Diocles grinned, turning to somber Ulrin while sneaking a carrot off of his neighbour's plate.
"Oh, no! We're friends."
He pointed to Ghil.
"And we're friends.."
He pointed the carrot at Sul, before taking a bite of it.
"But-Mph, excuse me. But you and I, Ulrin, we are not friends. We are.."
Diocles suddenly lost his grin, narrowing his eyes, his muscles tensing as he put on the face of a deathly serious warrior. He was determined to make one of these new recruits atleast crack a smile, and pulling Ulrin's leg a bit might be exactly what was needed.
Thaedrin seemed amused at the bickering and theatrics coming from the neighboring table; Ghil, however, watched the exchange between the two elves and the human called Diocles with a blank expression, drinking her broth right from the bowl cradled in the palm of her hand. The woman paused to wipe her mouth on the back of her glove before giving her attention to the archer beside her.
"When do we face Darkspawn?"
Ulrin looked over at Diocles and frowned, "I will settle for your version of 'friendship', nothing more." He looked away from the archer and resumed eating with a scowl and not another word.
Sulahn'nehn opened her mouth to spew anger at the elf. What did he know? As if she could ever forget the deaths, the sacrifice. Had he known, he would still likely be an ass about it. He could not have known what it was like to serve faithfully under a bloodline that took part in the grisly event. A year without a master was no excuse to loose all manners and control. She wanted to take her drink and fling it at his face, it would have been so satisfying, instead she thought better of it. At least one elf should display some control. Not even Diocles musings could rouse a chuckle.
Thank the Creators. A new subject. Though the argument had managed to spoil her appetite.
Diocles sighed at the somber lot. He couldn't blame them, though. He remembered his own Joining, his own anger and frustration and pain. Turning somber, he began to speak while filling his own plate.
"You can only resist my charms for so long, Ulrin. ... We may face them on the morrow, I do not know. The Commander may, but.. Even he can be surprised. Do not let your appetite for tainted blood get the better of you, warrior. It will be sated, and then some, no matter how great. We will battle hurlocks and genlocks and worse beyond count. You will fight until you reach your limits, you will fight further, and possibly, you will stop fighting. But rely on your armor and your new brothers, and you will kill for years before that happens."
He began to eat, quickly filling his face without regard for decorum. Indeed, he attacked his food as if it was made of darkspawn, his grin finally having receded for the night.
The barbarian watched as Diocles waged war with his dinner plate. She shared the same hunger as the rest of them, but the meal wouldn't satisfy. She already had experience with the same sort of craving. After another moment of solemn silence, she stood.
"I will take my rest, then."
As the woman left, Thaedrin came to take her place in a less social manner. He remained standing, as though to sit with them would be demeaning. "Komnenos, if you've finished playing with your new toys, we have preparations of our own to make. ...All of us."
Not a word would be said to that man. Not this time. It was as good an excuse to leave as she would get to escape from the uncomfortable situation. She got up from the table to leave, bowing her head. "Please excuse me. Good night, and may you rest well."
She left the men behind to deal with whatever it was they needed to do. She wondered if the beds were at all soft and if she would sleep soundly. She shuddered, remembering the horde and the archdemon as he traveled back to the barracks for what would hopefully be a much needed good night's rest.
His hunger mostly sated, Diocles rose from his seat to face Thaedrin. It was respectful, but it was also quite likely he did so simply to enjoy the slight height difference he had on the mage.
"What do you need of me, Constable?"
Like the other two recruits, when Thaedrin arrived Ulrin left. The man's voice alone was enough to kill whatever appetite he had remaining. He tossed the roll in his hands back to his plate carelessly before silently dismissing himself and returning the men's barracks.
The uniform seemed more difficult to get out of than it was to get into and that took her some time as well. It was around the time she searched the barracks for a sleeping gown that she realized just how doted on she had been for a slave and missed her one nice slip (though it was of course given to her so her master might not have to see rags, Creators forbid). What she found was rough and scratchy, all she could ask for at the time. As soon as she'd changed and tucked away the uniform she crawled into bed. It was no plush bed of a magister, but it was a far cry better than a cot or the floor. Within a few minutes, she drifted off.
Thaedrin glanced around the mess hall; the recruits had all filtered out, leaving him with the tested and true.
"As you sense the Darkspawn, so, too, do they sense you," the Constable made a gesture and his men filed out to begin a patrol of the exterior grounds. "It is only a matter of time before the horde breaches Tevinter defenses in the area. We are surely a beacon to them."
He paused, passing his gaze over Delphina. A rank below him, he didn't think she would object.
"That's why I find it so very brave of you and Komnenos to accept a reconnaissance mission. I suggest you try to be back before dawn."
