Campaign of the Month: February 2009

Silent Winter

Aidan's Epilogue: For Good

Part 1: A meeting of old friends.

Posted by Relimited

Even at this hour, there were plenty of people out and about. It was almost a little weird, having dealt with elves for so long to see people whose ears weren’t pointed.

Aidan found his hand reaching up and checking his own ear to make sure it was still rounded. He let out a soft chuckle and gave an awkward smile to someone who was rushing past him, off to do something incredibly important judging by his speed. Of course he was still a human- but these past few weeks, so much had changed.

He wasn’t the same kid he had been before the winter struck. Before he could seriously contemplate the issue, he heard a playful bark from beside him. Kent wanted to get going, all this waiting around didn’t suit the Mabari at all.

“Yeah, I know,” Aidan said, “You want to get going- got it. We’ll go to the blue bottle and grab a bite to eat before a nice actual bed. Honestly after that escape, I don’t think I could possibly sleep.” Kent just sighed in his own way (it was a low pitched whine) and they quickly set out.

Aidan ducked into the Blue Bottle, and was quickly greeted by a rather large common room lit by blazers on the walls and a massive fire place in the corner, sending a pillar of fire and light. It disoriented him for a second, it was bustling with people of all shapes and sizes, a far cry from the cozier tavern he had grown used to back at the Bannecrag. He shook his head, smiling at his own silliness. He had taken on a lord of some outer dimension, and here he was afraid of a few people!

He strode as confidently in as he could manage, found the inn keeper and quickly did his business. It seemed surprisingly easy, unlike that first time in the fort where he had once almost traded his bow away over a grievance that he didn’t even start. He had changed.

He found a small table in the corner where he retired with his meal and a mug of water. No ale. Never again- even if the innkeeper had shot him an odd glance when he asked for just water. His lips twitched as he thought about that rather interesting night- and the resulting hangover. He had ordered a double portion of food, and Kent wolfed down his half. Aidan ate more slowly, absentmindedly giving the pleading dog more from his half, watching the fire burn and thinking about all that had happened over the last few weeks.

“Please ser, I need to know!” A pleading voice somehow shook Aidan from his thoughts. It sounded vaguely familiar, like he had heard it before. He was surprised he heard it over the din.

“And I’ll tell you not again, elf, yer kind ain’t welcome ‘ere! Now get goin’, afore I need to ‘elp you along with me boot!” a rough voice answered, rather strongly, Aidan didn’t need to listen very hard to catch it over the general din.

“It’s only a simple question! Have you, any of you seen him! I must know!” The “elf” exclaimed, this time louder, pleading harder.

Aidan rose, positive he had heard that voice before. He had to know who it was. Kent cocked his head to the side, that ever inquisitive look the pup gave him when he didn’t quite follow what Aidan was about to do.

“Kent,” Aidan bent low whispering in the dog’s ear, “Watch my back. Keep quiet about it. And if I draw my sword, come to my aid. But not a moment before!” The Mabari gave a tiny woof, that old sign of agreement.

“—and I telled you no one ‘ere is gonna answer yer questions, elf!” the rough man roared. The sound level dropped several decibels. People seemed to instinctively back away from where the argument was, making Aidan stand out as he pushed toward the noises.

“And you all agree wiv me—eh?” the rough voice seemed rather surprised at Aidan pushing his way through the ring of people that had formed around the pair. Aidan was only dimly aware of the elf, who seemed to be desperately trying to edge away. The elf gave a squeak at his appearance, but Aidan didn’t bother looking over at him. His attention was focused on the loud, obnoxious, rather massive man. Aidan didn’t want to find out if he could take him in a fight.

He tried to look the part, cool, suave, ready to handle any problem. He lit a small smile on his face. “I’m sure this doesn’t need to come to blows. Blood is a pain to get out of one clothes, don’t you agree, ser?”

“Are you kiddin’ me, manling?”
Am I being insulted or called young? I’ve seen elven children fight Darkspawn, there is no age requirement on courage.
“This elf here, commin’ t’ our inn,” the man gestured to the elf, “an’ thinkin’ he can ask us questions? He’s nothin’ but ‘n elf! Shoud go back t’ his Alienage- and b’ wiv his stinkin’ lot. Got no right t’ be askin’ us anythin”.

