"..Right, certainly, why don't you gather that up and I'll show all of you to the barracks. Can I help you carry anything?"
She must have misheard him again, something that just kept happening. No human would ever offer to help a slave. At least no one in the Imperium. She was absolutely flabbergasted. "I-, Truly? You're having me on, aren't you?"
Ghil rolled her eyes, irritated; she shifted her weight from one foot to the other, armor clinking in her arms.
"Point the way, Tevinter, else I will wander alone."
"I'm not having you, sweetheart."
Diocles grinned, glancing at Ghil before leading the way out of the room, gesturing the others to follow. This time he kept quiet as he lead the way, nodding to the other Wardens walking about. It wasn't very far before they arrived at the women's barracks.
Oh. So this is a 'barracks'.
The fortress was the first time she'd encountered the word. Or had she heard it at the outpost with her late master? Either way, she was happy the thought stayed just that. A thought. She marveled at the size of it. "It is much larger than the quarters we had on my master's estate." The company would just be...different. She would just have to get used to the smell of the barbarian.
Ghil found an empty room and dumped her things on the top bunk; she didn't linger to get changed before shouldering past the group and wandering down the hallway toward the washroom they'd passed on the way to the barracks. She entered. A few moments later, three other recruits swiftly left. This was where she planned to pass the evening until a meal was served in the mess hall.
Sulahn'nehn placed her new belongings neatly on a lower bunk adjacent to Ghil's. "Thank you so much for directing us. And being so kind." she could count on one hand the number of humans that had been this sweet and it would not surpass the first two digits.
Ghil had the right idea. They had traveled for so very long and she was more than ready to shed her clothes and wash away all that had passed. The last time she had a nice, relaxing bath seemed long ago. Well, the last time was far more likely to have been work rather than relaxing. It would be a nice reprieve, providing Ghil didn't mind sharing the space. She headed back the way the other woman had gone, wondering if this human was operating on the same 'equals' path as their senior. Better safe than sorry.
"Pardon the intrusion...I hope you don't mind."
Ulrin shook his head as he watched the barbarian barge her way into the women's quarters. However now that the ladies had been shown their rooms he was eager to be take to his, if only so he could be rid of Diocles and go get a meal.
Ghil raised her gaze to the elf and gave a curt nod. There was enough space that she wouldn't deny the elven girl the room to bathe. The barbarian had already stripped off her loincloth and kicked it somewhere near the wall as refuse. A basin of hot water was in use with a scrub brush in a vigorous effort to remove her tribe's body paint. She was not delicate in the action, and it might have appeared to others that she was aiming to remove her skin as well.
Rather than chat up the shapely little thing as the archer had done, she sat in silence at her work. Nearly an hour had passed before she began to look more human than tree, bronze flesh exposed. She took the scrub brush to her head next, but it was such a mess of tangles that she quickly muttered a curse and tossed it to the floor in frustration. A few steps, and she was at the shelf beside the pump, flipping a men's razor into her hand and grabbing a fistful of mane.
It was something to behold. Admittedly, Sulahn'nehn had long since been cleaned but was simply amazed at the transformation happening on the other end. Her own skin felt sore watching Ghil attack her skin as if it betrayed her. She'd been content to sit and soak and see a human emerge under all of that mess. That was of course until she'd though a brush on wet, tangled hair was a good idea. She could not help but giggle. Though that didn't last long either. It seemed Ghil was full of bright ideas, the newest being to chop off her hair. "Don't do that!"
She got up and briskly walked over to the other woman, taking hold of her wrist. In hindsight, that was not the brightest of ideas given all she's seen Ghil do. She immediately released the woman to explain herself. "Sorry. I know it is not my place. But if you would allow me, I can help fix it. If would be a shame to lop it all off." chancing having her hands chopped off with that razor, Sulahn'nehn guided the human back to sit, taking up the brush and placing it back on the shelf. "Just a moment and please do try not to be upset with me, I will do my very best not to yank." She went in search on the shelves and returned with a widetooth comb working her way from the ends of the nest of hair to the roots. The arduous task was not unfamiliar to her, but she still worked carefully for fear that the slightest pull could see her face pressed firmly under the water.
