Participants:

Cenn_icon.gif Meredith_icon.gif

Scene Title A Hero's Hollow Welcome
Synopsis Knight-Commander Meredith greets the first of the Kinloch transfers. He even gets his own assignment.
Location The Gallows
Date Bloomingtide 23, 9:31
Watch For Cenn sass is best sass
Logger Dragony Goodness

In all things, Meredith Stannard demanded order; in all things, she demanded precision. In all things, she demanded accountability. These three watchwords had seen her through trials that would have leveled a lesser mortal. So it is that the Gallows on the day the transfers arrive from Kinloch Hold is a model of clockwork, crystalline elegance. It is beautiful in a brutal sort of way. The Templars seem happy enough, but even among their fellows there is a sense of nervous unease about the mages. For the woman standing behind her desk with her back to the door, this is how it should be. A fearful mage is a watchful mage - fully aware of the weight of their curse. This is how she will meet these Ferelden refugees meant to be her new sworn men. One at a time and with no question of where the authority lies. Their journey through their new home can hardly make the situation plainer.

Truth be told, Cenn had grown accustomed to his disarming smile being sufficient to ease the cowed looks of the mages around him. Thus, as he first makes his way through the Gallows, with each passing step, and each interaction, the Knight Lieutenant simply grows more and more uneasy. What reports he had received of Kirkwall, and its Knight Commander were, well… He knew it would be different, but this uneasiness that hangs like a miasma around those that should be his, all of the Order's charges, it is discomfiting. In his mind, Hope twists, urging him to speak to each passing soul, to reassure, to ease. And while he would like to have the time to listen to her, he doesn't. Not yet, not now, and even if he did, there was the creeping feeling that, somehow, that would not be the method which would help these mages. Shown into the office, Cenn blinks a little at Meredith's turned back. Taking a moment to glance about the office, he makes note of details, before his fist meets his chest in a warrior's salute. "Knight Commander." He greets her, his voice touched with a Ferelden accents despite the lines of his face hinting at a different heritage.

"Knight Lieutenant d'Argent." Meredith's greeting is clipped but not harsh. This man is not her enemy. She is not his enemy. "I understand you were present for the disruption at the Kinloch Circle." Since Ferelden apparently has such a glut of mages in their backwater country that they require two separate Circles now. She turns from her contemplation of the scene out her largest window, facing properly the newest of her soldiers in this great war and studying him like a scholar translates painstakingly an ancient tome. "It is surely work of the Maker's hand that you survived such a trial."

As Meredith turns, Cenn is giving her near as in depth of an inspection. For her, he may be a resource, a soldier in a war constructed in her own mind. For him, she was so much more. A woman with his future in her hands, whose whims could be a symptom or a source, and he wasn't sure which it was yet. If it was either. There's a somber, serious expression on his face, brow knit to draw faint lines between his eyes. "Yes, Commander," He confirms with a small nod, "That it was." There's a flicker at the corner of his mouth, something that if he weren't so ill at ease could have been a grateful smile, to… Something. Someone, really, but who, well, that was up to interpretation.

Meredith is silent a moment, watching - and seemingly approving of - the somber and serious nature of his response. But the approval is overshadowed by perhaps an unexpected series of emotions; sadness, pain, the utter frustration of helplessness… and in the end, the kind of empathy that only soldiers who have been on the front lines of their war can show. "I know that kind of burden well, Ser. I swear to you that you will relive no such horrors under my command." Words spoken with a definitive ring of 'never again' behind them. Never again. "Tell me, how long had you served in Ferelden?"

Cenn shakes his head. "If it's all the same to you, Commander, I would rather you not make me that sort of vow." He says, bowing his head slightly in respect, despite his contrariness. Perhaps mildly apologetic. The reasoning for the request is plain on his face, however. The lack of blame of anyone but himself. Or perhaps something he identifies with. There's no fear, no anger, a touch of sadness, but it is mostly just guilt. "I had been with the Chantry in Ferelden from the time I was seven. But I took my vows ten years ago, and Kinloch was my first, and up until now, only assignment."

Meredith is visibly taken aback by his answer. She tilts her head to one side and regards him with an oddly open curiosity. "That is an odd request to make, Lieutenant." But she does not pry into his reasons. They are his own and a Knight who has demonstrated his willingness to do his duty in the face of demons and abominations is allowed a few eccentricities by her accounting. "That is a longer time than expected. Your family name is Orlesian, if I am not mistaken." It's phrased as a question, but it really, really isn't.

"Thank you for your indulgence, Commander." Cenn says with a nod of his head. No explanation offered. Frankly, he didn't really want to talk about it. Canting his head, he considers her words for a moment. "Is it?" He asks, giving a small shrug, "And yes, it is. I am Orlesian." All spoken with a Ferelden accent. This guy's weird.

His courtesy seems to reinforce Meredith's initial decision; she offers a nod in return, but does not continue that line of inquiry. "It is an unusual length of time for an Orlesian to reside within Ferelden - at least in recent years." The Empire doesn't exactly have the best reputation with places that still remember its yoke. "You understand, I trust, that blatant ties to Orlais may cause some… discomfort in certain quarters." Kirkwall has not been under the Imperial banner in over a hundred years, but that doesn't mean her people have warmed up to them all that much.

