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Hardhome

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Hardhome

 

Lucerys Velaryon had the documents written and signed by the notary, and was on his way with the carriage to Winterfell, with his son Monford driving the carriage, to get them to safety. Monford was the only one he trusted now regarding the documents, and who had to be aware of them. That is why he asked Monford to drive the carriage himself.

Outside it was late night, and thunder was heard in the skies.

When they entered the fog, Lucerys saw a frightening sparrow with the pumpkin on its head, which was looking towards him and Lucerys had a strange feeling. But maybe it was the situation he was in that was worrying him, especially considering the importance of these documents that he had with him.

Lucerys sighed, closing his eyes, and felt a mighty thunder in the sky, and Monford increasing the speed of the horses.

As the carriage was traveling, he heard gallops coming from behind their carriage, and when they crossed a small hill, Lucerys heard the neighing of the horse, as whatever was behind them, surpassed on their right.

Lucerys looked towards the window of the carriage on the right, but there was nothing. As he looked around he heard the horse's neighing again, and then the drawing of a sword, from above the carriage. Leaning out of the right door, Lucerys looked upwards and saw his headless son, Monford.

The panic took over his body, and as the carriage kept moving, with his headless son, Lucerys jumped out of the carriage. Then he began to run towards the cornfield, but without losing sight of what was behind him.

Once inside the camp, Lucerys stopped to look behind him in panic, trying to take some breath, and then start running again, arriving in front of a scarecrow, and falling to the ground for the scare. He looked upwards, seeing the big pumpkin that was the head of the scarecrow, and the horrible expression he saw on it. Then he heard the neighing of the horse again and the drawing of a sword. When he turned around Lucerys was shocked by what he saw and the last thing he heard was a hot blade cut off his head.

 


 

Winterfell 1799

 

It was a cold and foggy night, and the silence of the city brought dread to the hearts of those who passed through these places. Winterfell was a huge city, the capital of the North, and one of the most crowded cities on this continent, and one in which there have been more crimes committed recently, because of the southern comings.

And now Jon was heading towards the river, from which a murder was reported, or more precisely the disappearance of a person. That river usually connected Winterfell with the sea and was created several centuries ago. In these periods of the year, when the winter was coming, however, the river was being closed, and as a result, the level of the enclosed river was increasing.

Jon was a young constable from Winterfell, sympathetic if he could say, despite not having a wife yet, preferring science to women, or because he didn't find the right one, and is therefore eager to integrate the modern science into the police procedures. He doesn't know, however, why he chose this job, considering that he is squeamish at the sight of blood and insects. Perhaps it was because of the death of his mother, and the cruelty suffered as a child, and the desire to help others and solve the mysteries of this world.

Once on the pier, Jon began to inspect saw something begin to surface, and then rang the police warning bell.

" Help her! Land a hand her. Anyone?" Jon shouted out loud, continuing to ring the bell.

"Constable Snow. Jon Snow. Is it you?" asked one of the cops who ran towards him.

"Yes," Jon answered, turning a bit to the side to see them standing at the entrance to the dock with their guns in their hands. "And not only me. I found something. Which was lately a man."

The two patrols approached, and pulled the body out of the water and then took it to the police barracks, or rather to the morgue of the police barracks, and Jon followed them. He intended to discover the cause of the man's death using the modern science if his superiors will approve.

 


 

When he arrived at the barracks, the body that was on a cart was carried inside, and while he was carrying it, Janos Slynt stopped in front of his superior, Alliser Thorne, who said with disgust, "Burn it."

"Yes, sir," replied Slynt with a smirk on his lips as he carried the body away.

Jon immediately stepped forward and said, "With your permission, we do not yet know the cause of his death."

"When we find him in the river, the cause of death is drowning," Thorne replied, with disdain for him. He knew that Thorne was against him since he became constable, and when he began to make suggestions to introduce the modern science, against which Thorne was contrary.

"It is possible, if there is water in the lungs," said Jon quickly glancing toward the body, "but with the pathology, we might be able to establish if he was already dead before he ended up in the river." And while Thorne was watching him, with one hand leaning against the staircase, and the other on his side, Jon added so that Thorne could not stop him, "I'll have to examine the dead body."

"Cut him? Are we heathens?" Thorne asked, making it seem like a question, even though it wasn't.

