A Game of Thrones-Prologue

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Prologue
A Game of Thrones chapter
AGameOfThrones.jpg
POVWill
PlaceHaunted forest
PageUS HC (Other versions)
Chapter chronology (All)
 ← Prologue → Bran I

Three rangers of the Night's Watch track a group of wildling raiders beyond the Wall, until they encounter the Others for the first time in 8,000 years.

Synopsis

Night's Watch rangers Gared and Will and their commander, Ser Waymar Royce, are tracking a band of wildling raiders in the haunted forest nine days north of the Wall. Gared is uneasy, but Waymar makes light of his fears. Gared insists that they should turn back because, according to Will, the wildlings are dead. Waymar asks Will again for the details of what he saw.

Will explains that he saw the wildlings' encampment. Their lean-to was covered by snow, they had no fire, and none of the wildlings moved the entire time he was watching. They were lying on the ground as if dead, but no blood was visible. There was also a woman up in a tree, but she didn't move either. Gared suggests the wildlings must have been killed by the cold, but Waymar points out that the weather has not been cold enough to freeze men like that. He asks Will to lead them to the dead men.

With night falling, the rangers ride to the camp. Both Will and Gared sense something is wrong, but Waymar mocks them again and commands Gared to stay behind to guard the horses. Gared suggests starting a fire, but Waymar sardonically orders him not to. Will fears that Waymar's insolence will provoke Gared into drawing his sword, but Gared eventually acquiesces and no fire is lit.

Will and Waymar climb up the ridge, Waymar much noisier than Will. When Will reaches his previous vantage point, he sees that the bodies are gone. Waymar, walking upright, reaches the top of the ridge and stands in plain sight. Will warns Waymar to get down, but Waymar just laughs. After declaring that he will find the wildlings before returning to the Wall, Waymar orders Will to climb a tree and look for fires.

Will reluctantly climbs a nearby sentinel tree. Below him, Waymar challenges an unseen foe. Will thinks he sees a white shadow moving below, but is not sure. He is about to call down a warning, but stops, unsure. Waymar calls to Will with unease in his voice as he turns in a circle with his sword drawn. Then Waymar asks about the sudden cold, which Will also feels.

Waymar Royce faces off against an Other. (art by Jon Neimeister)

An Other emerges from the woods: tall, gaunt, and white, dappled with a gray-green shimmer. Waymar nervously commands it to come no further and prepares himself for battle. More Others appear among the trees. The sword of the first Other is made of inhumanly-sharp translucent crystal. Waymar is able to check the oncoming blows until his parry comes a bit too late and the Other’s sword cuts through the mail under Waymar’s arm. Waymar screams, “For Robert!” and charges, but as his blade strikes the Other's sword, it shatters. One of the shards hits Waymar's left eye and he falls to his knees, blinded. All of the Others move in and slash at him mercilessly.

Will turns his head away for a long time before looking back to see that the Others are gone. Will climbs down, examines Royce's body, then picks up the knight's twisted and broken sword. He decides to bring it back to show to their commanders, hoping Gared is still with the horses. Then Waymar stands up, his remaining eye burning blue. His hands go around Will's throat and his touch is icy cold.

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