The barbarian woman scowled, but neither stabbed nor drowned Sulahn'nehn for all her effort. Occasionally she gave an annoyed grunt when the comb hit a snag, but for the most part she sat on the stool with her elbows on her knees, watching twigs accumulate on the floor.
After a long moment, she finally spoke to break the silence. "You ought not be here. You are a house slave, not a warrior."
She kept to her work, nodding her head though the woman could not see. She could not tell if her comment was out of concern or if it was an insult. It did not change that it was undoubtedly a fact. "I know. Servitude has been my life, I know nothing else. I do not think I will be of much help against darkspawn at all. But, I am here and if this is what I am meant to do for my mistakes, then I must do it." she'd seen the darkspawn, what they could do, how the almost overpowered her master who was in all rights a powerful magister. "I will not lie, I am terrified of battle, ser."
The form of address pleased her. She straightened her back, tilting her head just so to give the girl another glance over. Small, could be quick on her feet. Ghil had noticed her take a staff from the armory. She was well-liked by their captors, as well. And useful, if Ghil chose to adopt her as a servant. Life in Weisshaupt may not be so bad after all.
"The man in the stone room called you maleficar."
Sulahn'nehn paused far too long to be natural. It was a bit of a touchy subject. Would she be in danger again if the woman didn't like mages or feared that particular status. However, she was afraid her prolonged silence was far too telling. If she confirmed it, was she damning herself and if she denied it, did that just confirm suspicions. She spoke sheepishly, running the comb through Ghil's hair again. "I a mage. And I mean harm to no one but the darkspawn."
"I do not like mages," Ghil muttered, looking forward again, "But you have nothing else to your advantage. Are you finished?" The barbarian woman stood, turning towards the elf with her fingers combing through her now well-groomed hair. She towered over Sulahn'nehn easily, but seemed now less threatening. "Soola, you said? You work well. That is a good... trait. I will soak until dinner. You may go."
Of course she didn't like mages. It seemed no one did who wasn't from the Imperium. On the plus side, her throat remained where it belonged, she wasn't being bludgeoned, or drowned. And she'd gotten a compliment from the previously terrifying woman. Why had she seemed less frightening? Had she actually looked at Ghil rather than the arm she had been scrubbing or the mass of hair she had to fix, she might have noticed that Ghil was strikingly attractive. Well, it would be unfair to say that she was not still a strong woman who had the ability to scare someone as much as a dragon would. It was just that on top of that or rather beneath it's once painted and dirtied surface there was a pretty face. She'd expected someone more mannish.
She thanked Ghil and left, grabbing a drying cloth and wishing she'd been smart enough to carry her clothes with her to the bath. She folded her now ragged dress, wrapped herself in the cloth, and quickly rushed back to the women's barracks until dinner.
"Oh-Right, of course"
Diocles blinked pointedly at the elf-Ulrin, that was it, relatively simple name. He seemed to have expected his newest companion to follow the women.
"Sorry, right, forgot for a moment. You have such pretty features... I mean, well, human eyes, you know. Ah, anyway, the men's barracks are just down the hall here.."
Ulrin snorted at Diocles' comment. It wasn't the first time he had heard such a thing, it had been a common backhanded 'compliment' back home. Humans thought they were amusing purposely calling men women or referring to him by his sister's name. why should these lying dogs be any different.
"My thanks," he said dryly to the archer as he showed him the way. And he didn't say much more than that. He didn't enjoy his presence; if he had to choose he'd rather attempt to strike up a conversation with Ghil.
Ulrin made his way into the men's barracks and claimed a lower bunk. He deposited his equipment on the bed, keeping only the knife with him for the time being, he didn't want to be unarmed any longer. Making sure he had his new blade, the elf took his leave to clean up and make his way to the dinning hall for his first real meal in weeks.
Sulahn'nehn was having quite a hard time dressing. Some areas of the uniform fit more snugly than others, but it was probably better than having something far too large. Was she supposed to be in uniform come dinner? If she wasn't, she'd look very silly, but all the Wardens she'd seen were clad in the ensemble. She tried to recall the order items were layered in, if it was wrong she was more than sure she would be quickly corrected. At least there wasn't metal plating, How those men could walk around comfortably covered nearly head to toe in sheets of metal, she would never know. Her lightweight armor, if it could really be called such, was at least much warmer than the dress she'd arrived in, though probably not as warm as she assumed her higher ups were.
