Post by Serza on Dec 4, 2017 0:14:20 GMT
|William Hawthorne of South Reach|
Faction/role: House Hawthorne military commander under Arl Robert Hawthorne
Reachmen's Keep, Hawthorne family residence, five days before the Stamford attack.
A knock on the door took William out of his thoughts.
“His Lordship demands your attention, Ser William,” said the servant from past the locked door.
“Let him know I shall be there at once,” he replied, rising from his desk. Orders related to the northern patrols could wait a while if his brother had something important to say.
William looked around his room in the tallest tower of the family residence. After a moment of thinking, he grabbed his coat from the dresser before finally turning to his bed upon which Griffon, his longsword, lay in it’s sheath.
He fastened the sword to his belt and unlocked the door. With the tower entrance being directly from the main hall where the Arl sit, all he needed was to descend the stairs. Instead, however, he stood at the window for a moment, staring at the cold Fereldan peaks of South Reach, overshadowed in their size by the much more distant Southron Hills. A thick cloud cover lay over the hills as a rain crept in, signalling yet another day the people would spend inside as much as they could. He better make sure the castle guards were given ample equipment if they were to patrol the battlements.
Now deep in thought again, he finally descended the stairs and entered the main hall to see Robert await him in the Arl’s throne.
Stopping a few meters away from the dais upon which the throne itself was, William bent the knee to his brother: “You summoned me, My Lord?” all the while meeting his brother’s gaze, for which most would consider him of poor manners.
“Indeed I have, Ser William. Please, walk the battlements with me,” his brother replied, pointing his hand towards the door in the far corner.
His brother’s cold, official demeanor changed as soon as they closed the door behind them.
“I’m glad to see you, Will. Do you know of Gwaren?”
Gwaren was a Teyrnir neighboring to South Reach itself in the south east, and as William heard, the people decided they do not wish the Teyrn’s rule upon them any longer. But while his own learnings were greatly limited, their Spymaster, Abigail, relayed messages of a much pressing concern. Seemingly, there were bands of mercenaries, some hired by the people and some just looking for easy pickings. Gwaren at the time was a mess.
“It’s my job, brother.”
“Do you know the Teyrn wants me to bend the knee?”
“As is the custom of South Reach towards Gwaren. The previous Arl bent the knee to Teyrn Loghain, and even before the Orlesians it was so. Remember our lessons, Robb?”
“I refuse to bend the knee to a man who asks for allies to crush his own people with an iron boot.”
“And doing so speaks well of you, My Lord,” said a third, female voice from the shadows.
Only a moment later, a tall, dark-haired woman emerged from the same shadows.
“Good day to you, Ser,” she greeted William.
“You as well, Abigail,” he replied. If he were to go by her sudden appearance, the woman was as mysterious as usually. However, her skills and loyalty could not be second-guessed.
“Unfortunately, My Lord,” she turned back to Arl Robert, “Arl Milicent has taken a significant interest in Gwaren. My contacts say the man is even worse than Jon Elain. As it is, bending the knee would lead to the lesser evil remaining upon Gwaren’s throne, and you having a say in what happens.”
“And if Milicent takes Gwaren as his own…” William thought out loud.
“Then he will force your brother to bend the knee, Ser William.”
Robert’s voice rose at the revelation: “To hell with this! We’re playing a very dangerous game now, brother. Take your best men and ride for Gwaren. Keep Milicent away from the throne and depose Jon Elain.” He turned his head towards the Spymaster before continuing: “Abigail, get William as much information on both the parties as possible. You may leave.”
“Stand Vigilant, My Lord,” she said as a goodbye before disappearing through the door.
They stood in silence for a while before Robert gave more orders: “You leave in three days. Prepare your men and make sure you remember everything Abigail tells you. Stand Vigilant, Brother.”
“Stand Vigilant, Robb,” he answered before leaving through the doors himself.
Reachmen's Keep, three days before the Stamford attack.
In two days time, he sat at the small council meeting with Robert and Abigail. However, there was an empty chair where Ser Hawthrone the Elder sat. If William were to guess, Father wanted nothing to do with this.
“Robb. Abigail,” he greeted his two fellows.
