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Summary Edit

Pitch Black charges into the Grounded Dungeon Rebels' camp and enters the king's quarters, demanding that Haddock tell him where his daughter Akkey is. Haddock, so caught up in his duties, has forgotten that Akkey was left by the lake void of her memories. Accusations fly between Pitch and Haddock, escalating to a physical fight. Stonegit pins Pitch down and has him taken to the dungeons.

Haddock and Stonegit then converse. The conversation is at first completely dysfunctional, the king demanding Stonegit explain how he is acting like he can see when he should be blinded, Stonegit wanting to know why the king kissed him earlier. When Stonegit fails to answer Haddock, the king responds by force. The king's demand for respect sets off a flashback in Stonegit's mind; Stonegit physically retaliates and ignites the king's trauma in return.

After both suffer their respective episodes, the two men converse at a more functional level on both topics of concern. Haddock learns Stonegit has made a bargain with the Warden, seen in a sigil on his body. The young man has on his own volition allowed the Warden to enter his body and restore his vision, and he has control over himself. However, Stonegit lets the Warden briefly take over to talk to the king. After a bit of antagonistic verbal sparring, Stonegit resumes control and then leaves the king to rest.

Full Text Edit

Pitch Black: Pitch walks into camp. Slamming open doors in search for Haddock. By all the demons in Hel that King was going to die… TONIGHT!

HADDOCK!” Pitch slammed open the door to the King’s room “Where is SHE!?!? WHERE IS MY DAUGHTER?!” Pitch stood at the door seething. 

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: Haddock immediately pulled out his sword and held it before him. “What do you mean where’s Akkey?” he demanded.                                                                         

Pitch Black: Pitch gritted his teeth. “I left her with you!” Pitch pulled a sword from his cloak. Sure he wasn’t as skilled as he used to be but it was like riding a dragon. You just don’t forget some things.                                                                                            

"I left her in your care like I have before! I realize now how much of a mistake I made leaving her with you again! NOW!" Pitch calms his voice, "Where is she, Haddock?"

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: "What concern is it to you?" Haddock snapped back. He eased into a fighting stance. His right leg throbbed, but it was healing, and he believed if he had to fight, he would not be too hindered. Not as much as he used to be. “After everything you did at that lake, why would I for a second so much as tell you where she is?”                                                                         

Pitch Black: "So you know where she is?" Pitch stepped forward. "I got everything back at the lake! Warden is gone, Vox is back and your precious body guard is safe! You have many reasons to tell me WHERE MY DAUGHTER IS?" Pitch’s voice got louder as angry over took him. Pitch clinched the sword tighter.                                                                                            

Skye: Skye just stood there until it looked like bloodshed. And then he thought to step in. At least for now, he needed answers, and he has yet to see them. He stepped between the two as kind of a peacekeeper… At least the one he could try and be. “Please gentlemen. We must not resort to such barbaric ways of finding our answers… Must we?” He looked over at both of them and then sighed.                                                                                                       

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: “What I do is not barbaric, but what you do is foolish. There is no means to keep the peace with men like him!” Haddock shoved Skye aside and advanced toward Pitch.                                                                         

Toshioka Kiri: Kiri has been making a list of supplies the camp needs.  She twirls the charcoal in her hand as she wanders down the hall, going over the supplies.  Dried meat, steel arrows, thirty pounds of barley - what is going on over there?'                                                                                            

She can hear the yelling from down the hall.  She jogs over just in time to hear the tail end of an argument and a man’s roar of “You have many reasons to tell me WHERE MY DAUGHTER IS?”

It takes Kiri several more seconds to race down the hall.  She pokes her head into the King’s chambers to see one youth she doesn’t recognize, the King with his sword out (“What in the world?”) and a tall dark man, also with his sword out (“What in the world???”)

"Um, if you’re talking about Akkey," she begins helpfully, and all three men freeze and turn their heads to her, "I saw her leaving in the direction of the Wild West back when everyone else was returning to the camp.  Before the feast.  I think she had something she wanted to do?  Haven’t seen her since."

Pitch Black: Pitch nods at the girl with a calm face before turning back to Haddock and knocked his sword  to the side with his own. “YOU!! You let her wander into Wild West!?!?” Pitch stopped himself from spearing the King right there. “They KILL half-breeds there! YOU better PRAY to the gods right now because you will meet them SOON!” Pitch took a strike towards Haddock.                                                                                            

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: Haddock expertly blocked Pitch’s swing with his own sword, then neatly redirected his blade’s trajectory. His injury barely seemed to hinder his movements; his mastery with the sword took over his movements. He thrust with the full intent to spill Pitch’s guts and end his life.                                                                         

Toshioka Kiri: Kiri shrieks in alarm.                                                                                            

"WHAT IN THE NAME OF DROP-KICKING MONGOOSE - "

She dashes forward, dropping the list.  With no time to take her daggers out, she instead does what she knows she will be hated for later - she side kicks Haddock’s injured leg in an attempt to disable him, and then rushes at the taller dark man (whom she has realized must be Pitch), wraps her arm around his sword arm to trap it, and attempts to drop him to the floor with a sweeping kick to the Achilles tendon.

