And if it comes to that, she wondered, will thirty be enough? Will six thousand be enough?
A bird called faintly in the distance, a high sharp trill that felt like an icy hand on Catelyn's neck. Another bird answered; a third, a fourth. She knew their call well enough, from her years at Winterfell. Snow shrikes. Sometimes you saw them in the deep of winter, when the godswood was white and still. They were northern birds.
They are coming, Catelyn thought.
They're coming, my lady, Hal Mollen whispered. He was always a man for stating the obvious. "Gods be with us."
She nodded as the woods grew still around them. In the quiet she could hear them, far off yet moving closer; the tread of many horses, the rattle of swords and spears and armor, the murmur of human voices, with here a laugh, and there a curse.
Eons seemed to come and go. The sounds grew louder. She heard more laughter, a shouted command, splashing as they crossed and recrossed the little stream. A horse snorted. A man swore. And then at last she saw him... only for an instant, framed between the branches of the trees as she looked down at the valley floor, yet she knew it was him.