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Irminric Eremon

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5
#1
(( 15 Kingsway, 35 Dragon, Mid-Morning, Alistair Theirin ))

Percy perched on his father’s arm, his own slung over his father’s shoulder as he jabbered on and on about the fennec he saw on the way to Denerim.

“Its ears were huge, Papa! Huge!” the boy exclaimed.

“Oh really? How big?” Irminric watched as his son tried to maintain his balance while shaping his hands into roughly the same size as a fennec’s ear, albeit an exaggerated one. Percy grinned and was about to chatter more about it when he suddenly tipped over with a yelp. Irminric’s heart skipped a beat as he lunged forward and pulled a giggling Percy back into a safer grip.

“Alright, Percy, I think it’s time you walked,” Irminric said as calmly and firmly as he could despite the third near-fall his son had had that morning. He doubted the boy’s clothes would make it through their visit without somehow getting a new tear in it. Irminric crouched down and let Percy climb his way back to the floor as he resumed his conversation about the fennec like nothing had happened.

“Do you think it could hear us talking all the way back home with those ears? They were just so big!”

“Maybe. Maybe it hears all the things you say and tells your nursemaid when you say mean things.”

“Really?” Percy’s eyes grew wide. “Wow, it must not talk to my nursemaid at all.”

“Oh? And why is that?”

“Because I don’t say mean things. Anyway, what if a fennec has bigger ears? Could it hear me in Denerim? Or in Orlais? Maybe there’s one with ears so big it can hear me all the way in the deepest part of the sea. Or maybe…” Percy went on and on, leaving no room for his father to intervene and answer his questions as he pulled him along with one hand wrapped around two of his father’s fingers. Irminric smiled and let the boy talk all he wanted as they made their way through the castle to the gardens. It would keep the boy occupied, but more than anything it reminded him of how much the boy took after his mother. Even at this age he already had her penchant for talking of nothing and everything.

“Percy.” They boy kept chatting, but Irminric stopped and gently pulled his son back to him. That was enough to interrupt his ever-growing run-on sentence. “We’re about to meet the king. Now this is really important: do you remember how I taught you to greet him?”

“Yup!” Percy gave a big bounce of a nod.

“Good. Are you ready?”

“Yup!” An even bigger bounce of a nod.

“Alright, here we go.” Irminric offered his hand to his son, this time wrapping his own around Percy’s before leading him into the garden where King Alistair was already waiting for them.

“Announcing Ser Iminric Eremon, Bann of the Waking Sea, and his son, Percival Eremon!” a guard said a little too loudly after they approached. Irminric thanked the guard with a nod anyway before turning back to the king.

“It’s been a long time, Your Majesty,” Irminric said with as cordial a bow he could muster. Once he was back up, he looked down at his son with an encouraging smile. “Alright, your turn.”

“A really big pleasure to meet you, Your Majesty!” Percy gave a near perfect bow, one that his nursemaid would have been proud of until he bounced back out of it.

“About Alfstanna,” Irminric began, “I wanted to discuss-”

“Papa said fennecs can hear whatever I say and that they tell my nursemaid all about it,” Percy interrupted. Irminric bit his lip to hide both the embarrassment and laughter that threatened to show itself, but he didn’t stop Percy from continuing. “He said they only tell her bad stuff but I never say bad things, but is it true, ser - I mean, your majesty?”
 
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Alistair Theirin

King of Ferelden
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Noble
Grey Warden
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100
#2
The air had begun to get crisp in the early morning, but the rising of the sun warmed the world up, and in a few short weeks, the real cold would arrive, so autumn was the time to get outside while you could. That was part of the reason that Alistair had chosen to have his audience with Bann Irminric on the patio overlooking the children’s garden.

