Diocles edged back into the room, holding a basket he had filled with salt fish, hard bread, and root vegetables in one hand and in the other a flagon of small ale. Without ceremony he passed both to Sul. She was easily his favourite of the new recruits, though he'd like her to trade outfits with Ghil.
"Here, share these, sorry for the lack of cups. And be wary of the orange bits, they taste suspiciously like real food, which worries me to no end."
The woman scowled at the archer before pulling herself to her feet. A hand through the bars jerked the flagon free of Sulahn'nehn's grip easily enough.
Ghil withdrew from the bars and took a seat on the stone bench within the cell, legs apart, elbows resting on her knees. She eyed the flagon warily for a moment, but there was no need for these men to poison her now. Whatever they had done to her already had left her alive, and she'd been out long enough for them to have slit her throat.
"I know why I am in bars," she said between long pulls of the ale, "The sons of whores who did this fear I will take their heads. But these next to me, what is their danger to armed men?"
The human trusted her to share. It was a strange thing. Trust and human did not always go hand in hand, unless there was a knife or rather a whip in the other. Sulahn'nehn would have been happy to take a sip of whatever liquid they'd been given if she ever got the chance. She thanked Diocles, looking in the basket. It looked like food. Actual food. She was so sure that they would be given slop and told to think of it as a feast. Taking a paltry amount, lest she incur the wrath of the barbarian. It was the most difficult thing she had to do to date, passing the basket along to feed the others when she felt she would die at any moment from hunger.
As soon as the food touched her tongue she didn't care about anything else, eagerly shoving as much as she could fit into her mouth without choking. She would have continued on this way had she not recalled that others were around and that chewing often prevented choking. Her face reddened and she turned away from the bars to eat quietly.
A voice began to echo down the hall; Trajan Vorenus.
" . . . . cells, right now holding the new initiates, but they'll normally be empty. We don't take Darkspawn prisoners. However, once these Wardens are set up in a barracks, you'll be bringing food to them should they be unable to make it to mess..." turning the corner, he glanced at the basket of food being passed around.
"That is, assuming one of my Wardens doesn't decide that he's a better elf slave than you are."
An elderly elven woman who had marched here with the others was nodding at everything he said, and now he dismissed her with a wave of his hand. "Go see to the babe, then, if you're so sure you can care for it atop your other duties."
She scurried off. Delphina and Alrik arrive just behind Trajan. Delphina, after taking a quick look around, took several quick steps forward.
"All rise in the presence of the Warden Commander!"
Ghil lingered on the bench, seeming to be debating her options as far as that order went. There wasn't much she could do from within the cell, not unless one of them moved too closely, so it would do her no favors to be difficult now. The woman pushed herself up and tossed the empty flagon to the floor as she crossed what little space there was to the bars. Her hands wrapped around the iron and she leaned against the bars, eyeing the three of them. Two she remembered very distinctly, but the woman was new. Her gaze lingered on Delphina, sizing her up.
Though she'd done as asked, it seemed somehow less than respectful.
Oh, of course. All rise now that she had just taken a bite that was much too big. She did was commanded, getting to her feet and trying to get her food down in a reasonable gulp without choking. Having nothing else, she wiped her hands on her dress and stood closer to the bars, hands folded politely in front of her.
Diocles was quite certain he made an excellent elf slave, excepting of course his lack of the two defining characteristics. Nevertheless, he reflexively went to attention, turning most of the way towards his superiors (So as to keep the new recruits in his peripherals, just in case) and throwing up a crisp Tevinter salute with the speed and perfection only repeated troublemakers ever have the dexterity and practice to manage.
Ulrin had barely begun to eat the hardened bread that had been past to him when the trio arrived. He had very little interest in what the Commander had to say to them, yet he still forced himself to his feet once more. He did not stop chewing on his hunk of bread however. If he was going to be forced to live, he wasn't going to do so on an empty stomach. A fully belly and proper rest was on his mind now. Anything to regain his strength and escape. He had fled from servitude before, he'd do it again. He approached the bars, his face still bitter as he chewed.
Trajan nodded with satisfaction when all three rose-- he hadn't expected it to be that easy.
He approached Sulahn'nehn first, looking her up and down.
Delphina noticed Ghil's gaze but did her best to ignore it, keeping her eyes on the Warden Commander.
