Righteous Vengeance [Closed]

[4th Justinian, 9.50; with  - three months after the events of this thread]

Descending the gangway from the ship to the dock, Delilah pulled her cloak a little more rightly around her, the sea air bringing a noticeable chill even to the warmth of the summer sun. She did not pause to wait for anyone once she reached the dock. Instead, she moved smoothly through the throngs of people, her sure-footedness as a duelist helping her sea legs to adjust to the solidness of land with barely a misstep.

Head bowed, she passed by without drawing attention. Few would expect the Arlessa of Amaranthine to visit Denerim without the necessary ceremony deserving of that title. She had not wanted the attention. This was not a matter of politics; it was personal. Her son was dead.

How, why and by whom were all still mysteries. But given the wandering streak which had embued her son since his very first steps, she had wrangled at least one concession from him when he first began his career recovering artefacts. He must, without exception, send word to her every month. She would wait a month in case of unforeseen delays in delivery, but the message must always arrive eventually. Drakonis had come and gone, then Cloudreach passed by. On the first day of Bloomingtide, Delilah had taken the first investigative steps into tracking down her son. Now, a full month later, she had narrowed his last sighting as in Denerim. By now, she held no hope that he was safe and well. Alive, maybe, but not in any way that did not involve extreme pain. She had forced herself to acknowledge the very real likelihood that he was dead.

Either way, her darling boy needed to be rescued or revenged. 

With barely any effort at all, Delilah had cast aside all the distance she had created between herself and the association with Howe treachery. Invoking the name of her father, she had soon identified a handful of reliable spies, gathering intel from across Ferelden. It was their reports which had led her to Denerim. Of course, in Denerim, there was only one man who controlled the goings-on within the city: Callum Kennedy.

She strode through the streets, making for one particular tavern. An established venue, it catered to the upper echelons of Fereldan society. It would serve as a common ground for their meeting. Once there, she occupied a table and summoned one of the serving lads, issuing clear instructions that he was to deliver a message to Callum Kennedy requesting his presence here. She would wait here as long as necessary.
Three months.



Three months since the death of the Terrell boy and with that ending whatever humanity might have been under the mask of a merchant was gone. In four months he had become exactly what had been planned for him since he walked this path so many scarlet years ago. He had become ruthless, far more ruthless then he had ever been. Anyone who had debts to him were persuaded to pay up. those who couldn't left Denerim very quickly. it didnt matter. it never mattered he always found them and they always paid, one way or the other.



Even his associates were surprised at his change in demeanour, now he didn't bother with the threats, now he just sold them into slavery or killed them depending on his mood at the time. His grip on the merchant trade iron clad, the thieves and assassins in his employ ran this city not the old Queen. and not the old duffer who called himself the Arl.



The Room the boy had died in had been cleaned out and redecorated and stocked floor to ceiling with barrels of ale and racks of fine wines and spirits. Any hint that James had spent his last agonising hours there were wiped away as if it had never existed but still, Callum waited. At the end of the day the boy was a Howe and he fully expected the repercussions to come. he just wasn't sure how it would come, but come it would. So when the messenger came relaying the Arlessa's message he wasn't that surprised.



His advisors told him not to go, but he would not keep the Arlessa waiting longer than he had to. but he didn't move to go greet her, this was his city not hers, He would go see her when he damn well felt like it. eventually he made his way to the Seafarer, an upmarket tavern that he had owned since its previous owner had run up debts to the previous crime lord that he couldn't pay. When he walked in the girls smiled at him and the men on the door bowed thier heads in respect. Lighting a cigar he swept his eyes across the tables.



Dark Green soulless eyes, the eyes of a shark, of a hunter and he was looking for a huntress. He Sae Delilah and watched her for a moment. He had told James that he had one last loose end to tie up. She could have done more than she said. He walked over and stood in front of her but didn't sit



"You sent for me?" he rumbled "Your Grace." he added as an afterthought. "i trust the sea was kind to you.
Unsurprisingly, Delilah found herself waiting long beyond what anyone else would have deemed either acceptable or necessary. It was a powerplay. A simple yet effective means by which Callum Kennedy was communicating a clear message: this was his city. Delilah respected it but she would not be intimidated by it. Callum Kennedy may have a very particular reputation, but Delilah was a Howe: what this man aspired to be already ran in her blood. 