Their conversation was interrupted when two constables brought a man, beaten and perhaps drunk, in front of Thorne who asked, "What happened to him?"

" Nothing sir. He's arrested for robbery." Thorne nodded and instructed the constables to take him away, and they threw him in a cell, downward, and the man screamed.

"Well done!" exclaimed Thorne and then turned around and left, leaving Jon speechless, for a moment, by this barbarity.

 


 

The next morning Jon headed to the municipal watch hall to attend a trial, and present his ideas again, and standing before the judge he said, "The millennium is almost upon us. In a few months, we will be living in the nineteenth century, yet our courts still rely on medieval devices of torture."

"Stand down!" shouted Thorne, but Jon proudly, a believer in his ideas, replied, "I stand up for sense and justice.

"Our jails overflowed with people convicted of non-value confessions as this one," replied Jon, quite angry, waving the piece of paper in his hand, and turning to those present at the trial, while Thorne as Thorne slammed the wooden hammer on the counter to shut him up.

"Constable Snow," said Judge Jeor Mormont, "This is a song that we have heard from you more than once. Now, there are two courses in front of me." He said, taking his breath away, and then added, " First, I can get you cool your ideas in a cell," and Jon looked down annoyed, and then returning his attention to the judge, "until you learn respect for the dignity of my office."

"I beg your pardon. But why am I the only one who thinks that to solves crimes, to detect the guilty, we must use our brains, to recognize vital clues using the most recent scientific techniques?"

"Which brings me to the second course. There is a town hidden, four days journeying to the North, between the mountains and the nearest forests. It's a place called Hardhome," said the judge with a grin, " Have you heard of it?"

"I have not," replied Jon, shaking his head, continuing to stay straight and with his arms behind his back. But just by hearing the name of that village and the way the judge said it, Jon knew there was nothing good about it.

"An isolated farming community, mainly from the south of Westeros, but which was founded by the wildlings 1400 years ago in honor of the massacre of its namesake. Three persons have been killed there. All within two weeks. Each one was found with the head lopped off," said Mormont, even making the gesture with his finger to his neck.

"Lopped of?" asked Jon disgusted, and feeling like a bitterness in his mouth at the thought of seeing such a thing.

"Clean as dandelion has been, apparently. You will take these experimentations of yours to Hardhome, and there you will find the murderer. Bring him here, to face our good justice. Will you do this?"

Swallowing, Jon said firmly, and proudly, "I shall."

"Remember," Mormont said pointing his finger at him, "It is you, Jon Snow, who is now put to the test."

Jon nodded leaving the Municipal Watch hall and returning to his home.

 


 

After preparing his things, with the new scientific instruments, Jon was ready to leave, but hearing the sound of a little bird in the room, Jon realized that there was his little bird, and opening the cage, Jon took him in his hand and then turning around, he went to the open window, freeing him. He did not know if he will return from this expedition, and he did not want the bird to remain in the cage. After all, no one should be.

At that moment his carriage also arrived, and Jon knew the time had come. Taking his bag he went down, and climbed into the carriage, heading toward Hardhome, through the main road and the creepy forest.

Meanwhile, during the journey, Jon first opened the book featuring the new scientific instruments with various notes, reading the headlines on the page, "Reason to deduction, discover the truth!" glancing outside from time to time. Putting the book back he took one of the instruments, observing it, even though he did not yet know how to use it completely. Placing it back on the seat of the carriage, Jon began to observe his old wounds on his palm, and from which the toe marks had still remained. Then he took the book about the history of the North and especially reading about what happened to the first ancient Hardhome.

When night came down, Jon set aside after reading it and fell asleep, but woke up to hear the howls of wolves coming from the forest, feeling a rater dark draw towards them.


After three and a half days, Jon reached the village and stopping at its entrance. Jon saw some pairs of statues. Or rather, heads of animals.

At the entrance, there was a pair of a three-headed dragon, followed by a seahorse, a wolf, a stag, and a mammoth, and so Jon began his walk towards the village. The village was deserted with old roads and many wooden houses, and when it came to a crossroads, Jon looked towards the church, and then followed the foggy road. As he passed through the village, Jon kept an eye on the houses and saw how scared the citizens were of him, as they were closing their windows. And Jon couldn't help but admit that he too was afraid, and even confused, and his pace increased.