Alarms had gone off in her head, this was the man in charge and it would serve her well not to upset him. She greeted him as she would a magister or anyone who was not a slave for that matter. "My name is Sulahn'nehn, messere." She kept her head down and remained crouched in a curtsy hoping her politeness would overshadow her earlier outburst.
He paused, thinking this over.
"Welcome aboard, Susan. I was impressed by your bravery; it takes a strong heart to drink Darkspawn blood willingly."
He unlocked her cell door, leaving it ajar.
"Whenever you feel well enough to move, Warden Komnenus can show you to the armory and barracks. We'll want you outfitted with gear as soon as possible."
He stepped away. "If she's a Maleficar", he remarked to Alrik, "then I'm the Archdemon."
He turned his gaze to Ghil and and then Ulrin in turn.
"I'm fully aware that you were both joined against your will. I cannot force you to fight the Darkspawn at our side; this is something that you must choose to do. However, now that you are joined, it is the only thing you are suitable for; the only thing your blood will allow." He shrugged. "Nevertheless, you may stay in your cells indefinitely until you're ready to swear loyalty to the Grey Wardens."
He raised his eyebrows, waiting to see if either of them would speak.
Diocles coughed softly, corrected Trajan on Sul's name as he lowered hi salute, though he stayed at attention.
"Sulayn-eyn, Commander. And I would be delighted to."
Ulrin finished off his bit of bread. He watched as Sulahn'nehn was allowed out of the cell. She was such a well behaved thing. Such a timid slave, he wondered what caused her master to cast her out to this horrible fate. Or perhaps she ran? No, she didn't look the type. He turned his attentions back to the Commander, staying in this cell would not due for an escape. However barracks and supplies was promising. He stepped forward nodding.
"I'll fight your Darkspawn, if it comes with a bed and steady meals."
He was worse than the other man. At least Diocles called her things that sounded as if they could be elven of some sort. This seemed so very...human. It was best not to argue over something that was almost always mispronounced and with the commander no less. The word maleficar was something she had not quite expected to hear. She was not even aware that she had displayed any magical abilities, something that that scared her. But she was not home, not with her master. And as far as she knew, they did not do things to mages. Or so she hoped. However, she was thankful that the commander did not believe she was a maleficar, so perhaps the demon did its job far better than she thought.
Sulahn'nehn stepped out of her cell with a backward glance at the two remaining recruits. She hoped they would swear their loyalty. Such a tiny cell was no way to spend the rest of their lives, servitude seemed far better. Or perhaps that was due to her life being colored slightly differently than other slaves. The elf turned to Diocles, "I do not mean to be a bother..."
An armory. Her with any sort of armor. Anyone could look at her and see the idea was absurd.
Ghil's lip pulled away from her teeth to show her distaste for the man's tone.
"What is the pay?" She shifted her weight away from the bars, gesturing to Trajan's armor, "Not gold, there is no use for it. Equipment is free, if you would waste it on the twig. If you think dealing death is incentive enough for me, then you ought never let me out."
The barbarian paused, eyeing Alrik quietly before returning her gaze to Trajan.
"I want a command."
Trajan laughs. "Five meals a day." He unlocks Ulrin's cell door.
He frowns at Ghil's words, but before he can respond, Alrik steps up to Ghil's cell. When he speaks, it is gibberish to all in the room but Ghil; for her it is heavily accented, a strange dialect, but perfectly understandable.
"This one was bested by us in combat, but now sees fit to make demands as if she were victorious. I am glad her clan is not here to see her act so, for they would surely fall on their swords in shame."
Ulrin did not return the Commander's pleasantries at his willingness to join. Five meals a day, equipment, and a chance to regain his strength. Though he did not know how long he'd have to display loyalty to these humans, for now they had it. The elf nodded and stepped outside his cell as Trajan started talking to the barbarian woman.
Those tuning into the calm tone of Alrik's voice may have been surprised to see the woman's expression flare up with rage. Her voice held no less severity in her native tongue, but she seemed to have ten times the vocabulary.
"Says the Tevinter's Mabari!" Ghil spat--for the third time in the last six hours--into Alrik's face, "I rode here in a cage, I was forced to drink your poison, I will swear to no man until I am given the respect I deserve! You give me a sword, and I will show you what that collar has done to you, Traitor."