Pitch Black: A small bottle drops from Pitch’s cloak as he staggers. The bottle cracks and water begins to trickle out. Pitch smiles at this. “What a sad mistake you did, my dear.” Pitch knocks the bottle causing the water to spill fully on the ground. Pitch moves his hands making the puddle grow and nudges the girl a few spaces to the water and gives a small grim smile as she trips in and into the water. “Would you like to be next, old friend? Your body guard is not here to save your life from the pits of Hel this time!”

Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: Stonegit rushed into the fortress, coming to the King’s doors just in time to hear Pitch’s last words. The look of rage that came to his face could have melted steel. “Well you’re not right,” he said grimly. He whistled shrilly. No sooner had he done so, Pitch heard a growling hiss and then a blurry, almost invisible creature bore down on him. Bites and gashes from Snag’s teeth and claws cut deep into his legs, dragging him down savagely. Stonegit looked to his left, grabbing up a candle stick and marching toward Pitch, his face set and determined.                                                                                                    

Pitch Black: Pitch screams at the pain coming from his leg and tries to push the creature from him. He pulls back the head of the dragon to the side and towards the floor. Hitting the dragon just right to send it into a soft sleep.                                                                                            

Pitch scoots back as Stonegit advances on him. ”Always fighting for him, eh Stone?” Pitch reaches for the sword he dropped when Kiri attacked. “I never thought I would have to get rid of you twice!” 

Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: Stonegit, undeterred by Pitch’s brandished sword, continues to walk towards him. “Did you expect anything less?” he asked. He looks at the sword and then snaps his finger, pointing directly at it. Snag fired off a quick stream of acid, damaging the sword and burning Pitch’s hand. With a grunt Stonegit stepped forward, kicking the sword out of his grasp and grabbing him by his shirt collar. He meets Pitch’s eyes and carefully extends his pinkie finger, tapping the scar on the side of his eye, quirking an eyebrow. He then swung the candle stick around, knocking Pitch fiercely across the face. The strike would leave a small scar on Pitch’s eye bone, and cause his eye to swell painfully. He shoved Pitch to the ground after hitting him, kicking him over and seating himself on his back with a sigh. He grabbed up his arm, putting him in an arm lock. “Don’t…move,” he growled.                                                                                                    

Pitch Black: Pitch groaned, sure he had worse but a bodyguard’s love for his King was not something to be messed with. “Wouldn’t dream… of it…” Pitch coughed trying to get air back into his lungs. “I should have taken you to Hel myself…” Pitch mutters under his breath. Blinking his freshly scarred eye, gritting his teeth in pain as he did so. Pitch looked around the best he could for an exit.                                                                                            

Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: Stonegit nodded curtly. “Thank you,” The bodyguard then pulled up on Pitch’s arm, dislocating it. He stood up, ignoring Pitch surprised yell, and carefully putting a foot on his shoulder. Turning his head. “My King, if I have your permission I would like to pull this mans spinal cord out, as I promised earlier to the next person who dared try to harm you.”                       

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: Haddock, lying on the floor and clutching his throbbing leg from Kiri’s kick, growled, “A little violent… but I couldn’t care less.” He had been attempting to kill Pitch anyway with his sword. Stonegit doing him the favor brought the same end result he desired.                       

Pitch Black: Pitch took a deep breath knowing his life would end soon. He could only hope the gods would take pity on his soul. Maybe he would see his wife and child one last time before he was forced through the gates of Hel. Maybe he would get to tell Iona (his wife) that he had found Akkey and tried to help her… Akkey… Well I have nothing left to lose…                       

Before you kill me…” He coughed and looked up at Haddock, “Tell me where my…” Cough, “my daughter is… Where’s Akkey?”                       

Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: Before Pitch spoke, Haddock saw Stonegit stiffen briefly, and then he exhaled, nodding gravely. “I guess I ought to be more careful with the threats I make.” he sighed. He bent down, picking up Pitch’s broken blade and bending it slightly, forming a nasty hook. It was at that moment that Haddock realized that Stonegit really truly mean to pull out Pitch’s back.

Stonegit knelt beside Pitch, putting the barb to his lower back. “But I made a threat, and if the situation nor my King vetoes it, then I must see it through. He drew the weapon back, but then stopped, hearing Pitch’s words. “Akkey? Where?” he frowned, and then slowly stood back up, turning to the King. “Akkey wouldn’t have had memories the…did you? Did you forget your chief at the lake? Haddock!” he said, looking rather grouchy.   

