“..The Chantry teaches us that it is the hubris of men which brought the Darkspawn into our world. The mages had sought to usurp haven, but instead, they destroyed it. They were cast out, twisted and turned by there own corruption. They returned as monsters, the first of the Darkspawn. They became a blight upon the lands, unstoppable and relentless. The dwarven kingdoms were the first to fall, and from the deep roads, the dark spawn drove at us again and again until finally, we neared annihilation. Until the Grey wardens came-” The lady with long white hair spoke loud and clear, the very tips of her hair covered in a light blue. She brushed over her shoulder while she dressed very casually for reading that morning. Her face was shaped into a heart, covered with a fair complexion almost resembling snow itself. Her teal eyes gazed down at the book in her lap, the words coming out of her mouth like she knew the story from the heart. Those long eyelashes fluttered briefly for a moment before her eyes looked up at the children waiting on the floor in front of her.
Shizuka Cousland was a woman of few words when it concerned people out of the family or her home, she was dressed in a puffy shirt which had a few strings at the front that she tied lightly. There was a blue and gold vest that covered her completely, protecting her from the harmful sun around this season. Instead of wearing a skirt she chooses a more practical outfit and placed on some breeches for the sake of walking around and doing the normal rounds as the second heir. On her hip, she had a single sword and brown belt hanging from her side, more for looking at than fighting with. ‘Looks are important.’ As her mother would preach more often than she liked. “Well, I think this is all I can do. Oren,” she said to him. Her blue eyes glancing at him to see his bottom lip poking out more. Rolling her eyes at him, and standing on her own two feet with the brown leather boots tapping on the floor. The book was sat on the side even though the children whined and complained about going back to there lesson.
“Aw...!” The younger boy whined. His brown eyes looking up from his lap after a second, following his Aunt and walking on the floor with her. The small boy was a boy with his mother's ginger hair, a pair of chocolate brown eyes from his father. Who was the first heir to the Cousland line, though not really favored to take over because of his family blood. “Do we have to, Aunty?” He asked again. His brow furrowing slightly while he scowled at the reminder of his father leaving this morning. He was a smart boy, who still have trouble speaking like the rest of him. However, the blood of a Cousland showed through his eagerness to learn and smart talk. He was often found playing with the wooden sword or playing with Shizuka who never turned him down.
Shizuka closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “Oren,” She started off sternly, giving him a look. “Fergus is leaving today and I want you to spend time with him. Understand? I have duties to attend to and father is waiting for me.” She explained, her hand touching his head and ruffling his hair. Unlike her he was dressed like the other children, a white shirt and brown shorts with his brown vest opened. The simple shoes on his feet were recently made so he could run around and cause as much trouble as he liked.
Oren sighed, his eyes had a glossy look covering them. “I guess..” He mumbled, his hair falling over his face until her soft hand left his hair. Eventually, he nodded and reached up to give his Aunt a kiss before taking off down the courtyard. Leaving the older woman to watch him go, mixed feelings that came with the first day his father had to leave made her a little guilty and she knew it as much as anyone. Letting someone go out to fight these.. Things was hard for anyone to do.
For generations her family the Couslands. Has steward the lands of Highever, earning the loyalty of there people with justice and temperance. When the country and occupied the Orlesian Empire, her father. Bryce Cousland and grandfather served the embattled kings of your land. Today, Shizuka’s brother takes house Couslands banner in service to the crown--not against the men of Orlais. But against the bestial rising in the south. It was going around her country faster than her father or mother could have planned and now a lot of people worry about them being without her father. She understood, he was a great man and father.
The heiress turned on her heel and made her way through the courtyard. The two soldiers stand at the large gate stood at attention and saluted her. Her lip turned upward at this, “Stand at ease men.” She chuckled. Making her way through the gate the shoulders of each man behind her relaxed. Shizuka was the type of woman you could grow to respect and yet there was a powerful presence that came with her. The title never made you powerful, what power came from was the person herself. Instead of using that power, she worked on being herself. A lady and a warrior. Eleanor Cousland wasn’t happy about this and her mother enjoyed bringing her down from her proud image, a lady should be a lady and not both.