Slowing down and looking to his right, Jon saw three armed men, near a watchtower, bidding farewell, and parting, and then a boy approaching the remaining watchman. The boy gave him a water bottle, and the man putting his hand on the boy's shoulder, telling him something that Jon couldn't hear because he was too far from them, before climbing into the watchtower, but he saw that the boy was still worried and perhaps even afraid.

Jon headed for his destination, which was the house of the most important man in the town. It was the largest house of the town, and everything was cut in turn, as were some trees. And the fog was falling, as the night was almost down, also caused by the stormy weather.

 


 

When Jon arrived at the main door, he knocked using the tool hanging on the door. He heard noises, or rather the moans of kisses, and when he turned to his right, he saw an old man kissing with a young girl, definitely a servant, and Jon felt a bit awkward.

When the doors opened Jon was greeted by a vision. Or rather, by a feast, with plenty of noblemen and noblewomen, children running and musicians playing serene ballads. He looked around as he walked forward, reaching a room, where men were dancing, and a woman with a blindfold on her eyes in the middle, saying. "The froggy witch, the froggy witch. Who will get a kiss from the froggy witch?" as she tried to grab them. Jon wanted to pass the group of men, who were circling the woman, to reach the room that was at the end, but he stopped when his face was caught, by the soft and warm hands of the young woman, and he stood stoned.

"Is it Willas?" asked the young girl as she touched his face.

" Pardon me, miss, I'm just a stranger." responded Jon.

"Then have a kiss on account," she said, kissing him on the cheek, and Jon was speechless.

Jon feels like something was warming his icy heart when she puts her soft lips on his cheek, his heartbeat fast, and his checks were becoming hot.

As she took off the blindfold, the young girl looked at him, with a smile on her lips, and only now did Jon realize how beautiful she was. Purple eyes like the dark sea, silver-blonde hair like the people of ancient Valyria, and soft, fleshy lips that can make any man, including him, lose his mind. She was the first girl to capture him immediately. Around her neck, she had a necklace with what looked like a three-headed dragon, and she wore a beautiful dress embroidered with decorations, and with different colors.

For a moment Jon was speechless but then, recovering, he tried to reformulate the words. "I'm looking for Mr. Aerys Targaryen."

"I am his daughter, Daenerys Targaryen," replied the girl, bowing her head.

"And who are you, friend? We haven't heard your name yet," asked another tall, muscular young man with long, light brown hair.

"I have not said it," Jon replied not liking the tone with which the young man addressed him and for interrupting, and giving a bow to the girl, " I beg your pardon," he was ready to leave, but he was stopped and turned by the man, who grabbed him by the shoulder.

"You need some manners!"

"Garlan!" said the girl.

"How come we have rises voices here. It's only to lift the spirit in these dark times that I and my dear wife are giving the party," said a man coming out of the room, and turning toward him, the man asked, "Young sir, you are most welcome even if you have to sell something." He was a man, with long silver hair, and a short beard. His eyes were blue, and he looked like the young girl.

"Thank you, sir," replied Jon, taking the letter Judge Mormont gave him, from his inside pocket, and handing it over to the man, "I am constable Jon Snow, sent to you by Winterfell to investigate the recent murders of Hardhome."

"Then Hardhome is grateful to you, constable Snow," said the woman who accompanied the man, in a deep voice. She had hair the color of burnished copper and pale, unblemished skin. She was tall, slender and graceful, with full breasts, a narrow waist, and a heart-shaped face. She was wearing a black and red dress, with a necklace of rubies around her neck. But Jon didn't miss the look she gives him when she answered, and how her gaze travels along his body. And Jon smiled and blushed.

"And we hope you will honor us by staying in this house."

"Well said, my dear," said the man. "Well come, sir, we'll settle you." And turning to the musicians, the man said, "Play on."

When he took the bags from the ground, Jon didn't miss the sign that the man gave to some men, and standing up he followed a servant who accompanied him to his room, where he would stay.

When the servant brought the water, so he can wash his hands and face, Jon thanked her and said, "Please tell Mr. Targaryen I'll be down in a moment."

"I'll, sir," and when she was about to leave, she said, with a smile, "Thank God you're here." And he was confused by that, as he pulled out his instruments. But when he was about to answer she was already out.