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: "Akkey didn’t…….. return….?" Haddock thought back to the incident of the lake, his memories muddled from the pain. How had he not noticed this? The king was more than incredibly frightened at where this was heading. He stood to his feet and grabbed his sword. Suddenly, he was a little uncertain at the situation.

Pitch Black: Pitch’s eyes narrowed at Haddock taking a shaking breath. “You… You left her at the lake?” Pitch grunted pushing up on his “good” arm before letting himself back down noticing how badly Stonegit had messed him up. “YOU… LEFT HER?!? MY…” He took another deep breath, “Daughter WITHOUT her memories? Then… THEN you let her WANDER the WILD WEST!” He shook his head trying to control himself and looked to Stonegit. “And you call him a protector of people?”

Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: "Good gravy Haddock," Stonegit growled, motioning to some guards. "You two, get this man searched and in a cell. Tend to his injuries but keep an eye on him, and have back up on hand." he turned to a few nervous servants who were standing by. "I want scouts out looking for Chief Akkey, look around the area around the lake and the WildWest, being her back, and you," he called to another. "Clean up this water, but don't touch it." He turned to Haddock. "Mind if I have a word with you, preferably in more safely secured room?"

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: "I do," Haddock spat, "in fact," he leaned in menacingly, "protect people," he stared Pitch in the eye, "far better than you, agent of Helheim!" Haddock then let Pitch be taken away, telling the guards to place him in the most secure ice caverns in the center of their camp, giving them instructions on how to see to Pitch in the following days. This would not turn into another incident akin to Frosti… or Tree… or…

Haddock shuddered, placing a hand on his heart. It was warm, he told himself that, but for a moment his chest felt icy cold.

Then, turning to Stonegit, Haddock remarked, “You’re a little too comfortable giving commands in the place of a king’s.”

Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: "Yes of course my apologies," Stonegit said impatiently, completely unapologetic. "Won’t happen again." he said, only this time he sounded sincere. He got Haddock into the safety of his room, bolting the door. He rubbed his face, pacing slightly. He grabbed up a first aid kit, helping the King to a seat and kneeling down, examining his leg. His head lowered. "Sorry for overstepping," he said, his voice now void of snark. "I just needed you safe…I needed you to speak to you…privately."

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: "I am perfectly capable of handling myself with a sword," Haddock reminded Stonegit firmly. "Far better even than you, if I might add. Bloody Odin! If you’re going to heal my leg, the least you could do is attend to it as though it’s not a side of beef! That hurts! Thor and the Warriors Three, what are you doing? You can’t see my - you can’t see my - you - you-” Haddock paused, recounting the incident with Pitch. “You… were acting almost as though you could see, Stonegit,” Haddock remarked.

Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: "Tell me about your wife…" Stonegit said flatly, pulling out some gauze. He looked up, meeting his eyes. 

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: "That is more than a little inconsiderate of a question to ask your superior," Haddock reprimanded harshly. He pried his leg away from Stonegit before he could apply the gauze to his leg. "I demand you to answer my last question."

Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: Stonegit’s hands lowered. “Yes…” he said. “I can see,” he continued to kneel on the floor, his body submissive but his words defiant. “Now will you drop the high and mighty fuckery…Sire? Because Haddock, you found my weakest part, the biggest chink in my armor, and thrust a lance through it. And for a bloody moment I thought it was a good thing but…” he shook his head, and then raised it. “You said you needed me, but for what? You have a wife don’t you? She’s alive? Well? Waiting for you? You love her? So what did you need me for back when I could not see? You kissed me, did I misunderstand something?”

He swallowed. “I would do…and be anything for you." he ducked his head again. "But I can’t be something to simply tied you over until you find your wife again…I’m not accusing you. But I can’t see how it can be anything other than that if all that I assume about your wife is true. So tell me…please!"

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: "For the love of Odin, Stonegit, can we stick to one conversation?" Haddock snapped. "Or do I have to lock you up alongside Pitch before you gain a sense of honor and respect? I cannot and I repeat will not tolerate your insolence! I will send you away without answering any of your questions because I am not obliged to. If you cannot speak properly to the king, you will not speak to the king at all and will in fact never be in the presence of the king at all. We will be discussing your vision or we will be seeing you locked in a cell overnight.”

Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: Stonegit stayed silent for a moment, and then he heaved a sigh, slowly standing. He faced Haddock, and opened his mouth for a snappy reply, but the words caught in his throat. What if Haddock did send him away, he would have to oblige. But he couldn’t, he couldn’t live like that he couldn’t risk it…not now. He ducked his head. “You’re right…I’m sorry. I’m just…” he inhaled deeply, and then knelt down, bowing his head. “My King…you have given me life beyond what I thought was possible, and I have lov…”

His voiced hitched and one tear fell from his eye. “And I have loved you Haddock, from the moment you accepted this wretched form into your services. I have failed to protect you nearly every time your life was put in danger. I came back…blind, testy, impatient, and frustrated, but you still kept me, and tried to give me a purpose anyway.”

