74 The Pyre

Early 299 Me

"You've done your work well, Leyton." I told the elderly Lord Hightower while his first daughter, Malora the Mad Maid, anointed my body with the sacred oils of the Seven.

"This is madness, father!" Ulfric shouted with his hand gripping his sheathed sword. 

"Madness?" I grinned and considered hitting him with a 'This is Westeros!", but relented, "Only if it fails." 

We stood atop the Hightower, the beacon fire unlit as the sky reddened with the arrival of the comet. I put an hand on Ulfric's face, and turned my head to look out at the other members of my family important enough to be here. Galmar, Lord of Pyke, Skjor Lord of Old Wyk, the second wife, Lythene and her seven children, Rhaella and her six, with Daenerys. Most important of all, Jorah junior dressed in a silk robe, and ninety nine virgins similarly robed led by Malora. 

Bound to a multi tier pyre of oiled weirwood atop a crushed stone base of idols, the vegetable forms of the sorcerers, sorceresses, priests, and priestesses of Westeros and Essos including the High Priestess of R'hllor and the Most Devout of the Seven. Between them sacred and mystic texts, and the heads of various Valyrian monstrosities. I climbed over them all, and took my place amidst twenty one dragon eggs. 

I took one final look and considered anything I had left to say to those assembled. 

"Needs more fire." I said, then laid down to burn. 

Leyton brought the lit torch to the pyre, which ignited fast enough that he needed to hop back or loose his eyebrows. It was a time of weeping, wailing, and for some dark fascination, but for me, I couldn't even tell when the blaze touched me. The fire within burned hotter than the fire without. Eventually, it just felt like sweet release. 

The virgins disrobed, joining hands they danced around the pyre and sang together in perfect harmony, almost loud enough for people to miss Rhaella's scream as Jorah Junior disrobed and began to climb the burning pyre. Ulfric tried to help her stop him, but I commanded them to stop and they did. Jorah II Mormont climbed through the blaze and held my charring body to his chest. 

Finally, the comet came into view and I died. 

The dancing virgins slowed as their bellies swelled, and all around them witnessed them stop and give birth to ninety nine sons who transitioned from fully First Men features in the first, to fully Valyrian features in the last, born of the Old and the New. Leyton took up his grandson, a boy of pure Valyrian purple and silver gold and kissed him on the head. 

Around me, the cracking of dragon eggs sounded as my new body changed, the flesh of the thirteen year old Jorah absorbing the power of the ritual, the raw magic of the comet and sacrifice. His skin split as the new man within burst out, seven feet tall and built like a god, flawless skin and vivacious hair silky smooth. With a gesture my naked form was garbed in robes of fire and I pulled seven stars from the night sky, setting them into a blazing crown that cooled into celestial gold, bands of which adorned my fingers and arms, and formed a torc around my neck of a roaring bear and a snarling dragon. Descending the pyre, in one hand I held Dawn, and in the other I snatched up the most beautiful of the dragons, Sunfyre reborn to grow into all the dreadful power of Balerion and more still. 

"Madness was it?" I asked Ulfric as I emerged from the conflagration.

"Father?" my first born gasped. 

"You all thought you were finally rid of me." I chuckled, for the first time in months not feeling like pressing hot coals to my ribs, "Finally free, cut loose from my strings. It only ends when I say it ends, and if I could withstand years of agony for this perfect moment. None in this world will never be free of me." 

"Monster!" Rhaella screamed as she crept towards the edge of the Hightower with our youngest in her arms. 

"Oh no. Don't do it." I sounded out with fullness of my sincerity obvious in every word, "Don't ruin my awesome murder suicide with your lame murder suicide." 

"For all his cruelty, Aerys never murdered our children!" she shrieked, making my big moment all about her.

"He had the Maesters for that." I quipped back then pointed in front of me, "Bitch, get your ass away from that ledge." 