"My mother had a cousin with the Ferelden Chantry. When she decided I would be best dedicated to the Maker, she sent me to her. When I took my vows, Kinloch was the nearest Circle. It was all just a matter of previous relationship and proximity. That, and I think a lot of people back in Ferelden forgot I was Orlesian in the first place." Cenn offers as explanation for his time in Ferelden, shrugging. "I imagine it would, yes, Commander, though I imagine no worse than in Ferelden," He begins with a nod, turning his hands and opening them, gesturing palms up, "But I have no ties to Orlais, not really, save my last name. I swore away my familial bonds with my vows, and I with my accent as it is… I think I'll have more people looking at me sideways as a refugee than hissing at me as an Orlesian oppressor."

The answer is a good one - and, given the record of service that preceded this particular transfer, not altogether surprising. The particular… flavor it comes in, however, is not at all expected. It results in something not many can claim to have seen, let alone caused; it startles a barked laugh from the sharp-eyed Commander. "You know," she begins, and for just a moment there is a glimpse of the charismatic young Templar who garnered more loyalty from her fellows than their superior. "I've heard that as a phrase my entire life, but I've never actually seen someone do it." She rounds her desk and leans her hips back against it, arms folding over her chest. "Is that something people actually do? Hiss like common alley toms?"

Maybe that was the problem, perhaps Meredith just needed to laugh more. The laugh earns a crooked, charming smile from the Lieutenant. "Not often. More often it's just slung curses. But I /have/ had people hiss at me, yes. Less for being Orlesian and more for being a Templar, though, that. Mothers who have no words left to sling when I've had to take their child away to the Circle." Cenn says, that little smile dying, replaced once more by that air of guilt that seems to cling when he thinks too hard upon his past.

"Ah." And just like that, the good humor is gone, shuttered with the kind of speed that comes only with much practice until there is nothing left to see in the hard lines of her face. "Yes, that." She pushes with her hips and stands straight again, reaching for the stack of papers on her desk and shuffling through them until the correct sheet lies on top. "There has been an alarming increase in Grey Warden activity over the last month. My sources tell me that foreign Wardens have started arriving within the last few days. I have sent word to the Warden Commander three times asking for an explanation with no answer." The top sheet is lifted to glance at information on the one beneath. "Where there are Wardens in these kinds of numbers, there's bound to be trouble."

Cenn just watches her a moment. And then nods. "I can't say I find it terribly surprising, Commander." Cenn says, "After the Blight, the Deep Roads will be a mess. If they're driven from Ferelden, and with the large contingent of Wardens in Orlais chomping at the bit after being barred at the border, I imagine the next place to send people would be the Free Marches." Cenn says, and shrugs. "Is there something you wish done about it?"

Meredith acknowledges the sense in what he says and dismisses it at the same time, brushing both away with a wave of her hand. "If it was that simple there would be no reason not to say so. The Wardens answer to their own authority, but it isn't like Roarke to ignore courtesy." And there's a finality in the way she says that which implies enough familiarity to know. "It took two Wardens to stop the Archdemon in Ferelden. If there is something under my city dangerous enough to merit two units, I will not be caught unawares." Which is more explanation than people usually get. Maybe Cenn just has one of those trustworthy faces. "It won't look out of place for a newcomer to be curious and I cannot spare the Captains to both train the transfers and look into the Wardens." She looks up from her reading, watching him over the edge of those papers. "Can you handle such a mission, Lieutenant?"

At the mention of the Archdemon, Cenn visibly twitches. "With all due respect, Commander," He says, obviously trying not to grit his teeth, "It took two Wardens, a team of crazy people I can't even explain to you, and a veritable army of volunteers to slay the Archdemon." No, he hadn't been atop the tower. No, he hadn't had to help slay the beast himself, but the Battle of Denerim was a terrible thing, and the flippant commentary is very obviously unappreciated. "But yes, I can do that, Commander. Have you some idea where they have been staying?"

Meredith watches the small outburst with a blank expression. "Most of the reports of activity have come from Lowtown. Nothing moves in Lowtown that does not - at least peripherally - involve that damned firetrap." There's a beat as she re-orients her language to account for a newcomer's lack of inside knowledge. "The Hanged Man. Go down the staircase from Hightown, you… really can't miss it. Report to one of the Captains at the end of each week for the duration of the assignment." Which is enough of a dismissal in and of itself, but - "And Lieutenant?" Meredith pauses just a heartbeat. "In my experience, 'with all due respect' is a hollow phrase." But there's just the smallest twitch to one corner of her mouth as she returns to her own work. It has been some time indeed since the Gallows had some real spirit.

The instruction is met with a simple nod of understanding and acknowledgement. He knows the tone of a commanding officer who has said what they have to say. Besides, he's had a long trip, and he can tell he's growing weary. So Cenn turns, making for the door at the tone of dismissal. He pauses, though, when she addresses him once more, one hand upon her door frame. Her statement hangs in the air just long enough for Cenn to take a breath. Looking over his shoulder, he searches for her gaze, unafraid to meet it. "Yes, Commander, I would say that you are correct." He says, and with one last nod to her, he opens the door and steps out.


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