"Quickly, Alistair. They're raising the gate already."
Draiken glanced anxiously out the window at the parade of troops arriving through Lanchester's stone gates as his squire, Alistair, fumbled clumsily with the brooch on his cape. The material, blackened silk with a silvery green outline, draped hideously across Draiken's left arm. In the courtyard below, his father led a small host of men through gates in a large ornate wagon. He studied them as they slowed to a stop. Lord Hawke's attendants aided Lady Hollister off her horse as Dorian, eager to be off his, jogged through the regiment towards the blacksmith's quarters. In his grip he held a longsword -- a rapier by the looks of it.
"Looks like our golden prince brought home a new toy." Draiken observed, grinning to himself.
The squire, meanwhile, had given up. "The damned things stuck..." Alistair grunted, dropping the hem of the cloak to the floor. Draiken waved him away and attended to it himself.
"Grab my sword and crown from the bed," he commanded. "We'll try and catch them in the commons." The procession had moved from the courtyard towards the town commons now. Draiken assumed his father would want to tour the city on his way back to the castle. They had been gone two weeks paying a visit to Lady Hollister's father in Kensington. He took half the damn military with him as well. The Hawkes were still at war. An unsigned peace treaty meant very little, regardless of what promises had been made. Draiken had stayed behind to watch over Lanchester in their absence, but he was certainly relieved to have them home safe.The two shuffled down the spiraled steps of the eastern tower, Draiken fidgeting with his brooch, Alistair trailing close behind. When they reached the bottom of the steps, the party had already been received. Various people helped unpack horses and behind the march towards the stables while others mixed with citizens and other royals. Lord Elias Hawke was not hard to find, but as Draiken approached he did not recognize the man in front of him. It was not as he remembered his father. One of his aides helped the Lord remove his helm, and the seriousness of his condition was plain for all to see. His eyes were sunken and dark. His skin a pale, moist cover to a very sick man. Ser Avery and Ser Holland supported him from either side taking an arm each and began leading him towards the Commander's tower. Draiken pushed his way through the crowd of people and slid in beside his father. Ser Avery fell in beside the both of them as Draiken took his spot under his father's arm. He glanced back at the knight. "What has happened to him?"
The man in chain shook his head solemnly. "We're not sure, my Lord. He took ill over the last pass. Could be from the chill... but..." The knight paused to help hold open the door to the tower. Draiken and Ser Holland dragged Lord Hawke to the nearest chair and thrust him into it. Draiken rounded on Ser Avery.
"Speak." Draiken's patience was at its limit.
Ser Avery had trouble finding the words. He spoke softly. "It all strikes me as queer, m'lord. His Grace was fine when we left Kensington. It had to have happened on the road. But he hasn't spoken since we crossed the Kyranese River. He's got a deep fever..." Attendants arrived from all sides with a basin of water, a steamed towel, and an elixir of sagebristle for the fever. Draiken stepped back to make room for them. Alistair took his place, helping Elias out of his cloak. One of the aides approached Draiken and began leading him from the scene.
“You must go find Lady Hollister and inform her of his condition. Master Dorian as well. He cannot ride to the festival tomorrow like this. And the hunt in the morning... it wouldn't be wise.” She turned back to Elias as some of the attendants began tending to him. The woman was right though. Where were Lady Hollister and Dorian at a time like this? Didn't they care that his father was dying? He doubted it, but it still seemed odd that they were so quick to leave him upon arriving. The thought troubled Draiken a bit too much and he began to walk back towards the Commons.
“M'lord?” Ser Avery muttered in confusion. Draiken rounded on him fiercely pointing a finger square in his face.
