once Sam fell out of favor his father no longer cared. Suddenly Jon is ashamed; Sam has accepted his situation like a man, while he has been playing the boy. Jon admits that Sam is right and agrees to take his vows.
They proceed through the cold tunnel under the Wall and through three gates that Bowen Marsh must unlock. When they are finally outside again, Sam worries about the wildlings, but is told they have never come this close to the Wall. They are joined by an escort of rangers. Jon whistles and Ghost lopes out of the tunnel and then into the woods. The Haunted Forest is much like the Wolfswood around Winterfell, but its feel is very different, more ominous. It is dusk when they finally arrive at a clearing with nine weirwoods; a group of as many as nine weirwoods is unheard of south of the Wall. Sam looks at the faces on each of the trees, and says that he can feel the gods.
As night falls, Jon and Sam say their vows. When they are finished, Bowen Marsh declares that they knelt as boys and now to rise as men of the Night’s Watch. The gnarled forester Dywen tells them that they should be getting back because there is something in the night he dislikes. Then Ghost returns, his red eyes and white face eerily like the faces carved in the weirwoods; in his jaws is a human hand.