Her attention turned to the Commander, though her tongue did not change, "Do you know who I am!? I was a better God to your people than the dragons. This knife-ear in the corner has asked for death since he awoke. The other is nothing."
"No dueling," Trajan said simply. "It is totally unacceptable for a joined Warden to die by anything but a Darkspawn's hand."
He handed Alrik a handkerchief; the other man used it to wipe spit off his face, though he didn't seem particularly concerned about it.
"You were brought here as a slave and a prisoner, your life forfeit. In exchange for loyalty to the Wardens I offer you limited freedom, weapons and armor, and room and board. If you distinguish yourself in combat, I have no doubt that you will be promoted. But I will not promote you ahead of Komnenus and so many others based solely on your demands."
"And while Dumat may not have been a good god," he thought to add, "I have seen him, and I am wise enough to fear him. I do not fear you."
Ghil's impotent fury left her tense; the woman paced behind the cell door like a beast in a magister's menagerie.
As in the Great Hall hours before, unarmed and surrounded, she was in a predicament that she could not solve by smashing skulls. If she refused to cooperate, she would retain her pride, but while she had not overestimated the Wardens need for personnel, she had certainly misjudged the Commander's capacity for control... and maybe spite. Her eyes went to the two elves, already freed, and her stomach turned to think of them meeting the horde while she starved to death behind bars. Finally, she stopped, folding her arms beneath her breasts and inclining her head.
"Then I must."
He unlocked her sell door immediately, forcing past his internal misgivings that she might immediately attempt to strangle him upon being freed.
"All of you-- get equipped, get fed, get rested, get acquainted. We won't be slaying any hurlocks today, but... tomorrow isn't out of the question."
He turned and left the room. Alrik followed, though he made eye contact with Ghil before doing so.
Delphina nodded to each new Warden in turn. "I'll be in the dining hall, should you have any questions."
Diocles relaxed as the Commander left, giving a small smile to the Constable before leading the others out of the dungeons, gesturing for them to grab the food and drink as they go. He attempted to keep the mood light as he walked, going out of his way to talk constantly, not simply in way of directions but describing in intimate detail the purposes of things such as doors, hallways, and stairs (Which he likened to less vertical stairs). The armory was, quite sensibly, rather far from the dungeon.
Soon enough, more or less, they arrived at their destination.
"Alright, here we are.. Take what you need, and if you can't carry it, you don't need it. Staves-I don't know anything about, so, just pick something you like, I guess. Swords, axes, maces, knives, various sizes, none of them need sharpening, except for everything that isn't a bludgeon. Bows-Short and long, nothing so fine as my own recurve, but none of you are so fine an archer as me."
Indeed, all the bowstaves lined up neatly and arrow straight, while Diocles' own weapon kept a small curve, in the reverse direction, while unstrung. He reached behind his back, pulling a pair of knives from a pair of sheathes-One long blade and one short.
"I suggest grabbing a knife or two for utility-Myself, I keep one for skinning and one for cutting through brush. Sheathes and belts are over there, mostly leather, don't trust anything that appears to be more solid. Armor is yonder, I suggest light chainmail like mine for those of you fast enough to dodge. For those that are, uh.. Strong and brave enough to.. Take swords to the face like idiots, heavier plates are available."
Ulrin took another step back as the barbarian woman was freed. Despite her agreement, he expected her to come out swinging. Humans all together continued to be untrustworthy liars, why should she be any different? In fact her wildness just made her someone to be even more weary of.
He followed Diocles with the two women, though in his mind it seemed more suitable to go eat in the dinning hall first. As the archer spoke over the weaponry and gave suggestions his eyes scanned for anything that looked like it would be familiar in his hands. He picked up a knife turning it over in his hand, testing how well it balanced as he rolled the handle over his palm. He picked through them only half listening to his suggestions about the chainmail and mostly thinking of what would be the lightest and most durable for swift movement. He couldn't help but smirk to himself thinking about using any of the weapons laid out before him to stab that blood mage for taking his will from him.
