She sucked down a mouthful of the frigid air, and ▓▓▓▓▓ had half a heartbeat to glory in the taste of it and the strength of this young body before her teeth snapped together and filled his mouth with blood. She raised her hands to his face. He tried to push them down again, but the hands would not obey, and she was clawing at his eyes. *Abomination*, he remembered, drowning in blood and pain and madness. When he tried to scream, she spat their tongue out. The white world turned and fell away.
True death came suddenly; he felt a shock of cold, as if he had been plunged into the icy waters of a frozen lake. Then he found himself rushing over moonlit snows with his packmates close behind him. Half the world was dark.
Inside his cage, █████ clawed at the noose about his neck with bound hands and screamed incoherently of treachery and witchery, denying his kingship, denying his people, denying his name, denying all that he had ever been. He shrieked for mercy and cursed ▓▓▓▓▓ and began to laugh hysterically.
...“hold your tongue and open your eyes. Those are no sheep bones.” *No*, ▓▓▓▓▓ thought, *those are the bones of a child*.
Along the rotting-plank road, wooden stakes were driven deep into the boggy ground; there the corpses festered, red and dripping. *Sixty-three*, he knew, *there are sixty-three of them*. One was short half an arm. Another had a parchment shoved between its teeth, its wax seal still unbroken.
“I will kill him for you.” ▓▓▓▓▓ snatched up █████’s sword where it leaned against his shield. He still had fingers enough to clasp the hilt. When he laid the edge of the blade against the swollen throat of the creature on the straw, the skin split open in a gout of black blood and yellow pus. █████ jerked violently, then lay still. An awful stench filled the room.
“Enough,” snarled █████. “You think you can frighten ironborn with words? Begone. Run back to your master before I open your belly, pull your entrails out, and make you eat them.” He might have said more, but suddenly his eyes gaped wide. A throwing axe sprouted from the center of his forehead with a solid *thunk*. █████’s sword fell from his fingers. He jerked like a fish on a hook, then crashed face-first onto the table.
The spears were eight feet long and made of ash. The one on the left had a slight crook, but the other two were smooth and straight. At the top of each was impaled a severed head. Their beards were full of ice, and the falling snow had given them white hoods. Where their eyes had been, only empty sockets remained, black and bloody holes that stared down in silent accusation.
“The best pie you have ever tasted, my lords,” the fat lord declared. “Wash it down with Arbor gold and savor every bite. I know I shall.” True to his word, ▓▓▓▓▓ devoured six portions, two from each of the three pies, smacking his lips and slapping his belly and stuffing himself until the front of his tunic was half-brown with gravy stains and his beard was flecked with crumbs of crust.
Whether his dick had actually been yellow was hard to determine, as someone had sliced it off and stuffed it into his mouth so forcefully they had broken three of his teeth. When the cooks found him outside the kitchens, buried up to his neck in a snowdrift, both dick and man were blue from cold.
The scent of it set the horses to screaming. Dogs slid out from under the tables, sniffing. Men rose from the benches. The body in ▓▓▓▓▓’s arms sparkled in the torchlight, armored in pink frost. The cold outside had frozen his blood. “My brother ▒▒▒▒▒’s son.” ▓▓▓▓▓ lowered the body to the floor before the dais. “Butchered like a hog and shoved beneath a snowbank. A *boy*.”
Wisps of dark smoke rose from his fingers as he pointed at █████ . “That one. Cut his throat and throw him in the sea, and the winds will favor us all the way to ▓▓▓▓▓.”
“Die,” spat █████ … but as he lifted his *arakh*, its tip grazed one of the wall hangings and hung. That was all the chance ▓▓▓▓▓ required. He slashed open █████’s belly, parried the *arakh* as it wrenched free, then finished █████ with a quick thrust to the heart as █████’s entrails came sliding out like a nest of greasy eels.
When he raised his whip, he saw that the lash was burning. His hand as well. All of him, all of him was burning. *Oh*, he thought. Then he began to scream.
He never felt the fourth knife. Only the cold …
█████ was dangling a bloody corpse by one leg, the same way ▓▓▓▓▓ used to dangle her doll when she was small, swinging it like a morningstar when menaced by vegetables. *▓▓▓▓▓ never tore her dolls to pieces, though*. The dead man’s sword arm was yards away, the snow beneath it turning red.
█████ twisted his neck around to stare up at him. “Please, my lord. Mercy. I’ll … I’ll go, I will, I …” *No*, thought ▓▓▓▓▓. *You closed that door*. ▒▒▒▒▒ descended. “Can I have his boots?” asked ░░░░░, as █████’s head went rolling across the muddy ground.
Then he saw. █████ was seated at his table, his head pillowed on the great leather-bound tome before him. *Sleeping*, ▓▓▓▓▓ thought … until he blinked and saw the deep red gash in the old man’s spotted skull and the blood pooled beneath his head, staining the pages of his book. All around his candle were bits of bone and brain, islands in a lake of melted wax.