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From This Height [Closed]

Nathaniel Howe

Warden Commander of Ferelden
Canon Character
Noble
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
180
#1
((OOC: Solace 1, 9:35, Royal Palace, Alistair Theirin ))

Nathaniel sucked in a breath in an attempt to cool his temper as he stood just outside the gates of the Royal Palace. Meetings with the King were not uncommon when Nathaniel was in Denerim. Normally, Cauthrien met with his Majesty. However, when Nathaniel was in town, he took on the responsibility. As a curtesy, they kept Alistair appraised of the ongoings in the Grey Wardens. Having a monarch vested in the Grey Wardens certainly came with benefits. But there were also cons; cons that lead Nathaniel to the palace this day and a conversation he was not particularly looking forward to.

The anger he felt initially upon reading Alistair’s response lost some of its edge between Amaranthine and Denerim but was not completely dulled. While he was sure Alistair meant no slight by going to the Chantry to retrieve warden mage phylacteries, it was not his place to do so. I'm pulling rank was the phrase Alistair used. This matter was not one regarding the arling but the Grey Wardens. There was no rank to pull; Alistair was not the First Warden.

How to tactfully remind the King of his place in things was a tricky task and not one Nathaniel had full confidence in himself to complete. Such a dance was something his father might have excelled at. Of course, the smoothness of Rendon’s speech was often meant to obfuscate the barbs beneath. Nathaniel felt no such malice.

Shoulders squared, he resumed his entry into the palace. Better to get this over with then prolong what was necessarily inevitable. A noticeable increase in the amount of guards struck Nathaniel first as he slipped through the gates. Preparation for the wedding, he assumed. Two flanked him after he stated the purpose for his visit and accompanied him toward the main entry to the palace. His Warden-Commander armor earned him no favors and the escort continued inside the building until he was guided to a sitting room where he would meet the King.

Only once he was inside the room was Nathaniel left alone.
 

Alistair Theirin

King of Ferelden
Canon Character
Noble
Grey Warden
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DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
83
#2
One of the hardest lessons that Alistair had learned since taking the throne was that it was impossible to please everyone, but pissing them all off was a piece of cake. He wanted to be liked; it was a trait carried over from childhood, and as King, it had led to him trying to give everybody what they wanted. It had taken time – almost too much time – for him to realize that universal appeasement was almost as ruinous a course for a monarch as tyranny.

This wasn't to say that he still didn't give people what they wanted whenever he could, but when what they wanted and what someone else – or Ferelden – needed did not mesh, he had learned to say 'No.', diplomatically at first, with an eye toward compromise, but he could be blunt – and had been – if the need arose. It had been difficult the first few times, but after he had pissed off a dozen or so people and had not been struck down by a bolt from the blue, it had become clear that those who knew him understood his reasons, and even if they were angry at first, would cool down. Those who didn't know him, those who only cared for what he could do for them, would not be satisfied with anything less than total capitulation, and were not worth appeasing in the first place. Fortunately, the latter had proven very few in number.

Nathaniel was one of the former, but Alistair held no illusions that the Warden-Commander would be waiting for him with a bottle of wine and a thank-you note.

“Nathaniel, good to see you,” he announced as he entered the sitting room, leaving Donal and Hudson outside. He hadn't wanted either the formality of the desk or the casualness of the fireside armchairs in his study. This room, private and comfortable, with a nice view of the gardens, offered something in between. “Your trip here was uneventful, I hope?”
 

Nathaniel Howe

Warden Commander of Ferelden
Canon Character
Noble
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
180
#3
“Nathaniel, good to see you. Your trip here was uneventful, I hope?,” Alistair greeted as he entered the room without his guards. What did Alistair tell his guards whenever meeting with the wardens? What excuses did he give for not allowing them in the room? It was their duty to protect their King. Surely they did not like leaving him alone in the room with the son of a traitor? The thought was one brushed with bitterness and he did not allow such thinking to continue. He needed to remain calm. Such paths of thoughts would only stoke ire and contempt best kept at bay for now.

He sucked in a mediative breath. "Your Majesty.” Nathaniel turned away from the window he’d been staring at while he waited on Alistair’s arrival and bowed formally to his liege. “Uneventful enough.” No harassment in the streets. No fights along the way. The walk from the Warden Compound to the Palace, though more crowded than usual, was simply that - a walk.

