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Wasted Wings [Solo]

Nathaniel Howe

Warden Commander of Ferelden
Canon Character
Noble
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
179
#1
((OOC: August 5, 9:35))

Weisshaupt Fortress was an imposing series of buildings at the edge of the Broken Tooth, a rocky and uninviting butte in the southern region of the Anderfels. Prior to Nathaniel's journey to the Anderfels, his only real experience with an Anders was… Anders. The people he met within the arid and blighted lands were nothing at all like his friend. They lived in constant vigilance, ready to battle darkspawn whenever the need arose. To them, darkspawn were very real and very present. No other area of Thedas, not even Ferelden, suffered as many attacks in any given year.

The thousands of Grey Wardens Nathaniel was told to expect at Weisshaupt proved to be more like a few hundred; still a staggering number considering the mere 21 total in Ferelden. From kitchens to stables to cleaning staff, every person residing at the fortress was a Grey Warden. Nathaniel had never seen anything quite like it before. He understood the reasons well enough. Everyone on a front needed to be prepared for battle. He simply could not imagine such a hierarchy working in Ferelden even if it would simplify things a great deal. No more creative truths about why the Grey Wardens required so much food. No more false stories about recruits dying on a training expedition.

The fortress itself was comprised mostly of smooth white stone with spires that reached high into russet skyline. It was in one of those towers he was given rooms. The large windows came to a peak at the top and were big enough to sit in. His view was not what most would call beautiful. There was no lush greenery, no rushing water, no splash of petaled color to draw the eye. Gnarled and matted grassland covered the steppe below, veins of blight scattered throughout the brown grass marring the otherwise monotone landscape. It truly was a hopeless type of place, grim and foreboding. And it was to be Aedan Cousland’s prison.

The long journey to the Anderfels gave Nathaniel much time to consider what he would say to Aedan when he saw him. He thought of many different scenarios, many different words they might exchange. But truthfully? He did not know what would happen when he came face to face with the man he once called friend and brother. The hatred that burned so hot within him when he first returned to Ferelden was no longer there, long since tempered by duty and reason. Nathaniel almost wished for its return, though. That ire was all encompassing and without conflict.

It was naive to hope Aedan might change his mind. That his capture would serve as the epiphany needed to bring him back into the fold. The man that awaited Nathaniel in the dungeons might even greet him with gratitude. But a part of him did hope beyond all logic for the impossible. He hoped but prepared for the expected worse.

Two days he waited after arriving at Weisshaupt before he sought out his audience with Aedan. Near the long spiral staircase that lead into the bowels of the fortress and her dungeons was a mausoleum built to honor the slayers of the Archdemons. Five placards adorned the monument. Four names. Garahel the last. Nathaniel stared some time at the empty placard.

This was Aedan’s legacy.

Whatever confusion he felt about Aedan, whatever loyalty still remained melted away at the sight of the empty placard.
 
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Nathaniel Howe

Warden Commander of Ferelden
Canon Character
Noble
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
179
#2
Two wardens guarded the back cells where Aedan was kept. Nathaniel recognized one of them as Borit, a dwarf he met the night of his arrival. Bone-tired from the long ride, Nathaniel intended to take his dinner in his rooms and attempt to sleep. Borit and a few others had something else entirely different in mind for Nathaniel. They were not at all prepared to let the Warden-Commander of Ferelden spend his night alone. Ale that easily could have rivaled Oghren’s for potency, much food and conversation flowed over the course of that evening. Not the night Nathaniel expected; the night was certainly what he needed.

Borit and the unknown Grey Warden stood just inside the entry to the room housing the rear cells, Aedan their only charge. Nathaniel avoided looking toward the cells. There would be plenty of time soon enough to regard Aedan. Rather, he looked to the two wardens, Borit in particular and nodded his head. He spoke plainly, only the tensing his jaw betraying his anxiousness. “I’ve come to speak to Aedan.” Nathaniel heard others referring Aedan as Warden Cousland. He could not bring himself to use such an address for the man. Aedan did not deserve the honor of being called warden no matter the taint within his blood.

The First Warden’s orders had been clear. When Nathaniel wished to speak to Aedan, those guarding Aedan were to leave the room. Borit and his fellow warden did as previously instructed and took their leave, but not before Borit clasped Nathaniel on the shoulder and shot him a gruff grin. “I’ve got another cask of that ale with your name written on it. Come find me later.”

Borit made Nathaniel miss Oghren. Weak but not insincere, he smiled at the man, “I will do that.”

Aedan’s voice sliced through in the darkness with the close of the dungeon's door. “Making more friends to betray?” Fatigue frayed the edges of otherwise angry words.

Four years earlier, Nathaniel used a similar tone in greeting Aedan in a dungeon not much different than the one at Weisshaupt. Each saw the other as traitors that day and very much did now.

But just as that day, Nathaniel did not shrink away in fear of confrontation. He turned slowly, grey eyes searching out Aedan’s cell in the dim lighting of the room. His cell sat between two empty units. The cot Aedan sat upon was covered in a dark wool blanket. A small table sat to the side of the cot, a tallow candle burning bright atop it. None of these luxuries had been given to Nathaniel during his imprisonment. The cold floor, a threadbare blanket and light from candle scones bordering the dungeon entry door, that was all Nathaniel was provided.

“Hello Aedan,” he greeted neutrally.

Aedan abandoned the cot and rose to approach the edge of his cell. Dirt caked fingers coiled about the heavy iron bars. His eyes, narrow slits of rage, stared accusatory at Nathaniel.“Nathaniel.” His chin crooked backward, a sharp nod volleyed toward Nathaniel. "Quite the big man now, I see.”

Nathaniel clasped his hands behind his back. His fingers squeezed about his wrist in a calming gesture. One man’s anger was enough for this conversation. Unapologetic, Nathaniel said, “If you expect me to apologize, I will not, Aedan.”

Gruff, humorless laughter burst forth in response. Aedan smirked ruefully, “No, I don't expect you to apologize.” The rage returned, tightening his speech and darkening his blue eyes. "I should have never trusted a Howe. I should have let you hang that day.”

“You should have.” Nathaniel thought Aedan insane at the time. The wiser choice would have been to let him hang from the gallows of his family’s holding. There were times Nathaniel wished Aedan had made that choice. "But you did not and here we are.”

Aedan snorted and unfurled his fingers from about the bars to stretch his arms out to his side in a dramatic gesture, “Yes, here we are.”
 
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