The other reasons were currently engaged in a game of hide and seek. The rose garden was Constance’s to oversee; this particular garden had been his idea, and he had spared no expense. Shrubs painstakingly trimmed to resemble playful animals gamboled among a set of swings, a slide, a fountain in which splashing about was absolutely permitted and a miniature castle, complete with drawbridge. Here, he’d watched with quiet satisfaction as children long denied a childhood began to cast off the shadows of the past and discover the joys of play. Even Elena often joined Bran and Arwen, pushing them in swings, playing damsel in distress to Bran’s Grey Warden with amused tolerance or sitting beneath the willow that had been dubbed the Reading Tree while Bran read tales to his sisters. A year ago, they had been joined with increasing frequency by Peter Yorath, and now it was Peter Theirin who ran to duck behind a shrub shaped like a squat toad while Bran hid his eyes against the wall of the castle

A family. After years of yearning, never even daring to hope, he finally had the thing that he wanted most. His marriage to Constance, while nothing remotely like anything he had ever envisioned for himself, was nonetheless something that he could be content with, but it was the children that were his real joy. Alfstanna had said that her brother felt the same way about his only son (her opinions regarding the now-absent wife remained unspoken but clearly conveyed in the crackling irritation in her eyes). So Alistair had included Percival in the missive that had requested the Bann of Waking Sea to attend his King.

His elevation had been overshadowed by the royal wedding, the appointment of Quinton Yorath as Teyrn-Regent of Gwaren and his younger sister’s placement as the newest (and hopefully last) Arl of Denerim. He’d seemed to prefer it that way, and Alistair had respected that, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t going to check up. He felt more than a little responsibility for the man, and more than a little kinship.

“Announcing Ser Iminric Eremon, Bann of the Waking Sea, and his son, Percival Eremon!”

Alistair turned at the guard’s announcement, hands clasped behind him and a welcoming smile on his face. Alistair had seen him a handful of times since they had rescued him from the cell in Howe’s dungeons, but his mind’s eye could still see the haggard man with hollow eyes that spoke of a dance with madness peering from behind rusted iron bars, holding out the ring that proved his lineage, proved just how low Rendon Howe had sunk.

The man before him had filled out since that day, the once wild hair and beard neatly barbered, bones no longer quite so prominent. Still a hint of a limp, but the real change was in the way he regarded the boy that trotted at his side. Alistair knew that look, and the feeling that lay behind it: the earthshaking realization that loving someone more than life itself was a real thing … and it wasn’t about a woman. It was a tiny hand holding trustingly to your own, hair as fine as silk brushing against your cheek and eyes that looked at you as though you were the greatest thing in the world when you could put a broken toy back together.

“It’s been a long time, Your Majesty,” Irminric greeted him with a formal bow, then turned to his son with a fond smile “Alright, your turn.”

“A really big pleasure to meet you, Your Majesty!” the boy announced dipping a bow that was a mirror of the one his father had offered, except for the little bounce on the heels at the end.

“And a pleasure to meet you, young ser,” Alistair told him with a smile. “You’re looking good, Irminric,” he said, and meant it. The former templar’s struggles after being freed from his captivity had not been widely broadcast, but Alistair had checked in discreetly with Alfstanna over the months.

“About Alfstanna,” Irminric spoke, “I wanted to discuss-”

“Papa said fennecs can hear whatever I say and that they tell my nursemaid all about it,” Percival burst out, bouncing up and down in his eagerness. “He said they only tell her bad stuff but I never say bad things, but is it true, ser - I mean, your majesty?”

Alistair crouched until he was on eye level with the lad. “They do have big ears, don’t they?” he agreed with a smile. “I’ll bet they hear a lot of things, but if you never say bad stuff, you don’t have to worry. I hope they’re not listening to me, though.” He leaned in close. “I went down to the kitchen this morning and found that somebody had eaten the last slice of apple pie, and I said a few bad things, because I really wanted that pie for breakfast.”

He shifted, nodding toward the gardens, watching the boy’s eyes go round. “My son, my nieces and nephew are playing out there, if you’d like to go join them.”

He stood, watching as Percival glanced to his father for permission, then ran down the steps. Arwen ran to meet him, then Peter, then Bran. A few seconds of talking and the hide-and-seek game resumed with the addition of one.

“Be nice if things were still that easy,” he remarked to Irminric. No politics, no ulterior motives. Just ‘Hello, let’s play’.
 

