The First Encounter
Excerpt from my novel, featuring my tumblr friend @fanofbooks49′s OC Della. :)
Ally, I wrote this snippet especially for you. I hope you enjoy it!!
She cut off the thought abruptly as a ragged band of soldiers, with tattered ratty coats and battered, unpolished firelocks, staggered through the door of the tavern. The apparent leader of the group—a slender, somewhat comely looking woman in a green and crimson uniform—settled himself at the bar, her companions gathering around her in a clamouring, crowded circle. Judging by the strangers’ soiled and torn scarlet coats—covered in powder smoke and scarred from countless skirmishes—it seemed apparent that most of these men had, at one point, held the King’s commission. Their eyes gave off a desperate, almost predatory glow as they surveyed the room, and their weapons clattered loudly as they gathered themselves around the bar.
‘This appears to be the place, lads,’ the leader announced to her men at length, before shifting her attention towards Della. “Price, Barnaby, stay with me. The rest of you, stand guard outside.”
The soldiers nodded. Some of them retreated outside, unslinging their muskets as they stepped outside the door. The others remained near their captain, who continued surveying Della’s face with a curious expression.
“Do the two of you get much company around here?” she asked, her voice as far from a typical officer’s breeding and demeanour as Della thought possible. The woman spoke in a crisp Eyrian accent, and her emerald eyes glanced about her, taking in the tavern and its surroundings with an observant, steady gaze,
“No, we do not, Ma’am,” Della answered with a shuddering voice, glancing behind her to see if Callum was about. Her voice most certainly sounded nervous, for the officer gazed at her with an eagle’s eyes before turning to the stocky Dwarven officer standing to her left. This second man bore a sergeant’s stripes, his filthy red hair queued messily behind him and a sharp dirk at his side. The look in his grass-green eyes suggested a savage and resolute spirit, and he looked Della up and down, apparently fascinated by her weapons and appearance.
“What do you think, Barnaby?” the woman inquired of her companion, her voice calm and confident.
“Based on the looks of this one, Ma’am,” the man named Barnaby answered, pausing to sweep his eyes over Della once more, “we have a reasonable enough chance of finding our contact here. The lass here isn’t the one we’re looking for, but perhaps she might know a place where we can find her.”
“How can you be so certain?” the officer replied, her gentle demeanour turning suddenly sour. “Colonel Morland’s description of our contact is admittedly quite vague. There’s no way of knowing if our contact is even here. For all we know, this could be an attempt by Lord Compton’s supporters to set us up.”
“I doubt that, Ma’am,” Barnaby replied. “Compton is under close arrest. Besides, Colonel Morland despises him. Even if his father or another one of those rich bastards managed to set him free, there’s no way he would risk the wrath of his new Colonel just for a chance at revenge against you. If he or his men were caught, their careers wouldn’t survive another court-martial, not after everything that happened at the battery.”
The woman nodded at her sergeant, her hand grasping at the hilt of the battered looking sword at her side. “Even so,” she told him, “something feels off about this whole thing. A tavern like this out in the open is the last place we want our faces to be seen. This isn’t exactly the most… reputable part of Errenthal, after all.”
“Let us pray then, Ma’am,” replied Barnaby with a scowl, “that the occupants of this establishment know where we can find our contact. Otherwise, we might attract… less savoury attention.”
“I couldn’t help but overhear,” Della told them, “but you appear to be looking for someone?”
“Do you happen to know an… Adella Dawson?” the officer asked. Her voice was surprisingly calm for a Kingsguard officer; most of the time the Guard preferred shouting at her to making civil conversation. Still, those watchful green eyes seemed fascinated by her weapons, and she felt a creeping chill edging its way up her spine.
“Who wants to know?” Della answered dismissively, rolling her eyes just enough to irritate the officer. She refused to make eye contact with the soldier. Looking into the face of a King’s officer was an easy way to get arrested and hanged, especially if the officer in question recognised her in any significant capacity.
“The Captain asked you a question, girl,” the Dwarf informed her bluntly. “If you want to make this difficult on yourself, you’ll continue being non-compliant. If you have any intention of making this easier on yourself, you’ll answer her. Now.”