Upon his arrival, many of the patrons paid their dues, acknowledging him with smiles or nods. He stood for a moment, lighting something to smoke, before settling on Delilah, observing her just as she observed him. Here was the first steps of a very specific dance.

Approaching the table at which she sat, Callum very deliberately kept his feet. He was tall but sheer physicality did not affect Delilah. As Arlessa, she conveyed her authority through sheer presence, something which could not be dismissed by so simple a thing as disparity in height.

"You sent for me?" He remarked, before adding with pointed hesitation, "Your Grace." She did not care for titles beyond the boundaries of her arling, so any intended offence missed its mark. "I trust the sea was kind to you."

"It was," she acknowledged, folding her hands lightly in her lap. "And I did, yes." She gestured to the chair opposite her. "It is so rare nowadays that the old customs of waiting for permission to join me at my table are observed. Please, sit." If he wished to play such inconsequential games, he would suffer her talent for manipulating the display into her own benefit. Whether he did or not was irrelevant, save for the fact that a refusal would only serve to highlight his rudeness. And she did not think he would concede a point to her so easily and so quickly.

"I am much troubled," she began, "by the continued absence of my son, James. I do believe you met him," she took a sip of her drink, "in Amaranthine as a young boy." Carefully, she set her glass down again. "I have reports that he travelled to Denerim but there the trail ends. I have come to investigate the matter personally." At that, she raised her eyes and met Callum's gaze, resolute and unflinching. "Answers are what matters to me, not the means of how they are obtained. I come to you as one who has the network to grant me an answer to my troubles. Name your price for providing it."
Any Insult Callum had meant by leaving her honorific out till last, was eiher lost on the woman or she didn't care for it, he suspected a bit of both, 

"It was," she acknowledged, folding her hands lightly in her lap. "And I did, yes." She gestured to the chair opposite her. "It is so rare nowadays that the old customs of waiting for permission to join me at my table are observed. Please, sit." 

Most of the eyes, whilst not blindingly obvious about it, were watching the meeting and he quirked his eyebrow a little, well played, well two can play at that game, Callum thought as he took his seat and waved one of the tavern maids over "I'll have my usual and whatever her grace is having and perhaps a menu so we can eat, on my tab of course." Now he would see if she would accept the offer of a meal or decline. It was a pissing contest, she knew it and he knew it but it was the nature of the game. 

"I am much troubled," she began, "by the continued absence of my son, James. I do believe you met him," she took a sip of her drink, "in Amaranthine as a young boy I have reports that he travelled to Denerim but there the trail ends. I have come to investigate the matter personally.

Callum listened and met her gaze, his own just as unflinching and unwavering and he could have been a diamond back champion the way he kept his face blank, or maybe even Wicked grace, it had taken years to perfect this face. 

"I remember him." Callum replied.

"Answers are what matters to me, not the means of how they are obtained. I come to you as one who has the network to grant me an answer to my troubles. Name your price for providing it."

Callum sat back as the serving girl brought the drinks over and a menu and then walked away. He looked at it, studying it for a moment before laying it down beside him. Any other petty criminal might have spun lie after lie to get what they wanted from the Arlessa, but he knew her reputation, he knew her blood, void take her father he had taught his only daughter well.  He ran a thick finger around the rim of the pint tankard, his wedding ring glinting in the tavern light. 

"He came to see me, or to be more precise trespassed around my house looking for an artifact, then returned a few days later intent on stealing it."  He saw no reason to lie about it.  "Clever boy he really is. I wasn't too sure if it was him at first, but the fact he looks like both of you gave it away, and i have a good memory.

