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Steady as We Go, chapter 8

Title: Steady as We Go, chapter 8
Rating: PG
Summary: Rendon Howe receives a message and acts accordingly.
Note: And here's where I stopped writing after hitting my 50K goal for NaNo. From here on out, updates to this story might be a long time coming, especially since I've been hit with a block for what comes next.


Teyrn Loghain was having a harder time convincing nobles to join him than he originally planned, Rendon realized as he stood in the shadows of the Landsmeet chamber. It is all that damned Cousland’s fault, he seethed, clenching his hands into fists. Even in death, Bryce Cousland had supporters who were unwilling to believe the rumors that he and Loghain were spreading about him. Bann Teagan was the worst of the lot; it seemed as if his voice was the loudest in the room and where Teagan went, many of the nobles soon followed. If Loghain didn’t do something about him soon, Rendon figured that he would have a revolt on his hands to deal with.

Part of him wanted to say that it didn’t matter; that he had gotten what he had wanted, no, what he deserved. He was Teyrn of Highever now, someone who finally had all the power that the Howes had been denied for generations. All his life, he had fought to be free of Bryce Cousland’s shadow to no avail. It seemed that no matter what he did, Bryce was always the better one, the one that people looked up to and admired. Did he not run his own lands as well as the Couslands? Did he not have a fine child to inherit his titles upon his death as Bryce once had?

A small part of him regretted that at least one of the Cousland siblings had also perished in the battle of Ostagar. He had never cared much for Fergus; the boy had been his father all over again and would have ruled very much like Bryce had he ever gained control of Highever. Moira, however, could have been put to good use. It was a shame that she hadn’t been able to leave for Ostagar with her brother. He had planned for her to, had counted on Bryce allowing her to become a Warden. Bryce had always been too lenient with his children, Moira in particular. He bowed to her every whim and catered to her every need. As a result, the girl had grown up with thoughts in her head that she was as equal to any man and that her opinion actually counted. Hell, Bryce had even trained her in politics as if she had been a second son should anything ever happen to Fergus. He had even gone so far as to put her in charge of the teyrnir instead of designating his seneschal as a temporary Teyrn. Had she been his daughter, Rendon would have never allowed her to even look at a sword, much less train with one. Moira had been a spoiled little brat, but she had been a useful spoiled little brat. Had she been sent away, she wouldn’t have witnessed the attack that he had laid onto Castle Cousland and he could have used the grieving sole survivor as a tool, as a way to gain even more power.

He thought of Thomas, the bastard son of Regina and that damned musician. He had always loathed the boy for what he represented, but he had claimed him as his own in hopes that he would one day prove useful. Had things worked out the way that he had previously mapped out, it wouldn’t have taken him long to convince Thomas to marry Moira, therefore cementing the Howe family’s future. After the King, the Couslands were one of the most politically influential families; having ties to them through marriage would have been most beneficial indeed. He gave a brief thought to his own son and Moira’s feelings towards Nathaniel. Rendon knew that she was smitten with his son, but he had serious doubts that her feelings ran any deeper than a superficial infatuation. He also knew that his son was fond of her in return. Rendon’s lip curled upward in distaste. Nathaniel had even gone so far as to say that he had loved the girl.

Bah. What use was love? Love does not grant one powers, nor does it give one status. Love only makes one weak and vulnerable. It had made him blind to the dangers around him so that when it betrayed him, he had been caught unaware. I loved Regina once, he thought. It was the first time in years that he had thought of his wife, the woman who would have rather spent her life following a wandering musician around penniless. She was gone into the Bannorn now, back to her parents’ estate and he couldn’t have been gladder to be rid of the bitch. He had punished her infidelity by forcing her to watch as he carved up her lover – oh, and how marvelous that had been. See? Love makes you weak. She had sobbed at his feet before he had even begun in earnest, begging him to be merciful.

Power was not merciful. You either had it or you were under another’s rule. Rendon Howe had enough of being under someone’s thumb.

He still had two years before Nathaniel was scheduled to come back to Ferelden from the Free Marches. It would have been a simple task to forge documents, to convince Moira and Thomas that Nathaniel had died in battle abroad. With him out of the picture, Moira would have gone to Thomas’ arms all the easier. By the time that Nathaniel had returned home, it would have been too late to change things.

Yet all of that was a moot point, seeing that Moira had not survived. Thomas was not an important part of any of his plans any longer, so it was easy to ignore him just as he had ignored the boy for the past eighteen years. And now with Cailan dead and Loghain behind the plan, Nathaniel’s path to Anora and the Crown was all but paved with gold. His son deserved no less than ultimate greatness. His son would see the Howe name held in high esteem. Getting Nathaniel set up as King was the only reason that he still supported Loghain in anything these days. The man was too soft for his own good, brooding about his decision to leave Cailan in Ostagar to die. If Rendon was reading him correctly, it was almost as if he had actually cared for the king, that he had felt as if he were betraying Cailan instead of leaving him to his fate. At least he wasn’t brooding about turning a blind eye to the Couslands and Highever. It had been easy enough to sway Loghain to believe him when he said that Bryce had been selling secrets to their enemies in the west; Loghain would believe anything if it involved Orlais in any way and Rendon had known it.

