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Dragon Age: Absolution is an alternate universe RPG based on BioWare's video game and novel series. DA: Absolution is rated 18+ for mature content, and played in a highly literate third-person perspective. All DA concepts and pictures belong to Bioware and their respective artists.

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10.5 - Absolution is open, active and welcomes you! What has changed in the past few months? A civil war has started in Ferelden! Seekers have arrived in Kirkwall, and tensions are higher than ever. And pirates? Come, join the fun!
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 A Question Of Loyalty, Closed - Hereward
Elissa Cousland
 Posted: Oct 26 2014, 04:50 PM
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The calm before the storm, the quiet before the war, was broken. Smashed. With the parlance ended, all dreams of peace had gone with it. War had now broken, the second in so many years. The queen sighed heavily as she reentered her command tent, why did this bother her so? She had marched south with forty thousand men at arms, this had always been a possibility. Indeed it had been a probability, and before leaving the capital, she had be strident in her desire to stamp out this rebellion before it could begin. Why was she second guessing herself now?

Elissa gripped the war table as if stabilising herself as the ground distinctly shook as explosions bombarded the ancient fortress of Ostagar. The Starkhaven apostates were doing their job. Well, if that racket was anything to go by. Were they not yet more proof that the had expected this all along, deep down at least. Elissa Cousland had desired peace - but Anora had not. Anora Mac Tir had chosen violence, destruction and death, and now violence, destruction and death would chose her. Elissa would stamp out this Mac Tir revolt, suppress any dissent to her and Alistair's rule with an iron fist that matched her will and determination.

"Ah, Lord Hereward" Elissa said, looking up from the war table at her younger cousin. After few seconds, studying the mapped table, the Queen took her hands from the oak table, and tilted her head to her guardsmen, "leave us, please."

The men did as they were bid as the Queen passed across the tent and perched on the edge of her chair. In the presence of Hereward her emotions had become mixed. Although her fury had softened, the queen had not been happy at his attitude as they parlayed with the dowager queen. Suggesting her to be a warmonger was bad enough, but openly showing balance between the two factions. His place was not a neutral arbiter - it was as her cousin and vassel. A loyal servant of the Cousland Crown. In showing such unmeasured partiality, he had called into question his own loyalty. He and Anora had been friends and children, she was not about to forget that. Honestly the Queen wasn't willing to believe that he'd betray her, but if he was called upon to strike at Anora personally, could he now be relied upon to do it? Especially knowing what Anora had asked of him?

"Would you care to explain the fuck you were playing at?" Elissa said furiously, now confident that her men were out of earshot. Her calm demeanor had vanished, and her tone was of a fury to match the scowl that sat upon her face. "How dare you second guess me like that."

Elissa took a brief pause as if stopping to let Hereward answer her, but continued her flow of anger before he could speak, "How dare you second guess your Queen like that. Before peers and enemies" she took another moment's pause to pour from a flask, deliberately ignoring the second cup she had placed before her. "Did you not consider the terms I offered that dirty traitor fair? Perhaps you could explain what terms you might have offered? Fuck it Hereward, who on the Maker's earth appointed you arbiter? What on the Makers earth possessed you to speak out against me like that?"

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Hereward
 Posted: Nov 21 2014, 12:57 PM
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Child of Wolves
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Squelching through the churned mud with his wolf head hood pulled low the young noble sighed to himself as he tried to process his current situation, truth be told he felt little different to a child lost in the woods. Live by your heart, such unshakable faith had always existed behind those words, words that now seemed hollow and insignificant. However for now duty called thus the little wolf would have to bare his fangs a little longer. His cousin had called on him to meet in her tent and he could guess why. It wouldn't be the first time his mouth had gotten him in trouble.

Stepping into the tent, his back now straightened, hood down from his face Hereward couldn't lie, he felt reminded of the times when as a child he would be sent to his father for some misdemeanour or other. Maker knows the woman across from him was no less frightening now than the Arl if Gherlen's Pass had been in his youth. Now however he stood tall, ready to accept whatever consequences came of his earlier words. He remained silent as he waited, noting that he had not been announced- not that it was a surprise, at least Elissa seemed calm... Until she sent her guards out and Hereward realised just what it felt like to have his cousin's fury directed at him. It almost made him feel sorry for the archdemon. At his Queen's words however he cocked his head slightly. That was one way of putting the question. There was just enough time for a slight sigh to escape his lips before the woman before him tore another chunk out of him before rather deliberately stopping to pour herself a drink and ignoring the second cup that had been placed, a message in and of itself. As the queen finally finished a slight scowl crossed his face for a moment. "So, you expect me to simply stand there and nod like some sort of snivelling psychophant? You know me better than that Elissa. Perhaps my words would have been better in private rather than in the field as they were but something needed to be said, good men, who we both have stood shoulder to shoulder with in the past, are being dragged into and expected to shed blood for a dispute that is better off in the Landsmeet than on the field of battle. And although I did not intend any offence with my words I'm damned pissed at your reaction, rather than listening to an advisor who had always believed that he had your trust as would be expected from a monarch, you call me in here and only express fury. At least I know where I stand now." He retorted, a faint snarl in his voice as he finished.