“No need to be so forceful, Sergeant-Major,” the woman told her contact. “She’s not going to talk to us if you frighten her out of her mind.”
The Dwarf nodded gruffly. “Apologies, Ma’am,” he muttered nervously, before slinking back to the edge of the lantern’s light. Satisfied, the Captain turned to Della, extending her hand in what appeared to be a cordial handshake. She left it there, lingering, but Della refused to take it. More than likely, she thought to herself, it was an effort to lure her into a false sense of trust and security, an effort to make the Captain appear more trusting before her trap was sprung.
“It’s alright,” she reassured, her voice the same calm tone she had used before. “We’re not here to hurt you. Quite the opposite, in fact. If all goes well, I think you and I can help each other.”
“Who are you?” Della asked suspiciously.
“You know who she is,” Barnaby spoke again. He shot the girl a glare, but she ignored him and said nothing at all. Gina glanced over at him, disapprovingly, and he turned away from Della, silent but still suspicious.
The shorter officer extended her hand. “My name is Captain Gina Erren, formerly a Lieutenant of the Thirty-Fourth Regiment of Foot. Now, Captain of Erren’s Independent Light Company.”
Gina Erren. The daughter of the Hero of Etinar, Della recognised. That meant the men outside were likely her famous irregulars, assigned to the Kingsguard. She began to panic. This was not how this was supposed to end. Slowly, she turned to Callum, gesturing towards the pair of officers. Callum nodded, but he did not move his hands toward his weapons or make any attempt to challenge Erren or her companions.
Why were the Kingsguard here? she asked herself. How had they managed to surround them so easily?
“You are the mutineer, aren’t you?” she asked, not bothering with decorum. “Lord Compton’s sworn to see you arrested and hanged for treason. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll get out of here while you still have the chance.”
Erren didn’t laugh at the remark, but Della managed to catch a slight twitch form at the corner of her mouth. She motioned to the other man, who stepped forward into the light, revealing the face of a senior lieutenant, still clad in the tattered uniform of a light infantryman.
“Lieutenant Myles Price, Erren’s Independent Company,” the man said, extending his hand. Della refused to take it. She moved cautiously, back against the bar, and her left hand lingered near the pair of throwing daggers strapped to her thigh. She stood little chance against the half-dozen armed soldiers that surrounded the tavern, but at least she had a chance of disarming—or severely wounding—Erren and Price if they attempted to surprise her.
Unfortunately for Della, the presence of the Dwarf complicated things considerably. He stood beside Erren, his spontoon gleaming in the dim light, and his eyes watched her with apparent interest. After a moment, he extended his own hand, and Della turned away once more.
“Sergeant-Major Barnaby Stonebeard,” he grunted, his deep voice echoing over the crackling of the fire.
“So, what brings you here?” Della asked after a moment.
“My commanding officer informed me that a group of armed Eyrian rebels passed by this town a short time ago,” Captain Erren replied. “They had prisoners in their possession, along with vital Kingsguard intelligence. My orders were to retrieve the intelligence and liberate the prisoners. To do that, I need to know which way the rebels are going. And, according to Colonel Morland, it appears Miss Adella Dawson knows that information. That is your given name, is it not?”
Della nodded slowly. “What exactly do you want from me?”
“If you know where the rebels are, I want you to lead us to them. If you don’t know, you can tell me now, and my men and I can seek out the intelligence another way.”
“And do you know where the rebels are?”
“Not directly, but I have a contact who might know where they are.” It was technically an honest answer, but still vague enough not to arouse too much unwanted attention.
Gina cocked her head slightly, looking at Della with a mixture of curiosity and suspicion. “A contact? What sort of contact?”
“She’s referring to me,” a gruff voice said from out of the shadows.
Gina turned in the speaker’s direction, and was greeted by the sight of a tall, muscular man clad in what appeared to be the tattered, re-coloured uniform of the Grenadier Guard. One of the man’s eyes was covered in a leather patch, and he bore a scar that ran down the entirety of the left side of his face. He carried a musket slung over his shoulder, the barrel shortened for concealment, and a heavy sword hung at his side, the weapon considerably more worn and battered than her own.
