Couple of Nights before Battle of Ostagar
She’d lost Alistair. It was dark and every tent looked the same, with the same flickering fires casting moving shadows. She knew none of these tents belonged to her, and she had been following Alistair until something the mages were doing had caught her eye. When she turned, he was gone.
She was more convinced Alistair had lost her. That made more sense, given he was the lopsided, dopey shem was supposed to be looking out for her. Nolani had no understanding of how these camps were laid out. Every tent seemed to be set up at random, fireplaces randomly tossed in a center, and somewhere
there were food stores.
Her stomach twisted and let out a empty gurgle. Yeah, yeah, I know.
Since Alistair was lost, she might as well find something to eat. Her very bones felt starved of nutrition. Which was ridiculous because she ate… maybe two hours ago? It felt like she’d only eaten breakfast that day, and it was past sundown now.
Walking between two tents, she caught the squinting, suspicious eyes of one of the fireplace dwellers as she walked by. Squinting back at him, Nolani moved away, knowing she was not invited to share their food. Besides, they had smelly dogs with them and one growled when she turned her back. How vicious. Not even daring to snarl when she was facing.
A throng of bodies congregated ahead. Men and women peering over shoulders, pressed tight and quiet, and Nolani could hear a loud voice raised in authority. She noted the Warden sigil and smiled out of pride. She didn’t need Alistair. She could find her way without him after all. Joining the outer ring, Nolani shifted on her tiptoes to try and see the speaker. She couldn’t. Craning her head, Nolani tried to listen instead. Something about… final things before the battle. Right. The battle. That was happening soon, and Nolani was rather grateful. Since she passed the Joining, her knuckles itched to smack a darkspawn right in the mouth.
The talking person called dismissal, to find food and bedrolls. More interested in the food part, Nolani ducked and weaved around the dispersing throng, trying to see where people might be going to get said food.
A scowling man rudely shouldered her, spitting, “Knife-ear,”
as he continued.
Fire erupting in her bones, Nolani spun on her heel. “Say it to my face, shem.”
He and a surly woman friend stopped. The man smiled, but it was unfriendly and curled into a sneer. “Ooooh,”
he mocked, “the little knife-ear barks back. Does she bite too?”
Nolani bristled and her hands coiled tight. “You can taste my fist and see.”
He laughed. They always
With a leisurely swagger, he moved within striking distance and bent near her. His stupid grin stretched from ear to ear and she needed to strike it ugly. “I’ll let you take the first-Hmph!“
Nolani smashed her fist across his cheek with boney smack. Their bystanders flinched and sucked air between their teeth the man staggered off balance and dropped to a knee. With a single chuckled “huh”, Nolani gave the man a crooked smile. “You were gonna say ‘swing’, right?”
she taunted, and flexed her fingers openly. “Your turn.”
She expected him to rise with a swing and stepped back. His arm sailed harmlessly past her nose and Nolani struck out with her foot, catching his ankle. “Saw that coming before I even hit you.”
Then her temple exploded and her vision rocked as she stumbled sideways. She hadn’t expected the surly woman to step in. With dry laughter, Nolani raised her arms in guard.
And the brawl was on.