Delphina raised her eyebrows, but made no comment.
"Reconnaissance.. My specialty. Except for putting arrows in things, of course. Where will we scout?"
"As I mentioned, the settlements nearest Weisshaupt will be vulnerable. It would behoove us to ensure their fortifications are holding. Take the griffons, if you like, so long as you both return in time to wrangle your elves and brigands into proper shape for the morning."
Thaedrin turned on his heel and left the mess hall, having successfully demonstrated his authority. Tending to the plague-ridden this morning had left him feeling a bit deflated until now.
"Come, let's get to it."
She knew that the assignment was pointless, simply Thaedrin flexing his muscles, but she had no right to refuse. She'd do her best to get it done as quickly as possible so that the recruits could get at least -some- sleep before their first real day as Wardens.
"I don't think we want to deal with acquainting the griffons to you just yet. Horses will do. Come, now, to the stables."
"At your service, my lady."
Following behind closely, Diocles actually seemed sincere for once.
"Horses it is-I do take quite a bit of acquainting. .. Uh, sorry, by the way. He's probably only trying to get back at me."
She laughed softly. "Well... yes, probably. I'm eating dinner with Alrik from now on."
"Wise. Though he's neither as charming or as pretty as me, he does have fewer enemies. It must be because he grinds them to paste. Well, we can handle this on our own easily enough."
Diocles stopped to string his bow before they entered the stables, just incase. It took a bit of effort to do so, but he felt the bow's difficult nature was well worth its range and stopping power-Though it would be a bit big for horseback. He took a reliable gelding that seemed fit enough, mounting the beast with grace, after assisting his senior to do the same.
The archer's banter and ribbing quieted as they rode out, not simply as a precaution, but a result of his warden's premonitions acting up.
I sense you out there, monsters..
Meanwhile, the fortress was quiet.
Ghil slept, if you could call it that, sitting upright in full gear with her back against the wall and her greatsword laid across her thighs. At dawn, a horn sounded to rouse the Wardens to a morning meal and a day's work. The barbarian slid down from the top bunk and adjusted her uniform, mail and breastplate and all. She regarded the elven woman dispassionately, and chose to let her wake on her own. Her sword was again strapped across her back, she made her way back to the mess hall.
Thaedrin was already awake; the nightmares made sleep difficult, if not impossible. With a sharp tone and a stern expression, he stood in the Great Hall and directed the new "servants" in their tasks.
All together Ulrin slept poorly through the night. The previous day events coupled with his own guilty feelings and nightmares made it hard for him to keep his eyes shut more than a half hour at a time. The sound of the horn beckoning them from their bunks was almost welcome. He rolled off of his bed and dressed in his Warden's uniform before making his way down to the dinning hall.
At least if they had to go out and face the Darkspawn today, battle would keep his mind off of how tired he was.
She'd woken a few times in the night, though visions of the darkspawn seemed to be less intense, though that may have been partly due to not seeing the archdemon. The sound of the horn was unwelcome, it felt like she'd just closed her eyes again when it shook her awake. Sulahn'nehn had momentarily forgotten where she was. It had been so long since she'd seen the ceiling of her master's estate, but there she was again, expecting to see it when she woke. Memories of the journey, the loss, and the joining soon reminded her where she'd ended up.
It took her quite a bit longer to leave the barracks than Ghil. For one, she actually needed to dress and remember the order items were worn again and another reason being she needed a looking glass to make sure her hair was not a nest when she left. Down to the mess hall she went, fussing with a strap for her staff along the way.
Ulrin had taken up a seat in the same position as yesterday, sitting across form the giant woman, his only greeting to her was a curt nod. He was sure Sulanhn'nehn would join their table, if only out of familiarity. When the female elf approached straggling behind the others and distracted with adjusting her weapons holder, he offered a verbal greeting to get her attention.
"Morning, Sulahn'nehn. Is your new wardrobe still troubling you?"
The second she heard his voice she almost slumped, it was a strain not to look visibly displeased. She was not too eager to speak to Ulrin again after last night. She automatically wished him a good morning a second after his greeting left his mouth.
"It's fine.", she gave up on properly securing it and set the harness and staff next to her on the bench. "It does not need to be strapped to me at the moment."
The male elf nodded to her in return. As the servants brought their morning meal selection to the table, he filled up his plate, hoping that the extra portions would restore what energy he'd not regained from sleeping. "Perhaps its for the best? If its loose you can quickly pull it to the ready when we face our foes. No sense getting it tangled and caught at your side."
"Knot the belt." Ghil spoke up, though she wasn't asked. It wouldn't have made a difference. "And wear it across your shoulders." She made a gesture towards the food, nodding. "And eat. ...One does not know when it will be the last meal."