He clasped his hands behind his back, posture straight. “I trust preparations for the wedding are moving along and not keeping you too busy.” Certainly not busy enough to keep you from meddling in matters you should not. Sourness seeped into his thinking once more and brought a faint twitch to his lips. He was never quite as adept at concealing his emotions as his father.

“More and more people arrive in Denerim each day it seems.” The majority came to profit off of or enjoy the festivities. Others came for far different reasons. It was those others he addressed. “I received word last month from Philippe that envoys from the First Warden would be arriving in Ferelden soon.” Philippe urged Nathaniel to listen to them when they arrived and he would. That did not mean he would trust them, though.
 

Alistair Theirin

King of Ferelden
Canon Character
Noble
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
83
#4
"Your Majesty.” Nathaniel’s greeting was perfectly formal, the bow flawless in form. “Uneventful enough.”

Yep. He was pissed.

“I trust preparations for the wedding are moving along and not keeping you too busy.” The Warden-Commander remained standing, very nearly at military attention, hands tucked behind his back, presumably to keep them away from his sovereign’s throat.

“Constance is handling most of it, actually,” Alistair told him. “I’m seeing to the tournament, but everything there is pretty well settled. My thanks again for your contributions to the purses. Wade’s work has been a powerful draw.”

“More and more people arrive in Denerim each day it seems,” Nathaniel observed dispassionately. “I received word last month from Philippe that envoys from the First Warden would be arriving in Ferelden soon.”

“How lovely.” Envoys from Wiesshaupt ranked – slightly – above ogres on his list of preferred guests. “I’ll make sure that Ingram has a fruit basket for them.” Maybe with some of those tart-sweet apples from the Korcari Wilds that made you shit like a dysenteric bronto the first time you ate them. A little something to remember Ferelden by.

Moving to one of the chairs, he dropped into it, steepling his hands in front of him as he looked up at Nate. “Andraste’s ass, man, let it out before you rupture something.” Nate was one of the few that he’d been able to be open with; he didn’t intend to relinquish that luxury unless he had to.
 

Nathaniel Howe

Warden Commander of Ferelden
Canon Character
Noble
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
180
#5
“How lovely.” Alistair was as thrilled as Nathaniel to hear of upcoming visit. “I’ll make sure that Ingram has a fruit basket for them.”

A crack in the overly formal veneer, Nathaniel was unable to stifle a snort as he imagined their warden visitors’ reactions to such a welcoming gift. Would they treat such fruit with all the kindness Philippe showed the extra china in the dusty rooms at Vigil’s Keep Aedan provided the Orlesians when they arrived? He swallowed down what amusement managed to trickle in and resumed his humorless stance. “That would be kind of you, your Majesty,” he commented with little emotion.

A little emotion too little for Alistair as he abandoned the chair he occupied just moments earlier and approached Nathaniel, exasperated. “Andraste’s ass, man, let it out before you rupture something.”

Nathaniel pressed his lips together in a thin line. “What do you want me to say?” Some of the puff left his sails. "You know I’m displeased and why.” Displeased was not quite the right word to truly describe Nathaniel’s anger at the situation but regardless of the apparent leeway Alistair just gave Nathaniel, he was not prepared to yell at the King.

He unlaced his hands to pinch at the bridge of his nose with finger and thumb. “It was not your place, Alistair, no matter the good intentions.” And there had to be good intentions. If Aedan had gone about doing what Alistair did, Nathaniel might have suspected a desire for glory. That was not Alistair’s way. “You are not Warden-Commander.” He sucked in a breath and kept a calm tone. “I am."
 

Alistair Theirin

King of Ferelden
Canon Character
Noble
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
83
#6
“What do you want me to say?” Nate demanded irritably, his jaw still tight with anger. "You know I’m displeased and why.”

Five … four … three … two …

Right on schedule, he lifted a hand to pinch the bridge of his nose. There was comfort in knowing him that well; it was not something that Alistair could say about many people these days. But the tension remained thick in the air between them.

“It was not your place, Alistair, no matter the good intentions,” he went on. “You are not Warden-Commander. I am."

No shouting. That was not Nathaniel’s way, but there was no missing the disapproval, the anger.

“And I am the King of Ferelden,” Alistair countered calmly. “And when two powerful and autonomous organizations are having a pissing match on my front lawn, I cannot afford to be seen just wringing my hands and asking everyone to play nice.”

