"The King and His Guard" is a Season 4 Day 1 thread (February 14-15, 2015) which takes place the following morning after Haddock and Stonegit were confronted by Orskaf. It is preceded by "Contract with Hel" and followed by "The Scout and His King."
The morning after Orskaf entered camp and wronged Haddock and Stonegit, the king's bodyguard came to the throne room and reported he was ready to return to duty. Haddock questioned that, though Stonegit insisted on staying by the king's side. Haddock then spoke an apology to Stonegit for what happened yesterday, blaming himself. Stonegit told him it was not his fault.
When Stonegit asked Haddock if he could get him anything, the king countered that the young man was injured, and that he should be attending to Stonegit, not the other way around. Haddock invited Stonegit for a drink, and he accepted. The two of them leave the fortress and sit down together at a table. Haddock remarks that Stonegit seems unwell, but the young man simply asks the king not to elaborate, but to sit down and enjoy his company. The two sit in silence until Stonegit drinks through an entire bottle of wine and passes out.
Full Text Edit
Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: Stonegit walked tenderly towards the throne room, stopping by the door. He had scrubbed his skin nearly raw last night in the hottest water he could get. He had made sure Snag took Haddock’s children back inside, and then had slept, hard, yet restlessly. He hissed slightly, dropping his hand. “Ow…” said, his voice faint. He inhaled deeply, straightening and willing his hands to rest at his sides. Breathing in a few times, he opened the doors, walking in without limping even though the brisk action caused him some pain.
He walked up the steps to the throne, his eyes glancing up and seeing the brand on Haddock’s head. The sight disturbed him and he ducked his head, anger filling his stomach at the thought of Haddock receiving such a terrible mark. “I apologize for my earlier out burst and my absence,” he said quietly. “I’m ready to resume my duties.”
Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: Haddock sighed, rubbing at his forehead - on the right side, of course - and trying to concentrate. If anything, rubbing at his forehead made him feel even more numb. He did, however, stare at Stonegit as soon as the young man entered the room, and flinched at what he saw.
"No, please, take a few days off," the king said. "You’re not ready and don’t pretend so."
Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: "To be honest my King I would do my best relaxing here by your side as always," Stonegit replied. But this was a lie. Stonegit wanted to lock himself in his room and sleep for day on end. He wanted to lay down in a bath of scalding water and not move until he no longer felt…them. But he knew that wasn’t an option, and he knew he would regret it if he sealed himself away.
"A bodyguard is always ready my King. We have to be, that’s the whole point of the job."
Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: "Except… I should have been there for you,” Haddock whispered, though loud enough Stonegit likely heard him. “Please don’t…” he raised his voice slightly. “If you want my company, I by all means desire yours, too. But I’m not putting a man on duty who I know needs to rest. And don’t you argue with me on that one.”
Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: "Of course," Stonegit said, nodding his head as usual. "I wouldn’t dream of it." he looked around, and then took a step, he froze, took a split second to gather his wits, and then walked over, grabbing a seat and setting it down a little ways from the throne, easing himself into it and sighing. He tilted his head back, willing himself to close his eyes and did his best to keep his voice calm and optimistic. "You were there for me. You were the first person there when I came back, both times. You needn’t worry…"
Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: "No," said Haddock. "What I need to do is apologize."
Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: Stonegit stopped breathing and he slowly opened his eyes. “What happened yesterday…” he said flatly. “Was not your fault. We were both trick and hu-” he swallowed. “Wronged.” Stonegit corrected.
Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: Haddock insisted, “No.” Drawing a ragged breath, he said, “It was my choice to let that man access to our camp. It was my choice to ignore your warning. It was my command that the room clear for only him and myself. It was… my fault… all of this happened.” He groaned, rubbing at his temple, the world feeling bleary.
Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: "He was threatening the camp." Stonegit said. "Orskaf always like having a thumb on everything he did; coming here was no exception. He knew bringing just enough men to match ours would draw all the guards outside, he knew you would react badly and he knew he could manipulate me. We were given no choice and you could not have possibly foreseen what he was going to order…them…to do." he finished quickly.
Stonegit gulped nodded a few times, breathing a shaky breath himself. “But know my King even if this was your fault, understand that I would forgive you in a heartbeat.”
Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: "What isn’t my fault anymore?" He rubbed at his temple again, muttering under his breath, "Gods, my head. It was only a few glasses last night…" before he resumed his speech to Stonegit. "I have navigated through my life taking one brash decision upon another, acting upon emotion. It has done more harm than good, especially to people like you. I have not treated you well enough for everything you have done. Tell me how to atone for this, and everything else, you know the two of us have unfairly undergone at my cause."
Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: Stonegit stood up, tripping slightly and taking a few strides away, only this time Haddock saw him visibly wince. “Don’t talk like that,” Stonegit. “You’ve just had one to many drinks, you’re stressed, you’re hurt. I have no place to tell you what to do. You’ve been good to me Haddock my King.” he added hurriedly, covering his mouth briefly. “You know you have. You’re just feeling terrible about what happened and have run out of people to blame. Believe me, trust-” he stopped, remembering the last time he had requested such a thing.
He didn’t face Haddock. “You needn’t burden yourself with guilt, nor have be dictate how to ‘atone’…” Stonegit slowly hugged himself. “You just need to catch a break…that’s all.”
Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: The king let out a long, stressed sigh. “You know why they left, don’t you? I made a contract with Hel.”
Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: Stonegit ducked his head. “Yes. I know. Hardly matters now anyway, and its better than working under Orskaf. You did the right thing.” he pressed his hands to his face, rubbing it breifly before lowering them. “Can I get you anything?” he asked.
Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: "The right thing, you say? Ironic. I hardly knew what I was choosing; the act came entirely in the moment with little consideration for anything but the present." Haddock frowned, looking at the bodyguard. "Stonegit, you are limping. You are not getting me anything. I can get something for myself. …doyou want anything, though? I would not mind acquiring myself something to drink, something hard.”
Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: Haddock saw Stonegit’s cheeks flush at the mentioned of his limp and his head lowered further. “No I’m fine,” he said. “You have far too many other things to accomplish beyond getting me a drink my King.”
Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: Haddock met Stonegit’s eye. He pressed his lips together. When he spoke again, it was not about his own problems, but addressing Stonegit’s remark. “That which is large or small may not be defined so straightforwardly at times,” he said. “Sometimes I have found in my life that the ‘little’ things - getting a drink for a friend, giving a kiss, inquiring over another’s day - are just as meaningful accomplishments.
"My father was a wise man. A proud ruler. A just one. Someone to whom I never shall be able to measure. Yet all his concentrations were on large national events if not international affairs, and he consequently never spent any time with me, his unimportant son. Under the blunt of his treatment I quickly learned that I cannot live so swept up in the ‘other things’ I do not pay heed to the important people around me.” He pointed to Stonegit.
"So then. I am leaving this room to take a drink or two. It may not clear my headache but it may clear my mind. Now I can return here quickly with what I desire, and anything you would like as well, or we could both leave the room for some time. I did not schedule any meetings for this morning, so it should be quiet enough that, all my duties aside, I can at least have the first half of the day to myself and my own needs. What do you say?"
Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: Stonegit slowly turned his head to look at him, his hands still gripping his elbows. “You want to have a drink with…” he blinked a few times. “I would love to accompany you.” he said with a nod. “And…thank you…your words mean more than what many would realize.”
With that the King and his guard walked through the fortress, heading to a table where there would be some ready available drink. They reached the table and Stonegit hesitated, looking at his seating options. He decided, just this once, to go out on a limb, and sat in the chair beside Haddock’s. “I think I should only have one,” he said. “So I can remain alert.”
Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: "Whatever you desire. Although I will say alertness is not that which I am most concerned about for you," the king said, after ordering himself something to drink.
Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: Stonegit didn’t respond, he just starred at the small glass he now held in his hand, his eyes haunted, and yet, there was something else as well. The boy slowly brought the glass to his lips, taking a slow drink.
In that moment. Stonegit had everything he ever desired. His King speaking not only kindly to him, but as a friend, sharing a drink. It was something Stonegit had wanted ever since he had gotten to know Haddock.
And now the moment was sullied with the trauma of the day before.
Stonegit licked his lips slightly as he lowered the glass. A tear dropped from his lazy eye and his hand shot forward, grabbing a cloth napkin and wiping it away, giving a small, hardly authentic cough. “It’s strong,” he said, motioning to the glass and setting it down.
Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: "Is that all?" the king inquired. "If I may speak so candidly, you do not seem to be doing well, and I would prefer honesty over anything."
Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: Stonegit’s fingers worked into the wood of the table. “Please don’t…” he whispered. He picked up the glass again, taking a sip. “I beg you don’t ask me to elaborate.” he sighed. “If I could just sit beside you, that would be the best of honors, and the best of help to me my King.”
Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: "Very well then. I understand." He tried to pull a smile to his lips. "It’s an honor indeed to have you here."
Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: And so the two men sat there in silence, just enjoying each other company as best they could despite the marks each of them now bore. Eventually Stonegit did uncork a wine bottled and devastated himself with it, passing out in the chair just as another old friend was coming to see the King for the first time in long while.