 


 

After the small show given by Garlan, the feast resumed while the young constable was accompanied to his room. Daenerys, on the other hand, didn't have a great desire to carry on the feast, but to keep the face she stayed at the feast, drinking a few more goblets. Daenerys couldn't take out of her head the young constable.

He was so handsome, with that curly black hair, gray eyes, and the small beard. She felt the heat rising from her center, heartbeat fast and picturing him, and she didn't know why this happened. It never happened with her other friends, and when she kissed him, on the cheek the butterflies flew in her belly.

" Please allow me the pleasure of this dance, Daenerys," asked Garlan.

"No. I don't want to dance anymore, Garlan," she replied annoyed. Daenerys knew what Garlan wanted, and she was aware of his many achievements in the village, and that's why Daenerys did not accept his proposals for marriage.

"That constable was a rude man by not presenting himself," he said angrily.

"And tell me, were you going to beat him if he hadn't?" Daenerys asked, in an angry way, and feeling the blood of the dragon boiling.

"Yes. But..."

"Oh, so Garlan the Galant was going to start a fight because he didn't want to say his name to a rude man that intruded in a conversation because he was feeling threatened. Or maybe you were afraid that he will take something you want. And you wonder why I don't accept your marriage proposal. That' s the reason why I'm not accepting. You're ready to fight with the first one to pass," she replied, and as she approached him she whispered, "and constable Jon is a thousand time more handsome than you." With that, she left, heading toward her friends.

 


 

Jon was accompanied to the room where the man had come out, and entering he saw that there were several people inside.

"Ah, excellent, come in." The man said, and turning towards the woman before he said, "Leave us, my dear." When the woman left the room and as Jon approached, the man said, " Oh, We were joined by Dr. Aemon Targaryen, Reverend Bart, our able magistrate Lord Mace Tyrell, and lastly, this fine fellow is Steffon Baratheon, our notary."

All these men could have been the suspects, but those who Jon could mostly exclude were Dr. Aemon and the notary Steffon."

"And you, sir?" asked Jon, referring to the man with whom he had always spoken so far, because he had not yet introduced himself, but who nevertheless seemed to be a very important man. Considering this house and how he introduced the various members.

"A simple farmer, now, who has been successful. But previously my family ruled over Westeros for centuries, until it fell into disgrace, and lost almost everything. My name is Aerys Targaryen." Yes, Targaryen. Jon remembered something from the history books, but their family name was almost erased from history after all the rebellions and the witch hunt. "The city turns to me as a friend and counselor," the man added with a smile.

" And a landowner and banker," added Mace Tyrell. "Let's proceed." He was such a funny man, thought Jon, that if he had been in the great city he would have been laughed.

"Thank you," replied Jon, reading the notes regarding the events that took place here, and which were more or less shared with him by the judge and his superior.

"So..." said Jon, starting to walk around those who were there, "three persons murdered. First Lucerys Velaryon," stopping behind Aerys, "and his son. Monford Velaryon. Both of them strong and capable men, as far as I know. Found together decapitated. One week later the young widow Velaryon, also decapitated." This last part he said was directed at the Reverend, and he leaned more toward him. Jon could feel the tension in the room and how they were hiding a secret. But if they want to play, let them play. He was here to do his job. "Now, I will need to ask you many questions. But first let me ask. Is anyone suspected?" And when he asked that, Mace Tyrell almost chocked with his drinking tea and Jon didn't miss the looks that everyone gives to each other when he asked.

Instead, it was Aerys Targaryen who answered, asking seriously, "What have your superiors told you, constable?"

"Only that the three were slain in the open field, and that their heads were found severed from their bodies."

"The heads had not been found severed," replied Reverend Bart. "They were not found at all."

And Jon was confused. Licking his lips he asked, " The heads are gone?"

" Taken. Taken by the headless horseman, taken back to hell," added Steffon Baratheon. And hearing that, Jon's skin shivered out of dread.

"Forgive me. I don't...don't..."

"Perhaps you should sit down," Aerys said when he heard them stuttering.

"Yes," and Jon sat in the chair there, speechless about what he had just heard.

"Yes," and Jon sat in the chair there, speechless about what had just happened.

