Elyriel Winters – Break with Winterfell

 

Elyriel loved Winterfell.  She came there as a bit of a refugee, and she found the home and family she’d been missing.  Despite the hiccups with Wraith leaving and the uncertainty about her future knighthood, Elyriel felt like she belonged with the kingdom.  She adored William as King, and even with Jocelyn’s reservations about her career path, Elyriel had a great respect for the Queen.  Elyriel also found friendships with good people – Sabrina, Arwynn, Pagan and Pict Fox, Artemis, Cinna, and so many more than can be named here.  Winterfell was home, and Elyriel was devoted to its protection and ideals for a long while.

Sadly, she and the kingdom didn’t stay on the same path, at least in her opinion.

It started small enough.  A few altercations here and there that Elyriel had trouble reconciling.  A few more townsfolk voicing opinions that seemed to run counter to what Elyriel envisioned Winterfell being.  A gradual shift from welcoming visitors to a more isolationist mentality.  Elyriel wasn’t sure what was happening, but she felt a deep unease with the events unfolding around her when it came to the common ranks of the Kingdom.  She had known some weren’t fond of the Scotts being in power – more than once she heard rumblings about the Starks, although even that always seemed mixed depending on who was speaking.  But Elyriel found herself at odds with some of the people she saw regularly, and it was a heavy weight on her heart.

At the same time, the higher ranks of the Kingdoms military seemed to be tied up elsewhere.  The squires and lower ranking soldiers were often left on their own to handle security or other details.  When the occasional ranking officer or Knight passed through, Elyriel and the others usually had something to pass on – whether it was an inquiry from another power or a plea to help sort out some disagreement between the soldiers and the commoners.  As much as she hated the delay, Elyriel tried to go through her channels of authority like she had been trained.  Unfortunately, that didn’t always happen quickly enough.

Her growing relationship with Daca didn’t help either.  Although few people spoke to her directly about it, Elyriel knew that others disapproved.  The Covenant had always had a tenuous alliance with the Kingdom at best, and that largely was through the efforts of Myca and Daca to keep it stable.  But some of the wilder elements in the Covenant didn’t always show restraint, and sentiment amongst the commoners was shifting against permitting them into the Kingdom at all.  When a major battle between the Covenant and the Emerald Empire took place in mid-2000, the aftermath had repercussions for anyone who had dealings with the Covenant.  The Emeralds who survived the first attack mounted a counterstrike, and they succeeded in capturing Myca and weakening Daca.  Elyriel didn’t learn about the battle until afterward, when she found Daca exhausted and battered from his fight.  While she was trying to get him somewhere safe to recover, the Emeralds executed Myca.  Furious that she couldn’t do anything to help, Elyriel had to settle for getting Daca back to the Manor where he assumed the role of Master of the Brood.  If things had been tenuous between Winterfell and the Covenant previously, losing Myca seemed to turn things even further against the vampire clan.

Xavier’s departure from Winterfell dealt another blow to Elyriel, but she discovered that he was leaving for many of the same reasons that had Elly struggling to keep her faith.  At the time, she couldn’t bear to leave, so they went their separate ways.  But knowing about his dissatisfaction with the Throne and the common folk ate steadily at her resolve.

Then the Queen decided she and Elyriel needed to have another chat about Elly’s future as a squire and her relationship with Daca.  Elyriel had never looked at her desire for Knighthood and her feelings for Daca as an “either-or” situation.  Now the Queen left no question about it – being a Knight left no room for consorting with vampires.  Jocelyn really wasn’t trying to be cruel, but Elyriel was shaken to the core.

Queen Jocelyn Speaks to Elyriel about Knighthood and Daca (log)

Elyriel also had a very interesting exchange one night (late at night) with Trenton Grim, a former Crimson Alliance Knight.  He had left the Crimsons for reasons of his own, and he popped up in Winterfell with a vague interest in joining as a Knight there.  Unfortunately, his reception cooled quickly when he pointed out that he had served under Vincent Storm.  The Crimsons had been a terror for a long time, especially under Storm’s leadership.  But Elyriel was amazed to see anyone walk away from the Crimson’s banner, and she saw a slight reflection of herself in the torn soul looking for direction.  The conversation between the two was interrupted frequently by the usual Winterfell-events.  Monsters, orcs, and even another Crimson (this one in uniform) showing up.  Never a dull moment!  But Grim ended up helping Elyriel and Greven il-Vec fend off some monsters that were plaguing another traveler, and he hung around for a good couple hours seeing Elyriel try to manage security and help anyone who happened through.  That seemed to have a small effect on the man, and it could have boded well for his potential future.

This log is rather long, but I really enjoyed the encounter between them.  It was completely unexpected at the time, and it let Elyriel delve into some of the things eating at her while she was trying to reach Grim and show him a better path.

Elyriel Speaks with Trenton Grim (log)

As I said at the end of the log, unfortunately Grim didn’t come to Winterfell.  I’m pretty sure he ended up back with the Crimsons at some point.  Elyriel tried, but she just couldn’t get through to him with only one exchange.