Irminric Eremon

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#3
The King’s greetings were met with a cordial smile from Irminric and a much larger grin from Percy. The boy reveled in Alistair’s attention, hanging on his every word as the king leaned in to answer his absurd question. Irminric watched, amused both at his son’s wide-eyed interest and Alistair’s incredibly natural ability to play along with Percy’s antics. It wasn’t every day someone could keep up with the boy without missing a step.

“My son, my nieces and nephew are playing out there, if you’d like to go join them.” Percy rocked back on his feet before Alistair could even finish the sentence, ready to dash off before he remembered himself and looked up at his father for permission. How could he possibly say no to those wide green eyes?

Irminric gave the smallest of nods, enough for Percy to tear off with a, “Thanks, Papa! Bye!” tossed over his shoulder. A light chuckle escaped Irminric, uncharacteristic many years ago but seeming to crop up daily now that Percy unwittingly seemed to find a way to draw them out. The boy fell in with the group of children as if he’d known them all his five years of life.

“Be nice if things were still that easy.” The King’s remark drew Irminric back to the real reason he’d come to Denerim. An audience with the King himself wasn’t always easy to come by.

“Some folks would claim I’ve not much more depth than them,” Irminric replied. It was true enough - he’d never been talented at playing the game of politics, nor had he reveled in even the simplest of his noble duties. It was a job, one that he refused to complicate more than necessary. “I prefer it that way, though. I’d rather not while away my evenings worried about who may or may not be plotting something, but enough of that.”

Irminric finally lost sight of Percy long enough to fully return his attention to Alistair. Taking him in now, he couldn’t tell if the differences he saw in the man were simply age or his own rotten memory of the first time they’d met. Certainly Alistair stood a little taller - a crown could do wonders for a man’s posture, apparently, but there was also that something in his eyes, something that made them a little darker than what they should be. Irminric knew his own well enough. Years of recovery could only do so much to bring some of that old shine back, but it also made it easier to see it in others. The peacefulness of today would never erase what they had seen in the past, however briefly their own paths had crossed, however different their own experiences had been.

“I’ll venture to say that you won’t have to worry so much about that with Alfstanna,” Irminric said, trying to turn the conversation with a gentle hand. “She’s shrewd, but she’s loyal and welcoming. She would never dream of making your life difficult unless you deserved it. Of course, you know that well enough.” Of course the King did. Why else would his sister have been offered the position? “We’ll miss her at the Waking Sea. She’s been the heart of it for quite some time.”

Irminric looked over at the children to see Percy hiding behind a rather large hedge. Occasionally the boy would jump as high as his little legs would let him to peer over the edge as one of the others rushed around to search for him. A few leaves had already gotten caught in his tousle of brown hair, and even from this distance Irminric could see a fresh tear in the boy’s sleeve. Harlow was going to throw a fit when the pair returned to their living quarters.

“I’m sure this goes without saying,” Irminric continued, “but I had a favor to ask: watch over her. Denerim is vastly different from the Waking Sea, and while I’ve no doubt she will handle it splendidly, I can’t say the same for any other nobles out there. There’s been enough tragedy with Denerim already, but I hope she can overcome all that - with some guidance and assistance from you, of course. She may be the most capable person I’ve ever known, but she’s still my younger sister. I’m going to be concerned. Your support would help to assuage some of that.”
 

Alistair Theirin

King of Ferelden
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Noble
Grey Warden
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#4
The look of love on Irminric’s face as he watched his son joining seamlessly into the play made Alistair’s throat tighten a bit. It was the expression of a man who had more than he’d ever hoped to be given, and it didn’t have a damn thing to do with the Bannorn of Waking Sea, but it told him much of what he needed to know about his newest Bann. Alfstanna had been frank about her brother’s struggle to recover from what he’d suffered at the hands of Rendon Howe, but she had been adamant that the experience hadn’t broken him, and that his son had been the driving impetus for him to pull himself together and move forward.

“Some folks would claim I’ve not much more depth than them,” he remarked, his eyes still on Percival as Peter began to count and the children scattered. “I prefer it that way, though. I’d rather not while away my evenings worried about who may or may not be plotting something, but enough of that.”

