Heirs to the Silver General

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Your adopted mother is dead.

Your adopted mother is dead.

You remember the first time you saw Alisa Denikin, striding through the ruins of your village. Tall and strong, blond and wearing shining plate mail, she was like a figure out of legend, and she plucked you from the ruins of your old life and raised you as her own. From then on, you were a member of her Silver Hawk mercenaries, riding about the Six Kingdoms, fighting wherever you got paid. You were joined by other orphans, also raised by Alisa, and together you fought Beastmen, defended the border with the Dead Lands, and even fought in the wars been Kingdoms. It was a hard life, but you had friends and family.

Then everything changed. Alisa took on a job and requested that you stay behind, the first time she’d ever done so. And so you waited, not worried. Your mother had fought in dozens of battles, hundreds of skirmishes.

A letter arrived and informed you of her death, and the destruction of the Silver Hawks. But with that letter came something else; a deed to land in Karmus, and a royal proclamation establishing your family as a new noble house, the first in the Six Kingdoms in almost two hundred years.

Stricken by grief, you travelled to this land. There a man you knew, Nazariy Silin, was waiting in the remains of a crumbling keep. Wordlessly, he handed you a letter.

My dearest children,

If you are reading this letter, then I am dead. I have always known this day would come, that I would leave you. It was the nature of my work. Nobody lives forever.

The Six Kingdoms are in crisis. Year after year, our lands grow ever smaller, our populations thin. I believe a new effort is needed to recapture lost lands. That is why I made arrangements to obtain for you the title of nobility. I am gone, but you have your adopted brothers and sisters. I charge you with the duty of raising up a new noble house.

It will not be easy. I have invested all the wealth I gathered over the years in purchasing this land, so I have nothing else to leave you. What I can leave you is the name of the Silver Hawks. Mercenary work will come, and with it, gold and further renown. The nobles of the Six Kingdoms will look down on you. Show them that your blood is as good and true as theirs.

Nazariy is paid until the end of the year. He will assist you however you require. You’ll need to find others, people to live in your lands, and trusted allies and associates. I have asked that one other friend join you, but I am not sure when she will arrive.

Know that I love you with all my heart, and that I charge you with this task because I believe you can do it. It will not be easy, but I know our future is in good hands.

-Mother

When you finished the letter, Nazariy clapped you on the shoulder. “Well, not to rush you, but I fear there’s work to be done. We need to survey the new lands, raise money to repair the keep, find subjects for you, decide on who will be the ruler and heir, and oh, there’s a small matter of some creature that’s infested the basement and nearly devoured me. Where do you want to begin?”

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The First Day of the Silverhawk Household

Dear Journal,

It’s been a long time since I last wrote, I know. I thought mother was crazy when she first said it would help me work through my feelings, but she was right. I haven’t had such strong feelings since Aino showed up, but so much has changed. Mother is dead and we must set out on our own. I can’t believe she is gone. But I know I will get through this. I know that’s what mother would have wanted and at least this time I have Aino, Sterling, and all my other siblings to get me through this. We must continue for mother and to do that, we must find a way to live up to the noble title that mother bought us, as we carry on her legacy of the Silver Hawks.

The house of the Silverhawk. That’s what we decided to name our house. I think mother would smile if she knew. More than that though, I hope it will remind people of her when they hear it. Piotyr has agree to be the head of our household. I’m glad that he will be the one that has to talk with the queen if we are ever summoned. I’ve had enough of court for one lifetime. I think that Aino would have been an even better choice, but I didn’t think the others would go for it when she hasn’t even been here for a year. I kept my mouth shut. I didn’t want to give anything way. It’s still too soon for them to know. Though I didn’t think they’ve noticed anything unusual in my silence. There hasn’t been a lot to say since mother died. Except when Aino and I are together. I don’t think I could have survived without her.
It really is a shame she couldn’t have been the head. What a great job my love would do at enchanting the queen, but it saves her beautiful voice for her serenades. She didn’t even get to be the heir, although if I’m being honest, Stirling probably does make the most sense. He’s been with mother since forever.

Our new house is in quite the state. And that state is ruins, nothing but ruins. If any of us had been dreaming about getting out of our tents anytime soon, it was shorted lived. The most we can say is that we no longer have a ghoul infested crypt. It some honed skills to defeat them, but it seemed like we got them all out after a few on the first floor and several more further into the crypt. It was good to have the old team back fighting together…even Marit. At least during battle she isn’t able to talk about her cheese. One of the only major advantages of being down there. Well, that and listening to Aino’s beautiful song. I could listen to her for hours.