Rhaella wanted to jump, she wanted to get away from this evil world and make it as tragic as possible, but I didn't let her. She tried, and she failed, her will incapable of resisting me even before I ate Lord Farwynd's brain, she stood no chance post super version of Denaerys's ritual. 

Thus sayeth the Lord.

"What now?" Ulfric asked, completely torn up about my kinslaying ascension. 

He'd get over it. I rate fathering half siblings on his childhood crush higher on the emotional damage scale than body snatching a brother he hardly knew. He overcame the first and grew into a fine man. This will just make him finer. 

"What changes for any of you?" I asked in reply, "If not for the constant torturous pain, I was basically living the life of a god already. My leap in power means nothing, because I was already at the top of this world. Cities burned at my command, monsters fell under my blade, the gods themselves failed to stop me. I had all the wine and women a man could ever dream of, and then I had them again. I live in a palatial fortress, attended by hundreds of concubines with over a thousand children. My sons have grown into men I admire, and my daughters are married to good husbands. Endless might can give me nothing more than what I already have. The whole world is mine, as it already has been. Flying around on fire breathing dragons will be sweet, though, and I am looking forward to that." 

I breathed in deeply and let out a sigh. My ascension is quite the quality of life improvement, but like I told Ned. 

I already won.

Thus sayeth Jorah. 


I abandoned the habit of writing long authors notes while writing this story, and thus I've bottled up a lot I want to say about this story for a long time. Path of the Hungry Bear was my most technically difficult project. I experiment heavily with the themes of my fics, and with the lead characters, and this one is the farthest out of my wheel house. I tend to thrive on dialogue and irreverent characters, and Jorah was deeply serious and didn't want to talk to anyone. 

In Ultimate Krogan I wanted to write a lead that was entirely alien and utterly immoral, completely lacking in any kind of redeeming or sympathetic motivation, and yet so impossibly charming that the audience couldn't help but fall in love with him. I especially wanted to show a character that was charismatic in action without the usual ham-fisted tropes. No one told you in Ultimate Krogan that Grunt was some rizz god, or described being carried away by his oration or performance. I succeeded. Thousands of people read that story and very few had anything negative to say about it. People were shocked by how easily they loved that fucked up giant space lizard man, and found it believable that he was laying down all that smooth lizard cock through multiple galaxies. 

In Actually Invincible I wanted wanted to play with the idea of a similar character, but less inhuman, less immoral, driven by a redeeming and sympathetic motivation, but with less charm to overshadow his shortcomings. I struggled. Even more thousands of people read that story, and I finally got criticism for my work. I was excited to finally have some constructive feedback, but the criticism was retarded. People were just butt hurt and prejudiced, complaining that they didn't like superhero stories with a bad guy leading man. I learned jack shit writing that story, and it was fucking hard to write. 

In Path of the Hungry Bear I wanted to see how people react when the lead man is an absolute savage, a guy who presses all the buttons and kills all the sacred cows, someone with a greater good ethos who succeeds in achieving that greater good in the ugliest way possible, and I wanted him to be a goddamn cave man socially, but he is doing so in a setting that deserves it. Thousands of people have read this story, many have dropped it and let me know that I'm writing a edgelord piece of trash MC and I should feel bad for doing it.

Only one guy tried provided a logic based argument that Jorah was wrong. I considered it, possibly there was a twist in the narrative I could have worked with. Ultimately Jorah was right. The Others built pretty much their entire army of the undead off the currently living people in the Lands Beyond the Wall. For eight thousand years they have been largely inactive, and the free folk have practiced cremation, denying them the chance to build up some hidden massive fuck you army in the Lands of Always Winter. The logic didn't check out, and neither did the narrative. If that was what George intended, he would be neutering the agency of Jon Snow's storyline harder than those flake ass show runners at HBO. 