“Not a bad way to be, all things considered,” Alistair agreed, meeting the other man’s gaze as Percival ducked out of sight and he turned away from the gardens. The brown eyes that regarded him were clear, but the shadows were not far. Between the Chantry’s tender care and Howe, he’d have seen more than his share of the evil that men were capable of, and he hadn’t forgotten it, hadn’t blocked it out. He just refused to let it shape him, and that took courage. If it looked likely to cross the line into dangerous passivity or avoidance, it could be dealt with then, but with Waking Sea not a point of contention right now, having a Bann who wasn’t looking for trouble would be more help than hindrance. Alfstanna would have advised her brother which landholders were potential problems and which neighboring nobles were the strongest allies.

“I’ll venture to say that you won’t have to worry so much about that with Alfstanna,” Irminric told him, showing not a trace of jealousy or resentment of the younger sister who almost all agreed eclipsed him in ability. “She’s shrewd, but she’s loyal and welcoming. She would never dream of making your life difficult unless you deserved it. Of course, you know that well enough. We’ll miss her at the Waking Sea. She’s been the heart of it for quite some time.”

“Yes, she has been. It is my hope that she will be able to inspire that degree of loyalty in Denerim, with time.” Alistair wasn’t fool enough to think that managing Ferelden’s capitol wouldn’t be like herding cats in a room filled with mice. “But Waking Sea overwhelmingly supported you as Bann.” The few grumblers had been hoping that the title would go to them instead, but as proud as Fereldans were of the independence implied by the selection of ruling nobles by those that they ruled, the attachment to bloodlines lingered. Which was how you got a royal bastard on the throne.

Irminric glanced briefly back to the gardens, watching his son select a hiding place, before returning his attention to Alistair. “I’m sure this goes without saying,” he began, “but I had a favor to ask: watch over her. Denerim is vastly different from the Waking Sea, and while I’ve no doubt she will handle it splendidly, I can’t say the same for any other nobles out there. There’s been enough tragedy with Denerim already, but I hope she can overcome all that - with some guidance and assistance from you, of course. She may be the most capable person I’ve ever known, but she’s still my younger sister. I’m going to be concerned. Your support would help to assuage some of that.”

“She’ll have my support,” Alistair promised firmly, “and I’m not going to be inclined to take it easy on anyone who tries to challenge her.” Hanging Vaughan Kendalls had driven home the point that the new king, while inexperienced, would not accept insurrection, open or otherwise. “She’s well thought of by her peers, so I’ve no real concerns on that score, but the merchants and guilds in the city haven’t had a firm hand guiding them in a while. And the situation with the elves is … delicate.” He grimaced. For every step forward on that front, it felt as though there were two steps back, even though he knew that things had improved from where they’d been at the end of the Blight. Still a long way to go, but one step at a time. “I’ve faith in your sister, though. She can handle it, and she’ll have the full support of the crown, as will you.

“Have you visited her since she became Arl?” he asked. Not as idle a query as it might seem to a casual onlooker. What he was really asking was if Irminric had returned to the place where he had spent months in captivity, tortured seemingly for the amusement of those who held him. The dungeons had been cleared, the bars removed, implements of torture dragged out and burned or melted down, and the walls and floors scrubbed, but Alfstanna had confided that the stench still lingered and the place retained its unsettling aura. The cellar was used for storage now, seldom entered, and the doors were kept locked.
 

Irminric Eremon

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#5
“Yes, she has been. It is my hope that she will be able to inspire that degree of loyalty in Denerim, with time.” Alistair’s opinion of Alfstanna was one many shared - Irminric had heard much of the same sentiments from other nobles who had taken it upon themselves to discuss the subject with him, many times with underhanded remarks about the former leadership of Denerim. While their comments certainly weren’t unwarranted, Irminric had learned to keep his opinions of Denerim and its past to himself. He never enjoyed the reminders of his months spent in captivity, and the less he spoke of it, the better.

“But Waking Sea overwhelmingly supported you as Bann.” That fact never ceased to surprise Irminric. The King himself recognizing it made it no less of a shock to him.