Aidan felt his blood begin to boil. This bigoted ass! Had he seen an elf before? Had he seen elven children sick to the bone with a dark plague? Had he seen elves give their lives for another? Who the hell was he to pass such a judgment!

Aidan felt the rage simmer, the fire burning, he felt a hand travel to his sword hilt. But he took a breath, and didn’t pull it loose. He just nodded, seemingly agreeing while he took a few steps back and turned to face both the elf, and keep the man in the corner of his vision.

And saw a rather odd site. It would appear Thatcher could teleport. Because, Aidan knew travel had been impossible with the blizzards, especially for his old retainer, yet here he was in Lothering of all places. Thacher seemed to be just getting over the shock of seeing Aidan, and started to back away from him, as if he didn’t know the young lord. Aidan did his best to try not to show surprise, but knew his face probably gave it all away. Well, time to try and roll with it.

“Ah! Thacher! There you are—By Andraste’s kneecaps I’ve been looking all over for you! I know you were expecting me here an hour ago, I ran into some business that I had to clear up. Ever the good retainer, I see.”

The rough man grabbed his shoulder, “This elf yours?”
“I employ him as a retainer, but—“ the man’s laugh cut him off.
“Nice joke, manling. You ain’t got t’ gold to ‘mploy even an elf like that,” he grew serious,
“And I’ll not ‘ave some manling ruin me fun. Step aside, I ’ave have a lesson t’ teach.”
Aidan’s free hand slipped in his pocket, and surprising the young lord, managed to slip on the signet ring all by its lonesome. The hand came out.

“Guess again, ser,” Aidan felt the sarcasm drip from his voice. He was quite tired of dealing with this rather terrible slime of humanity. He flashed his ring in the man’s face.
“I come from noble blood. So, unless you want to have a criminal offence for harming someone of my stature, and harming an aid I rightfully employ I suggest you stand down.”

His other hand was gripping his sword hilt incredibly tightly. He could feel the leather hilt begin to bite in his skin. He knew he was tired from his fight with the Silent Lord, felt the old exhaustion beneath the surge of adrenaline. But he wasn’t going to let this stand- not after all he’d seen.

The man spat, but missed by an impressive margin. Aidan finally realized what he should have seen forever ago. The man was drunk! His nose was glowing like Simon’s staff- his cheeks were flushed and his stance was wobbly. Aidan was still pissed, but he saw the man having trouble forming another argument and saw his arms reel back to try and push Aidan away. The young lord didn’t give him a chance. The ring hand grabbed the drunkard’s collar, pulling his face right next to Aidan’s. Aidan nearly winced at the smell of his breath.

“You just tried to spit on me and missed, “ Aidan said, his voice low, hot and angry, “You’re quite drunk. But I think maybe perhaps a set of teeth and one very pissed off hound might sober you up a bit. Look to your left if you wouldn’t mind.” The man’s eyes rolled left and then almost fell out of his eyes in shock.

Standing on the edge of the ring, growling low, his fur standing on end and his muzzle pulled back to show every one of his gleaming fangs, looking like some Darkspawn from the far reaches of the Dwarven tunnels, was Kent.

“That’s my Mabari hound. His name is Kentrell. Don’t think he’ll hesitate to kill you, he’s slain Darkspawn twice your size. I think if you sit your ass down right now and not speak again for the rest of the night, he won’t rip your throat out. Maybe. He really hates tavern vermin. You get my drift?”

The man nodded, he was absolutely terrified of the growling, practically frothing Kent. Aidan let go, the man collapsed in his chair. Aidan gave a nod to the ring of people standing around, who all seemed rather aghast. He wanted to bow and say, “That’s all folks! There’s the show, please feel free to donate as much as you want- I’ll be here next Tuesday!”

Instead he turned, gathered Thatcher, who seemed to be going into a rather severe state of shock, and found the ring of people parted for him, Thatcher and Kent rather easily. Aidan didn’t like all of the attention he suddenly got- but after he walked over to the innkeeper, suddenly didn’t mind it so much.

“Wow, ser. Mighty fine hound you got there. I’ve never seen someone talk down Luc when he was deep in his cups and in the fighting mood. Saved me a whole lot of trouble tonight, for sure!”
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