While his brother responded with a nod from his position at the head of the table, the Spymaster spared no time and went straight to business, her eyes rising from the notes she brought: “I have your information, Ser.”
Moving one of the notes in front of her - a map, William noted - the dark-haired woman said two words that caught his interest: Kal Pathras. While he did not know the location of the dwarven settlement, his decade-old lessons allowed him to narrow the location down and locate the old city on the parchment. A surface dwarf settlement, established in the Storm Age.
“The dwarven leadership disapproves of Teyrn Elain’s hold over the land. As such, Ser, it may be worthwhile to visit, as my men report that a Militia has established it’s headquarters somewhere in Kal Pathras. Gaining the support of the locals would likely aid your Brother’s political effort in Denerim.”
Robert shuffled in his seat uncomfortably, and if Will were to guess, his brother did not like that part of his plan discussed.
“Information from Gwaren point to an equally interesting opportunity. The Teyrn has come down with an illness of some sort - and no healers were able to treat him. Of late, however, a ‘Comtessa de Fontein’ has been summoned. It is an Orleasian title, Ser, and information is limited at best. What I gathered so far suggests the Empress herself keeps the Comtessa as part of her court.”
“I assume I have a choice then, Spymaster?”
“That you do, Ser.”
Robert shuffled again. It was not common for an Arl to be completely left out of a conversation between his Commander and his Spymaster.
“Are you telling me that I either try to recruit the Militia to aid our cause or kidnap an Orlesian noble who may or may not be a healer?”
“Such are our options, Commander.”
With two choices and neither of them good available, William took a moment to think, which was used by his brother: “I urge you to choose carefully. The woman may be the fastest way to depose the Teyrn, Brother. At the same time, it will stir up much more trouble.”
Of course his brother was right. This Comtessa likely was not in Ferelden by coincidence, as travelling the Frostbacks was no easy feat, and Orlesians were rare in the King’s lands since Maric the Savior defeated Meghren in Denerim.
“I choose the Militia,” William said after a short moment of silence. “They are a lesser risk to us.”
“Then this meeting is dismissed,” the Arl replied. “Stand Vigilant.”
“Stand Vigilant, My Lord,” both William and Abigail replied in unison.
Reachmen's Keep courtyard, two days before the Stamford attack.
The following morning, William already sat on the horse he had taken for the ride. The stablemaster called the steed simply Flash and remarked on the horse’s good abilities. William simply accepted the noble beast - he knew how to ride one, but never had a horse of his own.
As he prepared to speak to his two dozen brave, he saw Abigail the Spymaster approach, bearing a bag and a simple leather scabbard. The dark haired woman raised her green eyes to him and spoke: “I bring you simple clothes, should you need to blend in.” However, it was not with her usual cold, calculating voice with an audible smile to it. If anything, she sounded worried, and for a moment, the little girl William knew in his childhood emerged from the Spymaster’s disguise.
“Thank you, Abigail.”
“Just come back, William,” she responded in kind, foregoing any titles. He was uncertain what this could mean - but he intended to grant her the wish regardless.
With a nod and a smile, he looked back to his men for a speech.
“My friends and allies! Today, we embark upon a great adventure. Together, we will bring about the end of the oppression of the good people of Ferelden, and security for us all! It will not be easy, for our foe refuses to let go of the reins with which he chokes our fellow men and women and he will fight savagely to hold onto them! But we will surely inflict a great defeat upon him, for his ability to wage war has become negligible, and soon enough the free men of Ferelden will march together to Victory! Good luck, and may the Maker be with you.”
He turned his head back at the Spymaster’s smiling face as the crowd of men before him shouted a combination of “Stand Vigilant!” and “Stand as One!” in a chorus, each mounted on their own horse.
And so he led them out of the castle courtyard and towards Kal Pathras.
OOC: Hi. I considered strongly to just say sorry and do nothing, but I just find the entire thing irresistible. That's why it took me so long. Inner fights. *sigh* Anyway, if you decide you'd rather tell me off for my eternal delays, I won't have anything againist it and tell whichever mod is the deepest in DARP to delete this. The three different homeworks don't help, but I'll do my best to get to Stamford ASAP. Which may also mean my next post.