“I appreciate the Waking Sea’s sentiments, and I will serve them to the best of my abilities.” Irminric straightened his shoulders and stood a little taller, as if that would somehow lessen the weight of it all. “It’s the least I can do for them.”

It helped that the title would stay in the family. It helped even more that he was married and already had an heir. It didn’t help that his wife disappeared, and it definitely didn’t help that he’d spent the Blight imprisoned then recovering - if spending years in a drunken haze could even be called that. He was not the hero some of the other candidates touted themselves to be. The title would have been overwhelming and unwieldy the first time he had the opportunity to take it; now it felt downright unreasonable. Had it not been for Alfstanna’s staunch support and Percy’s future hanging heavy in the back of his mind, he would have rejected the offer as soon as it came up.

“She’ll have my support, and I’m not going to be inclined to take it easy on anyone who tries to challenge her,” Alistair said of Alfstanna, a statement that came more as a reassurance of known fact than anything else. Irminric had yet to hear even a whisper of anything to the contrary, but he wasn’t so dull as to know that there were some whispers that would never reach him. Having the King’s support would only keep those whispers even quieter.

“Have you visited her since she became Arl?”

“No.” The answer was automatic, a little sharper than intended. He’d heard the question before - Will you be visiting her? Would you like to go to the estate? The questions were all leading to the same place, the same idea. Just that morning Harlow had dared ask him if he would at least try to survey what his sister had done to that Maker-forsaken, rotten, decrepit, cursed, sorry excuse for a dungeon. It wasn’t exactly in those words, but it might as well have been. The very thought of returning to that estate, of even glimpsing the walls and shadows that still haunted his sleep, made it hard to remember how to breathe.

A few weeks ago, the mere suggestion would have sent him flying into a rage. He learned to silence that fury the moment Percy caught him yelling at a steward over it and ran away to hide. Bless his nursemaid for finding the boy before dinner, but his son’s round, terrified eyes were not worth his own frustration over earnest efforts from others to help him heal. While the anger could be quelled, the fear could not. Even though years had passed, he just wasn’t ready to face it yet.

“She and I took the liberty of a stroll through the markets.” Her idea, and a brilliant one at that. Dragging him out in public was hard enough at home, but Denerim was quite the opposite. The market’s liveliness had proven to be a welcome distraction. “It afforded her the opportunity to meet with some of her new constituents, and Percival right near fell asleep in front of a textile stand after running around chattering with every other shopkeeper that would listen.”

While Irminric loved how much of Blair’s personality had taken hold in his son, he couldn’t help but appreciate how quickly the boy was able to burn himself out because of it. Even as he spoke with the king, he could hear the chime of the boy’s voice. He’d been found by now and had given up on being sneaky in favor of chatting away into the ear of the closest child he could find. He’d moved on from talk of fennecs to a dog with particularly large paws he’d obsessed over at the markets the other day.

“Have you seen it?”
Irminric ventured to ask after a pause. It wasn’t the same as stepping in there himself, and while the question tasted foul in his mouth, he owed Percy and Harlow even just a tiny step of progress. “I wouldn’t let Alfstanna say anything about it - she wasn’t there. She wouldn’t remember. But you…” Even though Alistair had been on the other side of those bars for just a brief moment, it was more than his sister would ever know. “She’s cleaned it all up by now, hasn’t she?”
 

Alistair Theirin

King of Ferelden
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Noble
Grey Warden
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#6
Alistair had spoken with a number of nobles and landowners prior to making the decision to designate Irminric as Alfstanna’s successor in the Waking Sea. Their opinions had been largely in agreement: honest, kindhearted - possibly too much so, according to some, damaged by his past but not so broken as had first been thought. One observation had been unanimous: his lack of jealousy or resentment at the success of his younger sister. Some attributed it to a generous spirit, others to a lack of ambition. Over the years, Alistair had found that the opinions offered in such instances frequently said at least as much about the speaker as the one spoken of; he’d taken them with a few grains of salt, let Alfstanna’s endorsement be the deciding factor and resolved to make up his own mind once the wedding was no longer overwhelming his awareness.

