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Wardens On Parade [Group 1, Closed]

Cauthrien

Warden-Constable of Ferelden
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Canon Character
Grey Warden
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299
#1
((15 Haring, 9:35; Mid-morning; Orzammar, Chamber of the Assembly; Niamh , Sofia di Castelbuono , Cordelia ))

For centuries, the Assembly of the Clans had played a key role in the political structure of Orzammar. The eighty deshyrs, made up of representatives from the most influential noble houses, had set law, advised the reigning monarch, served as a judicial body for the most serious of crimes among the higher castes and voted on the elevation of individuals to the status of Paragon.

They also could choose the new monarch, if the sitting ruler died without designating an heir. It had happened during the Blight, and glancing around the chamber, Cauthrien wondered if the deshyrs regretted their choice. King Bhelen had dissolved the Assembly after resistance to his frequently drastic changes had culminated in multiple attempts on his life, most of which, according to rumor, originated in the Noble and Warrior castes. The Chamber of the Assembly was now an audience chamber, with a solid phalanx of guards between the elevated throne and the stone risers where the spectators were sitting. No longer just the deshyrs, but members of the lower castes, as well, invited by the King to witness his continued alliance with the Grey Wardens. No casteless, though, she noted. The king might be willing to let them throw their lives away against the darkspawn in return for a bit of upward mobility, but he was canny enough to realize that according them any greater rights might arouse the resentment of the lower castes that currently supported him: the Smiths, Artisans, Merchants, Miners and even the Servants. Everyone, no matter how low, wanted to be able to look down and assure themselves that there was someone lower.

Guards had searched every guest for hidden weapons; only the Grey Wardens had been excepted, and Cauthrien could all but feel the evaluating eyes upon them, weighing the risks of attempting to enlist them in a bid to remove the ‘tyrant’ against the sure retribution if the attempt failed. Pyral Harrowmont had been executed as soon as Bhelen had taken the throne, and in the ensuing months, House Harrowmont had been driven to extinction, its members either found dead under mysterious circumstances or killed outright. None of the deaths had been tied conclusively to King Bhelen … at least, not openly, but the message had been clear enough. It was whispered that a single nephew had escaped and sought sanctuary with the dwarves of Kal-Sharok

Her expression gave no hint of her thoughts. Whatever she thought of Bhelen’s politics and actions, the Grey Wardens were not here to either support his rule or supplant it. She could not keep the King from capitalizing on their presence here, but she had no plans to assist him in it.

“The Grey Wardens of Ferelden have business before the King!”

That was their cue, and Cauthrien led the group, all of them wearing their dress uniforms, across the floor of the chamber, stopping before the throne and offering the King a crisp salute and a bow that was not too deep: respect without obeisance.

“Your Majesty, I am Warden-Constable Cauthrien MacLean. Warden Commander Howe sends his greetings and his respects, but his sister’s husband was recently murdered, and his presence is needed in Amaranthine.”

King Bhelen nodded, eyes narrowing. “Assassins,” he said flatly … and loudly enough for his voice to carry to the highest reaches of the chamber. “Please give your commander my condolences.” His gaze shifted past Cauthrien. “And your brave companions?”

Cauthrien stepped slightly to the side, indicating with a nod that they should each introduce themselves.
 

Niamh

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37
#2
Niamh was a nervous as she'd ever been. Leaving her clan had been one thing, one which had involved a great deal of pain, but she'd done it as bravely as she might. Getting involved with beautiful people like Moira and Siali has made her anxious but she faked confidence until she truly felt it. Fighting darkspawn had made her sick, reduced her to quiet tears, and taken a literal piece of her but she was ready to face them again as needed. Royalty? Diplomacy? Politics? The Dalish woman would never really grasp these things no matter how hard she tried. Marching into King Bhelen's throne room, even alongside her fellow Wardens, even alongside her lover, felt like she was walking to her death.

There was a history here, Niamh knew. One tied back to the Hero of Ferelden and his decision to muck about in Dwarven politics. Had it been worth it? Well, it had secured support for the Grey Wardens at the time but from all the whisper she'd heard while wandering the city this King Bhelen was a ruthless as anyone who had power. Even if he'd done some good, it sounded like a lot of folks needed to die for it. Maybe Niamh had a simpe view of the world but that didn't seem right to her. As they entered the throne room and she saw its splendor in earnest, it was hard not to wonder how much blood had been spilled in this room. Either literally or by decree. Before she could open her big, dumb mouth to say something, Cauthrien made introductions.

“Your Majesty, I am Warden-Constable Cauthrien MacLean. Warden Commander Howe sends his greetings and his respects, but his sister’s husband was recently murdered, and his presence is needed in Amaranthine.”