The ride back had been tense and largely silent, their horses breathing heavily beneath them.
Delphina jumped off her mount and thrust the reins at a slave before striding through the fortress doors. She walked quickly, though the twenty-four hours she'd been awake were starting to tell on her.
Thaedrin was the first officer she found, and she marched directly toward him.
"Constable. There's something wrong at the eastern watchtower. It's deserted. There should be a full company of guards there and there just... aren't. We couldn't find anyone to give us a report."
The problem stemmed from not being able to get the strap to clasp properly and thus hanging too loosely, needing constant adjustment. While she considered leaving it the way it was for a moment, Ghil quickly changed her mind. "Y-Yes, ser." It was sound advice and if anyone at the table knew what they were talking about it was probably her. "Thank you, ser."
Sulahn'nehn filled the plate before her, still having a hard time believing she could now stomach that much food and still have room for more.
"What...!?" Thaedrin could hardly contain his surprise at the news. Even his vicious and spiteful attitude had boundaries, and his look of annoyed disgust swiftly became one of focus and diligence. "Inform the Commander at once, I will assemble a task force! Komnenos, with me."
His boots clicked quickly down the corridor. With a gesture and a sharp shout, a Warden bolted ahead and climbed the stairs to sound the horn again. From her place at the bench, Ghil looked up at the doorway, the officers and soldiers around her tensing at the noise.
"...Already..." She shoved her bowl aside and stood just as Thaedrin entered.
"To the Hall, all of you! Armor and weapons at the ready!"
Ulrin did the same, pushing his bowl away and standing. He moved with haste, though he was in no hurry to face a Darkspawn horde. He kept his head up and jaw set as he joined the tide of moving recruits to the hall for their next instruction.
Diocles was atleast as somber and serious as the Constable, marching after Thaedrin without a word. When they entered the mess hall, he quickly spotted the new recruits and eyef them, nodding an indication to follow the instructions of the blood mage.
Sulahn'nehn's face was stricken with panic. She wished she could have misheard him, but there was no way with how swiftly the others were moving to pile out. She got up from the table, trying not to trip over herself and grabbed her staff. If it had a life, she would have squeezed it out. She hadn't had a day of training physically or magically in her life, how was she expected to be ready? If she had bravely walked into the Joining, she could muster up that bravery again to mass in the hall with the others. As if she had a choice. Finally willing her feet to move, she shuffled off as ordered.
Delphina disappeared for several minutes; when she returned, Trajan and Alrik were following behind, both fully armored. Trajan's sword swung on his hip. A battle staff was slung over his back.
"We're leaving in three minutes!" he shouted from the great hall to anyone within earshot.
Delphina appeared, a slave still finishing getting her armor buckled up.
"Delphina," Trajan said patiently, "What are the odds that they're all just at a whorehouse?"
Delphina flushed. "Low, I think, sir. The Captain there is a fairly hard man, if you recall."
"Hmm. I do. Well, good thing we have Thaedrin around to send you on pointless, unapproved tasks, or we might have been in for a nasty surprise."
He tapped his thigh armor impatiently. "Two minutes!" he shouted.
Ghil stood amongst the other Wardens. The girl elf looked distressed, but the barbarian had no words of comfort to give, even if she possessed the motivation.
At the two minute mark, Thaedrin emerged from the barracks with the last of the Wardens on his heels. Those he sent with Diocles to find their place in the assembly and stand accounted for as he himself divided up the most reliable of his men and Alrik's to defend the fortress. Within moments a score of archers lined the battlements with their eyes on the horizon, daring something to move. Trained handlers managed the griffons, though he was loathe to use their numbers without need. Men with iron shields defended every entrance in Weisshaupt. The Constable could not sense Darkspawn near... but their absence only made him more uneasy.
At the one minute mark, he was beside Trajan. "Aurelius reported the watchtower abandoned; if that is true, the enemy has already moved on and may be nearing." He frowned, falling silent for only a moment before continuing, "These recruits may not be trustworthy, Commander, they ought to be returned to cells for the duration."
Ulrin watched as the Wardens made preparations for battle. Whatever weariness and fatigue had been lingering with him was quickly being replaced by his steady pumping adrenaline. His breaths became long as the more experienced Wardens were divided up to defend the fortress. He supposed that made sense, to send them out as fodder, it would certainly weed out those that weren't capable soon enough.
Trajan laughed. "Don't be ridiculous, Constable. They're not going to be any more ready to face Darkspawn than they are right now. Goodness, we should -thank- the Darkspawn for giving us such an excellent opportunity to break in the untested."
He took a moment to glance up and inspect the archers.
"They'll be under your command, of course," he said, distracted. "I'll expect a full report on their performance when it is over. Good hunting."