He found himself inclined to agree with those who had most strongly supported the man. Irminric did not immediately puff up when informed that the freeholders of the Waking Sea bannorn had been in favor of his elevation. “I appreciate the Waking Sea’s sentiments, and I will serve them to the best of my abilities,” was his modest response, though he did stand a bit straighter. “It’s the least I can do for them.”

“It can be intimidating, feeling responsible for so many,” Alistair sympathized. “Don’t feel that it all rests on your shoulders alone, though. You have some there that you can trust?” Alfstanna had indicated as much. “Don’t be afraid to delegate some of it to them.” Much like Quinton Yorath, Alistair suspected this man would bear watching, but for very different reasons. His lack of faith in himself was almost as evident as his love for his son; he would need support, and the presence of Percival would give Alistair an excellent excuse to spend more time with him.

Confronting the demons of his past might help his self confidence, but it was nothing that Alistair could order him to do. He couched his suggestion as an inquiry, and when he heard the edge in the brusque reply, was prepared to let the subject drop for now.

Irminric surprised him. “She and I took the liberty of a stroll through the markets,” he remarked, and Alistair’s opinion of both siblings rose a sizeble notch: her for the compassion that led to offering such a compromise and him for the awareness to recognize it for what it was (and his expression made it quite plain that he had) and the courage to accept it. Whatever he had done in the past to hide from what haunted him, he was actively trying to move past it now, and even a small step forward was still a step forward. “It afforded her the opportunity to meet with some of her new constituents, and Percival right near fell asleep in front of a textile stand after running around chattering with every other shopkeeper that would listen.”

Alistair chuckled. “Arwen - my youngest niece - does the same thing,” he confided. “She starts talking when her eyes open in the morning and usually drops off between one word and the next at night.” The two of them were chattering away at each other now as Bran and Peter watched with the indulgent amusement of older brothers. Movement caught Alistair’s eye - the mabari pups had awakened from the coma that they generally went into after downing half a bronto’s weight in meat and offal at breakfast and were charging out to play, all floppy ears, long legs and huge paws ... and lots of drool. Brego made a beeline for Bran, Rufus proceeded at a more sedate pace to Peter, and the three that had claimed Donal, Hudson and Hicks alternated between the children and the three guards as they spread out on the perimeter to make sure the play didn’t get too rough.

Alistair watched, too, just in case Percival showed any sign of being afraid of the dogs - even as half grown puppies, they were bigger than all but the biggest breeds of any other dog, but Darius’ promises had been quite accurate. Even at this young age, they responded quickly to any verbal commands if they got too rowdy.

“Have you seen it?” Irminric’s tightly controlled query brought Alistair’s attention back to his guest. “I wouldn’t let Alfstanna say anything about it - she wasn’t there. She wouldn’t remember. But you…” The King could see the slight pallor in the man’s complexion, the faintest sheen of sweat at his temples and neck. “She’s cleaned it all up by now, hasn’t she?”

“She has,” Alistair confirmed in a level voice, well aware of the trust that was being placed in him. “Others had before her; it’s been empty of everything that was down there before for a few years now, but she scrubbed it down anew the first week she moved in.” And she’d been right down there alongside the servants in a worn tunic, her hands reddened by hot water and lye soap, and a fire in her eyes that Alistair had known better than to argue with. He’d stripped down to his undertunic and joined in, doggedly ignoring the way that his memory tried to superimpose images of what had been over what was; after an hour or so, that had faded, leaving him feeling an odd sort of satisfaction at the realization that there was nothing left of Rendon Howe there. All that remained were the bad memories, but no amount of labor could scrub those away for Irminric. Only time and love could accomplish that.

Irminric had the second now; he simply needed support while the first worked its slow magic. “If you ever want to get a mabari for Percival, I highly recommend the Glenmorgan clan out of Highever,” Alistair offered, his lips quirking in a whimsical smile as he went on. “I went there to get a mabari for my nephew and made the mistake of leaving him and my guards unsupervised with a litter of puppies. That, apparently -” he shook his head bemusedly as he looked out at the joyously tumbling cluster of puppies and children, “is how you get a pack, so consider yourself warned.” He didn’t mind; any other time, he’d be out there in the middle of it, enjoying himself thoroughly.
 

