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The Way I Feel [Closed]

Nathaniel Howe

Warden Commander of Ferelden
Canon Character
Noble
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
183
#1
((OOC: Firstfall 18, 9:35, Evening, Vigil's Keep - Howe Family Vault - Fergus Cousland ))

The ground was cold beneath Nathaniel; his body slumped in a seat upon the stone flooring of the Howe family vault beneath Vigil’s Keep. The painting of his father, rescued from what had been Bann Esmerelle’s estate years prior by Fiona, sat pristine across from him in direct counter to the splintered remains of what had once been the chair he often occupied when visiting the portrait of Rendon Howe.

Many months had passed since Nathaniel found himself in the vaults. The place was not a happy one for him. Darkness that matched the trail of his thoughts filled the room, only a few torches illuminating the expanse.

Today he had been drawn to this grim place. Guilt and a need for judgment bringing him before a painting he should have well destroyed long ago but could not find the strength to do so.

The letter had seemed an innocent one, tucked away amongst correspondence that had gone neglected too long. While eating a late lunch, Nathaniel sorted through the missives, setting aside those that could be answered later from those that needed a more immediate response. He had not recognized the penmanship on the outside of the letter thus intriguing him to open it before others.

What he read brought an end to his appetite and the first swells of guilt.

The letter warned from an anonymous friend of an assassination attempt upon Albert. Warned that he would be attacked upon the road in early Firstfall. Warned that his death was meant to be seen as a message to the Howes. Warnings read too late and not because the letter was not received in time but because Nathaniel was too distracted by Velanna’s abandonment of him.

An empty whiskey bottle lay at his feet, the remains of another grasped in his hand, he sloppy raised the drink in toast to the grim visage of the man before him. He was every bit of the disappointment his father thought him to be. Failing his sister, failing Albert, failing his nephew and niece. Too wrapped up in his own affairs, he allowed the preventable to happen.

Rendon Howe would never have let such a thing occur.

Perhaps it was the drink, the whiskey blurring his vision and dulling his other senses, he swore the corners of his father’s mouth, painting into the smuggest of smirks, raised just a hair.
 
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Fergus Cousland

Teyrn of Highever
Staff member
Canon Character
Noble
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
185
#2
Fergus and his entourage had arrived at the docks that afternoon. There had been plenty to do to get organized. Messages about arrival, condolences, and seeking lodging for members of his staff that would not be accompanying him to Vigil’s Keep.

Also securing some wagon transport for some of the goods and gifts he had brought with him. This had been an unexpected trip due to terrible news, and so he only had so much time to prepare. Once those who had travelled with him, but would not be joining him outside the city was settled, he made his way to the keep.

He had brought Boris with him, the horse remarkably doing well in the hold of the ship, and Riane rode with him in front of him on his saddle. The rest of the needed servants, including Riane’s nanny, formed a caravan behind him, with his guards and knights forming a loose circle around them.

Once they arrived though, things were a bit odd. He expected Nathaniel to greet them, but was disappointed to learn he had retired and not received his message yet. The seneschal did his duty, getting them settled in their rooms, and when he was sure Riane was okay, he went searching for Nathaniel.

A servant told him he had seen the Arl head downstairs before, and Fergus thanked him before finding his way down towards the underground area. The vault was down here, he knew, along with the wine cellar, but were there other uses here now? It had been too long since he had visited to know.

A flicker of candlelight caught his vision, and he moved towards it. He gently called out, “Nathaniel?” in hopes of not startling anyone.

What he did not expect to see once he made it into the chamber with the light, was Nathaniel crumpled on the floor, an empty bottle resting on the ground near him and another in his hand. He cast his gaze around, noting the splintered chair, the litter of some paper, and finally his gaze rested on a portrait he had not expected to see.

A strangled sound caught his throat, before he took a breath through his nose and turned away from the face of the man who had killed his family, and returned it to the man he loved. He felt bile rise in his throat, and he fought with the urge to both be upset that he still had a lovingly detailed portrait of that monster and the fact that Nathaniel was in pieces on the floor.

I take it you didn’t get my message,” he said in a strangled tone.
 

Nathaniel Howe

Warden Commander of Ferelden
Canon Character
Noble
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
183
#3
The spiral set its claws within Nathaniel, tugging him further and further down into the morass incrimination. And he did not resist. He welcomed the pain, the condemnation, the judgement.

Nathaniel let out a deep breath and peered through a dark fan of his undone hair at the painting before him. The man did not deserve his son’s lamentations. Nathaniel did not need Cauthrien’s damnable logic to come to that conclusion. Reason sometimes fell prey to self-loathing, though.