His head touched the floor. “I just can’t take this anymore. I don’t know if I am your bodyguard or not. I don’t know what I am to you. And now I can’t even escape if I wanted too…” he bit his tongue, wishing he hadn’t said that last part.  

Gareth Ragnar Haddock: There was a long pause.

A long, long pause.

Deadly.

Silence.

"You have a purpose," Haddock responded, voice completely flat. "And while being in service to a king is expected of your duty, and finding personal purpose in service is admirable, I alone should not be the sole reason you cling onto life. You should not be living hanging onto one other person. That’s not stable, for one, and that will hardly satisfy you in the end. You’ll only find disappointment in that path. You cannot live trying to please someone else over and over and over.

"You speak of failing me. Of times where someone has slipped by my guard. I do not hold that against you. I would never hold that against you, Stonegit. But where you fail me now is by your continued insolence.

His voice grew increasingly harder as he continued speaking. His eye contact with Stonegit was more than intense, too. “You pry me for private information while failing to answer my own questions. If you could be patient enough to cater to me, maybe I would return the cooperation. However, you continue to disobey me. Over and over and over again. You can speak of how much you love me, but maybe you can show that love better by actually treating me with a scrap of respect.”

Haddock stepped away. Slowly, with a disbelieving and disapproving shake of his head. “I cannot answer your questions until you treat me properly. I am giving you three seconds to leave this room before I put a sword to your throat and lead you to the dungeon myself. And if I or my guards find you in this hallway any time within the next twenty-four hours, you will be seized immediately.

"Consider this a mercy to how I could be punishing you. Return two days later, and maybe, if you act like a decent human soul, I will listen five second to you.”

Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: The words hit Stonegit like a wall of hard, freezing cold water. The mere minute and a half that it took the King to speak these words caused Stonegit more pain than the entire happening at the lake. "Invading your privacy?" He thought, panicked. "You kissed me! You won’t tell me why! When have you ever shown me respect!? You need somebody to stand up to you!" He bit back all these words. His head came up, his eyes horrified. He blinked hard, and then reached for his belt, taking all of his weapons and setting them on the floor, pushing them away. He slowly placed his hands over his head. “I hate to disobey you again…I’m sorry,” he choked out, fighting desperately to hold his tears back. “But what you asked of me…it can’t wait two days. It’s the Warden,” he said, heaving in a shaky breath of air. “She has possessed me.”   

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: Haddock ran up and grabbed Stonegit by the neck of his shirt and pulled the shorter man to stare him eye-to-eye. Yes. Stonegit certainly could see, based upon his reaction when Haddock glared intensely down at him. He had sight! But the shock of that was clouded under Gareth’s anger. The king shook his bodyguard roughly, horribly roughly. There were so many words he needed to pour out to respond to everything Stonegit had said. The result was a waterfall of gushing half-coherent thoughts, some directed at Stonegit, some at the Warden, some to perhaps both simultaneously.

Haddock did not even need to ask for confirmation of the Warden’s presence as he tiraded. If any chance existed that the Warden was there, Haddock would battle against her.

"Everything you are trying to accuse me of you are guilty ten-fold! Respect? Respect? I have brought you in as my only confidante, listened to you, fought for your survival. Accepted you into a revered position as my closest body guard! Tried to save your life! And you say there is no respect? No respect? Where is your respect? How hard is it to respect me? You avoid speaking about something so fundamentally important as bloody your vision being inexplicably restored? For the love of Thor! By Loki’s magic powers! The Allfather’s Odinsleep! I will hang you up by your heels and - I will - your sight, Stonegit! What is it? Is it the Warden? The Warden caused this? Is it the Warden is in control of your eyes… and what else?

"Are you in there, Warden?" Haddock snarled, glaring deep into Stonegit’s eyes. "I have a vendetta to settle with you. You are the cause of my pain. Of this entire situation from the beginnings of our escape from the Grounded Dungeon. From our imprisonment in that Dungeon! Trolls and vampire slavedragons! Warden, you mock me still? You mock me in him? Of all the vessels you could have chosen, you irreverent fool, you had to choose him? Do you ask for more than a death wish? Do you ask for torture by my hand as well?”

Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: Stonegit scrambled at Haddock’s hands, his face becoming terrified as he felt his feet lift from the ground. “Where’s your respect!? Where’s your respect!? Where’s your respect…BOY?!” Haddock’s image flicked, his face getting replaced with Orskaf’s. “I’ll show you respect boy! It’ll show you respect! You can’t talk to me that way!”

Stonegit’s head jerked downward, his mind conjuring up the crushing blow that had been delivered to him when he was young. Pain flooded his mind as panic filled his vision. He stopped breathing, his whole body starting to loose muscle control as he starred up at “Orskaf” who was now throttling him. Stonegit gasped raspy, pulling at Haddock’s hands, the shaking causing his mind to spin even more. A loud keening filled his mind as Orskaf’s voice thundered in his ears. His mouth moved, struggling just to get words out. “O-Orskaf…!” he gasped. “Please…” he said, his eyes wide and pupils darting back and forth.

