“No more than in the other two.”
“It was their lives or ours,” Jon said.
“If they had seen us, if they had sounded that horn …”
“The wildlings would hunt us down and slay us, true enough.”
“Stonesnake has the horn now, though, and we took Ygritte’s knife and axe.
She’s behind us, afoot, unarmed …”
“And not like to be a threat,” Qhorin agreed.
“If I had needed her dead, I would have left her with Ebben, or done the thing myself.”
“Then why did you command it of me?”
“I did not command it.
I told you to do what needed to be done, and left you to decide what that would be.”
Qhorin stood and slid his longsword back into its scabbard.
“When I want a mountain scaled, I call on Stonesnake.
Should I need to put an arrow through the eye of some foe across a windy battlefield, I summon Squire Dalbridge.
Ebben can make any man give up his secrets.
To lead men you must know them, Jon Snow.
I know more of you now than I did this morning.”
“And if I had slain her?” asked Jon.
“She would be dead, and I would know you better than I had before.
But enough talk.
You ought be sleeping.
We have leagues to go, and dangers to face.
You will need your strength.”
Jon did not think sleep would come easily, but he knew the Halfhand was right.
He found a place out of the wind, beneath an overhang of rock, and took off his cloak to use it for a blanket.
“Ghost,” he called. “Here. To me.”
He always slept better with the great white wolf beside him;
there was comfort in the smell of him, and welcome warmth in that shaggy pale fur.
This time, though, Ghost did no more than look at him.
Then he turned away and padded around the garrons, and quick as that he was gone.
He wants to hunt, Jon thought.
Perhaps there were goats in these mountains.
The shadowcats must live on something.
“Just don’t try and bring down a ’cat,” he muttered.
Even for a direwolf, that would be dangerous.
He tugged his cloak over him and stretched out beneath the rock.
When he closed his eyes, he dreamed of direwolves.
There were five of them when there should have been six, and they were scattered, each apart from the others.
He felt a deep ache of emptiness, a sense of incompleteness.