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Snippet: Departure to the North
Singing Agathe
When I do the math of the historian, I conclude that it was the late summer of 847 when something sparked a great argument between King Warren and his closest advisor - both his uncle and my guardian, the Lord Phillip. I can surmise what it was about, knowing what I know now, but it came to matter little with the events that would follow. I had never seen my lordship so enraged, nor for the temper to last so long. He butted heads frequently with his nephew and the sovereign king of the lands, and yet before had always managed to maintain his enviable composure. This time it was different, and within days, his household, myself included, was arranging to depart from the capital and return to Northwatch.

I had never left the capital in all my seven years of life. Phillip had been at Warren's side for four years prior to my birth, and even after taking me as his ward after my mother's execution, had made no return to his ancestral holdings. I wept openly and terribly, and was indulged by no one. Even Phillip, who always graced me with far more paternal affection than was demanded of him, was short with my outbursts, muttering about how the niceties of court threatened to addle my wits just as they had done to my father's. Then he would catch himself and storm off, as if I were not already so keenly aware that I was the King's bastard, saved as an infant from being dashed upon the rocks by Phillip's grace.

Once I realized that my heaving and wailing would amount to no change, and that I would be banished away from the only home I had known, I took on the task of saying my farewells. I first sought out my elder twin brothers, who were far too busy thrashing each other to acknowledge my departure. Of my younger siblings, I could not reach my sister Chrysanthe or my brother Gunther - their mother Ianthe made it clear that I was unwelcome any where near their chambers. I slipped into the baby Danica's room while the maid was asleep, and gave her a delicate kiss on the forehead. Then I visited Daphne's tomb, and wept for a while - it was a different kind of grief than my earlier tantrums. Leaning against the cold of her empty tomb, I realized that no one would miss me. The only people who truly cared about me were accompanying me to Northwatch.

So I solemnly accepted my duty to ride at my lord's call, and we began the months long procession to Northwatch. It was the ancestral home of the line of Stele, a lineage that I shared in my blood. Since my great-great-grandfather had ridden out from its halls to claim the White Throne, stewardship was granted to a king's relative out of the line of succession. Usually it was in title only. My lord Phillip, as my grandfather's youngest brother, had been presented the title by Warren as one of his first kingly acts, nearly three decades ago, and until he had also be declared a royal advisor, Phillip had been the first in many years to actually reside there.

Now, furious with his nephew over some final straw, he pulled up his retinue, and was returning to his people. I was returning to my people as well, as much as my appearance would mark me clearly as an outsider - a gift of my mother's blood. Still, it would be impossible to argue with the silver of my eyes, the silver of House Stele. And perhaps there, I would not just be a bastard of the King who escape death, but the true son of the Lord of the land, and could have a different sort of life.