Anne’s burns healed rather quickly thanks to the skills of Tay Trefenwyd.Â He used a combination of magic and conventional healing to patch up many of the worst injuries the Roses sustained (Anne was fortunate enough to avoid Ralben’s attentions :P).Â Even with his help, however, it would take a while for Anne to regain full use of her swordarm.Â She was on her feet though, which was useful as the contract with Winterfell was about to kick into high gear.
Winterfell was feeling bruised from an uptick in undead and orc attacks.Â To better defend its client, the Society decided to set up a more permanent presence.Â Orders sent all available soldiers to camp near a guard tower inside the Kingdom’s borders.Â Since Anne wasn’t much good in a fight, she volunteered to help with supplies for the camp.Â I actually owe Melanie another apology over that too – word didn’t get to her properly that Anne was helping out, which caused a small ruckus a few days later.Â Sorry yet again, Melanie!
Anywho, the thought of the Roses camped out in Winterfell caught my fancy, prompting this little story:
As it would turn out, the Roses wouldn’t be in Winterfell for long.Â While they were there, however, it was a lot of fun.Â There were new patrols to run, skirmishes with enemies spread over a large area, and plenty of opportunity for the soldiers and citizens to interact from the RP aspect.Â Despite a growing dislike for the Society, occasionally an impressed citizen would comment on the Roses responding quickly and decisively to orders and threats.Â That was nice to see.Â Yet the few comments couldn’t outweigh the spreading discontent.Â Even if the Roses had been hired by the Regent AND they were on-site to protect the kingdom, the average townspersonÂ seemed to resent the Society’s presence.Â The long history between Winterfell and the Roses extended back to the earliest days of Northwood, and the relationship ranged from benign to hostile for a variety of reasons.Â Current incidents between rowdy and too outspoken parties on both sides only degraded the situation more.Â Eventually, a bad ending to the contract became evident.
Breakdown in Winterfell
The last straw came during preparations for a suspected impending attack.Â The Roses decided to add “fortifications” to the exterior of the Winterfell keep as added defense for the planned court session that day.Â They used wooden tables, an easy to make item, to build a wall around the doorway.Â On the OOC side, having the wall made it easier for the Roses to defend the doorway of the castle.Â Characters couldn’t walk through the tables, whereas the characters themselves weren’t “solid” by game mechanics.Â The wall forced attackers into a narrower approach, and provided a small bit of cover from ranged attacks.Â There at least was a small reason for the “addition”.
Some of Winterfell’s citizens took exception to the wall and began to verbally berate the Roses while physically tearing the wall down.Â Honestly, I don’t think the OOC or IC motivations at the time had much to do with anythingÂ – I still believe that the argument was justÂ a convenient outlet for a lot of pent up ego, dispute, and ugliness (on both sides).
Anyway, Anne had only just arrived when things heated up.Â She was still nominal in a fight, and higher ranks were present, so she tried to keep out of the way and stay on guard.Â Things continued to deteriorate, and one of the Winterfellians hurled an insult at Shadowspawn, who was now a Major.Â While Shadow wasn’t reckless enough to respond while on contract, some of the other Roses took offense.Â Shadow was highly respected by the ranks.Â An insult to the royal family was fired back, and things started to fall apart.
A couple Roses and Winterfell citizens began to fight and took off in different directions.Â Cooler heads on both sides managed to keep the battle from expanding, and Anne returned to headquarters with most of the other Roses when commanded out of the kingdom.Â After reassembling, the lot received a harsh, albeit deserved, reprimand from General Rahl.
Debinani Rahl: YOU ALL SWORE A GODDAMNED OATH!!!!
Debinani Rahl: I SWEAR…
Debinani Rahl: TO CONDUCT MYSELF…
Debinani Rahl: WITH POISE
Debinani Rahl: PRECISION
Debinani Rahl: AND DISCIPLINE!!!
Debinani Rahl: AT WHAT POINT DID YOU DECIDE IT WAS MEANINGLESS?!!?!?
Debinani Rahl: You dirteaters are the meanest, nastiest, biggest dog in town.
Debinani Rahl: And the only thing that separates you from worthless, mindless killers IS YOUR GODDAMNED OATH!
Debinani Rahl: The Society has a long tradition of upholding these core tenants.
Debinani Rahl: You are no different.
Debinani Rahl: You need to become comfortable with the fact that the world hates you, and fears you.
Debinani Rahl: And if we are EVER to have a SHRED of respect from them, we MUST UPHOLD OUR PROFESSIONALISM!
Debinani Rahl: The actions of the Winterfell citizenry are unconscionable.
