Character Story: Gabriella’s Fall
Gabriella de la Rodriguez Alejandra Santa Lucia, you are hereby relieved of duty and dishonorably discharged from the Barakhan Army.
The morning was cold. It’s always cold. Something Gabriella knew but rarely experienced. She had not slept well since the hearing, and had taken to wandering the city.
You are charged with gross negligence, gross incompetence, and failure to repair. The results of your actions have cost the lives of 8 Barakhan soldiers under your command.
With a start she awoke to fresh dew. She had apparently dozed off. How swiftly her discipline had faltered. Yet another indication of her failure.
Gareth Brand. Ryal Cross. Willem Frost. Davis Mason.
She stopped paying for rooms, since she spent so little time in them. The streets weren’t that bad at night, despite what some may think. In the gardens or along the parkways, there were always trees to rest beneath. The city, the one she had dreamt about as a child; the one she has sworn to defend; the one she now walked as a ghost. The city somehow still welcomed her, still provided for her. Who was she to deserve it?
Francis Potter. Cordon Stone. Richard Stone. Samuel White.
She did not.
All possessions of the army are now to be reclaimed. You will doff your armor, remove your shield, and place them on the floor beside you. All possessions which belong to you have been gathered, and are now presented to you.
A sack, with several sets of clothing. A few books. Her Uncle’s sword. These items were handed to her by a court clerk. She took them, and in stunned silence, stared at the floor in front of her.
This dismissal is now complete. As of this moment, you are forbidden interaction with any members of House Barakhan, until you return to Mnemar and make amends for your actions.
She couldn’t move. She could barely breathe. The Field Marshall closed the book, and placed it on the table before him. The Imperial Magister, with the slightest smirk on his face, was the first to leave. After what seemed like ages, one of Field Marshall Barakhan Randall’s captains escorted Gabriella to the exit.
This was the fourth time she walked into the temple. This time she was determined to at least try. She spotted a secluded space, and knelt at a pew. After a few moments, she rose. This is pointless, she thought, and began to walk out. She paused, then slowly returned to the pew. Again she knelt, and as she had done so many times since Rattimas, whispered quietly the names of her men. Gareth, Ryal, Willem, Davis, Francis. She stopped, took a deep breath, and continued. Cordon, Richard, Samuel. Silence. She stared at her hands, clasped before her.
“I’ve never done this before. I’ve seen my men pray to gods. I’ve seen the citizens and refugees with their shrines and books. I’ve never been convinced it was worth my time. I guess, now that I have nothing left, it doesn’t seem such a waste.”
She smiled, and laughed quietly. “This is pointless.”
She rose, and as she did, a voice from behind her spoke.
“Where I walk, so must you.”
Gabriella turned, and before her saw a woman dressed in stately attire. Her white gown was precisely fitted, and simply decorated with pearls and rubies. Her hair was fashioned up into a wide fin around a golden comb. In her hands she held a scepter, of golden shaft and topped with a red orb, which itself was surrounded by a golden crown.
“Beg your pardon, ma’am. I am not so desperate as to find employ as a servant.” Gabriella replied.
“You have always been my servant, Gabriella. Ever since you first dreamt of my city.” The woman sat, and gestured for Gabriella to do the same. As she did, the woman continued.
“My city is under threat, and you have come very far to protect it. The army provided you with training, which will serve you well. While your discharge from the army is unfortunate, it is but a slight bump in the road.”
The woman waited, then. Gabriella returned her gaze, confused. This woman was not present at her dismissal, and news of it had not spread outside the barracks. If this woman was Barakhan, she was forbidden to speak with Gabriella.
“I am not worthy of protecting this city. My failures are paramount, and my actions found wanting. I have failed my family, my army, my homeland, and myself.” Gabriella replied.
“The events which led to your dismissal are unfortunate, but the judgement is fair.”
Gabriella winced. If the woman noticed, she paid no heed.
“You will make amends yet. Now is no time for this pathetic exercise in self-pity. For nearly two weeks you have lived as a vagrant and it has not done you well. Cities have inns for a reason. Get a room at The Red River Way. Tork, the keeper, is a good man and will charge you a fair price. You need a bath, and to properly dress yourself. I cannot give you the armor you are familiar with, but this cloak will keep you warm.”
The woman rose then, and looked down upon Gabriella.
“You must walk my city. Every road and alley way. Upon its stones and bricks you will discover your strength. You have asked for help, and this is how you shall earn it. You once swore to protect this city, and by proxy have sworn fealty to me. In return, once you have proven your fealty, I will extend my blessing to you.”
Gabriella stood, as the woman thrust the cloak into her arms.
“I will find you once more, here, when you are done.”
“Who are you to command me? I have no commander. I have no lord. I don’t want your charity and I don’t want your chores!” Gabriella responded, a fury rising in her voice.
“I am the patron of Silent Fall. I am Erathis. You asked for my help. I have given it.”
I’m writing this post as part of #100DaysToOffload, an initiative to inspire writing habits. Perhaps you could do the same.