Once she felt she was presentable enough, she left the barracks in search of the mess hall. She really ought to have asked where that was...
Ghil joined the other two recruits in the mess hall some time later, after she'd dressed. In the Grey Warden's uniform, with breasts and hips hidden, she could have blended right in if not for her size... and the fact that she was wearing full gear to a meal. A few near her muttered questions to each other, asking if she was the same woman as the painted gladiator--or at some tables, whether she was the same one that had walked the hall between the washroom and the women's barracks nude. She paid them no mind and sat quietly.
Thaedrin's lip curled derisively at the sight of the three of them; his table was all but barricaded with his own men, but nonetheless the look he gave Sulahn'nehn was wary. The other elf, the one he had broken earlier, was no threat to him.
"And yet, I find myself surprised he hasn't already cut his wrists."
How nice to see someone else was in their uniform. She felt pretty embarrassed until then, but it was either the new uniform or her torn and dirtied dress. It was an easy choice, ragged clothes might upset the delicate appetite of Valathian, whom she'd only just recalled would not be around to be offended. Still, old habits...
She'd been restraining herself, she didn't want to eat like a sow in front of so many people, but by the Creators if she wasn't starving. A nice, quiet dinner, or as quiet as it could be in a mess hall is all she wanted for the evening. But there was someone being very rude and very loud about it.
"He has found a new purpose, Ser. I don't think he will be much of a danger to himself.", she smiled to herself, thinking she may have had some part in the reform.
"One certainly would have to be quite foolish to spill their own blood, Constable! Your wit knows no bounds."
The light-footed archer had strode into the mess hall quietly and unnoticed, and only now spoke up in an attempt to annoy his most hated brother. Clearly amusing himself to no end, Diocles nimbly stepped over the extended foot of one of Thaedrin's men, smirking as he made his way to the new recruits-Or atleast the one of them that made the landmark. He gave Ghil a respectful tap on the left shoulder as he sat by her right, attempting to swipe a piece of dried meat (Getting more specific than 'meat' was quite impossible with these type of rations) off of her plate without alerting her.
"Goodness, you -are- a woman."
"Careful, elf. I know what you are. And if you slip up once, even for an instant, I will put you down." The Constable's eyes narrowed at the sight of the flippant Diocles, but that comment went unanswered. Thaedrin returned to his meal and his conversation.
"Impressive," Ghil said, allowing the archer to take from her plate. To her, he looked positively malnourished. "I am surprised by you knowing me at the sight of my face, rather than my breasts."
Was he the one who noticed her? She vaguely remembered a word being said during the Joining. The commander did not believe she was a maleficar, but Thaedrin was entirely different. She'd gotten at terrible start with him and things did not look to be improving. Her perfect posture collapsed at his threat and she fell silent. There was no doubt in her mind that he meant what he said.
Delphina slid into a seat near Ulrin and Ghil. A servant quickly arrived with a cup of water for her.
"How is it coming? Looks like you've all figured out where we keep the armor."
Servants (mostly slaves) began delivering tureens of soup, stew, meat and vegetables to the tables; the recruits were expected to serve themselves from there.
Delphina began ladling cabbage onto her plate, looking a tad embarrassed to be doing it. "They used to do plate service like in a Tevinter household, but it got too expensive and time-consuming. The Warden Commander ordered the switch a few weeks ago."
Alrik was also present, sitting by himself off to one side. He was eating directly from one of the family-sized trays of beef.
Ulrin didn't respond to Thaedrin's comments. Though his hands did clench at Warden's snide comments. When Sulahn'nehn spoke up for him, he raised his hand to lightly touch her shoulder. He didn't want her to stick up for him. "Let it go, humans will always say what they want. Its best to just ignore them..."
'And strike back when their guard is down.'
He only nodded to Ghil when she sat across from them. She did clean up nicely. However it was impossible not to recognize her from her size and her scowl. He would have been content if it had just been the three of them, but of course Diocles came to their table, and another. She at least seemed less annoying than the archer.