Debinani Rahl: But they pay us to stand on a wall, and protect them….even the fuckwits.
Debinani Rahl: The Contract is our god, it separates us from brigands and murderers.
Debinani Rahl: If we show no respect for that contract, that leaves us nothing.
Debinani Rahl: Not to mention the fact that it’s bad for business.
Debinani Rahl: Believe me, people who mistreat my soldiers come to an unfortunate end.
Debinani Rahl: Those of you who remember our contract in Yew might remember what happened to them.
Debinani Rahl: But let the senior staff take care of retribution for our employers’ wrongs.
Debinani Rahl: NOT YOU!
Debinani Rahl: POISE, PRECISION, DISCIPLINE, CONTRACT!
Debinani Rahl: Don’t a single one of you dare…dare to sully the reputation I’ve spent a lifetime building.
Debinani Rahl: The Winterfell contract, something that would very likely pay your stipend for the NEXT SIX MONTHS
Debinani Rahl: has been withdrawn.
Debinani Rahl: Since this could have easily been avoided by a SLIVER OF GODDAMNED PROFESSIONALISM,
Debinani Rahl: I’m cutting the company’s monthly stipend in half.
Debinani Rahl: We’ll see what happens in the future.
Debinani Rahl: So…the senior staff and I are going to go out and look for another job for you children.
Debinani Rahl: If anyone decides to hire us after this affair, try not to fuck that one up too, okay?
Rahl was not a man to piss off, and we certainly had pissed him off that night.Â Of course, he wasn’t kidding either.Â The Society as a whole was not an organization to mess with.Â At that time though, things screamed to a halt, and the Roses stayed home.Â The last stragglers were rounded up and everyone was told to cool it.
Later that evening, Anne was abruptly ordered to round up as many troops as she could muster.Â Shadowspawn had gone back toÂ WinterfellÂ for some purpose (never revealed to a lowly Chief), and Winterfell arrested him for murder.Â The SocietyÂ went on alert, and tempers flared.Â The officers were on top of things at Headquarters, though, and Anne spent a lot of time reinforcing the message that no one was supposed to do anything foolhardy (like go after the Major themselves).Â A rather tense waitÂ began.Â The ranks were seething with fury and wanted nothing more than to tear Winterfell down stone-by-stone until the Major was returned.Â It kept the NCOs extremely busy.Â But the call to act didn’t come.
Some while later, Adulphus decided he had waited long enough.Â He scooped up most of the Roses on hand and made for Winterfell with them in tow.Â Brandon Stark, the man who would later take the throne, led a group of citizens who confronted the soldiers.Â There was a long conversation between the two, but one nice exchange was:
Adulphus Turon: You’ve illegally detained a Britannian citizen, and my brother.
Brandon Stark: You all have illegally killed a Winterfellian citizen, and a sword-sister.
Adulphus Turon: Well, guess that means we’re both fawked eh?
In the end, Brandon and Adulphus talked their way to an understanding, and the attempt to retake the Major was called off.Â Some concessions were made on behalf of Winterfell, andÂ chosen Roses were permitted access to Shadow to make sure he wasn’t being mistreated.Â Anne went home withÂ the rest of the troops.Â All in all, the exchange between Adulphus and Brandon was great to watch.Â The Winterfellians knew they didn’t have the manpower to stop the Roses if it came to a fight (they said as much), but they still made a stand.Â Brandon’s urging to let the leadership on both sides handle things was sensible too.Â Of course, that didn’t mollify Anne and most of the other Roses, but at least it was a sign of sanity in the middle of an ugly situation.
Sanity however, wasn’t going to stop this.Â Within a day or so, Anne was instructed by Captain Zequire to rally the troops yet again.Â Winterfell was holding court, andÂ Shadowspawn’s fate was going to be decided.Â After the discussion with Brandon, everyone expected Shadow to be released without any problems.Â When court ended without even bringing up the subject, the Roses began to get serious.Â Seeing the Warders applying their war paints was always a bad sign of things to come.
As Thomas wasn’t around, Anne took charge of the recruits.Â She was very optimistic as they popped through a gate to appear outside Shadow’s cell.Â It took only a second to free him.Â So far so good!Â The Major assumed command, and he announced that they were “rescuing” Pict Fox before they left.Â Anne wasn’t privvy to the reasoning, but she followed orders, so off they went.Â The Roses subdued a small pocket of resistance to grab Fox, who was less than willing to go along, but minimal blood had been shed.Â Both objectives had been achieved successfully.Â Shadow and Fox left, presumably to HQ, and Colonel Anubis joined the remaining Roses when they reassembled, still in Winterfell.
