As the icy fingers and bony hands close around his throat, Hodor lets go. His life passes before his eyes, from his time at Winterfell tending the stables to his most heartfelt task caring for his friend, Bran. Sansa is there too, standing imperiously over him, mocking him. Hodor feels nothing but love for her now, where before there was much fear and hurt. The memories fly by, like terrain to a bird’s eye.
Hodor cannot breathe. The skeletons and wraiths and shambles are burying him alive. Hodor feels as if he is drowning in a heap of bones, shown no more mercy than any of the corpses piling over him. His shoulders can barely feel the stone doorway he still strives to keep shut, even though it lies mostly pulverized around him.
“Hodor,” he whispers, sure it is his last breath.
Time slows. Suddenly, the snowflakes freeze in midair around him. The bodies of the undead too cease to move. Hodor hears a voice inside his mind.
Hodor. Your time has not come.
You must go to King’s Landing. There you will find a young chef named Hot Pie. He has power unknown to him, or anyone else. You must protect him. You must show him the way of true compassion.
The voice, at first male, now sounds motherly in Hodor’s mind. I am sorry for what I must now do. Know that I love you more than any other soul in this world.
Hodor screams. He is thrown into utter agony. It is as though every part of him is on fire. It is a fate worse than death, he is sure of it. The pain courses through his every vein, every muscle fiber, every nerve. Hodor believes he will never escape this seemingly unending state of torment.
Then the pain subsides. Hodor stands. His body glows with the light of a thousand suns. Even the distant mountains reflect the pure white light of his radiance. No trace of evil surrounds him. The army of the undead has vanished. No sign of their foul overlords remains either.
One last time, Hodor speaks the name that no longer seems his own. “Hodor?”
The voice, still kind but male again, resounds inside his warming skull. No. You are now the Hand of GOD.
Hodor stutters. “Ho—of who?”
KNOW THAT I AM THE ONE TRUE UNIVERSAL FORCE. YOU ARE NOW MY BLESSED SERVANT. Go forth and fight the forces of true darkness AND the forces of false light…my beloved Hand.
Hodor’s mind clears. His body ripples with newfound strength. He looks down. His physical form has changed. His hair is no longer gray, now thick and full. His muscles—once buried under rolls of fat—now are hard and well-formed. His eyes widen when he sees the sword sheathed at his hip. He draws it. It glows bright blue. For a moment, Hodor fears that he has been tricked, that the weapon at his side comes from the undead. Then he hears an icy rattle come from behind him. He turns, and a White Walker approaches him.
Hodor prepares to swing the sword with all his might. To his surprise, the White Walker bows before him. Another voice—this one like a serpent’s hiss—whispers in his mind.
For centuries I have awaited your arrival.
Hodor is tempted to repeat his name. However, words now fill his mind and heart as never before.
“Rise, then, walker,” Hodor says, his voice echoing with a tone of command he is not accustomed to. “Rise and join me.”
The White Walker stands. Its eyes—before an eerie blue—transform themselves into a glowing green. They remind Hodor of the leaves of the trees he grew up climbing in Winterfell when lit by midday sun.
I hear and obey.
The two set out across the frozen wastes, headed south. Hodor sheathes the sword, no longer glowing blue. Before him, the White Walker stumbles onward.
“Do you have a name?” Hodor asks.
Once I did. It is long since forgotten.
“Then I will call you ‘Forhodor.’ Fodor.”
I am honored. And what shall I call you?
Hodor thinks of the girl who once tormented him, wonders if she can yet be made to embrace the warmth and compassion he feels as a glowing sun inside his chest. He clears his throat.
“Call me Sanson.”
I live to serve and defend you—oh great Sanson—Hand of God.
TO BE CONTINUED
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