I didn't even intend for Jorah to get magic in this story. My original plan was for Jorah to murder all the wildlings, survive the wars, and live a comfortable life till he died of old age, proven right. My brother and I were talking one day, and he said something like 'Jorah sure does spend a lot of time fucking up magical god trees. Are they going to try to fuck him up back?' And so I thought, choice and consequence, that's the at core of GRRM's writing, possibly even more than graphic descriptions of food and sadism. 

So Jorah got cursed, and I asked myself, what's in the wheelhouse of the Old Gods that feels like a curse, and doesn't feel like Bloodraven is some all powerful skinchanger that can track you down all over the earth and fuck you up with animals. So I thought of Greenseeing. Almost all the characters with future sight in ASoIaF are depressed as fuck or mad as hell. It was the perfect fit, curse Jorah with Green Sight and make him suffer visions of his own evil. It was poetic, it was feasible, it was one conversation that completely altered the course of my writing. So always feel free to come at me with your ideas for the story. 

Jorah getting magic also fit the theme of the character, as he is a hard man on a ugly path, and that is a perfect fit for the characters in the story that take magic far, guys like Bloodraven and Euron. I find it laughable when people who watched the show think magic in Planetos is good. Its evil and ugly, and Jorah was right to try to stomp it out. The show glosses over too much even before they ran out of material to adapt. They had the time and the money, but couldn't pull off the themes. 

Jorah himself wasn't supposed to be somebody you would want to be around. If he said and did things that made you feel uncomfortable, then I succeeded. I went hard in the paint making him a bad motherfucker and I didn't once apologize for or rationalize the fucked up shit he was doing until this story was around a hundred thousand words, where we finally got him to empty his pockets and explain who he really was. Just a guy in over his head who adopted a persona to succeed and stuck with it for so long that he eventually was the caricature of a bad guy he created.

I also played with the idea that though you may fight for the greater good, doing so with acts of evil can easily slide into greater and greater acts of evil. It might of been in Actually Invincible where I revealed the philosophy of the big picture being a collage of all the smaller pictures put together, and if you let too many off the smaller pictures get fucked up, you can never make the big picture something good. Mark justified fucking up a bunch of smaller pictures hard as hell, by pointing out that he was making all the other pictures so much better. That story needed that big view because Mark started out so powerful, he was a character with full agency in the setting from the start. 

Jorah was the opposite. Where Mark got godly power and royal pedigree from the start, Jorah was an impoverished nobleman in the asscrack of nowhere, and all he had was some really nice testicles to get him through the shitstorm. It was a direct inversion of my previous work, and also a big fuck you to a lot of the stories I was reading at the time with pussy ass MC's who choke any time they have the chance for agency because they are such pathetic cowards. You know like Shinji in Evangelion, but like if being Shinji was as contagious as Covid. Jorah was my answer to Shinji-like MC's in SI fanfictions. All he needed to rock his setting was metaknowledge and some testicular fortitude. 

I made Jorah despicable, but I didn't make him wrong. Jorah was right, and I didn't want to outshine that by making Jorah charismatic. You guys have no idea who many times I had to rewrite a chapter because Jorah was rizzing too hard. I had to try real hard to make him awful, because awful is what Westeros deserved. I was blown away when one of my detractors said something like 'I know these characters, and that is why I hate what you are doing' and I was like 'What the fuck, if you know these characters, then you know that I am playing them all completely straight, and that all the motherfuckers who are dying fucking deserve it.' I think that motherfucker was a Wildling sympathizer, and the Wildlings were fucking terrible people. Damn Anarchists, but without any of Armstrong's swag accept for Tormund. 

Anyway, I'm done with this story, but I won't mark it as Completed. I'm not making that mistake again. I've already done it too many times. I'll leave it open if I want to do some epilogue work or a sequel. Maybe a reboot in House of the Dragons. I have an idea to do it as Aegon II, and give him the Talisman's from Elden Ring. Might be fun, but I don't think I have as much to say about that time period as I did Game of Thrones. It would be fun to shit on Team Black, though. 

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