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: "Who is Orskaf?" Haddock demanded, shaking Stonegit harder. He squeezed Stonegit’s jaw in a death grip and yanked his head up to resume the eye contact. "Look at me!” Haddock screamed, slapping Stonegit on the cheek with his other hand. “Look at me, you filth! Warden! ANSWER ME!

Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: Stonegit gripped his head, his legs dropping from under him so he was hanging in the King’s hands. “You’re the chief’s father! You’re the chiefs father!” he sobbed, screaming up at him. “Why are you here!? You never leave me alone!” his teeth gritted together, tears now freely flowing from his eyes. “I killed you! I killed you! WHY ARE YOU STILL HURTING ME!?”

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: "I will kill you, Warden," Haddock snarled, not at all processing half of Stonegit’s babbling. "I will kill you unless you step down now. Release him now if you want a chance to live or I will kill the both of you here and now. Even you cannot survive if your vessel is impaled through the stomach.”

Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: The image of Orskaf stared down at Stonegit, sneering down at him. "I’m gon kill you boy…I gon kill the both of ye!" 

Stonegit’s head lulled. “The both of…?” he mouthed. He blinked his eyes, seeing Haddock’s image behind Orskaf. They widened, but then narrowed. “No…YOU WON’T!” he roared. Haddock was grabbed under the elbows, and thrown up into the ceiling. The attack shocked the King more than more than it hurt him. By the time he came back down and hit the floor he had suffered nothing more than a nasty bruise, but was totally flabbergasted at being tossed like a small child.  

Grabbing up his ax, Stonegit stepped up, standing over Haddock and raising the ax into a ready position. But instead of bringing the weapon down, he began to turn in a slow circle, his eyes still panicked, and searching. He bent down, placing a hand on Haddock’s head. “Stay down my King!” he said. “I won’t let him hurt you!”  

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: Haddock had the breath knocked out of him when Stonegit whacked him to the floor. He stared straight up at the ceiling for a long time, Stonegit pacing around in the corner of his vision.

Haddock put his hand to his heart. It’s not cold it’s not cold it’s not cold he reminded himself.

Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: Stonegit continued to turn in a circle, then suddenly his mind snapped again. In harsh, painful flashes, he remembered Orskaf charging him, the him knocking him away, and then finally bringing the shovel down on the old mans head with a sickening ‘splat.’

Stonegit fell backwards, laying motionless on the ground for a few, tense moments, before he inhaled deeply, sitting up. He rolled over, seeing the King. “Haddock?” he said, and then scrambled over. “His heart? Is it…? No, it can’t be this time. What happened to me? Orskaf was here, but wait he’s dead.” he thought to himself, his mind racing. “It doesn’t matter,” he muttered to himself. He carefully propped the King up against him, raising his hands up slightly (allowing him to breath easier). “It’s ok…” he said carefully. “It’s not Frosti…he’s not here Sire” he rested his head on the back of Haddock’s. “It’s ok…it’s ok…I’m here and Frosti isn’t. Just breath, your heart is warm Haddock.” 

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: It.

can’t.

be.

cold.

Cannot.

Cannot.

be.

cold.

Frozen, frozen, no not frozen, no what was it what was he feeling where was the cold coming from where was it death death it was imminent he could feel it seeping in the cold the cold he could not escape it there was nothing he could do there was no way he could avoid it it was there it was inside of him it was growing inside of him it was piercing his hear he was cold so very cold so very cold he could feel his chest it was growing growing the cold was growing.

Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: Stonegit wrapped a blanket around him, holding him close and trying to give him the feeling of warmth. He rested his face on his shoulder, heaving a sigh and letting the bit of fire magic he had learned arm warm his body, transferring to Haddock. “I’m sorry,” he said into his shoulder. “I can’t think…and I should have just talked to you…I promise, if you’ll keep me around after all this, I’ll…I’ll,” he exhaled. “Well maybe we could talk…for real this time.”  

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: The world… slowly… cleared.

What was I doing?

Haddock saw Stonegit hovering worriedly over him, and all at once felt horridly abashed. “Gods, gods,” he groaned, rubbing his hair, “Loki and the Frostgiants of Jotunheim… don’t ever tell anyone this incident happened. Gods… gods… I’m such a fool.”

He stared across at the wall - anywhere but at Stonegit’s face. Oh. So. Embarrassing.

Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: Stonegit blinked, watching as Haddock got up, he sighed with relief. “Of course not…I would hate that.” he grunted standing up. “My King, with your permission, can I make a suggestion?”

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: Haddock slowly nodded, still feeling rather numbed.

Why does this keep happening to me? he pondered. What is happening?

"Anything, Stonegit," Haddock murmured. "Speak your mind."

Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: Stonegit carefully sat down with him on a floor. He licked his lips, rubbing his neck. “Ok…for starters, I think for this moment, this conversation, it needs to be between two people, no King, no commoner, just two guys.”

He ducked his head, rubbing his hands together. “I’m sorry,” he shook his head. “I should not have spoken to you with such disrespect. I wont roll over to your every word, but there is a fine line between sticking up for myself and simply being rude, which is what I’ve been ever since I got back.” Stonegit rubbed under his eye briefly. “I have a lot of questions, but I want you to go first, I’ll answer all of them, all at once, as well as I possibly can.” 

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second:                                                 

"No, no, you’re right. This is between two men, no rank, nothing…" Haddock was rather stoic, rather solemn, and more than a little subdued. "And if this has to begin with me, it should begin… with an apology. I - I - I don’t know what to say. None of this was excusable."

Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: Stonegit shifted slightly, uncomfortable. “It’s ok…honestly and truly it is. You have no more reason to feel guilty now. Although what you told me was true, about being dependent on you…you were spot on about that. But the rest of it aside…what can I tell you, what questions can I answer?”

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: Haddock barked a mirthless laugh. “You could start with everything you bombarded at me all at once. Your vision, the Warden, I mean, what the gods?”

Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: Stonegit gave a sad smile. “She possessed me when I came out of Hel. Its her looking through my eyes that lets me see. I’m stuck with her…so I made a deal. In return for being a safe vessel for her, she in return has granted me power, and the guaranteed safety of my friends from her.” he rubbed a thumb over his branded hand. “We’re bound by an oath…” he glanced at the King, giving him a tiny smile. “Anything else?” 

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: With a heavy exhale, Haddock responded, “There better not be anything else. That is more than enough to take in. More than enough. Gods, I don’t know if I’m comfortable with that. Stonegit, the Warden killed Vox. Turned Tree against us. Atrocity after atrocity after atrocity… and you make a deal with our greatest enemy?”

Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: Stonegit shrugged. “I’m stuck. The only way I could get rid of her before was to break the sigil on my chest, which would send me back to Hel. This was way I could keep you the safest.” he closed his eyes. “Can I ask my questions? And perhaps…tell you some things?”

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: "I will never be comfortable with this, and you better let me plague you more later with the utmost thoroughness," Haddock told Stonegit. "But… very well then. You’ve been itching to ask questions this entire time. Fire away so that it’s over and done with."

Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: Stonegit nodded curtly. “As it should be.” he paused for a moment. “When I was ten years old I refused to help the village’s senior chief kill his helpless old dragon. He smashed my head in with a shovel. Years later, I ended up killing him the same way….his name was Orskaf, he was always going on about ‘respect.’…it’s why I threw you into the ceiling, I was hallucinating, I thought you were him…I’m sorry.” 

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: "Sounds like you didn’t much have control over it," Haddock said with a shrug. "And, well, I didn’t know what you were doing… it almost seemed as though the Warden were possessing you."

Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: "Yeah that probably looked bad…ok then, questions." he rolled his eyes. "I may as well give them to you all at once. First…I have to know, you kissed me and I really don’t know why. Second, despite the Warden, despite all of…this, I humbly request to be reinstated as your personal guard. Thirdly…" he gave a relenting shrug. "Will you tolerate a guard who will never show insolence or rebellion when in the public’s eye, but will almost certainly let you know when you are being an utter ass about something in private… and would you even consider his words?"

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: "Demanding, demanding, demanding as always," Haddock remarked, though with a much lighter tone of voice than he had earlier used against Stonegit’s obstreperousness. "So many questions. Alright. First. I never formally dismissed you as a guard. I never agreed to it. That was all you. So as far as I’m concerned, there’s no reinstatement needed.

"Secondly, permission to be… an utter ass… is a little difficult to grant. A reasonable ass, maybe, and only very in private. Do you understand me? Not one other human being around, not one. I can’t destroy my reputation. The public must see me as a figurehead, not some fool who can’t keep even a teenaged bodyguard under control.

"And as far as that… other… question… is concerned," Haddock voiced incredibly awkward. He intentionally avoided speaking more explicitly of it, especially since he was sure Stonegit would know he was referencing the kiss. "Doesn’t that speak for itself?"

Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: Stonegit thought in silence for a moment. “I thought it did…but you still have a wife, who’s alive, who you love, and who is waiting for you right?” he responded carefully. “So why show feelings for me? Why not push them away? After all that would be the honest and faithful thing to do.”

He gave another sad smile. “Believe me nothing would bring more happiness to me than to be with you in every loving way Haddock.” he gave a quick huff. “But my life is not dependent on it, and I’m certainly not going to be a homewreaker, I have a reputation to you know…so where do I fit in, in your life. And even more importantly…should I?” 

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: "Obviously," Haddock said, "you have thought about this a lot more than I have. Just don’t… it was an impulsive decision, alright? Maybe ‘decision’ isn’t the right word, either. Spur of the moment reaction. Something of that nature.