A whiskey laced gaze panned down to the bottle within Nathaniel’s grasp. Bitter irony brought a gruff sound, not quite laughter, from his throat. His father would not have approved of such drunken self-flagellation either.

Rendon Howe never drank to excess.

And yet..

Both his sons did.

Nathaniel opened his mouth, readying to ask the painting of his father how proud he must be when another he had not approached interrupted.

“I take it you didn’t get my message.”

Fergus.

There was one line Nathaniel never crossed with Fergus. He did not discuss his father or the complicating feelings he possessed for the man. He did not expect Fergus to understand nor did he want to burden him with knowing the man that he loved did not share his hatred for the man that murdered his family. For all the secrets the pair had shared, that was one Nathaniel never did.

Now it was a secret no longer. Fergus' tone said enough. There was no way he had not seen the portrait Nathaniel saved rather than burned as Fiona suggested.

Acerbic laughter, a short burst and nothing more, escaped Nathaniel. Of course Fergus would show up. Of course Fergus would find him here. If ever Nathaniel doubted his father lived on in the Void, no longer did he question the truth of such a belief.

“I did not,” Nathaniel managed to rasp out, voice thick from the whiskey.

Not wishing to further disappoint and not properly greet his guest, he attempted to press himself off the ground. One palm pushed onto the ground to give him just enough leverage to first rise to his knees then unsteadily upon his feet. “You seem to have caught me,” a wobble in his step widened the gap between his words, “by surprise."
 

Fergus Cousland

Teyrn of Highever
Staff member
Canon Character
Noble
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
185
#4
He still could taste the bile in the back of his throat, and he did everything he could to move to where that portrait would not be in his peripheral. Once he spoke, Nathaniel laughed bitterly and briefly. Fergus felt his nostrils flair, and he was once again assailed with the scent of whiskey. Maker, it smelled like Nathaniel had bathed in it.

I did not,” if there had been any doubt that Nathaniel was drunk, that would have dispelled it. Fergus understood drinking to excess. It was still his favorite forgetting-his-problems self destruction of choice, though the bouts were fewer and further between these days. Any other time he might have had more empathy, but he could almost feel the eyes of that painting boring holes through his back.

He crossed his arms, still fighting both his angry urges and his sympathetic ones, as Nathaniel struggled to get to his feet. He looked at the man he had never accussed of being party to his father's crimes, the man who he shared many secrets with, the man who had imprisoned his brother and Fergus had agreed that it was the right thing to do, the man whose daughter he was fostering. The man whom he would choose to spend the rest of his life with if it were possible.

You seem to have caught me,” Nathaniel stumbled forward, his words not coming easily, “by surprise."

"It seems you've done the same," Fergus remained still, even as Nathaniel moved towards him. His fingers dug into his arms so hard he was sure he'd be leaving bruises behind. He would not help him, not in here, in what appeared to be a broken shrine to a monster. A man who all traces of should be obliterated from all of Thedas. A legacy forgotten.

His tension was rising, and his anger was winning, for once. He felt tears sting his eyes, "What the void are you even doing? Why keep that?"

His head made the slightest motion towards the painting at his back. "Is this how you mourn your brother-in-law? By drinking under the gaze of that monster?"
 

Nathaniel Howe

Warden Commander of Ferelden
Canon Character
Noble
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
183
#5
"It seems you've done the same.” Unmoving stone, Fergus made no movements toward the staggering Nathaniel. Then tension in his features threatened to snap, a harshness of tone Nathaniel was not used to hearing from Fergus powering his questions, "What the void are you even doing? Why keep that?” Tear moistened eyes regarded Nathaniel, only the most cursory tip of the head gesturing to the painting looming within the background, "Is this how you mourn your brother-in-law? By drinking under the gaze of that monster?”

Nathaniel’s shaky hand rose, the knuckle of a thumb sloppily sliding against the bridge of his nose. “I think you about covered it,” he murmured, the sidelong tug of his mouth grim.

"I’m getting very very drunk.” A flippant addition to his response that brought Nathaniel to the ground once more, his knees collapsing beneath him. His bottom hit the ground with a soft thud and his head rolled back slightly before he pulled his gaze back to Fergus.

Each of Fergus’ questions deserved an answer. What a person deserved and what they received were not always the same, however. Nathaniel sucked in a heavy breath, his red-rimmed eyes blinking shut tightly before reopening. “Someone sent me a letter,” he began. The flick of his gaze landed upon the now crumpled parchment on the ground. “They wished to warn me about an attack on my family, specifically upon Albert.”

Slowly, he pulled his legs from out beneath him to stretch out upon the ground. His posture slumped, only the press of his hands into the ground at his sides keeping me from sinking into the floor further. A self-condemnation, sarcasm bit at his tone, “I should be more fastidious in reading my mail.”