"It's time I told you a story, constable Snow. 1200 years ago, an ancestor of mine, King Aegon the Unworthy, generated many bastards, who became famous, and who brought chaos to Westeros. Two of these bastards learned the art of dark magic. Shiera Seastor and Brynden Rivers." As he said that, Jon's mind tried to record everything Aerys said, "Shiera, made herself and her brother immortal, and she cursed one of the ancestral swords of my family, precisely Dark Sister, which belonged to Brynden. The blade became red-hot when Brynden held it, and it was the only weapon that could kill an immortal. Then about three hundred years ago, during the witch-hunt, Brynden was captured, as well as Shiera. The witch had been beheaded with the blade, while Brynden ran away, but not before taking with him the headless body of his beloved, and the dark sword, taking refuge in a remote village in the north, dark and cursed because of the name it bore, and because of the people that still believe in the magic. It is said that the man took the name Bloodraven and that he swore vengeance on those who killed his beloved sister and lover, but he died before his vengeance succeded. Thirty years ago a knight appeared in the north, who began to travel around the North, and gathering rebels from the North and beginning to attack the cities. The knight and his army were defeated, massacred, and he died in the great winter of 1769, not far from here. In our woods to the east. They cut off his head with his own sword and buried it with him. Still today that place is haunted by spirits, where the brave do not venture. For that day the seed of evil was planted in the ground. And so it has been for thirty years."

What a nonsense story, Jon thought. And it certainly isn't credible. Magic, immortality, and headless men riding horses? Stories for children. Nothing proved by science.

"But now he's awakened. And he'll cut off heads where he can find them." Feeling that, Jon's hands began to tremble, making even the cup of his tea tremble. The supernatural was not something of his competence, but for sure it was a challenge that Jon was eager to face with the modern science, even though with great fear.

Trying to recover, putting the cup on the table, in a firm tone he said, "Are you saying that's what you believe?"

"Seeing is believing," replied Steffon Baratheon, and for the first time, Jon could hear his deep voice.

"They have told me that you brought books and trappings for scientific investigations," said Reverend Bart. "This is the only book I suggest you read." And he took it and put a big book on the table. Opening there was written. Family tree of House Targaryen from the conquest of Aegon to the present day.

"I see. Reverend Bart, gentlemen. Murder needs no ghosts coming from the grave." He answered with a smile, because of the nonsense he heard, and trying to seem confident. "In Winterfell, and in the other cities of the north, murders take place, without the intervention of goblins and ghouls." Chuckling at the ending part.

"You are far from Winterfell, Constable. You are in the darkest part of the North, where magic still reseeds," said Aerys very seriously, but ignoring him, Jon said, "The assassin is a man in flesh and blood, and I will certainly discover him. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll retire for the night."

And taking the book, Jon headed to his room, meeting the girl in his path.

"Constable Snow. I'd like to ask if you would like to join us for breakfast tomorrow morning?" Daenerys asked with a smile on her lips.

"It will be an honor, miss," he replied, trying not to stammer with emotion.

"Goodnight, sir," she said, retiring.

"Goodnight, miss," he responded almost in a whisper.

What a crazy people Jon thought once inside the room. Believing in such stories. Immortals and witches. Heated swords and more. Absurd.

Jon sighed, and lying on the bed he fell asleep dreaming of the beautiful girl, Daenerys.

 


 

Outside there was fog, and Guymon was guarding the watchtower. He didn't like it this night, too dark and too silent.

Suddenly he saw the flock of sheep agitating and running somewhere else, as the fog approached from the woods and suddenly the torches on the borders went out.

Guymon knew the devil was coming, and so he loaded his rifle and was ready to shoot anything that came from the forest.

Pointing toward the place where the dark presence was felt, Guymon said, "Come out, devil." He heard the sound of nocturnal owls, and then the gallop of wild goats coming from the woods.

After some time Guymon heard a horse galloping and then saw him. The headless horseman was riding at great speed towards him. He shot the horse and made him fall to the ground, but he immediately got up. Having no time to recharge, Guymon got out of the watchtower, running towards the fields and reaching the road, continuing to look back. He ran as much as he could, and as he never did until now, pushed by the fear he felt.

He heard him approaching quickly, and when he heard the drawing of a sword he knew it was the end. The horseman cut off his head and the last thing he and the last thing he felt was a burning blade before it all went black.