I wrote this story to recap the last part of the assault into Winterfell.
The Society came home victorious – Major Shadowspawn was free, and Winterfell had been punished.Â Anne, however, was sick with horror at the way it ended.Â Although obeying orders was part of her job, she had never experienced the truly ugly side of what her Oath demanded.Â Obedience came at a certain price.
On top of that, Anubis’s order changed the way Anne viewed the Colonel.Â She had admired him, and Thomas had always held him in the highest regard.Â Anne let Thomas’s esteem color her opinion because everything prior had shown Anubis to be a reasonable man.Â Wiping out the remnants in Winterfell had shocked her.Â Yes, it was family.Â Yes, they’d been wronged.Â Anne felt that the response exceeded the bounds of Discipline, and it haunted her.Â (In truth, the girl needed to toughen up a bit more – and later, she wouldn’t feel quite so guilty about meting out retribution to those who did the Rose wrong.)
Although it wasn’t fair to Anubis, Anne would never trust him fully after.Â She kept her Oath and afforded him all the respect his rank demanded.Â But her opinion had been damaged.Â Thomas still prefered to deal with Anubis whenever possible.Â Anne, however, withdrew some.Â She prefered working with Shadow, Torinor, or Kenyon from then on.
I guess this would be a good point to recap Anne’s thoughts about her commanding officers.Â This was the first time since Deb’s wedding that they had changed much.
General Rahl – Anne was still in awe of Rahl.Â She never doubted that he had the best intentions for his Roses, but his moods baffled her at times.Â That really was a sign of how little she knew him.Â His marriage to Kalipso, and her subsequent jump into the lowest ranks of the officers wasÂ a trifle unfair in Anne’s eyes, but hey – who was going to argue with a man who had been around seemingly forever and who commanded the respect of the meanest soldiers ever to walk Britannia?
Colonel Anubis – Anne had never known Anubis well., but she had considered him fair and trustworthy in the past.Â Thomas always gave him the highest marks.Â After Winterfell, Anne put Anubis into the “unknown” category.Â The rank was there, and she would never disobey him, but she never had the same devotion as Thomas afterward.
Major Shadowspawn – Anne adored Shadow.Â She would have given herÂ life for his at any time.Â The man was hard, uncompromising, and damned scary at times.Â But he also did what he did for the best of the Society, and he always helped another Rose in need – even if his methods were unusual.Â His growing relationship with Melanie also showed Anne that he was human too, which only endeared him more to her.
Captain Zequire – Anne still respected Torinor greatly.Â Although the passage of time had separated her first little circle with Tor, Sarah, and Kenyon, Anne still remembered, and she found Tor the most approachable of the officers.Â She also kept cheering him and Sarah on, even through their rough patches.
Lt. McBainÂ – Anne had a bit of a fond spot for Kenyon, and she respected him for being another of the more approachable officers.Â She had distanced herself after deciding that she wasn’t interested in his advances, and she never came to terms with the friction between him and Thomas.Â As she was Thomas’ right-hand, she occasionally was more formal with Ken,Â but she still looked out for him when she felt he needed it.
So ended the first major contract of Anne’s career.Â It was a real eye-opener, and it taught her to cling to the family members in the Society that she trusted most.Â At this stage, Anne’s closest friends were Thomas, Sarah, and Tay.Â Thomas was her immediate boss, understood where she was coming from, and was her friend.Â Sarah was wild, unpredictable, and the closest thing Anne would ever have to a sister.Â Tay was awesome as always.Â I find it a shame now that I had known ofÂ the character for years, but never KNEWÂ him until Anne.Â There was a lot I would never get to know, I’m sure.Â But from Anne’s perspective, he was becoming a very eccentric brother.
Some of you may ask – where are Barristan and Anmoch in that list??Â While still her friends, things had changed for different reasons.
Now that Anne was aware of Anmoch in a new light, she was struggling with her own feelings.Â As she had never been romantically involved, she had no idea how to process any of it.Â To her surprise, she found herself pleased by the thought that he might find her attractive.Â She also discovered him sneaking into her thoughts when least expected.Â The problem was, what did she do about it?
The same awkwardness in handling Kenyon’s advances would plague her with Anmoch – although he was just as unsure on how to proceed, I would say!Â In any case, the situation put a new spin on their friendship, and Anne fell back on her usual patterns more often than not out of sheer inexperience.
Anne’s friendship with Barristan had been built on rapport from being recruits together.Â Their shared experiences forged a certain trust and kinship between them.Â Although Anne would never converse with Barristan like she would with someone like Thomas, Anne knew she could rely on Barristan no matter what.
