Mormont rounded on him. "So you believe this is Mance Rayder's work? This close to the Wall?"
Who else, my lord?
Jon could have told him. He knew, they all knew, yet no man of them would say the words. The Others are only a story, a tale to make children shiver. If they ever lived at all, they are gone eight thousand years. Even the thought made him feel foolish; he was a man grown now, a black brother of the Night's Watch, not the boy who'd once sat at Old Nan's feet with Bran and Robb and Arya.
Yet Lord Commander Mormont gave a snort. "If Ben Stark had come under wildling attack a half day's ride from Castle Black, he would have returned for more men, chased the killers through all seven hells and brought me back their heads."
Unless he was slain as well, Sir Jaremy insisted.qh]
The words hurt, even now. It had been so long, it seemed folly to cling to the hope that Ben Stark was still alive, but Jon Snow was nothing if not stubborn.
It has been close on half a year since Benjen left us, my lord, Sir Jaremy went on. "The forest is vast. The wildlings might have fallen on him anywhere. I'd wager these two were the last survivors of his party, on their way back to us... but the enemy caught them before they could reach the safety of the Wall.