“Shizuka Cousland!” The woman in person yelled at her from the entryway of the gates the woman standing talk much as she did. Enough to make herself cringe in waiting, “Your father has been waiting for you with, Howe. How long do you intend to lazing around?” Eleanor continued to lecture her. Her eyes looking at her casual attire, the brow on her forehead wrinkled as soon as she finished. The frown on her wrinkled face made it more amusing in a way, unlike her hair was Grey and tied back into two braided buns to keep everything away from her face. The heart-shaped face she had as well made her stand out more. Those silver eyes piercing into her soul, “what have I told you? Dress before meeting with Howe!” Her hand reached over and tugged her daughter toward the right side of the hall, both walking along the hall until they came to her room where the family section was.
Shizuka frowned deeply, “Mother. This is just a meeting with Howe,” She reasoned on there way inside her room she turned to face her mother and stopped her. Her Icy blue hues narrowed, “What are you planning?”
Eleanor looked around the room, her eyes shifting away from her for a second. “Nothing! Nothing, my dear. I just want you to be at your best.” She told her. Smiling at her while backing toward the door, her hand turned the handle and edged out of the room. “Don’t let them waiting, I want you to meet me and control your dog when you come out.”
“Mother-!” She shouted the door slamming in front of her face before she could get anything out of her. This was just great. First, she had to dress for that pervert, then her mother has something planned and she just knew she was playing matchmaker. Rolling her eyes, turning around where the room she faced was about the size of her training room back in a courtyard away from the men. From the center a few steps were in front of her, leading to the large bed in white and blue sheets that her personal servant and a best friend worked on. When you go to the middle of the room, in front of the bed and down those steps was a dresser with all her make-up and jewels. Just beside that, was a bathroom large enough to be a servant bedroom.
Shizuka shoulders relaxed slightly, walking over to the bed she sat down and fell back on it. Her eyes closing for a minute. The peace and quiet and serenity of her room made her feel calm for once. She loved her home, but at times she wanted to be normal and live a life of a commoner. Each had their downside, but as the title gives she has to give back just as much, and watching her back with every turn was exhausting for her. After a minute she sat up, leaned down to pull the boots off her feet, and then her breeches. The vest on her chest was untied by a string at the back so her arm reached behind and tugged it off before removing this and gathering the dirty clothing to a basket filled with dirty clothing, along with the very puffy shirt she enjoyed.
Her eyes looked at the door before she shook her head. Her mother wouldn’t come back in case she questioned her this time, both of them knew she wouldn’t accept a arrange marriage unless they needed to make her do that. Turning around slightly, she walked to her bathroom door and pushed it open. Enjoy the steam from the ready-made bath before she paced into the warm waters, a loud sigh coming out from her mouth when her body was completely in the water. With the meeting in mind, she hurried to scrub herself clean and enjoy the smell of Andraste’s grace in her warm bath. Then she stepped out and grabbed a towel, drying herself off with a towel and then wrapping her hair and body in one. Leaving the room to sit at her dresser, brushing the long silver locks down her back, the blue taint showing at the very tips.
Eventually, Shizuka walked out of the room with herself dressed and cleaned in a new blue dress. The light fabric left it easy to move around and the choker dress wrapped around her neck and left her back bare. Delicately, the dress was also made to have a couple of layers and fall down her feet. Making it look like any other dress but she could move better than it looked. Her sleeves were detached, and hung on her arm, falling down her wrist as well. On her walk to the main hall, she came to the double door and walked inside to find Rendon Howe waiting.
“I trust, then, that your troops will be here shortly?” Bryce Cousland asked. With his back to them, the fireplace at the front of the room flickering in front of him. From the back, he stood tall with his Grey hair brushed back. The silk suit he wore blinding in with the color of the royal family, much to there distaste Rendon howe followed but he wasn’t here with pure silk or something rich. His own in a velvet color compared to her father's gold outfit.