"Assassins,” King Bhelen said. He did not look much imposing, but his voice floated around the room. Niamh understood this as a sort of theater, meant for onlookers. “Please give your commander my condolences.” His gaze shifted beyond Cauthrien to the rest of the Warden. “And your brave companions?”

“Warden Mysaria Grivia, Your Majesty.” The mage held herself in propriety, as most mages seemed to. Niamh, however, stumbled over her words.

"I'm Niamh," she said with a bit of a wave. "Um, I'm well... I am... I'm from Clan Ròcas. That's one of them Dalish clans, what I dunno iff'n ye know much about on account of yer keepin' under this her mountain 'an restin' yer buns in that throne. Um, Yer Majesty." The last part was said with a bow, which she'd learned from Moira. But the word? Well, it was too late to take those back.
 

Sofia di Castelbuono

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Grey Warden
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71
#3
Sofia was familiar with magnificence. The grandeur of her childhood home had borne the marks of her mother’s good taste, the Circle had been well appointed, and most of the cities she had been to in Antiva had been wonders of design, white marble and vibrant blooms brought to vivid life by the sun. Even Denerim had had its murky wonder, given the battle against the darkspawn and the towering – if ominous – Fort Drakon.

The halls of Orzammar were something else. To have carved all of this from the rock must have taken centuries of effort, and while many of the designs were a little too blunt for her taste, she could see the skill behind it. More than that, she could see the effort. Her gaze wandered from floor to pillar to ceiling as they were admitted to the Assembly, taking in everything with an appreciation for what had gone into it, before settling on the King.

She knew his face immediately. Since becoming a Warden, she had met a few more nobles than she had in the Circle, and Bhelen wore their expression; one that combined diplomatic welcome with shrewd assessment. She dipped her head when his gaze passed over her, mimicking Cauthrien’s bow exactly, then resumed her assessment of him. Stocky enough to easily handle a weapon, his clothing was as dignified as could be expected of a king – although he appeared to be wearing something beneath. Given what she had heard of the man, it seemed likely he would take all measures against assassins. He uttered the word himself, giving weight to it after Cauthrien had explained why Commander Howe couldn’t join them. It was deliberate, weighed to let everybody in the room know that he wasn’t about to be caught off guard by such things.

Mysaria, contrary to her usual shy nature, introduced herself with quiet dignity. Niamh struggled a little.

“I’m Niamh. Um, I'm well... I am... I'm from Clan Ròcas. That's one of them Dalish clans, what I dunno iff'n ye know much about on account of yer keepin' under this her mountain 'an restin' yer buns in that throne. Um, Yer Majesty."

Bhelen gave the Dalish woman a look that crossed surprise with begrudging amusement. “If only all people spoke so plain, politics would not be the burden it is.” A useful impression to give his foes, she was sure. Convivial, more used to the axe than the negotiating table. Let them underestimate him and walk straight into a verbal trap. Fortunately, Niamh stopped there.

“I am aware of the Dalish. Several of my kin fought alongside yours topside. I hear you acquitted yourselves well.” His gaze swept to her. “And you?”

“Warden Sofia Elena Ami di Castelbuono, of Antiva, Your Majesty.” That was enough of an introduction; if he had questions about her origin, those could wait until everybody had given their names.
 

Cordelia

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#4
Cordelia has made it a point to not wander too far from the Shaparate during their free time, content to wile away her time with documents and books that granted insight into Dwarven history. Like it or not, she would need to become rather familiar given the connections between the Grey Wardens and the Dwarves. Most of it was dry, the Dwarves ever so interested in outlining family trees to an extent beyond Ferelden nobility, but the time was not an entire waste. There were the occasional documentations of magical phenomenon and early encounters with the Chantry that left Cordelia enraptured. She kept close to one of her fellow Wardens as she could, still not quite accustom to freedom and uneasy with wanderings.

When the time came to meet with Kin Bhelen, Cordelia had taken a moment to retire to her room and freshen up. There was no reason that she needed to look anything other than immaculate. She did not profess to understand the intricacies of Dwarven society or etiquette but she knew what her mother would have asked of her, as so she presented herself as best she could. Hair brushed and braided, she was comfortable enough that she could hide her amazement as they entered the throne room. Introductions were being made and all seemed good until Niamh spoke.

“I’m Niamh. Um, I'm well... I am... I'm from Clan Ròcas. That's one of them Dalish clans, what I dunno iff'n ye know much about on account of yer keepin' under this her mountain 'an restin' yer buns in that throne. Um, Yer Majesty."

Cordelia did a double-take, feeling mortified on the elf's behalf. She was a kind woman but not well versed on how to behave. Thankfully, King helen did not seem upset. Cordelia understood that he was speaking less to Niamh and more to the room itself, but the young mage was thankful for the king's canny reaction.

“If only all people spoke so plain, politics would not be the burden it is.” Cordelia suppressed a smile. If anything else, she appreciated how Bhelen navigated out of the situation without demeaning Niamh. Further introduction were made, and Cordelia took a step forward when her turn came.