There was a problem. Sulahn'nehn was not a fighter of any sort. The one battle she escaped, she wasn't directly involved in. Everything before her was a mystery. Did she need plate armor or chainmail or leather? The only thing that she had some knowledge of was the staves. She'd seen plenty around magisters. None seemed as decorated as theirs, but they did look nice. One in particular called out her, elegant in it's simplicity. She took it, smiling, it had been the first time she'd been permitted to touch one. Perhaps with a catalyst her powers would not be so unruly.
"E-Excuse me.", Sulahn'nehn attempted to grab the attention of Diocles. "Am I allowed to have this one? And I must admit I do not know where to begin with armor..."
"Of course you are, my darling. Here, we'll get you changed into some lighter armor, and if the weight is too much, you'll just have to do without."
Diocles grinned at na´ve little thing. Getting her changed could be fun.
"If you are not mindful, the skinny man will dress you himself."
Ghil appraised the equipment in front of her before approaching the shelves and racks. Over one arm she draped a uniform, a breastplate, a belt. Gloves, boots, bracers. She shoved all of it into a pile on the floor and stood over it protectively while she tested the weight of the swords on offer. Whether or not she was imagining taking the head off of anyone present when she swung, she kept it to herself.
"O-Oh. I do not believe I will need a male hand to get me into my clothing." she covered her mouth, tossing an apologetic glance to Diocles. "That's not rude, is it? You did offer to help me. I do still need your help. If you are willing. T-To select for me, I mean. If it is particularly difficult to put on, might you instruct me? Through a curtain. Or door, rather. Or if the lady would be kind enough..." did she have any knowledge of armor? She was topless after all. And dirty, so very dirty. Not even the slaves in the fields got that filthy. They at least knew what a bath was.
Ghil snorted unhelpfully, laying the flat of a greatsword across her shoulders and gathering up her pile of equipment. As free as she was with her body, she didn't appear to be interested in dressing in the armory.
"Be sure not to wear the trousers on your head, and you will be fine."
Sulahn'nehn opened her mouth to speak her mind but thought better of it. Not only was Ghil human, she was a very capable one. And any word to set her off would likely cause her hands to be at the elf's throat. "Thank you. It's nice to see you have a sense of humor.", though she was sure that was not at all true. Diocles seemed her best bet for proper instruction, and he was at least eager to help.
What a kind human he was.
Ulrin continued around the room selecting his chainmail and listening to Sulahn'nehn go back and forth with Ghil over her armor. The barbarian was more than likely right with her warnings of Diocles. Apparently wild humans were just as cautious as elves when it came to where to place their trust. He hung onto the knife he had selected while he draped his armor over his arm, pulled gloves over his hands, and began looking over the boots, "I am sure you will find its not hard to figure out, Sulahn'nehn. Most of it is just like any other clothing to slip on... You shouldn't need any physical help from Diocles." Ulrin glanced over at the archer as he spoke.
"Hahah! You all think me some perverted magister, it seems. Chainmail goes -over- some clothes, ladies.. Else it tends to pinch quite badly, which can be quite distracting in battle."
Diocles was, in all fairness, absolutely several types of pervert, but he wasn't going to let anyone know just yet if he could help it.
"Oh. I didn't realize it was so simple. My thanks...", she looked at the elf, puzzled. He had no doubt gotten her name when she spoke it to their senior Wardens, but his name was a blank. She was sure he never spoke a word outside of curses and wishes of an end. "Pardon, but I do not know your name. I'd like to know it, if you are willing to tell it." She glanced over the lighter armor, searching for anything that looked like it would be a comfortable fit.
"Ulrin," he nodded to her. The elf had finally gathered equipment he deemed suitable, he felt his selection was sturdy enough to protect him, but light enough to not slow him down. "Considering how we started this evening, I am sure I will see you more often than not."
"There is no doubt of that. Ulrin," she paused, as much to gather up what she could fit in her arms as to consider her next words. "I'm glad to see you have given your second chance some thought. There has been enough death as of late."
She then turned back to the nicest human she'd met in a very long time. "Might there be a place I can try these on?"
"Yes..." The elven rouge turned his gaze away from her, "I've given some thought. Of course." He hadn't really. His final goal was still death. However it seemed to please the girl that he appeared to be taking his new life sentence well.
He looked over to the human to see where he would direct Sulahn'nehn to get changed. Ulrin was sure Ghil would get dressed right where he stood, but perhaps they would be directed toward what would hopefully be their lodgings.