Attacked amidst snow and cold, but we’ve thrown them back with fire arrows, he wrote, as he heard Thoren Smallwood’s voice ring out with a command of, “Notch, draw…loose.” the flight of arrows made a sound as sweet as a mother’s prayer. “Burn, you dead bastards, burn,” Dywen sang out, cackling. The brothers cheered and cursed. All safe, he wrote. We remain on the Fist of the First Men. Sam hoped they were better archers than him.
He put that note aside and found another blank parchment. Still fighting on the Fist, amidst heavy snow, he wrote when someone shouted, “They’re still coming.” Result uncertain. “Spears,” someone said. It might have been Ser Mallador, but Sam could not swear to it. Wights attacked us on the Fist, in snow, he wrote, but we drove them off with fire. He turned his head. Through the drifting snow, all he could see was the huge fire at the center of the camp, with mounted men moving restlessly around it. The reserve, he knew, ready to ride down anything that breached the ringwall. They armed themselves with torches in place of swords, and were lighting them in the flames.
Wights all around us, he wrote, when he heard the shouts from the north face. Coming up from north and south at once. Spears and swords don’t stop them, only fire. “Loose, loose, loose,” a voice screamed in the night, and another shouted, “Bloody huge,” and a third voice said, “A giant!” and a forth insisted, A bear, a bear!” A horse shrieked and the hounds began to bay, and there was so much shouting that Sam couldn’t make out the voices anymore. He wrote faster, note after note. Dead wildings, and a giant, or maybe a bear, on us, all around. He heard the crash of steel on wood, which could only mean one thing. Wights over the ringwall. Fighting inside the camp. A dozen mounted brothers pounded past him toward the east wall, burning brands streaming flames in each rider’s hand. Lord Commander Mormont is meeting them with fire. We’ve won. We’re winning. We’re holding our own. We’re cutting our way free and retreating for the Wall. We’re trapped on the Fist, hard pressed.
One of the Shadow Tower men came staggering out of the darkness to fall at Sam’s feet. He crawled within a foot of the fire before he died. Lost, Sam wrote, the battle’s lost. We’re all lost.
[George R.R. Martin, A Storm Of Swords, Bantam, 2000]
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