Campaign of the Month: February 2009

Silent Winter

Naessa's Epilogue, Part 1: Solitude

In which Naessa thinks too much

Posted by jillyfae

It was still cold. Not as cold, and there was a hint of something warm and soft in the fluffy wide clouds scattered across the sky, but Naessa still felt a shiver every time she took too deep a breath.

She carefully pushed her staff into each snow drift, thudding securely against frozen ground before she took a step, clearing a path for the fragile seeming Falenath to follow.

She was determined, for once, to reach her destination without a new stain across her knees, or a spill of snow down her cloak. I want to make a good impression.

Not that there was anyone she needed to impress.

Certainly not Ferron. He’d known her her entire life, after all, and was perfectly well aware of her ability to walk down a path and try and look at three things at once, and ask five questions, and trip over her own feet. And he still…

Thinking about Ferron, and what perhaps, hopefully, he wanted, and what she wanted, was not going to make the trip back to the Clans go any faster.

How in the gods’ names was she going to tell Ninnion? If there’s anything to tell, that is. What if Ferron didn’t mean what I thought he meant? Normally, when she wasn’t sure what someone meant, she’d ask Ninnion. Bad idea. Especially after all the times she’d teased him about Ashoa. Or insisted she’d never fall in love, never marry. Never have to worry about balancing the needs of a lover or a spouse with the needs of the Clan.

He is never going to let me forget that.

If Ninnion got too annoying, she’d just have to threaten to tell Ashoa how he’d gotten her betrothal present. That was an embarrassing story. Involving theft, and nugs, and a lyrium-addled merchant in Orzammar. Ninnion did not come off well in that one.

Ferron did though.

Not helping.

What was I thinking about?

Impressing the Clans with my new-found steadiness, right.

The Valwe seemed pretty happy she’d faced down mists, and Grandmother, and gotten them all fed and patched up, to the point they’d let her adopt a strange human woman, so they probably wouldn’t mind if their unorthodox young Keeper had muddy leathers.

And Gheris’ former clan could have starring roles in Fen’Harel’s Dreams for the rest of time, for all she cared, the way they’d let Grandmother bully them, and the way they’d abused and abandoned their own. Even if Gheris made it very easy to want to bury her in leaf mold and leave her for the Spiders, that wasn’t a good enough reason for them to have actually metaphorically done it.

There is no way I can take over Keeper duties for the Iar. I cannot be fair to them. I would stick them in the back of every camp trail, ever, and make them eat dust for the rest of time. And Syndelir can… I can’t think of anything nasty enough to do to Syndelir.

Something that makes him deal with humans. And clean up after horses, since horses are so stupid compared to halla.

Naessa slid awkwardly across a patch of well-packed snow, and had to remind herself to slow down and pay attention again. Snarling about Grandmother’s legacy in my head will not get me down to Ostagar any faster.

I should have bought a horse. They may not be bright, but they’re certainly faster.

And warm.

Ferron is going to yell at me.

Naessa was rather surprised to discover this last thought made her smile.

Darana and Ninnion will probably yell at me too, for rushing out on my own and barely making sure we had proper supplies.

That was less amusing.

Not nearly as disturbing as it would’ve been, what, twenty days ago, before the Winter started? Really? Only twenty days? So much has changed. I don’t answer to Keeper Darana anymore. And Ninnion… I can see my life without him there all the time, now. That was impossible, before.

She paused for a moment, letting her magical senses flow back towards the elf behind her, pleased he still felt like a nicely banked coal, no cold spots or hot flares of discomfort or injury. Slow and steady, and we’ll get there.

She sighed softly, enjoying the quiet, and even the snow, now that she knew it wouldn’t last forever. The expanse of white rolling hills was actually quite lovely. And it squeaked a bit, beneath her boots. The sound made her smile again as she wiggled her toes against the leather.

This is probably the last time I’ll get to be almost by myself. How could I resist? Keepers don’t get to wander the countryside with only one quiet elder for company.

We can take care of ourselves, if we have to. Didn’t know that twenty days ago either.



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