One bird croaking my name was bad enough, said Jon, "and snow's nothing a black brother wants to hear about." Snow often meant death in the north.
Was there anything in Whitetree?
Bones, ashes, and empty houses. Jon handed Sam the roll of parchment. "The Old Bear wants word sent back to Aemon."
Sam took a bird from one of the cages, stroked its feathers, attached the message, and said, "Fly home now, brave one. Home." The raven quorked something unintelligible back at him, and Sam tossed it into the air. Flapping, it beat its way skyward through the trees. "I wish he could carry me with him."
Well, said Sam, "yes, but... I'm not as frightened as I was, truly. The first night, every time I heard someone getting up to make water, I thought it was wildlings creeping in to slit my throat. I was afraid that if I closed my eyes, I might never open them again, only... well... dawn came after all." He managed a wan smile. "I may be craven, but I'm not stupid. I'm sore and my back aches from riding and from sleeping on the ground, but I'm hardly scared at all. Look." He held out a hand for Jon to see how steady it was. "I've been working on my maps."