When they finally summoned the nerve to steal back into the ruins the next night, nothing remained but blackened stones, the hollow shells of houses, and corpses. In some places wisps of pale smoke still rose from the ashes. Hot Pie had pleaded with them not to go back, and Lommy called them fools and swore that Ser Amory would catch them and kill them too, but Lorch and his men had long gone by the time they reached the holdfast. They found the gates broken down, the walls partly demolished, and the inside strewn with the unburied dead. One look was enough for Gendry. “They’re killed, every one,” he said. “And dogs have been at them too, look.”
“Dogs, wolves, it makes no matter. It’s done here.”
But Arya would not leave until they found Yoren. They couldn’t have killed him, she told herself, he was too hard and tough, and a brother of the Night’s Watch besides. She said as much to Gendry as they searched among the corpses.
The axe blow that had killed him had split his skull apart, but the great tangled beard could be no one else’s, or the garb, patched and unwashed and so faded it was more grey than black. Ser Amory Lorch had given no more thought to burying his own dead than to those he had murdered, and the corpses of four Lannister men-at-arms were heaped near Yoren’s. Arya wondered how many it had taken to bring him down.
He was going to take me home, she thought as they dug the old man’s hole. There were too many dead to bury them all, but Yoren at least must have a grave, Arya had insisted. He was going to bring me safe to Winterfell, he promised. Part of her wanted to cry. The other part wanted to kick him.
It was Gendry who thought of the lord’s towerhouse and the three that Yoren had sent to hold it. They had come under attack as well, but the round tower had only one entry, a second-story door reached by a ladder. Once that had been pulled inside, Ser Amory’s men could not get at them. The Lannisters had piled brush around the tower’s base and set it afire, but the stone would not burn, and Lorch did not have the patience to starve them out. Cutjack opened the door at Gendry’s shout, and when Kurz said they’d be better pressing on north than going back, Arya had clung to the hope that she still might reach Winterfell.
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