Irminric Eremon

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#7
“It can be intimidating, feeling responsible for so many.” No wonder the man was King - he had a way of pinning down exactly what Irminric was most concerned about. Going from just a handful of mages to an entire region was nothing to sneeze at. As much as Irminric tried to put on a steady face about it, there was no denying the fact that the task itself was overwhelmingly daunting. “Don’t feel that it all rests on your shoulders alone, though. You have some there that you can trust? Don’t be afraid to delegate some of it to them.”

“No need to worry, Your Majesty,” Irminric replied calmly. “I will find my way with the Waking Sea, and I’ve been finding support in some of the strangest of places.” Harlow had been a stroke of luck - dismissed by some far-off Bann, he’d come to the Waking Sea to offer his services to Irminric not long after Blair and Percy had shown up. Balancing his duties that Alfstanna had passed on to him to keep him busy along with trying to make up for lost time with his newfound family, he’d taken Harlow on without a second thought. Others had cautioned him against the decision, especially since Harlow adamantly refused to discuss his previous employment, but the new retainer quickly proved himself to be more than capable of handling his responsibilities and more.

It hadn’t taken long for one of the other servants to dig around enough to discover that not only was Harlow elf-born, but he’d also been nothing more than a kitchen servant for his old Bann, a glorified potato-peeler at best. He’d been working off his family’s debt, earning little but learning much with keen ears and sharp eyes. When he felt he’d learned enough, he’d run away to find a better opportunity.

As soon as the rumors took on a more defined story, Irminric and Blair pulled aside Harlow and gave him the opportunity to confess. Much to their relief, he was finally honest and forthcoming, and while Irminric admitted he was disappointed that he’d kept the secret so long, he offered to pay off the rest of the family’s debt so long as Harlow would stay. Harlow declined the aid but agreed to remain, a move that on most days would have been met with argument, but Irminric could see the pride Harlow took not only in his job, but in his capability of handling his own problems as well. It was never spoken of again, and Harlow had proved to be nothing but the best support for his liege ever since.

The conversation moved on from there, thankfully, to that of the children. It seemed Percy wasn’t the only one with a penchant for chattering away the day. He could only imagine what kind of trouble the pair would get into if left to their own devices for too long. At least Percy wouldn’t terrorize the kitchen staff so much if he had a friend his own age that could keep up with him. He wasn’t sure if he could handle more than one talkative child in his home, though, if not for his own sake then for that of the servants.

The thought didn’t have much time to linger, though, for there were more important things to discuss. While the thought of his old prison still sickened him, he managed to get out the question to Alistair without bile rising up in his throat or a chill running down his spine.

“Others had before her; it’s been empty of everything that was down there before for a few years now,” Alistair explained, “but she scrubbed it down anew the first week she moved in.” Knowing Alfstanna, Irminric wouldn’t have been surprised if she’d been down there herself, soap in hand and that determined expression on her face. The thought softened the old memories, just enough for him to settle his shoulders and take a good breath.

“Thank you,”
Irminric said. He let out a low chuckle, the thought of her side-by-side with the servants, probably working hardest of them all, bringing a smile to his crackling features. “I would expect nothing less from her. She’s been quite adamant about that ever since I returned home.”

“If you ever want to get a mabari for Percival, I highly recommend the Glenmorgan clan out of Highever,” Alistair offered as if on cue. The thought had struck Irminric as soon as he’d caught sight of his son staring wide-eyed at the puppies. At first his heart froze and he was tense; Percy had always been terrified of any animal he couldn’t carry. Now the boy stood still, no screaming or running away this time. He kept his hands close to his chest, though, and one foot was turned as if he was ready to dash back to his father at the slightest hint of danger. The other children weren’t concerned with the dogs, and an older one picked up a smaller puppy and held it before Percy. Irminric couldn’t tell what she was saying, but it was enough for Percy to carefully reach out a small hand and pet the puppy’s head. When the puppy opened its mouth in a lopsided, panting grin, Percy broke out into a huge smile. The fear was gone, for now at least, and it gave Irminric enough encouragement to consider a new addition to the family.