"Cordelia Marie Lendon," she said with a bow. "It is a honor, Your Majesty."
 

Cauthrien

Warden-Constable of Ferelden
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Grey Warden
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#5
Back in Amaranthine, Nathaniel was surely pinching the bridge of his nose without knowing exactly why, but if King Bhelen took any offense to Niamh’s decidedly informal address, he gave no sign. Whether his response was genuine or intended to keep the watchers in the former Assembly off balance was unknown, but Cauthrien chose not to worry about it, allowing her amusement to show in the faintest of smiles that shifted back into an impassive mien as the others introduced themselves.

“Welcome, all of you,” Bhelen spoke when they were done, coming to his feet and stepping to the front of the dais that his throne sat upon. “The Grey Wardens are and will remain honored guests in Orzammar.” His eyes shifted briefly to the doors at the rear of the chamber, irritation flickering across his features too quickly to be noted by anyone further away than the Wardens. “I received your missive,” he went on, “and I agree that maps of the Deep Roads beneath Ferelden will be of benefit to both of our peoples.”

His pause was significant, and Cauthrien braced herself. Here it came.

“However,” he went on, “the Shaperate of Orzammar does not contain the most complete maps. Those dating back to the original Kingdom were secured in Cadash Thaig, lost centuries ago to the darkspawn.” A murmur ran through the gallery, but Cauthrien just waited, knowing full well what was coming.

“The thaig is located past the lines that our warriors have established beyond the Dead Trenches; we cannot risk thinning those lines to make a drive of our own, but we can create a diversion to draw the darkspawn, allowing your group to push through to the thaig and return with the records.”

“A risky endeavor,” Cauthrien pointed out, “and if the thaig has been abandoned for centuries, what condition are those records likely to be in?” Damned if she was going to risk lives for piles of moldering paper.

“The records are graven in stone,” Bhelen replied, adding as he saw the expression on her face, “We will provide the parchment and other supplies needed to make rubbings. Our Shaperate can then transfer the records to the Memories, and -”

Cauthrien felt the vibration in the stone beneath her feet, growing stronger in the seconds before the chamber doors swung open to admit a towering form that overshadowed even Aerion, preceded by a harried-looking dwarf in the robes of the Shaperate.

“I’m sorry, Your Majesty,” the dwarf stammered, “I tried to tell it -”

The king silenced him with an upraised hand, regarding the stone golem with more resignation than irritation. “You’re late,” he informed the new arrival, his tone suggesting that he wasn’t expecting any apology, couldn’t do a damn thing about it and wasn’t particularly pleased with that fact.

“A girlish failing.” The gravelly voice and massive size seemed anything but girlish as the golem lumbered forward, crystals embedded in the granite across the shoulders and chest rippling with light at every step. “But I am here now, so we can begin.”

“We’ve already begun,” Bhelen growled, glaring at the gallery, where the few titters that had begun to rise were quickly silenced, before turning his attention back to Cauthrien. “As I was about to say, Shale of House Cadash will accompany you as guide and comrade-in-arms, while Shaper Dirthon,” he indicated the robed dwarf, who looked to be on the verge of either fainting or throwing up, “will be present to record this momentous occasion for the Memories.”

The immense head turned until the glowing eyes rested upon Cauthrien. Stone features could not express emotion, but light coruscated across the crystals in waves of red and gold, green and blue.

“I remember you,” Shale intoned.

“And I you,” Cauthrien replied simply, inclining her head in acknowledgment.
 

Niamh

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#6
Niamh felt a fool, but at least she'd been an honest one. It took strength not to sidle closer to Siali but she fought the urge, standing back at attention and observing the veritably pageantry of Bhelen's every move. The need for maps of the Deep Roads was clear to both the Grey Wardens and Dwarves. Hell, even Niamh could glean their importance. But there was, as always a catch, they were incomplete and the necessary records were in the Deep Roads themselves.

“A risky endeavor,” Cauthrien pointed out. Walking around shemlen at nightfall was risky. This? Well, Niamh considered it something else entirely. Idly, a pain flared in her once-injured hand. The feel of sharp teeth and the crushing of bone. “...if the thaig has been abandoned for centuries, what condition are those records likely to be in?” A fair question. Niamh wasn't about to fight darkspawn on a lark. Nor would she drag along the young mageling into danger without assurance that what they sought was there.

“The records are graven in stone,” Bhelen replied smoothly. “We will provide the parchment and other supplies needed to make rubbings. Our Shaperate can then transfer the records to the Memories."

Then came the vibrations and the stomping. Niamh reached for weapons which were not there, wondering if the darkspawn had become so smart and bold as to burrow directly into the throne room. Instead, her jaw fell near agape as a walking statue entered the room. "I am here now, so we can begin.” All Niamh could do was blink... and let words slip from her mouth once again.