He watched the Teyrn as he stormed off. Should he lose his usefulness, Rendon just might leave him to the mess that he was creating. He stroked his chin and smirked. Chancellor Howe, he mused. That has a nice ring to it indeed. He would have further plotted his own promotions, had his attention not been diverted.

“What is it?” he asked, glaring at the elven servant.

“There is a man requesting to speak to you, your Lordship,” the woman said, bowing low. “He is a soldier from Ostagar bearing news for you.”

Rendon paid the elf no mind and strode out of the chamber’s back doors to where the Teyrn had a meeting room set up. There, he saw a soldier looking bloodied and exhausted waiting for him. “What is it you have to say?” he asked. “Be quick about it; I have little patience for those that waste my time.”

“I come bearing a message out of Lothering,” the dark haired man said, standing up straighter. “A woman wanted us to tell the Teyrn that…”

Rendon waved a dismissive hand. “The Teyrn is busy elsewhere. Tell me and I shall personally inform him.”

The soldier swallowed and wet his lips. “A woman that we met in Lothering, a Grey Warden…”

“Wardens? I thought they all died in Ostagar.” At least Loghain was smart enough to start the rumor that they had been the ones to kill Cailan should any happen to escape that death trap, he thought. He might be soft when it comes to following through with plans, but at least he still has a head for strategy. “What did this Warden say?”

“She said that if the Teyrn wishes to rid himself of her and her companion that he’d have to try harder, my lord. She said that she knows what he did and that they will see him brought to justice.”

“Hah, hardly likely,” Rendon said, crossing his arms. So, they had two Wardens wanting to take on an entire army, did they? They would be destroyed before they even stepped foot inside Denerim.

“She also had a message for you, my lord.”

He quirked an eyebrow. “Oh? And what would this message be?”

“House Cousland shall see you dead for what you have done.”

Rendon could practically feel the color drain from his face. He slowly turned to face the soldier. “What did you say?”

“She said that your days are numbered.”

He tilted his head. “What did this woman look like? Leave out no detail; everything is important.”

“She was tall, with dark brown hair and green, no, brown eyes.”

Those damned Cousland eyes. So it seems as if the brat still lives. This might cause a minor snag in my plans. “And there were only two of them?”

“No, they were traveling with another woman who looked to be Chasind. She must have been an apostate; her magic was wild, like nothing that I have ever seen.”

“Forget about the mage; who was the other Warden she was with?”

“It was a man. He had light hair and…” he frowned. “And for a second, I could have sworn that he looked exactly like King Cailan.”

The Cousland girl and Maric’s bastard son. Interesting. “Have you reported to anyone else what you have just told me?”

The soldier shook his head. “No, no one.”

“Good.” Rendon drew a dagger and sliced the soldier’s throat before the soldier even had a chance to register that he was in danger. Gurgling, drowning in his own blood, the man went down to the ground with a heavy thud. “That’s going to stain,” Rendon said, calling in one of his own guards. “This man was a spy,” he declared. “I want his body out of my sight and this mess cleaned up.”

“Right away, my lord!”

Alone, Rendon pondered the news he had just received. Moira was too much her father’s daughter; when she said that she would see him dead, Rendon knew that she would try her damndest to kill him. “It doesn’t mean that she will succeed,” he said aloud, staring out of the window and down on the city below. Denerim might be the kingdom’s seat of power, but like any city, it had its share of scum that would do his bidding if the price was right. “I can’t leave anything to chance. Moira wants us to try harder; let’s see how she fares against this.” Bryce was not the only one that had ties to Antiva. Rendon had been employing lesser Antivan Crow assassins for years to rid him of unwelcome political bumps that had plagued him in his own arling. Yet the lesser assassins would not do. As he said, he needed someone special to kill off Moira, someone that he could trust to get the job done right and get it done quickly. Walking out of the meeting room, he made his way down to his own personal rooms in the palace. Once there, he quickly sat at his desk and began to write. Denerim was closer to Antiva than Amaranthine was. He had a ship in the harbor that was swift; it could make it there and back quickly.

Ignacio, I need your aid in a special mission. I require only one feather out of your flock; but this one must be the finest, the brightest one in your possession. Only the best will do – I will accept nothing less.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 8th, 2010 05:11 pm (UTC)
love it! I just finished playing Origins again last night... love that part when she kicks the crap out of the soldiers in Lothering and sends the message back lol

Can't wait for the next chapter, even if it's awhile from now... something to look forward to :D
Dec. 8th, 2010 11:59 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm blaming Ser Gilmore for the writer's block on this story. Gilmore/Cousland has completely taken over my brain and Rory is taking advantage of the "oooh, new pairing!" rush. He's sneaky that way.
Dec. 8th, 2010 06:55 pm (UTC)
I almost retched where he remembered what he did to Regina's lover. And made her watch. Ewwww. Great chapter, incredible job, of course. :)
Dec. 9th, 2010 12:01 am (UTC)
Thank you. Rendon kind of took over the story for this chapter; I had meant to write something completely different, but this came out instead. I've never paid much attention to him, but here's one of those examples where he shows that he's not a Good Person at all.

I might not like him that much, but I loved the fact that he bolstered up my wordcount like he did. :D
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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