Her eyes glanced at Howe from the corner of her eyes, standing on the same step as her father while he spoke to his old friend. “ I expect they will arrive shortly,” Howe spoke up. The man in person was like a rat, even his face was shaped like a rat. It made Shizuka cringe every time he looked her over and leered, if he did it one more time she was going to kick him somewhere awful. Their eyes clashed and her own shifted to look at her mother who walked out with a forced smile. “Then we can march tomorrow, I’m truly sorry your grace. This is entirely my fault.”
“No, No!” Bryce shook his head. Turning to face them while his brown eyes saw Shizuka he paid her no mind until he finished. “The appearance of the Darkspawn in the south has us all scrambling.” He turned his head and folded his arms behind his back when he saw Howe. “I only received a call from the king recently, myself.” Walking down from the step near the fireplace. He smiled slightly, “I will send my eldest. You and I can ride tomorrow like the old days.” His eyes followed his old friend who walked up to stand by him.
Howe smirked at this, though he seemed to be thoughtful about it. “True, though we had fewer grey hairs and.. We never fought monsters.” He reminded him, the snarky response normal for someone like him.
“At least the smell will be the same!” Bryce joked, the sound of the door opening at the front forced his eyes away from him. The soldier walking over whispered into his ear, the news causing a genuine smile to come onto his face. “Very well. Send him in,” he told him before turning to face his little girl. “Pup, you decide to join us did you?”
Shizuka smiled politely, “Oren was rather eager to hear his usual story,” She told him. Her eyes shifting to Howe. “Good even, Rendon Howe.” She greeted in a monotone voice, those icy eyes narrowing at him.
“Ah. The lad loves his stories on the grey wardens, speaking of which. Both of you, come and meet my old friend.”
Shizuka turned and looked over the man that silently walked to them. Neither of them saw him or heard him before, even though he had some good heavy armor on there. He was a rouge, she could tell since his body wasn’t covered like her own would be. “Grey Warden?” She questioned, her eyes going to her father again. Her tutor spoke of him often. Her own curious nature made her wonder why he was here. However, those were cut off when Howe spoke up.
“Grey warden?!” The rat’s eyes widened slightly, “This is honor, your grace. But, why would one be here?” He asked. Those eyes nervously shifting between the tall man and then back to his old friend.
Byrce and Shizuka shared a look and then narrowed there eyes, both holding that cold steel look. “He came here without me knowing,” The lord admitted, still holding that same look while his friend looked around him. There was something off about the question, a lot of them had guessed as much but they knew he would never do something now. What fool would? His eyes moved to the man in person. “Duncan. Welcome my friend, this is my little girl Shizuka and my old friend Rendon Howe.” He introduced them, the conversation dismissed for now.
The tall man was dark skinned, though older she would say he wasn’t as old as her father. Though looks could be very deceiving to people, there was a pair of warm brown eyes on his face that looked at her with a dark mist. His long black hair was tied into a ponytail, keeping it away from his face while he wore a silver armor on his front and arms. The brown breeches left for light running, being a rouge she could tell he worked in strength as well. Duncan, bowed and placed a hand over his chest. “Well met, Lady Shizuka and lord Howe.” He greeted in a deep voice.
“ Duncan came here looking for more recruits,” Her father told them his eyes shifting to her own. Shaking his head, they knew she was interested but her voice wasn’t going to speak up. While she loved the thought of going, her home needed her and she lived on keeping her duty first in her life. Selfish people couldn’t be here at this time.
Duncan nodded his head, “Yes. I happened to see one before coming here.” He admitted, “However. If I might be blunt, your daughter is also a wise choice-”
Bryce eyes snapped toward the Grey warden commander. “Honor that might be, this is my daughter were speaking of.” He said, his voice rising slightly while his cold gaze turned to Duncan. “I will not see all my children to war, and Shizuka has no interest in going.” He told him. The girl behind him blinking and shaking her head at them before she bowed slightly, before leaving the room in that frustrating dress.