Though I suppose we won’t have the time for that anymore. We’ll be needing to find a way to fix up, stock, and protect our new lands. I had hoped we’d find something down in that crypt, but other than a simple necklace that doesn’t seem like it will fetch too high a price, we have nothing to show for it other than some battle wounds on Natsuko and Piotyr from the ghouls. I guess it will be back to work tomorrow. But for now, I’m going to wrap this up, as my love will be here in a minute and I want to look my best for her. Good night.

Tia

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The Book of Silverhawk
The Book of Silverhawk

1. After the home of Silverhawk was cleansed of its wickedness, the champions learned of unclean beasts dwelling in their land

2. And they set out to cleanse their land of evil

3. To an abandoned village they did march, that they might slay the evil that rumour said dwelleth therein

4. And they did arrive at the village and beheld great ruin and decay upon it

5. Yet they did see great billows of smoke rising from a chimney and the tattered flag of a beast lord

6. And there was great deliberation betwixt the champions, and the valiant among them called for the beasts to be driven out of the house and slain

7. Yet cowardice had taken root in hearts and the valiant were outnumbered by the fearful and they shamefully turned away from their duty

8. And so they did march unto the abandoned mill with thoughts of conquest and cleaning the evil therein

9. The mill was closed to them but a mighty boot from the righteous paladin smote the door

10. And the door was smoted

11. They did search the mill and found it empty, not a morsel of evil was found

12. And it soon came to pass that the day expired and night took hold

13. And there was yet more deliberation betwixt the heroes over who of the them would stand watch at night

14. There was much talk of squish and being squished. And then they slept.

15. And upon the morn they did march to the hills of their land, in search of things to smite

16. And they found a great rock quarry

17. And near this quarry they beheld a great wound in the earth and the darkness that did dwell in that deep

18. In search of evil all but two champions descended into the chasm,

19. And the great righteous paladin said unto his companions, why was I left up here with the crazy cheese girl?

20. And there was no response

21. After they heard good tidings from their companions in the deep, the rest descended

22. And it came to pass that a great sound was heard by all and a great beetle beast did erupt from the rock

23. Arrow and arcane were loosed upon the beast and all did get in on the smiting action

24. And a righteous arrow did pierce the eye of the beast and slew it

25. And the cave did shake and wail as wall and roof began to crumble

26. And the champions did panic

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The Caves
July 10, 2015

"Run!"

I listen to the warning, dodging rocks that fall near me like fish from the sailor’s nets. My gear is heavy on my back, but I’ve fled like this before. It’s no big deal. We run back the way we came, my siblings and I, down the tunnel that led us here.

The strange beetle is dead, but its death throes have knocked the tunnel down around us. When the dust settles, we realize that our entrance has been destroyed. Fear hides at the corners of my mind, but Katsuo is in my hand. He calms me, as always. There is nothing to do but try the other tunnel, to the left of where our entrance into these strange caves had been. The tunnels had seemed so unremarkable at first, but I can see now that they are about the same size as the beetle. It doesn’t surprise me. I’ve seen so many strange things during my life with Mother.

The tunnel takes us to a large cavern. I can see daylight and my heart leaps. There are cracks in the ceiling of the cavern, much like the ones we entered through. Better yet, I can reach them.

Embarrassingly, it takes a couple of tries.

“What, are you out of practice?”

I ignore how Katsuo laughs.

The ground starts to shake as I reach the top. I look. My siblings are as confused as I am.

And then another beetle emerges in a shower of rocks and we know.

I reach for Katsuo, who sings to join the fight, before realizing that we are too high. I could climb down, but I sense that I would miss most of the battle by climbing. To Katsuo’s dismay, I ignore his protests and pull out my bow instead. Unfortunately, I’m still too far away to do much good. I growl in frustration, but there’s nothing to be done and my siblings dispatch the monster just as a second arrives.

“Swing down. Fight!”

I reach for Kastuo.

But my siblings are climbing the rope and all we can do is rain arrows down upon the beetle until they have reached safety. The fight is below me, but my siblings are here. Safe. Daylight is mere steps away.

I hang my head and follow my siblings out into the air. One of them fumbles, gets caught in the crack, and must be pulled up. I barely even notice.