“Who are you?” Gina asked.
“Once I was a soldier of honour, fighting for King and Country. These days, though, it seems that ‘King and Country’ has a less than savoury meaning, especially here in Eyria.”
Gina nodded. “I can understand that sentiment all too well. Do you have a name, stranger?”
“They call me Callum McGregor, formerly a Sergeant of the Seventy-Eighth King’s Grenadiers. Now, I’m no more than a hired gun, a mercenary willing to ply his trade to the one who offers the most coin. It’s not an honourable life, nor even a profitable one. But it’s a life worth living, especially considering the alternative.” He gestured outside, where the shadow of the gallows lingered in the city centre.
“How do you know Miss Dawson?” She gestured towards Della, and the man named Callum shifted the lantern around to bring her face more clearly into the light. Their eyes met for a moment, and Della shifted nervously away, in a futile attempt to avoid her gaze.
“Let’s just say she is in my charge,” Callum answered gravely, shifting around in his seat to face Gina with a grim expression crossing his scarred face.
“Are the two of you close?” Price asked curiously.
Della nodded shyly. “Extremely. But that’s not exactly for you to know, now is it, soldier?”
“What do you mean?”
“Face it, Lieutenant,” the man named Callum answered. “The two of you haven’t exactly earned the right to know who either of us are. After all, you’re King’s men, and we can’t be too careful around soldiers like you. Della and I have had too many unfortunate run-ins with the Crown to trust the Guard too willingly.”
“And why is that?” Gina asked.
“It’s very simple, Lieutenant. Men like you lot could put us both on a charge of desertion or Gods know what else, and we wouldn’t like that, now, would we?” Out of the corner of her eye, Gina watched the man edge his finger under the table, presumably to reach for a concealed weapon hidden away beneath his cloak. The young woman beside him reached over her shoulder, presumably attempting to unsling the crossbow slung behind her.
“Gods!” Price exclaimed. “Listen here, both of you. We don’t want any trouble. We were sent here by a contact of yours. She asked us to seek you out personally.”
“What ‘contact’ are you referring to?” Della asked cautiously. Her hand still lingered over the grip of her crossbow. Gina motioned to Price to let go of the hilt of his own sword, which he had clasped out of habit. After a moment of intense silence, he released his grip, and the two strangers gradually moved their hands away from their weapons.
“Our orders were to inform Adella Dawson and Callum MacGregor that Colonel Talia Morland wished to speak to them personally. She did not inform us why, only that it concerned a patrol of Eyrian rebels that passed by two days ago.”
“Hmm.” Callum considered Gina’s words for a moment. “Colonel Talia Morland. The name sounds somewhat familiar, but I don’t know why.
“Did she order the two of you to bring us to her?” Della asked suspiciously.
“She requested to speak with you,” Gina clarified. “The Colonel gave us no specific orders about bringing you to her personally.”
“What in the name of the Founders would a Kingsguard officer want with us?” Callum asked, more to himself than to Gina and Price. “It’s not exactly like the Guard to negotiate with deserters like us. In our experience, they’re more likely to clap us in irons for a court-martial the moment we show ourselves.”
“His Majesty’s Kingsguard is willing to offer forgiveness for your past desertion in exchange for your cooperation,” Price recited, reading from the message Talia had given them. “You will be offered letters of marque in the Crown’s service and a handsome sum of coin in exchange for your assistance.”
“And what sort of assistance does the good Colonel want from us?” Della asked uneasily. She had let go of the grip of her crossbow, but her eyes still lingered suspiciously upon Gina as she asked her question. “What good would an ex-Grenadier and his alchemist friend be in the service of the Kingsguard?”
“Let’s just say,” Gina answered, “that the two of you possess certain skills that Lady Morland deems necessary for the success of her mission in Etienne.”
Della frowned. “Etienne? Why in the Gods’ name would anyone want to go back to that forsaken place in the first place? Aren’t they in open rebellion against the Crown or something?”