Callum met her gaze "Last i heard he left on a boat. Don't know where it was bound don't really care, I could have handed him over to the city guard for breaking into my house and attempting to steal something that was not his to take." Again not strictly a lie but not the truth either. The fact James was dead when he was aboard the boat was irrelevant. he looked at the menu once more "The boar is good, killed and cooked fresh try some. I will." 
After Delilah set out her reason for this meeting, Callum waited until the drinks and menu were delivered, considering his response. Delilah waited, as patient as any hunter stalking its prey.

"He came to see me," Callum stated, running his forefinger around the edge of his tankard. "Or to be more precise trespassed around my house looking for an artifact, then returned a few days later intent on stealing it.

Delilah made sure to keep her expression schooled into perfect neutrality. Yet the detail, clearly intended to shock, only served to warn her. Her son, filled with wanderlust and a zest for life, was no thief. There was a reason why he had decided to steal the artefact, particularly from a man with a reputation of Callum Kennedy. What had led her darling boy to believe that stealing was the only option?

"Clever boy he really is," Callum continued. "I wasn't too sure if it was him at first, but the fact he looks like both of you gave it away, and i have a good memory."

He raised his eyes to Delilah's. "Last i heard he left on a boat. Don't know where it was bound don't really care, I could have handed him over to the city guard for breaking into my house and attempting to steal something that was not his to take." His gaze glanced over the menu once more. "The boar is good, killed and cooked fresh try some. I will."

"Please, order for both of us." She had no appetite but that was not the point. Appearances had to be maintained. She very much did not believe that Callum would have not cared where James had gone after stealing from him. Aside from anything else, he would wish to make an example of the young man, reminding others within the Denerim criminal underworld that his authority should not be challenged. 

She reached out and straightened the cutlery which had been laid on the table. "Would you use your contacts to confirm the name of the ship?" He may not "care" but such information would be straight-forward for him to source. He had the network... assuming, of course, that he was no involved with her son's departure from Denerim. And Delilah did not believe that for a moment. Neither did she believe - and she felt how her heart cracked - that her son still lived. Oh, she had suspected as much when she arrived, but here was the confirmation even if Callum had not revealed it in so many words.

Once their meals were delivered to the table, Delilah took a taste from the boar fillet. It was, as Callum had said, very good. She still did not care for it. "I did not raise my son to be a thief," she remarked. "What punishment did you inflict for this poor choice of his?" There was little to be gained from pretending that Callum would not have punished such an act, even if he were not protecting his reputation, but also that Delilah would have protested such a reaction (within the boundaries of the law) if she were to discover what had happened. The issue now was how much Callum would admit of what he had done.
"What punishment did you inflict for this poor choice of his?"

it was that remark, that question that told Callum she knew, she knew he had a hand in her darling boys demise. Still he would not give her any satisfaction until he was ready. and only when he was ready. When news had reached him that Delilah was on her way to Denerim through his varying sources in that damned city he had made his own plans. 

Using only those who were utterly loyal to him and who would die for him in that cursed city. He had left clear and precise instructions. Unless they heard from him within a week of Delilah's arrival in Denerim, they were to burn the merchant district to the ground. The first place to burn would be the Arlessa's husbands store, regardless of wether he was in the building or not, it would be a boon if he was and her insufferable daughter. 

Callum finished his meal and wiping his mouth sat back in his seat and regarded the Arlessa with those cold dead green eyes of his.
 He heard his name called and excusing himself he got up and walked over to where the messenger stood. Taking the parchment he read it and nodded to himself. 

As usual any correspondence between him and his lover were done this way, no address no details, the life they both led would often mean either one of them could be in the void before the days end. Now everything was complete. His lover and thier child would be cared for even if he was to face the void. Was he afraid? no not really, did he care? not likely. Hope and thier daughter was well away from the reach of the Howe woman, searching oceans that did not appear on any other map in Thedas. They would be safe from any repercussions.  Now all he had to do was ensure the revenge he had harboured for years against his former home city was complete. 