I spend the entire walk home apologizing to Katsuo. He ignores me.

At least until Naraziy tells us that two new jobs have arrived by carrier bird. We can defeat marauding beastmen in Damar or help deal with miners causing trouble in Malkus.

I whisper the news to him.

We smile.

Adventure.

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Little Village on the Plains

I guess we should be thankful that the village was still in relatively good shape, but it also had the drawback of attracting some unwanted guests. At least beastmen aren’t exactly known for farming, so the grasses and crops left to seed were tall enough to help give us some cover on our approach.

It must have been a while since any soldiers had been near, as there was only one lone sentry, who was easily dispatched without raising an alarm. We quickly dispatched another napping beast, and moved on to the next building, where we surprised a few more beasts, and then barricaded the door while we examined the structure. unfortunately we attracted the attention of what we assume was the chieftain and shaman of their tribe. The shaman cast some vile curse upon us, but it did not help him, as an arrow though the eye dispatched him fast.

We managed to take down another few beast from above, before the chief broke down the door. Thankfully Piotyr and Marit were downstairs, and held the rear while the rest of us joined the fray. The fight went well, and though the chief was strong, we had the advantage of training together.

Like many villages on the frontier, the homes are sturdy, built of stone, and fortified main floors, and though filthy with the presence of the beasts, once cleaned out they will make excellent places to stay while the keep is rebuilt. Though they will need a LOT of work.

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Letter to an Old Friend

To Ragnar Olsson – Chief Officer of the Cheese Makers Guild of Ylir

Dearest Ragnar,

My apologies for the time that has lapsed since I last wrote you. My siblings and I have been increasingly busy as of late. As I write to you, we are travelling in the nearby lands of Dmar, on a twofold mission for both kingdom and family. We arrived bearing a letter from our late mother to deliver to one Golshan Agassi. Upon entering the capital, we quickly learned (through my adoptive brother Sterling’s unsavoury behaviour of bribery) that Golshan was recently fired by the lord we have come to aid, though she does still dwell in the city. We felt it best to complete our primary mission first, so as not to anger his lordship by seeking her out. At least not before receiving payment. We are a new noble house and we shall surely carry out many noble deeds, but first we require coin to build up our lands.

We stayed in an unremarkable but well kept inn our first night. I was glad of the roof over my head, though I’ll never afford a pack donkey if we keep spending so much on inns. As you remember from when my family was alive and well in Ylir, I have wanted one of those fine animals since first seeing the cheese porters carrying the products of our labour to the furthest reaches of the kingdom. But those were simpler days. I have not had time to think about cheese making in some time, though I carry the Great Gouda always, in my heart and at my side. I regret that my skills in battle have been needed more than my skills in spreading the word of the Great Aged One. Though I vow upon His Roundness, that at the end of this gruesome battle, I shall have a word with his lordship about the distressing lack of cheese in this kingdom and its inns.

We are to rescue villagers who have been terrorized by goblins. Above and beyond our mission to clear out the village, we have been promised extra coin for this service. Though his lordship angers me by calling the villagers his property, I have held my tongue. It is good to be of assistance to these poor wretched souls. I do it gladly. My siblings and I marched out immediately and found the village intact, though flying odd white linens, faded to a dingy grey. I feel it in my core, there is something amiss here. My brothers and sisters are quick to assure me that the only disturbance I feel comes from the existence of the goblins themselves, but I do not believe it. Though the presence of these minor beast men threatens to fill my heart with hate and my mind with painful memories and the half-faded smell of smoke, I know it is not my past, but rather divine dairy guidance that tells me, something is wrong here.

The goblins were overseeing villagers harvesting the fields. We set an ambush for them. And after a long hard fight we had slain the first ten goblins. As the last beast fell to my javelin of faith, we turned to the fleeing villagers and confirmed that it was indeed the beasts who ordered the white linens be put up and the villagers to prepare food for them. My siblings and I could see a couple of other work parties in the fields. We expected to pick them off easily one by one, but the second party was expecting us. While Aino led the villagers away from the fray, the rest of us charged into battle once more. We killed eight of the filthy monsters, but the other three fled. I ran after them, watching in horror as our one chance at staying unknown to the rest of the goblins sped away. Thank Gouda my sisters were faster than I. Natsuko and Tia slayed the remaining beasts before the rest of us could even catch our breath.