“Stop calling me 'Lord',” he glanced towards his father, now being carried up the stairs by four attendants. “He isn't dead yet.” Draiken pivoted on his foot and left the speechless knight behind. “Make certain he isn't when I get back.” Alistair followed him close behind and the two disappeared into the city. It had begun to rain now – the beginning showers of what was promised to be a long and rough winter. Draiken drew the hood of his cloak over his head and made his way into the street. Dusk was approaching and the armory already had lights in its windows. He recalled seeing Dorian rush into it when they dismounted and thought he would pay him a visit first. Citizens of Lanchester rushed on all sides of the street to pack up their horses and wares before they became soaked. Torches were being lit along the walls of the gates, and a church bell began to toll above the cathedral as the streets cleared. By the ninth ring, Draiken was at the blacksmith's door. He gave it a soft rap with his knuckles and cupped his hands to breathe warmth into them. The rain was stronger now, the gentle din of water on cobblestone echoing from wall to wall. The door was pulled open in front of him, revealing the face of the resident blacksmith, Ser Duncan Lambert.
“Aye. 'Bout time you showed up.” Duncan turned his back on Draiken and lumbered across the room towards one of the workbenches. Dorian and two of his friends lounged in the corner near a few of the other workers, regailing them with tales from the journey to Kensington. His focus was on them when the metal hilt of a sword was thrust into his hands. “Your father had me see into hardening the hilt a bit more, but it'll do. We also have a new breast plate for you to try on.” Draiken sighed to himself as he remembered what Duncan was talking about. Lord Hawke had made plans for himself, Dorian, and Draiken to go hunting the day after their return from Kensington. He had requisitioned new gear for the trip. That had all slipped Draiken's mind the second he saw his father, however.
“Duncan, Elias is ill. He's in the Lord Commander's tower now, but he... doesn't look good.” Draiken turned the sword around and extended it to the blacksmith. “This looks wonderful, but I doubt we'll be going on the trip after all.” Duncan snorted a harsh laugh and took the sword back begrudgingly.
“Whatever you say, Lord Prince. Lot of work for nothing, if you ask me.” The blacksmith tossed the blade back on the bench and made his way out of the room past Dorian and his fellows. By now they had noticed him. Dorian's eyes locked onto him as he pushed his way past his comrades.
“Aren't you going to welcome me home?” Dorian asked, smugly.
Draiken was drawn over to the workbench. “This isn't your home.” As he took the blade into his hands, he was immediately impressed by how beautifully it was weighted. The entire length of the blade was unmarked, save for the small Hawke insignia near the top of the hilt. It had to be a few inches longer than his other blade, but much finer craftwork. He remembered the nuisance of a step-brother behind him and turned to face Dorian. “Or do you hope to become Lord when my father dies?” The mention of Lord Hawke barely phased the golden haired man. A boy more like. At least in character. Dorian let out a calculated laugh of genuine amusement.
“Your father is fine. Only exhausted from the trip. I'm sure you wouldn't understand, having guarded the pillows and featherbeds here in Lanchester.” He laughed again, this time at his own joke.
“My duty was here. Did you happen to find yours out there on the road?” The quip was too much for Dorian. His cheeks flashed red and his hand jumped to the hilt of his sword.
“I'd watch that tongue before my blade finds it, Pretty Bird.” Draiken hadn't grown accustom to that nickname yet. A new one forged by Dorian and his half-wit entourage. In a week it would be something just as bad. Draiken couldn't help but crack a smile at that. Dorian's temper flared further as the sword began coming out of its hilt. His entourage collected around him as they began to take interest in this all too familiar feud unfolding in the armory.
“Careful there,” Draiken warned, his hand held in front of him. “You threaten to draw a sword against me in my own castle. Draw that blade and I promise it'll be the last thing you ever touch.” A few of Dorian's mates found that one funny. They all looked to him to see what kind of reaction was in store, but Dorian held his ground. It wasn't fear that held his tongue, it was something else. That made Draiken nervous. His step-brother was always quick to make a fool of himself, but something was off. Dorian slowly rested his blade back in his sheath.
“To hell with this," Dorain said submittingly. "We don't need two Hawkes dying today.” His entourage was pleased with his back-handed rebuttal and guffawed all the way out of the room, led by their own boy Prince, Dorian of Kensington. Draiken saw them off with unease. With the likes of them in the castle, he never truly felt at home. These were not the people Draiken hoped to lead one day. They were cowards, manipulators, and fools. Dorian rarely made a good point about anything.
But in that moment he was right. Tonight... a Hawke would fly from Lanchester.