"You go on and on fretting about these long-term impacts. Look… it - it - it doesn’t have to be long-term! It doesn’t have to ‘wreck a home’ - which frankly it won’t - and it doesn’t have to result in this ooey-gooey lovey-dovey relationship. It doesn’t have to be anything but a gods-bloody-damned single incident. You’ve never asked me before about where you fit into my life. Just… look, okay? …live, and that’ll be how you fit into my life. The end of it.”

Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: Stonegit gave a soft huff, maybe it was a laugh, or maybe a sigh. “Spur of the moment huh?” he placed a hand on his knee, pushing himself up and walking across the room. “Ok King…ok. You’re impulsive, and if you say that’s all that was,” he nodded a little. “Then a believe you,” at that point he gave a small laugh. “If anything it fits your personality, and if anything now I’m no longer confused or mad…just flattered.”

He inhaled deeply, looking out the window and smiling at the fact that he could actually see the sun this time. “So everything’s ok then…right?”

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: Haddock ignored Stonegit’s remark regarding his impulsiveness. Instead, he answered Stonegit’s final comment by saying sarcastically, “Pitch just tried to kill me, my leg hurts like Helheim’s wrath, and the Warden’s inside you. Everything is ‘okay’ indeed.”

Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: Stonegit’s face slowly fell as he stared out the window, not because of what Haddock said, but because of how he himself felt. The twisting, ripping feeling in his heart increased when logic told him that Haddock probably felt the same way. “No…” he breathed. “It isn’t.”

A tear dropped from his eye. He forgave Haddock, he truly had, and Haddock had forgiven him. So why did he still feel so hurt by what Haddock had done him, and still so ashamed for his own actions? He stood there, rooted to the ground, he couldn’t walk out, but he couldn’t break down either. He felt trapped.

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: With a sigh, Haddock very slowly stepped up and placed a hand on Stonegit’s shoulder. He said nothing, but simply joined his bodyguard in staring out the window.

"But that’s why we fight," Haddock said. "That’s why we stay together. To end all the bad things that come and make for ourselves a world far brighter."

Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: Stonegit hugged himself, he and the King standing in silence for a while. Very slowly, the tension in Stonegit’s heart eased. “You got that out of the ‘great big book of cliche’s’ didn’t you my King?” he asked, giving Haddock a real smile this time, and for the first time in his life, Stonegit’s screwed up mind didn’t send him in a tail spin of doubt, worry, and guilt. The King cared about him, and he had his job back. And now he saw that if anything, this terrible, terrible experienced proved to him that he would always have a home here, no matter how pissed off they got at each other. Stonegit cleared his throat. “That being said…I think it’s time you talked…to her.”  

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: Haddock stiffened. Talk to the Warden? "Why?"

Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: Stonegit spread his arms. “Because I can see because of her…and also I’m stuck with her. Meaning if you want me to be your bodyguard, you’re going to have to get along with her…or at least come to terms with her…” he took a  slow breath. “I’m gonna let her take over for a minute.”

The Warden: She almost couldn’t believe it. The terms they had agreed to allowed the Warden to only take over when the boy was near death. That was not the case…but she could feel his control giving way. He’s giving himself up…voluntarily. 

Cautiously, slowly, the Warden slid into the rest of Stonegit’s body, as though she were pulling on a glove, and she raised his head, meeting the King’s eyes. 

"Long time, no see, Your Majesty."

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: "Not long enough," Haddock hissed. Anger seeped over his voice. "Why, of all men, did you have to choose Stonegit? I heard about your deal with him, Warden, but it waries me. Angers me. Do you mock me by taking over his body? First Tree, now him… what is it you want from me?”

The Warden: "You think I’m looking for something? You think I chose this?" A note of irritation entered Stonegit’s voice. "He snagged me on his way down to Hel and then back to mortality through whatever ungodly magic he worked to get out again. He is my link to life but he is also my chain. My bindings. I cannot pry loose, not now. I’m not strong enough to choose a new anchor." The Warden frowned and put a hand to Stonegit’s head, feeling a slight lance of pain from the strange wound he carried on the side of his skull. She’d forgotten how much she hated inhabiting humans, what with Treepelt and now Stonegit. 

"Besides," she continued, "if you didn’t want me inhabiting him, you should not have let him been dragged into Hel in the first place. And don’t be so cocky as to assume my possessions have anything to do with you. It was chance. Treepelt’s possession did not involve you in the slightest. I fail to see what the cat-child means to you." She shrugged, the sinuous movement alien as it moved across Stonegit’s corded shoulders. "But who am I to judge the emotions of a king."