Walking over he crouched down and whispered in the Arlessa's ear. "
Do you remember Howe, how you promised me the murderers of my parents, my brother, sister in law and my niece and nephew would be placed in the hands of Amaranthine justice?" His voice dark and cold "Do you recall that you told me that i was to trust in the guards loyalty?" he watched her out the corner of his eye "Well you know as well as i do, nothing was done. the guard in the pocket of the merchants who killed them all. Tell me, how does it feel knowing your son is dead, trust me...he is very dead, i killed him myself and now he is at the bottom of the ocean somewhere." Callum stood up and stepped back "You want your pound of flesh name your place and it will be done. The word of a Bann now Arlessa means shit to me, name your time and place and i will be there. I will give the boy credit, he did not scream when i beat him to dead then slit his throat." Callum narrowed his eyes "15 years Arlessa, and now it ends...or does it?

Rather than answering her directly, Callum preferred to posture. He made a point of finishing his meal and wiping his mouth before responding tot he summons of a newly-arrived messenger. Delilah kept her composure throughout. She had played enough of these games in her youth; she had learned long ago that nothing was to be gained by revealing her irritation or frustration over it.

Yet it was what Callum did next which truly disgusted her. He knelt beside her and whispered in her ear. The sheer audacity to act in so familiar a manner. Regardless of what he had to say, Delilah would have loathed the man from that moment forth. As it was, she maintained her impassive pose, staring dead ahead while he revealed his detestable truths. 

"Do you remember Howe--" She had not been a Howe for many years. Two decades, even. But then small men with petty grievances preferred to fixate on their hurts in order to find some purpose in their meaningless lives. She knew now the type of man Callum Kennedy had allowed himself to become, and it was entirely of his own doing. "--how you promised me the murderers of my parents, my brother, sister in law and my niece and nephew would be placed in the hands of Amaranthine justice? Do you recall that you told me that i was to trust in the guards loyalty?" She felt he prickle of his gaze settle on her skin but did not so much as blink. "Well you know as well as i do, nothing was done. the guard in the pocket of the merchants who killed them all."

That was not true. But Callum was beyond the point that he would listen to anything other than his flawed narrative. Delilah remained silent.

"Tell me, how does it feel knowing your son is dead, trust me...he is very dead, i killed him myself and now he is at the bottom of the ocean somewhere." Finally, Callum stood and stepped away from her. She let out a controlled exhale, grateful to finally have space between them. Her only regret was that was had not worn perfume which was poisoned. It would served his arrogance right. Then again, it would not have satisfied her own desire for vengeance. "You want your pound of flesh name your place and it will be done. The word of a Bann now Arlessa means shit to me, name your time and place and i will be there. I will give the boy credit, he did not scream when i beat him to dead then slit his throat." His eyes narrowed into slits. "15 years Arlessa, and now it ends...or does it?"

Very deliberately, Delilah shifted her gaze to focus on Callum, perfectly poised and controlled. Two decades since she had been a Howe, perhaps. It did not change the fact that while Nathaniel had been sent to the Free Marches and Thomas had been pandered to by her father, it was Delilah who had witnessed first-hand everything her father did, appalled but learning all the while. 

"You have given me the answer I sought," she replied, evenly. "I do believe I invited you to name your price for providing it. What shall it be, Ser Kennedy?" If Callum expected that Delilah would succumb to her temper in the same manner as he, it only further proved how inadequate an opponent he truly was for her.
"You have given me the answer I sought, I do believe I invited you to name your price for providing it. What shall it be, Ser Kennedy?" 

Callum arched an eyebrow, was this a joke, he had told her he had killed her son and she asks him for his price, He had to admit the woman had balls of steel. He had his ace card to play now, see how long she hung around for. The messenger had already told him it was done, a little earlier than he wanted but...still he would deal with that sooner rather than later. 

"
Name my price?" He stroked his jaw and sat down "See how fast it takes you to return to Amaranthine," He snarled "By now the merchant district will be in flames and oh yeah...your husbands shop too, i do hope he wasn't at work today Arlessa." Callum finished his ale and got up "I think our business is concluded don't you?
He got up and made his way to the bar and threw over his shoulder "Or your daughter" wether they were or they weren't was of no consequence to him, they either would have been or they wouldn't have been. He leant back and hit the Arlessa with a hard cold unfeeling glare. 

Now lets see what she's made off.