The team’s identity and story checked out with Command Sgt. Balthazar. Although fantastical, they had enough evidence to go with their good names that their account of the last year was accepted, and they were welcomed back to Ralspur and the Watch with open arms. After a few days of rest, and getting to know the newly-enlarged Ralspur, with its new residents and buildings, the team was informed that they’d been reassigned, to Hanlowell, to serve as the recently-crowned Count Symon’s personal guard.
Reluctantly, they departed for the regional seat and arrived several days later, after an uneventful trip. Promoted to Sergeant, then installed as the ‘Fist’ of the county, and given new uniforms and insignia, the team settled in as Symon’s guard, keeping his household secure, accompanying him on trips and in his daily business, and getting to know the city. The Market section was a pit of crime and filth, and it was the team’s desire to clean it up. The Count said he’d consider it. Otherwise, things were calm and uneventful until an obviously-annoyed Count informed them that they’d been ordered back to Ralspur for some errand. Although it was not a permanent change, it irritated the young Count, who obviously wanted them to stay with him. Despite his irritation, his excellency did give the team a choice to follow the request – that’s more how he framed it – or not.
Osweald took it upon himself to clear up the air by trying to stare down the young Count, and informing him that they – not just him, but certainly the entire team since he clearly knows their hearts and minds better than they do – never wanted this lame job in the first place and that they were forced to come here.
Linfors attempted to frame the dwarf’s stinging, totally unsolicited rebuke in more positive terms, and fell flat on his face, rhetorically, so stunned by Osweald’s sudden change of demeanor that he was.
The Count, to his credit, did not explode immediately; rather, he stormed off to his personal quarters, likely insulted and, possibly, hurt, by those in whom he had invested so much esteem. It was suggested that the team leave, immediately, in order that things could calm down before they sought to repair the vast damage done by their foolish, gruff companion’s comments.
Linfors, stunned to silence, quickly penned a letter to the Count as an apology, and made ready to depart with the others. He was deeply torn by his sense of allegiance: Balthazar and Ralspur were his first real leader and home. And yet the Count had truly demonstrated such trust and esteem, and had provided them with an incredible opportunity to make a difference and move up. There’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of an opportunity you’ve worked for, father always said.
And so with a heavy heart, Linfors unpacked his travel bag and made sure his uniform was in order. He burned his first letter in the fireplace of the team’s common room, and penned another, consisting of only the following:
To my esteemed Count,
I have no words to cover for those of my squad mate. All I can say is that, with utter certainty, they do not represent my view of my work here, and for you. I have decided to stay here, as your personal guard, in keeping with my orders and your needs. I will leave only if ordered to do so. I speak only for myself, and humbly ask that I be considered as an individual, based on my work and words, and not those of others.
With that, Linfors bid farewell, good luck, and a swift return to Jacen and Cohen. He could not bring himself to even face the dwarf, so disgusted was he with the betrayal of his words.
He watched from the steps of the keep as the other(s) rode off, and to turned to resume to his post.