Slowly taking a breath he picked up the empty cup and examined it for a moment before starting again, his voice much softer this time. "As for the terms you offered Anora... There is no debate that they were fair... Though you know as well as I do that she would never accept them. I doubt you would either. I certainly wouldn't. As for the terms I would offer... I can't really answer that, I'm just a soldier. Perhaps a political marriage... Perhaps this war really is the only way." He tailed off as his eyes stared sadly into the bottom of the cup before casting it aside, a defiant fire in his eyes. "You are my queen, and I will shed blood at your command. At the same time, more importantly, you are my cousin and I trust you completely." His expression softened once more. "So why don't you do the same?"


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Elissa Cousland
 Posted: Dec 4 2014, 05:59 PM
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Queen of Ferelden
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Elissa did not know what response she had desired from Hereward, only that the defensive outburst did nothing to calm her frustration. Despite losing her temper she had been very measured with her dressing down, while deep down her anger desired for her to forcefully berate him. Compelling him to a very real submission to her authority. Fortunately sense and reason won out, as they usually did. But did these desires speak anything of what she had completely desired? An apology, perhaps, however grovelingly. It was frustrating that he did not even accept that he had done wrong.

"Then, then I have placed far to greater faith in you" Elissa spoke grimly, anger had subsided for regret and disappointment. She cut her cousin a disappointed glower before she turned and took her seat behind the laurel draped table that was her makeshift desk. "I did expect you to stand there and nod along as I spoke. You can call it sycophancy, I'll call it public loyalty. Your battered pride, fearful of denigration, is not frankly something that concerns me Hereward."

This was what has been so gut wrenching for Elissa. So dejecting. Such was the principle that whatever reservations a man might express in private, he would back his leader to the hilt in public. This was the crux of what loyalty meant to the queen.

"That you are 'pissed' by my reaction shows that you have learnt nothing" Elissa said irritably, her words were steadily growing courser, such that were capable of grating on the ears of any supplicant fearful of her displeasure. "Stand up straight, and do NOT use profanities in the presence of your queen again.

"If I desire your advice I will ask for it. I can not fathom how you considered that I craved such wisdom as we parleyed with the enemy." she added furiously, "but since you have given it less us assess its value, shall we"

"First. Settling this dispute in the Landsmeet. The place where it began" Elissa was now speaking calmly, she took a sip from her goblet as she raised her index finger as if to count. "this dispute was settled a year ago, but Anora disapproved of the result. Should we return this to the Landsmeet until she is content with the outcome? t was determined by the Landsmeet that her return to Ferelden would mark her as a traitor. She has gathered here at Ostagar with a hostile force intent on deposing Ferelden's legitimate monarchs. Perhaps you might enlighten me as to how you would deal with this threat? Wait, do nothing and allow her to carve up the southern part of our nation?"

"Two. My terms. Far more generous than a rebel and a traitor can expect." Elissa said carefully, she lifted a handkerchief to her mouth as she coughed in effort to clear her throat of the flem wrought by shouting. "I do not know Anora's mind, and you do not know mine. An hour ago she had nothing but this ruin of a castle and her liberty, Maker be good in the next few hours she'll lose them both. Had she accepted she could have been been a Teyrna. Your assumption that these terms are unacceptable presupposes I have something greater to offer. My crown, perhaps. That is what she desires after all. It is enlightening to know what in her position that you would have rejected this offer for peace, in favour of bloodshed only previously decried?"

"Three. A political marriage. With whom, and for what reason? I can not think of any candidates to offer, nor any that Anora would accept." Elissa said, "plenty of advice, Hereward, precious few solutions. I can not deny it is heartening to hear this declaration of devoted trust, it is only a pity that you did not trust me in my words as we parleyed with the enemy. I trust you with my life Lord Hereward. I do not trust you with Anora's."