“I went there to get a mabari for my nephew and made the mistake of leaving him and my guards unsupervised with a litter of puppies. That, apparently is how you get a pack, so consider yourself warned.”


“I’ll have to keep a close eye if we ever meet Glenmorgan,” Irminric chuckled. “I’m more worried Percy would talk the poor folks’ ears off before we could leave with a puppy, though. We’ll have to find one that can listen to his chatter all day.” An easy task for a Mabari, but a task nonetheless. They would have to pick wisely, lest he end up with two noisy little monsters running around the estate instead of one.

“The girl with Percy right now,” Irminric gestured in their direction, “which child is she? It’s a rare skill to get Percy to do anything he doesn’t want to do, but she seems to be a natural.” She sat beside Percy now. Somehow she’d coaxed him into holding onto the puppy himself, and now he was squeezing and petting the little creature as if it was that Fennec he never stopped asking for. If getting him over his fear of dogs meant he’d no longer beg for a Fennec, Irminric was all for whatever steps they could take in that direction.
 

Alistair Theirin

King of Ferelden
Canon Character
Noble
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
100
#8
If Irminric harbored any lingering misgivings about becoming Bann, he hid them well.

“No need to worry, Your Majesty,” Irminric replied in a level tone to Alistair's encouragement. “I will find my way with the Waking Sea, and I’ve been finding support in some of the strangest of places.”

Fair enough, and Alistair accepted this with a nod, letting the conversation turn to lighter subjects: Arwen and Percival sounded like kindred spirits, and it would be nice for her to have a playmate who could match her boundless energy. Things took a more serious shift when the subject of Denerim came up … or more accurately, the Arl of Denerim’s estate. Irminric kept himself under tight control, but the strain in his voice was audible when he asked if the dungeons had been cleaned up. Fortunately, the question was easy to answer in the affirmative; it had been one of the first thing that Alfstanna had seen to.

“Thank you,” the other man told him, a relieved smile creasing his features. “I would expect nothing less from her. She’s been quite adamant about that ever since I returned home.”

“She loves you very much,” Alistair told him firmly, ignoring the wistful twinge in his chest. Goldanna had not felt the same way about him, and she’d had good reason not to. Perhaps that might have changed with time, but they hadn’t been given that time. He had her surviving children; that was enough, though a part of him would always hold a quiet regret for what might have been.

In the gardens, children and pups had fallen easily into their customary rough and tumble frolic, with Percival poised at the edge of the fun, eager but anxious. Elena bent to hoist Hudson’s Bella into her arms and approached the lad, crouching to bring it within his reach. He reached out cautiously to scratch her head, and a pink tongue promptly curled out to lick his hand. Percival’s smile spoke volumes, and his father, who had been watching with barely leashed anxiety, relaxed with a chuckle.

“I’ll have to keep a close eye if we ever meet Glenmorgan,” he responded to Alistair’s recommendation … and his not-quite-joking warning. “I’m more worried Percy would talk the poor folks’ ears off before we could leave with a puppy, though. We’ll have to find one that can listen to his chatter all day.”

“They’re good at that,” Alistair assured him. Brego would listen to Bran reading to him for hours on end. "I'll be getting one for Arwen in a year or so." And would be fielding daily requests until that day came, he was sure.

“The girl with Percy right now,” Irminric began, nodding toward them, “which child is she? It’s a rare skill to get Percy to do anything he doesn’t want to do, but she seems to be a natural.”

“That’s Elena, Goldanna’s oldest,” Alistair told him, feeling a glow of pride. “She’s been looking after her younger siblings for years; she’s got quite the knack for it.” That she had finally entrusted Alistair to shoulder most that burden was a cause of no small satisfaction to him; that she could relax her guard enough to play now pleased him even more.

“If you ever have business that brings you to Denerim overnight, I’d be glad to have Percival sleep over,” he offered casually. “The children would enjoy it, and we’ve more than enough guest rooms to accommodate you, as well.” Which would offer him an alternative to staying with Alfstanna until he felt ready. “And if you get Percival a mabari, it’s welcome, too.”
 
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