Barristan’s reprieve from prosecution changed him and his direction quite a bit.Â His new role in the Society moved he and Anne apart more, and they would never be quite as companionable again.
New Members for the WardersÂ
Instead of forming a new division, Barristan joined the Warders.Â It was a good fit, and heÂ quickly adjusted to the role.Â Â Â While the Warders were highly respectedÂ – they represented the “best of the best” for the Roses – they also took special Oaths beyond the average Rose.Â They were the hammer of the Society as well as the last line of defense.Â Retreat really wasn’t in their vocabulary.Â They set aside any fear of death, going into battle knowing that their assignments could take their lives at any time.Â Not too long after Barristan joined their ranks, Anmoch expressed a new interest in joining them too.
That leads me to what I think is a good expression of who the Warders were, at least from my in-game experiences with them.Â This wasÂ with the PictsÂ a short while after Anmoch joined their ranks.
For those of you not familiar with the way the Picts spoke, I findÂ it’s easiestÂ toÂ blur out the X, Y, and Zs and let your brain replaceÂ the wholeÂ with the most logical word.Â Â For example, Anmoch’s first line there says “I am a Warder” (an easy one), and Pict Crow says near the bottom “swxrn tx kyll thx Turtles znxmyxs”, which translates to “sworn to kill the Turtles enemies”.Â (The Picts called the Roses “Turtles” because of the armor, I believe.)
Anyway, I hope translating the below isn’t too bad!
Anmoch Coisich: Y xm x Wzrdxr.
Pict Beaver: *looks at him curiously*
Anmoch Coisich: X Wzrdxr mxkzs xn zxth xf dzxth.
Pict Beaver: Wxrdxr?
Pict Crow: *blinks*
Pict Crow: *eyes get wide*
Pict Beaver: *sniffs tenatively*
Pict Crow: Z Stzlkxr
Anmoch Coisich: Xnd sx wx zftxn pzxnt xzr fxcz, tx shxw yt.
Pict Crow: *looks to one side quickly*
Pict Beaver: *averts her gaze*
Anne Savant: *frowns slightly*
Anne Savant: I think you frightened them.
Anmoch Coisich: Aye, it would appear so.
Pict Crow: *keeps her eyes from Anmoch*
Anmoch Coisich: Or, I may have offended them.
Anne Savant: *to Crow*
Anne Savant: Why do you not look at a Warder?
Pict Crow: Wx wyll nxt lxxk zt thx Dxzd
Pict Beaver: *glances over then quickly looks away*
Anne Savant: *thinks a moment*
Anne Savant: Ah.
Pict Crow: Hx ys thx Stzlkxr
Pict Crow: swxrn tx kyll thx Turtles znxmyxs
Pict Crow: znd dyx yn Bzttlx
Pict Crow: hx ys dxzd
Anne Savant: *glances at Anmoch*
Anne Savant: Such was the vow, yes.Â
Quick aside – The Picts were a unique group of roleplayers.Â As I was only ever involved with them at a distance aside from friendships with the character Pict Fox, let me use a description from a wiki aboutÂ some of the old guilds from Catskills:
“The Picts (Pict) â€” One of the oldest and most original guilds on Catskills based in Yew. The Picts were savages who lived in tune with nature (Gaia). Picts were all named after animals and had to have the title Pict in their name â€“ e.g. Pict Fox, Pict Lynx, Pict Wolf. The Picts had a special made up language, where all vocals were replaced with the letters x,y or z (with a few exceptions). “Hyl! Lxng lyvz thz Picts!” ”
In the Pict tradition, their Stalkers were similar to Warders.Â They were considered already dead because of the oaths they’d taken.Â This was a long way to make a point, but I found it a very fitting analogy to the Warders.
Anyway, Barristan patterned his service after Adulphus, and that was a frightening duo.Â Anne was very proud of Barristan, though, and she knew he was serving the Society in a way that fit him well.Â Anmoch becoming a Warden was a mixed thing for Anne.Â By the time he joined (which was some time after Barristan did), Anne knew that he was very important to her.Â She was a little daunted by the oath he took with the Warders, but knowing him as well as she did, she also was fiercely proud and happy for him.Â As it was for Barristan, being a Warder suited Anmoch very very well.
I’m getting a little ahead of things though.Â BarristanÂ joined the Warders during the early stages of the Winterfell contract.Â Anmoch wouldn’t take his own oath for another month.Â Â Let’s go back to Shadowspawn being returned to the Roses.