We rest now, before the next round of mayhem and blood. It is distasteful, and yet I trust in the Aged One’s plan for me in this life. I was led here, and this must be work He needs me to do. I trust also in the judgement of Mother, who deemed me worthy of these skills and of her care. I must go now. I will send this letter as soon as I am able, and eagerly await your reply. You have been my dearest friend through these troubled years. Though you were unable to take me in after the death of my parents, you have remained my one connection to my homeland since the priesthood cast me out. But no matter. I will roll ever onward. As He does.

Yours,

Marit Sommerfeldt of the House of the Silverhawk.

-

Great Gouda who art in heaven,
Cultured be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
Thy curd be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily cheese.
And forgive us our unsavoryness,
As we forgive those who are unsavoury toward us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from unripeness.
For thine is the grated,
The pungent, and the holey,
For ever and ever.
Ferment.

-

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The Tale of the Silverhawk
Chapter 5: The Great Goblin Caper, Part II
(continued from my last entry, wherein we took the task of clearing away goblins and rescuing the Enslaved for coin)

I led the throng of malnourished serfs away from their besmirched town, and showed them the path to safety. Having fulfilled my duty to the downtrodden, I then left the villagers in safety and flew on the wings of song to rejoin my battling brethren. Meeting with them, we circled northward, around the village, where we spied a group of goblins returning with their enslaved villagers. The Enslaved were near broken from unyielding captivity and long labours, their backs bent under the burden of unripened crops.

Sterling the Strong rose rapidly to the challenge, casting aside his weapons so as to appear alone and vulnerable as he threw rocks and yelled at our enemies. Three goblins ventured forward while the rest beat hastily towards the village with their questionable bounty. Many of my siblings sallied forth to catch the retreating scourge; meanwhile Piotyr the Pious and I remained hidden to provide our brother aid in his confrontation. Our glorious trio attacked as one, Sterling the Strong falling back to retrieve his weapons. I sang the Song of Heroes as we were attacked in turn, and while Piotyr the Pious was injured, his valour rose superior. He smote one, killing it, even as Sterling the Strong’s own blood was spilt. I continued to sing, lending my strength to my brothers. (Even so, Sterling somehow managed to snap his bowstring… it was really quite unfortunate.) Piotyr the Pious’s blow landed true again, though not so true as to save me. The spear sank deep, rending my flesh, and as my Song faltered, the others paused. (My Lovely stumbled slightly, and nearly turned back… the fear in her eyes… well. She gave me the strength to continue, if only to reassure her she would not be left again.)

The strength of the Silverhawks filled me to overflowing and I sang a Song of Thunder and Death. One goblin fell beneath the onslaught as the other writhed in agony, and my final verse allowed me to lend power to Sterling the Strong’s final blow with his War Hammer. With that, the last moved no more.

Far ahead we could see the rest of our siblings engaging with the remaining Goblins in a great show of flashing blades, lustrous spells and righteous invocations. Sterling the Strong remained behind to query those we had rescued, while Piotyr the Pious and I ran forth to join our siblings in glorious battle. I stumbled, my heart bleeding and my eyes filling with tears as two of the Goblin spears found its mark. (My poor Lovely… if only I had been faster to join them! Or if I had gone with her from the start. From now on, no leaving each other’s side in battle!). The Stunning Sorceress’ fury rose at the steel twice cutting her flesh, and she called down the lightning from the skies and struck five together. Noble Natsuko raised her sword and sliced another asunder.

The battle raged on amidst mighty swords, faith purified javelins and scorching rays. The beasts’ blows failed to touch Noble Natsuko, but found their cursed way to Mystical Marit, and the Stunning Sorceress. More goblins streamed forth from the village, and were quickly dispatched by blade, javelin, scorching rays and orbs of chaos.

Such display cowed all who remained to question our Righteous Cause, but not quickly enough to avoid the Just Vengeance visited upon them. They were quickly searched for thieved goods, and unholy relics. Then, as one, the Silverhawks moved forth. Mystical Marit blew her orc horn, won in righteous battle. (Poor girl… the brutality of our chosen life often tries her. She lends a wonderful kindness to our adventures, but I worry that her mind is becoming less sound. And I wonder at just what Piotyr learned in that monastery of his… kill all the infants so that nothing survives to seek revenge? Make love, not war I say. Or better yet, make love after making war. I wonder if they would accept that as our new motto?)
Thus, they were subdued, and one walked forth from the town, waving a cloth of grimy white, and as he drew closer his missing ear became apparent. He spoke, in the broken language of a second tongue, and revealed the plight of his people. It was decided then we could not force them to their Death on the march to their own lands, and that while Mystical Marit healed the weak and dying young we sent Sterling the Strong and Piotyr the Pious to collect our wage. (There was quite the heated discussion about that, let me tell you! But despite Piotyr’s prejudices and Sterling’s practicality, the rest of us were unwilling to kill what were basically helpless families. Not that I would be too quick to trust a goblin, they are trying to survive and keep their own. Family is like that.)