“A group of rebels captured a high-ranking Kingsguard officer, along with the Colonel’s sister,” Price explained. “Lady Morland wants assistance retrieving both of them, along with the sensitive intelligence currently in the officers’ possession. We believe these rebels may in fact be bound for Etienne”
“And what’s in it for us?” asked Callum. “The King and his men have been less than kind to us in the past, so what makes you think they’ll keep to their word now?”
Gina reached into her satchel and produced the two sheets of signed and sealed parchment that Talia Morland had given her. She handed the first to Callum, who took it somewhat willingly. Della, on the other hand, seemed more hesitant. Her hand lingered over the sheet for a moment, reading the words carefully before speaking again.
“What is this?” she asked after a moment.
“The letters of marque, as promised,” answered Gina. “His Majesty will let you go free, without any mention of your past, and you can continue your adventuring or bounty-hunting or whatever it is you do without any interference from the Crown. All Colonel Morland is asking for is your cooperation. If you help us, she’ll make sure your names are cleared.”
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I think I probably make too many requests for Soft Fridays so please don't feel like you have to fulfill this one, but if you're interested I'd love to read about either 4 (lake house) or 29 (petrichor) for Cassian or Bodi. Those two don't seem like they had much softness in their short lives.
a bodhi rook imagine (gn)
prompt #29 -- petrichor
from this prompt list here
There's a certain sort of chill present in the Eadu air; after the rain, you like to call it; leaning into it at every rare moment you've come to experience it, where the days sometimes slowly drag, and the appearance of the sun, sets into dusk.
It was just as much a part of you as he was; the whispered sound, its span of natural breath; a gentle voice beneath the shell of your ear, when you had just fallen peacefully into sleep.
Your nights, soothed effortlessly into slumber, and made even better with Bodhi laying so lovingly there by your side.
The late afternoon, so often, had been no different.
"It's letting up now, it's calm when it's like this."
"Do you like it?"
"I do, very much."
You watch him fondly as he so handsomely stares out the single pane of glass that is your window; a view shared by both you and him, on such weary days when your thoughts had no place else to go.
He opens the window for a moment, only after the glimmer of Spring rain has gone; committing the fresh scent to his memory, where it sentimentally drips and falls.
The dew upon all the leaves outside fan themselves dry by way of all their almond shapes; your breeze there, such a wondrous reminder of hope, and the possibility of love in a place where such things were so often unheard of.
You had wished more than ever, for such lost people to believe in these simple pleasures, and tender forms of gratitude.
"Once I deliver this message to Saw Gerrera, all will make sense. There's more for us out there; I'm sure of it."
Caressing the sharp line of his face, your fingertips catch onto the smoothest parts of his skin; memorizing all of him by way only of your touch, before placing a wayward strand of dark hair safely behind his ear, as you do.
"How do you know?"
He allows himself a minute there to exhale; the very warmth of his affectionately laced air, falling with the subtle rise of his chest; a familiar intensity present there in his voice, with every word he speaks.
"A feeling, love. A feeling."
You can't help it when the wind slowly begins to pick up; listening for the softest sounds of mist lingering in its heartfelt promise to meet you; soon to ghost its fleeting sort of pattern, there upon the silhouette of your face.
"I love you."
There's certainly nothing like it; so beautiful and similar to the way the flat of his palms lightly graze your skin; unapologetically perfect in the gentle way he deeply parts the seam of your lips, with his.
Both patient and slow, he had always seemed to know what you had cherished, most.
"Come sit with me, baby."
And you do; curling up in the comfort of your room there together, resting soundly in the strength of his embrace where the tranquil touch of rain still kindly lingers.
a/n -- thanks so much for sending a request @cannedsoupsucks ! 💫 you are never a bother & can always send me anything you like, anytime my friend. also love bodhi, he is one of my favorites & was so happy to write this story for you. hope you enjoyed this one ! 💗 let me know what you think xo
✨ a comment or reblog is greatly appreciated ! 💙
✨ please join my new taglist here, an option to be removed is now available
taglist -- (wasn't sure who to tag for this one ! sorry if this isn't really your thing) @stardust-galaxies @salome-c @jedi-mando @msgrape @pradahux @recklessworry @blackirisposts @laserbrains @cosmicsierra @arianalilyblack
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