Nightfall - Westmoor
Anyone who doesn't pity King Thomas has no nobility in their soul.
You were my mother's most respected enemy, last King of Westmoor, and I salute you as she would have had she lived to see this day.
Indeed, although the stubborness of your mother sometimes made me want to kick the nearest servant in frustration, I had the greatest of respect for her principles and her tenacity. She was a fine warrior, a fine woman, and I expect a fine mother too.
Her death was a loss to all of us who value true nobility in both our friends and our opponents. But, in all my life, I never saw a more poetic death. For her to fall in the final defence of Fontan was as fitting an end as her gods could have wished for her.
Seek me out at the royal palace under flag of truce, and you and I shall drink to memory of your fallen mother. This I swear.
King of Westmoor
Royal of Westmoor
Aednadh blinked back the merest hint of tears as she read the King's kind words, remembering the late nights and desperate conclaves as her mother planned the final defence of Krimml with Chancellor Basilius and Lord Brock, a child watching from the shadows as those three great knights pretended she wasn't there.
The last three defenders not only of democracy, but of the institutions and statutes forged by Mikhail the Lawmaker and Gregor the Traitor when the Civil War was still far in the future. Now only Lord Brock still lived, the staunchest of allies and if truth be told the closest she could claim to a friend.
For a long time she'd considered Westmoor the blight on three generations of House Dubhaine. Conjured from the ashes of Fontan's civil war in the days of her grandmother Moira, little more at that time than a Perdanese satellite, by the time of her mother Rhidhana it had become the power base of Theocrat Jor's Church of Humanity and a focus of hatred against the Elven Republic. Under Rhidhana's painstaking command the desperately weak rump of Fontan fought two successful wars against Westmoor, only to be betrayed from within by foreign mercenaries and without by her allies. Only fools would ever trust the security of their realm to the guarantees of their neighbours, as the sack of Krimml had amply demonstrated.
It was in that poisoned atmosphere that Aednadh had known the first stirrings of womanhood, daughter of a General and granddaughter of a Supreme Justice who if events had taken a different course might have broken with family tradition and married some country gentleman to raise a large family and tend his estates.
Instead she'd learned the wisdom of the Dubhaine way as she'd watched her mother's fallen body hacked to pieces by Perdanese soldiers, too young to wield a sword beside her and yet too old to forgive her betrayal as faithful old Yfain had smuggled her from the city. And she'd learned too the full horror of war in those final desperate hours as chaos erupted in the streets and the good burghers were put to the sword.
The bards called Rhidhana a hero for her stand that day, and truly she was. But what use is a dead hero to a young girl desperate for a mother's warmth?
Many years had now passed since that dreadful day, and Aednadh had learned to suppress her emotions. But as she sat here in the shadow of Westmoor's walls she finally understood why her mother had strapped on her armour that morning long ago, why she had refused to yield even when all others deserted her. And as she understood something deep inside her changed.
I gladly accept your invitation, for it is offered with a kindness rare in times of war and I would repay it in like manner.
Lady Aednadh Dubhaine
Dame of Slimbar