At the Breaking Point

As time went on, relations between Winterfell and the Covenant became more and more strained.  It finally got to the point where the Convenant was no longer welcome in the Kingdom, and Daca essentially was restraining his people (well, the more difficult ones anyway).  Elyriel wanted to do what was right for Winterfell, and she desperately believed in the benefits of a continued alliance with the Covenant.  She had gotten too close to Daca, Katelynn, and a few others in the Brood, so the prospect of war was tearing her apart.  Elyriel took it upon herself to champion the Covenant with William, doing anything she could do reassure him about their good faith – at least from the leadership.  Unfortunately, Jocelyn’s warnings to Elyriel had far more merit than Elly wanted to give them.  Elyriel had been taken slightly further into the councils of the Covenant by being as close to Daca as she was.  She swore that she would keep that information private – if there were going to be dealings that might put her at odds with Winterfell, she trusted that Daca wouldn’t let her overhear them.  But he was exhibiting a vast trust in her by letting her be party to ANY Covenant meetings, and Elyriel’s desperate attempts to head off conflict got the better of her.

During a discussion with the King, Elyriel volunteered a tiny bit of information without thinking twice about where and when she heard it.  In the bigger picture, it was a meaningless snippet, but Daca heard those same words from William a few days later.  He immediately knew that Elyriel had to be the source.  When he confronted her about it, Elly was aghast that she had tripped up.  In his role as Master, and with her preparing for her trials for Knighthood, Elyriel and Daca had already been seeing less of each other.  But this drew a coldness from him that shocked her.  She felt horribly guilty for what she felt was a betrayal of his trust.  She damned herself for getting trapped between her service to the Kingdom and her fear for Daca and some of his family.

It took less than a day for her resolve to unravel.  Daca was obviously angry at her, and Elyriel had no idea how to make amends.  She also was sick with the thought that war was coming no matter what she tried to do to prevent it.  Even with the first of her trials completed, she collapsed under the weight of the guilt.  Elyriel chose to abandon her imminent Knighthood, violating her oath to the King.  Fleeing what she saw as her personal failure in everything, she hid herself in Vesper and tried to become invisible for a time.

This story was my attempt to relate even a little bit of what Elyriel did to herself after the break with Winterfell.  In real time, I think she spent a month or more under the radar.  I don’t think I played her much in that interval – I was as unsure as she was on what to do next.  But eventually we decided that hiding under a rock forever wasn’t really an option.  Little did either of us know what direction things would take next.

Leaving Winterfell (story)

Elyriel really did try to stop by the Manor on her way to Yew.  It was a long shot that anyone would be home, which they weren’t, but Elly and I figured it was a good first attempt.  In the end though, things just didn’t line up for a reconciliation between her and Daca.  While it’s possible that things could have been patched up, Daca had his hands full, especially since Myca had returned, although not quite back in his old leadership role just yet.  I don’t recall exactly what had Yew stirred up at the time either.  Of course, Yew always seemed to have something major going on!  But the Covenant had its own part of those dealings to work through.  Elyriel did see Daca at a distance sometimes, but she never spoke to him directly after the confrontation about her betrayal of his trust.

Honestly, I looked at the ending of that relationship as an inevitability.  Although Elyriel was taken with Daca, he really did have a much different path ahead of him.  It’s not my place to delve too deeply into his secrets and his world, but I always suspected that Elly could only be a temporary involvement for him anyway.  So although the timing wasn’t exactly planned, it probably worked out best for both characters.  I never did get a take from his player on how Daca really responded to Elyriel vanishing like she did.  We had other characters interact later, but that was the last of my dealings with Daca himself.  For the record, it was a wild ride while it lasted!  Then again, I think any player who had a character get tangled up with him could say the same!  *laughs*

Now bumping into Wraith in Yew was another unplanned event.  Elyriel really did face a dilemma as she first walked up to the abbey.  Wraith and Sterling or Myca and Katelynn.  They were the only people she recognized who probably wouldn’t attack her on sight or dismiss her outright.  She really didn’t even have to work up the courage to talk to the former Knights though – they actually saw her before she got much closer.  But she found it very pleasant that they still spoke to her like an equal.  The tone of the conversation was like their old days of training together at Stark Keep.  Having been isolated from what friends she had, being welcomed in their company was like finding water in the desert.

For a while after that though, Elyriel and I just wandered a bit.  She fought monsters and evil wherever she roamed, and she returned to Yew occasionally to try and keep up with what was happening between the major political powers of the time.  That led her to talk with Wraith a bit more often, and she saw some other old friends, most of whom were pleased to see her, much to her surprise.  It was an interesting interval, during which Elyriel tried to find a new path to follow.

So I’ll end this entry with one last bit of story.  After having more time to think on what she’d lost and where she wanted to go, Elly found herself with one last major decision to make.

Crossroads (story)

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