|The Duty of Honor|
|Summary:||Hardwicke teaches Patrek about the less fun aspects of honor.|
|Date:||January 3, 2011|
|Related Logs:||The whole Ironborn invasion arc.|
|Roof Terrace — Four Eagles Tower|
|This is open to the air except for the rookery at the opposite end of the open walkway. Parapets and crenellations are about.|
|January 3, 289|
Dusk is falling on another day of siege at the Roost, and a long day of weapons training for the smallfolk has finally ended. Hardwicke has seen to other of his duties as well, before finally retreating for a moment's solitude on the roof. He watches the distant, smoky glow of what was once Tall Oaks with a grim set to his jaw. His arm, at least, is out of his sling and looking well enough.
Hardwicke's solitude doesn't last for very long as a small figure makes its way up on the roof. Patrek has a breastplate on, but he's foregone the brigadine he's worn pretty much day in and day out since the Ironborn attacked. He stares out toward the place where the burning of Tall Oaks makes, from this distance, a glow that would be pleasant if it weren't so ominous.
Hardwicke glances down at the boy, his gaze sliding to take in this detail and that of the Mallister youth. "My lord," he greets him quietly.
"Captain," Patrek returns with a small nod, but without actually looking away from the distant blaze. "How long has it been burning, now?" he asks quietly.
"A whole day now, I think," Hardwicke replies, his gaze returning to the fire bright in the distance. "They'll burn the entire forest if they're not careful." His shoulders rolling in a jerk of frustration, he spits his anger against the stone.
"Perhaps that's their intent," Patrek suggests with a small frown. "I hope some made it away to safety before the fires began." He chews on the inside of his bottom lip. "They would have known their land better than the savages who seek to burn it away."
Hardwicke turns his gaze once more to the youth, something quiet in the study of his eyes. "Perhaps," he finally says, his voice gentling for the boy. "We can hope, my lord."
"Yes," Patrek agrees with a small nod. "We must hope, Captain. We must keep hope alive for everyone here, or all is already lost."
"I certainly hope that you keep it, my lord. It is easier for the young." Hardwicke strokes a hand along his beard, his worn expression wearying. "How fares my Lord Terrick?"
"As well as he might," Patrek answers, stepping closer so that he can stand more properly beside Hardwicke. "I am doing what I can to lessen his burden, but much of it only he can carry."
"As is his duty." Hardwicke rests his hands at the small of his back, his carriage drawn straight and upright in habitual solidity. "And what of you, my lord?"
"I wish I was older and larger and stronger and greatly skilled in the knightly arts," Patrek answers with quiet determination. "But, being what I am, instead, I wish for the luck of the seven and a chance to avenge this insult on the lands my family protects."
The twist of Hardwicke's smile is wry and a bit stark, but not without some grudging approval. "You've got some spine on you, my lord," he says. "You've done well."
For all the solemn talk, that bit of praise has Patrek looking over at Harwicke and smiling brightly, openly delighted with the compliment that comes from such a surly source. "Thank you, ser. So've you."
"Aye, well." Apparently it is harder to flatter Hardwicke. "Don't let it go to your head."
Patrek gives a small sniff, the smile fading again as his hands clasp at the small of his back and the boy stands a little straighter. "No, ser," he agrees, returning his attention to the darkening sky and the distant flames.
Hardwicke sighs out a slow breath. "You're too young to waste your time staring at fires you can't put out," he tells Patrek.
"And what of you?" Patrek asks. "How old do you have to be, before you're allowed to want things you can't have?"
"Everyone wants things they can't have, my lord," Hardwicke says in a quieter voice.
"How do you know?" the boy asks. "How can you tell between the things you can't have and the things you must fight for?"
Brow furrowing, Hardwicke studies the young man. "I think you'll have to be a bit clearer, my lord."
"I mean…" Patrek falls quiet a moment to consider his words, "I mean, sometimes you want something, but there's so many things it the way of it, it's near impossible. And you give up. But then, all the best songs and stories, they're about people who didn't. So there have to be times when you're… when you're not supposed to give up at all." He blinks, peering over at Hardwicke. "Don't there?"
Hardwicke tips his head as he listens, and remains silent for a long while afterwards as he considers. "A man's duty is to his honor, and the honor of the people he serves. He must learn when his desires serve his honor or just his heart. The stories of men who didn't give up—" He stops and considers. "Sometimes a man is left with nothing but his honor, and nothing to hold him from dedicating his life to it. But usually, there are always duties left. Responsibilities. You don't abandon them for glory. So the question is: do you want this thing for you, or for the people you serve?"
The Young Lord Mallister is silent for a stretch of time as he considers this before nodding slowly. "I understand," he replies at length. "Thank you, Captain."
"Good," Hardwicke says, gruffly approving. "You've a life of thinking of others ahead of you. Get used to it now."
"Aye, ser," Patrek replies, staring out at the fire as the darkness of the now-indigo sky makes it seem all the brighter. "Think I might watch a little longer. Even if I am too young."
"Well." Hardwicke squints out at the distance. "Learn from it, I guess."