Thus, we took them all, and some of the littlest rode with me upon the Stunning Sorceress’ steed, and I regaled them with lullabies of battle and victory as I surveyed the lands for danger on our way to our keep.

After they were settled within the village, and given instruction on repairs and cleanliness, we left to rejoin Sterling the Strong and Piotyr the Pious in the quest for a Carpenter and the meeting of Golshan. One was attained with worrisome ease, while the other offered a tantalizing quest…

… and so ends the tale. Until next time!

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From the pages of Piotyr's diary

Our last excursion has left me feeling a little uneasy. It will help to write this nonsense out.

Golshan wanted our help in stealing back a magical banner or something from Firuz. Apparently something had gone wrong in her attempts to marry off his “special” son so she ended up jobless and down one magical item. Stealing from him wasn’t a hard decision, I’m not particularly fond of Firuz. As long as we give at least some of the loot to the poor, I’m okay with it. Maybe I can get Marit to donate some cheese to an orphanage.

We headed out at night and Golshan led us through streets and dark alleys to what looked like a bricked up passage. It was decided that Natsuko and I would be the ones to knock it down. We both swung at the same time – she broke through the wall, while my swing barely cracked a brick! I tried to play it off as a practice swing but I don’t think anybody bought it. I should really practice with a war hammer or something. I dashed through the opening first, rather brazenly, in hopes that I could leave my shame behind. It didn’t do much good, the passage was pitch black so I had to come back out and let the elves lead. Possibly the least graceful thing I’ve done since I tried to negotiate with that kobold.

During the tedious and boring trip through the dark passage, Natsuko started teasing Aino and Tia about their friendship yet again. I get the distinct feeling that I’m missing some in-joke or something but I don’t want to play the fool and ask. Besides, it’s nice that they’ve become so close. When they get married off to nice, respectable noblemen and have families of their own they will be grateful for such a friendship.

We wound our way through that dark passage until we emerged into what looked like a dungeon. Golshan pointed us in the right direction and off we went, down the torch lit tunnels.

We came upon a prisoner chained to the wall and, despite my protestations, Aino gave the prisoner one of her sleeping potions. Soon after the prisoner had drunk the potion, they started to convulse and froth at the mouth and I think death followed after that. Gods bless that girl for trying to help but if anyone ever tries to drink one of Aino’s potions I will slap it out of their hand.

We continued on and, despite having to dodge a guard and disarm some traps, most of the path to our goal was uneventful. That is, until we came to the final chamber – there was a massive beast protecting our quarry. We started as we usually do with the swinging of swords and slinging of spells. 7 on 1, what could go wrong?

After I got in a failed swing or two and the others did their best, I was able to work my way around to the beasts blind side. I brought my blade down hard into the ugly thing and felt that satisfying sensation of blade cracking bone. I may have admired my swing a little too much, though. The beast turned its attention to me and I was in a terrible position after such an attack. With surprising speed it closed its jaws around my right thigh and for the second time that fight I felt bone crack. The beast flicked its jaws and threw me aside like a dog would a discarded toy.

My memory starts to get patchy at this point. I know there was a lot of blood and I remember someone screaming. The pain was horrible and I think I blacked out from it. Or perhaps it was the blood loss? Regardless, before losing consciousness I thought about the curse that father put on me. I thought about dying and rising again in undeath or passing to the afterlife and the loving arms of my god. Whatever happened, I was prepared for it.

But it was so uneventful. There was no bright light or heavenly choir. There were no necromantic horrors. Even though I was unconscious, it somehow feels as if it was a lonely experience. Where can I find the divine, if not at the borders of death?

I woke up shortly after the battle had finished with some healing from Marit. The beast had been felled, apparently by Natsuko and Sterling. What a wonderful sight to wake to, my siblings victorious and already sizing up the bounty. Perhaps I should spend less time ruminating on death and more time with my siblings. As long as they don’t make me drink any homemade potions.