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: “I should have not let him be dragged to Hel?" Haddock fumed. The only thing that prevented him from throttling the Warden was the fact she occupied Stonegit’s body. Even then, the temptation coursed inside Haddock. This, this is why Haddock hated the Warden so. “Quit pretending you have no involvement with me! You have antagonized me time and time and time again. Starting with the Grounded Dungeon. And then you would not let us alone after our escape. You took over Tree. You sent Changewings against us. You killed Vox. You have tried to kill me more than on one occasion.

"Is it - is it actually cocky - to claim that your human possessions do in fact deal with me? From Tree to Stonegit, you have done your worst. The only thing worse would be to take control of me yourself.”

He pulled out his sword and gripped it firmly. “But don’t you dare for a second think you can do that.

"I will show you I did not abandon Stonegit to Helheim’s Gate. I will show you I care for him. And I will show you I cannot abide you near me, not in Tree, not in Stonegit, not in anybody. Get out of here. You are not too weak to leave and never find another anchor. Occupy no one. Take no mortal vessel. Get out of my sight.”

The Warden: The Warden stared languidly at Haddock as he stood in front of her in a cold fury, blade drawn and gleaming in the sun streaming from the window. Then she began to laugh in an uncontrolled, rolling timbre. "Oh, you really are ignorant, my liege." She bared the symbol on the back of Stonegit’s hand, still pink around the edges with a fresh scab protecting the cuts. "You see this? An oath sworn of his own free will." Tapping the side of his head, she continued, "I remain here, out of Hel, and dark-eyes receives my strength and the rebels’ safety. You wouldn’t want us to break that vow, would you?" The Warden eyed him and grinned again. "And don’t tempt me. I’m sure the inside of your head is an interesting place to inhabit."

Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: Stonegit’s head twisted to the side and he gripped his head, grunting. He gritted his teeth for a moment, and then he relaxed straightening. He pushed the Warden back into the recesses of his mind, taking control again. “Odin Haddock…” he breathed, shaking his head. “Don’t you ever give yourself up for me.” he stuffed his hands in his pockets, sighing with relief. 

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: "Think of it as returning a favor," Haddock said. "Warden, answer me."

Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: Stonegit thought about that. “That’s very gracious of you my King, but that would shame me in my position.” he turned away, stepping into the corner. “If you will give me a moment.”

He paused, and then thought furiously in his head. “What the Hel Warden!?” he hissed. “This was supposed to be an assurance of cooperation!” 

The Warden: Cooperation is a loose term. The Warden sounded amused. You should have known what would happen when I spoke with him. It’s a torch and an oil slick, dark-eyes. Especially with his temper. Becoming more serious, she added, You never specified what it was we were to talk about. Would you like to enlighten me on what the content of our conversation should entail?

Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: At this point Haddock overhears Stonegit’s comment. The young bodyguard pointed a finger up to his brain. “Listen here woodchuck!” he growled. “The King and I have been through enough shit today and I don’t need you making things worse. From now on if you want to talk to somebody, you talk to me! Otherwise you’ll just cause trouble.” he marched back to Haddock.

“I’m sorry Sire, I was foolish to think she’d be constructive.”  

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: "She… never has been… constructive." Haddock stated slowly.  "And frankly that is why I am worried about her presence in you, bargain or no bargain. She’s known to lie." His mind returned to Vox. "Lie in any situation for her own augmentation."

Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: Stonegit circled one finger, squinting. “Your suggestion?”

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: Haddock smiled, but it was not a happy one. “Ah, but everything I say to you, she could hear, too. I can give you no suggestion except to limit her control over you. The best plan I have? It’s something you’ll have to stay in the dark about, and simply trust me.”

Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: Stonegit kept the King’s gaze and self consciously rubbed his arm. “I may be defiant and prickish at times, and although there’s a reason for it, always know that despite that…this boy still, and always will, hold you in the highest of regards…trust you without any fear.” he bowed at the waste. “Your plan is my own, and I am yours.”

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: "Thank you," said Haddock. "I promise, and swear an oath to all the gods above, I will get you out of this."

Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: Stonegit tilted his head up. The last of Stonegit’s doubt and guilt shattered away and he was left free and renewed. “Well then you would be the first…first person to ever promise me any good fortune. And when you do it, and the Warden is gone, along with my sight, Snag will substitute.” he paused, and then said something…unexpected. “And then I guess I’ll have to just get good at bringing you morning tea,” he said, nodding a couple of times as he thought about it.

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: "You’ve come from Hel," Haddock responded with a smirk and something watery glistening in his eye. "I’m sure that gaining your sight back for good is nothing compared to a feat like that."

Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: Stonegit’s knees bent, and then he lunched himself forward like a spring, leaping into the air and wrapping his thin arms around Haddock. He hugged him tightly for a second ad then let go, backing up and brushing at a bit of his hair, looking a little embarrassed, but still smiling. “Right then, done being informal Sire,” he said. “Perhaps I should uh…go and find out how that search for the Chief is coming, within your immediate area of course.”

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: "A good plan," Haddock nodded, a smile twitching at his cheeks, too. "Go and do so."

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