"The shite is that?"

"As I was about to say, Shale of House Cadash will accompany you as guide and comrade-in-arms, while Shaper Dirthon,” he indicated the robed dwarf, who looked to be on the verge of either fainting or throwing up, “will be present to record this momentous occasion for the Memories.”

Niamh watched on with a mixture of wonderment and some apprehension, muttering to herself all the while. "Life outside the forest sure is summat strange..."
 

Sofia di Castelbuono

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Grey Warden
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Posts
71
#7
The introductions done, Bhelen launched into the formalities. He was happy to honour them and to cherish the unique relationship between Grey Wardens and dwarves – two parties for whom the Blights never truly ended. All would benefit from having a better idea of the layout of the Deep Roads. When the final Blight was ended, maybe the dwarves would be able to reclaim all their old thaigs and perhaps countless years of history and other treasures in the process. Nonetheless, his pause indicated a catch, and Sofia didn’t miss the tensing of Cauthrien’s shoulders.

The Shaperate didn’t have everything they would need. The full records were in an old thaig that had been the lair of darkspawn for hundreds of years. The long and short of it was that the king wanted them to go into the thaig itself, aided by a diversion, and reclaim the records. Cauthrien shot a hole through the plan immediately, but Bhelen was ready with a counter; no doubt he’d rehearsed this conversation. He’d not have been much of a leader if he hadn’t prepared against all arguments. Again, Sofia’s thoughts turned to the rumours she’d heard surrounding the king. She wondered what else he might have prepared as encouragement, if they dug their heels in.

Before she could find out, the ground trembled underfoot, and Sofia instinctively gripped her staff tighter. She’d felt no tug on the Fade to warn of impending magic, so this wasn’t the result of a spell, but if rocks were going to start falling she might have to do a lot of healing, very quickly.

Instead she turned and beheld a creature made of stone, in the same proportions of a dwarf but on a much grander scale, embedded with crystals that crackled and flashed with magical energy. Sofia’s mouth dropped open as it crashed forward, and the word thudded into place in her mind as it began to speak, and Niamh yelped. “What the shite is that?”

Golem.

She had read about them, of course, in preparation for this, and she’d heard stories that a golem had accompanied the Hero of Ferelden – but she had assumed that to be part of the natural embellishment of any tale that had made its way to all four corners of the world. Now one stood before them, not quite apologising for its – her? – lateness, and Bhelen reacted with mild annoyance.

“As I was about to say, Shale of House Cadash will accompany you as guide and comrade-in-arms, while Shaper Dirthon will be present to record this momentous occasion for the Memories.”

It seemed that the Shaper considered this a dubious honour at best. Sofia decided she would keep an eye on him throughout their journey. If magical healing failed against his dwarven physiology, she had some supplies with her that might help.

There had been little hiding the shock when Shale had entered the room, but Sofia recovered herself. Just because the golem’s appearance was startling didn’t provide an excuse for poor manners, and she bowed during the brief exchange between Cauthrien and Shale. “It will be an honour to work alongside you, Lady Cadash.”

Whoever had been giggling in the gallery early did it again. Sofia ignored them.
 

Cordelia

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#8
In spite of disruptions to decorum, Cordelia was relatively pleased with the proceedings. The communications between King Bhelen and the Warden-Constable was clear and concise. Cordelia did not relish entering the Deep Roads, but a suitable distraction would draw away the largest horde of darkspawn and leave a clear path to complete their task. She was in the company of skill mages and warriors, skilled herself in destructive primal magic. Fighting, if it occurred, would be terrible but she did not fear for her safety. Perhaps that was a mistake but it seemed like many potentialities were being planned for. To the mage's logical mind, that was more than acceptable.

Then came the golem, a creature which Cordelia had read about in passing but did not think to ever see. They were enormous, and it felt quite odd to watch them move with such ease. Yes, their steps were heavy but there was quite a bit of life inside the statue. Cordelia did not care to question how such a thing was made but imagined it was not simple or pleasant. Yet, here it was. It would be another bulwark against danger. Whatever discomfort came with their presence was outdone in her mind by the sheer utility of having such a powerful being at their side.

Then it talked, and so did Niamh. “What the shite is that?”

That proved rather the final straw for the young mage, profanity being a most distasteful thing to endure. So the little Warden turned with an authority unearned to her, although it might have been her's if she'd remained in Edgehall to become arlessa. "Do. You. Mind?" Her admonishment reverberated ever so slightly in the voice, sotto voce whisper flying out somewhat louder than planned.

It was Sofia who returned matters to their equilibrium. “It will be an honour to work alongside you, Lady Cadash.”

Cordelia, eager to win back approval, bowed her head ever so slightly to the golem. Yes, I daresay you shall prove quite the help."
 
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