"It must be hard on you all learning to fill your own plates." Ulrin started filling his own dish up as he spoke.
Sulahn'nehn was comforted by the simple gesture and she would have returned to her meal quietly if Ulrin had not said what he'd just said. Her eyes widened like a spirit stood before her. "Ulrin." she quickly surveyed the humans, half expecting the back of someone's hand to make contact with the elf's face. "You mustn't say things like that!" and on his behalf she rapidly gave apologies.
The male elf began eating, watching Suilahn'nehn as she issued apologies for him. It was somewhat amusing. He swallowed the bite of meat he had taken and shrugged at her. "I am only stating what I am observing. Our new, 'sister' I suppose I should call her, seems to be flustered by the task. Just as you were by selecting weapons and armor..." He returned to his meal, unapologetic.
"But you shouldn't mock someone, especially a superior for being unfamiliar with something. I am so sorry for his behavior. And tongue." she thought Ulrin would be lucky not to have his five meals a day taken from him until he stepped in line. How did he ever serve with such a mouth or was that the exact reason he was in this fortress. Perhaps he just did not care that humans were dominant and outnumbered him. Greatly.
He wiped the corners of his mouth with his thumb,and chuckled. "Such a polite thing. You are not a solider, you are a serving girl. I hope that a bit of Ghil's gruffness wears off on you, or you will be apologizing for breathing before we know it."
It had never occurred to Delphina that an elf would get snippy with her; she had assumed that the comment was genuine, and was taken aback by the apologies.
"No offense taken, I'm sure," she said finally, turning her eyes back down to her meal.
Sulahn'nehn's brow furrowed. Ulrin had referred to her as the magisters did while simultaneously insulting her. "I serve just as you did and you call yourself a solider. You are no more a solider than I. I have tried being polite with you, guiding you so you do not foolishly bite the hand that feeds you." she huffed in anger. "You who do not rule over me or claim me, you do not call me a polite 'thing'. Of all the brothers and sisters of this fortress we share, should we not be the closest? But you are like no elf I have ever met. You spit in the face of grace and customs. Yes, I apologize for rude words and stepping out of place because I still wish to have a tongue by the night's end!"
After one last huff, she of course, apologized.
"Good lord, a joke! I knew you had it in you, my monolithic new friend. Congratulations, you're my new friend-Yes yes, scoff, but ten minutes of conversation and you'll fall completely in love with me, just like dear Thaedrin."
Hearing his superior, Diocles peaked out from around Ghil to give Delphina a slight wave, then returned to his position at the side of the massive woman.
"..Also, for the benefit of any elvish ears, I actually am a soldier and I assure you it's not that impressive a profession. You just have to be able to shut up on command and stick pointy bits in fleshy things."
"I am not so certain this one can take commands." Maybe she'd overreacted. They were not back home and maybe things were done differently. Still, Ulrin could probably do well staying his tongue. It was bound to get him into trouble sooner or later. Not that she had much room to speak, her very own words had landed her on the bad side of Thaedrin. At least she spoke from experience.
She tended to her meal quietly, wanting no more bickering.
Ulrin watched Sulahn'nehn's expression and tone sour, and while it surprised him, it interested him. He had thought she was completely docile, content to only gently nudge at boundaries, never fully raise her voice or express any real anger. Or perhaps she let it flow so easily with him because he was an elf like her and not a human? She had spoken out before, but even then it was so underwhelming.
"They may be the hand that feeds us, but they are also the hand that cruses us, that enslaves us, that has killed many of us," he lowered his hands now, speaking to her in all seriousness. "You are grateful for a second chance at life. I am just accepting that I am alive. But I will not forget those that have died. Those that were taken. Even this dreadful foe we are being forced to fight, was brought here because ones like us died. Even I am here because of death. Perhaps I am like no other elf you have met because I do not wish to bury my anger over such things. So long as you apologize to them you are acting as a 'thing'. Their 'thing'. I have not belonged to a human for a year, and I will not go back to such a complacent attitude in believing that if I am docile and calm they will not harm me. It has only proven time and time again that they will bring us harm no matter what. So I may as well speak before the right is taken from me."
He returned to eating his meal and snorted at Diocles, "So we are friends now? I doubt a human can truly be friends with me."