W/N - Holy moly it's been a long time. I apologize to any readers as I completely lost my train of thought on where I was in the ongoing tale so I'm just starting fresh with Soldiers Peak. I've got a few POV's to hopefully fill in around the gameplay to keep things fresh. Let's start out with Levi Dryden and his quest to restore his family honor. I was sort of an SCA camp follower in the past and have had some exposure to armor and 'medieval life,' plus I did some research on the topic along with heraldry.
Palfrey – a riding horse
Master Wade – quirky master armorer in Denerim
Harness – suit of armor, particularly plate
Fluting – pleats in the armor for strength and decoration
Cuirass – breastplate
Caparison – saddle cloth
Combatant – heraldic term for two animals facing each other
Sallet – a squat looking full helmet with a wide brim to protect the neck. Often worn with a moveable visor and throat guard
Cinquedea – a broad bladed dagger the width of five fingers
Bevor – throat guard
The Warden's Camp – Sunrise
The day had finally come – the Warden was mounting an expedition to explore and, if possible, retake Soldiers Peak, the austere and reputedly impregnable fortress of the Grey Wardens in Ferelden before it was lost through rebellion and disaster and passed into legend. In the two hundred years since then, other expeditions had made the trek up the treacherous road to try and make their fortunes, but few had returned and those that did were never the same again and never spoke of it.
In the crisp spring air, Levi Dryden vacillated between elation and fear for hours before the sun actually rose. He had waited years for this day and when it finally arrived his nerves nearly overwhelmed him. Only the hope of restoring some honor to his family kept him going now. This expedition had to succeed - For him, for his brother Mikhail, for his cousins…for his ancestor, Warden Commander Sophia Dryden.
He had gone to great lengths and expense to outfit the Warden's party. Along with the dwarf, Bodahn Feddic, Levi footed the bill for wagons, weapons and provisions.
"All for a good cause, eh, Master Levi?" Bodahn said, sensing his thoughts.
"I…hope so, Bodahn, I've put a lot of coin into this. If it doesn't work I'll have ruined any chance of my family regaining its honor."
"Don't you worry none. I've invested a great deal in the Warden's efforts to defeat the Blight and I've increased my coin by tenfold at least. It's been a very profitable relationship to be sure and I trust her with my life. My son will be well taken care of whatever happens to me," the dwarf said as he pointed to Sandal, who seemed oblivious to the rush of activity in the camp.
Levi reached down and ruffled Sandal's sandy hair. "I'm sure you're right. My whole life I've lived in the shadow of the disgrace Sophia put upon the Drydens. In my heart I know that she was wronged by that fat butcher, Arland. Ah, but I shouldn't talk of such dark things around Sandal."
"My boy's a lot tougher than he looks, Master Levi. All these years and he still surprises me."
Levi was about to respond when the clomp of hooves caught his attention and he turned to see the Warden and Alistair seated on their palfreys, which gave spirited stomps as they came to a stop. The Warden was clad in silver plate, which bore a few nicks and dents that had been hammered back into place by Master Wade. For the first time since they returned from Ostagar months ago, Alistair wore the harness of King Cailan, bronze-colored plates with the symbol of a bull fashioned into the fluting of the cuirass. At his side, the pommel of King Maric's blade sprouted from a leather scabbard. His horse's caparison bore the heraldry of the Theirin family, two wolves combatant on a quartered field of Or and Argent. The awkward young man truly looked like a king now. But would looks translate into deeds?
Levi bowed as a merchant should to a noble. "My lord, it is good to see you proclaiming your lineage."
Holding his helmet under his arm, Alistair blushed and looked away. "I…I haven't quite done so yet although the time is near. I decided to throw this outfit on so I could get used to the idea," he said with a nervous chuckle.
Maybe he wasn't king material quite yet, Levi mused, but he was a damn sight better than he was months ago when the merchant first visited the camp. And, he was a damn sight better than that witch, Morrigan, gave him credit for. "I'm sure you will do so when the time is right, my lord."
The Warden swung her horse around and pointed a gauntleted finger up the road to Soldier's Peak. "Are you ready, Levi? I want to arrive at the keep by noon so we'll have plenty of daylight to explore. So, you said this place was abandoned, huh?"
"It was when I last saw it…years ago, but I never got the nerve to explore it on my own. It always had a foul feel."
"Well, now you'll have a lot of company."
Levi expected a smile from her, but none was forthcoming and she merely dug her spurs into her horse's flank and trotted off to await the movement of the baggage train. He knew that a lot was riding on this expedition and that everyone was on edge. If all were successful then the Warden would have a new base of operations in which to strike at Teyrn Loghain and Levi Dryden would his family name returned to the roll of nobles in Ferelden.
For years, something called him back here, a distant voice always gnawing in the back of his mind. The merchant blew out a steamy breath and rubbed the cold out of his nose and cheeks. He looked up the long, snow covered road into the fog at the peak and shivered.