A Moment in Redcliffe (Nalia)

The drunken militiamen talked and boasted of their victories in the corner, the bartender Lloyd polished a mug with a rag too filthy to clean anything, the elf Berwick kept to himself in his corner, and Nalia sat at the table contemplating the ruin of her life. No one joined her, most being intimidated by the woman in glittering steel with a fine blade at her side. It made her sad, she had always found that hardship was easier to face when she wasn't alone.

But that was why she was here wasn't it? To speak with the Arl? To convince him to see Howe to justice in the stead of the late king? Little chance of that, with Loghain having declared himself regent and the arl's evident sickness. It was convenient wasn't it? That everyone who could oppose the Teyrn's rise to power- the king, Eamon, her father- were being killed off at just the right moment? Her fist grew white around the mug she was clutching at the frustration of it. She couldn't kill Howe, not alone- she couldn't even get near the man. But everyone who could was either against her or dying. And that was to say nothing of the monsters.

How or why walking corpses had started pouring out of the castle was beyond her, but it certainly meant that the arl was now dead, and that far worse things were afoot in the village. When Tomas had told her the arl was sick and the village was under attack, she had had a mixed reaction. She had been tempted to march straight to Amaranthine and throw herself at Howe, consequences be damned, but she knew she couldn't leave these people to die. Vengeance wasn't worth that. She had lost everything to Howe, he had turned her life into a cinder of its former self, not quite completely destroyed but unable to decay any farther. She wouldn't treat life with the utter lack of respect that that man had shown. She wouldn't do that, even if it killed her.

And it very well could, there were certainly enough walking corpses pouring out of the castle nightly to see to that. But if she did die, it probably wouldn't be so bad. She couldn't avenge her family of course, but she could at least be with them again. Had they not ordered her to run that night, she might even be with them now. Had she not been forbidden to stay, she would have fought to the death in defence of all that she loved. Oh well, things hadn't happened that way. She had run by their order. She had watched the smoke rise from the castle in the night sky, and she had hung her head and cried as everything was destroyed. She had been beaten that night, but she wasn't broken, not even close. She wouldn't be in Redcliffe if she was.

One of the militamen had evidently gotten bold in his excess of alcohol and called shrewdly out to her in a truly pathetic attempt at seduction. She smirked to herself and slammed the mug down, but other then that pretended not to notice. Whether she showed it or not (she did) she was frustrated by her position, and didn't care overmuch if a fight came her way. The man yelled out more incessantly and she continued to ignore him. Then he stood up and started to walk over. Oi! Missy! I's talkin' to ya!

She looked up and stood up, standing taller than the man by at least the width of a hand, but he didn't seem to notice. Yes? She asked in a conversational tone as the man got close enough to stand face to face with her. The man smoothed out his manner some and asked him how she would like to go back to his house and share a bed with him.

She laughed and flatly told him to go back to his drink, at which point he became more insistent. She remained calm as the man became steadily more angry at her refusal, even though the altercation was starting to turn a lot of heads.

I'll not be having any fightin' in here miss Nalia. Shouted Lloyd from the bar and she looked at him. Does this look like a fight to you? She asked calmly as the militaman reached out to try and grope her.

She looked at the man only after catching his hand and throwing it down. I don't want to fight you. (Not entirely true, but true enough.) But if that's what you want I'd rather we step out so that we don't get blood on Lloyd's floor.

The man said something along the lines of crazy bitch and resentfully trotted back to his fellows, looking like a kicked puppy. Nalia looked at Lloyd as she shrugged and sat down. See? No fight.

Lloyd grumbled and gave a curt nod. You've been helping us a lot lately and we're grateful, but I don't want people trashing my establishment.

To which Nalia's first instinct was to call him a pig. She knew he didn't care about anything other than his pub, and had a good mind to teach him a lesson in priorities, but what was the point? Fighting wouldn't help anyone in the village. And she needed to help them, every bit as much for her sake as for theirs. She couldn't be idle.

Some time later she stood up and walked out of the bar, tallying her footsteps as she went as she always did. When she came to the lake front she pulled her sword from its scabbard and scrutinized every inch of the blade to ensure it was in good condition and clean. Satisfied she replaced the instrument of death and sat by the lake, pondering her position. She couldn't chase Howe because she'd never reach him. She couldn't reach him because she was alone, she was alone because everyone who could help her was somehow in grave peril before she could reach them. It angered her to no ends, but she was beginning to realize that vengeance for her family might never come. She didn't think too long about that though, and instead shifted to the more immediate and more comforting task of thinking of ways to defend the village in the coming night's battle.

Howe was out of reach, but at least she had this to occupy herself with. She thanked the Maker for that. With the alr dead but without these people to defend, she would have no idea where to go- let alone why she should go there.