The day was spent with her going around in this frustrating dress, thankfully on her way she found her best friend looking for her. Secretly asking for news on the Grey warden. “There you are, Shizuka.” A tall man with strawberry blonde hair walked up to her, a slight smile on his face. “Your mother told me your father summoned you. So, I didn’t want to interrupt.” He admitted, those brown eyes sending warmth through many ladies around Highever. Both knew he had a crush on her, yet she couldn’t say a thing about it or even speak of I because of her family. He was a tall man, with short hair brushed in the middle with a bronze armor covering his entire body, and Highever shield. Much like herself, he grew into fighting for her father, both learned how to be a warrior together and sometimes sparred when her father allowed it.
Raising an elegant brow at him, “ Nice to see you too and yes. He is interested in you,” She told him while shaking her head. The thought of the only close friend going and not herself made her feel jealous, but she knew her duty and that was the only thing she cared about.
“He spoke of me?” Gilmore asked, his eyes going wide with a bright smile on his face. Though the more she saw it stretched the more she thought of him grinning. “Well... That’ s good. By the way, your mother is searching for you. Blanca is causing trouble for nan again.” For the most part, both of them spent there day dealing with her dog, her own dog was a little different from the rest. Instead of a normal dog, she had a mixed breed that happened to look like a wolf than a normal dog. He was the lovable sort though, time passed and Shizuka went her own way to her brother's room across from her own.
Oren took her own advice and enjoyed his last moments with his father. A small smile came to her face, her face softened at the scene. “Is there really going to be a war, papa? Will you bring me back a sward?” The man in the room had brown hair, and the darkest brown eyes she had ever seen on someone. Her brother, Fergus was like the black sheep but neither of them fought as everyone assumed. If anything, he was the best thing in this family and she loved him. Everyone knew she was father’s little girl though and that wouldn’t change.
Fergus chuckled, “ That’s sword Oren. And I will get the mightest sword I see, I promise.” Standing in the armor of there country, with his Cousland Shield and sword. He stood proudly again and brought his hand to his son's head for a second. Ruffling his hair a little, until he saw his sister. “My dear sister, I hear you're causing trouble again.”
“Well, not all of us can be perfect. Brother,” Shizuka mused, a grin stretching along her face when she walked over. Kneeling in front of Oren, and picking him up so he was on her waist.
The woman beside her brother was someone he married, without her mother and father knowing. It was amusing, but she was a wonderful lady, not one could blame him. She had red hair which matched her sons and her eyes were a brilliant green. “ I wish victory was indeed so certain,” Orana spoke, her hands folded in front of her lap, anyone could see she worried for her husband greatly.
“Don’t scare the lad, love. I will be fine,” Fergus assured, “Now put on a smile and wish me luck.”
“I do hope you plan on saying goodbye, before leaving.” A female voice suddenly said, Eleanor and Bryce, coming into the room with a smile on there face. Turning her eyes to Shizuka, “You should go and sleep, my dear. I have to leave in the morning and you should be up to say goodbye and take on the day.” She said. Ushering her to go, with Bryce following Shizuka. His hand touching her shoulder.
Shizuka was lead to her room, standing at her door when her father turned to go back. She turned around and frowned. “Father! Is it really wise to go like this?” She asked him, her brow furrowing.
Bryce turned, his eyes going wide at her sudden shout. Seeing the concern on her brow, his face softened slightly, walking back to her he placed his hands on her shoulder. “It is when the king demands it. This isn’t a picnic my dear, we are going to war and I may not come back this time.”
“Father..” The heiress frown deepened, the blue in her eye darkened with a glossy shine to them.
He smiled at her and urged her into her room. “Don’ worry my dear, think positive and I will be back before you know it.” Her father assured before closing the door on her and turning on to find his wife and lead her to bed.
That was the last time she would be seeing them, she should have known or wished she had known. Maybe she could have had a fighting chance, looking after her own country and she failed without even trying. How could she ever forgive herself? Hours passed, no one had any idea that the men were coming that night, and coming on a couple of hours Shizuka woke up at the sound of barking and someone knocking on the door. “Blanca?” She called. The wolf’s ear twitched and flickered before it continued barking. Closing her eyes, and rubbing her face with her hand she jumped off the bed and quickly pulled on her armor and clothes. When she was ready her hand reached for the door and something red and brown tackled her down to the ground. Knocking the wind out of the warrior herself she opened her eyes to find Oren. “...O-Oren!?”