He huffed a sigh, sinking back a bit in his chair. “I don’t have to worry about the Wardens overstepping their bounds.” Not like he had with Aedan’s impulsive choices. “The Chantry is another matter. I’ve got two dead in the Alienage because they put a bounty out on mages without setting clear boundaries, and not a chance that I’ll be able to hold them accountable for that ‘Vint’s actions. Templars murdered a Warden mage, but they’ll get away with that, too, because there’s nobody alive to dispute their account.

“I support the Grey Wardens.” He met Nathaniel’s eyes directly, his voice firm. “I am a Grey Warden and will be until I die. I won’t be the Warden puppet, like the Anderfels king is reported to be, but you’ve never tried to make me one, so that works out.” He leaned forward, his elbows on his knees, his expression earnest.

“I don’t want any more Warden mages to die. I got those phylacteries back because they deserve no less for the sacrifices they make, and because I know damn good and well that they knew all along that they should have surrendered them, but they kept that information from Aedan and me from the start. But I also did it to make damn good and sure that Elemena knows that I won’t tolerate any more questionable killings by templars.”

He leaned back again, grave now. “The shitty thing is, if it happens again, I won’t be able to do a damn thing unless there are witnesses. I can’t risk an Exalted March on Ferelden, or having the Chantry withdraw. I hate that Warden mages have to be escorted, but it may be the only thing that keeps them safe … and it may be the only thing that gives me any recourse if it does happen again.”

"Working to resolve differences on Fereldan soil is my place, Nathaniel," he concluded. "Not only my place; it's my duty, for the good of this Kingdom."
 

Nathaniel Howe

Warden Commander of Ferelden
Canon Character
Noble
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
180
#7
“And I am the King of Ferelden.” Check but not quite checkmate. “And when two powerful and autonomous organizations are having a pissing match on my front lawn, I cannot afford to be seen just wringing my hands and asking everyone to play nice.”

With a sigh, Alistair sank further into his seat. “I don’t have to worry about the Wardens overstepping their bounds.” There was a modicum of comfort to be taken by that confession. At least nothing Nathaniel had done so far was perceived as over-stretching by the King.

“The Chantry is another matter. I’ve got two dead in the Alienage because they put a bounty out on mages without setting clear boundaries, and not a chance that I’ll be able to hold them accountable for that ‘Vint’s actions. Templars murdered a Warden mage, but they’ll get away with that, too, because there’s nobody alive to dispute their account.”

Nathaniel suspected but could not prove the templars had been quite deliberate in their targeting of a lone Warden mage on the road. It was their word against the Grey Wardens. Innocence was to presumed in the face of no evidence. A bitter pill tbut one Nathaniel resigned himself to swallow for now.

“I support the Grey Wardens.” Alistair locked eyes with Nathaniel, firm in his speech as he added, “I am a Grey Warden and will be until I die. I won’t be the Warden puppet, like the Anderfels king is reported to be, but you’ve never tried to make me one, so that works out.”

More and more Nathaniel was learning the delicate game Grey Warden commanders had to play. They were supposed to be neutral when it came to politics. Experience had taught him otherwise. Neutrality was an ideal. Reality made other demands. That did not mean he wished to invite the King into helping him in making decisions nor did he wish to rule the Kingdom with Alistair as his puppet. That was something he father would have done. Nathaniel’s feelings for his father were complicated. One thing that was not, however, was his belief he was most certainly not Rendon Howe.

“I don’t want any more Warden mages to die. I got those phylacteries back because they deserve no less for the sacrifices they make, and because I know damn good and well that they knew all along that they should have surrendered them, but they kept that information from Aedan and me from the start. But I also did it to make damn good and sure that Elemena knows that I won’t tolerate any more questionable killings by templars.”

A bit of tension pulling at Nathaniel's expression relaxed. They were in agreement about one thing. Nathaniel also did not want any more Warden mages to die. Still, the message was not Alistair’s to deliver.

“The shitty thing is, if it happens again, I won’t be able to do a damn thing unless there are witnesses. I can’t risk an Exalted March on Ferelden, or having the Chantry withdraw. I hate that Warden mages have to be escorted, but it may be the only thing that keeps them safe … and it may be the only thing that gives me any recourse if it does happen again.”

Gives me any recourse. The words should have left Nathaniel relieved. The opposite effect rattled him, though. The stiff anger was gone but he was no less troubled.

"Working to resolve differences on Fereldan soil is my place, Nathaniel,” Alistair said, coming to the end to the explanation of his reasoning. "Not only my place; it's my duty, for the good of this Kingdom.”