He puffed out a bit of air blow away a strand of hair that fell to cover an eye. The attempted failed and Nathaniel let out another sharp laugh, no humor within the depths. “Why am I down here? Where better to feel sorry for myself and wallow in my failures?"
 

Fergus Cousland

Teyrn of Highever
Staff member
Canon Character
Noble
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
185
#6
I think you about covered it,” came a quiet answer from Nate. It just stoked the flames Fergus felt in his gut.

"I’m getting very very drunk.” came shortly after, with Nathaniel falling once again to the ground. How often had Fergus found himself in a place exactly like this. Drop down drunk, trying to drown out every regret, every loss, ever missed opportunity. In any other circumstance he might try to help Nate up, try to get him sober, but he still felt the eyes of the painting boring into his back. He'd never blamed Nate for what happened to his family, they avoided the subject of his vile father mostly, but perhaps it was a conversation they should have had.

Nathaniel continued trying to explain why he was down here, “Someone sent me a letter. They wished to warn me about an attack on my family, specifically upon Albert.

Fergus sucked in a breath. So he thought he could have saved Albert? Still, that had nothing to do with Rendon. It was as if even drunk Nathaniel was dancing around the very real problem in the room.

I should be more fastidious in reading my mail.” he recognized the self-loathing tone in his lovers voice, and shook his head. It was something he couldn't change now, and Fergus wanted to be sympathetic, but the anger burned in him brighter at his laugh and his next words, “Why am I down here? Where better to feel sorry for myself and wallow in my failures?"

Fergus looked at the door then. He was tempted to leave without another word. But he needed to know why. So instead of taking steps towards the door, he took a few steps towards Nathaniel before kneeling just out of his drunken reach, "You act like that should answer my questions about that monstrous painting. Your failures? Or his failures? He was a failure, a vile, petty, jealous man who ruined the lives of everyone he touched. Including yours."

His words were practically spat out, "So why are you having this crisis in view of it? Why do you even have it?"
 

Nathaniel Howe

Warden Commander of Ferelden
Canon Character
Noble
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
183
#7
If Fergus had walked away and left Nathaniel to his misery, Nathaniel would not have blamed him. Even Fergus had limits to what he would and would not permit in the name of love. Nathaniel always felt one such limit was the subject of his father. And now faced with a very real reminder of the man, Fergus was well within his rights to walk away.

He did not, though. Fergus stayed, kneeling before Nathaniel but not so close that he could reach out and touch him.

"You act like that should answer my questions about that monstrous painting,” Fergus accused. "Your failures? Or his failures? He was a failure, a vile, petty, jealous man who ruined the lives of everyone he touched. Including yours."

A raw sound pressed against Nathaniel’s closed lips. In that very moment, who did and did not ruin his life was entirely up for debate.

Fergus lashed out, "So why are you having this crisis in view of it? Why do you even have it?”

The question was such a simple one. A single word. Why. The answer, however, was far more complicated and quite possibly not one Fergus could understand. How could he? Fergus who grew up with two loving parents that supported him and always made him feel wanted. Fergus who lost so much but still opened himself to others so easily. Fergus who might very well walk away yet were Nathaniel not to put words to something he had yet to.

Nathaniel’s teeth raked harshly against his lower lip, the tang of blood mixing with the residual taste of whiskey coating his mouth. “Fiona found it when she was clearing out Esmerelle’s house for her family to take up residence.” Not an answer, but a start.

“She offered to get rid of it but I forbade it.” That evening she slept alone, leaving Nathaniel to his flagellations. “I think perhaps I kept it at first to remind myself—“ He shook his head and reached out a grasping hand for the nearby bottle. His throat was dry and the words needed further encouragement to be spoken.

A bit of whiskey escaped the corner of his mouth with his swallow. Fingers curled about the neck of the whiskey, he rested it against his thigh and attempted to pick up where he left off. “I would sit down here sometimes and simply stare at the painting to remind myself what I was not, what I did not wish to become.” Sarcasm laced a puff of weak laughter. “I have tried to hate him. I have beat myself up time and time again because of it.”

The words came out tightly, though spoken in a quiet tone, “I hate the things he has done. I would undo everything he has done if I had the ability to do so. Fergus,” he steeled himself, raising his eyes to look up to the man he loved most in the world, “I don't. I cannot change what he has done. I cannot change that he is my father. And I cannot change that a part of me still yearns for something I never had but hoped I could. Like any son might want from his father." The words tightened within his throat but he pushed them out all the same, "His approval and I hate myself for it."
 
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