She left the sentence hanging a moment, giving her younger cousin a moment to consider those words without replying before she continued. Elissa rose from her velvet lined oak chair, and focused her marble eyes met his, "you shall repeat. 'Anora Mac Tir is a dirty traitorous bitch, and I will severe her head if my queen demands it.'"

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Hereward
 Posted: Dec 8 2014, 01:36 PM
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Child of Wolves
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Hearing the disappointment in Elissa's voice Hereward couldn't help but feel a pang of shame and regret. Anger, anger he could deal with, screaming and shouting were simple. Disappointment cut far deeper and he couldn't help but allow his shoulders to sag slightly and his head to droop. Maybe she was right. Maybe it had been foolish pride that led him to speak out as he did. But then, when else would he have been able to lay those words down to both sides? It had been a move of desperation, a final foolish hope that his own words could stop the war before it began. Perhaps in truth he was still the child that he always was. As his cousin's irritation made itself clear in her voice once more however he snapped back to attention out of habit, especially when she told him to stand straight, although he couldn't help wincing as she set about deconstructing everything that he had just said. The worst part was that all of it, without exception was not without truth, perhaps there were arguments that could be made back but they were fairly moot at this point. That was why she was queen and he was a mere captain he supposed, though there was a flicker of a smile and a slight cock of the head, a slight self-deprecating gesture to it as she put down the suggestion of political marriage. He had someone in mind but then, maybe that too was nothing but the foolish fantasy of youth. Time to grow up boy.

As the queen responded to the question of trust a look if shame and guilt appeared on the young man's face. Her words had shown him a hypocrisy that lurked behind his own, after all, if he trusted her so implicitly maybe he wouldn't have spoken out as he did, he also completely understood why she didn't trust him to face Anora with all his heart, Maker knows he wondered himself if he could. He couldn't afford to think like that, he needed to focus, he was an aspect of his queen's strong right arm and could not afford weakness. Upon being upon being asked to repeat the harsh words that his beloved cousin then spoke however he found himself swallowing and licking his lips as his throat grew dry, his eyes widening like a rabbit in a trap. "A-Anora Mac Tir is... Is a..." He stumbled as the memories flooded back from his childhood, his mouth awkwardly trying to form the words. He couldn't do it. Feeling the tears starting to form in his eyes he dropped his gaze and pinched the bridge of his nose briefly. "Pull yourself together...." He muttered, irritated by his own reaction. Taking a single deep breath he flicked his head back up, his hand sweeping back through his hair as he did so, a fresh fire in his eyes. "Anora Mac Tir is an enemy of my queen, and if my queen demands it then I shall deliver her head. No matter my feelings on the matter."



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Elissa Cousland
 Posted: Jan 2 2015, 05:59 PM
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Queen of Ferelden
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The queen could not help but grimace as her cousin seem to stumble over the words she had demanded he speak. Unfair perhaps? Not exactly. It was not that Elissa felt guilty at forcing him to espouse his loyalty in a way he might consider sycophantic, rather words that might come across as tyrannical. Bloodyminded. Merciless. Or even worse, like a spoilt child wanting all her own way.

Beyond a grimace that was nothing more than a subtle shake, she maintained her calm collect exterior. Wiping her concern clean as she accepted that despite her concerns neither were really true, instead - perhaps - a sign of self doubt from the Maker that was keeping her grounded where so many would float, heads fully immersed in the clouds.

"Sit down, Hereward" Elissa said with a smile, "you needn't worry yourself. Your queen shall not demand it."

After a moment's hesitation, she reached out for the jug containing the Antivan red and poured generously into the beaker she pushed toward her cousin. "Anora Mac Tir is a traitor, and I fully intend for her to face justice like a traitor. Pending her capture, she will be taken to Denerim were she can stand trial for sedition.

"The Landsmeet will decide her fate" Elissa continued, taking a delicate sip from her own beaker. "As brother-in-law, Alistair will recuse himself from judgement, and I shall pass a sentence."

Elissa was quite confident that in such a scenario a jury comprising of Landsmeet members would do the Makers work and find Anora guilty. There would be no need of perjured evidence, lies or deceit. The facts would bear out the sentence, and the Landsmeet would come to the correct conclusion. She had that much faith in Ferelden justice, at least. Anora would have ample opportunity to challenge the prosecution's case, but excepting the remarkable, she would be found guilty as charged and Queen Elissa would sentence her to execution.

"Her supporters will face the same justice, although I am not placing the same value on their capture alive" Elissa said honestly, looking her cousin up and down for any subtle reaction indicating his private opinions, before finally giving voice to her concern "you are not one of them, nor have you ever been. I gather, however, that Anora was not content at this?"

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