Author Topic: A Hero Comes Home  (Read 671 times)

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Offline X-Bellam & BC/TB (Bobby)

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A Hero Comes Home
« on: March 25, 2009, 04:19:11 am »
"My lady?"  The steward shifts uncomfortably at having to disturb Countess Vanadaere.  "My lady... the ship is entering the harbor.  They'll disembark soon."

Kaeranne nods slowly, face hidden behind her black veil.  Nothing about her seems familiar to her servants - her halting, slow movements, her sober black dress and veil, her soft voice and near-constant silence.  He waits a moment, then bows and steps back out of the carriage to wait.

In the harbor, the Ilienese galleon slowly slides into place along the piers.  Sailors run its length, throwing lines to the dock and setting knots, but their normal shouts and curses are subdued by the two dozen somber armsmen lining the forecastle in the colors of House Bellamie, the RCS, and the IHH.  At the edges of the docks waits a great throng of citizens, lured here by the rumors and stories that have begun to spread through Osoerde, and held back by lines of South Hold soldiers. 

Finally, Countess Vanadaere steps out from the carriage and begins to walk towards the ship, now settled into position.  The docks are now silent but for the sounds of seagulls crying shrilly and the snap of the lines in the stiff breeze.  As she approaches, the gangplank slides out from the ship, and a small procession appears: the Bellam guards, Baron Bellamie, and four men carrying a long coffin between them.  The steward hears a small noise from the Countess, but simply bows his head and gives no sign.

A great murmur has begun to sweep the crowds and soldiers at the sight of the coffin, but it silences as a horn calls out form the ship.  A sudden clash of metal echoes as the IHH and RCS armsmen sweep their fists against their breastplates in salute, and the sounds of the single horn fly out on the ocean winds, a slow, sweeping song of mourning, determination, and triumph, all blending into one.  As the coffin reaches shore, the temple guards release their salutes, removing their helms in respect and stepping away from the rails.  Only one of each follows the coffin down, one carrying a sheathed sword, the other a simple, battered image of a flaring sun.  The horn silences.

Now another horn calls out, this one from shore, not with a song, but a march - the "Conquering Lords", the triumphal welcome to a victorious general of Osoerde - and the soldiers in waiting stand tall.  Only a few bars play before Baron Bellamie and the coffin reach Kaeranne, then it, too, falls silent.  In the quiet, the returning noise of the crowd reaches their ears, confused, startled, disbelieving, but they seem to pay it no mind.  Bellamie stops before the veiled Countess, his eyes flicking over her face as if trying to penetrate the dark cloth, then shakes his head and steps to the side, out of her way.  He says something lost to the watchers in the breeze.

Soon, the procession advances to the carriages lined up in waiting, and they begin their journey out of the harbor, out of the city, onwards towards Algael, carrying its passengers home one last time.  Soon the crowds dissipate back into the streets, flocking to homes and stores and shops with the news.  Soon the ship sets sail again, carrying the templars back to Ilien and the Baron and his entourage onwards to Anuire and the Sword and Crown.

But first, for a moment that seems to stretch into minutes and hours, the Countess pushes the coffin lid aside, and the face of Vimorean Vanadaere, known as the Iron Rider, Magus of Osoerde, faithful of Haelyn, and guardian of the people of Anuire, is revealed - fallen at last in battle against the Shadow.