The boy she loved as if her own laid on her chest, a sword coming out of the back. Shizuka’s eyes slowly widened, “Oh maker.. Baby, what happened!?” Her hands quickly turned him and looked at the pale face of her nephew.
Oren slowly opened his eyes slightly, but they were glazed over - she could just see the life going away from him. “A-Aunty..? Why is it so dark? I saw some mean men.. Then.. Then I ran here. Did I save you? Am I like father?”
Her eyes closed tightly, burning behind her eyes forcing one tear to slip down her face. Her hands trembled and touched his face, leaning down with her snow White hair tainted in blood. “..Y-You are my hero, baby... Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise..” She whispered brokenly, her voice cracking at the end. Her face buried into his neck, a silent cry coming from her chest.
Blanca suddenly barked loudly, pouncing on a man who held a bow and arrow and clamping down on his arm. Alerting the white-haired woman. Those steel cold eyes narrowing down on them, “Kill him, boy.” Shizuka ordered the sick sound of his arm snapping made him cry his pain. Standing and laying Oren down gently, she walked over there calmly and raised the sword in her hand before she plunged it in his heart.
“Shizuka!? Oh- Howe’s men!?” Her mother ran out to meet her, her face paled slightly when she came to see her with blood in her hair. Then her eyes landed on Oren, her face contorting into pain and then anger so quickly. “Oh, my poor boy..” She whispered quietly, her eyes finding Shizuka who quietly wiped the sword on her blue skirt. The outfit she wore fitting for her warrior class.
The cold silence continued on from there, both herself and her mother killed the many men they came to. The rage and emotionless face surprising Eleanor and the servant with them. The first thing they did was go to the treasury and get the family sword and shield. She then swapped it for her old ones and followed her mother to the servant's basement. That was the first time since Oren that she showed emotion, the color from her face drained as she kneels before her father. “Father... Howe, He?”
Bryce struggled to keep himself from staying awake for them. His entire body was covered in blood, while he held his side from bleeding out too quickly. “H-Howe..” He choked, his eyes landing on his young girl. “Oh pup..” His eyes softened, his eyes glossing over with tears that slowly fell down his face. He knew he wouldn’t see her grow up anymore or marry. “My darling girl..” He whispered.
Shizuka's eyes teared up, “N-No... No! I’m not leaving without you or mother!” She shouted. Shaking her head at his words, or what would have come next. How could they ask that? This wasn’t right. She should fight with them here. The blood on her face was smeared with the fighting, but when she saw him it was enough to make her break.
“You have to, Shizu,” Eleanor said, kneeling beside Bryce with her bow and arrow drew and ready for any bastard that came through. However, what came through was Duncan instead.
Duncan looked grim. “My lord. The grounds are covered, we won’t have much time I can take your daughter if you agree. “ his brown eyes shifting to Shizuka who looked confused. He had pity for her, but he couldn’t go easy on them. He did come for someone and he needed it.
“What? No, father!-”
Eleanor shook her head, “Shizuka. Go, you must live and kill that bastard. Find your brother and go with Duncan. You will do great things and this is not your ending.” Her voice trembled, but it was strong and neither of them could budge from the floor. When Duncan grabbed her arm and dragged her out, the door broke down and she shoots her arrows at the men trying to kill them. Gaining Duncan and Shizuka time so they could run. It was the last time she ever saw them, but she took her servant and friend with her.
" This isn't a bloody fairytale! We don't have a happy ever after, not like those stories and even then. Is our happiness the thing we want at that time? "
" She was the blizzard waiting to burst forward like a storm. Readying her sword for the kill I don't think I ever saw her flinch during our first fight. I couldn't want anything more in a woman - And only I can see behind that Icy mask."