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Personal Entry

A private entry today, as I could use a break from my epic. Besides, it has been quiet since we returned to the Manor.

I expect there will be some excitement down the road. When we returned to the keep with Golshan, Nazarin was waiting for us. He had to shade his eyes against the sun, but his eyes narrowed when they fell on Golshan.

The two obviously new each other. A rather wicked smile, masquerading as sweet, wreathed Golshan’s face. Nazarin shook his head. “Should’ve burned that letter.”
With a laugh, Golshan called him a sweet old man, asking how he had been. He muttered something about how she ruins things. I thought immediately of Sterling’s memories of Golshan and mother sharing a tent, and couldn’t help but wonder if that had “ruined” something Nazarin had, or hoped to have had, with mother…

The clang of hammers and rasp of saws brought us back to the topic at hand. The carpenters were hard at work, and we had received two letters in our absence- one lucrative, and the other urgent. Nazarin also raised one eyebrow as he brought up sightings of goblins in the village.

We were quick to respond. Too quick, of course, and fooled no one. Piotyr tried to defer blame, while I said we had resettled them as long as they repair and maintain the village (Golshan laughing at me)… and Sterling stated they were our early warning system. Nazarin just shook his head, and handed us our letters.

One was a plea from a village, where a beast of some sort had destroyed most of their fields. It was from Karniss, and obviously drafted by the peasants. The second was from Lady Alexandra in Therma. Tradespeople important to the war were going missing- armourers, fletchers, and blacksmiths. She offered us 500 gold pieces to solve the problem, and another 500 to find the lost workers.

After some discussion, we decided to stop by the village on our way to Therma, and we would leave the next day. At that point Golshan intruded, saying that would leave tonight only to do her interviews. My siblings and I glanced at each other. I suspect only Tia and I were familiar with the workings of the Game of Beds.

Golshan holed up in one of the few rooms with standing walls and a stable roof. She was in and out a few times, returning the last time with a steaming kettle.

I climbed up into the rafters and settled next to a sizeable gap in the plaster. I couldn’t see much, but I could hear her humming clearly, so I made laid back along the beam and waited.

I must have dozed a bit, because I woke as a shower of dust fell on my face, dislodged by the door closing below. I covered my nose and held my breath to avert a sneeze.

Marrit’s voice floated back up to me. The questions Golshan asked were broad, but directed. I slipped down from my perch when my own turn came, and quietly climbed back up while Golshan waited for Piotyr to end his conversation with Nazarin about the catacombs and join her for tea.

Most of what my sibling’s said didn’t surprise me. Amuse me, at times, yes. But not surprising. Marrit, though she tries to be humble as becomes a servant of the cheese, still wished to be remembered for improving the lives of the common citizen. She did not seek marriage, but she also did not object.

Piotyr, as the head of our noble House, would marry for the family’s greater good and to carry on our line. He hoped for a strong woman, decisive, with a good reputation and connections… and child-bearing hips.

Natsuko’s answers did surprise me a little, mostly because of how similar they were to my own. She is quiet, even somewhat reclusive, spending much of her time talking to her sword. (My siblings seem to have their share of odd behaviours.) There were many differences, of course; she isn’t as… ‘free-spirited’ as I was. But she does not wish to now, valuing her independence as much as I value my own. If she were to marry, she would prefer an independent man who would join us or remain at the Manor. Her preferences in a mate differed markedly from my own, as she wanted someone with whom she was personally compatible. A person who was funny, steady, and competent. It’s odd, actually, that my siblings were so concerned about how their match might suit them, personally. Their concept of marriage, its purpose, and its value differs so much from my own.

Sterling has a bit of a checkered past… the implication being that he seduced women and visited brothels only as part of his ‘missions’. I wonder if he hasn’t had a personal relationship at some time in the past. As heir, he understood his duty; he would marry to help the family. His commitment to the family was expected, but I wasn’t aware of how strongly protective he was, and his willing to do anything, give up anything, to protect us.

As Tia entered the room, I found myself leaning hopefully towards the gap in the plaster. What would she say? How closely did her desires and plans match my own?
I was disappointed when all I heard was continuous flatulence. I sat back, annoyed. Obviously there was some magic involved here. Golshan must suspect someone was eavesdropping. I waited for a few minutes to see if the covering noises would stop, without luck. With a sigh, I swung down, and went in search of some of my siblings.

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