Nathaniel liked to think himself not an unreasonable man. He suffered from bouts of stubbornness to be certain. Intractable reason and logic, however, always had a way of cracking and seeping into stone. He wanted to entirely discount everything the King had just said. Understanding, no matter how unwelcome, sang within his thoughts, though.

He understood why Alistair felt the need to intervene. His duty to the nation compelled him. If anyone could understand the demands of duty, that person was Nathaniel. Protection of the Grey Wardens was his, not Alistair’s no matter the taint they shared within their blood.

“I appreciate you believe you helped and I cannot deny that in some way you did,” he began, a great deal of care put in each word selected and the tone employed in speaking them. “I do not believe the Chantry will withhold phylacteries again.” The bruising Nathaniel’s pride took by the King’s actions were not what was important. He could move past that eventually.

There was more at play here.

“Your intervention… We know it is because you are no puppet, as you put it. Others may not if you continue to act on behalf of the Grey Wardens rather than allowing me to.” Nathaniel was not in Ferelden when Alistair was crowned. That did not stop him from hearing many thought the reluctant King would be an eager puppet of the Grey Wardens. Many in Ferelden knew little of the Grey Wardens save tall tales and the rumors spread about them during the Blight. Perception was a hard bear to battle and actions such as those Alistair took did little to help change the landscape.

Nathaniel spoke calmly, his tone even. "You have your duty, Alistair. Allow me to do mine."
 

Alistair Theirin

King of Ferelden
Canon Character
Noble
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
83
#8
Nathaniel listened to Alistair without interruption, but while his expression shifted somewhat, the disapproval was still very much present. In a way, Alistair couldn’t blame him, but Maker’s balls, it wasn’t as though this was a recurring problem!

“I appreciate you believe you helped and I cannot deny that in some way you did.” Alistair willed himself not to bristle; the words, even the tone, were all too reminiscent of the way Eamon had patronized him throughout the first year after his coronation, patting him on the head and telling him that he was far too inexperienced to rule just yet. Better to let older and wiser heads guide him. In fact, why bother being present in such tedious meetings at all, when he could be learning which fork he needed to use to eat the fish at the upcoming dinner for the Orlesian ambassador?

The situation was not the same, and Nate was not Eamon, but he’d never gotten the chance to redress his grievances with his old guardian after the stroke had felled him. They were generally buried deep enough that he seldom noticed them any more, but certain things made them bubble to the surface.

“I do not believe the Chantry will withhold phylacteries again.”

“That was the idea,” Alistair agreed tersely. He wasn’t looking for effusive thanks, but being treated as though he’d pissed in the Warden-Commander’s morning tea seemed a bit much.

“Your intervention… We know it is because you are no puppet, as you put it. Others may not if you continue to act on behalf of the Grey Wardens rather than allowing me to. You have your duty, Alistair. Allow me to do mine."

The words were delivered in the level manner of a man sure that he was right, and the Alistair of a few years ago would likely have immediately agreed and been all apologies. The intervening years had taught him that right and wrong were as rare as black and white. Choices were presented to him in shades of grey, and if he dithered hoping for the hues to alter enough to guide him, chances could be lost.

“Your duty led to the conscription of two templars,” he replied, his delivery no less measured. “The right of conscription is absolute, but that does not mean that it has no consequences. Threatening to evict templars from Amaranthine and conscript detained apostates also has consequences. Part of those consequences are that you would not have been able to convince Elemena to release those phylacteries as quickly as I did.” No acrimony, simply a statement of fact. It had likely been a mistake to let Eamon convince him to give the title of Arl to the Warden-Commander; the Arl of Redcliffe had plainly thought that it would bring the Grey Wardens under the control of the crown, but all it had done was create an awkward balancing act of trying to determine what was and was not his business.

He leaned forward, elbows resting on his knees with hands clasped between them. “Grey Wardens are not fealty-sworn to any king, but those in Ferelden are under the protection of Fereldan law. As King, I will not stand by while the Chantry allows innocent lives to be lost, be it the two in the Alienage killed by that mercenary’s recklessness or a Grey Warden bound for the Deep Roads killed by templars nursing a grudge. I do not make my decisions based upon what people will think, but upon what I believe is right.”

He lifted his shoulders in a shrug. “That doesn’t always mean that I am right, and I’ll take my lumps when I earn them. I haven’t stuck my nose too deeply into Grey Warden matters before, and I don’t intend to again, but in this case, I had leverage that you did not, and I don’t regret using it.”
 
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