Within a day or two ofÂ Shadow’s retrieval from Winterfell, an announcement was made that Shadowpawn and Melanie were getting married.Â This had been in the works for aÂ while, but Anne came home to headquarters one day to get highjacked by Melanie and Pagan.Â They pressed some clothes into her hands and informed her that it was “the day”.Â Anne was thrilled for the couple, and she was glad they could finally make things official.Â Despite being VERY self-conscious with her burn scars being presented in full for the first time, Anne donned the sleeveless pirate costume to join the general festivities.
The pirate-themed wedding took place aboard ship by the Britannian Serpent Pillar, and it was presided over by Three-Toed Pete.Â You can guess at why he was named such.Â It was a rowdy ceremony with plenty to drink and a boatful of apes for atmosphere.
The Roses and Guests at the Horse’s Head Prior to the Wedding
At the wedding
Shadow and Melanie
For a while, Anne enjoyed herself immensely.Â Having spent a great deal of time aboard ships while fleeing between islands, Anne loved being at sea.Â Her nerves over having her scars on display quickly passed, and she ended up getting into some mischief with Sarah and Pagan (which landed a couple of them in the water).Â Anne was very happy for Shadow and Melanie, so it was turning out to be a good day.
Thomas, however, had been drinking a bit more than usual – or at least in Anne’s experience.Â He clambered up the pillar, and while talking down to Anne (who was swimming at the time), he uttered the magic words for the pillar and vanished.Â It took a little while for Anne to realize that he truly had vanished and hadn’t fallen off to reboard the ship elsewhere.Â Once they realized he was missing, some of the Roses left the festivities to mount a search party.Â They found Thomas washed up on a beach in the Lost Lands, almost drowned.Â Thankfully, they arrived in time and were able to bring him home safely.Â He would suffer from the side-effects of his ordeal for a little while after, however.
Anne Gets Drunk
Most any one who knew Anne would tell you that she didn’t drink.Â After a certain point in her career, this was true.Â Anne would politely turn down alcohol almost all the time.Â In her earliest days as a Rose, however, she would accept the odd drink.Â But they were few and far between.Â Although many Roses indulged in drink quite often, Anne never saw the point in it, and she was frightened about losing control.Â
The incident in Winterfell had a profound effect on Anne, and she immediately drank herself into oblivion after getting her soldiers home.Â That event was fictional (in the story), so no one knew about it IC.Â Anne kept it to herself.
After the wedding, Anne was still haunted by all that was going on.Â The turmoil in Winterfell layered onto her long-time displacement after her father died, her scarring,Â other ups and downs with the Roses, her new status with Anmoch, Thomas’ near-death-experience, and a million other things that were battering her psyche.Â Anne found that she was having trouble sleeping, and some of the new thoughts prowling through her head were more unpleasant than she felt she could deal with.
So one evening in game, Anne began drinking at the Horse’s Head, and she didn’t stop.Â I was actually waiting to see if any of the Roses would show up and find her in that condition.Â Just my luck, no one ever did.Â *chuckles*Â BUT, the kender Pip Lighttongue, whom Anne had met several times and considered somewhat of a friend, wandered in.Â The two chatted for a while until Anne almost passed out, then she managed to get home only to run into Tay.
Anne promised Tay she wouldn’t drink like that anymore, and she kept her word.Â I can’t say that she never drank ever, but if she did, it would only be one drink.Â She never was drunk again.
Life went back to normal for Anne afterward.Â It was the usual mix of patrols, training sessions, and meetings for a time.Â Anne kept working as Thomas’s right hand, thoroughly enjoying her time with the recruits.Â About another month passed, putting us into April 2002, during which time Anmoch joined the Warders.
And this brings us to the first story posted that even hinted at Anne and Anmoch being more than fellow soldiers.Â Â Previously, everything was between me, Anmoch’s player, and the two characters.Â ItÂ was never discussedÂ in-game, and the two never showed any outward signs of a growingÂ bond.Â Â His player andÂ I had been talking off and on about the two of them, and I finally asked if it would be OK for me to write something up that at least put itÂ out there.Â OnceÂ I showed him the story, he agreed, and the guessing game began for the Roses.
I felt that this was a fair representation of where things stood between the two of them.Â Anmoch was a Warder, and Anne still had her hands full with the recruits.Â But the two always seemed to be keeping an eye on each other, often appearing “just in time” as it were.Â The idea for the story came to me after a real visit to Deceit with the troops, where Anmoch was riding about on his nightmare.Â Despite having the story out there, things didn’t progress any faster.Â Anne was content to let things evolve how they would, and it seemed Anmoch was comfortable with the same.Â They still had plenty of duties to mind.
I need to stop here since this post has taken me the better part of a month to complete.Â The last of Anne’s time as a Chief will be next.